Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sauerkraut

Western NY is the country's largest producer of cabbage. Oh boy, you say, rather flatly, I love cabbage. Um. I think.

Cabbage is not a terribly exciting vegetable, I'll admit. I'm not a big fan of cabbage rolls, cabbage is not my favorite reason to eat corned beef, but I do like coleslaw. And sauerkraut.

I know what you're thinking: "But June, sauerkraut is gross. It is slimy and mushy and you always say we shouldn't eat canned vegetable."

Guess what? You're right. Sauerkraut is slimy and mushy and you shouldn't eat canned vegetables. But I'm not talking about sauerkraut from a can. I'm talking about homemade sauerkraut.

Homemade tastes nothing like the pucker-your-mouth in disgust stuff that comes out of a can. And guess what? It is pretty easy to make.

You may recall that I ordered a ridiculously small crock to use for pickles. Yeah, that didn't work out, but I made pickles anyway. The crock, however, is the perfect size to use for a small batch of sauerkraut.

So, the first thing you do is slice the cabbage. I used the slice disk on the cuisinart, the shredding disk would make it too small. I used a really small cabbage, probably only about two pounds. After slicing, I put it into a glass (non-reactive, get it?) bowl and sprinkled it with pickling salt, (about 2 T) juniper berries (1 Tsp) and caraway seeds (1 tsp). I mixed it with my very clean hands (or you could wear gloves). Then the fun begins.

You have to pack the sauerkraut into the crock really tightly, a little at a time. I used a potato masher to tamp it down. At first, it seems you may not get it all in, but keep going. You can pack a lot of cabbage if you take out all of your aggression on it! Once it is packed tightly, you need to weigh it down a bit. Most recipes tell you to put a plate and a heavy weight, and you can do that, but I used a piece of wax paper and a ziploc bag full of water.

After a couple of days, take the weight off of it and skim the top of any gross looking scum. Do this every two or three days, making sure the cabbage stays submerged in the brine. After about four weeks, put it in the fridge. It will keep for a long time. It will have a nice mellow flavor.

Make a reuben. Or choucroute. Or a hot dog. I don't care, just try it.

Excuse the background mess in the last picture. I just got done packing school lunches and making smoothies for breakfast with the giant drink mixer. You can also see the cool meat slicer in the background. I bought a hunk of ham on sale and sliced it for sandwiches myself, cause I am just that awesome.





Sunday, October 10, 2010

Wine and Whine

Last night I hosted Wine and Whine. It seems we haven't been able to have as many of our Women Who Wine (and Whine) get togethers as we used to, so I was really looking forward to it. I wasn't disappointed.

And I should have taken a picture to post. I am really bad at photography and I know I should work on improving it, because it seems pretty important in the food blog world, but generally, I find it a pain. And we all know by now that if I find it a pain, I'm generally going to skip it.

So there are no photos, but there was lots of fun and good food.

Here are the rules of the wine and whine (ok, they're not really rules so much as just the way things evolved): one of our group of ladies picks a date and tries to get everyone else to clear their calendars. Everyone brings food and wine. It's a collaboration. When Laura can make it, it is a great opportunity for a certain blogger to make fun of her offerings. Like the time she brought Cheese Doodles wrapped in bologna. Which the kids actually really liked. And the time she brought an award winning spam-ball pate frosted in cream cheese. (One of the most vile things I have ever tried. And believe me, I only tried it so I could make fun of it.)

Last night, we were not blessed with Laura's presence, she felt like she just had to have dinner with her parents who were in from out of town. I hope next time she gets her priorities straight, though. A few others had to do annoying things like work or spend their one free night a week with their families.  But my hard-core women were here: Priscilla, Jan, and Deb. We had a fabulous time.

I hadn't made too much of  a plan because these gatherings are intended to be low-stress, casual, and no pressure. Also, because I wanted to see what looked good at the Public Market in the morning. I found last of the season green tomatoes and 3 for a $1 butternut squash. I grabbed both.

I made a Butte tsrmilk Ranch Cayenne dressing that really complemented the fried green tomatoes well. It was really easy.

Buttermilk Cayenne Ranch

1 1/4 C mayo
1 C Buttermilk
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/4 C snipped chives
1tsp salt
2 tsp cayenne
1/4 c grated parmesan

Mix everything together. Chill. ( I like to use my immersion blender to make this.)

Speaking of immersion blenders, Deb thought she was ordering one, but instead she ordered this Hamilton Beach Commercial Drink mixer.



It is FANTASTIC!!!!
Deb decided it was too big for her kitchen and bestowed it upon me! Hannah came home and saw it and shrieked with delight. She actually jumped up and down. This morning, I popped a carton of plain greek yogurt, some frozen blackberries from Priscilla's bush, honey, and pomegranate juice into the metal cup and whirred it all up. The only thing I can say is "amazing". With no effort on my part, no pulsing, no stopping to stir, nothing, it powerfully blended everything until it was perfectly smooth. And delicious. I may have a smoothie obsession starting. Or a margarita one.



Jan made delicious salsa and guacamole. Prissie made a fantastic fig and mesclun salad with a port wine reduction vinaigrette.  Jan also made really tasty, yummy cherry tomatoes stuffed with bacon, mayo, and green onion. I used to make these a lot, they are the perfect little bite of salty bacon, creamy mayo, sweet tomato, and a little kick from the green onion. Just hollow out the tomatoes with a melon baller or spoon and stuff with the bacon mixture, just enough mayo to hold it together.

Wine night was great, next time, maybe Laura will show up with Cheez Whiz and saltines again, can't wait.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Another upcomnig review and Eggplant

It's official. I'm selling out. I am going to accept more free stuff to review. Okay, I don't really consider it selling out because I'm only reviewing stuff I probably would have bought anyway, from places I probably would have bought it. Places like CSN stores. CSN has over 200 stores with everything from dining sets to cookware, clothes, shoes, you name it, they've got it. So, I'll be ordering this egg cooker and I'll see what I think.

In the meantime, I need to tell you about what I've been cooking and also rant a bit. First, the rant: if you happen to want to raise some money, and you happen to put on a fundraising dinner, try to at least make the food taste good and don't even think about making people pay good money for food from a box. If you have a really good main course, don't ruin it by taking shortcuts on the sides. I'll support you, but next time, I might just give you a donation and tell you to keep your bad food. Life is too short to eat bad food. And calories are too precious to put bad tasting ones in your mouth! "Nuff said? I think so, consider yourself warned.
The end of the harvest is here and several of my friends have dumped unwanted produce on me, assuming (correctly) that I can turn their would-be compost into a feast! And I have!

My dear friend, Deb, brought two enormous eggplant and a plethora of hot peppers my way. She crinkled her nose at the eggplant she had received in her weekly CSA allotment and resigned herself to the fact that she had no time to figure out what to do with all of the peppers. Well, I did have time. In fact, I kinda stole an idea from her, although I changed it up a bit. Deb takes those cute little multi-colored sweet peppers, whacks the top off of them, stuffs hot Italian sausage into them and then grills them. They are quite tasty. She may be a little mad when she realizes that she could have done an equally easy and tasty recipe with the yellow Italian frying peppers she gave me. I cut them in half down the middle, stuffed them with chicken and wine sausage mixed with Parmesan and breadcrumbs and then drizzled them with olive oil and stuck 'em in the oven. Mighty tasty. 

The eggplant ended up as stir fried Chili Garlic Eggplant. You know, a little bit Chinese-y. First, cut up the eggplant into cubes, salt it lightly and set it to drain over the sink or a bowl for a good 30 minutes. Then, squeeze out all of the liquid you can from it. Next, heat a couple tablespoons of oil in the wok (wait, I can't believe I just said that: heat the wok until it smokes, then add the oil, geez, I must be losing my touch) anyway, then add a couple of tablespoons of chopped ginger. Stir once, add the eggplant. Cook, stirring for about five minutes, or until the eggplant is cooked through. Add about a tablespoon of chili garlic sauce from the Chinese section of the store. Be careful, it is really hot. You can always add more when the dish is done, but you can't take any away. Add a half cup or so of soy sauce and 2 T of sugar. Cook for a couple of minutes, until the sauce reduces. Stir in a handful of chopped green onions and serve with sticky rice. 

Note: you might want to use Tamari, because regular soy sauce can make the dish really salty if you use too much; you can also thicken the sauce with a little cornstarch mixed with water, if you like your sauces the way they are in your take-out Chinese. But guess what? Chinese people don't really do that very much.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Brazillian Mango

No, it is not a hairless mango. Mangoes don't have hair to begin with and certainly would never undergo such a ridiculous and painful procedure.

Today, at the Chinese food store, I spotted a sign that said "Brazilian Mango". They were hard and green, but I had to buy one, because my loyal reader, The Reader (I do know her name, but she kinda went cuckoo over the whole online privacy thing, so I'll respect her wishes and not use her name!), is an expat living in Brazil. She is always going on and on about the fruit there. So of course, I have to try it. I'm going to wait until it is soft, even if it doesn't change color (which it might, you never know). I'll let you know if is good or not. I haven't ever had a mango as good as an atulfo or champagne mango, but we'll see. Champagne mangoes are smaller than regular supermarket ones and yellow instead of red/green. My kids will eat boxes of them. I love it when I find a healthful food of which they can't get enough. I'll buy a big box of them, even if it $20. At Weggies, they cost around $3 a piece, when they have them, but at the Chinese store they average $1.50 a piece.

