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Monday, August 30, 2010

Bulgur Wheat Salad

Bulgur Wheat Salad

i bought bulgur wheat by accident once. again, the health thing, i came across a soaked grain for bread recipe that called for the use of vital wheat gluten. please, don't ask how a college educated person, one with a degree in journalism with an emphasis in english, could mix up vital wheat gluten with bulgur wheat. i also did NOT bring a grocery list with me that day. don't judge me.

needless to say, the end result was a failure of epic proportions. thankfully the experience didn't turn me off from soaking grains and what's more? i discovered that i like bulgur wheat when used for tabbouleh salad.

i think my problem is that despite my education, habit of reading pretty much anything and understanding the English language, i am INCAPABLE of grasping basic (and sometimes, very general) health terminologies when it comes to benefits of certain grains, ingredients, etc. Gluten, Vital Wheat, Flax seed, Omega this, Omega that. and the choices! GOOD LORD, the choices of flour and grains in the supermarket these days. for a decidedly decisive person, i can really hem & haw over different flours in the baking aisle.

so if you find yourself with some bulgur wheat randomly and you don't know what you should do with it, let me make the decision for you. make this salad. it's simple, it's easy and it's good for you. i won't go into the whole benefits thing because let's face it, i'd jack it up anyway.

Bulgur Wheat Salad
(again, approx. measurements here... are you surprised?)

1 cup bulgur wheat flour, cooked (think how you make couscous or rice)
1 good sized tomato, chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 ripe avocado, chopped
olive oil
red wine vinegar
salt/pepper to taste

just mix all those ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

told you it was that easy.

recently watched: The Kids Are All Alright.  have you seen it yet?  you should. it's both heartwarming & heartwrenching.  and you know that scene where Annette Bening bites into that heirloom tomato that was grown in Mark Ruffalo's garden?  where just from that passionate chewing you could actually taste the ripeness of the tomato, the sweet-tartness of the flesh and the giving of the skin?  Nuria turned to me and said that sometimes when i eat something oh-so-good, that's exactly how i look & sound.  i took it as a compliment.

this is salad induced such a reaction from me when i took my first bite...

Friday, August 27, 2010

.:Tapas Teatro:.

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Picnik collage

figs crostini, croquette, scallops, neck clams, grilled lamb & lentils

best sangria ev.er.
small plates, big flavor
i require both hands & feet to count the number of times i've dined here this summer

Tapas Teatro
1711 North Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21201-5800
(410) 332-0110

Tapas Teatro Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Potato Cakes Topped with Smoked Salmon

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Potato Cakes Topped with Smoked Salmon
inspired by Nigella Lawson's Express

1. i saw this episode on the Cooking Channel once, liked it and then tried to make it but i didn't have any of the ingredients on hand, other than the smoked salmon. that happens a lot, where i have aspirations to make something i saw on tv and realize i just don't have all the stuff i need so i just use what i have on hand.

2. no exact measurements. sorry about that. it's based on how the ingredients feel in your hands and what your palate preference is. trust me, if i can pull this together on the fly & serve to friends, anybody can.

about 1/2 cup of Bisquick Complete Mix: Cheese-Garlic Biscuits, more or less
3 small potatoes, scrubbed & peeled, shredded & squeezed of excess liquid
a few chive blossoms, chopped
splash of water, as needed
oil for frying

in a bowl mix together the shredded potato, biscuit mix, and chives. add water as needed to be able to form little cakes or patties. fry on each side till golden brown. transfer onto baking sheet and keep warm in oven. (this step can be omitted)

to serve, top with either a dollop of yogurt seasoned with lemon juice or sour cream and slice of smoked salmon. can be eaten cold or warm.

currently listening: John Mayer, Heartbreak Warfare (i'm only slightly ashamed by this admission)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Coconut Anise Ice Cream - Subtle Simplicity

Coconut Anise Ice Cream

in my quest for non-dairy ice cream alternatives, as well as random flavors, i made use of a can of coconut milk and my kinda sorta not really favorite spice: anise. to be clear, i don't like licorice, it's a pungent flavor that coats my tongue. but. i love fennel. i mean, really love it, it has a faint licorice taint to it. which i suppose translates to the fact that i like things subtle and minimal: my wardrobe consists of blacks/whites/greys, i rarely wear accessories, my makeup habits as of late has been a naked face (except for last week when, hello 15yr old self, a growth took residence on my chin. don't you hate that?) and i will always choose a simple, crisp white sheet of paper to write letters on over frilly, lace-infested stationary.

nuria once described asian cuisine as complex in flavor, layers upon layers of taste bud inducing orgasms -- oyster sauce, soy sauce, ginger, sour, sweet -- sometimes all in one dish. she is used to the simplicity of Mediterranean flavors: light use of olive oil and maybe a dash of sea salt. there you have it, i am minimal in appearance but i love my food bold in flavor -- except for that dratted licorice flavor.

so this coconut anise ice cream batch i made last week was supposed to be tummy-friendly, easy, simple and above all else: subtle. can i be clear again? it wasn't. i tasted the hell out of the anise, it made me wrinkle my nose in dislike. however, nuria loved it. she enjoyed the icy particles of the dessert, brought on by the fact that the fridge was set too high and the custard partially froze prior to being added to the ice cream maker, an accidental occurrence. she also thought the anise hint was subtle, so subtle in fact, that she couldn't identify the flavor until i told her what i had used and she was like, aha! i rated this creation a failure and she thought it was one of my better desserts. i think i'll just stick to the usual ice cream flavors for awhile.

