12.31.2009

Resolution: Resolved!

This may be the first year I have ever kept a New Year's resolution. Although, since I rarely even make one, I can't say that there has been much competition. Regardless of years past, I'm really glad I kept this one. I had resolved to work on this blog more: at least one post per calendar week. While I was hoping to get a few more in, I'm still rather satisfied with 59 posts. There have been weeks where I easily threw up two posts without even flinching. And there have been weeks where even doing one post felt like a chore. But I'm okay with that. This year saw a fair amount of change at 6CD. Between moving and adjusting to a new kitchen, a lengthy jury duty stay, the loss of my grandparents, and helping to start and run a DIY dining space, I am definitely in a different space than I was this time last year. But I am ready for more and eager to see what 2010 will provide!

I'd also like to take this space to briefly thank the people who voted for me for a Homie Cooking Award (sponsored by The Kitchn)! I'd tell you all to go and vote for me, but even I realized this too late. The first round of voting is in and I didn't make the final cut, but it was just really nice to see that people (even though they were only two people) gave me a vote. So thanks again! It means a TON to know I'm not just talking to myself out here. Trust me.

Anyway, I'm just relaxing here; prepping some food for a potluck New Years party this evening. (I'm making a Kale and Gorgonzola Gratin with a Panko crust.) So, as I sign off for the last time this year, I wish you all a happy and healthy New Year! Happy New Year, everyone!

kale and gorgonzola gratin
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12.26.2009

Truffles '09

truffles 09


This years truffles are finally completed. I make them every year as gifts for the people I work with. While they are easy to make, they do take some time. In addition to that, rolling a few dozen lumps of ganache into spheres with my "hot hands" guarantees some chocolatey mess as well. But that's just me. Anyway, here are this years flavors:


Smoked Fleur de Sel
Sesame Seed
Hazelnut Rosemary
Cocoa and Cayenne
Pistachio Fennel


As much fun as they are to make, I still prefer making them only once a year. It just makes things more special. so, how about you? Any special holiday gifts being made in your kitchen this year? I want to hear about 'em!
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12.19.2009

Snow Day!

green bean soup

So far we have somewhere between 4 and 8 inches of snow here in Baltimore, depending on where you measure. But I'm all for snow. The city looks so much better and peaceful under a thick coat of the fluffy stuff. And when things get nice and quiet (Baltimore pretty much shuts down in the snow), there is not a whole lot to do except make some food. So I decided to make a simple soup featuring some green beans that were sort of on their last legs. This is actually a pretty quick soup to make, depending on whether or not you have some vegetable stock on hand (like i had).



2 quarts homemade vegetable stock
1 lbs green beans, chopped
2 tbsp butter
2/3 cup cream
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dried herbs de provence
salt and white pepper to taste


In a large pot, heat vegetable stock to a slow simmer. In a large skillet, heat butter and gently saute the green beans with the lemon juice and herbs de provence. When just tender, remove the beans from the heat. Place green beans in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the mixture to the stock, along with the cream, and stir to combine. Season with salt and white pepper to taste. When done, get outside and shovel!
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12.12.2009

Horseradish Aioli

horseradish aioli 2

Aioli is not quite the same as mayonnaise, but still very similar. It is also one of those things that people would usually shy away from making at home. Making it is dead easy and will make your forearms look just like Popeye. Here, we've added horseradish instead of the traditional garlic. The amount of searing heat in horseradish can differ from one horseradish root to another, so add as much as you can stand!



1 cup neutral oil
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp mustard
4 tbsp lemon juice or white wine vinegar
as much finely grated horseradish as desired
salt and pepper



Grate as much horseradish as desired and combine with 1/2 the lemon juice. In a large bowl, mix egg yolks, 1/4 the lemon juice, mustard, and a little salt. Whisk thoroughly to combine. From a squeeze bottle, gently pour in a drop or two of the neutral oil. Whisk this into the yolk mixture, only adding a few more drops when the oil has been fully incorporated (and NOT before!). After 1/3 of the neutral oil has been incorporated, you can add a little more oil at a time, but never stop whisking. When the neutral oil is all incorporated, add the remaining lemon juice and the horseradish. Whisk well to combine, and start the process again with the olive oil. Taste for salt, pepper, and horseradish and adjust properly.

Letting the aioli sit covered and overnight in the fridge will intensify the horseradish flavor a little bit. Consider making this the day before you need it to allow time to either add more horseradish, or another egg yolk and some oil to tame the heat if it is too powerful.

horseradish aioli
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12.05.2009

Smoked Cocoa Nib Ice Cream

One of the benefits of working in a woodshop is having unbridled access to hardwood sawdust. And if you read the last two words of that sentence and instantly knew where I was going with this: give your self a firm pat on the back. That's right: smoking. Hardwood sawdust is ideal for smoking as it requires no pre-soaking. Check out Alton Brown's do-it-yourself smoker for more info.

This is just a quick smoke. One change of sawdust should do it. But, I guess you could cheat and just use liquid smoke if the weather isn't cooperating (say maybe some sort of wintry mix, perhaps?).


2 cups crème anglaise
1/2 cup cocoa nibs
2 tbsp bourbon


Set up you smoker with hardwood sawdust (maple in my case). Smoke the cocoa nibs in a cheesecloth pouch for one change of sawdust. This should take about an hour or so. Mix with crème anglaise and bourbon and place in the freezer. Stir every one in a while and refreeze until desired consistency is reached.
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11.27.2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I realize that Thanksgiving is probably a foodie's dream come true and that maybe a special Thanksgiving recipe might have been expected. Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but while I am usually the one in the kitchen I always find myself sitting to eat at the table as well. Even though I was able to find a little time to help cook the big dinner (gravy, mashed potatoes, and a side dish of kale), I am still so full of turkey and stuffing to even think about cooking.

So, hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! There will be a recipe next week if I can command enough energy to stand up!
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11.21.2009

Turkey Stock

Part of what makes a great Thanksgiving day turkey is the gravy. And it doesn't take a lot of time or ingredients as long as you are willing to do a little prep work. I'm talking about turkey stock. Everyone makes vegetable, chicken, and beef stock, but we only usually make turkey stock once a year: with the left over bones from Thanksgiving dinner. I'm here to tell you that you should also be making a small batch of turkey stock before the meal. And it will only take you one hour. That's all. No endless hours of simmering. Barely any chopping. Just one hour. Here's how:


2 lbs turkey necks
1 lbs turkey bones (can be leftovers)
2 carrots, peeled
2 ribs of celery, rinsed
1 small onion
3 sprigs of thyme
3 tbsp olive oil


Preheat oven to 400F. In a large oven proof saucepan, combine 2 tbsp olive oil with turkey necks and bones. Roast for 30 minutes. While you are roasting, bring a 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Also, break the carrots and celery in half with your hands and cut the onion into quarters. When the roasting is done, remove from the oven and place on a medium flame on the stove. Add the remaining olive oil and the vegetables and stir until they begin to brown (about three minutes). Add the thyme. Ladle the boiling water over the turkey until you have enough liquid to cover. Raise the heat to maintain a strong simmer. Simmer for 25 minutes. Kill the heat, cover and let the stock cool down to room temperature before straining.
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11.14.2009

Herring with Prosciutto, Grapefruit, and Sweet Potato Mash

herring with grapefruit, prosciutto, and sweet potato mash


Right into it:


1 large white sweet potato
2 slices prosciutto, chopped
1 package lightly smoked herring
5 sections of grapefruit
1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste


Bring a pot of water (and a pinch of salt) to a boil. Peel and cut up the sweet potato and add to the boiling water. Cook until tender and pass through a potato ricer. Stir in heavy cream and melted butter until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Dress with prosciutto, grapefruit sections and herring. Serves four.
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11.07.2009

Golden Beet Pappardelle with Brown Butter, Sage, and Liver

golden beet pasta with brown butter, sage, and liver

I've had the flu all this week and the last thing on my mind has been cooking. Aside from sleeping, I haven't really done much else, let alone eat. Every time I would work up enough energy to get something to eat, nothing would appeal to me. Last night I was feeling good enough to go out and grab some food with a friend. I had two mini corn muffins and a few spoonfuls of avocado for dinner, by far my biggest meal of the day.

But I am feeling even better today and I can tell that things are looking up: my appetite has returned. My stomach has been rumbling all afternoon, anxiously waiting to be put back into service. Who am I to say no? Time to cook.

The golden beets are here mostly for their beautiful color as opposed to their flavor, but one could always add some more if desired. And omitting the livers shouldn't ruffle any feathers either.

2 golden beets, grated
1 chicken liver, finely chopped
3 tbsp unsalted butter
fresh sage, chopped
pappardelle noodles
salt and pepper to taste


In a large saucepan, heat 1 tbsp butter and gently cook the grated beet. Just before the beets start to take on any color, add 2 qts. of water and bring to a boil. Season with a little salt. In another pan, heat remaining butter. Just before the butter begins to turn brown, add chopped liver and sage. Cook until just done and remove from heat. Add the pappardelle to boiling water and cook until just done. Remove the cooked noodles from the water and add to the butter/sage/liver mixture. Heat through, tossing constantly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
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10.31.2009

Caramelly Fail.

pumpkin caramel failure 1

pumpkin caramel failure 2


Normally, I don't bother too much with looking up recipes unless either baking or confectionery is involved. Well, this time I should have done a bit more research. In trying to making some special Halloween treats, I really botched it up. The above was supposed to end up as curried pumpkin caramels all nicely tied up in little wax paper wrappers for a Halloween party. I should have added the pumpkin much later so that it didn't start to burn before reaching the required firm-ball stage (around 248F). Sorry, everyone: looks like there will be yet another bag of chips tonight.

However, I do take a lot of pride in knowing that I don't have too many of these kinds of failures. It is not too often that I find myself ruining food very far beyond being remotely salvageable. I guess I can be happy with that. Plus, the cider is looking really good and will probably be bottled next week.

But you've got to laugh a little when these things happen (until you realize how much "fun" you'll be having cleaning up burnt sugar). So, do you have any "culinary failures" you'd like to share?
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10.22.2009

Red Kuri Squash with Cocoa Nibs, Cayenne, and Scotch

red kuri squash


Somewhere between sweet and savory is where you will find this little idea of a dish. It's a place that I like to frequent as I don't really like sweets all that much. I usually try to sneak something a little savory into my desserts. Not to say that this is necessarily a dessert. One could easily put this at the beginning or ending of a fancy dinner depending on their tastes. That and the addition of either a bit more salt or sugar. I can see it at either, but I still think I would make it as a dessert, even without the sugar.

Red Kuri squash is a great little squash that is worth seeking out. It looks like a small, slightly oblong pumpkin that is wearing a little party hat. It's flesh can be orange or even slightly green or yellow. Mine just happened to be orange to match the leaves outside of my window. Perfect.


1 Red Kuri Squash
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp Scotch
1 tbsp cocoa nibs
1 tsp cayenne pepper
salt or sugar to taste
1 oz. Roquefort (optional but recommended)


Preheat oven to 350F. Cut squash into small squares or rectangles. Heat butter in a pan over medium heat. Gently brown squash until nice and golden. Move squash to oven on a half sheet pan. Reserve the butter. **CAUTION! This next move can be dangerous, so pay attention: Move the pan of butter far away from the stove and let it cool down. Add the Scotch and go back to the stove. Gently tilt the pan over the flame to ignite the Scotch. You will probably have a huge flame that will scare the bejesus out of you and might even set off your fire alarm (sorry, neighbors). The flame will die down within seconds. Be very careful, consider having your fire extinguisher near by if you have never done this before. Try this at your own risk.**

Bake the squash in the oven until fully cooked. Remove and plate the squash with the Scotch/butter sauce, some cocoa nibs, cayenne pepper, and a little Roquefort cheese.
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10.17.2009

Faux-lenta

faux-lenta


I love polenta. It makes a great side dish to any number of vegetables, meats, and even the humble poached egg. And as much as I love polenta, I'm not so crazy about having so much corn (and the sugars that are hidden inside) in my diet. So I started thinking about a substitute that would still have great flavor and that wouldn't change the creamy texture that polenta is so well known for. Maintaining the beautiful yellow color was also something that was important to me and I didn't want to add any coloring (dyes, tumeric, saffron, etc.).

