Monday, May 30, 2011

Beer Battered Fish

It's bathing suit season, so what better time to supply you with tons of recipes for fried foods?!  Every week in June I will be bringing you a recipe for something fried and oh-so-delicious.  Delicious in a way only fried foods can be.  Also, they will be stinky in a way only fried foods can be.  For those who have ever fried anything at home, you know that you could never get away with secretly frying something and hoping your roommate wouldn't know.  They will always know, because your house smells, well, fried for about 24 hours.  Luckily fried food is worth the smell and the calories.  So let's get to frying, shall we?

John and I absolutely adore fish and chips, and John especially orders it about half the time it pops up on a menu.  I'm not quite so brave, because a bad fish and chips is pretty bad.  Blechmania.

After making beer battered fish at home and realizing it was a) incredibly easy and b) the best fried fish I've ever had, I may not ever order it at a restaurant again.  I'm becoming a bad restaurant patron.  The more things I learn how to make, the more annoyed I am that places can't figure out how to make it properly when I use a simple recipe and get it right on the first try.  I'm not talking rocket science, obviously.

The crust on this fish is everything you hope for in beer battered fish, crispy, thick, and fried to perfection.  I used a Paula Deen recipe, because I think we all know she would know how to fry up some fish.  Well guess what, you can now know how to try up some fish too, and you will be amazed at how picture perfect it comes out!  It's worth stinkin' up your house for this amazing fried fish!

Beer Battered Fish
From Paula Deen

1 bottle of beer
2 cups flour, divided
Shake of kosher salt
Small shake of black pepper
Shake of garlic powder
1 1/2 pounds cod fillets (without skin or bones), cut into 1 inch wide diagonal strips

Preheat canola oil in dutch oven to 375 degrees.  Depending on the size of your pot, you will need varying amounts of oil, but make sure the oil is at least 2 inches high.

In a large bowl, pour 1 bottle of beer.  Sift in 1 1/2 cups of flour and whisk gently until combined.  Add one large shake of kosher salt, a small shake of black pepper, and a shake of garlic powder and whisk to combine.  Cut cod into 1 inch-wide diagonal strips and pat dry.  Season with salt and pepper on both sides.  Dredge the fish pieces in the remaining 1/2 cup flour and dip in beer batter.  Add several pieces of battered fish to the oil at one time, but not so many that the oil is overcrowded or the fish will stick together.  Make sure to mix the oil after adding the fish so the pieces don't stick.  Turn the fish frequently and cook until cooked through, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and season with salt immediately.  Keep warm in a 225 degree oven while cooking the rest of the fish.  Serve hot with tartar sauce, recipe follows.

Tartar sauce

3 large spoonfuls of mayonnaise
1 forkful of sweet pickle relish
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Lots of kosher salt and black pepper

Whisk together all ingredients and serve with fried fish.  Use more mayonnaise if you want it thicker.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day, everyone!  This year our beach house at Stinson actually had wireless internet, but I haven't been using it much, and I definitely haven't been blogging.  I'll post more soon, but I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend.  Many dog pictures to follow.  :)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Five Things

Work is really picking up (I can think of a few other words to describe it, but I'll leave it at that) this week, so I still have loads of blog entries I am behind on posting.  At least I managed to get this Five Things post ready, since I know it is read by one or two people at their boring jobs on Friday mornings.  While you are reading this at work, I will be in a car on the way to Stinson Beach with hubs and Harps in tow.

As if this week wasn't exciting enough with vacation, John and I went to the Glee concert on Wednesday!  It was incredible.  Rachel, Mercedes, and Blaine were the best, and Finn was surprisingly okay.  Artie is an amazingly good dancer, and the Warblers stole the show.  All good Gleeks should go!

I've officially made the switch to natural peanut butter.  I was positive I wasn't going to like it, and I ended up loving it.  It tastes like peanuts instead of like sugar, not surprisingly, I suppose.  I definitely recommend you try it if you've been resisting.  It's pretty great!

I bought avocados at Costco on a whim, and it meant I had to use five avocados by myself in a week.  As it turns out, I love avocados even more than I thought I did.  My new obsession is chopped avocado on top of cheesy nachos with grape tomatoes.

Another blog I read has a list of her favorite things, and she has lead me into temptation with these chocolate covered sunflower seeds.  I never would have bought them otherwise, and now I cannot.stop.eating.them.  They are like M&Ms but with more flavor.  They sell them at Trader Joe's and my favorite teeny grocery store in town.  Buy them with caution!

My mom knew what I wanted before I did when she got me As Always, Julia.  This book chronicles the letters between Julia Child and Avid DeVoto.  I am staying up late every night reading the letters passed between these two intelligent and articulate women.  It's probably not really for people who aren't fascinated with Julia and cooking, but for those of us who are, it's a must-read!  

