Sunday, August 30, 2009
I'm starting school this week, and also my new job. This means 10 hours of class and three part time jobs. As you can imagine, I'm anticipating being quite busy this fall! But the last few weeks have been scattered through with days of doing nothing around the house, and I've worked hard to soak up that calm feeling. I made this pasta for lunch one day, which was a luxury I won't have with my new busy schedule.
Honestly, this recipe came about as I was working on cleaning out my fridge and pantry. I had two partial boxes of short pasta, some green beans that were starting to turn a little less green, a potato that was growing sprouts, and some pesto Joe made last week. I was flipping through my Everyday Food cookbook looking for dinner ideas for the week, and I happened upon a recipe that called for all the ingredients I wanted to use up. Perfect!
Pasta with Pesto, Potatoes, and Green Beans
from Everyday Food
2 medium potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes (peeled if you want, I skipped it)
8 ounces short pasta
8 ounces green beans, trimmed and halved
1/2 cup pesto
Place the potatoes into a large pot of boiling water, bring to a boil. Add one tsp of salt and the pasta, return to a boil, and cook two more minutes. Add the green beans, return to a boil, and cook until the vegetables are tender and the pasta in al dente, about 6 minutes. Drain, toss with the pesto, and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Friday, August 28, 2009
This batch of fresh corn came right around the time I was craving chowder. I looked up recipes online, but a lot of them called for gross stuff like creamed corn in the soup. That was NOT the refreshing summer chowder I was dreaming of! I also wanted some potatoes in my chowder, so I went off searching for "corn and potato chowder". This recipe came from the Whole Foods website , and added cheese into the mix. What that meant was corn chowder perfection. I used my fresh corn instead of frozen junk, and I mixed a little half and half in with my milk for extra creaminess. Joe and I agreed that this was the perfect way to highlight the crunchy, sweet corn. The soup was indulgent without being too rich, and the potatoes added enough bulk to make this really fill you up. We had BLT sandwiches on the side, and thought this was the epitome of a late summer dinner.
Cheddar, Corn, and Potato Chowder
3 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon flour
32 ounces vegetable broth
2 1/2 cup diced Yukon Gold potatoes (about 4 large)
2 cups frozen yellow corn
2/3 cup milk
1 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper (garnish)
Chopped parsley (garnish)
In a large saucepan over medium high heat, melt butter and sauté onion about 5 minutes, until tender. Mix in flour, coating the onion. Add broth and bring to a boil, whisking constantly until smooth. Reduce heat, add potatoes and simmer 20 minutes until tender. Slightly mash potatoes in soup, then stir in corn and milk. Cook another 5 minutes, remove from heat and stir in cheddar cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish, if desired.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
watermelon with lemonade. You could strain the watermelon
if you want to avoid chunks of fruit, or leave a little texture in it for
something different. Either way, this will quench your thirst!
I have a feeling a little vodka would mix nicely, too.
Last week I was with my sister in St Louis, and I took some time out on Friday afternoon to make a nice summer meal for us to enjoy on the back porch. I took some inspiration from the Kirkwood Farmers Market, where I found beautiful heirloom tomatoes, juicy watermelon, farm fresh green beans, and little red potatoes.
I got the tomatoes from the CJ's stand, and I was so pleased with the whole experience. The girls working at the stand were friendly and knowledgeable, and they seemed to really take pride in the local products they were selling. If you're in the St. Louis area, look out for this seller at Kirkwood Market. I'd go back to them anytime! The tomatoes are (clockwise from the top) German Striped, Brandywine, and Cherokee Purple.
I wanted to serve the tomatoes simply, so we would focus on their flavor. I sliced them up, added some blanched green beans in the middle, and drizzled a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper over the whole platter. They were amazing! So sweet and juicy, we couldn't get enough of them. Between me, my sister, and my dad, we finished off the whole platter! We did agree that we had a hard time tasting the difference between the three types, but also said we would tell the difference between these babies and store bought tomatoes any day.
I also kept it simple on the potatoes. I quartered them, and tossed with minced fresh thyme and some salt and pepper. I roasted them in an incredible non-stick casserole pan my mom bought when they lived in Europe. It browns potatoes better than anything I've used in my kitchen. I tossed in some halved cloves of garlic when the potatoes were starting to brown, and the bits of garlic browned nicely without getting burned. Yummy!
