Thursday, April 14, 2011

I recycle, so consider me “green”

As someone who doesn’t really love leftovers, I’m always looking for ways to reuse what I’ve previously cooked in a new and creative way. A couple of months ago, the roommates and I decided to make a big Sunday brunch and used some grits from earlier in the week along with ham and goat cheese to make unbelievable grit cakes. I used this same idea for a late Sunday lunch a few weekends ago and apologize for not posting it here sooner.

I used the shrimp, bacon, white bean, sage and tomato (Tyler Florence recipe, remember?) leftovers to make grit cakes round two. I didn’t have leftover grits so I whipped some up, let them sit for a bit to firm up, and formed them into cakes. The secret to cooking these is definitely a non-stick pan and greasing the pan with a bit of butter first. I made sure to season the grits with a little Cholula (my favorite thing to add to grits!) and a tiny but of cheese as well (duh) and some finely chopped scallions. Man, were they good! I mean, I really do love anything that involves grits so I knew I was going to love this dish.

Believe me, I have tried every method and type of grits it seems and have honestly found the best grits are made with the Quaker 5 minute type straight from your average grocery store. I have used Anson organic, every version you can buy at grocery stores (including White Lily-both varieties) between here and Columbia, and even added white corn that I smashed up to get the right consistency and flavor and still find this brand to be the absolute best. I add literally everything I can find to my grits when I make them and have been known to use: string cheese, cream cheese, grated parmesan, Cholula (!), scallions, red pepper flakes, paprika, dry mustard, and of course, Kraft American cheese. Here’s what I usually do: boil water, add a little milk (I rarely use heavy cream in anything), and a splash of chicken stock. Add the grits and keep adding liquid (I prefer the milk here) until they are fluffy or the consistency you like. You want them to be smooth for the most part and really not taste “gritty”. Then add whatever you like. Lots of salt, pepper, butter, and Kraft Singles are a must for me. But, I only add the cheese at the very end and gently fold it in or else it completely disappears. Voila- Southern cheese grits right in your own kitchen.

If you have any new recipe suggestions I should try or good recipe "recycles", please post them here!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The plight of the 6 minute egg

Okay, so a few weeks ago (again, sorry for being a tad behind in the posts) I made a salad with what was supposed to have a lovely “6 minute egg” on top. The night I made this alleged salad happened to be at the end of a very long week and one where every night had featured a new dinner so needless to say, I wasn’t really paying attention. It was only 7 days after the start of the “one new recipe every week” adventure and I was already sick of following someone else’s directions. I was annoyed at the fact I had to do things Tyler’s way and couldn’t just whip up whatever so I guess my brain was doing what I really wanted to do and that was not pay attention at all to these damn eggs. The first go-round they were so gooey I couldn’t even get the shell off—undercooked. I think it's because I didn't bother to use the timer (something I rarely rely on) and just went for it thinking they would automatically be cooked correctly. So, I did what any budget cook would do and put those same eggs back in the pot and turned the water back on. That’s where I went wrong. They were supposed to just sit in the hot water. When I took them out a few minutes later, they were hard-boiled. Not AT ALL what I wanted and I must say I was pretty annoyed. These 4 little hard boiled eggs made me feel defeated and like a total amateur (which I am, but still) and I completely doubted any cooking ability I had. The salad still turned out okay but I couldn’t help imagine how it would have tasted if they had been true 6 minute eggs. So, I tried again. 

Last week, I had some extra time one afternoon, didn’t feel rushed, and figured what the heck? If it doesn’t work out, oh well. No one is here watching this so whatever. I googled 6 minute eggs and found the Voltaggio brothers' blog with detailed directions. I completely trust them since they were on Top Chef and decided to follow the recipe exactly. I added 2 eggs to a pot, filled it with just enough water to cover them, and when it boiled turned off the eye and started the 6 minute countdown. After the 6 minutes was up I put them in a bowl of ice water and cracked them gently to remove the shell which was somewhat tedious but no one was looking so to me, they were just right. They came out…perfect. They were soft and a little runny and everything I had imagined a few weeks before. I added a little salt, pepper, tiny bit of shredded cheddar (of course) and put them on toasted French bread. This was a fantastic lunch! I was filled up but didn’t feel stuffed and was so happy to have mastered these seemingly simple eggs. If only there was a stove in the break room at work…

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Chimichurri is really fun to say

So, I decided for last week's new meal, to cook something from the food network website. I knew I wanted it to be something different I just wasn't quite sure yet what. I clicked on budget meals from the homepage and instantly was drawn to the grilled steak with green beans and chimichurri sauce recipe. We don't cook steak all that often so I decided to go for it. And, chimichurri is really fun to say.

I bought 2 giant bunches of cilantro and parsley (not by choice--who needs that much parsley?!) and added them with the other ingredients to make the sauce. I tasted it and tasted exactly like...vinegar. With parsley mixed in. So, I added more of everything, a little parmesan, siracha, and tried it again and it was much better this time; more like a pesto with cilantro and a little spice added in. I ended up buying a 3 pack of sirloin steaks and it fed 5 people and we even had a little bit left over which is definitely worth it. The green beans and tomatoes were cooked in foil on the grill and I have to say, were pretty darn delicious. They were the perfect almost-summer veggie to compliment the steak. I left FG to handle the grilling so all in all this was an incredibly easy meal to prepare and took only about 30 minutes from start to finish. Of course I added a little feta to the chimichurri at the end, just for good measure.

Steak with Chimichurri and feta, grilled green beans and tomatoes, rice pilaf, and bread