Friday, December 31, 2010

Auld Lang Syne

I was going to write a nice contemplative piece about the highs and lows of 2010 (there were several), the success and occasionally epic failures, the recipes that were requested after serving and the ones that just stunk up my kitchen.

And then I thought, "Nuts to that!" Instead, I'm going to play with my two sugar-high nephews before heading out to ring in the New Year with a glass of something that bubbles in downtown Pittsburgh. I hope each of you have a chance to celebrate in an equally fitting manner :)

Peace out, 2010!! (Don't let the door hit ya on the way out :) )

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Christmas: The Spiked Edition

Our absolutely fabulous friends and drinking buddies M&M gave Tony and I one of our best holiday presents to date: A homemade spike-your-own-cocoa kit, complete with chocolate and a variety of mixers.

Spiked cocoa is one of my absolute favorite holiday treats and honestly is one of the few things to get me through major winter storm season (aside from Dr. Who and Top Gear marathons on BBC America.)

The bloggers over at Serious Eats have come up with a variety of ways to help you make your hot chocolate a little more "festive." Personally, I like the idea of the Candied Orange recipe, but that's just me.

Check it out here and then experiment on your own. And share the recipes already - it's the season to be giving, afterall.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Much wintery love,
Adj @ Tattoos & Champagne

Monday, December 20, 2010

Shortest Blog Post Ever

I'm writing this in between pre-holiday trip errands, so rather than recap recent events, I'm just going to summary and provide recipe links where I can.

A quick visit from my younger sister prompted a breakfast run at Miss Shirley's Cafe here in Hampden. If you're a breakfast food purist, I'd suggest hitting up another establishment for your brunch. But, if you're a fan of delicious flavor - specifically in the chicken and waffles vein - then make a beeline for Miss Shirley's as soon as you have pants on.

Tony had the Benne Seed Chicken & Waffles (boneless fried chicken with honey mustard on white chedder & green onion waffles with jalapeno butter).
While I had the What Came First, The Chicken or the Egg? (which consists of a poached egg on a buttermilk buscuit with a pepper sausage and beef gravy).

Jo had eggs and hash browns. And the Savory Grits, which are made with applewood-smoked bacon and marscapone cheese. They'll put you in a food coma approximately 15minutes after ingesting.

This past weekend has been dedicated to one single-minded venture: baking. LOADS of baking. Mostly for parties but also for a few holiday gifts. Friday I managed to turn out several dozen of the Shortbread Bakery's Earl Grey Tea Chocolate Truffles. Note to would-be bakers: Do yourself a favor and invest in some non-latex gloves before rolling the truffles. You'll save a lot of time and water wasted washing your hands repeatedly.

Next, Alton Brown's Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. The key to this recipe is melting the butter before mixing in the sugar and using bread (instead of all-purose) flour. If you don't have a #20 ice cream scoop (I know I sure the hell don't) then simply use a 1/4 measuring cup instead.

Finally, to cap off the weekend, I turned to the good folks at Cooks Illustrated for a coconut-free, not too sweet Carrot Cake/Cupcake recipe. Unfortunately, you need a subscription to log into the site, but for $4 a month, the how-to videos alone are worth the expense.

Whew! Ok, I need to motor. I've got at least 13 hours of driving ahead of me and I need to make sure all my playlists are in order prior to my departure. I hope each of you have an AMAZING holiday and an equally kick-ass New Year!
Happy Eating!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Happiest Place on Earth (if you like kimchi)

It's no secret that I grew up munching on a variety of Asian dishes. (Still do, in fact.) However, it can be difficult to find a decent Asian foods store. I mean, come on now- any corner store can carry soy sauce and long grain rice. I'm looking for something more substantial. I want some Bao, damn it!

So you can imagine my near-giddy delight when my friends Margi and Jared offered to take me to the mecca of Asian grocery chains: H Mart.

It's a little slice of heaven.
(Or Nirvana.)

H Mart is only located in a few cities in the US, so I was ecstatic when I found out that there's one located just outside of the city. The only kicker is that because it's the only one in a 50-mile radius, the place is PACKED. And for good reason: H Mart has one of the most extensive produce sections I've ever come across. Exotic fruits and veggies for days, man! There was a kimchi counter and a woman making the stuff right there in the store. I hate kimchi (I think it tastes like feet), but couldn't help but be impressed by it all.

The store carries durian fruit. I almost bought it, but I really like not throwing up at the smell of my food.

