Archive for the ‘Dinner’ Category

So simple: Quick Salmon Tacos with Collards

June 17, 2009

Hello there!  I’m here today to give you all yet another non-recipe recipe.  And you know what?  In my opinion, these are really the best, especially in the summer.  Here’s what happened.  Dinner time rolled around and I was stumped and lazy, as usual. I remembered a beautiful piece of salmon that I had purchased a couple of days before, and not wanting to risk letting it go bad, decided to base the meal around it. Next came the vegetable component. I don’t know about you, but for me, I need a vegetable at almost every meal, preferably even breakfast! It just makes me feel good. So I had some collards in the fridge, which is great, because I love to pair salmon with greens. Then I just needed to finish it off. Now, one thing I’m really into these days is putting things in corn tortillas. I actually used to be vehemently against corn tortillas, preferring their flour-based cousins, but I’m a convert! They’re lighter, they are arguably a whole grain, and they’re also small and cute. I’ll also add, and of course this is just a personal opinion, but I really do think that food is more fun to eat when you can wrap it up in a corn tortilla. So there you go… end of rant.

The “recipe” is embarassingly simple. I seasoned the salmon with salt and pepper and then pan fried it in olive oil until it got a bit of a crust. Then I threw it in a 400 degree oven on a baking sheet to finish cooking. While the salmon was in the oven, I sautéed the kale with olive oil, garlic, cumin, and cinnamon (and s+p, of course), and sliced up an avocado. All that was left to do was warm up the tortillas and throw it all together. So simple. A quick squeeze of lemon brought it all together and brightened it up. That’s it!

Quick Salmon Tacos with Collard Greens

1 lb salmon filets
salt and pepper, olive oil for pan

1 bunch of collard greens, jullienned, washed well
1 big garlic clove, or two small, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
about 1 tablespoon olive oil for sauteeing

2 ripe avocados, sliced
8 corn tortillas
1 lemon, quartered

Start by pan frying the salmon.  Warm a glug of olive oil in a non-stick pan over high heat.  While it’s heating up, season the salmon with salt and pepper.  When the oil glistens and moves easily around the pan, carefully place the salmon in the pan and let it cook (without moving it) until it gets a little bit of a crust on the non-skin side.  Remove the salmon from the pan, place it on a baking sheet, and put it in a 400 degree oven for 5-10 minutes (depending on thickness) to finish cooking.

While the salmon is in the oven, make the collards.  Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the collard greens (it’s ok if they’re still a little wet from washing, this will help them steam a little as they cook) to the pan.  Add the garlic, stir to combine, and cover the pan to let the greens steam for a few minutes.  When the greens are tender (about five minutes), add the cumin and cinnamon, stir, and continue cooking until all water has evaporated and the greens are tender.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a hot dry pan, heat the corn tortillas, one at a time, turning often until they are heated through.  Place the tortillas on plates (2 per person).  Remove the skin from the salmon and break it up, dividing it between the tortillas.  Add some collards to each tortilla, and top with avocado slices.  Finish with a squeeze of lemon.

Serves 4.

Daring Cooks: Dumplings! (with edits)

June 15, 2009

dumplings cooking

Hi there!  Just wanted to jump back in and add a few notes about this recipe.  All the new notes will be in green!

This month was my first daring cooks challenge.  It was hosted by Jen of Use Real Butter, and she chose Chinese Dumplings and Potstickers!  In my typical fashion, I had a whole month for the challenge, but I made the dumplings last night (the reveal date was yesterday!).  I planned to blog about them as soon as I finished eating them, slip my post in at the last second, and call it a night.  Well, needless to say, it didn’t quite happen that way.  Here’s what really happened:  I did make the dumplings last night, around seven.  They came out perfectly, but by the time I was done I didn’t really feel like having dumplings for dinner and my roommate was tempting me with the idea of going out to get Ethiopian.  Here’s the thing.  I’ve been craving Ethiopian food ALL WEEK and haven’t been able to get someone to go with me.  So of course, I caved.  I threw the rest of the dumplings in the freezer and we went out.  We had an awesome meal, hung out on the restaurant’s back patio for a while, and then I came home and promptly fell asleep watching Heroes, forgetting all about my plans to make a sneaky last-second post.  That brings us to this morning.  Well, I figure 8 hours late isn’t too big a deal, so here you go!  Potstickers!

dough

Here the dough, after being kneaded.

filling...

