Monday, February 22, 2016

Aligot (or French Cheesy Potatoes (or How I Broke My Blender This Weekend))

Well well well.  It's my first entry of the new year and already winter in Chicago has come and gone and come back but this time with  more snow and more wind and Oprah's new commercials proclaiming her love of bread.

I haven't been able to cook anything as I have been on touring with a show for Second City Theatricals, performing in glorious gourmet havens like Findlay, Ohio (of the Dietsch Brothers Ice Cream fame) and San Diego (land of fish tacos).  The best stop so far was getting to come home to Seattle to see my family and friends and to eat as much as per diem would allow me to.  And on my final night there, we discovered an incredible new gem: Seven Beef - a Seattle Steak Shop.  They source whole, grass-fed cows from Heritage meats in Washington and use "the entire beast" on the menu.  Because I had already run out of per diem skrilla (redundant? (correct spelling of "skrilla"?)), I ordered none of the beast.  Instead I ordered the aligot.  BEST. DECISION. EVER.

Look how happy we all are! Look how empty that bowl is!  That used to be aligot!


Our patient server explained that aligot is not actually made of alligator.  And that "comte cheese" which was the only description the menu offered did not mean the cheese came free, but was a French cheese matured to perfection in the silence and darkness of special caves and when it emerges it ripens into delicate and impeccable texture.  I am pretty sure this is how Oscar Isaac was also born.
This weekend, however, allowed me time with the husband and puppy and kitchen.  And I wanted to experience the cheesy potatoey goodness all over again.

                                                                         #1: Aligot

Libation: First thing's first!  It was a belated Valentine's Day celebration so we had to break out the bubbly.  In this case, very nice pricey bubbly that Chad inherited from an overstock of booze at work.  Thanks, Writers Theatre! Veuve Clicquot Brut, or as I call it "Voo vee voo beu?" It was dry but pleasantly so.  It would go with any fine dining or probably also nachos. I don't know from expensive champagne.



Music:  Low. Cut. Connie.  We were going to their concert this weekend and wanted to rock out to it before rocking out in person.  Old school piano driven rock while still feeling funky and new? YES PLEASE.  Buy their album, "Hi Honey" immediately.


Here's my favorite of theirs. Watch it as Adam "goes full Swayze" (<-- actual lyrics).

You didn't need to see picture of me chopping up potatoes and then boiling them, did you? Good because I didn't take any.  Here is much later in the process riiight before I killed the blender.  I couldn't find the food processor.  In future, use food processor. 

Okay, we didn't have special comte Oscar Isaac cheese, but this shredded blend of Parmesan, Asiago and Fontina was on sale.


Okay, I know it doesn't look like much, but I'm telling you, there is absolutely nothing wrong with cheesy buttery mashed potatoes.  The French know what's up. Serve immediately and often.


stolen from Annies-Eats.com

Aligot (French Mashed Potatoes)

2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes (about 4-6)
1 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1-1½ cups whole milk
4 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
4 oz. Gruyere cheese, shredded
Ground black pepper


Peel, rinse, and chop the potatoes into ½-1 inch chunks.  Place the potatoes in a large saucepan or pot, and cover with water, salting lightly.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to a simmer over medium-low and cook until the potatoes are tender and easily break apart when poked with a fork, about 15-20 minutes.  Drain the potatoes and transfer to the bowl of a food processor.  Wipe out the pan for later use.

Add the butter, garlic, and salt to the potatoes in the food processor.  Pulse until the butter is melted and incorporated into the potatoes, about 10 brief pulses.  Add 1 cup of the milk through the feed tube and continue to process until the mixture is smooth and creamy, about 20 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Return the potato mixture to the now empty saucepan and set over medium heat.  Mix in the cheeses until completely melted and incorporated, stirring frequently.  The mixture will be thick and elastic.  If the mixture is too thick or difficult to stir, add the remaining ½ cup of milk a little bit at a time until the texture is loose and creamy.  Adjust seasonings as necessary with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Adventures in Cauliflower

Friends.  When you invite a Jeff-Award/Iron Bartender winning Broadway actress to your home to guest star on your food blog, there is no need to be nervous.  Jeff Award/Iron Bartender winning Broadway actresses are just like you and me.  They put on their slacks one leg at a time, they enjoy a Mariano's oyster bar, they host drag queen dinner parties at their home.  Just like you and me.

