Saturday, January 31, 2009

Waited for the bliss

I have to admit, this next one worried me just a bit. In general I'm not opposed to "wurst" which is really just German for sausage. And when I lived in Austria I ate my fill of all kinds of wurst. But the idea of making my own liverwurst appetizer sounded daunting. And the idea of cream cheese and liver isn't really one of my top combinations.

And yet, as is not uncommon in Thathouse, everything came together quite beautifully. Aesthetically pleasing, the parsley and cream cheese bring you directly to the plate. More than a mere garnish, the parsley makes the cream cheese less sweet. And once sliced open, I hope you get the oooohhh and aaahhhhs that I did. It's such a pretty surprise.

As for the taste? Creamy, and not just because of the cream cheese. It's all the best parts of liver without having to do any of the hard work of actually making it. And it's so easy to slice and serve!


Parslied Liverwurst Pate (From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 8 oz roll of liverwurst
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped parsley
  1. Peel the covering off the liverwurst.
  2. Spread the cream cheese out evenly on a lightly oiled piece of wax paper to the dimensions of 6x7 inches. Place the liverwurst in the center, then roll the wax paper around it, tucking up the ends. Chill until firm.
  3. Then peel off the wax paper and roll the cheese covered liverwurst in the chopped parlsey, covering completely and elongating the log. Serve cold.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Never grumbles or fusses

Thatboy is very patient and understanding with my crazy cooking. Basically he's happy as long as he's getting fed. Which means when I give him a plate of cold meatballs he only questions me two or three times, "are you sure they're supposed to be cold?"

And frankly, I have nothing to support my position other than FF's word. She claims these meatballs remoulade are meatballs that can be made ahead and don't have to be reheated; they are served at room temperature.

Here's what they really are - tasty, vinegary little bites. If you don't like vinegar these are not for you. However, if you're like me and enjoy the way your mouth puckers up, then these are a great little snack. And in truth, they are fairly addictive. It's easy to pop one, then another into your mouth. And they serve as a fantastic alternative to the ever-popular cocktail meatballs in grape jelly. Although you may get a few raised eyeballs if you bring them to a Superbowl Party this weekend.


Meatballs Remoulade (From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 4 Tbsp minced onions
  • 3 Tbsp shortening
  • 4 Tbsp horseradish
  • 1/2 cup tarragon vinegar (I used Sherry Vinegar cause...tarragon, huh?)
  • 2 Tbsp catsup
  • 1/4 tsp cayene pepper
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
  • 1/2 cup minced celery
  • 2 Tbsp minced parsley
  1. Using your hands, mix the beef, about 1/2 tsp salt, pepper, and onion.
  2. Shape into 50 small meatballs about the size of marbles.
  3. Melt the shortening in a large skillet and fry the meatballs over medium heat, browning them on all sides. Put them in a shallow dish.
  4. Whisk together the horseradish, vinegar, catsup, cayenne, oil, scallions, celery, and parsley until well blended.
  5. Add salt to taste.
  6. Pour the sauce over the meatballs and let stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour before serving.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Not so self assured

It's the last day of Everything's Better Wrapped in Bacon Week! I know it's only Thursday, but I've been subscribing to the "weekend starts on Thursday" ever since college and I see no reason to stop now.

I'm skipping the chicken liver pate in the book because, as I've already mentioned, I'm steering away from liver for the time being, AND because it's not wrapped in bacon. Instead I skipped right on over to Country Terrine.

I was a little nervous going into this recipe for a couple reasons. First, because I already noted that Thatboy was not impressed by the pate. At all. I wasn't really looking forward to telling him we were going to do another cold pate for dinner. Second because the big draw of this pate is the terrine. A terrine is the dish it's made in and served in. The terrine is supposed to be so beautiful that it accentuates the beauty of the pate. Something like this:

I don't have a terrine, because really, when do you use a terrine? So I wasn't really sure what I was going to make this in.

I solved both of my problems. First I told Thatboy we were having meatloaf for dinner. I figured that even if it was supposed to be served cold, he'd be happier with a hot meal. And I was right. He LOVED this. He was definitely more into it than the pate. He even ate it for leftovers!

My second solution was to use my meatloaf pan. It didn't lend to a pretty display like the terrine would have, but I solved that by plating it. It was pretty attractive on its own, even without the fancy schmancy terrine.

This really isn't so different from a meatloaf, but I love the addition of the spinach. It's such an unexpected addition, but I like it, especially when served cold.


Country Terrine (From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground pork
  • 1 lb ground veal
  • 1 lb fresh spinach, blanched, drained, and chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp thyme, crumbled
  • 1 tsp dried basil, crumbled
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp mace
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 10 slices pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 325. Put a shallow baking dish in the oven with 1 inch of hot water. Grease a 2 1/2 quart terrine. Combine all ingredients except bacon.
  2. Use your hands to mix and blend well.
  3. Lay 6 or 7 bacon strips crosswise over the bottom and sides of the terrine.
  4. Pack the meat mixture into the lined dish; fold the loose ends of bacon over the top and cover any blank spaces with the extra bacon strips.
  5. Cover the dish with foil, place in the pan of water, and bake 1 hour. Remove from the oven, cover with a plate, and weigh down with a heavy can to remove the fat and press out the air pockets.
  6. Cool, drain off the fat, and refrigerate.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tell Your Mama

Welcome Back to Everything's Better Wrapped in Bacon Week!

This is the recipe that started this whole adventure. As you may recall, my inspiration to cook through the Fannie Farmer Cookbook was a recipe for Pate de campagne by Molly Wizenberg in Bon Apetit.

