Sunday, January 27, 2008
The topic? Sweet Potatoes. The taste? Phenomenal. The picture? Less than extraordinary. (Sorry, still don't have my camera charger -- I took this picture with my iphone.)
A few nights ago I made mashed sweet potatoes to go with our dinner of French Onion soup, roasted chicken with meyer lemons, and a green salad. I baked the two huge sweet potatoes and then mashed them, skins on, with a dab of wildflower honey, sea salt, and freshly ground pepper. They were wonderfully savory and complimented the tangy chicken perfectly.
Last night, however, dinner was a bit different. I roasted a slab of salmon in the oven (seasoned with fresh oregano and more meyer lemon) (I would have grilled it, but wouldn't you know that our deck is being ripped out because of water and termite damage and we can't walk out to the grill for fear of collapsing the fragile remnants of our once beautiful deck. Don't ask.), blanched some green beans, and reheated the left-over French Onion soup.
I wanted to use the left-over mashed sweet potatoes also, but I didn't want to simply reheat them. Instead, I unearthed an old recipe from my memories of helping my parents cook as a child. My mom and dad both loved potato patties (fried circles of day-old mashed potatoes, mixed with diced onions, and salt and pepper) and I loved to help them shape the potato mixture into patties. Plus, dipping the (crunchy on the outside, creamy on the inside) potato patties into ketchup was highly entertaining to my as a kid. I haven't had them in years.
I created the below recipe based on that memory -- our dinner guests and I gobbled them up. Hope you give them a try, they are really, really worth it!
Sweet Potato Patties
(Sorry, all ingredients are approximations -- this sort of recipe I do by feel)
-- leftover mashed sweet potatoes, skins on (approximately 3 cups)
-- flour (approximately 3/4 cup)
--nutmeg (1/2 teaspoon *freshly* grated)
--cinnamon (1/2 teaspoon ground)
--ginger (1/4 teaspoon ground or freshly grated)
-- salt and pepper
--honey (one teaspoon, but only if the mashed sweet potatoes don't already have honey added)
-- neutral oil, such as canola, for frying
1) Combine all ingredients, except the oil, with your hands. Be sure to add the flour bit by bit (you may not use it all). The mixture should be thick and tacky like playdough. If it is too wet, add more flour, if it is too dry, add a bit of water or an extra egg white.
2) Heat oil in large cast iron frying pan (enough oil to go 1/4 inch up the side of the pan) until sizzling. A drop of water should dance on the surface.
3) Form golf ball sized balls of sweet potato mixture, and flatten them to about 1/2 thick
4) Slide the patties into the oil, making sure the pan isn't too crowded. When one side is browned, flip the patty and fry the other side until golden.
5) Remove the patties from the oil and place them on a plate covered with a layer of paper towels.
6) Fry the patties in batches until all of the mixture is used.
7) Blot the excess oil from any patties and serve hot.
Be sure to use fresh oil -- rancid or stale oil will ruin these. Also, the freshly grated nutmeg is very important, pre-ground will not be nearly as good. Additionally, the patties should have a crunchy exterior and a smooth, creamy interior. Finally, you should be able to taste the interplay of the salt/sweet/spice flavors.
We served these for dinner, but our plan is to reheat the left-overs in the oven and serve them for breakfast with maple syrup. I'll let you know how it goes!
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
However, I did manage to take a trip to Italy in October (and, while staying at an old Tuscan villa, enjoy mind-bogglingly good food). I also took multiple trips to New York City to visit the boyfriend (and, while there, also relished delicious meals at fabulous restaurants). Of course, taking these trips necessitated even more time at work and no time to document all of the tastiness.
Never fear fine reader, those times are behind us. I have quit my job a The Big Law Firm and will be starting a new job next Monday. My hope is that the new job will not suck as many hours out of my life as the old one (and how could it?) and that I will be able to return to regular posting! First, however, I need to buy a battery charger for my camera. What good is this blog without the pictures? :)
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Kusasasi was also pretty fantastic -- it is a vacation city (though we didn't get to spend much time there -- we spent our day climbing around the old city of Ephesus) and it is much smaller than Istanbul. On the plus side, we had the most hysterical tour guide in Kusadasi -- I'm going to try and relate to you how she sounded. However, I warn you that translating an accent into written language is hard and some of the humor might get lost.
Those crazy Ephesians and their two story buildings.
Next up, food wise, Naples. Italy in general has um, how do I say it?, ....um, astounding food. I know I don't need to tell all of you the glories of sweet fruity olive oil, the beauty of the fresh produce, or the siren call of wine. However, if you'll indulge me, I will fill you in on our day of yummy food in and around Naples.
