Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Suck it up and swallow!

I remember THE first date.  I was a nervous mess with a heart beat that felt like the rush one would get from consuming a refrigerated shelf of energy drinks. Dating never gets easy.  It's the opportunity for your little subconscious to tell your already self-conscious brain "how on earth did you end up here again?".  It is all horrible from beginning to end, some dudes just don't have a clue.  Those that do, take you for sushi.

As a person with a self-proclaimed allergy to anything seafood, sushi was perhaps the most incredibly difficult thing to swallow on a first date. If you're thinking that you could probably name a few worse things to swallow on a first date, you may be right.  But for me, it was raw fish.  I was not about to ruin a first impression with a wee little phobia.  After all, I am strong and this is supposed to be the new me! That was four years ago.  There is not a moment that goes by that I don't think about sushi, that first date, or how nothing else since Mr.Sushi Man has ever exceeded my expectations. 

That memory of mine and my addiction to sushi can be fixed and eased in one simple dish from Epicurious, the "California Roll" Salad (link below). It is a deconstructed sushi roll that can satisfy the deepest, hardest, must-eat-sushi craving.   I have had it served up as a side dish with Chinese BBQ ribs or a skirt steak.  I have enjoyed it a la carte, followed the recipe step by step, or even went off the deep end of creativity.  Although the dish symbolically looks like a sushi roll that fell apart the way my relationship did, it is still THE most interesting, exciting, and crave-worthy item I have ever had.



Deconstructed Sushi Roll:
Surimi, Sushi Rice, Sea Weed, Sesame Seeds, Scallions, Cilantro, and a few mango scraps.
Dressing: Soy Sauce, Rice Vinegar, Sriracha, Ginger Juice, Brown Sugar, and Lime Juice

(This "tropical" version is my own interpretation- and items that were in the fridge.  I recommend trying the Epicurious version first and then doing your own spin off version with your favorite special sushi roll ingredients.)

Epicurious "California Roll" Salad Recipe





Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Good things come to those who wait...

Here is the funny thing about love: it's just like a meringue.  If you have ever tried your luck at a relationship or a meringue recipe you know that effort is key.  My very dear friend said to me, "I would always encourage any of my girlfriends to be independent but that was before I knew that a relationship just requires a lot of effort."     

The idea for these delicious colorful pops of hollow fluff that melt in your mouth were ripped right from the pages of Martha Stewart Living.  Luckily, my brilliant mother taught me another invaluable lesson; meringues soak up moisture and Martha used a gel coloring which would  never dry to perfection. Unless of course, your Martha Stewart.  The solution: watered down gel coloring.  The patience in this delectable relationship of sugar and eggs is in the prep. Every utensil was meticulously cleaned before touching a single egg white and each of those egg whites were carefully separated from their yolk. Meringues are not made in a minute. The longer they stayed in the dry oven the better they became. 

If you can understand a recipe, learn to cook it, then perfect it... then you can understand a man, learn to live happily, then perfect the details.  Although we have the same "ingredients" and require similar special needs, in the end our swirls are always different and as individuals we are unique.  You just have to have patience and understanding for one another.  



Almond Flavored Meringue Swirls


As seen in the May 2012 issues of Martha Stewart Living

For Martha's recipe: Meringue Swirls- Martha Stewart Living, May 2012


Friday, June 8, 2012

Bok you!

If only it was as easy as a Men In Black movie to erase the minds of those who have witnessed the unusual, unexpected, or mind blowing shocking turn of events with a small little laser flash.  It is hard to maintain the strong solid image you formerly had after you announce that your relationship has indeed, failed.  At some point everyone forms their own opinions about what went wrong, what you should do, or how to move on.  In addition, being unable to flash erase the exposed tribulations from a mind makes it hard for others to see how the person of your yester-year will ever be good enough for you again.  

Bok choy is seen strictly as a vegetable tossed in any good stir fry and does not need to be revisited.  If  you can, prepare it in a different way and it may be worth trying again in this new setting.  This is not going to be the vegetable stir fry you remember. This vegetable on the menu is ass kicking, flavor punching, grill blasting, and vibrantly new tasting.  The star team players are grilled eggplant and baby bok choy's.  After searing the vegetables with a slight brushing of olive oil, sesame oil, and some S&P I served them up with grilled halibut drizzled in my own version of a Korean BBQ sauce.  This dish gives me the confidence to say:  "I am not to be messed with and  I do know what I am doing."  Now all I need is a black chef coat and some sunglasses.






Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Symbiotic Relationships

My recent love affair with coconut shrimp and it's unusual companion, orange marmalade, is a relationship that I am ready to take the next step in.  I am ready to take it from our casual encounter at the seaside restaurant appetizer menu into the more intimate setting of my kitchen.  I did not read a single recipe or study a box of frozen coated sea critters.  I went with my gut and my pantry.

