Sunday, May 27, 2007

Lucky Number 7

Ms. Leftover Queen challenged us to think of 7 random food facts about ourselves. So here I go on a whim without much thought.

1) Last week at Salt Lick I had my very FIRST rib. Now I must say my dad has been making ribs forever! And I never had one. Why? Eating something that is off of a bone from an animal seemed grotesque. However, I broke that rule with lamb chops, and if I could eat meat of a lamb chop, why not a pork rib? Let me say, it is the MOST tasty thing ever! I feel in love. Like Lauren said last week, "I don't need a man, all I need is really good food." I agree Lauren. Completely!

2) I've never had lobster, crab, clams, mussels, and most sea faring creatures. I've always grown up in the interior of the U.S. Seafood was never presented to me until I was about 12 or 13. It was salmon in Seattle and it was tasty. Very tasty. (Wow, I need a new word) But I have a fear of eating something that can stare at me while I eat it. It would seem like its mocking me, "Jerry, look you killed an innocent creature." However, I plan on overcoming that fear, when I go to D.C. in August.

3) I don't like coffee except the smell. I've tried a couple of sips, but never really like it. It has an earthy flavor, too earthy. However, the smell reminds me of Sunday mornings, when my dad was home from flights. It was always coffee, muffins, and Fox News. The simple things that didn't seem important at the time, but now you cherish.

4) I was a vegetarian for 18 months and it almost killed me. Marathon running and lack of protein are never a good idea. And of course in Texas being a vegetarian is shunned upon and I respect vegetarians, but like the shirt says "I did not get to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian."

5) My favorite sandwhich is a baguette with tomato, basil, and goat cheese. Why? It reminds me of summer. The tomato rippening of the vine and you can go pick it out of the garden. Take a parring knife, cut into slices place it on the bread, then basil, spread goat cheese on the top piece and you have a sandwich. A nice ripe tomato from the garden gives you the best taste. The goat cheese gives it a bite, with the subtle taste of basil in it. And you can get messy with the tomato juices.

6) I believe in farmer's markets not grocery stores. I believe in entrepreneur's not restaurant chains (except Starbucks). I believe in the grower not the mass producer. Because they have the best product. The farm has been in the family for years and they know what they are doing. The restaurant gets fresh, local ingredients and produces a menu that rises to the occasion. The market brings different products together for a close bond of friendship and knowledge.

7) Dessert is the best meal of the day. Life would be a crime without it. Chocolate, cake, cookies, ice cream. If I could stay thin and eat it all day, I would. (I think most people would.) People who don't indulge in dessert occassionally, aren't living. Because the best smells come from the oven. You can never capture it in a perfume, or in a can. You can never say that cardboard chocolate carob cookie tastes as good as the real thing. So give me dessert with a little more whipped cream and don't think I'll share, cause I won't. Oh and don't be in the middle between me and ice cream!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A Request for Potatoes

Well, I didn't think the potatoes in the picture would entice anyone, but I got a request from Paul. So I'm going to assume someone else might want it too. So here you go.

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Red Potatoes (any potatoo really, I just use small red potatoes)
Olive Oil about a 1 Tbspn

Heat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Cut the potoatoes in to small pieces or whatever cut you like. Drizzle olive oil over it. With the spices it is again guess work. I like mine really peppery with the rosemary. So sprinkle how much you want on the potatoes then toss together. I use my hands. Don't be scared to use them. Then place them on a metal pan. Cook them for 10 minutes then turn them over, cook again for another 10 minutes. Keep turning about every 5 minutes until a toasted brown. They will be crispy and oh so delicious.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Rebel! Blend your Meat!

"You can't grind meat in a blender, you'll need a food processor."
-What does Big Daddy say when he's angry? He says Bull, Big Mamma.-
So I say Bull. You can grind meat to make ground meat in a blender. You pulse it until you reach a ground meat consistency.
What led me to hamburgers?
Partly to the Minimalist article in the NYT about the "perfect burger" and my not so good burger on Sunday. This combination causes a girl like me to crave- a burger, fries, and a milkshake. I had all but the latter.
Online definitions describe a burger as a meat patty with a round bun with condiments. The Minimalist describes the burger as a piece of meat overwhelmed by condiments. Americans do like their ketchup and mustard, and if you put mayo on the burger it automatically means you're Canadian. (I learned that this week.) One even described it as a "fried" patty. Fried burger? Have you fried a burger?
Grill is the most often method I use. It's the Texan in me. Or maybe the pyro. But a non-grilled burger doesn't taste right. Charcoal does something to the burger.
So with my craving intact. I decide how to flavor my burger. Hmmm. I have fresh basil from the garden. An Italian burger? Yes.
So I go to Whole Foods, look at the meat counter. Overcome by meat I ask the wonderful meat man, "What is the best for grinding meat for hamburger?"
He picks out three- sirlion, chuck, and rump roasts. I thought what did the Minimalist say about cut? Cursing myself, I choose the rump. Two pounds later I have my meat. Way to much, but will last me for at least 2 months, if not longer. I never share meat.
Pick up my oregano, shop and talk, before coming home.
I cut my beef into strips, save 2 for steaks later, before cubbing and blending my meat. A friend told me that I had to use a food processor. I am a college student and a foodie, but I don't have the money for all the cooking toys I want (right now I don't have a mixer and I bake at least 2 a week). I told him I was going to blend it, he told me it would puree my meat. It didn't. It made a nice grind of the roast. You just had to watch it.
So I made a patty because I was eating alone. Meat was all over the kitchen, but it worked. You can make ground beef, by blending. Ah at least one accomplishment this week, proving someone wrong.

