Sunday, March 30, 2008

Everyday Indulgences

Olive Oil is something on which I've become quite reliant over the past few years. I am not sure when exactly this near-addiction began, but I do know that my friends think I use absurd amounts of the stuff. Olive oil is quite literally an everyday indulgence for me.

One of the most embarrassing moments in the history of my olive oil addiction took place at an Italian restaurant with some friends. This was the kind of restaurant where a bottle of olive oil is placed in the middle of the table--alongside some herb mixture and grated parmasan cheese, for you to pour onto your bread plate--for dipping pleasure. Our table's bottle was near the end of its life, with only a quarter to a half cup remaining. I soak up more than my fair share of olive oil with bread and was of course thrilled that our server brought a replacement bottle!

I don't remember what my main dish was, but I do remember the looks on my friends' faces when I poured olive oil all over my food in a manner that others typically reserve for pouring maple syrup on pancakes or waffles. These friends then proceeded to make comments about how they thought I deserve to be much fatter for my [over] consumption of Olive Oil. They might be right, or they might be jealous. I'd like to believe the latter.

And my love of the golden juice is not limited to consumption in food. I have been known to use it as a moisturizer and have tried it as an ingredient to several other homemade health/beauty "remedies".

After hearing that Olive Oil Gelato was on the menu at Mario Batali's Otto, I knew this was something that I had to try. While this might not sound very appetizer to lesser fans of Olive Oil, I'm sure you can tell that I was up for the challenge!

I was looking forward to sampling other items from the "authentic Italian, with a trendy NYC Twist" menu, but couldn't really get my mind off dessert during the courses leading up to it. The antipasti were delicious teasers, and I enjoyed the stone oven baked Quattro Formaggio Pizza more than I expected, but the Olive Oil Gelato really is what made the visit most worthwhile!

I tried the Olive Oil Coppetta, which was Olive Oil Gelato served with Sorbets of Blood Orange and Tangerine, a side of Candied Kumquats, and a Fennel Wafer. The olive oil taste was subtle, but was complemented well by the Fennel Wafer and light sprinkle of sea salt. I liked the candied kumquats and tangy fruit sorbets, but they were a little overpowering for my palette that was searching for the flavor of olive oil.

Overall, I give the Olive Oil Gelato at Otto Pizzeria Three Forks Up (or in this case, Spoons Up). If you get the chance to try it, I think you'll be surprised at how delicious it is and how well it pleases the different sense regions on your taste buds.

Next time I'm at Otto, I will definitely be ordering the Olive Oil Gelato, sans coppetta. I may even get a pint to take home!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Foodie Blogroll

I kept coming across blogs I really liked and realized a pattern; many of them were listed on the Foodie Blogroll. Aspiring to join their ranks, I applied and am now a member!

Random Yummies is about my random adventures in eating & all things food related. I'm Moxie.. someone who never skips breakfast and frequently plans travel around the food. I live with J, my partner in crime. We don't always have the same tastes in food, but they do say opposites attract.

Welcome to any new viewers from the Foodie Blogroll!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Bunny Day!

I discovered these gems on a random trip to Target. And I could not resist...

I'm not a big fan of candy bars. Some nice dark chocolate wins over a Snickers or a Hershey's bar any day. But Kit Kats have a little place in my heart, for some reason. I've placed orders for varieties of Kit Kats not available in the US when family members traveled overseas. I really like the Tiramisu Kit Kat and Kit Kat Chunky, but have many more flavors still to try! (The ones I'm most keen on finding are: Cherry Blossom, Noissette, and Strawberry).

These bunnies were fantastic and fun! Lucky for me J was trying to be healthy and I got to eat his share of bunnies, too!

And did you know that Kit Kats have been around since 1931? These little treats are older than some of my grandparents!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Pastah Disastah

So, I was being a little bit adventurous and decided to try some Angelhair pasta made from rice, rather than the usual wheat or semolina. Rice seemed innocent enough; a lot of Asian noodles are made from rice, and they are quite yummy.

