Last week I cooked…

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersBroccoli cheddar soup. Yes, again.  Easy and a delight. Served with bread and a salad with roasted beets, apples, pecans, and a Dijon honey vinaigrette.

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersEggplant parm and pesto pasta. This was dinner upon our return from the weekend away. Eggplant and pesto pulled out of the freezer, water put on to boil for the pasta, and dinner within 30 minutes of arriving back plus lunch leftovers.

Ottolenghi’s corn polenta with eggplant sauce (pictured at top). This is one of those recipes I’ve passed over a hundred times, always planning to get to it later. Well it was finally the time, and I pulled the last eggplant I picked from the garden last week out of the fridge that needed to be cooked right that second. The eggplant took longer than 15 minutes to brown on medium for me (maybe 25), but then the rest of the dish came together quickly. I didn’t have fresh corn, so I used regular polenta from the pantry and stirred in some whipped feta at the end. The eggplant sauce was intensely tomato-y in the best way possible, and a perfect topping to rich polenta. I waited too long to try this, but won’t to remake it.

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersFrittata with leeks, kale, dried tomato, and feta and buttermilk biscuits. I have a little skillet and a very large skillet, and went with the large to make this frittata which was a bit ambitious (probably should have gone with the cast iron). What resulted was more like sautéed kale with a leek frittata base, but it was quite enjoyable. I rarely follow a frittata recipe anymore, but just saute the veg I’m using in the pan, beat the eggs with milk, salt, and pepper, add cheese (crumbly like feta goes straight into the pan, melty like cheddar goes into the eggs), pour the eggs into the pan and stick it in the over for 10 minutes on 400F. I just wanted a most basic of biscuit recipes so I used one from the Joy of Cooking which made for thin biscuits, but they did their job. I’m on the hunt for a go-to buttermilk biscuit recipe, if there are any suggestions.

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal Matters

Chickpeas and dumplings. This is another test recipe for The First Mess cookbook. A hearty, vegetable packed stew that thickened nicely with dill dumplings on top.

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal MattersThe return of oatmeal season!! I use 1:1 steel-cut to rolled oats, and 1:1 milk to water. If I have time, I toast the oats in a bit of butter before adding the liquid. Then I put in a chopped apple, pinch of salt, and sprinkle of cinnamon. Bring to a bubble on medium, and cook until all liquid is absorbed. Serve with maple syrup and dried cranberries.

Not something I cooked, but I watched the first few episodes of Chef’s Table this weekend and it is incredible. Fantastic production, fascinating chefs. I became disenchanted with food TV long ago (except for Alton Brown’s Good Eats, the eternal classic, and forgiving him for Cutthrout Kitchen). This show is devoid of cupcakes and EVOO references, and instead gets into the minds of great chef’s to understand their restaurants and what drives them to cook. It’s on Netflix, and worth using your free trial to watch (or invite yourself over a friend’s house to watch and offer to make dinner).

Last Week I Cooked…

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal MattersDan dan noodles (from Every Grain of Rice). A trip to an awesome Sichuanese restaurant renewed my desire for all things Sichuan (which started after I read Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper). The dish was not entirely authentic as I haven’t been able to get my hands on the pickled vegetables called for, and I used tahini instead of Chinese sesame paste…but it still made for some awesome noodles. There are two recipes in the book for dan dan noodles, one with beef and one with pork. I mostly followed the beef recipe but used pork. Weirdly neither of the recipes in Every Grain of Rice call for greens, but the photo has greens in the bowl and I’ve been served dan dan noodles with greens, so I stir fried some tat soi and added it in with the noodles and sauce.

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Burnt eggplant and Israeli couscous soup. Tomato eggplant soup is perfect for the changing of the seasons when summer produce is still coming in but the air is nippy. I loved the couscous and bits of eggplant in this soup, but it was a process with lots of parts. A great alternative is this Smitten Kitchen Roasted Eggplant Soup, which is really as easy as putting all the ingredients on a baking sheet, roasting, then blending with stock. I don’t think the goat cheese topping is necessary (and I just about never turn down goat cheese), but I like the consistent soup texture. It is really ugly soup, but very lovable.

Roasted broccoli with romanesco. The broccoli from the farm up the hill from me is more broccolini-like, so I couldn’t make steaks like these but desperately wanted to make this sauce. I cheated and used a pre-roasted red pepper and a chili instead of the Asian long red chili and it still made for a spicy, savory sauce that I slathered all over the broccoli and enjoyed with gusto.

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Roasted chicken thighs with green peaches and summer herbs. I would have never guessed peaches, chicken, herbs and ginger would pair together so magically. I don’t make enough things that are as easy as tossing everything together and sticking the pan in the oven. Couscous seemed like a fittingly easy side to serve under the chicken. I used a little bit more than a pound of chicken thighs, but still used 2 peaches (and would have liked even more if there was room).

Summer squash pasta with green goddess dressing. I was so excited to squeeze this dish in with what could very well be my last fresh zucchini of the season. I was also excited to actually have some anchovies in the fridge to add to the dressing, which I  haven’t had the past times I’ve made it (and opening a can for one anchovy seems silly). I halved the recipe though, and didn’t think it would really matter that much to put a whole anchovy in….whoops. It was a little fishy. Next time I’ll just use the capers.

BBQ bean burritos with peach salsa. Can you tell I bought a big box of peaches this week? I like the spicy sweet balance of these burritos which are a little more fun than my usual beans and vegetables. This time I upped the chipotle and left out the sugar and molasses to make for spicy smokey beans without the sweetness.

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Peach cornmeal upside-down cake. As mentioned, this cake came out of the pan like a dream. Next time I will really squish the peaches in so every cake bite gets some. I added in a little dried lavender since I had it, but I couldn’t taste it and don’t think it’s necessary. This is really best within the first couple days, so plan to share.

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal MattersBarbecued chicken. I had a craving for traditional, sticky, barbecue chicken. I used a whole chicken that I broke down for grilling. The sauce was nicely sticky but not overly sweet and the chicken was nice and tender. Everything I wanted.

Cabbage salad with apples and ginger dressing. I made a bare bones version of this with just the cabbage and apples, but I do like adding in dried cranberries when I have them. Some version of this will be making many more appearances through apple season.

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Spicy polenta breakfast bowl. Why do I always forget about polenta? I go months without eating it and then become obsessed for a little bit before letting it get pushed into the back of the cabinet again. I didn’t make the sweet potatoes and used salsa I made and thought about how I should make polenta for breakfast more often.

Last week I cooked…

20150726_195049Spicy fried chicken sandwich. We had this for dinner on Will’s actual birthday. It was the first fried chicken sandwich I’ve ever made, and I see no reason to ever seek out another recipe. The chicken was spicy, crispy and tender, and the yogurt sauce/slaw was just the right creamy, crunchy contrast. For me this was a perfect balance of spiciness, enough to feel it and warrant spicy in the name, but not so much that it kept you from actually tasting everything. I suppose if your spice tolerance is low you will want to find another recipe, but I’ll be sticking with this one.

Lentil and chickpea salad with feta and tahini. Redemption after a weekend of barbecue and fried chicken. I love the onion salad on top of the creamy legumes. Paired with the tomato salad below.

Tomato salad with pomegranate molasses (from Persiana). I added in some cucumbers and cherry peppers from my garden instead of the Turkish peppers, but loved this simple but new take on a tomato salad. The dressing is super potent, so used sparingly.

Last week I cooked - Vegetal MattersOttolenghi’s black pepper tofu. This has been on my to cook list for too long. The addition of butter is inspired (but really didn’t we all love rice with butter as kids?). The amount of pepper seems ridiculous, but the butter mellows it nicely. I halved the recipe to use a single block of tofu (which usually come in 14 oz portions on the US).

Spicy roasted bok choy. Paired with black pepper tofu. I think my red pepper flakes are especially potent, because this was super spicy, which wasn’t exactly what I was looking for to go with the pepper tofu. I mostly was excited about the ease of preparation and the fact that I didn’t also need to cook this on the stove.

Peach and corn coleslaw. #Summer. This slaw is sweet and a little sour and just the perfect summer salad. I used regular peaches, less cabbage, plus a cucumber.

Grilled eggplant and chickpea salad with pomegranate molasses. I guess pom molasses is the special ingredient of the week here. I made this for a picnic (to eat on Boston Common while seeing King Lear) and it was perfect. I roasted the eggplant since I don’t have a grill, along with green peppers and an onion,  For the picnic I also make a tomato and cucumber salad with balsamic vinegar and the zucchini cornbread again, and my friends brought couscous salad for the best summer salad compilation ever.

Blueberry pie with yogurt. If you ask me, the best way to enjoy leftover pie is for breakfast. Just take a couple big dollops of yogurt, and top with a small slice of pie and some fresh fruit if you have it. Really this is the same concept of those dessert yogurt cups, but 1,000x better.

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Not something I cooked, but I went to Brattle Book Shop in Downtown Boston and the cookbook section was incredible. I’m embarrassed to be a born and raised Bay Stater/book store enthusiast and not have know about this place until this weekend. We walked away with Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain, Clementine in the Kitchen, and Moose Mousse.