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Everything posted by Malawry

  1. I serve cheese between the entree and dessert. Actually, if the entree is anything at all rich, I like the progression to be more like: starter, entree, salad, cheese, dessert--the salad helps refresh the palate between the entree and the cheese.
  2. Imagine my delight when I discovered yesterday that the Costco in Frederick, MD, my "home Costco," had replaced soft pretzels with churros on their menu! I had to have one and was fortunate to score a specimen fresh out of the fryer. It was crusted with tons of cinnamon-sugar and was both crisp and soft-yeasty. Made a great dessert after my standard hot dog meal. I think this is the only Costco I've seen in the DC metro area that carried churros.
  3. I thought Topaz only offered small plates. I know that was the case back when they opened. Fine for a snack, not so fine for dinner.
  4. Malawry

    serrano ham

    I had some serrano and manchego hanging around from a tapas class I taught recently, so last night I made a risotto for dinner and added the ham, the cheese and a mess of frozen peas. It was most excellent! Serrano is also a perfect addition to bechamel fritters, if you want to make something more complicated. BTW, membrillo is often available in Hispanic markets, or mixed in with Hispanic foods in mainstream markets. I think Goya makes a quince paste that comes in a round, flat can. I bought both the manchego cheese and the serrano ham I used for my class at Trader Joe's.
  5. Or you can always rent. Rentals are not that expensive if you're just having 12 or 20 people over for dinner, and they'll fit in your car. It's when you start renting tables, chairs, linens, chafing dishes, serving platters, salt and pepper shakers, butter ramekins and so on and so forth that the cost gets exorbitant. Renting tableware for most dinner parties is very affordable. And many rental companies allow you to return dirties!
  6. Malawry

