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July 2008 Archives

Tomato Bites


As the tomatoes turn red on the plant with each passing day, I wonder what ways I can purely taste the tomato flavor. Aside from just popping a tomato in my mouth, how can I get the utmost taste of the fruits of my labor? Salsa is a pretty obvious choice, but at the moment I could probably make enough salsa for only 3 chips or half a taco. I came up with this idea randomly and made them after work today.

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Avocado Drink

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I sent this article from the New York Times to Mandi and Amy on a Monday at work. Minutes later they were planning on getting together that night and making them. The blaags have been a buzz with avocado recipes and also avocado drinks, so I thought I would join in the fun and post one today. I should also note that posts in the coming weeks will become a bit sporadic. I have tomorrow and Friday off work for Bermuda's cup match, a 2 day cricket game that is a holiday here. Then after that I will be moving into a new apartment so my stuff will be all over the place. The kitchen is a huge upgrade though so that will be nice when all this is over.

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Broke account so I broke a sweat
I've bought some things that I sort of regret about now - Modest Mouse

I'm not really that broke, but a few things happened that caused me to have to be creative for a few days last week with my food. Last Tuesday, Mandi and I ate really well all day without spending a dollar! Luckily, because I cook all the time there were ingredients lying around my house, but even if there weren't, these would still be really cheap meals to make.

SIDE RANT - we have been watching the next food network star and enjoying the show somewhat. I take it for what it is and realize that no one on this show could ever touch anyone on top chef. But it is a different show and they are looking for something different then Tom and Padma. Last night I was completely disappointed with the winner and I can't imagine that anyone liked Aaron. He sucked the last 2 weeks and I didn't even think he could possibly win. I was trying to decide if it would be Lisa or Adam the whole episode, they both had way better pilots and are way better in general. I wanted Lisa to win from day one and I am going to be making it my personal goal to contact her and interview her or post one of her recipes. I don't care if it is a year from now and no one even remembers her! YEA LISA GARZA! Mandi and I have sworn off food network before, once when they stopped playing Molto Mario, the first time we saw ultimate recipe showdown or down home with the Neely's, and who could forget the holiday dessert iron chef debacle. This time we really mean it food network! Its over! Well maybe after Jamie and Anne this weekend, THEN it is over.

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What I Ate Last Night


I was planning on posting a post I've been waiting a while to do today, but it requires a clean house. Every night this week I had planned to take the pictures, but my house was never clean enough, so today I present to you, a post I like to call "what I ate for dinner last night."

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Cauliflower Cannelloni


I was craving cauliflower all last week and was excited to see that Jamie would be focusing on it on his upcoming episode. We decided to make the cannelloni dish with a few changes. For one, we just watched the molecular episode of diary of a foodie and wanted to try making the tomato powder. Another was the strange fact that Jamie used canned tomato puree instead of making a sauce for this dish. We had some leftover sauce we had made and decided to mix that with puree so we would have enough. I also thought it odd that Jamie did not pre cook the pasta before stuffing it, I was doubtful it would cook properly in the casserole but wanted to try it anyways.

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Buckwheat Pancakes

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I make breakfast every day that I don't go to work. This means Saturday and Sunday most weeks, and random days sprinkled in here and there. When on a diet, the usual bacon and eggs doesn't really cut it for both weekend days. Neither does the leftover taco ingredient omelet, the breakfast pile, the McDonalds steak egg and cheese clone, or the sausage sandwich with pancakes as bread smothered in high fructose corn syrup also known as fake maple syrup (Figure 1, After click-through) I decided this week to go light for breakfast and make some blueberry buckwheat pancakes. There is a recipe with yeast right on the bag of buckwheat, but I decided to go with an Ellie Krieger recipe I saw her make a few weeks back. Another quick pancake anecdote - I used to hate pancakes all my life until about a year ago when I first made them without using a box, then I realized its pancake mix that I hate, and not actual pancakes.

