Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

Calling All Thanksgiving Foodie Photographers!

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

This year, I’ve had more than one friend or associate tell me that they’re planning on cooking something that sounds downright fantastic this Thanksgiving.

(Some of you know who you are. Max, with your beer-can turkey. Jeff with your glazed pork belly. Zena with your turducken.)

Regardless, since I can’t be in 8,000 places at once this holiday (oh, the day they figure out how to clone The Hungry Mouse), I’d love to see what you made or ate. For all you foodies and food bloggers out there, I think it would be really neat to see how everybody celebrates—all in one place.

Send me your most drool-worthy pictures!
Id like to put together a photographic feast next week featuring pictures of your fabulous holiday food.

If you’d like to be included, please e-mail your most mouth-watering Thanksgiving food picture—along with a description and a link to your blog, if you have one—to: [email protected]. Deadline is this Sunday, November 30.

I’ll compile them all with your descriptions and post them up next week.*


The Hungry Mouse’s Online Guide to Thanksgiving Dinner

Monday, November 24th, 2008

I have no idea how it’s Thanksgiving week already!

If you’re like me, you might be scrambling around for a few last-minute holiday ideas.

Now, we’re not big on turkey here at the Mouse House, so I’m the last one to be dishing out advice on making the big bird.

There is, however, a lot of culinary inspiration online these days. Here’s a guide to some of the best Thanksgiving content I’ve run across.

Online Guide to Thanksgiving Dinner: Thanksgiving round-ups

A lot of sites have published “all-inclusive” type Thanksgiving guides.

The New York Times has a whole compendium of articles—ranging from recipes to history—that’s worth a read. So does

Epicurious has put together a similar list at their Thanksgiving Headquarters, including a first-timer’s guide for preparing a holiday feast that’s loaded with good tips for planning and staying organized while you cook.

Yankee Magazine also has a good list of tips and recipes for entertaining.

Love her or hate her (or both), Martha Stewart is always worth checking out around the holidays. From 12 complete menus with recipes—from classic, to Southern style, to buffet.

Martha also has 22 pie recipes that range from traditional (apple, pumpkin, pecan) to more contemporary (mini-cranberry meringue, pear and sour cherry, and honey-walnut).

The guys over at The Bitten Word have put together a great list of this year’s Thanksgiving menus according to the big food magazines. (Thanks to fabulous foodie Emily Szopa from the Chicago Dining Examiner for tipping me off to this.)

Online Guide to Thanksgiving Dinner: Turkey talk

More and more people start their Thanksgiving bird by brining it overnight in a solution of sugar, salt, and water. This helps keep the bird plump and juicy as it cooks. While I haven’t brined a turkey before, I have done this many times with chicken with fantastic results.

They also have an interesting technique for injecting your turkey with olive oil to keep it moist and flavorful.

If you don’t feel like roasting your bird for hours, take a gander at Mark Bittman’s tried-and-true method for butterflying and roasting a whole turkey in 45 minutes.

Boston Globe Food Editor Cheryl Julian demonstrates the butterflying method really well here:

Bittman’s braised turkey is also pretty interesting.

Not sure how to tell when your turkey is done? Here’s a quick video for visual reference of just how to take your bird’s temperature.

If you’re feeling adventurous, Chef Emory Davis has a really thorough series of videos on how to deep-fry a turkey. If you’re looking for an exact recipe, Alton Brown‘s deep-fried turkey with brown-sugar brine sounds amazing.

How to Deep Fry a Thanksgiving Turkey — powered by
If you’re after a turkey fryer, this 30-Quart Outdoor Turkey Fryer Kit seems to be one of the standards out there.

As part of their 2008 Thanksgiving Guide, the San Francisco Chronicle hosted a reader-judged Iron-Chef style cook-off between four-star chefs Michael Mina (of Michael Mina restaurant) and Douglas Keane (of Cyrus).

Online Guide to Thanksgiving Dinner: Last but not least?

The New York Times has a great video on turkey carving that shows you just how to get the most meat off your bird.

How to Make Buttermilk Pancakes

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

I’ve had a surprising number of people tell me they have a really hard time making pancakes at home.

Here’s how I make my buttermilk pancakes, which I whipped up for The Angry Chef just the other day.

