18 August 2017

Chillin' in Uptown (ish), Minneapolis

I had this nerdy flute thing to go to recently in Minneapolis.  It was at the convention center, but I was able to land a sweet cheap Air BnB room in Uptown for the week, and here's what else I spied while I was there...


Lake of the Isles Park is this insane chain of three lakes with little islands in the middle and bustling city all around.  It is a supremely pleasant place to walk/jog/bike, or simply sit and gawk at the city's skyline and the natives' adorable dogs.

If you need to bring some snacks or hooch to the park (I don't even know if that's allowed), hit up Kowalski's on the way. It's like a cheaper, local-centric Whole Foods with a great wine selection.

LynLake Brewery: I liked the Rubbish Oat Amber Ale and Sideburns Milk Stout because that's how I roll, but my friend's pint of Dirty Heffer with Pineapple was pretty good, too.



Muddy Waters, open daily from 8am to 2am keeps the kind of rock and roll hours I wish I could.  I had Cuban hash with chorizo, black beans, yucca, chiles, and eggs, with a great cup of coffee, but I would totally go back and try some of their many whiskeys when I don't have a presentation to give.

Quang is affordable, super fresh Vietnamese and seems to be kind of an institution in the 'hood. Get ready to have your heart broken on Tuesdays, though, because they are closed that day.

Spyhouse is a Minneapolis coffee chain, but I don't feel bad going there because Minneapolis is so super cool, anyway. Their baked goods are nice and I would describe their coffee is very "coffee flavored".

Art that is not exactly in Uptown, but it's walkable and you should go:

Minneapolis is a great city to visit if you love art.  Please visit all of these places when you go.


Walker Art Center: contemporary visual arts and design exhibitions; dance, theater, and music performances; and film screenings. Free admission first Saturday of every month and all Thursdays from 5-9pm. They're the ones with the big spoon with a cherry on it outside.

Minneapolis Institute of Art: This place is free.  Seriously.  They have some nice Chagall right now, too.

Minneapolis College of Art and Design:  Also free and student-run; it is very exciting to see what great art students are inventing right now!

Also...

The American Swedish Institute is a beautiful castle-like structure with an amazing amount of  history and art, and the even make good (albeit Swedish) food in the cafe.  There's another one for Danish people somewhere, but who cares.


11 August 2017

"Pairs well with..."

Alright, this is my last one before I get my shit together and start packing for the National Flute Association annual convention.  Stay tuned next week for all the non-flute highlights from my stay in Minneapolis. I do find that whiskey gets me in the right frame of mind for these things...



Pineapple Whiskey Sour

Makes one drink

4 oz. pineapple juice
2 oz. whiskey
1/2 oz. lemon juice

Put all ingredients and shake over ice until your hands are cold. Pour over some fresh ice.



Pairs well with...

Quick Zucchini Tacos

Makes 8 petite tacos

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped white onion
1 minced garlic clove
1 medium serrano chile, minced
8 corn tortillas
Possible toppings: sour cream, crumbled goat cheese, sliced radishes, sliced avocado, chopped tomato, chopped cilantro, lime wedges

In a small skillet, heat the oil over medium and add the onion, garlic, chile, and zucchini. Season with cumin, salt, and pepper and saute until onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Serve with warmed corn tortillas and all the toppings you desire.

04 August 2017

"Pairs well with..."

It looks like I've created a mini-series of alcoholic drinks paired with snacks.  I'd like to dedicate this one to long-suffering American hero, OJ Simpson. P.S. He totally killed his wife and America is OK with that.



Classic Tequila Sunrise

Makes one drink

2 oz. tequila
3 oz. orange juice
1/2 oz. grenadine

Pour the tequila and orange juice into glass over ice. Add the grenadine, which will sink to the bottom and look all sunrise-y. Do not stir. Garnish with a maraschino cherry and serve.




Pairs well with...

Heidi Swanson's Avocados and Mustard Seeds
Yields about 1 cup 
1 ripe avocado
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Scant 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1/4 cup coarsley chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds
1/2 small yellow onion, mined
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon Indian curry powder
1 small serrano chile, minced

Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, and scoop the flesh into a small bowl. Add the lemon juice, salt, and most of the cilantro. Mash the avocados a bit with a fork, but don't overdo it-- you want the mixture to be quite chunky. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the mustard seeds. Keep a lid on hand because the seeds will scatter as they pop. When the spattering stops, after about a minute, stir in the onion and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Stir in the garlic, curry powder, and chile. 

