Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Assembly Instructions – Fajitas

November 10, 2014

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If I said something was quick and easy before… this is far beyond even those descriptors. Overview: buy some stuff at Trader Joe’s, do a little slicing, a little searing, and then assemble a really tasty meal. Pack away the leftovers and you’ll have a really tasty lunch. Your time commitment is minimal.

Beef Fajitas for Four:

Trader Joe’s Carne Asada package, which is already sliced, just needs to be cut into manageable pieces

3-4 bell peppers, mixed colors, cut into strips

1 large yellow onion, sliced thick or thin

sour cream

chopped jalapeno (optional)

tortillas – the mixed corn/wheat ones are my favorite so far

Preheat a cast iron pan on the stove. Meanwhile, slice up your peppers and onions. Add a little bit of oil to the pan, then the onion and bell pepper (and jalapeño). Cook until soft and a little charred, then set aside to keep warm. In the same pan, add your carne asada pieces. Don’t crowd the pan – you may have to do two batches. I cook the meat until browned on the outside, red on the inside, so you may want to cook it a little longer. While the meat cooks, I like to warm up my tortillas in a separate frying pan on low heat. Once the meat is cooked to your liking, pile a little bit of everything with some sour cream into a tortilla and enjoy!

For my lunch the next day, I packed Greek yogurt in lieu of sour cream and popped tortilla halves into the toaster to warm them up. It was the kind of lunch that had me planning fajitas once a week for a while. By the way, the Trader Joe’s is within walking distance of my house, which is why every ingredient in this quickie meal can be purchased there.

Lolita Wild Ale

November 7, 2014

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This is a beer/wild ale (?) that I tried at a lovely San Francisco bar called the Sycamore. Goose Island appears to make some unusual brews! This one tasted fresh and tart, like the raspberries they age it with. I would recommend it for the upcoming weekend to take the edge off that rich fall food I seem to be craving about now. ;)

Veggie Salad + Ricotta Salata

October 29, 2014

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This lunch includes some leftover chicken from takeout, sliced apple, and quick-pickled dill-radish salad atop carrot slices and arugula with chopped hazelnuts and batons of ricotta salata to eat as is or to crumble on the salad.

Today I’m giving an example of how I pack my Laptop Lunch box.

Salad for lunch again is boring! Usually. This time, though, salty ricotta salata and crunchy hazelnuts save the day. Thanks to my CSA delivery, I frequently have a lot of fresh vegetables to use in my lunch box. The challenge for me is to get away from the usual carrot sticks/radish slices and pack an exciting lunch. I’m not the kind of person who will pass up restaurant lunch for carrot sticks!

I almost always pack my lunch the night before. This time, the radishes were sliced, then packed by themselves in an apple cider vinegar, diced shallot, and olive oil dressing with sprigs of dill. They marinated in one of my spill-proof medium containers. In the medium open-top container, I put arugula, carrot slices, and ricotta salata so that nothing would get too soggy. For the same reason, the toasted hazelnuts went into the smallest container and that went into the section with the sliced apple. Everything fit neatly inside without leaking or making anything soggy.

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When lunch time came, I shook up the radishes in dressing with the arugula, sprinkled the nuts on top, and had a tasty meal. I later crumbled some of that cheese up – I definitely recommend ricotta salata for your salads or snacking. The flavor is fresh, like farmers’ cheese, but it’s very salty and crumbly. I sometimes use it as a substitute for feta in recipes, but it’s less creamy than feta. What do you do to liven up your fresh veggies?

Quick mushroom cream sauce

October 23, 2014

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This is a fast weeknight dish I threw together (apparently in the dark). It’s based on another Smitten Kitchen recipe, but where she puts the resulting buttery, mushroomy goodness on perfect little toasts, I put it on some farmers’ market ravioli.

I can never quite find white bread perfect enough for tiny mushroom-topped toasts, do you have that problem? The slices would have to be crunchy AND soft, rich but not overpowering, and at least half an inch tall. I prefer whole wheat toast with my sardines. Maybe I’ll talk about sardines soon, too. ;)

    Mushroom Cream Sauce

1 pound brown (Cremini) mushrooms or whatever mix you like
2 tablespoons butter
1 tender white portion of leek, 2 small shallots or 1/2 an onion (leeks are my favorite), sliced thin
1/2 cup white wine or sherry
2 glugs cream or half and half
salt to taste
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped chives, according to taste
chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, to taste

Clean and dice your mushrooms. Melt butter on medium-high heat – when foamy, add the mushrooms, salting liberally. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms release some of their moisture. If using onion, add it to the pan sooner. If using shallot or leek, reduce heat to medium and cook until barely translucent.

