Category Archives: Recipes

Grill marks make food taste better

So. I’m not the only one jabbing at my eardrums with Q-Tips on a daily basis. This actually makes me feel much better about the habit. Thanks for all of your comments on yesterday’s little slice of self-indulgence!

Also: it would probably help if I got the date of my upcoming marathon right. CIM is on SUNDAY, DECEMBER 4. Not December 3. How awkward would that be if I showed up on Saturday?

Anyway. I am on my own for dinners this week, which usually means cooking and eating all of the things that my husband doesn’t like.

Like, um…tofu:

I know you are thinking: OMG TOFU! What a special, special thing to treat yourself to! Nah. It’s just that it had been sitting in the fridge for a while and needed to be used up.

And it was actually pretty delicious because of MAH GRILL PAN and those little stripes. Seriously. Why is that? Does food actually taste better when it has grill marks – even if they’re semi-fake? Or is is psychosomatic? (Or is it just me?)

Soba noodles, mini sweet peppers (Costco again!) and a delicious easy peanut sauce made this a quick dinner for one. I marinated the tofu slices in a bath of equal parts soy sauce and apple cider vinegar with a little brown sugar and sriracha sauce. Then I combined the leftover marinade with peanut butter to make the sauce.

As a certifiable peanut sauce fanatic, I offer you this tip: the creamy, processed stuff makes way better sauce than the natural stuff.

Much smoother and creamier. Probably the mono- and diglycerides. Mmmmm, delicious.

I popped open a bottle of Chard to enjoy with dinner:

Lately, I’ve been doing my grocery shopping on Sunday evenings. Because this is when the wine distributor reps are getting ready to shut down their sample table and are therefore likely to give extra generous pours. Which happens to make shopping in a gigantic supermarket on a Sunday night much more pleasurable.

A couple of weeks ago, they were pouring a bunch of Penfolds wines. The Australian brand is well-known for churning out decent affordable reds, but I liked their whites, too! So much so that I picked up a bottle of their 2009 Koonunga Hill Chardonnay.

Very light and crisp. No butter in here and just a hint of oak. Very fruit-forward with peaches and apricots and a little touch of both citrus and something a little earthier, like a sweet ripe fig. Definitely an enjoyable bottle, and one I’d happily serve to guests!

Bottom line: Buy it! (Purchased at Harris-Teeter, $10).

Off to do some productive stuff with the rest of my Wednesday. See ya later!

Pumpkin Mac-n-Cheesecakes

Let me say one thing here, right off the bat.

You’re not going to find me humping any pumpkins this autumn season.

Pumpkins.  So…everywhere.

Personally, I find pumpkin pie to be vastly overrated. Straight out of the can, the stuff reminds me of orangey catfood.  I don’t drink lattes much less $6 “pumpkin-spiced” ones (give it to me strong and black).  And my beer?  Leave my beer alone. For the love of hops, people, beer is not supposed to come in a cinnamon-sugar-rimmed glass.

But…occasionally, it’s kinda fun to cook with.

I had mac and cheese on the brain when I picked up a can of the gloopy orange stuff at the store this afternoon.

It’s really pretty unbelievable how well creamy orange squash mimics cheese, tricking you in to thinking you’re eating something loaded with the stuff, when really, it’s mostly vegetable matter.

Because I was a little short on time tonight, I cooked the stuff up in a muffin pan instead of a casserole dish.

Recipe: Pumpkin Mac-n-Cheesecakes

OMG, this was good.  And healthy…and cute.  And fast!  This went from zero to belly in about 35 minutes.  Can’t beat that!

I figured as long as I was jumping on the bandwagon, I may as well go all out…

A co-worker brought me a bottle of this Uinta Harvest Punk’n Ale.  Now, I’ll admit that I haven’t tasted a ton of pumpkin ales.  See: comments above.  All too often, these pumpkin brews are just gimmicky.  As in: they taste like regular beers in which someone just dumped a bunch of pie spice, making them smell like a Yankee candle and taste like a watered-down dessert.

