Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Have you ever just stood in front of your kitchen table and screamed?
Next time you're angry or upset about something. You should do it.
It's life altering.
Sophie and I have gotten into this habit of "shaking it out" whenever we're upset.
It's a very technical procedure. In which you move your arms and legs every which way, flailing around your apartment (or 1st Avenue) like a lunatic, forcing everyone around you to consider the possibility that you're seizing.
If no one has called an ambulance by the time you're done. You're not doing it properly.
We're talking more than just spirit fingers or jazz hands here, people. Your arms should almost be coming out of their sockets. Go big or go home. That sort of thing.
Anyway, in addition to recruiting every emergency medical team within a five mile radius, "shaking it out" also has the effect of putting a smile on your face. So do it. Come on. Get happy.
What does this have to do with screaming at your kitchen table?
Well. I was under the impression that no event that could befall a person would be too big, too all encompassing for "shaking it out".
Then I got $6,000 worth of rejected insurance claims in the mail from my myriad MRIs, X rays, orthopedist and physical therapy visits.
And so I screamed.
In the end. "Shaking it out" paled in comparison.
After about twenty calls to every billing department at the Hospital for Special Surgery, I think we may finally have figured out the problem. It has something to do with the fact that my school insurance is completely negligent, worthless, and unwilling to actually cover anything at all whatsoever. And me having to switch to using my father's insurance, under which I'm still (thankfully) covered. By virtue of the fact that I'm under 25 and still in school.
Another perk to this being, of course, that should the claims get rejected again they will be sent to my parents' house rather than mine. So if you hear some really loud screaming in Queens. You'll know what that's about.
The moral of all this being that while all of this was still up in the air, I needed comfort food.
And by comfort food. I mean pasta. I should tell you that it had been two weeks since I'd had pasta. Two. Weeks.
Which, really, is enough to induce kitchen table screaming all on its own.
And so when I found some locally grown green beans and grape tomatoes at my nearest Whole Foods. A pasta salad was born.
Although it tastes better cold the day after you make it, I have to say that I really did like it. It would be perfect to bring to a 4th of July barbecue this weekend. Or a Canada Day affair tomorrow. (I'm an equal opportunist when it comes to Independence Days).
Or, you know. If you feel an urge to stand in front of your table and scream. It's good for suppressing that as well.
I am submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights, which is being hosted by Ruth over at Once Upon A Feast as well as to Deb for Souper Sundays and to Two For Tuesdays!
Roasted Green Bean and Fennel Pasta Salad
Serves 4 as a main dish, 8 as a side, adapted from Got No Milk
1 lb pasta
1 lb fresh green beans, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
2 medium onions, sliced thinly
1 small fennel bulb, sliced
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
12 pitted kalamata olives, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400. Arrange the green beans, onions, and fennel on a baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray or drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and roast for 20-25 minutes or until tender.
2. Cook pasta under al dente. Drain and place in a large serving bowl. Mix in tomatoes, olives, and roasted veggies.
3. Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Drizzle over the pasta salad and toss to combine.
REMEMBER, THIS IS YOUR LAST DAY TO SEND IN YOUR REGIONAL RECIPES SUBMISSIONS! EMAIL THEM TO JHBRUNO87@GMAIL.COM.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Every girl should have a little brown dress.
She should wear it to one of her best friend's weddings.
She should learn to salsa and meringue in it.
She should dance with a groomsman in it.
Then, after a whirlwind night of dancing, eating, and sharing the love.
Slightly buzzed. High on homemade wedding vows and mothers who officiate at their daughter's wedding, and thus are able to wipe the tears from their daughter's cheeks as they say and receive aforesaid wedding vows. Stuffed with champagne, hot pepper jelly cheesecake, sweet potato casserole, and french toast bread pudding cupcakes (yes, there were cupcakes instead of wedding cake...someone knew I was coming). Itchy with mosquito bites dotted every which way (a small price to pay for being in the vicinity of something so everlasting).
She should fall asleep in it.
Similarly. Every girl should have a stash of frozen cranberries. Maybe not seasonal anymore, but frozen from a time when they were absolutely exploding from every corner of the supermarket. Begging. Take me home. Cherish me. Love me.
