Monday, December 1, 2008

Bolognese for a cold house

With Thanksgiving weekend comes the annual Muffin family tradition of closing down the country house. But this of course follows 3 or so days of staying there in the freezing cold. There's a reason we only go out in the summer, basically, there's no central heating and the house is about as airtight as swiss cheese (haha, get it?). So on the first night, when the Muffin parents, Beatz, Maple Leaf, and me were shivering inside an icebox of a house (the temp was about 45 degrees after a few hours of running space heaters) I decided we needed some comfort food, to warm you from the inside. And there's nothing heartier than a Bolognese, in my humble opinion. So I went back to my Williams Sonoma Italian cookbook (one of them) to find the perfect recipe. And voila!

1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
just under 1 lb ground beef
1/2 c fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 c white wine
5-6 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper
1 1/2 lb fresh fettuccine

Place porcini in lukewarm water to cover, soak until softened, approx 20 minutes
Drain and squeeze out excess water, slice
Melt the butter and oil over medium heat
Add the carrot, celery, onion and cook until very tender (15 minutes)
Add beef and 2 tbsp parsley, raise heat to high. Cook 3-4 minutes
Add porcini and wine, cook, stirring often until the wine evaporates
Add the tomatoes, nutmeg, salt, pepper and 1 cup water, reduce heat to low
Stir well, cover and simmer until sauce reduces considerably, at least 1 hour

Toss with fresh pasta and sprinkle remaining fresh parsley over top.

Monday, November 24, 2008


So I've been kinda busy, and thus not, ever. But hey, this muffin's got a new job that's not giving me much time to do anything, let alone cook. But a few weeks ago, I had a chance to sit and breathe and watch some tv. And I made a major breakthrough on on my road to liking mushrooms, and it's all thanks to Madame Ina Garten. I haven't taken a recipe from tv in a while, my food network watching has kind of dropped off a bit, but I happened on the Hamptons Food Queen the other day and found this sauteed mushroom recipe. And it's pretty super yummy actually. The parsley added at the end makes it fresh and light, but the heartiness of the mushrooms makes it almost a main dish (if you don't have any meat lying around that is). And remember to add a lot of salt, the mushrooms just absorb it right up.

3 shallots, chopped
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
5 tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic
1/2 c parsley, chopped

Melt 2 tbsp of the butter over med-high head until it bubbles. Saute the shallots in the butter until soft. Add the remaining 3 tbsp butter. When the butter has melted add the mushrooms and salt. Cook the mushrooms until the liquid has evaporated. Add the garlic and more salt and cook for a couple minutes until softened. Add the parsley and serve. Nom nom nom...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hoisin Pork Loin

Since I've been having a minor love affair with the grill this summer, I set my sights on pork loin. I was just waiting for something to be on sale...and eventually I walked in and there was a 3 lb pork loin with my name on it. It went into the freezer and I was waiting for the perfect time. Last weekend, as I spent most of the time staring at the amazing leaves (oh yeah, it's foliage time on the East Coast), I realized that grilling was soon not going to be an option, so I better jump on the opportunity. I looked through my Williams & Sonoma grilling books (of which I've sung the praises before on this site) and discovered the recipe below. (I of course changed it a bit because I have to tinker with everything, my changes are reflected below.) I thawed the pork, and upon opening the package, discovered it was actually two! I debated only doing one, but luckily decided against it. We ate one, and I've been making yummy sandwiches with the other all week. The recipe for those are here for you too.

Hoisin Pork Loin

1 c hoisin sauce
3 tbsp dry sherry
3 tbsp honey
3 tsp sesame oil

3 lb pork loin (or loins)

Combine marinade ingredients and bring to a boil over low heat. Simmer 5 minutes or until thickened. Marinate the pork for at least 1 hour, up to 1 day.

Grill until a meat thermometer reads 150, approx 10-20 minutes depending on the thickness of the meat. Slice into slices approximately 1 inch thick.

Pork Loin Sandwich

Toast two slices of wheat toast (or your favorite kind). Take two slices of pork loin and slice very thinly on the diagonal. Place on bread and pour hoisin mixture over it. Top with red onion slices and lettuce.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Stuffed Mushrooms

As I've mentioned before, I'm now in possession of two awesome grilling cookbooks, so this past summer I began experimenting with slapping whatever I could find down on the grill (ie-here and here).  And to mostly good results, I mean, this is how we've been cooking things for thousands of years, right?  How hard can it be?  (I'm resisting a Geico caveman joke here, you're welcome).

I was feeling particularly adventurous one day, and I came across this recipe for stuffed mushrooms and zucchini.  Basically you take the mushrooms stems and the scooped out insides of the zucchini, chop them up with some other things and make a stuffing.  Once their insides are back in them, throw them on the grill.  I found, however, that the zucchini didn't work so well on the grill.  Their skins got tough and difficult to chew, while the insides were undercooked.  So I simplified and decided to throw everything in the mushrooms, including entire zucchinis.  The one downside is you tend to end up with an abundance of stuffing, but there are worse things.

I also learned that these can be roasted.  The reason I know this is that one day, after preparing these tasty treats for the grill, well...let's just say there was some serious rain.  I heard that roasting something at 400 is approximately the same (at least temperature-wise) as grilling it.  So I gave it a shot and yay!  It worked.

12-15 large white mushrooms
2 tbsp olive oil
2 zucchini, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 c bread crumbs
1 tbsp fresh oregano
1/4 c heavy cream
salt and pepper

Remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop finely. Heat the oil over medium heat. Saute the mushroom stems, zucchini, onion and garlic until tender and any liquid released from the mushrooms is evaporated. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine the vegetable mixture with the oregano, bread crumbs, and heavy cream. Add the bread crumbs and cream gradually, so as not to get too much of one or the other. The mixture should be moist, but stick together a bit. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Brush the tops of the mushroom caps with olive oil and then fill them with the bread crumb mixture. The stuffing should form a heaping mound on top of the mushroom.

Roast (at 400) or grill mushrooms for approx 15 minutes, until they are tender when pierced with knife. If you are roasting them, sprinkle some more bread crumbs over the top before placing them in the oven. This should give them a slightly crispy top.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Poached Chicken Soup

I'm definitely not ready to let the summer go, but this weekend I actually made the first soup of the season.  I couldn't help myself, it poured all day (thanks Gustav)!  I managed to make it to the store, getting soaking wet in the short walk from door to car, and all I wanted at that point was soup....and not just any soup, Chicken Soup!  I mean, there's nothing more comforting on a dreary day that some chicken soup, am I right or am I right people.  I mean, there's a reason that Campbell's turns the profit it does.

