Food


Honestly, I don’t know how it keeps happening.
But I’ve done it again.
Another cookbook.
The Best Recipes in the World: More Than 1,000 International Dishes to Cook at Home” by Mark Bittman


The problem is this amazing store: Omnivore Books.

It’s a food lovers paradise. Cookbooks and all books food related.

So despite my promise that no more cookbooks would come through the door, this one snuck in. I can’t wait to try it.

In the meantime, In celebration of the wonderful weather and springs arrival, I made a killer shredded bbq pork last night in the crockpot. It was DELISH. While I’m normally not a huge pork fan, I make an exception for pulled pork sandwiches.  I was feeling to lazy to make my own sauce, so I used Bull’s Eye Hickory Smoke. Despite the store bought sauce it turned out really well, though it can’t compete with the best bbq joint in the midwest- Pappy’s.

As a side note, apologies for the lack of posts recently. A weeks vacation followed by a weeks worth of catching up at work leaves very little time for blogging!

Advertisements

I’m LOVING my new recipe a week arrangement.  While it’s general hit or miss, the hits have been pretty great.

One of the best so far is Salt-Roasted Chicken.  I found this recipe in the Gourmet Today cookbook (more about that here).  It’s quick and easy, though you need to plan in advance as it needs to salt overnight.  Give it a shot:

Salt Roasted Chicken

1 (3 1/2 pound) chicken

2 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt

1/4 teaspoon gound black pepper

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

3 lemon slices

Sprinkle the chicken with seas salt and pepper, place in a shallow dish, cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate for 12 hours.

Preheat the oven to 500 F.  Rub the skin with butter and place lemon slices inside, place meat thermometer in the thigh, avoiding touching the bone.  Reduce oven temp to 425.  Roast the chicken, basting occasionally. Roast for around 50 mins, until thermometer reads 170.  Allow chicken to stand 10-15 mins before carving.

This chicken was GOOD! It was very moist (god I hate that word) and the skin was fantastic. It browned well and looked lovely, all with minimal effort.  The leftovers were great as well.  I’ll certainly make this again.

In addition to my fantastic dinners of late, I’ve managed to read a few fantastic books.  My favorite being “Tales of A Female Nomad: Living At Large In The World, ” By Rita Golden Gelman. It’s a memoir of a women who leaves a failed marriage and a comfortable life in L.A. to become a citizen of the world. Living in various villages and towns all over the globe.  Her experiences and the people she meets are so interesting that I was really sad that the book ended.  Luckily it looks like she has another coming out this spring! I’ll certainly be pre-ordering it.   The downside? It made me want to pick up and travel.  Just pack a bag and Go ANYWHERE.  I do wonder if and how 9-11 and everything that has followed has effected her ability to travel or the places she goes.  If you have the chance I would certainly recommend picking up the book. And if you don’t hear from me for a couple of weeks, I may have packed up and flown away to join a village in Belize.

My California Drivers License arrived in the mail over the weekend, officially ending my spree of decent looking drivers license photos.  For the next 4 years people will think I’m a linebacker.

Getting said license was a pretty big adventure. Nothing is quite as surreal as taking a written test with a bunch of 16 year-olds and actually having a moment of thinking that you just might not pass. Because really, who the hell knows the weight limit for a child in a car seat, or the proper etiquette for crosswalks for blind people? My theory is, you do your best not to run anyone over and stop at red lights. Problems solved.  But I passed.  I kept my fingers crossed the entire time the lady was grading it.

I’m now a registered California voter, and in addition I’ve signed up for Zip Car, meaning I have access to vehicles on those rare occasions I might need one.  Perhaps best of all….. NERD ALERT…I now have a library card.  That’s right, I can now check out unlimited numbers of books  C.D.’s and periodicals!

How does one celebrate such accomplishments? Why with cupcakes and a little light shopping of course! I finally bit the bullet and purchased the parchment paper. Behold, the answer to my cake sticking woes:

I'm not sure it gets more exciting than this!

I know that seems more fun than a barrel of monkeys, but I rounded it out with a electronic thermometer (gasp!) and a new dress from Nordstrom’s Rack (It’s dangerous DANGEROUS that this exists so close to my house).

The dress is more for the spring, so I had to immediately use my other new purchases (instant gratification and all that). So one of this weeks new recipes?

Peppermint Patties!

This is all you need to take one bite and feel like you are skiing in the Alps.

Blah blah blah, I know I’ve said I don’t like sweets, and it’s true, but peppermint patties are GOOD!

Creating the lucious filling went swimmingly:

Yum

I cut them into lovely patties:

So far so good!

