Thursday, June 21, 2018

'You Feta Be Kidding Me' Burger #GirlCarnivore #BurgeroftheMonth


Welcome to the inaugural Burger of the Month event hosted by Kita of Girl Carnivore. Each month, she will be sending out a list of secret ingredients to inspire a new burger recipe. What delicious, carnivorous fun! You know I was in immediately.


This month's line-up needed to include: radishes, spinach, lemon, and cream. Someone asked, "Do we need to incorporate all the ingredients? Or do you need to include just one of the ingredients?" The answer - yes, the challenge is to use all of them in your recipe, but they can be toppings, or accoutrements to the burger, so you can get all the components in a single bite.

So, I decided to make lamb patties flecked with preserved lemon and stuffed with feta cheese on a bed of butter-braised spinach topped with pickled radishes. Needless to say, I did not have a good name for this crazy creation. So, I posted a photo to social media and asked the hive mind for their opinions. Lots of 'likes' and 'yums', but no one had a good suggestion for me until Christina, who follows my blog page on Facebook, chimed in with "Or You Feta Be Kidding Me burger!" I loved it immediately. So, Christina, thanks for naming this month's Burger of the Month creation. I was completely stumped.

Ingredients makes 4 burgers

Patties
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 T diced caperberries (or regular capers, whole)
  • 2 T diced preserved lemon (my one of my preserved lemon recipes here)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 5 grinds black pepper

Butter-Braised Spinach

Accoutrements
Procedure

Patties
Place all of the ingredients together in a mixing bowl and blend it together until well-combined. Let the mixture rest for, at least 10 to 15 minutes so the flavors can meld together. Divide the meat into quarters and form into patties.


Place 2 ounces (it was a generous tablespoon) in the center of the patty, fold up the meat so that it completely encases the cheese. Flatten again into a patty. Set aside until ready to cook or grill.


Butter-Braised Spinach
Melt 2 T butter in a large skillet. Add in the spinach and stir. As moisture releases from the spinach stir again so that it doesn't stick to the pan. Once the spinach is completely softened, Stir in the remaining 1 T butter.


Grate nutmeg into the spinach and stir to combine.


To Serve
Cook patties to desired doneness. Assemble the burgers. Since two of us are eliminating gluten and carbs, burgers were lettuce-wrapped with braised spinach on the bottom and pickled red onions and radishes on the top. The other two had traditional buns with the same accoutrements.


And that's a wrap for my June Burger of the month. Enjoy! And I can't wait to see what July has in store for our secret ingredients.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Stormchasers + Windstorm #FoodieReads


Last month I took part in a virtual dinner party and read The Lost Family by Jenna Blum. And, as always, when I really enjoy an author's work, I jump in grab as many of their books as I can. In this case, I picked up the two that I could find and dug into The Stormchasers* immediately.


On the Page
The Stormchasers was a very quick read; I think I read it in just two sittings. The story centers on fraternal twins Karena and Charles who haven't seen each other in twenty years when a tragedy drives a wedge between them just after their eighteenth birthday. Fast forward two decades and Karena receives a phone call from a hospital that her brother is there. Charles is a storm chaser (think Twister!) who follows tornadoes and relates them to the storms in his head; he has bipolar disorder. So, she drops everything and rushes to the hospital, not knowing what she'll find. By the time she arrives, he has checked himself out.

So, Karena, a seasoned reporter, joins a storm chasing group - under the auspices of doing a piece about them - and heads into the storms herself. I'm not going to spoil the book for you. Let me just say that Jenna Blum has a gift for revealing a character the way that you peel away the leaves of an artichoke. As you delve deeper into her stories and her characters, they get softer until she has revealed their heart. She's a masterful storyteller who draws you in to whatever world she's created.

In this case, I was transported to the world of the storm chasers. 