Though I followed the cooking directions on the package precisely, the pasta turned out terribly. It was not very enjoyable to eat, and after sampling, I had to convince J to have a small serving for dinner so we wouldn't have to toss it all out.

When it was not quite al-dente, the Rice Angelhair tasted like uncooked rice. Thirty seconds later, it tasted like mushy rice (in a bad way). It was very glutinous, sticky, and the noodles wanted to break apart into hundreds of tiny pieces. This was not very conducive for tossing with sauce.. or eating.

I felt bad wasting so much, so I loaded it lots of tomato sauce, and more freshly cracked pepper and parmesan cheese than usual so that I could disguise the taste of the pasta itself. This is not one of my proudest cooking moments, but it's a lesson learned. I'm glad I only bought one box, as I certainly don't plan to buy this type of Rice pasta again!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Bánh Mì

While being relatively familiar with several kinds of Asian foods, Vietnamese is a cuisine that I have not had very much experience eating. To my good fortune, I got to sample some bánh mì--Vietnamese sandwiches--at a work function a few months ago.

A tofu sandwich may not sound that exciting to many people, but those people are missing out if they haven't tried Tofu Bánh Mì!

This sandwich packs incredible amounts of flavor and is unlike the usual suspects you'll find in the traditional American sandwich shop. I probably would never have thought to put carrots or cilantro (coriander) on a sandwich, but this combination worked really well for "sandwich greenery" (along with cucumber slices). The slight crunch of the carrots and cucumber added good bite. As a big fan/infrequent chomper of cilantro, I especially appreciated the robust flavor of the herb.

The sandwich is both tangy and sweet. I'm not a big fan of mayonnaise, but on this sandwich it's mixed with some vinegar and sugar. These flavors go well with the tofu and greenery and really help bring the sandwich together.

And did I mention the baguette? This hardy French bread is certainly a nice change from the flavor- & personality-deprived bread that has somehow become the standard for bread in this country. But the best part about bánh mì (apart from the incredible yumminess, of course), is the price... When I scouted out my own bánh mì, I only made a dent of $2.50! Bánh mì certainly beats the unsatisfying and overpriced sandwiches from those chain joints.

So, if you have never tried bánh mì, the morale of the story is to track down the nearest Vietnamese joint and taste it for yourself. Not only are you likely to find a great food bargain, you will you give your tastebuds some excitement.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Long time no post...

“Tofu-lo Wings” were a big hit. I used container’s worth of tofu (which is 1 pound), and I’ve never seen tofu be devoured so quickly. Next time I will try to bake them in the oven so they don’t have to go swimming in oil. They were nice and crispy on the outside, and were soft yet chewy on the inside. And the flavor of buffalo goodness was good enough to satisfy any craving.

Perhaps next time I’ll be brave and try some Blue “Cheese” to go along with it. I’m a little weary of vegan cheese recipes. They often sound better than they taste. The Tofu-lo Wings were tasty enough to not need an accompaniment, but most snack foods are better with a partner in crime for dipping!

Tofu-lo Wings

1 lb. Extra Firm Tofu
Canola oil (or other vegetable oil), for frying

1/4 c. vegetable broth
4 T. hot sauce
1 T. olive oil
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/4 c. hot sauce
1 T. buttery spread, melted

Mix all ingredients together for marinade. Slice tofu into strips about 1/4 inch thick and squeeze/press out liquid. Freeze tofu strips in marinade overnight.

When you're ready to cook your tofu, remember to take it out of the freezer a couple hours in advance. When defrosted, carefully squeeze excess marinade from the tofu. It should still be a pleasant orangish-pink color.

Heat oil in a pan to medium, and place your tofu in carefully. Especially if there is still some water in the tofu, the oil will splatter when you place the tofu in the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until golden, then turn flip over and cook the other side. Place on a paper towel to drain grease.

Mix together your hot sauce and melted buttery spread. When all your tofu pieces are ready, toss them in the extra sauce. If cooked long enough, they will stay crispy.

Optional: Serve with celery and dipping sauces.
Not Optional: Enjoy!