Nobel Prizefighter Cocktail

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 My goodness, guys. This past Saturday was National Rum Day and everyone was just so, so on top of that game. Cocktail bloggers are an organized and lovely bunch of coconuts. Me, I’m just a girl standing in front of the Internet asking it: What boozy holiday is coming up next? Is today Wednesday or Thursday? What’s my MySpace password? And do you have a phone charger I could borrow? And who is Grumpy Cat again?

Anyway. Let’s think of this post as being about 362 days early.

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It’s a green one: woodsy, a little vegetal, and plenty crisp and bright. I tried a bunch of different variations of it, and even though the final version I’m presenting here is a little fussy (there’s a bay leaf syrup AND an infusion, plus I clarified the lime juice for presentation purposes), I’m happy to report that it is a choose-your-own-adventure-according-to-your-level-of-laziness project. At a bare minimum, infusing the rhum agricole with bay leaves is definitely enough. The syrup makes a difference, but not enough that you should be dissuaded from trying a simple version of this. From there, let your level of motivation be your guide.

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Tamarind-Glazed Skirt Steak with Pickled Yellow Squash

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Recipe for Tamarind-Glazed Skirt Steak and Pickled Yellow Squash - 10th Kitchen

Things I learned last week: 
1. A bad haircut can indeed give me weird feelings. I always used to roll with less-than-stellar cuts, but … baby bangs, guys. That’s all you need to know. Send bobby pins and hairspray to the Danguole Looks Like a Drunk Toddler Foundation, c/o Buster Bluth.

cQB

2. It’s okay (smart, actually) to turn around on a solo hike because you sort of lost the trail and don’t have enough phone juice for the GPS. You still get an obscenely large michelada for your efforts.
3. Baby bangs: still not okay.
4: Baby bangs: they happen SO FAST.

Recipe for Tamarind-Glazed Skirt Steak and Pickled Yellow Squash - 10th Kitchen

5. A quart-sized jar of my mom’s chunky garden vegetable pasta sauce lasts approximately 1.75 days in this apartment (population: 1). No actual pasta necessary.
6. I had forgotten how much I like meals that can be made ahead of time. Those are typically not summer fare; they’re stews, soups, braises, and the like, but…

Enter pickled vegetables and grilled meat. Once you’ve pickled and marinated, you’re good to go–all that is left is a few minutes of grilling. And, while the meat is resting, you’ll probably have enough time to make a drink and tell your children how they’ve disappointed you. Unless they’ve been on TV for The Wrong Reasons, then maybe eat first, okay? Okay. Nobody likes cold steak.

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Ramen Brownies with Whiskey Caramel

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Ramen Brownies with Whiskey Caramel - 10th Kitchen. Crunchy nut-free brownies!

Guess what I found while digging through stuff from my college days.

… Juuust kidding. This is not a random act of madness and mystery pantry finds–I put ramen in brownies on purpose. It was all very deliberate, actually; I even briefly considered what kind to get. Though it clearly doesn’t matter here, I went with chicken just in case I find a use for the seasoning packet (such as… Giving myself a mild stroke for whatever reason).

Ramen Brownies with Whiskey Caramel - 10th Kitchen. Crunchy nut-free brownies!

See, I got all sorts of inspired by this Raspberry Ramen Rocky Road a while back. I have occasionally eaten dry ramen as a snack, but it’s also a genius way to add crunch and visual interest to desserts if you don’t want to or can’t use nuts (hey allergies) or seeds (allergies, again? Wow, I’m sorry).

Also, if you do have mysterious packets of ramen in your pantry, I wouldn’t judge you if this is how they met their fate. Truth be told, if they’ve been hanging around a while, they kind of deserve this treatment. They’ve been here for you. All along.

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Apricot and Vanilla Bean Spuma

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Apricot and Vanilla Bean Spuma - 10th Kitchen

Just a week or so ago, if you’d asked me what spuma is, I would’ve grinned a big idiot grin and started guessing. An Italian soccer player? An exotic plant’s reproductive bits? A stallion-puma hybrid? (Don’t look at me like that, we both know stranger things happen.)

Now, if you ask me what spuma is, I’ll grin a big idiot grin and ramble for a good five minutes to tell you that it’s Something You Must Make Now before actually getting to telling you what it is, if you don’t already know. Much like I’m currently doing.

Apricot and Vanilla Bean Spuma - 10th Kitchen

It’s egg whites, sugar, and fruit syrup. That’s it. Meringue meets sorbet, but the result is more like a fluffy, mousse-like dairy-free ice cream. And–and!–it’s ridiculously easy to make. No ice cream maker necessary.

Are you feeling this yet? I am. Truly madly deeply in my heart-area.

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Chilled Beet Soup with Horseradish Croutons

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Chilled Beet Soup with Horseradish Croutons - 10th Kitchen

I did it right this time, guys! I made soup with summer’s most glamorous produce. I stuck it in the fridge. I lived life for a few hours. And then, I had a beautiful, fresh, cool lunch. No sweating, no hot flashes, no mirages of fridges sitting in the desert.

Chilled Beet Soup with Horseradish Croutons - 10th Kitchen

“Do you want a cookie, Danguole?” Good question! It’s ok, though. I’ve been preemptively eating them my whole life just in case I do something awesome.

I guess this would be the “other” cold, bright pink beet soup–the one that isn’t summer borscht (which is 100% most likely my favorite Lithuanian dish). Summer borscht is chunky, not smooth, and leans on the fresher side of things, with loads of cucumber and dill. This has beet and tangy cultured dairy going on, but it’s more about the pureness of earthy beet. A variation on a theme for those who, for some reason I can’t fathom but will still accept, don’t like cucumber and dill.

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Mee Kati–Thai Rice Noodles in Coconut Milk

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Mee Kati--Thai Rice Noodles in Coconut Milk, with pork or shrimp, tofu, tamarind. - 10th Kitchen

I came across Mee Kati when hunting for lesser-known Southeast Asian noodle dishes. See, I’ve already blogged my favorites–Pad Thai, drunken noodles, and Pad See Ew–around here. (Do me a favor and please don’t look for them, though; some of those photos were taken at a weird time in my life, i.e. when I thought I could make do without succumbing to the whims of natural light–and who knows what else was going on because BOY, talk about a white balance only a mother could love. I HAVE CHANGED, I swear.)

Mee Kati, though.

Mee Kati--Thai Rice Noodles in Coconut Milk, with pork or shrimp, tofu, tamarind. - 10th Kitchen

It has definitely become a favorite, if not the favorite. This dish is a dream come true if you’ve ever sat in a Thai restaurant, paralyzed by having to decide between a creamy coconut curry and a noodle dish, i.e. what happens to me every single time. 

That is to say: this is a have-your-coconut-milk-and-eat-noodles-too situation. Mee Kati is creamy, savory, tamarind-tangy, and incredibly flavorful. It isn’t spicy, and I didn’t even find myself wishing it were–it’s that good. Because there’s no fish sauce in the mix, it is easily vegan-fied if you skip the meat and egg. Flavorwise, you can certainly afford to.

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