Saturday, December 04, 2010

skillet carrots

Sweet Lord baby Jesus, you guys. I just ate about a pound of cooked carrots. Truly.

COOKED CARROTS? That sounds deplorable.

But I saw this recipe on Orangette's food blog, and seriously, that girl has never steered me wrong. And I love thyme. So I gave it a shot. Honestly, I think the French (and Orangette) are just genius.

I decided to use a mixture of carrots and parsnips (about 2:1) because the lonely parsnips at the market always make me so sad. Have you ever had one? It's sort of like a carrot, and sort of like a potato, and has that good, solid, earthy feel & taste that we gravitate toward in the foggy winter months. I love them.

I also used white balsamic vinegar because for some unholy reason my pantry is out of red wine vinegar (an injustice that will be remedied on my next trip out the door). It was fine-- the vinegar just sort of brightens the dish, not flavors it. But I think red wine vinegar would have been better. Oh, and while I was cooking, this happened:

So that took some time. And some sweeping. And I'm still crunching sea salt under my feet every time I walk into the kitchen. LE SIGH.

2 large carrots
1 large parsnip
1 white onion
4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
sea salt
olive oil
1 tsp red wine vinegar

Large flat-bottomed skillet with a lid

So you take a skillet, and heat up some olive oil. A little more than you think. Really coat the bottom of the pan. When it's hot, throw in 1/2 a white onion, cut stem to root (like this; as Orangette points out, it's very important to the integrity of the onion). Let the onions soften a while-- she says don't brown them but what is better than caramelized onions? so I just let them go to town while I sliced my carrots and parsnips.

Add the carrots, parsnips, thyme, and a generous pinch (or two) of sea salt. Toss to coat everything well and cover.

Let stew/sautee/steam for 15-20 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Test with a toothpick. They're ready when they reach your desired texture. I prefer them a little al dente myself, but it's totally up to you.

Sprinkle with vinegar, give a quick stir, and remove from heat. Serve immediately.

Note: this recipe should make 2-3 side servings, but I ate the entire thing by myself. Don't judge. At least I'm eating my vegetables.

Monday, November 15, 2010

the lazy frittata

There are many not-so-wonderful things about being single, but there are many wonderful things as well, and since I'm a glass-half-full kinda gal, I choose to be happy about the fact that one of the greatest things about being single is that I always get to eat what I want, when I want it. I don't have to take any one else's stomach, or allergies, or nutritional needs, or whims into consideration except my own, and I, for one, like having complete control over my food and drink intake.

There have been many books written on this subject by far better cooks and far better writers than I-- Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant, for one, and The Pleasures of Cooking for One, for another-- but I'm here today to tell you about the lazy frittata.

The down side of cooking for one is cleaning for one. Sometimes you don't want to make a huge mess in the kitchen for something that's going to last all of 10 minutes and be shared with no one. So I've taught myself some tricks and shortcuts, and this frittata is one of my laziest. As I almost always have leftovers, the veggies and sometimes the cheese are hanging out in the refrigerator already prepared, so besides something to beat the eggs in, I only use one pan and one plate. (And honestly, I've been known to eat it from the pan!)

olive oil or butter
2 eggs, beaten with a T of milk or water or ahem... half & half if that's what you have on hand
leftover vegetable(s) of your choice
leftover herb(s) of your choice
some sort of cheese
salt & pepper

Preheat your broiler. Heat a swirl of olive oil over medium heat, and toss in whatever vegetables and/or fresh herbs you have on hand. Today I used 3 large handfuls of baby spinach and some green onions. Mushrooms and thyme would also delicious, as are zucchini and dill, roasted tomatoes and red onions, or any combination of what you have available. Season with salt & pepper. Once the veggies are cooked through, pour the egg mixture over the top and turn the heat to low. Don't touch!

Let cook until you can slide a spatula around the edges and see that it's done on the bottom. Now, sprinkle the (still raw) top with cheese (today I used a gruyere/emmenthaler mixture left over from fondue night, but anything you have will do) and more pepper, because you can never have too much black pepper with eggs, and pop under the broiler -- ***making sure you leave the handle sticking out or wrap it in foil*** and finish cooking until the top is golden brown and delicious. Serve immediately and then wash your one pan!

Friday, November 05, 2010

preserved lemon vinaigrette

So, I've been in the South for 3 weeks. Chattanooga, New Orleans, Atlanta. And don't get me wrong... I LOVE the South. I'm FROM the South. But I haven't seen a vegetable that wasn't deep-fried and/or drowned in ranch dressing for weeks, and my body could not be happier to get back to California, where the drawstring on my yoga pants seems to have shrunk. :/

So yesterday I made a nice veggie-based soup, a bunch of fruit, and bought salad greens. Hellooo FIBER! Yesssss! I never buy pre-made salad dressing because A) I think it's gross and B) I don't like to eat the same thing all the time and then it goes bad.