Unlike me, Miss Caroline Neff happens to be a vegetarian, so she offered to teach me how to make one of her favorite dishes (which when I make again will probably pile tons and tons of pepperoni on. And sausage. And bacon?  And bacon.)


(Admit it...I'm begging to actually creep you out, right?  It's okay. I have begun to creep myself out.  Someone take this Paint program away from me.)

#24: Cauliflower Pizza
   
Choice of libation: My thinking was you can't just serve any old drink to a Jeff-Award/Iron Bartender winning Broadway actress.  You gotta get the special stuff. So I pranced across the way to Ye Olde Mariano's, waited until the bartender in the produce section was distracted, and reached into a secret cabinet to grab the stuff they only serve at the oyster bar.  Pavao Vinho Verde, folks.  Effervescent, citrusy and goes with everything. 



Choice of Music:  Chad insisted on DJing the event so he introduced us to an awesome band called The Struts. a British rock band led by singer Luke Spiller who can be compared to Freddie Mercury and a young Tim Curry. In the best way possible. Their album, "Everybody Wants" has awesome rock anthem after awesome rock anthem. 

                                              


Okay.  So on to the cooking, shall we?



So yeah.  Grate that cauliflower.  I'm a terrible phone photographer when I am tipsy.

You didn't need a picture of someone grating garlic, but you DID need a picture of adding a crap ton of cheese to grated cauliflower.  There's a full head of minced garlic in there, too.  Yeahhh....

Form that pizza  on a baking sheet.  When Caroline did it, she made a perfect circle.  I will settle for an odd rectangle.  Because that's what they called me in high school.

Top that pizza before throwing it into the oven. 

Andie wanted to help.  She really did. 


She helped us wait for the pizza to bake by washing our faces.  But then...

Oh how festive!  It was truly flavorful and I will definitely be making this again.  But, you know, probably with 4 kinds of meat.


For your consideration: A lady cop drama unlike any you've seen before.  Stacy Fields left her desk job to step out of her father's shadow to become a hard nosed cop. Unafraid to take chances, we she often goes undercover and pose as a decoy to nab the bad guys.  The tough-but-caring working mom, Jeni Lithium was a narcotics officer before joining the homicide division.  Just because she was stuck behind a desk, doesn't mean she can't take action and kick down doors.   
Together they're LITHIUM AND FIELDSNext fall on NBC.


stolen from Caroline Neff's head

1 head cauliflower, grated (I'm sure there's a more specific measurement, but a small - medium head is usually what I use)
1 egg
1/4 cup mozzarella
Garlic garlic garlic!

Steam or microwave grated cauliflower until soft (not too soft less than 5 min in microwave). Allow it to cook and drain it as best as you can - I'll take a towel and just squeeze it to get as much moisture out as possible. Add garlic, salt, and pepper to taste, mozzarella, and egg. Mix together, and lay out on a greased (or Pam'd) baking sheet. Make it in to a pizza shape and bake at 375 for about 15-20 min (until edges begin to brown). Take out and top with whatever delicious ingredients you like, bake again until ingredients look ready. 



Saturday, October 17, 2015

"When life gives you lemons, marinate your steak in them and fry it with soy sauce." - Filipinos

You guys. I had a bad day.  I was defeated by life. So I bought some red meat, and onions and fried me up some happy.  There are definitely health benefits to steak but I wasn't thinking about being healthy that day.  I was thinking about how I wanted to eat red meat until I collapsed into a food coma and forgot about when that man on the CTA stepped on my foot and then laughed at my outfit.  Sometimes red meat is what you need.


 Exactly, Gwynnie.  Exactly.

Wait, what?

Anyway.

#23 Bistec Tagalog (Beef Steak)

Choice of libation: Vodka.  Just...vodka.

Nope.  Just vodka.

Choice of music: Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings Give the People What They Want


"Stranger to My Happiness" is one of their best songs to date.  I am forever obsessed with her. And now, so will you be.

So yeah.  Um.  Cut up marinated steak.  Fry it up.

Caramelize the onions.


Eat all of it, immediately, knowing that your entire place will smell like this meal for the next 24 hours.  And that's okay.

And now that you have the strength of an army, you are no longer defeated by life. 

stolen and adapted from my Dad's kitchen

1 lb. beef sirloin, thinly sliced
¼ cup soy sauce
3 small lemons or  calamansi
½ tsp ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large sweet onion, sliced into rings
3 tbsp cooking oil
salt to taste

Marinate beef in soy sauce, lemon (or calamansi), and ground black pepper for at least 1 hour. I always marinate overnight.