Count to ten, and then remove from heat. Stir in the avocado mixture, but just barely, and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve warm or at room temperature with crackers or tortilla chips. Garnish with remaining cilantro.

28 July 2017

Too much eating, not enough drinking

I noticed that this blog is called DrinkFoodTravel, but it's always about food lately.  Stay tuned for some travel next month, but for now, the least I could do is mix it up with some drankin'...

It is very hot here, and we just put shade sails (TM) over the patio, making it the perfect place to hunker down with a thermos full of cocktail to share with friends.  Or myself. I like to keep things simple so that I don't have to do too much work before I plop down in my lawn chair, so I'm limiting myself to three ingredients per cocktail for the next couple of weeks...

Old-Timey (at least I think it is) Gin Buck

Makes one drink

Juice of half a lemon
Ginger ale
1.5 oz. gin

Stir together in a glass and guzzle.



Pairs well with...



Dill Pickle Dip

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

12 oz cream cheese
5-6 tablespoons pickle juice
1/3 cup finely chopped dill pickle
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped

Mix cream cheese with pickle juice, chopped pickle and fresh dill. Serve with celery sticks.

21 July 2017

STUFF TO EAT WHEN IT'S TOO FRICKIN' HOT TO COOK, PART 3

Finally, there is really no cooking here.  You can pull out any leftovers from those other two salads, add these sammies and dip, take a quick look around the mess that your guests left in your house last weekend, and ditch it all for a picnic in the park. Maybe I'll see you there, avoiding eye contact over our beers.



Vegetarian Muffuletta

Serves 4
1 loaf of Italian bread (or something else firm and crusty)
8 oz. roasted red peppers, cut into strips
1 tablespoon capers, chopped
1 cup pitted Castelvetrano olives (or your favorite pitted green olive)
1 clove garlic, minced
3 pickled pepperoncini peppers, stems and seeds removed, finely chopped
1/2 cup olive oil, plus extra for roasting the carrots and cauliflower
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, plus an extra splash to season the cauliflower
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1 shallot, minced
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into thin rounds
1 small head cauliflower, chopped into small bite-sized pieces
Small handful of basil leaves
1/4 pound aged provolone, thinly sliced (leave this out for a vegan sandwich)
Handful of arugula

Add the capers, olives, garlic, pepperoncini peppers, and the 1/2 cup of olive oil to a food processor, and pulse until the ingredients are roughly chopped. Transfer the pulsed ingredients to a large mixing bowl, and add the red wine vinegar, dried oregano, celery seeds, chili flakes, and shallot. Fold all the ingredients together. Some excess oil is OK—it will soak into the bread and make the sandwich delicious. Taste the olive mixture. It should taste strongly acidic, salty, and spicy. Adjust the flavor with more salt or red wine vinegar as necessary. Set the mixture aside.

Slice the bread in half with a serrated knife. If the bread seems too tall, dig out some of the middle of the bread (you can save this to make croutons or thicken soup later). Spread the olive mixture onto both halves of the bread, allowing some of the extra oil to soak into the bread. Starting with the bottom piece of bread, lay down the carrots, followed by the cauliflower. Tear the basil leaves with your hands and place them on top of the cauliflower. Next, add the provolone, followed by the roasted red peppers. Place a handful of arugula onto the top piece of bread. If there is excess oil leftover from your olive mixture, drizzle some of this over the arugula. Close the sandwich and nom nom nom. 




Feta Pistachio Dip

Serves 6 to 8

1 cup shelled pistachios
1 clove garlic
1 bunch of dill
1 teaspoon dried mint or a few sprigs of fresh mint
4 ounces feta
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Get a selection of raw seasonal vegetables for dipping.

Buzz the garlic and pistachio together in a food processor into a rough crumble. Add the dill and mint and pulse until well chopped and amalgamated, add the feta cheese, and pulse. Add the yogurt and pepper and pulse. Drizzle the olive oil in and pulse one more time. Taste for salt; because of the feta, it shouldn’t need any. This dip will hold easily for a day or two in the fridge and should rest for at least 4 hours to let the flavors meld. I actually like it better at room temp for dipping, though. 