But there was no way I was going to crack open a can of soup and call it a day.  I remembered a poached chicken soup I made from this book (which is awesome btw).  This recipe is great because it's an upscale version of your standard chicken soup, that doesn't lose the heartiness and comfort food-iness of it all.  Whole pieces of chicken are added, I prefer to use dark meat, though the poaching actually keeps the white meat pretty moist as well.  I, however, am unashamedly biased toward dark meat, so sue me.  The parsley added at the very end gives it a fresh taste and the simple broth holds it all together.  I recommend serving in wide shallow bowls.  Place a piece of chicken in the bowl and spoon the broth and vegetables over the top.  Serve with garlic bread.

Poached Chicken Soup (adapted from Quick from Scratch Soups & Salad Cookbook)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
3 red potatoes, cubed
6 chicken pieces (of your choosing, though I don't think wings would really work), skin removed
2 pints + 1 c water
1 bullion cube
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 c parsley, chopped

Heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrot and celery.  Saute until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the potatoes, chicken, water, bullion, bay leaf, and thyme.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is done and potatoes are tender (20-40 minutes, depending on size of chicken pieces).  Add the parsley and serve.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

um...definitely nommable

I've noticed on this here blog that I've kinda been slacking in general, but more specifically slacking in the meat department. Considering I call myself a rabid carnivore, this really won't do. I tend to go more simple on the meat and more creative on the veggies and other sides. My reasoning behind this is simple, if it came from a quadriped it's probably naturally tasty. I'm speaking mostly of the cow, pig, sheep family, my knowledge doesn't go much farther than that. I don't have a damn clue what I would do with bison or venison for example. But back to my point, meat is good to begin with, it doesn't need much to make it awesome. That doesn't mean, however, that a well-placed marinade or glaze can't do wonders. And since I am now in possession of not one, but two Williams Sonoma Grilling Cookbooks, each entirely unique and full of all sorts of tasty treats, I have been experimenting. So I'm here to share the wealth.

To put this in context, Mama Muffin and I were taking a little trip to the supermarket to prepare for some gigantic meal we were about to embark on. We entered the meat aisle and immediately saw the ribs....on sale. Even though a 3 1/2 lb slab of ribs would be nowhere near enough to feed the masses, we bought them anyway and into the freezer they went. Now, I've never cooked ribs before so I decided to go with a relatively simple recipe. Less is more, right? I tweaked the recipe only the tiniest bit, my changes are below. And 3 1/2 lbs is the perfect amount for four people (remember, most of it is bone).

Mustard Glazed Ribs (adapted from Williams-Sonoma Complete Grilling Cookbook)

3 1/2 lb slab of pork spareribs
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 c honey
1/2 c dijon mustard
1/4 c cider vinegar
1/2 tsp ground cloves

For the sauce: heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onion until translucent, approx 5 minutes. Add the honey, mustard vinegar, cloves and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside.

For the ribs: Prepare the grill. Salt and pepper both sides of the slab of ribs. Grill covered for 20 minutes on each side. Brush the sauce over one side and cook for 10 minutes. Turn and brush the sauce on the other side, cook for a final 10 minutes. Pass the remaining sauce at the table.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Chunky Salsa

As I've mentioned before, I'm not so much a fan of the spicy food. This presents a bit of a problem in the appetizer arena as chips and salsa are about as basic as you get. I have experimented with trying to find a suitable salsa that doesn't need a jalapeno pepper or any such thing. The basic problem I think, is that when you take out the spicy, there isn't a whole lot left in the flavor department. But then I came upon this cookbook called Stonewall Kitchen Favorites. (That picture on the cover btw is a lobster blt. No, I haven't made it yet and yes, I really really want to.) Inside this book of tastiness, I came upon a recipe for a fresh tomato salsa, complete with a jalapeno. However, with a little tinkering, you get the following recipe. Lots of flavor with out any nasty mouth-searing.

6 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
5 scallions, chopped, including both white and green parts
1/3 c cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lime (approx 2 tbsp)
4 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and serve. Don't chop the vegetables too finely, leave them chunky (thus the name). This salsa goes really well with Tostitos Scoops, they pick up the veggie chunks and the juice they sit in perfectly. And they're not even paying me to say that (though if they wanted too...).

Monday, August 18, 2008

Fried Green Tomatoes

Now that we are well into August, it's officially jersey tomato, yay.  (If you're unlucky enough to not have experienced the awesomeness that is jersey corn and tomatoes, I'm truly sorry, you're really missing out.)  But to make it even better, as I walked into a gardening store of all places, there was a huge tomato display that included a whole crate of green tomatoes.  Upon seeing them I knew I had to make Fried Green Tomatoes.  I mean, how could I pass that up, they were perfect.  Bright green and hard as a rock, just right.

I was first inspired to make FGT after (of course) the movie of the same name.  My love of Mary-Louise Parker was truly cemented with that movie (only to grow with her current Weeds endeavor, but I digress).  But as one can imagine, finding green tomatoes...I mean really green ones, not just a bit pretty difficult unless you live on a tomato farm.  My first attempt was a few years ago.  I found some mostly green tomatoes and decided to give it a shot.  They were ok, but not great.  The tomatoes were too ripe, giving the finished product a slightly too sweet taste.  Not to mention they were all mushy and didn't hold their shape at all.  But my second attempt was much more successful.

I scoured the interwebs for a perfect recipe (which I couldn't find).  Below is my composite of like 10 or 12...and it worked out perfectly.  Crunchy corn meal-y crust with a tart center...pretty f-in awesome if I do say so myself.

4-5 green tomatoes
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 c half & half
1 c cornmeal
1 c flour
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 c olive oil

slice the tomatoes into rounds, approx 1/2 inch thick
combine eggs and half & half
combine 1/2 c flour with cornmeal, garlic powder, salt and pepper
dredge tomatoes in remaining flour, dip in egg mixture, and dredge in cornmeal
fry over medium high heat, the oil should come 1/2 inch up side of pan (preferably a cast iron frying pan)
3-4 minutes per side until brown and crispy

Monday, July 28, 2008

What to do with stale bread

add garlic of course!

