Who's That Girl

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WHO'S THAT GIRL: A higher education obsessed foodie who is documenting her life in the kitchen. I love to cook delicious, gourmet-style foods for those I love and always welcome a challenge in the kitchen. With that challenge comes an impromptu nature. I tend to avoid following recipes to the exact, so you are not likely to find very many posted here. Being that I am a Libra and am learning to be free in the kitchen, the story always goes, "A pinch of this and a smattering of that!" Thank you for visiting -- and happy reading!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Reasoning Goes Out the Door

Sometimes you have to throw reasoning out the door and just do it for the sake of sheer curiosity.

Jurors, please meet wonton wrappers, feta cheese, panko and one teaspoon of butter.

Please don't ask me to explain what came over me.

Please don't ask, "Why the curiosity?"

Just accept that this is the way I am. I have.

*loud, methodical laugh interspersed with: "What was I thinking?!"*

So, yes -- I got all curious about these four ingredients, wondering if combining them would amount to anything interesting.

The answer: Nah, not really. This will pretty much go down as a failed experiment.

Honestly, I didn't have any foresight here. I was just wondering what would come of mixing these. All I got were pretty bland, dried out wonton wrappers. Even when the feta kept them moist, having baked them in the oven for a good 5 minutes or so, the result was substandard. There was no melding of flavor, no electric party on my tongue. Nothing.

A failed attempt to redeem this appetizer included the introduction of some jalapeno jelly. Yeah, that served no purpose to be heard of, other than to aggravate me further.

Don't try this one at home. But at least I had an audience.

FOOD CHALLENGE: Leeks

Oh lovely leeks. How could it be that we only found one another five months ago.

Yes, it's true.

How could someone so terribly obsessed with onions (someday I will figure out a way to appropriately cook them into a double fudge chocolate cake) and also garlic simply not know about leeks? 

I mean, really.

I cannot even recall how I learned about leeks. But it was sometime during the summer and likely while browsing a cooking site that I learned about this amazing treat.

What a beautiful vegetable. It must be a woman -- a tall, gentle stalk with her skirt splayed, eternally poised in a dance of circular motions. It truly is vegetable in motion and loving of life.

But what to do with her?

I had rushed after work to my local grocery and, to my utter glee, the store had a few leeks still in stock.

No more than six available, I picked over each one, studying intensely the color density and the smoothness of the stalk and cylinder-shaped bud. I flicked the soft leaves, also squeezing gently to feel them give slighty at the touch of my finger tips.

What to do, I wondered, all the while eyeballing the produce stacker who had already given me the evil eye because, at this point, I had already pursued the mushrooms, eggplants, green onions and bell peppers. And I wasn't finished. I wanted, also, to check out the avocados and wonton wrappers, which are oddly placed in the produce section.

Oh, dearest Libra -- make a decision quick.

I decided on the two strongest appearing ones. One for tonight's dish -- whatever it may be; the other for another time. Maybe for a marriage with that plump eggplant? Hum...

I decided on the fly and as I was preparing this real-time evolving dish I though: Someone on this planet must have thought up this recipe before and perfected it.

I am sure, I pondered, that some restaurant somewhere in Thailand must be serving this dish as a Monday night special.

Ah, well, we enjoyed it.

I sauteed the leeks in a bit of olive oil. Just a tiny bit because as I recently learned at Miraval, no matter the wonderful qualities of olive oil, one must still be very careful and mindful of the fat content it carries.

Meanwhile, I prepared a boil with vegetable stock, fresh garlic and three bay leaves. I also added a bit of Old Bay seasoning for fun and nostalgia.

Next, I boiled water. Simply water for the rice sticks.

When the leeks were poised to begin turning golden brown, I added chopped red bell peppers (about half) and a tiny bit of chopped shallot, hoping to slow the cooking process a bit to also ensure that the leeks were slightly undercooked.

Meanwhile, I chopped mint and basil to toss in the mixture at the end.

It was quite simple and lovely, and the assembly was easy.