Filling the dumplings…

filled

And here the are now, crimped and ready for the pan.

ready to eat

And here they are again right before I put them in the fridge and went out to Ethiopian!  I did try one though.. delicious!

Chinese Dumplings/Potstickers

pork filling:
1 lb (450g) ground pork
4 large napa cabbage leaves, minced
1 small onion, minced
7 shitake mushrooms, minced (if dried – rehydrated and rinsed carefully)
1/4 (55g) cup ginger root, minced
3 tbsp (40g) soy sauce
2 tbsp (28g) sesame oil
1/2 block silken tofu
One note: the original recipe had cornstarch in the filling.  It acts as a binder.  I didn’t use it for two reasons:  One, I didn’t have any (simple!).  Two, I learned, on the dumpling episode of Bobby Flay’s Throwdown, that adding silken tofu to dumpling filling yeilds a silky (go figure) and perfectly textured dumpling.  I don’t like it when the meat part of the dumpling cooks up too hard, and tofu works perfectly to keep it the texture I like.   It also acts as a binder, helping the filling hold together while keeping it moist.

dough: (double this for the amount of filling, but easier to make it in 2 batches – or just halve the filling recipe)
2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (113g) warm water (although I ended up using much more)
flour for worksurface

For the filling: Combine all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly (I mix by clean hand). Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (up to a day, but preferably within an hour or two)

To make the dough: In a large bowl mix flour with the water and stir until water is absorbed. Continue adding water one teaspoon at a time and mixing thoroughly until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. We want a firm dough that is barely sticky to the touch.

Knead the dough about twenty strokes, adding more flour as needed to keep it from sticking, then cover with a damp towel for 15 minutes. Take the dough and form a flattened dome. Cut into strips about 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. Shape the strips into rounded long cylinders. On a floured surface, cut the strips into 3/4 inch pieces. Press palm down on each piece to form a flat circle (you can shape the corners in with your fingers). With a rolling pin, roll out a circular wrapper from each flat disc. Take care not to roll out too thin or the dumplings will break during cooking – about 1/16th inch. Leave the centers slightly thicker than the edges. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of each wrapper and fold the dough in half, pleating the edges along one side. Keep all unused dough under damp cloth.

*There are two other, easier, ways to do this, both of which I tried.  One, you can just roll the dough into a log and cut off pieces, squish them flat, and then roll them a little flatter.  You can also take a bigger piece of dough, roll it out like a pie crust, and then use a 4-5 inch round cookie cutter (or even the rim of a glass) to cut out circles.  Both of these methods worked well for me.

To pan fry (potstickers): Place dumplings in a frying pan with 2-3 tbsp of vegetable oil. Heat on high and fry for a few minutes until bottoms are golden. Add 1/2 cup water and cover. Cook until the water has boiled away and then uncover and reduce heat to medium or medium low. Let the dumplings cook for another 2 minutes then remove from heat and serve.

To freeze: Assemble dumplings on a baking sheet so they are not touching. It helps to rub the base of the dumpling in a little flour before setting on the baking sheet for ease of release. Freeze for 20-30 minutes until dumplings are no longer soft. Place in ziploc bag and freeze for up to a couple of months. Prepare per the above instructions, but allow extra time to ensure the filling is thoroughly cooked.

Barely a Recipe: Spring Greens with Roasted Beets and Goat Cheese

June 11, 2009

A funny thing happens to me (and I suspect many others) as summer rolls around.  As much as I love to cook, when the weather gets hot and the days get long, that love kind of fades and turns tepid, and all of a sudden, I’ve just lost the urge.  Now don’t get me wrong, I still think about food all the time.  During the day I dream up recipes, delude myself with notions of elaborate meals that I will somehow have the energy to prepare when I get home, and convince myself that yes, this cooking thing is really going to happen.  But day after day six o’clock rolls around and guess what?  I just don’t feel like it.  Sound familiar?

I’ve got a solution… for now, at least.  Make this salad.  It’s simple, but special enough to make you feel like you’ve done something nice for yourself.  It’s also incredibly healthy.  Beets are a nutritional goldmine- they’re loaded with vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and C, and surprisingly, are higher in iron than spinach.  Take that Popeye!  They’re also naturally sweet, which means that you’ll be less likely to be craving something sugary for dessert later.

Now, as a pair, beets and goat cheese are nothing new.   Why?  Because they work perfectly together.  The tangy creaminess of the goat cheese is the perfect complement to the beets’ deep earthy sweetness.  And when you toss everything together, the juice from the beets mixes with some of the goat cheese to create a built-in dressing.  It couldn’t be simpler.

To make this salad even simpler to throw together, you can roast the beets the night before.  I like to throw them in the oven after dinner and pull them out before I go to bed.  That way, they practically make themselves!

Spring Greens with Roasted Beets and Goat Cheese

2 beets
1 tablespoon olive oil (for drizzling)
1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 -3 big handfuls salad greens, well washed and dried
2-3 ounces of chevre, or other goat cheese

1 tablespoon olive oil
squeeze of lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Start by making the beets (as I mentioned, I would highly suggest doing this the night before).  Preheat the oven to 400 (F).  Place the beets in a cast iron skillet (or even an oven-safe pot).  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Bake, covered loosely with alumninum foil, for 60-90 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork.  Remove from the oven and let cool completely before peeling (you should be able to remove the skin easily with your fingers).  Chop into 1/2 inch cubes.

For the salad:  In a bowl, combine the greens and the beets.  Crumble the goat cheese over the top.  At this point, you could really add any dressing, but I just like a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze or two of lemon, and some salt and freshly ground pepper.  Toss and serve.

Go-to dinner

May 12, 2009

Everyone needs to have a dinner for those days when you want to eat at home, but can’t really stand the thought of cooking anything elaborate. Yes, you can snack, or just make some scrambled eggs, but sometime I want something nurturing, deeply satisfying, and delicious. Now, I don’t know if this is odd or not, but I don’t really get junk food cravings, no, I get greens and brown rice cravings. Admittedly, that stuff can be really bland, unless of course you know how to make it tasty. And I do ;) Lately my go-to meal has been brown rice, kale, and sweet potatoes. To make it extra wonderful, I’ll add an olive-oil fried egg, still runny.

If you haven’t tried greens with sweet potatoes before, I think you should give it a shot. The bitterness of the greens combined with the sweetness of the yams balances perfectly. The brown rice, made with broth for extra flavor, gives the dish heft, and the egg makes it decadent. And the best part is, it’s SO easy. You can make the brown rice ahead of time, or just start it ten minutes before everything else. After that, everything else comes together pretty effortlessly. So here it is:

Brown Rice, Kale, and Sweet Potatoes

For the brown rice:

1 cup brown rice (I used texmati)
2 1/4 cups chicken broth, or water and one bullion cube
(all bullion is definitely not created equal. I use rapunzel and really like it)

For the sweet potatoes:

2 sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

For the kale:

1 glug olive oil
1-2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 small yellow onion, or 1/2 of a large onion, chopped fine
1 tsp cumin
1 pinch salt, ground pepper to taste
1 bunch lacinato kale (any other type would work too), washed and chopped into ribbons

To make the brown rice:

Combine the brown rice and the broth (or the water and the bullion) in a small pot. Cover, and bring to a boil over medium high heat (watch it carefully so it doesn’t boil over!) Once it comes to a boil, bring the heat down to low, stir once, re-cover, and continue cooking for 40 minutes or so until, the rice is tender, but still has a little bit of a bite.

For the potatoes:

While the brown rice is cooking, place the potatoes in a steam basket over simmering water, cover, and steam for 10-15 minutes, until fork tender.

For the kale:

Warm the glug of olive oil in a large pan or pot over medium heat. Toss in the onions and, after a minute or so, the garlic. The oil shouldn’t be hot yet- you want the onions and garlic cook slowly until the onions have softened a bit, about 5 minutes.

At this point, add the salt and the cumin, and stir to mix. Let the cumin warm up for a minute or so, then turn up the heat a little and add the kale. Stir it all around to distribute the onions and garlic throughout the kale, and then cook until the kale wilts, about five minutes or so. Some kale has more structure than others, so if you’re using a really hearty variety, you may want to add a tablespoon or so of water, cover the pot, and steam for a couple of minutes. Season with ground pepper, and more salt if it needs it.

Now, there are a few ways to eat this. You can combine it all in the pot and mix it there, or you can do a layered type of presentation in a bowl. The latter is my favorite. I like to put some brown rice on the bottom, then the kale, and then the sweet potatoes. I usually drizzle a little bit of soy sauce over the whole thing.

