Thursday, May 26, 2011

Soup's On!

I’m still hyped up about my 2-year-blogiversary, especially with some recent shout-outs from friends. It’s always amazing to hear that people other than my mom, sister, and boyfriend read this. When my favorite blogs have a new post with a great story, a fabulous, stomach-growl-inducing picture, or a must-try recipe, I feel like I received a little gift in the mail, and I can’t wait to open it. I hope that my blog has the same effect, and inspires people to get in the kitchen.



The other day, my friend Jen (Amanda’s realtor), said “Is it me, or are your photos on your blog getting better and better?” So I looked through old posts, back to the beginning, and it’s true, they really are better. Part of it, of course, is the camera. But it’s also the angles, the styling, the lighting, and just a sense of knowing what I, as a viewer, would want to see. And, well, practice makes perfect.



Take, for instance, this soup. It was the first recipe I posted on Loves Food, Loves to Eat. I actually spent a long time setting up that photo. I was at Evan’s old apartment (because I needed to job hunt—er, start a blog—and didn’t have internet at my own place). I had to bring everything to his apartment to make that soup—even the pots and pans. I was so excited about having a recipe to share, that I wrote the post before I even made the soup. Then I took about 20 pictures before I would let anyone eat. Evan’s used to this by now, but back in the beginning, he didn’t quite know how to deal. Now he knows not to come to the table until about 15 minutes after hearing “dinner’s ready,” because really, it’s not ready ‘til I get my shot. That picture I posted was the best out of the 20 or so I took that day. While the soup—still the most requested recipe in my household—hasn’t changed much (I did start adding chopped cabbage as a garnish…delish!), my photos of it certainly have. Wouldn’t you agree?



Thanks so much for your continued support and words of encouragement—your comments, shout-outs, and photos of food that I inspired you to make (!) constantly inspire me to take better photos and make more delicious food! Keep it up, friends, and I will too! Love you all!


Mel’s Chicken Tortilla Soup


Olive oil
2 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon marjoram
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
Salt & pepper
1 can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
Chipotle Peppers in Adobo
4-6 cups chicken broth
Tortillas (flour or corn), sliced thinly in strips and baked for fried until crispy
Avocado
Sour Cream
Lime Wedges
Cilantro
Cheese (grated jack or cotija)

Heat a large stockpot over medium. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil, and chicken. Cook until chicken is cooked through--remove from pot and set aside. Add more oil if necessary, and add onion and carrot to pot. Cook until soft and just starting to brown, and add in thyme, marjoram, and garlic. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook another minute or so, until fragrant (but make sure to not burn garlic). Add chicken, chickpeas, and 1-2 tablespoons of adobo sauce from chipotle peppers (and additional chopped chipotles from the can if you like it hot). Add broth, and bring to a boil. Turn to low and let simmer until ready to serve.

Garnish with tortilla strips, avocado, sour cream, lime wedges, cilantro, cheese, and additional chopped chipotle peppers and sauce. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Happy Birthday Blog!

It’s Loves Food, Loves to Eat’s second birthday! This ol’ gal is a toddler now—two years old (but hopefully a lot less terrible with each new post).

A lot can happen in two years, and with this little site, I was able to document little changes and big changes, and everything else in between. Since starting Loves Food, Loves to Eat, I ran my first half marathon, went to Europe for the first time, roasted my first chicken, travelled to paradise, and… by far the craziest thing to happen in the last two years… I became obsessed with eggs!

You may remember a little post I did in June of ’09, about the dish that made me like eggs. At that point, nearly two years ago (just after starting this blog), that was pretty much the only egg dish I could swallow. Now, two years and 155 posts later, I cook, take pictures of, eat, and write about eggs more than almost any other food.

So, on her 2nd birthday, here's to Loves Food, Loves to Eat, and her lovely muse: the incredible, edible egg. Move over birthday cake!




Sunday, May 15, 2011

So Fresh, Totally Radish


The sun is shining at least once a week, I’m going on a swimsuit vacation in a month, I have a few big runs coming up this summer, and in September, I need to fit in a bridesmaid dress for my friend Tasha’s wedding. Therefore, I’m trying to snack healthier.

Of course, for me, that still includes chewy, carbie bread, and creamy, fattening butter. Baguette slices with crunchy radishes, thinly spread butter, and a sprinkle of sea salt are at least healthier than baguette slices overloaded with brie and cured meat, and definitely healthier than chips with salsa, sour cream, and guac, right? Right? Well, I’ll keep telling myself that, so that I can feel good about eating one of my favorite Sunday afternoon snacks.


