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

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Braise the roof

Tonight I'm doing a little bit of a throwback post...okay, a lot a bit of a throwback post. Like a I-cooked-this-while-in-Spain throwback post. It was on my To-Blog list and then I sort of kind of forgot about it which is uncool and unfair because this is a seriously delicious recipe.

I do have some good, far more recent, recipes in the works for this week and next (because during Passover you have to get crafty with the veggies or you get something else entirely instead) but they are still a twinkle in my eye. And everything else I have to blog is not k for P and I don't feel like torturing myself or my Jewish readers with pictures of fluffy lemon-berry scones or cheesecake cookies.

Okay, enough hedging. Let's talk some braised short ribs. Better yet, let's talk about some BEER braised short ribs. Yeah beer! And no, I don't mean Natty Light or Natty Boh. But, embarrassingly, those are the only two beers I'll drink. Maryland pride! We are all drunkards! My GPA is a mirage! Only kidding future employers, it's a solid 3.6 I'm pretty sure.

The awesome thing about braising, which means lightly frying something and then stewing it low and slow in a closed container, is that it turns even tough and sad pieces of meat into fall-off-the-bone, so-good-you'll-slap-your-momma pieces of meat.

Short ribs are no exception, and they are relatively inexpensive. This recipe takes a little bit of time so you'll want to start in the early afternoon so you're not eating at midnight like my boyfriend's roommate frequently does (Hi Lenhart!). It's perfect for days you can eat meat if you're Catholic (although Lent is almost over) or a weekend if you're just busy. It makes a ton of food by the way, and even though it's served on pasta in these pictures you can easily put it on polenta or grits. I don't think either of those are kosher for Passover but I'm sure Manischewitz makes some sort of alternative.

This is a Food and Wine recipe which I have changed very marginally so obviously you can't go wrong. This is an excellent man meal also, so if you're trying to impress a dude this is totally the way. Plus it will stick to your ribs since it's so unseasonably cold out for no reason since it's FUCKING APRIL.

Sorry. I promised myself I would stop using the f-word on my blog so that I could find a job one day but since there was snow on my windshield last night I reserve the right to drop the bomb once.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons canola oil
6 boneless short ribs (10 to 12 ounces each)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, thinly sliced
3 cups beef stock or low-sodium broth
2 cups chocolate stout or other dark beer

1. Preheat the oven to 325°. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil until shimmering. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper and add 3 of them to the casserole.
I don't know why this is in black and white, blame Google Blogger.
Cook over moderate heat, turning, until well browned all over, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining ribs.



2. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the casserole. Add the onion and carrot and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes. 
Add the beef stock and beer and bring to a boil. Return the ribs to the casserole, cover and braise in the oven for about 2 hours, until the meat is very tender.



3. Transfer the ribs to a platter and cover with foil, leaving some space. Using a big spoon or a ladle, skim off the fat from the sauce as best you can. Boil until reduced to 3 cups, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Return the short ribs to the sauce and simmer over low heat until they are warmed through. Serve the ribs with the grits, pasta or whatever you want.




Wednesday, April 9, 2014

It's all Greek to me

This coming Friday I will be waking up at the butt-crack of dawn to fly to Louisville, Kentucky -- my second favorite city right after Chicago -- to see one of my best friends play in her senior tennis game. My flight has been booked for months, the original plans have been in the works for even longer, and my excitement has been mounting like a particularly vicious sneeze. To add to all of this, I just found out that most of my best friends from high school will be joining me in the 'Ville to support our friend. I honestly thought I might puke with excitement when I found out.

Unlike a lot of people I know, I stayed best friends with my "group" from high school through college. Which was partly my group from middle school. Which had a few people from my elementary school. Do you catch my drift? I've known these girls a long ass time. I could drive to any of their houses with my eyes closed, find all the good snacks in each of their kitchens. I even have one of their garage codes and frequently go hang out with her mom, even when she's not there.

SO I'M PRETTY MUCH LOSING MY SHIT, GUYS.

All sappy feelings aside however, my friends all happen to be a very athletic bunch. As you know, I am about the furthest thing from athletic. One is a nationally-ranked tennis player so she is just not fair to begin with. The others actually seem to enjoy exercise and one even has a six-pack which is just pretty much the rudest thing I've ever seen. Damn them.

FYI, we're going to be going out all weekend in tight, cropped clothing. And I just ate pasta for dinner every night for the past week (Passover starts next Monday, don't judge me). So I figured it might be time for something a touch lighter.

Thus, turkey meatballs. But turkey meatballs are notoriously kind of boring and flavorless. So I decided to put a Grecian spin on them. And it turns out if you dump enough oregano and lemon zest and fresh herbs into something and then smother it in a yogurt sauce and crumbled feta and chopped cucumbers, it's not so terrible.

I would probably eat dirt on a stick if you put tzatziki on it to be very brutally honest.

This is really easy to put together and while the meatballs are baking you can whip up the yogurt sauce and do all the dishes and then be done with it. I know Tommy will read this and go "yeah right" because his stance on dishes is don't do them until you're using your stats textbook as a plate. I did my dishes. And then I ate decidedly more than one serving of these apparently addictive meatballs.

Whoops.

