Tag Archives | The Boyfriend

Some Days Are More Difficult Than Others (A Boyfriend Post)

It’s a difficult thing to watch when someone you love is being having a rough time. And there can be a feeling of helplessness knowing there is not much you can do about it. On this specific Friday, however, I took it upon myself to do what I could within my power to make sure this difficult day didn’t get any worse than it already was–I arrived home after work on that Friday with a bag full of culinary delights and flowers.

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In the grocery bag were a few of her favorite things: there was cheesecake, there was lemon ice cream and the ingredients for a delicious home cooked meal too. Chicken, lemons, cream, butter, potatoes and cheese–there are just a few of her favorite things. Do you see a theme here? We got cooking and had gnocchi and chicken with a lemon cream sauce! Oh and a “Kelly Riley Salad” made of iceberg lettuce, red bell peppers and cucumber with a light, homemade vinaigrette. It turned out to be a wonderful evening. We hung-out in our kitchen, worked together to create a meal and for a few brief hours Kelly forgot her woes.

Just because you get some release doesn’t mean the difficult things in life go away. That’s how things work, though, and we all learn to work through every day in our own way. As you can see, our household focuses on food–and here we come to the following night’s meal and the recipe of this post: Pasta with Chestnuts, Pancetta and Sage via Epicurious.

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We happened–don’t shun us because this might sound pretentious–to have a jar of chestnuts in the pantry and pancetta in the freezer. Though we didn’t have the called-for tagliatelle, we did have some angle hair pasta on hand. So, Saturday being Saturday, we opened a bottle of wine and began that evening’s work. Mise-en-place is common phrase at our place. While Kelly watched, talked and listened we had Girl Talk on in the background and the preparations began.

The recipe called for ‘crumbling’ the chestnuts. When you see a jar of nuts, you don’t usually associate that word with the limitations of what you can do with the ingredient. The things crumbled with ease however, since they are already roasted and ready to go. Very convenient!

From there it was easy–chop, dice, grate and you’re ready.

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Then you saute, boil, toss and it’s done!

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Some days are more difficult than others.

Posted by on April 17, 2011 in Food

Love = Laminated Dough

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Traditions are important–birthday traditions even more so. In my house the very best birthday tradition is that you get to eat whatever you want. I can’t remember the last time I celebrated my birthday with a traditional frosted cake.  Infancy, perhaps. For me? Cheesecake all the way. I’m a loyalist, too, so it’s cheesecake every single year. Sometimes I’ll switch the flavor up a bit–plain cheesecake, raspberry swirl, salted caramel, whatever strikes my fancy.

My birthday isn’t until July, though, so cheesecake will have to wait. (Sorry. Didn’t mean to get your hopes up, there).

David’s birthday was in March, though, and he definitely knew what he wanted:

Croissants. I love croissants. I love the girl who bakes croissants. And she must love me–otherwise, why would she make them for me? They were damn good.

One of our annual traditions is making a food item for one another on their birthday. I think the initiation of the tradition happened when I made fresh Cod with sun-dried tomato tartar sauce (at the end of the night I found out Kelly doesn’t like sun-dried tomatoes…or tartar sauce) and fresh fava and jalapeno salad (she doesn’t like beans either). She enjoyed the meal and in subsequent years began baking for me on my birthday. She’s an excellent baker.

Kelly had previously mentioned (numerous times) that she had always wanted to make croissants. So why not provide an opportunity?

This year, when she asked what I wanted I immediately replied “marzipan croissants”. Hell yeah. When I lived in Germany, I used to go to this bakery for breakfast whenever I had class in the schloss. I used to get two things: a warm marzipan croissant and a warm ham and cheese croissant.  So damn good. The only issue: what’s marzipan? Well, in Germany it’s almond paste. An almond paste that by law (yes, by law, much like the Reinheitsgebot) is two parts ground almond to one part sugar, only additional flavoring allowed being rosewater. Apparently here, Kelly discovered, marzipan is a type of almond dough. More for baking independently or as part of cake, than stuffing pastry. After some additional research on both sides, we agreed that Kelly would make an almond paste then.

As such we spent the better part of my birthday proper sitting around the house, relaxing and every few hours beating butter or folding and rolling dough with butter. It was a fun, long process. But worthwhile. The almond paste was spectacular by itself. Baked into homemade croissant: amazing.

So. Croissants. From scratch. What had I gotten myself into?

Croissants are a lengthy ordeal centered on something terrifying called “laminated dough.” Essentially, that means that you make a dough and layer it with butter about a thousand times. When you put the croissants in the oven the butter melts, leaving flaky pockets behind. Mmmm.

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I’d never made a laminated dough before, and they’re rumored to be pretty high maintenance. Keep the butter and your work surfaces cold! Work fast and roll out accurately! Don’t panic!

Luckily there’s a built-in step in the croissant-making process to help you get out all your fear and anxiety. Beating the butter!

