Friday, January 28, 2011

kohlrabi, 555-1283

hey cuties.
new friend

have you ever seen this little green alien head at the grocery store? i had. and i'd even heard its weird name uttered before, but i never felt compelled to get to know this kohlrabi character any better.
as chance would have it, on a recent food shopping excursion, a bushel of these bad boys caught my eye, and i said to myself "take a chance, dinner-maker, you never know until you try". so that's how one of the alien heads ended up in my kitchen, and although i can't say it's love yet, i can definitely say it's like.
when you bring a new veggie home, and you don't really know anything about it, and you have no idea how to prepare it, or if it even understands english, but you're willing to make it work, well, that is all it takes, friends! a little willingness to learn and you too can have a blossoming relationship with a new veg!

first thing's first. googs. i had to run a little background check.  ok, it apparently comes from a well-known family, same one as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, and brussels sprouts. but that isn't always a quality guarantee. i dug deeper. you can eat it raw....
what are you waiting for, friends?
"oooh baby i like it..."
ya, things got serious. fast.

because the outside layer is kinda tough, (think broccoli stem, but thicker), i skinned my new buddy and chopped 'm up. the inside, crispy like apple with a starchy sweet taste. not bad. would be space-balls amaze-balls grated into a coleslaw!

or cooked...

my fate was pho. with tomato in it!? apparently.

well, kinda cooked. i used it as a crunchy topping for my faux pho.

my point? the lesson? your take-away tip?
you can't always plan...let destiny tell you what you're having for dinner sometimes.

that's right. destiny.

Friday, January 21, 2011

fish n' fries

i'm a little fatigued from ironing, so i'll make this short and salty.

although we use the word 'chip' to refer to the crunchy fried potato snack that comes in a disappointingly 1/4-full bag. there are people elsewhere in the world who call chips 'crisps' and french fries 'chips' and really mix everything up.
they might claim that they invented the language, so we're the ones that are saying it wrong. i say, thanks for 'fish and chips' and jamie oliver, and now go bugger off.

fish and freedom fries. when you make it at home it's a little smelly, like anything fried, but well worth it.
i used frozen haddock fillets that i thawed and battered, and a yukon gold potato that i sliced into fries-sized strips. there are literally 2 steps to preparing the whole dinner. fry and fry.

the batter, a mix of beer, flour, egg, and cayenne pepper powder, should not be too liquidy. the egg will help it stick to the fish and not fall off in crunchy batter pieces while you fry it. use fillets the size of a cell phone, deck of cards? whatever.

for health conscious reasons, i don't really like to deep fry. try just a thick enough layer of oil so that it coats the bottom of your pan, you'll find that a little hot canola will go a long way. 
when the batter is golden brown, the fish inside should be nice and flaky (a couple minutes on each side).

tartar sauce can be bought or made at home with mayo, relish, onion and some other ingredients.
vinegar? lemon wedge? ketchup? pepper, pepper, pepper, salt? ALL that jazz. 
do what you like, it's your dinner.

"hello? no, this is my fish phone, can you call my landline?"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

all shakshouk' up

hey all you elvises and priscillas.
wanna get all 'shouk up like a polaroid picture in a super delicious way? here is, like, the easiest thing to make. 
and it's so filling and good! (you always say that! no i don't. shut up.)

shakshouka is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. yes. exactly.
this dish hails from tunisia and was brought over to israel by tunisian jews (thanks wikipedia!) nowadays it's a pretty popular israeli dish. i just made some for lunch, but it's good as brunch and dinner too.

