Reflections

I’ve been writing for Examiner.com for a month now. It’s been taking me a bit of time to find my voice. I know, here, that I have a clearly defined point of view. I didn’t really think about the challenges of trying to adapt my style to a second or third person.

I was initially focused on it from a reporting standpoint. There are periodically events, but mostly it’s just me talking about random restaurants in the area, or sharing recipes. This month they’ve been running an incentive though. There’s a flat payment for list items. (OH pay per click, I love you and hate you at the same time).   So I have been cranking them out because.. hey, I like money. 

It turns out that I am really able to be ME when I’m doing a list. It’s easier in short format.     I feel that it will be easier for me to adapt that into my longer articles now. I am starting to really enjoy this format. It allows me to act as a subject matter expert, rather than a just telling you about a restaurant or some place I went.. I can tell you about what I know. The things that I’ve done. Essentially I am making it about me and I like that.  

I’ve always been a decent written communicator, but writing is entirely different for me now because I’m not just focused on what I’m saying and whether I find it funny..  I have to be focused on my audience and whether THEY find it interesting/funny/useful. I am more focused now on adding value to my writing instead of just word vomiting the stuff in my head out on the page.

Oh, growing pains.

http://www.examiner.com/gourmet-food-in-glendale-ca/michelle-borek 

For those interested parties, my articles/lists/reviews/recipes can be found above. 

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Strange Bedfellows: Tofu with Hollandaise Sauce

I’ve been thinking a lot about flavor profiles, and how I can get what I want out of my food without the meat or excessive sodium. Prior to today, I’ve really been phoning it in. Slapping a piece of fish on a pan, broiling it, and doing some veg. While an altogether passable meal at most times..

I felt the artist in me dying a little. I do think of cooking as art. I take things that are otherwise unrelated and turn them into something entirely different. That something is beautiful, and also edible. Bam. Artist. See?

Anyway, so I am blogging about bacon like a whiner, and woefully lamenting my dying inner artist (which secretly I will continue to do inside forEVER when it comes to the loss of bacon) when it hits me. While I am purposely limiting the types of foods that I take in, I DON’T have to limit my creativity. I think to myself, what do you want that you haven’t had in a while that isn’t bacon?

I came up blank for a bit, but then I was like.. steak.. SHIT. Can’t have that either. I continued to ponder and thought … what about …mmmm eggs benedict.. then I thought, ‘FUCK. Canadian bacon.’  and then kept thinking how it would be total bullshit without the bacon.. however, I could work with a poached egg and some hollandaise sauce. I decided no on the poached egg, but YES on the hollandaise.

Alright now I’ve got one component of dinner now. What do I serve with it? Fish is the obvious choice for an entree but.. I gotta tell you. If I see another piece of fucking broiled fish any time soon, I’m gonna die. Literally. I’m just gonna die.

My brain continues to work on this through out the day when I should’ve been working. Finally I am settled on the tofu I picked up when I was being a good little vegetarian. Tofu sucks, for the most part. The texture is squishy, and it reminds me of egg whites in that it has no flavor. I don’t care how you marinate it, whether that shit is baked… It’s bland and texturally … yucky. I’ve got it, but now what to do with it?

I decide since I am doing hollandaise, I really need a textural contrast. I can’t have watery floppy food with my precious hollandaise. I just won’t do that. I decide I am gonna bake it.. and then I think about how hot it is outside and veto it. Pan frying it is!

I sliced and crispified several pieces of extra firm tofu. I whipped up my hollandaise..

1 lemon, juiced
4 egg yolks
1 stick butter, cubes
Salt and Pepper

Add the the lemon and yolk to a glass or metal bowl, whisk thoroughly until foamy and lighter in color. Place on top of a sauce pan with simmering water. Add the cubes of butter one or two at a time and literally beat the hell out of it so the egg doesn’t cook. Don’t switch the laundry, don’t change the song on your Ipod. Whisk. Once the butter is encorporated, your sauce will look thick and pretty. Salt and pepper  it. Pour over the tofu lovingly.

Julia Child says white pepper, btw. I say, use what you have. Clearly I’m more reliable right? 😀

So now I’ve got this amazeballs entree, but nothing to go with. I think, ‘What would be pretty but quick because this is already too much manual labor for a work day?’

Pureed Peas and Garlic.

1 small bag of frozen peas
1 clove garlic minced
Salt and Pepper
Use your previously simmering water and cook the peas until warmed through. Mince garlic. Add cooked peas, 1/4 cup cooking liquid and raw garlic to a mini prep, bullet, food processor, stick blender or whatever chopping device you use. Blend until smooth but not liquefied.

Tofu with Hollandaise Sauce and Garlic Pea Puree.

Tofu with Hollandaise Sauce and Garlic Pea Puree.

 

 

Posted in Bad Food That Tastes Great, Cooking, deep thoughts, Food, French Food, Organic, Putzing in the kitchen, Rambling, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

An Open Love Letter to Bacon

As you may have noticed, I’ve gone vegetarian for the most part. I still eat fish but the overwhelming majority of the time… no meat. I do this not because animals have faces.. or because I feel a deep, moral dilemma. It’s strictly because I feel a ton better when I don’t indulge in meat. My digestion is happier. I am happier because of this. Do I miss steak? Yes. Do I miss pork chops? Yes.  Do I miss bacon? EVERY. FREAKING. DAY.

