Tuesday, February 25, 2014

start the day early

Don't let the photo fool you. When you poach fish in olive oil, no Instagram filter can help you remove that sheen. It tastes better than it looks, trust me.

Some of the issue (not that it's an actual issue), is that my halibut fillets were super thin - only about 3/4ths of an inch. A more hefty fillet would have the time to nicely sear as directed in the original recipe, and be absolutely more photogenic. However, with these cooking so quickly, I decided to poach them so they get the maximum flavor from the infused oil without spending quite as much time in the pan.

Do note that you have to allow time for the oil to steep - I started mine this morning, because frankly, I fell asleep in front of the TV last night after a full-on Pudding Truck food coma, and couldn't bear a stovetop detour before going to actual bed. Thankfully, bringing a cup of oil to near-boil takes little to no time - I did it while doing the dishes I also didn't do last night - and then, while you're toiling away at work, your olive oil becomes a ginger-y and lemongrass-y delight. That you can then make dinner in about 5 minutes with.

Fennel-Infused Olive Oil-Poached Halibut
slightly adapted from Saveur
serves 2

For the infused oil:
Peel of 1 orange, cut into large strips
3 whole stalks lemongrass, trimmed and chopped
1 3" piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
½ bulb fennel, cored and thinly sliced
1 c. olive oil

For the fish:
1 lb. halibut fillets
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Combine the orange peel, lemongrass, ginger, chopped fennel, and oil in a small pan. Bring to a near boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat, cover, and steep overnight. Strain and reserve oil.

2. Season the fish with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat 6 T. of the infused oil over high heat and sear fish on both sides until done to your liking. Serve immediately.

Monday, February 24, 2014

never enough

"Oh my God, this is so gross. You have to try it!"

With the most fleeting of thoughts flashing through my brain of if-you-were-my-friend-why-would-you-want-me-to-try-something-gross, I'm the girl that reaches over to see for herself. Sure, there's some snobbery involved (my mental justification being I'm-sure-I'd-like-it-since-my-palate-is-more-sophisticated-than-yours-wow-I'm-an-asshole-for-thinking-that-even-to-myself), but for better or worse, I don't like being told how I'm supposed to feel. Luckily, the regrets from living this way have been outweighed by the horizon-expanding experiences.

(Sorry, I've been listening to a slew of new music that has created some very introspective times. Not like I would ever be able to pick it back up if I were to drop it like it's hot these days, but can I please have a song to dance like an idiot to? I'm over this faux depression).

Anyway, back to why you come here - the food. So unfortunately, I didn't eat uni for a long time because the only response I've ever had to it is that it's gross. I honestly can't remember if I've even had it before I went for it at the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo last year. If I did, that transcendent experience surely erased any previous memories of having the stuff.

I'm been on an uni-eating rampage ever since. The latest iteration was via a special uni pasta at Terroni. What? Uni and spaghetti? Say no more.

Since that fine evening, I've dreamed of making my own. And when I found out that a nearby Asian grocery store carried fresh uni, a plan was devised. Recipes were researched. I ended up going with the very first Google result for "uni spaghetti" - from the basically perfect blog Spoon Fork Bacon.

Sadly, I was looking for something much saucier, so below is what I would try next time - halving the amount of pasta called for. In hindsight, I could have saved myself from that problem by just adding pasta a bit at a time to the sauce instead of jumping both feet first and dumping the sauce on the whole pile of spaghetti.

I'm sure there's a life lesson in there as well, but this was still pretty tasty, so I'm going back for seconds while pondering if there's such a thing as "too soon" to try another recipe. (Eric Ripert, you wouldn't ever steer me wrong, would you?)

Uni Spaghetti
slightly adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon
serves 4

8 oz. spaghetti
4 oz. uni
3 T. heavy cream
4 T. unsalted butter, melted
salt and pepper to taste
a few sprinkles of shredded nori for garnish

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta to al dente. Set aside.

2. In a food processor, puree the uni and cream together until smooth. Strain the mixture and whisk in the unsalted butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Pour the sauce over the pasta and toss to coat. Garnish with nori and serve immediately.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

cause a stir

I think I've talked about my food grid before. It's my delightfully OCD way of keeping track of all of your food allergies and dislikes so that I can make sure you enjoy your dinner party experience at my house.

