Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Long Time

It's been a long time, I know. I've been busy with finals, graduating, and dragging all of my stuff back home in preparation for my move to the Czech Republic. So here's a a short post with an elegant, celebratory recipe.

Spicy Cumin Cheese Straws
Adapted from Epicurious

4 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded fine (about 1 1/4 cups)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
1/2 package frozen phyllo dough, thawed
2 sticks butter
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon paprika
coarse sea salt to taste

In a small bowl toss together cheese, ground cumin, paprika, and cayenne.

Separate your phyllo dough into individual sheets. Brush one sheet with butter all the way to the edges. Smooth a second sheet of phyllo on top of it. Continue until you have used half of your phyllo sheets. Sprinkle the cheese and spices onto the dough, leaving a one-inch strip along the top and bottom. Press another phyllo sheet on top, making sure to seal the edges with the butter so your straws don't fall apart. Continue layering the phyllo sheets until you run out. Brush the top sheet with butter and sprinkle with sea salt.

With a pastry wheel or sharp knife cut pastry into strips about 7 1/2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. Twist strips and arrange on baking sheets, pressing ends onto sheet to keep strips twisted.

Preheat oven to 350°F. and grease 2 baking sheets.

Arrange half of cheese straws about 1 inch apart on 1 baking sheet and bake in middle of oven 8 to 10 minutes, or until pale golden. Bake remaining cheese straws in same manner.

Serve cheese straws warm at room temperature.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Unexpected Ways

Sometimes things come together in unexpected ways. Like spending months and months desperately searching for a job after graduation only to hear...absolutely nothing. And then finding out that the one job that did interview you went to someone else. And then a week later getting an e-mail that says...you got it.

Did I mention that I have a job?

Oh, and it's in Prague. That's right, beginning in July I will be writing to you from the Czech Republic, where I will hopefully have a kitchen and not just a hot plate and a microwave. Unfortunately at the moment, that's looking like it might be the case. We'll see.

But like I was saying, sometimes things that you don't expect to work out just...do. Like these tacos. Normally, the combination of lime, beans, feta and hot sauce would seem a little strange. But let me tell you, these tacos have won over everyone who has tried them, even the most skeptical of critics. There's something about the barely-there flavor of the cumin that the feta complements beautifully, and the hot sauce and lime just enhance everything else, rather than overwhelming it.

And the best part is, they're ready in under ten minutes. I've made this recipe at least five times since I first saw it, and if only I had feta in my fridge right now, I'd be going on number six for dinner.

Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Slaw
from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 4 tacos

1 15-ounce can black beans, drained
1 teaspoon ground cumin
5 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons (or more) fresh lime juice
2 cups coleslaw mix or shredded cabbage
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 white or yellow corn tortillas
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
Hot sauce

Place beans and cumin in small bowl; partially mash. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix 2 teaspoons olive oil and lime juice in medium bowl; add coleslaw, green onions, and cilantro and toss to coat. Season slaw to taste with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add tortillas in single layer. Spoon 1/4 of bean mixture onto half of each tortilla; cook 1 minute. Fold tacos in half. Cook until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Fill tacos with feta and slaw. Add hot sauce as desired.