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.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Public Service Announcement

I am 26.

It is June.

Why do you care, you ask?

Well, those two clues should hint that the fact that dozens (it seems) of my friends are trotting down the aisle toward the altar. All of my weekends have been full of travel to bridal showers/weddings/bachelorette parties/sacred blood rituals. That means no trips to the Farmer's Market, no cooking on the weekends, and no time to cook during the week (because I'm trying to catch up on work to be ready to go out of town again the next weekend), and no blogging! I haven't done laundry in a month, haven't been grocery shopping in weeks, and haven't cooked a proper meal (other than breakfast) since mid-May. Boo.

Never fear, however, friends. I plan on catching up on some posting(s) tonight. You'll have plenty of pictures and recipes to entertain your mind and whet your appetite.

Until then...