Recession Chic

a down economy does not = ugly shoes

Dough Diaries: Basic Breakfast Bread January 29, 2010

Filed under: Dough Diaries — karakrautter @ 11:13 AM
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After the pasta challenge, I was really looking forward to a different dough adventure — freshly baked bread. I started with the basic dough recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day and added some dried cranberries and dark chocolate chips to make a tasty breakfast treat.

The bread pilot went a lot better than the pasta, but I did learn a few things that will make next month’s artisan loaf better:

  1. When adding things to bread (like chocolate, olives, etc.), don’t go overboard in the quantity. A little can go a long way.
  2. Place dough in a MUCH larger bowl than you initially think it needs when waiting for the dough to rise. Yeast is a crazy thing 😉
  3. Make smaller loaves. They will bake better and be easier to share with others.


Dough Diaries: Pasta, Round One January 25, 2010

Filed under: Dough Diaries — karakrautter @ 10:34 AM
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After weeks of looking at my pasta maker from Christmas, I finally found the time to give a go at homemade noodles. Woah, this was some adventure. Without the moral support and hands-on assistance from my wonderful friend Ashley, the attempt would have failed completely.

I found a recipe for pasta dough online that was simple enough to make, but not the best for making noodles. The noodles turned out very sticky, and Ashley and I had a time trying to keep them separated. But, after cooking them and dressing them up with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella — we had a tasty, unattractive, dinner.

Thanks to my culinary friends, I already have another recipe to try and tips on keeping the noodles dry. Let’s hope next month is better 🙂


The Meat Apprentice: Fixing Basic Chicken January 20, 2010

Filed under: The Meat Apprentice — karakrautter @ 1:09 PM
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It has been years since I’ve eaten meat, let alone cooked it. But,  as I mentioned earlier, I think that a basic knowledge of how to prepare meat will be helpful in the long run. *I’d rather not force a diet upon small children that will make them an easy target for ridicule in the cafeteria.*

So, last Friday night I took a leap and cooked a chicken breast. Since I knew I had (and liked) Quorn’s Chik’n cutlets, I tried to find a simple recipe that could work for both chicken and chicken-like proteins. A simple sauté with garlic and white wine sounded like the best option, and it would go well with the two sides I already picked for the meal (broccolini with tomatoes and garlic and smashed potatoes with goat cheese and chives).

I was a little anxious going up to the meat counter at Central Market. Most of the time I just bypass it on the way to wine and cheese or see the line of customers while I quickly get some seafood. The line of people was a bit long, but the butcher’s reaction to my request for just one-half of a chicken breast when everyone before me was asking for pounds of veal, steaks and whole chickens.

Back home in my kitchen, I had a great time putting everything together and was most nervous about not cooking the chicken completely. Thankfully, all turned out well. My dinner partner loved the chicken, and my Chik’n was really good with a similar preparation.

Mission Chicken: Accomplished

Check out the photos from the meal:


Dining In: Margherita Pizza January 13, 2010

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 9:22 PM
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For several weeks now, I’ve walked by the bread section of Central Market and noticed their fresh pizza crusts. Each time I thought to myself, those would be great for an easy, non-frozen pizza dinner. Since I’m going to start simple with my bread baking (which is what the book advises), I decided to give CM’s crust a try.

My favorite kind of pizza is Margherita. Whole tomatoes, basil and mozzarella make for a light, yet satisfying slice. So, after picking up the crust I picked up fresh basil, buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes and some of their bail pesto near the self-serve olive bar.

Prep time was minimal: just had to slice the cheese, tomatoes and chop the basil. I placed the crust on my pizza stone and brushed a think layer of the pesto all over, added the sliced tomatoes and cheese, and topped with the basil. Since the crust was already cooked, I just wanted to melt the cheese and brown the crust in the oven. I placed the pizza in the broiler on low for about 15 min and that did the trick.

Warm, flavorful and filling in about 20 minutes!


Cooking 101: A tastier Risotto January 6, 2010

Filed under: Cooking 101 — karakrautter @ 10:35 AM
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So, I’ve already fell in love with Cooking Light’s Way to Cook. The book if filled with great tips on the best way to prepare meats, veggies and even tricky pasta dishes — along with several yummy looking recipes.

This past weekend I made a mushroom risotto based on this Series Eats recipe, the back of the risotto box, and my new cookbook. With all these sources I felt a little overwhelmed at first but ended up feeling fairly confident that it was all going to turn out well. And it did…mmm, delicious!

From this cooking adventure, I discovered three tricks to a better risotto:

  1. Saute some chopped onion and garlic first in olive oil before melting the butter in the pan. It not only makes your kitchen smell heavenly, but also helps season the butter.
  2. Before adding any stock (chicken or veggie), add a 1/2 cup of dry white wine to the risotto. Be sure that all the moisture is out before moving to the next step so that all the alcohol is cooked out and only the flavor of the wine remains with the risotto.
  3. Keep the stock warm during the whole process. I just heated mine in a 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup via the microwave. This way the starch from the risotto isn’t released to early, keeping the final dish from getting gummy.

I forgot to take a photo, but this one from Paolo G on Flickr looks close (his looks a bit better).


A New Year, a New-ish Resolution January 2, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — karakrautter @ 7:19 PM
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Blogging this past year has been so much fun! Though, looking back on my posts, it’s obvious that my favorite part of blogging has been sharing my condo renovations and all the different recipes I’ve tackled (45 total!). I don’t have any big plans for my condo in 2010 (except maybe hardwoods downstairs), but will share anything new I add or update. I plan to keep up my weekly recipes and share all that are successful and challenge myself to explore more French food.

But, you may be asking, what will my new resolution be? Homemade pasta, breads and mastering some more traditional everyday cooking! For Christmas I got the Kitchen Aid pasta add-on (hooray for a Mom that reads all my blogs), Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and the Cooking Light’s Way to Cook among many other wonderful gifts. I decided these things would be a great foundation for new challenges in the kitchen. I’m not 100% sure how often I will be able to tackle each, but my goal is to try to make one pasta and bread a month and feel comfortable cooking meat. No, I’m not changing my pescatarian diet, but  I would like to be able to prepare meals for loved ones that do enjoy eating meat.