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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.

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.

Thanksgiving Food

24 Nov

Breakfast:

 Picking lettuce for a light lunch:
Dinner (I made squash with crispy sage butter, and brussels sprouts with bacon and sauteed onions):

Apple pie*, later:

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope your food and family or friends afternoons treat you well.

* Which included my first time making pie crust in quite a while, and perhaps my first-ever lattice top? Ahh, delicious geometry. I used a basic dough recipe modified to use 1/5th whole wheat flour, and 50/50 shortening and butter.

Steak and Greens, take three

20 Nov

Apparently I’ve been on a steak-cooking kick— three times in three weeks?

I shopped at Olivier’s Butchery for the first time today, and picked up a grass-fed filet mignon. Sure, not cheap per pound… but $9 for what ended up being one of the better steaks of my life isn’t bad compared to going out…

Prep counter: steak covered in black pepper and a little salt on both sides, green beans, baby broccoli, sunflower sprouts (all from the CSA box), and shallots.

After heating some olive oil and peanut oil over medium heat in a cast iron skillet, I dropped in the (thick) steak:

After four and a half minutes on each side, I took the steak off and let it rest under a foil tent (does that actually make a difference?) for 5 minutes, while I lightly steamed the beans and baby broccoli and made a pan sauce:

  1. Over medium heat, I sauteed a minced shallot and 3 small crushed cloves of garlic in the remaining oil and fat for a few minutes.
  2. Then I deglazed the pan: I added maybe 1/4 cup of red wine (which quickly boiled away) and used it to free the crunchy bits of meat and fat and seasoning left in the pan, then added another 1/4ish cup of wine and reduced it over the course of a few minutes.
  3. Finally, I melted a Tbsp of butter into the meat-bits-and-reduced-wine mixture, and spooned it over the steak.

Here it is: pepper-crusted filet mignon (medium-rare) with a simple pan sauce and three kinds of green vegetables:

Very good!

Deviled Eggs, Pickled Fennel, Kale, Squash w/ Sage Butter

11 Nov

CSA Week Two, a recent trip to City Beer, and a friend visiting from Boston inspired another little dinner party:

Deviled eggs (perhaps the best variant I’ve made: hard boiled eggs, the yolks mashed with quite a bit of olive oil (and no mayo!) and a little mustard, salt, and pepper, sprinkled with smoked paprika, and topped with crispy-fried capers, a crowning touch inspired by this printer & piemaker post).

Salami (Olli Napoli, smoked pork with red wide– fine but not remarkable, I probably wouldn’t buy it again).

Lightly-pickled fennel (two days earlier I boiled a mix of 1 part white vinegar to 2 parts water, with a few tsp of mustard seed, 1 tsp salt, and maybe 1/2 tsp coriander seed, then poured the hot liquid over a jar of sliced fennel and refrigerated it). I wasn’t sure anyone else would like it but we ate the whole pint.

Kale (minced shallots cooked in sesame oil over medium heat for 10 minutes until crisping. In parallel, kale boiled/steamed in about an inch of water for 8 minutes, rinsed in cold water and drained, then added to the skillet with the shallots for a few minutes).

Carrots brushed with olive oil and roasted for about 20 minutes at 400F.

Squash: a butternut squash and an acorn squash, each cut in half and brushed with olive oil and baked at 400F face down for about 40 minutes, until soft. I actually did this two nights before, scooped out the squash, and put it in the fridge, reheating it the night of the dinner. With a little salt and pepper and sage brown butter drizzled over it right before serving (5 Tbsp of butter melted over medium heat with maybe 1/4 cup of chopped fresh sage for 5-10 minutes). Quite good, and easy.

And the meal only took about an hour to make (not counting the prep a few days before).

Beer included Upright Brewing’s Six (a slightly malty rye beer, which I continue to love), La Fin Du Monde (a belgian-style tripel / golden ale), Upright Flora Rustica (from a Portland trip, saison-style but slightly vegetative and strange, in a good way), and La Trappe Dubbel. And Corona, but we won’t talk about that.

Kale, Sunchoke, Quinoa, Steak

2 Nov

I just joined a weekly CSA: an excuse to start up a rotating few-friends Tuesday dinner party to use some of it while it’s especially fresh:

Top: a bit of good ribeye steak.