I'm actually on V2.0 because somehow my original list got swallowed up by technology - when I opened it up, I realized that two of my very best gal pals from times as awkward as high school and barely-legal clubbing were not on the list!

However, it is now noted that Monique is sensitive to spicy foods, and Julie doesn't like mushrooms or olives, and I have to invite her to my next Feast of the Seven Fishes for her to try to find one she might like.

Add to that the girl who is my best friend even though she doesn't eat cheese, and a new friend who is vegan, and the fires of my love for a good culinary challenge were flamed.

I thought about doing a pasta bar since I already had red pepper hazelnut pesto (vegan) in the fridge, and could probably come up with a nice bolognese for the omnivores as well as a couple other options, but I happen to be doing really well in training this week, and even though I am wadding from the torture of doing all the squats in the world yesterday, I'm trying to use the tremors as a reminder that all the squats in the world do not entitle me to all the pasta in the world.

So, let's do a polenta bar, instead!

It can be argued that polenta isn't that much better than pasta for my specific concerns, but although I adore polenta, I can portion-control it better than pasta. I can sit and eat an entire pound of pasta if given the opportunity. It's a not a brag; it's a shameful, shameful confession.

But let's think happy thoughts. Polenta = gluten-free. Coconut milk = calories and fat, but not the kind you get in milk and cheese. Here's my favorite recipe.

Coconut Polenta
serves 8

2 14-oz. cans coconut milk
3 c. fine cornmeal
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Pour both cans of coconut milk into a large heavy-bottomed pot. Take one of the empty cans, and fill it four times with water and add to the pot. Bring to a boil.

2. Slowly add the cornmeal, and whisk thoroughly to prevent any clumping. Continue to cook, whisking frequently, until the mixture is thickened to your liking. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve immediately, or keep warm over a very low flame.

Now, let's start with the vegan bits (so we're going to be going counter-clockwise from 9 o'clock in that photo above. The first was a very simple spring sauté inspired by My New Roots - asparagus, rapini, leeks and fresh peas sauteed in walnut oil until they gave only slightly. The whole point was to balance out the other braises. This will make an excellent cold salad with some smoked salmon tomorrow. I'm stoked.

The vegan braise was a Black Bean Mole with Butternut Squash + Kale. It was stupendous. I altered the recipe to reflect stovetop cooking as my oven was otherwise occupied, but I don't think the dish suffered. I could have gone more chocolate-y, and maybe smoked paprika next time instead of regular paprika, but I thought the earthy black beans were a great complement to the sweet squash and kale.

Black Bean Mole with Butternut Squash + Kale
slightly adapted from 101 Cookbooks
serves 8

2 T. olive oil
12 oz. butternut squash, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
2 jalapeno chiles, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 14-oz. cans of black beans, drained
3.5 oz. kale, sliced
1 14-oz. can of diced tomatoes with their juice
2 t. paprika
1 oz. almonds, toasted and ground
2 oz. 70% dark chocolate, broken into pieces
1 c. vegetable broth
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot until shimmering. Add the butternut squash, onions and jalapenos, and saute until onions are caramelized. Add the garlic, and cook for 3 more minutes.

2. Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer gently for an hour. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.

The omnivore favorite was the short rib ragu. I mean, I could have told you that before anyone came over. It's a million ingredients, but all fairly manageable if you take the time for a mise en place. Completely worth the effort and time, especially if you live in a place where it's actually winter since the oven is on for 3 hours!

Short Rib Ragu
slightly adapted from Serious Eats
serves 8

4 lbs. short ribs
salt and pepper
1 T. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 T. tomato paste
1 T. fish sauce
half a 750-ml bottle red wine
1 (14-oz.) can diced tomatoes, with their juices
1 T. Dijon mustard
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
1 t. dried thyme
1 t. dried oregano
3 bay leaves
4 c. chicken broth

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Season the ribs well with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof heavy pot over medium heat until shimmering. Brown the ribs in batches for 2 to 3 minutes per side; set aside.

3. Sauté the onion, carrots, and celery in the same pot until soft. Add the garlic, and stir until fragrant. Create a hot spot in the pot by moving the vegetables aside, leaving about a 3-inch circle bare. Add the tomato paste and fish sauce to the hot spot, and stir vigorously until caramelized, then stir this mixture into the vegetables.

