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January 2009 Archives

Muffuletta

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Before I start today, I just wanted to mention that today is the one year birthday of The Food in my Beard! Thanks everyone for showing so much support! I really wanted to have the rumored new layout and blog software up today, but it doesn't look like that is going to happen yet. The design team and I are working 'round the clock to get it together for you guys and I really think people are going to be happy with it. I myself am VERY excited! I am going to make a bold claim that you will be seeing that one week from Monday. Now on with the post!

I thought a little more about the muffulettas last night and I realized how simple this sandwich is. To people who have never had one, it won't seem like that big of a deal. The key to the muffuletta is making it as traditional and perfect as possible. It seems like just some Italian meats and cheeses, olive salad, and big round Italian bread, but when these 3 things come together in perfect harmony it becomes something greater. This is why we took such effort making the bread and olive salad. You can't get anything in Bermuda that comes close to the proper bread, and without this bread, it simply is not a muffuletta. Anyway, less talkie, more fetchie.





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Giardiniera and Muffuletta Loaf

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I am at a loss sitting here trying to write the intro to part 1 of my Muffuletta post. This sandwich has such history and people from New Orleans are very passionate about it. Meanwhile here I am, basically a noob in the Muffuletta world trying to impart wisdom? A friend of ours here on the Island is from New Orleans and we have been talking about getting together to try our hand at making our own since we got here. Well since now Donna will be leaving in just a few days we finally decided last weekend that it was time to get to it. She oversaw the making of the sandwiches and at the end of the day gave the thumbs up. Which i think legitimized our sandwiches a bit! These were in fact authentic Muffulettas. Today I am going to show the giardiniera, an ingredient in the olive salad, and the cooking of the Muffuletta Loaf.





Groundhog Day re-post

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Hey everyone! I had a different post I was writing for today, but it wasn't coming together properly, so I decided to hold it off for a bit. This made me realize, though, that Groundhog Day (Mandi's favorite holiday) is this Monday! I am glad I remembered because I wanted to share this old post from last year with everyone. Now I know I have been re-posting a lot lately, but I purposely left this one out of the end of year countdown so that I could put it up today. After this one I swear there will be no more re-posts for awhile. I am pretty proud of this post because it is my 3rd post ever and I think it can contend with some of the stuff I am doing now. Also it's only been viewed about 60 times so I'm sure most people haven't seen it. From February 4th 2008 its Groundhog's Day and Superbowl.

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Fluffy Ricotta Pancakes

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With that pasta I made yesterday, everything was from our "pantry" meaning things we tend to have lying around the house in the cabinet or freezer. Everything except the ricotta. For some reason that night I felt the need to go out to the store solely for a tub of ricotta that we were only going to be using a few spoonfuls of. So now what? I love ricotta and didn't want it to go to waste. Ive lost more ricotta in my fridge than I like to admit. There has been a recipe bouncing around the interwebs recently for ricotta pancakes with lemon curd. Even my sworn rival got in on some curd action. I first saw these pancakes from Bittman a while back and had always wanted to make them and I thought this would be the perfect time. I try to stay away from posting recipes that a bunch of blogs have just done, but I had the ricotta, and these just look so damn delicious, I couldn't say no. I also have added a fun thing to do with that leftover curd!





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Baked Ziti Variation

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A pretty simple recipe for you today. I know it's 2 pastas in a row, but this works out best for my schedule for the week, and I am definitely excited for this week of posts. Also, this is the totally opposite spectrum of pastas. Friday was the innovative and wacky coffee pasta with a cream sauce. Today is a tweak on a traditional Italian-American dish with tomato sauce. We made it with all pantry items one night when we were craving a cheesy pasta home-style comfort meal. I wasn't even gonna post it cause it is so simple, but it was delicious, and isn't that the point of this website? Stay tuned for a fun week of posts! Later this week is the blog's birthday!





