Spinach and Tomato Frittata

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“How do you feel about frittatas?” JP asked me one evening.

“Hate em,” I snapped quickly.

I immediately felt ridiculous. I’ve never made or eaten a frittata but I have decided that they are gross. 40% of my disdain lies in the blahness of the word “frittata”  (say it a few times and  you’ll understand). The other 60% of my disdain exists because I’ve been equating frittatas to quiches (which is another egg dish that I hate despite never having eaten one).

I admitted my frittata lameness to JP and he showed me a recipe that looked… delicious. “Okay let’s make frittata for dinner,” I said, reminding myself that Fooducated is about trying new things.

Turns out, I love frittatas. “We’re frittata people now,” JP exclaimed with his first bite. Yes we are.

Frittatas, to my great admiration, take about 10 minutes to throw together. They require a single pan, which means frittata messes take about 2 minutes to clean up. And frittatas – if you make them without cream – won’t bog you down. They’re light and fluffy and a perfect detox dish after a weekend of eating God knows what.

Frittatas are also a great way to use leftover ingredients. I threw chopped up cherry tomatoes and baby spinach (from our Thai Green Chicken Curry recipe below) into the saute pan. You can add almost anything that you have in your fridge. Ham? Do it. Broccoli? Do it. Cheddar cheese? Obviously do it. Please don’t be afraid to take your frittata night as an opportunity to be creative.

This recipe is basically Alton Brown’s frittata recipe but adapted to the contents of my fridge. Make sure your saute pan is broiler-safe before you do this.

(serves 2 for dinner or 4 if you make a nice salad with it)

Ingredients

  • 5 eggs
  • 1/4 cup of parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon of butter
  • 1 1/2 cups of baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dried oregano (or basil, parsley, thyme, or Italian herb mix)

Steps

  1. Turn on your broiler.
  2. Get a saute pan with the butter on the stove over medium-high heat.
  3. Chop up the cherry tomatoes.
  4. Add the cherry tomatoes and the spinach to the pan just as the butter starts to brown. Let them saute for three minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, beat the eggs, parmesan, salt, and pepper together in a bowl.
  6. Add the egg mixture to the saute pan and give it one good stir.
  7. Cook for 5 minutes or until the bottom is cooked and the top is starting to set. Lightly sprinkle the top with the dried oregano.
  8. Place pan under the broiler for 3 to 4 minutes (watch carefully) or until the top is brown and the eggs look fluffy.
  9. Slice the frittata into pieces like a pizza.
  10. Enjoy!

 


Cooking Rice In A Pan

 

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Yes, I’m no longer in a dorm and yes, my apartment’s kitchen probably has more appliances and cookware than the kitchens of most actual adults. But I don’t have a good pot for cooking rice in. All of mine are too large.

I discovered this problem halfway through my cooking of Thai Green Chicken Curry (see below). You can’t have Thai Green Curry without rice. Luckily, Google answers all. A quick search found this article: How to Cook Perfect Rice In A Frying Pan, and, since I had no other option, I took the plunge despite being extremely skeptical.

I’ve never cooked better rice. Seriously. I’ve never cooked rice without burning the bottom of the pot and I often end up with undercooked grains. The pan rice was fluffy, moist, and fully cooked. Best of all, I didn’t have to scrub any burnt pots. Granted, there is a large chance I’m just the worst rice cooker in the world but that shouldn’t devalue this new method. Try it even if you’re internationally certified in making rice in a pot.

Here are the steps:

  1. Put the rice and the water in a frying pan over high heat (use however much water and rice it says to use on your package).
  2. As soon as the water starts boiling aggressively, give the rice a good stir, put the lid on the pan (or some aluminum foil if you’re forced to be even more ratchet), and then turn the heat down to low (as the author of the page kindly points out, an electric stove takes a bit to cool down so move the rice off of the burner for a minute; if you have a gas stove, good job).
  3. Cook the rice on low for five minutes. Do not lift up the lid. At the end of five minutes, you should see a bunch of little holes in the surface of the rice. Good job.
  4. Turn up the heat to high for 1 minute.
  5. Turn off the heat. If you have an electric stove, remove the pan from the burner.
  6. Leave the lid on for 15 minutes (DON’T PEEK).
  7. Enjoy!

