Sunday, July 25, 2010

What I cooked this week, Episode 7

It would appear I spoke too soon regarding getting back on the wagon. This week was all about the comfort food--gotta beat this cold San Francisco summer somehow!

Episode 7, July 19-July 25

Grilled cheese with bacon and avocado
Grilled cheese

Not a lot to explain here: cheddar and Gruyère, with crunchy bacon and creamy avocado, on white bread.

Grilled cheese and creamy gazpacho
Grilled cheese and gazpacho

What better to have the night after having grilled cheese, than grilled cheese again? This time I mixed it up with some pecorino Romano, and a cup of leftover gazpacho on the side--a pleasant twist to the grilled-cheese-and-tomato-soup cliche.

Chili with kidney beans and carrots
Making chili with kidney beans and carrots

A favorite of ours from Smitten Kitchen, this chili is as easy to make as it is hearty. I added carrots for a little sweetness and crunch. Best thing about this recipe? It makes a ton, so I've lunch for the next week (at least!).

I'm planning a post on how to make this dish for midweek--look for it!

Baguette french toast
Baguette french toast

Half a stale baguette leftover from a weekday lunch became Sunday's brunch, along with some crispy bacon--a delicious way to waste not. As tasty as this was, though, I am about ready to give up on traditional breakfast items, which have not yet failed to set off our smoke detector (which is too high to reach).

Butter chicken with eggplant
Butter chicken with eggplant

A trip to the farmers' market is always a good source of inspiration (in addition to being a source of good produce!). An eggplant beefed up this recipe from Tasty Kitchen, in additional to the young brown hen from the egg vendor. I enjoyed this curry dish more than the one I usually make--with heavy cream and cilantro "to taste," how could it go wrong?

Next week: some green vegetables!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What I cooked this week, Episode 6

Another week with some slight slacking off--my mother came to visit for several fun-filled days. Yet despite spending more time out of the apartment than usual and dining out more than usual, I managed to miss cooking only one weeknight meal. I'm also padding this post with a coupe lunches, because I had the photos, so why not.

Episode 6, July 12-July 18

Pasta "carbonara" with peas and pancetta

Pasta "carbonara" with peas

If you want to know why I put "carbona" in quotation marks, I suggest you read @Houston_Foodie's excellent series of posts about the definitive spaghetti alla carbonara (actually, I recommend it in general). My version was a hastily-thrown together substitute for the risotto I had planned but no longer had the time to execute, and despite its inauthenticity, was quite delicious. These may have been the last farmers' market peas of the season, as I didn't see any this past Sunday.



I've been following Smitten Kitchen's hummus recipe for awhile now, and I will go ahead and say that you owe it to yourself to go the extra mile and cook the chickpeas yourself. It's just not the same with canned. I had already cooked these--when I cooked the chickpeas for last week's tagine, I made twice as many as I needed so that I could later make hummus (I saved a cup of the cooking water, too). I diverge from the recipe by adding a little olive oil to the puree at the end, for flavor. I serve it with extra olive oil on top, plus a sprinkling of paprika and cayenne. This made a lunch or two, plus a few sessions of snacking during Mom's visit.

Brie on baguette

Brie on a baguette

Unless your definition of "cooking" includes any meal that involves a chef's knife and a hot oven, this was really cooking. But it was a nice way to spend Bastille Day: toasty baguette, melty Brie, and juicy farmers' market tomatoes on the side. (Thanks to @hi_im_monkey for the suggestion!)

Scrambled eggs with shallots

Scrambled eggs

Maybe I'll include a photo of scrambled eggs on toast every week!

Creamy gazpacho with goat's milk yogurt and pecorino Romano cheese crisps


This was a perfect Sunday morning brunch, thrown together in a few short minutes after returning from the farmers' market laden with fresh produce. I don't have much experience with gazpacho, but I really appreciated how it lets the fresh flavors of the raw veggies stand out. This NYTimes version is enriched with yogurt, and I liked it a lot. The cheese crisps are fun and pretty easy; I'll have to remember them as a garnish more often.

Pan-fried salmon, garlic-roasted eggplant, and blue lake beans with onions and garlic

Salmon, green beans, eggplant

Roasted eggplant is one of my new favorite things. Maybe it's all the olive oil I used, but these came out creamy and buttery. Mmmmm. I'm still trying to decide whether the delicious crispy salmon is worth the preparation; I really despise getting splattered with hot oil. (Also? Never buy seafood from a FM vendor without checking on the price first--ouch.)

I should be back on a roll this week, as life settles back down.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

What I cooked this week, Episode 5

This was the first week since I committed to this cooking schedule that I didn't make dinner on two week nights. I blame the fact that we got into town late and exhausted on Monday night after driving back from Lake Tahoe. Anyway, I made up for it by cooking dinner both Saturday and Sunday.

