Renewal: Just Like Spring

Dear readers and friends, how we’ve missed you!

Both Tracy and myself have gone through some significant changes in the last year, and regretfully, Karma in the Kitchen has been lightly placed on the back burner.  However, it was not our intention to abandon the site forever and I’m looking to renew my commitment to posting regularly (I was kind of a slacker in the last year anyway!).  I have been cooking a lot recently and asking myself why I’m not blogging about it.  The goal of the blog initially was to share. Share our kitchen successes and nightmares across the states and timezones and keep up our cooking and eating community. Please, if in looking back through the posts on this blog, you find things you wish we’d written about or expanded on, let us know.

My goal is to start posting again in late August or early September, but in the meantime, I will be posting pictures and recipes to our Facebook page.  Please like our Facebook page to stay up to date and interact with both Tracy and I.  We really appreciate your support, your likes and your stories.

Best wishes and happy cooking!

 

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Inaugurating a New Kitchen

Hello friends… I haven’t posted in a while, partially because I am the delinquent child in this blog relationship.  But also because in the last month or so I have picked up all of my belongings and carried them to a new home.  I’m still in the city of Chicago, but I’m now inhabiting a place with a spacious kitchen.  This is a huge relief and something I was looking forward to as soon as I set foot in my previous apartment.  I tried not to complain about it too much, but I had a galley kitchen with basically no counter space to speak of.  It was a hallway leading to what should have been an actual kitchen.  Sigh.

Now, however, I have a lovely kitchen with lots of space to cook.  It’s beautiful.  Another new thing that’s begun recently is a CSA I’m sharing with a friend of mine.  As I’m sure most of our readers know, this spring was unusually cold, so a lot of the yield thus far has been in the way of lettuce.  It’s weird to have so many different types of lettuce just kicking around.  I’m not a huge lettuce eater, but I obviously eat it more when it’s being delivered to me on a weekly basis.  We are starting to see a transition out of all lettuce and into heartier stuff, such as snow peas, turnips, green beans and cucumbers.

Not that cucumbers are hearty.  We were really hoping for a lot of dark leafy greens, and really I chose this CSA because they promised kale.  I wanted a bunch of kale every week, at least, if not 2-3 varieties.  Alas, we work with what we’re given, the motto of CSA subscribers everywhere.  Luckily, turnips mean turnip greens, which aren’t kale, per say, but are nice sauteed and are good for nutrients.  For a quick dinner, I sauteed turnip greens in olive oil and salt, laid them over some polenta and fried up a chicken sausage for the side.  I also roasted turnips, garlic scapes, onions and a non-CSA sweet potato in the over with garlic and herbs until the veggies were soft and munched on it quite happily.

Sweet potatoes tend to sneak their way into a lot of impromptu meals, but one situation in which I’ve found them particularly useful is in the creation of frittatas.  I posted before (as part of the donut post) about a frittata I made back in March. I used a recipe then, but decided this time that it wasn’t even necessary.  There are two tricks to a delicious frittata I have learned in my experiments.  Browning thinly sliced potatoes in the pan (sweet or otherwise) and leaving them there as a crust adds a good foundation to the dish.  When you bite into it, you get the eggs and cheese and fillers on top, and then there is that constant golden brown potato in every bite.  Very satisfying.  Sweet potatoes are my choice because not only is it golden brown, it’s also a little creamy and sweet to boot.  Who is turning down golden brown, crispy, creamy sweet vegetables?  Not me.

The other trick, or it might be essential depending on how technical you are being about your frittatas, is to finish it off in the oven.  For this you will need a pan that can be put in the over.  Generally, these are anodized and don’t have plastic on their handles.  So when you finish the frittata on the stove, usually by adding a generous layer of cheese, you can just pop the whole thing in the oven to brown on top.  The only truly aggravating thing about creating frittata is that it takes a long time.  To slice the thin potatoes, to brown the potatoes, to prep and sautee the other veggies, to mix the eggs, to get the whole thing together on the stove and then to brown it in the oven takes some serious cooking time. However, I have found the process to be worth it, 100%, each time I have concocted a frittata.

Something I did this time, was take the frittata and flip it onto my large wooden cutting board to cut it.  This saved the integrity of my pan a little, made sort of an interesting serving dish, and made me feel pretty skilled for being able to deftly flip a large pan full of food onto another surface without destroying it.  My roommate was impressed anyways.

