Thursday, May 29, 2008

Memorial Day Recipes

While we were up north, T. & A. kindly hosted a barbeque that allowed us to see other New York friends all in one convenient visit. Being the food-obsessed girl that I am, I asked to help with the eats, and tossed together a few salads to accompany T.'s delicious chicken-bacon-pineapple-veg kebabs. (I wish I had a few of those right now. Mmmm...the grilled pineapple and bacon was reminiscent of hawaiian pizza's flavor, but tastier.) 
I would like to take a second to give a huge thank you to T. & A. for their hospitality and friendship. We love you! 
And now, back to our regularly scheduled eating.
The first salad was a slightly modified Ina Garten recipe for fresh corn salad. Very easy, very refreshing, and maddeningly addictive. I like to grill the ears of corn instead of boiling them as Ina originally intended. It just adds so much flavor and interest. 

The second is my mom's potato salad, always a hit at these sort of events. Over the years we've tweaked it a bit, adding scallions and celery salt to her original recipe. This one just gets better the longer it sits, so feel free to make life a little easier by making it a day or two ahead. I apologize for the less-than-gorgeous picture (garnish would have been nice)...but really, potato salad will never be the dazzling queen of the 'Q. Tasty? Yes. Creamy? Yes.  A taste of summer? Yes. Sexy? Not so much. 

Fresh Corn Salad
adapted from Ina Garten

If your corn is not perfectly in season yet, but you can't resist making the salad, you may find it's missing a little something when you taste for seasoning. The sugars haven't fully developed yet, and that's what your palate is looking for. Slip a few teaspoons of sugar into the bowl when no one is looking. Stir to combine and taste again. Better, right?
Not able or not inclined to grill your corn? Remove the husks and silk, and plunge into boiling water for 3-4 minutes, until fully cooked. 

5 ears of corn, husks and silk removed
2/3 C red onion, diced small
4 Tb apple cider vinegar
3 Tb olive oil
1/2 C fresh basil, sliced thinly or torn into small pieces
Freshly ground black pepper

Rub ears of corn with a little oil just to moisten, and place on a hot grill. Cook, turning every now and again, until the corn is fully cooked and browned in spots. Kernels should be just tender, not mushy. Let the corn sit for a few minutes until cool enough to comfortably handle. Stand each cob up (flatter end pointing down for stability) on a cutting board, and slice down along it to remove the kernels. This makes a mess as every now and again a rogue kernel makes a desperate bid for freedom. (I've heard of some people standing the cob up on the center of a bundt pan, and letting the kernels fall in as a way of keeping things a little neater. I haven't tried it yet.) Place the kernels, diced red onion, oil, and vinegar in a bowl and toss. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. If you are making this a few hours ahead of time, stop now. Basil that sits for too long will lose flavor and turn limp and dark. When you are ready to serve, add basil and toss to combine. Can be served cool or at room temperature. I don't recommend substituting canned corn for fresh in this recipe, as the texture and flavor just aren't the same.

Mom's Potato Salad

This makes a big batch, so feel free to scale down the recipe. If you don't want to cook and crumble the bacon, you can use those bags of "Oscar Mayer Recipe Pieces" (2 bags worth) that are in the salad aisle, but the fresh cooked is so, so much better. 

5 lbs red potatoes, washed and cut into  1" chunks
6 eggs, hard boiled
2 bunches of scallions, washed, root and tough ends trimmed off
1 lb of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1-1 1/2 C Mayonnaise
Celery salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Place the cut potatoes in a large pot of cold water and bring to a boil. Boil 12-15 minutes, until fork-tender. Remove from the heat and drain in a colander. Set aside to begin cooling. Peel and chop hard-boiled eggs, and place in a very large bowl with the crumbled bacon. Slice the scallions medium-thin and add to the bowl. Add cooled potatoes and toss to mix. Begin adding mayo. Start with the smaller amount just in case, and add more until ingredients are lightly coated, but not drowning in it. Add celery salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. (That's a lot of potatoes, so I'd start with a 1 Tsp of celery salt and a 1/2 Tsp of pepper, mix, taste, and continue tweaking). Place in the refrigerator to cool. If you make this ahead, take it out of the fridge a few minutes before serving, mix it again, and be sure the salad isn't too dry. The potatoes may have sucked up some of the mayo while sitting, and you may wish to add a little more to moisten.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Friends+Doughnuts+Long Weekend=Greatness