True story: I lived in Oklahoma for thirteen months. One day, I was finally getting used to living in the Midwest. We had spent the day at a great natural history museum with the boys and I remember speaking these aloud words to my husband: "It's not so bad. I think I can live here."

That very same afternoon, a tornado struck and touched down less than a quarter of a mile from our house. I was in the innermost room of the house with a baby strapped to my chest and a toddler at my hip. All of us were wearing bike helmets listening a tiny, handheld radio. Meanwhile my curious husband was out on the porch taking photos. Needless to say, I was stressed. And though the storm passed without incident to our property, I decided I was not cut out to live in tornado country. We moved back to California a month later.


In the Glass
There wasn't much in the way of food inspiration in the novel. I mean they mention food...

"Karena makes herself a rootbeer float, Charles's favorite drink, and carries it outside to where Fern and Alicia and Marla, and Scout are sitting on the wall of ice-melt bags piled against the convenience store. The women fan themselves and eat candy Marla passes out, Mallo Cups and Nut Goodies and Cherry Mash" (pg. 125).

"She opens the refrigerator to buy time. Besides, she's thirsty. The cigarettes and beer have dried her mouth out. But Siri has drunk all Karena's Diet Pepsi. There's only one half-open can left, and it will be flat. Otherwise the fridge is lettered with mystery dishes, Bakelite bowls containing two carrots, a handful of canned string beans, Jell-O. A moldy stack of olive loaf. Karena slams the door" (pg 175).

But nothing was really compelling me into the kitchen. Then, when I was at a small local deli, I noticed a bottle of wine that I had never seen before - Windstorm Vineyards' Old Vine Zinfandel. I decided to share tasting notes on that instead of making a storm chaser-inspired dish.

Located in Lodi, Windstorm sources Zinfandel from both Lodi and Madera. This wine has a deep garnet hue with big jammy aromas of red berries and licorice. With soft tannins and oak notes, this was a great match for a grilled steak!

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.

Here's what everyone else read in June 2018: here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Finally Getting Around to Making Fideuà #FantasticalFoodFight


Welcome to the June edition of the Fantastical Food Fight. I look forward to this event every single month. It's coordinated by Sarah of Fantastical Sharing of Recipes and you can get more information about it here.


This month, we were given the challenge of making something with seafood. I have no dearth of seafood recipes, especially since we are members of a CSF (community-supported fishery) and receive a share of fresh-caught seafood on a regular basis. Just last week I bought a whole halibut from them during a special Saturday sale. You'll see this recipe next month...


But when I came home, my husband had already filleted it. "Did you take photos of the process?!" I asked.

No, I'm not a food blogger, he answered.

"But I am!" I cried.

Next time, he said, but rather unconvincingly.

Back to the event at hand. Seafood, huh? I thought about doing a variation on my Abalone à la Meunière or Pickled Shrimp or fish en papillote.


But, I was organizing my cupboards after school ended and found the package of fideus pasta that our friends had brought back from Spain for me. That settled it: I was finally going to get around to making Fideuà.



Fideuà 
Last year I had a friend from Spain teach me how to make paella. Real paella. And, since then, I've made peace with my paella pan - it was previously collecting dust in the garage - and whipped up some really tasty dinners. When they went back to Spain for a trip, they brought back some fideus pasta for me to try my hand at fideuà. Fideuà, they said, was just like paella but with pasta instead of rice. I am finally getting around to trying it...and without a real recipe, so this may not be authentic. But it was delicious! 

Ingredients serves 8
  • 1/2 pound fresh seafood (I used a mixture of clams, mussels, baby octopus, and shrimp)
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 8 T olive oil (Juan told me 1 T per serving)
  • 1 onion
  • 3 to 4 whole cloves of garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 1 bell pepper (I used a red bell pepper)
  • 1 C diced tomatoes
  • 2 C fideus pasta
  • 1 generous pinch saffon
  • 1 Carmencita Paella Spice Mix sachet* 
  • 5 to 6 C fish stock, warmed
*Juan used this and they brought some back from Spain for me, so I use it. But, in a pinch, you can add a blend of paprika, pepper, and clove to the pot. These packets also include a food coloring that makes regular paella a rich golden color.

