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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Baba Ganoush is Ready for It's Closeup!

Here it is! My first (of hopefully many) J'eat? video featuring the recipes from the January 24th Hummus post.
It's a bit rough and dorky, but hey, so am I!
I hope you enjoy it!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Another Toast Post!

Toast has become the latest hipster trend. Which is funny, because I've been eating it since I was little, as have we all. And I'm pretty sure that once the ancients learned how to bake bread, they learned how to make toast.
That is not to say we can't expand our toast repertoire. Because I have. This ain't yo mamma's toast!

I know what you're thinking, because I thought it too. As did Mrs. Jones and Skees when they stopped by to try it with me. But it is all good! All of it...good!

Let's start with the one that is most familiar shall we?
Hummus, Cucumber, Walnut and Cranberry
I used a whole grain bread for all, a personal preference, go with what you like for the toast body. Then I just topped with the hummus, sliced cucumber, walnuts and dried cranberries. Nutty, cool, sweet, familiar.

Next  went way outta bounds! But stay with me, I'll explain.
I was at an Indian restaurant once, that had a peas and bananas dish on the buffet. As I am an adventurous sort, I tried it and it was amazing! Like mind blowing. And then the other day I saw a toast recipe for peanut butter and sriracha hot sauce on top. So...I like peanut butter and banana on toast, I love the idea of the sriracha and peanut butter and I remembered how mind blowing the bananas and peas were...I promise you, it's just crazy enough to work!

This last toast is based on a salad I've been playing with. And it's another variation on the uber up to the minute Avocado Toast trend.
Roasted Beets, Pepitos, Kimchi and Avocado.
So yeah, just chop up the kimchi, mix with the avocado, spread on the toast, top with the beets and pepitos. There is texture, mouth feel from the avocados, a bit of crunch from the pepitos, spice from the kimchi and the beets lend an earthy sweetness.

Toast is one of the easiest things to make, so why not up your game a bit and try some new topping combinations?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Core of It

You think you know how, but maybe this will make it easier...
You will need one apple and a paring knife.

Cut the apple in half, and then half again.

Starting from the bottom of the apple remove the core.

The core will pop out smoothly. Why? Because of the angle of it from the bottom to the top. In the picture below, the bottom of the apple is at the left. Notice the angle of the core? It enables you to slide your knife in and remove that core with ease!

Pretty sweet!

Try it and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Space to Create

My condo is 675 square feet of mine, all mine. I've decorated it over the 9 years I've lived here in layers. Finding what works, getting rid of what doesn't. As we go through the pictures of my space, you'll see a few themes.

First is the color scheme, which is all based off a favorite poster of mine. You'll probably recognize it. I wanted the space to have continuity, so the colors carried through do just that.

The other theme you'll see is old and new. I love to hit up thrift stores, garage sales, Ikea and Target, to find things that make me happy.  My home office is the perfect example. The table is a thrift store kitchen table, the chair from Ikea and the lamp from Target. Oh and the curtains are sheets a friend kindly transformed for me.

Food is a very strong presence throughout the whole space. Just look at the items I use for organization on my desk top. A lively tomato paste can, an old recipe box and a salt cod box. Yep, food everywhere, and it get's better as we go along, you'll see.

Speaking of organization, I've found unique ways to keep things where I need them, without disrupting the aesthetic. (Yeah, I just used that fancy $10 word, correctly too!)
This is a tie rack with inspirations for recipes attached to it via binder clips. Works for me!

Researching for inspirations is a big part of my creativity. And I wanted a space in which, if need be, I could curl up and read old cookbooks, new magazines and anything else that strikes my fancy. This is my reading corner. Isn't it perfect? My brother Aaron and The Old Bird (my mom) collaborated on a gift of that sweet ottoman, and the lamp is from Crate and Barrel, it is one of the most expensive items I've ever bought ($60, if you can believe it). See if you can find all the food themed items in the space. It's a bit ridiculous, but then so am I, so apropos.

I'll give you a close up, so you can see the details that just please me no end.

Oh, and did I mention the cookbooks? No, oh, ok, here are some of them.

