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A Recipe From My Boyfriend, Jamie Oliver.

I’m baaaaaaaaaack!

Pardon the long absence. Jamie and I have been just SO busy jetting around the world, saving kids from shitty school lunches and such that I just haven’t had time to do a review…. or a recipe.

How’s my boyfriend, Jamie Oliver you ask? Well… he’s super hot of course, cool and funny. We’ve been jetting here and there over the world.. interview, cooking demo’s.. etc. The media keep wanting to interview me but I just tell them no – I just can’t possibly stomach the paparazzi. They make up lies! They fabricate stories! They spread un-truths!

**blink** **blink**

Not like me at all.

Siiiiiiiiiiiiiigh ok ok ok.

So Jamie Oliver is NOT my boyfriend.. and I haven’t been jetting all around the world ok?? I’ve been at home, enjoying the quality half hour or so we spend together. Well, maybe not TOGETHER, together… and maybe it’s just me WISHING Jamie was my boyfriend. Can’t blame a girl, can ya?  I mean, look at him! ‘Nuff said.

Ok.. soooo… my REAL boyfriend, being all sweet and understanding, fulfilled my wishes and bought me a couple of Jamie’s cookbooks. Can I just say I was thrilled???

I looked and looked over those cookbooks, trying to decide which one of his recipes I’d attempt first.  Because I couldn’t really decide… I did the “open the book and make what you see”… method. (Remember this method? It was the same method I used choosing the recipe for dauphine potatoes from Anthony Burdain, here. )

Ok.. so the book is this one.

cookbook

and the recipe is:

Grilled Filet Steak with the Creamiest White Beans and Leeks
(*linked at the bottom)

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I was a little let down by the Recipe Choosing Gods because truth be told… I’m not a fan of lima beans. They’re “ok”, but really, they rank pretty low on my favorites list. But… choose me this recipe it did, so cook it I must. (Like that resolve?? lol)

Here we go.

So you slice up 4 leeks, nice and thin. My question that the recipe didn’t state was HOW MUCH of the leek did I cut? The whole white and green part? Because I have to say… the upper portion of the green parts on those leeks were like barn boards. TOUUUUGGGHH!!! I was going to call my brother who is a chef and ask him as he would most likely know. However.. I thought I should follow the recipe as it states, and figure this out on my own. That way, any mistakes I make, I can report to you – my illustrious, amazing readers – and you’d just think I’m amazing for saving you making the same mistakes! I’m so cool sometimes, it’s hard for me to stand it.

Leeks

Ok.. so I didn’t slice the woody ends. ONLY to the portion where it started to go thick and tough. After chopping, sweat them in a pan with garlic and a “knob” ( “Knob”.. funny word for a measurement. “knob” is probably a tablespoon or something – I’m guessing. Who knows? I wouldn’t mistake it for a stick of butter or anything………………… orrrr would I????? ).

Anyway, after they’re nice and soft, add a cup of white wine (any that you like to drink is fine.). Leave enough wine for you to enjoy after with the meal. Be it a glass, or the whole damn bottle.

Hey… I don’t judge.

Turn the heat up and bring this to a boil. At this point, the lima beans can join the party. Please be sure to rinse them from the can because you don’t want any mushy grossness from the bottom of the can being a party crasher.

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Add them to pot with a “splash” of water (I added about a 1/3 cup of water). Turn the heat to simmer and let it do its thing for about 5 – 10 minutes.

mixture

In the meantime…….

Season your steaks. I used just top sirloin cuts. Nothing fancy. Place them in a screaming hot pan and fry those lovelies on both sides for a few minutes a piece. You don’t want to over cook them. Take them out and let them rest.

Back to your beans, add the crème fraiche, give it a stir. The recipe says to add a glug of olive oil but I left it out, as I didn’t think it was needed really, but that’s my thing. If you want to , go ahead and glug away!

