Archive | October, 2011

LASAGNA!

11 Oct

Not many things better in this world than a hot, bubbling lasagna.

So why did it take me SO long to make one? Basically the idea only came to me because of the fabulous writings (and doings!) of Kris from YoungMarriedChic.com . She came up with a delicious looking recipe for crock pot lasagna that immediately put me in the mood for something I haven’t even thought about in months. Really. But not an hour would go by yesterday without me dreaming of lasagna. And the hours…oh they went by. So quickly, in fact, that I didn’t even have the 6-8 hours to make the damn thing, unless I wanted it for breakfast…which upon second thought, I am definitely not above.

Anyhow, I still found myself thinking about this effing lasagna. Like a zombie but instead of brains, my body. Needed. Lasagna.

Who do I turn to in such a weak moment!? Paula freaking Deen, of course. By the way, how amazing is it that she has created such a name for herself that when you need a recipe, you literally turn to her for help? You know that anything Paula puts her buttery hands on is going to be hearty and delicious.

I found her recipe to be…just perfect. I didddd add some eggplant and red bell peppers for no real reason besides the fact I had eggplant and red bell peppers already in my fridge. And ummm, I don’t mean to brag but my friends and John diddddd comment about how delicious the bell peppers were before even knowing they weren’t a part of the original recipe. Not saying I’m a genius and the first person to add bell peppers but…ahem. Do it.

The recipe is too easy for my smart ass captions, even. So here are some photos. And can I just tell you how AMAZED I am with “no-boil” lasagna noodles?? NO idea this existed. I thought I’d have to search long and hard but I saw them both at Whole Foods and my little corner store. You literally just lay the hard sheets into the sauce and layer and bake and you have your own freaking lasagna. I’d just recommend that you constantly taste the meat as it simmers on the stove. One, because you are going to go crazy with hunger once the aroma fills your house, but two, it’s important that this is crazzzzzy flavorful. Add a few more little dashes of whatever you find necessary from the recipe, and taste taste taste. Oh also, I did end up spooning some of the red sauce out of the saucepan (and into my mouth / the sink) before layering it into my lasagna. It just seemed a bit too saucy for me, and I think it ended up being the right thing to do :) Oh and ah…one more thing: I found spicy italian sausage and hot chorizo at Whole Foods and decided it haddddd to be a part of this recipe. So I bought the sausage (the recipe calls for Italian sausage), squeezed it out of the casings and into my saucepan with the rest of the ground chuck. It was one of the most disgusting things to witness ever, me squeezing sausage out of condomesque casings, but oooo baby it was good. Hard to go wrong here!

It ain’t pretty, but boy was it tasty.

And as you can see by that top photo, I couldnt even wait for this sucker to cool before I slapped it on a plate.

Paula Deen’s “Lot’s o Meat” lasagna: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/lots-omeat-lasagna-recipe/index.html

 

 

Thai Night: Part II

11 Oct

Sounds like a cheap version of “The Hangover”, right? But it couldn’t possibly be worse than the second one, which offended me in every way possible as someone with a Thai background. I mean, I know I’m pretty offensive myself but holy shit, way to make a country look like it has NO redeeming qualities at all. Trannies, drug monkeys, sex sex sex…I know it’s definitely abundant in those things but geesh, throw us a freakin bone sometimes. The country is painfully aware and of how that small area looks  to the rest of the world and I know that even my parents absolutely hate it when it’s even brought up. Anyhow, this is something I could have a passionate debate about forever so I will refrain. I just love, love, love Thailand. DON’T MAKE FUN OF THE MOTHERLAND! Sure we have our moments (really, really long moments that will probably never go away ummm bad point) but we are a good people, dammit….ok….moving on, sorry sorry sorry!

So this snapper. It was one of the easiest, quickest things I’ve ever done while still somehow getting the title of the most flavorful. I’m not kidding — I woke up and could still taste the umm…muskier…version of it in my mouth from the night before. Garlic and oyster sauce are the main points of flavor here, and together, they do not disappoint. You’ll find this sauce to be borderline unfathomably delicious while being completely overwhelmed by the saltiness factor.

