Monthly Archives: November 2009

Sweet Potato Fries

Yay! Sweet potatoes!

Super healthy, super filling. You can’t go wrong. Let’s get started before I begin rambling.

Ok so, I began with 4 HUGE organic sweet potatoes. Yeah… that was way too much. I figured that my man-friend and I would easily eat two potatoes each as our main meal, and boy; was I wrong. 

Learn from my mistakes, please.

Ok, so you’re going to want to slice your potatoes into matchstick sizes. The thing about thick sweet potato fries is: they can tend to be pretty soggy. The thinner, the better in terms of crispness. However, don’t go into it thinking that they will have the same consistency of a regular potato fry; they won’t. They are delicious though.

Ok, so once you have your potatoes in fry-like shapes, toss them into a bowl with a few tablespoons of olive oil, or just enough to coat each piece. 

Ok; now here is where your own personal tastes come in. I really like savory spices with sweet potatoes, however I know cinnamon/sugar are popular flavors too. I decided to go with a ton of cajun seasoning this time, with a dash of onion powder (and I probably would have used garlic powder had I remembered). Whatever you choose, use a heavy hand. Especially with the salt. Just think about what flavors *you* like. Oregano? Steak spice? Jerk seasoning? Be creative!

Ok, now; place them on a baking tray without touching one another. This will help them get crispy. Because of my paranoia about things sticking, I lightly oiled the baking tray with olive oil. It was probably unnecessary, but hey: it helps ease my insanity. I baked them off at about 425 for 12-14 minutes on the first side, and then juustttt until they started looking browned on the other side (another 5-7 minutes or so). However, this is very dependent on your oven, so please check on them (or do a mini batch for test purposes!)

Ok: now for a dip! So to keep this relatively healthy I opted to use a yogurt base for my dip. That said, there is nothing wrong with using sour cream, mayo, or some combination thereof. Use what you have on hand or what your own tastes dictate. Here’s my yogurt, hanging out:

Now I added in the zest and juice of one lime

Now I added in one clove of garlic. To avoid having large hunks of raw garlic in there, I first diced it finely, then I sprinkled some salt on it and smeared it against the side of my knife to create a sort of paste. 

By the way, I have never missed my own knife so much. I made this meal away from home, with a friend. From now on I’m just going to carry around my own knife in my purse.

God look at it. Look at the knife, mocking me.

Ok, jalapeno time! Cut him in half, and then scoop out the seeds. (You can totally leave them in if you’re down with extreme spice)

Now dice him up!

Now, you’re going to need to add a bit of salt here. How much is entirely up to your taste. I recommend sticking a fork into it, tasting it, and then adding accordingly. (Bear in mind always, when it’s a dip it needs to taste a little stronger than you would like it if you were, say, eating it with a spoon. Because you’re using potatoes as a vehicle it has to be strongly flavored)

This was about the time that I screamed profanities at that (@*#*&%$)@#*$ knife and made my man-friend take over on the second round of fry cutting. And then I laughed when I compared the size of his hands with mine. Look. 

Like sausages, no?

All done!

🙂

Sweet Potato Fries

  • sweet potatoes (I used organic; buy as many as you need)
  • olive oil
  • cajun seasoning
  • onion powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Slice your potatoes into matchstick style fries
  2. Coat them with olive oil;  the amount will depend on the number of fries. Start off with about two tablespoons, and if they appear dry add in another.
  3. Add in your seasoning. Again, this depends on the number of fries. I added in enough cajun seasoning that each fry had a liberal amount on it, and about 1.5-2 teaspoons of onion powder. Then I added in salt and pepper to my taste, which happens to be a lot. For me, this was around 2 teaspoons of each, but please follow your own palate
  4. Arrange them on a baking sheet without touching one another
  5. Bake at 425 and check them at 11-12 minutes to see how brown they are on one side. If they look nice and browned, flip them all and toss them back in. If not, just let them hang out but check frequently (they burn quickly!!) Once flipped, check after 5 minutes for doneness. Again, if they aren’t done just keep checking at 2 minute intervals. 

