Sunday, October 31, 2010

Spanish Tortilla (a/k/a Frittata)

Yesterday, I was watching America's Test Kitchen on public television and they made a lovely Spanish Tortilla. A Spanish Tortilla is not what we think of as the corn or flour tortilla variety. Rather, it is an egg-based dish with vegetables or other fillings - like a frittata.   I've tried making frittata in the past, with limited success (mostly due to having an alpha-dog-type fight with my cast iron pan over releasing food easily). However, America's Test Kitchen / Cooks Illustrated generally has very good, workable recipes that turn out successful so I decided to give it a go.

Tonight, I made a potato, onion and pea tortilla. The only thing I didn't use in mine that was in the original recipe were roasted red peppers from a jar. I pretty much followed the recipe precisely, including using a non-stick skillet instead of my cast iron pan, so I am not going to reiterate it here. There is a video on the America's Test Kitchen site if you want to give it a try.  It is a very easy recipe.  The hardest thing was waiting 15 minutes after it cooked for it to set up to be able to cut it!

Tasty and easy.  Now, I've got breakfast made for the next several days.


Sunday, October 10, 2010


This morning I woke up early and made some bread, planning on having a nice breakfast.  I took the bread from the oven and set it to cool.  In the meantime, I ran a quick errand down to the hardware store.

I returned home, ready to tuck in and what did I find?  Dad had stopped by my house in the meantime and absconded with my loaf of bread (thinking it was his)!*  Thwarted!

*his was actually a rye and wheat loaf that was still rising.

A Homecoming: No-Knead Bread

My parents have been traveling the country for nearly two years and last week finally arrived home (the picture was taken in June 2009, when my parents flew back for a short while to attend Marlo's graduation from high school and my graduation from law school - even though I was actually a licensed, practicing attorney by then).  Let's just say that I am very happy they are home. Yay!

Ever since the first time I made No-Knead bread, my dad has been a fan.Within two days of arriving home, mom called and said, "Your dad wants you to make some of The Bread."  I made two loaves right away.
Yesterday, I mixed up two more loaves, this time one with rye and wheat flour, and a second with regular all-purpose flour with some wheat germ mixed in.  We'll see how my improvising works out.  I set them to rise yesterday and overnight in the oven with the light bulb turned on for warmth.

Normally, I gripe pretty heavily about waking up early on the weekends - which I usually do because my Internal Clock doesn't get The Memo that it is time to sleep in and unfortunately Internal Clock has lifetime tenure and cannot be fired.  However, today I woke up at 7:00 a.m. and didn't mind it at all because I fixed the bread up for its final two-hour rise, and get to bake it at 9:00 a.m., just in time for a fantastic "Dipping Eggs" breakfast (*note, the picture below is sans No-Knead Bread).

No-Knead Bread is baked in a heavy lidded Dutch Oven in order to mimic the effect of a professional baker's steam oven which creates a great crust on the bread.  I bake mine in my red Le Creuset pot that I got out of the law school experience.  Still hate law school; still love the pot.  It makes me feel all warm and well, domestic, I guess.

It's a good start to a rainy Sunday.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

FFwD: Meme

I am starting to participate with a new blogging group, French Fridays With Dorie (FFwD), where I'll be trying to make a different French recipe from Dorie Greenspan's new book "Around My French Table."  The blogging group assigns a new recipe each Friday and the participating bloggers try to make as many of the recipes as they want.