I hate keeping bread in the refrigerator.  In fact, I don't like keeping most things in the fridge unless they absolutely have to be there...bread, fruit, onions, potatoes, etc etc.  But the upshot of this is that I end up with a lot of either moldy or stale bread.  Now, try as you might, there's just nothing to be done with moldy bread...and I'm pretty sure that's the bad kind of mold, so chuck that shit right out.  But just seems so wasteful!  Now if I was feeling frisky I guess I could make a bread pudding, but considering I rarely crave sweet things and pretty much always crave garlic, this makes much more sense.

Garlic Bread

1 loaf stale bread, preferably a baguette
1 stick butter
garlic powder
assorted herbs such as oregano, basil, chives, thyme, rosemary, etc.

Melt the butter in the microwave until liquid
Add the herbs to the butter
Slice the bread lengthwise
Spoon the herb butter mixture over both sides of the cut bread.  Sprinkle liberally with the garlic powder.
Close the two halves of the bread and wrap tightly in tinfoil
Bake at 375 for approximately 20 minutes or until the bread begins to be toasted.

UPDATE for the lazy: Garlic Toasts

slice stale bread and lay out on a cookie sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with chopped garlic.  Put under the broiler for about 3-5 minutes (keep an eye out though, they'll burn really quickly).  These go really well with a white bean dip.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Get Drunk in the Woods, vol 3

Ok, this is the last installment, and then I will have covered most of that feast, or at least what I can remember of it.

As for the couscous salad, there are so many variations on the theme. Some people insist on adding tomatoes, which I thoroughly disagree with. Now don't get me wrong, I have love for the tohmaht, but in the salad they get all over everything with their mushy juiciness, no thank you. And then if there's any left over, they just don't keep well, just my humble opinion. The other direction people take couscous salads includes things like raisins and pine nuts. Give me fresh veggies over that any time. I'm just sayin'.

I also put a recipe for an orange and red onion salad. Seems like a strange combo, especially since you're supposed to add fresh ground pepper, but it actually works out beautifully. Just make sure you have enough onions for the orange. They tend to go faster for some reason.

CousCous Salad

2 c couscous
1 English cucumber, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 scallions chopped, including white and green parts
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
3/4 c olive oil, or to taste
2 tbsp champagne vinegar, or to taste
salt, to taste

Combine the couscous with 2 cups boiling water. Cover and let sit at least 10 minutes, until the couscous has absorbed all the water. Fluff with a fork. Add the remaining ingredients thoroughly mix to combine. Add more olive oil, vinegar and salt to taste. Don't be afraid to use the olive oil liberally, the couscous absorbs it right up, and no one like a dry salad.

Orange and Red Onion Salad

10 navel oranges
2 or 3 medium red onions
3 or 4 stalks fresh oregano
olive oil

Slice the skin off the oranges and then cut into rounds
Slice the red onions into rounds
Arrange the oranges on a platter and cover with the red onions
Remove the oregano leaves from the stalks and scatter on top
Drizzle with olive oil
Season with pepper

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Get Drunk in the Woods, vol 2

Ok, so here's the next installment, a couple of apps for my legions of adoring fans.  Now, as I've mentioned before, the muffin family evening always starts with martinis (or recently mojitos as well) on the deck.  This of course is followed by feasting, it's just how we do.  So now that the summer is in full swing, I've been working on my hors d'oeuvres (side note: I can't believe I spelled that right, but the red dotted line has yet to appear!) so that everyone can make it through to dinner.  Last year I bruschetta-ed it out every time, and finally perfected that recipe.  But of course, because life is inherently unfair, now apparently tomatoes are fatal or something, and I don't want to be knocking off all my friends and family members just because they couldn't resist a tasty snack.  So a couple things I've been experimenting with are below.  First, my new favorite snackable - Pita Chips!  Now this is one of those things where the first time I made them, they were truly awesome.  And of course, since that time, I've been trying to recreate exactly what I did and haven't found the perfect formula.  It all depends on the combo of herbs, so it's kinda a crapshoot.  But they've never been bad, and it's more fun than just chucking some tortilla chips in a bowl.  They also go perfectly with the other recipe I've got there, White Bean Dip. mmmmmm.

Pita Chips

pocketless pita bread
assorted fresh herbs, chopped (oregano, chives, basil, and thyme are what I've used, though it might be interesting to throw in some rosemary, sage or even tarragon if you're feeling frisky)
chopped garlic
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400
Combine the chopped herbs and the garlic in a bowl
Cut the pita bread into wedges and place on a cookie sheet
Brush the top of each wedge with olive oil
Sprinkle the herb/garlic mixture over the top
Salt the chips liberally
Pour a bit more olive oil over the top of the herbs if they're looking dry
Cook for 5-7 minutes, keeping a close eye on them because they will burn!

They get crispier and act more like chips the longer you bake them.  I personally like them more bread-y, so I don't usually cook for more than about 5 min.

White Bean Dip

2 cans cannelini beans, drained
4 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
4 tbsp olive oil
juice from 1/2 to 1 lemon, to taste
salt, to taste

Combine the ingredients.  Mash together until somewhat smooth, but with some of the beans holding their shape.  Serve with pita chips!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Get Drunk in the Woods, vol 1

This past weekend was my birthday, so I invited some of the muffin peeps come out to the compound for a celebration lovingly named "Get Drunk in the Woods". And as you may imagine, we were successful in our endeavor.  But of course, there had to be food too!  Unfortunately I didn't have my camera out to document so you'll just have to use your imagination. Of course, if anyone in attendance would like to provide photo proof of the food, I'm all ears. But I'll give the at least 2 parts (there was a lot). And of course, because of the wonderful things brought by members of the muffin family, I won't be able to get it all. But here's a start:

White Bean Dip (appetizer)
Pita Chips (appetizer)
Chicken Legs marinated in soy etc
Sirloin Steak marinated in this beef marinade
Tomatoes and Mozzarella with Basil and Dressing
Oranges and Red Onion Salad
CousCous Salad

There was also the addition of various things I don't have recipes for which included an amazing skewered shrimp dish (there were 80 shrimp if I remember correctly), a salmon and potato dish, and a massive shrimp cocktail platter (appetizer), among other things.

