Monday, December 26, 2011

Flexing Some Mussels

If you're looking for a simple meal that is flavorful but light, mussels cooked in a white wine sauce is an excellent selection. Last week, I had just returned from a trip to Colorado and didn't feel like cooking. My flight home was overnight, and I was tired and a bit cranky, so my wonderful girlfriend treated me to a homemade meal of mussels and fries. My girlfriend is a very good cook, and while she often defers the meal preparation to me, she can handle herself very well in the kitchen. This meal, which looks and tastes great, is a really easy and fast dish that looks impressive and is fun to eat.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Lamb for Levi!

Three weeks ago, my sister gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy named Levi. She lives out in Colorado, so I flew from NY to go visit and see my little nephew. He is CUTE!! Obviously, I'm biased being that he's my nephew, but he is a really cute little baby.

On top of Levi being born, my father was celebrating his birthday that weekend as well (and my brother in law's birthday was later in the week, December birthdays abound!) As my father and I are accustomed to do, we decided to make a delicious meal in CO to celebrate all of the momentous occasions surrounding our visit. We decided on a nice Colorado boneless leg of lamb with butternut squash risotto and green beans. If you're reading this on Christmas, and you can find a store that's open, you still have time to make this dish!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Soup and Sandwich? Make it yourself!

Sometimes a simple soup and sandwich is all you want on a Sunday night. While the easy solution would be ordering in or picking the meal up from the store, there is a really easy way to make this meal for yourself so you'll have leftovers for the week and feel like you've actually done something productive with your Sunday. This is an extremely healthy and tasty meal that won't take more than 30 minutes to prep and cook. The soup I decided to make was a potato, carrot, and leek soup, and the sandwich was mushroom, spinach, pepper, and onion with boursin cheese.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mac and Cheer?

My good friend Erin was planning a holiday party, and she asked me to make something for the food spread. Erin throws a really mean party, so I of course obliged and wanted to make a crowd pleaser. One of my favorite indulgent dishes is mac and cheese. While some people shy away from making a really unhealthy mac, I figure it is the holiday season, so what's a little more butter, bacon, and cheese going to do to our already expanding waistlines. The party was a lot of fun and the mac and cheese was a tasty addition to Erin's spread of ham croissant sandwiches, vegetable platters, quiches, and dessert treats. We all gathered around the tree and drank ourselves silly; a truly successful holiday party.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

An Old Fashioned Steak Trade

I'm a good cook, and I generally feel very comfortable in the kitchen. When it comes to using a camera, my cousin Adam is the expert. He does freelance video and photography in his spare time, and he is very good at maximizing a camera and then improving the shots in Photoshop. We decided on a steak dinner trade. I would give him and his girlfriend a cooking lesson, and he would give me and my girlfriend a camera lesson. A reasonably fair tradeoff, and a good excuse to spend some quality time together.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Parchment Paper Steamed Fish

A very interesting way to prepare food is by steaming in parchment paper. You can toss all of your ingredients in a pouch, pop it in the oven, and once done, you've got a beautifully presented, delicious and healthy meal. It also makes for very easy clean up. Parchment paper cooked fish is a very fresh and tasty meal that has a very nice aesthetic.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Sunday Night Dilemma: Pasta with Ham and Peas

Ah the weekly Sunday dilemma: Do I go food shopping for the week? Do I order Chinese food and feel gross afterwards? Do I rummage through the fridge to see what I can re purpose into some sort of dinner? Each has its pros and cons:

Shopping is very proactive and will be very satisfying once it's done and your fridge is full, but do you really want to face those crowds? And what if you miss the 4th quarter of the 4pm football games? And that sofa is just so comfortable!

Chinese food is delicious and satisfying at the time, but you know that you're going to immediately regret getting that order of General Gao's chicken, and the leftovers will tempt you for lunch or dinner the next day.

