Saturday, March 30, 2013

Side Quests: Super Easy Asparagus

This is the legit way to do asparagus. Sure, it'll still make your pee/junk smell weird, but damn is it tasty goin down. And it is soooo simple. 4 ingredients.

I bunch asparagus (with verrry slim stalks, look at the bottoms.)
extra virgin olive oil
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

Simplest yet.

Clean asparagus very well (tends to harbor sand), soaking and swishing heads in a bowl of water if necessary. When rinsed, pat dry thoroughly, using a dishtowel to get 'em real real bone dry. Dried veggies ensure that the oil will adhere and cover them properly.

 Now,  grab each asparagus stalk, bending the length of it gently. When the stalk snaps, discard the bottom part of it. Asparagus will snap his own woody ends off, so no worries. Place the now tender stalks on a cookie sheet and drizzle wif the olive oil:

Greasin 'em up.

Then season with da salt and pepper to taste, tossin everything right on the sheet using yo hands. Bake in a 350 degree oven until as done as you like, or slightly wilted and charred. I love mine like this:

Aw yeah.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Mushroom Bourguignon

This recipe is truly, TRULY decadent. Imagine the richest, most delicious roast beef gravy you've ever shoved into your maw. Yeah. It's even freakin tastier than that. No lie. In fact, you could go really fat kid style and serve this bourguignon over mashed potatoes or Yorkshire pudding. I tried to show some modicum of restraint though, and used egg noodles.

Ingredients: (super adapted from Deb Perelman's recipe)
1 lb mushrooms (I used half white button and half baby bellas, creminis would be acceptable)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. onion, minced (I used sweet, but yellow would work- just no red)
2 T. carrot, minced (about half a big one)
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 T. all-purpose flour
2 c. Cabernet sauvignon (or other dry red wine, no merlot or burgundy, too sweet)
4 c. beef broth (sub 2 c. veggie and 2 c. mushroom broth for vegetarian)
5 oz. tomato paste (almost whole small can)
2 T. olive oil (extra virgin)
2 T. butta
several good grinds/shakes black pepper
egg noodles to serve (or mashed potatoes haa) 

Here ve go!

In a dutch oven or large pot, saute the mushrooms in a blend of 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium high heat until mushrooms brown and wilted a bit like so:


Remove them and set aside. Add the last tablespoon olive oil to the pot and saute garlic, carrot, onion, thyme, and black pepper-  til tender, making sure yo' garlic doesn't burn. Might have to turn the heat down or add a tablespoon or two of water.

Not appetizing, but just you wait.

All right. Time to deglaze the pan. A note about the wine- don't use cheap gutbomb wine. Pick a mid quality one that you might actually drink. Cheap wine will make your sauce brassy and bitter. I recommend this brand:

Drinkable, yo.

So. Pour your wine in and scrape up all your tasty brown bits. Cook on medium high until wine has reduced by about half, then add tomato paste and broth. Turn heat down to medium and let simmer away. It will originally look like this:

Just you wait part 2....

While it's thickening, mix the other tablespoon butter (softened) with the flour like soooo:

Despite its looks, NOT buttercream frosting.

When the sauce is reduced a bit, add in the butter/flour mixture, as well as the reserved mushrooms and reduce, reduce, reduce, until you have a gravy like consistency. While the sauce is thickening, cook the egg noodles according to package directions.

Done. Plate us, bitch.

Holy crap. Serve over the egg noodles, with a wee bit of sour cream and parsley if you wish. Recipes for the (pictured) side dishes to come ;)

I'm sorry, couldn't hear you over the sound of inhaling this.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Creamy Shrimp Curry with Peas

Full disclosure: this is an adapted (tweaked to perfection lol) recipe from my good good good friend the Heater.  She served it to me one time and I was immediately hooked. I'm sure I ate way more than my share. Now. I love a good curry. Thai, Indian, it doesn't matter. In fact, I have an awesome tongue-blistering recipe for leftover Thanksgiving turkey curry that is pretty legit. But this?

This particular curry?

It is reallllly something special. Try it. I swear you will not be disappointed.

2 T. Canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced, grated, or pressed
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (or more if you like your curry non-pathetic.)
1 tsp. white sugar
1 1/2 tsp. sea (or kosher) salt
1/2 tsp. garam masala (you must use this spice for this recipe, curry powder is NOT the same thing.)
2 T. cilantro, chopped finely (or to taste, since it's straight potent.)
2 medium tomatoes, chopped (not Romas.)
1/4 c. slivered or sliced almonds
3/4 c. heavy whipping cream
1 lb. medium/large raw shrimps, preferably the shell yourself kind (fresher, even though shelling is gross... those tiny legs..... UGH. For vegetarian, sub tofu using the method found here)
1 1/2 C. frozen green peas
About 6-8 cups basmati rice rice for serving (depending on how saucy you like your wenches. Er. Rice.)

Gettin ready.

Go ahead and get the most terrible part of the recipe out the way: shell dem scrimps and rinse them. Maybe you'll be lucky enough to have someone else around to do it...

Terrible, terrible little legs...

Okay worst is past us now. Heat oil in a skillet on medium until shimmering and add your garlic. When the garlic is tender, add all the spices (cayenne, garam masala, sugar, salt) and let the oil warm 'em a bit (masala tends to foam, just stir it). This step is super important cuz it releases the spices' potential.