Also, at this point, you could also fry up an egg in some olive oil and lay it over everything so that when you cut into it, the yolk runs down over everything, making a kind of a sauce. That’s what I did tonight.

kabocha squash, two ways

January 8, 2009

Today I have a couple of really simple recipes for you. My roommate and I joined the local CSA (community shared agriculture) this year, so now we get a big box of locally farmed vegetables and fruit each week. We also get granola, cheese, meat, and eggs too. Not a bad deal, right?

The one downside (or upside, as I like to see it) is that you don’t get to choose what you get. Lucky for me, I love weird winter vegetables and plan to roast and braise away all winter. I actually just got Molly Stevens’s All About Braising and a dutch oven* for Christmas, so as far as I’m concerned, I’m ready to go.

Well. That being said, neither of these recipes involve braising. The truth is, the dutch oven is still in the trunk of my car and it was raining last night and, well, you get the idea. This week, we got an amazing-looking kabocha squash from our CSA and I wanted to experiment a little.  Being scientifically minded, I did a little bit of a comparison study to test out two methods of cooking.

The first half of the squash got tossed with a little olive oil, cumin, and cinnamon and then roasted in a hot oven (see below, and first picture). For a finishing touch, I crumbled a bit of brie over the squash towards the end and then threw it back in the oven just long enough for the brie to melt.

The second half got boiled and then cooked briefly with some miso and soy (below, and second picture from top). And while I really expected to like the roasted squash much better, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed them both.

Either of these preparations would make great side dishes, but I was eating alone last night and the best thing about eating alone is that you can have whatever you want. So yes, I had lots of squash for dinner (and some swedish fish for dessert), and yes, it was awesome.

*I just have to say, I definitely did not pay $200, or even $100-something for the dutch oven. My mom and I found the exact same ones at Marshall’s for 50 bucks. Yeah!

Roasted Kabocha Squash with Cumin and Brie

  • 1/2 of a medium-sized kabocha squash, skin removed, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 oz brie, mild or stinky depending on your preference
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil to drizzle

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

2. Cube the kabocha: cut it in half, then scoop out the seeds. Place it cut side down on your cutting board, and then cut into half-inch slices. To remove the skins, place each slice on its side and cut off the skin in pieces (or use a vegetable peeler, although I think you’ll have to peel it twice to get all the skin off).

2. Drizzle some olive oil on a heavy baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Put the squash on the baking sheet and then sprinkle cumin and cinnamon on top. Season with a good pinch of salt too, and some freshly ground pepper.

3. Roast on the middle rack of the oven until the bottoms of the squash cubes are golden brown, about 20 minutes (although you should definitely check along the way, as some ovens will brown food way faster than others). Toss sqash with a spatula, and return to oven for another 15 or 20 minutes to brown the other sides. At that point, check to see that the squash is done (it should give when you press it, or you can always just taste one).

4. Pinch off little pieces of the brie and sprinkle over the squash. Return to the oven for five minutes until the brie melts.

Kabocha with miso-soy glaze

  • 1/2 of a medium-sized kabocha squash, cut into 1/2 inch by 2 inch pieces (skin can stay on)
  • 1 T miso paste (I used yellow)
  • 1/2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T water

1. Cut the squash and place it in a medium-sized pot. Fill with water to cover about half of the squash. Cover, and cook over medim heat until squash is tender. It should take only 15 minutes or so, but to be honest I didn’t time it.

2. Meanwhile, mix together the miso paste, soy sauce and water.

3. When the squash has finished cooking, pour out the extra water and add in the miso-soy mixture. Continue cooking for a minute until almost all of the liquid is absorbed.

How to make ragu like a nonna:

December 29, 2008

dec-2008_02171

Well, here is the first part of my attempt to be back here on a regular basis. I have been really missing the blog, and although I’ve been cooking regularly, I’ve been so busy that most of the food I’ve made has been weird, thrown together meals that I like but would be embarrassed to post. I mean, who wants a recipe for a couple of eggs thrown on a trader joe’s tortilla with some mashed up black beans and pesto? Besides that, I moved to a new apartment in August and to tell the truth, the light in the kitchen is downright crappy and I just can’t get that enthusiastic about trying to take pictures of my food with almost no natural light. Well. Enough of the complaints. I have a plan for getting better light (a supersize mirror to redirect the sunlight down my alley and in my kitchen window, perhaps?) and will hopefully be back here more regularly from now on. Wish me luck. For now, here’s this ragu.

