\\ GREEN FATTOUSH SALAD //

Image

Don’t eat this if you don’t want to feel like a fucking superhero.

This is a strong open, I know, but I mean it. This salad, if you eat enough of it, see, will instantaneously skyrocket you into all kinds of superhero activities: playing with the cat, lifting children out of wells, saving pretty girls, catching the perfect wave, getting free froyo, whatever.

I got the recipe years ago from a favorite famous home cook, Nigella Lawson. It’s roughly how she arranges it, but I tweaked it a bit and made it even less fussy as she. And it’s not even so much a recipe as a directive to put all these items in one big bowl and go at it like a fox attacking a chicken.

I usually only make this when I’m alone; as you can imagine, from my description, it can get a bit grim. It’s just soooo good. It’s amazing. You don’t want anyone around. You don’t want any judgement on how voraciously you’re eating, and you certainly don’t want to share.

Here goes!!

One pita pocket, flat bread, large piece of baguette, naan. Fattoush is generally a salad with stale or unleavened bread as a base with whatever herbs and vegetables on it you desire. ANYWAY, I usually use a pita, and toast it in the oven to get it all crispy and awesome while I assemble the rest.

Bunch of crunchy lettuce. Romaine, butter, iceberg, even cabbage. Whatever blows your hair back. But I’d do romaine.

1 whole avocado, chunkily scooped out and into the bowl

Handful cilantro, chopped or ripped up 

Handful mint, chopped or ripped

1 or 2 green serrano peppers, whatever level of spiciness you’re up for. PRO TIP: this smaller the serrano, the hotter, usually. I use one medium one because I can’t be bothered to de-seed. 

1 Small bunch scallions, washed and sliced thinly, well into the pale green part of the stalk. 

Juice from one big juicy lime, or two small tough ones, limes are disquietingly dry sometimes. 

Couple tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and kosher salt to taste

Really, there’s no instruction here. Try to get everything mouth-sized, because that makes it easier, but also not a big whoop. I would say the best tip would be to dress all the lovely pale greens of the lettuce and herbs and scallions and peppers with the lime juice and olive oil, THEN break up the pita into the salad THEN toss all together, this keeps the bread from getting soggy. But really. Put it all into a bowl and eat it, alone preferably. If you must share, use nice plates. Otherwise, go hell for leather on this gorgeous thing.

Image

Image

Image

 

\\ SOUTHWESTERN CORN SPOONBREAD or, how I used up all the rapidly wilting vegetables in the fridge //

Image

 

I feel the foodie crush of late summer coming on, like I didn’t make enough use of local tomatoes or Georgia peaches or North Carolina blueberries. I didn’t have a crab boil or pig pickin’ or make any pies. I have all this bullshit guilt from buying Cheezits instead of organic okra. So I make poor decisions and over-buy corn at an end of summer sale and too much cilantro thinking maybe I’ll have a little party and I can serve guacamole but then realize I recently moved 300 miles away from anyone who might want to come over. And then all the vegetables start their inevitable descent into soft, useless rinds and bitter, hollowed out husks. So! Instead of THAT whole sad affair let’s make cornbread!

It’s super easy and all the ingredients are likely to be found in your cupboard.

Ingredients:

2 ears roasted corn

Half a jalapeno, seeded and chopped finely

handful cilantro, chopped or ripped apart roughly

Half a small onion, sweet yellow or vidalia if you can, diced

2/3 cup milk, whole or 2% or 1%, whatever you have

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup flour

1/2 yellow cornmeal

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoons kosher salt

Cracked pepper to taste

Dash garlic powder

First! Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Then melt a couple tablespoons of that butter in a skillet and pop on dat chopped onion. Add a pinch of salt and spoon the onion around as it browns and softens. Add the jalapeño and the cilantro and let them souse together for a few minutes while you de-cob your pre-roasted corn.

(If your corn is fresh, then pop it in a 350 degree oven about a half hour before you decide to make this bread, husks and all. It roasts beautifully that way, is perfectly tender and awesome and hence cornbread ready).

After cutting the kernels off the cob, put them in the skillet with the onion, jalapeño, cilantro mixture and the last two tablespoons of butter and that dash of garlic powder. They all party together in the pan and that’s how the bread is so easy yet so amazingly, zingingly flavorful.

