Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Incredible, edible EGG!

Maybe I read Green Eggs and Ham too many times as a kid, or maybe I'm just a simple Midwestern girl who can't escape her roots, but I love a good egg.  I also think that there's something really beautiful about a perfectly cooked egg.  Obviously, I'm not alone, a lot of ink has been spilled in the pursuit of this goal.

A perfect frittata (and even more perfect bacon)
I've already covered the perfect soft-boiled egg.  It's a beautiful thing, especially once you master peeling the suckers!  I prefer this to doing a poached egg, mostly because you can achieve the same flavor without making gross albumin water.  I have successfully made a poached egg in the microwave.  They aren't quite as good as restaurant poached eggs, but they're not bad.

For a lazy person's poached egg, fill a mug 1/2 full of water and put it in the microwave for 60 - 120 seconds (depending on the strength of your microwave).  When the water is steaming really well, crack an egg in, using a toothpick to poke a tiny hole in the yolk (trust me) so that the egg doesn't explode in your microwave.  Put the egg back into the microwave for another 30-60 seconds (again depending on the strength of your microwave and how runny you like your yolks). Fish the egg out of the mug with a fork or slotted spoon.  I like to let it air dry a second before I pop it onto really buttery toast. Delish!

This method takes a little trial and error, but once you have the times exact for your microwave, it's easy-peasy.

The frittata was made for people like me, who have let vegetables get past their peak during the week and need a "kitchen sink" opportunity to use a bunch up before they go bad.  I have yet to taste a bad combination of ingredients, though I'm sure if you tried you could come up with something. 

A basic breakdown of frittata ratios:

A 10 inch non-stick frying pan that can go in the oven under the broiler
1 tsp butter to coat the bottom of the pan
6 eggs, scrambled (add a dollop of milk/cream if that's how you like your eggs, I think it makes them fluffier)
An onion-like vegetable (leeks, green onions, shallots, whatever needs to go) chopped (about 1/2 cup)
meat and/or mushrooms and/or a starch like potato (about 3/4 cup)
a green vegetable (broccoli, spinach, kale, asparagus) (about 3/4 cup)
anything else that needs eating, tomatoes, peppers, etc.
a cheesy product (the picture is goat cheese *drool*) (1/2 - 3/4 cup)

Heat up the pan over medium-high heat, preheat the broiler on low.  Whisk the eggs in a bowl and set aside. put in the butter, saute the onion until translucent, add your other ingredients and saute for 3-5 minutes (reserving cheese until last to be sprinkled over the top before it goes in the oven).  Pour your eggs in and stir with a rubber spatula for about 3 minutes or until the bottom is set. Then pop it into the oven for 3-4 minutes (until the top is set and the edges brown).  Slide it out onto a plate and enjoy!

Note: if you prefer your eggs cooked, but not browned, place the frittata into a 375 degree oven to set, rather than under the broiler.  I know some folks don't like a crispy egg, and I support you.

Now, if you're up for an adventure, I want you to try this perfectly fried egg from chef José Andrés and report back.  This is definitely not for the pale egg crowd, this is about as crispy-brown as it gets!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Wonton wrappers, cheeky little devils!

So, I bought a package of wonton wrappers at the grocery store.  At Sprouts, where I bought them, they were in the section with the bean sprouts, lettuce and mushrooms.

I bought them because I couldn't get crab rangoon with actual crab in Tucson.  I wanted to make my own version, with tons of lump crab, lots of flavor, and make it healthy (duh!).  Well, what I learned is that you can typically have flavor or healthy, but not both.

My first attempt saw me folding all 4 corners of the wonton wrappers up into little origami squares, spraying them with cooking spray and baking them in the oven.  And it was, in a word: disaster.  In 2 words: not delicious, 3 words: a real flop, and 4 words: not my best work. So, I tried again, abandoning the healthy baking method in favor of delicious hot oil.

Here is what you'll need:

  • wonton wrappers (12 or so of the 3"x3")
  • cream cheese (or neufchatel, whatever floats your boat), 3 oz. at room temperature
  • 3 oz lump crab meat (I got the good stuff from the fridge section, but canned works too!)
  • mayonnaise, 2 Tbs.
  • green onions, 2 chopped
  • sriracha, 1 tsp.(to taste)
  • Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp. 
  • Old Bay (optional), 1 tsp.
  • vegetable oil, 1 c. heated to about 350 degrees in a small saucepan  (if you don't have a thermometer, sprinkle a drop of water in the oil to see if it spits back at you). 
  • a little dish of water to seal the wonton wrappers

Mix the cream cheese, crab, mayonnaise, onion, sriracha, Worcestershire, old bay together in a bowl.  Spoon a teaspoon full onto the center of the wonton wrapper, then fold it in half to that the wrapper forms a triangle.  Seal the edges of the wrapper with water, making sure it's sealed well, without any air pockets inside. Once you have sealed all the wrappers up, place them into the hot oil 2 at a time, watch them closely and flip them over halfway through cooking so that they brown evenly on each side.  I'd say it was about 45 seconds per side, give or take.  Fish them out with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.  It took about 10 minutes to fry the whole batch.  You can do it faster in a bigger pan with more oil, but I feel like it's a waste of oil for me, personally.

