August 31, 2011

Cilantro Lime Grilled Fruit with Challah and Marscapone

Grilled fruit is a game changer.  Ever since I saw Alton Brown's episode on grilling, where he ended with fruit kabobs utilizing the last heat from the coals, I've been obsessed.  No fruit is safe; I've tried pineapple spears, stone fruit, lemons and limes for topping meat, and whole bananas.  So on kebab night (oh my lord spiedis straight from Binghamton, NY), I decided to switch it up with kebab strawberries!  A simple syrup infused with lime and cilantro is the star of this easy summer dessert.

Cilantro and Lime in EVERY Bite!

Grilled Corn with Garlicky Chipotle Butter

Goodness, I love summer corn.  Grilled corn topped with a melted butter sauce is typical on our family table for Sunday night dinner.  The charred sweet corn goes great with a garlicky spicy melted butter.

Grilled Sweet Corn with a little Spicy Kick!

Grilled Sweet Potatoes

After my yoga class the other day, I heard a couple of girls talking about grilling sweet potatoes.  Despite the fact I hate all things root vegetable, I knew my family would love it so I had to bring it home.  The trick to getting it just right is to parboil the potatoes before slicing into grill-friendly wedges.

August 11, 2011

Warm Corn and Tomato Salad

When thinking of what to pair with the Bacon-wrapped Mahi Mahi, I knew I needed something citrus-based to cut the fat of the bacon and keep the dish light yet savory.  Fresh corn and tomatoes help deliver the bright flavor.

Bacon-wrapped Mahi Mahi

According to Emeril, pork fat rules!  So, naturally bacon can only make fish taste more delicious.  This was a creation after a long day of work, where I was watching bacon sizzling on food network.  I immediately jumped up and tried to figure out what I could wrap in bacon.  I chose the mahi mahi in my fridge, a firm white fish that will stand up to a lot of strong flavors.

Spinach and Goat Cheese Pizza with Roasted Garlic

I recently joined a yoga studio next to a whole foods (cliche, I know).  This is a dangerous combination, but it reminded me of this AMAZING frozen pizza crust they sell.  It's a great versatile product that doesn't have the typical preservatives found in ready-made crusts.  I created a "white sauce" with crushed roasted garlic and topped it with caramelized onions, spinach, and goat cheese.

Corn and Pineapple Salsa

Salsa is a great low calorie way to add a lot of flavor.  While tomatoes are great around here, I love east coast corn and wanted to try to incorporate it into a salsa.  Raw corn adds crunch and sweetness, but it could be charred over the grill.  Pineapple and avocado round out this fabulous topping for fish.

August 05, 2011

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

I am so proud to be the plant-mommy of a basil plant.  Whenever it's getting a little too big, I break out the food processor and make a huge batch of pesto to freeze.  As much as I love garlicky cheesey basil goodness, I thought I should branch out a little after reading a great article about pesto in Saveur.  Sun-dried tomatoes add a sweet note so I balanced it with a little crushed red pepper.   This is great with pasta with a spoonful of cream cheese or as an accompaniment to scrambled eggs.

Roasted Red Peppers

Whoever designed my kitchen was an idiot.  The gas stove is right under the smoke alarm, which means if I ever even want to turn it on I have to turn on both the stove fan and a giant fan we've put on the fridge directed right at the smoke alarm.  Hence, using the flame on the gas stove to roast red peppers or corn is out of the question without a visit from firemen.

When red peppers went on sale, I was bound and determined to finally attempt to make my own roasted red peppers, alarm be damned!  Instead of the stove top, I used a super hot oven to blister the skins.

Homemade Spinach Pasta with Lemon Artichoke Cream Sauce

My favorite toy I ever got for Christmas was not a barbie or a lego set, it was a pasta roller attachment for my stand mixer two years ago.  The funny thing - I didn't want it originally for pasta, it was for pierogis!  I hated rolling out the especially springy dough and thought that would be the easiest way to mass produce pierogis and not leave any filling behind.  While I still have not been able to do that, I have learned a thing or two about making pasta!

