Tag Archives: nice food

Cramming for Turkey Time

10 Nov

So, you left it to the last minute as usual, huh? No worries. I have pretty much been reading nothing but Thanksgiving recipes for the past three weeks and in the spirit of giving, would like to share my favorite findings with you! So here you go. Your Turkey Day Crib Sheet (just like those you used to slip inside your TI-89 for those chemistry quizzes).

 

Adapted from Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks recipe, these Double Baked Coconut Sweet Potatoes are a wonderful twist on a classic. I’m a sucker for anything with coconut milk in it, so I knew I would love this. In this recipe, it adds a lovely, mellow, sweet creaminess. My adaptations to Heidi’s recipe: I doubled the amount of coconut milk (I use Chaokoh brand, which is unsweetened) … I told you, I love the stuff … cut down the amount of grated ginger to 1 teaspoon, used honey instead of maple syrup, and didn’t have macadamia nuts on hand, so I substituted with pecans. It came out so good, I’m glad I bought a whole case of sweet potatoes from Costco

One of my favorite food blogs, The Bitten Word, has been tracking the coming of our national eat fest with a number of posts that have been getting me pumped for this holiday since the beginning of the month. If you want to get inspired, check out their collection of recipes pulled from every food magazine there is (Turkey Time: What the Food Magazines are Recommending, Starters and Sides for This Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Desserts, Our Thanksgiving Menu). Kudos to Clay and Zach, creators of The Bitten Word, for doing all the legwork!

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Best Kept Brunch Secret in Soho

8 Nov

Looking for a quaint, country-fresh brunch spot without worrying about the deadly NY weekend brunch wait? Look no further. The Tasting Room offers a wholesome brunch menu, and will feed it to you before your stomach starts to eat itself from morning-after hangover hunger. The gentle prices will also take the sting off last night’s bar tab.

Simple and fresh, with a touch of decadence are the key themes at The Tasting Room. The organic free range omelet was fluffy and satisfying; buttermilk biscuits were full of hot, flaky, buttery goodness, and were accompanied by delightful little pots of elderberry jam and dark chocolate ganache; homemade chorizo sausage were killer, so much so that I was inspired to attempt to recreate them at home. A close replica was accomplished and was a great make-ahead dish for a large group.

  Inspired re-make recipe: Chorizo Sausage Patties

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 lb. chorizo (I actually used Trader Joe’s chicken chorizo which worked really well)

1 lb. sweet Italian sausage (removed from casings)

1/2 c. breadcrumbs

2 cloves garlic

2 Tbsp. milk

2 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp curry powder (or garam masala if you have it)

1/8 tsp. ground cloves

1 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme

1 tsp. finely chopped fresh sage

2 large egg yolks

Preparation:

Lightly caramelize onion over moderately low heat, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool 10 minutes.

While onions are cooling, stir together breadcrumbs and milk in a large bowl and let stand until crumbs absorb milk. Add onions and remaining ingredients to crumb mixture and stir with a fork until blended well.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Form sausage mixture into 3-inch patties (about 1/2 inch thick) with dampened hands and arrange on a wax-paper lined tray.

Heat a little vegetable oil in 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Cook patties in 3 batches, turning once, until browned and just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes per batch.

Drain patties briefly on paper towels as cooked, then transfer to shallow baking pan and keep warm, covered with foil, in oven while cooking remaining batches.

Makes about 18 (3-inch) patties.

Note: Sausage patties can be formed (but not cooked) 1 day ahead and chilled, covered with plastic wrap.

Greek Feta Couscous

1 Nov

I learned a surprising life lesson while creating a Fresh & Co. sandwich-inspired meal. Initially I was thrilled to take on the challenge just because it sounded fun, but after I created the dishes I realized that we become more creative when we have constraints. It is a bit counter intuitive. One would think that creativity requires freedom to do and try anything. However, if asked to solve a problem with unlimited resources and time, we would probably just pick the first thing that comes to mind–the same thing that everyone else would think of. Or it could go the other direction, and we would never settle on a solution because we are overwhelmed by all of the possibilities. But if we apply constraints, we are forced to explore options out of our norm.

