Archive | February, 2012

Bacon, Eggs and Pasta!

23 Feb

I won’t call it carbonara because that would make it non authentic and we hate that (I think?). I added peas for a needed touch of green, sweetness and balance to the otherwise creamy indulgence. I did not make the pasta but would like to one of these days. You know, when I’m not lazy and don’t have to work.

4 servings (or 3 if you are very hungry. I’m not judging.)

1/2 pound long pasta (I typically use pappardelle for this dish, I like the texture of the wide noodles with creamy sauces)

4 pieces of bacon (My prefered bacon is the Black Forest from Wellshire Farms. So good!  This is sold in bulk at Whole Foods.)

3 egg yolks

1/2 cup milk, half and half or heavy cream (it doesn’t matter. you like saucy or extra creamy?)

1 cup frozen peas

1/4 pecorino romano. I highly recommend you buy a chunk of the actual cheese. That pregrated crap isn’t worth my money. If it’s too strong for you by parmigiano or a hard gouda if you want to get really crazy!

Cook the pasta according to directions.  Chop the bacon into little pieces and fry them up. When they get crunchy, add the cream and peas. Meanwhile whisk together the yolks and cheese, and when the pasta is done slowly add about 1/3 cup of salted starchy pasta water (you do salt your pasta right?). This tempers the eggs to help prevent scrambling.

Add the pasta to your creamy bacon goodness to several minutes to absorb, then remove from the heat and introduce your eggs. Yum!!

Chicken Pot Chicken Pot Chicken Pot Pieeee

19 Feb

Not very attractive, but oh so delicious.

I spent an hour discussing the glories of Chicken Pot Pie on on here, and then for some reason WordPress managed to erase all my content when I hit the publish button. So I have lost my gusto for this post. Perhaps I will fix it tomorrow.

Mushrooms and Plans Reworked

15 Feb

Mushrooms and Plans Reworked.

Beer and Chicken, Redux

14 Feb

My second favorite thing about making roast chicken, after crunchy skin, is the versatility of left over chicken.  Thanks to inspiration from Mrs. Schwarts on Tasty Kitchen, I decided to buffalo it up, and I had a 10 minute comfort food feast.

I’m holding out for a better camera, so bare with me.  In the meantime, I present pulled buffalo chicken sandwiches with blue cheese celery slaw.

Slaw:

1-2 cups chopped celery (how crunchy do you like it?)

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup mayo

1/2 gorgonzola piccante (or buttermilk blue, or roquefort, or whatever you find that is stinky)*

Add all four ingredients and mix well, set aside.

*If you don’t like blue cheese, and trust me I have BEEN there, you can substitute feta. It has a nice sharpness that will give a different flavor but the same kind of effect on the slaw.  You can also make the slaw without cheese, and save some calories using nonfat greek yogurt instead of sour cream and mayo.

Here is my confession: I forgot to pay attention to my measurements. But the thing with buffalo is that you only need one thing: Frank’s Hot Sauce. Use liberally until your chicken is orange and yummy and spicy. I added two tablespoons of butter and a little bit of ketchup to make the sauce a little more velvety in texture.

Finish with a tasty sandwich bun, my personal favorite that I cannot escape, the Macrina Brioche Buns, and a beer. Tonight I am drinking Leavenworth’s Alt, a crisp ale reminiscent of Alsace, clean air, and a refreshing rinse for spicy food.

 

 

Beer and Chicken

12 Feb

I love my cast iron skillet. It can get really hot, it can go in the oven, and it conducts heat really well even with my crappy coil electric stove. Someday, I imagine, I will have a real gas stove that cook food evenly and perfectly and makes fire and shit and won’t have hot spots…. oh sorry, tangent.  Cast iron skillet. Yes. My favorite thing to do with a cast iron skillet, other than make pancakes is to pan roast, because you can sear chicken skin side down and make super crunchy, make an outstanding pan sauce, then throw the whole in the oven to finish.  The result is carrots cooked in glorious chicken fat and super juicy roast chicken with a crunch to it.

And a hearty meal like this on a chilly winter night would not be complete without a nice tasty beer, which I also use for pan saucery. Yes, that’s a verb.  I had a recent purchase in the fridge that I thought would do nicely.

This was a new beer to me but a typical IPA from the Northwest I knew would have that grassy, hoppy golden character that would bring a nice complement to my organic free range chicken and roasted carrots.

First, the beer: Crisp, refreshing, hoppy but not bitter, subtle grapefruity citrus notes, not too fizzy, goes down nicely. Thank you to the folks at Laurelwood for making it possible.

Second, the chicken. I believe whole heartedly that chicken should be purched only as a whole bird, cooked on the bone and have skin that makes a sound.  I know that’s not possible, and I do buy chicken breasts from time to time. But in my heart, I know it isn’t right.

Pan roasted chicken with carrots and onions

1 whole chicken, chopped into bits (you can have your butcher do this if you shop at a good store, other wise bust out your good knife and follow this awesome tutorial.  I of course totally bastardise this but it is best practice to cut it up properly.)

1 onion, sliced thinly

6 carrots (or more if you love carrots, and everyone does when they are roasted in chicken drippings)

1/4 cup tasty tasty beer

1 cast iron skillet

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Preheat cast iron skillet on medium high heat.  Chop your veggies and pat the chicken skin dry with a paper towel. Add the chicken pieces skin side downand cook for 4-6 minutes, until the skin is golden brown. Remove the chicken and toss in your carrots and onions. Cook for another  few minutes (their should be significant sizzle, if not turn the heat up a bit) then add the beer and then return the chicken, browned side up to the skillet.

Throw that sucker in the oven for 40 minutes. Enjoy.

How to be More Vegan, IMO

10 Feb

How to be More Vegan, IMO.