I prepared three bowls each with their own two ingredient pairings: flour and salt, egg and coconut milk, and the third panko bread crumbs with chopped coconut flakes. Fresh little shrimp got a dip in the flour, egg mix, then coconut breading before the plunge into the searing hot pan generously doused with canola oil.  After 6 minutes, I had done it.

The clear definition of a relationship is the way in which two or more objects or people are connected.  In this regard, you never end a relationship, you simply change the ways in which you were once connected. At this moment in time I feel I have attained a new level in my relationship with coconut shrimp.  I have moved on from the same old repetitive behavior and I have tested my ability to make it on my own.

Coconut Shrimp



Wednesday, May 23, 2012

True Blood

Vampire's suck your blood, drain you, and leave you lifeless.  I often think that relationships can have the same affect. And yes, all relationships do apply here. A very smart man, still in my life, and of the blood I am from, said "it should never be an emotional roller coaster."  It stuck with me.  My life shouldn't be a drama series on HBO.  If it was, I certainly have not see any cold hard Hollywood cash royalties.  I never signed up to be an extra, and if I could cancel my subscription to this freak show I would. I can always jump on Hulu and see if Sookie ever gave in to that handsome Eric.

Tonight I have decided to ward off my own vampire's with the delicious immortal's kryptonite.  Garlic.  Lot's of it.  I roasted 2 large garlic heads in the oven for well over an hour.  When I unwrapped the foil gift of goodness the soft tender cloves were mixed up with olive and a little ricotta. Concurrently, I had tiny little boiler onions melting away in a sauce pan, which had previously seen the liking's of a piece of pancetta. 

With half of a day old baguette, I assembled all these elements and made a white pizza that you could only read about. (Seriously, you could only read this here. I have not been published in a cookbook.  Yet.)  I added fresh mozzarella, ran it through a quick warm up exercise in the oven and loaded my plate with lemon juice soaked arugula, my personal favorite green.   I am certain that garlic flavor this explosive should keep them all away for a long time, or at least for tonight.  On the other hand,  I am grateful for my true blood. 


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"Try de rice, you'll love da rice!"

Most people think of comfort food in the sense of a home cooked meal, one that was typically prepared at Sunday dinners or holiday feasts.  For me, it's curry.   There is a fantastic Thai place in Dallas, De Rice, a little restaurant in a non-distinct plaza shared by a convenience store and an auto shop. There were many reasons why "we", the former couple, liked it.  The food was fantastic, the place was walking distance from our home, and it was "our secret spot".

I want spicy, sweet, peanuts, and cilantro flavors and I want a bowl of it.  In one pan I boil chicken, then shred it.  In another julienned onion, red peppers, and yellow peppers simmered and sizzled to sweet perfection.  In the final large pot where everything will come together I start the sauce.  Olive oil, chunky peanut butter, coconut water,  soy sauce, vinegar, and seasonings.  Towards then end of the sauces life alone in a large pot I kick it up with fresh lime juice.  The seasons included everything in the pantry: curry, paprika, ginger, chili powder, basil, red pepper flakes.   I went crazy until it tasted awesome, then added the veggies and chicken.

It was like Pad Thai peanut noodle sauce and curry chicken had a baby and called it God.  I was so caught up in making the sauce that I forgot to cook a vessel to shower the goodness over.  With no noodles, no rice, and no patience to wait any longer before I enjoy my concoction I plate it and give it a generous helping of fresh chopped cilantro and another quick squeeze of lime juice.  Bite by bite it was so comforting, just like the little place of heaven that was ours. 


Peanut Curry Chicken

Using coconut water instead of coconut milk was a huge success! It was plenty creamy from the peanut butter and saved calories.  Badia brand was a perfect pair in this dish with real coconut pieces.  Love it. 

A Happy Nest

Waking up alone on a rainy morning is never fun.  There were days when rainy mornings meant staying nestled under the covers, giggling, and prolonging our responsibilities to the day ahead just to spend more time together in our nest.   Egg in a nest sounds like a perfect breakfast today, but I am going to cut it short and just put the egg on the nest.

Traditionally this recipes involves buttering the bread and cutting a hole in the center to drop an egg into while in a pan.  Sometimes it is done in muffin pans with bread smashed around each hole like a liner. It looks more impressive than the actual effort it takes, and I do remember making a special version: scrambled egged with tasty additions like red peppers and scallions.   That was for a once very special person.  I have been taught to put a lid over the pan while cooking, it makes the absolute best over-easy egg. Pan steaming it to the best consistency.  Everything always needs a garnish, a bit of  parsley on my seven grain bread, $6 a loaf from whole foods...expensive but so worth it.

I wish I had taken a picture of cutting it open, eating this toast with a runny yolk is food perfection.