In other non-frittata related news, I recently discovered a way of making my gluten, yeast, dairy, egg free BFF a real chocolate cake.   This is how it went down.  I said I would have her and her boyfriend over for dinner.  Knowing the constraints this would put on my menu choices, I chose pork roast, roasted root veggies, and corn on the cob (something I know she likes).  We were talking online day of and she was lamenting about how she would never be able to eat real cake again, and it struck me that my mother had made eggless cakes for our family growing up all the time, because my father was allergic.  It was called a screwball cake, probably because the recipe sounds kind of crazy.  Since GF folks are pretty numerous and pretty vocal, there are some decent GF baking flours on the market.  So I picked up a bag of GF baking flour, and I baked her a cake.  So, for those of you who battle dietary restrictions including, gluten, dairy, yeast, and/or egg, here is a recipe for you to have your cake and eat it.  All of it.

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Mix 3c flour (GF if necessary), 2c sugar, 1/2c cocoa, and 1/2 tsp salt in a large bowl.  You might need to sift the mixture together, as GF flour likes to clump a little more than wheat flour.  Once it’s all combined, you make three holes in the mix.  (Nothing fancy, just dig out three holes equidistant from each other.)  In one hole, put 2tsp baking soda, in the next hole put 2tsp white vinegar, and in hole #3, put 1c oil (it’s not all going to fit in the hole, relax.  This deviates from the recipe a little, but I throw a little vanilla in at this point too, with the oil, or before the oil in hole three.  Then you pour 2 cups cold water over the top of everything, and mix it all together.  Pour into a 9×13 ungreased pan and bake for 45 mines.  Voila, gluten free, egg free, dairy free, yeast free cake!  I made a topping with powdered sugar, almond milk, and cocoa to pour over the top.  It was a hit with my friends for sure.

Detox Detour: Donuts.

Need I say more?  Today my friend Jess came over and we made donuts together.  You are already jealous, I could stop here.  But I won’t, because I’m sadistic like that.  I can give you a little gluten free love, though, with what we made first for brunch, which was a sweet potato frittata.  My real camera batteries were dead, so you will have to cope with the underwhelming iPod photos.

It was inspired by this recipe, but turned out to be vegetarian (no bacon y’all) and not nearly as thick.  I think my eggs were small and I didn’t use a whole onion or that much spinach.  Also, I used goat cheese instead of feta, which is tangier and not as salty.  I threw a little nutmeg and cayenne on top, because those are my go to spices for sweet potato dishes.  And I didn’t broil it in the oven, I just baked it for 10 minutes or so, to get the top a little brown and to make sure the egg was set.

This turned out amazing.  There were only two of us, but we ate 3/4 of the whole thing and then I finished the rest for dinner.  I decided the reason it was so delicious, besides liking each of the ingredients separately, is that it had all the flavors.  So, the sweet potato was sweet, the egg was a little salty, the crunchy almost burned bottom was a little bitter, the goat cheese added a little sour, and the onion/spinach combo was pretty savory.  In every bite, you were able to experience all the flavors.  Did I forget any?  It also had an excellent density, with the egg staying fluffy and the sweet potato reaching that stage of creaminess that only sweet potatoes can find.

It turned out so well that I’m kind of excited about making other frittatas and soon.  It was really easy, and while it required a lot of eggs, it was a good way to get a lot of delightful tastes into one mouthful.

You might be like me and be a little nervous about heating up a quart of oil to 375 degrees on your stove top, but rest assured, making the frittata was the most dangerous thing we did all day.  Jess cut her hand on the mandolin, slicing perfect sweet potato rounds, and I burned my fingers taking the frying pan out of the oven.  It’s really a wonder that we persevered on to making doughnuts, but let’s be honest, what better way to sooth our wounded selves than with some sweet puffed sugar coated goodness?

For the donuts (please note that I am using donuts instead of doughnuts because I don’t want to keep typing doughnuts all the time; this is likely the same reason the shorter version was developed in the first place), we used this recipe for the most part.  It was most aggravatingly sticky at first, even though I put it in the fridge for about 30 minutes, but with a little more flour and some coaxing, we were able to get it to calm down and we made it into donut shapes.  Turned out that the holes were more satisfying, but if you are going to make donuts and talk about it, you have at least make a few that look like the traditional donut.