4. Add the red wine to deglaze the pot and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the tomatoes, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and herbs. Add the ribs back to the pot, then add enough chicken stock so the ribs are nearly covered.

5. Bring the liquid to a boil, then cover tightly and braise in the oven for at least 3 hours, or until the ribs are fall-apart tender.

6. Remove the ribs from the braising liquid and set aside until cool enough to handle. When the ribs have cooled, remove and discard the bones and any large pieces of fat. Shred the beef and return it to the pot. Let cool to room temperature, skimming any large pools of fat from the surface, and refrigerate overnight. Reheat gently before serving.

And a dark horse of a braise - I'm not the biggest fan of chicken if it doesn't come fried and/or slathered in Frank's Red Hot, but everything about this was delicious. I didn't make the pear topping because I thought my crowd would find it weird in combination with everything else, but there was a little bit of pear essence laced in the chicken itself from the stuffing. It was enough to elevate just plain ol' chicken to something more pleasant.

Whole Chicken Braised with Pears + Rosemary
slightly adapted from Molly Stevens' All About Braising
serves 4

one 4-lb. chicken, giblets removed
salt and pepper
1 Bosc pear, cut into quarters
three 3-inch rosemary sprigs
2 T. butter, divided
1 T. olive oil
1 1/2 c. finely chopped leek, white and pale green parts only
1/4 c. finely chopped shallots
1/4 c. dry white wine
1/2 c. chicken stock
1 T. white wine vinegar

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

2. Dry the chicken inside and out with paper towels. Season the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. Stuff the chicken with the pear quarters and 2 rosemary sprigs. Tie the two drumsticks together and set aside.

3. Heat 1 T. of butter and the olive oil in a medium ovenproof pot. When the butter stops foaming, lower the chicken breast side-down, and brown it without disturbing for about 4 minutes. Continue browning the chicken on all 4 sides, 12 to 18 minutes total. Remove the chicken to a large plate, and set aside.

4. Pour off the fat from the pot and discard. Wipe out any burnt specks from the bottom of the pan with a paper towel. Return the pot to medium heat, and add the remaining butter. Add the leek, shallots and remaining rosemary sprig, season to taste with salt and pepper, and saute until the vegetables have softened, about 7 minutes. Pour in the wine, and bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Add the stock and white wine vinegar, and boil for 2 more minutes.

5. Return the chicken to the pot, along with any juices that have seeped out on to the plate. Cover the chicken with parchment paper, and set the lid in place. Braise in the lower third of the oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted between the breast and thigh reads 170 degrees, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Baste every 20 minutes.

6. Carve the chicken and return to the pot. Stir well and serve.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

i need this

Tonight is all about staples. Asian-y staples, but staples nonetheless.

The first - crab cakes. Always a nice appetizer, a must-have course for a Feast of the Seven Fishes, or just good to have as an entree with a salad as we did tonight. And this crab cake recipe is the one to end all crab cake recipes. The genius of it lies in using pureed shrimp as the binder rather than eggs. I love eggs, but I'm rather sensitive to them as a binder - I feel they turn everything into an omelette. No such issue here. Just fresh, light, purely seafood cakes, flavored up with some of my favorite flavors - lemongrass and shiso. The original recipe was green curry-inspired, with galangal and kaffir lime leaves, but I had no luck tracking those down, so I went the route I did below. I would like to try throwing in some green curry paste at another time now that I know how well the method works.

Lemongrass Crab Cakes
slightly adapted from Marc Matsumoto
makes 10

1 lb. canned premium lump crab meat
1 1/2 oz. lemongrass, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 large shiso leaves
1 medium jalapeno, seeded
1/2 lb. shrimp
1/3 c. coconut cream
1 c. panko, divided
oil for frying

1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the lemongrass, garlic, shiso, jalapeño, shrimp and coconut cream. Process until they form a smooth paste.

2. In a large bowl, combine the shrimp paste with the crab and 2/3 c. panko. Gently mix together until combined, being careful not to break up the chunks of crab.

3. Make 10 balls with the mixture (approximately 3 oz. each), and flatten them to form 3/4" thick cakes.
Put the remaining panko in a bowl, and coat both sides of the crab cakes.