Procedure

Peel and dice the onions. Deseed and dice the bell pepper. Heat olive oil in the paella pan. Add onions and bell pepper. Sauté until the onion is softened and translucent.

Add the chicken and cook completely. Stir in the garlic. Add in the tomatoes and cook until they have lost their shape slightly, approximately 6 to 7 minutes. Add the seafood, distributing it evenly throughout the pan.

Sprinkle the seasoning packet into the pot and add the saffron to the side so it's not where the heat is most concentrated. Tip in the pasta. Pour in the stock. At this point, do not stir. Gently shake the pan to distribute the pasta and seafood evenly. But do not stir. Ever. As Juan instructed me: "This is not risotto."


Bring the pan to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Watch the pan and keep turning it so that the pasta cooks evenly. As it cooks, the stock will be fully absorbed.


You will see fewer and fewer bubbles popping up through the top. When it is completely dry, it's done. The pasta should also be crackling. It reminds me of rice krispies. Snap, crackle, and pop!

When you no longer see any bubbles, remove the pan from the heat. Tent it with foil and let it steam for 10 minutes. To serve, use a flat spatula to scrape the soccarat from the bottom. Invert the scoop onto the individual plates to show off your soccarat, that delicious, crusty goodness on the bottom of the pan! 

Hand-Pressed Butter


I was looking at ways to churn butter in my food processor, but the boys insisted, "Mom, let us do. We're going to shake it in a jar." Sounds fine. Apparently, they've done this with my mom several times. And while I know there is a more simple - and less messy - way to accomplish turning cream into butter, I never turn down a chance to let the Kitchen Elves do their thing.

Ingredients
  • 2 C whipping cream
  • salt and fresh herbs are optional (I wanted them, they vetoed)
  • Also needed: quart mason jar with lid, mesh strainer, cheesecloth


Procedure
Pour cream into a lidded jar, filling it up about 2/3 full. We repeated the process to finish the entire pint. Next time I'll get a bigger jar. Shake. I'm not kidding. Just shake. We put on some good music and shook that jar like a maraca.


Once the cream is to the point where it's holding peaks, place a mesh strainer and cheesecloth over a mixing bowl and compress the cream with a spoon. Or your hands...


They really enjoyed pressing out the whey, or what they called "buttermilk."


They pressed the liquid out twice before the solids came together and turned a brighter yellow.


After running the cream through the mesh twice, the solids came together and the butter turned a brighter yellow. Reserve the liquid! They drank some of it straight and I added it to our banana pancakes the next morning.


While the butter is still soft, fold in salt and herbs, if desired. They kept theirs plain. Place it in the fridge till desired consistency.


You'll see this in a recipe for a challenge later this week. Stay tuned.

Quick Pickled Red Onions and Radishes


If you've been reading my blog for even a short amount of time, you probably know how much I love to pickle things. I was just telling a friend you can pickle - with vinegar - or you can ferment - with salt - for similar delicious effect. The latter has digestive benefits and I love to do that, but when I need that pop of sour flavor quickly, I whip up quick pickles that are ready in as little as a day or two.



This I did last night for an upcoming recipe challenge that requires I include radishes. Ummmm...of course I'm pickling them!

Ingredients makes 1 quart jar
  • radishes, trimmed and sliced
  • organic red onions, peeled and thinly sliced (I used a mandolin slicer)
  • 3/4 C vinegar (I used white distilled vinegar)
  • 3/4 C water
  • 3 T organic granulated sugar
  • 1 T salt (I used some grey sea salt)
  • 6 to 8 grinds of black pepper

Procedure
Layer your radishes and onions in a sterilized mason jar, packing them in tightly. Place all of the other ingredients together in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes. Pour the liquid over the top of the radishes and onions.


