Sunday, October 31, 2010

Made It! Mushroom Migas

I was really excited to try this recipe since Lisa sent me some extra dried mushrooms from her Marx Mushroom competition. I changed the recipe quite a bit since I didn't want to make a special trip to the grocery store. Traditionally, migas is made from whatever is lying around the kitchen, so I felt my modifications would speak to the versatility of this dish.

I love having breakfast for dinner. But sometimes an omelet or french toast just doesn't cut it for me. This migas is a perfect way to elevate breakfast for dinner to another level. I loved how earthy the mushroom medley tasted. I made my pesto with fresh basil and jalapeno. I modified the gastrique by using balsamic vinegar and red wine instead of cognac and sherry vinegar. The final product had it all: heat from the jalapeno, sweetness from the gastrique, saltiness from the bacon, and creaminess from the poached egg. I tried to get a little bit of every flavor onto the crispy toast for the perfect bite each time. My only hesitation with this dish was that it required a lot of different pans. But if you don't mind a little extra clean-up and are looking for a special twist on breakfast for dinner, you should definitely try this recipe!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Good Morning Hong Kong!

As some of you may know, my husband and I will be backpacking around SE Asia over the next 2 months, living out a dream. Since I will be away from my kitchen, Sasha and I have invited some guest bloggers, who have graciously volunteered to share their favorite recipes. Let us know if you are interested in being a guest blogger yourself! I am not sure if I will get the opportunity to cook while traveling, but I fully intend to eat and post about my foodie adventure.

See you in Hong Kong soon!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Clam Chowder

I woke up craving clam chowder. I mentioned our dinner plans to my husband, who, having lived in Boston for 12 years, was not shy about sharing his advice.  So you could say I felt a little pressure to get it right, especially since this was my first chowder. But I am a San Francisco girl, born and raised, which means my idea of clam chowder involves eating from a sourdough bowl, sitting on the wharf, listening to the fog horns blow.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Head over Heels: Immersion Blender and Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

This week I am head over heels for my immersion blender, an inexpensive, space-saving, jack-of-all-trades kitchen appliance that is guaranteed to make your cooking experiences easier. The immersion blender, or stick blender, looks like a wand. On one end there is a handle with the power, on the other end there is the blending attachment, which is great for blending soups, smoothies, and purees. All the blending is done in the same pot, bowl, or other vessel you're already cooking in - a huge plus in my book because that means less time cleaning! Also, it is a great space saver, since most immersion blenders come with whisk and chopping attachments.  As a result, this single tool can replace the handheld mixer, food processor and stand blender - freeing up kitchen counter space, which is in high demand in my DC condo. After using the blender, just rinse, wrap up the cord, and store it in a drawer.  My immersion blender gets a lot of use in my kitchen, and I hope it can help you in yours!

Red pepper hummus (well, technically just a "chickpea puree" since there's no tahini):
  • 1 can chick peas
  • 1 roasted red pepper, peeled and seeded 
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste
Place all the ingredients in a tall plastic cup or similar container (1-quart plastic yogurt containers work well) and use your immersion blender to puree until smooth. Garnish with a drizzle of good olive oil and serve with toasted pita chips for a delicious, nutritious snack.

Made it! Ravioli

I absolutely love homemade ravioli. I was so excited when Lisa made her goat cheese and sausage ravioli because it inspired me to take a few hours off in the afternoon and devote myself to making these delectable dumplings. Unfortunately, tomato season in Victoria has come to an end, so I decided to change Lisa's recipe to make sure I was cooking with products that were in season and local. The version I made was butternut squash ravioli in a browned butter sage sauce topped with roasted hazelnuts and I must say, this was the best ravioli I ever tasted!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cooking with Friends: Goat Cheese and Sausage Ravioli

A couple of weeks ago my friend Ingrid and I hit up the U Street farmers' market with the hope of finding ingredients that would inspire a culinary feast and impromptu cooking lesson. We were in between seasons - summer's second tomatoes and fresh corn looked great, but there was also kale, squash and pumpkin, representing fall's best. We were torn between the two seasons' bounty until we tasted the fresh chevre from Cherry Glen Goat Cheese Co. At that moment our recipe fell into place - goat cheese and sausage ravioli with a fresh tomato jam sauce. We picked up some eggplant, zucchini and spicy goat sausage and were off to my kitchen to cook up our feast.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Good Reads:

Fooducate is a blog that is trying to demystify the supermarket, making sense of all the nutrition labels with a kind of "Michael Pollan" approach. After reading a few postings this morning, I am left with with the same discomfort I had after reading Fast Food Nation, which changed the way I look at food and America's food system.

My personal favorites from the blog:

I thought the post on phosphoric acid was particularly interesting - see my comment!

The most recent post, Confusing Egg Labels, gives advice on how to buy eggs at the supermarket, and the video clip is eye-opening. When I visited Sasha in Victoria last May we bought fresh eggs from a local farm. The yolks were bright orange, and we made the most delicious creme anglais to pour over our chocolate soufflé. I always joke with my husband that I want to turn in my stethoscope, leave the city and build a small farm where I can tend my vegetable and fruit gardens and raise chickens... Maybe only half-joking - these are my dreams!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Help Me Win Mushrooms - Vote Today!

