Monday, December 29, 2008

"Can I help you little lady?"

I spent Christmas in Florida this year at my sister's house with my whole family including my too cute nephew.  It was really nice to be with family but I must say the 80 degree "winter" was pretty weird.  

My nephew loves to help my sister cook.  Whenever she's in the kitchen he comes in to ask her "Can I help you little lady?" - a pretty funny thing for a 2 1/2 year old to say to his mother!

Here we are making donuts.
You'd think me sticking my tongue out would mean that I'm really concentrating but apparently that wasn't the case.  I completely misread the recipe and added twice the amount of butter - I had to throw this batch out (while my nephew wasn't looking) and make a new one!  They were a big hit.

Here he is after helping my mom make some jello coolwhip concoction.  I think this photo was followed by him saying something like "Sasa stop taking pictures I trying to eat" - I got a lot of that.  But with my new Nikon D40 (thanks Ron!) I couldn't help myself!

Oh the cuteness!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

French Onion soup...

I don't know why French onion soup is so good.  It doesn't need those gobs of mediocre cheese and bread that you get in some restaurants, it's delicious all on its own.  It's just onions and broth and in this case a fair amount a of booze and for some reason when you cook it super slow it turns into a yummy sweet, savory, rich soup.  Oh I love it, the french are smart aren't they?  

I made this by caramelizing a leek, a huge red onion, a huge yellow onion and a medium yellow onion.  I cut all the onions in half then into 1/4 inch half moons, once they were cut up it was probably around 8-10 cups of onions.  Throw them in a pot with a couple tablespoons of butter, a little olive oil and a bay leaf and let them get caramelizy and light brown.  Don't rush this!  It'll take about 30-40 minutes.  I started with the lid on and took it off about half way through.

Now for the booze!  Add 3/4 cup brandy and let the alcohol cook off, then add a cup and a half of white wine and let the alcohol cook off again.  How will you know when the alcohol has cooked off?  When you can put your face over it and it no longer smells like a St Patricks day party or the Mummers parade you're good to go.  Add 4 cups of beef broth and 2-4 cups of chicken broth - until you think it's the right onion to broth ratio!  Cook for another 10 minutes or so and there you have it.

I don't have crocks so I couldn't top the soup with bread and cheese and throw the whole thing in the broiler.  I bet you that if I did have crocks I'd be tempted to grab the little handles with my bare hands, like I do with every other oven safe dish with a handle, so it's probably safer this way.  Just throw a few slices of baguette topped with a tablespoon or so of really good shredded Gruyere in the broiler for a minute or two and throw them on top of the bowl of soup.  And yes, I said a tablespoon, you don't need to top this with a half cup of cheese because the soup is great all by itself.

We had this for dinner last night with a salad of mixed green, boiled potatoes, blanched green beans, prosciutto, a soft boiled egg (by mistake but now I won't eat this salad any other way!), and a mustardy vinaigrette.  Very french, super simple and oh so good.  So good that I think I'll be having the same thing for dinner tonight!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Stuff it - Pork remix

Remember the pork shoulder from earlier in the week?  Ron just remixed it into yummy stuffed poblanos.  He shredded up the pork and mixed it with rice and a sauce he made with sauteed onions and garlic, chipotle, cumin and tomato sauce.  The mixture was stuffed in some poblanos and topped with jack cheese.  The stuffed poblanos, extra sauce and cheese went into a baking dish and into the oven for 45 minutes and they came out SO GOOD.  We had some rice with beans and corn on the side.

Awesome use of leftovers!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Leek Confit and Herbed Goat Cheese Toasts

I'm about to give you the greatest recipe ever.  Next time you're asked to bring an appetizer to someone's home bring this (but not if I'm going to be there because chances are I'll be bringing it!).  Herbed goat cheese is a super yummy, versatile and easy to make spread.  I originally followed this recipe by Giada De Laurentiis but by now I've made it so many times I just wing it!  