Before plating, I added a bit of a mixture: About three to four tablespoons of soy sauce with two tablespoons of black and white sesame seeds along with some mirin and rice wine vinegar.

After this, I put the bowl in the freezer to cool for about 10 minutes before serving. Don't ask why -- but I imagined this as a cold dish.

For my plate, I added a bit of siracha and, to both bowls, a small shaving of ginger to finish it all off.  So, really, very, very little salt and fat with this dish.

What would I have changed? I would have done a better job cleaning the shrimp. I really need to improve this skill to get all of the vein out!

I also would not have let the basil sit in the fridge for one day too long. Also, I may have added some yellow bell peppers for fun and a few freshly chopped green onions at the end.

In all, nice dish -- very light, very refreshing for these late-in-the-season-hot evenings.

And, look at what I also picked up from the market today:


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Birthday Wishes

My birthday was Saturday and, my goodness -- I realize now that Nancy knows me so very well!

Yes -- I have been slightly obsessed with Julia Child for a bit.

Sure, I would love to be able to afford even a 2.5 quart Le Creuset dutch oven or enamel cast iron pot. I have long wanted one in a deep orange or red (Red: Having picked up an affinity for the color in the memory of my late brother, Dontia, whose favorite color was red. Sept. 23, 2010 was the five-year anniversary of his death, so he has been very heavy on my mind.).

And, my goodness, am I so jealous of chefs who can afford Japanese chef knives.

Then something like this happens.

When I woke on my birthday, Nancy had a lovely display already prepared at the kitchen table (how apropos). One gift in particular drew my eye. I tried not to be too enthusiastic! All the while, I could not help but to hear, like, every single song Enya has produced. Or something wildly excited like this.

No, I'm not the materialistic type, but that Nancy would buy me this amazing cast iron dutch oven -- my goodness!

And perfect timing given that fall has officially begun!

It is now time for soups, stews, casserole dishes and the like.

And I now have both a durable and handsome oven to produce some amazing creations.

What a blessing; what a darling.

Thank you, my dearest Nancy. And get your palate ready!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pampering and Food Entertainment

Nancy and I hosted a Pampered Chef party tonight.

My goodness! What fun!

We had attended a friend's Pampered Chef party about six weeks ago and it turned out to be great fun. Goodness, spending nearly two hours talking about food and food instruments and food techniques?

Yes, turned out it was a good time.

...but how did it turn out that it was a ladies-only event? Not a single fella attended. Hum...

Our specialist, Lori, prepared a pizza using chicken,
a pizza crust that you can purchase in one of those biscuit containers, shredded cheese, tomatoes, salsa verde, onion, a jalapeno pepper and a little bit of olive oil.

I think those were all the ingredients.

Simple, really. I couldn't believe it.


I mean, I have made a couple of homemade pizzas -- made the crust and all, and simply wasn't satisfied, even after more than one hour in the kitchen. 

All told, Lori spent about a half hour actively preparing the pizza and it was in the oven for roughly 20 minutes. Despite that, it was quite flavorful.

Good to know, eh?

Perhaps I will try this technique in the future. But, really, I still would love to learn how to make an amazing crust at home.

With due practice, I am sure.

And while not required, I made a potato salad with chives, mustard, dill and capers, a lettuce salad with an assortment of treats (peppadew, mushrooms, tomatoes, etc.) and a broccoli-based salad. All vegan; all vegetarian. I also baked for an hour, then grilled a rack of pork and a rack of beef ribs.

It was great! We had virtually no leftovers to be seen.

So, yes -- what a wonderful evening! And so great to see some of the ladies I hadn't seen in some time, partially because we have been so busy with school, service and work.

FOOD CHALLENGE: Broth

I thought broth was for soups.

Alas, I was wrong in making that simple, simple assumption.

But food challenge night, so time to experiment.

I decided to try a three-tiered attempt at cooking chicken: boil it, broil it, then grill it. I omitted step two.

In the end, the concoction was amazing. 

I slowly boiled chicken thighs for about 40 minutes. But instead of using water, I used chicken broth. I know, I know. Weird though. Why would I think this up? Not sure, but it worked. Really -- bear with me.