Frozen chopped spinach is the star of this dish for its flavor, color, and saved time!  Frozen vegetables are not only a great convenience, because they are flash frozen at their ripest they retain fresh flavor.  I always keep frozen corn, peas, edamame, and broccoli in my freezer for any dish that may require a quick vegetable addition.  In this instance, I also took advantage of frozen artichokes.  These are a great option because fresh artichokes are a pain to prepare and jarred marinated artichokes are a little too powerful to combine in light sauces.

July 31, 2011

Cucumber Gazpacho

In the same vein of the recent zucchini dishes, cucumber has been abundant in the local produce bins.  The 90+ degree weather calls for cold meals, so I came up with a light cucumber gazpacho with coconut milk and greek yogurt to keep it light and tangy.  After making the refreshing base, very finely diced pepper, cucumber, shallots, and celery are added for crunchy texture.  The soup is topped off with crushed and toasted macadamia nuts.

Zucchini Fritters

Caught in the nostalgia of Zucchini Bread, I ended up with two extra cups of shredded zucchini.  The shape and texture reminded me of the packaged shredded potato for homefries, which got my wheels turning from homefries to latkes to fritters!  Zucchini fritters!

Zucchini Bread

Nothing makes me happier than walking into the grocery store and seeing a local produce bin.  The seasonal produce will be at its freshest due to the shorter farm-to-table distance.  Bonus - you can brag about how you care about the environment and call yourself a locavore!  Of course, I will have to call you loco while snickering into a bite of my delicious quick bread.

Zucchini is a summer squash that I love sliced thinly length-wise and grilled.  Despite being treated like a veggie, it is botanically an immature fruit, being the ovary of the oft-sought zucchini flower.  As such, it does well in sweet dishes like this quick bread.

This recipe is a bit of a family heirloom, holding a special place in the cracked yellow recipe box in our cookbook cabinet.  One of my favorite memories is the time that my mother, sister, and I attempted to make this bread one snow day.  We dropped a whole bowl of grated zucchini, went to the grocery store to get more, then dropped a whole carton of eggs after we got back and had to go to the 7-11 to get more eggs!  It was a giggly hott mess, but the bread still turned out delicious!  I didn't mess with the recipe one bit out of nostalgia, although feel free to experiment with any combination of vegetables, fruits, or spices.

July 24, 2011

Roasted Garlic

I’m a garlic lover, it’s no secret.  When a recipe will call for one or two cloves, I want to throw the whole darn head in the pot.   Roasted garlic is just that: and entire head of garlic roasted until it takes on a creamy texture and a subtly sweet taste.

Roasted Garlic Tzatziki

Despite the fact yogurt is so good for you, I have always hated it.  Be it the texture, the sour tang, or the idea that I’m eating bacteria (that I swear I can feel moving) but it just has never been my thing.  However, I have the uncanny ability to eat yogurt ONLY if all liquid has been removed and replaced by garlic and lemon juice.  Hence, this non-yogurt eater is a huge tzatziki fan!

Tzatziki has turned into one of my favorite summer time recipes.   Shredded cucumber, mint, parsley, and lemon give the sauce its fresh taste.  It’s a healthier alternative to onion dip with the garlic and goes great as a side for grilled or roasted lamb.  The only problem with tzatziki is a heavy hand while adding the garlic.  Its a raw sauce, so adding a lot of finely minced garlic will overpower the taste of everything else.  Instead, I roasted an entire head of garlic to impart the flavor of garlic but still let the other ingredients shine.

June 21, 2011

Barbecue PIzza Sauce

I'm a huge proponent for using as many fresh ingredients as possible, including and especially condiments.  Whenever I have time, I like to make a big batch of my favorite sauces instead of having to search through labels at the grocery store for products without processed ingredients.  So I decided to tackle a summertime favorite, barbecue sauce

I did a riff on what I consider barbecue sauce (not a southerner by any means) by using crushed tomatoes instead of ketchup and lots of apple cider vinegar.  After simmering for a couple of hours, the sauce is thick and tangy and great for pizza!

