Who says I don’t cook?

mark peel and daphne brogdon cook

we had fun and worked off each other well

A few weeks back Mark and I were guest on Hallmark Channel’s “Home and Family”.  It’s a great domestic oriented morning show.  No trash stories, helpful and fun.  Wish it was on my cable carrier.  Anyway,  We did a Chicken Thigh Throwdown. Everyone thinks Mark is nightly making me great meals. My standard line was, “sure, if I went into his restaurant.” But, at home I do most of the cooking and since we don’t have any restaurants anymore and my work has been…meek.. the last couple of years I’ve been cooking more than ever.

Mark getting his mic...I hope

Mark getting his mic…I hope

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 The idea was Mark would do the “restaurant” or fancy version of chicken thighs and I would do the easy, your family will eat version.

mark peel and daphne brogdon cookAs someone who made her living for years as a TV host I really appreciate a good host.  Christina Ferrare and Mark Steines are great and improvising and brought out the best in us.  It was the first time Mark and I have cooked together out of our home and it was a lot of fun.  In case you want to try either dish, here are the recipes.  Enjoy. http://www.hallmarkchannel.com/homeandfamily/recipe/markpeeldaphnebrogdonchickenthighthrowdown

This is why you should cook for people

So few people cook that if you do they will think you are a rock star.

They will talk about how good your cooking is.

Especially if it’s a pot luck.

Rex’s school said they were doing a community night. Now, none of us parents really understood what that was.  I had been cajoling the room parent ( a dad, thankfully who gets acerbic humor) that we needed  a wine night for the parents to bond.  I’ve been down this road and after pre school the parents aren’t as much fun.  Let’s hang out while we still like each other.  But, this community night threw off our planned wine-o night.  Well, that’s okay, I’m sure it’s a chance for them to tell us how genius our kids are when they finger paint or some profound reflection about blocks.  Don’t we all want to hear that stuff? So we all trekked into the teeny, tiny classroom per instructed and brought something to eat or drink, per instructions.  I made a savory tart.

However, it was really a wine-o night in a teeny, tiny preschool room with teeny tiny seats.  One of the teachers was there, but there was no slide show about development or where they were going to go to college.  The parents are a great bunch and we did all enjoy the gab, but it would have BETTER to have been in full sized chairs. Also, there were only a few bottles of red wine brought ( my kingdom for a dry white) and when one latecomer brought in a  bottle after all the others had been drained, the opener had vanished.  I snuck into another group of captive parents to grab theirs. 

I hurt for them.  They were in the teeny tiny chairs IN A CIRCLE. No chance for sex jokes in that set up. They looked glum.  I ran back to my room.  ”Ha, ha, the Dolphin room ( names changed to protect the innocent) is in a circle”

“suckers”  jeered one dad. As I tore into the last remaining bottle.  Back off I yelled, in my head, it’s all for me!

So, the other issue is the FOOD.  One other mom made meatballs, good choice.  There was a cheese plate on a dish that wasn’t level, so when you went to the cut the cheese (no fart joke intended) it kept flopping over.  There was a couple of other things in PACKAGES.  In some cases, not out of their packages. How appetizing. No one touched them.

I made an inadequate savory tart.  Ricotta cheese, some spices, carmelized onions on puff pastry.  I had high hopes for it, but it was a bit on the dry side.  I have done better in the past.  But, people like it, because so few people cook.  People don’t even know what home made food looks like anymore.

I could get evangelical, but instead I’m going back to the drawing board for my savory tart.

The morale of the story is: cook for people, they appreciate it and drinking is more fun in an area where your kids don’t nap.

Better start cooking: crispy eggs

Since Campanile is closing at the end of the month I’m going to have to step up my game.  Granted, Chef Peel will be home more so I might get some home cooked meals, but I am usually the cooker or at least the Executive Chef.  So, While I’m running to feast at my husband’s fantastic restaurant for dinner as much as I can I thought I’d start on breakfast.  When Vivien was little we went out to breakfast a lot, but Rex doesn’t have her ability to sit still so I’ve been working on creative breakfast for longer. This recipe came about the other weekend after I had made bacon for Rex. I cooked this in bacon fat with a small pat of butter for flavor.

1 corn tortilla, 2 eggs, ( you could use olive oil instead of bacon fat), butter, salt and pepper, boring taco cheese. When I do it again I will also add a little diced onion in the saute.

Cut up the tortilla in small strips. Put in iron pan with olive oil, don’t be stingy

I’m trying to make a crust.  Cook till you see it brown on the edges, about 5 min.

crack in two eggs and pierce the yolks to spread around.

throw on the pre grated taco cheese.  Could I use better cheese? yeah, but I always have this stuff on hand because the kids like it on their tacos and I’m in a hurry and don’t want to chop or grate anything in the morning.

then, flip it over

There it is.  It looks like fried potatoes.   I meant to eat half and give the other half to Mark, but I inhaled the whole thing.  I was full till 3pm!