I have a real diverse selection, which keeps the creativity moving. Plus I have fun little bits of things found and given that make me smile when I see them

Oddly enough, red isn't my favorite color, I know, crazy right? It's everywhere. Purple is. And it is no where to be seen. The red color keeps the space bright, without overwhelming it, as it's shots here and there. Like here in the dining space. And notice the art work. Those are cook books and cooking tools in shadow boxes. The table is from a flea market and the chairs are from Target. Great match!

I've been very lucky to have friends and family give me some truly amazing things through the years and the large picture in the entry way is one of them. It is 31"x 51" and a Wonder Bread ad from the late 30's early 40's. 

The same friend (Sue the Awesome!) gave me the pic in the living area as well. This one is a Johnson Outboard Motor ad from the late 50's and is 50" x 63". No other art was needed on that wall! The coffee table is an Osh Kosh trunk that was my Grandmother Ruocco's when she went off to college, passed down to my mom and then to me. And the books you see? All in alphabetical order by author and title, cause everyone is a little OCD.

My love of food vies with my love of books. My name is Chris, and I have a used book store addiction. And lot's of folks enable this addiction, The Old Bird chief among them. The Dr. Seuss books are two of my all time favorites. If you don't know about The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins or Bartholomew and the Ooblek, then you have missed on pure Seussian perfection. 

You may be thinking the tv is almost as old as the sideboard on which it sits, but hey, it was free. If anyone has a flat screen they are looking to unload, here I be! Four of the photos, the boy on a bike, the children playing, the bike, and the boy swimming were all found by the Old Bird in the first classroom she ever taught in. Family history is pretty cool isn't it?

And now for my favorite place to be, the Kitchen. It isn't perfect, nothing in my house is really Pinterest ready, but it is right for me. I won some kitchen appliances (fridge and stacked washer and dryer) in a cooking competition, which are far too big for the space. Making entry into it tight squeeze. But some day, when I get my rear in gear, I'll sell them and get more space appropriate appliances. Some day.... There are two more pic's of the Old Birds on either side of the kitchen stool. And resting on the window sill is an egg weigher that was my Grandpa Ruocco's from when he was a chicken farmer.

My knives, some of them, just the ones I use most often. 

Another corner of the space. That is the last of the pictures from The Old Bird, and the roasting pan (a gift from my sister Katie), which you can almost make out the word Savory on, is where I keep my bread.

There is an open pantry shelf near the entrance to the kitchen, where instead of canned goods I've set more of my collections. Like the red handled kitchen tools from the 20's and 30's. (Thanks Aunt Marguerite for many of them.)

And more cookbooks...because I can not be stopped!

Thanks for taking the tour of my space. Perhaps you'll have an understanding of my inspirations. Perhaps you'll think this crackpot really likes red, food and cookbooks way too much! It's all right, both of those things are very much a part of me. Ciao for now!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Food, the Best Medicine!

A truly informative article about the food insecure and how they are unable to afford the foods that would assist in keeping them well.

As they say at the end of the article "For all of us, the price is far too high when patients are forced to choose between food or medicine."

Does food factor into your wellness?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Hummus, Muhummara and Baba Ganoush...Oh My!

Had my first video shoot for the blog today. Lot's of editing still to be done, but the video will be available soon!

Decided to make some easy and crazy good dips, olives and some flat-bread for my video blog initiation.

Started with the Flat-Bread, and yeah I cheated.
Bought the whole grain pizza dough at the place where foods are whole. There are a bazillion recipes for pizza/bread dough, use the one you like best. Or go the way I did. Whatever works for you.

I heated the oven up to 450 degrees and put my cast iron skillet in it to heat up. That thing is my go to kitchen workhorse/staple!

Broke the dough into 4 somewhat equal pieces, flattened them out and tossed two at at time into the pan. Once they were good and toasty brown (3 or so minutes about) I flipped them and baked til toasty brown on the other side. Done. Easy. Excellent.

Orange Roasted Olives were even easier.
Same oven, 450 degrees, smaller cast iron pan. Tossed in olives and thin strips of orange peel. You could use zest here as well. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until wrinkling and fragrant then douse with a shot of olive oil. Done. Easy. Excellent.

