Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Crunchy Sriracha Chicken Strips

I saw these Sriracha chicken strips and knew I had to try them... they were pretty good! Spicy, gingery and crispy! Very easy, too.
Served with the same sesame stir-fried asparagus we tried and liked a few weeks ago (although I spiked the recipe with some Sriracha, too!).

Moroccan-style Quinoa with Butternut and Chickpeas

I made a tasty vegetarian quinoa salad with Moroccan spices the other night, very loosely based on on this recipe from Closet Cooking. I liked the idea of his salad, particularly his spice mix, which I made to spec, but I used different ingredients for the salad base, according to what I had on hand.

Here's how my substitutions broke down:
  • I used regular quinoa rather than a mix of red and regular
  • I substituted butternut squash for the carrots
  • I steamed a bunch of spinach towards the end of the quinoa cooking
  • I used toasted almonds in place of the pine nuts
  • I threw in dried cranberries where raisins were called for
In the end, the spice mix complimented these ingredients very well!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Seared Salmon with Luinguine and Ramp Pesto

This week I got a bundle of ramps in my CSA share. Ramps are wild onions grown and gathered mainly in Appalachia in the spring... they have an oniony, garlicky flavor to them, and you can eat the entire thing- from white bulb to red stems to leafy tops.I thought this salmon recipe with a ramp pesto looked simple and tasty, so we tried it out. Very good! The onion flavor is pretty powerful- no making out for any of us tonight. But delicious anyway!
My trip to the grocery store didn't turn up any Marcona almonds, so I used regular roasted almonds, which worked out fine. Otherwise, I made the recipe as instructed and give it two thumbs up!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Crack Pie!!

So, the internets are all atwitter about the tasty baked goods from Momofuku Milk Bar in NYC, particularly their Crack pie (no, not named for a particularly craggy appearance or anything, but because it's addictive like crack). The LA Times had an article about the Crack Pie and posted a recipe, and since then, many a blogger has tried their hand at manufacturing this crack in pie form.The recipe has several steps, but none of them are particularly difficult. Basically you bake a giant oatmeal cookie, then crumble it with sugar, butter and salt to make the tasty crust, and finally fill it with a ton of sin (melted butter, egg yolks, brown and white sugar, and some vanilla) and bake.
The end result is a gooey, sweet, salty, delicious mess. I brought it to a BBQ and it was gone in seconds as people basically inhaled it straight from the pie plate. It was like hyenas fighting over freshly killed wildebeest or something.

The recipe makes 2 pies- I did one in a pie plate and the other in a removable bottom tart pan. The tart pan made it a little easier to get the slices out.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

To Die For: Beef Stroganoff

Omg. This beef stroganoff recipe is to die for... buttery, mushroomy, meaty.
The recipe calls for 2.5 lbs of sirloin, which is pretty pricey, but totally worth it. Be sure not to overcook the beef!! The only change Chuck made to the recipe was to substitute sour cream for the creme fraiche or whipping cream the recipe called for.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rhubarb Syrup for Cocktails and Other Tasty Beverages

I had a couple extra stalks of rhubarbs left over from my coffee cake... not enough to make anything particularly substantial, but just enough to try out this rhubarb simple syrup.
The syrup is super easy, can be used for both boozy (rhubarb cosmopolitans, see below, but be warned that the lemon/lime in this recipe overwhelms the rhubarb flavor a bit) and non-boozy (rhubarb soda) drinks, and is a fun pink color.
Also, the leftover rhubarb bits form a kind of jelly/jam substance that's pretty tasty in and of itself. It's definitely not a pretty or fun pink color, though... it's more of a sad army green once the pink has been sucked out and applied to the simple syrup.

Big Crumb Coffee Cake with Rhubarb

Got the first rhubarb of the season and thought we'd make this Smitten Kitchen recommended big crumb coffee cake... mmmm. Big crumbs = delicious.
Tim commented, "Can you just make me rhubarb coffee cake the rest of my life?" That's saying a lot considering Tim normally says "It's good." when I ask him what he thinks of a particular dish I've made.
Our sour cream was a little long in the tooth (i.e. green and hairy), so we substituted some Greek yogurt. Also, Chuck misread the recipe a bit and used the microplane to grate some fresh ginger in with the rhubarb rather than use dried/ground ginger.

