May 9, 2011 12:46 AM

A New Family

That has been my theme this year. I’m sure last week’s Renegade Editor would even have to agree with that (thanks for the commentary, Kevin!). These last months have flown by and I can’t wait to see what the next few hold in store for us.

Which brings me to something that is hard to write. I took one other hiatus from blogging after I was in that car crash and, sadly, I think that’s what I need to do now, too. Thank you so much for being loyal readers  -- and my fingers are crossed that I’ll be back to write more soon – but for now I need to take a break and spend some time with my new family.

Yesterday was Sarah’s wedding and it was really a wonderful day all around. (Although any family function where I am not stuck in the kitchen the whole time is a wonderful day in my book!) But as Kevin and I danced at the reception we both realized that we haven’t had a lot of time to ourselves lately. When we kissed it felt like we hadn’t kissed in months!

So that’s the reason for taking this blog sabbatical. I hope to be back before you know it sharing my stories and recipes. But until then, I’ll share with you something better than a recipe.  Here’s a photo Kevin took of me, Daniel, Evan and Seth at the wedding. I had to laugh when I saw this photo. It looks like we could be on the cover of “Gay Parents Weekly.” J  

Until next time...



 
May 9, 2011 12:46 AM | Comments ( 16 )
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May 2, 2011 3:35 AM

Featuring...

Hello. This is Kevin. Scotty left this blog post unpublished on his computer so I went through and added a few small tweaks and posted it for him. I even uploaded a picture from my phone that I’m pretty sure he didn’t want everyone to see.  

You’re welcome.  ;)  

What I write will be in BOLD….
 

Being a father is, without a doubt, one of the best things to ever happen to me. Besides marrying Kevin Walker, of course.   

And being a father twice over in such a short time is nothing short of a miracle. But between the restaurant, the husband and the two children, I haven’t found the time to write as much as I’d like. Or kiss my husband as much as he’d like. But that’s another story for another day.  

If I get an inspiration for a recipe I’ll write it down immediately no matter where I am.  

 

Recipes have been scrawled on cocktail napkins, dry cleaning receipts and once, on my hand as I tried to change a diaper. (Gross… and I hope it didn’t inspire the recipe below.)  

I had always sort of imagined this blog turning into a cookbook: “From Scotty’s Kitchen” or “Café 429 Classics.” (But you can’t leave Saul out! Let’s write a Saul cookbook!! We can call it “Saul and Oats.”)    

So many dreams have come true: I’ve met the man of my dreams (he wrote that himself! Awww! How sweet!), have two beautiful kids and a restaurant of my own. Is it too much to ask the universe to give me a book deal too?  (Yes, probably, but dream away, babe. I know you hate this picture, but I like it. We can use it for the book jacket cover.)  

 

Well I can always dream…  (Here comes an awkward transition. Not your best work, Scotty) And if you want to taste something dreamy, come by Café 429 and enjoy a warm and frothy mug of Mexican Hot Chocolate. It’ll make you quickly forget that instant hot cocoa.  

MEXICAN HOT CHOCOLATE
Per Serving  

INGREDIENTS
-          ½ disc of Mexican chocolate*
-          1 cup milk
 

If Mexican chocolate is unavailable, substitute 1 ½ squares (1 ½ ounces) semi-sweet baking chocolate and ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon.  

Cut the chocolate into wedges along the indentations. Place them and the milk in a deep saucepan. Heat over low heat until the chocolate is softened and the milk is steaming. Whisk (or blend with an immersion blender) until the chocolate is completely dissolved and the liquid is frothy. Pour into a mug and serve immediately.

 
May 2, 2011 3:35 AM | Comments ( 8 )
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Apr 25, 2011 3:05 AM

Tea Time!

I know that I wrote a post a few years ago about my culinary obsession of the week, bite-sized food. Forgive any light re-tread this week because – I guess I just have babies on the brain – but I wanted to share some recipes for the tiny finger sandwiches you’d get with an afternoon tea service.

We don’t do afternoon tea at Café 429. Well it’s not on the menu, anyway. Lately Saul and Jonathan have been catching up over tea in the early afternoon in that wonderful time after the lunch rush but before we open for dinner.  Today while I started prepping the dinner service, I couldn’t help but watch them and remember those sweet moments when Kevin and I first started dating.   