14 July 2017

STUFF TO EAT WHEN IT'S TOO FRICKIN' HOT TO COOK, PART 2

This is another salad, made super filling with barley (and yes, you're going to have to cook that), equally portable for picnics, potlucks, and work. I promise this is my last non-cooking recipe that involves cooking in this mini-series.  (Pro tip: you can cook the barley, as well as the lentils from last week's recipe, at any time and freeze for later use.) Also, you could totally serve this at your next otherwise lame backyard BBQ and everyone will love you for not being that person who brought "ambrosia" or uncooked ramen noodles in a bowl.



Grilled Corn and Barley Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette

Serves 4

1/2 cup dried pearl barley
3 ears of corn (shucked)
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 cup cooked cannellini beans
1 large tomato
1 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 large garlic clove
1/4 cup basil cut into ribbons
1 bunch of chives, thinly sliced
¼ cup olive oil

Boil barley according to package directions, using a large stock pot. Par boil corn for 5-6 minutes with the barley to impart some of the corn flavor directly into the barley.

Remove corn. Brush corn with olive oil and grill on all sides until charred gill marks appear.
Meanwhile, halve all of the tomatoes and prep beans (rinse and drain if using canned, prepare in advance if using dried).

Cut kernels off the corn.  As you cut, collect any of the “milk” that comes from the cutting process, then use the back of the knife to scrape the remaining “milk” from the cleaned cob. 

Next, cut the large tomato in half and grate with a box grater over a dish or wide bowl, discarding the skins, but collecting the juice and pulp. Paste the garlic clove by mincing the garlic, and then adding some salt and rubbing the mixture between your cutting board and the side of your chef’s knife. Add that paste into the tomato mixture. Add a pinch of salt, crushed red pepper to taste, vinegar, and corn milk.  Whisk in olive oil slowly. 

Combine barley, tomatoes, corn, beans and fresh herbs in a large bowl and dress with your tomato vinaigrette. Toss to combine.

07 July 2017

A picnic-ready lentil salad with cheese

It is officially too hot to cook again, but sometimes I get hungry for something other than box wine.  Perhaps you struggle with this, too. Behold, the summer 2017 version of STUFF TO EAT WHEN IT'S TOO FRICKIN' HOT TO COOK, PART 1 (sorry if that seemed like I was shouting):



Lentil Salad with Herbs, Peppers, and Cheese
(adapted from Deborah Madison's Lentil Salad with Mint, Roasted Peppers, and Feta Cheese)

Serves 4 to 6

1 ½ cups small French lentils (Puy or beluga)
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced into 1/8-inch squares
½ small onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
½ teaspoon salt
1 (8 oz.) jar roasted red bell peppers , cut into ½ inch pieces
2 teaspoons chopped mint
3 tablespoons chopped mixed herbs: parsley, marjoram, cilantro, thyme, basil
Black pepper
Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar to taste
8 ounces feta cheese
Olive oil, for garnish

Rinse the lentils, cover them generously with water, and bring them to a boil with the carrot, onion, bay leaf, garlic, and salt. Simmer them until they are cooked, about 20 to 25 minutes. They should be tender, just a little firm, and still hold their shape. Drain the lentils and set aside.

Prepare the vinaigrette (see below) and fold it into the warm lentils. Add the mint, herbs, and peppers. Taste, and season with freshly ground black pepper and additional salt, if needed. Taste again just before serving and add a little more vinegar to brighten the flavors. Crumble the feta and gently stir it into the lentils.

Garnish with a drizzle some olive oil over the surface.



Lemon Vinaigrette
1 large lemon
¼ teaspoon paprika
Pinch cayenne pepper
1clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons olive oil


Remove two wide strips of peel from the lemon with a vegetable peeler, and slice them into narrow slivers (alternately, grate finely with a microplane). Put 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice in a bowl with the lemon peel, paprika, cayenne, garlic, and salt. Whisk in 6 tablespoons of the olive oil and taste. Adjust for tartness, adding more lemon juice or oil, whichever is needed.

Alright, so there's actually a little cooking involved, but you can make a big pot of lentils with it's cool in the house and refrigerate this salad for days, carry it with you to work and play, and add variety with accompanying breads, leftover pastas, etc. So, I think it's a worthy investment. 




