Thursday, May 29, 2008

My New Favorite: Yogurt

I am just finishing up my lunch, and I'm just dying to share a new favorite thing.

Greek Gods Greek Yogurt: Fig

I'm slurping down the last little bit of it as I type and --flavorwise -- it's fantastic. The contrast between the sweet fig and the tangy, thick yogurt is phenomenal. And I'm liking the fact that it's not too sweet.

Now, there is a downside. If you're a purist, I'll warn you that this is not authentic "drained" Greek yogurt. I didn't need to visit Chowhound to figure that one out. I silencd my "inner snob" right away as I was standing in the dairy aisle. Ultimately, the fig yogurt was on sale and it sounded good (fig yogurt is not exactly commonplace around these parts), so I caved.

On top of everything, it's not exactly a local product (it comes out of Washington State). We try to stick with local products as much as possible. But, sometimes I just can't resist trying something new and out-of-the-usual-box.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

In Search of Foodies?

Pronunciation: ‘fü-dE
Function: noun
: a person having an avid interest in the latest food fads

We're always on the lookout for great ideas to use in the kitchen.
So, what could be better than the Foodie Blogroll?

Just imagine -- the largest list of food blogs you've ever seen. Written by people who love food as much as you do. That's the Foodie Blogroll. It's the first of its kind and is one of the fastest growing online communities for foodies.

Got a food blog? Join the Blogroll...
Interested in cool food writing? Take it for a browse... See the sidebar for more info.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Adventures in Falafel: Part 1

So, I decided to tackle homemade falafel last night.
We've been using a perfectly acceptable (and fast) boxed mix for as long as I can remember. But, it occurred to me recently that I really ought to try my hand at making it from scratch. Peef was busily scratching out his accounting homework last night, so I had some time on my hands. And I figured it would be ... fun.

Now, falafel is NOT rocket science. I know that much.
However, having said that, I have to admit that my overconfidence on this front led me to some initial failure on the homemade falafel front. Yes, it's true.

I didn't really start with a recipe. But, I figured that wouldn't be a big deal. After all, I knew the flavors involved and the basic consistency I was after. Right? Well...

I started with canned chickpeas, which I whirled around in the food processor with an onion, some garlic, a dash of cumin, and some coriander. I added flour to the mix. And a bit of baking powder. And I proceeded to fry up the lovely little balls of delight.

Strike one: Not enough flour in the batter. Or something.
My first batch of falafel patties disintigrated as the oil bubbled gaily around them. Oops.

Strike two: Tasty, but not quite right.
So, I added more flour. And got the balls to hold their shape. The final product was edible. Definitely. And quite tasty. And we made what I'd consider "decent" falafel sandwiches. But, the texture was definitely off. I believe I whirred things a bit too violently in the food processor, for one. And I need to find a way to add LESS flour (or, quite possibly, no flour at all). I think it absorbed too much of the cooking oil, and the little suckers were a bit too greasy for my taste.

So, it's back to the drawing board on this one. *Sigh*
BTW, if you have a recipe to share, please send it on!!

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Monday, May 19, 2008

The Morel of the Story: More Shrooms is Better Shrooms!

Along with the concept of "birthday week" (because really, you can't get all the birthday festivities that you want into one day), it's become a tradition around our house to celebrate Peef's birthday with morel mushrooms. Seems that, for a few years in a row, the mushrooms cooperated and showed up right when we needed them.

This year they were a bit tardy. So, what did we do? Why, we did what any sane people would do. We extended birthday week! And what a lovely time we had!

This year, it just so happened that when I went "foraging" for the morels on the urban landscape, I also found some other delights.

Blue foot mushrooms, for one.
And a fresh porcini!
And some beautiful white hon shimeji mushrooms.
I cackled crazily as I carried them home in my pack. And, of course, I got right to cooking.

(Paul was positively delighted that I'd found his beloved morels!)
We decided it would be best to keep things simple. So, we put together a lovely wild mushroom pasta dish. The concept was simple.
  1. Saute mushrooms in olive oil and a bit of butter.
  2. Douse with a splash of dry vermouth (this is a fantastic little trick that takes away any "dirty" flavor the mushrooms might have and brings out their musky earthiness).
  3. Finish with a bit of heavy cream.
  4. Serve over noodles with a grating of grana padano cheese.

Simple as you can imagine -- but absolutely lovely.

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Friday, May 9, 2008


Ah, fava beans!
The diva of spring vegetables.

Although we've both been lucky enough to have EATEN favas in our lifetimes, we've never had the opportunity to bond with them in our own kitchen. Rumor has it that favas are kind of a pain to prepare (not difficult, mind you, just labor-intensive). So, we were eager to experience them for ourselves.

Would they be worth the effort?
We decided to see for ourselves.
First, we peeled back the protective pods. Not hard at all -- and kind of fun. I'd even go so far as to say that this stage is somewhat meditative. And the spongey pods are really pretty cool in and of themselves (I keep wondering what merits all the extensive protection for these little wonders).

After marvelling at the perfectly shaped beans we found inside, we threw them into a violently boiling pot of water. Kind of mean, but apparently necessary.

After blanching, we were able to peel away the second, waxy pod from the brilliantly green favas.
Incidentally, pound of unshelled fava beans in their pods will produce about a cup of shelled beans. We shelled about two pounds this time around -- and it took us roughly 1/2 hour.