Bottom: a kale, sunchoke, romano bean, onion, and quinoa hash loosely inspired by this online recipe. This turned out quite well– better than usual for messing around in the kitchen. Basically, each ingredient got cooked/boiled separately until just-barely-done, the boiled sunchokes got sliced thin and fried in some butter, then everything else got added to them. Salt and pepper were the only seasonings.

Steak & Salad

31 Oct

Quite a day at work, so treating myself to: steak (Five Dot Ranch ribeye w/ salt and pepper, seared on each side in a cast iron skillet on the stovetop, then cooked in the oven in the same skillet at 500F to the hairy edge of medium-rare), padrone peppers fried in olive oil, kale and spinach (lightly steamed), some good tomatoes (Happy Boy dry-farmed, sweet), and a special Russian River Damnation-Ale-aged-with-oak-chips. Yes.

Beer-Centric Dinner Party

8 Aug

This is the first time I’ve made a dinner for friends with courses each paired with / inspired by a specific beer. Some of them worked well together, some didn’t, but it was a good evening overall.

Appetizers: a slightly bitter, slightly floral beer (Upright Flora Rustica) with a collection of snacks: bread, cheese (Cowgirl Creamery Mt Tam), radishes, fresh-pickled fennel (an interesting concept), Boccalone orange-fennel salami and pepper salami, salted almonds, and three kinds of pickled carrots (carrots pickled for a week with dill, vinegar, and salt, carrot quick pickles (overnight with lots of vinegar, mustard seed, cloves), and some Happy Girl spicy carrot pickles I bought).

The most vinegar-heavy pickles overwhelmed the beer (and the beer didn’t have the same hint of jalapeno it did when I’d had it on tap in Portland), but the rest of the food seemed to go reasonably well with it, especially the fennel salami and pickled fennel.

My favorite course: a salad of mixed greens + roasted stonefruit (peaches and black plums, still warm) + a little fresh mint + a ricotta that didn’t turn out the way I expected (I tried to make it with 1 pint whole milk, 1 pint heavy cream, 1 tsp salt: brought to a boil, 3 Tbsp lemon juice added, then simmered to curdle.. but it never fully curdled (did the cream interfere somehow? were the lemons not acidic enough?), so it ended up soft and creamy) + a dressing of balsamic vinegar reduced with agave syrup. We were still drinking the Flora Rustica, which worked quite well with the fruit.

Black bean soup generally based on the Cooks Illustrated New Best Recipe version: dry beans and a diced onion boiled for a few hours with a ham hock and bay leaves and a little beer until beans were soft, the ham hock and bay leaves removed and the meat from the hock shredded and returned to the pot, then a separately-sauteed sofrito (onions, garlic, red bell pepper, oregano, cumin, smoked paprika, chipotle flakes, salt) added to the pot for about 20 minutes. I made this the night before and reheated it the day of the dinner. Cilantro and lime juice added just as it was served.

This was paired with Upright Billy the Mountain, which turned out to be a rather… challenging beer– a very tart and woody barrel-aged old ale, about 9% alcohol but not at all sweet like a barleywine. Whew. Interesting, but I’m not sure I’d do that again.

Pre-dessert: my second attempt at fresh ricotta (simple: 1 qt whole milk + 1 tsp salt, brought to a light boil, then 1.5 Tbsp white vinegar added, simmered a few minutes until the curds separated, strained for an hour in cheesecloth): bright, fresh, and sweet, with a nice texture. Served with Pannepot 2010, a delicious slightly sweet / musky / lightly spiced ale I’d had in Belgium but had never seen in the US until I came across it at City Beer Store (apparently they get it very occasionally). A good combination.

Official dessert– honey lavender ice cream from Bi-Rite, paired with Russian River Supplication (a sour ale fermented with brit and lots of cherries). The Supplication was actually not as acidic or difficult as the Billy the Mountain, and while strong, worked well with the ice cream (especially, a bit of ice cream after each sip of beer).

Then as our post-dinner digestif/nightcap/whatever: some Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast (an oatmeal stout brewed with coffee).

Success! Time to go lay down and do the final clean-up tomorrow.