So, yeah, chicken in chicken broth -- but with two bay leaves and some onion salt, pepper, garlic and chives and not sure what else I threw in there at the end.
When the chicken was nearly finished cooking, I placed them on the grill while I prepared gravy. Honestly, this was an afterthought. And all I added was some soy sauce and flour. Next time I will have to be extra careful, perhaps adding much less soy sauce because as the gravy reduced, it became more salty. But not too salty, thank goodness.

I prepared some couscous with Parmesan and served the couscous and chicken, slathering the gravy over the mix.

Quite impressed!

I have cooked gravy I don't know how many times, relying on my material great-grandmother's -- her name was Viola -- recipe of flour, oil and soy sauce, but with the garlic, chives and seasoning this was much more robust.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dear Kitchen:

Ah...the days of endless hours in the kitchen. I cannot stop thinking about those days.

School has been terribly busy.

I find that instead of pouring over my cookbooks -- my study time -- and trying to think up new recipes I spent the majority of my free time now thinking about funding structures, state and federal policy financial aid systems, student choice, issues related to access and equity, international competitiveness and a few research projects I am working on, hoping to develop them into papers and presentations. Well...that's not to say I didn't think about these things before. But I've had to ramp it up quite a bit.

My poor, neglected kitchen.

I am feeling a bit nostalgic for it. But, as I mentioned to Nancy a couple of days ago: “I chose this life.”
And I do love the life of being a student and a lifelong learner.

Never doubt that.

The life of being mentally stimulated and challenged in my thoughts and beliefs, particularly about education, which is another passion of mind.

I do not ever dread my schoolwork. Like, literally, never. It drives me and motivates me and encourages me to be better at what I do and to be more sound in my convictions.

I just so miss cooking more often.

But, really -- it's such a small sacrifice.

And, honestly, it is not like I do not cook. I still do, so it is a blessing.

So bare with me if it seems that I am posting less. It is not because I am lazily wasting the days away without any motivation for cooking at all. It’s just that I am trying to find the balance between my passions in life.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Presenting Meat and Potatoes

No, seriously -- how many ingredients can you fit into a dinner consisting of a main, a side, a salad and a couple of sneak peaks?

I didn't set out to create such a herculean meal. It just kind of happened.

Bored beyond belief with the standard steak and mashed potatoes ideal, I oped to go for a stretch: Filet mignon and hasselback potatoes in the traditional Swedish sense. Marry this with some endives and portobello mushrooms with a fruity pepper and what do you have?

One beautiful plate.

The filet was most simple. A little bit of salt and some of McCormick's steak seasoning.

Same with the endives and mushrooms, which were prepped for the grill with some olive oil, salt and pepper.

But, alas, Nancy and I got heavy into a discussion about her day and I spaced a bit on the grill. I rushed out to the backyard in a hurry, but it was too late. Half the precious endives and one of the mushrooms looked up from the grill, seething! I had burned them.

Bummer. But I was able to salvage half of the lot.

For the salad, we had spinach, watercress, marinated mushrooms in an olive oil and herb mixture with peppadew peppers, feta, sauteed onions and olive oil.

Making the potatoes was such a treat.

I'd heard of these hasselback potatoes, which hail back to Sweden. Apparently -- from what I understand -- a restaurant developed this method and has since become a staple throughout the country.

It's such a simple procedure.

You cut through the potatoes nearly to the end, then roast them in the oven for about one hour. I used russet potatoes, but removed the skin. I then added butter, salt and pepper and a mixture of spices and other seasonings to the potatoes. They remained in the oven just over one hour with no covering. The texture was quite nice. They could have benefited from some parsley, chives and/or fresh garlic or Parmesean cheese. Alas, this was my first time doing this and I did no follow a recipe to the exact, so I'm still a learner.



Saturday, September 18, 2010

One Night, Two Dinners

Sunflower market. 6:30 p.m.

We'd had a full day and were browsing the aisles for something we could put together quickly.

"It would be nice if we could get lucky with some decent tuna steaks or swordfish," I mentioned.