One of the first postings was participation in a meme, to introduce the blogging members.  My answers are below:
Name: Roxanne
Hometown: Seattle
Current town: Seattle
How you pay the bills: I'm an attorney and own my own law firm.
How many in your household? 1 (and sometimes 2 when my adult daughter comes to visit)
What is your favorite comfort food? Pot roast.
Favorite dessert to whip up at midnight? Ice cream from the freezer.
The best restaurant you have ever been to? (and what did you have?) Ruth's Chris steakhouse (filet mignon).
Worst habit or vice? Waking up at 4:00 a.m. and reading.
If you were a biscuit, which would you be? I'm taking "biscuit" to mean a "cookie" in the British sense of the word: I'd be a Galette de Bretagne, essentially a butter cookie:  classic and rich.
What is your mother’s best dish? Stuffed grapevine leaves.
What is your motto? "It will all turn out."
Which kitchen gadget do you use the most? Not really a "gadget" but I use my silicone spatulas the most.
The soundtrack to your life is? Life's Highway by Steve Warner.
Any last words? I'm looking forward to participating in this group.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Denny's Fried Cheese Melt Pushes Gooey Cheese Tolerance To New Levels - The Consumerist

The Consumerist posted an article today that I just couldn't believe - not that I haven't been shocked by the donut burger and its genre before.  Is anyone surprised that our country's health has serious issues when clearly there is a "market" for food like this?

Denny's Fried Cheese Melt Pushes Gooey Cheese Tolerance To New Levels
By Chris Morran on August 11, 2010 1:15 PM

Have you ever been eating mozzarella sticks and thought, "these would be soooo much better in a sandwich"? Or maybe you've been snacking on a grilled cheese sandwich and wondered how improved it would be if it also had fried cheese sticks between the bread? If so, then Denny's is about to roll out the perfect sandwich for you.

Read the rest: Denny's Fried Cheese Melt Pushes Gooey Cheese Tolerance To New Levels - The Consumerist

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Product Review: Brianna's Champagne Caper Vinaigrette

Ever since I lived in France, I've been a vinaigrette dressing fan.  Many Americans don't like vinaigrette - mostly because I think that American-made vinaigrette are too much like us: harsh, wild and unrefined.  A classic French vinaigrette is relatively mild and has only a little bite to it.  The acid doesn't make you cough or hit your nostrils the way a harsh vinegar does.

IMHO, most commercially available vinaigrette is downright awful so my solution has been to dress my greens in a little extra virgin olive oil - I like a nice, buttery one instead of the more green piquant olive oils - and some wonderful Balsamic vinegar from Trader Joe's tossed up with a little salt and pepper.

However, I recently found this Champagne Caper Vinaigrette from Brianna's - not all stores carry this particular flavor; I found mine at QFC.  It is just lovely, particularly on a baby spinach salad with Costco's roasted chicken on top along with some grape tomatoes and slivered almonds.

My overall recommendation, though, no matter what dressing you are using, is to very lightly dress your greens.  You'll find that the American habit of slathering on the dressing probably originated with trying to make iceberg lettuce taste like something other than water.  If you use baby spinach, mache, or butter lettuce (my favorite), you'll find that these greens taste wonderful if you don't mask their flavors with dressing.

The Best Salad Ever: Nordstrom Cafe Salmon Nicoise

Last week I went shopping with Marlo and we stopped at the Nordstrom Cafe in Bellevue Square for a quick lunch.

Marlo had the turkey cranberry sandwich, which she said was really good.  I had the Salmon Nicoise (pronounced NEE-swahze) and was BLOWN AWAY.

It was, quite simply, the best salad I have ever had in my entire life.

It was comprised of mixed greens dressed in a balsamic vinaigrette - mine could have been much lighter dressed, which I will specifically request next time I go.  On top of that there was new potatoes (pretty sure these were Yukon Gold), steamed green beans, tomatoes, capers, Nicoise olives, and hard-boiled eggs.  All of this was topped with a piece of herb grilled salmon.

I wish I had thought to snap a picture of the salad before Marlo and I dug in - maybe on a future visit.  It was pretty, but it tasted even better.  I don't particularly enjoy shopping; however, I'll at least have something to look forward to when taking a break from a future shopping excursion.

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND ordering this salad from Nordstrom's Bistro. At less than $10, it was a bargain as well.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Buying Gifts for People Overseas - Avoid Expensive Shipping!

