Wednesday, November 10, 2010

not-at-all vegetarian roast veggie dinner

Monday: Roasted Cauliflower with Bacon & Garlic; roasted spicy sweet potatoes

This cauliflower recipe would be equally good with broccoli, I think, and with double the garlic. I cooked it at 425F instead of 375F because I wanted a hotter oven for the sweet potatoes.

I mixed a bunch of small sweet potatoes (quartered lengthwise) with 2 tsp of Penzey's Chili9000 and 2 tsp kosher salt, plus enough oil to moisten everything. I roasted them in a single layer for 15 minutes (if they were larger, I would do 20 minutes instead) and then flipped them and sprinkled them with a bit of brown sugar and a little more salt. (This is the point where I put the baking sheet with the cauliflower into the oven.) Then I roasted for an additional 20 minutes.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

more laziness (now in dinner form)

Victor's been working through dinner a lot these days. (One day, his game will ship, and possibly I'll get to see my husband again. Oh happy day!) Usually I just make dinner and he takes leftovers to work for lunch the next day (his company generally provides them with dinner if there are many people around late enough for it).

It's not terribly fun, though, so sometimes I just have a snack-ish thing for dinner instead. Tonight it was crackers, cheese, and branston pickle. And since I'm making a renewed effort to keep track, last night I revisited the Sichuan Green Beans I made a while back. I did add more pepper, and it was good.

Wednesday: Sichuan Green Beans; brown rice
Thursday: snacks-for-dinner (cheddar, pickles, and crackers)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I have a strong suspicion that this whole "blog" thing would be more useful if I were less lazy. Oh well.

Monday: Sweet-and-Sour Lentils; whole-wheat couscous

Sometimes when I revisit an old recipe, one I used to make frequently, it's great and I wonder why I ever stopped making it. And then there are recipes that I wonder how the hell I ever thought it was worth my time to either make or eat. This one falls somewhere in between, although as I was reading it over to type up for this post*, I noticed that the header says "if you would like the dish sweeter, add a small amount of brown sugar or honey." Why, yes, I would like it sweeter. D'oh. So maybe I'll make it again, add some sweetener, and see if I can move the recipe firmly into the first camp.

Sweet-and-Sour Lentils
adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites

  • 1 1/2 C brown lentils, rinsed
  • 2 C apple juice
  • 1" piece ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 C water
  • 1 C chopped onions
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated or minced
  • 1 C diced carrots
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 can crushed pineapple
  • 1/8 C brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • chopped scallions (garnish)
Combine lentils, juice, ginger, and water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer (uncovered) 30-40 minutes. Keep an eye on them near the end, and add some of the excess pineapple juice if they seem to be getting too dry.

Meanwhile, saute onions, garlic, and carrots in oil over medium-high heat until onions begin to soften (~5 minutes). Add pepper, squash, tomatoes, pineapple, and brown sugar. Cover and cook on low for another 10 minutes until just tender. Stir in soy sauce and vinegar. Garnish with scallions and serve.
serves 4-6





*I have a small, highly curmudgeonly pet-peeve about the word "blog." Seasonal Menus is my blog, the individual entries are "posts" or "blog posts," not "blogs." I know it's standard usage at this point, but I feel strongly on this issue. At least, strongly enough that I had to get it off my chest here, in this tiny footnote.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

putting the "Sichuan" in the green beans

We made a Cook's Illustrated version of Sichuan green beans this evening; for some reason, their Asian recipes always eliminate what they call the "foreign ingredients." (I suspect that anyone who's interested enough in cooking to attempt their recipes is more than capable of going to Penzey's and the asian section of the grocery store.) Anyway, I didn't change much in the recipe other than to replace the things that they used to replace Asian ingredients.

One of the substitutions I made was to use szechuan peppercorns instead of the called-for ground white pepper; I wasn't sure how much to use, however, and I think I didn't add enough. Next time - more pepper! The other substitution was that I used mirin instead of sherry, but I just did a straight-forward replacement there. It was great, and we're both looking forward to tweak it a bit in the future.

Sichuan Green Beans with Pork
adapted from Cook's Illustrated

  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp mirin
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp (or so) szechuan peppercorns, freshly ground
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (either use very spicy ones next time, or increase the amount to 1/2 tsp)
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 lb ground pork (they suggest substituting 4 oz shiitake mushrooms to make it vegetarian; I think this would be a great addition in general)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp ginger, minced or grated
  • 3 scallions, sliced thinly
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
To make the sauce, whisk together the soy sauce through dry mustard.

Heat the oil in a large skilled over high heat. Add the beans and cook until tender with slightly shriveled and blackened skins (6-9 minutes). Transfer to a large bowl.

Reduce heat to medium-high and add the pork. Cook, breaking up the pork, until no pink remains. Add the garlic and ginger and continue stirring for another 30 seconds or so. Add the beans and the sauce (stirring if it looks like it started to separate) and cook until the sauce looks thickened a bit (just another few seconds). Remove from heat; add the scallions and sesame oil. Give it a final stir, and serve.
serves 2 as an entree

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Early Fall Menu (week of Sept 12)

Sunday: roast salmon with fennel & tomatoes
Monday: chicken puttanesca
Tuesday: cook's holiday
Wednesday: pork with pan-roasted tomatoes
Thursday: espinacas con garbanzosFriday: peanut-butter and banana smoothies
Saturday
: Tolkien feast dinner (bread; cold meats; cheese; chanterelles with bacon; blackberry tart)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Late Summer Menu (Week of Aug 29)

I've gotten so terrible about updating these! Here's one from a few weeks back that I apparently forgot to publish... oops!

Sunday
: Salmon Roasted in Butter; Tomato, Basil, and Fresh Mozzarella Salad; Blueberries
Monday: slow-cooked ginger salmon; broccoli with crispy garlic & ginger; brown rice
Tuesday: cook's holiday
Wednesday: roasted chicken; oven-roasted carrots & potatoes
Thursday: Savory Bread Pudding with Tomatoes and HerbsFriday: out
Saturday
: leftovers

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

blackberry-white nectarine jam

A few weeks ago, we went blackberry picking with a friend. We didn't have a tremendous amount of time, so our berry haul was slightly small, but the berries were at the perfect height of ripeness. I had planned to make Blackberry-Apricot Jam, but we were a little past apricot season here. There were some lovely white nectarines, though, so I used them instead. I also halved the recipe to accommodate my slightly smaller quantity of berries.

Using a food-mill (this is the one I got) to make the blackberry puree was surprisingly fast and easy. I am basically in love with the food mill now, and pretty much want to use it for everything.

blackberry-white nectarine jam

  • 2 C nectarine puree
  • 2 C blackberry pulp
  • 2 C sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 packet liquid pectin (half a box)
In a large saucepan, combine fruit and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, watching and stirring to avoid boiling over. Add cinnamon and lemon zest/juice and stir some more. After the mixture begins to thicken (perhaps 5-10 minutes longer), add the pectin and allow to boild vigorously for at least five more minutes.

Process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.
yield: 5 half-pint jars

Sunday, September 12, 2010

the best applesauce ever

When Victor and I got married, one of our friends (an extremely eccentric friend...) gave us some frozen applesauce as a wedding gift. It was his mom's homemade applesauce, so bonus points for that, but it was also two years old. We didn't eat it, and we completely didn't understand why he thought it was a reasonable gift. I made some applesauce tonight that almost makes me understand why he felt he was giving us something of such great value.