All you need are equal parts goat cheese and cream cheese (I use neufchatel because it's what I have in the house) a squeeze of lemon, some lemon zest, salt, pepper and finely chopped herbs (whatever you have on hand - I used sage and rosemary today because they're growing in my kitchen).  Let the cheeses come to room temperature and mix everything together - add a little milk or cream or even water by the teaspoon to thin out the mixture and make it spreadable.  That's it!  Easy right?

Spread this on some baguette slices that you've toasted in the oven with some olive oil, salt and pepper.  You can top the spread with whatever tickles your fancy.  A few of my favorites are chopped green and black olives, diced apples mixed with a little lemon juice and honey, diced roasted beets and now leek confit!  I bet roasted butternut squash and caramelized onions would be awesome on this.

I saw this leek confit recipe in Bon Appetit last month and new that I had to serve it with these goat cheese toasts!  Just slice up a couple of leeks and rinse them in a sink full of water to get out all of the grit.  Put them in a pot with a couple tablespoons of butter a little salt and water. Put the lid on and let them slowly caramelize for 25 minutes or so - stirring every once in a while to make sure they don't stick.  I LOVE caramelized onions so of course I love this too, they're buttery and sweet and go with the tangy goat cheese really well.  

Don't they look rustic and yummy?  Oh they are, they certainly are.

Salmon and Cauliflower Gratin

Salmon definitely isn't my favorite fish but it looked really good at the market the other day so we picked some up.  I planned on searing a couple of pieces for dinner one night and then making the rest into salmon cakes for another dinner but Ron liked it pan seared so much that I just did it that way two nights in a row!  

I just seasoned the fish with salt and pepper and seared it skin side down in some hot olive oil for about 4 minutes then flipped it over and cooked it for a couple more then threw it in the oven for a few minutes to finish up.  

I also made individual cauliflower gratins - I didn't use a recipe and they weren't that great but Ron made a really great one a couple of weeks back that you all should try.  It was an Ina Garten recipe so of course it was delicious!  Ron's mom made a dinner of salmon cakes, macaroni and cheese and stewed tomatoes a lot when he was a kid so this meal is a little nod to that!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes we did!

Thanks for stepping up people!  Thank you for knowing how important this election was and getting out to vote.

How exciting was this?

I can't wait to see what the Obama/Biden presidency brings for this country!  

I took this in October at an Obama rally in West Philly.  Look at all the kids!  Being a part of history is pretty cool.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Oh Fall - you're delicious!

Once the weather turns a little bit chilly all I really want to eat are soups, stews and anything slow cooked.  I was inspired (again) by Jennifer over at Last Night's Dinner who wrote about using an inexpensive chunk of pork shoulder for not onenot two but THREE very different meals.  We bought a 5lb hunk of pork for $11 yesterday at Reading Terminal, when we got home I threw half of it in the freezer for another round of meals in the near future!  

I seasoned the pork with salt and pepper and seared it in some olive oil then took it out of the pot and threw together a braising liquid.  I poured out almost all of the fat and sauteed a cup or so of onions and a clove of chopped garlic, added a good bit of red wine vinegar and chicken stock and a couple tablespoons of pickling spices, salt and pepper.  

I started the pork in the oven on about 250 but then we were running out and leaving the oven on makes me nervous so I transfered it to this beauty:

I love the way the house smells after you've had the crockpot going all day - isn't it the best thing to come home to?  Really I didn't need the oven at all, why I doubted the use of the crockpot I have no idea.  This was cooked perfectly, but the pictures I took just didn't show it!  Here is the clean bone after Ron and I grabbed our respective chunks.

For a side I wanted to use the brussel sprouts that have been sitting in the fridge since a recent trip home to Long Island.  I know that beans and greens are always yummy (check out my good friend Marybeth's beans and greens over at Junkdrawer).  I figured that shredded brussels and butter beans would be yummy too.  I sauteed some shredded brussels with shallot and garlic then added the drained butter beans, a little bit of red wine vinegar and some of the braising liquid and porky onions from the crockpot.  

I drained the rest of the braising liquid, poured it in a pot and added a little cornstarch slurry to thicken it up.  This was so good I couldn't help but eat it with a spoon like it was a bowl of soup.