So that she can whip them out the morning after the little brown dress was worn. Maybe while still wearing the little brown dress. (Okay, maybe not seeing as how she had to get back to New York from Natick, Massachusetts first. That would be one LOOOONG walk of shame.)
And create something that tastes like comfort food. Something to come home to.
At least for this girl. Who lives and breathes in shades of little brown dresses and cranberry ginger bar bites.
And what to do if you are this kind of girl (or guy) but have no little brown dress with nowhere to wear it to even if you did? Or did not think ahead and stuff your freezer full of bags of cranberries this past November like a crazy person just so you could feel Thanksgiving in June?
Easy. Wear shorts. Use raspberries.
I won't tell.
Cranberry Ginger Bars
Makes 1 8x8 pan, adapted from Vanilla Garlic
1 bag frozen cranberries (2 1/2 cups)
1/3 cups plus 3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1 tbsp orange zest
3 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
pinch of salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup brown sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease baking pan with butter or cooking spray.
2. Place cranberries, sugar, brown sugar, ginger, orange zest, and vanilla in a large pan. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Boil for five minutes or until reduced and syrup-like. Stir once in a while to prevent burning. Take off heat and cool.
3. Sift together flour, salt, cornstarch, and ginger.
4. Cream the butter with the vanilla and brown sugar. Add in the flour slowly and mix until just incorporated.
5. Press 2/3 of the dough in to the prepared pan. Pour the cranberry filling on top. Crumble the remaining dough over the top. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top begins to brown. Cool on a wire rack. Cut and serve.
These were so gingery delicious that I am submitting them to this week's Weekend Herb Blogging, which is being hosted by Anh from Food Lover's Journey!
Speaking of hosting...
YOU HAVE UNTIL THE END OF THE DAY ON JUNE 30TH TO SUBMIT YOUR REGIONAL RECIPES: GREECE SUBMISSIONS! EMAIL THEM TO ME AT JHBRUNO87@GMAIL.COM. SEE HERE FOR DETAILS ON HOW TO ENTER.
Friday, June 25, 2010
With the power vested in me.
By the city of New York. The state of New York. The country of the United States. The northern hemisphere at large.
I now pronounce it.
Okay, so the "official" start to summer was supposedly on Monday. But actually. No one consulted me on that. So I've decided to have it annulled.
And start over. Do it up right this time.
For two reasons. The first being that I want to practice saying things like "with the power vested in me". One of my good friends is getting married this weekend. Just outside of Boston. And, you know, there will be a priest and all. But what if something happens such that the priest can't make it? Someone needs to be prepared to officiate at the ceremony.
I'm on it.
The second reason being that up until yesterday. I found the weather to be totally bearable.
Sure, it was hot. But my apartment has a knack for remaining remarkably cool, even through the hottest of hots. In addition to which, I personally have a knack for remaining remarkably cool, even through the hottest of hots. (Yes, there is something seriously amiss with my hypothalamo-pituitary axis.)
But yesterday? Yesterday was rough.
I felt like vomiting when I walked outside. I almost couldn't make it to the salon to get my hair cut (but after a year of not being cut. I had to grab the bull by its horns. Just do it.).
And so you can bet that the second I made it back to my apartment. I ran for the AC switch. (Given the current state of my stress fractures. I'm not supposed to run. Anywhere. But trust me. This was entirely necessary.)
Hence why. Of all the days. I have declared this one. To be. Summer.
However. Once I had sufficiently cooled down to the point that my shirt was no longer sticking to my back. I thought.
Well. So long as the AC is on. I might as well turn the oven up to 500 and make some pizza. Right?
After taking inventory of my fridge and freezer, I discovered some turkey sausage and some LOCAL zucchini that I had bought from Whole Foods earlier this week. A quick Google search brought me to this zucchini-sausage pizza, a recipe that was published by Bittman in The Minimalist in July of 2000.
And if Bittman can bake pizza in the middle of summer. Then damn it. So. Can. I.
And what can I say about this other than that it was actually. Mind blowing. Not something that you would expect given it's simplicity. But trust me on this one. If you do anything with the mounds of summer squash that are going to be knocking down your door in a few weeks. Making this pizza. Should. Be. It.
