Last Week I Cooked…

20170122_185742Paella (from How To Cook Everything: The Basics). This is a bare bones version of paella, but the simplicity of ingredients makes for a meal that comes together much more quickly. I made it on a Sunday night, but I think you could squeeze it in on a weeknight in about an hour. I made it even less authentic because I used pedestrian paprika instead of smoked, but didn’t feel the dish suffered too much.

20170123_192613Black bean and sweet potato tacos with cumin cabbage slaw and avocado. I prepped the black beans and sweet potatoes just like I do for burrito bowls. The slaw is just sliced cabbage, a sprinkling of salt and cumin seeds, and a squeeze of lime (adapted from The Homemade Kitchen). I ate the leftovers for lunch sans tortilla, just in a big pile and was just as delighted.

White bean and tuna salad with caesar cabbage slaw. I had to go to an all day training and bring my own lunch. Since there was no microwave access taco leftovers were out, so I made a couple quick salads the night before to bring. Using cabbage with the caesar dressing makes for a salad that stays crunchy even when dressed the night before. I dumped the bean salad over the slaw when I was ready to eat and mixed them into a happy harmony.

20170125_190147Baked potatoes with pan seared broccoli and cabbage, bacon bits, and cheddar cheese sauce. I started with the potatoes in the oven, then crisped up the bacon. I drained off most of the fat, but left a bit in the pan to sear the broccoli and cabbage while the potatoes finished cooking. I used essentially the same cheese sauce as I make for this mac and cheese, but used 8 oz of sharp cheddar instead of the bleu cheese. This is not a meal to make on the regular, but worth the indulgence every so often.

20170126_194052Fish and chips with tartar sauce. Another indulgent meal (it is a birthday week in these parts). The amount of fish called for to feed 2 people is insane. I use 1 lb of fish for 3 servings which doesn’t make for any leftovers (which I don’t want anyways). I could have done with some more tartar sauce though. The batter is easy to make, sticks well, and is well seasoned (which is my complaint with most fish batters).

20170127_185315A party meal! We hosted a birthday party and offered up a full spread. Charred onion dip, smoked salmon dip, cheese and crackers, buffalo cauliflower pizza, loaded potato bites, kale salad, banana cream pie donuts, and grapefruit cake. The potato bits, kale salad, and grapefruit cakes are all from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook and I would highly recommend for a party or otherwise.

Beef ragu and pinci (from Pasta by Hand). The last of the requested birthday meals. The ragu takes a whole afternoon (give yourself at least an hour to put together the sauce, then it simmers for 3 more), but is intensely tomato-y and beefy and wonderful.  The pinci are one of the easier pastas I’ve made from this book, and really you are just rolling long tubes (with 2 farm employees in the house, we refer to them as worms). The full recipe makes a huge batch of sauce, but it freezes well.

Snow Day White Bean and Tuna Salad

20170108_122648This weekend was very white for much of the east coast. My apartment is perched in the middle of one of Worcester’s seven hills, looking west. Normally I can see across the entire city, but on Saturday the visible world was reduced to one street. On a day when all your cross-state travel plans are cancelled, you might as well embrace being homebound. I hung up the gallery wall of food art in the kitchen, learned how to play Risk (not my best game), and read on the couch. When it came to eating, it was time to turn to the pantry. This salad entered my brain from something I had pinned ages ago, but when I clicked on the recipe the page was dead.  Going off of that single picture I created what I hoped it would have been like, and was so happy with the results I made it again for lunch on Sunday.

This is more a bean salad than a tuna salad, with a big hit of lemon. I can see it being just as great for a picnic as it is for a day inside, and the flavors improve with a couple hours in the fridge. Eating it by the spoonful is perfectly acceptable, but it is also great on crackers or bread, or on top of a salad (may I suggest this one?).

20170108_123319White Bean and Tuna Salad

Serves 3 as a meal, 6 as a side.