so, what is it? well it's kind of a nasty-looking, great-tasting jumble of stuff.
i'll explain.
start with a generous amount olive oil and chopped garlic in a small pot (or big pot if you're making it for a few people).
add chopped tomatoes and let them cook. normally chopped pepper (bell or other) should go in for a little fry before the tomatoes, but i had a couple of stuffed peppers left over and figured i'd just use those, beef n' all. 
shakshouka bolognese? mmm'yes.
i added a bit of paprika, and chopped carrot (because i was too lazy to find the grater). 
other than the meat, my shakshouka was pretty standard, but i bet grated zuchini or baby spinach, or whatever veg you like, would work well too. 
when you have a nice sauce going on you can carefully crack onto the sauce as many eggs as the amount of people you're serving, and close the lid.
what's amazing is, say you invited some people for a meal, and your guest unexpectedly brought someone else along...instead of the usual "ech, ya, you can sit at the corner of the table and eat the scraps" you'll be like, "well, come on in stranger!" and just drop another egg in the know what i'm saying? no one will be the wiser.

when the egg is cooked, to your liking, obviously, get a HUGE spoon and scoop the egg together with the sauce underneath it onto a plate and serve with bread for dipping.

one is the TASTIEST number!

the knife and fork are purely for show.
use your bread.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

'choke on this

if there is one thing that maybe makes me believe in witchcraft and evil spells, it's artichokes.
how can something so incredibly tasty have such disgustingly unappealing qualities? (only by the fate of a witch's evil spell - obvs).
i'll skip over the mountain of refuse that each little 'choke produces and move right along to the most frighteningly vile feature of the artichoke, the heart.

artichoke heart is the 'sweet spot' of the bristly thistle, right at the base/stem... where the elements of subtle flavour and yielding texture converge to form the most perfect experience you can get from a plant-based food. 
unfortunately, the 'choke heart wears a chastity belt of ickitating fur along its inside-making its consumption quite arduous. perhaps this fuzzy, frustration-inducer has some kind of important biological function, but i'm sticking with my own theories (read: sorcery).
maybe you don't think hair is that gross. but i bet even those of you who adore your cat 'bob' more than anything in the world, and he's your number one mate forever and ever, would shudder at the thought of sticking your tongue out and licking his furry back. gag.

i've yet to figure out a sure-fire way to get all the hairs out without touching them....but you can avoid ingestion of the bothersome bristle (ok, fine, no more alliteration) by running a paring knife around the hairline in a conical sort of shape and popping the hairy section out in one piece.

i love artichokes best when simply boiled for a few minutes. but you can add lemon and salt if ya want!

to eat:
run your bottom teeth along the underside of each leaf.
the soft stuff is for you, the other stuff is for the green bin.

heart of darkness.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

rock solid

hey guys and gals!
it's COOKIE SUNDAY! ya, your favourite! COOKIE SUNDAY!!!! (just go with it, k?)

if you love baking cookies, then these biscotti are for you! it's all the cookies you'd normally get in a single batch, but three times the work. FUN!
if this doesn't interest you, i've heard there's an entire aisle at the grocery store where whole boxes of cookies come pre-baked AND in a multitude of exciting flavours. low blow. fine.

biscotti take extra work because they need to be baked twice, which is what makes them rock hard and amazing to dip in coffee, or to crack a tooth on.

i rifled through my mess of a pantry and found some items i thought would go well together.
-cashews, -dried apricots, -white chocolate.
then all i had to do was build a biscotti around those 3 things. flour, sugar, eggs, baking soda, oil, apricot jam... and i added a bit of cornmeal, which i would advise against. unless you have a really finely ground cornmeal, it's like chewing on sand, and i'm not talking the pretty white sand of the mayan riviera, i mean the nasty pebbly beach sand that hurts your feet to walk on. you know the kind, where you get to the promised body of water and you're like "screw this! i can't frolic around in the sun here. this isn't even a real beach, ech".

so ya, biscotti. 
make 'em, snake 'em (you know, roll the dough into a long snake shape), then bake 'em.
that's part one.

part two: remove 'em (from the oven, and then let your uni-cookie cool down), groove 'em (what? 'slice on an angle 'em' doesn't rhyme or make sense), and improve 'em! as in, place them cut side down on the baking sheet, back in the oven, and bake at a low heat, flipping them over once.

ya ya, i give crap instructions. i hope for your sake that you know how to google and youtube things, or ask your mom, or just call me and i'll try to explain it better on the phone.

bla bla bla. here are some pictures.

this is the cookie snake after baking. now it's a cookie blob.

with a serated knife, start at one corner of the blob and cut 1" thick slices moving toward the opposite corner.
the nubs are fair game. a treat for all your efforts.

baked, cooled, and masterfully drizzled with a delicate layer of white chocolate...

