28 June 2007

Incubator Kitchens

I may be way out of the loop, but I just have to share my new discovery. I just found out about these awesome non-profit organizations called Incubator Kitchens. Imagine being a low-income immigrant woman who wants to start her own catering business, but in order to do something like that you have to have loads of money for all the equipment, licensing, etc. For a lot of people, this is a dream that is completely out of reach. Incubator Kitchens are non-profits that provide a community commercial kitchen space, as well as training and technical assistance. For a minimal fee you can go in and make 2000 tortillas (or cupcakes) for a wedding, all in a fully approved and equipped commercial kitchen. This gives folks a chance to start a business with almost no overhead. Pretty rad. Check out the New York Times article, and the website for La Cocina, a San Francisco based Incubator.

26 June 2007

Frittata ta ta

Well, building on the egg theme here, I have an easy recipe to share. Last night, amid an onslaught of swarming drywood termites in the kitchen of my very cute but infested house, Sarah-pie and I cooked up a feast. It's a great way to make a cheap, protein-rich main course using some of the bounty of your summer garden (or farmer's market). Give 'er a whirl! Try a tomato salad and toast on the side- we did and it was good. This recipe is super flexible- all measurements are just suggestions and all ingredients free to change at your whim.

Summertime Frittata with Chard, Onions and Fresh Herbs
(serves 4, or 2 or 3 hungrier people)

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup (approx) grated cheese (I used Manchego, but a milder cheese combined with Parmesian would be delish too)
  • 1 bunch chard, leaves chopped, big part of stems saved for another use
  • 1 purple onion (or other onion-like thing...I used a shallot and a tiny onion)
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil (approx)
  • about 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • about 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 clove garlic
  • salt & pepper
pre-heat broiler

Cut the onion/shallot into halves or quarters and slice fairly thinly. Heat about 2 Tbs. of the oil in a 10" oven-safe skillet (cast iron is great) and toss in the onions. Cook, over low heat, slowly for about 10-15 minutes, stirring, until onions are very soft and caramelized. Add the chopped chard and continue cooking and stirring over low heat about another 10 minutes until most of the liquid has cooked off the chard. Meanwhile, crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk or stir. Finely chop the garlic with about a tsp. of salt and add this flavoricious paste to the egg along with the chopped herbs and a good grind of pepper. Stir in most of the cheese. Add the cooked chard/onion mix to the bowl of eggs and stir to combine (you may want to let the chard stuff cool off a bit before adding to the eggs- not sure if this matters but it's what I did). Heat the remaining tbs. of oil in the skillet and dump in the egg mixture. Give it a good stir or two and then set down the spoon and let it cook very slowly over low heat for about 10 minutes until the eggs are mostly set except for on top. Sprinkle your remaining bit of cheese over the top and slide the whole shebang into the oven and broil about 4-5 minutes to set the top and brown (check frequently).

Let her cool a bit and serve by either slicing right out of the pan or attempting to pry the whole thing loose from the pan and cutting it pizza-style.
Frittata ta ta!

21 June 2007

Scrambled Egg Sandwich

Scrambled Egg Sandwich.
by Brent Evans

Two free range chicken eggs, no more than 5 days old. Chickens should get over half their lives running around outside.
So should we.
Melt a couple slices of sweet cream salted butter into an aged iron skillet that has never been washed with soap, just hot water and scouring. Put a flame under the skillet.
Slip some slices of bread into the toaster and get her cookin.
Bust open two eggs per person and mix em up in a bowl, and when the butter is melted and the skillet is well lubricated, pour in the eggs (some sophisticates may add sauteed chopped peppers, cilantro, onions, tomatoes, or whatever), and scramble em up.
Coat the toast with real mayonnaise – no substitutes. Plop scrambled eggs on a piece of toast, and top it off with gobs of Heinz Tomato Ketchup. Lettuce can add a delightfully crisp green accent. Add the other piece of toast on top, and you are ready to chow down.

German Recipes?

This Saturday I am attending the second monthly Supper Club party put on by my friends Sam & Jerry. It is a themed potluck-style dinner party. This month's theme is "bring a dish from the REGION you were born". Having been born in Boerne, I plan to bring German food. Now, I haven't had much experience with this type of cuisine - in fact, I had schnitzel for the first time the other month at the Welfare Cafe (a "must" to experience when in the area, by the way).
Do any of you cooks have a suggestion for my potluck contribution?
I have been playing around with the idea of preparing some sort of mini/finger sandwhich made of German bread, meat, grain mustard, kraut, pickles, cheese, etc. I would love to make weiner schnitzel simply so I have an excuse to say "weiner" all night. Or (and most realistically) I may try to make chocolate stout cupcakes.

