Friday, September 28, 2012

All in One Breakfast Smoothie: Oatmeal, Banana, Yogurt, with a touch of Cinnamon and Honey

oatmeal banana yogurt shake with honey and cinnamon
A complete breakfast in a shake, I don't know why this has so much appeal for me, I knew from the very start I wanted to make a smoothie with oatmeal, not really for the health benefits, but just to see what it would taste like in a shake, I had a feeling it would be great,

It was so different than any other shake I had had before, the flavor was sort of a tangy oatmeal cookie. It had some texture, but no big lumps, so it was still rather pleasant.

I toasted the oatmeal, it helps it develop a better flavor, it becomes sort of nutty, normally when making oatmeal I toast in the pot (before adding the water), but in this case the toaster oven seemed a better and easier to clean option.

At first I was going to pair it with milk, but then realized yogurt was a better fit, first off it adds a layer of creaminess, you get a thicker and is good for you, as long as you look for live yogurt with probiotics. Probiotics help with digestion and your immune system, My mother and sister (who don't love yogurt quite like I do, it's my desert island food) have been taking probiotics in pill form for years.


I also included half a banana, if you like your smoothies on the thick side, try using a frozen banana.

After the initial taste test, I added a little honey, the banana wasn't doing enough for sweetness. I also had the last of the summer fruit out, so added half a nectarine, but any soft fruit should work well here.

The sweetness was improved, but it still needed a little something, so I added just a little cinnamon, and a little ice, and it was perfect.

I would also like to try a little peanut butter in this one day. (or even a little shredded coconut.)
oatmeal banana yogurt smoothis with honey and cinnamon

Breakfast smoothie
1/4 cup oatmeal
1/3 cup yogurt
1/2 banana
1-2 tsp honey
1/2 nectarine
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3-4 cubes ice

Toast oatmeal in a toaster oven or in a pan on high heat, til you have a nice color, add to the blender, add the rest of ingredients and blend on slow speed then faster till well mixed.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cast Iron Apple Pie, Oh my


I miss apples, I mean summer fruit is great, I love peaches, and not finding any at the market this week was very disappointing, (I would like to make one more peach cobbler this year, especially since the last one has horrible nighttime photos) But apples, all red and pretty and there are so many great apple desserts, so much more than with other fruits.


There had been talk of a picnic, and while I never make pies for picnics (for one really persuasive reason) I just wanted to more than I had control over, so pie it was. 

There are two things about pie that bug me and they both concern the crust. First I don't make it, it's annoying, gets a huge machine dirty and then expects you to wash it, like you have nothing better to do with your time, plus it sticks and wants a roller and a board, and always has a better texture when you buy it, it's like all the cards are stack against it, I don't do pie crust I buy them, quite happily from the store. The long rolled up ones, nut the in a aluminum pan kind. In fact I will make my own pumpkin puree, but not the crust. 

The other thing that bothers me is the bottom crust never cooks, and apple pie is a double crust, there's blind bake option here, you have to use raw dough, the solution? Cast iron. A pie pan so hot, nothing would dare not cook in it. Since I switched, I've even gotten color on the bottom. That's unheard of. But it happens, and there is nothing like an apple pis where the crust is a perfect supporting character and not a disruption.

As to the actual cast iron pan, I love how this particular pan is orange, and therefore somehow more presentable that the black kind. I got this one when my grandmother moved a few years ago, but I took a quick look around and there are a couple options out there, the Le Creuset and the slightly larger and more affordable Rachael Ray pan, If you don't own a cast iron skillet I highly recommend having one, nothing browns like cast iron, and as long as you keep it well-oiled it will last pretty much forever. 

So to start defrost pie crust.


Cast iron pans are large, mine is 10 inches, which means 6 apples, which seem like a lot, but really isn't.


Peel six beauties, these are galas, I am aware that everyone uses Granny Smiths, but i happen to like the red apple take on pie, it's a little more mushy and you need less sugar, but I just like doing it that way. 

Slice the apples are thin as you like, I like them a little larger, but really thin is also great, it's like there's more caramel than stewed fruit. 

Add sugar, flour and cinnamon. You can also use nutmeg, (I can't, can't stand it.) lemon, juice, soaked raisins, or even some chopped pecans. 

Let it sit and hang out till the flour has dissolved. 

Place one crust in the pan. Top with apples, and then top with small spats of butter all around on top of the apples.


To connect the two layers you really have to have nothing on the edge hanging off like with a traditional crust, it will burn, badly. so tuck it all in, placing the top layer on top of the bottom one and pushing them together as much as you can, any decorations you want to do, you can also long as it's within the rim of the pan.

Break an egg and make a wash with a little water (1 tsp) Spread evenly on top of the pie.


