Monday, August 30, 2010

Broke Folks Have to Eat Too, You Know.

I was feeling particularly lazy one evening and I didn't want to do a thing....but my stomach had other ideas.Unfortunately, my wallet had other ideas too. I wanted to put together a meal that would feed my house and give me enough for leftovers for work the next day (or two). Enter PW's Pasta Alla Marlboro Man. You'll see me make a lot of her recipes on here because I just love this woman. Her recipes are dead simple, use easy/fresh ingredients, and she's just amazing.
OH! Also, I wanted something sweet for afterward, so I made Dump Cake as well.DON'T RUN AWAY!!!! Trust in me! And if you don't trust in me, trust in Pioneer Woman.
Let's begin, shall we?
I seasoned some turkey meat (ON SALE YAY) with some salt, pepper, SOUL SEASONING and Italian seasoning and browned it with some onions and garlic in olive oil.

I think the recipe originally called for ground beef, but sometimes that sits a little too heavy on my I often substitute turkey.

And yes...I used Soul Seasoning again. It's kinda trashy, but I use it in a lot of recipes, from my various mac and cheeses to spinach artichoke dip. When I use it, I usually cut back the amount of kosher salt that I use b/c this thing has a ton in it already. Most seasoning blends (except for Mrs. Dash) fill up mostly on salt b/c it's cheap and they don't have to spend as much money on other seasonings.

Steamy action! I threw in two tins (in retrospect, I think I could have gotten away with three) of whole tomatoes in their juice.I covered the pot and let this simmer and bubble away on low heat. Sidebar: those tins of tomatoes? 69 CENTS EACH! Don't be afraid of the store brands sometimes. Unless the cans are dusty and swollen, of course.

OH WAIT. Pasta. Right. Get some hot water on in a big pot to boil. Salt it, olive oil it. The recipe called for rigatoni, but I used thin spaghetti because it was all I had. *Shrug*
Now, for a little nutritional boost toward the end of cooking, I threw in 2 packs of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained. I'm not about the butter and fat all the time. Just some of the time. Okay, MOST of the time. It's just a matter of finding a balance.

After a bite or two, I realized that I needed a little bit of richness and depth of flavor. In lieu of not having a can of tomato paste to add, I squirted in...some ketchup.

Drain the pasta, serve some up on a plate, then spoon some of the hearty sauce over the top.

For the love of God, don't forget Parmesan cheese.

Wait a minute. You thought I forgot the Dump Cake right? Sit back down, please!
This is probably the most morally reprehensible dessert you'll ever eat. BELIEVE ME WHEN I SAY THERE IS NOTHING GOOD ABOUT THIS. But eating it will bring contentment in your soul. Start with by opening a can of crushed pineapple and a can of cherry pie filling. Then "dump" them in a rectangular baking pan.

No, I didn't go and cover the fruit in cocaine. All that powdery mess is a whole box of yellow cake mix. No eggs or oil, just the plain ol' mix. Then, cut up half a stick of butter, and a stick (or 8 tablespoons if you have a tub) of margarine. I didn't take a picture of this step...cause I knew I'd be judged. :-( Pop that baby right into a pre-heated 350 degree oven, for about 45 mins to an hour. I think I left mine in for about 50.
Come to me, my sweet. Oh yes.

You could almost call it cobbler if it wasn't so bad for you!

Now for all that creamy stuff, it's actually a dead simple dessert sauce recipe from Alton Brown: Sweet and Sour Dessert Sauce.

Take a 1/4 cup of honey and heat it up a on a stove or in a microwave (I put it in a Pyrex measuring cup, and held it in the pasta water while it was boiling. Why waste a pan???). Then whisk in a cup of whole sour cream. You could use lite sour cream, or even some plain yogurt....BUT WHY??

The portion in the previous picture was for my niece. The one below...that's for me. Sweet, tangy....OOOOO SO YUMMY!
I may not have morals...but this was DELIGHTFUL. :-)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Oh, Twitter.

It's an odd little interface, but yes, I have a Twitter! I'll try to update it whenever I can with realtime food tweets and little things I find interesting. Also, you guys let me know what awesome food ish I should be looking into. I need to know Le Scoop!

