Friday, February 27, 2009

Patatas Bravas.

Yum yum. Wasn't that the first thing that popped in your head? Perhaps its nature's way of comforting us during these chilly winter months, but potatoes have recently become a problem in my house. Well, not that an intervention is necessary, at least not now....but....I made this traditional Spanish tapas dish the other night. It was my meal. Yes, I ate potatoes for dinner, so sue me. (I also ate sweet potato fries in LA for dinner too). I've had this lovely book called Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America by Jose Andres (well known Spanish chef in the D.C. area) and with my recent addiction to the PBS series, Spain: On the Road Again, I pulled this from my dusty shelves in hopes of introducing some of Spain's tapas dishes. This was the first recipe I was drawn to make mainly because of the potatoes. These potatoes are poached in oil (to cook them) and then fried in the same oil a second time to get all nice, brown, and crispy. The tomato based sauce simmered on the stovetop with garlic, bay leaf, some olive oil and the classic, pimenton (Spanish smoked paprika). This is one of those instances where regular paprika will not suffice, go out and spend the money on some good pimenton, it's absolutely worth it. And you can use it in a variety of other dishes that call for paprika. Patatas bravas is also paired with the classic aioli (garlic mayonnaise) - here's another confession, the last couple of times I've attempted to make aioli, I have failed miderably. I doomed myself as "aioli illiterate" (though I made it before successfully). However, I managed to redeem myself with Jose Andre's modern aioli recipe in this book, I'm sticking with this one! Jose Andres also has a PBS series called Made in Spain, I recently rented the first disc from Season 1 and love it! His enthusiasm is infectious and his creativity is mind boggling. I want to book a trip to Spain so bad as a result of it. One day, I day. Until then I can recreate some of Spain's delicious dishes here at home.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Easy as 1, 2, 3.

Why do we make cooking so complicated? Why do we insist on over the top? Why do we think if it doesn't take an hour, it won't be delicious and good for you? Maybe, I'm on this soapbox all alone, but I highly doubt it. Those of us who value cooking as an art form, perhaps even a form of therapy, do not mind investing the time into preparing a lovely home cooked meal. But let's face it, with the weak economy and penny pinching, it's important to get all you can for your hard earned money. I usually am notorious for meal planning, if I don't plan it, I won't make it. And while this requires some extra effort, there is often a great reward, for the most part. In an effort to save money myself, I'm constantly looking at recipes that I can "half" or use for something else, or something that is easy on my tummy and my pocketbook. You know there's at least one cookbook, you turn to when your mind is blank and belly is screaming, for me, that's How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. Recently, this cookbook celebrated it's 10th birthday! This cookbook ranks up there with The Joy of Cooking, in my humble opinion. Anyhoo, last night I made a simple and delicious stirfry with chicken and Napa cabbage. I piled two scoops on top of some fragrant, nutty brown rice. It was food for the soul. Not only was it tasty, but super easy to make!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

On The Shelves - Cookbook Review

Check out page 20 of this week's Whatzup to read my cookbook review of The Art & Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet! Enjoy!

The World's 50 Best Food Blogs

Like we need an excuse to waste the day away by staying on the computer more....this article features the world's best 50 food blogs named by the London Times. Cheers to blogging!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

my funny valentine.

Valentine's Day 2009 - all by myself...don't want to be all by myself....yes I'm singing Celine Dion as I type this post! In all seriousness, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I treated myself to a matinee of He's Just Not That Into You, it was rather entertaining. A post earlier in the week (on The Wednesday Chef) motivated me to try and make this "no-knead" pizza dough. I had some left over mozzarella and feta cheese. I made a simple tomato pizza sauce thanks to Tyler Florence's recipe on Food Network (Super simple, 1-2 garlic cloves, minced, 2 tbs. evoo, 1-28 ounce can tomato puree, 1 tsp. dried marjoram, 1 tsp. dried basil (Note I substituted Italian seasoning for both dried herbs) and simmer for at least 30 minutes once you bring it to a boil). I'm not the most adept at tossing the pizza dough, but the texture of it was magnificent! Now if I could only thick or thin....without losing the air bubbles, which create lovely air pockets for the dough. The crust was super duper! Rustic indeed, but I think with a little practice, I could become good at this.

