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Pancetta, Greens, Garbanzos

8 Mar

Hey, this was a more successful than usual “leftovers hash”, and only 20 minutes.

(cue typical low-light cell phone photo:)

Some good pancetta fried at low heat. A little water added to deglaze the pan and get the crusty bits off the bottom. A minced shallot sauteed in the fat. Then a few brussels sprouts I had (sliced thin), a coarsely chopped head of broccolini, and a few big pinches of white pepper, for variety. With the pan covered, fried/steamed on medium-low heat (stirring occasionally) for about 10 minutes.

I had the dregs of a can of tahini left, so I mixed that with a can of chick peas, olive oil, some raw garlic, and a splash of balsamic vinegar (I was out of citrus). For further acid, some powdered sumac I had left over from the Turkish(ish) dinner.

Quite good (and even better once I mixed them together and the pancetta greens could tame some of the raw garlic).

Salmon & Mushrooms in foil

5 Mar

I splurged a bit on ingredients– some wild-caught (I’d just read Righteous Porkchop) salmon,  between layers of sliced shallots, hedgehog mushrooms (so disturbingly spiny-looking when fresh…), black trumpet mushrooms, and kalamata olives, along with black pepper and Meyer lemon juice. No added salt (letting the olives stand in for that). I wrapped the whole stack in foil, crimped the edges, and baked it at 400 for about 17 minutes. Delicious!

“Served” (to myself, as a solo dinner) with sunflower sprouts and watermelon radish, which I amused myself by cutting into squares and arranging into houses of cards. Just because.

Lentil Soup, Radishes, Anise

21 Feb

Another (busy-at-work, forgot-to-invite-anyone-over) Tuesday CSA, another attempt to cheat time with the pressure cooker. I’d give this one a B+.

Similar to the last lentil soup: I sauteed some home-cured-by-a-friend and deliciously fatty/salty lambcetta, shallots, celery, carrots, and onions. Then I sweated a pound of lentils with it over medium heat for 5 minutes. Plus a few dried Nora peppers, chipotles, cayenne, a pinch of smoked paprika, 8 cups of water, and the lid came on, for 10 minutes at pressure. I opened it, added salt and black pepper to taste, and simmered it another 5 minutes. A whole Meyer lemon squeezed into the bowl for the last-minute acid. Pretty good. Could have used more meat or a meaty stock.

To go along with it, a salad with lettuce, fennel, pea sprouts, watermelon radish (refreshing & fun to look at), balsamic. And some lemon-anise hard candies from Miette.

 

Lentils, Kuri, Spigarello

31 Jan

Okay, too much eating out, back to cooking (mostly from the Tuesday CSA). I meant to invite a few friends over but didn’t plan ahead.

Red Kuri Squash, brushed with peanut oil, black pepper, and salt, baked about 30 minutes at 425F, until soft. No butter or sugar, and it was earthy and good with a dark belgian beer (St Bernardus Abt):

Spigarello greens, which taste uncannily like broccoli, but not bitter (shredded and sauteed with about 8 cloves of crushed garlic until just starting to wilt).

And continuing the attempt to make good quick legumes in a pressure cooker (after one failure, and one non-pressure-cooker, slower, more involved success):

Sauteed four thin-sliced shallots in the open pressure cooker, added half a pound of lentils (no liquid), and sweated them over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring. Then I added some dried peppers (nora, guajillo), two bay leaves, and four cups of water (I didn’t have any stock or pork to add). I closed the lid, brought it up to steam temperature, cooked for 10 minutes, then did a quick release of the pressure by running the pot under cold water. Hey, the lentils were perfectly done this time, with good texture and a little liquid still remaining… but blander than I wanted. Browsing the cupboards, I added a heavy pinch of cayenne powder, a bit more salt, a quarter of the dark beer, a little sauteed garlic from the spigarello, and a dash of cholula. After about 5 more minutes of simmering on low, I tasted it– spicy, and pretty good! I added juice from a meyer lemon and it was even better.

 

Excellent Lentil Soup (Toasted Spices, Spinach, Lemon)

6 Jan

I have mixed luck with soup, but this weekend I made the best lentil soup I’ve had. And no, that’s not intended to be damning-with-faint-lentil-praise — it was delicious.

I used The New Best Recipe for initial inspiration (their key insight being sweating the lentils first), but also made some changes:

I cut two strips of bacon into pieces and cooked them until done but not crispy.

I sauteed two minced shallots in the bacon fat (with the bacon still in) a few minutes until translucent, added 3 cloves of crushed garlic, 2 bay leaves, a crushed dried nora pepper from Tierra Farms, and about 1tsp of whole cardamom seed, turmeric, and cayenne powder, a little black pepper, and sauteed/toasted that for a few minutes.