4. Heat about 2 T. of oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat until the oil shimmers. Add a few crab cakes to the pan, and fry undisturbed until you can see the edges start to turn golden brown. If they are browning too fast, turn the heat down. Carefully flip them over using a spatula, and fry until the crab cake is cooked through (an instant-read thermometer should read 140 degrees in the center).

5. As they're done, transfer the crab cakes to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat as necessary. Serve immediately.

And the second staple - peanut sauce. I love peanut sauce. And I thought I had a perfect one. But this one is delightfully peanut butter-y (I did add an extra T. of peanut butter to the original recipe), and boy, is it ever thick. Just the perfect complement to hearty kale, and all matched up even better with the addition of an entire cup of mint leaves.

I put the salad leftovers way in the back of the fridge and plan on sneaking to the office with them before Matty even wakes up. Sorry, babe!

Kale + Mint Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing
slightly adapted from Food52
serves 4

For the salad:
7 oz. lacinato kale, finely shredded
1 c. fresh mint leaves, minced

For the dressing:
4 T. creamy peanut butter
3 T. warm water
3 T. rice wine vinegar
1 T. soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
2 t. fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 t. sesame oil
1 t. dried chili flakes

1. In a large bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients.

2. Add the kale and mint, and toss to thoroughly combine.

Monday, February 17, 2014

too much

I think I really let Matty down last night. After a painfully healthy dinner, per MyFitnessPal, I was still over my daily suggested calorie intake (thanks a lot, morning bacon), so I decided to pass on dessert. That meant no trip to Donut Friend for an after-dinner treat, and my guilt grew and grew as he sat at the bar, spreading speculoos on Cookie Thins. The sadness was overwhelming.

And then this morning, in an effort to make up for yesterday's extra calories, I let my trainer, Armando, talk me into lifting a 60-lb. bar above my head, and was even convinced to repeat that multiple times (with squats in between, natch!). By the time I got home, I was seriously questioning my friendship with Armando, and ready to sabotage the workout because I felt I "deserved" it.

But really, this is more about making up for last night with Matty than spiting Armando. That was just a nice by-product.

But if you look at the original recipe, and can believe their calorie calculations vs. mine from my ingredients, I shaved off almost 400 calories by subbing coconut milk for heavy cream (all of the cream in my fridge was in various states of expiry), and not making the sauce (trust me, you do not need the sauce). I'm ahead before a bite even passes my lips!

However, let's be real about how this isn't really breakfast. I call it a baked French toast to make me feel a little better about myself, but it's really a straight-up, holiday-style dinner party dessert. I mean, that amount of chocolate for breakfast is obscene. I'd go halfsies on the chocolate the next time I make this, although if I ever do, MyFitnessPal may no longer be my pal. 

Baked Chocolate-Coconut French Toast
adapted from Taste of Home
serves 12

3 eggs
2 15-oz. cans coconut milk
1/2 c. milk
2 c. sugar
1 T. vanilla extract
12 oz. dark chocolate pieces
3 oz. chopped dates
1 lb. bread, cut into 1-inch cubes

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milks, sugar and vanilla. Stir in the chocolate, dates and bread to thoroughly combine. Let sit until the oven comes up to temperature.

3. Grease a 13x9-inch baking dish, and transfer the bread mixture into the dish. Bake, uncovered, for 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

all cleaned out

Matty is the inventory manager of the house. He hates the grocery store, so he simply reports to me what essentials we're low on, and I'll add it to my list of recipe-specific ingredients to track down.

Tonight's dinner was a product of when inventory management goes awry. No one's fault, really - sometimes it's just hard to keep track of what ends up piling up. A dear friend of ours is staying with us, and we're slowly navigating the waters of sharing groceries so that we don't have doubles of perishables. It's a process - I ended up rearranging the fridge just so we could remind ourselves that neither of us will be needing to buy Persian cucumbers, heirloom cherry tomatoes or broccoli florets any time soon!

He then got called out of town unexpectedly, so before he left, he gave us explicit instructions to finish up the ground turkey he had bought.

Now ground turkey isn't really in my wheelhouse, but luckily, I had come across a couple simple, yet intriguing recipes that called for ground beef, so it was an easy substitution. And I enjoyed being able to do ground turkey two ways, rather than making one massive stir-fry with the standard mirepoix.

My favorite of these two applications was the celery in black bean sauce. Assertive flavors, but still light - the entire dish reminded me of the day I Instagrammed a screen shot of a MyFitnessPal count that had gone horribly awry thanks to a visit to Smashburger on a show day. My friend Todd commented, "Celery and water for u." This was much more interesting, of course, but it did make me feel like I was eating a lot of volume for very little calories. Score! And double-score on getting rid of the celery in the crisper - house guest or not, celery always languishes in the fridge because, other than this recipe, when do you ever need anything more than a stalk or two?

The carrots were good, too, but I would have doubled the spice. The flavor wasn't nearly as enticing as the aroma that came out of the pan while I was cooking.

Turkey + Celery in Black Bean Sauce
adapted from Every Grain of Rice via The Wednesday Chef
serves 4

16 oz. celery, diced into 1/2-inch square chunks
2 T. olive oil
12 oz. ground turkey
2 T. black bean sauce
1 T. chili paste
3 T. finely chopped ginger
16 oz. celery, diced into 1/2-inch square chunks
soy sauce, to taste

1. Heat the oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the ground turkey, and stir-fry until it is cooked through. Add the black bean sauce and chili paste, and continue to stir until the sauces are incorporated. Add the ginger and stir-fry for a few seconds to release its fragrance, then add all the celery.

2. Continue to stir-fry until the celery is piping hot and well-combined. Season with a little soy sauce, if desired.

Spiced Carrot + Ground Turkey Stir-Fry
adapted from Chocolate + Zucchini
serves 4

1 lb. carrots, peeled and sliced into 4x1/2-inch sticks
6 green onions, sliced, green and white parts separated
1 T. olive oil
1 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. ground chili pepper
3/4 t. salt
a splash of water, white wine or stock
12 oz. ground turkey

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the carrots and scallion whites, sprinkle with cumin, ground chili and salt, and stir well to combine. Add a splash of water, white wine, or stock, place a cover slightly ajar on the pan, and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring regularly, until the carrots are tender and the liquids are mostly evaporated.

2. Push the carrots to the sides to create space in the middle of the pan. Add in the turkey, and crumble it with a wooden spoon, then combine it with the carrots. Add the scallion greens and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring regularly, until the meat is cooked. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

just the facts ma'am

I have no idea what story I was going to tell around this dinner. However:

- The pesto is amazing. This recipe makes 3 cups, so plan your next few dinners around slathering it on everything. Lunch tomorrow might be crudite and pesto.

- I need to eat more fish. I forget that I like it.

- Can someone remind me that I don't like parsley? It just tastes like grass. I should have used the shiso I found at the Asian grocery store where I bought this delicious sushi-grade salmon (that Matty ended up planking on alder wood). Shiso and mint would have put me directly in my happy place, although the jalapeño-stuffed olives I chopped up for the barley salad was probably better suited for the parsley.

- I should also eat more barley. What an absolutely delightful little grain.

So, have at it!

Salmon with Red Pepper Hazelnut Pesto
serves 2 with plenty of pesto left over
from Thyme Cafe + Market via the LA Times

3 red bell peppers
2/3 c. dry-roasted, unsalted hazelnuts
1 clove garlic
zest of 1 lemon
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 c. olive oil divided - 1/3 c. for the pesto, remainder for roasting the bell peppers
2 6-oz. salmon fillets

1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Brush the bell peppers all over with olive oil, and broil about 6 inches from the heat source, turning as the sides char. Remove the peppers to a bowl, and cover the bowl with Saran wrap to let the peppers steam and cool.

2. When the peppers have cooled to the touch, peel and seed them, and remove them to the jar of a blender. Add the hazelnuts, garlic, lemon zest and olive oil. Blend until completely smooth, and salt and pepper to taste.

3. Prepare the salmon to your liking on the grill, in the oven or on the stove top. Serve with pesto on top, and serve immediately.

Barley Salad with Fennel + Mint
slightly adapted from Food52
serves 6

1 1/2 c. barley, cooked according to package directions and drained well
3/4 c. finely chopped parsley
3/4 c. finely chopped mint
3/4 c. minced fennel
2 green onions, white and light green parts only, sliced
3/4 c. finely chopped olives
2 T. olive oil
4 T. orange juice
1 T. red wine vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Toss all of the ingredients together. Adjust olive oil, orange juice, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.