How to be More Vegan, IMO

10 Feb

Being a vegan is not my thing. My love affair with butter is an embarrassing second to Paula Deen’s (which is really humbling, because I hate Paula Deen). I’m also quite attached to all things pork.  However, my commitment to eating ethically also tells me that consuming huge amount of meat and dairy is not good for my long term health plan or for the environment. I’d rather spend more money on a smaller quantity of ethically produced, very delicious meats and dairy products. So I buy butter that costs seven dollars a pound, and use less. I buy less than 2 pounds of meat a week for myself and my husband. I’ve more or less given up drinking milk, but I’m not going to tell you how much cheese, cream and sour cream I buy. It’s my last food indulgence. But I do try and be conscious of my consumption. I try to eat at least half of my meals without meat and a few meals a week as vegan friendly. This also encourages me to eat more vegetable and whole grains, which everyone can use.

The push to be vegan, popularized recently Whole Foods’ “plant strong” initiative or Bill Clinton‘s miraculous weight loss, is really a way of simplifying things we all should do to improve the condition of our collective health. A vegan diet CAN make you healthier, CAN improve the state of our food system and CAN help you lose weight, but so can being an omnivore.  You just have to use your brain and think about how to eat and how to spend your money. The vegan thing is not for me. And not because I just loooove meat. Because I am a human and I don’t like restrictions, nor do I like buying produce from other countries. I also uphold the fundamental belief that we are biologically designed to eat animals and that God put them on Earth for our consumption. Also, being a vegan is really expensive if you also want to cut out refined sugar and oil out of the picture, which you really should outside of a little cooking oil for things like tomatoes or other vegetables that give you fat soluble vitamins.

But the diet craze continues, and it’s not a surprise.  We suck at eating. Marketing has made believe that food should be cheap, greasy, meaty, cheesy and full of protein and calories.  Beyond that, the weight loss industry makes us believe that simply by consuming low fat foods or low calorie packaged snacks that we can achieve optimum health. This, of course, is all complete bullshit.  Just remember that anytime anyone is telling you what to eat it’s because they’ve found a way to make money doing it. They don’t actually care about your health. Cynical much? Perhaps, but the more you learn about nutrition and weight loss the real answers are more or less free. Education, discipline, keeping track of what you put in your fat face, exercising, etc.  It’s hard, and don’t get me wrong I am not thin by any means but I have successfully lost weight after trying many diet plans, and the only one that worked was calorie counting with exercise. Most people who have lost weight and kept it off will tell you that.

But maybe you are a vegan because of your love of animals, or believe it’s the best way to support the environment. I personally believe the best way to support the environment is to eat what is produced locally and in season, but I get it if you think your Chilean avocado is saving the air from too much methane gas or something. Everyone has their own ideas, and I honestly don’t know who is right on this one.  My conclusion is to just eat more vegetables, and if you need a strategy, I like to eat vegetarian for either breakfast or dinner, vegan for lunch, and omnivore for either breakfast or dinner. I like to eat eggs in the morning because they give me more energy than oatmeal or cereal, but other people have the opposite experience, so it’s also good to know what your body specifically responds to.

So, if you want to be more vegan, either for health, ethical, or political reasons, I humbly suggest these ideas:

  • Stock your pantry with staples: quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, vegetable stock, canned beans and tomatoes (unsalted if you can, organic if you can)
  • Make a meal plan every week, make a grocery list organized by store sections and stick to your plan! I like to use Tasty Kitchen or Food.com for recipe inspiration. You can filter by dietary needs in your searches.,
  • Don’t eat too much processed crap- ie: fake meat and seafood, fake cheese, yogurt etc. Think about what needs to happen to a soy bean to turn it into that crap. Read the ingredients on those labels… do they look healthy to you?
  • Learn your substitutes. You can replace almost any animal product with multiple plant options in any recipe. Here are some of mine:

Substitutes:

Meat- mushrooms, lentils, tofu (sparingly, this falls into the processed crap category), zucchini, eggplant, black beans,

Cheese- roasted cauliflower, chopped nuts, nutritional yeast, cashew or almond butter

Butter- organic palm or coconut oil, vegetable stock, vinegar, wine (alcohol, like fat, is good conductor of flavor in cooking), fruit preserves

Smoked Meats- Try cooking with Lapsang Souchong or Russian Caravan tea, or season foods with Liquid Smoke. or vegan Worcestershire sauce.

Cream- Coconut milk, cashew butter, pureed potatoes or other root vegetables, stock, tomatoes, almond milk

I would also suggest signing up for a CSA, a service that delivers a surprise box of local produce to you each week or every other week. This will encourage you to branch out and eat vegetable that you other wise wouldn’t think to eat. Have fun, and play with your food!

Quinoa Salad with Kale and Grapefruit (The occassional optimum awesomeness: tasty AND healthy)

2 cups cooked quinoa, according to package directions (tip: cook your grains in stock for more flavor!)

1 bunch dino kale, stemmed and chopped

1 bunch curly leaf kale, stemmed and chopped

1/4 cup vegetable stock

1 grapefruit

3 tablespoons walnut oil

 

Preheat a nonstick pan on medium high heat, add the kale and stock. Let the kale get wilty, then toss with the quinoa.

To supreme a grapefruit, check out this video, then assure that your knife is VERY sharp. Sharp knives are your friend. I cannot stress that enough. Keep. Your. Knife. Sharp! Do it! And buy a decent one, for chrissakes. Then, supreme your grapefruit, and squeeze out the juice from the remaining pulp. Add the grapefruit segments to the quinoa, then mix the juice and walnut oil together. If you need more liquid, add either stock, vinegar or more citrus juice to the salad. Enjoy your tasty lunch or snack!

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