We used this first batch as a componant in a thoroughly delightful spring salad (local spring greens, steamed & chilled asparagus, and fava beans with a lemon-garlic vinaigrette and liberal shavings of grana padano).

For anyone curious about the flavor of a fava, I'd compare it to the taste of fresh spring peas. Very green. Luscious. And not starchy at all.

The verdict?
These babies were totally worth the effort.

NPR's Kitchen Window has a nice little article about favas online too, if you're interested.

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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Ramped UP for Spring

Ah, the ubiquitous ramp.

We've been seeking out these little suckers for weeks now. And we finally found a batch of locally gathered ramps at the co-op. Just imagine our excitement! We felt a bit indulgent paying $2.99/bunch for these delicacies, which are essentially gourmet weeds. But, we've been pretty stoked about the emerging flavors of spring, so the purchase seemed almost a necessity.

I've collected a number of recipes for ramps, including things as simple (and classic) as ramps cooked with scrambled eggs. I know there are also a few very nice pasta recipes floating around. But, we decided to try out a recipe for pizza instead.

This was simplicity at its finest. Nothing more than a crisp pizza dough, a bit of mozzarella cheese, some blanched ramps, and a bit of aged asiago. But it was quite delicious.

The blanching definitely takes the edge off of the ramps, which are often described as having a "bite". These tender alliums were sweet as could be. The flavor could definitely be described as "wild," but I also felt as if they carried a sort of perfumey quality that made them worth seeking out.

White Pizza with Ramps

Pizza crust (your favorite recipe)

extra virgin olive oil
10-12 medium ramps, washed and trimmed
4-5 oz mozzarella cheese, grated
asiago cheese

Preheat oven to 450ºF (allow oven to remain at temperature for at least 30 minutes).

While oven is heating, bring salted water to a boil in a medium saucepan. When water reaches a boil, add ramps. Blanch for one minute. Ramps should be bright green and just tender. Remove ramps from water, drain, and pat dry. Slice into 1-2 inch pieces (we left our ramps more intact, but they were MUCH more difficult to eat this way).

Roll out pizza dough into desired shape. Brush with olive oil.
Spread mozzarella over crust. Scatter ramps over cheese. Top with shavings of asiago.

Bake for 8-12 minutes.
Allow to rest for five minutes before slicing.

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Monday, May 5, 2008

Burp! Mobile

After reading an article in Food & Wine magazine this weekend, our brains were working some overtime coming up with yet another hair-brained plan for our imaginary restaurant concept.
Our latest imagination creation is the Burp! Mobile!

That's right, folks! Imagine Burp! taking it to the streets and cooking up breakfast treats and satisfying lunches. The best part is, we're doing it all in the comfort of our airstream trailer and we're hauling it right to a neighborhood near you!

Here are some menu ideas:
served in the morning (as it was intended) 8 - 10ish

  • Burp! Scramble - Scrambled eggs with onion and black beans, served atop a warm flour tortilla with fire roasted salsa
  • Yo! - European style vanilla yogurt topped with Burp! homemade granola and seasonal fruit
  • Banana-Rama - Banana pancake, thick-cut brown sugar bacon, fried egg
  • The Big Burp! - Two fried eggs served with braised Wisconsin pork belly and smashed garlic taters
  • The Dilly-Dally - Soft scrambled eggs served up hot on a slice of pumpernickel toast spread with dilled chevre
served 11ish - 2
(all sammies come with hand cut fries or fresh greens)

  • The Press - maple brined turkey breast, creamy brie, bacon, and thinly sliced pears, grilled to perfection
  • The Bird - ground turkey burger topped with greens, black pepper boirson and thinly sliced cucumber
  • The Burp! - grass fed ground sirloin, bacon, arugula, and creamy blue cheese
  • The Q - your choice of pork or tempeh on a homemade bun, slathered in Burp's own BBQ sauce and topped with tempting chipotle coleslaw

  • Burp!fries - White cheddar cheese curds, gravy, and fresh herbs all dripping over hot hand cut fries

  • Can't Beet It - Arugula salad with roasted beets and tangy goat cheese tossed with walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette
  • The Noodle - buttered long noodle with truffle oil
  • Peef's Potato Salad - Roasted potato salad with green beans, fresh spring greens, and tossed in a roasted garlic balsamic vinaigrette

Burp! The place is fake, but the food isn't.

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Sammie Sundays

What's new at Burp!? Well, Sammie Sundays has been our latest brain child.

What's a "Sammie Sunday"? Well, it's spring. And we can't think of anything better in the spring time than a fabulous sandwich. So, over the next month or so, we'll be cooking up the best sammies we can, and putting them right here online for you to enjoy.

This past weekend, we dunked a turkey in some Maple Brine and roasted it up, resulting in a succulant bird just screaming to be sliced up for some sammies. We were also thrilled to find a brilliantly fresh batch of fava beans at the market, so we shucked those and prepped them for a nice spring salad.

Here's what was on the menu:

Spring Fava Bean and Asparagus Salad with Lemon Garlic dressing

Maple Roasted Turkey Breast Panini with Brown Sugar Bacon, Thinly Sliced Pears, and Double-Cream Brie

Sweet Tater Fires - not a typo. They have a little kick to 'em

Next Sunday is Mother's Day, so Burp! will be traveling to the Mom's house to make their famous ribs complete with all the southern fixins'. But, we're hoping there will be a bit of barbequed pork left for some nice sammies!

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