And then everything went to hell. It could be because I made a recipe change from dark chocolate to milk chocolate, but they went downhill.  I’m attempting more tomorrow, without taking liberties.

Full disclosure: I ate some of the filling and it is delicious!!!!

My replacement Kindle arrived today! Seriously, I think Amazon is magic.  Just magic.  I was so excited to see it that I wrote a very complementary email to the company about the awesome customer service rep who helped me through the whole process.  It was possibly the least painful return process I’ve ever experienced and he could not have been more helpful or friendly.

So how to properly celebrate? By checking out the new cupcake place I discovered mere blocks from my place. Behold, desert:

It's like cake, only better

Sure, I’m not much of a sweets eater, but there is something about a good cupcake with an interesting flavor.

Behold:  The Dreamsicle cupcake

Dreamy. No really.

So its cupcakes and books around here this evening.

Currently Reading: “The Kite Runner” By Khaled Hosseini. Yes, I’m probably the last person in the world to read it. It has been on my list forever, and I’m finally getting around to it.  I’m almost finished and have enjoyed it immensely.

Next up: “Dear John” By Nicholas Sparks.  It will probably be slightly cheesey and a tear-jerker, exactly the way I want my Nicholas Sparks to be.

There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who love sweets and those who crave salts/fats. I fall squarely into the fats/salts category. I will always choose french fries over a cupcake.  It might be a toss up if it’s a keylime pie, but I’m 80% of the time I’m grabbing the fries.

This means I’m not much of a baker. Because let’s face it, as much as I ADORE cooking for others, at the end of the day I want to enjoy what I make. So baking to me is pretty much limited to dumping the cake mix into the bowl and turning on the beaters. At least it’s something.

But in the spirit of becoming a well rounded cook and trying new things, I decided to dive into the world of baking. First of all, what a racket! Have you seen the baking goods aisle at Bed Bath and Beyond? Now, I don’t want to make broad generalizations, but some bakers must be SUPER gullible. Who the hell needs one of these:

Cupcakes for giants!

That’s right. You can bake a cupcake 25 times larger than a normal cupcake! Amaze all of your friends!  Is it a cake, or a cupcake? Only you know for sure! (If you own one of these, just ignore the above. Good for you! Bake me one for my birthday!)

The baking equipment aisle is a frightening place to a non baker. We will just leave it at that.

Anyway, the recipe that I’m getting around to discussing (stay with me, we’ll get there) called for a springform pan.  And parchment paper. Frankly, I figured that was overkill. As noted a few paragraphs ago (before the giant cupcake. Stop staring at it and drooling!) I’m not a baker, so buying two new kitchen items that will most likely gather dust seemed a tad wasteful.  I called my mother and my baking friend Jessica (go visit her blog, she is entertaining). The results were mixed. I decided to go with the pan, bust skip the paper.  This wasn’t logical, it that the pan was more expensive, but whatever. I could possibly use it again.  Where as the parchment paper will probably only come in handy if the CIA comes around looking for me to forge a copy of the Constitution.

This may have proven to be my undoing.

The recipe was for a Lemon and Olive Oil Cake, which I found over at Epicurious.com.

Here it is:

Lemon Olive-Oil Cake
3/4 cup olive oil (extra-virgin if desired), plus additional for greasing pan
1 large lemon
1 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
5 large eggs, separated, reserving 1 white for another use
3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Special equipment: a 9-inch (24-cm) springform pan; parchment paper

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease springform pan with some oil, then line bottom with a round of parchment paper. Oil parchment.

Finely grate enough lemon zest to measure 1 1/2 teaspoons and whisk together with flour. Halve lemon, then squeeze and reserve 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice.

Beat together yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add olive oil (3/4 cup) and reserved lemon juice, beating until just combined (mixture may appear separated). Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture (do not beat) until just combined.

Beat egg whites (from 4 eggs) with 1/2 teaspoon salt in another large bowl with cleaned beaters at medium-high speed until foamy, then add 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time, beating, and continue to beat until egg whites just hold soft peaks, about 3 minutes.

Gently fold one third of whites into yolk mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.

Transfer batter to springform pan and gently rap against work surface once or twice to release any air bubbles. Sprinkle top evenly with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar. Bake until puffed and golden and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a thin knife around edge of pan and remove side of pan. Cool cake to room temperature, about 1 1/4 hours. Remove bottom of pan and peel off parchment, then transfer cake to a serving plate.

It tastes great! I wouldn’t recommend it if you aren’t a fan of olive oil, as Duhhh, it tastes like olive oil.  I used extra virgin olive oil, so the taste was very strong.  It also isn’t that sweet, although I’m sure if you wanted to sweeten it up you could add a sugar glaze as it isn’t iced.

While it tasted great, it looked like shit:

Woopsies!

No, it wasn’t mauled by a pack of hungry wolves, it stuck to the top of the pan. I guess I should have sprung for the parchment paper.  I wasn’t trying to win any beauty contests, so I just ignored it.

The verdict? I’ll make it again and invest in the parchment paper.

I’ve been doing swimmingly with my one new recipe a week rule, even being a bit of an overachiever (Okay, it’s only the third week of the year, so I’m not getting too confident yet). This week I was craving rich food and tastes. It might have been the damp and chilly weather, or the stressful work week, but I wanted something filling.

The first new recipe is one that I’ve been meaning to try for a few weeks. I have a habit of buying ingredients and cooking around them, as was the case with this.  When I was home over Christmas I discovered a shop, Vom Fass.  This place is a little slice of heaven. The oils! The Vinegars! The Liqueurs! The gorgeous bottles you can choose to put them in!  I could have spent days tasting the incredible things they have to offer. There were months worth of new recipes and exciting flavors that could come from this place.  As I was pressed for space in my suitcase I decided to be responsible and only picked a small bottle of truffle infused olive oil.

I wasn’t sure exactly what I would use it for, but truffle oil goes with everything so I knew I could find a million uses for it. Convieniently enough, the man working at the store attached a recipe card to my bottle.

Roasted Potatoes with Truffle Oil. Sold. I’m happy to report that it was as good as it was simple. The truffle oil added a fantastic depth to the potatoes.

8 Red Potatoes

1/4 Cup Olive Oil

1/4 Cup Grated Parmesean

2 Tbls. Truffle Oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Quarter the potatoes, toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast at 425 for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and toss with truffle oil.  Allow to cool and serve with Parmesean.

Potatoes Pre-Roasting

What else could one want on a crappy rainy day? MEAT!

I found a recipe that looked and tasted amazing over at epicurious.com, Beef Tenderloin with Garlic Horseradish Cream.

This was DELICIOUS- Although I should mention that I cut the Oregano and Beef bouillion.  The tenderloin had a lovely peppery crust.  It was perfectly juicy and flavorful.  I would make this a lot, if the meat weren’t so pricey (although I’m sure it didn’t help that I got it at whole foods).

Yep, I like it rare

Overall this weeks new recipes….Success. Both will make future appearances on my table.

I’m not really a coffee drinker, but unfortunately I can’t say that I’m not a slave to caffeine.  I do so love my soda. Sure, it’s blamed as a major cause of America’s problems with obesity, but man does it taste good.

Over the years I’ve toned down my bad habits. My 42 oz a day Mountain Dew habit (shockingly I didn’t have a cavity until I was 23)  has calmed down significantly to a 12 oz  Coke or Dr. Pepper  a day.  I’d like to keep all of my teeth into my old age, thank-you-very-much.

Part of the “evils” of soda, is of course, the high fructose corn syrup. So I was thrilled when Pepsi came out with their “throwback” Pepsi and Mountain Dew, sweetened with ACTUAL sugar, not the corn syrup! Joy! Soda with less guilt! I enjoyed it while it lasted and mourned a little bit when I could not longer get the sweet old fashioned Mountain Dew.

But yesterday my little heart went a flutter when what did I see in the aisles at Safeway?? THROWBACK DR. PEPPER (which they are calling retro Dr. Pepper, but whatever)!! I almost burst into song (which would have been miserable for everyone around, trust me).

A 12 pack immediately jumped into the cart and followed me home.

And here is where the cosmos align and I can gently pat myself on the back. I’m currently reading “The Omnivore’s Dilemma“. Each morning on the BART, and during my lunch break, and in the nice little lulls in my evening, I’m reading about how absurd and scary the origins of our food are. How the modern American (if we truly are what we eat) is a walking corn kernel doused in petroleum for good measure. Even despite the fact that I try and RARELY eat convenience food, and I like to believe that I make good/informed choices at the grocery store and farmers market, in the end I’m not as well informed as I should be. So I’m attempting to change that. But certain things are hard to give up. In-n-Out Burger, I’m looking at you.

I went home and cozied up on the couch with my kindle (man, that doesn’t have the same ring to it as cozying up with a book, does it?) and read how high fructose corn syrup is in pretty much everything we ingest.  I sipped my retro Dr. Pepper, pleased with the fact that at least until the limited run of this stuff is up, I can pretend that soda isn’t the devil.

And I should add, it tastes 20 times better than regular Dr. Pepper, as do all sodas made with actual sugar. For a more professional tastereview, check out what bevreview.com had to say. If you need me I’ll be scouring my food labels for amylopectin, cyclodextrin, dextri- maltose and sorbitol.

Next Page »