Tag Archives: spicy

Nostalgia Beat: Tuna

15 Sep

Tuna is a crazy overfished…fish.  It’s enormous.  Way bigger than the little tin can or convenient foil pouch you scratch the flakes out of, this fish has dominated American life from cradle to grave.  As a kid, I loved eating the sandwiches on hikes with my Dad and at home for a change from PB&J (a life partner) with my mom.  High school provided the warm cat-food smelling tuna casserole that I actually adored and devoured.  At college, Middle Ground Café made a zesty refresher course of traditional mayo/celery/chicken of the sea by replacing mayo for vinaigrette and opting for ginger instead of celery.

Coming back from the whirlwind of graduation, I found myself sleeping for a week, watching Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion and listening to 90’s songs.  But I also was eating a lot of tuna.  Was it the protein I was so lacking at school for 4 years or a shameless wallowing in nostalgia for the good ol’ days?  Frankly I don’t care, and I can’t stop eating the stuff.  It’s become my on-the-go snack on my road trips to Chicago so I don’t have to kill myself with McDonald’s or the incredulity of the KFC Express/Pizza Hut.  I love it plain from the pouch with a fork, in salads, in lettuce wraps, on English Muffins, in a bowl with Miracle Whip and a hefty portion of mace or on a sandwich with my own arugula/radishes/blueberries and cheese.

Whichever way you cut it, the world and I are going to have a hard time if this great fish disappears and yellowfin isn’t going to be the answer.

Chicken Skin

21 Jan

Chicken skin is a beautiful, beautiful thing. It starts off slimy and with goosebumps, can turn chewy if sauteed a bit and then golden brown crunchy. To utilize about half a dozen chicken breasts (obviously not skinless), I decided to make a curry the other night. I removed the skin and left it to use later on in the curry. Grab a wok, toss in chopped up chicken breast to brown up with garlic, shallots and onion. Over top pour coconut milk and peas (even if they start off frozen they’ll thaw and cook perfectly within the heat of the curry), then as much mace, turmeric, yellow curry, cayenne pepper as you want. I would have loved to throw in some cherry peppers too but my mother’s palate is a little more sensitive to heat than mine. Cherry peppers are possibly the cutest hot pepper I’ve run into and they have a much sweeter and slightly less spicy quality than jalapenos. They would also give the curry another vibrant color to play off the yellow of the curry powder and the bright green orbs of peas.

While the curry is simmering and melding the spices, start some white rice in another pan. Then while both of those are going, get a small sauté pan, some butter, white wine vinegar and the chicken skins from before. Melt a good amount of butter in the pan, then toss in the skins and pour maybe 3 tablespoons of vinegar over them. The vinegar gives the skin a nice tanginess that plays nicely with the spice and sweetness of the curry. Once the skins shrivel up a bit and brown, drain the liquid from the pan and dump the skins on a cutting board and slice length wise. Then serve the rice in each diner’s dish (preferably a pasta bowl), spoon curry over top and then sprinkle the skin over top. You get a combination of textures: chewy, crunchy, tender and the snap of the peas make this a more interesting variation on the traditional curry.

I felt like it Chili

20 Jan

If there’s one thing I’m head over heals for, it’s chili and cornbread.  I’m a good sharer of food and drink unless it’s taken from me without permission and I’ve been known to get viciously protective of my cornbread and chili.  My last few days at home I found myself overcome by the craving for the aforementioned foods.

Chili:

Can of whole peeled tomatoes

Large bunch of chopped fresh cilantro

Ground beef or “chili meat” as my grocery store labeled it, second time ’round I used bison to AWESOME effect – highly recommended

As much of the following spices as you want = mace, Cajun Seasoning (whatever that is, I just found it in the spice cabinet and seemed like a good idea), cayenne pepper, black pepper

Lemon juice

2 cans of kidney beans and 1 of black beans

3 cloves of garlic and 1 large shallot, maybe one large yellow or red onion

Start it like you start any stew by cooking down the garlic, shallots and onion then browning the meat over it, then layering all the other goodies and let simmer for an hour.  The cilantro should go in at the last moment!  Another golden rule: it’s always the better the next day.

Now for the cornbread.

1 cup flour + 1 cup yellow cornmeal

1/4 cup honey

2 large eggs

1 cup heavy whipping cream (or milk if you prefer)

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 cup melted butter

Combine wet ingredients with dry, preheat oven to 400ºF.  I baked mine in a muffin tin for 15 minutes and they came out beautifully.  A nice slab of Kerry Gold doesn’t hurt them either.  In any case, it’s now my favorite chili and favorite cornbread so I guess take my word for it that these dishes are delicious, because they are.

