Tag Archives: dinner

New Leaf

Hi there. It’s been a while, but I’m back. I’m not here to scatter handfuls from my bushel of excuses on lack of posting over the past month–that’s so 2005. Instead, I’ve got more posts that involve acutal cooking and pretty pictures of food. About time, right?

I’ve recently partnered with a certain Ian to get into some healthier habits. I haven’t been very interested in cooking lately, and I feel like everthing I eat comes out of a crackly plastic bag. Sloppy nutrition makes me tired and I don’t want to cook when I’m tired, so I end up in a not-too-pleasant cycle. So in order to feel better, and feel better about myself, I’m going to concentrate on cooking healthy foods more often.  I’m a bit of an amateur nutrition buff, so I’ll be writing about the health benefits of the things I cook. Dessert lovers, don’t worry–this isn’t going to become a shame-dispensing health site. I promise only to share the most delicious recipes and ingredients, including plenty of cookies, jam, custard, and ice cream.

That said, I’m turning over a new leaf–literally (you knew that joke was coming). This bundle of joy is Red Russian Kale, one of my favorite leafy greens. It’s much milder than other kales, and one of the prettiest brassicas around. When it’s young like this bunch, you barely need to cook it at all, and it could even serve as a salad green once de-stemmed, or shredded in a delicate slaw. The leaves are so tender I couldn’t stop myself from taking a bite of one on the way home, even though I prefer them sauteed. I cooked this kale the way I cook most leafy greens. Just a quick stir fry with some oil (about 2 Tbs) and a minced clove of garlic, and it’s ready to go. I chop everything up, heat the oil on high, toss in the stems, stir about 2 minutes, add the leaves, stir for 2 minutes, add the garlic, & stir 2 more minutes.

Everyone knows that the dark green leafies contain lots of iron, calcium, manganese and vitamins A, C , and K. But did you know that they fight cancer and aid brain function? Dark brassicas are commonly used as a liver detoxifier; high fiber content means they cleanse the colon as well. That brings to mind their high sulfur content (it’s why they smell a bit like an unlit match as you cook them), a clever inclusion gives them slight antimicrobial properties.

But forget about all that for a minute, and listen when I tell you that they are delicious. Cooked in a little oil, with some garlic and maybe a bit of red pepper, these greens are soft, rich, fresh, and nourishing. I don’t salt them because their mineral content makes them taste salty enough. And you know, for health. These might be just the thing to wean me off of my Peanut m&m habit. So here’s to the new me, the new you, and the new crop of kale. Consider this new leaf flipped.

2 Comments

Filed under dinner, Recipe, Side Dish, Vegetables

Cheater’s Pizza

There’s been some talk on the internet about what it takes to make great pizza at home, and all the fussy preparation it entails. I’m here to tell you that great pizza takes about an hour and as much effort as you can spare between reading blogs and posting photos. You just need dough ingredients, toppings you like and have on hand, and about an hour of non-consecutive prep time. Some might consider this cheating, but I think that makes it all the more exciting. After all, it’s food, not taxes, so the important point is that you enjoy the end result. No one’s going to judge you for what you cook and devour late at night, honest.

Cheater’s Pizza – Serves 1

  • 1 cup flour (I mixed bread flour and AP)
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 c water
  • Toppings

Put everything except water in a medium bowl – I’m pretty good at eyeballing amounts, so the only thing I measured was the yeast. Measure everything if you need to, there’s no shame.  Add half the water and stir with a wooden spoon, adding more water as needed. The dough should be soft and stick to the sides of the bowl, but it shouldn’t puddle. If it gets too thin, add a bit more flour. Stir until the dough is stretchy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover, and walk away. You probably have to organize iTunes or something.

In about 15 minutes, preheat the oven to 450 F. Put the bowl on top of the oven to speed proofing. Take a 10 minute break to check your newsfeeds.

When you get back to the kitchen, make sure the oven is up to temperature. Then put a baking sheet in the oven while you prep your toppings. I used olive oil, 2 Tbsp minced onion, and 2 oz goat cheese, so I just got those things out. I also trimmed my basil windowbox (the one in my header – it’s grown so much since then!) and got about 2 Tbsp for the pizza. This would also be great with tomato sauce, bits of pre-cooked meat and vegetable, or whatever you have on hand.