Ich liebe weiner vielen.

19 June 2007

Small Chocolate Bomb Goo-Cakes

I like these so much, I put a fixed picture of them on the blog. These are awesome little personal mini-cakes that are crusty on the outside, but when you cut into them with a spoon, they spill out gooey chocolate all over your plate. MMmmmmmmm...


7 ounces dark chocolate (about 2 chocolate bars) plus some extra
1/2 cup Sugar
1 stick + 1 tbsp butter (softened)
1/3 cup flour, sifted
3 whole eggs, beaten together with fork
8 single cupcake tins or ramekins

-Butter the inside of the tins and put them in the freezer for at least 30 min. I use those single disposable aluminum muffin tins.
-Melt the chocolate in a double boiler with a very low burner.
-Stir together the butter and sugar until you have a cream, then mix in the sifted flour, following with the already beaten eggs. Finally, add the melted chocolate and stir until you have a uniform mixture.
-Fill the cupcake tins about 3/4 full, then stuff a small chunk of chocolate down in the center, burying it with the batter.
-Cover tins with plastic wrap and put them in the freezer for at least an hour and a half. These are great because you can make them the day before an event and just pull them out when your ready to cook ‘em. You can also keep them frozen up to a couple months, ready to pull out for an emergency chocolate fix or a surprise dinner party.
-Preheat the oven to 450•. Bake the little frozen goo cakes for about 13 minutes or until they look crusty on the outside. You want them to be cooked on the outside but gooey on the inside, so you might want to make an extra one for testing purposes... strictly in the interest of science, obviously. When they’re ready, flip them over on to a plate, extracting them from their tins, being careful not to break them open. You can sprinkle a bit of powdered sugar on top if you wish. Absolutely divine.

P.S. I somehow almost forgot to mention the origin of this delicious recipe. I was introduced to it by my dear friend Andrea whom baked this treat for us in Tuscany one weekend. It was the perfect end to one of the best meals I've ever eaten and helped prepare: home-made ravioli, vegetable quiche, Emilio's famous slow-cooked roast (I abstained from this course, but I took everyone's word/groans for it), and various other delicacies... Unforgettable!

18 June 2007

Zucchini Carpaccio with Avocado

I read about this recipe in a New York Times article about Patricia Wells, an "American to whom Americans (and often the French as well) turn when they want to know about French food, one of the few nonchef icons in the world of good cooking."
I made it and it is absolutely delicious, very summery and refreshing.
Check out the New York Times article

Zucchini Carpaccio With Avocado

Time: 10 minutes, + 30 - 60 minutes’ marinating
1 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp fine sea salt, plus additional as needed
1/4 c. olive oil
4 small zucchini, trimmed
1 ripe avocado, peeled and very thinly sliced
1/4 cup salted pistachio nuts
4 sprigs lemon thyme, preferably with flowers. (I used regular thyme, and it worked just fine)

1. Stir together lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt in small jar. Add oil, cover and shake to blend.
2. Slice zucchini lengthwise as thinly as possible. Spread slices on platter and drizzle with lemon mixture. Tilt platter to evenly coat slices. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour.
3. Alternate zucchini and avocado slices, slightly overlapping each slice. Sprinkle with pistachio nuts. Season with salt to taste, garnish with lemon thyme, and serve.
Yield: 4 servings.

16 June 2007

Spicy Chickpeas

If you are looking for a yummy yet easy and fast dinner option, look no further. This dish is great served over rice or quinoa. I also like to throw together a simple watercress salad (watercress, lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic salt).

2 T olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 t ground coriander
1/2 t ground cumin
1/8 t cayenne
1/8 t turmeric
1 (15 oz. can chickpeas)
rinsed & drained
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t salt
1 T lemon juice
2 T chopped cilantro

Add chopped onion to hot olive oil and stir fry for a bit. Then add chickpeas and cook until tender and warm. In the meantime, you can add the spices in any order. I add the lemon juice and chopped cilantro at the last minute, right before serving. (I usually double or triple this to have leftovers).

15 June 2007

Poem for a dear friend: The Martini

I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I'm under the table,
after four I'm under my host.

-Dorothy Parker

UNREAL Chocolate Cupcakes

These cupcakes are so unbelievably close to (insert *THING* that you find to be one of the best things on earth) that it's UNREAL.
I've been playing around with cupcakes recently and have enjoyed the assembly-line monotony required. It's been fun to experiment with fillings - yes, inserting a smooth surprise on the inside of the cupcake - as well as frostings. If you ask me, it doesn't get much better than pairing these chocolate cakes with a not-too-sweet cream cheese frosting. This combo is what I made for my friend Samantha's birthday (pictured). I tinted the frosting pink with food coloring and topped with a cherry. Or keep it simple and elegant with a swirl of frosting and a fresh (non-poisonous) flower bud from the garden.
I stole the recipe from one of my favorite blog stops on the Internet, the Cupcake Bakeshop by Chocylit. Take a look and prepare to drool. Don't balk at the 8 EGGS - it's the souffle-like results that make this recipe a winner. Promise me you'll try one as it comes out of the oven: it will melt in your mouth and you'll be overcome with happiness.

Chocolate Cupcakes
24 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven
200 gram bar of Valrhona 61% cacao
3 sticks butter
2-1/4 cups sugar
8 eggs
1-1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt

1. Chop chocolate and transfer into the bowl of a standing mixer.
2. Add butter to the chocolate and place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir until chocolate melts and butter is combined.
3. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Let mixture cool for 10 minutes.
4. Beat in an electric mixer for 3 minutes.
5. Add one egg at a time, mixing for 30 seconds between each
6. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and a pinch of salt into the mixture and mix until blended.
7. Scoop into cupcake cups and bake at 350 F for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

14 June 2007

Mac Not Cheese

The one, the only for those who sometimes want a vegan-ish treat!

1/2 c margarine or butter
1/2 c flour
3 1/2 c boiling water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
dash of tumeric
2 T soy sauce
2 c nutritional yeast
3 1/2 c pasta (any small shape will do)

1. Melt the margarine/butter over low heat on the stove in a medium-sized saucepan. You simultaneously want to get the 3 1/2 c of water boiling in a separate pot. When the margarine/butter melts, whisk in the flour to make what is called a "roux". The roux will be like a thick paste, and you'll want to add your boiling water right away! Add the water and whisk. This mixture should thicken quickly and have a smooth consistency.
2. Start boiling more water in another saucepan for the pasta. (Do I need to explain how to cook it?)
3. Meanwhile, add the salt, garlic powder, tumeric and soy sauce to the saucy mixture. I like whisking throughout the whole process, but you can stir it in however you prefer. Add the nutritional yeast last. Stir well to get the ingredients mixed together.
4. Put the pasta and the sauce together, and ta-da! You've made mac not cheese!
*OPTIONAL* Transfer pasta and sauce to an oven-safe dish, and broil (approx. 500 degrees) in the oven for about five minutes for that baked mac not cheese ambience.
Serves: about 4-6, depending on one's appetite. If you're cooking for one or two people, you can decrease all ingredients by one half.

Gazpacho! or "How To Get Away With Eating Pico de Gallo With a Spoon"

I've been experimenting with gazpacho! As far as I can tell, the only things that differentiate it from pico de gallo, are the celery and cucumber. It's so refreshing and spicy and cold and delicious... and who wouldn't want an exotic excuse to eat pico with a spoon? Here's the recipe I roughly followed:

2 pounds large tomatoes, skinned and halved
1 red bell pepper, seeded, diced
2 chopped peeled cucumbers
1 diced red onion
a few stalks celery, diced
lime juice
diced fresh cilantro
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced or crushed
cayenne pepper
ground cumin

Working over bowl, gently squeeze tomato halves to release seeds and juices. Strain juices, pressing on solids to extract as much juice as possible (about 1/2 cup). Discard seeds. Chop tomatoes. Transfer chopped tomatoes and tomato juices to large glass bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients. Obviously add garlic, lime and spices to taste. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour then chill for another hour or up to a day. Some people blend it too.

my mistakes:
I got distracted while making this and threw in waaaaaaaaaay to much celery. I just got in to some sort of zen chopping mode and didn't stop, and I threw it all in! So my gazpacho was very salad-y. Also, I forgot to save the tomato juice at first and squeezed the tomatos in to the sink. Then i remembered to squeeze them in to a bowl, but it wasn't enough and it didn't turn out very soupy. I added a little water, though, and saved it.

13 June 2007

Great Grandma Kasparian's Perfect Armenian Pilaf

This is a timelessly yummy recipe that I have modified...it's funny because we use to only have it at Christmas since everyone complained about the tedious process, but I found as long as you stick to the rules the first time it's really easy to memorize and then now we eat it all the time at my house...I'll give grandma's first then (mine).
To serve 4 you need:
two pots (one with a tight lid)
1 stick uh butter
2 extra thin vermicelli nests (or 1/4 package of thin spaghetti will do)
2 cups white rice (basmati or for extra ethnic yuminess: WHEAT BULGUR)
2 cups chicken broth (vegetable broth ok but not as yummy)
2 1/4 cups water
dash salt and pepper (I also go crazy with curry powder, garlic, chili powder, paprika and chopped parsley)

(before you do anything, have your 2 cups of rice measured out nearby)

Step 1: Start heating the chicken broth and water to boiling in your extra pot while you do this:
Step 2: Using your tight lid pot, melt the stick of butter and crunch the vermicelli into little peices into it...stir continuously until brown adjusting heat so it doesn't burn.
Step 3: Add your rice to this and stir to coat with butter
Step 4: Then quickly pour the heated chicken broth and water into the rice mixture stir and let it boil for just a bit while you add your spices and stir: salt, pepper, garlic, chili powder etc. (anything!)
Step 5: Seal it with the lid and reduce heat to low for 25minutes exactly. Secret** DO NOT OPEN THE LID FOR ANY REASON TO CHECK THE RICE UNTIL THE 25 MIN. TIMER GOES OFF!!! IT WILL GET GOOEY!!!! Also, the 25 min. rule is the same with any amount of rice etc. even if you double the recipe. The trick is to have the water heated already and then to keep it nice and boiling until you finally put the lid on and lower the heat. It will be perfect.

I had some yummy falafel last night....

I know we all know how to make falafel (out of a box), but I made some yummy yogurt dill sauce to go on my pita sandwich last night that gave it just what it needed. Plus, it's so easy to make.

  • 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 2 TBS dill (as much as you want or can stand)
  • salt & pepper
  • 0ptional: a couple splashes of hot sauce, garlic and a few drops of lemon juice
  • stir
  • (One more thing, I've also had the dill sauce with cucumber and that was really cool, literally, it gave the sauce a cooler taste. In that case grate the cucumber, sprinkle with salt, leave it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes, drain excess water and then mix in the remaining ingredients . Explore.)
Another key part in having a great pita sandwich is veggies.... lots of veggies: carrots, spinach, radishes, cucumber, onion, tomato, etc. Also, don't forget the hummus.

"We've seen burger days..."

Thanks for the pictures, Jill! Emilio talked about that burger night for a whole month! Mark should post some of his famous burger tips!

12 June 2007

Landlubber's Delite...or what make for lunch when you're stuck in South Texas instead of tropical paradise

So what do you make for dinner when you've invited a friend over that you haven't seen in a million years and your house is so small you'll have to eat outside, it's 93 degrees and buggy?! This is precisely the conundrum I've found myself in this week, and I think I've come up with a solution...I will call it Landlubber's Delite, but you can call it crab salad. It's one of those recipes that's been in the familia for years and is much beloved for its spicy deliciousness.

Landlubber's Delite

2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
4 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp. lime juice
3/4 lb. crabmeat (fresh lump or even the fake stuff made out of fish if you're landlocked like I am)
3/4 cup finely chopped celery (including the heart and inner leaves if you can get to it)
1/4 cup minced red onion (optional for onion haters)
2 tsp. minced jalepeno (or to taste)
1 tsp. minced peeled ginger
salt & pepper to taste

Whisk together liquids. Add all the rest of the ingredients and season with salt & pepper. This salad improves after sitting in the fridge for a while or even a day or two- the flavors have a chance to meld. It's great served on top of salad greens, with some crackers, or scooped into a toasted pita.


photo forthcoming...

Sgroppino al Limone

Thank God it's sgroppino season again!
Some of you have previously had the privilege of tasting this after-dinner or pool-side treat. It's a venetian recipe, and I first had it when Emilio and I went to Venice for a weekend about 2 years ago. It was in this funky restaurant off some dark alley, and they brought out all the ingredients in a bowl and whisked it up right at our table.

2 cups (16 oz) lemon sorbet, softened
1 shot vodka (or more, to taste)
1/3 cup prosecco
4 Tbsp cream or half-and-half

Chill 4 to 6 champagne flutes. In a bowl, whisk lemon sorbet until smooth. Gradually whisk in vodka, cream and Prosecco. (You may also mix everything in a blender.) Pour mixture into a pitcher and serve immediately in chilled champagne flutes. It will separate if left standing, so make one batch at a time and consume right away. Serves 4 to 6, but I dare you to try to stop after just one glass.

How to make my favorite cereal

1 bowl Go Lean Crunch with almonds
1 cup plain soymilk
1 spoon

Eat lazily while reading catalogs.

11 June 2007

Please Contribute!

Hi Everyone!
Welcome to our cooking blog! I just realized how many fabulous cooks I know, and I would love to funnel all that food energy! I have made you all administrators, so you can post recipes, share dinner-party success and disaster stories, and basically, just KEEP IN TOUCH! Please let me know about the new Quinoa salad you discovered yesterday, or about that gooey brownie recipe that's ruining your life! Share! Please! If you would like to post but you are having trouble, contact me and I will add you.