Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How To: Chop Basil

Picture by Liz Oxhorn
Mmmmm, I just LOVE basil.  I wish that I had a greener thumb because I use it all the thyme! (Sorry, I'm punny....can you tell?)

Basil can be used very simply in in a salad, mixed with mozzarella & tomatoes, or chopped to use in a sauce.  Of course, most people think that basil is only used for Italian cooking, but it is also widely used in Thai cuisine. Of course, that's purple basil...but that's besides the point.

Sometimes it is easiest just to rip the basil by hand instead of chopping, especially if you are going to cook it into a sauce.  But how do you chop basil easily when its called for?

First, gently pull the leaves off of the stems.

Picture by Liz Oxhorn
Next, stack the leaves on top of each other, with the largest leaf  on the bottom.  Gently roll the leaves along the long side until the leaves resemble **ahem** a cigar.

From the last picture above, continue to hold the bundled leaves with your right hand (or left if your not a lefty like me) and slice along the leaves from left to right (or right to left for you righties).

Picture by Liz Oxhorn
The result is long, thin strands of fresh basil.  If you want to have smaller pieces, simply run your knife through the stack again, cutting in the multiple directions.

Picture by Liz Oxhorn

Note: A special thank you to Liz Oxhorn who has helped me through the next few "how to" entries with her beautiful photography.  Thanks Liz for letting me use your talents on my blog!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Taste of Dupont and Free Iced Coffee

Sorry to post this information so late, but I just found out about these two events and thought you all should know!

Taste of Dupont
5:00 pm - Will Call Opens
6:00 - 10:00 pm - Let the eating begin!
Participating restaurants include (but not limited to): Urbana, Scion, and Darlington House

For $5 per tasting, or $20 for 5 tastings, you can walk around Dupont Circle tonight and enjoy fabulous food.  Check out their website for additional details, including a full list of restaurant participants and what the restaurant is offering for their tasting.

Free Iced Coffee!
Au Bon Pain is offering a free medium iced coffee at most of their establishments (not just in DC!) today from 2:00 pm - 6:00 pm.  Check out their Facebook page to see who is not participating.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Blueberry Muffins

What's better in the morning than hot blueberry muffins? Ok, maybe biscuits and gravy or a veggie omelet....but my gravy skills are a bit lacking and omelets can easily turn into scrambled eggs the second you turn to take a sip of your morning coffee.  So for the moment, I think I'll stick to the muffin. Plus, there's something about bitting into a warm muffin with fresh blueberries that makes me feel cozy and ready to take on whatever the day brings.

I like this recipe because the muffins are not too sweet and have a nice creamy touch from the vanilla.  I usually sprinkle some cinnamon on top (although I forgot this time), but feel free to jazz these up however you like.  Serve them with lemon curd or honey, add nuts, or even make a glaze to go on top. The possibilities are limitless!

Blueberry Muffins
Makes 11-12 muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 T baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 t vanilla extract
3 T vegetable oil
3/4 cup milk


  • In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
  • Combine the egg, milk, oil and vanilla in a separate bowl.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, gently stirring until the dry ingredients are just moistened. There should be some small lumps, but not large patches of flour.
  • Gently fold in the blueberries. *Tip - if you want your blueberries to stay more whole as they bake, toss them with a teaspoon of flour before mixing them into the batter.
  • Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups to two-thirds full.
  • Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan. 

Don't want to get up early to mix the ingredients? Prepare the wet and dry ingredients the night before and store them (separately) in the fridge. When you get up the next morning, all you have to do is mix them together, fold in the blueberries, and you're ready to bake! For the best results, let the ingredients sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before mixing.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sesame-Ginger Steak

I LOVE Asian cuisine, but ordering Chinese/Thai/Sushi every night would be very un-Graduate Gourmet of me. So to cut back on my eating out budget, I've recently tried my hand at some of my favorite carryout dishes. They are not 100% authentic of course, but this recipe get the job done for less money than a delivery fee....ok, at least less than a delivered meal.

Like most budget-conscious people, I usually stick with economical chicken for my protein in my Asian dishes. However, this time I was craving some steak.  I found a nice looking rib-eye, trimmed it of most of it's exterier fat, and marinated it to give it some great flavor! What I especially love about this dish is that although the marinating took a half an hour, the cooking was complete in less than 5 minutes! Pair the steak with some brown rice and sauteed Asian veggies and you've got yourself a meal!

1 ribeye, new york strip (or whatever is priced the best that day) steak
2 inches of ginger, peeled & chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled & chopped
1 T rice wine vinegar
1 t dark sesame oil
2 T low-sodium soy sauce

  • Prep Meat.  First you want to trim you meat of all the exterior fat, then slice the meat into thin strips.
    • TIP: When you get home from work, throw the steak in the freezer while you mix up your marinade. By the time you're marinade is complete, the meat will be just cold enough that it will slice much more easily!
  • Mix Marinade. Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl.
  • Marinate Meat.  Gently toss the meat in the marinade and place in the fridge for 30 minutes; mixing the mixture again halfway through.

Not the prettiest picture....but what raw meat is?

  • Saute. Grab a large skillet and heat over high heat.  Carefully place the meat and marinade in the hot pan, stirring frequently. Cook until the meat is to your desired doneness (about 3-5 minutes).

  • Serve. I like to put some brown rice in the bottom of a bowl, add some Asian veggies (shown is the frozen Asian Veggie mix from Trader Joe's), and the meat/sauce.  Serves 2.