Monthly Archives: February 2012
Sometimes, things get a little too spicy in the kitchen. Like, too spicy for even the pepper.
So how do you cool things down when it heats up? I’ve got some suggestions on cutting the spiciness of a dish:
- Add fat: Things like sour cream or avocado help cut the spice. These two work especially well for chili. I made a Chipotle Black Bean Chili that made you tear up just by smelling it, so I added peanut butter and Mexican Crema. Then I loaded cheese and avocado on top. Then I gained 50 pounds.
- Add sugar: Sugar can cut through the heat and works well in certain types of cuisine, like Thai. You can make a gastrique with vinegar and sugar and add that to your dish to help balance it out. Carrots are also known to take heat away. Make a carrot puree and add it to your soup or chili and their sweetness will counteract the spiciness.
- Add contents: You can help dilute the spice by adding more ingredients. Add more protein, beans, rice,vegetables, etc. and say no to more seasoning.
And a bonus tip? Try your hardest to slowly add things, like spice. It’s much easier to add than to take away, so season with your spices and taste. If it needs more heat, add it little by little, tasting each time. The same rule goes for when you’re putting your ingredients in to cool it down.
But don’t cool your food down too much. Spicy food is good for you (generally speaking) and can help suppress appetites!
Did anyone notice that yesterday’s sneak peek was my pasta drying rack?
Yes, I finally made homemade pasta and concocted this seemingly-weird recipe with it.
My parents and SO were super skeptical about this dish, whether it was for the pasta or the contents, I’m not sure. But let me tell you that it turned out so very good.
I made this dish for the Oscars, so I made sure to make it as rich as I possibly could, without it turning into a Scientologist.
But really, it’s a super rich and heavy dish, so you only need a small plateful to feel satisfied.
I roasted the cauliflower to make it sweet and crunchy and I toasted the pine nuts on the stove to get them buttery and nutty. I made a creamy browned butter sauce to drizzle on top and the green olives added some acidity and bite to the otherwise heavy dish.
You don’t have to use homemade pasta, but I did and I’ll show you how the making of it all went down on Friday. Hint: It was super fun.
Fettuccine with Roasted Cauliflower, Olives and Pine Nuts in Creamy Browned Butter Sauce
- 1 pound of fettuccine pasta
- 1 head of cauliflower
- 1-2 Tbsp. EVOO
- Seasoned Salt
- 12 green olives
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 6 Tbsp. butter
- 3 Tbsp. cream
- 1 Tbsp. grated Pecorino, plus more for garnish
- dried parsley, optional
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Cut the cauliflower into 1/2-inch or 1-inch florets. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and add the cauliflower. Drizzle with EVOO and season with the seasoned salt.
- Roast in oven for about 45 minutes, or until cauliflower is browned and caramelized.
- Meanwhile, in a small, dry pan, toast the pine nuts over low heat until lightly browned. Be careful to watch them closely as nuts go from perfectly browned to burnt in a matter of seconds. Set aside.
- Pit the olives (take a chef’s knife and turn it to its side, like you were going to smash garlic. Give it one good hard whack. The pit should pop out of the olive.) and roughly chop. Set aside.
- In a big pot of boiling, salted water, cook pasta according to directions.
- In a small pan (use the same one you used for your pine nuts), slowly melt the 6 Tbsp. of butter over low-medium heat. Add some dried parsley to it for color and cook until medium to deep brown. Click here for more instruction.
- Once the butter has browned, slowly whisk in the 3 Tbsp. of cream. Whisk, whisk, whisk until it has combined. This will take about 3-5 minutes. Add 1 Tbsp. of Pecorino to it and whisk again.
- Divide the pasta into four portions and evenly divide the cauliflower, olives and browned butter sauce. Toss to coat each plate.
- Top with pine nuts and extra Pecorino.
Tips and Variations
- Don’t like olives? While I’m not sure if we can still be friends, I’ll suggest you squirt some fresh lemon juice on the end result to brighten up your dish.
- Try this with roasted broccoli for more color.
- Use toasted pecans for a different flavor profile.
- Use Parmesan instead of Pecorino.
- Use goat cheese to top it off.
- Add some roasted red peppers.
Today’s post was supposed to be about my adventures in pasta making, but that’s going to wait until next week (Virtual apology to Stacy Z. over in Sweden!)
The reason why pasta is being put on hold is because I experienced something this week. I think it’s called nirvana, but I can’t be sure since my dictionary is M.I.A. (missing in action, not the entertainer who loves flipping the bird).
Anyway, you know how thankful I am for Pinterest, right? Well, I came across a homemade Cheez-It pin, went to the original blog where it was posted and thought, “I can, like, totally do this!” My thoughts are all in Valley-girl dialect. I don’t make the rules.
My friend Kate volunteered to be taste-tester and fellow Cheez-It maker, so on Monday, we used her awesome kitchen (check out the granite counter tops below) and made Cheez-Its. From scratch. And they.were.nirvana.
Everyone loves Cheez-Its right? Everyone else here can finish off a box in one sitting? Everyone reading this also loves licking their fingers after eating the white cheddar ones? Ok, whew!
Kate and I both have an aggressive affinity for white cheddar cheez-its. Like, if there’s a box hidden in the room, we can sniff it out. And fight to the death à la Hunger Games for it. So we used aged white cheddar cheese with a bit of regular sharp cheddar thrown in.
After you combine all your ingredients, which are really just cheese, flour, butter and milk, you roll out the dough and cut some 1×1 inch squares.
