This weekend we had my cousin Dana (quite a talented jewelry-maker – check out her Etsy site) over for dinner and a sleep-over with the kids while my wife was out of town on business. Since she had some errands to run in Manhattan, we weren’t entirely sure when she’d make it over, so I popped a pot of water onto the stove to get to a boil and decided to make something that could be thrown together last-minute. Last week we got some lovely nectarines in our CSA fruit share and I thought savory and sweet/tart go so very well together…
So beets have returned… which is good. Why? Because beets are very good friends with steak… which is even better. I’d never cooked a hanger steak before, but considering the results, I would have to say that a repeat performance will certainly be in order. It is a surprisingly quick cook on the grill considering the musculature and you end up with a meltingly delicious steak for less than a lot of pricier cuts. The meaty goodness of steak combined with the interesting juxtaposition of sweet and savory that is beets along with the creaminess of goat cheese and the satisfying crunch of romaine lettuce all balanced with a tangy vinaigrette made for a lovely dinner indeed.
So we got a LOT of pea shoots over the past few weeks in our CSA. Now, I like pea shoots (which taste like a very mild combination of sweet peas and baby salad greens), but there really is only so much you can put on a sandwich or in a salad. Then I remembered that you can make pesto out of almost any green, leafy vegetable – arugala, spinach, basil (of course), etc. – and I wondered if making a pesto from our massive pile of pea shoots was a possibility. The answer, of course, was yes.
One of the easiest ways to get dinner on the table quickly is a stir-fry. Or it can take a while… it really depends on how you want to go about it. I like to marinade my meat (sounds dirty… really isn’t) for at least 30 minutes in the spices and sauces that I intend to flavor the dish with, but it isn’t entirely necessary. For a chicken stir-fry I tend to favor boneless, skinless chicken thighs as they have a lot more flavor and moisture than chicken breast, and they tend to stay moist, even in the high heat environment of a wok. Speaking of, it is best to do this sort of thing in a steel wok, as you can toss the ingredients really easily. You could do it in a chef’s pan, but they tend to be of a denser material and have a flatter bottom, one makes heat transference a little slower (really not the point here) and the bottom can lead to uneven cooking. That aside, this week in our CSA box we received a nice portion of scallions (or green onions for those of that bent) and our first carrots of the season. I usually use a lot more vegetables in a stir-fry, but in this case, I wanted to showcase the mild oniony flavor of the scallions and the sweetness of the carrots.
This week in our CSA box we received some interesting things. Among them, garlic scapes, beets and Swiss chard. Garlic scapes were all the rage a year or so ago… the food blogging world just wouldn’t stop talking about them. If you happened to miss it, garlic scapes are the immature garlic plants. They’ve a mild, garlicy flavor that works well in many recipes, most notably a garlic scape pesto (thanks, Adam Roberts). Since last year I found it a challenge to use up all of the things I got in the box so I figured I’d use the scapes in a sauce with some of the other vegetables.
Every once in a while I look in the “something special” case at the butcher’s counter in the supermarket. Frustratingly enough, the one butcher we had in the neighborhood went out of business not too long after we moved in, so there’s usually nothing interesting to cook. This time, cruising past, I saw a cut of lamb I’d never seen before. It was a steak created by cutting a cross-section of a leg of lamb. I love lamb. Actually, I love any meat with a strong flavor and a little gaminess to it. Usually this kind of food waits for a special occasion, but the only one coming up is my birthday, and making my own birthday dinner seems a little silly, so it is being made just because. So there.
Elizabeth has been working late a lot these days, crazy deadlines for two shows (that I can’t talk about, sorry) and it can be a challenge to figure out what to make since I can’t be absolutely sure what time she’ll be home. Yesterday, Ian’s dinner wasn’t an issue since he had a playdate/dinner with one of his classmates from school. I mention all of this because I have to apologize ahead of time if the timing on the dish isn’t perfect… there was a lot of futzing with the temperature as I was trying to make it possible for us to have a nice hot dinner at the end of a long, wet day. It was also a wonderful opportunity to finish up the handful of new potatoes I had on hand. Ian doesn’t like potatoes (it’s a texture thing) so I don’t make them too often anymore. A shame, really, as I expect quite a few of them in our CSA box when that gets started (more about that in a future post).
At around 7 am this morning, my brother gave me a call because he was picking out a pinot noir at Publix for a dinner that he was having this evening. Having tried to give him some advice on the direction he should consider on that front he mentioned to me that his dinner companion would be bringing chicken to his house for cooking. Usually people say no red wine with white meat, but that’s not always true. As with any rule, they are really there as guidelines and truly great food (or design — my other thing) is based on knowing when and how to break those rules. To that end, I’ve decided to try to help by creating a recipe that will pair a pinot (tragically that I’ve not tasted) with chicken. I’ve also not actually tried this recipe (though I’ve had something similar), so I’ll have to wait for the comments section to see if this turned out all right — and a real photo.
Boy I hope Google Translate got that right.
So when we were working on the gift registry for our wedding, Elizabeth added a Crock Pot. I thought she’d lost it. What in the world would we need THAT for?
It has been a well loved piece of kitchen equipment for close on eleven years; creating stews, pulled pork and other wonderful, slow-cooked foods that I’d not thought that much about previously. Today being Cinco de Mayo (and Tyler’s 9 month birthday), I decided to try my hand at Tacos de Carnitas. I apologize in advance to anyone in the Mexican community if this isn’t totally authentic, but we do what we can with what we have available. I didn’t make the corn tortillas from scratch (sorry AB), but I tried to buy ones that seemed like they would be best for the job at hand. And so: a la cocina!
I was considering making basic hamburgers on the grill earlier in the week, but it didn’t really work out with everyone’s schedule. And when the weather turned sour I decided that it would be indoor cooking for me. Now there is nothing wrong with a stovetop burger, but why settle when you have bacon? The problem with your traditional bacon burger is keeping the bacon on the burger while you eat it. Then there’s the cheese… the whole thing becomes a greasy mess. I figured it would be fun to do something a little different.