Slice your steaks into thick strips. Divide the bean mixture between the plates and add the steak strips on top.  Here’s my final masterpiece:

dish

My review? Considering I’m not crazy about recipes with beans and leeks, this was quite good. The leeks were sweet and tender, and the beans were nice and soft and creamy. Surprisingly, they really showed off the flavor of the wine. Combined with the PERFECTLY cooked steak (If I say so myself!) I thought overall, the dish was quite nice. Easy to make and VERY filling. Who thought??

Did it blow me away? No. Would I make it again? Maybe….. and only if I knew the people I was making it for liked leeks and lima beans. If you met people like that, make this for them!

You’ll be a rock star :)

If you decide to try the dish, please let me know what you think of my boyfriend’s recipe.

Ok, ok… my PRETEND boyfriend!

Don’t judge.

Just go make the recipe. ;)

Recipe:

http://www.fabulousfoods.com/recipes/jamie-oliver-s-grilled-steak-with-white-beans-and-leeks

A Chocolately, Pumpkiny TWO Ingredient HUG

Who doesn’t like two ingredients recipes? Seriously, I’m always curious about these ideas. I read the “recipe” and ask myself………. “really?”

Like, “Could it BE just that easy??”

Ok, I didn’t actually ask myself that. I just thought “Hey, seems like a cool idea that I need to try”.

I’ve tried other minimal recipe desserts before like THIS one. Oh, and  remember the CHEATER COBBLER? That one as was a two ingredient recipe as well. Both of those recipes turned out pretty damn well, I have to say. ESPECIALLY the Cherry Chocolate Cake. Oh lawdy, was it good!

So in the spirit everything pumpkin this season, I bring you another two ingredient, Thanksgiving/fall/pumpkin themed type recipe that seriously makes you want break out the sweat pants and fuzzy slippers, and get ready for the coming hibernation.

Alright! First up, here’s your ingredients!

One Chocolate Brownie Mix (any brand you prefer)
One 15 ounce can of Canned Pumpkin (or Pumpkin Pie Filling)

That’s it! I know, it’s easy isn’t it? I love easy!
(don’t go there.)

Moving on, here’s the photo of the ingredients:

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*NOTE: In the photo above, you’ll see that I bought the 540ml (18 ounce) can because that’s all they had. I weighed 15 ounces and it came to roughly 3/4 of the can.  Please keep this in mind when making your own, and adjust according to the can you buy.

Here’s how you do it!!

1. Preheat your oven to 350!

2. Empty the box of brownie mix and about 15 ounces of the pumpkin pie filling into the cake mix and mix together.

I know, pretty difficult so far, right?

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3. Now, you don’t need it, but I happen to seriously love anything pumpkin spice.

So you can add up to a teaspoon of pumpkin spice to the mix to “make it sing”

( I DESPISE that term, but it’s really the only word I thought appropriate to explain what I”m trying get across).

So I added 1/2 a teaspoon.

Twice. :)

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4. Next, pour the mixture into a parchment lined 9 x 9 or 8 x 8 pan. No parchment?

No problem!

Grease the hell outta the pan, and you’ll be fine.

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So the recipe that I followed which is here, calls for baking the brownies for 25-30 minutes until set. I found that I had to double that time to make it work, so you might wanna keep an eyeball  on the pan just to make sure it’s baked thoroughly. No one likes raw brownie dough…… I think anyway. Maybe it’s like a raw cookie dough concept?  Meh, not for this chick – I like my baked desserts… BAKED.

When a toothpick or knife inserted comes out clean, you’re good to go.

Let cool COMPLETELY before you decide to frost or sugar these babies.

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Ok. So let me tell you, this isn’t your typical brownie. It’s more dense, and has a soft pumpkin flavor mixed with the chocolately goodness of the brownie. Be warned though, my gorgeous reader. If you like the flavor of chocolate, this chocolate brownie with the chocolate frosting can quell any chocolate craving you might have. HOWEVER, the denseness of these brownies from the pumpkin seem to almost intensify the chocolatey taste to the point that well,… it’s teetering on craziness.

