Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Italian Egg Sandwich

This past weekend I was in Chicago visiting some girlfriends from college. We decided to save money and make brunch at home before a bloody mary bender. We found a simple, satisfying recipe in a Giada De Laurentiis cookbook (recipe can be found at link). My friend works at Naha and brought home an amazing loaf of cabbiatta, which made the sandwich really stand out.

I consider myself a bloody mary connoisseur and was very impressed by The Bad Apple. The bartenders were friendly and didn't mind when we inquired on what made their marys special (spice mixture, V8 juice and a really fun garnish of pickled peppers, olives, pickled cucumbers, etc).
'Twas a lovely Sunday in Chicago!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tom Ka Gai (Coconut Chicken Soup)

I was feeling like Thai, but not feeling paying for it, so I decided to try making Tom Ka Gai. It was rich, aromatic, robust and exactly what I was looking for.
5 cups chicken broth
1 chicken breast, thinly sliced
1 carrot, peeled and chopped into 1" discs
1 1/2 cups chopped Chinese cabbage
1/2 cup straw mushrooms
2 roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
3/4 cup large roughly chopped peppers
1 small onion cut into wedges
3 tbsp crushed lemongrass
1 tbsp raw ginger cut in strips
1 cup coconut milk
juice of one lime
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp granulated sugar
1tbsp cilantro
Siracha to taste

Combine broth, chicken, carrot, lemongrass, ginger and sugar in pot. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Add fish sauce, soy sauce, tomatoes, mushrooms and onion and cook for another 5-7 minutes. Add lime juice, peppers and cabbage and cook for 5 minutes before adding lime juice and coconut milk. Depending on how hot you like it, add Siracha to taste. Top with cilantro and serve. Such amazing comfort food!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Leek Veggie Soup

I've never cooked with leeks before and with them currently in season, now is the perfect time . I was very excited about my leek undertaking (I geek out about food, what can I say) and for my first venture, I decided to make a brightly flavored leek and vegetable soup.  I found that the tartness of the lemon juice and the mild, onion-flavor of the leeks balanced beautifully.
One large stalk of leek cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 carrots, cut into semi-circles
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup whole canned tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
1 tsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium-low heat. Once oil is heated, add the leeks, garlic and a pinch of salt and sweat until they begin to soften. Add the carrots and continue to cook for 2-3  minutes.

Add the stock, tomatoes and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the vegetables are tender, approximately 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and add the parsley and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Pizza Margherita

The day I realized I wasn't going to be able to find a good Margherita pie in Columbia was the day I went out and bought a pizza pan and ingredients. One of the highlights of living in NYC (foodwise) was that at any time of day, pretty much whatever area you were in, you could get a decent slice of Margherita pizza...oh how I miss those days. If you ever find yourself in Park Slope, Brooklyn, check out Peppe's . It's an unassuming storefront joint, right next to the Prospect Ave R train stop, whose pies have caused a buzz among pizza lovers. Their chewy crust and simple sauce made from canned imported San Marzano tomatoes is bright, fresh-tasting and lightly seasoned. Sadly, I lack a coal oven, so my substitute isn't quite the same, but what can ya do?

Enter, delightful homemade pizza:
Pre-made dough (just makes life easier)
1 small bunch basil cut in a chiffonade
1 cup Fresh mozzarella ciliegine (small mozzarella balls)
1 1/2 cups canned whole Roma tomatoes (San Marzano if you can find 'em)
4 tsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Cover bottom of pizza pan with 2 tsp olive oil and spread dough thinly over pan. Cook dough in oven for 5 minutes. Remove pan from oven and drizzle remaining olive oil over pie. Cut tomatoes roughly and squeeze to remove moisture (I find this prevents the pie from getting soppy or wet). Scatter tomatoes and cheese over pie and cook for 9-13 minutes, until edges brown and the cheese is bubbling. Remove pie from oven and sprinkle basil over. Let cool for a few minutes before cutting.

Indulge and love it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Peshawari Chappli Kabab Pitas

I was a new Arabic shop in Columbia, Olive Cafe, and came across a spice mix for spicy ground beef patties. This mix has a variety of fragrant spices, which were pretty spicy, but in a flavorful way. The patties reminded me of a carnivorous version of falafel. I'm not sure of the proportions, but here's the listing from the package: salt, red chili, coriander, cumin, ginger, garlic, dehydrated onion, pomegranate seeds, fine flour (wheat), black pepper, black cumin, cinnamon, mace, bay leaf, fenugreek leaves, carom, citric acid.

