Food

12th September
2011
written by Steph
Along with not being a very good book blogger of late, I've also not been a very good food blogger for even longer. I'd hate for you guys to think that part of why I've not been updating often is because I've stopped eating and have wasted away into a husk of my former self. So not the case! While my cooking has backslid a bit due to the combination of stress and exhaustion related to school and life, I do still try to cook a few big meals each week. You guys know that I tend to eschew recipes, so as much as I loved sharing what I was making here on S&TI! it was always a pain for me to write my meals up like recipe posts. Instead, I'd much rather just snap a picture to document a meal well-made and share links to recipes that inspired the dish and maybe jot down a few notes about things I did to make the food my own. So, I've started up a Tumblr food site where I'm going to document my culinary adventures without the pressure of being useful to anyone but myself! However, the pictures are pretty (thanks Tony!) and as much as I'm doing this to create a little visual compendium of things I should remember to cook more than once, I'm hoping other cooks and eaters out there will find it inspiring and maybe even a little helpful. To me cooking isn't about rules or following the leader, so I'm hoping this more free-form approach will be a better fit for me. Anyway, continuing our trend of starting blogs inspired by things that are said on The Office (trivia time: the UK version inspired the name of this blog!), you can now check out what Tony and I have been stuffing our faces with over at You Should Put Your Mouth On This. It's still a bit anemic and I have no idea about how to comments work over on Tumblr, but I suspect these things will develop in time. [Edited to add that I decided to stop being lazy and figured out how to use Disqus to enable comments over at YSPYMOT. So now you can comment on individual meals should you so choose! Let us all bow down to my mad blogging skillz! 😉 ] Image of Put your mouth on that
17th February
2011
written by Steph

Maple-Glazed Tuna and Curried Pear & Potato Salad

It’s been ages since I posted a recipe on the site, something I apologize for. It’s not that I haven’t been cooking – I have – it’s just that I haven’t been making anything that seems all that blog-worthy. I feel like I’ve been in a bit of a cooking rut for the past few months (don't the holidays do that to us? Where all you want to do is eat out or order in take-out?), but I think I’m finally snapping out of it. I’ve recently been seeking out lots of new recipes to try, and the thought of cooking is no longer something that makes me feel tired but something that makes me feel excited.

Tony and I are never ones to really celebrate Valentine’s Day because I think it’s a fairly awful holiday. I feel like if Tony and I need the push of a corporate occasion to tell each other how much we care for each other, then our relationship is in trouble. I also dislike how restaurants use this time as an excuse to create special (read: expensive) menus that really break the budget. This year Tony and I decided we would observe Valentine’s Day from the comfort of our own home, where I would cook us a meal that was a little bit fancier than what we would normally make for ourselves (but at a quarter of the price of what we would pay dining out). I decided I would try a recipe I got off of Epicurious that was created by the most recent winner of Top Chef Masters, Marcus Samuelsson. This recipe is his own, and I have to admit that I didn’t stray from it one jot! Shocking, I know, but if you make it yourself, you’ll see it needs no adjusting! Ingredients For the tuna
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp REAL maple syrup
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • Two 6-ounce tuna fillets
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cilantro sprigs
For the salad
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters or 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 Bosc pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup blanched almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup shredded baby spinach
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9th December
2010
written by Steph
While Tony works away on writing our mega wrap-up post of our trip to San Francisco, I thought I'd whet all your appetites by sharing with you our super fancy meal at La Folie. As frequent readers know, Tony and I are pretty adventurous eaters and we enjoy spoiling ourselves every now and then with haute cuisine. We've eaten at the majority of upscale eateries here in Nashville, and pretty much every trip we take is capped in some way with an extravagant repast (plus, when we're not eating with the blue bloods, we tend to be scoping out the very best street food that a town has to offer!). It's not an exaggeration to say that food plays a big part in our life. La Folie was our big splurge meal while in San Francisco, and it was a special first for us because it was the first restaurant we've ever dined at that has a coveted Michelin star. After this sumptuous feast, we can certainly say that star is well-deserved, but also find ourselves wondering what the heck you have to do to earn 2 or even 3 stars! If you're a crazy foodie or just like to see what crazy things we pay good money to put in our mouths, look no further; your time has come! Click on pictures to enlarge and read descriptions. As you can see this was an incredibly sumptuous and decadent meal. It was also our most expensive splurge to date, but well worth it. We both got to try several things we'd never even seen on menus before (or really anywhere apart from Top Chef), and it was really a thrill to eat such a well-constructed meal. Certainly not an every-day type of meal and it's hard to imagine how it could be topped, but it was definitely a lovely experience. If you're ever in San Francisco and want to break the budget and eat the meal of a lifetime, La Folie is all you need.
21st October
2010
written by Steph

Chanel No. 28

Your next must-drink cocktail!

