GatroPorn Menu: July.2013

GatroPorn Menu: July.2013

It is getting far too hot outside for my tastes. Mid-90’s and the humidity is on the rise. I keep forgetting every spring that my hair does not do well in humidity and so I don’t preemptively get it cut in time for the great *poof* that becomes my hair in the DC summers. And in addition to that the temperature of one’s food can make a difference to the comfort levels in this god-awful heat.

I love Thanksgiving and Christmas because I often associate the two holidays with a large amount of cooking and eating and partying. I’m not the greatest fan on the patriotic holidays because the types of foods do not create insane food memories of intense bliss in my head. But there are still foods that can excite my palate during the summer holidays… Here is a menu with a few of them along with a couple new items I’m keen to try this month:

Boozy Sweet Tea

“Boozy Sweet Tea” from Dessert for Two
(Click HERE for “Peach-Infused Moonshine” Recipe)

Parmesan Tuiles with Heirloom Tomato Salad

“Parmesan Tuiles with Heirloom Tomato Salad” from Food & Wine

New Potato Salad with Garlic Mayonnaise and Cress

“New Potato Salad with Garlic Mayonnaise and Cress” from JamieOliver.com

Mediterranean Sliders

“Mediterranean Sliders” from Athenos (there’s something to be said for good advertising!)

Vegetable Kebabs

“Vegetable Kebabs” from Epicurious

Berry & Fruit Popsicles

“Berry & Fruit Popsicles” from Call Me Cupcake!

GastroPorn Menu: June.2013

GastroPorn Menu: June.2013

It’s getting warm and slightly uncomfortable weather wise but things are also growing in the garden and we’re planning to get an umbrella for our back yard so we can actually enjoy our outdoor furniture. Now if only my back yard looked a little something like this:

Santorini-blue-and-white-paradise

This month’s menu is inspired by a little Mediterranean Island sun. Meant to be enjoyed outside with with lots of loud friends and family.

Goat Cheese with Olives, Lemon, and Thyme

“Goat Cheese with Olives, Lemon, and Thyme” From Leite’s Culinaria

Beefsteak Tomato Salad

“Beefsteak Tomato Salad” from Martha Stewart

Eggplant Salad with Chickpeas and Feta

“Eggplant Salad with Chickpeas and Feta” from Martha Stewart

Mini Spiced Chicken Burgers with Mint Greek Yogurt

“Mini Spiced Chicken Burgers with Mint Greek Yogurt” from Applemint

Zucchini Patty Sandwiches

“Zucchini Patty Sandwiches” from Whole Living

Lamb

“Lamb” from Joseph De Leo Photography

Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Honey-Lime Dip

“Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Honey-Lime Dip” from Our Best Bites

Lime, Yoghurt and Olive Oil Cake

“Lime, Yoghurt and Olive Oil Cake” from Simple Provisions

Honey-Ricotta Turnovers

“Honey-Ricotta Turnovers” from Martha Stewart

The Awesome Power of Bilbo and Chinese Take-Out

On a very exciting application I just turned in I was asked the following question: Which food writers to you admire and why?

If you can’t tell from that it’s for a position I would absolutely ADORE. Also, my contract ended yesterday at 5pm and I have yet to be called up to HR to sign the next one so I’m technically unemployed and feel absolutely not guilty at all whatsoever about the fact that I haven’t opened a single work document or email since I got in early at 8am. And by now, Foodie Nation, you should know me well enough to know I wasn’t going to write some fluff piece on my much I love… well whoever it is I love. I’m not telling! But you know I would want this job like no other that I have applied for yet and that means I’m going to go as far out towards the deep end as I see fit (which wasn’t quite as serious as the Marianas Trench, I know how to be professional). If I get a job like this my life would be like this poster: Awesome!

Here’s my response:

I admire honest food writers who come across as genuine people. This includes a lot of bloggers but it also includes those who have “moved up” (for example “White on Rice Couple” and “Joy the Baker”). But selecting a group from the numerous blogs, sites, and publications that I browse and subscribe to would be a rather herculean task. So instead I’ll recognize a group of food writers that are often overlooked: Translators of Chinese take-out menus.

Unlike what I consider to be one of my ultimate gastrogasming spots in the world (the noodle dish dan dan mien at A & J restaurant, Rockville, MD), Chinese take-out joints that are strewn far and wide across American are incredibly un-Chinese. And yet there is a formula to their menus that we all recognize and sometimes (even to our own shame) we crave. The photos are awful and the places are small and I’m still confused as to why “r” and “l” are consistently switched when I know both sounds exist in both Mandarin and Cantonese (my own grandmother still can’t get it right after all these years).

I admire that somehow the writers and “translators” of these menus have managed to appeal to something that has become a part of American culture and make us want their food even though we know it’s bad for us and that it isn’t even “authentic”. It’s almost a comfort food for many people that live in urban areas that don’t have time to cook and I know for a fact that the entire IT department across the campus where I work has Beijing Delight programmed into their phones.

There’s nothing fancy but there is still something that appeals to us. Knowing that we get free egg rolls with an order of more that $12.99 (even though they’re really bad egg rolls) makes us want to order that extra side of “flied lice” and do group orders and to us it makes sense. That’s the essence of good food writing. Making you want to get out there and be active about in-taking food rather than just taking vitamin supplements and eating Army-type rations.

