Monday, December 27, 2010

Peanut Chicken Soup

Do you, too, have sniffles? A winter cold? You need chicken soup. Chicken soup cures almost all ills, and doubly so when the peanut sauce you happen to add in has a touch of spice to it.

This soup got very high reviews from Clive, though that may be in part because he was out in today's chilly rain for a few hours on the his bike. Whatever the reason, the soup is happy and good and good for you.

Peanut Chicken Soup
Serves 4

2 T olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
4 chicken thighs, chopped
1 small head broccoli, chopped
4 T peanut sauce, prepared
1 quart stock (chicken or turkey)
1 bunch udon noodles
1/3 c cilantro, chopped
1/3 c scallions, chopped
1 t pepper, or to taste

Heat a large dutch oven or soup pan over medium heat until warm. Add the olive oil and heat to just shy of simmering. Add the onions and sweat briefly; 2-3 minutes.

Add the chopped chicken and cook for 5 minutes, until the chicken has started to cook through. As the chicken begins to cook, add the broccoli and the peanut sauce, stirring to coat all the ingredients with the peanut sauce. I used a prepared peanut sauce that has a little spice to it and right about this point, the house started to smell amazing.

Pour in the stock and stir to get any bits off the bottom of the pan. Allow the soup to come to a simmer, then throw in the udon. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or according to the package directions.

Stir in the cilantro and scallions and taste the soup. Add pepper to taste. Serve.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Catalonian Pizza

It seems I am relatively lackluster when it comes to posting. I have a good excuse, I'm sure. Somewhere.

Last night, I made pizza. It was delicious and everything pizza should be. The crust was thin and crisp and the cheese was melty and happy. I'm relatively picky about pizza, because with food that's simple, there's less of a margin for error. Translation: there's lots of bad pizza out there. This was very good pizza.

The recipe originally came from Wine Bar Food, which I constantly flip through looking for ideas and inspirations. My favorite so far is a recipe that basically amounts to grown up pizza rolls. This one is a close second. I did make one fairly substantial tweak to this recipe. The original recipe called for two pounds of manchego cheese. Two pounds. I love manchego; it's delicious and wonderful and reminds me of Spain. But two pounds? Depending on where you get it, manchego can cost you between $12 and $20 a pound. I may love pizza, but there's no way I'm dropping $40 on cheese for these bad boys. So say hello to mozzarella, which has a far more wallet-friendly price point:

Catalonian Pizza, adapted from Wine Bar Food to reduce the cheese by half and switch to mozzarella, which does not cost $40.
Serves 4
1 recipe pizza dough
6 oz chorizo
4 fresh tomatoes, sliced thin
12 oz mozzarella, grated
1/4 c cilantro

Preaheat the oven to 500° F.

Saute the chorizo until browned, about 5-7 minutes. Drain any grease. Divide your pizza dough into four pieces. Roll each into a 12 inch square.

Move the dough to a baking sheet and top with 1 cup shredded mozzarella, then thinly sliced tomatoes, then the chorizo.

Bake 12-15 minutes, until the cheese is browned. Remove and top with the cilantro.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My Favorite Mashed Potatoes to Date

Mashed potatoes are surprisingly difficult to make really well. I'm not sure how many times I've messed them up. Not to the point that they were inedible, but definitely to the point that they were boring. Dry. Uninspiring.

These are not sad or dry or uninspiring. Unfortunately, they're not really that healthy, either, what with the butter and the heavy cream. I'd say make them once with the butter and the cream, and then amend the recipe to get a balance between flavor and instant arteriosclerosis.

Mashed Potatoes, adapted from Cooking from the Farmers' Market to reduce the butter and cream to less threatening levels.
Serves 4
1 1/2 lb yukon gold potatoes, cut into 2 inch cubes
1 1/2 lb parsnips, peeled, core removed, and cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 c heavy cream
1/4 c butter
3 T chives, chopped
1/2 t salt

Add the potatoes to one pot and the parsnips to a second pot. Add enough water to each pot to cover the vegetables by an inch. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes, or until you can pierce them with a knife.

Use a ricer or masher to mash the potatoes and parsnips into a bowl. Add the butter and stir to combine. Add the cream incrementally, stirring until your desired consistency is reached. Add the chives and salt.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chicken Soft Tacos Are Awesome

I'm not sure why, but tacos aren't something that make it onto my radar very often. It's not that I don't like them, it's just that I tend to forget about them for months at a time. Today, though, I went grocery shopping after work and by the time I got home, tacos sounded better than anything else on the menu. Speaking of shopping, have you noticed that the stores almost seem MORE crowded after work than they do on weekend afternoons?

These originally were going to be vegetarian tacos, but I ended up having a little more chicken than I needed for the Chicken and Broccoli, so I ended up adding the chicken to this.

They may look like regular tacos, but they're yummier. You'll have to trust me on that one.

It was a good move.