 

I need a better name then “crispy eggs”.  Any ideas?

Stealing ingredients

Ah, to be in Europe walking along cobblestone streets eating fresh bread and Gouda.  That crash back to reality has set in.  Going through a home improvement store, praying someone helps me find the box that goes with the toilet while I yell at my kids to stop climbing on the shelves, more driving than walking, asphalt streets with pot holes.

Part of normal ife is cooking at home.  At least if I’m back to making dinners at home again I know who to steal from.  When you travel you don’t know.

I present roast chicken ala theft.  How do you do your chicken?

 

Brussel Sprout breakfast

I’m a Brussel Sprout fanatic.  Side dish with dinner, a lunch salad with smoked trout.  Now, it’s even part of my favorite breakfast.

What you need for this:

2 eggs

Brussel Sprouts – 2 chopped lengthwise

onion- 2 tablespoon, small diced

cooked bacon – 1 slice into lardons

dried oregeno- pinch

salt and pepper

Half and half- just a splash

Cook the bacon till crisp, chewy, set asidein the bacon fat saute the onions and  Brussel Sprouts.  Takes a little longer than my usual left over from dinner broccoli, but if I have made lunches the night before I have time.  both should get softer and carmelize.  Add Salt , tiny bit.

Reduce heat and crack the two eggs right in there. Add a pinch of dried Oregano. Get your fork and start swirling.  Most people over cook eggs.  When almost done, just soft add a tablespoon of half and half.  Turn off the fire, put the bacon back in and fork it up in the ( hopefully) iron pan.  Quickly plate, little freshly ground pepper at the end.

Rex likes to climb up on the counter and “help” which is tough when I’ve moved the hot pan portion of cooking, but I make things up or he has a fit.

Like most of my creations, it may not be pretty, but it’s tasty!

 

 

Fish Night : cooking for the family

Here is another of my super simple and tasty meals that can be made well even if there are interruptions, which with a house of kids is about as common as an avocado going bad before you use it ( how did I not see it there?).

Petrale sole, caught wild, bought fresh so I had to make it within a couple of days of buying it.  Rice, and salad.  Does it please everyone in my family? No, Rex won’t eat fish or salad. So he got hot dog, grapes and rice.  If he was a baby I’d call that meal “choking hazard delight!”

Our family this night was myself, Viv, Rex and our neighbor gal pal ( 10 years old) Gracie.  She is far less picky than my kids so she is a delight to feed.

First, I make the rice.  Much to Chef Husband’s chagrin I, like my father before me, I love the rice in the bag.  Sorry, rice is my Achilles heel and I can’t take the time to spend 40 minutes making the kind of rice he does.  Boil in a bag of salted water and then after I drain it stir in a bunch of butter.  The kids love it, and darn it is tasty.

Meanwhile, I take the fish out and lay it on a paper towel.  Good to get the moisture out and let it rest. It’s pooped.

Then set up my work station. Flour, egg mixed with a little milk, breadcrumbs with dried oregano.

The fish goes in the flour first.  Then the egg, then the bread crumb.  After that trip through three bowl lane the fish is tired again and needs to rest.  Back to a paper towel while it all sets.  It works out better this way.  ( note: Rex’s dinner is ready to go nearby)

Then I go to the garden and pick our lettuce. Our best crop of 2012.  Wash and drain it. drizzle a little ranch dressing on it because universal truth everyone loves ranch dressing.  I’m not kidding around with oil and vinegar, little bit of ranch, not a ton, and my daughter eats salad. 

I get the plates and forks ready because the fish takes no time to make.  I heat up the pan on low with olive oil, place the sole in the pan with a little chunk of butter. Not to get all Paula Dean, but butter does make things better.  Everything.

Then I go to the backyard and yell for Gracie and Vivien to come in for dinner.  Each side of the fish takes one minute.  No more.  I ask the girls where Rex is.  They go to get him and as I am about to put the next fish in the pan I realized the yelling for him has gone on to long.  I turn off the pan.

“Where is he?”  I yell out.

The girls say they don’t know.  Visions of him hurt and unconscious in the yard  cause me to run out of the house into our back, back yard ( it’s long and large). I scream his name with no response.  Then  I find Rex looking downcast, sitting by himself by the fence in the wood chips.

“Rex, are you feeling sad?”  He nods his head. I think I know what happened.

“Do you feel like the girls left you?”

“Yes, I want to play.”

“But, I called you into dinner.”

“But, I want to play.”

“It’s still early and dinner won’t take long.  Then you will still have time to play, okay?”

“Okay.”  I pick him and we walk and I explain to the girls that they need to be like the Marines and not leave a man behind.  Always bring him up with you when you come in.