Now for the Hummus.
I used 1 cup dried garbanzos/chickpeas/chi chi beans that I soaked overnight. Then I drained them, tossed them into a slow cooker with water to cover, 1 tablespoon of ground cumin and 1 tablespoon of minced garlic. On high and they were done if 4 hours. (Edit: You then let them cool a bit and rub them between a towel or your hands to remove the skin to make for a smoother hummus.) And yes, you can take it easy and use canned chickpeas. Whatever works for you works for me.

Threw 2 cups of the cooked chickpeas into a blender with 1/2 cup of tahini, the juice of one lemon, 1 tablespoon of garlic, 1 tablespoon of ground cumin and 1/4 cup of olive oil. Oh and season with salt and pepper. Blended until smoother, adding more olive oil on the way until it got to the consistency I like. Chunky and smooth, if you can believe it. 

And here it is with the flat breads. (That's a sprinkle of cayenne on top, you can go the paprika route if you are so inclined.)

Now for the Baba Ganoush. 
Eggplant is not my favorite vegetable, but I adore it here. Like I'll knock you over to get to it like it, so outta my way!

Turned the oven onto to broil and the famous cast iron pan when in to heat up. Cut the eggplant in half and removed the green stem. Placed it in the pan (with a red pepper which we'll use for the next recipe) and let it get dark on both sides. Took about 20 minutes. And yes that dark. You need that smokiness.

The eggplant innards were scraped into a bowl (yes black bits and all) with about 1/4 cup of chopped onion, 1 teaspoon of garlic, 2 tablespoons of tahini, the juice of 1/2 a lemon and salt and pepper. I used my stick blender and blended until smoother. Added in 1/2 a roma tomato, seeded and chopped small, 1/4 cup of chopped curly parsley and seasoned with salt and pepper. Smoky fabulousness!

Last, and most definitely not least, Muhammara.
It's not too well knows, but I promise you, it will become so once you see how the flavor brightens up whatever you serve it with.

Took 1 roasted red pepper and tossed into a blender with, 1/4 cup of walnuts, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup pomegranate syrup (found at Mediterranean or Middle Eastern markets) and seasoned with salt and pepper. Pureed until smooth. Poured into a bowl and added in about 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs. This thickens the dip and adds texture. Seasoned with some more salt and pepper and voila! 
This would make a great spread for a falafel or gyro sandwich.

And then we we feasted! Cause it all was that good.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

When Life Gives You Noodles!

Found myself with some unexpected free time this noon day. So I decided to try a dish I've been mulling for a while. It isn't a Thai Laab, and it isn't quite curried noodles. But it's hella good, for sure!

  • 1 tsp. Olive Oil 
  • 1 1/2 cups of Broccoli, just the florets
  • 1 each yellow peppers, sliced
  • 1 cup Beyond Meat Vegan Crumbles 
  • 1 TBS Thai Green Curry paste. 
  • 2 tsp. minced Garlic
  • 2/3 vup Veg Broth
  • 1 tsp. Soy Sauce
  • 2 tsp. Sesame Oil 
  • 6 oz. cooked and drained Brown Rice Vermicelli
  • 2 TBS chopped Cashews

I tossed some oil in my wok at medium high heat, added in the peppers until just starting to soften. Then in went the crumbles and garlic. Stir fry until mixed well. In goes the broccoli, again stirring and frying as we go.
Let the broccoli cook until all was getting nice and bright green, then in went about 1/2 cup of the veg broth and a tablespoon of the curry paste. Stir, stir, stir, mix, mix, mix, bubble and bubble.
Toss in the noodles, stir until mixed.

Pour into serving bowls and top with some chopped cashews or almonds. And eat it all up!

Serves 2, if you're willing to share. I don't judge.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Going Green!

Yeah those are broccoli stems I'm using here. Trimmed, sliced, olive oil, salt, pepper, a 400 degree oven and a cast iron pan. 20-25 minutes, till brown, somewhat crispy and gorgeous!
Go green!

Monday, January 19, 2015

I'm Back!

It has been far too long. I'm back and I'm even hungrier now!
From here on in we explore, experiment and enjoy.
Stay tuned for more to come!