Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A match made in heaven.

From the people who bring you the Onion- the Onion AV club's taste testing section featuring, well-- just about the things that i would probably buy, look at or gross my friends out with. The Onion AV Club Taste Test section satisfies my darkest foodie desires-- semi edible gross packaged food with a focus on bacon/pig themed items from all over the world being forced upon friends and neighbors in a the hopes for a good story. Not only does it feature reviews of items like canned bacon, Pizza flavored beer, "Snack Impostors" and tons of crazy Asian inspired wacky beverages and foodstuffs, but a personal favorite of mine, batter blaster aerosol pancake/waffle batter.

Yes- the forgetful chef does love a really fancy meal here and there, but lets just say that my love of all food is multi faceted- a little light and a little dark, with a hint of humor and the seriousness of a french chef all rolled into one.

You out there- bloggers and friends- you don't know me very well yet- but let me tell you this... This blog was made for me, it is like the funner and grosser version of mcsweeneys, and it is possibly written by some sort of doppelganger forgetful chef-- designed to either destroy or partner up with me to create the most perfect and terrifying union ever known to man.

More than half of the items in here are items I've brought home to confused room mates, tortured boyfriends and forced friends and siblings to share in the gross excitement of some sort of oddly flavored candy or treat. Because of my "real job" and my foodie nature- i can't seem to resist these odd food sensations- be it good or bad. Food is necessary. Unlike expensive shoes, clothes, cars, or electronics- we actually need food to survive. Be it luxury or trashy or odd, i never feel the guilt of buyers remorse when i buy food.

I challenge you all this week to get a friend go to your local ethnic foods market and try something weird together. You don't have to like it- but you gotta try it. Hey- you may even love it, or at least you'll get a good story out of it.

Cucumber flavored Pepsi??!? Get me some!
Bacon Flavored Mayonnaise? We're making loaded potato salad tonight.
Tomato Vodka? Pass the Bloody Marys please!
Chocolate covered dried shrimp? Perfect for PMS because of the salty sweet combo.

I think Andrew Zimmern would be proud.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mushroomania 2009

To celebrate Booty Queen's birthday and visit to Richmond, i decided to create a menu centered around her favorite food, mushrooms.

Mushroomania 2009
Mushroom ravioli with balsamic brown butter sauce
Stuffed button mushrooms with basil oil
Champignon German Brie with water crackers
Black Bottom Ricotta Cupcakes with Chocolate blood orange butter cream
(cupcakes look like mushrooms- and lets face it- we love them)
(potlucked- Garlic Knots, Tuscan white bean stew, guacamole, and grape and orange soda.... somehow i think they missed the concept of mushroomania- but it was delicious all the same)

(These pictures were taken with my cellphone.. so hopefully I'll get a nicer camera eventually.. )

I had some really great helpers with this feast, Coco Carnage, an awesome pivot with a deadly behind, member of the Poe's Punishers team on River City and a general foodie, and Scarriet Tubman my derby wifey, captain of the Uncivil Warriors team on River City, up and coming jammer and a better cook than she thinks.

Mushroom Ravioli

They started out as triangles, moved to whole squares as we got lazy (stuffing ravioli takes time!), and then we started cutting shapes out of the dough-- this here is a flower ravioli- which impressively stayed together in the boil.

i doubled this recipe to feed a crowd

1/2 pound fresh mixed mushrooms-not button
1 small package of dried woodland/Forrest blend mixed mushrooms
1 package of small won ton wrappers
1/2 medium white onion, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic
10 ounces ricotta cheese
4 ounces shredded asiago or Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling over top of finished pasta
olive oil

1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp water
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for topping

1 stick butter
1/4-1/3 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Reconstitute dried mushrooms with 1/2 cup of boiling water. drain mushrooms after they have plumped, and chop roughly chop mushrooms roughly, mince onion and garlic.

