Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Eggplant Involtini

Eggplant Involtini
grilled and stuffed with a feta, walnut, bulgur, mint, and oregano filling, then baked in a rich tomato sauce and topped with fresh parsley and grilled summer corn

After stuffing, before baking!

The finished dish - I'll admit the presentation needs some work.

This was really quite delicious! Very meaty...yet vegetarian. I was inspired by a recipe I saw while browsing the U-bookstore that day, though I cooked it without any of the "correct" proportions. It's very easy - simply grill the eggplants and stuff with the goodies, then bake in a marinara for an hour or so. My sauce actually came out much more delicious than I thought it would be since I just tossed the leftover filling in with the tomato.

On the side I grilled some chicken breasts marinated in leftover chimichurri.

I'm posting them here just because I was so excited by their grill marks! This was done on the electric grill - more heat in the grates themselves I think.

Orange and Fire Roasted Red Pepper Tuna

Grilled Orange and Fire Roasted Red Pepper marinated Tuna steak
topped with more Orange and Fire Roasted Red Pepper sauce

The sauce/marinade:

1 fire-roasted red pepper ( I did this myself last time I was grilling and just tossed it in!)
Zest and juice of one orange and lime
1/2 jalepeno, seeded
1/4 cup cilantro
~1/4+ cup Extra Virgin Olive oil

An original creation - It was very interesting - kind of sweet and smoky! I was a little unsure about the sweetness with the meatiness of the tuna...perhaps not the best combination, but the sauce was quite good.

Next time I'll buy sashimi-quality tuna so I can try it seared and raw on the inside!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

elegant simplicity in photo form.

This salad is really not noteworthy - but I was quite happy with the pictures:

Just greens, tomato, and onion with a fresh balsalmic vinaigrette.

Random orange juice on the deck:

I think I just love the texture of the table behind the glass.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Recipe: Black beans pureed with zest of Lime and Garlic

What's a food blog with no recipes?

Here's one I made up recently that I was a huge fan of, and is actually very easy.

Zesty Lime and Garlic puree of Black Beans

2 16oz cans Black Beans (you know, normal size cans) - drain but reserve the water
1 Lime, zested
3+ Garlic cloves, minced
3-4 tbsps Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 - 1/3 of a Jalepeno pepper, seeds in (unless you want it mild- seeds out and deveined)

Garnishes/Toppings: Caramelized onions and chopped cilantro or mint.

Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium to medium low heat. Once it's hot enough to make the garlic sizzle (but nowhere near smoking hot!), add the garlic. After it becomes very fragrant, say 1-2 minutes, add the zest of the whole lime. Sizzle until the lime zest loses its bright green color, about 3 minutes. Be sure that the garlic does not brown at all, and the zest does not burn. Add the beans and cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes.

Add the beans from the pot, the jalepeno chunk and the juice of half the lime to the food processor or blender. Blend till smooth, adding the reserved bean water as necessary.

I'm not positive the saute of the zest is necessary or beneficial, but I have a hunch. I'm going to have to try it with it added fresh. I'll post any findings.

Try it with: fresh corn tortillas made with grated lime zest!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

La Casa del Mojito & my gradual ascent (descent?) to a foodie.

After hearing such great things about La Casa del Mojito , Dan and I decided to check it out. Lately I have realized what a powerful effect food has on me - especially if feel like I paid too much for bad food. I ordered the Vaca Frita. Everything was quite good, except for the overall greasiness. Deep fried "maduros" were better than donuts, and the "tostones" were delicious as well. But my dish - it was okay, but far, far too greasy. I want to say it was a fluke - Dan's fish was delicately and tastefully breaded and fried. But mine was very discomfortingly greasy in retrospect. The feeling afterwards...ahh! I am a huge fan of light and refreshing food, and that's what I expected from such a bright and bubbly tropical joint, and for the $13 price tag (high for the Ave). Not so here. I do think the place has excellent potential - very different and everything else on the menu sounds delicious. I'll have to give it a second try, but in the meantime my stomach is in a bit of knot and I'm out $17. That's the part that kills me. I could have made my plate for about $4. And better.

