Now that school is over I can focus on the more important things in life… FOOD!
I’ve been making an effort to cook more and eat out/carry out less. I’ve been making a guideline of meals for the week. I say guideline because sometimes the grocery store doesn’t have everything I need, and I have to be a little creative.
Anyway, here are a few favorites from the last week. There were some other winners in there but I usually eat my food before I remember to take a picture of it. I’m really going to try to make an effort to be better about that, especially when my CSA pickups start. I’m very excited to have oodles of organic veggies at my disposal for a full 18 weeks. Thanks BaltimOrganic and Charm City Yoga!
Now, on with the eats!
Rustic Apple Tart – Food Network: The Neelys
I don’t usually bake, mostly because I have more of a taste for savory foods rather than sweet ones. Dan’s tastes however are quite different. When it comes to breakfast, he’s all about the sweets. About a week ago he made the mistake (or maybe it wasn’t a mistake) of posting the following on his Facebook wall: “LET IT BE KNOWN: I would eat anything the Neely’s put in front of me.” So I did what any reasonable Food Network obsessed person would do. I started looking up recipes and settled on something simple and sweet to make. I think Dan liked it… he ate 95% of it himself.
The thing I liked the most about this recipe… it was fairly easy to make. Just make sure you have parchment paper. I didn’t and the hardest part was transferring the tart to the cooling rack. I think I used two spatulas and the darn thing still cracked a little.
Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Crepes – Food Network: Alton Brown (Good Eats)
I love crepes. One of my favorite places to eat them is Sofi’s Crepes in downtown Baltimore. As much as I love them, I’ve never had the gull to try and make them myself. This all changed one Sunday morning (I seem to be extra inspired to make sweets in the mornings). Again, I was looking for something to make Dan for breakfast. I didn’t want to just make bacon and eggs, yet again so; I started looking for different pancake recipes. Somewhere between apple buckwheat, and sweet potato, I found Alton Brown’s Crepe recipe. I opted for the sweeter version as I already had Nutella and bananas on hand.
I was pretty thrilled to use my awesome blender for the second time in the almost year we’ve had it. Maybe I fell asleep when watching other cooking shows, but I never realized that the crepe batter was combined via blender. Either way, after waiting for it to chill in the fridge for an hour, I prepared myself for the crepe making. And as long as you have a good nonstick pan, you don’t need very much butter. I found that I could get away with only adding a dab of butter every other crepe and I had no sticking problems. The process was kind of like pancakes. You know how the first one always sucks? Well I think the same goes for crepes. The first one was less than appetizing and smothered in butter (hey, you never know how much you need until you try, right?). So I sat it to the side and prayed the rest would restore my confidence. And surprisingly they did! I flipped each crepe with ease and piled them up for filling later.
Once all crepes were made I spread each one with a bit of Nutella and topped them with thinly sliced bananas before folding them into quarters. They were delicious. I’m most definitely making crepes again.
Jap Chae – Steamy Kitchen: Jaden Hair
I love Jaden Hair. I discovered her food blog Steamy Kitchen, I don’t know how long ago. And recently I’ve been spending a lot of time browsing the recipes on her newer site, New Asian Cuisine. There are a ton of soups on that site that I’m absolutely dying to make. Anyway, back to the Steamy Kitch… I’m Korean by blood, but I’m a Korean adopted at 5 months by American parents of Irish, German, and Italian descent. So I’m what the Asians call a “banana” or a “twinkie,” yellow on the outside, white on the inside. I’ve always been curious about Asian food, particularly Korean food. In fact, I was probably 19 or 20 before I ever had my first taste of Korean food. As I mentioned earlier, I’m a savory gal. So any opportunities to have a savory breakfast over a sweet one, I’m in. When I found this recipe for Jap Chae I couldn’t resist. I probably make it about once every month. It’s full of things I love, and damn is it tasty.
I’ve found that this recipe is very flexible. I usually use Saifun or mung bean noodles instead of those made from sweet potato. I also use just about any kind of mushroom I can find. And depending on the contents of the fridge and the quality of the produce in the store, I will occasionally pass up the green onions and just add a little extra yellow onion. Either way it’s tasty. One batch of this (made with one bundle of Saifun) usually lasts me a good three lunches. So it’s a great meal to make at the beginning of the week if you’re like me and dread packing something for lunch every day but don’t want to eat out either.
Blackened Salmon – Food Network: Aaron McCargo Jr.
Have I mentioned I’m getting married in September? Even scarier, I have a dress fitting and alterations appointment next week. This is (of course) following almost two weeks of nonstop carry out and fast food thanks to the end of semester rush. So I’m attempting to quickly recover and get myself back on track. Which means: no soda, no snacking unless it’s a veg, small breakfast, low calorie lunch, and lots of protein for dinner.
In an attempt to plan some dress-fitting-friendly dinners, I bought a big 1.5 lb slab of salmon at the grocery store. Dan is somewhat of a picky eater when it comes to fish. He loves his sushi, but will only occasionally eat cooked fish, and when he does it’s only salmon. In fact when I told him we were having fish for dinner he passed. When I clarified and said it was salmon he changed his tune. Salmon does not constitute fish in his mind. I wanted to find a recipe that was easy, and didn’t have a lot of goofy ingredients involved. So I decided not to make the bleu cheese sauce with this dish. And no worries, it was just as tasty without it.
I’m a huge fan of searing proteins in a blazing hot pan and letting them finish in the oven. That’s how I cook my steaks, and apparently that’s how I like my salmon. The only problem is there’s a huge price difference between non-oven-safe cookware and oven-safe cookware. I have about 0 plain steel pans that can go straight from stove to oven. I am of course hoping this will be remedied in the future. But in the meantime I find that I heavily rely on my cast iron pan and double-dutch oven. If you’re not familiar with the double-dutch oven the lid does not have a nob handle and doubles as a small pan which is very handy. Moreover, I highly recommend that everyone own a cast iron pan. I use mine far more than I ever dreamed. And, seeing as how it’s the only oven-safe pan I own, it’s extremely valuable. They’re non-stick, easy to clean, easy to maintain, and will last virtually forever. Everyone should own at least one piece of cast iron… everyone!
Kale Chips – Food Network: The Neelys
Keeping with the healthy theme, I decided to take another whack at kale chips. Kale is probably my favorite green ever. So having them in easy snack-able form is beyond awesome. My Dad came over a few minutes after I took them out of the oven. Even he liked them.