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.


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?


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!

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