Your final option is the fridge scrounge. You know there has to be something in the fridge that can work for a meal, so you dive in. This past Sunday, I went for the fridge raid, and to my delight, I found leftover Thanksgiving ham, frozen peas, a shallot, garlic, and some angel hair pasta. Mix that with some wine, butter and flour, and we've got ourselves a dinner! Pasta with ham and peas in a white wine sauce is a really comforting, easy to make dish that will satisfy your Sunday dilemma and make for an excellent and reasonably healthy lunch the next day.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Ah Thanksgiving, the truly American holiday. Completely unaffiliated with any type of religion and dedicated entirely to gorging on heavy food and watching football (and spending time with family, giving thanks, etc.) Due to my recent food blogging lifestyle, I was especially excited for Thanksgiving this year. My parents hosted it at their apartment, so my dad and I cooked everything for the meal. We didn’t stray too far from the Thanksgiving standards, but we made an impressive spread that delivered across the board. 18 family members were there for the holiday and we all had a wonderful time talking, eating, and enjoying the Thanksgiving spirit.

Click on the links below to go to the page for each menu item:

Cranberry Relish and Cranberry Chutney (External Recipes)

The Tale of Two Turkeys

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Well, it really was just the best of times, but I couldn’t leave Dickens hanging with a title like that. My dad and I wanted to do two very different preparations for the turkeys this year. We bought two 10 lbs turkeys for the 18 person feast, and we each took the mantle of preparing one. For the one I made, I decided to use a slow cooking “oven smoked” method. The slow cooking method uses a sauce called liquid smoke, which is made from distilling smoke through water. Liquid smoke can be found at most supermarkets with the BBQ sauce. For more info on how liquid smoke is made click here. My dad decided on a high heat, fast cooking method. This is a simple way to cook any poultry, and similar cooking styles have been featured on Ty’s Kitchen before with chicken. Both turkeys were delicious, moist, and very different.

Turkey Gravy

Any turkey meal is incomplete without some good turkey gravy to go along with it. Gravy is pretty simple to make and all you need is the neck that comes with the turkey, some vegetables and spices, water, and time to let it simmer. For this gravy, my dad and I used the neck to make a turkey stock, reserved some of it for the stuffing and mashed potatoes, and used the rest for the gravy along with the giblets (gizzard and heart).

Mushroom, Oyster, and Sausage Stuffing

I am a big fan of Thanksgiving stuffing, but when you think of it conceptually, it’s a pretty silly dish. You take croutons or toasted bread, douse it in stock, mix it with meat, veggies, shellfish, or anything else you want, and bake it. You’re basically taking bread, drying it out, moistening it up, mixing it with some other ingredients and then drying it out again. It’s almost like a very confused sandwich (and for anyone who’s had a Thanksgiving sandwich, that is an even bigger and more delicious conundrum) For our stuffing this year, we made two variations on the same theme. Both of them were basic mushroom and sausage stuffing, but one was made with oysters, walnuts and cornbread.

Roasted Butternut Squash

Squash is the fruit of fall (technically the gourd of fall). I love the warm and sweet taste of squash, and it’s mild flavor works really well with any seasoning and any other ingredients. Butternut squash has such a nice flavor on its own that little is needed to make a really tasty dish with it. For this dish, I did a very simple preparation, and the results were full of flavor.

Roasted Cauliflower

As I’ve said in previous posts, I love cauliflower. It has a milder flavor than broccoli and lends itself better to taking on the flavor of seasoning. For the cauliflower on Thanksgiving, I did a repeat of a similar cauliflower dish from my Turkey Burger post. The cauliflower was delicious but sadly went under the radar next to all of the other delicious items on the menu. I think cauliflower is generally and underappreciated veggie, and while I had high hopes for fame and accolades for the underdog veggie, we ended up having a lot left over. The sad story of a vegetable gone unnoticed like a famous artist only appreciated post-mortem; we’ll see how this story ends.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

I hate to sound over confident, but I feel that I’ve mastered the art of mashed potatoes (or at least the way I like them, everyone has their preference). I hate to divulge my secret, but I don’t want anyone to miss experiencing the deliciousness of a solid mash. The key is in the butter. I used to just add pats of butter to mashed up potatoes, but then I said, “Tyler, we can do more with these potatoes than just add butter and mix it up” (yes, from time to time, I speak to myself in the third person plural). I started simmering chopped garlic in the butter before incorporating it into the potatoes and from that day, my mashed potatoes recipe was one of lore.