Update on the SNAP challenge, wherein I attempt to feed my family for $18 for one day, for all three meals: it is not going well. Yes, I suppose I could trot out some oatmeal for breakfast (kids hate it) and serve canned spaghetti sauce and pasta for dinner with no meat and canned green beans for dinner, but I am trying to do something better than that. I am still planning. Imagine if that was all you or I ever had to spend on food. Which I guess is the point of the challenge. We need to support our local food pantries because they supplement the diets of people in need above and beyond what food stamps provides. Believe me, I don't think anyone is living high off the hog on food stamps. I think they are scraping by and I think the fresh vegetables and good quality protein the food pantry provides are crucial to the families' well being. So, I'm still thinking and I have a half written blog post about it. I figure I'll take a regular day and cost it out item b y item and compare it with my SNAP challenge day. But tell me, how am I supposed to get through a day without using extra virgin olive oil or or real butter? I'll tell you, it ain't gonna happen.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Savor Rochester and Hunger Challenge

Blogging is a kind of a small world. You read a blog, you follow a blog, they read your blog, you read some of the blogs they follow, it gets very circuitous. Another Suburban Mom reposted something from Amid Life’s Crisis (which I don’t follow, but have read) about Hunger in America. This was kind of an interesting coincidence, because just the night before she posted this, I attended a fundraiser for Foodlink, our local food bank provider. It was fun and delicious (for the most part, with a few notable exceptions) and it supported this vital service to the poor in our community. I took Alex and he was the only kid there, but boy, was it his kind of event.

He is willing to try just about anything because I have forced him from a young age to eat a bite of everything on his plate. He has learned that even though he may think it sounds bad or that he won’t like it, often he is surprised and finds that he enjoys it.

Now, mind you, I am not being self-righteous and smug about my kids not being picky eaters. Alex still manages to be fairly picky, the difference is, I just don’t care. You don’t like spinach you say? Oh well, eat it anyway. Because. I. said. So.

And Alex’s big brother the Marine Foodie was perhaps the pickiest child eater ever to live on the face of the earth. When enforcing my “take a bite of everything” rule one Christmas Eve dinnerwhen he was four, Marine Foodie promptly threw it back up. His father told me to not ever force him to eat anything, ever, again. I think he ate only ten foods for his entire childhood. He came around, though, sometime between his fifteenth and seventeenth birthdays. Now he’ll eat anything. And loves it. (Of course, being in Iraq camping out in the desert eating only mre’s will do that for you, too.)

So I determined with my subsequent children to go back to enforcing my rules. And this has turned planning dinner from “What can I make that picky eater will eat?” to “What new recipe should I try tonight?”

Which brings me back around to the Savor Rochester Fundraiser. There was a lot of good food. The tuna tartare tacos with sriracha, guacamole, micro greens, and caviar from One were amazing. The best thing there. Alex tried it, but didn't really care for it.

There was also a lot of pulled pork. (Which Alex DID like!)  Yes, barbeque is very popular now and there are so many good places to get it, and pulled pork is easy to keep hot and serve over a three hour time period, but it takes no imagination whatsoever.

A vegan restaurant (yes, I know, what possessed me to sample the vegan food? Well, Alex stepped up to their booth and I followed. I didn’t want to be rude, so I tried it) offered butternut squash risotto. I love butternut squash risotto. Butternut squash risotto is one of the best comfort foods in the world. Unless you make it with minute rice and no cheese. Yes, that’s right, I said minute rice. This cafĂ© (it shall remain nameless) concocted something they purported to be risotto with what had to be minute rice. It stuck together. It was not creamy. It was mushy. I couldn’t even taste the butternut squash. It was one of the most awful things I have ever tasted. Now, if I were going to try to make a vegan version of it, I would simply substitute vegetable broth for the chicken stock. I don’t know what I would do about the Parmesan cheese, I suppose you could leave it out and add more salt. I don’t know, but I would not use minute rice. Period.

Which brings me back around to the Hunger in America issue.

I am a food snob. I know this, you know this. My monthly food budget for four people is around $1200 a month. Or about $40 a day. This is over twice as much as a family of four receives on food stamps. And $40 a day for four people still doesn’t seem like a lot to me.

Some agency in the Midwest has issued this challenge: feed your family on $4.50 per person per day for a week.

The SNAP Hunger Challenge Rules
  • Spend no more than $4.50 per day in total, per person, for all meals including beverages.
  • Don't use food already on hand unless you deduct the value from your weekly amount. Salt and pepper don't count, but all other seasonings, cooking oils, condiments, snacks and drinks do.
  • Don't accept food from family, friends, coworkers and others.
  • Try to include fresh produce and healthy protein each day.
  • Keep track of expenses, food choices, etc. and share your experiences on your blog

There is no way I can do it for a week. But I’ll try to do it for a day. I’ll start the day right off the top with $1.25 in the hole from a pot of Starbucks French Roast. I will. Not. Start. My. Day. Without. My coffee. And Folgers doesn’t count as coffee, it counts as brown, tasteless water.
I don’t know what I’ll cook, but I’ll let you know.

I know it will not be some of the menus that I browsed on frugal living and couponing blogs recently. Maybe you can’t do it for any length of time without relying heavily on cheap, processed foods, but I am determined to make a reasonable menu that my family will like (for the most part). I’m thinking I’ll try to do it after I shop this week so that I can keep track of what everything costs. Wish me luck, I’m going to need it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Piergoies-channeling my inner Pole

Last weekend I happened to catch a few minutes of Diners, Driveins, and Dives on Food Network. I don't watch much Food Network anymore, since it turned into Food Competition Network, but I was surfing and Triple D was on at the time. I like the show a bit, it features a spiky-haired guy traveling around and eating food from some of the country's best down- to- earth eateries. They all feature homemade everything. None of them rely on frozen, pre-packaged, anything, in other words, the kind of restaurant at which you'd actually want to eat.

Can you guess I don't like chain restaurants much? I don't really see why I should pay money to have someone heat up frozen, pre-packaged food for me. If I want that, I can do it myself. If I go out to eat, I want something I wouldn't make at home, or something that someone makes better than I do. (Is there such a thing?)



On this particular episode, the spiky blond guy was visiting an Eastern European place in Minnesota. I am not a huge fan of Eastern European food, it seems pretty bland to me, and not terribly interesting. But they showed the restaurant's homemade vareneky, or pierogies. They looked amazing. Nothing like the crap that comes out of a box. Since Rochester seems to lack a Ukranian/Polish restaurant, and since my Russian sister-in-law's pierogy is more like a cabbage filled bread than a savory dumpling, I decided to make my own. I couldn't find any recipes for the one's they make at the place in Minnesota, so I settled for finding a few different recipes and turning it into something approximating what I saw on the show. I don't know how it compared for taste, but mine were excellent. And not really terribly hard to make. One batch was enough for four of us for dinner, with no leftovers, and only a little fighting over the last two.

June's Pierogies

For the filling, I used leftover mashed potatoes and mixed in some sauteed onions and grated cheddar cheese. That's it. Pretty darned simple, huh?

Dough
3 C Flour
1/2 C Sour Cream
1/2 C softened butter
1 Egg

Mix all ingredients with a dough hook in a stand mixer, or kill yourself and mix by hand, I don't really care. I know which one I'll be doing. Roll out until 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 3 in circles, fill with 1 T filling (you want them pretty full, you should just barely be able to close them.) Seal by pinching together. Boil a few at a time in salted water until they float.

After you have cooked them all, put some butter in a saute pan and add at least one sliced onion. If you really like onion, add two. Saute it gently until browned and caramelized. Remove the onion and add more butter. add the pierogies a few at a time and lightly brown on both sides. Serve immediately with the onions and a side of sour cream mixed with horseradish.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

30 day Menu

A turkey-cooking challenged friend of mine(who overcame her difficulties with about 30 minutes of phone coaching by yours truly) recently begged all of her friends to send her their 30 day menu plans. I was horrified. Not because I am against being hyper-organized, but because I have read some of those thirty day menus. They tend to rely heavily on the crock pot and prepared or convenience foods, e.g. dump some packaged baby carrots over a piece of chuck roast, top with a package of onion soup mix and cook on low for 10 hours. Can you say "yuck"?

These menus also deprive you of taking advantage of that lovely piece of produce that you run across at the farmer's market or even at the grocery.

I think a better strategy to getting dinner on the table is to keep a well-stocked pantry and some key ingredients which you can use to get some dinner on the table without too much fuss.

Like tonight, I made an awesome Chinese meal without going to the store for one thing. In my freezer I had ground pork and dumpling wrappers. In my fridge, I had eggplant, ginger, green onion, leeks, chili garlic sauce. In my pantry, I had rice noodles, Korean beef stock, dried shiitakes, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar and garlic.

I made:
pan fried pork and scallion dumplings
Leek and shiitake soup with rice noodles
stir fried eggplant with chili garlic sauce.

I didn't have a plan before this morning. While drinking my coffee I think about what I have, what I want, and how much time I have that day. Does dinner ever get away from me? Yes. Do I find myself at 5:00pm wondering what I am going to make? Yes. But, I can usually get something on the table by 7 without too much fuss.

