Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Simple Celeriac Gratin

Celeriac Gratin

Found myself with three celery roots in the crisper drawer the other day. Also in the fridge: rather too much heavy cream. Hence this gratin. Simple, rich, quite tasty as dinner with a salad. I put this in a small 6x8 baking dish but I bet it would scale up well, and next time I have a lot of celery root kicking around, I'm definitely making this again.

Celeriac Gratin
serves 2-4 as a side dish

3 medium celery roots (celeriacs), peeled and sliced 1/4" thick
1 1/2 - 2 cups heavy cream
salt and pepper
2 ounces gruyere cheese, grated
butter for the baking dish

Preheat the oven to 375.

Put the sliced celery roots in a sauce pan and add enough cream to almost cover them. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer over medium high heat, then reduce the heat and let cook, stirring a couple of times, for 15-20 minutes until the celery root is tender when pierced with a knife.

Butter a 2 quart baking dish, and transfer the celery root to the dish. Pour the cream over it, but you might not want to use all the cream - it's ok if the top layer of celery root isn't covered. Shred the cheese and put that on top. Stick it in the oven for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan and cook another 15-20 minutes or until the top is richly browned. Let stand 5-10 minutes (until no longer bubbling), then serve.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Carbs in Carbs

Pierogis for dinner, sides of sauerkraut and braised collards. Aww yeah.

Last night's dinner. Peirogies, that is, mashed potato inside pasta. From this recipe, served with sauerkraut* and CSA collards, which I braised in leftover corned beef cooking liquid. Just right for yesterday's gray skies.

*We have rather a lot of 'kraut kicking around from the fermentation class I taught last week. I sent plenty home with students but I find myself with nearly half a gallon of the stuff. As it is not hot dog season, I'm at a bit of a loss as to what to do with it all. Suggestions? Soup recipes? Help me out, friends.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Cavatelli with Sausage, Radicchio and Bread Crumbs

After outstanding staff meal of pasta this afternoon, I decided dinner should be MOAR PASTA ZOMG!

Solo dinner night, so I get to eat pork - hot italian sausage, specifically. But I also found myself with an abundance of creme fraiche, a head of fancy radicchio, and a craving for pasta, hence this dish.

Cavatelli with Sausage, Radicchio and Bread Crumbs
serves 2, or one hungry lady with leftovers for lunch

1/2 pound cavatelli or other curly type pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
4-5 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 pound hot italian sausage, casings removed (squeeze it toothpaste style!)
1 small head radicchio (treviso if you can find it), cut into 1/4-1/2 inch ribbons
1 cup creme fraiche
freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs, toasted in a toaster oven until dark golden brown (careful not to burn them!)
freshly grated parmesan

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When it's boiling, drop the pasta. Cook until a minute less than it says on the box or until just before al dente.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat and add the green onions, saute 1-2 minutes. Add the sausage, and cook until brown, breaking up into small pieces. Move the sausage and onions to the outside edges of the pan and add the radicchio to the center. Cook until wilted, then stir. Add the creme fraiche, it will melt rapidly, just stir it in. Let the whole mess bubble until thickened, or until the pasta is almost cooked.

When the pasta is still firm, use a large slotted spoon or a spider to remove it from the water and add it to the skillet. Stir it all up, let it simmer until the pasta is cooked all the way (less than a minute). Remove to a plate, top with bread crumbs for crunch and parmesan for added deliciousness.

NB: you probably won't need to add salt, given the saltiness of the sausage, but taste it as you go and add salt if necessary.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Ras al Hanout Roasted Chicken Thighs with Warm Carrot Arugula Salad

300: Ras al Hanout Chicken

Oof, long recipe title. Tasty dinner, though. We had some chicken thighs that I got super lazy about Sunday night (that is, we got pizza during all the football and didn't eat anything later). So tonight I resorted to my recent favorite chicken cooking method: season, sear, roast. Usually I just season with salt and pepper, cook, and then build a quick sauce in the skillet when the chicken is done (deglaze with wine, add mustard and cream or creme fraiche, whisk).

There's nothing wrong with a mustard cream sauce, but tonight I knew I wanted something warmly spicy, and I turned to Ras al Hanout, a North African spice blend. Ingredients vary from blend to blend, and in fact Ras al Hanout is Arabic for "top of the shop" meaning the spice shop owner mixes it from the best things in the shop. Using the old reliable sniff test, I can tell you mine contains cinnamon, coriander and cumin, but probably a few other things too. I know my jar isn't very spicy so I added cayenne for kick, but if you blend your own you can make it as spicy or cinnamony as you like.

I found myself with rather a lot of carrots in the fridge, and I thought a warm salad with wilted arugula would be nice, and I just built it as I went. The onion from beneath the chicken brings the flavors from the skillet into the salad and ties the whole thing together.

Ras al Hanout Roasted Chicken Thighs with Warm Carrot Arugula Salad
serves 4, or two with leftovers

for the chicken:
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons ras al hanout
1/4 teaspoon cayenne or more to taste
hearty pinch of salt
1 small red onion, sliced (not too thinly)

for the salad:
2-3 pounds carrots or a mix of carrots and parsnips, peeled and cut into 2 inch lengths, then quartered or cut into six wedges if large
1 cup walnuts, toasted
8 ounces baby arugula
2 ounces feta cheese, diced or crumbled
1/2 a lime, juice only
salt and pepper
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400.

Mix together the olive oil, ras al hanout, salt and cayenne into a thin paste. Rub all over the chicken thighs until thoroughly coated and set aside (don't refrigerate) while you peel and cut the carrots.

Toss the carrots with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and a big pinch of salt and pepper, spread on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. Toss to redistribute and see if they're done; they'll probably need another 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Add the chicken (if there's a lot of excess spice paste, leave it in the bowl, but no need to wipe them off or anything), skin side down. It should sizzle aggressively. Cook for 5-8 minutes until it releases easily from the pan. Remove the chicken from the pan and add the onion, then put the chicken back in, skin side up now, more or less covering the onion. I actually just picked up each piece, tossed a quarter of the onion slices under it, and flipped the chicken piece. Put the skillet in the oven and roast until the chicken is cooked through, another 20 minutes or so. A meat thermometer inserted into the meaty part (but not touching the bone) should read 165 or more. Take the chicken out and remove it to a plate to let it rest for 5-10 minutes before eating.