Chicken Soft Tacos
Serves 4
3 T olive oil
3 chicken thighs, trimmed
1/2 t cumin seeds
1/2 t fennel
1/4 t chili powder
3 green chilis
1/2 c onion, diced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 t cumin seeds
1/4 c tomato, diced
1 T orange juice
1 t salt
1 t pepper
1 1/2 t oregano

Sour Cream

In a small sauce pan, heat one tablespoon of olive oil. When it's warm, add the cumin and oregano and stir until fragrant, about a minute. Add the diced onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the beans and 1/4 c water. Simmer to meld the flavors, about 20 minutes. Periodically mash some of the beans so they break open. Stir in the orange juice and simmer 5 minute more.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add the chicken, fennel, cumin, salt, chili powder, and allow the chicken to brown, about 5 minutes. Turn the chicken and cover. Reduce the heat and cook through, 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of your chicken.

Remove the chicken from the pan and dice; return to the pan with diced chiles, salt to taste, and a splash of orange juice.

Serve with warm tortillas and the toppings of your choice.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Menu Series: Comfort Food

Most of the time, Seattle rain is more of a gentle, misty rain. You might get slightly wet, but it's not wet enough to prevent you from going outside, going for runs, or doing yard work. Sometimes, though, we get solid, serious rain. This weekend, we had a few of those days back to back and it put me in a comfort food sort of mind.

Mashed potatoes and parsnips? Yes, please. Braised cabbage? Absolutely.

This week's menu is for unhappy weather when you need a little pick-me-up. As last week, as I make things and remember to take pictures, I'll come back and link to the recipe.

Also? This week? I bought half a goat. You read that correctly. Half a goat. I can't wait. It's pre-butchered and has about 7 different cuts. I can't wait to experiment and see the options available to me.

The Menu:
Chicken and Broccoli
Braised cabbage with apples and pork chops
Wild rice and mushroom pilaf
Chicken soft tacos
Pork medallions with roasted figs

The Grocery List:
chicken thighs
white rice
1.5 lb apples
1 head red cabbage
pork chips
2-15 oz cans black beans
green chiles (canned)
1 lb mixed mushrooms
pork loin
1.5 lb parsnips
1.5 lb yukon gold potatoes
heavy cream

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Rolled Eggplant

Sometimes a recipe calls for a particular pan. Sometimes I ignore the recipe and use whatever pan is closest or prettiest. That is not always a good idea, because you'll get to the point in the recipe where you're supposed to be done, and your pan will be more than half empty. The pretty pan, you see, is quite a bit larger than the 9-inch pan called for in the recipe, and the eggplant rolls look sad and lost.

But the pretty pan is pretty. And the 9-inch pan is not as pretty.

This was so good. I'm pretty sure I could eat this once a week, and would, if it wouldn't likely have an adverse effect on my ability to fit in my pants.

Rolled Eggplant with Sausage and Mozzarella, adapted slightly from Cooking from the Farmers' Market
Serves 4
2 Asian eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices
1/4 c plus 2 T olive oil
salt and pepper
5 oz Italian sausage, casings removed
2 c crushed tomato
1 t oregano
1/2 t salt
1 t pepper
1 c ricotta
4 T mozzarella, cut into small pieces
2 T Parmesan
1 T parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 450F. Brush the eggplant on both sides with the 1/4 c olive oil, then salt. Bake until lightly browned on the bottom, 10 minutes, then turn each piece and bake 7 minutes more. Remove from the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 350F.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage until browned, 5 minutes. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper. Simmer 10 minutes.
In a bowl, mix the ricotta, mozzarella, half the Parmesan, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread half the tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9-inch pan. Place a spoonful of the cheese mixture near the wide end of each eggplant slice, roll up, and place upright in the sauce. Spoon the remaining sauce between the rolls. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.

Bake until bubbling, 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tuscan Bean Soup, the Happiest Soup Ever

I've been making this soup for years. I don't remember when exactly, but a friend gave me the Food for Friends as a gift. I have a lot of cookbooks, but this is one that stays in the kitchen because there are some definite keepers in here, recipes that I come back to again and again, tweaking them here and there; adding this, trying that.

This is absolutely one of those recipes. It's delicious in its simplicity and so easy to adapt based on what you may have in the pantry. When the crisp fall air comes to visit, here's just something so comforting about soup, and this soup in particular.

If you have it on hand, this is also really good with thin curls of Parmesan on top. But cheese makes everything that much happier, doesn't it?

Tuscan Bean Soup, adapted from Food for Friends
Serves 6
1 T olive oil
4 oz pancetta
1 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, diced
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 can cannelini beans, rinsed
4 Italian sausages
1 quart chicken stock
1 bay leaf
bunch of parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

  1. Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat; add olive oil, carrots, celery, garlic, pancetta, and onions. Saute over medium heat 8-10 minutes, until softened.
  2. Add the beans, sausage, stock, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer 30 minutes.
  3. Remove the sausages from the soup and slice on the diagonal. Return the sausages and their juices to the soup.
  4. Add the parsley, remove the bay leaf, and serve.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Menu Series: Fall is Here

I make menus every week when I make my grocery list. It helps keep me focused and means I'm less likely to come home from the grocery story with cheese sticks and beer and call it good. It also means we seldom go to the grocery store more than once a week. That's a huge improvement from when we were going two or three times a week because we'd forgotten the baguette, or the pork chops, or the spinach.

