27 Sat, 2010 § 3 Comments
Dave & I were in Flagstaff on Wednesday for his
2nd 3rd 4th interview. These guys were serious about finding someone who fit into the culture of the company.
Apparently he does, because they offered him the job. He starts next Wednesday.
This calls for some celebrating.
I think he deserves to be seduced. 😉 Which is perfect because Project Tasteless’ 5th challenge calls just for that.
A little unconventional that his celebration dinner fell on Thanksgiving; but he is what I’m most thankful for, so I suppose it fits.
They say the surest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Not exactly going for his heart here, but I think the saying still holds true.
There are some dos & do nots to keep in mind when trying to seduce through food though. Don’t worry, because if you do what I say & not always what I do, you should find yourself satisfied & satisfied at the end of the evening.
Consider Your Menu & plan
Yes, plan, because kitchen timing — or rather mistiming — can kill your evening & libido. There is also a delicate balance to consider: you want a delicious meal that highlights the sexy culinary goddess that you are; but it also needs to be appropriate for your intentions. It should be tasty, impressive & on the “lighter” side — think like the French [or most Europeans for that matter]. I could make Dave a heaping plateful of cheesy, oozy pasta & win his heart hands down; but would that get me what I want [& ultimately what he wants]? You don’t want your man stuffed, bloated & spending more time in the bathroom than the bedroom. Does “lighter” mean salads? No. Does it mean you can’t do pasta? Of course not, but really consider portions & the entire meal when plating & planning.
My game plan was a sexy, vegan feast.
Sexy may have gone out the window when I spilled tears over the roasted chestnut soup fail…
but our feast was more than salvaged.
Ginger Roasted Kabocha Squash
handmade Sweet Potato Gnocchi & Fried Eggplant with Green Tea Cashew Cream
The squash was surprisingly filling with the gnocchi. We weren’t stuffed but definitely full. I didn’t realize how closely I played the line here.
Seduce Your Own Tastebuds Too
He loves pasta; but I am slightly intolerant to wheat. You don’t want any digestive discomfort to kill your own libido for the sake of his taste buds. Believe me, he won’t resent a little selfishness on your part here. 😉
When I think sexy food, I think fresh, clean, simple but with a little flair, hence the Green Tea Cashew Cream. Appealing appetizers & finger foods can be oh.so.sexy. What comes to your mind when thinking “sexy food”? Sexy for me does not come from a box, but you have to decide what works for you.
Speaking of you, your sexy thoughts can’t be limited to food. You have to own your own sexy. It has to be legit or he’ll see right through it — don’t try too hard — make it real. Guys dig a confident woman. Do whatever you need to do to know you are sexy. Love your arms? Fit in some weight training/toning earlier in the day & dress to show them off. Do you have the cutest toes ever? Paint them the sexiest shade of red you can find. Don’t dwell on insecurities! Play up your best feature.
Set the Mood
Lighting. Once, Dave draped a t-shirt over the lamp. It was the sexiest red lighting…& his shirt sports the burn scar to prove it.
Music. It doesn’t have to be cliche, what makes you feel sexy? Sometimes a little groovy electronica meets alternative…Idon’tknow, think Kenna – Free Time…does it for me.
Picnic by the Fire. It’s difficult to feel sexy if I’m freezing.
Drinks. [Proceed with caution; we’re not looking for a hangover here.] A little Reed’s ginger brew hit the spot for us.
It doesn’t have to be this generic — set your sexy mood. If burning candles arouse a deep-rooted fear of an ensnaring inferno, don’t burn candles.
Make Him Feel Like a Man.
Ask him to help with something manly — even if it’s reaching that serving bowl on the top shelf [why would you have put that there? ;)] or lighting the fire.
Don’t Forget Dessert
You might need a sweet palate cleanse, but remember the first rule & keep it delicate. I debated making truffles to feed each other — remember what I said about finger foods? — but opted for simple coconut ice cream with mandarin oranges & a small, soft ginger cookie. If dinner left you both on the verge of too full though, maybe you should scrap the sweets for the time being & opt for a different course of dessert…followed by the sweets of course. 😉
Cooking for others can be stressful; it’s easy to distract yourself with all the logistics of the meal. I tested it out to see if the stressed out, perplexed mad woman in the kitchen is indeed sexy. She’s not.
