Archives for the month of: December, 2011

For your listening pleasure: “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” by Ol’ Dirty Bastard (1995)

It’s the winter holiday season! Family, friends, gatherings, celebration, gifts! Awkward conversations with estranged cousins and people you haven’t seen since high school! But we all know what’s most important: THE FOOD.

Oh, the food. Why is it so easy to totally pig out during the holidays? Is it because things seem to taste better when surrounded by loved ones? Have we become too good at rationalizing a second (or third) piece of pie because it’s “just this once?”  The problem for most of us my fat ass, regardless of how I manage to explain it away, comes down to basic self-control. IT’S JUST SO EASY TO STUFF MY FAT FACE. Ok, no more Carrie Bradshaw. Her lifestyle is completely unattainable on a part-time writer’s salary. What is she, a junior-year Journalism major? Please. That show is faux-realistic escapism at its finest. And also, the characters are gay men written as women.

BUT I DIGRESS.

The answer for holiday gluttony isn’t some crash diet or terrible barley-water gluten-free acai berry hollywood cleanse. If (like me) you’re looking for some lighter fare, just get creative with your vegetables.

Your slicing blade may look slightly different, but it should be a similar metal disc with a NINJA-SHARP BLADE attached to it

Your slicing blade may look slightly different, but it should be a similar metal disc with a NINJA-SHARP BLADE attached to it. Go ahead and use those cucumber slices for your exfoliating facial, Samantha.

For this raw broccoli salad, most of the hard work is done by the slicing blade attachment of your food processor. Whether it’s adjustable or you have multiple discs, just made sure you use the thinnest slice possible. The goal is actually a sort of slaw than a traditional salad, which works well to mediate the raw bitterness of broccoli and the pungent fire of shallots. The extra-lemony vinaigrette also does well to combat the rawness of the vegetables. I’ll forego my usual narrative play-by-play for simple directions this time, if only because I don’t have many good pictures.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 to 2 pounds broccoli (with or without stalks, your preference), cut into small pieces
  • 2 medium shallots, skins removed
  • Up to one dry pint of cherry tomatoes (one standard package), depending on how much tomato you want
  • About 3/4 cups raw, unblanched (skin-on) almonds

For the vinaigrette

  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Splash of white wine vinegar
  • 1 -2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
  • About 1/3 to 2/3 cups of olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly-ground black pepper

Preparation

  1. Feed broccoli pieces through the food processor with the slicing disc set to the smallest/thinnest setting. Repeat with the shallots.
  2. Halve tomatoes and add to the broccoli and shallots.
  3. Chop the almonds roughly and add to vegetables as well.
  4. Whisk mustard, lemon juice, lemon zest, vinegar, and salt/pepper together. Once thoroughly incorporated, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until dressing comes together.
  5. Toss dressing with the salad. Eat immediately or refrigerate for a few hours.

If you’re going to let the salad sit overnight or longer, I would add some fresh lemon juice before eating, as the broccoli will absorb some of the liquid and the dressing will lose a bit of its acidity and fresh citrus flavor. The dish, as a whole, is bright, acidic, and so fucking healthy that your bloated waistline will shrink just thinking about it. Perfect for those waiting for gyms to start their bullshit new year resolution sales.

Even as winter's cold gray skies arrive, there is green in the world.

Even as winter's cold gray skies arrive, there is green in the world. And hope.

All things in moderation. Including cookies.

– Max.

This was supposed to be a post about Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. I was going to write about the fond memories of childhood lighting the menorah with my sisters, marvelling at the way the licking flames from our candles would throw shadows onto dark walls, and how each night, the light from the menorah would grow with each new candle, until the eighth night, when the warm glow from the full row of candles made the frost and snow and chilling cold of wintertime feel far, far away.

Instead, my latkes came out like shit.

It could have been my ingredients, perhaps too moist to allow for proper frying. It could have been my pan, a one-time non-stick that had most definitely seen better (and slipperier) days. It could have also been my technique, using both butter and oil to try to get more flavor.

Regardless, my latkes were failures. They didn’t brown properly, they stuck to the pan, and I ended up with pale, mediocre hash browns.

My ancestors weep in their graves at my incompetence.

I had such high hopes. Humility, thy name is latke.

This is not the end.

The latke shall return.

– Max.

Show me a person who doesn’t love peanut butter and I’ll show you someone who is most likely violently allergic to nuts. If that’s you, I can promise that anaphylactic shock should not a problem via WordPress. If you do suffer from an attack while reading the blog, I cannot be held liable for your ailments, because computers don’t give you nut allergies. It’s just science. Quit making shit up, Michele Bachmann.

For those of us who aren’t cursed with nut allergies, peanut butter is more than a foodstuff. It is one of the staples of our childhood, a part of the harmonious and eternal lunchtime sandwich of all schoolchildren, and for some (including me), the best friend that chocolate ever had. However, despite how much we may pine for Jif or Skippy, the reality is that many packaged peanut butters have a number of unsavory ingredients that are both unnecessary for making delicious spreads and indeed unnecessary for our bodies as well. However, all-natural nut spreads are now widely available, but is it necessary for you to spend $7.39 on a 12-ounce jar of that organic cinnamon-cashew-macadamia-coconut spread you’ve been eying at your local gourmet shop? HELL NO. Make it yourself!

I’m fond of my food processor, and I cannot endorse one enough as a worthwhile investment for those who love to cook. Aside from the actual nuts themselves, it is the only item that you need in order to turn most any of your favorite nuts into a delicious spread.

For the picture show below, I went with a bag of Duane Reade honey roasted peanuts. Just dumped the bag into the workbowl and hit the go button. Aside from scraping down the bowl a few times, that is all the effort it takes. The transformation is so amazing, I even repeated it for a few friends who were in my apartment with a pound of standard roasted and salted peanuts. They were AMAZED. Try it at your next social event. Bitches will swoon.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ingredients

  • NUTS, about a pound (whichever you like and however you like ’em.)

Procedure

  1. Empty container of nuts into food processor.
  2. Pulse until nuts crumble and resemble coarse sand. Scrape down the sides of the bowl
  3. Process on and off, scraping down the sides of the bowl until the nuts become very clumpy and ball together, about 1 to 1.5 minutes. Once the nuts have formed large clumps, allow the processor to run continuously until butter forms. Scrape down the bowl again and process briefly.

Note: for a chunkier butter, process just until the spread becomes uniform and, if you like, add a handful of whole nuts at the end and pulse just a few times to chop them a bit and integrate into the butter.

What’s great is that making different spreads is a snap. Start with regular roasted nuts and try adding honey, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, chili powder, cocoa powder or some finely chopped bittersweet chocolate. Also, mixing different nuts together can be a great way to deepen the flavor profile of a butter, so experiment away. Just remember that because your spread has no stabilizers, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, or preservatives, you need to keep it refrigerated.

I know I’m guilty of over-using the phrase “IT’S SO EASY,” but in this case, if you have the machinery, homemade peanut butter really is the easiest thing you’ve ever done.

– Max.

%d bloggers like this: