HAPPY NEW YEAR IN MY KITCHEN!

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL MY READERS!

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It’s been three long months since I last invited you for a virtual tour of our kitchen, the event initiated by Celia and now hosted by Lizzy from Bizzy Lizzy Good Things. So, tighten your seat belts, because there are lots of goodies to talk about…

Starting with gifts…

I am not sure this qualifies as a gift, but I will go with it. I entered a drawing over at Lisa is Cooking a couple of months ago, and to my absolute delight, I won!  It is a gorgeous, oval-shaped All-Clad pan, perfect to sear and cook fish.  It is so beautiful, I smile every time I look at it…  Not only it works great for its intended purpose, but I’ve used it to sear halloumi cheese. O.M.G. Wait for a blog post on that one…

panThank you so much, Lisa!  Love the pan….

From our dear friend Ines…

doriecookbook

A classic cookbook from the one and only Dorie Greenspan… A must-have for sure, I know I would be getting it at some point. Resistance would be futile. But now I don’t need to. HA!

From our friends Denise and Hélio, shipped all the way from England…

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The best chocolate in the world! Valrhona, in different levels of cocoa, to match your mood… or your recipe!  Such a thoughtful gift… The only problem is preventing “someone” from devouring one bar or two when I’m not paying attention.

From C & C, the coolest couple in L.A.

vodka

A set of soapstone vodka drinking glasses. Phil loves Chopin vodka, and they also sent a huge bottle. The glasses are from a company I like a lot, Uncommon Goods. Check them out, they have very unique things.

From my sister Norma, back in Brazil….

mustard

A gourmet mustard, infused with a very special Brazilian fruit, called “jabuticaba.”  I love the fruit, and the mustard is superb!  It has a delicate touch of sweetness, and the taste is quite unique.

 

From my niece Raquel back in Brazil…

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A beautifully crafted box for my teas!  The top mimics the pattern of the sidewalks in Rio de Janeiro, every Brazilian recognizes that pattern… Looks like waves…  And now my teas are in perfect order!

From my perfect match…

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Two more coffee mugs from our favorite pottery artist, Mary Rose Young…  He keeps searching on ebay, and I keep welcoming them in our kitchen…

My Christmas gift to myself… just because….

teakmaker
This little teapot has a thermometer on the lid, and you can brew each type of tea (green, herbal, black) at the optimal temperature. It is very stylish, and works like a charm…. I am in love!

 

holidays


In our kitchen…

middleeasterncomp

A few exotic ingredients I got over at the Oriental market we have in town. For the most part inspired by a couple of cookbooks I am in love with: The Saffron Tales and Taste of Persia. I got black chickpeas, culinary grade rose petals (swoon), pomegranate seeds powder (how could I resist?) and a couple of spices that are very important in Middle Eastern cuisine: angelica powder and advieh (Persian spice mix). Can hardly wait to play with them all…

In our kitchen…

pinksalt
I
‘ve heard a lot of good things about this store called “The Spice Lab.” But their stuff is very expensive. The other day I stopped at Tuesday Morning in town, and was surprised to find this big bottle of Himalayan salt for sale, very cheap. It has black pepper in it. Sprinkled on top of flank steak cooked medium-rare it is to die for.

In our kitchen…

crackers

These are some tasty crackers! Served with home-made hummus it is a garbanzo bean feast for your taste buds… Love it. I think they have several kinds, I’ve seen it plain and this one with black olives. Salty, quite addictive. If you have a chance to grab a bag, go for it.

In our kitchen…

freekeh

A new (to me) grain that I bought after my friend Elaine raved about it. Still waiting to try my first recipe for it, I am sure it’s something I’ll love. You can use it as you would farro, for instance, in stews, as a risotto type prep, or even cold in salads. Stay tuned.

In our kitchen…

napkins

Holiday napkins… How could I resist these? Look at that doggie! Poise and elegance, just like our pups… Well, maybe not quite…

In our kitchen…

redplatter

A red platter found at Marshalls. It was love at first sight. They had it with a reduced price tag, I paid 5 bucks for it, if you can believe it. It is so festive, perfect for the holiday season, but I will be of course using it all year-long.

In our kitchen…

butterscotch
Butterscotch extract. Yes, you read it correctly. This heaven in a bottle exists. One word for you, macarons. Are you smiling yet?

In our kitchen…

empty

Four perfectly round low-carb Ricotta, Lemon & Lavender pancakes, a recipe I was very excited to try on a Saturday after a nice, albeit a bit chilly morning run. Oh, you only see an empty plate? What’s up with that, you may ask?

Full disclosure: Said pancakes were left unattended for 3 and a half minutes while I went upstairs to grab my phone to take a picture of them. I should add they were in the center of the island, a spot that we considered safe from canine paws. We were proven wrong. A certain dalmatian that attends by the name of Bogey Quit That managed to push the plate with his nose (at least that’s what we think), all the way to the edge of the countertop, to very efficiently wolf them down.  And then you wonder why my hair gets a bit more gray each month (sigh).

Finally, very recently in our kitchen…

buddies

Great friends reunited, even if only for a few hours…

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Due to a lengthy series of canine-induced grievances, I seriously considered banning the four-legged creatures from showing up in this segment of In My Kitchen. But then…

oskypeter11Sir, you seem like such a nice man…
Could you please convince Mom to let us say hello to her readers? 

Reluctantly, then… I complied.

bogeythief

I have nothing to add. Still hurts me to remember.

Oscar cannot reach countertops and to be honest, he doesn’t care that much about food, which is pretty odd. But he causes grievances in other ways… like trying to dig his way to China from our backyard, forcing his humans to halt dinner preparation and deal with the muddy mess.

oskyfinal

 

Now, THAT’S what I’m talking about!
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Buck managed to hurt his front paw helping his brother in his path to China, so we put some booties on his paws to prevent him from licking the antibiotic ointment off. He was not thrilled.

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His first attempts at walking with those booties were hilarious, poor thing, but he got used to them in a few minutes. Check it out here.

Giving Bogey a bath is a workout in itself, because to dry him, you gotta catch him first. Sounds a lot easier than it is… Glad I was not the one in charge!
bogeybathHe does look great once he is squeaky clean!
😉

Oscar insists that he cleans up better than his brother.

oskyclean

But Buck is putting up a fight for the pole position…

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I will let you be the judge of it, not taking sides!

Bogey has been bad lately. Really bad. From eating a bar of soap, to snatching my special pancakes, but the worst, the worst I shall tell you later. Never in a million years, we could imagine… well, I’ll stop here. You will have to wait for it.

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Now, if you want to see three dogs on their very best behavior, all it takes is a sirloin steak, cooked medium rare, and Phil going at it with a knife.

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That’s all, folks!  We all wish you a wonderful 2017!

We promise to be back with more cooking, more bread baking, more canine grievances, and throw in some cake baking to keep the adrenaline high…

😉

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ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen: Happy New Year!

TWO YEARS AGO: And another year starts…

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen: January 2014

FOUR YEARS AGO: Tacos with Pork in Green Sauce

FIVE YEARS AGO:  Maui New Year!

SIX YEARS AGO: Natural Beauty

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Sunflower Seed Rye

IN MY KITCHEN: AUGUST 2016

flowers1
Following the footsteps of Celia (Fig Jam and Lime Cordial) who started this party now hosted by our friend Maureen (The Orgasmic Chef), I invite you for a small virtual tour of our kitchen. Maureen is taking a small break to recover from surgery, I know everyone is looking forward to having her back to the blogosphere next month. A warm hug going her way….

In our kitchen…

macadamias

Well, this was in our kitchen a while ago, it’s gone. When we were in Hawaii we grabbed a bag and were hopelessly hooked.  It is basically impossible to eat just eight. I am not too surprised that amazon has several kinds for sale, although it’s hard to justify the price they ask for it. Take a look with a click here.

In our kitchen…

FirstTomato

The first tomato produced in our garden!  Can you see how juicy it was?  We enjoyed it in full mindful eating mode, as it deserved…

In our kitchen…

noketchup

You might remember I used another type of Not Ketchup in my last post, the Cherry Chipotle. This one, Tangerine Hatch Chile is my favorite. Love it, love it, love it!  I used it in turkey miniloaves, I smeared it on top of hamburgers, grilled pork tenderloin, it’s a fantastic product.  Very low in carbs, just the right amount of spice. Go visit Erika’s blog to see all the different types she came up with.

In our kitchen….

tortillas
We got this tip from our friend Virginia. Instead of buying tortillas from the grocery store, she goes to a Mexican restaurant in town to grab bags of this brand.  The difference in quality is amazing indeed!  If you happen to find this brand where you live, give it a try. Intense corn flavor, perfect texture.  Unless you are going to make them from scratch, you cannot find a better option.  We buy two or three bags at a time, they also freeze pretty well.

In our kitchen….

scissors

A new pair of scissors.  I finally got tired of struggling with scissors that refuse to cut through plastic bags, or are too flimsy. These work great and look pretty good too.  I’m a happy camper!

In our kitchen….

bowl

A new bowl… I got mesmerized by its color and shape. It was on sale at Marshalls, and I could not resist bringing it home.

In our kitchen….

verjus

A new ingredient to play with. I’ve flirted with Verjus for years, but finally reading a post by my friend Elaine over at foodbod, I caved in and got some. Stay tuned for my adventures with it… Buck seems quite intrigued… Is that something I would like?

In our kitchen…

beets2

Roasted beets, made in our toaster oven early on a Saturday morning…  since Phil doesn’t care for beets that much, they were mine, all mine…   This batch lasted for several days, and I enjoyed over salads, mixed with a stir-fry of ground chicken, they add a tone of sweetness with their earthy flavor.  Love them!

In our kitchen….

Starter

Dan, my sourdough starter, got over-enthusiastic and wanted to take over the countertop!  I guess warmer temperatures will do that.  I put it to good use, there will be a post very soon about a certain sourdough bread… Stay tuned.

In our kitchen…

MisoEggplant

A work in progress… Eggplant cooked sous-vide and then finished with a miso-sesame glaze.  I need to perfect the recipe, it has potential, but my first two attempts ended with eggplant a bit too mushy for my taste. However, the sous-vide definitely gets rid of any bitter taste without the need to salt the eggplant.

In our kitchen….

crossoverscomposite

Different types of yogurt from Fage called Crossovers. They join unexpected flavors and are quite delicious. My favorite is the carrot-ginger with roasted pistachios.  I think these ingredients would go very well together in a salad…  Or once the weather cools… a warming soup. But, it goes without saying I am in no hurry to make soup. No hurry at all.

In our kitchen…

UncleVal

A bottle of Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin. The bartender at the golf club in our town made a Dry Martini for us using it and it is surprisingly floral. Totally different from any gin we’ve ever tried. Phil likes it more than I do, but if you are into mixed drinks, give it a try.

