Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Burrata How I Love Thee

Let me count the ways...

with gray salt, cracked pepper, extra virgin olive oil

melted on a hamburger with roasted tomato, rocket and crispy prosciutto

on crostini with roasted red bell peppers and basil

a la caprese

fresh heirloom tomatoes and torn basil

atop a bed of penne

with pancetta, rocket, and tomato on toasted ciabatta (BLT ish)


in my belly

PS To make crostini, cut a baguette on the bias, brush on olive oil, sprinkle with S&P and bake for 10 minutes at 400 F. Delicioso e semplice.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Yet another beautiful YELLOW food

First egg yolks, now CORN! Love it. 'Tis the season, so go get some. As pictured in my SMORES post, I like to grill corn still in its husk. I don't like rubbery blackened corn. Keeps it crunchy al dente, and also keeps the carcinogens in check if you're worried about that sort of thing.

I like my corn raw if it's super sweet, but one of my favs is sauteeing it in butter with leeks, seasoned with salt and pepper, then tossed with chiffonade of basil. A perfect summer side dish to grilled fish or chicken.

Come and get it!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Iced Green Tea

Nothing refreshes like iced green tea.

Aerated water, brought to just before the boiling point.

Matcha powder.

Electrical whisk.

Wish you could have a sip,

Monday, July 23, 2007

20 Minute Meal--Eat THAT Rachael Ray!!!

Sorry Rachael...I'm competitive, and this quick fix is both healthy and pretty on the plate.

On the lunch menu:

Pan-seared center cut pork loin w/ a shallot and white wine reduction
Spinach w/ pignoli and cranberries

STEP ONE: Dry off your pork cuts completely. (This reduction of moisture ensures a nice golden crust, but you already knew that because of an earlier blog and if not shame on you.) Pat on crushed black pepper, freshly ground of course. Sprinkle on some gray salt. Drizzle a hot skillet with EVOO (as Rachael likes to call it) and a pat of unsalted butter if you can afford the pounds. Get out that bottle of buttery Chardonnay you drank from last night, or this morning if you're a wine-o like myself.

STEP TWO: Pan fry your cuts for 4-5 minutes per side. Don't play with them either. Let them sear to perfection. While this is going on, wash and dry your spinach and heat a second skillet with some more EVOO. Add some pignolis until slightly toasted, then add your spinach and dried cranberries. Wilt spinach. This should take just a few minutes. Remove from heat.

STEP THREE: By now your pork is perfect, so transfer onto a plate and let rest--cover with foil. Chop some shallots and add to the pan (or you could've done this in step two if you're a serious multi-tasker). Cook for a minute or two, then add a couple splashes of your white wine. Reduce a bit, and off the heat add a pat of butter you big fatty.

STEP FOUR: Enjoy your somewhat healthy lunch with the same wine you cooked with. I promise this meal in my photo wasn't nuked for the picture. Everything should be perfectly hot. Always cook with wine you would drink. ALWAYS. And please please please never buy that "COOKING WINE." All it is is oversalted cheap wine.

STEP FIVE: Comment on my blog to thank me for helping you get lucky with that chic you were trying to impress with your cooking know-how.

Have a bite for yourself,

PS Next time try fennel-encrusted pork chops! YUM-O.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Chocolate Makes Everything Better

There are two things that make the world go round--money and chocolate, but not necessarily in that order. This morning for breakfast I made banana bread. Bad idea. If you're hungry, make eggs and toast. By the time it was finished I was basically cramped over with hunger pangs, but it was worth it. You know why? Because I added dark chocolate chunks that's why!!

There are a bizillion recipes for banana bread out there, but you gotta own it. Using any standard banana bread recipe, make it your own. I like to add coconut and dark chocolate to mine, and even if you're not a fan of coconut, trust me on this one. Just like the carrot cake, the coconut adds just enough texture and interest, but doesn't overwhelm the bread.

Also, I like my banana bread to be extra moist, so instead of mashing the bananas to the consistency of mashed potatoes I use a fork and just break it up into small chunks. Add to your wet ingredients (sometimes I use buttermilk, but this morning I used Greek yogurt), making sure they are at room temperature, and fold in your sifted dry ingredients. As always, DO NOT OVERMIX. There's nothing worse than developing the gluten...

Wish you could have a bite and a sip of my tea latte,

Monday, July 16, 2007

Who Cut the Cheese???

PHOTO: My lunch today. Not pictured: crostini drizzled with olive oil, sea salt and cracked black pepper lightly toasted to perfection.

So while in Aspen, we ate lunch at a cute place called The Wild Fig, where we ordered charcuterie and queso (and of course a nice cab, which later proved to be a bad idea as we hiked Hanging Lake). Yum anyway. What I liked best, however, was how they served the cheese. If you want to give your platter a more rustic look, opt to NOT cut it into those rectangles. Besides, it's rude to cut the cheese in public.

Rather, using the point of your 10-inch uber sharp chef's knife (or whatever inferior knife you may have) break it off into chunks. In particular, pecorino, parmeggiano reggiano, or a blue cheese will work nicely utilizing this technique. Make little piles, and pile up the prosciutto, dried figs, basil leaves, walnuts, or whatever else you have on hand.

Also, having your cheese at room temperature is a must--just like how you should never refrigerate your tomatoes, but I'll save that for another day.