Alas, not a good catch today. But the trout looked tasty. Hum.... And so did the scallops. And, oooh -- look at the shrimp.

Yet, as we were waiting for the fishmonger's attention, Nancy began recounting a story of chicken livers.

Apparently, her mother would cook the livers for her and her siblings, sauteeing onion and mushrooms and seasoning them only with salt and pepper before tossing them in the skillet. I watched her recount this story with so much enthusiasm that I began to get excited for her. And before I could even think about what I was saying, I heard myself blurt out, "I can cook them for you."

What?! What did I just say?

Now, I, too, have memories of liver. But, on the pleasure spectrum, those memories fall way off to the unpleasant. My mother would cook liver for my dad. He loved the stuff. But I always had such a problem with the too-smooth and somewhat slurry texture of liver. Still, I would watch with some sort of deranged amazement as my mother would season the livers with, I believe, seasoning salt, then place them in flour before slowly dipping them into a skillet of oil, swiftly frying them before placing them on a place lined with paper towels.

Blleechhht!

Now, here I was on a Saturday night standing in the middle of the grocery store telling my dearest loved one that I would make something for her that I have never ever, ever, ever in my life have ever had any desire to cook, much less taste.

Ah...now that is what I call love.

We found a small enough container for one because -- and heaven knows -- this meant that I was now going to have to cook two dinners. One for me. One for Nancy. 

And that's what I did: Chicken livers with onion and mushrooms for Nancy; Trout with parsley, chives, paprika and cayenne pepper for me. Oh! And we had purchased this amazing sourdough bread from one of our bakers earlier in the day. So we served that with our dishes.

And after all that complaining, I did gather enough ganas to taste the liver -- with Nancy's persistent coaxing, of course. Honestly, it tasted like a dense, strangely textured coagulated mixture of mincemeat. I did not like it -- not even a tiny bit!

But I could not help smiling while watching Nancy eating her dish with delight, rarely looking up from the plate until the very end when, one by one, she licked her fingers clean.

FOOD CHALLENGE: Mangoes

We are gearing up for our next food and photography event, which we are fondly calling Foodography.

Nancy's friend, Gina, is hosting the event next month, so we visited to do a dry run. I figured this was the perfect time to try out the week's challenge item: mangoes. I was so busy that Nancy took most of the photos.

I marinated some chicken breasts (natural, cage-free) overnight in olive oil, soy sauce, ginger and some spices. Before baking them in Gina's awesome Pampered Chef clay rectangular baker, I added some honey and onions.

I then prepared the grill.

On went a red and yellow pepper and the mangoes. In retrospect, I should have put foil down for the mangoes, which kept sticking to the grill grates. Ah well. We live and we learn. I also included a foil wrap with some shrimp in salt and pepper with olive oil.

Meanwhile, I was preparing a red wine reduction and also chopped up another mango and green onions and threw this into a frying pan with a bit of wine and olive oil. I know, strange thing to do. Then I put in some dried cranberries and sundried tomatoes and sauteed this over medium heat for about six minutes or so.

For the plating, I put down spinach and a bit of feta cheese, then the sliced chicken and the sauteed mixture. I served the semi-roasted onions and also the peppers on the side.

In all, the dish was quite flavorful. The red wine reduction didn't come out as nicely as I expected -- perhaps because I added a bit of brown sugar, but no vanilla extract. Noted.

The chicken was soft and full of flavor, but didn't pick up hints of the honey. The ginger was nice and subtle though.

And I could have added the cranberries much later in the cooking process, but that was OK.

But the mangoes! They retained their lovely, juicy flavor and made the perfect fit for the chicken. Not bad, not bad.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sauces, Dips and Some Strange Mixtures

So it is finally coming true.

Being in a doctoral program is eating into my culinary time (so, so sorry to have to use that pun but -- *tee hee* -- I just had to).

One of two things is happening: 1. My evenings are maxed, so I have little time to work in the kitchen or, 2. I am exhausted during the evening, so I have little energy to work in the kitchen.

