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!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Memorial Day Pork Tacos

Admittedly, I have been slacking a little on my blog. Ok, maybe I've been slacking a lot. My goal was to do this once a week and between Memorial Day weekend and a work trip to New York, I (1) haven't been cooking a whole lot and (2) haven't had a lot of free time to blog a whole lot. But now that that's over, I will get back to my once-a-week blogging goal. This will not be like the time I started a diary in the 3rd grade and stopped a week later. I've made Tastespotting! There's no way I'm stopping now.

While I haven't had time to cook a ton over the last two weeks, I have definitely had time to eat. And oh boy, have I been eating! Memorial Day was spent at my friends Kari and Steven's family cabin in the beautiful San Juan Islands in northern Washington. Each person was in charge of a meal and every single person stepped it up this year! From buttermilk blueberry pancakes to BBQ'd oysters to baked ziti and more it was a heavenly weekend with great food and even better company.

My contribution? Pork tacos. I paired it with the 
jalapeno mango slaw. Remember the slaw? The amazing, could eat it every day slaw? This is one of the 101 ways you could use the slaw and it works as well with pork as it did with fish. I prepped it the night before and as suspected, it stewed for 24 hours and the flavors melded, leaving a succulent, sweet side that had a hint of kick without being too spicy for those with sensitive taste buds. A picky eater admitted to being hesitant about the slaw, but tried it anyways and really liked it - something every cook loves to hear!

This carnitas recipe is a favorite of mine - it's easy to prepare, inexpensive (if you have the spices), serves a lot of people and always gets rave reviews. The meat just tears apart and is tender and flavorful and just plain delicious. The aroma kicks in about 20 minutes into simmering and you'll be salivating until you eat. Between the salty goodness of the pork and the sweet tang of the coleslaw, this is a winner of a meal.

Remember my love of good Mexican? Check! My love/hate relationship with cumin? Yeah, it's there too. And even if you don't remember those things, you should still try this recipe. Bon appetite!

The recipe: Carnitas

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Yogurt Spiced Chicken with Cucmber Mint Salad

Subconsciously, cumin must be my favorite spice. In going back through my past posts, just about everything has cumin in it - soup, chili, this. It's amazing because it's so versatile but to be honest, it's not a spice I would label as a favorite. There's something about the smell of cumin that I just don't love... I can't put my finger what that is exactly, but it obviously doesn't bother me that much because here I am, cooking with it constantly. I could go into a long drawn-out debate outlining the subconscious versus conscious, but will save that for another day...or not. I actually like having readers and don't want to scare ya'll away this early on!

I found this recipe when I was looking for a way to use cilantro since my home-grown stock is quickly growing faster than I can use it. Indian food is something I really have to crave to enjoy and I really liked the chicken the night I made it... unfortunately, the appeal was gone the next day when I brought it into work for lunch. I can't emphasize this enough - it's not the recipe... it's me. And my weird love/hate relationship with cumin.

That being said, this was a pretty cumin-heavy dish. If you like curried chicken, you will definitely like this recipe. The scent that hit me while it was baking reminded me of walking into an Indian restaurant - lots of spice and flavor, without being too overwhelming. The yogurt marinade kept the chicken moist and I paired it with a minted cucumber salad, based on a recipe my mom makes frequently. The flavors together were a great combination of spicy and sweet, hot and cool - slightly contradictory in description but pairs nicely together and perfectly matches the sunny/rainy/warm/cold weather we've been having lately in Seattle.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

If there's anything I love, it's good, authentic Mexican food. I grew up in the Bay Area, has all kinds of delicious Mexican cuisine. Seattle has a few good options, for for the most part, places like Azteca just don't cut it.

Enchiladas are a personal weakness of mine, but a bad sauce can ruin it all. I'm definitely a sauce snob - red not green, with enough spice for kick, but not overpower the taste of the filling, salty, not sweet. These are all personal preferences, of course, but they're mine and since this is my blog, I guess that's all that matters... right? Right.

Since I had a ton of Masa left over from making tortillas a few weeks ago, I found this recipe and had to give it a try. The biggest change - making my own enchilada sauce! Canned sauce has a lot of sodium in it, so I hunted down a recipe and made my own... and it was exactly what I would have wanted. If you have the time to prep it the day before to cut down on the cook time, I would definitely recommend doing so. It's worth the extra work.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

What is a sunchoke?

Sunday is my prep day. It's the day where I get my life in order for the week. I do my laundry, grocery shopping, meal planning, cleaning, check emails... and typically, I cook. This Sunday was a little different.

It all started late Friday evening when I came home from happy hour, took a nap and woke up with a headache/sore throat combo that was enough for me to be in bed by 10pm. It persisted Saturday, but was manageable with tylenol. Today was even worse, so I forced myself to spend the day resting, which was torturous because weather was in the 60s and I'm sure all of Seattle was out to play. Needless to say, I could barely drag myself off my couch, much less to the grocery store or into the kitchen. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day and I'll have the energy to cook up something tasty and blog about it.

In telling people about the soup I made, I got the same question over and over - what is a sunchoke? Well, here they are. Attractive little buggers, arent they? I've been doing more research on recipes and sunchokes can be prepared almost any way a potato can - in soups, as chips, roasted - but they can also be eaten raw in salads or on sandwiches.

