Thursday, March 29, 2012

Smitten Kitchen's apple tart: Something special

I am not the kind of person who looks at many recipes and thinks, "let's make that exactly as it's written!"I either eyeball amounts, change the spices, change some ratios, taste and edit as I go. When I find a recipe that is an exception to this, I know I've found something special I have to share with you.
Ready for my close-up, darling

I am the only person in my immediate family who loves pumpkin pie. As such, I am always in support of inviting others to our Thanksgiving celebration, because it means I can justify baking this traditional dessert, for the sake of our guests you know. Still, there has to be another dessert, and my mother asked for an apple pie.

Want to know a secret?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Light & creamy mashed potatoes:
Classic comfort food dinner pt 3

Similar to the meatloaf I grew up with, I learned to make mashed potatoes differently than I do now. My mom taught me to "whip" the potatoes, breaking them apart and mixing them with cold milk and margarine with a hand mixer. Then, for several years I was a hand-mash devotee, heating my milk and butter together first then mashing the potatoes into a paradox of chunky smoothness.

Over those years, I've seen and read about using a Potato Ricer for mashed potatoes, and generally never tried it because 1) I liked my hand mashed potatoes so much, and 2) I didn't really feel like buying a ricer. Recently though, I realized I could push the soft cooked potatoes through a metal sieve with the same effect as a ricer, and haven't looked back since. This yields a fluffy, creamy texture that other methods don't produce. (Basically, a "ricer" extrudes the potato through small holes, similar to a garlic press if you are familiar with those, or heck, the Play-Doh Fun Factory. The potatoes come out in small pieces resembling rice).

Now, in my trials and errors, there is more to perfect mashed potatoes than ricing.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lemony green beans w/ crispy shallots:
Classic comfort food dinner pt 2

I LOVE vegetables--I realize thus far looking at this blog you'd think I only love baked goods and pasta, but I really truly love vegetables. Except for green beans. I don't hate them, but they just don't make my heart flutter the way butternut squash and spinach and onions and brussels sprouts do, or the plethora of other vegetables I'll eat every which way I can.

That is, until recently.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Loaded Meatloaf: Classic comfort food dinner pt 1

My friend Sam over at RiggedUp! asked me to share my meatloaf recipe with him, so since I was typing it up, I'm sharing it with all of you too. I've decided to make a theme out of it, and this week, I'll be posting my takes on recipes for a classic comfort food dinner.

What's the meatloaf you remember from childhood? For me, it was basically a giant baked meatball, ground beef mixed with little more than some egg and breadcrumbs, overly meaty and greasy from being baked in a loaf pan.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Best thing you aren't* eating: avocado toast

*A “Best thing you aren’t eating” post, in which I share recipes that are so easy you can barely call them recipes, for things so simply delightful that I don’t know why I didn’t eat them before or why I’m not eating them everyday, and on the off chance you haven’t eaten them, it would be very very rude for me not to share.

Snack, breakfast, part of a lunch, there's really no time that's not a great time to eat avocado toast. I was first inspired to try this after an episode of Good Eats where Alton Brown talked about the foods he ate to lose 50 pounds (if you're a fan, it wasn't hard to notice he both gained some weight and then lost it again). One recipe was toast with avocado and sardines, a healthy combination of carbs, protein and good-for-you fats.

While I've admittedly not tried Alton's version (though nothing's ever made me want to try sardines so much), and I can't say anything about it's taste, I can say that the simple combination of toasted bread with ripe avocado is one of my life's simple pleasures.

Here's your non-recipe:
-Toast a piece of bread (I like high quality wheat bread or sourdough).
-Cut and pit a ripe avocado. Scoop out 1/4-1/2 of the flesh (I usually do 1/4 but hey, live it up if you like!), and mash directly onto the bread (if the bread is more fragile, mash the flesh in the shell then spread gently).
-Sprinkle with a pinch of kosher or sea salt OR sugar (both are great compliments, just depends if you want something sweet or salty).
-Eat. Eat eat eat.

I'm so glad I live in California again.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Recipe testing for a new cookbook

Earlier this month I was selected to test recipes for a new cookbook from Steamy Kitchen blogger Jaden Hair. The cookbook is all about healthy, simple Asian recipes, which is a bit of a diversion from my usual style of cooking.

It's been an awesome opportunity to be a part of this behind the scenes process (well, that makes it sound a bit more glamourous than it is, but ok!). I've even had some dreams about it... like meeting Jaden, and shopping for mangoes. One of the challenges of food blogging for me is writing recipes that are easy to follow--so following someone else's recipes as closely as possible has been a valuable experience for me as a writer.

Understandably, I can't share the recipes with you (for that, you'll have to get the book!), but here's some food porn (food porn-y because of Jaden's delicious recipes, certainly not my photography "skills") for you (click on photos to enlarge):

Scallion dipping sauce
Edamame noodle salad
Carrots w/ sesame & ponzu

Crispy rice patties

Mom's pow-pow sauce

A combination for lunch!

Healing chicken ginger soup

Roasted squash

Carrot ginger juice (& pulp)
Roasted chestnuts
Eggs w/ pow-pow sauce

Mango brulee

Monday, March 12, 2012

Simple shrimp pasta

I've been asked by a handful of people if I would teach them to cook. It's always an adventure teaching someone something, especially if you aren't used to being a teacher.

This is the recipe I wish I had thought of during those times. There must be thousands of recipes for shrimp pasta littering the internet, but with good reason. It's simple but covers several techniques that are useful for many dishes. As a meal, this can also come together in well under 30 minutes.