Sunday, September 30, 2012
This story will break your heart. Shatter it. Into millions of pieces. I'm warning you. I should probably just start penning a book called "Jenn's Super Sad Story." Seth has been working nights and weekends (in addition to regular daytime hours). For months. Then one glorious sunny Saturday, he decided to take a break and not go in for the day, just spend the day at home. Even though I was feeling sluggish from not sleeping well and had a weird feeling in my throat, I was going to make the most of the day. So we decided to do something low-key but fun - like grill! We figured out what to grill, went out for lunch and afterwards obtained the necessary ingredients for our dinner. And once all that happened, I realized I was sick. Sore throat, headache, all that fun stuff. So I helped make these sliders, but totally couldn't enjoy them the way they were meant to be enjoyed. Instead I savored some ice cream. Since that never fails an ailing throat. So that is the super sad story about how I was sick on the one day Seth was home and couldn't enjoy these sliders and "had" to eat ice cream instead. I warned you that it would tug on your heartstrings in a profound way. That said, Seth gave me some of this meat, fresh off the grill, and I can say it was absolutely melt-in-your-mouth amazing. He insists they are the best sliders he's ever had, and still fresh in his mind a week later. He even liked the pineapple on them! And he hates pineapple!
2/3 cup mirin
1 cup soy sauce
4 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
¼ cup brown sugar
7 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno pepper
1 inch strip of orange peel
3/4 pound thinly sliced waygu beef
Japanese cucumber, sliced
Maui sweet onion, halved then sliced thinly
fresh pineapple slices, cored
mini kaiser rolls
To make the teriyaki sauce: Place the mirin in a medium pot and boil over high heat. Reduce to medium low and add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, jalapeno, and orange peel. Simmer for 20 minutes. Refrigerate to cool.
Once the teriyaki sauce has cooled, marinate the beef. Place the beef in a resealable bag and cover with the sauce. Let it marinate for at least an hour in the refrigerator.
Preheat grill to high (roughly 400°). Lay down grill-proof griddle and allow 3-4 minutes to preheat. Working in batches, as necessary, place marinated beef on griddle and flatten out. After 30 seconds to a minute, flip the meat and let cook for another 30 seconds to a minute before removing. Both sides should be browned and only slightly charred.
Brush onion slices, pineapple slices, and cut sides of rolls with canola oil. Place canola oil in a small bowl. Using a paper towel or cloth, dip in canola oil and rub over hot grill grates to prevent sticking. Grill the onions and pineapple on high heat until they have a light char on either side. Place the rolls, cut side down, on the grates, and remove when lightly toasted.
To assemble the sliders: Place a lettuce leaf on bottom slice of the bun. Then layer cucumber slices, grilled pineapple, meat, grilled onions, jalapeno slices, scallions, radish sprouts, and top with a drizzle of Sriracha.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
I suppose that if we were normal human beings we would be telling you that our favorite activities to do as a couple include long walks on the beach, or whittling pieces of driftwood into home decor pieces, or reading poetry to each other in front of the fireplace. But no, our very favorite thing to do as a couple is annoy each other. We are really good at it! Professionals, really. We can sit in the same room for hours and just make random noises and sounds and comments to each other that we know will irk the other one. I have a truly amazing ability to sing incredibly off-key quite loudly. And I use that ability. Oh I use it. I also have been blessed with the gift of pretending to sing opera. I make use of that. Naturally. Seth can make this one sound and hold it for ridiculously long period of time and it never ceases to annoy me. He is also incredibly skilled at asking annoying questions over and over and over again. We aren't being mean to each other - we are just child-like (or childish, depending on your perspective). So what could be better than to annoy him with than banana bread with Nutella swirled in it? I totally foresee questions like - how in the world is banana bread an annoyance? Well, Seth HATES bananas. Passionately. He can detect when a baked good has banana in it from like a mile away. It is uncanny. Now I just have to sit back and wait to see how he retaliates.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 bananas, mashed
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons flax seed
2/3 cup toasted walnuts
1/3 cup Nutella
Heat oven to 350. Grease a 9x5 loaf pan. Whisk flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, stir together brown sugar, bananas, canola oil, milk, eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Gently stir the the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, being careful not to over mix. Stir in the flax seeds, and toasted walnuts. Pour batter in loaf pan. Swirl in the Nutella. Bake for about 45-50 minutes, until the loaf has a golden-brown color and a cake tester comes out clean.
