Thursday, August 16, 2007

Burrito De La Madre Del Dios (part 2)

Ehem. Let me begin by apologizing for my previous post, which, while unquestionably justified, was perhaps out of line with the spirit of the blog. Without further ado, here are the ingredients: You're looking for Texas Ranch Style beans in the black can with a picture of beans on the front. It's pivotal that you have the right beans as they are the corner stone of the burrito. The other ingredients are: Tortillas, Pace Salsa (medium), Swiss Cheese, and some kind of meat or meat substitute of your choice. When the burrito began I used Polska Kielbasa, but when I became a vegetarian I started using tofudogs. I now use fakin' bacon, but it's up to you. What you do is you take out that tortilla and lay it on a plate see? Then you open up that can of beans I was telling you about, and you scoop out precisely half of the can and put them beans right there on top of the tortilla. Then you kind of pick up two opposing ends of the tortilla and rock it back and forth so that you get a nice row of beans lined up all nice like a great wall dividing east from west tortilla. Oh I forgot that you can also use some rice if you want. If you're gonna use rice then you should cook some up and then line it up on top of the beans you know what I mean? So it's like every ingredient you put on is just building up the great wall higher and higher. Ok. So you put some rice on there maybe, but not too much, just enough to cover the beans, and then you put the salsa on top of that. You want to add a good deal of salsa on there. You'll thank me for it later, I promise! At this point there's not a lot of heat going on inside this burrito so I pick up the plate and stick it inside a toaster oven. Now if your toaster oven is like mine, the plate is not going to fit all the way in, so you just kind of shove it in there as far as it will go and leave the door open. Then you put it on broil, that way it's only heating up the top of the burrito and not getting your plate too hot. Alright, so it's kind of warmed up now, so you take it out and put you're fakin bacon in the toaster oven for a few minutes, and then line them up on the burrito wall. Then you put your swiss cheese on. A word about swiss cheese: I like to get the presliced square kind. That way, you just fold it over and you have two rectangular pieces that line up perfectly on the burrito wall! So now that you got that cheese on there, you're going to want to stick it in the old toaster oven again. Once that cheese is melted, you take the plate out and fold the burrito over the great burrito wall and place another two rectangles of cheese on top to secure it. Then what? Well, you stick it in the toaster oven again and wait for that cheese to melt. At this point the cheese is going to melt pretty quickly. Do you know why? Because as the burrito gets higher and higher, it gets closer to the little heat rod things in the toaster oven! Ok, so now the cheese is melted and you take it out and you look at it and you ask yourself does this look like a really awesome burrito? And if the answer is 'Yes, it does look like a fucking awesome ass burrito', then you eat it. And that's it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Cheese Please

Homely Pies

I saw Waitress. And then I made pies. I don't bake, because that takes discipline. They came out, well, like pies only a mother could love. But they tasted pretty good...

Atop, you have peach, nectarine, and raspberry pie with a flaky cornmeal crust. To the side, you have the same, made of the extra, but its only a top crust. That worked well because this was one juicy pie. I should have broken down and added a bit of cornstarch, but no, had to be a purist.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

A la Bernadetta

Of late I've been on a summer salad kick, particularly those of the sort that could be a tasty addition to things tossed on the grill, or a meal all by its lonesome. Another quality I look for in a salad is evidence that it will age well, gently mingling flavors, becoming more complex with the passage of days. These are the midlife partners of salads--dependable, varied, healthful. But moving on:
The latest sprouted from two bunches of broccolini that ended up in my basket at Safeway. They were green, fresh, and most importantly, a dollar a pop. I had nearly forgotten about them, thus, though not for the last time, wasting two perfectly good dollars in the name of a bargain, when I came upon another epicurean impulse purchase--the bags of artisan Italian bulk foods that I picked up at Rainbow a while ago: farro and cecci. Translation: spelt and Italian chickpeas (they actually translate to "grass peas," cute, eh? I thought so.) Faced with these orphans, one of my favorite of Angele's creations, "Pasta a la zia" someone or other, came to mind. Its a classic mixture of olive oil, anchovy, garlic, red pepper flakes, and broccoli, often served with orrichiette, little ear pasta. It also should be served hot, and gets rather gummy and less attractive the next day. I took the spirit of ol' zia whoever (zia=aunt) and created "insalata a la zia Bernadetta," in honor of my aunt Bern, who is looking for good things to make for lunch with veggies and legumes. I omitted the anchovy because when I went to open the tin it looked a little bocholistic, and added kalamata olives for their briny, salty flavor instead. I also tossed in a bit of arugula because I had it, and I thought the peppery taste would be good. Capers also came to mind, but alas, the cupboard was bare. Feta could make the whole thing more Greek. Do as you will...

