Aug 26, 2007

She: Tomato Soup

Normally I hate tomato soup. I couldn't put my finger on why, until I told Mark. He summed it up for me: tomato soup usually tastes like nothing but tomato acid. So true! Well, I visited my folks back in KC recently, and had great soup. I had been in the airport and on planes all day. I had some trail mix with me, but I didn't eat since the Denver airport *sucks* unless you like McBurgers or gelatenous stirfry. So instead I left the airport ravenous, and when my sis brought me home, she didn't have much readily consumable except for tomato I shrugged and chowed down. And it was brilliant! I finally begged for the recipe, so here it goes:
1 LB    roma tomatoes
1 LG    red bell pepper
1 LG    red onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp  olive oil
5 cups  vegie stock
pinch   sugar
1 cup   small pasta (optional)
salt and pepper to taste, fresh basil leaves (garnish)

Preheat oven to 375. Half the tomatoes, pepper, onion and place on foiled roasting pan or cookie sheet.  Add the garlic cloves. Drizzle olive oil over vegies and cook 30-40 until edges of vegies become blackend. In a blender (food processor), add 1 cup of vegie stock. Add roasted vegies while still hot from oven. Puree. Strain blended vegies into pot.  Add remaining 4 cups of vegie stock, sugar, salt and pepper.  Bring to boil. Add pasta. Cook for 7-8 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil leaves. And here's a pic of the sis as I show her the blog at the airport..obviously she is amazed at the sheer beauty of my laptop. Snort.

Aug 21, 2007

He: Chicken Stock

Okay...Okay...I put up a post about how to make chicken stock. Brandy pointed out to me that people in the regular world don't make their own stock. They don't? Why the heck not?.....oh I know....they just don't know how. Well once you read through this you will be amazed at how easy it really is.

3 lbs. chicken bones(or turkey bones)...wings, necks, is okay too
1 onion
1 carrot
1 stalk of celery
2 bay leaves
8-10 whole black peppercorns
a few(2-5) parsley stems (no leaves)

1)Stick all in a pot and add enough water to cover
2)Bring to a boil uncovered, over high heat
3)Leave at a boil for 1 minute
4)Reduce heat to as low as it will go, and allow to cook for at least 6 hours(it's okay at this point to cover it, just not tightly)....I usually let it go overnight
5)Strain out all of the solids, saving the liquid (toss the solids out, they're not good for anything else now)
6)Place in the refrigerator until cold, and gelled
7)Skim off all of the fat and use as needed

Okay, this is just slightly simplified from how it actually is, but it will make a great stock. If you need a stronger/more intense stock than this, use more bones and a little less water(although you still need enough water to completely cover the bones). If you need a slightly weaker stock use more water and less bones (again the bones still need to be completely covered by the water when you start to heat it from cold).

One more little tidbit...chicken bones are hollow...they float. Don't freak out when they start to float up as you're heating the stock up to bring it to a boil.

Aug 12, 2007

He: Roasted Summer Vegetable Salad

There are some of the great things that are here in Sacramento. One of those great things is the local farmer's market. Not to get into detail about the market, I will just say that it's year round and has all the good stuff that is growing in the immediate area. I LOVE to go to the market. Really this is all beside the point of this, which is this roasted summer salad that I threw together last night.

The original base idea for this is born from a cookbook written by a mentor of mine, Scott Peacock. He wrote this beautiful cookbook that you really should check out sometime called The Gift of Southern Cooking (click here for Amazon book link) His is based on roasted okra and heirloom tomatoes, and shallots and field peas (which are completely not available around here...damn). Mine is based on what mood hit me while we were at the market.
The only things that I would probably change about this salad are, that I would like it to be a little spicier (Brandy doesn't do spicy food well, and I can always make something hotter just for me), and I wish that the string beans at the market weren't soo bloody expensive (they were going for $4+ per pound...highway robbery if you ask me). Well here's the recipe the way that you see it pictured.

