Friday, December 14, 2007

10 Years Lighter

Consumed with day jobs, family, traveling and just living together with our two dogs (Nona and Miles), Aaron and I have taken a hiatus from professional cooking lately. Aside from Sunday Suppers, we also catered here and there and most recently (in November) had a table at I Made It where we fed a chilly room full of hungry craftspeople. At first the hiatus felt like a vacation, but now it seems like part of us is missing. Aaron noticed it first, almost immediately actually, but I brushed it off. Still, you keep asking what we're up to and whether we'll be opening a restaurant soon to which I keep replying, "hopefully sooner rather than later."

I just stumbled upon all of peterp's sunday night supper photos and got a little teary eyed. Cooking for you all every Sunday night, was truly one of the best times I've ever had. Even when my polenta didn't set and we ran out of plates and plantains were no where to be found in the entire city, I felt like I was doing exactly what I was suppose to be doing. I'm telling you all this because I just want you to know that we didn't forget about you.

On another note, as many of you may have already noticed, Aaron and I are now both sans dreadlocks. Aaron cut his first and then, right there in the kitchen, partially out of solidary and partially out of curiosity, I downed a glass of red wine, pulled out the scissors and let mine fall to the floor. Together we had over 10 years of hair. It's taken some getting used to on my part, but I don't regret it for a second. History is heavy and it felt fantastic to have complete range of motion back in my neck. Plus with short hair, I think Aaron looks like JayZ.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Lazy Sunday

Today was day for doing nothing. A lazy Sunday for staying in bed, eating chocolate cake and listening to thunderstorms. We spent the morning talking about our plans for the future which most immediately involve heading home to MA for Thanksgiving with my family. My sister and her boyfriend Jae who were here over the summer will be there too and we can't wait. There is no better holiday than Thanksgiving in my opinion, I'm 27 and I've never once missed going home.

Around 5pm we started to get hungry so I made a breakfast of BELTs (tempeh bacon, egg, lettuce and tomato) and home fries with onions.
I find home fries can be hit or miss when I make them, sometimes they never get crispy, sometimes they're underdone... I asked Aaron for his advice on making the perfect breakfast potatoes.

Perfect Breakfast Potatoes for Two

1.5 small onions - diced
3 red skin potatoes - 1 inch pieces
3 T olive oil
old bay seasoning - to taste
cumin - to taste
oregano - to taste
salt and pepper - to taste

I followed Aaron's cooking suggestions 1. Lots of oil, 2. High heat 3. Fry the potatoes first 4. Add the onions once the potatoes are crisp. They came out perfect!

While the potatoes are browning add whatever spices you like. I used some old bay, cumin and oregano but you could also use rosemary, zatar and garlic powder. When making up your own spice ratios always start with a little, taste and add more!

For dinner, Aaron made chocolate chocolate chip cake with coffee, walnuts and bananas which we ate around 9pm with mini scoops of vanilla ice cream. As an experiment he whipped the whites of the three eggs the recipe called for and the result was a moist cake that was both fluffy and rich.

Baking tip of the day: Use cocoa for a release instead of flour when making a chocolate cake!

Note: The above photo was taken a couple weeks ago, shortly after my last post. Those were some of the ingredients in Aaron's Scottish gingerbread (yes we know Guinness isn't Scottish) which we sold at I Made It. After several tries, he ended up with a not-too-sweet but rich complex flavor that was complemented by crystallized ginger and raisins.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

We Made It!

I know it must feel like we've abandoned you, but I promise, we haven't. If you've been missing our "meaty" marinara or craving our chunky chili, the wait is over! The Nitty Gritty Test Kitchen will be at the next I Made It Sunday Market October 27th 12-5PM, 416 Library Street, Braddock. (That's in the old church.)

We'll be selling sauces, soups, and chili along with fresh baked breads and cookies (see above photo - that's a cinnamon raisin bread Aaron just made that I am eating for dessert as I write) that you can take home to make for your own Sunday Night Supper or eat while you shop.

Q: What is the I Made It! Sunday Market?

(the short answer): An open, welcoming gathering place for creative individuals to meet, create, sell or trade their wares and to make new connections. I Made It is looking for artists, crafters, or anyone passionate about making a positive impact in the community we share.

(the LONG answer): I Made It! is a regularly occurring, nomadic Market that provides the opportunity for young entrepreneurs to establish their businesses and to enjoy low barriers for bringing their wares to market in order to create successful businesses built on arts and crafts.

The Market is an inclusive happening that welcomes artists or other "makers" in the Pittsburgh region to meet like-minded individuals, to create new opportunities, or to find a receptive environment in which to sell new art.

Not Nitty Gritty but worth a we'll be there so come say hi!

Traveling Bakery: Thursday October 18, 7pm at the Frame Gallery.
Courtesy of the Kitchen Bandits (

Hope to see you next Saturday!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

On the EVE of the Last Supper

Last Sunday was a real treat. It was my birthday weekend and we had a great dinner. In addition to lasagna, homemade sesame garlic bread sticks and mixed green salad Aaron made a chocolate ginger cake with cream cheese frosting (see photo above). OMG so good!

If you're wondering what I'm wearing in the above photo, it's my birthday suit! Aaron bought me a red Dickies jumpsuit for my birthday which turns out to be the perfect cooking outfit! The only thing it's missing is Nitty Gritty silk screened on the back.

