Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Edible Enigmas for Beginners #FoodieReads


As we continue on with our May Foodie Reads Challenge, I picked up How to Eat a Lobster: And Other Edible Enigmas Explained by Ashley Blom.* I followed her when she blogged at Quarter Life (Crisis) Cuisine, then she started the blog Forking Up last year. We travel in some of the same food blogging circles, so when I saw that she had a book coming out, I ordered it. I figured: How can I resist a book written by a gal who posts Bacon Pancakes, Danger Scones, or a Tequila Old Fashioned on her blog?!?

I enjoyed the book. It's cute. It's clearly written. It has beautiful illustrations by Lucy Engleman.

But I will admit that it's definitely not intended for the experienced eater.  Most of the "Tricky Techniques" we tackled before the boys were ten years old. Topics include...

How to Eat Crawfish. Check.


How to Eat Raw Oysters. I know I didn't feed him raw oysters back then...but he has since we joined our CSF, Real Good Fish. Check.


How to Slice an Avocado. Check.


The titular section - How to Eat a Lobster. Check.


How to Eat Durian. Check. I even made my students try it...though I was banished from the building and had to slice into it outside!


And in "Etiquette Enigmas"... How to Drink Tea. Check.


How to Eat Noodles. Check. And we even made these noodles!


So, I liked reading it. I loved supporting Ashley, but it's not a book I'll pull off my shelf very often.

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.




Here's what everyone else read in May 2017: here.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Shish Tawook (Lebanese Chicken Skewers) #BBQWeek

#BBQWeek continues. Here we are at Day Two of our posting dates which are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of this week.


Join us in firing up the grill, cooking, serving up some burgers or steaks or chicken and some delicious sides and desserts! Be sure to follow #BBQWeek so you don’t miss one delicious recipe.

What the Other #BBQWeek Bloggers are Sharing...

My International Focus...
When I joined the group, I wanted to showcase some international grilling recipes. On Monday I shared my recipe for Korean Bulgogi alongside some Asparagus with Gochujang Sauce. Today, I'm sharing a kabob recipe from Lebanon. Back in January 2016, I uncorked a bottle of Lebanese wine - Château Musar Jeune. Too bad I didn't have a bottle to open with this dinner.


The chicken itself is wonderful, but it's the Lebanese Garlic Sauce that sends it into the culinary magic realm! Yum. Okay, my husband probably disagrees with that, referring to it as 'Instant Death to All Vampires' sauce. I call it toum.

Ingredients

Shish Tawook
  • 2 lbs skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into cubes
  • 1 C freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 6 T plain yogurt (I used Greek-style yogurt)
  • 6 T olive oil
  • 2 T vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 t freshly ground pepper
  • 1" knob fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 t paprika
  • 1/2 t turmeric
  • 2 t freshly ground salt
  • 2 onions, peeled and cubed
  • Also needed: wooden skewers, grill pan or grill

Toum
  • 5 to 6 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 4 C vegetable oil (I used canola, I've heard that olive oil doesn't work well)
  • juice from 1 organic lemon, freshly juiced
  • 1 t freshly ground salt, to taste
  • Also needed: a food processor (traditionally it's made with a mortar and pestle)

Procedure
Toum
Place the garlic and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the garlic is a paste. Now turn on the processor on low; it will run continuously until you are finished. Through the chute, slowly pour in the oil in a slow, steady stream. After 1/2 C, you should see the sauce begin to emulsify. Drizzle in 1/2 of your lemon juice. Keep going until you have used all but 1/2 C of oil. Add in the rest of your lemon juice. Finish off the oil. If the sauce is runny, you may have added the liquid too quickly. In that case, it'll be thinner, but just as tasty!

Shish Tawook
Mix all ingredients for the marinade together. Massage the sauce into the chicken cubes. Cover and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. I left mine for about 8 hours.

During the last 20 or 30 minutes of marinating, soak the wooden skewers in warm water. Skewer the chicken and onions while you heat the grill or grill pan.


Cook the skewers, turning them every 3 to 4 minutes. They should be cooked through in 15 to 18 minutes.

Here's a trick I've read about to keep your chicken moist. It works every time.


As soon as you take the chicken off the grill, place the skewers in a pot with a lid and cover it for at least 5 minutes.  The moisture and steam get locked in and the chicken doesn't dry out. 


I served the skewers with preserved lemon, toum, and saffron rice...


and a generous drizzle of toum.


Check back as we wrap up #BBQWeek on Friday. I'll be sharing a meatless grilled recipe. It's one of my favorites!

Peach-Tomato Salad with an Herb Vinaigrette


Whenever we see peaches at the market, we grab them. The stone fruit season isn't very long here, but when the peaches, plums, and apricots are ripe, they are fantastic. I like to pair them with juicy tomatoes, baby greens, and an herb dressing that just screams 'summer.' I know it's not really summer yet...soon.