Thai Green Chicken Curry

IMG_6700Don’t let the word “curry” scare you. Thai curry is baby curry. It’s for people who don’t “do” Indian food. The flavors are comforting and simple. I Americanize the soup a bit by adding more vegetables but skipping the potatoes (because I like to eat it over rice and don’t understand potatoes with rice). You’ll love that this recipe requires less than 30 minutes of active work but makes you look like a culturally sophisticated cooking rockstar.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 14 oz can of coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons of green curry paste
  • 1 pound of skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/4 cup of fresh basil
  • 3 cups of baby spinach
  • 1/2 tbl of red pepper flakes (or less or more depending on your spice tolerance)
  • Other veggies you have in your fridge (we added some english peas and mushrooms)
  • Olive oil

Steps

  1. Add a splash of olive oil to a medium-sized pot and put that on the stove over medium-high heat.
  2. When the oil gets hot enough, add the chicken thighs and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Let it saute for about six minutes on one side. Then flip it over, season that side with salt and pepper, and then saute it for another 5ish minutes. Pull the chicken out and put it on a plate.
  4. While the chicken is sautéing, cut the yellow onion and carrot into smallish chunks and mince the garlic.
  5. Once you’ve taken the chicken out, throw the yellow and carrot into the pot. Saute for about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the garlic and saute an additional 2 minutes.
  7. Add the curry paste and mix it into the veggies, sautéing it for about two minutes.
  8. Add the coconut milk and bring it to a boil.
  9. Once that is boiling, add the chicken broth and the red pepper flakes.
  10. Let it cook on the stove with the lid on for about 20 minutes.
  11. Meanwhile, cut the chicken into chunks and the bell pepper and basil into strips.
  12. After 20 minutes, throw the bell pepper, basil, baby spinach, and chicken into the soup.
  13. Serve it over rice and enjoy! (also take a picture and share it with Fooducated on Facebook).

“Putanesca” Pasta

IMG_6697The transition from a dorm to an apartment is more dramatic than I’d anticipated (hence the dramatic lighting in this photo). When you move out of your childhood home and into a dorm, you are convinced that you’re such an adult because you tuck yourself in at night. But then you move into an apartment and buy things like Tupperware and Clorox wipes and suddenly you really feel like an adult. I’ll probably be elderly by the time I have to pay my own bills.

One of the biggest adjustments is to the changed nature of cooking. When in a dorm or at home, cooking is something you do for fun, not for sustenance. That all changes when Bear’s Den is a 40 minute walk away. Suddenly, you either cook, starve, or eat Thai food. Fooducated’s mission this semester is to help you choose cook over starving or ordering in as often as possible.

I plan on accomplishing that by bombarding you with recipes that will make you want to cook. They will make you want to cook because they’ll be easy, quick, and packed with flavor. They will be the types of recipes that you can make often and never get sick of. They will be written with instructions that’ll help you organize your cooking and minimize your mess. And they’ll be flexible and forgiving enough that you can eyeball most of the measurements. I want to convince you that you can do your homework and fix your resume and organize the latest Student Union event and cook yourself a delicious dinner.

Take this “Putanesca” for example.* It requires 30 minutes and 9 ingredients to make but it’ll blow your socks off.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp of dried oregano
  •  1 28 oz can of plum tomatoes
  • 1 lb of pasta (the more ridges the better)
  • 1/2 cup of pitted kalamata olives
  • 3 tablespoons of capers
  • 1/2 cup of fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Steps

  1. Fill a pot with water and put the heat on high.
  2. Chop the garlic, olives, and parsley into small pieces on a single cutting board. Keep the parsley separate.
  3. Add olive oil to a saute pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic, olives, red pepper flakes, oregano, and capers.
  4. Saute for about three minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Add the can of tomatoes and break them up with your spatula.
  6. Add the pasta to the water (if it’s boiling- if it isn’t, add it as soon as it’s boiled).
  7. One minute before the pasta is al dente (it’ll tell you how long on the pasta package), pour two scoops of pasta water into your tomato sauce and drain the rest of the water.
  8. Then add the pasta to the sauce in the saute pan and stir.
  9. Let it cook for about a minute or two and then sprinkle on some fresh parsley.
  10. Take a picture and post it onto the Fooducated Facebook wall.
  11. Oh and enjoy!

I served it with parmesan cheese and two slices of bread that I’d drizzled with olive oil and salt and broiled for 3 minutes.

*I put the putanesca in quotes because a true putanesca has anchovies in it but I couldn’t find anchovy paste in Schnucks.


Cantalouping Across America

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I spent two days as a cantaloupe and learned a lot about life.

Let me explain:

I had to get my KitchenAid mixer to St. Louis (obviously), which meant I had to road trip it from NYC to STL. I don’t have a driver’s license or a car (I’m a New Yorker through and through) so by “road trip it from NYC to STL” I actually mean “bum an 16-hour ride from someone.”

That someone became JP and Alex. They drove their cars while I sat in their cars. “Jolijt is as useful as a cantaloupe,” Alex’s mom Valerie said pre-departure. Alex kindly responded: “Jolijt is better company than a cantaloupe.” Val’s answer: “maybe.”

With that exchange, I became the cantaloupe. Life as a cantaloupe was eye opening and I learned quite a few things that might be helpful to you when the semester starts tomorrow:

1. Peach bread is a great road trip snack.

Desperate to prove that I am the best cantaloupe one could ask for, I baked and brought peach bread (click here for the recipe). Peach bread, to my great satisfaction, is a perfect road trip snack because it adds some fruity freshness to your diet of chicken fingers and chips, doesn’t spoil quickly, and isn’t too sweet.

