Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Thai Papaya Salad

Do you ever crave something you've never had before? No? Just me?

A while back, I was craving som tam (ส้มตำ), Thai green papaya salad, even though I had never had it before. Just looking at the list of ingredients, I knew I wanted it, knew I would love it. Shredded unripe papaya, tomatoes, green beans, dried shrimp, peanuts, hot chiles, lime juice, sugar, fish sauce. I finally had it for the first time at Sab E Lee, and, seriously, I could do shots of the dressing, it's that good. Then recently I decided I needed to make it myself.

So I consulted with Leela from She Simmers, using her recipe, and asking her a couple questions along the way. I have a mortar and pestle, but it's the Mexican kind with the rough granite. My instinct told me I needed a smooth-sided mortar to make som tam, so I used a large cutting board and a metal bowl, and alternated between the granite pestle and my meat tenderizer. Don't laugh. It worked.

Aside from an altercation with the vegetable peeler, in which I removed a fair-sized chunk from my thumb, everything came together nicely. Lots of pounding, crushing, mixing, more pounding. It's a fair amount of work for a salad, but any time I get to pound on things, it's worth it.

Will I make it again? Hell, yes. But I think I'll ask my husband to peel the papaya.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Random Quotes from the WIP Household, Part XIII


Youngest (to Dad): You have a condition you're not telling me about?

Me: He's pregnant.


"Dude, did you know that Bad Kitty likes olive oil?"

"Of course, all dogs like olive oil....f*ck...she's a cat."


I have epiphanies, like, all the freakin' time.


Yeah, but he's all big and gay. And those aren't qualities I look for in my men. That would be strange.


Youngest: She has way too many crisises. Crisisi?
Me: Crises. It's Latin.
Youngest: Like the pig?


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pappa al Pomodoro

I had half of a baguette leftover that wasn't worth eating. Until I remembered that you could put dead bread in soup, as a way to thicken and a mark of frugality. Behold, pappa al pomodoro. I'm not sure exactly what 'pappa' translates as, but I think it's something like mush, hence: tomato mush. Not very appetizing, is it? I'll stick with pappa al pomodoro.

I used this recipe from Dana Treat, chicken stock instead of vegetable stock, and a little less basil because I didn't have enough.

Whatever you do, don't skip the garnish of baked basil and croutons. It's amazing. You could sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top if you wish, or even add some crispy pancetta. I didn't. And it was still good.

Pretty amazing for dead bread, huh?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lamb Ragu

With the weather being cold and nasty (well, for southern CA, anyway), I wanted something meaty and hearty. I came across this recipe for Lamb Ragu from the kitchn, and knew it was exactly what I was looking for. I also knew that my slow cooker would be perfect for the job.

I'm still wary of my slow cooker. I don't want to plug it in and and leave it on while nobody's home. I know, I know, thousands of people do it all the time. Maybe I'll get to that point eventually. But since I'm not there yet, I let the ragu cook overnight, then put in in the refrigerator in the morning. Reheated for dinner, it was amazing.

I altered the recipe only slightly, using dried herbs instead of fresh. The lamb was perfectly tender - I didn't need two forks to shred the chunks, just one smoosh and it fell apart. Acid from the tomatoes, sweetness from the carrots - everything blended together nicely. You could serve the ragu over polenta, potatoes, rice, whatever. I served it over this pasta because it reminded me of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (and it was also the perfect shape, almost like a Scoop chip, to hold the ragu).

My slow cooker may win me over yet...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Fried Cardoons

What the heck is a cardoon, you ask? It's a big celery-looking vegetable related to the artichoke, that tastes a little of both. Oh, just go to Wikipedia.

How do you cook them? They're very fibrous, so they need to be boiled first. After boiling, you could cook them in a gratin topped with breadcrumbs. Or you could bread and fry them like I did.

Fried Cardoons
1. Trim any brown spots, and peel any accessible strings from the cardoons.
2. Cut into 2-3" pieces.
3. Boil for 20-30 minutes or until soft. Drain and pat dry.
4. Dip each piece in beaten egg, then in seasoned bread crumbs, pressing on the crumbs so they stick.
5. Fry in canola or vegetable oil until browned.

I served them with Caesar dressing. Marinara sauce would be equally delicious. Sriracha mayonnaise would probably be good, too.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cornmeal Crackers with Dill and Grains of Paradise

Since it's now getting dark earlier and the weather's cooling off, I now have the desire to bake things. After the coconut chocolate chip cookies and the Nutella chocolate chip cookies, I was pretty cookied out, and wanted something not sweet. Crackers.

I found this recipe for Corn Crackers with Savory over at The World of Food and Cooking. Instead of the dried savory the recipe called for, I used dried dill and crushed grains of paradise*.

Exactly what I was craving. Dunk them in soup or top with cheese and an olive. Or just munch on them plain.

*I received the grains of paradise from Marx Foods free of charge. They didn't pay me to mention them or use their products. They're just a really cool company with lots of awesome stuff.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies

So, after the coconut chocolate chip cookies, I still had some chips left. And Nutella. *cue light bulb*

A quick search brought me to Kirbie's recipe. So I made it.

And it was good.