A couple of years ago "surface mail" shipping, also known as "the slow boat to China," went by the wayside. As a result, one must send all overseas packages by airmail. This can be very expensive. Sometimes, the cost of postage can meet or exceed the price of the gift itself. As an example, I bought my French nieces and nephews a Special-Edition US Monopoly game. It was something like $35 or so. To ship it, with its odd-sized package, was going to be over $200!

There is an easy solution, though. You can buy items for people in Europe on Amazon's European websites. These often have the same "super saver" free shipping if you are buying over a certain amount. I'm listing all of Amazon's European sites - these are in the native languages so if you're not comfortable navigating purchases, just buy from the United Kingdom site, which still offers free shipping to Continental Europe.

United Kingdom -

France -

Germany -

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Apricot Tart that Wasn't (sarcastic "Thanks" to Costco)

I picked up a new camera from Costco this morning. My other one broke during Marlo and my trip to France last Spring (as in 2009, not 2010), which I failed to blog about (my apologies). Anyway, fast-forward over one year later, and I figured it wasn't worth getting my other one fixed since my new camera has 12.1 megapixels and a 12x zoom. My older one only had a 3x zoom and I found myself wishing I had more ooph in the zoom department when taking pictures in Europe. Pair self-justification with a coupon from Costco and Presto! new camera. I'm hoping this translates to more blogging as I find it boring to post without pictures of some sort.

Which brings me to the point of today's post. While at Costco, I picked up a clam-shell of California Apricots. I had visions of luscious, juicy apricots baked into a rustic tart. I got the crust ready (frozen crust from Trader Joe's, which I rolled out a little to fit into the only tart pan I own. It was then that I realized that the apricots are hard as rocks. Solid. No give. No juicy apricot-y smell. Nothing but pure disappointment.

So, I switched gears and sliced up three juicy, ripe nectarines. I haven't sliced into the tart yet so I cannot comment on the success or failure of this venture. At the moment it seems to be a bit liquid-y despite the King Aurthur pie filling enhancer I added to the raw ingredients that is supposed to thicken the filling.

It looks pretty, though.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Please don't let this be a yearly occurence.

Last year about three weeks before the bar exam, I fell down not one, but TWO, flights of stairs. I had some of the worst bruising I have ever seen. And, in my former career as a personal injury paralegal, I've seen some bad bruising. I was black and blue from my hands up my arms to above my elbow, and then down my flank, right hip, down my leg to my ankle, plus the outside of my left knee where I bounced past the landing. Fun times (NOT)!

Today, nearly one year later, I fell down another flight of stairs. Thankfully it was a short flight, and the landing was at a 45 degree angle so I didn't continue down the next much longer flight of stairs. I bashed up my elbow a little and am a little sore - so this is absolutely nothing like the last time.

So, the lessons learned from my two falls?

1. Don't leave the shower soapy and try hurrying down the stairs to see if you are burning down the house by leaving the kettle on the stove (that was the source of last year's fall); and

2. Don't wear socks that have the little grippy deals on the bottom falling off because of the dryer. Buy new socks, or even better, slippers. That was today's lesson.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Road to Hell

There is nothing so invigorating as making a New Year's Resolution. It is like taking the bull by the horns in your own life. Taking charge. Taking control over your own destiny.

And there is nothing quite as demoralizing as knowing you've blown it before the first week is gone.

Yes, I had a goal to post something once a week, starting January 1. I've fallen down before I even got out of the gate.

However, what would life be without cliches? I'm picking myself up, dusting myself off, getting back on the horse, pulling myself up by my bootstraps (okay, that one doesn't quite fit) and continuing with my resolution.

That being said, I've been working like a madwoman, including pulling an all-nighter week before last, getting a case ready for trial this coming week.

It should be fun so cross your fingers for me (and my client). Trust me, all other things within my control have been done. If good preparation, and having justice on your side, means anything, we should prevail.

I'll keep you posted.