If you can,

May 4, 2020

pick up a carry out order and support your local Mexican restaurant tomorrow. If you can’t, you can still cook and celebrate in place. Shaking things up with Chef Alex Stupak’s recipe for Cheeseburger Tacos couldn’t be easier. The key is the meat to cheese ratio, basically 1/1. Fill some warm tortillas, top with a few classic toppings and you’re done.

Alex Stupak’s Cheeseburger Tacos   Serves 4-6

1 tsp. lard or vegetable oil
1 lb. lean ground beef
Salt
1 lb. white melty cheese such as chihuahua, Monterey Jack, or Muenster, grated
12 flour or corn tortillas, warmed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 small tomato, cut into 12 slices
1 avocado, cut into 12 slices
½ medium white onion, minced
Mexican hot sauce such as Cholula or Valentina, for serving
Chopped cilantro and lime wedges, for serving

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the lard until it shimmers. Add the ground beef and cook over moderate heat until it’s browned and crumbled, about 10 minutes. Season with salt. Add the grated cheese and stir until melted in,about 3 minutes. Spoon off any excess fat in the pan. Spread the mayonnaise on the warm tortillas. Divide the cheeseburger filling among the tortillas and top with the tomato, avocado, and onion. Drizzle with hot sauce, garnish with cilantro, and serve with lime.

Photos: Evan Sung

 

 

A New Take

February 24, 2020

My favorite Winter salad usually shows up at Thanksgiving and Christmas and perhaps again at the New Year. It’s a simple combination of Frisee’, Bosc Pear, Red Onion, Blue Cheese and toasted Walnuts lightly dressed in a vinaigrette of Olive Oil, Lemon Juice and a touch of Garlic. While I love it’s combination of seasonal ingredients it seems like it’s always been allocated to the category of ” holiday “. While craving it recently, and having no luck finding Frisee’ at the market, I decided to switch it up a bit and substituted Shaved Brussels Sprouts for the greens and have it as an entree salad one night for dinner. The surprise I didn’t see coming is that it’s almost better than the original. Then a few days later I switched it up again using Honeycrisp Apple for the Pear, Maple Cayenne Glazed Walnuts and an even simpler dressing of Olive Oil, Apple Cider Vinegar with a splash of a Maple Syrup. Again…success. Good thing there is plenty of Winter left to add this salad to the weekly rotation.

No measuring here, add as much or as little of each as you’d like. Cutting the pears or apples into small batons compliment the thinly shaved Brussels Sprouts and red onion. Keeping the blue cheese chunky and the Walnut halves quartered results in  sort of chunky chopped salad that hits all the right notes…sweet, savory, creamy and crunchy.

The simplest recipe ever for Maple Cayenne Glazed Walnuts can be found here. https://simplequietmodern.com/2013/11/30/mmmm-maplely/

photos: gp

 

 

 

We’ll See

February 9, 2020

We go through this often…the prediction of an early Spring followed immediately by snow, cold and yes, more snow. It’s Winter. In reality, the official start of Spring is still weeks away…plenty of time to prepare for it’s arrival, get inspired or simply switch things up to ward off cabin fever.

 

top to bottom:

Last year’s garden addition under this years last “dusting”

Forcing an armful of flowering branches definitely speaks to the promise of Spring.

Get super proactive and start now to plan a trip to the New Mexican desert next Winter and paying a visit to the Georgia O’Keefe residence and museum in Abiquiu. photo: https://www.okeeffemuseum.org/

Get on it and shake things up with this Alexander McQueen inspired velvet from Knoll Textiles. If not a chair then perhaps just a pillow will do the trick. Photo: https://www.knoll.com/knolltextileproductdetail/Arezzo

You could always spend more quality time with your favorite sidekick. Yes, even knee deep snow can be fun with this guy.

Now is a great time to revisit, reconsider and actually finish a stalled project. While these balls of newsprint yarn were created during snow days of Winters past, they still sit waiting to be transformed. Now’s as good a time as any.

Pull out that Sharpie and a clean pad. Start sketching and editing and committing some new ideas for your Spring garden projects to paper for when the weather finally breaks.

A little sustenance. The simplest recipe ever…Labneh. This Mediterranean dip and spread is basically Greek yogurt with a good pinch of salt and squeeze of lemon stirred in, placed into a cheesecloth lined strainer and left to drain out the whey over 24 hours. Serve up with a drizzle of good olive oil and a healthy dusting of Za’atar to spread on a variety of breads and vegetables.