2. When driving through western Pennsylvania, pee whenever you get the chance. 

JP and Alex ruled that the I had to switch cars after every pee break. This rule became a problem when the I expressed the need to pee and was told: “hold it because I haven’t had my fair share of the cantaloupe yet.” I had to hold it for 40 miles because Pennsylvania spaces out their rest stops to trick you into thinking that there are actual buildings outside of Philly.

3. America is big. 

When you drive 16 hours in Europe, you can enter and leave multiple countries. When you drive 16 hours in America, you only drive through 6 of our 50 states.

4. America smells like bacon.

Seriously, I smelled bacon on the middle of the highway twice. I swear.

5. Brazil, Indiana is the “home of the popcorn festival.”

Enough said.

6. Don’t underestimate Wash U students wearing matching shirts

Every time I moved onto the South 40, I thought all of the yelling WUSAs and RAs were a bit much. Little did I know that they are essential. JP and I arrived to our new off-campus apartment after driving for 16 hours and could not get into our building. We swiped our room keys 10 times and then stood on the stoop for 5 minutes saying “eehhhhhhh” and “heeeellllppp” (not exactly the way I pictured starting life in my very first apartment). I finally called ResLife and they reminded me (with a slight chuckle) that you have to swipe your ID to get in.  The screaming red-shirt-wearing Wash U students are essential because, after three months of summer vacation, I am dumber than ever before.

So there you have it, six tips learned by a traveling cantaloupe that might or might not help you out this school year (probably not).

Please stay tuned because Fooducated’s next post will actually be about food. This semester, Fooducated will focus on easy and delicious dishes that are perfect for a student’s life, budget, and attention span. It’s going to be great (or, at the very least, vaguely interesting)!


Why Fooducated Has Been M.I.A. and Why You Really Should Avoid Chicken Nuggets

It’s been over a month since I last posted. I know, I know, that’s against the rules of blogging. But, truth be told, I need a break.

I love writing Fooducated but I miss eating normally. I miss enjoying a meal without taking 20 pictures and pausing to jot down details.

Fooducated will be back. In September, when I return to Wash U, I’ll be writing all about the adventures of cooking in my very first apartment.

In the meantime, I’m working on an email blog called Dinner Unprocessed. Our goal is to help families ditch processed food and replace it with homemade dishes by making planning and executing meals easier. Here’s a scary fact:

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I understand how processed food sneaks its way onto your family’s dinner table. Billy has a soccer game. Mary’s friends are over. And you just got home from a hard day at work. Before you know it, that cup of sugar in the jarred tomato sauce and the Bisphenol A (BPA) in the canned green beans have made their way into your family’s food.

This can be prevented. You just need someone. You need a Robin to your Batman, an Ethel to your Lucy, a sous chef to your Wolfgang Puck. We can be that someone.

Sign up for Dinner Unprocessed’s email blog and we’ll send you links to tried-and-true recipes that all require no more than 10 ingredients and 30 minutes.

Dinner Unprocesesd will be a lot like a more mature, less long winded, and more family oriented Fooducated delivered straight to your inbox. I hope you’ll sign up and, if not, I’ll see you in September!


Taco Night

IMG_6361Taco night – if the salty ground beef, flavorless shredded cheese, and boring salsa is left at the store – is one of the most fun and easiest ways to celebrate freshness and flavor.

Who doesn’t love assembling their own dinner every now and then? It’s an adventure… a statement of independence… an appeal to the love all Americans have for feeling in control while doing little actual work.

It’s also a great way to ensure that those of us who want to bite into a fiery taco don’t destroy the dinner and nasal passages of those of us who can’t handle the heat.

My taco table includes: grilled tilapia, grilled skirt steak, guacamole, red onion, lettuce, tomato, spicy spicy salsa, chipotle mayo, limes, and corn tortillas. It’s an impressive spread that looks and sounds like a lot of work but is secretly a lot easier than most dinners.

After setting everything out on the table, I encourage (forcefully) everyone to top their tilapia or steak with a little bit of everything (yes, you need salsa and chipotle mayo) and then dig in. This dinner is a winner.

Serves 5

Grilled Tilapia

  • 1 1/2 pounds of tilapia
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 tbl spoon of honey
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. Marinade the tilapia in the lemon, honey, and olive oil for one hour.
  2. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
  3. Grill over medium-high for 4 minutes on each side or until the fish is done.
  4. Cut into smaller pieces.

Whoa Salsa

  • 4 tomatoes quartered
  • 3 jalapenos
  • 1 yellow onion quartered
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Juice of two limes
  • 1 tablespoon of Tabasco sauce
  • Salt
  1. Throw everything except two tomatoes and the salt in the blender.
  2. Blend until well pureed.
  3. Add the two tomatoes.
  4. Only briefly blend so that the tomatoes do get cut up but the salsa stays chunky.
  5. Add salt to taste.

