Friday, January 29, 2010

Onion Blue Cheese Sauce

I know, this isn't the best picture, but it's better than no picture, right? My camera was taking dark pictures this evening for some reason (ugh...of course it's the camera's fault and not user-error!).

This is a rich sauce, perfect for the ribeye and t-bone steaks Curtis made on the big green Egg last week. He makes perfect steaks (versus my sad steak-making attempts). We all loved the meal. We decided we couldn't go to many restaurants and get food any better than what we made. Our menu: Steaks with Onion Blue Cheese Sauce, Smoky Beans and Greens, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, and Orange Angel Food Cake (with all the fixings).

The sauce is also good in sandwiches with pastrami (and I am sure roast beef as well).

Onion Blue Cheese Sauce
From the Pioneer Woman Cooks

4 T butter
1 lg yellow onion, sliced
1 c heavy cream
1/2 c crumbled blue cheese

Saute onions in butter over high heat in a small saucepan. Cook for 5 - 10 minutes or until dark and caramelized. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir in cream. Cook until reduced in half, about 3 - 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in blue cheese until melted.

Serve either on top of steaks of put on a plate and put steaks on top of sauce.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Japanese Noodles with Bok Choy and Tofu

I love well cooked udon noodles. They make me happy. Since we've had so much meat in our diet lately, I thought it was time to find another protein for a change. M and J were quite excited to have tofu again (which M calls seaweed). Baby I also really liked it.

I didn't have enough bok choy for this: we got only one small head of bok choy in our box this week. To make up for that, I added broccoli. In retrospect, I thought I should have added some thinly matchsticked carrots as well. Like any stir-fry, you can substitute whatever vegetables you have for those you don't. I think next time I may try adding the tofu before the bok choy as well.

Japanese Noodles with Bok Choy and Tofu

adapted from Bon Appetit

1/4 c soy sauce
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T honey
2 T oriental sesame oil
8 green onions, chopped
2 lg garlic cloves, minced
1 T minced, peeled fresh ginger
2 heads bok choy, bottom third discarded, leaves thickly sliced (or substitute/add broccoli)
12 - 16 oz extra firm tofu, pressed, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
12 oz udon noodles, freshly cooked

Whisk soy sauce, vinegar, honey, and 1 T sesame oil in a small bowl to blend. Heat remaining 1 T oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, and finger and stir 30 seconds. Add bok choy (and other vegetables--if using carrots, add before bok choy) and saute until it begins to wilt, about 2 minutes. Mix in tofu, then noodles and sauce. Stir to coat noodle mixture with sauce. Cook until tofu and noodles are heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Steak with Mushrooms

Somehow, the last cuts of beef to be eaten from our split quarter steer are the steaks. Curtis thinks this is a travesty and has decided that this year (the year starting in April/May when we get our fresh beef) the steaks will be eaten first.

The problem? I don't know how to make a good steak, especially not on a grill, so they get used for stir fry's or pan-cooked. When I scramble for meal ideas, I open up our little deep freeze and pull out a hunk of meat and cook it. The ground beef always goes first, followed closely by the flank steaks (fajitas!!), and roasts. Now, I am pulling out things like steaks and oxtails (more on the oxtail another time). I needed to find a recipe for steak that would hide the fact that I don't know how to make steak. This recipe was it. I used three small - medium t-bone steaks for this recipe.

Steak with Mushrooms
from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook

2 - 3 steaks (depending on size)
1 T Dijon or coarse-grain brown mustard
2 T olive oil
8 oz mushrooms (cremini, shitake, portobello, or button), sliced
1/4 c dry red wine
1 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T snipped fresh thyme

Trim fat from steaks. Spread mustard evenly over both sides of steaks. Heat 1 T olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add steaks and reduce heat to medium. Cook to desired doneness, turning once. (Medium rare is 145 degrees and medium 160 degrees). Transfer steaks to serving platter and keep warm in a low oven.