From here, you can eat them all by themselves if you'd like or with some sweet and sour sauce.  But I whipped up a quick sauce from stuff in my fridge:

Whisk in a bowl:

1/4 c. rice vinegar
2 T. water
2 T. ketchup
2 T. soy sauce
1 T. brown sugar
sriracha to taste

Once you're done, sit in front of the TV and snack mindlessly, or, you know, share with a friend and supplement with a salad if that's what floats your boat!
They ended up looking a little something like this!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

An ode to leftovers. Also, what the heck is umami?

You'll be happy to know I've been enjoying corned beef hash for breakfast the last couple days and I may like it even more than the original dinner...well, maybe.  I'm actually a big fan of a big bowl of everything mixed together, rather than the more traditional dining plate with entree and sides.  That bowl of leftover Thanksgiving, with everything piled in at once?  Divine.

That got me thinking, why are so many dishes better on the second day?  What happens in the fridge to make my food even more delicious?  I found some of the answers in this article from Forbes.  It seems that your taste buds are better able to experience a dish as a whole, once their flavors have intermingled for a longer period of time. So, rather than tasting, tomato, onion and cilantro in pico de gallo, I taste a new flavor when they've had a chance to sit for a day or two.  A flavor greater than the sum of its parts.

Additionally, giving a dish time to sit around and mingle, means we are better able to experience the umami flavor. What's umami you ask?  Well, it's something you can talk about with foodies to sound snooty. Additionally, it means 'yummy' in Japanese.  Thirdly, it's the fifth taste: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami.

Chefs, scientists and foodies alike have a hard time defining umami, but they know it's the experience of tasting glutamate.  Mono sodium glutamate (MSG) is a man-made form.  In nature, mushrooms, soy sauce, meat, Parmesan,etc. all have glutamate that our taste-buds experience differently than the other 4 tastes. I like to think of it as flavorful, savory and delicious.  In a word, great!

So, this is all happening in your fridge with your leftovers.  Who knew?

That means when I pulled my corned beef, cabbage and potatoes out to make a hash, it couldn't help but be delicious.

On day 1, I cooked my hash with a little paprika and black pepper and topped it off with a perfectly soft-boiled egg (please ignore the one in the photograph, I accidentally cracked that one when I put it in the water and it got a little close to hard-boiled for my taste).   Day 2, I was in a hurry, so I chopped up my bits and pieces and threw them in a pan with a tablespoon of whole grain mustard and a dash of cayenne.  My stars, was it good (Yep, I said "My stars"). 

And then, tonight, I made a cabbage soup from the remaining odds and ends. I chopped up an onion, and a cup of baby carrots and sauteed them in a Tbs. of olive oil until the onions were translucent. I put in a tsp of black pepper, a dash of cayenne and a bay leaf.

 Then I added 1/4 head of cabbage, chopped (leftover from corned beef and cabbage), the remaining corned beef, chopped ( I had about 1/2 a cup) and a 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes and 2 c. water.  I then simmered until the carrots were tender (about 30 min)

It ended up tasting like a deconstructed cabbage roll, it was delish!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sláinte! Or, a corned beef and cabbage breakdown.

I know you've all been on the edges of your seats wondering how my St. Patrick's Day feast turned out.   I mean, as of today I have at least 2 readers who aren't related to me! Well, see for yourself!  It was delicious!  I decided on cabbage 2 ways, the Martha Stewart way AND the Kalyn's Kitchen way. 

The Martha Stewart way just had me cook the cabbage slowly in the juice from the roast.  Delicious, but it did make my apartment smell a little fart-y, not gonna lie.  Also, if you aren't using crock pot liners, your life may be incomplete.  Seriously. 

The Kalyn's Kitchen way was my favorite.  Obviously, I couldn't follow the recipe exactly, that would be too boring. 


So, I added garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes into the mixture I brushed over the cabbage.  It gave the cabbage a spicy, smoky flavor that went really well with the lemon. 

 I roasted the cabbage in the oven, I also roasted the veggies and corned beef on a broiling pan, the fat cap on the roast hadn't completely rendered, so it was the best of both worlds.  Everything was tender and moist from the slow cooker, but had the crispy edges I love!

Happy St. Paddy's Day to you, I'm gonna go track down some Smithwick's

Adventure: A visit to Cubs Park and a tutorial on proper Chicago dog preparation.

I went to see the Cubbies play at their new park in Mesa, AZ this weekend and it was great! The field is brand new and the amenities are beautiful.  My college's alumni group set up an event in the park's rooftop terrace.  It's called Eighteen | 76 and is meant to mimic the rooftop clubs at Wrigley Field.  When you walk in you have the opportunity to put a customized message on the replica marquis, which I chose not to do because I didn't feel like waiting in line, there was a long one even an hour before game time.

