Famous

May 21, 2008

http://www.jessicadunton.com/blog/2008/05/hunan_king_is_speed_dial_3.html

My friend Jess just posted the above on her blog. I am, apparently, able to make a gourmet meal with accidental ingredients.

NOT this week! Cooking at Chez Troy has been happening but things have been pretty chill. I pan sauteed some garlic and rosemary chicken breasts and served them on some spiced up cous cous with sauteed broccolini on Sunday night and I made pan seared steak in a wine butter sauce w/ garlic spinach and potato perogis as sides last night…that was good with a half-bottle of a BV Coastal Cabernet. Good times but simple.

Maybe I’ll go crazy tomorrow night:).

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Caviar, again.

May 14, 2008

Last night at 8 PM found me staring at the cupboard seriously contemplating the take-out menus. I had just sliced into a bulb of fennel that had been sitting around  a bit too long (and so ended up in the trash. grrrrr.) and there weren’t any other fresh veggies in the crisper excepting some arugula and some mixed greens. Salad or Pasta. Kill me. Kill me now.

I decided to saute the Beluga lentils I’d just bought on a whim from Trader Joe’s with some garlic and diced onion. I snipped a small amount of fresh rosemary from our plant on the porch and put some in the saute pan AND put it in a saucepan with milk, a dash of cream, 1 tbsp. of butter, salt and pepper. I then made my creamy semolina polenta and served the lentils over that. When everything was done and I served the bowls I grated a bit of parm over the polenta  before scooping the lentils on top. It was VERY yum. 

I believe the beluga lentils are $1.99 for a pouch so the meal cost around $4 or $5 and there was a portion left over for Kevin’s lunch today. Vegetarian, cheap and easy.

Tra la, it IS May

May 13, 2008

As we’ve all been struck down by combo of spring bug and the overwhelming pollen count, I haven’t really been cooking much. Chili…sandwiches… a few green salads but really a lot of ordering in. I did however get white asparagus on sale in our Fresh Direct order and had to figure out over the weekend a nice but simple way to use it:

White Asparagus Soup

“bundle” of white asparagus (chop off ends, peel and then cut into three-ish likesized pieces)
1 cup of chicken stock (you can use veggie stock, of course)
dash of vermouth
1 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. of olive oil
Fresh thyme (the leaves of two sprigs)
1 small shallot diced
1 or 2 garlic cloves minced (or crushed…garlic is optional)
1/2- 2/3 cup of water

saute garlic, shallot and thyme in butter and oil over medium heat for one minute and then add pieces of asparagus and a healthy pinch of salt to sweat the veggies. Saute for about 5 minutes over medium low heat, adding the dash of vermouth about 3 minutes into the cooking and a dash or two of water if needed. Add contents of saute pan to chicken stock and water in a soup pot or large sauce pan (2 to 3 quarts). Bring to a boil and then take asparagus and a small amount of liquid and puree in a blender. Add the puree back into the rest of the liquid, blend and serve. You can add some cream at the last to make this cream of asparagus soup but I would also add some more salt and pepper.

I’m all for people being adventurous and trying something new with food. I support recipes when they are really good recipes. The strongest NEED for a good recipe is in the baking category of cooking because when you get the amounts wrong in baking it is usually a major disaster. Sadness usually ensues.

Even in baking, though, there is wiggle room. I really feel the most important thing one should learn is how to cook from your own perspective of what tastes good together. Should you find yourself on a desert island or in a small kitchen in France with cookbooks only in French that say…you don’t read, you need to know more than how to boil water, that is for certain. You need to know what tastes good together and what ingredients are acceptable substitutes in a recipe. For example, the other day I baked these:

http://www.joyofbaking.com/scones.html

They are a favorite in my house since my friend, Sarah French-Johnston shared the recipe (and the blog).

Anyway, I didn’t have cream but I was dang well going to make these anyway. I looked through my fridge to find an acceptable substitute. I, at first, chose the sour cream and half and half with the intent to mix them (using 2/3 or the amount needed of sour cream and 1/3 half and half) but the sour cream was dead so… after tossing that out (and recycling the package!) I turned to the creme fraiche. I took the creme fraiche and mixed it with our 1% milk in the same ratio as the sour cream to half and half and my husband couldn’t tell the difference. The turned out LOVELY. 

Another and much easier example is my lentils recipe. I have a “pretty standard way” which follows and then I have a few variations that follow after that. You’ll see that really it is hard to screw this up unless you just have added things like… I don’t know…chocolate and lemon curd to your lentils…and even then you might be able to make some sort of health muffin out of that muck. Take a look:

Basic Lentils 

16 oz lentils – I use the french already steamed ones you can get in the produce section at Trader Joe’s. Always buy some when they have them in as they last about two months unopened in the fridge.

1 small onion diced
2 stalks of celery diced
2 small carrots diced
1/3 cup of broth

1 bay leaf
Fresh herbs (I use thyme and/or marjoram but rosemary is also soooo very tasty)
salt and pepper to taste

Saute your onions, celery, carrots and fresh herbs for a few minutes on medium heat. Add the rest of the ingredients and let simmer for 20 to 40 minutes.

Basic Lentil soup

Add a 32 oz. carton of broth to the above in place of the 1/3 cup.

Lentils with Kale

Add diced kale to the Basic Lentils recipe about 7 minutes befoe you take them off the heat.

Lentils with Chorizo

Start by browning the slices of chorizo and then start the Basic Lentils recipe. You can replace the above fresh herb suggestion with cilantro and add a couple of crushed garlic cloves.  Once you add the other ingredients and turn heat down to simmer, also add 1 tbsp OR MORE TO TASTE of cumin and 2 to 5 dashes of cayenne pepper. A little chili powder is also nice.-

Enjoy!

Facebook

May 1, 2008

 *exhausted sounds…ugh…oy…so forth*

OMG I have just spent two days 9 to 5 on Facebook. Was prompted by Sarahbyrd to sign up a few days ago…holy the cow. I’ve found all my past lives and the current one. This thing is crazy.

And well, I’m addicted. Addiction is helped along by serious boredom at work. It is not good, in this economy, when there is nothing to do.

Kevin has been in school and traveling for work this week so cooking has been spotty. Frankly, there has been a whole heck of a lot of Il Bambino (tasty paninis, soup and salads in Astoria, Queens).  The only thing I did was make my standard porcini flav-ah risotto using this:

I keep a box on hand at all times. You can pick them up at DiPalo’s on Grand Street or most good Italian Food specialty shops. The one on Broadway in Astoria carries it. All you really need is this, good parm and patience to make a good basic risotto, I think. Sauteed collard greens in olive oil in my cast iron skillet and scooped them out on top of the bowls of risotto…sort of an Italy meets Bama kind o’ meal. Didn’t add salt to the collards because I clean our cast iron skillet with kosher salt so…that does the trick then;). I got my collards from Fresh Direct but Trade Fair carries them sometimes and I believe Fairway does as well. Trader Joe’s sells a 2 lb. box of risotto for something like 2.99 which feels reasonable to me.