I got a whole snapper and asked the seafood department guy — what do you call a fish butcher? not the first line to a joke, I really am curious — to debone it and man, that poor guy did his best. Deboning isn’t mandatory but it is a definitely benefit when it comes to serving whole fish, obviously.

This is what I unwrapped. Not bad, but bones all over the place. Oh well. I could not have done ANY better, although I woulddddd love to take a class on it ASAP.

The recipe is 3 steps. Making the sauce, pouring it over the fish, and wrapping it up and baking it. Doesn’t even need your watchful eye. Aaaah I love baking fish in foil. I haven’t done it wrong yet! Do you know how much that means to me?? I have failed many, many recipes. Fish baking is not one of them.

Sweaty. In the modeling industry we call it “glowing”. I was glowing all over the place.

I was VERY generous with the sauce. As in, whatever the recipe told me to put in, I added just a litttttle bit more. As you’ve probably noticed, I do this with a lot of things. There is no middle ground, no medium for me. I only have extremes. And it hasn’t hurt thus far!

I used so much sauce that the foil pretty much had to be wrapped up into a bowl. And really, if you taste it before baking, it is going to be just…beyond salty. But GOOD salty. Don’t think you failed! It will be better after baking. Also, if you add some sautéed veggies around the fish, it makes for a complete meal annnnd those veggies sop up all the extra sauce quite nicely. You will love.

That’s happiness. If that face isn’t enough for you to want to make this, you are crazy and heartless and I don’t even know if I want you around these parts no more!!!

Here’s the recipe, and I know. I totally used some random link from about.com. It’s just that this is the only recipe I could find online that really had alllll the ingredients I like in this dish. Trust me, it’s great.

Baked snapper with garlic-chili sauce (and your own sautéed veggies): http://thaifood.about.com/od/thaiseafoodrecipes/r/bakedwholefish.html

Enjoy!

 

Thai night!

10 Oct

I guess that having that night I talked about earlier with my sister, the night where we Thai’ed it up for the boys, definitely inspired me to bury my head into Thai cookbooks to learn a thing or two. There is something about cooking food you know your mom, grandma, great grandma made in the most homey of ways…it’s just very cool to me.

One of my earliest childhood memories (I have very few for some reason, and no, I didn’t really have a traumatic childhood, my brain just sucks), is seeing this book on our bookshelf or kitchen table constantly. My parents just recently shipped it to me from Thailand — although it quite possiblycould have been sent 4 years ago…who knows with that mail system. Anyhoo, I took the afternoon off yesterday (ha. who are we kidding) to read it. A must-have if you love Thai food. I cannot believe I didn’t read it earlier. The first quarter of it is explaining Thai flavors and culture and it is just…highly interesting. But I’ll stop, just trust me…read it.

Annnnnyhow, let’s get to the good stuff. After flipping through the book, I decided to go with tom yum goong — a hot and sour shrimp (in this case) soup with crazy bursts of spiciness and lemongrass. It is one of my most favorite things in the entire world, and over rice, it is just heaven. I’m kind of a brat about it…I grew up on it being almost solid red and full of flavor and I’m a little irritated when a restaurant serves it to me in a clear, fishy broth. So a perfect choice. Now I could make my own, with adjustments, and not be a whiney bitch about it. Hooray!

For the main, I went with a baked whole snapper with galic chili sauce. I had this vision of serving an entire snapper in foil, with sauce just oozing everywhere. Then I would put veggies all around the foil and it. would. be. delicious. And it was. I keep saying this lately but it is definitely up there on my “shit that didn’t fail and was amazing” list.

I know it all kinda sounds daunting (or does it? it did to me) but it was ALL surprisingly simple. So many of you made the stuffed bell pepper recipe and sent me photos (love when you do that, seriously) and I really hope this one doesn’t scare you too bad. It is SO full of flavor.

