Thursday, August 28, 2008


My mom always says the best part about summer is ripe rep tomatoes. And if you're anyone but me, your tomato plants are going crazy right about now. I currently have four cherry tomatoes, all of which have been enjoyed by a bug. I even put a hedge apple in the planter, and I swear it's half eaten. But the best part about summer tomatoes is bruschetta. Translated: Italian salsa. Here's our family recipe, which may or may not have originated in the kitchen of Betty Crocker (but you know she stole it from some noni).
5-6 tomatoes (roma, heirloom, whatever) 1/2 cup fresh basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
lemon juice from 1/2 a lemon
Chop. (Everything that's chopable). My mom puts the ingredients in a food processor to speed things up, but I prefer mine chunky.
OK, one of the things that sets this recipe apart is the crusty bread. This one courtesy of THE Martha Stewart.
1 baguette (French, Italian, whatever)
olive oil
coarse Kosher salt
Slice the bread into one-inch pieces. Lay on baking sheet. Sprinkle pieces with olive oil, salt and pepper and toast.

The Finer Things Club.

It happens about once a month. Travis peaks his head over my cube wall and asks if I want sushi. The answer is almost always yes. He then saunters around the office rounding up a raggle-taggle group of Home & Away employees to venture out to sample the fare of one of Omaha's many (several) sushi joints. I call this the "Finer Things Club," inspired by NBC's The Office. It started around the New Year. We pick a new place each week. Carpool. And hand the menu to Travis. We so blindly trust his expertise that I'm sure I couldn't select a meal on my own at this point. It won't live up. Thus far, we have hit every legit sushi bar/restaurant in Omaha at least once. Yesterday, we went to Hiro on 132nd and Maple. This joint is the resounding favorite among sushi-lovers in town, with good reason. It's all about the food there. The rolls are creative and well-executed. The wasabi stinger is Travis' must-eat. But I must admit that Hiro is not my favorite. I prefer Sushi Japan on 144th and Center. In my eyes, they are equal in creativity and quality. But Sushi Japan serves bite-size rolls. You're supposed to eat sushi in one bite. But that dang wasabi stinger at Hiro is huge, good but huge. Pieces of crab always fall off the top, and it barely fits in my mouth. Really, I'm choosing between two excellent eateries here. It's a win-win situation.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Emptying the Fridge.

As I'm going out of town this weekend and am off to Costa Rica (!!) for a week following that, the inspiration for this meal was unloading my refrigerator. Edible contents of the fridge/pantry used in this meal: roma tomato, heirloom tomato, green pepper, canned artichoke hearts, baby bella mushrooms, onion and garlic. I added orzo and some extremely old and already opened marsala cooking wine (gets better with time right?). I didn't have cream so ingeniously made some buttermilk to thicken. Topped with parmasan cheese and basil and parsley. It actually turned out shockingly better than I thought it would. And maybe not so shockingly, I ate all of the vegetables pictured above. In cleaning out the fridge, I ended up throwing away too much old food (kids may not be starving in China anymore but somewhere in Africa they are). One peach in particular looked more like a mushroom than anything else. It is hard cooking for just one person. Sure, no one else would let me get away with what I made tonight. But leftovers every night for a week gets old (figuratively and literally). Anybody got tips for reinventing leftovers?

Monday, August 25, 2008

This Is Not What Hollandaise Sauce Looks Like.

I find it very fitting that my first cooking attempt for my first blog was a complete disaster. Typical.
Plotting out my culinary endeavors at the end of the work day, I felt invincible and went straight for hollandaise, perfect to go with an eggs-benedict-style sandwich. I have never attempted this one of the five "mother sauces." I, admittedly, am not much good at any sort of emulsifying--I never know when the sauce has thickened and always get ahead of myself.
The process started out well. I only lost one of the four yolks down the sink. We were out of lemon juice ... but we had lime. Step one, wisking egg yolks with lemon (lime) juice, went well. I converted the mixing bowl and pot of water into a double boiler and finished off with the butter. Shockingly simple. I moved the "double boiler" to another burner and grabbed the cayenne pepper and salt. Salt we had. Cayenne we most certainly did not. I surveyed the other spices that start with C: coriander, chili, cumin, curry. Chili and coriander sounded and smelled promising, but I recalled an alternative suggested on an Emeril recipe: hot sauce. So I threw the salt and a couple drops of Louisiana hot sauce into the mix. It passed the initial taste test.
I turned away to work on broiling an egg. When I looked back the sauce had gone scrambled. Rookie mistake: I had left the sauce sitting on top of the hot water. I guess it really is as testy as they say. It was completely unsalvagable. It didn't end there. One broiled egg came out close to perfection. The next broke in the pan. I scorched two pieces of toast (I know, who burns toast?). And the next pieces of toast were burned on one side. (We really should get a toaster, so I don't have to toast bread in the oven). Well, I'm off to an interesting start.


I hesitated, originally, to start a blog, since I do a lot of writing and reading at work. But I do remember what it was like to write for writing’s sake, without worrying about misspellings, extra commas and catchy leads. Perhaps the adage applies, once you know the rules, break them. Whatever. I am writing this blog for me. Because I love all things food. Love it. I love cooking, though I certainly don’t do enough of it, and I am not very good at it. I love talking all evening over a glass of wine. I love how much food is a part of where you are in the country, in the world, in the house, in life. So I suppose I hope that other will enjoy reading what I write and eating what I eat. But if not, I’ll enjoy enough for all of you.