While “life” has gotten in the way of those regularly scheduled Family Food Fights, we’re still a family that loves to eat together. And, even if we’re not competing, you can bet your bottom dollar we eat well. Welcome to Saturday’s crab boil at my son and Julie’s house.
Life has a funny way of getting between you and the things you like to do sometimes. Fortunately, for us, it’s been all good things like a wedding, a graduation, various trips out of town, and lots of other happy events.
It had been quite a while since we battled it out in the kitchen. So when Jim called one day last week to ask “how about a Family Food Fight this weekend?”, I was ‘all in’. And, since 3 of us are watching carbs these days, we decided the theme of the challenge would be Atkins-friendly.
On Sunday “Our Family Food Fight” battled the States. The challenge was to cook something representative of the states we randomly chose from a U.S. puzzle box. Clearly, I got Idaho and , of course, I immediately thought of potatoes. Other states selected were Maryland, South Carolina and Arizona. You’ll be able to see the progression of all 4 dishes on the Family Food Fight blog when Jim posts later this week. I’ll tweet and let you know when they’re up.
I don’t know if anyone in Idaho ever ate a pizza like this, but they should!
After a long hiatus, Our Family Food Fight is back!
The theme: Surprise (stuffed) Burgers.
The challenge: present a burger with a surprise stuffing. And, of course, it had to be thematically correct, appropriately dressed and accompanied.
The Contestants: The usual suspects (Jim, Cassie, me) plus our newest family member, Julie (Jim’s wife). We’ll have to update that photo in the sidebar one of these days.
I debated between calling mine “The Sunday Sauce Burger” or “The Italian Stallion”. It has all the components and flavors of an Italian Sunday Sauce dinner but, as I developed the idea and went with the ‘one-burger-for-all’ instead of sliders, it began to take on the personality of an ‘Italian Stallion’. Besides, I liked the rhyming.
Most of you know that here at FOODalogue Sunday is a family day. It’s either spent enjoying celebratory dinners with the extended family (when you number 17, it’s always someone’s birthday or a holiday) – or – Jim, Cassie and I have food challenges. No birthdays this week, so we planned a ‘Family Food Fight’: Battle “burgers”. Though unspoken, we each came up with a non-ketchup burger (not that we have anything against ketchup).
Ben of What’s Cooking? issued a challenge to food bloggers to make tortillas. And, I issued a challenge to my team…let’s collectively make the tortillas and individually make a filling and topping. [I'm not a fan of dough-related recipes. I like to eat them, but I just don't have the temperament to make them. So, "collectively" means I issue ideas (I had a few), Jim does the actual work, and Cassie plays games on his I-phone.]
Ay, caramba! Qué pasó? Every recipe I saw said “masa harina” so I bought masa harina. While harina is the literal Spanish translation for flour, ‘masa harina’ as sold in our supermarkets is corn meal and not the right product. Did I know? When it became obvious things were going badly, I rushed out to pick up ready-made tortillas so we could at least have dinner and not waste all the delicious fillings and toppings. And, there, on a lower shelf all by itself, I saw Maseca corn FLOUR so I bought it figuring we’d (Jim) would give it another shot and if it failed again, we’d be ready to eat anyway with the store-bought tortillas.
1. obviously not working; 2. in the garbage; 3. the back-up plan
Blast Off. We didn’t have to abort and were able to successfully complete the mission and add our culinary points-of-view to the actual tortillas, the fillings and the toppings.
We used the standard tortilla recipe (easy with the right product) and made them ‘ours’ by pressing cilantro leaves into the dough (left); mixing in Sazon seasoning with achiote (center); and blending the dough with squid ink (right).
Jim made carnitas with a slow-cooked pork butt and pickled onions which we paired with the achiote tortilla; Cassie wanted to make a “salad” filling and chopped lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, olives etc. and served it with a citrus vinaigrette and we paired that with the cilantro tortilla; and I made a shrimp ceviche which I had planned to serve with the squid-ink infused tortilla.
(Note: While none of the tortillas really took on the flavor of the infusions, they did make for a nice visual.)
Toppings. I made a salsa of black beans and crumbled Mexican cheese with cilantro, red onions, and a sherry vinaigrette. Jim shaved a few ears of corn and dressed the niblets in a bright and delicious citrus vinaigrette. He also made pickled onions. Cassie made a fresh guacamole to go along with her salad but we were so hungry, we just started eating it with blue corn chips and it never made it to the photography table.
After a disastrous start, we got our stride and created the meal I envisioned – and it was muy delicioso - so I’d like to thank Ben for coming up with the idea. I would have never thought to make my own tortillas! Visit Jim’s Our Family Food Fight for his take on the challenge, the pork recipe and more photos.
Recipe for ceviche:
16 jumbo shrimp
1/2 cup Naranja Agria (sour orange juice) or use fresh squeezed orange
salt to taste
splash of hot sauce
red onion sliced very thinly
handful of cilantro
Marinate well in refrigerator for several hours (at least) until shrimp take on color.
This is my contribution to the latest Family Food Fight (our usual Sunday activity). Cassie, my granddaughter, picked the theme which was 3 greens. And, I must say, we all did an exceptional job. For really good food porn, take a quick trip to my son’s photolog to see all 3 delicious courses. You won’t be disappointed!
Since I knew Jim & Cass were planning light, first course-type dishes — Jim a chilled soup & salad and Cassie a zucchini pasta - I decided to go with meat.
This Ain’t Yo Mama’s Pigs in a Blanket
It’s 3 Greens Wrapped Around Italian Pork Sausage
and Served with Caramelized Onions & Garlic Croutons
It’s almost healthy…if you don’t count the pork sausage.
Ingredients: 3 greens, Italian pork sausage, chicken broth, garlic; sweet onions, butter, Balsamic syrup; day old crusty bread.