The field itself is beautiful and there was plenty of sunbathing going on in the outfield.  The structure under the score board is Eighteen | 76.

 In the outfield, you'll find a wiffle ball park, a trolley and a rotating cast of food trucks to choose from. Normally, that's where you'd find me, but I was determined to try the concession stand's Chicago dog.  My  reaction?  A resounding meh.  They were already waiting under heat lamps when I ordered, they came with pico de gallo, a pickle spear and peppers.  The pickle and the peppers were spot on, the poppy seed bun and celery seed were present, but there was no wedges of tomato, no giant pieces of onion, no day-glo relish.  I was able to add my own mustard and pickle relish (no ketchup, obviously) and it came close.  But the bun disintegrated as I ate and I finished disappointed.  I should've held out and hit up the Portillo's down the road on my way home.

Now they know how to make a Chicago dog..and a heck of an Italian beef sandwich. 

St. Paddy's recipe roundup!

I'm not usually one to cook a giant roast, I think it's because I live alone and that much meat feels very much like overkill (ha!).  But I did cook a corned beef in my crock pot overnight to enjoy this evening for St. Patrick's Day.  I mean, it's not every day we celebrate a man who was not Irish for driving nonexistent snakes from Ireland.  I'm practically required to eat corned beef and cabbage.

I used Martha Stewart's recipe to make my corned beef, and when I get home I will cook the cabbage to her instruction...or I may go rogue. This recipe for roasted cabbage with lemon from Kalyn's Kitchen looks amazing and might bring a smokiness to the meal (and some much needed acidity).

If you're wondering what to do with your leftovers, this corned beef scalloped potato recipe from the San Francisco gate looks positively decadent, or you could go with the more traditional corned beef hash, a nice Reuben, corned beef cabbage rolls or even a corned beef eggs benedict.  I've also personally enjoyed a delicious Irish egg roll.  Or, just heat it up and eat corned beef and cabbage all over again.  It's hard to go wrong with a classic!

Éirinn go Brách!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Happy Pi Day!!!! Berry and Apple Sharlotka

For Pi day, I did not make a pie.  I'm contrary like that.  Instead, I was inspired by Deb Perelman* over at Smitten Kitchen.  She has a recipe for an Apple Sharlotka that looked delicious and like it would use up the past-their-prime grannie smith apples I had laying around.

*You're going to hear a lot about Deb, she's one of my favorite food bloggers

Of course, her recipe calls for 6 apples and after a little reconnaissance, I only had 5 apples that were fit for eating (one of them was on the cusp).  So, I decided to make a Berry and Apple Sharlotka.

You'll need:

An oven preheated to 350 degrees
A 9" spring form pan
Parchment Paper
nonstick spray or butter to grease
 5 apples peeled, cored and diced (mine were about 1/2" by 1/4 ")
1 c. frozen berries (or whatever else floats your boat!)
3 eggs
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. flour

Preheat the oven.  Put the parchment in the bottom of the spring form pan, then grease it and the sides really well (mine stuck a little). Then peel, core and dice up your apples and throw them right into the greased pan.  When you're done, mix in your berries, straight from the freezer. 

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together. Deb says: "Meanwhile, in a large bowl, using an electric mixer or whisk, beat eggs with sugar until thick and ribbons form on the surface of the beaten eggs."  I just beat mine with whisk until it started to thicken and my arm got tired. True story. Add your vanilla and cinnamon, then using a spoon or a rubber spatula incorporate the flour into the batter, trying not to over-mix it.

Pour the batter over the apples/berries in the pan and then using your spoon or spatula, get the batter worked down into the fruit. 

Pop it into the oven for about 55 minutes.  Then bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  This recipe is a little deceiving, because the fruit keeps things quite moist in there, so just remember it's not a cake. It's almost got a custard-y consistency on the inside.   Let it cool for a few minutes then pop it out of the pan.  Finish with powdered sugar (but only once you're ready to serve, because I did mine early and it just melted into the cake).  

Take it to your coworkers, because otherwise you'll eat it yourself.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Manifesto

 In the past few weeks, I've been driving my Facebook family nuts, posting images of dishes I've been testing.
 Everything from homemade crab and asparagus ravioli, to muffins, to tamales, to a perfect soft-boiled egg.
 I've decided to start writing about my adventures.
Because what the world needs more than anything is another personal food blog.  I know, I hear you clamoring. I'm pretty sure this is the first time someone has had this idea; I'm basically a genius!

In addition to my food/drink adventures, I also reserve the right to point you towards other stuff I find interesting (OSIFI), whether it be an Internet video of an adorable little girl singing with her dad, or an article about Anna Kendrick's Oscar Experience.  It's going to be bonkers/bananas/amazeballs.  In that order.