Tuesday, March 30, 2010
I go through. Each and every day. With no concept of what's going on in the outside world.
(Case in point. Bill Clinton was here a few weeks ago. Having some work done on his heart. Security, apparently, was heightened. There were men in black suits. Everywhere. And. Well. I was totally oblivious. To think. That was happening across the street. So is it really a surprise to anyone that I have no idea what's going on in Bolivia or Nigeria? Didn't think so.)
Except for what I read on your blogs. Yes. You guys are my news source.
And so, really, I blame all of you for letting me find out about my newest television addiction. The show that has already proven to keep me up at night pondering the state of the world. And serves as a mighty fine distraction from learning the anatomy of the pelvis. (You would think that would be interesting. But there's something very disturbing about going into anatomy lab at 10pm only to find that your cadaver's genitalia have been cut. In. Half.)
Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.
Any other show on any other topic. And I would have shrugged. Gone back to reading about the structures that pass through Alcock's canal (pudendal nerve and internal pudendal vessels biotch). With fervor.
But a show. About nutrition. Featuring a cute chef with a British accent who is trying to save the world through food.
How could I resist.
I used to be one of those bloggers, you see. Who spewed information left and right about the virtues of kale. And quinoa.
I know a lot about quinoa.
And then we reached an impasse.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
Well. I chose the one with Bailey's infused tiramisu. And cream cheese frosting.
It was a whole I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints kind of deal.
But shows like Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution and the classes on nutrition that I've recently been forced to endure (which are reductionist and irritating. One professor the other day tried to tell me (a) that I would never change my metabolism. Even after losing 50 pounds, completely changing my lifestyle, and running a marathon. And (b) that you can't lose weight while still eating carbs. I am living proof that both of those are lies.) make me want to get back out there and educate.
They rev. Me. Up.
So I'm going to be honest with you. Brutally honest.
Do I eat cake. And cookies. And ice cream. Yes. Yes. And yes. Times five.
Do I have to work hard to do that and not become morbidly obese. Also. Yes. Yes. And yes. Times five.
I go to the gym. Six days a week.
I eat vegetables. At every meal. (And I love it. Just as much as I love cake.)
I take the stairs.
So here's the deal. You want to lose weight or maintain it or just be healthy in general? Awesome. I think you are awesome.
Do you need to cut out any major food group in order to do so? Or give up dessert for the rest of your life? Absolutely not.
Everything in moderation.
Especially when there are things like Healthy Bread In Five Minutes a Day out there. To really set you on the right track.
This week's recipes were the Carrot Cake Muffins and the Olive Spelt Bread. Let's start with the muffins. These were muffins in the sense that they looked like muffins. But they tasted like cinnamon raisin bread. Which is good. Really good. If you're expecting cinnamon raisin bread. And not so good if you are expecting dessert. So that is my disclaimer. On. That. I ate them covered in peanut butter (no surprise there).
Then there was the olive spelt bread. Which. I. Loved. (You can find the non-whole wheat version here and just basically sub spelt and/or whole wheat and/or white whole wheat flour for the AP flour.) I halved the recipe and am pretty sure I added in an extra cup of flour. Because I can't divide. By two. But I loved the resulting consistency, which was kind of like sandwich bread. Another secret to this bread - it replaces some of the water with Greek yogurt. Which made it incredibly moist.
I used kalamata olives in the bread instead green olives. And made sandwiches out of it. With mashed sweet potatoes and blue cheese. Strange. But good. Really good. (See what I mean about learning to crave vegetables?)
Check out the HBinFive round-up over at Big Black Dog on April 1st to see what everyone else did with their doughs!
Just a reminder. Giveaway. Here.
Regional Recipes: Ireland. You have until tomorrow at midnight. This is your final warning.
These breads have been yeastspotted.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
But after living in New York City for 23 years. You learn a few things. The ropes. You learn. The. Ropes.
So when Sophie, Adam, and I got into a cab the other day. And the first thing the cab driver asked was, "So which of you two ladies are single?"
Our gut reaction was to run.