Flour your counter and scrape the dough out of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Dust the dough with flour and using a rolling pin, get it as thin as you can. Take the baking sheet out of the oven, transfer the dough to it. Cover the dough with toppings and return to the oven as quickly as you can. Bake 10-15 minutes, until risen and golden. Update your Facebook status while you’re waiting, so all your friends know you’re making super easy pizza from scratch.

Remove from oven, and immediately place basil leaves on top and drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Let cool as long as it takes to load a DVD, eat with your hands.

1 Comment

Filed under Baked, Main Dish

Getting with the Program

I’ve been more than a little zoned-out lately, and even though I’ve been cooking, I haven’t had the drive to publish photos and recipes. (Like that’s never happened to you.) I spend long hours at work, and by the time I’m home at night (after a yoga class if I’m lucky) I’m totally uninterested in anything else that takes mental or physical energy. (Cry me a river, right?) Most of the food I’ve made in the past few months has been very simple – the kind of thing that I think doesn’t merit measurement or recording – and I’ve been eating more prepared foods, both good and bad (Sabra hummus, Luna bars, street meat and Rainbow falafel) than ever before.

In an effort to slow my simultaneous eventual downswing both into expensive just-ok convenience food and total thoughtlessness about said convenience food, I’m going to start posting some of the things I toss together when I’m home and have 15 minutes free. I’m also going to start a new category, Deskmates, to chronicle the little snacks, goodies, and concoctions that fuel my workday.

So. Here’s the first step back into the weblog program.

Tonight I was craving yogurt-marinated lamb with a pile of yieldingly soft braised nappa cabbage. But the nearest grocery store is almost a block away, so I decided to ignore my craving and make do with my admittedly ample pantry ingredients. It turned out to be much quicker and it allowed me to avoid putting on flip-flops and spending 10 minutes away from home. I know, it’s pretty sad. But at least if this trend continues, I’ll be able to make room  in my cupboards for more homemade jam and pickles.

So I rooted through a cupboard, and behind my spice grinder and a cardboard canister of rolled oats was a lonely can of tuna. I pulled that out, and remembered the shelled edamame in the freezer. Some shredded carrot and ginger, soy sauce and rice vinegar, rounded out the motley crew into a delicious asian-inspired salad. It turned out to be just what I needed, and all that fresh clean protein and vegetable matter gave me the energy to make a quick dessert, too (recipe to come). This is shaping up to be a program I think I can stick to – at least when it involves meals like this.

Tuna, Carrot, and Edamame Salad for a Lazy Sunday

  • 1 can of tuna packed in water, drained
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1/2 c frozen shelled edamame
  • 1/2-inch piece of ginger, grated on a microplane
  • 3 Tbs rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce ( I used wheat-free low-sodium tamari)
  • 1 Tbs sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp Korean red pepper flakes

Put a small pot with about 1 quart of water on to boil. Measure 1/2c frozen edamame and set aside. Grate the carrot into a medium bowl. Add the ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, oil and red pepper and stir with a fork. Scrape the tuna on top. When the water boils, add the edamame and cook until bright green and tender, about 4 minutes. Strain and dump into the bowl. Stir everything together and add more vinegar or soy sauce if you like. Eat with a fork while checking your RSS feeds for the first time in a week. Feel stronger.

Leave a comment

Filed under Main Dish, Meat & Fish, Pantry, Recipe, Vegetables

Pink Pink Pink

Hi there. This site is about a month old now, and I think we’re entering a new stage of its development. When I first started writing here, I had a million ideas in my head of things I could cook, photograph, review, taste. I still do, only all those things have taken a backseat to working most of the time and sleeping when I’m done. I’ve been trying to cook and shop and photograph like I usually do, but since I started this new job (a good opportunity, just with so much catch-up work to do), I haven’t had time for cooking. Unless you count the rice and greens I’ve been making in large batches to bring in for lunch, or the oatmeal with leftover rhubarb compote I have for breakfast.

But maybe I’m finally getting the rhythm of my new schedule, or adjusting to the reduced amount of free time, because tonight, I wanted to cook something new and exciting, despite getting in after 8pm. On the way to the office this morning, I walked through the Union Square Greenmarket and practically pounced on the sweet New Jersey strawberries the vendors were just putting out. The little green basket sat on my desk all day, smelling sweet and no doubt ripening further.

