My lunch was delicious and so can you.

Last night I decided that I wanted something delicious for dinner and then lunch today. And my friends, I succeeded.

Mediterranean Veggie Bowl with Quinoa (a soul-satisfying lunch!)

(If you want chicken, either start cooking the chicken first or buy some pre-cooked chicken.)

1. SET UP QUINOA: Measure out one cup of quinoa. Rinse under water in a strainer, then add to a pot with a glug of olive oil. Cook for a couple minutes until the water evaporates and the quinoa starts toasting. Then add two cups of veggie broth, or water if you are lame. Bring to a boil, reduce to low, and cover. Set your kitchen timer for 15 minutes.

2. MAKE HOUSE SMELL TASTY: Chop an onion. Add to a pan with a glug of olive oil. Add salt & pepper. Add some dried oregano that you once bought to put on pizza but otherwise forget to use. Add some red chili pepper flakes because, like cheese (more on that in a minute), they make everything better.

3. ACTUALLY MAKE THE FOOD: Saute your onions periodically while you chop up one zucchini. (Even though zucchini is boring and gets excessive in the summertime, I had a weird craving for it last night.) Once the onions are glassy, add the zucchini. Saute periodically while you also chop up a small container of pitted kalamata olives (a small container by which I mean when you go to the deli they have two sizes, small and large — you want the small). Add the kalamata olives to the pan. Keep sauteeing while you also chop up a bunch of feta cheese. (If you are more lazy, the pre-crumbled stuff works well.) I got about a fist-sized block and used about half. Each to their own.

4. PUT THE FOOD IN TOGETHERNESS: Once the zucchinis are soft, the dish should be done. Make sure your quinoa has no more water, and then mix it all together in tastiness. Show it off to your wife when she gets home. Eat it for lunch the next day and revel in your culinary success.

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Julia’s Eggs

I have been reading my copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. Not as a manual, but as good reading. I figured that something would eventually sink in as I poured over Julia’s instructions on everything from sauces to chopping onions to making eggs.

Then, this morning, as I was grumpy and hungry and in need of some food (I’m moving; packing requires much nourishment), I decided to make some eggs. Nothing fancy, just simple eggs. I don’t love just plain eggs, but I was starving and needed something. I dumped two unceremoniously in a mug, beat them with a fork, added some salt and pepper, and set a pan to high with some butter sitting in it.

I dumped in the eggs, and, all of a sudden, Julia took over. Without even thinking about it, I started violently shaking the pan, swirling the eggs around on top of each other. Then, once a bottom layer had materialized, I tipped up the handle and started jerking the pan and the eggs towards me. It worked. The eggs slid down, the jerk curled them on top of each other. It wasn’t perfect, and it wasn’t pretty, but I had the concept down. Once it was in a curled-up pile, I dumped it on a plate, dashed some salt on top, and ate.

It was really good. The eggs were warm and soft– not rubbery at all (I think the key is not overcooking). It was almost like eating a custard– I wouldn’t have believed that it was just eggs and a pat of butter unless I’d done it myself.

Yum, Julia. You’ve revolutionized the way I eat eggs. Nicely done.

[Concept is here: http://foodproof.com/recipes/view/julia-childs-basic-omelette-118]

Spain, Sangria, & Spring

I recently returned from a trip to Europe with my family that included a stopover in Sevilla, Spain. It was wonderful—not just because Sevilla is a particularly gorgeous and exciting city, but also because Sevillanos know how to live! Sangria with lunch (maybe gazpacho or salmorejo), followed by a siesta, then tapas (potentially with more sangria), followed by a late dinner (and the chance for more sangria!), which can then be followed by a leisurely walk around the beautiful city at night. Need to get lots of sleep? No problem! It’s entirely ok to sleep in a bit until it’s time for churros y chocolate with your coffee the next morning.

There is so much to talk about with regard to Sevilla that I’m going to have to break it down into parts, but, as always, there will be lots of discussion about food! Lately, I’ve been thinking about having a Sangria & Spring party to try and conjure up some of the warmth that Sevilla had. I think I’ll serve the following:

  • Sangria (obviously!)
  • Salmorejo (this is slightly thicker than gazpacho and perfect for dipping bread into)
  • Guacamole & Chips (ok, they didn’t have this in Sevilla, but I love it too much to exclude)
  • Salad (my style, not the “vegetables-and-lettuce-on-a-plate” style they serve in Sevilla)
  • Olives (another Sevillian staple)
  • Paella (so yummy!)