1-2 bunches broccolini, heirloom broccoli, or the crowns of the regular stuff. I like a lot of broc.
1 cup farro (spelt), soaked overnight if desired
1 cup uncooked cecci soaked overnight, or one can garbanzo beans, drained
1/4 cup olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic (to taste, I tend to like it garlic laden), minced
Chili flakes, 1 tsp or more, to taste
8ish kalamata olives, minced
one bay leaf
herbs, if you like (I had fresh oregano, it was kind of nice)
Juice of one lemon

Cook farro and cecci, with a bay leaf, according to package direction. Farro freezes pretty well, so you may want to cook more to speed up your grain salad making at a later date. You don't have to soak the farro, but it cooks more quickly that way. Shorten the cooking time and taste if you do soak it.

Put farro and cecci into a large bowl

Blanch broccolini in boiling, salted water about 30 sec, then run under cold water.

In a large, cold skillet, put olive oil, garlic and chili flakes. Turn on heat to medium, and let the flavors infuse a bit. I then poured off a bit of oil into a cup for later flavoring as needed, but I might have had a bit more than a 1/4 cup to begin with. Turn up heat a bit and into remaining oil, add broccolini and saute until it softens a bit and picks up the flavors in the oil. Salt to taste as you saute. Turn the vegetables into the large bowl, making sure you get any oil and little bits remaining back in the pan. Add olives, and squeeze lemon on top (you need lemon, you do, maybe even a spot of zest if your inclined that way). Toss together and taste, adjusting seasonings (more salt, more chili) as needed. If eating immediately, toss in arugula and herbs. If not (better to wait a bit) cover and put in fridge for at least an hour. When you are ready to eat, add any herbs you might like (stick to Italian flavors--parsley, the oregano was rather nice, mint would be a different route...could work...). Enjoy alone as a meal, or as a side to broiled or grilled fish with lemon, roast chicken, etc.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Summer of Squash

In keeping with the colorful and squashy mood of the latest entries, I have decided to add a tasty new recipe for your enjoyment. In terms of food nomenclature, I am not particularly fond of the use of "patties" along with loaf (in reference to the meat variety). Maybe that's partly because I am not fond of hamburger and for that matter hamburger patties. It sounds sketchy, unappetizing, and mysterious. However, this latest recipe is redemptive and has opened new doors to the world of "patties," or the preferred fritter or cake.

I first tasted the Zucchini Pattie with Feta in Sebastopol. After an endless day at work, defeating few hours of rock climbing, and a long drive to the country, Zoe, Rebecca, and I found ourselves feasting on these oval wonders made by Zoe's mom. The crispy browned outside mixed with the melted feta on the inside made for an excellent and tasty treat. And the yogurt sauce dollop on top made for a refreshing touch.

The great thing too is that you can mix it up, i.e Yellow Squash Patties with Goat Cheese. The world is your squash garden.


Coarsely grated zucchini (from about 3 medium)
Spice of choice
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
All purpose flour or breadcrumbs
Crumbled feta cheese
Chopped Italian parsley
Chopped green onions
Chopped fresh dill

Olive or corn oil for frying

Plain Greek yogurt

Toss zucchini and salt with a large bowl and let stand for 5 minutes. Press out excess liquid and transfer to another bowl. Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Add flour as needed so the consistency is on the drier side.

Fry in skillet over medium heat.


Good cold as well.

