Friday, April 25, 2008

Roast Asparagus

I love asparagus, but I think a lot of people just blanch it then call it good. Who wants soggy asparagus? I certainly don't.

Roast Asparagus

Ingredients
  • 1 bunch young asparagus (I like thick ones, but some people think they're too tough: decide for yourself)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut off the white ends of the asparagus; they're tough and not tasty. Coat the asparagus in the olive oil, salt and pepper, then spread them out on a cookie sheet. Grate the cheese over the top, and place in the oven for 6-9 minutes (ovens vary, so watch carefully). I like mine with some crunch in the middle, but the tips and cheese should be crispy. If you leave them in too long, they'll get wilted and kind of gross.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Orange Stir-fried Broccoli

This is a dirt-easy, impressive vegetable side dish. I feel broccoli has always gotten jipped in the culinary world as the horrible vegetable of childhood that no one ever liked. I love it, and I think this recipe showcases it in the way it deserves.



Orange Stir-fried Broccoli

Ingredients
  • 1 large bunch broccoli
  • 1 juicy navel orange
  • 1 tablespoon minced or crushed garlic
  • Splash of soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Out of the ordinary equipment
  • A zester or fine-toothed grater
Cut the broccoli into long spears. No one really likes getting a great-big piece of stem by itself, so don't just cut the florets off. Heat some olive oil over medium-high heat and throw in the garlic, cooking a few minutes. Add the broccoli, stirring constantly. Zest in some of the orange peel , maybe a quarter of the orange or so (a little zest goes a long way), then cut the orange in half and squeeze in the juice of one half. Splash in a little soy sauce, and then season with salt and pepper.

The Golden Triangle of Guacamole

Guacamole is an art form, not just a condiment. I make a big deal about guacamole, I eat it frequently, and when I go to Mexican restaurants, I order based on what comes with a side of guac. It's one of the great pleasures of life.

It also seems like everyone on earth has their own "secret recipe." I've had guac presented as nothing more than crushed avocados, and elaborate, colorful concoctions of tomato, corn, onion, and carrot. One could almost say that guacamole is controversial. Lemon or lime? Tomatoes? Cilantro? Sour cream? Chunky or a big pile of green, creamy gloop?

I say, make it however you want. Let's rejoice in the diversity and flexibility of the avocado. However, in an attempt to guide the making of perfect guacamole, I present the following tool to help.

The golden triangle of guacamole:Similar to life, guacamole is all about achieving balance. As long as you achieve a balance right for you, who cares how you get there. Guac has three components, and suggestions for those components are included. Mix and match however you want
Freshness
  • Avocado
  • Tomato
  • Cilantro
  • Sour cream
Zing
  • Lemon juice
  • Lime juice
  • Garlic
  • Salt
Bite
  • Onion
  • Chili powder
  • Pepper
  • Green chilies
Experiment away, but consider the occasion. Guac must adapt. If it's a stand-alone dip, you probably want something a little more full-flavored, chunky, with vegetables (tomatoes, onion, etc.). If it's a topping for tacos or in a burrito, you'll want to to be smoother, simpler, and less in-your-face.

Now after all this theory and philosophy, let me give you my interpretation of guacamole. I would use this one for topping and stuffing, not as a dip with chips. For another, chunky version better suited for a dip, click here.


Guacamole

Ingredients
  • 2 large, ripe avocados
  • A large spoonful of sour cream
  • The juice of 1 lime (have some more on hand, you can also use some lemon juice if it's not zingy enough)
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic or about 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Several sprigs of fresh cilantro
  • 1 - 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
Put half of one avocado, the sour cream, lime juice, garlic, several cilantro leaves, and the chili powder in a food processor and blend until very smooth.

In another bowl, smash the remaining avocado with a fork, leaving it quite chunky. Add the processed mixture and mix well, seasoning with salt (you'll probably need a good bit) and pepper. Add more of anything you think it needs until balance is achieved.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Albino Meat Loaf

This is another one of those, "shoot, what do I have in my fridge?" recipes that really turned out to be dang good. I'm rather proud of this one.

Albino Meat Loaf

Ingredients
  • 1.5 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 3 slices white bread, processed to crumbs in a food processor
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced finely
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 - 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 -2 teaspoons pepper
  • 2 - 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth (this makes it really juicy)
  • 1 tablespoon Italian herbs (whatever combo you want: parsley, oregano, rosemary, basil)
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Grated mozzarella cheese

I do this whole thing in a stand mixer, and it's very quick and easy. I just dump in all the ingredients except the Parmesan and mozzarella and stir until mixed. I don't have a loaf pan, so I used a pie plate: it makes it makes it thinner so it cooks a little faster. Press the meat mixture into pan, top with the cheeses and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes (will vary greatly depending on the thickness and shape).

Friday, April 4, 2008

Getting the Necessary Tools

Seriously, just get the tools you need. It's so much more fun when you have the bigs guns. I thought my Kitchenaid stand mixer would be excessive, but I use it all the time. Cookies, mashed potatoes, cakes, whipping cream, whatever.

video

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Ginger Cole Slaw

My mom got a new Cuisinart food processor for Christmas, but she was a little unsure of whether or not she'd actually use it. Loving my own, I opened the fridge and just started shredding, dicing, and chopping everything I could to show her how amazing this new appliance is. Finding myself with piles of beautifully processed vegetables in just moments, I then thought that maybe I should do something with them. This resulted. Not exactly traditional Christmas morning cuisine, but this is a great summer dish.

Many cole slaws are little more than shredded cabbage drowned in mayo. It doesn't have to be that way. Liberate your cole slaw from it's tacky, KFC fate. This recipe makes enough for a party, so invite your friends.


Ginger Cole Slaw

Ingredients
  • 1/2 head green cabbage (play around a little, too; it could be bok choy, savoy cabbage, etc.)
  • 1/2 head purple cabbage (you could use a bagged cole slaw mix, but having the bigger, fresher chunks of chopping it yourself is much more appealing)
  • 1 - 2 cups carrot
  • 2 or 3 stalks of celery
  • 2 apples
  • 1 8 0z can pineapple tidbits, drained but juices retained
  • 1 handful dried cranberries
  • 1 handful cashew halves
  • 5-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 5-6 tablespoons vinegar (some flavorful, fruity kind like apple cider, raspberry, etc)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 - 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon dried, ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
This recipe isn't worth doing for me unless I have a food processor. It goes much faster. You can do it by hand if you're up to it, though.

Using the slicing disk, shred the cabbage, apples and celery. Using the shredder disk, shred the carrots. Toss the vegetables, apples, cranberries, and pineapple in a mixing bowl. In the food processor with the blade attached, mix the oil, vinegar, ginger, salt, mustard, and a few tablespoons of the pineapple juice (add more juice if it's too thick). Pour over the vegetables and stir mix until well coated. Add the cashews right before serving: you don't want them soggy.