Monthly Archives: January 2011

Wrap it up: shredded pork and red pepper salad

pork and red pepper wrapsI like weekends that are both productive and lazy.  Productive as in “I made a lot of delicious food.”  Lazy as in “said delicious food require very little effort on my part.”  It’s nice.  It was a good way to spend the last weekend of January 2011, alternating between lounging on the couch with Josh and the dogs and spending a few minutes in the kitchen here and there, whipping up something tasty and fun.  I made another batch of beef tallow, rendering down about 3.5 pounds of suet, and I made my very first brioche which was then used in a delightful but deadly french toast casserole with heavy cream, whole milk, eggs, raw sugar, vanilla and Vietnamese cinnamon.  However, one can only indulge so much without slipping into a coma.  I love good, hearty comfort food spiked with full-fat dairy as much as the next person, but not all comfort food has to be loaded down with fat.  Most, yes, but not all.  So Saturday afternoon, I made a delightful dinner of light and flavorful lettuce wraps to combat the growing comfort food coma.  Continue reading

Comfort Food: Three Little Pig Chili

It was ungodly cold in Michigan this weekend.  A high of 14 yesterday.  Fourteen. No, I didn’t really mean to type 41.  The 1 and the 4 were in the correct locations.  14 degreesFahrenheit.  I don’t know about you, but in my opinion, 14 is not a temperature.  It’s an awkward time in adolescence, yes, but it is not a temperature.  It is against everything that is right and holy in my world.

Luckily, to combat this, my office had a chili potluck on Friday, complete with 4 delicious chili concoctions to take the freezing edge off, as well as chips, cheese, cornbread, biscuits–all the necessary accompaniments–cookies and cupcakes.  It was delighful.  But all too soon it ended and I found myself on my own Saturday morning with the cold wind trying to slide into the creaky doorways of my house.  My house is a delight.  I enjoy it immensely.  After all, we did strive to pick a house that we adored, because I intend to live there until I die and then I’m going to haunt it (although admittedly, indeed, I do plan on retiring someplace warm and sunny, but I still plan on keeping and haunting this house).  But some days, the grand old house is a little less grand.  Like days where it’s 14 degrees outside.  My house is three solid layers of brick wall (so if that big bad wolf ever comes around, I’m golden)…and no insulation.  And all wood floors.  And single pain, 150 year old windows.  It just soaks up the cold like a sponge.  With Josh off playing some RPG game with friends, and the dogs out of the house playing at day care (you laugh but it’s the greatest thing in the world if you have a puppy, especially one that weights 95 pounds and is the size of a deer, like our mastiff), I knew that if I followed my instincts and just melted myself into the couch, cloaked in a blanket like a ghost and watched endless hours of the Cooking channel, eventually….wait, why didn’t I do that?  That sounds awesome. Continue reading

Potatoes as nature intended: fried in beef fat

One of the things I’ve wanted to do for a while was learn how to make and fry thing in beef tallow.  I know it might seem like an odd aspiration for a girl, but those of you who know me are probably nodding and going, “Yeah, that sounds about right.”  It’s said, though, that the best fried potatoes are fried in beef fat  and even McDonalds used to cook their French fries in tallow.  Remember those days?  When McDonalds had the best fries in the entire damn corporate restaurant world?  Well now you know why.  Beef fat.  Beef fat sits up there on a pedestal with pork fat and butter as the holy trinity of lipids, in my opinion, veritable liquid golds when melted, with the unparalleled ability to turn food from good to face-down-in-the-plate-awesome.

And as someone who also loves potatoes–I do love potatoes, they are the perfect vegetable, gastronomically–of course I’ve had a lifelong dream to dip slices of soft baking potatoes into clear, sizzling hot beef tallow, remove said starchy delight, coat it in salt, pepper and mountains of cheese and eat it–I mean, who doesn’t have that dream?  Maybe vegans.

But either way, I can proudly say to you that indeed, I have conquered this beefy potato mountain.  I have stood on its peak and raised my foodie flag to the sky and proclaimed, “It is done.”  And it was good. Continue reading

Double Chocolate Chip Almond Cookie Pie

I’ll say that one more time: double chocolate chip almond cookie pie.  Cookie pie.  Cookie pie. Cookie pie.