Today is Saturday and I've been banished from the kitchen while Aaron finishes up some oatmeal bread french toast with fresh peaches and crystallized ginger. Then we'll be off to shop for the Last Supper tomorrow night. if you're in town, we really hope you can make it. See you tomorrow!

The Last Supper

This Sunday marks the first day of fall and the last Sunday Night Supper. As with any change of season the occasion is truly bittersweet. Aaron and I have loved cooking together and having you over for dinner each week, but this fantastic experiment must come to an end. We'll miss the Brillobox, but make no mistake, we're not going anywhere.

Speaking of the Brillobox, Aaron and I would like to thank Eric, Renee and the entire staff for the wonderful opportunity they provided us and all of you for coming and eating. It's been great fun and it's made us realize that this is what we both really want to do. Please stay tuned.

To keep up to date with our new whereabouts, email and we'll add you our mailing list.
The Menu
Sunday, September 23, 2007
(Vegan all the way!) Tempeh with sour kraut, garlic mashed potatoes and caramelized onions served with a pretty little mixed green salad. Tastes like fall to me!
We are expecting a large crowd so if you could please RSVP we will try our best to serve everyone!
Cost: $7.00
Dinner starts at 6PM and goes until the food runs out.
Drink specials are available.

Monday, September 10, 2007

My Birthday Week!

So far my birthday week has started off great. Last night for dinner, Aaron used our beautiful eggs (see previous post) to make the best omelets I ever had in my life. They had banana peppers, provolone cheese, spinach and red onions and topped 3 inches at their thickest point. We had them with a little mixed green salad topped with one of the few little tomatoes we managed to grow this summer. Delicious!

Sunday September 16, 2007 (My Birthday dinner, it's gotta be good!)
Rich vegetarian lasagna with Aaron's "meaty" marinara sauce served with a mixed green salad. And save room for dessert!

We WILL have vegan dinners available!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Tortellini Soup and a Gift from Biggie Smalls

Aaron and I just got home from Brillobox. The evening was overcast and drizzly, perfect for soup. We made a delicious broth flavored with onions, carrots, celery and rosemary and loaded with tortellini and cabbage. (I could definitely stick with the cabbage soup diet if it tasted like this.) We served the soup with a salad of mixed greens, marinated tomatoes and everyone's favorite, crispy fried tortillas, the idea for which came from a Southwestern/Mexican restaurant I used to frequent with my family back in Northampton , MA.

This week also brought the most unexpected and thoughtful of gifts! One of our favorite customers was kind enough to bring us the eggs of some of her chickens Eragon, Crow, Chickpea and none other than Biggie Smalls. Stay tuned for more omelets!

So a couple of weeks ago, I formally introduced my partner Aaron and began telling you the story of how we met and I guess it's finally time for chapter two.

When I left you, we were just leaving the Animal ER. One week later...

I was up at the crack of dawn shopping for ingredients, sending out reminder emails and packing my kitchen into the car. In the midst of everything, I called Aaron to make sure he was still planning to come. He worked on Sunday evenings starting 3pm so I only had him from 1pm until 2:30pm. We had instant chemistry in the kitchen but as I started handing out directions it became clear that Aaron had a lot more experience than I had realized, and I really had no idea what I was doing.

Somewhere around 2pm I remembered Aaron was leaving me soon and
realized that I had never actually cooked dinner for 50 people before. I started to panic out loud. Before I knew what was happening, Aaron was on the phone trading in one of his very limited vacation days just so he could stay and help me finish. I couldn't believe it. I don't think anyone had ever done a nicer thing for me.

The rest of the evening was nothing short of magical. The orders started coming at 6pm and they just kept coming. We sold all but one bowl of that inaugural meal and didn't end up leaving the Brillobox until 1am.

When it was all over I thanked and hugged him profusely. I was a tad tipsy at that point after one too many celebratory beers and full of energy and excitement but even then I remember thinking, I couldn't have done this with out you.

That's all for now! Good night and sleep tight. Next week is my birthday (September 15) so Sunday's Supper will be extra special. Save room for dessert!

Oh, one other thing. Aaron and I came up with a name for ourselves, the Nitty Gritty Test Kitchen which to us seems quite fitting. So if you start to see Nitty Gritty Test Kitchen presents events - you know that's us. Thanks again for all your support and for continuing to check this blog despite my shameful lapses. Keep coming!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

And we're back!

I apologize for this long over due post. I really have no excuse. I guess I've just been having too much fun. Today is Labor Day, and I'm about to be ruined for all other omelets. I just got a new stove so Aaron has been cooking for me non stop. My life is very hard I know. So far this weekend we've tested grilled vegetable pizza with pesto, ginger apple pie and now omelets with rosemary potatoes, spinach & cheddar cheese. Aaron won't let me give away his secret technique but I'll let you know how they taste in just a minute.

Since I last wrote we've had two successful Sundays. Last night Aaron made the most beautiful cream puff shells flavored with fresh rosemary and we filled them with a mock tuna salad made from tvp. We finished the plates with tomatoes from the Aspinwall Flea Market, fresh mozzarella and basil.

Oh my god...I just had the omelet. Ruined.