Blended Italian Burger
1 lb meat (rump, chuck, or something with good marbling)
bread crumbs

I guessed worked the spices and others ingredients for one patty. So I say guess work for you too. The parmesan helps to keep it moist.

Condiments-tomato, onion, and a bun if you wish

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Creamy Italian White

Some countries wear white to funerals. Others wear white to symbolize purity, innocence, or peace. You can see why I don't wear white. But when seven spoons author, Tara posted the Shades of White theme for a dessert post of the month. I literally jumped out of my chair at work and went over to Bob, immediately babbling about the round-up. He sat there with a smile on his face while I went a mile a minute.
I started making a list of things to make-cake, ice cream, frosting, and the lists goes on. I realized afterwards that my bank account could not take a hit like this. It would greatly hurt my summer money. I paused. Wait a minute. VERONIKA'S BIRTHDAY/GRADUATION CAKE!
The smile reappeared on my face. Veronika's favorite cake is Italian Cream Cake, which is a shade of white. I began my search for the perfect recipe for the perfect lady. The internet gave me many millions of choices. Most of them with cream cheese frosting with pecans in it. Well, that wasn't white was it.
Then I was stumped, how to get it white? I read the ingredients- sugar, shortening, butter, eggs, levening agents, coconut- wait what. Coconut. Instead of pecans I would do coconut. Probably not my own idea, probably been substitute for pecans before, but it solved my problem.
Tuesday night I made the cake. Successfully beating my egg whites unlike the dulce de leche cake. I didn't make them stiff enough meaning a suken cake, but I was still happy. However, during baking, I read the reviews. "Double frosting on cake or won't have enough." I cursed. I only had one brick of cream cheese. I got off work at 5 p.m., farmer's market, Veronika at 7 p.m., when did I have time for another brick.
Sadly, I called Veronika Wednesday afternoon, asking if she could pick up cream cheese and powdered sugar. I felt horrible. Asking the birthday girl to pick up ingredients is not the thing to do. (Veronika, I love you!) So I beat the cheese with butter and sugar, sprinkling it over the stove. It came together and I started eating it, while icing the cake.
Veronika knocked and I yelled to come in. Opening the door with messy hands is not a good idea. She came and said hello, putting her finger in the bowl. I caught her and glared. Dinner was cooking and we caught up. Once again, realizing, she's leaving me for grad school. We ate pizza and watched Bones, drooling over David Boreanaz. In between, I beat more frosting.
Then I got, "Is the cake ready yet?"
I looked at her. Her face had a big grin. "Almost."
She got up and came for more icing. I said nothing because I was engrossed in the frosting process, which I royally suck at. I have a tendency to take the crumbs of the top. It makes a big mess and not a pretty cake. The coconut would perfect where I would fail with the frosting. However, pressing coconut became a task, but then it was done. Perfecto.
"Take a picture so I can eat it," I heard.
I cut a slice giving it to her, while I took photos.
"Is it good?" I asked.
"It's great," she answered.
Now the first time I had Italian Cream Cake, I had it in a restaurant. It compared to carrot cake without the carrots. I was told that I had bad cake and must try it again. Veronika gave me that chance. I must say that the cake was excellent. Next time more coconut.
Veronika is a special lady. Full of happiness, spirit, and spit. Ask her about getting dessert and she's always game. She gives in to indulgence. A small slice will never do, it's always larger than life. Like her heart and spirit. I'll miss her, when she's gone.

Epicurious Italian Cream Cake
For cake layers
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable shortening, softened
1 stick (1/2 cup) margarine, softened
5 large eggs, separated
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans

For frosting
an 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 stick (1/2 cup) margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
a 1-pound box confectioners' sugar

Make cake layers:
Preheat oven to 375°F. and lightly butter and flour three 9- by 2-inch round cake pans, knocking out any excess flour.

In a bowl with an electric mixer beat together sugar, shortening, and margarine until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Into another bowl sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Beat flour mixture into egg mixture in 2 batches alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, until combined. Beat in vanilla, coconut, and chopped pecans. Beat egg whites in another bowl until they just hold stiff peaks and fold into batter gently but thoroughly.