Turn out onto a serving plate, and eat up immediately! They are definitely better when hot.

Jalapeno Lime Dipping Sauce

  • Greek style yogurt, mine was 6% M.F. Use as much as you’ll need, according to the number of mouths to feed!
  • one lime
  • one jalapeno
  • one clove garlic
  • salt
  1. Put your yogurt (or if you want; mayo/sour cream) into a pretty serving bowl
  2. Zest your lime and add it in, then squeeze the juice into the yogurt
  3. Cut your jalapeno in half, then seed it and dice it. Add it in.
  4. Dice your garlic clove, then sprinkle on a pinch of salt. Smear the garlic with the side of your knife against your cutting board until it resembles a paste. Add it in.
  5. Now, taste your dip. Does it need salt? It probably will so add in a pinch at a time until it reaches your desired saltiness 
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Filed under Appetizers, Main Meals, Sides

Souffled Omelette: the only way to go. Stuffed with mushrooms and chevre.

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Once you’ve had a souffled omelette, there’s no going back. It’s a completely different experience, and really doesn’t require a whole lot more work. Light and airy, but still moist inside? Yum.

Let’s get started!

Smash up a clove of garlic. Here’s me: mid smash! Chop it finely, and also chop 1/4th of an onion. 

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Now dice up some mushrooms. Whatever you have on hand will be delicious. Use as many as you want! Important to remember with mushrooms; they shrink drastically when they cook. So, begin with more than you think you’ll want. 

Ok, so saute up the mushrooms in butter or olive oil: your choice. I happen to be a sucker for the smell of mushrooms in butter so that’s my go-to. I added in the onions with the mushrooms, and let them hang out on medium-low until brown and yummy. Once they start taking on that brown color, make sure to season them. I added in a couple pinches of salt, and a few grinds pepper. There’s no reason why you can’t add in other things at this point too. Thyme? Chili flakes for a bit of heat? Oregano? 

When the mushrooms look fabulous, add in the diced clove of garlic. Let that get fragrant for about a minute, and then take the whole mess off the heat and scrape it into a bowl or on a plate to set aside temporarily. 

Ok. Separate four eggs. Now, whip the yolks until thick and creamy/frothy. Here they are still too watery. You’ll know when they’re done because they’ll be slightly paler than what you began with, and they’ll coat a spatula. Now, season with a couple pinches salt and a few grinds of pepper. Set aside.

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Whip the four whites until stiff peaks. You know they’re stiff when they don’t drip off a spatula. See?

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….I have no idea why I have a claw hand here. Ignore.

Ok. Now fold the two together. Please please don’t just stir them in to combine; then you lose all that wonderful lightness that we’re trying to achieve. 

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Ok! Now, put a skillet over medium/low heat. Let it heat a bit; then toss in a tablespoon of butter or so. (Or just use some non-stick spray stuff. Whatever. The key is to make sure ALL sides are coated with it or it’ll be tricky to get the omelette out). **I should also add, I find that it’s very important to have a *clean* skillet. Usually I’m inclined to use whatever skillet I had on hand before; in this case, the one I used for the mushrooms. However, omelettes are finicky creatures and I’ve had much better results when the skillet is spotless. 

Now put the omelette in!

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Ok. Give the omelette a little bit of time to hang out in there. Wait until the bottom sets up a tad, and once it does, run your spatula under it to make sure nothing is sticking. Then, add back in the mushrooms + onions. Sprinkle on as much chevre as you want. I love lots. (Remember; you can use whatever cheese you like here. Anything that’s oozy or melty will be fabulous)

Geez. I’m a messy cook. Don’t mind the stray mushrooms here and there.

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Perfect! Ok so the top is still going to appear a little spongey. This is key to a great omelette. If you wait for the egg to be completely dry throughout, then you’ll have a very dry omelette. Remember that egg continues to cook once you take it off the heat, much like other protein (i.e. steak).

