Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

I’ll Take the Hamburger, Hold the Burger (a post by Lyz and Josh): Balsamic Portobello Mushrooms & Olive Tapenade Toasts

Olive tapenade (Eat me. Drink Me.)

Request! Request! We have a Request for a “vegetarian section with yummy recipes that don’t require a 100 different ingredients.” I think we can do that. Maybe 99 ingredients, but who’s counting?

For me, vegetarianism always seemed like something I should try out. I couldn’t tell you what it was that specifically tipped me over to the other side, but I can say that whenever anyone asked the “why?” question, my response followed:

“I don’t like the taste of meat. And I feel really lethargic after I eat any meat, and that’s not really what I want to feel after eating, you know?”

Both of which are still true today, but I’ve relaxed a bit as to my meat restrictions. Basically, now I don’t cook meat for myself but I’ll have it if someone offers me a meal with meat (see: first day on a farm in New Zealand, and the owner tells me that we’re having lamb that he just killed yesterday).

Partly I don’t cook meat for myself because I don’t enjoy it all that much, but mostly because I can’t cook it. See, I started cooking during my vegetarianism stint in roughly 11th grade. So, most of my repertoire is vegetarian based. Because of that, I used to focus mostly on side dishes, appetizers and some baked goods. I thought entrees consisting of only vegetables would be boring and not satisfying at all. But I had to branch out somehow – I would come home from waiting on tables at 11pm and have to cook myself something to eat. A bunch of side dishes only cut it for so long. So I would scrounge my fridge, throw some oil, garlic and salt in a pan and hop to. A few of these recipes stay as appetizers or side dishes, trying not to call too much attention to themselves, but some of them really started to shine. » Continue reading this post…

Better Days Are Here Again: Pecan, Pear & Blue Cheese Salad

Pecan-Pear Salad (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

The end of Spring Break and the beginning of actual Spring in Davidson are coinciding nicely. Although I ate nothing if not well at the lake, by the end of the week, I found myself craving fruit and sunshine – which could have been the effect of a self-imposed exile to relatively little movement, starch-heavy foods, and the indoors.

Yesterday, after donning an appropriately awkward sunburn gleaned at a table outside the coffee shop, I made the ten minute trek to Harris Teeter (a grocery store chain, if you’re not from the South), and proceeded to buy almost every single piece of produce in the store. Lettuce still dewy from the miniature sprinkler, plump radishes, avocado, cherry tomatoes, oranges, grapefruit, handfuls of lemons and limes –

And so on.

Since bringing those groceries back to my apartment, I’ve been snacking on fruits and making myself delightfully crisp, vegetable-rich meals (avocado, cherry tomato, blue cheese on baguette – go). But my favorite concoction so far has been this pecan, pear, and blue cheese salad. I ate the whole thing slowly, carefully putting together perfect bites of sharp, creamy cheese, sweet pear, and mellow pecan with the perfect amount of spinach and Boston lettuce to curb the richness. Eating this salad, sitting on my front porch, watching people walk by – nothing could be more perfect. Unless, of course, I could enact this scene again without the sunburn.

State of affairs (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Pecan, Pear & Blue Cheese Salad
This salad serves 1.

For the salad:
1 handful Boston lettuce
1 handful baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup pecans
1/2 pear, thinly sliced

For the dressing:
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Lightly toast pecans in a skillet or in the oven, then cut or crush them into smaller pieces. Toss all salad ingredients, including toasted pecans, together. » Continue reading this post…

Brenda’s Carrot Cake (a post by Josh): Carrot Cake

Friends often know each other by many names. Sometimes relevant, sometimes obscure. Just yesterday I got a letter from an elementary school friend, who currently lives in the 7th in Paris, addressed to me as “carrot cake.”

I think I first made this tempting dessert when I was 16 – after an eight hour day of bussing tables. During that shift, my boss had revealed the dessert of the week – carrot cake. It was good, but a typical semi-dry, walnut laden, not so sweet cake trying to border “good for you” and decadence. At that point in my career, I had established a semi-serious competition with the dessert chef. With this new revealing, I had another opportunity to top the chef.

At home that night, I searched through online and hard cover cook books to find a recipe. Epicurious again prevailed – a carrot cake with Maple cream cheese frosting. Giddy and ambitious at midnight, I started prepping the ingredients as if I was going to be able to finish that night. Carrots shredded in a bowl topped with brown sugar, cream cheese sitting out to acclimate to room temperature, flour sitting in a fluffy pile, I was well on my way when my post-work high faded. I left everything out that night, which turned out to be my best use of procrastination.

The next morning, I found the carrots had juiced themselves, leaving me with two cups of carrots, shredded, and ½ cup of sweetened carrot juice. I proceeded through the recipe, adding ginger, cardamom and nutmeg to my liking and prematurely iced the warm cake – allowing the cream cheese icing to sink into the crust.

