Truth vs Being Nice

This is a theme that has been in my life since I was a child. Be truthful or be nice – with BE NICE being emphasized, most likely because I’m female. This has been and will ALWAYS be an issue for me. Like, why is it a choice? Isn’t being truthful the nicest thing you can do?

I get a lot of shit for pointing out the downside of things or pointing out magical thinking. I mean a LOT of shit.

But let me tell you something: if we’d had a friend or mentor who had been more honest with us about the fucked up pub lease/deal, maybe – just MAYBE – it would have kept us from losing as much as we did.

If I’m trying to help you by pointing out something you need to hear, it’s fine to not like it – who the fuck does?? – but do not attack me and turn it around to make it appear I’m just being mean. I promise, I WOULD NOT take the time to comment if I didn’t care. There was a study going around FB about why “mean” friends are the best. If by “mean” you mean that they tell you the truth, even if it’s not pleasant, then HELLS YES I AGREE.

I WANT my friends and especially mentors to speak the fuck up. If they had, we might not have lost as much as we did.

Why is it so fucking wrong to point out things that could cause another person harm or other problems?

We asked our mentors about the lease deal with the pub. They all said, “Yeah, yeah, six months free rent is great!” NOT ONE of them said, “Hey, what about build out funds?” NOT ONE. I’m not even counting that cunt realtor, I’m talking about our FRIENDS who own restaurants and had opened several places! I mean, really? Did they not get any build out money? Is it a white people thing to not ask for build out, so I only heard about it when I got schooled by a non-white person? I have no idea of WHY, but I know we didn’t get any indication that the lease was shit. Not until we had our consultant (non white person) come and and tell us to RUN AWAY from that dumpster fire of a lease.

Now, I’d already learned that white people pay WAY too much when building things. The white contractors were easily 2-3x more than the non-white contractors. I have no idea why this is, but it IS. I’ve got the quotes to prove it. So I can only assume that my white restaurant owner friends are just used to paying too much? I really don’t know what the deal is, other than what I learned while dealing with the pub bullshit, which is: white contractors are CRAY with the pricing.

Anyway, this post is about why people don’t want to tell you the truth. Random acquaintances, sure, they got no reason to burst your bubble, but in my mind, friends should always burst your bubble if you need it burst. If you’re my friend, then TELL ME when I am about to do something stupid/painful/ignorant/etc. Jesus, why would you NOT?

I call it The Stick; as in The Stick of Truth. And I’ll whack you with it. Without mercy. Why? Because if I care about you, I want what’s best for you and I want you to be your best, that’s why. Why would I NOT tell you when you need to hear the truth??? I expect the same from my friends. WHACK ME if I need it! Everyone gets caught up in their own bullshit at times – everyone! If just a few words of truth will snap them out of it, they why in the holy hell wouldn’t you SAY SOMETHING?

I will never understand it. NEVER. I will never understand the need for people to “be nice” when their friends are acting a fool.

We could have saved $70k if our friends had had balls enough to point out that our deal was shit. I am NOT blaming anyone other than ourselves, but someone questioning our logic would have gone a LONG WAY when we were freaking out trying to salvage an untenable deal.

SO, next time you have the urge to say something to a friend that might burst their bubble or snap them out of it, DO IT. You could be saving them $70k. Or a bad relationship. Or a bad job. Or even a bad life decision. THINK ABOUT IT.

Cheesy Curried Cauliflower Soup

This is an off the cuff soup that a friend requested the recipe for, so here ya go!

Cheesy Curried Cauliflower Soup
Cheesy Curried Cauliflower Soup


Cheesy Curried Cauliflower Soup

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 small carrot, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
3 Tbl butter
2 Tbl flour
1/2 tsp thyme leaves (fresh or dried)
1 tsp curry powder (more if you want)
pinch nutmeg (fresh grated if you have it and you should, whole nutmegs last FOREVER!)
S/P
1.5 cup chicken stock or water with one bouillon cube
1-2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup buttermilk (if you have it, it’s not that important)
1/2 cup heavy cream
(OR use about a cup of half n half OR all cream. Whatever, just get the consistency to where you want it.)