I immediately turned to the Fannie Farmer Cookbook for her version, which is, wait for it, wrapped in bacon! FF's describes pate as a cold meatloaf, which is a pretty accurate description. This recipe requires a lot of fat because "it is the fat that keeps the meat moist during cooking." After cooking, the pate is pressed so that the fat runs out.

And speaking of fat, this is another one of Thatgirl's "rules to live by" - make friends with your butcher! When I went in to get the pork fat we got into a discussion of pate, with him sharing his family's recipe, and me promising to bring him in a copy of this one. And then he sent me off with over a pound of pork fat - for free. I'll be dropping the recipe off on Friday when I go to pick up some veal knuckles!

The result of this? Well Ms. Wizenberg describes the taste of a good pate to be near transcendent. If this is true. I haven't quite hit it yet. Thatboy didn't appreciate this at all. As for me, I liked this SO much better than regular meatloaf. Was it because it was cold? Because it was pork and chicken? Because it was wrapped in bacon? Who knows. But I can tell you there is quite a feeling of accomplishment when you pull this sucker from the oven. Or when you tell your butcher you're making a pate. Or when you can casually toss "So that pate I made last weekend" into a conversation.


Chicken and Pork Pate (From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 1 whole chicken breast, skinned and boned
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1 3/4-2 lbs chicken thighs
  • 1 2/4 lb pork with some fat on
  • 1 lb solid pork fat
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Madeira
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup minced shallots
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground thyme
  • 3/4 lb bacon
  1. Cut the chicken breast lengthwise into 1/2 inch strips.
  2. Toss them with the brandy and let marinate while preparing the other ingredients.
  3. Remove the skin and cut away the meat from the chicken thighs.
  4. Grind this, along with the pork and the pork fat by running though the food processor.
  5. Add the eggs, Madeira, salt, shallots, allspice, cloves, and a generous amount of pepper and thyme.
  6. Beat the mixture until smooth and well blended.
  7. Preheat the oven to 325. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and drop the strips of bacon in.
  8. Let them cook 2-3 minutes, just enough to reduce their saltiness and then drain, rinse, and pat dry.
  9. Line a 2 qt casserole with the bacon, leaving overhanging pieces to cover the top.
  10. Pat in a layer of the meat, then lay strips of chicken breast over in a neat line, about 1/2 inch apart.
  11. Add another layer of meat, then chicken strips, ending with a final layer of meat.
  12. Pull the bacon strips over to cover the top of the meat, trimming off the excess to avoid a double layer.
  13. Cover with foil and with a snug-fitting lid. Place the casserole in a pan of hot water that comes halfway up the sides. Bake for 1-1 1/4 hours, or until the fat runs clear.
  14. Remove from the oven, uncover, and weight down with a plate that just fits inside the casserole, on which you place heavy cans. Let cool completely. Refrigerate, preferably 24 hours, then serve cool, but not ice cold.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

There was a way...

I would like to welcome you all to a very special week. A very special week I would like to dedicate to Wan, and if you can't figure out why, you need to be checking her blog more frequently.

We'll call this week: Everything's Better Wrapped in Bacon Week! Hosted by FF, moderated by yours truly.

I'll give you an example. Shrimp. Shrimp are a wonderfood. They can be an entree or an appetizer. They can be grilled, broiled, sauted, boiled, steamed. Eaten hot. Eaten cold. Depending on their size they can be finger foods or cut into pieces and eaten with a fork and knife. How on Earth can they get any better? Why wrapped in bacon of course! (See - it ties in with the theme of this week!)

Actually, FF's recipe is for Oysters in Bacon, but if you recall, I've already declared oysters to be one of those substitute foods. And I sub in shrimp. Because as we've already determined shrimp + bacon = deliciousness.

This is another one of those "not really a recipe" recipes. Because really. 9/10 of you could figure out how to make these merely from the name. "Hmmmmm shrimp in bacon? I obviously throw bacon at the shrimp and hope it sticks." Nevertheless, these are a sure fire crowd pleaser, whether topped on pasta, served as an appetizer, or alongside a niiiiice rare filet mignon.


Shrimp in Bacon (adapted from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook's Oysters in Bacon)
  • 24 shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 12 strips of bacon, cut in half

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Wrap each shrimp in a piece of bacon.
  2. Arrange the wrapped shrimp, with bacon ends down, on a rack in a shallow pan.
  3. Bake only until the bacon is slightly browned. Drain on paper towels.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The next best thing



I was talking to Thatboy about how disappointed I was that I couldn't think up a DMB song to cook to in this quarter's Eat to the Beat. I just feel like DMB is so "us," which is stupid since I was into DMB faaaaaaaarrr before I every met Thatboy. Growing up in Pennsylvania put us in the know far before the band became well known on the West Coast.

Thatboy wasn't very sympathetic to my plight, complaining that I should choose a song from his favorite band, Weezer. When I pointed out that their songs don't really lend themselves to food either, he blurted out:

Somebody's Heine'
Is crowdin' my icebox

Somebody's cold one

Is givin' me chills

- Say it Ain't So

And then we got into an ugly debate about whether Heine referred to someone's bottom sitting on the ice box, or whether it referred to Heinekin. And it ended up with him complaining that we don't have a grill so we can't make beer can chicken. I told him to find me a song and I would make a meal from it. With delight he pulled out his collection and I was treated to a Weezer marathon. We came dangerously close to having Pork and Beans.

And this is where things are going to get a little dicey. I may even lose a close friend. You see, the song I ended up using came from the Weezer album Maladroit. If you don't know my friend the monkey's thoughts on Maladroit, you should check this out. She doesn't mince words or hide her true feelings about this album. So by making this dish, I fear that I will forever be written off as "that girl who has no musical taste."