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Buzzed Pasta with Coffee Smoked Scallops

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I am pretty excited today. I am excited because I have an original recipe to share with everyone. I am also excited because I am all hopped up on caffeine. I ate this meal last night and I can still feel it coursing through my bloodstream. Coffee coffee coffee coffee. I got this idea from that Rachael Ray Iron chef where she cooks the pasta in a boiling pot of wine. "What else can I cook pasta in?" I thought to myself. Coffee coffee coffee was the answer. But what could possibly pair with coffee pasta? Well what do you have coffee with? Cream. I also had an ancho chile coffee rubbed steak once so I knew that some heat would go nicely. The rest of the meal came together from Mandi and me searching the web for savory coffee applications. We saw a list of pairings from battle coffee on iron chef and ran with it. Cat Cora made some coffee smoked scallops and I thought they would fit well. But how am I gonna smoke a scallop?....





Jamie Oliver's Lamb Shank Pie

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Jamie Jamie Jamie. What are we going to do with you? I really like your ideals about fresh and natural food, your TV shows where you make awesome dishes from the farm, and of course, your relaxed and silly attitude. Your cookbooks are great, a ton of recipes, beautiful pictures, neat ideas, and long intros describing what each dish means to you. You inspire Mandi and me to cook all the time. Unfortunately, we only have a 50% success rate with your recipes!!!!! FIFTY PERCENT!?!?! I would say, on average, we have about a 93% success rate doing anything in the kitchen. So what's the deal, Jamie? 50% is pretty dismal. Your good recipes are always amazing; we use your green curry paste all the time. But the ones that fell flat tend to feel unfinished to me. You were almost there ,Jamie, why didn't you keep going? This dish in my opinion is an example of an unfinished recipe by him. If he took it a bit further, it could have been amazing. If the shanks braised a bit longer, or if there was a better balance of flavors, the end result could have been much better. As it currently stands in his book "Cook with Jamie" it is a one note meal with tough, chewy, gamey lamb shanks and not much flavor. It's a shame because it looks so cool





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Roasted Red Pepper Garbanzo Bean Dip

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Anytime you're having a get-together dips can be a tasty, easy option. Most of the time they can be made in advance; and sometimes they get even better with a little time to sit. This dip's original destiny was gonna be hummus; but when I went to the store the other day there was no tahini in stock. And since I'm pretty sure that you cant call something hummus without tahini... we'll just call this a roasted red pepper garbanzo bean dip. This would be perfect to bring to a superbowl party or to celebrate an award you just won. That is if you hadn't been snubbed and not even nominated for the award... hmmm bitter? Well regardless, make this for your superbowl party and you will please all your friends, meatheads and veggie-lovers alike! You will be safe wherever you bring it, cause all white people like hummus.





Pork Belly Risotto

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When I was in New York recently, I went to an Italian restaurant called Bocca. I had a really delicious octopus appetizer, but my meal was the best part. When I saw short rib risotto on the menu I knew I had to get it. This is probably Mandi's ultimate menu find and she would have gotten it had she been there. It was really tasty and as I was eating it I was also studying the flavors so I could bring it to her like a Pachuca Sunrise.

Now, I know I have been making a lot of slow cooked and braised meats in the past month or so, but like Jacques Pepin, I make no apologies for my food related activities. During this time of the year, I CRAVE this type of food. It is warm, comforting, and makes you forget about everything else. This meal was a real winner and was actually pretty easy! (I know I say this all the time and no one agrees with me.)

The dish from the restaurant was short rib, but I just made short ribs twice recently, and also there was some really fresh and delicious looking pork belly at the store so I made the swap. Another difference was that the star of the dish at Bocca was Barolo wine. At home we used Chianti and though we used a lot, we could have put it a little more to intensify the flavor and color. Even with these two subs, this dish was fantastic and I urge everyone to make it!





