Thursday, December 9, 2010

Smooth & Smokey

I had a wicked cold this week. I skipped the sore throat phase and went straight to snotty and congested. It was mostly annoying because it cut me off from all of my taste buds rendering me completely useless for any type of cooking. This should not be punishment for Shawn so I decided to make good on the leftover package of ground turkey we had from the weekend. With my fiance in mind I went straight to Mexican genre. Brainstorming through the aisles of Safeway I decided to concoct a Chipotle Queso Turkey Sliders with Mango Guacamole. From what I could taste they were amazing but perhaps spicier than I realized because I couldn't taste the peppers.

Before I get to the recipe, I have some pop culture musings I needed to get out of my head and onto the page.

1. Glee has pulled me back in. Well, at least long enough to watch an entire episode. The thing that has me super bothered and on a creative war path is the new (fat) character Lauren Izes. I get it, fat jokes are funny. I am a fat girl so I hold obese jokes close to my heart and understand it has its place and time. Im not so PC to say we should never have them, but they better be fucking funny if they are there. I find fat jokes to be scraping the bottom of the barrel for an overweight character, and even in that case - for a skinny person. It just feels so tired and stale. Mercedes loves tater tots instead of looking for love and Lauren wants cadbury eggs instead of friends. Weak sauce. I'll continue to watch and just do an obligatory eye roll when Ryan Murphy insists on being played out.

2. True Blood (only 1/2 way through season 2 so no spoilers) - but I just have to say, I was weary but my oh my is this my new guilty pleasure. Its everything I love wrapped into 1: xrated (yum), southern macabre (creepy), the classic war of bad guys versus good guy (oh, Ben & Noel!) - except they are vampires. Currently, I'd rather be home watching the remainder of Season 2 but alas, I have to have a life.

3. The Girls From Ames by Jeffrew Zaslow: We read this for my book club for the month of December (thanks Cindi!) and I more than enjoyed this book. I wouldnt say the writing style is my favorite but I am a sucker for a true story detailing the lives of other close women friends. Of course, I can relate to that because most of my closest friends are women and I love them dearly. Basically, if you want a real life tear jerker I high recommend this book. As we grow up, the stakes grow higher and tragedy and happiness are one revolving door of experiences. It was a lovely way to spend a few hours of my life. If you like things like Ya Ya Sisterhood, How To Make An American Quilt types of things - dis is for you.

4. Eating The Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman: I just love that man. I love everything about a Closterman book, even the chapters I skipped. He said himself I could skip them. They were on football and basketball so no love lost on those chapters. I spend most of my days talking about pop culture, thinking about, watching it, taking it in - and I love a good commentary and different way to look at things. This book included great rifs on time travel, abba and Ted Kazinsky. Now that it is in paperback, I highly reco. Thanks for letting my borrow, Nats!

ANYWAY - and now for the recipe.

1 package of ground turkey
4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced 1/4 cup sauce
1/2 an onion, sauteed
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of bread crumbs
1/2 cup of queso fresco, grated
1 egg
2 avocados
bunch of cilantro
1/4 a cup red onions
1 fresh lime squeezed juice
mango, 1/2 a mango
Salt & Pepper

Step One: Sautee the onion and the garlic over medium in a pan until soft, around 10 minutes. Once cooled combine with the ground turkey, the cheese (which I put into a food processor) - the peppers, breadcrumbs, egg and salt and pepper. Form into 6 patties and cook in a pan if you dont have access to a grill. About 15-20 minutes depending how thick you make them.

Step Two: Clean your food processor and combine all of the guac ingredients - pulse pulse pulse!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Chili: A Modern Assessment.

And just like that - its official, the holidays are here and in full effect. On Friday we celebrated the holidays with the Ubisoft company party that involved creepy masks and dressing up in black and white. As usual, I wore a blonde wig. Who doesnt love a fake a blonde? I am proud to say on Saturday after a hungover breakfast at the only (non hipster) greasy spoon diner The Lucky Penny - Shawn and I procured a Christmas Tree. I love how Shawn loves his traditions! It makes me think when I have a family we'll be able to say this is our xxxth Christmas together.

It had been a while since I had had a home cooked meal as we had been travelling, attending parties, not making time for it, etc so Sunday I made us set the time aside and make a hearty, heartwarming pot of chili. This sparked a debate in my mind: do people enjoy chilis that are more mexican tasting? Or more Italian tasting? You see alot of Chilis these days with basil and oregano ingredients but also some that lean towards the cilantro and the habanero flavors. For me its always Mexican. What do you prefer? Anyway, it lead us to this tremendously perfect chili concoction: 3 Onion Hominy & Turkey White Chili.

I know what youre asking - what makes this chili the best? To me the perfect chili must have a mission statement. It needs to say what it means in under 2 bites, nothing more. Often they get bogged down in trying to be too many things. Im a pork chili! No Im a beef chili! Wait - are there potatoes in me? I am a stew, then. Variety is the spice of life, yes - but if you keep it simple the flavors have a chance to develop and really shine. Im not of the school where we throw 10 things in a crock pot and hope they work. When the chili flavors sing, they should be deliberate and have a 3 part harmony behind them, not a rock band with off beat drums and a mid pubescent lead singer who vacillates between a bass and a soprano. In short - keep it simple stupid.