Healthy or not, at least it’s local, with bread from the bakery at the end of my block, and spicy, fresh radishes from the Farmer’s Market. Pair that with flaky maldon sea salt and good quality butter—you could even make your own butter—and you’re gonna feel pretty good about yourself—swimsuit and all.  


Monday, May 9, 2011

Frijoles + Huevos = True Love

Remember those black beans you made for Cinco de Mayo? The ones that are leftover in your fridge, or perhaps, the ones that you froze for later? Well, they remember you. And they want you to heat ‘em up, shower them with a hearty spoonful of crumbled cotija cheese, and top them with a slightly runny, crispy-around-the-edges fried egg. Trust me, I know these things.


I had a pot of black beans leftover from the amazing rockfish taco dinner I made over the weekend, and when I woke up, I heard them quietly whispering to me from the fridge. By noon, the whisper had gotten a little louder, and by 1pm, those black beans were practically shouting in my ear, begging to be topped with a fried egg. I obliged…no one wants to deal with an angry pot of beans.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cinco de Mayo Fiesta Menu

I’ve been working SO much lately. Like… 11 hours a day. Combined with my hour round-trip bus commute, I’m away from home for 12-plus hours each day. I'm not complaining... hey, I'm trying to get a promotion here (hint hint, if my boss is reading this...) but it is a bit exhausting. It also doesn’t leave lots of time for things like training for an upcoming half marathon, doing laundry and dishes, or cooking. That’s why tonight, for Cinco de Mayo, I’m going to celebrate by having someone else cook for me, serve me a heavily spiked margarita, and even clean-up after me when I’m done. As much as I LOVE cooking and entertaining, I’m going out to eat tonight, and not spending one moment in front of the stove or sink.


I feel a little guilty, for not making you fabulous Mexican-inspired spread, so I’ve put together this Cinco de Mayo menu, inspired by my recipes, and those of other great food bloggers. Start with tortilla chips and pico de gallo. For the main course, set up a taco bar with fresh corn tortillas, limes, thinly sliced radishes, cilantro, pork carnitas flavored with tangy tamarind paste, a big pot of black beans, and spicy sweet potatoes. End the meal with creamy, cool caramel flan. Enjoy, and have a Pacifico for me (or, hell, make it a shot of Cuervo).

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Make Baklava

I always thought baklava was one of those really laborious, easy to mess up kind of desserts—the kind best left for the professionals. But it’s not…it’s easy. A little too easy, considering the amount of butter and sugar between those flaky layers. But trust me, it’s a breeze. You should make it.


It’s practically impossible to mess up. Even if you could only find weird organic phyllo dough that practically crumbled when you tried to pull apart the layers, and you had to piece them together, using heaps of melted butter as glue. Even if you didn’t follow the instructions that said to toast the two kinds of nuts on separate baking sheets, and even then, you only toasted them for a minute, rather than five. Even if you didn’t make the syrup the night before as instructed, and you ended up making only two layers, instead of three. Even if you threw it together thirty minutes before your guests arrived, and you had to hop in the shower immediately after popping it in the oven. Even then, it would still turn out beautifully, with sticky, sweet layers of nuts, sandwiched between flaky, buttery phyllo dough.


My friend Dave said my baklava was better than the baklava at the Greek restaurant. He didn’t say which Greek restaurant, but I’m going to take the compliment and not ask questions.

Pistachio Walnut Baklava

Syrup
2 cups sugar
2/3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup water

Bring all ingredients to boil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium and boil about 15 minutes. Cool completely.

Baklava
2.5-3 cups walnuts
2.5-3 cups natural raw unsalted pistachios
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
20 17x12-inch sheets thrawed phyllo pastry
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
Additional honey

Preheat to 350°F, and toast nuts for 5 minutes. Cool, and transfer to food processor. Add 3/4 cup sugar, lemon peel, and ground cinnamon. Blend until nuts are ground to medium- fine texture. Brush 13x9x2-inch baking pan with some melted butter. Cover bottom of pan with 1 layer of phyllo sheet (will either be 1 half sheet, or several pieced together) and brush with melted butter. Continue, making 10 layers total. Spread 1/2 of nut mixture over phyllo. Repeat—10 more phyllo sheets with butter between layers, topped with remaining nuts. Top with 5 more phyllo sheets. Using sharp knife, cut through top phyllo layers lengthwise (do not cut through to bottom of pan) to make 4 strips, then cut phyllo crosswise to make 16 rectangles, and cut each in half, to make triangles. Bake until phyllo is golden, about 45 minutes. Spoon cold syrup over hot baklava, then drizzle honey to cover entire top layer. Cool and serve.