Peruvian Chicken Wings with Green Sauce

Peruvian Chicken Wings | Cravings & Crumbs

The summer before our last year of college J and I took a summer study abroad trip to Argentina.  In between many choripanes and bondiolas from street vendors, we ate at some really good restaurants.  One that was recommended by our teacher was Chan Chan, a little peruvian restaurant in an alleyway that was supposed to be the best in the city.  Come to think of it, there were a few restaurants that he praised as being lo mas bueno, but Chan Chan really did deserve it.  We had never tried peruvian food before, but between the free cancha (a toasted corn snack) and bistec encebollado we fell in love with the cuisine.

Peruvian Chicken Wings | Cravings & Crumbs

One common peruvian dish that Chan Chan didn’t have was whole roasted or grilled chicken.  Maybe it was just my experience in Buenos Aires, but I only remember having chicken once or twice the whole month – restaurants had all beef and a little pork.  It wasn’t until a little peruvian restaurant opened up near our apartment last year that we discovered peruvian chicken and the cilantro jalapeño “green sauce” they served it with.  The chicken was flavored with paprika, cumin, and garlic, and was tender enough to pull apart into shreds to dip into the sauce that was cool and spicy. Read More

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Chile Braised Pork Tacos with Avocado Tomatillo Salsa

Chile Braised Pork Tacos | Cravings & Crumbs

It’s been fairly cold and rainy here in the Bay Area recently, which is exciting after years of predictions of el niño with barely a drop to show for it.  But with all this wet weather, I’ve been wanting dinners that are comforting, rich, and full of flavor.  These chile braised pork tacos hit the spot perfectly last friday.  Armed with my pressure cooker and a few hours before a starving boyfriend barged through the front door i attempted to recreate a recipe I had found years ago on the internet that has since been removed.  A few different types of chiles, onion and garlic, and some country style ribs from the freezer and an hour or so later I had an incredibly tender, full flavored taco filling.

Chile Braised Pork Tacos | Cravings & Crumbs

The trio of chiles do most of the work here, flavor-wise.  The chipotles are smokey and spicy, the anchos have a deep, complex sweetness, and the guajillos bring color, body  and a brighter sweetness.  Once the pork is shredded the sauce clings to every morsel, keeping the meat super juicy.  Yes, you definitely want to eat these tacos over a plate.  To add freshness I topped them with an avocado tomatillo salsa and a bit of shredded cabbage for crunch.  Everything in the salsa is raw, keeping the flavor very light.  Just chop the ingredients, dump them in a blender, and they’re good to go. Read More

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Spiced Pita Burgers with Garlic Yogurt Sauce

Spiced Pita Burgers

Ah, finally, something on this blog that can actually be called dinner…

These pita burgers are absolutely delicious and a perfectly unambitious weeknight dinner with flavor that will make people think you worked hard.  With essentially 4 steps (mix the meat, mix the sauce, stuff the pitas, and cook) you can pull this one off in about 40 minutes or less if you play your cards right. The best part, though?  You can make these ahead through any step and save them for later.  You can mix the meat and/or the sauce the night before and stuff and cook when you get home from work the next day.  These even reheat really well in the toaster oven so you could make the whole recipe ahead and heat them up later. Read More

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One-Bowl Cardamom Coffee Cake

Cardamom Coffee Cake

A few weeks ago someone in my office brought in homemade cookies and quietly laid them out with a small sign, “Holiday Snickerdoodles”.  Imagine my surprise when I took a bite and they weren’t any ordinary snickerdoodle, but cardamom and currant snickerdoodles!  What a pleasant turn the morning was taking and I hadn’t even finished my coffee yet.  They looked so unassuming on a paper plate, covered up with a paper towel – they weren’t winning any points for presentation, but these cookies spoke for themselves with the first bite.  They were so good they didn’t make it to the next day, but I couldn’t get them out of my mind. Read More

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Easy Rosemary Focaccia

There’s really nothing like a warm loaf of bread fresh out of the oven.  Once the smell of this focaccia baking fills the kitchen, no one can resist taking a bite of the warm, tender bread with an olive-oil crisped bottom.  While professional bakeries can make some truly amazing loaves using starters that have been kept going for years and steam injected ovens, there are some breads that are just made for home bakers.  Focaccia is one of the first breads I baked by myself and continues to be a favorite of mine.  

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2016 Cooking Reflections and Goals for the New Year

Mt. Tamalpais

It’s December 31, 2016 and I’m laying on the couch, surfing the internet for recipes as I always do and, for once, reflecting back on the year.  Specifically, I’m reflecting on my cooking and how it has changed over the years.  J recently mentioned to me that he really liked how we ate in college, which is probably not something you hear very often, but by the time we lived together I was cooking dinner at least 5 times a week.  From what I can remember we ate a lot of roasted chicken and vegetables, mexican comfort food learned from his mom, and homemade pizza.  That’s also the year we visited my cousin in Portland and came home obsessed with Pok Pok.  Once I got the cookbook we were trying different thai recipes every week.  

2015 was a year of cooking for people I love.  We were living with J’s parents then and their house is one that everyone in the family ends up congregating at so there were a lot of sunday night carne asadas and impromptu parties to cook for.  I can’t remember much what we cooked that year, but some highlights I remember were fish tacos, barbecue ribs and finding appreciation for chicharrones and tripas, but please still keep the menudo away from me…I’m not there yet.

This year I feel like I spent most of the year rushed, constantly trying to figure out what we would have for dinner and ending up going to the grocery store with little idea.  That’s not to say I didn’t cook and eat a lot of good food, I just wasn’t as focused as I wish I had been.  This year I came to love indian, peruvian, and a lot of seafood I never thought I would like.  I also fell out of love with a lot of my favorite go-to foods – steak, roast chicken, hamburgers and brussels sprouts.  So here I am, on the verge of a new year, craving new flavors that I haven’t identified yet, but here’s my plan to get there:

Slow down.  If you’re trying to do too many things, you’re probably not doing any of them very well.

Plan ahead.  The more you plan what you want to eat, the easier it will be to accomplish it.  The less time you’re frantically trying to figure out what to cook, the more time you can be cooking, focusing and enjoying the moment.

Explore new tastes.  If you see a combination of ingredients you haven’t thought of before, just try it.  Try recipes using new spices.  Alternatively, cook some of the recipes that have been sitting on your list for too long (possibly years).

Fight the paralysis of choice.  Instead of scrolling through Pinterest for hours, scroll for 30 seconds, pick something and stick with it.  It will be much simpler in the long run.

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