Sunday, August 26, 2007

All the gooey details

Hello, my most patient of friends/readers/ random finders of this blog. I vow to never again be as lax as have been this month with my posting. I offer no excuses -- a busy life is no reason not to be totally obsessed with eating food, writing about food, and taking pictures of food, right? :)

And, as I promised, on to all of the gooey food details from my vacation!

First up, Turkey (the country, not the bird).

Turkey was fan-freaking-tastic.

We went to Kusadasi to see the ruins of Ephesus (as in the city from the book of Ephesians in the Bible -- seriously old and awesome ruins) and to Istanbul.
I LOVED Istanbul. I seriously think I could live in there. The city is vibrant, beautiful, unique, metropolitan, and swarming with people. Oh, the apple tea, the carpets, the mosques, the tiles, the bazaar (swoon!).... I have only good things to say.

A small slice of Istanbul.

Me and some of the best tiles ever. :)

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.
What she said was: "My dear guests, our driver Mr. Ahmeet will be taking us to the Third Ephesus" (She said "my dear guests" at the beginning of *each* sentence -- it was awesome --and she was referring to the fact that Ephesus was rebuilt three times).
What she sounded like, however, was this: "My deeeeeeeer guests, our driver, Meeestery Meat, will be taking us to Tuuuuurd Ephesus." Her accent was a bit like a vampire from an old movie crossed with a cheerful (Turkish) school teacher. We loved her, and couldn't stop giggling about our driver Mystery Meat, and our journey to Turd Ephesus.

The original Nike (the goddess) sculpture in Ephesus. Can you figure out where Nike (the company) came up with the "swoosh" design?

Those crazy Ephesians and their two story buildings.

Those crazy Kusadasians and their "magic atmosphere!" (This was seriously the sign for the bathrooms at Ephesus.)

After we left the ruins in Ephesus, there was a small market. In this market, from a street vendor, I bought God's own figs. No really. These figs were transcendent. After tasting just one, I shrieked/moaned with delight, and shoved another one greedily in my mouth, (with complete and utter disregard for any potential lurking intestinal disease.) They were achingly sweet, perfectly ripe, and almost erotically lush. Take a look:

The fruit of the gods. I've never had figs like these before.

In Istanbul, I had a delightful, though much less palate-altering, meal. For lunch one day, just outside of the Grand Bazaar, we feasted on kebabs and rice. This was my plate -- perfectly seasoned chicken, delicious rice (it tasted nutty -- I think it was browned before it was steamed. Regardless, it was damn fine rice), tomatoes, and french fries (which I didn't eat. Who goes to Turkey and eats fries???)

Note the darker pieces of rice. Yum!

For drinks at that particular meal, I went with their house specialty imported beer: Miller Lite. Yes, I'm serious. (And, more importantly, who goes to Turkey to drink cheap American beer? Me, apparently. In my defense, it seemed slightly safer than the tap water)


Next up, food wise, Naples. Italy in general has um, how do I say it?,, 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.

We first went to Pompeii (it was entertaining, but the ash bodies just made me sad. I will point out that however big you think Pompeii is, it is at least 4 times bigger. The ruins are huge.) and then we jaunted up the Amalfi Coast. Seriously? Double swoon. I believe I would give my left arm to be independently wealthy and be able to buy a big, gorgeous house on the Amalfi Coast.

Anyway, my friends and I settled in for a long, leisurely Italian lunch at a cute cafe near the Coast. We started with some antipasti:

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.

Next course was the pizza. Now, those of you who have been reading my blog for a bit, might remember that in my post in April, I pointed out that eating pizza in Naples (the birthplace of pizza) was one of my 25 things to do before I turned 50. Well kids, mission accomplished....and oh, what a sweet reward. My frutti de mare pizza was exquisite. A delicious crispy/chewy crust -- lightly blistered on the bottom with charred spots. Perfectly balanced tomato sauce. Tender seafood. A glorious trinity of textures, flavors, and smells. It was all I dreamed and more.

