Cooking Extravaganza Menu – 1/22/11
Emily and I had one of our cooking extravaganzas last night. We call them Smitten Kitchen nights because they started out as a way for us to cook the Smitten Kitchen recipes that we’d been eyeing. But there are a lot of recipes we’ve both got bookmarked, so the Smitten Kitchen night has evolved into a general-purpose cooking extravaganza night.
Emily, smartypants that she is, suggested that we post our cooking extavaganza / Smitten Kitchen night menus in advance of publishing each of the recipes. That way you guys could see what we make together all in one place, rather than figuring it out just by noting which recipes are posted by “Emily and Amanda.”
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting these recipes for your reading and culinary pleasure. Let us know if there’s one that you just can’t live without and we can try to bump it to the top of the to-do list.
1. Restaurant-style salsa. My parents raised me right, which is to say that they raised me to say please and thank you, to study hard, and to be hard-core about my salsa. I was surprised by how much I liked this salsa recipe. It was really the perfect thing for us to snack on while we cooked, because it stayed fresh and cool and yummy even after several hours out in the open.
2. No-bake Chewy Rocky-Road Granola bars. I had some quick oats to use up because they were the only type the drug store had in stock last time I had an oatmeal craving. Most granola bar recipes call for old-fashioned oats and require baking in the oven. I’m sure that’s fantastic, but I liked the ease of this no-bake recipe. And while a few bits crumbled off of the granola bars when I was cutting them, that was ok because the crumbs made for a great snack while we were cooking.
3. Black Bean Soup with Toasted Cumin Yogurt Topping: This was the perfect recipe to christen my new slow-cooker and it’s one of the most flavorful vegetarian soups I’ve had. Not that I care about keeping it vegetarian, but Emily’s all ethical and kind-hearted and hates the idea of killing Bambi for food, so we stick to vegetarian and pescatarian recipes when we cook together.
4. Shrimp Etouffee: My family’s Cajun and one of my favorite Cajun dishes is etouffee. One of the key ingredients is paprika, and when I told Emily how much I’d love to try making it with the amazing paprika she got in Hungary, she suggested that we make a pescatarian-friendly version for our next cooking extravaganza. We used her homemade vegetable stock and her amazing Hungarian paprika, and we ordered Gulf Coast shrimp from my favorite online source of Gulf Coast products. Since we made a double-batch (and used very tiny, flavorful shrimp), it took us hours to de-vein all the shrimp, even using the awesome shrimp cleaner/de-veiner that the beloved carnivore got me for Christmas. But it was worth it. And my grandfather gave me permission to share all of his etouffee-making tips with you guys!
5. Apple Tart with Cheddar Crust: Emily and I are huge galette/tart fans. I mean huge. It’s not hard to be a fan, since basically anything tastes good when encased in a yummy crust. Well, not absolutely anything but a lot of things taste amazing in tart/galette form. One Smitten Kitchen / cooking extravaganza night last fall, Emily and I made Smitten Kitchen’s apple and cheddar scones. We fell in love with them. So we thought that an apple tart with a cheddar crust would taste delicious, and we were right. Beloved carnivore was super skeptical when I told him about this, and he’d never heard of people putting cheddar cheese (instead of ice cream) on apple pie. I however, know that that used to be quite common. I probably learned about that while watching the Golden Girls or I Love Lucy. Anyway, I’m right, he’s wrong, and I love it! Maybe I’ll make him one of these the next time he comes to town, just to prove him wrong to his face . . . Ooh, what a scary threat.
6. Lemon Cranberry Scones (no picture? oops!): We always make scones to save for later, as you know. We made a batch of the lemon cranberry scones we told you about a while back, but I forgot to take pictures! Oh well. Also, while making them, Emily discovered that I’d left out the flour in the list of ingredients when I originally wrote up the recipe. Double oops. It’s now fixed. Lastly, we discovered that it is better to chop the cranberries by hand than to chop them in a food processor. Chopping them in the food processor released a lot of juice, which made the dough harder to work with.
We always learn lessons when we cook, especially when we cook a lot of things all at once. Yesterday, we learned a few things. The most important lesson is that one should wear long sleeves when handling a tart pan with a removable bottom, or one could get burned. Luckily, I got burned in exactly the same place I already had a burn, and also I had aloe vera around.
We sat down to dinner at 8:30, even though we hadn’t started cooking till 1:30 or so. Those of you who know us well know that this is amazing. Normally during a cooking extravaganza, we don’t sit down to dinner until 10:30 or 11. Once it was even later because we somehow decided we’d be able to do a cooking extravaganza on a weeknight. That worked out deliciously, but it was definitely a late night.