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Mandi's Hoagie Post

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I don't remember my first day of school. I don't remember the first time I rode a bike or drove a car. I don't even remember my first kiss to tell you the truth (as disturbing as that may be). I do, however, remember the first time I ate an Italian hoagie. My Nanny took me and my sister to the grocery store and we bought every kind of Italian meat imaginable. She was very specific with what kinds of meats and cheeses she wanted and I remember wondering why we needed so many kinds. We assembled our sandwiches and took them down to the creek near her house and ate them along the water. Then Angela and I went down and splashed around till dark. The hoagie was, of course, fantastic.

South Philly is filled to the brim with little delis where you can purchase the most delectable hoagies, grinders, and cheesesteaks imaginable. But generally speaking, I prefer to make hoagies myself. I've mentioned in the past how I worked in a snackbar for three years during highschool, so I've made more hoagies than I can count. But this past Christmas, while I was home, I set out on a mission to make my ULTIMATE Italian hoagie. I used nothing but the freshest, most beautiful, South Philly ingredients and documented my quest along the way.





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Quiz - Food Raps

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Note from Dan: This is a guest quiz from my good friend Mike. You may know Mike from such posts as New Years Eve 2007, Cookin' up some Quack, and Chimi-Turkey. A few weeks ago, Mike and I were joking about some funny lines from rappers about food. Like most quizzes on TFIMB, this one starts out with some easy ones, but gets really hard at the end! My score was a 29 out of 50. think you can beat that? Make sure you comment and let me know how you did. I'm interested in some of my friends scores. Matty, Nick, Kel? What did you get? Anyway, here is Mike... eating beef jerky in front of the oldest monitor in history.

Since the beginning of time, (well, the beginning of rap music anyway) emcees and song writers have always felt the need to incorporate food into their lyrics. From having entire songs dedicated to bad meals at a friends' house, to saying you still eat at Taco Bell after all the 'glam' and fame you have, let's face it, these lyrics have become a staple to rap music. Some rappers choose not to be so literal, and like to use various vegetables or food items to represent money or drugs. Several main stream rappers think it's a good idea to do this several times in a song, and still get away with being 'amazing.'

Hearing these silly lyrics not only makes me laugh, but it makes me think of my good friend Dan and his delicious food blog. I thought it would be fun to share some of these lyrics with you all, and to quiz you at the same time. Have fun, and remember that you need to freestyle the answers (the artist and the song name). For those who don't know what I mean, it means this: the answers have to come from your head, not google.

There are a few repeat rappers, ---- means a beeped out a swear, but ____ means they said their own name. There are still some swears and drug references in here so proceed with caution. There are also NO Beastie Boys because they were already EXTENSIVELY covered here.

You get 1 point for naming the ARTIST, and 1 point for naming the SONG

Scores:
36 - 50 = O.G.
26 - 35 = Baaaaallllin'
16 - 25 = Your just layin' in the cut
10 - 15 = You're fallin' off
0 - 9 = Are you talkin'? PSHHH Whatever

Click below to start!!!

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Buffalo Wings

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This is going to be a hard sell for a lot of people who live in cities where great wings can be had just about anywhere, but I am telling you, making buffalo wings yourself is a fun and delicious activity! It is also much cheaper than ordering them. Plus you know where the chicken came from(a farm instead of a factory perhaps?) Want to have a football party for the playoffs or Superbowl? Why not break these out and impress your friends with the fact that they are homemade. For me, it's a bit more obvious why I make them. I can't get a decent buffalo wing in Bermuda. I miss the days of 10 cent wings at John Brewers Tavern 5 minutes from Bentley. It isn't a diss on Bermuda really, I have had some ok BBQ flavored wings here but I don't think I have ever even seen the word buffalo on any menu. These pics are from a few weeks ago, before I went away for Christmas. Gareth and David came over for some wings and onion straws and we all pigged out on bar food!   --- Side note, we broke 100 on facebook this morning!!!  Still not a member?  Click over on the upper left there to join!