Episode 5, July 5-July 11

Spinach-ricotta ravioli with meat sauce



I'd made fresh pasta twice before (ravioli and noodles), and I really wanted to try ravioli again. The trouble is, I don't have a pasta press, which means I have to roll out the dough by hand, which is a lot of work. I'm glad I tried it again, and the results were pretty tasty (even if I overcooked the ravioli just a bit), but I am not sure it's entirely worth the effort. Who wants to buy me a pasta press for my birthday? Side note: I tried to make Andrew's famous meat sauce for the topping, but it didn't turn out quite right, leading me to conclude that I should leave the meat sauce making to him.

Rosemary-garlic roast pork with stewed cherries

Roast pork with booze cherries

I had a bag of cherries that had been sitting in my fridge for long enough to get mushy, but not so long to as to have gotten moldy. Not wanting them to go to waste, I asked my friend Jeters what do with them, and she suggested making a sauce for pork or duck. Done! I had never made a pork roast before, and this recipe from How to Cook Everything turned out superbly, moist and flavorful. After pitting a pound of cherries using a knife and my fingernails (no fancy cherry pitter here!), I cooked them with red wine, a little thyme, lemon, and salt. Delish.

Scrambled eggs with fresh herbs

Scrambled eggs

After last weekend's scrambled eggs success, I knew I had to have a repeat performance. Instead of scrambling them with cooked onions, this time I added a mix of fresh herbs (thyme, basil, and marjoram). Again, light and fluffy and not overcooked! I ate mine on toast with a side of avocado.

Chickpea tagine

Chickpea tagine

Another Mark Bittman recipe, this was a great one-pot dinner, giving me yet another way to use the hens I buy at the farmers' market. I brought an unopened package of chickpeas with me from Houston when we moved, and decided to start using them up. Plus tomatoes, onions, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, dates, and bulgar--yum.

And I cooked twice as many chickpeas as I need so that I can make hummus later this week!

Also pleasing: both the pork roast and the tagine allowed me to use the chicken stock I made a couple weeks ago.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What I cooked this week, Episode 4

Apologies for the late post this week; we were busy getting our relaxation on this weekend at Lake Tahoe, and then spent spent Monday driving back to San Francisco in holiday weekend traffic, 100+ degree weather, with no air conditioning in the car. ANYWAY, without further ado...

Episode 4, June 28-July 4

Curry with chicken and English peas

Chicken curry with peas

I bought another young brown hen at the market, and more fresh peas--gotta take advantage of the fact that Andrew likes them! This dish is based on a Mark Bittman recipe for using up Thanksgiving leftovers that I have thoroughly enjoyed.

Chicken salad with walnuts and cranberries

Cranberry walnut chicken salad

I used the rest of the chicken to make a portion of chicken salad for myself for lunch one day from this Smitten Kitchen recipe. It was okay; I think something got off when I reduced the yield. However, I've been enjoying the leftover cranberries and walnuts.

Pizza with eggplant, prosciutto, ricotta, and basil

Roasted ggplant and prosciutto pizza

Roasted ggplant and prosciutto pizza

Half a batch of pizza dough leftover from last week (I froze it), leftover farmers' market Japanese eggplant from last week's ratatouille. I roasted the slices of eggplant first, and I could have eaten them all. I now find myself encouraged to cook with eggplant more often (especially since Andrew seems to like it).

Butterscotch sauce

Butterscotch sauce glamor shot

Another win from Ratio, I originally decided to make butterscotch because a) the recipe sounded simple and b) I had leftover cream to use up and also happened to have the called-for apple cider vinegar. In short: I think I've found what I'm making for Christmas presents this year. This sauce is simple to make, delicious, and it keeps. Only way to make it better--adding homemade chocolate sauce?

Bacon-wrapped cream cheese-filled jalapeño poppers

Jalapeno poppers

These, inspired by the Pioneer Woman, were my contribution to our Fourth of July smorgasbord (along with Hemingway Daiquiris). They served as a surprisingly fiery amuse bouche to the franken-ribs*, grilled corn on the cobb, and baked potatoes that we ate to celebrate our nation's independence. Some of the poppers were mild, and others had us drowning our faces in milk--good times, good times.

Not pictured: the most excellent scrambled eggs I made everyone for breakfast the morning prior. Seriously, I haven't been happy with scrambled eggs in ages, but it seems that my reading has paid off, and we ended up with delicious, fluffy, not-overcooked eggs. I didn't think to take a photo, sadly. (The secret is to stir them continuously and stop while they're still wet!)

Now, I'm going to go enjoy some some vanilla ice cream with butterscotch sauce. Mmmmm.

*They came vacuum-sealed, pre-sauced, and "microwave-ready." I don't think words "microwave-ready" should be applied to ribs, but maybe that's just me. (I did not buy them, in case that wasn't clear.)