7 layer dip, fancified

i’ve failed myself. my second triumphant remake of a white trash recipe and i forgot to take a picture. it’s a dirty rotten shame, and now that it’s been schlopped into a gladware tub, i don’t think the photo would do it justice.

  • layer one: black bean and chipotle puree
  • layer two: avocado cream
  • layer three: kalamata and roasted red pepper tapanade
  • layer four: red cabbage lime slaw
  • layer five: heirloom tomato pico de gallo
  • layer six: mexican crumbling cheese
  • layer seven: chopped green onions

it turned out pretty well i thought. i made entirely too much and almost botched the avocado cream, but the end result was pretty good. i held back on the spice to appease the birthday boy; it’s probably the only thing i’d change the next time around.

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tuna noodle, fancified

the finished product

the finished product

food processors are handy little devices; actually, they’re anything but little. every time the need for a food processor arises i spend a few solid minutes trying to think of some way, any way, around hauling the behemoth appliance out of storage and rummaging around for the right blade or attachment. the truth is, most things that can be done with a food processor can be done no other way. either that or the other way is just as difficult.

when trying to conceptualize “tuna noodle, fancified” my brain bubbled over with ideas. i wasn’t exactly sure how to do any of it, but the one thing i knew was that none of the ingredients could be canned, boxed, frozen or otherwise chemically preserved. everything had to be fresh. ok, so i cheated a little, i didn’t make the noodles, but when i told erik that frozen peas were out of the question, he told me that boxed bread crumbs would be cheating too. it’s not that breadcrumbs are hard to make, it’s just that they, like many things, require a food processor.

for those of you who didn’t grow up in a white trash household and are unfamiliar with the intricacies of tuna noodle, here is a basic recipe. for the rest, i’m sure you know that the main components of tuna noodle are tuna (duh), noodles (double duh), canned peas, a cream soup of some sort (preferably mushroom) and bread or cornflake crumbs. i wanted to keep the fancified version fairly true to the original.

like i said, i cheated, i used store bought egg noodles, no yolks to be exact. everything else though, was fresh and homemade: a steamed head of broccolini and a bechamel. the sauce was basic with the addition of some shallots, parmasean and a pinch of nutmeg. the tuna steak was crusted with sourdough breadcrumbs, lightly seared on each side and sliced atop the other ingredients. it was a tuna noodle deconstructed, if you will.

i’m typically pretty bad about timing a dish so everything is ready at once. i did run out of burners and pots on this one, but everything came together in the end. not to toot my own horn or anything (god i hate that expression) but this tuna noodle was damn good. i’d definitely make it again, but not until i’ve fancified a few other white trash classics. keep the ideas comin’.

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pickles

pickle varieties

pickle varieties

it’s been a busy summer. too much running around. after months of traveling, booked weekends and what seem like billions of little errands and household whatnots to deal with, i’m ready to hole myself up for the winter.

right before the first of this summer’s big trips, i made an enormous batch of pickles. i won’t give myself all of the credit, john was my canning soux chef, and without him i probably wouldn’t have finished in time. it was down to the wire. we were chopping, measuring, boiling and sealing until midnight with plans to leave early the next morning.

the problem with pickling is this, the results are nowhere near instantaneous. i’m an instant gratification kinda gal and i don’t particularly like waiting for the payoff. it’s been a couple of months now and we recently cracked the seal on the first jar of pickles. each jar was labeled with a date and “variety” of pickle. we made some slight alterations to each jar in order to find the perfect recipe. late night, sleepy canning leads to bleary eyed, lazy labeling. the first labels were clear: spicy, garlic, plain; but, as the hours wore on, the hand writing became sloppier, the dates started to change and the descriptors became abbreviations. months later it’s hard to remember what l.m. and b.m. stand for.

i opened the l.m. pickles first. i had forgotten that l.m. stood for “last minute,” meaning that these were the jar we made after running out of fresh dill. they sucked. well, let me rephrase; they were less than stellar. after the first taste of l.m. pickles, i wasn’t anxious to try the others. turns out fresh dill makes a hell of a difference. refrigeration doesn’t hurt either; i like my pickles chilled.

i’m not gonna say they were the best pickles i’ve ever had, but they were damn good. that’ll teach the pimply faced bed bath and beyond employees to laugh at me for asking where the canning supplies were located! harumph.