I'm sorry I don't have time to post the recipes tonight. I will try to get back to it and add them later. Kisses.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

New school year - 5 easy school lunches

Things are starting to slow down a bit, fresh produce frenzy-wise. Not that we aren't still inundated, but we are beginning to be sated, a bit. The sweet pickles turned out great, even without a pickle crock. The main thing is to use a non-reactive container, i.e. glass or ceramic. Since I lacked a large enough crock, I used my largest glass bowl. the shape is not ideal for submerging all the cukes in the brine, so I placed a pie plate on top and weighted it down with a gallon jug of olive oil. Three days later I had sweet pickles. Some will make their way into school lunches....

Today was our first day back. Back to our routines, back to shuttling kids, back to more structured cooking.

Structured cooking? What is that?

Well, instead of throwing something on the grill shortly before dinner, I have to actually think and plan. the kids must get to bed and so dinner at 8:30 is no longer an option. I need to have a plan no later than noon. Earlier in the day is better even than that.

And school lunches. I have been making them now for twenty one years. Sigh. We all know packing school lunches is the bane of our existences.

So I probably don't have any suggestions for you that you haven't read a million times already, but I do have some thoughts

Here are my top five tips:

  • Use different kinds of bread. There is nothing more tiresome than opening a lunch box to the same thing. Every. Day. You would get tired of it, wouldn't you? That ham and cheese you packed yesterday can be completely transformed by turning it into a wrap. Same fillings, whole new lunch.
  • Don't get stuck in a sandwich rut. Anything that can be eaten cold is good: think picnic food.
  • Stock up on small containers, small size blue ice packs, and multiple sizes of ziploc bags.
  • Try to cut veggies into packable sizes once a week. Then store in ziploc bags with a damp paper towel. Figure out what vegetable your kids like enough to eat cold: my boy likes broccoli and carrots and not much else.
  • And my new obsession: bento. What is a bento? Well, it means "lunch" in Japanese. A bento typically consists of a rice ball, some type of protein, and veggies. A very healthful lunch, indeed. The components are packed tightly into a small container and artfully arranged. I have started to stock up on bento boxes and accessories, but these are not necessary. A small square sandwich container from the grocery store works just fine. The first bentos I made had homemade sushi (it's not as hard as you think, I'll talk about it some other time), diced peaches, Japanese pickles, and mini carrot pineapple muffins. I didn't take any pictures, sorry. The kids (and hubby) went nuts over them. Other varieties have been less popular, but some others have also been big hits. Leftovers are great for bentos; tuck some leftover chicken on top of some rice and surround by some veggies. Include a packet of soy sauce from your last takeout Chinese food. I keep threatening to pack them some crazy bentos in their lunch boxes.They insist other kids will make fun of them. I ask them why they would care what other people think. Haven't I set a good enough example when it comes to this? Nonetheless, it is fun to torture them. I will take pictures of some of my bentos and post them as I do them. 
Here are my "recipes" for out of the ordinary lunchbox entrees.  Hey, if they'll eat it, I'll make it.


Peanut butter wrap
Spread a flour tortilla with peanut butter. Sprinkle lightly with Honey Bunches of Oats cereal and drizzle very lightly with honey. Roll up.

Baba Ghanoush with pita
Roast an eggplant in the oven for about an hour, until tender. Let cool. Peel, and toss the flesh into the processor, along with 1/2 c tahini, 1/4 c lemon juice, salt, 3 cloves of garlic, and a dash of cayenne. Serve with pita.

Veggie Wrap
Spread a pita, tortilla, or softened lavash cracker with mayo. Lay two pieces of a quartered pickle, four tomato quarters, three or four broccoli florets, and lettuce or sprouts down the center. Roll up. (My husband can't stand these. He calls them "broccoli sandwiches" I love them, but then I'm a girl. Girls like vegetables.

Cobb Salad
Line a small container with chopped lettuce. Arrange on top: diced tomatoes, crumbled bacon, diced hard cooked egg, avocado, and diced cooked chicken. Pack a separate container with blue cheese dressing

Guacamole
Pack celery and carrot stick and tortilla chips with a container of guacamole. Sprinkle the top with a little lemon juice to keep it from browning.

There, now that was pretty easy, wasn't it? See, even you could do it.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Review of what was supposed to be my new pickle crock

It is really my own fault. I didn't read the description carefully enough, or I would have realized that the ceramic Emile Henry crock with the wooden lid I was ordering was too small. I really just looked at the picture and placed my order. After all, for almost $50 one could reasonably expect a pretty big crock, right? Wrong. For nearly $50 I received a 1.5 quart ceramic crock with a wooden lid. Don't get me wrong, it is a really nice crock; the lid has a rubber seal and fits really tightly and I love the shape and color. I just thought I would be getting more of it!



I need a pickle crock because I plan on making sweet pickles. And Priscilla has one and I don't, therefore, I must have one. I guess I'll have to go borrow hers. I think I'll use mine for making brandied peaches or maybe super small batch of refrigerator bread and butter pickles. Now those are fantastic. And really easy, too.

48 Hour Bread and Butter Pickles

3Cups vinegar
3 cups sugar
1/2 Cup uniodized salt
1 large onion, sliced
1 T mustard seed
1 tsp tumeric
pickling cukes

Layer onion and cukes in a 1 gallon glass jar (or several smaller ones), mix rest of ingredients and pour over. Ready to eat in 48 hours Keeps in refrigerator for 1 year.

I serve these as a side with sandwiches all the time. Guests have been amazed by them. They are unexpectedly good and no one makes bread and butter pickles anymore. Plus the ones from the grocery store are disgusting, which is why most people say they don't like bread and butter pickles. If you just go ahead and take my advice and make them, you'll be so surprised by how good they are you'll want to come to my house to thank me personally. Feel free to.

For my sweet pickles I use the recipe in the Ball Blue Book of Canning. Go buy it, it's like six bucks on Amazon. It has lots of good info for anyone new to canning. The sweet pickles will be ready in five days. Leave a comment for a chance to win a jar. If you live outside of Rochester, I'll mail them to you. I'll count the comments and enter them number into random.org and let it pick. Comment by next Friday.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tomatillos-not tomatoes at all

Today's great find at the farmstand was tomatillos.

Tomatillos (pronounced toe-ma-tee-yos) are not green tomatoes. They are related to the Cape Gooseberry (whatever the hell that is) and are a staple of Mexican cooking. Ever eat green salsa? Yup,  tomatillos.

I like to use them for a really nice Chili Verde. (Green Chili for all of you Spanish illiterates) I do not make it like Grandma Foodie. Hers is good, really good, and not that mine is better, but (okay it's better).

Chili Verde

2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
I Poblano, Anaheim, or Hatch chili, roasted, seeded, and chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/2 C Water
6-9 tomatillos, husks removed, roughly chopped

Saute the garlic and onion in 1 T olive oil until translucent. Add chilies and tomatillos and cooks until tomatillos soften, about 8 minutes. Transfer to food processor. Add water and puree until smooth, but a little on the chunky side, add cilantro and pulse a few times. Season to taste.

Now, you have two choices: you can add this sauce on top of a pork butt or shoulder and a couple of potatoes in the crock pot and cook it together for about 8 hours. Or:

You can cook a pork butt or shoulder on top of the stove (cover with water and simmer until tender, about 2-3 hours. Add a couple of potatoes the last thirty minutes. Drain, shred the pork, add the tomatillo sauce and heat through. Serve with flour tortillas.

Normally, I don't approve of cooking much of anything in the crock pot. But the one thing I will cook in there is tough pieces of meat that need to cook for a long time.  That's it, though. don't let me catch you making some horrid casserole or chicken, or God knows what in it. Crock-pots are for losers

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Salsa-On the Grill!

My head is spinning with all the veggies available at the Farmer's markets and farm stands right now. I am doing my best to incorporate it all into my daily dinner plans, as well as putting some of it away for winter.

Hannah and Alex have been asking me to make burritos for dinner. Nothing special, just some average beans, rice, guacamole, lettuce, etc. Last night I got tired of the begging finally got around to it. I had some leftover baby back ribs in the fridge and while this is far from traditional, I took the meat off the bones and used the meat in the burritos. We let everyone make their own, so I set out dishes of the aforementioned guac, lettuce, rice, cheese,  beans (Oh, BTW, Grandma Foodie has the best way to make quick beans for Mexican dinner: Take 1 can of pinto beans, undrained and one can of refried beans. Mix together and add a ton of chopped garlic and an insane amount of black pepper. Heat on top of the stove, or put into a casserole dish, top with cheddar cheese and heat in the oven until hot and the cheese is melted.)

And I also put out a big bowl of just made salsa that I grilled. Yes, I grilled it.

Does that make no sense to you?

You just haven't lived yet, then., because the grill is the perfect place to prep the ingredients for your homemade salsa. Char everything, then whir it all together in the food processor. Eat it immediately, because it is actually best hot. Yes, hot. The flavors of the chilies and tomatoes really stand out just as it's made. Fry up some tortilla chips (yes, I said fry some tortilla chips; you really wouldn't want to use chips from a bag. They're just so, so, bleah! Not as good as ones made from stale corn tortillas.

I had just returned from the farmer's market, having bought way more tomatoes than I could really use, (if there is such a thing) and as I was putting them away, I had a revalation: make salsa to go with the burritos.
My salsa on the grill can be made quickly and easily and it is hands down the best homemade salsa I have ever eaten (not to toot my own horn; okay, I'll toot my own horn). You simply must try it. No arguments. I don't want to hear your whining. Just do it now. While the tomatoes and chilies are still ripe and before you need a parka to stand outside and use the grill. (BTW, you can make this salsa with supermarket roma tomatoes in the broiler during the winter. I'll let you.)


