It has been a long time. I almost forgot I had the site. Always having to post about food makes it difficult. So, a little something different. I've been working on some video stuff lately. This is a quick one about a fall walk in the woods. Enjoy!
April, 17...sunny...72 degrees...6:00. After my (justified) weather rant a
few days ago, Mother Nature has redeemed herself. This, however, is central Ohio in April, and it is
going to get cold and rain tomorrow (who saw that one coming?). For this one
night, we sat on the deck, and basked in the warmth.
Stephanie made a dish perfect for a warm spring night. A riff on the classic Chinese dish Mapa Tofu. An aside: Several times when we went to her hometown in Texas we would regularly drive past a particular Chinese restaurant. She would often share stories about meals at that restaurant when she was younger. Her grandfather would always order Ma Pa Tofu. It is funny how the foods of our childhood often find their way into our modern repertoires.
Ma Pa Tofu is a saute of minced pork and tofu in a deep brown sauce (a basic recipe here). Stephanie's version is delicious, and I'm sure a considerable bit spicier. It is also much tighter and less saucy than some restaurant versions. Paired with bib lettuce leaves, a salad of julienned cucumbers and jicama and some sriracha sauce it is a real winner.
After dinner, Sophie found a small flower in the lawn and showed it to me. What a beautiful night. I love spring. To bad tomorrow it is going to rain.
It is April 14th...35 degrees...a steady drizzle of rain. My yard is a swamp, and my dogs are going stir crazy. Tomorrow it might snow! This is just not right. We deserve better.
So, we decided to defy the season and have a taste of the tropics inside. The initial inspiration was a post I was reading by the Homesick Texan about the perfect flour tortilla. It got me thinking about tacos (I know...again...I'm kind of obsessed). I was craving something fresh and spicy.
I started by making those fresh tortillas, which turned out so delicious and chewy. I filled them with grilled shrimp marinated in a Caribbean marinade that I adapted from Dunstan Harris' book Island Barbecue: Spirited Recipes from the Caribbean (adapted means I didn't have some of the ingredients). The shrimp was roughly chopped and topped with a slaw of green cabbage, mango, red pepper and cilantro. The final touch was a creamy "fish taco" style dressing that included some of the marinade. We dished it up with a side of black beans well fortified with smoky bacon.
I'm telling you what...this meal brightened this dreary day. It was one of the tastier things to come out of our kitchen in a while.
Oh...I almost forgot. You can't have a Caribbean meal without a icy Mojito. I had to make a last minute run to the store for some mint to make that possible.
This will definitely make an appearance again. Hopefully next time I don't have to grill in the rain.
Jerked Shrimp Tacos with Mango Slaw (serves 4) 8 Fresh Flour Tortillas (find the recipe here) 1 Pound of fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined 1/2 Cup Jerk marinade 2 cups Mango slaw 1/2 cup dressing
Toss shrimp in 1/4 cup of Jerk marinade and store refrigerated for at least one hour. Reserve some marinade for the dressing. Grill shrimp until done. Chop shrimp into large pieces.Distribute shrimp evenly between taco shells. Top with slaw and dressing. Serve with a slice of lime.
Jerk Marinade (adapted from Island Barbecue by Dunstan Harris) 1 tsp allspice 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1/2 cup finely chopped scallions 3 Jalapeños stems removed, cut in 1/2 retaining seeds 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar 1/4 cup Soy sauce 2 Tbls vegetable oil 1 Tbls Salt Pinch garlic powder
Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree.
Mango Slaw 1 Cup cabbage,finely shredded 1 Mango, peeled and seed removed, julienned 1/4 Cup red pepper, julienned 1 Tbls cilantro finely chopped Pinch of salt
Combine all ingredients and set aside fro at least 1/2 hour.
Dressing 1/4 Cup Mayonnaise 1/4 Cup Sour Cream 1/8 Cup Milk 1 clove garlic minced 2 Tbls Jerk Marinade 2 tsp hot sauce 1/2 tsp salt pinch of cracked black pepper
Just a quick post about a recent project I worked on. For the International Pizza Expo we gave away a custom painted pizza mixer. This beauty is a HL662 Hobart pizza mixer. It has a custom paint job reminiscent of a vintage hot rod, complete with the Hobart Logo from that era. We met a real nice guy named Terry McCall from McCall Custom Colors in Kettering, Ohio, who did the paint job. Even close up this is one sweet machine. It was the hit of the show. People wanted their pictures taken with it...I'm sure it was the most photographed item there.
The guy who won was a real nice pizza operator from St Paul, Minnesota. 30 year old Hobart mixer, and in the business 20 years. He couldn't have been happier. Enjoy the pictures.
Last post I complained about the lack of great produce and artisan products available in Dayton. I didn't talk about Dorothy Lane Market, which I will post about at another time and we are very lucky to have in the area. However, what is on my mind today is Trader Joes. If you don't have a TJ near you, or haven't heard of it, it is one of the best things to hit us in years. It is a very specific type of shopping experience based around branded prepared foods, organics, frozen proteins, wine, cheeses and bulk foods. All of this available at great deals. That description does not really do it justice. I know many a convert that shop almost exclusively at Trader Joe's.