1 lbs ground beef
1 small onion finely chopped
* 1/2 small green pepper finely chopped
1 clove smashed, minced garlic
3 tsp grated ginger
2 eggs
1 package of Peshawari Chappli spice mixture (use less for mild hot flavor)
1 cup vegetable oil

Israeli Salad
1 small cucumber cut into small cubes
3 roma tomatoes cut into small cubes (seeds removed)
1/4 small red onion finely diced
1/3 cup lemon juice
3 tbsp fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all salad ingredients and marinade in the refrigerator for 45 minutes.

Thoroughly combine kebab ingredients (except for oil), cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, warm oil in large fry pan to medium high heat. With wet hands, form thin flat 3 inch round kebab patties. Fry in hot oil until brown and crispy on each side.

Serve in pita with hummus and salad.

*original recipe calls for 3 green chilies, rather than green pepper, but Kyler and I thought it was pretty spicy to begin with. If your stomach can handle crazy spicy food, feel free to sub chilies for green pepper.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sweet and Sour Chicken

I'm not entirely sure where my mom found this recipe, but she makes a pretty great sweet and sour chicken. It's a bit time consuming to make since you have to batter and fry the chicken, but I think it's worth it for the final product.
1 1/2 pounds of boneless chicken breast
1 large green pepper cubed
1 large red pepper cubed
1 large yellow onion cut in large pieces
1 can sliced water chestnuts
1 1/2 cups bean sprouts
1 pineapple, chopped into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup flour
1/2 cup water
2 eggs
1/2 tsp seasoning salt

4 tsp cornstarch dissolved into 1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup of sugar
8 tsp
1/2 cup ketchup
8 tsp soy sauce
3 tsp vegetable oil

Mix together sauce ingredients and reserve. Heat oil in a deep wok. Cut chicken into 1 inc pieces. Mix batter and dip chicken into batter. Once oil has heated to 350, fry chicken and flip after 2-4 minutes on each side until evenly browned and remove from oil. Add peppers, onion, chestnuts, and pineapple to oil and stir-fry for 4 minutes. Add sauce to veggies and cook for another 2 minutes. Return chicken to wok and toss with vegetables until chicken is evenly coated with sauce. Serve over steamed rice.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pumpkin Bisque

Annually, my mom kicks off our Thanksgiving meal with fragrant, rich pumpkin bisque soup. It's relatively easy to make, and my relatives are always rather impressed by this starter. In case you keep kosher (my parents do), this soup uses coconut milk rather than cream and is dairy free, so it can be paired with our meat-based Thanksgiving din.

3 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 1/2 cups water
14 oz. can light unsweetened coconut milk
29 oz. can solid packed pumpkin
1 large Spanish onion, diced
1 large apple, peeled, cored and diced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp maple syrup or honey
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
2 tbsp coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
pinch of nutmeg to garnish
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a large pot, except the coconut milk. Simmer covered for 30 minutes. Puree soup with an immersion blender, food processor, blender or whatever method you prefer. Add coconut soup and continue to simmer for 10 minutes. Sprinkle each serving with a dusting of nutmeg.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Crazy Noodles at Mint Cafe in Cleveland

Every Thanksgiving I head to my hometown, Cleveland, to visit my family. People talk a lot of shit about the "mistake on the lake," but I must say, I'm quite fond of it. There's all kinds of delicious foods to be had (way more than my current digs, Columbia, MO).

Today I caught up with a friend at Mint Cafe in Coventry, a really cute area of Cleveland Heights. I got really amazing, greasy, delicious crazy noodles, which is pretty much a different name for standard drunken noodles. I was particularly thrilled because noteworthy Thai food is hard to come by in Columbia, thus my standards have been lowered significantly since leaving NYC in August.
Crazy noodles met my NYC Thai food standards and were fucking delicious, if i do say so myself. The soft wide rice noodles were stir-fried with chicken, shrimp, egg, onion, carrots, broccoli a chili laden soy sauce and basil leaves. They went a little heavy on the onions, but that was cool with me. All in all, my lunch was a delight.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Roasted Carrots Tossed in Dill

When I was in Columbia last week, I was invited to an early Thanksgiving dinner (which was unfortunately canceled...bummer). Anywho, I'd already peeled 4 pounds of carrots when I found out dinner was off, so you'd better believe I proceeded to roast the hell out of my carrots and toss them with dill once they were nice and caramelized.
Roasted Carrots Tossed in Dill
4 lbs carrots, peeled
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut carrots diagonally in 3/4-1 inch-thick slices. Toss them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a sheet pan in 1 layer and roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes, until brown and tender. Toss carrots with dill , season to taste, serve and enjoy.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Italian Style Cabbage Soup

Costing less than $1.50 per very filling serving, this rustic cabbage soup is perfect for weeks when you're hurting for money (thanks recession).