Watching Saul coach Jonathan on the finer points of teacup etiquette was incredibly sweet. Sort of like watching two teenagers on a date. (And just so there’s no confusion: tea cups with a handle are held by placing your fingers to the front and back of the handle with your pinkie up for balance… oh and “pinkie up” means slightly tilted, not straight up.)  

To complete their afternoon tea I raided the fridge and threw together some finger sandwiches for them. Saul was quick to point out that afternoon tea also consists of scones with jam and clotted cream as well as a series of cookies, shortbreads and other sweets. Just as quickly I reminded him that he was more than welcome to go ahead and make as many scones as he wanted in the kitchen. ;)  

If you’d like to have your own afternoon tea service try these simple sandwiches washed down with your favorite tea. Sipped with your pinkie up, of course.  

  FINGER SANDWICHES
** Choose a good quality, thinly sliced packaged bread. Some manufacturers make white and wheat “very thin” loaves that are perfect for these.  

Cucumber-Dill Butter
Makes 16 finger sandwiches  

INGREDIENTS
-          36 dime-thin slices hothouse or small Kirby cucumbers, or as needed
-          Salt
-          3 tablespoons, unsalted butter, at room temperature
-          1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
-          8 slices bread    

1)     Spread the cucumber slices out in a single layer on a sheet of paper towel. Sprinkle lightly with salt and let stand.

2)     Beat the butter and dill together in a small bowl. Spread the butter onto one side of 8 slices of bread. There will be enough butter to coat each slice very lightly.

3)     Arrange the cucumber slices overlapping very slightly over 4 of the bread slices. Top with the remaining bread, pressing each gently. Cut off the crusts and cut each sandwich into 4 squares or triangles.  

Smoked Salmon-Caper
Makes 16 finger sandwiches  

INGREDIENTS
-          3 tablespoons mayonnaise
-          1 tablespoon drained tiny (nonpareil) capers, finely chopped
-          Few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
-          8 slices of bread
-          4 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon

  1)     Stir the mayonnaise and capers together in a small bowl. Season to taste with pepper. Spread the mayo onto one side of the 8 slices of bread. There will be enough mayo to coat each slice lightly.

2)     Arrange the smoked salmon slices to cover 4 of the bread slices in a more or less even layer. Top with the remaining bread, pressing each gently. Cut off the crusts and cut each sandwich into 4 squares or triangles.
 
Apr 25, 2011 3:05 AM | Comments ( 6 )
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Apr 18, 2011 4:35 AM

A shock to the system

There are good surprises.

There are bad surprises.

Then there are earth-shattering surprises.



And this week Kevin and I had a surprise that falls into that latter category. Marrying into the Walker family has always meant expecting the unexpected, but Kevin and I have been walking around with our mouths open all day. I can’t really write more about it now… but you can expect to hear more in the future, for sure.

 I had planned to feature a recipe for pineapple-peach smoothie this week on the blog. This was a drink that Saul came up with last summer and it sold like crazy. “So as the weather starts to warm up, make a big pitcher of these and enjoy them with your favorite fruity person.

I think Kevin and I are going to enjoy them tonight.

Oh as a side note on the photo. I asked Kevin to take a picture of me with a Pineapple-Peach Smoothie and he came across this old picture on his phone. Since I’ve been making this face all week, we thought it would be an appropriate choice for this week!

PINEAPPLE-PEACH SMOOTHIE
Makes 1 Large Drink

INGREDIENTS
3/4-cup pineapple juice or juice reserved from crushed pineapple
1 1/2-cups frozen sliced peaches
1/2-cup vanilla or plain soy milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (if using plain soy milk)

Blend the pineapple juice and peaches at low speed until the peaches are finely chopped. Increase the speed to high and, with the motor running, pour the soy milk (and vanilla if using) into the blender. Blend until smooth and frothy. Pour into a cold glass and drink right away.  
 
Apr 18, 2011 4:35 AM | Comments ( 2 )
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Apr 11, 2011 4:34 AM

Crostini

A lot has happened since I’ve last written a blog entry so I wanted to apologize for taking the time off. I promise that at least for the next few weeks I will make it a point to carve out the time to share my recipes with you.