And so I was able to try something new with each of the dishes that I created for this series. In a way, taking inspiration from Fresh & Co. sandwiches could be viewed as a limitation. Just as a glass half full and a glass half empty are the same thing. Personally, I prefer my glass half full with chocolate milk.

  Appetizer: Steak Crisps with Caper Aioli inspired by the Grilled Steak and Fontina Crisp Panini Melt

Entrée: Lemon Dill Roasted Chicken inspired by the Lemon Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Side: Greek Feta Couscous inspired by the Greek Feta & Tomato Baguette Sandwich

While in college, I often made a simple Israeli couscous dish with just onions and chicken broth. It was cheap, tasty and filling just like spaghetti. And just like spaghetti, couscous is a pasta made of semolina (wheat). Israeli couscous, also known as pearl couscous, is larger and toasted giving the hearty pasta a nutty flavor. Cook this like you would rice pilaf or risotto; start by toasting the pearls in a pan then add liquid that will be completely absorbed.

For our sandwich-inspired side dish, I needed something starchy and hearty enough to stand up to roasted chicken. Roasted chicken is succulent, but not exactly the most complex in terms of flavor…so the side could be bright and briny without butting heads with the entrée. As an added bonus, this Greek Feta Couscous can be served lukewarm. If you entertain with this menu, you can make your side before the guests arrive and mingle with them over appetizers while the chicken roasts in the oven.

I really like the combination of tomatoes and feta in the Fresh & Co. baguette. This is a classic pairing similar to spinach and feta. I suggest that you try the Roasted Tomato, Feta and Rocket Quiche from Life’s a Feast. Absolutely delicious! A great way to get your creative juices flowing is to see how many ways you can prepare tomatoes and feta. I am sure it would be fantastic on flatbread, in tacos, or as a stew. See how creative you can get by adding just a few constraints! As for me, I am determined to create a dish using only condiments in the near future. You might even see me rifling through the condiment counter at your local Fresh & Co. In the mean time, check out the Fresh & Co. blog this Thursday to see my video in the fourth post of this series!

Nice food——Pasta Puttanesca

26 Oct

Pasta Puttanesca roughly translates as “pasta in the style of a whore” – no doubt an enterprising whore who’s a little salty, a little spicy, and has plenty of bite to her. You may be wondering how this dish got its colorful name. Legend has it “ladies of the night” would lure customers into houses of ill repute with the enticing aroma of this sauce simmering away. Alternately, they would make this for themselves because it was a quick and easy meal that wouldn’t take much time away from their biznaz.

  Quick, easy, cheap, delicious…qualities any busy working girl/harlot could appreciate. Pasta Puttanesca makes a great spur-of-the-moment meal because it can be thrown together using ingredients in your pantry.

The dish is full of salt and brine – olives, capers, anchovies – flavors typical of Southern Italian cuisine. Canned Italian tuna soaked in olive oil plays well off of the anchovies and tomato sauce, and adds protein and body to the meal.

I’ve thrown in some fresh touches to this Puttanesca, but in a pinch you could omit the eggplant, onion, garlic, or fresh herbs, and the essence of the dish would remain intact.

I would normally garnish this with fresh oregano or parsley, but a sly groundhog had gotten to them before me. Maybe he too was planning a dinner of Pasta Puttanesca. Luckily, my mom’s garden had a lovely bunch of chive blossoms still intact. The faint oniony twang worked well with the other aromatics, and the tiny purple blossoms even accented the deep hue of the eggplant.

In no time, we had a steaming hearty bowl of pasta to dig into, full of vibrant, sassy flavors. Those ladies of the night were on to something when they came up with this. Who would’ve thought? Whore-y pasta: customer satisfaction, guaranteed.

Back to School (and Work) Lunches

24 Oct

I’ve been writing and testing dozens of new back-to-school recipes for the past couple of weeks, and ironically, neglecting my own lunch in the process.