So to begin, the chicken, which apparently was a hit. I made the marinade for 26 rather large chicken legs, so I've halved it here. My latest discovery is that using soy as a base for the marinade is equivalent to brining the meat. Amazing, I know. So here's the chicken:

The Awesome-est Chicken Marinade

3/4 c soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp chopped ginger
3 cloves garlic, chopped

Marinate. The longer the better, but no need to do it a day ahead. I marinated for about 7 or 8 hours. Grill (preferably delegate this out, as I successfully did to Muffin's grill-tastic friends, thanks guys!)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

how to eat well while using as little heat as possible

The heat wave that descended on the city over the weekend pretty much guaranteed that there wasn't going to be a whole lot going on in my kitchen. In fact, there was very little going on throughout my apartment as all I could bring myself to do was sit on my fire escape drinking white wine with tons of ice as I basically just sweated it out. Sounds lovely, don't it. So instead here's a dish I made a few weeks ago. It's about as summer-y as you can get while still served warm. I took this recipe from Food & Wine's Pasta Book but changed it to my liking. Less citrus, more if I would do any differently. Look at those nice plump cloves there awaiting their fate:

And looking at this, I bet this mixture would make a pretty good salad dressing too:
And the finished product. Not exactly the most beautiful dish, but trust me, perfect for the summer.

zest of 2 lemons
zest of 1 orange
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 c parsley, chopped
1/2 c olive oil

Combine all ingredients. Cook pasta until al dente and toss with the mixture.

Easy as pie (though who ever said pie was easy?).

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Grilled steak and asparagus

So I'm going to give this whole picture thingy a try. I know, I know, no one likes to read, and who doesn't like looking at pictures (and of food at that). But one thing to keep in mind is that I am pretty unbelievably lazy, so we'll see how long I can keep this up.

Now on to the food! Since the spring/summer weather has officially hit (YAY YAY YAY YAY) I've adopted various habits that I pick up around this time every year. These include a constant iced coffee craving, complete inability to concentrate at work, etc etc, but this year I've added a new one....asparagus. Yep, I've been eating asparagus basically every day since the tasty little spring spears have appeared in the grocery store. I wonder if it's possible to eat too much asparagus, someone let me know if I start to turn green. And this past weekend, I got the opportunity to try skewering these little spears and throwing them on the grill. And of course, just to round out the meal, there's a nice juicy steak. mmmmmmm.

The recipe below is adapted from Gourmet.


1/4 c oyster sauce
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, chopped

Brush the asparagus with the glaze before placing them on the grill. Grill until tender, about 5-8 min depending on thickness.
Brush the remaining glaze onto the steak and grill away!

Monday, May 19, 2008

German Potato Salad

Another trip down memory lane, just in case anyone cares. When I was living in the middle country, during Muffin: The College Years, I had this huge back porch/back yard (ok, huge for large apple standards so I guess that's not saying much) that was made for grilling. And so my cohorts and I would have these backyard, grilled-meat extravaganzas as soon as the usually nasty weather became slightly less so. A bunch of tasty little numbers (referring both to the dishes and their owners) would appear each time. Anyway, one time a friend brought by this amazing concoction...resembling a potato salad but with...BACON...(and no mayo....blach). This is when I was introduced to German Potato Salad. It's the same as that gloppy mess that normally appears at your average grill session, well, only if say you think the big mac is the same as a Royale burger (who's with me?). It can be served warm, room temp, or cold, garnished with scallions and/or chives, what's not to love. So I went on a mission to find the perfect recipe, and believe it or not, the Joy made it happen. So behold, German Potato Salad (adapted from the Joy of Cooking, I made a few changes)

I haven't made this since I discovered a better way to make bacon, so you can use whatever method you like best, just as long as it gets super crunchy.

6-8 large baking potatoes
1/2 lb bacon
1/2 c onion, chopped
1/2 c celery, chopped
1/4 c chicken stock
1/2 c cider vinegar
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp dry mustard
4 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
4 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (or chives if available)

Boil the potatoes until tender, remove from water and peel (it's usually possible to just remove the skins with your fingers). Chop into bite-size chunks and add to a large bowl.
Cook the bacon (stove-top or in the oven), but make sure it's in a pan that will save the drippings. Crumble and add to potatoes.
Add the celery and onion to the reserved bacon fat and saute. Add chicken stock, vinegar, paprika, dry mustard and salt and bring to the boiling point. Add this mixture to the bowl and stir to thoroughly coat the potatoes. Sprinkle the scallions and parsley over the top before serving.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

by request - even more taters!

Well, I bet you didn't know this, but I take requests...or at least I do now. I recently got a request from a dear member of the muffin fam for the following recipe. This is a super-easy one I throw together whenever I need a quick starch dish. You know, all of a sudden you go to get out that loaf of bread you just bought and it's sporting a small green civilization on it's crust....mmmm, mold. So what's next? Well, potatoes. It's rare that I don't have a few lying around, considering they last longer than anything else I keep in the fridge. So here's a quick and super tasty tater dish.

Note: The smaller and fresher the taters the better. My favs are the spring new potatoes, red or white skinned. If you use larger ones, just use less, though I would advise against anything with a thick skin (like a baking potato) because you'll probably end up peeling them and that's just no fun at all.

5 or 6 small potatoes
6 or 7 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
1/2 stick butter

Boil potatoes until tender when pierced with a fork. Drain. Add the chopped scallions, butter and salt to the pot and cook over med-low heat for a few minutes, until the scallions soften. Meanwhile, roughly chop the potatoes into bite-size pieces. Add them back into the pot and stir to coat with the scallion mixture.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Pasta With Broccoli, Roasted Garlic and Pine Nuts

I always like a challenge (ok, so that's not really true)....I occasionally like a challenge. Now, normally when I have veggie guests over, I keep the sides veggie and then create some sort of alternative for the entree. The other day however, this here rabid carnivore created not only an entire vegetarian meal, but an entire vegan anything is possible, right? The centerpiece of this extravaganza is the following pasta tastiness.