I'm going to start tracking my menus here so that you can use them and so I can reference them on those days when I just can't think of any inventive meals. I'm also going to include my grocery list. If you choose to use the list, you might want to do some double checking against the recipes. If I have something in my pantry already, it probably won't make it onto the list.

As I make them, and if I post them, I'll come back and link to recipes.

The Menu:
  • Tuscan bean soup

  • Squash Risotto

  • Roasted Beet Salad with pork chops

  • Spaghetti and Meatballs

  • Rolled Eggplant

  • Scallops and Oranges

  • Grocery List:

  • mozzarella cheese

  • 4 oz pancetta

  • 1 can cannelini beans

  • spicy italian sausage

  • parsley

  • carrots

  • celery

  • chicken broth

  • pork chops

  • beets

  • 4 oz goat cheese

  • 1/2 c walnuts

  • spaghetti

  • 2-28 oz cans tomatoes

  • 1 1/2 lb asian eggplant

  • bulk sausage tomatoes

  • 1 naval orange

  • 1 blood orange

  • 1 lb scallops cilantro

  • 1/2 lb ground pork

  • 1/2 lb ground turkey

  • squash

  • risotto rice
  • Monday, October 4, 2010

    Ding, Dong The Witch is Dead

    Not that I'm celebrating overmuch, but I finished a quilt that has felt like an albatross around my neck for the last month. In May, I volunteered to make a quilt for a charity auction in October. In May, it seemed like I had plenty of time - more than enough time - so much time... Anyway, you get the picture. Things sound so easy when you're looking at them from five or six months out. Then October shows up and you realize that five or six months have become a week.
    Not that I panicked or anything.
    Ok. I panicked a little.
    And then I sewed and sewed and sewed. And cursed the thread that kept knotting.

    Usually I'm glad a quilt is done because I like it and I'm pleased when what I've made, that I created something.

    This one, sadly, I have to say I was just glad to be done with it. Maybe that will teach me to be more efficient with my time and commitments.
    Ha. Fat chance.

    Sunday, October 3, 2010

    Chocolate Gingerbread

    There's a bite in the air that can only mean that fall is officially here. Fall is one of my favorite seasons. I love the changing leaves, especially on Japanese Maples, the flowers, and I love that since it's cooler, it's better running weather.
    This is also one of the few times a year that gingerbread sounds really good. I'll almost always accept gingerbread on the off chance that someone offers me a slice, but I seldom make it. But when the air gets brisk, tea and gingerbread sounds perfect.

    I don't remember how I stumbled upon it, but about two weeks ago, I found Lara Ferroni's blog Food Travel Life. Someone had linked to her chocolate gingerbread, and it sounded amazing. To ensure I wouldn't lose the recipe, I left the tab open in my browser over those two weeks (a habit that befuddles Clive).
    Today, life calmed down just a little bit, and a two hour window of time was open before me. I made gingerbread. There are few things that make a house smell so amazing as gingerbread. It smells like the holidays, but without the stress and chaos (and without the mandatory deep cleaning).
    If you are a fan of chocolate and ginger and having a house that smells divine, you should make this. I used a standard loaf pan, hoping to have gingerbread for breakfast for the next few days. If things continue as they started out, that might be wishful thinking, since the loaf is half gone already. If you suspect something similar may happen in your house, I'd recommend doubling the recipe; it won't go to waste.

    Chocolate Gingerbread, from Food Travel Life
    Makes one loaf

    1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    2 tablespoons natural cocoa powder
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    a pinch of ground nutmeg
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    4 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    1 egg
    1/2 cup buttermilk
    1/3 cup molasses
    2 tablespoons crystalized ginger, diced
    3/4 cup chocolate chips

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly butter a loaf pan.
    2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Set aside.
    3. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix. In a small bowl, mix the buttermilk and molasses together and add all at once to the butter mixture. Don’t worry if the mixture looks a bit curdled.
    4. Add the flour mixture and mix to combine. Fold in the crystalized ginger and chocolate chips. Turn the batter into the prepared pan.
    5. Bake until a knife comes clean, about 1 hour. Cool on a wire rack before serving.

    Monday, September 20, 2010

    One of the first food blogs I started reading was Gluten Free Girl. I read, and read, and kept reading, for a long time, almost four years now. I enjoy her writing style and I use a lot of her recipes as inspiration. Her cornbread is a household favorite.

    I like what she writes and cooks, so I was excited to try some of the recipes from her new book. Not only because they were gluten-free (though they are) but because they looked brain-meltingly delicious. There were three recipes that were for the making: Seared Shrimp with Garlic-Almond Sauce; Pasta with Anchovies, Lemon, and Olives; and Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies.

    I took the Seared Shrimp with Garlic-Almond Sauce to a Labor Day BBQ, where it received rave reviews. The garlic-almond sauce was so, so good and complimented the shrimp... and the grilled portobellos, zucchini, onions, and everything else we had on hand. There was no way we were wasting any of that sauce.