So, slow down, include him, enjoy your time together & connect —
there’s something fun & sexy about working with your hands together — even if he’s shelling chestnuts that didn’t roast quite right, which means no soup = no first course. Don’t cry over fails. Again, the sobbing lady in the apron: not sexy. Then again, it did give him a knight-in-shining-armor-moment…but, in general, I wouldn’t risk it.
So the food is finally ready & you can relax. Now don’t get so caught up in the delicious food, good conversation…that you forget the art of seduction. Touch his hand. Meet his eyes. Smile. Take charge. You just planned this entire, slammin’ evening because you.are.amazing. This isn’t the time to turn timid.
So put on that apron…just so you can take it off!
Green Tea Cashew Cream
[I’m proud of this & think I might be obsessed with tea-infused dishes now.]
Makes ~2 cups,
plenty for a lot of other uses which I’m discovering.
- 1 ¼ C cashews, toasted
- 1 C water
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 T Lemon Juice
- 1 tsp Matcha green tea
- pinch of salt
Combine all ingredients in a blender & blend to desired consistency.
Drizzle over finished gnocchi & eggplant.
Ginger-Roasted Kabocha Squash
Serves 2 – 4
- 1 kabocha squash, halved & seeded
- ½ – 1 T extra-virgin olive oil
- 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
- s & p
Preheat oven to 325*F & line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Rub the squash with olive oil & season with salt & pepper. Using a zester [or fine grater] grate the ginger over the squash & rub it into the flesh.
Transfer the squash to the prepared baking sheet, cut side down & roast for ~15 minutes, until the squash starts to soften.
Turn the squash cut side up & roast ~17 minutes longer, until tender; transfer to a work surface & let cool slightly.
Increase the oven temperature to 425*F.
Cut the squash into 1 ½-inch-thick wedges. Lightly rub the foil with oil & arrange the squash on the baking sheet.
Roast ~25 minutes, turning once halfway through, until golden & crisp along the edges.
We garnished with quick-pickled dried blueberries — which were really good — then drizzled the squash with the pickling liquid. I didn’t love the pickling dressing, so I will dress is with a gingery vinaigrette next time.
This is definitely one of my favorite ways to cook squash — the long roasting process is worth it & I love the ginger.
Sweet Potato Gnocchi
serves 2 – 4
[My first time making my own gnocchi, & this was tasty! The texture wasn’t perfect, but with practice I’m sure it eventually will be.]
- 2 sweet potatoes, baked & peeled [save the skins, fill them with pecans & maple & bake again for a yummy appetizer/treat]
- 1 scant C bread flour [the high gluten content will help the pasta set up while it’s cooking better than regular flour]
- (No salt! salt in the dough will make your gnocchi mushy)
While the squash roasts, prepare the gnocchi.
Shred the potatoes with a fork — the hotter the potatoes are during this step, the better the gnocchi will be — over a wide, flat surface to maximize contact with the air to help them dry out better [I forgot his part & think it would have helped make lighter gnocchi].
Let the potatoes cool/dry for 10 – 15 minutes, while you prep the eggplant.
Gather your cooled potatoes into a flat disc & sprinkle about ½ the flour over it. Work the dough with your hands, adding more flour if needed, until just combined. Do not overwork it! You probably won’t need the whole cup of flour. It should be soft, not sticky or crumbly. You must shape the dough immediately.
Roll some of the dough out into a long snake, about as thick as your thumb.
Cut the snake into little “pillows” & dust them with flour.
To shape, simply roll one of the pillows down the tines of a fork. The gnocchi should curl around your thumb: one side will be ridged, & the other side will have an indent in it, which helps to catch sauce.
Gently place the gnocchi into salted, boiling water. After a minute or two, the gnocchi will float to the surface. About 30 seconds after they begin floating, use a slotted spoon to remove them from the water, draining them well.
I then tossed them into an oiled pan to fry just a bit, [optional].
Plate with the eggplant & drizzle with cashew cream.
[adapted from Food & Wine, December 2010]
serves 2 – 4
- 1 small Japanese eggplant or half a regular eggplant, sliced into ½-inch rounds [quarter if using a regular eggplant]
- 2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs), crushed
- 2 flax”eggs” [2T ground flax + 6T warm water, whisk & allow to thicken]
- scant 1/3 C arrowroot
- oil for frying [I used grapeseed oil]
Sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt & let stand on a rack set over a rimmed baking sheet for 20 minutes.
Rinse & pat dry.
In a medium bowl, whisk flax “eggs” with the arrowroot powder.
Put the panko in a shallow bowl & season lightly with salt.