Salsa on the grill
2 jalapenos
4 cloves garlic
1 onion, halved
6-8 tomatoes, halved
1 bunch cilantro
juice of one lime
salt and pepper

Heat the grill to medium. I like to use one of those grill pans to do the tomatoes and garlic, but everything else can go straight on the grill grates. Grill until charred on one side and flip and do the other. Try not to let the onions get too burned. Here is what my grill looked like


I was also grilling poblanos and corn, obviously.

After everything is nicely charred, put ONE jalapeno and the garlic and onions into the food processor and chop briefly with on and off turns. You can add the other jalapeno later if you want it spicier, just try it first. Add the tomatoes and pulse again. Add the cilantro and pulse again. Put into a bowl, add the lime juice and salt and pepper. Eat a bunch before you tell everyone it is done because you won't get any after they know it's ready.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chili Rellenos

Yesterday I stopped by the Lima Farmer's Market to pick up some fresh basil and tomatoes for dinner. I found a nice surprise there of some lovely, just picked poblano chilis from Werner's Farm in Rush on 15A just south of 251. The farmer was surprised by how excited I was and asked me what I would do with them; he told me that people have been askiing about them and he had never used them, didn't know what they were good for.

I like them in my Succotash Burritos, but there is really only one answer when asked what to make with poblanos: CHILI RELLENOS!

What is a chili relleno, you ask? (Well, if you ask, you're obviously not from California, plus it means you've never eaten one. So sad.) A chili relleno, is a stuffed chili. Stuffed with cheese. Gooey, melted cheese, encased in a slightly spicy pepper shell. Dipped in egg batter and fried until puffy and golden. In other words, Mexican comfort food. Chili Rellenos can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Or all three. In the same day.

Chili Rellenos
6 Poblano chilies
1/2 lb Monterrey jack cheese
3 eggs, separated
3 T flour
salt and pepper


Roast the poblanos over a gas flame or grill until the skins are blackened and blistered. Put into a paper sack for 10 minutes and then remove, cut off the top and  peel or scrape the skins and seeds off, trying not to break the chili open. Stuff with a piece of cheese, you want it pretty full. Set aside and do all of the chilies

Meanwhile, combine the egg yolks and flour and salt and pepper. Beat the whites until stiff. Gently fold the whites into the yolks. Slide the chilies into the batter, then slip into a frying pan with 1/2 inch of hot oil. When puffy on the bottom, gently flip over and cook until the other side is golden, puffy, and the cheese is melted. Serve with red chili sauce, if desired.

Cheater Chili Rellenos
A little Mexican lady at the Farmer's market gave this recipe to Grandma Foodie:

Roast the chilies, open them up, put a layer of cheese on top and pop in the microwave. Top with salsa. It's pretty damn good. My kids love them.

Also, here's a tip: roast a whole mess of the chilies at once and then put the extras in the freezer. They probably won't work for regular rellenos, but they will be fine for the cheater ones. Or to put in omelets or chili verde, or salsa, or succotash burritos, well, you get the idea.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Review and a great Tomato Breakfast

 In a week or two I'll be posting a review of some newly acquired kitchen equipment. You know you need to know what I think! I don't have an extensive collection of kitchen equipment, what I do have I could probably fit on both of my dining tables, but I use almost all of what I have and I have a few esoteric items, like my rectangular tart pans which I bought in order to make a Martha Stewart Flag tart recipe. (I wanted to shoot myself by the time I was done. Or perhaps Martha.) (BTW, that was a joke for those of you with no sense of humor. The author wishes to state she has no intention of stalking Martha Stewart or causing her any bodily harm. I'll just think bad thoughts as I am trying to alternate red and golden raspberries in neat rows.)

Yesterday, we continued our obsession with tomatoes, this time at breakfast. I split a baguette, popped it  under the broiler for a minute to toast, then topped it with fresh mozzarella mixed with fresh basil, olive oil, salt and pepper. I popped it back in the oven and melted the cheese. When I took it out, I put some sliced tomatoes on top. Of course I sliced the tomatoes first and seasoned them with my favorite Hawaiian sea salt. (Still running low, Grandma Foodie? Anybody?)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Never use a substitute when you can use the real thing

I might be able to overlook it if it were the middle of winter.

Then again, I probably wouldn't.

Basil in tube from the freezer is inexcusable.

If it happened to be winter, and if I happened to live in some remote outpost (like Brazil, maybe?) where fresh, fragrant sweet basil were not always readily available, I just might be willing to let it slide. BUT,

It is the middle of summer, fresh basil is everywhere.

It is everywhere in big bunches, most of the time for about a buck.

The big bunches keep for a couple of weeks at room temperature if you put them in a nice big vase of water. (With the added bonus that they look great on your kitchen counter)

So, last night I was speaking with my good friend Deb, who asked me how I had made the cantalope wrapped in prosciutto a few weeks ago. Well....you wrap prosciutto around cantalope.  Well, but what was it that I drizzled on top? Oh, a basil, lemon vinaigrette and some chopped marcona almonds. So Deb says, "Great, I have all of that! I'm squeezing basil right now!"  WHATTTT??????

There really is no excuse. I don't buy it when she says she can't taste the difference. Is it possible that she suffers from a lack of taste buds? Or has she been deprived of real basil for so long that she can no longer remember the difference? Or should I just call her a dork?  I'm not sure, but I will be performing a basil intervention. I am going to get her one of those big bunches and deposit it on her counter. It will be like the old advice about if you want to learn how to cook, buy a ham....(By the time you figure out what to do with all that meat, you'll have learned to cook.)

So, by the time she gets to the end of that bunch of basil, she will never resort to that crap in a tube again.

(Here is my confession, though: I do buy lemongrass in a tube and keep it in the freezer; it is not available fresh at my closest market and I often do not know in advance that I need it, if I do know, I buy it fresh.)

Here is a great use for basil: Pistou or French pesto.

Pistou

In a mini processor (or use a big one, or use a mortar and pestle) combine 2 cloves garlic, 1 tsp salt, 1 C basil, and 1/4 C olive oil. Whir it until smooth.

Here is a great recipe using pistou:

Toast two slices of baguette. Top with two poached eggs, 2 T pistou and shaved parmesan. Try not to eat more than two, we wouldn't want you to get high cholesterol.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Endless Summer-Blackberries

About seven or eight years ago, my friend Priscilla planted a blackberry bush. About five years ago, it started to produce more than a handful of blackberries in a season, maybe about a quart total. So I said to her,"Hey, I want to make a pie, can I have some blackberries?" Her answer,"Keep your hands off my blackberries, or I'll kill you." Ok, I can understand, blackberries were a limited, precious commodity. Starting two summers ago there was a blackberry explosion. Now, instead of threats of bodily harm if I touch her blackberries, Priscilla instead begs me, "Please get over here and pick some g-d blackberries!" I am happy to oblige.

Yesterday, I took about a cup of blackberries, a cup of blueberries, 1/2 cup of sugar, and a tablespoon of water and set them on the stove to cook. When they were syrupy I added about a teaspoon of cornstarch dissolved in an equal amount of water and let it come to a boil. The whole thing took about 5 minutes. Then I whipped some cream and made some crepes. Everyone was very happy at breakfast
Alex eating Blackberry crepes

I also have been making blackberry peach pies, blackberry custards, and blackberry sorbets. I also freeze the blackberries (in a single layer on a cookie sheet, then put them in ziptop bags once they are frozen. Don't be a moron and put them un frozen into ziptop bags, you'll end up with a big glob of berries.). You can use them in just about any recipe in which you would use fresh blackberries. Oh, one more quick recipe! Blackberry-yogurt popsicles:

Puree about 2 cups of blackberries in the food processor; add 1/2 cup of cooled simple syrup (you know how to make that, don't you? Equal parts sugar and water, heated until the sugar dissolves), 1 8 ounce container vanilla yogurt, and about 1/4 c of honey. Freeze in ice-pop molds. My kids loved the fresh, tangy-sweet taste. So much so, they didn't save one for me. Oh well, back to the blackberry patch, I guess.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The other summer obsession: tomatoes

A fresh picked tomato is probably the world's best food.

A refrigerated, bad, supermarket tomato is probably the world's worst food.

I love good tomatoes almost more than anything. My perfect, ideal breakfast is a bagel (water-boiled, not from a package, from a good bakery) cream cheese, smoked salmon, capers, Vidalia onion, and nice thick slice of a really good tomato. Grandma Foodie always remembers to sprinkle the tomato with some salt and freshly ground pepper and let it sit while the bagel toasts. It macerates the tomato a bit and makes it juicier and tastier.

No one person could ever write a comprehensive guide to eating and cooking with tomatoes. The uses for them are just too overwhelming to catalog.


My friend Deb has a fabulous recipe for a tomato tart. I liked it even though she uses cheese from a can. (Cheese from a can! Really, Deb, you're a decent cook, you should know better! Just think how delectable the tart would be with some real cheese.) To make the tart, slice the tomatoes and salt them lightly. Put them on a paper-towel lined plate (use several thicknesses) and put another layer of paper towels on top. Put a heavy plate on top of them and maybe even a heavy skillet on top of that. The idea is to weight them down well and press them. Leave them for an hour or two. Meanwhile, take a package of puff pastry and form it into a rectangular tart shell. You can cut off some strips around the edges and build them up on top of the pastry, or you can use your handy dandy rectangular tart pan with the removable bottom. (My friend does the former, I do the latter.) Then, prebake the shell for about 7 minutes at 425. When partially baked, but not brown, take it out, let cool slightly, then brush with olive oil. Layer the tomatoes, salt and pepper, thyme, and parmesan cheese. (not from a can, please!) Pop it back in the oven and bake until the pastry is done.