In our kitchen…

Herme

I blame it on our friend Gary, who “twisted my arm” to get this book. He said I needed it. Well, it is pretty fantastic, although each recipe, to be made exactly like the master does it, would need ingredients to be special ordered. Just to give you one example, the simplest Vanilla macaron shell requires not one, not two, but three different vanilla beans… Oh, the humanity! Still, it’s a masterpiece of a book, and I’m glad I did not resist.

In our kitchen…
Something that happens more times than I care to admit….

cartoon

Reprinted with permission from Abby Has Issues…  she does such great work! I follow her blog and Facebook page, and was thrilled when she gave me permission to share one of her cartoons.  The story of my life, honest!

And because life is not just about cooking, I shall talk lipstick! I don’t usually wear make-up, but I do love  a little lipstick.  The Cover Girl’s Oh Sugar line is amazing: shiny, smooth, feels great on the lips, and on top of it, they are very affordable. Our grocery store carries every single color available. After grabbing some avocados, tomatoes, I stopped by Cover Girl and grabbed Jelly and Punch. Is that cool or what?

lipsticks

 

I hope you enjoyed this little tour around our kitchen…  The pups are quite anxious to say hi to all of you, but first I want to share some bits of our past. 

 

Chief’s Stories

Chief1
Phil is a pretty good dog trainer. Back in Oklahoma when we had the sweetest dalmatian ever, Pits, he trained him to balance a treat on the nose. Pits would be static, waiting for the command “OK,” when he would flip the treat high up in the air and grab it.  Chief never had the patience for it, he could maybe hold it for one second but that was it.  Anyway, one day Phil is making Pits do his balancing trick, he placed the treat, held his hand up and kept saying… wait…. wait….. wait….  Just as he was going to give the OK command, Chief dashed running like a maniac, jumped up, grabbed the treat off of Pits nose, and ran away with it!  It was THE funniest thing ever, and I’ve always regretted we could not catch it on video. It would have gone viral, I know that for a fact…    Chief was really one of a kind…. We miss  him.

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BuckSofa1

Hello!  My name is Buck, and I believe this sofa is the best spot in the house, although you will not find me here when Dad is around… He starts waving his hands and acting all steamed up. Borderline irrational, if you ask me.

 

ThePrince

Truth is, my poise and class are evident no matter where I am resting my handsome body.

 

OskySofa1
Hello! My name is Oscar and evidently I know how to make the best spot in the house even better.

With my long legs, I am the only one who can see all the goodies Mom and Dad are enjoying for dinner.

Osky composite

 

But, of course, we all know Oscar has his idiosyncrasies…

ricecrackernonoI thought I made it clear I do not care for rice crackers!

Buck has his issues too. His favorite time to play in mud is right after getting a bath. Frustrating, to say the least. One of the reasons why his Mom’s hair gets more gray with each passing week can be seen in the short video below.

 

Well, that all for now, folks…
We hope you are enjoying this beautiful season!
See you next time…

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Ka’Kat, a Middle Easter Snack Bread

TWO YEARS AGO: Spinach and Chickpea Curry

THREE YEARS AGO: Sautéed Zucchini with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Basil

FOUR YEARS AGO: Orzo with Heirloom Tomato Relish

FIVE YEARS AGO:  Headed to Brazil!

SIX YEARS AGO: The Rhubarb Brouhaha: Revelation Compote

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Love me tender…

IN MY KITCHEN, YIN AND YANG

roses
Following the footsteps of Celia (Fig Jam and Lime Cordial) who started this party now hosted by our friend Maureen (The Orgasmic Chef), I invite you for a small virtual tour of our kitchen.

Starting with gifts, this month I have some pretty special ones….

…from our friend Dr. SL, fantastic selected goodies he got in a recent trip to Paris: truffles galore! Truffle mayo, truffle mustard, and truffled salt.  What have I done to deserve such great friends?

compositefrench

 

…from my beloved husband, a surprise gift for Mother’s Day…

wrapped

When I opened the package.. here’s what I found: a huge platter, heavy-duty, very very beautiful… it makes any salad into a stunning meal!

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He keeps showering me with gifts from this artist, Mary Rose Young…  How about this for cuteness in coffee cup format?

coffeecup

Or these adorable salad plates? Each a little different from the other… Irresistible!

plates
Our dear friends Karl and Virginia left a package in my mailbox at work…  Inside I found such a thoughtful gift for our home! It’s in our kitchen, where it definitely belongs…

jack

But, I can give gifts too!  This one I gave to Phil just because…  He loves to have a black and tan after playing golf, and this tool makes a perfect one.

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holidays

In our kitchen…

applecake

A very delicious apple cake made for one of the receptions we hosted last month.  The recipe, already in the blog, is the most popular in the site!  And for good reason, it is wonderful and so simple to make…

In our kitchen…

rollingpin

A rolling-pin I ordered all the way from Poland, after reading this post from Mimi… could not resist it. Stay tuned for a post on my first attempt at Polish Sugar Cookies.

In our kitchen…

heart2A nice heart on my morning cappuccino, made by the resident barista… I married the right man, obviously…

In our kitchen…

compositegochujang

My new addiction: Go-Chu-Jang sauce, the Korean darling of the food world these days. I resisted as much as I could, but when I saw the product for sale in our very own grocery store, I said what the heck, and brought it home. I love the paste so much I also bought the sauce which is like catchup on steroids.  I used the paste on sautéed ground beef for a flavorful lunch. If you are like me and resist all sorts of trends, do yourself a favor and cave to this one.