This is my submission to this week's IHCC, the theme of which is Summer Lovin'! It is also going to Our Krazy Kitchen's Birthday Bash! Because who doesn't love a pizza party!
Makes 1 12-inch pie, adapted from The Minimalist
3 cups AP flour
1 tbsp yeast
2 tsp coarse sea salt
1 cup water
2 tbsp roasted garlic-infused olive oil
1. In a small bowl, mix together the yeast with 1/4 cup lukewarm water. Add a pinch of sugar.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour and sea salt. Add in the olive oil, 3/4 cup lukewarm water, and yeast. Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough gets too stiff, then incorporate the rest of the flour with your hands. Knead for 5-10 minutes. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise for 2 hours.
3. Flour the dough, form it into a ball and let it rise on a floured surface, covered with a damp cloth, for 20 minutes. Stretch out on a pizza peel, parchment paper, or baking sheet.
Serves 4, adapted from The Minimalist
3 medium zucchini, sliced thinly
coarse sea salt
2 spicy Italian turkey sausage links, cases removed
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
freshly ground pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees, with your baking stone already inside the oven (if using).
2. Mix the zucchini with the salt in a large bowl and let sit for 20 minutes. In the meantime, heat a small nonstick skillet and saute the sausage, breaking it into crumbles with spatula as you go, until it is cooked through,
3. Rinse the zucchini and pat dry. Layer the zucchini slices on your pizza dough. Sprinkle the sausage on top, along with a tad bit of salt, some parmesan cheese, and freshly ground pepper.
4. Bake for 15 minutes or until nicely browned.
This has been yeastspotted!
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
I am going to live. In this apartment. In this room. For the next four years.
I am going to live. In New York. Within a five block radius of exactly where I am now. For the next seven to eight years.
(Unless I get married. To a fine gentleman who whisks me away. To Brooklyn. Or the upper west side. The kids and I will go for walks in Prospect or Central Park. I will carry things like parasols and wear things like shawls and say things like dahling. It will be lovely.)
As probable as all that is.
Like I said. I will be living in this exact room. For the next four years.
And so after one year of pretending to live here. Faking it. Not quite believing that it was real.
I decided it was time to move in. Fo realz yo. (As my little sister would say.)
And when people move places, do you know where they go?
I'll give you a hint.
It's a dangerous place. I had to slay a few dragons to get there. Bargain with a few Norse gods. Eat a few lingonberries. Pledge allegiance to the Scandinavian flag.
Yes, the store that strikes fear into the hearts of impulse shoppers worldwide.
Sophie and I went on an expedition there this weekend. We expeditioned through some Father's Day traffic en route to Long Island. And then we expeditioned through the store. And then we expeditioned our way back to the car with many pounds of bookshelves and pretty plates and a lamp and a wine rack and cake decorating stencils (what! They were ninety-nine cents. How could I resist something like that?). And then we expeditioned our way through dinner and dessert with my family (and by expeditioned, I mean epic journeyed). And finally we expeditioned our way back to our apartment.
Where we then began carpentering.
Did you know that I could carpenter? Because I didn't. In fact, I was pretty sure I didn't know the difference between a hammer and screwdriver. (Although last time I checked, there was some intrinsic link between GETTING hammered and DRINKING screwdrivers.) But guess what. When you buy bookshelves from IKEA. You don't need to know the difference. Because the instruction booklets use pictures. Not words.
After a day of carpentering. I was on a roll. So I made this sweet corn and wild mushroom soup.
And using my newfound carpentering strength. I CRUSHED a strip of bacon over the top. Seriously. I pummeled that bacon. It was satisfying.
Then, to top it all off. I got around to reviewing Tyler Florence's California Chardonnay Marinade that I was sent through BloggerAid, a group that tries to raise awareness and money to fight famine worldwide. I marinated some pork in it. For hours. Many hours. Then I threw it on the George Foreman. The way that carpenters are inclined to do.
And it was tasty. Very. Tasty. A little bit of citrus and vinegar. Sweet mixed with tang. Something to keep on hand for those days when you're not really sure what you want to marinate your meat in. But then you open up the cupboard and there it is. Major kudos to Tyler for supporting such a great cause and making such great products and to BloggerAid for saying, hey, Joanne might like this. Cause I did.