Sunday, September 23, 2012
I think it is good and important to critique structures and institutions that make up our everyday lives. Whether it is interrogating patriarchy, kyriarchy, capitalism, U.S. imperialism, colonialism - I am all for reimagining a more just and equal world. But I have my limits. And I draw the line at bread. I fully support the hegemony of bread. I feel like bread has been receiving a bad rap. I'm supposed to be all like, "Oh I feel so much better after not eating bread." Bread is a "sometimes" food. No. I am a fervent believer in the amazingness of bread and other, great bread-like products. So there! Here are some scallion and cheddar biscuits to celebrate.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tiny pieces
3 scallions, chopped
2 cups coarsely grated cheddar cheese
1 cup half and half
Heat oven to 450. In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, paprika, and garlic powder. Add the pieces of butter and using your fingers work the butter with the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumble. Stir in the chopped scallions and cheddar cheese. Then stir in half and half. Drop the batter onto a Silpat-lined baking sheet in large spoon-fuls. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until they have a golden brown color.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
You know when you convince yourself that you can indeed carry that very large pile of laundry up the stairs in one trip without the laundry basket? Because the laundry basket has been lost to the cause of either being a bed for a cat or to a toddler to commandeer? And so you begin the trek up, full of confidence. And then a sock slips out. And then you pick it up. And then two more shirts drop. This slapstick like scenario continues. Then, finally, for 4 amazing stairs, you actually do keep it all together. And you feel all smug, because you totally did indeed succeed in making it up the stairs with the ridiculous sized load in one trip!
Trying to make this smoothie was a similar production. This smoothie is the one that almost didn't happen. Oranges were obtained, then lost to a little guy with a fickle appetite. All the oranges. Ginger was assumed to be sitting peacefully in the crisper drawer, hanging out with carrots and celery. But it wasn't. I had never picked it up. Then ginger and oranges were all ready to go, but we repeated the ginger episode with the pineapple. Finally, luckily, all these things came together. I felt all smug, having finally succeeded in corralling all the necessary ingredients together, and making a smoothie that should have only taken 10 minutes to begin with.
2/3 cup crushed pineapple
1/2 cup buttermilk
zest of 1 orange
juice of 1 orange
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place everything in a bowl and blend with an immersion blender (or place in a blender and blend). Serve over crushed ice if desired.
Sunday, September 16, 2012
I should probably just go ahead and call this "the lunch I ate the other day." With the key word there being "I." This was all mine. Almost everything else we eat is for sharing, it's communal, it is for togetherness. It is all so lovely and nurturing and familial. I mean, we are super huge fans of dipping for this communal aspect! But sometimes you just need something to call your own. Like a room. But instead of a room, I had some lunch. A good something, though fleeting.
Max was asleep, blissfully (or so I assume) asleep in his bed. Alternatively, he could have been scampering around his bedroom pulling out books to "read" and toy cars to play with and diapers to drape over his arms. Either way, nary a peep was heard from him. Seth was the opposite of "blissful," putting in yet another round of weekend hours on a project at work.
So I made this - and for 15 wonderful moments I savored each and every bite. I stood at the kitchen counter with food in one hand and flipped through a magazine with the other. Multitasking at its finest. All while standing on one leg (It has come to my attention that I am often found standing in a weird birdlike position - on one leg with the other bent out, and I know this because I have caught Max copying me and realized what I was doing). I somehow even managed to get all the dishes cleaned up before Max awoke. It was as though it never happened. But I at least know it did.
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1 peeled pear
1 tablespoon olive oil
pinch kosher salt
Fontina cheese, sliced
slices of pear (to cover the cheese)
2 slices whole wheat bread
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
dollop of honey
2 cups mixed greens
To make the sandwich: Start by making the chunky walnut spread. Throw the walnuts, pear, olive oil, and salt in a food processor. Pulse for 30 seconds to a minute, until a chunky spread forms. Save any unused portion for later. Spread on a slice of bread. Add pear slices and fontina cheese to taste. Top with the other slice of bread.
Melt the butter in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once one side has turned golden-brown, flip to brown the other side.