Heat the cooking oil in a pan then stir fry the onion rings until the texture becomes soft. Set aside

In the same pan where the onions were fried, fry the marinated beef (without the marinade) until color turns brown. Set aside.

(I accidentally did the beef first and then the onions because...vodka?)

Put-in the garlic then saute for a few minutes

Pour the marinade and bring to a boil.

Put in the fried beef and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add water if you need to...

Add the stir-fried onions and some salt to taste.

Serve hot over rice.







Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Bacon Aioli: Not a just catch phrase Tony Danza used on Who's the Boss.

Oh my friends, my friends forgive me, that I'm here and while you are gone, empty chairs at empty tables because I breathed on everyone with garlic breath.
- Kevin Boubil, Alain's hangry cousin

So we had a lot of potatoes, and while I enjoy many potato dishes, I actually just like them as a vessel for assorted dipping sauces.  One such sauce I had been dreaming about forever and we just so happened to have all the ingredients in our fridge. Yeah, it's basically homemade mayonnaise with some stuff in it.  But it's delicious.  So you're welcome for the awesomeness of these flavors, or my apologies if you foolishly tried this on a date.

#21 and 22: Potato Wedges and Bacon Aioli 

Choice of libation: 

Kahlua + Crater Lake Hazelnut Espresso Vodka + Iced Coffee 
In celebration of National Coffee Day (which I celebrate every day)... 
Please note how Andie is judging me for day drinking.

Choice of music:

If this isn't on your autumn playlist, put it there now. I demand it. Her voice on every track of this album is as rich as the Crater Lake Hazelnut Espresso vodka I poured into my black coffee.

So the potatoes were just tossed with olive oil, 2 cloves garlic, parsley, salt and pepper and thrown into the oven for 45 minutes. But whatever about them. They were just the vessels.

The stars of this project: an entire head of garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, pulse in a blender...


While the motor is still going, gently pour in the egg yolks,

Oh yeah, at some point, I fried up 4 strips of bacon.  
2 of those strips ended up in the dipping sauce :)  
Fold it into the finished product.

Oh Aoili, you guys.  THIS IS SO GOOD.  Short of eating an entire clove of garlic, it may be the most garlicky thing I will ever have, but as long as those around me are okay with it, I am.  

stolen and heavily adapted from Gourmet Magazine

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 1/2 lb large yellow-fleshed potatoes such as Yukon Gold
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Stir together oil and garlic in a large bowl. Peel potatoes and diagonally cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices, discarding ends. Toss slices with garlic oil, then arrange in 1 layer in a large shallow baking pan (1 inch deep) and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Roast potatoes in lower third of oven until undersides are golden brown and crisp, about 1 hour. Turn potatoes over with a metal spatula and roast until tender, about 15 minutes more.


Season potatoes with salt and transfer, crusted sides up, to a platter.


1 head of garlic
1 large egg yolk or 2 small egg yolks
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 slices of bacon, roughly chopped (or however many you don't accidentally eat before making aioli)
3 tablespoons olive oil

Mince and mash garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt using a large heavy knife. Whisk together yolk, lemon juice, and mustard in a bowl. Combine oils and add, a few drops at a time, to yolk mixture, whisking constantly, until all oil is incorporated and mixture is emulsified. (If mixture separates, stop adding oil and continue whisking until mixture comes together, then resume adding oil.)


Whisk in garlic paste and season with salt and pepper and bacon. If aïoli is too thick, whisk in 1 or 2 drops of water. Chill, covered, until ready to use.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Our Summer of CSA, or "WHAT THE CRAP DO I DO WITH ALL THESE SALAD GREENS?"

Oh friends.  These are dark times.  In some sort of weird summer delirium, I challenged myself to do a stupid 7 day cleanse and fitness regime partially because I had meals of only smoked meats, cheese and wine for 2 straight weeks WHICH WAS AWESOME but also made me feel a little bit gross. And also because I wanted to see what happened when I gave up cheese, sugar, alcohol and grains, while working out twice a day.  Six days in and I know the answer:  I become a person who hates salads and mostly want to punch everyone I meet except I am too weak to do so.

This is what I used to be like...


Look at that girl:  She's happy, she's social, she's indulging in the four food groups of sugar, cheese, booze and pasta.