This beer definitely had some of the pie-spice shtick going on, but I was pleasantly surprised that it was very mild and easy to drink.  It didn’t hit me over the nose, and in my mouth, it tasted like…well, like a slightly spiced-up light beer.  That’s not entirely a bad thing.  At 4% ABV, this Punk’n is a relative lightweight and definitely a beer you could drink in multiples.

Bottom line: I suspect true pumpkinhumpers will be disappointed by the subtlety of this beer.  But I think that’s why I kind of liked it.

Alright, enough freakin’ pumpkin for one evening.

Thanks, Olaf.

Good night!

The Dinner Dance: A Drama In Four Acts

To say that our cat, Parker, is food driven is an understatement – a trait clearly evidenced by his scale-tipping weight and swaying belly.

His vigil typically begins around 4 PM and lasts until the very second that slop of canned cat food finally lands in front of him, roughly five hours later. Every afternoon is like Christmas Eve for him, as he awaits the singlemost important event of his day: dinner.

To the untrained ear, it may just sound like a bunch of nonstop noise, a chorus of innocent kitten mews and threatening guttaral grunts all jumbled up together.

But Parker’s Dinner Dance, as well call it, has four distinct stages.

Stage One: Optimism.

We know that dinner is coming.  We just don’t know when.  Therefore, the best thing to do is just to sit in front of our dish and inquire constantly about its status.  

Stage Two: Doubt.

Something must be wrong.  Clearly there has been a mistake of some sort.  Is dinner, in fact, coming?  Let’s up the volume of the whining and see if that fixes things.

Stage Three: Despair.

LOOK AT THIS. SKIN AND BONES. We might die of hunger right here on this floor, right in front of this empty food dish while this STUPID HUMAN passes by the food cupboard like a MILLION TIMES.  This is intentional abuse. Someone call the ASPCA.

Stage Four: Revenge.

You’ll pay for your malice, human.

Of course, the moment Lord Fatass gets his food, everything is forgotten.  But it’s quite a show he puts on.  Oscar-worthy, really.

I often complain about his Dinner Dance because he is constantly underfoot when I’m trying to do chores and make dinner and stuff.  But the other day, I noticed it was remarkably quiet in the kitchen as night fell.  Something was wrong.

The fat cat was sleeping quietly on the sofa.  At 8 PM.  Something was very wrong.

He picked at his dinner that night.  However, it was the straining to pee the next morning that prompted a drop-everything trip to the vet.  As it turned out, our poor Parker had a raging bladder infection as well as some crystals in his urine. He was basically pissing out tiny shards of glass, which I’m sure was incredibly painful for him.  But fortunately, he didn’t have a blockage.  In male cats, a blocked urinary tract can become deadly in a matter of hours.

Why am I sharing this?  I don’t really know…other than as a quasi-PSA, I guess. Until our kitty started having these issues, I didn’t realize how potentially serious peeing problems are in cats, especially the boys.  A male cat who is straining to urinate or urinating very frequently should be taken to the vet (the emergency vet, if necessary) immediately.

So dealing with that has been a major consumer of my time over the last few days.  When cats have a urinary infection or another issue that makes doing their business painful, they usually start going outside of their litter box, as they associate the box with the pain.  (And as gross as this sounds, it’s actually kind of a blessing, because it gets your attention and alerts you to the fact that something is wrong.)

Anyway.  I need to make a Costco run to replenish my supply of Nature’s Miracle and paper towels, but I’m happy to say that our big guy appears to be on the mend.

I had the day off of work on Friday, and thought about cooking a fancy dinner. But with all that had been going on, it was just easier to throw together some [only slightly exotic] sandwiches.

I love a good Banh Mi!  This standard Vietnamese sandwich, consisting (traditionally) of pate and pickled vegetables on a fresh baguette, seems to have become standard fusiony food-truck fare in the last few years.  But I don’t care.  The combination of warm meat + cool tangy veggies + fresh herbs all wrapped up in crusty bread is pretty unbeatable.