How to Make Buttermilk Pancakes: Wait, pancakes made with…olive oil?

Yep, yep. My original recipe calls for melted butter. I will admit, though, that I usually use olive oil instead.

It cuts out one step and tastes just great. Just don’t use an oil with any kind of strong flavor. If you’re not crazy about this idea, certainly use melted butter.

Buttermilk Pancakes

1 egg
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. sugar
2 Tbls. olive oil (or melted butter)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Makes about 12-14 pancakes.

Crack an egg into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Whisk it until it’s light and frothy.

Add the buttermilk and whisk to combine.

Add the baking soda, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt to the egg/buttermilk mixture.

How to Make Buttermilk Pancakes: A quick note on technique

Now, the more official way to add dry ingredients to wet is to put the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and whisk them together to thoroughly combine (ensuring that you don’t get a lump of baking powder, etc., somewhere).

While I definitely do this for some recipes, I honestly don’t find that it makes a huge difference in this case. Plus, it adds an extra step.

Whisk together to combine until the batter is smooth and free of lumps.

Drizzle in the olive oil. Whisk to incorporate completely.

Your batter should be relatively thick, creamy, and nice and glossy.

Set a non-stick pan on the stove over medium-high heat. I use a double burner griddle. Let the pan heat up for maybe a minute.

Pour or ladle your batter onto the pan in small-ish blobs. It will settle down and flatten out by itself as it cooks.

I like pancakes that are on the smaller size, so I pour out a puddle of batter that’s a little smaller than the palm of my hand.

Lower the heat to medium. Cook for a minute or two. Keep a good eye on them.

If you get down on eye level with your pancakes (don’t burn your snout), you can watch them cook from the bottom up.

After a minute or two, they should look fairly solid on the bottom. You should also notice a few air bubbles form on the surface of the pancakes.

Stick a thin spatula under the edge of one and take a peek. The pancake itself should feel semi-solid and be golden brown underneath. When you see this, it’s time to flip your pancakes.

To flip, slide a thin spatula all the way underneath your pancakes and turn them over. (If you only go halfway, they’re harder to flip.)

Cook them on this side for a minute or two on this side.

You’ll notice when you flip them that they poof up a little.

They’re done when the edges look cooked (i.e. totally solid) and the bottom is golden brown. Don’t overcook them, as they can get tough.

Repeat until you’ve used up all your batter.

If you’re making a bunch of pancakes, preheat your oven to 200 degrees when you start the batter. Keep the cooked pancakes warm in a baking dish until you’re ready to serve.


8-Cheese Macaroni & Cheese

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

I have three words for you: ultimate comfort food.

Cover anything in cheese, and I’m generally a really happy mouse. The more cheese, the better. Eight cheeses? Now that’s my idea of heaven on earth.

Now, this is not haute cuisine (though if you tried, I suppose you could call this a sort of White Baked Ziti, or some such).

This is curl-up-on-the-couch-and-watch-a-movie-on-a-snowy-night-then-fall-asleep-happy cuisine. Which these days, is just our style.

This stick-to-your ribs, baked macaroni and cheese is made with veloute sauce, which is a basically a bechamel made with chicken stock instead of milk. (If you’ve ever wondered how to make a roux, read on…)

You can use any noodles you want. I like rotini, since all those nooks and crannies in the noodles really give the sauce something to stick to.

For some reason, I’ve never liked buttered breadcrumbs on top of my mac ‘n cheese. Go figure. If you do, though, you can certainly add them before baking. You could also toss in a little leftover roasted chicken.

So, bring on the carb coma. You certainly don’t want it often, but when you’re in the mood to overdose on cheese-y starchy goodness, these noodles do the job.

8-Cheese Macaroni & Cheese: A note on your casserole dish

You can bake this recipe in any kind of ovenproof casserole dish you have. Your choice should be all about how much browned cheese crust you want on your finished mac ‘n cheese.

The more you want, the larger dish you should use (so you have more surface area for the cheese topping to brown). If you want to keep the crust to a minimum, use a deeper bowl that’s not very wide.

8-Cheese Macaroni & Cheese: A note on the cheese

I used a shredded blend of six Italian cheeses (mozzarella, provolone, Parmesan, asiago, fontina, and romano)—topped with smoked gouda, American cheese, and more shredded mozzarella.

