Sunday, May 31, 2009

What to do with a monster cabbage? (Part 1)

Hubby kept talking about a cabbage salad that he used to make, and I love cabbage, so I bought a monster. Seriously, I should've taken a picture of it next to my dog, because they were about the same size. But the cabbage wasn't furry (thank God!).

Said cabbage languished in the veggie drawer for about a week, so I had to take matters into my own hands.

I chopped up some cabbage, and made soup.

Since I haven't posted an actual recipe of my own in a while, here you go. And since I like to be a pain in the ass, this is exactly how I made it.

Ham, Cabbage and Potato Soup

Chop slightly less than half of a monster cabbage. Slice the remainder of a bag of baby carrots, and 2 celery ribs. Mince 2 cloves of garlic, and chop half an onion. Dice 4 slices of a hunk of smoked ham. Dice 3 smallish Russet potatoes, dumping them into a bowl of water so they don't start turning brown.

Melt the chicken broth from your freezer, and discover you don't have enough. Search for some sort of chicken bouillon, and fail to find any. Pull out a leftover baked turkey wing from the fridge, and separate the meat from everything else. Make a quick unseasoned broth with the latter part. Dice the meat.

Saute the onion, garlic, carrot and celery in olive oil with a little salt and a lot of pepper. Drain the potatoes, dry them briefly in paper towel, and add them to the veggies after a few minutes. Dump in a bunch of paprika, remembering that it's fat-soluble, so you can't add it to the broth later. Saute until it starts sticking a little, then add in all your broth, a couple bay leaves, a bit of oregano, and the merest pinch of thyme, because your Hubby hates thyme.

Bring to a boil, and simmer until the potatoes are a little more done than you like, because you kind of forgot about it. Add the cabbage, and smoosh it down. Season with Vegeta (that's been in your pantry forever but still has flavor), because you're worried about the broth not being flavorful enough. Let it simmer until the cabbage cooks down a little.

Make Hubby try it. Smile when he says "That's good. Like holy shit, that's good."

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Best Peach Cobbler Ever

About 4 years ago, I was searching for a peach cobbler recipe online, and found this one at Allrecipes. You see, I have a peach tree. With way too many peaches. That like to go from rock hard to much in about 3 days.

Ever since I found this recipe (minus the one year that my peaches totally sucked), my household and my workplace have been subjected to numerous cobblers during late May / early June.

Make it. You'll like it.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Celery Lavender Cocktail

A while back I had received a sample bag of lavender from Marx Foods. I had never cooked with lavender before - when I think of it, I think of soap, or those little sachets you put in your underwear drawer. But to cook with it? Hmm...

Perusing the interwebs, I came across this recipe for a celery lavender cocktail from Marc of [No Recipes]. If you haven't checked out Marc's site (or his other site focusing on individual ingredients), you really should. He's one of my favorite bloggers.

Anyhow, on to the cocktail: Celery? Lavender? In a drink? Why the heck not.

Chop, blend, strain. Pour into a mixer with gin and ice. Shake. Pour.

This is seriously unique. You can smell the lavender, but you can't really taste it. It does leave a slightly (pleasant) floral aftertaste on your tongue, however. Mostly you get the green flavor of celery, tempered by the lemon juice and sugar. Not your typical cocktail. But something I'd definitely have again.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Green Bean Bhajis

I had a pack of young thin green beans in my freezer, courtesy of my MIL. What to do? Make bhajis. I had only ever had onion bhajis before, and loved them. So why not with green beans?

I used this recipe from The Crispy Cook, omitting the cilantro ('cause I didn't have any), and reducing the cumin, because Hubby claims to hate it. I also ground the cumin seeds instead of leaving them whole, because I don't like biting into pungent seeds.

Baked, these didn't turn out so well. The chickpea batter wasn't cooked in the middle, and the whole thing was kind of soggy. (Maybe if I increased the oven heat to 400, I'd feel differently.) But when I heated some oil in the skillet and fried them, my opinion changed. Crispy, crunchy, yumminess. Yes, yumminess is now a word.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Food & Wine, June 2009

OK, I'm finally caught up on my food mags with this post. Just in time for the next onslaught.