The oil was a little tricky, mostly in maintaining the correct temperature.  We put the burner on high to get the oil heating, and when it got into the range we needed, we turned it down to low, but it kept rising well over 400.  So, we had to take a little hiatus while waiting for the oil to cool down again.  It ended up sticking right around 365, but that seemed to do the trick, because it was definitely cooking our doughnuts into the most wonderful little bundles of joy.  We had the dough about 1/2 inch thick, and it looks really flat, like you are going to have flat donuts, but they definitely plump up.  The coolest part is when you first put them in and they sink to the bottom and then within a few seconds, they rise to the top and sometimes they even flip themselves for you.

The donuts were awesome even without anything on them.  I love cake donuts, so this type of recipe was a natural choice.  However, yeast donuts seem a little bit tricky, more difficult to get right; it makes me want to try them.  Jess was talking about potato donuts, make partially with mashed potatoes, which I am still trying to wrap my head around.  So there may be more donut posts in the future.

Cinnamon Sugar DonutsFor the ones which we didn’t eat immediately, we dumped some in cinnamon sugar.  They tasted just like the fresh donuts you get at the fair or outdoor markets.  For the others, Jess whipped up a lovely maple glaze.  I couldn’t decide which way I liked best.   I think some chocolate icing with coconut would have been amazing, but really I was just pleased to have made donuts at all.

The real question, at the end, was what to do with the oil.  You can’t dump it down the drain, you can’t pour it into your trash can.  My thought was to put it back in the bottle, which we did, but Jess suggested straining it so that we could use the same oil for donuts again in the future.  I feel good about this proposition, and now I have a bottle of donutty oil sitting in my cupboard.

Well, I hope you have enjoyed this brief detour from the detox fast.  I can assure those of you who are tending towards a diet that is gluten free that at your request, we would be glad to try our hands at gluten-free donuts.  We may have to do that anyway, because my roommate has been sentenced to a gluten-free diet for basically the rest of her life.  I would love to hear other folks’ stories about making donuts at home and whether you have any hints that would add to our approach to donut making in the future!

Detox Detour: What do you eat when you’re sick?

I’ve been enjoying Tracy’s tour through this interesting detox diet with the rest of you, but I thought I would step in and make a brief post about a much looked-over branch of cuisine: sick food.

Sure, there are different kinds of sick, and different kinds of sick food.  When you are stomach sick, there are usually only a few things you can tolerate without feeling sicker.  Some people swear by ginger, others turn green at the mention of it.  Some people will only eat dry saltines, other people avoid carbs altogether.  Honestly, if it’s the stomach flu, I’m eating Wasa Crackers and apple sauce.  Unless that’s what I was eating when I got sick, obviously.

But when we are talking about the common cold, or some derivative thereof (I am currently fighting a sinus infection), chicken soup is the best thing to have when you are sick, at least according to traditional American folk knowledge.  (Veggie noodle soup for the vegetarians, I would imagine.) This is probably true for a number of reasons: it’s nutritious, especially when made from homemade stock, it’s usually served hot, the steam serving to loosen the sinuses and the hot liquid serving to soothe the throat, and it’s got flavor without being heavy, spicy, or too anything.  Chicken soup is simple and it’s therapeutic. It feels good to have warm soup in your belly, especially when you are experiencing chills and/or fever.  It may even keep a persistent cough at bay for a short while.

And let me tell you, I had chicken noodle soup this week.  It was good.  There actually wasn’t any chicken in it, so maybe it doesn’t count. I’m not sure it made me feel better, but it filled the hole.  Honestly, I didn’t feel like eating much, mostly because nothing tasted good.  Usually, when I am feeling healthy and ready to go, I never order chicken soup.  It’s too blandfor me.  I like to keep things interesting, spicy, you know, tom yum soup or lentil curry soup.  I spent too much time eating meat and potato 1950’s farmlife inspired meals growing up to choose those dishes as an adult… but that’s another story.

What I really wanted to get to, without further detouring from the detour, was my non-soup sick food for today.  Today, I wanted something cold for my throat, and I had already wailed through my carrot, apple, and orange juice supplies over the weekend.  So I decided to make a green smoothie.