The "recipe" here is beyond simple and imprecise; I think the important things are getting really excellent apples and using a food mill. We used freshly-picked Gravensteins and my brand-new Oxo food mill (purchased for making a jam that I'll write about very soon). This combination made by far the best applesauce I've ever made or eaten (if I do say so myself). I'm not quite ready to gift it to someone for their wedding, but I no longer think that present was completely insane, either.

Simple Microwave Applesauce
  • some apples (I had about 2 lbs Gravensteins), quartered and cored (NOT peeled)
  • a splash of apple cider vinegar
  • a splash of water
  • a sprinkle of cinnamon (I actually used some pumpkin pie spice mix I had sitting around)
  • a sprinkle of sugar
Combine all ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and cook on HIGH for 10 minutes, or until very mushy. Run through a food mill. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

countdown to labor day

I made Marisa's Sweet/Spicy Cucumber Pepper Relish the other day. It's great - as soon as I tried some, I began to imagine glopping it atop a grilled Hebrew National dog - *drool*. (I love all things sweet and vinegary, and believe there should be nearly as much relish as hotdog. These jars won't last long around here!) No changes to the recipe - it is perfect as-is!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Jello Night!

A few weeks ago, my knitting group (which meets at the fantastic Fiber Gallery on Tuesday evenings) had a Jello themed potluck. We were inspired by this sort of vintage recipe: http://www.lileks.com/institute/gallery/knox/4.html. Instead of doing something disturbingly glistening, though, I decided to go in another direction. In the comments for this recipe, someone complained that the panna cotta tasted like "milky jello" and another commenter pointed out that panna cotta is milky jello.

Confident that this met our theme, I played around with several recipes and came up with a Lemon-Lavender Panna Cotta. (I'm on something of a lemon-lavender binge at present.) It would be delicious with blueberry sauce, but I guessed (correctly, as it turned out) that there would be lots of other sweet creations to pair it with. (If you happen to have some, it went pretty well with Blueberry Jello Surprise.)

Lemon-Lavender Panna Cotta

  • 4 C whole milk, divided
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp unflavored gelatin
  • 1 Tbsp dried culinary lavender buds
  • 2 Tbsp grated organic lemon zest
  • 3/4 C sugar
Sprinkle gelatin over 1 C of the milk in a small saucepan. Put the lavender in a cheesecloth pouch or tea ball. Let the milk & gelatin stand for 10 minutes.

Add the lavender and lemon zest and gently heat over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, whisking until gelatin dissolves. Keep stirring and increase heat to medium. Add the sugar and whisk some more, until the sugar dissolves.

Take off the heat and remove the lavender pouch, squeezing a bit to get more liquid out. Add the remaining 3 C milk and give the mixture one last good stir.

For an elegant presentation, pour into 8 6-oz ramekins and allow to chill at least 4 hours. When the mixture is completely set and chilled, invert each panna cotta onto a dessert plate. Pour berry sauce over the panna cotta, if desired. (For a potluck, it's much easier to just pour the hot mixture into a pretty serving bowl and scoop it out of there to serve after chilling.)
serves 6-8

Sunday, August 29, 2010

post-farmers' market dinner

Monday: Salmon Roasted in Butter; Tomato, Basil, and Fresh Mozzarella Salad; Blueberries

Wow, it's been a looooong time since I've posted anything. I guess summer is all about food that's so simple I don't need to write it down? Anyway, I have all kinds of tasty food stuff planned for the week (including some canning), and I have a feeling that our holiday weekend will include some pie-makin'.

We had quite the haul from the farmers' market, including an extra-large salmon fillet. We had planned to have salmon once this week (tomorrow), but had so much fish that we made a simple recipe with it (from Mark Bittman's Fish) in addition to a glorious late-summer tomato salad. We also scored some delicious blueberries from Sidhu Farms (which has consistently had the best blueberries at the market, IMO). The salad feels so simple that it's hardly worth writing down, but here 'tis:

Tomato, Basil, and Fresh Mozzarella Salad

  • 1 large or two small, very ripe tomatoes, sliced into moderately thin wedges
  • 2 oz fresh mozzarella (ours was from Golden Glen), sliced
  • 1 handful fresh basil, chopped or snipped into small pieces
  • glug olive oil
  • generous drizzle balsamic vinegar
  • salt & pepper, to taste
Arrange the first three ingredients however appeals to your sense of food style on a plate. Drizzle with olive oil & balsamic; sprinkle with salt & freshly ground pepper.
serves 2 as a side

Thursday, July 8, 2010

lemon cookies with lavender icing

I've had an image in my mind of a very specific cookie. I think it had its origin in the lovely lemon crunch cookies at Sugar and was likely also inspired by the many desserts they have there that use lavender (sometimes paired with lemon, even). But what I wanted was more specific even than that: I wanted a pale yellow lemon-flavored sugar cookie with a light lavender frosting (in my mind, it was a delicate lilac color).

Finally last weekend I decided that I just had to have that cookie, and set about making one. I started with a variation of the Fannie Farmer sugar cookie recipe, because it had an egg (not all sugar cookies do) and I was pretty sure that was part of the texture of the cookie I craved:

Lemon Sugar Cookies
adapted from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook

  • 1 stick butter, softened (1/4 lb)
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp lemon extract
  • grated zest from an organic lemon
  • 1 Tbsp milk
  • 1 1/4 C flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
Preheat the oven to 350F. Cream the butter, then add the sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg, flavorings, zest, and milk. Beat until uniformly mixed. In another bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add to the dough and blend well. Arrange by spoonfuls on cookie sheets, 1" or 1 1/2" apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned
yield: ~40 cookies


While the cookies cooled, I hunted up a recipe for lavender frosting (I used skim milk, but otherwise followed the recipe). I added a tiny bit of food coloring to get the look I was going for. Because I can't resist adding salt to things, I made a few with a sprinkling of pink Hawaiian salt on top. (The salt covered cookies were good, IMO, but not really what I was trying to make.)

Overall, it was a success - I've only made cookies a few times, so I was surprised that they turned out at all, much less that they were tasty. They weren't quite the cookies I'd been imagining (possibly because I didn't have lemon extract and subbed in fiori di sicilia instead), but they were pretty darn close.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Early Summer Menu II (week of June 27)

Sunday: loads-of-veggies pilaf (Vegetarian Suppers)
Monday: slow-cooked ginger salmon; snap peas; brown rice
Tuesday: cook's holiday
Wednesday: roasted chicken; braised kale with bacon; roasted carrots
Thursday: outFriday: hoisin pork and "Asian" slaw (with thinly sliced radishes); ice-cream(!)
Saturday: lemongrass soup with tofu & rice noodles (Bittman)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Early Summer Menu (week of June 20)

Sunday: Baked Eggs over Croutons; green salad
Monday: grilled veggie sausages & grilled green garlic; strawberry-rhubarb crumble
Tuesday: cook's holiday
Wednesday: roasted chicken; baked sweet potatoes; braised kale
Thursday: stir-fried pork, broccoli, and green garlic; brown rice
Friday: skillet-seared tofu; oven-roasted asparagus (topped with miso sauce from tofu); brown rice
Saturday: out

Friday, June 25, 2010

strawberry extravaganza


As I so often do, I ended up going a little overboard with the canning this weekend. This month's can jam is everything berries, and I'm thinking I should pick just one of the following recipes for my entry... it's so hard to decide, though! They all turned out wonderfully, but I think that the "oven-roasted strawberry jam with rosemary" is my favorite.

