Wednesday, June 25, 2008

All Time Favorite: Jägerschnitzel

One of my favorite dishes of all time is Jägerschnitzel, so when I found veal cutlets on sale at our local grocer that was obviously the first thing that came to mind!

For those that are unfamiliar with German cuisine, Jägerschnitzel is a breaded veal (or sometimes pork) cutlet that is fried and covered in a mushroom sauce. I have had it at many German restaurants and I was a little worried that it would not turn out anywhere close to the way I have had it in the past, but it turns out this recipe is quite forgiving and much easier than it looks.


I took two veal cutlets and put them on the cutting board and began to pound them thin. I forgot to cover them with plastic wrap and realized quickly why covering it is so important. The veal began to tear. I covered them and pounded them nice and thin. I sprinkled a little salt and pepper on the veal and then gave them a quick dip in a couple of lightly beaten eggs before coating it in bread crumbs.


The sauce takes a few minutes to prepare so it is good to start that before the veal goes into the frying pan. Start by dicing 2 or 3 slices of bacon, chopping about a 1/4 of an onion and slicing a good sized handful of mushrooms (I think we had 5-6 mushrooms- baby portobellos). Throw all into a sauté pan at a medium-high setting and let it all brown for a couple minutes before adding about 1/4 cup of water and 3/4 cup of white wine (I used a Sauvignon Blanc). Now is a good time to heat up another pan with a little oil in it for the veal you will be cooking in a few minutes. Add a dash of thyme, a little bit of paprika, a bit of fresh chopped parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Let this reduce by about half.


While the sauce was being reduced I took the time to cook the veal. Place the veal in the hot pan and cook on each side until done. I did mine about 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove the pan from the heat and check on the sauce. As soon as its reduced stir in 2-3 Tbsp of sour cream to give it a nice creamy consistency. Place the veal on the plate and generously spoon the sauce over it and serve.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ch-Ch-Changes...

We've sure been busy! Daniel decided it was high-time we had our own URL, so we got one. It was easy, especially with the CPM ad program we got by joining the Food Buzz Featured Publishers Program. I am not really sure how I found Food Buzz, probably through another blog somewhere in my internet food searching... anyways, its kind of like a social network for foodies... When your join their Featured Publisher Program they give you code for an ad banner and you make money off of it! Who doesn't want money to support their blog?

Anyways, update your bookmarks/links, cuz we are now at www.gourmetloveaffair.com
(Annnnddd, I'll tell you a secret, if you are too lazy to update... it will automatically redirect anyways!) We have lots of plans now that we have our very own URL. We're so excited!

We've also joined a few blogrolls, namely The Great Cooks blogroll, from our friend Jill over at Simple Daily Recipes. If you haven't checked out her site, please do. Blogrolls are awesome not only to meet other foodies and view other blogs, but other people find you too! Another blogroll we joined is the Foodie Blogroll by The Leftover Queen herself, which is very extensive, so if you are looking for new material to read, check them out.
Jill from SDR also set up this awesome food-lovers' social network (myspace for foodies?) called the Great Cooks Community, it's similar to FoodBuzz, but I find the people there are a bit more social/talkative. Its pathetic really, how much time I spend on sites like this - but I couldn't cook as well as I do if I wasn't a part of these wonderful communities, I learn more and more each day!

Anyways, check out our favorite blogrolls on the left side of our page. Our favorite communities, like Great Cooks, are on the right. Enjoy!Stumble Upon Toolbar

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tips - Brining

If you are familiar with Daniel and I by now, you know that we are students. You also know that I, Corinne, am not a natural born cook. No, not even close. I'm very creative in other ways, but my natural-born passions lie in art, and education... I have plenty of other passions, well, like, cooking. But I was born to teach. I have a lot of background in training and teaching and education. I'm currently in school to become a teacher... I'm almost done too!!!

Since I have various passions, they tend to intermingle and manifest in each other. Cooking is no exception, at least for me. I love learning about anything to do with food, and even better yet, teaching about it. I decided when we started this blog that I wanted to incorporate my inner-teacher somehow... Recipes are cooks' book-reports. Cookbooks are textbooks of the culinary world. Cooking is the ultimate hands-on science experiment. While I am no expert by any means on culinary knowledge, I am learning, quickly, and who better to teach amatuers than an amatuer herself? It may seem a silly concept, but have you ever had a teacher who knew the material so well they just couldn't break it down to your level? I'm here to break it down.

