Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Our Low-Key New Year's Eve

I am not a NYE fan.  I was somewhere in my 20's when I realized this. For some reason, New Year's Eve has always made me think of all the people I knew who are no longer here. So, that's one reason.  Then, at some NYE "celebration" on the rooftop at the Vendue Inn in Charleston, I realized that the only celebration was the bar owner's bank deposit he'd be making the next day while I was here in this crowded ass bar full of drunks clamoring for their free glass of champagne.  As I raised mine to my lips, I instantly exclaimed something like "what a ripoff!" as I realized that I hadn't been given a glass of champagne, but rather a glass of Asti Spumante.  Obviously, I wasn't expecting a glass of Dom, but at least a cheap champagne. Asti is rank.  Asti doesn't belong on this planet.  Asti must die.  Free glass of this crap? Happy Freakin' New Year.

Then, of course there are the drunks to contend with.  Not only do you have to deal with them in person, but then wonder if one of them will take you out on the way home.  Plus, who wants to roll the dice on a random license stop or some cop blue lighting you on a missing tail light? All of these examples illustrate why I really don't care for New Year's Eve.

Instead, we prefer to cook good food, drink wine and blow shit up in the street (fireworks, friends.)  We are fortunate enough to live about 1/4 mile from a 365 day/year fireworks store. So, we hit Jim Casey's and stock up on as much fire power as we can afford (justify.) My child talked me into 3' long sparklers.  Sparklers? I like stuff that shoots up in the air and blossoms.  But I said ok, then much to my chagrin looked at the receipt in the car to realize the kid had talked me into $7 sparklers.  Oyyy.

So, on to the food.  We did a simple yet delicious dinner this year.  I have fallen in love with Paul Prudhomme's "salmon seasoning."  It's just so good and it makes the salmon quick and easy to cook and packs on the flavor.  So, I drizzled our salmon fillets with butter then sprinkled very liberally with the seasoning.  You merely bake them at 450 for 6 minutes.  To this I added steamed broccoli and a simple parmesan risotto, but I jazzed it up by sauteing my onion with truffle oil. 

Seasoned and ready for the oven

Baked salmon, truffled parmesan risotto & steamed broccoli
So, we've promised the little one that she can stay up until midnight and see the ball drop...she's 8 after all.  We'll meet our neighbor out in the street in a little while to blow some stuff up and sip our wine. Happy New Year to you all.  I am not a resolution person but if you are, just resolve to cook your own food and eat well!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hail Caesar!

I'd love to tell you guys that I'm some culinary genius; a mad scientist who dreams up new and exciting concoctions in my science lab kitchen. But the truth is simply this:  I like to cook and  I like to eat.  That's pretty much the long and the short of it.  I don't create recipes with any regularity.  I've created my fair share, I suppose, but unlike some of the big dogs in the cooking blogosphere, I am no future cookbook author. I just like to cook and care for my family and friends via food.  So, when I find someone else's recipe that I like, I am perfectly fine and comfortable giving credit where credit is due. I won't try to pretend it's mine.  My ego isn't that large.  But what I will do is share it.  A good recipe deserves to be shared, passed on and written down for those who come behind us.  

One thing I love is a good Caesar salad.  I like the "classic" style with the creamy, garlicky dressing with fresh Parmesan. The problem is that it's really hard to find a truly good Caesar salad anymore.  Restaurants buy the dressing; I don't care what they might try to tell you.  I can tell when I taste it.  It tastes just like the dressing from the last restaurant I visited.  And cross your fingers that you don't get some heavy handed salad guy in the kitchen who sends you a bowl of lettuce taking a swim in that bottled dressing. But, alas, I am ranting...

I have discovered THE PERFECT Caesar dressing via my super fave website, All Recipes. A brilliant lady named Karen came up with this recipe and frankly, I'd like to meet her. I made a batch of this last week and have already made a second.  At one point, my husband and I were just eating it out of the bowl.  Yes, it's that good.   The only thing I did differently was the anchovies.  I didn't have any so I used about 4 tsp of anchovy paste.  And, believe it, the anchovy is vital.  Even if you aren't an anchovy eater (I'm not) it adds a depth of flavor that can't be duplicated.  You know, it's that ingredient that you just can't put your finger on but you'd know if it wasn't there. 

So, cheers to Karen, wherever you are.  You are my mad scientist hero!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Yet another good salmon

Around here, we eat salmon as often as possible.  We eat it for the obvious's good for us, it's versatile, it's tasty.  However, I think the main reason I continue to cook it often and try new recipes is that my 8 year old loves salmon.  I mean, she really loves it. Glazed with honey & vermouth, smoked on the grill, broiled with Dijon and bread crumb topping, any way you can come up with.  I found a recipe on Pinterest months ago for a teriyaki salmon with sriracha cream.  The photo is just beautiful and I have been going back and stalking my own Pinterest board to see the picture. My hold up in making it was that I didn't have any sriracha and when cruising through the grocery store, the thought of sriracha just never popped into my head.

Well, recently, I paid a little visit to one of my favorite places, the Chef'Store.  As I wandered slowly through the aisles, I spotted the sriracha.  Ah hah!  I snatched up a bottle and headed straight for the checkout.  I knew what we were having for dinner that night.  I got home, pulled up Pinterest and got started.  I made the teriyaki sauce from scratch, as outlined in the recipe, but I think you could easily get away with using prepared teriyaki, so don't let that deter you.  It was all very easy to prepare and the result was dynamite. I really love this girl's site too. It's called Damn Delicious and she's got tons of awesome recipes posted there.

Results for the Akre house?  Thumbs up from the little one and an exchange of cool guy nods between me and the hubster.

I think this looks just beautiful!

 One thing I'll say is that this makes way more sriracha cream than 3 people will eat at one sitting.  Probably more than even 6 people would use.  So, whatever could I do? 
Sriracha cream sauce ingredients
 I came up with an EXCELLENT use for the leftover sauce, if I do yell so myself in my shouty capitals. I fried up some green tomatoes and drizzled with the sauce.  You may have felt the Earth move a little that day.  Or, perhaps you heard the loud Hosanna! as I bit into that first one.  Crispy, tart, almost holy fried green tomatoes with an obligatory sprinkling of salt and that spicy sriracha deliciousness mixed all up in 'dere. 

I want another plate of these right now!
As I contemplated the success of this pairing, I began to imagine how else I could use up this divine leftover sauce. Some of my ideas were as a dip for boiled shrimp, mixed with cabbage for a spicy slaw on a fish or shrimp taco or even to shake up a chicken and waffle dealio.  So, don't worry about the amount of sauce this makes.  You'll find all kinds of great uses for it.  I'd love to hear about them.


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