Sunday, December 26, 2010

New Concept, New Year (almost)... Plus More

I am currently hurtling through the air at 10,000 square feet heading for Dublin, Ireland, via Atlanta. I am setting out on a very exciting European adventure that I cannot wait to share! I suppose that ending up in Dublin tomorrow morning at 6:45am local time will be worth being picked up by a super shuttle at 3:30am this morning (ack). But traveling I am and I am so excited to not only experience a day in the American South, but spend a dozen days in the Old World learning about James Joyce, Irish history, the making of Jameson and Guinness and much much more. This will be a documentation of all of that, plus all the tasty food and drink that I manage to consume to fuel my journey. Keep checking and I will keep updating. See you in Atlanta!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Big Dinner!!

Six courses of amazing homemade goodness.
- Blue Point Oysters with Mignonette
- Kabocha Squash Soup with White Sweet Miso and White Truffle Oil Essence
- Butter Lettuce Salad with Cara Cara Oranges, Tangerines, and Pistachios, dressed with Tangerine and Champagne Vinaigrette
- Seared Himachi with Coconut & Lemongrass Broth, Oven-Roasted Tomatoes- Blanched Asparagus and Citrus Salsa
- Rib-eye cap with Mushroom Demiglace, Spring Onion Puree and Baby Nantes Carrots
- Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

It was AMAZING!



Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Balut


So I was just reading about balut. Hmmmm. I hate to be judgmental when it comes to world foods, as many of the delicacies in the world, especially third world countries, came from necessity, but this sort of turns my stomach. Balut is a duck egg that carries a fertilized duck in it, somewhere between 17 and 20 weeks in gestation. This means that inside the innocuous looking egg is a duck, or chicken at times, that is about to hatch. The eggs are then boiled and served with salt, pepper and vinegar. They are supposedly so popular in the Philipines that they have been equated to the American hot dog. Now, I am not one who is going to go to great lengths to defend the hot dog. It is essentially lips and assholes and that is not in any way better than eating a baby duck in one foul swoop. But the grinding of the meat, and perhaps the addition of ketchup and relish if you so choose, make this a much more palatable choice for us squeamish Americans.

I mean what could the texture of this creature (it really is a creature, it looks like something you might find in the Black Lagoon) possibly be? Is it slimy and crunchy all at the same time? Mushy and buttery? I imagine things would squirt into your mouth and throat when taking a bite. On Wikipedia they say they are commonly served with beer. I am going to have to start drinking beer right now and not let up if I am going to taste these. They have called them feathered eggs as well because, well, there could possibly be feathers involved. I am actually scowling as I write this. Well now I am laughing because I'm thinking about what my face must have just looked like. Even Chris Cosentino of Incanto and offal fame has said he can't eat it. One writer called it the culinary Heart of Darkness. I think Joseph Conrad would agree. I sort of feel like it is the equivalent of eating an abortion, actually it might be the equivalent of performing one and eating it all at the same time. Alright, I have now managed to disgust myself. Until next time...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Salad Made Interesting


I know I've been absentee. It's been part laziness and part lack of inspiration. There have been some changes and heartbreak and therefore I haven't been cooking as much, haven't been eating as much (leading to a phantom 6 pound weight loss, huh?) and haven't been taking pictures.

But today my friend Chris asked me what I use to dress the salads that I bring to work with me almost daily and I thought, why waste an email telling him my ideas when I can blog about it and send him the link?

I am usually an olive oil and vinegar girl. I love red wine vinegar and champagne vinegar and typically use balsamic only occasionally. I think that salad can have a bad rap because often times it is made with unhealthy dressing and tasteless boring vegetables. There's nothing weirder than eating a salad made with tomatoes and carrots and the only thing it tastes like is water. (Does anyone else have this experience? Personally I think that Subway sandwiches also taste like water. I have no idea if I am right on or everyone thinks I am crazy. Don't answer that part).

Today, for example, my salad was made up of the following:
spinach
romaine
heirloom tomatoes (incredibly sweet and in season)
radishes
red bell pepper
celery
tiny slivers of red onion
mozzarella
a couple amazingly salty kalamata olives

I dressed it with a few drizzles of organic extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and a few dashes of Frank's red hot sauce, just to add that kick.

This salad has tons of crunch from the veggies and then the softness of the mozzarella and the salty bite of the 4-5 olives I added in. It wasn't planned out, more like a cross-section of what I currently happen to have in my kitchen. I also never use bottled salad dressing. It is so easy to make my own, and why would I put any chemicals on all my lovely produce?

A few things that I believe are completely underutilized in salads:

fresh herbs- I made a tuna salad once (lettuce, veggies, tuna, olive oil and vinegar dressing) and I added tons of chopped Italian parsley that I didn't want to go bad. It absolutely 100% changed the salad and made it. It was amazing. I really cannot tell you how much of a difference this made, but you must try it. So chop in some chives, add basil or dill or whatever you have on hand. But it really makes a difference. Imagine a salad with hidden sage, sauteed mushrooms, slivers of parmesan and walnuts. Oooh, I need to make that, that sounds amazing.

Fresh fruit- a chopped apple, pear or peach can really change the entire composure of a salad. One of my faves in this vein is
Butter lettuce
cubed Granny Smith apple(taste your apple before you add it to make sure it's not mealy, nothing worse than that)
chopped prunes
ricotta salata
With a champagne vinegar, shallot and olive oil dressing, add a pinch of sugar and s& p to taste. Trust me, it works. And it's worth finding ricotta salata for, one of my all time favorite cheeses.