I'm can't wait for leftovers. 

Monday, October 27, 2008

Cooking with Color!

As many of you know, because most of you reading are my friends and family, I recently finished up working on the 5th season of the Food Network's "Dinner Impossible." 

Check out this webisode about an episode we produced with the great folks over at The Crayola Factory.  We challenged the incredible Michael Symon to create an 8 course meal using 8 colors from Crayola's 64 box.  I make a few cameos!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Donuts & the World Series!

Hey guys - remember me?  Don't worry it looks like unemployment is right around the corner for me AGAIN and I'll be back to more frequent blogging.  I've been working for a company doing political ads and after the election they'll be no ads for me to work on!  So as of this coming Friday I'll be out of work again, know anyone searching for a TV producer?  Or maybe someone that needs a caterer?  

Luckily I've had the Phillies to keep me distracted from my upcoming unemployment.  There have been a whole lot of late night Phillies love fests.  I think we'll all need to recover for several weeks after the season is over - our livers and our wallets need a break!  I mean really how many nights can end like this and still leave you able to function in the morning?

Ron and a couple friends were lucky enough to get tickets to the game yesterday - he got to the parking lot to set up the tailgate at 4pm and the game didn't finish until 2am!  There was a rain delay so they ended up being out in the rain and cold for 10 hours - but I don't think they minded!  

I've been wanting to make these donuts that I got from Joy the Baker's site for a while but I was afraid that I would eat them all if they stayed in the house.  When I found out Ron was going to the game and that the weather was going to be crappy I figured that fresh, warm donuts would be a great treat for the boys.  Donuts can be tailgate food too!   

Go to Joy's site to get the recipe and instructions along with tons of other great recipes.  Her recipes and photos are awesome - especially for a novice bakers that could use some helpful visuals like me.

Here are the progress photos - I  made whole donuts and donut holes.  I'm warning you - if you make donut holes you won't be able to resist eating them, several of them, probably at least a half dozen.   

Some donut holes were tossed in cinnamon sugar and some in plain old powdered sugar.  The whole donuts were dipped in chocolate or vanilla glaze.  Joy has lots of donut topping options here.

Here's Ron on the way to the game with a whole bag of donuts! 


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Check it out!

Remember the food styling gig I had a little while back?  Well the videos are finally posted!  Check them out here: Paige Davis How to.  Just click on the "backyard picnic with friends" link.  Cool right?  I'm hoping to do this again!  It was such a great learning experience.

I'll try to post something more exciting soon!  

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Free Stuff!

I got an email the other day about a promotion for "Pushing Daisies" the super colorful and quirky show on ABC.  I've only seen a few episode but friends of mine rave about it and say that it's completely different from everything else on TV. That's a good review huh?  Anyway, to promote their second season they're touring the country with their mobile Pie Hole.  

The Pie Hole will be in Philly on Friday, September 26th, at The Shops at Liberty Place from 10am-2pm serving up free pie, pie-cutters, spatulas and more.  I don't know about you, but I like free stuff.  Stop by if you're in the neighborhood! 

For more info on the tour check out:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Cutchogue Chicken BBQ! (Finally)

I've been neglecting my blog - I know.  I have a new job and it's keeping me busy.  Every time I cook or bake Ron asks "Did you take pictures?" and I must admit that I've been saying "Um, no" way too often.  But after reading Smitten Kitchen's blog about the North Fork of Long Island, my home turf, I knew I had to get to my Chicken BBQ blog!

Now this is no backyard BBQ - this is serious stuff.  This annual Fire Department Fundraiser sells 3000 tickets and they're actually pretty hard to come by, luckily my parents have some new Firemen neighbors and they were able to score Ron and I two tickets.  You can smell BBQ starting early in the morning coming from massive BBQ grills.  Look at all that bird!  These dudes are chicken kings!

