Last Week I Cooked

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersI feel like I barely cooked this week, but after taking account of everything below that doesn’t appear to be true. I more made things that I contributed to larger gatherings instead of full meals, so it felt much simpler. Most cooking was more like this egg in a hole – easy and perpetually satisfying.

Eggnog waffles. These did not come out as crispy as usually like, but they were a nice fluffy waffle and easy to throw together.

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersLime grilled chicken salad with black beans, peppers, avocado, and ranch dressing. This was maybe not the most appropriate thing to make on the day of the first real snow of the season, but I needed to eat some vegetables in between holiday celebrations. The chicken was marinated in lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper for 30 min before grilling. The rest of the ingredients were tossed on some romaine and I didn’t even make the dressing (though I thinned out some bottled dressing with a little lime juice).

Ginger garlic cocktail meatballs. I substituted turkey for the meat, which was a bit softer than beef or pork would have been, and in combination with some other wet ingredients made for a soppy mix. Next time I would wring out the bread and maybe use less soy sauce. Regardless they baked up nicely for a New Year’s Eve party appetizer.

Cashew morning buns. These are the same buns I made on Christmas day. I brought them to a New Year’s Day brunch, where they happily sidled up next to tiny meatballs, zucchini pancakes with labneh, deviled eggs, fruit salad, and homemade crackers and bread sticks (thanks for hosting Decker-Yan family!!!).

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersRoasted potatoes and tomatoes with scrambled eggs with sun dried tomato goat cheese. I par-boiled potatoes and then roasted them with halved cherry tomatoes. The eggs were scrambled and then at the end I stirred in minced scallions and some sun-dried tomato dip my mom made with goat cheese.

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersOther breakfasts included burritos with sauteed peppers, onions, and spinach, black beans, scrambled eggs, avocado, and salsa, and egg in a hole as pictured at top.

Chicken, chorizo and tortilla stoup. Ok, I didn’t actually made this, but I helped prep some of the ingredients for my mom and then she let me eat it. It’s a family favorite.

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Last Week I Cooked…

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersSweet and spicy roast chicken. I had such high hopes for this dish but it was a bit off. Any savory or sweet flavors of the chicken were totally overtaken by the sweet. It did not help that I used a mix of roasted beets, celeriac, and carrots instead of just the carrots, and the beets just took over. They were super sweet and there wasnt enough of the other ingredients to cut it. Maybe my chili flakes have lost their spice. Next time I would crank up the pepper heat, up the lemon, and serve it with some yogurt.

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersLeeks with mustard-bacon vinaigrette (from My Paris Kitchen). Oh man. Can I have this again right now? I should have not bothered to make risotto and instead made a double batch of this for dinner. The leeks basically melt after they have been steamed, and were the perfect vehicle for the bacon, egg, dressing, and parsley. I would serve this at all sorts of fancy things.

Kale pesto risotto. I wanted something to make a dinner out of the leek salad and had all the ingredients for this. I liked that some of the kale was just chopped and added into the risotto to wilt. It was good and I like the pesto risotto concept a lot, but not my favorite dish ever.

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersGrated carrot salad (from My Paris Kitchen). This carrot salad  with a dijon dressing was not especially exciting as a stand along dish, but it was great to pair with the lentils and couscous.

Lemon-pistachio Israeli couscous (from My Paris Kitchen). This salad was easy to put together. The only thing that needs to be cooked is the couscous, and then you just add in the nuts and dried fruit. A whole preserved lemon went in as well, which I found overwhelmingly salty. Start with half and then see how you like it.

Lentil salad (from My Paris Kitchen). Green lentils with onion, carrot, celery and a mustard dressing. This is not unlike the dijon lentils I’ve made before, but a bit more streamlined. I prefer the vegetables sauteed, but if you are in a rush this method works. I would add a bit more dressing next time.

Polenta with sauteed chourico and brussels sprouts. I didn’t really have a plan for dinner, and my coworker gave me some Portuguese chourico that he needed taken off his hands (glad to help!!!!!). I made some polenta and added in some cheese that was languishing in the fridge, and then crisped up the diced chourico and removed it from the pan. Into the same pan went halved Brussels sprouts that I let brown for a few minutes, then deglazed with about half a cup of chicken stock. I covered the pan and let them cook for 5 minutes, then added the chorizo back to the pan to warm and served the whole bit over polenta.