Polls open today at Marx Foods for their Blogger Mushroom Challenge... Support FoodieRelations and our Mushroom Medley Migas by voting here today! All proceeds will go to a good cause - more mushroom recipes on this blog!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cilantro Chile Quinoa Salad

DC has had an amazing Indian summer, so I embraced the hot weather and lightened things up in the kitchen with a salad. I ate a version of this salad at Sweet Green and loved it, so I decided to make it for dinner a couple of months ago. To be honest, I wasn't sure it would work, but I was so very wrong. This dish tastes great and is beyond healthy. Just thinking about it makes me feel good! This salad has a great flavor profile - bitter endive lettuce leaves, rich and buttery avocado, and sweet and tart granny smith apples. Additionally, the serrano lime yogurt dressing punches your palate with sweet, salty, tart and tangy flavors. The "super grain" quinoa and seared tofu round out this dish with a bit of carbohydrate and protein. It may sound a little crazy but give it a try... I promise, it's tasty! 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I Cooked My Heart Out in NYC

Last month Good Housekeeping flew me to NYC to participate in the finals of their Cook Your Heart Out competition. Initially I was nervous - this was my first recipe competition, my first time being televised and my first time having to cook for kids - oh my! But in the end, it was a whirlwind adventure that I wished would never end! Ultimately I overcame my nerves of being on camera, I met 17 other talented contestants, the kid judges loved my dish (phew!) and I won my category!  The biggest plus was that this contest made me realize how much I love to cook and share my passion with others - and thus this blog was born.  

Good Housekeeping announced that the TV special will air 10/18 through 11/20. They are still adding air times in various markets so they will continue to update this page. Unfortunately it looks like it may not be shown in DC, but I will be getting a DVD, so for those close by that want to watch let's plan on having a Chicken Lettuce Wrap dinner/DVD viewing party!

Good Housekeeping has put together a behind the scenes compilation of the all the weekend's events and the seven winning heart-healthy recipes. My Chicken Lettuce Wraps recipe is light and healthy, packed with flavor and texture, easy to make and kid-approved!

Chicken Lettuce Wraps.  Photo by Greg Baker

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Marx's Mushroom Medley "Migas"

A couple weeks ago I was introduced to Justin Marx of Marx Foods, a web-based fine foods retailer, who was ramping up for his Blogger Mushroom Challenge. The challenge: to use Marx's dried mushrooms to create a new recipe and post it on your blog. The prize: three shipments of fresh wild mushrooms. My reaction: I love mushrooms, I love to cook and I have a food blog... I'm game - let's get cooking! I received a box of goodies - filled with the most earthily fragrant dried lobster, porcini, matsutake, morel, and black trumpet mushrooms - and was immediately inspired.

My inspiration was migas, a traditional Spanish shepherd's dish that involves frying leftover bread with whatever other humble ingredients are handy into a rustic, hearty meal. Migas screams earthy and wild to me - I imagine a shepherd foraging in the woods for mushrooms and herbs, then cooking his newly found treasures over an open flame, all the while drinking great wine and singing folk songs. My version is full of those rustic flavors but has been updated and refined. The mushroom sauté is the foundation of my recipe, but the dish is built with a layering of flavors - the salty crispy bacon, the spicy chile herb pesto, the wild mushroom gastrique, a lusciously creamy poached egg and crunchy bacon-fried bread combine to make something out of this world.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Made It! Pasta Carbonara

I got Lisa a pasta-maker and then, after we made fresh pasta together during one of my visits to DC, I came home and bought one for myself! I find that there are certain dishes that taste better with fresh pasta and others that taste better with dried pasta. This carbonara is one of those dishes where taking the time to roll fresh pasta makes a world of difference since the sauce is fairly subtle, allowing the pasta dough flavor and texture to really come through.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Kitchen Tips: The Virtues of Salt

Salt has gotten a very bad reputation.  High consumption of salt is linked to hypertension, heart disease, stroke and a host of other chronic diseases.  Our increased dietary salt intake is due to the highly processed foods that we are eating, and with our busy hectic lifestyle, the desire for a cheap meal on the go is leading us to eat even more of these fast food items.  However, salt in moderation is not the evil ingredient that it has been made out to be.  Instead it is a vital mineral that is essential to cooking - it increases the complexity of foods by brightening the sweet, tart, sour and bitter notes and harmonizing all the flavors into one dish. Moreover, you will use less salt cooking fresh ingredients because you'll just be enhancing flavors rather than creating or hiding them.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fettuccini Carbonara

Sasha gave me a pasta maker four years ago. Back then it got a lot of use, but lately it has been sitting idle in the drawer. But tonight I am resurrecting the pasta maker and making fettuccine carbonara. There is something about making pasta - the feeling and texture of the dough, getting messy, flour everywhere - ultimately it's about having fun rolling and creating a delicious, rustic, meal by hand. It may sound daunting, but with the right tools and techniques, it's really simple and the outcome is a bowl of delicious, tender pasta that can't be beat.