Saturday, June 26, 2010

Frosty beverage combats threat of triple-digit torture

The National Weather Service is hinting at a triple-digit Sunday here in Sacramento. Here’s a cool little cocktail sure to help you simmer down.

Cherry Lime Cooler
3 ounces vodka (two shots)
Equal parts cherry limeade and soda water (I used about ½ cup each)
Lime wedge

Fill tall glass (we have a kitchen stocked with pint glasses, and these work just fine) with ice. Add vodka, cherry limeade and soda water. Stir, garnish with lime wedge and enjoy.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

These are a few of my favorite things – summer edition

This snapshot captures just a few of the many, many things I love about summer. You can’t go wrong with dining on the patio, grilled skewers, sun tea and chilled rose, which I’ve really grown to appreciate over the past couple scorching Sacramento summers. The bottle on this particular night was a Grenache Rose from Hatcher Winery out of Murphys (one of my absolute favorite towns for wine tasting).

Monday, June 21, 2010

Celebrating the start of summer with a sassy salad

I thought we’d celebrate the first day of summer with something fresh and flavorful.

I’ve had steak on the brain the past few days, as well as Thai food, so this is the end result of some different cravings, with a little inspiration from this recipe I found online.

This dish will definitely make its way back to the dinner table once Sacramento starts hitting triple digits, both because it tastes great but also because it requires minimal cooking.

Thai Beef Noodle Salad
2 pounds flank steak
1 ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
½ cup honey
6 tablespoons and two teaspoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 Serrano chile, seeds removed and chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
6 tablespoons minced ginger
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 6-ounce package mung bean noodles
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 cup bean sprouts
1 cucumber, cut into chunks
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
¼ cup green onion, sliced

Whisk honey, 1 cup soy sauce, 6 tablespoons fish sauce, 1 tablespoon lime juice, half the serrano, 3 cloves garlic and 3 tablespoons ginger in bowl; add steak. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes. Heat grill to medium-high and cook steaks 4-5 minutes on each side, until medium. Let cool and slice thin.

Mix remaining soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, Serrano, garlic and ginger in bowl with sesame oil and rice wine vinegar. Cover and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Cook noodles according to package instructions, drain using colander and rinse in cold water before placing in a bowl.Place colander over noodle bowl and pour dressing into colander. Discard leftover Serrano, garlic and ginger left in the colander.

Toss noodles with bell pepper, cucumber, sprouts, cilantro and green onion. Scoop noodle salad onto plates and top with a few slices of steak.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Snapshots from the kitchen

I crashed a cooking class for kids the other day and while there I snapped some quick detail shots of the groupings of kitchen tools. Nothing fancy, but I'm a big fan of color in the kitchen and just thought these were fun.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Eating like a rock star in San Diego

I’m officially a marathoner!

Chris and I spent the weekend down in San Diego, where we both ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. And while it might have felt like it, especially around mile 25, we didn’t spend the entire time running. There was a lot of relaxing, as well as a lot of eating, both before and after Sunday’s race.

Here’s a rundown of some of the places we tried.

Rama Thai
We spent Friday and Saturday ingesting some serious carbs, while keeping meat, spicy dishes and dairy at a minimum. Friday night we feasted on Rama Thai’s Pad Thai with chicken, Drunken Noodles with beef, and the Birds Nest, a brothy dish with crispy noodles, shrimp, chicken, bamboo shoots and fresh vegetables.

Bencotto Italian Kitchen
I stumbled upon this newer Little Italy eatery via Yelp. For our last big pre-race meal Chris and I both opted for pasta bowls. Bencotto offers Pasta a Modo Tuo (pasta your way), allowing diners to pick between nine sauce choices and eight pastas, which are all made daily in house. While I thoroughly enjoyed my salsiccia (sausage in spicy tomato sauce) atop pappardelle (large hand-cut fettuccine), Bencotto’s menu featured many other tempting dishes I would have loved to try if I wasn’t uber-paranoid about my stomach.

Karl Strauss Brewing Company
Our post-race binge-fest took place at Karl Strauss’ downtown location. We tried the beer sampler and both honed in on the Pintail Pale Ale. Chris went for the chipotle-marinated flat iron steak, and I refueled with their Turkey Bleus Burger, a turkey burger with gorgonzola and pesto mayonnaise, with a side of some deliciously stinky garlic Parmesan fries.