Kate punched cute little holes in the center with a skewer and then we baked them.
The first batched looked beautiful. But they were more like a flaky, puffy biscuit than a crunchy cracker used for after-school snacks…
So we burned the next batch.
And it was an accidental triumph. You know when you reach in the Cheez-It box and happen to pull out a slightly browned Cheez-It and you eat it as quickly as humanly possible so the person you’re eating Cheez-Its with doesn’t see it and steal it? Well, it’s like we made a whole batch of those ones so everyone could get in on the action.
Are you guys swooning yet? The first one Kate tried, she tasted it, nodded her head with a smile and said “Cheez-It!”
Make a batch (no, make 4) this weekend. They’re super, super easy and twice as yummy. Plus, no preservatives.
Only downside is, there’s no cheese dust to lick off your fingers.
And for your weekend pleasure:
If you live in SD or know someone that does, you’ve probably heard of D.Z. Akins.
And if you haven’t, well, consider your life blessed after reading this.
D.Z. (as the locals like to call it) is a Jewish bakery, deli and restaurant. It’s got all the Jewish classics: Cheese blintzes, lox, borscht, latkes, chopped liver, potato knishes. They make their own pastrami and corned beef hash. Their matzo ball soup is extremely comforting.
We went for breakfast and unfortunately, our variety wasn’t very…varietal. Three of us had the Avocado Mushroom and Jack Cheese Omelet with their homefries (which are, by the way, the best homefries you will ever taste. In your entire life. Seriously.)
See that big bulge under the cheese? That’s 3/4 of an avocado. Oh yeah, D.Z. is giving Denny’s and IHOP a run for their money.
I wish I would’ve had the common sense to take a picture of the outside, but my grumbling stomach and the smell of freshly-baked rugelach distracted me. If you happen to visit D.Z. Akins, you’ll understand this type of diversion and completely forgive me for being an airhead. Here’s a picture of me and my SO instead.
Another great thing about this place? They’ve got unlimited homemade pickles waiting at the table for you. WAITING. To be eaten. By you. For free. Sprinkle some salt on those suckers and go to town while you wait for your feast.
If you go to D.Z. (and you will), get a garlic bagel with your meal, with schmear of course, and buy a treat or two from the bakery when you check out. Then come comment on here and thank me for being thankful for this Jewish establishment in the heart of San Diego.
D.Z. Akins is located at 6930 Alvarado Rd., right next to an audio book store. It’s huge. You can’t miss it. Thanks, D.Z. for churning out awesome homemade food that satisfies my belly. You are the reason I love food so much.
Garlic sure is tasty, but preparing it can be irritating. My mom always used prepared garlic growing up, sparing herself the hassle, but I’m a fan of all-things fresh.
Here are some easy ways to peel the stubborn cloves:
Microwave: Pop your required cloves in the micro for 5 seconds and watch the peels slip right off. Careful though—if they spend too long in there they pop around like popcorn and get too hot and mushy to cut.
Chef’s knife: This is the classic way. Just turn your chef’s knife on its side and smash it down with your palm on top of the garlic. The peel will slide off.
Shake it up: If you’ve got lots of garlic to peel, break up the bulb, put it in a stainless steel bowl, put another bowl on top of it and shake it like a polaroid picture (OutKast-style) for 10 seconds. Your garlic will be wonderfully naked when you’re done. Like here:
Tell me, how do you guys peel your garlic?
Sometimes, breakfast for dinner sounds really good. It was especially appealing when I was 9 years old and extremely picky. What kid wouldn’t want pancakes and bacon for dinner on a weeknight?!
This meal isn’t necessarily confined to the “breakfast” category, but it can be used for any meal in the day.
The hummus and egg provide some protein, the bellpepper some crunch, the spinach some folate and the multi-grain muffin some healthy carbs for anyone who’s hosting Aunt Flow for the week.
The Gruyere on top is just cause we can’t make things too healthy. Decadence keeps us sane, ladies and gents.
The best part about this dish is scooping up all the runny yolk at the end with your leftover bits of English muffin with hummus—the combo is extraordinary!
You can easily swap out the English muffin (if you’re not a fan of nooks and crannies) for a whole wheat pita or tortilla and make it a wrap. Nix the spinach and opt for spicy arugula. Use a red or orange bell pepper for more color. Forget the Gruyere and add cheddar. Add avocado. Sprinkle with capers. Make this dish your own.
- 1 multi-grain or whole wheat English muffin
- 2 Tbsp. your favorite hummus (I like pine nut)
- 2 slices of bell pepper, kept in rings
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup spinach, divided
- 1/4 cup gruyere, shredded
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- The How-To
- Place the pepper rings in a greased pan (with butter or cooking spray). Over medium-high heat, crack eggs into each ring and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Cook eggs to desired doneness (I like over-medium).
- When the eggs are just about done, top them with the cheese and spinach, turn the heat off, and cover the pan to slightly wilt the spinach.
- Meanwhile, toast the English muffins and spread each half with 1 Tbsp. of the hummus.
- Top the English muffins with the bell pepper/egg and spinach.*
- Take a bite. Sigh. Take another bite.
*Note: I finished mine off with some hot sauce (Tabasco). If you like spice, I highly recommend doing this, as it enhances the dish’s flavor.
I took some close friends of mine to one of my favorite SD restaurants for breakfast. Here’s a look at our feast:
I’ll feature it in Thankful Thursday with a lil’ review. Anyone familiar with the SD dining scene wanna take a guess at where we stuffed our faces?