Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Roasted Corn & Grilled Peaches

I don't have regular access to an outdoor grill. My life is so hard. However, I do have an oven and a grill pan so I can still make tasty summer produce  treats like roasted corn on the cob and grilled peaches. Observe!

Roasted corn on the cob:
Preheat your oven to 350 and then put your ears of corn (husks still on) on the middle rack. Roast for 40 minutes. Leaving the husks on acts like natures tin foil! As an added bonus, roasting makes it super easy to get all of the corn silk off before serving. Add a little salt, pepper and butter and eat.

Grilled peaches:
Heat your grill pan or grill to medium high. Slice peach or peaches into quarters and brush lightly with canola oil or butter. Sprinkle peaches with cinnamon and then grill about 5 minutes per side. I served mine with blueberry Greek yogurt and it was pretty, pretty, pretty good.

Monday, August 20, 2012


I made the best veggie sandwich for lunch the other day and again for dinner tonight. I want to eat one everyday forever. I used those weird sandwich thins for bread because I wanted something between a bagel and regular bread, but a pita would work too. And then you wouldn't have to have bought something called "sandwich thins" which kind of makes me feel like the bread people punk'd me. Anyway, I roasted a couple red pepper slices while I was getting my other fixings together and it is totally worth it. Just brush a couple of pepper sections with olive oil and broil 'em in your toaster oven. Spread mustard on one side of your bread and hummus on the other so they become a delicious glue that holds the other ingredients in place. Pile on cucumber slices, pickles, sliced tomato, and cheddar cheese. Slice your sandwich in half and admire it's artistry. Eat like Mr. Fox having french toast, or chew at a normal, relaxed, human pace. Your choice.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Seitan tacos and artistic purgatory

Just like it is easier to order take out than make your own dinner, I’ve found it’s much easier to NOT do creative things than to do them. Making things, whether it’s a meal or a painting, takes time and effort. I often will put off something creative in favor of something far more laborious and unrewarding just so I don’t have to stare at a blank piece of paper. You know, because who wants to draw when you can clean your bathroom or watch Bunheads? Do I realize that sounds completely insane? Yes, yes I do. That’s the worst part-I know that avoiding creativity makes me a crazy person, but I still feel the need to relearn that lesson at least once a month. That’s a lot of unnecessary existential flotsam floating around in a brain. I am convinced that there is a way to be both a productive, creative artist and a responsible, functioning adult. I’d like to be consistently making work, entertain a satisfying social and romantic life, exercise my body and my brain regularly and excel in my career. Whether or not this is possible remains to be seen. In the meantime, I make dinner. And you know what makes dinner better? Taco Tuesdays with seitan and homemade tortillas.

Homemade tortillas (adapted from Dinner: A Love Story)

You’ll need: 
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for flouring your work surface)
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used canola ‘cuz that’s what I had on hand)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup warm water

Mix together the flour and salt. Add the oil and mix lightly. Add the warm water and stir with a wooden spoon until it forms dough. Cut into equal pieces of 6-8 balls. Brush with a little vegetable oil and cover with a dish towel and let rest for 15 minutes. Using a rolling pin, roll each ball on a floured surface. You can also stretch out the tortillas by hand. Whatever is easier. Preheat an ungreased griddle or cast iron pan. Add tortilla and cook until it begins to puff with a few browning spots on the bottom. Flip and press down to release the air pockets. Cook for about 1 minute. I made these with all-purpose flour the first time and they were delicious and soft. I made them with whole-wheat flour a second time and they were much stiffer and-sigh-less tasty.

For the fixins: 
Goat cheese 

If I have planned ahead, I use 1 loaf of homemade white seitan from
Terry Hope Romero’sViva Vegan!, or if I haven’t I use about 2/3 of a box of prepackaged Westsoy seitan strips. 

If you’re using homemade seitan, slice your loaf into strips and cover with a mix of 1 tbsp bbq sauce, 1 tbsp soy sauce and 1 tbsp lime juice. Let the seitan marinade while you make the tortillas. If you’re using premade, just empty some into the pan when you’re ready to roll. Heat the seitan in a skillet over medium high, stirring occasionally until slightly browned (about 5-6 minutes). Fill each tortilla with seitan, guac, cheese, spinach, salsa and anything else your little heart desires. YUM.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Pandas and plum sake

I just got back from Japan! As a lifelong Sanrio devotee I was beyond excited to go on this trip. I drank tropical drinks on picturesque beaches, saw whale sharks and manta rays, poured over stationary and adorable home goods and freaked out over characters and design. I also got food poisoning from Pizza Hut and killed my trusty camera by subjecting it to Okinawa’s typhoon season weather. Oops. I loved Japan and would gladly endure 12 hours of gastrointestinal hell again if it meant I could be back there right now. Now that I’m home I want to explore some Japanese cooking and make more art inspired by what I saw on the trip. So far that’s meant buying some sake and a panda tokkuri and making what is basically a white wine spritzer. Baby steps, my friends.