But we'd already gotten in and Adam was with us. So we hemmed. Hawed. Rationalized. (Note - this is how people get kidnapped. Yes. You can still get kidnapped after the age of 20. If this happens to you. Run.)
So we told him where we were going. And hoped for the best.
A few seconds later. We are zipping along the FDR Drive.
He says, "Do you know who I am?"
This is not boding well.
We look at each other. Uneasily. Until finally Adam pipes up and says, "No. Who are you?"
(Best to let Adam do the talking. He has a penchant for chatting up cab drivers. The last cab we were in together, he got into a conversation with the driver about his favorite operas. Adam doesn't even like the opera. I'm not sure how he does it either.)
"I'm the Matchmaker Cab Driver!" he responded. Jovially.
Apparently, this guy, Ahmed Ibrahim, drives around and sets up blind dates for his single passengers.
Um hello people? Do you know what I am? Single. Very. Single.
So he starts asking us questions about our likes, dislikes, careers. The whole shebang. And I am answering left and right while visions of picket fences (in New York, Jo? Really? What are you, a suburbanite?), 2.5 children, and sugar plums dance through my head. ( I don't know where the sugar plums came from. I guess I was hungry.) I start to picture my future husband and I strolling hand in hand through Whole Foods, doing 20 mile long runs together, shopping for kids beds on the CSN website (aren't they cute?).
Then comes the real heartbreaker. He says, "Well, I wouldn't match you girls up anyway."
Um. Hold on. Stop the presses.
"I only match up girls over 26 and guys over 30. Otherwise you are just crazy, want one night stands. I'm looking for love."
Yeah well. So am I. But no amount convincing would get my new friend Ibrahim to take my number.
So. New plan. If I'm still single when I'm 25. I will give up riding the subway entirely, only use cabs (by then the subway fare will probably be so expensive that taxis will be cheaper anyway). Until Ibrahim and I meet again.
And until then. I'm going to have to pimp myself out.
My last resort. This is called. Pulling out all the stops.
Bacon cheeseburger. Topped with a fried egg. On a homemade bun. With pickled onions. (No ketchup. Remember. Ketchup = me projectile vomiting all over my kitchen. Not romantic. At all.)
Now guys. If that doesn't get you all riled up. I don't know what will.
Heck. I might even have to go take a cold shower.
So this week's recipes for Symon Sundays were The LOLA Burger (described above) and Fried Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts and Capers. There was also a recipe for pickling onions in there because that was one of the toppings for the burger. And I added in a recipe for homemade buns. Because of this whole no bread buying thing.
After eating these. I'm pretty sure that Michael Symon is my soulmate. So Michael. If you're reading this. Will you marry me?
Brussels Sprouts with (Pecans) and Capers
Serves 4, adapted from Live To Cook
NOTE - I didn't actually fry the brussels sprouts. I just couldn't. Instead, I baked them. I also used pecans instead of walnuts because I still have half of a huge bag of pecans that I bought from BJ's. And no bags of walnuts. And because I am trying to be somewhat frugal. I also cut out a lot of the olive oil.
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 4 salt-packed anchovy fillets, rinsed, filleted and minced
* 1 serrano chile, seeded and minced
* 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
* 1 tablespoon honey
* 2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced on the bias
* 1/2 cup pecan pieces, toasted and coarsely chopped
* 2 tbsp olive oil
* 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered lengthwise
* 2 cups loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
* 2 tablespoons salt-packed capers, rinsed and patted dry
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 400. Put the brussels sprouts on a baking sheet, spray with oil, sprinkle with salt and bake for 40 minutes.
Whisk together the garlic, anchovies, serrano, red wine vinegar, honey, scallions, walnuts and extra-virgin olive oil in a bowl large enough to toss all of the Brussels sprouts.
When the sprouts are done, mix them with the above ingredients, capers and parsley. Toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Master Pickling Recipe Using Red Onions
Makes 2 quarts, adapted from Live to Cook
* 2 pounds red onions, sliced
* White wine vinegar
* Kosher salt
* 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
* 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
* 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
* 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
* 4 garlic cloves
* 2 bay leaves
Pack the onions in 2 1-quart jars and cover with water to come within a half inch of the rim. Pour the water out into a measuring cup. Note the volume, pour off half the water, and replace it with vinegar. Add 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons salt for every 3 cups of liquid. Pour the vinegar mixture into a nonreactive saucepan, add the mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, coriander seed, black peppercorns, garlic, and bay leaves and bring to a boil over high heat. Allow the liquid to boil for 2 minutes, and then remove it from the heat.