Taking it out of the pan requires a bit of maneuvering, but rememeber that if it breaks a bit it’ll still taste fantastic. And who cares, really? 😉

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Souffled Omelette with Chevre and Mushrooms

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4th of an onion
  • mushrooms of any variety, and as many as you’d like. (remember: they shrink!)
  • butter
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • chevre
  1. Dice up your clove of garlic and finely chop the onion. Slice your mushrooms roughly; but don’t worry if they don’t look perfect. Just make sure they’re all approximately the same size. 
  2. Put a bit of butter into your skillet (heat over medium). When it’s melty and you can smell it, toss in the mushrooms and onion. Wait until the mushrooms are gorgeous and brown, then toss in your diced clove of garlic for about a minute or until it’s really fragrant. Season to taste with salt and pepper; then, take it all off the heat and put it to the side on a plate etc.
  3. Now, whip your four egg whites (I used a stand mixer, but you can use a hand mixer or just do it with a little elbow grease). Whip until they reach stiff peaks, set to the side.
  4. Whip the egg yolks with a pinch of salt and pepper until they are very creamy and frothy looking. Now, stir in a spoonful of the egg whites to lighten up the mixture, and then fold in the remaining whites until the yolks + whites are incorporated. 
  5. With a skillet on medium-low, add in a tablespoon or so of butter. (Or use a non-stick spray. Just make sure it’s thoroughly coated). Pour in your egg mixture and lightly smooth the top. Now, let it hang out in there until the bottom starts setting up slightly.
  6. When the bottom starts looking light brown (keep peaking by lifting up the edges with a spatula) pour your mushroom mixture right onto the top. Add on as much chevre as you want! I used lots; it really adds an awesome tang to the omelette. 
  7. Carefully try to shimmy the omelette out of the pan; don’t get discouraged if this gets a little mess. It takes practice. When it’s about halfway onto the plate, simply fold the other half onto itself to create that half-moon omelette shape!
  8. Enjoy with a fresh baguette 😉

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Autumn. Homemade ravioli, with butternut squash filling and a brown-butter sage sauce.

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I sincerely love fall. It’s by far the best season (in my humble opinion 😉 )

I’d love to be able to point at one individual aspect of fall that makes it so incredible, but really it’s cumulative effect of gorgeous deep colors, spicey smells, and crisp mornings.

That said, butternut squash always reminds me of autumn. How can it not? Look at that gorgeous orange color, and the association with cinnamon/nutmeg/butter. Mmm.

Let’s make some butternut squash ravioli, shall we?

Start with about three cups of squash. These are cubed but not identical in size. I drizzled olive oil to coat, and tossed with a little salt and pepper. Pop them in the oven at 375 until they smell fantastic and are soft/caramelized on the outside. 
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While those are roasting, let’s make the pasta dough. Here I’m adding in 3 cups all purpose flour, and one teaspoon of salt. 

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Add in 2 tablespoons of olive oil

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And then you’re going to need four eggs, added one at a time while your stand mixer is running. (use the dough hook)

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ACTION SHOT

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Ok, so; I was using Tyler Florence’s recipe for this dough (largely because I have a huge crush on the guy) and when I turned it out onto the counter, I found it slightly dry. I added in two tablespoons of cold water and that fixed the problem. These things are very finicky and have a lot to do with the moisture content in your home, so go by feel.

I kneaded the dough by hand for about 5-8 minutes until it felt very elastic-y, and then wrapped it in plastic wrap and popped it into the fridge for an hour.

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Now, once the butternut squash is done, remove from the oven and let it cool a tad. Saute together about half an onion (I used white) and when it’s just starting to brown a tad, add in two cloves of garlic. Only let the garlic saute until it begins to be really fragrant; about a minute. Remember to season each step of the way, so add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.

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Once the saute is good to go, turn off the heat and add in the butternut squash mixture. Just incorporate all the ingredients together in the pan, and add in a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg.

So, I’ve had my share of bad ravioli in my life. And part of the problem is when the filling is wayyyy too dense to properly compliment that lovely, fluffy, eggy dough that surrounds it. So, to combat that, I pureed the whole mess of butternut squash + onion + garlic until gorgeous and smooth, AND THEN folded it in with some whipped cream.