Also known as a Jerusalum artichoke, sunchokes are a root vegetable and a part of the sunflower family. As tasty as they are, be warned - sunchokes contain a significant amount of inulin, which can be difficult to digest in large quantities. I didnt have any issues with my soup, but after reading a few blogs, its definitely good to keep in mind.

I have these leftover from last week's trip to the market but not quite sure what to do with them yet. Stay tuned...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sunchoke soup at 6am

What is one to do when they stay out later than planned on Cinco de Mayo, and didn't make the food they planned on for the rest of the week? Get up at 6:30am and make it anyways!

I know it sounds crazy, but I've been trying to cut back on frozen meals and eating out, and had sunchokes from the Ballard Market that needed to be used so... soup-making at 6am it is. Awesome. I did the prep work and played with the recipe to get it going quickly, then showered while it simmered, then packaged it up and off to work I went! Oddly not the first time I've made soup before work, but that's another story for another day...

Now I've never cooked, or even eaten sunchokes. They're a funny little root vegetable that look like ginger root but are rumored to taste like artichokes. I love, love, love artichokes but hate the amount of work and time it takes to both cook and eat them so was super excited to try these. The verdict? When cooked, they are potato-like in texture, but the taste... slightly more mild then artichoke hearts, YES! I wish I had discovered these earlier in the season as I would definitely like to experiment with them more.

So, the soup... even though I halved the recipe, I accidentally added the full amount of chili powder and boy you can really taste it! I calmed the kick down with some Crème Fraiche (also courtesy of the market), and the artichoke-like flavor was definitely dominant. Salted sunflower seeds helped bring out the nutty flavor but between the spicy kick and the unique flavors of cumin and coriander, the soup is almost Indian in taste. A bowl of roasted chickpeas with lemon and cumin would actually be the perfect accompaniment for a light and satisfying lunch. It's also thick - really thick - and unlike most soups, actually filled me up for most of the afternoon.

I'll keep this one on file, but next time want try making a soup with a different assortment of spices to really play on the artichoke-y flavors. More garlic, some lemon juice, maybe a little parmesan... everything you would want when eating a real artichoke...mmmmm...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Monday night madness - Fish Tacos edition

For the last few weeks, once a week, my friend Megan and I have gotten together and cooked up a veritable feast of goodness. There's no rhyme or reason to what we cook but it's a small tradition that brightens up the beginning of the each week. Megan is a phenomenal cook and she challenges me on a regular basis to try new things because she does so on a regular basis (carrot turnip mash, anyone?) and it's always a hit! She's also been on a no-dairy, no-gluten kick, which makes our evenings together even more of a challenge - one I'm happy to take on.

Tonight's endeavour could not have gone better - we made halibut tacos with homemade tortillas and a mango jalapeno slaw. I haven't made tortillas from scratch since I was about 12 and I have to say - they're super easy and actually fun to make!The halibut was extremely subtle in flavoring, and became more of a back-up dancer to the diva that was the slaw. More sweet than spicy and super light, it tasted like something you could eat all summer long. As we ate, Megan and I came up with 101 ways to use the slaw - with chicken, serve as a side, add avocado, etc. It's that good, I swear!

In keeping everything dairy and gluten free, the tortillas were made with Masa, a enriched corn flour found in the Mexican section of most grocery stores, and the slaw was made with dairy-free mayo (found at Trader Joes). All around dinner - 4 stars... or, maybe that would be 4 tacos... which is exactly how many Megan and I ate at dinner. Each.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The white chili that wasn't

Chili is one of my standard fall-back recipes. It's the cold-weather-I-dont-want-to-go-to-the-store-but-want-something-hearty food and I love it. I love the variety of it - how one little dish can be changed by an ingredient or two and it's a totally new experience. It can be white or red, flaming-hot or pleasantly mild, made with chocolate, beer, beef, turkey, chicken, you name it! Regardless of the type, it's almost always good.

So, after spending a fun day out on the chilly waters of Lake Washington for Opening Day of boating season, I did an extensive search for "ground turkey" recipes I came across a recipe for turkey white chili. It was going to be limey, it was going to use some of the cilantro I'm growing, it was going to be white, it would have been great. Until halfway through I changed my mind, threw in a can of tomatoes and (as Emeril would say) BAM! Red chili.

The result of my indecision:
Mildy spicy, luscious, tangy, hearty, healthy turkey chili. YUM!

What am I doing here?

As I've gotten older, I've realized one thing (well, I've realized many things but you know what I mean) - I love food. I love eating it, I love making it, I love shopping for it, I even love staring at pretty pictures of it... need I say more? Nothing is more relaxing after a long day than finding something tasty to make, pouring a glass of wine, putting on some music and dancing around the kitchen while I create a (hopefully!) delicious meal. Sometimes it's just for me, sometimes it's for friends... but no matter what, when I make something amazing I will always share the recipe! More often than not, my recipes are a collaborative effort, made from several different recipes pulled together into one.

This site was the brain child of my good friend Jessica, just for that purpose - to share my recipes and food adventures with my friends and family. So... bon appetite!