Pour the hot liquid into the jars to cover the onions and screw on the lids. Refrigerate for up to 1 month.
The LOLA Burger
Makes 4, adapted from Live to Cook
NOTE - I used 96/4 beef. Only a pound of it. Don't look at me like that. I am cooking for one. Therefore I will be eating this every day. For four days. I would like to not have a heart attack in the next week or so. But Symon says to use 75/25. So feel free to do that. I won't judge you. Although I ate it with the requisite egg on the first day, I also cut that out for the subsequent burgers, hence why some of the burgers are sans egg. (The pictures came out better on the second day). I did. However. Use real bacon.
* 8 slices bacon
* 1 lb lean ground beef (or not)
* Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
* 4 thin slices cheddar cheese
* 4 hamburger buns, split
* 4 large eggs
* 1 dill pickle, thinly sliced
* 1/2 cup pickled red onion*
Build a medium-hot fire in your grill or preheat a stovetop grill pan.
Cook the bacon in a sauté pan over medium-high heat, turning once until crisp, 5 minutes. Remove the bacon to paper towels to drain. Reserve the bacon fat in the pan.
Form the ground beef into 4 patties, each about 3 ½ inches in diameter. Season the patties with kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Place the burgers on the grill or in the grill pan and cook for 3 minutes. Flip and top each burger with a slice of cheese. Grill for 3 minutes for medium rare. Remove to a plate. Add the English muffins to the grill or grill pan and toast for 1 minute.
Cook the eggs sunny-side up in the bacon fat while the burger rests.
Build the burgers by sandwiching them between the muffin halves along with pickle slices, red onion, bacon, and egg.
One-Hour Hamburger Buns
Makes 12, adapted from Once Upon A Plate
NOTE - these were good and buttery. I approved.
1 cup milk (I used almond milk)
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 egg, room temperature
4 1/2 cups flour (unbleached, whole wheat, or a mix - I used white whole wheat)
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Heat the milk, water, honey and butter until butter is melted. Check temperature. Depending on the temperature, let cool to 120F. Carefully beat in egg.
Mix 2 cups of the flour, yeast, and salt. Mix into the milk mixture. Stir in the rest of the flour, 1/2 cup at a time. Beat well after each addition.
When the dough pulls together, (it will form a soft ball) turn it out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. This should take about 5 minutes.
Divide dough into 12 -16 equal pieces. This will depend on the size you want for the finished bun. Shape into smooth balls, flatten slightly, and place on a silicone mat-covered baking sheet.
I cover loosely with plastic film and allow to rise for 30 to 35 minutes. When buns have almost doubled bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.*
These have been yeastspotted, Souper Sunday'ed, Simon Sunday'ed, and Side Dish Showdown'ed.
Onto the GIVEAWAY!
I have seen CSN giveaways around the blogosphere a lot in the past few weeks and so when they contacted me about featuring one here, I knew that it was something I wanted to take part in. After perusing their website for a while, I stumbled upon this All-Clad Stainless 12" Frying Pan!
I knew you guys would love this! So. Here's how you can win.
Leave a comment on this post. Answering the question. What was the best burger you've ever eaten?
I'm not going to do the whole Twitter/Facebook/Follow Me thing for extra entries. Since I don't use Twitter or have a facebook page for the blog, etc. And you're following me anyway, right? So no bonus points for that.
The giveaway will end a week from today, so get commenting! You do not need to have a blog to enter, but if you don't be sure to leave an email address where I can contact you!
Also, CSN can only ship to places to within the US, so sorry to all of my international readers!
Friday, March 26, 2010
Enough with the moaning and groaning. Just put away your books. Take out your pencils.
And no one. Will. Get. Hurt.