But now...
I mean. Sure.  Those cheekbones are amazing.  But this shell of my former self is friendless, angry and physically frail.

On the upside, having a diet of only vegetables and proteins does make it easier to get through our large bags of produce from the Community Supported Agriculture program I mentioned the other week when I blogged about that awesome rhubarb vodka WHICH I CAN'T HAVE FOR ANOTHER TWO DAYS, DANG IT. 

One week we were given lots of cucumbers and something like 4 heads of different kinds of lettuce. 

WHAT?! WHO CAN EAT THAT MUCH LETTUCE BEFORE IT GOES BAD?  

So I decided to do a google search: "What the crap do I do with all this lettuce?" Thanks to the internet and other people befuddled by the same problem, I found something other than "make lots of salad."

Recipes #18, 19 and 20: Salad Greens Pesto, 
Homemade Tzatziki Dressing and Greek Chicken Salad

Choice of libation: No booze, so, you know. MY OWN TEARS.  And stupid water.
Choice of music: Har Mar Superstar's Bye Bye 17. Oh.  Everything about this makes me almost forget that I miss eating donuts.  I feel like maybe I've posted about this album before, but it bears repeating.  It is bluesy, Sam Cooke, summer and soul.  

In honor of my current mental state, I'll go with this awesome track, "Don't Make Me Hit You." 
But all of the songs on this album are a rocking good time.




 So I know I've made pesto on this blog before, but actually the addition of olives makes this recipe even more bold than the other pesto  from last year.  My absolute favorite part of this recipe is, like all other sauces, you could just make a bunch and then freeze until needed, which when you have a bunch of lettuce that can go bad, is extremely helpful.  I plan on adding this to shrimp or chicken then tossing lightly with pasta.  Mmmmmmmmmmmm. Pasta.    AGHHH. TWO MORE DAYS.




Cucumbers do last a longer time, but we were given 5 or 6, and I remembered that tzatziki sauce requires a bunch of them and then I could pour it on all the stupid vegetables I had to eat for the next week.  I'm usually too lazy to peel, seed and dice the cucumbers, but this recipe highly recommended it, especially to take out any bitterness, so I took an extra ten minutes. 

Then I took my aggression out on it when asked to violently wring out the salted and diced cucumber.  It may not have said violently. I may have hallucinated reading that. 


TWO MORE DAYS.



This was actually a fabulous recipe which made a little more than a mason jar full of dressing.  I ended up marinating chicken breast in the dressing over night so it soaked in all the delicious garlic, lemon, cucumber, dill flavors, then poured it onto a salad with olives, cucumber, red onion and, yeah, more lettuce.   


The picture above was taken by someone else on the internet because I was too weak to remember to take a picture of the actual salad I made. Also it features feta cheese which sounds amazing but I'm not allowed to have for TWO MORE DAYS but you can and I bet it's delicious.



stolen from eating-made-easy.com

Salad Greens Pesto
2 heads of lettuce or 4 cups of salad greens, packed
2 small cloves garlic
¼ cup raw almonds
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olives
¼ cup lemon juice (the juice of one large lemon)
¼ cup vegetable broth
¼ cup olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste  

Grind the garlic and almonds in a food processor until finely chopped.
Scrape down, then add the greens, cheese, olive tapenade and lemon juice and blend until a paste forms.
Add the remaining liquid, keeping in mind that you may need more or less liquid depending on the consistency you're looking for.
Taste, then season with salt & pepper accordingly.
Serve on sandwiches, wraps, pizza, bagels, or mix with salad, roasted vegetables or pasta; or pour into an ice cube tray, freeze and save for later

stolen from mycaliforniakitchen.com

Easy Homemade Tzatziki
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 tsp kosher salt for cucumber, plus additional, to taste
7 oz Greek yogurt 
1/2 clove garlic
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried dill
Freshly ground black pepper

Let cucumber sit in colander with a teaspoon of salt for at least 10 minutes. After 10 minutes has passed, wring cucumber dry in a cheesecloth or kitchen towel.
Place cucumber and all other ingredients in food processor and pulse until well-blended and no large cucumber chunks remain. Add additional salt, to taste.

stolen and heavily adapted from eatingwell.com

Greek chicken salad
6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
2 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken, 
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup sliced ripe black olives
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Marinate chicken in tzatziki dressing (enough to cover) for at least one hour.
Add lettuce, chicken, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, olives and feta; toss to coat.