While they sizzle away in the pan you can get the batter ready. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, cornmeal, salt, baking powder, and pepper. Give it a quick whisk so it’s uniformly incorporated. 

Take the skillet with the onions, etc. off the heat and let it rest a minute. In a smaller bowl, combine the milk and egg and whisk it quickly, like you’re making scrambled eggs, to beat a decent amount of air into the mixture. Dump the contents of your skillet into the eggy milk mix and give that a few whisks. 

Now adding the wet ingredients to the dry can be a source of panic, doubt, and anxiety for some people. Here’s that confidence thing again: sometimes you have to just close your eyes and dump it in there and hope for the best. All the fluffing and folding and careful measuring, who cares!? It’s not a big deal. You were probably going to throw out that onion and those corns tomorrow anyway. SOOO, put the wet ingredients into the dry and mix them together with a folding motion a few times until they just combine. Don’t over-mix or the bread will be dense and shitty. Just fold a few times and pour into a greased baking dish, preferably in a fun shape like a dinosaur or a tree or a circle or a square. They’re all fun. 

Bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes or so. The yellow cornmeal color should just deepen a bit, a blush of sorts, you’re not looking for a big burnished golden brown or anything. When it colors into a deeper yellow and cracks a bit on top, it’s ready. Pull it out, let it cool as much as you can before you dig in, and then eat. And eat, and eat.

Image

 

 

 

 

 

\\ TOBLERANAS! Or, Dark Chocolate Toblerone Dipped Frozen Bananas //

Image

Here is the frozen and amazing finished product and my hand featuring my mood ring by the incredibly talented and beautiful Jessie Yeager of I Like it Here Club Jewelry (found here http://ilikeithereclub.tumblr.com/)

Ingredients:

2 or 3 ripe bananas

2 dark chocolate Toblerones

1 tbsp vegetable oil

wax paper or nonstick tinfoil

double boiler or large stock pot and mixing bowl

*not totally necessary, but a silicon spatula is the business here

So nobody hears BOGO and doesn’t think the circus is coming to town. I was in the grocery store a few months ago and took an unusual turn down the frozen aisle where I found quite a spectacular treat: Diana’s Bananas Frozen Chocolate Covered Bananas were one big BOGO, milk or dark chocolate, oh and I went for it. (Also, amusingly, I had misread the box and thought, up until recently, they were called “Dairy Bananas” which honestly is funnier and more fun to say. But I digress). ANYWAY, I had never eaten a frozen chocolate dipped nanner. Despite being American and all, and the number one fan of all circuses, carnivals, and fairs, I had never had one. Once I tried them, my first thought was, “This is magnificent.” Then my second thought was, of course, “but I think I can do this better/cheaper/faster.”

Speaking of BOGO, which is also super fun to say, the store had a Toblerone sale, any flavor, two for one. I always opt for strong, bitter, dark chocolate and was over the moon to see that they finally had a dark chocolate option, as Toblerone has long been a favorite treat but milk chocolate is just too sweet for me. Point is, at the end of the day, I had two candy bars. 

I also had two swiftly ripening bananas. Turns out, the day I made these was the exact perfect day. The ripeness of the bananas after frozen resulted in the most velvety freezy ice cream consistency I’ve ever tasted. More ice creamy than ice cream, you could even say. The banana jackets, at time of freezing, looked like this:

Image

So! We have a couple bananas we’re looking to get rid of (but again, I abhor throwing away food), seven ounces of dark chocolate, and a few minutes to burn. It’s late summer. Frozen banana time!

I don’t have a double boiler but it’s important that the chocolate melts evenly so I boiled a couple inches of water in the bottom of a large stock pot and popped in a thin aluminum 3 quart mixing bowl, floated it on top of the water, and stirred often:

ImageImage

I added just shy of a tablespoon of vegetable oil and mixed it in until the chocolate was all shiny and uniformly melted. It’s ready when it glimmers a bit. You’ll know.

I peeled and halved the bananas and put them on some wax paper. I was too excited to make these and didn’t want to take the time or money to slog over to the store to get popsicle sticks, but I’m sure they would be a festive addition. ANYWAY, here are the bananas, once plain and then after I poured over the chocolate mixture:

Image

Image 

After the chocolate is melted and poured over, roll the bananas and coat them as uniformly as possible. Just covered will do, if you make it too thick it’ll just be a gloppy mess. I’m not going to post a picture of the chocolate covered pre-frozen banana halves, because, honestly, as you might imagine, they don’t look great. They’re not photogenic. 