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Coconut Anise Ice Cream

1 can of coconut milk, full fat
1/4 cup organic sugar
2/3 cup water
4 egg yolks
8 whole star anise

in a small sauce pan heat up the coconut milk with the star anise, bring to boil, remove from heat and leave to infuse until cool.

in another pan, make the simple syrup with the sugar and water. in a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and slowly trickle in the hot syrup, whisking constantly until the mixture becomes thick. pour in the infused coconut milk thru a strainer and continue to whisk.

refrigerate at least 2 hours or better yet, over night. pour cold custard in ice cream maker according to machine directions.

currently listening: Jeff Buckley, Lover You Should've Come Over (thx big hair)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Zucchini Blossoms

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my internet and cable have been out this week, i've been watching Alias on dvd with Nuria, acting out fight scenes and cheering on Sydney and Vaughn (remember them?! swoon...) and drooling over Will Tippin (remember him before he was Phil Wenneck? SWOON!)

i took this picture in june, i had just gotten back from the farmers' market, giddy with my purchase of zucchini blossoms. i didn't even know how they tasted, or how to prepare them! i just knew that their season was fleeting and i *had* to try them. i stuffed them with seasoned ground chicken and then lightly battered with tempura mix, deep fried to a pretty golden crisp. it had a floral but definite zucchini taste to it. i liked it. a lot.

have a loverly weekend, whatever whoever you're doing. {smirk}

currently listening to the Avett Brothers, If It's the Beaches (thx jmoyer & big hair)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pasta with Sardines

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confession: i've a love for sardines in tin cans. you know those little tins next to canned tuna and salmon in the canned meats aisles at the supermarket. my grandfather introduced them to me. sometimes for breakfast, he would slice up a small white onion and fry it in a bit of oil until translucent. and then he would open up a tin of sardines in tomato sauce and throw it in the mix, careful to keep the flesh of the small fish in tact. then, finally, without even transferring the food onto a plate or into a bowl, he'll set the hot pan on the table, telling me gruffly to mind the hot rim and to not burn myself. he would hand me a hunk of french bread, the soft inner flesh torn out first and i would dip it into the red sauce. of course, he would admonish me for leaving crumbs or dripping the sauce all over me. he would spoon feed me pieces of fish, sometimes i'd get a mouthful of bones that would just melt with the slightlest pressure from my tongue, they were so soft.

and so began a love affair with tinned sardines.

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Pasta with Sardines

spaghetti or angel hair pasta
tin of sardines (i used the ones in olive oil)
diced small onion
juice of half lemon
red pepper flakes to taste

boil/cook pasta to your taste preference

in a pan, heat up some olive oil from the can and saute the diced onions until translucent. when warm thru, add the sardines. i broke up the pieces, but not too the point of mush. heat thru.

drain pasta when done and mix in pan, making sure to coat the noodles with the oil and fish. to serve, i juiced the lemon over top and added the red pepper flakes.

it was loverly.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Soaked Oats for Granola -- On Being a Follower

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"I believe that one defines oneself by reinvention. To not be like your parents. To not be like your friends. To be yourself. To cut yourself out of stone." ~henry rollins


it's weird how this blog has changed, evolved from a craft one to food to sometimes back to crafts to at least once a week photography {i use that term extremely loosely). i credit a lot of things for the ever changing posts -- my mood, my RSS feed/Google Reader, inspiration from twitter, foodgawker. pretty much anything and everything. in looking at my posts, it's safe to say i'm not a pioneer in anything that i do in this space. and i'm ok with that. too often i walk too fast and too hard in front of others, hellbent on being first and/or just.on.my.own. if you've been a faithful reader of this blog for the last 2+years (thank you if you have been, you're quiet but my stats do show your virtual footprints) you'll notice a trend in my cooking habits. i generally stick to the same cookbooks and/or tried & true food bloggers, following in their lead on grain soaking or traditional vietnamese dishes or delicious but cheap eats. call it whatever you want: habit or being a follower or smart cooking but whatever it is, it's alright to go along with the crowd.

as it is, this year i made the decision to alter my diet a smidge, be more conscious of what i consume, cut back on the carbs, exercise more (hello treadmill, you don't suck as bad as i thought. yoga & pilates? new companions.), be mindful of the ingredients i use in my baking & cooking. i've soaked grains a few times, to lackluster results but not bad enough that i wash myself of the process. i tried it again, this time for granola. tho i still used the dumping of pantry granola mentality, i followed shanalee's oat soaking method. next up? i might try my hand at soaking some grains for a few cookies i like... until then, kombucha anyone?

fyi: for this batch, i threw in dried cranberries & blueberries, slivered almonds, and coconut flakes. i also used agave syrup instead of sorghum syrup.