I ADORE chocolate, and ONE small brownie with the frosting was enough to lull me into sweet, dreamy chocolate land, where one might be tucked into their chocolate bed and given chocolate kisses and yummy chocolate hugs sprinkled with warm pumpkin spices.

Yes. It’s like that.

JUST like that.

Yeaaahhhh.

It honestly seemed like a good idea at the time…….

So in the whole spirit of low carbing, sometimes I get these……..um…… “brilliant” ideas. Yes my dear readers, let me introduce you to “breaded” low carb mozza sticks!!

Yummmmy!
Easy Peasy, right?
Let me show you how!!

In one container large enough to fit your average mozza stick, place a few tablespoons of almond flour.

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In another container, one beaten egg.

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In the last container, place a few tablespoons of coconut flour, and season it really, really well. I used seasoning salt, pepper, and other seasoning that suited my fancy at the time…. cuz I AM fancy.

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In a nice, super hot pan with oil (don’t let it smoke), place your “breaded” mozza stick and keep an eye on it. Keep flipping OFTEN, so it can brown nicely on all sides.

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Yep. Goooooooooood idea on paper folks.

But really?………………………..

BIG FAT FAIL.

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JUST DON’T DO IT..
Back to the drawing board.

Aunt Christine’s Household Hints! – VINEGAR!

If anyone knows me personally, (and I know those who don’t, I do believe you’re missing out..), they would most likely know who my Aunt Christine is as well. I grew up in the country, a half mile away from her, and spent hours upon hours at her house  playing with my cousins when we were kids. Now, as an adult I still adore her (possibly more than when I was a child), and as anyone who knows her can attest, she’s one of the most generous people I know.

Now keep in mind, generous comes in many different ways with her.  For instance, every time I go south to the States she comes over and gives me some “funny money” (US Dollars) that she had just “hanging around”. When she comes across a great deal somewhere, instead of buying one, she’ll buy a few and end up giving me one of whatever it is. For my last birthday, she bought me a purple wig. Yep… I don’t know why either, but she’s great that way! I mean come on, who gets a purple wig AND a helium “Happy Birthday” balloon that sings the birthday song to you whenever you punch it???? I loved it!!

Ok, so moving on. At some point a year or so ago, she came over and gave me a super cool series of small books that she bought God knows where. They are basically 3 separate books on different uses for household vinegar, baking soda, and salt. Alright, obviously these hints aren’t exactly MY AUNTIE’S HINTS as the title of this blog post suggests, because the vinegar book is actually written by Christine Halvorson (NOT my Aunt Christine) but I kinda like the idea that she gave me the books, so it seems like they came from her…. like my logic?

Here’s the vinegar book:

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The books have a bit of a retro/vintage type of look to them, and are full of super cool little “hacks” or hints, to make life easier, and cost effective.The book suggests using Heinz’s brand name vinegar, however, I’m SURE any brand name of vinegar would work if not your not feeling fancy. Just be sure it’s the 5% acidity kind.

So, I thought when times are a bit slow around here (aka, I have nothing new to post), you, my dear readers, will get a handy dandy hint or two on how to use one of these household staples in ways that you may not have ever dreamed of! Well perhaps you may have heard of a few of these, but you can always pass the info (as well as this blog post..ahem) onto someone who might not be in the know. That way, you could be the hero for the day and be a smartypants ALL AT ONCE!

Win win!

So, we shall commence the schooling with the household vinegar tips. For the most part, these tips are referencing your run of the mill, white, grocery store bought, 5% acidity vinegar. A few tips will use apple cider, but that will of course, be prefaced.

Ok. Here’s two handy hints to get us started:

For cleaning your microwave:  If you microwave is dirty and greasy with old food particles and other grossness, microwave a glass container with one cup of water, and a 1/4 cup of vinegar for about 3 to 4 minutes. After the microwave is finished, leave it there for about 10 minutes without the opening the door. Then, open the door and simply wipe clean!

