Friday, September 25, 2009

Spanish Dinner! Ole!

We've been receiving plenty of potatoes from our lovely CSA. 2 weeks ago I made potato leek soup (which, I found out after the fact that I was following the recipe wrong. It calls for 2 32-oz cartons of chicken stock (I substitute veg stock of parve chicken bullion) but I have always used just 32 ounces. And it comes out thick and delicious. I'm not going to change it because I like it thick but it now is a bit less healthy since there are more potatoes per serving, but potatoes are a healthy starch and blah blah blah...I digress...).

We now have plenty since we have 2 week's worth of potatoes so we used about 2 pounds last night as part of our Spanish dinner to remind us of our lovely honeymoon in Spain. So we made a tortilla espanola and mushroom paella.

The tortilla espanola was nearly 2 lbs of potatoes, 3 onions and 3 eggs (we used egg substitute) and was really simple. Now, I didn't fry in 18 oz (!!!!) of oil like the recipe told me to, but I sauteed the onion and potatoes in a few tablespoons of EVOO for a while until they were cooked through. In retrospect, I should have left it a bit longer to brown the onions more. I added lots of salt and pepper (maybe too much salt) and it was tasty. Then instead of more oil I sprayed the pan with Pam and added the eggs and potato-onion mixture (I pre-mixed them in the bowl and the heat of the potato-onion mixture started cooking the eggs which was kind of cool!) and cooked it on one side. It held together well when I (well, OK, The Pedant) flipped it and it was fairly evenly brown. The other side was also fairly brown, but fell apart when I tried to put it on a plate. Nonetheless, it was SO TASTY.

TP made the mushroom paella. It was (of course) a Mark Bittman recipe from the glorious How To Cook Everything Vegetarian and just really lovely. We used brown rice that TP pre-boiled (as per Bittman's suggestion) and baby bella mushroom caps. It was perfectly cooked. It was warm and delicious and tasty.

To top it all off for a great evening, we each had a square of Lindt 70% dark chocolate. All while watching the last hour of the BBC Pride and Prejudice. A perfect evening in my book.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Beer-Glazed Pinto Beans and Penne, Pedant Style

New protip: do not wipe your brow after slicing hot peppers from the CSA. It burns. For a while.

Was out of ideas for dinner, and forgot I had tuna casserole in the fridge, so I made pasta with a variation of Bittman's beer-glazed black beans for the sauce. First I threw some hot peppers from this week's CSA box into a pan of hot olive oil and ground black pepper. Then I sauteed the too-sharp red onion remainders from last week. Once that was done, I added a cup of Amstel Light (I drank the rest), orange blossom honey, pinto beans, and red pepper flakes (to ensure spiciness). Into this I put nearly-cooked whole wheat penne.

It's a little sweeter than I expected, but it has a nice burn on it that makes it quite tasty. Works really well with parmesan (what doesn't)?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Starting a New Year Off Right

This past weekend was Rosh Hashanah. The Pedant and I were going to TP's parents for services and meals. TP's mom asked us to bring 2 salads, one for a meat meal and one for a dairy meal (since most of our family keeps kosher). Last week had been really busy, so while I was at work, TP researched salads that would be easy to make, delicious and fitting in with our religious obligations. We chose 2 orzo salads and they were both a hit.

First, the "meat" salad. It was a Bon Appetite recipe that we found on Epicurus. The Orzo, Green Bean, and Fennel salad with Dill Pesto was a HIT. The fennel gave it a really lovely flavor and worked really well with the dill pesto. It was fresh, colorful and fairly healthy - not too much pasta (which is one of the lovely things of orzo - a little goes a long way).

The "dairy" salad was from the monastery salad cookbook, which is always so good to us. We had made it before. It is orzo, olives, green peas, red pepper and red onion in a mayonnaise sauce with dijon mustard and lemon juice dressing. The problem we had the first time we made it was that the onion (1 red onion, thinly sliced) was SO sharp it rendered the salad inedible. All you tasted was ONION. (For leftovers, we added more mayo and mustard and an avocado and it was still ONION!) This time, we tasted the onion first and instead of using the entire thing in slices, we use 1/5 of it chopped very fine, which gave it the flavor but did not overpower it. (We also used more may this time since it wasn't just us eating the salad.) And it was perfect. Refreshing, sweet (the peas) and tangy (the onions - even just the few tablespoons!) it was a great lunch dish.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Dinner Last Night

Since I was doing some home work and The Pedant was researching, dinner last night was fast and simple. I decided to make a kind of succotash, since I had a yellow squash and corn from my CSA. Also, I love succotash. I kind of made it up as I went along, somewhat following a recipe I'd made before for zucchini and green bean succotash from my favorite Weight Watcher's cookbook. First, I sauteed half an onion and some garlic until nice and brown. Then I added in a chopped yellow squash and some frozen lima beans with salt, pepper and ancho chili powder and a bit of EVOO. I then let it get all caramelized and tasty and threw in some corn that I was boiling. And it was tasty. A perfect late summer dinner (and lunch for today too!).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