Ingredients
  • 2 C organic tomatoes (I used baby heirlooms this time)
  • 3 to 4 ripe organic peaches, sliced into wedges
  • 2 C baby greens
  • 1/4 C fresh herbs (I used a mixture of basil, parsley, oregano, and mint)
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 1/4 C vinegar (I used a champagne vinegar)
  • 1 T local honey
  • 1 t Dijon mustard
  • 1 small shallot, peeled and diced
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Procedure
Combine the herbs, olive oil, vinegar, honey, Dijon, and shallots in a blender or food processor until the dressing emulsifies and the herbs are pureed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place the green in the bottom of your serving bowl and top with tomatoes and peaches. When ready, serve at room temperature. Toss with dressing at the table. Serve immediately.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb! Martini


I initially wanted planned to save this for National Martini Day in June. But, well, Jake was up for a cocktail, it's Monday, and all the ingredients were staring at me!


The boys and I have been groovin' to the soundtrack of Guardians of the Galaxy so this is my Ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb! Martini. Happy Monday. Cheers!


I love this cocktail, and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do.

Ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb! Martini

Ingredients makes 1 cocktail

  • 2 oz gin (yes, I'm a gin girl!)
  • 3/4 oz Lillet
  • 3/4 oz Luxardo liqueur
  • 6 dashes bitters (I used the Big Sur Citrus from Golden Bear Bitters)
  • Also needed: ice, cocktail shaker, grittones for garnish


Procedure
Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake for 30 seconds, then strain into a martini glass.  Garnish with grittones spear.

Razor Clams a la Vizzini #FoodNFlix


I am so excited about this month's Food'N'Flix event hosted by my friend Deb over at Kahakai Kitchen. You can read her invitation: here. She asked us to watch The Princess Bride.* It is one of my favorite movies. Ever.

I was, admittedly, a little horrified that it came out 30 years ago. Really?!!? But...I did watch it for the first time when I was in high school and I graduated over 25 years ago, so the numbers make sense. Still...

On the Screen...
Based on the 1973 book by William Golden, the movie version includes an impressive list of actors - Peter Falk, Fred Savage, Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Chris Sarandon, Mandy Pantinkin, Andre the Giant, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Carol Kane, and others - who bring mirth and memorable quotes to the screen. Oh, and there's fencing, fighting, kissing, torture, death, true love, giants, pirates, and rodents of unusual size! If you've seen it, what's your favorite quote? If you haven't seen it, you're missing out!

On the Plate...
While this isn't a foodie movie per se, I found tons of inspiration! Given that I'm picking up my half-lamb share from a farmer friend this week, I considered a nice MLT! It, according to Miracle Max, rivals true love.

"Sonny, true love is the greatest thing, in the world-except for a nice MLT – mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe. They’re so perky, I love that."

I thought about mixing up my own version of the Painkiller cocktail after this exchange between Westley and Humperdinck...

Westley: To the pain means the first thing you will lose will be your feet below the ankles. Then your hands at the wrists. Next your nose.
Prince Humperdinck: And then my tongue I suppose, I killed you too quickly the last time. A mistake I don’t mean to duplicate tonight.
Westley: I wasn’t finished. The next thing you will lose will be your left eye followed by your right.
Prince Humperdinck: And then my ears, I understand let’s get on with it.
Westley: Wrong! Your ears you keep and I’ll tell you why. So that every shriek of every child at seeing your hideousness will be yours to cherish. Every babe that weeps at your approach, every woman who cries out, “Dear God! What is that thing,” will echo in your perfect ears. That is what to the pain means. It means I leave you in anguish, wallowing in freakish misery forever.

I even drove out to an Asian market in hopes of finding some (shrieking!) eel. But they only had pre-cooked eel - in a can - and the sauce was not gluten-free. Boo.

So, I settled on fresh razor clams in honor of the repartee between Vizzini and Westley. Razor clams for razor sharp wit. Get it? 


Vizzini: Have you heard of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates?
Westly: Yes.
Vizzini: Morons.

Westley has poisoned a goblet of wine and asks Vizzini to divine which is which. "The battle of wits has begun. It ends when you decide and we both drink. We find out who is right and who is dead."

After awhile, Vizzini distracts Wesley, switches the goblet and they both drink. Chuckling, he claims, "You fell victim to one of the classic blunders—the most famous of which is, “Never get involved in a land war in Asia”—but only slightly less well-known is this: “Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line”! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha…." Then [spoiler alert!] he drops dead.

Razor Clams a la Vizzini 

Inspired by Sicilian penne all'arrabbiata, I decided to prepare a razor clam appetizer with that flavor profile - tomatoes, chiles, garlic, and cheese. Yum.