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Chicken Marsala

You cannot exactly order chicken marsala in a restaurant without mushrooms.  Not with a straight face.  Or not if you have such a low threshold for embarrassment, like I do.  It's like ordering the cashew chicken without cashews.  Or ordering beef and broccoli without the broccoli.  (Though I admit marsala does not translate to mushrooms, but it's still the same jist.)

It's a good thing that I learned how to make chicken marsala myself, since I obviously could not break the embarrassment barrier.  Because clearly I need to avoid embarrassment in front of the waiter.

Chicken marsala is delicious, by the way, even without mushrooms.  If you happen to be a mushroom eater, I have thrown you a bone and included the mushroom steps in the recipe.  You owe me.  It was painful to even pretend I would make it with mushrooms.

My dad was the one who introduced me to chicken marsala.  He used to order it all the time with loads and loads of mushrooms, and I would scrunch my nose up and make comments about how mushrooms were like cut up slugs.  Classy.  He wold offer me a bite, and it's safe to assume I never took him up on that offer.  Luckily for me, he began making it at home for the family, and knowing my proclivities, even made it without mushrooms.

For those who haven't had chicken marsala, it's a tender chicken breast covered in a sweet, buttery sauce.  Two chicken breasts actually create enough food for four people...unless you happen to love chicken marsala as much as me and John.  Best of all, this is a perfect weeknight meal that you can whip up after a hard day of lawyering (or doing whatever it is you do other than read my blog).

Chicken Marsala
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse

1/2 cup flour (seasoned with a shake of paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, oregano, thyme)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half and pounded thin
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons butter, divided
(3 cups sliced mushrooms, if you so desire)
3/4 cup marsala sweet wine
1 cup chicken broth
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

In a shallow bowl mix flour with seasonings.  Dredge chicken breasts in flour and shake off excess.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large pan over medium high heat until very hot.  Add one tablespoon butter and add the four pieces of chicken.  Cook until lightly browned on both sides, about three minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate for a moment.  Add another tablespoon butter and if you are interested, add mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are browned.  Add 3/4 cup marsala and bring to a boil, scraping to remove browned bits.  When the sauce is reduced by half, add 1 cup chicken broth and cook for three minutes until sauce has thickened.  Lower heat to medium and add the chicken breasts to the pan again and continue to cook until chicken is fully cooked and sauce is thickened.  Stir in remaining two tablespoons of butter and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve chicken topped with sauce.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Friendship Bracelets

Harper is so lucky to have a best friend like Mochi that live two doors down from us.  They are so close she and Mochi are on the verge of braiding friendship bracelets for one another.

They don't have time to braid those friendship bracelets when there are sticks to play with (or sticks with which to play, if you are interested in grammar).

I told you there were a lot of sticks around.

But not enough sticks to go around, apparently.

On Saturday, Mochi spent all day with Harper while his parents were flying out to Illinois to pick up his new golden doodle sister.  I had a lot of fun with them both, and it was nice to have two dogs to keep me company while John was out of town.

As much fun as I have with the dogs, I'm not sure I will ever be able to do this with them.

And I'll never be as fast as Mochi when playing chase.

I could never compete with this cuteness either.

Harper definitely looks up to Mochi, since he is a mature two year old, afterall.

This picture is cute for other reasons, mostly for how miserable Harper looks.  

For the record, I am not responsible for this last photo!  I didn't take any of them, to be honest.  They were all taken by Mochi's mom, Joyce, whom Harper adores...perhaps even more than me and John.  But not more than she adores Mochi!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Injured Pup

Poor little Harper suffered quite the injury this week, as evidenced by her candy cane bandage..

Needless to say this bandage didn't last long (about 16 hours), so I never got a chance to take good non-blurry pictures in the daylight.  She knew she wasn't supposed to chew at the bandage, so she waited until I left for my run to have at it.

Earlier in the week she was limping a little bit, licking her foot, and pulling away when I tried to investigate.  I thought her dew claw had gotten snagged somehow, so I made an appointment at the vet.  After five minutes of investigating, the vet was about to conclude she had twister her wrist when he found a spot that looked like a scrape (it's hard to see with her long hair).  After shaving her little paw he saw that he had a puncture wound that had caused an infected abscess.  Then for the next 20 minutes I tried not to faint as they drained, washed out, and cleaned my little pup's paw.

Needless to say, Harper did not enjoy the experience much and may not happily prance into the vet's office ever again. She's on antibiotics (via puppy's first peanut butter) and her limping is down a lot.  The vet said it didn't look like a dog bite, but more like a stick had somehow punctured the top of her paw.  Bizarre, I know.

Moral of the story, always follow your gut and take your dog to the vet!  Harper is on the mend, thankfully, and will be staying away from sticks for awhile.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Five Things

John has been out of town most of the week so it's just me and Harps holding down the fort.  Well, me, Harper and my Sex and the City DVDs.

Is there anything quite as fabulous as a warm Krispy Kreme doughnut?  I seriously doubt it.  These should be in my top five things every week.  Thank God for my secretary brings them to work all the time so I can get my fix.  If you're going to be an addict it might as well be for something that's worth it.  

John had been making us pasta for awhile before I realized the towels-and-pasta-covering-every-surface-in-our-kitchen thing left some serious room for improvement.  Pasta drying racks aren't particularly en vogue (we had to order ours from Amazon), but it's a great invention for anyone making fresh pasta.  If you want a husband to make you fresh pasta, I'm not sure Amazon has that one figured out yet.

Does anyone else like to dress up a weekday dinner table with a cute pitcher full of water?  Well, I obviously do.  This would be even better at brunch filled with fresh orange juice, but we have to take it one step at a time, right?

I have recently rediscovered homemade nachos, this time with all the fixings!  Leftover slow cooker chicken taco meat makes for even more amazing nachos, and you can make use of the cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, and scallions you have hanging out in the fridge.  Layer the meat and cheese in between a few layers of chips and cook in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes until all the cheese is melted.  It works even better if each person has their own little nacho pan so they can doctor it up how they want and you don't even need plates!  Brownie pans and the like work great for this.

After a fun doodle romp at Crissy Field, I had the best hot dog of my life at Let's Be Frank.  It was a very dog-filled day.  A spicy pork hot dog came without the guilt (because their dogs are made with better meat than the average Oscar Meyer) and instead came with grilled onions and spicy "Devil Sauce."  I couldn't believe how amazing it was.  A crisp root beer on the side didn't hurt either.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Edible Schoolyard

Wouldn't you have loved to go to a middle school where you learned that asparagus grows one stalk at a time straight up from the ground?

And instead of another day learning about world history you got to get some fresh air and tend to the dinosaur kale?

Unless you live in Berkeley, this probably isn't going to happen, but if you have a school that is a part of Alice Water's charity, Edible Schoolyard, you are in luck!

John and I visited Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School a couple weekends back for the Edible Schoolyard charity plant sale.  They had a bluegrass band playing in the yard, middle schoolers were giving tours of the garden, you could buy plants for your garden started by the students, and you could buy food from some of Berkeley's finest to support the cause.

When Alice Waters has a charity, she probably has no problem getting the local purveyors to donate!

All the middle schoolers seemed cheerful and happy to be there.  I got a good laugh over a mom in front of me scolding a middle schooler for gossiping about his friend (who had just walked away).  Don't miss that part of middle school!

There was a huge pizza oven in the garden where piping hot pizzas were coming out every few minutes.

You can bet that John and I had two pieces each!

The school even has their own hen house where I presume they get fresh eggs.  This little one seems to be looking forward to attending school here!

It was a great even and John and I are definitely planning on going again next year.  Maybe we'll win one of the raffle prizes for a dinner for two at Chez Panisse!  A girl can dream, right?  

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Seedy Underbelly

Have you ever wondered what it's like to be a food blogger?  You haven't?  Well, too bad, because I am too lazy to write up a real post.  The seedy underbelly of food blogging isn't the least bit seedy, of course, unless sesame crusted ahi is involved or something.

I photograph almost every new meal I make, unless I am fairly convinced it isn't going to taste great.  This doesn't mean that everything I cook makes it onto the blog.  There are three reasons something doesn't get posted: (1) the photographs didn't come out appealing, (2) I get bogged down posting other things and never get around to posting the recipe until I've already forgotten what tweaks I made, or (3) the food just didn't taste great.

If I can take the photos in natural light, they are guaranteed to look better than with a flash or under my kitchen lights.  I was really thrilled with the way this spinach mac and cheese looked in these photos, but sadly the recipe was just good, but not great.  I liked it, but I didn't love it, so I would never post it on the blog and encourage my readers to make something I wasn't fully behind.  My tastes might not always match up with yours, but I can promise I don't endorse something just so I can have something to post about.  (I have about 30 posts waiting in the wings already anyway!)

If it weren't for this blog, I can't imagine I would make the variety of foods that I do.  It's easy to get stuck in cooking ruts, but when you blog about what you cook, you are always on the lookout for new and interesting things to make.  I can almost guarantee I never would have fried zucchini chips or made my own almond bark if not for my little spot on the web.  I spend a lot of my free time (that not spent posting on my blog) looking at other food blogs, reading food magazines, and browsing cookbooks.  I'm always on the lookout for what to make next, and, frankly, there aren't enough hours in the day to let me get through my ever-expanding list of must-make recipes.