Two weeks ago, we went to our usual Sunday market, sampled strawberries from all the organic vendors, and found only one place with truly flavorful ones. (It's been so wet here that the berries are a little watery, I think.) Typically, they were also the most expensive strawberries at the market. I asked if they had any seconds, and it turns out that they bring all their seconds to the Saturday market and sell them by the bucket. With no idea what size that bucket was, we tentatively decided to go to the Saturday market the following weekend.

Here is what we ended up with on Saturday:



It wasn't labeled (other than with price - it was $20), and I neglected to weigh it or otherwise figure out precisely how much was in that big bucket. It took us about 3 hours to hull and quarter all the berries, enough to make 20 half-pint jars of jam, plus however many berries we ended up eating as we worked.

We spontaneously decided to break in our new pasta maker, so partway through the hulling process, Aaron came over and he and Victor made linguine:
(why didn't we cover the chairs? no idea)

Meanwhile, I divided the strawberries for different recipes and let them macerate. We ended up with:
For all but the oven-roasted jam, I used some Pomona's Pectin to thicken the liquid slightly. It still has a "European-style" lightly-gelled set, but I didn't need to fuss with it as much to get there. Because I hadn't originally intended to use the pectin, I ended up mixing the pectin power with just a few tablespoons of sugar and blending that in for the last few minutes of boiling. In a few cases that led to some clumping, so I think that in the future I'll try harder to remember to add it when I add the bulk of the sugar (prior to letting the strawberries macerate).

Lazy Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam
adapted from Saving the Season

My adaptations mostly had to do with forgetting to keep the rhubarb and strawberries separated during the maceration (hence the "lazy" in the recipe title).

  • 1 lb rhubarb, sliced
  • 1.5 lb strawberries, hulled and quartered lenthwise
  • 2 C sugar (if using Pomona's Pectin, mix with 2 tsp pectin powder)
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • optional: 2 Tbsp Kirschwasser
  • optional: 2 tsp calcium water (only if you're using Pomona's Pectin - if you are, this comes with the pectin powder)
Toss prepared rhubarb and strawberries with sugar, zest, and juice. Allow to macerate at least an hour (mine sat for maybe 5 hours - overnight would be fine, too).

In a large sauce pan, cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring to prevent scorching. If you want a little fruity kick, add the Kirschwasser, too. (If you're using Pomona's Pectin, add the calcium water early in the cooking process.) During the last 2-3 minutes of cooking, stir with a whisk to break up the fruit into a sauce, if desired.

Ladle into hot prepared jars, seal, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
yield: 5 8-oz jars




Oven-Roasted Strawberry Jam with Rosemary
adapted from Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving

  • 8 C strawberries, hulled and quartered lengthwise
  • 4 C sugar
  • 1/4 C lemon juice
  • 4 sprigs clean fresh rosemary
Combine berries and sugar and allow to macerate, two hours (up to a day or so). Stir to mix in the sugar occasionally.

In a large saucepan, add lemon juice and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat a simmer, and continue cooking for 10 minutes.

Pour into two 13" x 9" pans, add two sprigs rosemary to each pan, and bake in a warm oven for 10-12 hours. (The directions say to use a 150F oven - the lowest my oven will do is 170F, so that's what I used. It worked fine. If using a convection oven, apparently the process only takes 2-4 hours.) Stir occasionally. Keep baking until the mixture has thickened and will form a gel.

Ladle into hot jars, seal, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
yield: 4 8-oz jars

Thursday, June 17, 2010

perfect kale

Wednesday: roasted chicken; sweet potato spears; "braised" kale

The Zuni Cafe roast chicken recipe is pretty much the only one I use. Once in a while I'll dally with another technique for roasting the bird, but I always come back to this. It is especially good if you have time to let the chicken rest for three days before cooking, though two or even one day of rest will still give you a delicious dinner.

I don't bother with the herbs - I don't think their flavor gets into any of the meat that's not in direct contact with them. I also have decided that the pan drippings are put to better use in a gravy than in the bread salad she suggests (I say this even after having had the chicken/bread salad at Zuni in SF... it's good, but not worth giving up gravy for). I usually add some stock to the pan after I take the chicken out, but this time I made the gravy with some white wine we had in the fridge - definitely a tasty addition.

Last night we also roasted some sweet potatoes while the chicken cooked - they were tossed with olive oil/salt/pepper. I think I ended up having them in the oven for about half the chicken's cooking time. I'd also planned to make Michael Ruhlman's braised kale, but as I started cooking I realised two things: I didn't have most of the ingredients, and my 475F oven was likely too hot. What I came up with was probably the best kale I've ever eaten, though, so it all worked out in the end.

Kale with Guanciale
inspired by Michael Ruhlman's braised kale

  • hunk of guanciale, diced
  • two large bunches kale, cleaned and cut into strips (don't dry it - you want the residual water clinging to the leaves)
  • red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • glug or two sherry vinegar
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
In a large pan over medium-low heat, cook the guanciale until the fat is mostly rendered and the meat is beginning to crisp. Add the kale and turn the heat up to medium. Cook, stirring frequently, until it has started to wilt. Add a pinch or two of salt, a grind or two of pepper, and the red pepper flakes. Cover, and cook over medium-low heat for 15-30 minutes (honestly, I have no idea how long it was cooking for... until it looked done, I guess). When it's mostly cooked, add the honey and sherry. Cook off the liquid, taste, and add more salt or pepper as needed.
makes 3-4 servings

Sunday, June 13, 2010

quick & easy Vietnamese chicken

I went on a trip to the recently-relocated Elliot Bay bookstore a few weeks ago. I'm resisting buying more fiction, which I can get from the library, and instead focusing on things I'll reference again and again (like cookbooks!). The "bargain" section there was very well stocked, and I ended up buying three new books.

Quick & Easy Vietnamese
is a book I've been meaning to get for a while, and so far it's been great. The first recipe I made from there - Lemongrass Chicken - was perfect & easy. The second - Chicken Stir-fried with Fresh Ginger - I loved but Victor pretty much hated. He felt like it had a "mentholated" flavor somehow; I think it must have been ginger overload. I'm looking forward to cooking more with it, since Vietnamese is mostly what we get when we go out to eat, and this book truly does make it simple. Yay!

Late Spring (week of June 6)

Sunday: Ricotta Omelet (Vegetarian Suppers); steamed asparagus spears
Monday: Chicken & Ginger Stir-fry; garlicky chard
Tuesday: cook's holiday
Wednesday: out
Thursday: left-overs
Friday: out
Saturday: picnic in the park

Monday, June 7, 2010

Spring II (week of May 30)

Sunday: spicy asparagus soup; sweet potato, asparagus, and parmesan bread pudding; cherry crumble
Monday: hot dogs; peanut-radish slaw; baked Pope's beans; sliced pickled shallots
Tuesday: cook's holiday
Wednesday: Memorial Day leftovers; quinoa pudding
Thursday: more leftovers
Friday: lemongrass chicken; jasmine rice
Saturday: mashed potatoes and turnips with sauteed onions and greens (Vegetarian Suppers); improvised spicy asparagus risotto (using leftovers from Sunday)

Friday, June 4, 2010

pickles: an exercise in delayed gratification

Although I just missed the deadline for the asparagus portion of May's Can Jam, I did actually pickle a few jars. Of course, since they're still pickling, I have no idea how they taste. They sure do look pretty, though. (If the sun comes out in western WA again, I will take some photos.)