Enter the yellow split pea. Significantly more nutritious than corn, a 1/4 cup of yellow split peas contains almost 50% of your recommended daily intake of fiber and considerably less sugars. And it still tastes great, with a slightly more earthy pea flavor. So how do you make it? The same way you would polenta, but with one little step before you can begin cooking. And it involves a coffee grinder.

faux-lenta2


First you must grind the yellow split peas in a coffee grinder dedicated for spices. Just wipe out any spice residue before you begin. Also, you should make sure to pick through the split peas first to make sure that there are no small pebbles that could ruin your blade. Grind until the split peas resemble something like coarsely ground corn. Then just cook like you would polenta, whisking quickly at first to break up any clumps. A little butter, salt and pepper and you are all set.
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10.08.2009

Lamb Soup with Beet Horseradish and Lemon

lamb soup with beet horseradish and lemon

It is definitely getting cooler in these parts. And getting darker earlier too. Unfortunately, that is the one part of the "out with the old-in with the new" that I don't look forward to this time of year. As night time creeps in a little earlier each day, one of the activities I have been really enjoying lately is stock making. Preparing your own stocks is an easy way to add incredible flavor and depth to your dishes and sauces, or even to just make your own soup. It takes very little actual work, but does take a fair amount of cooking time. I've made a few batches lately which I have been turning into soups for my lunch. The latest batch was made with some less than desirable cuts of lamb. These cuts are perfectly suited for long simmering required by stock making. Because they are not more tender cuts, they are ridiculously inexpensive which never hurts either.


4 lbs. lamb (mix of stew meat and neck bones)
2 gallons of water
5 large carrots
5 large ribs of celery
3 onions
3 fresh bay leaves, torn
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp beet horseradish
juice of two lemons
5 sprigs fresh thyme
5 oz. capelli d'angelo pasta
salt and pepper to taste


For the stock:

In a stock pot, heat oil over medium heat. Brown the lamb in batches and reserve. Cut all of the vegetables into large chunks and add to the stock pot, cooking in the lamb drippings until nicely browned. Add in bay leaves and tomato paste and stir. Pour in 1 gallon of water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a rolling simmer and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

** I find that after about an hour, the vegetables will have spent all of the flavor and no longer are required to be in the pot. I remove them at this point. **

Add the neck bones and most of the stew meat, reserving some for later. Add the remaining gallon of water and the thyme. Bring back to a boil and reduce to a rolling simmer and cook for three to five hours. Be sure to skim off any scum that might come to the top. After two to three hours, taste the stock every once in a while to check it's progress. When you are satisfied with the results, remove from the heat.

At this point, I like to remove the lamb and strain the stock. Then I ladle the stock into several plastic containers. I allow the stock to cool. As the stock cools, the fat will collect on the top. Simply remove the fat for a fat free stock that will still have plenty of body. Refrigerate for three to four days or freeze for three months.


For the soup:


Pour the de-fatted stock into a pot and bring to a boil. Add the reserved stew meat and reduce the heat to a rolling simmer for 30 minutes. About 25 minutes into cooking the stew meat, add the capelli d-angelo and the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with a garnish of beet horseradish and some thyme.

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10.03.2009

Hard Cider

hard cider


One topic I don't believe I have talked about on Six Course Dinner is my flirtation with fermenting. (I guess the sourdough starter sort of counts.) Over the last few years, there have been many sessions of watching barley steeping in 150F water, yeast selection, and hop aroma filled nostrils. And while brewing beer is tremendously satisfying, all the boiling and sanitizing does end up making it quite a process. So as fall starts to get comfy in these parts, I was really looking forward to some more fermenting projects. This time I've decided to save a bit of time and a bit of clean up and make some hard cider, or apfelwein. I've added some spices to support the great apple cider from my local farmer's market.


5 gallons apple cider
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp allspice berries
1 tsp grains of paradise
1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp white peppercorns
1 package Wyeast cider yeast


***If you have never brewed before or don't have carboys and airlocks I highly recommend familiarizing yourself with the basic brewing process, with additional focus on sanitization. Cider and beer making both are only possible because of rigorous sanitizing of anything that might come in contact with your brew. Also, U.S. laws require that anyone fermenting beer, cider, mead, wine, or sake be 21 years old or older. You don't want the ATF coming after you, do you? Didn't think so.***

Bring 3/4 of one gallon of cider to boil and add the light brown sugar and maple syrup to dissolve. Place the remaining 1/4 gallon of cider in the freezer; you will need this when you bottle. In a pan, gently toast the spices over medium heat until fragrant, but not burned. Lightly crush in a mortar and pestle. Add to the boiling mixture and cook for five minutes. REmove from heat, cover, and let it return to room temperature.

In your sanitized carboy, pour in your now cooled and sugar/spice laden cider. Pour two more gallons of cider on top of this. Pitch your activated yeast. Pour remaining two gallons of cider into carboy to help aerate the entire batch. Seal with a sanitized airlock. Ferment for at least four weeks.

One month later, remove the cider from the freezer. Let it thaw and then boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and cover, letting the cider come down to room temperature. Put in another sanitized bottling bucket or carboy. Through a sanitized siphon, move the cider into the bottling bucket. Bottle in sanitized bottles and wait a week or two for the subtle carbonation to take place. Enjoy slightly chilled and preferably outside.
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9.21.2009

Guest Post 1 : Beet Apple Salsa and Curry Pumpkin Hummus

So here's a new thing for Six Course Dinner. For the first time (but not the last?) , we have a guest post. This comes from Ashley North Compton of The Wanderous. You have been reading The Wanderous, haven't you? Six Course Dinner was lucky enough to be apart of The Wanderous a few times over the summer, and now it is time to repay the favor. So here is Ashley's take on some perfect autumn snacking foods, as well as a few gorgeous photos and the sassiest writing to ever grace 6CD. Without further ado....Ashley? If you are ready?


dishitup


Oh fall, you're back and I am happy for your abundant return.

I think, if nothing else, fall is a celebration of variety. Lots of tonal, saturated colors abound. Many different textures and tastes are available naturally. Bitter and savory mix with natural-sweet [think root vegetables] + spicy. Said spice[s] compliment the crunchiest of apples and the succulent-est (uh...) of squash. I could go on; I will spare you.

Though fall clearly strikes many-a-fancy; there is something a bit sad about the carefree, long, slow summer nights escaping away. Enter :: traditional summer dishes re-imagined with fall-like flavors...

