June 30, 2010

Blogging Music, Or Why I Listen to Songs About Ducks

Is it just me, or does adding music to any task make it instantly more fun? Seriously! When my dentist started talking about removing some wisdom teeth, I was none too pleased, to say the least. However, when he told me that I could listen to my iPod during the procedure, it made things a little better.

Just a little.

Did I gross you out about the wisdom teeth? Sorry.

June 27, 2010

Therapy

Have you ever had one of those days? Where everything and everybody just seems to rub you the wrong way? I’m having one of those days.

I think what really drives me crazy about those kind of days is just how trivial they are. When I’m in a funky sort of mood, it’s usually not the result of anything big, just the buildup of little annoyances. Things like one of my recipe submissions for a food website being rejected. Or how hot it is outside and the fact that my air conditioning will never be cold enough. Perhaps it’s how my house all of a sudden feels cramped and cluttered, even though nothing has changed since yesterday. Maybe it’s because my family, who I get along with beautifully 95% of the time, seems to be taking over every space that I want to be in…alone. My point-as I’m sure you’ve deduced by now, being the clever readers that you are-is that I’m in a bad mood.

A stifled, uncomfortable, feels-like-I’m-wearing-jeans-that-are-two-sizes-too-small bad mood.

Thankfully, there’s a way to lighten the weight of such a mood.

Cooking.

June 25, 2010

Spinach Risotto



I remember it like it was yesterday, the first time I made this risotto. Using my mom’s copy of "Cooking for Madam", I set about making the complex rice dish, having only cooked by myself a handful of times, and ended up discovering a true calling.

I wish I had some ghastly, cautionary tale regarding that experience, but I honestly don’t. The risotto was delicious and only served to further propel me towards deeper and deeper foodie love. Reading the recipes and stories in that cookbook by Jackie Kennedy’s former personal chef solidified and intensified my love of cooking and my desire to become a chef. The idea of traveling the world and cooking for fabulous dinner parties and quiet get-togethers sounded too good to be true (and still kinda does). This book seriously started it all for me.

Who knows? Maybe this recipe will do something equally profound in your own life. Or maybe it’ll just be really yummy. Either way, it’s worth a shot!
Before starting anything actually rice-related, you’ll be chopping an onion and crying quietly to yourself because you don’t have any garlic.

Once you’ve recovered, heat a rather substantial amount of olive oil in a saucepan and cook the onion until it’s softened and slightly browned.


After the onion has been sufficiently cooked, toss in some Arborio rice and stir to coat it thoroughly with the olive oil.

Now it’s time to add some white wine. For the amount specified in this recipe, using some of those little bottles is much more convenient that opening a regular bottle.


Once the wine has mostly cooked away, it’s time to add some chicken broth, which you already have waiting at the ready. Seeing as you’ll be adding the broth…ugh, I don’t like that word. Broth. It just sounds weird. I’m going to say “stock” from now on.

Anyway, you’ll be adding the stock in about one-cup increments, waiting for the rice to absorb it before adding more. For this reason, pour the chicken stock into a microwaveable container and heat until it’s warm, so it won’t reduce the temperature too much every time you add it to the risotto.

After about 20 minutes, once the rice has absorbed about 4-5 cups of stock, you’ll have something that looks like this.


If you want to continue with the spinach (which I highly recommend), place about ½ cup of fresh spinach leaves in a blender (or your infomercialicious Magic Bullet like me) and add a bit of water, blending them until liquefied.
I’m using a lot of parenthesis this post.


After mixing in a bit of Parmesan cheese into the still-hot risotto, pour in the pureed spinach and stir to combine.


And there you have it! Spinach risotto that would make the Grinch beam with pride.



Spinach Risotto
Recipe adapted from “Cooking for Madam” by Marta Sgubin and Nancy Nicholas


½ cup Olive Oil
1 medium Onion, finely chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 ½ cups Arborio Rice
5 cups Chicken Stock
½ cup White Wine
½ cup Parmesan Cheese
½ cup fresh Spinach


Heat the olive oil in a heavy 3-quart saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until golden brown, then add the rice and cook for a minute or so, stirring so that each grain is coated with oil. Meanwhile, heat the stock. Add the wine to the rice and cook until it has evaporated, then start adding the stock. Pour in a little at a time, just enough so the rice is covered, then cook, stirring constantly, until the stock has been absorbed. Continue to add stock until the rice is the right consistency-al dente. This should take about 20 minutes. Begin tasting after 15 minutes. You may not need to use all the stock, but judge by the texture of the rice, not the amount of liquid.

While the rice is still hot, stir in Parmesan cheese.
Wash the spinach leaves, then put them, still wet, into a blender and liquefy them. You may need to add a tiny bit more water. Add the puree to the rice and stir it in. The rice will become a nice green color.

Serve at once with a little bit more Parmesan cheese.

June 23, 2010

A New Look

Well, here we have it! Completely revamped and redone, “La Kocinera” is still open for business.

Although I completely adored the blog’s previous look, I was having some major issues with the HTML and links, which were easily resolved by switching to one of Blogger’s layouts, as opposed to one that I had downloaded elsewhere.

Anyway, this is just to let you know that everything’s tip top over here, just with a few of the kinks worked out.

And yes, I realize that I’ve used the word “kinks” a lot in recent posts.

I like that word.

June 20, 2010

RSS Feed

Phew! Working the kinks out of an RSS Feed is work!

Anyway, this is just to let any of you who have attempted to subscribe to my RSS Feed and were redirected to the home page or just saw some squirly HTML stuff know that the feed is now up and running. Give one of the links a click and go ahead and subscribe!

The World's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies. Ever.

Ohhh man.

These cookies are so good.

In fact, they’re too good.

Way too good.

I hear their siren’s song calling me from the depths of my freezer, where I had hidden half of them for a later date. They say, “Just have one more” and “Come on, what do you mean you’ve already had three today?

These cookies will be the end of me.

June 19, 2010

Mornin' Sunshine!

Every once and awhile, isn’t it nice to have something special for the most important meal of the day? I don’t know about you, but my everyday breakfasts tend to be pretty simple, consisting of waffles or an English muffin with a glass of orange juice. Not very interesting, but what can I say? I am not a morning person.

Not one bit.

June 15, 2010

Once upon a time...

…in a faraway land, there lived a lovely young lass. Day and night she dreamed of nothing but avocados. She ate them at almost every meal, always as a side dish or a component of a sandwich. She longed for a dish that would make avocado the star, not just a supporting player. She searched high and low, from sea to shining sea, for this magical dish yet sadly never found it. One day, just as she was sinking into the depths of despair, she happened upon a little article in “Cooking Light” magazine that would forever change her destiny. Within those hallowed pages lay a recipe so delicious, so easy, so…avocado-y that it exceeded her wildest dreams. It’s name? Avocado Soup.

June 12, 2010

Pico de Gallo Salad

Let’s just get this out of the way.

I love pico de gallo.

This stuff falls under my list of things that I could eat every single day. What else is on that list, you ask?

June 10, 2010

My Afternoon: A Series of Haiku

Line-drying pasta,

Julia Child is busy,

Pasta is not French.


Same ten commercials,

Is all Cooking Channel has,

I can recite them.


That’s a good asset,

Cooking Channel should hire me,

I make good cupcakes.


Galloping Gourmet,

Full of seventies goodness,

Graham loves his white suits.


Why write a haiku?

Because haiku are easy,

I don’t like poems.

June 7, 2010

A Day in the City

I don’t know about you, but whenever I have an errand to run, I like to incorporate something fun as well. Thankfully, getting a haircut isn’t that much of a chore in the first place. Still, I have a principle to uphold.

So, finding myself out and about in downtown Houston along with my family, I set out to celebrate the completion of a fairly easy errand with a trip out to lunch as well as a spot of grocery shopping (requisite stop at Starbucks included).

Yes, that’s as wild as it gets for me.

Anyway, after getting a lovely new haircut, we headed off for some lunch. After a bit of debating and driving around, we ended up at One’s a Meal Greek Restaurant, an eatery of which we had heard many praises, but had never tried.

June 4, 2010

Weeknight Dinner: Salmon al Cartoccio

Don’t let the fancy name fool you; this is a very easy dish to prepare, making it perfect for those busy weeknights. You know, when it’s already eight o’clock and you’re working on simplex tableaus for your Finite Math class and have “Money Can’t Buy You Class” by Luann from The Real Housewives of New York annoyingly stuck in your head and you just want something quick and yummy. One of those nights.

Or is that just me?

Either way, this meal serves two purposes, really. One, it’s an easily prepared, healthy, and all-around delicious dish for any day of the week. Two, chopping tomatoes will inadvertently help banish any unwanted eighties, Madonna-esque songs from your head.

June 2, 2010

Just a Quick Note

Just a quick note about different pages. Originally, I had a section on the sidebar that listed pages such as "Music", "Food", etc. As I'm still getting all the kinks worked out with this blog, I'm been finding organizing that stuff a little difficult. So, for the moment, all posts will only appear on this page. In the future, I hope to have specific sections of the blog for specific topics.

A Sweet Surprise

Although I definitely plan for this blog to have oodles of recipes and food-related posts, at the moment I admit that I don’t exactly know when I’m going to make it to the grocery store this week. Keeping this obstacle in mind, please know that there will be cooking posts up soon, but for now, I thought I’d kick off another area of the blog…music!

The first album that I’m going to review is one of my all-time favorites. “The Pursuit” by British jazz/pop/really-shouldn’t-be-limited-to-labeling Jamie Cullum effortlessly flows between revamped jazz classics to techno-influenced dance tunes to fun, unassuming love songs and more.

June 1, 2010

The Beginning

*Inhale*

*Exhale*


Do it with me!


*Inhale*
*Exhale*


Feeling centered? Good, me too.
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