quelle est une doorknob?

the joke is. a girl is like a doorknob. at one point or another in her life, everybody gets a turn at her.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ready, set, GRILL!

Ok ... August is winding down the summer, although you folks in the south seem to have extended summers August is unofficially the last month of summer, well that's how I think of it because I used to have to go back to school in September.

I love mexican food. I love grilling and BBQ. August challenge is tex-mex-grill (that is, make something tex-mex and add in the element of grilling part or all of it)

We all know mexican food typically consist of 6 ingredients assembled in one of 14 ways, but I am sure we all can come up with a few new nuances to your standard Mexican plate.

Deadline is August 31st. Viva la revolucion!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

HI-YA!! Battle Meatloaf!

Well, isn't this coincidental. I started cooking tonight, without checking in on the site and low and behold, Kelcy beat me to the punch line. It's ok - we all have our favorites and sometimes they coincide, meatloaf is just warm comfortable food. I'm not sure why I like meatloaf so much, I think it has to do with the fact that my parents always made me Nem Nuong when I was a kid, I consider it a bit of a Vietnamese derivative of American meatloaf, except the consumption medium is slightly different with rice paper and trimmings. When I went away to college, I missed Nem Nuoung and at the time, I happen to find a new love for American meatloaf. It's since stuck. Whether it's frigidly cold up here in Boston or the warmth of the summer heat, I'll still enjoy it. I use a relatively standard recipe as follows:

  • 1 green (or red) bell pepper finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion (sweet vidalia) finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic

Take the above three ingredients and I like to run it through a mini food chopper/processor instead of hand chopping for a fine chop. Take the ingredients and gently saute them in a pan with olive oil on medium/low heat until a fair amount of the moisture is cooked off. This should take about 7-10 mins. Let cool while combining the following ingredients in a bowl:
  • 1lb of ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup plain bread crumbs (or half and half plain and italian)
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp crushed red pepper

Mix the above ingredients along with the saute mixture into a bowl, thoroughly combine/mix (using your hands are best). At this point you can place into a loaf pan, but I prefer to just form a loaf on a baking sheet, bake at 375 degrees for 50-60 mins. About 30-40 mins into the cooking process, top the meatloaf with the red sauce below.

While meatloaf is cooking, make a simple chunky red sauce with:
  • 1 large can whole tomatoes
  • 1 large vidalia onion very roughly chopped
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 6-8 garlic cloves
  • water
  • salt
  • pepper
  • sugar
Take onions and saute in olive oil for a few mins, until slightly cooked, while they are cooking, open can of whole tomatoes and rough chop into chunks. Add chopped tomatos to sauteed onions in addition to tomato paste and garlic cloves. Add 1.5 cups of water. Salt, pepper, and about 1 tbsp of sugar to taste. The sauce should be simple and fast to make as well as chunky and delicious.

When the meatloaf is done, I sometimes serve it up with a side of gamelli or cellentani with tomato sauce topped and a simple spinach and tomato side salad with balsamic vinaigrette.

What REALLY makes my day isn't the above plate, I just make the meatloaf as an excuse to really have meatloaf ... the day after - and how I really enjoy a good meats-loafs. Get a chewy/crusty loaf of italian bread, lightly butter one side and place into a fry-pan. Next place a few slices of pepper-jack cheese (yes, that hot spicey jacky-stuff), a slice of meatloaf a dollop of tomato sauce, a few basil leaves, another few slices of cheese and the other slice of bread. Lightly fry 3-4 each side, cheese will be gooey, and I enjoy with a side of sauce to dip in. Ok, I'll admit it's not the most calorie conscious sandwich, but make one and you'll understand.

This ain't your momma's meatloaf

One meal that always fills my belly is meatloaf with mashed potatoes. now, the thought of packing meat into a loaf pan is just....weird. it doesn't seem right. and sometimes it's weird to me that i even dig this meal so much due to growing up a vegetarian. even know i eat minimal meat. anyway, so that is my comfort meal. my go to dinner when i want to eat something hearty. however, now that i'm kicking 30 up the wahoo and constantly watching the scales (except for bakery tour days) i don't make it the old fashioned way with beef and potatoes and all the good stuff. instead i've taken the lighter route.