Add 1 T oil to drippings in skillets. Add mushrooms and cook for 4 minutes, or until they begin to release their juices. Stir in wine, Worcestershire sauce, and thyme. Simmer, uncovered, for 3 minutes. Spoon sauce over steaks (or put in bowl and let everyone sauce themselves) to serve.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Smoky Greens and Beans

Mmm...this is a great side or a stand alone light supper. I think it was intended as a soup, but I just needed it as a side, so I just didn't dish a lot of the broth (and had the leftovers as soup). I didn't have smoked paprika, so regular worked just fine. Next time, I'll be sure I do have the smoked paprika. That's right friends, there will be a next time for this one. I also just used water for the broth and it was just fine.

Smoky Greens and Beans
adapted from Bon Appetit

2 T olive oil
1 lg onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1 1/2 t smoked paprika (or regular if you can't find smoked)
1 3/4 c (1-14oz can) vegetable broth, chicken broth, or water
8 c coarsely chopped assorted greens (kale, mustard greens, and/or collards, about 8 ounces)
1 15-oz can cannellini beans, drained
grated Manchego or Parmesan or other hard salty cheese

Heat oil in large pan over medium high heat. Add onion and saute until softened and beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, stir 1 minute. Add tomatoes (with juice) and paprika; stir 1 minute. Add broth and greens. Bring to boil, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer until greens are wilted and tender (depending on the type of greens depends on the time--I used all collards and it took longer than 15 minutes), about 15 minutes. Stir in beans and simmer just until beans are heated through, 1 - 2 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Orange Angel Food Cake with all the Fixings

For about the past year, I've been saving egg whites for this cake. Any time I made something like pudding (or anything else that just used yolks), I'd put the whites in a glass jar in my freezer. On the lid, I'd keep a tally mark about how many whites were inside until the jar was full. The jar filled up a couple months ago. That left me to wait for oranges in our CSA box.

Saturday, I had the oranges, the whites, and the time to make this cake. I splurged and bought some tropical fruit at Central Market (oh, how I love blood oranges...) and set about making this cake. I didn't buy the passion fruit for it, it cost way too much and I didn't miss it (since I've never had passion fruit).

Today, Monday, the cake is gone. All that is left is a pint jar 3/4 full of caramel sauce (mmm...I'll have fun using that!). This was probably one of the best angel food cakes I've ever had. It was light and airy and seemed to melt in my mouth. It had nice flavor between the orange zest and the vanilla. (My cousin made homemade vanilla extract for all the cousins for Christmas this year. It is incredible!! My vanilla is made with bourbon and Madagascar vanilla beans. I need to try making my own vanilla sometime!)

Orange Angel Food Cake with all the Fixings
from Bon Appetit

Caramel Sauce
1 c sugar
1/3 c water
1 c heavy whipping cream
2 T butter
3/4 t ground cardamom (optional)
pinch of salt

Angel Food Cake
1 1/4 c powdered sugar
1 c cake flour
1/4 t salt
1 1/3 c egg whites (about 9 large)
1 1/2 t cream of tartar
1 c superfine sugar
1 T finely grated orange peel
1 1/2 vanilla

Tropical Fruit Compote
2 blood oranges
3 ripe passion fruits
1 kiwi, peeled, quartered lengthwise, then cut into 1/2" slices
1 c 1/2-inch cubes mango
1/2 c 1/2-inch cubes pineapple
1 - 2 T sugar
1 T fresh mint, chopped
pinch of salt

For the sauce (you can make this as much in advance as you want, just heat slightly before serving): Combine sugar and 1/3 c water in a heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to medium-high and boil until syrup is deep amber, swirling the pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush occasionally. Remove from heat. Carefully add the cream. Put the pan back on low heat and stir until the caramel bits have dissolved and sauce is smooth. Remove from heat, stir in butter, cardamom and a pinch of salt. Stir until butter melts. Bring to room temperature and then store in the refrigerator until you use it.

For the cake: Sift powdered sugar, flour, and salt 3 times. Place in a medium bowl. (The sifter shown below is your best friend for this recipe).