In no particular order- beet apple salsa + curry-pumpkin hummus. Served in tandem to kick the autumnal color-qualities up a notch with an edible dipping mechanism[s] of ones' choosing. Tending towards temperature contrasts, I made homemade [read: slightly crunchy but mostly warm] spelt tortilla chips topped with black sea salt. Natural charcoal on the salt is detoxifying- and also, contrast is pretty. Truly- this duo, separate or together, would be good on many-an item...from a grilled veggie to a rice cracker to within a wrap or atop salad. Dips are sort of awesome that way- they keep for a while and are endlessly malleable to form, or supplement, other dishes at a later date.

Let's start, in a scholarly-alphabetical fashion, with the farmers-market-procured:


Beet Apple Salsa
[makes about 2 c; double/triple to your hearts content].


beetsalsa


4-6 medium to large beets
1 gala apple
1/2 red onion
2 fresh cayenne peppers (or 1 jalapeño)
1 clove of garlic
2 TB cold pressed olive oil
2 TB red wine vinegar
1 TB fresh lemon juice
sea salt + freshly ground pepper to taste

Peel and steam the beets. Beets are lovely roasted- but steaming keeps a bit more of the crunch. Next, dice the apple, onion and said (now cooled) beets. Mince the garlic and add, then the cayennes after de-ribbing and de-seeding them [unless you are a badass]. Combine with all other ingredients.

Curry-Pumpkin Hummus
[makes about 4 cups as such]


pumpkinhummus


1 can of organic pumpkin
1 can of organic garbanzo beans
[note :: yes, freshly cooking both of the above is preferred...but sometimes annoying]
1 TB tahini
1/4 c. curried cashews [alternatively 1/4 c. raw cashews and about 1/2 extra TB of curry]
4 TB fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
1-2 tsp of fresh ginger
3 TB olive oil
a splash of balsamic vinegar
a splash of authentic maple syrup
1 TB curry powder [to taste]
sea salt + freshly ground pepper, to taste


Combine all in a food processor. Add more olive oil if need-be.


Either recipe is easily doctored and is notably subjective. Consistencies and 'hotness' can be altered to one's liking. The only requirement is both, respectively, must be placed in pretty little bowls.


Not too shabby, I would say. Thanks, Ashley! Job well done! All of those words and photos are property of Ashley North Compton, so show 'm some respect, eh?

If you are interested in writing up a guest post, send me an email and we'll work something out. If the rest are as good as this, I might have time to go on a nice vacation. If only I could afford to...maybe if I sold a kidney....

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9.19.2009

One Day, These Asian Pears Will Sing

gkf6

.............................................................................................See this asian pear tree?


It has just found a new home right in that spot. I know because I put it there. I dug the hole to the correct depth. I cleared out all of the old and gnarly roots that were there from some long gone tree or vine. I made sure the tree was level. I checked to see that the bud union faced north. I filled in the hole with rich soil. I built a berm around the tree.

I did it because I wanted to help.

This tree is now apart of the latest addition to Great Kids Farm, a farm owned by Baltimore City Public Schools that helps teach students about the sources of healthy foods as well as supplying the school system with nutritious foods instead of frozen/canned/processed foods. About 25 or so volunteers spent a few hours at this gem of a farm to help plant a 'mini orchard' of apples, plums, persimmons, peaches, and even asian pears.

gkf8

gkf7


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The hope is that students will come and learn more about where their food comes from as well as directly take part in growing the very food that will end up on their cafeteria tray. It is an amazing thing being done by Baltimore City Public Schools, and more directly, Tony Geraci, the man who started it all (and recent winner of Baltimore City Paper's "Best Public Servant" award). I heard Mr. Geraci talk a few weeks ago about the program and I am very glad to be able to help out.

If you live in the Greater Baltimore area, I urge you to look into supporting this program in anyway way you can. I don't get too political on Six Course Dinner, but this is a cause that is too important to pass by. Helping our city's students get the proper nutrition they need to help stay focused in class has enormous payoffs for everyone. Besides, don't you want to get out to a beautiful farm for an afternoon:

gkf1

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9.12.2009

"Ancho Chile Sourdough Brownie Waffles" or "Using Your Sourdough Starter"

starter

You have been using your sourdough starter, right? Good. Because I'm getting pretty excited by mine. Latest creation, the extremely elusive ancho chile brownie waffle. A breakfast years in the making, these waffles can definitely be filed under "fuel in the tank".


ancho chile brownie waffles

I'm not going to post the waffle recipe here, as it is directly evolved from the King Arthur Flour recipe. Simply make a double batch, adding some cocoa powder and 72% chocolate to one batch and three ground up ancho chiles to the other. Top with some strawberries and some freshly whipped whipped cream and serve alongside a few incredible people.


brunch by kvh
above photo by kvh


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9.05.2009

Salmon with Blueberry Mustard and Sour Cream

salmon with blueberry mustard and sour cream

I know that I have recently done a post featuring salmon. I'll admit it, salmon is probably my favorite fish. I could go on and on about how much I could eat it at any meal of the day, but that is time better spent cooking rather than preaching. So, here is a simple and delicious accompaniment to a nice fillet of salmon.


1 cup blueberries
2 - 3 heaping tbsp whole grain mustard
1 shallot, chopped
2 tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste


In a pan over medium heat, add butter and cook until melted. Add finely chopped shallot and cook until starting to become translucent. Before the shallots have begun to brown, add blueberries, stirring in to coat with butter in the pan. As the blueberries begin to cook, they will start to soften. When they do, gently crush then with the back of a spoon. When the pan is full of a wonderfully purple paste, stir in mustard. Cook down for one minute to remove excess moisture. Season with salt and pepper and serve with salmon and a nice dollop of fresh sour cream.

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8.26.2009

Soba and Squash

soba and squash


This quickly assembled union of soba noodles and summer squash is one of those meals that is ready even before you've set the table. The whole dish can be prepared before the water has even come to a boil. Having only four main ingredients to gather up doesn't hurt either! It's a simple summer noodle dish of cool soba noodles and summer squash lightly coated with some fresh dill infused crème fraîche. The only thing left to do is lightly season with salt and pepper and you are all set. My personal best "fridge-to-table" time" is 7 minutes. Think you can beat that?