Fried rice with broccoli, egg, and kimchi. A crown of broccoli was cut up small, and cooked in a wok with some peanut oil. Towards the end off cooking I added in 1 minced garlic clove and then took the broccoli out of the pan. In went a bit more oil, and then 2 scrambled eggs. Following instructions from Every Grain of Rice, I added the rice in before the eggs set and stirred everything up. Once the rice was heated through I added the broccoli back to the pan along with a splash of light soy sauce and sesame oil. Served with the kimchi my sister made, which I realize is not Chinese but it is SO GOOD.

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersPS – As promised in my gift guide, I found super cheap cakelet pans at the thrift store!!!! And there were more than just Christmas shapes. (N0, I didn’t buy it)

PPS – I updated the About page which provides more information than the basically nothing that was there before.

Last Week I Cooked…

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersRed lentil dal and roasted cauliflower (from Vegetarian India). I got this book out of the library and may be on the fast track to purchase it. I made a simple dal with fried shallots on top that was so easy but then elevated with the perfect flourish. The roasted cauliflower was heavily spiced and definitely worthy of being the cookbook cover photo. I’m not very experienced cooking Indian food, but none of the recipes are that complicated and a trip to the Indian grocer should fill any gaps in my pantry (plus now I will know what to look for).

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersSweet potato cakes. I’ve been meaning to make these for years and it was about time I did. They stayed together well (always a worry with these kinds of veg patties) and had enough savory to balance the sweet of the potato. I liked the flavor of the lemongrass in the yogurt sauce but even after a whirl in the food processor the pieces were still pretty noticeable.

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersPasta with greens and white bean-anchovy sauce. I fiddled with the proportions here a bit based on what I had but this is a great formula for a easy weeknight pasta that goes a bit beyond red sauce. I used a combination of mustard greens and tatsoi with a single can of beans. Next time: even more garlic and lemon.

Pickled mustard greens. I was expecting these to be super intense but was a little let down. The brine was a bit watery even (and I followed the recipe exactly). The concept still excited me and I’ll work on them.

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersMole squash tacos with crispy quinoa and pickles. The butternut squash I substituted didn’t work quite as well as the sweet potato would have (but it saved me a trip to the grocery store). I added in black beans as well which made the tacos a more substantial meal. The pickles were super quick because the brine is all vinegar, but I think adding in a little water would be a better balance (but they certainly were pretty and added a nice tang)

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersPoutine (from Good and Cheap). Why have I never made poutine before? The gravy was so easy and quite flavorful (a whole teaspoon of cayenne is too much though). I followed Smitten Kitchen’s frites recipe, but my fries were a bit too thin and some burned (all my fault). This is certainly not my last poutine attempt.

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersCeleriac, Brussels sprout, cabbage, and apple salad with pomegranate and mustard dressing. Bright, crunchy, and with little juicy bursts from the pomegranate. Everything a winter salad should be. (Also can you tell I finally bought a mandoline and just want to shred everything?)

Hot chocolate. The chocolate flavor was great but something in the texture was slightly off to me (maybe too much corn starch?). I will take one for the team and try making this again (your welcome).

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersMolasses crinkle cookies. It’s not Christmas without these cookies. I really love the addition of the wheat flour – it gives them the ideal chewiness.

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersGingerbread spiced Dutch baby (from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook). Perfect holiday spice, and so much easier than little pancakes that have to be flipped. One and done. I used all wheat flour so it puffed up a bit less but the flavor does not suffer. I shared this and also had some yogurt with pomegranate arils to complete what may be my favorite December breakfast.

Last Week I Cooked…

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersMarbled Pumpkin Gingersnap Tart from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. This is a very pretty tart. Unfortunately it was not the best tasting tart because I forgot to buy heavy cream but I was already in pajamas and could not be bothered to go out. I substituted whole milk and yogurt but the richness was sorely missed. Don’t make my mistake and you will have a beautiful AND decadent tart.

