Haute Hot Food

Only for the adventurous in eating that want to tantalize their taste-buds and make food dance on their palate.

For I am not afraid of letting the food
overtake my desires, nor am I afraid of letting my desires be my food. Food is my expression, not just my livelihood. Cooking is my art, not out of responsibility, but purely out of passion.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Pillows of Perfection

     Watching cooking shows growing up, I thought I could conquer the world of culinary perfection at the drop of a hat.  After all, they made everything look so easy and effortless. The dishes jumped off the screen, and I could almost smell the aromas steaming up in the room.  As I grew up, I realized there was a trail and error approach to cooking. Sometimes the oven caught on fire, and then other times, the meal was fit for pure royalty.  Either way, the thing I came to realize, was that each of the chef's I had diligently studied in my youth had a common resounding ring to them that echoed loudly through each episode: pure passion.
     I remember watching the ever graceful Lidia Bastianich on her Italian cooking show stir sauces, roll pastas, saute seafood, and prepare her meals not as an eager self-absorbed and over confident chef, but as a passionately strong woman just wanting to share her traditions and love to anyone willing to listen.  
I was mezorized by her ability to teach seemingly difficult executions with patients and perfection.  

Salute to Lidia.  Salute to traditions.  Salute to passion.

Perfect pillows of gnocchi were my favorite technique Lidia taught. These will soon be your go-to pasta to make at home whenever you have those few potatoes floating around you don't know what to do with  As always, best enjoyed preparing with those you love, having fun, and savoring the moments. 

Fresh Gnocchi
1 1/2 lbs mix of sweet potatoes and russet potatoes
1 c. (plus extra for dusting) flour
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp salt
pinch of fresh nutmeg
1TBLS Olive oil

Pierce potatoes and bake in a 400 degree oven about an hour or until soft.
Scoop out warm potato and whip until smooth.  Cool for 20-25 minutes
Add flour, salt, nutmeg and egg yolk and kneed until dough forms.

 Turn onto slightly floured surface and kneed until comes back together adding additional flour if sticky.  Divide dough into 4 sections. Roll each section into a rope about 3/4" wide.
 Cut each rope into 3/4" pieces

   With a floured fork, roll each piece down the fork while pressing gently and allowing the pasta to slightly concave.  

The pillows are ready to cook!
To cook: bring salted water to rolling boil and gently add pasta.  Cook about 4 minutes or until it rises to the surface.  Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat.  Add favorite sauce and devour.  

Friday, February 15, 2013

Life, Tattoos. and Pineapple.

When I was 18, I decided to do the one thing that my parents had always forbidden me not to do....march into a seedy store front, lay myself at the mercy of a questionable individual, and get a tattoo.  I walked into the eclectic shop, picked the only one I could afford at the time, and sat down for the hour long painful experience.  Although barley a inch wide, and only being able to bare 2 colors, it felt like an eternity before I sat up and looked down at the tiny gardenia on my hip.  I was happy, no, I was ecstatic.  Not that I was completely satisfied with the selection (after all, I had no money and wasn't about to go into debt being away at an extremely conservative Christian university), but I was satisfied with the seemingly "adult" decision I had made.  Since that Friday night, I have learned many life lessons about so called "adult decisions", that looking back, I can clearly see how it was more about the sense of freedom to create and decide for myself rather than the small purple flower that adorned my body.
Now, being almost 35, I can say that I still relish in the freedom of something still so out of the box, and the sense of accomplishment that only can come with personal victory.  The way I express these thrills may look different now, but the value is the same.  I value creating experiences to bring about utter joy, and I adore the different.
So you ask, "What does this have to do with food?", and I simply answer. EVERYTHING.

My fun way to enjoy a deliciously divine simplicity.
Roasted Stuffed Pineapple

I was hooked after I picked fresh pineapples in Costa Rica!
1 whole pineapple, skin on, halved
2 cups Amaretti cookies, chopped
1/2 c brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 c. Lightly toasted coconut
1/2 c hazelnuts,roughly chopped
1/4c butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350  Line cookie sheet with foil
In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients and set aside.
Slice whole pineapple in half.  With a small knife run it on either side of then tough core at an angle and remove.  Using the same knife, make a grid of 1/2-1" cuts so it is in cube form being careful not to cut through skin at bottom
Stuff the crumb mixture into crevasses and pack onto top as well.
Drizzle melted butter over pineapple.
Place in oven for 40-60 minutes or until sides are slightly bubbling
Serve on a large platter with a fresh dollop with whipped cream.  Forks in hand and dig in!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Blender Meets Beans

Dipping has gotten out of hand around here.  The days of simple salsa and over processed yellow cheese substance has long been thrown out the window.  One thing still remains forever etched in my memory: being 7 and sneaking into the kitchen with giggly girls, and spreading canned smashed beans on a white packaged tortilla,  topping it with a slice of cheese and turning the dial on our new handy quick cooker (a.k.a the microwave).   I may be a little older now, but the creamy delight is still a favorite.  Whether it be a late night snack, football party, girls movie night, snackie Sunday, or a random quick lunch, I'm always looking for an excuse to pull the blender out and pulse my heart out.
Perfect served any way imaginable 

Creamy Black Bean Dip

3c. cooked Black beans (if using canned beans rinse thoroughly)
4 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 large lime
1 whole jalapeno
1/2 bunch cilantro + extra for garnish
1 TBS ground cumin
2 TBS Greek yogurt
Queso Fresco for garnish

Place all ingredients in blender, and pulse until smooth.

Only for those......