tuesday quickie

Quick trip…quick post.

After such a great thanksgiving break, it was extra hard to dive back deep down below the mason-dixon. I was missing my city and my people baaaaaaaad. Manfriend came to the rescue and whisked me back up to dc in mid-december. We hit Fruit Bad on H Street, a place I’ve been dying to try forever. And was it ever worth the wait. Enter: the pig latin.

oh yes. i’m still talking about it not the next day–but the next month.

saturday morning brought a reunion with a favorite pasttime: brunch with liscious! ted’s bulletin for eggs, bacon, bubbles, and house-made maple bacon poptarts.

A happy coincidence with this visit was it coincided with Slow Motion’s no-way-i’m-3-years-from-30 birthday celebration! She can sniff our a surprise from 5 miles away, so this was a covert operation and I declare it a success she only had half an inkling something was up. 🙂

surprise!”]An absolutely amazing night of good bbq, great friends, and awesome live music was the perfect way to end the weekend.

nutritious and delicious

Thanksgiving break marked the end of our first term of classes.  5 labs down, 10 to go. First up after turkey day: Nutrition and Sensory Analysis. The timing couldn’t have been better, huh? I was really looking forward to this class–I knew the instructor and knew we had very similar views on food.

What a new term also means is new classmates.  A group of about 8 of us “big kids” from our first session got together and all registered for the same classes, which meant about 12 new faces.  The first couple weeks were a little rough. I quickly named a group member “Wonder Boy,” and not as a term of endearment. We’ve all settled in though, and get along pretty well.  But it is VERY exciting to see old friendly faces in the halls.

So let’s get to the good stuff–the food! Each day before service we went down the whole line and each group had to explain why each of their dishes were “nutritious and delicious.”  Not surprisingly, i LOVED all the food in this class. A fellow health nut and I talked so excitedly about how much better we felt after class each day–we had more energy, were in better moods,  and life just seemed a little brighter.  After the land of cream sauces and mushy meat, it was like discovering the promised land.

upper left: shrimp spring rolls with rice noodles and fresh mint
lower left: banana nut bread (barf)
center: buckwheat pancakes! deeeeelicious
upper right: vegan tofu chocolate pudding with raspberry coulis. deeeeesgusting.
(i try to like tofu. i really do. but i just don’t. i don’t hate it like i hate bananas, so that’s something)
lower right: spaghetti squash with tempeh bolognese. tempeh is another meat substitute made of fermented soy beans. infinitely better than tofu.

 here’s a couple shots of the full lot of daily production (well, actually each of these are only about half of it):

two of my accomplishments: brocco-flower cheddar soup and smoothies (blueberry-banana and strawberry-raspberry-peach)

   

hands-down one of my favorite things i’ve made to date: falafel!

wonder boy made the tzatziki. took him approximately 2 hours.

 and the crowning glory after two weeks of very little meat, cheese, or fat:

bacon cheddar sliders with caramelized onions and chipotle mayo on fresh-baked rolls. the southern carnivorous males were in HEAVEN.

For our final, we had to take a recipe and modify it to pretty strict nutritional requirements.  I took a sautéed salmon with a beurre rouge sauce (read: 2 sticks of butter with some red wine) and turned it into:

Ancho Chile Salmon with Clementine Reduction

(after being tasted and graded. A+!)

I marinated the salmon in fresh clementine juice, clementine zest, ancho chile powder, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. 30 minutes later, they got baked at 375 until cooked through, about 12 minutes.  The brown sugar and the sugars in the juice caramelize on the outside of the fish, and the higher heat allow it to cook quickly and not dry out. Meanwhile, I reduced the exact same mixture as the marinade over medium heat until slightly syrupy. Drizzle that over the fish, top it with some toasted panko breadcrumbs and BAM (he’s a jwu alumnus, ps)!

Nutritious and delicious.

sometimes

sometimes you get so busy you can’t cook.

sometimes you get so busy you forget to sleep or eat.

i’m currently somewhere in between.  cooking, yes. sleeping yes, but in that middle place is where writing blog posts has fallen out of the realm of frequent possibilities.

sometimes, when you’re in that place, Manfriend says “don’t worry about dinner, i’ll take care of it.”

sometimes he makes you 2 baby bacon grilled cheese sandwiches and sweet potato fries.  sometimes. 🙂

niiiice and easy.

We’re all sloooooowly re-entering the workforce after (i hope) lovely long weekends all around. I’ve got a whole slew of treats to share, but lets not rush anything now.

Today I have for you a delightful working-girl dinner. When it’s late, you’re tired, but don’t want Annie’s bunnies and cheese again, here’s your solution. Veggie, meat, and dairy, all rolled (literally) into a handy little bundle.

