Every so often I write a recipe that completely changes the game for me. A recipe that makes me proclaim to the void and all the gods, old and new that this will be my legacy. And let me tell you, managing to make crispy but oh so tender brussels sprouts that taste like the classic ground beef tacos you had as a kid is that moment.
And the process is simple: just drop the bad boys in the fryer for a few minutes and absolutely coat them with a super easy and basic homemade taco seasoning blend and that’s that on the sprouts. Then to top it all off I find the lemon-lime dip so fun. When you hear lemon-lime it takes you back to thinking about Gatorade, candy, fruit snacks, etc. But in all actuality it packs plenty of zing and coolness from the yogurt to cut through the spicy and semi-charred flavor of the sprouts. Every time I make this I’ll take a sample sprout to see how I did, and then I just keep going and going.
In all fairness I owe a lot of what’s written to my brother, Sean. He’s basically my 24/7 hotline for bouncing recipe ideas off of someone, and getting editing suggestions. Sometimes he’ll even blurt out, “you know what would be cool…,” and then hit me with some nifty idea that I try and work up. This was one of those times.
He threw the idea of putting sambal in arrabiata sauce. For those of you who don’t know arrabiata is a pasta sauce that consists of tomato, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes. That’s it. I tried making this with just subbing out the chili for sambal and it was fine, there just wasn’t any magic.
Then I decided to add a couple of flavor friends, fish sauce for salty funk and ginger for extra pep in my step, and the flavor profile felt full and packed with umami.
Back when I was about 20 I worked at the Lush store in Old Orchard mall right outside of Chicago. For those of you who don’t know, not only is it the mall they hang out in Mean Girls (even if the set is NOTHING like the real thing), but it’s bougie as they come. So bougie in fact they don’t even have a food court, just random nice restaurants scattered randomly throughout.
Most of these restaurants were the type of situation where you pay $15 for a burger at lunch time, and the fries and drinks are a la carte on top of it. But the main beacon of hope for my broke ass was the Auntie Ann’s located around the corner from Lush. It was literally the only thing I could afford in the whole mall to eat, and because of it I developed a weird addiction, maybe even passion for pretzel wrapped hot dogs. To this day I still get pretzel dogs almost any time I go into a mall. It’s in my code at this point.
Since a big point of cooking at home is having stuff you can’t just get anywhere, I added togarashi into the pretzel dough, and on top as well. For dunking I recommend either sweet chili sauce or Chinese hot mustard. This recipe got me 10 hot dogs and a few little pretzel nuggets. Continue reading “Togarashi Pretzel Dogs”→
Honestly there’s not much of a cool story to this. I just randomly got an urge to make a recipe with grapes because I think they’re sorely underused, and somehow thought peanut butter jelly and salad should have a baby.
Honestly how I got there’s a mystery but I’m glad I did. What I did was whip up a peanut dressing with a good hit of acid and a little spice and paired it with grilled chicken and the sweetest grapes I could find.
I ended up with a really cool childhood meets adulthood plate of food that I’m really into. And this is coming from a salad hater. So let’s get into it, yeah?
Ok so in the past I’ve gotten bad about feeling the need to do some intense diet and exercising for the new year. I usually lose weight for a while, but end up feeling restricted, overworked, and not very happy by Summer. Instead for 2020 I’m going with a goal of “happy food.” I aim to cook what’s making me happy in that moment no matter how weird or out of my normal culinary zone it may be. I’m on a new path of chasing after happy dances.
That being said, like many of you this holiday season got me jacked up. Spiked hot cocoa, tons of red meat, and all the latkes I can eat are really cool, but I needed a major reset button to start 2020 feeling fresh and clean.
One of my favorite things to have in the morning is a huge mug of matcha to get me perked up and ready to go, which was the jump off point of this dish. The surrealistic pondscape consists of some of my favorite clean flavors: salmon, cucumber, nori, roe, and dashi. The effect is a really cool combination of oceany flavors from the fish and dashi with the earthiness of matcha to create something that feels very nature inspired.
Even though we’re in the middle of winter the lightness and freshness of this dish can’t help but make me feel like spring is around the corner. Another cool perk is it can be served at any temperature and still work.
Picture it: Belton 2001. One day when the Marshall Primary School menu for the next week was released everyone’s attention was immediately captured by something we never heard of, bird dogs. None of the other kids knew what it was, and to add insult to injury none of the adults did either. Not even the lunch ladies!
What we got was a total game changer. Bird dogs consist of chicken fingers, bacon, honey mustard, and cheddar tucked into a hot dog bun. When I explain it to people who never lived in Anderson county, South Carolina they never seemed to get it, but honestly it’s so perfect. Somehow the hotdog bun proportions are so much more satisfying than the normal chicken sandwich and I will die on that hill.
Clearly I’m not the only one to think so because these little buns of glory became a cultural icon in my hometown. They worked their way into mom and pop restaurants, sleepovers, and I even went to a banquet where they were served!
If you ever wanted a super obscure southern dish that you can’t even find on Google that doubles as stoner food then look no further! I mean come on, look at that!
Somehow, despite it being mid October we don’t have fall yet. To say I’m salty is a massive understatement. To bridge the gap between this weird fall one day summer the next weather I wanted to combine flavors that to me are quintessential to each season.
In the summer seafood is my favorite thing to make, and I’ve been on a huge salmon kick due to the health benefits. And then in the fall I’m all about decadent soups and curry. Then of course you have corn which is an ingredient that belongs to both seasons.
It may seem like a weird combo but it actually really works. I love the flavor of curry and salmon together, and then the corn adds nice little pops of sweet freshness.
Truth be told I’m not the best about eating breakfast. I’m really bad about opting to sleep every available second during the work week and end up running out the door in a rush. As sad as it is to say, a good breakfast has become a bit of a weekend indulgence for me.
For my latest indulgence I wanted to go full country and make a broke and southern staple, fried bologna. It’s a similar concept to fried ham steak or bacon in that it’s crispy, salty, meaty goodness, just a little more humble. Like any good breakfast sando we have plenty of melty cheese and an overeasy egg on top. And then because I can’t help myself and love a good condiment; we have maple-mustard mayo to cut through the richness and add a little kiss of sweetness, like any good morning should have.
The concept here is simple: We all love teriyaki, steak, and tacos. Why not combine all of the above in one dish?
A teriyaki marinade takes all of one minute to whip up, and is so much better and lighter on the palette than the bottled stuff. When you pair that blend of sweet and savory we all know and love with a spicy mayo and cool mirin slaw you have one of the most perfect bites of food.
Back in I want to say sometime between 1999-2001 I lived for when my parents would let me stay up late so I could watch the original Japanese Iron Chef. The drama, the chefs being themed on nationality, my dear sweet Chairman Kaga, and that fortune teller judge. What a time to be alive.
Those late (to a six-year-old) nights were pretty much my crash course in getting wild and creative. I remember they made ice cream out of EVERYTHING, namely squid ink, which I didn’t even know was a thing you eat, but now I adore. But this story leads to one place. And that is my first ever love/hero, Masahiko Kobe aka “Iron Chef Italian.” This dude made ravioli with chocolate pasta dough.
My. World. Was. Rocked. I went borderline rabid asking how is that possible, and if my mom would make it for me. She looked like I grew two heads.
Fast forward about 10 years. I’m a junior in high school. My mom, brother and I took a trip to Asheville, North Carolina. We stopped in a fancy chocolate shop. And there it was…a bag of chocolate fettuccine. I immediately flashed back to my Iron Chef days and tried to do everything to get that bag to go home with me, to no avail.
But guess what, mom? I’m an adult now and can make my own damn chocolate pasta! (I’m sorry mom, I love you.)
The biggest challenge was figuring out what sauce to make with it. I thought creamy, I thought mascarpone, and then I thought nah. I decided I wanted something that felt fresh to go with it. So I landed on raspberries and mint for freshness, with a punch of balsamic vinegar for intrigue.