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Hot Cold, Cold Hot


For some reason soup was the topic of the day. Our normal email group was emailing about soup for like an hour. Didn't anyone realize it is the middle of the summer? It's hot and humid. I don't want soup! But Mandi did. So we compromised on one chilled soup and one hot soup. We had a cayenne ripening in the garden so I thought we could spice up a gazpacho. This made me laugh... hot cold soup. That's when I thought, how can I make the hot soup cold? Mint is a "cool" flavor and I had heard of people using mint with lamb and peas in ravioli/wontons. That's how I came to the finalized dinner of the night. Duo of soups: Hot cold (spicy gazpacho), and cold hot (mint lamb wontons in chicken broth). Food sounds classy if you say "duo".

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Thai Red Curry Burgers

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Summertime. This is my first summer with the blog and it is kind of an interesting situation. On one hand, it's great. I'm making new things all the time and enjoying them with a variety of people who are also sharing awesome food with me. I am being creative about what I cook with regards to how well it can travel and where the actual cooking will take place. And im having a lot of fun! All things that should translate to great blog posts right? Well here is the problem. Going straight from work to a mid week BBQ? whoops! Forgot my camera. Trying to prep a pasta salad in a half hour with guests on my couch? Those pics aren't getting taken. Blogging a friends artichoke fritters? No one likes someone hanging over them taking pictures while they are trying to cook. I've found that I have to be satisfied with what I can get. Most blogs don't take pictures of the whole process, but I do because I love it. I think the food looks great during all stages and I think it is helpful to people to see the different steps. But I have to accept that some days, the pics wont be top quality, or the whole process wont be there. I can still show some great shots and explain the recipe for people. And I can always write some cheesy paragraph explaining why.

In my never ending quest to prove to Mandi that she likes burgers, I came up with the idea of a thai curry burger yesterday. Then Mandi said: "don't you realize that by making taco burgers and curry burgers, you are not proving to me that I like burgers, you are just reminding me that I like tacos and curry." Click below for more pictures and the recipes.

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Strawberries and Science


I have always been interested in the scientific elements of modern cooking, what many people would call "molecular gastronomy", but I never thought I would do any of it myself. Recently after cheering for Richard in the latest top chef, and reading playing with fire and water a lot, I have had the itch. It was actually Mandi who pushed me over the edge to finally buy some of the stuff. One day she was bored at work and kept sending me cool pictures of different plates people had made. It was her who originally found playing with fire and water and she really wanted to start trying some stuff. Finally the packages came in the mail, methylcellulose, sodium alginate, and calcium chloride. A few new salts and a syringe. The first thing we were going to try was sphereification. This is kind of old news and sometimes considered a gimmick these days, but it is one of the easiest methods in this modern cooking world so I thought it would be a fun place to start. Also, even if it isn't quite as cool in the food world anymore, I feel that it still has a place in the emerging "molecular mixology".

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Pool Party


This past weekend we had a fun BBQ at a pool. Amy is housesitting, and had a few people over to take advantage of the sweet pool area at the house. It has a cool bar and refrigerator and an outside bathroom so you don't mess up the house! Unfortunately, I don't have a ton of pictures of the prep that went on at the house. We were having too much fun, I forgot to take them! But there are links/explanations of all the recipes we used.

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Beach Cake


As many of my loyal readers know, it was Mandi's birthday yesterday. Since she has made me some crazy cakes in the past, I decided to try my hand at making one for her. Luckily, I had the design team there to help me decorate it. The cake recipe is from Ina Garten, and can be seen here. The idea for the teddy grams came from a pool cake I had seen online.

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Happy Birthday Mandi!


At Mandi's office, it is the tradition to bring in breakfast for everyone on your birthday. This seems backwards to me and that someone else should bring YOU breakfast, but that's another story. Unsatisfied with the standard donuts and pastries that most people bring in, Mandi needs eggs to have a proper breakfast. So in addition to the massive amounts of planning for the crazy weekend we are about to have, shopping at multiple stores to get all the right ingredients, making cheesesteak filling and buffalo chicken for her pizza / birthday party tonight, me making her a cake, standing on the south east coast trying to literally blow the hurricane off course, and cleaning the apartment for the arrival of the design team(they are somewhere over the Atlantic at this moment), Mandi has to make quiche! Today, (just a few hours ago) Mandi woke at the crack of dawn to begin cooking. It isn't an inconvenience for her, because she loves birthdays and wants to be awake for every hour of hers. This is based on a Paula Deen recipe you can get here. Click below for more!