Bake at 425 for around 50 minutes, Place your lightest in color and weight half sheet on the rack below your pie.


Check after half an hour and make sure the browning is going well, you may need to check again in ten minutes if it's on the brown side top with some foil.


Serve with ice cream. 

10 in Apple PIe

2 pie crusts
6 large apples
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tbsp butter
1 egg for wash
1 tbsp lemon juice (optional)
1/2 tsp nutmeg (optional)


Ice cream for serving

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Food in Greece 2012

Photos from Greece weren't great, especially the food photos, but I'm working with what I got. 

Souvlaki, a rather terrible photo of it, basically grilled chicken, usually served with a yogurt-based sauce.
This was a restaurant that specialized in grilled food. here's a grilled veg dish, and an unusual starter for Greece, a slightly spicy tomato sauce. Greeks don't really eat spicy.
One of my favorite dishes in Greece is actually the pasta, this is risotto, the Greeks actually make terrible pasta according to Italian standards, always overcooked and over sauced, but it's sort like every pasta dish has been inspired by great mac and cheese, it's all comfort food, and so good. 
Fast food in Greece, from Goody's, only the foreigners ate anything, the Greeks sat around drinking waters, and watched us eat. Meanwhile, we all, it turns out, like the same sandwich, it's called a premier, it's really good feta, tomato, olives, oregano, and tartar sauce on wheat bread. It's so not food that should come out of a fast food restaurant.
The only reamining photo is the following, a traditional Greek restaurant with some food I had just never seen before, including a stew with I think lamb, potato balls stuffed with cheese, breaded and fried, grilled meats, lots of salads, and even more feta. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Food in Cyprus 2012

I'm back, available for blogging and everything, I promised you the foods of Cyprus and Greece, here's the thing, the food in Greece is going to be very disappointing. but let's start with Cyprus, I've spent literally years there, so I know the food rather well by this point, there's three basic food types, seafood and it's fixin's, lamb and it's fixin's and cheese. Ok so it's basically one cheese, but it's one of the most unique cheeses in the world, and Cyprus' most famous export, so it gets a mention. Let's start with the cheese. Haloomi, I've cooked with on the blog, my grandmother loves cheese, it's included at the end of every meal, and is the star of breakfast.

Here it is, it is folded once and therefore has a natural split, there is the village version, and the supermarket version, and this may sound really odd coming from me, but I prefer the mass market kind, it's a lot less salty, and softer.
The jam is strawberry and homemade, my grandmother made it, and while it photographs great, I prefer the apricot, (homemade by one of her friends) I actually don't like strawberry jam, a sin for many I know.
Did you notice the knife? Does it look kind of familiar? My grandparents spent their entire lives travelling, (six Continents)  and my grandmother loved the airplane silverware. So she took a few, or well....

Ok onto the Cyprus traditional lamb meal, kleftiko, slowly cooked in clay pots, it falls apart, I don't like lamb, but good kleftiko loses all that gamey flavor of the fat and becomes just really good meat. 

The clay pot in the forefront is yogurt, traditionally made in Cyprus with at least some sheep milk, which is the best tasting yogurt, you have to like it sour and creamy, but it is so good, the imported Greek yogurt has nothing on this.
There's slao slow cooked chicken.
Whole potatoes, potatoes in Cyprus are so good I didn't eat them for years after I moved back, so good, in the corner, there's bulgur cooked with tomatoes.
Here's a better shot.
The best food though in Cyprus is fish, I only had it once, once, drove me crazy not going in Greece, next time I'm going to insist on eating daily, cause honestly, so good.

You pick your own fish.
 Then go pick a seat outside, on the beach.
They bring our appetizers

 Which are already so good, this is greek salad, marinated olives. tahini, and tarama (which is made with carp roe)

Then the fish come out.
These are red mallet, they are around 6in long, and are fried, a little too big to eat the bones, (some fish are small enough to) and I take off the head, but on the smaller ones in the tails are crunchy goodness.

Then the main course
Oh and more potatoes, french fries, so good, thick cut,
At the end they bring out some fruit. Figs and cactus fruit.

Sadly no calamari this trip, although that sin is no longer what it once was, it used to be that it was so bad in the US and so good in Cyprus, it was sin not to consume it, but globalization has changed that, Cyprus now sometimes serves frozen calamari, and a few restaurants in the US finally learned how to cook it so it's almost the soft texture you could once only find around the Mediterranean. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

What is it Wednesday? Ok it may be Thursday at this point.