Salmorejo I can figure out by tasting as I go, my little brother is a guacamole expert, and salad and olives are a no brainer, but I’m a little concerned about the sangria and paella. I like my sangria to be sweetened with something other than sugar. My mother prefers Manischewitz, but I worry that might be too sweet. Anyone have any ideas on good combinations?

Sangria aside, I’m way more concerned about making paella. I don’t have the paellera required to make it, and I’m not sure I’m ready to invest in one just for this occasion. (Plus, I have a strict policy that all kitchen items must be multi-purpose—What else can I use a paellera for besides paella? And even if I did want one, where could I get it?) Does anyone have any good tips for first-time paella makers? Or good leads on buying discount-yet-quality saffron?

The Miracle Fruit

I remember reading about the miracle fruit last year in the New York Times. The story captivated me immediately—a small fruit that, when chewed and swished around the mouth, confuses taste buds into thinking that bitter and sour things are sweet.

Today, I read another story about it, this time on CNN.com: Lemons taste like lemonade! Hot sauce tastes like honey! Goat cheese tastes like cheese cake!

Aside from the fact that I love food, I absolutely love the idea of trying weird things. In the New York Times story, they talk about people just going crazy with wanting to try things out before the berry’s effects wore off (it lasts about 30-90 minutes):

…guests became “literally like wild animals, tearing apart everything on the table.” “It was like no holds barred in terms of what people would try to eat, so they opened my fridge and started downing Tabasco and maple syrup,” he said.

So, I’m of course DYING to try this thing! Does anyone know of any tastings in the Boston area? Kyra, do you think that your next Dinner Club could revolve around this? I would totally make the schlep down from Boston!

Guest Post: Bacon Dinner Club

Everyone enjoys a little stalking, right? So when I saw on Facebook that my NYC-based friend Kyra (of the dating blog Gotard City) had posted pictures of a Bacon Dinner Club, I immediately demanded the story. So here goes the first ever Stalking Sarah guest post! Thanks, Kyra!

A little over a year ago, my friends and I decided to start a Dinner Club based on our mutual love of the Food Network, cooking, and most importantly, eating. We choose a new theme or key ingredient (basil, citrus, the color white, tapas,  desserts, etc) and we get together once a month to cook and eat together. It’s usually an all-day affair.

Dinner Club’s important to me for a number of reasons: It’s an opportunity to make socially acceptable bad decisions in the form of food. I like to eat. I love to eat. Tasting delicious food is one of the best pleasures in life. It’s fun to see all my friends together. We get to play board games and catch up. I get to play hostess and show off all my materialistic crap that I’ve acquired from Crate & Barrel. And, I get to learn more about cooking and try new foods.

A few years ago, I started dating someone named Movies. After a while, he got to be a part of Dinner Club, too. None of my friends were particularly amazed by him, but none of them really disliked him either. And at the end of the day, though, I’m the Kim Jong Il of Dinner Club, so if I wanted my boyfriend there, he was gonna be included.

Unfortunately, Movies’ picky eating habits had never been squashed by his parents, so he often violated the “try new foods” mandate of dinner club. On numerous occasions, he’d make a passing comment about not wanting to try someone’s dish. Whenever we circulated the tentative menu before the actual Dinner Club date, Movies would send a note reminding us that he didn’t like certain foods.

The biggest point of contention among us Dinner Clubbers was bacon. Continue reading

Very Good Taste’s Omnivore’s Hundred

Have tried 51%! There are very few things in this world I wouldn’t try… but cigars and whole insects are two of them. I made my favorite things green.

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush Continue reading

Sounds crazy, no?

No one I know thinks Manischewitz is good for anything except filling Elijah’s cup at Passover. But I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for it. I mean, it tastes like grape juice, but so what? Grape juice is nice. Especially if you dip a piece of challah in it, right?

But since Manischewitz is so cloyingly sweet, it really can’t be consumed like wine. Which means there is almost always some left over. So when Kerry over at Serious Eats proposed making Manischewitz into a granita, I immediately went for the half-drunk bottle that’s been sitting in the back of my parents’ kitchen cabinet.

Because we had half a bottle, we used a smaller pan, but we otherwise followed the (very basic) instructions to the letter. (Essentially, pour and freeze.) Thankfully, the smaller quantity also meant that it froze faster, so we didn’t have to wait nearly as long to taste the concoction. The results were delicious—cold, tasty grape-flavored ice with a litle kick. Martini glasses are absolutely the right thing to serve it in, as it looks very pretty against the glass.

Yes, in the end it’s just frozen Manischewitz, but somehow the formation of ice crystals dress up this overly sweet “wine” into a fun and impressive dessert.