The gouda adds a wonderful smokey note, and the American cheese melts down into the noodles to add an extra level of creamy, gooey-ness to the sauce.

8-Cheese Macaroni & Cheese

1 lb. rotini (or other noodle)
2 Tbls. butter
2 Tbls. flour
2 cups chicken stock
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/4 tsp. white pepper
2 cups shredded 6-cheese Italian cheese blend (mozzarella, provolone, Parmesan, asiago, fontina, and romano)
kosher salt

For the topping (use enough to blanket the top of your casserole)
Sliced gouda
Sliced American cheese
Shredded mozzarella
Dried parsley

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Put a stock pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil.

8-Cheese Macaroni & Cheese: Cook the pasta

When your water comes up to a boil, add the pasta. Toss in a little kosher salt to taste.

Give the pasta a stir and let it boil over high heat until it’s cooked to your liking. In the meantime, put together the cheese sauce.

8-Cheese Macaroni & Cheese: Make the base for the cheese sauce

Start by making a roux (a.k.a. flour cooked with butter that forms a base to thicken your sauce).

Set a medium-sized sauce pot on the stove over medium heat. Add the butter and melt it.

When the butter has totally melted, toss in the flour.

Whisk the flour and butter together rapidly. At first, it will be pasty and full of lumps. Keep whisking.

After the butter and flour come together, the mixture will start to smooth out. Keep whisking.

After a minute or so, your roux should be bubbling happily, like this:

Let it cook for a few minutes over medium heat. Whisk occasionally.

Your goal here is to make a light (or white) roux.

That means that you want to cook the raw taste of the flour out of it, but stop before starts to change colors and get brown. (For more info, check out this excellent discussion of the different types of roux.)

Add the chicken stock. Whisk together to blend the roux into the stock. Raise the heat to high to bring the sauce up to a boil.

Add the garlic powder, white pepper, and parsley. Whisk to combine, then whisk occasionally until it comes to a boil.

When it comes to a boil, lower the heat to medium-high. Whisk frequently, and simmer for 5 minutes, or until it’s thickened slightly. If you taste it, it should taste buttery and chicken-y, and not at all like raw flour.

8-Cheese Macaroni & Cheese: Check on your pasta

By now, it’s likely that your pasta is cooked. When it is, drain it and put it back in the pot you cooked it in. Set it aside while you finish your sauce.

8-Cheese Macaroni & Cheese: Finish the sauce

When your base sauce has thickened, add the cheese in two batches to help ensure it melts easily and evenly.

Add 1 cup of shredded cheese.

Whisk to combine and melt the cheese.

After 1 cup of cheese, your sauce will be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Add the other cup of cheese and whisk to combine and melt it. Your sauce will be considerably thicker and cheesier.

At this point, taste the sauce. Toss in more kosher salt or pepper (or anything else) now if you think it needs it.

When you’re happy with it, pour the sauce over the cooked noodles.

Stir to coat the noodles well.

8-Cheese Macaroni & Cheese: Assemble and bake

Pour the cheese-y noodles into your prepared baking dish.

Spread the noodles out evenly.

Top with pieces of sliced gouda and American cheese, then sprinkle with shredded mozzarella. Use enough to cover the noodles. How much you add is completely up to you.

Sprinkle with a little parsley and kosher salt to taste.

Pop the pan into the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes (depending on the size dish you used), until the cheese is melted and brown.

Keep an eye on it as it bakes. You want the cheese on top to brown a little, but you don’t want to leave it in so long that the noodles on the edges get hard and crisp.

I yanked mine out after 20 minutes, when it looked like this:

Serve hot and enjoy!

Copyright 2008 The Hungry Mouse/Jessica B. Konopa. All rights reserved.

Stonewall Kitchen, LLC

Rib of the Week: Cranberry Sage Pork Ribs with Whiskey Butter

Friday, November 21st, 2008

There’s nothing like coating something in butter. I know it’s not the healthiest thing in the world, but man, is it good.

For this dish, meaty, country-style pork ribs get frosted with a pungent whiskey butter, then dappled with fresh cranberries, garlic, and earthy sage.

They get basted a few times as they roast with a broth of whiskey-butter that’s been infused with a little sumptuous pork fat and tart cranberry juice.

