Total Pageviews

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I Wish..

I had taken more pictures of our thanks giving celebration and not just of the food as spectacular as it was but more so to capture the relaxation and happiness on every ones faces. The day went very well and we were delighted to have Mr and Mrs Mancuso joining us for the first time. Guy and Carin are the parents of Lindsey Mancuso who was married to Maura's brother Ace earlier this year, It was a pleasure having you both. The wedding was actually my very first blog post and you can look it up to see pictures of that amazing day in San Diego.
This year I was in charge of the turkey and also decided to make some bread and dinner rolls using the no knead bread recipe I have been using lately. This time I was trying to emulate a certain bread we used to sell at work for this time of year. I started off with the basic recipe and added loads of mixed nuts and dried cranberries, some cinnamon and topped with brown sugar for a crunchy crust. When the bread finally came out of the oven it must have weighed at least three pounds. You can see in the picture below that it's packed with fruit and nuts and tasted pretty darn good along with some butter I mixed with orange oil and zest. It was chewy and hearty  and very like its competitor which sells for $$$. The dinner rolls were another simple dough recipe but I added some fresh rosemary to them. All of the other sides and appetizers which were generously brought by the rest of the family were excellent and by night time I was truly beat and while I waddled off to bed, Maura decided to hit the mall for the sales. That turned out not to be such a good idea, way too crazy and much more sane early Friday morning.

I do feel a little bad that I did miss out on a lot of opportunity to take some snaps but I know for sure that I'll never forget this years thanks giving, with or without pictures. Thanks to everyone who made such an amazing display of food and I hope everyone had as much fun as I did.

Roll on Christmas, this time I'll be ready with that camera..... 

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Yes I do have another recipe on here. This started out being a blog about my antics and happenings with the family after becoming a stay at home dad. Well it still is but I do like to cook and oddly enough take pictures of that food much to the amusement of Miranda who wonders why I'm snapping pics of her dinner. There are many food blogs out there and I don't know what reason the blogger's would give as to why they document there cooking exploits. I'm sure theres an element of proudness and genuine love for food. I think food is much more than just an object which goes in your mouth, chewed and forgotten about, it's almost sensual in many ways. Every day I think about what I can make for that evenings dinner and rarely plan a day in advance, call me crazy but I usually go to some kind of grocery store everyday. Maura thinks I'm mad and would rather I done one large shop per week. I say how can you do that if you don't know what your going to make? 

In between all of the grocery trips and kitchen photography I do still find time to look after Miranda and Quinn. Miranda is doing well at school although she may need a reality check on her bossiness in the very near future according to her teacher. Kindergarten is tougher than we thought it would be. Quinn just keeps growing and is enjoying his solid foods now,all of which I make myself.  He is almost nine months old and started to crawl last week trying to reach and grab for anything that catches his eye. I had forgotten these milestones but now they are returning with great eagerness. With an upcoming week of no school we are going to get ready for thanksgiving with the rest of the family, which means more trips to the store.... 

The recipe below is definitely a keeper. The beef was fork tender and the sauce which came from  reducing down the liquid was deep and intense. If you make it give yourself some time. It's pretty easy once all of the prep work is done and you can do all of the cooking at the beginning in a large saute pan if your dutch oven or casserole dish is not stove top friendly, just make sure it's in the oven heating as you don't want to add the veggie mix to a cold dish. I made some mashed potatoes with loads of butter, milk, salt and pepper and added a little truffle oil.

Here's the recipe adapted from Simply

1 (3 1/2 pound) chuck roast, boneless

Salt and ground black pepper
4 oz pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 medium onions, chopped medium (about 2 cups)
2 medium carrots, chopped medium (about 1 cup)
2 ribs celery, chopped medium (1 cup)
1 Tbsp tomato paste
3 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 (750 ml) bottle Zinfandel wine (can substitute Cabernet Sauvignon)
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes , drained
1 sprig fresh thyme leaves , plus 1 teaspoon minced leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
10 sprigs fresh parsley leaves

Adjust oven rack to middle position; pre-heat oven to 300°F. Pat beef dry with paper towels. Place pancetta in 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven. Cook pancetta over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towel-lined plate and reserve. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from the pan. Place pan over medium-high heat. Heat until the fat begins to smoke. Add beef to pot and cook until well browned on all sides, about 8 minutes total. Transfer beef to large plate; set aside.