Hey. If I have to suffer through an exam every week. Then the least you can do is go down with me. It's. Only. Fair.
A piece of tiramisu comes to the emergency department of the hospital at which you are an attending and presents with a stab wound from a knife that entered through his umbilicus (i.e. what is approximately the center of his body). What layers did the knife puncture, in order from superior to inferior?
(a) external oblique fascia, rectus abdominis, rectus sheath, transversalis fascia
(b) Camper's fascia, Scarpa's fascia, rectus abdominis, transversalis fascia
(c) cocoa powder, vanilla-scented mascarpone, Bailey's- and coffee-infused ladyfingers, followed by another dreamy set (can you have too many) of vanilla-scented mascarpone, Bailey's- and coffee-infused ladyfingers
(d) peritoneal membrane, transversalis fascia, transversus abdominis, internal oblique
If you chose b as your correct answer. You sadly mistook your patient for a living, breathing person. Better go and study the difference between animate and inanimate objects. But good job on your human anatomy. If you're looking for a career in medicine, then I hear Cornell is accepting applicants. It seems that a spot has opened up since some crazy and reckless individual has decided to go to cooking school instead.
If you chose c. You are CORRECT. You've been doing some outside reading, I see. Well done my friend. Well. Done.
If you chose a or d. You obviously know nothing about either tiramisu or your own body. Yeah. I'm not sure what you've been doing with your time either. Nothing productive. Obviously. It's okay. You have a chance to redeem yourself. Make this tiramisu. Eat two pieces (if you can stop there) and call me in the morning.
What have you submitted for Regional Recipes: Ireland? I know St. Paddy's day has come and gone but, as evidenced by this tiramisu, Bailey's (and Guinness) can be consumed. Year. Round. So let's get to it! The deadline for submission is March 31. Please send your entries to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure you include a link to your recipe, a photo, and put a link to the event (i.e. my blog) on your post. Best news is - I will accept any Irish dish that you cooked for St. Paddy's day this year even if it was posted earlier this month. Just make sure you add in a link to the event!
Bailey's Irish Creme and Vanilla Tiramisu
Serves 9, adapted from Baking Bites
8 oz mascarpone, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 cup heavy cream, COLD
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup strongly brewed coffee, room temperature
1/4 cup Bailey's Irish Creme
2 boxes of ladyfingers (each of my boxes had 20...I think I used 35 in total)
unsweetened cocoa powder
1. In a mixing bowl, beat the mascarpone, confectioner's sugar, heavy cream and vanilla until combined, fluffy, and smooth.
2. Mix the Bailey's and coffee together in a bowl. Dunk a ladyfinger into this mixture (2-3 seconds) and then layer it into the bottom of an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish. Repeat until the bottom of the pan is covered in a single layer.
3. Spread half of the mascarpone mixture on top of this.
4. Repeat step 2.
5. Repeat step 3, adding all of the remaining mascarpone.
6. Dust with cocoa powder. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge overnight or at least 6 hours.
7. Serve to your sister for her thirteenth birthday. Or. You know. Eat it while sitting at home on a Friday night studying for anatomy. It's your call.
This is my submission to this month's Have the Cake!
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
It's clicking your ruby heels three times. And realizing that, no, you're not in Kansas anymore.
It's waking up to snow on Christmas morning. And believing in Santa Claus.
But sometimes. In some cultures. Realities. Universes. (Novels.)
It's not quite so benign.
Sometimes magic is loving someone for a lifetime. And having it never be quite enough.
Sometimes the timing is just. Off.
Sometimes it's realizing that requited love. Isn't the be-all and end-all. It's not perfect. And it doesn't solve everything.
And unrequited? Well. Let's not go there.
Sometimes. It's playing with fire. Feeling something with so much verve that it permeates everything and everyone around you. For better or worse. To the point that, in addition to your blood, sweat and tears, you find yourself inadvertently adding in bits of sadness, anger, rage, and joy into that wedding dinner you've just cooked for your sister.
Who is marrying the man you've loved all your life. Such that everyone who eats it is plunged. Headfirst. Into into the depths of every emotion you've ever felt on the subject. (Largely depression. Rage. Fury.) Realized or not. (Talk about emotional eating.)