While dining at Chez Foodiebia you may be fortunate to eat something new or unique pretty often, but you will have to suffer through the inevitable photo shoot before you can dig in.  My mother taught me well, no one can have a bite to eat until the host has sat down and lifted her fork.  Well, you can bet I enforce this rule nightly, and poor John has to sit there with his food right under his nose while I compose my photo and snap off about 50 shots or so.  He moans and groans about this every time, but I don't think anyone feels sorry for the husband of a food blogger.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Easiest Strawberry Ice Cream

It's ice cream season again, people.  This can't possibly make you as happy as it make me, because I am ecstatic.  Ice cream is one of my all-time favorite foods and it allows for almost endless possibilities in the kitchen with my handy-dandy ice cream machine.  John wishes I would stick to plain chocolate, but in the wonderful words of HIMYM..."No can dos-ville, babydoll!"

This year I decided to ease into ice cream making season by making a no-fuss ice cream recipe, probably one of my easiest ever.  There are no eggs, so no cooking is required - yippee!  There is no straining, because we just don't care enough to get the seeds out - hooray!  (Honestly the seeds aren't noticeable)  There are only five ingredients, and none of them are fancy - woohoo! 

We had this book growing up that my dad would read to me and my brother before bed - it was called Simple Pictures Are Best.  I can't remember the details of the book, but that saying has really resonated with me my whole life.  My mom and I would say it to each other when making posters for projects, hanging up frames on a wall, or drafting the family Christmas card letter.  Simple pictures are best, and that's why this ice cream is so perfect. 

There is a time and a place for fancy ice cream, but this classic recipe did the trick last weekend.  It tastes exactly like you want and imagine homemade strawberry ice cream to taste like.  Like summer.

So go buy the juiciest strawberries you can find and break out your ice cream maker that was collecting dust.  It's ice cream time!

Easiest Strawberry Ice Cream
From A Cozy Kitchen

1-1 1/4 pounds strawberries, leaves removed and halved if large
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy cream

Place strawberries in a blender and puree until smooth.  Add sugar, lemon juice and salt to blender and mix a bit with a spatula.  Add the 2 cups cream to the blender and puree until smooth.  Cover and place blender bowl in fridge for 1-3 hours, until very cold.  Churn in ice cream machine according to instructions (~40 minutes on mine).  Place in freezer to firm and remove 10 minutes before scooping to allow it to soften.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Lost in Space

Sorry for the weirdness on the blog lately, Blogger has been having issues and seemed to erase my last post.  I couldn't post my Friday Five Things, and I'm too scared to write out a real post for fear it will be lost in cyberspace.  Essentially I've lost my trust in Blogger!

In the meantime, I'll continue eating garlic bread for dinner and photographing it.  Hopefully I'll be back to regular posting again soon.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Spring Asparagus and Broccoli Soup

It seems like asparagus is everywhere nowadays - getting prime position in the grocery store and prime recipe spots in blogs and newspapers.  You know what else is everywhere - ramps.  Every blog I read is talking about ramps, but I barely know what a ramp is and have little desire to buy ramps when asparagus is calling my name.  We buy one or two bunches of asparagus every week at the farmers market and love having it simply roasted with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  (We buy zero bunches of ramps.)

The roasting routine can get a little tired a month into asparagus season, so this year I decided to make asparagus soup.  I randomly picked up a recipe card at Whole Foods for the first time in my life, and low and behold, this recipe is a winner (with some tweaking).  It takes only slightly more effort than just roasting the asparagus and you get a whole meal out of it.  The potatoes provide a wonderful creaminess and body to a soup that is essentially made up of broth and vegetables.  Just a small amount of cream - a half cup - provides what I consider the necessary fat to make the soup really sing.  Don't skip the cream, folks, life is too short.

Make sure to add plenty of salt, freshly ground pepper, and Cayenne pepper to this soup to season it how you prefer.  I like my soups pretty spicy so I kept going back to my trusty Cayenne bottle.  Now is the perfect time to make this soup while asparagus is in season, but the cooler temperatures still invite a nice warm bowl of soup for dinner.  Check back here next year to see if I've finally figured out why I would bother with ramps, but in the meantime let's all just make this soup and be thankful spring provides a more accessible vegetable.

Spring Asparagus and Broccoli Soup
Adapted from Whole Foods

6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 leek, white and light green portions sliced
2 large or 3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 bunch asparagus (~1 lb), ends snapped off and spears cut into 1 inch pieces
2 heads broccoli, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup cream
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Kosher salt, to taste
Chives, chopped, for garnish

Heat 1/2 cup broth in large pot over medium high heat until bubbling.  Reduce heat to medium and add chopped leek.  Cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add remaining broth and chopped potatoes and bring to a boil.  Stir in asparagus and broccoli and return to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until vegetables are tender, 15-20 minutes.  Puree using immersion blender or removing slightly cooled portions to a regular blender.  Stir in 1/2 cup cream and add lots of salt and pepper (including some Cayenne for kick) to taste.  Serve with chopped fresh chives.
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