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersChickpea, cauliflower, and Old Bay veggies burgers. I love veg burgers with cauliflower. They nicely lighten the burgers. These are fully flavored with the old bay and lemon, and are topped perfectly with creamy avocado. They would also be excellent over a salad. The vibrant root vegetable slaw alongside is from Jerusalem, and I’ll be posting an adapted recipe next week!

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersPipa tofu from Every Grain of Rice. The tofu puffs get a 10 for being the absolute cutest. I was expecting a fully flavored sauce and it was quite mild. As I’ve never had this dish before I can’t say what exactly it should have been, but I wanted more punch. I had the leftovers with extra soy sauce and would add more in the sauce next time. Alongside I served tatsoi sautéed with a little garlic and ginger and miso eggplant.

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersFresh rolls. Nothing like a little Vietnamese-Chinese-Japanese-Israeli fusion!! Fresh rolls have become my favorite way to upcycle leftovers. These had brown rice, tofu, miso eggplant, root vegetable slaw, cucumbers, scallions, and cilantro (just a little bit of everything). I made the sauce that The First Mess conveniently posted that same day which was a nice tart pairing.

Roasted sweet potato and leek soup with chorizo. I confirmed a lot of things about myself with this soup: sherry is not my favorite, I have a hard time liking squash/sweet potato soups without coconut milk, and I will eat anything with chorizo. The sherry comes through strongly, and I think I would halve it next time. I used an immersion blender and then pureed it again in the food processor, but just couldn’t get it really smooth.  Maybe I just need a Vitamix. The sherry vinegar at the end was really nice and the bits of chorizo added a nice meaty bite. This went over well at my work potluck so it is a good soup, just not perfect for me.

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersBreakfasts this week included mashed avocado and a fried egg on toast (I know, revolutionary), multigrain waffles and yogurt with maple syrup and pomegranate seeds. The waffles I’ve made numerous times and they work with all various of flour (though once I forgot the baking powder…those did not work). After finally making it with the pictured topping I can confirm maple syrup is really my favorite.  It was such a treat to have a pomegranate…with yogurt it made for the simplest breakfast that felt so special. Pomegranate arils have their own crunch so granola is not even necessary and they are tart, juicy bursts in the creamy yogurt.

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersNot something I cooked, but this interview with Deb Perelman was a great read. I especially loved hearing how her career progressed to her blog because my career path has been similarly scattered (and still meandering).

Last Week I Cooked…

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal MattersChili. I think I’ve finally landed on my perfect chili recipe. It’s based on this old Rachael Ray recipe, and I’ll post my version soon.

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal MattersPasta with sautéed mushrooms, onions, peppers, tatsoi, garlic thyme olive oil, and mozzarella. So this pasta was meant to be pizza. The dough had been rising all day, and a little before I was ready to cook I put it on top of a wood stove to warm a bit more. I promptly forgot about it as I was cooking all the other components, and by the time I got back to it the bottom half was cooked through. I probably should have left it there to keep cooking and called it oven top bread. But, I tried to salvage the top half which would have made a meager pizza for the five people I was feeding. A furious search through the cabinets (this was not in my kitchen) thankfully resulted in a box of spaghetti. The garlic oil I intended for a white pizza with sautéed mushrooms became the sauce, the firm mozzarella was cubed and added into the pasta at the end to melt a bit. With a salad alongside, dinner still happened.

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal MattersCassoulet with lots of vegetables. This is a soup with lots of options, yet I seem to always make it in a very similar manner. I start with sausage, spicy if possible, and then proceed with the vegetables (minus the zucchini). The liquid does vary according to what I have, which this time around was leftover beef stock from the chili and bean cooking liquid. At the end I stir in some shredded cabbage. The result is a hearty almost all vegetable soup with a bright tomato base (that is really not at all like cassoulet, but that’s ok).

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal MattersLast Week I Cooked... - Vegetal MattersThanksgiving! I stuck mostly to the menu I set out with. The turkey brine was Sam Sifton’s, but the method was Alton Brown’s. Most of the other dishes were straight from Thanksgiving. We had mashed potatoes, creamed Brussels sprouts with bacon, green beans with lemon and butter, fresh bread dressing with apples, onion, and celery, mashed buttercup squash with butter and sage, and giblet gravy (which was my favorite item on the table). I adapted my simple cranberry sauce just slightly by using fresh orange juice and half sugar for the honey (because I ran out of honey). Lastly I made these sweet potato rolls which were a hit but I think can be improved upon. I want to experiment with sourdough more often (a new year’s resolution perhaps?) and I think they would benefit from a heftier flour.