This soup is a Michael Symon recipe (surprise surprise). And what is interesting about it is that he has you first cut the kernels off the corn and then make a stock with the stalks. Then, once you have your corn stock, you simmer that with the corn kernels for almost an hour. Puree it, mix it up with some sauteed mushrooms (LOCALLY GROWN). And CRUSH some bacon over the top. Maybe I just got some especially good ears of corn (also LOCAL), but their sweetness mixed with the saltiness of the bacon. Was really good. So good that I am submitting it to Souper Sundays, hosted by Deb of Kahakai Kitchen. And to the blog hop going on over at Two For Tuesdays. And Ashlee will post it in her Symon Sundays round up. In two weeks. This soup is getting around. Like yo mama. Just kidding.
Sweet Corn and Wild Mushroom Soup
Serves 6, adapted from Symon's Live To Cook
Corn Cob Stock
6 ears of corn
1 red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 sprigs thyme
1 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted
2 quarts chicken stock or water
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 cup almond milk (Symon calls for heavy cream)
1 recipe seared wild mushrooms (take 1 lb of mixed wild mushrooms, saute them with olive oil, salt, thyme, shallots and garlic)
1/2 cup crumbled, cooked bacon
1. Cut the kernels from the cobs of corn and set them aside, in a bowl. Toss the cobs into a large pot with the onion, garlic, thyme, coriander, stock, and salt. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Strain the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer, discarding the solids. There should be about 4 cups. You can store it in the fridge overnight. (I did.)
2. Heat oil in a small pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and sweat it for 2 minutes. Add the corn kernels and sweat, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 3 minutes. Add the thyme, stock and milk, and simmer for 45 minutes.
3. Puree with an immersion blender (Symon says to remove have the corn and puree that in a blender. But I decided I wanted it to all be pureed.). Divide the soup among six bowls. Garnish with mushrooms and bacon.
Disclaimer - Although I received the marinade for free, I did not receive any monetary compensation for doing this review. My thoughts and feelings on it are entirely my own.
Send in your recipes to this month's Regional Recipes: Greece! E-mail: email@example.com.
Monday, June 21, 2010
I am sticky.
I am sticky because it is humid. It is so humid that my stress fractures hurt and, if I weren't already committed to becoming a
I could seriously give Mr. G a run for his money.
I am sticky because I really enjoy doing things that involve turning the oven on in ninety degree weather.
So my oven is on. In ninety degree weather. Constantly.
I am sticky because I just licked my way through a batch of bread pudding batter.
Because if you're going to be sticky anyway, you might as well get your hands really full of bread pudding batter. And then spend the afternoon taste testing the aforementioned batch of bread pudding batter. For quality control purposes.
You wouldn't want to poison your father on Father's Day. After all.
Blueberry White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Amaretto Cream Sauce
Serves 8-10 (more. Way more.), adapted from Emeril Lagasse
4 large eggs
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups almond milk
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 loaf of homemade mixed berry bread from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a day plus ten muffins made with the mixed berry bread dough (i.e. 6 cups 1/2-inch cubed day old bread). Yeah. I made bread just to put it in bread pudding. I'm a rock star.
6 oz white chocolate chunks
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup amaretto
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1. Mix together 2 cups heavy cream, 2 cups almond milk, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate, blueberries, and bread. Let sit in the fridge overnight or, if you're in a rush, for at least 30 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 350. Butter a 9x13 inch baking pan or a 9-inch cake pan plus 1 ramekin. The ramekin being solely for picture taking purposes. The 9-inch cake pan being because you can't seem to locate your 9x13-inch baking pan. It's a strange world in which we live.
3. Pour the bread/egg mixture into the prepared pan. Bake until firm when pressed in the center, about 1 hour for the 9x13-inch pan, 1 hour and 20 minutes for the 9-inch cake pan, and 40 minutes for the ramekin. Let cool on a wire rack.
4. For the cream sauce: In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the amaretto. Scald the cream over medium high heat. Add in amaretto slurry, whisking constantly, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and add the sugar. Whisk until dissolved. Let cool to room temperature.