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Carolina in My Mind

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Picnik collage

forgive me. all this week i've been in a haze (it might be due to the fact that my AC decided to d.i.e. on me and i was sweating my ass off) and i've been doodling dreams about the Dirty South.

finally, a few days of respite. have a loverly weekend.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

colors bold & bright - Words on Canvas

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sometimes big k and i go thru stretches of not talking to each other -- not like we're fighting or anything, i don't think in the thirteen and a half years we've known each other have we ever beefed, but things happen where we don't drop the daily email or text, where the time slips by us and wow, we went a week without chatting! because Life occured and well, there just isn't enough time in the day to goof off together. but when we finally do talk, it's like no time has passed. clich├ęd right? that's ok, because with a friendship as sweet as ours, a bit of trite, overused expressions is forgivable.

as a graduation present i put her favorite band's lyrics on canvas. notorious for being indecisive, big k could not give me any idea as to which DMB lyric she liked best so i did the deciding for her. tho the song theme is sad, the words of the last two stanzas resonate with how we choose to live our lives -- separately and together.

Monday, August 9, 2010

all growed up

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a surprise visit to the Dirty South, to celebrate a graduation. big k graduated with a degree in business administration. it's no secret that i adore this woman, there was no possible way i could skip out on this momentous occasion.

what this weekend garnered:
new friends
a spoon partner (adore you maynard)
appreciation for flip cup and badminton
the without a doubt conviction that, yes, baseball really is boring

Friday, August 6, 2010

Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream

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i received a few emails requesting the recipe for the ice cream pic i posted on monday. ever since i purchased my ice cream maker i've been addicted to consuming ice cream. it's nice to control the amount of sugar and even the kind of cream used. {content}

Chocolate Ice Cream

1 1/2 cup skim lactaid milk
1 1/2 cup light cream
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup raw sugar
2 egg yolks
2 oz dark chocolate, chopped
3 tablespoons strong coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla

put the cream in medium sauce pan, stir in sugar and cocoa and bring to a gentle simmer. in a bowl, mix the yolks and about half the cream together, making sure it's well blended. spoon in a ladleful of the warmed sugar/milk mixture into the bowl, carefully stirring all the while. you don't want to scramble the yolks. add another ladleful until well blended. carefully add the yolk mixture into the saucepan, being sure to stir! raise the temp to mediumish and stir until mixture has thickened, about 10-15 minutes. remove from heat.

in a microwave safe bowl, heat up the remaining half amount of cream to hot. add in the chocolate, mixing well until smooth. add to saucepan and mix well, along with the coffee and vanilla. refrigerate until cold.

make ice cream based on your maker's instructions.

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i'm in the Dirty South for the next 3 days. have a loverly weekend!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Roasted Beets Soup

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let me be clear, i only discovered beets this year. i always associated the vegetable to russia (not that i have anything against russia, i did take Russian History in college and used it as an ELECTIVE my sophomore year). and have mercy! the bleeding mess it makes! but i like it. it's sweet. it's got bite to it. it holds up to a great deal of heat, taking forever to soften, yielding only when treated with kiddie gloves (seriously, wear protective gloves when handling this veg). with such characteristics, is it a wonder that i am falling in love with it?

Roasted Beets Soup

roasted beets (3) (just plop in oven at 350, wrapped in foil, and cook until fork tender)
onions
garlic
veggie stock
salt/pepper
milk or light cream (optional)
cilantro
squirt of lemon
olive oil

heat up olive oil and saute onions until softened. throw in the garlic. with the beets, dice them up and throw into the onions/garlic mixture. season with salt/pepper. cook for another five minutes, then add in the veggie stock, bring to a simmer. gently puree the mixture until desired consistency. to finish, garnish with cilantro and squirt with some lemon juice. you can add some cream or milk if you want it creamier.

the night of, i served it warm but for lunch the next day, i had it cold. either was equally delicious.

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Monday, August 2, 2010

Into the Mystic

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[photos: old school chevy in dmv parking lot. otakon was in town! vineyard hopping. ncr trail. homemade chocolate ice cream. the swell season at Rams Head Live. into the mystic.]

it's sunday evening, my living room window is wide open to let in the august breeze; it ruffles the stack of scrapbook paper i have on my coffee table. tho i am tired, i am content. i just spent a whirlwind weekend, going at the speed of light and barely holding on. what was supposed to be a leisurely saturday morning turned into an almost full day at the mva. what was supposed to be a mellow concert show, turned into an eye opener of an experience, one that brought me to tears and made me feel.

i vineyard hopped and was close to god's country today -- did you know that the stretch of I-83 that connects MD and PA is spotted with rolling green grass, blue skies that stretch far beyond the eye can see but the mind's eye? oh the infinite possibilities that eye can see...