May 31 2011

oven baked garlic fries with garlic aioli

Oven Baked Fries with Garlic Aioli

Whew, this has been one crazy long weekend! When we weren’t busy seeing friends and family, running errands (including multiple visits to grocery and liquor stores), we were in the kitchen cooking. Trust me, you’ve got lots to look forward to in the coming days!

Joseph e-mailed me at work earlier last week telling me that he wanted to make some oven baked fries and a ligher, healthier aioli. I wasn’t going to argue with him. And let me tell you, he was a man obsessed. He picked up some potatoes before he picked me up at work on Friday and was ready to go home and make them right then and there as an appetizer to the pizza that we were going to make. These may be healthier fries and our homemade pizza may be healthier than a the pizza joint down the street, but I don’t know if the two of these things together is so healthy. I told Joseph he was welcome to make the fries, but I was heading to the back porch with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. And you know what? He decided to wait another day and joined me on the porch. And then another day became another day, and then another day, but today Joseph finally got to make his fries. And I have to admit, they were definitely worth obsessing over!

perfect fries courtesy of the mandoline

When we did finally get to the fries, I suggested that Joseph try the nice OXO mandoline that we got for Christmas but still hadn’t used. He sort of shrugged it off, but then came back to look at it and then decided against it once again. I told him he could go ahead and cut up all the potatoes by hand if he wanted, but what did he have against the mandoline?  Turns out he just didn’t want to learn how to assemble and use it. He later admitted that the 5 minutes that it took him to figure it out was definitely worth the 10 minutes it saved not having to cut up the potatoes by hand. The mandoline is frankly nothing short of magical. It comes with a little handle thing to spear your food so you don’t have to hold it as you glide it over the razor sharp edge (I rather like having all my fingers) and just a few swipes and your potato goes from spud to beautiful pile of perfectly shaped fries! I’m just sad we’re just now using it. It was the winner in America’s Test Kitchen’s mandoline equipment test (and doesn’t cost $200 like the other one they loved), so we should have realized how easy it would be to use and enjoy.

Oven Fries before going in the oven

Oven baked fries are often kind of soggy and less fun than fries from the deep frier. Joseph went to Cook’s Illustrated to find out how to make the perfect oven baked fries. (I know, here I go again. I promise, I don’t get any kickbacks from Cook’s Illustrated or America’s Test Kitchen, I’m just obsessed with them because they are right about everything). First, soaking the potatoes in hot water before cooking them removes some of the starch. Next, Cook’s Illustrated recommends letting the fries cook covered in the oven for five minutes so they can steam, and then letting them cook 20 – 35 minutes uncovered in the oven till they’re crispy and golden. Continue reading

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May 30 2011

bourbon rosemary pecans

Heading to a Memorial Day barbecue and want to bring your hosts something to go with the beer? And maybe you have some bourbon left over from your Kentucky Derby party?These salty sweet nuts are a delicious treat that they will love and you can throw them together pretty quickly.

I first made rosemary pecans a few weeks ago for a dinner party.  I had already made lemon crinkles and the lemon coconut cookies, but I felt like I should contribute a little more.  I got the recipe from Real Simple and despite keeping a careful eye on the the nuts when they were in the oven, I still managed to overcook them a little bit. I doctored the nuts a bit to try to rectify the slight bitter aftertaste, but wasn’t all that happy with them. Then I stumbled on this recipe for bourbon rosemary nuts and I could not wait to make them. I stopped by the store on the way home to get some more pecans and then went straight to the kitchen with bourbon in hand.

The thing is, I don’t know if they were just being polite, but everyone said they liked the slightly burnt pecans that I took to the dinner. But when I made these, all I could think was that if they liked the other ones, they were going love these. The ironic thing about these nuts is that they don’t look like there’s anything special about them – they look just like plain old toasted pecans. But the beautiful thing about these nuts is that they are brined in a bourbon/brown sugar/rosemary/salt mixture. It’s ingenious. Need I say more? There’s no coating or spice rub or anything like that, they just soak in the wonderful brine and then pop in the oven for a quick toast. The beauty of it is that the flavor soaks all the way through the nuts so they’re super flavorful and there’s no coating that falls off or rubs off on your fingers. Continue reading

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May 28 2011

adobo baby back ribs

Adobo Baby Back Ribs with Apples and Jalapenos

It’s somewhat ironic that my husband, who is Filipino, loves to cook so much – especially Asian food – and yet he never cooks Filipino food! My mother-in-law makes amazing Filipino food, including pancit, chicken and pork adobo, sinigang, and my absolute favorite, lumpia. Joseph says that he doesn’t cook Filipino food because his mom’s food is so good, it’s just easier to go home for good traditional food.

That changed recently when we pulled Memories of Philippine Kitchens off the bookshelf. It’s a beautiful coffee table style cookbook, filled with mouthwatering photos, touching narratives from Philippine kitchens, and a cultural history of Philippine foods. It’s unfortunate that Filipino food isn’t more popular in the United States, because it’s good! Frankly, I’d take lumpia over  a Chinese spring roll any day and my mother-in-law’s version of longaniza (basically chicken or pork sausage in a delicious tangy barbecue-like sauce) is so good I dream about it. It saddens me that most of my friends are completely unfamiliar with these foods because they’re really missing out. You should have seen my parents, sister, and brother-in-law flocking to the kitchen when we brought them food from Joseph’s mom at Christmas.

apple

I love Thai food, but I would gladly sacrifice one of the hundreds of Thai restaurants in Boston for just one Filipino restaurant. Unless you live in California, you’re likely going to have to head to your kitchen and pull out some pots and pans to get some good Philippine food.  There’s only one Filipino restaurant in all of New England, and while it’s good, it doesn’t come close to my mother-in-law’s food (and no, I’m not just trying to kiss up). Brooklyn has an outstanding Filipino restaurant, Purple Yam, which is owned by the authors of Memories of Philippine Kitchens, but it’s a little far from Boston to go just for dinner.

Adobo Baby Back Ribs

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May 25 2011

lemon crinkle cookies and lemon coconut cookies

Lemon Crinkle Cookie and Lemon Coconut Cookie

I’ve been posting a lot of lime treats lately (like the key lime coconut cake and the cornmeal lime cookies), but the truth is, my love of tart desserts began with lemon and not lime, so I figured it was about time I posted something lemony.  These cookies have been making their way around pinterest and when I first saw them, I knew I had to make them.

Zesting Lemon

One of the reviews on Tasty Kitchen said that they used coconut instead of powdered sugar and I was intrigued by the idea. I was having dinner at a friends’ house and it seemed like the perfect time to test it out. I made the dough and coated half in powdered sugar as the recipe calls for, and the rest in sweetened flaked coconut. We had an amazing dinner with a ton of food, but I insisted that everyone to at least try both variations.

Lemon Crinkle Dough Ball

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