When I came home from work today, Stephanie had a great salad for dinner. A salad that some may spend hours preparing, and others might acquire from the prepared foods counter of a boutique deli. Perfectly sweet roasted beets, tender lentils, tart dried cranberries, and soft goat cheese. The Trader Joes difference is that the beets were peeled and roasted, the lentils steamed, the goat cheese crumbled, and with the cranberries, some sunflower seeds, scallions and a splash of apple cider vinegar a salad is born. 10 minutes or less.
I'm not saying freshly roasted beets from the garden, organic lentils and Laura Chenel cheese might not be better. It might. Then again, taste is in the moment, and we didn't have any of that stuff. We had Trader Joes, and it made tonight's dinner perfect.
I have been reading too
many great food blogs lately. And…I admit it. I have coastal envy.
Reading many of the
most popular blogs, most of which are based in Seattle, San Francisco, LA, and
New York, I can’t help but feel kind of pained when someone shares how they
just returned from such-and-such market and picked up beautiful specimens of
(enter desirable vegetable here) that they are going to pair with a wonderful
loaf of bread purchased from the corner bakery and some perfectly ripe cheese
grown in a cave by silicone valley dropouts. When I go to the local grocery
store in Dayton, Ohio, I don’t find locally grown much of
anything this time of year.
I did, the other day,
find some cauliflower. Not from any farm that has a name (other than Dole). Not
organic. Just cauliflower.
Living in the Midwest the most common use for cauliflower is often the
cruelest: Crudité. At the end of any corporate function, a black plastic
catering tray will stand, picked clean, bowl scraped of dill dip, with only
cauliflower remaining. Even in this most humiliating of presentations,
cauliflower is further disgraced. Additionally, cauliflower has been done no
service by Simplot or Birds Eye frozen "California" blends. This mushy mixture
of broccoli, cauliflower and waffle-cut carrots has been forced upon far too
many grade school children, invalids, and wedding guests. The name alone is
troubling to me (I hope that my idyllic vision of Californians eating organic,
heirloom vegetables procured from an appropriately scruffy Berkeley grad can
remain intact for the time being).
However, as I have seen
testament on many a post, cauliflower can be transformed. Simply roasted with
olive oil, lemon and sea salt. Tonight we incorporated the addition of fennel
and curry to create a more-than-satisfying side dish. Hey, I could have eaten
Hmm…I wonder what people in San Francisco are eating tonight? I'm sure it is beautiful and unavailable at the local Kroger.
with Fennel and Curry
1 Head Cauliflower cut
into ¼ inch slices ½ Bulb Fennel cut
julienne 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil ½ Teaspoon Curry Powder ½ Lemon, juiced Sea or Kosher Salt to
taste Cracked Black Pepper to
Pre-heat oven to 400
degrees. Toss all ingredients together and spread out in baking dish in a
single layer to promote carmelization. Roast for approximately 15 minutes until
cooked through and well browned. Drizzle with a good olive oil before serving.
In response to a photography challenge on Still Life With..., a incredibly informative food blog from the same author as Cook & Eat, I decided to try and get a little more serious about my food photos. This is the first time I have really thought a lot about composition, lighting, and color.
The nature of the challenge was the color white. So, for dinner I found some clams at the market, boiled some linguine, and sautéed shallots, fennel and garlic with some of the homemade bacon scraps we had left over. The results were a satisfying meal, and some above-average food photos.
I'm pretty hooked on this food photography thing. I just hope that Stephanie can wait another five minutes to eat while I get just the right shot.
You can see all the entrants to the challenge here.
In the world of pasta there are many fine species, but udon may be my favorite. The texture of udon, smooth and elastic, with just the right amount of spring, coupled with its flavor-absorbing ability, sits just right with me. A little more on udon here.
Last night Stephanie had this waiting when I got home. A rich beef broth seasoned with ginger, dashi, lime and ginger, garnished with crimini and chanterelle mushrooms and thin sliced strip steak. I'm a lucky man. This is the simple kind of dish I could eat almost every day.
From the recent posts it appears as if we are on somewhat of an Asian kick. I guess these warm, spicy dishes are comforting to me when it is so cold and rainy outside.
Last night my parents joined us for dinner. I made Pad Thai from Victor Sodsook's book True Thai. It is a fairly straightforward recipe with quite good results. I took a lot of pictures and came up with a few pretty good ones.
In a continuing effort to not eat like we're still twenty, Steph made another dinner that was a real winner. Whole wheat pasta with shrimp, peas, bacon, sun-dried tomatoes and cream. We're still using up the shrimp and sun-drieds from last night, and we had some of the last of the homemade bacon that we cured and smoked (more on that another time). Apparently this meal had under 500 calories. This is not something I usually think about (it makes my head hurt), but I really need to keep under control the majority of the time so I can really dig in when necessary. THis meal felt like a sacrifice in no way.