Thursday, September 17, 2009

Damn Zingerman's

In my attempt to go more local, eat fresher, more flavorful foods, I'm trying to steer away from lots of processed, pre-jarred foods.  Making my own tomato sauce for pasta was a good start but geeze this asian cooking without help is tricky?!  I'm desperately trying to develop good tasting, low-sodium, low-sugar asian foods that still taste like something but let me tell you, full sodium soy sauce is fantastic.  So today, I'm sorry to disappoint you.  This isn't the blog with the recipe for curry sauce from scratch that doesn't leave your charming apartment wreaking of curry for days.  And it isn't the fool proof rolling method for those spring rolls attempted a few weeks ago. Nope, this is a full confession that Zingerman's has tempted me and I succumbed to temptation. And, truth be told, will probably do it again.

I experienced my first round of the Zingerman's extravaganza back in February.  And yes, it was an extravaganza.  Deli, bakery, food shop, coffee shop and restaurant: just 5 of the 15 establishments that make up the Zingerman's dynasty.  These folks have a lovely story, starting out as a simple mom-and-pop deli and evolving over the past 25 years into this. Makes me proud to be a foodie in the Midwest.  I loaded up on french grey sea salt, cheddar/jalapeno bread, goat cheese that I haven't seen since the Loire Valley, salumi that rivals the gents at Pike's Place, and one damn jar of Thai Green Curry Paste.

So.  This little jar has been sitting in my cabinet taunting me again and again to expand my Thai cuisine repertoire beyond Pad Thai (see pathetically easy but delicious version to your left), which only recently I've begun making without A Taste of Thai's help.  Big steps my friends, big steps.

Coconut milk has been a staple in the cabinet but for some reason, the meal just wasn't coming together in my mind...until last Saturday. Adventuring at the Green Acres stand has been a staple of my Saturday morning routine.  I've found purple carrots to make Vietnamese steak salad...(shredded purple carrots in the top corner)
Three different varieties of kale (Russian, dinosaur, and purple) that have kept me entertained... and then!!!  The very inspiration to pull out that little jar and cheat while cooking.  Thai eggplant:

so the jar says: saute 1 T oil and 1/2 the jar for 2 minutes.  Then saute 3/4 a pound of meat (steak, seafood, chicken--let's be honest, you know it's a Thai dish when you have a choice of these three meats?!) for about 10 minutes, or until tender.  Then add 1 cup of coconut milk, but I also threw in some sauteed red peppers and thai eggplant and a handful of chopped basil leaves.
I realize that this is somewhat cheating when it comes to cooking; yes, I probably should have made my own curry paste.  But once again I submit to my Swedish heritage and admit that I was coded genetically to make meatballs and gravy, not coriander and basil based sauces.  So, this weekend, when the extravaganza at Zingerman's goes for round two, I will buy another of these lovely little jars.  And to all of my dear friends that live far away and just around the corner-- I'll buy you one too.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Whole Foods cookery (ie. homemade Cliff bars)

We all know that John Mackey has done some pretty ridiculous things as of late but when the man emails you personally and says, "Joanna dear, rather than spend 18 dollars on 1-6 pack of granola bars why don't you make these delightful 'cookies' that have even better ingredients and less preservatives,"what's a girl to think?!  Ok, maybe he didn't email me himself but I have become a big fan of Whole Foods spamming me, mid-day with delicious homemade snack ideas.  Bet you didn't know THAT was for sale at Whole Foods. 

Cinnamon-Walnut Oatmeal Cookies

In a food processor chop well:
1c pitted prunes
1c walnuts
1/2 c dark brown sugar

Whisk in a separate bowl:
1 egg
1 t vanilla
1/8 t baking soda
1/4 c unsweetened applesauce (I always buy individual serving containers and just use half, the other half is a nice, mid way recipe snack)
1/4c canola oil

Blend your prune-walnut and wet mixtures together
1 c old fashioned-rolled oats
3/4 c whole wheat flour
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt

Form into 2 inch diameter balls and place on slightly greased cookie sheet.  Moisten your fingers and press the cookies down a bit to form 1/2 inch disks.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

found here originally...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Roasting Tomatoes

I don't think anything has looked so nice on my ancient, apartment rental stove in the early evening light.

Especially post 5 mile run (which these bad boys roast for about 45 minutes) perfect time to squeeze in a run, throw this together and treat yourself for running so hard.  Ohhhhhh yeah.....

to be quite honest, I had never even heard of jumping tomatoes... anyone?  but while roasting their skins didn't break, creating a lovely burst of warm, earthy tomato.

Feeling gingerasian

Have you ever noticed that when you revisit a flavor in different forms over the years, you develop a lovely set of memories surrounding that flavor? Perhaps it is only the silly foodie in me but ginger correlates to some fantastic ones for me... Glazed salmon in the wilderness of Alaska fresh caught that day (and yes, the glaze is very portable, but don't spill it and attract bears); dried ginger chews that taunt you in the Trader Joe's checkout aisle remind me of my Japanese-food-loving bro-in-law; and now my friends, a new one... Tamarind-Glaze Turkey Burgers and the fabulous meal that accompanied them.

CrystalMeth had a mountain of japanese eggplant from her latest delivery and the burgers to tackle. I was assigned the challenge of finding ginger liqueur (only 1 bottle left at Sam's on North Ave) and apps for the evening. Feeling adventurous and realizing I hadn't gone uber-ethnic in a while, I decided to try for handmade Vietnamese Spring Rolls. Hey, if my sister lived in Japan and can make sushi with the best of them, I foolishly assumed that I had spent enough time in Little Vietnam up on Argyle to make it up as I went along. WRONG Joanna. Dead wrong. I now have a new deep, deep respect for the standards of perfection that those folks have, and that are clearly not in my Scandinavian genetics. See my feeble attempts below. Seriously how do they get them to look so perfect?!

Nuoc cham and peanut sauce for dipping were fantastic, easy and delightful. There was no playing around with these recipes. I took 'em straight from here. I filled mine with a bottom layer of red lettuce, bean sprouts, shredded carrots (didn't do the sugar bits), cooked bean thread noodles, julienned cucumber, with lots of mint and cilantro. They're such a biting fresh snack and the only disappointment is, they don't keep very well next day.
Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Vietnamese Spring Rolls
Eggplant Chips
Tamarind-Glazed Turkey Burgers
Ginger martinis
Lemon Ginger Sorbet with Gingersnap cookies

Tamarind-Glazed Turkey Burgers
Glaze: Whisk together
1 T fresh peeled ginger
2 T red chili paste
½ c tamarind paste
½ c honey
2 T water
2T fresh lime juice

Burgers: blend together with your hands and form into 8- ½ lbs burgers
2 T fresh minced, peeled ginger (or more if you’re as obsessed as I am)
2 t salt
1 red jalapeno chile with seeds, minced
1 t pepper
1 c chopped green onions
2 ½ lbs ground natural turkey
2 t red chili paste

8 4-in diameter rolls
8 large thinly sliced red onions
8 bib lettuce leaves