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!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

In Love with Entertaining

 
INFJ: Introverted, iNtuitive, Feeling, Judging.

That is my Myers-Briggs personality type. I was first tested as a freshman in college; again just a couple of years ago. And, still, I am a solid INFJ.

It is true that the sign of introversion is not mere anti-social behavior.

Still, I find it sometimes surprising that I love entertaining a house full of guests -- whether family or dear friends -- and, yet, am a solid introvert. I remind myself that being an introvert does not mean what we have been told in popular media and common conversations.

Introversion is not merely about being reclusive, shy and against socializing with others. Introversion is really about being consumed with the inner workings of the mind -- thinking and processing.  

It is no wonder, then, that when preparing for a party I spend time thinking about the obvious and not so obvious for my guests:
  • I am sure to have purified water on hand, with cups on the ready. 
  • I set out not only forks, but also knives for those of us who are a bit more concerned with stylized eating -- even during an informal potluck.
  • I set the not-so-obvious-pairings near one another. 
  • Setting the space for gatherings, I am offer an arrangement and seating for different types -- for those who prefer to stand and chat; other areas for those who want to sit and lounge; and I keep the front room gentle in ambiance for those who want to get away to a less busy room for more intimate conversation. 
  • And when I make my playlist, I am sure to mix up some mellow and high-energy music, keeping the volume to that of one's indoor speaking voice. 
That is the sign of introversion. I am constantly thinking of the comfort of my guests and working to make sure they have what they want and need.

So accepting that I am both an introvert and a lover of entertaining, I can appreciate that there is no contradiction there; that there is nothing strange or obscure about being an introvert -- who I am -- and entertaining groups of people I love -- what I so enjoy doing.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Saffron (?) Chicken and Peppers

Where was I going with this?

It's like a buffet in a pot.

So, yes, this made little sense when it was over. The flavor was good, but it was strange to toss in so many ingredients and it still turn out to be relatively light and somewhat flat.

Overkill?

Using saffron, peppers, fresh parsley and onions I imagined that this would taste like Caesars Palace incarnate.

I started with the chicken.

I marinated them for a short period of time in fresh lemon juice. 

I then cooked them at a high temperature for a short period of time in a pot. I wanted them to brown and then cook very slowly in a broth.

Actually, I didn't use broth for this dish. I used a pot of water saturated with all kinds of spices and herbs. I also added some onions, garlic and about one can of chunky tomato sauce.

Tomato sauce?

I suppose I was going for a stew of some sort.

I let this cook through for some time.

In the end, I tossed in some fresh parsley in hopes of adding a bit of a light flavor to what amounted to a very deep dish. With the sweet peppers, the saffron (flavor that was lost in the heaviness of the dish) and a tons of other yummy goodies, I am not sure what to call this. Good as it was, I won't be making it again -- lest by accident.












Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Fake Pho

I tried something new.


A cut of oxtail is the type of meat that requires such patience. It demands it, strangely without demanding much of your attention. Have a pot of boiling liquid? Set it to cook on low for hours without ever sneaking a peek and it will be fine.

If you want oxtails to finally yield, to soften and give way to the luscious richness you've been craving, it is not wise to hurry the cooking process.

I most commonly braise oxtails. The first I'd ever had were braised, then smothered in a dark, heavy gravy.

But there is another way, a slow, steady boil in seasoned water replenished toward the end with broth.

It was Saigon Pho that turned me on. This wonderful Vietnamese restaurant near the entrance to the University of Arizona is tucked away off the main drag. You have to know it's there, or you have to have been sent there by Yelp.

Saigon Pho's oxtails are served in a beef stock with thin strips of beef, sweet onions, cilantro and, if you like, carrots and cabbage. I love how the tiny beads of oil sit teeming on the top layer of the nearly broth. 

Oxtails in a light broth?

...hum.

I tried to replicate the pho at home. Granted, this is no where near the complexity of true pho. In fact, even calling it a "fake pho" seems somewhat insulting. On a low boil, I cooked the oxtails in seasoned water for about two hours. I had to add one batch of water along the way. Toward the end, I added the chicken broth and let this simmer for another hour, adding more broth along the way.

