Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pork with Red Wine & Chocolate

Last Friday I held a class on Southern Italian cooking down at The Kitchen Studio. Now, I'm about as Italian as Mu Shu Pork, but the food was the Best. Food. Ever.

The menu was simple: Broccoli Rabe with Pasta, Pork with Red Wine & Chocolate, a Potato-Wild Mushroom Gratin, and an Olive Oil Walnut Cake. We have 5 people in class, plus two kitchen assistants and me. Can I just say that this food was crazy good?

You see, I picked up a great new cookbook called Cucina del Sole by Nancy Harmon Jenkins.

I was inspired by the recipes she had written and the ingredients she used (all simple, simple, simple) and changed the recipes around a little to reflect my own taste a bit -- changing a few ingredients, doing things a little bit differently here and there, making them work for the time I had. Bottom line: Really fantastic food that was a snap to make!

I was most interested in a recipe that featured pork with red wine and unsweetened chocolate; kind of like an Italian mole sauce. We started by caramelizing onions for a solid hour to give a great base to our flavors. The onions were brown and sweet like you wouldn't believe. Holy cow! I would have been satisfied just sucking down caramelized onions all night, but I resisted (thanks in part to following Weight Watchers right now -- don't ask!).

After we set the onions to the side, we browned some pork chops (bone-in work best, but that's just an opinion), slid in some garlic, Italian herbs, and a ton of red wine, and then a bit of finely grated chocolate. Please understand -- we did NOT use Hershey's milk chocolate here. This was all about the richness from the cocoa butter and the bitterness from the lack of sugar. Don't bother if you're going to use any other chocolate besides unsweetened. It just won't be the same.

We slapped a lid on the sucker and let it braise for a while. Woo-freakin'-woo! Thank goodness I got a couple of loaves of bread for us to sop up the amazing gravy once the pork was done. It was indescribably good. I swear that I could have tipped up the serving dish and had it all myself, but I might have had to wrestle the rest of the class for it.

If you're interested in more info, just let me know, or better yet, pick-up the book yourself. Here's a link to my favorite online cookbook site: http://www.ecookbooks.com/p-9435-cucina-del-sole.aspx. Be sure to let me know if you make anything fabulous!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Free Demo At The Common Market This Saturday!

That's right folks, MORE free demos -- woo hoo! If you've got kiddies, you won't want to miss this one on Saturday, September 27 at 11:30 & 1 at our very own Common Market on Buckeystown Pike.

I'll be doing two quick demos on how to make your child's lunch box a little sassier. The recipes are quick and basic, but totally yummy, and dare I say, good for you too (it is at The Common Market after all!!). We'll have samples of the three dishes I'm preparing (3 dishes in 30 minutes? Say it isn't so!), plus I'll be around to answer questions and meet and greet between demos.

While I've got you, don't forget to sign up for awesome classes and Make It, Take It, Bake It! sessions at The Kitchen Studio this fall. Not only will you have a great time and a full tummy, but you'll be supporting a local business, and truthfully, you know you want to come down and hang out. Even though our food costs have risen sharply over the past several months, we haven't changed our portion sizes or raised our prices, because we're crazy like that! We want to continue to give you an excellent product and a good time, even though the economy has us all a little nervous right now.

That said, come check us out (www.KitchenStudioFrederick.com), take a class, bring a friend, join our email list (we send out special offers all the time that aren't advertised anywhere else!), order some delicious cookies :), well, just come to The Kitchen Studio. We want you to Come Play with Your Food!


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Open House Today

If you're up for an adventure, or, let's be real here, and excuse to get out of the house, we're hosting an open house down at The Kitchen Studio today from 10 am until 1:30 pm.

There's food for sampling (Black Bean Pumpkin Soup and Slow Cooker Cassoulet), Chippa Chippa Bloem Bloems available for tasting and buying, plus discounts on fall classes and MTB sessions. You'll also get to meet me, and more importantly, I'll get to meet you!

We'll have a few cooking demos for kids, plus show off a few basics for grown-ups like how to properly cut an onion etc., and will do our best to answer any food questions you throw out at us.

There will also a food trivia game with...PRIZES! Can you say "free t-shirt"??? And lastly, our Annual Used Cookbook sale. Keep in mind, these aren't loser titles like The Florence Henderson Shortcut in the Kitchen Cookbook, but good quality cookbooks and commentary by folks you've heard of (Rachael Ray, Mad Martha, Cooking Light, Gael Greene and dare I say, Jessica Seinfeld -get that one out of my school now please!!!).

So, bring a friend and come meet us down at The Kitchen Studio!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Jen! Jen! Jen! Jen! Jen!

Ok - I know that I have waxed rhapsodic previously about the Lemon Drop martinis at Acacia, so forgive me this one small backtrack. I visited my favorite bar in Frederick (cozy, quiet, great staff) again this weekend and the mistress of the martini whipped up yet another girly concoction, but this time I have her name. Can you guess (look at the title of the post silly!).

Go visit Jen at Acacia and have her whip up one of these babies for you posthaste! They are a bit labor-intensive, so be sure to tip well. And fellas, don't think that just because she makes a mean Lemon Drop that she can't make anything else. Oh contraire! My husband said he had one of the best gimlets he's ever had, and he's been enjoying them for years.

SIDE NOTE unrelated to Acacia: Thanks for all of the feedback on Volt! I appreciate your time in checking out this new addition to the Frederick food scene and commenting. Please be sure to be polite to each other in your comments, as I won't publish them if they're unnecessarily mean or use nasty language. However, I will post them if you're giving your opinion and keep it clean. Everyone has different taste, so it may not be the right fit for every person, but to me, the menus sure look darn good, plus I've heard from folks who don't post (a lot!!) that the service is attentive and wonderful and that the food is absolutely divine, if not a little bit small on the portions (repeat after me, "tasting menu".) I'm hoping to finally make my pilgrimage for lunch right around my birthday (I do not yet have the dinner budget -- sorry!) and I'll be sure to let you know how it is. In the meantime -- keep those comments coming!