Dip the eggplant quarters in the arrowroot mixture, spreading it thinly with your fingers. Dredge the eggplant in the panko, pressing to help the crumbs adhere.
Transfer the eggplant to a baking sheet.
In a large skillet, heat ¼ inch of oil until shimmering. Add eggplant [in batches if necessary] & fry over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden & crisp, ~5 minutes.
Drain the eggplant on paper towels & sprinkle lightly with salt.
Transfer the eggplant to a wire rack and keep warm in the oven.
Do you have any special dishes for those special occasions?
1 Mon, 2010 § 11 Comments
Though I am not all that concerned with disguising myself as one of the dead to fool the spirits on the other side, I can get very into this whole dressing up thing. I spend weeks [even months] thinking of just the perfect couple for Dave & I to play pretend…but we didn’t really have plans this year…& I am no good at last-minute costumes anyway. But at the “last minute” on Wednesday, Rachel gave instructions for Project Tasteless Challenge #2:
Oh wait; but we aren’t dressing up. We are being totally lame doing exactly what we want: watching classic horror movies from the comfort of our temp home, enjoying good eats & waiting for trick-or-treaters.
I have no costume to inspire my pizza.
Or do I?
My sister in Utah was nice enough to send some photos she took. 🙂
What a perfect time to introduce you to these two kiddos.
Meet Daiqri & Darryus.
[my niece & nephew]
oh — I mean Snow White,
& is this Happy?
Oh, you’re B-A-shful!
& You must be Grumpy. 😀
& now I know just what we are making.
[Snow]White Bean & 7 Dwarf Toppings Pizza
I made Ashley’s (the [never]homemaker) Pumpkin Pizza Dough — it was my first homemade pizza dough success a few months back, so I am pretty partial to it, plus you just have to love that she incorporated pumpkin puree to maintain moisture & prevent burning during grilling. Genius! It also makes the best garlic knots. I prepared it according to her directions; the only changes I made was using all Spelt flour & adding ¼ cup ground Flaxseed.
First, you will need the [Snow]White Bean Spread, which you can make ahead of time while your dough rises.
- 1.5 C cooked White Beans
- bulb of roasted Garlic, mashed [roasting instructions below]
- 2 T EVOO
- ¼ C vegan Parmesan
- ¼ tsp sea salt
Combine ingredients in a food processor & puree until smooth, adding 2 T water during processing.
To roast garlic: peel away papery skin only, cut off top tips exposing the garlic, drizzle with EVOO & wrap in a square of tinfoil; roast at 350*F for ~30 minutes until soft; allow to cool & squeeze garlic out of the cloves with your fingers. [video here]
Vegan Parmesan, [from Angela]
- ½ C Sesame seeds, toasted [at 350*F until golden]
- 2 T Nutritional Yeast Flakes
- ¼ tsp sea salt
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Process for 30 – 60 seconds.
Now, is everyone in order?
off to work we go!
Begin layering your toppings over the bean spread.
a sprig of Rosemary
Finally, Butternut Squash
[thinly sliced & parboiled a few minutes to begin cooking process]
& don’t forget your vegan Parmesan
We popped this on the preheated grill [~425*F] & cooked [on a pizza stone] for ~10 minutes, but watch closely…a little more closely than I did because half of our pizza bottom nearly burned! Apparently the back of the grill burns hotter than the front.
Close call — a fortunate close call — because this was
The flavors worked so well together. Roasted garlic & rosemary playing with the butternut squash…occasional little bursts of sun-dried tomatoes…& I am very happy with my white bean spread; it lent a great texture — I didn’t even miss the cheese.
But don’t think I’m done with you yet.
I noticed these sad little apples in Christine’s crisper.
They are in need of some magic.
“Wait ’till you taste one, dearie. Like to try one? Go on. Go on, have a bite.”
Poison Wishing Apple Streusel Pizza
[makes 1 small, 8 – 10inch, pumpkin-shaped 😉 pizza]
Apple Topping with dried Cherries
- 2 small Apples, peeled & sliced thinly
- 1 T Earth Balance Butter
- 2 tsp Maple
- 2 tsp Sucanat
- ½ tsp Cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp Nutmeg
- pinch Sea Salt
- ¼ C dried Cherries [stir in last 30 seconds of cooking]
Combine in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring often, ~10 minutes until thickened.
Spread over prepared, uncooked pizza dough.
- 2 T Sucanat
- 1 T Earth Balance Butter
- 2 T Spelt flour
- ½ tsp Cinnamon
Stir together & sprinkle over apples.