Using an electric mixer fitted with a whisk, beat egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tarter and beat until whites are opaque and soft peaks form (Soft peaks=when pulled up with a spoon, a peak forms briefly and then gently droops over back into the whites). Gradually add superfine sugar, beating until whites are thick and shiny and fluffy peaks form. (Fluffy peaks=whites hold the peak shape, but the very tip falls back into the whites. The shiny appearance is very helpful in determining this--you don't want the whites to start looking dull, that means you've over beaten it.) Add the orange peel and the vanilla and beat until just blended. Sift in 1/4 of the flour over whites. Use a large rubber spatula to gently fold the flour into the whites (gentleness is the key--you don't want the whites to deflate). Repeat with remaining flour mixture in three more additions. Transfer batter to an ungreased 10-inch diameter angel food cake pan with removable bottom and 4-inch high sides. Smooth out top with a rubber spatula. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees oven for 50 minutes, or until cake is golden and springy to touch.

When the cake comes out of the oven, immediately invert center of pan on a bottle neck. Cool completely, then gently remove from pan, inverting onto a cake stand or serving dish.

For the compote: Cut all peel and white pith from the oranges. Using a small sharp knife and working over a bowl to catch juices, cut between membranes to release orange segments into a bowl. Squeeze remaining juice from membranes into bowl. Cut passion fruits in half; scoop out pulp and add to orange segments. Add remaining fruits, sugar, mint, and a pinch of salt. Toss gently to combine.

To serve the whole thing: Put a generous slice of cake on a plate. Cover with compote and drizzle caramel over top. Aaaaahhh.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Roasted Salmon with Orange Sauce

Oranges aren't just good in desserts. They also make a good sauce for fish. This recipe was easy and used three things from our CSA box this week--some dill, some green onions, and a couple of oranges. We'll repeat this recipe. With the exception of J, we all loved it. Curtis said it reminded him of summer (he grew up in the Atlantic Provinces of Canada and ate salmon in the summer) and M informed us once again, that she LOVES fish.

Roasted Salmon with Orange Sauce
from Bon Appetit

1 large orange, unpeeled, sliced
1 large onion, halved, thinly sliced
1 1/2 T olive oil

4 4-oz skinless salmon fillets
3 T fresh dill, chopped

1/2 c orange juice
1/4 c thinly sliced green onions
1 1/2 T fresh lemon juice

Place orange slices in single layer in 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish.

Top with onion slices and drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast until onion is brown and tender, about 25 minutes in a preheated 400 degrees oven. Remove from oven and increase oven temperature to 450.

Push orange and onion slices to side of baking dish. Arrange salmon in center of dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and 1 1/2 T dill. Spoon orange and onion slices atop salmon. Roast until salmon is opaque in center, 8 - 15 minutes depending on thickness. (If salmon seems to be cooking very slowly, removed oranges and onions from over top for a few minutes). Meanwhile, mix orange juice, green onions, lemon juice, and remaining 1 1/2 T dill in small bowl.

Transfer salmon to platter. Spoon onion alongside; discard roasted orange slices. Pour orange sauce over fish. Garnish with additional orange slices.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Orange Blueberry Muffins

I don't love citrus plain. Grapefruit, is the exception, but even then, I grow tired of eating it. Thankfully, M loves oranges and I can feed her oranges almost every day for snacks. I like using citrus in baking (what don't I like using in baking?) and was thrilled to find this simple blueberry muffin recipe that had and orange in it. I was able to pull out some of the blueberries I had frozen over the summer to throw in these muffins, which made them even better (because it didn't involve a trip to the grocery store). We all loved them.

