Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Cold v.2

So I think I've come down with another cold.  I just had one about 3 weeks ago.  Sigh.

Today's eating journal:

Breakfast:  cheese quesadilla (stuffed with yesterday's fromage forte) with enchilada sauce, topped with a fried egg- earl grey tea.

Lunch:  Ramen noodles with home made seasonings (chicken base, soy, ginger, etc).

Dinner:  Jalapeno popper quiche and a strawberry/kale salad with balsamic vinaigrette.

Snack:  small snickerdoodle brownie

I'm not quite ready to share recipes for the cheese quesadilla with eggs or the jalapeno popper quiche.  I wasn't happy with the first versions.  After a little tweaking, I'll tell you all about them!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring Break- a great time for Fromage Fort!

Yay!  I know I started a blog eating diary, then promptly didn't post again for a week.  Believe it or not, there is a logical explanation for this.  I've been out of town, without access to the interwebz!  I figured I would hate it, but it turned into quite a restful experience.

Anyhoo- I will pick up where I left off.  The good news is, even though I haven't been blogging what I eat, I haven't had any fast food!

Today I had home made waffles, sausage and Earl Grey tea for breakfast, then a cheese quesadilla for lunch (filled with gruyere cheese).

When we got home earlier today, I realized I had a cheese drawer full of odds and ends of cheeses, all of which were very close to inedible.  Whilst trying to figure out what to do about them all, I remembered an old episode of Alton Brown's show "Good Eats."  In this particular episode, Alton uses up a bunch of cheeses by making Fromage Fort.  I figured I'd give it a try and see how I did.  He says you can use any cheeses.  I had these laying around:  gruyere, provolone, parmesan, Raspberry Bellavitano and Drunken Goat.  I used a Riesling because I didn't have any dry white wine around.

The spread turned out very well.  I predict we will be snacking on it happily for the rest of the week.  I'll take a pic of some later, when I feel like getting up off the couch!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


That's the only word I can think of to describe how I feel.

When I was younger, it seemed I had endless amounts of will power. I walked 3 miles a day after school and managed to understand and stick to reasonable portion sizes. Those days are gone.

In spite of my knowledge of cooking- and my militarism about food sourcing- I still manage to eat crap on a daily basis and talk myself out of most forms of exercise.

Maybe if I share what I eat daily on my blog, I will be shamed into making better choices. Lunch is my weakest time of day. I am usually hungry and aggravated. This is a perfect storm for an emotional eater like me.

Here's my first eating diary entry!

Breakfast- a juice glass of chocolate milk and a snicker doodle brownie ( in my defense it as made with unbleached organic flour!)

Lunch- beef taco salad from Taco Bell

Dinner- Tom Kha chicken soup and Tofu Pad Thai from Chang in Glenwood Springs. I shared green tea ice cream with Dev for dessert.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Dinner Last Night- BBQ Chicken Quesadilla

This dinner was a triumph over one of my biggest weaknesses when Dev is out of town- junk food.  I really wanted to order pizza and be done with it.  But a small voice inside me said "Don't do it."  I decided to make due with what I had.  And to be honest- it turned out to be one of the best quesadillas I've ever had.

I heated my small non-stick skillet over medium heat and added one large sliced shallot.  I let it caramelize for about 5 minutes, then chopped up the meat from on  roasted chicken leg quarter and added it to the carmelizing shallot.  I let those go for 5 more minutes, then dumped in about 1/8 a cup of bbq sauce (use whatever you have- I had Sweet Baby Ray's Spicy) and the juice of half a lemon.  I turned the heat on low and walked away.  Actually- "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" was coming on and I like that show.  I let it sit and slowly bubble for probably 45 minutes.  Do you have to do that?  No.  Am I glad I did it?  Yes.  The bbq sauce got reduced and glazed the pieces of chicken.  There were little bits of crunchy, charred sauce on the edges.  Yum.

I took one 6" flour tortilla and put it in my cast iron skillet with already heated olive oil.  I put the quesadilla on the bottom of the skillet and sprinkled on a fair amount of grated mozzarella cheese.  I put the chicken mixture on that, and finished with more grated cheese.  I cooked it over medium heat for about 5 minutes, then flipped it and let it go until the cheese on the other side was melted.

I plated it up with half a sliced avocado.  The combination of the sweet, spicy, crunchy meat and tortilla with the creamy, cold avocado was life-changing.  Seriously- make this soon!

Another Great Breakfast

This was my breakfast this morning.  IMHO, this is bread and egg elevated to their highest and purest form.

I started with two small slices of Dev's home made, no-knead bread.  I melted about a tablespoon of salted butter in a non-stick skillet and toasted the bread on both sides to get it nice and dark and crispy.

I put the toast on my plate, then added about a teaspoon more salted butter into the pan and added one farm fresh egg.  I spooned the spitting butter over the white part for a few seconds, then put a pan lid over the skillet to firm up the white part of the egg.  I didn't let it go very long, because I wanted that beautiful yolk to break over the toast when I ate it.  When the egg whites were firm, I slid the egg from the skillet and put it on top of the toast.  A little grated parmigiano reggiano (I think I spelled that really wrong- but I meant REAL parmesan cheese- not that crap out of the green canister).  I peppered it at the table and dug in.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tequila Lime Cod

This was an amazing dinner!  I scored a beautiful piece of sashimi grade tuna at Whole Foods last weekend.  I know Dev won't eat raw fish, so I was looking for a new recipe to use to cook some fish for him.  I found this recipe for tequila lime tilapia.  I used the marinade and breading recipes.  I used some cod fillets I already had in my freezer.  I served the baked cod on a bed of some simple sauteed kale with shallots and  red wine vinegar and put that on two fried wonton skins.  
I made tuna poke from the sashimi tuna.  I've blogged it before and I absolutely love it!

