Saturday, August 30, 2008

Which one's have you eaten? Omnivore's Hundred

Over at Very Good Taste, they have a little foodie game.

Want to play along? Here’s what you do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison (not 100% sure - I've eaten meatloaf at the home of hunters before ...)
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare (yum!)
5. Crocodile (in sausage at Cajun restaurant)
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses (I don't think so, but not 100% sure)
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream (yum!)
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters (though only cooked)
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut (yuck!)
35. Root beer float (yum!)
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea (thanks to a nice commenter I now know I have had this!)
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects (umm .. not on purpose. Do gnats count?)
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill (not that I know of ... meatloaf)
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong (well at least smoked tea)
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef (in a burger)
86. Hare
87. Goulash (not 100% sure)
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate (not 100% sure)
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor (but not served in a lobster shell)
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

What's your score?

Friday, August 29, 2008

End of Summer Salad: Arugula, watermelon, balsamic vinegar

Very simple, but yet very complex tastes.

Wash and spin arugula. Add some balls (or cubes) of watermelon. If you can, sprinkle some of the watermelon juice over the leaves as well. (When you use a melon baller the juice tends to pool in the melon anyway) Sprinkle liberally with salt. Drizzle over balsamic vinegar, and a bit of oil (I happened to have some walnut oil in the fridge). This was VERY, VERY good.
The natural pepperiness of the arugula with the sweetness of the watermelon with the saltiness of the salt with the deep flavor of the vinegar ... YUM!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Variation on theme: another cheese and fruit lunch

Very similar to the light supper I posted a few weeks ago, but after all, aren't all meals a variation on theme?

This tray consisted of Brie (which I found in a thin stick form from Trader Joes!), sliced salami, the always fun TINY champagne grapes, a granny smith apple, pate compagne (a rougher pate), and ligonberry jam to compliment the brie. I served with a variety of crackers.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Picture it: baked oatmeal

Same recipe as earlier in the week, EXCEPT: I only had three peaches, but added 1 1/2 pints of blueberries. No ginger this time, and no cinnamon sugar topping. Serve for breakfast - warm (microwaved) with a bit of milk.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Works for me: Kitchen Organization Tips

I moved recently, and in doing so downsized to a slightly smaller kitchen. Given that I love to cook, and love my kitchen toys, I had to think carefully about space planning. In trying to think about planning kitchen space, I try to keep in mind which items I use frequently and make those the most accesible. Here are a few ideas that work for me!

When possible I also try to keep items near where they are used. So the coffee mugs are stored in the cabinet right above the coffee maker. The cannisters to the right of the coffee maker hold the whole coffee beans and sugar. And the coffee maker is right next to the sink because we use water to make the coffee!

I installed this product from IKEA over my kitchen sink. It folds down to be a drainer, small though it might be, and then folds up out of the way. The bar I installed to hold it also holds hooks for my scrub brush, a towel, colander, and even a radio.

Growing up we always had a pegboard for kitchen tools. It is very useful. We bought inexpensive spacers off Amazon, and pegboard from the local hardware store. The Southern resident painted it for me, and my dad "helped" me install the two pieces. (By help, of course, I mean that I said - "I want it there" and served beverages). I already had a number of pegboard hooks on hand.

- one holds all the little kitchen toys:

A second, smaller one holds the skillets and griddles:

The kitchen cabinet, which belonged to my great-grandmother, holds my collection of Tupperware's Modular Mates. They really keep crisp things crisp and moist things moist much longer. They are great for storing raisins, coconut, candy, nuts, crackers, beans, dried peas, bread crumbs, dried pasta, peanut butter cups, grits, ginger snaps, oatmeal, craisins, thin mints ...

I also swear by Tupperware cannisters. I've never once had a problem with bugs in my ingredients, even when we lived in an apartment complex where others had pests. If, like me, you like to stock multiple types of sugars (brown, powdered, white), flours (bread, pastry, whole wheat, self-rising, all purpose); then it makes sense to have a few extras.