I don’t kid when I say that this is the real stuff. I won’t say it’s the best, because in my mind, there are a lot of wonderful ways to dress a pasta, and it would be a shame to pick just one favorite. I mean, I wouldn’t want to insult all the other sauces that make me stop dead in my tracks, fork in mouth, and let out a little whimper. But here’s the deal. This is the sauce to warm up a winter night. It doesn’t take more than half an hour of active prep, but it tastes like you’ve been slaving over it all day. And it just gets better after a day in the fridge.

Do yourself a favor and use the ragu sparingly with good pasta. It’s the Italian way to barely coat the pasta with sauce, and if the ragu seems too thick as you’re stirring it into your pasta, toss in a spoonful or two of the pasta water to thin it out just a bit. The starch from the pasta water will help the ragu cling to your pasta.

Ragu Bolognese
Adapted from Mario Batali

Makes about 5 cups

¼ C extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 ribs celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1 pound ground veal
1 pound ground pork
(you can get the veal and pork ground together at the butcher)
4 ounces pancetta or slab bacon, run through the medium holes of the butcher’s grinder (or chopped fine in the food processor)
One 6-ounce can of tomato paste
1 C whole milk
1 C white wine
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Get the meat ready- if you haven’t had the pancetta ground at the butcher, chop it and then give it a few rounds in the food processor until it’s finely chopped.
dec-2008_0238

dec-2008_0247
Place a 6-8 quart heavy bottomed pot over high heat. When the pan is hot, throw in half the meat (veal, pork, and pancetta combined) and let it brown, lowering the temperature as necessary to avoid burning the meat. This will take about ten to fifteen minutes, you need to get all the water out of the meat before it will brown. Resist the urge to move it around too much!

When the first batch of meat has browned remove it to a bowl and drain off any of the extra fat, if there is any. Throw in the second half of the meat and brown that too.

While the meat is browning, chop the vegetables.

dec-2008_02591

dec-2008_02801

After the second batch of meat is brown and you’ve moved it to the bowl, add the olive oil to the pan and then the vegetables, scraping the browned bits up off the bottom of the pan. This should be pretty easy, as the water from the vegetables cooking will help the brown bits release from the bottom of the pan.
Saute the vegetables until translucent and slightly soft, but not brown, about five minutes.

Add the meat back into the pot and then add the tomato paste, milk, wine, and thyme and bring just to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 1 to 1 ½ hours.  When it is done, it will look like this.  Don’t expect it to be too liquidy, a proper ragu has just enough liquid to moisten the meat.
dec-2008_0213
Season the ragu with salt and pepper, remove from the heat and let cool. The ragu can be refrigerated for up to two days (I think it’s better on the second day, for sure) and can be frozen for up to one month.

Serve over pasta (fresh is best, but I also love this with a good rigatoni like DeCecco) and garnish with freshly grated parmesan, salt and pepper.
A little tip: If you want to freeze some of the ragu, freeze it in an ice cube tray and once frozen, dump the cubes into a Ziploc freezer bag. That way, you can defrost only as much as you need.

Fresh and Simple

June 6, 2008

A few days ago I was perusing the archives of one of my favorite blogs, Smitten Kitchen.  I’ll just admit right now that I was at work, and yes, I was procrastinating, and yes, Deb has about a million recipes on her site so I may or may not have been clicking around for oh, I don’t know, the better part of an hour.  Shhhh!!  Now I think at least a few of you will know what I mean when I say that all that clicking around and staring at vibrant photos and thinking about recipes and thinking about how to tweak recipes and trying to remember what’s already in the fridge so that you won’t buy doubles next time you go to the store AND narrowing down the choices for what you might want to make next…(whew!)… well, it can make a girl’s head spin.  (Yes I know that was a run-on sentence, but work with me here, it’s a device, ok?)

So.  I took a step back from the computer, blinked a few times, and clicked one last time, promising myself that I’d make whatever recipe came up so that I could just get on with it and go back to work.  What showed up on my screen was this: Deb’s mother-in-law’s Russian Brown Bread.  As much as I wanted to make that, I needed more of a lunchy type of meal.  Luckily, Deb had included a link to her NPR feature on zakuski, or Russian hors d’oeuvres.  I made the Georgian Kidney Bean salad at the bottom of the page and loved it so much that I made a variation of it for lunch today.