I've recently discovered the awesomeness that is roasted garlic. Now we all know how much I love garlic, so it's strange that I didn't run into the warm olive oil-y arms of roasted garlic a long time ago. But now that I know how easy it is, and how num num nummy, the possibilities are endless. And so to begin:

1 head garlic, separated into cloves
1/3 c olive oil
1/8 c pine nuts
salt & pepper
1 1/2 lb broccoli, cut into florets
1 lb pasta

Preheat over to 350. Toss the garlic with the oil and roast in a covered ovenproof dish for approximately 30 minutes. Toast the pine nuts alongside the garlic for 15 minutes.
When the garlic is cool, squeeze the cloves from their peels and mash them with the oil. Add salt and pepper.
Boil the broccoli until tender. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water. Reserve 1/2 c of the pasta water when draining the pasta.
Toss the pasta, broccoli, pine nuts, and garlic mixture. Add some of the pasta water if the mixture is too dry.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

More taters

As I've touched on before, during the summer months there's a lot of need to create food for many. The meats are pretty straightforward, marinate and grill, not much too it. If we want to get creative, perhaps throw a piece of fish on there (I know, crazy). But the sides pose a bit more of a problem. People will eat a grilled steak or chicken thigh until the cows come home (where exactly were the cows supposed to be anyway...but I digress), but no one wants to eat the same veggie or baked potato every day. So I am ever on the lookout for new and interesting sides. So imagine my delight (cue mental image of muffin jumping up and down and clapping hands) when I came upon this recipe for a roasted potato and fennel dish. Easy to make and fancier than your standard roast potatoes.

Roasted Potatoes and Fennel

2 fennel (also known as anise) bulbs, sliced into strips
approx 2 1/2 lbs potatoes, quartered (bite-size pieces)
2-3 large white or yellow onions, sliced
kosher salt

Toss the fennel, potatoes and onions with olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper (to taste). Place on a baking sheet (or two for this much). Roast at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, until the potatoes soften a bit but still hold their shape.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Muffin and the Mushroom

In the interest of not furthering the limitation of my palate, I've been on this mission to make myself like mushrooms. My initial mushroom opinion was one of extreme hatred, all kinds of mushrooms tasted nasty to me and the only reason I would eat them is if they happened to have some other use (if you know what I'm saying...wink wink, nudge nudge). The main problem I've always had with mushrooms is the texture. In fact, most of the foods I choose not to partake of have textures, rather than flavors, that I intensely dislike (ie - eggplant, okra). With fungi though, there is something about that slimy, mushy-yet-firm combo that really doesn't work for me. But I realized that the inherent flavor is actually quite appealing to me, it's almost meaty. (Interesting side-note: I have a vegetarian friend who stopped eating portobello mushrooms because they tasted too much like meat. I can totally see that, but being the raging carnivore that I am, this only makes me like them more.)

But moving on, I had a couple of rather more pleasant mushroom tasting experiences, and now I want more. So I decided the best course of action would be to actually cook them myself. Then I could make sure to make them how I like them (ie - not the slimy, mushy-yet-firm combo).
I began cooking down the mushrooms in garlic and oil, and this wonderful earthy aroma took over my kitchen. As my astute roommate mentioned (another mushroom disliker, I might add), as they cook down in oil and garlic, they smell like wine. I agree, and who doesn't love the scent of alcohol cooking...anyone?

This recipe is adapted from Food & Wine's Pasta Cookbook.

Pasta with Mushrooms and Parsley

1/2 c olive oil
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 lb pasta (I used bucatini, but any rod pasta will work)
4-5 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Begin heating salted water for the pasta.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over med-high heat. Add the garlic and saute for 1-2 min. Add the mushrooms and cook down (they will give off a lot of liquid, let this evaporate off) until they are browned and almost crunchy (approx 10-15 min).
Toss with the pasta, fresh parsley and salt to taste.

Friday, April 11, 2008

a day off

So I recently took a day off, right in the middle of the week! And without any plan for the day, I just stayed in bed and read more of this book, which was lent to me by a cousin and I am thoroughly enjoying. So I got inspired.

The other day I was in our local grocery store (called Foods, I kid you not) and I saw asparagus. And you know what asparagus means, SPRING! I had to get it, even though we have an abundance of vegetables waiting to be prepared already. So I made the recipe below, and it only took me 20 minutes, start to finish, and I'm not lying like they always do in cookbooks. The recipe is from Cook What You Love, a book I've mentioned before. For a book that I bought on a whim, basically just for all the pretty pictures, it's pulled through on numerous occasions. This time I managed to burn my fingers (more than once, let's just say patience isn't one of my virtues) as I tried to eat the scalding asparagus right out of the pan.

A little trip through my recipe folder and I came across an egg salad recipe I printed out from 101 Cookbooks. I made some significant changes to it, but the idea is the same. Egg salad, like potato salad, pasta salad, etc, is one of those things I am skeptical of. I just picture a soupy mess with some semblance of that which it is named for somewhere in the mess. My discovery of German Potato Salad (another one I'm going to have to write about at some point) made me realize there was another way. This egg salad only has about 1 tbsp mayo in it, and lots of crunchy vegetables, mmmm. Warning, this is very filling, don't make yourself a gigantic sandwich and then attempt to eat it in one sitting without scheduling in some recovery/food coma me on this one.

Asparagus with Lemon Juice

1 lb asparagus, trimmed
1 tbsp olive oil
kosher salt and pepper

3 tbsp butter
1-2 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp lemon rind, grated
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400. Toss the asparagus, olive oil, salt and pepper together and lay out (in one layer) on a baking sheet. Cook for approx 8 minutes, until the asparagus is tender.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saute pan over med-high heat. Add the garlic and lemon rind and cook for about one minute. Add the cooked asparagus and the lemon juice, toss.

Egg Salad

6 hardboiled eggs
1 tbsp mayo
couple drops lemon juice
salt & pepper
5-7 scallions, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped

Note: I tried hardboiling the eggs in the way suggested, (7 minutes with the heat off after bringing to a boil, instead of my usual 13) and they were good, but a royal pain in the ass to peel. Very moist though, which is good for this salad because I like to go easy on the mayo.

Peel the eggs and put them in a bowl. Add the mayo, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mash with a fork but leave quite chunky.
Add the scallions and celery.