Orange Blueberry Muffins
adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

grated zest and juice of 1 orange
about 3/4 c buttermilk
2 large eggs
3 T honey
1/2 c butter, melted and cooled
1/3 c sugar
2 c all purpose flour (or up to 1 c whole wheat flour and 1 c white flour)
1 T baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 c blueberries, fresh or frozen (not thawed)

Pour the orange juice into a measuring cup. Pour in enough buttermilk to make 1 c. Pour into small bowl and whisk with honey, eggs, and butter. In a large bowl, rub the sugar and orange zest together with your fingertips until the sugar smells strongly of oranges. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir quickly, but gently to blend. Stir in the blueberries. Divide the batter evenly between 12 muffin cups (either with muffin papers or greased). Bake in a preheated 400 degrees oven for 22 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to rack, cool 5 minutes, and then enjoy!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Spanish Beans and Greens Soup

I am a huge fan of collards and kale these days. I think my favorite way to use them this year is in soups and I seem to have a soup recipe for all occasions that has collards/kale. Some things seem to be similar amongst the soups---cannellini beans, broth (of course), and usually potatoes and sausage. It's the other things and seasonings which makes the soups unique. This one had saffron ( of my favorite things!). It is also a very forgiving soup if you don't have enough (or all the ingredients). I had only 1 1/2 c of cannellini beans and that was not a problem. M would have liked more beans, but she survived.

All of us who tried this loved it. M ate two or three bowls and even ate the collards in the last bowl when I told her it was the most nutritious part of the soup (she's really into food that gives her "energy" and "makes her strong" right now. I'm not complaining! It offsets her desire to eat candy every day---poor child, that doesn't happen!). I put it through my little food mill for baby I and he ate a couple of small bowls. Curtis liked it enough he took it for lunch two days in a row. It's a winner!!

Spanish Beans and Greens Soup

2 cloves garlic, minced
2 c onions, choppped
1 t salt
1 T olive oil
1 t fennel seeds
3 bay leaves
1 lb bulk sausage
2 c potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
8 c vegetable or chicken stock
4 c (or more) kale, collards, chard, or cabbage, stemmed and chopped
1 c celery with leaves, chopped
3 c cannellini beans, cooked and drained
generous pinch of saffron
1 1/2 t salt
1/2 t black pepper

In a soup pot, saute the onions and salt in oil on medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are golden. Add the fennel, bay leaves, and garlic and saute for another minute. Add the sausage and cook until it starts to brown, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, stock, greens and celery. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add the beans, saffron, salt, and pepper. Simmer until the vegetables are cooked, 5 - 10 minutes (depending the greens you used).

Friday, January 15, 2010

What We've Been Eating Lately

Here is the menu for the past couple of weeks. It's been a nice combination of tried and true recipes and new-finds.

Black Bean Chili
Apricot Chicken with Almonds
Individual Pot Pies: featuring sweet potatoes, turnips, peas, and kohlrabi
Pibil-Style Pork with a Pot of Black Beans and Pickled Onions
Beef and Bok Choy Sesame Stir Fry
Baked Fish Sticks
Swedish Lamb Stew
Greens with Beets and Potatoes
Sun-dried Tomato Tortellini Soup
Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette
Homemade Pizza

Plus for snacks/desserts we had:
Oranges, Grapefruits, Apples (last week was the last week for apples at the Farmer's Market--we really enjoyed those this year and will miss them), Morning Glory Muffins (recipe coming soon!), Homemade pretzels (substituted 1 1/2 c whole wheat flour to make the slightly healthier), Peanut Butter Torte (recipe coming some time), carrots, and homemade challah bread.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Greens with Beets and New Potatoes

I am finding our CSA box isn't going as far as it once did. At first I thought it was because the box size was smaller. I've since realized that I am feeding more people with the box than I did when I first started several years ago (feeding three instead of five!). I am needing to supplement with finds at the farmer's market. I love that Johnson's is at both of our area farmer's market and I support them there as well. Last weekend, I found beautiful bunches of small beets there and bought three bunches since my family loves beets. I also had this recipe in mind.