5. Serve warm or cold.
This is my submission to the HBinFive round-up that will be hosted over at Big Black Dog on June 30th! It has also been yeastspotted!
Send in your recipes to this month's Regional Recipes: Greece! E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, June 18, 2010
At the gym earlier this week. I decided to take a census. I was on the elliptical. Reading about fungal infections (don't I lead a wild and wacky existence). When all of a sudden, it just popped into my head as something I ought to do.
So I walked around the room, from cardio machine to cardio machine and asked each person (in-between intensity intervals of course. I'm not quite ready to deal with MIs yet. Or cardiac arrest. But I can listen for heart sounds. I won't know if they're irregular. But I can hear them!).
"Are you a man, woman or both?"
This is New York City. Assume. Nothing.
And after the first few blank stares. When the tension in the room got thick enough to cut. With a knife.
I went back to my elliptical. And counted.
This is New York City. Assume. Everything.
And what I found was. That for every one man in the room. There were NINE women.
Now. I could interpret this data in two ways.
The first being that all the guys who live around here are so fit that they don't need to work out. Wrong. Everyone needs to work out.
More women than men are proactive about their health.
(Now I don't mean to offend any guys out there. And I'm actually pretty sure that most of the men who are reading this are proactive about their health. Because if you care what you are eating, then you probably care about your body. And so you probably try to get in the recommended 50 minutes of aerobic activity five days a week. Hint. Hint.)
But let's be honest. You're in the minority. Both in the food blogging world, and, apparently, in the world as defined by the New York Sports Club on 76th and 1st.
Now. I don't like to get didactic on here. But we're currently smack dab in the middle of Men's Health Week. And seeing as how I like men (for the most part). A lot. In fact, I kinda sorta hope to be married to one someday. And I kinda sorta hope he'll go to the gym. And won't die of atherosclerotic plaque before age 100. And will be able to have really great sex with me from the day we get married until the day we die.
So I readily agreed when Steve Jasper, a regular blogger at Gymsource, asked if he could put in a few words on Eats Well With Others about the importance of diet and exercise in men's health. (Scroll down for the recipe or read on if you so desire!).
"Every year, Men's Health Week falls on the seven days prior to Father's Day. The significance of this event would mean nothing without first realizing that one's health is not only a measure of the lifestyle you lead, but how you stay in shape as well. A fraction of men are regular gym-goers who work out tirelessly with exercise equipment in order to keep their bodies healthy and active. Men realize that working out serves a more important function than just biulding muscles. Working out can help you improve your body image, self confidence, and even add years to your life.
Men's Health Week (June 14-20th) is a week of awareness involving health issues and diseases for men that easily can be averted with early action, treatment, and healthy prevention. It's no coincidence that Men's Health Week leads right up to Father's Day because Father's Day is where we celebrate a man we love and wish nothing but health and happiness to. yet, how can more men be proactive in staying healthy and avoiding illness and health issues? Well, a good place to start is to be educated about how to use the gym, and exactly how important it is to do so. A bette rknowledge of how to properly exercise is integral to fighting obesity and improving your health.
However, there are plenty of great foods men can eat that will help them be healthier and avoid obesity. Incorporating foods like blueberries (which are loaded with antioxidants) and sardines (not for everyone, but they are nutritious) can change a man's attitude and drive. Additionally, other great foods men can snack on are nuts, which are full of vitamin E. Rice is also a good source for your vitamins, potassium and zinc. Even smaller foods are great to add to your diet in order to make things run smoothly. For example, sesame seeds are great for a man's sex drive because they are rich in amino acids. Amino acids, as you may know, are the building blocks for your body's proteins. Eating the right food can even affect your mood, which has been seen with edamame or soy beans, for example. When you are fulfilling your dietary needs, you are less likely to succumb to binges on junk foods. Getting on the right diet and eating foods that help maintain a healthy body is one of the most important steps a man can take towards staying healthy and avoiding obesity. Of course, the other half of the equation is keeping a good workout routine.
Steve Jasper is not a medical expert. If yo have any serious medical concerns, please consult a qualified medical professional before undertaking a new fitness regiment. Steve is a contributing blogger from Gymsource who writes on all topics related to fitness equipment and much more.