Grilled Skirt Steak

  • 1 pound of skirt steak
  • 1 cup of orange juice
  • 1 cup of whoa salsa (from above)
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat your grill so that it’s about 600 degrees.
  2. Marinade the steak in the orange juice and salsa for at least 3 hours.
  3. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
  4. Grill over high heat for 6-8 minutes. Do not cover the grill.
  5. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes (this is a good time to throw your tilapia on).
  6. Slice the steak against the grain. This is really really important with skirt steak. Click here for  a great explanation if you don’t know how to.

Chipotle Mayo

  • 3.5 ounces of chipotles in adobo sauce
  • 1 cup of mayo
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup of cilantro
  1. Blend it all together.

Guacamole

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/2 diced small yellow onion
  • 1 diced plus tomato
  • 1/2 cup of diced cilantro
  • Juice of two limes
  • Salt
  1. Mash the avocado until it’s soft and creamy.
  2. Add lime juice, onion, tomato, and cilantro and mix together.
  3. Salt to taste.

Dice the red onion and tomato. Thinly slice the lettuce. Quarter the limes. Grill the corn tortillas for a few minutes to warm them up.

And you’re done! Enjoy.

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Patatas Bravas

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I went to Barcelona with Kristen – one of my best friends – when I was 16. We spent the whole week sitting on patios, drinking Coke from glass bottles, and staring at cute Spanish guys. Today, I would do no such thing.

When I travel now, I spend all day of every day either eating or on my way to the next place at which I will be eating. Cute Spanish guys can surround me and I won’t notice anything except the plates of food in their hands (but really, for some reason, the waiters are particularly good looking).

Back then, in Barcelona, however, I had yet to discover my obsession with all things that taste good. I hadn’t done any research on what to eat. After we mistakenly ordered anchovies instead of nachos (“anoches” is a deceiving word), Kristen and I were terrified of menus. From that moment on, when we did eat, we stuck with patatas bravas.

Patatas bravas is really just french fries topped with spicy sauce. If you’re for real about it, you make an aioli. But I’m not that for real about it. I top my patatas with bravas sauce that’s basically a spicy version of Shake Shack sauce (which is basically Thousand Island Dressing). It’s probably not the most authentic take on Patatas Bravas but it is damn delicious. And damn delicious is really all we can ask for.

Serious Eats has great instructions for making the potatoes and a pretty delicious sounding sauce as well. If you’re on their level, please make their sauce and let me know how it is. If you’re going for a more Americanized, more throw-it-all-in-a-blender-and-then-eat sauce, make mine and let me know how it is.

Bravas Sauce

Ingredients

  • 3/4 of 15-oz can of tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup yellow mustard (or Dijon if you want to be slightly more classy)
  • 1/2 cup mayonaise
  • 1 large spicy dill pickle
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of smoked spanish paprika
  • 1/4 cup of sambal

Steps

  1. Put everything in a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Note: this makes a lot of sauce but this sauce is good on everything from fries to burgers to egg sandwiches.


Asparagus and Tomato Pasta

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It isn’t summer until I make my asparagus and tomato pasta. This is dish is one of my absolute favorites because it’s so easy, so light, and so delicious. It’s also so adaptable. Tonight’s version included homemade cheese ravioli and pancetta. Other nights I’ve used linguine and peas. Sometimes, when I want it to have a little bit more oomph to the experience, I top it with a few spoonfuls of goat cheese.

The only components that are a must: asparagus and oven roasted tomatoes.

This whole dish comes together in 30 minutes, even with the roasting of the tomatoes. And I am begging you: do not skip the tomato step. It makes the pasta what it is. Oven roasting the tomatoes concentrates their flavor, removes some of the sweetness of the tomatoes, and makes the whole dish 5x more delicious.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound linguine (or cheese ravioli or spaghetti or whatever you’re feeling)
  • 10 thick asparagus stalks cut into thirds
  • 4 tomatoes sliced into 1/2 inch slices
  • 3 diced cloves of garlic
  • 1 diced yellow onion
  • 1 cup of vegetable stock (or wine if you’re feeling fancy)
  • 1 tablespoon of dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup of pine nuts
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups of baby spinach (optional)
  • 1/4 pound of cubed pancetta (optional)
  • Everything in your fridge (optional and not necessarily suggested)

Steps

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Arrange the tomato slices in one layer on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle on the oregano, and then add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Roast the tomatoes in the oven for 30 minutes.
  4. Set some salted water to boil and then cook the pasta for one minute less than it says you should on the packet. Save one cup of pasta water when you’re draining it.
  5. Meanwhile, in a deep saute pan, over medium-high heat, add olive oil and then saute the onion until translucent.
  6. Add the asparagus. Saute for five minutes.
  7. If you’re using the pancetta, throw that in there and keep sauteing for five minutes.
  8. If you’re not using the pancetta, just keep sauteing for five more minutes.
  9. Add the garlic and the pine nuts and saute them for a minute.
  10. Deglaze the pan with the vegetable stock.
  11. Add the cup of reserved pasta water to the pan.
  12. Add the pasta to the pan.
  13. Add the tomatoes to the pan.
  14. Add the baby spinach to the pan if you’re using it.
  15. Stir.
  16. Let it all cook for a minute or two, until the pasta soaks up some of the sauce and tastes al dente.
  17. Top with shredded parmesan and enjoy!