At one point, I had been planning on using my dill in this, but having using the whole bunch of dill in the lamb stew earlier in the week, I had to leave it out. I think next time, I may clip some of my fresh cilantro (all my herbs survived the freeze--yippeee!!!) to add a little more flavor. I varied greatly from the original recipe--I made the whole thing less fussy and more simple. It made me happy to know the whole salad came from Johnson's.

Curtis and I thought it was great. Again the vinaigrette was nice and light. I set some roasted veggies aside for M, J, and I to eat alone. It's a great salad which reminds me slightly of the nicoise summer salads. With these proportions, this recipe should serve 6 - 8. I made a whole recipe of beets, potatoes and vinaigrette. However, I only used as much lettuce as I thought Curtis and I would eat and saved the other ingredients for salad another day.

Greens with Beets and New Potatoes
based on a recipe from Gourmet

2 medium beets (1 lb with the greens, 14 oz without the greens), stems trimmed to 2 inches
1 lb small new potatoes, scrubbed well
1 t olive oil
1/8 t salt
7 oz (14 c) greens (Bibb, red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, baby arugula, meslun, baby spinach or a mix)
1/3 c fresh chevril, dill, and/or cilantro leaves, chopped (optional)
1/3 c fresh tarragon leaves (optional)

1 1/2 T white wine vinegar
1/4 t dijon mustard
1/2 t salt
1/8 t black pepper
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil

Wrap beets in foil and roast on a baking sheet in upper third of a preheated 425 degrees oven 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Once beets have roasted for 30 minutes, toss potatoes (whole) with oil and salt, place on a baking sheet, and roast in lower third of the oven until potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Carefully unwrap the beets, cool slightly, and slip off and discard skins and stems.

Meanwhile, whisk together vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified (or use the shake in a little jar method---add all vinaigrette ingredients and shake vigorously until well blended).

Cut beets into 1/3 inch dice and put in a large salad bowl. Cut potatoes into 1/3 inch slices (cutting the slices in halves or quarters if they are rather big) and add to the bowl. Add the greens and herbs (if using). Add vinaigrette and toss gently to coat.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Swedish Lamb Stew with Dill Sauce

As you may have noticed, the theme for recipes lately have been using dill. Yes, seeing the little glass full of dill sitting on the windowsill makes me happy, but I figured I could get even better use out of it. Yesterday, I commented on recipes only calling for a tablespoon here and maybe a 1/4 c there of dill. This recipe solved the problem, calling for an entire bunch of dill. I didn't want to throw the baby with the bathwater though (isn't that a great saying?) and before I threw the bunch in the pot, I cut off some from the top so I would 1/4 c dill for my sauce. My windowsill is now missing it's pretty dill, but the lamb from last night enjoyed it.

I used lamb in this dish, you could use chunks of pork or beef (stew meat or whatever else you have handy) if you prefer. Curtis doesn't like the strong gamey taste of lamb, but I've found that is easy to temper by removing a lot of the fat from the lamb before cooking it. We all enjoyed it, even baby I. I think next time I will try beef stew meat instead of lamb (because, well, it's a whole lot cheaper and already in my freezer). We had a slight sauce problem due to switching chefs in the middle of dinner making for a last minute grocery store run for noodles. Thin sauce or not, we loved it! The dill wasn't overpowering, but wonderful. This makes 4 servings. While this takes a lot of simmering time to make, hands on time is very short, making this a relatively easy meal.

Swedish Lamb Stew with Dill Sauce
adapted from Bon Appetit

2 1/2 lbs boneless leg of lamb, cut into 1-inch cubes (or pork or beef)
4 c water
1 lg onion, chopped
1 lg carrot, chopped
1 large bunch of fresh dill (reserve 1/4 c of this for the sauce)
2 large pinchs of pepper
2 t salt

2 T butter
2 T flour
1 T white wine vinegar
2 t sugar
1/4 c fresh dill, chopped
2 T whipping cream

Place lamb, 4 c water, onion, carrot, bunch of dill, pepper and salt in a heavy large pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, skimming off foam. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until meat is tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 1/2 hours (you can do this as long as you want, really, or even in a slow cooker, but for a longer time). Strain broth into a small saucepan. Boil until reduced to 2 1/3 c (if you end up with less than this, just add a little water to get to 2 1/3 c), about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the dill from the lamb.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk 1 minute. Whisk in 2 1/3 c reduced broth. Cook until sauce thickens and boils, whisking constantly, 6 minutes (or longer in our case). Whisk in white wine vinegar, sugar, and 1/4 c chopped fresh dill. Simmer 3 minutes to blend flavors. Stir in cream and lamb an simmer until heated through about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve over noodles.

New Michael Pollan book

As those of you who follow this blog regularly know, I love Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, and in general the New York Times Food/Health sections. In my weekly perusing of the NYT Food section, I stumbled across an interview with Michael Pollan about his new book: Food Rules: An Eater's Manual. In this small book, Pollan has compiled a list of 64 food rules to follow for a healthy lifestyle. Pollan asked NYT readers to share their food rules--a lot are based in cultural and familial traditions (as in, "My grandmother always said....") I loved these and agree with many of them. Some I know I need more work on, especially his basic, "Eat Mostly Plants" rule (somehow, we have reverted to eating lots of meat this winter....). My two favorite rules? "You don't get fat on food you pray over" and "Eat all the junk food you want, as long as you cook it yourself." I am looking forward to reading the book and seeing all 64 food rules.

Click here to see an interactive link of 20 of his rules.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Baked Fish Sticks

It's difficult to find a recipe that uses a lot of dill. One tablespoon here, one tablespoon there.....makes the dill bunch diminish really slowly (which I guess there is nothing wrong with this, as long as the dill stays fresh).

I made this for dinner when it was just the kids and I. I was sure this would be a kid-friendly meal. M, in particular, loves fish. I forgot to account for the homemade challah bread that came out of the oven about 15 minutes before supper was ready. All either kid wanted for dinner was challah with jam. Sigh. When I refused more challah without eating fish, M ate all of hers and J ate part of his. However, she didn't ask for seconds.

Nonetheless, I will make this again. I still think that on a normal day, when it is not competing with warm challah, the kids will love it. I plan on reheating the leftovers, putting them with those pickled onions and making some pseudo fish tacos for lunch. This original recipe had a bit of spice to it. I omitted it because I hoped the kids would eat. I am sure the recipe would be fabulous with the cayenne. Next time, I will also serve this with tartar sauce---it was begging to be dipped in something.

Baked Fish Sticks
from Bon Appetit

6 T butter, melted
1 T dijon mustard
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 T chopped fresh dill
1 c plain dried breadcrumbs
1/2 t cayenne pepper (optional)
1 1/2 lbs white fish fillets, cut into 3 x 3/4" strips

Whisk together butter, dijon, lemon juice, and dill in a pie plate. Mix breadcrumbs with cayenne in a another shallow dish.

Heat 2 baking sheets in preheated 475 degrees oven until hot, about 5 minutes (I skipped this step, I suspect this would make the fish sticks crispier than mine came out).

Dip fish, 1 strip at a time, in butter mixture, then in crumbs. Turn to coat. Place 1 inch apart on prepared sheets. Bake until crumbs are golden and fish is opaque in center, about 6 minutes per side (12 minutes total). Garnish with lemon wedges and serve.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Pickled Onions

I made these pickled onions as a side for the black bean/cochinita pibil meal. I remembered the cochinita pibil tacos/burritos at El Chilito and new that part of what made those divine were the purplish onions on top that weren't strong at all.

Make these a day ahead of when you want to serve them to let the flavors soak into the onions and deepen. These are great on pulled pork, and black beans and rice. I am also thinking about using these to make leftover fish tacos with the leftover fish I made from the other night.

