Thursday, May 28, 2009

One Hot Cookie

I've been trying to come up with creative ways to use a jar of chipotles in adobo before they go bad. I notoriously will open up a jar, use 1 little pepper, and then throw out the rest several months later when I discover them in the back of my fridge. Not this time! First I whipped up some chipotle mayo for my sliders, and then...

Chocolate chip..otle? That's right. I said it. And I did it. I made chipotle chocolate chip cookies. I'm a big fan of mixing sweet with spicy and savory, and decided to give it a go with the all-American chocolate chip cookie. I've seen chipotle and chocolate together in desserts before, so I went for it. I mixed up a batch of basic chocolate chip cookies (from my old school Fanny Farmer cookbook...which Mel and Amanda both have as well...which is the one and only cookbook you need to survive... especially Mel's, which has notes in the margins). I scooped half the cookie dough out of my mixer, to save just in case things went awry. Then... hold on to your hats... I added 2 chopped up chipotles plus a little bit of the adobo sauce to the bowl and turned up the speed. The dough became stickier than the original, and also took on a red tint (with festive little specs of chopped up pepper). Into the oven my Frankenstein cookies went. The chipotle cookies spread out quite a bit during the baking process, and came out much flatter than their un-peppered half... but they still had a great chewy texture... and the flavor?

Not bad! They tasted just like a regular delicious chocolate chip cookie, but with a kick so hot it nearly knocked me off my feet! Wow! I was really surprised that they didn't have a weird peppery, savory flavor, but instead tasted sweet and chocolaty and delish. Unfortunately, the hot peppery kick really was so intense that some people couldn't hang... I won't name names that start with an 'A' and end with a 'manda'. Evan, on the other hand, loved them. As a self-proclaimed dessert-hater (I know... it pains me to even think such awful thoughts), Evan doesn't usually eat the cookies I give him (I'll find them hiding months later), but with these hot little ditties he ate them right up, and even went back for more!


The experiment was fun, and with positive results, but I don't know if I'll be whipping up another batch of chipotle chip cookies anytime in the near future. I have, however, been dreaming up a chocolate-raspberry-chipotle sauce...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

To Slide or Not to Slide

For quite some time, I've had mixed feelings about sliders. The slider-craze is out of control, with the mini-burgers popping up on menus all over the place, from upscale restaurants, to happy-hour bar menus, even to fast food drive-thrus! What's so special about bite-size burgers, and why are they kicking their king-size big brothers out of the limelight?

After a little investigation, I think I have the answer. Nothing can beat the charred, outdoor grilled, big 'n' juicy BBQ burger (with it's promise of summer, fun, baseball, and beer in every bite)... but there is something delicious, different, and a little bit 'gourmet' about a slider. With approximately 2-bites per burg, one doesn't feel overly full, and the flavor is exciting from start to finish. Also, (some meat-purists out there might disagree) my favorite part of a burger is the charred, grilled, seasoned, sometimes cheesy, sort of crunchy and caramelized outer layer. The slider provides the perfect ratio of flavorful outer layer to juicy inner burger, something that it's plus-size counterpart lacks. The idioms are true when it comes to sliders...'everything is better in moderation,' and 'dynamite comes in small packages.'

How did I arrive at this conjecture? After initial distrust, hesitation, and even trash-talk about the baby-burger revolution, I have officially jumped on the slider bandwagon. It all started last week, at BalMar happy hour, with one little, delicious burst-of-flavor that kept me yearning for more (slider accompanied by fries with truffle aioli) , and was further intensified after I ate one too many full size burgers (on top of one too many full size beers) last weekend. What finally pushed me over the edge, to the slider-side, was the simple act of making (and devouring) my own sliders.

My delectable little beef morsels, sandwiched between toasted baguette slices, were covered in melty, gooey jack cheese, slathered with spicy, smokey chipotle mayo, and piled high with greens, lettuce, avocado, tomato, radishes, and my kick-ass-honey-mustard-caramelized red onions. With so much flavor jammed into such a tiny package, they were 10 times better than the best burger I've ever made. They were fun to make, even more fun to eat, and Evan and I both felt satisfied without being overly full and weighed down.

