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Breakfast Hash

Breakfast hash

Just as a little teaser (some of you might have already seen the album already), but I attended San Diego Comic-con a few weeks ago (I know, I’m late to the party) and will be putting together a post with some of the pictures soon. I think I honestly had more fun getting pictures of all of the different cosplayers than I did in many of the panels (who doesn’t like standing in line?)

But the other thing is that San Diego weather is incredible. Coupled with the fact that Boston was sweltering (high 90′s 100% humidity) the week before, 75 degrees, low humidity, and the ocean-breeze was a paradise to me. And “mostly cloudy” on the forecast really means two or three clouds in the distance. I think they do that just to change it up, otherwise it might be difficult to keep down a job as a meteorologist there right? Same thing every day: 75 degrees, sunny.

Anyway, the past few weeks have been quite a blur. Honestly, the saying that as you get older you get busier and have less time rings true. I can’t fathom how some people manage to hold down a job, take care of their kids, maintain a house, cook every night, and still find time to keep up with a hobby! That’s true productivity right there.

One thing I’ve found time to cook lately though is a breakfast hash. Usually, when I grab breakfast, I usually think of hash as just potatoes (though there’s nothing wrong with that). Then, I had brunch at a couple places that added a few different things (vegetables, turkey…duck!) and I started rethinking the idea. I mean, why couldn’t I cook something like that up on a lazy Sunday morning with some of the stuff lying around the fridge?

So I did it. I had an onion, a couple peppers, and then I picked up a ham steak and the potatoes the day before. Then, after consulting Simply Recipes, I got started. The hash, a couple eggs, and some freshly buttered toast makes a good start to a new week doesn’t it?

I’ve also made this with sausage meat and some other root vegetables like parsnips and butternut squash. It works!

Breakfast Hash with ham

Time : 30 minutes
Serves : 4-6

Ingredients:
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 red pepper, finely chopped
- 1 orange pepper, finely chopped
- 3 – 4 medium yukon gold potatoes (slightly larger than a juice box)
- 1/3 lb ham steak, finely chopped
- 1/2 to 3/4 tsp fresh thyme
- salt and pepper to taste

Method:
1. Boil a pot of salted water. Peel potatoes and boil them for about 12 minutes. Remove and drain. Chop the potatoes into small cubes
2. Add the butter to a cast iron pan over medium heat. When the butter melts, add the chopped onions for about 1-2 minutes, getting the onions well coated.
3. Add in the peppers, mix well. Cook another 2-3 minutes.
4. Add the ham and chopped potatoes. Season with some salt, pepper, and the thyme. Cook for another 10 minutes, stirring every couple minutes or so to get some sear throughout the potatoes.
5. Taste and correct for salt and pepper, then remove to a serving bowl and serve immediately.

Note:
A couple times, I cooked some maple breakfast sausages prior to cooking the hash. Then I used 1 tbsp less butter to make the hash. The hash turned out a little bit sweeter.

Cooking Catchup

Sausage, Peppers & Onions

Nothing new today, just a few things I’ve cooked over the last month or so.

I’ve been living in Boston now for about 9 years (can scarcely believe it) and I’ve never done any of the 4th of July historical stuff, tours and such. I’ve done the fireworks on the Esplanande, it’s like one giant picnic! Also did the Pops dress rehearsal which actually was a ton of fun. We did get rained on but the concert more than made up for it. And seeing the cannons fire live during the 1812 Overture was pretty neat. I’m a classical music junkie so I ate this all up.

Chicken Saltimbocca

That being said, I’ve never actually done a tour around the historical sites in Boston since I moved here. Sure, I’ve walked the Freedom Trail in chunks but it’s not quite the same if you don’t already know all of the history behind some of the sites. It might be blasphemy to say so, but walking by Paul Revere’s house is pretty uninteresting without any accompanying narrative other than bits and pieces of the poem I read years ago. So I went on the tour, one of my better decisions lately. And then one of my worst? Forgetting sunscreen and wearing sandals (Walked probably about 3-4 miles on the day total).