Furthermore, since I’ve come back to blogging about vegetarian or fish dishes.. it doesn’t have the same ZING. I don’t have the same feelings about food that I used to have. I don’t enjoy putzing in the kitchen as much. Eating has become about health and necessity more than enjoyment. That is depressing. 

I was having a conversation about this with a writer friend of mine, and he suggested that I write about what I miss. While I think it’s both cathartic and masochistic at the same time..  I decided it was a good idea.

So bacon, this next one’s for you… *winky face*

Bacon,

I remember the first time we ever met. I was a young girl, standing next to my mother in the kitchen as she cooked Sunday breakfast. She slid something down to me and said, ‘Try this.’..  That’s when I knew bacon, that it would be you and me forever.

Over the years I’ve tried to broaden my horizons.. to know as much about you as I possibly can. I’ve had canadian bacon, cured bacon, smoked bacon, pancetta, thick cut bacon, bacon in a dessert.. 

Nothing really topped the times that I made you from scratch in my kitchen, seasoned and cured in brown sugar and maple syrup, just how I like. Your super thick cut slabs, fried until brown and crispy.. (but not too crispy because then you’re dry and crumbly and that is no bueno. I treat you better than that, baby).

Though I deeply love you, I’m sure you’ve noticed that I don’t come around lately. I don’t want you to take this personally, because.. it really is me, and not you..but our relationship has become somewhat discordant. I feel like we should part ways for a little bit, while I have a deep love and respect for you. 

Maybe in time, we can learn live harmoniously again. I hope.. I wish.

*wistful sigh*

Goodbye, old friend. 

 

On a more serious note, I need to do some brain storming about how to make my happy kitchen time happy again. More on this soon.

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Fresh Corn Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

As promised, I was able to get back into the kitchen today. I’ve had this sweet corn from the farmer’s market hanging out in the fridge for a little while now, I figured it was time to use or lose it. 

I started by stripping all the corn off the cob because.. well, I hate corn on the cob. It gets in the teeth, and yeah.. That’s enough, right?

 

Image

 

This one was simple.

Ingredients:

4 cobs of corn, de-cobbed
2 limes, juiced
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp minced cilantro
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything except the corn together in a bowl or measuring cup. Whisk thoroughly to combine.

Mix into corn. 

See.. I said it was easy!

 

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Hiatus

Sorry for the brief hiatus. The last few days have been super crummy. My car was stolen, and I’ve been running around trying to take care of all of the repercussions from that. Tomorrow, expect something awesome. Or at least edible.  😉

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Mediterranean Cous Cous Salad

After a long day of running errands and being generally awesome, I decided that a light dinner was in order… mostly because I was tired and didn’t feel like doing anything ultra fancy.

Confluent Boyfriend and I took a trip to the grocery store where I proceeded to buy what can only be described as a butt ton of vegetables… I was going to do a ratatouille, but when I finally ambled into the kitchen, I gravitated toward the goat cheese.. which is very UN-ratatouille like.

Tons of crisp, tasty veg

Tons of crisp, tasty veg

1 cup cous cous
1 and 1/4 cup water
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 medium cucumber, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
10-12 mushrooms, diced
10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
2 oz goat cheese, crumbled

  1. Pour water and 1 tbsp olive oil into a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil
  2. Once at a boil, add cous cous, remove from heat, and cover
  3. Add remaining olive oil, garlic, oregano and vinegar to a bowl. Whisk thoroughly.
  4. Once cous cous has soaked for approximately 10 minutes, fluff
  5. Add vegetables, dressing and cheese
mediterranean cous cous salad

The final product.

Posted in Cooking, examiner, Food, Organic, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mise en Place: Sara Moulton, I respectfully disagree

I was playing on the interwebs recently and ran across a post on Sara Moulton’s blog about mise en place. Now, I wasn’t always a subscriber to the whole concept of prepping ingredients. In my early cooking days, I was more a ‘lets wing it, shall we?’ kind of gal.

As I experiment with more difficult concepts.. cheese making, meat curing, indian cuisines.. or with things that require fast cooking, or baking… the more I have come to rely heavily on the process.

My love affair with prepping and measuring

My love affair with prepping and measuring

In her blog she describes her process for a specific recipe.. how she will turn the pan on, add the oil, chop the onion, etc. My contention when I read this is that she probably has pretty good knife skills. Mine? Not BAD, but definitely not on par with the culinary trained. For her to, as a blanket, say that mise en place is kind of worthless does a disservice to the burgeoning home cook.

Will someone who can barely (or even just adequately) use a knife be able to peel and dice an onion, and two cloves of garlic before the oil over medium heat turns into a raging inferno?? Probably not.

Some of the commenters talk about the kitchen being a well timed symphony.. but this is a false analogy as well. It’s not like the violinists start playing when they trot in the door. They sit down, take their instruments and music out.. it’s a PROCESS.

I can definitely get behind each person having their own style and preference, but .. I prefer a pace in my kitchen that isn’t frenetic. If I ‘waste’ 10 minutes cutting and portioning items, then I can have a nice cooking experience in which I don’t run around like a maniac.

But hey, that’s just my two cents.

Posted in Rambling, writing | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments