Thursday, October 27, 2011

Everything Bagels 101

Bakers around the world, take note.  An everything bagel has sesame, caraway and poppy seeds, onion, garlic, and salt.  A bagel with garlic, onion and poppy seeds is NOT an everything bagel.  You should be arrested for even attempting to label yours an everything bagel.  That's false advertising.  I can't tell you how often I am disappointed when I buy an everything bagel and everything that is SUPPOSED to be on it, is NOT.  If you're everything doesn't have everything, it's nothing.

This little concoction was inspired by my cousin Emily.  And Em, anytime you want to guest blog, feel free!  She was telling me about this bagel sandwich she used to make when she worked at a deli.  It was an EVERYTHING bagel (and she's blood, so I'm sure she knows a good everything bagel), topped with (if I remember correctly) vegetable cream cheese, cheese, cucumber, tomato and sprouts.

Well Em, after I talked to you, I couldn't stop thinking about this delicious sandwich.  I'm a total sucker for Everything bagels and veggie cream cheese. In fact, one of my most favorite sandwiches of all times is an Everything bagel with veggie cream cheese, roast beef and red onion (thanks to my sister for this delicious concoction).  It's to die for.  Anyways, back to Emily's sandwich.  I swear, I went and bought all the things I needed.  I picked out local, ripe tomatoes, the perfect cucumber and the freshest carton of sprouts I could get my hands on.  But I couldn't find a fucking everything bagel in the city of Memphis to save my life.  They were all imposters.  So a few days passed, while I racked my brain on where to get an everything bagel, short of ordering them online from NYC.  Then I remembered a place in Memphis that has some pretty darn good bagels.  And though they are in East Memphis, one must sacrifice for an everything bagel, so I headed to City East

But by the time I remembered where the good bagels in Memphis were, all of my hand selected produce had gone bad.  So I grabbed some Swiss cheese, a cucumber, and an avocado.  I passed on the tomato because I couldn't get a local one and I prayed my sprouts were still good.  They weren't.  And by the way, when sprouts go bad...they go REALLY bad.  They leave a brownish, gooey, watery mess in the bottom of their little carton that will make you want to quiver in disgust.

So instead, I went with what I had.  Toasted my bagel.  Topped both sides with veggie cream cheese.  Added Swiss cheese, sliced cucumber and sliced avocado salted and peppered it and ate that shit so fast I don't even remember what it tasted like.  But it was good.  It was EVERYTHING I needed at that moment. EVERYTHING!  Don't be an imposter.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Poach This

This is one of my most favorite breakfasts.  It's not normal that I make breakfast.  I usually wake up craving lunch, because I normally wake up at 11.  But the older I get, the less I sleep.  It's not cool at all.  So you youngsters better enjoy every Z you get. 

My step-mom inspired this dish.  She is another awesome cook in my life.  She makes the best, juiciest Thanksgiving turkey in the world.  And Chicken and Broccoli Casserole.  And Cream Puff Dessert.  She's an awesome cook.  It's therapeutic for her too.  I'm grateful to be surrounded by so many great cooks. 

Every time I'm in Pittsburgh we have poached eggs on toast and bacon.  I had no bacon and was going for a healthy start to my day, so I went with Arugula Salad with lemon vinaigrette and polenta with Parmesan.

Poached Eggs:
Poached eggs aren't hard.  I don't know why people get the impression that you have to have some kitchen gadget to poach an egg.  You don't.  All you need in a deep skillet, filled with water.  Put your skillet with water on the stove, bring it JUST to a boil (don't have a major boil going, the definition of poaching is to cook eggs or fish in hot liquid just below the boiling point) and then swirl your water around with a spoon.  As the water is swirling, break your egg into it.  The swirling will keep the egg from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Now, cook your egg until your yolk is how you like it.  The best way to know is to stick your finger in it.  Ok, be careful.  Don't stick your finger INTO it, but feel the top of your yolk.  I like mine just slightly runny.  So that the yolk oozes out onto my toast.  So when it feels like it's starting to get hard, but not totally hard, it's done to my liking.  Usually takes about 3 minutes.  Take the egg out with a slotted spoon to drain the water from it and then give it a little pat down with a paper towel to get any excess water off it.  Who wants a wet egg?  The thought makes me ill.   

I didn't have the patience to make my own (though it's not hard, just time consuming), so I bought some, cut it into slices and pan fried it in olive oil with some salt and pepper.  When it's warmed and slightly browned, grate some Parmesan cheese over it.

Get some delicious wheat bread.  Slice it, toast it, butter it GENEROUSLY.  Nothing better than butter puddles in your bread holes.  Come on, I had to make up for my lack of bacon.  And if you know me, you know I'm not a health freak.  Top it with your salt and peppered poached egg.  Add your polenta to your plate.  Plop some arugula onto your plate dressed with lemon vinaigrette and you're set. 

Thanks Sue for the inspiration.  I miss your cooking more than you know!   

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Unexpected Seaweed Salad Cleanse

I wish I could take credit for this salad...but I can't. Can't even remember the restaurant name. 