I am still trying to find a balance between my family and my two other strong passions in life: education and food.

But whether I am tickling my brain with a new creation, or doing something like what I am calling “sauce night,” doesn’t matter so long Nancy and the babies (Totopo and Alex) are near.

On this particular night, Nancy and I raided the kitchen and put together some samosas, dumplings and a chicken pot pie.

Yes, yes…I know.

And I threw together a few sauces – some of which I mixed for some interesting and strange creations. We then spent our dinner chatting, laughing and trying out the sauces with different treats.

One thing I learned: Never, ever, ever mix a pot pie with oyster sauce. Please, just don’t even bother.

Dinner Priced Just Right

These are the simple things I love.

I had been craving lox.

Granted, I have not ever cured anything before. It’s something I’ve read about and have motivation to do, but, alas, it hasn’t happened yet.

So, after a trip to the local grocer for some bagels, salmon, capers, bagels and cream cheese, Nancy and I made lox bagels for dinner.

It’s amazing the cost!

So inexpensive when you take the initiative to do something like this at home. And while it wasn’t at all creative on my part (I didn’t make the bagels and, again, didn’t cure the salmon) it was a tasty experience.

We even tried a new red wine! It's called Apothic Red. It was a decent and reasonably priced find, so we likely will be trying that one again.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Buttermilk White Sauce With Pasta

UPDATE, Sept. 2, 2011: This is my most popular post to date. Please leave a comment about why you chose to drop in. 

Call it part of the simplicity series.

After a long day at work, then a volunteer orientation, I was exhausted. Literally, my eyelids were burning.

So I pulled together most of what I had in the fridge for this simple and tasty pasta dish.

It was a return to buttermilk.

All told, I used: Onions, red bell pepper, clams, broccoli, buttermilk, butter, salt, pepper, olive oil, noodles and a tablespoon of flour. 

I merely sautéed the onions and peppers while slowly cooking the clams in the buttermilk with a bit of flour. I cooked the noodles alone. I tossed the broccoli in with the rest of the veggies a few minutes before adding some butter and the white sauce to the mix.

Served over the noodles, this was a nice, light, delicious meal. And I got to use the buttermilk from this week’s challenge all over again.

Life is good.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

FOOD CHALLENGE: Buttermilk

"Hum...what about mashed potatoes?

"No, no...not that. ...or potato pancakes?

"That might be too predicable. Perhaps baked potato folds? My goa, what are those? Well...I could make it up. Improvise, you know. That would be a good challenge. At least I would be working the good old mental muscles. *tee hee* Yeah....

"Or how about some sort of baked potato mash?"

Welcome to the mind of a Libra. My goodness -- I love food challenge night!!!

I knew I would be working with Yukon Gold potatoes. It's what I had on hand that seemed the perfect match for buttermilk. So, I boiled these with garlic salt and oregano until they were soft, but not breaking apart in the water.

Now, realize that I am coming to these aformentioned thoughts WHILE I am preparing to make mashed potatoes and mashed potatoes only.

When the potatoes were nearly done, I decided to whisk together an egg with sugar, salt and pepper. "Why not?" I thought. After adding the potatoes to the mix, I included cake flour, Parmesan cheese, baking soda and baking powder. I figured that, at this point, I was making some sort of patty.

Perhaps.

I also sauteed some chives in butter, adding that to the mix at the very end with some other things my mind cannot recall at the moment. Of course. I always throw a few thins in last minute.

Yeah...I wasn't sure where I was going with all this.

I am not even sure what to call these.

They are like...I don't know -- potato souffles almost.

Almost.

The taste is very remnant of mashed potatoes, but as though the mashed potatoes had met a nice, fluffy cake out for a rendezvous. The concoction was quite soft, but not buttery as anticipated. I served the dish with a little bit of paprika and sour cream.

I would make them again, but with much less potatoes! I think the subtle flavor of potatoes would have made for a much better dish.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

SAVEUR: Peppers Stuffed with Feta

The conversation began innocently enough (this is me paraphrasing):

"That was pretty good," I began.