 

Photos except where noted: gp

 

 

It’s A Date

December 29, 2019

It’s no secret that I prefer an assortment of “befores and afters” when gathering for the holidays, particularly New Years. Who couldn’t be satisfied with an assortment of appetizers, a glass of something sparkling with a finish of a little something sweet? That said, it’s not ever a bad idea to switch things up and add a something new to your usual mix. I first got hooked on stuffed dates at a favorite restaurant last winter but put off making them at home figuring they were too time consuming. Once I realized they were easily made ahead of time and rewarmed prior to serving, well that changed things. While there is a bit involved in prep, there are only a few ingredients…three actually…plus two pantry items for the glaze…pitted dates, blue cheese and bacon plus a little apple cider vinegar and maple syrup. Stuff pitted dates with a bit of your favorite blue cheese. Cook thin bacon that has been cut in half lengthwise until nearly crisp. While the bacon is still warm wrap each date with a slice and secure if necessary with a soaked wooden pick. Place wrapped dates on a foil lined baking sheet and brush with a glaze made of equal parts maple syrup and apple cider vinegar. Heat in a 400 degree oven brushing with additional glaze until warmed through. That’s it…done. Fair warning, these will go fast so plan accordingly.

While you’ve got the oven on you might take a few extra minutes to knock out a batch of gougere and check your supply of gougere’s best buddy…Champagne. The recipe can be found here. https://simplequietmodern.com/2012/12/18/gougere-i-think-its-french-for/

photos: gp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Down To The Wire

December 24, 2019

Is it just me or has this holiday season seemed like a “drive by”?  I know, with all good intentions of getting your shopping completed early, you find yourself feeling totally behind the eight ball with the clock ticking down fast. Enter the gift card. A quick trip the the grocery store will have you leaving with a pocketful or simpler yet, an hour or so online will have you checking off that list with lightning speed. In no time…in a word…DONE. From cookies to cashmere, wine to winter coats there isn’t anything that isn’t available with a gift card and what recipient wouldn’t love one?  Selecting exactly what they’d like beats having to make a return or exchange by a long shot. Santa has already started his trip on the other side of the world, so if you still have gifts to buy you better get on it.

photo: gp

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Ending

December 20, 2019

Another twist on Nigella Lawson’s Meringue Gelato Cake? Yes sir. Last year’s candy cane version was such a hit I couldn’t resist trying to see how it worked with chocolate and coffee. Turns out it’s fantastic. And, with only the slightest tweaks to the original. I started with stirring two Tbsps of turbinado sugar and two rounded Tbsps of instant espresso powder into 1 1/4 cup whipping cream until dissolved. Chill the cream, your beaters and bowl while you prep a standard loaf pan by lining it with plastic wrap leaving enough overhang to cover your contents once the pan is filled. Then shave into thin shards 1 oz. of semi-sweet chocolate and crush two cups of store bought chocolate meringues…in this case, Trader Joe’s Cocoa Chip. Whip the flavored cream to soft peaks and gently fold in the crushed meringues, chocolate and two tablespoons of Bourbon until combined. Fill the prepared pan with the mixture, smooth, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least eight hours or over night. To serve, umold onto a serving platter and cut into slices. Serve with a simple sauce of equal parts semi-sweet chocolate and cream with a dusting of crushed caramelized hazelnuts for a lovely crunch.There you have it, a perfect ending to your holiday feast. Serves 6-8. Simple enough.

 

The candy cane version from last Christmas can be found here. https://simplequietmodern.com/2018/12/23/simple-finish/

photos: gp

 

Hard to believe,

December 17, 2019

but I am actually enjoying a Poinsettia moment. Really. Like Truman Capote in Jay Presson Allen’s Tru, I too felt that “Poinsettias are the Bob Goulet of Botany”. Decades of over-saturation in the seasonal marketplace have rendered this bright red holiday staple cliche’, cheesy and hopelessly out of date. It was spotting this new variety, Envy, with it’s bright chartreuse coloring that made me stop and rethink it’s potential. While I generally indulge in white Tulips, Amaryllis and Helebore from the Winter Solstice through till Christmas and the New Year, I couldn’t help but think how well this fresh new addition would play with the others, both in the pot and as a cut specimen.

 

Photos: gp with the exception of the Amaryllis photo via https://www.shopterrain.com/categories/blooming-gifts and the last photo via: https://www.gardenista.com/posts/poinsettias-rethinking-traditional-christmas-flower/