Yup. That's magic for you.
Or. More accurately. Magical realism.
The kind of magic that is prevalent in Laura Esquivel's Like Water For Chocolate. A book whose plot and characters I found vaguely irritating. But whose ultimate message I loved.
That food holds more power over us than we would ever think or could ever know. It is linked to emotion. To memory. To love. It can make or break our day.
The right meal. At the right time. With the right combination of ingredients. Is worth a thousand words. Or more.
It is the universal language. Or so I like to think.
And so while I would love a little magic in my life. (All I've got right now is the magic of the fact that I only have one test this week instead of two.) There's always the danger that it won't be the magic of fairy tales and happy endings. But that of a little village in Mexico where nightmares as well as dreams can come true.
Instead. I'll just take the food. Which elicits a safer kind of magic. In its own right.
Spicy Grilled Chicken with Creamy Pumpkin Mole Sauce
Serves 4, adapted from Bon Appetit
1 dried ancho chile, stemmed, seeded and torn into large pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
1 white onion, sliced into rings
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 slice bread (I used whole wheat bread)
3/8 cup canned diced tomatoes
1 3/4 cup chicken broth
2 chipotle chiles in adobo
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup milk (I used almond milk)
1 tsp dark brown sugar
honey (to taste - I added this in. The mole didn't have quite the flavor that I wanted or imagined that it should have. I added probably a tbsp.)
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 lb)
Heat heavy large pot over medium heat. Add chile pieces; toast until aromatic and lighter in color around edges, pressing with potato masher or back of fork and turning pieces, about 2 minutes. Set aside one 2-inch piece of chile for garnish; transfer remaining pieces to medium bowl. Cover chiles in bowl with hot water; soak until soft, about 30 minutes.
In same large pot, heat 1 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add onion rings and garlic. Sauté until brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer to processor, leaving oil in pot. Add bread slice (cut off crust) to pot; cook until golden, about 30 seconds per side. Transfer bread to processor (reserve pot). Add tomatoes to processor. Puree mixture until smooth. Transfer tomato puree to small bowl (do not clean processor).
Drain ancho chiles and place in processor. Add 1/4 cup broth and 1 chipotle chile. Puree until smooth.
Add ancho chile puree to pot; cook until puree thickens and darkens, stirring often, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add tomato puree. Simmer until thick, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Whisk in pumpkin and 1 1/2 cups broth. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until mole thickens and reduces, about 15 minutes. Whisk in milk and sugar (and honey). Season to taste with salt.
Puree 1 tablespoons oil and 1 chipotle chile in small processor or force through sieve to make thick glaze. Transfer to bowl. (Mole and glaze can be made 3 days ahead. Cover separately and chill.)
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat) or George Foreman grill. Rewarm mole. Spread chipotle glaze thinly over both sides of chicken breasts. Sprinkle chicken generously with salt. Grill until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to plates. Spoon mole over each. Crumble reserved ancho chile piece; sprinkle over chicken. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and lime.I served this with asparagus one day. And sweet potatoes the next. Just simple and roasted.
This is my submission to this edition of Cook the Books!
Also. One thing I did really like about Like Water For Chocolate was the home remedies that it had littered throughout the text. Perhaps my favorite was that for a home cure for burns (since I am constantly burning myself. Will I ever learn that trying to pick up a baking pan out of the oven with my bare hands is not a good idea? Probably not.) Potato peel. It apparently keeps the skin moist without sticking and thus is better than a bandage or even traditional dressing. This is my submission to the Home Remedies Event which is being hosted over at Ruchika Cooks!
Monday, March 22, 2010
Joanne. Psst. You are supposed to be writing about strawberries.
Yeah, I know. Give me a second.
Imagine 17 of my closest friends at dinner. For my birthday. (I'm a little bit late with this story, I know. I'm backlogged on interesting things from my life to tell you about. Or boring things from my life that I'm making interesting by exaggerating to the point of ridiculousness. You be the judge.)
Imagine that some of these people had pregamed for dinner. (Yes. In med school, we pregame things like eating French food. I use the term "we" loosely. I pregame for nothing. I also use the term "nothing" loosely.)