The first "lesson" I'd like to teach is about brining. Brining is a culinary trick that has gained quite a bit of popularity over the past few years. This is for a good reason: It works! We knew brining was good for making juicy tender meat, and we've heard a lot of hype about it especially around the holidays and turkey-time. We learned that brining also flavors your meat and makes it extra juicy. And, if you are worried about sodium content, (as Daniel and I have to) using kosher salt has essentially less sodium than table salt (click on the link to find out why.)

The general ratio for brining is 1:16. One cup of salt to sixteen cups of water (there are sixteen cups of water in a gallon). Or, one tablespoon of salt to one cup of water, since there are sixteen tablespoons in one cup.
When you are brining something as small as a couple of chicken breasts, you don't need to make gallons worth of brine (which you would do for say, a whole turkey). Depending on the size of the breasts, you would make about a 2-3 cup recipe.
Another thing you can do when brining is add any combination of spices/herbs that will get soaked up by the meat in the process, adding extra flavor to juicy-goodness. (To learn why and how brining works, go to this cool Cooks Illustrated page - for extra credit of course ;-)

To make the brine, put your salt in the bottom of bowl or measuring cup (big enough that it will hold the amount of water you need). Make sure you are using cold water, as warm water will not be food-safe. Slowly pour the proper amount of water into the bowl while whisking constantly. Since the water is cold the salt will not dissolve as fast, just be patient and keep stirring until the salt granules are gone.


Now, add your peppercorns (I usually do twice as many as the number of cups of water I am using (so if I'm using 3 cups of water, I put in 6 peppercorns... you don't have to be this exact, or if you want lots of peppery taste, go ahead and put more... experiment a bit!)
Also, put in your garlic and herbs (such as rosemary, parsley, thyme, etc). Stir.


Now it's time to decide what you want to brine your meat in. If you are brining a turkey, a sanitized bucket, or even a sanitized cooler works (coolers are great because they are big and you can drain the cooler from the tap on the side when you are done, plus they keep your bird cold.) If you are doing something as small as the chicken breasts we usually do, a zip-top bag will work.
Place your meat inside the brining container first, in this case, the zip-top bag. Now, hold the bag open and pour the brining solution into the bag carefully (at this point making the brine in a measuring cup like the one you see in the pictures come is very handy because of the pour-spout)


Zip the bag almost the whole way. Now, very carefully lay the bag down flat almost all of the way, so the bubbles go towards the top and you can squeeze them out slowly. This doesn't have to be perfect, a few bubbles in the bag are fine, as long as your meat is fully submerged in the brining solution. Make sure you zip the bag the rest of the way before you lay it down completely.


Now, to avoid holes in the bag - and nasty raw-chicken brine everywhere, place the bag inside a bowl, so if any leaks do appear the bowl catches it. (This is where I don't skimp brand wise, I've had some awful times with bags and holes and briney-nastiness all over my fridge.)
Place your bowl in the refrigerator (to keep the meat at the correct food-safe temperature).

Now for brining-times. The time it takes to brine something depends on what you are brining. For poultry, a good rule of thumb is about 2 hours per pound of meat, and probably less if the pieces are cut (as opposed to a whole chicken or turkey)
For a couple of chicken breasts, 2-3 hours is plenty of time.* For a whole turkey, you may need to brine it overnight.

Once your meat has been brined, be sure to rinse it off and pat dry (other wise you will have an overly salty taste) Also, you don't need to re-salt the meat before cooking.