I'm not a cleanse kinda gal.  I hate depriving myself of food.  And if you've ever seen me starved, you know I can become an evil bitch.  I will bite your head off for making any stupid moves.  So steer clear of me when I'm hungry.  But the cleanse I'm about to speak of, was one I was not expecting.  So I dare you to read on...
The first time I tried seaweed salad, I didn't like it.  I wasn't a fan of the texture.  It reminded me of eating rubber bands.  Slightly slimy rubber bands.  Just weird.  So when I went to California, I decided to give it another try.  You know what?  I liked it this time.  I told you, keep trying things you think you hate, you might find that you eventually appreciate it for what it's worth.  I used to hate scallops, now I love them.  I used to love shrimp, now I can take or leave them.  Your taste buds change.  Don't be a pussy.  Try new things.

Anyways, back to this seaweed salad.  I normally go for the salad with the ginger dressing, because I really just want to lick all the ginger dressing off the lettuce.  But my dear old friend Cassie insisted that I revisit the seaweed salad, so in non-pussy-like fashion, I did.  And I am happy I did, because I ate the whole thing.  I could have ordered two in fact.  It was that good. 

But afterward there was a rumble.  A rumble deep within my soul that could have been mistaken for a large monster living inside of me.  Cassie lives about 1.5 hours from San Fran.  In a lovely little place called Monte Rio.  So about 5 minutes into our trip to her lovely cabin nestled in the beautiful redwoods, I asked Cassie, "Is your stomach doing what my stomach is doing??"  But no, she seemed fine.  Then came the cold sweats and the paleness.  I was going to die (die being a more pleasant term for crap my pants - I, right?).  "Um Cass, can we stop at a bathroom??"  That's when I looked over at her...and noticed her cold sweats and paleness.  We then started making plans on what we were going to do next.  "There's two gas stations at this next exit...You take the first one and then we'll go across the street and I'll go in the second one," Cassie plotted!

I think I saw about 4 bathrooms in that 1.5 hour time span.  Lovely bathrooms in California, by the way.  So if you're looking for a way to lose a quicky 5 pounds...I suggest seaweed salad.  And if you're on a hot date...I suggest avoiding the seaweed salad at all costs! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Roll 'Em Up, Then Eat 'Em Up

Anytime I'm feeling under the weather, I think comfort food.  My body feels like crap.  I wish I was dead.  And the only thing that will make me feel better is diving into a plate of some good old fashioned poor food.  Yesterday, my craving was Polish stuffed cabbage rolls, or Golabki (pronounced ga-WUMP-kee).  I can't remember the first time I ate stuffed cabbage rolls.  I want to say it was somewhere in Pittsburgh.  That place is crawling with Pollacks...and THANK GOD!!!  Ya'll know how to make a meal that makes a girl feel MUCH better.  Here's how I made mine:

What You Need:
1 head of green cabbage
1 1/2 cups of cooked rice (read the directions on the back of your rice to get 1 1/2 cups cooked.  I used Minute Rice because I was sick and had no time to make 25 minute rice...don't judge)
1 lb. of ground beef (use the fattening stuff....ok don't HAVE to, but I did...fat makes me feel better)
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 good tablespoon of sriracha (if you've never had it, you're missing out on life)
1 can of tomato sauce (I use Hunt''s salty and delicious.  I could drink it...I actually did)
Salt & Pepper
2 tablespoons of butter (You can substitute olive oil,  if you wanna be healthy, but I wanted BUTTAH) and when I'm sick...I get what I want.

Here's What To Do:
Cook your rice, season it with salt and pepper and add in some butter for a little love.  Cook your cabbage in boiling water for about 10 minutes, until the leaves easily pull off, you will have to cut off the core to do this, so keep that in mind.  Saute your onion and garlic in a tablespoon of butter until soft and season with salt and pepper.  Get out a large bowl.  Add in your ground beef, uncooked, to the bowl.  Add in your rice and onion and garlic.  Salt and pepper AGAIN.  Yes, I realize this seems like a lot of salt and peppering, but when you eat it, you will understand why you take this step with every layer you cook.  Add in the sriracha.  Now unpeel the first few layers of your cabbage off and throw it away.  These pieces are usually pretty dirty and disheveled.  Now take off the next 8 or 10 leaves.  There will be a thick vein in each piece.  Cut this out in a v-shape, because this will make them easier to roll up.

Next, stuff those babies full of your delicious meat mixture:

Roll up both sides, then roll it up like a baby burrito and place into a baking dish that has a few splashes of tomato sauce on the bottom so they don't stick.  Do all of your cabbage rolls like this and them pour the rest of your tomato sauce on top.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 for about 2 hours.

I didn't eat my cabbage rolls just yet.  I let them cool and them put them in the fridge, because food like this ALWAYS tastes better the next day.  But my roommate came home and couldn't keep her grubby hands outta them (I kid, I kid, she very nicely asked me if she could try them because she couldn't get over how good they smelled).  So I graciously gave her the first taste and she told me they were one of the best things she's eaten in a LONG, LONG time.  Made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  And they will do the same to you.  So make 'em, bitches!

If I offended any Pollacks in the writing of this blog, I sincerely apologize.  And will make it up to you by feeding you delicious stuffed cabbage rolls.