Must Be Summer(ish): Whole Fish, Bloody Mary and Thai Peanut Noodles

To celebrate that our grass grew in and we haven’t killed a single plant (yet), we marked Sunday’s sunny afternoon with bloody marys and an Asian whole fish feast. Here are the recipes:

Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary: The making of

I’ve only recently learned to love a Bloody Mary. Maybe it’s a grown up drink and a sign I am getting old. Or maybe it’s just that the Bloody Mary has been remade by the foodie crowd and no longer feature slimy V8. This recipe comes compliments of my friend from Brookyln, who, during a recent visit, made sure to stock our fridge with all the ingredients.

Ingredients:

Tomato juice
vodka
worcestershire sauce
lemons
horseradish
salt and pepper
tabasco (or another hot sauce).

Making the bloody mary

Fill a pint glass with ice and add 1-2 shots of vodka. Then, fill most of the way up with tomato juice. Add two or three good shakes worcestershire sauce, the juice of one lemon, salt and pepper (celery salt if you have it, or add celery seed in addition to the salt) and several shakes of hot sauce. Top that off with about a quarter to half a teaspoon of horseradish.

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It’s Asparagus Season!

Salmon, asparagus and lemon pasta

Delicious-ness in action.

Early spring is asparagus season. One never to pass up a bargain, I currently have two bundles of $1.99 asparagus in my refrigerator.

I’m a fan of just coating asparagus in olive oil, sprinkling it with some salt and sticking it under the broiler for a few minutes.  But if you want an actual recipe for your asparagus, here is my personal favorite.

It’s easy, delicious and stolen from Jamie Oliver. However, I have taken the liberty of de-English-ing this by removing any quirky phrases and  mention of the metric system.

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How to Get Kicked Off of Top Chef

Someone will have to "pack their knives and go."

I’m watching Top Chef again. Just like last time, I’m moaning that every season is the same. Apparently, the chef-testants don’t watch the previous seasons, because this year — just like all the rest — several have broken the show’s cardinal rules.

In honor of the show I love to hate, here are the top things I’ve learned to never do on Top Chef.

On Top Chef, never, ever:

10. Volunteer to be front of the house during the restaurant wars episode. Yeah, the other cheftestants told you that you are a combination of charming and efficient — making you perfect for the job. That’s because they are smarter than you and know this role is the kiss of death.

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Joining the Composting Cult

One day, my compost bin will look like this one. I can only hope.

This week, as part of some New Years burst of ambition, my husband and I finally bought a composting bin.  For the six months we’ve lived in our house, composting has been one of those “we’ll get to it” activities.

It all seemed so mysterious — not the actual composting, but securing a container to put it in. Whenever I Googled “compost bins,” the Internet returned instructions on how to DYI one from scraps of wood or items scavenged from your neighbors’ trash. Seeing this, I filed the whole idea away in my “for later” brain storage area.  I am someone who hasn’t picked up a hammer since my ninth grade Habitat for Humanity camp. And we’ll see if that house is still standing.

So, after a brief trip to Lowe’s, I am now the proud owner of this.  Yes, like the reviews say, it is a piece of poorly crafted plastic.  Now, I am officially a compost-er.

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Holiday House Party — The Menu

Christmas Story family eats Chinese on Christmas

There were many kitchen mishaps, but at least we didn't have to call out for Chinese.

There’s something about Christmas that makes me want to overextend myself. So, when planning my party last weekend, I tried very, very hard not to end up with dough on my hands, guests walking in the door and something burning away in the oven.  I tried to keep it simple.

Still the party went off like a Top Chef competition. No, I didn’t slice my finger open with a razor sharp German-made chef’s knife. But in my frantic attempt to cook for 20 in only 3 hours (after having my kitchen renovations finished the day before), I did dump a tray full of rendered bacon fat on the floor, knock over a glass of wine and preheat the oven with a plastic baggy of screws inside (note to self: after buying appliances on Craigslist, be sure look inside the over before using it) which promptly melted to the bottom and started smoking.

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Spaetzle: Carb of the Year

spaetzle

Spaetzle: Deliciously unhealthy German comfort food. Yum!

Time for another recipe! It’s December; it’s time for magazines, newspapers and blogs everywhere to release their “best of” lists. Well, I’ve already tackled kale, my favorite healthy food for the year. Now, I’m going to tell you about my favorite deliciously unhealthy carb.

Spaeztle are little German-style noodles made out of a eggy dough. Size-wise, they are in between gnocchi and couscous. Something about the noodle’s petite size make them even more delicious than regular pasta. Maybe it’s having more surface area to cover with butter and Parmesan cheese. Just a guess!

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My new obsession with… um, kale

bag of kaleAs it grows cooler out, I like my food cooked. Salads and brown bag lunches are for the hot months of summer. When I’m driving home from work and it’s already dark, I’m craving soup, stew, big ol’ bowls of noodles.

Combining my love for comfort food with my need to not gain 20 pounds in the next four months is an amazing feat. Meet kale. Yeah, I thought it was gross, tough and bitter two weeks ago. But I have learned my lesson! I love kale now.

I now am the proud owner of an industrial sized bag. Because if the world ends and I am trapped in my basement hiding from the zombie appocolypse, I will need my dark green veggies. That and kale cooks down, a lot Here’s the secret to kale love.

How to make kale:

I learned this at a dinner party from a chef in Brookyln. Honey, if you are wondering, is the secret ingrediant here.

  1. 1.  Heat olive oil in a frying pan. Actually, I like to cook this in my wok so I can make bigger batches.
  2. 2. Add chopped garlic and a shake or two of red pepper flakes. Saute.
  3. 3. Add two squirts of honey (hopefully your honey comes in a bear squeezy bottle like mine does)
  4. 4. Make sure the pan is really hot. Put handful of kale in pan, and pour about 1/4 of a cup of chicken broth over the kale. The broth should steam immediately upon hitting the hot pan.
  5. When the kale start to wilt,  add more kale and chicken broth as needed. When you have the desired amount, cook for 3-5 minutes.
  6. Eat.