Tuesday, August 26, 2008

How to Grill Corn

I've seen lots of people husk their corn and then wrap it in foil for grilling. Granted, this is a big step above the 'ol plastic-wrap-and-microwave method, but I still don't get it. Corn already has its own grilling wrapper! Save the foil, buy some ears out of the back of a pick-up truck at your farmers market, and try this out.

1. Pull back the husks, but don't remove them.

2. Remove the corn silk.

3. Pull the husks back up and grill until charred.

4. Carefully remove husks, schmear on some butter, and enjoy.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Asian Kale Soup

The farmers' market has been overflowing with goodness lately, such a welcome contrast to that windy day in June with the lone table. Last weekend, there were at least 10 vendors and people shopping at each one. I loaded up on produce, but when I got home, then I realized that now I have to eat all this.

Well, it's a tough job, but I'm up to the task.

With my fridge was stuffed with all this goodness, I didn't have room for the voluminous kale that I purchased. Time to cook it up.

I love kale in soup. In fact, it's really the only way I like it. It's tender and a little crunchy at the same time, with all the savory soup liquid soaking in and squishing out when you bite into the leaves. The first thing I thought of was kale soup with potato, beans, and sausage, but since we're in August, it didn't feel appropriate, a little too heavy. Mark Bittman to the rescue! I whipped out his How to Cook Everything cookbook, and landed on his recipe for Kale Soup with Soy and Lime. Since I'm a lime freak, I had to try this.

In the end, I ate half the pot for lunch. The flavors are fantastic, and it tastes so clean and light that there is no guilt in having seconds. And thirds.

Asian Kale Soup
Adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 small minced onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups vegetable broth
3 cups roughly chopped kale leaves (stripped from the stalks and well rinsed)
Soy sauce
Minced jalapeno chile
Lime wedges

Heat oil in large pot; add onion and garlic and cook until tender. Add broth, bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer. Add a glug of soy sauce (about 1-2 tablespoons) and kale; cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Serve in bowls, garnishing with additional soy sauce, jalapeno, and plenty of lime.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Omnivore's Hundred

Lora's Recipes posted a note about the Omnivore's Hundred and I had to join in the fun. Feel free to go through the list and see what you've eaten. I've bolded all the items I've tried, the underlines don't mean anything (previous Wikipedia links I couldn't get rid of), and even though foie gras is against everything I stand for, I also think you should always try something once, if given the chance.

And yes, I can't remember ever eating a Krispy Kreme doughnut. I know, it's un-American.

The Omnivore’s Hundred

Here’s a chance for a little interactivity for all the bloggers out there. Below is a list of 100 things that I think every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food - but a good omnivore should really try it all. Don’t worry if you haven’t, mind you; neither have I, though I’ll be sure to work on it. Don’t worry if you don’t recognise everything in the hundred, either; Wikipedia has the answers.

Here’s what I want you to do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.

2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.

3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at http://www.verygoodtaste.co.uk/ linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:
1. Venison

2. Nettle tea

3. Huevos rancheros

4. Steak tartare

5. Crocodile

6. Black pudding

7. Cheese fondue

8. Carp

9. Borscht

10. Baba ghanoush

11. Calamari

12. Pho

13. PB&J sandwich

14. Aloo gobi

15. Hot dog from a street cart

16. Epoisses

17. Black truffle

18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes

19. Steamed pork buns

20. Pistachio ice cream

21. Heirloom tomatoes

22. Fresh wild berries

23. Foie gras

24. Rice and beans

25. Brawn, or head cheese

26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper

27. Dulce de leche

28. Oysters

29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda

31. Wasabi peas

32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl

33. Salted lassi

34. Sauerkraut

35. Root beer float

36. Cognac with a fat cigar

37. Clotted cream tea

38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O

39. Gumbo

40. Oxtail

41. Curried goat

42. Whole insects

43. Phaal

44. Goat’s milk

45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more

46. Fugu

47. Chicken tikka masala

48. Eel

49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut

50. Sea urchin

51. Prickly pear

52. Umeboshi

53. Abalone

54. Paneer

55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal

56. Spaetzle

57. Dirty gin martini

58. Beer above 8% ABV

59. Poutine

60. Carob chips

61. S’mores

62. Sweetbreads

63. Kaolin

64. Currywurst

65. Durian

66. Frogs’ legs

67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake

68. Haggis

69. Fried plantain

70. Chitterlings, or andouillette

71. Gazpacho

72. Caviar and blini

73. Louche absinthe

74. Gjetost, or brunost

75. Roadkill

76. Baijiu

77. Hostess Fruit Pie

78. Snail

79. Lapsang souchong

80. Bellini

81. Tom yum

82. Eggs Benedict

83. Pocky

84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.