4 oz. soba noodles
1 medium summer squash
3 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
3 tbsp crème fraîche
salt and pepper to taste



In a large saucepan, bring 3 qts. of water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, finely slice the summer squash with a chef's knife, or on a mandoline, and place in a large heatproof bowl. Place the bowl in the sink. When the water is boiling, add the soba noodles and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until tender. Place a colander over the bowl containing the squash. Pour noodles and boiling water into the colander, so the bowl collects all of the hot liquid. (This boiling water will briefly blanch the thinly sliced squash.) Separate the colander from the bowl and move the bowl to the counter. Rinse noodles under cold water until they are nice and cool, about 1 minute. Place the colander back into the sink and poor the squash over the noodles. Gently rinse again to cool the squash down. Move both ingredients to a bowl and fold in the dill and crème fraîche (you can substitute sour cream in a pinch). Season with salt and pepper to taste. (Maybe add a little crushed red pepper, if you like....) Serves two.


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8.20.2009

Sockeye Salmon with Cilantro, Grapefruit, Green Beans, and Sweet Corn

august


In addition to death and taxes, I'd like to add unbearable summer heat to the list of guaranteed certainties. I made it through June and July remarkably well, but August? That's a different beast altogether. Hot and sticky are two things I don't like to be (as well as rude and homicidal while we're at it), but I can take solace in two other 'sure things': that fall is on the horizon, and that our blasted sun I've been silently cursing is largely responsible for a plethora of great summer vegetables. And for that, I am grateful.

This is the time of the year when I rarely fire up the stove so I like to take advantage of really good ingredients and try not to mess with them too much. For example, only two of the ingredients in this dish ever come in contact with heat, and when they do it is not for very long. In fact, most of this dish can be prepared between runs through the sprinkler. Which would be a good thing if only I had a sprinkler to run through. Oh, well.



1/2 lbs wild caught Sockeye salmon
1 grapefruit, sectioned
1 bunch cilantro, thoroughly washed
1/2 lbs fresh green beans, trimmed
2 cups sweet corn
1 cup white wine
1/4 small red onion
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste


In a blender or food processor, blend sweet corn into a smooth puree. Move to a small saucepan and gently cook over low heat, adding the white wine. Feel free to add some cilantro stalks at this point as they have great flavor and are easy to remove before plating. Let this gently cook for about five minutes and then remove form heat. Season with salt and pepper.

With a mandoline (or some good knife skills) slice green beans lengthwise into four or five slices each. Chop in half when done and reserve. Slice a little red onion this way as well. Have your cilantro cleaned and finely chopped and with grapefruit sectioned and free of any pith.

In a saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Prepare salmon by running the back of your knife blade against the skin. Go with the direction of the scales with firm pressure to try to press out as much moisture as possible. This well help to develop crisp skin. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Sear salmon skin side down until nice and crisp. This should not take long. When skin is a healthy golden brown, gently flip the fish over to cook the flesh. Reduce heat and cook until the salmon is cooked medium to medium rare. (Time will depend on thickness of the fish.) remove from heat when done.

To assemble, ladle sweet corn/white wine broth into a wide and shallow bowl. Top with green beans, grapefruit, red onion, cilantro, and finally the salmon. Sprinkle with a little extra salt and pepper and serve. Makes two servings.

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8.15.2009

Sourdough Starter

sourdough starter

The above photo contains three things that alone are not that spectacular, but when they get together: magic happens. Flour. Water. Grapes. Done. Thats all. Well, plus a little time. Behold: my first sourdough starter.

Since the weather is still too warm to do much serious cooking, I've taken to starting up a more long term project. Making my own sourdough starter seemed to fit the bill. With the recent acquisition of a digital kitchen scale, I figured bread baking season is open for business. Unless you have worked in a carnival and/or understand how humidity affects flour, using a scale (digital or otherwise) is the only way to accurately know how much flour you are using. Conclusion: if you are baking, you should have a scale. End of story. Back to the starter:


1 lbs flour
1 pint water
1 lbs crushed organic grapes
a large bowl
a clean dish towel
cheesecloth


In a large clean bowl, mix flour and water (measured by weight). Crush grapes and wrap in cheesecloth. Reserve any grape juice and add to mixture. Add packet of grapes. Cover with a clean dish towel and store at 70-80F. After the mixture has started to ferment (anywhere from 1 to 5 days, remove grapes and add 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water. Do this once or twice a day for 3-4 days, then transfer to a clean container and refrigerate until ready to use. You will have to feed the starter periodically.

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8.06.2009

Roast Pork with Rosemary and Blueberries

roast pork with rosemary and blueberries

So far, summer here has been rather bearable. It's been hot here and there, but overall I haven't been forced to sit in a certain chain bookstore for hours on end just to enjoy the air conditioning. I like when it is not too hot. Give me spring, fall, and winter any day of the week. I could easily skip the summer heat and be completely content. So, in the spirit of our relatively cool summer (only 80F today), I decided it was okay to fire up the oven: but only for a few minutes. In my mind, the oven is reserved for only cooler weather. So I decided to make something that easily could work in both warmer and cooler weather. The use of blueberries gives the pork a nice and juicy partner and the rosemary adds a certain brightness. Summer food? Winter food? Who cares! Good food is for every season!



1 lbs. pork tenderloin
5 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 oz. dried blueberries
1 cup dry red wine
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste



Preheat oven to 425F. In a large (ovenproof) saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add 2 sprigs of rosemary and heat for one minute. Meanwhile, season pork with salt and pepper. After the oil has taken on the flavor of the rosemary, remove the sprigs and add the pork, browning on all sides. When well browned, move pan to the oven for 10-15 minutes (depending on circumference of the loin) and roast. Remove loin from the pan and let rest (under a loose piece of aluminum foil) for 5 minutes. Turn off the oven.

In the same pan, add the chopped onion and gently cook until translucent. Add the blue berries and the remaining sprigs of rosemary. Add wine and reduce heat. Reduce wine until about 1/4 cup. Remove rosemary. Stir in the butter and let the sauce cool for a few minutes. Taste and salt and pepper appropriately. Slice the pork on the bias and dress with some blueberries and wine and a little chopped rosemary.