In a stainless pain, heat pan over medium heat, add olive oil to coat bottom, and once the oil smokes a little and add 1/2 of the mushroom onion garlic mixture. cook well- tossing frequently, until cooked. I like my mushrooms to have a little bite left- and since they'll be cooking briefly in the boiling pasta water- leave them a little chewy. Leave mushrooms in pan and deglaze with a scant 1/4 cup of good sherry. once sherry has been cooked out or absorbed, remove mushroom mixture and place in a large bowl. repeat this process with 1/2 half of mushroom mixture.

once all of you your mushroom mixture have been cooked, add ricotta, asiago (or parm) and salt and pepper to taste. mix well and set aside.

set out a large baking sheet- and clear out some room in your freezer! place one whole won ton wrapper on a cutting board, and brush edges with beaten egg. add one heaping teaspoon of the mushroom mixture to the center,and add another won ton wrapper over top, directly lining up the edges. using the back of a fork, press the edges together to make a tight seal. set on baking sheet and repeat. once you've filled up your sheet- you can place some parchment paper over the top and do another layer. i don't recommend doing more than 2 layers per sheet as won ton wrappers can tear- and contents will empty themselves in the boiling pasta water- which is very sad after all that work.

you can also take a large simple shaped cookie cutter- like a flower, sun, moon or plain circle, and cut out shaped- taking care to ensure that the edges are still pressed together. We also did some triangle raviolis- using less filling and folding 1 ravioli corner to corner.

set a large pot of water on the stove top and turn on high. once its almost at a simmer- start your sauce. when it boils- add a couple good pinches of kosher salt.


Balsamic Brown Butter Sauce
in an extra large pan (the largest frying pan you have) melt a stick of butter on medium/medium low heat. once the butter is melted- brown the butter just by heating it. the milk solids in the butter will take on a darker hue- and the color will be similar to a caramel color. be careful though-- you don't want burnt butter- just once that has been achieved add 1/4-1/3 cup balsamic vinegar and reduce.

Once raviolis float on the surface of the water- you know they're done. toss the raviolis in the sauce and serve immediately. If the sauce seems too thin-- add just a dash of the pasta water to it and toss well, or leave raviolis in there to cook some more- tossing gently. top with a chiffonade of basil and asiago cheese.

Stuffed Button Mushrooms
1 package of large button mushrooms
1 cup of mix from the olive bar-- can be just olives- but i used marinated onions, garlic, 4 types of olives, italian sweet peppers, and a dash of everything else on there. just make sure to pit the olives- and stay away from anything with stuffed almonds. yuck.

1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper
basil oil

preheat oven to 400

clean the mushrooms using a damp towel- don't rinse them- they become all water logged and slimey. just take the time- and wipe them off. remove the stems carefully- and throw away- or save for later- a great topping for pizza. set aside caps.

chop finely anything you got from the olive bar at the grocery store. if your grocery store doesn't have a good olive bar-- get an olive medly jar instead. mix with grated cheese, and add salt and pepper to taste. on a large baking sheet, fill mushroom caps with as much mixture as will fit and drizzle with basil oil. cook 15-25 minutes or until done. mushrooms will have reduced in size, cheese will be melted.

Black Bottom Ricotta Cupcakes with Chocolate blood orange butter cream

We didn't have any cream cheese, but since i had the ricotta on hand for the ravioli, we just substituted it out. I was planning on making plain ol chocolate butter cream, after some debating with Co Co on what sort of icing we should make, we settled on this unique combination. I had the blood oranges on hand- and they were so ripe they were screaming to be used. I thought of those chocolate oranges you get around Christmas- and thought what a great combination orange and chocolate can be. the blood orange made it seem more deluxe than regular orange, and the icing was simultaneously sweet and tart- with just enough sweetness to make you feel decadent and just enough tart to surprise you. the blood orange was significantly more tart than a regular orange- and the color of the orange mixed with the chocolate was a lovely mauvey brown color that perfectly accented the black and white cupcakes.