The Cutchogue Chicken BBQ tradition is that you bring a cooler full of beer and/or a purse full of wine (local North Fork wine of course!), hang out with old friends in the parking lot, and finally get in line when the Firemen threaten that they're about to stop serving chicken.  Then you grab your plate and you're served a half chicken, potato salad and corn all out of big plastic trash cans.  Grab your plasticware and you're on your way to your table where there are rolls, cucumber tomato salad, sodas, waters and pitchers of all the budweiser you can drink waiting for you.  Yum...

The corn, tomatoes, cucumbers and peaches that come on top of vanilla ice cream for dessert are all local.  The chicken is perfect and the potato salad is mayonnaisey and good, the fruits and vegetables are as fresh as they get.  The lovely volunteers come around offering seconds of everything but the chicken.  It's packed and loud and delicious and so very townie and I love it!

Ron and I are heading home again this weekend.  This time we're bringing our bikes, the best way to get to the beach and wineries from my house.  Oh I can't wait - it's always such a nice little getaway!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge - Eclairs!

So I skipped out on last months DB Challenge for several reasons but when I saw this months challenge I was definitely in - Chocolate Eclairs from Pierre Herme.  I've never made pate a choux, pastry cream or chocolate glaze so this was all new territory for me.  

The pate a choux (cream puff dough) came together really easily but once I put it in the oven it just didn't seem to want to cook all the way through - I took them out after 20 minutes (12 of them with a wooden spoon propping open the oven door) and they fell flat right away.  I tried to save them by putting them back in the oven and they stayed in there probably another 20 minutes or so before I gave up!  Some were perfect, some were still doughy - I don't know why!  But they all tasted great.  See how nice the ones on the upper left look?  The other tray (upper right) was all flat and didn't rise right - maybe it had to do with the tin foil instead of parchment?

The original recipes called for chocolate pastry cream but I made vanilla using this recipe from epicurious.  It was easy to make and tasty! 

To make the chocolate topping you also had to make a chocolate sauce.  Mine didn't come together right - it was too thin and didn't coat the eclairs like I would have liked.  The whole process was messy and I just made a big batch thinking they'd be great for a party tomorrow and realized that they're best served right after they're filled and will probably be soggy and gross tomorrow.  We'll just have to wait and see I guess!  

Here's the mess I made and the finished product. 

And no, celery salt and tomato aren't in the ingredient list.  I'm cooking a bunch of stuff for a friends party tomorrow and I just hadn't gotten around to putting those things away yet.  I think next time I make pate a choux it'll be savory.  Anyway - back to the kitchen I still have cookies and cheesecake to make!

I'm behind on my blogs and I still have to tell you all about the awesome Cutchogue chicken BBQ.  I'm hoping to get to it this week.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I'm Ready for my Close Up!

I just got home from LA yesterday - Ron and I were working out there and decided to spend a few extra days vacationing.  What was I working on?  Oh just a little food styling and catering for a webisode.  That's right - my food is going to be famous!  I am very lucky that Ron's good friend and boss gave me the opportunity to do this.  I worked in an amazing kitchen in a beautiful home in Pacific Palisades with lots of borrowed kitchen supplies!  This picture isn't so great - but it gives you a good look at the kitchen.  

Double oven, six burners, two sinks (one with a garbage disposal), tons of counter space, and a microwave drawer.  The only problem was that there was nothing in the kitchen!  The cabinets were staged with dishware so all of my supplies ended up on the counters - I managed to make quite the mess.  I didn't realize how much I'd miss little things like a drying rack!  See that orange thing on the counter?  That's my new knife bag - hopefully I'll have more uses for it in the future.  I got good use out of my pretty apron that my good friend Marybeth made me for my birthday last year - see her blog about it here.  

For the cast and crew I did a store bought/homemade breakfast combo.  Store bought fruit, yogurt, coffee, muffins and bagels with assorted cream cheeses, butter and jelly.  

As for the homemade portion of breakfast we had a couple of Vegans in the house so I made a vegan crumb cake from scratch using a recipe from Vegan Yum Yum.  It turned out okay but I didn't have cornstarch so I left it out - I'm curious to see what this would have tasted like if I had added it.  Either way I think the Vegans appreciated that I made a coffee cake just for them - whether they ate it or not!  I also made a frittata with ham, roasted red peppers and goat cheese that everyone really liked and some roasted potatoes. 