This is a beautiful dessert, in so many ways.  First of all, it contains some of the most important ingredients known to man: chocolate, double chocolate, almonds, butter, pie crust.  All it’s missing is pork…and you could remedy that buy adding in crumbled bacon and/or using lard in your pie crust.  Just something to consider.  Secondly, it solves that terrible, gastronomical conundrum that is, “What do I want for dessert?  A cookie or a slice of pie?”  Welcome to the future, my good hungry friend!  Who needs flying cars?  You can have cookie pie.  That’s two desserts in one.  It’s like a culinary double rainbow.  Plus, it offers twice the opportunity for supplemental dairy.  I mean, pie needs to have one of two things to go with it: ice cream or whipped cream.  Or ice cream and whipped cream.  And cookies need milk.  So you could have a slice of cookie pie with some whipped cream and a glass of milk.  Boom. Done.  Third, think of all the neatly paired colloquialisms you could make.  “Any way you slice it, that’s the way the cookie crumbles!”  And uh…um….ok, well maybe that’s the only one.   Finally, this dessert is extremely easy to make, even for those of you who are baking-phobic.  And do you know what you get at the end of this easy process?  Flaky, buttery pie crust, crunchy top and a nice thick layer of chocolate in the middle. It makes a great alternative to the usual whipped chocolate or fruity pies.  And if you’re tired of eating pumpkin after Thanksgiving and Christmas, then I believe this one is calling your name. Continue reading

Friday Foodie Finds: Jan 14

c is for cookieIt’s been awhile since I’ve done a links post, but I’ve been finding so much interesting stuff lately that I figured I should revive the tradition.  Have a cookie and read on for some of the fascinating things the intarwebs have to pique your gastronomical interest.

  • A map of all 50 states with the foods they are “best known for.”  I know you Michigan peeps are wondering was was listed for the Great Mitten.  It was pasties.  I know, seriously, pasties.  I realize they’re popular but I think it’s more of an Upper Peninsula thing.  I personally have never have a pasty in my entire life, although I’m probably a bad example because I have also never had a paczki despite their abundant presence in southeast Michigan.  Still I personally would’ve selected the all-mighty coney dog, or at least cherries, to represent the big M.  Your thoughts?
  • Food is art–a beautiful tumbler blog full of what can only really be referred to as food porn.
  • How to Make Chocolate Vodka.  Now let’s get something straight.  I’m not showing you this link because I suspect you’re an alcoholic.  Don’t worry; everyone sways back and forth like that…at 9am in the morning…at a bar.  Nor am I sending you this link because I’m secretly hoping to get you smashed in order to take some hilarious video footage of you doing the hokey pokey with a miniature goat so that I can post it on YouTube and make you web-famous.  No, no, the reason I’m sending you this link is because you’re obsessed with chocolate.  Just like me.  By the way, that link also contains a video, in case you’re too drunk tired to read properly.
  • You’re attracted to me because of my spicy personality.  But alas, I’m taken.  We can never be.  Console yourself with this spicy sriracha cookbook instead.
  • An infographic for no-knead ciabatta, bread thanks to Redditor zclip (original thread).
  • Of all the recipes I’ve saved over the last month, this is the one, the one where I looked at the picture and thought, “Oh my god.  I would kill everyone in this room to have that right now.”  Just kidding of course.  I’m the only person in this room and that would be counterproductiveRoasted pepper and tomato ragu.
  • Fooducate, an iPhone app that helps you make healthy eating choices in the grocery store.  Scan the barcode of a grocery product, see the truth about it’s nutritional value and find better options.

Happy Friday!

All Taste, No Fuss: Broccoli Almond Soup and Red Pepper Beef

One of the questions I get asked on a regular basis is—how do you do it?  And no, they’re not asking me how I remain so effervescently awesome–it’s clearly obvious that’s a trade secret.  No, they’re asking me, “How do you put a meal together?  And not a meal from a recipe you’ve searched for and pored over and planned out and executed with ninja-like precision (speaking of, there are at least 5 ninjas in this article.  But you can’t see them).  No, a meal from just whatever you have on hand.  How do you do that?”

It occurs to me that somewhere along the line, cooking became some sort of mysterious alchemy to a disturbingly large amount of people.  Food goes in one way, and deliciousness—or for some, vast amounts of thick black smoke–come out the other.  What happens in between is a mystery.  But it really doesn’t have to be that way.  You don’t have to go down the long, dark path to Frozen Foodland most nights, or make the same safe spaghetti and meatball dish every single night.  Not that I’m hating on meatballs–I love meatballs, some of my best friends are meatballsor anything like that.  But of all the things in the world to fear, making dinner shouldn’t be one of them.  You don’t always have to have a plan.  It works to just toss in what you have. Continue reading