instead of beef i used ground turkey. here's what i added to the meat for some extra flavor:
-crimini mushrooms
-1/2 onion
-red pepper flakes
-sea salt and pepper
-handful of bread crumbs

i always put a glaze on top. there is no recipe for it. i throw ketchup, brown sugar, and worcestershire into a bowl and mix. i taste and add what i feel is necessary. sometimes i add spices, but tonight i kept it at these three ingredients.

i put the meat mixture in the pan, topped it with the glaze, covered with foil and baked @ 350 for 35 minutes. i don't know where i got 35 minutes but it seems good. once it's cooked i take off the foil and put it back in the oven with the heat off just to brown the top a bit.

ok, so on to the mashed potatoes. i do love a tater. but i needed something tonight that wouldn't stick to my gut for the next 2 days. my twist is to use cauliflower. here's what i did:

-steamed 1 head of cauliflower
-heated a little 1/2 and 1/2 with butter in a pan
-once the cauliflower is cooked, i put it in my mixer and added the butter/cream mixture.

true, they're not JUST LIKE mashed tates, but omg, i love it. add some sea salt with pepper and that's good eats.

i needed a vegetable so i did something that Lan actually taught me....the avocado salad. i changed it up a bit from what she showed me waaaay back in the day. i chopped an avocado and a yellow tomato. i added some grey salt, pepper, lemon juice and touch of extra light evoo. delish.

so while it's not your traditional meatloaf comfort meal, it's certainly delicious and better for you. matt even went in for a second helping.


i had to add my hot cocoa drink to this even though it's probably the most simple things. however, this is the drink i adore. when it's cold out it warms my bones. i don't make it so much in the summer b/c it's sweltering out, but tonight i did just for you guys! i'm not sure what makes it so special to me except that it could be what relaxes me so well....especially when i'm snuggled under an electric blanket.

tres simple recipe. i add milk to a small saucepan (medium low heat please!), 2 tb of unsweetened cocoa, 2 tb of sugar (or add more if you like it sweeter). mix that up, heat it through. meanwhile, add a hefty shot of Irish Cream to your mug. and by hefty i do mean 1/4 of the way up. ok, not that much, but make sure you can taste it. add the chocolately mixture to the mug once heated through and enjoy. i don't add whip cream or anything like that usually. a little too much in my opinion.

so that's it. i'm stuffed, but feeling good and i believe i'm ready to snuggle in and get some sleep. until we meet again fellow doorknobs, keep those buns and ovens hot!

ode to my grandparents

so big k's theme for the month had me slightly stumped. there are so many different foods that warm my soul. so i decided to pull up memories of some pretty important people in my life. i was raised by my paternal grandparents until i was about 10 or 11. they are a comfort to my soul. it is because of grandpa that i love swiss cheese, mama celeste pizza, and sour apple jolly ranchers. it is because of grandma that i love spicey food, pâté, wonton soup, and phở . i remember weekend mornings having breakfast with them. grandma would warm up a mug of milk for me, and grandpa would sneak a spoonful of sugar in. there'd be sliced oranges or ritz crackers to munch on. as i got older, grandpa would take me to pastry shops and always, always, always he would get me a napoleon. i would sit at the table and happily eat my pastry while he sipped his coffee and smoked his cigarette. grandma was no slouch. she made cream puffs for me. that stuff was so good! i was called bánh bèo face for a good reason.

so i decided to make a hybrid of both pastries. i'd make the body of the cream puff but use the napoleon cream and icing. that's my twist.

the batter was a bitch to stir. this was before i added eggs. i just hate babysitting at the stove, it's not my favorite.

once the eggs were fully incorporated in the batter, it became slightly too pliable for my liking. the whole piling it high up etc is a crock. don't sweat it.

the first batch, i followed the recipe to a T. i reduced temp, turned oven off, ignored the puffs and they came out hard. they smelled good tho, exactly like how i remember them to smell.

the second batch came out much better, i ix-nayed the whole 20 minute wait in the turned off oven. eff that.

the Napoleon cream filling came out well, taste wise. but in retrospect, i should've done a cream puff filling. the napoleon cream filling is to be spread between layers. whatever, it still tasted good.
verdict: a lot of work that really, helped me keep my mind off random drama. i'll definitely make these pastries again, just not combined. my new roommate Crystal was tastetester and she had 3!

For the Cream Puffs, i used this recipe.
For the Cream Filling and icing, i used this recipe.