I guess this is my contribution to the trend: Dirty South Banh Mi.

BBQ pork (Eastern Carolina style with lots of vinegar!) gets smothered in veggies soaked in apple cider vinegar and topped with crispy shallots (onions would work too).  Jalapenos give it a little kick. Sweet corn would be awesome on there, too.

And so my tired butt, weary from multiple trips to the vet, spent the night planted on the couch, scarfing this sandwich down.  And sipping a bottle of Chardonnay:

Nestled several thousand feet above sea level, Chile’s sleepy Aconcagua Valley is one of the highest-elevation wine regions in the world.  It’s not particularly well-known, and what press it does get seems to be for churning out reliable yet inexpensive reds, mostly Cabernet Sauvignon.

So this In Situ 2010 Chardonnay was kind of a surprise.   Perhaps reflecting the region in which its grapes were grown, this was a simple but very enjoyable wine.  Light notes of lemon and a little butter.  A touch of acid, but in pleasant way.  Perfectly drinkable and a great value wine!

Bottom line: Get it!  (Purchased at Fresh Market, $12.)

Off to bed I go.  It’s a wild Saturday night around here, with an early long run on tap tomorrow morning.  Good night!

Fried rice cakes for the save

My weekend was kind of shit.

And I know I haven’t blogged since last Thursday.  But you didn’t miss much. Because if I had, it would have just been like “Wow, I feel like boiled garbage. Oh hey, I missed my long run.  I need more Chicken McNuggets, stat.”

It all started when I engaged in some serious python eating on Friday afternoon and inhaled a turkey sub the size of my femur.  (Like, seriously…this sandwich was probably meant to feed two or three people.)  But I was famished.

I promptly got a stomachache, of course.  Laying on the bed and moaning to the cat did not help. Hauling my bloated belly out for a slow run did not help. Writhing around on a mat in a poor imitation of yoga did not help.

Naturally, I turned to a bottle of red wine to see if that might help.

Spoiler: it didn’t.  And there went my Saturday, too.

As I pulled my eye-mask snugly over my eyes and buried my pounding, dehydrated head in my pillow, blocking out the bright Saturday morning sunlight in which I should have been out doing a long run, I thought about how much I hate it when the only thing standing in my way is…me.

Oh well.  Lesson learned.  For a while, anyway.

Sunday brought a slight improvement in my condition.  I set out on a halfhearted mission to salvage my long run,  but I started far too late in the morning and ended up cutting it short at seven miles and change.  (Dear everyone who is “totally loving the fall weather!”…I hate you.  It is still hot and humid as balls here.)

Anyway.  That afternoon, I tried to salvage what was left of the weekend by playing in the kitchen with some sticky rice and a pot of hot oil.

Rice cakes.  These delightful little concoctions – hot and crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside – are what I think of when I think of rice cakes.  Not those boring cylinder bags of pseudo-snack food that were totally rad back in the 90s.

Crispy rice cakes topped with spicy tuna is one of my favorite things to order when I go out for sushi.  (Which, sadly, due to geography and budgetary limitations, happens rather infrequently these days.)  I didn’t happen to have any sashimi-grade tuna on hand (#whitegirlproblems) but I did have shrimp.

I kinda made this up as I went along, and came out really well!  I mean…it’s not exactly rocket science.  You mush together some rice.  You fry it.  You top it with something delicious smothered in mayo and sriracha sauce.  The only tricky part was making sure the rice was packed really, really tightly…because any loose rice chunks WILL break free in the frying oil and make a smoky mess of your kitchen.

Recipe: Spicy Shrimp on Crispy Rice Cakes

Good enough to salvage a crappy weekend?  Yep.

Good enough to salvage my weekly mileage?  Uhh….

Mehhh.  But it could be worse.  I still ran almost 40 miles and got a couple of decent hard workouts in. And this week is a new week.

Just keep me away from the footlong subs and the cheap red wine.

Fig off

I’ve moved around a lot as an adult.  California, New England, New York, the South.  But food-wise, a little piece of my palate will always belong to the five years I spent in Cleveland, Ohio, and a little restaurant called The Flying Fig.