Margi handling some extra-impressive zucchini.
At least I think that's what they are

We spent a good amount of time trolling around the aisles, looking at this and that when I came across a box of something I'd never seen before:

A bit weird, right? Turns out these tribble-looking beauties are a type of friut called rambutan. I have never encountered these before (I thought they might be lychee at first), but a woman behind us went all kinds of nostalgic at the sight of them and described how you pick, prepare, and eat them when you want a sweet snack. (Apparently, you cut off the spikey husk and eat the flesh inside.)

I picked up two to try later.

This photo makes my husband giggle every time.

Unfortunately, the rambutan got lost in the shuffle of holiday leftovers, and I wasn't able to get to them in time.

After I spent a good 10minutes making a selection from a wall of soy sauce options, my ride and I picked up some frozen odds and ends and then made it back to the city. I was in Hello Panda heaven the entire trip home.

And now, for your recipe.......

A while ago I decided to use up the last of some farmer's market apples with a recipe I had come across on the Darjeeling Dreams site: Skillet Apple Cake.

It's very easy to make, though I feel the cake part could be a little more moist. However, the dryness in my attempt may be due to the size of my skillet. I suspect the portions in the DD's recipe are intended for an 8-in skillet. Mine is 12in. Next time, I think I'll double the batter.
You can check out the recipe by checking out Darjeeling's site here.
Winter has officially come to Baltimore after sneaking in the back door, so this week it's all about warm foods, spiked cocoa, and stockinged feet. Possibly some crochet projects. In the meantime, I suggest you buckle down, catch up on past episodes of The Walking Dead if you've haven't yet, and then enjoy the musical stylings of Adele's latest single, Rolling in the Deep.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thanksgiving: The Revenge

Hey, peeps!

Sorry I suck at staying on top of these postings. (Looks like I've got something to add to my resolution '11 list already.) I promise I've been busy,trying to keep up with a year that is flying by at speeds that would rattle Einstein's grey matter.

Anywho - holiday recap! This year saw Tony and I spending yet another Thanksgiving in separate parts of the country (our families live far apart and work commitments usually restrict our travel time). So we decided to be proactive and host a pre-Thanksgiving for ourselves. Then my need to feed others kicked in and we started inviting people. Lots of people.

About a dozen confirmed invitations later and I found myself lugging home a 14lb turkey with numerous yet-to-be-prepared side dishes. After some unexpectedly intense debate about bird preparation (to brine or not to brine?), I decided to brine the damn thing and be done with it. The bird and brine solution went into a 35 gallon Rubbermaid (kept in the fridge, of course) and from roughly 9pm Saturday night until 4:30pm Sunday afternoon, I was cooking.

Tony - bless him - helped clean the house and made no fewer than 5 trips to the supermarket to pick up various ingredients during the day.

Thankfully, all went well, and everyone was eating by 4:30pm.

The spread.
Also, the striped rugby shirt I will no longer be wearing.
(Seriously, why didn't anyone tell me it looked so wide on me?!?)

The final menu looked something like this:

*Brined Roasted Turkey (using Alex Guarnaschelli's recipe, but Cooks Illustrated's cooking method)

*Carrots with Shallots, Sage & Thyme (Courtesy of Two Cooks, One Kitchen)

*Roasted Sweet Potatoes (using the par-boiling method recommended by Serious Eats)

*Shredded Brussel Sprouts with Gorgonzola, Shallots & Tomatoes (Courtesy of Mango & Tomato)

*The Famous/Infamous Wiley Corn Pudding

*Cranberry Sauce with Dried Cherries & Cloves (shout out to Matt from ex-boyfriend collection for the recipe)

*Stuffing (Stove Top. I was too tired to make it from scratch.)

*Mashed Potatoes & Gravy (Thank you, McCormick!)

*Trader Joe's brand Corn Bread (really, really freaking delicious)

*Italian Bread (via Pillsbury)

*Various pies for dessert

I also need to thank Emily for making a green bean casserole, Suzanne for making that butternut squash & goat cheese tart, and Patti for the sweet potato pie mash. Oh - and props to Paul and Brad for bringing booze. (Bless ya!)

Tony and I are ALMOST done with the leftovers, which have taken the form of a turkey noodle casserole, turkey & rice soup, and - coming for the Ravens v. Steelers game Sunday - Thanksgiving pizza.

And now, we wait for Christmas. Which I can easily countdown to with my handy-dandy, best big sis-to-lil-sis present ever: the pop up Advent calendar.

Each day I get a new ornament to hang on the tree.

