Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Where We Met

On Sunday, Evan and I wandered around the UW campus, where 7 years ago we first met, became friends, flirted, dated, and eventually fell in love. We went to our old favorite late night eatery--Burger & Kabob Hut--where we ate many a meals freshman year. It was exactly the same as we remembered...greasy, messy, and delicious.

We walked past the dorms we lived in, the buildings we learned in, and the little places along the way that evoked happy, fun memories. We finished the day a little sad that those carefree days are behind us, but with a sigh of relief that we made it past those late nights study sessions and keg parties in one piece, together. We also finished off the day with a coconut bubble tea.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Greens, Eggs, and Ham

I'm certainly no Sam-I-Am when it comes to green lentils, fried eggs, and thick cut, smoky bacon.

This has been the winter of the lentil. I've been making lentil soups, salads, and sides like a mad-woman. I made this curried lentil soup 3 times... In two weeks. I just can’t get enough. I’ve also been making different variations of warm lentils topped with fried or poached eggs. This happens to be the best I’ve made thus far—green lentils with bacon, roasted tomatoes, and olive oil fried eggs. It’s savory, smoky, and salty, and feels like a hearty stew on a cold winter night…but I bet over a bed of arugula, it could just as easily pass for a light lunch on a spring day.

Lentils with Bacon and Roasted Tomatoes, Topped with Olive Oil Fried Eggs
Serves 2 as an entree, 4 as a side/salad

2 tomatoes-roughly chopped

Olive oil, cider vinegar, salt, and pepper
3/4 cup green lentils
6 oz thick-cut bacon, cut into bite-size chunks
1 cloves garlic-minced
1 shallot- finely diced
2 tablespoon olive oil
2-4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss tomatoes with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Roast in oven for about 20 minutes or until tomatoes burst and brown in a few spots. Take out of oven and set aside.
After putting tomatoes in oven, cover lentils with cold water by 2 inches in a saucepan, then simmer uncovered about 20 minutes—drain (reserving 1/2 cup liquid).

While lentils are simmering and tomatoes are roatsting, cook bacon in large skillet until almost crisp. Add shallot and garlic Cook, stirring, until just tender (in this step, you could also add chopped asparagus, if it suits your fancy!). Add to pot with lentils, add tomatoes. Heat over low until liquid just begins to reduce. Salt and Pepper to taste (though it should be fairly salty, with the bacon and tomatoes).

Add olive oil to skillet and heat over moderate heat. Fry eggs to desired doneness, season with salt and pepper. (For excellent olive oil fried eggs, try this recipe).

Top lentils with eggs, devour. Repeat.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ia Orana and Maeva to Moorea

That's "Hello," and "Welcome to Moorea."

Moorea is a small island in French Polynesia, a short ferry ride from the island of Tahiti... read: absolute paradise. Amanda and I just returned from a week long vacation of relaxation, sun, clear blue water, fresh fruit, and fun.

Smaller and less kitschy than the main island of Tahiti, when you think ‘tropical paradise,’ this is it. We biked 20 miles in a tropical rainstorm, stopping at fruit stands along the way. We visited the fruit juice factory (several times) for the most amazing fruit juices (and alcoholic drinks) you could imagine, all made from fruits grown on Moorea’s Mt. Rotui.

We snorkeled, swam, sunbathed, and chased crazy little land crabs back into their holes everywhere we went. We also fished them out of our (private) pool, removed them from our patio, and listened to their skittering side-steps on the beach at night.

We waved bonjour and ia orana to passing bicyclists, visited pineapple plantations and vanilla bean plantations, and breathed in the warm, intoxicating, ever-present scent of tiare flowers.

And, aside from the amazing fresh fruit (best bananas, mangoes, and pineapple ever…not to mention things I’ve never heard of before) and abundant fresh seafood…the overall cuisine was, well, not amazing. We had a lot of great mahi mahi and shrimp, tried fries made out of bread fruit, ate poisson cru (the local specialty of raw tuna marinated in coconut milk and lime juice), and consumed an unbelievable amount of baguettes and brie. It is French Polynesia, after all. And French it was.

Most restaurants around the island served French and Chinese cuisine, always with a giant basket of French bread with amazingly creamy butter. One of our most delicious meals was at Rudy’s, a ‘fine steak and seafood restaurant.’ Rudy’s is run by an older French man (Amanda almost ran away with him at the end of the night) who makes a mean bœuf bourguignon and seafood pasta.

In the end—and this may sound crazy—my favorite meal was pizza from Pizza Allo. We had a crispy thin crusted pizza with juicy, sweet Tahitian pineapple, ham, and fresh tomatoes. There were pizza joints everywhere on Moorea. Some ‘towns’ on the map, were nothing but 2 tiny thatched roof houses, a road-side fruit stand, and a pizza place with a walk up window and a few stools. I’m not going to recommend you head to the south pacific specifically for pizza, but if you do go, you should probably stop at Allo.

Mostly, though, you should just go to relax. To soak in the sun and beauty. To dream about a different, simpler, slower way of life.

And, of course, for the fruit. You should definitely go for the fruit.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Superbowl Sandwich

Amanda and I will be in Tahiti (!) during the Superbowl. Since the Seahawks didn’t make it, I’m ok with missing it. And, I’ll be Tahiti, so I’d be ok with missing it regardless. You can have your football; I’ll take the sun, beach, and thatched-roof bungalow with private pool. That’s right, private pool. If you can’t be in Tahiti, and are stuck somewhere dreary and cold in front of a big screen, you can at least warm up with a spicy buffalo chicken sandwich.

If chicken wings and a pulled pork sandwich had a baby, it would be this spicy buffalo chicken sandwich. What a lil’ cutie! Shredded buffalo chicken, creamy blue cheese dressing, crispy onion straws, and crunchy, cool coleslaw. This delicious sandwich was born months ago, long before Superbowl was upon us. I also made it long before a similar sandwich was featured in Martha Stewart magazine. So, Martha… you’re welcome.

Enjoy the sandwich and enjoy the Superbowl, I’ll be back in a week with tales of my adventures in French Polynesia!

Spicy Buffalo Chicken Sandwich

Chicken: Make this chicken, but use breast pieces instead of legs, and shred.

Onion Straws:

1/2 cup very thinly sliced onion
1/4 cup flour
Salt & Pepper

Combine ingredients in a bowl, toss to mix, and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until brown and crispy (15 to 17 minutes).

Coleslaw: Combine the following:

3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
3 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
Fronds from one bunch of celery-roughly chopped
A little bit of thinly sliced apple and shredded carrot (if you’re into that sorta thing)
Salt and pepper, to taste


On a toasted bun or hoagie, pile on chicken, coleslaw, blue cheese dressing, onion straws, and a sprinkle of chopped up crispy bacon… then devour, cheer for your team, repeat.
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