Method:
Bring a 4 qt pot of water to a boil, add 1 Tbl salt and the cauliflower. Cook until tender. Drain. In the same pot over med heat, put butter and celery, carrot, garlic and onion and cook until soft (do not brown, just sweat, adjust heat). Then add flour, thyme, curry and nutmeg and stir thoroughly. Add in cooked cauliflower and stock. Stir and let flour cook for a couple minutes. Kill the heat and puree with a stick blender (or use a regular blender). Stir in the cheese, buttermilk and cream. Adjust seasoning and consistency to your taste. Serve!

Easy Ways to Elevate Your Recipes

Fresh Herbs

People are always asking me about my recipes, how I make them, how I make everything taste so CHEFFY.

Well, it’s actually just a few little tricks that you’ll see in pro kitchens ALL THE TIME, but not as much in the home kitchen.
Fresh Herbs
Here is my short list of how to many any recipe taste more professional!

– Use fresh herbs. Most home cooks rely on dried herbs and the difference is pronounced when you simply use a fresh herb rather than a dried one. Both have places in cooking: the dried herbs are generally more intense and work best when put in early in the dish so they get some cook time; the fresh herbs are generally more bright and fresh and work best when added at the end of a dish, so as not to cook out the flavor. Even adding a little freshly chopped Italian flat leaf parsley can make a meh dish come alive. Try it!

– Use more citrus. I’ll qualify this one by saying that Americans don’t use enough citrus. Most non-European, warm places use citrus liberally, mainly because it’s grown there. Try adding some lemon or lime zest to your next veg dish. You can add zest midway through cooking, but don’t add juice until the cooking is done or it will turn bitter on you. You’ll even start to find places where you prefer one citrus over another when you start using it regularly.

– I’ve said this before, but it’s still an issue I see a lot: season your food as you cook it. Salt is not evil. Salt is necessary for life and necessary to bring out the flavor of foods. Even bakers put just a little salt in sweets to bring out the sweet! Season the parts of a dish as you cook it, and check for seasoning once the dish is combined and/or done. Also be aware that potatoes suck up salt and you’ll need a LOT more than you think! Also, refrigeration will change your seasoning levels, so if you’re making a cold dip, check the seasoning before you serve it.

– Toast your bread and char your tortillas! When serving bread with dips, always toast it. Same for sandwiches. It seems like a small thing, but it gives more texture. I always put tortillas over a gas burner to give a little char to them. When I say char, I don’t mean burn them, I mean, just little bits of color with a touch of actual char. It definitely matters to toast tortillas. Even if you put them in a pan, just get them cooked!

– Roast your veggies! Roasting is my #1 goto for vegetable prep. It concentrates the flavours and is another restaurant trick. I make roasted veg for many recipes that don’t call for it, such as caponata. My caponata is SO flavorful because I roast the veg rather than simply sauté in pan. If you’ve never had a roasted beet or brussels sprout, I encourage you to try them! Totally different veg than boiled, I assure you.

It’s been my experience that many MANY foods that people tell me they dislike is actually due to the preparation. I feed people things they think they hate OFTEN. I take it as a personal challenge to get people out of their preconceptions and comfort zones with food. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve served something (usually a vegetable) to someone who ate it all, then they tell me that they’ve never liked [insert veg], but now they do! So, go back to the veg you think you dislike and try it again prepared in a different way. You just might surprise yourself!

That’s it! These things will make a big difference in your recipes! Give them a go and feel free to let me know how it goes!