I went through a raw food phase last year, which was enlightening in a number of ways, but the real take home message for me was that eating as many raw greens as possible was the best change anyone could make to their diet.  Some folks will make outrageous claims and say that a green smoothie every day will reverse your heart disease or your diabetes, but let’s be honest, those are anecdotes and not the norm.  But I’m all in for the greens, especially kale, and when I feel like I need a vitamin boost, or I have the ingredients sitting around, a green smoothie will happen.  For those of you who are put off by the idea of drinking kale or collards, let me tell you, the only mistake you can make is using mustard greens for your smoothie.  (That is a mistake I will NEVER make again.  The name really should have convinced me, but no, I was headstrong about it, and I still managed to drink the whole thing.)

Lacking my full facilities in my weakened state, I did neglect to take pictures, but really, all you need to imagine is the following recipe.

5-6 kale stalks (center vein removed, lightly chopped) any type of kale is find

1 banana (rough chop)

2 scoops peanut butter (I prefer crunchy)

soy milk

almonds (optional)

ice cream (my sick day addition, also because my banana wasn’t frozen)

Throw all this stuff in the blender and blend it smooth.  Really, once you have the kale in there, you add the other stuff on top, and make sure you have enough milk to make it blend, and then add in additional ingredients for your prefered consistency, flavor.  Sometimes, if I don’t have/want to add ice cream, I’ll put a touch of honey in.  If you are wondering if it TASTES like kale, the answer is no, not usually.  Today it tasted like peanut banana ice cream.  And that was perfect.  If you up the kale ratio, it will start to taste like kale.  If that’s what you want, knock yourself out.  Leave out the peanut butter and add other fruits (strawberries, blueberries, apples) for different flavors.  You can even add whey protein if that’s your thing.

Green smoothies, I love them.  And for this round of terrible illness, green is my go to.

Tell me, what do you eat when you are sick?

Planning Time

After my post last week about the elimination diet, I took a friend’s suggestion and checked out cookbooks from the library.  Unfortunately, I thought I would also get some I had been wanting to check out anyway, like Mark Bittman’s collection.  Who knew that man wrote enough to fill multiple encyclopedias?  When I went to pick up my selections at the library, I had a note on the shelf directing me to a huge pile of books stacked on the bottom because that was the only place they would fit.  It took two trips to take them to my car.  It would probably take me months to go through all of them.  I prioritized.

Three have served me best for my menu planning:  Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Vegetables, Maya Kamal’s Savoring the Spice Coast of India, and Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

As I suspected, our diet will primarily consist of legumes, rice, quinoa, veggies and fruit.

Deborah Madison’s book has quinoa salad recipe similar to one  I received from a friend including dried fruits and nuts.  She also has a few creative ways to cook lentils I plan on trying.  I was excited to find a recipe for chard rolls filled with winter veggies.  As well as a Spanish rice bake that seems simple and filling.  These will certainly make it to a dinner menu.

Alice Waters’ recipes are often simple, requiring few ingredients.  A green bean and cherry tomato salad as well as a spicy carrot salad will round out our lunch salads well.

Maya Kaimal’s use of spices and coconut is perfect, rarely using “no” ingredients from our list and requiring few adaptations.  Indian food is a territory I haven’t fully explored, but I feel far more capable after her guidance.

Today’s shopping trip will be to get non-perishable staples for our cupboards:

Star anise                                                              Cardamom

Grated unsweetened coconut                               Quinoa

Potatoes                                                                Various types of rice

Almond and cashew butter                                   Rice Noodles

Gluten-free oatmeal                                               Lentils and dried beans

Coconut milk                                                          Safflower and flax oil

Multiple heads of garlic                                           Nuts and dried fruit

Tahini paste                                                            Herbal teas

Stevia                                                                      Acorn Squash

We are starting the diet on Thursday, so I plan on stocking up on the needed fresh ingredients on Wednesday night after the preparation class.