This past weekend, the Hubband and I headed north to New York to spend the long weekend with some good friends. As a new blogger, I debated how to refer to them. Should I call them by their given names? Just use initials in respect for their privacy? I asked them, but of course we just dissolved into laughter at the thought that I could post that I 'headed north for some T. & A.' Ultimately the issue was unresolved, but I think I will call them T. & A., because it still brings a smile to my face. I have a refined and sophisticated sense of humor, as you can tell. 
On our first night there, we grabbed dinner at a busy little place called George Martin's Grillfire. It was tasty, comforting food. My burger was juicy and cooked just as I had requested, and the crispy onions topping it were just that, crispy. That sounds obvious, but a 'crispy' onion doesn't stay that way for too long, and I was quite pleased to detect not even a hint of sogginess. (I'm sure we'll delve deeper into my long-standing horror of sogginess at a later date.)
 The real standout, however, was just to the left of my burger: sweet potato fries. They were delicious, just the right thickness, sprinkled with a hint of cinnamon. Warm and fragrant, I had a hard time tearing myself away from them to try the burger. They came with an herb dipping sauce on the side, which I eyed suspiciously. After all, it's hard to improve an already-excellent sweet potato fry. This sauce, however, complemented them very well. It was pleasantly herby and creamy, but not at all overpowering. The slight tang was a great playmate for the sweet fry. 
The next day we met up with another old friend, S., on the Lower East Side. We had two objectives in mind. Objective number one had an hour and a half wait, so we put our name in and headed a few blocks down to objective number two, The Doughnut Plant. Hubband and I have seen Mark Israel, the proprietor of The Doughnut Plant, several times on television, including the much-discussed (among doughnut-loving bloggers) meltdown on Bobby Flay's Throwdown. We asked S., T., & A. if they had ever sampled his wares, and when we found out that they hadn't, we decided to make it a part of our trip. T. stayed home to try to sleep off a cold given to her by some generous elementary-schoolers, but we vowed to bring her many flavors to try. And we did. 
Arriving at The Doughnut Plant around 12:45, we found a line of doughnut devotees snaking out the door. That makes it sound much longer than it really was though, because 95% of the space is devoted to baking, and just a tiny front room deals with the cash-only sales. The line was about 9 people long when we queued up. The smell alone was divine, and perhaps intoxicating, because when we got to the counter, we just started ordering willy-nilly. Vanilla-glazed, PB&J, Sunflower Seed, Mango, Vanilla-glazed strawberry jam-filled, Valrhona, Tres Leches, Blackout, Coconut Cream, and a lone Cinnamon Roll. The line behind us began to get restive...the Plant typically sells out of doughnuts, and we were fairly late in the day. I think that they worried we were going to clean them out. Eventually we felt we had enough samples for our scientific testing, and we left. S. managed to eat his coconut cream doughnut in just 4 bites and half a block, which was both impressive and a little scary because these are very generously sized pastries. He quickly pronounced it excellent. A., Hubband and I agreed to split a Vanilla-glazed jam-filled when we dropped off the lovelies at the car; after all, we still had objective number one to go back to! We tore the doughnut into three pieces and took our first bites...into one of the best doughnuts any of us had ever tried. The dough itself was airy and light, but still had a satisfying bite to it. I dislike the lighter-than-air but still somehow greasy fare of Krispy Kreme, because I feel like their dough dissolves into nothing but sugar on my tongue. This doughnut was ever-so-slightly chewy, but not at all tough. The jam filling is made at their store, and had good strawberry flavor without being cloyingly sweet. The glaze had a lovely taste of real vanilla. We smiled, sighed, and looked longingly at the boxes as we walked away from the car, toward lunch. 
Lunch was at objective number one, the Clinton Street Baking Co. & Restaurant. This tiny place (maybe 15 tables that were mostly 2 person) was frantically busy the entire time we were there, and still had a 45 minute wait when we left after 2pm. The brunch menu was varied, with offerings ranging from a pulled pork plate to award-winning pancakes to a lobster BLT. Hubband and S. both went for the Spanish Scramble plate, consisting of a frittata of chorizo, vegetables, and cheese, hash browns, and some sourdough toast, served with homemade preserves. A. opted for the huevos rancheros, and I wavered between the lobster BLT and vanilla buttermilk waffle. Eventually I opted for the waffle, as Hubband was also interested in trying it. The waffle was delicious, light, with a crisp exterior and moist chewy interior. The vanilla flavor was prevalent and went very well with the fresh raspberries, passionfruit curd, pistachios, and mint that topped the waffle. I desperately wish I had remembered my camera as this was without doubt the prettiest waffle I have ever encountered. It was really the passionfruit curd and pistachios that had caught my attention on the menu, and they didn't disappoint. The waffle came with a little pot of very interesting syrup...Hubband is convinced it was maple syrup mixed with melted butter, and it may well have been. It was almost the color and definitely the flavor of pure maple candy, the solidified granular stuff that my sister loves. It was slightly thicker than regular maple syrup, and cloudy, not the translucent dark amber I'm used to seeing. Whatever it was, it was tasty. The unanimous decision was that this was a great place, with delicious food, and worth the wait. I was happy to have suggested a place that the New Yorkers would like to go to again in the future. (Also, if you happen to be in the Clinton St. area, check out the awesome mural featuring garden gnomes just down the street from the Baking Co. Yet another reason I wish I had remembered the camera.)
Once back at the house, I restrained myself from eating long enough to take a couple of photos. 
This is the lovely Blackout doughnut. It's a chocolate cake-style doughnut with a chocolate pudding filling, chocolate frosting, and chocolate crumbles on top. I was a little nervous about the pudding filling, but it's just enough to moisten and be noticeable, not an overwhelming amount that will sploosh out when you take a bite. This was (obviously) full of real chocolate flavor, but not overly sweet. A very good balance. 