Bibimbap Backpackers

photo-14 When’s the last time you bi’d a bap with a bim? Or bim’d a bi with a bap? Or bap’d a bim with a bi? What am I talking about? Who knows. But the word “bibimbap” is too awesome to not use for a silly opening.

I was invited to a Korean Bibimbap tasting by my blogger friend over at Not Just Vegetarian. She writes great reviews about vegetarian (but not just vegetarian) restaurants in New York. If you like vegetables or fruits or food in general, you need to check out her recommendations.

The meal was put on by Bibimbap Backpackers, which is a group of young Koreans that travel the world hosting bibimbap tastings to spread their love of Korean food. They’re sponsored by Bibigo, which is a  Korean food company that makes products with which you can make Korean food at home. Bibimbap is a classic Korean dish in which rice  is topped with vegetables, meat, and, often, an egg.

The meal started with Pajeon, which is a scallion and seafood pancake. I loved the fresh flavor of the seafood and the hint of scallion. The combination of the chewiness from the seafood and crispiness from the outside of the pancake was enjoyable. The pancake, however, was slightly too greasy and too cold for me to reach for seconds.

Next, the group of amazingly energetic and friendly Koreans brought us japache, which is sweet potato noodles, and mandu, which is fried dumplings.

photo-12I liked the noodles a lot. They were refreshing, bright, and fun to eat. The meat filling in the mandu was yummy but the skin of the dumpling was a bit soggy and the whole thing was cold.

We were then given bowls filled with rice and instructed to add whichever vegetables and meats we wanted to the bowl. “There are no rules, just fun,” one of the Bibimbap Backpackers assured us.

photo-13My bibimbap strategy: add a little bit of everything.

After loading up the bowl, I topped it with bibigo’s Kohut sauce, which is a delicious and slightly spicy hot sauce, mixed it all together, and dug in.

Yum. Acid from the pickled vegetables mingled in with the heat from the sauce and the freshness of the cut vegetables.

Bibimbap, I realized, is a great concept for a dinner party. It’s a relatively easy set-up and your guests will love to compile their own dishes, like an Asian taco night.


Chef Wil’s Calcotada Festival

I finagle my way into a lot of amazing dinners by amazing WashU chefs and then write about them on Fooducated. My number one goal: eat. My number two goal: make you jealous.

But this weekend, you get to make me super jealous by going to a dinner I can’t attend. The new head chef at Ibby’s Wilfrin Fernandez-Cruz and pastry chef Lisa Fernandez-Crus (who also happens to be Chef Wil’s wife) are conducting their very first STL pop-up event. It’s a Calcotada Festival, which is a Spanish celebration of the coming of Spring. 

Imagine flavorful lamb, sausage, and limitless Rose… I know your mouth is watering. So is mine but I’m back in NYC for the summer. If you’re in STL then you’re also in luck because the tickets haven’t sold out yet. Click here to buy some or to lean more about Wil and Lisa: http://www.delafincastl.com/calcotada-festival.html


Buttermilk Ice Cream with Rhubarb Sauce and Candied Peanuts

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This dessert is a lot like my mom: exciting, sweet, and topped with a sprinkle of unexpected crunchiness.

My original plan for Mother’s Day dessert was to copy Campus Executive Chef John Griffith’s dish. He made buttermilk panna cotta with strawberries, rhubarb,* and candied peanuts as the seventh course in an amazing eight course meal that I was lucky enough to be invited to. I may or may not have eaten three helpings of the panna cotta. Maybe. They were small.

Anyway, the plan to plagiarize Chef Griffith’s dessert fell through when I got home and realized that I forgot to buy gelatin. Without gelatin, the panna cotta would basically be cold buttermilk in a ramekin. Gross.

I decided to make a buttermilk ice cream instead and immediately felt like such an Iron Chef for using ice cream as a solution to a cooking dilemma (recipe below).

Chef Griffith’s rhubarb topping featured little pieces of cooked rhubarb and strawberries. I began on my journey to copy his topping by throwing chopped up rhubarb and strawberries in a pot over medium heat. Then I poured in lemon juice and brought it to a boil. When I tasted it, my taste buds cringed from the sourness. Something had to be done. I added sugar, fresh ginger, and some vanilla.

It started to smell like a jam and, in my excitement about successfully rescuing the too-sour topping, I forgot that I wasn’t making jam and I began smashing the rhubarb with a fork while singing: “welcome to the space jam.” Then I yelled at my sister’s fat dog for staring at me.

I think I’m giving you too much information.

Luckily, jam can also be called “Rhubarb Sauce” and it can be drizzled on ice cream. Plus, my sister spread it on some bread and said it was her “new favorite jam.” So that’s all good news.