Monday, August 6, 2007


Anna Spencer Davies and I once got in the most ginormous fight because I was convinced that it was not "categories" but "categlories," and ritously asserted that belief in that way that I am at times known to do. I, in case you too are confused on that count, was wrong. No glory there. But anyway, this is just to say (oh WCW) that I may have eaten your plums, and you can now add LABELS at the bottom of your POST (I see all of you are posting like crazy, so this will be indispensible) so others can search by type of recipe. For example, "vegetable," "entree," "snarky comments a la dylan," etc. Play on, players.
I need to work on my proof-reading. Sadly, I do a lot of it for the writing of others. I just seem unable to bring myself to do the same for my own. For posterity, I like A mix of tomatoes, and you should cut the mint into THIN strips.

The staff of salad

In these fogged late summer daze, I have become enamoured with color. Red tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, green tomatoes. Sweet 100's. Early girls. I love them all. I've been pretty into "kitchen sink" summer salads (more on that later) but I've been kicking around a few recipe ideas focused around produce that is booming at the moment. I forced Josh to come over and be my guinea pig as I knew he would probably have forgotten to eat all day and would therefore eat just about anything I placed in front of him, and probably like it. On the menu was:
Tomato Panzanella with Lavender and Mint
Sauteed sweet corn and red pepper with chili-lime butter
Red-rubbed flank steak

All were works in progress, though luckily all were edible. The chili-lime needed a bit more bang, the red-rub will next time go on a thicker cut, and the Panzanella needed...something. I gave it another go today, and figured it was the "pan" that just needed a bit more loving. Here is the second stage of this summer salad (as with all things that I make, amounts are approximate and should be adapted according to what you have). On the tomatoes--they are the stars of this dish, so this is the perfect time to make it. You don't want Safeway tomatoes, or winter tomatoes. This is good, summertime stuff here folks.
  • 2-3 lbs good tomatoes. I like mix of sizes (sweet 100's, big heirloom) as well as colors (red, tiger-striped green, those little golden goodies). Cut the small in half, cut the larger in a range of sizes (early girls perhaps in 4 or eight, big guys in large squares)
  • 2 cups trimmed arugula. You can cut this into think strips like the mint if you like.
  • Lavender salt (pretty cheap at Whole Foods, oddly enough)
  • Bunch of mint, to taste (optional)

For Croutons

  • A good loaf of bread. I didn't use the whole loaf, and in fact its great for day old. Try ciabatta or Acme herb slab. See below for crouton recipe.
  • Olive oil (1/4 cup-esque., or mix some olive oil and some butter)
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed

For Dressing

  • A smallish shallot, minced
  • 3ish tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • squeeze of lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
Put diced shallot in a cup with vinegar and a bit of lemon and let mingle for 20ish minutes.
In the meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 with a cookie sheet in there. Cut the bread (you may choose to take off the crust, or leave it on if you like the texture or are lazy. In a frying pan, heat oil or oil and butter over medium heat (until butter foams or oil is warm). Add garlic and let cook 30 sec to a minute. Add bread to pan and toss to coat, or if the pan is small put the cubes of bread on cookie sheet, pour oil over, sprinkle with sea salt and grind a bit of pepper atop. Bake, stirring once or so, until the bread is lovely and crispy but still a bit soft in the middle. Remove after about 8-9 minutes and let cool. These can be stored in a Tupperware for a day or two.

While the bread cools, cut the tomatoes and sprinkle with lavender salt. Taste to make sure you have not created something that tastes like potpourri. Take mint leaves to taste, and lay them all one atop another. Roll them up, then slice thinly across the roll, as if you were cutting a baguette. Do the same to the greens if you like. Slowly whisk the oil into the vinegar. In a big bowl, toss tomatoes, greens and bread (you may want to add the mint later). Grind pepper to taste. Let sit for one hour and up to a few--this could be good for pick nicks--or eat immediately if you are quite hungry or like your bread very crispy. Before serving, taste and add olive oil as needed.

Some possible variations--remove mint and lavender, add burrata, or another good fresh mozzarella, and basil. Or, leave lavender in, and add some tasty goat cheese. These are just ideas--let me know if you try them. They're on my list. As always, any suggestions, additions, or changes (I never measure my salad dressing) are awaited...

Next: Cheddar and pink pearl grilled cheese with garlic-onion jam...