Black Bottom Cupcakes
8 ounces ricotta
1 egg
1/3 cup white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Line muffin tins with paper cups or lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, beat the ricotta, egg, 1/3 cup sugar and 1/8 teaspoon salt until light and fluffy. Stir in the chocolate chips and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, cocoa, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Make a well in the center and add the water, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Stir together until well blended. Fill muffin tins 1/3 full with the batter and top with a dollop of the ricotta mixture. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

Chocolate Blood Orange Butter Cream
2 sticks butter, room temperature

1 pound powdered sugar
dash salt
2-3 tbl blood orange syrup

1 tsp blood orange rind

1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips- melted and smooth.

if you can't find blood orange-- use a mandarin or clementine. red grapefruit would be nice too. you'll need less sugar because of the tartness of the blood orange. I haven't tried this with lime or lemon yet-- but i suspect that the results are just as good...
Blood orange surup

squeeze the juice of 1-2 blood oranges. you'll need about a third of a cup of blood orange juice. in a small sauce pan. reduce the blood orange juice to a thick syrup slowly- do not add sugar. set the pan in an ice bath and stir until cooled.

using a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment beat the butter until it is smooth and fluffy. if your butter is cold- start with a paddle attachment- and then switch over to a whisk once your butter is sticking to the sides of the bowl. Whisk the butter on high- and scrape sides as needed. alternating with tablespoons of chocolate and the blood orange sauce, beat the mixture together. once all of the chocolate and blood orange has been incorporated, slowly add powdered sugar and beat on low. when you've added 2/4 a pound of powdered sugar- taste for sweetness. add more if desired. add orange rind and whip well.

a note. use immediately-and store in the fridge. or you can leave the icing in the mixer and beat on high ocassionally-- since fats and liquids don't really like eachother- there's definitely a possibility for seperation here- and it's always a shame to have to waste icing.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

butternut squash cavatappi with shrimp

I created this recipe on accident, when I was trying to make filling for a ravioli. The filling was too thin- but it was really tasty, so I made it a sauce instead. The sauce itself is a brilliant shade of neon orange pumpkin, which is exciting for adults and children alike.

Sometimes- when I'm feeling really crazy- I use roasted beets instead! The sauce turns the most ridiculous shade of pinky creamy purple and it delights me to serve this to people who have never eaten my cooking before. they look at this purply, coiled mess of pasta and look at me quizzically, and then look at their bowl, as I look at them with a huge eyes and an excited smile- watching them take that first bite only to be surprised that it actually tastes great. The fact that nature can make anything that orange or that purple still fills me with wonderment and hope for brave new dishes.

For a change like to add sauteed mushrooms and leek-- or even just a sprinkling of peas for a nice contrast. As a kid, when mom and I would go to the grocery store, I was obsessed with "peas and carrots" pea and carrot shaped gumballs that were a quarter for a giant hand full. I still have a special place in my heart for the vegetable combination, and my brain has been wired to see "peas and carrots" every time I see orange and green together.

Butternut Squash with Cavatappi and Sauteed Shrimp

1 medium sized butternut squash
1/2 a white onion, sliced into thin strips
3 cloves peeled garlic- whole
2 tsp rubbed thyme
1 small package unflavored goat cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
1 pound cavatappi or fun shaped pasta-- penne rigate works well too
1-1.5 pounds shrimp, peeled, de-vained, & tails removed
1 lemon cut unto wedges
salt and pepper
olive oil

preheat oven to 400
Peel the butternut squash, and chop into about 1 inch cubes. Place squash with peeled garlic on a baking tray, and coat with olive oil, salt and pepper and rubbed thyme- bake at 400- shaking and tossing veggies-- they are done when the tip of a knife inserted into a larger piece of squash comes out clean and easy-- like a baked potato. You don't want much resistance- we're looking for done through - so the sauce will be velvety smooth.

In a blender or food processor, add squash/onion/garlic, 1/4 cup Parmesan, goat cheese. Blend until smooth. Taste for salt and pepper, add if needed. If mixture is too thick- add 1/2 to 1 cup pasta water to thin it out. While pasta is cooking-- preheat a non stick pan to medium with a little olive oil- and saute the shrimp until pink. Do not over cook-- take them off with just a shade of grey left in them- and cover with foil off of the heat. Combine cooked pasta, butternut squash puree, shrimp and toss well-- add pasta water if needed, and toss well. Serve with hot fresh bread, a sprinkling of cheese, and a lemon wedge one the side.

