Thursday, September 23, 2010

Low Country Boil

Fall is right around the corner. I can not wait for the cool air, the light breeze, and the beautiful colors of changing leaves all around. Right now in Atlanta, it feels as if Fall will never arrive. It's still hot, still humid, and still stifling without air conditioning. Though I know that in only a few short weeks, I will be wearing my sweaters and carving pumpkins and drinking hot chocolate reveling in my favorite season.

While this summer has been far too hot and humid for my taste so far, I felt like I needed to get my spirits up and send summer off right. What better way to celebrate summer than with a traditional low country boil. The delicious blend of potatoes, onions, corn, carrots, and shrimp mixed with the overwhelming mixture of spices cannot be recreated any other way.

I had my good friend R. teach me to make a Low Country Boil the good old fashioned southern way. According to R., there is no other way. He has been making this dish for years and has the timing down to a science. Even though we scaled the recipe down to feed four instead of 40, it still came out wonderful. All you need is a large stock pot, lots of newspapers, and hungry people.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Yum Yum Sauce

Every year for my birthday, my grandparents would come to visit and would insist on taking me and my family out to a Japanese Steakhouse. The kind of restaurant where the chef would cook in front of you, light things on fire, toss food into the air, and generally put on a huge show. I loved the show and the delicious soup, rice, and stirfry that came along with it.

Of course, one of the best parts of the restaurant was the yum yum sauce. The creamy, pale pink sauce that went well on just about anything. Vegetables, shrimp, scallops, steak, rice - anything you were given, it just made it taste better. If only I had that sauce, I feel as if I could eat vegetables for the rest of my life and be happy. Well my friends, I have discovered a recipe for yum yum sauce and I am pleased to say that while its not quite as good as my grandparent's japanese steakhouse version, its darn near close. And now I am sharing this wonderful sauce with you.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Make Your Own Sushi - Shrimp Tempura and Orange Chicken

After our very successful adventure into making California Rolls, M. and I decided to try something a little different for our next sushi making party. Don't get me wrong, the California Rolls are amazing. So amazing that we couldn't resist making another roll along with our new creations. We just wanted to try something a little more difficult. This led us to a shrimp tempura sushi roll. We loved this roll in our favorite little sushi restaurant, and couldn't wait to see if we could recreate it.

After tossing around a couple of ideas for other versions we wanted to try, M. brought up a chicken sushi roll. Not just any chicken, but fried orange chicken. Weird, unorthodox, but completely delicious.This went against any sort of "sushi rule" I had ever heard, but M. didn't care and he convinced me it would be amazing. And oh how amazing it was.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Kielbasa Dip

Just a short post today to share one of my favorite dip recipes. This is one of those party dips that you can whip up quickly for guests that stop by unannounced. Very creamy and hearty, this dip is not very low-calorie. It will satisfy those hunger pangs though!

Make sure to have plenty of crackers on hand. This would be good on vegatables too or even pita bread. The possibilities are endless. Just be sure to use something that can stand up to this thick dip.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Make Your Own Sushi - California Rolls

Sushi is one of those dishes that is extremely delicious, versatile, and when it is done right, it can get expensive. So after doing research and searching all over to find all the tools and ingredients we needed, Matt and I decided to try our hand at California Rolls.

You will need a bamboo mat, seaweed wrappers, short grain rice, sugar, rice wine vinegar, avocado, cucumber, imitation crab, mayo, and soy sauce for dipping.

Start out by rinsing a cup of rice in water until the water runs clear. Then drain the rice and let it sit for about 20 minutes.

Combine the rinsed rice and 1 1/4 cup water to a saucepot. Cover the pot and bring the rice and water to a boil. As soon as the water begins to boil, turn down the heat to low and let it sit, covered, for 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes is up, take the pot off of the heat and let it cool for 10 minutes. The rice should still be warm when you add in a mixture of 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tsp sugar. Fluff the mixture into the rice, which means to just gently fold it in with a fork. Let the mixture cool to room temperature. You now have your own batch of extra sticky rice!

While you are waiting for the rice to cool, slice up the avocado, cucumber, and crab into thin strips. The thinner the strips the easier it will be to wrap up the sushi.

Place the seaweed wrapper on the bamboo mat. Place a spoon full of your sticky rice on the seaweed and spread the rice out into a thin layer in all directions. Try to get the rice to the edge of the wrapper as best you can. This is the hardest part of the process, but don't be discouraged! Just take your time and keep spreading.

Place the thin strips of avocado, cucumber, and crab close to one end of the seaweed. Then place little bit of mayo over the top of the items in order to help it stick all together. Stickiness is definitely the key to sushi. Then start to slowly roll the seaweed wrapper with the bamboo mat, making sure to continue making sure it is wrapped as tightly as possible as you go. Once its formed into a cylinder, take the bamboo mat and shape it to be sure it is a perfect cylinder. (or you can get creative and make a rectangular prism!)

Take out your sharpest knife and begin to slice the roll into pieces. I found it was easiest to use a serrated knife and to start cutting in the middle of the roll. We got about eight pieces out of each roll, and the amount of rice yielded us about four rolls.

Pour yourself some soy sauce or whatever other sauce strikes your fancy, and its time to eat! You can use this basic lesson to make all sorts of sushi combinations. I'll be sharing my recipe for shrimp tempura with yum yum sauce soon!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hamburger Pizza

 Pizza is such a delicious dish that is just begging for a little creativity. Don't get me wrong, I love a good pepperoni pizza. Sometimes it is just nice to break out of the mold and try something new and exciting. Hamburger pizza is just the new and exciting I was looking for tonight.
The dish started out with store bought pizza dough. I'm still on the search for the perfect, hand stretched pizza dough for my creations. I have yet to stumble upon that recipe. So for now (and since I was starving!) I am sticking with my Pillsbury pizza dough. It turns out perfect and delicious every time! Just be sure to poke plenty of holes in the dough with your fork tines to avoid bubbles.
For the hamburger pizza, we chose traditional cheeseburger ingredients to make it taste as hamburger like as possible. Instead of slices, we diced up each of the ingredients for maximum coverage on the top of the pizza. This started with dicing up some red onion.
Then we cooked up the meat. Lean ground beef is what we chose, but don't be afraid to substitute ground turkey or even some tofu if that is more your thing. Anything lean that won't make the pizza soggy will be perfect. We used this delicious spice mix, salt and pepper to make it more flavorful.
When the meat is completely brown and no pink is left, sprinkle the meat all over the dough. We then sprinkled on about 10 slices of dill pickles (diced, of course), the red onions, and 1/2 cup of cheese. I used a four cheese combination. Then pop the pizza into the oven set at 450 degrees for 10  to 12 minutes.
While the meat is cooking, spread about 1/4 cup of ketchup on the pizza dough. If you love ketchup - really pour it on! If you don't - use a lighter hand. I personally love ketchup so I not only put more on but I had some on the side of my pizza too!
Then throw the ground meat right into the pan. This is about 1 pound of ground beef, but we only ended up using about 2/3 of a pound. Just brown up the meat in the pan and then drain off any excess fat.
When the pizza comes out of the oven, top it with a bit lettuce, tomato, and mustard. Leaving it until after the cooking is done makes sure the lettuce stays crisp and the tomatoes remain red and juicy.
What a delicious treat! Perfect with an ice cold pop to really celebrate the end of summer. Do you have any creative pizza recipes that I should try?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ice Cream Festival

This past Saturday, to celebrate coming back to the city for college, I made a visit to an ice cream festival that was being held in my local park. There were all sorts of different vendors that set up tents and sold bits of their ice cream treats. I tried some mango italian ice and then moved on to this waffle ice cream sandwich.

Two warm, fresh made waffles with a slab of frozen vanilla ice cream in the middle. What a fantastic, creative way to dress up an ice cream sandwich! Of course I said yes when the vendor asked if I wanted it dipped in chocolate.

The answer is always "yes" if you can have it dipped in chocolate.

I'll be trying to recreate these in my own kitchen soon. I've been so busy moving and getting geared up for the next semester that I haven't had much time to blog. I haven't even had time to cook. Frozen pizza has been my dinner on more than one occasion in the past week. I will be back to regular posting soon though.

Any suggestions for quick, inexpensive dinners that I should try in the next few days?