Thursday, July 28, 2016

What I Ate: Flatbread Pizza

A few weeks ago, a group of my coworkers and I met up to make some fresh mozzarella. My one coworker's cousin and her father were the instructors for the evening, and funnily enough, I had already taken their class through a local community education center. It was great to see them again and to interact with them on a more personal level.

We enjoyed delicious food, good conversation, and in the end, we left with a delicious ball of fresh mozzarella each. I brainstormed what I should do with the cheese and settled on pizza, mainly because I was also craving chicken wings.

I ended up making one of those floofy, fancy flatbread pizzas that we made fun of on mozzarella night. But hey, I don't mind those floofy, fancy flatbread pizzas, especially because it means that we also get a decent dose of vegetables whilst we indulge.
If you ever get a chance to enjoy freshly made fresh mozzarella, I highly recommend it. The texture, the temperature, the flavor is other worldly.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Yuca Frita & Citrus Mojo

The past few posts and this one are all about deep frying. Well, whenever I set up to fry any dish, I try and make good use of the pan of shortening instead of throwing it out after one use. So, when I was in the mood to eat chipotle nacho beef but didn't feel like actually making nachos or tacos, I decided I would fry up some yuca.

My grocery carries fresh cassava (a.k.a. yuca) but I think it's a pain to process, or at least it seems that way from what I've seen on Chopped. So, I prefer to buy the frozen kind. The only thing to watch out for is pulling out the tough weird root-like stem thing running through the center; frozen yuca has been peeled but that stem hasn't been removed.

If you're going with fresh, make sure you buy one where the flesh is completely and beautifully white. It might be difficult to inspect but at my store, they already have the yuca chopped in half to expose the flesh which makes for easy inspection. There are plenty of authentic, useful resources out there that will help you navigate how to prep cassava so I'm not going to even attempt to make a guide when in all honesty, I've only ever dealt with frozen yuca. But it doesn't even matter because the frozen tastes just as delicious as fresh.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
yuca frita
1½ lbs. frozen yuca
oil for frying
+ salt to taste

citrus mojo
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon lime juice
3 tablespoons sour orange juice
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

One v. important note is that you should never eat raw yuca. Yuca contains cyanide and is toxic in its raw form. There are several varieties of cassava, some of which are more toxic than others. Sweet cassava is typically what is available in groceries in the States (due to our proximity to Latin America) and this variety is the least toxic and is made safe to eat simply by boiling. Bitter varieties of cassava require days of soaking before cooking, but bitter varieties are typically found in Africa.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Funnel Cake

Every year in the field near my office, the town hosts a carnival. It makes me nostalgic for the town carnival I used to visit as a kid. My mom would give me $10 to spend, which would only give me enough tickets to go on maybe three rides and then the leftover would be spent on either kettle corn or funnel cake, depending on my mood. Funnel cake usually won out, since it was the less accessible option; popcorn is the more readily available snack, right?

These days, I'm not as keen on visiting carnivals - waiting on a 30-minute queue for a 30-second ride just doesn't have the same charm. But, that doesn't mean I can't still enjoy a good funnel cake. But, I avoid the crowds and the kids and indulge at home instead.

There are lots of recipes out there for funnel cakes made with a pancake-like batter but I'm an advocate for pate a choux batter. It yields really light and crisp swirls of cake that puff up beautifully. Plus, the batter keeps really well in the fridge so you can address your cravings after dinner for an entire week; if you're as gluttonous as I am, this aspect is probably the winning trait.
Ingredients [yields 6 to 8 small funnel cakes]:
½ stick butter (¼ cup)
½ cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup flour
2 eggs
oil for frying
+ powdered sugar

Monday, July 18, 2016

Fried Calamari

The best fried calamari I ever had was in Barcelona at a restaurant by a manmade beach. It was particularly memorable because it was made with the tube portion and they were humongous. Like, 5" diameter huge.

These calamari were inspired by those Barcelona calamari. I purposely chose huge tubes to try and recreate the effect. To be frank, I missed the tentacles a little - the texture is different and enjoyable - but I liked the result nonetheless and the nostalgia was awesome.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
calamari
2 lbs. squid (tubes and/or tentacles)
¼ cup flour
¼ cup potato starch
¼ cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne
oil for frying

dipping sauce
½ cup San Marzano tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon chopped oregano
1 teaspoon chopped basil
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
pinch salt
pinch pepper

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Pineapple Margaritas

I feel like because it's summer and because I have a bottle of tequila staring at me on my counter every day, I've been obsessed with making margaritas. This time around, I decided to make a pineapple marg.