- ¼ C Oats [I used a multi grain flake mixture]
- ¼ C Walnuts
Combine & toast at 350*F ~10 minutes, watching closely.
- 1.5 T Spelt flour
- pinch sea salt
- 1/8 tsp Cinnamon
Stir together & mix with oats & nuts.
- 1 T Grapeseed Oil
- 1 T Maple
- ¼ tsp Vanilla
Mix together & stir into dry ingredients.
Crumble over apples & streusel.
Bake [in an oven] at 425*F ~7 – 8 minutes to keep the crust nice & soft.
Mmm…you really can’t go wrong with baked apples & a sweet, crispy topping.
I hope you had a fun Halloween. How were You enjoying your night?
27 Wed, 2010 § 12 Comments
Yesterday I was thrilled & shocked to be announced as the winner of the 1st Challenge of Project Tasteless: Naked Chef…
…especially after losing it over the witty Bareass Contessa, drooling over Carolyn’s swirls [how did she do that so beautifully?!] & the “world’s best cookies” [her jogger/minimalist style matches my own when not “baring all”], totally getting Dori’s “weird” combination & adoring her coy seductiveness & developing a secret not-so-secret blog crush [I think it was the boots — & the pretty L.rolls — what can I say? she’s “classy” & sexy].
As if you could ever say no to homemade Crab Mac & Cheese, especially in this slutty 😉 saucy get-up, red heels & all!, sexy pancakes in bed [heels included?] or comfort food from a “domestic goddess”…
& if you “wanted” to participate & used the but-I-don’t-have-an-apron-excuse, you’ve just been owned by this truly skilled [with a cookie sheet] truly naked chef & this “saucey whore” [I had such a difficult time typing that].
From cleverly hijacking a parent’s kitchen to salvaging cupcakes in this too-cute-to-be-an-apron apron to “taking it off” for pumpkin manicotti to cute & saucy Eunice & her Purivian Ceviche [mmm, it’s been so too long since I had tilapia], ALL of the entries were FANTASTIC.
You’ll really want to check out ALL of the participants — & check them out you will. 😉
Starting off on a high note, the day could only stay there.
After intense bouldering near Prescott, coming home — famished — to homemade ravioli a la Christine was to die for & just the [re]fuel our bodies needed.
An expert at cooking mushrooms, her three-mushroom blend of shiitake, button & baby ports in white wine reduction was perfection: soft, yet with substance & no where near the realm of rubbery — it was better than many mushroom dishes I have had at restaurants.
Combined with Vegan Dad’s Tofu Ricotta, the filling was delicious & offered the perfect combination of textures to the pasta.
Impressed by Christine’s ravioli making skills?
& it’s the first time she has made pasta, if you can believe it — & she decided to go with ravioli! Props to Christine.
Add a little sauteed garlic & wilted chard
& we enjoyed a well-rounded, hearty & nourishing meal.
Don’t forget the Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce.
Another Vegan Dad winner [she used earth balance instead of margarine]; this is an amazing base need not stay with pasta only: an adventurous pizza anyone? how about a fun enchilada sauce?
It was delicious & the roasted peppers were distinct, but it needed just a little something…
After tweaking it a bit over the stove after dinner…adding a touch of sea salt, 1 – 2 tsp red pepper flakes, a dash of mirin cooking wine & some oregano [I actually used a pasta toss blend with oregano, basil, sun-dried tomatoes & garlic, but think simply oregano would do the trick] it had a much fuller bodied flavor.
Have you ever made homemade pasta?
I find it a bit intimidating & cumbersome [& we don’t have pasta all that often], but this was definitely well worth Christine’s hard work. 😉
22 Fri, 2010 § 22 Comments
Food Photography is my sweet spot; it’s not what gets Dave off. He is a different breed of photographer, gifted at capturing moments when people let their guards down — when they are raw & exposed.
If I wanted his photographic skills in the kitchen, I might need to use other means to lure him in…
& a bit of undressing.
Growing up, the crepes we begged my mom to make often were deemed danish pancakes with batter so laden in butter they were tinted yellow.
we savored inhaled these.
Could I make a healthier version without all of the eggs & butter?
Could I “undress” the traditional crepe, break down the components & recreate a vegan variation?
There are several vegan versions out there, but I wanted a bit more autumn flair. Pumpkin puree enhances my favorite pizza dough; could one of these beauties moisten my crepes?