Served with raw bean sprouts, green onions, napa cabbage and cilantro, it didn't taste anything near Saigon Pho's amazing dish, but it was still wonderfully filling nonetheless.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Butter Parsley New Potatoes

These were fun to make. New potatoes in red, yellow and purple.


I cannot recall having cooked new potatoes but, like any potato, the simplicity in a basic cooking method is pretty ridiculous.

All you need is some boiling water, salt and butter and you've got absolutely amazing tasting potatoes. No flash and no pizazz necessary.

Seriously. Potatoes are the VW Beetle's of the culinary world. Simple, yet sophisticated, fun and uncomplicated.


I sliced these for presentation since I was taking them to a potluck dinner. Couldn't go all crazy with the knife. I tried to make the slices nice so the potatoes would look somewhat dainty but, alas, I do not have a potato peeler.

No worries. I think the turnout was quite remarkable.























So, what did I do?

After boiling the potatoes until they were just soft -- soft enough to easily pierce them with a fork -- I roasted them at 400 for what felt like fo-eva! Goa! I thought it would only take them about 30 minutes to roast, but it took a little more than one hour for them to brown. I think this is largely because I crowded the roasting pan. My bad.

Toward the end of roasting, I heated a mass of butter in a pot then added garlic and fresh parsley. A ton of parsley. Tossed the potatoes in the pot and that was that.

You should have smelled the house! Seriously scientists, get on that technology that will allow us to transmit smells via the Internet!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Product Review: Cacique Cotija

I have been eating Cacique's brand of cotija cheese for years.

It's no wonder I keep coming back.

Looking at it while it is still air locked in its container, the cotija looks rock hard. It feels that same ways; solid, rigid, tough.

But when you cut open the plastic, and begin to you tear away the cheese, it crumbles away. Only then does it become evident that this robust cheese is crumbly with a lovely texture and flavor.

Think Parmesan cheese.

It leans a bit more to the dry side, but not so dry that all the saliva draws from your mouth. It still has a lovely, flavorful yield that is both light and powerful. It melds well served atop tostadas. I think the flavor gets lost when you wrap it in, say, a burrito.

This is the kind of cheese that needs all the attention. So instead of burying it with other ingredients -- lest you use a lot of it -- try it on a bean dip, atop crackers, on corn on the cob, wrapped in a lightly buttered tortilla or all by itself.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Tostada -- Not a Greasy Napkin was Found

Why do I ever eat out?

No, really? Why?

It is often less expensive, more nutritious and much more interesting to cook at home. I have proven this time and time again.

Potluck with friends? Love it! There is bound to be a smorgashbord of dishes; a conglomeration of vegan, vegetarian and carnivorous delights, equipped with a mess of desserts and vegetable cuts for snacking.

Cooking for loved ones? What a treat! Oxtails cooked so long that the meat leaps from the bone. Homemade biscuits so delicious that you nearly burn your finger trying to get them fresh from the oven. Omletes large enough that you have one for breakfast and save the rest for lunch or an afternoon snack.

Eating alone? Look at all those leftovers for lunch that will cover the next two days.

And there are times like this that happen over and over. I opted to make a tostada with roasted chicken breasts and freshly cut tomatoes, diced jalapenos, lettuce, onions and cilantro along. This was served with avocado, salsa and la crema, then topped with cotija.

O. M. G.

I used My Nana's uncooked flour tortillas, baking one in the oven for about 10 minutes. I love how it plumped up and created these nice, stuff folds that, when punctured, resulted in nice pockets to hold the vegetables and other toppings.

I love how absolutely fresh everything tasted. Not a hint of grease, and not a single grease-stained napkin.

It left me feeling that I could never, ever justify ordering something like this in public ever again.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Product Review: My Nana's Uncooked Flour Tortillas


I cannot say that I was excited about using uncooked flour tortillas. I had never purchased uncooked flour tortilla before. I figured that if the company making them may have a better idea about producing perfect tortillas than I -- a person who has not yet invested the time to figure out how to make them myself.

Though, yes, I know that the process is quiet easy. I'll have to get on that.

But, for now, I wanted to experiment with these. I find that I enjoy My Nana's tortilla strips and chips, so why not her flour tortillas. 

