July 22, 2011

Plums in the Icebox

If anyone is still reading here, I'd like to invite you over to my new food blog at Plums in the Icebox. It's just getting started, but should be pretty similar to MFE in terms of writing-related coverage and quick, easy recipes. Check it out!

May 15, 2011

The Future of Master of Fine Eats

is uncertain. Robbie and I have both just finished our MFAs (woo!), and we're not sure if we're going to let the blog die or if we're going to pass it on to other students in the MFA program at NMSU. I'd like to start my own food blog, but I'm still working on what my "angle" might be.

In the meantime, we are both contributing over at Uncanny Valley's blog  and I'm also contributing at Food Lush. Thanks for reading Master of Fine Eats.

March 21, 2011

Top 10 Signs You're Becoming a Better Cook + What I Served at My Thesis Defense & recipes I want to make

Top Ten Signs You're Becoming a Better Cook, via Cheap Heathy Good:

  1. You eyeball ingredient measurements.
  2. You substitute ably and with abandon.
  3. You regularly improve on recipes written by professionals.
  4. You search for physical indications (browning, thickness, scent, etc.) that a recipe is done, rather than use times.
  5. You have an ever-expanding repertoire of dishes you know by heart, and can easily go a week without consulting a recipe.
  6. You bring lunch to work not because you want to save money or watch your waistline, but because your leftovers are fantastic.
  7. You don’t choose certain restaurant dishes because you can make it just as well – or even better – by yourself at home.
  8. Your pickiest friend will eat your food without complaint.
  9. Your foodie-est friend will eat your food with glee.
  10. Your parents entrust you with Thanksgiving.
According to this, I think I am definitely on my way to becoming an actual good cook. I almost always eyeball ingredients, I substitute all the time, and I think I improve written recipes pretty regularly, too. How about you?

Here are a few recipes I'm hoping to make over spring break, which is all this week:

Potato and Artichoke Tortilla
Miso Soup with Poached Egg
Lime Soda Hangover Cure
Yogurt Cake

I served coffee, banana bread and fruit salad at my thesis defense last Thursday. This banana bread recipe was recommended to me by a fellow MFA student and it was delicious. I substituted applesauce for the oil, and the cake was incredibly moist, even after I left it out all day and overnight after my defense (it was St. Patrick's Day! I was celebrating passing my defense...)

March 15, 2011

Sorry About The Silence

here on Master of Fine Eats.

Both of us are defending our theses in the next few days, so things should pick up after that. Have any  suggestions for awesome, incredibly complicated and time-consuming recipes I can look forward to making over spring break next week? I want to spend some time in the kitchen! Let me know.

February 28, 2011

Simple & Light Sunday Soup

Yesterday afternoon, I was a bit hungover and still full from a big brunch of migas at The Shed. It was a surprisingly cold and really windy day (hello, beginning of the windy season in the desert!) and I was tired and just wanted to make a quick, kind of soothing dinner. I also wanted something light and healthy-tasting, so I threw together this easy Asian-inspired soup in about 20 minutes and it came out really well. It has just a few ingredients, but it's fairly flavorful due to the pepper flakes and the garlic.

lame cellphone pic
Soothing Spinach, Leek & Tofu Soup
hands on time 20 minutes
total time: 15-20 minutes

1 leek (or onion)
couple of handfuls of fresh spinach, torn
1 block of extra firm tofu, pressed
4 cups broth
1 good, heaping tbsp of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1 or 2 tsps of soy sauce
sprinkle of powdered ginger (optional)
couple sprinkles of red pepper flakes
salt to taste
pepper to taste
green onions as garnish (optional)

1. Press the entire block of tofu between two heavy plates for a half an hour or so.
2. Chop the white and light green part of the leek into rounds; discard dark green portion.
3. Combine oil, garlic and leeks in a medium-sized pot; saute until leeks are soft, about 5 minutes or so.
4. When the leeks are soft, add in the spinach and stir to coat the leaves with oil. Cook until spinach leaves are just wilted.
5. Add in broth, pepper flakes and ginger; cook on low medium heat for about 10 minutes.
6. Taste; if it seems underwhelming, add in some soy sauce for a bit more flavor.
7. Chop pressed tofu into small squares and add to the mixture, cook for another 5 or so minutes.
8. Add more of the pepper flakes, ginger, soy sauce, salt and pepper, to your liking. The flavor should be noticeable, but still pretty mild.

