Friday, February 19, 2010

Simply Pasta

I was craving pasta. And I haven't been able to keep my mind off of this recipe for Spaghetti with Cheese and Black Pepper from smittenkitchen.

I followed the recipe (almost) exactly. I cut it in half. And I used white pepper for part of it (since the recipe said finely group and my pepper grinder doesn't do 'fine ground' - think I'll try it with more of a half and half mix of the white and black next time, but I do like the white pepper).

Very simple. Very delicious.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lentils and Sausage (enough said)

I like lentils and stuff. I really do. But somehow, I like them better with a little meat. But usually, it's one or the other. Until I found this recipe for Lentil Stew with Sausage at Simply Recipes. Irresistable.

I wasn't up for leaving the apartment, so I had to make a few substitutions/changes

  • I had no bacon, so I left it out (which was fine, but I'm sure bacon would have made it better - bacon makes everything better)
  • I used a combo of red lentils and mung beans (since that was what I had)
  • No chicken stock, but I actually had some veggie stock instead
  • I used spicy sausge (because it's awesome)
  • I'm out of sherry vinegar (which is a tragedy, one should always have some around), I reached in to get the cider vinegar, but on the way there, I saw my Outerbridge Sherry Pepper sauce (which I discovered while making Bermuda Fish Chowder (which is awesome) and figuring that you only live once (and that it's awesome), I substituted that
  • No parsley, so I put in a half pound of baby spinach (added it after I turned off the heat and just let it 'cook' in the heat of the stew, which worked really well

It's very, very different from most lentil stuff that I eat (I tend to head straight for the curry powder when I see lentils), and I love it. It's a fabulous lunch!

Chicken - Just Chicken... and Salt (More Farmers Market Adventures)

I don't eat chicken. Really ever. It's not a moral issue. It's taste. It's just not that good.

On Sunday, I was enjoying a beautiful sunny day and so I walked up to the far Farmers Market (they've got more variety than mine (including kimchi!!), but they're multiple blocks away (okay, I'm spoiled with my market)). One guy had both white meats. I was asking him what other cuts of pork he had (unfortunately, not that much), so he started selling me on his ~4lb chickens (free range, vegetarian feed, never been frozen). Oh yes, I'm a sucker. Back at home, I had to send an emergency email to some friends (roughly: Help, I accidentally bought a chicken, can you come to dinner tomorrow? -- turns out that accidentally buying a chicken is somewhat unusual, but all 3 said that they would come).

I had roasted a chicken once before. I used Thomas Keller's recipe which basically says, put a bunch of salt and a little pepper on it and cook it. I also put in a dish of veggies (carrots, fingerling potatoes, onions), which I think plays a bit of havoc with his recipe (he's very big on the chicken being dry and I'm guessing that the veggies put a little extra water in the oven - but I think it's worth it to get the veggies). It was serioiusly the simplist meal I have ever served for guests (roast chicken, roasted veggies, and individual apple crisps (I'm a bit addicted to them)). And it was awesome!! It went over really well.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Green Curry Scallops

More scallops to be creative with - and tonight I felt like green curry. It's a great winter comfort food - thick, rich and spicy. I was worried about scallops in the curry as I thought that it might overcook them - but next time, I'm going to try it. This time though, what I did was make them separately.

Green Curry Scallops
This is the basic green curry recipe, with the protein and veggies decided by what looked good at the market

2 cans coconut milk (brand is important here, I use Chaokoh – as that won for me in the taste test that we did in Kasma’s cooking class (which I HIGHLY recommend as a way to learn how to cook real Thai food)
2 Tbsp green curry paste (I use Mae Ploy brand)
Fish sauce – to taste (I use Golden Boy brand)
Palm sugar – to taste (Brand doesn’t seem to matter here)
½ head of cabbage
2 carrots
2 lbs scallops

  1. Open one of the cans of coconut milk and scoop out the Crisco-like stuff on the top (it’s the oil); heat this in a 5+ quart pan
  2. Once the coconut oil starts to turn clear and bubble, add the green curry paste; stir the two around and cook until fragrant
  3. Add the rest of the coconut milk (~1 ½ cans at this point), mix
  4. Gradually add some fish sauce (I think I ended up with about 2T) and palm sugar (I think I ended up with about 1T) – mix it and taste, stop when you’ve got a balance of salty and sweet that let’s the heat really come through
  5. Add the vegetables (I actually sautéed the cabbage, but I was experimenting, I think dumping it in would be fine too)
  6. I cooked the scallops separately (seared them ~3 minutes on each first side), then poured the curry over them and the quinoa (which I now pretty much always use

Farmers Market Dinner (Scallops & Apple Crisp)

The fish guys keep showing up at the Farmer's Market near my apartment with scallops. I keep buying them. I've made a bunch of different things with them - but this Seared Scallops with Asian lime Chile Sauce ends up being my 'go-to' recipe. It's super-easy and I have most of the ingredients right on hand (need to remember to squeeze lime juice into ice cube trays and freeze!). Simple and delicious.

Tonight, I steamed baby bok choy (organic, again from the Farmers Market) with a bit of the Sauce. It was yummy.

Then for a totally-non-flavor-matching (but Farmers Market focused) dessert, I made Apple Crisp. I recently gave into my whim and bought a bunch of Le Cruset mini-stoneware pans. They are practically purpose-less, but very cute. The great thing is that I'm using them to drive my imagination. I 'modified' my mom's Apple Crisp recipe to make

Individual Apple Crisps
This is the ultimate in flexible, make as many as you need (plus one extra as it's glorious cold for breakfast the next day)

Cooking apples (I've been using Fuji, but for next time I actually bought a variety) – For my 8oz pans, I use 3 large apples for 5 pans (cut the apples into half slices, and pile them high – they’ll shrink down)
1 portion flour (for the five mini-pans, I used ½ cup)
1 portion brown sugar (for the five mini-pans, I used ½ cup)
1 portion butter ((for the five mini-pans, I used ½ stick) okay, this is a bit confusing, the base proportion is 1:1:1 which is 1 cup:1 cup:1 stick (a stick is actually half a cup, but it makes it hard to remember if you measure your butter in cups, so measure it in sticks)

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Cut up the apples – I cut them into 1/20th slices (so, I quarter the apple and then try to get five slices out of each quarter) and then cut the slices in half – divide into the mini-pans
  3. Mix the flour, brown sugar and butter (it’s easier if the butter is a little soft, but not soft) by hand until you’ve got a nice crumble top – divide on to apples
  4. Sprinkle each with a bit of cinnamon
  5. Bake for 40-45 minutes