I'm leaving in 4 days so my staples are pretty sparse, but there's a lovely jar of preserved lemons in the fridge that I made on a whim last time I was home, when lemons were 5 for $1. You can find the recipe here and I must say that while they turned out deliciously, I don't really know what to do with them since I don't eat chicken and they kind of are made for a tangine.

But I poked around a little and came up with a simply delightful salad dressing that is making my lunch zing. It may me a little on the tart side for some of you (I love my acid) so maybe dial down the lemon juice and dial up the olive oil a tad.

Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette
1 t minced shallot
2 T chopped preserved lemons (recipe here)
1 t whole-grain mustard
2 T fresh lemon juice
1-2 T extra virgin olive oil (the greener the better)
dash of freshly cracked pepper
caveat: the lemons are very, very salty, so don't add any extra until you've tasted it. I didn't need any, and that's very unusual for me.

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and build your salad on top. I used mixed greens, thin slivers of zucchini, and an asian pear, because that's what I had on hand, but I think it would really work well with chickpeas, cucumbers, and tomatoes, or perhaps a simple spinach, red onion, and walnut combo. The sky's the limit-- lemon goes with everything.

Monday, August 30, 2010

creamy white bean soup with leeks

I've said it before and I'll say it again-- one of my very favourite things about San Francisco is that it's almost always soup weather! I just love soup. You know what else I love? White beans. And leeks. And my Epicurious app on my iPhone.

"Do you have a kinder, more adaptable friend in the world than soup?" ~Miss Manners

This recipe is super easy and cheap. It was adapted from a recipe I found on Epicurious, which was adapted from a recipe in Gourmet magazine in 1991. I, of course, tweaked it to fit my needs, taste buds, and pantry, the main differences being omitting the dairy and that the original recipe called for tarragon, which I find far too licorice-y. But, if you like tarragon, by all means use it where I used thyme.

an immersion blender
soup pot

2 cans cannellini beans
2 C vegetable stock
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 tsp dried thyme
the juice of 1 large lemon, strained and divided
olive oil
hot pepper flakes
salt & pepper


Thinly slice your leeks (first make sure then are properly cleaned). Heat to medium a hefty swirl of olive oil in your soup pot, and thrown in the leeks, a couple of pinches of salt, and a pinch of hot pepper flakes. Toss to coat well and then let caramelize, 3-4 minutes. The rings will start to break apart and get nice brown bits on them. Add the garlic and toss well again, to brown the bits that haven't browned yet.

In the meantime, put the two cans of beans, undrained, into a mixing bowl with 2C of vegetable stock, and 1 tsp of dried thyme. Using your immersion blender, blend to a smooth consistency.

Back in your soup pot, deglaze the bottom with half of your lemon juice, scraping up all the little yummy bits of garlic and leek. Add the pureed beans and drop the heat down to medium-low. Heat up to serving temperature (do not boil). Taste and adjust seasoning. Once you pull the soup from the heat, stir in the remaining lemon juice and serve!

Note: I am extremely lazy when cooking for one, bu
t if I was serving this to people I would have pan-fried some leeks on the side and put a few on the top. It would also be delicious with a handful of garlicky croutons.

Friday, August 27, 2010

okey dokey artichokey

I love artichokes. LOOOOOVE. When I saw this big daddy at the farmers' market for $0.99, I pounced. I wanted SO badly to make homemade mayonnaise to dip it in, but sadly, I gave up after reading 30 recipes, watching 7 videos, and 2 actual failed attempts. If I ever figure it out, I promise you guys will be the first to know.

So instead, you get a very, VERY easy lemon-tahini sauce recipe. Which turned out to be just exquisite, and perfect with the artichoke. You could also thin it out with some hot water to make a nice tangy salad dressing.

(PS> to steam an artichoke, cut the bottom off so it will sit flat, cut the top off, and trim any thorns off the outer leaves. Sit in a couple of inches of simmering water for 20-40 minutes based on the size of your artichoke. It's done when a leaf comes off easily. I read to put some lemon juice in the water to keep it bright green but that didn't work for me... maybe next time I'll throw in a half a lemon instead of just squeezing the juice?)

small food processor

about 1/4 C of tahini
juice of 1/2 lemon-1 lemonsalt
1 clove garlic, pressed, grated, or microplaned
pinch of hot pepper flakes (optional)

Put tahini, about half of your lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and the garlic in your food processor and pulse several times. Taste, and adjust for lemon and salt, then serve!

