I sifted through countless submissions for the first Supertaster Photo Challenge. Taking into account photo quality, food pictured, and originality, this Set Dinner Here reader is the winner! He took on the task of cooking rabbit and made a nice sounding stew. I especially enjoyed the irony with Easter around the corner. Don't worry kids, it's not the Easter Bunny.
First Runner Up: That's a big cupcake!
Second Runner Up: This photo was sent in from fellow food blogger, Fidel Gastro. Mr. Gastro is making it happen, especially when it comes to cooking pizza.
Honorable Mention: These meals look fabulous and well-rounded. Nice presentation!
Note the New Glarus Brewing Co. bottle in the photo on the right. If you can get your hands on any of their libations, do it. This beer makes me proud to be from 'Sconny
One of the nice things that I didn't anticipate when I started this blog is the random photos that people send me of what they are cooked up. It is a relief to see that I am not the only one spending time on plating at home.
Here are a few photos sent to me this week by some loyal readers:
This desert pizza is another outstanding Pre-K snack. My niece has it good.
A good tuna casserole? Curriculum Kate found one, made it, and sent in a picture. Hopefully she will post a recipe in the comments...(hint, hint)
Another vegetarian meal--what is happening to my blog!?! This grilled asparagus, salad with balsamic dressing (the good stuff-from Pizzeria Paradiso), and bruschetta was created by the guy who puts the Pal in Principal.
The challenge: Send me a photo (firstname.lastname@example.org) of something you made. Next Friday, I will post the best food related photo received.
If you need inspiration, check out the snapshots on The Kitchen Sink. A buddy pointed this blog out--The photos are remarkable.
This post is a shout out to two of my favorite people-- a little frodo that was a former roommate and an enormous dude who goes by "Gorgeous." The frodo makes food that only originates in cans, so beans have always been in her rotation. Gorgeous runs a nice little vegetarian blog over at setdinnerhereveg.
I love meat. A lot. But this black bean burger gives this carnivore some doubts. It is the first vegetarian meal that made its way into the Supertaster's dinner rotation.
This meal is also perfect for for our struggling economy. If you have a decently stocked pantry with bread crumbs, cayenne, oregano, and cumin, all you need are two can of bean. And if you don't have any cumin, I know a guy who knows a guy.
When I was growing up my absolute favorite meal was my mom's tortellini soup. I looked forward to it at every holiday and still request it when I am heading home to visit. But the whole "creamy cheese" part would have been touch and go fifteen years ago. Oh, how sophisticated I have become...
To relive my mom's tortellini glory days, I often pick up a package at Vace (best pizza in DC) or the local Teeter. I usually just boil it and throw it in some sauce or chicken stock, so this recipe presented a spring overhaul to a tired meal.
Minor adjustments: I grated the lemon peel and left it in the broth--I was worried about a lack of zest. I also grated "the undisputed king of cheese" over the top and finished it with a bit of crushed black pepper. This added a little bit of flavor and also made the bowl super fancy looking.
Results: This recipe was not just all looks, it was a bowl of deliciousness. So easy you can g-chat with Adelbert during the whole process.
J-Nice and I lost a game of doubles tennis yesterday to our better halves and were "forced" to cook breakfast this morning for them. For the record, we let them win because we were worried about Ms. Supertaster and Jeff in the kitchen, at the same time. We settled on this breakfast pizza because we had most of the ingredients in house already.
Results: Super delicious.
Slight Changes: We made the executive decision to add a few thin slices of tomato to the pizzas--a good call. The local Teeter did not carry ciabatta bread so we substituted a Italian round loaf. This did not affect the taste, but the flatness of the cibaatta was missed. A few of our pizzas were a tad topsy-turvey...
Today, the Supertasters took a trip to Bluffton, SC to purchase some fresh seafood at the Bluffton Oyster Co. Everyone down here talks about the place and I was excited to get my hands on whatever was fresh.
Since I couldn't take a picture of the ladies shucking the oysters, I took a picture of the sign proclaiming such. Oddly enough, there were no ladies to be found. I wish I snapped a photo of the enormous pile of oyster shells outside the building and the pelican sitting on top.
We ended up buying a large piece of snapper and two trigger fillets. I found this recipe for red snapper and used it for both types of fish.
The results: The vinaigrette was simple and worked with both fish. The grilled mango (with a dash of cumin) pleased everyone--even those who doubted applauded.
I have access to a grill and lots of new local ingredients this week in Hilton Head and wanted to keep everyone updated on what's cookin'. Both the concept of jerk and curry together (and the fact that I am so close to Georgia) made me zip out to the grocery store for this interesting recipe. Only later did I found out that peak peach season in in August.
