Pittsburgh in November

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The last time I visited Pittsburgh it was in June 2010. It was hot, it rained, I didn't see much of the city. I do recall our friends' place, the neighborhood, the food.  This time, I got to visit for work, and took a few extra days to catch up with the friends. I stayed downtown, ate a lot of meat, and got to see snow. Let me clarify, it snowed on me! I haven't seen it snow in some time, so this was pretty exciting. The next day the temperature dropped to 19 degrees and my excitement, along with every part of me, froze.
Two delicious meals at The Butcher & the Rye and Meat & Potatoes.
 Downtown was bit sad. But still pretty.
 I spent an afternoon at the Carnegie Museums. There was a lot going on. If you're into dinosaurs, you'd like the place.
Then it snowed, and it was magical. 
 Seafood pie.
Flying fat lady in an apron.

 Keeping warm in Pittsburgh = quality radiator time.
Who knew these existed?
My cute hosts.


Shishito Peppers and Baked Trout

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I had a lot of good intentions to write during the last few weeks, but, I've either been super busy at work, or super not busy at home. This weekend, we decided to stop the day-long naps and do some stuff. And we've had a productive time preparing to host friends and family for the holidays -- plum chutney, preserved lemons, marmalade and potato, leek and corn chowder. A happy day of working in the kitchen together. With so much on our plates, I let go of some of my control issues and even let the husband chop things. 

This meal of shishito peppers and trout was from months ago. I almost shelved it. But, it was deliciously memorable because it was 1) my first time making these peppers, a frightening process and 2) fun to eat, hence I wanted to relive it.

This blog serves for me like a time capsule, and I often take a look back at a certain month in various years to see what we had eaten and how things have changed. It is interesting to be able to reference the documentation of mostly our kitchen life, and take a moment to reflect. 

I have taken the easier route by regularly posting of the Facebook account, but realize I miss writing. I miss hearing the husband talk about sharing the blog posts with his coworkers. I miss the process of chronicling and archiving my food, and thus my life. So I'm making a goal to take time and do this more often. 
The trout was drizzled with olive oil and stuffed with fresh tarragon, lemon and garlic. Seasoned with roasted garlic salt and lots of pepper, I baked it at 350 degrees for about 18 minutes.
Blistered Shishito Peppers

Peanut oil
sea salt
bonito flakes

Fill a large pot or dutch oven with about an inch of oil, and heat until very hot. Add peppers, making sure not to crowd your pan, cover quickly and step back. Things are splattering all over the place. Make sure to wear an apron, and possibly some eye protection. Flip peppers once, they cook very quickly, and place on paper towels. Top with sea salt and bonito flakes.


Video Time: Poetry Night with Galettes

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Poetry Night from KK Housewife Fantasies on Vimeo.

It is only appropriate that this video was completed just in time for the husband's birthday, today. As he's the thespian organizer of this fine evening, and is featured prominently (though a bit creepy perhaps) in this video. 

Happy 32nd, Grego! Many you continue your path to Clooney-esque white hair, to sharing your many passions with others -- be it gardening, sausage-making or baking -- and of course being a creepster in these videos. 


Always keeping the ladies at arms length.


Pumpkins and Chili: 2013 Edition

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This year, my favorite blogs and magazines were all about hosting pumpkin carving parties. We knew carving parties were cool back in 2009. I'm glad everyone else is catching up.

For this get-together I made sooooo much chili, like two huge dutch ovens worth, and I still had barely any leftovers. Next year, I'm going to have to find a giant cauldron.

To change things up, I added a little chorizo and whole chiles in adobe to this version. The chili had a nice smoky spiciness. Topped with fried onions, cheddar and sour cream, it was my best batch so far. I don't know what I'm going to do next year to make it more delicious, but I better start my brainstorming now.
We had seven carvers. There were tiny pumpkins and huge ones. The first and second place winners were the usual suspects, although a few newcomers received an honorable mention. And of course there were a few duds.
Babies love to mess stuff up. I miss the days she could barely sit up.
First place (top), and second place (bottom).

Another pumpkin carving under our belt. Who's ready for Turkey Day?


Fall so Far

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The last few months seemed to have flown by at a super fast pace. Wasn't it just August? And I haven't done a good job of taking photos while I cook. But there's been a lot of cooking, and eating, sprinkled in with interesting fall activities. Below are a few highlights from September on.
We ate at Neptune's Net for the first time. And there's a new Japanese restaurant in town, Osawa. It's pretty sweet, and I saw Tig from Sons of Anarchy there!
This has been the season of sazeracs. We've been drinking them out and at home. Oh, and roasted garlic with sea salt, spread on bread, is amazing.
I've been making lots of Asian soups -- miso, ramen, udon.
 Breakfast of champions -- blueberry ricotta pancakes and bagels.
 Dinners by the fire = lots of grilled cheese.
 First lasagna of the season, loaded with sausage.
 Quick easy dinners, lentils over mashed potatoes and fish chowder.
 Testing turkey recipes on chicken.
 The husband experiments with rolls for Turkey Day.
Oh, and I conquered my fear of keeping my head underwater and finally learned how to swim properly! It's been pretty great, and I'm swimming a whole mile. Is it too late to join the Olympic team?