Put them, uncovered, in the freezer for about 45 minutes to an hour. They’re ready to eat after that, and I’d store them in a tupperware container for no more than a week, but it’s doubtful they’ll last past the day. These things are unbelievable. The dark chocolate is deep and rich and the little pieces of nougat still maintain a bit of their crunch. The ripe, freezy bananas, as I said earlier, are more ice creamy than ice cream. This is a win on all accounts. Easy, amazing, healthy, and cheap. Cheaper than a BOGO. You’ll want to tell all your friends.

Image

 

\\ AWESOME ITALIAN SAUSAGE AND ZUCCHINI CALZONES WITH THE GREATEST HOMEMADE TOMATO SAUCE IN THE UNIVERSE //

Image

Our internet is spotty here and all I have to watch is Seinfeld on DVD, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I saw The Calzone episode the other day, where Steinbrenner only wants to eat calzones all the time and George gets ousted from the Italian place for digging through the tip jar, and then all I wanted was all the calzones so here we are.

First of all, I’ve never made a calzone and I don’t even really ever cook that much Italian but every time I look at a recipe I tend to stare at it like I’m burning a hole through the paper and never absorb anything so I decided to wing it. This is where the blind confidence we talked about earlier comes in. You have cheap groceries and some time to waste?! Go for it!! Make a calzone!

I felt like a solid homemade tomato sauce was an important base and I just happen to have a recipe that’s so good you’ll want to eat it with a spoon. It’s gorgeous and the easiest thing ever. Here it is:

Basic Tomato Sauce for Brilliant People:

Cook time: about 40 minutes

4 tbsps salted butter, cut into 4 parts (usually unsalted is best for cooking so you can control the sodium blah blah but here the salted butter adds a depth of flavor and a velvetiness that is absolutely unmatchable with anything else)

1 28oz can diced tomatoes. I like Centos or Furmanos. If it’s a got a yellow label, it’s probably good. 

1 medium yellow or white onion (unless what I’m cooking calls for something specific, I usually always use sweet yellow vidalias. They’re a treat and I like the added “umph” of flavor. It’s a flavor blasting shortcut! Because it’s important to season at every level).

1 clove garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

Instructions:

Heat the first tablespoon of butter in a medium pot. Meanwhile, peel and halve your onion. That’s it! Just chop it in half. Watch it, because butter browns quicker than oil and then you have to start over after having a small tantrum. Anyway, when it starts to bubble, plop in half the onion. 

Spoon it around for like 5 minutes, until it just barely starts to brown. I like trying to flip it over and over with a wooden spoon, it’s harder than it looks, kills time, and cooks it evenly while scooting it around and getting oniony juices everywhere. Which you want.

 

Image

Then pop in the diced tomatoes and all their juices. Mix it around a few times, and then mince your garlic clove over the pot and toss in your bay leaf and your second tablespoon of butter. Bring it to a simmer and then turn the heat down. Walk away. 

Image

Stir every so often and press the tomatoes against the walls of the pot with a wooden spoon to help break down and crush them up a bit. Toss in your third tablespoon of butter around the 25 minute mark.

When it’s been cooking for about 30-35 minutes, turn the heat off, add your last tablespoon of butter, and pull out the onion and the bay leaf. The onion will have separated its layers a little but that ain’t no thing. Just make sure to pull out all the bits.

Image

THEN! You’re almost done. The thing that really clinches this sauce is blending it, either with a handheld immersion blender or in a regular blender in small batches (if you overfill a blender with hot liquid, it’s going to be Chernobyl in your kitchen. Be confident, but careful).

Image

Once you’ve blended it, it will take on a smooth, orangey, almost creamy texture, like a vodka sauce. 

Image

Voila! You’ve done it. It’s so unbelievably great, you can stop right there, or season it more with pepper, chili flakes, or oregano (but I wouldn’t). This works on anything! Pasta, bread, a base for soups, or on calzones, which this blog originally promised to be about and we will move towards momentarily..

Right now! The calzone part is as easy as the tomato sauce. While they are gently sousing in butter and softening to something like red velvet, get on with the calzone prep. 