Go find me:EatinistBitch!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

This Is The Post Where I Show You How To Make Stuff...

And yes, it will be the first of many!

Anyway, for folks that know me, I know how to throw down in the macaroni and cheese department. I use like, 5-6 types of cheese, buttered bread crumbs, a gentle sprinkling of crack for good measure...just kidding. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas I can remember, my mom and I have made the same awesome mac, and everyone's loved it. I'd never dared to suggest that we make it any other way, because I was satisfied with the way things were. But there was another way, another path.

Cheese sauce. Creamy, thick, rich sauce. I had visions of elbow noodles drenched in golden goo dancing in my head. And even though my version was good, I'd always wanted to make a mac and cheese like that. I was just scared shitless of making a roux (flour and butter cooked together, which is used to thicken sauces and stews), which would undoubtedly lead me to saucy nirvana if done well...or pasty misery if I failed. I had to conquer my fear! Enter The Pioneer Woman's recipe for Macaroni and Cheese. If she could do this, anyone could!
Let's start with some cheesy goodness...and shred the heck out of it.

GRATE YOUR OWN CHEESE PEOPLE! It doesn't take long, it's cheaper than the bagged ish, and the cornstarch used to keep the cheese from clumping will eff with your sauce.

Next you'll want to put on some fresh water to boil for your pasta.
You want to use a BIG pot and a LOT of water, so the pasta has room to get al dente and not stick like a mofo. Salt the water and add a little olive oil, please. Set your burner to high, and cover the pot because a covered pot boils faster.
To make this a little more hearty, and sort of a casserole meal, I decided to add some chicken breasts and broccoli to the mix.I always wash chicken with a little lemon juice (my mom always does it, and it makes the meat smell less like chicken coop to me). I cut it into cubes, and seasoned it.
Don't judge me. Soul Seasoning. I know it sounds racist..because it probably is. But it tastes so good. And, I added kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper too. Now put a good sized skillet on a free burner, and drop at least 2 pats of butter, and some olive oil. You want the heat on med-high. The butter is for flavor and browning, and olive oil is for flavor and non-stickness. Butter has a lot of easily burn-able milk solids in it, so you use the olive oil to help raise its "smoke point" so it won't burn so fast.Thank you, Alton Brown.
Brown the chicken in batches, depending how big your pan is, and cook it for about 2-3 mins a side. We're gonna cook this in the oven, so it doesn't have to be done all the way.
Here is the pasta boiling away...don't worry, I didn't forget. Just throw the pasta in when the H20 comes to a boil. And the green stuff? A bag of frozen broccoli...I didn't want to dirty another pan!While the chicken's been cooking away, I whisked one egg in preparation for making the roux. Why? The proteins are going to further enrich the sauce and make it all creamy.
And now....for the roux itself. At this point, I was shaking in my flip-flops. I used a heavy duty dutch oven-type pot and put in a couple tablespoons of butter, let it start melting (over med-low heat please), then sprinkled in the flour. Then I started whisking like I had never whisked before! The flour-y raw taste has gotta get cooked right out...whisk for about 1-2 mins, or until it
starts to thicken and turn golden in color (it'll start smelling nutty).

At this point, I poured in about 2 1/2 cups of whole milk. There was some sputtering...but I kept whisking. So should you.Now, it's time to get our egg into that sauce without it becoming scrambled eggs. How? By controlling our temper. By spooning about 1/4 cup of our sauce and whisking it into our egg, we bring up the temperature of the egg without scrambling it. This is the part that can get rather dicey.

Ahhhh! I did it! No curdles! *Does the no curdles dance*

Now that I gotten over that hump and I could breathe again...CHEESETIME! Start throwing in the cheese a bit of a time, letting each addition melt before you add more.

And now, the broccoli, chicken and cheese sauce will combine to become....CAPTAIN PLANET!

Just kidding. We're gonna pour the cheese sauce and chicken over the pasta and veg...and toss to coat.

Yes, Lord, YES.

Of course you can just serve it up like this...but I didn't do that. I covered it in more cheese and breadcrumbs...and baked it.

And yes, I put it in two pans cause this makes a LOT OF MAC. It was so good. Super creamy, intensely cheese-y. The sauce really settles into the middle of the macaroni noodle so you get an intense flavor in each bite. And the chicken and broccoli really make this a complete meal.