If you've timed it right, the chicken and the carrots will be done around the same time. It's ok if they're not, though. If the carrots are done before the chicken you can always stick the carrots back in to warm up while the chicken rests. If the chicken is done first, no worries, it needs to rest.

Now we combine the tasty things! Put the arugula and walnuts in a bowl. Add the warm carrots and any carroty roasting liquid amassed on the baking sheet. Scoop the onions out of the chicken pan and add them to the salad, squeeze the lime over the whole thing. Toss to combine. If you need more dressing, scoop some of the liquid from the chicken roasting skillet into the salad. Add the feta and toss gently, and serve.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Thoughts on NaBloPoMo

298: Oiled Up

So. I did it again. Last year I was a little frantic about completing NaBloPoMo, but this year I tried to just enjoy it and I was pretty successful. In fact, just like last year, I liked the diversion from my more-or-less standard blog MO. I used to feel bad if I didn't post in the order of photograph, anecdote, headnote, recipe, but I think I'm going to have to let that slide for good. I'll still share recipes, of course, but would anybody mind if I post the occasional photo-only post? Or if every once in a while I tell you what I'm up to at work intead of telling you what I had for dinner?

I've been sort of bored with this space lately, which is why I was absent for, oh, all of October, but I think part of it is because the world of food blogs has become so saturated and I can't help but feel competitive. What if my picture isn't as pretty? What if my cookies aren't tied just so with perfect baker's twine or my story isn't as funny/poignant/heartfelt/tearjerking? What if my recipes include weird hard to find ingredients or make too-frequent use of leftovers and what if you don't have the same leftovers? If nothing else, NaBloPoMo has taught me that I still like blogging, even if none of my anything is "as good as" anybody else's. Does that make sense? The point is, I hope to see you here more frequently than I did over the summer.

Incidentally, have you oiled up your wooden spoons and cutting boards lately? It's winter, and just like you they could probably use some moisturizer (douse them with mineral oil, wait an hour, wipe off the excess with a paper towel).

Friday, November 30, 2012

Fermentation Station

Fermentation station.

This corner of my kitchen is full of bubbling jars. Further prep for my seminar next week. Kimchi getting tangy and cukes on their way to sour. There's creme fraiche, corned beef and gravlax in the fridge. This weekend: yogurt, pickled grapes, cultured butter. I'm getting psyched.

Thoughts on NaBloPoMo will have to wait until tomorrow, but I do have some thoughts to share. Thanks for reading along this month, it's been fun for me and I hope you've enjoyed it.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Coconut Curry Mussels

296: Coconut curried mussels

I had rather a lot to do tonight to prep for that pickle seminar I'm teaching at work next week. I started kimchi and gravlax tonight, woo! But that means I needed a fast dinner. Mussels may seem labor intensive (and ok, if you get a grubby batch they might require a fair amount of scrubbing) but they cook in five minutes or less. How can you beat that?

Coconut Curry Mussels
serves 2

I'm a big fan of moules frites, that is mussels and french fries, but this was supposed to be one of those quick and easy type dinners and I didn't feel like frying, so I just halved some fingerling potatoes, tossed them with some oil and salt and stuck them in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes. I mixed some sriracha and mayonnaise together and we dipped the taters in that. That and some sliced baguette (you know, for extra starch) to sop up the unspeakably delicious sauce  in the bottom of the pot and you've got dinner.

PS, the deal with mussels is if they are open and do not close when you tap them, don't eat them. Once they are cooked, don't eat the ones that remain closed. I don't soak mussels or anything (soaking saltwater creatures in fresh water will only suffocate them, yes?), I just scrub them under cold running water right before I want to eat them.

2 lbs mussels, scrubbed, beards removed if necessary
1 onion, diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon thai red curry paste (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon chili garlic paste (or more to taste)
1 14.5 ounce coconut milk
1 large handful cilantro, chopped

Heat a large heavy pot with a tight fitting lid over medium high heat. Add the oil then the onion and saute until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant. Add the chili paste and curry paste and stir stir stir until well distributed, cook for another minutes. Add the coconut milk - shake the can before you open it, and be sure to scoop any clumps into the pan, they'll melt down.

Bring the sauce to a simmer. You can turn the heat down and let it cook for a few minutes if you need to finish scrubbing the mussels; it's ok if it thickens up a bit. Once you're ready with the mussels, turn the heat back up to medium high, wait for the liquid to bubble assertively, and add the mussels. Stir to distribute the mussels, then cover the pot. The mussels will open when they have cooked, check them after four minutes, and if only a few have opened, stir them to redistribute (or put the lid back on and shake the pan - mine's too heavy for that) and cook another minute. Remove the lid, add the cilantro and stir, then serve with bread for sopping and potatoes if you like.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Golden Fruitcake


You have been led to believe that fruitcake is icky. You have been told that it is heavy and leaden and will sit like an anvil in your stomach. You have been told that only German grandmothers like fruitcake, and that they make too much of it and that you'd better run and hide when the mailman limps up to your door hauling a ten pound, loaf-shaped package from Oma. People, you have been misled.

As it turns out, fruitcake can be delightful. This particular fruitcake is actually pretty light, considering it's 50% dried fruit soaked in brandy. My mom (hi mom!) got a bee in her bonnet about fruitcake a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, so after the big day we hauled out the mixer and made a double batch of this recipe from King Arthur Flour. And lo, it was delicious. Plus it glows like a stained glass window:

295: See Through Cherry!

Golden Fruitcake
adapted from King Arthur Flour

Mom had a longish list of people who should receive a fruitcake, so we made a double batch and I measured by weight (regular sized batch appears below). I have a Pro series KA mixer with a 6 quart bowl and the double batch filled it to the brim, so heads up. Also, a double batch filled 12 mini loaf pans (5"x2"), plus 2 small loaf pans (7"x2.5") and 1 regular loaf pan (8.5"x4.5"). I assume a regular sized batch will fill, uh, half that? The point is, it's a large recipe already. Mini loaves are easier for giving to other people, though, I think. Incidentally, this recipe uses a really interesting extract called Fiori di Sicilia which to me smells like excellent panettone.

