17 April 2015

Simple toppings to make your tacos pop

I don't want to post this on Cinco de Mayo, as the whitest person on the planet, and be a total douchebag.  And I eat tacos (well, things piled on top of small tortillas) like, A LOT, so why wait, anyway?

Fillings: any combination of seasoned ground meat or sausage, scrambled eggs, bacon, seasoned beans or lentils, or grilled vegetables or fish work perfectly well as taco filling.  Then comes the fun stuff, which can make every taco taste different:

Pickles: quick lime-pickled radishes or onions (see master recipe below), a jar of pickled jalapenos or other peppers, or this corn relish will fit the bill.

Cheeses: Of course, crumbled queso is all milky and mild and perfect with anything, but did you know manchego is actually great with chorizo? Pepper jack is nice with pulled pork, and feta often adds a great bite of salt, especially if you're going heavy on the sour-sweet relishes (above).

Herbs: you've got to have some fresh chopped herbs on top of all that.  Try cilantro, parsley, arugula (finely chopped so it's not so clumsy to eat) or dill, and don't go with the most obvious choice for your filling.

Don't forget the lime wedges, hot sauce (I love Tapatio), and chopped red onion, of course.  What are we, wild animals?!

Quick lime-pickled vegetables

Freshly squeezed lime juice
1 Red onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced or bunch thinly sliced radishes, or anything else your heart deisres

1. Whisk together lime juice, some water, sugar and salt until the sugar and salt dissolve. Use approximately 1/2 cup of lime juice, 1/2 cup of water (or up to 1/2 cup more to help submerge onions), 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt for every onion. This amount will also work well for a full bunch of radishes from the grocery store.

2. Add red onion to a bowl and cover with lime juice mixture. Allow to sit at room temperature for about an hour. Stir occasionally.

Keeps in the fridge up to two months. 

14 April 2015

Mediterranean Green Bean and Farro Salad with Lemon-Garlic Shrimp

I decided to make these two recipes together the other day, and it was a greatmeal.  But you can keep both of these in your back pocket to mix and match (or not) with other things; the shrimp is my standard recipe for adding to pasta with sauteed vegetables, adding to Hoppin' John, or just eating with crusty bread.  And this green bean and farro salad is great by itself, as a side with any other kind of protein, and a perfect salad to bring to work.  

Fast Lemon-Garlic Shrimp

Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon sugar
½  teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons butter
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
Juice and zest from one small lemon, divided
Handful of fresh parsley, chopped

Make the flavored butter: in a small dish, combine the butter, garlic, red pepper, lemon zest, and fresh parley.  Set aside.

Place the raw shrimp in a small bowl and sprinkle with the sugar and one teaspoon of salt; stir to coat and let sit while you begin the cooking process.  Heat the oil in a frying pan on medium-high heat.  When it smokes, add the shrimp, carefully making sure each is laying on its side, making full contact with the pan.  Allow to cook without disturbing for 1 minute, then quickly turn each shrimp onto its other side and repeat the process.  The result should be a nice bit of browning on each side of the shrimp without making the inside flesh too rubbery.

Lower the heat and add the lemon juice, scraping the brown bits of the bottom of the pan and stirring them into the juice. Add the flavored butter and stir until melted.  Serve immediately with more lemon wedges on the side.

Mediterranean Green Bean and Farro Salad 

Serves 6

1 cup farro
2 cups water
Zest from ½ lemon
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
¼ cup kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
2 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ cup dry red wine
Salt and black pepper to taste

Combine the farro and water, along with plenty of salt, in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then lower to simmer and cover.  Cook until tender, about 30 minutes.  Drain, stir in the lemon zest, and set aside.

In another pot or frying pan, heat the oil. Add the garlic and fry it until is becomes fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the green beans, olives, tomatoes, oregano, and about a teaspoon of salt.  Cover and simmer until beans are crisp-tender, about 20 minutes.  Stir in the red wine and season with more salt and black pepper. Turn off the heat and allow the wine to absorb into the sauce, about 30 minutes.

In a large serving dish, combine the farro and tomato sauce.  Can be eaten warm, at room temperature, or cold.

10 April 2015

A poignant essay against the selfie stick

Is the Selfie Stick already over? Perhaps when Walmart is selling them, the trend is dying.  Then again, maybe the next wave of annoying tourist is merely upon us.

This beautifully worded essay from New York Times, although slightly dated, is about more than just the ridiculousness of the selfie stick.  It's about how we capture memories, and why we embark upon the adventures that create them in the first place.  Are weirdly angled snaps of us photobombing national monuments the best way to remember what it felt like to be there, or just good fodder for showing off in our created Facebook lives?  Does a blog (like this one) do a better job of capturing the temporary community you make with the people around you, the sights, the smells, the zeitgeist of a place, or are you just "living" out loud for an audience?


07 April 2015

A soupy version of korma

I love korma sauce--that mild, comforting Indian staple that's filled with pureed cashews and heavy cream, which is super fatty and kind of expensive to make. This soup uses pureed cauliflower to add the creaminess (though it also keeps the cashews), and works as a canvas for any vegetables and meat you care to throw in. (This version, however, is vegan.) And it also freezes perfectly--just whisk it back together it after defrosting.

Korma Soup

Serves 6-8

1 head cauliflower, bottom leaves removed
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, halved
1 medium apple (any kind), cored, peeled, and chopped
½ cup cashews
1 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon curry powder
¼ teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cardamom
¼ teaspoons cayenne
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup plain unsweetened almond milk
1-2 cups frozen or fresh peas

Optional garnishes for serving:

  • Chopped cashews
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Lemon wedges
  • Hot sauce
  • Pickled vegetables
  • Cooked basmati rice

Chop the cauliflower, including the stem, into large pieces.  In a large pot, combine all of the ingredients except the almond milk and peas.  Add enough water to almost cover vegetables and bring to a boil.  Cover and lower to simmer; cook until cauliflower is very tender, about 30 minutes.

Puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Pour back into the pot and add the almond milk.  Rewarm over moderate heat, seasoning with more salt if necessary, and adding water if it’s too thick.  Stir in the peas and cook until warm but firm.  Serve with garnishes.