I've had a head of cabbage in my veggie drawer for the last 2 weeks and today, I decided to show it some love by making cabbage soup for lunch. Cooking cabbage with tomatoes is fabulous because it brings out a subtle sweet and sour flavor. Punch that tang up with ground pepper to taste (I used approx 1/4 tsp) and you've got a nice flavor profile that suggests you simmered this soup for at least an hour, despite the fact that from start to finish it took a mere half hour.
Ingredients (serves one very hungry girl):
2 cups veggie broth
1/2 of a 14 oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes (you can used diced if you want, but I like the rough shapes you get from just smashing the tomatoes in your hand)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 head of white cabbage, cored and roughly chopped
1 clove of crushed garlic
1/4 small white onion roughly diced
5 leaves of basil cut in a chiffonade
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onions in olive oil until translucent, add garlic, pepper and cabbage. Stir fry contents of pan for 2-3 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes (smashed into smaller pieces if you're going that route) and liquid from can. Add thyme and oregano and stir. Simmer for 15-20 minutes and add basil. Salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Chicken Enchiladas

These took a while to make (had to simmer the filing for about an hour to get it nice and tender), but they were well worth the wait.

Kyler slathered his in cheese....
I didn't because I'm not a huge queso fan (pardon the shadow here)...

Chicken filling:
2 chicken breasts
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 red pepper sliced into strips
1/2 green pepper sliced into strips
1 small yellow onion diced
1 clove crushed garlic
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 diced medium sized tomato
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in medium saucepan and add onions and garlic. Cook until brown and then add peppers, tomato, seasonings, chicken and broth. Stir and simmer at a medium low heat. After about 45 minutes, remove chicken breasts, shred and return to pan. Cook for another 15-20 minutes.

Enchiladas (not so homemade...ew, I'm like crazy Sandra Lee!):
1 package fresh tortillas
28 ounce can of enchilada sauce (we went with mild red by La Victoria)

Heat enchilada sauce in a shallow pan. Cover the bottom of a deep baking dish with sauce. Dip each tortilla individually in the warm sauce, roll chicken mixture in tortilla (keeping the meat all on one side before rolling is a good way to keep them from falling apart). Line rolled tortillas up side-by-side in pan. Top with remaining sauce and top with as much, little or no cheese at all. Bake at 450 for 30 minutes.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sliced Steak Sammich time...

Before we headed out to tailgate for Mizzou homecoming (8 solid hours of drinking) it seemed a brilliant idea to load up on carbs in the form of steak was.
Putting these together was pretty simple.

You need:
1/2 pound of very finely sliced sirolin
1/2 green pepper
1/2 yellow onion
1/4 tsp garlic salt
pinch of pepper
hoagie buns
lettuce (a few leaves for each hoagie)
tomato (a few slices for each)
A1 steak sauce (to taste)

Fry up the beef, pepper and onion in shallow pan (I didn't add any oil). Sprinkle with garlic salt. Cook until all the meat is browned. Top bun with sirolin, veggie mixture, dress with tomato, lettuce and add A1 to taste. (Feel free to add cheese if you're into that).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

I think I'm coming down with the flu, which really, really sucks. Since there's not much more you can do for the flu beyond sleeping lots and keeping hydrated,  I decided to make a comforting butternut squash soup for dinner.
I hadn't made a squash soup before, so I'm thrilled that it turned out well! If you like curry and squash, this is a must try.

1 roasted butternut squash (I quartered mine for a faster cooking time)
2 cups chicken broth
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cumin
salt and ground pepper to taste
cilantro for garnish

Scoop flesh out of squash with a spoon (I don't have an immersion blender or any sort of blender, so I smashed up the flesh with a fork). In a medium saucepan, toast garlic powder, onion powder, curry powder, cumin. After 30 seconds to a minute (once the spices begin letting off a fragrant aroma), add to broth, flesh of squash, salt and pepper. Set pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer, about 10 minutes. If you have an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth. Stir in chopped cilantro and ladle into bowl(s).