Friday, January 14, 2011

so(me) like it hot

do you love food? do you love SPICY food? does the idea of burning your mouth and surrounding areas straight off your face sound like a ton of fun?
waaaait, that sounds like a crap idea.
but why do some of us (the cool kids, obviously) love, nay, desire and yearn, for spicy, burn-y, ow-y foods?
well according to my extensive (2 minute) google search, it's because eating spicy food causes the release of endorphins in the body, which feels good, and then we want more.
eating spicy food has some ridiculous bravado attached to it, like the spicier the food, the bigger huevos you've got.
well, while getting your kicks from 'hardcore' things like, working out until you can't move, epilating the hair from your armpits, tattoos, bar-fights, and being subjected to various other forms of pain, makes you look like a bad ass on paper, all it really means is that you're in love with endorphins. you want to marry them, so quit front'n.
back to spicy foods.

banana peppers are spicy. not like the small little spicy peppers, but spicy nonetheless.
i thought, 'instead of adding heat to the food i'm making like i always do, i'm going to turn this banana pepper into a heat encasement of painful bliss...blissful pain? whatever'. and then i thought, 'my hair looks good today'.

and then i went back to the kitchen and started by frying a chopped onion in some oil. i added some green thai curry paste, followed by organic ground beef (ya, it's pretty much all organic meat for me now-and hey! it's not that expensive if you cut down on your meat consumption...half a pound cost me $3 and that's all i needed).
right. then i added fresh chopped cilantro, salt, pepper, a touch of cinnamon, and cooked for a couple of minutes.

the peppers were easy to hollow out, cut the top off and run a knife gently around the inside to remove the pith (is it called the pith in a pepper? either way, that's one of my favourite words....possibly because it sounds like a lispy piss). shake all the seeds out.

stuff the meat into the peppers with a teaspoon, drop a bit in first and then gently shove it down toward the tip of the pepper with a chopstick. it worked for me. pack the meat in all the way to the top. seriously, how do you write about this stuff and not sound like a perv?
place the peps in an oven dish and cover with a sauce, or i used beef broth.
bake at 350 C for 25-30 minutes.


grease lightnin'. mmm.

Monday, January 10, 2011

gimme a bureka

the greek have spanakopita, indians have samosas, and asians have spring rolls (the asian names for 'spring roll' are probably too hard to pronounce), and as ass-backwards as the middle-east may seem, we're not ones to be outdone. 
our own variation of a savoury, crispy, filled-with-goodness treat, is the bureka! [boo-reh-ka].

normally the pastry is of the puff persuasion, though i've seen it done with a more dense dough, and also sometimes with a flakier phyllo. the filling is traditionally either potato, cheese (feta) or spinach. 
any way you pack it, these are the snack item of the gods.

you may, if you're a fan of this humble blog, know that tradition is lost on me. and so when i made burekas the other day, my filling was a combo of sweet potato and baking potato (roughly mashed), chopped spinach (which i bought frozen), fried onion and garlic, goat cheese, table cream, salt, pepper, thyme. it was awesome. but i'm pretty convinced you could wrap poop up in puff pastry and it would still taste decent. ew, what's wrong with me?

NOT pooprekas!
the packaging of these little taste pockets is probably the most difficult part. i spooned some filling into the centre of a puff pastry triangle and then folded in half and pinched the edges shut. i didn't do a very pretty job of it, but in the end the dough was on the outside and the filling was on the inside, and that's all that matters.
brushed with egg-wash and sprinkled with sesame seeds, these suckers were ready for heat.
in the oven at 375 C for 20 minutes or so...when they're browning and they smell delicious, they're ready!

