Monday, August 29, 2011

Rainy Day Inspiration

Hurricane Irene came and went, leaving my life virtually unaffected aside from the two days my family and I spent holed up in our 700 sq. ft. apartment in Brooklyn waiting for the end of the world. My husband went and did some last minute shopping on Friday and Saturday morning I went and did some last minute, panicked hoarding... it was interesting to see what people were buying. Cans of prepared food for the most part, Nutella, bread...mostly unhealthy non-perishables and water. I decided to buy a couple of cans of food just in case but I wasn't really prepared to lose gas or power. Denial was mostly the feeling I was entertaining, plus my husband is from Florida and he was practically born in the middle of a hurricane, so if he wasn't worried, why should I have been worried? And so, I bring you to photos of my culinary activities from the last two days:

Pulled chicken: this is so easy a monkey could do it...just saute some garlic and onion, add some dry spices (I did smoked paprika, mild chili powder, lemon powder, brown 1.5 lbs chicken breast at bottom of pot, add 8 oz chicken broth, juice from 1/2 lime and a glob of tomato paste and simmer, covered for 3 hours. Throw in some fresh cilantro if you have it, and salt to taste. Pull with a fork. You can add this to tacos, burritos, eat it alone, over rice, etc.

Pizza. DUH! I bought the dough for $5 at the local pizza place because I am intimidated by dough - it was enough for two pies. This is the one I made - topped with sauteed garlic-infused evoo (brush this on the dough), tomato sauce, sauteed red onions, roasted grape tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, mushrooms and finished with basil and more evoo. I added some sesame seeds to the crust but they got lost.

Brick chicken. It's all the rage. Instead of a roasted whole chicken the traditional way - this always tastes so dry unless you have a rotisserie handy (I don't) what you do is cut out the spine and breastbone and lay it as flat as you can, put a foil-wrapped brick on top and bake for an hour or slightly more at 350 degrees. I didn't have a brick so I used an enameled cast-iron dutch oven to press it.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Pepitas: Poor Man's Pignolis

I discovered roasted, unsalted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) one day while perusing the packaged dried fruit and nut section at Fairway in Red Hook (aka: mecca, for all things you need) and was trying to locate a bag of pine nuts, because they're fantastic in salads and pasta dishes and I love them. Why, oh why, must they be $20 a pound? I think they're cheaper at Trader Joe's but I don't have time anymore the schlep from store to store, run errands after work searching for good deals. Instead, I have become open-minded and resourceful...creative even. Their pepitas were 1/4 the price so I grabbed a 16 oz container and added it to my cart. I was very, VERY pleasantly surprised to learn that they were as tasty as pine nuts, but they add a crunch to salads that pine nuts lack. One of my fave salads involves baby arugula, shaved parmesan, tomatoes in some form and a dressing made with olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, a dash of pumpkinseed oil (if I happen to have it) and roasted, unsalted pepitas.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Maille, That's Good Dijon!

Get it?? Maille? (Pronounced "my"?) I crack myself up. I really do. *clears throat*


Maille is my fave dijon. Made in Canada for a French company,I discovered it at a Brooklyn bistro when I was eating a croque monsieur, as one does, for brunch one day. I couldn't get enough of this mustard they put on the table, cradled in its pristine, minature white ramekin. Its impossibly creamy consistency and subtle, almost horseradishy heat sent me swooning. I use it on anything that calls for mustard: bratwurst, grilled chicken, fried chicken, sandwiches, many things. Give this Maille a whirlsky and you'll see! (Dang, I miss Mad Men.)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Smoky, Spicy Cornmeal-Crusted Catfish

Hello, kids! Long time, no blog, eh!? Wanna hear my excuse??? Well, I had a baby. Yes, that's right, I created a human life, with my body. And, yes, he's gorgeous and wonderful. But enough about me...let's get to the food...

I've been making this dish for some time now, using different flaky white-fleshed fish. Basa fillet, tilapia, etc. but this is the first time I've made it with catfish only because the tilapia at the nearby Key Food was due to expire tomorrow. Well, lo and behold, apparently I should have been making catfish the whole time I've been making this fish dish. I'm an idiot. So much time wasted. Life could have been so much more...very. It was the best I'd ever made. The fish was succulent, moist and delish. The crust crisp, smoky and a word: nommeh.

Here's what I do:
Beat one egg, add herbs and spices (I use garlic powder, salt (kosher or fleur de sel), pepper, cayenne, chipotle powder, paprika, thyme and chili powder.)
Then I mix in a deep plate, 1/2 cup cornmeal with the same herbs and spices, plus parsley flakes. I find that seasoning the egg and the dry batter layers the flavor, so it comes out extra-spicy and smoky, without having to use a lot of salt. Dip the fish in the egg first, then allow excess to drip off, then press in the dry batter mix, covering each side of the fish.
In my cast-iron skillet, I mix 1 tbsp light olive oil (not EVOO because it tends to burn/smoke even on medium heat - just keep a small bottle of Goya or another cheapo brand handy for frying) and 2-3 tbsp canola oil. Heat is on medium and panfry til golden and crisp, about 5-8 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the fish. Cornmeal is high in carbs so you don't need carbs alongside it, so I made a salad and some steamed spinach. Red Devil hot sauce is your friend. The tang works amazingly well with the spicy of the fish. Do your mouth a favor if you don't already keep that in your fridge.