Roasted veggies- a sliced beet, some caramelized broccoli and cauliflower will add an extra oomph, not to mention nutrition, to any boring salad.

Cheese- and no, I'm not talking about cheddar. Grated parmesan can do wonders for a salad, as can ricotta salata, a little feta, goat cheese. I used all these sparingly as strangely as much of a cheese lover I am, I have never loved cheese in a salad. But some cannot soar to the heights that they are meant to be without the addition of these cheeses. Go to a cheese store and taste. Try a Tasmanian blue cheese, trust me on this one, or my beloved Fromage d'Affinois.

But experiment, there's really no going wrong. And if you mess up or don't like it, well try it differently next time.

Coming up: my favorite easy vinaigrettes.





Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What's For Dinner? Some SPICE!


Not the best picture, but I made some spicy food because of the addition of Sriracha in everything! I made my fave teriyaki chicken which has made many appearances on the blog, as well as zucchini, bok choy, and Trader Joe's Israeli couscous and lentil mix. MMMMMmmmm good. This meal was super simple to make and I had all the ingredients on hand.
The first thing I did was marinate some chicken thighs for about half an hour. Prep on the zucchs and bok choy was easy (rinse and cut in half). I baked the zucchini with some olive oil, salt and pepper and soy sauce for about 10 minutes then added the bok choy for the last 5, it needs very little cooking time. The Israeli couscous was simple, boil a small amount of water, add couscous, cover. Now I happen to be terrible at making things like this, aka, rice. I think it's because I don't read directions and I fuss with it too much. But even when i think I'm doing it perfectly the bottom layer of the rice is usually burned. What's that about? Maybe I should just buy a rice cooker. One day, when I have a bigger/nicer kitchen I will. And a blender... and a microwave. (I know, WHO doesn't have a microwave?? Well, me, but because it broke.) And to be honest the ONLY thing I miss it for is heating up leftovers. Most stuff I can do on the stove or in the oven, but heating up pasta or chicken is really the best to do in a microwave. I'll replace it again. It's in the "death" pile along with two DVRs. Maybe this should teach me that even though a dvr is a bargain at $49.99, it adds up when you practically have to buy two a year. Oh well. Where was I?
Sriracha! There was actually an article in the NY Times all about sriracha recently. I really like it, a lot more than Tabasco. There's something about the taste of Tabasco that turns me off. But Sriracha is Delisha. Ok, I'm a nerd. I think my favorite use is mixing it with honey, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger and marinating chicken or veggies with it. A little salty, a little sweet, and as spicy as you want it!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Picnic in the Park


Ahhhhh, Saturday was so so lovely. It was warm, perfectly warm, and my friends and I headed to the park for some fun in the sun. Yes, I live one block from that park. Many might recognize it from the intro to Full House, and it is also the famous Painted Ladies in Alamo Square. So we hoofed it up the hill, cooler in hand, and had the most amazing picnic/sunbathing session/lie about.
Before the park I went to Cheese Plus on Polk St and bought some amazing cheese and salami. Of course I spent too much money there, but everything was amazing, especially the Tasmanian blue cheese. Mmmmmm.
John's favorite orzo salad also made an appearance, as well as the crunchiest grapes of the season.
I decided after that day that it is the Summer of the Picnic, not to be confused with the Year of the Dog, or the Hair of the Dog for that matter. I live one block from an amazing park, I have a cooler with wheels and a picnic blanket that's actually named picnic time. What else could I need?! And look how happy I am! And how relaxed everyone looks!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I Seem To Only Make One Thing


I've been slacking lately but I think I'm almost motivated to blog again. I think my main issue is pictures. It annoys me to load them both onto the computer and then onto the blog. I know that's lame so I'll just get over it.
On to some food stuff. More Turkey Burgers. I believe that John may be bordering on obsession when it comes to these. He just loves them, which is great because they're tasty and easy to make and not very expensive. I actually made them for Mother's Day as well and they didn't come out quite as well because we did them on the BBQ instead of an inside grill pan. I had never used the barbeque before to make them and I think that it was a bit too hot, so they cooked too much on the outside before I could get the inside fully cooked. That's the main issue with poultry burgers, the fact that they need to be completely cooked through, which means grilling them at a lower temp is necessary.
At my house I loaded the burgers up with cheddar cheese and then used some leftover feta to complete them. I couldn't really taste the feta, but it gave me some ideas for the future. More on that in a minute.

At my mom's house I topped the burgers with pepper jack which gave them a nice bite. I also made Ina Garten's brownie pudding, which I should have photographed, and it was easy, rich, and delicious. At my house I roasted some new potatoes and zucchini to go along. A tasty meal, I must say!

Now, when I added the feta to the turkey burgers I started thinking about how to make a Greek Turkey burger. (I know I sound like Rachael Ray, who I don't really like but yet I watch her show. I'm not sure what's wrong with me. Sometimes she makes stuff that looks ok and sometimes she creates such revolting meals that those are actually entertaining in their own right. The hot dog salad or whatever she made with a dressing of relish and yellow mustard? Gross) Anyway, I lived in Greece for a summer once a million years ago, and that summer I subsisted off Greek salad and chicken souvlaki, chicken skewers essentially, for those who don't know. So, I could make a chicken burger and stick the tomatoes, cucumber, oregano and feta inside it and maybe top it off with some tzaziki. Mmmm, that would be tasty. perhaps I must experiment next week. I'll keep you posted!