Posts Tagged ‘meat & fish’

The Element of Surprise: Moroccan-Style Burgers with Apple-Balsamic Reduction

Moroccan-style burgers with balsamic-apple reduction (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Cinnamon had been a rash last-minute decision. It settled on the mound of ground almonds and beef like a smug crop dusting. I looked at my hand in surprise. Who told you that was a good idea? my brain said to my hand. The body works in mysterious ways, my hand said to my brain. But by then there was nothing to do but move on with the bold decision, adjusting the plans accordingly.

In Chopped, it’s all about surprises anyway. It’s a game where you have to create an entire, cohesive dish from three disparate ingredients on the spot. There’s no time to research or prepare. You have nothing, and then suddenly, you have to have an idea. You’re already thinking creatively, open to the unexpected.

Whole almonds (Eat Me. Drink Me.) Almonds (Eat Me. Drink Me.) Chopped almonds (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

When we made these burgers the first time for the family Chopped competition in Italy, the ground, toasted almonds mixed with minced garlic and onion piled on pillowy beef reminded me somehow of chicken bastilla, one of my favorite meals in the entire world. Bastilla is a Moroccan dish in which saffron chicken, egg, and toasted almonds are sweetened with orange water and cooked inside crispy, thin phyllo dough. Though it’s garnished with powdered sugar and cinnamon, the filling is a perfect blend of savory and sweet, crunchy and soft.

Ground beef (Eat Me. Drink Me.)
Toasted almonds (Eat Me. Drink Me.)
Ground beef and spices (Eat Me. Drink Me.)
Burger mash (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I don’t think my thought process at the time was as rational as all that, but adding the cinnamon to the burger mash felt right, even though my brain was surprised at quickness of my hand’s action. » Continue reading this post...

On a Sticky Summer Day: Coffee & Cocoa Chili Con Carne

Chili con carne (Eat Me. Drink Me.) I know it’s summer. I can feel the sweat dripping down my back, the wet air making my elbows peel from my desk as I type. My eyelids stick when I blink. And yet… Call me crazy, but I made chili for dinner. I thought about calling this breezy summer chili. Fresh, seasonal meat and beans magic? And then I realized that there was really no point in telling the story any other way than the way it was. It was too hot to make chili, and that’s exactly what I did. Stick, stick, says my elbow, letting me know I spent too long thinking about that last sentence. Chopped vegetables (Eat Me. Drink Me.) Diced garlic (Eat Me. Drink Me.) You know that feeling you get when you’re on the verge of a nervous breakdown? That quiet, manic calm that feels watery and full of cracks? I feel a little bit that way. There’s too much to do. I’ve had to read piles of poetry for SAND, the literary journal where I work as the poetry editor. I’ve been working on a translation competition, getting my own poetry collection finished, visiting with family, keeping the apartment clean, working on home improvement projects and crafts, answering emails. It doesn’t even sound like much to write it out, and a lot of it is things I generally enjoy doing – but all those little things add up. And when I think about tackling just one of those things, I go… ah! GIFs on the internet!

Oregano (Eat Me. Drink Me.)
Fresh vegetables for chile con carne (Eat Me. Drink Me.)
Bacon! (Eat Me. Drink Me.) So logically, after a full day of work, I pedaled to the grocery store to pick up beef and peppers, coffee for breakfast tomorrow, bacon, sour cream and green onions. My project was herculean, considering the weather. Stand by the hot stove, sweat streaming, to slow-cook some chili. At least I remembered to pick up an icy Hefeweizen to take the edge off. » Continue reading this post...

What I Took From the Woods: Pepper, Fennel and Sausage Breakfast Casserole

Fennel, pepper and sausage breakfast casserole (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Once upon a time, I used to lead backpacking trips. Strange to think about now, after having found my affinity for cities – and big ones at that – that at one time, I gladly trekked through green forests with a pack damping sweat on my back, feet sheathed in sturdy boots, and plastic bags of trail mix stashed inside my pack. We called it gorp, short for “good old raisins and peanuts,” and individuals were severely reprimanded for what was called “strip-mining the gorp” – eating only the colorful M&Ms and leaving behind a pile of nut-dusted raisins.

Round Knob hike (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Each trip lasted about a week and was divided three ways. Three days were spent hiking along the Tennessee-Carolina Appalachian Trail. As we wound our way up steep and rocky paths, we’d stop to pick small wild blueberries studding the bushes or to watch a Monarch rest its wings on a cluster of flowers. The woods were full of squirrels and chattering birds, honeybees, butterflies, and more dangerous animals too – rattlesnakes, bears, and pesky mosquitoes. We made camp near shelters, setting up blue tarps for tents, purifying water from nearby streams to drink, peeling sweaty socks from our tired feet.