In our kitchen…

compositecans

Canned tomatillos and canned yellow tomatoes, both products bought with specific recipes in mind.  As soon as they went into my pantry I lost track of the recipes.  The one using canned tomatillos I suspect was in a cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen, but the yellow tomatoes?  I am clueless. Clue-less.  If anyone suffers from the same type of culinary amnesia, let’s have a virtual hug…

yinyang

This time our dogs are silent.

It is with a very heavy heart that I share the sad news that Chief was put to sleep on May 26th, a decision that crushed us, but had to be made. We will always remember him at the top of his game, rarely sitting still for a photo. In this shot (Summer 2001), his personality shines. He had just spotted a squirrel on the corner of the backyard, and one nanosecond after the picture was taken he was gone so fast our eyes could barely follow him.

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In my mind, the two inseparable buddies are finally together again…

 

chiefyboy

Chief
February 05th, 1999 – May 26th, 2016


ONE YEAR AGO:
Chocolate Toffee Banana Bread

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, June 2014

THREE YEARS AGO:  Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

FOUR YEARS AGO: Baked Coconut and “The Brazilian Kitchen”

FIVE YEARS AGO: Honey-Glazed Chicken Legs

SIX YEARS AGO: French-Style Rolls

IN MY KITCHEN, APRIL 2016

It’s already April in Australia, you know…   

😉

flowers
It’s been a while, my friends… my last contribution to IMK was in January, but better late than never. Here I am to give you a little tour of what’s been happening in our kitchen for the past three months. This fun monthly event began years ago thanks to Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, and is now hosted by the one and only Maureen, from Orgasmic Chef.  Whenever I participate, I like to start by talking about gifts… So let’s get this party started, shall we?

From our graduate students who came back from a trip to India…

GoodiesCollage

These are dangerous goodies. Bake Bites are addictive little morsels with a punch of spice and just the right amount of heat. I usually allow myself to have four and then move the bag away, which is tough to do, but I believe it builds character. Soan Papdi is impossible to describe. It is sweet, it melts in your mouth, but it has a super complex mixture of flavors. If you think about edible perfume, that could be a good way to put it. It sounds odd, I admit, but it is absolutely delicious.  We cut very small slivers, and savor them in complete silence. If you ever find yourself in India, search for these babies, and put a few bags in your luggage.  😉

From Phil…

coffeecupcollage

One more coffee cup for our collection… he keeps searching for pieces from Mary Rose Young to be available online, and whenever he finds a great deal, he is quick to act. This one is particularly adorable with the flower on the handle.

From my stepson Alex…

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Two amazing books from The Modernist Cuisine, that include a beginner’s kit to play with molecular gastronomy. I do molecular biology for a living, and can tell you one thing, these gastronomic experiments are a lot more fun and involve zero frustration.  Stay tuned for a drink using Blue Curaçao “caviar” made with calcium lactate gluconate.

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IN OUR KITCHEN…

opener

This very simple gadget is a life-saver! I saw it recommended by America’s Test Kitchen and decided to order one. If you stumble on that bottle that simply will not open, get this baby and be prepared to be amazed. It works by releasing the vacuum so that the lid opens with no effort. I was skeptical. Then I needed to open a bottle of roasted piquillo peppers when Phil was away and the dogs were obviously of no help whatsoever. Worked like a charm! You can order yours with a click here.

IN OUR KITCHEN…

matcha

A very good quality matcha tea powder. Of course, I go into eye-rolling mode with the benefits listed on the package. Natural this, natural that… Natural mood enhancer? Yeah, right. But apart from the hype, I love the taste of matcha and this in particular is better than all the ones I’ve tried. Smooth, perfect with some yogurt or added to a smoothie.

IN OUR KITCHEN….

labna

Found this labna in a special grocery store in town. OMG! I inhaled that whole thing in less than a week. Phil did not even have a taste. I made sure to describe it to him as salted yogurt, and left it at that. He twisted his nose, and I said to myself “Labna, you are mine, all mine….. “  (insert evil laughter here).

IN OUR KITCHEN….

datesyrup

From the same store, date syrup. Another OMG, this is delicious and you can use in many ways: marinades, added to yogurt, smoothies, salad dressings… If you like pancakes in the morning, a drizzle of date syrup could be a nice change from the usual maple.

IN OUR KITCHEN….
molasses

Last acquisition from the same store.. pomegranate molasses.  I always have some in my pantry and my old bottle had just a tiny little bit left inside. Time to bring a new one, this brand seemed nice enough, haven’t tried it yet.

 

IN OUR KITCHEN….

startercomposite

A jar to keep my sourdough starter in the fridge and also at room temperature during feeding times. I love the large opening, because my 1/2 cup measuring cup fits right through it. Less flour mess = more joy in the Bewitching Kitchen. Found it at amazon.com, recommended in a bread baking forum.

IN OUR KITCHEN…

cilantro

A great way to store cilantro that I also learned in a cooking forum and put to test. Cut the stems close to where the leaves start, add the bunch of cilantro to a container with a lid, and just a little bit of water inside.  Close the lid and store the whole thing in the fridge.  Amazing how much longer the cilantro lasts, in perfect state!  I imagine it would work as well for basil or other herbs, but cilantro is the one that gives me the toughest time. It goes funky before I have a chance to use it all.

IN OUR KITCHEN…

simplestShrimp

The simplest and most succulent shrimp!  Made sous-vide. You can even start from frozen, increasing the time of cooking slightly.  I prefer to defrost them first, add a little bit of butter, salt and pepper to a bag, vacuum seal.  Into the sous-vide the bag goes at 135 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes. Open the bag, drain it if you want, or use the liquid as part of a pasta sauce or risotto.  Am I allowed to use one more Oh Em Gee in this post or would that be too much?  Oh, well…

 

IN OUR KITCHEN…

honey

Truffle honey. Yes, you read that right.  I haven’t tried it yet, in fact I’m waiting for the right opportunity to crack this special bottle open. I read that this honey drizzled over a nice Roquefort is a non-stop ticket to paradise. Will let you know once we try it.