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8.01.2009

Zucchini Pasta with Basil and Scallions

zucchini pasta

Call it pasta. Call it salad. Just don't call it pasta salad. Using a vegetable as a "noodle" is a great way to keep your kitchen cool in the summer. There is no heat applied and every ingredient can come straight from the fridge. All you need are a few good knife skills (and maybe a mandoline) to create very thin noodle-like strands from vegetables. My noodles ended up about a 1/16th of an inch thick: perfect for a noodle. Add a little bit of extra flavorings and you are ready for dinner.


5 zucchini
2 large bunches of fresh basil
6 scallions
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste


Take the zucchini and slice into very thin slices with a sharp chef's knife or on a mandoline. Stack the slices to recreate the original shape of the zucchini. With your knife, slice into 1/16th of an inch strips. Place all zucchini noodles into a colander and lightly salt. Let sit for 30 minutes to pull excess moisture out of the vegetables. Move to a large bowl. Chop basil into very thin pieces, like a chiffonade. Add to zucchini. Slice the greens of the scallions and add to the noodles. Season with salt and pepper, and add olive oil and vinegar. Toss well to coat each noodle with the dressing.

Feel free to add any of these ingredients to make the dish even better: lemon juice, crushed red pepper, thinly sliced garlic, goat cheese, pine nuts, mustard......

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7.25.2009

Be Back Soon...

I don't really like to announce these things to large groups of people, but..no post this week.

I'll be out of town attending the funeral of my grandfather. 95 years is a long time to live. We should all be so lucky.

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7.18.2009

Tomato and Rosewater Sorbet

tomato rosewater sorbet

Summer is in full swing, which means one thing: tomatoes. Although tomatoes have been popping up at the local farmer's markets for weeks now, the really good ones are just starting to show up. This morning, one bunch of orange colored tomatoes caught my eye. Determined not to just eat them like an apple, I thought I would turn them into an even more refreshing treat: sorbet. I did not want to make it too sweet (which you could if you wanted), as the tomatoes already have a very distinct sweetness in their own right. Just a touch of added sweetness, and a healthy does of rosewater, and a few other ingredients and I was ready for the icebox.


4 very ripe tomatoes, seeded
1/2 cup rosewater
1/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp vodka
pinch of salt


In a food processor or blender, puree tomatoes until smooth. Pour into a large, but shallow baking dish. Mix in rosewater, lime juice, vodka, and sugar until well combined. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and place in the freezer for three hours. Every half hour, stir the mixture with a fork to break up large ice crystals. If stirred properly, the end result should be very smooth. Serve cold (and preferably outside).

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7.11.2009

Gravlax = Heaven

gravlax

It is pretty much a simple equation: salt + sugar + salmon + time = heaven.

How I love salmon. Such a delicious fish that's diversity continues to astound me. I love it pan seared. I love it grilled. I love it poached. I love it smoked. But the most simplest method I find is to salt cure the salmon. Salt curing involves no application of heat (which is great for the summertime), a handful of staple ingredients, and a small amount of refrigerator space. The only other ingredient is the most pesky one: time. Unlike curing duck breast, making salt cured salmon, known as gravlax, takes only a day or two. Still, just knowing the silky texture that awaits you can make those 48 hours almost unbearable!


gravlax


2 fillets of salmon, totaling 1 lbs.
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 small bunch fresh dill
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup peaty Scotch ( if desired)



Check your salmon for any pin bones and remove as necessary with clean tweezers or needle nose pliers. If desired, gently marinate salmon, flesh side down, in some peaty Scotch (I recommend Caol Ila) for about half and hour. Pat dry. On a large piece of cling film, spread some of the salt and sugar mixture in an area slightly larger than the first fillet. Top mixture with first fillet. Sprinkle some freshly ground black pepper on top and cover with more salt/sugar. At this point, place the fresh dill on top. (Confession time: I didn't have fresh dill for this batch and will openly confess to using dried dill. The results will still be great. Used 3 - 4 tbsp dried dill if you must.) Repeat the process for the other fillet. and invert on top of the first fillet.

Wrap tightly with cling film. Wrap with another layer of cling film to ensure nothing drips out of the parcel. Place in a dish with a high rim, like a pie plate. On top the whole parcel, place an inverted dinner plate. Add some weight on top the dinner plate. You can used can goods or anything else, just make sure the weight is distributed as evenly as possible. Place the entire set up in your refrigerator for 48 hours, turning the fish every 12 hours or so. When done, briefly rinse under running water to remove any excess salt. Dry thoroughly with paper towels and slice on the bias as thinly as possible. Use your sharpest knife and try to slice with one long stroke instead of sawing away.

Great for breakfast with cream cheese on a bagel, or better still: some baguette.


gravlax


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7.06.2009

Wanderous Food



This weekend I celebrated our nation's independence by playing wiffle ball, eating all sorts of grilled food, waving sparklers through the evening air, and becoming famous.

That's because I recently had the wonderful opportunity to be featured on The Wanderous. The Wanderous is a great blog devoted to all things awesome (ergo, my status as awesome has now been secured). When you are done reading this, head over to The Wanderous and learn about all sorts of really cool things you'll never knew you were able to live without.

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7.04.2009

Gorgonzola Aleppo Pepper Compound Butter

gorgonzola allepo compound butter

Compound butters are a great way to infuse more flavor into a meal. The basic principle is this: let butter soften and then add any ingredient (herbs, spices, etc.) that would help compliment what you are going to serve. Compound butters are not used for cooking. They are used more as a garnish, to be spread onto grilled vegetables, roasted meats, and other tasty items. Think of it as a ready made sauce just waiting to be used. You can freeze them, like you would any butter, and slice off a piece as needed.


gorgonzola allepo compound butter


8 0z. unsalted butter, room temperature
3 oz. gorgonzola dulce, room temperature
1/2 tbsp aleppo pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
fresh parley, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste


In a bowl, combine all ingredients. With your hands, mix thoroughly until well combined. Take a sheet of parchment paper, and scoop out butter mixture close to one end. Try to form into a log shape. Gently roll the paper up, giving even pressure to compress butter into a tight log. Twist the ends of the parchment and tie with kitchen string. Place in fridge or freezer until cold enough to slice. Try it spread over some freshly grilled corn on the cob!


gorgonzola allepo compound butter

6.27.2009

Braised Pork Shoulder Empanadas

Braised Pork Shoulder Empanadas

I've found myself rather busy lately and without much time to sit down and cook. When I can peer into the future and see myself heading in eight different directions at once, I like to cut myself off at the pass and prepare a large batch of food for times when cooking is not going to be an option. Usually, this happens in the winter and large quantities of minestrone soup fits the bill. But seeing as it is now officially summer (and hot, hot, hot!), minestrone soup is sort of out of the question. Instead, I made this delicious little empanadas. Easy to make, and even easier to eat on the go, these little guys transport very well when you are no where near your dining room table.