These ribs are meatier than regular spare ribs, making them ideal for casual and hearty holiday dinner.

Cranberry Sage Pork Ribs with Whiskey Butter

3 lbs. country-style pork spare ribs
5 Tbls. butter
2 Tbls. whiskey or scotch
kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper
1 Tbls. garlic powder
1 cup fresh whole cranberries
1 Tbls. fresh sage, minced

About a half an hour or so before you want to cook, measure out your butter and leave it on the counter to soften up a little bit.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Cranberry Sage Pork Ribs with Whiskey Butter: Prep the meat

Grab your pork ribs.

Unwrap them and lay them out in a 13 x 9 baking pan.

Cranberry Sage Pork Ribs with Whiskey Butter: Make the whiskey butter

Put your softened butter in a bowl or measuring cup.

Mash it up with a fork.

Add the whiskey.

With your fork, stir the butter and whiskey together until you have a uniform paste. This will take a few minutes, but the butter will absorb all the whiskey.

When it comes together fully, it should look about like this:

It will be looser, but not at all drippy or unmanageable.

Cranberry Sage Pork Ribs with Whiskey Butter: Coat the ribs with whiskey butter

With your hands, rub each rib with the whiskey butter until it’s well coated.

Your goal is to cover each rib in butter.

Sprinkle with the garlic powder and kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Set the ribs aside for a minute or two while you deal with the cranberries.

Cranberry Sage Pork Ribs with Whiskey Butter: Cut up the cranberries

Measure out your cranberries. Slice each one in half. (I swear this won’t take as long as it sounds.)

Cranberry Sage Pork Ribs with Whiskey Butter: Sprinkle, bake, and baste

Sprinkle the cranberries over the pork ribs, distributing them as evenly as you can.

Lastly, sprinkle on the minced sage.

Stick your pan in the oven and bake for 1 hour – 1 1/2 hours. Your final cooking time will depend on how big and thick your ribs are. (Start checking them after about an hour.)

Every 20 minutes or so, baste the ribs with the butter-y broth in the bottom of the pan. (Hold the pan firmly with one hand, tip it a little, spoon up the juice that puddles in the pan’s corner, and drizzle it over the meat.)

They’re done when they’re nicely browned and the meat comes away easily when pulled at with a fork. They should look about like this:

Serve and enjoy!

Copyright 2008 The Hungry Mouse/Jessica B. Konopa. All rights reserved.

Stonewall Kitchen, LLC

Hot Buttered Rum Pecan Sundae

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

The topping for this sundae has all the rich, buttery flavor of pecan pralines—without the time or trouble involved in candymaking.

Basically, this recipe makes a mini-batch of pecan candy by superheating a small amount of butter and brown sugar in a large pan, cooking the nuts in it, then flavoring it with a little rum. Serve it over vanilla ice cream to provide the last missing flavor of traditional pralines: the heavy cream.

You can whip this together in maybe 15 minutes for an impromptu treat for unexpected guests.

The nuts caramelize in a sticky-sweet, buttery sauce.

When the hot sauce hits the cold ice cream, the sugar stiffens up almost instantly. The contrast of flavors, textures, and temperatures makes this sundae an absolutely delightful way to end an evening—or start one.

I like to do this with pecans and serve with espresso or strong tea. It would be great with other nut/liquor combinations, too. Walnuts and whiskey would be really good. Or almonds and amaretto.

If you’re one of those folks (like The Angry Chef) who likes the contrast of good sea salt with sweets, garnish with a little fleur de sel.

Hot Buttered Rum Pecan Ice Cream Sundae

1 Tbls. butter
2 Tbls. brown sugar
1/2 cup pecan halves
1 Tbls. dark rum
vanilla ice cream

Makes enough for 1 big sundae or 2 smaller ones.

Melt the butter in a non-stick pan over medium heat.

Toss in the brown sugar.

Stir to combine well. Break up any lumps of brown sugar with the back of your spoon.

Let the sugar/butter mixture cook for a minute or two over medium heat, stirring frequently. It should start to bubble and smell really good. If it starts to burn or smoke, turn the heat down.

Add the nuts to the pan.

Stir to coat the pecans well. Cook for a minute or two more on medium heat, stirring constantly.