Ingredients:

For the meatballs:
1 lb. ground turkey
1 egg lightly beaten
1/4 c. panko breadcrumbs
1 1/2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. dried mint
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/3 c. minced white onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
Zest of one lemon

For the sauce:
1 c. greek yogurt
1 tbs. fresh dill, finely chopped
2 tbs. fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Crumbled feta and diced cucumber to garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 350. In a large bowl combine all of the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Add the egg, onion, garlic and ground turkey and mix until everything is just integrated. Don't over-mix if you can help it.

2. Grease a rimmed baking sheet. Using your hands, make the turkey into golf-ball sized meatballs and place a few inches apart. Bake for about 18 minutes.


3. While the meatballs are baking, combine the yogurt and spices and mix well to combine.

4. When the meatballs are done, top with the sauce, crumbled feta and cucumber. Feel free to stick it in a pita too, which is what I did and it was damn delicious.







Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Honey, do you love me?

Probably not as much as I love this honey-balsamic chicken. Although I personally advocate for more love, all the time, always.

APRIL FOOL'S.

Although the bigger joke is currently what I call my biceps. Or my GPA.

But seriously, this recipe is so good I made it twice in one week. I literally, not just white girl literally, but in real life used my finger to wipe the plate clean. There is nothing like this honey balsamic sauce. As someone who usually doesn't like sweet foods (except dessert, natch) this seems like a contradiction but somehow it just works.

It also only takes like 15 minutes of active cook time, although the chicken does need to marinate for about half an hour. But in that time you could easily do a circuit workout or call your grandma or watch the episode of 30 Rock entitled Chain Reaction of Mental Anguish which is legitimately one of the funniest episodes of any show, ever. One of my best friends and I watched it twice in a row when it came out because it was so funny and we laughed just as hard the second time. Which is to say, embarrassingly hard until one of us gagged or started crying. Friendship is the best ship!

I highly recommend making double this recipe because it refrigerates really well, although you will need to reheat it so the fats dissolve back into the sauce.

Side note: it's kind of hard to photograph the finished product because the sauce is so dark it all looks like a clump so take it easy on me.

Tommy made this at his apartment but said all five steps were too much work and didn't yield great results but he is a) a little lazy on the culinary front and b) has to use a stove repurposed from an Easy Bake Kitchen.

Do not be discouraged. This is easy as pie, and equally delicious. When you scrape up all the little charred bits from the bottom as you stir the sauce...sweet fancy Moses. It's biblically epic.

Ingredients:

2 medium chicken breasts
1/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. honey

1. In a small bowl, combine the 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar, the garlic clove, one tablespoon of the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.



2. Cut the chicken breasts into diagonal strips and submerge them in the marinade. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.






3. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large skillet and cook the chicken until it is browned on all sides, two to three minutes.







4. Remove the chicken and reduce the heat to medium low. Add the butter and the remaining two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and stir to combine.


Add the honey once the butter and vinegar are integrated.


5. Keep stirring, scraping all the burned bits off the bottom, for about five minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Toss the cooked chicken back in the saucepan and stir to coat. Serve immediately.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

What's the dill?

I don't know about the rest of the country, but it was damn beautiful in College Park these past few days. The weather has been absurdly springy--crocuses popping up, blue skies, temps above 50 degrees, the whole deal.

When the weather gets really pretty like this it makes me want to eat similarly springy foods. Ones that are bright and citrusy and won't put you into a carb coma. For me, this means seafood. One of the great things about going to school on the East Coast is that I get way better fish out here than I possibly could in Chicago. It's just a matter of logistics. Thusly, my body composition is roughly 60 percent seafood for eight months out of the year. I don't hate it.

Salmon is probably my favorite fish to eat, partially because it's so versatile and partially because it's very difficult to screw up. Tommy is also a big fan and when I visited him last weekend for Valentine's Day/C.R.A.S.H-B's (a massive indoor rowing race held annually in Boston) I decided to make salmon for him.

Since it was our first Valentine's Day together, we wanted to make it special and go to a nice restaurant. Only thing was, when we tried to find a reservation in January, everything was booked until 10 pm and your only dining option was a $100-plus pre fixe menu. So we said to hell with that, and I offered to cook us a nice dinner.

Tommy went off to afternoon practice and I went to Whole Foods to get the salmon. I got a gorgeous piece and the fishmonger very kindly removed almost all of the pin bones for me. Upon returning to the apartment, I realized Tommy had forgotten to give me his keys. I sat outside his door with a pound of salmon and a bottle of champagne in my bag for about five minutes, trying to decide what to do. My only choice was to schlep all the way over to the boathouse, a 20-minute walk from the apartment.

But I had no choice. So I went to the boathouse and as I was getting the keys who should walk out of the locker room but one of the coaches, and he looked none too happy to see me. I got out of there pretty fast.

Luckily it was cold so the salmon didn't suffer any after sitting in my Longchamp for 40 minutes while getting smashed by bottle of champagne. And dinner turned out perfectly.

This recipe is super duper easy and only requires three ingredients besides salt, pepper and olive oil. It also looks really pretty which is an added bonus. It's a perfect dinner for this mild weather, until the second polar vortex hits anyway...

Ingredients
1 lb salmon (not steaks)
2-3 lemons
1/8 c. olive oil plus 1 tbs.
5-6 tbs. dill, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Oil the bottom of a baking dish with the 1 tbs. of olive oil. Line the bottom with the lemons, thinly sliced.

2. Mix together the dill, remaining olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.


3. Place the salmon, skin-side down, on the lemons. Spread the dill-oil mixture on top, covering the flesh evenly.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the filet.