Saturday, November 15, 2014

Soy Vey

There are many things I love about southern Spain. The people are incredibly friendly, the sky is as blue as Tide Liquid Detergent (which is not sponsoring this post but could if it wanted to hint hint I am sin blanco aka broke) and the produce is fantastically fresh and delicious.

One of the things I do not love about southern Spain however is the fact that 90% of restaurants seem to serve the same exact menu: meat, bread and cheese. Actually, if the bread were replaced with potatoes I might feel like I was back in the Midwest.

While I love a hearty meal of chorizo and tomate con ajo, a girl needs some variety in her culinary life. Specifically, some Asian variety. I am a Jewish girl which means Chinese food makes up 20% of my DNA, minimum. And the Chinese food offerings around here are...sad. And kind of gross. I just want some blisteringly spicy ma-po tofu with chunks of mushroom and ground pork swimming in chili sauce. Or a steaming bowl of winter melon soup, unidentified spices floating at the top. Or chunks of chicken dripping in homemade XO sauce on top of just-barely-cooked baby bok choy. Oh god. Somebody help me. Where's David Chang when you need him?

In any case, homemade fried rice just wasn't cutting it. So I decided to forge into the world of homemade Asian sauces. It's a little difficult out here because unlike in the States, basics like fish sauce and galangal (chili paste) are harder to come by and far more expensive. Luckily, homemade teriyaki sauce is crazy easy to make and only requires a few ingredients. You'll never buy the bottled stuff again.


I made a stir fry of carrots, chicken and broccoli but feel free to add other veggies too. Peas, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and bok choy would all stand up nicely to this spicy, savory sauce. You can also put it over tofu if meat isn't your thing. Mmmm, tofu. I blame two of my best friends who are half Korean for getting me wholly addicted to homemade Asian food. I could eat Korean food every day for the rest of my life and be happier than Al Gore at a Prius showroom.


Ingredients:
Makes about 4 servings

For the sauce:
4 tbs. ginger, finely minced
2/3 c. reduced sodium soy sauce
2/3 c. cold water
4 tsp. cornstarch or arrowroot powder (any thickening agent)
1/3 c. honey
1/3 c. dark brown sugar, packed

For the stir fry:
2-3 lbs. chicken breast, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 head fresh broccoli, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
4-5 carrots, sliced
1/2 tsp. crushed red peppers
2 tbs. olive oil

1. In a medium bowl, combine the soy sauce, water, and ginger. Slowly whisk in the brown sugar and the honey, scraping the sides and the bottom of the bowl to ensure it combines smoothly. Once the honey and sugar are mostly dissolved, whisk in the cornstarch. Set aside.



2. In a large, heavy-bottomed sautee pan, cook the carrots and chicken in the olive oil over medium heat until the chicken is almost cooked through and the carrots are beginning to soften. You don't want to cook the carrots completely because they will get overcooked later on. Add the garlic and broccoli and cook for 1 to 2 more minutes.



3. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the teriyaki sauce and crushed reds. Stir for about 2-3 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Serve over rice or Asian-style noodles.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Big Bright Green Pleasure Tagine

Well hey there, how's it going?

Oh good, nice, good to hear.

Me? Oh, I'm fine. Finally.

After two weeks of feeling like death on a plate covered in bordelaise sauce, I finally went to the doctor.

Who, by the way, told me he was going out for breakfast before my turn, leaving me to wait in the hallway with a host of other people all wondering where this man was and why he wasn't doing his job.

Anyway, all I can say is, thank god for antibiotics. I finally feel basically normal again! My voice is no longer so raspy that I sound like Sling Blade! I can walk up a flight of stairs without hacking up a lung! I can breathe through my nose, unlike 98% of Packers fans (and yes, that is a verifiable fact; Packers fans are mouthbreathers)!

So to celebrate, I decided to give you guys a fast, healthy recipe that goes with this semi-theme I have of Sunday comfort food that A. doesn't take all day to make and B. doesn't leave you feeling bloated and sorry for yourself.

The Moroccans have a lot of things on lock, including but not limited to: mosaic artwork, culture and especially cuisine. The tagine (or tajine) is a sort of hat-looking earthenware dish from North Africa stuffed with all manner of delicious foods and left to cook over coals.