We also bought mixed dried fruit from KAF; in addition to the fruits below it includes pineapple and date, so if you want to chop your own, feel free to include those as well.Feel free to mix and match fruit to your heart's delight, but please don't skip the candied cherries. They are the prettiest.

5 cups mixed dried fruit of your preference (20-25 ounces), OR:
  2 cups golden raisins (10ish ounces)
  1 cup dried cranberries (4ish ounces)
  1 cup dried apricots, diced small (4ish ounces)
  1 cup chopped candied citrus peel (4ish ounces)
1 1/2 cups candied cherries (10ish ounces)
1/2 cup brandy (or rum or yes I suppose you could use apple juice, but why?)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine the fruit (except the cherries), booze and extract in a bowl. Stir to combine and let sit overnight.

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
1 3/4 cups sugar (12.25 ounces)
1/4 cup light corn syrup (2.75 ounces)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmet
1/8 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia if you have it
5 large eggs
3 3/4 cups all purpose flour (13 3/4 ounces)
1 cup whole milk
2 cups chopped pecans 
More brandy (or the liquor of your choice) for brushing

Preheat the oven to 300. Spray your chosen loaf pans with non-stick spray. You may wish to have a few extra loaf pans around, I was surprised at just how many we got out of the batch.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg in a bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and corn syrup. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the flour in three additions alternately with the milk, starting and ending with the flour. When the last flour addition is mostly incorporated but you can still see some white spots, add the booze-soaked fruit, then the cherries and the nuts, allowing the mixer to do its thing and not adding everything all at once lest it spill all over the dang counter.

Fill the sprayed loaf pans 3/4 full. I suggest you put them all on a sheet pan for ease of transfer from counter to oven. Bake for as long as it takes for them to get golden, and for a tester inserted in the center to come out clean. Small ones will take about an hour, mediums ten minutes more and large loaves probably in the 90 minute range. Don't be afraid to put them back in for a few minutes if they're not golden all over. Fruitcake is a slow, old fashioned confection that can't be rushed.

Once they're out of the oven, let them cool for 15 minutes or so, brush them with more brandy, then pop them out of the pans and let them cool to room temp. Feel free to brush them more than once (I did!). Allow to cool completely, then wrap tightly in plastic. We popped ours back into the mini paper pans we baked them in so they'd be cuter for gifting. Fruitcake will keep for a month as long as you brush it with more brandy once a week or so.

Slice thinly when serving, preferably alongside a cup of coffee or tea or maybe a hot toddy. Be filled with holiday cheer.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

Unpretty Food

I used up the last of the turkey today, woo! Turkey pot pie with onion, carrot, parsnip, mushrooms and peas and instead of building a sauce from scratch I used the last of the gravy. It was a good choice. However, it was not pretty.

You know how it is. Sometimes your pie crust doesn't roll smoothly. Sometimes you throw it on top of your stew anyway and then the stew bubbles up around it and obscures 80% of the crust. Sometimes dinner is delicious and homely so you don't take any pictures. Alas.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Peanuty Turkey Salad Lettuce Wraps

Tday leftovers

We're back in Boston tonight, but worry not, Mom sent us home with a boatload of Thanksgiving leftovers (24 lb turkey for the five of us, ahem). Tomorrow night I'll probably make a turkey pot pie or something along those classic leftover lines, but first I wanted something light and crunchy and with flavors I hadn't tasted for a few days. Of course, it totally hit the spot so I ate it all before I took pictures of my plate, so here's the lunch I packed for tomorrow.

I went with peanuts and cilantro and lime, wrapped in lettuce for freshness, and a carrot slaw on the side  for crunch. Plus rice, because between potatoes and sweet potatoes and dinner rolls and sandwich bread I haven't had enough starch this week.

Peanuty Turkey Salad

3ish cups leftover turkey, shredded or diced (I used one giant thigh)
1 green onion, white and green parts, minced
1-2" knob fresh ginger, minced or grated
1 clove garlic, minced
small handful cilantro, chopped
small handful mint, chopped (if you have it)
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1-2 tablespoons sriracha (more if you like it spicy)
1 lime

For serving: 
green leaf or Boston lettuce leaves
lime wedges
steamed white rice
carrot slaw

Combine turkey, green onion, minced ginger and garlic, and herbs in a bowl. In a small jar with a lid, mix the peanut butter, fish sauce, soy sauce and sriracha with 2 tablespoons water, then microwave for 30 seconds. Put the lid on the jar and shake, shake, shake it like a polaroid picture. You should end up with about half a cup of sauce; pour it over the turkey. Squeeze the juice of half the lime over the turkey salad and mix with a fork to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary with more lime juice or more sriracha or soy sauce.

Serve wrapped in lettuce leaves with a squeeze of lime and/or sriracha. I eat the slaw and rice on the side because otherwise I overfill my lettuce leaves and make a giant mess.

Sesame Carrot Slaw

1 lb carrots, julienned (this peeler makes short work of it)
2 green onions, thinly sliced on a strong bias
4 hakurei turnips or 1 daikon radish, julienned
small handful cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoon rice vinegar
splash soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon vegetable or other neutral oil
sesame seeds, if you have them, for garnish

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and toss to combine. Let stand 20 minutes or so, tossing occasionally. Before serving, taste and adjust seasoning with more rice vinegar or soy sauce as needed.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A few things from today


Here's a pretty thing I saw today: wintery fountain grass at my parents' house. I also saw a bunch of other pretty things today. And ate some awfully tasty food (the cioppino!) And ran into this guy, so that was fun. Tomorrow I'll be back home and hopefully back here with a recipe.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Like you do.

Turkey Plate

Find the turkey motif plates.

Bread. Not toasted.

And two slices of bread.


Add generous schmears of mayonnaise to both slices of bread.

Turkey, lettuce.

Turkey and lettuce are next.

Stuffing, sweets.

Now stuffing on the turkey, and then a controversial choice: I opted for sweet potatoes instead of regular mashed. I don't regret it, but our sweet potatoes are unadulterated (ie no marshmallows) so they fit right in.

Cranberry sauce.

Cranberry sauce for sure.

Leftovers Sandwich, like you do.

Aaaand eat.

If you're out shopping, I hope you get home soon to eat the best sandwich of the year.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!


Hope you all enjoyed your turkey and pie today!