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And now it’s time to allow our furry friends to say hello, they’ve been quite anxious to be on the blog after three months away from the spotlight…

 

chiefyboy

Chief, after the milestone of turning 17 years old, has had his share of health issues. He is hanging in there like the trooper he is, even playing tug-of-war when he feels up to the challenge.  Mom knows she has to be gentle with him, the days in which she could hold the toy up in the air to see Chief furiously dangling without letting go are over…

buck bath

Buck got tricked big time. His Dad offered a Happy Easter hug, but the hug turned into a strong grab followed by a fast walk to the laundry room. There, some soap torture was waiting for this brave Jack Russell. How unfair is that?

BathBuck

That does it!  I am never EVER leaving this bed.
To think I’d worked so hard to develop my unique fragrance, and now it’s all gone!

 

dapperduke

I’ve always suspected I am the Special One. See? I get professional grooming, and have a bow-tie to prove it. No laundry room dirty maneuver works for me. I am the Dapper Duke of Manhattan!

 

BuckComposite-2

Not so fast, Dapper Duke!  I get to play with my ball on the sofa when Dad is not around.
Who’s special now?

oskytripleDo I really need to answer?

 

Actually, Dapper Duke, we think you do need to get some answers ready….

NaughtyWhat has the toy done to deserve this?

(He wouldn’t even look up…. Guilty as charged!)

OskyupsetWell, first let me say that the toy started it all, but you were not around to see what IT did to me. And, even if I got carried away in my revenge, nothing justifies Mom getting all hysterical and cutting short our walk because Dad pointed out that a bunch of “cool bats” were flying over us. I have no idea of “cool bats” are, but they certainly ruined my evening.

bone


That’s all for now, folks!  Hope you enjoyed this little tour of our kitchen…

Until next time, keep calm and cook on!

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Spring has Sprung with Suzanne Goin

TWO YEARS AGO: Chai Brownies

THREE YEARS AGO: Pomegranate-Molasses Glazed Carrots

FOUR YEARS AGO: Braised Brisket with Bourbon-Peach Glaze

FIVE YEARS AGO: The Real Vodka Sauce

SIX YEARS AGO: Spring Rolls on a Spring Day

IN MY KITCHEN: HAPPY NEW YEAR!

FLOWERS

First of all, I’d like to wish all my readers a wonderful New Year! To start things off on a great note, I join the virtual party started by Celia and now hosted by Maureen from The Orgasmic Chef, sharing a little bit of what goes on around one of the most important spots in any home: the kitchen!

GIFTS GALORE!

I have quite a few gifts to share with you, starting with a wonderful surprise I got in the mail shipped all the way from Australia. Celia, the angel behind In My Kitchen sent me this gorgeous letter opener. It sits right by our cork wine screw board, because I always open my mail right there in the kitchen. I love it! Not only because I am fond of all things shiny, but because Celia made it herself.  THAT makes it ultra super special. Thank you, Celia!

blingbling
From a friend from KSU, a batch of home-made macarons, wrapped in a beautiful package and delivered right to our door!  Can you spell lucky? Lucky Sally? Yeap. That just about sums it. They were beyond delicious, my favorite was the pink one filled with strawberry jam. Jam made from scratch, in case you are wondering.

macarons
From my stepson and his wife, C & C also known in the blog as “the coolest couple in LA”, a custom-made apron. Not just any apron, mind you. This is a Hedley & Bennett apron. Oh, my….. I can only hope I can make it justice. One thing is certain, I am not baking any cakes wearing it.

apron
From my dear hubby, a new food processor was my Christmas gift!  My Cuisinart was 18 years old and started acting his age, almost failing on me as I was making hummus for one of our recent receptions. I love this 7-cup model from KitchenAid, very smooth to operate, the plastic bowl is quite sturdy. Made perfectly sliced potatoes for a gratin in seconds, allowing the mandoline to stay in the cabinet and my fingers stay unharmed.

foodprocessor
Also from Phil, another find from his adventures on ebay, two cute coffee cups, mini-tiny size, perfect for a shot of espresso or what we call a “mini-ccino”.  From a favorite artist, Mary Rose Young. That woman loves color almost as much as I do…

coffeecups
Finally, from our dear friends from Brazil, Vanda and Claudio, a wonderful platter they brought with them all the way from São Paulo (as you read this we are having fun in the ski slopes of Silverthorne, hopefully with all the bones in correct alignment).

platter

 

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In our kitchen….

pieplate

A new, shockingly red pie plate that was on sale at Bed Bath and Beyond last month. I have a hard time resisting things that are bright red, as you know by now….

In our kitchen…

piebird

Have you ever heard of a pie bird???? I had not until I saw this apple pie recipe from Alton Brown. I had to have one. The pie bird works by allowing steam to escape from the inside of the pie as it bakes. Plus, it looks simply adorable.  Here you can see its shape better.

pieplatecomp
After getting it, I found out you it can also be used in savory pies. Any pie that calls for slits cut on top can be instead made with the little bird in the center.

In our kitchen….

pieweigths

Since we are on the subject of pies, I finally upgraded from a bag of beans (which I’ve used for 6 years straight) to real pie weights. Also found on sale at Bed Bath and Beyond.  Haven’t tried them yet, but intend to do so in the near future.