Yucatan Pickled Onions
from Bon Appetit

6 c of water
1 large red onion, cut crosswise into 1/8" thick slices, rings serparated
2 garlic cloves, quartered
1 T coarse kosher or sea salt
1/2 c white vinegar
3 whole allspice
1 bay leaf
1/2 t ground black pepper
1/2 t dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
1/4 t ground cumin

Combine 6 c of water, onion, garlic, and 1 T coarse salt in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then boil 1 minute. Drain. Return onions and garlic to same saucepan. Add vinegar and remaining ingredients. Add enough water to saucepan to just cover onions. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat, cover and cool. Transfer onion mixture to a bowl, cover and chill overnight. Will keep for one week in the refrigerator.

Pot of Black Beans

During college, I went to Central America (primarily Guatemala) for a semester and feel in love with black beans. I came home motivated and learned how to make basic dried black beans. When I first started working and had no money, I spent a lot of time eating those said black beans on rice. In due time, my paycheck increased, I discovered the Moosewood Restaurant Cookbooks, and Cooking Light Magazine. I roamed away from black beans. If I ate them, it was in a restaurant or out of a can with a meal. It's been a good ten years or so since I've last opened a bag of black beans up, soaked them overnight, and simmered them throughout an afternoon.

For some reason, I felt inspired this weekend. Maybe it was seeing someone on facebook talk about making a pot of beans. Maybe it was the cold that settled over us for the weekend. Whatever, it was, I went to the store, bought a bag of beans, and searched for a new recipe of black beans (not wanting the old, tired recipe that was so 10 years ago).

The revival is complete!! I made a fabulous pot of black beans that made the whole house smell delightful and went beautifully with our pseudo cochinita pibil (a citrus marinated boston butt--pork shoulder), rice and pickled onions. I am excited to make these again and can see myself eating a comforting bowl of rice and black beans (and some pickled onions too) on cold days when it is just I (the baby, not me, myself and I) and me at home. I loved these with bacon grease, but you could easily make these vegetarian or just healthier by using something like canola or, even better for you, olive oil.

Black Beans
adapted from Homesick Texan

1 1/2 c dried black beans
1 T bacon grease (see above)
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced
1/2 chipotle in adobo, chopped (you can use up to 3, depending on how spicy you like things)
1 T oregano or epazote
1/2 c cilantro, chopped
water (to cover beans) or a water and chicken broth combo
1/2 t cumin
1 T tomato paste
1/4 c lime juice
1 t salt (or to taste)

Soak the bean covered in water--either overnight or the quick soak method in which you place the beans in a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, cover and remove from heat, and let sit for one hour.

Drain the soaked beans. In a large soup pot/dutch oven, saute the onions and carrots in the bacon grease for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and saute a minute more. Add the drained beans, chipotle(s), oregano, and 1/4 c cilantro. Cover the beans with liquid (water and/or chicken broth), bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low. Cover the pot and cook for 1 1/2 hours. (If you are making this ahead of time, stop here, let the pot cool, and then refrigerate until you are closer to when you are serving them). Add the cumin, tomato paste, lime juice, salt, and remaining 1/4 c cilantro and cook for 30 more minutes. (If you refrigerated in the middle, allow yourself 45 minutes. Return pot to a boil first, then add cumin, etc, and cook for 30 minutes).

Serve on rice (or however you please).

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Grapefruit Vinaigrette

We are inundated with greens right now. While, I often stick to my easy standby of store bought dressing, sometimes I want something different. Very rarely I find a store bought vinaigrette that both Curtis and I like, and I find it's much easier to make my own. I was excited to find a recipe that used grapefruit, which are easy to find both at the grocery store and farmer's markets right now.

This recipe couldn't be any easier. I mixed the vinaigrette in an old (clean, don't worry) dijon mustard jar, but any small jelly type jar works great. We had this on top of an arugula and spinach mix. It was tasty, but not overpowering.

Grapefruit Vinaigrette
from Bon Appetit

2 T freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
1 T white wine vinegar
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil

Pour grapefruit juice and vinegar into a small glass jar. Shake briefly. Add oil and vigorously shake into vinaigrette is well blended. Pour immediately over greens (particularly good with arugula). This makes enough for 4 servings.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Apricot Glazed Chicken

Since we only got back into town last Friday, we didn't get a CSA box for the week. I have resorted more to some of the meat I've had lurking in my freezer awhile or other things I can piece together to hold me over to Wednesday.

