Saturday, April 19, 2014

New Home NJ Edition

hello, blog - it has been awhile. it has been so long, in fact, that i'm not sure whether to resurrect this blog or the livejournal, both of which lie dormant. i ended up here largely because this is a kate and tim post rather than a just me post.

empty rental house
so: we bought a house! this is our fourth house. i'm required to live here for at least four years so that we don't once again lose all the money by selling too soon. happily, i really love my job and can see myself staying here for another bunch of years.

it's energizing owning a house. i was so lazy in the rental -- there were tons of things i would've changed about it, but i never felt motivated since i was so unattached to the place. we moved into the new house about a week ago, and i'm compiling lists and curating pinterest boards with projects and ideas.
soon to be coffee cart

new garden
so far today: farmers market for tamales (as usual on saturday, and now a few minutes closer!), go to old house and finish cleaning (plus pot the plant we're leaving for the new tenants), drop off donations at good will, stop by home depot, sand and clean kitchen cart, weed garden. all of that before 2pm! now i'm sitting on the couch watching baseball, waiting for my back to recover enough to go out and work on the garden some more.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

NOLA v 3.0

We're back from our third annual trip to New Orleans. Once again, the food memories are numerous. The standouts were Three Muses for dinner and music and Killer Poboys for veg and carnivore (cash only) lunch options. We returned to favorites like Besh Steakhouse, Central Grocery, Cafe Beignet, and tried out other new places including Root, American Sector and the New Orleans Rum Distillery (where we sampled tasty local rum and went on an informative tour). At some point, I'll get around to writing all of those reviews.

Now that we're back, I need to eat a little healthier for awhile. We bought an exercise bike, so I can hopefully refind a workout routine. I am not a dieter, but I can be more mindful, and not eat my go-to fried rice quite as frequently. Winter makes it tricky, since all I want to eat are comfort foods, but with everything in moderation, I think it'll all be okay.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

New recipes from this week

Asian-Brined Pork Loin from Food and Wine Magazine. There were good ideas here, but also a few significant shortcomings. One, I have no idea how to carve a pork roast, so now I have a bunch of ragged looking slices of meat, and am gnawing much meat off of bones rather than trying to cut around them. Two, I am the only meat eater in the house, so a five pound hunk of pork is a little daunting when I realize I have to eat the whole thing. Three, I probably should've trimmed down some of the fat, so that the tasty outsides, seasoned up with the brine, were attached to meat rather than to the fat that I didn't eat.

Ultimately, it isn't that bad. The meat is versatile -- I mixed a little in with mac and cheese, I've made banh mi and fried rice, I've frozen a few pounds worth of pork, and I have plans for stir fries for the rest.

Orange Berry Muffins from Dorie Greenspan's Baking cookbook. This was a simple recipe, no giant mixer needed. I didn't have buttermilk, but I substituted some lowfat milk and some greek yogurt, and I used clementines instead of an orange for the juice and zest. This recipe included the novel step of zesting the citrus and rubbing the zest together with the sugar, to make citrus-scented/flavored sugar as part of the base. As usual, there was some magic and poof, muffins. These are probably worth making again, for their simplicity, texture, and ease of recipe.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Cookbooks in 2013

I am a little bit obsessed with cookbooks. From straightforward, text-heavy recipe collections from church/family groups, to food writing with recipes mixed in, to lush, illustration-heavy tomes -- I can't get enough. Since moving to NJ last May, I haven't unpacked any of our boxes of books except the cookbooks. We received four new ones for Xmas -- Smitten Kitchen, Bouchon Bakery, Meat Lovers Meatless Celebrations and Dorie Greenspan's Baking. I also have a bunch of other books I've been gifted or otherwise come to acquire recently that I don't tend to use as much as I could. So, this year I'm going to try to make at least one new recipe a week. That seems manageable -- nothing crazy like cooking all of Julia Child's recipes in a year -- just something that will keep me engaged with my new books.

Just out of the oven tonight is Dorie Greenspan's coconut tea cake. It's in a bundt pan, and I am notoriously bad at getting things out of a bundt pan, but it smells really good.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

grilled corn salad

this is what happens when perfect summer ingredients come together...

Ingredients
3 tablespoons of your favorite vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 ears fresh corn, grilled
2 cups worth of tomatoes
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes
1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper

 Directions
Whisk the vinegar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil, starting with a few drops and then adding the rest in a steady stream, to make a smooth dressing.

Shear off the corn kernels with a sharp knife over a bowl. Toss in the tomatoes and mozzarella.

Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to coat. Cover and let set for 15 minutes or up to 2 hours.

 (this is also good if you throw in some bacon, or some smoked salmon. i've used sherry vinegar, balsamic vinegar and white wine vinegar - all are good)

modified from food network's version

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Dinner for 2...

Gramercy Tavern.  Tasting menus for each, super good.


Red Snapper, Kohlrabi, Shiitake Mushrooms and Smoked JalapeƱo


Soft Shell Crab, Corn, Red Leaf Lettuce and Pickled Green Tomato


Halibut, Zucchini, Black Olives and Lobster Sauce


Squab, Barley, Sungold Tomatoes and Artichokes

Pork tasting plate

Tart for dessert

Communists:

Sweet Corn, King Crab, Shiso and Pickled Ramps

Heirloom Tomato Salad, Shishito Peppers and Pickled Fennel (there was also some cheese in here, and, when I had all the flavors together it might have been the single best bite of food all night)


Warm Bean Salad and Squash Sauce

Roasted Eggplant, Cucumbers, Peppers and Pine Nuts

Spinach Spaghetti, Tomato, Shishito Peppers and Basil

Cheese plate for dessert

Plus, the table was comped a strawberry tart from the bar menu that was superb.