It’s always a special treat for me, the first really good strawberry of summer. A few weeks ago I saw the little pale berries at the market, but they weren’t ready. Now we’re only a week away from a mid-season glut of berries. When the time comes, I’ve already decided to buy enough to make a big batch of jam, maybe with a sprinkling of pink peppercorns.

So when I finally arrived home with my basket of berries, I needed some protein and minerals, and I wanted to let the strawberries in on the dinner fun. Luckily, I had some salmon in the refrigerator and pink mustard greens from a previous greenmarket run. I made some of the strawberries into salsa, wilted the greens with olive oil and garlic, and served that with pistachio and pink peppercorn-crusted salmon. The combination of the pink and green tastes is fresh and warm and summery, with the peppercorns picking up the fruity taste of the strawberries and the floral notes in the greens. The salmon’s briny, oily, rich taste complements the fresh berries and greens, and the toasty pistachio crust. I always feel like I should pair ingredients that look alike, have the same shape or color, and in this instance, it works out perfectly. Now that I’ve had this dinner, I’m energized enough to put in a day of work tomorrow, and maybe even cook dinner again.

This trio of pinks is headed off to Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week at Wandering Chopsticks.

Pink Peppercorn and Pistachio-Crusted Salmon with Strawberry Salsa and Pink Mustard Greens

For the salsa:

  • 1/2 c strawberries, rinsed and hulled
  • 1 small red hot pepper
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • pinch of salt
  • Juice of 1/4 lime

Mince the pepper and garlic. Mice the strawberries, mix with pepper, garlic, lime juice, and salt. Transfer to small bowl to macerate.

For the greens:

  • 3 cups pink mustard greens, loosely packed, chopped
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced

Heat the oil on medium, add garlic and cook 1 minute while stirring. Stir in the greens a handful at a time, then cook just until wilted.

For the salmon

  • 2 Tbs pistachios
  • 1 tsp pink peppercorns
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 8-oz salmon fillet
  • Juice of 1/4 lime
  • 1 Tbs olive oil

Rub both sides of the salmon with lime juice. Grind the pistachios and peppercorns in a spice grinder. Mix with salt and sprinkle half on the flatter side of the salmon fillet. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium, then place the salmon in the skillet, crust side down. Sprinkle other side with remaining crust mixture. Cook 4 mintues, then turn and cook 4 minutes more. Cook up to 2 more minutes per side if you like your salmon well-done. Cut in half and serve each on a bed of mustard greens and topped with salsa.

5 Comments

Filed under Main Dish, Meat & Fish, Recipe, Vegetables

Ted and Amy Supper Club

Last Friday I traipsed through the streets of Fort Greene, Brooklyn looking for a private residence in which to have dinner. I chose a likely-looking home and just walked in, then waited for the residents to cook and serve food. They seemed happy to oblige me and the other people who’d had the same idea, and we all had a lovely dinner with eleven strangers. How is that even possible, you ask? Through the magic of the Ted and Amy Supper Club, is how.

I had read about things like this before – the underground dinner clubs, occasional restaurants, and speakeasies hidden in plain sight all over the city, revealed only to those who knew their secret. Finally attending one was at the same time the fulfillment of a mysterious quest and a friendly evening of good food and good company. I saw the Ted and Amy Supper Club mentioned in an article in Edible Brooklyn, and since I love its namesakes, I had to check it out.

Kara and Adam, the founders of the supper club, cook a meal in Kara’s apartment for 12 guests, a mix of their friends and strangers about once every two weeks. This time the menu was Italian, specifically Olive Garden-themed, since both Kara and Adam have culinary roots in the popular chain. The food gave a good-natured jab to the faux-authentic restaurant (Adam picked up salad dressing and unbaked breadsticks from OG itself), warmed us up with stuffed and grilled calimari, then justified our love for pasta with two flavorful, well-balanced courses: the first, a short rib ragu over pappardelle, and the second, penne with vodka sauce. Dessert was a light, well-executed (neither too boozy nor too dry) tiramisu. I’d describe how good it was, but I think the picture speaks for itself.

Over the summer, Adam says they plan to do more grilling in the tree-lined backyard, and I can’t imagine a better way to spend a hot city night. There’s an easy sign-up form on the website if you’re interested in attending, and once you secure a seat, you’ll receive an email with the exact address of Kara’s lovely apartment. Invite yourself over for dinner – they’ll make you glad you did.