Also, high five if you know the song that I pillaged to get this post's title. If you don't know, go educate yourself and download the entire Simon and Garfunkel discography and think about what you've done.

In any case, most people don't have an actual tagine or an open coal pit, a dutch oven or large pot will suffice.

This tagine recipe is vegan but I have also added chicken and it turns out fantastically well. I am not sure the flavors would go great with red meat but if you have camel on hand, go for it. I've heard it tastes like chicken anyway.

This recipe comes together pretty quickly once you're done chopping all the ingredients so I suggest you get a jump on that. Also feel free to adjust the spice levels; it's a very malleable dish. I serve it on couscous (the food so nice they named it twice) but Tommy prefers it on rice because he has issues with couscous for whatever reason. Or maybe he just has issues.

Ingredients:

1/2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. crushed reds
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 c. chopped white onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 2/3 c. vegetable or chicken broth, divided
3 tbs. tomato paste
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1" cubes
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 tbs. lemon juice
Zest of one lemon

1/2 c. chopped green olives
1/2 c. golden raisins
3 tbs. parsley, chopped.

1.  Heat a large pot or dutch oven and grease lightly with olive oil. Add onion and cook for about 5 minutes or until starting to brown and stick to the pan. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.

2. Stir in 1/3 cup of the broth and continue to cook 4-5 minutes or until very tender. Stir in the spices and tomato paste, cook one minute more while stirring.





3. Add remaining broth, potato, chickpeas, olives, raisins, lemon juice and zest. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add zucchini and simmer covered for another 5 minutes until zucchini is tender but not mushy.


4. Stir in parsley and serve over couscous with another squeeze of lemon if you so desire.



NOTE: If you want to add chicken, increase the broth by 1 cup and the spices by half. Cube the chicken and add about 10 minutes into simmering.




Friday, October 17, 2014

I Googled Lentil Puns

And came up with jack squat for this post. And yes, I know that Googling "lentil puns" for title inspiration is a very low point in my life, blog and non-blog wise.

Buuut...lentils are great. Super healthy, high in protein, extremely cheap and easy to cook. They're pretty much every vegan or vegetarian's wet dream, and they can be yours too! Okay, maybe that's a stretch. Because cheeseburgers and chorizo exist.


The harsh truth is, however, the less meat you eat, the better it is for the environment. Tommy and I have been working pretty hard to go meatless for most of our meals (lunch excluded) and it's been an interesting experiment.

This is a fantastic meatless -- but filling -- meal. This is a slightly belated throwback Thursday because I made it at school (which is why you see my girl Jess Stein photographing my handiwork for a class project) and would happily make it again now were it not for the fact that Tmo refuses to eat mushrooms with the stubbornness of a 3-year old. 



Just because he won't eat it doesn't mean you shouldn't though. Feel free to cheat like I did and buy precooked lentils if you can find them. If not, buy green lentils (the other colors can get a bit mushy if cooked on the stovetop) and follow the instructions below. This recipe is adapted from www.deliciouseveryday.com

Cooking lentils on the stovetop:
1 c. green lentils
2 c. water
1/4 tsp. salt

1. Rinse lentils in a large strainer, carefully picking through to remove any shriveled ones or foreign objects.

2. Combine lentils and water in a large saucepan on the stove. Bring the water to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer. You should only see a few small bubbles and some slight movement in the lentils. Cook, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes. Add water as needed to make sure the lentils are just barely covered.

3. Lentils are cooked as soon as they are tender and no longer crunchy. Older lentils may take longer to cook and shed their outer skins as they cook. Strain the lentils and remove any seasonings. Return the lentils to the pan and stir in salt. Taste and add additional salt as needed.


Ingredients:
1 1/2 c. cooked lentils
1 c. mixed mushrooms (button and portobello), sliced2. cloves garlic, minced1/4 tsp. crushed red peppers (or more to taste)1/4 tsp. sea salt1 tbs. EVOO1 tbs. lemon juice2 tbs. flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped1/2 to 3/4 c. arugula


1. Cook lentils according to directions above. Once cooked, put into a large bowl and set aside.


2. In a medium-sized saucepan, sautee the mushrooms in the olive oil until lightly golden brown.


Add the garlic and crushed reds and continue to cook until the garlic is fragrant and almost translucent.


