Saturday, August 28, 2010

Eggplant Feta Salad Toasts

Sometimes I feel like Deb from Smitten Kitchen has a secret view into my refrigerator. She always seems to put together dishes that use exactly what I have that week from the CSA. Maybe she gets a photo of my fridge contents every week, a la Mark Menjivar's 'You Are What You Eat'? I guess I shouldn't be too surprised since that's the nature of eating seasonally, but still... mind reader! Refrigerator looker! Anywho... this roasted eggplant salad with feta and green onion is super easy and pretty delicious. Try it!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thai Time: Thai Corn Fritters and Pad Kee Mao (kinda)

It was Thai time tonight at 1346.

A probably-not-authentic-but-tasty-nonetheless version of Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao) with chicken and broccoli. The sauce has the quadruple threat: sweet, spicy, sour, salty.

Served alongside some delicious Thai-style corn fritters dipped in sweet chili sauce.
The corn fritters are tasty, but dangerous! Chuck was in charge of frying these up, but when the oil got hot and made contact with the corn kernels, they popped like popcorn. Actually, more like searing hot corn kernel mini bombs. Chuck has the battle wounds to show for it, too.
So, beware if you attempt these corn fritters. They are not to be fried by the faint of heart or those slow to react in the face of fast-moving projectiles.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Eggplant/Tomato/Mozzarella Panini with Artichoke Caper Spread

Got a mixture of different types of eggplant from the CSA this week and was craving something cheesy and melty. Eggplant panini it was!

My first attempt was somewhat of a FAIL, as I cut the bread (a cheapie ciabatta from the Giant bakery... Columbia Heights needs a legit bread bakery like crazy... I heard rumors of one thinking of opening in the area, but it's not set in stone by any means) horizontally rather than vertically, and it was waaaaay too fat... too big to fit in one's mouth (that's what she said!). The second time I cut vertical slices from the bread and it was much easier to manage.
The artichoke/caper/parsley spread was awesome, though. Hearty, a little salty, fresh, a hint of creaminess from the mayo. Based on this recipe, but with the addition of fresh parsley to brighten it up.

The eggplant was sliced thinly, salted for 20 minutes or so, then grilled. Thrown on the bread with some yellow heirloom tomato, the artichoke spread, grated mozzarella, squished and grilled.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Roasted Jalapeno Popper Dip

I am a sucker for pretty much any and all bar food: saucy and messy hot wings, crispy and bacony potato skins, and spicy and creamy jalapeno poppers. When we had an influx of jalapenos last summer, I made creamy corn and bacon stuffed jalapenos. They were tasty, but stuffing them was time-consuming, and for those who aren't enamored of jalapeno, maybe not the best thing. This jalapeno popper dip, which incorporates all the deliciousness of the bar staple, is much easier and more manageable for heatphobes. Doesn't look like much, but it disappeared in about 2.5 minutes, so that says a lot.I messed with the recipe a little bit... instead of pickled jalapenos and canned green chilies, I halved, seeded, and roasted 3 fresh jalapenos (stuck them under the broiler for 7-8 minutes until soft and charred), then minced them. Added the roasted jalapenos to the food processor with some cream cheese, a dab of mayo, a handful of shredded cheddar and mozzarella, salt and pepper. Poured into a lightly greased baking dish and topped with panko and Parmesan. Baked at 350 for 25 minutes.

Awesome! Served with tortilla chips and veggies.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Roasted Tomato Sauce for Freezing

So, as I did last year, I bought bulk Roma tomatoes for making sauce to freeze and use in the winter. Last year's sauce was flavorful, but kinda watery for my taste. Since I had such good luck with oven-roasting tomatoes earlier this week, I decided to try a roasted tomato sauce for freezing this year. So far, so good! It's looking thicker and chunkier than last year's, for sure.
I did one batch with carrots, a la the Other Martha, which tasted very sweet. Then I decided to do a second batch with no carrots, but with a sprinkle of red chili flakes prior to roasting the tomatoes, onions, garlic, etc.