In our kitchen….

nonstickpan

This is actually several months old, but for one reason or another I forgot to include in previous IMK posts. When I started watching America’s Test Kitchen on TV, I could not help but notice they use this pan all the time. It is their number one recommended non-stick pan and I must say it is awesome!  I don’t have enough adjectives for it, See it in action working on a batch of zucchini noodles…. This particular recipe won’t be in the blog until I tweak it a little, though.

nonstickpanatwork

 

In our kitchen….

duckfatcomp

Duck legs and rendered duck fat from d’Artagnan… for a duck confit made for Phil’s Birthday dinner… on the blog sometime in the near future, I promise! It was quite likely one of the best meals I cooked in 2015.

In our kitchen…

oddegg

A very odd-looking egg… no idea what happened with this egg, in fact if anyone has an explanation for its wavy shell, please let me know in the comments.  I ended up discarding it, as when I broke it the egg yolk did not look quite right. Better safe than sorry.
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In our kitchen….

yorkshire

A batch of Yorkshire pudding that was our side-dish at Christmas Eve… made by my dear husband, who also prepared a Mexican-Style Prime Rib Roast (already on the blog, click here for recipe).

In our kitchen….

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A new cookbook!  How could I resist it, when it was written by John Amici, the man behind a blog I’ve been following for a long, long time? The book is just like John, classy and warm, and showcases authentic family recipes he’s been collecting over the years. You need it. Did you know that?  To order, click here.

And finally, in our kitchen…

friends

Great friends! Great times! 

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But, as usual, our pups are anxious to say hello….

Chief had a few health problems, so he prefers to be left alone to rest this month.  I am sure he will be back next time to join the fun…

Buck shows off his style and elegance in authentic holiday mode…

BuckBandana

Whereas Oscar shows a slightly different concept of style and elegance….

OskyElegance

And he definitely does not learn from his mistakes. Here he is covered in burrs, once again having to go through the complicated process of combing them off. Quite a bit of whining and complaining, as if Daddy was skinning him alive (eye roll to the ceiling).

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But, of course, we all know how vocal Oscar can be….

 

Osky

 

That’s all for now, folks! More to come as the New Year moves along!

 

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ONE YEAR AGO: And another year starts…

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen: January 2014

THREE YEAR AGO: Tacos with Pork in Green Sauce

FOUR YEARS AGO:  Maui New Year!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Natural Beauty

SIX YEARS AGO: Sunflower Seed Rye

IN MY KITCHEN: NOVEMBER 2015

Flowers

In My Kitchen is a fun virtual event conceived by Celia, the hostess of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, a great food blog that goes beyond food and recipes. Way beyond. I’ve been a follower for a long time…  So what’s it all about? Bloggers from all over the world compose a post about what’s going on in their kitchens.  It is a monthly event, but I usually participate every 2 or 3 months.  I like to start talking about gifts, and here they are…

From a sweet couple, Virginia and Karl…. the sweetest of gifts!

dulcedeleche

I have a special project in my mind for this dulce de leche… a little involved and challenging, but maybe I can Zen myself into it.

From our friends from California, Deb and Jeff….

sardinhas

A beautifully wrapped gift, that once opened, revealed a gourmet item they bought in a recent trip to Portugal, home of my ancestors. Quite often sardines are packed in oil, these come with a perfectly smooth and delicious tomato base.

From our niece Carla…

brrazilianpeppers

Two tiny cute bottles of very special pepper, produced by Xingu indians from the North of Brazil. Red and white pepper, not too hot, but intensely flavored.  I was afraid the bottles would break in the plane, but they arrived in perfect condition…

From our niece Raquel…

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A perfect little wooden board for our kitchen! I am sure it will help me during times of cake-baking…

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In our kitchen….

green tomatoes
Green tomatoes harvested before the first frost (sad couple of words), now waiting in the kitchen, some might end up nicely red, but all will find their way into our meals one way or another…

In our kitchen….

mint2
Our latest addiction… mint tea!  This addiction started with a tip from our dear friend Denise who lives in England. If you feel any type of digestive discomfort after a meal, sip a cup of mint tea. It is almost magical, quite amazing how soothing it is…  Thank you, Denise!

In our kitchen…

pinchbowls

A set of pinch bowls… I’ve always flirted with this type of small bowls that are often lined up in cooking shows and fancy cookbooks photos. They were on sale at Bed Bath and Beyond, and I brought them home. Take a look at how cute they look “in action.” Ingredients for a black pepper chicken curry, to be blogged about in the very near future. I promise.

ingredients

In our kitchen…

sprinklesA bottle of shockingly pink sprinkles…  for a special recipe that was part of our Halloween party. Stay tuned…

In our kitchen…

meltingwafers

Melting wafers to use for coating candy type concoctions.  Also used in a recipe for our Halloween party.  It was scary good…

In our kitchen….

bananachips

Something very special brought by a friend from India to our Halloween party. These are banana chips, slightly salty and absolutely addictive!  Unfortunately they are not available in the US, they brought them from India just two days prior to our get together. Sad to inform that they are gone…  (sigh)

In our kitchen….

coffeecup

A coffee cup with my favorite actress of the past, Audrey Hepburn. If that doesn’t take your cappuccino to Tiffany’s level, nothing will…

In our kitchen…

pingas

Several bottles of Brazilian pinga (sugar cane distillate) brought from Brazil during our recent trip. Actually the second bottle to the left (Nega Fulô) we’ve had since the trip in 2014.  We could not find it this time, but brought a few bottles from different regions of the country. Caipirinhas, anyone?