From the start I was nervous. The jerk marinade ended up looking more like split pea soup than any other jerk I have experimented with and the peaches were not as sweet as they will be in three months. But everything smelled right so I just kept on trucking. I started adding anything I could find to work on the consistency of the marinade. I ended up adding cinnamon, brown sugar, and onion, lots of garlic and some orange juice.
The pork tenderloin was spot on--juicy and flavorful. After a spicy meal last night, I thought that my dinner guests might start complaining of heart burn, but this is not that hot. I ended up grilling the tenderloin for around 20 min. and letting it rest for 15.
The peach and tomato curry on the side was not as good as advertised. Even after doubling the curry, I didn't even get a hint of that flavor. The concept of the relish is still so interesting that I will definitely make another attempt later in the summer.
Warning to the weeknight cooks: Like most jerked meat, this dish takes several hours of marinading and should be prepared the night before.
Lingering Thoughts: They have you blanch and peel the tomatoes and peaches. If I had to do this again, I would buy canned whole peaches and tomatoes, especially if they are not in season.
The name of this recipe might not roll off the tongue, but sure does taste good. This recipe is not difficult technically--just some chopping and pan frying. No saffron in the cupboard? No problem. There is a hefty ingredients list, but there are enough flavors that you could drop one and still have an extremely flavorful meal.
The lemon and citrus in the gremolata adds a crisp taste to your average piece of chicken. Spring is sprung, so start cooking.
During our throwback week, both Ms. Supertaster and I were looking forward to making (and eating) this pasta dish again. Unlike most baked pastas, the majority of the cooking is done on the stove and then finished in the broiler. This method saves a good amount of time making this a perfect hearty weekday meal.
This meal is also greater than the sum of its parts. Pick up some sausage, mozzarella, mushrooms, and cream at the store this weekend and you will immediately add this to your list of favorites.
Product plug: I used fresh mozzarella from my friends at Blue Ridge Dairy Co. This is a great article on DCFoodies about an applewood smoked mozzarella that I look forward to sampling soon!
This is one of those sandwiches that is just as good, if not better, the second day. But if you make this monte cristo-style sandwich, don't skimp on the ingredients. Besides the "french-toasty" bread, the majority of the flavor comes from the meats. Make sure you pick up some quality ham and turkey from a good deli. Biggest lesson learned: pickles are underused. I don't think that I will be able to make a sandwich without slices of dill pickles ever again.
About twice a month, Ms. Supertaster lets me know that she has a hankering for Chicken Corn Chowder. Luckily, this is wish is easy to grant. This chowder is one of the few recipes that I can make from memory. All you need are a few cans, some frozen corn and rotisserie--it's just that easy.
The recipe can not be found on the world wide web, only in Ms. Supertaster's mother's noggin. I am seeking the rights to post the recipe now, but you can see the well-loved list of ingredients below.
After the poll drama and a considerable amount of pouting from a reliable reader, I decided to post about the Chicken Key Lime Curry. My curry background: A year or two ago I discovered a quick meal by throwing some chicken or shrimp in a pan and adding coconut milk and curry paste. This great introduction got bland around the fortieth time. I dabbled in adding onions, tomatoes, and a variety of spices. The addition of the key limes to the supertaster curry is the logical extention.
I will incorporate limes in curry in the future, but will let people know that they shouldn't eat the lime peels before they dig in. Bottom line: this recipe will not replace the curry recipe that I will continue to go back to. I love the heat and combination of spices of my old standby.
The Supertaster household decided to return to some of its old favorites this week. Up first was this delicious Korean-inspired salmon dish. My buddy Adelbert (who turns 21 tomorrow) introduced me to the Korean barbeque experience--everything from gelatinous acorns to bi-bim-bop--and I have been a huge fan ever since. As long as you have an oven and a half hour to spend in the kitchen, you can't go wrong with this meal.
After an amazing race, the Lamb and Eggplant Shepherd's Pie emerged victorious. (I have to admit that I was excited about this one and voted for it myself.) There are several steps to this recipe so I decided to break it down into two nights. I have come to find out over the past few years that you can substitute "comfort food" with "takes a long time to cook." I made the filling and potatoes on Wednesday and then assembled and cooked on Thursday.
There are two main portions to any shepherd's pie--the filling and the topping. The topping is creamy, made from peeled Russett potatoes, butter, goat cheese and whole milk. This was a departure from the usual mashed potatoes that I have come to love. Usually, I roast a couple of heads of garlic in the oven and squeeze out the cloves into unpeeled Yukon Golds with butter and heavy cream. The filling was good, especially the lamb. I don't eat a lot lamb and loved finding little pieces tucked in the pie. The meat was by far the most interesting part of the dish; but due to the lengthy prep and cook time, I don't think that I am going to make this one again.