The final part of our meal was a goat cheese and herb tart inspired by David Lebovitz. He posted an Herbed Ricotta Tart on his blog about a week before, and I stumbled across it when I was catching up on blogs while stuck at my parents house with no keys. It looked too good to resist, so I decided the tart would complement my farmer's market finds. I pretty much followed his recipe, but used scallions and goat cheese in my version. It was quite delish, although I realized as we were eating that I'd made a different goat cheese tart before, and I wish I'd tried this one with ricotta. The crust was the Chocolate and Zucchini recipe for Olive Oil Tart Crust, and I didn't love it. I was so happy when it didn't shrink when I blind baked, but it ended up pretty hard and not at all flaky. I don't know if it was over baked, or if it had to do with the whole wheat flour. I might try it again, though, because I really did like the ease and ingredients in this tart crust.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
1 1/4 pounds carrots
olive oil, toasted sesame oil, or red chile oil for a finishing drizzle
Take the tops off the carrots (if they have tops) and give them a good scrub. Cut them into 1-inch segments and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and saute for a few minutes or until the onions start to get translucent. Add the stock and carrots and bring to a gentle boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes or until the carrots are tender - longer if your carrot pieces ended up larger. But try not to overcook. Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes.
Puree with a hand blender (sometimes I leave the soup a bit chunky, other times I go completely smooth) - then stir in the lemon juice. Now salt to taste. If you used a salty veggie stock, you might just need a little salt. If you used water, you'll need quite a bit more. Keep adding a few pinches at a time until the carrot flavor really pops. If it tastes flat or dull, keep adding. Finish with a drizzle of great extra-virgin olive oil, one of the other drizzles I mention up above, or whatever twist you come up with.
I think the fact I ate about 4 slices with our pasta that night was a sign of how I felt about this bread! It was really moist with a great crusty outside. Simple flavor, and was nice and chewy. I ate it sliced and plain, and also toasted it. It was great for dinner, and for caprese inspired sandwiches the night night, and for a couple mornings worth of toast. I will be making this again, and most likely soon! Once the weather turns fall-like this will be great with soup. As soon as I bit into this I knew where all the hype came from. If it weren't for the "Beard on Bread" recipe that is rising in my kitchen right now, I think I'd be craving more of this loaf right now!
New York Times No Knead Bread
Published: November 8, 2006
Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Anyone who blogs about food would probably agree with me when I say I plan some meals specifically so that I can post about them. There are probably one or two recipes per week that I pick out and plan specifically because they sound like something I'd like to share on this site. But pulling out the camera can get a little old, and I sometimes just want to eat my dinner without thinking about how I would describe the taste to someone else! Does anyone feel me on this?
This Chile Verde was a dinner I made when the blog was far from my mind. I actually made it the night before and let it sit in the fridge overnight, because the recipe recommended letting the flavors marry. Also, I was going to be working until 7:00 the next evening, so I thought it would be really nice to have dinner 95% ready to go when I got home. So I got home from work, threw the dutch oven back on the stovetop, and patiently waited for the chile to reheat. Not thinking too much, I grabbed a couple bowls, ladled in full scoops, and sat down on the couch with Joe. Being an example of what's wrong with dinner in America, I had my eyes on the TV as I went to take the first bite. WOW! I was amazed with what was going on in the chile. The pork was fall apart tender, and the tomatillos had melted into sauce. The chunks of poblano peppers added the perfect amount of spice, and as the recipe predicted, the flavors really did marry nicely. I forced myself to stop eating long enough to tell Joe to grab the camera, and after a few shoddy pictures I settled back into the couch to really savor this fantastic stew. If you wanted to make this yourself, I would really recommend making it the night before, then putting it in the fridge until the next day's dinner. I think it would also be nice to freeze some of this, then have it on hand for a busy night. Once it gets cooler in Chicago I can promise you I'll be making this again!
from Cooking Light (2005ish?)
1 Tbsp canola oil
2 (1 lb) pork tenderloins, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup all purpose flour
4 cups chopped onion
2 lbs small tomatillos, husks and stems removed and quartered
1 lb Anaheim or poblano chiles, cut into 1 inch pieces (I charred and peeled the skin, too)
6 garlic cloves, chopped
3 cups water
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
Heat canola oil in a stockpot over medium high heat. Sprinkle pork evenly with salt and pepper. Place flour in a large zip top plastic bag, add pork to bag, seal, and shake to coat. Add pork to pan and saute for 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove pork from the pan.
Add onion, tomatillos, chiles, and garlic to the pan. Saute about 8 minutes, or until tender. Add pork, water, and remaining ingredients to pan. (It will seem very chunky, but that's ok) Bring to a simmer, cook for 2 hours until pork is tender, stirring occasionally. If saving for the next day, allow the chile to cool to room temperature and then put in the fridge overnight.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
the Art Insitiute's new Modern Wing. If you've never
been to the Art Institute, I would highly recommend
it next time you're in town!
One of my favorite places to enjoy a weekend afternoon is at Millennium Park, located in the heart of the city. While it can be quite the tourist destination, I love that this park is really a hang out spot for all types of locals as well. On the weekends you can spread a blanket on the grass at Pritzker Pavilion, and enjoy a picnic while listening to performers rehearsing on the stage. Even on a beautiful weekend it isn't too crazy crowded, so you can throw a frisbee or football to balance out all the cheese eating you might be doing.