The Best Scrambled Eggs EVER!

Since I seem to be on a breakfast theme today, I will share my technique for scrambling eggs.  I mentioned in my last post that when I was younger, my favorite breakfast was a cheese omelet.   As I've gotten older, I don't like omelets as much.  This probably has more to do with having to do the cooking myself than it does with actually preferring the cooking method.  I find omelets unnecessarily fussy.  I am happier with a simple scramble.

I think everyone does scrambled eggs a little differently.  Some people like a drier, more well done egg.  I am a runny yolk person, so I like a softer, moister texture to my scrambled eggs.  I learned this technique from my friend Lizard.  She is an amazing cook and she shares my obsessive love of really good food.

Anyhoo- the best way I can think to describe this method is low and slow.  What makes barbecue meat so wonderful also transforms eggs to another level of yumminess.

I usually use 4 eggs if I'm cooking for Dev and myself.  I think a good rule of thumb is at least 2 eggs per person.  I break the eggs into a medium bowl and add a pinch of salt.  I used to use milk in my eggs, but I have switched to water.  I'm sure you can look on the internet and find good reasons to use either one.  I don't see a huge difference- and sometimes I don't have milk!  I also use a little more than a teaspoon of sriracha chile sauce in my eggs.  I think it gives them a bit of a kick- but most people don't even know it's there!  I whisk the eggs vigorously.  They should be completely combined before you cook them.  At this point I chop up whatever I'm going to add to my scramble and grate some cheese.

I heat a non-stick skillet over medium low heat.  I melt a pat of organic salted butter to the pan.  On this particular morning I had a piece of ham steak left in the fridge and decided to throw it in.  If you are using veggies or meat, go ahead and add it to the skillet after the butter melts so you can heat it up.  I let the ham pieces sizzle for about 5 minutes.  Don't turn the heat up.  The secret to these silky eggs is a low cooking temperature.  Pour the beaten eggs in with the ham or other veggies.  Scoot everything around and then leave it alone for a couple of minutes.  You will be tempted to turn up the heat to make it cook faster- BUT DON'T DO IT!  Your patience will be rewarded.  Every few minutes, run your spatula through the eggs and scoot things around a little.  You don't want to let big curds form.  As the eggs begin to set up, keep them moving around.  At this point you should be stirring them constantly.  When they look almost done- throw in your grated cheese.  I don't put cheese in at the beginning because I think it effects the way the eggs set up.  Waiting until the end preserves the flavor of the cheese and the texture of the scramble.  Scoot it all around for about another minute, then plate the eggs.  I like to use warm plates to keep the eggs warm as long as possible.  I garnish the eggs with fresh parsley and/or chopped scallions.  Sometimes I don't have either and I just eat the eggs the way they are!

Try this method to make scrambled eggs.  Tweak it however you need to.  Breakfast is such a great meal and you can always make better breakfast at home!

My Version of Hashbrowns

I love hashbrowns.  I always have.  When I was growing up back home in GA, we didn't go out for breakfast very often.  Of course, with parents who cooked like mine did, there was no need- but I never appreciated that when I was younger.  When I got older and got out on my own, going out for breakfast was a special treat.  Early on,  before I discovered my obsession with cooking at home, I thought a great breakfast was Waffle House.  My favorite breakfast at Waffle House?  An American cheese omelet with white bread toast and a huge order of scattered and smothered hashbrowns.  Looking back, I realize they were a greasy, gooey gut bomb- but at the time it was the greatest thing ever.
Fast forward a few years (ok- quite a few years).  I am married and live in a little Colorado town where decent restaurants don't really exist.  We do go out for breakfast every once in a while, but for the most part I'm happy creating amazing weekend breakfasts right in my own kitchen.  But one thing hasn't changed very much- I still love hashbrowns.  I finally have them down to a consistent science.  If you like your hashbrowns the way I like mine- slightly crispy and charred- full of onions and mushrooms- read on and make these as soon as possible!  The American cheese omelet and white bread toast are optional.

Here's the drill:

I use frozen shredded potatoes.  Yes- I could grate a potato on my own, but I choose to spend my time doing other things (like eating hashbrowns sooner).  I always use my daddy's cast iron skillet, because it is incredibly well seasoned and nothing sticks to it.  If you have any doubt at all about yours- use a non-stick skillet.  These potatoes will bond to any not non-stick surface.  To clean the pan you'd have to soak it for a week.

Anyhoo- I heat up the iron skillet over medium heat and put in a good bit of olive oil and bacon drippins.  While that is melting, chop up about half of a medium onion.  I usually leave mine in fairly large pieces, so I know they're there.  If I have mushrooms, I'll slice those and throw them in the skillet as well.  You can use any veggies or leftover cooked meat you have around.  After that gets to sizzling, I throw in about 4 good handfuls of the still frozen potatoes.  I mix it around a little then try to leave it alone while I move on to other parts of breakfast.  I want a nice crust to form at the bottom of the pan.  But keep an eye on it- you don't want to flat out burn it!  I use a spatula to turn large portions of them over in an attempt to preserve the crusty-charred part.  When they are appropriately crusty and charred, I put the heat on low and leave them until the rest of breakfast is ready.  When I plate them, I garnish with fresh chopped scallions, if I have them.  I love the combination of the grilled onions in the hashbrowns with the bite of raw onion on the top.

This is one of the few dishes I honestly think I do better than any restaurant version I've ever had.  When I order hashbrowns out, I am always disappointed.  

I hope these turn out well for you.  If you don't have the well-seasoned cast iron skillet, it really is worth the investment (and really- they aren't horribly expensive and they last forever- you'll be leaving it to some lucky person in your will).
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