My sister has this tendency to concoct crazy grilled cheese sandwiches using every single cheese she can find in the fridge. No matter how disgusting the combination is, I’ll still eat it. It’s just fun, you know? It’s like a surprise or something. Even though I like the occasional surprise sandwich, I do prefer non-surprise sandwiches a little more.
I made this grilled cheese sandwich for today’s recipe post but this isn’t just any grilled cheese sandwich recipe. This thing has spinach pesto, spinach leaves, and avocado in it.
Absinthe is anise-flavored spirit made with green anise, fennel, wormwood, and a bunch of other plants. The natural green coloring from the plants’ chlorophyll gives it a greenish color (absinthe blanche does exist though), and it has a really bad rep of making people hallucinate and do really bad things. Because of the bad rep (and a bunch of other historical stuff that was happening during that time), it was eventually banned in multiple countries, including the U.S., around the turn of the 20th century. The U.S. finally unbanned it in 2007 after 95 years. If you get a chance, you should read this article from Punch.
My first experience with absinthe was in early 2008 and I hated it right away. However, I was really enamored with the tradition of absinthe consumption: fancy spoons, sugar cubes, pretty glasses…the works. So fancy! In time, I learned to tolerate it in cocktails, especially as a wash, but I understand why it’s not something you would keep in stock in your mini bar at home: it’s expensive and you normally only need a little bit of it in cocktails anyways. If you do buy a bottle, the stuff will probably last you for years. Hell, your great grandchildren might be drinking out of the same bottle. But besides drinking it, there’s gotta be other uses for it right?
Why, yes. Yes, there is! You can cook and bake with it too. One thing that I’ve been really curious about but haven’t had time to make was this absinthe cake David Lebovitz had posted on his website back in 2006. I’ve been dying to try it since then — that’s eight really long years!
I decided to turn his cake recipe into cupcakes so this happened:
One of the ingredients in his original recipe calls for pistachio OR almond meal. I went with almond and made my own (here’s a DIY recipe) thinking that the almond would compliment the absinthe better. I was going to finish these absinthe cupcakes with a vanilla buttercream instead of using the absinthe glaze he had because I had this gut feeling that I couldn’t deal with that much anise. It turns out I was right: the anise flavor in the cupcakes was just way too overwhelming for me so I decided to tone it down by slapping chocolate frosting on it instead.
I made this great brussels sprouts dish that I wanted to share but I had some trouble figuring out how to shoot it for this blog because of the monochrome coloring. So today you get this because I gave up:
It’s really delicious. You just have to trust me on this.
I had my first matambre, a South American dish meal roll, at Gunshow in Atlanta. Traditionally, it’s a flank steak with a bunch of vegetables and eggs rolled inside. What I particularly love about this dish is that beautiful surprise of colors on the inside once you cut into it. I also love the concept of hard boiled eggs in things — you know how it is.
I had this insane idea of making a Mondrian version of matambre: using quick pickled parsnips dyed blue, perfectly cut carrots, bacon strips and spinach leaves for the lines…you get the idea. Unfortunately, the whole rolling and folding process for this dish is not that easy so I decided to keep things fairly simple I gave up my super ambitious plans and made it the most basic way possible.
I’m still trying to figure out if this attempt was a fail or not because it isn’t as tightly rolled as the other matambres you see on the internet.
I’m going to be honest with you: I made this biscotti because a bag of chopped pecans was about to go bad. And you know how I feel about pecans…That’s why we have to add chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate to it.
One of the luxuries I had living in New York was the ability to buy fish and breakfast at Russ & Daughters. I loved a good lox & everything bagel for breakfast, and being able to have a little bit gravlax on a cracker as snack later on in the day. Obviously I couldn’t afford to live like that every day (I totally would if I could!) so one of the things I’ve been wanting to try was to cure my own gravlax.
Gravlax, lox, and smoked salmon are not the same thing even though they are sometimes marketed interchangeably — if you’re interested in understanding the differences, The Kitchn has a great guide to cured fish terms. The processes for each is different. When it comes to making gravlax, you’re pretty much curing raw salmon in a bed of dry seasonings and a lot of dill. Some recipes will call for a sprinkling of some sort of acid (like lemon juice) and some call for aquavit.