Foremost, I love the versatility. You want lightly warmed tortillas? You want tortillas cooked to a nearly burnt crisp? You've got it! They taste light and fresh, but not as flavorful as I would have expected.

Of course, that may well be because I refused to cook these in lard or butter. I just warmed them. I suppose I shouldn't complain about the flavor then. The only problem I had was that you must be very careful not to brown them too much if you intend to roll them. This was strange to me. A nice even browning, and the tortillas still cracked and broke when rolled into a burrito.

But I can't say that I will be buying these again, preferring that my tortillas come cooked already.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Gentle Egg Meets Sweet Toast

French toast. Blue agave syrup. An egg.

Those three simple ingredients were met with so many Oohs and Ahhs. And why not? The slightly charred toast with a beautiful, still rounded egg on top along with a small drizzle of blue agave syrup made for the perfect snack.

Sweet. Tender. Filling. Decadent.

I felt I had ordered room service. And when my fork met the egg, it burst forward with a just-warm silky stream of yolk. I was not surprised that the flavors melded so well together. Just a brief ting of salt with a tiny bit of pepper for mild spice along with the sugary sweetness of the syrup.

I wanted more.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sushi Perfection? Never!


I believe it is true: If you have not trained with a sushi master, it is pretty well impossible to make perfect or even near perfect sushi rolls.

It's a sad reality, honestly. I would love to be able to make beautifully rounded sushi rolls filled with fresh fish plucked right from the sea.

But, alas, I live in the desert.

And I have received no formal training -- ever -- on how to appropriately prepare sushi, whether it be authentic or Americanized.

It does not matter how delicious the sushi rice turns out, there is always a missing essence. There is something about the seaweed, the fish or shellfish that is, simply put, lacking.

*sigh*

For now, I will have to deal with substandard homemade sushi, enjoying the good stuff only while dining out.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Lazy Crockpot-Style BBQ Pulled Pork

Found a beautiful pork shoulder and decided to slow cook it in the crockpot.

Now, we know that I am highly selective about pork.

Highly. 

I even have a hard time with bacon. If you are looking at me like this ---> shock face < --- please don't.

All that to say that I wasn't sure what to do with the cut. I don't have a smoker and there is no way I would roast such a cut for hours upon hours. So the optimal cooking procedure called for a crockpot.

I began with the layer of flavoring -- onion, leeks, garlic, garlic salt, black pepper and seasoned salt. I may have tossed in some cumin and ground mustard. Seems like something I would do but, honestly, I cannot recall.

I then added orange juice and about two cups of water because, uh oh, I forgot to get broth.

It worked out in the end.

Adding the pork shoulder, I cooked the lot for about eight hours in the crock pot -- the easy, lazy way.

I wasn't exactly sure how this would turn out. One thing that drives me nuts is soaping wet meat when it is nowhere near being a stew.

I wasn't going for a stew here, but after the cooking time, that's almost what it looked like.

So, quick thinking: I removed the meat, placing it in a foil-lined pan. I put the oven to 400 degrees, slathered the shreds of pork in Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce, then put it in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes.

The result: Decadent.

The flavor was just amazing. The meat with so soft and gentle. Not the stringy kind you get with a failed attempt at pulled pork.

I was quite impressed, and believe that the orange juice and BBQ sauce made the dish.

Goodness. The darkened tips were just golden!


Monday, October 29, 2012

Savory Simplicity

I have made a hugely important and wildly successful milestone in my program.

Consequently, life has been busy, complex, wonderful, challenging. And that means I've had less time to commit to the kitchen.


But on this particular evening I made a simple seared salmon with semi-caramelized onions, broccoli and corn with soy milk.

Luscious, light, simple and full. A wonderful compliment to a life full of appreciation. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Jiffy-Battered Shrimp and Catfish


Yeah! It's time to make some Louisiana style catfish and shrimp! Just let me get my handy dandy Louisiana Fish Fry and let's get this party sta....

You've got to be kidding me!

Where is my Louisiana Fish Fry?

But it was right here, near the three bags of sushi rice and the mammoth-sized bag of jasmine rice.

No, it was over here, near the rarely used stash of sugar.

