Monday, January 31, 2011

Super Bowl Munchie: Red Bean Dip

No, I didn't make this, nor are we affiliated with those who did. It's just awesome. Insane ultimate Super Bowl dip recipe by Holy Taco; get the how-to here.

My co-blogger Alyce and I are most definitely kindred spirits. But since we human beings are all unique, just like everybody else, even the B-est FFs are bound to have certain points of divergence on tastes. Ours, in a word? Football.

See, Alyce believes the point of football is to enjoy the thrill of the game (I assume, anyway ... I never asked, because I get bored as soon as the F-word is uttered). She totally represents for the knowledgeable, engaged, passionate-to-the-point-of-cuckoo female fans (this article seriously pissed her off), and I admire her for it.

However, I have a very different take on the point of football. For me, gentle reader, it means enduring a long winter of Sunday afternoons of endless, tedious Spandex-clad scrums (how the Jets game the other week trumped Mariska’s Birthday Marathon of SVU in The Rob’s priority system is beyond me) in order to reach the second greatest eating day of the year, after Thanksgiving: the Super Bowl.

Ahhh, the ’Merickan glory that is the classic Super Bowl spread: Pigs in blankets. Buffalo wings. Kielbasa. Nachos. Pizza. Spinach-artichoke dip. Seven-layer dip. Sundry other dips. Requisite accompanying chips. And, so much beer. The $25,000 Pyramid category here could just as easily be “Things That Make Kitty Happy.”

Anyhoo. This particular bean dip is super-easy, and makes a large quantity on the cheap (it's easily multiplied for a crowd). And it's actually relatively non-fat-laden, at least as far as Super Bowl foods (or, again, things that make Kitty happy) go.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Roasted Bok Choi

This recipe, like so many great dishes throughout history, had its genesis in one crystal-clear beacon of inspiration: Some food was about to go bad.

In this case, that food was a head of bok choi, which I bought last week and failed to use. I wanted to try roasting it, because the oven tends to be more forgiving to vegetables that have passed their prime, much like dim lighting with humans.

I figured it would go great with the pork dumplings I made a big batch of and froze a few weeks ago. You can plop these right from the freezer into a steamer over boiling water, and they cook in about 10 minutes, so they are awesome to have handy.

Bok choi has stems that are much thicker, and thus take longer to cook, than its green ends. So I debated whether to add everything to the pan at once, or start with the stems and add the greens later. I Googled “roasted bok choi,” but every recipe that came up was for baby bok choi, which have far slenderer stems (hence the name, duh), so I wasn’t sure whether the directions would apply.

Being hungry and impatient, I opted to wing it. I decided I would cook everything together but keep the greens under the stems so they would retain their moisture.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mac and Cheese: Thinking Outside the Kraft Box

In case you have not noticed, gentle reader, my recipes have been on the hearty and rich side lately. That is because right now in Brooklyn, it is about 7 degrees out. Which kind of sucks in a largely car-free culture where you have to walk everywhere. So you can understand why I would be drawn to seriously belly-filling fare these days. I'm calling it Carbopalooza 2011.

This naturally brings us to mac and cheese, another ’Merickan classic. There are almost infinite variations of this dish you can whip up ... though The Rob would far rather have a box of Kraft—old-school powdered cheese-style—than any other incarnation, so, I'm ashamed to say, the neon-orange stuff does sometimes make an appearance on our plates.

This from-scratch baked version, with three cheeses, prosciutto, and peas (yet another spin on my go-to pasta formula), seems pretty fancy but is simple to throw together with ingredients you can get at your supermarket’s deli counter. I made it for a recent dinner with my friend Tom, a good Italian boy who is naturally a fan of the non-box-based cheesy pasta. (I apologize if that was Italian stereotyping and our advertisers pull out like with Jersey Shore. Not that we have any advertisers, but we might someday, and I don't want to have to go back and edit.)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Chicken Potpie

Chicken potpie occupies a unique place in the ’Merickan culinary pantheon, in that it is a classic retro-Americana "leftovers dish" yet does not evoke any of the shudders or gag reflexes such dishes are wont to elicit. Compare, for example, tuna casserole—just the name has served as a punch line for decades of family sitcoms, the premise of the joke being that hidden under those canned dried "onions" is everything that was about to go bad in the fridge. Even meatloaf, which has recently acquired new panache in this recessionary era of "upscale comfort food" (more on this at a later date, in my upcoming post about meatloaf) inspires a wide range of visceral reactions in people, many of which are extremely negative.

But chicken potpie grosses out nobody (except perhaps carb-phobic Atkins devotees, but we all know they lead miserable and bitter lives anyway). It is hearty, it is buttery, and it makes efficient and cheap use of leftovers, supplemented by staples you probably already have in your kitchen. Often, I roast a chicken for just myself and The Rob, with an eye toward making potpie out of the leftovers. With the plump roaster I got on sale recently for 99 cents a pound, I was not only able to do that, but make a couple sandwiches' worth of curried chicken salad—oh, and of course, I made stock from the chicken carcass.

Usually, when I make chicken potpie, I put the filling in a gratin pan and lay a crust over just the top of the dish (as opposed to having a bottom crust lining the pan). It's not like this is exactly a "light" dish any way you prepare it, but I find that you don’t really need all that extra crust.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Saturday Night Comfort Food: Baked Chicken With Mushrooms

Saturday night is my favorite night of the week to stay in. All the douchebags are out and about, crowding up restaurants and bars. It's the one night I can actually find an available washing machine in my apartment building’s laundry room. And because I have the day off work, I can leisurely grocery-shop (the Met Foods is rarely crowded on Saturday) and cook dinner.

This evening, I was kind of feeling a mid-twentieth-century housewife vibe (okay, fine, when am I not?). I was also feeling extremely lazy. So I decided to make this update on those classic grosstastic suburban-mom dishes that involve dumping a can of cream of mushroom soup on some chicken and sticking it in the oven. I figured it would be low-maintenance and hearty. And it was.

However. Gentle reader, what you are about to read may shock you. You see, tonight I defied every principle of Brooklyn foodie-ism to prepare a meal that involved—yes—prepackaged, additive-addled food products. Luckily, if your body is a temple of loca-eco-susta-whateverability, you can easily skip said ingredients.