I really wanted to use aquavit for my gravlax but for some reason, I had a really hard time finding it so I used vodka from a local micro-distillery instead. ANorseman Vodka for a Nordic dish? Perfect.
I’m back. Sort of. I’m not even sure what I should say after that last post except thank you. I really wish I could say it in person, to everyone, because it means that much to me. I hope you’ll accept my eThanks.
One of the awesome perks we have at work is that we have our own cookbook library filled with food-related books, magazines, quarterlies, and newspapers. I just about died, I mean died, when the publication I requested officially came into the library today. What was it that I wanted so badly? That would be Cherry Bombe. I hope you guys get a chance to check it out because I loved the fashion-inspired food picture story photographed by Catherine Losing and styled by Iain Graham. Can you believe everything in this photo is edible?
I didn’t want to call these empanadas because I didn’t make my own empanada dough; I cheated with refrigerated biscuit dough. These baked things do embody the spirit of empanadas (bread stuffed with…things) so yeah, I guess they’re empanadas.
These empanadas are stuffed with Mexican chorizo, roasted red pepper, and potatoes. I wish I used fresh, good chorizo from the Mexican markets on Lake Street but instead, I settled for Costco chorizo because that’s what I had on hand. Try to get your hands on the good stuff, okay?
I’ve been doing a lot of experimentation lately with combining different grains and seeds with ground turkey meat for meatballs. Why turkey? I think I’m just trying to find a reason to like it. To me, it just seems boring and [usually] dry. Instead of using breadcrumbs like many meatball recipes call for, I wanted to use grains and seeds as an attempt to add some depth to the turkey. While using grains and seeds like quinoa and bulgar certainly made turkey meatballs a little more exciting, it was still a kind of meh. But then it hit me: I don’t have very much control on meat quality when I’m buying store-prepped stuff. Maybe I’ve been buying really crappy ground turkey this entire time. The solution? I started grinding turkey at home by using the grinder attachment for my KitchenAid mixer. To add moisture and flavor to the turkey meat, I’ll sometimes run a little bit of bacon fat or beef fat with it in the grinder. It is SO MUCH BETTER THIS WAY. If you’re thinking about grinding your own meat, Bon Appétit has a great little guide.
I like the combination of turkey and quinoa meatballs, and the recipe for this is really straight forward and pretty simple.
One item that I rarely have on hand is Chinese black vinegar. The flavor of this aged vinegar is similar to balsamic but it’s not very tart; it has a sweet, kinda malty taste. You may have even tasted it in Chinese restaurants or dim sum places because they are often made into dipping sauces for xiaolongbao (小籠包) or dumplings. This sauce is also used as the base for rou geng/rou gen/ro geng (肉羹), a Taiwanese pork soup that my grandma used to make way too often. I thought I would experiment with this sauce by turning it into a glaze or sauce for ribs.
I used a simple mixture of brown sugar, black vinegar, and soy sauce for the sauce and glaze. Because these ribs are on the sweeter side, I finished it with some chopped green onions to brighten up the flavor, and some toasted white sesame seeds to add some nuttiness.
Have you ever seen these noodles at the Asian markets or grocers? They’re sometimes called glass noodles, silver noodles, Chinese vermicelli*, and crystal noodles. These thread-like transparent noodles are often made from a starch of some sort like cassava or potato but the mung bean based noodles are most commonly used in Chinese cuisine. Trying to find mung bean thread noodles in a grocery store can be a pretty damn confusing experience: the ingredients list for mung bean thread will sometimes be mistranslated as haricots verts**, and haricots verts then gets re-mistranslated into English as green beans. I mean, yeah mung beans are green ("vert”) and they are beans (“haricot”) but mung beans are certainly not green beans or haricot verts. Thanks to translations and language barrier fun, you may get lucky and notice three different kinds of beans mentioned on one package even though only one is really used. You don’t really know what the transparent thread-like noodles are made out of until you read the ingredients. P.S.A. of the Day: Remember to read the ingredients on imported goods and be aware of mistranslations.
Anyways, mung bean thread noodles have multiple uses: my mom puts it in hot pot, my dad uses it as a substitute for Taiwanese wheat noodles as a last resort, and I like them in a cold noodle salad. I decided to make a simple noodle soup because it’s still pretty cold out and I’m not feeling very salad-y today.
