Curried Eggplant Dip

I woke up this morning knowing I wanted to post a recipe today. I went to the store, walked around like a moron because I didn’t have a plan or list, then came home with an eggplant, one onion, fresh basil, a lemon and some naan.

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I decided to make a smoky curry dip with the eggplant and onion, and served it with some toasted naan. Now, this is not the most beautiful dip, but it is delicious. I caramelized the onions first, which made everything a bit sweet, then added in some curry & dijon mustard and let the onions cook down until they were soft and sticky.

eggplant

Curried Eggplant Dip

makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 eggplant

2 cloves of garlic, smashed

1 yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced

2 tsp curry powder

salt and pepper

2 tbsp butter

1 tsp dijon mustard

2 tsp brown sugar

olive oil

fresh herbs (I used basil) for the top

Poke holes in the eggplant with a fork all the way around. Rub olive oil all over the skin, and season with salt and pepper. Place eggplant on a baking sheet and broil for 2 minutes on all sides, until charred, but not totally burnt.

Reduce oven down to 375 degrees, (keeping the eggplant in the oven), and continue cooking for 20 minutes, or until the eggplant is completely soft. Remove from oven and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tbsp of butter over medium-high heat. Add onions, brown sugar and smashed garlic cloves,and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the onions start to take on a light brown color. Add salt and pepper and curry powder, and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add dijon mustard and continue cooking for 5 minutes.

In a blender or food processor, add onions and garlic, and pulse until combined, but still a bit chunky. Just make sure there are no big pieces of garlic or onion. Discard the top of the eggplant, but add the rest, including the skin, to the food processor. Pulse again, until just combined. Taste for salt and pepper.

Serve immediately with fresh herbs on top, and hot naan or pita bread.

 

 

 

Internin’

I snapped some photos while I was working at my internship last night, and thought it could be fun (maybe?) if I posted some pictures from the kitchen.

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chili

chips

bread

Don’t bother using a toaster. Grill your bread.

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gary

Plucking fresh mint leaves. (Not my hands).

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meats

my list

 

 

Sips: A Drink Series

Lord help me. I want to start a drink series.

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I never make cocktails at home. I always envy people who have amazing bar carts filled with glass tumblers and perfectly square ice cubes. While I don’t have a bar cart, I do have a burning desire to make more of an effort to make restaurant style cocktails at home. Sometimes I feel guilty going out to eat and spending a chunk of money on dinner and drinks. Like, I want to be chef, so shouldn’t I just make all this at home? So with that in mind, I wanted to start Sips. A way to document my thoughts and experiments with mixology.

Over the weekend I was playing around with whiskey concoctions. I rarely drink whiskey, so this was definitely challenging for me. I didn’t want to make a drink that was too sweet, but I also knew I had to add something to cut through the bitter Maker’s Mark. With that criteria in mind, I decided to try my hand at making an herb infused simple syrup. I used thyme for my herb, but you can honestly use whatever kind you want. I just steeped 3-4 sprigs of thyme in the simple syrup for about 2-3 hours, and then strained the syrup in a sieve.

After all that, I came up with something that I thought was worthy of a Sips post. Maker’s Mark with fresh orange juice, bitters and thyme simple syrup. A bit of a warning: this drink is semi strong. If you aren’t a whiskey fan, I would probably sit this one out.

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I happened to be making pasta dough while I was mixing this drink. Hence the fucking flour thumbprint. :(

 

Maker’s with Fresh Orange Juice, Bitters and Thyme Simple Syrup

makes one drink

3 oz. Maker’s Mark (or whatever whiskey you prefer)

2 oz. fresh orange juice

2-3 dashes of Angostura Bitters

1.5 tbsp thyme simple syrup

4-5 ice cubes

cocktail shaker (with ice)

 

Combine ingredients in the cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds, then pour over ice. Top with a sprig or two of thyme.

Serve immediately.

 

Thyme Simple Syrup

makes about 3/4 cup

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme

Bring sugar and water to a boil over high heat. When the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and add the thyme. Let the herbs steep in the syrup for 1-2 hours, then strain the syrup through a sieve. Keep syrup in a (tightly capped) jar in the refrigerator, up to two weeks.