I made a sandwich with toasted oat bread, iceberg lettuce and this salad and it definitely hit the spot.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Here's a little trip down memory lane. Early in my cooking career (ok, before I knew how to make anything besides a sandwich), I was living in Chicago, far from the amazing home-cooked meals I was used to. So basically, I was pining away for those familiar tastes, the ones I grew up with. And one of the things that I just couldn't get anywhere else is the salad dressing my mom makes. So I got motivated. I called to get the recipe, wrote it down, and went to the store to buy the ingredients for the dressing and the salad it was going to accompany. I followed the instructions, and it looked pretty good, just the way it was supposed to. Then I tasted it...and there was something very wrong. My roomies at the time agreed, and there was nothing to do but throw it away (mind you, I was a starving college student at the time, so throwing stuff away was not taken lightly). It had to go, no getting around it.

So for many years after this, I was petrified to try and make it again. Worried that I would yet again fail and never be able to replicate this awesome-ness that I love so much. Salads would never be the same. But I eventually got over this apocalyptic mind-frame, and have successfully created this numerous times. To this day, I have no idea what I did wrong. The recipe is so simple, how could I fuck it up so royally?

There's probably a moral to this story, but I'm not really into that whole moral thing. Perhaps, "shit happens" would be most apt?

Mom's Salad Dressing

large bouquet of parsley, chopped (probably about 5 or 6 tbsp)
5 scallions, both white and green parts, chopped
1 tbsp salt
juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tbsp mustard
approximately 1 1/2 c olive oil

Combine all the ingredients except the olive oil in a plastic container. I use the medium size plastic take-out container, you know the one.
Mix together (this should form a sort of chunky paste, sounds appetizing, no?)
Let the mixture sit until the salad is ready, then fill the container with olive oil.
Blend with a fork and toss with salad.

Note: this makes a lot, enough for many salads, but keeps nicely in the fridge. The oil will congeal, but if you stir it up with a fork it becomes liquid again pretty quickly. Also, this is a pretty rich dressing so make sure not to over-dress, no one likes a soggy salad!

Sunday, April 6, 2008


Fact: Muffin loves garlic....loves garlic. If something doesn't have garlic in it, I'm immediately distrustful, of the cookbook, of the cook, whatever, something ain't right. I also have this habit of doubling (at least) the recommended amount. (Insert garlic breath joke of choice here.) So when I discovered the recipe below, it was like it was made just for me. 44 cloves of one dish...yum.

This also gave me the opportunity to use one of my favorite kitchen appliances, the immersion blender. If you've ever watched Iron Chef, you've probably seen an industrial one. It's such a nice alternative to the blender or food processor, those space-hogging, horrible to clean, kitchen monsters. I get excited, like a kid at a candy store, every time I get to use it. Ok, so maybe that's an exaggeration (I'm not actually crazy), but it is fun, even if I accidentally spray myself with boiling hot soup mixture in the process.

Garlic peeling trick: place cloves in a metal bowl with a lid and cover it. Pick up the bowl and shake it hard. When you uncover it, voila! They're pretty much peeled or at least loosened from their stubborn peels.

44 Garlic Clove Soup

44 cloves garlic (26 unpeeled, 18 peeled)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 large onions, chopped
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
4 c chicken stock
1 c heavy cream
salt & pepper

Toss the 26 unpeeled cloves with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in a sealed oven-proof container (I used my all-clad saucepan) and roast at 350 degrees for 45 min. Remove and let cool, then remove the cloves from their skins.
Melt the butter in a large soup pot over med-high heat. Add the onions and thyme and saute until the onions are translucent (about 5 min). Add the raw and roasted garlic cloves and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes. Add the chicken stock, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes (until the raw garlic is quite tender).
Puree the soup mixture.
Add the heavy cream and bring to a simmer.

Serve with thick slices of bread, preferable a rustic white or a baguette.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

slack slack slacking

Because of various time conflicts (work, I'm looking at you), I haven't been working so hard on becoming the kitchen diva I so long to be. But now that Said-Large-Work-Thing has passed, and that large weight has been mostly lifted, I'm gonna try and continue to "bring it with the tastiness" like I promise. I've got my trusty Gourmet magazines in hand, my cookbooks at the ready, and the interwebs full of potentially yummy information...

I begin again tonight...more to come, I promise.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

pasta treats

Whenever I go to that make-me-happy place that is Fairway, I just want to buy everything. I curse my weak arms and shoulders for only being able to carry a certain amount. But I've recently acquired a little cloth cart with if I want to buy 5 lbs of leeks, just try and stop me! Which brings us to now...what is one to do with a crap-load of leeks? Well, see here for the first use. And below you can see how the remaining ones met their demise. This is super tasty, and pretty easy to make.
I use deli ham, though you can substitute deli turkey or leftover ham or turkey.

Pasta with Leeks in a Cream Sauce

2 tbsp butter
4 leeks, thoroughly washed and chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tsp salt
1 cup chicken broth
1 c heavy cream
3 tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 lb deli ham, julienned

Melt butter over medium heat. Add the leeks, garlic and salt and cook over med-low heat until the leeks soften (approx 10 minutes).
Add the chicken broth and let cook down to approx 1/4 cup.
Add the cream and let thicken.
Add the parsley and ham, heat the ham through, and remove from heat.
Serve over pasta (makes enough for 1 lb pasta).

Side Note re: Broth - I never use real stock or broth. Who wants to carry all that heavy liquid from the store? And make it from scratch, forget it, too time consuming. So I use bullion cubes, and I'm not ashamed. Keep in mind that bullion cubes usually have more salt than stock, so adjust the recipe accordingly.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Taters and Salmon

So I think we had a relatively successful dinner party the other night...never mind that I didn't get dinner on the table until around 11pm (sorry guys!). But when the food actually hit the table, I think it was...well, a hit.

So here are the recipes I used, in case anyone who was there (or anyone else in the general vicinity) wants to know. These each make enough for about 10 people, so adjust the amounts if cooking for fewer. FYI, the potatoes reheat very well.

Potato Gratin

5 cloves garlic, 4 minced, 1 halved
3 tbsp butter
1 1/4 c milk
1 c heavy cream
1 tsp kosher salt
2 pinches nutmeg
2 1/2 lbs russet potatoes

combine peeled, thinly sliced potatoes with minced garlic, milk, cream, 2 tbsp of the butter, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 3 minutes
Meanwhile, rub the cut side of the remaining garlic clove over a baking dish, and butter the dish with the remaining 1 tbsp butter.
Transfer the mixture to the baking dish and cover with buttered tin foil
Bake for 40 minutes, then uncover and bake for an additional 25-40 (until the liquid bubbles thickly and the top is browned)
Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.