*The usage of the word “vermicelli” is quite misleading. I’m going to stop right there before I go on a rant about labeling (but I’m not alone!). **A variety of green beans; they’re sometimes called haricot filets or French beans.
Some of the food tips floating around Pinterest (without proper source attribution) sounds like bad old wives tale or an observation that was somehow twisted into Fact. The most recent one I’ve been seeing:
"Peppers with 3 bumps on the bottom are sweeter and better for eating. Peppers with 4 bumps on the bottom are firmer and better for cooking."
Or some variation of it. Based on all of the pins and pictures, we’re talking bell peppers right? And what color bell peppers? What if your peppers are aesthetically challenged? What if they have 5+ “bumps” or lobes?
After a few days of bell pepper experimentation, this “tip”…
Sunday family dinner! I’ve been making this roasted chicken A LOT over the past month and my dad is actually a bit tired of eating it. It’s so stupidly simple, deliciously crunchy and juicy.
This recipe is slightly adapted from one of Ina Garten’s cookbooks. Even though I’m not the type to fawn over TV food personalities, Ina — yeah, we’re totally on a first name basis — has a special place in my heart for various reasons because her recipes always work out so well for me.
Not be much of a baker? Trying to find a easy DIY food project with your kid? Perhaps like me, you often find yourself involuntarily volunteering for stuff like snack duties or fundraisers because you can be a little bit of a control freak (or you’re just really nice). Here’s a simple, cutesy dessert that you can make that only requires three-ish ingredients — four if you feel like being fancy — and fifteen minutes of your time.
If you do want to be fancy, you could fill these guys with jam or fresh fruit preserves instead of nutella. You could even make a PBJ version with a half teaspoon of peanut butter and a half teaspoon of jelly. For some additional visual pizzazz, sprinkle on some colored sugar before baking. If you’re making these for someone special, bring out your inner Martha and cut their initials out. Some people may actually find that creepy so use your best judgment.
The “recipe” itself is pretty self explanatory (despite the lack of directions from the pins since it is often categorized as a “food hack”): put some shredded potatoes in a greased waffle iron, close the waffle iron lid, and wait until the potatoes are crispy brown. Conclusion? It’s pretty tasty if you’re into really crunchy hash browns. Imagine turning it into a hearty breakfast by topping it with a fried egg, and some cheddar cheese. Mmmm…you might as well toss in some bacon, ham, or [vegetarian] sausages while you’re at it. It’s like a single serving breakfast casserole. Bonus: Slap it between two pancakes to turn it into a hangover breakfast sandwich.
Some other pinteresting things I might try in the near future:
I used to write my blog drafts on tumblr but between my shaky internet connection, weekend-long power outages and related issues, I end up re-writing from scratch more than I should. It’s even worse if it happens when I’m editing a sentence or two; I’ll make a mental note to come back and edit that post despite my tendency to forget the said mental notes. I apologize if I ever said stuff like “preheat the oven to 500F degrees” when I really meant 400. There may be a lot of burned casseroles out there…
These little incidences don’t occur that often but it was annoying enough that I decided it would be better if I started writing my blog drafts in a good ol’ fashioned Word document. But it was fine until recently: I didn’t charge my macbook and I didn’t get the “charge your damn battery!” alert for some reason. I lost all the stuff I had written for this post because the autorecovery function in Word didn’t save my ass like it was supposed to. Blergh. Therefore, I would like to apologize for posting this doughnut recipe with no interesting story to accompany it because I don’t feel like writing (more stuff) right now.
[Something about orange doughnuts if all that stuff didn’t disappear. And something about “I got 99 doughnuts ‘cuz a bitch ate one.”*]
*I don’t really have 99 doughnuts. I don’t have enough flour for that.
I think your home is a good reflection of what you like and who you are. When it comes to interior design, I always considered myself an eclectic and minimalist. I hate knick knacks but I love gallery walls with a bunch of random shit. I love clean lines and bright white spaces but I do love obnoxious pops of color. For us, the kitchen is the center of the home because it’s so important to the way we live our lives: I would love a big kitchen with exposed shelving, big windows, cozy chairs, and stainless steel everywhere (although I do love butcher block counters). Even though the home kitchen is where most chefs spend the least amount of time (I mean, why would you if you cook all day and you have a restaurant kitchen full of gadgets?), I’m always curious to see how the famous chefs live when they are at home.