Thursday, July 31, 2008

Spicy Ground Chicken in Lettuce Bundles

Adapted from The Farm to Table Cookbook - The Art of Eating Locally, by Ivy Manning

1 lb ground chicken
1 T olive oil
2 t finely chopped garlic
2 green onions, finely chopped
1.5 t fresh ginger, minced
1.5 t sesame oil
2 T soy sauce
1.5 t Sriracha, or other hot chili paste or sauce
3 T cilantro leaves, picked and chopped
2 T fresh mint, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1 head butter lettuce, washed and leaves separated

**Okay, so I didn't use mint because I didn't have any. But, I think it would've been nice, so I'm making sure to include it with this recipe. Also the recipe called for pork loin or lean boneless chops that you hand chop yourself. I had ground chicken on hand, so I used that instead.

Heat the oil in a pan over high heat. Add garlic, green onions and ginger, and stir-fry for one minute. Add the ground meat & continue to stir-fry until it is cooked through.

Add the sesame oil, soy sauce, and Sriracha. Continue to cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl. Gently stir in cilantro, mint and lime juice.

Serve with lettuce leaves.

**I included brown rice that we wrapped along with the meat. The dish is very flavorful itself, but I kept feeling like I needed to dip it in something a little sweet and tangy. We also had corn on the cob (because I needed to cook it up) served on the side. Dinner went over very well with the fam. I was afraid David was going to eat everything up and not leave much for me. Vincent ate his first (small) helping, and asked for more! This one will be added to my repertoire.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Macaroni & Cheese

I have been all about recipes this week. It's a change from my usual ways of cooking at home. I'm liking this recipe following thing. It makes planning out my dinner a little more organized. That, or just having planned out specific meals for the week has been helpful. I've been on a cooking frenzy, since we've been eating out A LOT lately.

Here's my version of mac 'n' cheese I made last night, taken from Back To The Table, by Art Smith, Oprah's guy:

1 lb penne or elbow macaroni (Ha! I used campanelle pasta)
4 T (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 C all-purpose flour
4 C milk, heated (I forgot to warm the milk ahead of time)
2 C (8 oz) shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese (I used Tillamook, white)
2 C (8 oz) finely chopped American cheese (I used shredded Monterey Jack)
Salt & freshly ground pepper
Hot pepper sauce (I omitted)
1/4 C (1 oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (Ha! Why measure?! Parmesan cheese is so good!!)

Cook pasta until al dente. Drain well. Toss with olive oil and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a deep 4-quart casserole.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Gradually whisk in the milk. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens. Reduce the heat to low & simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat & stir in 1 cup of cheddar and 1 cup of monterey jack cheese. Season to taste.

Combine the remaining cheeses. Spread one third of the noodles over the bottom of the dish. Top with half of the cheese & a third of the sauce. Repeat, using another third of noodles with remaining cheese & half of sauce. Finish with remaining noodles and sauce. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top.

Bake until bubbly & golden brown around edges, about 30 minutes. **You can pre-assemble the dish and refrigerate until you are ready to bake. If you do that, I suggest you bake it covered with foil for the first 20 or so minutes, and then remove the foil and continue to bake until done.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Saag Paneer

Yesterday, my friend, Jen, invited us over to make saag paneer. Included in this lesson was paneer making. Sadly, my son did not wake up from his nap (um, nor did I get my slow booty out the door) in time to catch the cheese making lesson, but I did get to see the final results, and most importantly, taste it. Later that night, Jen emailed me the recipe, along with a whole cookbook she put together. Awesome!