Korean Beef Rice Bowl

This Korean-style beef and veggie bowl was a good use of fresh summer veggies like carrots and zucchini. However, I think it could benefit from a squirt or two of Sriracha to give it at least a little kick. But I think everything might taste bland relative to the Szechuan spicy I tasted this past weekend...

Aspirations: Cooking with Szechuan Peppercorns

So this post isn't about a dish that I cooked myself... it's more of an aspirational ode to Szechuan peppercorns. I aspire to acquire some Szechuan peppercorns and cook up some lip-numbing, tongue-tingling, spicy-as-hell Chinese food at home in the near future.

My aspirations sprung forth thusly: this past weekend, Tim and I got take-out from a Chinese food joint not too far from us that we had heard cooks up some relatively authentic spicy Szechuan dishes. In our infinite wisdom, we decided to order four dishes off of the "Ma La" (read: super-freakin'-spicy) menu, rather than try one or two spicy dishes and balance them out with a non-spicy one. We ordered ma la wontons, dan dan noodles, mapo tofu and a spicy eggplant.

My favorite of the dishes was the mapo tofu. Zippy, peppery sauce coating smooth, creamy chunks of soft tofu, nuggets of ground pork, with the occasional fermented bean or two. This dish is a relative of a spicy pork and tofu dish that Jennifer has cooked for us in the past, but the addition of the Szechuan peppercorns gave it an entirely new kick. The peppercorns literally make your mouth tingle and go numb... it's a totally different type of spiciness than you are probably used to from chile peppers and the like. But awesome. Less burning and more anesthetizing.

In the end, we came out mostly unscathed... mostly. Tim says he still can't feel his tongue, but I have found a new obsession in the Szechuan peppercorn. Expect a post on homemade mapo tofu soon!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fire-Roasted Corn and Tomato Salsa

Tomato time continues!

Today's recipe was a fire-roasted corn and Roma tomato salsa, served on top of chicken quesadillas (chicken breast was rubbed with cumin, chili powder and garlic salt before cooking) with chipotle-lime sour cream. Yum.
This salsa is really nice- it's fresh, it has a kick, and the sweetness of the fresh corn compliments the acidity of the tomato and lime. Super easy, too, especially if you don't bother to peel the tomatoes (which I didn't because I was lazy).

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Oven-roasted Tomatoes

The CSA has brought a bounty of tomatoes to 1346: This week I bought bulk Roma tomatoes (10 lbs!) to make sauce, like I did last year, but I still had a couple Romas and a pint of mixed cherry and grape tomatoes from last week. So clearly it's tomato eatin' time.
I thought these slow-roasted tomatoes from Smitten Kitchen would be a good solution for the smaller tomatoes... roasting the tomatoes really concentrated their sweetness and tomato-y flavors. I served them with an herbed goat cheese spread on crackers... awesome and easy appetizer that would look impressive at a party!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Spicy Black Bean Balls

Spicy black bean balls... no relation to chocolate salty balls.
Based on this spicy black bean burger recipe from Real Men Eat Green (a cute website from an earnest Canadian trying to convince men that eating and living green is cool/good for you), I decided to make these into dippable balls (ha! I said 'dippable balls'!) rather than burgers since we didn't have any buns.

Served with a chipotle/lime/cilantro sour cream dipping sauce. Mmmm.

Blackberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

A couple months ago I made a coffee cake on a whim, and found out that coffee cake is apparently a weakness for Tim. He's having a super stressful month at work, so I thought I'd use some CSA blackberries I had hanging around in the fridge to make him a coffee cake to bring to a big meeting he had this morning with his coworkers.
This coffee cake was pretty easy, as coffee cakes should be, and it was also pretty good and definitely looked pretty. However, I think I should have put it on a higher shelf in the oven, because the bottom got a little too dark.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Okra Fritters!

I love okra. I don't think I'd ever had okra until I went to New Orleans for Mardi Gras in college, and then I think I didn't get the chance to try it again for years. Some people don't like the stickiness or hairiness of it, but I don't find it offensive- once you cook it, it's no longer sticky or hairy. I looooove it: deep-fried, Indian-style, and apparently now in fritters.
I saw this recipe in the Other Martha's Everyday Food magazine this month and immediately decided to make them... the okra stood up really well, stayed crisp and was perfectly complimented by the thin, equally crispy buttermilk batter. Mmmm.