But in my defense, the lyrics of this song are PERFECT for someone who has leftover lamb in the fridge. Really, how often to you have leftover lamb in the fridge? And from there it just came together so easily.
Cheese smells so good
On a burnt piece of lamb

-Dope Nose

Well, I didn't burn the lamb, but I thought a lamb and cheese sandwich would be phenomenal. Like a cheese-steak sandwich, but with lamb! And I have this shepherd's cheese Thatboy and I are in love with, which seemed only right since it comes from the same animal...

And then, because I grew up with a lot of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food I instantly decided we needed a yogurt sauce with it. But something with some kick!

I LOVED this sandwich, especially with the yogurt sauce which I may or may not have scooped up with my fingers. Thatboy wasn't as impressed, and tonight he's going to make his own lamb sandwich - I can't wait to see what he comes up with.....although he just asked if the rolls were precut, so I think I need to go supervise in the kitchen!



Dope Nose Sandwich
  • 2 sandwich rolls
  • 6-8 slices of cooked lamb
  • 6 slices of shepherd's cheese
  • 1/2 cup iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 1/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  1. Toast sandwich rolls. Preheat oven to 200. Place 3-4 slices of lamb on top of bottom buns.
  2. Layer 3 slices of cheese on top of lamb. Cook for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
  3. While sandwich cooks, combine yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and salt.
  4. When sandwich is removed from oven, pour yogurt sauce over cheese and lamb. Add shredded lettuce.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Went out last night

and I'm still feeling it this morning! Happy Lunar New Year to those of you who celebrate. We celebrated at a huge festival with some friends, amazing food, entertainment, and of course, carnival rides and games. The boys had great fun at the shooting gallery game but Thatboy ended up empty-handed.

In honor of the Lunar New Year, today's FF recipe has a decidedly Asian twist. I mean, sure she calls them barbecue wings, but really - does your barbecue sauce recipe use soy sauce? And frankly these don't taste like barbecue at all. But they are sweet and sticky with a nice smokey, garlicy backing. They are insanely easy to eat - disappearing right off the plate in a matter of moments. And since the oven does most of the work, I can't think of an easier appetizer/snack/superbowl treat. I mean, who doesn't love wings?



Barbecued Chicken Wings (From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 12 chicken wings
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  1. Preheat oven to 325. Remove the wing tips and break each wing into two pieces.
  2. Place in a shallow baking dish. Mix the remaining ingredients and pour over the wings.
  3. Bake for 1 hour and serve in the baking dish.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dig It

This is a blog post full of exciting news. Although, as usual, the news is always far more exciting for me than anyone reading this!

For instance, Thatboy and I are catching up on our DVR'd shows, and I'm loving all the midseason returns that have started the past few weeks. (I'm even more excited about some of the upcoming ones!) I was pleasantly surprised (understatement of the year) to see that Quest is performing on America's Best Dance Crew. Mostly because I'm still in love with Dominic from SYTYCD. I mean, yeah yeah, Hok and Ryan are amazing, but Dominic owns my heart. I honestly love this show to watch all the amazing dancers who were rejected from SYTYCD. AND to see Shane Sparks.



The second piece of exciting news is the award I was given by Giz and Psychgrad from Equal Opportunity Kitchen, the Lemonade Award! The Lemonade Award is given to blogs that have a refreshing outlook, style, vibe, etc. These blogs offer recipes & cooking/baking techniques that are unique, interesting and of course, refreshing. It's no surprise Giz and Psychgrad were awarded this award (gosh that's awkward...) the recipes are interesting, and ther personality of these bloggers shine through. And I'm sure there's going to be even more personality and shining with the planning of Psychgrad's wedding which will be later this year!


Here are the rules for this award...

- Add the logo in your blog.
- Add a link to the person who gave you the award.
- Nominate other (refreshing…like lemonade) blogs of your choice.
- Don’t forget to add links to those blogs in yours.
- Also leave a message for your nominees in their blogs, informing them about the award.

And so my nominees are:

Melissa of Made by Melissa
Robin of Made with Love
Kelly of My Sweet Life
BAKE-EN
Chelle of Brown Eyed Baker


And without further ado, on to the recipe! I really loved this recipe, mostly because it uses Mushroom Duxelles, which I already had on hand from when I made the mushroom tarts. Pretty handy huh? Almost like FF knew I was going to make both recipes when she placed them side by side in the book. And I highly recommend this as a way to use up YOUR mushroom duxelles, because I know after reading about them yesterday you all mixed up a huge batch of them.

This was my first experience making what are generally termed "hand pies" - pies that are small enough to be held in your hand. Although FF doesn't call these hand pies, she refers to them as risolettes. Alexandre Dumas in his culinary dictionary described rissolettes as "all kinds of minced meat cooked menu, with a little fat beef or veal, bacon, salt, pepper, parsley, spring onions, shallots, three egg yolks, make this farce on small toast bread, and serve hot hors d'oeuvres." While this description sounds appetizing, and I was beyond shocked to see that Monsieur Dumas had written a culinary dictionary (which is now on my must read list), this does not even come close to FF's recipe. Does anyone else think she might have picked a fancy Frenchy sounding word to entitle her recipe? Sneaky sneaky Fannie.

What FF's rissolettes are, are little pies of mushrooms. Plain and simple. Easier to make than to say. Almost as easy to make as eat. Why are they so easy? Because they combine 2 recipes we've already made! Whheeeeeee. It's like taking Biology for the second time and getting 100% on every test!

Rissolettes (From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  1. Preheat oven to 450. Roll out pastry 1/4 thick and cut into 3 inch rounds.
  2. Place 1 tsp of filling in the center of half of the pieces.
  3. Wet the edges, cover with the remaining pieces, and crimp the edges together with the tines of a fork.
  4. Set on a cookie sheet, prick the tops and bake about 6 minutes until pale brown.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Come and Get It!