3. Toss the lentils, mushrooms, salt and lemon juice together in the large bowl. 



Mix in parsley and arugula just before serving.











Monday, October 13, 2014

Pump(kin) YOU Up


This is a recipe for oatmeal pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Because pumpkin is great. And it goes incredibly well with toasty oats and dark chocolate chips.

Yes, pumpkin recipes for October. Groundbreaking.



The title of this post is a quiet nod to the side-splitting Hans and Franz skit in season 14 of Saturday Night Live: Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon as bodybuilders who just want to pump...you up! I highly recommend you watch it because it is one of my top-10 favorite SNL skits after everything that Tina or Amy has ever been in.

By the way, if you are one of those people who likes to detract from the joy of others by calling them basic, then stop reading and leave my blog and don't let the door hit you on the way out.

I wrote a somewhat lengthy Facebook rant on this subject that I will summarize here in case you missed it: any and all pumpkin-related foods and activities are fantastic. Fall is an A+ season. Do not feel like you can't enjoy these things and many more because some bitter group of people decided that the only way to live is out of the mainstream and those who do enjoy popular culture (in the broadest sense of the word) are somehow less-than. These people suck. Do you.

But back to baking...these are pretty much heaven and hell wrapped into one, deliciously buttery cookie. They are bad for you. But they are very good to eat. Plus, this recipe makes about three dozen cookies so you will have a lot to share with your friends. Or not.

I love Spain very much, but I really wish they would jump on the canned pumpkin bandwagon. Steaming and mashing your own pumpkin is a giant pain in the ass. On the plus side, they have totally embraced the chocolate-for-breakfast idea.

Feel free to add to this recipe: white chocolate chips, dried cranberries, toasted pecans. It's extremely versatile and since pumpkin is a pretty quiet flavor it goes with most things. I baked these when I was at home and now Tommy is sitting here grumbling because he wants me to make them again so he can eat them all and not share. Fat chance. I will call in sick to work one day and bake/hide them while he is gone so only the scent of buttery, cinnamony pumpkin remains. I'm so nice.

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2  cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Liberally spray several baking sheets (or use parchment paper or Silpats). In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and salt.















2. At medium speed, cream together the butter and sugar until lighter in color and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, beating well after each addition. Add pumpkin puree and mix until combined.















3. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in three batches. Fold in oats and chocolate chips until just combined.


4. Drop by rounded teaspoonful onto the prepared baking sheets, about 2-3 inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through.






Sunday, September 28, 2014

Veggie Tales

Sunday.

The day that reminds you just how many whiskey sours you drank last night (even though you SWORE you were going to stick to the less-caloric but infinitely more vile vodka-water-lime).

The day that reminds you just how often you mentally clocked out at 4 in the afternoon during the week...or 3:30 on Thursday and Friday.

The day that cooking magazines say you should set aside for lavish, multi-meat stews that simmer all day on the stovetop, drawing your attractive, loving and undoubtedly ethnic family from miles around to convene at your rustic wooden table for a beautiful dinner.

I'm calling bullshit.

Sorry Food and Wine, you know I love you, but ain't nobody got time for braciole when they're beating back an unprecedented hangover (or merely too preoccupied by the upcoming Bears-Packers game to work over an open flame).

Thusly, I present you a twofer: oven roasted broccoli and cinnamon-glazed baby carrots.

Both take less than 15 minutes to prep and don't require any weird ingredients. In fact, I will find it worrisome if you don't have all the ingredients for these recipes. They're healthy and extremely delicious, the broccoli especially--like what kale chips wish they could be when they grow up. And you can feel good about doing enough cooking to just make some plain pasta. Or, you know, order pizza.

Oven-roasted Broccoli

Ingredients:
1 large head of broccoli, chopped into smaller florets
About 1/4 c. EVOO
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 400F.

2. Spread the broccoli florets evenly on a large baking sheet.

3. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss to coat. Add kosher salt and pepper to taste.

4. Bake for about 15 minutes, then toss. Bake for another 5-10 minutes depending on how crunchy you like your broccoli. Serve immediately.
















Cinnamon-glazed Baby Carrots

Ingredients:
1 lb. baby carrots
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1-2 tbs. canola oil (to taste)
1 tbs. honey

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. In a large bowl, toss the carrot sticks with the canola oil and cinnamon.

