Wednesday, December 30, 2009

potatoes and resolutions

Oh-ho, it's December 30th and I haven't updated since August. As usual, one of my (many) New Year's resolutions is to update here more often. I would like to strive for once a week, but I also want to give myself an objective that I can keep, so maybe I should settle for twice a month? What do you think, dear reader?

I have been spending my Christmas break at my lovely friend Krysten's house in Arizona, where the vodka flows like the sunshine and I'm gaining weight with a rapidity heretofore only reserved for mad dashes to late trains. I honestly think my fat pants are now leaving indentions in my waist right now, but isn't that what the holidays are all about? (On another note, I've been hearing about Kate Moss' "nothing tastes as good as being thin feels" statement, and ... girlfriend is just WRONG. Obviously I am not condoning obesity but indulge yourself every once in a while; can I get an amen??)

Today's recipe comes to you courtesy of my roommate Brian's mother Madeline, with some added flair by me, per usual, this time in the form of a nod to "A Potato Dish for Julia" by Judith Jones (whose book The Pleasures of Cooking for One I received as a Christmas gift this year). The United Nation of Krysten & Jamie single-handedly polished off HALF the casserole dish, but instead of curling up for a carb-coma nap, I decided to drag myself to the computer to share the recipe.

Perfect Scalloped Potatoes

4 medium potatoes, sliced thinly with a mandolin (about 1/8"-1/4")
4 T flour whisked into 2 C of whole milk
1/2 onion, minced
3-4 garlic cloves, pressed or grated, then mashed with a hefty pinch of sea salt to form a paste
1 C grated cheddar or gruyere cheese, or a mixture
3 T butter, cut into small cubes
1 T parsley,
salt & pepper to taste

In a greased casserole dish layer half of the sliced potatoes, dot with half the butter and half the garlic paste, sprinkle with half the onions, salt, and pepper, and top with half of the grated cheese. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Pour the flour and milk mixture over to cover potatoes. Bake uncovered at 350 for 1 hour and serve sprinkled with fresh parsley (and if you're me, a dash of hot pepper flakes).

I dare you to only eat one helping.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

black bean soup with corn-avocado relish

Oh MY has it really been 3 months since I've updated? What a shame. I've been cooking, I swear! Just not posting.

At any rate, this soup is the easiest thing to make, and sooooo cheap (I call it "recession soup"), nutritious, and it's so delicious and hearty, but the corn relish still summers it up a bit. L-Ro asked me for the recipe, so L-Ro, this one's for you!

Black Bean Soup

2 or 3 cans black beans
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (I used the fire-roasted ones)
2 cups water or broth
2-3 big handfuls of a big leafy green (chard, kale, etc), rinsed well, deveined, finely chopped

heat olive oil in a large soup pot. add onions, garlic, and salt and sweat or sautee to your desired degree of doneness. seriously, you can't really mess this soup up. add beans, tomatoes, and liquid, and bring to a simmer. add the greens and bring back to a simmer, continue cooking until the greens have wilted. then use your immersion blender to puree to a smooth consistency (if you don't have an immersion blender you can use your food processor-- just do it in batches and make sure you cool it first).

Avocado-Corn Relish

1 cob corn
1 avocado
2-3 cloves raw garlic, microplaned or grated
1 generous handful of cilantro, including stems, finely chopped
green or red onions, finely minced
the juice and zest of 1 large lime (or 2 small ones)
generous pinch of sea salt
even more generous pinch of hot pepper flakes
2-3 glugs of olive oil

roast the corn in the oven- spray or rub it with a little olive oil, loosely wrap it in foil, and put it in a 450-degree oven for 30ish minutes. you could also do this on the grill, mmmm. to trim off the cob, use a bundt pan or a small bowl inverted into a bigger bowl, and slice it off the cob in vertical strips. some of it will stay in neat little chunks and other kernels will separate.

Note: I find finely chopping herbs for relishes and pestos to be easiest with my Ulu, but if you don't have one you can just chop and drop as normal.

In a bowl, combine the corn, diced avocado, garlic, lime zest and juice, salt, pepper flakes, and cilantro. Fold in olive oil with a fork to desired consistency.
Serve at room temperature over hot black bean soup.
Bonus recipe alert!! Serve over eggs in toast for breakfast:

Double your recession savings! You're welcome.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

caramelized cauliflower with slow-roasted tomatoes

As you all know, I really enjoy preparing a little dish I like to call "making do with what you have." As usual, I'm going out of town on Thursday for a couple of weeks, so instead of spending money on groceries, I'm forcing myself to be creative with what lies in the depths of my icebox and pantry. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up to my girl Amanda, who gave me the idea for a sundried tomato pesto which I have eaten at least 3x this week on various pastas and vegetables, and am currently contemplating putting it on eggs for breakfast.

This week I had the great fortune of reading Orangette's new book, A Homemade Life. I loved it soooo much that its only low point was that I devoured it in one sitting, instead of pushing it into leftovers for a week. It has all the wonder of a good dish-- delicate in some parts, meaty in others, and provided me good taste for my heart and nutrition for my soul.

I think Ms. Wizenburg (or can I call her Molly? she seems so personable!) would be proud to know I used not one but two of her recipes last night, and tweaked them to fit my needs. In my crisper sat a lone head of cauliflower, which is a lot for a recipe-for-one, but it really needed to be eaten. I contemplated soup (any excuse to use my immersion blender, you know), but that would have required a trip to the market for at the very least, an onion, so I decided to roast it.

