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!)