Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rosemary rubbed pork chops

Pillaged the herb garden at my parent's townhouse balcony for a quick and easy rub for searing pork chops.

The rub contained chopped rosemary, brown sugar, salt, black pepper, and a tiny bit of cumin. Brined chops seared for 5 minutes per side, quick pan sauce with some wine for deglazing and flour for thickening. Yum!

Paired along with some roasted broccoli and brussel sprouts.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Polenta and Sausage

Polenta is one of those rare dishes that I'm glad Mark Bittman decided to dumb down. His version of polenta is pretty classic, just with less stirring of the pot.

I've been making lazy man's polenta for a while. A good way to be incredibly lazy about it is to use the oven. Simmer the polenta first on the stove for about 10 minutes until a thin porridge emerges. Then cover and throw it into 350 degrees. It's very hard to overcook polenta, but very easy to undercook it. Give it at least 20 minutes.

One key note is to add the fats LAST. You kind of want the cheese and butter to coat the kernels. Use room temperature butter to bring the whole mixture to a perfect texture and temperature.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Roasted potatoes

Contrary to popular thought, waxy red potatoes roast very well. Forget those puffy starchy russets or those expensive fingerlings.

Wedges of new potatoes tossed in a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, rosemary and smashed garlic, salt and pepper (let the mixture stew for a while so the oil gets infused with the herbs).

450 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, flip the wedges twice.

Learned this vibration from the old master (my dad).

The Koreans got it right

Add a billion things to a plate of rice and it tastes GOOD. Hot, cold, sweet, salty, spicy, multiple sauces. It might not be actually Korean, but it works for me.

Reinventing pasta sauce

What bachelor doesn't rely on a hot bowl of pasta as a quick weeknight meal?

Boil pasta, drain the pot, add the sauce to the pot, now you have a dinner that covers at least one food group.

But it gets boring sometimes. So you add protein, like ground beef, or meatballs. But then that gets boring.

This doesn't taste boring:

Jarred pasta sauce
Crushed red pepper
Roughly chopped olives
White beans

Add it to:

Plain pasta

Texture, color, and now we're upwards of TWO food groups!

Quinoa salad

Uncovered a half used box of quinoa while looking for something to eat. Turns out I had all the right ingredients for greek quinoa salad!

Quinoa seems like it would be a hassle to cook, but in my experience you just need a touch less water than the recommended amount and it comes out perfectly.

This salad is really just quinoa plus a mix of "Greek", or generic mediterranian, ingredients:
  • Olives
  • Red onion
  • Feta
  • Sundried tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Red Wine vinegar
I added cashews and golden raisins to make a greek/middle eastern hybrid. The presentation could really use some green, so definitely use parsley if you've got it (none of that italian flat-leaf stuff...go with the curly kind).

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Veggie Shepherd's Pie

This was kind of a spur of the moment dish, made for a vegetarian friend.

3 things that make this different from your normal Shepherd's Pie:
  1. No meat (instead I crushed up some vegetarian meatballs from Trader Joe's)
  2. Actual crust
  3. It is gigantic
The basic assembly first required cooking both the meat/veggie filling and the mashed potato topping separately. The filling is sauteed onions, carrots, meat (or meat substitute), broth, tomato paste, flour/corn starch, and some frozen peas and corn.

The filling was the first to go into the pie shell. Unfortunately, it almost came up to the brim without any mashed potatoes. The potato topping ended up being pretty swollen looking.

Looks amazing when cut into:

And even better just prior to entering my mouth!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Getting huge

I went on a weight-lifting stint this winter in order to add some body reserves before I start residency this summer. My goal was to evenly distribute 10 lbs more to my frame. The easiest way to do this?

Protein! This stuff actually worked pretty well as a work-out shake, and was generally pretty palatable. But Table Vibrations is not about filling your body with chemicals produced in some factory (my friend refers to the term "edible food substitute").

I decided to turn to the good old egg to fuel my muscle-building adventure. How do you make an omelet in 5 steps?

Beat eggs --> scramble briskly in preheated nonstick pan for 10 seconds --> add ingredients down the center --> fold one third of the egg over the ingredients and wait --> flop it onto your plate free edge first, so you complete the 2nd fold.

I think I gained about 3 lbs and promptly lost it all after a week of working again. Foiled by my own metabolism!

Shortbread cookies

Thanks to the Grand Central Bakery Baking Book I received for Christmas, I decided to try these chocolate shortbread cookies. I've never made roll cookies before. Drop cookies, sugar cookies, slice and bake Tollhouses, but never authentic shortbread cookies.

Basically, sugar + butter + chocolate + refrigeration. They turned out alright, but I think I'm more of a soft/chewy cookie guy. These are more crumbly, though the chocolate flavor was amazingly rich.

Before: (insert obvious joke here)


Monday, January 4, 2010


After college, I decided that popcorn did not have to be made in a microwave covered in yellow, salted trans-fats. However, it took me a while to figure out how to make popcorn just as tasty as the gooey disgusting kind that comes from a paper bag.

I tried regular stove top popping. This requires some skill, patience, and the right vessel (I use a nice large saucier). It turns out nicely, but you need a high smoke-point fat like peanut oil and plenty of practice using a lid as a shield against over-excited kernels. Plus, there is a good amount of clean up involved.

You might ask why I didn't try one of these stovetop popcorn contraptions. I live in a studio apartment...there's no room for that unitasker.

DIY microwave popping was next. Throw some kernels in a paper bag, staple it shut and hope for the best. This never seemed to give me a high enough kernel yield. Plus, it seemed like cheating.

Air popping was the next logical solution. I dropped some dough on a used air popper and it turns out to be almost exactly what I wanted.

I use a mixture of yellow and blue popcorns - both organic and locally produced by the Pennsylvania Dutch. It adds some variety of texture and flavor.

Remember to use a big bowl to catch the popcorn - you'll need it to distribute the toppings later.

After some topping experimentation, I've found that equal parts butter and olive oil, microwaved for 40 seconds and mixed with a pinch of sea salt works well.

Shake it up. Then add another sprinkle of salt and/or black pepper. Shake it again (but not too vigorously this time).

Potato Leek Soup

This recipe is unbelievably easy (read: you can buy everything at Trader Joe's), and makes for a good couple of meals because it reheats so well. Non-pureed soups often don't reheat well because the chunky ingredients tend to get soggy after sitting for a while.

Saute leeks --> diced potatoes --> wait for a touch of color --> season --> veggie broth --> add whole peeled potato -->

45 minutes --> remove and finely dice cooked whole potato --> immersion blender! --> add dairy (cream, buttermilk) and potato pieces --> serve with chives

Eat with fresh bread (made in the same dutch oven earlier that day).

Original recipe courtesy of Alton Brown.