Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Raddish Review- Pad Thai

Pad Thai is one of my favorite Thai dishes, so I was excited when it was included in their Thailand box. This rendition was marked by a strong fresh, cilantro flavor, which I enjoyed but found to be too much since there was little savory flavor to balance it out. The recipe included soy sauce, brown sugar, and chopped peanuts as the only savory components, and those were drowned out by the bright and sour flavors of the green onions, limes, and cilantro. It was pretty good, but not to the standard I typically hold to Raddish recipes. If I make this one again I will add in some spice and some umami flavor!

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Raddish Review- Tapas

Tapas are a traditional Spanish dish that I took a stab at (using the Raddish recipe supplied in their box) a few days ago. They are typically served in between meals, but I cooked three of them for a snacky lunch.
Tapas probably originated in the 18th century, as “lids” of bread and meat to cover drinks at bars. The saltiness of these toppings also helped the bartenders sell drinks. Now, this style of snack has transitioned into a plethora of savory appetizers. Some of these include Spanish Olives, Croquetas, Gambas al ajillo, and Albondigas. I made a selection of Bacon Wrapped Dates, Patatas Bravas, and Pan con Tomate.
The first dish I cooked was the bacon wrapped dates. They were an amazing blend of rich sweetness, reminiscent of brown sugar or molasses, and savory crisp bacon. However, the date-to-bacon ratio was a bit off; when I make this treat again I will halve the dates to keep the candied flavor from being cloying.
The Patatas Bravas were an easy appetizer of baked fingerling potatoes served with a simple smoked paprika sauce. The potatoes are cooked with a crispy skin on the outside and a soft, pillowy mash on the inside. The rich smoked paprika set off the milder flavor of the potato, and was accented with the tomato paste in the sauce.
Lastly, the Pan con Tomate was another simple appetizer- toasted baguette with grated tomato on top. I gave up on the grater after a while, and just finely chopped my tomato. The lighter flavors of this dish helped to balance out the stronger ones of the other two.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Eat 2 Explore Review- Shrimp Moqueca with Bell Pepper, Spinach, and Rice

This aptly named dish was the last recipe in our eat 2 explore box- Shrimp Moqueca with Bell Pepper, Spinach, and Rice. It is a one-skillet, one-pot, and one-cutting board operation made out of the aforementioned ingredients, plus a few finishing touches to make it pop. Small amounts of vinegar and lemon juice are added, and their burst of acidity makes the umami and earthy vegetable flavors stand out. My brother's astute observation- “I like how there’s a little bit of kick to it.”

The dish is constructed similarly to a soup, with the ingredients being layered on top of each other according to their cooking time needs, and a broth building around everything, all the juices combining. I decided not to drain my diced tomatoes, which made more broth and added even more tang and acidity. The base of the broth was coconut milk, made from a mix that came in the eat 2 explore box. It added a bit of richness and helped to tie everything together.

Unfortunately, I was paying too much attention to building the Shrimp Moqueca and slightly burned the rice it was served on, but fortunately for me the shrimp was good enough to mostly override that mistake.

I loved the layering of flavors and textures in this adaptable recipe! It featured all sorts of veggies without being overridingly herbivorous, and was a fun and easy dish.

Note: Attached is a picture of my little brother with his unique shrimp-eating utensil (an ice cream scoop!).

Another note: All thoughts and opinions in all the eat 2 explore reviews are my own.

Last note: Thank you so much for reading!

Friday, April 5, 2019

Eat 2 Explore Review- Feijoada with Rice and Collard Greens

The second Eat 2 Explore meal from their Brazil box that I cooked was the Feijoada with rice and collard greens. Although it at its roots it is a very simple dish, this recipe layered umami flavors on top of each other to make a savory, rich, balanced flavor profile. The feijoada is a mixture of smoky bacon, chorizo adding depth and a bit of spice, onion for its bright flavor, and chicken to tie it all together and add substance. Beans are added after the meats cook, bringing a creamy texture and earthy flavor. Then the whole thick, rich, savory mixture is spooned beside a warm, fluffy mound of rice. Wilted kale and sliced oranges accompany them on the plate. A mixture of farofa, a crumbly toasted flour mix, is sprinkled liberally over the feijoada to bring in a tad of crunch. 
This was a dish with a remarkably balanced flavor profile, especially for featuring so many savory meats. The orange served on the side helped to mellow the savory, adding a bright burst of acid. The kale also complemented the rich flavor. I will definitely make this dish again!

Monday, April 1, 2019

Eat 2 Explore Review- Pasteis with Tomato Watermelon Salad

I am going to be doing a review on the new recipe box, “Eat 2 Explore”, over the next few days. Each box explores foods from a different country, and the box I am reviewing centers around Brazilian cuisine! They provide recipes and gadgets in their box, along with spice mixes for your recipes and information on the country that you are cooking from. The box is very cute as well- with a world map and fun illustrations.

The first recipe I cooked was Pasteis with Tomato Watermelon Salad. A pastel (singular of pasteis) is the Brazilian spin on a savory pastry, made using flaky puff pastry dough. The filling is made of ground beef and onion, along with tomato paste and lime juice- but the thing that makes this basic filling special is the spices that are added. The “Pastel Mix” that came in the box was made of a mix of predominantly cumin and cinnamon. I was surprised at adding cinnamon to beef, but the result was a warm, hearty slightly sweet flavor that was perfect with the flaky pastry. It was a sophisticated comfort food- hearty, aromatic, with depth of flavor in the balance of savory, with notes of mellow sweetness throughout.

The tomato watermelon salad was a fun, simple to make, but remarkably complex to eat dish. It was made from bite sized pieces of watermelon and tomato, then topped with a balsamic vinegar glaze- olive oil, salt, pepper, honey, and vinegar. The acidic tomato and vinegar combined with the light, fresh watermelon and the indulgently sweet honey made for very multi-dimensional flavor in every bite. Although the flavors contrasted, similar to opposite colors on a color wheel, they were beautiful paired together.

The one thing I would have changed about this recipe is that the pastry gadget was a bit to small and not sturdy enough for the hearty pasteis, but that was offset by the wonderful recipe.