Sausage Pepper & Onions>

On the side, I just started reading Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential. As only I can do, I managed to read the first page and then forget the book at someone’s house. Hopefully I’ll finish it in the next year =P

Chicken Piccata

Chicken Piccata

C

hicken Piccata is something I used to make a long time ago but for one reason or another, stopped in the past couple years. Never could figure out why. Maybe because it has butter and no mushrooms. That could be it.

I’ve been experimenting with some low-light photography as of late for the club at work. Our assignment the past week was “still life” and of course I abused my poetic license to interpret that more as “things that are still” as opposed to the more traditional sense (That and all the actual still life I shot sucked). I used the shot above and the one below as my examples. One tip I did pick up while doing the assignment was how to get some of the glare off of the food/chillies. The light source was in the upper left hand corner of the shot and was blowing out that section of the subject so I took a magazine (Car and Driver June 2011 in fact) and held it between the light source and the food. Worked wonders, no glare and didn’t really reduce the lighting that much.

ADI - Thai chillies
Thai Chillies

And one more picture that didn’t make the cut. More or less because I didn’t focus it right and was too lazy to zoom in the lcd to check. Oh well, I’ll figure it out next time =)

ADI - Poker chips
Poker chips

I’ll probably be posting the assignments for our club here every now and then. It keeps me on my toes and forces me to experiment and learn new techniques. And the club is very helpful, suggesting different things I’d normally never consider but after thinking about it, make sense. And they encouraged me to buy a shutter-release, probably one of the most useful pieces of equipment that I picked up so far. All for 5 bucks too, can’t imagine why I never got one! I also picked up Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography books, so far I’ve nearly finished book 1 and a lot of what I’ve read so far has stuck with me since. Now to just find more opportunities to apply all the new techniques =P

As for the photos, one day I’ll get a couple more tablecloths. It’s getting boring isn’t it?

Anyway, onto the important stuff…the food!

Chicken Piccata

Time : 20 minutes
Serves : 4

Ingredients:
- 1 whole boneless chicken breast
- 2/3 cup flour, for dredging
- 4 tbsp butter
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- Couple tbsp heavy cream
- 1/4 cup capers, rinsed
- handful of fresh Italian parsley, chopped fine
- 1 lb pasta (linguine, spaghetti, fettucini)

Method:
1. Cut chicken breast into two halves, then slice lengthwise to create 4 total fillets. Use a meat tenderizer to pound into 1/3 inch pieces.
2. Season chicken with some salt and pepper and then dredge in flour.
3. In a large frying pan (large enough to hold all 4 fillets later on), heat 2 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter over medium heat. Add in two of the fillets and cook on each side for about 2 minutes. Remove cooked fillets, add 2 tbsp olive oil, and another tbsp of butter and cook the other fillets. When finished, set all the chicken aside.
4. Add in the lemon juice and chicken broth. Stir well, making sure to scrape up the tasty bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add in the capers and bring to a boil. Taste and adjust salt/pepper accordingly.
5. In a separate stock pot, bring several quarts of water to a boil and add in some salt. Cook pasta according to boxed directions until al dente (or whatever firmness you like).
6. Return the chicken to the frying pan and simmer for another 5 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove the chicken once again.
7. Add the last of the butter to the sauce along with the heavy cream. Stir well.
8. Plate the chicken with a helping of pasta, pour sauce over top and garnish with some chopped fresh Italian parsley.

Chicken Piccata

Format

Chicken Piccata is something I used to make a long time ago but for one reason or another, stopped in the past couple years. Never could figure out why. Maybe because it has butter and no mushrooms. That could be it.
I’ve been experimenting with some low-light photography as of late for the club at work. Our assignment the past week was “still life” and of course I abused my poetic license to interpret that more as “things that are still” as opposed to the more traditional sense (That and all the actual still life I shot sucked). I used the shot above and the one below as my examples. One tip I did pick up while doing the assignment was how to get some of the glare off of the food/chillies. The light source was in the upper left hand corner of the shot and was blowing out that section of the subject so I took a magazine (Car and Driver June 2011 in fact) and held it between the light source and the food. Worked wonders, no glare and didn’t really reduce the lighting that much.