Deja Vu: Risotto with Shrimp, Asparagus, Feta and Dill

So... remember last year when I raved about this risotto dish with asparagus, shrimp, feta and dill? Yeah, well, I'm raving again. It's still good. I still suggest you run to your local farmers market, pick up some asparagus, and make this dish.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Crostini with Mushooms, Prosciutto, and Gorgonzola

These crostini with mushrooms, prosciutto and Gorgonzola are a rich and filling appetizer... nothing special to look at, as you can see from the photo, but delicious nonetheless. Good as a starter at a fancier dinner party, for sure.

Pasta e Fagioli

Soup, there is it! Girls, what's my weakness? SOUP!

It got cold out of nowhere here in DC this weekend and I had purchased a fancy baguette that begged to be dipped into something warm, so we decided to make some soup. Pasta e fagioli (a bean and pasta soup) to be precise.
I used this recipe, with a few tweaks, which turned out quite well. I threw in some collard greens in place of the spinach, used 5 sausage links, and used one 19-ounce can of beans. Also, to give the broth some additional flavor, I dropped an old Parmesan rind I had in the fridge. Finally, I didn't bother with blending the tomatos- I just crushed them in my hand as I put them in the soup.

Delicious and quite easy!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Stuff is Growin: Bamboo!

Do you know what pandas eat? Pandas eat bamboo.

Within the last week, our bamboo garden in the backyard has blown up, so we could support a couple of Buttersticks for quite some time. Well, maybe like a day. Pandas eat a lot of bamboo.
We have over 30 new sprouts rapidly growing throughout the garden. Chuck took some photos and measured a couple of them. We plan to check in later this week to see exactly how rapidly they're growing.

Stuff is Growin: Orchids!

So Jennifer gave me an orchid years (5? 6?) ago after her coworker left the office and abandoned it... For years I've been diligently watering this plant, which consisted of a couple of large leaves and a bunch of roots.

Last year, what I thought was another lumpy root growth turned out to be a spray of huge, gorgeous magenta orchids that lasted for weeks and weeks. I figured when that spray wilted, that was it for the next 5 or 6 years. But, lo!, this year another spray emerged and I was able to get some good photos.


Chicken Cashew Lettuce Wraps and Sesame Stir-Fried Asparagus

We have a plethora of butter lettuce from the CSA right now- I was a little overzealous when putting in my order the past couple weeks. We're sorta between seasons right now, so the variety of veggies available from the CSA is minimal, but I know it'll boom soon and give us a ton of spring vegetables... in the meantime, we're trying to find lots of uses for the greenhouse grown butter/Boston lettuce we're getting.

Lettuce wraps it is! I've made lettuce wraps once before, back in the early days of the blog, and we liked them. This time I tried a stir-fried chicken and cashew filling- tasty!

Served with simple sesame stir fried asparagus and white rice.

Camarones Enchiladas (Shrimp in a Spicy Tomato Sauce)

I've been craving something cooked in a spicy tomato sauce and served with feta since seeing various recipes bandied around the internet of late... Deb from Smitten Kitchen has been making shakshuka (eggs poached in spicy tomato sauce), Kevin from Closet Cooking is making tomato and feta baked eggs, and Alejandra from Always Order Dessert (who I met once in DC, as she used to be coworkers with Andy), had a spread in Real Simple with her mom's recipe for camarones enchiladas, or shrimp in spicy tomato sauce.

I decided to give Alejandra's recipe a try: definitely worth a try. The second recipe for us this week that uses the awesome smoked paprika as the main star.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Brown Sugar Bacon Waffles

Mmm. These waffles from Joy the Baker rock. The waffles themselves are made with brown sugar and buttermilk (or, in our case, whole milk mixed with some lemon juice), but they also have caramelized brown sugar bacon bits in them. Soooo good... sweet, salty, and, because we used peppered bacon, peppery. Give them a try. We had ours with a little butter and some McCarthy maple syrup.FYI: the bacon sinks to the bottom of the batter, so dig deep to get the bits. Also, the recipe makes like 500 waffles.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Asparagus Pistachio Pesto

Got some of spring's first asparagus and thought this pesto might a good idea. Omitted the spinach and threw in some basil and parsley instead. Pretty good stuff!
Served over rotini with some mushrooms sauteed in garlic and the asparagus tips.