This issue is a must-have if you like to grill. Front cover copy reads "best grilling recipes -- juicy burgers, meaty ribs, easy marinades & sauces plus top summer wines & beers". Makes you hungry just reading it, doesn't it?

Here are the recipes I've bookmarked:
Not too many recipes bookmarked this go-round, but the section on grilling with wood, the "ultimate sausage guide", and the grilling tips throughout make this issue worth buying. And the article "A Beer Pilgrim in Brewtopia", showcasing a few San Diego breweries, is a must-read for anyone living here or planning a visit.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Saveur, May 2009

Yup, still behind in my food mag summaries. I just can't seem to catch up with anything these days.
  • Pasta with Fried Peppers and Bread Crumbs (or Pasta con Peproni Cruschi e Mollica Fritta) -Want now. Will have to find a friend to smuggle in peperoni cruschi di Senise from Basilicata.
  • Stewed White Beans (or Etli Kuru Sasulye) - I love stewed beans. And I love lamb. Enough said. Wait, not quite. There's chiles de arbol and Aleppo pepper too. This recipe alone makes me want to live in Turkey.
  • Stir-Fried Iceberg Lettuce (or Shoon Chow Saang Choy) - I know I keep saying it, but cooked lettuce is surprisingly good.
And then, almost the entire Vietnamese section:

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Stuffed Tomatoes

I found some beautiful tomatoes at the market, about 1.5 to 2" in diameter, still on the vine. Had to buy them. I decided stuffing them was the way to go.

I cut them in half, removed the seeds, salted them and let them drain for ~15 minutes, then stuffed them with my "egg ball" mix, shredded Gruyere, chopped capers, and chopped green onions.

(The egg ball mix is a blend of fine bread crumbs, garlic, parmesan, and herbs. It's called "egg ball" mix because you mix it with eggs, then fry spoonfuls of the batter. The resulting fritters are great in tomato sauce for a meatless dinner. The mix also works well for stuffing artichokes. But those are other posts that I haven't written yet.)

I then placed the tomatoes in a olive oil-coated baking dish, and baked for about 20 minutes. At that point, they looked like they needed more cheese, so I added some more shredded Gruyere, and placed back in the oven (turned off) to melt.

Absolutely delicious.

You'll probably notice that there are way more pictures than normal in this post. For some reason, almost all my pics turned out very well (at least in my eyes). Diffused natural light and a little luck makes for droolworthy (in my humble opinion) photographs .

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Food & Wine, May 2009

Catching up on my backlog of food magazines, here are my picks from the May 2009 issue of Food & Wine:

Friday, May 1, 2009

Portillo's Italian Beef Sandwiches

I just had Portillo's Italian beef sandwiches for dinner.

Am I in Chicago? No. Did I go to Buena Park or Moreno Valley? No. I went to Portillo's website, and ordered a sandwich pack.

You get 8 sandwich loaves of bread, 2 1-lb packs of Italian beef (slow-roasted, seasoned, bottom round, extremely thin cut), a bag of roasted green peppers, 2 tubs of jus, and a bottle of Marconi giardiniera (the best available, except for maybe Il Primo). All sent priority in a styrofoam box with ice packs.

Toast the bread, heat the just, soak the meat, assemble sandwich. I like mine "hot and wet", which means copious amounts of giardiniera, and lots of jus.

Amazing. Hubby finally agrees that Portillo's is better than Philippe's in LA. And at $68 for the fixings for 8 sandwiches, not a bad deal, considering local prices for inferior product. Definitely not local, not slow food. But worth it every now and then. (You can also get 20 sandwiches for $150, and 40 sandwiches for $265. They also have ribs and Chicago-style hot dogs, which are good, but I can't say no to the Italian beef.)

By the way, this is a completely unpaid, unsponsored, uncompensated post. I grew up with Portillo's, and miss it frequently.