There’s no real recipe for this…so we’ll just walk through it nice and easy.

Roasted Asparagus with Prosciutto

First, make things easy on yourself:  preheat your oven to 400 and line a cookie sheet with foil.

Anyone familiar with the Points System knows all too well the wonders of those little pink wedges. They make excellent body doubles for butter, cheese, alfredo sauce, just about anything.  In this case, they’re here on their own accord, because they are delicious.

So, snap your asparagus and open your prosciutto (I actually used speck, which was all Whole Foods had. bastards).  Spread a little Laughing cow on a piece of your cured meat of choice:

Wrap carefully around a piece of asparagus.

And pop these kids in the oven until the prosciutto browns and crisps (7ish minutes per side).

PROMPTLY PAT YOURSELF ON THE BACK. and go put your feet up.

adventures in artichokes

artichokes were on sale last week, so i picked some up, got home, and realized i had actually no idea how to cook an artichoke.

when i found this recipe on Monday, I decided it was fate.  Manfriend hadn’t had bacon in 24 hours and was starting to get the shakes.

while my artichoke-trimming skills need some refinement, we discovered something new and magical and wonderful: tomato-bacon vinagrette.

it was very tasty with the artichokes, but it really would be tasty over just about anything (including the salad greens Manfriend promptly dumped all the extra over). “I want to eat this every day of my life,” were the exact words I believe.

Artichokes with Tomato-Bacon Vinaigrette

(printable version)

Ingredients

  • 2 medium artichokes
  • 4 bacon slices
  • 2 vine-ripened tomatoes
  • 1 shallot
  • 3 tablespoons drained capers
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Method

With a serrated knife cut artichoke stems flush with bottoms. Cut off and discard top inch from artichokes. In a saucepan cover artichokes with salted water and bring to a boil. Simmer artichokes, covered, until just tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

While artichokes are cooking, coarsely chop bacon and in a skillet cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden. With a slotted spoon transfer bacon to paper towels. Halve and seed tomatoes and cut into 1/4-inch dice. Finely chop shallot and capers. In a bowl combine lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk in oil in a slow stream until emulsified and add bacon, tomatoes, shallot, and capers.

Drain artichokes upside down on a rack and arrange each on a plate. Separating leaves slightly, drizzle vinaigrette between leaves and onto plates.

that’s a spicy meat-a-ball

As of this morning, Washington, DC had gotten 45 inches of snow this winter.  How much above normal is that?

35 inches above normal.

And, the weatherman is predicting another 10-20 inches starting tomorrow afternoon. What did we do to deserve this? Well, we shipped our beacon of hope back to the commies.

How did I prepare? I made meatballs. Spicy meatballs. With bacon.  Clay and Zach over at the Bitten Word posted these guys about a week ago and I had a constant, unyielding craving for them as soon as I saw them.  So really, the 24 inches of snow was just and excuse.  It’s also a great excuse for the federal government to cancel work for three days. Take THAT you tea baggers.

“I swore I wasn’t going to do this any more!” Manfriend said, amidst the ritual foot-stomping and whimpering as the final pictures were impeding his first bite. These are a fair amount of work but really, really worth it. Spicy, succulent, and soul-satisfying.  And this recipe makes GOBS, half of which promptly went into the freezer for the next cleverly-named snow storm.  Oh wait, that’s in 12 hours.

Spaghetti and Meatballs All’Amatriciana

Bon Appétit

Ingredients:

Meatballs:

  • 6 ounces uncured applewood-smoked bacon (about 6 slices), diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 pounds ground beef (15% fat)
  • 2/3 cup chopped drained roasted red peppers from jar
  • 2/3 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)*
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup coarsely grated onion
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh marjoram
  • 2 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Sauce:

  • 2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes in juice (preferably San Marzano)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 6 ounces uncured applewood-smoked bacon (about 6 slices), cut crosswise into thin strips
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups finely chopped onions
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh marjoram

Pasta:

  • 1 1/2 pounds spaghetti
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh marjoram
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

For meatballs:

  • Place bacon in processor. Using on/off turns, grind to coarse paste. Transfer to large bowl. Using garlic press, squeeze in garlic. Gently mix in beef and all remaining ingredients. Let stand 15 minutes.
  • Line large rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap. Using moistened hands and scant 2 tablespoonfuls for each, roll meat mixture into 11/2-inch meatballs. Arrange meatballs on sheet. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic wrap; chill.