More Lunch News

I too have an exciting lunch today - in fact, I had it for dinner Tuesday so I know it'll be good. It's a sandwich with hard boiled eggs (which I relearned are very tasty on sandwiches while in Scandinavia), roasted garlic hummus, Bittman's caramelized onion chutney and lettuce. And I'm quite excited. The chutney is much spicier this time than I've had it before, mostly because the hot peppers were very hot. But it's quite tasty. And the bread gets all soft and saturated with hummus which is fun.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Lunch Lessons Learned Today

As I'm home and searching for jobs, I am now making lunch out of what we have in the pantry at the moment, and trying not to subsist entirely on Fiber One™ bars (or their Special K equivalent which have extra warnings for fibrousness) and fifty-cent ramen. This would be easy except that I am lazy and occasionally suffer from what I call "food aphasia," which is where I look into a fridge at raw ingredients and say, "how does this become food"?

Today, I made food in two steps. I cooked up some Uncle Ben's "Country Inn Mexican Fiesta" rice, adding a can of Goya red kidney beans for complete protein-icity. I then heated up a Quorn cutlet with some of Mark Bittman's tomato chutney.

Lessons learned:
  • Quorn is good with tomato chutney.
  • Uncle Ben's "Mexican Fiesta" is about as Mexican as the taco stand at McFadden's on Cinco de Mayo (the Hawk & Dove in Southeast also has a similar stand on offer, but McFadden's manages to keep its ground floor from smelling like urine, thus making it a classier establishment despite the Georgetown frat boys). The rice is also pretty tasteless.
  • The "Mexican Fiesta" rice does not go that well with tomato chutney.
  • However, it tastes great mixed with the extra-spicy version of Bittman's onion chutney that the Sherbs cooked up for our Sunday hot dog party.
That's lunch. Now back to the job hunt.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Thrill of Organic Vegetables

I hate insects. I hate having to touch them, especially. Even through gloves.

So the fact that our CSA farm is organic leads to some unfortunate surprises, like today, when we did not get a single ear of weevil-free corn. I salvaged some of it, discarded the rest, and basically flushed the weevils themselves down the disposal. There's also a ladybug flying around the apartment from where I brought up the courage to flick it off of our lettuce.

That said, the veggies and fruits that are not bug-ridden (the vast majority of them) are delicious. I had a tomato from our box today with hummus on bread, and it was quite tasty.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Jewish Delis on the Fall

An article popped up on my twitter feed today. A friend who I used to work at camp with runs an online Jewish community and follows interesting trends in the Jewish Community. She tweeted about an article on a man on a mission to save the Jewish Deli. I read, and loved the article. (And now, have a craving for a potato knish with deli mustard on the side to dip, cole slaw, half sour pickles and a diet cream soda.) I do love Jewish delis. As a vegetarian I do miss many meat products and often it's turkey breast on rye (or wheat) with mayo and mustard that can be had at Jewish delis. There is something wonderfully comforting about deli food - it's quick, it's terrible for you, it's giant, it makes you want to speak Yiddish, it's delicious. I wish there were more of them. It is a shanda that so many have closed down!! Bring them back!! Give me a knish!!!

"Fancy" Dinner

Last night, The Pedant and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. We had assumed it would be filled with pomp and circumstance - an exquisite dinner out with wine, dessert, fantastic food, waiters who wait on you with bated breath when you finish a sip of water to refill your glass, you know, the works (and we've been to those restaurants before: the anniversary of our first date, a pre-wedding dinner, when accepting my current position). However, since we had SO MUCH good fondue the night before, a big, fancy, filling dinner was the last thing we could imagine doing. Plus, once we ruled out fancy food, we just didn't feel like going some place for a casual dinner when we could stay home and veg with some food and wine and watch TV. Which is just what we did. And it was a perfect evening. We got to watch most of Jacques Pepin Fast Food My Way, Cook's Country, and America's Test Kitchen (CC did a chocolate cake recipe that looks amazing; ATC did LOW FAT chocolate recipes that TP printed and I can't wait to do - he also printed the chocolate cake recipe but that is a bit advanced and oh so caloric). While doing that we opened a delicious Syrah from a Vintage Ridge (I had 2 glasses! and 2 glasses of wine Sunday! That's more wine than I've had in the last month!) and ordered in from a local pizza place - we got a pizza capreze, Greek salad and a pasta salad, and boy was it good. The pizza was well cooked - although the crust was a bit light for the weight of the cheese, and would have been better eaten with a fork and knife - not a bad thing at all! The pasta salad was a fun addition, very fresh and great. Plus, we finished it by sharing a bar of Lindt 70% dark chocolate. And still feeling full, but very happy.

Perhaps it was one of the best meals we had in a while.