They were fun to listen to AND to watch.
If you really want to treat yourself, you should get your picnic supplies from Fox and Obel, a fantastic gourmet market in Streeterville. The French boule with herbes had a soft interior with a chewy crust, and was the perfect vehicle for shoveling cheese into our mouths. It was huge, too, so I brought some home and used it for breadcrumbs a couple nights later. We had three types of cheese, which the friendly and knowledgeable cheese monger helped us select. We told him our picnic plan, and he picked a balanced spread which he cut into perfectly portioned pieces.
The top cheese (next to the turkey) is Taleggio, a soft cow's milk cheese from Italy. It was stinky in the way that makes cheese so tasty! The one next to it was Mona, a hard cheese made of sheep and cow milk. This cheese from Wisconsin had a texture that reminded me of asiago, and was salty and almost buttery. The third cheese, on the bottom of the picture below, was our favorite. It's Bethmale de Chevre, a washed rind goat's milk cheese from France. It was creamy and rich, and had a hint of goat cheese flavor without being as zingy and overpowering as some chevre can be. All three cheeses were quite enjoyable!
These cute little sangria boxes came from Target, and I would highly
recommend picking some up before your next visit to the park!
If you want to be an authentic Chicago 20-something, after the park you should head to a street festival. Listen to cover bands and people watch while drinking a ridiculous yet awesome pina colada in a pineapple. Also, the chicken gyro in his other hand was quite delish... I ate mine before I could document it!
Sunday, August 9, 2009
The movie Julie & Julia came out last Friday. I wasn't sure what to expect, because there had been tons of publicity before the movie and that is not always a sign of a good film. But I was excited, and insisted on seeing the movie on opening night. Aside from the fact we had to sit in the front row (full house!), I adored the move! The actresses did a great job with their characters, and I thought they did a great job combining the two stories in a way that really flowed. The movie made me want to cook, blog, eat, and live in Paris... so really it was all my usual emotions captured on film! I would recommend gathering your foodie friends to check out this movie, and have a French food feast planned for before the movie. But plan your cooking times carefully, to avoid arriving late and sitting in the front row :)
I made a broccoli and mushroom quiche for our dinner, with potato gratin and roasted green beans. Not the most summery meal, but it was a cool and rainy day in Chicago. I wanted to make the ratatouille from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but we'd had a busier day than I expected and I decided roasting green beans would be much more manageable. The quiche recipe was inspired by a recipe in Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. Here's my version.
Savory Herb Pie Crust
5 ounces all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp herbes de Provence
8 Tbsp cold butter (1 stick), cut into about 8 pieces
3 Tbsp ice water, plus more if necessary
Combine flour, salt, and herbes de Provence in a food processor and pulse once or twice. Add the butter and turn the machine on; process until the butter and flour are blended and the mixture looks like cornmeal, about 10 seconds.
Add the three tablespoons of ice water, and process again until the dough comes together. Add more water if it's too dry, or a little flour if it's overly sticky. Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, form into a disc, and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to one day. Proceed with quiche recipe below.
Mushroom and Broccoli Quiche
1 recipe Savory Pie Crust
4 Tbsp butter or olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced onions
2 cups fresh broccoli florets, in bite sized pieces
2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
1/2 tsp dried thyme
6 eggs, at room temperature
2 cups cream, half and half, or milk, heated until just warm
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Roll out the chilled pie crust and place into a pie dish. Bake the crust for about 12 minutes, until it begins to brown. Remove from the oven and let cool while you prepare the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.
Boil or steam the broccoli for about two minutes, so it's tender crisp and not fully cooked.
Put the butter or oil into a large skillet that has been warmed over medium high heat. Add the onions and saute for 3 or 4 minutes, until starting to soften. Add the sliced mushrooms and saute for an additional 5 minutes, until mushrooms and onions are softened. Add the thyme and broccoli, stir, and take off the heat.
Combine the eggs and creme in a bowl, then add to the mushroom mixture. Place the partially cooked shell onto a baking sheet, and pour in the egg mixture. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the quiche is almost firm and lightly brown on top. It should still jiggle a little in the middle. Cool on a wire rack, and serve either warm or at room temperature.
I have had mixed experiences with dried mushrooms, so I was eager to see what the Marx ones were like. We've used dried shiitake mushrooms from the Asian grocery stores before, and I haven't been too impressed with their texture and flavor when reconstituted. The Marx dried mushrooms seemed to be better quality when they arrived, and they were different types that would be fun to compare.
After soaking them in hot water, the mushrooms looked and tasted close to fresh.
Sun Dried Tomato Paste is another trick to add extra flavor to a basic tomato sauce.
The finished pasta, with a fresh salad to round out the meal.
I mixed Oyster and Maitake mushrooms into this stir fry, with broccoli, snap peas, and marinated tempeh.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
I added the tomatoes to a pasta salad I'd made the night before.