Summer Pasta Salad with Kidney Beans and Cilantro
Makes about 4 cups

1 garlic clove, minced
1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1/2 to 1 whole jalapeno pepper, minced*
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 tomato, diced*
3 tablespoons white or cider vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

4 oz whole wheat pasta, cooked al dente
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper to taste

Put a pot of salted water on to boil (a very large pinch of salt should do the trick). While the water is boiling, mince the garlic, cilantro, and jalapeno, and place in a large bowl. Dice the onion and add it to the bowl, too. Add the olive oil and vinegar and whisk all ingredients together.

Once the water has come to a rapid boil, cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. (If you bite off half a piece of the pasta, there should be no trace of white on the interior, but the pasta should not be mushy either). Drain the pasta and add to the bowl with the other ingredients.

Toss the salad together and, if you’d like, let the salad sit for a little while at room temperature or in the fridge. This will give the flavors time to meld and will also cause the onions to soften and mellow a bit. When ready, serve at room temperature.

 *I didn’t have a jalapeno OR a tomato on hand the time I made the recipe for these pictures, but you should definitely include them when you make it!

Results: Make Martha Cringe

April 25, 2008

I have to admit I’m a little bit sad… I had really hoped that “Make Martha Cringe” would generate a bunch of responses.  I got a few comments and some people expressed interest, but in the end, I only got one (awesome) entry!  Maybe this is what happens when events first start?  Maybe no one wants to be tacky?  Oh man.. I’m still going to try again next month anyway and see if maybe it’s just going to take a little while to catch on.

Well, about the gorgeous photo you see above… My friend Kyle from Kumo-Art made “Shrimp and Fish in an Herb Sauce” and styled it with a decidedly 70’s feel.  I LOVE IT!  Way to go, Ky.   I have to admit though, I was hoping for something a bit more gaudy, but that doesn’t take away from how great this styling job is. 

My cousin also sent me this awesome picture of a “meat tree”, which was kind of exactly what I was looking for.

I hope these pictures inspire you for next month!!

When eating healthy is so, so, good.

March 31, 2008

Today was one of those days: too many vegetables in the fridge, not too much motivation to cook. What I almost always do in those situations is fire up the oven, get out the cutting board, and get ready to roast. Here’s some of my best advice. If you don’t already oven-roast vegetables on a regular basis, you really should start. It’s so, so easy, as healthy as you want it to be, and always leaves you with the most delicious, crispy edged, salt-kissed, olive oil caressed vegetables that took almost no effort at all. So turn on your oven already and roast something!

Really though, I’m not kidding. Almost every vegetable is good this way. Maybe I’m a bit obsessed but I swear, toss a vegetable with some olive oil, salt and pepper (and maybe some rosemary, or cumin-coriander-turmeric, depending on what you’re going for), put it in a hot oven (I usually do 450), and it will be good, promise.

Some suggestions are:

  • Broccoli with rosemary (the edges of the broccoli get all crispy and awesome)
  • Cauliflower with CCT (yes ok it’s a little bit Rachael Ray of me but it’s a lot to type out!)
  • Carrots with just olive oil, salt and pepper (or with CCT, that’s good too)
  • Zucchini (I like it best simple, with just olive oil, salt and pepper)
  • Rutabagas or Potatoes (both are good with almost anything, although I especially love potatoes with rosemary)

Seriously, the possibilities are endless.

This time I had rutabagas, red bliss potatoes, spinach, and edamame. I roasted the cubed the rutabagas and potatoes and roasted them with some cumin until their edges were browned and crisp. I sauteed the spinach with a bit of garlic, and just used the edamame as they were. Wanting something a bit more substantial than a side dish, I made some quinoa (one of my favorite grains) and scrambled an egg to add in as well. The only other thing I did was make a quick lemon-tahini dressing and this lunch (with enough leftovers for lunch tomorrow) was ready to go. I highly, highly recommend it.