Accomplishing a goal sure feels (tastes) good!

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.

Next up, Rome! In Rome I saw approximately one million amazing things, including: St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City, the Spanish Steps, and lots of sculptures. Here I am in front of the Trevi fountain:

I also saw (but did not eat) a very interesting flavor of gelato:

I guess it keeps you, uh, primed and ready.

In related news, another funny Roman food sign:

I find this hilarious. I'm not sure why. I think it is the "only from we" bit.

Onward we slog, on this pictorial tour, towards Florence. Florence is clearly a beautiful city with amazing architecture:

The camera just doesn't do justice to the intricacy of these churches.

Hello, awesome door.

Perhaps more importantly, Florence is the home of some amazing leather. Including a new leather blazer that hangs proudly (and so far unworn) in my warm southern California home.

Perhaps most importantly, it is the home of the best plate of pasta that I've ever eaten. Hands down.

I personally have problems making properly al dente pasta. It is always either too raw or a little too soft. Even at restaurants I find that it tends to fall just short or just over al dente. Well, some crazy Florence voodoo magic was at play here (or the chef was just really good) because this pasta was what pasta is meant to be. It defined the word toothsome. The noodles were chewy, but not elastic, tender, but not soft, flavored, but not strongly. In a word, perfect. Oh, and the sauce was pretty much divine. I inhaled this plate of pasta, pausing only long enough to reflect, "sweet lord, this is the best carbohydrate known to man (or woman)."

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),

Athens, Greece,

and a few villages in Marseilles, France.

Thanks for taking the time to read my account of food and fun from this vacation. I leave you with the image of me doing what I did best on the ship: drinking wine.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Sweet mother of all things good and holy. This week? Gah.

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

I'm Back!

Hello, hello, my dedicated handful of readers. :)

The Mediterranean did me well. Princess Cruises and Air France? Not so much.

To make a very, very long story short, we had a wonderful vacation around the Mediterranean (Italy, Greece, Turkey, Spain, and France), save for the overwhelming incompetence of both Princess Cruise and Air France. Princess Cruise line lost our luggage at the beginning and at the end of the trip, served us staggeringly mediocre food, and provided us with tour guides that lacked any semblance of a personality. Granted, we did have a few good meals, the staff on-board were very nice, and we did run across at least one entertaining guide. On the whole, however, Princess was disappointing. The actual ports, though? They were wonderful.

I'd love to show you some of my pictures, but as the result the aforementioned incompetence of Princess Cruise line and Air France, I am still missing two of my pieces of luggage. In those bags, other than my clothes, shoes, jewelry, gifts, souvenirs, toothbrush, etc., is my camera charger. Without that charger, I can't upload any pictures. Therefore, until either Princess or Air France manages to get their act together, you will have to wait with bated breath for shots of food and fun from around the Mediterranean and the stories of the same.

However, in the meantime, I thought I'd share some pictures of The Best Soup Ever. A few weeks before I left for vacation, I invited some friends over and made the Best Soup Ever for the first time this year. It was just as delicious as we remembered -- tangy, smokey, herby, salty, and fresh. If you haven't read the recipe, please do. You can find it here. Enjoy!

The garnishes, clockwise from the top: diced heirloom tomatoes, limes, hot sauce, shredded smoked trout, shopped cilantro, minced basil.

Words don't do justice to the deliciousness. No, really.

Seriously, make this soup.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Cantaloupe and Black Pepper Sorbet and Ciao (for a bit)!

I hate to be that blogger that constantly apologizes for falling behind on posting. But....I'm sorry.

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
--pinch salt
--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


Have I mentioned how much I love the combination of mint, cilantro, and basil? Put those three herbs together and mix them up with almost any savory dish and I'll come sit at your table.

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)

To Serve:

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).

Just before the first bite. Yum!

In other (culinary) news, check out some of the first tomatoes from my tomato plants!