1 Comment

Filed under Meat & Fish, review, Things I Did Not Cook

Millet with Preserved Lemon and Cilantro

Poor little millet doesn’t get the attention it deserves.  It’s tiny and homely and known best as bird food in the US.  In fact, if you have a backyard birdfeeder, you occasionally might see millet plants sprout from dropped seeds.  But millet is an ancient grain, popular in Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe since the dawn of time.  It’s gluten-free, high in protein, and easy to digest.  Oh, and it tastes good.

I consider millet to be somewhere between a grain and a legume, since it’s both starchy and protein-rich.  So I usually cook it like rice and spice it like lentils, just to make sure I have my bases covered.   And ever since I made a batch of preserved lemons (a half-gallon jar, last summer!), I’ve been looking for ways to use them up.  Only the rind is used in cooking, the flesh is scooped away and all the salty, satiny juice rinsed off.  Preserved lemons are very salty and fragrant, so just a little bit can flavor a whole dish.  They pair well with millet, especially since both are North African culinary staples.

This recipe is Moroccan-inspired, and features toasted spices, fresh herbs, and some homemade preserved lemon.  The outcome isn’t very glamorous, but the taste is fresh and bright, and certainly worthy of attention.

I’m sending this millet to Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Anh of Food Lover’s Journey.

Millet with Preserved Lemon and Cilantro (serves 2 as a side, can be multiplied)

1/2c millet

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp fenugreek

1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds

1/4 tsp cinnamon stick bits

4 black peppercorns

1 1/2c water

1 Tbs tomato paste

2 tsp grated ginger

1/4 preserved lemon rind, rinsed, flesh removed, minced (about 2 tsp)

2 Tbs minced fresh cilantro leaves and stems

In a small saucepan toast the spices until golden, about 2 minutes.  Transfer to a spice grinder and grind.  Toast the millet in the same saucepan, and when fragrant, add the water and spices and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook 15 minutes.

Add the tomato paste, ginger, and preserved lemon after 15 minutes.  Cover and cook 5-10 more minutes until the liquid is absorbed and millet is tender.  Remove from heat, stir in cilantro, and serve.

7 Comments

Filed under Grains, Pantry, Recipe, Side Dish

Cold Sesame Noodles

Oh man, are these noodles ever a life-saver. Sometimes I get busy and don’t realize what time it is, and then I look at the clock and it’s been 10 hours since breakfast and I have to leave to meet friends in 20 minutes. By then I’m really hungry and need to eat immediately, but I don’t want to have complete junk food from a 24-hour Dunkin Donuts. Times like these, I put some water on to boil for my super-fast Cold Sesame Noodles. They’re modeled after a favorite picture-menu Chinese restaurant dish and are quite adaptable. They can feature any shredded vegetable I have on hand, or just be a veg-less starchfest. I made a batch last night, and they’re so quick that I was able to have dinner, put on shoes, and make it to the movies on time.

This is my Presto Pasta Night dinner-of-the-week, hosted by Ruth at Once Upon a Feast.

Cold Sesame Noodles (serves 1 as a main dish or 2 as a side. Easily multiplied for a crowd.)

  • 1 bundle soba noodles

Sauce:

  • 4 Tbs peanut butter
  • 3 Tbs rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Sriracha pepper sauce (optional)
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, minced or grated on a microplane
  • 1 tsp fresh garlic, minced or grated on a microplane

Optional vegetables:

  • 1 c leafy greens, shredded (I used broccoli rabe, but nappa cabbage and bok choi are also great)
  • 1/4 c carrot, julienned or grated
  • 1/4 c bean sprouts
  • 2 scallions, chopped (can use chives or ramps, too!)
  • 1 Tbs cilantro
  • 1/4 c cucumber, julienned
  • 2 Tbs chopped peanuts
  • 1 Tbs sesame seed

Put a quart of salted water on to boil. It goes faster if the pot is covered.

While the water is heating, make the sauce. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and stir slowly until combined. Get the vegetables ready, and the water should be ready by this time, too.

When the water comes to a boil, put in the soba and boil about 3 minutes. If you’re using leafy greens, throw them into the noodle water at this point. The leaves get just enough heat to turn their brightest green. Drain noodles and greens and place in your favorite noodle bowl. Top with sauce and other vegetables and toss to combine.

2 Comments

Filed under Main Dish, Recipe