Herbed Orzo

December 30, 2009

I’m loving the Jan/Feb Everyday Food issue with lots of light dinner ideas. I tried the Herbed Orzo. This is possibly the simplest recipe in the world. Boil a cup of orzo. Add 3 tbsp chopped herbs (any kind) and 2 tsp lemon juice and salt and pepper. That’s it. I did add some olive oil to the cooking water which keeps the orzo from sticking together and gave it a little flavor. We grated a tiny bit of Parmesan cheese on top when we ate it. This was nice and light and fresh and was pasta without being a heavy pasta dish. Orzo cooks so quickly since it’s small that this is perfect for a last minute thrown together dinner. You could dress it up with some sauteed spinach or cherry tomatoes if you wanted some more veggies.

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Back on Track: Parchment Paper Salmon

December 29, 2009

Hello everyone. I’m back. Or mostly back. I was really thrown for a loop when I pulled all of my stomach muscles on the right side lifting a laundry basket. It was so ridiculous. I couldn’t believe how badly hurt I really was. Almost two weeks later, I am back to normal activities for the most part.

For my first real foray into the kitchen since the injury (Mr. MarthaAndMe did all the Christmas cooking as I sat on a stool and offered instruction), I made a recipe from the Jan/Feb issue of Everyday Food. I am a subscriber, but this issue came to me early from MSLO. There’s an interesting section on parchment paper cooking I wanted to try out. I made Salmon with Green Beans and Lemon Zest. I remember trying parchment paper cooking once when we were first married and it got a little scorched!

This dish was easy to put together – put your salmon fillets on the paper, add green beans, lemon zest, some capers, salt and pepper and  a little olive oil. Fold the paper over and twist the ends. Bake at 400 for about 10-12 minutes. That’s it. I was actually pretty impressed with it. My salmon got a little overcooked (the problem with this is you can’t check it for doneness without ripping the paper), but other than I did enjoy it. We squeezed some lemon juice over it when we ate it since it needed more lemon flavor. I actually liked the capers and enjoyed the green beans with it. I like having most of dinner in a cute little package like this  – it’s very appealing somehow.

I want to try some of the other parchment paper recipes, so check back for those results in the coming days.

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A Short Break

December 26, 2009

Hi everyone. I’ve been busy with Christmas and a ridiculous abdominal muscle pull that has rendered me practically unable to function! I hope your holidays are enjoyable. I’ll be back with a new post very soon!

Heirloom Sugar Cookies

December 22, 2009

My grandmother made the world’s best sugar cookies. I’ve never tasted any like them, ever. Her cookies are soft, moist, and delicate. Because I grew up eating these, I have been spoiled and don’t care for the harder sugar cookies most people seem to make. The key ingredient is buttermilk, which makes for a soft dough, but is also responsible for the texture and flavor. Because of the soft texture, you need to make this dough, then freeze it completely before you attempt to roll it out and cut it out. There are many family stories about this. One year my aunt took the entire batch out to a table set up in the garage and rolled them out in the garage where the dough would stay cold. The first time I attempted it, I didn’t freeze it long enough and I ended up with a huge mess.  The other trick is picking the right cut out shapes. The dough spreads and softens as it cooks, so many shapes become unrecognizable. I’ve found that stars work quite well. Candy canes also work. Santas, snowmen and trees tend to just blur and become blobs. My grandmother often just made these as circles.

As my Christmas gift to you, dear readers, I’m going to share this special family recipe.

Gai’s Sugar Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 cups buttermilk

4 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 tsp vanilla

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla. Alternate adding dry ingredients with buttermilk. Freeze the dough for several hours. Roll the dough out using lots of flour on the counter and on the rolling pin because it will stick if you aren’t careful. Roll this out a bit thicker than you would with regular sugar cookies – you want it to be about a 1/2 inch thick. Flour the cookie cutters. Place on silpats in a oven preheated to 375 degrees. Bake for 10-12 minutes. You want to take them out when the bottoms are just beginning to brown.  Don’t let the top of the cookie get brown or it will be too hard. Let them rest on the baking sheets until cool and then remove them.

I usually make a simple frosting of butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and milk (which you can color with food coloring if you want different colors) and then we decorate them with colored sugar. As you can see in the photo, my kids really get into it!

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Martha Radio

December 22, 2009

If you heard me on Martha Stewart Radio, Morning Living Live this morning, will you drop them an email and let them know?  I believe the show is replayed over the weekend, so if you missed it, you can catch it then.

Martha Mondays Schedule

December 22, 2009

We’re going to hit the pause button on Martha Mondays until after the holidays. Some members have suggested it and I agree. So the next Martha Mondays will be Jan. 4. Pru Singer from My Life Pru Singer has made her pick for that already, so you can plan ahead – Silver Dollar Pear Pancakes. We’ll push everyone else’s assigned dates back a week from there on out.

I’ll still be posting through the holidays. For one thing I am determined to make a croque en bouche. Fingers crossed on that.

Martha Stewart Radio Tomorrow

December 21, 2009

I’ll be on Martha Stewart Living Radio Morning Living Live on Sirius tomorrow morning at 7 a.m., so please tune in if you can.

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