Avocado, Mango, and Beef Risotto

Despite me pushing them on her many times before, my wife has recently (finally!) discovered the wonder that is an avocado. Served with simply a dash of salt, its a fantastic thing. Given how many more avocados I’ve suddenly found consumed in our house, it only seemed appropriate that I center a dinner around it. Many ideas came to mind, but it had been awhile since I’d made a risotto, and given how creamy and rich those tend to be, this seemed like a match made in heaven.

Avocado, Mango, and Beef Risotto

The tricky thing with avocados is I think they disappear into a dish very easily, becoming an indistinguishable source of creaminess and I really wanted their unique flavor to be at the forefront. They can also be a bit tricky in that you can’t really cook them. My solution? I began with a lemongrass… click to read more…

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The Best Damn Burgers

Whenever I’m entertaining a crowd, I instinctively fall back on burgers. There’s a lot of room to play and people’s expectations always seem low so it’s easy to blow people away. So I thought I’d try something new again, but a little simpler than the burgers I’ve made before. The goal: less “extra” flavors and something incredibly rich and beefy–more of a steakburger.

The Best Damn Burger Ever

This was my excuse to play with my new KitchenAid meat grinder. I started with two separate cuts of beef: chuck (for fattiness–keeps the burger juicy) and ribeye (also fatty, but much more intense beef flavor). You could certainly throw the steak in a food processor, but a real meat grinder won’t turn your meat into texture-free paste. The goal is to nicely emulsify the meat and fat so you have a somewhat… click to read more…

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Pastitsio

Pastitsio is a Greek pasta dish that is both fun to say and a joy to eat. I had only first learned of the dish after reading about it from Peter, one of my favorite Greek food bloggers. The dish somewhat reminds me of lasagna in that it’s a hearty blend of pasta, meaty sauce, and a creamy Bechamel sauce all baked into gooey deliciousness. However, the flavor and texture is quite distinct from lasagna but still has all the amazing comfort food properties that will have you making this over and over again.

Pastitsio

The first major difference: tubular pasta instead of big sheets. I couldn’t find the authentic bucatini, so I used ziti. Then, the meat sauce isn’t a traditional bolognese, but a quicker-to-make tomato and… click to read more…

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Pulled Beef Brisket over Sweet Potato Waffles with a Chile Tamarind BBQ Sauce

I have a special place in my heart for southern food and flavors. Until I can convince my wife to try pulled pork (she won’t be able to fight it forever once we’re in North Carolina!), I have to find other ways to quell my cravings. This is such a dish. My thinking? Fried chicken and waffles are a beautiful combo…same goes for meat and potatoes… so why not serve pulled beef (instead of pork) over sweet potato waffles?

Pulled Beef Brisket over Sweet Potato Waffles with a Chile Tamarind BBQ Sauce

Now I know this one sounds strange, but this was incredible. This begins by making a barbecue sauce where the big players are chiles, tomatoes, and tamarind–fruity, earthy, spicy, sweet, sour–there’s a lot of flavor going on. The tamarind flavor was distinctly present, but not overpoweringly so while the chiles gave a very solid flavor backbone… click to read more…

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Sweet Potato Beef & Peanut Soup

I was intrigued when I first read of an African Sweet Potato Peanut Soup. Firstly, I know close to nothing of African cuisine, secondly, I love peanuts, and thirdly, I hardly ever use peanuts outside of breakfast/dessert applications (usually as peanut butter, yum!), so really, there was a lot to this that caught my eye. Of course, tinkering with the soup a bit here and there, I’m not sure if its quite the same African peanut soup any more, but its definitely a keeper.

Sweet Potato Beef & Peanut Soup

Somewhat to my surprise, this soup reminded me of red Thai curries I’ve had before. The sweet potato base of the soup gave a great heartiness while the mix of ginger, peppers, peanut, and coconut added that creamy/tangy/spicy blend of flavors that so strongly evoked thoughts of Thai for me. Was it precisely what I intended? No. Was I disappointed? Definitely not. I would describe… click to read more…

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Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: The Whole Enchilada

I’ve mentioned before that this is a year of change for my wife and I. One of those changes is my wife’s graduation from medical school. We’ve had a somewhat infrequent tradition with some of her friends from school where we’d have them over and I’d go to town fussing over a nice meal. Before everyone heads in different directions to the next step of their careers (side note: we’ll be headed to the Raleigh/Durham region of North Carolina and I’m looking for new opportunities), we thought it would be nice to have one more of these nice meals so everyone could enjoy good food, good company, and just spend some time relaxing and catching up in ways that just aren’t so possible in the day-to-day hustle and bustle.

Enchilada dinner spread

So for this meal, given my newish interest in Mexican food, I decided to center this dinner around a Mexican… click to read more…

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