I won’t pretend like these are my recipes in any way. But I WILL tell you that they are great recipes and worth trying. So enjoy the photos and the link for the recipes is at the end. Will share my changes in the captions but truthfully, there were very few.

Tom Yum:

Aaaah lemongrass. The recipe calls for 2 big sticks of it, but I did a little bit more. Don’t worry about being perfectly correct with this recipe– it’s all to taste. even when it tells me to cut things a certain way, I do it my own way since it’s all about flavor. Just remember not to chew all the big pieces of lemongrass or galangal or kaffir leaves in the final product :) I think it’s beautiful to have whole pieces in the broth rather than chopping everything up.

Your basic tom yum shrimp grocery list. Lemongrass, thai chillies, lime, kaffir lime leaves, galangal (I could only find dried), fish sauce, chili paste, sugar and shrimp. Be prepared to search everywhere for lime leaves and galangal, if you aren’t lucky enough to be around a Thai Town or basic asian market. Also, it says “optional” but any asian market will have something called “tom yum paste” and if they do, GET IT. A tablespoon (or more, if you’re like me) added to the recipe will make this fool-proof and full of flavor.

I also had kind of a hard time finding head-on shrimp. I had to go to stupid Dean and Deluca (I love it. It’s just touristy, expensive, crazy madness) just to get 5 of em. Heads are full of flavor and more than necessary for this recipe.

Mmmm broth. Fish brains are the heart of the soup. Heh. Heart and brains. Gross.

Byebye, heads.

Replace the broth back into the pot, add the remaining ingredients and simmer! HOW EASY IS THAT!

It’s not red but holy shit it’s good. And hot. And lemony. And amazing.

So there you have it. The recipe I used is here. I basically took that recipe and added a tinnnnny bit more of everything because I like “get-to-the-point” flavor. God, the internet is fabulous, right? I typed it in, looked for great reviews, and had one of the best soups of my life.

And you know what? This soup deserves it’s own post. Snapper recipe coming up in the next one :) Enjoy!

xx

South City Kitchen

9 Oct

So let me start off by saying this won’t be a full-on review. Because quite honestly, it can’t be. What kind of integrity would I uphold as a serious, unpaid, lowly wordpress journalist if I allowed myself to post reviews of a restaurant where I was more than drunk at?

So here you go. I asked my twitter followers for a great restaurant in midtown Atlanta and this won by  long shot. So here’s some terrible cellphone, grainy pictures paired with some brief, equally unappealing captions. Why are you even still reading this? God you are patient and kind. But I will tell you this — it was delicious. You done did good, twitter. You done did good.

The menu. It was a little tough but the natural ink paired with the recycled, environment-friendly paper made it flavorful and delicious.

Vodka lemonade with Thyme sprigs. Now, vodka lemonade is already one of my most favorite drinks, but lemonade can be pretty sugary and it makes me feel a little guilty…guiltier than a vodka-soda, at least. But this was too good to pass up, and the thyme definitely SPICED it up. BAHAHAHA GET IT! THYME IS A SPICE! Or is it an herb? Is an herb a spice? Who cares let’s move on.

Cornbread. Biscuits. Butter. My love for butter goes back to my childhood days, when I would sneak down and literally get a stick of salted butter out of the fridge and bite the corner. Really. I did this. I was a classy child and that is what classy children do.

Fried Tennessee Catfish with zucchini slaw and red chili mayo. This was one of my favorite things of the night. The mayo was crucial and added such an extra kick that I forgot I was incoherently drunk. The catfish was breaded in cornmeal and the crunch was ohhhh so good.

Hot Ham and Cheese with pimento cheese and pickles. Not my favorite. Bread was a little soggy, something cringeworthy for a person who has such a love for super toasty grilled cheese sandwiches. But the flavor was definitely there. Needed that crispy edge, though.

Pork BBQ on a scallion-grits hoecake. Heh. Hoecake. One of John’s favorites of the night. I made the mistake of trying it without the hoecake so it was kinda so-so to me. According to the boys, the hoecake made it life changing. So yeah. Never refuse a hoe.