To make chipotle mayo, simply mix together mayonnaise, chipotle peppers in adobo- add sauce and chopped pepper (more or less depending on how much heat you can handle), and a dash of liquid smoke, which really brings out the smokiness of the chipotles (which are smoked jalapenos). For ooey-gooey, super carameltastic, extra delicious caramelized onions, my secret is to mix in honey and brown mustard right before you take the onions off the heat. It works every time. Now... to REALLY enjoy the mayo and the onions, promptly jump on the slider-train and never look back!

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Sun and the Moon

Amanda and I took advantage of the sunny hot Memorial weekend with an all-day Seattle leather-tramping (hoofin' it on foot) adventure. We first hit up the Ballard farmer's market, where we filled up on delicious samples of local goodies, including goat in mole and cow's-milk feta... both delish! From there we walked along the Burke-Gilman to Fremont, where we had a few more tasty samplings at the Fremont Sunday market, and a light lunch at the Nickerson St. Saloon. Our journey then took us to the ultimate in sunny day Seattle culinary destinations- Molly Moon's Ice Cream in Wallingford.



From friends and a recent shout-out in Bon Appetit magazine, I had heard amazing things about Molly Moon's homemade creations. Molly Moon's combines "creamy dairy from happy, healthy, hormone-free Western Washington cows with sweet and savory local ingredients. Attention is focused on seasonal fruits and herbs in combinations that are both familiar and surprising producing all kinds of flavors from childhood favorites to avant-garde adult-only fare." Familiar and surprising, indeed!

The line, while long, was well worth the wait, and gave us a chance to admire the fully sustainable decor and agonize over what flavor we wanted to fill our bellies with (how can one possibly choose when faced with such options!?). When the moment of truth finally arrived, Amanda and I sampled Honey-Lavender, Salted Caramel, Balsamic Strawberry, and Birthday Cake ice cream flavors. I chose Balsamic Strawberry, Amanda chose the Honey-Lavender...both scooped into sweet, sugary, crunchy and chewy homemade waffle cones. My ice cream was the perfect strawberry treat... sweet and fruity, but tangy and 'grown-up' with swirls of vinegary balsamic. Amanda's was herbal, summery, and floral, with a strong hints of lavender and the occasional surprise swirl of sweet, delicious honey. Both were creamy and cold and exactly what we needed in the mid-afternoon heat.


Cones in hand and ice cream dripping down our chins, we continued on our trek. From Wallingford we headed to Greenlake, where we caught a Little League game, strolled around the lake (which provided us the pleasure of duckling, turtle, and bunny sightings), and hiked up the 'big hill' through Phinney and back to Ballard. Hopefully our trails will lead us back to Molly Moon's in the near future, where our new favorites and unknown temptations await.

Thank you for a delicious Memorial weekend, Molly Moon!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My Signature Sundae

Amanda and I always get a good laugh out of people who claim to have a "signature dish." Especially when said signature dish is something simple and, quite frankly, ordinary... ie, a recent favorite quote "7-layer bean dip is my signature dish." Either that individual is at every party and potluck I've ever been to, or 7-layer dip is everyone's signature dish.

In the spirit of making fun of myself, I recently created an ice cream sundae that was basic and simple but so damned good I deemed it my 'signature sundae.' To follow Evan's Thai Steak Salad birthday dinner, I made a tropical sundae full of absolute awesomeness. "Happy Birthday Evan, I'm going to eat all of the dessert I made you!" It was that good. I licked my bowl and his bowl clean.


The sundae was simple, quick, and easy. I piled the bowl high with vanilla ice cream, mango petals (I used an ice cream scoop on the mango, creating petal-like slices), Amanda's Coconut Dulce de Leche, chopped macadamia nuts, flaked coconut, and... the big finish... lime zest! So easy, so quick, so effing delicious. I wish i was eating it right this moment. Who knew my 'signature dish' would be an every-day ice cream sundae!? Maybe I'll start making 7-layer bean dips...