3. Spread evenly in a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

4. Remove carrots from oven and drizzle with the honey.

Stir briefly to coat and return carrots to oven for another 5 minutes or until desired texture is achieved. Serve immediately.




Sunday, September 21, 2014

What are you, chicken?

Tommy and I just moved into our new apartment in Spain after several stressful weeks of searching across the pond and two days of nearly-incessant What'sApp-ing with potential roomies once we arrived in Almería.

Hard work pays off though, because the apartment rocks. Lots of light, two living rooms, a big bathroom a decent kitchen and (as all real estate agents will say) a great location.

Only thing is, I got spoiled with my kitchen in Alicante. It was the size of our living room here with massive counters, a huge fridge and a pantry to boot. Although our range in this kitchen is significantly improved (much larger and has two settings besides tiny flame and raging inferno) the oven is a real mystery to me. Mostly because it has NO DEGREE MARKINGS ON IT. It just has two gas spouts: one on the top that might function as a broiler and a main one that runs along the bottom of the oven as the main heating element.

No seriously, this is what the controls look like:

As such, I am currently in the market for an oven thermometer. But I digress.

I decided to cook a nice meal for me and Tommy and our new roommate, Ana who seems really cool. I considered my old standby of oven-fried chicken which has yet to fail me but didn't feel like going to the hassle of making the coating after a long day of moving. Thusly, I settled on a marinated chicken with a cucumber-yogurt sauce. It's one of my mom's favorite recipes and although she makes it on a grill, I figured the open flame would be pretty similar. Proviso: I don't know the time/temperature for grilling the chicken. If you would like it, comment below and I will find out from my mom.

It's a ridiculously easy recipe and comes together very quickly. The chicken was just fine in the oven although I did have to microwave it a bit to cook the thickest part for timing's sake. I recommend marinating the chicken for at least an hour to impart the most flavor possible but even 30 minutes will be fine, and in that time you can preheat the oven and make the yogurt sauce.

Leftover alert!
I used the extra chicken in a pasta salad with fresh veggies the next night and stirred in some of the extra cucumber sauce and it was damn good too.

Sorry about the crappy pictures by the way, I'm still getting used to the lighting in the kitchen/dining rooms. Whatever, it still tasted good.
60 cent Don Simon boxed wine -- the finest Spain has to offer!

Marinade:
(for about 2.5 lbs. of chicken breasts)
1 c. white wine
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. lemon juice
1 tsp. dried oregano

Cucumber sauce:
1 to 1.5 c. plain yogurt (depending on how strong you want it to be)
1/4 c. olive oil
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
1 to 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
Salt and pepper to taste

To make the marinade:
Combine all ingredients (except chicken) in large bowl, whisk to combine. 


Add the chicken breasts and cover. Marinate at least 30 minutes and up to two hours.

To make the yogurt sauce:
1. Combine all ingredients except salt and pepper, whisk well to combine. Season to taste.


To cook the chicken:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place chicken breasts on a lightly oiled baking sheet in the middle of the oven. Bake for about 20 minutes, then turn them over. Bake for another 15 or until juices run clear. Adjust time accordingly for smaller pieces of chicken.



Friday, September 19, 2014

Oh my god we're back again

Oh. Hello. I didn't see you there, under all the cobwebs.

Nice to have you back.

I keep taking these dumb hiatuses for stupid reasons like work and school and internships and other stuff I don't really care about.

I don't like them.

I think I'd like to be done with them.

I had so many grand plans for BiteMe this summer. Unfortunately, I worked 6 days a week waitressing (NEVER AGAIN) and bowing/scraping to the general population of the North Shore really sapped all the creativity and life and happiness from me.

In other news, I am a truly godawful waitress.

But...drumroll please...

SURPRISE I'M IN SPAIN.

I will be working as an auxiliar to the Spanish government helping teach little Spanish nenes English but only for a limited number of hours a week, so that means plenty of time to cook and blog and mostly drink 1 Euro Don Simon wine.

So buckle up for a fantastic year of deliciousness and once again, accept my sincere apologies for being such a flake. I'm like the girlfriend you keep taking back because...well, because she's such a good cook and you can't feed your own damn self.

You know you love me,

XOXO
Jess