I may have a few details wrong, but hopefully Deb will correct me. After all, I am improving it by specifying that one should never use cheese from a can with something so delectable.

The other thing we have been eating all the time is a simple tomato salad. I slice big juicy beefsteaks into thick, juicy slices, sprinkle them with Hawaiian red sea salt (I forgot to buy some more when I was in California! I don't think I've ever seen any around here. What shall I do? Grandma Foodie? Anybody?) fresh thyme, pepper, feta, and a dressing made from 1 T brown sugar, 2 T red wine vinegar, and 3 T olive oil. Or just sprinkle with olive oil and balsamic glaze.



You must also make some BLTs. Get some good, crusty sourdough and some thick cut applewood unsmoked bacon. Toast the bread, spread liberally with mayo. Add some avocado to the sandwich if you like. Or a spoonful of basil pistou to the mayo.There is nothing quite like the crunch of the bread playing against the salty bacon and the explosion of juicy tomato. Simply fantastic.

The point is, eat ye tomatoes while ye may. They're going to be gone soon and they won't be back until next summer.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Playing with Food

So I have a bit of a new obsession: bento.

Bento means "lunch" in Japanese. It is usually packed in a box, the food is tightly packed into the box and arranged attractively.

In typical Japanese fashion, however, it can be a little over the top.

I ran across a blog called Just Bento and was intrigued by the healthful, beautiful food I saw there. In particular, I saw one bento that contained some interesting sushi rolls, Japanese omelet slices, some stewed bean, and some fruit, all packed together, but separated into individual compartments. I decided to try to replicate it one Saturday. I put some rice in the rice cooker and started dicing some peaches. I sliced cucumbers for the sushi and pulled a can of Japanese gourd strips out of the pantry. I whisked together eggs, mirin, sugar, and soy for the omelets. I whipped up a batch of mini carrot-pineapple muffins.

An hour later I had a very unusual lunch ready for my family. It was a huge hit.

And then I started looking at bento sites and bento accessories on the internet.

You haven't quite lived until you've seen some of the crazy things these people do with lunch.

So I started persuing ebay for bento accessories. Packages started arriving from Japan. And yes, yesterday, I made a bento for Steve that contained sesame spinach, brown rice, cannelini beans with honey and soy, and two mini hamburgers. And I cut out cheese in the shape of teddy bear heads (complete with eyes) and laid them on top of the hamburgers.

Yes, I have completely lost my mind.

I can't wait to torture the children by packing them some "cute" lunches. Alex says he'll likely get stuffed into a trash can. Hannah says they're sure to make fun of her. It should be fun!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Camp food or I have no words

I'm up early today as usual. I made my coffee and started looking through my Facebook and email. One of my friends is going to some type of family camp out with other people in a group to which she belongs. She pleaded for ideas for meals to bring. One woman actually said to bring canned chicken, tortillas, ranch dressing, and cheese for chicken wraps.

My response: I have no words.

I didn't want to insult a woman whom I have never met. I reserve that only for those whom I truly love.

However, I might barf if someone tried to serve that to me.

I love to camp, although I don't do it anymore. My dear husband finds that as he has gotten older he no longer enjoys sleeping on the ground. Astounding to me, since he spent his youth wandering aimlessly around the country sleeping wherever he could.

I suppose I should go with Priscilla, but her brand of camping is a bit extreme for me. I require access to plumbing and ice. She dehydrates food and poops in the woods. No thanks. In fact, she was packing this week for her annual backwoods canoe psycho white water expedition.

Spotted on her staging area:
Balsamic glaze
Dijon mustard
Olive oil

In other words, just because she has to bring food that requires no refrigeration, doesn't mean she is going to eat crap.
I am not a camping food expert. I do not know how to dehydrate Dinosaur BBQ beans. I do, however, know how to cook over an open fire. And you can make some tasty things.

Key tips:
Make sure your perishables have plenty of ice. Keep dinner items in a seperate cooler that is not used to store drinks and frequently needed items. Double bag everything to minimize cross contamination.
Pre-prep as much as possible so that you just have to put dishes together rather than start from scratch, i.e. chop onion, garlic, and herbs and store in individual bags. Pre-portion or measure ingredients for each meal.
Here is a great, easy recipe for camping. Why eat bad food just because you are out in nature?

Shrimp Scampi
Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet. Add 2 T chopped garlic. Add 1 lb cleaned and deveined shrimp and cook until pink and opaque. Add 2 T capers and 2T chopped parsley. Squeeze a lemon over the whole thing and eat with crusty bread. You can try to cook pasta over the open fire to have with it, but that is hard to do unless you have a great, super hot fire.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

More corn recipes and some random thoughts

I had resolved to blog at least once a week, but I did miss last week. I was on vacation. Sue me.
,
I was feeling completely inadequate because my sister in law is a fabulous cook, better than me, if that is possible. She whips out food with panache and ease, often just making it up as she goes along. Most of the time it is out of this world. She did make some sub-par muffins on our last day, so I felt slightly vindicated., even though it was only partially her fault. I goaded her into making some muffins for our mother in law, who had just been released from the hospital. My sister in law lacked enough honey, buttermilk, and eggs to make them, but she soldiered on anyway. I guess I have to give her credit for at least making something edible, even if it wasn't up to her usual standards. We all have those days.

We are still in the midst of our annual corn orgy. We took a one week break while we were in DC, since they only have old corn (by old I mean not picked that day) available at Whole Foods. The day before yesterday, I made a corn chowder. Today we will have plain old corn on the cob with lime tarragon butter and a grilled balsamic marinated top sirloin with roasted tomatoes. Corn salsa is probably on the horizon for the weekend, and herbed corn cakes with cilantro-jalapeno hollandaise made an appearance a week or so ago. I did take the lazy way out with the hollandaise and used the blender method (hey, at least I didn't stoop to using a packet. I do recommend mastering real hollandaise, though. You'll never regret it. But since it is summer I gave myself a break. My family noticed, though.

Since the corn cakes were such a hit with my guests, that is the recipe I will leave you with. It is loosely based on one from Bon Appetit, but I have altered it a bit.

Herbed Corn Cakes



1 Cup flour
1 tsp baking pwd
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk
1 egg
1 T oil
1 c corn kernels. from about two ears
1/2 c cheddar cheese
1/3 cup shallots or green onions, diced
2 T fresh parsely, minced
2-3 dashes Tabasco
pinch cayenne
3 ounces bacon, cooked and crumbled, drippings reserved

Sift dry ingredients, whisk in milk, egg, and oil. Stir in rest of ingredients. Cook in bacon drippings like pancakes. Serve with your favorite not from a packet hollandaise to which you have stirred in minced jalapeno and 1/4 cup minced cilantro. I usually double the recipe and it still barely makes enough.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Chicken and dumplings

Laura called. She wanted a whine and wine night, one in which we all sat around and made dumplings. Asian dumplings, you know potstickers, wontons, shiu mai, gyoza, call them what you will, little noodle wrappers stuffed with vegetables, meat, shrimp, whatever. There are a million filling recipes for Asian dumplings. Of course, mine is the only one I recommend, because it tastes great, and I got it from Priscilla, who lived in China for 5 years and learned how to cook there. (Which is why she still uses oil instead of butter to fry eggs and omelets. Have you ever had an omelet made in oil? Not good.)

So Laura sends me her list of ingredients, which were all wrong. I won't go into detail, suffice it to say, I had most, but not all, of what she needed. No, that's not true, I did have it all, but not in sufficient quantities. I know, I'm such a loser.

Well, we decided we'd take a trip to the Asian grocery to stock up and, oh, while we were at it, we might as well get pedicures. And make sure we had everything for Laura's fabulous cosmos. (her secret is Rose's lime juice. Brilliant.)

As we eased ourselves into the pedicure thrones and dipped our toes into the swirling warm water, we began to talk about the upcoming evening's festivities and Laura's pedicurist perked her head up when she heard the word "dumplings"

"You're making dumplings? How do you do that? Do you use flour?"

"Well, yes and no," I replied, slightly puzzled. An Asian girl is asking me how to make dumplings? I could understand that if she knew me, of course, but she's never laid eyes on me before. "My good friend makes the wrappers herself, but she can't come tonight so we're cheating and using wrappers from a package."

"Oh, you're making Asian dumplings. I thought you were making chicken and dumplings. I'd really like to know how to make that."

Well, darling, it couldn't be simpler. I'll even let you cheat and use Bisquick. The recipe is on the box. The rest of you, though, get out the flour.

Chicken and Dumplings, Grandma Foodie Style (sort of)

Saute a sliced onion and a sliced carrot in a little oil until limp. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper and brown on both sides with the onion. Add enough chicken stock or water to cover and simmer until chicken is almost cooked through, about 25  minutes. Plop big spoonfuls of dumpling dough on top of the stew and simmer, 10 minutes.

***Note: I can't believe I forgot to write this: after you remove the chicken and the dumplings, reduce the stock and add some sour cream to thicken. Spoon it all over the dumplings.

Dumpling dough
1 C sifted cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Break 1 egg into a 1 cup measuring cup. Add milk until the cup is half full, beat well and stir into the flour mixture. Add more milk if necessary, but keep the batter as stiff as possible.

