Monday, June 30, 2008

Rain Wont Stop Me

On Sunday, for my friend's birthday, she organized a barbeque in the park. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't cooperative. But, this didn't stop us. An umbrella and tarp helped to keep the grill going. Not until the thunder and lightning appeared to be right overhead did we finally head for cover.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Monticello’s Bagels Rock

Every time I visit Sullivan County there is one place that I insist on visiting: the Monticello Bagel Bakery. There you can find the best bagels in the world. Honestly!

I know, I know, die-hard New Yorkers challenge this point, but don’t doubt me until you’ve tried them.

Plump, with a perfect outer crust and soft chewy centers. Yesterday I have one of my favorite combinations: an everything bagel with veggie cream cheese. Even as I sit here right now I am contemplating going to town for another one.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

State-Side Deliciousness

I haven't stepped foot near a stove in the last week, so no exciting recipes to share. On the other hand, I've been eating like a king. Here are some highlights:

  • Pizza at Tony's in Middletown, NY
  • Jersey Girl Smoothie at Fin's in Bradley Beach, NJ
  • Jessica's ribs at her house in Fredrick, Maryland
  • Bagels at the Monticello Bagel Bakery in Monticello, NY

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Broiled Asparagus With Ham

This dish is a nod to a recipe for grilled pancetta-wrapped asparagus in the June issue of Gourmet magazine. In my version I used white asparagus, which is still abundant at the market, and a delicious smoked ham. Last night I paired the asparagus with eggs for a new twist on ham and eggs.

1 pound white asparagus
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper
1/4 pound ham

Cut the stems off the asparagus and peel the tough skin at the bottom. Toss with olive oil and salt and pepper. (Use less salt then normal since the ham is salty.) Cut the ham slices length-wise into four strips. Wrap the ham around the asparagus. Place on a cookie sheet and broil until the ham is slightly crisp and the asparagus turns golden brown.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Peanut Noodles

Here's a super easy, quick, and delicious dish that can be whipped up with items that I always have on hand in my pantry. Two unusual ingredients used are:
• Mirin — a sweet rice-based wine commonly used in Japanese cooking
• Soba noodles — Japanese noodles made from buckwheat flour

Both can be found in the Asian food section of many grocery stores, at health food stores, or at Asian markets. Also, you can substitute sherry for the mirin and use rice noodles or spaghetti instead of the soba noodles.

2 tablespoons sesame seeds (optional)
1/2 pound soba noodles (two bundles)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1/2 inch piece of ginger
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup cooking liquid from the noodles

Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil. Cook noodles according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, in a hot pan toast the sesame seeds until they just begin to pop. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Mince garlic and ginger. Place in a cold pan with red pepper flakes and olive oil. Infuse the spices into the oil by slowly heating. When the spices begin to turn golden, pour into a mixing bowl. Add peanut butter, mirin, vinegar, and soy sauce. Whisk until smooth, adding at little of the hot cooking liquid at a time until the peanut butter mixture is a pour-able consistency.

Pour sauce over the drained soba noodles and toss. Garnish with sesame seeds.

Serves 2 two 3 people.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Potato Pancake, Take 1

Somewhere between walking into the kitchen to make dinner and finding the pan to cook it in I completely changed my mind about what we were going to eat. I had planned to make frittata with lox, but wasn't really in the mood. Instead I decided to try my hand at potato pancakes.

I'd never made a potato pancake before. I'd never read a recipe for one. But, I've eaten enough of then to figure that I had a pretty good idea. So I grated two potatoes, added a couple of eggs, two tablespoons of flour, and mixed it all together.

The batter looked okay in the bowl, but the finished product was too eggy. Also, I forgot to add an onion. However, topped with lox and served with tomato, cucumber and chives, dinner was still rather yummy.

Next time I make them, I am going to use the following recipe, which still hasn't been tested, but got the approval from my mother-in-law.

Potato Pancakes

Note: This recipe has not yet been tested. This recipe was tested, with excellent results, on Tuesday, July 15, 2008.

2 large baking potatoes
1 onion
1 egg
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Grate the potatoes and onions. Place in a bowl. Add egg, flour, and salt. Mix together. Pour 2 tablespoons worth of batter for each pancake into a hot frying pan coated with 1 teaspoon of the oil. Repeat until all of the batter is used.

Keep cooked pancakes warm on a plate in oven turned to low.

Make 8 pancakes.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Vacation Eats

I haven't cooked much in the past two weeks. First I was on vacation and then I was just on vacation from my kitchen.

Instead of recipes, I thought I'd share some photos of the great eats from Spain and Morocco.

This gazpacho was totally smooth when it was delivered. The waiter garnished it with onions, green peppers, and croutons at the table.
This paella included gigantic prawns, and the rice was so rich and cream it tasted like risotto.

These fresh doughnuts frying out side the bullfights looked so good — too bad I was stuffed to the gills with tapas.
I had to have some chicken and cous cous in Morocco.
This was the best thing I ate on the trip: A sweet and savory chicken pie in Morocco.