For the candied peanuts, I decided to  follow a recipe because candying things scares me. I rarely manage to do it successfully. I almost always manage to end up with a pan filled with burnt sugar.

I used Daniel Lebovitz’s recipe because he includes encouraging lines like: “Don’t worry; you didn’t mess up.” The three times that I began to panic, I remembered his words and just kept stirring. Sure enough, I didn’t mess up!

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To compose the dish, I topped a scoop of the ice cream with a dollop of the rhubarb sauce and some chopped up candied peanuts.

The dish was… dare I say it… the bomb. The sweet and nutty peanuts balanced out the sourness of the buttermilk and the rhubarb perfectly. Chef Griffith’s gets all of the flavor credit for what is now one of my five favorite desserts (I don’t really know what the other four are).

Make this. You will not regret it and your mom will love you for it.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Rhubarb “Sauce” (or Jam, whichever you prefer)

Ingredients

  • 5 rhubarb stalks, cut into rough small pieces
  • 3/4 cup of chopped strawberries
  • Juice and zest of one small lemon
  • 3/4 tablespoon of fresh ginger
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

Steps

  1. Dump everything in a pot with a heavy bottom over medium heat.
  2. Bring it to a boil.
  3. Lower the heat and let it cook for 45 minutes.
  4. Smush it.

Buttermilk Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of buttermilk
  • 2 cups of heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Steps

  1. Dump everything in a bottom with a heavy bottom over medium heat.
  2. Stir often. Cook until sugar dissolves.
  3. Cool.
  4. Dump in your ice cream machine and churn according to your machine’s instructions.

Enjoy!!!!

*My favorite thing about rhubarb: in 1947, a New York State Court ruled that rhubarb is officially a fruit. That’s what they spent their time doing.


How to Survive Finals Week (With Some Details About Food Squished In)

Finals Week is a lot like WILD.

You’re probably confused. You’re probably wondering: how can the worst week of every semester be anything like WILD, the biannual day on which every student at Wash U is suddenly a party animal? The same rules for survival apply.

(1) Eat. Don’t try to take an exam on an empty stomach. Instead, grab a ham and bacon jam (YES, BACON JAM) sandwich from the DUC (pictured below). The ham was fresh and the jam was a great combination of sweet and smoky. The baguette was weirdly chewy and the jam was slightly too sweet but the stressed-induced blur means you probably won’t remember most of it anyway.

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(2) Stay hydrated. Coffee is not a substitute for water. In fact, coffee dehydrates. For every coffee you down, drink two cups of water.

(3) Pace yourself. Finals week is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t go too hard too quickly. It’s important that you actually make it to all of the exams.

(4) And finally: try not to pass out in Bear’s Den. 


Pancakes and French Toast from Fasano’s Diner

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It seems appropriate on this, the eve of reading week, to write about late night breakfast. I had really high hopes for Fasano’s. I believed in the power of pancakes. I thought they’d make writing a marketing case in Bear’s Den a little less “bleh.” But I was wrong.

The pancakes were not golden delicious. The pancakes were not even the littlest bit crispy. The pancakes were not cooked all the way through.

The french toast was also disappointing. It wasn’t crispy. The egg hadn’t soaked through so the center was nothing but dry bread.

I’m going to bed because… without delicious pancakes… I can’t go on!!!

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The WU Restaurant: Tongue & Cheek Tavern by Chef Patrick Thrower

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The tables at the Tongue & Cheek Tavern were covered in butcher paper and topped with big white plates, thick cloth napkins, bowls of vibrant turnips, and fresh rosemary sprigs. Chef Patrick Thrower, DUC Executive Chef, and Chef Wil Fernandez-Cruz, the new Chef de Cuisine at Ibby’s, composed the elegant gastropub in the Studio 40 as the last of the five dinners in the WU Restaurant Series.

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The menu demonstrated Chef Thrower’s faith in students. Or his guts. Serving items like “trout rillettes,” “beef tongue pastrami,” and “beef cheek” to 20-year-olds (or anyone really) is definitely risky. It paid off tremendously.

He began with the scariest course: beef tongue pastrami.

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It was served with small pieces of toasted bread, pickled vegetables, and a trio of house-made mustards. The slices of beef tongue looked like fried Spam. We were instructed assemble sandwiches.

I took a bite and could feel my eyes light up. The beef tongue was absolutely fantastically delicious. It was, to my great surprise, not chewy at all. The tender beef tongue melted away. It was rich but balanced out by the acidity of the pickled vegetables and the sharp mustard.

I had to have more. On the second toast, I spread the house-made beet mustard. The beet mustard added a touch of earthiness to each bite. Almost everyone at my table tried and enjoyed the tongue.

The next course: pommes dauphine with horseradish creme fraiche.

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“These are like really fancy tater tots,” I exclaimed. But Stephanie quickly said: “you can’t even put them on that level.” The pommes duaphine were just too good to be compared to any level of tater tot. Henna compared them to “fried gnocchi.”