Thatboy and I have been celebrating the glorious weather lately by hitting the beach on the weekends. Usually we head out in the morning and Thatboy hits the waves while Thatdog and I hit the beach. Thatdog runs and plays with his four legged friends, and then when he needs a break, I get to sit and do some reading. Around lunch time, Thatboy heads in and we enjoy a picnic. Y'all know how much I love picnics right?

Normally our beach-nics are made up of fruit, cookies, sandwiches, and cheese and crackers. But last weekend, I ran out sandwich bread. So sandwiches were out. Luckily I had some of that tart dough left over, so I decided I'd make another one of FF's savory tarts to bring along with us.

This tart is fully baked, and then filled with Mushrooms Duxelles. Mushrooms Dux-what? Fear not loyal readers. I had no idea what these were either. And it turns out it's another of those fancy names for something ridiculously non-fancy. Mushrooms sauteed with butter and onions. Yup. Probably something you've had on more than one occasion. Especially if you've ever had Thatdad make you a steak.

And you know how Thatboy gets oh so excited when I saute garlic? Well multiply that by 50 and you'll have a gist of his reaction to sauteing mushrooms. He must have asked 30 times what I was making that smelled so good, and when would it be ready?


Mushroom Duxelles (From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 lb mushrooms, finely chopped
  1. Melt the butter in a very large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, and cook, stirring for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until all the moisture has evaporated, about 20 minutes.


Mushroom and Cream Cheese Tart (From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 Tbsp cold butter, in small pieces
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup Mushroom Duxelles
  • 6 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Make the tart dough. Preheat oven to 425. Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Cut in the butter with your fingers or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal or tiny peas. Whisk in the egg yolks and 2 Tbsp water together in another bowl and add to the flour mixture. Blend until the pastry is smooth and holds together in a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  2. Roll out the dough. Press the dough into tartlet tins. Bake 15-20 minutes.
  3. Increase oven temperature to 450. Mix the mushrooms, cream cheese, and enough of the cream so that it spreads easily.
  4. Pour into fully baked tart shells, a dust the top with Parmesan and bake 5 minutes.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

It's good to have the both of you back

And not just back, back with reinforcements! Datetwin and her husband are home from the hospital with G-Squared! G is my first boy 0f 2009. You see, in my life, I don't count babies, I count boys. Mostly because no one I know has had/is having anything else. We had 5 boys last year and G was the first of 3 expected this year.

G is huge by baby standards, although we all knew he would be. (He's not so big for a full grown adult though, if I weighed what he weighed I don't think my organs would still function). He has 10 fingers and 10 toes and was not anxious to join the rest of us here in "the world." He tried to stay in for far longer than a cooperative baby should. As much as that should be an indication of a trouble maker, Datetwin reports that so far he is a very easy baby. I think he's lulling her into a false sense of security.

I dropped by today with a big bag of goodies I promised them months ago. When I mentioned I'd bring them by some food after the baby was born, Mr. Datetwin's eyes lit up: "YES PLEASE!" And so I more than happily complied. There's a mixture of hot and cold, chicken and beef, and bland and spicy.


Swedish Meatballs


Chicken with Rice and Green Beans


Ham and Cheese Deli Wraps


Mozzarella stuffed meatballs


Baked Chicken with Baked Potatoes


Pasta Salad

Welcome to the world G-Squared!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

On my way

I know I'm all over the place with the blogging lately - but we keep having the unexpected show up! We went on a mini roadtrip last night/today which kept me away from the blog - but now I can show you our good times.

As usual, I'll begin with a story. You see, I'm not much for fast food. It's just not entirely appealing to me and usually leaves me sick after. I tend to stick to the sandwich chains for quick food - Subway, Quiznos, Togos. Thatboy takes advantage of me being out of town to scarf down as much Taco Bell and McDonalds as he can. The one unifying thing about us is that we both love icy, fruity drinks loaded with sugar and calories. We are frequently known to make 7-11 runs for slurpees. We will head to the local Islands just for their Cola Lime Ice (and during the bar summer, Thatboy would bring me one on days I'd been especially dilligent in my studies).

So you can imagine how frustrating it is for us to watch commercials for Sonic on a near daily basis advertising delicious looking fruity ice drinks in hundreds of flavors, when there is not a Sonic within 100 miles of us.

Whenever we go on a long roadtrip, we always search for Sonics along our drive - just so we can drink some of that goodness. We have had some close calls, but something inevitably ruins our Sonic search. Like realzing we passed it 3 exits ago.

Last night, as we passed cow after cow after cow on our mini-roadtrip, and I was struck with an idea. "I bet there's a Sonic somewhere around here - when we get to the hotel, I'm going to check, and tomorrow on our way home, we're stopping!" Thatboy agreed immediately. I located one along our return route and we were set. (The ironic thing is, when we got there, we realized that it was located at the exact exit where I came up with the idea.)






First you pull into a carport and order and pay.


Then a nice lady skates your food out to you. Around this time Thatboy was mumbling something about "racing skates" versus "cross country skates" but as usual when he starts talking about blading I tuned him out.


The reason for the detour - Ocean Water and Cherry Limeaid. Do you see those colors? We don't think they're natural. But usually colors like that also indicate loads and loads of sugary goodness!



Based on some recommendations, we also got some tater tots. Mmmmm tater tots. A nice change from french fries.


Thatboy thought he would enjoy the tater tots more if they were coated in chili and cheese. He was wrong.