30 June 2017

The best coffee-lime-rum martini you will ever drink

This cocktail comes--with slight modifications--from the wonderful family-run Backwards Distillery in Casper, Wyoming. I have tried their gin and rum, and they are both amazing--the gin is the most interesting I think I have ever tried. I am not a paid advertiser, just a huge fan. So, without further ado...





Buzzed Martini (originally called "The Perky Daiquiri" from Backwards Distilling)

Makes 1 drink

1.5 oz rum (their's is called Sword Swallower  and it's delish)
2 oz cold coffee
1/2 oz lime juice
1/2 oz coconut milk
1/2 oz simple syrup

Shake all that shit up with some ice and pour into a glass. Try not to drink it too fast...

23 June 2017

Make mushrooms great again!

Last year, I remember eating a lovely little salad of thinly sliced mushrooms with a bright, zippy dressing drizzled over the top at a friend's house. It sounds too pompous to say this was a revelation, but it was--those ubiquitous grocery store white button mushrooms, in all of their blue-collar, mushroomy glory, displayed like a work of art and balanced with plenty of acid to keep them from tasting like dirt (cuz they kinda do).  I buy those 4 oz. packs wrapped in plastic all the time at my local Safeway, but I always cook the living daylights out of them and hide them in a mass of other vegetables. It never occurred to me to make them special.  And now that it's getting too hot in the kitchen to cook again, I thought I would try to recreate that late-summer snack I enjoyed with home brew last year, while talking about the meaning of life and how much better it would be if we ran the world. For the record, a glass of pinot grigio and a ban on all political talk are my current accompaniments. 


Mushroom Carpaccio

Serves 4 as a side or snack

½ pound mixed sliceable mushrooms (white, cremini baby bella…)
cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
Grated lemon rind from half of a lemon
1 garlic clove, minced
Juice from one whole lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 tablespoon small capers


Wash mushrooms and trim any ragged bottom ends, leaving stems otherwise intact. Cut mushrooms vertically into very thin slices; arrange on a platter in a single layer. Combine parsley, rind, and garlic in a bowl. Combine juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Gradually add oil to juice mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Drizzle juice mixture evenly over mushrooms; sprinkle with parsley mixture, cheese, and capers. Grind more pepper over the top if desired. Serve with crusty bread to sop up the dressing.

16 June 2017

Boozy Cherries for your Old Fashioned and Manhattans


These are terrifically easy and delicious, and besides topping drinks, they make a great snack before board meetings...just kidding! Use any cheap brown liquor you have laying around...dark rum, bourbon, brandy...and get to work!  (I would avoid particularly smoky whiskeys or scotches as the flavor will be weird, but you probably want to keep that stuff for sipping anyway.)



Boozy Cherries

1 1/5 cups dark rum, bourbon, etc.
1/3 cup white sugar (maybe a little less if you're using a sweet liquor like brandy)
2 cups pitted dark cherries

Bring the rum and sugar to boil in a small saucepan, whisking to completely dissolve the sugar.  Turn off heat and leave it for about 15 minutes while you pit this cherries.  I don't have a fool proof method for this, but I tend to favor a chopstick.  The guy in this tutorial is also adorbs. Stuff your cherries into a jar, pour the liquid over the top  to cover, and twist the lid on tight. Will keep in the fridge for about a month, if they last that long. If you have any leftover rum syrup, use it to make last week's banana daiquiris!

Now, what are you going to do with them?  May I suggest two classics?

(I'll Take) Manhattan

makes 1 drink

2 oz. rye whiskey
3/4 oz. sweet vermouth
dash Angostura bitters

Put 2-3 cubes of ice into a cocktail shaker. Add bitters, vermouth, and bourbon and shake. Strain into a martini glass and sink a cherry or two in there.


Old Fashioned

Makes 1 drink

1 1/2 oz Bourbon or Rye whiskey
2 dashes Angostura bitters 1 
Sugar cube

Place sugar cube in old fashioned glass and saturate with bitters, add a dash of plain water. Muddle until dissolved. Fill the glass with ice cubes and add whiskey. Garnish with orange slice, and a cherry.



09 June 2017

Banana Daiquiris are my summer spirit animal

Don't think a lot about it. This recipe is quintessential 1950s camp in a glass, and perfect for a casual gathering on your patio this weekend.