Rachel had persuaded me to bare [nearly]all — wearing only an apron — while cooking.
With my inhibitions already lowered, there was no sense in holding back on a recipe that might surely fail.
I slipped on my apron [& house slippers] while Dave grabbed the space heater in an attempt to ward off the obvious October chill that filled the kitchen. I also thought it a good idea to throw a little warming ginger into the mix.
- ¾ C Spelt [all-purpose flour will yield lighter crepes; I just don’t digest it as well, so I usually stick to spelt]
- ¼ C Chickpea Flour
- dash Salt
- 1 T Arrowroot
- 1-2 tsp powdered Ginger
- 1 C Almond Milk
- ¼ C Pumpkin Puree
- 2 T Maple Syrup
Whisk into dry ingredients until smooth.
Chill in the refrigerator at least one hour.
Most suggest heating the pan over med-high heat, but I found using a lower heat allowed me to spread the batter more evenly before it started cooking to the pan.
The pan is ready when a few flicked drops of water sizzle upon contact.
Spray the pan with cooking spray or rub the end of an EB stick across the pan [my preferred method].
Pour batter into the center [maybe 1/3 C?? I just eye it — you’ll figure it out after a couple! ;)] & holding the pan firmly by the handle, use your wrist to tilt the pan in a circular motion, spreading the batter in a thin layer across the bottom.
Cook until the top of the crepe is dry, the center bubbly & the edges appear firm & lightly browned when lifted with a spatula, ~1 – 2 minutes.
Gently run the spatula under the crepe to loosen it, then flip to the other side ~30 seconds – 1 minute.
Slide it onto a plate, loosely cover with foil & place in the oven on warm.
Continue cooking until you have a nice stack of crepes to “dress”. [These also keep well wrapped in plastic in the fridge for later consumption ;)]
Though I used only a small portion of chickpea flour, it was quite distinct. I love it in my favorite pie crust, but I will probably leave it out of future crepes. Do not expect to taste a lot of pumpkin either — you are not meant to — that is one of the great things about pumpkin-infused dough: it offers moisture without leaving more than a trace of its flavor. If you want that “pumpkin” kick, try adding pumpkin spice to the mix.
These were not as delicate as traditional crepes, but tasty none-the-less, & we just couldn’t leave them naked.
do you like it slow & sultry?
prefer a sweet tease?
perhaps pure temptation?
Even if you simply stick with your favorite tried & true crepe recipe, you must treat yourself to one [or all] of these enticements.
I know just what to do with you. 😉
Rum-Kissed Caramelized Pear
adapted from here
- slice of lemon
Peel, core & half the pear.
Rub the entire surface with the lemon slice.
- ½ T Earth Balance Butter
Melt in a pot over med-low heat.
- 1 T Brown Rice Syrup
- 1/8 tsp All Spice
Add & stir.
- 2 T Apple Juice
Place pear halves in the pot, flat-side down.
Lower heat & simmer 15 minutes.
Flip pears round-side down for 10 minutes longer.
Remove pears & slice.
- ½ T Dark Rum
Stir into pot & simmer 1 minute.
Remove from heat & return pear slices, carefully coating with syrup.
Dress crepe with ~3 pear slices & drizzle with syrup.
Garnish with toasted walnuts.
Not overly sweet, the all spice jazzes up the pear simply. The rum is subtle — & while you could make it without — I am going to deem it crucial. I just may finish this sauce off over ice cream.
I definitely need to get my hands on some coconut ice cream.
Maple-Infused Red Bean Paste
Cook ½ Cup Adzuki beans.
Mash or process.
[to create a smoother paste, press cooked beans through a mesh strainer, leaving the skins behind]
Heat the mashed beans in a pot over med-low heat with ¼ C Maple Syrup, stirring often, until thick & glossy.
Slather over crepe & sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.
You know how black stilettos are usually sexier than white heels? That’s how I feel about these sesame seeds. Alas, I only had light ones.
This was my first time with red bean paste [a star in many Asian desserts], & I just may be infatuated. I am not ashamed to say I ate it straight from the pot with a spoon. Add a splash of rice milk…mmm…I might be unavailable for the rest of the afternoon. 😉
Spinach & Chevre Temptation
Nothing too fancy here, but the quality of the ingredients is what makes this oh.so.tempting. A nice goat cheese, like Four Pepper Montchevre, makes an ideal center fold. We simply sauteed baby spinach in EVOO until just wilted to complement the sexy chevre.
Ever cooked “naked”? 😉