We took this photo before we ate and now it's time for sweatpants and football.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pie tip!

I learned an excellent pie trick from a pastry instructor at work today. Bake your pie on the bottom shelf! Then your bottom crust will cook as fast as the top since it's closer to the heating element and it won't be soggy. WORD. I am employing this trick at this very moment, in fact. My house smells like blueberry heaven.

Incidentally, regarding blueberry pie: I use Elise's filling and Ruhlman's 3:2:1 pie dough for the crust. This time around I'm trying pastry flour because I thought it might make a more tender crust. Will report back.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Busy busy

286: Ginger Scallion Noodles

Craziness tonight. GInger scallion noodles with roasted cauliflower and pickled eggplant and pickled beet and afterthought sesame seeds. Laundry to fold (so much laundry to fold). Bags to pack. Pie crust to make. See you tomorrow.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Doing some homework :)

Tonight I'm working on the lecture outline for a seminar I'm teaching the first week in December. I don't know if you can tell from this pile of research material (ha) but it's about pickles. There will, of course, be plenty of snacks and demos involved, but If you were going to a seminar about pickles, what questions would you want answered?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Seasonal Indulgence

Seasonal indulgence.

I love when the specialty holiday candy hits the market. (I particularly like the Reese's Eggs around Easter because the peanut butter to chocolate ratio is just incredibly high.) I usually keep peanut butter M&Ms in my desk drawer for emergencies. As a kid (when we only had two choices!) and still at the movies I go for Peanut M&Ms and I once tried the pretzel flavor (not bad, I like the salt) but I always go back to the peanut butter flavor.

I grabbed this bag of mint chocolate M&Ms at the store the other day and I'm afraid they are not as good as the peanut butter ones, but I think they might make really good cookies. What's your favorite M&M?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Tomato Horseradish Soup

285: Soup!

This soup is something that I've had a note on for about a year. I ate it for lunch once at my old job and yesterday I came across the note about it in my handy note taking app and decided it was time to revisit. I opted not to add any dairy (the original soup had yogurt in it) but if the flavor of your soup is a bit sharp and you think it needs to be smoothed out, feel free to add a dollop of yogurt or sour cream or even just cream at the end.

Tomato Horseradish Soup
Serves 2 generously or 4 as a first course

I served this for dinner with some cheesy croutons - slices of baguette with a thin layer of dijon mustard and a layer of swiss cheese (gruyere would be awesome here, I used deli sliced swiss because I had some) - on a sheet pan in a 350 oven for about ten minutes then under the broiler for 1 more minute.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup white wine
1 large can (32 oz) or jar (1 qt) crushed tomatoes
1 scant Tablespoon horseradish
1 Tablespoons dill, chopped
Salt and pepper

Heat the oil and butter in a pot over medium high heat and add the onion. Add a big pinch of salt and stir, and cook the onion until it's translucent or just starting to brown. When you just start to see brown bits on the bottom of the pan, it's time to add the wine. Let the wine simmer until it's almost gone (this will take a few minutes), then add the tomatoes, horseradish and dill. Bring to a simmer, then use an immersion blender to puree the soup (if you don't have an immersion blender you can do it in batches in a regular blender) right in the pot. Keep simmering until thickened to the point you like it, then taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and maybe more dill if you need it.

Serve with cheesy croutons or grilled cheese or just some crusty bread for wiping the bowl.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Meat, Starch, Veg

282: Meat, Starch, Veg

Do you ever sit at work and get immediate and urgent cravings for a particular type of food? For example: Dang, polenta sounds good. Ok, now I want polenta. GIVE. ME. THE. STARCH. And then instead of going home to immediately eat the polenta, you go out and try to get a new phone except the one you want is apparently popular and therefore not available to you for weeks, thus increasing your frustration level and elevating the need for starchy goodness? Here is what you can do about that when you get home:

Bring 4 cups salted water to a boil. Whisk in 1 cup polenta (aka medium or coarse cornmeal) and turn down the heat. Whisk occasionally while it simmers for 30-40 minutes. Add a tablespoon of butter and a hearty scoop of mascarpone or cream cheese and stir.

Meanwhile, defrost something labeled "BBQ Beef 8/17". Try to remember what recipe you used three months ago. Fail.

Realize that you should put a vegetable on the plate too. Cut some brussels sprouts in half. Heat up a cast iron skillet over a medium flame and put some bacon fat in it to melt. Put the sprouts in, cut side down. Cover it for 5 minutes. Take the cover off. Add half a cup of water, it'll boil off really fast but your sprouts will stop just shy of burning. Flip them over and shut off the heat.

Text your husband and demand he bring home ice cream.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

EVOO again

Robin, smiling and blurry

Had another lovely meal at EVOO in Cambridge tonight. I've always eaten well there, the service is good, and the Chef is incredibly nice. I'm at EVOO once a month or so for work - I run the student Chef for a Night program where a culinary student gets to work with Chef Peter McCarthy to add three items to his regular menu. I usually drag Adam along with me and since the menu changes so frequently he has literally never ordered the same thing twice. I always order the student's menu, which means I've never ordered the same thing twice, either!  Tonight I had a squash and apple soup, seared arctic char over the most buttery leeks I've ever eaten, and ginger pear crisp with toasted almond ice cream. That's Robin, the student chef, up there in the photo, and over here on the internet.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Stuffed Squash

280: Stuffed Squarshes

Dinner! I mentioned to you recently about how I deal with leftovers, but I forgot to mention this other thing I do, which is to stuff leftover things into vegetables. Sometimes tomatoes, sometimes zucchini, most often delicata squash. I LOVE delicata squash - did you know you can eat the skin? Because you can, and it's delicious. So here is what I did this morning.

Stuffed Squash

Cut two delicata squashes in half and scoop out the seeds. Salt them and oil them up a bit (not too much!) and put them cut side up on a baking sheet. Stick them in a 375 oven for about half an hour, or until they're tender all the way through. Then mix together the following:

2 cups leftover cooked rice (or any cooked grain)
1/2 cup leftover chimichurri  (or some chopped herbs and a splash of vinegar and oil)
1 cup leftover cooked spinach  (or other leftover veg)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (or other melty cheese)

Taste the mix and adjust the seasoning if necessary with more salt or vinegar or lemon juice.