Great with basil or oregano-- or Italian seasoning on the squash. Good also with chicken cutlets, as a side to pot roast, or as a hearty vegetarian meal. Make it Vegan by subbing out vegan low fat cream cheese and nutritional yeast for Parmesan.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

v day icing overload

In honor of valentine's day, me and a couple friends went over to play Wii and experience the loving feelings of competition (wii boxing) and embarrassment over the game Boogie. Not unlike real, bonified, cupid -inspired love, the beginning parts were nervous and polite but ended up resulting in various members of the party pairing up and trash talking others.

Since it was a friend's birthday as well, i made some snacks to keep up our energy. Because i'm really weird- i didn't like the way the first icing turned out. the butter was slightly too cold- and it was grainy textured.... so i started over and ate some of the reject icing- which felt really great later when i was drinking off the v-day haze with friends and new friends. Note to self- do not mix sparks and reject icing. Let your roommates lick the beater.

Chocolate Cupcake Surprise with milk chocolate butter cream (2.0)
i used the joy of cooking recipe- with some changes in green. I think the caramel truffle addition really added something special to the cupcake. Even though it was valentines day, i only received 1 marriage proposal because of the cupcakes. significantly lower than my usual number, but I'll chalk it up to their nervousness from my extreme wii skills.

Cocoa Devil's Food Cake, from Joy of Cooking, 75th Anniversary edition © 2006
2 c sifted cake flour
1 tsp baking soda ( i used an extra 1/2 a teaspoon-- because I've had that box for a while. i don't really know if that's what you're supposed to do-- but i figured what harm could it do)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 c sugar
1 c buttermilk or yogurt (I used buttermilk powder- and instead of 2 tbl to 1 c water- i used 3 tbl to 1 c water for an extra creaminess)
1/2 c non alkalized cocoa powder ( I used dutch process cocoa)
1 tsp vanilla ( i used 2 tsp vanilla)
1/2 c unsalted butter
2 large eggs ( i used organic eggs)
28 frozen caramel truffles or your favorite candy

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Whisk together in small bowl: cake flour, baking soda, and salt.
Whisk together in a separate bowl: 1 cup of sugar, buttermilk or yogurt, cocoa powder, and vanilla.
Beat butter in large bowl until creamy, about 30 seconds.Gradually add the other cup of sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Beat in eggs, one at a time.
On low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the buttermilk mixture in 2 parts, beating until smooth and scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary. Spoon into baking cups. Insert 1 frozen truffle into each cupcake and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Makes about 28 cupcakes.

Milk Chocolate Frosting
3 ounces melted good quality milk chocolate chips at room temp
2 sticks room temp butter
2 tsp vanilla- but i bet a nice liquor would be tasty too.
2 tbl whole milk
about 3/4 of a pound of powdered sugar
pinch salt

in a mixing bowl, whip the butter until its creamy and smooth. add melted chocolate, milk, salt and whip. With the beater on low, slowly add the powdered sugar. taste the icing frequently. depending on the kind of chocolate you use- it could go from yummy to cloying in an instant.

Easy white bean and garlic dip for a crowd
2 cans white cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
1 lemon- zest ed and juiced
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup good olive oil
2 tbl dried mint or 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped finely chopped
salt and pepper
bag of your favorite corn chips or unseasoned pita chips-- i like the lightly salted variety.

put everything in a blender or food processor (except the chips) and blend. taste- adjust flavor if needed and serve. if it gets too thick- add a little water. This dip is equally nice with the addition of goat cheese, avocado, hot sauce, artichoke, peas or even roasted red peppers.

happy cooking. don't forget the bread.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

things i can't live without. kitchen edition

I love grocery shopping. those who know me know that i can spend literally hours touching, sniffing, squeezing, thumping, tapping, shaking and weighing just about everything in the grocery store. My grocery store habbits have been poked fun of more times than i can remember, boyfriends have threatned break ups if i didn't leave the cheese section immediately, and people often mistake me for a worker- because i guess i carry that vibe of "I know what i'm doing here, stand back!"