AND since we were there during Happy Hour, we couldn't leave without grabbing a few more drinks for the road, for half off! Mission accomplished!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Yesterday

We had the most sinfully delicious dinner ever. Except it wasn't as bad as it could be, which is a redeeming factor. You see, I was halfway through with making these savory tarts when I realized the recipe called for cream. And I was out of cream. Normally this means a quick trip to the grocery store, but yesterday I was in no state to be driving. You see, Thatboy decided we should celebrate MLK day the old fashioned way. With alcohol! So I had already had a martini and since I think I have already established I'm not a good drinker, I was in no shape to be driving.

So I subbed in skim milk for cream, thinking I'd probably ruin the recipe, but, oh well, I think there's a little more rum in that bottle, and I'm sure we have tequila around, and everyone knows that a liquid diet is so fashionable right now.........

As luck would have it, not only did I not ruin the recipe, but this might have been the best thing I've put in my mouth in ages. I ate mine, the entire time trying to figure out if I could finish it before Thatboy finished his and subtly distract him while stealing whatever he had left.

Unlike the last recipe, this one uses Tart pastry dough and not pie pastry dough - I bet you didn't even know there was a difference. I know I didn't! According to FF, this one won't get tough from overhandling, so go ahead and throw it right in the food processor.


Ham and Cheese Tarts (From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 Tbsp cold butter, in small pieces
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp mustard
  • 2 oz cooked ham, minced
  • 3/4 cup grated swiss cheese (I used Gruyere)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup cream (I used skim milk)
  • salt and pepper
  1. Make the tart dough. Preheat oven to 425. Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Cut in the butter with your fingers or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal or tiny peas. Whisk in the egg yolks and 2 Tbsp water together in another bowl and add to the flour mixture. Blend until the pastry is smooth and holds together in a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  2. Roll out the dough. Press the dough into tartlet tins. Bake 8 minutes.
  3. Paint the bottoms of the shells with mustard and distribute the ham evenly over them. Mix the rest of the ingredients, our into the shells, and bake 20 minutes.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tell me what you see

Thatboy doesn't read my blog. If he didn't have a digital camera I don't think he'd ever use the computer at home. He is very much a "computer = work" kind of guy.

And yet when I write an entry that makes me laugh out loud I love to strap him down and make him read it. It's a good thing my duct tape supply isn't running low.

And when I read him some of my latest entries he said: Do your readers know the kind of trash you feed me? Do they understand we had nachos for dinner? As a meal? And if they're impressed by that, you should tell them about the pigs in a blanket.

And so we move to another one of Fannie's "fancy appetizers." She dresses them up by calling them "cocktail frankfurters in pastry" but it's not hard to see what they really are.



On the plus side, it gave me the opportunity to try a new pastry dough. I do love my Alton Brown recipe, which I use exclusively, but this is a great basic pastry. What's interesting to me is that my AB pastry dough is made in the food processor. Fannie says this dough cannot be made in a food processor because the flour and shortening should not be blended too well. The shortening bits left in the dough puff and expand during baking and make the dough flakey. This makes sense to me, given that my AB pastry dough uses both butter and shortening. (butter makes it tender, shortening makes it flakey)

While "flakey" isn't the first adjective that comes to mind when thinking of pigs in a blanket, this is a pretty good dough, and oh so easy. And the pigs in a blanket themselves? When I put them down in front of Thatboy he exclaimed, "WOAH! That's a lot of pigs in a blanket! I can't eat all of them." But he did. Every single one.



Cocktail Frankfurters in Pastry (From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 3/4 lb small cocktail frankfurters
  • 1-2 Tbsp prepared mustard
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp water
  1. Preheat oven to 425. Mix the flour and salt.
  2. Cut the shortening with a pastry blender or two knives. Combine lightly only until the mixture resembles coarse meal or very tiny peas: its texture will not be uniform, but will contain crumbs and small bits and pieces.
  3. Sprinkle water over the flour micture, a tablespoon at a time, and mix lightly with a fork, using only enough water so that the pastry will hold together when pressed gently into a ball.
  4. Divide the dough in half and roll out thin.
  5. Distribute the franks on the dough, leaving enough room between them so that the pastry can be wrapped around each one.
  6. Paint each frank generously with mustard.
  7. Cut the dough apart with a sharp knife or pizza cutter, and make a package of each frank, pinching the seams together.
  8. Place 1 inch apart on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Paint the tops and sides with the egg and water glaze and bake 12-15 minutes until crisp and golden.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hope you will enjoy the show!

I love when the Ks come to play. But they seem to possess some kind of magic that makes time go by so much faster. Last night for instance - at one point we looked at the time and realized the Ks had been there for 5 hours! Sitting at the table with us, sharing stories and making each other laugh. And we realized that they would probably be in the same position for a couple hours more at least. But that's the beauty of good friends.

We were celebrating K1's birthday. K1 and I both have the most horrible, terrible, no good, very bad birthdays. And so it was important to me to make this a fabulous birthday celebration. We even had balloons!

This celebration centered around our "the world's blurriest cupcakes!"

In real life they weren't this blurry....they were in fact cupcakes from Eclipse Chocolat, an artisan chocolate maker in San Diego who has the most inventive combinations. Their creme fraiche cupcakes are all chocolate and filled with cream fillings. These were mint chocolate, chocolate goat cheese, and chocolate creme filled.

And from there the dinner just came together. Nothing goes better with chocolate cupcakes than champagne, so I knew we had to have that. And since chocolate and cupcakes sounds so French, I stuck with that theme.


I used some of the champagne to make a fondue with Brie! Which was perfect to keep us occupied while dinner cooked.


Leg of lamb is so French Provencal, n'est pas? Begun on the grill, and finished in the oven. Then hacked to bits by Thatboy.


For future reference, it is much easier to carve meat before you finish 2 bottles of wine. Although, as you can see, I take blurry pictures no matter how much alcohol I've consumed.


K1 was especially impressed by the homemade huckleberry vinaigrette.