Pile this mix into the squash-boats. At this point, if you like, you can put the assembled stuffed squashes into the fridge until you get home from work. Then, put them in a 375 oven until the rice on top is crispy and the cheese is melty and delicious. Took about half an hour for me. Yum.

Monday, November 12, 2012


Slacker post alert: my knees hurt too much to blog. Probably from all that running I did yesterday.

Also we had these for dinner tonight. Still a damn fine sandwich. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

30x30: Month 9

278: You just finished a half marathon, what are you gonna do now?!

Here is a picture of my celebratory beer from lunch today. You know why? Because I FINISHED A HALF MARATHON. At the moment I'm pretty sure my knees are about to explode but I FINISHED it and I didn't even cry. I wanted to, but I didn't. Woot! So I'm officially swapping out "finish a half marathon" for my "run a 10k in an hour" goal. Which brings me back to the list, on which I owe you an update.


Culinary goals: 2/6
I still have to make croissants, make sausage and throw two dinner parties. But I've checked off two out of six!

Professional goals: 1/4
I taught a class! But I still have some pretty heavy hitters on this list. I'm pretty sure these ones are not all going to happen.

Personal goals: 4/10
I've gone to Europe, cleaned up my google reader, purged my cookbook collection (and my whole book shelf, actually), and watched the Godfather Trilogy. I'm on day 278 of Project 365 and I'm on book 25 of 30, and I've managed to do a first pass at our wedding photos. I still have to deal with my 401(k) and my wedding dress and learn to use my camera's manual setting.

House Stuff: 6/7
The only thing left on this list is to figure out if my sewing machine is working or not, but not only did I buy curtains for the living room instead of making them, but I re-arranged the entire room, including a rug and some new shelves and a new TV stand. Basically our living room is now the coolest room in our house.

Fitnessy Things: 2/3
I still have to find a yoga studio, but I did two chinups and I'm trading out running goals: instead of a 10k in under an hour, FINISH A HALF MARATHON. Which I did. Today. So I'm going to go take some more ibuprofen.

Total: 15/30. Sweet, 3/4 of the time is up and I've accomplished half the goals. Hm. Looks like I'm going to have a busy couple of months.

Saturday, November 10, 2012



Chimichurri! Such a great word. It sounds like an order to have fun, doesn't it? If you haven't heard of it, here's the story in brief: it's an Argentinean condiment used sometimes as a marinade and sometimes as a sauce (and sometimes both, woo!). It is extremely delicious with steak, and that is how we ate it yesterday. Traditionally chimichurri includes parsley and oregano, garlic, red wine vinegar and olive oil. My fresh oregano plant is put away for the winter but we got parsley and cilantro in our CSA share so, here's what I stirred together:

3/4 cup very finely chopped parsley (one big bunch)
3/4 cup very finely chopped cilantro (two smaller bunches)
5 cloves garlic, minced into a paste with a pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup red wine vinegar, or more to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, more if you want a thinner consistency
salt and pepper

Then I let the chimchurri sit and mingle for a bit while I steamed some potatoes and pan seared two tasty steaks (we like New York Strip). The potatoes were tossed with harissa that I thinned out with some olive oil. The chimichurri was spooned generously onto the steaks and then greedily slurped up. If you're looking for a spot of green, garlicky brightness in your winter meal rotation, try chimichurri.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday night!

Apologies for brevity, but it's Friday and I've been drinking tasty cocktails. Tomorrow I'll be back with chimichurri, woo!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Beans & Basil and My Dinner Routine

Beans + basil

The other day, Erin, who inspired me to jump on the NaBloPoMo bandwagon again this year, posted about the recipes she actually really makes, not just for blogging, but for regular eating. It got me thinking. Do I even make anything from this blog more than once? Most of the time, I blog about things after making them once or sometimes twice. I'm usually too hungry to style my photos (heck, it's rare that I bother to properly light the shot, ha). I almost never throw away "failed" dinners, because I can almost always find a way to rescue my missteps. But I am not very good at just eating the same thing over and over again (though I do have my methods for repurposing), which might be why I've been such a lackluster food blogger. Sure, I make cold brewed coffee all summer long and these buttermilk biscuits show up on our breakfast table every few months, and we just had this chickpea soup a week ago, but for the most part I'm an improviser. And improvising doesn't always lead to reliable, recreatable recipes.

Luckily I've got a willing dining companion who doesn't demand meat 'n two veg for every meal, and I don't mind eating mix-and-match dinners. Tonight we ate beans, which I soaked this morning and simmered when I got home with a bay leaf and some onion until they were tender. We had some basil in the fridge so I tossed a chiffonade on top of the beans with a drizzle of olive oil. I also roasted some vegetables: we got two tiny cauliflowers and one little head of broccoli in our winter CSA share this week, and we had a few turnips and a butternut squash around, too. Beans, roasted veg, some baguette with butter. That's dinner. When we have a lot of vegetables in the house (that is, most of the time), this is how I usually pull dinner together. What about you? Do you have favorite recipes you make over and over or do you pull together dinner from what you have around?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Movie Night.

Movie night.

It's snowing. It's freaking snowing. Ugh. I trudged home in the mess this evening, my toes turning into little individual icycles. I don't mind the snow, but I DO mind improper footwear. Tomorrow I'm ditching my sneakers for boots, which means it's winter. Tonight, we're hanging out in South Africa with Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds. Did you know I love action movies? Because I do. Especially bad ones. I'm not sure yet if this one is good good or bad good.

Incidentally, that kale experiment from the other night turned out brilliantly. It was: a leek and an onion, softened in olive oil, then all the kale, chopped into big pieces, plus salt and pepper, red pepper flakes and 4 cups of homemade chicken stock. Simmer simmer simmer, add a can of chickpeas. Eat!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Got my sticker!

Line at my polling place goes down the block. Once you're inside it circles the second floor, first floor and basement. Waits are 90 minutes at least.

I waited in line for 90 minutes. I took this picture at the beginning of the wait - the line was behind me down the block, and in front of me it wrapped around two floors of an elementary school and then into the crazy basement room where we always vote. The line was nuts but there were kids walking around hawking baked goods and marked up Dunkin Donuts coffee, so that was pretty funny. I hope you vote today, too!

