Amy’s Guacamole

Amy's GuacamoleA Bowl of Some­thin’ Super

Per­haps you haven’t heard, but the Super Bowl is this weekend. I admit I like the Super Bowl and every­thing that goes with it. The Food, the Com­mer­cials, the bet­ting pools. All of it. I am also one of those people that actu­ally likes to watch the game.

After decades of going to Super Bowl par­ties or having people over at my place, I have finally fig­ured out that I prefer to be in my own home, on my own couch, with a Coke not a Pepsi, and actu­ally watching the game without having to shush people or turn the volume up to 80. This Sunday I will be doing just that with my Patriot fan hus­band. (Go ahead. Boo if you must.) But don’t think for one minute that we will be scrimping on the snackage. It may just be the five of us, but we’re going big, baby.

We have done numerous things for our Super Bowl feasting over the years. Chili. Pulled Pork. Baby Back Ribs. After serious soul searching and heated family debates, it has been decided that this year we will be having a Make Your Own Nachos bar. It may sound simple but these are not your average nachos. Sure, we could go with the basic cheese and chips with salsa, but that would be for ama­teurs. We take our nachos very seri­ously and we all like dif­ferent top­pings. Our ingre­dient list could feed a small country. There are numerous dif­ferent kinds of chips, cheeses, beans, no beans, meats and salsas. Pickled jalapeños, fresh jalapeños, no jalapeños. It’s Tex-​​Mex anarchy.

One thing that we do all agree on is there absolutely–the world will tilt on its axis if it’s not there–must be gua­camole on the nachos. And if you ask my hus­band, it must be my gua­camole. (Yeah. He’s a keeper.) There ain’t nothin’ better than fresh gua­camole with fresh chips. Mine is SO easy to make. Just make sure the avo­cados are super ripe…but not brown.

Amy’s Gua­camole Read more…

Roasted Cau­li­flower & Hazelnut Salad

Roasted Cauliflower Salad I’m So Fancy.
Last week was the Fancy Food Show at Moscone Center in San Fran­cisco. It’s a long day, and I usu­ally end up with a stomach ache by the end. At no other time is it appro­priate, let alone encour­aged, to try the Salmon Jerky one minute, and wash it down with a coffee soda the next. (By the way, not a fan of the coffee soda.) Add the end­less array of kale prod­ucts and…you get my drift.

Despite the wacky mélange of fine foods, it’s a lot of fun. Plus there are the foods I never pass up because chances are I won’t get to taste them any­time soon. Legit­i­mate Iberico Ham from Spain? 50 year old? (Yes. You read that right) Bal­samic Vinegar? Real French Cheese? I’m talking the gooey stinky stuff that will change your life. Then there’s the Wagyu Beef! (O.M.G! The Wagyu Beef!)

The real point of this gas­tric free-​​for-​​all is to learn what is new and trendy, and what we will see on the market shelves in the coming year. That said, here are my take­aways from this year’s Fancy Food Show:

1. Power to the Veg­gies
Kale is still king, but it now has com­pe­ti­tion in the form of broc­coli, cau­li­flower and sweet pota­toes among other vit­amin packed veg­eta­bles. Every­where I looked there was a dif­ferent snack item pro­claiming it’s par­tic­ular health ben­efit. And Chick­peas! They’re everywhere.

2. Caramel is Taking Over
There will always be plenty of candy at the show. That’s just the nature of the beast. In years past choco­late, in any form, dom­i­nated. This year, I was sur­prised to see that while there was plenty of choco­late, there were caramels in every form and flavor including some infused with a variety of hot and trendy spices. (It’s all about the turmeric y’all.)

3. There’s Some­thing About Mary
Mixology is still the rage, and walking down the aisles there were plenty of options to liven up your cock­tail party. Most inter­esting was how many booths were either offering you a bloody mary or at the very least inviting you to try their bloody mary mix. Others were pairing bloody marys with the beef jerky they were actu­ally there to sell. (Which is a whole other craziness…Jerky every­where.) Of course the bloody mary could be another man­i­fes­ta­tion of the power veggie move­ment that hap­pens to involve Vodka. I am okay with that.

4. Here for the Pate
Many ven­dors and atten­dees were thrilled about the ban on fois gras being struck down by the courts, and they showed it by handing fois gras out to everyone. I was happy to be right in the middle of it. Watch the shelves for some really great pates in the coming months as ven­dors ramp up there offerings.