Okra Fritters
adapted from Martha Stewart Everyday Food, September 2010

Vegetable oil, for frying
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
salt and pepper
2 cups sliced okra
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
1 egg
1/4 cup buttermilk

- Heat oil over medium in a large, heavy skillet
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Add okra and onion, toss to coat
- In a small bowl, whisk together egg and buttermilk
- Add egg/buttermilk mixture to okra and stir until just combined
- Drop 2-tablespoonful mounds of batter into the pan and smoosh down with spatula
- Fry until golden, about 4 minutes per side
- Drain on paper towels
- Season with salt and serve warm

Monday, August 9, 2010

Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms with Pancetta and Chives

Yum. Loosely based on the Other Martha's recipe, but jazzed up with some crumbled pancetta, minced chives, and toasted breadcrumbs. Creamy with salty, earthy, and herby flavors.

Zucchini "Pasta" with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Toasted Breadcrumbs

Wow, for a healthy, low-carb meal, this zucchini "pasta" was pretty good!

Super thin, barely cooked zucchini strips cut with the mandoline is a proxy for carbolicious pasta. Topped with a simple fresh tomato sauce and some toasted garlicky breadcrumbs for crunchy texture (my addition to the recipe), this stuff could almost pass for the real thing. Almost.

In any case, it's a great summer meal that uses up those farmer's market staples that are in abundance- giant zucchini the size of your leg, tomatoes coming out your ears... try it!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Mexican Feast

I heard that chilaquiles is what people in Mexico eat when they're hungover. Today I think I still had a bit of a hangover from Chuck and Liz's party on Friday night, so I thought chilaquiles might do the trick. Stale corn tortillas, crisped up, cooked in roasted tomatillo salsa, topped with onions, sour cream, feta and a fried egg. Mmm.

Served with a side of Mexican-style street corn (off the cob, as Tim is due for a root canal tomorrow)... awesome.

Birthday Goodies!

For Chuck's 27th birthday, she got two desserts... one hand-held, relatively mess-free dessert for the keg party, and one melty, delicious ice cream cake for the after-party.

1. One-Bowl Mini Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:
This recipe from the Other Martha is super easy- one bowl, one measuring cup, one measuring spoon. Plus, the cupcakes stay really moist. I had just a little bit less than the required amount of cocoa, so I topped it off with some espresso powder, which I think really complimented the chocolate.
The buttercream frosting is decadent... don't look at the ingredient list, though.

2. Ice Cream Cake with Chocolate Crunchies and Heath Bar:
The ice cream cake I made is loosely based on this recipe, but with chocolate and coffee ice creams, topped with Heath bar crumbles. The chocolate crunchies in the cake are great- I was worried they would get soggy between ice cream layers, but they stayed crunchy!
If you do try making this cake, though, I warn you: beware the leaky springform pan!

Cantaloupe Sherbet: Meh.

The flavors of this cantaloupe sherbet were really tasty: creamy, fruity, a hint o' lime. However, the texture was off-putting- lots of little bits of cantaloupe took away from the smoothness you want from a sherbet... I give this recipe a resounding "Meh." Maybe if I'd run the cantaloupe puree through a seive or chinois before mixing it with the cream and freezing it, it wouldn't be as weird?

Pork Tenderloin with Plum and Rosemary Coulis

I got a pint of pretty plums from the CSA and accidentally let them get overly ripe on the counter... they were super soft, so I figured they would be good in a sauce. I was right!
This recipe was really easy, tasted great and looked pretty impressive (although apparently I was incapable of taking a good photo of it!). The pork was perfectly complimented by the sweet plum and the rosemary made it very earthy.


Made this panzanella salad with cukes and mini-tomatoes from the CSA- yum! Very summery and delicious. I used a combination of the ingredients in this recipe and Ina's methodology and vinaigrette.
Awesome- it was a hit.I plan to try other panzanellas in the future... maybe in the fall I'll try a winter panzanella with butternut squash and brussel sprouts.