85. Kobe beef

86. Hare

87. Goulash

88. Flowers

89. Horse

90. Criollo chocolate

91. Spam

92. Soft shell crab

93. Rose harissa

94. Catfish

95. Mole poblano

96. Bagel and lox

97. Lobster Thermidor

98. Polenta

99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee

100. Snake

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Los Amigos, Mi Amigo

I hope my brief absence from posting hasn't turned away my three loyal readers. If so, I'll call you guys up and apologize personally. Or better yet, I'll buy a round of root beer floats. That sounds good...

After 10 days without local foodie tidbits, I hate to break in with sad news, but I feel it is my duty to do so. Cruising down 3rd Street the other day, this sign made me stop in my tracks:

Los Amigos. Closed. No "fresh tamales" on the sign. No "Friday evening fajita buffet". Just closed with a date. Like a tombstone.

The people who ate at Los Amigos adored Los Amigos. I count myself among them. They made The Best Salsa. The chicken tortilla soup was amazing. It was the only place in town you could get authentic tamales. The tacos were handmade. The arroz con leche reminded me of our Mexican honeymoon. One year Celia, the owner, brought out flan with a candle in it for my birthday. My little nephew liked the sleeping sombrero statue by the counter. Oh, the nostalgia...

Dear Celia, I know the restaurant was wearing on her. The prices of tomatoes were skyrocketing; her children were off starting their own lives without plans to return to Bismarck and run the family restaurant; it was hard to find good help in a town suddenly overrun with eateries. There were a million and one reasons to shut the doors everyday, but she kept it going.

However, there is no shame in closing. I'm actually thankful that Celia may have a moment to rest now. I'm just going to miss that place. And if I can ever track her down, I'll be begging for that salsa recipe. And the chicken tortilla soup recipe. And the arroz con leche...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Zucchini, Three Ways

Here we are, already knee-deep in zucchini. To help you enjoy the bounty in a delicious way, here are three zuke recipes to cover breakfast, dinner, and dessert. If you have them growing in the garden this summer, you'll need every one of these...

Zucchini Pancakes
Adapted from The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger

Serve with cheese and maybe ketchup, however I don't recommend maple syrup.

2 cups shredded zucchini
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 egg
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Canola oil, for frying
Grated parmesean, for sprinkling

Drain the shredded zucchini on a paper towel for 10 minutes. Combine zucchini, parsley, salt, pepper, and egg. Mix flour and baking powder in a small bowl, then mix into zucchini mixture. Let sit for 20 minutes at room temperature.

Heat 1/4" oil in a small skillet until hot, but not smoking. Drop spoonfuls of batter into hot oil, spreading a bit to flatten. Cook until golden brown, then flip until golden on other side. Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with cheese, and serve warm.

Grilled Zucchini

So easy, you barely need a recipe for it.

Zucchini, sliced lengthwise
Peppers, quartered
Onion, thickly sliced
Any other veggies you have on hand, cut into large pieces
Olive oil
Salt and seasonings
Balsamic vinegar

Toss veggies into a dish. Douse with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and any other seasonings you choose (Montreal Steak or fresh rosemary or Mrs. Dash or just freshly cracked pepper...). Grill over medium flame until charred markings appear. Place grilled veggies back in the original oiled dish. Add a few splashes of balsamic vinegar and serve warm or cold. Remember to soak up the oil/vinegar/veggie juices on the bottom with some fresh bread!