Lunch was just sandwiches and salads.  

Vegan Tofu Vietnamese hoagies
Roasted Vegetables and Herbed Goat Cheese 
Turkey, Coleslaw and Russian dressing  
Roast Beef, Cheddar, Lettuce & Tomato 
Chicken, Roasted Red Pepper and Artichoke Puree, Lettuce & Tomato

White bean and Israeli Couscous with radishes, arugala, lemon and olive oil (you can see it in the lower right hand corner of the photo above!)
Romaine Salad with Black beans, Corn, Chayote and chile vinaigrette 
Crudite with hummus

The prop food was fancy BBQ so I made a potato salad with tomatoes and green beans and a pasta salad inspired by this pasta primavera salad from Smitten Kitchen.  I can't wait to make Deb's recipe with the fettucine, procuitto and parm - but for this shoot I wanted to keep it meat and dairy free and thought that the fettucine wouldn't really look like a cold BBQ salad.  There was also a fixin's plate, corn, fruit salad, crudite and Sangria.  On the grill there was burgers, hot dogs, chicken and grilled vegetables.  

Here are pictures of the table in the beautiful Southern California sun and then soon after in a little sun shower!  

It only rained for a few minutes during the shoot but the crew was nice enough to rig up a cover for the food.  I love this picture!  Such a fuss over my spread!

Overall I'd say it was a success.  I have several things to work on and learn in the styling department but hopefully I'll be getting more practice soon!  I'll post a link to the webisode when it's up.  

After the shoot was over Ron and I had a few days to relax - and of course our time in CA included some great food and drink!  I'll post about that later this week. 

I'm starting a new job tomorrow so I won't have quite as much time on my hands to blog - but I'll try my best to post a couple of times a week.  Wish me luck on my new job!

My First Catering Job!

I had a busy 8/08/08.  In addition to the kick ass 80's party I attended I also catered a six person dinner party in a fancy penthouse apartment in Center City - but I didn't take ONE picture.  Not one!  Unbelievable!  And I call myself a blogger? 

But since this is my first catering gig I'm still going to give you the menu and link the dishes to the recipes I used to inspire me.  Just use your imagination.  The hostess likes light and healthy and I wasn't serving the meal so it had to be something that could be served cold or easily reheated.  I went sort of French Bistro-esque.

Smoked Salmon and Lemon Cream Cheese rolled in Herb Crepes  - I got this recipe from Epicurious - I used cucumbers instead of radishes and mixed them right into the cream cheese.  So good - I couldn't stop eating the ends!

Fresh Pea Soup with dollop of Low Fat Sour Cream  - Another Epicurious recipe - this was a beautiful bright green and after I put it through a sieve (which got a little bit messy!) it was really silky.  I decided to top it with low fat sour cream because, like I said, the hostess is fairly health conscience.  But I'm sure creme fraiche would be really good.

Nicoise Salad with Seared Tuna - Basic Nicoise with boiled potatoes, blanched haricot verts, olives, lemon vinaigrette.  Instead of the olive oil packed tuna I used fresh, seared ahi that I marinated in the same lemon vinaigrette.  The whole salad went over mixed greens - I thought this was just perfect for a warm day!

Peach and Raspberry Galette - Another great recipe from Smitten Kitchen.  I've made her mushroom stilton galette and her butternut squash gallete but I hadn't made a sweet one until now.  I used local Jersey peaches and raspberries - the only problem with this is that I can't taste test it!  It looked pretty and I didn't hear anything bad so I'm hoping my notice baking skills were okay.

Thanks to MB for hooking me up with Megan and getting me this little catering gig.  I'm hoping it's something I can keep doing.  Megan owns an awesome bar in the Fairmount park of town called The Bishop's Collar and was nice enough to hand over this little job to me!  

I ate S'mores in the 80's...

First let me apologize for being absent for a bit - I've had a TON going on and I plan on blogging about all of it!  Starting with this fabulous and completely ridiculous 80's party that our friend Jackson held to celebrate 8/08/08.  How rad are our outfits?