Oh, wait...perhaps I put it over by the rice paper wrappings and nori.

Ah! It's in the cabinet where I keep the lesser used spices!

...nope.

Oops. I had to have run out of the good stuff months ago.

But, crud! I've already begun marinating the catfish and shrimp in Old Bay seasoning.

Arrrrghhhhh!!!

Oh top of it, I had no cornmeal in the house. But, by a fluke, I had a box of Jiffy in the pantry. I'd never used Jiffy as a seafood batter. Never even considered it. But I was desperate. Into a bowl it went with a few tablespoons of flour and some cayenne, paprika and onion powder.

Side note: Whenever using flour to bread anything, it is crucially important to not merely season the fish or meat, but to also season the flour. It helps to round out the flavor, and to ensure that the seasoning is evenly distributed.

So, yes, there I was in the kitchen, experimenting big time with this box of cornbread/muffin mix.

I don't even like cornbread! The only reason why I even had this in the house is because I made a casserole for the office a month or so ago and had the leftover box.

Phew!

I beat an egg, dredged half of the shrimp and sent that into the bowl. I also had a reserve for the catfish; same process. I kept a naked bowl of shrimp to determine which process I would enjoy the best.

The verdict: Not bad! OK, so Jiffy seems to have a lot of sugar because, goodness, the shrimp was quite sweet, but perfectly flavored otherwise.

The catfish was good, but I think the fillet was simply too large because the batter-to-fish ratio was off.

Other than that, what a fantastic idea for an emergency! The shrimp came to a perfect crisp! In fact, the taste was more flavorful than the naked shrimp.

For all, I used a wok and frying oil. I find that this is more useful and results in a deeper fry than trying to use a standard skillet. The flavor was not quite like the Louisiana style, but it was worth writing home about. I told my mother and sister all about it the following day.

I may try this again, adding a bit more flour to thin out the sugar content.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Childhood Memory-Inducing Smothered Pork Chops

OK so, yeah, smothered pork chops is more southern than southern California, but that didn't stop my family from enjoy this dish from time to time throughout my youth.

There is something about deep gravy drenching slightly crispy-turned-soft pork chops, always with a sharp and slightly sweet flavor.

The slightly sweet flavor comes from the pork chops being caramelized a bit before being smothered. The sharp tinge comes from the soy sauce. I use it to make my gravy. It's how my great grandmother, Viola, made her gravy. Her teachings have remained with me to this day.

In all, the dish calls for the pork chops (bone in, either thick or thinly sliced) to be seasoned with onion powder, garlic salt and Lawry's seasoning salt. Given the latter two, it is essential to find a balance in seasoning, lest the pork chops taste decorated with a mound of sodium.

It is best to cook the pork chops on the highest temperature possible with a bit of oil. You want them to char only slightly, developing a nice browning that indicates the sugars are being released and cooked to a perfect point.

Meanwhile, get your items prepped for the gravy. Once the pork chops are cooked through, place them on a plate with a couple paper towels. Then use the existing skillet to start in on the gravy. I like to add broth -- any type will do. As the broth is warming up, carefully -- ever so carefully -- add the flour in small portions. I have ruined gravy one too many time by adding the flour too quickly, resulting in clumps that resemble light-colored kidney stones.

Once the mixture begins to resemble gravy, I add a bit of soy sauce. Not much, just a few sprinkles. Then I continue cooking the gravy, but more slowly then, until it has the right consistency. I generally have to add more broth, then a little bit more flour. But, in all, it doesn't take long. Toward the end, I add the onion, then add the pork chops and mushrooms at the same time.

After a quick simmer, dinner is served. I love this dish. It always reminds me of childhood and home.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Product Review: Spiced-Butter Sweet Potatoes

I saw these in the freezer aisle and thought, "Oooh! So taking these home."

I enjoy sweet potatoes, but I have generally had them mashed into a pie of some sort. Ever had a sweet potato pie? Goodness gracious!

...though I am having a flash back at this moment. Growing up in Los Angeles, it was common to see men dressed in suits standing on the medians of street junctions, waving these beautiful pink boxes. Inside were individual orders of bean pies. We were huge fans. It was a common ritual. We would see one of these men (Muslims; members of the Nation of Islam) with friendly faces and a newspaper of their religious order, yelling "Bean pie!" It was all part of their fundraising efforts.