June 20, 2011

Shaved Carrot Salad

Recently, I've gotten really bored with the traditional lettuce salad.  I've been craving crunchy, tangy, and spicy, and certainly not lettuce.  Which is why something like shaved carrot salad is so fantastic for summer.  A tangy wasabi and citrus based dressing compliments the crunch and sweetness of the carrots.

June 16, 2011

Poached Salmon with Balsamic Onion and Mushroom Sauce

I felt like getting a little gourmet after my adventures in pantry raiding, so I picked up mushrooms and one-person suitable slice of salmon after work to inspire myself.  I had Top Chef Masters on while putting away groceries and Traci Des Jardins inspired me with her brown butter balsamic vinaigrette.  I decided to try to poach my fish in a sauce that had some of those flavors and then make a reduced sauce to drizzle over the fish.

June 13, 2011

Pantry Raid! Corn Soup

Yes, pantry raid!  I'm a huge believer in a well stocked kitchen with versatile options.  I'd like to say it's because I adore cooking, but really it's because I get lazy in the kitchen when I get busy everywhere else.  Cooking always relaxes me, so stocking staples mean I get to eat a home cooked meal without the hassle of grocery shopping without a car.

I have a lot of the typical staples like dried pasta, chicken stock, garlic, red onions, bacon, unsalted butter, an impressive collection of spices and dried herbs, and a smattering of frozen fruits and vegetables.  Some of my other favorites include chipotle in adobo, agave nectar (texture of honey without the domineering flavor), wasabi paste, lemon grass paste, granny smith apples, couscous, arborio rice for risotto, 90 second rice packets, different vinegars like apple cider and balsamic, and half and half or cream.  All of my pantry staples are comforting without being boring, which is imperative for pantry cooking.

My final lab rotation report was due last week, making me a 2nd year PhD student and my fridge very bare.  I've been on a corn and chipotle kick recently, so I decided use my supercool lime green immersion blender to make myself a quick dinner of corn soup.

June 06, 2011

Jerk Pork Loin

I can't lie, I'm very intimidated by jerk seasoning.  Ever since a harrowing jerk experience in college where I was reprimanded by a Jamaican chef for drinking water after every bite of his chicken, I've stayed away from all things habanero.  However, I'm not one for being afraid of an ingredient.  It was time to conquer the pepper and the jerk! 

Jamaican jerk spice typically contains really hot peppers like habaneros and scotch bonnets, allspice, and other various spices.  I started reading around, finding what I liked best, and played with my food processor until I got a great wet jerk marinade.  The most important thing is to taste while your making the marinade to ensure you can handle the jerk.

June 02, 2011

Roasted Duck Tacos

I came up with this recipe for Cinco de Mayo with Jose Andres and Rick Bayless in mind. Really flavorful and interesting components mixing together to make something even better.  It combines the roasted duck, the summer creamed corn, the onion and apple quick pickle, and a few fun extras

May 28, 2011

Roasted Duck Leg

My senior year of college, I had duck for the first time.  My friend Brad and I set out to do a french night, complete with french onion soup, poached pears, garlicky roasted potatoes, and duck a l'orange.  It was a fun culinary adventure and we still talk about that meal every time we get together.

When I saw duck legs on the cheap at my market, I literally did a little skip and a gasp.  When I got it home I was too excited to even fuss with spices or marinades, I just wanted some fatty slow-roasted goodness.

Golden-brown and Juicy: The Perfect Roasted Duck Leg

To prepare the duck for roasting, I trimmed off the excess fat and scored the skin.  To score the skin, you make shallow cuts just deep enough to release the fat but not reaching the meat.  The most common way is to do crossing diagonal cuts to create a diamond pattern.  I tucked the extra thigh meat under the leg, topped with salt and pepper, and slow-roasted for 2 hours at 325 F.  After removing from the oven, I rested for 10 minutes to reabsorb the juices.