When I asked Jackson what I could bring he told me that he'd really love some cupcakes.  I don't think I've ever made cupcakes before but there are several great blogs out there dedicated to nothing but these lovely, perfectly portioned treats.  After much debate I decided on S'more cupcakes from How to Eat a Cupcake.  I made mine mini - I figured they'd be perfect for popping in your mouth.  Next time I won't use wrappers.  After several drinks people don't really see the wrappers and just go to bite right in - wrapper and all!  But Jackson was happy with them and when I left the party there were only three left - I consider that a success.

Aren't they cute?  Go visit How to Eat a Cupcake - she's got a ton of really fun cupcake recipes! 
I think I see more cupcakes in my future. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Presto Pasta Nights...

This week Michelle at Greedy Gourmet is hosting Ruth's Presto Pasta Nights (#75! - that's a lot of pasta!).  I'm excited to participate in this weekly blogging event.  My contribution is linguini with pea and basil pesto and shrimp.

Sometimes a quick pasta dish is the perfect supper.  I love whole wheat pasta.  I guess some people don't like it and I admit that the stuff that tastes like it's whole wheat might take some getting used to but Whole Foods brand wheat pasta tastes like regular pasta.  Ron groaned when I picked up the whole wheat linguini at Whole Foods - but he ended up really liking it.

This dish is super simple and was inspired by Barefoot Contessa's Pasta, Pesto and Peas that I make all of the time!  For the sauce I pureed some defrosted frozen peas with basil, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.  I cooked the pasta according to the package directions and sauteed some shrimp seasoned with salt and pepper in a little bit of olive oil.

Toss it all together with some whole peas and halved cherry tomatoes.  So good - can you tell I like simple pasta with seafood?  Ron made this one a little while ago - it was just as simple and just as delicious.  

Monday, August 4, 2008

Baked (not fried!) Eggplant

I'm not a huge eggplant fan. It's not the taste that I don't like (it doesn't really taste like anything - right?) it's a texture thing. I'm not interested in mushy eggplant but I am interested in crispy, greasy, fried eggplant. When Ron said he wanted fried eggplant for dinner I remembered this recipe my mom used to make for eggplant parm where she baked the eggplant first before layering it in a casserole dish with mozzarella and tomato sauce. The eggplant was always crispy and good and so much better for you then the fried stuff. I baked mine and Ron fried his - I must admit that his looked better than mine and probably tasted a little better too BUT if you're looking for a good eggplant recipe without all the grease, this is a pretty good substitute.

I peeled and sliced the eggplant and set up a little egg wash/bread crumb assembly line. I used a whisked egg white and italian bread crumbs because they're what I had on hand. If you use plain bread crumbs be sure to season them with salt and pepper.

Dip the eggplant in the egg then the bread crumb then put them on a sheet pan sprayed with cooking spray. Put the breaded eggplant in a preheated 425 degree oven for about 30 minutes then flip the eggplant over and cook for another 10 minutes. It seems like a long time but it ensures that they're get crispy and not mushy!

We didn't want to go italian and cover these with sauce and cheese, that seemed too heavy for a summer meal. Instead we went sort of middle eastern. I made a tzatziki sauce by mixing grated cucumber and onion with lemon zest, minced garlic, chopped fresh mint, salt, pepper and nonfat greek yogurt. I also made a chickpea salad with a can of drained chickpeas, green peppers, tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers, black olives, salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil.

This was REALLY good. I'm excited to eat leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Clammy feast!

I'm a lucky girl. My parents came for a visit this weekend and they brought a whole cooler full of these beauties:

My dad raked all 140 of these on Friday! Fresh clams straight from Long Island. Imagine a 12 dozen clams for free - all I had to do was figure out what to do with them! Steamed clams and stuffed clams sounded perfect.

Ron separated them into steamer size and stuffed clam size. My mom and dad opened the big ones and I made the stuffing - it was quite the family affair!