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Root Vegetables and Tahini-Lemon Dressing
(serves 4 as a small main dish)

1 C uncooked quinoa

2 rutabagas, cubed
2 small red bliss potatoes
1 C edamame, thawed if frozen
4 C spinach, uncooked
1/4 C calamata olives, roughly chopped, or more to taste

One egg (just leave it out if you’d like the recipe to be vegan- maybe add some sesame/soy marinated tofu instead…)

1 teaspoon cumin

1 clove garlic, minced, or more to taste
1T tahini
1T lemon juice and a pinch of lemon zest

1/4 C Marcona almonds, sliced or chopped (for sprinkling on top)

Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil for sautéing

For the Quinoa
Rinse and drain the quinoa. Boil 2C of water in a small pot and then add the quinoa. Let cook, covered, over medium low heat for about 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed and the quinoa grains look like little curly cues. Take off the heat and set aside.

For the Root Vegetables
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees farenheit.
Peel the rutabagas and wash the potatoes (I like to leave the skin on). Cut both into half-inch cubes and then throw them on a heavy pan or cookie sheet with a glug of good olive oil. Sprinkle the cumin on top and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper (don’t go crazy, you can always add more later!)
Let cook until browned and crispy on edges (check after 15 minutes). Toss to get browning on other sides.

To finish and assemble the salad
Sautee the spinach in a small pan with a bit of olive oil and the garlic. Remove from the pan, and just use the same pan to scramble the egg, adding a bit of salt and pepper if you’d like.

Add the spinach, scrambled egg, edamame, olives, and roasted root vegetables to a bowl with the quinoa and toss quickly. Whisk together the tahini, lemon zest, and lemon juice and pour over, tossing again to coat. If necessary, add a bit more olive oil to the salad. Sprinkle the almonds over the top, and serve at room temperature.

Geez I guess it’s been a while…

March 9, 2008

Turkey Burgers, fist attempt

So, don’t ask me why, but the other day I got a craving for turkey burgers. Now, let me give you a little bit of background. I don’t do regular (beef) burgers any more, and honestly, I never thought turkey burgers were worthy of much praise. They always seemed to be bland, strange-colored, poor-substitute versions of regular burgers. Certainly not something I would order at a restaurant, let alone crave. Well, a couple of years ago, some friends and I went to visit our friend Steve’s parents out in central Pennsylvania. We got to his parents’ house, and his mom had prepared dinner for us. She presented us with a plate of just-grilled turkey burgers. I remember thinking, “Great.. I’ll just eat half of this to be polite”, but upon first bite I realized that I had been so, so, mistaken. These turkey burgers were delicious! In fact, I liked them better than any beef burger I had ever had. I hounded Steve’s mom for the recipe, and although she was very gracious and offered to email it to me, I foolishly never followed through. Now it’s been about two years, and I think it would be a little strange to call up Steve’s mom, who I have not seen since then, and ask her for her turkey burger recipe. Don’t you? Besides, I am a bit of a rogue in the kitchen and can not resist a chance to experiment, even if I really have no idea what I’m doing, and I’ll tell you this: I am a bit less than experienced with meat.

Annnnyyyway… So I had this craving for turkey burgers. It would NOT go away. I tried to lure M into making them with me (I need a companion around when I cook with meat, I’m a little intimidated!) on Friday night, but it just did not happen. We were too hungry and just went to chinatown for a quick malaysian meal which, in retrospect, was not a bad idea at all. So Saturday rolled around and I still wanted those damn turkey burgers! Well, to make a long story short, we made them. I guess that’s that. They were awesome! Of course, M and I are both wannabe gourmandes and can not stop at one dish, so we had to make a full lunch banquet (yes, just for the two of us, I know).

Our menu, french style. Can you tell we think we're funny?

This is EXACTLY what it looked like when we cooked lunch

As you can see from the “menu” above, we had:

-Pan-roasted asparagus with lemon and parmesan

-Turkey burgers

-M’s potato salad (without mayonnaise.. yes!)

and… as if that wasn’t enough already

-Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Ginger Bread (although admittedly, we were pretty full and only ate a few bites)

Well, let me tell you, this was all very good! It was also pretty impressive. M is into Iron Chef and gave us only an hour to make all of this, starting the moment we walked in the door. I have a very small kitchen and a mini oven, so this was quite the challenge. I’m proud to say, we did it! And I am known to be a notoriously slow cooker. Not bad!

I would like to post recipes for this stuff, but we made it up and don’t really remember the proportions. If you’d like the recipe for Nigella’s Chocolate Ginger Bread (yes, you would like this recipe), it’s in her book, Feast. Enjoy!


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