Here in Richmond, we're lucky to have MANY great small stores and a couple big or fancy ones so you can get anything and everything you could ever think of in the realm of culinary arts. From Ellwoods, toHappy Mart to Tan A-- if a recipe calls for it, you can find it-and i'm here to help. We may not have little Jamaica like NYC or Chinatown like DC or San Fran or even the French Quarter in Nola, but man-- if you know where to look- Richmond is covered in things to eat, and people trying to get you to eat it.

this entry is going to change and update as i see fit- or as i find more and more interesting things in our fair city.

Part 1, things i always keep on hand- for quick meals or special ocassions. regardless of the season- these are the things that keep me cooking and keep my friends showing up for dinner every week.

roasted red peppers
goat cheese
unsalted butter
olive oil
penne pasta
organic/free range eggs
frozen corn
unsalted almonds
chocolate bars or gourmet chips
cans of white beans
cous cous
low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
espresso powder
really nice mustard ( i have quite a thing for mustard)
white 2 buck chuck
dried herbs de provence
fresh herbs
egg replacer
sea salt
soy sauce
paremesan cheese
chedar cheese
hot sauce
cans of crushed tomatoes
tons of dried herbs

On top of that is an ever rotating list of seasonal vegetables and fruit- and whatever protein strikes me. I don't believe in making lists to go to the grocery store. The grocery store is a cornucopia of seasonality and freshness, i start in the produce section, and use what's in season or looks good to inspire my meal. It is really important to talk to produce managers and butchers- if you want something, tell them! It will surprise you how much they appreciate requests.

Part 2 Places i Love to shop
Ellwood Thompsons-- local and scenesterific- It's where to go to score a missed connection, propose to the cheese guys, buy local seasonal produce, buy bulk seasonings and spices, spot local musicians and play "count the emo glasses". Entirely too close to where i live-for my walet's sake- the soups are good, the grilled asparagus is legendary, and did i mention billy bread? I hear they're opening a DC location- they've recently expanded through the end of the block- and there's a new cafe open. Will report back soon on the cafe.
Tan A Superstore-- everything asian, from food to woks, no credit- cash or checks only. and a smell that is aquired. Possibly the most overwhelmingly smelly and loud grocery store in the state- it is great for cheap ingredients and a walk on the wild side. Vegans appreciate the formed tofu section- and if PETA ever got a look at the live fish "aquarium" they'd die on the spot. Like walking off the plane in korea- the attendants yell at you, no one wants to help you, and nothing is in english- but all this adds to the mystey and excitement and makes for a fun mini adventure.
Willow Lawn Kroger- generally better produce than the rest- surprisingly good beer/wine section
Forest Hill Market-- seasonal, saturdays, go early- good coffee
Whole Foods.... Drooool. lobster mushrooms. and seafood to die for. Cheeeeeeeeese... friendly meat and dairy!
Fresh Market-- for when i like to pretend i'm rich and have all the money in the world.
Bodega Latina- guava paste. quince preserves. pineapple sorbet. banana leaves!
Indo Pak Grocery store-- bulk indian seasonings, way cool stuff
European Market-- truffle oil, gourmet picknick offerings, knowledgeable staff
The Yellow Umbrella. Family joint-- really friendly people- very knowledgeable- best place for seafood in town- where all the chefs go. they know their fish- and can get in just about anything.

game night

So i decided to cook last night. It had been a busy week filled with silliness and derby as usual, and i really missed cooking Sunday dinner as i usually do… I was "helping" at the dominon/baltimore/rcr scrimmage Sunday night- so i didn't really get a chance to do my usual routine. I know it seems very traditionalist of me (I know you’re shocked!), but i really enjoy cooking sunday dinner for my “family”- which usually includes a couple standard guests and some derby people. Cooking Sunday dinner gives me a chance to show my friends how much i appreciate them- and when I finish, i get to relax with my friends and have a good time. Lately I’ve been working on getting to know my roommate better- which is something I'm really keen on doing. I'm happy living with Sara. She’s an easygoing roomie, with a great humor about her and wisdom beyond her years. I really envy her capacity for compassion, patience and charity towards others. She adores pepper, and I think we’re a pretty good match.....So i e-mailed a couple friends and got excited to finally cook. It ended up being Ram Jam, Aaron, Kfed, A-Damn, Sara and Myself. Even Regular Mike was maybe going to come at some point- but didn’t in the end. I have to say- it still makes me nervous to cook for people that i never have before. For those who don't know me too well, cooking for me--is very personal. A lot of thought goes into what I’m cooking- and for whom, since it’s a crap shoot whether or not they'll like it-- or for some, a challenge to even eat it.....