If you have a gas stove, turn the heat off completely (so that if you spill the rum, it doesn’t accidentally ignite and flare up).

Add the rum.

It should immediately start to boil and give off a big poof of steam, so step back and watch your fingers (and long hair, etc.).

Stir the pan immediately to incorporate the rum into the sauce and to reduce it a little.

Turn the heat back on low. Cook for maybe another minute, stirring constantly. The sauce is done when it’s nice and thick and the nuts are well coated. It should look about like this:

Turn the heat off and leave the pan on the stove to stay warm. Scoop out the ice cream.

Spoon the topping over the ice cream.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Copyright 2008 The Hungry Mouse/Jessica B. Konopa. All rights reserved.

Stonewall Kitchen, LLC

Round 2 of The 2008 Fabulous Food Blogger Awards: Five More Foodies

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

I’m having a serious case of Food Blogger Love today.

I know I just did Round 1 of these awards a few weeks ago, but I continue to be bowled over by the volume of original, quirky, inspiring, and just downright good food writing I see online everyday.

Round 2: The 2008 Fabulous Food Blogger Awards

I’ve met some seriously cool, interesting, and talented food bloggers since I started The Hungry Mouse. My list is far longer than this, but here are five folks you should definitely check out.

Round 2 of The 2008 Fabulous Food Blogger Awards: Five More Foodies: Oh, rules

I didn’t mention this the last time, but if you receive this award (or if you have some food blogger love of your own to share), please pass it along to five of your favorite foodie folks.

The Happy Gentleman
Alexander lives in Houston with his wife and is a foodie and photographer. How can you not love a guy who is a self-admitted tea connoisseur, organic apartment gardener, and European shoe collector. He takes great pictures and makes food that’s easy to prepare and satisfying. I mean, just check out his lime-baked chicken, and you’ll see what I mean.

The Chicago Dining Examiner
I know, I know. What does a Boston girl care about food in Chicago? This blog is THAT good. That’s all I’ll say. Emily Szopa’s writing is always fresh, funny, and totally on point. (I have a feeling if we lived in the same city, we’d get into all sorts of trouble together.) In addition to writing about eating out in the windy city, she runs recipes and book reviews. For example, she recently clued me in to a great new cookbook.

Megan’s Munchies
Meg makes some of the most mouthwatering, drool-worthy baked goods I’ve ever seen. She’s also possibly one of the nicest bloggers on the planet. Her recipes are well written, not too complicated, and easy to follow. Those Cherry Cheese Rolls she made a little while ago still have my stomach growling.

Kopiaste to Greek Hospitality
This blog is particularly close to my heart because I’m part Greek. If you want to really understand Greek cooking, take a peek at what Ivy has going on in her kitchen. On top of showing you how to prepare delicious Greek food, her posts go above and beyond to explain a little bit about history of whatever you’re cooking. Go have a nibble on her cheese saganaki.

Freezer Burns
Greg Ng is a real-life friend, Elvis impersonator, and one of the most prolific and creative bloggers I’ve ever met. This site centers on frozen food reviews that are at once informative and hugely entertaining. He tests frozen food, then gives you an honest, educated opinion, with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek. Check out what he has to say about Edy’s Limited Edition Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream.

There you have it. Five more fabulous foodie finds. Go check out their blogs. I can almost guarantee you’ll find something to delight you.

As for me, my list of favorite food bloggers grows almost daily. Stay tuned for Round 3 soon.

Copyright 2008 The Hungry Mouse/Jessica B. Konopa. All rights reserved.

Stonewall Kitchen, LLC

How to Make Sourdough Bread, Part 3: Grilled Cheese with Prosciutto

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

This article concludes my series on how to make homemade sourdough bread.

In Part 1, we looked at what sourdough starter is and how you can use it to make a sponge. Part 2 discussed how to bake that sponge into fantastically chewy, dense loaves of bread.

Welcome to Part 3, which I think is the best part. This is the part where we eat the bread. Specifically, we layer it with 3 different cheeses, pile it high with prosciutto, then fry it in loads of butter for a crisp and filling grilled cheese sandwich.

Low fat? No way. A cheese-laden, calorie-busting comfort-food treat every now and then? Absolutely.

How to Make Sourdough Bread, Part 3: Grilled Cheese with Prosciutto. OK, so I made the bread. What can I do with it?