And do you know what happens when you pregame for dinner? You find tomatoes to be absolutely intriguing. Enigmatic. Incomprehensible.
"But is it a fruit or a vegetable?"
Fruit. Easy. It has seeds. We've known this since...second grade or so.
"But what about cucumbers. Or avocadoes. Or (and here's the point at which I started really listening) pumpkins."
This is where things started to get interesting. Smart phone use spread like wildfire up and down the table. (Really. You can't take them anywhere.)
Finally. Someone. I think it was Adam. Found an answer.
A fruit, according to Wikipedia, is the ripened ovary (seeds included!) of a flowering plant. (Talk about timing. Do you want to guess which part of the anatomy we are studying right now in class? And for the record, 23-year-old boys giggle at the word genitalia just as must as 7-year-olds do. They also think the word "sphincter" is hilarious. And let me tell you. There are a lot of sphincters in biology. Talk about disruptive.)
Green beans? Fruit.
Bell peppers? Fruit.
And our little friend, the strawberry? What does it have to do with all of this? How did it get mixed up in all of this reproductive system confusion?
Well. I hate to tell you this.
But the strawberry is neither a fruit nor a vegetable.
You see. It's seeds are on the outside. And so, botanically speaking, it is not derived from the plant's ovaries but from the receptacle that holds the ovaries (the peritoneal cavity of the plant world).
Making it an accessory fruit.
A tragic case of identity crisis if ever I've seen one. It's a good thing we didn't actually come across this little tidbit of information at dinner. I don't think the pregamers could have handled it.
A few weeks ago, Megan of Feasting On Art (one of the most innovative blogs out there) announced that for her one year blogiversary she was going to hold a recipe contest. Megan's posts combine food and art by featuring paintings and the food creations that they have inspired. Her first post was centered around a still life by Renoir and so she decided that for her blogiversary it would be fun to feature another of his still life's, this time the above painting which is entitled Strawberries. Not only that, but she challenged all of her readers to come up with dishes that were inspired by this as well!
When Megan told me about this challenge, I immediately knew I wanted to do a savory dish. Sure, strawberries are traditionally served as dessert, but as we learned above, convention is really just a figment of the imagination. I recalled from the recesses of my memory seeing a post by Natashya months and months ago about a strawberry pesto pasta salad that she had made. With this idea in hand, I decided to combine the pesto with an orzotto (kind of like a risotto but with orzo. The dish would work with arborio rice as well. Orzo just happens to be cheaper and I really like the texture.) As I was making the pesto, I decided to add in some cinnamon and balsamic vinegar to bring out the acidity and sweetness of the strawberries. All in all, a really tasty dish and one that will be perfect in the coming months when fresh and delicious strawberries will abound.
Strawberry Balsamic Pesto Orzotto
1/2 package of frozen strawberries (or about 2 cups of fresh strawberries...should you be lucky enough for them to be in season)
1/3 cup almonds
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
basil, to taste (I think I used about 1 cup)
2 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (or to taste)
1 pinch of cinnamon
salt, to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup white wine
4 cups chicken broth
1 lb orzo
1. Puree all of the ingredients up to (and not including) the chicken broth.
2. Heat the chicken broth until it is simmering.
3. Heat olive oil in a pan. Add the orzo and saute for 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Add the white wine to the pan. Stir. When it is almost all evaporated, add in 1/2 cup(-ish) of the chicken broth. Stir. When this has almost evaporated, add in another half cup. Rinse. Repeat.
4. When the orzo is cooked through, shut the heat and stir in the pesto. Salt to taste.
I am also submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights which is being hosted this week by the Savoury Specialist over at Our Taste of Life.
I would also like to thank Ruth, the creator of Presto Pasta Nights and author of the blog Once Upon A Feast for bestowing upon me the Happy 101 Award. Ruth's was one of the first blogs that I ever read (even before I had one myself) and so to have her even mention my blog on her site is kind of like having a celebrity chef (Tyler Florence perhaps) tell you that your food tastes good. So thanks a bunch Ruth!
