Archive for the ‘Before Foodie’ Category

I’ve spent the last few weeks creating a website, and I’m happy to say that stephcooksfood.com is ready to go! From here on out, I’ll be posting over there, so please update your bookmarks. If you are subscribed to this blog by e-mail or RSS, you can update your subscription by rolling over the “Subscribe to this blog” widget on the left sidebar. Hope you like the new site!

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You may have noticed that I changed the title of my blog to “Steph Cooks.” Here’s why.

I named this blog Veggie in the House back when I was a vegetarian, and my focus was on creating vegetarian and meaty versions of the same dish. Now, I definitely still do that, but since I started eating meat again, I’ve drifted away from that model and have started posting all kinds of recipes. Lately, I’ve felt more and more like the blog name didn’t reflect me anymore, so I spend some time thinking about what it should be and settled on Steph Cooks.

So, this is still the same blog, just with a different name. A name that is short, sweet, and happens to make a nice Twitter handle, which reminds me to tell you that I’ve set up @stephcooks for all my food-tweeting needs. So follow me if you want!

Edit: I realized it would probably be better for me to change my existing Twitter account name (@slogerot) to the name I wanted instead of making a new account. Unfortunately, since I’d already created the new account, it’s a little harder than usual to get that done. So, I am working with Twitter to get my new account name, and in the meantime, just follow @slogerot. Sorry for the confusion.

And if you happen to have bookmarked this site, please change the link name to reflect this new name. I really hate to be a pain and ask that. I promise this is the last time I’ll make that request. For reals. I have a yummy egg casserole I’m planning to post tomorrow, so maybe you will like it enough that you forget I even asked.

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Cucumber-Basil Mojito

A few years back, Mason and I went to a Christmas party where the host served some fantastic, slightly sweet cucumber martinis. Ever since, I’ve been a big fan of cucumber in drinks. When I came up with the idea of a cucumber-basil mojito the other day, I thought I was so frickin’ brilliant. A twist on the classic rum drink, adding cucumber and using basil instead of the traditional mint? Surely no one else had come up with the same concept.

Alas, my claim to booze brilliance was short-lived. A few Google searches revealed that I was not, sadly, the first person to come up with this idea. I didn’t like any one of them in its entirety though, and some had no mojito-like qualities at all, like the one that used gin and lemon juice. What? Anyway, I adapted several recipes to come up with my own version, which Mason and I both agree is quite tasty. For a non-alcoholic drink, try using lemon-lime soda instead of the rum.

Cucumber-Basil Mojito

6 basil leaves, roughly chopped
5 1-inch pieces of peeled cucumber, one of which is finely diced*
3 tsp simple syrup (or finely granulated sugar)
2.5 oz dark rum (anyone who tells you that a mojito must contain light rum is a liar, but feel free to use it if you prefer)
Splash of lime juice
Splash of club soda
Slice of cucumber, for garnish

Put basil and syrup or sugar in the bottom of a glass. Muddle the basil with the back of a spoon or the side of a measuring cup — you just want to bruise it to release its flavor. Fill the glass with ice and add rum, lime juice, cucumber, and soda. Stir to blend, and garnish with a cucumber slice. Makes 1 drink.

*I like how the drink looks with both chunks and small pieces of cuke floating around. Also, finely dicing one of the pieces releases a little more cucumber flavor into the drink.

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I’ve been getting a ton of baby carrots in my box lately, as opposed to full-sized adult carrots. Rather than spend a lot of time chopping them up to use as a base in other dishes, I tossed them together with a few other ingredients to create this sweet, simple side dish.

You can probably leave most of the carrots whole, but cut the larger ones in half lengthwise to ensure that they all cook evenly. Also, when you trim the carrots, you can certainly cut the tops off, but I left them on because I like how they look. I added leftover carrots to my lunch salad the next day.

Maple-Glazed Roast Carrots

1 large bunch of baby carrots, trimmed
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well to coat carrots evenly with syrup. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray. Spread carrots on the sheet, place in oven, and bake 20-25 minutes, stirring once, until carrots are tender. You should be able to slide a fork easily into them. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

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Have y’all been there yet? Mason spotted it this morning while he and Ryan were out getting breakfast, so they came home to get me and we headed over. Holy crap. It might be bigger than the downtown Austin farmer’s market at Republic Square park, no joke. They had TONS of farms there — you could get produce, eggs, all kinds of meat, flowers, honey, beignets and pralines, Goodpops (this by itself makes the whole thing worth it — there aren’t many things better than a pineapple basil popsicle), and so much more. They even had musicians playing at a small stage in the front.

Anyway, wanted to give you a heads up to check it out if you get a chance. I just got a box of produce yesterday, but I picked up some home-grown tomatoes there. It opens at 9 am on Saturdays behind the Cinemark in the big shopping center on 1431.

ETA: Found their website.

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We’ve gotten a lot of green onion lately, so I was glad to come across this recipe, which uses an entire bunch (if you use both the green and white parts) and helped me make a big dent in my stash. Green onions are often used as an accent, but here, they’re the star.