Laundry: If you add 2 cups of vinegar to the rinse cycle while washing cotton or wool blankets, it will remove any soapy residue and leave the blankets smelling clean (not of vinegar), soft and fluffy!

If you have any uses for vinegar, let me know and I’ll post them here!

If you’re interested in buying these books, here’s a place you can:
http://www.amazon.com/Heinz-Distilled-Vinegar-Helpful-Household/dp/141271365X

This Happened.. with a Tomato.

TOMATO PATTIES
(pictures below)

“Tooooo many tomatoes!!!!!!!”,  said you.

Is that what you’ve been saying lately as you survey your garden? A little over zealous when you planted your little starlet seedlings, hmm? I can hear it now ” Ooohh, I’m going to can/freeze/dehydrate tons of tomatoes, and I’m gonna make stewed tomatoes, salsa, and TONS of healthy sauce!”.

I know, because I said the same thing.

While the tomato plants on my side of the world aren’t quite ruby-red globes yet, (and I can see I have a shitload coming), I know in other spots of the world they are screaming to come off the vine. What do to with all of them is what’s playing on every well-intentioned gardeners mind.

So when you’re all salsa’d out,  you can’t stand the thought of ANOTHER can of tomato sauce, and every neighbor in a mile radius of you pretends not to see you when you offer them a basket like a Price is Right model,…….. try this recipe.

Oooh I’m telling you, this recipe is fanfreakintastic! If you like the combination of bacon and tomato………. wait… what am  I saying.. “IF”???? EVERYONE likes that combo and if you don’t, well, I’m breaking up with you, because I can’t be friends with people who don’t like a bacon tomato combo, I mean come on!!!

In an effort to eat less carbs lately, (namely anything starchy and white) I skipped the BLT sandwich idea. Here’s the better plan:

A good size tomato.

Slice thickly (3 slices).

Dredge the slices first in coconut flour, then egg, then in seasoned almond flour mixed with shredded parmesan cheese. You can choose any seasoning your beautiful heart desires. I chose a bit of seasoning salt, rosemary, lemon pepper seasoning and some garlic powder.

3

Fry till golden on each side.

2

Plate.

Dollop on a bit of sour cream, bacon and then finish with chopped chives (I used dill, because I didn’t have any chives).

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Oh sweet momma. The rich, tomato-y freshness that contrasts off the salty bite of the bacon, mixed with the creaminess of the sour cream, is a combination that could make the heavens open  and harps play Queen’s “We are the champions”. … Ok, maybe not THAT song, but something just as triumphant. Seriously my lovies, this recipe is amazing.

I’ve seen a different version of this miracleness made by what has to be one of the hottest chefs in Canada. Like.. SUPER hot. If you’re thinking Chef Chuck Hughes, you’d be right. Clean the drool off your lip, I know.. I know….. he’s so sexy right?  His version was to dredge the tomato in your standard flour egg and panko mix, and instead of bacon, he used pancetta.  So yeah… pancetta, shmancetta!!! Bacon works just as well if you’re not feeling fancy.

You could serve these as the headliner on your plate with a side salad, or they can easily play co-star as the side dish. This is a fresh, cheap, SUPER TASTY way to enjoy your summer bounty.  If you brought these to a barbecue in the neighborhood, I’m pretty sure you’d be the one most talked about…………………………………….. in a good way.

What are some of the ways you’re going to use your summer tomatoes? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Welcome to the PUFFIN.

I successfully married Pork and Stove Top Stuffing into a cute little … muffin.

I know, right?

Pork – meaty, savory, porky, protein rich.
Muffin – bready, sweet, moist, and good with strong coffee.

Separate, they are wonderful. Together? Initially, a conceptually difficult union to wrap your sweet pretty head around. OK.. I’ll speak for myself. It took me a bit to wrap MY sweet head around it. I mean, come on’ – What do you call it?