This week my mom came to visit and I think we both really surprised each other. Our relationship has been… well… strained, but I think that we both came to understand and appreciate each other a lot more by the end of her time here. I was proud that she got to see Café 429 and finally taste the food there… and I was also glad she isn’t a food critic. J  Let’s just say she no longer refers to the place as a “nightclub” and, to me, that’s progress.

 

I really tried to wow her with some of my favorite dishes on the menu, but the simplest things are sometimes the things you remember most. And when I asked her if I could show her a recipe she asked me to show her how to make the crostini. At first I was offended – that’s like asking for the recipe for a garnish!  BUT then I came to realize… we use the crostini on everything: we float them on soups, crumble them in salads, serve them with our cheese platter. So maybe asking for THAT recipe is the ultimate compliment. 

My mom and I still have a long way to go in rebuilding our relationship, but as she snapped a picture of me in the kitchen I couldn’t help but be grateful we’re working on it. You only get one set of parents.

PERFECT CROSTINI
Makes about 24 crostini

INGREDIENTS Post
-          1 small thin, firm French loaf
-          Olive Oil1 peeled garlic clove, cut in half (optional)

Set a rack in the center position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut the bread crosswise into ½-inch slices. Bruch both sides of the bread lightly with olive oil, placing them on a baking sheet as you go. If you like, rub each slice with the cut side of the garlic as well. Bake 7 minutes. Turn and bake until very crisp and lightly browned on both sides, about 10 minutes. Serve warm or cool. Crostini can be stored at room temperature in a tightly sealed container for up to 2 days.
 
Apr 11, 2011 4:34 AM | Comments ( 4 )
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Mar 7, 2011 3:03 AM

Easy as Pie

Anyone who says “Easy as Pie” has never made a pie from scratch.  

But like I’ve said all along slow food is good food and I’m sure that frozen pies are delicious, but I’ll take one baked with love by a real woman named Mrs. Smith any day of the week.  Maybe the phrase “easy as pie” came about because pie is so easy to eat….  



But I know that making pies can be time consuming. If you make an apple pie, for example, I know what it’s like to face a huge pile of apples looking to be peeled and sliced.  

And some friends (you know who you are Justin Walker!) have criticized my blog for featuring recipes that are too complicated. So, for Justin (and anyone else like him) here is a recipe that you can make – well perhaps “assemble” is a better word – using things you can easily buy in a grocery store. Of course I encourage you to make everything from scratch, but if you can’t do that feel free to just go to the store, buy these five simple ingredients and throw together a dessert that will dazzle.  Even better? It’s a simple recipe that you can even get the kids involved with…  Maybe I‘ll make this with Olivia?  

(Since I am really from Mississippi – and no doubt have friends there who read this blog – my apologies in advance for bastardizing a recipe so beloved in my home state…)  

EASY MISSISSIPPI MUD PIE  

Ingredients
·         1 store-bought chocolate pie crust
·         1 quart coffee ice cream, softened
·         1 tub whipped cream
·         1 package slivered/sliced almonds
·         1 can chocolate syrup  

Instructions
1.      Put softened ice cream into piecrust and smooth.
2.      Pour chocolate syrup over smoothed ice cream until the top is covered with a layer of the syrup (you will not need the whole can).
3.      Place in freezer until set (approx. 20 min.).
4.      Spread on whipped cream (enough to cover pie).
5.      Drizzle with chocolate syrup, and sprinkle with almonds. Return to freezer to set for about 1 hour.  
 
Mar 7, 2011 3:03 AM | Comments ( 6 )
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Feb 21, 2011 2:02 AM

Bananas!

This week I thought we’d look at the phrase “going bananas” or “drive me bananas” as in: “Sometimes Kevin Walker can drive me bananas.”  It’s funny because we all know what it means, but I did a bunch of research and cannot find where the expression came from. Most of the research suggests that the word popped up in 1960s, which I thought was surprising recent. But still, why do you think it was bananas and not any other fruit?  I guess: “going honeydew” doesn’t really have much of a ring to it.

