Monday, June 25, 2007

(Almost) Just like Mom's

So, after all this talk about Crunchy Meat and how it was my most memorable meal, I decided to recreate the whole thing this weekend for the boys. We were all in need of some serious comfort food, and this seemed perfect. It is also surprisingly simple to pull together!

I bought some milk fed veal cutlets and started the most labour intensive, and horribly messy part- the dipping and dunking. I set up 3 bowls. First one was plain white flour with a touch of salt & pepper, second one was a couple of eggs beaten, and the third one was dry bread crumbs with salt, pepper, dried oregano and parsley. I lightly coated each piece of veal with the flour, then dipped in the egg and coated with breadcrumbs. I heated a large frying pan with a bit of vegetable oil (not olive oil, just cause that's how Mama Lucy does it and I wanted to conform to her standards). Cooking in batches, make sure not to overcrowd the meat and cook each side until golden. I suggest making a lot extra so you can have veal sandwiches or veal parmigiano the following day!


I drained them on paper towels for a few minutes, then arranged on a platter and added the final flourish of grated parmigiano reggiano. Ta da.......


Alongside this traditional family meal, I made roasted potatoes and a salad dressed in a simple olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. I cut the potatoes into wedges and drizzled some olive oil, salt, pepper and dried oregano and parsley flakes (I sometimes also add a couple crushed garlic cloves, but omitted them this time). I placed them on my large stone bake sheet and roasted at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes. The amazing thing about the stonewear is I didn't even have to flip them over, they brown evenly on both sides. Perfect for a forgetful person like me.


I was hoping to add some fabulous, home baked treat to complete the meal. I didn't get around to that part, but maybe next time as I'm sure this meal will pop up in my house over and over. It was really good comfort food. The only thing different was that I was serving it to the boys instead of my Mom serving it to me. I think I like it this way too!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Mmmm-muffins!

When I go on holiday, I like to buy a cookbook or two or three. I love to collect them and I always remember where they came from. On my trip last week to Cape Cod, one of the books I picked up was The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion. I've been interested in this book for quite awhile and especially after Ilana has raved about it time and time again. So I picked up not only the book, but also a big bag of the All Purpose Flour and dived into itlast night.

I started with one of my favorite things....muffins! I love muffins, but what's not to love about them? They are easy to make, they can be breakfast, a snack or even dessert, and can house any flavourings your heart desires. They can be sweet or savoury and they can be slathered with butter or jam. I love them as long as they are moist- there is nothing worse than a dry, crumbly muffin.

I began with King Arthur's recipe for Spiced Peach Muffins. I had ripe peaches in the fruit basket and the combination of them with nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon sounded very appealing. They turned out really well. I think jam on these would be particularly nice. You can find the recipe here.




After that, I thought I'd try the cinnamon puffs. They were so simple to make and taste delicious too. Here is the recipe:

King Arthur Cinnamon Puffs

Muffins
3 Cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
5 1/2 TBSP butter melted (2/3 stick)

Topping
1/4 Cup Sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 TBSP butter melted (1/2 stick)





Preheat oven to 350 degrees



For the muffins, whisk together all dry ingredients (not including the toppings). Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients.

In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then add the milk & melted butter. Add the wet mixture to the well in the flour mixture. Stir until evenly moistened (batter may be lumpy). Lightly grease muffin cups. Fill them 3/4 full and bake for 20-25 minutes.

While the muffins are baking, combine the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. When the muffins are done baking, let them cool just enough so that you can handle them. Dip the tops in the melted butter, then into the sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Makes 12 large muffins.









So far I am very happy with the book. Can't wait to try more!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Cape Cod- Part 2/ The Lobster Pot

Last week while in Cape Cod, we had not one, but 2 dinners at 'The Lobster Pot'. It was so good, we went back the very next night for seconds! It is located on Commercial Street in Provincetown and you can watch the boats and the seashore from your seat. It was the ultimate seafood experience!

The kids were happy, especially Camden as he had a HUGE lobster tank to stare at prior to our meal. Glen & I were happy, especially when our meals arrived. For appetizers, I ordered a soft shelled crab that was lightly battered and fried and served on top of a crostini and covered in a tomato red pepper mixture and a light cream sauce. The flavours were incredible! Glen ordered a Lobster avocado cocktail that was unbelievably delicious! Then we were treated to family style large bowl of salad and a condiment tray of 4 house made dressings. I loved the toasted sesame dressing but the citrus dijon one was also pretty good. The selections of breads served alongside had white rolls and also a spicy and sweet pumpkin bread that the kids really loved with a little smear of butter!