My plate, from the top, clockwise: mussels in decadent tomato sauce, perfectly tender grilled calamari, crusty fresh bread, and marinated veggies -- eggplant, zucchini, and peppers. There was also an assortment of cheeses available, but being allergic to milk, I of course didn't take any.
After lunch, we strolled around the shopping area and picked up jewelry, admired some inlaid wood (which the region is famous for), and perused the fruit stands. Apparently, other than inlaid wood, Sorrento is also famous for some hard-core lemons. Um, limoncello anyone? Anyway, check out the size of these babies:
They were huge -- and incredibly fragrant. I only wished I had stayed in Naples for longer so I could have made a batch of lemonade, or a tart, or marinated some fish,.... or, or, or (I could keep going with a million ways I could have used those glorious lemons).
We also enjoyed our fair share of cafe, the aforementioned limoncello, and some gelato. "Wait!", I hear you say. "Kristel, you can't have gelato. Hello? Dairy allergy?" And to that I reply one word: Sorbetto. Yes indeed, folks, those Italians make some of the best sorbetto in the world. And I was lucky enough to have life-changing dark chocoloate sorbetto with chunks of dark chocolate while in Sorrento. I am at a loss for words to describe the experience of eating this dessert. It was unlike any sorbet I'd ever had before -- incredibly smooth, deeply flavored, and impossibly rich. If I lived in Italy I think I'd weigh 500 pounds. Look, I won't even stop eating it to take a picture:
* Friends of Kristel (I'm looking at you, Melissa, Jason, and Ben), if you do not want your picture on this website, let me know. If not, you and your gluttonous, gelato eating ways will be on display for the world to see.
I find this hilarious. I'm not sure why. I think it is the "only from we" bit.
The camera just doesn't do justice to the intricacy of these churches.
It may not look like much, but I would give almost anything to be able to create a pasta dish this good.
Finally, the food on the ship. I don't really have much to say about the food on the cruise ship. I guess I could say that there was a lot of it. The quantity far outshone the quality. Etc. I did take a picture of the one dish on the ship that I thought was superb. My salad of lobster, crab, shrimp, grapefruit, avocado, and cilantro oil was wonderful. Of course, it would be difficult to make those ingredients taste badly. Nevertheless, here is my favorite dish from the ship:
Check out the size of the claw meat!
And, to wrap up - I did go to other places on this trip -- I just have no food related pictures. I was in Venice (sorry, no pictures, period. I'd been to Venice before, and just wasn't feeling the picture taking vibe while I was there this time),
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Our power was out for nearly 24 hours. In stifling heat.
There was a HUGE accident on the 101 right outside my house yesterday. Traffic was backed up for literally 6 miles. Getting to work yesterday was misery incarnate.
My camera charger is missing. And, without it, I can't upload photos of the trip or of subsequent delicious food, so I can't blog about anything.
My luggage is still traveling Europe without me. Most recently, Princess Cruises told me that they shipped it from Barcelona, to Belgium, to the U.K. We'll see if I ever receive it.
Work is, well, work. And therefore, all consuming.
M is having neck surgery today -- getting 3 vertebrae fused together. Enough said. :(
I could go on -- but I have a feeling you might get bored. The moral of this story? I'm frazzled. And feeling guilty about not posting. I will. I promise. Very, very soon. Until then, read the archives. I recommend the recipe for smoked salmon pizza.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Seriously, make this soup.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
I admit that I've been really lax about posting for a few weeks...I'm further ashamed to divulge that it will be another few weeks before I'm back in the saddle, as it were.
Work has been, how shall I say this? Demanding. I have a horrible cold. I was out of town at a wedding. Etc. Etc. Etc. I could talk (type?) your ear off all day, but I'd still have to apologize. So I'm sorry, dear reader, I vow to get better.
However, not until mid- August.
Why will it be that long, you ask? Well, I'm about to go on a long awaited, much hyped, and hopefully fabulous, vacation. My best friends and I are going on a cruise around the Mediterranean, starting this Friday and lasting until August 9. During that time, I will devouring all of the delicious food I can find, drinking all the wine I see, and taking plenty of notes about everything to share with you all. However, the one thing I won't be doing, is blogging.
So for now, please accept my apology, enjoy the recipe, and get excited about the stories to come!
Cantaloupe and Black Pepper Sorbet
--5 cups cantaloupe chunks
--1/2 cup sugar
--1/2 cup water
--1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
--2 tablespoons vodka
1) bring sugar, water, and salt to a boil. Then, simmer, stirring often until sugar is completely dissolved. Take off the heat and allow to cool slightly.