Tonight, I made saag paneer...with store bought paneer. Here's the recipe:
1.5 lb fresh spinach
1 lb paneer
3 T olive oil
6 T butter
1 ea onion, chopped
4cloves garlic, peeled & chopped
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled & grated
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1/2 t garam masala
1 t salt
pinch tumeric
1 C whole milk yogurt

**Okay, I did a little something different, so I'll only post what I actually did.

-Melt butter & 1 tsp of olive oil over medium heat and cook the onion until just beginning to brown. Add garlic & cook for 2 minutes. Add the ginger & spices, and stir well. Heat for a few minutes. **Add kale and beet greens, season with salt, and allow to wilt and cook until tender. I gently turned the greens around in the pan to help them wilt.
-Transfer contents of skillet into food processor or blender. Add the yogurt & process until smooth. (can be made a day ahead at this point)
-Heat oil in a large, non-stick skillet. Fry the paneer in batches, turning over once or twice, until they are golden brown. Drain on a paper towel.
-Transfer the greens mixture back to the skillet. Add paneer & simmer, covered for 10 minutes or until hot. Serve hot with rice. **I served with naan.

This was so delicious. The only thing that went wrong was that I think I reheated it too hot, too quickly, as the dish lost it's creaminess, and the yogurt seemed to curdle and separate a little. It didn't look bad, and it tasted just fine. I'm my own worst critic when it comes to my cooking, so I was pretty bummed that it turned out this way. Oh well. I will be making this dish again, so maybe next time I can keep it nice and creamy looking. Hit with the husband, so so with the tot.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Roasted Beet Salad

To make the beets, roast a single layer of beets in a pan with olive oil, salt & pepper, and cover with foil, at 350 degrees F, for 40 minutes, or until tender and skin rubs off easily. When the beets are cool enough to handle, rub the skins off with a towel. Allow to cool. When cooled, cut into desired shape; I cut into wedges.

The beets were dressed with a creamy sherry vinaigrette, with toasted pecans, and goat cheese. I didn't have shallots or chives, but I would definitely add those!

Ideally, the pecans should be toasted in a single layer in an oven for even toasting. I toasted them on the stove, and ended up with uneven toasting. At least I saved them before they were burned.

Creamy Sherry Vinaigrette:
dijon mustard
sherry vinegar
extra virgin olive oil

Smoked Salmon Chowder

I made this last week & forgot to post, so hopefully I can remember what I did.

1T butter
1T flour
**I sort of made a roux, but I'm not sure I really needed this part. I figured since I was using butter, I might as well add a little flour. There was so little added, I'm not sure it made a difference.
1 each chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 small head brocoli chopped, stems included
2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 can whole kernel corn
6 oz smoked salmon
2 cups cream
water as needed
salt & pepper
nice vinegar of choice; I used banyuls; approximately 1/4 cup

*sweat onions, carrots, & celery in butter until onions are translucent (I like to season with some salt and pepper at this time)
*add flour, and cook for approx. 1 minute
*brocoli and potatoes, and just enough water to cover
*bring to a boil
*add corn, salmon, cream, and allow to cook until potatoes are tender and soup is thick and creamy. Adjust seasoning, and finish with vinegar to round out the flavor but not make it tart. You shouldn't even really notice the flavor of the vinegar.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Ahhhh...lovely orzo. I often forget how much I enjoy eating orzo. Shaped like a large grain of rice, it is such a fun pasta. I must cook it more often. But, I also remembered today why I don't.

I suppose I don't have to do what I do when I make an orzo dish, but if I did any different, I wouldn't feel quite right. What do I do? Orzo, is small. Therefore, I cut my vegetables small. And, by small, I mean tiny. It isn't difficult to do, just time consuming. Especially with a 19 month old who wants to pull up a stool and stand right next to you while you are chopping away with a 10 inch (sharp) chef's knife.