I may be breaking some polling rules here, but I had to let everyone know about this Black-Eyed Pea and Shrimp situation. Those of you looking for an easy, affordable Fat Tuesday meal--this is the one! All you need is some king cake and Turbo Dog to make your Marti Gras meal complete.
On the way home from dinner at Belga Cafe' (go with the steak) with friends, Ms. Supertaster had the idea to post a weekly menu so that readers will have some idea of what is going on in the kitchen besides just the posted recipes. This morning I though I could take her wonderful idea one step further and make this whole experience interactive. Here is what I am planning on making this week--now vote on what you want to read about!
This recipe immediately jumped out at me from the last Bon Appetit because of the unique technique of wrapping the fillets with potato. There is actually a step-by-step lesson in the back of the magazine. It seemed challenging and delicious. I began by slicing the Yukon Gold potatoes as thin as possible with my chef's knife -- Bon Appetit recommends using a mandolin or V-slicer. I feel like I am handy with a knife and am looking forward to improving when I go to CulinAerie in a few weekends. I cut the potatoes thin, but apparently not thin enough. Even when I "pressed to adhere" as it called for in the recipe, I could not get the potatoes to stay wrapped. When I started to pan fry the fillets, they immediately fell apart. Not to be denied, I set up the Cuisinart and tried to slice the potatoes using one of the attachments. This process created mini potato chips that I used to cover a thinly slice piece of fish. Still a total disaster.
The photo to the left is what Bon Appetit advertised; the other is my best (and third) attempt. I don't know if mandolin would have helped--this meal is not easy to make. Even if you could get the potato around the fish, it would be hard to fry the potatoes and fish so one didn't get over or undercooked.
"This is a keeper." That's all the feedback I got from my dinner guest this evening (Ms. Supertaster is out of town this week), but he did clean his plate. Who wouldn't be a part of the Clean Plate Club with a bourbon soaked hunk of pork on it?
The most impressive part of this recipe is the short amount of time it takes to make the light, flavorful sauce. The fresh mint really complements the pork and the sweetness of the sauce. But, in all honesty, for me it was all about the bourbon. I am a big bourbon backer and was psyched to find a meal that incorporated my favorite booze. For those of you looking to get into bourbon, I recommend starting with the Eagle Rare Reserve. It is easy on both the the palate and the pocketbook. Corner Creek is outstanding, if you can find it. (I received a bottle as a wedding present from the same couple who brought the fryer into my life. You might want to make room on the guest list for those two.) If you have an extra C-note lying around, feel free to buy me a bottle of Pappy. I just sipped on the 12-year and can't imagine what the 20-year family reserve has in store.
The only major change was to the cut of the pork chop. I substituted a center cut butterflied chop for the bone-in rib chop because they didn't offer anything else at the farmers market. The cooking time was longer than advertised and I had to stick the chops in the oven to achieve the desired temperature. I also served a side of garlic mashed potatoes that were left over from the low-key-V-day meal.
Most recipes include active prep time and start to finish time. I pay attention to these times to achieve my goal of getting dinner on the table by eight. Tonight I decided to put these times (and my prep skills) to the test. I cooked Pork, Mushroom, and Snow-Pea Stir-Fry from Gourmet's Quick Kitchen section while using my trusty stopwatch. This meal advertises an active time of 10 minutes, and 20 minutes from start to finish; but what times are we talking about for the cook that likes to drink a vodka tonic during preparation?
I started the clock and immediately got the rice steaming. Removing the strings from the Snow-Peas took the longest time, but luckily I have minced enough garlic to complete both preps in about five minutes. I moved to trimming the pork tenderloin--thankfully, a lean cut of meat--and sliced it. I didn't cut any corners in the cooking process. I cooked the pork, then the snow-pea and garlic, followed by the mushrooms. By the time everything was cooked through and plated, we were looking at just over 30 minutes. I was well over the buzzer.
Now to the meal! Best of all pork ended up tender, while the veggies stayed crisp. The sauce, only flavored by teriyaki, was a bit weak. I snuck in some hoisin when nobody was looking to provide a much needed punch.
Surprisingly, I don't have much to say about this recipe itself. Besides the somewhat exotic protein, not much adventure or flavor breakthrough with the burger itself. The Cabernet onions, however, were easy to produce and a nice touch. Toasting the cheese on the bun worked well -- this process achieved the desired meltiness without overcooking the burger.
