Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Carve the turkey like a pro

After you've spent all day roasting the perfect turkey, the last thing you want to do is blow it by hacking the thing to bits.

At my house, this is a man's job. I'm too busy making gravy to deal with carving the turkey.

My sweetie is a smart man, so before he takes the knife to the bird, he always takes a quick refresher course (on the internet, of course). Apparently, there are lots of methods for carving a turkey, but he uses the one that Alton Brown demonstrates in this video. It works great, looks beautiful on the platter, and the meat stays nice and juicy. 

I highly recommend this videoit's simple and easy to follow. Happy eating!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Polenta is just fancy-talk for cheese grits

For most of my life, I've heard people talk about grits like they are some kind of enigmatic Southern phenomenon. As if only people who grew up thinking they were normal could possibly enjoy eating them. Not quite as bad as something like squirrel stew, but still one of those things that might elicit an "ewww" from a non-Southerner.

I'll grant you that plain grits don't look all that appetizing, and they don't have much flavor of their own.

But CHEESE GRITS, now that's another story. That's the way grits were intended to be eaten. In the past 10 years or so, I've seen them take on more and more personality, especially in restaurants. They might have a smoky, chipotle flavor, or they might go in a more savory, herby direction. I've had them with a cajun twist, with bits of spicy andouille sausage. The beauty of grits is that they really don't have a lot of their own personality, so you can be creative with the flavor profiles.

Also in the past 10 years or so, people have become well acquainted with polenta. Maybe you didn't know it, but polenta is basically coarse ground corn cooked with cheese, stock, and seasonings. Same for cheese grits!! Technically, the two dishes use a different form of ground corn, but the end results are pretty darn similar.

Shrimp and grits from SouthernLiving.com
All you non-Southerners can impress your friends with this next hot thing. They've seen polenta done to death. It's so 2010. But not cheese grits! In the South they're a tradition (therefore immune from becoming passe), and in other parts of the country (the world?!) they can be the renovated, elevated homey side dish that makes the meal.

There are so many ways to make cheese grits, I'm not even going to give you a recipe. I'd be cheating you. Instead check out some for yourself on Southern Living or Epicurious. They have literally hundreds of recipes to choose from. If you try nothing else, at least try shrimp and grits (these two sites have dozens of other recipes for shrimp and grits, if this one doesn't strike your fancy).

Baked or cooked on the stove-top, cheese grits make this Southern girl's day!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Please lower your parking space consumption

I was walking through a parking lot the other day, and I noticed a flyer on the windshield of a car. It caught my eye because it was orange. But then it occurred to me that none of the other cars had flyers, which made me curious. Curious enough to take a closer look.

As you can guess from reading it yourself, this particular vehicle was committing the rude act of hogging more than one parking space. In fact, I had been irritated by this very car when I was searching for a space. Maybe that's part of the reason that I loved the flyer. Mostly, though, I just liked the idea that the insensitive parker was being called out. 

I imagined this parking crusader, driving around with a pile of orange flyers, doling them out as needed, making the case for a more decent worldone in which people take an extra 30 seconds to reverse, straighten out, and occupy just ONE parking space. 

For the sole reason that it's the right thing to do. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

DE-licious and easy chickpeas

For most of my life, I've felt a little put off by chickpeas. I generally really like beans, but something about chickpeas made them unappealing. Maybe it was memories of seeing them floating in big vats at the salad bar. I don't know. Anyway, now that I'm all grown up, I've learned to challenge some of my irrational food prejudices. In the case of chickpeas, it's working out pretty well for me.

I came up with this dish when I needed something to take to a potluck, and everyone wanted the recipe. Then I made it for the family, and my sweetie loved it. I figured it's a keeper!

If you're not sure what to do with chickpeas (or if you're just looking for something different), give this recipe a try. It's got a lot going for it:
  • Tasty
  • Fast and easy preparation
  • Not too many ingredients (you might already have most of them in the kitchen)
  • Easy to change it up if you need to (I guess we call that "versatile")
  • Healthy! Plus, you get to count legumes as a protein AND a vegetable
  • Portable (because it can be served at room temperature)
  • Great as leftovers
Part of what makes the dish easy is that I use canned chickpeas, but they have to be really good quality. I buy organic with no salt added (a lot of sodium in the chickpeas will kill the healthiness factor). You can find them at Whole Foods. Take the time to pour them into a collander, rinse them VERY well, and let them drain while you get the other ingredients ready. You'll need two cans of chickpeas. (This should make 4-6 servings, depending on how big your servings are.)

Chop a couple of tablespoons (each) of flat-leaf parsley and cilantro. Peel and thinly slice two medium-sized shallots.

Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat. To the warmed oil, add a tablespoon of cumin seeds and stir them around for a minute or two. Then add the shallots and saute until they're lightly browned. If the shallots are cooking too quickly, turn down the heat; don't let them burn! Take them off the heat, sprinkle in a teaspoon of turmeric, and stir it all together. Now everything will be bright yellow!

Pour the rinsed and drained chickpeas into a medium-sized bowl. Pour the shallots over the chickpeas, and add the parsley, cilantro, and about 1/4 cup of shredded parmesan. Squeeze the juice from half of a lemon, and stir everything together.

Now taste it and adjust the seasoning. Keep in mind that the flavors will sort of meld as it sits. It might need a little more olive oil (if it's dry) or lemon juice (if it needs more acidity). Add salt to taste. You can serve them room temperature or warm (they microwave just fine!).

We've had this as a vegetarian entree (with rice and a green veggie or salad) and as a side dish. Promise you'll like it!