Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"Woody Guthrie sang about b-e-e-t-s...

...not b.e.a.t.s." I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts - Jon Doe & Exene Cervenka.
Everyone gets a craving now and then, ice cream, pickles, a really good burger, but how many people - besides me and the insane - stop dead in their tracks between loads of laundry and decide they have to have beets for dinner. Don’t answer that, I already know.
I hated beets as a kid, but I grew up with those nasty things that came canned so, no wonder, right? But years ago I was in a restaurant, who knows now which one or where, when the server convinced me to try a roasted beet salad before my entree. It was an epiphany. They were woody, earthy, and just a little sweet from the caramelized sugars. I probably made a cartoon face after the first bite.
Roasted Beet Salad with Balsamic Glaze - by Blog O. Food
  • 4 medium-sized beets, greens trimmed and well scrubbed
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • 6 oz pancetta, cut into ¼" cubes
  • 2 Tbsp, toasted shaved almonds
  • ½ lb Frisée, torn apart
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2-4 Tbsp lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a small baking dish with aluminum foil. Rub beets with olive oil and season with salt, then place in a single layer in the dish. Cover the beets with another piece of foil. Bake for at least 90 minutes. You can test for doneness by piercing the beets with a fork, but the longer they roast, the sweeter they'll get.
While the beets roast, render the fat out of the pancetta by browning in a small skillet over medium to medium-low heat. Start everything out with a  dollop of bacon fat like your granny taught you. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10-15 minutes, or until crispy and all the fat rendered. Reserve fat for future use. I use a creamer I bought on Great Chebeague. Grandma used a coffee can, you can too. It'll add the faintest soupçon of legitimacy to your kitchen. I keep mine frozen between uses.
Once you've removed the beets from the oven and they're cooling, start the balsamic glaze. In a small skillet add the vinegar and sugar. Heat on high until the vinegar has reduced to a thick syrup. Stir in the lemon juice and remove from the heat.
Once the beets are cool enough to handle, carefully peel away the outer skin. Yes, this fastidiously anal Nancy uses gloves. Do you know how expensive a manicure is these days! Quarter the beets.
Add the beets, pancetta, and lemon zest to the Frisée in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle the balsamic glaze over the ingredients and gently toss to distribute everything. Pile servings on salad plates, sprinkle the almonds on top, and garnish with lemon wedges. Serves 3-4 as a starter salad.
I got my vegetables, greens, protein and a little crunch all from one dish, and a tasty one at that. Kinda nice to eat light and healthy, and just in time for bikini season!
Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food
Although my boy Matty O. Food hasn't worn a bikini in years, he knows this recipe is for him. Three words, bro: Show And Tell.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Just One More

Omelet - Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown at the Food Network
  • 3 eggs
  • Salt
  • 1 tsp room temperature butter, plus ½ tsp for finishing omelet
  • ½ teaspoon fresh chopped chives
Crack warm eggs into a mixing bowl, add a pinch of salt, and beat with a fork. Heat a 10" skillet or medium-high heat. Once pan is hot, add butter and brush around the surface of the pan. Pour eggs into center of pan and stir vigorously with a rubber spatula for 5 seconds. As soon as a semi-solid mass begins to form, lift the pan and swirl around to distribute the excess liquid egg pours into the pan. Using your spatula, move around the edge of the egg mixture to help shape into a round and loosened edge. Let omelet sit in pan for 10 seconds without touching.
Shake pan to loosen omelet for the bottom of the pan. Lift up the far edge of the pan and snap it back toward you. Using your spatula, fold over 1/3 of the omelet. Slide it onto a plate and fold over the other third, so that the omelet is a tri-fold. Coat with remaining butter and sprinkle with chives. Serve immediately.
Okay, this is not Alton's or even Julia Child's omelet. The poor girl is probably rolling over in her grave. But I'm just a lowbrow food blogger, and a purist only when it's convenient. I like STUFF in my omelet, but really I was looking for a way to use up the last of this week's asparagus.
I chopped several stalks of asparagus on a bias and pan-seared them in some hot olive oil for about 3-4 minutes, tossing frequently. I drained them and set them aside while I used the same pan to cook the egg (don't forget to add butter before cooking them). Just before I made the first 1/3 flip of the omelet, I added the asparagus and some grated cheese, in this case, smoked gouda. Then I followed the remainder of Alton's procedures. Want a pretty plate? Slice some fresh strawberries and fan out on the sides of the dish. Blueberries would have been good too. Ooh! Raspberries AND blueberries! Okay, I'm getting carried away here.
So, cooking for one still sucks, but the dishes don't have to. Next time you're home alone and want a quick, easy meal for yourself, you know where to turn.
Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food

Thursday, June 16, 2011

So Easy. So Good.

I've said it once; I'll say it again, cooking for one sucks. Sometimes it takes every fiber in my being not to chuck it all and put every single local restaurant's phone number on speed dial. Seriously. Luckily though, Melissa Clark of the NY Times came to my rescue just in the nick of time with some easy, fresh and seasonal dishes that fairly scream "loser, party of one."
Roasted Asparagus with Hard-Cooked Eggs and Sesame Salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ lb asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Salt and black pepper
  • ¾ tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
To keep eggs from cracking, let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Pierce the larger round end of the eggs with an egg prick or safety pin, then place in a saucepan just large enough that eggs sit in a single layer. Fill the pan with enough tepid water to cover the eggs by 1 inch. Add 1 teaspoon of salt. Over high heat, bring water just to a low boil, then remove from heat, and cover. Begin timing immediately, 8 minutes for firm yolks. Transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water to stop cooking and allow to cool completely. On a work surface, gently tap eggs all over to crack. Peel under cold running water with a sharp paring knife. Chop fine, or cut with an egg slicer.
Preheat oven to 400°. Toss asparagus with olive oil and spread over a large baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Roast, turning occasionally, until crispy-tender, about ten minutes, then transfer to a platter.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet, toast sesame seeds over medium heat until fragrant and just golden, about 1 minute. Pour into a bowl and toss with the coarse salt.
Melt butter in the same skillet and allow to develop a little color, about 4 minutes. Turn off heat and toss in peeled, sliced eggs.
To serve, spoon the egg mixture over the asparagus, then sprinkle with sesame salt. Top with shavings of fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Pan-seared Asparagus Salad with Frisée and Fried Egg
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt
  • ¾ tsp finely chopped anchovy
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ lb asparagus, trimmed
  • 1½ cups torn Frisée lettuce
  • 2 large eggs
  • Black pepper
Mash garlic and a pinch of salt into a paste with the side of a knife. Mix in a small bowl with anchovy, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of oil.
Place a large skillet over medium-high heat for 20 seconds. Add 3 tablespoons of oil. When it shimmers, add the asparagus. Toss occasionally until golden brown and almost tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and cook until tender, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a large bowl; add Frisée and the garlic-anchovy dressing and toss gently.
Return skillet to medium heat and add the remaining oil. Crack eggs; season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook until the eggs are just set, about 3 minutes. To serve, arrange salad on a plate and top with eggs.
Eggs and asparagus. Genius, pure genius. Each dish took about 20 minutes to prepare from start to finish. I only wish I could say it took that long to wolf it down! Let's not get all hyperbolical with the claim that Melissa saved my life, but she did keep me from despair for another week.
Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food