Amanda's Coconut Dulce de Leche

Whisk together in heavy large skillet over medium heat :
1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
3/4ths cup brown sugar
1/4th teaspoon salt

Heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and boil until thick and creamy, stirring occasionally, (about 10-15 minutes).

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Meal Fit for a King

For Evan's birthday, I wanted to make him something that we both would enjoy...meaning it had to have meat, preferably of the steak variety (for Evan), and veggies, preferably of the fresh variety (for me). I had been perusing Thai Steak Salad recipes on the ol' web for quite some time, and decided that would be the perfect meal for Evan's birthday, fit for a king. Not to mention, we had just returned from cheesy, saucy Mexico and I was yearning for a little variety in my diet, a lot of green-food on my plate.

After looking at a few recipes, I had a general idea of what needed to go into a Thai Steak Salad to make it a Thai Steak Salad, and went off to create my own version... off to Uwajimaya! For under $5 I was able to get a huge bunch of fresh basil, Kaffir lime leaves, and fresh mint. What a steal! I was super stoked about the lime leaves, as I had seen them in recipes before and couldn't wait to give them a try. While most of the recipes I looked at called for fish sauce, I decided to forego the briny brew and make it work without. And work did it ever!

The flavors of the fresh herbs (basil, lime leaves, cilantro, and mint) melded together so perfectly and intensely that they totally made the dish. I'm in love with lime leaves. Evan, of course, loved the steak. Such a fun dish to create, and a delicious way to celebrate Evan's birthday. We both licked our plates clean and wished we had room for more... a meal truly fit for the King of Thailand... or just for a couple of hungry kids in Seattle. Delish.




Thai Steak Salad

Step 1:
Marinate flank steak in teriyaki sauce overnight

Step 2: whisk together:
1 spoonful brown sugar
1/4th cup soy sauce
Juice of 1 large lime
1 shallot- diced
1 hot Thai pepper – sliced in half and deseeded (or diced finely if you like it hot)- I removed pepper after sauce sat for about 30 min
Dash of black pepper

Step 3: put in a big bowl:
1 red bell pepper: julienned thin- 2 inch long pieces
1 carrot: peeled and julienned thin- 2 inch long pieces
1 medium cucumber: peeled and sliced thin
½ small head of green cabbage, sliced thin
Fresh basil- about 10-15 leaves torn into pieces
Fresh mint- about ½ cup- chopped/torn into pieces
Kaffir lime leaves- about 5 leaves, sliced VERY thin
Cilantro- ½ cup- chopped
Pour sauce (from step 2) in bowl with veggies

Step 4:
Pile spring greens mix on each plate

Step 5:
Broil steak- about 5-7 min/side
Let sit for 5ish minutes before slicing- then thinly slice across the grain

Step 6:
Pour sauce off veggies- strain into small bowl or cup (do not discard)
Add dash more soy, spoonful more brown sugar
Dash of hot sauce (sriracha)
Whisk together

Step 7:
Split veggie mix evenly on top of salad
Arrange steak slices on top
Sprinkle with crushed peanuts, sliced/chopped green onion, and drizzle with sauce

An Offer he Couldn't Refuse

Evan’s been wanting Chipotle lately, and I promised I would go with him (he gets great joy out of watching me eat his favorite foods…which include Chipotle and McDonalds). He took my promise to heart, and wanted to go last night. Don’t get me wrong… I like the occasional burrito-the-size-of-a-two-year-old-child, but on this particular night, after a really good run earlier in the day, I was not jazzed up about getting a week’s worth of caloric intake in one meal. Up against a solid pinky-promise and Evan’s angry protests, I had to think fast to get out of this mess. I made him an offer he could not refuse.