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Caprese Salad


Caprese salad is a simple and delicious summertime treat.  Traditionally it has only tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, salt, pepper and olive oil.  The key to this salad is having fresh tomatoes which is why I cant wait until mine jump off the vine into something awesome like this.  Over the years, we have changed the way we make it.  We first would do the traditional tomato and mozzarella, with a little red onion, cut them into rounds and line them up in a spiral like you sometimes get at restaurants.  I came to the conclusion that this looks kinda cool at first, but it is cheesy, annoying to do, and harder to eat!  Mandi also found that cucumber adds a great freshness to this salad and makes it even better for summer.  Here is what I like to call Mandi's version of a Caprese salad.

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The Great Gnocchi Debate of 08


Today's post is an extremely exciting, scientific experiment. At Christmas this year we were lucky enough to receive my grandmother's gnocchi recipe. I have the fondest of memories growing up eating these little pillows of heaven. So you can imagine my surprise when we saw that her recipe calls for potato buds instead of normal potatoes! This really got us wondering and Mandi and I decided that it would be a good idea to put them in a head to head competition to see which tasted better, potato buds or the spud itself.  We had made Heidi's recipe before, so we planned to use that as a base recipe.  It started to get crazy when on the morning of the experiment we saw Tyler Florence make gnocchi. We wanted to try his recipe too! That got Mandi's brain going and she decided she wanted to make some colored versions of each recipe to see how that affected the flavor and texture. When it came down to it we couldn't agree on a sauce. I prefer tomato sauce on my gnocchi, but she likes cream... well the whole thing really just continued to snowball and in the end we ended up making four types of gnocchi with two flavors and three sauces...

For all the different gnocchi's, we kept the flour / egg / potato ratio as similar as possible so that we could really judge the potato method. The comparison involved baked potatoes, steamed potatoes, boiled potatoes, and potato buds. Then we colored some of each kind with some spinach and roasted red peppers.  The three sauces were tomato, gorgonzola cream, and thyme butter. This made for a total of 36 possible combinations.  Our impressions on which were best and worst are at the bottom of the post.

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Refreshing Summer Drink


This drink was inspired by a drink Mandi got at KO prime.  From the menu:

Grapes of Wrath
Grey Goose Poire Vodka, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, muddled cucumber & pineapple.

She continually said that this was the best part of her meal.  She wasn't the biggest fan of her bone marrow app (I was), and she has had better pork belly.  We didn't look up the actual drink last night when we attempted to re create it, but what we made was delicious and very similar.  On a side note, I hate muddling and did not muddle this drink.  I think you can get all the flavor from the fruits and mint without bruising and smashing them into a big mess.  This is a great article on mixing drinks and it totally captures my opinions on cocktails.  Be sure to watch the video too! Click below for the recipe for this drink.

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Plant Update


When you last saw my plants, the situation was dismal. The tomatoes had leaf miners and were extremely infected. The cayenne pepper plant had holes in many of the leaves, clearly being eaten by some pest who doesn't mind spicy food. After doing much research online, I decided my best bet was to strip all the leaves from the tomato plants and just hope they survived. I was heading out on vacation to Boston and I didn't tell anyone to water them when I was gone. This was because I did not think they were going to survive anyways and was kind of upset about the whole situation. Just as I was getting into the cab to the airport, I looked over my plants and saw a new leaf on one of the tomatoes! I was shocked and kind of disappointed that they would be left to nature for water purposes for the next week and a half. Well when I got back, I was stunned to see large, green, leafy, and thriving plants in my walkway! My landlord had taken it upon himself to nurse my poor plants back to life! Before I had 4 tomato plants and 2 pepper plants, and now I have 2 tomatos and 1 pepper, so it wasn't a 100% recovery, but it was still really great because I thought they all were goners. Click below for pictures and more.

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