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Monday, March 06, 2006

medieval recipes translated

Via Apartment Therapy, the Kitchen:
medieval recipes
Finally! I've been waiting years for this! (Insert witty middle English phrase here.)

Sunday, March 05, 2006

hands-down best margarita recipe EVER

I wish I could take credit for this, but it was passed down to me (mere hours ago) by my friend Lisa, amazing hostess. This was my first year watching the Oscars and thanks to Jon Stewart and Lisa, who hosts a party with prizes and trivia, it was a blast. Anyway, the margaritas:

12 oz. limeade concentrate (the can from the frozen section of your local grocer).
12 oz. corona.
12 oz. tequila.
12 oz. fresca.

That's it, friends. Delicious. Bring on the summer weather because my cocktail is in hand.

More Hominy...Just For Ashley

Although much smack has been talked about hominy from our Northern friends, Ashley and I know it's good.

Ingredients:


3 eggs (organic and local of course)
1/4 pound fresh mexican queso (available at the bodega on fifth Ave as well as many other establishments)
1 can hominy, drained
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small jalepeno pepper, diced finely
1 package of good flour tortillas
A heap of good butter.
A splash of cumin
A good bit of kosher salt

Procedures:

1) Sautee chopped onion and jalepeno in butter for a few minutes and then add hominy and cook for at least another 5 minutes.
2) Beat eggs with salt and cumin.
3) Add beaten eggs and crumbled queso to hominy. Stir until eggs are scrambled and queso gets melty.
4) Serve with flour tortillas.

For the love of lavender

I just have to report on a new cheese I discovered at the Whole Foods: Rollingstone Aged Anise and Lavender Chevre. It has a delightfully crumbly texture and spicy floral flavor. Now if only I could figure out how to make Dragonfly's lavender gimlet at home, I would be able to serve both together...

party diy


Kitchen experimentation

Last night, I looked in my fridge and I had these ingredients: sea beans(deliciously salty, crunchy from the whole foods), organic mustard greens, and extra firm tofu. I of course also had open bottles of vegetarian oyster sauce and sri racha sweet garlic hot sauce (available at the clintonville asian markets). What to do? Throw them all together with some really tasty "Japanese style curry noodles" purchased at the Trader Joes. The result was damn good, if I do say so myself. The crunchy saltiness of the sea beans complemented the tangy spiciness of the mustard greens and the curry noodles (and the tofu picked up the flavor of everything else, as always).

Ingredients:

4 oz sea beans, chopped like scallions
1 block extra firm tofu, cubed
1 bunch mustard greens
1 package (9 oz) curry noodles (from the Joes)
A couple of squirts of sri racha sweet garlic chili sauce
3 tbsp of vegetarian oyster sauce
A splash of canola oil

Procedures:

1) Bring water to a boil and cook curry noodles.
2) Sautee tofu in canola oil for a few (3-5) minutes.
3) Add mustard greens slowly until all are wilted. Add hot sauce and oyster sauce
4) Add chopped sea beans. Cook for one minute and turn off the heat.
5) Toss with noodles.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Someone finally brought my cake in from the rain

I’m no cake baker – mostly I’m known for my edible, yet frightening, cake-tastrophes. Like last year’s infamous ho-ho cake, complete with globs of melted marshmallow lurking within (NOT as good as it sounds), or my attempt at grandma’s “famous” Dump Cake (I should’ve taken a cue from the name of this one), or the more recent pineapple upside-down brick. But these failures do not stop me from trying, oh no. There’s something about baking a cake that is so ... exciting – the mixing, whipping, frosting, the satisfying mess it makes out of my kitchen, and the hope that This Time It Will Be Different.

I’m happy to say that This Time It Was. Ben’s birthday cake this year is – not awful! In fact, it’s pretty good. Why? I used a cake mix. And I didn’t try anything fancy. And I bought – GASP – actual cake pans. I have finally learned the secret of baking:

1. Limited improvisation
2. Following of directions
3. The right tools

Voila!
No recipe here (after all, it’s a mix, with a standard cream cheese-type frosting), so I just thought I’d share this breakthrough with you. The only thing I can take credit for is smearing a little raspberry jam on each layer, which was a good addition.

So thanks, Betty Crocker, you sly fox. I will ignore your artificial flavorings and hydrogenated oils JUST THIS ONCE because you make me feel ... like a natural woman baker.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Deep Fried Eggs: An Experiment in Deliciousness, But at What Price?