My dad was a biggest fan in the family. Or, at least that's how he led on.

I loved when, pulled up to a red light, he would roll down the window, wave a few dollars and exchange a few words, then pull that pink box into the car. Being the eldest, I got to hold it sometimes.

What I have learned is that the Nation of Islam advocated for enjoying the bean pie over the sweet potato pie. This and remains part of an emphasis away from heavy American foods. Actually, now that I think about it, I enjoy bean pies more than sweet potato pies. Bean pies have a bit more complexity and are more ...I want to say dense, but that is not a good word. Bean pies hold together much better. That's what I mean!

Anyway, when I saw this bag by Archer Farms, I had to try it.

Huge disappointment.

OK, so, yes -- I should have read the description. I was mesmerized by the image and the memories of having sweet potato pies earlier in life, so I paid no attention to "spiced-butter" or the description of butter nuggets. 

Not to mention that the calorie breakdown sways too-too heavy toward the carbohydrates. Like, 70 percent of this products resides in the carbs.

It's just that the flavor wasn't very good. But the look and texture, you could tell this product was made from sweet potatoes. But it just didn't taste like potatoes. There is this strange granular feel to it, even after cooking it for 15 minutes (cooked stovetop instead of the microwave, which is one of the cooking options listed on the back).

You can taste the cinammon, but the butter tastes and looks like fake, manufactured butter. Yet it says right there on the cover that it was made using "real butter." Real butter?! How?

Sadly, I only ate about five cubes and tossed it into the trash. What a waste!


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Best Homemade Burger Yet

Rarely will I make a burger, lest I have a special request. That was the case here for a lunch order. What made this burger was the rich flavor of the meat and these amazing telera buns.

I had not tried telera buns before. But not being able to find a small bag of sourdough, I opted to try these. I understand that telera is a variation of bolillo bread, which is quite common in this region. You find it at the grocery store in these large plastic bins.

I never buy bolillo. I always wonder how fresh they can possibly be when they are stacked mounds upon mounds without an air seal. I'll have to try them one time so that I may provide an honest review. As for the telera, I cannot recall having seen this bread in the grocery store. Granted, I rarely purchase bread anymore, and when I did, I always (always) went for either Milton's or sourdough.

But these beautiful rounds with melted cheese on top -- couldn't pass them buy.

Nice choice.

I began with the meat, seasoning the ground beef with onion powder, garlic salt, cayenne, mustard seed, ginger powder and ground pepper. I then let the meat sit in the fridge while I chopped up the tomatoes, lettuce and onion.

I sauteed the onions and cooked an egg. I also sliced up an avocado.

Once the hamburger patties were cooked through, I went for the assembly. Having toasted the buns, I smeared them with a sampling of buttermilk ranch dressing and ketchup.

Paired with some roasted sweet peppers and there you have it. There wasn't a need to have another meal for the rest of the day.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Oxtails -- a Long-Time Favorite


I have been cooking oxtails for years. More recently, I have taken a liking to cooking my oxtails with star anise.

I was first introduced to oxtails during my time in Beaumont, Texas. I did not find the steaming lot, kept warm in a buffet line, appetizing. But my lunch mate informed me that it would be a mistake of tremendous an unforgivable proportions if I were to forego the oxtails.

So glad I didn't. It led to a love affair.

Yes, oxtails have got to be one of the most challenging meats to eat. Certainly not business or date night food at all. At all. But I love how a long, soft cook can really bring out the flavor and the tenderness of this wonderful meat.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Product Review: Emergen-C Super Orange


Given the impending flu season, I have to put in a plug for Emergen-C, a supplement that I have been taking for a couple of years now. I do not take it regularly -- only when I begin to feel slightly ill. It might be a mild cold. Or allergies. Or just general icky-ness. I simply add a packet of Emergen-C to a glass, add about four ounce of water, and down it in a quick series of gulps.

I do not know if it is somewhat psychological, but I tend to feel well later in the day, or the next day. No lie. It's like a magic cream, but in powder form. It's tried and true with me.

