Thursday, February 26, 2009

Fishity Fish Fish Fish.

I like fish. I bought a large jar of pickled herring from Costco last time we were there, and it makes me sad that the MD Costco doesn't carry whole smoked whitefish like the one in NY. Courtesy of watching my dad many Saturday/Sunday mornings taking apart whole whitefish throughout the course of my life, I make my own smoked whitefish salad which, if I may be so bold to say, is significantly superior to store-bought varieties.

(How to make whitefish salad: buy appropriate poundage of smoked whitefish. Remove meat, throw in tupperware. Add mayonnaise - Hellman's, you fools! Nothing but Hellman's! Mix. Put on real fresh bagel - toasting optional - with cucumber slices. Revel in the smoky, fishy, chewy, creamy, crunchy, cucumbery goodness.)

For ocasional fresh fish treats, Danny and I go with Trader Joe's frozen offerings. We've sampled their tuna (sear it after a quick marinade in soy, garlic, and ginger, include the ginger and garlic in the pan; it is excellent on salads or anything else), wild salmon, and sole.

With the salmon, I sliced kumquats (a seasonal treat currently available at TJ's! Woohoo!), garlic, salt, and pepper over the 2 fillets, each with a sprig of rosemary, and stuck them in a very hot broiler until they were just done. We ate them with sliced tomatoes topped with a few rogue kumquat slices, balsamic vinegar, and a bit of olive oil and some coconut rice and beans.

(The coconut rice and beans is very easy. For 1 meal for 2 people, take 1 cup of rice, 1 can of coconut milk in a measuring cup, and filling the difference with water, make sure you get 2 cups of liquid. Put rice and liquid in a pot, and add 1/2-1 can of drained and lightly rinsed black beans. Top with a little salt, maybe some allspice, and cover. Heat and boil until the level of liquid is below the top of the rice, turn heat on low, cover, and let it steam. Don't let it burn. Eat when soft.)

Actually, the nice thing about kumquats is their flesh is extremely tart so there's no need for lemon juice to counteract fishiness, but the peel is very very sweet. So when you cook them, there's virtually no bitterness. Also, a lot of the sour goes away with cooking. And you still get crazy amounts of citrus flavor because you leave the peel on and you're supposed to eat the whole thing. It was such a Carribbean-meets-Mediterranean flavor combination, it made the grey February go away because it tasted like sunshine. The tomatoes, the coconut, the fish, and the citrus... mm-mm.

You know, kumquats are an amazing ingredient because you get a huge amount of tangy, sweet, and flavor all in one easily handled fruit. All you need to do is wash, slice, and make sure you get [most of] the pits out. No peeling, no hard carapace, no equipment needed to access the yumminess, and no shells. Besides, the fewer ingredients required to make something that tastes awesome, the better.

Anyway, back to the fish. The sole. Danny was craving something fried, so we decided to fry the sole. The fail-safe breading procedure is flour-egg-bread crumbs. We used panko, and the beauty of that style of breading is whatever you're frying, be it eggplant or fish, doesn't absorb excessive oil. I mean, obviously you're frying something and when you eat it you're going to say, "oohhhhh yeah, fried whatever-it-is," but it doesn't get gratuitously grease-logged and nasty. So it was Danny's turn, and he fried the fish to perfection. Olive oil was fine here. We had the leftover rice from our salmon feast, and Danny made this garlic tomato chipotle sauce. Sautee ~2-3 cloves of garlic a little bit, dump in a large can of peeled whole tomatoes, reduce by ~1/2 (the tomatoes will fall apart by then), and kill the flame. Put 1 chipotle en adobo in the food processor, dump the tomatoes in, and food process. Obviously, if you like the smoky heat, use more chipotles. I put fish, a small heap of rice and beans, and a pile of thawed frozen spinach on my plate with a huge glob of sauce in the middle. I kind of dragged everything through the sauce, and it took the whole meal south of the border.

Very satisfying. Very delicious. And I got my omega 3's. So, fish. From Eastern Europe to the Mediterranean to the American southwest/Mexico by way of the Carribbean. :)

Sunday, February 15, 2009


I am currently eating some of the most boring food ever because I'm on a crazy antibiotic.  I have been eating lots of yogurt in an attempt to keep my gut bacteria maybe less than completely dead, chicken soup because, well, it makes you better even though no one knows why, saltines to try to glue the very liquid contents of my GI together, bananas, and the occasional cheese and tomato sandwich on bread.  

Scrambled eggs are as greasy as I can go right now.  Danny made waffles for breakfast the other day, but I couldn't handle straight maple syrup on them.  So I got a bunch of yogurt, mixed a bit of maple syrup in for the flavor, and dipped the waffles in.  It was surprisingly tasty!  ....or my palate is just that bored...

Oh, does cough syrup count?  Been taking a lot of that lately, too.  

Monday, February 9, 2009

Weird Noodly Things

So we tried the bizarre lasagna last night!

First, I roasted a whole ton of carrot and parsnip slices after coating them in a haphazard mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and honey. I roasted them at 400 F giving them a stir every 15 min or so until they were soft and kind of caramelized. They were very tasty by themselves.

Then I took most of a tub full of ricotta cheese (a bit less than 1 lb), half a log of goat cheese (roughly... er... maybe half a pound? I totally forget how much one large log of it from Trader Joe's weighs. Basically, I added it and smooshed everything together until it tasted enough like goat cheese to make me happy), and one egg and mixed it up. Then I took 3 cloves of garlic, a handful of sage leaves, and some rosemary, and processed that into a pseudo-pesto with the help of a small handful of walnuts and olive oil.