Her recipe for roasted cauliflower (pg 273, or here) pairs with it a salsa verde that sounded scrumptious, but again, a trip to the store would have been necessary, so with Amanda's tomato pesto still fresh in my mind, I turned to a clamshell of sweet grape tomatoes and pg 193 (or here).

I had to go with grape tomatoes instead of romas, and they're so sweet I contemplated adding some vinegar (I have a lovely white balsamic, courtesy of Stonehouse, and my girlies Krysten and Chanelle), but in the end I'm glad I left as is. I had them all sliced and slick with olive oil when I realized I was out of coriander. This recipe notwithstanding, gasp. I adore coriander. But, bygones, not to be daunted by my threadbare cupboards, I settled on 2 huge garlic cloves, pressed, smoky cumin, hot red pepper flakes, and sea salt.

Oven at 200. Generally season oiled tomatoes with garlic, cumin, hot pepper, and salt, and roast for hours. Literally. I checked on them about every hour or so but I think I finally found them at their peak around 3 1/2. When Orangette states "rubies in fruit form," she ain't lying. It took a LOT of willpower not to eat the entire sweet, hot, smoky mess with slightly burnt fingers, right from the pan.

OK, now, oven to 450. Slice your cauliflower in slice in 1/4"-1/2" slices. A good deal of it will crumble away, but that's just snackies while you're waiting. Nestle loosely into a baking sheet, generously coated with olive oil (Orangette suggests using your fingers; I used a silicone brush) and sea salt. Roast 30-40 minutes, flipping once.

I sat near the oven for most of this process, with a glass of pinot grigio, flipping through her book, listening to the hissing, burbling, & popping of the cauliflower caramelizing in the oven. I like it well-done. I threw the pan of tomatoes back in the oven while I plated the cauliflower, just to heat them up, then drizzled the whole goopy mess over the cauliflower.

I fully intended to eat half and save the rest for today... but I didn't. I cleaned the plate and licked my fingers.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

portobello stroganoff with sundried tomatoes and spinach

I've been a vegetarian for about 2 years, and every once in a while, I encounter a dish I completely forgot about. This week it was beef stroganoff. I would never have called stroganoff a favourite dish of mine, but I liked it, and when I found a mushroom version on a menu in Austin, TX, I decided I had to make it. Yesterday's cold weather seemed perfect for thick egg noodles with a warm gravy sauce-- but I amped the nutrition with some added veggies.

I'm sad to say that I don't ever feel like my food blog will take off until I get a decent camera. It's near impossible to take a good detail photo with a digital point-and-shoot in the evening. The ambient light in the kitchen isn't strong enough, and the flash is way too much-- even if I "diffuse" it with a tissue. Any pointers, beyond spending money I don't have, would be much appreciated.

Gravy-based sauces are not quite as easy when you're not cooking with animal fat, but a good roux can take you a long way, and it's definitely a learned skill. This stroganoff is a bit easier because you incorporate the flour into the sour cream-- just remember to temper the sour cream mixture so it doesn't curdle when you add it to the skillet.

This may seem like a lot of ingredients, but assemble them ahead of time-- it all comes together rather quickly.

4 servings dried egg noodles
3T butter (or olive oil)
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 large portobello mushroom caps, wiped clean and coarsely diced
+ 1/2 C dried creminis or porcinis, reconstituted in hot water and finely chopped
(reserve mushroom liquid for broth)
2-3 huge handfuls of fresh spinach
1/2 C julienned sun-dried tomatoes

for the sauce:
1+ C of veg broth (with mushroom liquid should add up to about 1 1/2 C)
1/2-1 C sour cream
3T all-purpose flour
fresh thyme
1-2T white wine
2-3 healthy dashes of worcestershire sauce
2 T tomato paste

First, set up your pasta water to boil (you'll do it right before you serve) and mix the 3T flour with 1/2-1 C of sour cream in a small glass bowl. Set aside.

In your largest skillet, melt butter over medium heat, and sweat onions and garlic in a large pinch of sea salt. When they start to turn translucent, add both kinds of mushrooms and a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme. Sautee for a few minutes, until the mushrooms are cooked through. Add in the sundried tomatoes, cook for a few more minutes, then add spinach. Once the spinach is barely wilted, transfer to a dish on the side.... you'll add the veggies back to the sauce later. (Don't forget to fish out the thyme stems!)

Deglaze the skillet with a dash of white wine, making sure to scrape up any bit of cooked onion and mushrooms. Add broth, worcestershire sauce, and tomato paste, bring to a boil, and reduce mixture by 1/3. At this point, turn the heat to very, very low, and temper your sour cream mixture. (If you've never tempered a sauce before, it basically means to stir in a ladle or so of the hot liquid to the sour cream to warm it up before dumping it into the sauce, or else the dairy will curdle in the skillet). Pour the warmed sour cream and flour into the broth, and stir to thicken. It will need to cook for a minute or two to avoid the raw flour taste. Once it's cooked through (feel free to take a taste test!), add the veggies back in, and leave on low heat while you cook your noodles.

Serve over egg noodles and garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of fresh thyme leaves or chopped parsley.

Make your partner do the dishes. Delicious!~