No reservations (my favorite show) had a new episode coming on at 10. Anthony was in the Azores- a place that I’ve read about many times and is most definitely on my list of places to go before i die. From what i know about Azorean food- they do a lot of meat and cheeses- a lot of stews and slow food, sometimes cooking on crags in the volcanic rock that make up 90% of the archipelagos. I read once, that the natives dig a hole in the ground - put a crock pot in between layers of banana leaf and burlap over and over- bury it in the ground for 4-6 hours, and let the hot lava flowing underneath do the cooking. This apparently imparts a subtle sulfurus taste and a tenderness that is unmatched. I think that this is both magical and ingenious and it makes me feel the wonderment i first felt when my grandmother first showed me how to make jello.....In my opinion- Azorean cuisine is very similar to Portuguese/Spanish food- although i'm sure the natives would tell you otherwise.

I decided to make pan roasted flat iron steak with roasted red peppers and smoked red pepper puree, with a side of green "antipasto" salad, and lemon infused basmati rice. Someone gave me some really nice tequila- and since I don’t really drink very often- I decided to make it a special occasion, and made “growed’ up lemonade.”....The green antipasto is a combination of asparagus, haricot vert, cippolini onions, prosciutto, oil cured olives and garlic all roasted together with salt and pepper and olive oil. Then i made a balsamic and anchovy reduction, which i then mixed with olive oil, and white burgundy mustard. I served it well mixed and still warm- and it was perfect. The saltiness of the prosciutto mixed well with the different variations of saltiness of the balsamic and the anchovy- and it made this really rich and buttery sauce over these little crispy green asparagus and green beans. It was a feast for the eyes as well as the palate, and outshined the steak a little bit.

The steak was satisfying with this incredibly colored reddish orange sauce that bled into the rice and looked suspiciously like my favorite Indian dish. The steak was juicy and tender and the acidity of the rice was a nice compliment to the rich sweetness of the smoked red pepper sauce. A-Damn also made really nice Portuguese green beans- which were peppery little green beans in a garlicky and sweet tomato and onion sauce. I had some romano in the fridge- so we shaved some over the top and it was yummy! I’ll ask him for the recipe. ....

“Sunday Dinner”
....Dedicated to Anthony Bourdain who tells me to drink more and eat more and travel more on a weekly basis.....
double red pepper steak
2 flat iron steaks or 1 skirt steak
1 12 ounce jar of Spanish or Portuguese smoked red peppers in water (not oil)
1 12 ounce jar or roasted red peppers (or roast your own- equal to 1 big pepper or 2 small)
2 garlic cloves (roasted preferably)salt and pepper ( i used med sea salt flake, and dalmatian pepper- which is a combo of white and black pepper from penzy's)
olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 (for the steaks and the antipasto salad)....The flat iron steak is seasoned with salt and pepper only- and in this case i used 2 non coated pans with oven proof handles- heated to medium high. I cut the steak in half width wise, & seared the steaks on both sides-2 to a pan, and stuck them in the oven until their internal temperature was about 135/140. remove steaks from pan- and set aside. reserve juices.....drain a 14 ounce jar of smoked red peppers (available in either the Italian or Spanish side of the grocery store) and add contents to a blender.