Zucchini Bread
Adapted from Savoring the Seasons by Lucia Watson

Most satisfying when mixed by hand in a large ceramic bowl with a wooden spoon. Trust me.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup applesauce
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups grated zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts

Mix flours, soda, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder together; set aside. In a large bowl, mix sugar, oil, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients into wet (don't overmix), then stir in zucchini and nuts. Turn batter into 2 greased 9 x 3 loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Cool slightly, then remove from pans to cool completely.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The First Tomatoes

The first tomatoes of the season. And my curious pup. And my preferred summer footwear. All in one shot. I can already see myself staring at this picture in the dead of winter with nostalgia...

Friday, August 8, 2008

Love Food Hate Waste

Just ran across the British site Love Food Hate Waste. Finally, someone who celebrates the fridge rummage meal! Click on the link, check it out, and put at least one tip into practice. You'll be happier, healthier, and wealthier for it.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Walleye Enchiladas

In our house, we don't often eat the same meal twice. This may sound wonderful and exotic, always trying the next latest-and-greatest recipe from Bon Appetit. However, without familiar meals, how do you maintain your sense of place? Your traditions? Your identity?

Like most people, we have a few oil-splattered recipe cards floating around the cookbook shelf that keep us true to our roots. These handwritten treasures are hopelessly unorganized, and inevitably I end up digging through random allrecipes.com printouts and magazine recipe clippings to find these morsels.

Note to self: winter project #152.

As the summer evenings grow a bit shorter now, a freezer full of walleye beckons, recalling a summer full of Lake Sakakawea fishing. With this in mind, I share one of these hand-written favorites: walleye enchiladas.

This recipe was handed down to us on a tattered piece of notebook paper as halibut enchiladas from family friends in Alaska. Usually I'd be suspect to a recipe that includes a can of tomato soup as an ingredient, but much like your loved ones, these babies ain't glamorous, sometimes they ain't even that pretty, but you love them anyways. And even after trying the Next Best Thing, you'll always return back to the tattered tried-and-true.

Me likes a good food/love metaphor.

Umm, usually I would put a picture of the dish here, but as I just mentioned, it isn't pretty. I couldn't take an appetizing pic of it to save my life. You make it and take a pretty picture, send it my way.

Walleye Enchiladas

2 lbs. walleye fillets, steam cooked, broken up, and cooled
12 oz. sour cream
1 small can diced green chiles
1/2 green pepper, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
10-12 flour tortillas
1 can condensed tomato soup
1 can mild enchilada sauce
Grated cheddar cheese

In a large bowl, mix cooled fish, sour cream, chiles, green pepper, and onion. Fill tortillas with fish mixture, wrap 'em up, and set creased side down in a greased 13 x 9 glass casserole dish. Mix tomato soup and enchilada sauce; pour over filled tortillas. Sprinkle with cheese and bake at 375 for 20 minutes until hot and bubbly.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Don’t Mess With Texas

I spent the past few days in the great state of Texas. I have to admit that part of me doesn't really want to like Texas. The oil biz, the SUVs, the traffic, the egos, the belt buckles, the implants – everything may be bigger in Texas, but none of it works with my admittedly leftist leanings.

However, when I actually go to The Lone Star State and interact with the people, frankly they make it pretty darn hard not to like Texas. In the spirit of North Dakota nice, I set aside my pre-conceived notions and instead offer my appreciation to the following Texans for making my visit a memorable one:

1) The InterContinental Hotel staff in Houston, for their incredible attention to detail, including the beer and cheese that greeted me in my hotel room. I have never before seen cheddar in the shape of a state. I can now check that off my bucket list.

2) The nacho lady at Minute Maid Baseball Park, for refilling my massive Coke cup after its contents spilled all over her counter. Oops.

3) The guy behind the counter at Amy’s Ice Cream in Austin, for happily giving me a new ice cream cone when my first lick of coffee ice cream turned out to be hazelnut coffee, and meanwhile eating up my rejected cone, licked spot and all.

4) My friend Brandi, a Texan in training, for encouraging me to eat with my elbows on the table while introducing me to Colombian food and the best damn falafel.

5) Little City coffee shop in Austin, for the 84 cent happy hour iced coffee. You have no idea how happy it made me on that triple-digit degree day.

6) Whole Foods Market in Austin, simply for being Whole Foods and all the wonderfulness that entails. I miss you already.

No worries, your regularly scheduled Rhubarb & Venison programming will return this week.