4 leeks, thoroughly washed and chopped
1 c dry white wine
2 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
3 lb salmon fillet
salt & pepper

Combine the leeks, wine, mustard, salt and pepper on a baking sheet. Place the salmon on top and season with more salt and pepper. Tightly cover with tinfoil so no moisture escapes and bake at 400 degrees for approximately 20 - 25 minutes (cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the salmon) until the salmon is light pink and flaky.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


So I don't know about the rest of you, but these few warmer days we've been having have made me want summer.....really want summer. You know, sun, long days, the heat. I love this city more than anything, but I been missing the country. All I want to do right now is sit outside, maybe go for a swim, and think about what I'm making for dinner. That pretty much sums up summer for me. Get up, have breakfast and plan dinner, go food shopping, play tennis/swim/lounge about, cook for anyone in the vicinity...and of course, you can't forget the 6 pm martini on the deck. And with an ever changing bunch of anywhere from three to 20 people, there's a lot of food preparation going on. Now I would never imply that I do this alone, I am blessed with a family of amazing cooks.

Now back to the 6 pm martini on the deck: the muffin-family martini is gin, a splash of vermouth, lots of ice (it's hot, remember) and a lemon slice. And to go with this -- so you don't get too drunk to cook dinner -- you need little munchies, my fav being bruschetta.

Bruschetta on the Deck (I'm trying to work on my titles, bear with me)

I like to use plum tomatoes, they tend to hold their shape better and are easier to de-seed.

10 plum tomatoes, chopped and de-seeded (as best you can)
1 small onion (white or yellow), very finely chopped
3 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
salt & pepper
vinegar (I've been using Champagne Vinegar, but White Wine Vinegar would work too, just use less of it)

baguette and garlic cloves, peeled

slice the bread into thin slices and place on a baking sheet. Put under the broiler, flipping once to toast each side. Rub one side of each slice with the cut side of the raw garlic. Spoon the tomato mixture over the top, making sure to add enough of the juice to soak through to the bread. Eat immediately!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Deviled Eggs with Crabmeat

I've recently been having a renewed love affair with the hardboiled egg. It began with my trip to India. I'm guessing you know this, but muffin and spicy don't get along. Needless to say I didn't have extensive food choices, and anyone who knows me knows: this girl's gotta eat! And so I re-embraced the hardboiled egg, in all of it's protein-y goodness. A simple hardboiled egg, cut in half and salted is one of life's great pleasures, but what if you want more?

This brings me to the deviled know, the hardboiled egg on steroids. And then, to ratchet it up another notch, throw in some crabmeat. Yep, you heard me, crabmeat. I mean, who doesn't love a good ol' deviled egg? So here's a gourmet version.

6 eggs, hard boiled
3 1/3 tbsp mayonnaise
1 1/3 tbsp celery, very finely chopped
1 1/3 tbsp white onion, very finely chopped
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
worcestershire sauce, a few drops
salt & pepper to taste
6 oz canned crabmeat

Cut peeled eggs in half lengthwise and remove yolks
Mash yolks and the rest of the ingredients, adjust to taste
Refill whites with yolk mixture and serve
[Garnish Note: you can dust with paprika if you like, though I've found this to be purely decorative. Another garnish you can try is small sprigs of parsley on top of each egg]

Hardboiled Eggs: the best and easiest way to make them is to cover them with about 1 inch of cold water, bring to a boil, turn off the heat, cover and let sit for 13 minutes. Then place them in a cold water bath to stop their cooking.

Friday, March 7, 2008

sweet sweet glazed chicken....I lurves u

I've been holding off, but here's one of my favorite favorite things to make. If you've been to my place for dinner any time in the last year or so, you've probably tasted this at least once...whether you like it or not. I actually took this recipe from Giada's Food Network show, I gots some love for that bobble-headed tasty-thing maker. The ingredients are the same, but I made up the amounts.

Chicken with Glaze (ok, so I need to come up with some better titles)

1/2 c balsamic vinegar
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c honey
5 cloves garlic, smashed
3 or 4 fresh rosemary sprigs

This much marinade is more than enough for about 8 - 10 pieces of chicken. I prefer to use bone-in chicken thighs with the skin on, though I suppose you could use breast meat. The skin really takes the marinade well and crisps up when in the oven, and why would you want to forgo that!

Marinate chicken for at least 30 min.
Bake the chicken for approximately 40-45 min (for thighs) at 375 degrees. You may have to remove some juice from the baking sheet during cooking, just keep an eye out for this.

Meanwhile, remove the rosemary sprigs from the marinade. Reduce the marinade over med-low heat until it thickens to a glaze (approx 15 minutes). Brush the glaze over the cooked chicken. Finally, sprinkle sesame seeds (ideally toasted, though I never get around to it) and chopped parsley over the top.

[Veggie Note: you can use this marinade/glaze on tofu, something I have no idea how to cook. But keeten made it for CultWifeNumeroUno at one of the parties, and it seemed to be a hit. I think she sauteed it in the marinade before reducing it and brushing the glaze over the top.]

Monday, March 3, 2008


So I've been itching to make coleslaw for a while now, and I finally got off my lazy ass to do it. I took an Ina Garten recipe I found on smittenkitchen. Let me just echo what she says....this makes a shit-ton of slaw, so be prepared. In fact, I have so much slaw sitting in my fridge it's kinda ridiculous...I hope the roomies are up to the challenge! After contemplating the food processor for a bit, I ended up slicing the cabbage by hand. It wasn't that bad at all, kind of tedious but I had a little internet radio to keep me company.

Now, just to explain, I have a bit of a problem with mayonnaise...I usually hate it, but in small doses its ok. So I halved the dressing recipe and still ended up with a lot. (The halved recipe is below.) Upon tasting it, for a single serving (about 3/4 c I would say) use 1 tsp or less of the dressing, just enough to hold it together. Then it's actually pretty tasty!

There's also another recipe below, a mayonnaise-free option. It's also a bit sweet if you like that kind of thing. It kinda works better as a dip than a dressing, the flavor gets lost amidst the cabbage and it doesn't hold it together at all.