Wine, with Steaks and Potatoes

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If you've ever been wine tasting, you know that after three wineries, your judgement is clouded in a blissful haze, and all the wines you taste are incredibly delicious, and the people you're with are so funny, and you forget that you promised yourself you'd only buy six bottles during this trip...

Well, on our last trip, the husband's blissful haze included convincing our friends to purchase expensive bottles of wine and promising to cook them dinner -- steak, lamb chops, you name it -- if they brought the bottle along.

When the husband makes food-related promises, it more than likely means I'll be spending time in the kitchen. And on this particular evening, steaks were acquired to accompany a 2006 Kiamie Kuvee -- a rich, smooth, and velvety wine. For this occasion, one of us grilled two rib eyes, and the other, spent quality time in the kitchen cooking the fillet mignon and sides. Unfortunately, I didn't capture the grilled steaks, but here's some photos of my cooking.
 Blue cheese dressing, so easy to make at home, I'm going to do it more often.
 Mashed potatoes with a roasted yam (for color) and A LOT of roasted garlic.
My little steaks cooked in butter with garlic and rosemary.
The wedge. Perfect company for meat and potatoes.

Blue Cheese Dressing
via David Lebovitz
Makes 1 cup, about four servings

4 oz blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
a few turns freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
1/4 cup sour cream, regular or lowfat
1/4 cup  buttermilk (If you can’t get buttermilk, mix one part milk (whole or lowfat) with one part plain yogurt (regular or lowfat) to approximate the taste)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or white wine vinegar
a few drops of red wine vinegar

1)  In a medium bowl, mash the blue cheese with the salt and pepper with the back of a fork until the pieces of cheese are finely broken up.
2) Stir in the chives, sour cream, buttermilk, and lemon juice or wine vinegar until well mixed.

3) Add a few drops of red wine vinegar. Taste, and adjust any of the seasonings to your liking and if the dressing too thick, add a bit more buttermilk.


My First Galette: Tomato, Zucchini, Corn and Chard

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In preparation for Poetry Night (oh yes, there's such an event; we filmed it, so stay tuned for the video), I decided to do a test run for a galette. My plan was to make three galettes for the first annual poetry reading hosted by the husband. And having never made one before, the husband kindly offered to be the taste tester and encouraged me to make one first, for just the two of us. I agreed, but did not appreciate his lack of faith.

After Googling many galette recipes and making myself seriously hungry, I decided to go with one from the Smitten Kitchen. I gathered the last of our summer tomatoes from the garden, picked baby chard, and got to work on making a the dough.

I am not a baker. I actually hate working with flour. It gets all over the kitchen and just bugs me. But, this recipe was very simple and fairly mess free. I made the dough the night before and assembled and baked my galette on a weeknight, in no time at all. And, I actually enjoyed the process. Who knows, maybe me and flour can be friends one day.
 Garden bounty.

The galette was as delicious as it was pretty, with flaky, buttery crust. I immediately began dreaming up all the things I could wrap in this dough. Poetry Night featured three very different fillings.
Tomato-Zucchini Galette
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chill again
1/4 cup plain yogurt or sour cream, I used sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, I had limes on hand, so used lime juice instead
1/4 cup ice water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon coarse Kosher or sea salt
3 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
1 ear corn, cut from the cob (about 1 cup)
1 small (8 ounces) zucchini or summer squash, diced
1 bundle scallions, thinly sliced
2-3 leaves of baby chard, chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water

Dough: Whisk the flour and salt in a large bowl. Sprinkle bits of butter over dough and using a pastry blender or your fingertips, work it into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with the biggest pieces of butter the size of tiny peas. In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add this to the butter-flour mixture. With your fingertips or a wooden spoon, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Pat the lumps into a ball. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour, or up to 2 days.

Filling: To your sauté pan add olive oil, tomatoes, salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes (if that’s your thing) then cover and heat over high heat. Roll the tomatoes around from time to time so that they’ll cook evenly. In a few minutes, the tomatoes will burst a little. When most have, remove lid, turn heat down to medium and add zucchini chunks and chard. Saute for two minutes, until they soften. Add corn and cook one minute. Add scallions, just stirring them in, then turn off heat. Adjust seasonings if needed. Transfer mixture to a large plate and spread it out, so that it will cool faster. You want it cooled to at least lukewarm before assembling the galette.

Galette: Heat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured counter, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. It doesn't need to be perfectly shaped. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle tomato-zucchini-corn mixture with half of Parmesan and spoon the mixture into the center of the dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Sprinkle with almost all of remaining Parmesan, leaving a pinch or two behind for the crust. Fold the border over the filling, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open. Brush crust with egg yolk glaze. Sprinkle glaze with last pinches of Parmesan.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the galette onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.