Friday, March 25, 2011

Tropic Thunder

Ugh, March is such a tease. In like a lion, out like a lamb my ass. This pussy is roarin' and it's only a week till April. Of course there was that one, glorious day -- near 70 and sunny. Since then its been cold and windy and rainy and schmeh. After all the hibernation of winter my biological clock wants to hop, skip and jump around. The depressing weather, however, is putting my energy at an all time low. So how do you brighten up a gloomy day?  Fake a tropical fiesta in your mouth. 

So the fiesta started out pretty tame. And to be honest, I like it's original version best. Avocado, mango, cilantro, black beans, lime juice, and honey. So tropically good. I made a huge bowl of this, and didn't even bother with chips. I loved the buttery, smooth textures all around. The lime juice and mango were so bright and chipper, and the nutty avocado and mellow beans felt like they melted with every bite. 

As for the cilantro, in my opinion it was just necessary. There is something about Avocado and cilantro -- they're like peas and carrots, Forrest Gump and Jenny -- they belong together. Lime juice is like Bubba, equally necessary but in a different way. Lime juice stops the avocado from browning. 

I first prepped the cilantro dressing. Giving the herb a fine chop, stir together with olive oil, honey, salt, pepper, lime juice and zest. The honey gives the dressing amazing texture and smooths out the sharp cilantro-lime tang. 

Cube the avocado, squeeze lime juice all over and give it a delicate toss. You'll wanna stir everything fairly delicately because of the avocado. See, I wanted to keep it chunky so you actually got to enjoy big pieces the unique green fruit. Besides, this ain't guacamole buddy. Cube the Mango just the same. If you've never cut up a mango before, it can be a little frustrating -- blame the enormo seed. 

Hold the mango upright and narrow and cut the narrow sides off. I know, I know, you want to cut the fat sides off. Well you can't, so settle down. The annoyingly oblong seed in this incredibly delicious fruit gives it shape. Unlike the friendly avocado the mango pit does not easily separate from its flesh, so you have to cut around it. When you cut the narrow sides you can usually hear the knife rustle against the seed. Those narrow sides are the most beneficial. Slice horizontally and vertically then invert the skin (as pictured above) and run your knife along the skin making for lovely little mango squares. Slice along the the remaining two sides of the fruit and get as much mango flesh as you can. Then gnaw on the seed and smile.

Rinse off the black beans and add to the salad. Finally, stir in cilantro dressing. Again, this salad was fabulous. After eating a lot of it, I wanted see if other ingredients would be welcomed. I added strawberries, blueberries and basil. The berries added pops of brights fruity flavors and seedy textures while the basil gave its an aromatic freshness. Each bite was different with the added ingredients, making for an uplifting snack that made me hate March a little less.

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons cilantro
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons lime juice
lime zest
(1 tablespoon basil)

2 avocados
2 mangos
15 oz can black beans
1 tablespoon lime juice

(3-5 strawberries)
(1/2 cup blueberries)

Friday, March 4, 2011


My first chicken. She was a wee three-pounder, named Louise.

Louise is a jewish chicken. I was honored to Bat Mitzvah her with a kosher bath. Give your chicken a good rinse, inside and out. Put her in a bowl of water for half hour, then lay her on a isolated surface and douse with salt. Let her sit, salted, for another half hour. Rinse well and pat dry.

Wash your hands often throughout this process, so not to get chicken germs all over the kitchen.

You may not want to go through these steps. Fine, whatever. Don't cry about it, though, when your unfortunate chicken doesn't turn out marvelous. I watched my mama do this to thousands of chickens growing up, and I trust her when it comes to chicken. The woman knows her chicken. Besides, I have nothing against getting rid of poultry bacteria. If you're into that kind of thing, to each his own. I'm glad Louise was so fresh and so clean, though.

Salt and pepper her insides. Then shove 2 sprigs of rosemary up her bottom, along with lemon and orange wedges. It was a blast flapping Louise's wings around and making her dance but those extremities roast a lot better when tied together. The wings and thighs will dry if they're stretched out like a floppy dog sleeping on his back, so tie them up close to the body.

Remember, I told you to pat her dry. Rub a chimichurri all over her. This sauce has an awesome name and accessible ingredients. Extra virgin olive oil, parsley, rosemary, garlic, lemon and orange zest, fresh squeezed juice of lemon and orange, salt, pepper, and paprika.

You don't want your chicken to touch a lot of surface. Why are rotisserie chickens so fantastic? Because every inch of skin is getting hot waves of heat. Louise started out on her belly. Twenty minutes in, she flopped over on her back. I used a roasting rack over a casserole dish full of potatoes and onions (with olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary). Louise's juices dripped down on the spuds. She was basted and her own sweat and given a squeeze of a lemon and orange 3 or 4 times. A chick becomes a lady at 425 for around 15 minutes per pound. Let Miss Louise sit covered in tin foil for a few minutes before you then turn her into a carcass.

Louise was juicy. Her flesh was bright from lemons, sweet with orange, savory of rosemary, and so incredibly juicy.

half orange, wedged
half lemon, wedged
2 sprigs rosmary

extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup
rosemary, 1 tablespoon finely chopped
parsley, 4 tablespoons finely chopped
salt, 1 teaspoon salt
pepper, 1/2 teaspoon pepper
paprika, 1/2 teaspoon
garlic, 1 tablespoon chopped
orange juice and zest, 1/2 orange
lemon juice and zest, 1/2 lemon 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The fookie

Sometimes you want a cookie but don't have any. It's an unfortunate dilemma millions of cookie monsters face every day. Don't fret, stress, or cry, though. When desperate for a cookie but aren't up to baking an entire batch or leaving the comfort of your home, just make a pho-cookie. A fookie.

Buttered toast with cinnamon and sugar. Its like eating a Snickerdoodle. This is one of those treats I grew up eating but forgot existed. It takes 5 minutes to prepare and the ingredients are always in any kitchen.

There's no shame in eating this for breakfast...lunch, dinner, snack, or just because you want to.