Spooky Supernatural Tricks and Treats

Happy Halloween! I’ve got a couple three quickies (YOU know what I mean! Ungh!) for you to try out. One that will basically absolve you of any guilt that you might be feeling regarding that package of “fun sized” peanut butter cups that you purchased a week early and then proceeded to polish off before the trick or treaters knocked on the door, forcing you to to turn the lights out and go to A Frame for dinner and rationalize that no kid is going to find your funny little back house anyway. Another recipe, well, because I made some this morning and am always smugly pleased with myself when I do (but you’ll need a food processor). And a cute third recipe. I like cute things a lot (have you met my dog?) and I could forever live off of all the things that go into this assemblie (I’ll call it that: it’s not really a recipe). None of these three have much in common except that they’re just so speedy to put together. And they’re all sorta kinda a little bit guilt free because of how super natural they are. Booooooooo.

Kale Chips! (the guilt absolver)

I like salty snacks. These snacks make me feel like a champion. They taste great (for reals, yo), and there’s just nothing bad to feel bad about when you eat them. Get ready for some rocket science.

Ingredients:

1 bunch of kale

2 tbsp. olive oil

salt, to taste

Preparation:

1) Preheat the oven to 350.

2) Wash and dry kale, then remove tough center rib and tear into bite-sized pieces.

3) Toss with oil and salt.

4) Spread on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, until edges begin to brown.

5) Allow to cool, then dig in. Kale chips! Crrrrrunch!

*you can jazz this up with some chili flakes, soy sauce, whatever seasoning floats your boat.

Peanut Butter

Right? So easy! You just need a food processor.

Ingredients:

1 pkg. peanuts, salted or dry roasted or plain or whatever

2 tbsp. peanut oil (I use grapeseed, it’s always in my kitchen)

a squirt or two of agave or honey, to taste

Preparation:

1) Dump peanuts into your food processor and turn it on. It’s noisy folks! Just bare with it!

2) Drizzle oil then agave through the top while the peanuts get smooshed up. Let’er rip for as long as you like, the longer, the smoother. (It won’t get perfectly smooth, but I don’t mind a bit of texture).

3) Done. Spread on everything. Homemade buns. Your husband’s buns (zing!). Works great in cookie recipes.

Cute Little Cocktail Caprese Salad

Bring these to a party! Or just make them and throw a little party, for your mouth.

Ingredients:

Cute skewers (those bamboo ones with the little knots at the end are good)

Cute little balls of bocconcini in oil and italian seasoning (if you can only find the kind in water, drain the water, pour olive oil over top and add some basil and oregano, fresh or dried)

Grape Tomatoes

Basil leaves, washed

Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation:

1) Toss tomatoes with bocconcini and oil. Season with salt and pepper, fairly liberally, since this will be where most the the flavors come from.

2) Skewer alternately a tomato, a bocconcini ball, a basil leaf (fold it accordion-style and stab it with a skewer), another bocconcini, another tomato.

3) Serve and eat ’em up. Yum yum, gimme some.

Big City Sandwich and Bluebird Cakes Pop Up

Dear Jack Skellington, for Halloween this year I would like a time machine to travel back to Edmonton last Sunday.

My brother-in-law knows his way around bold flavors and meat (and how!), which has led him to follow his heart and chase a dream- to open a gourmet food truck in Edmonton: Big City Sandwich. You get the idea… he’ll sell super deluxe sammies all around Festival City for as long as weather permits. Yeah yeah, another sandwich truck, what’s the big deal? The big deal is that a) food trucks aren’t yet a big deal in Edmonton and b) that wouldn’t matter anyway because these aren’t sandwiches for the faint of heart. Chris Delaney brings his love for meat, for BBQ, and for obsessive research and testing, and sandwiches it (see what I did there? Boom!) between the most delicious, thoughtfully selected buns, then serves up some crazy good times on the side. The man is an infectious slab of pure joy, and it tells in his culinary offerings. But it’s not cheap to buy a food truck, no siree. In an effort to raise awareness (and funds!) for his New Year endeavor, Chris Delaney has been “popping up” at local Edmonton restaurants. He shows up with his ingredients,a crew, and a game plan, and takes over an established restaurant that’s generally slow or closed for the evening: food profit goes to him, drink profit to the establishment, done.

Big City Sandwich popped up at the delicious and well respected Packrat Louie last Sunday, and to great success. Beef brisket sammies with bacon jam, topped with Delaney’s signature jalapeño popper. Fresh cut fries sprinkled in “bone dust.” Oh folks! Cap the evening off with my sister-in-law Amanda’s pumpkin whoopee pies from Bluebird Cakes, and you’ve got yourself an epic win! 168 meat sammies were sold, 10 vegetarian, and the whoopees sold out. (You’re maybe going to get tired of hearing me sing Bluebird Cake praises, but you shouldn’t. Guys. The things that this woman can do with baked goods will haunt. Your. Dreams.)

Last month, Big City Sandwich debuted their pop up at the Bend, to the tune of Cuban Pork Sammies (oh, holy hell- toasted bun, swiss, pulled pork, candy caramelized onion, sour pickle, spicy mustard, jalapeño popper), bone dust fries with a side of chipotle mayo, and some sweet and cool slaw. Bluebird rocked out some red velvet whoopees, and Josh and I were fortunate enough to be assistant Bluebirds in the baking of the 160 tiny temptations, then served as line cooks on the night of the big event. It was a bit of a dream come true, and the evening was a raging success.

