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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