Thai Chillies
And one more picture that didn’t make the cut. More or less because I didn’t focus it right and was too lazy to zoom in the lcd to check. Oh well, I’ll figure it out next time =)

Poker chips
I’ll probably be posting the assignments for our club here every now and then. It keeps me on my toes and forces me to experiment and learn new techniques. And the club is very helpful, suggesting different things I’d normally never consider but after thinking about it, make sense. And they encouraged me to buy a shutter-release, probably one of the most useful pieces of equipment that I picked up so far. All for 5 bucks too, can’t imagine why I never got one! I also picked up Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography books, so far I’ve nearly finished book 1 and a lot of what I’ve read so far has stuck with me since. Now to just find more opportunities to apply all the new techniques =P
As for the photos, one day I’ll get a couple more tablecloths. It’s getting boring isn’t it?
Anyway, onto the important stuff…the food!
Chicken Piccata
Time : 20 minutes
Serves : 4
Ingredients:
- 1 whole boneless chicken breast
- 2/3 cup flour, for dredging
- 4 tbsp butter
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- Couple tbsp heavy cream
- 1/4 cup capers, rinsed
- handful of fresh Italian parsley, chopped fine
- 1 lb pasta (linguine, spaghetti, fettucini)
Method:
1. Cut chicken breast into two halves, then slice lengthwise to create 4 total fillets. Use a meat tenderizer to pound into 1/3 inch pieces.
2. Season chicken with some salt and pepper and then dredge in flour.
3. In a large frying pan (large enough to hold all 4 fillets later on), heat 2 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter over medium heat. Add in two of the fillets and cook on each side for about 2 minutes. Remove cooked fillets, add 2 tbsp olive oil, and another tbsp of butter and cook the other fillets. When finished, set all the chicken aside.
4. Add in the lemon juice and chicken broth. Stir well, making sure to scrape up the tasty bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add in the capers and bring to a boil. Taste and adjust salt/pepper accordingly.
5. In a separate stock pot, bring several quarts of water to a boil and add in some salt. Cook pasta according to boxed directions until al dente (or whatever firmness you like).
6. Return the chicken to the frying pan and simmer for another 5 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove the chicken once again.
7. Add the last of the butter to the sauce along with the heavy cream. Stir well.
8. Plate the chicken with a helping of pasta, pour sauce over top and garnish with some chopped fresh Italian parsley.
Path:

Creamy lemon pasta with chicken

Chicken and Lemon cream penne

One of the ideas I’d been toying with for the blog lately has been to start adding posts about restaurants. Not that I don’t go out often, just that a lot of the time, getting good pictures at a restaurant winds up being:

a) Obnoxious, as I need to use a flash since lighting is generally soft
b) Just plain obnoxious

But I see so many other blogs pulling it off so I might give it a try ( or ask for advice =P )

As you may have noticed in the past couple posts (and the next couple coming up), I’ve been using a lot of pasta. Well, aside from having an almost unnatural love for anything noodle-related, pasta was on sale at the store so like I usually do, I buy way too much of it. Now I’ve got 10 pounds of pasta in the cupboard (not counting soba, wonton noodles, rice cakes, etc). Hard life, isn’t it?

To be completely truthful, the recipe I used for this dish called for a handful of basil leaves. Two weeks ago, I went ahead and planted a bunch of herbs (no garden, so they’re just in pots) but when I went to make up this dish, the basil plant didn’t quite have enough leaves yet (I would have had to harvest the whole plant, but I don’t think that would’ve done me any good) so I went without. It wound up a little more “lemon-y” than I would’ve liked (the combination of me eyeballing the lemon juice and not having the basil probably did me in, but I managed to correct for that) but definitely a tasty dish to go with some grilled/broiled/pan-fried chicken.