I sorted and rinsed a cup of lentils, then added them to the spices (without any other liquid) and cooked them for about 8 minutes on medium, stirring. This was the “sweating”.

Then I added about 1/4 cup of cooking rice wine, 2 cups of chicken stock, 3 cups of water, brought them to a boil, then turned it down to a simmer and cooked for about 20 minutes– the lentils were tender but not mushy or falling apart. I fished out the bay leaves, then used an immersion blender to blend a small amount of the soup.

Finally, I tossed in a whole head of spinach (rinsed and de-stemmed), and gave it 2 minutes in the simmering soup to slightly wilt.

At this point, it was already good, but I squeezed a quarter lemon’s worth of juice into the bowl before eating and it was even better (addition of something acidic had worked well when I made black bean soup). I also chopped up some stale bread I had.

Great success!

Bean & Kale Soup, Steak, Squash, Spinach Salad

27 Dec

Using the new pressure cooker to try to make beans quickly:

A mix of classy-looking anasazi beans and white navy beans from Tierra Farms, soaked for about 12 hours, drained, then combined with 3 cups water per cup beans, half an onion, two bay leaves, two dried guajillo chiles, a few garlic cloves. Pressure cooked for 15 minutes (from the time the steam started escaping), which it turns out was longer than needed– they were very soft by the end of this.

At the same time, a few slices of bacon, a diced onion, and a few cloves of minced garlic were fried, then mixed into the cooked beans along with a shredded head of red kale, some paprika, oregano, salt, and pepper, and simmered for another 20 minutes or so. Good, though it could have simmered for longer. I’ll see how it is after sitting a day.

Also part of dinner: squash (butternut squash cut in half, rubbed with sesame oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted at 400F until soft– about 30 minutes. Kept in the fridge for a day, then reheated and mixed with a bit of maple syrup), a steak (seared on a stovetop grill), salad (spinach, pomegranate seeds, olive oil, white balsamic vinegar), Acme sourdough, tea, wine, and chocolate. A simple feast with friends, from about an hour of evening-cooking effort.

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Chick peas, spinach, broccoli, redemption

21 Dec

Chick peas, spinach, broccoli, redemption

Nothing fancy: Chick peas with onions, lots of garlic, cardamom, turmeric, a little tahini, lime. Roasted broccoli and spinach salad. And a Russian River Redemption (belgian-style blonde).

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Bean / Escarole / Sausage soup, Roasted Vegetables

12 Dec

Kidney Bean / Escarole / Sausage soup, Roasted Vegetables

Helping a friend work through his CSA on a cold and somewhat gloomy evening:

Soup of sauteed onions/garlic/carrots, kidney beans (white and black, half mashed), chicken broth, sage, parsley, and roasted garlic precooked sausage, simmered together for 10-15 minutes. Then a full head of shredded escarole was added for another 5 minutes (covered). And hey, the rest of the soup actually managed to keep the escarole in check and mask the bitterness.

Roasted broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage (I’d never tried roasting cabbage– crispy/soft and delicious).

Wild rice.

Black Beans, Garlic, Oyster Mushrooms, Pomegranate

6 Dec

Everything except the beans and spices came from today’s CSA:

Improvising during a month of (mostly) working late: A minced onion and six(!) cloves of crushed garlic were sauteed with toasted cumin seeds and a little salt for about 10 minutes. Then black beans (one can), whole oyster mushrooms, the seeds of half a pomegranate, and a quarter of an Anchor Steam Christmas Ale were added, and cooked on medium-low for another 15 minutes or so. Hey, the result was surprisingly good– meaty, slightly spiced and sweet.

Also: steamed escarole and pea shoots. Bland and slightly bitter. I’d never cooked escarole and didn’t do any reading about it, so I’m sure there’s some better way. [edit: I've been informed that caramelization is key, or subsuming it into a stronger-flavored dish such as a meaty bean soup]

Shepherd’s Pie

30 Nov

The CSA box this week was potatoes, onions, celery root, beets, sprouts, and kiwis, so continuing my CSA-inspired-dinner-with-one-or-more-friends Tuesdays: Shepherd’s Pie!

  • Potatoes and celery root diced and boiled until soft, mashed with some butter, salt and white pepper and some cheese.
  • Diced onions, garlic, and golden beets (since I had no carrots or celery) sauteed until soft, then ground lamb and some spices added to them, and a little red wine.
  • The potatoes layered on top of the meat in the same cast iron skillet, topped with grated cheddar, and broiled in the oven a few minutes to brown the top.
  • Pea shoots and broccoli on the side (with a sesame oil & sriracha sauce– nothing to do with the rest of the meal)

I’ve always been a sucker for shepherd’s pie, and this was a very simple version, but it turned out especially well. The bits of diced beet were a nice touch.

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