*This soup could easily be made vegan by replacing chicken broth for veggie.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Amazing High Altitude Doughnuts and El Taco Rey

This weekend Kyler and I are in Colorado Springs visiting our friend Becky from college. I've never been to Colorado before and I'm loving it! I'm so incredibly jealous that Coloradoans get views like this on a daily basis.

Also great about my trip so far - the food.

Today we headed to the tippy top of Pikes Peak, which has an altitude of 14,110 feet. At the shop on the summit, the snack bar had some pretty amazing high altitude doughnuts (they need to use a special mix to get them to set up correctly at such a high height).
Kyler ravishing his doughnut:
Later that day, after many gorgeous sites and a tour of a Olympic training facility (Becky has a friend that fences for the USA team, so he showed us around....kind of awesome!), we made our way to Becky's favorite Mexican joint, El Taco Rey.
The place defines hole-in-the-wall (they don't have plates, everything is served in Styrofoam take out containers. Portions were huge and prices were low. I got a ridiculously filling taco combo for $7.30, which included 3 tacos (I did 2 shredded chicken and 1 beef), re-fried beans, rice and a fresh tortilla. I consider myself a sauce connoisseur, and the complimentary house red salsa had a perfect balance of spice and flavor (re: hot but had flavor). I also loved that the owner and her son were bickering at the counter after we ordered - added a certain je ne sais quoi.

Basically, today was delicious.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Spaghetti with Kale in Vodka Sauce

Kale is currently in season, and with the right finesse this bitter leafy green can be delicious. (Kyler insists that kale is a garnish, not for eating - making me determined to prove him wrong).

2 serving spaghetti
1/4 pound Tuscan kale cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 diced large tomato
1 scallion stalk sliced
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup jarred vodka sauce (or your own if you're feeling extra motivated)
red pepper flakes, cayenne and salt to taste
(serves 2)

Cook spaghetti according to directions. Put a frying pan over medium heat and add olive oil. Toss kale in olive oil until wilted. Add vodka sauce and tomatoes. Turn down heat to low and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Season with cayenne, red pepper flakes and salt to taste. Add cooked pasta, sprinkle with scallions and stir.

Dish it up and prove your stubborn boyfriend wrong...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Lime Ginger Popsicle...FAIL!

I can admit defeat. Here goes: I made Popsicle and they sucked!

I was so incredibly excited for the newest addition to my kitchen, Progressive Popsicle molds that I could hardly wait to use them. I concocted a mixture of 3 cups of limeade, the juice of 3 limes and 1/5 cup of grated ginger.
The end result makes me pucker just thinking about them. They're WAY too tart! I'm going to try them as giant ice cubes for rum (sounds promising).

Better luck next time. I'm thinking either watermelon or strawberry and crossing my fingers, tightly.

Anyone have flavor combo suggestions?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Veggie Mu Shu

This dish was totally worth the sodium influx!

I tend to always have a full veggie drawer, so I love me some stir fry. It's quick, easy and generally delicious. Also, stir fry is great when you're cooking for one (Kyler's on a fishing trip).
The fixin's (adjust proportions-based on how many you're cooking for any which veggies you're in the mood for):
1/5 small head of shredded white cabbage
1/4 cup of shredded carrots
1/3 cup of sliced mushrooms (whatever variety you have on hand)
1/3 cup of thinly sliced bamboo shoots
1 stalk celery
1 scallion chopped
1 clove crushed garlic
1 egg beaten
1 tsp sesame oil
2 flour tortillas
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp corn starch
hoisin sauce to taste
siracha to taste

steps to yum:
In a bowl, mix soy sauce and cornstarch. Add small drizzle of sesame oil  to fry pan, once heated add egg. When egg is cooked in a pancake, remove from pan and slice into 1/4 inch strips. Add remaining oil to pan along with garlic and vegetables. After the veggies are cooked to your liking (3-5 minutes) return egg to pan, proceed to add soy sauce mixture. Top tortillas with as little or as much of the stir fry as you're in the mood for. Top with hoisin sauce, siracha (if you like things spicy) and scallions.
Note: I was planning on including tofu, but my fridge was too cold so my tofu froze :(

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bully Porter Braised Beef

It's been frigid in Columbia these days, which makes me want nothing more than to spend my days filling my apartment with scents of home cookin'. Also, we have one of those old school stoves that heats up our apartment whenever we use it -- a definite plus.