Monday, February 16, 2009

moussaka. greek style lasagna.

I simply adore Greek food and it's a shame I have to make it myself (Fort Wayne lacks a booming authentic Greek community, let alone restaurants), but I suppose the lack has forced me to experiment and cook! Thank you to The Olive and the Caper, a Greek cookbook I've had sitting on my shelf for years. I bought it at the suggestion of one of my favorite radio food shows, Good Food on KCRW in Los Angeles. You can listen to it online! Anyhoo, I've been craving one of my favorites, moussaka. Essentially, it's a greek version of lasagna minus the pasta. Actually, it's more like a greek version of eggplant parmigiana. Anyhoo, its layers of baked slices of eggplant (or you can fry them), a ground lamb mixture of tomatoes, cinnamon, allspice, olive oil and salt and pepper, topped with a bechamel that includes feta and parmesan (I don't have access to the greek cheese it calls for and used this as a substitute). It wasn't as tasty as the moussaka at The Great Greek in Studio City, California, but it did satisfy my craving.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I know the purpose of this blog is to celebrate the joy and passion I have for food, but we all know the truth. Food can be your friend or your enemy, depending on your perspective. Last night I watched an independent film called Disfigured. I saw it in Hollywood Video one night, it intrigued me and I added it to my Netflix rental queue. Mind you, it wasn't the "best" picture I've seen but it raised alot of issues affecting women, weight, the means we go to get that "ideal" weight, body image, self acceptance, sex, and more. The storyline involves a woman involved in a fat acceptance group and during one of their meetings a struggling anorexic shows up to the meeting, because she feels fat. The group doesn't accept her, but these two women end up becoming friends. The struggle is essentially the same, though these two use food for different means. The story is powerful and raises equally important questions about our bodies. Perhaps food, no matter how much or how little of it we eat isn't necessarily the issues, but how we perceive ourselves. How society often dictates cultural beauty. What is beautiful? What does it mean to love yourself unconditionally, no matter what your body looks like.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

unwrap this - birthday bread.

Tomorrow is my boss' birthday. He's not a particularily "birthday celebration" kind of guy, but I wanted to do something nice in his honor. So I decided to bake him some birthday "quick" bread. You gotta love quick breads, not only are they rather easy to squeeze in between everything else, they also can easily adapt to becoming a snack, dessert or breakfast treat. Quick breads are the baker's multitasking dream recipe. Functional, easy, tasty and interchangable. This "coco-nana bread" features a not-so-traditional banana bread, chock full of cocoa powder and chunks of bittersweet chocolate. Skimming through my vast collection, I found this gem in Baking: From My Home to Yours by the infamous Dorie Greenspan and figured it would be a safe bet. (Side note: pictures of her kitchen on her website might encourage drooling, though I am not legally responsible for the mess). My kitchen smells like heaven, of course, cutting off a slice for myself would be rude and anti-birthday-quick bread etiquette, so if it tastes as good as it smells, I think we have a winner here.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A sweet gesture.

I can take credit for pretty much everything here on my blog, but all I can take credit for on this one are the photos. Upon my return from Los Angeles, a few weeks ago, I found this in my fridge. Paul made me a key lime pie as a "welcome back" gesture, shocking, and yes, true! It was his first time making a pie and my first time eating key lime pie, and boy was it delicious. He used a recipe from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook. Since this was a first for both of us, I was plesantly surprised at its extreme tart qualities in addition to its sweetness. It's not subtle, whatsoever. I think the graham cracker crust was one of my favorite parts, it was dense, sweet and crunchy, a perfect accompaniment to the tart custard. He took presentation liberties by topping it off with toasted coconut and lime zest.