Enjoy!

 

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Photo Heavy

Whoa, whoa, whoa. It’s been too long. I don’t even know how to start this post after my 4 month blog silence….

I’ll start out by saying that this summer was great. I traveled, worked tons, started the most amazing internship at a local restaurant, found out I’m going to be an aunt come February 2015, and just tried to concentrate on life, my relationships, happiness and where I’m going.

However, I do feel like I’m in a weird transition right now. I’m 25, and between school, work and my internship, I just feel like I’m literally pulled in 5 different directions, with no clear idea of which way I want to go. But isn’t that life? Isn’t everyone, regardless of their age, wondering what the hell is going on and where they’re going to end up? Maybe, maybe not. I guess I’m just trying to make sense of becoming an adult and what I want my life to be. For so long, we have our parents to make decisions for us and tell us which way to go, and sometimes I feel like I’m a fish out of water when I’m making big life decisions.

Anyway, without rambling on about who even knows what, I have some photos from the past few months that I want to share. This post is photo heavy, so in the words of Kenny Powers, hold onto your dicks.

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photo credit: Kaity Ayres

We drove south to Asheville, North Carolina back in August. It’s our favorite place to camp, and we always leave there wishing we lived in a house nestled in the mountains. While we were there, I had the chance to meet my blog friend, Kaity and her fiance, Alex. Kaity is the definition of a beautiful person inside and out, and I’m so happy we were finally able to meet. She’s an insanely talented photographer and we all met up to take photos, hike and enjoy the ridiculous scenery.

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mountains

k and a

Kaity and Alex ^^

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kale

The most beautiful garden behind this little breakfast place we stopped at.

sam

tree

Changing gears….we headed west earlier this month to see my brother and SIL in Denver. They’re expecting their first baby girl (!!!!!) this winter, and my family is beyond excited. Like, we have her first beach trip planned for next summer. And her bathing suit already laid out.

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Rocky Mountain NP!

mountains 4

mountain 2

tree 3

tree 2

I also have some recipes up my sleeve and I’ll be sharing those soon. I’m also¬† hoping to get permission to post some photos from the restaurant I’m interning at, so I’ll definitely throw those up if/when I have them.

It feels great to be back. <3

 

 

Salt Bake

Five years ago, I was sick in bed watching re-runs of Top Chef. It was a reunion episode, where they bring back a few chefs from each season, and they all cooked and made a beautiful dinner. Marcel’s (anyone remember him?) contribution was a whole fish baked in a salt crust, then cracked open and served with a squeeze of fresh lemon. It was super simple, but it was so unique. I had never seen anything like it before. I grabbed my journal, wrote “SALT BAKE” in big, black letters, and didn’t get around to trying one until yesterday afternoon.

As I mentioned, a salt bake is incredibly easy. Six egg whites, three cups of salt and a hot oven will give you the best fish of your life.

branzini

I chose Branzini for my fish, but you can use any firm white fish you love. I asked the guy behind the fish counter to clean and gut the fish for me, so all I had to do when I got home was stuff the cavity with fresh thyme, and get it into the oven.

tail

egg whites

Egg whites/salt pre-bake.

done

The aftermath.

 

SALT BAKE:

1 whole Branzini – cleaned, gutted, scales and fins removed

1 bunch of fresh thyme

1 lemon, cut into wedges

3 cups kosher salt

6 egg whites

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Stuff the cavity of the fish with the fresh thyme sprigs. Refrigerate until you have finished the egg white mixture and the oven is preheated.

In a a medium sized mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold in the salt, a little at a time, until it’s all combined.

Spread a small amount of the egg white mixture onto the bottom of a shallow baking pan, nestling the fish on top. Gently scoop the egg whites on top of the fish, covering it completely.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the egg whites are hard and golden brown.

Let the fish sit for 10 minutes, then gently crack the crust with a wooden spoon, discarding the salt crust. Remove the fish, and serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon.

**Cooking a whole fish means there will be bones. Branzini bones are relatively big, so they’re easy to pick out. Just be careful!**

 

Chicago: A Food Tour

Over the weekend I went to Chicago with my friend Jessica to embark on a mini food tour. We both love to eat, and wanted to enjoy all the food/drinks we could within 72 hours. Did we succeed? Hell yes. My bank account is doubled over in pain, but my belly is full, and it was the best weekend I’ve had in a long time.

We went to Girl and the Goat Friday night,followed by Little Goat Diner Saturday morning, then Green Street Smoked Meats for dinner, with a final brunch at Grange Hall Burger Bar Sunday mid-morning.

 

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I have to be honest. I was really psyched about this picture when I took it, and my OCD brain is now going crazy looking at it on here, noticing the blurry thyme.

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Cutest lil’ mimosa.

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Smoked fries.

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Braised beef, havarti, picked peppers & onions and spicy mayo.

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Strawberry basil chilled soup.

tacos

Fish tacos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Salad

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The easiest salad ever.

Throw a bunch of mixed greens in a bowl – add cucumber, chow mein noodles, slices of heirloom tomato, avocado, shredded chicken and honey goat cheese. Top with your favorite dressing.

Simple Dressing:

2 garlic cloves, peeled

2 tbsp dijon mustard

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

juice + zest of half a lemon

sea salt and pepper, to taste

olive oil

Pulse all ingredients together in a blender or food processor. Slowly drizzle in olive oil until the dressing is emulsified, and a smooth, pourable consistency. Store in a jar up to 2 weeks.

Lately

bk

Brooklyn. A quick weekend trip with my aunt Lori, who is the sweetest peach in the orchard. We are kindred spirits and I just love her. She took me with her to New York a few weeks ago to be her baby shower date. Her step son’s wife, Ashley, is due with her first baby in a few months, so we hopped on a plane early Friday morning, and landed in New York a few hours later to soak in as much of the city as we could.

dog bk

Slowly crept up behind a stranger to get this shot. The dogs in Brooklyn melt my heart. Especially the ones who wait outside while their owners run inside the deli to get a bagel.

bar

Spritzenhaus.

belly

<3

macarons

laduree

champ

Fancy ass baby shower gifts..

 

On our last night, we went to the restaurant in our hotel, The Elm.

menu

lights

amuse

GOOD GOD, this place was unbelievable. Every dish was so well thought out and special. Pictured above is the amuse bouche, which our server brought out almost instantly.

salad

The most beautiful raw salad. Spring peas, asparagus, radish and red watercress

lobster

Lobster cassoulet. Ugh, perfect. Lobster, toasted breadcrumbs, white beans. One of the most memorable dishes of my life.

 

On a closing note, I hate neglecting this blog, but I will be posting more frequently now that school is out for the summer. I have lots of recipes (seriously) that I want to post, and now that I have time, I will!

I hope you are all having a lovely summer so far! <3

 

 

Mexico

Two weeks ago, I was in Mexico. I was practicing my maid of honor speech, taking my wedding heels for a million practice runs, drinking icebergs (beer with a pile of frozen margarita on top), reading We Need to Talk About Kevin (so fucking good), and just generally basking in happiness.

We raced each other in the pool, snorkeled, slept in hammocks, had chicken fights, got wicked sunburns, ate ridiculous amounts of food, swam in the ocean, and on Saturday, April 5th, we all watched my brother marry the best girl ever. I cried harder than I would have liked, but it was truly perfect. The ceremony was held on the beach, and it was the easiest, most beautiful wedding I’ve ever been to.

We spent the morning floating in the pool then Casey and I left to get our makeup done around noon. After we were ready, we ran down to the beach at 3:30 and that was that. It was simple, and so them. They exchanged their vows, said their¬† I do’s, and off we went to eat, dance, and have Don Julio poured down our throats.

Our week in photos:

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On our last day, a few of us went on a life-changing snorkeling trip. It was so beautiful and such a crazy experience.

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jumps

dad and eric

water

tik

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Our tour guide, Alex. He was hilarious and listened to “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” on full blast.

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Pre-reception cocktails.

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jc

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joel teq

limes

“Fuck limes.”

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