Luckily, by the time the dessert rolled around, my camera was better able to focus. And the cupcakes were worth the wait! Even with some strange toppings they were a hit. And the Ks love corn nuts on their cupcakes! I was a big fan of the creamy goat cheese. And Thatboy by this time was insisting the chocolate crumbles were some sort of hallucinogenic herb. For those of you keeping track, we were almost 4 bottles in by this time.


I was a little worried about how the cupcakes would go over, and since I wanted to make K1's birthday fool proof, I whipped up an apple crisp earlier that day. But the cupcakes went over so well, the crisp went untouched! Which I'm sure Thatboy will appreciate when the hangover wears off.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY K1! We're so glad we were able to spend it with you!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Change the world

Growing up, Thatdad was in charge of yeast breads. Or one bread in particular, Challah every week. It was the only time yeast was used in our house. All other breads were Thatmom's domain. Zucchini bread, banana bread, and for special occasion dinners, baking powder biscuits.

I have a recipe for baking powder biscuits that I love. Everyone loves it. I get rave reviews when I serve it at my own parties, and when I bring them to holiday dinners. So when I saw that Fannie's next appetizer involved her recipe for baking powder biscuits, I was tempted to use my own recipe.

But that does defeat the purpose of my little New Year's foray, doesn't it? Besides, there is a slight problem with my fabulous biscuits. They use a cup of heavy cream. Now, granted, this is probably why they are so fantastic and addictive, but it makes them a little unhealthy. And this is a New Year. And everyone's vowing to Change their life, Change their lifestyle, Change their world. So I figured I'd give Fannie's recipe a shot since it uses milk instead of cream.

What's great about this recipe, is it makes plenty of biscuits, which are perfect for on the go breakfasts. The biscuits are the real recipe here, the appetizer itself is another less than inspired recipe. But it does work fantastically for an easy lunch. Who doesn't like ham sandwiches?

These biscuits are best served warm. That's where you really get the crusty outside, with the melt in your mouth soft doughy insides. Thatboy loves them with a spot of honey inside, I'm happy enough with melty butter.


Baking Powder Biscuits (From the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2/3 cup milk
  1. Preheat oven to 450. Grease two 8-inch cake pans. Put the flour, salt, baking powder, cream of tartar, and sugar in a bowl.
  2. Cut the shortening into the flour with two knives or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  3. Add the milk all at once and stir just until the dough forms a ball around the fork.
  4. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and knead 14 times. Pat until 1/2 inch thick. Cut into rounds with a cookie cutter. Place touching each other in the cake pans and bake 9 minutes.


Small Biscuits and Ham (From the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • Baking Powder Biscuits
  • 1/4 lb sweet butter, softened
  • 1/2 lb cooked ham, sliced thin
  • 3 Tbsp mustard
  1. While biscuits are still warm, split and generously butter the insides of the biscuits.
  2. Cut the ham to size and place 2 slices, with a dab of mustard, between the halves.
  3. Close the sandwiches and serve warm.

Friday, January 16, 2009

See the tear?

I've been really harsh to Fannie lately. Maybe you've noticed it. I've even been questioning whether or not she should perhaps have written a cookbook at all.

And then I made these.

They are beautiful. Their beauty made me cry. Of course, the tears could also be due to the martinis I made for us tonight...I'm embarrassed at what a lightweight I've become. Nevertheless, these are gorgeous and tasty. AND even better - far easier than their name belies.

I do have to admit, I take a certain amount of joy in presenting something that looks and sounds complicated, but is, in reality, incredibly easy. I think that's why I like making bread so much. Tell your guests you're making cream puffs from scratch, and you're sure to get a raised eyebrow hiding the thought "who does she think she is, Martha Stewart?" But when they come together this easily, why on Earth wouldn't you take the accolades?

These were stuffed with some leftover potroast, defrosted for the occasion. If you don't have pot roast in your freezer, you can fill them with whatever your heart desires. Or, as my 9th grade health teacher used to say: Whatever Floats Your Boat. Funnily enough, he only used this phrase with me...I must have had some very strange ideas for a 9th grader!




Savory Cream Puffs (From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 4 Tbsp Butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 425. Combine 1/2 cup water and butter in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Remove from heat and add the flour all at once, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon.
  3. Return to moderate heat and stir constantly until the dough leaves the sides of the pan and forms a ball.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool about 5 minutes.
  5. Add eggs, one at a time, beating hard until the dough is smooth.
  6. Place large rounded tablespoons of dough on an ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake for 25 minutes.
  7. Remove to racks and cut nearly in half, let cool.
  8. Using a small spoon, push though the slice just enough filling to fill the puffs. Heat for a few minutes more before serving.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Move over honey

Oh Fannie, crackers are not your friend, are they? Were you taunted with triscuits at a young age? Wounded by a wheat thin?

First we had those dreadful cheese wafers - which were more like cheese crumbs.
Now comes the Benne Pastries.

Pastries? Really? Because when I think of pastries I think of something doughy. Sometimes fluffy. Usually flakey.

These definitely fall in the "cracker" category more than the pastry category. And I'm not fooled by the mock french name. I don't think you'd find these in any patisserie.

The recipe itself has some kinks. I let the dough "chill" and it turned into a rock solid ball. Like playdough left out overnight. Not a pretty sight. I let it sit out on top of the warming stove and it was still a rock. Eventually I heave-hoed a sigh and added water until it was a workable dough ball.

As you'll see from the picture below, these "pastries" also suffered from the dreaded crumb disorder, but I was able to keep them a tad more together than the cheese wafers, although I made them a little thicker to compensate.