And, look at the delicious cupcakes I made for a 4th of July party -- they are the cupcake version of this cake. They were phenomenal, if I do say so myself, and were devoured in minutes after I brought them out. :)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Sucky Day Salad

Sometimes, you just have a sucky day. Or maybe you don't. Maybe it's just sometimes *I* have a sucky day. I doubt it though -- like death, taxes, and Paris Hilton, bad days are here to stay.

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

Chimichurri 2.0

Earlier this month, I was out to dinner with some friends from work. We were tired, hungry, and, for some unknown reason, talking about baseball. One of my cohorts, as they perused the menu, asked the table what chimichurri sauce was...happy that the conversation had moved from the Red Sox (of which I know nothing) and on to food (of which I know many things), I piped up with an explanation of the Argentinean sauce and its uses. In case you, lovely reader, are unsure, chimichurri sauce is usually made from chopped parsley, oregano, garlic, salt, pepper, onion, and paprika. The herb mix is moistened with olive oil and a bit of vinegar, and the loose sauce is most often used to top steaks or as a dipping sauce for bread.

I had this delicious mixture on my mind as I set about making dinner a few nights ago. I had some beautiful fresh, yellow wax beans, some adorable tiny potatoes, and a hunk of never frozen halibut. The yellow beans were on the receiving end of a hot bath in boiling salt water, and the potatoes were tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and paprika and left to roast in the oven, while the halibut was sprayed with lemon juice and then dusted in salt and pepper before going on the grill. This meal was easy, healthy,.... and honestly, a bit boring. I needed something to liven up the lean fish, and provide a contrast to the simple beans and potatoes.
I came up with this sauce, a first cousin of chimichurri, as a solution. It is so simple, I'm almost embarrassed to share the recipe with you, but its bright herby flavor was the perfect addition to our plates. I imagine that it would be delicious with anything grilled, from fish to chicken, and would also be wonderful as a baked potato topping or as a sauce to pour over sweet corn. Experiment -- and let me know of any other uses you find for it.
Herb Sauce (Chimichurri style)
--1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonaded (I use thai purple basil)
--1/4 cup fresh cilantro, stems removed
--1/4 cup fresh mint, chiffonaded
--1 clove garlic, mashed into a paste with a pinch of salt
--salt and freshly ground pepper
--2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (or lemon juice)
--1 tablespoons olive oil (or more to taste)
1) grind all ingredients together with mortar and pestle until a loose paste is formed. Conversely, pulse all ingredients together in a mixer until a loose paste is formed. Add more oil or vinegar to correct consistency, if needed. The smell in your kitchen at this point will be fantastic, I promise. :)
To serve:
Spread thickly over the piece of grilled meat, vegetable, or bread. Eat. Sigh. Eat more.
Notes: These pictures are kind of awful. I apologize. The yellow beans look oddly like french fries and all of the colors seem muted. I assure you, this dinner tasted 100 times better than the pictures indicate. As my friend J informed me, perhaps I need to work on presentation...

The avocado dilemma

One avocado. Three people. Do you see the dilemma I was in? I felt like King Solomon -- should I cut the avocado into pieces or leave it whole? Would the avocado (and us) be better served by being sliced into tiny bits or by giving it to one person to enjoy? Did I mention that it was a small avocado to begin with?

Unlike King Solomon, I chose to cut up the baby. Erm, I mean avocado. Cut up the avocado, and then pulverize it. Because it seemed fairer...not that King Solomon had that choice -- pureed baby wouldn't have solved any problems.

Good God, what am I talking about? Forget it, I can't stretch this analogy any further, I've become (more) offensive (than usual).

Bottom line is, I chose to make avocado vinaigrette with our one sad, little avocado instead of slicing it up and giving us each a miserly portion.

Phew, are you still reading? Did I manage to not scare you away with all my talk of babies and pulverizing? Awesome. On to the recipe.

Avocado Vinaigrette


--1 avocado, flesh scooped out

--2 tablespoons grapefruit vinegar (I buy mine at Trader Joes)

--1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

--1 tablespoon hot sauce (I use the green Tabasco)

--salt and pepper to taste


1) mash all ingredients together in a bowl. Add more vinegar or water until the mixture has a loose dressing type of consistency. (Do recipes get any easier than this?)