"Herbed Asparagus Pickles," adapted from The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving: the only changes I made were that I used 12 oz jars, so the recipe only made 3 jars' worth of pickles and that I substituted baby Walla Walla onions for the shallots called for in the recipe.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

post boot-camp breakfast

I recently signed up for a "boot camp"-style fitness class at the local Y. It meets very early in the morning, so I don't eat much of anything beforehand (I just have a glass of milk). I'm hungry when I get back, but (so far at least) I mostly just want to fall down somewhere and not move for a while. This is a simple little meal that I can just sit down and eat: whole-wheat couscous cooked in orange juice (heat juice in microwave for about 2 minutes, add couscous, and let sit for 5 minutes). I add some dried cranberries and walnuts and top it off with some drained yogurt (which is similar to store-bought Greek yogurt, I think). With a sprinkle of cinnamon on top, it's quick, tasty, and nourishing.

Monday, May 31, 2010

memorial day 2010

Monday: hot dogs; peanut-radish slaw; baked Pope's beans; sliced pickled shallots

The sun finally peeked out a big Monday afternoon, just in time for us to grill some hot dogs (actually called "country dogs" by the farm that sells them at the market). I also made some slaw - I followed the recipe fairly closely, but I think some cilantro would be a good addition. We didn't have any, though, and it was still great.

I warmed up the kitchen a little bit by making baked beans based on my favorite lentil recipe. Although I didn't add any this time, I do frequently add some crisped bacon to this dish (just 2 strips).

"Barbecue" Baked Beans
adapted from Cooking Light

  • 4 cups cooked beans (reserve 1 C or so of the cooking liquid)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup prepared mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine beans and diced onion in a baking dish. In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Pour the ketchup mixture over the bean mixture, stirring to combine.

Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 1 hour. If the beans are getting a little too dry, add some of the reserved cooking liquid.

serves 6-8


whew

Sunday: spicy asparagus soup; sweet potato, asparagus, and parmesan bread pudding; cherry crumble

This was supposed to be a simple supper that kind of got out of control. My plan was to modify this recipe to use sweet potatoes and asparagus. We've been buying sweet potatoes at the farmer's market (this was the first year they were available); they are by far the most flavorful sweet potatoes I've ever eaten. (Note to self: next time I'm living somewhere with real garden space, grow sweet potatoes!!) And of course asparagus is way more spring-like than butternut squash is.

I roasted the sweet potatoes and then briefly sauted the asparagus before adding it to the pudding. (I was just using up some of the bread-based odds-and-ends from our freezer.) I bought too much asparagus, though, and so I had lots of asparagus (asparagi? asparaguses'?) ends AND more tips than I needed. I've been thinking of making asparagus broth, so I figured I'd give it a try and use the results as the base of a creamed asparagus soup.

I took the ends and simmered them in water to cover with a parmesan rind. After about 40 minutes, I strained out the solids. I sauteed some spring onions and some red pepper flakes in a little olive oil and then added the extra asparagus, which I cooked (lid on) for another 3-4 minutes. I added it back into the warm stock and simmered it all together for another 4 or 5 minutes. Then I pureed it (with an immersion blender). It was spicy, but, with apologies to Eugenia Bone, I didn't love the stock - maybe because I didn't follow her method. Better than Bouillon (chicken-flavored) to the rescue! With that added bit of salt and flavor, the soup was delicious. I think if I had started out simmering the asparagus stalks in chicken stock, that might also have done the trick.

This was the first week that we had cherries at the farmer's market. We just bought a few handfuls, so for dessert we pitted them and improvised a crumble, too.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Mid-Spring II (week of May 23)

Sunday: slow-cooker pork shoulder with barbecue sauce; pita (Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day)
Monday: eggs baked on a bed of croutons and mushrooms (Vegetarian Suppers)
Tuesday: cook's holiday
Wednesday: apricot & chickpea salad (Urban Pantry); left-over pita
Thursday: left-overs
Friday: out
Saturday: sweet potato "falafel;" pita; herbed yogurt (from Urban Pantry)

Monday, May 24, 2010

baked eggs over croutons

Monday: baked eggs over croutons with mushrooms and asparagus.

Wow. Pretty much everything I've made from Vegetarian Suppers has been a success all around, and this was no exception. We made the recipe as directed and I dry sauteed some asparagus tips (left over from a chop salad last night - I only like to eat the stalks raw; the tips need cooking, IMO). The combination of flavors and textures pretty much knocked my socks off.

eggs baked on a bed of mushrooms and croutons with asparagus tips
adapted from Vegetarian Suppers

  • 2 Tbsp butter, divided into halves
  • 2 slices bread, cut into small cubes
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large finely diced shallot
  • 1/2 lb mushrooms (cremini or portobello)
  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp chopped rosemary
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 3/4 C red wine
  • 2-4 eggs (adjust to fit your appetites)
  • asparagus tips from ~2 lb asparagus
Preheat the oven to 400F. Prepare two shallow baking dishes (we used pasta bowls) by spraying with cooking spray or coating with butter.

Melt half the butter in a medium skillet, add the bread, and toss to coat. Cook over low heat, stirring often, until browned and crisp but not hard (8-10 min). Divide the croutons between the dishes and set skillet aside.

Over medium heat, melt the remaining half of the butter in a large skillet with the olive oil. Add shallot and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring to prevent burning. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the mushrooms and most of the herbs. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Saute until the mushrooms have started to brown, about 5 min. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the wine and use it to deglaze the pan. Lower heat and simmer until the sauce has reduced to about 1/4 C. Season with a bit more salt and pepper and divide the mushrooms between the dishes.

Meanwhile, heat your first skillet over medium heat with just a tiny bit of additional oil (or use a squirt of cooking spray). Cook the asparagus for about 10 minutes. You don't need to move it around in the pan until it starts to sizzle. The asparagus is done when it's tender and tasty.

Make a shallow depression in the center of each mushroom mound, and break 1 or 2 eggs in each dish. Add a bit more salt and pepper. Bake until the eggs are to your liking (about 15 minutes). Remove, sprinkle with the remaining herbs and maybe a bit more salt and fresh-ground pepper, and serve.
makes 2 servings

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mid-Spring Menu

Sunday: fried rice (Victor's own recipe...); vanilla quinoa pudding
Monday: skillet-seared tofu; oven-roasted asparagus (topped with miso sauce from tofu); rice
Tuesday: cook's holiday
Wednesday: lentils; eggs; bread (Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day)
Thursday: Aloo Paratha (Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day)
Friday: spiced kibbe & herbed yogurt (both from Urban Pantry); pita (Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day); red pepper sticks
Saturday: leftovers

Friday, May 21, 2010

red-hot rhubarb

Well, not really red hot, but very cinnamon-y nonetheless. This cinnamon-rhubarb jam was my favorite of the quartet of rhubarb preserves I put up last August. For some reason, that batch of jam set up very hard, but this year's didn't. Whatever - I love cinnamon, and I love this jam. The last jar disappeared a few weeks ago, so I'm happy to have it back in stock, so to speak. This month's Can Jam (which called for either rhubarb or asparagus) was a great opportunity to make it again. (I actually am planning to make something with asparagus, too, but won't have a chance until the weekend.)

One thing to note - it definitely does get spicier as it ages, so that the last batch was, by the end, really quite hot. If you're not a fan of strong cinnamon flavors, I'd recommend eating within six months or so (or don't add the cinnamon sticks to the jars prior to canning).

Rhubarb and Cinnamon Jam
adapted from Sensational Preserves

  • 2 lbs rhubarb, sliced
  • 2 lb sugar
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • juice of 1 lemon
Stir the rhubarb and sugar together in a nonmetallic bowl, cover, and let macerate in refrigerator overnight. Transfer to a saucepan and add the cinnamon and juice. Heat over medium heat, stirring often, until sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat and bring to a boil; boil for 15-20 minutes until the setting point is reached (220F). Remove the cinnamon sticks, put one in each jar, and ladle jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 in headspace. Process in boiling water canner for 15 minutes.
yield: about 4 half-pint jars

Thursday, May 20, 2010

slow-cooker compote

We made this compote as the finish to a simple Sunday supper menu. Simple, yes, but with many different dishes. Given the demands on our time (and on our stove), it seemed best to leave the dessert to the crock-pot. One of the guests brought the ice cream to go with it, and we served the compote warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Rhubarb-Strawberry-Vanilla Bean Compote
adapted from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker

  • 1/4 c OJ
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 lb rhubarb, sliced
  • 1 vanilla bean, cut in half & seeds scraped out
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 pints strawberries, hulled & cut in half
Combine orange juice through vanilla bean (with its seeds) in slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW 3-4 hours. Add the lemon juice and berries and stir to distribute. Continue cooking on LOW for up to another hour (though you can just mix in the strawberries and serve, I thought they were better cooked a bit).
serves 6-8

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Vegetarian Borsht

This Borsht (she spells it "Borshch") was absolutely incredible the day I made it. Neither of us liked the leftovers all that much, however, and it makes a truly heroic quantity of soup. Plus, it's a ton of chopping (even if you use a food processor, which I did). Unclear whether I'll make it again at some point.

Vegetarian Borshch
adapted from The Winter Vegetarian

  • 2 large onions, peeled & finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled & minced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled & finely chopped
  • 1 parsnip, peeled & finely chopped
  • 1 turnip, peeled & finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 medium beets (1 1/2 lb), peeled & finely chopped
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled & finely chopped
  • 1 small celery root (1/4 lb), peeled & finely chopped
  • 1 lb cabbage, shredded
  • 1 c pitted brine-cured black olives (I consider this an optional ingredient, but add more salt if you omit it)
  • 1 tart apple, peeled, cored, & finely chopped
  • 8 C water
  • 1 28-oz can tomatoes in puree
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 3 allspice berries
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • minced fresh dill (as a garnish)
  • sour cream (as a garnish)
In a huge stockpot, saute the onions, garlic, carrot, parsnip, and turnip in the oil until soft. Stir in beets through salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat a simmer, covered, for 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Just before serving, stir in the lemon juice and pepper. Serve hot, garnished with dill and sour cream.
serves 10-12

Monday, May 17, 2010

miso miso miso

Monday: skillet-seared tofu; oven-roasted asparagus (topped with miso sauce from tofu); rice

Before you begin messing with the tofu, start the oven preheating to 400F. Wash and trim the asparagus (if I can find really fat stalks, I trim a bit off the bottom and then peel them as high up the stalk as seems necessary - I test by just eating some of the fresh asparagus and seeing if it's fibrous). Toss with some olive or peanut oil and a bit of salt and pepper.

While you're making the tofu and its miso sauce, roast the asparagus. After it's softened but not quite done (about 10 minutes), remove from oven and top with a thick-ish layer of the sauce. Continue roasting for another 5-7 minutes, until sauce looks cooked (and maybe even blackened in a few places) but not burnt.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Urban Pantry

Wow, I love this book. I just got it from the library and I've already made one thing out of it, even though it completely didn't fit with the meal we were having. Fried rice followed by vanilla-quinoa pudding? The combination was a little weird, yes, but oh-so-good.

I think I must share a similar palate and a similar sensibility with the author - I want to make every single recipe in the book AND I love her down-to-earth approach to eating. I'm not actively looking to adopt a particular eating philosophy (beyond being very much pro-home-cooking), but "thrifty, sustainable, and seasonal" (the book's sub-title) definitely matches up with where I'm at right now, food-wise.

Take the pudding, for example. Pennington writes that she loves the flavor of "rich cinnamon-scented rice pudding" but that white rice really doesn't work for her - "not nutrient-dense enough." I couldn't agree more. This recipe isn't health-food, exactly (it is dessert, after all), but I don't feel guilty eating it, either. Also: yum! I made a few additions, and I'll likely continue to tweak it. This is definitely a recipe I'll be making again, and soon.

Vanilla Quinoa Pudding
adapted from The Urban Pantry

  • 1 C quinoa, washed and rinsed VERY well
  • 3 C milk (I used a combination of skim and half-and-half, since I needed to use up the half-and-half, and we don't have whole milk in the house - she calls for whole milk)
  • 1 vanilla bean, split, beans scraped into pot (I saved the bean and put it in a jar of sugar for vanilla sugar...)
  • 1/8 tsp orange flower water
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 1/4 C raisins
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
Combine all ingredients in a large sauce pan and bring to a low boil over medium-high heat. Lower heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes (stir occasionally to prevent scorching). Remove from heat and allow to rest, lid on, for another 30 minutes. Serve warm.
makes 4-6 servings
update 5/17/10: it also makes a delicious breakfast the next day!

Spring Menu w/ Sunday Supper

Sunday: sauerbraten; mashed potatoes; garlicky greens; skillet green onions; gougeres; rhubarb-strawberry-vanilla compote with vanilla ice cream (compote from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker)
Monday: roasted spicy sweet potatoes; roasted asparagus
Tuesday: cook's holiday
Wednesday: bulgur salad; hot dogs
Thursday: chicken paprikash; egg noodles
Friday: stir-fried pork with green garlic; rice
Saturday: leftovers

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Onion-Topped Pot Roast

Onion-Topped Pot Roast
(adapted from Cooking Light Five-Star Recipes)

  • 2-lb lean, boneless bottom round roast
  • (cooking spray)
  • fresh-ground pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 c coarsely chopped onion
  • 1/2 c dry red wine
  • 1/2 c beef broth OR beef bouillon equivalent (I use "better than bouillon," which is a paste...)
  • 1/4 C no-salt tomato juice (or just use a Tbsp or so tomato paste)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 C water
  • 18 small round red potatoes (or another kind to total about 1 1/2 lb)
  • 1/2 pound carrots cut into sticks (or baby carrots, which is what the recipe actually calls for)

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a food processor (the recipe says to use the "knife blade," whatever that is), process garlic for 5 seconds. Add onions and process for 1 minute or until smooth.

Coat an oven-proof Dutch oven with cooking spray; pace over medium-high heat until hot. Add roast, and brown on all sides (8-10 minutes). Remove roast and sprinkle with pepper; spread the onion puree over the roast. Return roast to dutch oven and bake, uncovered, for 1 hour.

After an hour, add the wine, beef broth, tomato juice or paste, and salt. COVER and bake for 2 1/2 more hours.

After 2 1/2 hours, add water (pouring around edges of roast, NOT over it), potatoes, and carrots. Re-cover and bake 1 more hour, or until tender. (Total of about 4 1/2 hours baking time.)

serves 6

Monday, May 10, 2010

Early Spring Menu

Sunday: Chinese beef barley soup
Monday: bulgur salad
Tuesday: cook's holiday
Wednesday: Beans with Caramelized Onions and Bacon (Heirloom Beans); cornbread (Art of Simple Food); garlicky greens
Thursday: skillet-seared tofu; oven-roasted asparagus; rice (tofu & sauce from Madison's Vegetarian Suppers)
Friday: out
Saturday: leftovers

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

we made it, and it was good

Tuesday:
Coconut Red Lentil & Split Pea Soup

I made it exactly as directed, but in the future, I'd probably make it without the split peas. I normally like them, but in this soup they just didn't do it for me.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I think it's actually spring now

I feel like this is the first real spring recipe I've made this year. Hello, Spring 2010 - I am so very glad to see you!

I love going to the farmer's market and letting a menu fall into place while I'm there, but that's not really possible during the winter. This recipe is the first thing I've just thrown together with farmer's market finds and stuff we have on hand.

Morels and Asparagus with Pasta
inspired by this recipe

  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 bunch green garlic, white parts only, sliced
  • 1/2 lb fresh morels, cleaned and sliced
  • 1/2 water + 3/4 tsp "better-than-bouillon" (or 1/2 C broth)
  • 1/4 C 2% milk
  • 3/4 tsp Wondra (or flour)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and the butter. Saute the green garlic and morels until the mushrooms have released their liquid and it's mostly cooked off (about 5-10 min).

Add asparagus and water or broth to the pan (if using bouillon, add it now, too). Simmer, covered, for 4 minutes or so (asparagus should be crisp-tender). Meanwhile, mix the Wondra or flour into the milk.

Add milk mixture and tarragon and continue cooking, uncovered, until the sauce has thickened (2-4 minutes more). Season to taste and serve over pasta.
serves 2 if you want lots of veggies with your pasta

Friday, April 23, 2010

early spring recipe round-up

This probably won't be very interesting for anyone actually trying to read this blog, but it's useful for me to be able to find the recipes later. Here's what I've been making that I liked enough to make again:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Roasted Tangelo Marmalade with Rosemary

I'm not 100% sure that this "counts" for this month's Can Jam, but it's what I've had time to make this month. Also, it came out incredibly well, so it's worth sharing either way. (I was hoping my mint would be up so that I could make a lemon-mint concentrate syrup for the Can Jam, but our cold weather thwarted me.)

One of my very kind friends sent me some ultra-fresh citrus all the way from Arizona! I started a batch of preserved lemons and made this marmalade with the amazing tangelos she sent. I ended up making several batches.

The first one I overcooked, so that it darkened and caramelized slightly, but I have to admit that it's my favorite. It has an almost nutty quality that's incredible with the rosemary; I'm planning to use most of that batch as hamantashen filling since it also ended up being quite thick. I can't wait to have my dissertation finished so that I can get to the baking - I'm really eager to try the resulting cookies.

I also made a batch with thyme sprigs instead of the rosemary, but I haven't tried any of that yet.
Roasted Tangelo Marmalade with Rosemary
My recipe is adapted from this one.

  • 2 lb tangelos, scrubbed
  • 1/2 C sugar per C of chopped citrus and juice (about 3 C)
  • 1/4 C fresh lemon juice
  • clean rosemary sprigs (1 per jar)
Roasting:
Cut tangelos in half, pick out the seeds, and put them cut-side down in a pan or cookie sheet(s). Roast in a 400F oven for 25 minutes (uncovered). Remove from the oven and let cool.

Making the marmalade, day 1:
When the tangelos have cooled, cut or dice them (peel and pulp) into shreds or very small (approximately 1/4-inch) rough cubes. Measure the chopped citrus and juice together. You should have about 3 cups. For each cup of chopped fruit and juice, measure into a large pot 1 1/2 cups of water.

Bring the citrus/water mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to stand overnight (or at least 12 hours).

Making the marmalade, day 2:
For every cup of the fruit pulp and liquid , add ½ C sugar. Add the fresh lemon juice. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Allow to boil until marmalade jells. This will probably take about 30 minutes – stir it occasionally until it sets, both to check the set and to prevent it from scorching on the bottom.

When the marmalade has jelled, ladle into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Add one rosemary sprig to each jar. Process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.
Makes approximately 6 half-pint (1 cup) jars.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

pickled shallots


Back to pickling! I had this recipe bookmarked even before learning what this month's Can Jam ingredient was. We have a sort-of CSA at the farmer's market (we write them a check for $300 and get $400 in "store credit"). The farm that we have this arrangement with specializes in alliums, especially garlic. Their shallots are pretty great, too, so I used a variation on The River Cottage Preserves Handbook's pickled onion recipe to make these pickles.

Pickled Shallots with Red & White Wine Vinegars
adapted from The River Cottage Preserves Handbook & the Ball Blue Book

  • about 2.25 lb small shallots, peeled
  • 50g fine salt
  • 300ml / ~1.5 C red wine vinegar (I used a cabernet vinegar)
  • 300ml / ~1.5 C white wine vinegar (I used champagne vinegar)
  • 150g honey or sugar (I used honey)
  • 25g scrubbed ginger, cut into coins
  • 2 tsp allspice berries (I ended up substituting 3 tsp of pickling spices for the allspice, mace, and mustard)
  • 2-3 mace blades
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick
(If you find you have trouble peeling the shallots - they can really be little buggers - try plunging them into boiling water for 20 seconds and then immediately plunging into ice water. They should then peel more easily... though they're still tedious to peel.)

Pour the vinegars into a pan with the honey or sugar, ginger, and all spices other than bay leaves. Cover and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to infuse overnight.

Meanwhile, put the shallots into a dish and sprinkle with the salt. Cover and leave overnight in the refrigerator.

Heat brine to a boil. Rinse the onions in cold water, drain, and add to brine. Simmer for 5 minutes. Pack into jars.

Pour hot liquid over shallots, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rims. Adjust lids. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Allow pickles to mature for at least 6 weeks before eating.

yield: about 4 C (I ended up with 2 pt jars and 1 1/2 pt jar)




ETA on May 18, 2010: I finally tried the pickles - they're very tasty, and the perfect accompaniment to grilled hot dogs and burgers.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Monday: Sausages; Marinara Sauce; Polenta

Monday: Sausages; Marinara Sauce; Polenta

Monday's meal was similar to this summer one, except that I actually did take the time to make the polenta. For a while we ate this (or something similar) about once a week, but we've been eating so much other meat recently that I've been skipping it. Still, yummy comfort food is yummy.

I made the polenta a little looser than I often do, so that it stayed more porridge-like when it was re-heated for our lunches the next day.

Polenta

  • 5 C water
  • 1 C polenta
  • ~ tsp salt
  • olive oil
  • parmesan
Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the polenta and salt, continuing to stir until the polenta no longer falls to the bottom of the pan when you stop stirring. Continue to simmer over low heat until cooked to your liking, 30-60 minutes. Stir in some olive oil and parmesan for flavoring and serve.
serves about 4

Sunday, February 28, 2010

spring-ish

Sunday: Mushroom Bourguignon with Pappardelle

I sometimes wonder if I completely fail as a foodie because I can't pronounce French words. At all. You don't even want to hear my attempt to say the name of this dish.

Anyway, it's a good "bridge" meal. Here in Seattle we are well on our way to spring (I was able to use fresh chives and parsley from my own tiny garden!), but it's still quite brisk at night. This mushroom bourguignon isn't as rich and heavy as the beef version, but it's not exactly a dish that screams "springtime!" either. What it is, though, is delicious. Highly, highly recommended.