The sourdough bread that I baked in Part 2 of this series is really versatile. You can can serve it with loads of cold butter as a hearty accompaniment to a warm winter meal. Or you can use it as an ingredient in other recipes.

The possibilities are kind of endless, but here are a handful of ideas of what to do with a great loaf of homemade (or store-bought) sourdough bread.

7 Ways to Use Sourdough Bread

1. M
ake a killer sandwich�One of my favorite combinations is bacon, baby spinach, crumbled feta, tomato, and fresh sprouts.

2. Start your day with a hearty breakfast�Toast it and slather it with butter and homemade jam or marmalade. Or use it to make a fried-egg-and-cheese sandwich.

3. Whip up some cheese-y garlic bread�Split it down the middle, spread it thickly with butter, fresh minced garlic, salt, and pepper�then sprinkle on a generous layer of grated Parmesan. Bake it in a 400 degree oven until the cheese is nicely browned.

4. Make homemade croutons�Cut the bread into cubes and toss them with a little olive oil, garlic, and thyme. Spread them on a sheet pan and bake in a 325 degree oven until golden brown.

5. Bake a bread pudding�Rip the bread into large-ish hunks and soak overnight in a custardy mixture of milk, eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Bake at 350 degrees in a casserole dish until the custard is cooked and the top is browned.

6. Surprise brunch guests with sourdough French toast�Follow the basic method and recipe for my make-then-bake chocolate French toast. Just substitute cream or milk for the chocolate milk and your sourdough bread for the chocolate bread.

7. Grind a stale loaf up into bread crumbs�If your bread goes stale before you finish it, break it up into hunks and grind them into bread crumbs in a food processor. Season the crumbs and use them as a breading for flavorful fried shrimp or chicken fingers.

Or, last but not least, you can make grilled cheese

My favorite way, by far, is to use this bread for grilled cheese.

Now, I’ve never met a grilled cheese sandwich I didn’t like. That said, I firmly believe that not all grilled cheeses are created equal.

Everyone has their own special way to prepare grilled cheese. This is mine. (Tell me, tell me…what’s yours?)

My favorite kind of grilled cheese has a crisp, buttery crust. It oozes with several different kinds of cheeses. It definitely has a good ratio of bread to filling. Add any kind of pork product�especially bacon or prosciutto�and I might just lose my mind.

This sandwich is great on its own, or with a small salad and some of my quick and creamy tomato soup.

How to Make Sourdough Bread, Part 3: Grilled Cheese with Prosciutto: A note on cheese

I used a combination of smoked gouda, sliced muenster, and American cheese this time. You can use any combination of cheeses you like. Just be sure to pick cheeses that melt well.

The instructions below are more method than recipe. Use as much cheese and prosciutto as you like.

Sourdough Grilled Cheese with Prosciutto

2 Tbls. butter
1 large hunk of sourdough bread
Smoked gouda
Sliced muenster cheese
American cheese
Sliced prosciutto
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

Set a non-stick pan on the stove. Grab a heavy-bottomed frying pan (cast iron works well) with a very clean bottom and set it aside. If you have an electric panini press, you can totally use that instead.

Grilled Cheese with Prosciutto: Assemble your sandwich

Start with a large piece of sourdough bread. If you’re not using a French-style long loaf, use two thick slices of bread.

Slit it in half.

Scoop out some of the bread from the middle of each piece. Toss what you scoop, or stick it in the food processor for quick breadcrumbs you can use some other time.

I do this for two reasons. First, to create a little hollow that helps keep the fillings firmly inside my sandwich. Second, to keep a good balance between bread and filling.

Add two of your cheeses, covering each piece of bread completely.

Add the prosciutto to one side, using as much as you like.

I drop slices of the meat on in ribbons, so they don’t lay flat. This creates little pockets for the last cheese to melt into, and will help keep your sandwich together as you eat it.

Sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. You could also add a smidge of garlic powder, thyme, or rosemary here if you like.

Top the meat with your final cheese.

Put the non-meat piece of bread on top of the piece with the prosciutto.

Your sandwich should look about like this:

Grilled Cheese with Prosciutto: Fry your sandwich

Spread the top of your sandwich with 1 tablespoon of the butter, like this:

Put the other tablespoon of butter in your non-stick pan over medium heat to melt it.