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Shredded Beef Ravioli and Fried Mac and Cheese

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My friend Tina (John's girlfriend) was very hospitable when I was home in Western Mass. during Christmas. She let me eat her food, drink her alcohol, and even sleep on the couch one night that John and I were too drunk to drive home. In exchange for all this niceness, I felt that cooking her a meal was in order. When I started asking her what she wanted, I found out that her Dad is a farmer and has a bunch of cows and chickens out in Maynard, MA. (Is this the right town? I forget.) She told me he had fresh meat and she could pick some up that morning! This was VERY exciting to me! I got a pot roast from him and with John's help, planned a menu for the night. Unfortunately, when we were almost done cooking, Tina got a call from work. She had to run out and investigate a crime scene! (Just like on TV!) John and I finished the meal and ate it with Steph and Tina's roommate, Crissy. Tina got some leftovers, but I still feel bad that she had to leave. Anyway, the meat was delicious and everything was fun to make. Thanks again, Tina!





Tortellini Soup, Where's the Grape?

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Most people will remember the tortellini post from a few months back, if not, definitely check it out. Today I will put to rest all of your questions about where those little pockets of awesome end up, and the especially controversial issue of the grape! First of all, my mom is too busy making gallons upon gallons of soup to take pictures of it. She needs to make enough for 30 people! Because of that, I recreated the soup a few days later at Kim's house so I could get these pictures. It is just a simple chicken soup that complements the flavors of the tortellini perfectly. But before I get into that recipe, let me talk about what is on everybody's mind...





Wallpapers

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Yummy wallpapers! I am really happy with this group and have already had a few on my screen for a while! I have even gotten comments on them from people walking by. Some of the bottom ones do not have dual monitor versions, but if you choose the dual monitor snowflake one, it puts one on each screen. Remember to choose "tile" for dual monitors, people. Also, if you are new to the site, click on the wallpaper tab on the left to check out some older ones. I always say this, but people don't listen, so I will say it again - Let me know which ones you use!!! On a personal note, thanks for your concern about me being sick. I'm fine, really, especially after some really spicy chili last night. Today for lunch I am going to eat spicy thai and I think that will complete the road to recovery. Why do spicy foods heal me so well???





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Chimi-Turkey Apres-Ski

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I'm sitting at home right now, out sick from work. That's why the post is a bit late. Bittman was on the today show so that's kinda cool. I'm probably sick from partying and running around New England for the past 2 weeks, but that's another story.

One of the things I was doing those past 2 weeks was snowboarding in Vermont. My friend Steph got a turkey from her job in early December and never had a chance to use it over the holidays so she brought it to the condo. Everyone seemed kind of skeptical about eating it because they were sick of holiday turkey and flavors. "No mash" was one request. People pretty much said they wanted it to taste like "not Thanksgiving." I decided to make a chimichurri sauce and cornbread to go with it. Originally I was also going to make hassleback potatoes that I've been seeing on food network lately but we had very limited oven space so last minute I reverted to a simple bacon and potato hash.





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Pork Tenderloin with Apples and Grapes

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And we're back! Happy New Year everyone. January 2009 is a very exciting time for The Food in my Beard. Later this month I will be rolling out the new website backend and design just in time for the site's first birthday! Stay tuned because last night I dreamt that I was a seagull flying above the ocean. Then I dove down into the water and swam with the dolphins. I was two animals at once which means good things are coming... good things are coming. (I'm not THAT weird, it's a Grandma's Boy reference)

Anyways, back to the post at hand. New Year's Eve was a very casual and small event for me. In fact, I was only with the design team! We got together at Mt. Snow in Vermont and cooked a nice dinner and had a really chill night. When we were trying to figure out what to make earlier in the week, I looked up some lucky things to eat. Many people say black eyed peas on New Year's Day is lucky. We went with pork because a pig can not look backwards and therefore this symbolizes looking forward in life. It is also lucky to eat 13 grapes on New Year's Day. We got a recipe with grapes in it for New Year's Eve, and then ate our 13 grapes after midnight. This is a truly retro recipe, the paper I was reading it off looked like it was 40 years old, but like any classic, the flavors went together beautifully. Over time this recipe hasn't aged and if you make it today you will be pleased.





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