For sauce:

  • Puree tomatoes with juice and garlic in batches in blender until smooth.
  • Cook bacon in large pot over medium heat until crisp; transfer bacon to plate.
  • Add 1 tablespoon oil to drippings in pot and heat over medium heat. Add half of meatballs. Cook until brown on all sides, turning carefully with small metal spatula, about 9 minutes. Transfer meatballs to baking sheet. Add more oil to pot if needed and repeat with remaining meatballs.
  • Increase heat to medium-high. Add onions and crushed red pepper to pot.
  • Sauté until golden, about 6 minutes. Add wine; boil until reduced by half, stirring up browned bits, about 8 minutes. Add tomato puree and marjoram. Boil until sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Mix bacon into sauce. Add meatballs; bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until meatballs are heated through and tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

For pasta:

  • Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain; transfer to large bowl. Toss with 2 tablespoons oil and marjoram, adding more oil to moisten, if desired. Divide spaghetti among bowls. Top with meatballs and sauce. Sprinkle with cheese and serve, passing additional cheese separately.

as if another use for bacon could possibly be invented: bacon paste.

i have baby garlic cloves, so i upped the number used.

i dumped all my mis-en-place into a bowl then added the meat. take that, bon appetit.

that is half of a LARGE onion.

speed dating for food. 15 minutes for everyone to get to know each other then be forced into a hot situation.

gratuitous bacon shot for all my loyal carnivores.

my meaty army.

aforementioned hot situation.


time to get SAUCY.

boil, boil, toil and trouble.

foot-stomping good.

after a few bites in his belly, manfriend is much more happy to aid in the food styling.

Snowpocalypse….Snowmageddon…names in the running for the next one include Snowmageddon II (lame), Snoverkill, Snowzilla, Snowfecta.  You can vote on the name here. Whatever you call it, I hope everyone is warm, cozy, and surrounded by good friends and food. 🙂

muses and slaves…welcome to ancient rome.

Saturday morning, inspiration struck. Recently, Manfriend’s friend…let’s call him the Shoeless Brit…graciously bestowed upon me his mother’s unwanted bread machine. I had made (I use that term loosely, the machine really did the heavy lifting) a great loaf of french bread, but it was on its last legs. No use crying over stale bread–and I had milk! Cream, rather, from the cauliflower soup.  A match made in heaven. French toast was a must!  30 seconds on the interwebs later, we were off and running.

my muse

and its accomplice

This was a little more involved than your traditional french toast..you dip, drain, fry, and bake.  In my opinion, it’s totally worth it.  And you know Alton’s poor (slash–insanely lucky) kitchen assistants tested 8,000 recipe variations to find the best. This meal is in honor of them.

French Toast
from Alton Brown
(and his kitchen slaves)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons honey, warmed in microwave for 20 seconds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 (1/2-inch) slices day-old or stale country loaf, brioche or challah bread
  • 4 tablespoons butter

Method

  • In medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, eggs, honey, and salt. You may do this the night before. When ready to cook, pour custard mixture into a pie pan and set aside.

everybody into the pool!

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Dip bread into mixture, allow to soak for 30 seconds on each side, and then remove to a cooling rack that is sitting in a sheet pan, and allow to sit for 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Over medium-low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a 10-inch nonstick saute pan. Place 2 slices of bread at a time into the pan and cook until golden brown, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side.

mmmm hands down one of my best foodie pics to date. i RULE.

  • Remove from pan and place on rack in oven for 5 minutes. Repeat with all 8 slices.

why are oven shots so difficult? Oh maybe because i'm crouched over balancing on my toes.

  • Serve immediately with maple syrup, whipped cream or fruit.

I served mine with the fruit of the gods: BACON.

In the spirit of the Food Network, this was YUM-O.  I made the full recipe of dipping liquid for 8 slices, but my 6 soaked it alllll up.  And these reheated like a dream in a 375 oven yesterday morning.

and for my next act…

I will use every new appliance acquired in the last month.   This recipe caught my eye recently as I enjoy soups and you all can’t freaking get enough bacon out of me.   After a crazy weekend in the office, it was just the thing to rejuvenate me and break in my le creuset!

(which, for the record, is a fantastic blog you should read….right after this one 😉 )

Ingredients
  • 4 strips of lean bacon
  • 3 large carrot, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 15 1/2-ounce cans white beans, drained
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Method

First things first:

did you catch the "weekend in the office" part?

  • In a large Dutch oven, fry the bacon until crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels. Let cool, chop, and set aside.

SERIOUS bacon.

a fitting first task.

  • Over medium heat, add the carrot, celery and onion to the pan drippings in the Dutch oven and sauté for 7 minutes; add the garlic and sauté for an additional 60 seconds, stirring constantly. Season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste.

tried out my new mandolin and promptly took off my manicure.

also broke in the new garlic press. this thing is a WORKHORSE. thanks manfriend 🙂

  • Add 2 cans of beans, bay leaf and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the carrots and celery are soft.

now we're cooking.

you're so pretty.