2 lbs pork shoulder
3 cherry peppers
8 oz. farmers cheese
20 empanada wrappers
1 cup fresh cilantro, washed
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2.5 cups orange juice
0.5 cups lime juice
1 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup grape seed oil
1 tbsp allspice berries
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin seed
4 cloves
salt and pepper to taste

Several hours (or even the night before) you want to start cooking, grind up the allspice berries, cumin, and black pepper until they are every fine. Rub into the pork and let it sit (covered) in the fridge: at least 4 hours. Also, slice the cherry peppers thinly and place into a clean glass jar with 1 cup orange juice, 1 cup apple cider vinegar, and 1/2 cup of cilantro. Screw on the jar and place in the fridge (for at least 4 hours).

Preheat your oven to 325F. In a large dutch oven, heat 3 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and gently saute, but to not burn. At this point, also add the pork shoulder. Allow the shoulder to brown, turning it to get every side. When browned all over, add the remaining orange juice and the lime juice. Cover and place in the oven for 2.5 hours, or until fork tender. Let the pork rest for 30 minutes after braising. Then shred the pork.

I like to take the braising liquid, which now has a TON of flavor, and reduce it on the stove until it is just under one cup of liquid. I then pour this over the shredded pork and add another 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro. It is only now that I would think about seasoning it with salt and pepper.

Next, heat up grape seed oil in a skillet for frying. While the oil is heating up, spread 1 tsp farmers cheese onto an emapanada wrapper. Top with a tbsp or so of the shredded pork, and a few slices of our pickled peppers.


Braised Pork Shoulder Empanadas


Make sure you are placing your filling off center. Fold over the empanada wrapper and crimp the edges together making a tight seal. Gently fry each empanada for a minute or two per side, until nice and golden brown. Let them cool for a few minutes before serving.

6.19.2009

Sometimes

Yesterday, I told you about a great asparagus, lemon, and egg soup and how it was made by three people for something great. Well, it was all a part of a test drive for Baltimore's latest 'diy restaurant'.


sometimes


Announcing: Sometimes. Sometimes is an alternative dining experience dedicated to serving great food for those who prefer something slightly different you cannot get at a regular restaurant. Sometimes has a small staff (three cooks, two servers) which allows for greater flexibility in how and when meals are offered. Like the name, sometimes the restaurant is open, and sometimes it is not. So how do you attend? Check out sometimes and find out.


6.18.2009

Asparagus, Lemon, and Egg Soup

asparagus lemon and egg soup

Everyone remembers from grade school that the three states of matter are solid, liquid, and gas. What they didn't tell you as you were sitting behind your tiny desk is that they could easily have been talking about soup. In one soup bowl, you have neatly contained all three states of matter. You've got your solids (meat, vegetables, noodles, etc.) and liquids (broth, stock, cream, etc.) and even gas (the perfumed steam rising from the bowl.) Not only that, but soup (and rest) are pretty much the only medicine I take when I am feeling sick. But soup is not just another sick day cliche, it is great whenever you are great. And this soup in particular
(which was designed by myself and two other great cooks) was consumed during something great. (Check here for more details.)

This soup is a subtle one. The asparagus and lemon flavor is there, even though you are staring at a relatively clear broth. But the real treat is the raw egg yolk. By pouring the soup over the yolk, you are not only slightly cooking it, but you are creating a culinary bomb. When you go to eat the soup, you pop the yolk. This releases the still runny yolk into the broth, changing the seemingly thin bodied liquid into a rich and lip-smacking soup.


2 bunches asparagus, grilled
1 liter vegetable stock
2 lemons
4 raw egg yolks
parsley, chopped
salt and pepper


Bring stock to a boil in a large stock pot. While the liquid is warming up, grill asparagus until done and slightly charred. Remove hard part of the asparagus stem and place in a blender (reserve a few) with a ladleful of stock and some parsley. Puree until smooth. Add to stock and simmer for a few minutes. Zest and juice the two lemons. Add zest and juice to the stock. Stir well to mix thoroughly. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Lastly, add an egg yolk to each bowl. Gently ladle the soup (which is warm but not too hot: allow the soup to stand for a few minutes if too hot) over the egg yolk and garnish with some parsley and the tips of the reserved asparagus.

6.13.2009

Chickpeas with Rosemary and Preserved Blood Orange

chickpeas with rosemary and preserved blood orange

Finally. Sorry for the delay with this. I have excuses, but I honestly don't even think they matter a whole lot. But, I finally got around to using my preserved blood oranges. As I mentioned before, I was interested in trying these out as a response to the lack of a thorough taste description of preserved lemons. Well, I still haven't had preserved lemons, but if they are anything like my little blood oranges here, you can just go ahead and sign me up as a preserved lemon lover as well.

So what do preserved blood oranges taste like? Well, to find out I simply cooked them with some chickpeas and rosemary. I didn't want anything too complex to cover up the flavor of the oranges so this time I restricted myself to two ingredients (plus some olive oil, salt, and pepper). I used the rind of one quarter of a preserved blood orange. You don't eat the flesh, it is simply too salty. The rind has a slightly squishy texture and the pith is translucent, like it has been candied. The first thing you notice about them is they are very, very salty. But that saltiness is immediately followed by an intense citrus flavor. Definitely orangey, but I really can only describe it as uniquely citrus. And in combination with the rosemary, the preserved blood orange still shined through, although the 'piney-ness' of the rosemary supported it very well.

This is definitely one to keep in the rotation. I'm sure you'll see more preserved blood orange on 6CD in the weeks and months to come. Until then, why not make your own?

6.04.2009

Notes From the 6CD Kitchen

First off, I haven't forgotten about you, dear readers. My recent move was relatively painless and I am in the process of getting my new apartment whipped into shape. I know that there are some people out there asking "where's the recipe this week?" "What about the blood oranges you promised to tell us about two weeks ago?" All in due time, my friends.