Now, if you hate this recipe, tell me. If you think it sounds good, tell me. I need some comments, people! I know I let you all down by taking such a long blogging break, but your feedback is what keeps me motivated! I'd love to hear from you, good or bad. I can take it.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Succotash Burritos

It's July and the corn is finally ready!

If you don't live in the Northeast or mid-west United States, you probably don't have an appreciation for what this means. And you've probably never eaten a decent ear of corn in your life. Although I grew up in Southern California, I was fortunate enough to visit my grandparents in Western Massachusetts every couple of years as a child. This meant (among other really fun things) that we would get to eat the famous "butter and sugar" corn fresh from the corn stand while we were there. It is really something amazing. Not just a bi-color corn, it is a super sweet variety. Now, the thing about corn is that the MINUTE it is picked the sugar in the kernels starts to convert into starch. Sugar=sweet, starch=not sweet, so it if you think you can buy good corn at Wal-Mart, you are sadly mistaken. Also, you are not terribly smart and have no palate. But, if you live outside of the great corn growing areas you probably don't have much choice. Too bad for you.

Those of us in the Northeast wait anxiously for the summer corn feast. I have a local stand that grows butter and sugar corn and I usually go there. (Grandma Foodie says it is still not as good as the Massachusetts variety, but she is stubborn and rarely admits to being wrong. You know I'm right, Mom. Love you.)

As I mentioned, the sugar in corn starts to convert to starch IMMEDIATELY, so it is IMPERATIVE to only buy enough ears for the dinner you plan to cook that day. Another good trick is to go buy corn late in the day. During peak season the farmer sometimes doesn't pick enough for the day and has to go out and get some more. So while you may get corn that was picked that morning, you may get corn that wasn't picked until an hour or two before you arrived. I have been at the corn stand a few times when the farmer was coming in from the field to deliver more corn. We had an early dinner. Best corn ever.

Now, there is nothing better than a fresh ear of corn dropped into some boiling water, popped out a few minutes later, slathered with butter and salt and chewed straight off the cob. Nothing better. But corn is so good it begs to be used in many other dishes, too. And with the plethora of other fresh veggies at this time of year it is a no-brainer to try to think of some ways to use all that bounty. (Thanks for the bushels of zucchini, neighbor. Remind me to pretend not to be home tomorrow.) I developed this recipe loosely based on one I saw a few years ago in Saveur magazine.

Succotash sounds disgusting, but all it really means is corn and potatoes mixed together.

Succotash Burritos

3 ears of corn, kernels cut from the cob
1 onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 smallish potatoes, diced and parboiled for 10 minutes
1 zucchini or yellow summer squash, diced (remove the seeds if it is too big and seedy.)
A 1/2 cup container of chicken stock from your freezer or 1/2 can if you are a loser
1 Hungarian hot pepper, seeded and diced (Hungarian hot peppers are long and yellow and thin. You can use something like a Hatch chili or a roasted poblano if you can't get Hungarian. You want a medium hot pepper with some heft. In other words, not a jalapeno.)
1 cup shredded jack or cheddar cheese
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
Tortillas
Salsa

Saute the onion, garlic, red peppers and Hungarian peppers in 1/4 cup olive oil and 2 T butter until soft and slightly browned. Add the cumin, chili powder, potatoes, corn, and zucchini and saute until vegetables are crisp-tender. Add the chicken broth and cheese and cook until the cheese is melted and the chicken broth has mostly bubbled away, about 1 minute. Fill warm tortillas with the succotash and top with salsa.

I might have some more corn recipes soon. If I'm not too busy eating corn.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

German Potato Salad

A new reader has asked me for a recipe for German Potato Salad. This made me incredibly happy, for two reasons: 1. I have a really good recipe, and 2. He didn't give me a terrible recipe for something and tell me how good it was. In fact, if I am to believe his Facebook posts, he makes his own Caesar salad dressing. There is a man you can respect. (I'll wait patiently for him to do something foolish in the kitchen, though, and then I'll, well, you know what I'll do!)

Grandma Foodie is the orginator of the German Potato Salad recipe and I'll assume she got it from Great Grandma Foodie. We are of German descent. So German that my Grandfather once offered (not too jokingly) to pay $1000 to anyone who would name their child Wolfgang. When I found myself pregnant (again!) I joked with him that I was going to take him up on the offer. My Grandfather was not a quiet man, so I can't say he demurred, but he straight out told me that he only meant the offer for someone with our family's name. Which I had never possessed. So, Alex, my youngest child, consider yourself lucky that you narrowly escaped being named Wolfgang. And that you get to eat German Potato Salad.

German Potato Salad
1 onion, chopped
1/2 pound of bacon
1-3 pounds of potatoes
3 T flour
1/3 C vinegar
2/3 C Water

Fry bacon until crisp, remove from pan and crumble. Saute onion in bacon drippings until tender. Boil, peel (if desired) and slice potatoes into a large bowl. Remove onion with slotted spoon, add bacon and onion to potatoes. When ready to serve, heat drippings, add flour and stir until paste like. Add vinegar and water and stir until thick. Pour over warm potatoes and mix.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Cherries, Cherries, and more Cherries

I think I wrote last year about how my friend Priscilla discovered that I had a sour cherry tree on my land. And then I discovered that I had seven more, along with two huge mulberry trees. We discovered this at the tail end of the cherry season and so only got a few pints of cherries. I may be falling into this trap again this year, it seems I never have time to go out and pick and I am fearful of letting the kids climb on ladders on unsteady ground without me. (I know, you're completely surprised by that much maternal instinct in me, my general philosophy is to let them do just about anything as long as they won't die. But in this case, the risk of severe bodily injury is enough for me to prohibit the activity unless I am there. Then it's fine)

So I must pick cherries today, before it is too late. Then I am going to try to preserve some of them whole, by cooking them with sugar on a one to one ratio (that means 1 cup of sugar for every cup of cherries). I'll bring them to a boil, let them cool, bring them to a boil again, let them cool, repeating this about four times. According to my sister-in-law this will keep the fruit whole. Then I'm not sure if I'll just keep them in the fridge or if I'll can them. We'll just have to wait and see.

My friend Deb devised a fantastic recipe for using all the cherries she and her family picked on the 4th of July at a local u-pick fruit orchard She took the pitted cherries and cooked them with balsamic vinegar and a little sugar. You can buy a similar product at the market for about $5 for a cup. Her version is just as good. We topped Brie with it and practically wet our pants it was so good. She tells me that she cooked a pork loin in the crock pot with it and it was phenomenal. She forgot that I generally make fun of people who cook things in crockpots. I'll let it go this time.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Too hot to cook? Eat this!

My trip to California went well. Grandma Foodie had a successful surgery and I practically had to tie her to a chair to keep her from doing too much.

She decided to have a dinner party while I was there to cook it for her. Ahem. I made tostones for an appetizer, something I had never done before. I peeled plantains and smashed them and fried them, then filled them with shrimp wrapped in prosciutto and a rum butter sauce. Yum. (Make sure to get the green plantains, the black ones don't hold their shape. Wait, probably none of you are ever going to make tostones; it requires an old fashioned tostone smasher. I'll probably never make them again, either as I neglected to spirit the tostone maker away in my suitcase, an oversight I assure you, because I fully intended to wheedle it out of Grandma Foodie. they were that good. Amazing, really.


The weather in California was really nice considering my folks live out in the middle of the desert. While I do prefer the coastal areas of California, the Inland Empire does offer some amazing Mexican Food. We ate at a little place called Las Bonitas. Awesome food.

So I return home to miserably hot weather. We do not own an air conditioner since, as former Californians, we consider it to be not too hot here during the summer. Except this week. It is 95 with high humidity. Let's just say that if I could get a waterproof computer I would never leave the pool.

It is obviously too hot to cook. But we still have to eat and after a week of pasta and hamburgers my family wants real food. So I made Chinese Chicken Salad. No cooking, only prepping. Night Night, I'll be in the pool.

June's Chinese Chicken Salad

One Supermarket rotisserie chicken, meat taken off the carcass
3 heads Romaine lettuce, chopped (yes, with a damn knife, I'm too hot and cranky to tear it up)
Red pepper strips (fresh, not jarred, not roasted)
2 large green onions, sliced
2/3 cup peanuts
Celery, if you want it
Sliced pea pods, if you want them, I don't care
Rice vermicelli, fried until puffy (Ok, so you have to cook this part. Heat up your deep fryer or a pan with at least 1/2 inch of oil. Drop the dried (not fresh, Deb) noodles into the oil and submerge. Flip them to the other side. All the dried part must touch the oil or they will be hard and unchewable instead of light and fluffy and crunchy.

Dressing:
Dissolve 1/2C honey in 1/2 cup rice vinegar. Heating it on the stove will make it better, but you don't have to if it is too freaking hot.
Add 2T soy sauce and 1 tsp sesame oil. Mix in salt and pepper to taste then add 1 C vegetable oil. Mix well, toss, eat on paper plates so there is nothing to wash and you can go sleep in the pool.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Secrets

Sometimes people like to try to shock me. They tell me their dirty little secrets. "Oh, June, I have a really easy way to grill asparagus. I spray it with Pam first and then plop it on the grill." or "Oh, you know a great way to make steak? Bake for 20 minutes at 350."

Seriously, people have actually said these things to me, and once I was served baked steaks. Really.