Monday, August 23, 2010

how to cook a perfect steak in your apartment (sans grill)

Remember when I taught Tom how to cook salmon? That was like a hundred years ago and now he cooks more than I do! But I liked the idea of laying out the basics so someone can take off and do his/her own thing in the kitchen, so today I'm going to teach y'all how to cook the perfect steak without a grill. It CAN be done in your studio apartment, with just a few spatters.

OK, so yes, I'm MOSTLY a vegetarian. But I have been trying to eat meat once a week, for the iron, and Trader Joe's sells these lovely 6-ish oz filets that are free-range, organic, vegetarian-fed, and affordable.

Tonight's menu is roasted potatoes, kale, and filet mignon-- and BOURBON. God, it's been too long since I've had a bourbon: 2 fingers, on the rocks, with a twist. *sigh*

a cast-iron skillet (this is a must-- do NOT use a non-stick skillet)
a splatter-guard
a kitchen timer

vegetable oil

While your potatoes are roasting, let your steak(s) rest to room temperature, and season liberally with salt & pepper. Heat, to high-medium-high, about 1 T of vegetable oil and 1 T of butter per steak in your cast iron skillet. Make sure you use an oil with a high smoke point, like corn or canola, as you want your skillet screamin' hot. Using tongs in one hand and the splatter guard in the other, lay the steak in the hot buttery oil. Slam the splatter guard down and DON'T TOUCH IT. You want the fat to caramelize the meat. If you're anything like me, you'll be tempted to move it, but DON'T. Timing you will need to play around with-- on my gas stovetop for a smallish steak (6-8 oz) to get rare-to-medium-rare, I do 2 min on the first side and 90 seconds on the second side. Remember you can always cook it more and you can never cook it less, so err on the side of caution at first.

Remove it from the heat and set it aside covered in a foil tent while you finish plating your meal. It needs to rest for a couple of minutes.

My trick for the greens-- steam them lightly on the side while you're searing the steak and while the steak is resting, throw the greens around in the greasy cast-iron skillet. It will make a big ruckus and splatter oil everywhere but it will be totally worth it, and by worth it I mean DELICIOUS.

My roasted potatoes: get the teeny tiny white ones (about the diameter of a quarter), toss with olive oil, salt & pepper, and roast at 400 for about 40 minutes until they are done (test with a toothpick).


my post-yoga lunch: Trader Joe's Thai Vegetable Gyoza over a bed of edamame, roasted sweet potatoes, and a side of homemade pickled radishes. NOM.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

cioccolato all'arancia gelato

Maybe most of you don't think of making ice cream in December, but in Arizona, there's really no reason to not think about ice cream, ever. We made more than one absolutely DIVINE batch of candy cane ice cream around Christmastime, but I failed to get any photographs, as it was devoured in its entirety practically as soon as it came out of the freezer.

This week, with memories of Gelateria Ponte alla Carraia (revived by a dark chocolate orange tucked into a stocking on Christmas morning) in my head, I decide to try my hand at cioccolato all'arancia (chocolate-orange).

I typically make Philadelphia-style ice cream (no egg, does not require cooking) but that's because I'm lazy. And while Philly style turns out fluffy and snowy and and delicate (and perfectly acceptable for peppermint and fruit flavours), I really prefer chocolate ice cream to be denser and richer and creamier, so I went the custard-style route. I must admit, I was not disappointed. And by "not disappointed," I mean "ecstatic."

(photo credit, Gherkin's Bucket)

2 C heavy cream
2 C whole milk
3/4 C sugar
2 egg yolks at room temperature, whisked slightly with a fork
3/4 C - 1 C shaved dark chocolate, at least 60%
1 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 T grand marnier or 1 1/2 t orange extract or 3-4 drops orange essential oil

In a large sauce pan over medium-low heat, mix milk, cream, and sugar. When tiny bubbles barely begin to form around the edges of the pan, back the heat down (you don't want it to boil), temper the egg, and add back to the pan. Incorporate the shaved chocolate into the warm milk mixture in batches, stirring until completely melted. Remove from heat, stir in extracts, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or until completely cool. Then, freeze according to your ice cream maker's directions, and store in the freezer until it's at your desired serving consistency.

Note: I think this dessert would be very lovely if garnished with curls of orange zest, if one can be bothered to serve it in actual dishes rather than eating it out of a coffee mug like we do it at Chez Moi.