    serrano ham

    Wrap it around breadsticks. Drizzle with olive oil. Add a scrape of black pepper. A perfect canape!
  7. I think homemade lollipops would be very fun.
  8. bump So now I'm in Bavila's position--almost 34 weeks pregnant, and about to start stocking the freezer for the baby's arrival. We've agreed to bump up our food budget in March to support the frozen-food project, so I'm probably going to hit Costco soon and get ready to start working. My husband is doing a basic low-carb diet, so the best dishes are those that contain little to no carb content. I can always boil some pasta or rice to go alongside for myself. We already have some things in the freezer--stuffed cabbage, gumbo-rama, some cooked chicken picked off whole stockmaking chickens for things like chicken salad or soup. And other things are no-brainers for me as they are dietary staples for us--turkey chili, meatballs, corned beef, seasoned cooked chicken wings. I have a huge supply of chicken thighs that I'd particularly welcome ideas for, plus two whole chickens and tons of chicken stock. I'd also like suggestions for some braised type dishes, particularly using beef or pork cuts that I can source from Costco. Are there fish dishes that freeze well? Some good soup ideas would also be welcome, especially main-course type soups that don't rely on beans or grains.
  9. Yes, I am most interested in advice for newbies, but we non-newbies can all learn from each other as well. I am not so good with setting the mood via lighting and table decor, for example, so advice like Jaymes and Marlene have delivered on those counts is very helpful to me. The last time I entertained was when my mother and my best friend were up last weekend for my baby shower. On Friday night I served a salad with five-spice pecans and a shallot-sherry vinaigrette, tomato soup, seared duck breast with poire william sauce and pears, mashed potatoes and butter-balsamic asparagus, and chocolate-covered cheesecake bites for dessert an hour later. Sunday morning, the other meal I prepared, I served scones, scrambled eggs and sliced comice pears with juice and coffee. Neither took much out of me since I was able to MEP much in advance, and my mom came in to help me plate up the entree Friday night. But I'd hesitate to tell people to make something like a seared duck breast if they're cooking for 8 or trying hard to impress somebody--it requires last-minute fussing.
  10. Thanks for all your great responses, people. I personally am in the "impress them" camp, but I'm teaching a class in how to give a dinner party soon and think that this isn't the best advice for a dinner-party newbie. I'm working over a short menu to teach during a class on this subject, and I am definitely a big believer in doing as much in advance as possible. I agree with Susan in FL that some sample dinner-party menus would be helpful What have you prepared while entertaining lately?
  11. I've been having friends and family over for dinner for so long that I can hardly remember what it was like to have a hard time planning these things. Even in college I had friends over for dinner sometimes and enjoyed hamming it up! So I'm wondering what you would tell somebody who didn't know so much about how to give a dinner party if they wanted to learn more about it. I'm referring to the whole enchilada here: 1. How do you set a menu? 2. How do you decide who to invite? 3. How do you make the table look nice? 4. How do you plan things so that you don't spend all night in the kitchen? 5. How do you keep the evening flowing smoothly? I have my own opinions on what makes a dinner party special, but I'm more interested in yours right now.
  12. The fritters recipe comes from the Jose Andres book, so I can't really reprint it here (copyright issues and all). In sum, though, you make a super-thick bechamel--blonde roux with milk added...add some diced serrano ham (or leftover cooked chicken, or some sauteed mushrooms, or whatever) and let it cool to room temperature. Roll it into small balls or little tater-tot shapes. Three-way bread them: first seasoned flour, then egg wash, then seasoned bread crumbs (I like to use panko). Fry in 340 degree vegetable oil until browned, about 2-3 minutes. They are awesome, I wanted to do them last Tuesday but thought they might take too much time for the class period I have at hand for the community college classes.
  13. Sherry vinegar can be hard to find, indeed. I'd probably use some red wine vinegar if I couldn't source the sherry sort. Sherry vinegar is so good, I'd probably order it online if I couldn't find it in stores...it makes the best vinaigrettes IMO. Romesco sauce has been a passion of mine since I first made it for the dinner party I mentioned years ago in this thread. I can't get enough of it. It has so many flavors in it yet it transcends each of them and turns into something completely different. Actually, tonight's pre-class dinner was some bread fried in olive oil and dunked in leftover romesco from Tuesday. (I meant to cook some asparagus too, but ran out of time.)
  14. Ooh! Ooh! Mr Kottah! Brown butter BRICKLE! With nuts!
  15. Darcie, will you be attending any of these ramp events? I would like to go to at least one this year, but it all depends on when my son is born and how soon thereafter we're up for a car trip. Now that I live in West Virginia, I feel duty-bound to explore the world of ramps!
  16. So I have very little experience with Spanish food, though I do enjoy eating tapas in restaurants every so often and I also enjoy messing around with tapas type foods at home. I don't pretend to be an expert in these foods, but they are fun to cook and even more fun to eat. In the last month, I've somehow ended up teaching two classes on tapas to other people...one was a private class for a group of people who work together (as a sort of team-building exercise/belated office holiday party), the other I did via a community college where I teach regularly. Snowangel asked me to do a recap of what I did in these classes, so I thought this looked like an appropriate thread to bump up with information on my tapas classes. One thing I really like about tapas is that the ingredients and techniques tend to be fairly simple, yet the flavors are absolutely huge. I try to spend a little time at the beginning of all my classes talking about typical ingredients for the cuisine we're preparing, but I could spend hours talking about the Spanish ingredients for tapas if I didn't keep myself in check. Is there anybody who doesn't find saffron, sherry, peppers, serrano ham, almonds, lemons, blood oranges, olives and olive oil alluring? (If you dislike those items, maybe you're reading the wrong thread...or taking the wrong class, if you've attended one of my recent tapas classes...) I pass some of these things around and talk about their place in Spanish cuisine and how they are used in various tapas. Then, it's on to the cooking. The two things my students have been astonished by in these classes: 1. Most tapas are really quick and easy to put together. so you can easily assemble a menu of 5 to 10 small plates for your friends and spend less time in the kitchen than you might for a more traditional three-course dinner party. 