Coming to you live from the island of Cyprus. I have a bit of wifi during the day though not a lot of patience for auto spellcheck.
So far this week I have been bored out of my mind a lot, I do not know what we did before there were computers, I have to travel with someone at all times, I need the company.
I'm burnt, it hurts I'll get over it, but still burnt.
Every time I come here it's more international, they have sushi now. Though almost everything was cooked. :-)
I have eaten everything on the island traditional at this point, all that is missing is a trip to the bakery, maybe I can squeeze that in tomorrow morning before going to the airport.
This is what happens when you get stuck with your grandmother and it is so damn hot and they drive on the other side. Next time I come I'll start in nicosia a couple of days and see more people, saw quite a few but there are more and I was only here during the week and everyone works, oh well Greece next where hopefully we will do something during day this time. Though I pretty much never have, except during last year's insane trip with ex and his mother.
But I'll see the girls, all the girls, in just over 24 hours. woohoo, nothing better than that.
Ok I'm signing off typing on this thing is driving me crazy. I have lots of photos to show you all but that will have to wait til I get back.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What is it Wednesday already?

Ok crazy, crazy week, first off all I am home alone, which means if I cook it. I have to eat, let me tell you that is not easy.

Everyone else is in New York, apartment hunting in the heat and humidity, and I keep getting reports on how much I would not like that city. I kept telling them I don't want to go to New York in the summer.

Meanwhile I fly out on Friday! Friday! Like two days from now, there are still a couple things on the to-do list, like returning shoes, and the back up dress I bought online that looked cute in the picture and was awful, awful in real life, and buying boxes for all the gifts I'm taking with me, which took me a really long time to figure out where I can buy something like that and then wrapping all the gifts I'm taking with me.

For the girls I bought earrings, cause they are small. and I can fit them in the luggage easily. honestly, I was going to try and get something very fashionable, then just settled for LA fashion cause I actually know what that is. still not sure what people want from the US, clothes that's only sold here? As in lesser known brands, that seems a little crazy to me.

Plus it's been so hot in West LA this last week, (yet another reason to avoid the kitchen) which is very rare for beach cities, we don't even have an A/C at home, like hot enough I actually went looking for the huge fan I bought 3 years ago, back when we used to have summers and then never used. It is awesome, like if I ever am putting together a movie set, wind is taken care of.

I have so many blog entries where the photos are just locked in the camera I have to find the wire for, I may have them post while I'm away. Just cause there are so many of them.

I looked up the weather in Cyprus and Greece, July is hotter there, unlike here, so it shouldn't be that bad. I may not need every sleeveless top I own.

Last Wednesday was the Predator Keirin Classic Race, that was awesome, I worked registration, it felt like the old days running the canteen at school, so many people all at once, and all this cash. It's a real high when you get that rush, I miss that, getting all the math right, ok it was easy math, but still, fun. The races were fun to watch as well, keirin racing is a spectator sport, It's fast, but not too fast, and plus there were a whole lot of girls and juniors mixed in, including some that totally kicked ass. I'll link to the race video and report once it's up.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Olympics Snack: Cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches


I have another vegan recipe almost ready to go, just have to clean up the photos a bit, until then here's something quick, and perfect for watching the games, I would make tea, but it's 78 right now in Santa Monica, and that is hot, really hot.

Over the years I've made dozens of different tea sandwiches, crusts off and everything, but the truth is the simple ones are sometimes the best. All this is is cream cheese hothouse cucumbers (which are my favorite cucumbers and really only available in the summers), partially peeled, and multi-grain bread, simple and great.

Cucumber cream cheese sandwich
1/4 Hothouse Cucumber
2 oz. Cream Cheese
multi-grain bread

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hard to Believe it was a year ago

We did a big road trip, that one day needs to become a sitcom. We made half a dozen of these little videos, this was my favorite one, mainly due to the ending, this was in Greece, but there's another great one in the mountains in Bulgaria, But watching one is already a lot for anyone to take on, maybe one day I'll add some music to it. So much has changed since then, it's to the point that I don't even own this camera anymore.

All I can think about is the upcoming trip, so much prep work involved. One of which is find an ATM card that is still valid, that's going to bite me again, I just know it. Why do I always forget that?

I am not looking forward to Cyprus though, Larnaca is so far away from everyone, I still haven't figured out how much blogging I can do on the road. There really isn't internet access anywhere, how crazy is that, so the whole thing depends on getting local phone numbers. Which I think I can figure out tin Greece, but in Cyprus no idea. Til then I may have to stick to text posts, and those are so much fun. Oh well there's still a couple weeks til then, I can't wait to post all the great food from over there, the Greeks are pretty obsessive to great tasting food. There is such an amazing array on offer. The Cypriots, their strengths lie in fish and the bakeries, there are a few other things here and there, but there is also some fairly strong weakness.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Melted: White Cheddar and Tomato Panini

Cheddar and Tomato Panini
After what felt like a very long weekend, let's start the week off simple. white cheddar and tomato, plus just a little olive oil cooking spray.