Feel free to make this spicy if you like spicy; I always feel like eating spicy food helps me get rid of all of the toxins I take in during a night of drinking, so I made mine really spicy last night.

This would also be good with onions, bok choy, swiss chard, or any other combination of oniony-type vegetables and greens. If you don't like tofu, you could easily substitute in rice or quinoa, but I like the texture and added protein of the tofu here. I'd steer clear of noodles for this soup, as the whole point of it is that it's really light: pasta adds some some bulk that is kind of the antithesis of this soup.

What do you like to eat for a hangover? I used to swear by greasy stuff like burgers and fries, but now I feel like lighter stuff makes me feel better faster. Plus, soup is hydrating!

February 12, 2011

Goose Egg

I bought a goose egg and some mushrooms at the farmer's market today.  There's not a lot of produce there during the winter, but I managed to get some exciting stuff.  I've never eaten a goose egg, so I'm looking forward to it.
Getting back from AWP has been a huge drag on cooking but was a boost to the reading and writing life.  I also met some cool people.  Allyson Boggess writes about writing and cooking and life.  It's a nice little blog.  Carina Finn poems about poems and fashion.  It's a strange little voice that sounds nice.
Pictures of the omelet I make of the goose egg when I make the omelet of the goose egg.

February 8, 2011

Dill Dip & AWP

I've just returned from a fun but completely exhausting weekend in Washington DC for the AWP conference. It wasn't as cold as I anticipated, thankfully (I'm a complete wuss about cold after living in Southern NM for two years), I went to some interesting panels and talked my face off at the bookfair, on behalf of the NMSU MFA program and also on behalf of Carrie Murphy, poet.

Happily, the friends I stayed with are foodies who welcomed me with a spaghetti dinner, gave me German chocolate every night and sent me off to the conference in the morning after a cup of Persian jasmine tea sweetened with saffron-infused rock candy. Yup, saffron-infused rock candy. They also took me here for gluten-free pizza and beer, as well as here for Ethiopian food (see picture below).

In other words, I ate well in DC, except for the piece of so-so pizza I scarfed down under an awning in the rain before a 3 pm panel.

On a somewhat unrelated note, here's a quick recipe I made for a friend's birthday party right before I left for the conference.  I probably should have posted this in conjunction with the Super Bowl, as it is a terrific appetizer for any kind of party. This dip is a classic party recipe for me; it was served at every gathering I can ever remember my family hosting while I was growing up. The Beau Monde seasoning is my mom's special ingredient, which elevates this version of dill dip far above any other I've had. It's really good and really simple to make. Everyone loves it!

Dill Dip 
(makes enough to serve as appetizer for a small party)
hands on time: less than 10 minutes
total time: less than 10 minutes

1 small jar of mayonnaise
1 medium tub of sour cream
dill weed
Beau Monde Seasoning

January 31, 2011

Evan Lavender-Smith, Guacamole, and Avatar

Evan Lavender-Smith is a good writer, and a good guacamole maker.  Carrie told me about how good Evan's guacamole is, so I asked him for the recipe and he was gracious enough to do that and let me take a look at his new book, Avatar.

The guacamole is pretty easy recipe, especially since avocados are in season right now (30¢ a pop at my local grocery).

4-5 avocados cut in small cubes
.5 onion diced
3 roma tomatoes seeded and diced
1 bunch of cilantro chopped
juice from .5 lime
kosher salt to taste

Mix ingredients to coat veggies with avocados.

This is a simple easy recipe (took me all of 5 minutes to make), and if you want to spice it up, add some black pepper, and chop a couple of jalapeƱos into it.

Evan Lavender-Smith's second book, Avatar, isn't as simple as his recipe, but just as good.  The book has gotten some really great reviews so far and I can only agree (here and here).  The book is one long unbroken thought of a person floating through space.  The style reminds me of a cross between Gertrude Stein and Wittgenstein.  The narrator struggles with existence, from the obvious loneliness of space, the loss of tears, hair under eyelids, even language itself is a struggle.  Avatar  is a book about friendship, it's a book about language, it's a book about memory, and a book about life and death.  Every page of Avatar feels like a funeral, a birth, a wedding, and divorce.  I can only agree with Blake Butler: "Lavender-Smith's Avatar at once makes me want to kill myself, and to live."  