There’s an association with whipped cream and dessert – but really there’s no reason why it can’t be used in savory application too. I added in two pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper, and also a pinch of cinnamon to the cream. Whip a cup of cream until it forms stiff peaks.

Now, gently fold the two together. 

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Once all the squash and cream are nice and combined, taste it. Does it taste a little too sweet for you? Too bland? Do you want to taste more cinnamon? Adjust accordingly. I added in more cinnamon, salt, and pepper.

Now, roll the dough out. If you have a pasta machine then use that. I did it by hand (read: my friend had to do it because I’m altogether too weak) until it was about 1/8th of an inch thick. 

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Now, pick a shape of ravioli you want! I wanted rounds. I think they’re so pretty and girly. However, with the rest of the dough I later made half-moon shapes and those were successful too. Now, place a dollop of that filling into the center of the dough. *ALWAYS* go with less than you think you need; take it from me, it gets messy otherwise. This here is probably a little too much. I’m sure I paid for that. 

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Then, I put another round on top, and made sure to smooth out any air bubbles with my fingertips. Then, crimp the edges with a fork.

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Drop the raviolis into a pot of boiling, salted water until they float to the surface. Then remove and set aside while you brown the butter!

Take a good hunk of butter (I used a few tablespoons here) and heat it over low heat on your stovetop. You’re waiting for it to turn brown; brown butter is a completely different animal, and it is utterly delicious. There’ll be a moment when it justttt starts to turn, and all of a sudden the smell will change from the ordinary butter smell you recognize, to a nutty, almost shortbread-y smell. At that point, drop in a few teaspoons of freshly chopped sage. Let them crisp up for about 15 seconds.

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Now, take the reserved, cooked ravioli and toss in the sauce. Use tongs and divide them up among your plates. Drizzle any leftover sauce on the ravioli, with any lone bits of sage still in the pan!

Enjoy 😉

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Ravioli Dough; Thanks Tyler Florence! Call me sometime.

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yolk for egg wash
  1. In an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine flour and salt. Add eggs 1 at a time and continue to mix. Drizzle in oil and continue to incorporate all the flour until it forms a ball. Sprinkle some flour on work surface, knead the dough until elastic and smooth. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for about 30 minutes to allow the gluten to relax. ***here I added in 2 tablespoons of cold water to moisten the dough a little more. 
  2. Cut the ball of dough in half, cover and reserve the dough you are not immediately using to prevent it from drying out. Dust the counter and dough with flour. Form the dough into a rectangle and roll it through the pasta machine, 2 or 3 times, at its widest setting. Guide the sheet of dough with the palm of your hand as it emerges from the rollers. *Reduce the setting and crank the dough through again, 2 or 3 times. Continue until the machine is at its narrowest setting. The dough should be paper-thin, about 1/8-inch thick
  3. Dust the counter and dough with flour, lay out the long sheet of pasta. Brush the top surface of dough with egg wash. Drop 1 tablespoon of cooled filling about 2-inches apart on half the sheet of pasta. Fold the unfilled half over the filling. With an espresso cup or fingers, gently press out air pockets around each mound of filling and form a seal. Use a crimper to cut each pillow into squares. Check to make sure the crimped edges are well sealed before cooking. If making ravioli in advance, dust with cornmeal to prevent them from sticking
  4. ****so, in Tyler’s final step of instructions here, he suggests that after you fill the ravioli you need to boil them for 10-15 minutes or “until they float to the top.” However…..for me, the ravioli were cooked through around 4-5 minutes (I simply waited for them to float) so that time seems *very* off to me. Additionally, every other pasta recipe/ravioli recipe I’ve read suggests somewhere around the 4-6 minute mark. So…yah. I’m confused. I can’t explain it, but like I said, my ravioli only needed around 4-5 minutes. 