Self portrait with sticker.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Experimenting with homegrown kale

272: Kale

I've got three or four hugely overgrown kale plants in the backyard that are still thriving even though it's so chilly out. (Winter coat, day one. Boo.) I'm experimenting with two bunches worth at the moment, and also trying to figure out  how to use up leftover roast chicken and leftover rice. Will report back.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Deep Dish

271: Deep Dish

So I made a ridiculous deep dish pizza for dinner tonight. And now I'm in something of a pizza coma. So. much. gooeyness. I'm all for a thin crust, Neapolitan style, artisan pie (in fact, I usually do thin crust when it's homemade pizza night), but deep dish is like comfort food made pizza. Probably because it's a cheesy bread bomb and hits all the right buttons. I'm not going to share the recipe here because I followed Nick's instructions pretty much exactly (by way of CI).

Two notes, though: my sauce took twice as long to thicken up and it was still a little liquidy. Don't be like me, simmer your sauce until there's no standing liquid left or it'll sog your pizza a bit. Also, if you use a spring form pan (it was the only 9" pan I had), it's ok to take the sides off after cooking if you want, but you'll have to put them back on to contain the gooeyness once you're ready to cut into the pizza.

Happy Sunday, folks.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Chocolate Chip Coconut Oatmeal Muffins


Hurricane Sandy was, for us, a non-event, for which I am incredibly thankful. School was closed so I didn't have to go to work and Adam went in for a few hours but was home by 11:30, as the T stopped running in the early afternoon. I had anticipated our power going out mid morning, so I got up and showered as usual and then cleaned the whole house (including folding and putting away four loads of laundry!) and then everything on my list was done. By 9:30 in the morning. By 11 I was certain the power would be out any minute, but I wanted chocolate chip muffins (Perhaps I saw someone eating one on TV or something? Who knows where these whims come from). So I set to baking. The batter for these was done in less than ten minutes and they were out of the oven 15 minutes after that. Awesome.

Mini Chocolate Chip Coconut Oatmeal Muffins
adapted from an old Gourmet recipe
makes 18-20 mini muffins

This is a dessert muffin for sure, but since it doesn't have frosting (and therefore isn't a cupcake) it's totally ok to eat it for breakfast. I used coconut instead of walnuts because I felt like it, and I only had sweetened coconut so these are not a subtly sweet muffin, and they are incredibly moist. You could bake in traditional size muffin tins and then you'd get six instead of 18 and they'd be longer in the oven.

1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 egg
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (1/2 a stick)
1/4 cup whole milk
1/3 cup rolled oats, toasted slightly
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a small bowl combine the egg, milk and butter. Pour the liquid stuff into the dry and mix until it's almost combined, add the oats, coconut and chocolate chips in and mix just until there's no dry stuff showing.

Line a mini muffin tin (or two) with paper liners. Use a tablespoon to fill each tin with batter just to the top, about a tablespoon for each. If you're using disposable mini muffin tins, put them on a cookie sheet for ease of transfer and stick them in the oven. Bake for ten minutes, rotate the pan and bake for 2-5 minutes more, until a toothpick inserted in the muffin comes out clean.

Remove muffins from pan and cook on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temp. Mini muffins keep in an airtight container at room temperature, for 5 days.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Area Four

Area Four

Adam and I finally ventured into the all! new! Kendall Square today after a shopping blitz at the Cambridgeside Galleria. Incidentally, that's my new strategy for shopping, which I loathe: what do I need? Go in fast, get it, pay, and leave. No dilly dallying. Don't make eye contact with the tweenagers. I was in and out of Sephora in less than 6 minutes, but I got the mascara I needed, word.

But back to Kendall. There are all sorts of new restaurants over there and I haven't been able to check any of them out yet, but we both had pretty good weeks at work so out we went for celebratory pizza at Area Four. We split an appetizer special - big long crouton with fresh ricotta and broccoli rabe and chili garlic oil. The broccoli rabe was cold, like fridge cold, and I wished it had been at least room temp, but the flavor was good. The pizzas were great - piping hot and savory as all get out. Adam got the putanesca, not shy with the anchovies, and my clam and bacon was indulgently rich. Yum.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


251: Avocados

Oh hai, friends! It's been a while, eh? Sorry about that; I'm going to try and do better. In fact! I'm going to attempt NaBloPoMo again. Thanks, Erin, for the kick in the pants. Oof, we'll see how it goes. Let's ease into it, shall we? How about I tell you this weird thing I do: I text my sister when avocados are on sale. She loves them and they are expensive. I also buy them when they are on sale and put them on my toast for breakfast. Yep.

See, I told you we were starting small. See you tomorrow.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Baked Ziti with Eggplant

Fall is baked ziti season. This one has eggplant, too!

I know I've fallen out of the swing of things around here, but how about I skip the apologies for my absence (the usual summer fun distracted me, and then I started a new job, woo!) and instead I offer you this baked ziti. Yesterday after our weekend house guests left for the airport and we put together some awesome new furniture, I found myself on the couch with WGBH on the TV. And Lidia was on. I've never actually watched Lidia before, but she was making baked ziti and it looked good. Like really really good. Like go buy a box of pasta and some cheese and get that in the oven. So tonight we had baked ziti. And when I took that mediocre picture up there and put it on facebook, somebody asked for the recipe (Hi, Maura!), so I figured that was as good a reason as any to get back here. Buon appetito!

Five Cheese Baked Ziti with Eggplant
inspired by Lidia Bastianich
Serves 6-8

1 pound ziti (or penne or some other tubular pasta)
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb skinny eggplants, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 32 oz can crushed tomatoes (or a quart of home canned if you've got 'em)
1 cup whole milk ricotta
5 ounces sharp provolone cheese, diced small
3 ounces fresh mozzarella, diced small (I used a generous half of a standard mozzarella ball)
parmesan cheese and/or pecorino romano, grated, as needed (I had both so I used them, one or the other is fine)
fresh basil, torn, if you've got it - I used about two tablespoons
salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 375F.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it generously.

While the water comes up to a boil, heat the olive oil in your largest skillet over medium heat and add the onion, cook until translucent (5-10 minutes depending on your heat level), then add the garlic. After about a minute, move the onion and garlic to the sides of the pan, then add the eggplant. It's going to look like a lot of food. Now's a good time to season it with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is soft. Add the tomatoes and stir, then bring to a simmer and cook until it's not watery anymore.

