Wednesday, May 24, 2006

"Happiest" Part 2

Due to readers' requests, I am posting some pictures from this past Mother's Day visit with my mom and dad.

014_14 As part of my mom's gift, I got her tickets for Jersey Boys. This is a family photo just before the May 17th Wednesday night performance (click to enlarge).

I am not a huge fan of Broadway musicals, but this show was Clintonexcellent. And it just so happened that after we were seated, former President Clinton and Chelsea made their way to their seats about six rows in front of ours.

My mom also had a very special Mother's Day proper. That's because we were invited to celeLori_eatbrate Mother's Day with my photographer Lori Golias and her family and other friends.  Lori cooked cornish game hens, mashed pototoes, grilled vegetables and more. It was delicious!

Here we at dinner. Lori transformed her living room into a swanky dining hall. Maybe the most interesting fact about my Momnyc2Dadpeachparents' trip is that Geogiathey drove from Texas. They wanted to take the opportunity to see the coast along the way. So they   took a week and enjoyed themselves, making stops in Alabama, Savannah, the Carolina's and Atlantic City. We also enjoyed some time together in NYC. Ya'll come again soon, ya here?

Monday, May 22, 2006

YOU Cook?

Despite that my closet is stuffed full of clothes, shoes, accessories and who knows what else because I can't really get to it all, I've always been a true minimalist in the kitchen. Ever since I opened the fridge of a male friend ten years ago and found only an orange and a bottle of champagne, I've wanted such Zen. Though I've never been there, honestly, right now, even after a near week-long parental visit, if you opened my fridge you'd find only (wait let me go look)Fridge water, a tomato, left over sushi, radishes (from my dad's garden- I will allow these in my space anytime,) milk, parmesan cheese and a few left-over items headed for the trash in a few minutes.

My cabinets are pretty much the same way. Besides, I have a small kitchen, so I have to keep it this way. I just measured and its 49 by 73. That is inches. It just enough room for a small fridge, stove, sink and 16 by 25 inches worth of counterspace. However, over the past year, I've started cooking. I've always been able to make the staples: scrambled eggs, broiled frozen chicken breasts, spinach and mushroom quesadillas, guacamole, and my specialty: warmed and spiced up left-overs. But since I've been doing the "What's Cooking" show on News 12 Connecticut, I've learned how to make some incredible dinners. Think about it. These chefs that come on the show have to carry all the ingredients to the studio. Then they have put the dish together within about ten minutes and then clean up to make room for the next chef. For the most part they keep it simple. But you know if you watch, these famous and skilled chefs from southwestern Connecticut and New York City consistently whip up great things. (After a lesson from Morton's, you should try my steaks.)

019_19 However, the one dish that really got me motivated is a Macaroni and Cheese from Carol McManus of Espresso Love on Martha's Vineyard. I've never even liked mac & cheese, much less one that is going to take more effort than opening a box and stirring in some powdered cheese mix. But this recipe is so good. My boyfriend loves it. After I started making it, we've gone to restaurant after restaurant trying to find a better one, and we can't. 020_20 This one is special. Though don't feed it to vegetarians and its not cheap. It does work as the main course, and if you have kids, I'm told they like this kind of stuff. I'll pass along the recipe, but I usually double it- and throw in some extra cheese- a pepper jack. Since I do that I usually substitute one cup of the heavy cream for the cup of milk. I spoke with Carol about my fiddling with her recipe, and she said that is what you should do to make it your own. If you try this recipe, please let me know how it turns out! Oh- and if you have leftover prosciutto, a cook told me to wrap it around a piece of melon and serve as an appetizer. Its good. Also, you can find out when What's Cooking airs every Saturday and Sunday by clicking here.

Macaroni and Cheese with Prosciutto (This French take on mac and cheese has a nice assertive flavor.)

INGREDIENTS:  8 oz. small elbow macaroni ( 2 cups)

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup 2% milk

3 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto, coarsely chopped

1 cup grated Gruyere' cheese

1 cup smoked Gouda cheese

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter 11/7-inch glass baking dish. Cook macaroni in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain well. Wisk 3/4 cup gruyere', 3/4 cup gouda, parmesan, cream, milk, prosciutto and nutmeg in a large bowl to blend. Add macaroni and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle remaining gruyere' and gouda cheese over the top. Bake until cheese melts and macaroni and cheese sets, about 20 minutes. Serve warm.