• 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.
  • what sounds good?

    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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Creamy Red Quinoa

I’ve loved quinoa since the first time I tasted it. I knew it was this super healthy whole grain sold only in health food stores (i.e. not exactly a reason to get super excited). But from first bite I was hooked. The texture is amazing – like tiny pieces of popcorn, and the flavor is perfect – slightly nutty but still mild enough to take on any flavors you add to it. I kept this dish simple by adding lots of garlic and onions and cooking it in chicken broth. Using broth instead of water makes incredibly buttery tasting grains. To give it a bit of creaminess, I added a little bit of Greek yogurt, which made it almost decadent. And in the spirit of the New Year, it couldn’t be more good for you. Yum yum.

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Black Pepper Grits with Roasted Tomatoes, Caramelized Onions, Steak, and Over Easy Eggs

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a major egg fan. Poached, over-easy…ok, I admit it, anything with a rich, runny yolk has my heart all a-flutter. But since Matt is not much of a breakfast fan, I don’t often indulge my cravings to have breakfast for dinner. Which is a shame, because it’s easy and super fast, and it’s the perfect way to use whatever sounds good.

This dish certainly had several items that were cooked different ways, but I optimized space and still managed very little cleanup (and some leftovers). You could always use sauteed tomatoes (I just love the flavor and juiciness of the roasted), bacon, sausage, or any leftovers you had in the fridge (grits are a pretty delicious delivery system for almost anything). In the end, it may not be the prettiest thing to look at, but that doesn’t matter, because first chance I got, I smashed it all up into one, big, delicious bowl of breakfasty goodness.

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Spicy Buffalo Chicken Burgers with Pepperjack and Caramelized Onions

There’s something so wonderful about cooking a meal using things you commonly have on hand. Now that I’ve built a relatively stocked pantry, there are certain things I know I have, and can use to toss together dinner in no time. If I have a busy week ahead, I’ll also usually buy some kind of ground meat – because there are so many quick, easy meals I can make with it (depending on my mood). This burger came out of a need to eat – and fast.

As the burgers cooked, my roommate was drawn into the kitchen. We ended up enjoying these sandwiches together before moving on to our separate activities. That’s what I loved about this dinner: it was made using only what was at hand, and it brought people together around the dinner table – if only for a few moments.

Calzones with Ricotta, Spinach, Mushrooms, and Caramelized Onions

A meal like this calzone is a great excuse to use what you’ve got in the fridge. In my case, that’s usually the things I love most: veggies, cheese, herbs…all of which made their way into this calzone. You could mix up the filling anyway you like (shredded meat doused in a little sauce makes a delicious dinner…think the filling for these tacos).

It takes an understanding of your oven to best understand how to bake these, particularly because they are on the larger side. Feel free to use a pizza stone if you have one. If you find that the bottom is browning too quickly, double up on your baking sheets. If the top needs help browning, use the broiler. Since the filling is cooked before hand, it’s most important to make sure that the crust is baked and crispy!

Individual Sweet Potato Gratins with Creme Fraiche, Onions, and Bacon

One of my co-workers sent me an email about a fantastic new website, called Food52. Food 52 is the ultimate food fight, where cooks all around are battling it out in weekly recipe contests. Two contests a week for a full year, and 52 weeks later the website will produce a cookbook with the winning recipes.

I had to give it a try, because I love being inspired by challenges. The best part about Food52, is that they are sending out really generic titles in the hopes of stirring up the best ideas out there. And boy, have there been some amazing ideas. I love this savory plum tart which won for “Best Fruit Tart”.

This week’s challenges: Best Potato Gratin and Best Apple Cake. Since Matt is a general carbophobe (meaning he just doesn’t usually eat too many of them. I know, I didn’t know that existed, either), I stuck with his favorite: sweet potatoes. Combined with bacon, onions, a creamy bechamel, and a touch of creme fraiche, it won best gratin to date in our household. A great dish for fall, to boot.

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Pizza with White Bean-Rosemary Puree, Bacon, Broccoli Rabe, Tomatoes, Onions, and Parmesan

I love making pizza for a quick meal. Now, normally, some people think of “pizza as a quick meal” as picking up the phone, ordering, and waiting with $20 by the front door. But since I love making bread doughs and freezing them in individual portions until I need them, pizza is a great thing to make when I need a fast dinner. I just take the dough out of the freezer (put it into the fridge) on my way into work, and when I come home, I have dough ready to go. I can fish through the fridge and use whatever meat, veggies, and herbs I have on hand. For this version I made a quick puree of white beans and herbs from the garden (I just love the white beans – so rich and creamy, makes a great sauce substitution for this pizza).

Best of all, the warm, bubbly, cheesy result is incredibly satisfying – like I’d spent hours waiting for it to come to fruition (or to the front door). But the whole thing is done in minutes. All in all – the ideal meal: portioned for one (especially convenient as Matt hates pizza), uses up leftovers, and is done super fast. Hmm. Maybe I’ll go make another one.

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Souvlaki with Tzatziki and Toasted Pita

Above all else, I love a good bargain. So when I saw a pile of pork shoulders in the butcher case at my favorite market (for just over $1/lb!!!) I couldn’t resist. I dug through the pile (yes…gross) until I hit the bottom (where I found pig’s ears and feet as well – I passed). The smallest shoulder I could find was six pounds. So I carted my huge shoulder to the checkout. The cashier said something I hear a lot at that store: “What are you gonna make with THAT?” and that’s when I have to start thinking about it myself.

If you read anything about my recent journey across Eastern Europe, you’ll know that Matt and I ate our fair share of kebabs. Ever since, I’ve been struggling with the idea of trying to create something similar to surprise him with. A recent experience with souvlaki reminded me how easy it was to put those flavors together for an easy and delicious meal. Plus, I began using some of the massive amount of pig I had sitting in my fridge.

I made a quick dry rub with garlic powder, paprika, cumin, coriander, and a little bit of cayenne. Matt cut the fat off of the top of the shoulder, and we applied the dry rub all over the meat, and covered it with the fat. We roasted it in a low oven (275 degrees) for 3-4 hours, until it was tender and juicy. Then, you can use it for almost anything…like this souvlaki! (You could also use pork ribs…they would shred similarly, taste great, but take a lot less time to cook.)