One note - Deb suggests this as a simple weeknight dinner, which it's not. It took more than an hour and a half, start-to-finish. Part of that may have been the cremini mushrooms I used, since I'm sure they required more prep time than portobellos would have. However, I used frozen pearl onions, so I didn't need to spend the extra time peeling all those wee alliums. Much of the time is hands-off, so it's not really a very intensive dish, but if I had to make it after work I would resort to frozen dumplings. YMMV.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Recovery

Not much cooking going on around here - I had some (very minor, I swear!) surgery and the recovery's had me not eating much, and not cooking at all.

Victor did make some tasty things as I was starting to feel better, though - this Southern Pulled Brisket recipe (with home-made hamburger buns & quick pickles, because I have the best husband ever) and also some Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup, using some of our extra-special lentils from Big John's PFI. Neither of us remembers what kind of lentils he used, except that they were the yellow-ish ones, and they fell apart just as red lentils normally do. Anyway, it was all delish, and just what I needed to get myself feeling more like myself again.

Friday, February 19, 2010

just can't stop jammin'

Even though I promised myself I'd focus mainly on pickles for the can jam, there's a recipe for sweet carrot preserves in one of my cookbooks that I've wanted to try for some time. I only made one minor modification - I used half a vanilla bean, too, because what I had in mind has more richness than the recipe looked like it would have. It's a very small batch recipe, so I think I might experiment with it some more in the future - I think next time I might use brown sugar instead of the white, as I'm picturing a very rich and flavorful jam. This batch was almost there, but not quite.

Angel's Hair
adapted from Sensational Preserves

  • 10 oz carrots, peeled and grated to yield about 1 1/2 C
  • 1 1/4 C sugar
  • 1 large lemon
  • 3 white cardamom pods, split
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split
In a medium sauce pan, mix the carrots and sugar together. Add the cardamom and vanilla bean. Cut the lemon peel into thin strips, squeeze the juice from the lemon, and put both the peel and the juice into the pot, too.

Heat gently, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved, then boil for 10 minutes or so until very thick. Skim with a slotted spoon.

Spoon the jam into warm, clean, dry jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

yield: about 1 half-pint jar

Sunday, February 14, 2010

your house will smell amazing!

Although this year I've resolved to "put up" more pickles and whole fruits, I still have a lot of jams and sweet preserves from last year (and a few from the year before that, truth be told). I'm trying to use them in new ways. One I hadn't really thought of previously is in baking, but when I saw this recipe for Marmalade Gingerbread, I knew the Lemon-Ginger Marmalade I canned last winter would be perfect for it.

I brought a loaf with me to the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat (which I've gone to every year I've been in Washington); the gingerbread was a hit with my knitting buddies.

Marmalade Gingerbread
adapted from Sensational Preserves

  • 1 1/4 C dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 C skim milk
  • 1/2 C butter, melted
  • 1/2 C unsweetened applesauce *
  • 2/3 C marmalade (any kind - each will be a bit different, obviously, but all should work, including store-bought) *
  • 3 C all-purpose flour
  • 4 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 Tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 7 pieces preserved ginger in syrup, chopped *
  • 2/3 C plump raisins
Preheat oven to 310F. Prepare two loaf pans (I use baking spray with flour) and set aside.

Mix the milk and sugar together until sugar is dissolved. Add melted butter, marmalade, and applesauce, stirring until marmalade dissolves. In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients together and form a well in the center. Mix the marmalade mixture into the dry ingredients, stirring to make a smooth batter. Stir in the eggs. Stir in the chopped ginger and raisins.

Pour into your prepared pans and bake for 60-90 minutes, until risen and firm to the touch in the center. Leave to cool in the pan.

Store in an airtight container. From the recipe's headnotes: "This gingerbread is best kept for a couple of days before being eaten."

makes 2 full-sized loaves

* If you have some home-canned versions of these, this would be a great recipe to use them in.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

from the freezer

Thursday: braised chicken; oven-roasted russet potatoes

I have some kind of weird hyper-sensitivity to potato skins, so I've had to give up eating them. I miss them, and am always looking for ways to "dress up" my poor naked potatoes. I ran across this simple method for improving oven-roasted potatoes, and immediately made plans to make them that way for dinner. They were great! Next time I think I'll toss them with more oil (I added a glug before I shook them in the pan after parboiling) and I think I'll cook 'em at 425F rather than 450F.

The chicken (frozen leftovers from an earlier dinner) was a lovely "sauce" for the potatoes.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

winter in the PNW curry

Wednesday: Red Curry with Winter Veggies; brown rice

This recipe ended up being a lot more work than I initially thought it would. I made some changes to cut down on that, and am changing the order of preparation around a bit so that it's easier to have everything ready to go at the right moment. Beyond that, I feel like, if I'm going to put this much time into making a curry, I should probably make the curry paste from scratch. Live and learn. It was tasty, though not amazing.

Red Curry with Winter Veggies
adapted from Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison's Kitchen
time, start to finish: about 1 hour

  • 1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped
  • 1 carton firm tofu in water, drained, patted dry, and cut into 1" cubes
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 C water
  • 2 tsp Thai red curry paste
  • 1/2 C chopped cilantro, plus some sprigs for garnish
  • 2 tsp peanut oil
  • salt
  • 2-3 tsp soy sauce
  • 6 large shallots, peeled and sliced into rounds
  • sugar
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • small handful roasted peanuts, chopped
Steam sweet potatoes & kale until the potatoes are softened (10-20 minutes over boiling water, or about 10 minutes in the microwave).

Meanwhile, cook the tofu: heat a large nonstick skilled over medium heat with a little cooking spray in the pan. Let them sit for about 5 minutes without moving them, then turn them over (I do this one at a time carefully using my fingers - YMMV). Cook for another 2 minutes or so, until they're starting to look like a lot of the water has been cooked out. Turn again, and cook for another minute. The sides that have been cooked should be golden brown. Sprinkle salt and soy sauce over them, and cook for another few minutes until the soy sauce is pretty well evaporated and the tofu cubes have a soy sauce glaze.

In a large saute pan, heat the coconut milk, water, and curry paste. Whisk the mixture to fully break up the curry paste. Once it's come to a simmer, stir in the (drained) sweet potatoes and kale, the chopped cilantro, and the tofu cubes. Continue to simmer over low heat while you prepare the shallots.

Wipe out your nonstick pan and heat it again over medium-high heat. Heat the peanut oil and add the shallots. Sprinkle with a little salt and sugar and caramelize them slightly (about 8-10 minutes). When caramelized, mix into the simmering curry.

Serve over rice, with lime wedges, a bit more cilantro, and more salt and/or sugar, to taste.

serves 4

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

catching up

I'm back from Boston, where I spent my time whipping up a variety of freezable meals, had a fantastic meal at Hungry Mother, and generally had a lovely time.