Caradosso

8 Jan

I don’t actually remember making this but lucky my friend remembered for me and there’s some horrendous picture of me during the cooking process.  It was a deadly combination of Inauguration Night and our friend’s birthday in Milan.  We stumbled home to Via Caradosso 7 and needed some food.  Spaghetti, olive oil, sauteed brussels sprouts, cayenne and black pepper all tossed together.  It’s spicy, simple, has some veggie in it and enough carbs to make you sober up.  And it’s pretty!

I revisited the Caradosso concoction last night for dinner and discovered how pretty brussels sprout stems are and their insides look kind of like brains.

IdiditIdiditIdidit!!!

27 Dec

Every year, the day after Christmas is my immediate family’s opportunity to have our extended family over to our house for Boxing Day.  People get to unload their leftovers and bring horrendous white elephant gifts and I get to make yummy hors d’oeuvres to round out the table.  My creations included crostini with a peppered salami/spiced green olive tapenade I blended up in the Cuisinart and a slice of creamy Danish havarti.  Popped them into the oven for 15 minutes @ 200º to melt the cheese.  If you don’t have a baguette or even an oven, repeat the recipe but with crackers (I prefer Bremner) and a microwave.

Pancakes slathered in my homemade jam and topped with homemade whip cream.  They were so cute and little you could eat ’em like cookies.

I only made a few of these next ones and they disappeared in maybe 15 minutes.  Rolled out some philo pastry dough very thin, then used a snowflake cookie cutter to make some shapes, placed a few bleu cheese crumbles in the middle, a half of grape tomato on top, sprinkled with black pepper and cayenne pepper.  Into the oven @ 350º for 10-12 minutes.  Cayenne pepper doesn’t faze me anymore so I totally forgot that others in my family might still have taste buds, so basically tonight I made my aunt cry and slightly choke.  But they were REALLY yummy.

One of the perks of being the cook is you are allowed to demand drinks.  So while I juggled the pancakes and the snowflakes, my brother poured me a snifter full of La Trappe Quadrupel from De Koningshoeven.  It has a light cognac colored pour with very little head.  The aroma is lovely: a very refined banana scent that isn’t artificial but mellow. The flavor is a lighter version of the aroma and boozier and smooth but not slick over the palate.  As I quenched my thirst and danced around the kitchen to some motown tunes amongst the swirl of culinary activity, I started delighting from the trickle of yummy sounds coming from the dining room.  I already knew the pancakes were good but I hadn’t really known how the crostini or the snowflakes would come off.  My excitement about personal creations increases exponentially when I get feedback from people other than myself.  My dancing got a little funkier after the positive reviews and was accompanied by a little chant of “I did it! I did it! I did it!”.  Honestly, there is nothing in this world that makes me happier than feeding people and giving them yummy things to drink.  I leave the calming effects of speeding in a happy-making category unto themselves.

Bomb Lasagna

11 Dec

Mozzerella is a great thing — it makes pizza happy and caprese a perfect snack — but I feel it’s a misplaced addition to lasagna.  I’ve never been a fan of lasagna because I never found the combination of mundane ragu and a relatively flavourless cheese that thrilling.  So, over this Thanksgiving break I gave it a try with very slight variations.  For my ragu I started off with browning up some garlic, shallots and chopped andouille sausage in a little olive oil with some splashes of Beckwith cider and a can of whole, peeled tomatoes.  The cider gave it a mild sweetness to counter the spicy sausage, yielding a frankly delightful meat sauce.

A casserole dish was buttered up, layered with the kind of lasagna you don’t have to boil before you bake, then the ragu, ricotta blended with a little heavy whipping cream/cayenne pepper and then slices of creamy havarti on top and halved grape tomatoes.  The havarti was neither too sharp nor too mild and worked it’s quasi-spiciness with the andouille ragu.  The most common reaction from friends was, “this is a BOMB-ASS lasagna!” and then some fighting over bites.  I suppose it was a success.

p.s. it went really nicely with Alesmith’s Grand Cru

Tacos and Cerveza

9 Nov

It’s a common mix and for good reason.  The refreshing, not too filling beer refreshes a spicy palate after a faceful of tacos and hot sauce, while the light carbonation brings about those satisfying belches.

Ambar CaesarAugusta (CaesarAvgvsta)

I had the pleasure of visiting my big brother this weekend in Williamsburg, and the little love bug brought me back a 21st birthday presie from Spain in the form of a bottle of Ambar CaesarAugusta (CaesarAvgvsta).  The bottle is awesome — reminds me of the squat Chimay Blanche bottle.  Pours a light yellow with a 2 finger bright-white head. Faintly citric notes in the aroma. Flavor is about the same as the aroma with more lemony taste and a bright mouthfeel.  The other Spanish beer I’ve had is the macro, Estrella Damm Inedit and I hated it, so this was a lovely change.  Spain still could use a bit of work on their micro industry and take a chapter from the Italian craft-beer movement, France too!

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