I don’t know who these people are who came up with the “standard” Chinese Take-Out Menu but I would really like to meet them because they did what I think almost any promotional food writer has ever tried to do and it’s amazing.

Attention! Attention!

No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake

“No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake” From Cooking Channel (There are How-To pictures to go with the recipe)

As I’m sure most of you know (if you live in America), today is Mother’s Day. This means that I am not actually writing this post today but instead I am anticipating that I will be very busy making the Mother’s Day luncheon on my Gma’s back porch. And one of the featured items on this illustrious menu just happens to be this cheesecake! And a lovely Mummy’s Day it will be… unless it’s raining. Then we will have to make plan B arrangements.

Gastroporn Menu – May.2013

May is one of those odd months. Sometimes the weather is already muggy and gross and all you want to do is sit in a cool pool of water alternating between sipping fancy drinks with umbrellas and licking something frozen. But sometimes it’s still nice and cool out and it still feels like what we think spring should feel like in our minds. So for this month’s GastroPorn Menu I’m going to go with something light that can feel cool enough to battle the heat but can also keep us feeling light enough to go run around and warm up enough to maybe just need a sweater.

Gastroporn Menu – May.2013

Salad with Avocado Dressing Bowls

“Salad with Avocado Dressing Bowls” from Dash and Bella

Matar Paneer

“Matar Paneer” by Dassana from Veg Recipes of India

Saffron Mango Lassi

“Saffron Mango Lassi” from US Masala

Pistachio Saffron Ice Cream Pops

“Pistachio Saffron Ice Cream Pops” from Simply Reem

On Throwing a Grazing Party and Staying Sexy

From Monica Eisenman

So, as some of you might have remembered, I had a party this weekend. And yes there were some road blocks in the plan (like the fact that it was supposed to be last week but we had to push it back a week because of a funeral) but since when are good parties supposed to be easy and peaceful? If someone in your family hasn’t yelled at you needlessly while helping you prepare crusts for mini quiches than your party is going to suck. Because stress breeds good food ON TIME.

The menu, inspired by this month’s Gastroporn Menu, was labeled as a “Tea Party” but with most of my parties turned into an extended grazing affair that was really more like three or four smaller parties all strung together throughout the afternoon and evening. I also made something new that I surprisingly enjoyed eating about an hour or two after all the guests had left because eating them in front of people just isn’t sexy and a hostess should always be sexy: Blue velvet Cupcakes.

Blue Velvet Cupcakes

“Blue Velvet Cupcakes” from Sprinkle Bakes

Now… I like making cupcakes. I don’t always like eating cupcakes but I do like making them. Why? Easy dispersal. Try giving away cake at the end of the party and tell me you didn’t wish you’d made cupcakes. And if you aren’t giving away cake at the end of a party then don’t complain to me about your expanding waistline. Take that cake to work and give it away. It will make you more friends and fewer pounds.

Note: Don’t use a tablespoon of blue dye for the cupcakes. That’s too much and cupcakes that turn tongues a funny color…not sexy.

But you know what is sexy? Eating chocolate mousse from a tiny cup with a mini spoon. The recipe I used  can be found in “The Great Disappointment (of 2012)” post. A friend gave me the recipe and I have no idea where it came from but probably the Internet.

Note: I also piped some fresh whipped cream (made with a little sugar and a splash of vanilla) on top and put my brother to work with a piece of 100% chocolate and a vegetable peeler to garnish the tops.

There were also things I really don’t have a recipe for but if you’ve played around in a kitchen long enough you’ll just know what to do. Like stuffed mushrooms and mini-quiches. Watching my caveman-neanderthal dad trying to press rounds of pie crust dough into a mini-muffin tin was absolutely priceless.

And, of course, there were the scones we always make (the recipe is in the “Tea Time, Nap Time, Fun Times” post from many moons ago) served with the remaining fresh cream from above and berries. I love me some berries. I brought the rest to work with me today along with the remaining 3 scones (to give away). Everybody is always asking for that recipe and it’s ridiculously easy so there is no reason NOT to try it. Unless you’ve got allergies, in which case I am so sorry.

Anyone who knows anything about me and my party style also knows that I like complicated. I like the idea of doing everything from scratch and if I had the ability to gather and make all the ingredients by hand on my mini plot of land out back I so would.

But beware of making things complicated to your guests. Try to make things they can just pass by, pick up with a couple fingers, and just put in their mouths (which is where your party food SHOULD be going). Otherwise they will pass by the stuff with a dip or the thing that goes on top of that other thing and go straight for that stuff that just ends up in their mouths.

Here’s a recipe that looks good:

tartelettes chèvre et confiture d'oignons

“Tartelettes Chèvre et Confiture D’oignons (Onion Tartelettes with Goat Cheese)” from Vaniglia

There’s often at least a couple people at a party known as “grazers”. These are the folks that don’t take a heaping plateful and then start denying food while patting their bellies. These are those smart party goers that pace themselves. A min-quiche here, a cupcake there, caprese salad on a stick? Why not! Oh and then maybe another deviled egg. So set things up nicely for these folks. They know what they’re about. And, as always, stay sexy, Foodie Nation!