Next, pour in the wine and let simmer, covered, for around 3 minutes. At this point, evaluate your sauce. Is it nicely reduced or too liquidy? If it needs to reduce more, remove the lid until you like the looks of it. Reduce heat to low to avoid curdling, then add your glugs of cream, stirring well to get the caramelized bits at the bottom of the pan. Once your desired thickness is achieved, take the mixture off the heat and add the chives and parsley.

Toss with pasta and serve!

The spiciest thing I’ve ever eaten

October 17, 2014

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This, my friends, is the spiciest dish I have ever eaten. It’s a Thai green mango salad, and it was delicious. The waiter asked if I wanted it spicy and I said yes, but wow! I guess I shouldn’t have insisted so thoroughly that I could handle it.

I ate it with a tissue in one hand to catch my tears haha, but I still count it as a great experience.

Carrot Mash

October 15, 2014

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This is another quick tip more than a real recipe. I was in the mood for mashed sweet potato the other day, but only had carrots in the pantry. I also wanted to sneak a little more protein into my lunch.
Step one:
Cook your carrots. I used 6 medium carrots and boiled them on the suggestion of Martha Stewart.
Step two:
Add the cooked carrots to the food processor or blender with 1/2 cup of cottage cheese ~ 14 grams of protein. Pulse until smooth.
Step three:
Add seasoning. This could be roasted garlic, butter and salt, or even sugar and cinnamon if you like that sort of thing with your sweet potatoes (not for me – I like to keep that stuff savory.)
Optional fourth step:
Depending on the whey content of your cottage cheese and the water content of your carrots, you might prefer to firm the mashed carrots by baking them in a casserole dish at 350 degrees until toasty on top.

I packed these up with a bed of spinach which wilted nicely when I heated my lunch. It wasn’t really like sweet potato, but it was a tasty lunch dish on the lighter side. Next time I’ll experiment by adding ginger!

Browned butter panko… Goes on everything

October 8, 2014

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This is sort of a recipe, sort of a tip for packing lunch. Last year, I fell in love with crunchy Bosc pears on bitter salads. This lunch box has a baby kale, pickled radish, and sliced pear salad, quinoa pilaf, and kiwi slices. When I made my pear + greens salad over and over again, I found it came out best when I added a salty/crunchy element. This time I had some leftover browned butter panko – so good. You can press these browned butter bread crumbs onto cauliflower, broccoli, meat… or make a little fried goat cheese for a salad. Here’s how you do it:

Cut 4 tablespoons of butter into slices. Add to a pan over medium high heat and allow to melt, but stand by with a spatula or scraper. When the butter starts to foam up, stir it. The little bits of proteins and sugars in the butter sink to the bottom and stirring will help you brown them evenly. When the butter has reached a level of browned-ness you like, add a cup of panko or breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (or herb of preference) and salt to taste, stirring constantly.

Allow the panko/bread crumbs to soak up the butter, then watch and stir as they start to brown. When they are golden and toasty, take them off the heat quickly and throw them on top of whatever is nearby!

To make fried goat cheese, slice your chevre about 1/4 inch thick. I then placed the slices in the freezer to firm them up, but I still got a messy result (hence no photo). Dredge them in flour, then beaten egg, then press it into your finished browned butter crumbs. Because the crumbs are already browned, just barely fry the goat cheese in a little oil. I almost regretted making the first one because they were frequently requested after that…

National Coffee Day – with Philz and Zoya Casey

September 30, 2014

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I love a good coffee… Might as well put this here since it’s National Coffee Day!

Philz makes a strong cup of pourover coffee, then shakes up really rich cream, creating a foamy effect without steaming the milk. It’s delicious.

The photo doesn’t show the color, but I’m wearing Zoya Casey, my absolute favorite “vampy” color. It’s way overdue for a re-shoot, so I’ll put that on my to do list.

Shishito pepper snack

September 30, 2014

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These little shishito peppers came in my CSA box from Farm Fresh to You (the code MARI2172 will get you $10 off and get me a $25 credit, but I expect everybody who wants to do this has already signed up). I tried them a bunch of different ways, and they were all good, but this quick “dry” fry was the best!

Add a good tablespoon or two of oil to a hot pan (canola, grapeseed, olive – just be careful of the smoke point), add the peppers and a substantial sprinkling of salt, and cook until blistered, stirring frequently. Voila! A snack that tastes excellent with beer. Grab them by the stem, bite off the pepper part, and stack your stems next to your beer coaster as proof of your mighty conquest.

I think I paired them with a Stone IPA. Let me know if any other combinations are outstanding. :)

Brunch this weekend?

September 26, 2014

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The best brunch meal that could ever be – crab cakes Benedict. This one is from Cafe Flore in San Francisco and features perfectly poached eggs sitting atop petite crab cakes and smothered with hollandaise that’s rich but not greasy. I’ll never look at another Benedict again, baby, my eyes are for only you. A quite honorable mention goes to their brioche french toast, though – if you can eat hazelnuts, the flavor profile is outstanding.
<3 weekend <3