Also, still don't know what to get the father in your life for Father's Day? Check out Matt's site, which is entirely devoted to neckties! I think it is just the cutest thing. There's even a whole post on CAKES in the shape of neck ties. Crazy!
So. In honor of all of this Men's Health business. I thought I would cook something that I thought exemplified a well-balanced, healthy meal. Spanakorizo is a traditional Greek rice dish that contains spinach, a nutritional superstar in and of itself, as well as parsley and dill, which have been shown to have TONS of vitamin C and iron. It tastes JUST like spanikopita but without quite so much guilt. I served this with falafel, a traditionally deep fried chickpea "burger" that I turned healthy by baking. Chickpeas and other legumes are an excellent source of lean protein. And not only are they tasty, but they are a LOT cheaper than meat. The difference is exorbitant.
Serves 4, adapted from Closet Cooking
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 lb spinach (or 1 bunch)
1 cup rice
2 1/2 cups broth
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup dill, chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup feta
salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat the olive oil in a medium pan. Saute the onion for 5-7 minutes or until lightly brown. Add in the garlic for 1 minute. Add the spinach and cook until wilted.
2. In the same pan, add the rice, broth, parsley, and dill. Allow the mixture to come to a boil, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Serve in bowls, topped with feta.
Falafel with Cilantro-Yogurt Sauce
Serves 4, adapted from The Bon Appetit Cookbook
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup chopped onion
5 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 15-ounce cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained (or 1 cup dry chickpeas, cooked. I used black garbanzo beans that I received from MarxFoods!)
3 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 large egg
Whisk yogurt, 1/2 cup cilantro, 1/4 cup onion, 1 garlic clove, lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne in medium bowl to blend; season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Blend garbanzo beans, 3 tablespoons flour, cumin, remaining 1/2 cup cilantro, 4 garlic cloves and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne in processor until almost smooth. Add egg and remaining 3/4 cup onion and blend, using on/off turns, until onion is finely chopped. Transfer mixture to bowl; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Shape mixture into four 1/2-inch-thick patties. Turn patties in remaining 1/2 cup flour to coat on both sides.
Preheat the oven to 350 and bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve topped with cilantro yogurt sauce.
The spanakorizo is my submission to Regional Recipes: Greece! (HINT HINT. Email me your submissions by June 30th!) And with all of that parsley and dill, the falafel is going to Weekend Herb Blogging which is being hosted by Rachel of The Crispy Cook!
Happy Father's Day and have a great weekend!
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
I was pretty sure avalanches could only happen in places with mountains. The Rockies. The Alps. Some location that is not New York City on a Tuesday afternoon.
But I experienced one. Yesterday. In my apartment. And all I had to do was open up my freezer (lucky me).
That's the beauty of a New York apartment. It's a wilderness unto itself. You can go on a hiking expedition complete with near death experiences and wildlife encounters (I've been known to spot an ant or two) while wearing nothing but a pair of pajama pants and an old t-shirt. All without leaving the comfort of your own home! (How's that for a real estate ad).
Right. So I opened up my freezer. For what I'm not quite sure anymore. And no fewer than three containers of last summer's pesto. Attacked me.
I considered taking out a restraining order. But then I spotted the bags of frozen cranberries in the back. Waiting to pounce. And so I decided that maybe that wasn't the best tactic. Especially given that the cranberries were foaming at the mouth.
(Differential diagnosis - rabies. Caused by rhabdovirus. A negative sense ssRNA virus that enters through the muscles and then migrates to the central nervous system where it exerts it's deadly and toxic effects. There's a vaccine, but still. I'd rather not take my chances.)
So rather than close the door as quickly as I could and run away screaming (which, honestly, was what my first impulse was). I thought I would do something crazy. Something unheard of in the Eats Well With Others household.
Sure, it's almost June 21st. And I am just days away from summer vacation. (Vacation? Ha. As an MD-PhD student that word is not part of my vocabulary. Unless you consider three months of working in a lab "vacation". Which. Actually. After a year of medical school. I kind of do.)
But better late than never right?
So I vacuumed. Dusted. Organized some papers.