Maryland Crab Cake. I loved this. It was perfect. That is all.

The “Boo-Yah-Baze”. Of course a play off Bouillabaisse, which is basically a seafood soup with veggies and herbs. This particular one had shrimp, crawfish, catfish, fingerlings, okra, and sweet corn in a saffron tomato broth. To sum it up, it almost made me regret my decision of ordering fried chicken, as John ordered this dish. Anything that even comes CLOSE to making me doubt ordering fried chicken is amazing.

And here she is. My most favorite food in the world. Fried chicken. Look at that skin!! Here’s what I look for in piece of fried chicken: it is crucial to me that the skin be uber-crispy and salty-flavorful while still being a part of the chicken. None of that crazy crust or breading that takes on a completely different form. I don’t want the skin to be some sort of shell around the meat. I want them to be one. Is that too much to ask? I don’t think so. South City Kitchen did this perfectly.

So there you have it. In Atlanta? Definitely recommend this place. Let me know below if you’ve been and if you loved it as much as our drunken selves.

South City Kitchen

1144 Crescent Avenue NE, Atlanta, GA -(404) 873-7358

xx

Barefoot Contessa

8 Oct

I am definitely not ashamed to say that I lovvvvve incorporating boxed mixes into my kitchen life.

There is nothing better to me than waking up early (kinda) on a Sunday morning and taking 15 minutes of my life to throw together and mix up some muffins or a coffee cake to fill the house with a skeet worthy aroma.

I don’t even drink coffee. Not for health reasons, it just does nothing for me but upset my belly. But I DO do cake and muffins and I have I never, ever found a mix collection quite like Ina Garten’s.

They aren’t easy to come by…I get mine at Sur La Table and buy about 15 at a time just to fill my pantry up with. But I beg of you…please go on amazon.com and buy a collection immediately. They are to die for. Toss the box and lie. Really. Lie your ass off. Because no one will believe that your cakes, cupcakes, or cookies weren’t completely homemade. After a while, you’ll even believe the lie. And that’s the point where I am now.

I haven’t done a sweets post in a while so I just thought I’d tease you with this one, where I made a chocolate swirl coffee cake, care of the Barefoot Contessa, Ina, herself.

If you order some, pleasssse make sure you get the outrageous brownie mix, red velvet cupcake mix, pancake mix, blondies mix, chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting mix (one of my top choices), and sour cream coffee cake mix. Basically ummmm ALL OF THEM.

Get them HERE!

 

Yum Nua!

8 Oct

Title exclamation point highly necessary!

The other week, my sister came over to deliver our wonderful demon Pippa back to us in Los Angeles (she lives in Vegas) because Pippa was too young to go to the doggy boarding place with her equally smelly brother while we are traveling. To thank her for watching Pipps for an entire month, we made plans to take her to a big fancy dinner…plans that were quickly squashed once my sister made the suggestion that we just stay in and cook a big Thai meal for Johnny and his trainer Malcolm.

I jumped at this because, well, not only is my sister a great cook, but I really don’t ever make Thai food. In New York, Thai food delivery provides so much yumminess that it’s just not something I ever think about sitting down and doing.

So we did it. While the boys were out, we hit up the regular ol’ grocery store (LA traffic is a bitch and the 2/3 miles to Thai Town would have taken about an hour) and created a Thai feast just while walking up and down the aisles.

On the menu: chicken satay with peanut sauce, spicy beef salad (yum nua),a garlicy ground pork stir fry with green chili (SO good mixed into jasmine rice) and lastly, chicken and broccoli stir fry with snap peas and curry sauce.

While I want you guys to have the recipe to all of this, I think it’s best broken down. My sister explains it best, so I had her email her recipe. This is it in her own words:

Yum = Salad, Nua = Beef

This dish really epitomizes Thai cooking. Done properly, it embodies everything Thai food should be; balancing the principles of thai cuisine. The key to Thai food in general is combing salty, sweet, sour, and spicy. You should not be able to identify whether this dish is more or less of one particular flavor, hence creating the perfect balance.