To market, to market…to buy greens. I came home with 3 bouquets (swiss chard, escarole and dandelions). Next step, cleaning them — the dandelions were sandy buggers and required about 3 baths.
Method: I quick blanched each leaf just to get it malleable and, after that, it was pretty much layer one green on top of the other, place the sausage down, and roll. I cooked them in chicken broth filled half-way up with a few garlic cloves for about 45 minutes (turn a few times during process).
I caramelize thinly sliced onions with a slow cook method starting with a pat of butter and olive oil, S&P. If, during the process, I feel the onions need a little more liquid rather than more butter or oil, I add a few drops of my trusty friend, chicken broth. Once the onions have softened, add Balsamic syrup. I let them continue to hang out over low heat for about a half-hour.
Garlic Croutons: Drizzle olive oil, kosher salt and bake till toasty. Rub garlic clove over surface.
FAMILY FOOD FIGHT: Battle “Shrimp“
The Back Story
My son, granddaughter and I have been doing Family Food Fights (usually on Sundays) since way before I started this blog. The results have been recorded by my son on his photolog at foodfight. (He’s a much better photographer…and, sometimes, better cook than I am and my granddaughter is not far behind us in both categories!)
From the beginning, it has always been a serious competition to either reinvent or creatively come up with new recipes in tasting-size portions. It starts with our selecting a theme and then we generally operate autonomously. At first, it was all about the food but, as time progressed and we became increasingly interested in recording the process, the art of presentation and creating a photo-worthy dish became significant components of the “battle”.
I think this is a great family activity. It’s fun, it gets the creative juices going, and revolves around the kitchen and sharing meals. And, we genuinely get to enjoy each other’s company…that is, when we’re not vying for a position at the stove or cutting board! And, in the end, we get to eat!
Here is Jim’s process of setting up for the shoot: serious camera, tripod and other equipment (not totally visible), umbrella, foam boards, etc. My modus operandi is plate the food, point, shoot and hope for the best. But with his tutelage, I’m working on being a little more focused (literally and figuratively.)
A week ago our “theme” was shrimp and, interestingly, we independently came up with 3 distinctly different ethnic dishes. I started with a Greek appetizer plate pictured above (recipe below), Cassie followed with a trio of Asian dishes, and Jim went Latin with mojo-marinated shrimp, grilled yuca and pineapple. Here’s my appetizer.
and a Duo-of-Greek-Appetizers and Pita-Chips (phew!)
Shrimp: Marinate shrimp in olive oil, oregano, grated fresh garlic, and a squeeze of lemon. Grill.
Salad: Halve cucumber and hollow out center. Chop fresh tomatoes and dress with lemon, olive oil, garlic and minced parsley. Let sit for a while so flavors meld and then place in cucumber boat.
Dressing: Pulse olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano and a few pitted calamata olives. Add crumbled feta cheese and mix.
Tsatsiki: I used 2% Fage Greek Yogurt with some freshly grated garlic and chopped green part of scallions. I did not add cucumber because I was serving the whole cucumber.
Hummus: Store bought , but a good brand. Added a toasted walnut and served on pita chips.
See all photos of this battle and others at foodfight.
FAMILY FOOD FIGHT: Salute to the Feast of San Gennaro
It doesn’t matter that it’s been almost 15 years since I left New York and that I love living in FL, there are certain things that always take me back to “the city”. Comes the end of September I can’t help but think about the Feast of San Gennaro and the smells of Mulberry Street and I definitely long for New York (for a nano second). So this week our Family Food Fight was a salute to San Gennaro and the Italian food of our collective history.
Jimmy gave us a nice first dish of crispy proscuitto-wrapped fresh figs and followed with his version of sausage & peppers…3 varieties of grilled sausage, a delicious combination of tri-colored peppers & onions cooked in a tomato sauce and a hunk of ciabatta bread.
And what is an Italian street fair without zeppoles? Cassie did 3 versions: lemon-scented, orange-scented and cocoa-infused.
Once again, I’m going to send you over to foodfight for all the photos, but present my contribution here:
Rice Parm and Chicken-Spinach Meatballs a la Siciliana
Rice: Saute a little onion, add 1 cup of rice and toss with oil and onion to coat. Transfer to oven-proof dish and add 1/2 cup of chicken broth and 3/4 of cup of pasta sauce. Sprinkle a handful of parmesan cheese and mix. Flatten mixture. Cover with more parmesan and a handful of shredded mozzarella. Cover dish and bake for 30-40 minutes. Serves 4-6 as a side dish.
Spinach Mixture: I love this technique which I do in my Magic Bullet (favorite kitchen item). Crack egg into one of the mixing cups, add handfuls of fresh spinach, a little parsley, a little basil and pack down. As it starts to break down, you can pack in additional spinach. Pulse to consistency of pesto. Add S&P, a fresh grind of nutmeg. The resulting mixture perfectly distributes the flavors and color for whatever you’re adding it to. (I came up with the technique when I was making an eggs florentine dish…talk about green eggs!)
Meatballs: Mix 1 lb. ground chicken with spinach mixture, some freshly grated garlic, parmesan and flavored breadcrumbs. For the “a la Siciliana”, I add toasted pine nuts and a handful of yellow raisins. Roll small and bake in oven for about 30 minutes. They were very delicious and fun, especially if you like green meatballs. And they’re healthier too since they contain a lot of spinach and are baked.
On the Way Into the Oven
Next Day Leftovers: Meatball with Peppers & Onions Ciabatta Sandwich
And for additional family fun, we play Foodie Fight Trivia (purchased at Barnes & Noble).
Ain’t we got fun?!
More photos on foodfight. Past battles include pizza, 4th of July Reinvented, chicken, grilling, etc.