Butternut Squash Filling

  • 3 cups cubed butternut squash
  • olive oil 
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 an onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  1. preheat your oven to 375. Put the cubed squash into a pan and drizzle liberally with olive oil until coated. Season it with salt and pepper and don’t be afraid to be generous . Add in a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg (fyi, a pinch is 1/8th of a teaspoon). Roast until the edges are caramelized and the squash is very soft; I believe this took about 35 minutes for me. It does depend on your oven, however, so just check on it. Toss it a couple times throughout the process. Take it out and set it aside when it’s done.
  2. Over medium-low heat, saute the onion until it begins to soften, and then add in the garlic until it’s fragrant (about 1 minute more). Then, add back in the squash. I added in another pinch of cinnamon after tasting it, and more often than not you’ll have to add in more salt and pepper to every step of the way. But taste it, to be sure.
  3. Puree the whole mess (I used a hand held guy, but you can use a food processor)
  4. Now, whip the whipped cream. Add in another pinch of cinnamon, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of fresh pepper as it’s whipping. Then, fold the puree and the cream together until it’s light and airy, but totally incorporated. Taste again. This is your finished product so you want to make sure it tastes totally delicious now, because it won’t suddenly become delicious after it’s in the ravioli. Do you think it needs more cinnamon or nutmeg? Salt or pepper? Etc.
  5. Assemble your ravioli!

Brown Butter Sage Sauce

  • Few tablespoons of butter (probably 3-4, depends on how much of the ravioli you’re making at once.)
  • 2-3 teaspoons of fresh sage, lightly ripped (I didn’t bother chopping because I love getting the large bites of crisp sage)
  1. Heat the butter over medium-low. Watch it carefully. There is a fine line between brown butter and black butter; the latter being far less tasty. As soon as it begins smelling different (nutty and fabulous) and you can see the color change, toss in the sage for another 15-20 seconds. Then, take off the heat and immediately coat the ravioli in it. 

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Pre-gaming. Appetizer: sauteed mushrooms with thyme, white wine, and balsamic.

Another typical Friday night prior to drinks: and somebody informs me he can’t possibly survive the next two hours without an appetizer 😉

Luckily, I’m the best hostess ever.

But seriously; I need to stop hanging out with people literally twice the size of me. A different species, I’m telling you.

Begin with a variety of mushrooms of your choice! I had some ‘bellos here, and regular old white mushrooms.

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I popped them into a saute pan with a bit of butter and olive oil. The combination of both prevents the butter from burning, but gives that unmistakable delicious taste you can’t achieve without it 😉

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When the mushrooms are looking nice and brown, I season to taste with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.

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I added in a sprig of fresh thyme here; see how I’m stripping it in a downwards motion? That way you leave behind the chewy stalk, but release all the flavorful ‘leaves.’ (are they called leaves? Someone correct me please?)

At this point, I added in a splash of white wine to deglaze all that yumminess from the bottom of the pan. I tasted, adjusted the seasoning (food almost always needs a touch more salt than anticipated). And then, a splash of balsamic vinegar. Go easy with the vinegar; you want that unmistakable bite that it gives, but too much and it becomes very sour.

Plate it up!

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Now, this requires a little bit of creaminess to offset the acidity. I happen to adore camembert, and had it on hand, so that’s what I went with. However, chevre would be a *fantastic* choice too. 

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Mmmm. It was deemed good by my rhino man-friend, and that’s good enough for me 😉

And now for the pre-gaming part.

God. I always feel like beer looks deceivingly refreshing. Yum. 

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Sauteed Mushrooms with Wine and Balsamic Vinegar

  • assortment of mushrooms. I used three portobello mushrooms, and a package of white mushrooms 
  • sprig or two of thyme
  • olive oil
  • butter
  • balsamic vinegar
  • white wine (whatever you have on hand – I used pinot grigio)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. slice your mushrooms
  2. heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter in a skillet
  3. saute your mushrooms until they achieve a beautiful golden brown color
  4. add salt and pepper to taste. Add in a sprig of thyme
  5. add a splash of white wine to deglaze plan and scrape up the brown bits to incorporate  them into the sauce. Give it 30 seconds or so for the alcohol to evaporate, and then add in a splash of balsamic. Take it off the heat. TASTE! ADJUST!
  6. serve with a baguette and your cheese of choice. I personally love camembert but chevre would be incredible. 