That all changed this afternoon when I spied in my box of cookbooks (we’re still unpacking boxes at the new house) 400 Best Sandwich Recipes by the amazing Alison Lewis of Ingredients, Inc. Alison and I met (virtually) while developing recipes for a mutual freelance client, and we’ve stayed in touch ever since.

  The minute I saw Alison’s book peeking over the top of the half-unpacked moving box, I knew it was time to get the heck out of my lunch rut and make myself something {wicked} good. I was craving vegetables (I’m sure because one had not touched my lips in days) and found the perfect inspiration in her Roasted Vegetable Wrap.

I didn’t have all of the exact ingredients on hand, but was able to substitute with the organic vegetables hanging out in the crisper. That’s the beauty of a sandwich (and probably why we love them) — sandwiches are so easy going. I also used flat bread instead of a tortilla wrap. The poor thing got left in the oven one minute too long and crisped right up. Despite, it was still just as delicious and exactly what I needed.

You can read Alison’s original Roasted Vegetable Wrap recipe on her web site. And if you need to wing it one day, I’m proof that works, too.

I’ll never know how she managed to write and test 400+ sandwich recipes for her book, but I’m sure glad she did. Now no one has an excuse for a boring or uninspired back-to-school or back-to-work lunch.

The New Year and the New Habits

22 Oct

It seems the New Year has brought with it a desire to change some habits. Both lifestyle and food-style!

Recent Accomplishments:

1.No Caffeine after Noon – In fact, I now CANNOT have caffeine after lunch – because I’m up til 1am or later in the evenings. I slip sometimes, but always regret it. I resolve to be more cognizant of what I’m putting in my body and how it will affect me later!

2.DO something every day – even it it’s just a walk. I was walking every morning until I went to Vegas for PubCon and came back with a HORRIBLE head and chest cold. As soon as that went away my back was terribly out of place and I spent a few weeks on drugs and in the chiropractor’s office – then all of a sudden it was Christmas – how did that happen?

Recent Decisions:

1.Eat better – Today is Sunday and we’re back to school and work next week. I’m going to do week-in-a-day food prep so dinner on the table will be quick and easy for the rest of the week. I’m also going to do some things to help throw lunches and breakfast together faster. Bagging frozen fruit individually so I can make a smoothie on the fly and hard-boiling some eggs.

2.Exercise MORE – Todd wants to do P90x – I’m terrified – so I might start with Wii Fit and a walk 5-days a week.

3.Shop less & Spend Less – along with a body/mind overhaul – I’m resolving to spend less each week on things I don’t really need.

No more lunch out, less eating out (which the planned & cooked for menu will definitely help,)

no new clothes unless I’m buying them because the ones I have DON’T FIT!

African Curried Coconut Chickpea Soup

21 Oct

I’m not sure this could be called authentic African food, but it’s pretty damn delicious.

I had a chicken carcass, and so made stock – it was meaty, as there was plenty left clinging to the bones. This was the perfect use for it – and it cook about ten minutes to prepare. Next time I’ll add a handful of torn spinach, I think.

It winds up like a soupy curry, ladled over a scoop of rice in a shallow bowl. It’s even better the next day, and freezes well. This will likely make it into my regular rotation – sometimes with a chopped apple, maybe, to make it more like mulligatawny. It would do well with any number of veggies, I think.

African Curried Coconut Chickpea Soup

adapted (but not by much) from epicurious

canola oil, for cooking

1 onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped

2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2-1 tsp. curry paste or powder

2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1 19 oz (540 mL) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 cup chopped tomatoes, seeded and peeled, fresh or canned

1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

1 14 oz (398 mL) can light coconut milk

1 cup cooked white or brown rice

In a medium pot, heat a drizzle of oil over medium high heat and saute the onion, pepper and jalapeño; cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and curry paste and cook for another minute. Add the stock, chickpeas, tomatoes, salt and pepper; bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.

Stir in the coconut milk, stir until heated through and serve hot, ladled over a scoop of rice in a shallow bowl. Serves 4-6.