Here's the salad we had for dinner:
*dice the following items to approximately 1/4 inch - carrots, celery, mushrooms, zucchini
*finely dice shallots
*chop garlic; however you feel like it, but pretty small
*chop basil
*cook orzo pasta until done, & toss in plenty of olive oil; set aside to cool (I spread it out on sheet trays in a thin layer for faster cooling, but I don't think it was necessary)
*cook mushrooms in olive oil, adding garlic & shallots at the end for one minute
*sweat carrots and celery in olive oil, add zucchini and cook until desired tenderness
*combine orzo, mushrooms, & vegetable mixture in a bowl and toss well to mix everything up evenly. Season with salt, pepper, a little vinegar (I used plain red wine vinegar cuz it's what I had, but would've preferred something like sherry vinegar), and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
*fold in chopped basil
*chill until ready to serve, or serve at room temperature

This was yummy. I think it needed more vinegar, but David thought it was just fine. It would've been fun to add some little nugs of goat cheese & maybe some cherry tomatoes, but I had neither available.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Refrigerator and Cherries

My excuse for not posting recently is that our fridge has been on the fritz for a couple of weeks, making it difficult to go grocery shopping, thus having very little in the house to actually cook. But, of course, that's just an excuse, because I can honestly come up with plenty of stuff to make that would require no refrigeration. I could even make some sort of meat, if I really tried. But, I used the fridge as an excuse to cook less because of my second excuse not to cook: our kitchen has been too darn hot. It really has been. A couple months out of the year, we actually get hot enough here that it makes cooking in my kitchen unbearable. And, then there's my 3rd excuse: my 18 month old toddler. Some days, he makes it very difficult to get any cooking done. But, again, all excuses. Truth is, I haven't felt much like it lately. But, every few days, I guilt myself into doing it, and then I slack on posting about it.

Here's what I can remember that I've made recently:
-Thai red curry; forgo the light coconut milk & go for the good stuff! Red curry paste, a little goes a long way. If there's no kaffir lime leaves for lemongrass, rice wine vinegar does the trick.
-collard greens
And, several other things that I've posted about before, like pasta puttanesca...

Cherries: I discovered the "van" cherry today at the farmers' market. I didn't take note of the farm. These cherries are a little darker, a little stumpier, and maybe slightly smaller than the bing cherries. My best adjective for for this cherry is robust. I like 'em. Rainiers are still my faves.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Delicious Meal by My Friend

I'd like to give credit to my dear friend, Lucy, who cooked us a delicious meal last night. I'm not going to talk about what all she did, but I will talk about what she made.

*champagne chicken
*baked mac n cheese
*sauteed brocoli
*cucumber salad
*brown rice
*mushroom sauce/gravy

I've got to get her mac n cheese and the champagne chicken recipes. Vincent LOVED the chicken. I'm not sure if it was hunger, a need for protein, or what, but he couldn't get enough of it. I'm gonna say it was because it was so tasty!

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato - YUM!

*bacon - Thundering Hooves; cooked in the oven on 350 degrees F for 15 minutes, and then I got impatient and turned up the heat to 400, because it was barely cooking. I think it stayed in the oven for another 10-15 minutes. I just kept checking on it until it looked about how I wanted it.

*lettuce - butter lettuce from Oxbow Farm (probably freshly picked today!)

*sliced avocado & tomato (beefsteak) - from Madison Market & probably from somewhere in California; at least they're organic

*toast - sliced, buttered, toasted Como from Grand Central Bakery

*side of Annie's Organic Mac n Cheese

B.L.A.T.s were AWESOME! I think the bread was a little crusty on the edges. It would've been great with Macrina Bakery's potato bread, but I wasn't near any place that carries it when I went shopping.

Grilled Lamb Chops

A day late...

Last night we had grilled lamb chops from Thundering Hooves. So good.

*lamb chops - a few hours ahead of time: s&p, crushed garlic cloves, rosemary sprig

*sauteed mess o' greens - rainbow chard, beet greens, dino kale (yes, all from good ol' Oxbow),
-sweat sliced garlic and sliced shallots in olive oil, deglaze with white wine (I only had Lillet on hand, but that worked the same), add kale & let wilt down for a couple of minutes. Then add remaining greens, and a little water. Season to taste...and then season some more.

*steamed broccoli - I had small head from Oxbow that I cut up and cooked just for Vincent. It only made about a half cup, but he'll eat that over the greens.

The lamb chops were grilled to perfection by David and a HUGE hit with Vincent. Here's proof :