Spinach                                                               Cauliflower

Green Beans                                                      Cucumbers

Tomatoes/cherry tomatoes                                Carrots

Cilantro, dill, mint                                                Hot Peppers

Apples                                                                Bananas

Frozen Fruit                                                        Almond Milk

Cabbage                                                            Bell Peppers

Here are my general meal ideas:

Breakfast:  fruit smoothies (banana, frozen fruit, apple juice), homemade granola bars (here’s the recipe), oatmeal with dried fruit, nuts and agave, and weekend breakfast risotto (almond milk, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla)

Lunch:  homemade hummus with veggies, apples with nut butters, salads, and leftovers

Dinners: deconstructed cabbage rolls, stuffed squash, red beans and rice, roasted vegetables, rice noodles and marinara sauce, and curries

I certainly feel more confident than last week.  I think it was helpful to have time to think about recipes I already used, ways to filling the Philosopher without his foundational staple of boxed cereal, exploring the cooking genius hidden in books new to me, and finding new and creative cooking styles that will challenge and expand my foundation.

Countdown to diet:  4 days, 9 hours and 19 minutes.  But whose counting, really?

Spinach                                                                                Cauliflower

Green Beans                                                      Cucumbers

Tomatoes/cherry tomatoes                        Carrots

Cilantro, dill, mint                                             Hot Peppers

Apples

Spinach                                                               Cauliflower

Green Beans                                                      Cucumbers

Tomatoes/cherry tomatoes                      Carrots

Cilantro, dill, mint                                         Hot Peppers

Apples                                                                Bananas

Frozen Fruit                                                     Almond Milk

Bananas

Frozen Fruit                                                        Almond Milk

The Reunion: Meal by Meal

Tracy’s last post went back to the beginnings of our blog and our friendship.  Also, it was a set-up for the post you are about to read.  Tracy and I had not been in the same place since March 2010, so it was far past time for us to rendezvous, catch up and eat.  We’re going to narrate this post simultaneously with paragraphs denoted by our first initial.  And there will be many food pictures and jealousy (on your part).  Some of the pictures are of a lower quality, because I am a champ at forgetting my camera and had to use my iPod for a lot of them.

R: Tracy got into town around4:30, I met her at 5:30, and we got this show on the road. We had decided to make roasted butternut squash ravioli with a sage brown butter sauce with a friend of mine (who conveniently has a lovely kitchen and a pasta maker.)  So, we collected the things we needed (lots of butter, sage, shallots, etc) and headed out to my friend’s house.

T: It should be noted that the Basketball Player (that would be the woman with a pasta machine and great kitchen) helped make a great first night in Chicago.  Music playing, a dog catching all my dropped food morsels, and new stories told by old and new friends.  Thanks Basketball Player for your contribution to a great night!  Now, on with dinner.

R: She already had bread started, which we soon ate with some of Tracy’s sweet potato butter, and the Garrett’s popcorn we had also picked up on the way.  What took the longest for this recipe was roasting the squash, but once that was done, we were on our way to pasta.  We did make one substitution, ricotta instead of cream, which was more out of convenience than out of concern for our health (brown butter sauce).  Luckily, it was a great substitution and made the filling kind of light and fluffy.  Tracy was in charge of browning the butter.  It made the sage crispy, which added a surprising but subtle layer of texture.  In my opinion, and I think my cohorts would agree, this was one of the best meals I’ve made/had in a long time.  It was definitely worth the waiting and the work.  Those little ravioli just melted in my mouth.  And there’s a few waiting for me in the freezer still!

T: I was thinking the other day that I have had similar meals in fancy restaurants, for about $20.  I think the three of us ate that night, extremely happily, for about $15 in ingredients.  Not bad.  Not bad.  What more can be said?  Fresh pasta.  Fresh pasta!  (and butter)

R: Tracy and I slept in on Saturday and decided to make pancakes for breakfast, but these were no ordinary pancakes.  I had discovered about a year ago that grinding up raw sunflower seeds in my coffee grinder made a usable flour option.  The first time I used sunflour (just go with it) to make pancakes, the pancakes came out a bright green.  This time the greening was more subtle, but the pancakes were just as delicious.  I used a standard pancake recipe, and added in just a little wheat flour to help the pancakes stick together.  We ate the pancakes with agave, Nutella, sweet potato butter, and local honey, not all at once.

T: Don’t forget the freshly squeezed grapefruit and orange juice.  A lazy Saturday morning.  Making breakfast in our pajamas, eating half of it with our fingers and joking with The Comedian (Rachel’s roommate) and Murder Mystery (Rachel’s roommate’s coauthor).   We finally deciding we should probably brave the outdoors.

