Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Summer Treat! Banana Smoothie

Last summer I survived on cold "fruit"...fruit popsicles and grapes. Lots and lots of grapes.  This summer, I've decided to try to broaden my scope and use up some old-ish riper-than-I-like-to-eat-on-their-own bananas. Basically, whenever I buy bananas and inevitably fail to eat all of them before they start to turn spotty, I peel them whole, stick them in a ziploc, and plop them in the freezer. Usually I'm thinking all be fancy and bake delicious banana bread, which I am very good at not doing. So, even though they are quite tasty on their own (sliced), today, I decided to whiz up some frozen bananas into an insanely easy and quick smoothie.

"Yeah, you know I'm smoooooth" Banana Smoothie Serves 1 (about 8 oz)
1 frozen banana cut into about 1.5 inch pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup milk (soy milk would be great in this as well)
A few ice cubes (probably 3-4)

Take your trusty blender out and put in banana pieces. I would suggest whizzing a bit and then adding in the milk and ice in parts as you blend so you can control the consistency and amount. The ice mostly just helps to keep the smoothie colder and keep a thicker consistency (unless you really just want cold banana milk).

That's it! Seriously. It was sweet enough without simple syrup or sugar; I actually added more ice to cut the sweetness. Also, I thought I might not have enough time to whip this up this morning before leaving for school, but was done in about 3.5 minutes (sans cleanup).

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Grown-up Breakfast in the Nighttime

UPDATE: Wow.  Do not try to blog while doing other things.  I wrote this recipe with roasted potatoes in mind (which is what the cayenne, rosemary, thyme, and/or paprika were for), but never mention them.  So, banished from the blog are those ingredients.  More importantly, we would never roast anything at 315 F!  Well, I wouldn't.  That should be 415 F.  Fixed and done.

Since being reminded during Klug's visit that eggs are a thing that taste good, I have been eating them as frequently as justifiable.  Here are my recent favorite things to eat with eggs:

Fried Eggs with Roasted Asparagus and Dijon Mustard
Serves 1

Yep.  I stole this picture from the internet
because I am still too lazy to take real pictures of my own food.

2 eggs half a bunch of asparagus*
1-2 slices of quality bread**
olive oil
cayenne, rosemary, thyme, and/or paprika***
Kosher salt, pepper
Dijon Mustard**** 
Cholula (optional)

Okay, so, this isn't really a recipe, because, duh, making all of these things is trivial.  But, here's how anyways:

Preheat oven to 315 415 F.  
Trim and wash asparagus.  If you just bend the asparagus stalk, it will break at the end of the woody fibrous end, which you should trash.  Lay out asparagus on a cookie sheet (covered with foil first, if you want easy cleaning).  Drizzle a little olive oil over the stalks and sprinkle a pinch of kosher salt.  Mix so all stalks are covered with some olive oil and salt.  Roast on the top-ish rack in the oven for 10-14 minutes, depending on your oven and how crispy you like the asparagus.  Make sure to check the asparagus at about 10 minutes to avoid over-roasting.

Note: I have spent many a time trying to perfect the roasting temp and time for asparagus, and have found that 315 415 F for 14 minutes is perfection.  You can be perfect like me and follow suit, or you can be imperfect and obstinate and figure it out for yourself.  Just kidding, I'm all for the discovery process.

While the asparagus are roasting, take your slice(s) of bread and toast in toaster oven.  If using a toaster, wait a few minutes.

When only a few minutes remain for the asparagus and toast, heat a little bit of olive oil (I never measure, but maybe a teaspoon?) in a frying pan over medium-low to medium heat.  Swirl oil around the pan to coat the bottom surface.  Crack eggs into the frying pan.  Let fry for a short while - until the whites start to set.  Salt and pepper the top of the eggs.  Flip when you think you can without breaking the yolk.  Let fry for about 30-60 seconds.  The cook time can vary wildly depending on how well down you like your eggs.  At this point, I also like to top the eggs with a little Cholula, because everything is better with hot sauce.

Place an egg on each slice of toast.  Add asparagus (I like mine on the side, rather than on top).  Then use your knife to add Dijon mustard and/or egg yolk to each bite of egg and/or asparagus like a British person and be pumped!

*Or more.  Asparagus is a bit pricey, so it's up to you.  Really, any veggie would do, but I've had a hard time finding a nice green veggie that is as good as asparagus with the eggs.
**I would recommend a crusty sort of bread, rather than a sandwich bread, from a local bakery.  Whole wheat, sourdough, what have you.  If your local bakery has it, I would recommend a dark whole wheat sourdough, which is like manna from the sky (the one I love is from a baker in DC...which apparently no longer exists?  Nevermind.)
***Any is good, but probably not all three.  Klug prefers the Rosemary, I prefer the paprika, both of us like a little cayenne.
****I am digging the mild and creamy Grey Poupon, because I roll high class like that (oh, it's by Kraft.  Sad face.)  You could also make your own, but I don't know how to do that.  If you're feeling more diner than dining room, mix a little Sriracha or Cholula in with some ketchup.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Eat Polenta, Be Happy

So, I've decided to try to revitalize this blog this summer (was it ever really alive, though?), so here goes.  (Also, Helvetica is a font type now.  Good job, blogger, you win.)

Let's start this post with an interactive question: Did you know that polenta is GREAT?  

Oh.  You did?  Okay, sure.  Because you are better than everyone, good for you.  Well, I did not because...I'm a lifetime learner. Whatever.  Here is the recipe for my inaugural polenta experience (again, sorry for no pictures):

Polenta with Caramelized Onions and Mushroom Sauce
Polenta can be purchased dry and quick-cooked on the stovetop, or, if you're lucky, you'll find the weird tube of already cooked polenta to slice and use as you wish (thanks to Katie Klug for telling my lazy self about this, and to Marsh for being the only store in Bloomington that carries it).  If using pre-cooked polenta, you can bake in oven at 315 F for about 15 minutes or heat on the stove top (or, heat it in the microwave, but really, don't).  

Makes about 3-4 servings.  
(Since I'm single, I made the mushroom sauce at Time 1, and then, per serving, sauteed 1/2 onion + 1 garlic clove + 1/3-1/4 of the polenta to order.)

1 1/2 onion
3-5 cloves of garlic*
10-16 oz of mushrooms** 
About 1 cup milk and/or stock***
1-2 tablespoons flour or corn starch**** 
A few tablespoons olive oil
Thyme, salt, peper to taste

If baking polenta, preheat oven to 315 F before starting.

For the Sauce:
Cut mushrooms into pieces.  I like my mushroom pieces sort of small, so I halve and slice them, but you can make them as big or small as you like.  Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a pot on medium. While the oil heats, mince 1-2 cloves of garlic.  Add garlic to heated oil for about 15 seconds; then add mushrooms.  Let mushrooms cook until wilted; about 10 minutes.  Add flour or corn starch and stir until smooth.  Start adding milk or stock in parts and bring sauce to a simmer, continuing to add liquid until you have the desired amount and consistency - you may end up using less than 1 cup or more than 1 cup.  Add thyme, salt, and pepper to taste.  Let simmer for a little longer and then take off heat.

For Everything Else:
If baking polenta, slice, rub a little olive oil, salt, and pepper on the slices and bake in a baking dish or cookie sheet for about 15 minutes.  If cooking on stove top, just slice and let chill out on the countertop while you: Julienne onion and mince 2-3 cloves of garlic. Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan on medium to medium-low heat.  Add in garlic and onion.  Let sauté and then reduce heat to medium-low to low and leave onions be.  This will help them caramelize.  If starting to get brown, push onions around (yeah, go ahead, you pusher) and possibly reduce heat.  Add in polenta slices and cook until warm.

DONE.  Sort of.  Place polenta slices on plate.  Or, if you want less geometric polenta, mush polenta. Top with caramelized onions, and then top that with mushroom sauce.   

If you're feeling audacious, or just hungry, add in a nice green veggie. Tonight I cut up some zucchini and added it into the onion/garlic mixture before adding in polenta (being a vegetarian means I will take extra vegetables wherever I can get them).  You could also be more ambitious and actually toss a green salad or something.  That would be nice.

*I use about 2 cloves of garlic for the sauce and 1 clove of garlic (and 1/2 an onion) for every serving, but I've been told I'm a crazy garlic fiend, so...
**I used crimini because they're relatively cheap but flavorful.  Wild mushrooms would be great in this though.
***I like to do half milk and half stock.  You could also use cream, but I'm cheap.
****Oddly, I only had corn starch on hand, which results in what I think of as a sort of shellacked finish to the sauce and a slightly more gelatinous texture (it's really not that bad even though I made it sound horrid).  

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Cornucopia of...Food. And Stuff.

I've been going back and forth with cooking since returning home from Boston, but have a few morsels to share that have recently been dominating my diet (sorry for the lack of pictures, but I've been less than motivated to document my daily goings-on, much to, I'm sure, many's dismay). My motto is, if you can't eat at Clover everyday, try this shit out:

1. "When I Was Your Age I Walked 14 Miles in the Cold to Suture My Own Finger that I Ripped Open While Sewing Clothes From Burlap for My 12 Brothers and Sisters" Granola

Because, you know, it's homemade.

Anyhow, after visiting Kim in Boston (always inspiration for new foods and techniques to try out), one of my favorite things I came away with is a new granola recipe, courtesy her friend's blog, The best things about this granola recipe is that it is super easy, has no butter or oil (thus a lot less fattening than most granola), and can be modified according to your own tastes.

I have been halving the recipe, using honey instead of maple syrup (cheaper and more readily available here in IN), and using sliced almonds and pumpkin seeds as my nuts of choice.