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white trash recipes

mmm bacon

bacon wrapped water chestnuts in bbq sauce

i was thinking recently about ways to spice things up on this here blog o’ mine. i’m pretty sure this is never going to be the kinda thing that inspires a cult internet following, but for my friends and family (whom i force to read about squash) i could stand to make things a little more interesting. just the other night, as i was eating a can of corn along side a peanut butter and butter sandwich, i had a wave of inspiration: white trash recipes.

growing up in michigan (jackson specifically) it would have been hard to avoid eating a white trash meal. in my home town you are never more than a 100 feet from an ambrosia salad at any given time, coney dogs are served as an appetizer to pizza and faygo is the beverage of choice. my mom used to make a dish that we called white trash dinner. it was basically a ghetto version of shepherd’s pie: a layer of ground beef cooked in gravy, topped with canned corn and mashed potatoes, then baked in the oven. the key point to any white trash recipe is not to have too many fresh ingredients. fruits and vegetables should never be more exotic than broccoli or canned peaches and tater tots should be used whenever possible.

back to the point… i thought it might be fun to take some of the classic white trash recipes and “fancify” them if you will. a different recipe each week with posted results. i’m not exactly sure which of these classics to start with, so i thought i’d put it to a vote. (other ideas are happily welcomed)

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dilly beans

dilly beans

dilly beans

five beans does not qualify as a serving. possibly if you are in ethiopia or one of the other impoverished nations of the world, but not here in america where we measure our food by the pound. five beans is, however, the amount of beans that my bean bush decided to produce per bean bush cycle. aside from random snacking, five beans are fairly useless, but i wanted the beans to be put to good use, i wanted them to serve a purpose and fulfill their beany destiny. they had to be pickled.

i gathered my beans for weeks, squirrelling them away in plastic baggies and hiding them in the crisper drawer of the fridge. (i say hiding because erik believes the crisper drawer is where batteries and film are stored.) i tucked them away until, weeks later, i had one jar’s worth of beans to pickle. it was pathetic, but it had to be done.

i’ve halved recipes before and i’ve doubled recipes, i have not, however, ever made 1/12 of a recipe before. twelfthing a recipe required such serious math i had to bring out the calculator. with calculating device in one hand and a measurement conversion chart in the other, i went to work. i fine tuned the dilly bean recipe on a lilliputian scale, but the final result was grand. my beans were delicious, dilly and spicy. they fulfilled their beany destiny, and for that, i am proud.

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i stand corrected

homosexual condiments

homosexual condiments

ok, i admit it. i was wrong. as much as i hate to say it, apparently there is such a thing as tomato jam. clearly this bastard of the condiment family lives among similar friends: fennel marmalade and breadcrumb salsa… feh. it’s not that i have a distaste for tomato “jam,” it’s just that the name strikes me as pretentious. what is tomato jam if not ketchup, or marinara? does the label make it taste any different or does it just make the price tag higher? things to ponder over lunch. i’ll probably have taco bell with mass quantities of fire sauce, or as i like to call it, spicy tomato and pepper puree.

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gadgets, doodads and thingamabobs

cherry pitter and cherry smoothies

cherry pitter and cherry smoothies

i’ll admit it, i used to be a gadget junkie. my mother fed my addiction. i put an end to a clearly unhealthy habit and now the majority of my gadgets reside in a box in the basement (sorry mom). but there are more gadgets out there, too many to count, each one more specific than the next. there are doodads to cut your avocados, thingamabobs to core your pineapples, pancake batter dispensers, pickle picker-uppers, bean peelers, melon ballers, egg separators, milk carton holders, bagel slicers, mushroom scrubbers, tea bag squeezers (heh), pasta measurers and cherry pitters to name a few. now, that’s not to say that there aren’t some useful kitchen tools out there. i use my citrus juicer on a fairly regular basis and my mind is often blown when a friend’s kitchen is lacking some crucial tool such as a potato masher.

i have often found pitting cherries to be a tiresome job. a small paring knife does the job but it requires a lot of patience and you best expect stained hands when you finish. i know you’re probably thinking “how often does a person pit cherries?” well, not that often… but when i do it’s enough of a pain in the ass that i was wishing for an easier solution. enter my mother and a cherry pitter. as you can see from the picture, it’s basically a hinged plastic contraption with a hole on one side and a solid plastic cylinder on the other. does it work? sort of.

the cherry pitter certainly doesn’t save on mess. by the end of one bag, my kitchen, and my shirt, were a cherry-splosion. a few times, the pit got stuck in the hole. other times, the pit didn’t come out at all, instead, the pitter just bored a tunnel directly through the center of the cherry. my smoothies were delicious (and nurtritious) but i think next time i’ll stick with the paring knife. another gadget retired to the basement box.

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