Less juicy tomatoes are best, you can always drain them a little on peper towels.

White Cheddar and Tomato Panini
Place in a foreman grill, olive oil side down, spray top side with olive oil and press for around 5 to 7 minutes.

Cheddar and Tomato Panini
Whole wheat bread
tomato
white cheddar
olive oil cooking spray

Friday, August 3, 2012

Quick Quick Paprika Chicken

What's great about chicken tenders is that it's soft white meat cooked quick quick. The white meat choice for zombies.
In fact I like to give them a bit of a pounding before I cook these, but if you skip that step, this could be done in 10 minutes.

Start with a simple spicy mix or dry rub

Pound out chicken. I use my mallet sideways so it doesn't actually punch holes.

Place chicken in bag with spice mix

Place on an oven sheet top with a little cooking spray,

Then broil 5 minutes on one side and 3 on the other.

Done

Serve with veg of choice, or use as you would a roasted chicken.

So fast

Spice mix
2 tbsp sweet paprika
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp celery salt

1 1/2 lb chicken tenders
olive oil cooking spray

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Slow cooked Green Beans with Chilis

slow cooked green beans with chilis

Ok so this isn't really intended to be a spicy dish, it's just supposed to be homey, but I had a can of tomato with chili, and if any dish can use a pick me up, it's green beans,

Saute onion in olive oil, on med low heat til golden in color
Add garlic, and cook 30 seconds.
Stir in tomato paste
Stir in chopped tomato with chili, you can of course use something not spicy
Add green beans, I like them thin and long, but go with your own preference.
Add water so the beans are mostly submerged. Bring to a boil and simmer. Cook until very tender, this will take a really long time, this one pot cook for just over 3 hours, to get it really tender, but still holding it's own. Your looking for the color of green olives, You can taste to see if it's right.

Serve warm on rice with yogurt or sour cream, to cut some of the heat. This can also be served as a salad.

1 large onion, chopped
olive oil
3-5 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 14 oz can chopped tomato with chili (or without)_
1 bag frozen green beans
salt and pepper

































Monday, July 30, 2012

Oven BLAT: Bacon, Lettuce, avocado, and tomato in the toaster oven

BLAT Bacon, Lettuce, avocado, tomato

Avocado was the best thing that ever happened to the BLT, ok, so it did kind of kill the name, BLAT, but aside from that, it's essential.
Aside from avocado, of course the best possible ingredients, is how you cook the bacon. If you like baco extra crispy, then the microwave is the way to go. If you like cleaning the stove top, go ahead cook bacon on the stove, see how it goes. personally I've always like my bacon a little on the crispy side, but not microwave crispy.

So the toaster oven is my cooking method of choice. Simply lay the bacon out on foil, top with a little fresh pepper. By laying the bacon ont flat it clings a little to the foil, and come out pretty flat.


Cook on 425 for 8 minutes for a little on the crispy side, I always think i'm going to cook the bacon a little longer, and then 8 minutes comes out perfect. The range is between 6 and 11 minutes depending on what kind of bacon you like.

I use scissors to cut the bacon to size and fit perfectly on a slice of bread.

Place a little mayo on the other side of the bread

Tiop with avocado and tomato.

Then lettuce and top with a second slice of bread.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Best Tzatziki

tzatziki
Growing up we always had tzatziki, being a yogurt worshiper it was easy to love. It was all minty and garlicy, with large chunks of cucumber. But when I went away to school, I encountered a different sort of tzatziki, with a much thicker consistency, much more flavor and shredded cucumber, I started playing with the recipe, sort of mixing the two and adding a few "secret" ingredients to get as much punch out of it as I could.

At the height of summer, this can even be served as a cold soup, though I use a thinner yogurt if I'm going to serve it as a soup. If on the other hand you're going to serve this on burgers, use strained yogurt, to get a more spreadable consistency.

A touch of dill, doesn't take away from the mint flavor, but rather adds to it, and the lemon punches up the naturally sour taste of the yogurt, but then again I love strong acids, so that may be why I love that addition.

Getting the correct balance of salt is not always easy, I just add slowly and taste til perfect. This sauce increases in flavor if you leave it overnight, although the cucumbers do lose a bit of the crunch. It actually seems to absorb some of the salt as this happens, so if you do end up oversalting, an overnight stay can cure this.

Start by shredding cucumber, skin on.

Then strain out the excess water, I shred onto a paper towel and then squeeze out the excess.

Top with garlic, mint, dill, and salt.
tzatziki

Add yogurt, olive oil, and lemon juice. Mix
tzatziki

Done.

tzatziki

1/2 large cucumber
1 clove garlic
2 tsp dried mint
1/2 tsp dried dill
salt to taste
1 1/2 cups yogurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil