May 30, 2014

Spicy White Bean Dip (AKA Kickass Dip)




I'm digging the governor of Minnesota. He gets things done. Scion of a local wealthy family, hockey player, Yale educated, once married to a Rockefeller, had and lost a previous public office, stint at farming, recovering alcoholic. He's funny looking, completely lacking in charm and doesn't care about whether or not he's "likeable". He speaks straight, is whip smart, sticks to his positions, isn't afraid of anyone, isn't a bully, is proud of his sons and mourns his dogs who passed a few years ago. I love this guy. I don't know how the hell he ever got elected but I'm glad he did.

I was reading about him in the newspaper as I tucked into this INCREDIBLE curry/spicy dip I made off the Lady & Pups blog. The article talks about how he's insisting the state get rid of stupid laws like the one requiring the agriculture commissioner to personally hunt down any wild boars running loose in Minneapolis. That would be this guy:

May 27, 2014

Strawberry Banana Bread with Brown Butter



Strawberry Banana Bread with Brown Butter

Quick breads are not quick to make unless you count prep time plus at least an hour in the oven quick. To me, quick is 15 minutes and I always seek out the speedy route—express checkout lines, express yoga classes, express shipping, express pass at an amusement park (worth every penny). I wish there were express hair services—an hour sitting in a chair getting my hair cut is barely tolerable and two and a half hours purgatory for color makes me crazy. Next time I'm going to ask if I can run an errand while I "process". People may stare at my crazy head of foil but I don't mind. At least I'd be getting something done.

So why are they called quick breads? Only because they don't contain yeast so you don't have to wait for them to rise. For bread, they're quick. Bread quick, not quick quick.

This one has strawberries and bananas—a classic if perhaps overdone combination and brown butter, which makes everything better. I like to brown my butter dangerously close to burnt—as brown as possible for maximum flavor. So good in this bread, as well as drizzled over fish and chicken...but I guess that's just butter in general. Having a new technique gives me a reason to lavish it on everything. I made extra to chill and spread on the finished bread.

May 20, 2014

Thai Meatball Bowl

Thai Meatball Bowl




You know how people keep the same hairstyle for 30 years? I wonder if it's really true that you have one style that suits your particular face, head shape and hair texture and only one? Or is it that you have a certain style that you associate with your most attractive, confident and/or carefree self and while the rest of you gets a little melty with age you can still control your tresses and have the same hair you had when you were firing on all cylinders, which is a comfort. Or maybe that's a cliche and you're firing on more cylinders now that you're older, wiser and calmer and that hairstyle is a friendly ornament of more foolish days that you're grateful for because without them you wouldn't have the perspective and empathy you possess now.

Recipes are like that—the ones we make over and over because they work, make us and the people we love happy and possibly harken back to good times. Pistachio lamb meatballs were one of the first blog recipes I posted that my family was enthusiastic about so I make them frequently, but today I decided to try this Thai version I came across on the Epicurious site.  You can make a sandwich with them—like a bánh mì, or throw them in a bowl with coconut rice, crunchy raw vegetables and cool cilantro yogurt.

May 7, 2014

Salad with Pickled Fennel and Polenta Croutons




I was tempted to name this post "Gluten Free Croutons" because gluten free is such a big deal and I'd probably get more hits or visits or whatever, but come on, we all know that has nothing to do with why I used polenta for croutons. I was simply trying to think of an alternative to bread which I probably eat too much of. I first saw these on Giada's De Laurentiis cooking show and while I wish she wouldn't pronounce parmeGGIANO that way and wear glossy pink nail polish while she cooks which I fear will infiltrate the food, her ideas and recipes are pretty good. 

The croutons are great—soft and crispy and satisfy your fiercest carb craving. Try and use them while they're a bit warm. I put them in this composed salad. Salad as a composition...an arrangement of harmonious ingredients put together in an appealing way. Just like Gershwin. Rhapsody in cornmeal, salami and fennel. 

I did a quick pickle on a fennel bulb and added goat cheese, salami, julienned orange pepper and a bit of basil. They're all sort of Italian and gather together as a happy family on the plate.  I put it on a bed of baby kale but I think it would be good with any slightly bitter lettuce. I cheated and used prepared polenta (shelf-stable rolls near the pasta). I'm sure it would be even better with homemade. 



May 2, 2014

Olive Oil Poached Salad




A few times a year I think of my Great Uncle Art and when I do I feel humble, and pissed. It was Art, a world class humbler whose motto was "don't get a fat head, you're not so special", who told me I had my Aunt Grace's nose.

My Aunt Grace was magnificent. She stood less than five feet tall and radiated energy. Truly, you could feel waves of energy pulsing around her. She was one of eleven children raised in a small farming community of French Canadians and the only child to up and move to the city (downtown, no less), get a job in an office and give her cheerful opinion to anyone who'd listen be it a person on the bus or a vagrant on the street. She wasn't afraid of anything, laughed a lot and had beautiful eyes. But she did have the nose. A more robust version of my own with a crooked Picasso part in the middle and a drooping tip. An unfortunate nose. And my Uncle Art, honest to a fault was talking to me at Thanksgiving when I was 14 and said, "you turned out pretty—where'd that come from?" He paused and studied me and then said with utter frankness, "eh but you got that bad nose same as Grace" I was speechless. What a shit. My Uncle Mark, who overheard, tried to act like Art was joking and hustled me away.

But the damage was done. I had a nose that was the bane of conventional attractiveness. But I shared it with the indomitable Grace and that made it better.

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