This is hardly a recipe, but I do love a good sardine sandwich. Sardines?!, you say, barely able to disguise the look of utter revulsion on your face. The oily fish that comes in a tin, complete with spines???
Yes, sardines! I respond. And don’t you dare say a single thing against tinned fish, you mook! Then we breakdance battle, and after I completely wreck you with my triple-headspin-windmill combo and you weep a little, I’ll invite you over for a sardine sandwich so that you will truly understand just how wrong you were to ever doubt the majesty of the humble tinned fish.
Happy 2017, everyone! Welcome to a new year, a symbolic time that promises many things but that in reality probably won’t differ much from December 31st of this past weekend, aside from the fact that we’ll all be scratching out the inevitable “2016”s on our rent checks to hastily scrawl in “2017” instead. Turning an accidental 6 into a deliberate 7 will be messy, but by god we’ll do it.
But despite the unceasing and apathetic forward march of time, let’s all embrace the wise words of Bill and Ted and be excellent to ourselves and to each other. Imagine me embracing you in a hug right now— and imagine it being very awkward for added realism, if you will.
No, I don’t mean baking hobbits. I mean a bake inspired by the merry little Halflings. If you know me at all (or in the very least, follow my silly little posts on Instagram), you know that I read Lord of the Rings every year. And every time I read it, I’m tickled anew by Samwise Gamgee’s fixation on procuring a good ale and some hearty fare. I mean, he even whips up some lean rabbit stew out in the middle of a field after growing weary of their monotonous diet of lembas bread. A hobbit after my own heart, that Sam.
So I got to thinking, what would Sam make if he did have the provisions? Probably something a lot like this dish: assorted vegetables and sausage tossed with fresh and dried herbs, a bit of butter, and all roasted until golden brown and fragrant. And seeing as how Frodo and Bilbo’s birthday is later this week (September 22nd!), it seemed as good a time as any to make it.
I don’t fry things very often because for whatever reason I am completely inept at it. But once in a while, I’ll come across a recipe for something fried that sounds so appealing that I’ll shove aside my fry-aversion and just go for it. These zucchini patties — zucchini fritters, really — called for me to do just that.
These are like potato latkes, but made with zucchini and onion instead. How could I resist? Potato latkes? Delicious. Zucchini? Also delicious. This is an obvious win.
I am into corn in a big way. I eat little Del Monte cans of whole kernel sweet corn straight from the tin with a spoon. If I weren’t so keenly aware that it’d be very weird, I would even offer it to guests as a dessert. (“Annnnd to cleanse your palate, a can of corn with a spoon in it! Wait, where are you going?”)
Luckily, there are more socially acceptable ways of feeding your guests (and yourself) corn instead of just eating it from a can like some kind of animal that has access to a can opener.
What better time to partake in corn than in the summer, when sweet corn is at its golden peak and ahem, really, really cheap?
I sometimes become incredibly homesick. I don’t know if it’s so much that I miss Texas, but rather that I just miss all the things that were a given back home. I knew where to go to get my favorite broccoli pasta, where to go to get a good banh mi, where to go to get the perfect fajitas, and so on. All the things I miss are decidedly food-related; even the people I miss have some kind of food memory attached to them — Niko Niko’s with Jessica, sushi with Meredith, dim sum with my siblings, and you get the idea.
The ultimate food memories, of course, are linked to my mom. I was one of those lucky kids who always had a homecooked dinner every night, something I definitely did not appreciate enough back then. That’s a major perk to having restauranteurs as parents, I tell you what.
I’m back! It turns out that I’m like a cat; I need to lie out and charge in a sunbeam if I’m expected to do anything at all for the remainder of the day. And well, the sun skidattles from the sky by 4pm this time of the year here, so I haven’t been doing much cooking for the past few months. Yikes. But now that it’s somewhat bright when I leave the office — even if it instantly becomes pitch black by the time I reach my front door — I can feel the desire to throw down in the kitchen returning to the frozen cockles of my heart. Hooray!
This weekend’s dinner gathering hosted by my friends Sara and Adrian was the perfect push to fire up the stove again. And what better on a cold Sunday night than something green and spicy?
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that this past weekend, I made an entire armada of dumplings. A flotilla of delicious morsels. A squadron of alright, I’ll stop with the naval analogies. The point is, whenever you decide to make something like dumplings, you have to commit to it. You can’t just make a dumpling or five, just like how you can’t just eat a potato chip or a family-sized pizza.
The good news is, making these things is kind of therapeutic. I usually just set up my station: bowl of dumpling filling to my right, a baking sheet to my left, dumpling wrappers and a bowl of water somewhat in the middle, and a damp kitchen towel in front of me. Then I turn on some Mythbusters reruns or maybe Adventures in Babysitting and get to work. Once you get the hang of things, it’s almost zen.
Another plus: dumplings freeze beautifully. Just line them up on a baking sheet covered in parchment or foil (making sure the dumplings aren’t touching one another), pop them in the freezer for an hour or two, and then transfer them all into a freezer bag until you want to eat them. Your future hungry self will thank you for the foresight.
This isn’t something you’d likely find on the menu at a Chinese restaurant. It’s too simple, too rustic, too every day. It’s the sort of thing families cook at home, but not the sort of thing they’d whip up to impress paying guests because it’s decidedly not all that impressive.
All the more pity because then fewer people would think of making this when it comes to cooking Chinese food at home, and it’s so easy. This dish doesn’t even involve a wok or a clay pot, and there’s only one potentially “weird” ingredient that you may have trouble finding at a regular grocery store (and even that ingredient is optional, though you really should try to find it. Like, really.)
I make this for dinner myself on the regular. Though this is poached in soy sauce, which sounds like it’d be a salt bomb, the soy sauce is actually pretty watered down and further tempered with a bit of sugar. It just infuses the otherwise plain boiled eggs with a savory, salty flavor, and let’s face it, boiled chicken runs the risk of being blander than packing foam, so the soy sauce simmering gives it a much-needed flavor boost.
Ah, summertime. The sun is out and we’re all lying around the beach indulging in glamorous champagne picnics. Or, maybe we don’t live in The Great Gatsby and/or Narnia, so maybe our summer outdoor dining experiences don’t involve butlers and buckets of perfectly chilled bubbly. Booo.
But hey, we don’t need all that. What we do need is excellent company, a venue relatively free of mosquitoes, and delicious, portable food. I’m sure you’ve got the first part covered, so I’ll help out with the third. (And uh, throw me a line when you’ve got the second part figured out because that one I’m still struggling with. *slaps mosquito*)
This luscious bean and chicken salad makes use of the in-season pole beans springing up in gardens and markets everywhere, and it has the added bonus of being more refined than hastily assembled sandwiches. The beans are barely cooked through so they stay nice and crisp, and the garlicky aioli adds a nice kick and binds everything together. The bits of roasted chicken tucked inside… well, who doesn’t love roast chicken? (If you have someone in mind, don’t trust that person.)