*Some say you need to adjust the amount of salt if the meat will be in the brine longer than suggested, but our chicken has never tasted "too salty" from the effects of sitting in the brine for an extra day. That said, we once did Cornish hens to eat on a Friday (we made the brine for them on a Thursday night) but our guests couldn't make it either Friday or Saturday, so we ended up eating the hens on Sunday - they had brined for 3 1/2 days at that point... they were very moist despite dry roasting them, but the saltiness was very noticeable. It seems that a few extra hours won't hurt, but a few extra days will make a difference.Stumble Upon Toolbar

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Sunday, June 1, 2008

Phoenix Farmers Market Finds

Asparagus $2.50
In my blog-stumbling I've come across some very interesting stuff. It seems right now that farmers' markets are not just popular for fresh (and hopefully pesticide-free) food, but also for the fact that locally grown food is 'greener' than food that is shipped in, using gallons and gallons of petroleum and spewing who knows how what by way of toxic fumes into the air just to get it there.
I've recently been very interested in FoodWishes video recipes blog. The blog owner Chef John has posted some interesting "weekend filler" as he calls it, about food issues we are having in the U.S. right now. It is here that I had my almost-epiphany. I say almost because I have been on the "green-eating" track for a while, I just wasn't sure where to go with it. The videos featuring Mark Bittman and Michael Pollan spurred me to get active. Green eating and staying away from artificial (yet-edible) foods has been an issue with me for a while. I know they are bad. I know that fresh, pesticide-free food is better for us. When Daniel and I got married, we began shopping at Sprouts Farmers' Market (a chain store) in order to eat healthier, fresher food, and in the process, we discovered it was actually cheaper than the produce from most grocery stores. Now, it is not a real 'farmers market' per say, most of the produce comes from Mexico, but that is closer than oh, S. America or Australia.
Despite our neighboring status to California ("The Land of Wine and Food" blah blah blah), Arizona doesn't have nearly as much to offer in the way of agriculture and food. But did you know we have farms just outside of Phoenix? We actually have farms that grow food. Vegetables, and fruits and melons, and grains... The farmers' markets haven't caught on quite like they have in California, but they are growing. More people are becoming aware and more markets are popping up in plazas and parking lots on the weekends.

Potatoes $1.50
Unfortunately there are a lot of issues with farming and ranching in Arizona. For one thing, irrigation is expensive. Damming of rivers, slow yearly-draining and non-replenishing of lakes/reservoirs, and the creation of huge systems for irrigation all have their issues that I won't get into. I feel that I just can't in order to stay sane. It is a paradox that I can't fix. In order to be green - eat locally-grown food. In order to save/conserve water - eat food that grows more naturally/cheaper/easily somewhere else... What to do?
I've decided that since they are there, I will keep utilizing the farmers markets we have, in order to eat fresh food that doesn't use gallons and gallons of gasoline to get here. Now, if you are familiar with Daniel and me, you know we are on a newlywed, student budget. Eating healthy yet cheap is our thing. Farmer's markets are not exactly cheap. but they are fresh... Oh, to see the food displayed right out of the back of their pickups and smell the sweet melons laid out on blankets in the sun, its a wonderful thing. Something that induces a "who cares how much it is I need it" attitude in me. Consequently, Daniel will never let me go by myself again. But you have to think about it. A splurge say twice a month on the freshest fruit and vegetables $20 can buy you and eating fresh produce from the "semi-green" Sprouts the rest of the time. The money is worth your health, and the environments'. It is worth supporting the farmers who are trying so hard to make a living in Arizona with so little. It's worth contributing the demand to the market so that maybe more people will be interested and maybe the farmers will be able to drop their prices.

Zucchini $1
I'm so excited about this idea that I've even looked into a CSA, or basically, your very own personal farmers market. See, you pay a set amount at the beginning of the season to the farmer. He in turn brings you whatever he has harvested that week for 10-12 weeks(all season long) and you get the freshest veggies and fruit the farmer has to offer. You get normal things like potatoes, various fruits, squash, etc., but you also get to try new things, whatever the harvest brings in.
It is quite a hefty price since you pay all at once, and I've asked Daniel to give it to me as a birthday present. Summer isn't the season for this sort of thing anyways, the best harvests are in Fall and Spring. Oh I can't wait to do it.

Cotton Country Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam $6
If you live in Phoenix and want fresh produce and can afford it, you must try it. More and more farmers' markets are popping up in Phoenix. Unfortunately they are switching to summer hours, but many are still running. The one I just went to had a simple sign out the day before and had we not driven by it we never would have known it was there.
Look for more posts on what I did with all those delicious finds!Stumble Upon Toolbar
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