A Pork Muffin?

A Porkfin?

A Puffin?

Regardless of what one might call it, – it’s strange. But hey, how can you go wrong? Pork, and stuffing. Who doesn’t like that combination, and besides, we ALLL know what strange means to me.

It mean’s I gotta try it.

Plus, they said it was easy, and I like easy.

So… without further adieu, I give you………. a porffin?

Whatever.

Here’s what you need to make this wildly creative, culinary masterpiece:

muffin2
That’s right. A muffin tin, two eggs (three, actually. I’ll explain later), ground pork, and a box of good ole’ Stove Top Stuffin’. Try and match the flavors people, k? I mean, if you get ground pork.. use Stove Top Stuffing for pork. If you get ground turkey, (which is perfectly acceptable protein choice in this situation for all you skinny-minnies), use the Stove Top for turkey.

Yessssssssssssssssss, you don’t have to point out the obvious fact that I combined ground pork and turkey Stove Top Stuffing – but ground pork was what my freezer had, and turkey Stove Top was what the store had. No big deal. I’m comfortable flying that kind of flag out there for everyone to see.

You know, the REBEL flag.

So, because I can’t just be normal and go along with direction, I like to “doctor” things up. That would the Stove Top Stuffing that I’m talking about. If you have extra “aromatics” in your fridge folks, doctor that crap up. I started sauteing celery (and lots of it because celery and I have had an intense love / love relationship for many years), and onion with a touch of garlic.

muffin3

That particular day, I decided to live on the edge and add some hot chili flakes to the party. I added about a tablespoon and half.

It turns out I’m not as edgy as I thought.

Dial down the chili flakes folks.

Learn by my mistakes. Especially if you’re not too adventurous on the whole spicy thing. Start with half a teaspoon.. you can always add more (One of Mom’s favorite expressions)

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So at this point, when the aromatics are soft, make the Stove Top Stuffing according to the box instructions. Easy Peasy right? Once that’s finished, and slightly cooled, add your pound of ground pork (or chicken, or turkey) and THREE eggs. I realize I had previously said two, and I actually did only use two, but I found the finished product SLIGHTLY crumbly, so an extra egg would hug up all those ingredients and make them stick together much better.

muffin1

When the mixture is thoroughly mixed, spoon it into your greased muffin pans. My muffin pan has muffin cups for giants so I got six from the whole lot. However, if you are of the regular human race, I can say that normal muffin pans are acceptable, if not desired over the bigger ones.

Spoon them into the tins at the fullness that you want, as they don’t puff up, obviously, like a cake muffin would.

muffin5

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. (All depending on what size of muffin tin you used. I used a longer cook time because of the muffins for Giants that I was making.) Use your logic okay? We are dealing with ground pork (or any ground meat), so it’s imperative that it’s thoroughly cooked. If in doubt, use a thermometer and cook them till you have an internal temperature of 160 degrees for pork and 165 for turkey or chicken.

FYI – At the very end of cooking time, turn on your blast broiler for a  minute or two. It creates this mildly crunchy top that is FANFRICKENSTASTIC!

I highly suggest you try that.

muffin6

These bubba’s are awesome with a side salad for a lunch, or even for a quick breakfast heated up in the microwave. Ok, listen, you can have them for ANY meal because they’re just that good. The batch I made are at the TOP of my spice tolerance so next time, I’ll go a bit kinder on the chilies. Lastly, these freeze like champions!!

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Give them a try and tell me what you think! What changes did you make to “doctor” them up?

If you thought this recipe was incredibly cool and made of awesomeness, please press the subscribe/follow button to always know what’s happening in the Forkin’ Foodie World!

My Lake Chalet

Lake Chalet
Seafood Bar and Grill
1520 Lakeside Drive
Lake Merritt, Oakland

(Guest review for Forkin’ Foodie by Chris Davis)

And good day to you fellow Foodies!!

