Monday, August 27, 2012

Easy Cheesy Black Beans with Jalapeños

It's amazing what one can come up with based purely on the ingredients already in their kitchen. On this particular occasion I had a jalapeño leftover from a chili extravaganza (recipe forthcoming), a couple cloves of garlic hanging around, and there's always some cheese and a can of beans somewhere in our apartment. This dish has multiple uses too! It can be a meatless main coarse served atop some rice, a simple side, or a great snack with tortilla chips and perhaps a little sour cream (which is how I enjoyed it).

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 jalapeño, diced (with or without seeds depending on how hot you like it)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (a Mexican cheese blend works well)
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat; sauté peppers 2 minutes; add garlic and continue to cook 2 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add beans and warm through. Stir in cheese until melted. Adjust seasoning and serve.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Bacon-Wrapped Figs with Goat Cheese

My favorite part about working (interning) for a food magazine is all the free food (and wine) we get to eat/take home. In June, people from the California Fig Association gave the Food Arts' office a visit and brought with them all nature of fresh and dried figs, along with a fig-focused lunch—yum! I don't think I had ever tasted a pure fig up until that point. Prior to that fateful encounter, I think figs had only ever entered my mouth by way of the Fig Newton. I don't remember when that was (maybe sometime in the late '90s) but I doubt it paid any justice to an actual fig.

After this visit I was inspired to put the dried figs I had taken home as swag to good use, and my friend's wine party was the perfect occasion. This makes a handy appetizer for parties because it already comes on a toothpick! The combination of salt, sweet, fruit, smoke, and tang is wonderful. One future note—which I included in the instructions below—is to be sure to flip the figs over during the cooking process. I neglected this step and the part touching the pan got a little..."crispier"...than I would have liked.

  • dried figs, sliced in half (I used the Calimyrna variety)
  • bacon
  • goat cheese
  • black pepper
  • balsamic vinegar
  • toothpicks
  1. Preheat oven to 450˚F.
  2. For each portion, lay out half a strip of bacon; top with fig half and approximately 1/2 tsp. goat cheese; wrap bacon around and secure with toothpick.
  3. Continue assembly procedure with as many servings as you choose to prepare.
  4. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and season with pepper.
  5. Place in oven and cook for 20 minutes, flipping figs halfway through.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Lemon/Garlic/Herb Marinated Steak with Mushrooms in a Red Wine Reduction and Sautéed Spinach

I'm going to have to deprive you of the (sometimes) long-winded fanfare of an amusing introduction this post due to the lack of sleep I've experienced over the last three nights. But I won't leave you completely empty-handed! Check out the most recent piece I wrote about The Aviary's cocktail-infusion vessel published on

Steak and Mushrooms:
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. pepper
  • 6 Tbsps. olive oil
  • 1 porterhouse steak
  • 2 Tbsps. butter
  • 1 pint sliced cremini mushrooms
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 cup red wine (I used Malbec)
  1. Combine zest, garlic, thyme, parsley, 1 Tbsp. salt, 1 Tbsp. pepper, and olive oil in large resealable plastic bag; add steak and massage marinade into meat; close, pushing out as much excess air as possible, and refrigerate for 30 minutes (or more); remove from refrigerator.
  2. Heat oven to 400˚F.
  3. Place heat-proof skillet over high heat; sear steak until well caramelized (maybe 2-3 minutes) on one side; flip; add butter and baste; place in oven; cook until desired level of doneness (maybe 6-8 minutes for medium).
  4. Remove from oven; reserve meat.
  5. Place same skillet over medium-high heat; add extra fat if needed.
  6. Sauté mushrooms; season with salt and pepper; add red wine; reduce. (I should have let it reduce more than what's shown in the pictures here, which is looser than it should be.)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • 1 bag spinach, washed
  • salt
  • pepper
  • half lemon, juiced
Heat olive oil and butter in skillet over medium heat; sweat garlic 2-3 minutes (you do not want color); add spinach and cook until wilted; season with salt and pepper; sprinkle with lemon juice.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Happy National Sandwich Month!

I'm sure everyone is already well aware of this fact by now, but in case you've been living under a rock let me inform you that August is National Sandwich Month. I'm not sure if anyone really needs an excuse to celebrate the masterpiece that is the combination of meats, cheeses, vegetables, and whatever else you can think of encased in bread, but I won't object. Pictured is the honoree in one of its more basic forms: sliced deli turkey, Muenster cheese, mixed greens, mustard, and mayo on a nice crusty baguette. However, let us not forget the many other forms that the sandwich can take—falafel (in pita obviously), arepas, banh mi, gyros, quesadillas, and cheeseburgers all fall under the general category of "sandwich" in my book. What's your favorite type of sandwich?