Wednesday, February 22, 2012

C is for Carnivál and for Crepes

Carnival is to Spain what Halloween is to the U.S, minus the overabundance of prevocative costumes. It's refreshing really, to see people young and old, from all walks of life, get dressed up and take the streets, hammered. My friends and I started drinking at 5PM dressed as people upside down.
See below
Not only was this costume hideous and only discernable from the front, but it also made pee'ing a huge hassle.

Anyhow, one of the other great things about Carnivál here in Galicia are filloas (fee-joe-ahs) which are really really thin, salty, crepes. While they aren't exactly the easiest things to make, they are incredibly DELICIOUS and worth a try.

1.5 cups flour
4 cups water (for more flavor add 1/3 cup of chicken stock or caldo as they have here in Spain)
4 eggs
pinch of salt
butter for the pan

Batter up
Pour the water (with stock or into the bowl.
Add flour and mix with a hand mixer.
Add the eggs and salt and blend.
Chill in the fridge for 40 minutes.

Heat a medium sized pan on medium and add a little butter.Take a ladle and pour a small amount into a non-stick pan and swirl it around. If it creates a thin layer covering the pan repeat, if not add more or less accordingly.
The batter should start to make bubbles and look like a sponge. Cook until it starts to come away from the edges of the pan. Once it starts to pull away, take your hands (BE CAREFUL not to burn yourself) and peel it from the pan, flipping it over.

(note: be prepared to throw the first few or in my case dozen away)
Stack them on top of each other and eat with honey, cream, chocolate or fruit :)

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Week's Worth of Food

How much money do you spend on groceries every week?
How much do you eat every week?
When you think about the typical American diet, we eat a lot.

(Puto: Filipino rice cake)

These questions are highly subjective based on a person's
b)financial situation

Recently, Time Magazine featured an article in which it showed, what families around the world eat in a week. The disparity in diets is insane!

A new book by Peter Menzel, Hungry Planet, also delves into this topic, showing how our diets have rapidly evolved with the growth of food industries.

My reason for posting this is because I think it's important to be conscious of your food intake. All of us are guilty for sneaking in a pack of peanut M&M's here and there. What we don't realize is that these items ADD up. This week I CHALLENGE you to write down EVERY single thing you eat in detail. If you see something you don't like, as in, oh wow, I ate a whole bag of chips, try to omit them the next week.

Honestly, it seems like a lot of work, writing down everything you eat, but after seeing my friend Levon's post about his weekly intake, I decided I needed to drink the Kool Aid as well.

(PS Just case I haven't told you, I wrote a book. Not about food, but about life. Check it out, A beautiful Mess, and if you feel so inclied, BUY IT!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2012 New News Now (say that 10x fast)

Sorry for the terrible delay in blogs lately. My camera broke and until recently, I haven't found a decent replacement. Alas, thanks to my wonderful family, I have A CAMERA! (Somewhere a 12 year old is snickering at me as they're plugged into their iphone, ipod, mac, and ipad).

Anyhow, until I return to Spain and post something yummie allow me to tide you over with my favorite foodporn site, Foodgawker (Not really porn, but it's where I go to indulge my foodie wet dreams).

Friday, December 9, 2011

Saucy Mothers

In light of the most recent Top Chef episode I thought I'd do a blog on hot mother, sauces. These sauces are called mother sauces because they give birth to all the other varieties of finger-licking, bread mopping sauces. I don't know about you, but personally, a saucy meal is one of my definitions of heaven. Once you know them you can feel free to improvise and make other sauces, pouring them over whatever you like, including your significant other (for those of you who are into that).

There are five main mother sauces:
Béchamel (white cream sauce)
Velouté (chicken stock white sauce)
Espangole (brown meat sauce)
Hollandaise (egg based cream sauce)
Vinagrette (vinegar and oil)
(Tomate can also be considered the 6th mother sauce or, lady on the side)

1 part fat to 1 part flour with cream.
I usually melt 1 tb butter in a pan over LOW heat add 1 tb flour until the paste (roux) looks well incorporated, then slowly whisk in milk or cream.
(You can use this for mac 'n cheese, fettichini alfredo, mousaka, au gratin, or any creamy meal)

1 part fat to 1 part flour with chicken stock
Again, melt butter in a pan on low heat and add the flour to make the paste. Slowly add chicken stock, or another animal or fish stock of choice.
Baby sauces:
Allemande sauce - a veloute sauce made from veal stock with egg yolks and cream added.
Aurore sauce - puréed tomatoes are added.
Supreme sauce - a chicken veloute with mushrooms and cream.
Bercy sauce - a fish stock veloute with added shallots and white wine.

Start by sauteing your mirepoix (diced celery, carrots and onion) in butter. Stir in flour to make the roux. Slowly incorporate the meat stock (beef preferably) and a tbs of tomato paste or puree.
Let simmer until the liquid has reduced by a third.
(Pour this on any meat and you'll die, or use it to braise)

In a food emulsifier blend two egg yolks. Slowly add melted butter until the consistency is creamy. Finish with a squirt of lemon and season with salt and pepper.
(Great for brunch, on grilled salmon or asparagus)

The ratio of this sauce depends on the acidity of your pallet. I love acid so I go half and half but really most people do 2/3 oil to 1/3 vinegar. I also like to add minced garlic, onion, a squirt of lemon, and a tablespoon of honey with salt and pepper to finish. If you want the sauce to be a little thicker, add some mustard to your liking.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Turkey Spa- The secret to succulent TURKEY

Hey all you turkey virgins! Don't worry, Thanksgiving this year will not be at Boston Market. I have your answer to dry turkey!