"Yes, thank you baby. That was good," Nancy said with that gorgeous smile I always like to see.

"You know what I should do on top of my weekly food challenge," I said, thinking immediately to Nancy's recent birthday gift to me -- a year's subscritpion to Saveur magazine.

When I met Nancy, she had her own subscription, but it ended about two months ago. Funny story -- turns out that just as I was buying her a renewal subscription, she was buying a subscription for my birthday. Usher in the *awwwwws*

So, to continue the conversation, I was thinking about receiving a monthly addition of this amazing magazine with its high glossy, food-ography and amazing assortment of recipes from around the world.

I find myself eagerly awaiting my copy every single month to see, "My goa! Look at what's on the front cover!" before flipping swifly to the index page to read about the new additions.

I find myself taking time to read and re-read the recipes detailing the exact how-to prepare Porchetta, moussaka, the original Cobb salad, eggplant spread, stuffed celery, maple bacon biscuits, squash blossom pizza, clayuda, lemon and rosemary chicken, pastitsio -- so much more!!!

*pauses to lick lips* 

"The Burger Bible" was one of my favorite issues -- as was the issue about fare from Los Angeles, where I was born and raised.

So, I continued: "What if I added a new challenge? What if I made each dish featured on the cover of each month's Saveur?"

...and this is how yet another crazy idea was born.

But here it begins.

This month's feature: Peppers Stuffed with Feta.

I have never made this recipe before, so I followed it almost exactly (sorry -- but there always must be SOME variation). For the chiles, I used Anaheim and Fresno. The Fresno chiles were somewhat hot -- not burn-the-buds-off-your-tongue hot, but hot enough to have you whimpering a little bit.

And don't be mistaken by the title. A quite a bit more than feta was going on with that stuffing, which was quite decadent. Very lush. Rich. Slighty spicy. All in all, a good addition to the dinner table. And considering how I like to avoid cooking from a recipe, this is a tremendous nod to Saveur.

Strawberries Dressed for the Occasion

Sea salt + Chocolate + Butter + Strawberries = Two very blissful women.

That would be Kelly and Nancy. Chocolate? I'm not a fan.

But that two of them are.

We had planned to have Kelly over for dinner tonight to celebrate the holiday. A simple, small gathering.

But I wanted to do something extra special -- chocolate-covered strawberries.

I have attempted this one other time in life. I pulled it off poorly, primarily because I overcooked the chocolate, and too fast. It had begun to turn into candy, but determined me plunged the tender strawberries in the chocolate anyway. What a sight.


This time, I planned ample time to work through the process with gentle grace.

I very slowly melted the butter, then added the chocolate two to four blocks at a time.

It took about 10 minutes to completely melt the chocolate. I then turned off the heat and gently dipped each strawberry, twirling them slightly before placing them -- softly -- onto wax paper.

They were quite lovely. I could have added a bit more chocolate to each before placing them in the fridge to allow the chocolate to solidify. But, alas -- I didn't get any complaints about them at the dinner table.

In fact -- I had an audience all the while I was preparing them. Yep -- Alex. She so wanted a taste.

A little, bitty, tiny taste? Please?

No, sorry Alex. No chocolate for dogs.

Goodness, it is sometimes hard to resist that precious little face.

Peaches, Pt. Two

Ah...that was much better.

So, recall how I mentioned at the end of the last food challenge that I should had mixed the peach "salsa" into a taco or with a steak.

I made these lovely tacos for lunch yesterday -- lamb mince, tortillas and the peach salsa. I added more Sriracha with each bite.

Talk about a mouth full of juicy, luscious bliss!!!

*sigh* Yes.

Friday, September 3, 2010

FOOD CHALLENGE: Peaches


Commence the harmonic, angelic music.

Aren't those the most perfect-looking peaches?! And just in time for the food challenge.

In preparing this week's challenge meal, I called it the marriage of opposites. Nancy wanted to know if that, too, is what we would call our wedding. Tee hee. I suppose you have got to know us to get the joke.

Nonetheless, here we go.