Had delusions of remodeling. Ogled a vanity on the CSN website (I swear, frequenting that site is just as bad as going to Ikea. Possibly worse. Thankfully my wallet was safely stocked away in the kitchen. And I was far too tired from dealing with the avalanche to go get it.) Started researching feng shui and which color combinations would really be best for centering my qi.
And as for that pesto? I showed it. I threw it into a rice salad along with some cherry tomatoes and locally grown asparagus. A dish that satisfied my every spring craving.
Good thing, because summer's coming. And I have grand designs on stealing (err...borrowing...) as much basil from my dad's soon-to-be flourishing plants as possible.
Yeah, cranberries. You should be careful what you wish for. Because before you know it, it'll be cranberry season again. In which case. You're next.
Pesto Rice Salad
Serves 4, adapted from Bittman's How To Cook Everything Vegetarian
1 cup rice (Bittman suggests arborio, but I used white because it's what I had on hand)
1/4 cup pesto (I used this one)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 lb asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces
1. Cook the rice as directed on the package. In the last five minutes of cooking, add the asparagus to the pan.
2. Mix with the pesto, red wine vinegar, and cherry tomatoes. Add salt to taste.
Spicy Stuffed Peppers
Serves 4, adapted from Symon's Live To Cook
NOTE - I should say that I completely revamped this recipe. Symon specifies that one should use Hungarian hot peppers or banana peppers, which I couldn't find. He then says that in dire situations you can use poblanos but NOT bell peppers, as bell peppers are too big. Well, when I saw baby bell peppers at Trader Joe's, I decided to use them. Since they were most definitely NOT too big. I also threw in some anaheim chiles for a bit of spice! I also served these as a main dish, while Symon serves them as an appetizer. With the pesto rice salad, this worked out perfectly.
1 package of baby bell peppers (about 8? They are super tiny) from Trader Joe's
4 anaheim chiles
1 lb spicy Italian turkey sausage (Symon calls for pork or Italian sausage)
2 cups tomato sauce
fresh basil, to garnish
1. Preheat the broiler. Cut the tops off the peppers and spoon out any seeds. Divide the sausage into 8 equal portions and spoon it into the peppers to fill them. Char the peppers underneath the broiler. Remove them from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 375.
2. Pour the sauce into an 8x11-inch baking dish. Lay the peppers on top of the sauce. Bake for 10 minutes. Divide among the plates, spoon some sauce on top, and garnish each with a basil leaf.
The pesto rice salad is my submission to IHCC this week! The theme of which is Dining with Dad. The one herb I can get my dad to eat with any regularity is basil and then, only in pesto! So I figured this was perfect. I am also submitting it to Reeni's Side Dish Showdown and Deb's Souper Sunday. The stuffed peppers will be featured on the Symon Sundays round-up on Monday!
Monday, June 14, 2010
I have some of my best blog ideas in the shower.
Maybe it's because I think better without clothes on (which would actually be a shame because then I am seriously not living up to my full mental potential).
Maybe it's because this balsamic and black pepper syrup was so earth shatteringly delicious that I wanted to bathe in it. Maybe I did bathe in it.
And so maybe it's that I really have my best blog ideas when smothered in balsamic and black pepper syrup.
Does this call for a randomized controlled double blinded clinical trial? I think so!
(Any excuse to make these again.
I have more excuses if you want to borrow some. It's Monday. And cloudy. Or. It's Monday. And I have two exams this week. Or. It's Monday. Take your pick.)
You see. This month over at Have the Cake it was my turn to choose our theme.
So I hemmed. And hawed.
And after all that hemming and hawing. I was kind of sweaty. (Okay YES the majority of my hemming and hawing took place at the gym. That's the only time I have for introspection.) So I took a shower.
While showering, I realized I don't take part in as many food holidays as I would like to. And I would really like to. Because then you guys end up posting fabulous things and saying "HAPPY "insert random food here" DAY!". And I feel kind of like that kid running after the school bus. Saying, "Hey, wait for me! I wanted to celebrate peanut butter day too!"
So for once I took matters into my own hands.
Ready? Here goes.
HAPPY STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE DAY!
