Friday, May 31, 2013

best nachos ever

I am always excited to make it to my parents' town, especially when the trip includes a visit to the ever-delicious San Pedro Cafe (which it does nearly every time!). Their menu boasts many Caribbean dishes that I might like to try, but we rarely order anything but their chicken and duck nachos--one of each, please!

In my mind, the greatest feature of these so-called appetizers is the zesty lemon habanero aioli. It is really quite spicy, but my dad always orders an extra side of the sauce! The fresh salsas on each type of nacho are as delicious as they are different. There must be at least 3 avocados in the chicken nacho's thick guacamole-like "avocado salsa". The sweet fruity salsa on the duck nacho is a refreshing complement to the salty smoked duck strips.

smoked duck nachos with mozzerella cheese, pico de gallo, tropical-mango salsa, and lemon habanero aioli

smoked chicken nachos with cheddar, pico de gallo, avocado salsa, and lemon habanero aioli

If you're in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area, check out San Pedro!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


In the last month or so we've made it to two tasty Asian restaurants in Madison, one Korean and one Laotian. I'm tired and not in the mood to elaborate much. I'll let the photos speak for themselves.

New Seoul Korean Restaurant
2503 University Avenue
Madison, WI
(608) 238-3331

bibim bop with beef

fried chicken with spicy sauce

Lao Laan-Xang
1146 Williamson Street
Madison, WI
(608) 280-0104

garlic chicken with mushrooms

sum thom with fried chicken and sticky rice

Saturday, May 25, 2013

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

schoolmarm style

high-waisted skirt and scarf, thrifted
boatneck top, American Apparel
shoes, Urban Outfitters

new lipstick: my version of red lips

Thursday, May 16, 2013

early spring warmth

We're still at a point in the spring season where we'll see chilly and rainy and generally miserable days, so I still need soup.  But I'm definitely getting to the point where I want lighter, more vegetable-based foods.  This soup provided a nice balance.

I love Cook's Country's take on posole, but I can only take that fatty, pork-filled stew so often.  This potato soup begins with a similar pureed onion and chili base.  I opted for a can of crushed fire-roasted tomatoes instead of crushed fresh, but if you have nice fresh tomatoes around, go for it.

I also wanted to add another texture or flavor, and debated between frozen sweet corn or hominy.  I decided on hominy this time to keep the flavors smoky and earthy like the pork posole.  If I make this later into the spring or summer it would be nice to use frozen or fresh sweet corn to brighten up the whole soup.

Mexican Potato Soup
adapted from Serious Eats
1 lb boiling potatoes, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
Kosher salt 
28-oz can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes or 3 large red ripe tomatoes, about 1 1/4 pounds, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 canned chipotle in adobo sauce, coarsely chopped
2 c homemade chicken or vegetable stock (of course, go for veggie broth if you want it vegetarian)
28-oz can hominy (optional)
1/3 c cilantro, finely chopped
Place in large saucepan and cover with water by about three inches. Season water with salt. Bring to a boil and cook until tender but firm to the bite (potatoes will cook further in step 2). Drain potatoes and set aside. Meanwhile, blend tomatoes, onion, garlic, and chipotle pepper in blender at high speed until smooth, about 30 seconds.
Pour tomato mixture into large saucepan. Add vegetable stock and potatoes. Stir to combine and season to taste with salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are completely tender, about 7 to 8 minutes. For thicker broth, mash a few potatoes against side of pot with wooden spoon. Add cilantro and hominy (if using) simmer for 2 minutes longer, or until hominy is warm. Serve immediately with extra cilantro and sour cream (I use Greek yogurt) as desired. 


Monday, May 13, 2013

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Thursday, May 9, 2013

this was really good

asparagus tofu stir-fry (on my cupcake-aproned lap)

Last week we used asparagus and spring onions from our first CSA box of the season to make a tofu-based stir-fry. I took some liberties with the recipe, including leaving out the spinach, basil, and mint (I didn't have spinach or basil and Matt doesn't like mint). I used more garlic than it called for, which was not a mistake.

I also opted for Wildwood brand super-firm tofu instead of the suggested extra-firm. My philosophy when stir-frying tofu is this--the firmer the better. I've had extra-firm tofu fall apart and turn to scrambled-egg texture too many times. Maybe I'm just not gentle enough, but I am a total convert to this Wildwood stuff. It has that lovely firmness that I usually attribute to restaurant tofu.

Do take the recipe's advice to have all your ingredients prepped ahead. This dish fries up quite quickly. Do include the lime zest and juice. It added a nice bit of sweetness and tang.

Asparagus Stir-Fry
adapted from 101 Cookbooks (printable version available through link)

toasted sesame oil
8 oz super firm tofu, cut into strips the width of a pencil
4 green onions, thinly sliced
scant 1 tbsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 lb or bunch asparagus, trimmed and sliced into 1-inch chunks
a couple big pinches fine-grain sea salt
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 big handful cashews, chopped up a bit
a few handfuls of spinach or other greens, optional
zest and juice of one lime
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 small handful each slivered mint and/or basil, optional

Have all your ingredients prepped and within arms reach of the stove. Heat a splash of sesame oil in a large pan, or well-seasoned wok over medium high heat. Alternately, you can do this in a dry non-stick pan - one of the few occasions I still use non-stick. When it is hot, add the tofu, and cook until golden - a few minutes. Remove the tofu from the pan and set aside.

Add another (generous) splash of oil to the pan and, as soon as it is hot, add the onions, ginger, red pepper flakes, asparagus, and salt. Stir fry for about a minute, then add the garlic, cashews, and spinach and stir-fry for another minute, or until the spinach wilts. Return the tofu to the pan. Stir in the lime zest and juice and the hoisin sauce. Cook for another 10-20 seconds, stirring all the while.

Remove from heat and stir in the mint and basil if using. Taste and add a bit more salt if needed.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

more sweets

It's been a long time since I've posted, but I have been very busy preparing for and getting through my first week of teaching first grade. I thought I'd take a breather and make a post.

I've recently discovered that I can actually handle some amount of baking without inviting catastrophe. Anxious to try out my try out my newly realized skills, last weekend before school started I tried out another recipe for baked goods from Silver Screen Suppers. I made Norwegian ice skater-turned-actress Sonja Henie's Scandinavian cookies. They were so good, they just made me want to visit Scandinavia even more.

Sonja Henie's Scandinavian cookies

Much like the banana shortbread cookies I made earlier this summer, these cookies were buttery, crumbly, and subtly sweet. They will definitely be a repeat recipe. The instructions only specified that I use chopped nuts and jelly, so I chose pecans and homemade raspberry jam, which both turned out to be great choices.

Check out the excellent sugar-free raspberry jam and strawberry preserve recipes that I used this summer.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

new specs/more talk

glasses, Persol
scarf, thrifted

I thought I should also add a few things to my post from yesterday:

1. I'm certainly not perfect. I still eat conventionally-raised meat, but I try to keep pushing myself closer to my goals.

2. I respect vegetarians and vegans and their right to hold their own beliefs about what's right for animals and for their own health. We're all just trying to do our best.

3. Though we eat meat, Matt and I do try to eat "low on the food chain", or eat more plants and grains than meat. To do that, we stretch meat into several meals (1 lb. ground meat usually makes 2 meals, we add TVP to meals like tacos). I also try to make meat a special treat in a meal, or a small component, instead of the main event at the dinner table. In addition, I aim for 25-50% of our meals each week to be completely vegetarian. And we eat our leftovers--we don't throw meat away!