Frozen Banana Daiquiri of Your Dreams

Makes 1 drink

2 oz. rum of your choice
3/4 oz. lime juice
3/4 oz. sugar syrup (1:1 ratio of sugar to water)
1/2 frozen banana

Blend with 1/2 cup to 1 cup of cracked ice until smooth. (If you like a thinner consistency, use closer to 1 cup.) Pour into the corniest glass you can find, and top with Angostura bitters and a float of dark rum.


02 June 2017

Another roasted chicken story, but perhaps the best one yet

Did you ever have those epic, heavy Sunday "dinners" (meaning noontime meal outside of the Midwest) involving roasted meat and vegetables, and lots of family members?  Maybe it was after church, maybe not, but there was a coziness to it--a long, luxurious meal focused on comfort food and comforting people. I miss the sense of security and simplicity I got from those meals sometimes, and I find that if you make the right dish, you can evoke a little of that feeling, even if you're all by yourself. This one tries to capture that sense, and leftovers keep well if you don't have a crowd to feed, but best of all, it's very simple and fast, allowing much more time to drink wine and be idle.



One Dish Maple-Mustard Roasted Chicken Thighs with Vegetables

Serves 6

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or with skin, or bones…)
4 medium Russet potatoes, cut into ½-inch cubes
½ yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 stalk celery, diced
6-8 white mushrooms, thickly sliced
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 425⁰F. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, and maple syrup.

In a large casserole dish, toss all the vegetables (potatoes through mushrooms as listed above). Season with salt and pepper and stir to mix. Lay the chicken thighs on top in a single layer, trimming extra fat and spread out when possible. Season thighs with salt and pepper. Pour the vinegar sauce evenly on top and place in the oven.  Roast for 35-40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. 

This dish is meant to be eaten straight from the oven, but it is equally delicious the next day as cold leftovers, and you can also shred the meat and mix it all together with some broth for a soup OR turned into a curry by heating it with coconut milk and curry powder. I like to serve it the first time around with steamed green beans or broccoli seasoned with a quirt of lemon juice and salt on the side, and those can also be throw in to your leftover soup or curry.


26 May 2017

I went to northern California and missed a bunch of famous stuff, but I still had good food.

I took an epic (well, super long) road trip along I-80 to northern California last week, and here's what I learned:

Drive through the Bonneville Salt Flats and stop to read about this totally weird place.


Elko:
B.J. Bull Bakery has the best pasties and tart rhubarb pie, and the coffee even tastes like coffee.



Reno:
Branding Iron Cafe in Bonanza Casino: the ranchero asada is a terrific steak, and the beer is cheap. No photo for this one, but I'm still washing the smoke and general sadness out of my clothes.

Kenwood, CA (Napa Valley):
Cafe Citti: Homestyle Italian & wine

Glen Ellen, CA (Napa Valley):
Jack London State Park: This guy was seriously fucked up, but he built a lovely farm. Some skinny redwoods on the upper hike.












Truckee, CA:
Morgan's Lobster and Fish Shack has amazing chowder, but also great salads and California wines
And if you're into hostels, Redlight Lodge is very thoughtfully laid out, with a super funky bar up front. Also, cool naked man bathroom art. Mellow Fellow is a dive/townee bar with a great selection of taps.






San Francisco:
Good Mong Kok: great dim sum
Sun Fat Seafood Company: oysters, smoked whole crab


Tourist crap: Yes, Golden Gate Park is worth visiting. Plan lots of time to wander. And outside of town, Muir Woods will provide your Redwood fix without driving almost to Oregon. And although it's touristy as hell, the Ferry Building Farmer's Market is a handy place to get dim sum, crab, French pastries, and much more. There's a Peet's (they make a mean matcha latee), and the marble eggs at Imperial Tea Court were amazing.













05 May 2017

Last week it snowed, so I made soup...

Last weekend it snowed for two days straight here in Northern Colorado (and yes, our tomato plants are now dead).  So, after eating so many springy meals, I wanted a spicy, sinus-clearing soup.  I didn't have any kimchi on hand but I did have all of the basic ingredients that become kimchi hence the title of this recipe.  I imagine you could add some gojuchang if you miss the funkiness of truly fermented kimchi, but I didn't think of it until just now. Also, I realize it's Cinco de Mayo today, but you don't need another margarita recipe from me, do you?

Of course, now I'm wearing shorts again, but surely this soup will come in handy for someone out there, sometime...