In our kitchen…

composite1

Phil is always finding interesting jams and preserves to pump up his lunch.  Sour Cherry Preserves from Casa Giulia are on top of his favorites list right now.  He loves to take a Wasa bread or a nice cracker, spread peanut butter on top, add a smear of sour cherry preserves, and top it all with peanuts. Keeps him satisfied until dinner time.

Speaking of lunch: apparently, I am not always as lucky with my own preparations… Allow me to share. Apologies in advance…

disaster

A culinary disaster of epic proportions…  The monstrosity above was intended to be a spaghetti squash fritter nesting a sunny-side egg. The recipe is from a very reputable food blog, but the photo and description of its deliciousness on that site have little to do with my outcome.  Granted, I made it at lunch time in a complete hurry, but… don’t try this at home, folks. It was probably one of the worst things I’ve ever made, tasted almost as funky as it looked.  I posted it on my Facebook page and one of my friends remarked that it looked like a bird getting ready to fly. Too bad it did not fly away for real.  Oh, well… Keep calm, and go on cooking…

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And now, it’s time to let our furry friends say hello.

compositechief

Chief will be exactly 16 years and 9 months old when this post goes live. He still sleeps a lot, perhaps most of the time, either on his comfy soft bed or sometimes outside in some type of improvised bed designed by his brothers. He used to dig tunnels underneath fences and show up yards away on the other side, but cannot dig anymore with his weak arthritic legs. Clearly, his instinct to get comfy is unchanged by aging.

OskyMessedup

Hi, my name is Osky, and I made my Mom late for work because after five minutes outside I came back covered in burrs.  Mom says I am a big whiner and a sissy because of my crying as she cleaned me. She also said the neighbors would call the police thinking someone was being murdered in our home.  I agree with my Dad, Mom is the real Drama Queen around here.

Whatdoyoumean

What do you mean, GET OFF THE COUCH???? I am not sure I get it…  wanna play fetch?

ComfyOsky
Osky would never leave his brother sin by himself… the moment Dad went to the lab on a Saturday morning, he found his way into his favorite armchair… Obviously, Mom made him jump off after she took the picture. “No dogs on furniture” is a tightly enforced rule. Obviously.

Before I say goodbye, here is a video showing the pure joy of  Oscar and Buck when we finally picked them up from the kennel, after 16 long days away… Chief can be heard furiously barking in the background, as he knew we were there and wanted to come out too…

That’s all for now, folks!  Until next time, 

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ONE YEAR AGO: Helen Fletcher’s Oatmeal Cookies

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, November 2013

THREE YEARS AGO: The Lab Move and New Beginnings

FOUR YEARS AGO: Honey-Oat Pain de Mie

FIVE YEARS AGO: Carrot and Leek Soup

SIX YEARS AGO: Chicken Parmigiana 101

IN MY KITCHEN: SEPTEMBER 2015

Roses
Here I am to invite my readers for a virtual tour of our kitchen, following the party started by Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial many years ago.  It is such a fun series of posts, lots of bloggers (including Celia herself) participate every single month, which I find quite amazing. I am more of a “every couple of months” kind of person. I like to start my tour with gifts, and I’ve got a few to show you…

From our friend Cindy, who came to visit and make macarons in the Bewitching Kitchen….  Yes, French macarons, which shall be on the blog soon. In fact, we had a great cooking weekend, with a surprise tour through Brazilian cooking. Stay tuned!

CindyChoc

Cindy brought us three types of artisan chocolates from a small company in Nashville…  My favorite was the Salt & Pepper Buttermilk White, different from anything I’ve ever tasted, sweet and tangy, absolutely delicious. Phil’s favorite was the one with coffee bean, although we both also loved the chili and cinnamon. Coffee and chocolate. Cannot get much better than that, right? Thank you, Cindy, not only for the chocolates, but for driving all the way to The Little Apple to cook with me…

From Kristy (who blogs over at Eat, Play, Love), who came with her whole family for a short but fun visit on their way to Colorado…

CuttingBoard

A cutting board with a knife-friendly surface and beautiful design of olive branches… It is so beautiful, I have a hard time using it as a cutting board. Instead I place cheeses on top of it, for a stunning look. August was super busy in our kitchen, with so many distinguished guests!  I am sure most of my readers know Kristy’s blog and have seen her beautiful family cooking together. You absolutely MUST read their series of Chopped in which the girls compete against the boys. We had a blast with them, made small pizzas on the grill, and a breakfast of blueberry pancakes next morning before their departure.

Family

Mr. N, Miss A, and their proud Daddy after breakfast. And here we are in the photo below, with Kristy and I in exercise clothes, because I asked her to help me out with the infamous Crane Pose which has eluded me for over 6 years.  One day I’ll get there. One day… (sigh). By the way, Miss A can do pull-ups in the bar like nobody’s business!  Very impressive! And she goes from Crane Pose to head stand as if it’s a natural movement for human beings. Don’t try that at home, folks…

BackyardShotPlease disregard my oddly twisted leg position. Not sure what happened there. Must have been something wrong with the alignment of the stars..

On with with the gifts…

From one of our graduate students….

Caviar

The most amazing black caviar!  His Mom came for a visit and brought it from a special store in Pennsylvania where she lives. Phil and I shared it, fighting over the last bit. I made bread for the occasion. This stuff is pure gold. Black gold…  So smooth and mild!