Look how HAPPY my wine glass is that I’m drinking him. Look. Who needs wine charms when you have red lipstick?

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Ahhh Passion. Man-food; braised short ribs, mashed potatoes, and green beans with orange shallot sauce.

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You know who I will never understand? Those advocates of  “grown-up” fighting with your significant other. You know, indoor voices, certainly-don’t-get-angry-and-say-something-in-the-heat-of-the-moment people. I feel like those are the people who would walk in on their spouse cheating, sit on the end of the bed, and say, “let’s talk it out, hunny.”

Now of course, I don’t recommend being disrespectful or mean. It’s just that; I like to argue. A lot. And I like to be right even more. But ultimately, I love a worthy adversary.  Someone to keep me on my toes and toss me back when I cross the line; because I will.  Someone who knows me well enough that they can think one step ahead of me, and make me laugh when I’m still angry as hell. I need that fire. I just don’t understand how life is worth living without it. Sure, I could find a relationship with a very consistent, boring, daily routine full of social norms and forced niceties.  But Jesus Christ what could be more depressing?

For any of you Social Psychology nerds out there in the interwebs, you’ll follow me here when I reference Sternberg’s Triangle of Love.  I won’t bore you with all the categorization stuff here; but I always found the commitment-intimacy (or “companionate”) types so sad. (think – a couple after many years who still confide in each other and are committed to being monogamous but don’t have the spark any longer, if they had it at all). There are worse things, sure. I just want to assume in my dream world that out there exists the possibility to be head over heels, passionately in love with someone and never fall into the trap of taking it for granted.

This is all coming to mind because I happened to get into a fairly heated argument with someone last night. Most people would probably be upset or still fuming today, however I’m glad. I got some great insight into how he thinks and feels, but most of all, I feel the process confirms that you care enough about someone to get upset and need to be heard. That’s never a bad thing, in my opinion.

That said, let’s make some official “passion” food – (translation =  date night, man-food :P) Home-dates are fast becoming my favorite kind of date. Tons of fun, especially if you have a fellow foodie on the premises. Plus, lots of room for dessert 😉

As you’ll discover, I’m a big advocate of taste, adjust, and alter to your own preferences. If you’re simply following a recipe word for word, you’re missing the most important element: you

Now, the braised ribs are VERY forgiving and if you follow the main concepts they will be utterly delicious; I promise. 

First, grab some short ribs. I happened to get boneless ones because they were on sale, but generally I would prefer bone-in. (For the most part, bones = flavor.) You’re going to salt and pepper both sides of the ribs liberally, while heating up a large dutch oven on the stovetop (medium-high). Drizzle some olive oil in your pan, and sear the meat. It is very important to a) be patient during this step. Let the ribs take on beautiful, deep dark brown color. That color is flavor baby. Make sure you do each side of each rib. And b) don’t overcrowd the pan. I did about 3-4 ribs at once, and removed/added more when they had finished doing their thing in the pan. 

Ok. So your ribs are all done and removed from the pan (just set them aside on a plate or cutting board). Now here’s where you get to do whatever you want, for the most part. I added in an onion (cut in large chunks), a couple of carrots, and a few stalks of celery to start sweating a bit in the still-hot dutch oven. Don’t get fancy here with your knife skills; you’re going to be straining the whole mess anyway. 

Once the onion/carrot/celery begins smelling fantastic and loses some of that raw-veg crunchiness, you’re going to deglaze the pan with red wine. Use whatever you have open; just dump the entire contents into the pan. Scrape up the brown bits that are now loose on the bottom to incorporate them into the sauce. Now, add the ribs back in. Add in a couple cloves of garlic (just smash them with the back of your knife, no need to chop), and whatever aromatics you adore. I personally love rosemary and thyme for this so that’s what I tossed in. Oh, and a bay leaf.