  1. This is the first video I ever took with my phone, and it shows. Apparently it doesn’t reorient itself the way the regular camera does?
  2. “Pasturized” butter. Obviously, the butter is pasturized! What I meant to say is that the butter was made using milk from pasture-fed cows. David thinks this mix-up is hilarious.
  3. Unintentional cleavage shot. Sorry!

After that, things just seemed to fall into place…

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The verdict?

The very best part is that David had the brilliant idea to freeze the shaped croissants before the rise. That means we have a whole stockpile of croissants in our freezer and we can just take them out, thaw, rise, and bake ’em, and have fresh, homemade croissants on a whim! As a matter of fact, we had some for breakfast this morning. DELICIOUS.

Happy, happy birthday, my love! Hope your croissants are everything you wished for! I am so excited and also terrified to see what you’ll request next year…

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I have to say that making these was a blast. Time-consuming? Yes, but not nearly as scary as I thought they’d be. Rather than try to detail the process here, I’m going to redirect you to Julie’s excellent tutorials at Willow Bird Baking.

I’ve been reading her blog for over a year. She issued a croissant challenge to all of her readers, and without  her encouragement and painstaking instructions and photo tutorials, I wouldn’t have known where to begin. If you want to make croissants look through all of her amazing suggestions and success stories and get in the kitchen:

http://willowbirdbaking.wordpress.com/2010/07/03/secret-garden-recipe-homemade-buttery-croissants-and-pains-au-chocolat/
http://willowbirdbaking.wordpress.com/2010/10/09/homemade-croissant-phototutorial/
http://willowbirdbaking.wordpress.com/2010/07/21/croissant-masters/
http://willowbirdbaking.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/croissant-masters-round-2/
http://willowbirdbaking.wordpress.com/2010/09/13/croissant-masters-round-3/

I made my own almond paste using this recipe:
http://www.mysisterskitchenonline.com/2008/12/10/you-mean-i-can-make-my-own-almond-paste/

And then used that to make almond pastry cream:
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Twice-Baked-Almond-Croissants-103999

(I also used the orange vanilla simple syrup in that recipe to glaze the croissants before baking so the almond slices would stick to the top).

Posted by on April 7, 2011 in Food

Farmers Market Fail, A Boyfriend Post

Note: Another post by David, who is keeping this little blog going while I’m busy with other things. I’ll post again soon, truly. Not sure yet whether it’ll be a narrative, or a recipe, but I’m getting back on the blogging wagon, I promise.

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By now everyone who reads this blog knows how obsessed we’ve become with the farmers market this summer and with food in general since the move to Minnesota. It should come as no surprise to anyone that we made an early morning trek to the St. Paul Farmers Market a couple of weekends ago. The only problem–this trip didn’t go so well.

First, we broke our only rule. We went after 8am. That is a no no. I’m no good with crowds, especially meandering, slow crowds. If we get to the market early enough, there aren’t too many people. We can simply make our way around the market (which is a great market by the way) and then loop through again to hit all of the stands we want for the things we’ve decided to purchase. If we get there too late, we run into the f***ing crowds. They are slow. They get in my way. They are slow, and they get in my way. It’s no good going to a farmers market after 8am. And this week, we went after eight.

Second, in my mind, it wasn’t me for once. Obviously it is mostly me that hates crowds. Riley can calmly manage them and still enjoy a leisurely walk around the market and shop. This guy can’t do that. But I put my game face on this week and, while a little cranky at the horrible driving surrounding the market, I believed myself calm, cool and collected throughout. In anticipation of my usual crowd anger, however, it was Riley that was a little off kilter. [David is being very generous here. I was a total shrew.] As we made our way around looking for various goodies I could tell something wasn’t quite right. She was stressed out because of the anticipation of my anger. So, we rushed through and got what we needed.

Third, I’ve been on a potato craze. It’s spring/early summer and that means new potatoes! And, apparently, that means I get to try as many new potato salad recipes as possible. Again, obviously, Riley has been getting a little tired of all the potato salads. I make massive amounts of each recipe whether or not they are good. Then I expect that we eat it all for lunch over the ensuing week. Big mistake; she usually has a couple of helpings while I polish off the other two pounds. [I mean, it’s good and all, but how much potato salad can one person possibly eat?!] Inevitably I bought about four pounds this past weekend.

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Fourth, the potatoes were rotten. It turns out Riley was finally in the mood for potatoes–she was going to try a new recipe for crispy baked potatoes. She woke up Sunday excited to make a brunch of eggs, bacon and crispy potatoes! As I read the paper she went to prep everything, but then soon enough came back into the room…

“We’ve got a problem. The potatoes are wet.”

“What?”

“The potatoes are wet and they smell funny. And some of them are squishy.”

“Well, pick the bad ones out!”

We walked over together, to take a look. I started picking potatoes out. Some were still solid, but did smell funny. Others literally exploded when you squeezed. After some typically stubborn picking through on my part, in an effort to salvage the lot, I started to gag. They smelled that bad. [They really, really did.] Riley intelligently and calmly called the whole thing off. No potatoes for brunch. No potato salad for the week.