The black seeds might throw you a bit - don't worry, these aren't diseased cracker pastries - I used black sesame seeds. Why is that you may ask? Well, you can get a ginormous container of black sesame seeds for under a buck in the "Asian Section" of the grocery store, while a small container of sesame seeds in the baking aisle runs you closer to $5.

As for the result, I think Thatboy described them best: "You take a bite, and you're like, hmmm, these aren't bad. And then you taste the sesame seeds and are like, man this is pretty sesame seed heavy, I don't think I like them. And after you finish one, you're like, oooohhh I think I'd like another."



Benne Pastries (From the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp shortening
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp butter
  1. Put the sesame seeds in a skillet and toast over medium heat, shaking the pan often, until golden brown. Set aside. (If you use black seeds like I did, use your nose. When the seeds start to get fragrent, remove from heat.)
  2. Place the flour and salt in a bowl and cut in the shortening and butter, using a pastry cutter or two knivces,until it resembles coarse meal.
  3. Add the toasted sesame seeds.
  4. Beginning with 1 Tbsp, sprinkle on not more than 2 1/2 Tbsp of ice water. Stir with a fork, using only enough water to allow the dough to stick together.
  5. Pat into a ball, cover, and chill.
  6. Preheat oven to 400. Roll out the dought 1/4 inch thick and cut into rounds or diamonds. Place on a cookie sheet and bake 7-8 minutes.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Same Old Line

I love looking at Allrecipes and seeing the comments. Comments like "My family hated this mushroom chicken. We don't like mushrooms, so we left them out, and instead of butter we used pam, and we added about 2 cups of onions. This recipe is terrible!"

Now, the problem here is obviously not the original recipe, but the person who decided to venture far off from the recipe with all their substitutions and add ins. And that my friends, is what we're about to do!!!!

We'll begin with the Montpelier biscuits, otherwise known as "common crackers"........yeah.......the main ingredient in this recipe......let's just say they are impossible to find. Apparently, if you live in Vermont, you can get these by the barrel - literally. Here in California you have to mail order them. But they look like pretty basic crackers, right?




So I picked up my own common crackers - Carr's.

Then next ingredient snafu I had was the sliced cheddar. I accidentally grated all my cheddar trying to make my life easier. But I did have some of Thatboy's favorite on hand, and I figured warm brie on crackers sounds mighty tasty. So for those of you playing along at home, we now have brie on crackers instead of cheddar on biscuits.

And because good things always come in threes, I ran into another little snag while putting together the recipe. You see, apparently, these Montpelier biscuits, or common crackers can be sliced in half. My Carr crackers? Not so much.

The good news is, you really can't go wrong with melty brie on crackers! So I give this recipe a big thumbs up. Even though it's a far cry from the original.


Montpelier Biscuits and Cheese (From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • Montpelier or other hard biscuits (I used Carr crackers)
  • Butter, softened
  • Sharp Cheddar Cheese (I used Brie)
  1. Preheat oven to 425. Split the biscuits and spread with soft butter. (Obviously I didn't do this. Just buttered each individual cracker)
  2. Cover with a 1/4 inch slice of Cheddar (Brie) and bake for 8 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I sure got a long way to go

"Fannie, this is your publisher calling."
"Oh Arnie! How are you? I haven't heard from you in ages! Everything's going well with the book I hope?"
"Smashing Fannie, but, well, the big guys are a little worried."
"Oh my, what has them worried?"
"Well, you have all these fancy recipes with pate, seafood, braised beef, cow brains; the big guys are a little concerned you may not reach as broad an audience as they'd like."
"I don't quite understand."
"Well Fannie, we're marketing you as America's Favorite Housewife, but you're not quite reaching middle America. We need you to tone it down a little."
"Tone it down?"
"Maybe something that will appeal to Americans without your...refined tastes."
"You want something trashy?"
"YES! Now you're getting it!"
"Well...I could add in the nachos I used to make for the boys when they were little. But I warn you - it's not really a recipe as much as a combination of ingredients."
"Sounds perfect. Love ya Fannie!"


Nachos(From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • bag of tortilla chips
  • 1 lb grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped canned peeled green chilies
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  1. Preheat oven to 400. Lay tortilla chips on a cookie sheet.
  2. Toss together the cheese, chilies, and onion and sprinkle over the tortilla chips.
  3. Bake for about 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Serve hot.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Take a chance

It is with deepest pride and greatest pleasure that we welcome you tonight. And now we invite you to relax, let us pull up a chair as the dining room proudly presents - your dinner (or breakfast as the case may be!).

It's time to share the entries of the Platinum Chef Challenge and announce the winner!

Our first entry comes from my very own home state! But an atmosphere far different than our sunny Southern California ways. Cookie of Workout then Cook heard eggs and thought brunch. And really, can you blame her? If the sound of her cheesy bacon potato bake doesn't make you drool then I suggest you check in with your doctor. Although, she's also supplied the pear and carrot muffins for those of you who are watching your cholesterol sail through the roof. I can just imagine how sweet these muffins must be with all the natural sweetness from the pears and carrots!



In case you're still hungry after that brunch, let's head over to The Missing Ingredient for lunch. xigumdrops thought the challenge would be a good chance to use her new immersion blender. I think it was a good decision. Her sweet potato pear soup has the beautiful color of sweet potatoes, and the consistency is nice and thick, just how I like my soup. She served the soup with one of my all time favorite foods - pretzels! Although it's unseasonably warm here, that doesn't stop me from enjoying warm soup with hot crusty pretzels! Especially when those pretzels are filled with garlicy goodness. Garlic, it's not just for vampires anymore.



