Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Well fans, I'm off to Vail, CO to ski my legs off for the next week with Boyfriend and his family.  Its been snowing like crazy out there and I'm not sure I've ever been so excited to travel over the holidays.  I love spending time with his family, and it was so generous of them to invite me on their family ski trip this year.  Especially since I'm not nearly as good of a skier.  I get an "A" for effort though, right?  Right?!?!

95% of the time, I love living in Boston, even when it looks like THIS outside:

The view from my office window on Tuesday
But I CAN'T WAIT to be doing this:

Here's wishing everyone a Merry Christmahanakwanzika and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Watermelon-Lemongrass Glazed Shrimp

Earlier this summer, during the height of my summer produce from my Stillman's Farm CSA, I had more watermelon that I could eat.  Which is saying a lot.  Because I LOVE watermelon, especially in the record-high heat we experienced this past summer.  But needless-to-say, I couldn't eat another watermelon, so I decided to try out my new canning equipment and store it away for the winter.  So, that's the long-ish story of how I ended up with Watermelon Jelly.  Sounds grossly sweet doesn't it?  I'm sure you're imagining it on a PB&J and holding back the vomit too, huh?  I had this under control though, because there wasn't just watermelon in my jelly.  I don't think you're read-y for this jell-y (ha! song-poisoned you, didn't I?)  I also added some ginger and lemongrass, thinking that someday I might use it in an asian-inspired dish.

Et Voila!  That's how my BoyfriendApprovedTM Watermelon-Lemongrass Glazed Shrimp and Veggies was born.  Boyfriend told me it was the best dinner I had made in awhile (which I would never take as an insult... or would I? Nah!).  Of course, he's a little biased because anything containing shrimp is a certified winner in his book.

First, I started heating a pan over medium heat, then added some olive oil and butter.  I added a diced small onion, some minced garlic, and grated fresh ginger, letting that cook down until the onions were soft and the ginger fragrant, about 5min.  Added my watermelon jelly and some homemade seafood stock to the onions and let it cook down for about 5-10min.  Once the "sauce" had started to thicken in the pan, I added 1/2 lb medium shrimp that I had peeled earlier and let those cook until just pink throughout. 

On the side I sauteed some quartered porcini mushrooms and sugar snap peas in some oil and butter until browned, but still with a little crunch to them.  I hate it when veggies get cooked to the "mushy" stage.  Blech!  Until I am 500 years old with dentures, I can at least have the pleasure of chewing my food.

I made some coconut jasmine rice on the side (add 1/2 can of lite coconut milk to the water you plan to cook your rice in), and sprinkled some chopped cashews and scallions over the top in the final plating.
Boyfriend was my sous chef.  Here, he adds the finishing touches with artistic flare (>ha!<)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Huevos Benedicto

"Jenn and Jill have challenged The Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg. They chose Eggs Benedict recipe from Alton Brown, Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, and Homemade Sundried Tomato and Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) courtesy of Trudy of Veggie num num."
Eggs Bene is like, my favorite brunch food.  Seriously.  I make some version of it almost every weekend that we are home in Boston.  I've already done a post about "traditional" Eggs Benedict with homemade English Muffins, so for this month's Daring Cook's challenge I decided to go back to my Arizona days and whip up something with a little more spice.  And I didn't have any english muffins.  And it was raining.  And I'm obviously terrible at planning ahead.  Thank god I keep a stash of polenta (cornmeal) in the pantry.

Starting from the bottom, homemade, polentabread, topped with jalapeno-infused refried black beans, sliced avocado, tomato, and a perfectly poached egg.  Some salsa verde instead of hollandaise and a sprinkle of cojita cheese finish the dish.  Om nom nom. 
Sorry its a little blurry.... Santa, I'd like a tripod :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Peanut Soba Noodles

I needed something different from turkey. Shocker, right?

This was one of those got-home-late-from-work-and-need-something-quick dinners.  This took maybe 15min.  Maybe. 

Everyone has (or should have) some kind noodle and peanut butter in their pantry.  Seriously, if you don't, you better be allergic to peanuts or something because there is just no excuse.  And I really don't think it matters whether its creamy or chunky.  We could have this debate all day, but I only buy chunky, Boyfriend only buys creamy... The moral is to buy whatever you like and then use it to make this dish one day when you're starving but have no real food in the house.  Do it because I told you to.  Just kidding.  Kinda.