I bought some gorgeous local cippolini onions and decided that they NEEDED to be braised and served over polenta. Perhaps using them in a 3-4 hour braise wasn't the best idea, because in the end the onions melted into the braising liquid (my bad). I used Boulevard Bully Porter as a sauce base, but you can use whatever dark beer you have in your fridge.

I used:
2 pound rump roast
1/2 pound of quartered  cippolini onions  
1/2 pound of sliced baby bella mushroom
1/4 pound of sliced shitake mushrooms
(any combo of your favorite mushrooms would work)
2 tbsp olive oil
3 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme (dried)
2 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
12 ounce dark beer
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp corn starch
salt and pepper to taste
(served 3, with leftovers)

My method:
Coat the bottom of a deep skillet (deep enough to cover to put a lid on after all the ingredients are the it) with olive oil. Once oil is heated (medium high), brown roast on all sides. After browned, add vegetables, sugar, bay leaves, thyme, garlic, brown sugar and beer.

Reduce to a low heat and cover pot with lid. After 1 hour of cooking, remove roast and slice into thin pieces (I was worried that the roast wouldn't reach my desired tenderness if it remained whole) and return to pot. Continue cooking for at least 2 hours (the more time you have to braise, the better).

30 minutes before serving, reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid and mix in corn starch before returning liquid to the pot. Remove bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This braise went wonderfully with polenta, but would also be tasty over noodles, gnocchi, rice or any other starchy side.
End result:

Side note: This meal made me want a slow cooker...badly.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hummus and Veggie Wrap

I was in a hummusy mood (yup, that's a possible mood) so I opted for a simple hummus wrap for lunch. This wrap is all in the execution (I learned to cut the pita down the sides from Ellysa's, my favorite falafel place in Hell's Kitchen, NYC, for maximum space).

Start out by warming a whole wheat pita (you could go with white, but why not opt for the healthier option), once warm, cut pita along the edge so that after cutting you're left with 2 circles. Spread on 3 heaping tablespoons of your fave hummus (I went with Sabra because it's the creamiest) and top with  your favorite veggies .You could pretty much add whatever veggies you want to this wrap, but I went with  tomatoes, cucumbers, alfalfa sprouts, red onion and red leaf lettuce.

Drizzle with olive oil, squeeze the juice of 1/4 lemon, sprinkle of finishing salt and grind fresh pepper to taste.
Wrap it up and feel good about your lunch, knowing that you went for a healthy meal.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Maple Roasted Acorn Squash Brushetta

After picking up some Rosemary Olive Oil Bread (from Uprise Bakery) and local acorn squash (from the Rootcellar) I decided that Maple Roasted Acorn Squash Brushetta had to be my inaugural blog post!

This recipe is inspired by a dish I sampled at Sycamore's O'Fallon beer dinner. Their version included toasted pine nuts and no maple syrup, so this dish can be a mix-and-match of any of your favorite  flavors. I used a copious amount of butter to give my bread nice flavor and an added crunch and crushed red pepper flakes in the acorn squash glaze for a subtle pop of heat.

1 pound acorn squash
2 tablespoons MAPLE syrup (no fake syrup in this kitchen!)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 sprig rosemary
2 thick slices of your favorite bread
3 tablespoons butter

balsamic vinegar to drizzle

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Slice acorn squash in half from top to bottom and scoop out the seeds. Slice squash into 3/4-inch wide half slices and place in a medium bowl. Drizzle squash with  syrup, olive oil and sprinkle with red pepper flakes, freshly ground black pepper and salt. Place the squash on a foil-lined baking sheet (for easy clean up). Reserve remaining syrup mixture. Bake the squash until tender and golden, 25-30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove skin.

While squash is cooling, slather slices of bread with 1 tbsp of butter each and cook over medium-high heat in fry pan. Remove when bread is golden brown on each side.

Add 1 tbsp butter, remaining syrup mixture and 1 tsp roughly chopped rosemary to fry pan at medium heat. When mixture begins to bubble, add squash, toss until evenly coated and spoon onto bread.

Drizzle with reduced balsamic vinegar (I use a thick balsamic glaze to save time), season with a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper.

Marvel at your sexy creation, pair with your favorite pumpkin beer (mine is O'Fallon) and enjoy!