Thursday, October 21, 2010

Breakfast egg cups

(Amy Snyder, this one's for you)

After way too long away, I'm back! Hopefully. Once again, life got crazy, and I was cooking much less than I ever like to. I also have a confession to make - I'm not a very good food photographer. And I'm, a perfectionist. The combination of the two means I have a lot of recipes that I've made but never posted because the pictures just aren't up to my standards. Hopefully, the kitchen in my new apartment in NEW YORK CITY (woot!) will have better lighting!

That's right folks, I got a job offer in the Big Apple and am now living on the East Coast. You can read all about my adventures at my new blog Vicks in the City.

Anyways, back to breakfast. These cute little breakfast cups could be made with just about any omelette-appropriate ingredient and served at parties. They're like miniature, easy to make quiches that you can customize for anyone that you are cooking for, or make with whatever you have on hand.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Lavender burgers with goat cheese

I had a revelation recently - I am a grocery store snob. Living in urban Seattle, I am surrounded by a plethora of culinary options. I have approximately 12 options available for grocery shopping within a 5 mile radius alone! There are your traditional options (Safeway, the new flagship QFC) the high-end shops (Whole Foods, Met Market and PCC), the moderate options with decent variety (Trader Joes) and the local farmers markets, which are plentiful this time of year! Expand that just a few more miles and I have Uwajimaya, Grocery Outlet and several other outlets of the aforementioned stores. Just about everything I need is at my fingertips!

Occasionally, I get to a store and they're out of the ingredient I need. Honestly, it happens more often than not since the world's smallest Trader Joes is right down the street, but I've just come to expect that. Two grocery stores in one hour? Check! All the ingredients I need for the day's recipe or the week's meals? Check, check!

Now, I'm a big fan of cooking with ingredients that are a little... different. I love to experiment with new vegetables and spices and things that I find here or there. Typically, I'll grab said ingredient while out and about, go home, look up recipes for inspiration then plan on cooking something fun. On a recent trip to the Ballard Market, I picked up a bouquet of fresh lavender. Feeling very inspired by the delicious aromas, I came home, did some research and found this recipe for tagliarini with almond-arugula pesto & meatballs. The results? Delicious!

Having made enough meat to feed a small army, I set aside enough for a BBQ to make burgers with. On my way to that BBQ, I decided to stop and get a special ingredient - crumbled goat cheese - to mix in and change up the recipe just a smidge. Not knowing the area I stopped at the first familiar store I saw - QFC. Needless to say, I was surprised and not at all happy to find out that they didn't carry crumbled goat cheese or the pita chips I had planned on grabbing for an app. Crumbled goat cheese, I can understand, but what kind of store doesn't carry pita chips? Really?

Needless to say, I made do with regular goat cheese (sigh) and the results were extremely satisfying... salty and earthy with a hint of herbs without being too overpowering. More complex than your standard burger, but not so different that a hamburger purist wouldn't enjoy. These really didn't need any of the standard condiments, but I served it (as shown in the picture) with a little leftover arugula pesto. I could also see a garlic aioli pairing nicely as well. Completely delicious, if I do say so myself. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Quinoa and Veggie Salad

Do you ever have those days where you keep going and going and going and don't have a chance to relax until you throw yourself into bed? I feel like that's my life in a nutshell these days! Since summer is a limited-time offering here in the Pacific Northwest, I've been doing my best to take advantage of all summer days - rain or shine.

The news described it as "boomerang weather" - hot for a few days, then cold and rainy, then hot again. I call it "crap." Maybe I'm just spoiled from years of beautiful Seattle summers, but rain on the weekends is not something I enjoy.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature and I are not quite on the same page with what is acceptable August weather, so I will just have to deal... for now. One dish that I've discovered that perfectly matches the ever-changing weather is quinoa (properly pronounced "KEEN-wah" however I like to call it "Kin-O-wah"). It can be eaten warm or cold, in salads, as a side... it's easy to prepare and absolutely delicious and...wait for it... healthy! According to wikipedia "...quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source among plant foods." What more could you ask for?

I made this dish on an lovely warm summer day, where I had a bunch of leftover veggies from the market and didn't feel like turning on my oven. You could really use any combination of veggies and I'm sure it would be just as tasty. The pancetta adds enough salty flavor and the goat cheese melts just enough that the dish feels indulgent without being overly so. Bon appetite!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

No-cook rosemary skewers

One of my favorite things about the summer months are BBQ's. I mean, what's not to love? Growing up my dad was the King of the BBQ, Master of the Grill. Actually, he still is! From steak to chicken to corn to squash (that's right squash) he can throw it on the BBQ and the result is a feast of delicious goodness.