Didn't remember it was strawberry shortcake day? Have no fear. Over at Have the Cake it's strawberry shortcake month. So you've still got fifteen days. Or so.
Time to get baking.
Serendipitously enough. It is also MY MOTHER'S BIRTHDAY! Happy birthday Mom!
And yes, she was the welcome recipient of these babies.
Ever the enabler, I believe her direct quote upon tasting them was, "Maybe you should have been a baker."
If only, mom. If. Only.
Strawberry Shortcakes with Balsamic and Black Pepper Syrup
Serves 8, adapted from Bon Appetit
2 cups flour
5 tbsp sugar, divided
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick butter, cut into small pieces and chilled in the freezer for 20 minutes
1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
1 large egg, beaten to blend (for glaze)
2 lb fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
6 tbsp sugar, divided
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 large pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 425. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, 4 tbsp sugar, and salt. Cut in the butter until until it resembles large peas. (NOTE - Bon Appetit has you do all of this mixing and cutting business in the food processor. My roommate took our food processor with her when she left for CA and so I had to do it by hand. No biggie.) Add the cream, cutting it in until moist clumps form. Using your hands, form the dough in to a ball. On a lightly floured work surface, flatten it into an 8x4 inch rectangle. Cut it in half lengthwise, then widthwise into four equal strips making 8 biscuits in total. Transfer to the baking sheet. Chill in the freezer for 20 minutes.
2. Brush the top of the biscuits with the egg wash. Sprinkle the last tbsp sugar on top. Bake until biscuits are golden brown and a tester inserted comes out clean. Bon Appetit says this takes 15 minutes but in my oven it took around 22.
3. Mix the strawberries, 5 tbsp sugar, balsamic vinegar and black pepper in a medium bowl. Let macerate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, stirring every ten.
4. Using an electric mixer, beat the heavy whipping cream, vanilla, and 1 tbsp sugar in a chilled bowl until peaks form.
5. To assemble, cut each biscuit in half horizontally. Layer on a scoop of whipped cream and a scoop of strawberries. Cover each with top half of biscuit. Try to restrain yourself from drinking the leftover vinegar syrup. Give in and drink the leftover vinegar syrup. Or bathe in it. Your call.
I am also submitting this to Two For Tuesdays, a new blog event that celebrates REAL FOOD. Seeing as how every part of this was homemade, I think it qualifies!
Saturday, June 12, 2010
(Or so they teach us. In medical school. At least. That was the take home message that our class on "how to be a good, empathetic, professional doctor" left us with. Along with a take home final. They left us with that too. Personally, I would have given both back in exchange for my time. But that didn't seem to be an option.)
So when things started to go crazy.
When a tornado watch was issued for New York City.
When I watched an entire hour of the 6 o'clock news at the gym and didn't get bored.
When the Empire State Building Lighting Partner Program decided that, although it's okay for them to honor such "non-controversial" (ha) figures as Mariah Carey and Mao Zedong. Mother Theresa? Out of the question
When I got a runner's high from a spin class. (Okay it was a spin class, an abs class, and an upper body class. Two solid hours of sweat. Exactly what I needed to make me truly happy for the first time since...November. Not that I haven't been happy. But running was just...my life. And having it taken away was slightly soul-crushing. So you can imagine how shocked I was when I found myself positively GLOWING after spinning. And then again after I woke up the next day and was sore in places that I forgot you could be sore in. I missed that feeling.)
I made the executive decision that.
So long as hell was freezing over.
I might as well eat butternut squash. In June.
And so I did.
And when you smell the squash baking? When the smell of pumpkin pie is permeating every cell in your body and making it swoon? You will swear it is November again and that you've just gotten home from a 20 mile run. And that you have never been happier.
Pie-Spiced Roast Butternut Squash
Serves 4, adapted from Seasonal Ontario
2 tsp coriander seeds, ground
1/4 tsp black peppercorns, ground
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 large butternut squash
1 tsp vegetable oil
1. Preheat the oven to 400.
2. Ground the seeds and mix together the spices, from coriander through ginger.
3. Either cut the squash into dice or cut it in half. Rub the oil on the squash (or toss it if using diced squash). Rub the spices onto the squash (or toss).
4. Bake for 40 minutes or until squash is fork-tender.