Foodie Friday: Carne Asada with Pico De Gallo

It’s that time of year for gathering together and firing up the grill! As it happens this week brings a particularly great excuse to invite friends and family over. Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in many different ways around the United States and Mexico. For me, it includes great food and an ice cold Mexican beer.

This week I wanted to share a recipe that is perfect for such an occasion: carne asada which translates into “grilled beef.” This delicious and simple protein can be served with warmed tortillas atop a salad and is delicious both warm and cold. To ensure that your carne asada is tender, be sure to cut it thinly across the grain of the meat. If you are vegetarian, try using the marinade with your favorite veggies or tofu, I’ve used it that way with skewers as well. Enjoy!
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Foody Friday: Orange Vanilla Apricot Short Ribs

2999294054_4f3eb98808_zSometimes in order to create a dish that is truly unique, you have to let go of the things you have been taught. After all, innovation can only exist if there is a starting point or an original idea, right? You might feel like creating a mint and arugula pesto, watermelon soup, or a mango shrimp pizza. All of these items may not sound appealing for everyone, but then again they must have sounded good at some point in order to have been born into the culinary universe.

When going out on a limb and getting creative in the kitchen, there are a few things you might want to consider:

* Test your idea in a small batch. Try simply tasting the ingredients individually first then making different combinations.

* Use your noodle! If you are putting chocolate and peanut butter together, it’s likely to taste good, but tarragon and papaya might need a third element to tie it together. Does it need acidity, salt, sugar, heat? Ask all the questions you can – it will only add to your bag of tricks to find out the answer.

* Recipes are your friend. If you want to make a vinaigrette you know it’s usually 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. The type of vinegar or “acid” – orange, lemon, or lime juice, for example – can be adapted or swapped out for the most part with good results. This being said, you should always taste as you go, rinsing your palate each time.

* Add ingredients in small amounts. If you think it needs more lemon juice, add just a touch, then taste. You can always add more, but you can’t take it back out.

* Keep it simple. Less can truly be more and if you have a good concept picked out, try not to over do it. Sometimes a cook will get swept up in the creative process and ends up ruining their dish. I have been there plenty of times and it’s a real bummer. Just try to relax, have fun, and keep things simple. If you do end up with a star fruit beef stew tower with almond milk foam, try not to feel bad about it – instead, feel good about trying something new. People get into ruts with food and you can’t make a magnificent discovery without a few attempts.

If you have never tried cooking fusion or sweet & savoury foods, try following a recipe at first in order to experience the balance the chef was going for – this may help you to create your masterpiece. Pick a dish you have made your own way with the “normal” ingredients so you have a jumping off point, and always get others involved when you can. In my kitchens, we taste everything together and talk about it. Is it too salty, does it need to be puréed more, or is it perfect? These questions shouldn’t put you on guard – they should open your mind up to what your guests will be tasting. With a little confidence and a lot of practice, you can be innovative and exciting in the kitchen all while satisfying your own cravings and curiosities. Enjoy!
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Mardi Gras Mayhem – Brass Bands, Beads and Crawfish Boils

Mardi-Gras-2011Two things that we love here at Brown Paper Tickets: Mardi Gras and brass bands! And there’s no other brass band that we love more than our buddies in Tubaluba. They marched with us at last year’s Gay Pride Parade here in Seattle and proved, without question, that they are the hottest, funkiest 2nd line brass band this side of the Big Easy.

With Fat Tuesday fast approaching, it’s time to start making your Mardi Gras plans and if you’re in Seattle, you’re in luck because Tubaluba are not only hosting a Mardi Gras bash at The Tractor Tavern but are also hosting a party bus that will take you to FOUR other Mardi Gras parties around town.

Mardi Gras revellers will meet at The Tractor Tavern at 4pm and then head over to Lower Queen Anne’s Tolouse Petit where Tubaluba will perform between 5 and 6pm. The party train will then head to the Capitol Hill neighborhood for KEXP’s Mardi Gras Bash at Havana Social Club. Next, is the Fremont neighborhood where Tubaluba will play at Nectar Lounge‘s Mardi Gras party. After Fremont, Tubaluba will head to their final destination, Ballard, where they will lead a parade down Ballard Avenue at 10pm, culminating in Tubaluba’s headlining performance on the Tractor Tavern stage. Your ticket to the party bus will get you admission into ALL these incredible Mardi Gras parties, complimentary beverages (including water), snacks and a commemorative Tubaluba Mardi Gras T-shirt. These tickets won’t last long so GET YOURS NOW!

Of course, for those of you not in Seattle, there are a ton of other Mardi Gras events going on nationwide, including, naturally, the home of Mardi Gras: New Orleans. We wanted to share a few of our favorites so you can start making party plans in your own neck of the woods.
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Foodie Friday: Hearty Beef Stew

Some of the greatest dishes of fine cuisine are also the most basic.  Don’t get me wrong, as a chef and avid foodie, I do enjoy the finer things. My life would be rather uneventful without the occasional foam or gastrique sauce but I am talking about comfort food that sticks to your ribs and sustains you through the cold, seemingly endless winter days. Among the classics such as chicken soup, curry, pot roast and split pea, who could forget good ol’ beef stew.

This hearty classic has always been one of the first things that comes to mind when I think of this time of year. Stews are ancient and primal, containing all the components of a balanced meal, cooked in one pot. In tough economical times this is a perfect option for a family of any size as it is inexpensive and easily adaptable to the ingredients that you have on hand. Got more carrots than celery? No problem! Just work with what you have, the result will be a hearty meal that will warm you and your family in more ways than one.

Here is my recipe for beef stew. It’s a basic recipe and, as usual, I encourage you to make it your own. Remember, a recipe is only a guideline. Enjoy!
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