5. Doing Things Right
One thing that was bla­tantly obvious this year is the number of ven­dors who are very con­cerned with making sure that if they are going to make some­thing, they make it the way it should be made…almost to the point of obses­sion. These pro­ducers aren’t making prod­ucts just because they can. They are making them because they really care about pro­ducing food for people that is the purest form of the product. For example, Italian pestos that are cre­ated in the same manner that it has been made for hun­dreds of years. Bot­tled lemon juice that lit­er­ally tastes like you bit into a lemon, because they take the time to add lemon oil to a spe­cially con­structed bottle. All throughout the show there were ven­dors like this who were pas­sionate about what they pro­duce. I was inspired.

I have to say that this year was the first time in a while that I walked away from the Fancy Food show excited. It was not the same old stuff, only re-​​packaged. We found a number of prod­ucts that we are excited about, so be on the lookout for new things in the aisles. And, of course, we’ll let you know about them.

In the mean­time, jump on the veggie band­wagon and try the recipe below. It’s a great way to get your vit­a­mins and liven up your winter palate.

Roasted Cau­li­flower & Hazelnut Salad
Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi

Cau­li­flower, raw or lightly cooked, is a useful salad ingre­dient, above all in winter when there isn’t a great variety of fresh veg­eta­bles avail­able. It soaks up flavours par­tic­u­larly effec­tively and ben­e­fits from any­thing sweet and sharp. This salad is inspired by a recipe from a bril­liant Aus­tralian chef and food writer, Karen Mar­tini. Read more…

Bachelor Beef Stew

Bachelor Beef Stew The Com­fort of January

Jan­uary, for me, is a slow month. The chaos of the hol­i­days is over. There is usu­ally a lull in youth sporting activities—though this year the boys are trying bas­ket­ball. And there just isn’t that much going on, which means I get a bit lazy.

This time is all about the crock pot. My issue is that I get tired of the same old same old. Pot roast is great…occasionally. You can only do so much chili and pulled pork before you lose your sanity (and your waist­line). So I have been looking for new recipes to try that are good but also fall into that com­fort food cat­e­gory and, don’t require a lot of prep so I can throw them in the pot in the morning.

Most crock pot recipes are heavy on the beef mainly because you can use the tougher cuts that break down over long periods of cooking and are melt in your mouth good at the end. This one uses steak tips which makes it even easier for those days when you’re really lazy since you don’t even have to cut it. The use of the microwave might seem weird but it works. Just try it next time you’re on the couch with a book and don’t want to move much.

Bach­elor Beef Stew
Recipe adapted from Slow Cooker Rev­o­lu­tion
by Amer­icas Test Kitchen Read more…

Crock Pot Oats & Amish Style Baked Oatmeal

Amish Style Baked OatmealOat-​​Cuisine

I am a big fan of oatmeal—no matter what form it comes in: whether it’s steaming from a bowl, baked in a cookie with raisins and cin­namon, or crum­bled on top of apples and served with ice cream.

The good news is it’s good for you, and you can easily jus­tify eating oats no matter what it’s iter­a­tion. I will con­cede that if you add too much brown sugar or butter the health ben­e­fits are some­what dimin­ished, but it tastes so darn good!

Because it’s winter, and it’s cold, and it’s not yet rhubarb, peach or cherry season, my love of oat­meal has been playing out on the field of break­fast. I have been trying dif­ferent ways of making my warm bowl of courage, and have been pleas­antly sur­prised at all I can do. I have found my two favorites.

Sure, you can always go the tra­di­tional salted water boiling route. It’s com­fort­able. It’s a known. Or you could walk on the wild side, and get wacky like the Amish do and make Baked Oat­meal with Apples, Raisins and Wal­nuts. Jenn Segal had me at “bread pudding-​​like con­sis­tency”. I’ve never met a bread pud­ding I didn’t like—this will be good. The down­side? It’s not some­thing you can throw together on a weekday morning.

Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oat­meal is the per­fect solu­tion for weekday morn­ings. There’s nothing like waking up to a hot bowl of oat-​​y good­ness. I mess around with this recipe depending on my mood. I will add raisins, nuts, cut up apples and/​or dried cran­ber­ries. Most times I leave the vanilla out and go with some com­bi­na­tion of cin­namon, cloves and nutmeg. It’s a per­fect way to make time con­suming steel-​​cut oats during the week.

Amish Style Baked Oat­meal
Adapted from Once Upon a Chef
A tra­di­tional and com­forting Amish break­fast casse­role. There are end­less variations—the recipe is easily adapted to what­ever fruits and nuts you have on hand. Read more…