Deviled Eggstravanganza!

After attending the always fabulous 6th Annual Eggstravaganza at the Marks-Finder household, we found ourselves with a plethora of hard-boiled eggs, just begging to be deviled. (Does anyone else read "deviled" like "de-viled" as opposed to "devil-ed"? Maybe it's just me.)

Chuck had the day off, so she was the devil-er. She rocked out six different and delicious types of devil, as follows, from left to right:
Herbed deviled eggs: chock full of fresh herbs

Lemon dill deviled eggs: similar to the herbed eggs, but with a lemony kick

Chipotle deviled eggs: smoky and spicy

Deviled eggs with capers, dill and cucumber: a little chunky from the cukes and vinegary capers

Avocado deviled eggs: nice in theory, but not devily enough/a little boring

Sriracha deviled eggs: of course, these spicy MFs were the most devilish and, therefore, the best of the bunch

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Spanish-style Spinach and Chickpeas

A couple weeks ago, both Smitten Kitchen and The Minimalist posted recipes for a Spanish-style spinach and chickpea dish with smoked paprika (which is AWESOME... get some if you don't already have it)... both recipes were seriously drool-inducing, so I put them on my to-do list.

The Smitten Kitchen recipe won out this past Monday night, but only because it didn't involve a trip to the grocery store (which, in my case, usually involves waiting in line for a minimum of 20 minutes while the person in front of me vehemently argues with the cashier about god-knows-what).
Deb's was the meatless version of the two recipes, as Mark Bittman's involved Spanish chorizo. However, you didn't miss the meat in her recipe- somehow her ingredients and method gave the impression that the chickpeas and spinach were cooked in a deliciously meaty sauce. I'm curious to try Mark Bittman's version, too, for comparison. I'm sure his is equally delicious.

Anyway, this recipe was really tasty. You could serve it as an appetizer on little toasts, or, as we did, as a main dish, along with a green salad on the side.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Alton Brown's "Burger of the Gods"

Tim had his boys over to barbecue and watch the Final Four last night, and he went all out... no package of frozen Costco hamburgers for this fellow. He had seen Alton Brown make his "Burger of the Gods" on TV and decided this was his chance to give it a try.
Alton's recipe skips the pre-ground meat in favor of grinding your own chuck and sirloin in the food processor... an extra step, but it was totally worth it. These burgers were awesome. Try them. Sorry this photo doesn't do them justice... I took it about 5 beers in.

Romaine Salad with Sweet Onion, Strawberry and a Sweet Poppy Seed Dressing

Chuck was tasked with bringing a salad to Lindsay's potluck... she remembered this great strawberry and greens salad Martha used to make when we were kids, so she dialed Martha up and got the recipe.
Slices strawberries, romaine, sweet Vidalia onion, and a poppyseed dressing:
1/2 C mayonnaise, 1/3 C sugar, 1/4 whole milk, 2 TBS white vinegar, 2 TBS poppy seeds.

Phyllo and Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus

Lindsay and Tim had a gang of us over for a potluck Easter dinner in their backyard since the weather was so amazing here in DC this weekend... great food, great company, totally inappropriate but hilarious conversation!!
My contribution to the dinner was an asparagus appetizer that was super tasty, although somewhat of a pain to make. It sounds simple enough: prosciutto and phyllo dough wrapped around an asparagus spear, brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with parmesan. Easier said than done, though. The thinly sliced prosciutto is sticky and breaks into pieces, and phyllo is even more finicky and easily torn. But the ultimate product was worth it- salty, crispy, asparagus-y. The motto for making these little buggers should be "less is more"- you need only half a piece of prosciutto and like a quarter of a sheet of phyllo for each one.