Try not to be jealous. :)

I've got a trip to H-Mart (aka, Hanah Reum) (aka, the Asian food mega mart) to recap and possibily some housing news to share in the near future. But for now, enjoy some tunes by my buddy Gary's outstand band, The Outdoors.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Holidays!

I am WELL late with recipe recaps (including this past weekend's pre-Thanksgiving free for all), but rather than taking up your time, dear reader, I'd prefer to share some holiday well wishes instead.

So happy Thanksgiving - try not to OD on tryptophan!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

WWMD: What would Macguyver do? (aka: How to get by without a corckscrew)

If you tend to forget small items on trips or just prefer to avoid the extra-special patdown by TSA security hands, you might find the following article by especially useful. Each tip links to a video demonstrating the particular cork extraction technique.

(More recipes to come soon, just hang in there.)

5 Creative Ways to Open Wine Without a Corkscrew

Who needs a corkscrew? These resourceful folks give new meaning to "I need a glass of wine now."

Maryse Chevriere's picturetdm-35-icon.png

You wouldn't let a little thing like not having a corkscrew stop you from enjoying that bottle of wine you just bought, right? Seriously, if MacGyver can light a fuse without a match or build a bomb out of a fire extinguisher, there has to be some kind of creative alternative to the corkscrew.

As it turns out, we found five. Watch these videos to see what lengths people will go to to open a bottle wine in a pinch. If necessity isn't the mother of invention, the desire for a glass of wine certainly is.

With a shoe

This concept seems to be fairly widespread among the corkscrew-less wine drinking community. Looks like a few things are key here. One, you have to remove the foil from the top of the bottle first. Two, pick a shoe with a thick sole, and determine the best way to maintain a solid grip on the bottle and the shoe simoultaneously. Three, try and stop before the cork comes completely out so you don't spill any wine.

With a tree

This basically applies the same principles as the shoe methodology (so does the phone book technique for that matter). Hey, if you're out camping or at a picnic, this trick could come in very handy.

With a screw, screwdriver, and a hammer

You might call this the engineer's approach to opening a bottle of wine without a corkscrew. Fast, efficient, and no mess. You can find several videos of people attempting the feat with just a screw or screwdriver, but the real innovation here is using the back of the hammer.

With a pen and an apron

A lot of sources will recommend simply pushing the cork down into the bottle—either with your thumb, the end of a wooden spoon, or even a pen with a string attached. The technique works, but this method gets extra bonus points for coming up with a way to fish the cork out.

With a chef's knive

Proceed with caution when it comes to this last demo. A little dubious and definitely dangerous, it's the only one that actually breaks the bottle. Still, it gets the job done.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Funny Sports Headlines for the Nerd Set

Fun fact about me: I love rugby. AND I love books.

So, it tickles me to no end that there's a Holmes-ian villain causing waves in the international rugby circuit. Enjoy...

Moriarty cleared of cheating

15th November 2010 17:09

Paul Moriarty in Newcastle polo shirt

Cleared: Paul Moriarty

Newcastle coach Paul Moriarty has been cleared of cheating over an incident in which he appeared to have fabricated an injury to prop Tim Ryan.

In last month's match against Northampton, the Falcons withdrew Kieran Brookes after he took a blow to the ribs.

In a half-time interview, Moriarty seemed suggest this was a temporary replacement and that Brooks would return at some point in the second half after a rest to replace an injured player.

Ryan, who had missed training in the preceding week because of a back injury, was duly withdrawn six minutes into the second period to be replaced by Brookes.

RFU disciplinary officer Jeff Blackett said today: "An inference could be drawn from Moriarty's statement to the media that Newcastle had planned to give Brookes a break and then fabricate an injury to Ryan so that he could return to the game after a rest.

Were that to be the case it would have been cheating.

"However, I am satisfied that there was no intention to cheat.

"Ryan had been injured during the week and although passed fit to play it was clear at half-time that he would not last the rest of the match.

"There is no requirement in the regulations for a medical examination of a player removed for injury, so it is impossible to gainsay Newcastle's evidence that Ryan was injured.

"It is also clear that when Brookes was replaced he understood that he would not return - this is supported by the evidence that he was given a post-match recovery drink and did not warm up with other unused replacements.

"Newcastle only decided that he might have to go back on when it became apparent that Ryan was injured and could not continue."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Moment of Levity

This is pretty much sums up what I feel like when facing a empty dinner plate after a 12 hour day...

The End.

(Much thanks to the Oatmeal for the laughs!)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Our Quick Brush with Internet Fame: 2 Quick Uses for Leftover Kale

Check it out: Tony and yours truly were featured on the blog of our favorite e-retailer, ex-boyfriend collection. We sent in a photo from the Rally and they sent us some interview questions to answer.