Do yourself a favor. Stop reading this and start making this dish. Now!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Three Small Words + One Great Sandwich = Bread.Butter.Cheese.

1) I would be a really useless member in a drug deal.

2) I make many obscene noises when I eat something great. (This one isn't something new, rather, something I've come to accept.)

The first realization came about whilst lurking around First Park in the Lower East Side this afternoon. Giggling like a fangirl at an comic convention, I definitely wasn't acting conspicuous in the slightest. With an amused friend by my side, (I'm meeting a stranger in the park. Obviously doing this alone would be a little weird.) We waited for the pickup. The loot? A brown paper bag holding....a grilled cheese sandwich??

Bread.Butter.Cheese is a one-man sandwich cartel run by a fellow named "Ronnie" in the Lower East Side. Churning sandwiches out of his apartment and scheduling drop-offs over the past couple months, he's become some sort of a Robin Hood of Raclette. I've been keeping tabs on his Facebook page and biding my time. Today, ladies and gents, was my day.

I emailed him and waited.

It didn't take very long before he pinged me back. He asked me if I had any allergies and what I was in the mood to dress my sammy with. Totally nice and very personable. My prize would be stuffed with white cheddar, bacon, green apple on white bread (he offered me rye and rosemary too, but I didn't want those flavors to overwhelm the fillings). We scheduled a time, exchanged numbers, and then I waited with baited stomach til lunchtime. I met up with a friend who was hanging out near my job in Midtown, and we headed down to our culinary adventure.

We got to First Park a couple of minutes early, so I texted him to let him know I was ready. My excitement level was so high; my heart was all a-flutter waiting for my clandestine grilled cheese. About 5 mins later, he snuck up on us, grinning from ear to ear with a large insulated messenger bag slung across his lanky, yet toned frame. Yes, ladies...he's REALLY REALLY HOT.

We exchanged money for the yummy-ness, and I squealed. I looked down at my bag; my name was scrawled on the back of it, and on the front, "Bread Butter Cheese".

I felt like I was 5 years old all over again, and it was the first day of school and bagged lunch.

And the sandwich itself?

Golden and glistening brown. The cheese was beautifully melted, creamy white against the dark pink of the bacon and thinly sliced green apples. The bread was thick cut and chewy, with the right amount of toasty butter cooked in.

"Oh jesus," I moaned between chews. The next bite, even more moans. Each flavor, salty and sweet, ricocheted back and forth in my mouth..and brought me back to first time I made my own grilled cheese. Something as simple as a sandwich could give me a little trip back in time on my lunch break. I guess that's the third thing I learned today.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Carnal Ice Cream Encounters at Momofuku

My heart is thumping at an irregular pace, each of my breaths are sharp and shallow, and my palms are clammy with sweat. No, I'm not going on a blind date or having a heart attack. I'm in the middle of eating Momofuku Milk Bar's Salty Pistachio Caramel soft serve, and with each lick my taste buds are being turned up to 11. And I can't fucking handle it.

The soft serve is cold, but as soon as it hit my lips it becomes viscous, warming, creamy, drippy. The pale green of it is flecked with what I think is vanilla bean. The texture isn't marred by crystals at all, it's so silky...almost whipped. The way this is melting all over my tongue is just shameless, even obscene. I got the cornflake crunch to go on top of the sexy swirl of frozen cream...but it doesn't even need it. In fact, it's getting in the way. People are shooting me dirty looks as I slink through the street with my prize. I'm walking in a trance, sighing, "So good, so good!" I'm seriously losing my grip over a desert.

I'm near the end. I'm sitting and waiting for the F train back to work, slumped down on the bench. I'm so comfortable in this singular moment, this fetid subway platform could almost be my home. I don't want this to be over, so I'm trying to eat slowly; my brain is recording how amazing this tastes and feels. Somehow, this increases the deliciousness...and also increases my lunacy.

The train comes and I am licking the cup as I board. LICKING THE CUP. I know I probably look insane licking the insides of what looks like a slightly large Dixie cup. But oh, if they only knew what I knew, and tasted what I'd just tasted, they'd be willing to look crazy too.