1/2 head white cabbage, shredded
1/2 head red cabbage, shredded
4 - 6 carrots, grated

Ina Garten Coleslaw Dressing

1 c mayonnaise
1/8 c dijon mustard
1 tsp whole grain mustard
1 tbsp cider vinegar
3/4 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp kosher salt
fresh pepper

Sweet Slaw Dressing

1 small onion, grated
1/4 c cider vinegar
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp salt

Combine the onion, vinegar and sugar. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Add the celery seed and salt.

UPDATE: Big ups to the roomies for helping me tackle the enormous amount of slaw. It has been successfully demolished. Now of course, we have a huge tupperware with nothing in it...suggestions for what to fill it with are welcome!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Pick me up!

I'm not that much of a dessert person, give me something salty over something sweet any day. But the exception proves the rule, right? And so I give you Tiramisu, a caffeinated alcoholic dessert! What's not to love about espresso, cognac and sugar soaking little cakes, sandwiched between fluffy eggs. And this is perfect for entertaining because you don't have to bake anything and you can make it ahead of time. A purist might insist on making the ladyfingers from scratch, but the store-bought ones are just as good.

Disclaimer: this recipe does have raw eggs in it...but hey, something's gonna kill you, live a little.

Tiramisu (This recipe is adapted from Desserts, edited by Rosemary Wilkinson)

1 lb marscapone
5 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 c plus 1 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
ladyfingers, enough to line the dish twice
1/2 c strong espresso coffee
1/4 c cognac
unsweetened cocoa powder

Separate the eggs. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar (reserving 1 tbsp) until pale yellow and fluffy. Gradually beat in the marscapone.
Beat the egg whites and salt until they form stiff peaks. Fold into the marscapone mixture.
Combine the espresso, cognac and reserved 1 tbsp sugar together.
Line a large dish ladyfingers. The dish should be at least 1 1/2 - 2 inches deep.
Pour half of the espresso mixture evenly over the ladyfingers. Cover with half the egg mixture.
Make another layer of ladyfingers and pour the rest of the espresso mixture over them. Cover with the remaining egg mixture.
Chill for at least an hour.
Before serving, sprinkle the cocoa powder over the top.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


Maybe I'm going out on a limb here, but I'm assuming we all love bacon. However, I've always found it to be a huge pain-in-the-ass to cook. You know, bits of it burn before the rest even cooks a little, all the while spattering grease all over the stove, and usually your hands and arms. I don't like to put myself through that kind of pain, just for a little pig fat. But then I discovered you can bake it. I know what you're thinking, pretty f-in amazing. Ok, well maybe it's not that big of a deal, but it definitely transformed the way I think about bacon.

Then I found a recipe for Sweet Basil Bacon in a book called Cook What You Love by Bob and Melinda Blanchard. It's baked bacon plus. Here's the gist of it (with my changes of course):

Place bacon strips on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or waxed paper. Bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes. Turn the bacon over, sprinkle with brown sugar and chopped fresh basil (they suggest dried, but fresh is always better). Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes (until crisp).

And there you go, yumminess without any grease burns! You're welcome.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Marinades, Marinades, Marinades!

Something to know about me, I fuckin love meat. Don't get me wrong, I love my veggies and starches too. But chances are, if it used to be walking around I want to eat it. (There are of course exceptions to this rule, most of them having to do with certain organ meats, but you get my drift). And so it only follows that I love me some marinades. It's amazing what a little acidity and some tasty ingredients will do to transform a cheap, tough piece of meat into something fabulous. Here are my favs for beef, pork and lamb. I'm not sure of the proportions cause I usually just throw it all together in a bowl. (You'll also probably notice a certain similarity between the three...but hey, if it works, right?)

I like to make fork holes in the meat on both sides before adding it to the marinade. Some people think this sacrilege, but then I'm an atheist so there.

Marinade #1 - Beef

olive oil
soy sauce
dijon mustard
lemon juice
chopped garlic
chopped fresh parsley

Marinade #2 - Pork

olive oil
cider vinegar
dijon mustard
fresh rosemary
fresh thyme
chopped garlic

Marinade #3 - Lamb

olive oil
lemon juice
soy sauce
chopped garlic
chopped parsley
dried thyme, oregano, rosemary

Monday, February 25, 2008

Shrimp & Vegetable Stir-Fry

Here's one I made before keeten's birthday, and it seemed to be a hit. Nothing like filling up on some stir-fried goodness before going out and getting shit-faced, birthday style.

Also, this could just as easily be made with a different meat or completely veggie. If you choose to use a different meat, it will need to be added earlier than the shrimp.

Shrimp & Vegetable Stir-Fry

2 shallots, sliced
2 zucchini, sliced into sticks
1/2 red pepper and 1/2 green pepper, sliced into sticks
6 scallions, sliced into lengths
4 cloves garlic, chopped
small bunch chives
1 lb shrimp, shelled
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp rice wine
vegetable oil

Heat the oil in a wok over med-high heat
When hot, add the shallots, zucchini and garlic. Cook until they start to soften (4 min?)
Add the peppers and scallions and cook for an additional few minutes
Add the shrimp, soy sauce, sesame oil and rice wine
When the shrimp turn pink, add the chives and cook for one minute more.

Serve over steamed rice.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Here we go!

So I've decided to add to this mess we call the internet, just for shits and giggles. And so, for now, it's all about food. A couple things you may want to know, however.

1) I hate cheese. Yes, I realize this makes me a freak of nature, and I'm ok with that. Believe it or not you can actually cook very tasty food without this ingredient, most of Asia has been doing it for centuries.

2) I can't really eat spicy food. Again, most will stop reading here, but honestly, I don't really give a shit what you think.

And so, to start it all off, something simple:

Pasta with Zucchini and Shallots

This is a nice simple pasta dish. I would recommend using some sort of cut pasta. I used rotelle which works nicely because it's the same shape as the zucchini, but any one will do. Also, feel free to substitute onions for shallots, though use less because the shallot has a much more subtle sweet flavor than your average yellow or white onion.

4 zucchini, thinly sliced into rounds (the thinner the better)
3 shallots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil (extra virgin, always)
salt to taste

heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat
add the shallots and garlic, cook until translucent, stirring occasionally
add the zucchini and salt and cook over med or med-low heat for approximately 10 minutes (until the zucchini begins to lose it's shape)

meanwhile cook the pasta in salted water

toss the zucchini shallot mixture with the pasta, adding more oil if it seems dry