in the blender add 1/3 cup meat juices and garlic. Blend until pureed. Set aside.finely chop roasted red peppers and set on a dish. Once the steak has rested at least 5 minutes, cut into thin strips- across the grain of the meat, and set over peppers. Pour red pepper puree over meat and serve over the lemon rice.....“Antipasto” saladbunch asparagus1/2- 1 lb fresh green beans1/2 lb cippolini onions, or a 1/2 of a large yellow/white onionhand full chopped/pitted olives1 anchovy- don't get scared yet.1 tbs nice mustard1/4 cup balsamic, reduced to a syrup (2 tbls)1/4 lb prosciutto or nice hamsalt and pepperolive oilremove ends of asparagus and beans (already washed). cut asparagus stalks in to thirds- or just break them. beans are halved. put on a heavy duty cookie pan or roasting pan. chop onions into small strips, leave garlic, pitted olives or medley from olive station, and anchovy whole. Toss together with olive oil, salt and pepper. roast at 400- shaking pan every 10-15 minutes for even brownness until beans/asparagus is fork tender but with a little crunch left.
chop prosciutto into bits. set aside
Chop anchovy and roasted garlic very small. in a large oven safe bowl- combine balsamic syrup, mustard, and anchovy/garlic mixture together, drizzle in enough olive oil to make a tight/thick dressing. add a tsp or so of honey or sugar if mixture is too acidic or salty. add salt or pepper to taste- but it shouldn't need much. add prosciutto & hot vegetables and toss well. cover with foil and set on top of a hot stove or in the oven if needed. Serve still warm- tossing occasionally
basmati rice,
2 tbls salt (kosher or table)
2 tbl olive oil1 lemon, juiced.
make rice according to manufactures directions- adding salt and olive oil to water and also add 1/2 of lemon juice and include 1/2 of the already juiced lemon. once rice is done cooking- fluff with a fork and pour over rest of lemon juice and remove lemon half
.....Growed' up lemonade
(makes one serving)
lemons, sugar, warm water, tequila, ice. cut a lemon in 1/2 lengthwise
cut the 1/2 lemon length wise again and then into 3rds, making small wedges.....In a glass put 2 tbls (or more!) sugar over mini lemon wedges. with the back of a wooden spoon- or a cocktail muddler, crush wedges and sugar together well. add about a 1/3 cup of really warm water to mixture and stir until sugar is dissolved. add 1 ounce nice tequila- ice cubes and stir.

Last weekend's derby trip

From last weekend's derby trip to philly.

I wanted to make something really simple, healthy and yummy for the derby road trip to philly, so the first thing i thought was Tacos. I had made Adam and Natalie some similar tacos when they brought their little bundle home for the first time. Their version had homemade tomatillo sauce, queso fresco cheese, roasted onions and we broiled them in the oven till they were crispy. Natalie had been craving Mexican her entire pregnancy, so making her this version in an enchilada was a no brainer after she only ate saltine cracker and ice chips for about 2 days.

I didn't have a lot of time to get things ready- we were leaving around dinnertime after work friday, adamn was coming over to fix my dead battery in my car, and i still had to pack and walk the dog. I love to procrastinate!

While Adamn and I were tinkering in the car, I let the shredded chicken “marinate” in the green sauce so it could sop up all the flavor. The fix was quick and painless, and Adamn did a great job, so I gave him a packet of tacos to go to thank him.

After we were done, I packed a few derby shirts, Tylenol and a sleeping bag and didn’t need much more. I packed up all the tacos, wrapped up a couple lime wedges, and a ton of napkins and headed over to Morty and Coco’s house to meet Betty and Carman so we could be on our way to philly. I think the ladies liked the tacos, and they were way better than any fast food we could have gotten off of the interstate. Plus the car smelled like Mexican food and the ladies were quite with eating- if even just for a couple minutes. As I'm prone to do—I made way more than anyone could eat, and we had plenty left over by the time we actually got to tiny hotel room in big philly. Bonus tacos!

Road trip tacos, inspired by my favorite fast food place- Chipolte.
feeds 5-8 depending on your hunger
5 organic boneless skinless chicken thighs
kosher salt
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves of garlic
1 jar of smoked or roasted red peppers, chopped roughly
3 limes
1 8 ounce container of low fat sour cream
Squirt of honey
10-15 small soft tortillas
3 very ripe avacados
1 8oz can tomatillo sauce
1 bag frozen yellow corn
1 jalapeno pepper seeded, and minced finely
couple tsps of chili seasoning
couple tsps cumin or 1/4 c cilantro leaves chopped very finely

In a pot, put in enough water to fill half way up, and a good amount of kosher salt. Or- if you want you can do ½ water and ½ chicken stock- this makes the chicken rich and velvety tasting—but isn’t super necessary. You want the water to be somewhat salty- like pasta water. Put the chicken thighs in the water, and simmer the chicken thighs until they are done through the middle-between 10-15 minutes- no pink. Don’t boil the chicken-it’ll make it tough. When done the water will be filled with excess chicken fat- making this a healthier dish all around.