Following that, Danny and I had an argument over whether we should pre-boil the lasagna noodles. We ended up boiling them. Then we layered noodles, veggies, and gobs of pesto and cheese in that order until we ran out, grated parmesan over the whole deal, and baked it at 350 F.

The verdict? It is very tasty. It's not perfect, though. It needs more filling, and the filling needs more liquid. I suppose I should have used cream somewhere, or something like that, but I like finding balance between gratuitously unhealthy things and things I can eat in good conscience on a regular basis that don't become "treat" foods.

Because then everything becomes a treat, and then what do you have left for special occasions?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Vegetables! In pancake form!

Yesterday I finished my work early (fluorescence experiments are short periods of intense work, but they are far superior to plating because they don't take 3 days) so I went to Trader Joe's in search of vegetables in the late afternoon.

TJ's delivered! Sometimes their produce is sad and wilted and I get angry that they prepackage it so I can't root through it to pick out the good stuff, but yesterday I scored some awesome broccoli and eggplants. The broccoli florets were all green, perky, and tightly packed, and the stems weren't funky and brown on the bottoms, so I got 3 bunches. This seems like a lot, but it really isn't the way Danny and I eat. I chopped off the florets to bag en masse for stirfries, steaming, etc. And the stalks were left. When I was a kid, I liked the broccoli stalks more than the florets. I think it was a texture thing, but Danny doesn't like them at all. But dude! They're perfectly good broccoli stalks! I can't throw them out.

So, I went back to a veggie tactic from my mom's bag of tricks, cracked my Food Processor Bible to check ingredient ratios, and made broccoli pancakes or latkes, depending on what side of the Judeo-Christian divide you subscribe to. The basic recipe is as follows:

- 2 c shredded veggies (like ~6 carrots, ~6 broccoli stalks, etc).
- 1 medium onion
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 c flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- salt and pepper
- oil for frying

First, shred whatever veggie or combination thereof in the food processor, and take it out. Then put the blade in and toss in the onion. Process until it's in small bits. Throw the rest of the ingredients in (except the oil), including the shredded veggies, and process until blended. It should be somewhat chunky. Heat up a pan with some oil, and with the flame on medium, drop them in with a spoon, flattening them a bit with the spoon. Cook like 2-3 min per side, roughly speaking, until they're browned.

So, use whatever vegetable combination you want. The broccoli ones seem like they'd taste good with a teriyaki-like dipping sauce... some combination of soy, ginger, garlic, and sweet/tangy. The basic flavor is gentle and sweet from the onion cooking with (obviously) whatever vegetable you added. It would take to a light addition of herbs very well.

These ended up taking the place of the risotto last night with the roast chicken and some of the broccoli florets, lightly steamed. It was a broccolicentric meal, and it was delicious.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Upcoming experiment...

I am planning an upcoming experiment not involving E. coli, osmotic shock, fluorescence, and mechanosensitive channels! Can I get a what what?

I will experiment most likely on Sunday. This experiment will involve roasted root vegetables (parsnips and carrots) in a lasagna of sorts, probably with some herby pesto-ish thing in place of tomato sauce, and cheese. Danny and I are thinking provolone, because Costco sells big things of it. I keep making the same things over and over again, and I need to explore alternatives. Roasted root veggie lasagna seems like a good idea.

Tonight, however, is roast chicken, and Danny's going to make mushroom risotto. I think I may stop to pick up a veggie. Broccoli? Sauteed greens with garlic? The real question should be "What's on sale?"

Monday, February 2, 2009


When I was a kid, I hated oatmeal, which was reserved for cold weather breakfast. I liked being full for the whole day and warm, but I hated the stuff. It was glorpy and rubbery and lumpy. Ecch. The only way I liked it was when there were chocolate chips melted into it (which was only a weekend treat, so I was pretty much screwed for the rest of the week). I would swallow it down as fast as possible (because I was always hungry and was never one for hunger strikes) and catch the bus.

But with age comes tolerance and from tolerance comes appreciation. I would honestly prefer leftover curry or shakshouka for breakfast than oatmeal, but that's just not a regular option. So I started making my own oatmeal packets. I have a thing of soymilk at work in the fridge. I fill a little sandwich bag with an approximate 1/2 cup of oatmeal, some brown sugar, and cinnamon. We have a thing of frozen cherries so I've been putting those in a different bag, but when I run out, raisins or whatever dried thing we've got will be my fruit of choice.

Then I nuke it. Actually, that makes it sound easier than it is. We have a Large Hadron Collider strength microwave that is completely out of control. You can't even see in the door, so you can't tell when it's starting to boil over. The invisibility might be intentional since one might go blind if you look the microwave in the eye. And even if you think you've changed the power level, it doesn't necesarily mean it'll be at a lower setting than Destructinate. I'm not sure if I'm inept, the microwave is possessed, or the microwave is broken. I have a feeling it's a combination of all three with particular emphasis on the first.

But once you get over pausing it every thirty seconds to poke at it with a spoon, let the bubbling lava settle back into the bowl, and not ooze all over the place, it's actually very nice and convenient. I get to determine how sweet/spiced/fruity my glop is, and I get it piping hot first thing in the morning. And I don't drag around wild-eyed and irritable because I'm hungry.

So screw the over-sugared Quaker oatmeal packets. Make your own. They're better.