Fried Brussel Sprouts with Cranberries and Bacon

All parts of the title of this dish are delicious. Brussel sprouts are always a favorite side of mine, and combined with the rich flavor of bacon and the tart flavor of cranberries, they are a formidable dish. Now take that, and fry it. Yeah, I went there. The one part of this dish to be careful about is not crowding the sprouts while frying. I learned this the hard way because I was pressed for time and didn’t divvy up the sprouts in enough batches. In my impatience, the sprouts weren’t able to really crisp up while frying. The dish was really delicious, and the flavors were very complex, but it didn’t have the crispy component I was looking for when I dreamt up the dish. Next time, I will know, DON’T CROWD THE BRUSSEL SPROUTS!

Braised Green Beans with Tomatoes and Onions

Out of ideas for a side? Sick of slaving over the stove? This is a dish for you! The only difficult part of this dish is cutting the ends off of the green beans. Once this is done, all you need to do is put the ingredients in a pot and put it on the stove. Seriously, that’s it. Very easy, very healthy, and very delicious, this is a simple dish that is good all winter long and tastes like it took way more work than it did. Feel free to embellish the amount of effort so your friends are even more impressed with you.

Thanksgiving Cranberry Cocktail

Nothing starts the Thanksgiving night out right like a delicious holiday beverage. I was reading the NYTimes Thanksgiving recipe section and came across the Cranberry Cobbler, a gin drink with cranberry syrup. The drink sounded delicious, but I wanted to make a few adjustments, so I mixed a few things up and found a delicious holiday drink that is just the right amount of sweet and just the right amount of booze (a lot).

Thanksgiving Dessert

After gorging on mountains of turkey, stuffing, and sides, what everyone needs is… more food! For dessert, we had a nice spread of a delicious pumpkin cheesecake made by my cousin Melissa, a pumpkin bread pudding, and a chocolate pecan pie. There is nothing about this pie that is healthy, but it is so delicious.  My dad made the pie, and while you need to succumb your sweet inhibitions to eat it, there is little better than a slice of warm pecan pie with some vanilla ice cream to top off an already indulgent meal.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Troutus Interruptus

The past week was very busy and I unfortunately didn't have enough time to make dinner for the blog. I hate going a full week without a post, so this past Saturday, I invited a friend over for dinner and planned on making a quick and delicious meal. As I was about to get up from the living room to start cooking, one of my roommates came home with some friends after a boozy brunch. I'm more than happy to have company in the kitchen while I cook, but navigating around a drinking crowd is always a difficult task. The dish I was preparing was some seared trout over cannellini beans with french beans (skinny green beans), and while it's not a labor intensive meal, preparing and photographing around some unexpected visitors proved to be a challenge in itself.

Monday, November 14, 2011

An Ode to Autumn at the Beach

The flavors of Fall are warm, rich, and crisp. This past weekend, I went down to Cape May to relax with my girlfriend, and I made a dish that celebrated both autumnal and beach side ingredients. I chose scallops over butternut squash soup with a crisp apple slaw. The warmth of the squash blended perfectly with the caramelized scallops, and the apple brought a bright flavor to cut into the rich soup and shellfish.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Breakfast Standard With a Savory Twist

Sometimes you can take standard dishes, tweak them a little bit, and they become something totally different. French Toast is a weekend brunch standard that is normally on the sweet side of things along with pancakes, waffles, and pastries. I'm usually a savory brunch kind of guy, so I decided to take what is normally sweet, and bring it to the other side.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Really Easy Moroccan Dinner