Friday, February 14, 2014

heart-shaped world

This is our 10th Valentine's Day together. After a few of them, you get lazy. You find excuses to treat the day like any other, which, well frankly, it is - except I've always found it nice to have a day where you can focus on being aware of love. It should be every day, but sometimes you get busy, or you're out of town, or your iMessage doesn't work, and you skip an "I love you." So, post all the Grumpy Cat memes you want today, but tell somebody you love them, won't you?

Or maybe, make these waffles, and tell them you love them. I was initially really worried because the batter was super thin, but after an hour chilling in the fridge, it was perfect. And the slightly thinner batter kind of made for the prettiest waffles I've made - it really got into every nook and cranny of that waffle iron!

This was deliciously chocolate-y, and went perfectly with the extra salty bacon I served on the side. I could have used more bourbon in the butter, but that's just the drunk in me talking.

I did have a mini panic attack when I couldn't find my heart-shaped canapé cutter, but my Valentine, in an attempt to keep me organized, had put it in a bag with all of the larger cookie cutters. I mean, it's not really a holiday if you don't have heart-shaped butter.

Chocolate Chili Waffles
slightly adapted from Maria Speck and The Kitchn
makes 5 waffles

1 1/2 c. white whole wheat flour
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 3/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1 t. red chili flakes
1/2 t. salt
2 c. milk
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 t. vanilla extract
1/4 c. walnut oil
4 oz. dark chocolate, chopped

For the Maple-Bourbon Butter
4 T. butter, softened
1 T. bourbon
1 T. maple syrup

1. Make the butter: whisk the bourbon and maple syrup together with a fork. Combine this with the butter in a small bowl and use the fork to begin mashing the liquid into the butter. As the butter softens further, move from mashing to whisking. Keep going until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Scrape the butter onto a square of wax paper. Roll it up and twist the ends. Refrigerate until you're ready to serve the waffles.

2. Place a wire rack on a large baking sheet and transfer the sheet to the center shelf of the oven. The wire rack will keep the waffles from getting soggy. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, chili flakes and salt. Make a well in the center. In a medium bowl, whisk the milk, eggs and vanilla extract until blended. Whisk in the oil. Add the wet ingredients to the center of the dry ingredients and fold together with swift strokes. Fold in the chocolate. Allow the batter to sit for 5 minutes while preheating the waffle iron (or chill the batter for up to 1 hour).

4. Lightly grease the waffle iron. Fill the iron with batter, and cook until the waffles are done. Transfer the waffles to the baking sheet until ready to serve. Do not stack them, as they will become soggy. Continue until all the batter is used, lightly greasing the waffle iron in between as necessary.

5. Serve immediately with the maple-bourbon butter.

Monday, February 3, 2014

make up for it

The last thing I remember about the Super Bowl was the excellent halftime show, and then there are fuzzy memories of sitting next to a crockpot of chile con queso with a box of Social Snackers in my lap.

Just kidding. I also remember the nail-in-the-coffin touchdown run to start the second half, and Marcus Allen presenting the Super Bowl trophy to Pete Carroll, while Malcolm Smith won MVP honors. With nothing but love and respect to my Bronco-loving friends, I was thrilled to see the USC-hawks win. I wasn't about to drink to oblivion and miss all of that.

However, I did have more queso and Maker's Mark than I should have in a very short span of time yesterday evening, and this week is meant to make up for that, starting with a low-calorie, nutrient-packed, but still tasty lentil salad. It's fresh and light, but full of flavor, thanks to the Sriracha-miso dressing. I've portioned out 1 cup-sized servings to take to the office with me with a couple heads of endive to serve them on. This salad is also excellent right out of the mixing bowl, but I imagine it would also be equally good on celery, or pita bread, if you didn't just spend yesterday eating all of the crackers in the world.

Lentil Salad with Sriracha-Miso Mayonnaise
slightly adapted from Food52
makes 5 cups

For the salad:
2 1/2 c. cooked lentils
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. onion powder
1/2 c. diced white onion
1/2 c. diced celery
1/2 c. diced carrots
1 c. diced cucumber
1 c. diced tomatoes

For the dressing:
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1T. Sriracha sauce
1/4 c. yellow miso paste

1. In a large bowl, mix together all of the salad ingredients.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, Sriracha and miso until smooth. Add a few Tablespoons at a time to the salad mixture until dressed to your liking. Serve at room temperature or chilled.