Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mac and Goat Cheese

Recently, Emily and I have been on a quest for really simple and fast meals.  We're trying to eat earlier during the week, and with my bus-riding ways, this means we have to simplify a lot of the time.  But tastiness cannot be sacrificed!  Here's a neat little adult mac 'n' cheese that turned out yummy and quick.  Asparagus season is probably past by now, but other greens can be substituted.  The goat cheese we used was you typical pyramid of Chavrie, which worked out well.  A stronger cheese would have been good too.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

By now you are on the verge of missing strawberry season!  Don't let such a thing happen - go pick some really ripe local ones from a farm near you.  You can make the most classic (and arguably the best) of all smoothies every morning for breakfast and still have plenty left over for noshing and pie.  My recipe is simple.  Cut up one or two bananas and all the strawberries that will fit in our blender.   Freeze it for about 15 minutes, then fill up the blender.  Pour a cup of plain yogurt in, and pour in enough milk to get the blender to do it's work, maybe half to a full cup.   If the strawberries are tart, add a pinch of sugar.  Add a dash of salt.  Blend.  

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Three Bean Salad

Remember 3 bean salad?  It's a classic American salad - maybe it's out of style, but it's a great idea.  Healthy, filling but light, tasty salad great for hot days or outdoor picnics.  Making your own make it taste fresher and more crisp, but is still easy.  Use canned chick peas, and canned kidneys.  Steam some green beans until just done - still bright green and crisp.  Then mix it all together with your favorite vinaigrette dressing.  Don't forget salt and pepper, maybe a mustard or some herbs.  I like to make a more vinegary dressing than with a conventional salad because the beans soak up the flavors.  Eat with crusty bread.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lemon Sea Salt Focaccia

How many of you think that this recipe would be better off without the pretentiousness of sea salt being added to the name?  Maybe just Lemon Salt Focaccia, or Lemon Focaccia since there is always salt on focaccia anyway?  Normally I can't stand that kind of thing, but this recipe merits whatever devices can be employed to lure you into trying the recipe because it's good.  The recipe is here.  Eat it all hot out of the oven.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Linguine with Lamb and Asparagus

This is about what you can do with leftovers from a roast - in this case the lamb roast from a few posts back.  This was great quality lamb, not to go to waste or be buried under sauce.  And asparagus was in season (and happened to be available in the fridge.)  This little improv showcases some of the techniques Cook's Illustrated magazine likes to tout, so I credit them for the recipe.

First I cut up the lamb and sauteed it over really high heat for about 2 minutes to get a little brown and just warm up the meat.  Meanwhile, the asparagus steamed in a a pot for just a few minutes - so it is bright green and still has bite.  Cook the linguine al dente.  When the lamb is done, deglaze with some chicken stock.  Mix in some pureed canned tomatoes, leftover juice from the can, or maybe just diced tomatoes straight from the can.  Scrape up all the brown bits and reduce over high heat for a couple minutes. Then taste, season, turn heat to low, and stir in about 2 tablespoons of cream.  Pour the sauce over the linguine, mix with lamb and asparagus and serve.  Don't worry too much about proportions - just do what looks right, and taste as you go.  The idea is a very light cream sauce, so if there's one thing not to go overboard on, that would be it.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Venison Tenderloin

We had one cut remaining in our freezer from the large gift of venison we got last winter.  It is such a nice, lean cut of meat that I couldn't stand to do anything but roast it nicely.  And that's what I did.  Doing some research, I discovered that the target temperature is right around 140 degrees.  So the technique was to season it, brown all sides in the pan over high heat, and then transfer to the oven until the temp reached 140.  I think this took about 15-20 minutes.  The veggies: carrots, onions, and celery, roughly chopped got a basic seasoning and olive oil and roasted in the pan with the tenderloin.  They take a bit longer so I started them before the meat.  The kicker with this combo is the cranberry relish.  After looking in the Silver Spoon cookbook and discovering that cranberries were a natural pairing for venison, I decided that a normal Thanksgiving style cooked cranberry sauce was not going to be quite right.  Instead, we chose this recipe from Martha, which uses raw cranberries, along with orange and pineapple.  This one we will be making again - it is bright-sweet-tart and refreshing up against venison.  Keep this in mind.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Chocolate Bread Pudding

Who could have thunk it?  Chocolate bread pudding emerges from freezer week?  Well, yes.  A few slices of Emily's last batch of "quick brioche" were still in the freezer.  Just enough for two ramekin sized portions of bread pudding.  Let me tell you, these are rich and deeply chocolatey...probably because we used all very dark chocolate, and none of that milk so-called "chocolate."  Find the recipe here.  Bread pudding fans will enjoy this, but it's not the highest form of the art.  This scores more in the chocolate column of desserts, than in the bread pudding column.  Still delicious.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Weeknight Chicken Tacos

Freezer week continues.  Tacos remain on my list of go-to improv recipes for a tasty dinner our of whatever's in the fridge. In this case: some chicken thighs that have been in the freezer almost too long.  I chopped them very small and browned them in the pan on one side until they had almost crispy edges.  Then a quick scrape of the pan and you can mix in your taco spices.  I generally have some sort of tomato juice leftover in the fridge from a can of tomatoes.  I like oregano, chilies, cumin, hot sauce, salt and pepper.   I find most chile powders taste dull and I avoid them in favor of a good hot sauce.  Put a little chicken on a warmed corn tortilla, with a lot of fresh lettuce and tomato on top.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Madras Shrimp Curry

I picked up an Indian cookbook in London a year and a half ago.  It's called 50 Great Curries of India by Camellia Panjabi.  I didn't need to go to London, you can get it on Amazon for 10 bucks.  The curry in this recipe comes from one of her "research" trips to Chennai (aka Madras).  Think coconut, curry leaves, and tamarind in kind of a tomato base.  I've used it on fish, which is great, but here I put in on pan-seared shrimp from the Maine St market.  More than this particular recipe, however, I have enjoyed this book.  It is very heavy on meat dishes, most of which I haven't attempted, but it has proven helpful on the basics and the simple vegetables.  If only I can find a convenient place to buy the fresh curry leaves I need.