Plus good beer:  Stone-Cali Belgique IPA, Speedway Stout, and J.W. Lees Harvest Ale, 1998 (it was ridiculous)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

inauthentically delicious

We have added two foods to our summer repertoire of dinner recipes this winter, both with staunchly ethnic roots, both Americanized for my tastes.

Banh Mi -- very little cooking involved, refreshing with its creamy/sour, meaty/crunchy combo of flavors and textures, and infinitely customizable, we've enjoyed creating sandwiches whose only commonality is the pickled veggies, light smear of mayo, and soft, crusty bread. We've found the rolls at Whole Foods' bakery work well, even though they aren't baguette at all, but rather soft rolls. I haven't found the perfect baguette here - they're all too thick-crusted, and I have trouble getting balanced bites with crusty loaves. We use the master recipe here, more or less, alongside the pickled veggie recipe from the same blog. Since I am among the cilantro averse, I've added parsley in place of the devil herb, and I tend to lazily buy whatever meat is on the hot food bar at the Whole Foods, which completely obviates the need for cooking.

Lomo Saltado -- I had this at Acuario's in Port Chester NY, and (aside from having to pick off all the cilantro), it was quite perfect: marinated meat over an order of fries, with the juices from the meat basting the fries. Peruvian poutine. I tried out Food and Wine's recent recipe, adding just a bit of cinnamon, and pouring the meat over potatoes that we doused in olive oil, salt and pepper and threw on the grill. Perfect the first day, and just as good wrapped into a tortilla with cheese and lettuce, burrito style, the next day.


Lomo Saltado, adapted from Food and Wine Magazine

1/4 cup + a couple tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound skirt steak
1 red onion, halved and slivered
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 large tomato, chopped
1/4 cup parsley
3-5 medium sized yukon gold potatoes


  • Throw the steak in the freezer for about half an hour to make slicing it thin easier. 
  • Cut the potatoes into 1/2" cubes, toss with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Put potatoes on the grill over medium heat. 
  • In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, cumin, coriander, garlic and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. 
  • Cut the steak into 4-inch pieces; slice the steaks across the grain 1/2 inch thick and add to the bowl along with the onion. Marinate for 10 minutes. 
  • Heat a large griddle until very hot. 
  • Add the steak and onion and stir-fry over high heat until the meat and onion are cooked through and lightly charred, 3 to 4 minutes. 
  • Add the tomato and cook until softened and beginning to char, about 1 minute. 
  • Add the potatoes and parsley and flip with a spatula to combine. Serve right away.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

beets!

Today in food-news...  beet salad.

It's basically the standard beet salad that we make without even thinking about it these days.

Take some beets, roast them in an oven at 400ish for a while.  Peel, cube.

Toss with toasted walnuts, chopped parsley and either feta or ricotta salata (hard crumbly cheese, a nice blue would probably work too, but not too stinky)

Then, salt & pepper and a nice vinaigrette.  Do everything to taste.

While it takes about 90 minutes, most of that's roasting the beets and letting them cool.

It's really only 15 minutes of actual work, although I turn my hands pink every time when I'm peeling and cutting the beets.

Also, we cut up and slurped down some melon we got at the Trenton farmer's market.  There's about half left, it sounds like what I'll be eating tomorrow...

Monday, July 23, 2012

It's been a week, but that's partially because I was in NH last week doing some roofing and eating carrots.  The carrot was awesome.  I ate all of them that I found.  We haven't seen many here in NJ yet.

This week's share included more zuke! Onions, garlic, chard (I love chard, if I wasn't already married, I might marry it.  I'm hoping for dino kale in the fall though, mmmmm), corn, cabbage and basil.

Food wise:  it was grillin time!  All the corn got grilled and then made into a salad with some tomato and mozz.  Tasty, I just ate the last of it.  Zuke got cut on a bias, tossed with oil, salt and herb and grilled.  My goal was to get a bit of crispy on it.


I'm also going to do my first brewing this week.  It's my project for Wednesday to celebrate a pretty decent work-week.  I'm doing an ESM that's an adaptation of Peter's 5-plumber Ale that I brewed in January.  I'm going to add more munich than is called for in his recipe because (a) I've got 10lbs of the stuff, and (b) it's lighter in color when made all-grain rather than extract and I'd like to bring a bit more body to it.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday?  Bah and nonsense.

More food fun was had...  I made souffle of zuke!  It was pretty tasty.  Then, we ate it last night and I killed it all today for lunch.

Sadly, one of the loaves of zuke bread has already gone bad, we haven't cut into the other one, so no idea if it's both.

Plan for today is:  strata with tomato (thanks Trenton Farmer's market), bread, chard and a bit of gruyere.  mmmm, tasty.

It's sort of food news:  I spend so much energy trying to get and stay hydrated due to all the running that I can't really drink anymore.  Most days, even one beer makes me have a nasty-hangover headache because I lose too much water.  How sad...