Barely 24 years old, I was already weary of the trials of living in a big city when I moved from Los Angeles to Cleveland.  They were, unequivocally, white-girl problems, and specifically the problems of a white girl who spends way too much money on food and drink and silly nightlife shenanigans.

“Oh, L.A. is awesome, but it’s so hard to get reservations anywhere,” I would complain while waiting in line behind one velvet rope or another.

My 23-year-old self is kind of embarrassing, actually.

Anyway.  I moved to Cleveland along with the (future) hubs and we found ourselves perched atop a seemingly untapped foodie pyramid.  The hottest restaurants? You could actually get reservations at them.  And a dinner there wouldn’t empty your bank account.  No, you probably weren’t going to dine alongside Elizabeth Berkley*, but there was indeed excellent food to be had in Ohio.

Our first major restaurant discovery was The Flying Fig.

Their braised short rib is still one of my top-five favorite meals.  Ever.  I’m convinced that this dish could go up against any restaurant in New York or L.A. and kick ass.

And their house-made Fig Ice Cream with Molten Chocolate Cake is still an often-discussed dessert in our household.

This weekend, with a storm raging outside and a counter full of ripe, in-season figs, I tried to replicate it.

Molten Chocolate Cake is actually really easy: I used this recipe from Food & Wine.

A frozen fig dessert is slightly more complicated, but I found a recipe that sounded like a winner at My Best Day Ever.  I converted it and halved it, so I’m going to repeat my version here:

Burnt Fig Semi-Freddo

Serves 4-6

  • One green-basket-full of ripe figs – about 8-10 – finely chopped
  • 1/3 C brown sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/4 C superfine (castor) sugar
  • 1/2 C cream, whipped to stiff peaks
  • 1.5 TBSP cream, unwhipped
  • 1 TSP fresh squeezed lemon juice

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high.  Add figs and cook until sticky residue steaks across pan, about 2 minutes.  Add brown sugar and reduce heat to medium low.  Cook, stirring every couple of minutes, until jam-like, about 20 minutes.  Stir in lemon juice and set pan aside to cool.  Once slightly cooled, stir in 1.5 TBSP of unwhipped cream.  Cool mixture to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, whip egg yolks with a hand mixer until thick and pale yellow.  Add superfine sugar a little at a time, while continuing to whip the mixture.

Carefully fold whipped cream in to egg mixture, taking care not to lose volume.  Fold in fig mixture.  Pour into a freezer-safe container and freeze for at least 12 hours before serving.

The whole thing together – warm molten cake with chilled fig semi-freddo – was absolutely awesome.  As good as the Flying Fig verion?  Well…almost.

Some running stats to end the week:

I guess I did okay with everything this week except strength training….um, story of my (running) life.  HEAT studios, I will see you this week!

*Jesse Spano favored my neighborhood sushi joint in Westwood.  Her signed Showgirls poster was on the wall and she was always there when we went there.  Probably the closest brush with fame I’ll ever have….

A short and fast one

I never learn.  Not when it comes to pacing myself.  And I’m not sure that there’s much more to say about this one.  But as usual, I’ll try.

The assignment: 3 X 1000M at current 5K pace.

The scene: a soft, but fairly straight and flat, stretch of woodchip trail by a shady lake

The results: Umm….

That…is not 5K pace.  (I wish it were!)

So, going in to the workout, I did some head-math (accuracy rate: 42%) and figured that if my current 5K pace were somewhere in the 6:50-7:00/mile range, I should be shooting for 4:15 or so on this workout.

Then I got to the workout and there was a guy there who was a nineteen-something 5K runner and I decided to just try to stick with him.  (Dumb move…)

At the end of the first repeat, I felt awesome!  I even asked the coach: are you sure that was a thousand meters? Yep, measured it multiple times, he said.

Feeling smug about my ability to prance around at sub-6-minute pace and keep right on this faster dude’s heels, I started the second repeat with a cocky grin on my face.  It only took about 200M to wipe it right the hell off.