This is one of my favorite sections of the book:

the great act of abandonment committed against me by my tears my great old friends gone and my questions my positively hopeless questions had during this period become my only friends my very best friends following the disappearance of my tears following their abandonment of me following my ducts going dry and my inability to cry myself more friends to cry myself more tears I had known my positively hopeless questions as questions for so long and to suddenly accept them as positively hopeless statements was extremely difficult very painful at first as I mourned as I grieved the loss of their questioning nature as I mourned the loss of my old friends I say of my questions I think to say of my questions they were good friends they were good companions
 Avatar comes out on tomorrow from Six Gallery Press (get it from Amazon and SPD).

January 26, 2011

Gouda Variations

I love cheese.  If I could be an expert on anything, it would be cheese.  I bought some really expensive cheese about two weeks ago and it was soooo worth it.  I decided when I bought it that I would use it for as many different things as possible.  Inspired by a soup I ate at Upstream Brewery, I went with some smoked gouda that was about $7 for four ounces.  I made a fancy grilled cheese, a veggie burger with cheese, potato soup, and some green chile smother which I used for a burrito and for enchiladas.  Here are the pics and if you want more detailed recipes, just ask me in the comments and I'll make a post about the individual item.
Grilled cheese with roma tomatoes, onions and smoked gouda on Texas toast

January 23, 2011

Props to Rachael Ray's Assistant: Stuffed Tomatoes With Eggs Baked-In

A few weeks ago I happened to be thumbing through the February issue of Every Day With Rachael Ray. This is a rarity. I highly dislike Rachael Ray (I find her obnoxiously chipper, and I can't stand her made-up food lingo. EVOO? No.), but I will read anything when I'm bored, and I was bored. I came across a recipe featuring two of my favorite foods, eggs and tomatoes, and begrudgingly decided to give it a try because it looked so easy and so good.

It's an awesome recipe, but I don't like Rachael Ray any more than I did before I made it. I mean, she doesn't actually develop every single recipe that goes into her magazine, right? The chances that she wrote this recipe herself are pretty slim, I think. So I'd like to give some props to the assistant, editor, test kitchen worker or sous chef that came up with this meal, because it's awesome. And easy. And has two of my favorite foods in it! Also, mushrooms, which I usually dislike but really like in this recipe, so whoever concocted this deserves double props, actually.

January 19, 2011

Guest Post on Cheap Healthy Good!

I just wanted to mention that I did a guest post over at Cheap Healthy Good! As you might be able to tell from previous posts, CHG is one of my all-time favorite food blogs and I was so happy and honored that Kris chose to feature my recipe.

Check out my cheap, healthy and good Sauteed Shrimp and Asparagus with Sesame Seeds over at CHG. It's really easy, low-calorie, and perfect for a weeknight. If you try it, let me know what you think!

January 17, 2011

Mexican Pizza

When most people think of "mexican pizza" they think of hard things with refried beans on them from Taco Bell.  However delicious those are, I don't think they are particularly pizza-like.  While I was being lazy last semester, making a lot of tostadas, I stumbled upon a truly mexican pizza.

What you'll need:

Large Burrito Tortillas (the bigger the better)
Salsa (the hotter the better)
Fresh Mozzarella or Asadero Cheese
Assortment of Herbs (arugula, cilantro, etc; most groceries sell an "herb mix" which has all kinds of delicious herbs and greens all mixed up)
Any other topping you want (crumbled chorizo???)
Garlic Salt
Black Pepper

To begin you'll need to prep some stuff.  Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees, chop your selected herbs, and thinly slice your cheese.  Depending on the type of tortillas you got and the type of cooking surface your using, you might want to pre-cook the tortillas a little bit so that the sauce doesn't turn your pizza into a soggy mess.  If your using a pizza stone you probably won't need to.  After all your prep stuffs are done, add approximately 1/4 cup of salsa to the center of your tortilla and spread it to the edges.  Place your sliced cheese evenly around the tortilla.  Sprinkle with garlic salt and black pepper and bake until the cheese is bubbly.

When removed, add the herbs, slice your pizza, and serve.

You can also add tons of extra greens and cheese and instead of slicing, fold the pizza in half and eat it like a quesadilla.

You can also make this a desert pizza by substituting the salsa for butter and honey and the herbs for pears (keeping a little arugula for color).

January 12, 2011

Black Eyed Peas

It's like a tradition or something right?  Well I know I'm late, but I just ate my black eyed peas.  I was on the road New Year's Day and have traveled a bit since.