I sauteed some diced shallot, red pepper, onion, and celery. After the vegetables were soft I added the chopped up clams. I chop my clams in a mini food processor and they always look really gross. I'm only posting the picture so when you make these at home (which you should) you'll know that if the clams look like gray vomit - it's okay!

See? Yuck right? After you add the gross looking clams to the softened vegetables add some bread crumbs, parsley and chives. I seasoned the mix as I went with salt, pepper and old bay.

My dad cleaned the shells to fill. These are better looking than those clam shaped foil things. I mean the clams come with their own perfect size container for this filling - use it! But I guess if you're using canned clams you can use those foil things or you can use this stuffing as a filling for stuffed shrimp or fish - that might be what I do with the leftovers!

Stuff the filling into the clams - I made two dozen. Here they are right before they baked at 350 for about 20 minutes or until the tops get brown.

These ended up being part of a feast at Ron's parents' house. Ron steamed the little guys to serve with melted butter and lemon, Ron's parents went salad crazy and made a tomato mozzarella salad, green bean salad, cucumber salad, potato salad and a tasty green salad with apricots, baby shrimp, cucumbers and a jalapeno vinaigrette. There was BBQ chicken too, although by the time it came out I was too full of salad to have any!

Peach pie with ice cream or angel food cake with berries and whip cream for dessert. Not a bad Sunday huh?

Update: I didn't post an individual picture of the steamers - you can see them in the spread above. We ate them all with butter and lemon in like 3 minutes.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Glass Noodles!

This recipe is a variation of Jaden's recipe over at Steamy Kitchen. I've never used glass noodles before and I had a little bit of trouble finding them in the noodle isle of my Asian Market. None of the labels were in english but, luckily, the ingredients were. In Jaden's post she says that glass noodles are made from potato starch so I just searched for that in the ingredient lists!

See - tricky huh?

I sauteed thinly sliced onions and carrots with chopped garlic, red chile, and ginger. Once the onions and carrots where soft I added the sliced bok choy, de-stringed snap peas, raw shrimp, cooked noodles (just boil them for 5 minutes) some soy, honey and chopped mint. Just stir everything together until the vegetables are heated through and the shrimp are light pink and that's it!

I was hungry and scarfed this down but probably should have followed the recipe more closely. You're supposed to toss the cooked noodles with some sesame oil before you mix them into the veggie. I wish I had done this - it would have made the noodles less sticky.

Check out this neat trick! My julienning skills are less than great but I wanted my carrots sliced really thin for this dish. After peeling the outside of the carrot I continued to peel fat strips with a vegetable peeler - so thin you could see through them - see?

Side note: what do I do with all that sage in the background? It seems like a winter herb to me and I can only think to use it with roast chicken or something involving pumpkin - but it's so full now! What's a summer sage dish?

Anyway, I just cut the strips into thin pieces so they cooked quickly. They ended up being sort of noodle-like in the dish. I use peeler slices of carrot and zucchini like this as a healthy way to bulk up pasta dishes.

This was an easy dish, it just took some time to chop, slice and dice all of the ingredients. It's a great dish to use up all of the about-to-go-bad veggies in your fridge. You could even add leftover chicken or beef instead of the shrimp.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tuna Tartare - I'm so obviously unemployed

I finished up my job on Friday and now I'm making Tuna Tartare at 3pm on a Tuesday.  Sort of sad - right?  I was hoping that it would remind me of the delicious tartare I had in Easton, PA (of all places!) at The River Grille.  There's had this really great crunch that I was hoping I could duplicate with adding onions and cucumber but it wasn't the same.   

I started by chopping up some cucumber, red onion, garlic, nicoise olives, parsley and oregano then added some lemon zest, salt and pepper.

I diced up about a quarter pound of ahi tuna and mixed it with the other ingredients.  I added a little bit of olive oil, some lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Nice looking piece of tuna huh?

I made a little salad as a side with watercress, parsley, nicoise olives and grape tomatoes.  It was dressed really simply with lemon juice, olive oil, s&p.

The final product looked really pretty!  I formed it using a small Tupperware container.  I toasted up some pita to make pita chips for dipping.