I like the Super Orange flavor the best. Granted, it tastes absolutely nothing like an orange, but closer to orange-flavored chalk. But, really, we're not drinking this for the flavor. No need to pour this into a martini glass. You will not sip, but chug. The idea is to get it into your body as quickly as possible.

But, yeah...about that flavor. I also have tried the raspberry,pink lemonade and tangerine flavors. They also make  a lemon-lime, tropical fruit and cranberry-pomegrante, among a host of others. I find that the pink lemonade is just OK. The others I have tried has been just terrible. But the Super Orange -- it's the most tolerable of them all. And it looks kind of cool when mixed with the water.

And a warning: Follow the instructions on the packet. Don't think it's a good idea to double on the dosage. Trust me, it's not. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Bacon-Wrapped Catfish with Bean Sprouts

I rarely cook with bacon, and when I do, I make it memorable.

I am not sure how this crazy idea was born. I had a mad craving for catfish and, alas, had some bacon in the fridge.

 I intended to use that bacon for breakfast, but while trying to figure out how I wanted to prepare the catfish, a crazy thought appeared:

Roasted bacon-wrapped catfish.

OK -- so the process didn't turn out the way I imagined.

First, I seasoned the catfish with Old Bay seasoning and dried parsley, then gently wrapped them in bacon.

I then baked the rolls at 400 for about 14 minutes.

I found that the fish was cooked nearly through, but the bacon still looked pinkish.

In a mad dash, and without the panic, I thought of a solution. I would have to fry the rolls. 

Bleeeccchhhhtttt! I believe I have mentioned it before, but it's worth mentioning again: I cannot stand the sight or smell of bacon frying. I am not sure why, but the smell is simply terrible to me. But when it is cooked through, I find that I can enjoy bacon quite well. I feel the same with eggs, strangely.

I pulled out one of my skillets and, on the highest temperature, tried a swift-cook on the bacon.

This worked out very well, and the bacon cooked very fast, while the catfish remained somewhat soft, but seared on the ends.

Back into the oven.

I cooked the rolls for another 15 minutes or so. At that point, they were ready.

I love the flavor, but found that the roll was very heavy! Maybe I will use only one or two strips of bacon next time.

The accompaniment consisted of swift-fried bean sprouts with fresh spinach. For flavoring, I used sesame oil and a little bit of ponzu. Despite the seemingly strange mash-up, everything turned out to go quite well together.
 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Shank + Sprouts = Layers of Flavor

 
I absolutely love bean sprouts. Love them. I can enjoy them raw. Or in a stir-fry, vegetarian or meat-eater style. I enjoy them sauteed with sesame oil or ponzu; I so enjoy them when they are wrapped in eggrolls or spring rolls. They are also wonderful in kimchi dishes.

Every way I've tried them, I've been satisfied.

On this particular evening, I slow cooked beef shank in chicken broth along with onion and garlic along with a few pieces of anise.

But first, I seared the meat, having seasoned it with cumin, garlic salt and onion powder. Then they went into the pot of broth for about 1.5 hours.

Toward the end of cooking, I added the carrots. Meanwhile, I chopped up the cabbage and, drizzled with a tiny bit of olive oil and dried parsley, put it into the fridge until the meat was prepared.

Served over raw bean sprouts and the raw cabbage, this was a wonderful, hearty meal. And I was so pleased that, given the length of time the meat cooked, the marrow melted into the mix, creating a rich, deep flavor.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Spa Experience Ripoff

Visiting one of our local spas, I had the dinner of my life: cuts from a frenched rack of lamb served alongside a cauliflour mash and fresh sugar snap peas atop a curry sauce. The moment I tasted the dish, I knew I would be trying this at home.

I went for a few alterations: The rack was rubbed with a mixture of brown sugar, olive oil, onion poweder and garlic pepper then placed in the refrigerator for several hours.

The cauliflour was boiled, as was one potato, then put in the food processor with some salt and pepper until it had a nice, soft considtency. This is how I was told the chef did it.

Also, I cooked up that butternut squash that had bit sitting in the corner of the kitchen. I roasted it for about 45 minutes, then put it in the blender with some soy milk.