But bananas stand out as the most popular fruit in the US, which is surprising when you consider very few bananas are actually grown here. In fact the US isn’t even in the top ten banana producing countries.  (India produces the most bananas in the world.)



So today I’m going to share with you my favorite banana pudding recipe. Now this one calls for ripe bananas because as the fruit ripens the starch turns to sugar and so the riper the banana, the sweeter the taste. But when you make this recipe be sure to throw away the peel. The last thing you want to do is slip on a banana peel – and that does happen believe it or not!  

Enjoy going bananas with this tasty treat!  

YUMMY BANANA PUDDING

Ingredients

·  3 cups heavy cream
·  1 box (12-oz) Nabisco Nilla Wafers
·  4 cups sliced ripe bananas
·  1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
·  1 1/2 cups ice cold water
·  1 package (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding mix

1. ) Beat the sweetened condensed milk and water together until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the pudding mix and beat for about 2 more minutes. Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight. (*This step is important for making the pudding set)

2. )  Whip the heavy cream with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the pudding mixture into the now-whipped cream until well blended. You shouldn’t see any more pudding left.

3. )  Now on to assembly! Get a large, wide, glass bowl (one that holds about 5-quarts). Arrange one-third of the wafers to cover the bottom of the bowl, overlapping if necessary, then one-third of the bananas and one-third of the pudding.

4.)  It’s like lasagna! Just repeat the layering twice more, garnishing with additional wafers, wafer crumbs and/or banana slices on top.

5.) Cover with plastic wrap and allow to chill in the refrigerator for 4-8 hours (but not longer) before serving.
 
 
Feb 21, 2011 2:02 AM | Comments ( 5 )
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Feb 14, 2011 12:30 AM

An Apple a day...

I thought it would be fun for the next couple of weeks to take a food-related expression and blog about it. So let’s start things off with one we all grew up with:

An Apple A Day Keeps the Doctor Away



Now I don’t know how true this is literally, but I think everyone can agree that apples are not only tasty, but good for you (especially if you eat the skin where all the fiber is!). My mom used to have an expression to steer me away from unhealthy snacks: “If you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, you’re not hungry!”  

At about 15 calories an ounce and loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber, an apple is a convenient and portable snack.  Looking for ways to sneak more apples into your life? Try some of these tips:  

 

  • Using an apple slicer is an easy way to simultaneously core an apple and cut it into 8 equal slices.  Maybe it’s just me but I am more likely to eat an apple that is sliced than an apple that is whole!

  • To keep sliced apples from turning brown, toss them with some lemon juice. If that is too tart, you can substitute orange juice or even a lemon-lime soda (i.e. Sprite of 7-UP).

  • Apples pair well with cheese for a simple snack. Try string cheese for the kids and something more refined for yourself. A sliced Honeycrisp apple, some cubed cheddar and a handful of walnuts or almonds? A great snack! (Keep the portion of cheese and nuts small to limit the calories…)

  • Chopped tart apples like Granny Smiths can be put into things like chicken salad, egg salad or other mayonnaise or mustard based “salads.”

  • Make a large batch of homemade applesauce easily in a crock pot. Just chop apples (skin and all!) into bite-size pieces and cook in a crock pot for 3-4 hours. About 30 minutes before you finish, add ½ tablespoon of light brown sugar for every apple used. Stir and continue cooking.

  • When done, mash it with a fork or throw it in a food processor. You can even freeze any extra in ziplock bags until it’s ready to be eaten.
 
Feb 14, 2011 12:30 AM | Comments ( 6 )
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Jan 17, 2011 1:54 AM

Homemade Mac & Cheese

It can be hard to eat healthy foods all the time, especially for parents with kids who want sugary snacks…. BUT you can do yourself (and your kids!) a favor by taking the time to make homemade versions of their favorite foods.  

Have you ever looked at the ingredient labels on store-bought Macaroni and Cheese?  Well, the cheese usually starts out as a powder, which even just sounds wrong .  But depending on the brand, you’re likely to see a whole bunch of things in it you can’t even pronounce. Sodium tripolyphosphate?  Of course, even the ingredients you can pronounce are things that you can’t buy in the grocery store. (FD&C Yellow 5 anyone?)  