While I worry about breaking my margarita glasses after imbibing, I do feel like drinking a margarita out of a smoothie glass just wouldn't have the same impact and it just wouldn't taste as good, right?
Ingredients [serves 4]:
1 ripe pineapple, chopped
1 cup coconut water
2 limes, juiced
1 cup tequila
1 cup ice
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon himalayan salt
½ teaspoon lime zest

Monday, July 11, 2016

Groom's Cake

My coworker asked me to make a grooms cake for her wedding a few weekends ago and I happily obliged. She sent me an example from Pinterest and I did my best to recreate it, minus the glove (her request) and with a little less finesse.
This was my first time working with fondant and I think it went okay. It wasn't the easiest medium to work with - too sticky and finicky - but it worked out okay in the end, I think. My "customer" seemed pretty pleased and that's really all that matters, right?

I used my white cake and bavarian buttercream recipes, only altering the cake slightly to make marble cake, at V's request.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Couscous with Golden Raisins

I'm heading to Greece in August - something I continue to mention again and again because I'm just really excited - and I was wondering if I should put a pause on eating Mediterranean food knowing I'd be off to enjoy some genuine delicious fare but I thought, nah, because it's just too good and it's perfect for grilling.

So usually when we have falafel and chicken souvlaki, I usually make flatbread pita but on this occasion, I couldn't be bothered to knead dough or turn on the oven. So, I decided to make a fluffy couscous instead. I added in some chopped herbs and lemon and pine nuts for crunch and of course, a good handful of golden raisins, as the title of this post suggests.

The result was a gorgeous, fluffy couscous that was delicious and flavorful on its own but also made for a great neutral side dish to go alongside both falafel and chicken souvlaki (I couldn't choose which main I wanted to eat so I made both), some grilled eggplant, a pile of fresh crunchy bell pepper, pickled pepperoncini peppers, some feta, and of course, chunky tzatziki.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
2 tablespoons butter
¼ onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1½ cups couscous
1½ cups chicken stock
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon chopped dill
¼ cup golden raisins
¼ cup chopped toasted pine nuts

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Pimm's Cup

I hope everyone had a great Independence Day. I loved my long weekend and it kind of sucks to be back at work. I'm actually daydreaming about the amazing food we had this past weekend; of course it'll all eventually be posted. I thought I would slide back into reality slowly and start this week with a blog post about a delicious libation.

When I went to New Orleans last year, I discovered the Pimm's Cup cocktail. It originated in the UK - and is the mascot cocktail of Wimbledon - but it's since become a staple cocktail in the Crescent City and rightly so. It's the most refreshing, delightful drink, which is needed in that humid city. Plus it reflects the cheerful disposition of the people.

I'm heading to London in August for a few days (as the bread of a Greek Island sandwich; that analogy was meant to explain that I'm bookending a trip to Greece with a few days in London) and I plan on sampling as many Pimm's Cups as possible while I'm there so I can compare and decide if it's better here or there.

In the meantime, I'm whipping up batches at home, trying to recreate the fresh, vibrant flavors I loved so much in NOLA.
Ingredients [serves 1]:
ice
3 cucumber slices
6 mint leaves
1½ oz. Pimm's No. 1
3 oz. lemonade
3 oz. lemon-lime soda

garnish
pineapple wedge
maraschino cherry
cucumber slice

Friday, July 1, 2016

Momofuku Milk Bar Birthday Cake

Just for kicks, even though it was no one's birthday - though one could make the argument that this weekend is America's birthday - I made the Momofuku Milk Bar birthday cake. I saw the recipe on Bon Appetit's website and I couldn't resist. And, I thought it would be a super fun and festive post to share just before the holiday weekend. I know that it's way too hot to turn on an oven, but if you're willing to spend a few bucks to crank up the air-con, it would be worth it.
To make it more thematic for this weekend, you could make this with patriotic sprinkles! That would be so fun.
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