Seal the jar and let cool on the counter. Refrigerate until ready to eat, but I try to let them pickle for at least 24 to 48 hours before opening. These will keep for approximately 2 weeks. Let come to room temperature before serving.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Corn Salad with Shrimp and Fennel Fronds #KitchenMatrixCookingProject


Here we are at the third #KitchenMatrixCookingProject post for June. This month, Karen of Karen's Kitchen Stories selected our recipes. This week she has us looking at Corn + 12 Ways. You can read more about our project: here. We'd love to have you join us. And, if you don't have a copy of his cookbook, you can read his corn matrix online. Now that it's corn season, I am looking forward to trying several of Bittman's ideas such as corn and coconut milk, corn with saffron, and corn with crab cakes! Before I get to my selection, here's what the other bloggers made...

Getting Corn-y



Corn Salad with Shrimp and Fennel Fronds
I actually bought corn for our Fathers' Day feast, knowing that I needed to make a Bittman corn recipe. So this was perfect. I did adapt slightly as my corn wasn't as fresh as I'd like to eat it raw, so I blanched it. And I swapped in fennel fronds for the tarragon.


And it was definitely a hit for our Fathers' Day dinner. I saw my dad take, at least, two helpings.

Ingredients serves 8 to 10

  • kernels from 5 cobs, approximately 4 C (raw or blanched)
  • 12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 C halved organic cherry tomatoes
  • juice from 1 organic lemon (I used a Meyer lemon)
  • 2 to 3 T olive oil
  • freshly ground salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 to 3 T fresh fennel fronds, chopped


Procedure
Poach the shrimp. Once they are cool enough to handle, slice them in half, lengthwise. In a large mixing bowl, place the kernels, shrimp, and tomatoes. Drizzle in the lemon juice and pour in 2 to 3 T olive oil. Toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Before serving, fold in fennel fronds. 

Tropical Mimosas and Shrimp Cocktail for My Very Own Mr. Incredible #FoodNFlix


Welcome to the June edition of Food'N'Flix. This month, Kelley of Simply Inspired Meals is hosting; she invited us to watch The Incredibles*. You can read her invitation: here

On the Screen
Let me start with this: I have no idea how many times I have seen this movie. More than a dozen. Definitely. It was one of my boys' favorites...and I can't believe it's been fourteen years since its release.

And this weekend, we re-watched it twice. Once because we were headed out to see the sequel; and once because I needed to pay more attention to the food.

A quick synopsis: Mr. Incredible (secret identity Bob Parr) and Elastigirl (secret identity Helen Parr) were always saving lives and battling evil. But they retreated into the suburbs, hiding and adopting civilian identities live a normal life with their three kids, Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack. Then they are forced back in action. And this time, their crime-stopping involves their kids. While it is an animated kids' film, it definitely has the feel of a James Bond movie with its techy gadgets and silly villains. We love it!

On the Table
The second time we watched it this weekend, the Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf and I took better notes of what food appeared in the movie. The leftovers dinner had steak, pasta, meatloaf, and broccoli. Mr. Incredible grabs a piece of chocolate cake when he walks in late one night. On the island, with Mirage, we saw champagne and fruit; she tells him that everything they are eating was grown right there on the island. But the scene that inspired me was when Mr. Incredible is arriving at the island in the manta plane. He's eating shrimp cocktail and drinking mimosas.


And since we always like to start celebration brunches with celebration libations, I whipped up some tropical mimosas for Jake's Fathers' Day brunch. He's my very own Mr. Incredible!

Tropical Mimosas

Ingredients
  • juice (I offered guava and mango, though traditional mimosas use orange juice)
  • sparkling wine (I used some Italian bubbles that I had)
 

Procedure
Fill your flute up halfway with the juice of your choice. Top it off with sparkling wine. Toast. And enjoy!