I had been boiling my brain trying to figure out what I would make. Peaches?! Goodness. I love a challenge, but what to do with peaches if not a peach cobbler, peach pie, peaches and ice cream...

No to desserts! I wanted to make an entree.

But Nancy brought to mind -- what about breakfast? Or a side? ...a side. Yes! A...peach salsa? Why not.

I got all my ingredients poised: Two not-yet-ripe peaches, lemon and lime, a red bell pepper, an Anaheim pepper, corn on the cob, cilantro, green onions, a red onion and some spices and herbs.

...oh, and salmon. More on that later. That gets to the point about the marriage of opposites.

So, I got my fruit and veggies ready for the grill. I figured that if I were making a salsa, I had to grill the peaches.

I put some olive oil on the grill-bound eats -- with a little bit (just a pinch) of salt for the peaches -- and put the grill on high.

Everything was ready within about a half hour period.

Meanwhile, I was cooking the jasmine rice on the stove with some onion salt and turmeric -- just a tiny bit of turmeric, though. Really, as though the turmeric wasn't even there. I was worried that the flavor would overwhelm everything else. I just wanted a gentle taste of the spice. Turned out that while good, I could have gone a bit more heavy handed with the spice.

When everything was prepped from the grill, I put the grill-less items in a bowl, then let the peaches and vegetables cool a bit before chopping them up.

Once chopped, I tossed them with the rest of the items and added just a few drops of Sriracha for the heat effect. What's salsa without heat? Turned out to be a good addition, though I did experiment with chili oil first. That was a bad, bad, bad idea! Blecht! Thank goodness only a spoonful went to waste.

The salmon was baked, quite simply, with butter, salt and parsley with a splash of lemon throughout. This is my fall-back salmon recipe.

And I am still working on my presentation, so I opted to cut the salmon into these strange triangles to bump up against the rice mold. Nancy said the rice mold reminded her of hospital food; the triangle salmon reminded me of quiche.

Next time I will go vertical for an elaborate show!

The peaches did quite well in the "salsa" -- but I should have grilled them much longer. Turned out I only grilled them on the exposed part. It may have benefited the flavor having grilled both sides and much longer! The peaches simply didn't pick up the slightly charred essence I was hoping to achieve.

So, yeah -- everything independent of one another was pretty tasty. But, together, created a weird amalgamation of I don't know what.

Still, Nancy and I both felt it was a good meal. Plenty of food with the one serving, so we'll have lots of leftovers to toss into other dishes. With the peach salsa, I am thinking it would be best served in tacos or over a steak. Perhaps.

Simplicity in a Bowl

Ah...sometimes you need to have days like these.

Nancy and I were somewhat exhausted – it’s been one of those weeks – so we opted to rummage through the fridge and throw something together.

I should have taken more photos.

We ended up with broken rice flavored with mirin and fish sauce, shrimp sauteed in garlic and olive oil, steamed broccoli and Aidells chicken and apple sausages.

We tossed this together for a meal.

Yep.

…don’t laugh.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Lamb, Mustard, Potatoes? Oh, Yeah!

We had a friend over for dinner -- yea to entertaining!!! Nothing like being able to test out my culinary skills and creations with other folks around.

We went for a rack of lamb, salad and red potatoes.

For the lamb, I created a rub using cinnamon, cumin, brown sugar, salt and olive oil. I let this sit for about a half hour.

I grilled the lamb rack on medium heat for about 10 minutes total, flipping twice because the first flip came too early. I'm still working my skills on the grill -- even after years of practice.

Then, I prepped the salad -- mozzarella balls, peppers, olive oil, tomatoes...similar to the same thing I tend to do with salads.

For the red potatoes, I boiled them until they were soft, but still held their shape.

I them let them cool before mixing them d mustard with the mustard seeds, fresh dill, salt and papper and some olive oil.

Sorry -- I never measure so I don't know how much of what went in.

When the potatoes were slightly cool and bit, I tossed them in with mustard dill mixture.

I then tossed the salad, and there you have it! A nice, round, easy to make meal. Took less than one hour to put together.

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