We all loved this meal, except for J who just wanted peas. I is now 8 months old and starting to eat more and more of the foods we are so he enjoyed this as well (without the almonds). After M stated she didn't like fish "that way" we informed her it was chicken and she could at least try it. Turned out, she likes chicken just fine this way.

If you remember to preheat the oven before you start cooking, this is a quick meal. I spent most of my time waiting for the oven to warm up. I served this with saffron rice (plain rice with a little bit of saffron crumbled in before the water/rice comes to a boil). We also had peas and an arugula/spinach salad with a grapefruit vinegarette (recipe coming later).

Glazed Apricot Chicken
from Gourmet

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
5/8 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
1/3 c sliced or slivered almonds
1/2 c apricot preserves
1 1/2 T soy sauce
1 T whole grain (like dijon) mustard
1 T butter

Pat chicken dry and sprinkle all over with 1/2 t salt and 1/4 t pepper, then arrange at least 1/4 inch apart in a lightly greased 9 x 13" metal baking dish. Bake 10 minutes in preheated 400 degrees oven. While chicken bakes, toast almonds in a small baking pan in the oven, stirring twice, until golden, 8 - 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the apricot preserves, soy sauce, mustard, butter and remaining 1/8 t salt and 1/4 t pepper in a small saucepan over moderate heat, stirring until preserves are melted. Pour sauce over the chicken and continue to bake until chicken is just cooked through, about 10 minutes more. Turn on broiler and broil chicken 4 - 5 inches from the heat, basting once, until chicken is glazed and browned in spots, about 3 minutes. Serve sprinkled with almonds.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Mexican Black Bean Sausage Chili

We have a lot of cold weather forecasted for the coming week. This is a perfect recipe to warm you up on a cold day. For a lot of leftovers or to feed a small army (or at least 6 - 8 people) make a full recipe. Otherwise, you'll probably want to cut this recipe in half.

A note for the Texans. I know this isn't "Texas" chili. Texas chili doesn't have beans in it. I am not a Texas and I am glad this recipe has lots and lots of beans in it. Curtis and I loved it. Curtis likes it so much he is actually taking the leftovers to work two days in a row (which I think must be some sort of record for him). I made the mistake of adding too many chiles to it for the kids to eat it. I think if I would have only added one, M, at least, would have eaten it.

This is a hearty soup that needs simmer time, so start this about 1 1/2 hours before you want to eat (give yourself 2 hours if you have lots of little distractions pulling on your legs). The last 45 minutes though, you do nothing, except maybe whip up a corn bread to accompany your children.

Mexican Black Bean Sausage Chili
adapted from Cooking Light (basically, un-lightened)

1 1/2 lbs bulk sausage (this is the kind that is formed into links, but looks like ground beef)
2 T olive oil
2 c onions, diced
1 T ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 t dried oregano
1 - 3 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped (freeze the unused portion for later use)
4 (15-oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
3 c chicken broth
2 1/2 c water
1 (29-oz) can diced tomatoes (with juice)

1 lime cut into 4 wedges
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
sour cream (opt)
grated cheddar cheese (opt)

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add sausage, cook until browned, stirring to crumble. Add onions, cumin, garlic, oregano, and chiles. Cook 4 minutes or until onion is tender. Place 1 can (1 1/2 c) black beans and 1 c broth in food processor and process until smooth. Add pureed beans, remaining beans, remaining broth, water, and tomatoes to pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes or until slightly thick. Serve and garnish with a lime wedge, cilantro, sour cream, and/or cheddar cheese.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone enjoyed either pork and sauerkraut or black eyed peas and collards today (depending on where you live and your traditions). We spent the day returning home from visiting family in the East and was blessed to have food waiting for us when we got home.

I should be cooking again next week!