Prep (24 hours in advance): A Lesson on Brining
A DAY before roasting, treat your turkey to a little TLC, a spa day if you will. A day where it gets to soak its little body in a salt bath, so that its meat can get nice and tender. Still not sold, take it up with Alton Brown

Emerge the turkey in an ice bath
Add 1 cup sugar (brown or white we're not racist)
Add 1 cup salt
Optional (bay leaf, cloves of garlic, peppercorns, chiliflakes, get fancy if you want)

Prep: T-Day
The turkey can't wait to get a tan, but first, you must take it from the bath and be sure to remove any excess water. Then rubb it generously with oil, salt, and pepper. Give it a nice massage.
Then you must decide whether to stuff your bird.

Stuffing the turkey
Why stuff? In this case, I'm in favor of false advertising, aka stuffing. Stuffing does add to cooking time but it's damn delicious. So you have two options- stuff the bird with stuffing (bread dressing as they say in England, I know gross) or place aromatic citric fruit and herbs inside. Your choice. I SAY STUFF.

Roasting the Turkey
Place the turkey breast side down in a pan and tie its legs shut.
Then roast it uncovered for 20 mins at 450 degrees F.
After, cover it with foil and turn down the heat to 250 degrees F, adding 20 additional minutes for each pound.
Remove the turkey from the oven, keep it covered, and let IT REST!
This allows the juices to stay within the meat.
Make the gravy from the drippings by whisking in butter and flour.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Grilled Cheese Revisited-Mediterranean Style

There are two things I crave at 2am and drunk from a night out, those being fried eggs and toast, OR grilled cheese. As much as I love grilled cheese, it can get a little monotonous. Luckily, the name of the dish lends itself for a wide array of interpretations as grilled cheese can pretty involve anything so much as it has melted cheese on bread. Am I right?

Using my left overs from last night's meal, I made this....
Goat Cheese, Sage, and Red Pepper Grilled Cheese, with a drizzle of honey!
I call it my Mediterranean Grilled Cheese

Mediterranean Grilled Cheese
5-6 thinly sliced slivers of roasted red peppers (I roast mine but bought are fine)
3 tbs goat cheese (creamy)
4 pieces of sage
tsp honey
1 tb olive oil (butter is fine, but olive oil is "healthier")

Directions....figure it out.

Try my Italian Grilled Cheese as well: buffalo mozzarella, tomato, and pesto.

Anyhow, this is just an idea, but feel free to get creative and give this American treat a non-reality show makeover!

Warning: Do not attempt this while drunk :-)
(Last time I tried to cook drunk I tried to make fried eggs. Got the cracking down, the landing however, not so much. Each egg ended up on the floor. Mind you, I repeated this 6 times. :-/)

Friday, November 11, 2011

What to Bring When Meeting Your Boyfriend's Parents...

Last weekend, I met my boyfriend's parents for the first time. As a serial monogamist, I consider myself somewhat of a professional girlfriend. Thus, I tend not to freak out when meeting the folks. I guess you can say, charming parents is sorta my thing. However, here in Spain, meeting the parents is kinda a big deal, especially when you're the first girl your boyfriend's brought home, an extranjera (foreigner), and speaking in another language (SPANISH). Oh, and did I mention he's his mom's favorite. No pressure, really.
Naturally, I couldn't go over to their house for lunch empty handed. I needed something to say, thank you for your hospitality, and moreover, hey don't worry I can cook, your son is in good hands. But what!?

Something different, so that his mom wouldn't feel the need to compare it to her cooking. Then again, something not too different, as it is Spain, and the people here are traditional, the very definition of, if it ain't broke don't fix it. Also, something easy that I couldn't fuck up and yet not so easy so that they thought I was a betty crocker box baker. Was I over thinking things? Obviously, but wouldn't you, if you were in my situation?

Looking over my recipes, I settled on pineapple upside-down cake. Easy, American, delicious. Sold. However, I made the mistake of telling my boyfriend he could help me. Love the guy, but doesn't know a thing about cooking. I told him to cream the sugar and the butter, fine.

Add, two eggs I said.
Beat them? he asked
Yes, mix them! I said.

I look over and he had beat the eggs separately from the sugar and butter, making scrambled eggs with a side of sugar butter. FAIL. I tried to save it but it was no use. We made a super bad fritata. :(
I tried again, this time with peaches because we didn't have any more pineapple, and I'm not sure if it was nerves or the time crunch but, yep, FAIL.

Eventually, we ended up buying bread on the side of the road, shaped like a wreath. His parents were so nice, they ooh'ed and ahh'ed at my bread, exclaiming how delicious it was. Truth be told, it was good, but not as good as the 7 plates his mom prepared for us. Anyhow, in the end, I think it all worked out. I ended up leaving with a 2lb doggie bag of food. :)

In short, the moral of the story is, BUY not BAKE, when meeting the parents for the first time.