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.



Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Bean there, done that

So happy to be eating my cooking again, obviously.
So my boyfriend Tommy was in College Park this weekend for the first time since our sophomore year of college. This unhappy statistic is due in part to the fact that he is a college athlete and therefore blinks/breathes when his coaches say so and also to that ridiculous snowstorm that the Northeast got last year around this time.

Naturally, I wanted to pull out all the stops when he came. So I brought him to the best place in College Park: R.J Bentley's Filling Station. This vomit-soaked bar is my Siren song and I am eternally doomed to every Friday dash myself against the rocks of their $2 rails. Tommy really dug it so obviously I picked a good one.

But when it comes to dining, CP is absurdly low on options. My grandmother, god bless her, suggested I make cornish game hen. I didn't have the heart to tell her that UMD is conveniently located in the ghetto when I got in so I think she believes it looks more like Georgetown. Anyway, the only game hens around here are few, far between and deep in hiding. So I asked Tommy what he'd like. He said jambalaya but I am not a huge fan so I nixed that in favor of my own wishes (girlfriend of the year right here folks) and decided to make chili.

I friggin LOVE chili. Oh my god. I know it's not the sexiest food and it kind of looks like barf but oh my god. OH MY GOD.

White, three bean, beef? With cheese, sour cream, chopped onions, green onions? Mild, medium, spicy, I just shit lava? Yes. All of them. Now. My mecca looks something like a chili cookoff without all the types of people that usually frequent those events. Maybe one attended by the casts of The Royal Tenenbaums and Crazy, Stupid Love. I would way rather see Ryan Gosling go to town on a pot of white chili with ham chunks than a fat dude with mustard stains on his George Strait t-shirt. Okay sorry that was mean but seriously, who would you pick?

Ryan. Duh.

Now you be laboring under the misconception that chili is very time consuming to make and involves a lot of stewing and simmering. Some kinds are like that, but many are not. The three-bean chili I like to make does not involve very much simmering. It actually has very few steps (but kind of a lot of ingredients--do your best). Of course you can leave it on the stove while you eat dinner on a very low heat to let the flavors deepen but it's not necessary.

This recipe also calls for ground turkey instead of beef because Tommy gets upset about the cow farts. It's so cute how much he loves the environment. Anyway, feel free to substitute ground beef and any other sorts of meat you may have laying around. If you have spicy Italian sausage, that's a surprisingly tasty addition. This also makes a good amount of leftovers and freezes exceptionally well so you'll have some hearty dinners on hand for the long stretch of winter we still have ahead of us.

Side note: I have started to wonder if I will ever feel my toes again. My mom sent this picture of our courtyard today:



Illinois: where we shovel snow to make room for more snow.

Three-Bean Turkey Chili

Ingredients:
1 can black beans
1 can red beans
1 can pink beans
1 can crushed tomatoes in juice
1 6-oz can tomato paste
1 lb. ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs. oregano
1 tsp. crushed reds (or to taste if that's too spicy)
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste
Shredded sharp cheddar and sour cream for serving (Pro tip: fat free greek yogurt tastes almost exactly the same and is way healthier. Tommy couldn't even tell the difference)



1. In a large stock pot, combine all of the beans, tomatoes and paste and spices over medium heat. Stir to combine.

2. While the beans are heating,
brown the turkey with the onion and garlic.












3. When the turkey is browned, add to the beans and stir again to combine. Let simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Serve with sour cream and cheddar.






Hello, gorgeous.





Sunday, December 15, 2013

Stick It

So in honor of finals week, I'm doing a post on one of the most classic comfort foods of all time: the mozzarella stick.

There really are few things that compare to the crispy, gooey glory that is a deep-fried ball of cheese covered in Italian breadcrumbs and then dunked in marinara sauce. Jesus, I have a food boner just thinking about it.

In other news, you should totally follow @hipstermermaid on Twitter
because he frequently says hilarious stuff like this.
Now it's pretty hard to mess up a mozzarella stick. Even the most miserable of restaurants can get it right.

Actually, I take that back. Sophomore year of high school I went on an ill-fated date with a kid a couple years older than me from our high school. I had just become a vegetarian, so this moron takes me to Buffalo Wild Wings. Not only did I have to suffer through the most pathetic excuse for a salad I had ever encountered (not to mention this kid's company), the mozzarella sticks we ordered as an appetizer came frozen in the middle. Worst. Date. Ever. And in all my 22 years of living, the only time I've ever seen mozzarella sticks get messed up.

But I digress.

Although your life currently revolves around frantically cramming an entire semester's worth of knowledge into your heads and chugging Red Bull like it's water, you may actually get hungry when you come down from that addy binge.

And as I learned the hard way yesterday, delivery food is absurdly slow during finals week. Case in point: my friend and I ordered sushi from a restaurant literally 3 blocks away and it took two hours to get to us. TWO HOURS. And I know you're thinking, "You lazy pieces of shit why didn't you just walk?" To answer that very valid question, I submit the excuse that it was cold and rainy.

So getting to the point: make your own mozzarella sticks tonight. It takes literally 10 minutes max, and you have instant comfort food to distract you from the misery that is final exams. The only semi-tricky part is that the cheese sticks have to be frozen all the way through or they'll just melt into mush when you pan fry them. But they're so small it hardly takes more than a couple hours.

Anyway, as the bible says, man shall not live on Easy Mac alone but on delicious homemade comfort food.

 Ingredients (as an appetizer, for 3):

5 part-skim mozzarella cheese sticks, frozen solid
1/2 c. Italian flavored breadcrumbs (or if you only have plain, add 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. Italian seasoning and a couple grinds of black pepper)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 c. vegetable oil
Marinara sauce for dipping


1. Cut the mozzarella sticks into bite size chunks







2. Dunk the mozzarella chunks first into the egg wash, then roll them in the bread crumbs, making sure the entire surface is evenly covered.



3. In a small sauteƩ pan, heat about half the oil over medium heat. You don't want the oil or the pan to be too hot or the breadcrumbs will just burn.


4. Working in batches, fry the mozzarella bites for just about 30-45 seconds on each side, or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Drain on a paper towel before serving.