Now add the ribs back in, and if they aren’t covered in liquid then add in low-sodium or homemade beef stock to ensure they’re covered. That’s it! Pop them in a preheated 350 degree oven for 2-3 hours or until they are so moist and tender that you can cut them by looking at them. 

Here’s what my ribs looked like when I peeked in at the 2.5 hour mark:

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mmmm. Want some? 😉

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Ok. So now remove the ribs and strain out any of the solids that we don’t want in our finished sauce. (I just put the ribs on a plate with tinfoil tightly covering to keep them warm). Just keep the now-strained liquid in the dutch oven on the stovetop until you’re ready to begin reducing it. 

Now, here is where I made my mashed potatoes, but because I’m a complete space cadet I forgot to take pictures of that process. I included the recipe below, but really mashed potatoes are *so* individual. Basically, I boiled my potatoes in salted water until they yielded nicely under my fork. Then, I drained them and placed them back over the low heat. I had about a cup of cream gently heating in another sauce pan in the meantime (with a bay leaf and clove of garlic in it, infusing). I alternated between adding a splash of the infused cream and a hunk of butter while simultaneously smashing the potatoes. You know you’re making mashed potatoes correctly if they essentially are a vehicle to hold as much cream and butter as humanly possible. It’s also essential to taste/adjust throughout the entire process; careful about over or under salting here. Season to taste (and I like LOTS of fresh ground black pepper). 

Now for the green beans. Trim the yucky ends off; they’ll look like this:

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Why do I have a mysterious ray of light emanating from my pinky finger, you ask? I do not question things I will never understand. 

Now you’re going to chop a shallot, and zest and orange. (I zested a little bit of lemon here, too). 

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Grab a hunk of butter. Be generous here.

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Add in the yumminess.

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………..where is my wine?

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Whew. Narrowly avoided crisis right there.

Now, assemble! Reduce the sauce on the stove to the desired consistency. Plate it up!

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Braised Short Ribs:

  • short ribs (I had 10)
  • olive oil
  • carrots (I used two)
  • onion (I used a regular white, but it really doesn’t matter. Use what you have on hand)
  • celery (I used two stalks)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • fresh thyme
  • fresh rosemary
  • 1 bayleaf
  • red wine – whatever you have on hand
  • low sodium beef stock
  1. take cleaned short ribs and liberally salt and pepper them (both sides)

  2. take a large dutch oven and heat over medium/high. Add olive oil, and brown the short ribs on all sides. Brown until very very dark
  3. when all the ribs are brown (and you’ve been removing them as you go) toss in an onion, a couple carrots, and a few stalks of celery. Don’t get fancy with your knife skills here because you’ll be straining in the end
  4. let those get slightly browned, then deglaze the pan with as much red wine as you have open/on hand. Put the ribs back in the pot, and add enough beef broth to fully submerge them under the liquid

  5. add some smashed garlic cloves, some thyme, rosemary or whatever other aromatics you love and wish to add

  6. bring up to a boil on the stovetop, and then place in a preheated oven with a tightly sealed lid for 2-3 hours, or until it yields under your fork
  7. when they’re done, remove them and strain out the solids from the broth. Reduce the broth over the stove until it has a lovely consistency, and then drizzle back over the ribs (which can be placed on your favourite carbohydrate!)

Mashed Potatoes

  • 4 potatoes – I used red
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • butter
  1. Scrub potatoes
  2. Boil in salted water until they yield nicely under a fork
  3. While potatoes are boiling, heat the cream gently in a small saucepan with the garlic clove and bayleaf
  4. Drain potatoes and place back on low heat over the stovetop
  5. Using a hand-held smasher, begin breaking up the potatoes while adding bits of cream and butter. The amount of butter really depends on your own taste; keep gauging the texture and tasting as you go. When all the cream is incorporated and the texture is fabulous, salt and pepper to taste. 