R: After spending some time in a local independent bookstore, Tracy and I started to get hungry again.  This time we headed over to Falafill, a falafel restaurant where you get basic falafel and then are able to top your falafel with all manner of mediteranean salads and toppings.  Taboulah, faul, Jerusalem salad, shredded carrots salad, spicy potatoes, minted cabbage, (they usually have minted beets too, but not this time, sorry Tracy), curry aioli, pickles, pickles turnips, yogurt sauce, olives, garlic sauce, and tahini sauce; all delicious.  Falafill is one of my favorite places to grab a meal in the city, and pretty much everyone loves it.  What’s not to love?

T: Rachel topped our falafel.  I have to say, it was certainly difficult to distinguish all the ingredients.  But in the end, who cares?  They were all delicious.  Maybe even better all mixed together.  Either way, hunger disappeared while laughing at headlines from The Onion.  Now, onward!

R: We wandered the city for a while, ended up reading in the winter garden of the Harold Washington Library before meeting up with some mutual friends from Toledo, my former roommate (Ms. Executive Suite) and her boyfriend (Science Man).  With our forces combined, we decided to take on Xoco, the cafe next door to Rick Bayless’s Frontera Grill.

T: That is, after munching a bit at the our friend’s hotel.  Apparently Ms. Executive  Suite gets free nibblies for traveling a lot.  Thankfully she and Science Man were willing to share.  It helped tide us over on the wait for a table at Xoco.

R: I had been to Xoco before for hot chocolate and churros, but I was excited to eat their real food. There was an hour wait, but it was totally worth it.

T: Of course it was worth it.  The host ensured that we had beer and wine to keep ourselves busy while waiting.  Free samples win every time!

R: I had a carnitas caldo… which is like spicy pork soup.  It was really spicy.  We were given bread to go with it, after the host saw us struggling with the water to spicy things ratio.  My favorite thing was what Science Man had… but I don’t exactly remember what is was.  It was kind of like a sandwich sitting in sauce, which seems more italian than mexican, to be honest.

T: Maybe it was the ahogada torta ( Golden pork carnitas).  I had the Seafood Caldo which included mussels, catfish and shrimp in a slightly spicy tomato broth.  I could have licked my bowl, but I resisted.  More was yet to come.

R: But the best part was the hot chocolate at the end of the meal.  I got the authentic, which is mostly just cocoa beans and water, no milk need apply.  It’s just so tangy and chocolaty. Insurmountably fantastic.

T: I accidentally ordered the original hot chocolate, but was not disappointed.  Mine included milk.  Creamy and delicious.  Great way to end a great meal.

R: And then there was a hotel party.

T: And we should leave it at that.

R: Sunday morning meant a gigantic brunch situation, because we added in The Comedian and another friend from Calvin and her boyfriend.  So the seven of us met up at The Bongo Room.  We did have to wait a while because that place is pretty popular, but finally we sat down to various types of benedicts, for the most part.  I had the BLT benedict, with bacon, spinich, tomato, and a pesto hollandaise.  Potatoes with dill! It was delightful.

T: The wait wasn’t so bad.  Apparently Chicago understands that bringing a beverage to a waiting group will always make them happy!  I had the spinach, roasted red pepper and feta benedict.  The hollandaise.  And those poached eggs.  So creamy.  So delightful.  And those potatoes were crazy good.

R: We also ordered a plate of pumpkin pancakes for the table, which were served with some crazy maple cream cheese stuff.  We were stuffed to the gills.

T: Best Choice All Day.  Those pumpkin pancakes were A-MAZ-ING!  I was not hungry again til dinner time.  No kidding.

R: In the afternoon, we decided to just have a chill day.  We watched a movie, and sat around and talked.  We drank the last of my yuengling and planned to have stuffed pizza for dinner.  Now I know there are differing views on the best place for stuffed pizza, but I may have found a new favorite.  We went to Nancy’s on Broadway, mostly because it was close, also because I had heard good things.  Listen, that pizza was phenomenal.  And we stuffed it with onions, artichokes, spinach and green peppers. There was a nice balance between crust, cheese and stuffing.