Ingredients

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 1 t red pepper chile flakes
  • 1 1⁄2 lb. razor clams, rinsed thoroughly
  • 1⁄4 C white wine
  • 2 C potatoes, cubed and boiled
  • freshly ground salt to taste
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 C organic cherry tomatoes
  • pecorino cheese for grating

Procedure
But first you have to clean the razor clams...


Step One: Place razor clams in a large bowl and pour hot water over them. Let them soak till the shells open. Pull the meat from the shells.


Step Two: Trim off the dark end of the siphon tube and cut open the clam from one end to the other. Lay the clam flat and snip around the gills, mouth, and digger. It should look like this.


Step Three: Snip around the dark stomach and remove any other veins and grit you might find. Once you've cleaned the clam, chop it into bite-sized pieces. Now you're ready to cook it!


Heat oil, garlic, and chiles in a skillet over medium heat. Cook, swirling pan occasionally, until garlic is pale golden brown, approximately 6 minutes.


Increase heat to high, add razor clams and wine, and cook, covered, until clams are just cooked through, approximately 3 minutes.


Add in the potatoes and tomatoes. Cook for a minute or two. Season to taste with salt and pepper; toss razor clams to coat with sauce. Fold in tomatoes. Transfer clams to a serving bowl and let each diner grate cheese over the top.

You still have a week or so if you want to join The Princess Bride fun. Or, next month, Evelyne from CulturEatz will be hosting Volver. Stay tuned for more information about that.

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Bulgogi (Korean BBQ Beef) + Asparagus with Gochujang Sauce #BBQWeek #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Michigan Asparagus
 in conjunction with #BBQweek. All opinions are my own.

Welcome to #BBQWeek. But, first, I need to offer many, many thanks to Ellen of  Family Around the Table for organizing this week. These events are fun, but they are also a ton of work for the folks on the back end. Kudos, Ellen.

Let’s fire up the grill, serve up some burgers or steaks or chicken and some delicious sides and desserts! Follow #BBQWeek on social media so you don’t miss one delicious recipe. There are more than 20 recipes planned this week from some amazing bloggers. So, please check back on Wednesday and Friday as well.

Today, our event kick-off, we also have a special treat as one of our sponsors - Michigan Asparagus - is giving one winner two grilling baskets and $50 gift card. Wowza! Enter at the end of this post.

Asparagus_PanPrize.png

Fresh asparagus is definitely a harbinger of Spring and Michigan is one of the largest domestic asparagus growers in the United States. Michigan Asparagus is available mid-May through June and is the only hand-snapped harvested asparagus which means more usable asparagus and less waste.

Local Michigan farmers produce approximately 25 million pounds of Michigan Asparagus during the state's 6-7 week harvest. Michigan Asparagus has excellent flavor and a long shelf life. It is a nutrient-dense, low-calorie vegetable with no fat, no cholesterol, and very little sodium.

The BBQWeek Creations with Asparagus!


My Offering...
When Ellen first pitched this week, I was excited to share some international BBQ recipes and wanted to start with a family favorite: Korean BBQ beef, called Bulgogi. When she added the proviso that our kick-off recipe needed to include asparagus, I decided to share a simple dish that showcases fresh asparagus and embraces the flavor profile from Korea.


I was first introduced to bulgogi when I was in college in Berkeley and my parents came to visit. We were looking for somewhere casual to eat and stumbled across a food court just a block away from campus. I was a vegetarian at the time, but my dad ordered bulgogi; my mom opted for the bibimbap; and I went for the jap chae. The restaurant became a family favorite and every time my parents visited, we went there. Eventually I was drawn back to being an omnivore and came to love bulgogi, too. Yum.

When I have time, I make my own. But there's a Korean restaurant in town that is my go-to with my own family when we need a delicious, filling dinner. When I walk in, the owner greets me and asks, "Bulgogi and Jap Chae?" Yes, please!

Bulgogi
Korean BBQ Beef

Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 to 2 pounds thinly sliced sirloin (here's a secret: I get the butcher to slice it for me!)
  • 1 T cooking oil for the grill (I used peanut oil)

Marinade
  • 6 T gluten-free soy sauce or tamari
  • 3 T organic dark brown sugar
  • 2 T rice wine (mirin)
  • 1 T toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 organic onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 1 organic apple, peeled and grated (I think that traditionally it's made with pears)
  • 1 t fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1/8 t ground black pepper


Procedure
Whisk together all of the ingredients for the marinade. Place the meat in a container (I used a flat, lidded glass container) and pour the sauce over the top. Hopefully the meat is completely submerged. If not, you'll need to turn the meat every couple of hours. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for, at least, 4 hours.