To serve:

Use as salad dressing or as sauce to pour over fish. I made a simple heirloom tomato salad -- just roughly chopped tomatoes, diced green onions, and a sprinkle of purple basil -- and served the avocado vinaigrette on the side. It was delicious -- and though it only contained one avocado, we each managed to satisfy our jones for the rich veggie.

Another pic of the tomato salad.

The rest of the meal -- seared tuna over mixed greens and couscous/red quinoa/baby garbanzo bean mix (from, where else? Trader Joes)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Nature's Viagra (no, really)

Once upon a time, D and M were traveling through Turkey (the country, not a particularly large fowl) and they ran across a fruit stand in the middle of nowhere. The side of the stand had a banner the size of a bus, saying "Nature's Viagra." D and M, being the curious folks that they are, set out to investigate. "Nature's Viagra" turned out to be Turkish Figs...large, luscious, and almost too sweet for word, figs. They bought a bunch, ate them all, and.....(I don't know what happened from here. I refused to listen to the story any further.)

Anyway, they were inspired to tell me this story after I made the salad described below. And, after smelling the sweet aroma of the ripe figs, breaking open their delicate flesh, and sinking my teeth into a their intoxicating flavor, I must agree. Figs are sexy. Dead sexy.

Make this salad for someone you love. Or someone you want to love you. Or just for yourself, to feel special. This salad would tempt a monk...
Fig Salad, with Walnut Oil and Aged Balsamic


--1 to 2 figs per person

--2 cups salad greens per person (I used a mix of baby arugula and spring greens)

--1 tablespoon marcona almonds per person

--walnut oil (hazelnut oil would also be nice)

--pomegranate vinegar

--balsamic vinegar (the most expensive bottle you can afford. The tiny bottle I used was worth $150, and worth every penny. Aged balsamic tastes like normal balsamic multiplied by a million. sweet, complex, and wonderful.)

--salt and pepper


1) quarter the figs

2) pile the salad greens onto a plate, place figs slices in a circle on the greens
3) sprinkle with marcona almonds

4) drizzle pomegranate vinegar and walnut oil over the plate

5) place one drop of balsamic on each fig slice
6) grind salt and pepper over entire plate and serve


This salad is a wonderful example of the the benefit of using high quality ingredients. Though the preparation is simple and there aren't many ingredients, this salad will seriously rock your world if you have perfectly ripe figs, fresh greens, a tasty nut oil, and some sweet fruity vinegars. And, like I said before, a very high quality balsamic will change your life (and palate) forever.
Three more pictures of the fig salad...

The rest of the meal, that night -- broccoli, roasted potatoes, shallots, and garlic, grilled pork chops. Delish!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Edge of Reason

Sunday 17 June

9st, alcohol units 2 ( good), cigarettes 0 (v. good), instants 10 (v. bad, but flustered because saw Mark Darcy at market, and looked a mess), calories 1675 (excellent, considering), thigh circumference (18 inches, must go to gym), positive thoughts 2.

9:00, living room. Feeling v. full and v. pleased. I just ate yummy dinner (that I invented!), and now am watching brilliant new American t.v. show with dancing men in v. short shorts. Saw Mark Darcy earlier in market -- was total mess. Had just tried new curling iron on hair, and failed miserably with new style. Hair was sticking up, part curly and part straight. Attempted to pile on head in attractive messy manner, but ended up looking like an refugee from important BBC program. Was wearing tight yoga pants, but worried not as cute as Shaz in yoga pants. Possibly because Shaz does yoga and I don't. Face had spots, but had covered them (at least) before going to market. Anyway, saw Mark Darcy looking at me strangely from across the bin of rocket, and managed to squeak out, "Cheers, Mark" before he was able to ask what was wrong with my hair.