2. Tapas can use a helluva lot of olive oil. We went through 4 of the small bottles of Goya EVOO on Tuesday night (the market only had the smallest size for some reason). I don't make anything outrageous or truly difficult for these classes, but some things take a while and so I am sure to start them first. Slicing potatoes and getting them into the olive oil to poach for the tortilla espanola is usually my first step. As I pour oil into the pot to cover, I like to look at my students and say, "Do not be afraid." (I also say this when salting pasta-cooking water in a class, or when completing a beurre blanc sauce...) Then it's on to braising white beans if I'm doing slow-cooked beans with chorizo as a tapa, and then roasting tomatoes for tomato bread with anchovies. Here's the menu from the private class I taught in January: Assorted marinated olives and pickles Tomato bread with anchovies Breadsticks and Serrano ham Endives with soft cheese and clementines Spanish chicken salad with olives and pistachios Hot Tapas: Asparagus with Romesco sauce Bechamel fritters Sausages with braised white beans Spinach with pine nuts and currants Tortilla Espanola (potato omelet) Gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp) Plus lime squares, Catalan rice pudding and sangria. And the shorter menu from Tuesday's class: Tomato Bread with Anchovies Breadsticks with Serrano Ham Asparagus with Romesco Sauce Spinach with Pine Nuts and Currants Tortilla Espanola (Potato Omelet) Gambas al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp) Manchego Cheese and Quince Paste One nice thing about both of these menus is that there are foods that can be ready to eat quickly, like the breadsticks with ham or the cheese. People are more receptive to watching somebody cook, helping out and asking questions if they've had a small snack to sate their hunger. I have found Jose Andres new cookbook Tapas to be indispensable in planning these classes. I have also used some of the Penelope Casas books and some threads here on eGullet, along with restaurant menus, to help me figure out what I want to prepare. What tapas do you like to cook?
  17. I toured the B&J factory in Vermont while on vacation there last December. They said the Cool Brittania flavor caused them no end of problems--something about the fruit pieces never came out consistently, and they pitched (well, gave away to workers) many many batches of the stuff. This helped lead to its demise. I'd like to see a bitter trifecta ice cream: chocolate/coffee/caramel, dark versions of each flavor somehow combined. No kid stuff.
  18. Even though my blog is officially over, since it is still open I wanted to share my Mashed Potato story with you all. Thanks for everybody's help with it! Comfort in a Bowl
  19. I think Cap Grille might be the best bet too, but I am wondering how far $250 will go there if you're feeding 3 adults and 2 teens. I think Georgia Brown's has the most interesting menu of all those choices (all of them are really tame options), but their food is not very good in my experience--it tends to be oversalted, and I have a high salt tolerance.
  20. We keep the cat food on the ground level and the litter boxes upstairs and in the basement, so the cats have to get at least a LITTLE exercise, but yes, Maggie is rather...corpulent. Lately we've been taking bets on who has the bigger belly, me or her. I ended up eating PB&J and a comice pear for a late dinner, as predicted. I'm starting to crave another hot dog and might have one for dinner again tomorrow before my class. You're not missing much by my blog ending, because this week is pretty much a repeat of last week with a midwifery appointment thrown in. I'm off to write my MEP, shopping and pack lists for the tapas class to round out my somewhat lazy day. Thanks for being so responsive to my posts, ya'll! Time for the next blogger to take over...
  21. Oh yeah, and here's what will probably be my last photo of this blog. I made my husband dinner as I usually do on Monday nights...he has an evening rehearsal at school on Mondays and normally doesn't have time to come home to eat. Tonight's dinner was some turkey burgers, celery sticks with leftover spinach dip, a few slices of leftover cheddar from the shower for a snack later on, and a little dish with ketchup and relish to spread on the turkey burgers. I have still eaten very little today, though I am considering going upstairs and noshing on the last of the comice pears Abi brought to the house this weekend. I should probably eat something with protein, but I suspect a PB&J sammich on whole wheat is about all the culinary energy I can muster at the moment. I'm in a sort of stasis, conserving my foodie reserves for tomorrow night's class.
  22. I caved and took some pix of my three existing "daughters"--the cats that own us--since there was demand and it seems like an obligatory component of the foodblogs. They are extremely camera-shy while eating (except for Diana, who would only show her ass since her head was buried in the food bowl), but they submitted while at rest on three different couches in our household... I can tell them apart, but you might have trouble. Maggie and Snuggles are sisters from the same litter, while Diana is about 3 years younger than the other two. The sisters were my husband's cats, while Diana is my Jewish American Princess kitty...they get along okay or at least live under an uneasy truce most of the time. Snuggles: Magnificat (aka "Maggie") Diana (aka "Gump"--not the brightest bulb)
  23. My spouse still doesn't eat much beef, and he won't touch a hunk of beef in the form of something like a steak...he WILL eat corned beef, and anything made with ground beef is ok. He snarfed the leftovers from the braised short ribs I wrote about for the Journal-News last month. I have a hard time figuring out what he will eat sometimes so I just have to ask him about it. He's been the driving force behind a lot of culinary housekeeping for the last few years...when I started eating meat again, I respected his preference for maintaining a vegetarian kitchen. As for updates on me and Baby Colin...there probably won't be much posted about it here on eGullet, as it's not really germane to food. However, if you want to keep up with me and my family on a level beyond our culinary life, I maintain a personal blog at LiveJournal. Feel free to check in there. There are some other eGullet folks over on LJ too.
  24. The newspaper owns rights to my columns, so I wouldn't be comfortable reprinting them here without permission--and my editor is certainly long-gone for the day by this hour. (And this blog is slated to end tonight!) However, my columns usually appear online and stick around for a week or so when they are published. This Wednesday, go to the Journal-News site and click on "living" on the left sidebar. Hopefully, you can read my article then. As for my handouts...somebody asked about that earlier and I never got back to them, sorry. I use a combination of my own recipes and copyrighted recipes from books in my handouts, and I credit the books I use on the handout itself. So I can't paste my whole handout right here, but I can paste some of it. I did not include a recipe for the serrano ham and breadsticks (just wrap pieces of ham around breadsticks, drizzle with olive oil and scrape some pepper over it and you're done) or for the manchego with quince paste (which is about as complicated). Here is the brownie recipe from last week's chocolate class: I went over ganache verbally, but did not give a written recipe since proportions tend to change depending on how you will be using the ganache. Here is the text of the handout from last Thursday's "Basics of Cooking" class. I make my students learn to write their own proportions on their handouts rather than giving measurements for ingredients.
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