El Vitral
A couple hours later we were ready to do some more eating, and enjoyed a light dinner of tacos at El Vitral, right next to PETCO Park, home of the Padres. Two taco plates did the trick — the Camaron Enchilados, made with spicy shrimp and mushrooms and topped with avocado cream, and the Taco de Dorado (beer-battered mahi mahi with slaw, salsa verde, crema fresca and chipotle aioli) were gone in no time.

Broken Yolk Café
Monday morning we hobbled down the street to the Broken Yolk Café for breakfast, where I indulged in Betty’s Southern Biscuits and Gravy and eggs over medium. We each ordered a mimosa and learned that we could get a full bottle of champagne for the price of those two drinks, and soon after a chilled bottle of bubbly and mini carafes of orange and pomegranate juices ended up at our table. Definitely helped ease the sore legs a bit!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Red snapper ... very tasty!

Up until recently, my only connection to red snapper was thanks to Weird Al Yankovic.

Ever see the cinematic tour de force “UHF”? A scene in the movie focuses on a game show, “Wheel of Fish,” where contestants spin the wheel in hopes of winning their weight in fish.

Good ol’ Phyllis Weaver is the first contestant to take a spin.

“A red snapper… very tasty!” comments the host.

Fast forward to last weekend, when I bought red snapper for the first time. For my first time working with this fish I opted for something fresh and easy, using this Gourmet recipe for guidance. It was a good resource since I’d never prepared red snapper and didn’t want to overcook the fish.

Red Snapper with Spicy Soy
One pound red snapper, cut into 4 four-ounce fillets, skin on
1 crown broccoli, chopped
1 bunch baby bok choy, washed and chopped
1 pound brown mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced, divided
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup brown sugar
One walnut-size chunk ginger, peeled and sliced, divided
1 teaspoon sambal oelek
1 tablespoon oil, divided

To prepare sauce:
In a small saucepan over low heat, warm soy sauce, brown sugar, half of the minced garlic, half of the ginger and sambal oelek.

To prepare vegetables:
Stir-fry mushrooms and broccoli in non-stick pan for 3-5 minutes before adding bok choy. Cook a couple minutes more, until mushrooms are soft and broccoli is cooked but still a little firm.

To prepare snapper:
Lightly coat bottom of an 8-by-8 glass baking dish with half the olive oil and preheat in the oven at 275 degrees.
Heat the remaining olive oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and sauté two fillets at a time, skin side down, until skin is golden brown, about one minute. Turn fillets over and sauté until golden, about 30 seconds more. Remove fillets from pan and place them, skin side up, in baking dish. Bake fillets until just cooked through, 3-5 minutes.

To complete the dish, place vegetables in a bowl, top with fillet and drizzle with sauce.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Boyfriend more than rises to blog challenge

Chris and I have a pretty good thing going in the kitchen. I do the majority of the cooking, and he does the majority of the dishes. And while I’m the one who’s blogging, a good chunk of the photo credit goes to Chris, who takes it personally if I try to snap a quick pic or two before he can fire up his Canon 40D. I appreciate that he wants to sing — or shoot — for his supper.

The tables turned a few days ago. Chris wanted to know when he could have a guest spot on the blog, and I gave him a challenge—prepare something, and give me an original recipe (with measurements), and we’ll see what happens.

The following recipe is the end result of that challenge, and let me tell you, Chris makes a mean marinade. The tri tip had a great meaty, salty, smoky flavor to it, and I especially like how the Worcestershire and garlic round out the flavor of the beef. I definitely didn’t mind washing the dishes after dinner that night.

Chris’ Tri Tip
4 pounds tri tip roast
1 1/3 cup red wine
2/3 cup soy sauce
2/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Black pepper
6 cloves garlic cloves

Poke meat with a fork to allow marinade to get in.

Chop garlic, mix all ingredients and place with meat in Ziploc bags to allow better marination. Marinate 2-6 hours in refrigerator.

Remove meat from bag and place on grill on medium high heat. Sear each side for about 1 min to seal in juices. Then cook until meat measures 150 degrees or desired temperature with meat thermometer. Slice thin and serve.