If not Chipotle…then how about Chipotle Chicken Soup!? He bit, hook, line, and sinker! My chipotle soup has become one of Evan’s favorites, next to his mom’s Southwest Tortilla. However, before you go chalking this one up to simply another bowl of chicken tortilla soup, please note- this is no ordinary tortilla soup. My Chipotle Chicken Soup ain’t your mama’s tortilla soup… it’s actually my mama’s! Mel’s been cooking this one up for years, and I’ve never had anything like it. Unlike traditional tortilla soups, this isn’t tomato based, but is more like a spicy, south-of-the-border take on chicken noodle…sans noodles. The beauty of this soup is how simple the preparation is, and how bold the flavors are. A bowl of Chipotle Chicken Soup is the surest way to forget about the gloom of the rainiest Seattle day, and feel the warmth of sunny hot Mexico. We were instantly transported back to Cabo with the first bite! Now…where are 2-for-1 margaritas that we had in Cabo?

Mel’s Chicken Tortilla Soup

Sauté 1-2 cubed chicken breasts, set aside. Heat oil in large pot, enough to cover bottom. Add 1 chopped onion, 1 large chopped carrot, and 3-4 cloves of chopped garlic to the hot pot. Douse liberally with thyme and marjoram. Salt and pepper to taste. When carrots and onions are tender, add chicken, 1 can garbanzo beans, 1-2 tablespoons of sauce from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo (and additional chopped chipotles from the can if you like it hot), and as much chicken broth as desired (adding rice is also optional). Bring to a boil and let simmer until deliciousness ensues. Garnish with tortilla strips (prepared in oven, I like to use both corn and flour), avocado, sour cream, lime wedges, cilantro, cheese (I used grated jack last night, but cojita would probably be fanstatic), and additional chopped chipotle peppers and sauce. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Taginery

For Christmas last year, I got Amanda a Tagine, a tagine cookbook, couscous, and preserved lemons. The tagine, a Moroccan cooking vessel, is one bad-ass, must-have kitchen accessory! Not only does it just look awesome, but it works like a charm... in the oven and on the stove top!

Upon return to Seattle from Christmas in Lyle, we quickly got to work creating delicious dishes, named after their cooking vessel...tagines! The flavor sensation that ensued was unbelievable. Our first chicken tagine, served over buttery lemon couscous, included dates, orange flower water, and almonds, among other fantastic ingredients. The tagine was the perfect mixture of sweet and savory, with a floral aftertaste from the orange flower water.


The different flavors in the tagine melded perfectly to create an intense, completely unique dish. The chicken was tender and moist, with just the right amount of browning on the skin. Who thought chicken could taste this good!? Our second tagine (made by Amanda for a visit from Mel) was also chicken, and was filled with apricots, tomatoes, and fresh basil. This one was really spicy and savory, completely different from the first, but just as juicy and delish.


These were made a few months ago, but we'll surely be involved in some serious taginery in the near future...stay tuned! My mouth is watering just imagining what tagine recipe we'll try next!

Welcome to Loves Food, Loves to Eat!

Hi Readers and Eaters,

Welcome to Loves Food, Loves to Eat. I hope you enjoy my ramblings, recipes, and mouth-wateringly delectable pictures. You may be wondering 'why a food blog?' or simply 'wtf?'...

Well, for those of you wondering... I'm starting this blog as a way to share my thoughts and ideas and passion for all things food, and as a creative outlet during my recently acquired free time... otherwise known as unemployment. As an ex-professional writer (marketing copy, that is) I don't want the creative portion of my brain to sit unused during my job-hunt. After years of cooking and eating, rolls of food-photo-film, daily emails and conversations about menus, a few x-rated dreams about Anthony Bourdain, and two jobless weeks of watching Food Network and reading food blogs for hours, it hit me like the first time I tasted truffle oil- nearly knocking me off my feet... OF COURSE...I'll start MY OWN food blog! Alas, Loves Food, Loves to Eat was born.

As I get set up and get going, it's quite possible that my first few posts will be from meals past, but luckily I have a photographic memory of all my favorite eats... oh yeah, and actual photos.

Enjoy and happy eatings!