When you watch a ton of food shows you know they’re
ALWAYS going to end up in the San Francisco Bay area at some point in time and rest assured they always miss a
few gems. Most times it’s because they stick to the pretensions of the slightly snobby places that serve vichyssoise
for $20 per bowl.

Sorry, but there’s no cold potato soup worth that much……….EVER.

Oakland gets a bad wrap with a high crime rate, terrible cops, and the Raiders. But it’s actually a nice place once you open your eyes.
And that brings us to dinner at Lake Chalet.

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Off the bat it sounds like something you’d need a three-week advance
reservation at, but alas you’d be WRONG. Nestled on the newly remodeled section of Lake Merritt
in downtown Oakland you’ll see it. Oh and regarding the MASSIVE oak tree that was blown over
in a storm a few months ago, you may look at it like an eyesore but it actually gives a little character to see
the roots, which then leads to a deeper meaning… (yeah Oakland is kinda like that).

Now onto the location – I’ve come here a few times before to hear a band play on the back deck which is right on the water. There’s
pretty sweet happy hour pricing and they carry a wide variety of booze and wines. The raw bar is stocked with some of the
freshest oysters the coast has to offer and the drinks are excellent.

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I went last night for dinner with some family and decided to get something different, right up until I saw somebody with the same thing a couple of tables away. First was the Buttermilk Calamari with an aioli and wasabi cocktail dipping sauce. I’m not a fan of wasabi so I
nudged it to the side. As a main plate I ordered the Pork Short Ribs (Secret Spice Rub, Sticky Glaze, Peanuts, Sesame Seeds), Parmesan Kennebec Fries, and a house salad. This was all was held down with a bottle of Chimay Red label ale.

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SIDENOTE: As an avid foodie and cook , it seems by what feels like divine reason, I dissect nearly everything I eat. That’s the great
part about eating out. It’s that you have a great dish, and either take it back home to re-create it, or you simply do it from
memory (when it’s JUST that good that a to-go box is not possible). So if you see me with a perplexed look on my face
just know that that’s my inner scientist look, and I’m just trying to figure out what the dish is comprised of, as to reinvent it at home.

Service here for a lightly busy Sunday evening was pretty good. The waitress was a bit flighty and I felt like she was rushing but who
knows what other tables had given her Hell before she got to us, so we were nice.

The calamari comes out and was pretty basic.
A simple buttermilk dredged selection with a dusting of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.

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After a few minutes the rest of the food came to the table and here is where I knocked them a point. In any simple situation, the salad, when ordered with a full other plate is treated as an appetizer. Therefore, when I ordered the salad, it should come out along side whatever appetizer was ordered, in this case the calamari. So as everything else is being dished out I’m bombarded with now three plates, as the fries and ribs are plated separately.

The salad is a simple mix of greens tossed in a vinaigrette, with pears and goat cheese.

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The fries were something I was slightly disappointed in, as the description indicated a Kennebec potato and turned out to be something straight out of a bag that I could have gotten at any burger joint, but the parmesan was a nice touch.

Now onto the real shining star of the night:

The Pork Spare Ribs.

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Of all the reviews I normally do it’s generally a barbecue place because it’s my main love. I ordered the starter size because I wasn’t going to sit there and go crazy on a full rack. So the three come out with a nice cilantro garnish with sesame seeds. The smell is AMAZING; it’s a spicy and sweet smell that catches you first, and then you grab one…..

I barely had two fingers on it when it just fell apart at the touch. That’s the sign of a good rib. After the first taste of the glaze I was hooked. Pull-apart-tender, with a spicy, almost Sriracha and hoisin taste  with maybe a hint of honey. These were worth the wait and something to come back for on the return.

Overall this is one of Oakland’s gems and a place that I can call a regular spot. I visit mostly in the spring and summer,
when the freshest produce and seafood is put on display and in the menu.

Happy Chowing folks!!!

Chris Davis

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