    The pasta, I'll admit, I thought would be a harder sell. Pasta with anchovies, lemon, and olives sounds relatively innocuous, but I'm rather anchovy-averse. In the spirit of trying things out, though, I made this. Somewhere along the line, my thoughts on anchovies were entirely revamped. The anchovy, lemon, and olive had bright, happy, zesty flavor that combined so well and made such an impression. This pasta convinced me that anchovies deserve a second look.

    And... brownies.
    I can be picky about brownies, and these Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies came in pretty high on the list. The crust was nicely crispy and the centers were fudge-y and soft and delicious. And perfect with ice cream. They didn't last long.

    This food is good. None of what I made was met with a qualified "well, they're good for gluten-free" - they're just good. I, personally, am not gluten-free, and to be honest, I didn't make these simply because they were gluten-free. I made them because the food that Shauna and Danny make is amazing, plain and simple. These are recipes that will pop up again and again in my kitchen in various forms for years to come - as it should be with good food.

    They're from Gluten Free Girl and the Chef: A Love Story with 100 Tempting Recipes.

    Tuesday, August 31, 2010

    Spicy Avocado Mango Salad

    This salad was a side dish to the Coconut Shrimp, but it would be a shame to limit it - it's a super adaptable salad. It would be delicious as a side - or as the base - with a Jamaican jerk pork loin, turkey burgers, chicken... You see where I'm going with this. Any place you might want to add a bit of crunch and gentle spice, this is a great option.

    And it couldn't be easier.

    There is jalapeño in this salad - I only used half, because I'm a bit of a spice wimp. If you're particularly fond of them, use a whole pepper. The spice in the jalapeño is really fantastic with the avocado and the mango and it strikes a great balance. That balance is part of what makes it so adaptable.

    One word of caution: go easy on the sesame oil. A little goes a long, long way, and it's easier to add more than it is to start over.

    Spicy Avocado Mango Salad
    Serves 4 as a side dish
    3/4 c mango, peeled and diced
    1/2 c red pepper, diced
    1/2 c avocado, chopped
    1/2 c onion, diced
    1 c bibb lettuce, diced
    1/2 jalapeño, seeded and minced
    1/2 t chili flakes
    1 t sesame oil
    1 T white wine vinegar
    1 T olive oil
    1/4 t salt
    1/4 t pepper

    1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to combine.
    2. Devour.

    Monday, August 30, 2010

    Coconut Shrimp with Mango Rice

    While I was making these, I was getting a little frustrated. I was getting hungry, which means my patience was waning. I always forget how time-consuming it can be to bread thing; especially when those things are small and numerous. The words "these had BETTER be worth it" may have been muttered.

    They are.

    Panko is the perfect breading for these, because it doesn't overwhelm the subtle flavor of the shrimp, and the crispiness the panko brings to the party is a lovely compliment to the toasted coconut. To make these even more perfect, they're baked, not fried, so they're light and crispy with no hint of greasiness.
    Like a lot of breading adventures, this is a three step process: flour, egg, breading. Try to use one hand for the flour and breading steps and the other hand for the egg step. If you use both hands for all three steps, as I did, you'll end up with a sticky mess of floury, eggy mess stuck to your fingers.

    Learn from my errors.

    The slightly sweet mango rice is a fun side dish. A note on the agave syrup. If your mango is more ripe, you probably won't need it. The mango that stumbled home with the produce this week was a little on the not-quite-ripe-enough side. I recommend you add the agave syrup at the last minute so you can taste the rice to see if you need it. (Honey would be a good substitute, but sugar will probably be gritty, since it won't have time to be incorporated.)

    Coconut Shrimp with Mango Rice
    Serves 4
    16 prawns, peeled and deveined
    1/3 c flour
    1 egg
    1 T milk
    1 c coconut flakes
    1/2 c panko
    1/2 t chili flakes
    1/2 c mango, peeled and diced
    1 3/4 c water
    1/4 c milk
    1 c long grain rice
    1/4 t salt
    1 T agave syrup

    1. Preheat the oven to 370°. Toast the coconut in a dry pan over low heat. Divide the coconut in half.
    2. To bread the shrimp, add the flour to a shallow pan. In another shallow pan, sit together the egg and 1 T milk. In a third shallow pan, mix the panko, 1/4 t chili flakes, and half the coconut.
    3. Pour the water, the other half of the coconut, and 1/4 c milk into a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Keep an eye on it as the milk will make it prone to boiling over. Add the rice and stir; turn the heat to low. Add the diced mango and stir, then cook the rice for 20 minutes, or until fluffy. Stir and set aside.
    4. While the rice is cooking, butterfly the shrimp so they lay flat. Dip each shrimp first in the flour, then the egg mixture, then into the panko/coconut mix. Transfer to a baking sheet.
    5. Bake the shrimp for 15 minutes, or until pink and curled. Serve with mango rice and salad.