Then came entrees! Glen ordered the traditional lobster dinner with a bowl of clam chowder, red potatoes and a corn on the cob (yes, he briefly wore the bib!). I had the same one night, but the second night chose to try the 'Lazy Man's Lobster' option. 5 oz of lobster meat, all shells removed, and baked in a sherry cream sauce and sprinkled with fresh chives.


Everything was delicious. The atmosphere was very casual and perfect for the kids. Service was good, food was heavenly. I wonder how many meals like this I would have to have before getting tired of seafood. Hard to imagine that ever happening.

The Story Behind Crunchy Meat.

Okay, I admit that I have a very difficult time making decisions. Choosing a name for this blog is a perfect example of this. I had trouble finding a name originally, and chose 5 minutes of peace...in the kitchen, but it never felt just right. After sitting on the beach last week, and thinking about my family, my family throughout childhood and now my very own family, I realized some things. I realized that the reason I love cooking so much and making delicious things for the people I love is all because of my Mom. She always managed to keep the house in perfect order with 3 kids and have amazing, comforting meals ready and waiting. There were recurring dishes that she still makes today, but there were also new things she would try. I don't remember anything she served up that didn't taste great.

When I think of my most memorable and comforting meal it includes what my sisters and I call 'Crunchy Meat'. I think if I were to order it in a restaurant, it would be called Veal Milanese, or maybe even a Shnitzel of some kind. Whatever you call it, I like the term crunchy meat to this day. It is a veal cutlet seasoned & breaded then fried in a pan and always served with Mama Lucy's roasted potato wedges and a leafy green salad dressed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I wish I had a picture to insert here, but at the moment I don't. Maybe I will recreate the meal myself and post pictures at a later date.
When my life becomes hectic and I am in need of serious comfort, this is the meal I want most. I have many other favorites, but this one reminds me so much of my Mom. Now I want to recreate those same food traditions and comforts for my boys that my Mom did for us. For me, cooking is my favorite way to do this. I hope Camden, James and Glen will think of home when they smell or taste something familiar from my kitchen.
To sum up the name change of this blog, it's in small part for my own indecision, but for the most part an ode to Mama Lucy and all the memories I have of her in our kitchen.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Cape Cod- Part 1

We have just arrived home after our one week family vacation in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It was as beautiful and peaceful as I imagined, and I am already dreaming about spending every summer there with the boys!


It was an 11 hour drive from Toronto to where we stayed, but it really didn't seem that long at all. The boys were great for the drive (we rented a van that had a dvd player which was a lifesaver!)

We stayed in Truro, which was only a few minutes from Provincetown. The picture above was taken at the docks in Provincetown where we boarded a boat and experienced whale watching. It was amazing! We were so fortunate on our excursion to have seen as many whale sightings as we did (apparently some are not so lucky). They jumped out of the water, flapped their fins and made appearance after appearance! I couldn't help wondering if anyone ever fell off the boat during one of those rides. Needless to say, I held on to the kids for dear life the entire time!


We ate some delicious meals, did some shopping, and explored the beach. I have a lot more to add, but I have mountains of laundry to get through before I get back to work on Monday morning. The Cape Cod story will continue.........




Monday, June 4, 2007

The Pig Party


The porchetta made its appearance at many of our family celebrations when I was growing up. It took a hiatus from gatherings for awhile, but made a welcome comeback this year. My father recently held a party to bring together old traditions with family that gets together all too little these days. It was, for lack of a better term, coined the Pig Party!
Glen and I wanted Camden to be prepared for it, so for weeks we spoke about it and told him we were going to eat pig. It seemed to have worked because he was so excited to see it. He stood patiently beside my father while he meticulously carved away. As time went on, his gaze was more and more intense (as you can see in the picture), while my niece was avoiding even looking at the pig. Finally he blurted out loudly to everyone 'I want the meat off the pig's back!' It was such a proud moment for me!
There is a great chapter in Jamie Oliver's Jamie's Italy that covers the topic of exposure of food in different cultures (particularly meat and animal carcasses which are pictured in a kiddie pool). It is very interesting and made me think about what I was exposed to as a child. I doubt we will have porchetta in our own family very often, but I hope that it will appear from time to time and that Camden will come to remember it as a small part of his childhood, like I do mine.