None of that is the kind of thing I’d want to put in my kids’s belly. My Mac and Cheese, although not the lightest in the world, at least has ingredients that your grandmother would recognize. So give it a whirl and tell me which you like better.  

No matter which kind you prefer make sure that you have a big pile of veggies or a salad with a smaller serving of the mac and cheese to keep your meal as balanced as possible.

I’ve featured this recipe before on the blog before, but I just made it again this week and Kevin and I have been busy painting and decorating our spare room  (girls like yellow, right??) so you’ll have to forgive the recipe recycling.

Scotty's Mac and Cheese

Ingredients
1 Box Large Pasta Shells (use whole wheat pasta for extra fiber and protein)
¼ cup butter for sauce and ¼ for top of casserole
¼ cup flour
2 cups whole milk
Salt, pepper, garlic salt, onion salt to taste
Splash Worcheshire sauce
1 8oz bar of sharp cheddar cheese cubed
1 8oz bar of extra sharp cheddar cheese cubed
2 cups Italian style bread crumbs


1.) Cook pasta as directed by box and set to the side
2.) In a medium saucepan melt butter mixing together with flour over medium heat.
3.) Gradually add milk while stirring. The sauce should get think.
4.) Add salt, pepper, onion and garlic to taste.
5.) Add Worcheshire sauce.
6.) Add sharp cheeses while stirring continuously.
7.) After all the cheese melts combine with pasta and pour into casserole dish.
8.) Sprinkle bread crumbs on top and dob butter on top.
9.) Cover and bake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until bubbling.
10.) You can take the cover off for the last 5 minutes if you want it crispy on top.
11.) Cool and serve.
 
Jan 17, 2011 1:54 AM | Comments ( 10 )
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Jan 10, 2011 2:31 AM

Smiley Faces

When I was a kid I would sometimes “babysit” for the kids in my neighborhood.  I put that in quotes because now, looking back, it seems kind of crazy that I was left in charge of kids that weren’t that much younger than me.  OK I am probably exaggerating a little bit, but to me “babysitting” generally translated into “getting paid to watch Jeopardy!” Of course there was the one time the family dog jumped on the table and ate the two large pizzas the parents had left for us to eat, but things weren’t usually that exciting. (And since the pizza looked like cardboard, I think that dog did us a favor anyway…)  

Being a young chef, I also used to occupy the kids I “babysat” (there are those quotes again!) with a recipe I called Babysitting cookies.  Now I’m not comparing Kevin to a child, but he does love these cookies even today.   So read into that what you will! ;)  I have a private chuckle whenever he asks me to them (although he calls then “Smiley Face Cookies”).

As I write this now and think about the reality of finally becoming a Dad I’m struck by how much my life has changed since my babysitting days. Back then I would watch a kid for a few hours, feed them a bunch of sugar and then leave them with their parents and get paid for it all! I’m starting to think being a dad is going to be very, very different…

Well, at least I have these cookies.

BABYSITTING COOKIES (aka “Smiley Face Cookies”)
Makes 20 cookies

INGREDIENTS
-          1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
-          ¾ teaspoon baking powder
-          8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
-          ¾ cup sugar, plus more for tops of the cookies
-          1 egg
-          1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
-          ¾ cup smooth or chunky peanut butter
-          About ½ cup chocolate chips

1.)     Set a rack in the center position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.

2.)     Stir the flour and baking powder together in a small bowl and set aside. Beat the butter and ¾ cup sugar together in a medium bowl with a handheld mixer at high speed until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Add the peanut butter and beat until smooth. Stir in the dry ingredients just until no streaks of white remain.

3.)     Using 2 tablespoons of the batter, form a ball and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Press with the bottom of a glass to form a 2 1/2 –inch circle. Repeat with the remaining dough, using two baking sheets if necessary. Make smiley faces using 1 chip for each eye and 4 chips for the smile, pressing the chips, point-side down, into the dough. Sprinkle sugar liberally over the tops. Bake until the edges are lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Remove and cool completely before serving. The cookies can be served in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
 
Jan 10, 2011 2:31 AM | Comments ( 5 )
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