My excuse this week, aside from the mountains of boxes I must sift through and finding homes for each one's contents, is a mildly frustrating one. For those of you who know me personally, you know that I got a new apartment because my previous landlord lacked the knowledge (as well as funding) to complete even the simplest repair. So when I moved into my new pad, I was excited to know that everything would be working just great. Everything that is, but the oven/stove. Yup. Not hooked up to the gas line. So, deciding not to rely on the microwave for my meals, there has been very little cooking this week. Preparing cold cereal counts as cooking, right? Right?

But, fear not as the new (and decidedly more competent) landlord will be around this weekend to take care of everything. I have so much more faith in him. Let's hope he lives up to my expectations.

In the meantime, I have a request for you. Every week I offer you a new dish. Sometimes I hear back from readers (both near and far) about their culinary adventures. So, since I am sorry to say that I have no recipe for you this week, I thought I'd give you the chance to tell me about yours. What have you been cooking lately? Anything totally amazing? Something that changed the way you view your food / you life / your pets? Anything so awful you cringe at the very thought of it? Let me know! I'm all ears and I've got an empty plate.

5.29.2009

Roasted Apples and Radishes with Mustard and Mint

roast apple and radish with mustard and mint

I know that I promised you last week that I would tell you more about my preserved blood oranges, but I just didn't get to them this week. You might recall that I am in the process of moving, so cooking has not really been on my radar this week. In fact, all of my pots and pans are already packed up. So, hopefully I will get to the blood oranges next week. (But don't hold me to it).

I did, however, throw this little dish together for some friends the other day. It is very simple to make and doesn't require a lot of prep work. Plus, it tastes really good too. What were the odds?


2 apples
12 radishes
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp mustard
1 tbsp fresh chopped mint
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 375F. Chop apples into bit sized pieces and radishes into quarters. In an ovenproof pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add apples and radishes and toss to coat with the olive oil. Cook for a few minutes before moving the pan into the oven. Roast the apples and radishes for 25-30 minutes or until very tender. Remove from oven and stir in mustard, mint, and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and serve.


5.23.2009

Preserved Blood Oranges

preserved blood orange

Remember my duck with blood orange mayonnaise post a while back? Go ahead and refesh your memory. I'll wait.

Got it? Good. Well, I ended up not using all of my blood oranges and was about to just going to sit down and eat those radiant little fruits when a little inspiration showed up. I have heard about preserved lemons (the act of packing sliced up lemons in lemon juice and salt and allowing the 'citrus cure' to preserve the fruit) before but had never tried them. And in doing a little research, it became clear to me that it is very hard to get a good description of what they taste like. So, I thought I'd give it a go, but this time I would use my blood oranges. I started them shortly after my blood orange mayonnaise post and they have been waiting for me ever since.

Basically, you scrub the orange well and slice it into sections, leaving them barely intact on one end. Then you rub plenty of kosher salt into the flesh and rind. Place them in a very clean jar, and pour even more kosher salt in. (If my memory serves me right, I feel like I used just under a cup of salt total.) Then you simply cover the salted fruit with blood orange juice. Screw the very clean lid on and let it rest in a cool, dark place for a few weeks. Every couple of days, give it a little shake to redistribute any undissolved salt.

So, back to the big question. What do preserved blood oranges taste like?

I'm not telling. At least, not yet. But soon. This is mostly because Six Course Dinner is in the process of moving. Not web pages or anything, but physically moving. As soon as the dust settles, I'll fill you in on all the 'juicy' blood orange details. So stay tuned.


5.16.2009

Bulgur and Fig Paste Dessert with Almonds

bulgur and fig paste dessert with almonds

So I'm biking home from work the other day and I run into my friend Rachel
who tells me how she and another friend Angie cooked something from my blog. This is news that I always like to hear. She begins telling me that they made my Camembert, Radish, and Sweet Corn Cakes but didn't have any panko. Well, ingenuity took over and Rachel sent her husband out to the nearest convenience store to find a suitable substitute. What did he find? Ritz crackers. The reports are in and the crackers got two thumbs up from my friends. And to top it off, it sounds like they are planning more 'bastardizations' of my recipes. I say bring it on!

Of course, I am the first to admit that I do a fair amount of running around to find the right ingredients for the recipes on this blog. I am very willing to bike 5 or 6 miles just to buy the perfect kind of cheese. I will visit two separate farmers markets just to make sure I have all of my vegetables. I realize this may be a little nuts and most people probably are not going to be as willing to visit 3 to 4 food stores. Making multiple trips doesn't work for everybody.

So I came up with this dessert in response. Instead of finding out at the last minute you don't have one ingredient and decide to run out to corner store to a substitute, I was determined to do ALL of my food shopping for this dish entirely at my local convenience store! I headed down to University Mart, just a hop, skip, and jump away from my apartment and right near Johns Hopkins University. They tend to carry a few more unique items that the 7-11 wouldn't dream of having. Plus, they have the best falafel and hummus sandwich in town. (Because you always want your sandwich fillings and condiments to be made of the exact same ingredients...)

It was kind of fun to plan out something to cook while perusing the aisles stocked with everything from beef jerky to cultured yogurt drinks to AA batteries. After a few minutes, I figured out what I would make. Taking advantage of the Middle Eastern ownership, I found some bulgur wheat that I thought would be perfect. Everything else just fell into place. Remember, this all came from a convenience store.


1 cup fine bulgur
1 8 oz. can sweetened, condensed milk
1 cup water
1 handful of almonds, crushed
2 Hershey's Dark Chocolate bars
1 box Fig Newtons


In a saucepan, heat condensed milk and water to a boil. When boiling, add bulgur. Stir briefly and turn off the burner. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, melt down the chocolate bars in a double boiler. Pour onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, spreading it out evenly and about 1/8th to 1/4 in. thick and stick in the freezer. Take the Fig Newtons and remove the cookie part, leaving only the fig paste center. Reserve fig paste. When bulgur has cooled, spread onto frozen chocolate in an even 1/4 in. layer. Top with fig paste and crushed almond. Return to freezer for 20 minutes to set up, but don't let it freeze. Remove from freezer and cut into rectangles the same size as the fig paste. Serve.