This was actually my favorite doughnut of the bunch, the coconut cream. A light, yeasty dough with a healthy amount of delicious custard filling. The glaze has flakes of coconut added, and both the glaze and custard taste of real, fresh, coconut, not icky overly sweet candied junk. I found it to be addictive. The vanilla-glazed and jam filled was my second favorite, followed by the Blackout at third. 
More coming soon about our wonderful weekend, including easy salad recipes.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


I remember the first time that I made risotto. It felt triumphant! I had heard from so many places that risotto was a finicky, difficult dish to make. You must stir every second! You must add exactly the right amount of liquid at exactly the right time! You must saute the raw rice grains to exactly the right level of transparency! Then, one day, I watched a cooking show in which the chef finally admitted that, no, it's not really that difficult. It's actually kind of...(shhhh).....easy. I soon tried it out and found that excellent risotto at home was now in reach. Triumphant, I tell you. Triumphant. I began making risotto in all sorts of flavors, from radicchio and prosciutto to butternut squash to spring vegetables. We enjoyed them all. Lately I realized that my risotto-making had tapered off; in fact, I hadn't made a risotto in months! Anxious to remedy this oversight, I headed for the pantry. 
I looked inside, and there it was, my container of short-grained Arborio rice. Familiar, comforting, an old (delicious) friend. But there, right next to the rice jar, was a bag of something else...pearl barley. New, intriguing, ripe with possibility. Pearl barley is, to my mind, an old-fashioned wonder-food. It has a very low glycemic index, meaning that it won't spike your blood sugar the way white rice or Captain Crunch will. It has been shown in some studies to have a stabilizing effect on blood sugar for up to ten hours, and it will certainly keep you feeling full longer than regular rice will, thanks to a higher protein and fiber content. I found my hand reaching for the barley. 
With a combination of a bit of regular risotto technique and some experimentation, I found this in my bowl.

Mushrooms, chicken, and fresh thyme elevated this obscure little grain into something subtle and warm, with deep flavor and a toothsome texture. It completely satisfied my yearning for risotto, but can't really be called that as it contains no rice. Hence, I dub thee 'Barsotto'. Go forth, and fill bellies with warm homey goodness! 

Mushroom Chicken Barsotto

Use a few different kinds of mushrooms for better flavor. This time I used Portobellos and their smaller sisters, Cremini. Even though they are technically the same, I find them to have different flavors. When using Portobellos in a dish, as opposed to on the grill, I like to use a spoon to gently scrape out the dark gills on the underside so that they don't turn my finished product an unsightly shade of grey-brown. As we were already planning on having wine with dinner, I added a nice splash (1/4 C)  of it to deglaze the pan after all the sauteing, but it's optional. Barley takes up a lot more liquid than Arborio rice does, so don't be alarmed if you need to add a touch more near the end of cooking.