This past weekend, I was in Whole Foods with my friend Heath, picking up some food for dinner. I was feeling very indecisive in what I wanted to make, so Heath suggested making some sort of lamb tagine. A tagine is a north African dish that is named after the clay pot it is usually served in. You don't need a tagine to make the dish, but whether using one or not, it is a slow cooked dish, usually made with lamb or chicken braised in a sauce with dried fruit (apricots, currants, dates), chicken broth, vegetables and spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, and coriander. It is very good served over couscous, quinoa or bulgar wheat.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A (Kind of) Spooky Halloween Meal

This Halloween, I was not really in the dress-up spirit. I normally come up with an original idea for a costume, but for some reason, this was not my year for good costume ideas. The impromptu snowstorm on Saturday didn't help matters. Instead of coming up with some half baked idea, I decided to channel my creativity into creating a Halloween themed meal. I decided on roasted and mashed butternut squash, crispy purple kale chips, and stuffed calamari with blueberry sauce.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Simple Ingredients, Unconventional Preparation

Some of the best meals can come from unconventional cooking and seasoning methods. The other night, I had some good ingredients for dinner, but I was a bit stuck on how to cook them. I bought a whole chicken, some brussel sprouts, a sweet potato, and an eggplant. I couldn't decide on how to prepare all of the elements of the dinner, so I decided to use some unexpected cooking methods and the result was delicious.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Snack Attack! Roasted Almonds

A really delicious and extremely easy snack is home roasted almonds. The other weekend, I was making a snack for a fun trip with my friends, and I realized I had a bag of raw almonds in my pantry. I decided to season and roast them. Almonds are a really healthy snack, and with a little bit of spice, they can be very delicious.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Move Over, Burger and Fries

I love a good burger and fries, but often times the fat and grease outweigh the deliciousness of a juicy beef burger and fried potatoes. Enter the turkey burger with roasted cauliflower. Turkey burgers can be tricky to make because they easily dry out, and you really can't undercook them because nobody wants to or should eat rare turkey meat. If done well, turkey burgers are a great alternative to beef.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pork Chops, Brussel Sprouts, and Potatoes: Redux

Part of the difficulty in maintaining a food blog is coming up with original ideas for dishes. Some of my favorite ingredients have already been covered on the blog this summer: pork chops, brussel sprouts, and potatoes. The beauty of cooking is that you can take the same ingredients, cook them a different way, and have a totally different meal.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Asian Style Roasted and Steamed Fish

White fish and Asian flavors go very well together. I like to use soy sauce, sake, mirin, and other Asian seasonings on white fish because the fish absorbs the flavor really well and the light flavor of the meat lends itself to those salty flavors.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Crispy Chicken, Creamy Kale, Melty Mushrooms

Mixing and matching textures in a dish can bring the quality and experience of eating up to a new level. Chicken is a really great meat to play around with textures. The skin lends itself to crisping so well, and when done right, the skin can be a crispy compliment to the textures around it, both the sides of a dish and the meat itself.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

So Few Ingredients, So Much Flavor

Sometimes, the tastiest dinners are the simplest. For this meal, I wanted to make a very flavorful dish with very few ingredients. I decided on making monkfish with artichoke and roasted tomato and endive salad.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

BBQ Sauce - I Defeat Thee!

I have an ongoing battle with BBQ sauce. For some reason, I can never make a really good BBQ, and whenever I try, I end up over thinking it, over complicating the recipe, or missing something integral to the BBQ flavor. Today, I tried to take down my nemesis. I found a very simple recipe, and only made some minor tweaks. Being that I'm not going to serve BBQ sauce on it's own, I decided to make some pulled chicken and cole slaw for some easy sandwiches.

Closing Out Summer in the Hamptons

I can think of no better way to end summer than with good friends and good food. The last weekend before labor day, my girlfriend and I went out to Quogue in the Hamptons with some friends to visit our friend's parent's house. We had postponed the trip a week because of hurricane Irene, and the weather was perfect. We spent some time on the beach and relaxing by the pool, and when the evening rolled around, we were treated to a delicious dinner. To date, all of my posts have been made by me, but this was such a great meal in such a wonderful setting, that I wanted to feature my friend's parent's meal as a thank you for their impeccable hospitality.