Lastly, this chili is excellent because of its 2nd lead: Hominy. What IS hominy you ask? Its basically like you mixed the color and sweetness of corn with the texture of a bean. Though, it is considered neither a vegetable or a bean - its a grain! I look forward to MANY more opportunities to explore this grain and phase it into something I excel at showcasing.

3 Onion Hominy & Turkey White Chili
1 pound ground turkey
1 can of hominy, drained
1 can of white beans, drained
1 can of butter beans, drained
1 can of diced tomatoes, drained
1 can of roasted diced green chiles, with juice.
1/4 cup picked jalapeno, with juice
1 yellow onion, diced
2 stalks green onion, diced for topping
1 cup red onion, diced
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1/2 cup spicy & bold bloody mary mix
Dashes of onion powder and dashes of garlic powder.
Cheddar Cheese, to taste.
Salt & Pepper to taste.

Step One: Over medium heat, in a dutch oven - start to cook the garlic and the yellow onions until they appear soft. Throw in the turkey to start browning it. Pour the diced green chilis over the turkey, allowing the juice to cover the turkey. Do your dashes of onion and garlic powder to taste. I like alot! Also, at this stage I salted and peppered the turkey as it cooked. Once it looks white...

Step Two: Add in the beans, hominy, tomatoes. Stir to make sure its all combined them add the bloody mary mix and the picked jalapenos. As a last step before you close the top, stir in the red onions. Let cook for around 2 1/2 hours covered, on low - and around the last 45m uncover it so the juices can burn off. Top with the green onions and the cheese, if you please.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cluck Recap

It was quite an adventurous trip back to Albany over this Thanksgiving. There was nary a moment to rest between Thanksgiving, planning a wedding, my 10 year reunion and general cuddling with friends and family. Here were some hightlights:

Thanksgiving Day: Shawn was a doll and fried a Turkey at my behest. He injected it with Spicy Sage and Maple rub/butter so when he fried it - it smelled like pancakes. People who hear the phrase fried dont understand that it doesn't TASTE just doesn't taste dry. What Thanksgiving have you been to where the Turkey isnt dry? We capped the night off with my favorite combination: a fire, some beers and Trivial Pursuit. I didnt win which was sad but I do love it.

10 Year Reunion: I think it was a popular night for it in the Capital Region as I saw it on facebook across my local friends statuses. Ours was held at Washington Tavern, which is just a bar. I didnt need it to be fancy and at Jack's Oyster House (Im looking at you Bethlehem).I hate when people do two things about their 10 year reunions: 1. Make a big deal about it. I get it, its "totally weird to see these people" but not really since you came. We didnt just run into each other in the parking lot and make small talk for 4 hours. I appreciated that there was very little of that at ours. A fellow classmate put it well when he said he came because he enjoyed high school and was genuinely curious about his classmates. Granted, facebook ruins it because I am pretty sure what all the people I care about are up to. The second thing I hate is 2. People who had an ANTI reunion. Yeah, I know. THAT REALLY HAPPENED. Emo is so 2000, just like our graduation year. Hang out, separately, its cool - we dont need haters - but to actively call it an anti reunion makes me think people dont change in 10 years. I wasnt popular in high school, by....a mile (maybe more than a mile, like a zillionmiles)....but an anti reunion bothers me. Alot. Overall, I thought it was a success and I had a rad-ass time.
It was a great opportunity to take stock in my life, though. 10 years is a long time. Would 18 year old Kate like 28 year old Kate? Yeah, she'd be pretty proud. Living in a cool city, loving my job, having the coolest friends and the best fiance. Granted, I'm in debt and increasingly overweight (and I still sneak smokes most Saturdays) but its comforting that I am not perfect. We must always be evolving and if its not 1 thing, its another.

Wedding Planning. Food tasting? Check. Wedding Dress? Checkeroo and had a lovely time with my chicklet bridesmaids doing it. Band? Not so check. They sort of stood us up. Hello Banjo Joe - dont you want my moola? Hotel -- so awesome it will be a great home for everyone that weeken. Florist - we met with and we'll see what happens. My grandmother dug out like 10 mason jars to start our centerpieces, and has started the bunting. Its going to take a village and I love it!

FOOOOOOD. We had some killer meals over this week and it makes me happy to be reminded that if (or when) we decide to ever move back to the East Coast (or Albany) --- we're not totally going to be taking a culinary dive. We had a great dinner at The New World Bistro Bar next to the Spectrum, we had a great Indian dinner with friends at Lazees (formerly The Shalimar) and on the last night ate at Jose Malones which is a random Irish Mexican joint in Troy. It was alll great! Highlight was my grandmother's Corned Beef for dinner, then hash the next morning!