We divulged details such as pop culture guilty pleasures and regrettable fashion decisions. If you'd like to read the whole thing or just check out the site, you can read the interview here.

This weekend has otherwise been fairly low key. Tony and I took a day trip to Annapolis to check out the city. (It's very lovely. Kind of like Charleston.) We also navigated some of the more abandoned parts of Baltimore in an effort to avoid traffic exiting Sunday's Raven's game .
It was an experience, to say the least. I'm not sure where Baltimore stumbled, but it's having a hell of a time getting back on its feet. It says something when the blighted areas are being reclaimed by nature.

After returning home, we decided to toast our luck and good fortune with a nice wine and some blackberry pie from Dangerously Delicious.

The rest of the week was a series of attempts to make use of some leftover kale Tony had prepared. Not a man known for his portion control, my husband made a LOT of sauteed kale. And then left it up to me to prepare the rest.

Turns out it's not too tricky to come up with some recipes that can handle the slightly bitter crisp of a kale leaf. First off: Poor Gal's Stir Fry.

Quickly followed by Kale and Mushroom Sausage Pizza with Swiss
See? Easy-peezy. The recipes below are pretty generic (I'm not the best at measuring when I'm cooking off-the-cuff), so feel free to personalize and adjust as you see fit!

This weekend, I get to indulge my inner nerd at a live taping of RadioLab in DC. I'm going to know all about symmetry by the end of the night. Woo hoo!

Poor Gal's Stir Fry

2 tbsp grated ginger
2 -3 garlic cloves, minced
2 - 3 cups sugar snap peas or snow peas
1 1/2 cups cooked kale, chopped
1/2 lb lean ground beef or 1 box firm tofu
2 1/2 tsp canola oil
1 tsp sriracha sauce (more to taste)
1 tbsp black bean paste

1. Place a wok or large pan over high heat. After pan has heated, brown the meat or tofu (add a few tsp of canola oil to the pan if using tofu), adding the sriracha sauce when the meat is done cooking. Remove the meat and wipe out the pan/wok with a paper towel.

2. Add the canola oil to the pan. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the garlic and ginger and saute for about 20 - 30 seconds, making sure not to burn either ingredient. Add the veggies and continue to saute over high heat for 3 - 5 minutes, until the snap/snow peas are sauteed (remember: crisp, not soggy.) Mix in the black bean paste. Add extra sriracha sauce if you're a fan of heat.

3. Add in the cooked meat/tofu and mix until the whole meal is heated through. Remove from heat. Serve over rice.

Kale and Mushroom Sausage Pizza with Swiss

1 pizza crust(pre-made brand of your choosing)
1 cup cooked kale, chopped
EITHER: 2 links mushroom sausage, thinly sliced (I used Aidells)
1/2 cup chopped baby bellas and 2 links andouille/mild sausage, thinly sliced
1/2 cup swiss cheese, grated
olive oil to brush
red pepper flakes

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. Brush the pizza shell with olive oil. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Evenly spread the toppings, putting down the kale first, followed by the sausage, then the cheese. Dust with a pinch of red pepper flakes (more to taste).

3. Lower the oven temp to 425 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, feel free to use it. Otherwise, place the pizza on the lower rack and cook for 7 - 10 minutes. Let the pie cool before devouring it.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Signage: Poster Favs from the Rally to Restore Sanity

This past weekend Tony and I (and my sisters and brother-in-law) braved the traffic, the crowds, and the Red Line to take part in the Rally for Sanity on the national Mall. It was pretty epic: epically crowded, epically entertaining, and epically inspiring. There's not much to tell that hasn't been covered by most major media outlets, so instead I'm just posting a few of my favorite shots from the day.

p.s. Favorite overheard quote: "You've got something you want to say to me?? Well, why don't we discuss it over a cup of coffee!!!"

Happy ralliers in our ex-boyfriend finest.

The view of the crowds from 7th and G Streets.

The first of many signs. And more crowds, of course.

A shout-out to one of my favorite Far Side bits.

The wisdom of Yoda.

I did, too!

I was actually trying to get a photo of Jamie and Adam from Mythbusters, but the sign is good, too.

Way to represent, New Zealand!

So the whole thing actually reads: "I found Jesus. (He was hiding from your AK 47s.)" Way to
time a photo, guy in sunglasses.

I'm not sure who this guy was, but he and 3 others were dressed up like aliens seeking equal rights.

"Scary" baby.

Best sign at the event.