We're going to have to travel quite a bit for dinner. Allllll the way to Cooking and the City. But don't worry, I'm sure that today Dell and I had similar weather - HOT and gorgeous. Am I right Dell? Dell went against the cardinal rule in impressing a judge of a challenge. She made a food I don't like. Salmon Patties with sweet chili mayo. But since I am a fair and impartial judge, I showed the entry to Thatboy who does eat salmon. Unfortunately he has now started asking me to make them, so I had to tell him that it's a rare Australian salmon we don't get here and is poisonous. Dell's saving grace may be her pear dessert cake which looks equally as fantastic and which will definitely be made in Thathouse.




And the winner of the Platinum Chef Challenge is ......
Dell! Congratulations and everyone stay tuned to Cooking and the City for the next challenge!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I forgot to remember

When I plopped these snacks down in front of Thatboy he took a bite and told me he wasn't a fan. Not a big deal, because we had other food on the way. But then he ate another one. And another one. Pretty soon he had eaten almost the entire plate. He said they grew on him. I guess so! Although, cream cheese is always a popular appetizer ingredient, so I shouldn't be too surprised. And doesn't everyone like things they can eat with their hands?



Hot Cream Cheese Canapes (From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 30 small bread squares, toasted (I used baguette slices, untoasted)
  1. Preheat the broiler. Mix the cream cheese, egg, onion, salt, and pepper.
  2. Spread on toasted bread and place under broiler until puffed and lightly browned.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I say I don't know

The funny thing about this journey I'm taking through a cookbook, is that sometimes it makes me feel better about my own recipes. I mean, certainly there are some things I make that make me think "Holy Hannah I am outstanding!" but a majority of my own creations are things like: Cut fruit in slices. Place goat cheese on slices. Drizzle with honey. Nothing fabulous or phenomenal there.

And then I open a cookbook that has international acclaim, published and republished for over 30 years, and I find a recipe like this. I can almost imagine Fannie standing in her kitchen, having just received a call from her husband informing her that he's bringing his boss and the boss's new wife over for dinner and could she please whip up a pot roast since they've heard so much about her culinary skills. Desperate and slightly deranged, Fannie glances around her fridge and can find only a loaf of bread, a wilty looking onion, and of course, the ever present jug o' mayonnaise. While the pot roast simmers in the oven, Fannie throws these items together and changes into her best dress and heels, arriving from the kitchen with a tray of snacks, just as Mr. Farmer, Mr. Boss, and New Wife enter the home. "Oh this ole thing?" Fannie says with the relaxed air of a woman who knows she's won - "I just threw it together!"



Easy Onion Bites (From the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 4 slices white bread
  • 1 medium onion, very thinly sliced
  1. Preheat the broiler. Mix the mayo and the cheese.
  2. Decrust the bread and spread with the cheese mixture.
  3. Cut each slice of bread into quarters and top with an onion slice. Broil 4 minutes.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Listen to Me

There are times when I'm sure Thatboy questions how he ended up with me. There is never ice cream in our freezer, and in general our cupboards are devoid of anything chocolate. Truthfully, he is a far far better person than I am. Because if he didn't love cheese, there is no way our relationship would work.

Lucky for me, he does love cheese. Even if he doesn't know the name, even if he isn't as cheese adventurous as I am.

The next three appetizers all revolve around cheese, and as such they were big hits in Thathouse. Well the first two were big hits. The third one....not so much......but I'll explain more shortly. Fannie notes that salty appetizers such as these, will encourage thirst and therefore should be served with drinks. She also notes that snacks are a great way to temper alcohol - something every good bar knows. (My favorites have popcorn machines). Small portions should be artfully arranged on plates, but I know I need to work on presentation!

Welcome to Cheese-a-palooza!


Cheese straws - I kid you not, these were gone in a matter of minutes. SO easy to make. SO easy to eat. Perfect cheesy bites. Thatboy ate 10 or 12 before asking "These aren't good for us at all, huh?"

Cheese Straws (From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 1/4 lb butter
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 lb sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  1. Preheat oven to 400. Cream the butter until light, add the flour, cayenne, and cheese.
  2. Roll out on a floured board. Cut into strips and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake until golden (Fannie says 6 minutes, but it took me over 10).



Cheese puffs - Thatboy was so excited to see more cheese snacks the following day. I told him there was a suprise inside, and after a recent trip to the "world's most ridiculous McDonalds*" he probably thought there would be a toy inside. There wasn't, but he did enjoy what he found! He kept telling me to take a picture of them cut in half and I forgot before they were gone. If you like salty, these are the ones for you!

Cheese Puffs (From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheese
  • 1/4 lb butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • pimento stuffed green olives
  1. Preheat oven to 400. Put the cheese and butter in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Add the flour and salt and mix well.
  3. Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness.
  4. Cut the dough into 2 inch square and wrap square around olive, sealing the seams.
  5. Place on a cookie sheet and bake 15 minutes.



Cheese Wafers - My first clue that something was not going to go well was the inclusion of pecans in the recipe. I read the entire recipe and thought "how am I going to cut this into thin wafers with chunks of pecans in them?" I should have been forewarned. While the other cheese recipes have you combine the butter and cheese in some sort of appliance. This one just says "combine" and they never really came together. "Aha!" I thought, "When the butter solidfies in the fridge, it will come together." And the next day when I went to cut it into wafers it turned into crumbs. Those three discs you see above are the only ones I was able to get from the two logs. Bah!

Cheese Wafers (From the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 1/4 lb butter, softened
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 cups grated cheese
  1. Combine all ingredients. Make 2 rolls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
  2. Wrap in foil and refrigerate at least 8 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 375. Slice the dough into thin wafers and bake 6-10 minutes.


* Our local McDonalds has wood paneled floors, chadeliers, gold gilt frames on the wall, and velvet drapes. It contains all the regular stuff, along with a gelato bar, paninis, salads, pastas, and other gourmet sandwiches. The chairs are all overstuffed leather arm chairs.