Congrats to Big City Sandwich and Bluebird Cakes for getting it done, and in an old school way. (If you’re reading this and happened to be there, leave a comment and let me know how delicious it was). I’ll keep you posted as to where their next pop up attack will be- I don’t want to miss it, but without my Halloween time machine, I don’t like my chances. So please, oh oh plea- ea- ease… go for me?

A visa, some pizza

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I have obtained another coveted 3 year 01 visa. It wasn’t easy to get. I’ll save the song and dance for a proper catch up face to face with wine!, but needless to say, I’m back in Los Angeles. The timer started 11 days ago. I figure I’d better make the next 3 years count.

Here’s an interesting statistic: auditions since returning- 0. Catering gigs (for my best buddy, so it only barely counts)- 1. I might love food more than what I came to LA to do. To act. I definitely love food more than twiddling my thumbs and waiting: for auditions, jobs, to grow up, have babies, to figure it all out. I love cooking with and for my fella and friends, and I’ve had the happy pleasure of guest blogging about it for my dear chum Jewel at Happy Opu (Yes yes, that Jewel. Sci-fi babe and actress extodinaire. Girls, guys, believe the hype. She’s your dream, I promise. She cooks like Betty, orders and eats like Veronica and does it all with a wine in her manicured hand and a cocker spaniel nipping at the scraps by her Jimmy Choos.) She’s been the best cheerleader a girl could have, let me tell ya, and among many other things (all involving wine), she’s inspired me to write this blog.

Tonight, we, the Dean Team, made pizza for dinner. Dear god (Martha Stewart), thank you for your pizza crust. Why? Because it’s just the fastest and easiest food processor recipe you could hope to whiz together. Top that good ol’ good ol’ basic dough with some leftover stinky blue, mushrooms and prosciutto from your best pal’s bon voyage soiree and Thursday night becomes a little Visa pizza party for two. In the mouth region.

Dough Recipe (Martha Stewart):

1 c warm water

1 pkg active dry yeast

1/4 tsp sugar

2 & 3/4 c flour (I used 1 & 1/2 c wheat and 1 & 1/4 c white)

1 tsp salt

1 & 1/2 tbsp oil

Preparation:

1) Whiz the flour and salt together in the food processor to combine.

2) Sprinkle yeast and sugar into warm water, stir with a fork and allow it all to bubble bubble toil and trouble for 5 minutes.

3) Pour oil and yeasty water over flour and pulse together until a ball is formed in the machine. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, knead 4-5 times, and form into a smooth ball.

4) Lightly oil a bowl, put dough inside, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, approximately 40 minutes.

5) Punch down, knead 4-5 times, and return dough ball to plastic wrapped bowl for another 40 minute.

6) Punch down again, divide dough in half, cover one for a later use (like a half hour after you digest the first pizza, you glutton) and let other half rest for five minutes before rolling into your  crust shape.

BBQ Blue, Mushroom Visa Pizza

Some olive oil

1/4 lrg onion, finely diced

Some more olive oil

1/4 lb of your favorite mushrooms (we used a combo of shitaki, diced portabella, and plain ol’ button)

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

a splash of white wine, whatever you plan to drink

salt and pepper

2 pieces proscuitto, cut into strips

1 ounce blue cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded

healthy handful arugula

4 big basil leaves, torn

Preparation:

1) Get Josh to light up that grill and let it get hot (the grill guys, the grill… keep it clean! For now).

2) Saute onions in a generous glug of olive oil until translucent and cooked through. (you could spend a half hour and caramelize them, yum, but we were too hungry to wait).

3) In a different pan, saute mushrooms and garlic over medium heat for 5ish minutes. Splash in the wine, make sure it boils or the pizza’ll taste all boozy, let the mushrooms absorb, season with salt and pepper, add chopped proscuitto. Cook another minute, then remove from heat.

4) Bring onions in oil, blue cheese, mushroom mix, mozzarella, arugula and basil out to the grill area.

5) On parchment paper, roll dough to a size that will fit on your grill. Bring rolled out dough, still on its paper, outside.

6) Remove paper (look ma, it doesn’t stick!) and place on hot grill, but turn it down to medium right away. Tss! (that’s the sounds it’s gonna make). Cook dough for approximately two minutes (until you see happy grill marks, but not too deep or dark), then, using tongs, grab a corner and flip it onto the raw side.

7) Work fast now! Spread onion and oil mix on crust, followed by blue cheese, mushrooms, mozzarella, arugula and torn basil. Close the lid of the Q for a few minutes- the time it takes for cheese to melt, crust to crisp, and also to run inside and grab a big cutting board or plate.

8)Remove pizza from grill onto cutting board, have your partner carry it in while you grab all the pans and bowls from prep.

9) Get Josh to cut the pizza while you clean the kitchen faster than a tornado.

10) Pour yourself a glass of Demetria Chardonnay, turn on the Edmonton/Minnesota hockey game, and enjoy your Visa Pizza with the one you love. Let it get hot.  Bedwise.