    Thursday, August 19, 2010

    Pizza: Spinach and Sausage

    Summertime is made for pizza and decks and cold beer. Ideally, that is. In a perfect world, Clive and I would have eaten this pizza on the deck late one evening while the weather cooled off and the dog hunted bees. We would have sat outside, chatting and watching twilight set in. In reality, however, we ate this on the living room floor as we huddled around the coffee table. Are we really that lazy that we couldn't have walked the extra 10 feet to get outside to glorious summer?


    No, we are not that lazy. We live in Seattle, and I made this pizza as consolation for the fact that it was August and raining. A lot.

    So while pizza may be made for summertime, it's also good for rainy days.
    This was a fun pizza to make, and it evolved as it went. There's a thin layer of roasted tomato paste on the bottom that intensifies the flavor, but doesn't overwhelm or compete with the other flavors. I used my (clean!) fingers to spread it around because the back of the spoon wasn't cutting it.

    The tomato paste was followed by a thin, think layer of grated gruyere and a layer of tomatoes. That's the other wonderful thing about summer: fresh tomatoes. I have tomato plants on the deck, but they're ... a bit lackluster. I have five plants, and I'm on track to harvest four tomatoes. I'd like to blame the plants or the weather, but I'm getting closer and closer to acknowledging that perhaps, just maybe, I don't have a green thumb. The farmers' market, fortunately, fills that gap nicely.

    I steamed spinach and cooked down onions and sausage and piled that on top of the tomatoes. Grated Parmesan topped it off.

    When it came out of the oven, it looked like this. It didn't look like this for very long, though, because as soon as it was safe to eat without burning the roofs of our mouth, we devoured it.

    Poof. Just like that, it's gone.

    Spinach and Sausage Pizza
    1 recipe pizza dough
    1 T roasted tomato paste
    1/4 c gruyere
    2 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
    1 lb spinach, wilted
    3/4 lb sausage, casings removed (or bulk sausage)
    1 onion, sliced
    2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
    1/2 c parmesan

    1. Spread or roll our your pizza dough and cover the top with the tomato paste. Don't be afraid to use your hands to spread the tomato paste into a thin, even layer. Sprinkle the gruyere over the top, then evenly space the tomatoes.
    2. In a pan over medium heat, sautee the onions and sausage until the onions are translucent and the sausage is browned. Add the spinach to the pan along with 1/4 c water and cover. Keep an eye on it, but cook until the spinach is wilted - 2-3 minutes.
    3. Squish the excess water out of the spinach as you transfer the mixture to a bowl. (If you don't squish out the water, the pizza crust will end up soggy and icky.)
    4. Spread the sausage, onion, spinach mixture over the tomatoes, and sprinkle lightly with salt. Crumble the goat cheese evenly over the top and grate Parmesan over the whole pizza.
    5. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the crust is dark golden brown and the cheese is lightly toasted.

    Saturday, August 14, 2010

    Project; Squares, Revisited

    This is what I've been doing lately on the quilting front:

    Cutting out 720 little squares and 130 larger squares.

    It took longer than I thought it would, though I can't imagine why I thought it would be a quick project to cut out sixty three bazillion squares. Let that be a lesson to me!

    Also, I'm not liking this quilt much. I keep reminding myself that I rarely like them until they're all put together, but I have to force myself to work on it because it doesn't inspire me.

    But I did cut out a million billion squares, so I'm going to call it good and be happy about that. Deal?


    Friday, August 13, 2010

    Rice Cakes of Deliciousness

    Yesterday I found myself with about 3 cups of leftover rice. Leftover rice in our house is one of those funny things that either ends up in something delicious or sits in the fridge until I start to wonder if eating it would be A Very Bad Idea. Then it goes into the compost bin. I've never left it in there long enough for it to start growing things or changing color, though. I don't even know if that's possible. I would assume it is. Does rice turn colors if you leave it in the fridge long enough?

    This rice had a happy, delicious end that was very loosely inspired by croquetas. If you've never had croquetas, they're amazing and you owe it to yourself to track them down. These honestly couldn't have been easier to make and the panko gave them a fantastically delicious and crisp crust.

    The rice and goat cheese will come together much more nicely if you aren't afraid to get your hands dirty. It's just goat cheese; it will wash off.

    Rice Cakes
    2 c rice, cooked and cooled
    1 oz goat cheese
    2 T onion tops or scallions, diced
    1/2 t salt
    1 t olive oil
    1 egg
    1 T milk
    1 c panko or bread crumbs
    1 T grated cheddar
    1 t dried parsley
    1 tomato, sliced

    1. Combine the rice, cheese, salt, and onion in a medium bowl and mix well.
    2. In another bowl, beat the egg and whisk in the milk. In a separate bowl, mix the panko, cheddar, and parsley.
    3. Form four patties from the rice mixture and dip them in the egg mixture. Flip them to coat the patties with egg; then move the patties, one at a time, to the panko mixture. Flip the patties and make sure they are coated with panko.
    4. Heat a saucepan over medium-low heat. When the pan is hot, add 2 T olive oil and heat. When the oil is warm, add the patties to the pan. Cook them 5-7 minutes per side, until golden brown and warmed through.
    5. Serve with sauteed kale or a salad topped with tomato.

