Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Touring The Food Blogs

I can't let the month of March pass me by without sharing some of my thoughts on food. We all know that there are more food blogs out there than a lot of people think are necessary, but screw them! I half-heartedly maintain my blog because it can be a creative outlet for me to test my skills of organization and creativity. No one has to read it! This blog is for me and I think many of the other bloggers feel the same way. Yes... it can be a venue for business, advertising, etc. and that is fine, but thanks to technology it is whatever you want it to be. Post every day, three times a day, post once a month or every other month so far there are no blogging police!

Before the sun sets on March, I decided to tour some of the blogs I follow and see what inspired a lot of people this month and share those bloggings with you. So here goes:

Blue Kitchen posts regularly, I recently enjoyed reading about a familiar recipe for Matzoh Crack. What is great about this recipe is that although it can be kosher for Passover, it is just a great sweet/salty snack that doesn't need to be limited to the Passover season nor people who celebrate Passover seders. This stuff is great, addictive and can be tweeked to your liking by substituting different nuts and or toppings. The method is the genius here, so check it out.

Caleb Troughton is a web developer/techie kind of guy who is very passionate about food and quite an accomplished cook. I say this because he will tackle anything if it piques his curiosity or offers a challenge. His blog, Food Goes In Mouth, is on temporary hiatus because he is taking a unexpected "retirement" in China. I guess you could call it "retirement" since he is not even 30, but he's figured it all out and I am sure when he finds his Asian legs he'll be blogging again. He won an award not too long ago for a lamb burger, and the recipe is killer! It's a Lamb Slider w/Arugula Gremolata and Gorgonzola Mayonnaise This is not just another burger but worthy of your attention.

I love Greek yogurt and for a while I was hooked on Fage, but always complained about how expensive it was. And then I had a epiphany! I lined a sieve with some paper towels, poured in a large container of plain yogurt, placed that over a bowl and set it in the fridge overnight....voila! In the morning I had thick, rich, creamy Greek-style yogurt at a pittance of the price of Fage. To further punctuate my genius, Mark Bittman writes about this exact same thing. Here is how he recommends you proceed with not making yogurt from scratch, but creating some Greek-style yogurt. If you love the thick and creamy stuff you will know you can successfully substitute it for sour cream on a baked potato, dollop it onto soups, or make Ina Garten's tsaziki There's a myriad of uses, I love it simply topped with honey and blueberries in the morning.

The Easiest Best Scone Yet appeals to me. I love scones but a lot of the recipes call for heavy cream, which is not always in my fridge, but I do keep buttermilk because of it's versatility for cooking. She's In The Kitchen hit it out of the park with this recipe for me, especially because it uses nutmeg and lemon zest and of course it is really easy to substitute for other flavor profiles such as orange, cranberry, etc. The simplicity of procedure and the outcome with a superior scone is worth the try!

Everyone knows I am a java addict, but when I don't feel well I cannot drink coffee. That's a barometer for knowing that I am under the weather. The elixir of my dreams when I am sick is Chai Tea, or I head to the nearest Starbucks and get a Chai Soy Latte. Long have I looked for a home recipe and The Sprouted Kitchen has provided one! This recipe for Spicy Chai Latte makes perfect sense and I won't have to leave the house feeling bedraggled on a hunt for a Chai Soy Latte. I would of course substitute the dairy milk for soy milk since I don't drink dairy milk, but I will have to stock the muscavado sugar which I am sure makes a big difference. This is on my permanent save file!

Eric Gower pens a blog that marries his skills in Asian cooking/seasoning/travels as both a writer, teacher and private chef. His blog has really good information such as "Cooking With Cast Iron" or knife sharpening, cooking with citrus flavors, etc. Many of these are in video format. I check in to his blog from time to time to learn something and I always leave with good ideas. Check out The Breakaway Blog and steal some of his really good ideas!

I love food as most food bloggers do, but Italian food has a special place in my heart. More than any other cuisine, I will shove all other excursions aside when good Italian food is the option. Northern, Southern, peasant, or fine dining...I don't discriminate. What is it about Italian food that makes us all Italian? They say that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day, well I am Italian when I dive into a plate of Italian food! The Italian Chef is one of my favorite sites for inspiration. Many of the recipes are not heavy handed, but a simple, straightforward approach and bursting with flavor. One of my favorite Italian meals is lasagna, but I have gotten into the habit of hand rolling my lasagna. The Italian chef has a version of Hand Rolled Lasagna which is a wonderful Spring dish and the other one is Spaghetti alla Carbonara, I do use pasteurized eggs so that I don't worry about salmonella. Peruse this site and I am sure you will find authentic Italian dishes to add to your repertoire. Mangia!

I can remember as a child pulling taffy in my mom's kitchen with my big sister. It was melt-in-your-mouth wonderful and probably tasted better because we built up so much anticipation while we were pulling it. Today's delight in candy is myriad and although I don't make my own truffles, I do crave a salted caramel. David Lebovitz has a delightfully sweet/salty recipe for Salted Butter Caramels that has that quintessential quality that home made candy delivers. It tastes so good because you use primo ingredients and the anticipation lends to the final delight when you pop one in your mouth. Kudo's to David, you will love the finished product!

Finally, what would a blog written on the advent of Easter be without some ode to lamb. I know we referenced the lamb burger, but it is so simple to roast a boneless leg of lamb and it is so delicious. It is Spring and it is the season of lamb. I found that The Reluctant Gourmet Blog has a nice little treatise on roasting a boneless leg of lamb as well as information on different types of lamb. There are good instructions here but the dish is simple to prepare with a little prep. I tweaked this dish by adding about 1/2 cup of chopped parsley, I buy it boned and butterly it and make sure that I remove some connective tissue and after stuffing with the ingredients in the recipe, tie it up nice and tight. Leftover lamb makes a superlative sandwich with dijon mustard, I cannot say enough about it. I hope you enjoy!

So there are my musings at the end of the month as we "march" into Spring. I had a lot of fun trying to summarize some of these wonderful recipes and even more fun sharing them with you. Long live the food bloggers, they contribute so much to the food that emerges from The Chicago Kitchen!