This has slowly been happening - I'm becoming a foodie. For better or worse, I'm snobbing up. I'll try my darndest not to ever be a true snob, as it's one of my greatest pet peeves. Either way, I still feel freaking terrible after a bad meal, especially an expensive one, even though the company and the atmosphere were quite good. My palate is becoming more refined. Which unfortunately means my wallet is going to continue to get more refined- more "sleek and thin" - as well...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Latin Lunch...with a little mediterranean thrown in =)

So I had a little lunch party yesterday with the girls - one birthday and one return from a viaje en Nicaragua. I decided on a Latin main course with a Spanish soup to start and an Italian dessert to finish. I have usually cooked mostly Afghan food for friends since it's my specialty, but I was tired of it, and wanted to test my versatility. So here we go - all new recipes to me, followed quite closely.

topped with a chiffonade of basil, and served with the usual toppings.

This was the only dish thatI think came out somewhat weak - I realized halfway through that I hadn't a clue what it was supposed to taste like - I'd never had it before! Not bad, but not great. Learned a lot though! Next time: no multigrain bread in it...

Next up we have the main course - a nice twist on tacos. Maya brought Masa Harina (cornmeal) and we attempted to make fresh corn tortillas to eat with everything below. I actually liked them quite a bit, despite some texture difficulties. Ha.

Churrasco marinated in Chimichurri
served with fresh corn tortillas, grilled zucchini & squash, chimichurri, and on a bed of spicy greens

This was my favorite, even though I couldn't find the right cut of beef (skirt steak). The spicy greens were brought by Amy, and were actually a delicious addition, as well as beautiful, especially the edible flowers like the one garnishing the steak.

Parsley, Cilantro, and Mint Chimichurri

This is the shit. It's like emerald crack. I'm not even bragging - it's a recipe. The Argentines and Nicaraguans know their stuff - very similar, but even better than chutney. That's all I'm going to say.

Black Beans pureed with Garlic and zest of Lime
topped with caramelized onions and fresh mint

This was my own creation, inspired by the delicious black beans at Agua Verde. I would have topped it with cotija cheese, but I was already spending so much on everything else I chose onions instead. It was delicious, and I will definitely be making it again. and again. Especially when I revert back to a starving student come September...

Grilled Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon marinated in a Citrus Recado
served with more of the citrus recado, and the same veggies as the steak

I was a big fan of the citrus recado - I failed to take a picture of it, but as you can kind of see on the salmon, it was a beautiful rainbow of colors - orange, yellow, green, all mixed into one. It had the zest and juice of a lime, a lemon, and an orange, as well as garlic, cilantro, oregano, and touch of hot pepper. The oregano was fresh from our garden, but I didn't taste it over the intense citrus kick. Delicious though! Great recipe - pick up this book if you're at all interested in marinades.

Cantaloupe and Mint Granita
topped with mangos and peaches tossed in lime zest and a fresh mint leaf

Oh my. I have a new favorite dessert. Granita is so healthy! Yet delicious! It's actually quite easy to make: puree the fruit, strain the solids if necessary (not needed for this one), mix in a sugar syrup (this can easily be left out with ripe and sweet summer fruits), and freeze in a shallow pan. Break up the ice with a fork every half hour or so, and bam! An exciting and refreshing dessert - one i can actually make too!

But of course, no meal is complete without my number one customer, who ate like a queen as I was cooking all this up:

served with warm feet under a table

Monday, June 16, 2008

Charred beauty

As I was chopping mint for the below dish, I just had to stop - the light coming in from the sunset was just too gorgeous, streaming into my kitchen like some kind of movie. I thought I'd try to capture the beauty of my mom's kitchen design.

Oregano-Mint-Balsalmic Kofta Kabobs
with a grilled vegetable and mint tabbouleh.

I was really in the mood for a salad...and grilling.

The salad has grilled zucchini, eggplant, mint, olive oil, and a touch of balsalmic. Topped with grilled portabello mushrooms and more mint.

The Kabobs:

I didn't spend nearly as much time on the presentation for you can tell.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Farmer's Market!

Heirloom tomato and baby shallot salad

topped with a chiffonade of lemon mint, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt.

I garnished it with the green stalks of the baby shallot. Quite simple but yummy - very summery and appropriate.

My tiny $5 farmer's market bounty. That heirloom tomato was over $3. It was quite good! But $3 good...? perhaps another variety will be more impressive.

I must say - buying at a farmer's market is pretty awesome. I just really enjoy being able to ask questions of the people who actually grew the food! Not to mention the good feeling that comes from handing them money personally, without a middleman. A bit expensive sometimes though...

I think my battery is about to quit on me, so no more rambling today.