17 November 2017

The obligatory Thanksgiving post

...actually, I haven't done one of these in a couple of years!  It's not that I get sick of talking about Thanksgiving or food--the two are one in my opinion, and it is among my favorite subjects.  But I tend to like the same things every year, and I don't know if it's that interesting to read about my variations on cranberries and sage.  Thanksgiving is my Pumpkin Spice; I know it's derivative and terribly predictable, but I get sappy every fall when I think about cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts...if you want to snag some of my old faves, links to previous blog posts are below.

I'm also thinking about the other aspects of Thanksgiving I have come to love: alternatives to Black Friday and giving thanks. So, if you don't have any thoughts about those two categories just yet, might I?:

I love being thankful for the things I had nothing to do with: a supportive, loving family; my physical and mental health; great neighbors who put up with our stinky compost pile and help us fix the annually busted sprinklers in the yard,...I am not lucky in all aspects of my life, but I can think about those things some other day (though I try not to).

Favorite things to do on Black Friday:

  • Go on a hike / bike ride / long walk around the neighborhood to admire the fresh Christmas decorations
  • Do kooky things with leftovers (creatively combined ingredients in a soup, curried anything, kitchen sink quiche...)
  • Mull some cider (OK, I dump spiced rum in it too) and read a book under a blanket
  • Rake the yard
  • Stumble in to the neighborhood brewery in the afternoon
  • Make a list of donations for the year

Favorite household recipes:

Thanksgiving-worthy chicken or pork, as well as a mushroom-potato pie and Indian-inspired spaghetti squash: "Turkey shmurkey"

The other stuff--wild rice and vegetable gratin, curried squash galette, and cranberry ginger bread: "Holiday Flavors Remix"

More sides: carrots, green beans, and Brussels sprouts: "Showstopping sides!"

A coconut-pumpkin pie

Cranberry-Cornmeal Shortbread

Spiced apple cake with warm rum sauce

Holiday-inspired cocktails: "Forget the food, let's drink!"

10 November 2017

Fake a fancy ramen for lunch

I got really excited about all the over priced, hipster noodle shops that opened up in Denver and NoCo a few years ago, and I was always disappointed. Even in L.A.'s Little Tokyo, the homemade ramen is hardly any different from a decent package at the store (whatever, I'm cool with Maruchan too). Now I just make it at home and eat it in my pajamas without having a 20-something get in my face and loudly explain the "concept" of their restaurant. Here we go...

Fancy-assed Ramen at Home

Serves 2 in giant bowls

1 teaspoon peanut oil
5-6 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 packages instant ramen (get a shrimp or chili flavor)
2 cups broccoli florets
1 teaspoon white vinegar
4 oz. (leftover) cooked meat of your choice (I like pulled pork or seared steak, but shrimp's nice too)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 scant tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon chili sauce like Sambal olek (optional)
handful fresh cilantro, chopped

In a large saucepan, heat the peanut oil on "high" and quickly stir-fry the scallions until you have some blackened bits on them.  Remove them from the pot and set on a plate or something. 

Add 5 cups of water to the pot and bring to a boil.  Cook the ramen with the seasoning packet until almost done (stir in some cayenne if you want), then add the broccoli for the last two minutes of cooking. When broccoli is crisp-tender, remove from heat and stir in the vinegar. 

Meanwhile, combine the sot sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, and chili sauce in a small bowl. Add the cooked meat and stir to saturate.  Divide the meat / sauce mixture evenly between two large soup bowls.  Ladle the ramen soup into each bowl over the meat, then garnish with cilantro and the seared scallions. Eat immediately with loud slurping noises. 

03 November 2017

This steak is not very Italian-o

When I was growing up, one of my favorite meals from my mom's treasure trove of recipes was a dish called "Round Steak Italiano".  It was round steak cooked in a gravy of tomato sauce and a packet of instant onion soup mix, and by Midwestern standards, it was Euro-delish. Mom would serve it over those "no yolk" curly noodles in the cellophane package.  By adding some spinach and using slightly less instant-y ingredients, this can become one of your staples, too. (PS, replace the beef with mixed mushrooms and the beef broth with a non-beef substitute, and you've got a tasty vegetarian option.)

Round Steak Italiano Reboot

Serves 4

1 pound pappardelle pasta, cooked al dente
olive oil
10 oz. flank steak, London Broil, or other lean cut
salt and black pepper
2 large shallots, minced
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 10 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 cup beef broth
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning (or dried oregano and a pinch dried basil)
1 tablespoon corn starch + 2 tablespoons cold water
2 packed cups torn spinach leaves

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, season the steak on both sides with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil over high heat.  Sear the flank steak on both sides and remove from the pan when the steak is edible but rare.  Allow to sit on a cutting board. 

Lower the heat to medium and add the shallots and garlic.  Saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat momentarily and add the red wine; it will smoke up a bit.  Scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the pan, then return to heat.  Add the tomatoes, beef broth, bay leaf, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste. Lower to a simmer and cover.

Once the steak has cooled a bit, cut it into thin strips.  Scrape the steak and all juices into the pan, toss in the spinach, give it a stir, and replace cover, allowing to simmer for about 5 minutes or until the spinach is wilted. Bring to a boil and stir in the cornstarch mixture, whisking to thicken. Remove from heat and serve over the noodles.

27 October 2017

Spooky Cocktails

Hey, what are you guys doing for Halloween?  I 'm going to dress up as pregnant Kylie Jenner (the one who wears sweatpants and eats candy) and lay around on my couch drinking.

Black Magic Margaritas

Makes 2

1/3 c. black sanding sugar
2 c. ice
4 oz. silver tequilla
2 oz. triple sec
1/2 c. lime juice
red food coloring
blue food coloring
green food coloring
lime slices, for garnish

Rim two glasses with a lime slice and dip in the black sanding sugar. Divide tequila, triple sec, and lime juice between two glasses and stir to combine. Add food coloring until desired black color is achieved. Add ice and garnish with a slice of lime. Serve.

Embalming Fluid

Makes 2

1½ oz. mandarin vodka
½ oz. sour apple mix
½ oz. lime juice
4 oz. gingerale
2 drops green food coloring, optional

Mix all ingredients except ginger ale in a shaker over ice. Shake and pour into highball glasses, then top with equal amounts of ginger ale.

El Diablo

Makes 1

1 1/2 ounces reposado tequila
1/2 ounce​ creme de cassis
1/2 ounce​ lime juice
6​ ounces ginger beer

Pour the tequila, cassis, and lime juice into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well. Strain into a collins glass filled with fresh ice. Top with ginger beer.