Reduce heat to medium; add onions, carrots, celery, and tomato paste to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften and brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, sugar, flour, and reserved pancetta; cook, stirring constantly, until combined and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add wine and tomatoes, scraping bottom of pan with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits; add thyme sprig, rosemary, and parsley. Return roast and any accumulated juices to pot; increase heat to high and bring liquid to boil, then place large sheet of foil over pot and cover tightly with lid. Set pot in oven and cook, using tongs to turn beef every 45 minutes, until a fork easily slips in and out of meat, about 3 hours.

Remove from oven and transfer beef to cutting board; tent with foil to keep warm. Allow braising liquid to settle about 5 minutes, then, using wide shallow spoon, skim fat off surface. Add minced thyme, bring liquid to boil over high heat, and cook, whisking vigorously to help vegetables break down, until mixture is thickened and reduced to about 3 1/2 cups, about 18 minutes. Strain liquid through large fine-mesh strainer, pressing on solids with spatula to extract as much liquid as possible; you should have a couple cups strained sauce. Reduce sauce further until you have 1 1/2 cups. Discard solids in strainer. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

 Frying the pancetta

 Make sure you buy two bottles and keep one for while the roast is in the oven.

 I don't have a dutch oven so I use the ceramic inside of a crock pot. I done all of the mixing in a large saute pan first whilst pre heating the crock pot in the oven.

 31/2 hours later, rich in color and the meat reminds me of an alligator rising from a swamp.

 After straining all the veggies and other bits this is all you have left. Boil it high and reduce it down by half,season it and the flavor is amazing, after all theres a full bottle of wine in there!

Tender, sticky, flavorful, I could go on and on....make it!!!

Friday, November 12, 2010


I was going to make chicken tacos with the left over rotisserie meat but I decided to take the road to The Leaning Tower and this is what I came up with. You cant really go wrong with pizza and there's so many variations you could decide upon. Follow a few simple rules like not overdoing it with the toppings and rolling that crust out super thin and many faces will be smiling around the table. Not a lot of us have wood burning stoves in our kitchen so crank that oven up high and place the pizza straight onto the oven deck. I use a flattened out serving platter as a means to scooping the pizza up and transferring it to the oven. Keep turning it if you have to prevent it from burning.If you decide to make your own try the dough balls from Whole Foods, you can get them over by the deli where they use the same dough to make the store pizzas, they are way more original than Trader Joes and I am a fan of TJ's but their dough is terrible. Once you get your dough leave it out at room temp for at least 30 minutes. This makes it easier to roll out and makes for a nice chewy crust. Make sure to par bake the rolled out crust in a 450 degree oven for 5-7 minutes and this will make it strong enough to hold those toppings.

  The dough ready for its first bake with an olive oil glaze

   My choice of sauce

After the first bake


  I used some smoked fontina cheese

 Ready for the oven, 450 degrees

 Topped with some fresh basil

 Ready to eat

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Diabetes walk

Today was our day to walk for The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation on behalf of my daughter, Miranda. Our 18 strong team strode around Dodgers Stadium eventually taking our last lap around the actual field. The weather was perfect and the camaraderie was amazing. A huge thank you to all the people who took part today and to all the generous people who donated to our team. We set a modest goal this year of $2000 and we ended up raising just over $3000! Without people like you our kids would not receive the care and research from JDRF that they deserve.

 Claire Wilson
 Uncle Chris and Quinn
 Skyler and Miranda
 The team in all it's glory!!

 Jill and Judith

 Super Moms

A well earned lunch at El Cholo