Pick the pan up and tilt it around to coat the bottom with melted butter.

Put your sandwich in the frying pan, buttered side up.

Fry it for a few minutes, until the bottom develops a brown crust. Turn the heat down a little if it starts to smoke or burn.

Flip the sandwich over when the bottom is nice and brown.

Once you’ve flipped your sandwich, weight it down with a heavy-bottomed frying pan (or even a tea kettle full of water). I used a cast-iron panini press.

Cook for a few minutes, weighted down, until your sandwich has developed a brown crust on the bottom and the cheese is melted.

When it’s done, transfer your sandwich to a cutting board.

Slice it in half with a sharp knife.

Serve and enjoy!

Copyright 2008 The Hungry Mouse/Jessica B. Konopa. All rights reserved.

Stonewall Kitchen, LLC

Happy Birthday, Angry Chef!

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

Happy Birthday to my dear husband, The Angry Chef, who turns 857 today!

We celebrated this past weekend at our favorite Chinese restaurant—a place I fondly refer to as the Golden Dragon—with a small group of close friends. A huge thank you to all who came.

Here are a few highlights from our evening.

A sweet cocktail with more than a little sting
Oddly enough, I didn’t take a ton of pictures. I did, however, manage to get one or two of the restaurant’s signature scorpion bowl, a potent mix of liquor and luscious tropical fruit juice.

One of my foodie friends, The Mistress of Cakes, recently asked me what a scorpion bowl was. Here’s the one we had this weekend, which gives a sturdy nod to classic American tiki culture:

This particular drink comes in large ceramic bowl and serves 4 people.

The small well in the center of the bowl is usually some type of high-proof liquor, meant to be lit so the drink is brought to the table flaming.

The dear Lady Otter kindly lent a hand to show the drink’s scale.

There are a lot of versions of the drink. If you want to try your hand at it, mixologist Chris Stanley has a handful of mouthwatering recipes posted over on his blog, An Exercise in Hospitality.

A fabulous chocolate layer cake
In keeping with tradition, The Angry Chef’s birthday cake came from Lyndell’s Bakery. It was a two-layer devil’s food cake with creamy white frosting.

A very special guest appearance
Halfway through the evening, D. Bunnyhunter presented The Angry Chef with an Uncle Deadly action figure, who is one of our favorite muppets.

Uncle Deadly was the lovable phantom of the Muppet theater, and first appeared on The Muppet Show alongside Vincent Price in 1977. He very rarely made appearances (being a phantom and all), so it was always a treat to spot him when we were kids. Here he is with Vincent Price:

Copyright 2008 The Hungry Mouse/Jessica B. Konopa. All rights reserved.

Stonewall Kitchen, LLC

Margaret Dorfman’s Vegetable Parchment Art

Monday, November 10th, 2008

I think Margaret Dorfman may just be my new favorite foodie-friendly artist. She makes beautiful jewelry and decorative bowls out of fruits and vegetables.

You heard me right: fruits and vegetables.

These are the prettiest—and most creative—pieces of functional art I’ve seen in a while.

Dorfman slices her produce paper thin, cures it into parchment, then molds it into the gorgeous, luminous bowls you see below. The whole process takes ten days and doesn’t involve any chemicals. A clear coating helps keep the colors vivid.

If you ask me, stained glass couldn’t be more striking.

VivaTerra, an online shop with a lot of great and stylish eco-friendly goods, sells Dorfman’s work. Order a Veggie Parchment Bowl for $42. Choose from Papaya/Beet or Zucchini. Bowls measure 7.5″ x 4.5″.

With winter coming, VivaTerra has the summer fruit bowls on sale for $29.

There’s also the Star Fruit and Daikon Veggie bowl, for $42.

If you’d rather wear your veggies, Uncommon Goods sells Dorfman’s thick Fruit and Vegetable Parchment Cuff Bracelets�in Beet, Starfruit or Zucchini�for $38.

For these bold pieces, the fruit or veggie parchment is fused to a delicate copper band.

For more of Dorfman’s work, check out her section of the Lois Lambert Gallery of Functional Art.

Copyright 2008 The Hungry Mouse/Jessica B. Konopa. All rights reserved.

Stonewall Kitchen, LLC