That is why you don’t start out too fast. Duh.  All of a sudden it felt like I was running through glue.  I huffed and puffed and tried to whine, but there was no one to whine to because I’d already been left in the dust.  Somehow, I finished the next two repeats and although it felt like I was running S-L-O-W, I ended the workout pretty respectably (and well under my goal mark, anyway).

What does any of this mean?  I have no idea.  I kind of wonder if I could have held consistently around 4:00 if I hadn’t gone out too fast.  And even then…it’s a short workout.  Five of those suckers would perhaps be more telling. But maybe I should get after a 5K or two in the next few weeks and see where things stand.  And I’ll try to remember not to go out too fast.  *snort*  Yeah, right…

Anyway.

After I got home from my workout, I washed the dirt off my ankles and ate a short-and-fast dinner inspired by a recipe from this awesome cookbook that my husband got me for my birthday:

Cheesy title, but I’ve been drooling over these simple seasonal recipes since I first opened the book a couple of weeks ago.  (Andrea Reusing is the chef-owner of award-winning restaurant Lantern in Chapel Hill.)

In the “summer” section, the first recipe I flagged was a spicy melon salad. I switched it up just a little bit, but it was delicious!

If this salad doesn’t convince you that fish sauce is indeed underrated, I don’t know what will.

Spicy Cantaloupe Salad [Adapted from Cooking In The Moment by Andrea Reusing]

Serves 4 as an appetizer or side

  • 1 ripe cantaloupe, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • Half of one small red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 C fresh lime juice (two limes)
  • 2 TBSP fish sauce
  • 1 TBSP honey
  • 1 TSP Sriracha sauce (or more/less to taste)
  • Splash of sweetened rice vinegar
  • Handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • Handful of roasted salted peanuts, chopped

Combine cantaloupe and onion in a large bowl.  Whisk together lime juice, fish sauce, honey, Sriracha and vinegar.  Pour over melon and onion and toss to coat.  Top with mint and peanuts.  Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.  Serve chilled, tossing again just before serving.

We enjoyed it with some grilled flank steak (marinated in the morning) and corn on the cob for a quick and easy dinner:

Summer all the way.

Now will everyone please stop talking about pumpkin-flavored crap already? I’m just as excited for autumn as the next girl (COOLER RUNNING WEATHER) but it’s still August!

Peach Pound Cake with Candied Basil

Well, we made it home last night.  It was after 3 AM when our plane’s wheels touched the runway at RDU and nearly an hour after that when my head finally touched my pillow.

Long day.

No amount of coffee was gonna make getting out of bed this morning a pleasant task, but I did smile when I realized I had goodies in the mail!

Cookies!  Thank you, Blogger Bake Swap, for a fabulous breakfast this morning! These biscuit-y, buttery cookies were perfect with my morning coffee.   Hey Halley, can I have the recipe? :)

I hope she is enjoying the peachy pound cake I sent as much as I’m enjoying her cookies!

I made this Georgia Peach Pound Cake from A Well-Seasoned Life – except with North Carolina peaches, of course.  I baked it in a loaf pan for ease of shipping and topped it with some candied basil leaves.

I had never candied a basil leaf (or any kind of leaf) before and it was kind of fun.  You just dredge ‘em in whipped egg whites, dunk them in superfine sugar, and then lay they out to dry for a couple of hours.

Um…with all of these baked goods floating around here, I should probably be running a little more.

Honestly, I’m feeling a little unfocused at the moment when it comes to my workouts.  I have a mile race in a month that I haven’t really trained for, and aside from the OMG FUNSIES NOT REALLY RACING marathon in November, the calendar is pretty blank.

I’d assumed I’d focus on 5K-type stuff this fall, but I feel like I’m already behind the ball on that one.

I’d assumed that doing these long runs with the hubs to help get him through his first-ever marathon training cycle wouldn’t tire me out on account of the easier pace, but I’m finding that just because I’m not running as fast doesn’t mean I won’t be stiff and sore.  If anything, I’m strangely sore in different places.  I think running slower causes me to change my form.