Okay, so, let me put this bluntly: I love deep-fried foods. Love them. If there's a food that I love, I promise you, I love it even more if it's been boiled in oil. Candy bars? Better deep fried. Ice cream? Better deep fried. Oatmeal - well, I'm still waiting for someone clever enough to encase it in something delicious and fry it deep, but I'd be willing to wager my first-born that it's better deep fried.
Which brings me to the humble egg. Eggs are also one of my favorite foods, and I find them to be at their best when cooked most simply: hard-boiled. Yes, put an egg in cold water, bring it to a boil, cook it for one minute, then turn off the heat, let it sit just six minutes longer in the heated water...and mere moments later with just a twist of the pepper mill and a dash of salt...you have the perfect food. (Well, okay, some vegans might take offense to this last statement, but just pretend, for a moment, if you will). Soooo, this all led me to ask: if I really think eggs are the bee's knees, would they be even better deep-fried? Always eager to try something new, I accepted my own challange without hesitation (yes, I really am that weird).
After plowing through my piles of cookbooks to see if such a dish even existed (I knew about Scotch Eggs, which are hard-boiled eggs encased in sausage and then deep-fried, but I wanted something...purer and without all the meat) I found a recipe that would be perfect. It came from my favorite Thai cookbook in the world, called "Real Thai", by Nancie McDermott. In it, she described a recipe called, "Kai Leuk Koey" or, for all you non-Thai speakers out there, "Son-In-Law Eggs". A deep fried egg recipe, and Thai, to boot!
Well, to make a VERY long story short (sorry), I made the eggs according to her recipe and they were...absolutely delicious! Yes, I worried that all my efforts (and about half a gallon of vegetable oil) would be in vain, but the eggs were wonderful and I would urge everyone to try making them. They were warm, crispy, and crunchy on the outside and soft and yummy in the middle. They are topped with fried shallots and garlic and a gooey-sweet brown sugar/fish sauce...sauce. Mmmm. Pure decadence.
Here's the recipe:
Make delicious sauce:
Combine 1/4 C brown sugar, 1/3 C tamarind liquid*, 3 T water, and 3 T fish sauce (vegetarians can substitute a mixture of 1/4 C vegetable stock mixed with 1 t soy sauce for the fish sauce) in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then simmer for about ten minutes until reduced and syrup-y. Set aside.
1. Hard boil a couple eggs according to the method mentioned above (or whichever method you prefer...just err on the undercooked side, since they will be deep-fried later)
2. Peel them, then WIPE THEM VERY DRY with paper towels.
3. Thinly slice 1/4 C shallots and 2 T garlic.
4. Bring a 3 inch depth of vegetable oil to 350 degrees in a wok/saucepan. You'll know it's ready when you drop a piece of shallot in and it instantly sizzles.
5. Carefully put shallots in oil; fry for about one minute until they brown but do not burn! Remove and put on paper towels. Do the same with the garlic.
6. Slide in two eggs at a time in oil. Use a fork to keep them from sticking on the bottom and constantly move them. Let them come to a nice deep golden brown - about four to five minutes.
7. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Cut in half and sprinkle fried shallots and garlic on top. Drizzle with the yummy brown sugar sauce and enjoy!

*Tamarind liquid is a delicious sour-sweet condiment. To make it, you must purchase tamarind paste (about two bucks at the asian market in Clintonville; it comes in a nice little brown brick). Take about 1/2 C of it, mix it with 1 C hot water and stir and shake. You now have tamarind liquid. Just don't use the seeds! If you don't want to use it, you can substitute equal parts lime juice.

Bodega

There's a new restaurant/coffee shop/bar in the Sho'No' (as Jason cleverly calls the Short North). It's called Bodega, and for anyone who hasn't already been, I would encourage you to go. It's got a neat little menu, mostly panini sandwiches, but more importantly, it's got excellant coffee. I might venture to say they pull the best shot of espresso on High Street...but then again, I might not...okay, in my humble opinion, their coffee is pretty damn good! There. Also, nicely, they source most of their ingrediants from local vendors...which is always a good thing. In fact, I would recommend to all cheese-o-philes out there that they sample the cheese plate, lovingly put together by the curmudgeonly owner of "Curds and Whey" of North Market fame. They've also got a great beer and wine selection and the staff is awesome. At any rate, this is a great place to go if you're ready for a nice change of pace from the usual suspects on High.

Sometimes I forget about the vegans...

So I found this recipe for soy bechamel; use it to make the mac 'n sink recipe below (or anything else that might call for it) all veggie:

2 T soy margarine
2 T all-purpose flour
1 ½ c hot* soy milk

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt margarine until it bubbles. Add flour gradually, constantly stirring.

Cook for about three minutes, until mixture reaches a pale yellow color. Slowly stir in hot milk.

Stir constantly while bringing to boil; then remove from heat.

*Recipes for roux-based sauces always recommend the liquid you're adding be hot (be it milk, stock, whatever), but I never bother. Usually I just add the liquid slowly, cross my fingers, and whisk like the wind.

This is from a recipe for vegetarian lasagna from The Times-Picayune I found at NOLA.com.

Here's the full recipe.

Since we're talking about dietary restrictions, anybody know a gluten-free recipe for this?