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Close your eyes.
You are going to get very sleepy.
Oops. Wrong Game. Let's try this again.
Keep your eyes closed.
Now. Hand over your wallet.
Hmmm. That's not quite it either.
Third time's a charm?
Hold out your hand.
I am going to reach into my Bag O' Esoteric Meats here. I am going to hand you something. Rabbit, pheasant, quail, elk, boar, buffalo. No telling what it might be.
And then you are going to rush over to your corner of the kitchen. Unwrap whatever it is that I handed you. And cook a dish for 13 people.
Keep. Your. Eyes. Closed.
Chicken? Of course there's no chicken. What do you think this is, a Walgreens? We run a high end establishment over here. If you want chicken, you can go to your local Olive Garden, order the chicken parm and never come back. Seriously. Whoever is afraid to expand their culinary horizons. Leave. Now.
Alright good. I think we got rid of the weaklings. Can you believe that? Chicken, she mutters, shaking her head.
Shake it off, Jo. Shake. It. Off.
Here's the point where you either start to back away. Slowly. Or say, Ok. What the hell is going on.
Let's go with the latter.
You see. I know Christo.
Christo knows Marx Foods.
Marx Foods said to Christo. Let's make a deal. You gather some of NYC's best bloggers. In a kitchen. In Manhattan. And we will send you meat. And dried mushrooms. And dried chiles. And vanilla beans. And flavored sugar. And then you guys will cook it. And eat it. The end.
How could you not agree to that? So that's how I found myself in a kitchen yesterday afternoon in NYU's nutrition department (thanks so much for hosting us!) with Christo, Christy, and Kian. Cooking meats that I had never cooked before. And then eating meats that I had never eaten before.
Christos and I chatted about it beforehand and felt that the best way for us to use all of the ingredients in as varied and interesting a way as possible would be if we made the dishes tapas-style so that everyone could get a small taste of everything.
I was in charge of the sausage (rabbit, pheasant, and lamb merguez). Kian took the quail, osso bucco, oysters, and veal ribs. Christy attacked the lamb ribs and pork chop. And Christo worked his magic on the kobe sirloin, kobe burgers, boar ribs, and boar tenderloin.
Yes. We had enough food to feed a small army. In fact. I like to think of us as a kind of military unit. Fighting the good fight against boring food.
With the pheasant sausage, I made a pumpkin risotto with nutmeg, cinnamon, roasted garlic and mascarpone. First, I cut a head of garlic in half. Wrapped each half in aluminum foil and roasted them at 400 for 45 minutes. Then I scooped out the cloves and mashed them together.
I heated some olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat and sauteed a box of arborio rice for about 2 minutes. In the meanwhile, I set a box and a half of chicken broth (about 6 cups) to simmer on the stove. Little by little, I added the chicken broth to the arborio rice, constantly stirring, only adding more when the last bit had just evaporated. When the rice was tender, I mixed in a can of pumpkin along with the roasted garlic, about 3 tbsp of mascarpone, and salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon to taste. I spooned this into ramekins, which I then placed in a 250 degree oven to keep warm.
Grilled the sausage, sliced, and plated as shown above. Done.
Christo had prepped the polenta for me before I got there (he mixed it with some of the fabulous dried mushrooms that Marx Foods had sent us along with a mix of cheeses, cooked it, spread it out onto a baking sheet, and popped it in the fridge so it would semi-solidify.)
Now as an Italian, there was no way that I was going to cook a variety of sausage dishes without including broccoli rabe in there somewhere. (Especially since pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe is possibly the only dish that my mother made that I still dream about. Incessantly. I might need a cold shower.)
So what I did was, thoroughly washed a bunch of broccoli rabe. Sauteed it in some garlic (6 cloves), olive oil, and red pepper flakes. Salt and peppered to taste.
Grilled the rabbit sausage. Sliced.
Cut the polenta into rounds using a cookie cutter. Heated in a 350 degree oven until warm. Topped each polenta round with a piece of broccoli rabe, and a slice of sausage. Eat.