Farmers Market Fail.

[Thankfully, such a wretched experience is a rare occurance. Most of our Farmers Market trips are wonderful and end in some seriously delicious dishes!]

Posted by on July 23, 2010 in Food

It’s Finally Summer (a Boyfriend post)

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From February through June, for the most part, my life revolves around baseball. By association so does Riley’s. She likes the Red Sox and all, but comes nowhere close to my level of fandom. My excitement kicks in as spring training starts and by the time the regular season opens I can become downright obsessed. I watch every game available, whether or not it’s the Twins. Back when I lived away from Minnesota I would purchase mlb.tv so I could watch every Twins game, but would also watch the local game at the same time, if it was on. Once Riley and I were even at a Mets game in Queens, while I was watching the Twins live on my iPhone at the same time. I repeatedly check all the sports sites for updates throughout the day, follow several Twins-centric blogs and have been known to watch Baseball: a film by Ken Burns when I can’t get enough. Yeah, all ten dvds worth.

Field of Dreams makes me cry. Yes, that’s the one with the talking corn field and Kevin Costner.

It must have been a long spring for Kelly. When you throw in the fact that this is the opening season of Target Field–the new home of the Twins–and the fact that I am living in Minnesota for the first time in almost ten years, you could say I became a little over obsessed this time around. We’ve watched a lot of baseball and gone to quite a few games. It’s been great. But expensive. And it is starting to wear on us, a little.

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That’s why I’m surprised by a recent turn of events. For as much of a fan as I am I don’t play baseball and rarely get a chance to play catch. In fact, I haven’t had a glove for years. So, when I get the chance, I usually jump at it. Such was the circumstance the other day–after dinner at my uncle’s he and I were tossing the ball around when Riley grabbed an extra glove and joined in. Now I’ve got to say that this was a little unexpected. I can’t recall having Riley show interest in this before. Every once in a while we’ll throw a Frisbee around, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen her throw a ball. That’s why I was a little surprised when, after she made a nice little grab, she threw a solid strike right into my mitt from at least 70 feet. My glove even made that nice popping sound.

What a pleasant surprise.

Three of played for quite a while, with my aunt joining in even. Just about every single ball Riley threw hit the target. She has an arm ladies and gentlemen! (Would now be an appropriate time to thank you Jack?) We had a lot of fun that evening and we even got to play catch again the very next day while visiting my Mom. On the way home we tossed around the idea of buying gloves and making it a regular thing. And, the next week, we did! We’re each the proud new owners of mitts. We even did the whole oil them up, place a ball inside and wait thirty six hours thing to break them in. We haven’t had the chance to play catch at home yet though–we’ve had plenty of rain and spring like cool whether lately in Minnesota. But as I sit here writing this post it is at least 85 degrees with about 85 percent humidity. The sun is still out too, so maybe we’ll go play.

It’s finally summer!

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Posted by on June 26, 2010 in Personal

"monday, tuesday, thursday, wednesday, friday, sunday, saturday!"

Hello! Both Kelly and David (aka “The Boyfriend”) here to share with you drool-worthy pictures of our latest culinary adventures from Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday (hence the title. Familiar quote, anyone?).

SUNDAY

The Meal: chicken in a sherry mushroom sauce with garlic mashed potatoes and pan-fried asparagus.
The Chef: David

The Ingredients:

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The Plate:

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The Result:

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MONDAY

After the hay ride Aunt Katie let us take a few of the leftover pumpkins to dispose of as we chose. Naturally we chose to roast the seeds (David) and make pumpkin puree (Kelly)! (Hey, Kelly promised to try her Pumpkin Apple Spice muffins with homemade puree sometimes, didn’t she?)

The Ingredients:

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The Result:

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But there was still dinner to consider…

[car ride home after running errands]

David: (oh-so casually) So…do you want to be in charge of dinner tonight?
Kelly: (immediately) No.
David: …
Kelly: (reluctantly) I mean, I guess I can… If I have to…
David: (immediately) Good. Cause I don’t want to.
Kelly: But… whadda we got? (A rare reversal of roles!!!)

The Meal: Asparagus mushroom quiche with cheddar and green onions, in a potato crust.
The Chef: Kelly

The Ingredients:

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The Plate:

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TUESDAY

The Meal: Slow-cooked porkchops, carrots, sauerkraut, and apples with homemade applesauce (and a side of leftover cheesy garlic mashed potatoes. Because they are that delicious).
The Chef: David
The Sous-Chef: Kelly (she made the applesauce)

Pre-plated:

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The Plate:

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The Result:

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(Kelly’s plate is in the upper left. Unfortunately she discovered that sauerkraut wasn’t her “thing.” Otherwise, another hit!)

In keeping with the jumbled quote serving as the title for tonight’s post, here’s a photo from last Friday. We attended a dinner party at a relative’s house, and Kelly befriended an otherwise stranger-hating cat, Quimby, while battling the last of her week-long cold.

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Note: Recipes are of course available on request.

Posted by on October 28, 2009 in Food