The resulting leg is succulent and juicy with a crispy skin.  In the summer duck is too rich for me as a stand alone protein, so I pull the meat off and put in salads and tacos.

May 25, 2011

Onion and Green Apple Quick Pickle

Like Snooki, I am a giant fan of pickles.  While I don't deep-throat bread and butters on the regular, I do quick pickle.  Tangy and crunchy quick pickles are perfect for cutting rich dishes while maintaining the crunch and freshness of the fruits and vegetables.  The basic formula is any crunchy veggies and/or fruits, an acid like citrus or vinegar, and any other flavors you want to add.

Today, I tried out an onion and granny smith combo with Latin American flair to go with the roasted duck leg and summer creamed corn.

May 23, 2011

Summer Creamed Corn

As much as I love the convenience of frozen corn, there is nothing better than sweet fresh corn.  Which is why I was so happy to dig into the 6 for $2 corn display at the grocery store and get my shuck on.  While grilled corn with chile lime butter will always be my favorite, there is something to be said for corn that can be a condiment.

Summer Creamed Corn

May 21, 2011

Lemon Basil Tart

Today was a gorgeous sunny (summer?) day, so I went out for a bike ride and gander at the farmers markets in my area. Strawberries, rhubarb, spring greens, and asparagus were all tempting but I had one mission: finally start growing my own herbs! After a quick trip to target for all of my backyard gardening needs here is the result:

Julep Mint, Genovese Basil, and Thyme

I settled on thyme, mint, and genovese basil. Genovese basil has a softer leaf than normal basil and is preferred for pesto. I thought that the softer leaf would be best for combining into fruity summer desserts like lemon tart, one of my favorite unexpected twists.

When it comes to baking I trust Ina Garten and Alton Brown implicitly, so I took an Ina crust and tweaked an Alton Brown lemon curd recipe.

With the curd, I ended up doubling the recipe because there never seems to be enough in typical curd recipes for an 11" tart. On this end, it was impossible to melt two sticks of butter into the egg, sugar, and lemon after the double broiler. I ended up pouring the thickened mixture into a sauce pan on EXTREMELY LOW HEAT and whisked in the butter that way.  It was quite an indulgence, watching two sticks of butter melt into the curd.  I think I avoided any curdled eggs, but to be safe I could have strained the mixture through a sieve.

I finely chopped three large leaves of my lovely new basil plant and added at the end off the heat to avoid any wilted bitter herb taste.  The result is a light basil flavor with pretty green flecks throughout the tart.

Lemon Basil Tart
Gorgeous day produced a gorgeous and delicious tart!  Now to deal with ten leftover egg whites . . .

May 03, 2011

Welcome to Everything in the Kitchen Sink!

 Every Sunday morning growing up, I would go to Safeway with my Dad. My favorite aisle was the spice aisle where I would stand in awe, wondering how all of these fragrant mysteries could be used. I would obsessively pick out the best produce, sifting through entire bins comparing every single fruit and vegetable. I watched cooking shows on public TV on lazy weekend afternoons and dog-eared my favorite recipes in Gourmet and Bon Appetit. When I got tired of microwave pizza before ballet, I begged to learn how to make scrambled eggs all by myself. I always wanted to help in the kitchen and couldn’t get enough.

Years later, I'm a 20-something PhD student who hasn’t lost her childhood wonder for all things culinary. I love clean, healthy food with a lot of flavor and no recipes. If there is something I can make myself, I will dive right in regardless of difficulty, absurdity, or kitchen destruction. I love food and people seem to love the food I make.

So, I came to the question: Why not? Why not start a food blog? I love sharing my food, so why not share my food ideas?

And thus, Everything in the Kitchen Sink was born. It’s going to be delicious and it's going to be messy!

I think we're going to need a bigger sink...
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