Enjoy your gorgeous cheese and meat platter!

Wish you could have a bite,

Saturday, July 14, 2007


I just got back from camping in the Rockies, and what better way to end a day of roughin' it than to roast up some smores? OK, just because you're in the middle of nowhere doesn't mean you can't kick it up a notch. No, not by adding some essence of Emeril, (although that would certainly kick up those burgers.)

I'm talking about dipping your marshmallows in some Grand Marnier before roasting them. Oh my goodness. Maui Wowie. Delicioso nervoso. Ginormously good. Did you know that "ginormous" is officially a word in the Merriam-Webster dictionary?

So next time you go camping...scratch that...next time you're making smores over the BBQ, and heaven forbid you make them in the oven, try this one out. Impress your friends. Just don't sear your eyebrows--or theirs.

And one more thing for the perfectly roasted marshmallow--indirect heat. (Ignore the picture where it looks like very direct heat. NOTE: I wasn't holding this marshmallow, OBVIOUSLY.) Also, here's a pic of me grilling corn, but I think I blinked in this one...

Wish you could have a bite,

Thursday, July 12, 2007

RED VELVET, carpet or dessert?

Red velvet and that little boy's smile. Red velvet with that slow southern style. A new religion that'll bring you to your knees. Red velvet if you please. Or black velvet. Whatever. I never know the lyrics to songs.

Who invented red velvet? Who would think to ever add vinegar to a cake? Sounds strange, but apparently this results in a chemical reaction with the baking powder and buttermilk which deepens the signature red color of the cake. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

Forgive me for not making this a triple-tiered cake. I only have two springform cake pans.

Need I say more?

PS For more on this cake, check out this NY Times article.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

What the PHO?

pho [ /fə/ or /fʌ/ ] , rhymes with huh?

noun: the best damn Vietnamese noodle dish in the galaxy.

If you've never had pho in a cafeteria-like setting with servers who actually speak Vietnamese, and where the cafe sua da (Vietnamese iced coffee made with sweetened condensed milk) comes in individual filters for you with a big glass of ice on the side, then you've never had pho. OK, sure, there are some pretty cool pho cafes and Vietnamese restaurants that serve this culinary delight, but unless you've gone to a no frills cafe, it just isn't the same.

I ain't talkin' bout no Korean pho (no offense to my Korean friends) where you can eat it at all hours of the day. True pho is like chicken soup for the soul...except that it's made with beef and lightly toasted spices including cloves, star anise, and sometimes Saigon cinnamon (I prefer to leave it out). The broth should be clear, not cloudy--an indicator of inferior quality. Another indicator of true pho are the accoutrements: Thai basil, mung bean sprouts, limes, saw leaf lettuce, mint, onions, Sriracha hot sauce, hoison sauce. I personally don't add hoison. And go easy on the hot sauce--it'll definitely sneak up on you.

So next time you have pho, ask yourself, "Is this really pho? Do the servers speak Vietnamese? Are the appropriate accoutrements present? Am I sweating uncontrollably?"

Pho that makes you sweat is H-O-T. Take a blind date to have pho, see what happens, maybe videotape it, and email me.

Wish you could have a bowl,

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Lemongrass Vodka

I just made some lemongrass vodka. I'm cooking up some PHO BO this weekend so I figured some "exotic Asian" cocktails would accompany the spring rolls quite nicely. It's so easy to make...I think the hardest part about making it is finding fresh lemongrass. What I do, then, is buy a ton of lemongrass whenever I'm down in Little Saigon and freeze it whole. Works like a charm. That way, whenever I'm in the mood for lemongrass beef over rice vermicelli noodles served with "nuoc mam" on the side, I can make it in a snap (sort of not really.)

To make this delicious vodka, just infuse vodka with freshly chopped lemongrass and steep for at least 24 hours and up to a week. Another way of adding a hint of this refreshing herb to your cocktail if you haven't prepared in advance is steeping it in your simple syrup, which is equal parts sugar to water, heated through until the sugar dissolves.

I think I'll make a lemongrass martini using the vodka, lime juice, and a touch of simple syrup, garnished with a kaffir leaf or piece of lemongrass. Or maybe I'll make a mojito with the vodka, freshly grated ginger, and muddled mint leaves. The possibilities are endless...

Try something exotic. Like I said months ago, lemongrass is the new lavendar.


PS Thanks for the mason jars, opus2.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Not just your every day CARROT CAKE

Carrot cake is one of those hit or miss desserts. It always looks and sounds SO good, but hardly ever delivers. Why? Why?

I don't know, that's why I'm asking! So, I never order it anymore, unless it's one of the offerings at a really really shi-shi restaurant. I just make it at home for myself and others. And I must admit, this last cake I made was pretty awesome. Just look at the picture. And yes, this one tasted as good as it looks. I'm sure it doesn't hurt that it has 1 1/2 cups of canola oil in the cake and 2 sticks of butter in the frosting.

I think the secret to a moist carrot cake is combining the oil and the eggs until completely emulsified. I use a food processor for that. I also double sift the dry ingredients and fold them into the carrots, shredded coconut, and crushed, drained pineapple. No raisins or nuts. Then I barely stir in the wet ingredients.

I don't know. I'm no professional baker. Just a professional snob.

Wish you could have a bite. Seriously, though, don't you?