The one thing I would say is to play around with the oven temp and bake time, neither of which are stated in the recipe. When I was eating goat cheese and bread while Kim slaved away baking the granola (and our dinner, fish with a dijon mustard sauce, roasted brussels sprouts, and brown rice; see below), we discovered that, I think, 20 minutes was too long. My first go also proved too much, as my granola was a bit...crispy. I did 15-20 minutes at about 300, I think. My most recent attempt was more successful, but I was on the phone, so I have no idea how long I left it in there. If anyone comes up with a good combo of temp and bake time, let us know!

The recipe is here:

2. Broiled Bluefish Dijionnaise

On our way home one evening, we made a spontaneous stop at The Raven used bookstore (on Newbury Street, no less!), and Kim coerced me to use my camera for questionable means that resulted in one of my new favorite (albeit, ridiculously simple) fish recipes. Because I can't cite it (we didn't think to take a reference shot of the title page, obviously), I'll give the minimum.

Broiled Bluefish Dijionnaise (substitute other fish as you see fit, likely white, meaty fish)

1/4 cup mayo
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon thyme or oregano (optional)
4 (6-ounce) pieces of Bluefish fillet (skin on or off)
Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper

Set cast-iron skillet on broiler and heat for 15 minutes. Want the griddle sizzling hot.
Stir mayo and mustard together in small bowl. Crumble in herbs if using.
Season fish with salt and pepper on both sides and paint one side with mustard coating.
Put fish on griddle, painted side up, and broil 3 to 4 minutes, until coating is brown and bubbling. Serve hot.

It says you can also use a Foreman grill, which is hilariously awesome to me, but it says to leave the skin off if doing so. I don't have a cast-iron skillet, so I just use a regular baking dish, which works fine. However, I can attest to the cast-iron skillet producing tastier results.

Kim served this with a side of brown rice and roasted brussels sprouts, which brings me to:

3. Roasted Everything or My New Obsession or How to Eat When You're A Lazy Ass Cook

This requires very few words, other than to say, roasting vegetables really does make them taste better. I avoided this method for years because it seemed like it took So. Damn. Long. But, that is untrue!

Preheat your oven to 350-450 degrees (depending on how audacious you're feeling that night), toss whatever you're roasting in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and pop it in the oven for about 15-25 minutes, depending on what you're roasting. I also like to add sliced onion and roughly chopped garlic to whatever I'm roasting to add extra flavor and round out the meal.

Some favorite roasting options:
- butternut squash (the ultimate delicious roasting item...great on pizzas, orzo, pasta, or by itself...possibly mixed with goat cheese...)
- asparagus (shorter roast time for these little babies)
- brussels sprouts (which sound heinous, but are not. Best if you cut them into smaller pieces to ensure they are tender and thus less bitter. Also, good when you add balsamic vinegar into the tossing mixture)
- fingerling potatoes (I like to add paprika or smoked paprika in addition to salt and pepper. Also good, rosemary.)
- Cauliflower

4. Finally, an experiment in progress: Popovers

I recently made these over break, but they didn't turn out as I hoped. They were sufficiently popover looking (though slightly more brown than I would have hoped because I left them in the oven for too long), but tasted a bit like scrambled eggs...which I think was because I forgot to let the melted butter cool before mixing everything else together, but maybe is just the way popovers taste? I'll be attempting these again, but need more eggs to do it.

4 large eggs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Brush cups of 12-cup nonstick muffin tin with butter.
In large bowl, whisk together the flour, milk, eggs, butter, and salt until only a few lumps remain (do not overmix).
Divide batter among prepared muffin cups and bake until puffed and a deep golden brown, 30 to 35 minute. (Do not open oven door before 30 minutes or the popovers will collapse. Remove 1 popover to check that the underside is browned.) Serve immediately.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Brits vs. Americans...

While attempting to synthesize and log notes on intergroup and group processes, I had Julie and Julia on in the background (marking the umpteenth time I've watched this movie), which, of course, made me wish I was cooking (or blogging) rather than studying. This, then, made me absolutely determined to do some real cooking this fall. For whatever reason, maybe because I just learned that Yorkshire pudding isn't pudding at all but rather very much an American popover, I have decided to tackle the former first. And a souffle. (Mmm. Souffle.)

Have I attempted one yet? No. Why am I mentioning it here? Because it's (fairly) well-established that committing oneself publicly in writing increases the likelihood that the behavior will occur. So, to the 1.5 people that maybe still possibly read this blog, there you have it. You have roughly 4 weeks to prepare yourself for this foodie shit to get crazy. Yo.

*I just noticed the difference between Yorkshire pudding and a popover is a matter of national origin, but so too are the psychological domains flippantly mentioned at the beginning of this post. This was completely unintentional, but still awesome.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

That's what happens when you try to post at midnight.

Fellow food lovers: I'm sorry I barraged you with family photos. I meant to post those to our family/personal blog, but alas, I woke to find I had shared them with you all instead! I do hope you have a Happy Easter, and eat something delicious. If you haven't discovered the food blog Smitten Kitchen yet, I commend it to you -- make some of her strawberry rhubarb compote to celebrate spring!

Happy Easter!