I’ve made a few small adjustments for readability and to lighten it a bit (like using low-fat buttermilk instead of full-fat buttermilk). You can easily sub green garlic or baby leeks if you want. These guys were light as air, which I suspect is a result of the combination of self-rising flour and cake flour. Self-rising flour has added salt and baking powder, and recipes that use it don’t usually call for baking powder, but this one does — probably another contributing factor to the biscuits’ airy texture.

Green Onion and Cheddar Biscuits (from Food Network)

  • 1 1/4 cups self-rising flour
  • 3/4 cup cake flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, bench flour
  • 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.

Sift together the self-rising flour, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, squish the butter pieces into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the buttermilk, cheese, and green onions and stir just until the buttermilk and flour come together to form a dough, being careful not to overmix. You’ll know you are there when there’s no more loose flour in your bowl.

Lightly flour a work surface with the all-purpose flour (I just line my counter with wax paper, parchment paper, or foil). Turn out the dough onto the surface and press into a disk about 1/2-inch thick and 8 inches in diameter. The dough will be very sticky, so flour your hands as necessary. Using a 3-inch round cutter dusted in flour, cut into rounds. (Be sure to press straight and downward when cutting the dough — a twisting motion will prevent the dough from rising.) I dust my cutter by simply dipping it into my flour container. Do this each time you cut a biscuit.

Reform the scraps in order to make nine biscuits*. Place on a baking sheet greased with cooking spray (or on a baking sheet lined with a silicone liner like Silpat) and bake until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes.

*The original recipe made seven biscuits, but I must be more efficient than Emeril because I got nine out of the dough.

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Here. For some reason I am nervous about this. But excited, too!

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You all know I’ve been a fan of Greenling for a while. Well, they recently approached me about maintaining their Eating Out of the Local Box blog, and I gladly accepted their offer! Starting in the next week or two, look for my posts over there. They’ll feature recipes that use the contents of each week’s Local Box, a bin of tasty, fresh, in-season local produce. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll be receiving a free Local Box each week (which I am so, so excited about, btw).

I’ll still be blogging here, of course. Because I occasionally make food with non-Greenling items. And because sometimes I may want to write random stuff that has little or nothing to do with food.

Anyway, I’m really grateful for the opportunity to write for Greenling. Here’s to the next great adventure!

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I usually spend Sunday evenings fixing a meal that takes a lot of time, something we can eat from for a few days. Tonight, though, I went with something easier, but still delicious — gotta have time to watch the Oscars! It’s sort of a tapas spread, with yummy cheeses, cured meats, and a few different spreads.

Peppered salami and a salami made with Chianti:

Two kinds of crackers, strawberry chipotle jam from local Blanco Valley Farms, classic Maytag blue cheese, smoked gouda, local Wateroak Farms chevre, and Wensleydale cheese with cranberries (could they sound more British?):

Homemade hearth bread with flaxseed:

Antipasti spread from the olive bar at HEB: artichoke spread, bruschetta, and peppadew peppers. Yum!

Some of it plated. I added grapes and apples to the cheese and meat:

My plate. Mmm! A few combos I tried were blue cheese and apple, and strawberry-chipotle jam and chevre. So good! I added some egg salad to my spread to get in some extra protein. Oh, and we had a Finca el Origen malbec with the meal. Nothing like a lush red to round it all out.

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Just as I thought I was done with cabbage after last week’s huge one, another large Napa cabbage showed up in my Greenling box this week. This one was a runt compared to last week’s, weighing in at only 4 lbs, 7 oz. But that’s still a big veggie.

So, I started an Internet hunt for recipes that use a LOT of cabbage. This scalloped cabbage casserole looked promising so I gave it a shot. After making several tweaks to adjust the flavor (1 tsp of marjoram is a lot) and healthiness (so is 5 tbsp of butter), we had a winner.

Even if you don’t like cabbage, this casserole could win you over. It involves cabbage and carrots parboiled until crisp-tender, combined with a light bechamel sauce, and covered with cheese and breadcrumbs. I promise, at the end, it doesn’t taste anything like that boiled cabbage your parents made you eat on New Year’s Day.

Scalloped Cabbage Casserole

8 cups thinly sliced cabbage (Napa or green)
2 large carrots, shredded
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 tbsp Smart Balance (or other trans-fat-free butter substitute)
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1 1/2 cups reduced-fat cheddar cheese (or cheddar cheese blend)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried marjoram

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add cabbage and carrots and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Melt 2 tbsp of Smart Balance in a skillet on medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 7 minutes. Combine flour, salt, pepper, and milk in a small bowl, whisking until smooth. Add to onion and cook 2-3 minutes, until thick. Remove from heat.

Place half of cabbage mixture in a greased 2-1/2-qt. baking dish. Top with half of the sauce; sprinkle with half of the cheese. Repeat layers. In a small skillet, melt remaining butter. Add crumbs, marjoram and thyme; cook and stir until lightly browned. Sprinkle over casserole.

Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until the top is browned. Makes 8 servings.

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