Besting Bon App: Double Grilled Salad

I rarely like to write about recipes I read in magazines. I tend to think that if it passed the editorial muster of print publication, my skills of improving upon it usually fail. However, once in a while I manage to get it right and when I do, I like to share. I’m a giver like that.

A couple of weeks ago I had a couple of friends over for dinner. One of them is a picky eater — yes, I sometimes think to myself, why do I bother to have these types of friends at all, let along invite them over to eat? I was cooking chicken and I wanted a simple, but fresh and summery side, and I came across this Bloody Mary Tomato Salad in July’s Bon Appetit. I made this salad to the letter, and it was delicious, my guests loved it. But there was something not right. I gave it some thought and decided to make it again, this time over July 4th. Again, I was hosting, so I increased portions and changed it up some. And again, my guests loved it, all 15 of them. To see what changes I made, keep reading.


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Friday Fuck Up: How Bobby Flay Ruined Thanksgiving

tgiving 010

For Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims mixed European and Native traditions.  Captain Smith, Squanto – how about a little love for the Asians? This year, my parents’ multinational crew of grad students promised to represent.  On the menu for our T-giving feast was Szechuan beef, Korean pancakes and short rib stew.

“You should cook something, too,” my mom said.

Determined to transcend my lowly status as gastronomic afterthought, I plotted to steal the show.  I would take Thanksgiving tradition to new heights by weaving in the culinary tricks I picked up during my recent hero’s voyage to Spain.

“HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH turkey paella???”  My Spanish friend Isabel, emailing me from Girona, needed 11 “HA”s and three question marks to communicate just how freakish it was to throw gobbler into my paella.

When I was in Barcelona and Madrid, though, I had paellas with all kinds of stuff – snails, rabbit, you name it.  I was further reassured after learning that Bobby Flay had the same idea; his recipe for turkey paella is all over the Web.  Turkey wasn’t the only unusual detail – the recipe also called for a “lemon-smoked paprika aioli” with mayo, lemon juice, and lemon peel.

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The Second Life of Corn Chowder

I don’t know why I had such a limited view of corn usage. Corn = grilled corn on the cob. That’s all. But then I let it pop and brown in hot oil and butter and threw it in with kale and roasted tomatoes for a salad.

I bought another four ears but did not have a plan of attack. And then I saw a corn chowder recipe over at Macheesmo. I never made corn chowder before, and I’m pretty sure I hadn’t followed a recipe all summer, so as the unofficial end of warmth approached last week, I fell in line and replicated a proper summer soup.

With the leftovers, however, I refused to simply reheat. Instead, I recreated a hotter, fattier soup and a slightly soggy frittata.


Corn Chowder Frittata

I think I botched this up, as I rushed to the broiler instead of letting the egg cook longer in the oven. I whipped one egg with hot sauce, salt and pepper. Then poured that over corn chowder leftovers, stirred it together and put the entire mixture into a pre-heated, buttered cast iron pan. Then I added sliced tomato to the top, with more salt and pepper and then slid it under the broiler. And waited and waited and waited. The mixture browned nicely on the top, but remained slightly soggy in the middle. I think cooking this in the oven for 15-20 minutes and then finishing in the oven, with a late addition of crumbled feta on top, would have worked better.

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A Consummated Love Affair: Eggs and Potato Chips

potato chip eggs

Without a doubt potato chips are my favorite snack food. Cheese (extremely sharp cheddar) is next and a combination of a plate of Herr’s Ripples with cheddar, spicy mustard and a pickle is my ultimate combo. With all this love, however, I’ve never incorporated chips into my cooking. (Though I  always wanted to try Herr’s Potato Chip Cookie.)

This was until I saw DC food writer Monica Bhide tweet about chips in an Indian-spiced egg dish. Holy Crap! How have I never thought of combining my two favorite things to eat. Finally! My love for salty crunch and creamy egg can be together at last! And because I now work from home full time I decided to try this out last week for lunch.

Egg Over Green Chili Potato Chips

Because I cooked this on the fly I didn’t have all of Monica’s set ingredients, which you can check out at her site. Here’s how I handled the situation.

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I’m Not Familiar

Grouper 1 (500 x 332)

Sundays at the Eastern Market flea market feature a few cooking related vendors, at least they did six years ago. There was this one vendor, a bearded man in his 60s, with a massive collection of old cookbooks and an even older collection of cast iron pans. I indulged in both.

Let me be clear though, six years ago I didn’t know a fucking thing about food. I didn’t know about cookware or ingredients or experts. I did know, however, that I needed to learn more than what I picked up by casually watching 30 Minute Meals after work.

One very thick cookbook stood out in the bearded man’s collection with its firm tone and streamlined recipes. I flipped through the pages thinking this could be a great, general cook book. The bearded man asked me, as I kept flipping, “Do you have any of his cookbooks at home? Familiar with James Beard?”

“No,” I smiled, “I’m not familiar.”

He encouraged me to buy it. And so I took home the 1981 version of The New James Beard and read it like a novel, well, a novel’s sequel. That fucker James Beard is clever.

In his recipe for “Chicken Salad with Fresh Coriander” (side note: he calls cilantro “Chinese parsley”), Beard  instructs: “Roast the chicken according to directions in Theory & Practice (page 83)” and then proceeds with the duration of the recipe.

I’m not sure if he assumes everyone already owns his previous book or he wanted to boost his sales, or both, but I went back to Eastern Market. The bearded vendor stocked it. I bought it. Both Beards won.

I take out New everyone once in a while when I’m looking to cook something basic, like rice. Or want some inspiration for a new way to cook a vegetable. Beard didn’t disappoint as I made the best fucking cucumbers of all time.

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Shrimp and Grits (and Buttermilk too)


There are few times when the BF and myself have an opportunity to cook together. Either he’s cooking a pasta dish or grilling some chicken which needs no more than one person, or I’ve taken over the kitchen and he doesn’t dare come near me, which is a shame really as the BF can actually cook.

On this occasion our cooking together was brought on as we were hosting a birthday brunch for our friend Butter, who has recently moved to DC from Jersey. Butter and I were having a cocktail at our local haunt and there were two women dining at the bar. Butter couldn’t quite determine what they were eating but was intrigued — so she asked. It was shrimp and grits. Butter had heard of grits but never tried them, so I figured shrimp and grits would be a nice surprise for her birthday brunch.

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Follow the Leader: Not a Smashing Good Time


Back in November or December I G-chatted BS and declared I had an awesome New Years’ Resolution. It would benefit my bookshelves and the blog. Every week I would cook a recipe from one of the 50+ cookbooks I owned. Sure, the one my brother bought me from Amsterdam that was a Spanish tapas cookbook written in Dutch would be a little tough, but, um, yea, I could make the gist of the resolution work.

It’s now March and I just started to pull out my many sources of recipes. On Monday night, like I said before, I pulled out my Bon Appetit and Gourmet magazines from 2009 (note: I haven’t renewed/bought any subscriptions for 2010), plus Bon Apps 770 cookbook. I used the book’s UNrecipe for roasted parsnips, and incorporated it with spinach, ricotta and onions. But I also wanted something else. I needed a proper starch. I used Gourmet’s Panfried Smashed Potatoes.

Get this – I followed the directions.

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