Watch that garlic doesn't burn.

Start the basmati- preferably in a rice cooker, but if you don't own one then make on stovetop, following package instructions. Rice cooker is the best way tho, cause then if it gets done before the sauce you can just keep it on the "warm" setting ;)

Like clouds of deliciousness...

When your spices are nice and toasty and your kitchen is smelling delightfully spicy, add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until kinda broken down. Be sure to scrape any brown bits up and around.

I think we're broken.

While your tomatoes are busy breaking down, go ahead and toast your almonds in a dry pan over medium heat, stirring constantly. They go from raw to burnt in about 2.2 seconds so keep an eye on them lol. As you can see, I barely got to mine in time:

Too much! lol.

Tomatoes should be cooked into submission, so scrape pan again (if needed) and add the cream and the peas. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer just long enough to make sure peas won't be raw, stirring every so often. Once lightly simmering, add shrimp, bring heat back up to medium and put the lid on the pan. Let simmer for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally (to expose dem scrimp to the heat evenly). As soon as shrimp turn pink/orange (not gray) they're done, don't cook longer than that- they get ever so tough. Gross.


Immediately take off heat and stir in the cilantro. Serve over basmati, with the almonds sprinkled on top. I also had toasted naan brushed with melted BUTTA. Was the perfect accompaniment to an already perfect dish :)

Double perfection, aw yiss.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Eggplant Parm I'd Shank Someone Over.

So. The problem I have with eggplant parm any time I order it at a restaurant (save maybe once or twice in my life) is that it is slimy. Or bitter. Or slimy and bitter-with the added bonus of  leather-like skin you must chew relentlessly, like so much cud. There is no excuse for that! This recipe, while a little bit of work, will prove that eggplant is a most worthy creature. It will also make you wanna flip chicken parm the bird (ha ha) and never look back. Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family, as are tomatoes. It kinda makes you wonder how they figured out which plant was damn tasty, and which led to a sudden painful death. Trial and error, I guess haaa. ALSO: eggplant contains nicotine, and to paraphrase Jay Leno: "You don't see people out eating eggplant in the rain!" Well who knows. These are so addicting, you might have the urge to do just exactly that.

Ingredients-(Eggplant Parmesan part):
1 medium/large eggplant (with nice looking, not-too-beat-up skin)
2 c. all-purpose flour (might need more or less)
2 c. Italian seasoned breadcrumbs (or season your own- also might need more or less part 2)
1 T. Parmesan or Romano cheese in the shaker (adheres to eggplant tighter than real grated parm)
few good shakes black pepper
6 eggs, beaten
at least 1/4 cup salt (might need more or less part 3 lol)
Extra virgin olive oil for fryin up
Shredded mozzarella to top the plants- maybe 8-12 oz.

Lookit that gorgeous eggplant!

Ingredients- (The accompanying pasta part):
13 oz. pkg whole-wheat thin spaghetti (or whole-wheat angel hair)
8 oz. sliced white/button mushrooms (or more if you like! or even other veggies! peppers, spinach, tomatoes, zucchini, etc.)
1 jar of your fave pasta sauce (I looooove Classico vodka sauce, or you ambitious foolios can make your own :p)

Simple and delicious.

First thangs first-- let's get rid of some of the slimy-inducing moisture, as well as the bitterness of the eggplants. Slice yo plants bout 1/4-1/2 in. thick and spread out on a rack (positioned over paper towels).

Salt, salt, salt, senora...

Salt the everliving daylights outta both sides of the plant, and massage in a bit. Don't worry, this salting will not make your finished product too salty. :) Wait about 30 minutes (perfect time for another beer :D) or even longer until the guys look like this:

Like they were on the treadmill.

You see it? Dat eggplant sweat means delicious results in the end. Go ahead and rinse the slices well, but no need to dry off.
 Assemble your dipping station: flour, egg, and the breadcrumb/Parm/black pepper mixture:

Heat a few T. olive oil in a skillet (I've found that non-stick doesn't brown them as well, fwiw) and start a-dippin. Dredge in flour first:

Then egg and crumbs:

And  fry in batches (might need to add little more oil every batch) over medium high, pressing down on the plants with a spatula every so often to rid 'em of even moar moisture til they resemble this:

Lookin good, guys.

Once done, place them on paper towels (much like bacon) to wick the oil away.  When you are close to frying up your last batch, start sauteing the mushrooms (and other veggies, if using) in a non-stick skillet until golden brown, as always.

Always golden brown. Always.

As soon as the plants are drained of oil and kinda cooled, arrange like so on baking sheet, topping each disk with a small pile of mozzarella:

Try to keep cheese off the pan, hard to clean UGH

Pop into oven at 350 for bout 20-30 mins. or until cheese is as golden and crispy as you like it :) Meanwhile, cook noodles per package instructions and drain, keep reasonably warm. Add the vodka (or fancier) sauce to your mushrooms, simmering on low til the plants are ready to come out of the oven.

I also enjoy this sauce with spicy Italian sausage. Shhh...

After the eggplant is out of the oven, assemble your plate as follows: pasta down first, then sauce, then the eggplant on top. This keeps the eggplant at its crispiest. However, if you wanna ladle sauce over the whole damn lot, be my guest. :)

Bam. Money shot.

See?!?! Sooooo addictive. NOM.