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


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