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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