Apparently October is birthday month! Tony turns 28 this upcoming Saturday, my mom celebrates a birthday the week after, and we've already had four other friends celebrate another turn around the sun in the past three weeks, so things have certainly been busy about here. If you also find yourself attending or hosting birthday bashes, perhaps this recipe for a celebratory cocktail (which I mentioned in my last food post) is just the thing you need to truly toast getting older with style. Also, its red coloring make it kind of perfect for the impending Christmas season as well, so keep it in mind for any holiday gatherings you might have!

Ingredients (per drink)
  • 1 ounce vodka (we used Passionfruit vodka, but plain is fine!)
  • 1 ounce pineapple juice
  • 1 ounce Chambord
  • splash of Elderflower liqueur
  • Champagne (dry)
  • 1 or 2 raspberries
Method
  • Mix your vodka, pineapple juice and Chambord together. Add in a splash of elderflower, then top with chilled champagne. Pop the raspberries into the glass and enjoy!
The original drink recipe called this a "Chanel No. 6", but because we subbed in flavored vodka AND I had the genius idea of adding in some elderflower, I decided we could rename it "Chanel No. 28" in honor of the age our friend Abby was turning (and no, 28 is not old)! Such a delightful and delicious cocktail, I drank far more than I should have but can't find it in me to regret it. Another great thing about this drink is you can premix the first four ingredients in larger amounts (where it says "1 ounce" I swapped to "two cups"... We're boozy like that) and keep them in a pitcher so that during festivities you can pour about 3 ounces into a glass top with Champagne and raspberries and the party never stops. And trust me, with this cocktail, you and your friends will be raising the roof well into the night!
14th October
2010
written by Steph

Tiny morsels of food heaven!

Last night Tony and I went to a potluck dinner party held in celebration of our good friend Abby getting another year older. We were designated the hors d’oeuvres portion of the meal (as well as coming up with a suitably commemorative cocktail), and we knew that we needed to concoct something delightfully decadent for the occasion. We rarely host or attend dinner parties that are sufficiently fancy to call for hors d’oeuvres (I mean, just typing the word is trouble enough), but my mind immediately leaped to the idea of dates wrapped in bacon… which was fortuitous, because they happen to be one of Abby’s favorite indulgences! Now pretty much anything wrapped in bacon is going to make for a morsel of deliciousness, but you know Tony and I like to go big or go home, so we decided that we’d add a little something special to these little gustatory parcels to make them really memorable… Hence the addition of blue cheese and walnuts stuffed inside each date prior to being ensconced in bacon. This dish is so simple it almost seems like it doesn’t warrant typing out a recipe. But then again, it is so delicious and delectable, I figured it deserved a post. It only requires four ingredients but they combine to produce culinary magic that tastes far more complicated and satisfying than the effort involved to put these together. You’ll need:
  • Strips of bacon (preferably thick cut, and preferably hickory smoked!)
  • 1 box/container of pitted dates
  • blue cheese crumbles
  • shelled walnuts
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20th August
2010
written by Steph

Pineapple Chicken Curry

For those of us who love curries, the extensive range of premade jarred sauces and pastes makes cooking up flavorful, international dishes a breeze. When I first began cooking for myself in earnest about five years ago (note that this time coincides entirely with me moving to a different country from my mother, who I fully admit spoiled me with her cooking up until the age of 23…), I certainly relied extensively on these convenient sauces to provide my home cooked meals with authentic rich flavors that I craved but wasn’t confident or knowledgeable enough to achieve on my own. Lately, however, I’ve really been trying to up the ante when it comes to curries and the like, and have been branching out to include meals in my repartee that are done entirely from scratch. It may seem intimidating at first to mix and blend all the spices that Asian cooking is known for, but one of the benefits is that you get to tailor everything to your own palate. The more I experiment with blending spices from scratch, the more I find that it really is possible to achieve the flavors you know and love from your favorite Thai or Indian restaurant from the comfort (and relative frugality!) of your own home. The past week I was craving pineapple curry, and after searching high and low, I managed to find a recipe that did not simply call for one to use a store-bought paste or sauce as the curry base. Below is the version I slightly modified from that on Vazhayila. Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 1 lb chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 tbsp oil or ghee
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 tbsp of lemongrass paste (can be found alongside most refrigerated herbs in your produce section)
  • 2 green chilies, chopped (remove seeds if you like less spicy food)
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp dried coriander
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • salt
  • 5 tbsp fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1.5 cups of fresh cubed pineapple + 1/8 cup of juice
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16th August
2010
written by Steph

Linguine alle Vongole

I’ve said it before on this blog, but I’ll say it again: yes, you can eat pasta during the hot and humid days of summer! I realize the thought of a thick, heavy dish doesn’t necessarily appeal when the weather is breaking 100º, but there are ways to lighten up your pasta dishes to make them appropriate and appealing. The big thing is cutting back on the sauce – rather than something heavy or creamy, summer is the time when I turn to “barely there” sauces that are more like a drizzle and explosion of fresh ingredients. Your tastebuds and your A/C will thank you!

