Sunday, January 29, 2012

Menu for Week of 1/29/12

Creamy Parsnip & Leek Soup
Braised White Beans
Kale Salad
Chicken & Fennel Potpie

Saturday supper

Saturday: roast chicken; roasted sweet potatoes; napa cabbage with balsamic vinaigrette

Just our usual Zuni chicken dinner, with the addition of the salad. We've both been really craving uncooked greens recently, and fortunately Victor likes his salads just as unadorned as I do. So, nappa cabbage sliced as for slaw and tossed with this dressing. I made the dressing with Rockridge Orchard's "Rocksalmic" faux balsamic vinegar - it was delicious but came out tasting like honey-mustard dressing. I don't know if that was because of the vinegar, or the particular (strong dijon) mustard I used, or what.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

where crispy = caramelized

Friday: Fragrant Lentil Rice Soup with "Crispy" Onions; fresh-baked bread

(Originally planned for Thursday; foiled by my own tiredness and desire for take-out.)

A lovely soup, even though it turned out that I didn't have any greens to stir in near the end. I don't know why she calls the onions crispy, as they're clearly caramelized (and she calls them that in the head notes). But whatever - it is indeed fragrant, and we both enjoyed it.

Fragrant Lentil Rice Soup with (optional) Spinach & "Crispy" Onions (adapted from Cook This Now)

For the caramelized onions:
  • 3 medium onions, halved from root to stem & thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • pinch kosher salt
  • pinch sugar
Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Melt the butter and heat the oil, then toss in the onions with the salt. Cook until they release their juices (5 min), then sprinkle with sugar, raise the heat to medium-high, and cook until golden (7 more minutes). Turn heat to high, and cook, stirring only a few times, until they are deeply caramelized (5-10 more minutes). If you're me, you won't be able to resist adding a few tablespoons of water and deglazing the pan at this point. Either way, set aside the finished onions.

For the soup:
  • 2 Tbsp oliv oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped*
  • 2" piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped*
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped*
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • pinch ground allspice
  • a bay leaf
  • 6 C stock (chicken or veggie)
  • 3 C water
  • 1/2 C brown long-grain rice
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt more to taste
  • 1 1/2 C red lentils
  • 5 C baby spinach leaves (~ 4 C) or equivalent amount chard or kale (just be sure to cook less-tender greens a bit longer)
  • lime (or lime juice), optional
Heat a large pot over medium heat; warm the oil in it. Add the aromatics (if you didn't puree them together, add the onion first; just add the ginger & garlic with the other spices) and saute until they begin to smell cooked - about 4-5 minutes. Add the spices and cook until very fragrant, about another minute. Add the stock, water, rice, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the red lentils and cook until the rice is done and the lentils are meltingly soft, about 30 more minutes. Stir in the greens (if using) and let them completely wilt. Tast, and add more salt if necessary. If the dish tastes flat, add a little lime juice.

To serve, spoon into bowls and top with a bunch of caramelized onions, a bit of flaky salt, and maybe a tiny squeeze of lime.
serves 6

* I cut the aromatics into chunks and pureed them in a mini-food processor.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

all greens, all the time

I'd planned to make a bit more for dinner, but Monday night's nosh ended up being very light: just this kale salad. I didn't really measure any of the ingredients, but it came out very well. V kept saying "This is DELICIOUS" in an incredulous voice - I don't think he'd had very high hopes for a raw kale salad (truth be told, I was a little dubious too). We ate most of it last night; I had the rest for breakfast.

Monday, January 23, 2012

well, that worked out pretty well

Sunday: Braised White Beans; sauteed greens; bread. Apple Sharlotka for dessert.

I made all the recipes pretty much as-written.

For the braised beans: It took about 45 minutes on medium-high before I was satisfied with the beans' caramelization. They smelled amazing - the finished recipe was good, but wasn't quite able to live up to their initial aroma. I added about 1.5 Tbsp strong Dijon mustard, lots of salt, a bit of better-than-bouillon (chicken flavor), and a bunch of pepper. I ended up simmering the beans for just under two hours (I started with the saddest looking bag of discount beans from the grocery store, but then soaked them for two days. YMMV.)

The greens were a bunch of semi-random greenery that had been floating around the fridge - a half-bag of Trader Joe's prewashed greens that I picked up in a moment of panic on Christmas Day and a bag of greens from last week's farmer's market excursion. I cut up a single strip of bacon, fried it 'til crispy, and then cooked two garlic cloves a bit before adding the greens, some smoked paprika, and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. I added some water to steam, and kept cooking 'til we were ready to eat.

Because we decided (somewhat last minute) to have someone over for dinner, I made Smitten Kitchen's Apple Sharlotka as well. I LOVE this recipe, and I don't even know if I cooked it enough. Was it really supposed to be creamy in the center and crisp around the edges? Does it matter? It was delicious, and I'll definitely be making this again. But for the time it takes to cut up the apples, it's very low-effort, and the ingredients are minimal.

I can't speak for my dinner companions, but for me, this meal was a total success.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Menu for week of 1/22/2012


Sweet Potato Noodle Kugel

I originally clipped this recipe from a magazine many years ago, and I've been making it ever since. Sadly, I don't think it would ever be kosher for our seder table (I've never found kosher-for-Passover egg noodles; more importantly, we eat meat at that meal, so the sour cream & butter make this dish a no-go). I sometimes make it with peach jam, since often I make more of that than apricot; it's good either way.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

snowed in

We're having a cozy few days as we wait for the roads to clear. Fortunately, I had planned a couple of fairly elaborate meals, so we've been eating well *and* keeping ourselves entertained.

First, a pair of recipes from the always-awesome Smitten Kitchen: carrot soup with miso and scallion meatballs with soy-ginger glaze. These were both wonderful and pretty dang easy to make. The glaze was so good that V kept trying to think of new uses for it (he tried it on ice cream, but unfortunately he said it made the ice cream taste "like blood").

Last night we made chicken stew with sweet potato biscuits. I couldn't quite bring myself to use all the butter called for in the chicken stew recipe, but made it with a single stick of butter instead. Also definitely a recipe I'll be making again (though hopefully in a situation where we won't be required to eat it all ourselves....).