Since I don't have a BBQ (thank you, apartment management company regulations) and my skills are relatively limited my role in most BBQs is to eat a lot. Oh, and to bring a side dish of sorts. The latest BBQ side dish I found is courtesy of The Pioneer Woman. My friend Colin introduced me to her blog and I'm pretty sure I owe my love of all things food blog to him for it. Her site is full of beautiful pictures, delicious recipes and honest, funny commentary that makes cooking along with her even more fun.

These no-cook skewers are simple to make, but incredibly tasty and garnered lots of compliments when I brought them to a 4th of July BBQ. They only sat on the rosemary sticks for about two hours, but it was enough time to allow the rosemary flavor to seep into the cheese and meat, creating a burst of fresh herb flavor in every single bite. I'm pretty sure I ate about 20 of them, they were so tasty.

Super simple, lots of flavor and no oven necessary? Sign me up!The Recipe:No-cook Rosemary Skewers (as adapted from The Pioneer Woman)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I'll be back!

This month has been exceptionally busy. There's been travel, softball, dinner parties, happy hours, gym time, girls nights... you name it, it's been keeping me out until 10pm (or later!) on any given night.  I have several new recipes to share, but sadly can't seem to find the time to share them. After this weekend I will be in Seattle for almost five full weeks and will have lots more time to catch you all up on my cooking adventures!

Happy summer!


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Morel mushroom, asparagus and goat cheese risotto

I just got back from spending 5 days and 4 nights in Vegas, which means two things. It means (1) I have a tan that looks slightly unnatural in the Pacific Northwest, where sun is a rarity and it's barely been above 75 this year and (2) I'm on a complete physical detox.

While I won’t be eating risotto for a while, before I left I made this dish and it turned out so tasty! I love mushrooms. Love, love, love mushrooms. I have a hard time understanding how anyone (including my two brothers) don't like them. They are delicious. I tend to stick primarily with your standard store varietals - button, portabella, shitake, and the occasional dried wild mushroom mix - but on my recent shopping spree at Uwajimaya, picked up a small package of morels.
If you're not familiar with morels, they are pricey ($18-$30 a pound), weird looking fungi that have a strong mushroom-y taste. You can stuff them, make pastas with them, sauces, etc. They're out of my price range but good for a treat every now and then.
And the risotto? Outstanding. After doing extensive research on morels, I discovered that asparagus is a common pairing, so through that into the mix for a nice summer taste. The goat cheese kept the creamy texture that risotto is so well known for, almost giving the dish the feeling of mac and cheese (without the grease) and was subtle without overpowering the mushrooms or asparagus. Overall, this is definitely a recipe that could be made again for dinner parties... or as a post-detox celebration.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Broccoli Rabe, Turnip and Garlic Spears soup

There's something so exciting and enticing abou finding new ingredients and experimenting with them. On a recent trip to Uwajimaya (an Asian grocery superstore), I found myself in fresh produce heaven. I've always known that they had a wide variety of produce, but I rarely ever go because it's completely out of the way. That ends now as I will definitely be going back as often as possible for new ingredients to try.

I wandered around looking at the different greens and roots and veggies, completely wide-eyed and in awe of the possibilities... I didn’t know where to start! After a minute of daydreaming, I was snapped back to reality by a helpful produce guy wanting to know if I needed help. Not wanting him to know exactly how nerdy and excited I was, I managed to shake
my head and squeak out "I'm fine, thanks" as normally as I could.

What I walked away with ultimately wasn't that exciting per say, but all the ingredients are new to me. I got turnips, garlic spears, broccoli rabe and morels. Garlic spears are the stems and flowers from elephant garlic. Raw they are sharp, peppery and have a strong garlic flavor that will knock your socks off. Cooked, they're more mild but equally delicious. Broccoli rabe (also known as rappini) is a leafy green. It's actually a relative of the turnip, not broccoli, and has a taste reminiscent to broccoli, but more bitter.

This soup tastes (and looks) like spring. It's similar to cream of broccoli, without the cream and the flavors are as green as the soup itself. It has a hint of garlic and a slight bitterness to it, and it's freshness that feels appropriate for the spring-like weather that we've been experiencing here in Seattle. It's tasty hot, but versatile enough that it could also be served cold for a nice treat on a hot summer day. Yum!