T: Unlike a lot of stuffed pizza, this one managed to be fairly “light”.  Rachel and I split our second piece (I mean, they are huge pieces) but I certainly got my fill without worrying about wobbling onto the Megabus.

R: I think the weekend was, at least, a culinary/gastronomical success!  I still don’t know if I am keeping the sourdough starter Tracy brought along alive.  I’m not convinced it’s still growing.  And I still haven’t tried all the pickled/canned items I was gifted from Tracy’s larder.  However, it was a blessing to see my fabulous friend and spend real time in the kitchen.  We didn’t do a lot that didn’t involve eating, but we did have a lot of time to catch up with each other and our friends, which is really what sharing meals is all about.

T: A great [yummy] weekend indeed.  It was fantastic to meet members of Rachel’s Chicago life and to be reunited with some of our Toledo life.

The KitK ladies wish you all a week filled with good friends and good food.  Happy Eating!

Tequila in the Risotto

I was chatting with Tracy about the blog and what we’ve been cooking lately, and I realized that I’ve been thinking about risotto a lot.  I’ve had conversations about it and considered different ways to make it in my head.  I was thinking, particularly, about how much I enjoy white wine risotto, where you use broth to do most of the work and then add in white wine at the end for flavor.  It occurred to me, as I was chatting with Tracy, that I could maybe use other alcohols as well. I mean generally risotto has an italian flavor, but what if it was used to suck up something else, something like… tequila!

I am one of those people who finds the flavor of tequila pleasing, and enjoy when it is used as a marinade or an additive to other dishes.  So, after running the idea by Tracy, who wisely suggested also adding in cilantro to the dish, I decided to make Tequila Lime Risotto (as it will henceforth be called).  And to eat on the side, some tangy pan fried pork chops.

I used the basic portions and ratios from this recipe, but I will give you my recipe as I made it.

Tequila Lime Risotto

1 cup arborio rice

1 Tbsp olive oil

3.5 cups broth (chicken or veggie)

1/4 cup tequila

2-3 Tbsp lime juice

salt to taste

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

1/2 chopped tomato

Heat the broth and set aside.

Heat the oil in a medium size pot.  Add the rice and sautee for two minutes. Keep on medium heat.

Add a ladle full of broth to the rice and stir until the liquid has been absorbed.  Keep adding ladles of broth and stirring until the broth is absorbed until all the broth has been absorbed and the rice has a creamy consistancy.  This may take 20-30 minutes, depending on how patient you are and how quickly you are stirring in broth.

Once the broth is gone, add the tequila and lime juice, and stir until the are absorbed.  Taste the rice at this point to make sure it is tender and then add salt to your taste.  If your broth was pre-salted, you may not need to add any.

Throw in the cilantro and tomato and stir until they are warmed through and starting to cook.  It tastes best if they are not completely cooked, but rather, still juicy.

That’s Tequila Lime Risotto.  Try it and pair it with a spicy main or some zesty sides.  If you like the flavor of tequila, especially alongside lime, you will like this twist on the Italian flavor.

For the meat eaters out there, this is what I did to the pork chops.  They were boneless, thinly sliced porkchops.  I submerged them in apple cider vinegar with fresh ground black pepper, soul food seasoning, a little olive oil, and a splash of tequila.  After about 20 minutes to marinate, I threw them in a frying pan on high with a little more olive oil to fry 3-4 minutes on each side.  Then I let them brown on low, which made the whole house smell like pork.  Not a bad thing.

Well, that was a pretty decent meal. I had to make all my own lunches last week, but that definitely wasn’t worth posting about.  If you have never tried risotto, because you are afraid to stand stirring a pot for 20-30 minutes, then you need to get over yourself.  It’s one of the easiest gormet-esque things to do in the whole world. (Which is probably a grand overstatement, but whatever.)

Speaking of gormet things, I had brunch at a big deal brunch place on the Northside.  My meal consisted of blackberry and red plum bread pudding, two eggs over easy with freshmade green salsa, a crepe filled with butternut squash and applewood smoked bacon (and rosemary), and chicken sausage drizzled with red wine syrup.  And on top of that was Belgian hot chocolate made with soy milk.  We had to wait about an hour to get seated, but it was more than worth it.  Brunch is my new favorite thing. =)