Fancy, right?  I missed the little bit of sweetness you get with Asian inspired tartare like the one I had at River Grille - this was more Mediterranean.  But I've still got half of a piece of tuna left to play with - maybe I'll try a different tartare tomorrow!

Meat Free, High Protein #1

I received a pleading email from my sister the other day saying that she's desperate for recipes that don't have meat or vegetables but that are actually good for you. Tall order right? Well, she's pregnant and has developed a fair amount of food aversions so I guess I can forgive her for her pickyness. Since she's pretty picky even when she's not pregnant I'll have to take into account her normal dislikes too. Oh and she has a two year old running around so nothing can be too time consuming and she lives in Florida so the recipe shouldn't require hanging around a hot stove for too long either. This is getting more difficult.

My first suggestion actually came from my mom and involves tofu. I know, I know - I'm a carnivore damn it why don't I act like one? I've only posted a dozen or so posts and TWO of them are with TOFU. Well I'm sorry but this has hidden tofu and it's for the nutritional value more than anything else.

I love peanut butter and I'm pretty sure my sister does too so she should be able to stomach this peanut butter and banana smoothie*. Peanut butter and tofu = lots of protein.

Get out your blender or immersion blender and puree a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter, a half of a banana, a quarter of a block or so of silken tofu and some ice. If it needs liquid (mine didn't) add some milk, if it needs to be sweetened add some sugar or honey.

This makes a super easy snack or breakfast with lots of protein and potassium. Oh and cocoa or a squeeze of chocolate syrup would make this even better.  And chocolate has flavonoids! I don't know what that means, it sounds made up, but mmm flavonoids!

I also read about a PB&J smoothie recently that has peanut butter, tofu and grapes - I'll try that next time I have grapes on hand but today I had those just-about-to-go-bad bananas that I'll probably end up making bread or muffins with.

I'll talk easy salads with whole grains and beans in Meat Free, High Protein part deux - coming soon!

*My nephew calls them Mooies - isn't that so stinkin' cute?

Friday, July 18, 2008

The South Philly Special

There's been a little buzz on the internet about what my friends and I call the South Philly Special.  It actually might be an old buzz but Ron just stumbled upon it and insisted that I write this post.  Slashfood has an entry about what they call the "Philly Taco".  I'm proud to say that my friends have actually eaten one of these - I'm sad to say that I missed out on it.  Our recipe calls for half of a Jim's Steak and a piece of Lorenzo's pizza - simply wrap the piece of pizza around the steak and dig in.  

It's a perfect blend of meat grease and cheese grease.  I imagine that amount of grease and carbs is great at preventing hangovers which works out well considering no sober person would ingest one of these.  Lorenzo's, the pizza place for the South Street drunks, serves slices of really good pizza (even better when you're drunk) the size of your head - the perfect size to fit wrap up a cheesesteak.  The "Triple S" is best shared with friends in Lorenzo's mirrored "room of shame" - you know the mirrored room that forces you to watch your sloppy self scarf down this 40 grams of fat mess.  Now that's a good end to a night out in Philly.        

**I've blacked out the eyes to protect the identity of the shamed

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Epicurious is coming to Philly...

I love all things Epicurious, Bon appetit and Gourmet! Epicurious is going on a Farmer's Market tour this summer and they'll be visiting the lovely Reading Terminal. They've got the most beautiful local produce.

The website says:

"Epicurious is hitting the road to visit farmers' markets across the United States. We invite you to come meet Editor-in-Chief Tanya Steel and other Epicurious editors at markets in San Francisco, Portland, Oregon, Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York. While at the market, you can sign up to become an Epicurious member, get Epicurious recipes and shopping lists printed on TasteBook recipe cards, and go home with an eco-friendly Epicurious tote bag, perfect for the market—all for free!"

Guess what? I like free things! I'd love a free eco-friendly bag. They'll be in Philly from August 22nd - August 28th. Check out more info and some seasonal menus here: The Epicurious Farmer's Market Tour. Now all I have to do is remember to go!

*Ron gets the photo credit on this one - he asked the nice Amish man to snap these pics!