2) In your blender, combine cantaloupe chunks, sugar syrup, salt, pepper, and vodka and blend until smooth. For best results, refrigerate this mix for at least an hour.
3) freeze according to ice cream maker instructions
Yes, black pepper and cantaloupe are delicious together, I promise. My family has always put pepper on cantaloupe (and salt on watermelon), and relished in the contrasting flavor. This sorbet takes this idea a bit further...and, man, oh, man, is it delicious. Sweet and smooth, with a subtle kick. Please don't be turned off by the idea of pepper in your dessert -- it really is good. :)
Oh, and the vodka? Keeps the sorbet from freezing too hard. Don't worry, it's not going to get you (or your kids or neighbors) inebriated!
And, the main part of that meal: Cockles with garlic and parsley, over whole wheat pasta.
And, on the side, sauteed squash and a glass of Prosecco with a raspberry. (Oh, yes, and a citronella candle -- we were eating outside, after all!)
On that note, I bid you farewell for a few weeks -- but, never fear, gentle reader, I'll be back soon enough, with lots of inspiration and plenty of tales to tell. Ciao!
Saturday, July 14, 2007
I buy mint, cilantro, and basil every week at the farmer's market and use them in summer salads, in any asian style soup, in tuna salad, chicken salad, in larb, in sorbet (no, really), and in a multitude of other dishes. Like I said, I adore the combination -- it is heady with fragrance, complexly nuanced, and fresh beyond belief.
Last night, D and M were coming home late from the airport, and I promised to have something yummy on the table when they got in. Because it was the end of the week, and the larder was on the empty side, I did not have much to work with. However, I did have the magical mix of herbs, a slab of marinated tofu, and a bag of chili flavored noodles.
Necessity being the mother of invention as it is, and those being the ingredients that I had on hand, this dish was created. It turned out to be a distant cousin to one of my favorite dishes, larb. D, M, and I all enjoyed it -- give it a try, it is another one of those fast, simple, healthy meals that you can get on the table in just about 30 minutes (and holds really well, you can serve it warm or at room temperature, or even cold).
Tofu Noodle Wraps
--3 or 4 purple cabbage leaves per person, separated from the head and cleaned
-- 1 lb pasta (either soba noodles, udon noodles, or thin spaghetti noodles -- mine happened to be chili flavored spaghetti)
--1/2 cup total of liquid (your choice on the ratio, but I include: sesame oil, soy sauce, a bit of fish sauce, lucky boy soy paste, rice wine vinegar, and rooster sauce)
--2 cloves garlic, diced
--1 inch fresh ginger, dished
-- 1 8 oz package of baked tofu, sliced into matchsticks
--4 green onions, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
--1 cup sliced mushrooms
--1 cup diced herbs (basil, mint, and cilantro)
1) put a large pot of water on to boil, and, when boiling, add your pasta. Cook until al dente and then drain.
2) meanwhile, heat the liquid mixture in a large wok until bubbling. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for about a minute.
3) add the tofu, onions, and mushroom, and cook, stirring regularly until mushrooms are done and tofu is heated through -- about 10 minutes. Then turn the heat off.
4) add the herbs and the drained noodles to the tofu mixture and stir until everything is incorporated and the noodles are slicked with sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning (at this point I added more rooster sauce)
Pile the noodle mixture onto a large plate, next to the plate of cabbage leaves. Let each person fill their own leaf to make their own wrap(s).
Friday, July 13, 2007
When I get home from an especially awful day (which for me usually includes: getting up early, horrible traffic, demanding clients, difficult bosses, and a late night) I need something easy for dinner. But more than that, I need something easy and good. No soup from a can or heated up pasta will do. I need something that will make me feel healthy, fill me up, and won't take me more than 15 minutes to prepare.
Enter, Sucky Day Salad.
There are a thousand variations on Sucky Day salad. The basic formula is this:
Your favorite salad greens (I like spring mix, spinach, and arugula) + assorted fresh veggies (I usually add tomatoes, mushrooms, and carrots) + protein source (for me, generally grilled chicken, tuna, tofu, or beans) + something a bit exotic (artichoke hearts, high quality olives, roasted peppers, etc.) + salad dressing of choice (usually a vinaigrette of some kind).
Simple? yes. But also, healthy, tasty, easy, and brightly colored. Certain to improve any sucky day.
My most recent example:
Mixed greens, mushrooms, grape tomatoes, cold, cooked lentils, roasted red and yellow peppers, and basil vinaigrette.
All of the ingredients live permanently in my pantry and refrigerator, and the entire thing takes less than 15 minutes to put together. Goodbye sucky day, indeed.
Saturday, July 7, 2007