The pommes duaphine had wonderfully crispy outside and wonderfully fluffy potato insides. Like the beef, each bite melted onto my tongue. I feared the horseradish creme fraiche but it was appropriately creamy and appropriately sharp.

While we were lamenting the pommes duaphone, we were poured tall glasses of house-made root beer.

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According to Chef Thrower, 50 different ingredients were used in the drink. They all worked together to create a root beer unlike any root beer I’ve ever had. The ale yeast in the root beer created an unprecedented depth of flavor.

The next course arrived promptly thereafter: smoked trout rillettes.

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Rilletes is, according to Chef Fernandez-Cruz, a technique for cooking meats and fish. The trout was cooked in butter until super tender. The texture of the trout rilletes was similar to a chunky pate. We spread it on the house-made plantain chips on the table.

Each bite was super salty (in a good way) and super fishy (in a good way). I could taste the shallots and the bourbon that was added to the butter.

When the next course showed up, everyone whipped out their iphones to photograph it. Beautiful beef cheek sliders sat on a bed of grilled radicchio and brussel sprout leaves.

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I took one bite and fell in love. The braised beef cheeks were tender but robust, like braised veal usually is (and braised short rib rarely is… why is it often so chewy??). The bitterness of the greens and the acidity of the onions did effectively lighten up the richness of the beef to create a really well-balanced and delicious slider.

The next course: quail eggs sitting on top of crispy potato hash stuffed with pancetta and beef cheeks.

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Also known as: the world’s most badass breakfast. We topped it with drops of Mexican hot sauce and dug in. The hash was crispy to the nth degree. Chunks of pancetta inside the hash added salty touches while chunks of beef cheek added beefy richness. The delicate quail yolk held its own by adding a bit of moisture.

While we were eating, we were poured glasses of house-made ginger beer.

IMG_6126Each sip was like a ginger-packed kick in the face. The sip would begin slightly sweet and become spicy. It was intense and interesting and refreshing.

Then the next course arrived: Poularde roulades.

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The poularde (which is a hen that is raised in a way that makes it particularly fatty and particularly meaty) was rolled (hence the word roulardes) around corse forcemeat (which is usually an emulsification of ground pork and pork fat and seasoning) and wrapped in prosciutto. It was served with brussel sprouts and cubes of pancetta.

This course was, in my opinion, the most classic dish. It reminded me of Thanksgiving. I loved the crispy prosciutto and loved loved loved the combination of bitter brussel sprouts and salty pancetta.

To end the meal (and the series), Chef Thrower and Chef Fernandez-Cruz had to do not one dessert, not two desserts, but three desserts. First up: strawberry rhubarb crumble.

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It was absolutely awesome. Slightly sour rhubarb and slightly sweet strawberries commingled with the crispy topping to make a dish that was not too sweet, not too sour, not too anything except delicious.

It was followed with plates of “monkey bread,” which was so appealing that I forgot to photograph it. Monkey bread is, according to Chef Fernandez-Cruz, a STL classic. It was small pieces of warm bread covered with a light dusting of spices and a not-light-at-all coating of caramel. Sugar had melted and cooked onto pieces of the bread. It was incredibly sweet but also delicious.

To cut the sweetness, they finished with a cheese plate and some house-made fig jam filled with mustard.

dessertThe cheeses were all from local creameries. The salty cheese combined with the sharp mustard and the slightly sweet figs to balance out of the sugar that’d hit our palates during the first two dessert courses. It was a great finale.

I can’t pick a favorite course. It’s a tie between the beef tongue pastrami, eggs and hash, and pommes duaphine.

Chef Thrower had faith in us. He believed that even students who sustain themselves on half & halves would try the beef tongue and the beef cheek and most of us did try. In fact, we did more than try. We loved the tongue and the cheek at the Tongue & Cheek Tavern.

The WU Restaurant Series began (with Chef Rushing’s The Rusty Spoon) and ended with pop up restaurants that managed to be both welcoming and interesting. Again, I walked away amazed with the passion and talent demonstrated by the chefs at Dining Services. Putting the amount of time and effort it takes to orchestrate such a beautiful, delicious, and interesting 5-course meal requires dedication. I’m impressed and grateful that that dedication is present in a meal on a college campus for students. 

I will spend the entire summer dreaming about delighting in another five-course WU pop up meal. 


Polenta and Swiss Chard Stew from the DUC

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I’ve been avoiding this vegetarian special because, quite frankly, it looks like bleh. Polenta looks like baby food. Swiss chard stew looks like airplane food. But I walked into the DUC from the pouring rain looking for something warm to eat and the polenta caught my eye.

Polenta, from what I understand, is basically grits but the cornmeal grains in polenta are more finely ground. While polenta is now on the menus of many upscale dining locations, it used to be a staple in the meals of Italian peasants because it is relatively inexpensive.

The DUC’s polenta was relatively delicious. It was smooth but slightly grainy so it didn’t feel as mushy as it looked. It was cheesy and creamy and rich and comforting. The flavors (and especially the richness) reminded me of the gnocchi at Ibby’s,

The brocoli, on the other hand, was completely overcooked and soggy. The swiss chard stew had a nice acidity to it but it was kind of boring. And the tofu was really not my thing. It was chewy and bland.