Remove the chicken from the water and set on a large cutting board. let them sit for 5-10 minutes- like you would let any meat rest.After the meat has rested, take 2 big forks and shred starting at the thinnest part of the chicken. To shred chicken, use two forks and insert the prongs back to back -- like you're playing the spoons- into the chicken while quickly pulling the forks away from each other. do this to all the chicken.

In a large bowl, add a can of tomatillo green sauce. i like to make my own- but since i was in a rush- i got a good quality pre made kind from the Latino foods store on broad-near broad and libby- you can also find this in any well stocked grocery store that has an international section. to the bowl, add chopped smoked/roasted red pepper, the juice of 1 lime, salt and pepper, a little honey, and some cumin or cilantro- whatever you have handy. add the chicken to the mixture and mix well so all of the shredded chicken is coated in the sauce. let the chicken sit in the sauce as long as possible.

You may wonder why i don't just use chicken breasts here. Sure, you could use them- but they're more expensive, and i think the breast tends to dry out quicker than the thigh. the thigh has a little more fat- which has more flavor and about 3 textures of the meat on it- the darker pinker meat from the section closest to the bone, that yummy connective muscle in between the larger muscles, and there's a little lighter meat towards the top of the thigh that shreads nicely. Plus its less expensive- which is better for a crowd and i think it has a more chicken-y flavor than the white meat. The darker meat stays moist and tender and sort of reminds me of the dark meat on turkey-- a prized part at my family's thanksgiving dinners.

Lauren and i take our guacamole very seriously. we love it and eat it any chance we get, and we've both made our own recipes better over the years. i think mine is best.

Cut the avocados going around the pit- tap the pit with a sharp knife (carefully) and remove the pit. Save 1 pit for storing in the guacamole later- if you're not going to eat it all in once sitting. the pit from the avocado helps prevent the guacamole from turning brown for some reason.

add avocado to a large bowl. smash 2 cloves of garlic and insert them into a garlic press, and press the garlic over the avocado mixture. this is one of the best tricks i know to get good garlic flavor incorporated into the guac. the garlic press minces the garlic very fine- while juicing the garlic somewhat. I’ve used roasted garlic before- but i like the tangy and bright flavor of the raw garlic. if you're not so into the garlic- start with 1 or a 1/2 a clove. zest 1/2 a lime, and add zest to guacamole. roll the lime under your hand on the counter until its soft- or if it's especially hard- microwave it for 10 seconds. squeeze the lime over the avacado and mix with the back of a fork.

i like it slightly chunky- but my sister uses a potato masher to mash her avacado- which makes a really creamy dip. add a pinch of sea salt, a couple grinds of black pepper, a couple dashes of your favorite hot sauce, and about a 1/2 a teasp of garlic powder and onion powder. mix well and taste- add more lime, salt, or pepper to your liking. i usually have to add at least a whole lime until i get it the way i like it.

Corn Salsa
Defrost corn, drain, and add to a bowl. Add a couple tsp of chili seasoning, salt and pepper, and start with ½ the amount of minced jalapeno and ½ a lime. Stir together and taste. If you want it spicier or with more lime- add to your liking.

Sour cream
In the jar of sour cream, add a little cumin and a little lime- and mix really well.

Assemble in the style of chipotle
rip off a large (about 18 inches or so) piece of heavy duty foil and place 2 tortillas down. Add chicken mixture, top with corn salsa, guacamole, and sour cream. Fold up the tacos and sit them side by side in the foil standing up roll down and tuck in the foil so you have a little handy package of tacos. Enjoy!i made all this food for less than 20 dollars.

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