• erin

    Dumplings with my family
    A recent graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, I found myself with no money, no kitchen equipment, and an exceptionally huge appetite. Ideas, improvisations, and yummy meal solutions were discovered in the kitchen of my very first apartment.
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    I've been getting a lot of requests and suggestions for the apartment kitchen. I LOVE these suggestions, keep them coming!

    If you have anything you'd like me to consider (recipes to develop, shortcuts for recipes, great ingredients, or even blog formatting), shoot me an email and let me know!

    em570039@mycia.net

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Butternut Squash Wheatberry Risotto

I’ve always loved whole grains. Don’t get me wrong, I love my fluffy white rice and all varieties of baked goods made with regular flour, but I’ve always had a thing for the nutty, chewy, hearty flavor of whole grains like farro, barley, and wheatberries. So a few years ago I started making “risotto style” dishes with other grains. For fall, nothing could be a better fit. Add other veggies or herbs to suit your whim, and this would be even better with a sprinkling of toasted pecans or almonds. Yum!

Chicken with Mustard Dumplings

I love chicken and dumplings, and it’s something I haven’t made yet in my own kitchen (my mom’s version is delish). I wanted to make it a little different by adding a burst of flavor to the dumplings. Matt is a mustard lover, and I’m a recent mustard convert, so I figured I’d give it a try. The result was great – slightly different but still staying true to the basic flavors in it already.

Using whole grain, spicy brown, and Dijon mustard pumped up the flavor in a warm way that complemented the chicken and the broth. Since we’ve had our first frost here, I was delighted to have something this warm and tasty for dinner (and for lunch the next day)!

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Spinach Salad with Roasted Mushrooms and Bacon Wrapped Figs

This was one of the most delicious dinners I’ve had recently, and definitely the most satisfying salad in ages. Freshness from spinach, earthiness and meatyness from mushrooms, richness from bacon, and sweetness from the figs. It’s just a few simple ingredients, three simple steps, and…what’s that? I had you at bacon? Well, on to the recipe, then.

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Pork Cutlets with Leeks, Lemon, and Parsley

It was a long day. The kind of day where I was still thinking about work long after I’d left my office (I’m normally good about leaving work at work). After two market trips (for cakes I’ll discuss in a future post), I was exhausted. I grabbed pork cutlets solely because they were small and thin – would take almost no time to cook.

I love leeks for their subtle onion flavor, and I brightened the dish with a little bit of lemon and fresh herbs. The dish had only 7 ingredients (if you don’t count salt and pepper) and was done in less than 15 minutes. It felt especially good eating it – my feet up and the warmth and aromas coming up towards me. Delish.

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Grilled Polenta with Baby Artichokes, Mushrooms, and Sausage

I found some gorgeous baby artichokes at the market that I needed to use up soon. Initially, I was going to saute them in butter with garlic and white wine and serve it with a steak for Matt, but when it turned out to be just me at home with the roommates, I went for a different approach. Using only things I had on hand, I made a really delicious dish. My favorite part was that it utilized the grill – I’m running out of time to do that! (Though one of my favorite things is to grill out in the first few chilly days of fall – sort of that crisp, wonderful, tailgating feeling). Anyway – this dish was clean and fresh tasting – and the polenta made it wonderfully creamy – delish.

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Caramelized Onion Gnocchi with Spring Veggies and a Simple White Wine Sauce

I love gnocchi – not just eating it, but making it. There’s something so satisfying about gently rolling out the ropes, cutting them, watching them fall into the water, and rise again – letting you know (just in time) that they’re ready for eating. One of my favorite versions of gnocchi is ricotta gnocchi, a super easy, apartment kitchen friendly recipe that replaces the relatively tedious potato cooking/mashing with ricotta cheese. It got me to thinking what else you could use to make these lovely pasta dumplings.

After a little research I discovered that I’d been crazy to limit my gnocchi-making self to just potatoes or cheese. Recipe writers and food bloggers everywhere had made gnocchi using spinach, carrots, and much more. So I ran home to make gnocchi with one of my favorite things: caramelized onions. The result was delicious. The onion flavor in the gnocchi was actually a little mild, but with more caramelized onion in the pasta it was delish!

Caramelized Onion Polenta with Sausage and Cauliflower Ragu

I used to think it was strange that I read cookbooks feverishly as though they were page-turning novels. Now I know it is – but the amazing world of food magazines and online recipes have deepened my love for the written food word. And no matter how crazy it is, I can’t help it. It’s more than the glossy pages and mouth-watering pictures. For me, it’s the format the amounts and ingredients take on the page. The way they sit is so incredibly inviting as though begging me to try it myself.

But I’ve also finally got some cook’s blood in me (I am a trained baker) and I use recipes as ideas and rarely follow them exactly. This idea came from a couple different places to the point that it’s my own recipe – though I proudly admit it is inspired by all of those glossy pages that I love so much.