But the polenta. The polenta was good. Really good. So next time I’ll do what the student on line in front of me did and only order a side of polenta (even though the salty creaminess might be a little much).


Rotisserie Chicken from Snarf’s

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I’ve been neglecting my fooducation. I know. My Y.P.A. (yum point average duh…) has dropped dramatically. It’s a shame and I’m sorry. I’ve been running on eight hours minus five hours of sleep for three nights in a row  because Farmplicity.com launched this morning!!!

Farmers are actually listing products and restaurants are actually placing orders through our website. That calls for a celebration. And a gigantic sandwich. A gigantic sandwich can only come from one place: Snarf’s.

Snarf’s is fantastic (and should really think about sourcing their ingredients from local farmers on Farmplicity.com…. see how good I’m getting at the not-subtle-at-all sales pitch). Their sandwiches arrive warm. Perfectly crunchy baguettes cradle the flavorful sandwich fillings.

The rotisserie chicken was moist (might’ve been even moister if it was locally sourced…) and the provolone was rich but it’s the host of toppings that Snarf’s adds (don’t you dare skip any of them) that make sandwiches from Snarf’s so delicious.

The mayo adds creaminess while the mustard brings the sharpness to the table. Onions add a small kick but they’re cooked first so they aren’t overwhelming. The tomatoes add a hint of sweetness while the hot peppers (which I think have been sitting in vinegar) add a slightly acidity and slightly spiciness. Finally, the pickles. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of pickles but Snarf’s make them work. The pickles add crunch and some serious acidity, which elevates all of the other flavors.

I have yet to enjoy a sandwich from any other restaurant St. Louis as much as any sandwich I’ve had at Snarf’s. Please, please, please tell me if you have!


Egg Salad Sandwich from Companion

photo (15)Something about the name “egg salad” seems to gross people out. It belongs on the list of sandwich toppings that kids get bullied for eating (…like tuna and bologna). But I’m an egg salad lover and sticks and stones can break my bones but your taunting words about my love for egg salad sandwiches (and really good bolonga) can never ever ever ever hurt me so HA.

I especially love my mom’s egg salad. And Companion’s menu promised me “egg salad made just like mom’s.”

I have to say, although it wasn’t as deliciously sharp as my mom’s egg salad (p.s. mama… it’s been a while since you made me an egg salad sandwich…), Companion did serve me an awesome egg salad sandwich. The egg salad was fresh and smooth. Large chunks of egg white were held together by creamy yolk and mayonnaise.

While my rule is that I stick to the menu, I made an exception and replaced the rye bread with ciabatta because I hate rye bread. Companion’s ciabatta was perfect. The crust was crunchy and inside was fluffy and holey. That being said, I think a baguette would’ve been a better call because the ciabatta was huge.

In my opinion, the egg salad could’ve used a little more mustard (and that’s why my mom still wins) but it was unequivocally the best dish I’ve eaten at Companion thus far.


Spicy Pork Burrito from Seoul Taco

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I have a thing for finishing lists. Food lists are, for obvious reasons, my absolute favorite. So when JP sent me RFT’s 100 St. Louis Dishes You Must Eat Now, I gasped audibly. I’m going to eat it all. EAT IT ALL. This list will be conquered.*

JP and I began our list adventure with the  burrito from Seoul Taco on the Loop. After enjoying Seoul Taco’s badass Steak Gogi Bowl, I had multiple mediocre Gogi Bowls and then took a Seoul Taco break. But the list convinced me to give Seoul Taco a second try.

I opted for the spicy pork. It was awesome. The burrito was packed with spicy, sticky kimchi rice, bitter greens, and flavorful pork. Sour cream added a bit of tanginess. Seoul Taco won my heart back. And it proved that this list might know what it’s talking about. I look forward to eating the rest of it.

*I’m also currently working on eating through a STL Cheap Eats list, a NYC Spicy Foods list, and the America’s Test Kitchen cookbook so clearly I’m quite busy.


Egg, Spinach, and Tomato Sandwich from the Village

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I’m pretty particular about egg sandwiches. I want runny eggs, sharp cheese, and good bread. Add a little spicy Chipotle mayo (like on the egg sandwich at Ibby’s) and I’m in Heaven.

Despite fully-cooked eggs and the lack of sauce, the egg sandwich from the Village was quite delicious. The cheddar was only mildly sharp but well melted. The whole wheat bread was perfectly toasted. Bright slices of tomato added enough sweetness and flavor to replace any sauce.

Runny yolk would’ve made the good sandwich a great sandwich. Eating an egg sandwich should be a messy ordeal that requires the deft use of bread as a yolk mopper-upper (I did ask for my eggs over-easy but that detail was lost in translation).

That being said, the sandwich really was good and it was way better than the egg sandwiches served on weekday mornings at Bear’s Den.