    Wednesday, July 28, 2010

    Fishmongers know their stuff

    Have you ever asked your fishmonger what they'd recommend for a particular fish? If you haven't, you really ought to. I stopped at the store today to buy salmon for dinner tonight, but my eye was caught by the marlin. I've never made marlin before, and it looked good. Having never made it before, though I probably would have assumed it wouldn't stand up to strong flavors.

    I asked the fishmonger what he'd recommend I do with it and he came back with two suggestions. Either a lime, chili, cumin marinade or something with rosemary. I don't really remember the second one because right after he "marinade," he said "mango salsa."

    How could I not?

    Chili powder, cumin, lime, mango salsa - those flavors stood there and yelled "SUMMER! It's SUMMER!" With an argument like that, I had little recourse.

    For the salsa, if you don't like the spice of the pepper, scrape out the white ribs and the seeds. If you like heat, leave them in. The salsa does need a bit of kick, though, so don't skip it altogether. If you really don't like spice, choose a mild pepper - even green pepper.

    A hearty thank you to fishmongers everywhere who know their stuff and give excellent advice to the curious and the new-to-marlin among us.

    Marlin with Mango Salsa
    1 marlin steak
    2 limes
    1 t chili powder
    1 t cumin
    1 t oregano
    1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
    1 mango, peeled and diced
    1/4 c onion, diced
    1/2 t salt
    1 t olive oil

    1. Mix the chili powder, cumin, oregano, and lime juice in a shallow pan and add the marlin. Make sure the fish is coated with spice on both sides and let it marinate for up to 15 minutes. (Beyond that and the lime juice will start to cook the fish.)
    2. In a separate bowl, prepare the mango salsa by stirring together the mango, jalapeno, onion, salt, salt and pepper. Allow the salsa to sit and the flavors to meld.
    3. Heat a saucepan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add 2 T olive oil and heat. When the oil is hot, pour out 1/2 t and add to the salsa. To the remaining oil, add the fish. Cook 5-7 minutes on each side, until cooked through.
    4. Serve with mango salsa.

    Monday, July 19, 2010

    You Should Make This Pork Roast

    Every once in a while, something sounds good, and then I try to make it, and it works. I mean really works. This is one of those things.
    Not too long ago, I had a pork roast sandwich at Homegrown. The pork was made with a coffee rub and it was one of the best sandwiches I've eaten in forever. If you haven't gone to Homegrown, I totally recommend it.
    I wanted to try a coffee rub, but I've tried making things with ground coffee once, and it didn't turn out well. It ended up gritty. Using actual prepared coffee seemed like a good way around the grit.
    Seriously. Try this. It rocks.
    This roast did dual duty; something I wish I could make happen more often. It was part of a meat and potato night last night with roasted beet salad, and shows up later in the week as shredded pork tacos.

    Pork Roast
    1 t ground ginger
    1 t cumin
    1 t salt
    1 t garlic powder
    1/2 t pepper
    1/2 t dried oregano
    1/4 t cinnamon
    1/4 t smoked paprika
    2 T prepared coffee
    1 Pork Roast

    1. Mix all dry ingredients together, then pour prepared coffee over the mix and stir to create a paste. Cover the pork roast with the paste, and put the roast into a plastic bag and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
    2. Preheat the oven to 400.
    3. Heat a medium oven-proof pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 t olive oil to the pan and heat until just shy of shimmering. Sear all sides of the pork roast, then move the pan to the oven. Roast for 35 minutes, or until cooked. (A good rule of thumb for pork is 20 minutes per pound at 400.)

    Friday, July 16, 2010

    Random Pantry Meals, Tuna Noodle Casserole Edition

    There are a few foods that have the potential to be creepy and/or terrible under the wrong circumstances. Think chafing dishes or buffets. Tuna Noodle Casserole, Salisbury Steak, and Meatloaf are all really high on the list.
    I had high hopes tonight for a cress pesto. When I went to look at the cress in the garden, though, I realized I'd be lucky to get a cup of leaves; let alone the almost 5 cups I needed. My yard is less than ideal from a food perspective. Kale grows really well. Everything else languishes and is sad and pathetic.
    Since the pesto was a non-starter, I raided the pantry and came up with noodles, tuna, and panko. The fridge had half and half and pepper jack.
    Tuna Noodle Casserole? It's actually really good. You can't really tell by the pictures, but we did actually use plates.

    Maybe one of these days I'll feel particularly adventurous and I'll try Salisbury steak. I'm not going to hold my breath for that one, though.