Mix together the peanut butter (1/4 C), some soy sauce (3 tbsp), rice vinegar (3tbsp), a splash of fish sauce (optional) and honey (1 tbsp) and you've got yourself dinner.  Garnish with scallions and peanuts.  Boom.  Done.

And while we're at it, World, meet Boyfriend.
Not sure why this is so blurry, one of us clearly can't keep still....
And remember, take those measurements I gave above with a grain of salt.  Its not like I actually measured them other than by my well trained (>HA!<) eye.

Monday, December 6, 2010

I Win the "What to do with Thanksgiving Leftovers" Contest!!

Yeah, that's right.  I said it.  I win.

Here is a quick view of our Thanksgiving spread with my leftover ingredients (used in this dish) labeled:
and yes, we used our beer pong table as the buffet table... don't ask

I made the pasta using leftover Butternut Squash Gratin, some AP flour, semolina, and an egg.  I only used 1 egg since the squash was pretty "wet" and I realized I only had 3 eggs total and would need them all for other parts of the meal.  I ended up adding a splash of olive oil later though because the texture didn't seem quite right at the time.  It ended up being a good call.  A better call would've been to buy eggs at the store... but that's neither here nor there.

While the pasta dough was resting.  I finely chopped up some leftover turkey (breast and leg meat), an onion, and a couple cloves of garlic.  I put the onions and garlic in a saute pan with a little olive oil.  When that got nice and soft, I added some white wine and let that reduce a bit.  The turkey went in next along with some tomato paste, chopped parsley and tarragon.  I let all of this cook together for about 10min, adding a sprinkle of water if it seemed to dry out too much.

Earlier in the day, I made some ricotta for the filling.  I've done it so many times now and its so ridiculously easy that I'm ashamed I bought it all these years.  I mixed the ricotta with an egg, some salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg.  The ricotta mixture was added to the turkey and a ravioli filling was born.

I love making ravioli.  Which, you've noticed since my last post was also ravioli.  Not intentional, I swear.  Its also ridiculous that it works out that my last ravioli recipe also involved turkey.  OK, I'm rethinking the title to this post now... I, in fact, may have actually failed epically.  Sorry to let you guys down like this... man.  I suck.

Aaaaaaaaand, I'm over it :)

Because honestly, how awesome does this look?
Ok, maybe it doesn't look awesome yet, but just run with it.

Brush between each mound of filling with egg wash (1 part egg, 1 part cold water) and seal with the other sheet of dough.  I cut these into circles (see? they are different after all... sort of... ) and let them rest while a pot of salted water came to a boil.  Once boiling, I added them gently, 3 at a time, and they only needed about 2-3 minutes before they were done-zers.

For a sauce, I chopped up our leftover brussel sprouts and kale (see picture above) and sauteed them in brown butter to use as a "sauce". 

A sprinkle of chopped almonds and parsley finished the dish.

It was LOVELY.  Different, yet still reminiscent of Thanksgiving.  Boyfriend was reluctant about the greenery on top of his ravioli until he tasted it.  We both just about licked our plates clean it was so good.
So, while I DO apologize for count 'em, TWO turkey-ravioli-style recipes in a row, I certainly didn't want to keep this gem from you any longer.  Thanksgiving redesign at its finest.  Squash pasta enveloping a turkey filling, with a brown-butter brussel sprout sauce.

And to totally run off on a tangent, do you want to know the worst part... WE STILL HAVE TURKEY LEFTOVER!!  Jesus, we'll be eating turkey for a month.  So far I've made this ravioli, spicy turkey curry, BBQ turkey sandwiches, regular turkey sandwiches, and (upcoming) turkey agrodolce.  I am a self-proclaimed math genius yet somehow this blows my mind because I seriously cannot figure how we fed 11 people with a 16lb turkey and still have like 10lbs leftover.  FRIENDS, I BEG YOU, WHY DIDN'T YOU EAT MORE??  WHY ARE YOU PUNISHING ME WITH ALL THIS LEFTOVER TURKEY??
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