Here is my recipe (sans bacon):

1 small onion, sliced
1 can of black eyed peas
1 spoonful of Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce
2 spoonfuls of salsa
1/2 can of water
salt and pepper to taste

cheese and arugula for garnish/awesomeness

Brown the onions in a skillet with a little butter or oil then add the can of peas, water included.  Add all other ingredients and let it simmer until most of the water is gone.

Yeah that was tough.  Happy New Year everyone.

January 5, 2011

Chicken & Vegetables in Foil Packets

shiny vegetables and garlicky raw chicken! yay!

This is one of my favorite recipes to make, mainly because it's easy and healthy, but also because anyone I have ever made it for has absolutely loved it. The chicken is incredibly tender and moist, the vegetables are tasty and well-steamed, and the whole thing takes less than an hour. It's a perfect weeknight dinner.

I made it just a few days ago when I was still in Baltimore, so the recipe below is designed to serve four people (one packet per person). The great thing about cooking chicken and vegetables in foil packets, however, is that it is easily customizable to the number of people you want to feed.  I've made this with all sorts of different vegetable combinations (you don't have to limit yourself to the vegetables I've used) and it would also be delicious made on the grill in the summer. I served this with quinoa on the side, but you could easily use rice or couscous, too. The food tends to be really juicy when it comes out of the packet, so having something on the side to catch all the flavor enhances the dinner as a whole, I think.

I really approximated the amounts I used in this recipe, so if you're the kind of person who wants exact measurements, this may not be the one for you. I find that this recipe lends itself to a bit of experimentation, so try different amounts of seasoning, oil, or flavor and see what works.  When I've made chicken in foil packets in the past, I've marinated the chicken in about 3/4 of a cup of Italian salad dressing, which also works well.

Chicken & Vegetables in Foil Packets
total time: 1 hourish but can be more, depending on how long you want to marinate the chicken
total hands on time: 10ish minutes

4 chicken breasts
4 large (about 2 feet long) pieces of aluminum foil
1 container of grape or cherry tomatoes
3 shallots or 1 onion, sliced
2-3 small red potatoes, diced
2 cups of snap peas
1 leek, sliced
1 lemon, quartered
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
seasoning mix
salt and pepper to taste

For marinade:
olive oil
seasoning mix
lemon juice

1. Marinate chicken for at least one hour in your chosen marinade. For this recipe, I rubbed the four chicken breasts in salt, pepper and garlic, then marinated them in olive oil mixed with rosemary seasoning and a splash of lemon juice. The marinade shouldn't completely cover the chicken, but you can flip the pieces from time to time so everything gets flavored.

2. Preheat oven to 450.

3. Prepare vegetables by slicing, dicing, and chopping. Combine in one bowl, add a few glugs of olive oil, and a few tsps of balsamic vinegar. Mix to coat. Add in salt, pepper, and the seasoning mix of your choice; mix and make sure all of the vegetables are well-coated and well-seasoned.

4. Place one chicken breast in each length of foil. Cover chicken with 1/4 of vegetable mixture, letting the vegetable mixture spill out onto the foil. Squeeze one quarter of lemon on top of chicken and vegetables, then place on top to bake inside the packet.

5. Fold the packet over itself (as seen). You should have a large square with the food in the middle, but with plenty of room on all sides. Fold the edges of each packet carefully to create a tight seal on each edge.

6. Place packets in oven and bake for 30-35 minutes. Be careful when taking out of the oven. To open to packet, simply cut a slit with a knife or take apart one of the sealed edges.

7. Pour contents of packet onto a plate (take out the lemon, of course) and eat!

January 3, 2011

Food Groups

Hello everyone and sorry for not posting in FOREVER.  During the highest food intake period of the year I've been silent and for that I'm quite sorry.  I've really only cooked like five things aside from soup from a can in the past three months because of my laziness and my complete absorption in my thesis and applying for phd programs.  I did take pictures of the food, but most of it was so unappetizing that I didn't even bother posting because of ugly pictures.  The three things I cooked were beans and rice, chocolate raspberry cake, tostadas, and potato tacos.  They were all really tasty but looked like poop.

Of all the food I made last semester, the chocolate cake was the best tasting by far.  It was basically just a boxed sheet cake with fresh raspberries that I put on top about half way through the cooking process.  Then instead of waiting till it cooled, I put melted icing on top of it right after I pulled it out of the oven.  That's to save time and to make the cake more gooey.  It was basically like a browny.  I'm not sure, but I think that any fresh fruit would taste good on top of a cake.  I'll do more experimenting and take better pictures next time.

Funny stuff, after the jump...


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