This built in cabinet had a lot of space BELOW the lowest shelf. So I made a make shift cubby by putting this spare cabinet door in the opening. Now all my big baking trays, cooling racks, serving trays and cutting boards fit without falling out:

Sometimes you can find extra storage space by looking up:

I have a LARGE (possibly ridiculous) assortment of spices. They needed to be stored where I could find individual spices easily, and where the spices wouldn't be ruined (so not too near heat or in direct light). I found this spice rack for the kitchen drawers. It was about 1/2" too long for my drawers, but a heavy duty pair of scissors (the type that cut through pennies) fixed that:

Monday, August 25, 2008


Sometimes you just crave melted cheese. Without paying take-out prices.

Preheat oven to 450. Layer on pan:

Corn tortilla chips, preferably not very salty

taco meat (leftover from the taco salad. shredded chicken, leftover or canned would be an alternate protein)

black beans

shredded cheddar

Bake for 3-5 minutes. Watch them!!

Then add:

tomatoes (I used multi-colored cherry tomatoes from my last CSA box)

sliced peppers, hot or not:

then salsa (GREAT way to use up the last of jars in your fridge) and sour cream:

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Baked Peach Oatmeal

This was a contribution to a ladies' brunch. It turned out very good, but I was running behind and forgot to take a picture of the end product before I ran out to the car to leave for the event.

5 large peaches

1 stick butter, melted

4 cups rolled oats (old fashioned oats)

4 large eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

3/4 C brown sugar

~ 1 tsp vanilla

~ 1 tsp cinnamon

~ 1 Tbsp fresh ginger

some fresh nutmeg

Cinnamon Sugar topping (optional)

I baked this in my Le Creuset casserole. It's great for potlucks because it easily keeps the contents warm for a thirty minute drive and the time on the buffet line. If you aren't taking it to an event, a 13 x 9 dish would work fine.

Preheat oven to 350. Peel and roughly chop the peaches. Throw them into your casserole dish. Add a splash of vanilla, a teaspoon of cinnamon, a grating of nutmeg and some ginger. I used fresh ginger. (I keep it in my freezer, unwrapped, and it lasts for months.)

Melt the butter (I did so in the microwave). Stir in milk, and then eggs. Stir in oatmeal, and then combine this mixture with the peaches. I then sprinkled a Pampered Chef cinnamon sugar sprinkle on top. Bake for about 30 minutes.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Taco Salad

I happen to have lots of wonderful tomatoes on hand this week. I also found 80/20 ground beef at the grocery store at a really good price. It was already on sale for 2.69 pound, but then this package also had a $2 off coupon .... so I paid under $5 for two and a half pounds of ground beef. So what better to make with tomatoes, corn and ground beef than a taco salad?

ground beef (I used a 2.5 pound package, but had lots leftover)
2 large tomatoes
2 large onions (I used Vidalia)
1 bell pepper
2 ears corn
salad greens
tortilla chips
taco seasoning (in a packet or from a jar)
2 limes

Brown the beef in a pan. Using a spoon, drain off the fat. Mix the taco mix with about 1/2 cup of water and stir into the beef. I also added a few cubes each of garlic and cilantro. Dried cilantro would work just as well. Roll two limes on the counter before juicing them over the beef:

Peel the two onions. Cut off the ends, cut them in half, and then slice into half moons. These go into another pan (following a splash of oil):

Stir frequently. Remove the browned onions to a bowl.

Turn the heat back up on the pan. Cut the kernels off the two ears of corn (a light sawing motion with a serrated knife seems to work well). Throw them in the hot pan just long enough to warm and give a touch of color:

Meanwhile wash your salad greens. Wash and cut the tomatoes and bell pepper.