There were two separate routes, but both led down to the Appalachian town of Hot Springs, where dirty groups would meet at the Smoky Mountain Diner for giant glasses of tooth-shattering sweet tea, deep-fried sweet corn and okra, cornbread and warm blackberry pie with ice cream.

Butterflies on the AT (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Peppers (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Peppers, onion and fennel (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

One day of the trip was spent doing a service project in the Asheville area. Some days, we’d clear forest trail of overgrown weeds, fallen stumps and stones. Others, we’d plant gardens for schools or sort cans at the food bank.

Two days of the trip were spent on the river, the French Broad, fondly referred to as “The Dirty Broad.” It was a very dirty river. » Continue reading this post...

Veggies in the Fridge, the Leftovers Edition: Thai Green Curry

Thai green curry (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

What to do the day after you’ve made Balinese Gado-Gado and have a refrigerator full of vegetables just begging to be eaten? Roll with the punches. Give them what they want.

And what do they want? Well, they desperately want to be made into a spicy, fragrant Thai Green curry.

Birds-eye chili (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Cilantro (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Preparing green curry paste (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I’m particularly fond of Thai food. It’s both comforting and fresh, spicy and sweet, and it makes use of some of my favorite ingredients: coconut, chili, cilantro, brown sugar, and lime to name just a few.

Measuring curry paste (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

This green curry is plumped up with chicken and plenty of green vegetables like sugar snap peas, Napa cabbage, green bell pepper and sprouts. And carrots, which aren’t green, but wish they were.

Green peppers and carrots (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Chicken (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Green curry paste (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

It’s a lovely meal no matter whether you’re using up gado-gado leftovers or starting from scratch. » Continue reading this post...

Stew, Baby, Stew: Hungarian Goulash

Hungarian goulash (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

How can you go wrong with a recipe that has both bacon and wine? You can’t, as I discovered making this variation on Hungarian Goulash. Authenticity aside, this hearty, heavy winter stew was exactly what I needed coming back to Berlin after two weeks on a beach in the north of Colombia.

Here in Berlin, where I find myself wearing all of the clothes I own at one time, there’s no action too petty to warm up. Like showering multiple times a day because it’s the warmest place in the apartment. Or reneging on sunlight because it just might be warmer with the shutters closed. Or begging my boyfriend never to leave the bed just so that it’s always warm when I want to go to sleep.

veggies for Hungarian goulash (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

beef chuck in the pot (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

About a month or so ago, my uncle sent me an email, which is worth reprinting:

i am making soup as I type.

i have some smoked ribs i made a month or so ago that i just won’t eat so i figured i would cook them off the bones.  of course, I have no recipe as I just do jungle cooking – onion, celery (love it for flavor), green pepper, black pepper, bay leaves, garlic cloves, Cajun seasoning, and some beef bullion …i will let it cook for four or five hours and then taste and add seasonings as required.  tomorrow after it cooks overnight, i will peel the meat off the bones and add some carrots… finally, i will add some noodles and make some fresh bread to serve with the soup…

soup is a wonderful way to get rid of leftovers while creating a new meal …kind of like making wine out of water and that friend yeast thing Mom use to raise…just kept going and going… can see why humans still make pots of soup and just keep adding to it (no this tradition didn’t stop after the mid-evil ages… there are billions who are thousands of years behind us and still live this way – look at WV… yuk yuk…)

p.s. » Continue reading this post...

How to Be Southern: Classic Fried Chicken

how to make fried chicken (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I want to be a Southern grandma when I grow up. I want to have a sweet drawl and spoil my grandchildren and make fried chicken every day.

Not just any fried chicken. This fried chicken. This crisp on the outside, meltingly soft on the inside, salty and a little bit spicy fried chicken.

I love when you have one of those moments where you’ve built something up so high that you know it can never be as good again – like a trip to your favorite childhood city or heroin – and then it’s just as great as you remember. The heroin is hearsay, I promise.

eggy goodness (Eat Me. Drink Me.) fried chicken (Eat Me. Drink Me.) fried chicken (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

This fried chicken is like that – Jamie and I made it a few summers ago (two?) in Brooklyn. We’d had one too many sweet tea vodka cocktails on the back porch while we gossiped like old ladies about everyone we knew and forgot the chicken we’d left to brine up in the kitchen. Late in the evening, when the summer sun was already starting to set, we remembered that the actual goal of the evening was to fry the chicken, not just bathe it. We swept our thoroughly brined chicken through buttermilk and a dredge of flour, salt, pepper, and Jamaican jerk seasoning, then fried it in a pan of hot oil. A crisp crust cracking open to reveal a steamy pocket of juicy meat – it was the best fried chicken I’ve ever had.