Creamy lemon pasta with chicken

Time : 25-30 minutes
Serves : 4

Recipe adapted from Ree at The Pionner Woman Cooks

Ingredients:
– 1 whole chicken breast (marinated however you like), filleted into 4 pieces
– 1 lb Penne/Rigatoni-like pasta
– 4 tbsp butter
– 1 tbsp olive oil
– 2 lemons, juiced
– 1 cup heavy cream
– 1 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
– Salt and pepper to taste
– Pinch of nutmeg
– Some frozen peas (Maybe 1 to 1 1/2 cups)

Method:
1) Boil water in a large stockpot. Add some salt. Cook pasta until al dente, set aside in a large serving bowl after draining.
2) Bring a saute pan over medium heat. Add the butter and olive oil in, wait about 30 seconds to a minute for the butter to melt. Mix together.
3) Add in the lemon juice, stir together. Add in the cream, stir and bring to a simmer.
4) Add the Parmesan cheese, pinch of nutmeg, and some salt and pepper. Taste and correct as necessary.
5) Add in the frozen peas and cook for about another minute.
6) Combine the sauce and pasta in the serving bowl, toss, and serve.

Spaghetti with Sausage and Peppers

Sausage and Pepper sauce

Not quite sure what’s with the ridiculous weather these days but after 90 degree days in May and 50 degree days in June, I think I’m ready for snow in July. We even had a few tornados blow through and a good amount of hail! Nothing to see here right? Just your typical New England late Spring / early Summer.

Apologies in advance on the picture. As is with most of my cooking, I cook, then I eat. Sometimes I’m starving and dig in right away and sometimes I just plain forget to take a picture before putting everything away. Fortunately this time I remembered right before I chowed down (hence the hasty photo, I was famished!) but couldn’t be bothered to set up the table any better =P

About a month ago, I found myself reading a lot more about photography and chatting with some of the folks at work. Turns out there’s a photography club and they run workshops and assignments every other week. It’s always great to have another pair of eyes look at some of your shots and help you along the way, and my coworkers have been great in being patient with my questions and out-of-focus / off-balance photos. It’s definitely gotten me more interested in photography.

But…there’s a catch here. See, there’s a slippery slope when it comes to photography, especially the equipment. I got my first DSLR about 4 years ago, shot in auto-mode almost all the time. After about a year, I switched to Aperture priority mode and was wow’ed by the improvement in the pictures just by simply framing a shot. Last year I picked up a 5D from a coworker that upgraded his camera and started shooting manual mode most of the time. Now, I still suck but notice the trend here…the equipment is getting progressively more sophisticated and…expensive. Add in a tripod, external flash, and a padded bag, well…you get the idea.

…And then I went face first down the slippery slope. About a month ago, I picked up the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L lens. It hasn’t left my 5D since. But it left my wallet looking quite a bit lean.

How deep is this rabbit hole anyway?

Spaghetti with Sausage and Peppers

Time : 30 minutes
Serves : 5-6

Recipe adapted from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking

Ingredients:
- 3 – 4 Pork sausages (I usually like using sweet Italian), sliced
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 2 red bell peppers
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 12 oz can of plum tomatoes, chopped
- Salt + Pepper to taste
- 1 lb pasta (Spaghetti, Linguine, any kind of long noodle)

For tossing the pasta:
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Method:
1) Peel the skin off the peppers. Remove stem and seeds, cut into 1 inch squares.
2) Add olive oil to a large frying pan. Add in the chopped onions, heat to medium high. Cook until onions start to become golden.
3) Add in the sliced sausages, cook about 2 minutes.
4) Add in the chopped peppers, season with a little salt and pepper. Give the pan a good shake/stir and then cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5) Add in the chopped tomatoes with liquid, bring to a simmer for 15-20 minutes.
6) While simmering the tomatoes, boil some water in a large saucepan/stockpot, add some salt, and cook the pasta until al dente.
7) After the pasta is finished, strain it in a colander and then pour into a serving bowl along with the butter and cheese. Toss well to get everything nice and coated. Then pour in the sauce, toss well, and serve.