This meal did provide me with an opportunity to break out one of my favorite wedding gifts: the deep fryer. All you engaged people out there, think about throwing this on the registry. It is compact (about the size of a toaster) and remarkably well-made. Most of the contraption is dish washer safe so clean-up easy. It holds a liter of oil making it perfect for a small batch of wings, fish or fries. I found the key to good fries is to cook them twice--this ensures that the fries are crisp and cooked all the way through. If you don't want turn on the stove, here are a few places to get great burgers in DC. Five Guys is always consistent and a classic. The fries are fantastic and you always know where the potatoes originated. Hopefully, you don't have a peanut allergy so you can enjoy the free shelled peanuts while you wait for your never-frozen patty to cook. Good Stuff Eatery came on the burger scene recently. Besides a outstanding burger, you can order milkshakes (I enjoyed the Milky Way) or draft beer. For all you Top Chef fans, this is what Spike has been doing since packing his knives. I most recently visited Ray's Hell Burger in Arlington. This is the sister restaurant to Ray's the Steaks and is in the same funny little strip mall on Wilson Blvd. They have root beer on draft and several ways to order burgers, including au poivre. This messy burger is worth sacrificing a more than a few napkins.
I purchased a two whole chickens at the Harris Teeter in Adams Morgan a few weeks ago. If you have not been to this grocery store, you're missing out -- especially if you are shopping at the miserable Giant by the Columbia Heights Metro stop. Every part of the shopping experience is more enjoyable than other local groceries: the food is well stocked, there are good specials every week, checkout lines move quickly, and most people are there simply to shop. (In fact, the only negative thing I've heard about the entire store is that a business manager may or may not have purchased spoiled garlic. For the record, I never saw the garlic.)
I originally planned to butcher the chickens and fry them. I am trying to perfect a nice fried chicken, but had to change plans after buying the Wii Fit this past weekend. An "overweight 43 year old" (thanks, Wii Fit) does not need any fried food. Luckily, I stumbled on a recipe for a Special Sunday Roast Chicken. I ended up cooking the bird on a Wednesday -- with hopes that it would end up as delicious as advertised.
Verdict: The actual roast chicken is nothing unusual. Schmearing the shallot/sage-butter on top and under the skin helps, but doesn't take the meal to another level. I really enjoyed the sweet potato and parsnip, however. These two tubers don't make it into enough meals, in my opinion.
I have include a large photograph of the presentation over wilted greens. Thanks to Andrew for the feedback!
I couldn't pass up the opportunity this past weekend to purchase some veal at the Arlington Farmer's Market from my friends at EcoFriendly Foods. Here is what they say about their veal:
"We’d like to continue to promote our new veal program. Most veal production models do not fall within our comfort zone of what we consider humane but we’re now supplying an alternative known as “Rose Veal”. Rather than being an adjunct of the dairy industry, Rose Veal is a focused production model where the calves are left with the mothers throughout their lives. These animals are approximately five months old and have been raised with their mothers on pasture. Their diet consists of mother’s milk and as much grass as their developing palettes care to eat. It’s this limited grazing that gives the meat its ‘Rose’ color, and characteristic flavor."
It worked out quite well that there was a recipe for veal cacciatore in the latest issue of Gourmet. Now, I ate my fair share of cacciatore when I was a youngster, but I gave my poor Italian mother hell every time. I was more than a picky eater and actually rinsed off the chicken in the sink right before dinner. Sorry, Mom.
I used a little less than 2 pounds of veal and it was not enough. I didn't modify the cooking time to accomodate the size of the veal; I wasted an hour and a half cooking (well, overcooking) the meat, and we don't have any left-overs. Luckily, we had a copy of "Slumdog Millionaire" to watch, so not all time was ill spent.
This dish was also a perfect opportunity to try out a holiday gift from my better half. This apron looks awkward when you first put it on, yet the handiness of the oven mitts makes up for any fashion faux pas when you are lugging cast iron out of the oven a few times.
Here we go, people. This is hopefully the first of many posts about the meals that Kate and I are eating each night. I started putting up the titles of the recipes in my g-chat status as I cooked and people seemed to notice, respond, tell me what they were eating, and poke fun.
This chili recipe is Texas-style--spicy and meaty. I used a "mock tenderloin" purchased from Eco Friendly Foods at the Arlington Farmers Market. I also picked up this mole at Harris Teeter; if I was more motivated I would have gone to Bestway. I have never cooked with mole before and was surprised by the packaging and consistency. When I finally got the can/jar opened, there was a runny liquid on top and an almost-dark-chocolate-like substance underneath. I set a few spoonfuls out on the counter and it slowly started to look like the mole I have tasted at places like Casa Oaxaca in Adams Morgan. There were no directions for cooking with mole in the Bon Appetit, which I thought was strange.
The "broth" was very rich, spicy, and flavorful. We put a few spoonfuls of black beans on top which diluted the chili. Kate (shockingly) smothered hers in sour cream and added some cheddar cheese to increase the creaminess. We both cleaned our bowls using some chips and our palates with a Miller Light.