Have another veggie you want to add? By all means chop it up! Jalapenos, olives, shredded carrot, cucumber, zucchini, canned beans ... all would be lovely additions to the party. I used guacamole, sour cream, shredded cheddar and salsa as toppings. If you happy to have a cherry tomato, it makes a great "cherry" for your fiesta sundae.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Leftovers 911: Pizza

I moved recently. I think we ordered upwards of ten pizzas in a three week period, which is pretty unusual for us. (One a month is probably a bit higher than normal)

In my opinion, the best way to rewarm a slice of pizza:

Turn a large skillet or griddle to medium. Put the slices in the pan, crust down, and WAIT. The rewarmed pizza will have a nice crisp crust.

Another method: place the pizza slice directly on the wire rack in a warm oven.

Either is much preferable to the soggy, chewy crust a microwave produces - unless you are in a hurry.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Weeknight Salmon

Simple weeknight meal - I think this one was under 15 minutes total prep, if you don't count the time the salmon was marinating.

Marinate salmon in an equal mixture of soy sauce and sherry. (Weird, I know, but it works!)

When you get home, start a large skillet on high. When it gets quite hot, turn it down a little and add some oil to the pan. (I used olive oil and sesame oil, but any oil with a high smoke point will be fine.)

Add the salmon, flesh side down, to the sizzling pan. Cook for about three minutes.

Meanwhile, I peeled and sliced a cucumber. I then ... pay close attention here .. opened a bottle of SALAD DRESSING from my fridge. Apply this carefully to a pile of cucumber slices.

Using a very thin spatula, flip the salmon pieces. (the thin spatula means you'll leave less of the tasty fish attached to the pan). Turn down the heat, and pour the marinating juice over the fish. Cook until the fish is as you prefer. I like my salmon medium rare. The southerner likes his a bit more cooked.

Serve with a side of soy sauce, teriyaki or similar topping.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Now we're cooking!

Or more accurately, now I can find my tools!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Open Faced Turkey Meatball Sandwiches with Fresh Tomatoes and Peppers

Someone asked me recently if I could do a meal in twenty or thirty minutes. So I decided to set the timer and see if I could!

1 onion
2 bell peppers
1 bag (16 oz.) frozen turkey meatballs
3 large tomatoes
handful of fresh basil
salt, pepper
oregano, garlic, thyme
2 rolls, or 4 slices of toast

First I set the timer:

Then I started the pot on the stove, and added some olive oil.

I peeled an onion, chopped it in half, and sliced the halves into slices:

Into the pot went the slices.

Then I roughly sliced the bell peppers:

Meanwhile, the meatballs went into a bowl and into the microwave. (just to warm - these were fully cooked ones. I think these came from Aldi. Other stores carry similar products)

Stir the onion and peppers, and season with salt and pepper.

Then chop the tomatoes:

Add the tomatoes to the pot, along with about 2 teaspoons of oregano, 1/2 teaspoon of thyme, and a few cloves of garlic (or the frozen or dried equivilant).

I cut the meatballs in half. Then add them to the pot.

Add some chopped basil (or dried).

Scoop mixture over an opened roll. Top with some shredded cheese.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fried Apples and Carrots

5 large granny smith apples, peeled, cored and chunked
1/2 pound baby carrots (or 1/2 pound regular carrots, peeled and chunked)
3 Tablespoons butter

Put the carrots in the microwave for about four minutes to speed up the whole process. Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the apples, stirring frequently. Add the now softer carrots. sprinkle with salt (1/2 teaspoon?). Grate some fresh nutmeg over the mixture. Sprinkle on some ground allspice and ginger (1/2 teaspoon of each, perhaps). stir, taste, and add more salt if necessary. (Remember - raw produce has no salt to start, and food tastes funny without salt). You don't need to add any sugar - this doesn't end up being a sweet dish, but cooking the carrots and apples highlights their natural sweetness.

This was a WONDERFUL sidekick to grilled pork chops with bbq sauce!

I will post a picture once I find the little USB connector cable ... moving is such fun.