The curry sauce, which was a very thin and light sauce, called for an onion sautee, soy milk and curry powder. The chef used vegetable stock but, alas, I had none on hand.

It was not as impressive as the resort meal, but, goodness, was it good! Thank you chef!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

More Pretzel Bites

Goodness! These were fun to make.

I simply followed the recipe posted by Pennies on a Platter. Yeah, I know, not my style. It was a food challenge item. Literally, one of my co-workers handed me this recipe and set me to it.

Considering the prevalent nature of pretzel bites on the Internet, I'll tell the story about making these ham and mozzarella breakfast goodies, which took about four hours, in pictures: 








Sunday, September 9, 2012

Concentric Mounds of Yummy


A simple dinner, yet one that yielded a semi-elegance that made you want to put on satin gloves.

The pork loin was stuffed, quite simply, with roasted red bell peppers, mozzarella and asparagus. Along with it, a roasted sweet pepper mash.

I wanted the consistency of the mash to be a bit tighter than it appears here. But the flavor was there, and a lovely complement to the loin.

Ah, decadence.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Roasted Chicken with Veggies Abound

I am loving these simple meals.

The fridge is happy as well. Lots of re-purposing going on; it's wonderful trying to figure out how to stretch an ingredient out. I think I used the asparagus in three different recipes. And the salad? Nothing fancy.

The chicken, however, was more involved. Marinated in lemon juice, I also added some fish sauce and seasoning, roasting the chicken for just about a half hour. Plated with also-roasted asparagus, I had little to say while eating.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Lamb-Stuffed Anaheim and Ancho

Anaheim and ancho (or poblano) chiles stuffed with cooked lamb atop blue or mozerella cheese -- that's what this post is made of.

I had it in my mind all afternoon that this is what I would make but, alas, after trips to three different grocery stores, I found that ground lamb was only on back order.

Bummer.

I decided I would just cut lamb shoulder (which was in ample supply) into bite-sized chunks. Not ideal. But there you have it. But I decided to consult the butcher, asking him if this particular cut of meat would be suitable as a mock-mince. He was a darling and offered to chop it up for me as finely as he could.

*squeals with delight*

He cut the meat as finely as he could with his best knife, doing a far superior job than I could have or might have.

Back home, I began roasting the chiles at a temperature of about 400.

I then set the lamb to marinade in a few squeezes of lemon, olive oil, brown sugar, garam masala, cumin, onion powder and a little bit of salt and pepper.

I then set to work on the base flavor -- sauteed onions, using red and sweet yellow onions, along with garlic.

Once the base was prepared, I began slowly cooking the lamb in a skillet on a very low heat. I think I let the meat cook for about 20 minutes before adding the base.

By that point, the chiles were ready to be peeled and seeded. That took no time.

Because I removed the stems of each, I had to wrap them all with a bit of twine with the filling, which in addition to the lamb included a little bit of goat cheese and mozzarella. I wasn't sure about the mozzarella, but it turned out to be a good addition. 

I returned the lot to the oven for about 15 minutes. Served with a spinach salad and some leftover pureed cauliflower that a friend gave me (I will try and replicate that and post at a later time), it was a wonderful, bountiful, flavorful meal. I especially loved the Anaheims, but the ancho had a bit more of a spicy southwestern tinge, which left me more deeply in love.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Ms. Lovely Lox

I am very satisfied with the most recent curing process. Stephen over at The Obsessive Chef was right on -- the cure should take no more than three days. After removing the cure (a kosher salt-brown sugar combo) by washing my salmon fillets, I returned them to the fridge uncovered for a couple hours. I understand that this helps the lox to dry and to develop a certain firmness. Then, I sandwiched them against one another and covered them with a bowl and left them that way overnight.

The lox was just fantastic this morning. I love the color, texture and the flavor. I found that the saltiness that characterized the salmon my first time around was nonexistent during this turn. Also, the lox did not look like pink leather this time, but rather it appeared it was wrapped in a thin sheet of silk. The lovely oils were glistening and the flesh had a fine yield.

Preparing an afternoon snack, I opted for a few slices of lox to go with some capers, onion and half an avocado.

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