Shrimp Cocktail

Ingredients
  • chilled large shrimp or prawns, peeled and poached (tail-on)
  • 1/2 C ketchup
  • 1 to 2 T prepared horseradish
  • cash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 to 2 t freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • hot sauce, to taste
Procedure 
In small mixing bowl whisk together all of the ingredients except for the shrimp. Refrigerate until chilled. Serve with chilled shrimp.


When we were at the store, right after watching the sequel, they noticed Incredibles 2 Goldfish! Oh my goodness, my husband used to harass me that Goldfish were not a food group; I used to buy a lot of bags of Goldfish. They were the best stroller snacks!

"Mom, can we get those?!" Sure.

And just like when they were toddlers, I should have gotten them each a bag. They battled over those fish. Hilarious. I won't spoil the sequel. I will say that we all enjoyed it. It picks up right where they left off; for some reason I expect that they would have aged...maybe not 14 years, but a little. But we all still preferred the first one.

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.


Saturday, June 16, 2018

Chorizo Deviled Eggs, Crusted Steaks, and Café Liégeois #DadsDayEats


Tomorrow we're celebrating Fathers' Day, so I decided to see if any of the Festive Foodies wanted to join me in sharing some recipes for all the dads in our lives. I chuckled when I saw the line-up; Coleen, Ellen, and I must be cooking for carnivores!

And, funny thing: I didn't realize when I offered to host this event that I had set the posting date before Fathers' Day, so, there wasn't any way it could be our real Fathers' Day menu. Whoops. This was our pre-Fathers' Day dinner instead.

Tomorrow night, we are having my parents over and Jake will be grilling our actual Fathers' Day feast: marinated quail, wild salmon, top sirloin, and fresh corn. I baked two Key Lime pies and will make a green salad, too. If you're celebrating tomorrow, what's on your menu?

The Dads' Day Eats

My Offerings
I thought about some of Jake's favorite bites and couldn't decide between three dishes. So, I'm sharing all three for this event though the first  two don't really qualify as recipes...just variations on dishes almost everyone already has in their repertoire. The third might be a new one for you. It was for us.

Chorizo Deviled Eggs

Ingredients
  • 4 hardboiled eggs, peeled and halved
  • 2 T mayonnaise (here's my homemade version)
  • 2 T cooked, crumbled chorizo
Procedure
Place the egg yolks in a small mixing bowl. Blend in the mayonnaise until creamy and fully combined. Fold in the chorizo, reserving a little bit for garnishing the tops. Spoon the filling back into the cooked egg whites and top with remaining chorizo. Serve immediately.

Crusted Steaks

Ingredients
  • 2 rib-eye steaks, about an inch thick
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T butter
  • Also needed: a griddle or grill pan
Procedure
Let steaks rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before cooking - and up to an hour. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

Melt 1 T butter in 1 T olive oil on a griddle or grill pan. Heat the point that it is almost smoking. Sprinkle another layer of pepper over the meat, pressing it into the meat.

Place your steak - newly sprinkled side down - in the pan. Depending on thickness, you will want to cook the steak for 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Sprinkle the top side with more pepper before flipping. You should have a nice crust formed with an internal temperature of about 130 degrees F for medium. Remove from pan and tent with foil. Let rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Slice and serve immediately.

Café Liégeois

I recently interviewed Fabrice Rondia of Belgian Pacific for Edible Monterey Bay. You can read my blogpost for them. In any case, he introduced me to Café Liégeois. When he described it as a Belgian affogato with coffee ice cream and chantilly cream, I knew that Jake would love it! I even added some coffee-extract to my whipped cream for even more coffee flavor!

Ingredients makes one
  • 1 scoop coffee ice cream
  • 2 ounces espresso
  • dollop of whipped cream
Procedure
Place ice cream in a tempered glass or mug. Pour espresso over the ice cream. Top with whipped cream. Serve immediately.

Share Buttons