Divide batter among pans, smoothing tops, and bake in upper two thirds of oven, switching position of pans in oven halfway through baking, until a tester comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool cake layers in pans on racks 10 minutes and invert onto racks to cool completely.

Make frosting:
In a bowl with an electric mixer beat together cream cheese, margarine, and vanilla until smooth. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar, beating until creamy.

Stack cake layers on a cake plate, spreading about 1/2 cup frosting between each layer. Spread remaining frosting on top and side of cake.

*Note: Coconut works well to cover frosting mistakes. Oh and definitely double the frosting.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Tickling of the Throat

I am not a fan of bar-b-que sauce. I like my meat, moist and tender, no sauce. I like dry rub, marinating, no sauce. That may make me fickle, but I know what I like. I don't know why. I don't mind it, if the meats cooked in it, but I'm not going to spread more on after the meat is cut. Maybe it is because I like my sweets in forms of chocolate, cakes, and cookies. But I was willing to try again, maybe after years of not eating it, I could find love in Rootbeer Bar-B-Que sauce.
Why rootbeer? I have tons of it. I have found a great local rootbeer-Maine Root. It is based out of Austin. The guys are great, Mark and Matt. I decided to do a project on them for my final video journalism project. They make a saspirilla, ginger root, and a root beer. They only sell root beer in Austin, but are trying to move production from Maine to Austin. They aren't famous, very down to earth.
My dad loves the root beer and so do I. It is something you can sip for awhile and enjoy. Its great for some of us who don't drink a lot of alcohol. (Is this an advertisement or what?) Me being so little cannot drink a whole jug in a week. So I've searched created recipes to go with this rootbeer. There weren't many, but I found some.
One of which is this root beer sauce. It is tangy compared to other sauces. Not sweet. It is sticky compared to others due to the stickiness of the soda. I like it though. Would be good with a steak, too. I tried it with chicken, it was yummy. The chicken was kept moist by the sauce. As a Texan, I'd probably spice it a little more, but for others it would be good as is.

Epicurious Root Beer Barbeque Sauce
1 cup root beer
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup orange juice
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon mild-flavored (light) molasses
1 teaspoon liquid smoke*
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Combine all ingredients in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 20 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Cool slightly. Transfer to bowl. Cover and refrigerate. (Can be made 2 weeks ahead; keep refrigerated.)

*Smoke-flavored liquid seasoning is available at specialty foods stores and many supermarkets.

Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The basic

The simple dishes that most people begin with, I have a tendency to avoid. I shoot for the hard dishes- risotto, pie, and others. Of course these dishes don't always come with success, but more often than not they are edible.
Recently I told a friend that I had only had scrambled eggs. His mouth dropped. He was shocked. I grew up on scrambled, I don't remember another choice except the occasional omelet. I saw other egg dishes, but had no clue what they were. Sunny side up, over easy, boiled, fried egg, poached. Dishes I had never tasted or experimented with.
Along with this recent discovery, I found out that my dad didn't really like scrambled eggs. He ordered sunny side up, which I learned was his pick of style of eggs. I sat at the restaurant table stunned. Had I been living a life full of contradictions and lies to get girls to eat their breakfast?
I don't know. Maybe its the shock. But last week I decided it was time to break my innocent lack of experimentation with egg dishes. Time for eggs over easy with biscuits. I tried flipping them with my wrist, but they didn't move. So I flipped them over with the spatula. (Really need to work on my wrist action.) I sat down at the table delicately, sprinkling salt and pepper, before cutting into the yolk and watched it flow out.
As not having experienced an egg like that before, I found it odd. The yolk has a weird taste. It's creamy liquid, really just taste like salt and pepper. But it goes well with biscuits.
Then I tried sunny side up. I like cooking it because one egg takes over the whole pan like a the English taking over the Scottish. The yolk just stays there like a bright sun in a white cloudy day. It's happy dish, perfect for a rainy day.
Once again, I ate the egg with biscuits. (I have this obsession with biscuits currently, I'm trying to get them to become flaky.) The yolk is a perfect companion to the flaky biscuit. Swip the soft bread across yellow liquid and it marries together like apple pie.
This time the burst of the yolk brought a smile to my face. It just oozes out. Like lava flows out a volcano. The taste was sweet and savory. It reminds me of the mornings that I had a fancy breakfast, not cereal or pop tarts, but of bacon, biscuits, sausage. It's what I imagine that my great grandfather, grandfather, and father had for breakfast before working a day on the farm.
I haven't tried all the style of eggs in the world, but I'm working on it. Not only different styles, but different dishes. There is still poached, quiche, tarts, or fried eggs left to try. There's still a whole world out there. I got a lifetime to experiment with life.