This simple dish of linguine and clams will whisk you away to Italy (where I’m sure they eat pasta all year round, regardless of soaring temperatures), all from the comfort of your own home. For inspiration, I combined two recipes, one from Rasa Malaysia, and one from Mario Batalli, courtesy of Epicurious. Some of you may be a bit leery of cooking shellfish at home, but I assure you nothing could be simpler than this dish. Best of all, this dish only has about 15 minutes of active cook time, so you won’t spend your time slaving in front of a hot stove. Elegant and simple, this is summer dining at its best! Ingredients (for two)
  • 1.5 lbs of fresh littleneck clams, cleaned and scrubbed (see below for info on cleaning clams)
  • 8 oz linguine… use the best you can afford
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp of crush red pepper flakes (add more if you like your dishes spicier)
  • ½ cup white wine (we used Riesling, which I’m sure is a sin, but it worked for us… use whatever you like to drink)
  • 6 tbsp of parsley, finely chopped (+ 2 extra tbsp for garnish)
  • juice from ½ a lemon
  • salt to taste
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9th August
2010
written by Steph

Dijon Chicken with Bacony Peas

After a rather rambunctious weekend (comprised of late-night games of Scattergories and Moods accompanied by several gin and tonics), I had no desire to carry out our weekly grocery shopping yesterday. Choosing the path of sloth and Excedrin, I instead came up with a Sunday night dinner composed of things that we already had on hand and decided to leave the shopping for another, less hung over day. You know how it goes. Rather than feasting on tater tots smothered in canned chili with a side of carrot sticks and peanut butter, I actually managed to put together a well-balanced meal simply… and so can you! The glory of this meal is that it calls on things that you probably already have in your fridge and pantry, so it’s perfect for those days when you don’t have the time or inclination to shop for something special. Also, it comes together in a jiff and is also delicious. It’s so good no one would realize it was a meal inspired by desperation! 😉 (more…)
28th July
2010
written by Steph

steak tacos with a beet & apple slaw and blue cheese

Growing up, I was not a picky eater (still am not), and certainly wasn’t one of those kids who hated vegetables. My brother went through a phase where he hated carrots and hated peppers, but veggies never bothered me. That said, one vegetable I didn’t get much exposure to when young was the ruby red beet. I suspect my father doesn’t care for them and that’s why they never graced the dinner table, but I decided recently I was at a point in my life where I wanted to explore the less conventional vegetables in order to spruce up meals. After whipping up a beet & pear salad last week (with some kohlrabi tossed in just for kicks), I realized that raw beets are: a) really delicious, and b) actually quite sweet! I’d had pickled/jarred/canned varieties of beets before, and they are nowhere in the same league as fresh, raw beets.

With that in mind, I decided to use up our last beet in another slaw fashion, and suddenly this dish popped into mind. What could be better than steak tacos with beets & apple and some blue cheese? It sounded like a divine combination to me… and it was! Plus, it was a breeze to whip up! These will definitely be on the roster again soon… (more…)
8th June
2010
written by Steph

Open face Shrimp Po' Boy

I am a big fan of sandwiches. On our honeymoon last year after eating out at a variety of fancy-schmancy restaurants for four days straight, my fondest wish was to just find somewhere where I could get a good sandwich to eat.  What can I say? Sometimes I'm a girl of simple tastes. I think I just love that there are so many different flavors and so many different combinations that can arise with the humble sandwich. You're never lost for choice when a sandwich is the meal in question. One sandwich I frequently have a hankering for (but find it rather hard to track down here in Nashville... could it be because we're a landlocked state?) is the Po' Boy. Now, I don't really care for much creole/cajun cooking - often it's too spicy for me - but I love me a good shrimp Po' Boy every now and then. I decided to give it a whirl in my own kitchen and see what I could come up with. The verdict? So long as I can get my hands on shrimp, I'll never have to do without Po' Boys in my life again! Ingredients
  • 1/2 pound of peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 2 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup of Panko bread crumbs
  • oil for frying (about 4 tbsp)
  • crusty bread
  • thinly sliced tomato
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