  • 1/2 cup minced red onion
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 28-oz can white beans (or 2 15.5-oz cans), rinsed and drained
  • 1 4-oz can tuna, flaked with a fork
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Pinch of flaky sea salt
  • A few big grinds of black pepper

Add the minced onion to a medium bowl (large enough to fit the beans in) and pour the lemon juice over. Stir to coat and let sit while you get everything else ready. Add the beans, tuna, olive oil, parsley, salt, and pepper to the bowl and stir to combine. Taste, and adjust for seasoning.

 

Last Week I Cooked….Happy New Year!

Oh hey….happy new year! I decided to take a break from taking photos of food during the Christmas cooking flurry, but a lot of it happened. A few especially notable dishes: the braised beef short ribs from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook are divine, Julia Child can always be counted on for an excellent roasted chicken, this dill pesto makes for much more exciting roasted carrots (though I used almonds once and pine nuts once instead of pepitas). Returning to my own kitchen paired up with the usual January desire to consume healthier fare, which I am now realizing is exclusively orange/red and green foods (at least in photos).

20170102_182822Tortilla soup (from Thug Kitchen). Vegan and ridiculously fast. Easy enough to put together after a love drive home from a week away. (Though full disclaimer, mine was not vegan because of the dollop on sour cream on top.)

20170103_190308Burrito bowls with roasted sweet potatoes, green sauce, cumin cabbage (cabbage from The Homemade Kitchen), yogurt, and hot sauce. While all manner of vegetables will work in this, I especially love the pairing of sweet potatoes and black beans with an aggressively herbal sauce.

20170104_190740Buffalo cauliflower pizza with bleu cheese and kale. This pizza is still an absolute winner. Great balance of vegetables with a bit of indulgence.

20170105_193811Indian-spiced cauliflower soup. This soup had such potential and smelled amazing, but the flavor ended up a bit weak. I added in a few tablespoons of tomato paste at the end to try to bump the flavor up, and once it had the rice, yogurt, and some bread alongside it things were better.

15 minute creamy tomato soup and grilled cheese. This tomato soup is GENIUS. It truly does take 15 minutes, and since it is entirely tomatoes (no broth or water) it tastes intensly tomato-y. The grilled cheeses alongside were wheat bread with a swipe of Dijon and a mix of grated gruyere and smoked gouda.

Simple Caesar Dressing

20161228_131003I’ve long been on the hunt for a simple, perfect Caesar dressing. My requirements are: easy to pull together and in-your-face flavor. Too many Caesar dressings are creamy, with maybe a bit of pepper to flavor and nothing else. While I’ve made a classic Caesar with raw egg (guided by Alton), it isn’t something you can make a batch of and leave in your fridge (though, it does make for impressive dinner party fare). In my Caesar search I made this vegan version from The First Mess, which is excellent and worth a try. The pine nut parm and roasted chickpeas are full of flavor and wonderful toppings. But all together they take a good amount of work, and involve ingredients I don’t have on hand all the time (in fact, the only reason I have nutritional yeast in my pantry is to make this recipe). Since I’m not vegan, I adopted this flavor profile to fit ingredients I more often have on hand. The result is a simple and intense dressing that you can double or triple easily.

The result is dominated by the flavor of garlic, so if you are sensitive then scale back to smaller or fewer cloves. But it’s worth giving a try at full power – you might be surprised. Instead of the usual romaine (which would still be delicious), I like a mix of kale and cabbage to make more of a slaw as done in The First Mess recipe linked above which is more nutritious than just lettuce and has the added benefit of not getting wilty and watery as leftovers. For a simple side salad you could add grated cheese, croutons, or try the pine nut parm and chickpeas. For a full meal the classic grilled chicken is an easy route, or you could try a vegetarian option. I topped mine with roasted cauliflower and these chickpea burgers for a break from heavier holiday fare.

Simple Caesar Dressing

This makes 3/4 of a cup, about enough for 4 meal salads or 6-8 side salads.

  • 1/4 cup full fat mayonaise
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl or put them in a jar and shake it up. Either way: move them about until fully combined.