Sake ‘n seltzer
1-2 shots of dry sake (chilled)
Seltzer ( I used Polar Ginger Lemonade seltzer)
Lime wedges

Fill a collins glass ¾ full with ice, pour in the sake and then top off with seltzer
Stir and garnish with a lime wedge or two

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Tofu Tacos

It’s Cinco de Mayo! And the Kentucky Derby! All in one day! Why is this important you ask? Because now at long last you can combine your two true loves: Mexican food and bourbon. Try these sweet potato tacos for a healthier (and tastier) alternative to the usual cheese with a side of cheese dish you get at your local tex mex place. The recipe is based on Kim Barnouin’s Black Bean and Yam Tacos from Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook, which is a pretty fantastic book even though the title sometimes makes me want to roll my eyes over and over like a sarcastic animated gif. No offense, Kim. I cooked a batch of brown texmati rice to serve with my tacos, but if you don’t feel like adding rice you don’t have to. If you sense that pairing tacos with a mint julep is a terrible idea, you’re not wrong and should drink a paloma instead.

You’ll need:
Makes 4-6 servings:
1 ½ tbsp olive oil
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
¼ block of firm tofu, pressed and cut into small cubes
¼-1/2 large red pepper, diced
about 6 baby portobello mushrooms, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ C onion, diced
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp oregano
soft taco sized tortillas
spinach, siracha and feta cheese for garnish
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups cooked brown texmati rice (optional)

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium high. Add the sweet potato and tofu and sauté until the potatoes are almost soft about 9-10 minutes. Add the red pepper, garlic, spices and mushrooms. Cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the beans and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Take the pan off the heat and warm a couple of tortillas in a frying pan for a minute or two (or nuke them in the microwave for about 30 seconds on a damp paper towel). Build your taco like so: rice, spinach, potato and bean mix, and a sprinkle of feta cheese topped with siracha. Ole.

Paloma Cocktail (makes 1 serving)
2 ounces tequila
1/2 ounce lime juice
pinch of salt
grapefruit soda (or half Sprite half grapefruit juice)
Lime wedge

In a collins glass, mix the tequila, lime juice, and salt in a tall glass. Add ice, top off with the soda, and stir. If you're fancy, use the grapefruit soda from the international aisle at the grocery store. If you're thrifty just use Squirt or Sprite or 7up and some grapefruit juice. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Hello, Polenta

The premade polenta at my local grocery store is tucked away in a weird tower of baskets by the deli. It seems as though they’ve been put there as an afterthought, which is too bad since polenta can be made into a zillion tasty treats. I tried out this recipe from Martha Stewart Everyday Food the other night and although the overall result was beyond salty, I think with a couple of minor changes this could be really delicious. I subbed out real sausage for the fake soy sausage (the Gimme Lean variety) which could have been the super salty culprit, but who knows. Next time I’ll tweak the recipe by swapping in some carrots and zucchini for half of the sausage to balance it out more. The most time consuming part of this was the prep work, other than that it’s easy to throw together and you get to buy two food items that come in tubes, which is fun in a severely limited sort of way.

Makes 4 servings:
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil (I just used some fat free cooking spray)
1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
1 lb sweet italian sausage, casing removed (I used Gimme Lean veg sausage-again I’d recommend reducing this to half a pound)
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3/4 C marinated artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped (I just used regular canned artichokes)
Coarse salt and ground pepper (I’d leave out the salt and just use pepper, plus oregano and basil)
1 tube (18 oz) prepared polenta, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
1/3 C chicken stock (I used veggie stock instead)
1/4 C fresh parsley coarsely chopped (I left out the parsley)

I also would suggest adding:
6 baby bella mushrooms, diced
1 quarter of a red pepper, diced
1 small zucchini, quartered
3/4 C carrots, cut into rounds

Preheat your oven to 400. In a large skillet, heat oil or spray over medium high. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add sausage and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until browned, 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook until it starts to smell yummy, 30 seconds. Remove skillet from heat and stir in artichokes, mushrooms, peppers, carrots and zucchini; season with pepper, oregano and basil. In a 2-qrt baking dish, layer polenta rounds and spoonfuls of sausage mixture in a domino-like formation. Pour stock over top and bake until bubbling and polenta is pale golden, 20-25 minutes.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Springtime Summer Rolls

Do you like buying tasty and fresh produce at your local farmer’s market? Of course you do. Do you like opening your refrigerator at the end of the week and seeing half of your delicious veggies staring back at you with sad, wilted eyes? No you do not. Take a break from boring salads and save your food from a neglectful death by making these easy summer rolls.

You’ll need:

Rice paper wrappers from the international aisle or your local Asian market
Dipping sauce (you can make your own or you can use store bought hoisin or plum sauce)

Pick your roll fillings:
Carrot and cucumber slices (cut into matchsticks)
Zucchini, cut into strips and sprinkled with salt and pepper
Avocado slices
Shredded lettuce
Fresh basil leaves
Fresh cilantro
Fresh mint
Cooked vermicelli rice noodles
Pan fried tofu
Fresh mango slices
Cooked shrimp
Cooked chicken

Peanut sauce
2 tbsp peanut butter (creamy or chunky both work)
2 tbsp warm water
1 tsp soy sauce
Lime juice to taste
Siracha to taste
Whisk all of the ingredients together in a bowl

My favorite combo is carrots, cucumbers, basil, avocado, mango, vermicelli and tofu.
Be careful not to put too much of your fillings in your wrapper-the more stuff in your roll, the more difficult it is to roll it up neatly.

Slice and prep your fillings and soak the rice wrappers in warm water for about 5 minutes. Lay a wrapper on a plate or work surface and place your ingredients on the bottom third of the wrapper, leaving enough room on the sides that you’ll be able to fold them over (see illustration). Fold the sides in first and then fold the bottom up over your ingredients and roll the whole thing up! Dip in your sauce of choice and enjoy. Rolls kept in tupperware in the fridge will stay fresh for up to two days.