First of all, if you, like me, decided to make this on a whim with no warning, and ran to the store to get pizza dough, and have no time to thaw it, and have no microwave, putting frozen dough and a little olive oil into an oven-safe dish and covered with a damp towel and “baking” it at 200 degrees works a treat. Just remember to check on it from time to time and flip it so it thaws evenly. It also preheats your oven for the big calzone party when it’s time.

Image

Since all I know about Italian cooking comes from the movies Big Night (1996) and Do the Right Thing (1989), I have no real say, but I assume you can put anything you want in a calzone, as long as its wrapped in dough and includes sauce and cheese. I had some rapidly wilting zucchini and yellow squash and some hot Italian sausage in the fridge so I decided to make a vegetarian style one and a meaty situation. 

First up: Veggie style!

Image

Ingredients:

1 small zucchini

1 small yellow squash

1 half yellow onion

Dried oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

Chili flakes

Couple tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Chop up all the veggies into comparable sizes, a medium dice is fine. Heat up the oil, also to medium. I can never dice things as quickly as I think I can, so I heat the oil second so it doesn’t start smoking and I feel like a failure immediately. Do things in time.

When the oil is shiningly hot, toss in the onions and a pinch of salt. Sweat them out for a few minutes (whilst checking on your tomato sauce), then add the zucchini and squash. Season with a bit more salt and pepper, the chili flakes, and oregano. Dried herbs are stronger than fresh, so season accordingly. Whatever you want to do. 

Image

Alternately, or also: The Meaty Option!

Ingredients:

Any meat you want. This time is was hot Italian sausage.

This is where it gets super easy! Brown the sausage in the pan! That’s it!

Image

Slice up some fresh mozzarella and basil. I like to chiffonade the basil, or cut it into thin little ribbons. You roll all the leaves together and then slice normally:

Image

Image

Anway, after the ol’ chiffonade and mozzarella routine, it’s time to roll these babies up.

Take the now thawed (and very warm) pizza dough out of the oven, rip off a chunk, sprinkle with flour and stretch into a small round. My dough came out a little clunky, but regardless I’m still qualifying it as perfect. Put a small dollop of sauce, then either the veggie mix or the sausage, then some mozzarella and basil. Be conservative, as all these items seem to expend exponentially while baking. 

Image

Fold over, squish the dough together to prevent anything that’s supposed to stay on the inside of the calzone from getting outside of it and all over the pan. Transfer to a baking sheet lining with tinfoil. Make a sailor hat from leftover tinfoil. Pretend you’re the captain of the kitchen. Marry a gay couple in there. Whatever! It’s your kitchen.

When you’ve folded up all your calzones, brush a little olive oil on the tops and pop them in a 375 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes. Check to make sure they’re turning golden brown and not leaking or smoking or burning. When they’re all burnished and beautiful take them out and let them cool for a while. Don’t cut into a hot fresh calzone as all the contents have become liquid fire in the the oven and they will scald you and it will all be really gory. But when they are ready, kablammo! Good, gorgeous, eatin’.

Image

 

A note to single cooks out there or someone cooking for just two:

Leftovers are wonderful things, and should never go to waste.

Image

Throwing away food is an enORMOUS pet peeve of mine, and I find just scrounging around in the cupboard can yield wondrous magical results when you’re looking to use up some tired ass leftovers. The rest of these ingredients mix wonderfully with eggs for a freshy veggie and mozzarella frittata, or use the rest of the sausage and sauce to make an incredible pasta dish. Or throw them away, but never tell me about it. Again, whatever! It’s your kitchen. And now, your calzone. Happy eating!

\\ COWBOY BREAKFAST //

vsco_0

 

Sometimes you wake up and you feel like a bag of trash, dirty diapers, and dead rats. You can’t face the day, you can’t blog chirpily and hang billowing white sheets in the sunshine and talk to your neighbor about their organic huckleberries. You just can’t right now.

You CAN, however, eat cold steak with your hands off an Avon “Gentle Moments” plate and drink ice cold black coffee from your favorite Pigathon mug your boyfriend gave you.

Anyhoo, this is a recipe for the hot steak I ate last night, the leftovers of which will be the only good thing I eat/do today.