To cook, heat a grill - or grill pan on the stove - and swab with peanut oil so the meat doesn't stick. Cook the meat on high heat for 4 to 5 minutes per side, until meat is browned. Serve hot.


You can serve the bulgogi with some steamed rice and with other Korean side dishes. I offered it with gluten-free sesame noodles, kimchi, and asparagus with gochujang sauce.

Asparagus with Gochujang Sauce

Ingredients
  • 1 pound fresh asparagus
  • 1 T salt
  • water

Gochujang Sauce
  • 2 T gochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste)
  • 2 to 3 T rice vinegar
  • 1 T sugar
  • 2 t gluten-free soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and diced
  • 1 t sesame oil
  • 1/2 t sesame seeds


Procedure
Trim off the tough ends of the asparagus. Slice into 2" lengths. Blanch the asparagus in salted boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and shock with cold water. Drain again and set aside. 

Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Portion out the asparagus into serving bowls. Spoon the sauce over the asparagus. Serve immediately.

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Chipped Abalone with Gochujang Dipping Sauce #CrazyIngredientChallenge


I love the idea behind the Crazy Ingredient Challenge (CIC). In the CIC, we are assigned two ingredients to cook and create. Kelly of Passion Kneaded is our fearless leader. So, here goes...
May's Crazy Ingredient Challenge = potato chips and soy sauce

Several years ago, I covered a cooking class for Edible Monterey Bay that Chef Justin Cogley led at Aubergine called 'Monterey Bay Abalone.' Click to read my piece - Abalone: Local, Delectable, and Not As Daunting as I Previously Imagined


So, when I saw that our CSF (community supported fishery) share was abalone this week, I decided to do an adaptation of our Meunière-Style Monterey Bay Abalone, adding a breading of crushed potato chips and serving it with an Asian-style dipping sauce. What a hit! Everyone asked for seconds. Ummm...sorry, we only got 6 abalone. Next time I'll order an extra package.


Ingredients serves 4
  • 6 to 8 small abalone (ours were vacuum-packed, pre-shucked and pre-tenderized)
  • 1/2 C gluten-free flour
  • 3/4 C crushed potato chips
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 6 T butter
  • splash of olive oil
Gochujang Sauce
  • 2 T gochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste)
  • 2 to 3 T rice vinegar
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 2 t gluten-free soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and diced
  • 1 t sesame oil

Procedure
Gochujang Sauce
Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.

Place the flour, beaten egg, and crushed chips in bowls. Coat each abalone in flour, shaking off excess. Dip in egg. Dredge in potato chips.

Melt butter in a splash of olive oil in a large, flat-bottom pan over medium-high heat. When the butter begins to foam, place the abalone in the pan.


Gently agitate the pan, allowing the butter to turn brown and give off a nutty aroma. After 2 minutes, turn the abalone and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat. 


Serve immediately with the dipping sauce.


Beetroot and Apple Soup #SoupSwappers


In January, Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm kicked off her new group: Soup Saturday Swappers. And I am hosting our May theme which is Fruit Soups.

I shared: "I am intrigued by soups made from fruits. In Iceland, they make Bláberjasúpa (blueberry soup); in Denmark, they make Abrikossuppe (Apricot Soup) and Rabarbersuppe Med Vin (Rhubarb Wine Soup). You could make gazpacho with watermelon! Would love to see what this group creates. If fruits seem too off-the-wall for you, I would consider tomatoes and squash fruit as well!"

When I first picked this, I had seen these ice bowls made with petals suspended in the frozen water and thought: Those would look beautiful with a magenta soup in them. Well, I still think that, but I ran out of time. So my "Beetroot and Apple Soup in Flowered Bowls" just became "Beetroot and Apple Soup." I'll try those bowls eventually...just not in the last month of school.


Ingredients

  • 3 large organic red beets
  • 1 large organic apple, cored, peeled, and cubed
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 large organic white onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and pressed
  • 3 C chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 C apple juice or apple cider
  • juice from 1 lemon (I used a Meyer lemon)
  • organic heavy whipping cream for drizzling
  • herbs for garnish (I used some fennel fronds from a salad I served with the soup)


Procedure
Scrub and trim beets. Place them in a large pot covered with water. Bring to a boil and cook until they are easily pierced with a fork.


Let cool until you can easily handle them and peel them. The peels should come off easily by just rubbing them. Cube the beets and set aside.

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and garlic. Cook until the onions are softened and beginning to turn translucent. Stir in the apples and cook for a few minutes. Pour in the chicken stock. Add in the beets. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes.

Leave to cool slightly, then add the apple juice and process in batches in a blender or food processor until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. You can serve it hot or chilled. I served it at room temperature.

To serve, ladle the soup into small bowls. Add a drizzle of cream and top with a small herb sprig. Serve immediately.


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