From Phil, a surprise gift…

coffeecupscomposite

This cup was made by a British artist called Mary Rose Young. Years ago I found two matching cups at a Pier 1 store and brought them home. They became our special cups for the weekend cappuccino. Sure enough, yours truly, the one with fast careless fingers, broke one of them. Major bummer.  I searched everywhere for a replacement, with no luck.  One day Phil gets something in the mail and much to my amazement it was one of Mary Rose’s cups. He managed to find it on ebay.  He is the ultimate ebay-detective…  Ok, they are not matchy-matchy, but close enough. In fact, I think they make a beautiful pair… Compatible but unique, each in their own colorful way. I love her work!  You can check her pottery with a click here.

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In our kitchen….

BreadCloche

A new, kind of fancy  bread toy for me…  After reading rave reviews about it on a discussion group for artisan bread baking, I had one of those attacks of impulse buy and got this bread cloche at amazon.com.  The lure of Amazon Prime free shipping is hard to resist, particularly for an item that is so heavy. I love the red color, but that probably goes without saying…  😉

In our kitchen….

BlackOliveRosemaryBread

My first production using the bread cloche.  I made one of the recipes that came with it, a Black Olive Rosemary Rye Bread.  Simple formula, commercial yeast.  Perfect to cut in small squares, toast, and enjoy with that tasty caviar as you maybe noticed in the caviar photo above.

In our kitchen….

Salmon

We are not brave enough to make sushi at home, it’s something we reserve for eating out, but whenever Phil finds great quality salmon for sale, he plays sushi-chef and we pretend we are in Tokyo.

In our kitchen….

seedlessJam

This was one tricky ingredient to find.  I needed to use in a particular recipe that shall be blogged about soon. 99% of what you find in stores contains seeds, and it is more like a jam, not preserves. I was about to give up and order online, but finally found this gem at our town’s Hy-Vee.

In our kitchen….

WasaComposite

We are quite fond of Wasa bread, but this type quickly became my favorite. Not easy to find, so whenever I spot it at the store, I grab a couple of boxes.  Light, crispy, great flavor, much milder than all other Wasa versions.

In our kitchen….

Broth

Small containers of chicken and vegetable broth.  I like the fact that they hold just 8oz, so for many recipes that’s all you’ll need. Open, use, call it a day. I must say though, that I get into intense eye-rolling mode every time I see the term “bone broth”, as if Paleo-afficionados “invented” it.  What’s wrong with calling them beef stock, or chicken stock like every single cook has done for decades? Noooo, let’s pretend it’s a totally different entity (triple sigh).

In our kitchen….

LittlePlates

These are very small, appetizer type plates, I found them at Marshall’s.  They have a nice pattern and of course the bright yellow is impossible to resist…

In our kitchen….

FarmersMarketSmall tomatoes from the farmer’s market, yellow and red, juicy and sweet….

In our kitchen….
Drum roll please, these are FROM OUR BACKYARD!

FromGarden

I can hardly believe these tomatoes are from our own garden!  Thanks to Phil, who brought 4 small plants home in early June, and patiently took care of them.  I stayed as far away as possible to avoid doing them any harm. Aren’t they gorgeous?  And we also got great results with Serrano peppers…

Serranos
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And now, let’s hear it from the three furry friends who keep the Bewitching Kitchen (and its surroundings) as a very lively place… Well, maybe not always lively, as you can see in these shots.

😉

BrothersSleep

Mom and Dad went for a trip to this strange place called Colorado and off to the kennel we went. It took forever, but one day they showed up and finally brought us back home. There is nothing better than a nice snooze in our comfy beds to celebrate life coming back to normal.   You can bet we are having wonderful dreams!

OskyBedtrouble

Now, of course,  our brother Oscar has his own interpretation of what a nice sleep involves.
We think he is a bit nuts.

OskyBonding

You may think I’m nuts, but “I” am the Chosen One, the One Who Bonds with Daddy. So there!

BuckSleep

Well, “I” am bonding with my Mom, even if it seems I’m asleep…
Note from Mom: this was really quite sweet.  I had to work from home one morning a couple of  weeks ago, and Buck’s routine was all changed. Instead of being outside with Oscar, he stayed in. The Real Chosen One, I suppose…  He had no problem adjusting to the change. Laid by my side and snored away happily for more than one hour!

Photobombing

Ok, I admit it. I’m not really bonding in this shot.
I am more photobombing, a skill I’ve been perfecting for years now.

Buck 1 x 0 Daddy, the photographer.

And to close this post, a couple of videos.

First we have Buck and his absolute passion for the hose and anything to do with water.  I would like you to notice in the background of the video, at the lower level of the backyard, a doghouse.  More on that after the video.

Anyway, while Buck is having all that fun, Oscar simply cannot get far enough from the action. He absolutely despises water, hoses, baths. Once the hose is shutdown, he peeks out, as if saying “is it safe to come out now?”  Priceless….

WaterWimp

But he has his chance to get excited too. Twice a week we go jogging before lunch. The dogs somehow realize  it is “the day”, and start going nuts even before I do anything like changing into my running outfit or grabbing their leashes. I believe they do read minds, you know?

Well, that’s all for now, folks!  I hope you enjoyed the little tour of our kitchen, and please stop by Celia’s blog where you can get a virtual tour of many kitchens around the world…   See you next time!

ONE YEAR AGO: Sour Cherry Sorbet: A Labor of Love

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen – September 2013

THREE YEARS AGO: Raspberry Sorbet at Summer’s End

FOUR YEARS AGO: When three is better than two  (four years with Buck!)

FIVE YEARS AGO: Grating Tomatoes (and loving it!)

SIX YEARS AGO: A Peachy Salad for a Sunny Day