To make the salad: Whisk the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, salt, pepper, and honey together. Toss the mixed greens with the salad dressing to taste. Add toasted walnuts, if desired.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
But on the other hand, egg is such a weird word to say. And to look at. It is only three letters and two of them are the letter g? How did that end up qualifying as a word?
Then there is the slightly bigger issue. I am perhaps a bit touchy about the word because it was my sister's and then consequently my best friend's (waves at Jess!) nickname for me. According to my sister, my shoulder looks like an egg... and therefore I am to be called egg. Strange child she was. Regardless, we love her. You should see the the egg stuff I have been given through the years by these two - a pot scraper shaped like an egg, a whisk with an egg for a handle, a sparkly purple egg, a really weird puzzle egg. Photos of eggs posted to my Facebook wall. Fried-egg gummies. To this day, I continue to feel anxious around the e-word.
Yet life must go on, and I just can't let my issues interfere with using this most delicious foodstuff. Now that is a fun word - just cramming an unnecessary word right next to another one! Another fun word is hullabaloo - I've yet to be in a situation that required use of that word, but one day, just you wait, I will gleefully whip that baby out. And it will be a joyous occassion.
After reading about this soft scrambled technique in Bon Appetit, I was smitten.
2 tablespoons olive oil
scant 1/4 teaspoon smoked sea salt
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon ancho chile powder
2 tablespoons chopped chives
This makes enough for 2 servings. In a medium saucepan over low heat, whisk the olive oil, salt, paprika, garlic powder, ancho chile powder, and eggs together continuously for about 4 minutes, until small curds have formed and it is no longer soupy. You don't want it runny, but you also don't want it dry. Top each serving with a tablespoon of chopped chives.
Sunday, September 9, 2012
I was 23 when we first met. I wouldn't say it was love at first bite, but because of geographic circumstances our love affair wouldn't happen until a bit later anyways. I had been listening to NPR at work one morning when they aired a segment suggesting simply seasoned avocado mashed with lime and spread on sourdough toast for breakfast. Even though I hadn't actually had an avocado at that point (having grown up in a northeast Pennsylvania former mining town), I said to myself, "Yes, yes that is what I want. That is clearly the meaning of life. Avocado for breakfast. On toast. I want to be a person who eats avocado on sourdough for breakfast." At that point we were living in Seattle, and somehow, on my first try, I picked out an avocado that was perfectly ripe and ready to eat (which is surprising, because, as I now know, most of them are sold hard, meant to be eaten after a few days to a week). That segment on NPR was correct - it was most definitely good. But it wasn't quite meant to be at that point. A year later we ended up in Southern California, where we could at long last resume our relationship. And what a relationship it has been. Always being there for us, so creamy and green and buttery. And since then we have all lived happily together. Even the notoriously picky lad has fondness for this produce.
Now, as for this particular avocado pasta recipe goes, I feel as though I should be apologizing for the light green hue. Saying such things like, "Oh it may appear an unappealing green, but once you dig in you'll love it." But I cannot do that. I cannot sincerely apologize for the hue. It is apologizing for an essential part of avocado. And I cannot do that to this fruit/vegetable thing. I just can't. We just need to accept - nay - celebrate its wonderful green color. I love the avocado for its entire being - not only for its creamy, buttery flesh, but also for its hard pit and its scaly green skin. And for the fresh pea color it gives this pasta.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon toasted and ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup frozen peas
12 ounces medium shells
Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the pasta shells according to pasta directions. Drain the pasta, then set aside the pot to use later (if you are interested in reducing the amount of dishes used like me, if not - feel free to grab another pot!). In a bowl, mash together the avocados, lemon juice, kosher salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, and paprika. Melt the olive oil and butter in the reserved pot over medium heat. Add shallot. Once that softened, add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Saute for a minute, until fragrant. Add the vegetable broth, and let everything cook together for a minute. Reduce heat to low and pour the shells in the pot. Then add the avocado mixture, coating the shells with the avocado. Add the corn and peas. Once the peas and corn are cooked, take off heat and serve.