3 C fresh mushrooms, sliced 1/8th inch thick
3-5 dried mushrooms (such as Porcini or Shiitake) 
1 Tb olive oil
2 medium shallots, minced
1 C pearl barley (NOT the quick-cook variety!)
1/4 C dry white wine, optional
4 C low-sodium chicken stock
2 C water
1 Tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 C cooked chicken
1 Tb unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat 1 C of water in the microwave just to a boil, and add the dried mushrooms. Allow them to reconstitute. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat, then add the sliced mushrooms. Sprinkle them with a pinch of salt to encourage them to give up their juices. Continue cooking them, stirring occasionally. After they give up their juices, cook until dark golden brown, then remove them from the pan and set aside. You may wish to use a little nonstick cooking spray as they brown if you feel they stick too much to your pan. 
After removing mushrooms, heat the olive oil in the saute pan and add the shallots. Saute until tender. Add barley. Stir until the barley grains are coated with the oil, then add wine and scrape up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add stock, water, and thyme to the pan. Remove reconstituted mushrooms from warm water, chop, and add to reserved browned mushrooms. Add the mushroom soaking water to the pan, being careful not to add any grit that may have come off of the mushrooms while soaking.
Allow the liquid to come up to a slow boil, and stir occasionally. Continue cooking until barley is al dente, 30-40 minutes. Add more liquid if necessary. When the barley is nearly done, add the mushrooms and cooked chicken and continue cooking until barley is done and chicken is warmed through. Stir in 1 Tb butter to add a little richness. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and chopped fresh parsley. 

Friday, May 16, 2008

Detox night

My Dad was in town earlier this week, and that usually means one thing: Beef. Dad is a major carnivore, and he truly feels that the only green that need enter his life is the pale stuff that holds up the blue cheese in his wedge salad. I'm all for a nice juicy steak now and again, but two steakhouses in 3 nights is a little rich, especially when one of them is Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, well known for cooking their steaks (and everything else they serve, it seems) in gobs of butter. Personally, I felt Ruth's Chris did not live up to all the hype, but that's neither here nor there. After all that richness, the Hubband and I felt like we needed something fresh, light, cool, and crunchy. Crudite! Perfect! But not with a rich sour cream or mayo-based dip...the answer? Hummus! And not just any hummus. I remembered a recipe I had seen on Orangette quite a while ago, for a luscious-sounding White Bean Hummus. I rearranged it a little to my taste, and I must say, I prefer it to the typical chickpea variety! It was delicious; subtle, creamy, light...drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with crunchy salt, just the thing for dipping fresh veg and whole-wheat pita. 

I accompanied the pita plate with a salad of mixed baby greens, scallions, (left-over) roasted chicken, and a really nice mustard-balsamic vinaigrette. The vinaigrette was a Cooks' Illustrated recipe, very slightly tweaked. I upped the mustard and vinegar and omitted the sugar for a really zesty, flavorful dressing to counterbalance the creamy smoothness of the hummus. 

Overall, it was a wonderfully light, but very satisfying, dinner that made us feel refreshed after the days of rich fare. 

White Bean Hummus
adapted from Orangette

2 large cloves of garlic
1 20-oz can of Cannellini beans (I like Goya brand, they're firm with a nice creamy interior)
1/3C +1 Tb sesame tahini
1/4C + 1.5 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 C water

Peel garlic cloves, then pulse them in a food processor until they are well-minced. Stir tahini well to mix, and drain and rinse the beans well. Add the tahini, beans, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to the food processor and puree. Scrape down the bowl of the food processor as needed. Add water slowly while processing, and keep going until the hummus is light and smooth. Taste for seasoning. Drizzle with olive oil to serve. (This hummus is particularly delicious with red bell pepper.)

Mustard-Balsamic Vinaigrette
adapted from Cooks' Illustrated

1/2 small shallot, grated on a microplane (about 1 tsp)
3 Tsp whole-grain/country-style Dijon mustard
1 Tb + 1 Tsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 Tsp salt
1/8 freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp minced scallion
1/4 C +1 Tsp olive oil

I just chucked all of this into a deep cup and used my stick blender to whiz it up into a dark, creamy dressing. Be sure to check for seasoning before serving; if you feel the flavors are too strong, add a little more oil to tame them.  You could also put it all into a jar with a tight-fitting lid and do a little dance with it, or put it all into a blender. Easy peasy, rice and cheesy. Toss the dressing with greens, scallions, and chicken like I did, or use it as a really flavorful dipping sauce. 

Monday, May 12, 2008

To Mom, With Love

Yesterday was Mother's Day, and although I'm not a mom myself, it's always a day I enjoy. I like having a day dedicated to doing whatever Mom would like, and I love that when she says "Oh, you decide..." I have the most excellent rebuff of "No, it's Mother's Day, and you're the mom! What do you really want to do?". Thank you Mom, for being understanding, supportive, and a hell of a lot of fun to be around. I love the time we get to spend together, and I'm always thankful for it. 