You will need:

A well marbled NY steak, grilled to your liking, preferably on a charcoal grill. I prefer no more than medium rare; the lime will do some additional cooking. Allow to rest at room temp before slicing.

4 Shallots or 1 small red onion (I like a strong onion flavor), sliced into skinny wedges

1 bunch Cilantro, coarsely chopped, no stems

Tomatoes, cherry (1/2 c sliced in half) or 1-2 vine ripened (cut into wedges)

2 Limes

1 tbs Palm sugar (or brown sugar, but palm sugar is really worth the effort to locate; note that palm sugar is a bit sweeter, so adjust to your liking)

1-2 tbs Fish sauce

According to your spice tolerance, Thai chili powder (roasted sundried chilis ground into a fine powder, and very spicy!). I use about 1 tbs, be prepared to sweat!

Also according to your tolerance, Fresh Thai chili peppers, sliced thinly – also very spicy! I use 3-4; use red for color!

Grill the steak as directed above and slice into thin strips after allowing to rest for 15-20 min.  Add to a large mixing bowl. Because the palm sugar is so pasty, put it in a small bowl and add some of the lime juice and mush into a thick liquid form. The non-vegetable ingredients go first into the steak bowl, lime, fish sauce, palm sugar. Toss with your hands to incorporate all over the steak. Add the rest of the veggies, toss and TASTE. Tasting as you go is the most important part. You are eating it, so add more fish sauce if it needs more salt, more sugar if it is too lime-y, etc. Every Thai mom has their variation, so make it like YOU like it. Isn’t that what cooking is all about?

If you want to get fancy, mound into a shallow bowl or platter on a bed of frilly lettuce and garnish with lime wedges and more cilantro and a chili pepper flower.

LOVE YOU!

…So there you have it. Easy enough, right? Of course I had my camera on hand for this wonderfulness. Don’t mind the other dishes, I will share those recipes later :)

Steak, why you so delicious? If I had to kill you, I would not eat you. But I don’t. So I eat you.

As you can see, we like our shit still moo’ing. I think this salad is best made with rare steak, but of course you can do it however you’d like if you wanna be a brat like that geez sorry what goshhh chill out.

Anddddd as many of you all know, the addition of lime juice cooks up the meat all by itself. Apparently lime prefers it’s meat medium.

See? Still moo’ing but definitely a weak, faint, sad moo, probably said through tears. God I am terrible umm…look! Sugar!

I LOVE onion. Can’t get enough of it in a salad. Boyfriend has to deal with onion breath. That’s the trade for having such a perfect girlfriend, sorry.

Toss it around, put it on a pretty plate and voilà! You are done and you have a delicious meal to serve that people will definitely be asking about. You can tell them it’s your own secret recipe because you are 1/8th Thai, I don’t mind. See! I AMMM perfect.

Enjoy!! xx

Stuffed Bell Peppers

7 Oct

I made this ages ago and since then, the photos have completely gotten lost in my iPhoto. So thanks to a loyal twitter following of people begging for this recipe, I took the time to actually sort these babies out.

Definitely not my recipe, but DEFINITELY the best stuffed bell peppers I’ve ever tasted, and I truly had a great time making them. The house smelled sooooooo good during the entire process and I was happy to have John be so pleased with such an easy meal. One of my favorite things I’ve ever made…

YUMMMMM, right?? Pretty proud of myself for that one. Paired it with some super hot salsa I never ended up using, and just a romaine leaf salad with fresh corn, sweet cherry tomatoes and some store bought cilantro-chipotle dressing. Ay papi!

Paula Deen’s Stuffed Red Peppers recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/stuffed-red-peppers-recipe/index.html

The recipe is perfection, but I did cut the amount of rice in half, just to make myself feel a little better while enjoying this. Actually I probably cut more than half out, and I still clearly found it highly enjoyable. And DON’T cut out any of the cheese. If anything, add more. It makes it so ooey gooey delicious.

Enjoy!

 

 

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