The sauce should thicken fairly quickly if you've got it in a nice wide skillet, so drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes less than it says on the box (you'll be cooking it further in the oven so undercooking it a touch here keeps it from being soggy).

Just before the pasta is cooked, add the ricotta to the sauce and stir it in. When the pasta is done (it should be quite al dente), drain it and add it back to the empty pot. Add some sauce to the pasta and stir so it doesn't stick together. Put half a cup of the sauce in the baking dish and spread it out over the bottom. Reserve another half cup or so for the top layer, but go ahead and add the rest of the sauce to the pasta.

Spread half the pasta on the bottom of the baking dish, sprinkle half the cubed provolone and half the cubed mozzarella over it, then grate some pecorino and parmesan over it, then sprinkle with half your basil, if using.. Repeat with another layer of pasta, provolone and mozzarella and basil, spoon the rest of the sauce evenly over the top, then grate some parmesan and/or pecorino over the whole thing. Go ahead and be generous, here, you deserve it.

Put the baking dish in the oven and bake until lightly browned on top and bubbly, about 40 minutes, rotating halfway through. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes after it comes out of the oven so it can set up and you don't burn your mouth.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

30x30: Month Six

161: We grew garlic!

Well, there went July. Sorry for the radio silence, folks, summer has a way of getting away from me. I'm sure you know the feeling, right? You get caught up in gardening and going to baseball games and playing with smiling babies and eating rather a lot of seafood.

Let's get to it, shall we? Oh, and for reference, here's my original 30x30 post.

Culinary Projects
Nothing new to report. Sigh.

Professional Projects
I'm teaching a class next week! Woo!

Personal Projects
I cleaned up my google reader, finally! And then, of course, I added a bunch of new blogs to it. Heh. I also purged my cookbook collection. Not just that, Adam and I actually purged our whole bookshelf and sold a bunch of them to a used book seller, woo! We also went through our wedding photos and culled it down from over 1,000 photos to 161 maybes. Next step is to cull it further to 70 or so that we genuinely want in the album and make an appointment with our photographer. Let's hope he remembers us from two years ago, heh.

Also still working on Project 365 and my Read-Thirty-Books project. Book 13 was The Art of Fielding by Chad Hauerbach, Book 14 was Room by Emma Donoghue, Book 15 was The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Book 16 was Real Food Fermentation by Alex Lewin and Book 17 was The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi Durrow. Whew. Looks like I'm on the way to finishing my book project ahead of schedule!

House Stuff
I cleaned out under the guest bed! I also cleaned the front hall closet, my closet, the linen closet and the weird side closet in our bedroom AND I rearranged the living room furniture. BOOM. Progress has been made, even if it wasn't on the original list.

Fitnessy Stuff
Can do one chin-up. Scheduling conflicts have come up with my usual October 10k, so I'm contemplating a half marathon.

New goals met this month: 3 
Total goals met so far: 10 

I'll try to resume regular posting now. I missed you guys.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

30x30: Month Four

99: First harvest

Sorry, guys, this has not been a great month for checking things off the list. Look at this pretty picture of some radishes I grew to distract you from my failure!

Culinary Projects
Nothing new to report.

Professional Projects
Nothing new to report.

Personal Projects
Progress, but nothing checked off yet. Read two more books (Fall of Giants by Ken Follett and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot), which brings me to 12. Also still working on Project 365.

House Stuff
Nothing new to report.

Nothing new to report, except that Julia and I ran the 5 mile Boston Run to Remember (and had someone take a sweaty, red-faced picture at the end). I finished in 50:20, which is just a touch slower than I need to run a 6.2 mile race in under an hour. So! Theoretical progress on that front, anyway.

New goals met this month: 0 (sigh)
Total goals met so far: 7

Saturday, June 9, 2012


112: Popsicle!

I don't want to say for sure that any sorbet recipe you find will translate perfectly to popsicles, but I used the strawberry-rhubarb sorbet recipe from The Perfect Scoop and it sure did. I got eight 3-ounce popsicles plus enough left over for another one or two, (I was out of molds.) I hope you all are out enjoying this awesome weather and that you find a tasty frozen treat to enjoy today!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Brown Rice Cakes with Olives and Herbs

Rice cakes

I've written three different starts to this post but they all sound dumb. You guys know it's good for you to eat more whole grains, blah blah, I don't have to tell you that. Farro is delicious, quinoa is actually so big it's cool to make fun of it now, wheat berries are great if you remember to soak them, etc, etc.   But what I can tell you is that I've been really enjoying cooking out of Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by the lovely Maria Speck. I made these rice cakes a couple of weeks ago (tip: always make twice as much rice as you need, then you'll have leftover rice. ta-da!), and last night I got to eat the Artichoke Rosemary Tart with Polenta Crust at a pot luck meeting. I look forward to making it myself. What's your favorite whole grain recipe?

Brown Rice Cakes with Olives and Herbs
adapted from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck
makes 6-8 cakes

I think this recipe would scale brilliantly should you want to have more than six cakes, but this was enough for a nice light dinner for us (with a salad, as you see), and Adam took a couple for lunch the next day. I also think this would be totally awesome as a first course if you served just one over greens, maybe with a dollop of homemade garlic mayo? Mmm. 

about 2 cups leftover cooked brown rice
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs, divided
1/2 cup grated parmesan or pecorino romano
half a bunch of scallions, finely chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped, pitted black olives such as kalamata
1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (I used parsley and oregano
2 eggs, lightly beaten
plenty of salt and pepper
a few tablespoons vegetable oil for frying

Mix together the rice, 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs, cheese, scallions, herbs, olives and eggs in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Level the mixture out in the bowl, then use a butter knife to divide it into 6 or 8 portions. I found that smaller cakes (no more than 2 - 2.5 inches in diameter) were easier to cook, but you can do as you see fit.

Spread the remaining bread crumbs in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. Pack each portion into a small cake, then coat the cakes in the bread crumbs. Heat vegetable oil in a medium heavy skillet (cast iron is my favorite for this) until a breadcrumb dropped into the oil sizzles immediately. Working in batches so you don't crowd the pan, fry the cakes until firm and dark golden brown, 3-5 minutes per side or longer. Be sure to get some good color on them, don't wuss out as soon as they start to turn golden! The brown crispy bits are the best part. I like to use an offset spatula for flipping small things like this.

