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!

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.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Banana Pudding for the Office

So, I've been doing these food challenges for the office for some time now. Actually, almost a full year.

There was the Honey-Sugar-Vanilla Based Peanut Butter Balls

Also Cornbread Dressed for Dinner .

A Bundt Full of Fists

Banana-Bread -- Eck for Me, Popular for Them

I love getting a challenge item. Sometimes I get an e-mail, or a suggestion while passing through the walkway. Sometimes, as was the case here, the idea comes over during casual talk in a staff meeting.

But, goodness me! Bananas again?

I loathe bananas, but I will not turn down a challenge item. Well, I have not yet been challenged to make s seven layer cake or an item I would have to special order from some place out of physical reach, like Bengal or Thailand. I would have to say, "Thanks, but no," to those requests.

Banana pudding came up during a recent meeting, much to the glee of a couple of co-workers.

So here goes.

I read a few recipes and found that banana pudding is something like a custard. I went with the egg yolk, sugar, vanilla extract, milk, corn starch, cinnamon, cream cheese, butter and Nilla Wafers (I remember these from childhood as my father absolutely loved them). I went with cream cheese because a co-worker mentioned that she'd heard from a friend that using cream cheese would help with consistency and flavor.

I found that this was one of those rewarding recipes, the kind where it is unbelievable that things are actually working out. It was like that from the go -- separating the egg yolks. I have never done this before. It was simple enough. I was amazed to find out rounded the yolks proved to be. With care, they did not dare run at all!

And at the end of the day, there was nary a dollop to be found.


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