I’d assumed that I’d feel refreshed and renewed and excited about running hard again after a summer of lazy base-building, but I don’t feel that way at all.

Sigh.

Goal for next week: miles run > cookies eaten.

Ka-PAO de Queijo

I have this fantasy in which I open the Ultimate Street Food Restaurant. Basically, I would import the best of ethnic cart food from every corner of the world, so diners could enjoy a piping plate of Pad Thai alongside spicy kebabs and hummus with some empanadas for dessert. It would be awesome.

(And super cheap.  Of course, it would be BYO!)

Unfortunately, the likelihood of me opening a such a restaurant is um…low.  I have neither the funds nor the talent nor the temperament for that sort of endeavor.

But I’ll keep expanding my street-food-making skillz, just in case!

Pão de Queijo.  Cheesy bread balls of Brazilian/Portuguese origin.  Addictive as hell.  And something I’ve been meaning to learn how to make for, like, ages.

As it turns out, it’s pretty straightforward.  Make a simple, sticky dough of hot water, milk, oil, tapioca starch, salt, egg and Parmesan cheese.  Grease up your hands. Form into balls. Plop onto a baking sheet (or into a mini muffin tin).

Bake for 20 minutes, or until they start to look golden brown and your kitchen smells so cheesy and delicious that you can’t stand it any more and you must pop one out of the oven to sample.  (Quality control…)

I guess it’s the tapioca starch (a.k.a. manoic or cassava) that gives these their slightly sour flavor and fluffy-yet-chewy texture.  Kinda like freshly baked sourdough, but laced with cheese.  (Bonus…it also makes them gluten-free, if you care about that sort of thing.)

Delicious when served with a bowl of juicy diced tomato and herbs for dipping.

Pão de Queijo: [Adapted, mostly for measurements/proportions, from this Sonia Portuguese recipe, found via the kitchn]

Makes 24 little Pãos.  (That’s probably not grammatically correct Portuguese…)

  • 1/3 C water
  • 1/2 C whole milk
  • 2 T Canola Oil + 1 T for lubing hands while rolling balls (TWSS)
  • 1/4 TSP salt
  • 1 1/4 C (approx 170g) tapioca starch
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 C grated Parmesan cheese

Whisk together the water, milk, 2T oil and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.  Just as it starts to foam and rise, remove it and transfer it to a bowl.  Add tapioca starch and stir with a wooden spoon until fully combined. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.

Heat oven to 325*.

Add egg and work dough with hands or spoon until smooth and sticky.  Add cheese and knead with hands for a few minutes until consistency is uniform. Dough will be very sticky!

Use remaining oil to lube hands and roll dough in to ping-pong-sized balls.  (A couple of intermediate hand-washes may be necessary…I did two complete rinses while making this batch!)  Place balls on a greased baking sheet.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until puffy and golden brown.

Enjoy with a nice bright wine, like this 2008 Valdemar Tempranillo from Rioja:

With lots of ripe blackberries, juicy cherries, and just a hint of smoke/muskiness, this medium-bodied red was a lovely break from the typical parade of summer whites.  Initially a little boozy/hot, this wine mellowed out after being open for about 30 minutes and matched very will with my dinner of, um…cheese bread.

And some shrimp and salad.

But mostly pão de queijo.

Because you’ve gotta eat them when they’re hot and fresh outta the oven, or they’re not as good!

Anyway.

Bottom line: A nice enough little red, especially for summer drinking. Fun, bright flavors.  (Purchased at Whole Foods, $12)

And with that little culinary success under my belt, I think I’m done cooking for the week.  Which is one of the many reasons I’ll never open a restaurant.  Lazy.

Do you have a favorite ethnic street food?

The ghost of eggplant past

Are you ever haunted by a particular food?  And I don’t mean in an up-all-night-on-the-toilet way.  I mean: in a good way.  Like, you ate something so amazing that you just can’t seem to get it out of your head.

