Monday, January 30, 2012

Thank you, mystery man/woman

If you read my earlier post about Thai Peanut Noodle Salad, then you know that when I am really impressed with a dish, I don't just court it.  I become "OMG I can't live without you" serious about it.  I gush about it.  I take it home to meet my parents.  I experiment with it (too much?)  This salad is no exception.

Doesn't look like much, does it?

But beneath that quiet, unassuming exterior is a deliciousness that really drove me crazy for a while.  The first time I came across this was at a Christmas party a few years back.  Hardly anyone had touched it, and to be honest, I didn't have any intention to, either.  But my aunt had insisted, saying it was surprisingly good, and thus the search for it's maker began.  I just had to get my hands on this recipe, but no one seemed to know who had brought it.  Years later, I think I've finally done the original justice. 

Olive and Roasted Tomato Wheatberry Salad
Yield: 4-5 servings

4 cups cooked wheat berries (about 2 cups uncooked)
1 1/2 cup good marinated olives, chopped (the quality of this dish depends on this.  Whole Foods olives are a favorite of mine.)
2 1/2 cups roasted grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup red onion
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

4-5 cloves garlic
1 tsp sriracha
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 400F.
Cook wheat berries according to package instructions.  Halve grape tomatoes and scoop out seeds, then toss with olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper.  Roast for 20 minutes, shaking the pan a few times.  Add to wheat berries, along with pine nuts, olives, and onion.  Mix together vinaigrette, streaming olive oil in lastly, then add to wheat berry mixture and chill for at least an hour.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Simple Perfection

Google caramelized shallots and you'll find that adding vinegar to these little bulbs is all the rage these days.  And that's fine, I'm certainly not one to shy away from vinegar, as I'm sure you've noticed.  But I am of the "don't mess with perfection" camp, and to me, there's just nothing in this world more perfect than the sweet and savory melt in your mouth goodness that comes from simply throwing these guys in a little oil and letting them do their thing.

I try to have a little variety in my recipes, and that's where it gets difficult.  Because deep down inside, there's a part of me that just screams, "throw some caramelized shallots in it!"  no matter what I'm making.  I fight it, I do, but when it comes to green beans I give that little nag what she wants. 

  And I couldn't be happier to do it.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Brussel Buddies

I knew I was doing right by my little cabbage friends when I tasted a trial batch of these and thought, "Hmmmm... needs more brussels sprouts."  Not exactly something that gets said every day.  But I adjusted the amount, and what do you know?  My tastebuds were right. 

 Care for a bite?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Cabbage Patch Kids

There are many ways to spruce up brussels sprouts and I'll get to them, I promise.  But before I do, I beg of you to give them a try in all their naked, properly prepared glory.  So many of us have been traumatized by the boiled brussels sprouts our parents forced us to eat and that's just too bad.  You see, when brussels sprouts are boiled, it is all too easy to overcook them.  And when they're overcooked they release a chemical called singrin, which causes a sulfurous odor that will linger in your house for days- and in your memory even longer.  But cooked properly they are mild and quite wonderful, addicting, even.  So give this simple treatment a try, and let's put this myth to rest once and for all.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Will work for Peanut Salad...

I've gone to great lengths for this dish.  I stayed at a dead-end job, at which my boss pocketed a good deal of my tips.  I drove an hour out of town to another location when the restaurant I worked at went under, and I spent hours in the kitchen trying to recreate it when the chain closed down completely.  Sometimes the effort was an abysmal one, sometimes it came close, but never did I feel the satisfaction that the real thing brought me- until now.

 Thai Peanut Noodle Salad.

It's spicy.  It's tangy.  It's creamy, crispy, and crunchy.  It's back in my life again, and best of all?  I'm the one who's in charge.

Monday, January 23, 2012

One good thing leads to another...

After finishing my last salad, I had wasabi peas dancing in my head.  I thought to myself, you know, I think I've heard of wasabi-crusted meats before.  Maybe I could try it with tofu!  But to my chagrin, it had been done before.  But do you know what hadn't?
 Wasabi-crusted Eggplant. 

Eggplant and I have a tumultuous relationship.  We don't always get along.  But this dish may have just changed that forever.

Wasabi peas on a salad?

Oh. My.  Gosh.  Yes, yes, and yes!

Seriously, I don't even know what to say about this.  I mean, what did Leonardo DaVinci have to say about the Mona Lisa?  Okay, that may be a bit of a stretch.  Let's just say I love it, I'm eating it now, I'll be eating it for the rest of my life, and I think that you should, too!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

When I was waiting at Rock Bottom...

(well, waiting tables at Rock Bottom Brewery, but literally at my rock bottom- a brewery is not a good place for any young adult to be spending too much time) I did the unthinkable- I tried a dish that had mushrooms in it.  And to my surprise I loved it!  It was called Asiago dip, and it was divine.  The mushrooms were indistinguishable in it- but it had an earthiness that I had never really experienced before.  I then realized that it wasn't the taste of mushrooms that had been bothering me all along, it was the slippery, slimy texture.  This appetizer is an ode to that dip.  Mushroom haters, this one's for you!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Why are some vegetarians overweight?

Because, just like some omnivores, they're eating the wrong foods!  I learned this the hard way, when my perinatologist who specialized in triplet and even quadruplet(!) pregnancies said I was gaining weight way too fast! 

(Hi, Babydoll!)

At that point I was eating literally every half hour, but I wasn't making my meals count.  For the first time in my life I realized how important it was not only to eat foods that are healthy, but to eat foods that are healthy and keep me full.  That's when I discovered the beauty of fiber.  Which brings me to a recipe that is near and dear to my heart- walnut taco "meat."

I LOVE the stuff.

I love it in tacos, in burritos, in lettuce wraps, I haven't tried it in lasagna but I'm pretty sure I'd love it in that, too.  This is the kind of meal that sets me on the right track for the rest of the day.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. 

So you hate asparagus...

Do you like pesto?  Good!  I think I've got just the thing for you.  This recipe came about through what can only be described as serendipity.  I had forgotten that I had asparagus roasting in the oven and when I finally went to check on them they were as soft as the bananas my sons like to mash into our carpet.  But I had my heart set on asparagus, and I was not going to be defeated.

Don't you just love a mistake gone right?

Monday, January 16, 2012

When life gives you oranges...

I was recently blessed with an overabundance of oranges.  I faced a tough decision- lug out my giant, dusty juicer, or juice these babies by hand.  My hatred of washing dishes won this time, and you know what?  It wasn't so bad.  It took all of 10 minutes and my juicer didn't have to leave it's comfy home in the back of our pantry.