Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Leftover Harissa Chicken still made with love

OK, I lied. I didn't really make anything for dinner last night, but we were having leftovers from our fabulous Father's Day Feast.

After I found this recipe for Goat Cheese Pudding, I just had to host even though I knew Mom probably would hate everything that crossed her plate. Which is why she cooks on Mother's Day. Trust me, it's really the best gift we could give her.

Actually, I think she might have liked the Harissa Chicken with Green-Chile-and-Tomato Salad that is shown above, even though the weather was too crappy for me to grill the chicken, and we all know how much Mom prefers a little charcoal on her meat.

I made this the right way a couple of weeks ago when we had some friends over, and although it was more flavorful on the grill, cooking it in the oven at 375 degrees for 20 minutes definitely kept it more moist. I suppose it's always good to have options!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Smokehouse salami trumps dinner

I swear I will be making something adequate for dinner tonight. But yum!

Actually, I do have a good excuse. We bought this salami at Olson's Meat and Smokehouse in Enumclaw last weekend on our way home from a hiking excursion at Mount Rainier. And you know, salami goes bad and everything ...

But yum!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Asian-style Trout (the whole thing)

On the rare occasion that Mom gets trout, she usually breads it and pan fries it, giving me the fleshy filet and saving the delicacy (the head) for herself. But we had that the last time I visited so she decided to try something new, this time using her traditional method of cooking almost every other white fish: microwaving.

If you read my post about her Barbecue Ribs, you know I'm no fan of the microwave, so I'll just use that as my excuse for never making this staple of hers. But when and if I make her Asian fish recipe, I can guarantee you I'll be using the oven instead of the microwave -- thereby ruining her recipe. Sigh. But until I ruin it, here's her method.

Asian-style Fish
1 lb. white-fleshed fish such as trout, tilapia or cod
2 T. sesame oil
2 T. soy sauce
1/2 to 1 t. sugar (optional)
1-inch piece ginger, cut in thin strips
1 c. leeks, green parts only (or green onions)

Place fish in a microwave-safe dish. Drizzle sesame oil and soy sauce on top. Sprinkle ginger and leeks over fish. Cook in microwave for 2-3 minutes. Check, stir and continue cooking until done, about 2-3 more minutes.

(This dish is great with shitake mushrooms, too. Just slice them up and add them with the ginger and green onions in the beginning.)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Spinach-Bacon Quiche from a vegetarian cookbook

I'm always wary about putting something as beautiful as the above quiche in the oven, because I know it's simply not going to look as good when I take it out. The crust never stays quite fluted enough, and the brown is never quite perfectly even enough.

But after we dig in, it really doesn't matter anymore.

Although once upon a time I used "The Ananda Cookbook" I permanently borrowed from Mom to make the vegetarian foods that fill its pages, those days are gone and now it folds directly to the quiche recipes that I have adapted into omnivore dishes. Honestly, the Mushroom-Spinach Quiche that I base the following recipe on is good ... but it's so much better with bacon in it!

Actually, I think my first adaptation of the recipe was with leftover Easter ham, which was probably why Bryan was mad I wasn't making a ham this year. But bacon does the trick as well.

Spinach-Bacon Quiche
Single pie crust
6 strips bacon, chopped
1 c. yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry with cheesecloth
4 eggs
1-3/4 c. heavy whipping cream or half-and-half*
1-1/2 c. grated Swiss cheese (or gruyere)
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. cayenne
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
3 T. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Paprika for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and prepare pie crust, which means, if you're using a store-bought crust, remove it from the fridge so it has some time to come to room temperature, then set it in a pie pan and make it look pretty.

Cook the bacon in a skillet until crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside.

Cook onion in bacon grease until soft, about 4 minutes, then add garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Add spinach and stir until it's heated, about 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, lightly beat the eggs in a medium-sized bowl, then add the cream or half-and-half (*I actually used fat-free half-and-half, which as far as I'm concerned is the most fabulous invention ever), Swiss cheese and spices. Add the spinach mixture and bacon, stir well, then pour gently into the pie crust.

Sprinkle the Parmesan and paprika evenly over the quiche, then bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.


To use ham instead, you can use 4 T. butter to saute the onions in, then add about 1 c. of chopped ham to the egg and cream mixture in the end.

If you'd like to make Mushroom-Spinach Quiche, instead of bacon and a yellow onion, you'll want to start by sauteing in 4 T. butter the garlic along with 5 chopped green onions and 3/4 lb. sliced mushrooms for about 5 minutes before adding the spinach.

And you can even make Mushroom-Spinach-Bacon Quiche: Use 4 strips bacon, and substitute the yellow onion with 5 green onions.

Happy adapting!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What makes a cheeseball even better? Bacon!

I can deal with the reality that Amy Sedaris will probably never invite me to one of her legendary parties, but in the meantime I just want to cook like her.

And after finding four cheeseball recipes in her book, "I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence," I decided it was time to hold a cheeseball smackdown to see if I could give people another reason to invite me to parties than the infamous Garlic Cheeseball.

It appears you now have four reasons to invite me over.

Basically, what it really comes down to is that cream cheese is delicious, which makes cheeseballs irresistible because of the added goodness. Unfortunately for all of our waistlines, the added goodness in the new recipes comes largely in the form of butter and mayonnaise, but who's really counting calories in a cheeseball anyway?

The first of the three to disappear was The Heavyset Cheese Ball, shown above on the left. I cheated a little bit on this one, because it was supposed to be coated with whole, roasted almonds. But it looked like way too much work and I figured we were getting more than enough added calories from the 1/2 c. of mayonnaise and the five strips of bacon.

And although the Heavyset - which also had chives in it so it kind of tasted like a baked potato cheeseball - was the clear winner among the majority, the remaining two cheeseballs had some serious fans: Dan, a pepper-eating machine, couldn't get enough of Cluster Maven's Pepper Mill Cheese Ball, middle, which is coated in 2 T. of coarsely ground pepper, and meanwhile taste-tester foodies Chelsea and Justin were eating Amy Sedaris' Li'l Smokey Cheeseball by the spoonful. Sorry there were no leftovers, Chelsea!

Next time, I'm going to have a hard time picking which cheeseball to make, and there's still one more recipe from the book I haven't tried. At least from now on it'll be a surprise!