  • Uncover and remove the bay leaf. Using a potato masher or an immersion blender, partially mash the bean mixture until it thickens slightly. Stir in the last can of beans, parsley and bacon. Taste and re-season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, if needed. Enjoy.

Yum! On the side, I sliced (much more successfully) some leftover yukon golds, tossed ’em in salt, shallot pepper, a little cayenne, and baked at 400 until cooked through and browned. Then, because I was feeling frisky and had a new microplane, I microplaned some parm on top and broiled until cheese bubbled. No recipe. Just culinary brilliance.

let’s get smashed

I made these little tots on Sunday for our thanksgiving celebration. They were FANTASTIC.  I was surprised how creamy they came out, despite a total lack of butter. Oh, but well the fact that the main ingredient in the dressing is BACON GREASE, that probably helped round things out.

This recipe takes a cue from German potato salads that have a vinegar base, but by reducing it through the deglazing process softens the flavor to just give it a little tinge of tang.

The bowl was scraped clean by the end of our meal, if that’s any indication of how they went over.   Add this to  your Thanksgiving menu STAT.

 

Bacon Smashed Potatoes
Gourmet November 2009 (R.I.P)

 

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1/2 pound bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dill

Method

  • Steam potatoes in a large steamer rack set over boiling water, covered, until very tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
DSCN4500

peeled by HAND. if you ate these you should now appreciate them even more.

  • Meanwhile, cook bacon in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until crisp. Transfer bacon with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, reserving fat in skillet. (I did the bacon in 3 batches, wiping out the skillet each time and only reserving the fat from the final batch. no need to clog arteries completely solid)
DSCN4503

the tower of bacon

  • Add 2 tablespoons vinegar, sugar, and 3/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper to hot bacon fat, scraping up brown bits.
DSCN4505

be mindful not to directly inhale the vinegar steam. i speak from experience.

  • Transfer potatoes to a large bowl, reserving 1/2 cup steaming water. Add vinegar mixture to potatoes and smash with a potato masher to desired texture, adding reserved water if desired. Stir in dill, bacon, and vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste.

DSCN4543

Cooks’ note: Potatoes can be made 3 hours ahead and kept at room temperature. Reheat, covered, in a microwave or in a 300°F oven. (This is exactly what I did and it worked fantastic. Just stir the dill in at the very end.)

bacon blues

I threw together this little creation last week and am just getting around to posting it now, which is convenient for 2 reasons:

1. this weekend involved less “cooking” and more “carry out” and

2. it features BACON.  I have gotten a lot of grief from a few avid readers for my flagrant abuse of this holy pork product.  I carelessly discarded 5 slices of bacon after they roasted my little chicky to perfection and for that I am deeply, deeply sorry. I can only hope that the following picture can right just a little bit of my wrong.

DSCN4237

redemption in a frying pan.

So. Last week was crazy busy and I found myself needing to work out, bake 2 batches of pumpkin bars, bang out some laundry, and clean my entire apartment all in one evening. Oh and I should probably eat. First the workout went out the window, but luckily I still got some upper-body exercises in thanks to the rock-hard butter I cut into the pumpkin crust.  Next I began the mental tour of my food supply: leftover chicken…that fish is definitely not good…blue cheese…bacon…oh mozzerella!…pickles (no)…wait a minute! I bought the cheese so I would make pizza dough…why don’t I just BUY pizza dough? And there’s bacon and there’s chicken….DONE. Away we go. Bacon, cooked.

DSCN4243

onions, softened.

DSCN4244

all my little soldiers marching toward their fate in my belly.

DSCN4245

found some great whole wheat mediterranean flat bread at Whole Foods.

DSCN4251

toppings galore!

DSCN4253

cheese me.

DSCN4263

400 degrees....mmm I think it was 10 minutes or so.

Fantastic. Easy-as-(pizza) pie dinner for one (Ok 2…I made another one to bring for lunch the next day). I used spicy tomato sauce which went great with the sweet onions, juicy chicken, and salty bacon (DID I MENTION THE BACON?!).  It didn’t get super crunchy in the middle, so next time I wouldn’t use a cookie sheet..just put him in there bare-back.

And in closing, I want to reiterate my sincerest apologies for my previous pork abuse. The bacon omelet Manfriend whipped up last week would have brought  you to your knees and a tear to your eye. Bacon has a special place in my heart and my home and I swear here-to-fore to treat it with the utmost respect.