Thursday, September 6, 2012
Since having our little nugget boy, I have become fixated on cookie cutters. Like, the universe might implode if we don't have the appropriate cookie cutter to correspond to holidays, outings, activities, lessons, etc. I have amassed a bit of a collection, which isn't too hard when you can buy gigantic containers of 100 for like 10 dollars. But it isn't even the little guy who likes having fun-shaped treats. He has made it quite clear that he is completely and utterly unimpressed to receive a sandwich cut out into the shape of a truck. I, on the other hand, am very impressed by our ability as a society to provide the tools to make sandwiches into truck shapes. I'm apparently the real toddler in this parent-child relationship. That is why the gingersnap cookies are in little heart shapes. I was feeling "heartsy." I also made an owl! But I ate him before he could end up in the photo. I guess I could have given that one to Max, but lets face it, he would not have appreciated it as much as I did.
I really wanted to make a pumpkin pie now that we have moved into September. And I like to pretend that there really is Autumn here in Southern California. However, making this pumpkin pie would have caused distress for Seth for two reasons. Number 1 - He doesn't like pumpkin. Okay, fair enough. We all have foods we don't like. But Number 2 - HE DOESN'T LIKE PIE! How can someone not like pie? I have no idea how that happened in life. So since I love baking pumpkin pie in a gingersnap crust, I decided to eliminate the second of these issues. Because I'm nice like that. I, however, am not getting rid of the pumpkin. I feel I compromised enough. So here is a pumpkin pie ice cream into which I dipped gingersnap cookies. The ice cream is best fresh, so remove it about 15 minutes before serving if storing in the freezer.
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 cup coconut milk
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons molasses
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon clove
pinch of kosher salt
Place all ingredients in a bowl. Once again, I am doing an egg-free ice cream, as I am very impatient and hate waiting for the custard to cool. I like to whisk until a layer of bubbles forms on the surface and the sugar is dissolved. Pour the mixture into the canister of the ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s directions. Serve with gingersnap cookies (either store-bought or use your favorite recipe and roll out some fun shapes!)
Sunday, September 2, 2012
"Puff" is one of those splendid words in the English language. It can be used in multiple situations, as it is a word that is somehow both vague and precise at the same time. Puffs of smoke, cheese puffs, puffy shirts. It is also really fun to say. Puff. It sounds so fluffy and billowy, like a gust of wind is going to swoop down and whisk it away.
Puff is also the term we use for Jiji's paws. Jiji is our short cat with short legs and tiny white little paws (mostly - hello toe spot!) that are basically rendered useless by their tinyness. And we just adore them. Don't they look like tiny cottonballs?
Then we have these puffs. Puff pastry stuffed with a savory herb and mushroom mixture. Maybe not as adorable as the previous puff you've seen, but thats okay. Instead of being prized for their cuteness, they tend to be devoured quickly and immediately. Also a good quality. Try adding some creme fraiche as a cool, refreshing dip.
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
1/3 cup dried porcini mushrooms (will need to be hydrated)
2/3 cup boiling water
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chopped chives
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
2 tablespoons mushroom liquid
2 tablespoons port
1 tablespoon soy sauce
pinch lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
splash of milk
creme fraiche and additional herbs, optional, for serving
To hydrate the porcini mushrooms: Pour the boiling water over the porcini mushrooms and allow it to sit for at least 2 hours to soften the mushrooms. Once the mushrooms have softened, chop and set aside. Reserve the mushroom liquid.
Melt the butter and olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Once the butter has melted and the bubbles in the mixture have started to subside, add the chopped mushrooms. Stir continuously, allowing the mushrooms to absorb the butter and oil mixture. After a few minutes, the mushrooms will brown. Once that happens, reduce the heat to low and stir in the garlic. Let that cook for 30 seconds to a minute, then add in the chives, parsley, and thyme. Stir in the mushroom liquid, port, and soy sauce. Add a pinch of lemon zest and some lemon juice for a bit of freshness, and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Take off heat and let the mixture cool.
Heat oven to 400 (or whatever temperture is recommended on your puff pastry dough). Cut the puff pastry into four squares by slicing horizontally and vertically with a pizza cutter. Then cut each square into two triangles by slicing on a diagonal. You will have a total of 8 triangles. Place about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the filling on each triangle, bring the opposing edges over and seal the puff into a triangle shape. You may want to use just a bit of water to help seal. Whisk the egg and milk and brush the mixture on each triangle. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown and puffy. serve with creme fraiche and herbs, if desired.