2 lbs Small summer squash(crookneck, pattypan, zucchini, whatever looks nicest)...just make sure they're small...big will be too starchy
1 lbs Red torpedo onion
1 lbs Sugar Snap peas
6 ears yellow corn
1/2 C. Fish sauce
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. peanut oil
4-5 coarse grinds of black pepper

Roast the corn still in the husk at 350F for 30 minutes, then cut the corn off the cob. Slice the onion into rings 1/4" thick, toss with the summer, squash snap peas and oil. Put on cookie sheet and roast at 500F until squash is lightly browned (maybe 5 minutes). Cool and toss all together with soy/fish sauce.

Aug 11, 2007

She: Hina Tea

I love tea. Mark loves a good, strong green tea, but my tastes vary a bit more. I do prefer green tea since its light in caffine and has a more delicate flavor, but I drink all sorts. Good tea is easier and easier to come by, which is good, considering I don't drink coffee. Most malls have a teavana store, and we've found a great place in San Fran's china town thats amazing. However, we recently found a great place downtown that is fabulous: hina tea.

Hina tea is a balm for the body AND the mind--as an artist I'm a tad picky about my surroundings in some ways, but the architecture there is calming and creative. There are tons and tons of teas to choose from: blacks, whites, greens, fruit infused, you name it, they've got it. And if you aren't sure what you'd like, they'll let you try a few out. Smelling the teas gives you a decent idea of what the flavor will be, but it gets a little tricky with fruit teas, which was what I was hunting.

Mark set down the path of purism, selecting a ton of straight green teas. He likes a stronger, grassier taste to his teas than I do. I like teas with jasmine and other flavors--but no sugar. No siree. I tried a white apricot tea, a passionfruit tea, and when these didn't ring my bell I asked for the barista's opinion, and am sooo glad I did. She introduced me to their Shanghai Lychee. I love and remember lychee from overseas, and the tea was amazing. The grean tea wasn't overpowered by the fruit. Instead, I got a strong kick of green with the lychee on the back of my tongue as an aftertaste. I got it iced (they have iced, hot, chai and all other sorts of stuff). Mark and I sat down with our teas and they gave us a tray of cute cookies to go along with our tea. They have a great selection of ceramics, and the place is spacious, quiet and soothing. The staff are helpful without being pushy. I highly suggest giving it a try. The shop is located off K street (2319 K Street) near Rick's Dessert Diner and Tres Hermanas. The website is:

Aug 7, 2007

She: Non-Desserts

Recently I talked to my sis, who said she hadn't tried any of my recipes since they were mostly desserts. (eep) Weeeeelll, I DO cook, but I just like desserts, so I tend to post those. But I will henceforth scatter my recipes with entree blogs as well. For tonight, I'm making quiche.

Quiche was one of the few things my mom would make that I loved as a kid. Usually she made it with shrimp, crab and cream cheese. Yummy, but laden with calories, so I try for other stuff instead. I wanted a meal I could eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner and something that had lots of protein, and this fit the bill. Now, this recipe calls for tabasco sauce, but don't think that makes it spicy. It just gives the dish a very very subtle zing. Same goes for the garlic salt, too.

Here's the list of ingredient: 1 frozen pie shell (I'm feeling lazy), 4 eggs, 1 cup milk (or soymilk), 1/8th tsp tabasco, 1/8th tsp salt, 1/4th tsp garlic salt, dash of pepper, 1 cup sliced mushrooms, 1 small diced onion, 6 or 7 chopped basil leaves. I also added 1 oz mozzerella in blocks.

Instructions: First, put the onions in a frying pan over medium heat with cooking spray or oil and cook til translucent. When they are, add the mushrooms and toss them in the pan til golden brown, then remove from heat. In a bowl whisk eggs, milk and tabasco, then mix in the salt/pepper. Place half the onion/mushroom mix in the bottom of your pie shell, then add on half the basil. Pour in the egg mixture, then put the rest of your veggies, including basil, ontop. Put in the oven and cook at 375 for 35 minutes, or until knife comes out clean. You can replace the mushrooms/onions with anything--I also like bell peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and scallions and a bit of goatcheese. See? I can write healthy!