Last up. Homemade pasta with cinnamon-scented tomato sauce. I made the cinnamon sauce posted here. Except instead of keftedes, I removed the lamb sausage from it's casing and sauteed it, adding it to the sauce as it was simmering.
Then, Christos helped me to mix up my first batch of homemade pasta dough! We combined a pound of semolina dough with five eggs and a bit of water until it felt right. (Christo said it felt right. To me. It just felt like sticky dough.) Ran it through a pasta roller until it was thin enough. Then ran it through the fettuccine cutter of the pasta roller. Boiled for about a minute. Topped with sauce. Again. Ate.
All in all, I would say the evening was a definite success.
I learned a lot (how to make pasta, that I probably like cinnamon way more than the average person, that I should definitely plan more when cooking for a large crowd instead of just trying to roll with it). Had some really good, thought-provoking conversation (about food. And blogging. And more food. Sorry friends. Bloggers tend to have one-track minds.) Got to eat some new foods. And all in all just had a. Good. Time.
So thanks to Christo for organizing this and getting me involved, Christy and Kian for showing up and cooking, and Justin at Marx Foods for sending us the goods. Hope we can do it again sometime! Be sure to check out the other blogs in the next few days to see what they cooked.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Before the 12 weeks of winter squash. And even before that weird month this summer where I was obsessed with eggplant.
There was one vegetable. And one vegetable only. (Yes I used to be a proponent of monogamy. But who has the time or the energy to commit themselves to one thing for the rest of their lives. Run rampant. Taste the rainbow. Just make sure you use protection. I don't want anyone coming back and accusing me of giving them E. bola just because they decided to eat some unwashed fruit that was imported from some non-descript third world country. "But Joanne told me to do it!" No. There will be none of that. Also. Don't drink water from a local stream either. Cholera is not fun. I know. I learned about it.)
That could make my eyes roll back in my head and have me waxing poetic about the virtues of the color orange.
The. Almighty. Sweet potato.
Now I could tell you a lot about the sweet potato. Starting with the fact that it's not actually a potato. (It's part of the morning glory rather than the tuber family.) Or that it is the most nutrient-dense vegetable out there.
But I highly doubt that you came here today because of some intense desire to learn more than you ever wanted to know about our good friend, Ipomoea batatas. Didn't think so.
You want food. And who am I to stand in the way of that?
When I heard about the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission's Sassy Sweets Blogger Recipe Challenge. I knew I had to enter.
Yes ladies and gentlemen. That is correct. The queen of sweet potatoes. Has. Returned. (You should be afraid. Very. Afraid.)
I've seen baked sweet potato falafel around the blogger world for a long time. So I did some research. Read the recipes. Had a little conversation with my bag of sweet potatoes (yes that's what the extra dollar for organic gets you - talking root veggies). And came up with this recipe.
Honestly. If you're a sweet potato lover. It doesn't get any better than this.
Baked Sweet Potato Falafel with Tahini-Yogurt Sauce Over Asparagus and Barley
Serves 4, adapted from a lot of places
For the falafel:
1 1/2 lb sweet potato
1 1/2 tsp cumin
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 bunch cilantro
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup chickpea flour
salt and pepper to taste
sesame seeds for sprinkling
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Poke the sweet potatoes with a fork and bake until soft, 30-45 minutes. Remove them and let cool, then peel (eat the skins) and mash the sweet potato flesh in a bowl with the remaining ingredients (except for the sesame seeds). Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Let the mixture sit in the freezer for 20 minutes.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray it with cooking spray. Form the sweet potato mixture into about 12 falafel balls (or more, depending on how large you want them). Place on a baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the outside is crisp.
For the tahini-yogurt sauce:
Mix 1/4 cup tahini paste with 1 cup of greek yogurt (I used non-fat), 2 cloves of minced garlic, and 1/2 of a lemon's worth of juice.
Roast 2 pounds of asparagus in the oven (400 degrees, 10 minutes). Cook some barley in your rice cooker.
Plate out four portions of the barley, top each with asparagus, three sweet potato falafel, and 1/4 of the tahini-yogurt sauce. Enjoy.
I am also submitting this to this week's BSI hosted by Natasha of 5 Star Foodie!