But the other day, I got one of the best dirty little secrets ever. I am out in California helping Grandma Foodie while she recovers from some not major, but not minor surgery. I made plans to meet some old friends from high school whom I had not seen in close to thirty years. (Yes, alright, I am that old.) Making plans in California is not a necessarily easy task. One must consider the time of day, direction of travel and which parking lot of a freeway on which one will have to sit. We finally settled on a hole in the wall place called Esther's taco house The girls worried I might not like it. They are readers of this blog. They said they were afraid of me. Okay, I can see that, people confuse my sarcastic online demeanour with my sweet real life personality. (Stop ;laughing. It's true. Sometimes.)  But, happily the taco place was good, as was the company. It was a blast, girls.

One of my old friends looked sheepishly at me and and told me that one of her best dishes is chicken breasts (boneless, skinless) stuffed with stove top and baked with,wait for it, wait for it,CREAM OF CHICKEN SOUP.

I was nearly speechless. After all, how do you chastise someone you haven't seen for thirty years?

Well, something like this: "You've got to be kidding me? And your husband hasn't divorced you ? "

She did tell me that she had tried one of my recipes but that it didn't turn out very well. The she told me she had changed it. 'Nuff said?

I don't have another good recipe for stuffed chicken breasts, I have published one before. Maybe it's too complicated. So here, Michelle, is a simple one, just for you, from another source. Can't wait to see you again.

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/24597677

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Potato Salad

Somehow people seem to think making potato salad is hard. Or maybe they just think making good potato salad is hard. My husband and son used to attend karate classes at a dojo where they would have a year-end picnic and a holiday party. I once brought my potato salad and everybody raved about it. (Of course they did. It was my potato salad, after all). After that, my husband would come home from classes in advance of these parties and tell me he signed me up to bring potato salad because everyone asked him to. I mean, these people were crazy for my potato salad, like it was difficult to make or something out of the ordinary. It seemed like a no-brainer to me; anyone could make potato salad, it requires nothing more than, oh wait, that's right, my well-developed skills in the kitchen.

Well, for those of you who are afraid of potato salad, or who think yours is sub-par, I will bestow upon you my potato salad recipe. The orgins of this recipe are of course with Grandma Foodie, but I have altered it a bit. Grandma Foodie puts sour cream in hers, and you can, too, if you wish. I just happen to think mine is better.

The other thing is that there are no exact measurements for this recipe. I was making it this morning for a picnic today and I tried to pay closer attention to approximate measurements, but they are all just approximations. You'll have to use your judgement. You might want to taste mine first. Pool party is at three. Bring wine.

Dill Potato Salad

Boil 5 pounds of red-skinned potatoes until fork-tender. Do not peel. While they are still hot cut them into 1 inch chunks. You can do smaller or larger. I like a combination of sizes for texture and creaminess. Put them in a bowl and pour about a 1/2 cup of olive oil and 1/4 c of red wine vinegar over them while they are still hot! They won't absorb the olive oil if you wait until they cool. Season with salt (need I say kosher?) and pepper (fresh ground?) and toss well. Let cool.

Meanwhile, chop 3 stalks of celery and a medium red onion. Hard boil 3 eggs. Peel and chop the eggs and add them and the celery and onion to the potatoes. Stir in about 1 1/2 cups of mayonaise. It might take a little more than that, but it certainly won't take less. Add at least 1/4 c of fresh dill, finely chopped. In a pinch you can use dried, but it will take a little less. Then you have to taste it. Does it have enough dill? Is it too dry? Does it need salt or pepper? That's it, people. It's not that hard.

Oh, and if you're coming for swimming, bring your own towels. You don't want to annoy me by leaving me with heaps of dirty towels, do you? I might not give you any potato salad.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Frozen Yogurt

You all know that I am the furthest thing away from a health food nazi you can find. Don't get me wrong, I like healthful food as long as it tastes good, but you can keep your cardboard rice cakes and no-fat, dairy free, sugar free, taste free brownies and chocolate chip cookies made with whole wheat flour, splenda, and I can't-believe-it's-not butter. (My children have all been forced to bake these at school. Fortunately, they had a good upbringing and they tasted them, sneered inwardly to themselves and then politely stated that they weren't hungry. My opinion of school "cooking classes" is, ahem, low.) I think you should eat fresh, freshly prepared unprocessed food and enjoy it.

So, normally, I don't eat frozen yogurt. It usually tastes like it was trying hard to be ice cream and not quite succeeding.

A year or two ago, as I was in the midst of some turmoil in my worklife, a friend decided to cheer me up by having a Cusinart Ice Cream Maker sent to me from Goodmans.net. It didn't help the work turmoil, but it sure helped to know someone cared and wanted me to have some happiness.
So I got to work making ice cream. We had some great successes. Plain vanilla ice cream takes on completely new dimensions when it is devoid of thickeners and artificial ingredients. Cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla combine into silky, creamy, decadence, especially when eaten with some fresh peach cobbler or strawberry shortcake. (Confession: I make shortcake the way my mother does, with Bisquick. the recipe is on the box. Yes, I know it is pretty much just a biscuit and easy to make without a mix, but I need it to taste like it did when I was a child. Which means bisquick. Besides, it's pretty easy)



One night, the kids were whining for dessert. (Not a terribly attractive quality, especially since they're not anywhere near being preschoolers anymore) They wanted to go down to the ice cream shop and get a cone. Not that I am opposed to that idea, but it was late, I was in my jammies and I didn't have any cash. I looked in the fridge for some cream to whip up  a batch of ice cream for them. Gasp! Can you imagine that I was out of cream? Pratically unthinkable. I did, however, happen to have a carton of plain yogurt. I suddenly had an ephiphany, and I dumped the yogurt into the ice cream maker along with some sugar, vanilla, and fresh peaches. Twenty minutes later, the kids were happy and smiling. And they had eaten something better for them than ice cream.

I have since also made frozen yogurt by using vanilla yogurt. It is really no different, you just don't need to add sugar and vanilla as these are, duh, already in it.

Today I discovered the first of the sour cherries are ripe on my trees. I picked as many as I could from the low-hanging branches. I am putting them in the ice cream maker along with a carton of yogurt and a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten the flavor. It will be amazing, Just get yourself an ice cream maker, you know you want to.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Rack of Lamb and Garlic Scape Pesto

I love getting up early and going to the local farmer's market, the Rochester Public Market. Don't get me wrong, I do not consider myself a Locavore; I don't like the holier-than-thou politically charged implications of that word. I will eat grapes from Chili in winter and lettuce from California and and peaches from Georgia when local produce is not available. But the truth that is plain for anyone with a palate to taste is that the food that gets to your table direct from small family farms in the fastest amount of time tastes better. And no, I'm not talking about organic food either. Some food tastes better if it is organic and other food tastes the same. I go for whatever looks and tastes good, because as you know if you've read this blog even once before, I'm all about quality.

I got up at 4:30 this morning (don't think I'm weird, I can't help it. I just wake up) and I headed out the door around 5:00 to go downtown to one of the oldest farmer's markets in the country. What did I have in mind to buy? Well, strawberries for one. No, they are not the incredible California strawberries you get at a stand on the side of the road in spring in my home state; they are small, but bright red and sweet local berries. And they are delicious. Next best thing to my beloved California berries.

I also wanted radishes. Big, succulent, red ones, crisp to the bite and the knife with a little bit of a spicy finish. Hmm, I like to drop in salad, of course, and they are great with an herbed cheese spread made with thyme, parsley, garlic, chives, cream cheese, salt and pepper with a little sour cream thrown in to thin it out to spreading consistency. Top a grilled piece of baguette with the cheese and a slice of just picked radish and you are in heaven. Or, try the snack given to French school children after school: a radish with a bit of butter and some sea salt. I like re Hawaiian salt for this purpose.

What I was really after were garlic scapes. Garlic scapes are the green part of garlic that grows and flowers. Garlic is a bulb, you know. They have a mild, slightly garlicky, slightly spicy taste. When made into pesto the flavors intensify and you get a spread with a real kick. You can use it just like you would any pesto: on pasta, on pizza, as a base for yummy crostini with melted fresh mozzarella and prosciutto. Anything goes! I am going to stir some of the pesto into an orzo risotto and serve it alongside the American rack of lamb I got at the market for $10 a rack! Locally we usually pay almost $16 a pound for Frenched rack and these are a pound each. I am going to grill them simply, after rubbing them with olive oil, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper. Can't wait for dinner!




Garlic Scape Pesto

10 garlic scapes, roughly chopped
1/2C  parmesano-reggiano
1/4 lightly toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil, or enough to get the texture you like

Put the scapes in the food processor and pulse until they are finely ground. Add the olive oil, cheese, pine nuts and whir until uniform consistency. Season with kosher salt. (Shout out to a dear friend who shall remain nameless: get some damn kosher salt, you dweeb. And some decent Parmesan. And for those of you who don't know me, I only call people I like dweebs.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Grilled Flatbread with Carmelized Onions, Mushrooms, and Blue Cheese

When you live in Upstate NY you really learn to appreciate the different seasons. Having lived in California until I was 32 years old, I always romanticized fall and winter and thought how great it would be to live somewhere with real seasons. Not that California, doesn't have seasons. It does, Hot and hotter. Then rain and mudslides. But here it is different. If you are hearty enough to make it through the winter you are rewarded with the three other seasons. (Of course, winter is brutal and lasts about six months. But hey, the cold keeps out the riff raff. They all move to Florida)

So, it is now summer. (Fade in Gershwin, "And the livin' is easy....") Needless to say, the way I cook changes tremendously from season to season. Summer is a riot of fresh produce, from raspberries to tomatoes and corn and everything in between. But the thing that changes most in summer is the method by which I cook. I know I am not alone in making grilling my primary way of getting dinner on the table. But steaks, hamburgers, and chicken do get a little monotonous, so I mix it up quite a bit. Grilled flatbread is a particular favorite in our house.

