In the summertime, I’m usually all about the simple food. The amazing fruits and vegetables practically prepare themselves for dinner, and a typical weeknight menu will look something like this: BLT, Caprese Salad, Sauteed zucchini on toast, pasta with tomatoes and olive oil, and another BLT (I really like BLT’s). But sometimes the occasion calls for a little more sophistication. Something that’s a little more exotic, that requires some more thought, some more layers of flavor. But at the same time, you don’t want to lose the wonderful casualness of summer dining — the feeling that every meal should be eaten outdoors and barefoot. When I saw this recipe in last month’s food and wine, I knew I had found my summer dinner party dish. The prep is incredibly simple – no marinating required, no fancy cooking. And the flavors are fantastic — complex, bright, nutty, and utterly satisfying. The shrimp are intensely flavorful from the miso marinade, while still tasting of shrimp, the scallions add a savory hit, and the slaw has wonderful crunch — even the water chestnuts add a nutty flavor that I never realized water chestnuts possess. And despite all these layers of flavor and texture, this is still, at its heart, a sandwich, perfect for eating barefoot in the back yard. [...]
I have a little bit of a cookbook problem. You see, when we moved to our current home, we dedicated a reasonable sized bookcase to the cookbooks. It had four shelves, was about two and a half feet wide, and seemed perfectly fine. Until I started putting my cookbooks on it. There was a little overflow, a few cookbooks I put on another shelf, some books that I recategorized as “travel books.” But the problem only got worse. It’s not that I buy a ton of cookbooks — I mean, I do buy a few, sometimes to cook with, sometimes as a souvenir when I’m traveling, sometimes because I really can’t resist a used book sale. But I also receive cookbooks as gifts. And cookbooks have a way of finding their way into my house in other ways too. As a result, I have several cookbooks that are more for recreational reading than actual cooking, per se, and several more that never really see the light of day (but do look so ornamental on that bookcase. And the surrounding bookcases as well.) The point is, I have a lot of cookbooks, and while I don’t mind this, my husband seems to think my collection is a bit … excessive. So you know a new cookbook is good when he comes up to me and says “You know, that cookbook really fills a niche that I think was missing from your cookbook collection.” This cookbook isn’t only endorsed by me, it’s endorsed by him, and that is a rare thing indeed, when it comes to cookbooks. The cookbook in question is, of course, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook by Jaden Hair. People who are up on the food blogging community will recognize Jaden from her popular blog, Steamy Kitchen, and if you’ve met her in person or seen her on TV, you know that she has a lot of personal charisma and energy (Full disclosure — I met Jaden at the 2009 Blogher Food Conference, and I received a complimentary copy of the book through the conference after party), but even if you’ve never heard of Jaden Hair, this is a book you’ll want in your kitchen. [...]
It has been hot as blazes in Los Angeles, and the thing about Los Angeles is it does hot extremely well. 3 digit temperatures, brush fires — a heat wave turns the City of Angels from a reasonably convincing rendition of paradise (OK, in some places) to a reasonably convincing rendition of hell.
So I think it’s time for another piece in the travel series, because when L.A. gets like this, I would certainly love to be anywhere but here. And I find myself (as I often do) dreaming of sea breezes and warm water and golden sand — in short — Hawaii. [...]
I think I may have mentioned this before, but my weeknights are awfully busy, what with getting home late, getting dinner on the table, spending some quality tickle time with my daughter and getting her to bed at a reasonable hour. To make life easier, I plan and shop for the week’s meals each Saturday. I sit down with my multiple cookbooks (for inspiration!), a blank piece of paper, and try to envision what my week will look like. I always factor in one or two nights of incredibly quick meals in case I have to work late, and I try to use up the more perishable meat or produce early in the week. Despite having an army of cookbooks and magazines and blogs at my disposal, I often find myself returning to the same old standbys – stir fries, soups, salads, made with chicken or beef or vegetarian. It’s hard to think outside the box when it comes to weeknight dinners – I want reliable. I want easy. And so I get into a rut. [...]
If your market is anything like mine, you may have noticed (from the displays of Guiness, Cabbage, and “Kiss me I’m Irish” aprons) that Tuesday is the feast of the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick, or as many call it in the U.S., St. Paddy’s Day (quick aside from my dad’s arsenal of bad jokes: What’s Irish and stays out all night? Paddy O’Furniture. HA!). My husband and I both count some Irish heritage in our generally Western European mutt backgrounds, but neither of our families are of the “Boo Ya! We’re Irish!” varieties, despite the fact that both of us have Irish names. And yet we celebrate St. Patrick’s day, without fail, and now you can too. The obvious menu is the one the market sells — Corned Beef, Cabbage, maybe some mashed potatoes. But much as I love corned beef, and I have definite opinions on how to prepare it (crock pot with a bottle of beer, on low for 8-10 hours), and serve it (with Colcannon and hot English mustard), and what to drink with it (I say dark ale, the husband is a Guiness devotee), but I thought I’d present you with something a little different, in case you don’t like corned beef, or don’t eat red meat, or it’s 6 pm on March 17 and you haven’t started cooking, or you’ve already seen sixteen trillion recipes for corned beef all over the blogosphere). And the one that caught my eye (natch) was Dublin Lawyer. It really couldn’t be simpler — it has four ingredients and takes about 10 minutes to make and yields an elegant dish with a lovely presentation. In other words, I would eat before you hit the bars for the traditional green beer. Full Post [...]