October 5, 2007

Scrapin' Up the Bits... Carrots style

Enough about Giada’s cooking… assets. According to Serious Eats, today is National Taco Day.

Here is the recipe for tacos I’ll be preparing this evening…

  • 1 lb or so of ground beef
  • 2 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup of finely diced onion
  • 1 tbs cumin
  • 2 tbs chile pepper powder (not chili powder)
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 cup of medium salsa (the only store-bought salsa I will even eat is Jardine's)
  • Chopped tomato
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Shredded cheddar
  • Diced avocado
  • Sour cream

Cook the garlic and onion in a little olive oil over medium heat until onions are soft. Add cumin, stir, and cook for another minute or so. Add ground beef and cook minutes until browned. Stir in chile powder, salsa, and cinnamon and let cook for 10 minutes or so until heated through and flavors have melded. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Eggs for dinner… We love frittatas in our house. This one – which has Swiss chard in it, low on my scale of favorite greens -- ranks right up there with any we’ve ever made. My only deviations from the recipe were to use less onion than it called for, and not to add more parmesan on top before putting it in the oven.

Halloween Brews… As I said in the last post, I love September. It marks the arrival of fall, the return of the major European futbol leagues (Forza Roma!), the reintroduction of jeans as everyday wear, and the first beers of the holiday season, namely, pumpkin ales.

Now, I’ve had some bad pumpkin ales. Most noteworthy among those was one I had 8 or 9 years ago at a brewpub in Gaithersburg, Md. I actually didn’t have the whole beer, just a sip or two from a sample, because the bartender admitted that something had gone wrong during brewing, and the pumpkin ale tasted more like a bitter Goldschlager ale.

Not surprisingly, Dogfish Head makes an excellent Punkin’ Ale. Although, I have to be honest, this year’s version is a little sweet. Nevertheless, the true beer snobs seem to like it. I can assure you that it won’t go to waste in our house.

Puttin’ on the Grease… This week’s Fast Food Abomination of the Week goes to Applebee’s.

I understand that, technically, Applebee’s isn’t a fast food joint. I guess it’s considered a “casual dining” restaurant. Nevertheless, its recently introduced gimmick, Applebee’s Ultimate Trios, easily lives up to the FFA standard. It allows a diner to order, for service on a single plate, a choice of “boneless” chicken wings (aka, chicken tenders in wing sauce), mini bacon cheeseburgers, mozzarella sticks, dynamite (fried) shrimp, crispy fiesta wrappers (also fried), or the what I can only assume is the inaccurately named Tuscan cheese spread.

In other words, pass the Prilosec and see your cardiologist in the morning.

Odd combinations… I am a big Mark Bittman fan. I have How to Cook Everything and refer to it regularly. I also faithfully read his New York Times column. This week, however, he has a recipe for a zucchini & pear soup. Color me green with skepticism.

In the mood for lamb… Last Saturday, before our foray to Little Italy Days, we swung by the Farmers at the Firehouse farm market in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. While there, we purchased some honey, fresh lemongrass, and a few lamb steaks that I’m looking forward to preparing, although I have no idea how. This, however, sounds extremely appealing. And, while it might be a little bit of extra work, the chickpea fries recommended to accompany it seem like they might be, as the Brit announcers of European futbol games are fond of saying, simply sublime.

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