For Mom this year, we started off the day with Mimosas and Bellinis. What an excellent start it was! We added a bit of Cointreau to the Mimosas and Creme de Peche to the Bellinis. Both brought a lovely little zing and depth of flavor. 
As for actual food, I tried a recipe of Tartelette's, her beautiful Sweet Potato Vidalia Scones. I modified the recipe slightly by using a little extra of the delectable Garnet yams I picked up, sauteing my onions a bit differently, and substituting brown sugar for granulated white. We topped the little lovelies with poached eggs and a sprinkling of chive. They were fantastic; moist, deeply flavored, but still light and incredibly addictive. I think if I had made a triple batch, we would have found a way to eat every last one. 

We couldn't have a family breakfast without bacon, so I picked up a delicious thick-cut applewood smoked variety. It was great, as always, but I've been noodling over making my own lately. I think it would be a fun project, but Mom worries that it would turn out so superior to anything store-bought that we would be then unable to bear anything but homemade, and that I would then turn into the permanent bacon-maker. I personally don't think that sounds like such a bad gig. Isn't it sweet that Mom worries that I would be too good at something? 
"Sweets to the sweet" as they used to say, so of course Mom deserved a dessert. I didn't want to make anything too heavy for so early in the day, so I tried my hand at a Pavlova. It was easier to make than I had anticipated, and turned out remarkably well. Of course, I was a little curious about this dessert that I had not only never made before, I had never eaten, so I was examining it, and although I had read that "pav's" are quite fragile, I somehow neglected to remember that fact, and in the course of my investigation, I broke the meringue. In fact, 'broke' isn't really even the right word. The poor lovely thing shattered. I was shocked that I had been so silly and careless, and then Tim and I found the silver lining to that sad little cloud: now we got to make sure it was good! We picked up shards of the crisp, airy outer crust and used them to scoop up the fluffy, gooey, decadent center. "Dessert-nachos!" we happily proclaimed! Even better, there was some tart homemade raspberry-rhubarb preserve leftover from a Linzer torte experiment earlier in the week. It was wonderful paired with the sweet pav. We enjoyed more than we should have before dinner, and then I got back to business and made a second meringue. I was a bit more careful with this one, especially during the transfer from baking sheet to cake stand, and it traveled to Mom's without incident. Once there, I topped it with fresh sweetened whipped cream, another batch of tart stewed rhubarb, strawberries, and blueberries. 

The pavlova was universally liked. It was fresh and flavorful, sweet enough to feel like you were really being decadent but light and airy enough so that no one felt uncomfortably full. It was just wonderful. This one definitely goes into the dessert repertoire. 

Yam-Vidalia Scones 
adapted from Tartelette

1 small Vidalia onion, diced
1 C all purpose flour
2 Tsp baking powder
1/2 Tsp salt
1 Tsp packed light brown sugar
1 generous C mashed cooked Garnet Yams
3 Tbs butter, melted, cooled, divided

In a medium skillet, saute the onion with a little butter or nonstick spray. When the onion is just tender, remove one-third and set aside. Allow the remaining two-thirds of the onion to continue sauteing until they become a deep golden brown. Sift the dry ingredients together into a small bowl. Add the brown sugar, being sure to break it up between your fingers as you sprinkle it in.  In a separate container, mix the mashed yam with 1.5 Tbs of the melted butter. Add all of the onions and mix well. Add the dry ingredients to the yam mixture and stir just to bring it together. The dough will look floury and you may be tempted to add some liquid, but just turn it out onto a floured surface and mix it a little with your hands. It will quickly come together. Pat the dough out till it reaches 1/2" thick, then use a 2 inch round cutter or just cut into triangles as I did. Brush the tops of the scones with the remaining 1.5 Tbs melted butter. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Makes 10 small scones. 

Cocoa Pavlova
adapted from Joy of Baking
 I followed Stephanie Jaworski's recipe and method pretty closely, so I will link to her excellent explanation.  My main change was to omit the chopped chocolate pieces and use 2 Tb of cocoa powder instead of 3 Tb. I really only wanted a cocoa-tinged Pavlova, not a sweet chocolate bomb. It turned out perfectly. 

Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Steak Mmmmm's

Happy Friday! 
I actually made this yesterday, but you'll forgive for not posting right after dinner, won't you? There was a lovely glass of wine that just begged me to keep it company, and then I had a date with Gil Grissom. 
The first time I made this dish was actually in January of this year, for a wine and tapas party that we hosted for friends. I followed the recipe, one of Emeril Lagasse's, exactly, and I must say it turned out wonderfully, and all of our guests enjoyed it. I'm not typically an enormous Emeril fan; the few recipes that I have tried have worked well, but I don't like that many include his branded seasoning. I'm sure it's delicious, but I prefer to work out my own. 
This time I took a few more liberties with the dish, and it turned out well. Less fancy than the original, fewer subtle touches, but for a meaty dinner on a weeknight, it's quick, easy, and incredibly flavorful. The original recipe called for a multi-ingredient overnight marinade, with ruby port as the main star. For my stripped-down version, I used balsamic vinegar. It still provided that added tang and sweetness, but at a fraction of the price. (This is not the time for that gorgeous thick nectar from Italy!) A simple medium-grade vinegar will do nicely. I just rubbed it into both sides of the steak and seasoned very well with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, and let it come to room temperature. The vinegar did a great job flavoring and created a nice little crust under the broiler, and the meat came out rare and tender. 

That gorgeously radioactive shade of green is the real breakout star of this dish, and of course I've waited to mention it until now. Did you think this was just about a little flank steak? The sauce is a lively blend of parsley, garlic, jalapeno, bell pepper, oil, and vinegar. I played with the proportions a bit this time around, as we are big garlic fans in this household. If you're not quite as enthralled with it as we are, start with a smaller amount, taste, and add until you reach a balance of flavor that you enjoy. Be conservative with the sauce; it's so delicious and fresh you'll immediately be thinking up other things to put it on, but it's powerful too, and you don't want to mask the flavor of that lovely rare steak, do you? 

Balsamic Flank Steak with Parsley Sauce
adapted from Emeril Lagasse

1 Flank steak, approx 1 1/2 lbs
4 Tb Balsamic vinegar
Freshly cracked black pepper

Trim flank steak of any excess fat or silverskin. Drizzle 2 Tb of vinegar on one side, rub in, and season thoroughly with salt and pepper. Repeat on the other side, cover steak with plastic, and allow to come to room temperature. When the steak has come to room temperature, place it on a broiler pan and slide under the broiler. Keep a close eye, this is a thin piece of meat. I let this one have 3 minutes per side for rare, then removed it from the broiler and rested it for 10 minutes. If you do not let your steak come to room temperature, expect to add a few minutes per side of broiling time. After resting, slice the steak very thinly against the grain; this is the key to really tender flank steak. 

Parsley Sauce:
1 Tsp cumin seeds, toasted and crushed
1 C parsley, roughly chopped
2/3 C green bell pepper,  diced
1 1/2 Tb seeded jalapeno, diced
3 Tb garlic, chopped
1 Tsp Kosher salt
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
3 Tb red wine vinegar

Toss the cumin, parsley, bell pepper, jalapeno, garlic, and salt into a blender, food processor, or stick blender cup. Pulse a few times to get it started, then puree on high speed until smooth. Gradually add in the oil and vinegar with the machine running, and process until well blended. Check for seasoning. 

We served this steak with some simply roasted cauliflower. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Along came Miss Marshmallow

Well. Here we are, the first post on MLM. I will admit, I've been wondering how to begin. I've always found beginnings to be the most difficult, whether it be starting a paragraph, starting a conversation, or just starting the laundry. Once I get that first sentence or ice-breaker or dirty sock, I find my way, and soon I'm rolling as smoothly as a ball down the hill that I grew up on. 
I've begun this blog as a way to share and catalog one of my great passions, cooking. I know that there are untold numbers of food blogs out there, and in fact, it was reading some of those blogs that planted the tiny seed of MLM into my mind. Reading those blogs, seeing the passion and interest, and above all, the fun, that their authors had with food...I found it comforting, in a way. I often label myself a food nerd, and (I say this with all the respect and admiration in the world) I enjoyed reading the chronicles of other food nerds more than I would have imagined. Of course I have cookbooks, I heartily enjoy certain shows on food-oriented TV channels, and I'm always ready to go to a great restaurant. Something about these blogs was different. Most of these people are not food professionals, or food is a second or third career. These were people like me, cooking at home, enjoying success and failure, and sharing it with me. They moved me to try new things, push my little experiments a bit further, have the confidence to say "Try this! What do you think?" to more people. I got such enjoyment from these blogs that they moved me to try my hand at my own, in the hope that someone, somewhere, will take away from MLM what I took away from those others. 

Welcome to My Little Marshmallow, present and future friends. Thank you for beginning this journey with me.