Last weekend, Ben and I had the distinct pleasure of cooking with two up and coming foodies- brother and sister- Jack (10) & Lorelei (5). Jack had expressed an interest in learning how to cook to his parents. In turn, we were contacted to see if we’d be up for the task of cooking a gourmet meal with them, and our answer was an enthusiastic yes. We arrived at the home of Jack & Lo ready to discuss the menu, and Jack knew exactly what he wanted to create- mini beef ravioli. We bulked up the menu with two bruschettas- our take on caprese and another with prosciutto, and for dessert fresh fruit kabobs with romanoff sauce. Jack and Lo proved to be worthy sous chefs in the making kneading and rolling out pasta dough, stirring, tossing, seasoning, and tasting- quality control. The young duo gave Ben and me the best compliment that we’d ever received in the kitchen. Jack said that Ben and I would be “great lunch ladies”- just as good as a James Beard award. We had such a good time and the reviews for the mini beef ravioli received so many thumbs up that we just had to share. So, without further ado.the mini, the beefy, the ravioli.
It was just over 6 years ago that Ben and I moved back to the Midwest from Colorado. As sad as we were about leaving a city and state that we loved where Ben had earned his photography degree, I had my first
“job” out of college, where we alpine slid through the Rockies, where we’d eaten extremely well (if you need Denver restaurant suggestions- let me know- I’m your girl), and made lifelong friends, we knew that moving back to be closer to our families was the best thing for us. We really missed the quality time with our families, and the holidays just didn’t cut it. There’s something very comforting in the simplicity of just going home and being with your family. This dish is near and dear to me. Ben’s mom made this for us once shortly after the move, and I’ve probably made it 100 times since. It has all of the elements that will make your taste buds dance. I hope you like it.
Cooking is a simple yet complex process. The final dish is so much more then the sum of its ingredient. The use of the correct seasoning or the appropriate herbs can make a dish taste complete. Cooking throughout the country has opened my eyes to the beautiful subtleties each place carries. Baking a cake or soufflé in Denver is slightly different than in Portland, or in the midwest where I reside now. Moisture and humidity are factors that one naturally adapts to. Ovens and cookware are not created equally. This can change a recipe as well. One should view a recipe as a guideline or a set of parameters that can be followed, but can always be adapted to fit one’s taste or convenience of their pantry. This is when you begin to “make a dish your own” and when the fun really begins. For this dish we are cooking potato gnocchi. This is a classic dish that can be made relatively quickly, and will bring a real wow factor to a dinner party or a Tuesday night. It is a small list of simple ingredients that everyone has fof hand. Combined with patience and a little technique it is a wonderful thing.
Strange as this may sound, but Ben’s four cheese macaroni is somewhat of a wedding staple. Last year we had the honor of cooking the rehearsal dinner for a couple of our best friends Mark & Jane on the beautiful beach of Fripp Island in South Carolina. It was an amazing night. 60 of their friends and family had traveled from all over the country to be there, so no pressure right? We successfully pulled it off- no food poisoning; no one went hungry; and everyone loved the stick to your ribs mac & cheese. So, November rolls around, and we figure, “If we can cook for 60 we can totally handle 120, right?” That’s what pretty much happened. A friend of Ben’s was shopping for a caterer do to her wedding reception that followed a destination wedding in the Bahamas. Ben writes up a menu featuring the mac & cheese, and it’s done- we’re cooking for 120ish. I have to tell you that never in my life had I ever felt like we were more “in the weeds” than that night, but we made it through- marriage in tact (our marriage that is), guests with full bellies, happy bride & groom that were even happier that there was mac & cheese that they’d be able to offer to family & friends staying in town with them. And that leads me to our latest newlyweds, our wonderful friends and neighbors, Bill & Sarah. We began talking about their rehearsal dinner way before we were even asked to do it, and a month before the date, they popped the question to us, “Will you, Ben and Kim, cook our rehearsal dinner?” We said, “Yes!” The guest list was petite consisting of the wedding party and the Foodies. Sarah’s sister Emily hosted the dinner at her home giving Ben and I free reign over her kitchen and grill. The menu consisted of French potato salad with new potatoes & hariots verts, a bountiful mixed green salad with a mixture of in season produce, a few tenderloins of pork and beef served with an arugala salad and horseradish sauce served on fresh rolls, homemade ice box cookie ice cream sandwiches, and of course the mac & cheese. The thing that we’d like to let you know is that Sarah is a vegetarian, and we offered to create a special dish just for her, but she declined having sampled the mac & cheese previously saying that the mac & cheese would be perfect for her. So this is our tribute to our wonderful friends that have given us the honor of feeding their loved ones during the most memorable times in their lives- we give you the sacred recipe for Ben’s four cheese macaroni.
There are two types of people in the world, those who eat meat and those who don’t. Contrary to popular belief, based on the fact that a majority of our recipes focus on an animal protein of sorts, we have a great admiration for vegetarians. On a philosophical level we understand the reasons why people choose not to consume meat. We on the other hand are not strong enough to not indulge in the occasional steak, drumstick, burger, pork chop, hot dog……this is going somewhere. Not long ago we got together with some friends where the line was clearly drawn between the “carnivores” and the “herbivores.” It was an easy menu that we came up with- one couple brought a salad with homemade vinaigrettes & artisan breads; another came packing an apple pie ala mode (chocolate & vanilla- yeah, I said chocolate), and we threw down the main event- eggplant and chicken parmesan with a Mediterranean spin on the red sauce that we could all enjoy harmoniously.
There are many joys that cooking can provide for one‘s life. Making homemade ravioli is one simple practice that can provide great satisfaction and anaffordable delicious meal for your loved ones. It is easy to lose yourself in the process. We decided to make a simple pumpkin ravioli using the remaining pumpkin from our cheesecake recipe. This is a unique hearty pasta that will have your audience wondering why they haven’t tried this before.
This video represents a series of 2600 photos edited down from the 6400 we captured that day.
It all started with a bet. Ben and I were at Mark & Jane’s house enjoying the typical weekend together with cooking, dogs, wine, jousting, cards, and crafting (not necessarily in that order). Ben was helping Jane load the dishwasher- Mark and I were a) pouring another glass of wine and getting our glue sticks ready to scrapbook b) giving Oliver & Sobe (The Dogs) their gourmet doggy kibble or c) putting our helmets on or d) all of thee above, and Ben made The Bet. Which movie had the scene with the timed dishwasher loading scene in it? Dan in Real Life or Rachel Getting Married? As soon as Ben named the stakes and asked me which one it was, I start jumping up and down with Jane screaming that we won, and once again Ben realized that he shouldn’t bet against the “Steel Trap.” Rachel Getting Married was what brought sweet, tasty, victorious, satisfaction in the form of four courses, for four foodies, for under $40.
So the following is the menu that was prepared for the victors of the bet. Now, we love food. We love good food, and Ben and Mark came up with the idea to do this gourmet meal on a budget. Based our experiences dining out, we figured that this meal could easily be $40/person, so the challenge was set and the menu was written. We do have copies of receipts with our purchases minus any pantry staples i.e. salt, pepper, flour, water, etc. Keep in mind that the bubbly and any wine consumed with the meal was not budgeted with good reason- had that been the case, we would’ve been drinking our dinner : )