Chatted a bit about work, and then he asked if I was going round my mother's house anytime soon. Apparently, he actually *liked* my mother's turkey curry from the Turkey Curry Buffet this New Years and wanted the recipe. I told him my mother never shares her recipes, but that I had a better version for him to try. Of course, I can't cook a bit, but I bloody well had to come up with a reason to give him my number.

After running around the market like a mad woman, I came home with some powdered curry, some chutney, and some ground turkey, and managed to come up with a absolutely divine recipe. Just tasted one of the burgers, okay, two of the burgers, and feel positively giddy. Am splendid cook, like Jamie Oliver, but female.
Will call Mark Darcy straight away, show him my culinary brilliance, and cause him to fall madly in love with me.


Alright, sorry about that folks. Once I determined that the dinner I was making involved turkey and curry, I couldn't stop giggling about the Bridget Jones connections. I indulged myself in a bit of imitation prose - I couldn't resist. For those of you who missed the Bridget Jones craze a few years ago (likely my male readers, though I hate to generalize), before Bridget Jones was played by Renee Zellweger, she was a character in a book. And, each new section of the book started remarkably as written above. The style always amused me, and I hope you enjoyed my toying with it. :)

Now, on to the actual recipe. I was working on a idea for a slightly different turkey burger, and was having a hard time coming up with anything other than an Asian inspired version. The curry idea came out of the blue, and once it lodged in my mind, I couldn't shake it.

I mixed the ground turkey with some garlic curry paste, mango ginger chutney, curry powder, and green onions. Shaped the mix into burgers, and grilled them until just done, then topped them with grilled eggplant slices and mango mint salsa. Man, oh, man, these were good -- or as Bridget would say, "Brilliant." The burgers were a bit spicy, but the mango mint salsa tempered the heat and the eggplants slices added a bit of smokey chew. The combination was wonderful -- next time you BBQ, I encourage you to give these a try.

Turkey Curry Burgers -- serves 4

The layers, in order, from the top -- whole wheat bun, mango mint salsa, grilled eggplant, turkey curry burger, more mango mint salsa, whole wheat bun.


--1 lb very lean ground turkey
--2 tablespoons mango ginger chutney
--1 tablespoon hot garlic curry paste
--2 tablespoons curry powder (or less, to taste)
--4 green onions, finely chopped (green and white part)


1) Mix all of the ingredients with your hands until fully combined. Don't over mix, or you'll have tough, chewy burgers
2) Shape mixture into 4 equal patties

3) Grill, on hot grill, for about 10 minutes (5 minutes per side) or until done. Don't overcook!

To Serve:

Top each burger with a dollop of mango salsa and a few slices of grilled eggplant (Slice an eggplant into 1/4 inch slices, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and grill as you grill the burgers -- 5 minutes per side or until done). Serve on a bun.
The burger, just before being put together. The bun, burger, and eggplant on the left and the mango salsa-ed bun on the right. Tomato/ cucumber salad in the background.

Sizzling on the grill....mmmmm

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Lies, and the lying liars who tell them -- oh, and some food :)

Sorry for lying to y'all in my last post...I didn't update that night as I promised. Bad blogger, bad.

What can I say? Life got seven kinds of busy. However, on the plus side, I'm here now...right? And I have all sorts of things to post for you -- pictures, a recipe, stories, and more. So settle in for a good long post, full of all sorts of Kristel-approved fun.

First off, some seriously good banana bread. As you may remember, I have a thing about spotted bananas -- they totally gross me out. The cloying smell, the sick-sweet taste, the mushy texture...I wouldn't eat an overripe banana if you paid me. However, I'm also a farmer's daughter and I abhor throwing food away. So, when the repulsed get ripe bananas, the repulsed make banana bread.
Now for the sad news -- I have no idea what recipe I used to make this bread. I remember it called for four smushed bananas, I remember I used part applesauce and part oil, and I remember I added cinnamon and nutmeg. The precise recipe, however, I have no idea. I'm sad I can't share a recipe with you -- this banana bread was wonderful. The crumb was dense and tender, and the walnuts crunchy, and the banana flavor just powerful enough.