Me? I am usually haunted by things like crispy pork belly and Pad Thai.  But ever since our trip to Asheville a couple of weeks ago and that amazing dinner at Curate, I’ve totally been haunted by eggplant.

I don’t think I’ve ever been haunted by a vegetable before.

That honey eggplant at Cutate was that good, I guess.

I knew that I wouldn’t be able to re-create it, but of course I was going to try.  I started off by decking out my little aubergine out in peppy stripes.  Stripes are totally in this season!  Or so they tell me.  (They being the dressing room ladies at Target, where I have flirted with many a stripy frock this summer.)

In addition to making a cute presentation, this makes the skin easier to chew through, and allows the slices of eggplant to expand/contract as they cook, and thus hang together a little better.  Or so it seems to me, anyway.

Next: half-inch-thick slices and a whole lotta salt.

I let them hang out in their salt for half an hour – at the end of which time, that paper towel was drenched, leaving little eggplant sponges that would hopefully suck up the mixture of honey, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and fresh rosemary I’d whisked together.

After being dunked in the marinade, they only needed a few minutes on a hot grill.  (And a little more rosemary and salt, of course!)

Yum!  I enjoyed them with salad, fresh peach slices and a little prosciutto + bread for a light tapas-style dinner:

However, once my food coma wears off, I’m sure the eggplant ghost will haunt me again.  This was very good, but it was a shadow of its restaurant-crafted inspiration.  Something about how unbelievably piping-hot the eggplant at Curate was served…

Perhaps I need to invest in a blowtorch?

(Pretty sure that is not allowed per the terms of our apartment lease.)

Bummer.

Anyway.  I poured a glass of chilly SB to sip on while dinner grilled:

This 2010 Matua Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough was just okay.  Lots of apple and grapefruit, but it was almost a little too sweet: none of the delicious green pepper I’ve started to expect from SB.  And there was something…gravelly about it?  Like, when it hasn’t rained in a while and a car pulls out of an unpaved driveway and makes a big cloud of dust?  That smell?  Is kind of how this wine tastes. That rock/mineral flavor isn’t a bad thing, actually, but it was just a little unexpected and didn’t really work with the other flavors.

Bottom line?  Eh, it wasn’t horrible but I wouldn’t buy it again.  (Purchased at Fresh Market, $12.)

Off to work my noodle-y arms (holy HEAT workout tricep action tonight) on the remote control for a couple of hours.  Good night!

Slump chump

Don’t you hate it when people are all like:

“OMG, I’m such an amazing cook, but I suck at baking because it’s too hard to measure things! My genius must not be hampered by recipes that require exactly two teaspoons of vanilla!  I’m just too zany and impulsive in the kitchen to tolerate the dull exactness of baking!”

Me too.  But: I’ll admit that I’ve uttered words like these on more than one occasion.  My eyes glaze over when I read things in recipes like: “Four-fifths of a cup of enriched but NOT bleached cake flour, sifted three times and then leveled with a knife.”

Uh, yeah…I think I’ll just go buy a cupcake or whatever.

So as cliche as it is, I’ll own the fact that baked goods with loosey-goosey instructions very much appeal to me.  Because measuring is, in fact, kinda hard.

This is why I love a good slump.

A slump is a a bunch of fruit topped with sugary biscuit dough, baked until the fruit is delicious and mushy and the topping is crumbly and brown. The bready part doesn’t have to be perfect because it’s gonna get all mixed up with the fruit and juices anyway.  Fast and loose.  My kind of baked good.

You could even make this with sugared-up Jiffy biscuits.  Or leftover KFC biscuits.  (Which are, hands down, the best thing about KFC.)  Making the whole thing from scratch us super easy, though.  It only took me about ten minutes to prep this summery dessert!

Recipe: Peach Raspberry Slump [via Martha Stewart]

Good carb loading for a pre-breakfast speed workout tomorrow?  Let’s hope so! Apparently the temps are gonna be in the 60s in the morning (OMG).  I plan to take full advantage!