    Tuna Noodle Casserole
    1 T butter
    1/2 onion, diced
    1 rib celery, diced
    1 c crimini mushroom, chopped
    2 T sherry
    1 t soy sauce
    1/2 t salt
    1/2 t pepper
    2 T butter
    1/4 c flour
    1 1/2 c broth
    1/2 c half and half
    1 t paprika
    1 can tuna, drained
    3/4 c pepper jack, grated
    2 c panko
    1 T vegetable oil

    1. Preheat the oven to 375. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and heat until they start to sweat. Add the mushrooms and salt and cook 3-5 minutes. Pour in the soy sauce and sherry and cook 3 minutes more.
    2. Push all the onion and mushroom mixture to once side of the skillet and add the remaining 2 T butter on the empty side of the pan. Sprinkle the flour over the butter and cook until the flour becomes golden, stirring occasionally. Once the roux has become golden, whisk in the broth and allow to simmer. Pour in the half and half and then stir the entire pan to incorporate the mushroom mixture. Add the paprika and tuna and season to taste.
    3. Cook the pasta according to the package, then drain. Add the pasta to the mushroom mixture and stir. Turn into a medium baking dish.
    4. Stir the grated cheese, panko, and 1 t oil in a small bowl, then pour on top of the casserole.
    5. Bake 25 minutes until the top is golden, then bask in the awesome.
  • Friday, July 9, 2010

    Quilt Top Done!

    As with so many things, this started with shopping, had a misguided detour through planning, and finally ends up done. Ish. 

    The quilt that I've been working on since (apparently) March (gulp) is finally mostly, almost, kind of done. The top is done, and I'm really pleased with how it turned out. 

    The remaining bits, of course, are to find a suitable backing fabric and binding fabric. I saw a fantastically hilarious pirate fabric at the store the other day, but a woman snatched it all up. Since she was muttering to herself about "the pirates, the pirates, the pirates come out to play!" I figured it was better to just let her have it.

    Thursday, July 1, 2010

    The Calendar Says July but the Weather Says March

    It's July 1. We're definitely, officially, 100%, smack-dab in the middle of summer. And yet, today, in Seattle? 62 degrees. That was the high. The low was 54.

    And so on this summer day, I had polenta and sausage, which can be found on the List of Things to Eat When It's Frozen Outside. It was wonderful and I loved it. In concession to the calendar, I did put mizuna, fresh tomatoes and avocados on top. I heart avocados lately. Mizuna belongs in the "green stuff" family, if you're not familiar with it. It's a little spicy like arugula, though it's technically in the mustard / cabbage family.

    Polenta intimidated me for a good long while. It seemed like it was hard work and there was all that stirring.
    If a recipe includes the words "stir constantly," odds are good that I'll skip it. Particularly if they're followed by the words "for 30-40 minutes." If I'm stuck to the stove for that long, there damn well better be chocolate involved. Fortunately, Alton Brown rescued me with a baked polenta. It does still require a whisk, but not 30 minutes of constant whisking, thankfully. I wholeheartedly recommend this recipe. I've never had polenta turn out with clumps, or burnt to the bottom, or icky in any way. It's always been delicious.

    Once the polenta has been cheese-ified, stack on the sausage.

    Tomatoes, salt, and pepper.

    Delicious, happy mizuna and avocado.

    I liked the difference in texture from the polenta and sausage and mizuna. The mizuna also made it a little more interesting.

    Polenta and Sausage
    1 recipe polenta
    1 T olive oil
    6 oz beer
    4 sausages
    1/2 c diced tomato
    1/4 c diced avocado
    1/4 c chopped mizuna
    1/4 t salt
    1/4 t pepper

    1. Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the sausages and the beer. The beer should just shy of halfway up the sides of the sausages. Cook over medium heat for 20-25 minutes, turning them periodically.
    2. Slice the sausage into 1/2 inch pieces.
    3. Layer the polenta, the sausage, the tomato, the mizuna, salt and pepper, and top with avocado. Serve.

    Friday, June 11, 2010

    Melted Onion Crostini

    Do you read Culinate? It's a magazine that might change how you think about food. It did for me. The recipes they post there are clean and simple and good. I will admit that neither of the shortbread recipes I tried worked, but millet cookies, polenta, and red sauce have been home runs. But more than that, the site provides an absolute ton of inspiration for me.

    Not always, perhaps, the way it's intended.

    I saw this recipe for Marmalade of Spring Greens not long ago and thought it sounded really good. Unfortunately, it was early in the morning before I was really awake, and I misread the title. The picture still made sense with what I read - Marmalade of Spring Onions - so I bookmarked it and went on with my day.

    When I came back to it a few days later and read the ingredients, I was more than a little confused - there weren't even onions in the list. My way sounded better to me at the moment, though, so I pulled out the spring onions, a leek, a baguette, and a bit of salt. The onions and leek went into a pan on low heat. To melt.

    Have you ever melted onions or leeks? It's fantastic. It brings out the sweetness and softness of the onion and makes the flavor deeper.

    When I tasted it at the end, though, it needed cheese. Honestly, though, what doesn't taste better with cheese? A tiny sliver of pepper jack went on top of the baguette slice. I would like to tell you that the pepper jack was an inspired choice. The truth, though, is that pepper jack was what I had in my fridge. It did end up working out perfectly, though.

    The verdict? I have been graciously permitted to make these whenever I want. In husband-speak, that's a euphemism for "These are really effen good and I love them and you."