Chả giò, 春捲...ya, good luck.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

B.M.E.L.T, O.M.F.G!

good morning food blog revelers, dinner girl here.
they say that whatever grows together, goes together. however, on my fantasy farm, rice pudding grows on bushes, and coffee beans come pre-roasted and ground. so how the eff would i know what grows together?

it may be safe to say that the basic components of a BLT (bacon, lettuce, tomato and wheat - for the bread, duh!) grow together. they most certainly go together.
but can M and E work their way into the mix without upsetting the delicate taste hierarchy and overthrowing B as the main attraction? 
sure, it's fun to go wild, let loose, add a mushroom omelette to your BLT! how about a slice of cheddar? or a sliver of avocado? peanut butter, anyone?
follow your gut instinct and make up your own BLT rules. it just might result in a tasty sandwich, and it's easy as pie... you can break convention, but are you willing to cut the cheese?


spotted: an open faced rye toast sandwich cavorting with
mushroom omelette, mixed greens, crispy bacon, and tomato.
i smell a scintillating sandwich scandal!

Friday, January 7, 2011

easy cheesy

if you do the math, it doesn't really make sense that i only post about 8 times a month, on account of how many dinners are in a month and all. 
but when you factor in all the dinners i buy me, (the blog is called "i make me dinner", not "the korean guy down the street, makes me dinner"); the marginally repulsive looking dinners i make me, (no one wants to see my version of 'sardine salad'); or the downright embarrassing food items that i sometimes call "dinner" to make myself feel better (crackers dipped in seafood sauce and cereal in chocolate almond milk, do not a dinner make)... then you're not left with a heck of a lot.

kids, making pretty-looking, wholesome dinners is not always in the cards. i know i advocate for the simplicity and effortlessness of cooking, but at the end of the day, i am (contrary to my mother's creepy alien stories) only human. (or maybe a quarter alien...but still).

that's why, when you find food gems like this pasta i bought at a random manhattan grocery store, you snatch it up and bring it back home with you. 
i don't know who eddie spaghetti is, and i'm a little suspicious of this being called a 'vegetable macaroni product', but daaamn, look at that beautiful, curly, multi-coloured pasta! it's even organic! or as my grandmother would say, orgasmic.

product placement.

with a pasta this good looking, you don't want to cover it up with too much stuff. so i made a cheese sauce using butter, table cream, goat cheese, quark, and a strong cheddar cheese (all the dairy items in my fridge, basically). the only seasonings i added were red pepper flakes (kick), fresh ground pepper (more kick), and sea salt.
let your eyes feast on this, friend.

other than the red pasta becoming oddly similar in colour to the orange one,
there were no disappointments.
ready for your close-up?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

egg-drop it like it's hot

i love sales! 
anything with a marked down price tag on it, is worth buying. especially if i have no use for it.
right now, (post holidays), it's mega dangerous. stores are practically giving away christmas chocolates wrapped in their tacky and outdated crimson, gold, and hunter green foil. but guess what? inside it's still the same amazing brown yummy chocolate. duh! anyway, it's a way-too-tempting bargain that i just can't say no to.
my point? i think i effed up my stomach on this round of chocolate binging and to re-set things in the bowels, i made myself the ultimate 'all good, no-fat, tummy-soothing, yum-o soup'.

starting with boiling water in a pot, i added a chopped clove of garlic and some slices of ginger root. i then added a teaspoon of miso paste, a salty fermented soy product that can be bought at health food or asian food stores. it's super healthy, ultra cheap and it pretty much never spoils. my container has been in the back of my fridge for at least 2 years, the sticker says it cost $2.99. sick!
i made sure the paste dissolved completely and then i added sliced veggies; oyster mushrooms, carrot, baby bok choy. and some of the left-over creamed corn from the cornbread muffins i made a while back. (miraculously, the creamed corn passed my very discerning food spoilage sniff-test).
the final touch: dropping a scrambled egg-white into the boiling pot and then stirring it gently while it's cooking.

bye bye blow-out.

like my giant palm frond place mat?  i got it on sale!!  6 bucks!!!