Sunday, February 26, 2012

Smoked Trout and Sauteed Vegetable Farfalle

I believe its been mentioned before but I love smoked fish in a tin. It's probably totally weird I know, but I just can't help myself. Growing up it was smoked clams over saltine crackers, they were my go to when it came to camping, road trips or just nights where turning on the stove was too much effort. I discovered at my fancy market, shortly after moving to Brooklyn, Cole's Smoked Trout and that became my new favorite smoked fish. At any given time you can find at least 3 tins of this in my pantry. Heck, I even keep an extra tin at work in case of emergencies. And going back to childhood, I usually just fork it out and eat it straight from the tin, but this Friday realizing it was the first Friday of Lent (therefore no meat other than fish) I thought... why not throw it in some pasta? With some caramelized onions and bitter radicchio and creamy eggplant? A light dusting of shredded sharp asiago over? Creamy, crunchy, bitter and sweet, sharp and smokey. Friday perfection.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Lamb Tagine

Well it's a year that's turning out all sorts of accomplishments and New Years Resolutions fulfilled. I joined my new gym and love it, but between my new role at work, spinning 3+ days a week, making time to see not only friends but to enjoy the everyday stuff that comes with keeping up with life, it's a never ending whirlwind. But one of my resolutions was to keep learning something new. I had gently chided myself at the beginning of the year over all my unused and under-appreciated kitchen appliances, namely my tagine, but also my roaster, my popover pans, my lobster pot, all of my canning supplies. And I promised myself that I would use every last one of them at least twice this year. So let's start with the tagine.
It's actually a shocker that I went a whole year without making this because I love lamb tagine. I first fell in love with the dish in Morocco years ago, along with the dramatic serving in the true Moroccan tagine. And  before I even owned a proper tagine apparatus I would make the savory, sweet Moroccan stew in my Le Creuset, slow cooker style. Even if you don't have a tagine, any sort of "tagine" recipe can easily be replicated in a crock pot or a dutch oven. This particular meal is rich and hearty, perfect for the colder months, though there are plenty of other recipes for chicken with olives or preserved lemons that are more suited for a spring or autumn day. But lamb tagine is best in the winter, the outside world buried under a blanket of snow while inside you're warmed by good company and delicious food, that's thick, sweet, savory and spiced just perfectly over a bed of fluffy couscous to cut the richness. This is winter's recipe at it's finest.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Cheesy Stuffed Turkey Meatloaf

This was completely one of those end of the month, what do I have in the fridge and don't have to buy type of meals. And yes, meatloaf. It's not exactly exciting or life changing, but neither is staring into a mostly empty fridge with a mostly empty bank account. It can be dressed up any number of ways and mostly with non-perishable items, which means that if you have a well-stocked pantry, a condiment or 2 and a good number of herbs and spices, you too can make a delicious meatloaf. It's also a no brainer meal. Sure you can get creative in any number of ways but mostly it's just seasoned meat, topped with a sauce and thrown in the oven.
And I've needed a lot of those these days. Between a lot of ups (promotion, sister visit this weekend, Virginia visit soon, parents and one of my Texas friends' visit back to back) and a few downs (taxes... ugh, not being able to attend my other bestie's baby shower in Texas) I need easy when I get home. Just today I had my first foray into the world of baby products (no, not for me) and the AMOUNT. OF. JUDGEMENT I came across. My goodness. Is it just me or does the meaning of the word "opinion" and "choice" just fly out the window when it comes to a baby? And if I'm already so sensitive to it now when it's not even my child I'm getting the product for... what in the world will I do when it is mine? Where did my fearless self-confidence go? (But on a good note I already have my future far away baby's diaper bag picked out- thank goodness for Pinterest! And I know more about diaper bags then the average non-mom now).

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Superbowl Suckling Pig

Happy Superbowl everyone! A little belated, but here's my little celebratory review of our suckling pig roast. You read that right. A suckling pig. Roasting in my little oven. 1 pig in a NYC apartment... ok you get the picture. But we pulled it off and boy was it delicious. The pig was about a 12-13 pounder so definitely on the small side and I ordered him from D'Artagnan and in case anyone out there is thinking of doing this please note that it's pretty pricey. But our little pig easily fed about 10 people, so you should also take that into consideration too.
We called him Brady
There were tons of other goodies from our friends and a few dips that I threw together. There were collard greens cooked in bourbon with bacon and sweet sausage, a 7 layer dip (courtesy of my Texas self), roasted potato salad, spicy crab dip, chili, lumpia- which are absolutely delicious Filipino meat spring rolls, a bean dip, and a few other various goodies of both the eating and imbibing variety. It was so much fun, mostly to gather with friends, see how many people I could comfortably fit inside my apartment and do something absolutely crazy, like roast a pig! And while I won't pretend to even remotely be a Giants fan (in fact Wes Welker carried my fantasy team this year and Sterling Moore is a fellow SMU grad) I was happy that my city got to experience another win. New Yorkers really do know how to go crazy with those things.

Aji de Gallina

This is hands down my favorite meal. Of all time. Seriously. It's that nostalgic comfort meal from childhood that immediately takes me back to my Grandparents house. How I loved this dish but didn't even know the name of it for years. It was just the creamy chicken with pecans and how delicious does that sound?
Between the time that my Grandmother passed away and I moved to New York, where seeking out Peruvian food became my ultimate culinary quest (and a lot more feasible given the immigration),  I don't think I had aji de gallina once. And even in New York, even at the most authentic of Peruvian joints across all boroughs it wasn't the same. There would be peanuts instead of pecans, not enough or too much spice, they would serve it with shrimp instead of chicken (more likely at the Peruvian fusion places, but still). So I decided I had to go back to the source, because if you want something done right (or at least done the way you prefer) you have to do it yourself. The first time I made it... well it was ok. Several tweaks later and I've found that to taste like my Grandmother's I had to use Kraft parmesan (yes, believe it or not... the fancy, unprocessed stuff didn't work). I had to use pecans and I had to throw in a little parsley. And most importantly, I had to use aji amarillo paste (some recipes say you can substitute with cayenne but I've tried this and not the same). Aji amarillo paste can be found at just about any South or even Central American market.


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