Aug 2 2011

hiyayakko (japanese cold tofu)

Hiyayakko (Japanese Cold Tofu)

Well, it’s August now and it’s gonna be a hot one. I grew up in Washington, D.C., a city where all the locals know enough to flee for as much of August as they can to avoid the sickeningly hot, sticky days (and nights). Did you know that D.C. was actually built on a swamp? Most tourists don’t seem to know, because they all flock to the city in August, the hottest, stickiest most miserable month you could spend there. You’d think that growing up with such humid summers that I would be used to humidity, but I’m not. I hate it. I’d take a 105 degree day in the desert over 95 degrees in 90% humidity. For just that reason, growing up I spent my summers at an amazing wilderness expedition camp based out of Thoreau, NM.

Bonito Flakes

Bonito Flakes, Soy Sauce, Scallions, Grated Ginger

Now that I’m older, things are considerably more complicated. I keep hoping some grant will pop up that will pay me to go on vacation for all of August, but until then, I have bills to pay, which means a job to work. To make matters worse, I’ve been working from home since my knee surgery because I can sit more comfortably and don’t have to walk as much. The problem is that, unlike the office, we don’t have air conditioning. This is inevitably the point when Joseph would interject to say we do have AC, so I will clarify. We have one window unit that we have literally used twice all summer (as in two consecutive nights during that heat wave a couple weeks ago) because it’s so expensive to run. Sigh. How I miss you, AC.

Hiyayakko (Japanese Cold Tofu)

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Jun 12 2011

caramelized onion jam with dark rum

Caramelized Onion Jam with Dark Rum

In addition to the two cakes I made for the bridal shower, I also made an onion jam. Actually, no, Joseph made it and I stood around and tried to be useful. When I did step in to help, my reward was a splatter of oil and butter jumping straight from the pan to my hand. It was all in the name of some really yummy jam, so it was totally worth it.

Onion Halves

Onion Slices

I had been craving onion jam ever since seeing an French Onion Tart on the Food Network. I love caramelized onions and Joseph is a master at making them (coming soon, some tips on caramelizing onions). With the two cakes and a punch I was also making, I took a shortcut and decided on just making onion jam and getting some bread from the local bakery. I saw a few recipes that looked good, but when I came across this recipe on Cook’s Illustrated, the recipe browsing came to a screeching halt. Fresh thyme, rum, and caramelized onions? No, there was no need to keep looking.

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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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Feb 6 2011

guacamole

It seems to me that almost every conversation about guacamole has at least one or two people claim that they make the best guacamole ever.  I mean, the thing about guacamole is that it is always pretty darn delicious.  But, not to toot my own horn or anything, I’ve had several people try my guacamole and proclaim that even though they thought they made a pretty mean guacamole, mine was even better than theirs.  Ok, I know, I am tooting my own horn.

avocado, lime, jalapeno, cilantro, tomatoes

de-seeding tomatoes

I think the thing that makes my guacamole so good is that I try it out as I go along and add more of things as I see fit. I had never, ever measured quantities until last night when I made this.  But the thing is that avocados seem to have this neutralizing power.  You can put a whole lot of jalapeño in there and barely get any spice.  So I will often try the guacamole and decide that it needs more garlic, more cilantro, more jalapeño, and more salt.  It always needs more salt than I think it will and the heat level of peppers can really vary.  So I add more stuff in and then try it again.  I know, it’s lot to ask to keep trying the guacamole.  But it’s in your best interest in the long run, so soldier up and grab a chip (or two, or three, or four, or…).

guacamole ingredients

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