Vegetarian/Vegan Mediterranean Buffet

Mediterranean Buffet

Mediterranean Buffet
Vegetarian Mediterranean Buffet

Since the Mediterranean spread I did at the condos was such a hit, I thought I’d share some of the recipes that were especially good! The whole buffet had dolmathes, couscous, white bean hummus, tsatziki, cilantro pesto, feta, lemons, olives and pita. Here are the recipes for my vegan dolmas, tzatziki, vegan couscous and vegan white bean hummus (some are not as large as what I do for catering; they are geared for the home cook). ENJOY!
dolmas and tzatziki
Dolmathes and Tzatziki

Vegan Dolmathes
**this will make about 20 dolmas**
Grape leaves (jarred, in the pickle aisle or the ethnic aisle)
1 cup basmati rice
1 cup red lentils
2/3 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
4 cloves minced garlic
2 Tbl minced dill
2 Tbl minced mint
1 Tbl Cilantro (optional)
zest and juice of 2 large or 3 small lemons
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Olive oil
S/P

Bring 1.5 cups water to boil with 1 tsp salt. Add rice and cook for about 7-8 minutes. Add lentils and raisins and cook another 5-7 minutes. Rice should be done, but still have a little tooth. While rice/lentils are cooking, sauté onions and garlic with olive oil in a skillet to soften. When rice/lentils/raisins are done and all water is absorbed, add sautéed onions and garlic and the rest of the ingredients, combine. Add 1 Tbl olive oil to this and check seasoning.

While the filling is cooling, unjar and rinse the grape leaves. Carefully unwind and separate them and trim off any long stems. To fill, lay leave stem+vein side up, with stem towards you. Add in about a teaspoon of filling for smaller leaves, up to a tablespoon for large leaves. Compact the filling and roll like a cigar once, then fold in side leaves and continue rolling. You’ll get a feel for this after a few. Pile the rolled dolmas into a dish and top liberally with olive oil. Serve at room temperature. Serve with tzatziki if you’re not vegan.

Tzatziki
1 cup Greek yogurt (I use Fage full fat for best taste)
2 small Persian cucumbers, diced
1 Tbl garlic paste or 3 cloves very finely diced garlic
1 Tbl minced dill
1 Tbl minced mint
zest and juice of 1 large or 2 smaller lemons
S/P

Mix together, season to taste, let sit for at least a half hour for best taste.

roasted veg
Roasted Veg for Couscous

Israeli Couscous and Roasted Vegetables
1 cup Israeli couscous, prepared (do not use butter if vegan)
2-3 small golden beets, peeled, small (1/4-1/2″) dice
2 small eggplants (Chinese are good) or one large one, small dice with skin
2 small zucchini (or one large) small dice with skin
1 large red bell pepper, small dice
1 med red onion, small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
zest and juice of 2 small or one large lemon
2 Tbl minced parsley
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
S/P
Olive oil

Prepare Israeli couscous as directed. Preheat oven to 400F.

Put beets, eggplant, zucchini, pepper and onion on a baking sheet, coat liberally with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven for about 20 mins, or until the veg is soft and has some colour. Put couscous in a big bowl while still hot and add garlic, zest and juice of lemons, parsley and cinnamon. Add in roasted veg and combine. Add about a Tbl of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or room temp.

White bean hummus and sides for mediterranean buffet
Hummus and sides for mediterranean buffet

White Bean Hummus
2 cans great northern beans, one drained, one drained about half
3 Tbl tahini
1 Tbl garlic paste (or 3 cloves garlic, finely minced/pasted)
zest and juice of one large or two small lemons
2 tsp zatar spice blend (optional)
olive oil
S/P

Put beans, tahini, garlic paste, zest/juice of lemon and zatar in blender. Start blending and stream in about 2 Tbl olive oil. If it’s too tight, you can add a little water or extra lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Catering and Private Chef

Caprese Salad

I’ve been doing a catering gig for a condo building in Buckhead for about 2 months now. I do their Friday night cocktail parties. I do not make much money, but it’s a good gig and I’m getting some solid resume fodder from it.

tailgate catering spread
Cocktail Party catering

I also help a food truck guy with his food truck prep, which is a good paying gig – just a small one.

I am looking to add a couple more catering or food prep or even private chef clients to my roster, so if you or someone you know is looking for help, keep me in mind!

I’ve set up a section of the IndigoDragon site with my chef info and pix of my food – hop over there and check it out!

Caprese Salad
Caprese Salad

You can get ahold of me via email (misangelaspam at gmail dot com), FB or IG. I can’t put my phone number here, but if you have it you can call or text me! Thanks!!