  1. Any steak you want. Filets are fancy but boring, and cheap little steaks marinated and seasoned well make you feel like a genius and a billionaire, a trickster who figured out how to beat the system. Anyway, this was a ribeye, and I only bought it because there was a meat sale on at the store. Usually I do get the cheap ones. Look at the date and the amount of fat in the cut. I look for a 65:35 ratio for meat to fat marbling.
  2. Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Everyone always says it has to be first cold press and all that, which would be great, but this isn’t a blog about all the things I wish I could afford. Point is, you can get a pretty great bottle for around ten bucks, this one is from Trader Joe’s and a very pretty pale green.
  3. DAT KOSHER SALT AND CRACKED BLACK PEPPER WE TALKED ABOUT. Be slightly more heavy handed than you might think with salting, meat that’s under-salted is vile and it’s not as good if you add it later.
  4. HERBIESSS! This is the whole thing about the well-stocked pantry. Invest in dried herbs that you can use over and over again, classic French prep, traditional Latin spices, and Indian fare. This way, you’re not spending over the odds on one weird dish the time you decided to make, I don’t know, goulash or something. More on this topic later. This time I went French with a kick:  rosemary, thyme, marjoram, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper, in equal parts.
  5. Meat cooks better when you let it come down to room temperature so I pulled it out of the fridge, poured on the dang seasoning, and covered it in tinfoil and left it on the counter for three hours while I did cool other stuff.
  6. Obviously, a grill would be ideal, but again, this isn’t a wish blog. I do, however, have a grill pan which has little ridges in it like a grill and is actually awesome. I use it so much it’s all warped and nuts, but still works a treat. Anyway, make it pretty hot before you pop the steaks on it.
  7. And cooking takes no time at all, especially when you’re using those thin little “minute” steaks. When my mother made them for me as a little kid I thought “minute” was a brand name, but no, it just takes a minute to cook them. You can watch the side of the meat as it cooks and turns brown. You don’t want to keep flipping meat over and over and over so you watch it, flip it once, and cook it equally on the other side.
  8. Doneness is up to you. I like my steak pretty rare, but there’s a nifty trick to tell any doneness that I learned from working in kitchens: poke the top of the meat as it’s cooking and compare it to how the pad of your hand feels when you touch your thumb to your pinky, ring finger, middle finger, and index finger in turn. Thumb to pinky is tightest, aka well done. I usually pull it out of the pan when it feels like I’m thumb to index finger. That’s a crazy way to explain it, but it works. It continues to cook a bit after you take it off the heat, so plan accordingly and just deal with it.
  9. Let it settle for a second while you glug wine or queue up Orange is the New Black or call your sister. It has to rest so all the pretty juices don’t run away and down the board instead of on your face and hands where it should be. Eat.

Even if you want to eat it all, save at least a fourth of it so regardless of how you feel the next day you can have cowboy breakfast if you want to.

Love,

Emily

 

//Hello fellows//

This is mostly how I look. HELLO THERE

This is mostly how I look. HELLO THERE. This is a blog about food, and a lifestyle, and art, and a little bit of everything else, and how easy and effortless it is to make a life full, round, and wondrous.

First off. There are kitchen rules. I am beginning this blog at the beginning of these rules, and petering off and into actual recipes soon.

//RULES//

I almost never have a well-stocked pantry. I’m broke all the time, and dicking off at farmer’s markets is amazing but almost always beyond me. However, you can make anything awesome if you always have:

  1. CITRUS mostly lemons, but often limes. In a pinch, if you have it, dry sherry will do, but who are we kidding us young gals don’t have sherry lying around unless someone threw an ill-fated Mad Men theme party. AnyWAY, citrus deglazes the pan when cooking with heavy oils and such and pretty much brightens everything else, from soup to nuts. Honestly.
  2. Kosher salt and WHOLE BLACK PEPPERCORNS (and then, of course, a peppermill to grind them kerns). I cannot deal when I have to cook in a kitchen with that McCormicks ground pepper bullshit. Get that shit out of here. Whole cracked pepper! Better than anything.
  3. You have to be BRAVE. Don’t worry about anything, it’s not a big deal. Almost anything can be salvaged. It’s like anything else: if you feel scared and insecure, the final product will suffer. Be bold and lovely and daring and don’t worry. Combine two flavors you like. Add the whole packet of noodles if you want. Who cares about a cup of this versus two cups of that!? I mean, follow a recipe, but relax. Have confidence.
  4. EASY PEASY. The importance of this cannot be overstated. I love cooking the MOST, however I can’t be arsed to make a big fucking deal about it. Work smart, not hard.