14 August 2014

Emergency dinner: mashed potatoes with homemade ranch & salad with green beans & eggs

Emergency dinner: mashed potatoes with homemade ranch & salad with green beans & eggs

Sometimes you just need emergency dinner.

First, put a pot of salted water on to boil. Scrub your potatoes under running water, cut into quarters, and simmer until tender.

Put your eggs into the potato pot to cook along with them. Scoop them out after about eight minutes and put them in a bowl of ice water to cool. When you're ready, whack them all over with the back of a spoon, peel them, and cut them into quarters.

Wash and trim your green beans. Put them in a steamer that fits over your potato pot. Put the steamer over the pot and steam until done to your liking. Shock briefly in cold water.

While your potatoes finish cooking, make a batch of The Chubby Vegetarian's yogurt ranch dressing. Put it in the fridge until you're ready to serve.

When the potatoes are done, drain them well and mash them with butter, salt, and pepper. Mash in some ranch dressing if you don't have any yogurt-haters in the house.

Get out a dinner plate. On one side, throw down a handful of the clean salad leaves of your choice. Top with green beans and eggs; season with salt and pepper. Drizzle on some olive oil if you so choose. On the other side of the plate, deposit a huge scoop of mashed potatoes. Top the potatoes with as much ranch dressing as you like.

Now eat it. Eat it all.

And for those of you watching at home, here's what it looks like when you hard-boil a double-yolked egg.

Emergency dinner: mashed potatoes with homemade ranch & salad with green beans & eggs

I've been saving this picture for months! And now, finally, there is a reason to post it. Eggs are the best, you guys.

What do you eat for emergency midsummer dinner?

11 August 2014

Spinach salad with lemon cucumber, toasted almonds, and summer cherries

Spinach salad with lemon cucumber, toasted almonds, and summer cherries

Well, we are still essentially buried under a massive amount of fresh CSA veg at all times.

This means salads. Lots of salads. Salads at dinner, yes; salads at lunch, yes. Salads at breakfast? Also yes.

Breakfast salads are one of my favorite things. This stems from our year and a half living in Brooklyn, during which we tried our best to eat at every restaurant possible, and consequently ended up eating a lot of brunch. I mean, we would have ended up eating lots of brunch anyway, but Brooklyn is one of those towns in which brunch is practically an institution. So we ate lots of brunch at lots of different places, and the main thing those places had in common was salad. Every time we ate brunch anywhere even the smallest step up from the classic diner, we discovered that our orders came with a handful of mesclun and shredded carrot, tossed with vinaigrette and deposited next to the egg of our choice.

And now I don't really want to eat breakfast without some sort of serious vegetable content.

So. Salad for breakfast?

We received both a bag of baby spinach and a few lemon cucumbers in the last CSA box. Clearly, those were the basis for an excellent salad.

Lemon cucumber is not a variety I use much, mostly because it's not the best choice for pickling. But when I'm not making pickles, I find its mild flavor and subtle crunch to be delicious in salads and sandwiches.

The cherries came into play after we found bags of them on sale for $2 per pound. You can't say no to that. And once you have cherries, you have to have a handful of crunchy, rich almonds as well.

Boom. Salad.

Spinach salad with lemon cucumber, toasted almonds, and summer cherries

Spinach salad with lemon cucumber, toasted almonds, and summer cherries

baby spinach
lemon cucumber
toasted almonds
sweet cherries
olive oil
salt, pepper
lemon juice

Arrange a few handfuls of spinach on each salad plate. Scatter a few drops of olive oil over them.

Trim your lemon cucumber, halve it, and slice it into thin slices. Arrange half a cucumber's worth of slices over each salad.

Roughly chop a handful of almonds and scatter them over each salad.

Pit your cherries, either using a cherry pitter or the paperclip method. Cut them in half. Strew a generous handful of cherry halves over each salad.

Dress your salads with a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, and some salt and pepper. Done.

While these salads are excellent alongside a plate of traditional breakfast eggs and toast, they would also clearly be fine additions to the lunch or dinner table. Eat them with a huge sandwich, a seared piece of halibut and a side of green beans, a bowlful of rice and curry. It's all good.

What is your favorite summertime salad?

07 August 2014

Red cabbage curtido de repollo

Red cabbage curtido de repollo

If you want to make the pinkest pickle imaginable, I have just the recipe for you!

I've been making gigantic batches of curtido de repollo -- essentially, spicy pickled cabbage slaw -- ever since I first tasted it at our local Salvadorean restaurant. There, you stuff platefuls of pupusas with as much curtido as you so desire. The contrast between soft, chewy masa, creamy beans, and crunchy, tangy curtido is pretty spectacular.

At home, I've never yet attempted a batch of pupusas. Note to self: this really needs to happen as soon as possible. However, the curtido has been flowing freely. We eat it in tacos, in burritos, on top of big bowls of chili, and occasionally all by itself. SO good.

Normally, I use standard green cabbage and yellow onion to make curtido. This time, I had a lot of red cabbage and red onion from our CSA. Pink curtido it is!

Red cabbage curtido de repollo

1 small or 1/2 large red cabbage
a carrot
half a small red onion
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 cup water
2 serrano peppers, or whatever works for your spice tolerance
1 tbsp salt

Start by coring and shredding your cabbage and dicing your carrot and red onion. Put them in a large non-metal mixing bowl (mine is 4 quarts) and toss to mix.

Put your vinegar, water, peppers (chopped roughly), and salt in a blender. Liquefy. Be sure to keep your hand and maybe a towel over the top of the blender, so you can combat any liquid leaks. The result will be a light green brine with a layer of foam on top.

Red cabbage curtido de repollo

Pour your completed brine over your bowl of vegetables. Stir, getting all the vegetables wet.

The brine will not come up to the top of the bowl; this is fine. As the cabbage pickles, it will wilt and exude liquid, so the amount of brine will increase to cover all the veg within a few hours.

It will also turn pink from the red onion and cabbage. Hooray! Pink pickles!

Red cabbage curtido de repollo

Cover the bowl, put it in the refrigerator, and let it sit for at least three to four hours. Mix every so often, so the surface cabbage gets submerged in the brine. When the liquid level comes up to the top of the vegetables, you can stop mixing.

Congratulations! You are the proud owner of a big batch of curtido -- about 8 to 10 cups, depending on the size of your cabbage. It will keep well in the refrigerator for a good two weeks, getting gradually more and more pickley as it ages.

Eat your curtido with pupusas or arepas, on tacos, in burritos, on top of servings of chili, or alongside big bowls of tortilla soup. So crispy and tangy and delicious!

What's your favorite bright pink food?