Obviously I didn’t want to send my “rough draft” straight into the main event, so I packed up my cake and headed off to my elementary school friend’s house to have a proper taste testing. » Continue reading this post…

In Defense of Eating Alone: Chorizo, Poblano & Sweet Potato Fajitas with Lime-Marinated Red Onions

Fajitas with Yam (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I remember, once, seeing the heroine of some movie or TV show standing in front of her sink, shoveling a limp chicken breast into her mouth represented as the penultimate form of loneliness. That image, wedged into my consciousness, still influences the way I think about the social aspect of eating–that eating alone in public is taboo and eating alone in private is unfulfilled. It makes me bring a book and seek loud, busy establishments where I can hide when I do dine with myself.

And yet, I have eaten many wonderful meals alone.

The best of these was a lunch one summer when I had just turned fifteen. My family was living for a few months in Bremen, Germany, and I had been tentatively released into a big city on my own for the first time. I wandered past the market place with its intricately decorated buildings, through the old city Schnoor, where the smallest road was just an inch broader than the length from one shoulder to another, and into the Viertel, the “new” part of town. I had never been there – my family hadn’t had a chance to wander that far – but as it was noon and I was hungry, I looked for a place to eat. An unobtrusive, corner storefront with a roasting slab of meat rotating in the window beckoned me across the street, and I unknowingly ordered what is still the best döner kebab I’ve ever had.

For three euros, it was a massive affair. A fresh slab of pita stuffed full of lamb, red cabbage, cucumber, tomatoes, onions, crumbling cheese, and threaded through with cool, garlicky tzatziki sauce. I ate it on a rickety metal chair outside the shop and watched people walk by. I didn’t care that my hands were covered in drippings or that if I set that sandwich down I’d never be able to pick it up again – every bite tasted like growing up. » Continue reading this post…

Provincial Mornings (a post by Josh): Overnight French Toast

I found my new recipe for french toast. I found it after a long night, some mindless egg beating and an emotional conversation, but I think this time, the ends justify my means. Around 11 at night, I got a phone call:

“Hey. Um, when are you – going home?”

“When do you need me there?”

“Don’t rush. No. I’m fine.”

Around 11:10pm, I was home.

Around 1:30am, I was in bed.

What transpired from pm to am included a few venting tears, a bunch of hugs, and my resolution to do what I could to be there for her. What I leaned on was food, obviously. I mean, whenever I get down, I need there to be quick food so I don’t have to think about my next meal. That’s not exactly true, I’m quite the opposite, but I imagine others feel like that. At least, that’s how my friend felt.

She went to bed around 12:20am, and I found myself searching hard copy cook books and Epicurious for breakfasts that soothe my soul with hearty warmth. Pancakes stuffed with honeyed ricotta, waffles loaded with cherries and cardamom, omelets from the southwest – these were all recipes I tried to adapt for my friend.

But let’s be honest, it was the new morning slash late night and I had work the next day. That’s not to say that the culinary effort for my friend wasn’t worth it, but more than five hours of sleep seemed a worthy reason for taking the gourmet factor down a notch. So I fell back on my provincial friend – french toast. I remembered two things first – stale bread works best and dipping eggs are best with milk.

“French Toast” turns up about two hundred and one times on Epicurious, but I seemed to find my perfect recipe on the first page. » Continue reading this post…

And What a Joy It Is: Picadillo

Let me paint a picture for you: I’m standing in a cramped kitchen with a dripping, raw chicken cradled in one hand and a giant knife in the other. I am about to cut up said chicken, when I realize that I actually have no clue what cutting up a chicken entails. “Somebody grab The Joy of Cooking,” I yell, growing frantic with the weight of the chicken in my hand. (Chickens, although small, are deceptively heavy, and I did start lifting weights after this incident).

The Joy of Cooking, my kitchen bible, is procured, and with reassurance, the voice of Irma Rombauer tells me, “With a little practice and a sharp knife, you can easily cut a whole chicken, duck, turkey, or goose into serving pieces.” Thanks, Irma.

First published in 1931 as a coping mechanism for dealing with her husband’s suicide, The Joy of Cooking was Irma Rombauer’s first foray into helping cooks everywhere keep their households happy. Joy was a departure from other era cookbooks written mostly by cooking schools or dieticians. “Talking about ridiculous cookbooks,” said M. F. K. Fisher about her generation’s offerings, “One, lavishly larded with instructive photographs, illustrates the correct way to serve dinner rolls, each tied with satin ribbon and a red, red rose!”

Instead of such impractical or hard to follow instructions, Rombauer offered recipes suited for day to day life and included basic instructions for commonly used cooking techniques. After hitting on the action method–working the ingredients list into the directions–she republished the book in 1936 with Bobbs-Merrill and began a family-run cookbook empire.

Joy has undergone a number of reprints since then–not all of them lauded. It has tried to move with changing attitudes toward food, substituting unrationed substances for costlier commodities during WWII, adapting to post-war appliances like freezers in the home, and expanding to include international recipes when it appeared that there was a demand for them. » Continue reading this post…