Cooking has been a bit light around here, and will continue to be so for a while. I'm finishing the writing on my doctoral thesis, and much as I'd love to escape to the kitchen, I need to focus on that for a while. Here's what we've been up to food-wise this week:

Sunday: Plumped Ginger-Caramel Shrimp; brown jasmine rice

This is, so far, the only shrimp recipe I've used. Eating seafood is a relatively new thing for me, and I still am somewhat hesitant to cook it. This was my second time making it, and it was (again) delicious. I made a 1/3 recipe:

Plumped Ginger-Caramel Shrimp
adapted from The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper

for the brine:
  • 1/2 C kosher salt
  • 1/3 C sugar
  • 1/3 C medium-hot chile powder
  • 2 qts water (warm if using frozen shrimp, cold if using fresh)
  • 1 1/2 lb shrimp (in or out of their shells)
In a medium bowl, mix together the non-shrimp brine ingredients. Add the shrimp, and let stand for 20 minutes while you chop the other ingredients (at room temp for frozen shrimp, and in the fridge for fresh).

for the saute:
  • 4 large garlic cloves, grated
  • 4" piece ginger, peeled and grated (you could mince both this & the garlic, but I like to use my microplane on 'em)
  • 1/4 C vegetable oil
  • a few grinds of black pepper
  • a sprinkle of salt
  • 4 tsp sugar
After they've been brining for 20 minutes, drain the shrimp. Peel them if necessary and pat them dry. Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic, ginger, pepper, and salt. Cook for about a minute, stirring to let all the aromatics come into contact with the hot oil. Add the sugar and keep cooking until the garlic is pale gold - the line between slightly darkened and burnt is a fine one in this dish, so be watchful. Drop in the shrimp and stir for another 2 minutes or so, until the shrimp are turning pink and are barely firm.
serves 4, very generously


The brown rice was partly a chance to play with my new toy - a rice maker that will cook it! Our old Zojirushi was wonderful, but basically couldn't cope with brown rice. The new one is smaller (we just got a 3C, since I found a fabulous deal on that size), but still makes enough rice for 4 people. Or for the two of us, plus enough leftovers for fried rice the next day:

Monday: Ginger Fried Rice with a Fried Egg

Victor made this - it was amazingly good and didn't seem to take too long. Definitely an addition to our regular rotation, since it has a lot of room for improvisation, but the crispy bits of garlic and ginger really take this particular version beyond most fried rice recipes. For this time, though, he just made the recipe as detailed on Smitten Kitchen.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday, January 29, 2010

whoops

I made a crazy amount of soup tonight, and have lots to say about it, and the book I got the recipe from, but it's time for me to run off to Boston for a while. I'll be back in a week!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

developing your "kitchen ecosystem"

I've mentioned Eugenia Bone's post on "kitchen ecosystems" before; it is an excellent article.

I was really excited when I read her post, because it sums up so many of the things that make cooking from scratch much easier and simpler. There's an ebb and flow to what you're doing, and you need to be fairly nimble and flexible, but beyond that you need to find specific things that work for you. There are a lot of pantry "must-have" lists out there, and for a long time (especially when I wasn't cooking without recipes but wanted to start) I tried to follow their guidelines.

After spending a lot of time cooking - much of it from scratch, often without a real recipe - I've decided that those lists have it exactly backwards. The writer's "go-to" kitchen staples probably aren't yours, and even if they might some day be things you'd use, they're not worth stocking if you don't know what to do with them right now.

I think it makes a lot more sense to cook a lot and get a feel for the types of things you use on a regular basis. When you can think of one or two things like that, by all means stock up!

Or better yet, focus on playing with those ingredients: maybe you do a lot of cooking with beans. You could buy a lot of canned beans when you see them on sale, or you could buy some dried ones and cook up a big batch one weekend. Divide them into "can-sized" portions, if that's how most of the recipes you currently use are written (1 2/3 C cooked beans (from scratch) = 1 can beans), and freeze. Maybe get those beans from your local farmer's market ("fresh" dried beans are really worth the effort to find, if that's possible for you), or maybe you buy some cheap ones from the supermarket. Either way, do that a few times with different beans and you have the backbone of your cooking - and you'll be well on your way to a vibrant kitchen ecosystem of your own.

Monday, January 25, 2010

thai-ish

Monday: Spicy Basil Chicken; kalijira rice

First, a quick note about the rice - kalijira, a tiny and aromatic rice, is from Bangladesh, which currently has banned rice exports. While good for the people of Bangladesh (... I hope!), since it will theoretically make rice more affordable there, it is sad for me. I love kalijira rice probably more than is reasonable, and it's very very difficult to get in the U.S. right now. We still have a small amount, and while I *could* just eat it unadorned (truly, it is a wonderfully tasty rice), I made some for dinner tonight.

The chicken was adapted from a Cook's Illustrated recipe. Their method is fairly involved; below is my version:

Spicy Basil Chicken
adapted from Cook's Illustrated

  • 2 C fresh basil leaves (tightly packed), divided
  • 3 peeled garlic cloves, cut in half
  • 6 red thai chiles, stemmed and cut in half (if you want to make the dish less spicy - and it is pretty hot - seed them, too)
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce, divided
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken (either breasts or thighs), cut into medium pieces
  • 3 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced (between 3/4 & 1 C total)
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
In a food processor, process half the basil, plus the garlic and chiles until finely chopped, but not a paste (10 or so pulses). Mix together just a Tbsp of the basil mixture, half the fish sauce, and the soy sauce and vinegar; set aside.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat and add the basil mixture from the food processor (you don't need to clean it out, or even scrape it very thoroughly). Add the shallots, too. Sprinkle with the sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are starting to brown (about 10 minutes).

Process the chicken and the remaining fish sauce (1 Tbsp) in the processor until the meat is in small pieces, but not a paste (about 8 pulses). Once the shallots are browned a bit, add the chicken and cook until most of the pink is gone, breaking up the pieces with a spatula (3-4 minutes). Add the basil, fish sauce, etc. mixture to the pan and cook until the chicken is no longer pink, stirring as needed (1-2 minutes). Stir in the remaining basil and cook until the basil is just wilted (about 1 minute).
serves about 3 (just add a bit more chicken if you have a 4th person)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

freezer-clearing ribollita

Sunday: ribollita; rye bread

Heidi's post about her ribollita recipe touches on the "kitchen ecosystem." I'm comforted to see other people who have an ecosystem similar to mine, and it was especially useful here, as the ribollita ended up being essentially a "pantry meal" for me.

The only changes I made to her recipe were to use chicken stock in place of the water (although some day I aspire to have a pressure canner and have lots of homemade stock in the actual pantry, it instead came from the freezer) and to amp up the umami with a parmesan rind, 2 Tbsp of tomato paste, and a sprinkle of fish sauce.

We took it to a pot-luck game night at a friend's house, and it seemed to be a hit. It didn't quite do it for me. I thought it still was somewhat bland even after my additions; I probably won't make it again.

I also made a loaf of the rye bread from the new Artisan Bread in Five Minutes book. Yum!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

piroshki eat you!


Saturday
: piroshki!


Since Victor was the one who first introduced me to piroshki (as opposed to pierogies, which I grew up eating), it seems only fitting that he was the one to decide that we should make our own piroshki. Although Seattle has some kickin' piroshki options, we both miss St. Paul's funky-yet-awesome Russian Tea House, so this is something of a nostalgia thing for us, I guess.

Victor also was the one who ended up making them from start to finish. He combined two recipes to begin to approximate the Russian Tea House ones, which are somewhat doughy and beefy. The filling is from this recipe; the dough from this one (we were skeptical about the "sunshine sauce" and skipped it entirely).


They were delicious and made the house smell wonderful. Seattle's on track to have its warmest January ever recorded, so we didn't really need this hearty winter fare, but it was comforting nonetheless.