Now, they are all at the counter and I make the rest of the fish.  I serve them the salad, chopped, rice and fish. Then I finish making my portion of it all and by then Rex is done and I sit down to eat ( three seats at the counter).  They had juice, I had a French Rose.

The girls clean their plate and then ask for more rice.   Success. 

4 pieces of fresh petrale sole

1/3 cup of flour

one egg

1 tablespoon of milk

salt

pepper

1/3 of a cup of breadcrumbs ( store bought)

a couple of pinches of dried oregano

olive oil

1 table-spoon of butter per two fish

Look Familiar?

You have served your kids dinner, and you are so TIRED that instead of making something for yourself you FINISH what is on their plates before you clean them and call it a day. Yes, I’m married to a chef, but 5 to 6 nights a week it’s real world around here. And dang it, homemade chicken tenders, leftover pasta, and day old green beans, not bad, not bad at all.

Note the cider donut mix. My friend Ella just brought that back to me from Vermont. She swore they were good, and I was wondering how different they could be from regular donuts.

I have a new project.

The Best Eggs

Wifeager. That’s a wife+ manager. I think that’s what I’ve become for Mark. In LA, there are a lot of Momagers, you know, for the child stars and the parents who can’t let go.  So, since I told you all about his stint on Top Chef: Masters I can’t stop there! Here is a link to another show my husband recently did. Not really a show, but  a web trailer for the new Julia Child movie. They approached him since he did know Julia Child. They asked him what he could make that would be simple and would fit with Julia Child. It’s a plug for Campanile and as we say in the biz, he can “put it on his reel”. ( sounds of me going through piles as I realize I need to make him one.)

So, he came up with Eggs for Daphne (ahhhh). He does make the best eggs in the world. He makes olive oil eggs, eggs in a whole, this eggs tortilla thing. But he named this one for me. Since Mark works at night, breakfast is our “date” time. Well, with two kids, it may not be a date anymore, but it is the one meal we can usually spend together and the one he makes the most at our home.

So, enjoy the short film (4 min I think), and tell me if you are able to make them and love them like I do.

(In the background is his Chef de Cusine Erica. A very important job. If he didn’t have someone good like Erica working with him he’d really be AWOL from home.)

My Week So Far: From Sprained Arm To Ice Cream

Well, I’m now wearing a splint (see picture below). And if one more guy asks me if I have a bowling injury…

Sometimes I have to take it off to get stuff done, like right now, as I am writing. I skipped my 9 holes this week, and I’m trying to be good, but it’s hot and this splint bugs me.

Also, I’m suppose to do hot-and-cold immersion a few times a day… I barely do it once. Need to get on that. Vivien hates the sling and wants me to take it off; I can’t pick her up as easily with this injury. But, it is a reminder to keep it on.

I take it off when I shot my show. Yesterday, I did a shoot with Nate Berkus (the decorator who goes on Oprah) – what a doll. We talked about trends in home furnishings. He has a new line on HSN (Home Shopping Network) that is vintage-inspired, and I collect vintage pieces so, oh my, Nate and I, we got along! He also said stone was a hip trend, like polished stone table. It “grounds” a room. I thought, “Just keep giving me those blue eyes and you had me at ‘table.’”

PLAY TIME

My dad’s “home” took a field trip to an outdoor food market right near us, so I got to have lunch with him, which was great (and I got to skip the long drive to see him). He seemed good and I told him about the post I did about elder abuse. He said, “Glad my girls looked out for me.”

Later Viv and I went to Giggles N’ Hugs, an eatery on the Westside of LA that caters to kids and parents. Great magic tricks and the BEST balloon-animal maker I have ever, ever seen. The guy made Vivien a monkey on a tree, with a face, all in a balloon! If you live in the area and want to use him, email me and I will hook you up. As a bonus, we were joined by Kristy Swanson (the original Buffy) and her young son, so between that, the fries, and Jersey Jim’s magic act, Vivien was in hog heaven. I was trying to pull her out of there so I could watch the debate.

We had most of the family together for the debate: Both of my stepsons, hubby, and mother-in-law, but after about 30 minutes, I started to nod off. It was a snooze. They both did fine, but I was missing the Bill Clinton emotion, which Obama doesn’t have. I wanted him to feel someone’s pain. And there was no wacky audience member who made people uncomfortable, asking questions like, “Senator McCain, I have HIV; will you share a sandwich with me?” I think whoever you started liking in the beginning, you still like. The economic downturn isn’t starting to make them both seem a tad irrelevant. It only seems to be getting both candidates more FREAKED.

Then Mark was a stud and made homemade vanilla ice cream with a peach swirl for Viv’s preschool potluck, where it was nice talking to the parents. Good folks. But phew, I’m tired, and my arm needs a rest.