Jamie came to visit me in Berlin for Thanksgiving this year. I guess you can’t call two years in a row a true tradition, but it already feels like one. Of course we roasted a turkey and made all the traditional fixin’s – and this year, Jamie even brought a bag of marshmallows and a can of cranberry stuffing across the ocean – but what I really, really wanted to re-create was that fried chicken. » Continue reading this post...

Comfort Food & Christmas Coming Up: Jansson’s Frestesle

Jansson's Frestesle recipe (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Is it just me, or does it feel like holiday food necessitates buckets of heavy whipping cream and gobs of butter? Not just me? Alright, fine, let’s proceed.

At my other job, I’m already knee-deep in Christmas things. We like to stay a couple weeks ahead of the curve, and I spend my days translating articles about the best Christmas gifts, pretty sugar-cookie scented bubble baths and artfully wrapped cosmetics. The end result being that all I’ve wanted to do for the last few weeks is bake gingersnaps and indulge in a few “harmless,” late-night, online shopping sprees.

onions for Jansson's Frestesle (Eat Me. Drink Me.) potatoes and one sneaky onion (Eat Me. Drink Me.) onions ready for baking (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

So when my other job said, photograph some Christmas foods for us, I said, absolutely and instantly ran to the grocery store to purchase buckets of heavy whipping cream and butter. Obviously.

Jansson’s Frestelse is a traditional Swedish Christmas casserole in which starchy potatoes play an understated backdrop to buckets of heavy whipping cream, butter, lightly caramelized onions and salty anchovies. When it’s all baked together in an oven, it becomes a rich medley of hot, bubbling cream beneath a crackling bread crumb crust. Holiday food at its finest.

layers of anchovies for Jansson's Frestesle (Eat Me. Drink Me.)
layered potatoes for Jansson's Frestesle (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

It was about the time I was halfway through the dish of Jansson’s Frestelse (also known as Jansson’s Temptation for good reason), that I realized I had just single-handedly consumed one 250g carton of heavy whipping cream.

This brought me to the conclusion that holidays are meant to be shared with others not simply because they are about family and friends and togetherness, but because we should never have to eat so much butter by ourselves. (Or at least a holiday dinner allows us to do a better job of managing our feelings of guilt at having eaten so much butter by displacing them onto the rest of the assembled company.)

Swedish Christmas casserole (Eat Me. Drink Me.) potatoes, butter (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Anyway, I’m sure the extra lipid layer will come in handy here in Berlin as the Christmas markets start popping up around the city and all the boot-shaped mugs of Glühwein in the world won’t keep me warm…

Jansson's Frestesle (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Jansson’s Frestelse (Jansson’s Tempation)

5-6 medium potatoes, thinly sliced 2 medium onions, sliced 15 Swedish anchovy fillets (usually from a tin, in oil) 3 tbsp butter 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream Salt & pepper to taste 1 tsp sugar ½ cup bread crumbs

Sauté onions in 1 tbsp butter with a pinch of salt and pepper and 1 tsp sugar until translucent and lightly browned. » Continue reading this post...

In the Beginning, There Was Butter: Bagna Cauda

bagna cauda recipe (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

“You start with nine sticks of butter,” my aunt says, giving me the recipe for a dish which, at the end of its life, will contain fourteen sticks. Her voice is a Florida twang, an accent no one else in my family seems to have picked up as strongly, though when I am with her, I find my own vowels stretching out. I becomes Ah, as though I’ve been stuck into a Twilight Zone dentist’s office and every personal statement is a chance to glance at my sweet tea-ravaged cavities.

“This is the easy way, but the real way is, you’re going to want to chop up about three things of garlic – at least.” Except it sounds like, Yer gunna wunna

My aunt is referring not to cloves of garlic, but to heads, because this is the famed family recipe for banyacotta, which is the phonetic spelling for a dish which is actually a famed Italian recipe called bagna cauda. The recipe is basically the same. But I think my family uses more butter.

bagna cauda (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Banyacotta is a familial rite of passage. Lovers, fiancés, new spouses, children – you’re not a part of the family until you’ve eaten banyacotta.

This is mostly due to the fact that for a full two days after eating it, you trail the scent of garlic behind you thicker than Pepe le Pew on an amour trail. It is imperative, for this reason, that everyone in the family partake, so that we don’t notice our stench, naïvely wandering through the world in our own little garlic reek.

For a long time, I had no idea that banyacotta was not just something that had been handed down in my family from generation to generation. All of the friends I told about the dish – it’s a dip of butter, garlic, and anchovies and you eat it on cabbage – were disgusted (but then again, that isn’t quite the favorite foods lists of an eight year old). » Continue reading this post...