Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cooking With Mom! Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Hello dear readers, and happy end of August!

I have mixed feelings about the month- while it is the month of Leo, and thus, my birthday, it is also the month that seems to herald the end of summer, and I will admit that the waning days of summer do always make me a bit melancholy. So, it's with happiness that I write about a cooking experiment that I embarked upon earlier in the summer with my cooking idol- my mom!

I went up to the MA homestead and got to partake of my moms awesome garden. She was just experiencing the beginnings of what would be a bumper crop of zucchini. The evidence of this was an abundance of zucchini blossoms, which we decided we wanted to do something fun with, and soooooooo, stuffed squash blossoms it was!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Hoisin Pork With Scallion Crepes

Sounds fancy, right? But the skills required to make this pseudo-Chinese dish are on a par with those involved in brushing pre-made barbecue sauce on meat and whipping up a batch of pancakes with Bisquick batter. Not that either of those ingredients are involved, mind you--I’m just saying if you can do those, you can make this.

To further assuage any pancake performance anxiety, this recipe is proportioned so that, for two people, you should have either (a) leftover crepes or (b) enough crepes even though you messed a few up and had to throw them out. Accepting that some things will end up in the garbage is a necessary prerequisite to kitchen experimenting. Nothing ventured, nothing eaten!

Start with three or four pork chops: Boneless is easiest since you’ll be slicing them after cooking, but those big, thin bone-in chops that have some darker meat on them would be good for flavor. Marinate them in about a quarter cup of hoisin sauce, which you can find in supermarkets and some bodegas; it keeps forever in the fridge and can be used as an insta-marinade for any meat.

(If you have some, you can add about ½ teaspoon of five-spice powder to your hoisin marinade. Do NOT go all, “Oh, I like really spicy food,” and dump in more, because five-spice powder is not about heat; it’s a pungent mix of stuff like anise and licorice and cinnamon, and if you add too much your meat is going to taste like a sachet from a dresser drawer. Even if you’re into that George Costanza eating-meat-in-bed-is-erotic thing, this will not taste good, trust.)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Chipotle Potato Salad

This spicy potato salad is a great side dish to bring to cookouts and picnics as you savor the rest of August. Now, I personally find that a lot of potato salads (especially the premade supermarket ones) are bland if not outright icky-tasting, and have a mealy-creamy hospital-food mouthfeel -- but this has a good kick and a chunky texture, and makes a nice complement to grilled steaks, burgers, and many other charred meats of summer. Plus, the ingredients for a pretty large quantity cost about $5 -- you can easily multiply based on the size of your gathering. (I brought this today to a cookout that featured a roast pig, which was pretty exciting.)

This recipe uses red, or new potatoes, which tend to be the best for potato salad because they hold their texture and don't get grainy or crumbly, as brown (russet) potatoes do. Yellow waxy potatoes are another option, or you could try purple fingerlings sliced in half, for the visual effect. I peel off just the eyes and any brown spots on the potatoes, but you can peel them completely if you prefer (though I wouldn't with the fingerlings).

Thursday, August 5, 2010

You can make this yourself: Green Salsa!

Dear readers,
It has been a hot and humid summer, the city is emptying out for August vacations, and we are coming up on a weekend of Red Sox-Yankees action. All of these factors are contributing to good moods, good times and an excitement about the food and sporting events that I will get to consume over the next few days.

With that in mind, I want to share a super easy salsa recipe that is perfect for a hot summer day, a bbq, sitting on the couch watching sports, or an accompaniment to a multitude of dishes- my favorite, Tomatillo salsa.

Tomatillos are small-to-medium sized hard, green tomatos that have a papery husk on them.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Chocolate Ice Cream

Some people buy an ice-cream maker on impulse and never use it—as if it were something horrible like a treadmill. As for me, I got an ice-cream maker a few years back and, for a while, used it so often that I wondered whether an A&E crew might show up to stage an intervention. After not using it for at least a year, I busted it out upon finding myself with five egg yolks awaiting a purpose. (Why I had five egg yolks in my fridge is a whole nother story involving a cake and two batches of royal icing, the first of which went wrong. Actually, that’s pretty much the whole story.)

This is a pretty easy recipe for a ridiculously rich chocolate ice cream (though you should know it won’t be ready till the next day). If you don’t have an ice cream maker, just post on your Facebook or something that you want to borrow one. I guarantee one of your friends who just got married will have one they’ve never even taken out of the box.