Grilled flatbread can be topped anyway you please, or used as a foil for some great dips. Topped like a pizza, even the kids will love it. Tonight, I plan on sipping some champagne on the deck, listening to the birds, and enjoying this version of grilled flatbread as a first course. Haven't decided what will come after it yet. But rest assured, it will be good.

Grilled Flatbread with Caramelized Onions, Mushrooms, and Blue Cheese

The secret of this flatbread is to use GOOD blue cheese. Point Reyes Blue or Maytag are my favorites. Just don't use anything labeled "blue cheese crumbles". I am convinced that people who don't like blue cheese have only ever had bad blue cheese or bad blue cheese dressing. Try spending more than .99 a pound on it and you might be surprised by how happy it makes your mouth.

1. Slice an onion. Heat 2 T olive oil in a skillet and add the onions. Cook slowly until the onions begin to caramelize. Season well with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.

2. Saute mushrooms a la Julia Child: in other words, use a combination of butter and olive oil, season well, and don't crowd the pan. They will brown nicely if they have enough room. Do two batches if you have to. Read Julia's recipe for sauteed mushroom in "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" It will transform your life. If you don't have the book, wait a minute, you don't have the book? Really? Are you worthy enough to read my blog? At least go check it out from the library and give it a once over. Seriously.

3. Preheat your grill to medium. Brush both sides of a  flatbread  with olive oil.( I buy mine at the public market, but you can find decent ones at the supermarket next to the pita breads. They are called Naan, or Tandoori Naan, or pocketless pitas.) Season with salt and pepper and put on the grill. Grill one side until slightly crisp and slightly browned,a bout 2 minutes. Turn over and top with sliced fresh mozzarella, the mushrooms, onion, and sprinkle liberally with blue cheese.Turn the heat down and close the lid on the grill. heat until the mozzarella melts and is slightly bubbly, about 5 minutes, moving the flatbread to indirect heat if the bottom starts to get too brown.

And don't forget to eat it with a nice Spanish Cava. I prefer Segura Viudas.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Crab cakes and grilled caesar salad

I couldn't decide what to make for dinner tonight until the last minute. I considered several options, from fettucine with anchovies and tomatoes and fried capers, to Thai coconut lemongrass soup. I finally settled on crab cakes, artichokes, grilled flatbread with cherry tomato bruschetta, and grilled Caesar salad.

Grilled Salad?

YESSS!!!!

It is unbelievably good and easy. And it appeased Hannah since she loves it and she was disappointed that I wasn't making the fettucine.

So, how do you grill a salad, you ask?

Start with some hearts of romaine. Plan on 1/4 to 1/2 per person, depending on how much you like salad.

Quarter the hearts(don't remove the stem) and place them in a shallow dish which can hold them all. Then, pour a LOT of olive oil over them. (I may have been gone a while, but if you have forgotten that you must use extra virgin, first cold press then I may have to come over and beat you severely. Or something. Maybe just chastise you whilst consuming all the wine in your house. Unless it comes from a box.) So, after it is nicely coated,  roll the quarters around in the oil until all sides are coated. Throw in two or three cloves of garlic per head of lettuce and let the whole thing soak for at least twenty to thirty minutes while you make the rest of dinner.

Heat the grill to high. Put the lettuce on and watch it carefully. Turn it frequently. It may actually catch on fire. Don't worry. Pick it up and blow it out. When it is nicely charred and wilted. (I said charred, not blackened) put it back into the shallow dish with the leftover olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with shaved Parmesan. Or Asiago, or romano. Eat. Just not the hard core end. You can throw that away. Unless you want to suck all the garlic oil off first. Be my guest.

No recipe today

I had almost decided to stop blogging.

It wasn't actually a conscious decision at first. Mostly, I was overwhelmed with work, helping to launch the new version of the website I work for. It seemed every waking hour was spent at the computer and I could barely cook a decent dinner, let alone write about it. So a month went by, then two. And soon I just decided that I just wouldn't do it anymore. But then there was the begging....

Priscilla keeps hounding me relentlessly. "You need to  get back to blogging," said in the semi- bitchy, demanding tone that means she is going to bend me to her will no matter what.

And so here is this post by way of explanation. And since I now have four minute until I wake the kids and make them bagels for breakfast, I will post a link to a piece I wrote for the website I work for. This is a review of a piece of kitchen equipment I had been wanting, mostly to make a fabulous dish that we made last year for my daughter's wedding. My mother actually brought her meat slicer in her RV with her, because after all, you never know when you will want to make Seared Carpaccio of Beef with Fried Capers and Parsley Oil. So, I got a slicer and reviewed it. I didn't talk about making the carpaccio, because that is not the audience for it, nor was I my usual snarky self. (Well, maybe a little). So, here is the review. 

PS. I also wrote the review of Greek Peak Indoor Waterpark that is on the homepage of that site, if you want to read that.

I promise to try to blog at least once a week and to rip someone's cooking or cooking practices to shreds in the near future.

Monday, March 8, 2010

5 things you should always have in the fridge

As I keep trying to convince you people, if you just keep a few basics around the kitchen you can easily create a meal even if you fail to plan. Here are five things I always have in the fridge, aside from the obvious like eggs and mayo and mustard.

  • Butter. This is the one thing you must never run out of. Buy large quantities when you find a good price. It doesn't really go bad, but I know people who keep extra in the freezer. I don't usually, but I always have at least three pounds in the fridge. You won't find margarine of any kind unless my son is home, in which case I will grudgingly supply him with Smart Balance. Then we argue about the merits or lack thereof of each of them. Bet you can guess which side I fall on. I'm not going to engage in a butter argument with you, so don't bother leaving an anti-butter diatribe in comments. Life without butter is not worth living.
  • Buttermilk. Buttermilk is wonderful stuff. You can use in an endless variety of baked goods as well as salad dressings and even homemade ice cream! It has a long shelf life. Really long. I don't think I have ever thrown away buttermilk. If it is getting close to the end of its shelf life, make pancakes for breakfast. Even if you are ridiculous enough to make pancakes from a mix, use the buttermilk in place of the water or milk. It makes your pancakes so tender. Pancakes without buttermilk are almost not worth eating. Buttermilk pancake mix is a lame substitute, especially when you consider that making pancakes from scratch requires less than five minutes effort to mix. Flour, baking powder, sugar, eggs, butter, and buttermilk. That's it. One bowl, one liquid measure, one pyrex prep bowl to melt the butter in the microwave. How easy is that?
  • Cream. It makes everything better. Just a tablespoon or two. I don't use it every night, not by a long shot, but if I have cream I know I can always come up with something for dinner.
  • Parmesan or Romano cheese. Again, if you have some on hand you can turn rice into risotto, garnish pasta, make a gratin, it is indispensable. It also virtually never goes bad, so there is no excuse for not having it.
  • Capers and Sundried tomatoes. Okay, so that's two things. I couldn't decide which I needed more in the fridge. Both are great for adding some zip to sauces. And I can't live without capers on my smoked salmon and bagel and cream cheese for breakfast. Can't. Don't try to make me.

So of course there are lots of other things I think you should always have in the fridge. Start with these and let me know how it goes. I'll give you some more essentials soon.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Carne Asada

Boy, it seems I can only get around to posting on weekends. I am absorbed in work that I am really happy to be doing. I have a day job that is nice. The people are nice, it is low stress, but I also have another job that has exciting possibilities and people to work with who energize me and really value me. So when I find myself at my computer at 5:00 am I gravitate towards that work. Plus, no one has really annoyed me with their cooking or lame comments on food lately.

Today is Dear Hubby's birthday. He is now old enough to get a senior discount at the movies. I asked him what he wanted for dinner and he requested a Mexican Fiesta. We think it might be warm enough to fire up the grill today (40 degrees is my minimum grill temperature. I find that if you try to grill when the ambient temp is lower than that the grill doesn't get hot enough to sear the meat.) so I will make Carne Asada. Last night I mixed the marinade and put in four nice skirt steaks to soak overnight. Here in the great north we can't get the fabulous Carne Milanesa steak that we always had in California. I'm not sure what cut they used, but it was so thinly sliced that after it was marinated you only had to grill it for about thirty seconds per side. Then you would quickly slice it and wrap it in a nice warm tortilla with some salsa and guacamole, squeeze a lime over it and you were in heaven. Mexican food is just not the same here in New York. Sad.

My sister, of The Joy of Gluten Free, has a great recipe for Carne Asada marinade. Here it is.

1 C orange juice
1 C beer
1/2 C olive oil
1 sliced onion
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 C chopped cilantro
Juice of 2 lemons
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
2 bay  leaves
salt and pepper

Mix it all together and throw in the meat. As I said, I now use skirt steak. Just try to use something thin and tender. Grill it quickly so that you don't dry out the meat (Oh, perfect opportunity to take a jab at my BFF Prissie. She overcooks all meat. She hates meat, so she feels she has to ruin it for everyone else.) and serve it with warm flour tortillas, salsa, and guacamole. Yum! Happy Birthday, Honey!