Imitation Kimchi Stew

Serves 8 

1 teaspoon peanut oil
4 cups chopped green cabbage
1 small carrot, cut into matchsticks
6 scallions, sliced (green and white parts)
4-5 radishes, cut into matchsticks
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon Sambal Olek (or to taste)
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
8 cups water
1 small block firm tofu, cubed
8 oz. mung bean sprouts


In a Dutch oven or stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the cabbage, carrot, and radish and cook, stirring constantly, until cabbage just begins to soften (about 5 minutes). Add the scallions, cilantro, Sambal, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic, and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant (about 2 minutes).  Add the vinegar and water, cover and increase heat to bring to a boil. Once the soup is boiling, turn off the heat, stir in the tofu and mung beans, and add more Sambal or vinegar if you want. Serve piping hot. 

28 April 2017

Thai Brussels Sprouts with Rice Noodles

Inspiration for this dish came from Momofuku's Brussels sprouts with fish sauce and a couple of standard traditions in my own kitchen (namely, fried shrimp with pasta and bacon + Brussels sprouts). The result looks and sound like a hot jumbled mess of stuff, but I promise is it delicious, and leftovers are heavenly hot or cold.  It's pretty salty, but nothing a nice glass of white wine can't mitigate. (PS--you could totally make this vegetarian by swapping out the shrimp for tofu and just omitting the bacon. I hear there's even a good version of vegan fish sauce recipe out there if you care to make the time.)



Thai Brussels Sprouts with Rice Noodles

Serves 4

1-1 ½ pounds small Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
1 cup broccoli florets
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ yellow onion, thinly sliced
6 slices bacon
12-15 medium sized shrimp, deveined and shells and tails removed
8 oz. medium rice noodles (like what you’d use in Pad Thai)

For the vinaigrette:
½ cup fish sauce (adjust to taste -- some fish sauce brands are saltier)
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
¼ cup sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced, seeds intact
2 tablespoons each chopped mint and cilantro

Place the rice noodles in a large bowl and completely submerge in hot water.  Soak for thirty minutes, drain, set aside.
Preheat the oven to 450⁰F. On a foil-lined baking sheet, combine the Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and tablespoon olive oil. Spread out into a single layer, season with a little salt, and roast until there are browned spots to your liking, about 20 minutes.  You’ll probably want to check on it and give a stir about 15 minutes in.

Meanwhile in a large skillet, cook the bacon on low heat until browned and crunchy. Drain on a paper towel, crumble, and set aside.  Combine the shrimp with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon brown sugar in a small bowl, then add to the bacon grease in the skillet.  Cover over medium-high heat until golden, about 5 minutes per side. Add the onions and sauté until they just turn soft, about 4 minutes.

Lower heat to low. Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a bowl, whisk to combine, and add to the skillet. Add the drained rice noodles and stir thoroughly to coat.  Stir in the roasted vegetables and the chopped mint and cilantro, and serve immediately.


21 April 2017

Quick trips: Pittsburgh

I used Pittsburgh as my home base last week for a couple of university appearances, and I will preface this post with the truth: you could spend a lot more time in Pitt doing a lot more super cool things. But here's a little something to get you started while you're buying your opera tickets and looking up all your favorite galleries.

Lawrenceville neighborhood:
Coca Cafe has to-die-for egg sandwiches with kimchi, excellent coffee, and a chill, funky vibe just a few blocks off the Allegheny River. Afterwards, talk a short hilly stroll to enjoy the Art Deco architecture of Arsenal Middle School and the grandiose Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, which kind of transports you back to Victorian Europe. Pints on Penn makes for a break across the street from 19th Century composer Stephen Foster's home, too.

 


















Crafton neighborhood:
Authentic family-style Italian-American food is pretty easy to come by in Pittsburgh, but I loved Sarafino's for its raucous close-knit atmosphere, perfectly dressed pasta (the red clam sauce was delish), and a soaked almond creme cake which puts all other cakes to shame. They don't serve alcohol, so make like the locals and come prepared with your own bottle or two (or in one case, a martini shaker and various bottles of brightly-colored liquors). Big Daddy's Donuts is good, too, but be forewarned, they're not actually open 24/7 as some websites might say. They are super fresh.





Some other cools stuff to see:
Andy Warhol Museum
Heinz History Center, with a display of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood
Nationality Rooms at University of Pittsburgh, honoring the various origins of Pittsburgh's melting pot