Green Beans with Orange Shallot Sauce

  • green beans (the amount depends on how many people you’re feeding. Get as much as you need)
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • a few knobs of butter
  1. Trim the yucky ends from your green beans
  2. Quickly boil them for 3-4 minutes in rapidly boiling, salted water (you want them to still have a nice bite and be bright, vibrant green)
  3. Drain
  4. Chop your shallot, zest your orange and a bit of the lemon (that is optional)
  5. Over medium-low heat, toss in a couple knobs of butter. Throw in your shallot and the zest
  6. Let that cook until the shallots are softer, adding more butter as needed (keeping in mind that it’s going to need to be a sauce consistency)
  7. Slice your orange in half and squeeze the juice directly into the pan
  8. Take the sauce off the heat, and toss/top the green beans!

                                                                                                        Nom.

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*Enter stage left*

You’ll have to pardon me as I rant a little regarding my reasons for beginning this blog. As I understand it though, the purpose of beginning a blog is to write down your every insipid, unimaginative thought and assume that someone, somewhere cares about what you think. So you’ll have to tolerate me, I suppose 😉

In short, I’m frustrated with the food culture of today. This is an appropriately vast statement because really, there are few redeeming qualities in North America regarding food consumption. Everything from fast food to fad diets, to misinformation surrounding how terrible fat is for you, or that carbohydrates can only be consumed every other Tuesday to avoid weight gain. No one walks anywhere. People eat things I don’t even want to know how to pronounce out of packages from god knows where. Parents label food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and children grow up thinking that some food is always off limits, inducing binges of said vilified food. Ultimately, I’m tired of food being portrayed as an enemy, constantly battling your desires to look sexy on the beach.

People have forgotten how incredible the entire food process is. And I don’t just mean the moment where you fork your dinner into your mouth. I mean, beginning when you walk in the door and you can smell an amazing aroma wafting from your oven. I mean when your family or significant other lingers in the kitchen because it’s warm and full of life, as opposed to sterile and unused. It’s when you open a bottle of wine to cook with and pour a glass for you and a friend to enjoy while laughing about your day. When you dip a spoon into a pot and ask someone else to taste it for you, and seeing their eyes light up when they do. Food is intimate, and sensual and is meant for us to enjoy it.

Part of this is a result of our go-go-go pace of society. Everything is faster, everyone is entitled. No one stops to relax anymore; and everyone defines themselves by their work. I can’t tell you how tired I am of dating men who begin their day at 7am and end it at 8pm, enduring a job they hate only to come home exhausted and irritable. When did this become the norm? And why is it okay?

It’s the little things that I take the most pleasure from, in my life. Cutting into a fresh orange. Cuddling on the couch with a glass of wine. The smell of onions in garlic sautéing in butter. A fresh piece of bread hot from the oven, dunked in fruity olive oil. That moment of anticipation right before you kiss someone for the first time, when you’ve been thinking about it all night. These are the little things that make me want to shake people, exclaiming “STOP! Look at what you’re missing.” Am I the only person who thinks life is too short for bad food, bad sex, and bad movies? (I should note here that I’ve been known to walk out on all three)

There you have it. My greatly summarized disdain for current food attitudes mingled with my slightly inappropriate humor; that will largely be the gist of this blog. I focus mainly on very fresh ingredients, and I truly enjoy the entire process of selecting and planning my meals. If there is a local farmer’s market nearby, I can assure you I’ll be one of their most frequent customers. I believe very strongly in moderation applied to everything, but for the most part I avoid canned or otherwise packaged foods (with some notable exceptions). I don’t buy things with weird chemicals; first as a matter of principle and now because I can taste them. Eating healthily is so important for so many reasons, but in order to truly eat healthily you need to adopt a healthy attitude towards food itself. It’s simply not enough to eat three square meals a day punctuated by two snacks that adhere directly to the food pyramid. Understanding food, and yourself in relation to it, are key to living a healthy overall lifestyle. I hope to share with you how exactly I began doing that, and the things I do everyday to ensure I’m living, and eating, to my happiest potential. So please; grab a glass of wine. Curl up.

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