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Sunday
Oct022011

Jarritos Luchador Phantom @ Revision3

One of our newest sponsors at Revision3, Jarritos, has launched a US-targeted campaign for their glass-bottle Mexican sodas. The creative for the campaign is pretty cheeky and fun, joking "We aren't from here." You can check out the NY Times article, in which they actually call out Rev3 as one of their partners. 

And the most entertaining part of the campaign, for me at least, is I produced and starred in the custom ad we shot for an episode of Diggnation. Here's me ambushing the Revision3 office with sugary, colorful goodness:

You can check out their site for more funny videos.

Monday
Sep262011

Cilantro Honey Lime Dressing

The other day at work, my co-worker was raving about some cilantro salad dressing she had the night before. Having left over flank steak and a bunch of cilantro in my fridge, I went home from work inspired to try out a new dressing recipe. After scouring the internet for a few minutes, many recipes I found were pretty simple, but I opted for one with a few more ingredients including ginger, lime, and honey. It turned out flavorful with a great balance of sweetness, acidity, spice, and cilantro-ness that wasn't too overpowering for the cilantro haters in the house (I am not one of them!). 


Lime, ginger, jalapeno, and garlic

It also came in perfectly handy that my friend Phuong, who provided the photos taken on the few previous posts, just gave us a citrus juicer as a thank you for our Greek feast we had him over for. Check it out below, it works like magic for lemons and limes!


Limes for juicing

Cilantro Honey-Lime Dressing

Ingredients

            1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped

            1 clove garlic

            3/4 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root

            1/4 cup lime juice

            1/3 cup honey

            2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

            1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

            1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves

            1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

 

Directions

Place the jalapeno pepper, garlic clove, and ginger into a food processor or blender; pulse until the jalapeno and garlic are finely chopped. Pour in the lime juice, honey, balsamic vinegar, and salt, add the cilantro leaves; pulse a few times to blend. Turn the food processor or blender on, and slowly drizzle in the olive oil until incorporated into the dressing. Season to taste with salt before serving.

*I used a tad less honey and a bit more cilantro, so adapt to your personal liking. 


As for my monster salad creation, I included corn, avocado, tomatoes, yellow bell pepper, black beans, Cotija cheese, flank steak, and romaine. Go for whatever you have, but this made for a really bright and delicious mix. You'll have lots of leftover dressing for another dinner too :)

Monday
Sep192011

Fattoush & Jewel Rice

Wrapping up the Greek feast here with our two sides. Warning, you have to embrace your inner Julia Child and can't be afraid of butter with this one. Both of these recipes came from Kara's mom and the cookbook she assembled for Kara of the Jancourtz family recipes that she has grown up on. Some from family, some from friends, some from estranged relatives, doesn't matter as long as the food was good, it made it in the book.

So here goes. If you ever want a refreshing Mediterranean salad with fresh veggies, especially in the summer when tomatoes are the best, go for the Fattoush. 

 

Fattoush – serves 4-6

Copied from Susan Jancourtz

The perfect summer salad to serve with burgers, lamb chops, roast chicken, fried fish—whatever.  It’s basically a big Greek salad with a lot of fresh herbs and crunchy pita bread added.  If you like tabouli, you’ll love fattoush.

On a hot summer day with a glass of iced tea, it’s perfect all by itself.

Salad:

1 large head romaine, washed, dried, and torn into 1” pieces (don’t use the dark green)

1 English cucumber, sliced into half-rounds ¼” thick

1 large red or green  pepper, cut into 1” pieces

2 large juicy tomatoes, cut into 1” chunks

½ cup pitted Kalamata olives

Optional:  some red onion, sliced thin

4-8 ounces feta cheese (depends on how much you like feta)

2 rounds of toasted pita bread, broken into 1” pieces—about 2 cups

¼ cup each:  fresh parsley, fresh mint*, fresh chives

1 teaspoon fresh oregano

Vinaigrette:

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

3/4 cup olive oil

1 small clove garlic, crushed

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

Combine the romaine, cucumber, pepper, tomatoes, olives, and crumbled feta in a large bowl.  Toss with half the vinaigrette, then add the herbs and pita croutons and toss again.  Add more vinaigrette as you wish. I actually skipped the romaine since the bowl was full and I thought it was still great.

A note on the herbs:  You can substitute ½ teaspoon of dried oregano for fresh.  But the parsley, mint, and chives must be fresh, or just skip them.  The two essential herbs are the parsley and the mint—use more or less of each one, as you like.   

 

Tomassian’s Rice with Dried Fruit and Nuts – serves 6

Copied from Susan Jancourtz

This is also called “jewel rice”.  Don’t be stingy with the butter—this is already reduced from Sandy Tomassian’s version.  And it’s the butter that makes it so spectacular. 

Preliminaries:  

  • Check your fruits before making the rice.  If they’re dried and hard, you’ll have to soak them in warm water for 15-30 minutes.  Drain before using.
  • If you find dried sour plums, dried sour cherries, or dried mulberries, use a handful of these instead of dried cranberries.  It’s more authentic.
  • Get a mix of colors and tastes in your fruit—orange apricots, burgundy cranberries, brown dates, etc.   Or just use “mixed dried fruits”.
  • You can use nuts of just one kind—almonds, pine nuts, or pistachios.   

Rice 

1 smallish onion, chopped

4 tablespoons butter

2 cups Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice*

3 ¼  cups water plus 2 Knorr chicken bouillon cubes

In the same pot in which you’ll cook the rice, sauté the onion in the butter until it’s transparent.  Add the rice and stir for a few minutes, until the rice is coated in butter and just getting a few golden-ish grains to it (don’t brown it.)  Add the water and bouillon cubes (or chicken broth), bring to a boil, then reduce heat to lowest setting, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.  Check—if it’s still hard, and no liquid in the bottom, add another 1/3 to½ cup water, cover, and cook another 5 minutes until done.  The rice can wait off heat, covered, for another 20 minutes or so.  

Dried Fruit and Nut Topping 

1 ½  cups mixed dried fruits (golden raisins, currants, apricots, dates, cranberries)

1 stick butter (Okay, maybe 6 tablespoons—but no less)

½ cup whole, shelled almonds (with or without brown skin, doesn’t matter)

1/3 cup pine nuts or pistachios

1 tablespoon butter

Saute the fruit in the stick of butter over medium-low heat until they’re warmed through and tender—5 to 10 minutes.   When they’re almost done, sauté the nuts in the last tablespoon of butter until golden.  (Careful—nuts burn easily.)

Mound the rice on a large platter (or two big dinner plates).  Pour over the fruit and butter, then the nuts on top.   Serve hot.

*You can use basmati (but not jasmine—too delicate) rice in a pinch.  Pre-soak it, and use only about 1 ½ cups liquid.  

Wednesday
Sep142011

Grilled Greek Lamb with Yogurt Mint Sauce

For the main course of our dinner party we went with Ina's Greek Lamb. A few weeks back Kara and I had picked up rack of lamb from Costco since it was so reasonable. We decided to make use of the new grill and the lamb we had in the fridge. It was almost comical though, getting a second rack from Safeway and comparing it to the size of the Costco lamb. 

Note to self, make sure to read this recipe all the way through since you have to marinate the lamb ahead of time. Since this was a dinner party, we prepped it the night before and made the sauce too. One less thing to do! The marinade smelled amazing with the combination of red wine, rosemary and oregano. I thought I wasn't a big fan of lamb, but this was great and didn't taste gamey at all like I remember. The sauce was very flavorful, but almost too potent for my liking since the meat was so rich on it's own. I think one of the best things about this meal is the presentation. Nothing looks more impressive than a platter full of lamb chops. In fact though, it is really easy (shhh don't tell anyone!).

Greek Lamb with Yogurt Mint Sauce

From the Barefoot Contessa, How Easy is That?

Ingredients

4 large garlic cloves

3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons)

1/2 cup good olive oil

1/2 cup dry red wine

2 racks of lamb, frenched and cut into 8 chops each 

Directions

Place the garlic, rosemary, oregano, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse until the herbs are finely minced. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, and red wine and combine. Place the chops in a glass or ceramic dish just large enough to hold them in a single layer. Pour the marinade over the chops, turning to coat both sides. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight.

When ready to cook, prepare a grill with one layer of hot coals or turn a gas grill to medium-high heat. Remove the lamb from the marinade, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and grill for 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Remove to a platter, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and set aside to rest for 10 minutes. Serve hot with the cold Yogurt Mint Sauce.

Yogurt Mint Sauce:

6 scallions, white and green parts, chopped

1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

2 tablespoons minced fresh dill

Pinch crushed red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon good olive oil

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

7 ounces Greek-style yogurt (recommended: Fage Total)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the scallions, mint, dill, red pepper flakes, olive oil, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and puree until it's a coarse paste. Add the yogurt, salt, and pepper and pulse until combined. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to develop.

 

 

Monday
Sep122011

Dinner Party: Mediterranean Masterpiece

Last Friday night my roommate Kara and I planned a dinner party for a few friends. As we started menu planning we went straight to Ina Garten for inspiration. We settled on a Mediterranean theme based around her Greek Lamb chop recipe. What followed was a feast we could definitely be proud of. I find that I have the most fun cooking for other people, not only do you get a chance to entertain and come up with creative new meals, but then you get to share it with great friends over a few glasses of good wine.

Since there were multiple dished involved, I am going to break them into a few posts so check back.

The Menu:

Appetizer - Ridiculous Radicchio Stuffed with Goat Cheese, Wrapped in Prosciutto (see below)

Main Course - Greek Lamb with Yogurt Mint Sauce

Side - Jewel Rice with Dried Fruit & Nuts

Salad - Fattoush

Sorry, no dessert this time...

Ridiculous Radicchio Stuffed with Goat Cheese, Wrapped in Prosciutto

Inspired by a dish first tried at Chiara Sottile's graduation party

This dish is seriously ridiculously delicious, and while admittedly not Mediterranean, very Italian in fact (hey they are close together right?), Kara and I just had to make this as a starter. You'd be stupid not to eat it, and I'll tell you why.

One of my favorite things to do is spend the day at Casa Provinciale, the nickname for my good friend Chiara's Sicilian family estate. Spending a day in Sonoma with the Sottiles is like being transported back to Rome where Chiara and I first met, where your belly will be fed to the bursting point with fresh Italian food served up by her charismatic Papa, Renato. From the Cypress trees lining the driveway as you drive in, all the way to the espresso and biscotti you polish off before you start your drive back to the city and real life.

Chiara just finished up her Masters in Journalism and had a graduation party at her house before she headed back to NYC, this is where this dish was discovered. Favorite snippet of dialogue from the day, Kara to Renato, "Wow, did you try one of those?" Renato turns to her insulted, "Do I like stupid? I had three of them. The key is to just stand there as they come off the grill and put them in your mouth."

Don't be stupid, make this appetizer!

Ingredients

6-10 Slices of Prosciutto, ripped in half length-wise

1 Head of Radicchio, cut in half from top to bottom

About 6 oz. Goat Cheese, cut into tablespoon size chunks

Olive Oil & Balsamic

Salt & Pepper

Pesto (optional, but highly recommended)

Assembly

If using wooden skewers, soak them for 30 minutes in water. Tear off the Radicchio leaves, the leafy outter ones work best, and spoon a tablespoon of goat cheese into the end. Roll it up as tight as you can, then wrap the slice of prosciutto around it. Place 3-4 on a skewer. Once done, drizzle olive oil and balsamic over them along with some salt & fresh ground pepper.

Set your grill to medium heat and cook skewers for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side until the goat cheese is warm and starting to melt.

Serve with a dollop of Pesto on top. Having had it with and without, the pesto really makes it dance. But you'll still find yourself grabbing these off the plate without.