Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Stuffed Peppers

I am still very much on my veggie kick. After a weekend full of BBQ, burgers and the meaty like I headed to Whole Foods tonight on a vegetable mission. If you are in any way familiar with my weeknight eating habits, you know I'm a huge fan of chicken sausage. Any type. And it just happened to be on sale today. So I grabbed up some andouille, some peppers, some kale, and ciliegine mozzarella (the cherry tomato sized cheese in water) and came home with a grand idea. Stuffed peppers.

I threw some brown Texmati rice in my rice cooker and filled it to the brim with chopped kale, a few spices and a scant amount of salt and let it steam away. While that was going on I chopped up the sausage and cheese and cut up the peppers. Once it was all ready to go, into the peppers it all went, the cheese pressed on top of the mixture and tucked into the oven. And then I went out on the balcony to watch the storm.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Simple Tomato Pasta

Friday, May 18, 2012

Prajitura Cu Caise or Romanian Cake

There are only a few things I know about my maternal Grandmother. She was from a small town in Minnesota. She came from a  very large family (13 kids!). After high school she left home to go to Washington D.C to work as a secretary in the Pentagon. She played the guitar. She looked a lot like my Mom. My name is the Spanish translation of her middle name, Alice. And her father, my Great-Grandfather, was Romanian. I talk a lot about my South American heritage, namely because I grew up thoroughly entrenched in it, as much as a 2nd generation American can be, thanks to my paternal Grandmother. But with my Grandmother on other side there’s a sort of missing space, all kinds of unknowns. Language, religion, traditions, family history… and of course food.

Outside of the food portion though this post has taken me a very long time to put together. The amount that I write and erase and repeat the process is so much more than I’ve done with any other post. And I guess it’s just harder to write about a someone you never knew, especially one who’s been gone for over half a century. I don’t want to make assumptions, to finish thoughts that aren’t my own. I never knew this Grandmother, she passed away when my Mom was barely 2 after battling a terminal illness she was diagnosed with when she was 16, so even my Mom has not much of an idea. But I imagine she had to have been very strong, to be faced with such crushing news at such a young age, then to leave her family and her home to go to Washington D.C. She must have been a bit ambitious, she was a secretary at the Pentagon for goodness sakes! And she must have been pretty willful and stubborn, to defy the odds and her illness in so many ways, but especially in choosing to have a baby (my Mom) when all her doctors warned her with her condition that it would kill both herself and the child. All those traits I see in my Mom, in my sister’s and in myself, for better or worse. I can't say if these traits are particular to the Romanian people or if my Grandmother was just a very strong woman, who knows.
The fig cake

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Kale and Caramelized Onion Frittata

Recently in the food world there was a bit of a debate over how long it takes to caramelize onions. You can check out the article here, but the gist of it is that *some* recipe authors are carelessly writing into recipes that caramelizing onions takes only 5-10 minutes. I posted the article on to my facebook site that 10 minutes was laughable and got into a debate with a friend, her saying that how familiar one was with a cooking technique could depend on the timing of the recipe. That's absolutely true, but I think the main problem are the liberties that authors take with cooking times. There's nothing more frustrating then deciding on a particular recipe, namely because it only takes a certain amount of time, and then have that timing be grossly untrue.
The eventual frittata I made with said caramelized onions
Here the main culprit is caramelized onions but I'm sure this could also be true of braises, stocks, sauces, etc. But going back to the original I decided to test this out. I've caramelized onions many many times and I would never describe the process as speedy, but I'd never actually timed myself. Now keep in mind, there are many factors at play here, such as the type of onion, the uniform thickness that it's been sliced (you really want the thinnest slice possible, so that as much of the onions surface is touching the heat as possible), the inclusion of a touch of sugar (so as to help bring out the natural sugars in the onion), and how many onions you're using (how crowded is the pan). Depending on all those above things, it could be a longer or shorter process, but again I was very skeptical of 10 minutes. So I used one fairly large Spanish onion, cut fairly thin, about a 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and a tiny sprinkle of some turbinado sugar while nearly constantly stirring. Also, I'd consider myself fairly expert. It took me just over 15 minutes.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Currant Cream Scones

I lifted nearly this entire recipe from Smitten Kitchen... but naturally, NATURALLY, I just cannot resist playing around with a few things here, another tweak there. It's a real issue that's maybe good for other hobbies and professions (my day job for one) but with baking... no way. You need to be exact. Precise. My sister even got me a baking scale for Christmas for goodness sakes so I should be doing this correctly. I just can't though.

This time... well it turned out pretty delicious. Because I kept the changes to a minimum. I soaked the currants in some sherry to see if that would lend another flavor. Normally I'd start adding in cinnamon, nutmeg, even cardamom, but I wanted to see what a liquid change would do, especially one with such a heavy almond aftertaste. The result... nothing I can really notice. The second was replacing a teaspoon of the flour with some cornmeal. Maybe it's the Southern girl in me try to get every possible taste of home into a baked good, but I like the crunch and extra little bite when there's a touch of cornmeal in something.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Repollo en Nogada... esque

Something about Cinco de Mayo, Derby and Caps v. Rangers playoff got me in the mood for something completely eclectic but fused from these 3 events taking place today. Earlier this week I had bought some savoy cabbage, thinking I might do a lightened version of the traditional Eastern European dish of stuffed cabbage, but having been absolutely exhausted this past week with apartment hunting (and more on that soon), I've been doing terrible things like ordering in and eating out.

Today though, while out running errands, being Cinco de Mayo it made me think of chile en nogada... considered to be the national dish of Mexico and I thought, why not make it with cabbage, "repollo" in Spanish? Making a complete generalization here I figured there are more than a couple hockey players that come out of Eastern Europe(perhaps I'm reaching a little here),  and if I soaked the raisins in some bourbon it would give it a Kentucky twist. So there you have it... Cinco de Mayo Derby NHL Playoff repollo en nogada... esque.


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