Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Simple Supper: Crackers and Cheese

I had to work late tonight and the last thing I wanted to do was a) stop at the grocery and, b) prepare something for dinner.  Ok, so that's two things.  Sue me.  I'm tired and make mistakes.  The more tired I am, the longer it takes me to walk the aisles and pick up what I need.  I end up getting stuff I just want.  Here's an example:

Ham, sliced or shaved
Spreadable cheese
Olives, as exotic as you like
Wine of your choice (optional)

1. Take a cracker.
2. Spread cheese on it.
3. Cut and flatten olive into cheese.
4. Cover with a piece of ham.
5. Enjoy followed by a slurp of wine.

How I chose my ingredients:
Crackers - My sister likes crackers with lots of fiber.  She will stand and compare fiber content for way too long.  I pick a cracker by the picture of it on the box.  I like them round with seeds and grains.  If they look like cardboard they probably taste like it.  There is a reason cardboard isn't considered a food.

Ham - I don't like water-logged ham.  I'd rather go to the deli counter and have them slice it fresh.  I like honey baked and black forest.  Roasted or smoked turkey breast is also good if your like my friend Jtran who "don't do no ham".

Spreadable cheese - I'm really not a cheese snob...ok, I am.  However, today I was looking for that processed cheese in the cute foil triangles with the bit of plastic that you pull, but the goat cheese was actually on sale for less.  And I am trying to choose things with less additives and processing.  If you do get goat cheese, make sure it's the spreadable kind.

Olives - I love them--as long as they aren't spicey.  Tonight, though, my eyes were glazing over staring at the rows upon rows of olive jars.  I remembered the deli counter had some and got just a few of three different kinds: baby kalamata, green with minced garlic and green with pimento.  I got about 15 olives for just over $1.

Note: If you don't like to enhance the flavor of your food with wine, you can stop reading here.

Wine - I am currently taken with  Chardonnays, but tonight I wanted a red.  I'm trying to learn to like them because they say the antioxidants are higher.  I do avoid cabernet savignon and merlot because I find them to be too acidic.  Also, I don't like to spend more than $10 for a wine I picked up at the grocery.  Today I got a great one for $5.  It's a California Shiraz from Barefoot and according to the sticker, it's an award winning wine.  I read the description on the back and liked the flavors mentioned.  I'm glad to pronounce it a success!

Just a couple notes on red wine: don't serve it too chilled.  I took it from the shelf of an air conditioned store, so I when I got home I went ahead and served myself some.  I swirled it a bit and let it sit while I made my tray of food.  It's supposed to "aerate" or breathe.  Ask.com explains it like this:
By allowing wine to mix and mingle with air, the wine will typically warm up and the wine's aromas will open up, the flavor profile will soften and mellow out a bit and the overall flavor characteristics should improve.  http://wine.about.com/od/winebasic1/a/breathe.htm

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Delightful Tabouli

If there is anything more delightful than than picking fruit moments before you use it in a meal, I don't know what it is.  Ok, maybe picking your own veggies or spices, though I would not apply said theory to meat.  I do love having a lemon tree in the yard.

A few months ago, I received a package in the mail that made me very nervous.  I was expecting a package of dresses I'd ordered online.  The box I received was very heavy and smelled of onions.  NEITHER quality is desirable in a summer dress.  Turns out my dear aunt Lisa had finally come through on her promise of sending me her favorite tabouli mix... 12 of them!  Suddenly the smell made sense and awoke my hunger.  I found a few tomatoes and a cucumber and ran outside for some lemons.  And set to work.

Bishop Brother Tabouli Recipe (from the package)

  • 1 10oz. pkg Taboli Salad Mix (or use 1/2 lb soft bulgur wheat, 1 bunch of parsley and 1 green onion, both finely chopped)
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 fresh tomatoes chopped finely
  • 1 small cucumber chopped finely (I used an English cucumber)
  • 1/3 Cup vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1/2 Cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Black Pepper
For added taste add (2) green onions with tops finely chopped

Before chopping the above vegetables combine the 2 cups warm water and taboli salad mix together and let soak while preparing the vegetables. After all is chopped now combine all ingredients with the water and mix. Refrigerate at least four hours to allow the ingredients to chill and flavors to mix together. Will keep up to one week if properly refrigerated.

My modifications:

1. I like using English cucumbers because they are less watery, have more flavor, the skin doesn't require peeling and there are no seeds.
2. I found this recipe a bit oily. I reduced the oil to 1/4 cup and used olive oil.
3. I love lemon so I upped the juice measure to 3/4 cup.
4. Green onions are a must in my book.

My discovery: Though advertised as "vegetable cutting knife", bamboo knives are NOT the best way to cut veggies, especially tomatoes.  What should have taken me a few minutes of chopping, actually took me over half an hour.  The serrated knife is great for cutting bread, but I think I'll just keep the straight one for shmearing my bagel.

The picture above is yellowed because it's a batch that we took to the Hollywood Bowl when we went to enjoy Chris Botti's trumpeting sounds.  I forgot to take the picture while it was still daylight.