Next, an simple and fast dinner. I usually get home pretty late from work, and I always try to get something on the table as soon as possible. I don't like to eat late, so the faster I get dinner ready, the better. This meal was made on a whim, but it turned out to be so tasty, that I felt obligated to take a picture. Curly pasta, dressed in a light tomato sauce, with mini sun-dried tomato chicken sausages, mushrooms, and olives. A simple side salad, with a dollop of homemade guacamole for dressing.

Next up, unique, spicy, complex and completely delicious shrimp.
It started with a pound of shrimp and no ideas. D had requested black beans and rice as a side dish, and I had already made a mango peach salsa. I also knew I had some broccoli rabe to saute as another side, but what to do with the shrimp kept eluding me.
Finally, I poked my head into the refrigerator in despair and my eyes landed upon a bottle of ginger beer. I poured the ginger beer into bowl, added a chopped garlic clove, some hot sauce, some fresh ginger, and the shrimp. I marinated the shrimp in the ginger beer mixture for about an hour, and then sauteed them in a bit of canola oil until just done. Then, I boiled down the marinade until it reached a sticky consistency. I plated the shrimp on a pool of the sauce, and surrounded it with a mound of mango salsa, a scoop of beans and rice, and a stack of broccoli rabe. Lucky for me, the gamble played off -- the entire meal was wonderful, but the shrimp were absolutely phenomenal. The sauce was exquisite -- the sweet and spicy ginger added an exotic bite, the garlic an earthy undertone, and the hot sauce a contrasting spice. yum!
The shrimp and their sauce.
The rest of the plate -- the beans and rice, the mango salsa, and the broccoli rabe.
Next, the roasted lamb. I butterflied a boneless leg of lamb, rubbed the inside with salt and pepper, and laid whole rosemary stems and garlic cloves across the meat. I rolled it up and secured the leg with metal picks, and baked it until it was medium rare. The lamb was served with mint pesto (mint, olive oil, salt, garlic), thinly sliced summer squash sauteed with lemon basil, and roasted potatoes. Everything was delicious, perfectly seasoned, and well matched. We *loved* this meal.
And, last but not least, a recipe.
I had picked up some green tomatoes at the Farmer's Market, with the idea of frying them. You see, I have southern roots (my mother is from Alabama), I love the move Fried Green Tomatoes, and I have a great cast iron frying pan. Surely I was destined to know how to make fried green tomatoes (even though I'd never tasted, made, or seen them before).
I came up with the following recipe. I'm not sure how authentic it is, but it tasted pretty wonderful to us. Enjoy!
Fried Green Tomatoes
--4 large green tomatoes (or one for each person dining)
--1 cup flour
--salt and pepper, to taste
--4 large eggs
--1 tablespoon hot sauce of your choice
--1 cup cornmeal
--canola oil for frying
--hot sauce for serving
1) Slice the tomatoes into 1/2 inch think slices
2) pour the flour, salt, and pepper into one shallow bowl, the eggs (scrambled with a bit of water and the hot sauce) into another shallow bowl, and the cornmeal into another shallow bowl
3) heat an inch of oil in a large cast iron pan
4) dredge the tomato slices in flour, then dip them into the egg mixture, and then into the cornmeal (add more flour, eggs, or cornmeal to the bowls if you begin to run out)
5) as you take each slice out of the cornmeal, slide it carefully into the oil. Add each new slice as it is ready, being careful not to crowd the pan too much. If you add them too fast, the oil will drop too much in temperature and the tomatoes will get soggy instead of forming a crust
6) Check each slice periodically to see if the side in the oil has browned. If it has, turn it over and allow the other side to brown.
7) as each slice finishes frying, take it out of the oil with a slotted spatula and place on a plate covered in paper towels
To serve:
Pile onto a plate, and offer hot sauce on the side.
M likes them cold the next day, in a pita pocket with hummus.