I took the week off work so I actually cooked some lunches (but just barely). One day I had a quesadilla with sautéed tatsoi, another was a quesadilla with scallions and a simple black bean spread made with sautéed onions and cumin. And another was the requisite leftover turkey sandwich on a sweet potato roll.

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal MattersCranberry grilled cheese. I may like this version more than the traditional Thanksgiving leftover sandwich. I used cheddar cheese and added in some turkey. And never, ever, leave out the swipe of Dijon mustard.

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal Matters“Exhaustive research into the business and culture of American breakfast suggests you can always put an egg on it” – Sam Sifton, Thanksgiving: How to Cook it Well. AMEN. My favorite breakfast this week was repeated twice: mashed potato cakes (just mashed potatoes grilled in a cast iron), topped with creamed Brussels sprouts with bacon and a fried egg.

Last Week I Cooked…

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal MattersRoasted eggplant and summer squash salad with tangy miso dressing. I think I would eat a rock if it was coated with miso dressing. I would not have thought to put such a dressing on these vegetables, and I liked this for steering me otherwise, but this Smitten Kitchen miso dressing is still my favorite (I think it was the scallions in this one that made for a rough texture I didn’t like as much). I didn’t have any quinoa, so I made this with barley but I think most any grain would work.

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Deborah Madison’s ribboned cucumber salad with chile & roasted peanuts. I think next time I would salt the cucumbers to draw some moisture out so the dressing wouldn’t be as watered down (maybe my cucumbers were especially watery), but I love cucumbers thinly sliced with a zingy dressing.

Roasted corn and zucchini enchiladas. A summer favorite, that is less work than you think.

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Fuchsia Dunlop’s fish fragrant eggplant from Every Grain of Rice. I love eggplant too much to provide an objective view of this recipe. If you love eggplant too, it is your duty to make this before the end of eggplant season. It does contain some obscure ingredients, but once you have them they become indispensable.

Along with the fish fragrant eggplant we had some tatsoi simply sautéed with ginger and garlic, brown rice, and a cucumber salad dressed with a 1:1 mix of garlic chili sauce and soy sauce.

Crispy peach cobbler. Dessert?! You betcha. I threw about a cup of raspberries in with the peaches (because I stopped at the farm stand to buy corn and they had PYO fall raspberries and I couldn’t resist) and DAMN this was good. I halved the recipe to make a single 9″ x 9″ pan and it was perfect for 4. I also used the reduced sugar Deb suggested, so 150g total. It also was a good reminder that I should always make crisps/cobblers instead of pies, because they take a tiny fraction of the effort and I like the output so much better.

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal MattersMediterranean potato salad. Mustardy shallot dressing, potatoes, green beans, cherry tomatoes, olives, and hard-boiled eggs. Comes together quickly, travels well, and an excellent summer version of potato salad. My only change would be to add more hard-boiled eggs next time, or perhaps chop them smaller so they are more evenly distributed.

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal MattersSweet cherry tomato and sausage bake. This is how cherry tomatoes were destined to be cooked. It is their highest calling. I’m always amazed by the ease of preparation with this recipe and the incredible output. The tomato/sausage ratio as written is off to me, I used almost the amount of cherry tomatoes called for, and only 4 sausages for 2 people (but I also REALLY LIKE these tomatoes). Serve with the best loaf of crusty bread you can find. If you’re not into sausages leave them out, the tomatoes are the star. If you are into sausages, I’ve use this baking method regularly because it makes for uniformly cooked sausages with no monitoring. Cherry tomato days are numbered, act quickly.

Gazpacho. While the cherry tomatoes and sausages baked I blended up a batch of gazpacho. It comes together in minutes if you have a food processor, but does benefit from a resting period for the flavors to develop.

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Breakfasts this week were various combinations of kale, eggs, tomatoes, and toast. Sometimes scrambled with goat cheese.

