Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

So simple to make and they don't have to be your typical cheddar cheese Mexican quesadillas. The sky is the limit on the permutations you can make on this basic flat bread cheese sandwich. This one is made with gruyere cheese and roasted red peppers. That's it! That and some flour tortillas. I like to use a bit of butter and a heavy cast iron pan to make my quesadillas. They come out delicious and crispy. The combination of a flavorful cheese with the roasted peppers was wonderful.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Smooth Satisfaction

I don't post breakfasts often but I do eat them. Often after my runs in the morning I will whirl up liquid nutrition to get my muscles recovering and get me going in the day. This morning after a fast 5 mile run I made one of my favorite concoctions, a blueberry banana smoothie.

1 cup skim milk
1 banana
1 cup frozen blueberries, slightly thawed
1 scoop (3 tbsp?) whey protein powder
1 tbsp Nestle's Quick Chocolate Milk Powder
1 tbsp natural creamy peanut butter

I like to drink them out of my big tall Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville glass.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Bi Bim Bap (sans meat)

Bap (or bop) in Korean means rice. Bi bim means to 'mix up'. Bi bim bap means to mix up stuff with rice. Traditionally in Korea this usually includes bulgogi style beef, various vegetables including bean sprouts, spinach, carrots, mushrooms, cucumbers among others, and always with a fried egg on top. This is mixed up with a spicy sauce and flavored with sesame oil and sesame seeds. Some of the vegetables are raw and some are cooked and marinated with sesame oil, garlic and soy. It is also traditionally served in a heated stone bowl. My take on it this time is hardly traditional on may fronts. I probably have vegetables that are not used commonly, I don't have a special stone bowl to put on the fire, and after last evening's t-bones I left out the beef. The flavor, however, is still quite good.

I began preparing this dish early in the day. I steamed some mung bean sprouts just until tender. I did the same with baby spinach leaves; steamed just until they were wilted. These were marinated with a mixture of chopped garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil. I didn't measure anything, so bear with me. I just splashed some together. I also hydrated some dried shitake mushrooms by boiling in a bit of water for about an hour. These were cooled and sliced. Other vegetables included raw carrots, raw green peppers and sliced romaine lettuce. These were all assembled on top of a bed of sticky Thai brown rice. An egg fried in sesame oil was placed on top.

Before mixing this all up I added some sesame oil, sesame seeds and a spicy sauce. The sauce was made with gochujang paste (about 2 tbsp), rice vinegar (about 1/4 cup), soy sauce (about 1/4 cup), water (about 2 tbsp) and sesame oil (about 2 tbsp). Just mix everything together well and enjoy.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Beef, It's what's for dinner

To me there is nothing more satisfying than a big slab of medium rare grass fed cow seared on a grill. We're not talking steak sauce here. Never ruin a good piece of meat with too much seasoning. We buy our beef a half cow at a time from a local farmer. Let me tell you, I've had Kobe beef before but North Dakota beef wins in taste and texture hands down. All this tender juicy piece of cow flesh needs is just some salt and pepper.

Beef shouldn't be adorned with complicated side dishes either. Just a grilled vidalia onion and some home baked fries make a perfect accompaniment to what is flesh perfection.

What more is there to say? I likes my beef now and then.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

More Pasta

My pasta love affair is not over yet. With the same dough I made for the orrechiette, I rolled out another favorite pasta shape of mine, pappardelle. This is like a big wide fettucine noodle. I rolled them out into sheets using my pasta roller and then cut them into wide strips by hand. Another mushroom based sauce was perfect for this. I sautéed garlic, onion and mushrooms in olive oil, added bit of non-fat half and half for richness and tossed in some fresh grated parmigiano reggiano. This was garnished with a bit of fresh parsley. Another satisfying pasta meal.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Tasty Little Ears

Ok, ok. I know the title of this post is scary. Especially after my post about chicken feet which probably has you really worried that I am now cooking up pig ears or something. Don't worry! I promise you'll like this. I'm talking about the little ear shaped pasta known as orechiette. I've made them for the first time and they turned out pretty good. I threw together some pasta dough using flour, water, salt and egg. This was cut into small pieces and then pressed with my thumb in the palm of my hand to shape the dough into little ears. They are thicker than your typical orrechiette but I like my pasta thick and chewy.

Most orechiette recipes you see are made with broccoli rabe. I made mine with chicken and spinach. It had lots of garlic, of course. A splash of cream and some parmigiano reggiano and that's all you need for a wholesome, delicious, filling meal.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Sausage and Stuff

I don't know what else to call it other than good. A number of years ago there was an Italian restaurant in a little town near here in of all places a Howard Johnsons hotel. The decor was boring but the food was great. On their menu they had a wonderful country Italian dish they called sausage and peppers. It had Italian sausage cooked with white beans, onions, garlic, roasted red peppers and slightly spicy pepperoncinis. I think it had bits of tomato and herbs. I wanted to make something that reminded me of that dish. Unfortunately I didn't have any white beans in the pantry and no red bell peppers to speak of. So I put together something a little bit different but with a similar taste. I started with sliced onions and garlic in a big pot. I added zucchini because I had it in the fridge. In went whatever sausage I had on hand in the freezer. There were three links of polish sausage and three links of a garlic sausage. About a dozen sliced up pepperoncinis, a can of chopped tomatoes, a bit of chicken stock, thyme and oregano and I had the basis for my country style Italian sausage and stuff. I also cooked up some whole wheat penne and added that to the pot. It actually worked together. I was pleased.