Cakes will hold on a rack on a sheet pan in a warm oven (200F) while you finish the remaining cakes.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Jam on it! If it is pizza.

Jam on it

Speaking of cleaning out the jam cabinet, have you considered jam on pizza? Like instead of sauce? My friend Miranda suggested it (she's been using fig jam) and dudes IT IS BRILLIANT. The pizza above is apricot-rosemary jam with mascarpone and then lightly dressed arugula once it was out of the oven. I recommend this combination, but I'm also curious: what other jam/cheese/other toppings combo would you guys put together? I was thinking tomato jam plus cheddar would be pretty rad, or a berry jam plus goat cheese, maybe. What do you guys think?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Oatmeal Jam Bars

Oatmeal jam bars

I recently did a little kitchen cabinet inventory and discovered that I may have been a little jam-crazy last summer. I still have five jars of tomato jam, nine (nine!) jars of jalapeno jelly, a few apricot rosemary, four sour cherry (hooray, my favorite!), a rhubarb, a peach, and a few plums. Canning season is just getting underway (I've already pickled some asparagus), and I need to make some space in the cupboard. So I polled twitter about what to do with all that fruity goodness. SO MANY GOOD IDEAS. Cakes and tarts and cookies, oh my! Roving Lemon passed along this recipe, originally from The Pioneer Woman, and since it was the simplest thing I had all the ingredients for, I made them to take to a party last week. They were a hit! Oh, and Adam is looking over my shoulder and suggests that you cut them into 16 smaller bars rather than 12.

Oatmeal Jam Bars
makes 12-16 bars depending on how you cut them
adapted, but not much, from The Pioneer Woman

I used plum jam, but I think the beauty here is that you can use whatever you want or have extra of - strawberry jam this month, peach in July, apple butter in September, woo!

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt (use 1/2 tsp if using fine sea salt or table salt)
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
10-12 ounces jam (I used one full 1/2 pint and a few spoonfuls from another 1/2 pint)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix together the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl, then use your fingers to smush the soft butter in. Cut a strip of parchment paper and use it to line the bottom and two sides of an 8x8 baking pan. Spray the pan with non stick spray.

Put half the oat mixture in the pan and use your hands or a spatula to press it firmly in an even layer. Spread the jam over the oats, then sprinkle the other half of the oats over the jam and use your hands to press it into an even layer. No need to pack quite as firmly here, you don't want to smush the jam to the bottom.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the top is light golden brown. Let cool in the pan, then use the parchment sling to lift the bars out of the pan (you may need to run a thin knife around the edge). Cut the bars into squares.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Chickpeas. Just chickpeas.

77: Chickpeas

My love for chickpeas is well documented on this site, but I don't know if I've ever written about just plain chickpeas for dinner. It might sound a little crazy, but we like it a lot. It's kind of like soup, but without all those pesky vegetable or chicken getting in the way.

It starts like this: buy the best chickpeas you can find. Soak them for a few hours, or all day while you're at work, or overnight.

When you're ready to cook, slice a shallot or two (or a small onion) and a couple cloves of garlic. Heat a splash of olive oil in your favorite bean pot (mine's a 6 quart enameled cast iron dutch oven that I bought myself when I just started getting into cooking, I love it). Sweat the shallots and garlic until they smell really good. Drain the beans most of the way, and add them to the pot, then add a couple of cups of homemade chicken broth (don't use store bought, the salt content will mess up the texture of your beans) or water, or best yet a combination of broth and water, until the beans are covered by an inch or so of liquid.

Add a bay leaf and some black pepper and if you have a few branches of thyme or oregano or marjoram, add those, too (the leaves will probably fall off, but you can just fish the sticks out later). Bring the pot up to a hard simmer, then back it down to low and let it simmer until the beans are tender. Depending on the age of your beans, this can take up to an hour or longer, but mine are usually done in about 45 minutes. Now you can add salt, a couple of big pinches. Stir the beans and wait a few minutes before you taste them so they can absorb the seasoning. You might need more salt, just add it until the beans taste good. Dish up a bowl full , then grate some good parmiggiano on top and sprinkle with chives or parsley and a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil. Eat with bread.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

30x30: Month Three

92: Ginger bug

Month three? THREE? Already? Geez, 29, why don't you just fly by already?

Ahem. Shall we proceed?

Culinary Projects
Check it out! I'm brewing ginger beer! I followed the instructions in Wild Fermentation (which, despite its terrible cover design, is a really great book, just take it with a grain of hippie salt, mmkay?). Grated ginger and sugar and water kept in a warm place (next to my coffee machine) and given regular feedings (more ginger and sugar) until it started to bubble (which took about a week). Last night I mixed the bug with a larger quantity of ginger/sugar/water mixture, put it up in a few recycled soda bottles and stuck it in a corner of the living room to ferment. It should be ready right around memorial day - dark and stormies for everyone!

Professional Projects
Nothing to report. Sigh. This is going to be the category that gets me in the end, isn't it?

Personal Projects
Still carrying on with Project 365, and now that Instagram is available for Android, I started using that, too. Two more books read, A Dance with Dragons (yay, I'm caught up and now I can move on!) and A Visit from the Goon Squad (a lovely book that you should all read). That brings me up to ten books, which is 30% of my goal. Sweet!

New hamper!

House Stuff
Not-ugly hamper, hello and welcome. Thanks for being so much nicer than white plastic.

Funny story: we put the two ugly white plastic hampers we had been using out on the curb with a sign that said "free," which is what you do in college towns with perfectly good stuff that you don't need anymore. Usually your perfectly good stuff is gone within a couple of hours (I'm pretty sure elves take it). An hour after we put the hampers out, Adam peeked out the window and said yay, they're gone! I said I thought perhaps our elderly, Sicilian land lady Maria had taken them and put them in the basement (she lives upstairs) since, as I mentioned, they're still perfectly good stuff. And elderly Sicilian ladies don't throw away perfectly good stuff. He went downstairs to check and yes. Hampers in the basement. Heh heh heh.

Fitnessy Type Things
Still working on chin ups, still running, still haven't tried a new yoga studio.

New goals met this month: 2
Total goals met so far: 7