Last week I cooked…

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersI refuse to answer the question “How was your summer?” I’m still eating my way through it!!! More than ever I’m experiencing serious recipe FOMO. There are so many things I should be cooking with so much summer produce. Eggplant parm (standard and pizza) and cherry tomato sausage bakes and zucchini carbonara and plum cakes and peach cobblers. A chorizo and tomato salad which is the marriage of two of my absolute favorite ingredients that I pinned years ago and still haven’t cooked. I haven’t made ice cream yet this summer (But this peach derby ice cream has to be in my future. It just has to be.). But I need to take this one meal at a time. I had tomatoes in every meal that I cooked this week, so that counts for something.

Epic roast chicken salad (from Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain, pictured above with dry English cider). This is a perfect summer Sunday meal. It has a longer cooking time, but it is mostly hands off. The balance of ingredients is inspired. Crispy, chewy bread, fatty bacon and chicken skin, sweet cherry tomatoes, crunchy green beans, meaty chicken and the acid and bite of vinegar and mustard. This is the dream salad I didn’t know I should dream about. And though the bread bits weren’t quite as good the next day, I still thoroughly enjoyed the leftovers. I added in extra cherry tomatoes and green beans, and still could have done with more.

Chickpea and cherry tomato curry (the recipe is in the booklet at the bottom, which has a bunch of other gems). The first time I made this curry was a revelation. Coconut and tomatoes?! But they add the perfect sweet and bright pop to a rich curry. I add in more tomatoes than called for, and always want even more than that. Just remember to start rice to serve it with before you make the curry…otherwise it leads to a late dinner.

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal Matters

Sabih (from Jerusalem). Though this recipe has a lot of parts, it is really just an open faced sandwich with salad and sauce and everything came together quickly. I found the eggplant to be a bit oily after frying…maybe because I didn’t have it hot enough? Or have enough oil in the pan? The eggs were a weird texture to me among all the vegetables, but they did make it into a heartier meal.

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal Matters

Shrimp in green sauce. I was the sous chef to my mom on this one, but I did provide the recipe and then thoroughly enjoy the product. Super easy, and vibrant in color and taste. Served with tomato salad and corn on the cob, finished with blueberry cobbler. Thanks Mom!!!!!

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal Matters

Breakfasts this week were and ode to tomatoes and eggs. An omelet with sautéed cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and goat cheese and skillet potatoes. (When making omelets for two, I prefer to use a big pan to make one giant omelette and then split it in half for eating.) Fried eggs with fried tomatoes on buttered toast. Scrambled eggs with goat cheese on toast with sautéed tomatoes (pictured above). Egg and salsa burritos. My one rule is the tomatoes should be cooked before paired with eggs, because I don’t like cold things stealing the heat from my eggs, and they are often too watery uncooked.

Not something I cooked, but hilarious: So you want to write a food blog (via Shutterbean). “Remember, you never want to confuse your readers. I find it helpful to always provide a photo of each individual ingredient, in case your fans forget what food looks like, as well as a candid photo of a baby (it doesn’t have to be yours) in a bathtub full of chia seeds. Isn’t he adorable?”

Last week I cooked…

Last week I cooked - Vegetal MattersMy cousin moved to Barcelona for a year this week, so last Sunday we had a Bon Voyage dinner. He requested my mom’s cilantro lime chicken fajitas, and I made salsas, bean dip, black beans, and Mexican corn to go alongside. The salsas were adapted from Mexico the Cookbook, the black bean dip from Thug Kitchen, and this Mexican corn. I did half ears of the corn since there were so many food options, and this is one of those super simple dishes that is so much more than the sum of its parts.

Summer squash and brown rice gratin. I really liked the concept of this dish, and the brown rice substitution Sara made, but it didn’t come out quite as it was supposed to. I didn’t pay close enough attention to my squash juice and milk mixture as it warmed and it curdled (so really, just barely warm it). Mine also came out a bit soupy, and I used a summer squash instead of a zucchini, so it did not turn out to be the most attractive dish. I still mention it but because despite of all these missteps, it still did taste pretty good, used a lot of squash, and is worth trying again.

Roasted Zataar Carrots (from Bowl + Spoon). An easy side. I don’t think I’ll always make the tahini sauce, but this was a nice fast side to go with the squash gratin (and use up some fridge bounty). I don’t think the orange juice or zest is necessary, the carrots are sweet enough on their own.

 

Summer rolls with carrots, cabbage, cucumbers and peanut sauce. I don’t use a recipe for these anymore, just soak the spring roll wrappers in very warm water for 5 seconds, let the water soak in, and then fill with whatever vegetables  or other fillings are around. The peanut sauce I adapted from these delicious bowls. It’s a favorite I always double to freeze, and will get around to posting the full recipe at some point.

Soba noodles with eggplant (from Thug Kitchen). This recipe was dead easy and tasty, but I was left wanting a little bit more. Maybe other vegetables besides just eggplant, or a little something else in the sauce (tahini? miso?). Definitely not a full meal for four, more of a side dish (but I served with summer rolls).

Sriracha and lime corn slaw (pictured above on the right). I’ll admit I didn’t fully read this recipe, but I wanted to go with the flavor profile plus a few additions from my fridge to clean out all the produce before I went away for the weekend. I roasted the corn in the husk in the oven for about 20 minutes at 425F, removed the husk, and cut off the kernels. I chopped the quarter cabbage I had in the fridge, added that to the corn kernels, added the crumbled cotija and topped with a sriracha, lime, and olive oil dressing.

Tabbouleh with mint (pictured above on the left). This was part of my pre trip clean out the fridge salad pairing. I had half a bunch of mint hanging out in the fridge, so I used that instead of the parlsey, mint, and scallions. My bulger was definitely plenty cooked in under an hour. An excellent and easy salad to pull together with garden ingredients and a little more heft from the bulger.

Green scrambled eggs with mustard toast. A new summer breakfast favorite.

Last week I cooked…

Last week I cooked - Vegetal MattersTakeout-style sesame noodles with cucumber. I saw this posted on Tuesday, didn’t have a firm plan for dinner that night, and had all the ingredients for this in the pantry, plus cucumbers in the garden and it was the greatest. I’ve had trouble cooking rice noodles, but I watched these like a hawk and then drizzled them with sesame oil as instructed, and they didn’t turn out gummy or all stick together (hallelujah!). I always love a nutty, creamy, slightly sour sauce like this (which tastes strong on its own but mellows nicely with the noodles). After running around all day I knew I would need a more substantial meal, so I roasted some tofu a la Thug Kitchen (page 77 of the cookbook….that’s how often I use this method). Because of the tofu addition I served the noodles still warm and they were everything I hoped for.

Last week I cooked - Vegetal Matters

Braised cabbage with fried potatoes, feta, and dill (from Vegetable Literacy). Very fancy feeling. The creamy fried potatoes were nicely balanced with wilted buttery cabbage, salty feta and herbal dill (which I don’t cook with enough).  This would have made an excellent course at an Irish mid-summer farm dinner. Unfortunately I made just this for dinner, and Madison’s serves 4 definitely meant as a side not a meal.

Corn bread salad. I have to admit this did not turn out, but it was entirely my fault as I let the cornbread go south (I thought toasting it up again would save it…I was wrong). Even if I had done everything according to recipe, it probably would not be my favorite dish. I already don’t like croutons in salad, and then getting them all soggy just makes everything that much worse. But I tried it, and I think most people without soggy crouton aversions would like this, so have at it.

Last week I cooked - Vegetal Matters

Zucchini ricotta fritters. I’ve been on the hunt for the best zucchini fritters for a while now…and these still aren’t quite them. The ricotta made them super moist, but to the point of being hard to cook through. They stayed together really nicely, browned quickly, and then sat in the oven for a bit and still were super soft in the middle. Most zest and more salt next time, higher heat, and longer in the oven.

Last week I cooked - Vegetal Matters

Potatoes with kale and a fried egg. This remains one of my absolute favorite breakfasts. This time I cooked the potatoes cubed in the cast iron, and added some diced onion halfway through cooking. The potatoes aren’t quite as decadent that way, but they do cook faster.

Last week I cooked - Vegetal Matters

Toast with ricotta, honey, and peaches. My favorite breakfast, lunch, and coffee spot in Worcester is also a bakery, and most of their breakfast menu is just their incredible breads toasted with various spreads (like country bread with homemade raspberry jam, and olive and herb bread with whipped feta and olive oil). After eating there Sunday I wanted nothing but toast for breakfast all week, and did different renditions of ricotta with jam or honey and fruit.

 

Last week I cooked…

This week I cooked... - Vegetal MattersGreek chopped salad. This is the salad I wait all winter to eat. Garden tomatoes, cucumbers, and oregano, with a pepper, olives, feta, chickpeas, and a simple dressing. Recipe forthcoming.

Herbed summer squash pasta bake (pictured above). I was debating between this and pasta with fried zucchini salad which I made last summer. The baked pasta was good, but was a bit too heavy for me. I’m glad I tried it, but the fried zucchini one is the one I’ll come back to every summer (just beware frying the zucchini takes a while, but it is worth every minute).

Grilled cumin-lime zucchini quesadillas. I liked that these called for fresh mozzarella (because I happened to have some), but I think it is too wet a cheese for ideal quesadilla making. But still, I liked the fun flavor combination to make vegetable quesadillas a little more interesting.

Kohlrabi salad. Kohlrabi is one of those vegetables that is so hot right now, and I’ve seen it in many a farmer’s market and blog but somehow it hadn’t made it to my table. Once again embracing farm stand impulse purchases I bought some last week without a cooking plan and was guided by Ottolenghi. My main problem was with some of the kohlrabi, which seemed to have been grown too long because they were super fibrous. The bits that were good are what I assume all kohlrabi is supposed to be like, nice and crunchy with a mouthfeel similar to celeriac, but tasting just like cabbage.  I threw a little cucumber in too, and loved the creamy dressing and crunchy veg topped with slightly sour sumac (plus the color contrast was excellent).

Fish-fragrant eggplant and Sichuanese chopped celery with beef. I’ve been waiting to make this eggplant recipe since I read Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper and I think I’ll probably make it once a week for the rest of eggplant season. It was incredible and brought out the absolute best qualities of eggplant – luscious texture and awesome flavor absorption. I even substituted water for the chicken stock as I was making this on the fly, and it was still everything I hoped for. And my undying love for eggplant shouldn’t overshadow the celery dish, which was crunchy, spicy, slightly sour and rounded out with just a little fat from the beef.

Bánh mì breakfast sandwiches. I made these while I was preparing for a special dinner party (more on that later). Simple ingredients, minimal effort, but such high return. The salty-fatty-spicy-sour-herbal flavor combo is just unbeatable. 

Last week I cooked….

Last week I cooked - Vegetal MattersLast week I was overwhelmed, but this week embracing farm stand and garden produce and thoroughly enjoying that time where you feel like you’re in the thick of summer but there is still so much more of it to be enjoyed.

Grilled shrimp marinated in garlic, olive oil, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and smoked paprika (pictured above).

Black bean and corn burgers over salad with lime cumin vinaigrette. These stayed together really well (I pan fried them), and were extra wholesome over greens.

Sesame peanut garlic scapes with noodles and spicy cucumber salad dressed in garlic chili paste mixed with some rice vinegar and soy sauce, finished with cilantro and sesame seeds.

Marinated green beans to bring to a work barbecue. This is always and forever my favorite cookout salad because it is best put together the night before, nice and crunchy, and doesn’t wilt when outside for a bit. This time I made it with half wax beans and it was so pretty.

Yogurt with raspberries and granola. I made this batch with a mix of honey, maple, and agave to sweeten (cleaning out almost empty bottles from the pantry…),with ginger as the spice and coconut flakes.

Purple cauliflower and kale quesadillas. I still have the other half of this magic cauliflower…what else will I make?!

Potato salad with celery and garlic scapes dressed in a mustard vinaigrette (to go with lobsters eaten down the Cape #SUMMER).

Red wine and berry sorbet. 10/10 for easy summer dessert. I used a shiraz instead of the pinot noir, and a mix of strawberries, raspberries, and a little bit of rhubarb cooked down with sugar (leftover from making these last week). I skipped the straining step, and just blitzed two-thirds of the mixture in a food processor before freezing because I don’t minds seeds/berry bits in the slightest. Next time I may see if I can get away with a bit less sugar and more wine.

Not a thing I made, but a very important thing to read: the summer issue of Gout, which does the absolute best job of making fun of food trends.