    You'll have to take my word on that one.

    Melted Onion Crostini
    6 slices baguette
    1 T olive oil
    1 T butter
    1 bunch young red onions, sliced
    1 small leek, sliced
    1/2 t salt
    6 slices pepper jack, thinly sliced

    1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a sauce pan over medium heat.
    2. Add the onions and salt to the pan and turn the heat to medium-low. Stirring occasionally, cook the onion mixture until greatly reduced in volume, 20-30 minutes.
    3. Cut the baguette into six slices and top each with a thin slice of cheese. Mound the onion marmalade on top. Serve.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010

    Shrimp Fra Diavolo

    The weather is very June-like. Only more so. I saw a bit on the news last week. As of June 4, we'd already met the average rainfall quota for the entire month of June. Four days in, we had 2.14 inches of rain mucking about. Most of it is in my tomatoes, and they're angry and yellowing and generally bad tempered.

    But today, between the very un-Seattle-like driving rain, there were sunbreaks. And so I'm declaring it Almost Nice. And when it's Almost Nice, I can cook Food That is Good for Almost Nice Weather. It's a separate section of the food world and things like Shrimp Fra Diavolo and Stir Frys (Fries?) live there.

    But I don't have a wok, because I have no where to store it. I had a spot, then I got a food processor, and so Stir Fry is out and Shrimp Fra Diavolo it is.

    Because it was Almost Nice, I also went for a run (which was crap, because I know you're super curious). This dish is doubly fantastic because it's incredibly satisfying without making me feel like I completely invalidated all my running.

    Unfortunately, we were too impatient to wait and so there's no picture of this on a plate. Rest assured, though, that we did eat this off plates.

    Shrimp Fra Diavolo
    Serves 4
    2 T olive oil
    1 1/2 c shrimp, peeled and deveined
    2 cloves garlic, chopped
    1 large shallot, chopped
    1 medium onion, chopped
    1 c chopped fresh tomatoes
    1 (14 oz) can crushed tomatoes
    1 c white wine
    1 t oregano
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    8 oz spaghettini
    2 T parsley, chopped
    1 t dried red pepper flakes

    1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, then set aside.
    2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shrimp and cook, turning once, until just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Add garlic and both onions and cook until they're translucent.
    3. Add the fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, wine, and oregano to the pan and stir to combine. Stir in the salt and pepper, and simmer on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are soft and sauce has thickened. Mine took roughly 20 minutes.
    4. Add the parsley, red pepper flakes, spaghettini, and the shrimp to the pan and stir to combine.

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010

    Progression of squares

    Ages and ages and ages ago, I posted pictures of fabric. I didn't do anything with it until recently because my dining room table was covered in laundry or camping gear or any number of things I didn't want to be bothered with.

    We don't often eat at the dining room table. We're more "sit on the floor by the coffee table" type people.

    Then the laundry went away, and the camping gear went away and the table was clear. And bits of fabric became blocks for a quilt.

    Bit by bit, I'm cutting them down and sewing them together again.

    Because I'm a rebel, I'm not using a pattern (read: I can't be bothered to find a pattern I like). It might come back to haunt me, but for the time being, I'm happy with my progress.

    There's been more since these, and there will be scads more before I'm done, but for the time being, I'm happy with the progress, and it's good to have a project going again instead of sitting there, mocking me for not clearing off the dining table.

    Thursday, May 20, 2010

    Orzo with Three Onions

    You know why this meal is so awesome? Start to finish, it took me 15 minutes. Fifteen. Minutes. That's it.

    And? And?

    Totally good.

    I went for a run tonight when I got home, and when I got back I got distracted by the dog.
    She's cute and she likes to run around with squeaky toys. Also? Bat ears. It's funny. Also, I'm easily distracted. So, one minute turned into 45 minutes and suddenly I was starving. Three onions, you ask? Yellow onion, leeks, and chives, together in yumminess.

    This was the answer to my hunger.

    Quick. Easy. Cheesy. Delicious.

    Orzo with Three Onions
    Serves 4
    1 T olive oil
    1 T butter
    1/2 c onion, diced
    2 medium leeks, chopped
    1/4 c chopped chives
    1 head broccoli, chopped into roughly equal pieces
    1/2 c peas (I used frozen)
    3/4 c orzo
    1/4 t red pepper flakes
    1 t salt
    1/2 t pepper
    2 oz goat cheese
    1. Boil a 3 qt pot of water with 1/2 t salt. When the water boils, add the broccoli, orzo, and 1/2 t salt.
    2. Heat the olive oil and butter in a pan over medium high heat. Add the onions, leeks, and 1/2 t salt and saute for about five minutes until the onions and leeks are tender.
    3. Add the red pepper flakes and peas and stir, cooking until peas are warmed through, about 3 minutes.
    4. Once the peas are warmed through, stir in the goat cheese and chives, and 1/4 cup of the pasta water.
    5. Drain the broccoli and orzo and combine with the onion mixture.
    6. Serve; sprinkle with Parmesan if you like.