Friday, April 20, 2012

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Did you know that an overcooked single-serving bag of microwave popcorn can generate enough smoke to make you cough?  Apparently, the part in the directions where they tell you to stand in the kitchen and listen for the popping to stop isn't just a suggestion.  They really mean it.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Meatless Mondays, Old Camp Songs, and a Recipe

Lots of people are going meatless on Mondays.  Gentle Readers, it's a thing.  Not only is it trendy, it's good for your health and the health of the planet.  Pasta with pesto is an easy and delicious way to get a meatless dinner on the table.  In the time it takes you to heat the water and boil the pasta, you can make the pesto and throw a salad together.  It's also great as a sandwich spread.

I came up with this pesto variation the way I create a lot of my recipes: with what was on hand.  It got rave reviews because the arugula gives it a nice peppery bite, but feel free to tweak it based on what's in your fridge.

By the way... do kids sing the "Comet, it makes your teeth turn green" song anymore?  I don't even know.

Basil Pesto Variation
makes 2 cups

2 cloves garlic, peeled and with the root end removed
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1 cup packed baby arugula leaves
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated asiago cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1. Place garlic and pine nuts in food processor and process until finely chopped.  Add basil and arugula leaves and process.  Add asiago cheese and process until everything is combined and finely chopped.  With the motor running, add olive oil in a stream to create a paste.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Crabby (But with Recipes!)

We don't indulge in political rants here at Foodtoons, preferring instead to uplift, nourish, and entertain.  But lately I feel as though if I hear one more politician say one more stupid and completely illogical thing, my head will explode.

Gentle Readers, it's very difficult to draw pictures of happy dancing food when you're worring about your head exploding at any moment.  But I figured if I'm feeling crabby, the least I could do is give you some links to delicious-looking crab recipes.

First up,  a recipe for Crab Mac & Cheese from Closet Cooking.  I found this blog awhile back and his recipes are amazing.  I'm guessing this dude has a very active social life.

Emeril Lagasse will always have a spot in my heart because he's French and Portuguese (as am I, with a couple other things thrown in), he's from Fall River, MA (as is part of my family) and he "drahps his ahs" like a good New Englander should.  His recipe for Crabmeat Crusted Diver Scallops with a warm Chorizo Potato Salad sounds fancy but looks dead easy to make.

For my friends who live far from an ocean and for whom crabmeat is a major investment, here is a recipe from Emily over at Tomato Kumato for Spaghetti with Crab that uses canned crabmeat.  Make it and pretend you're at a seaside resort.

I haven't forgotten to help keep the Deadliest Catch guys in business.  I'll admit that out of a lot of options, I chose Robert Irvine's Alaskan King Crab Tempura recipe because Chef Irvine is seriously sexy.

And finally, these Crab Cakes with Lemon Aioli look delicious and easy.  Lolly's Sweet and Savory Treats is a blog I hadn't seen before but I am definitely following despite the fact that I now have "Lolly, lolly, lolly, get your adverbs here" stuck in my head.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Sundae

Nothing says Happy Easter like a little ice cream, hot fudge, walnuts, and whipped cream, amirite?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Discovery: Oat Groats (with recipe!)

Where I live, there are is a choice between precisely two grocery store chains: Shaws and Stop & Shop.  Price wars?  We've nevah heard of 'em.  I've been annoyed lately because steel cut oats are $4.99 for a 24 oz. can.  I'd always thought cooked cereals were more economical than ready-to-eat varieties because you pay more for convenience, chemicals, and sugar; however, my research indicates that Quaker Steel Cut Oats are the same price as General Mills Cocoa Puffs, more expensive than Quaker Granola, and way more expensive that Post Grape Nuts, Kelloggs Mini Wheats, and Quaker Cap'n Crunch.

I was, therefore, motivated to try something new when I was in the health food store and saw oat groats in the bulk aisle for $1.79 a pound.  Oat groats are the grain after it's been de-hulled and stabilized with heat, but before it's cut or rolled into oatmeal.  I was told they could be cooked like  oatmeal, so I bought some and gave it a whirl.  Gentle Readers, oat groats make delicious oatmeal.  It comes out a bit creamier than steel cut oatmeal and it's a little less chewy.  Plus, you have control over the sugar content.  You can't say that about Cap'n Crunch.

I posted a recipe for crockpot oatmeal before, but here is a variation without apples.  It's good for when you are putting it together at bedtime and you realize you don't have apples.  It's also good if you're like me and fruit every morning can be hard on your blood sugar.

Crockpot Oatmeal (Variation 2)

1 1/3 cups steel cut oatmeal or oat groats
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2-3 tbsp. brown sugar (or to taste)
pinch of salt
2 cups water
2 cups milk
1 1/2 tbsp. butter
Your choice of toppings
1. Coat the inside of 3-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Place oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in slow cooker.
2. Bring milk, water, and butter to a boil in a saucepan over medium high heat. (Watch this like a hawk. When you see bubbles forming along the edges, yank it off the burner.)
3. Pour milk mixture into slow cooker. Stir everything together. Cover and cook on LOW 7 hours or until oats are tender. (A couple of extra hours does not hurt it at all.)
4. Ladle oatmeal into bowls.  It can be topped with walnuts, raisins, craisins, pecans... whatever you like.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Tears of (Onion) Joy -- with Recipe!

It's almost Vidalia onion season, and that makes me think of... well, a lot of things, actually, but mostly about onion soup.  In Rhode Island in April, Gentle Readers, it is still chilly enough to enjoy a big bowl of hot soup for dinner
There's no cheating on the caramelization process using brown sugar in this recipe. It takes time -- from half an hour to an hour -- but it's worth it.  The onions don't require constant attention, but you should stir occasionally.  To make things easier, you can caramelize the onions ahead of time and then continue with the soup later in the day.

I always slice the onions by hand even though I know my eyes will burn like crazy and stream with tears.  You can feel free to use a food processor if you'd like to avoid all that.  As for me, I really like the finished product when I slice the onions by hand and somehow, from one time to the next I always remember how delicious the soup was and I forget the pain.

Onion Soup
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
5 large onions, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp. flour
8 cups beef stock
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
6-8 thick slices french bread, toasted
2 cups grated Swiss cheese (more or less to taste)

1. Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add sliced onions and reduce heat to medium-low.  Cover (this helps with the burning-eyes aspect and also speeds things up a bit.  Just don't get all out-of-sight-out-of-mind about it) and cook onions, stirring occasionally, until well caramelized, half an hour to an hour.  While you wait, you can toast the bread and grate the cheese.  Maybe make a nice salad.

2. Sprinkle flour over onions; cook, stirring constantly, two minutes.

3. Add stock, salt and pepper.  Crush the thyme between your fingers and add.  Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

4.  Preheat broiler.  Ladle soup into heatproof bowls.  Place one slice bread on top of soup, sprinkle with grated cheese.  Place bowls on a rimmed baking sheet and slide them under the broiler.  Broil until cheese is bubbling and golden brown.