30 January 2008

Broccolololo

Oh my god, you guys! Winter vegetables!

Right now the kitchen is full of vegetables and vegetables and more vegetables. I don't want to eat anything but vegetables. Yesterday I defrosted and heated up a gigantic block of soupe au pistou and ate the Entire Thing because it was so vegetabley and delicious and huge and perfect. Then I was extremely full and happy and had some cointreau and went to bed.

YES!

Broccoli is one of the best vegetables, yet people put it down and kick it in the shins! Boo! They LOSE, because this is some delicious broccoli.

Seriously eat lots of the broccoli:

a head of broccoli
a hot red pepper
lots of garlic
olive oil
maybe some salt.

Get out a bunch of garlic. Use about eight or ten cloves. You want lots of garlic. Garlic is delicious! Smash all the cloves with the flat of your knife, peel them, chop them into medium bits, and put them in a sauté pan with medium to large amounts of olive oil. Cook them slowly and nicely.

Get out a hot pepper, cut off the stem, halve it, and cut it into thin half-moons. Stick it in there with the garlic.

Cook slowly, so everything gets sticky and sweet. While things cook, get out the broccoli. I only had a broccoli crown, which was Not Enough for two. Get a whole head of broccoli. Cut it into reasonable small florets. If you want more bits, cut up some of the stem. You may need to peel this if it's particularly tough.

When the garlic is starting to turn goldeny brown, add the broccoli to the pan. Turn the heat up to medium-high, stir things up, and cook for about five minutes. The broccoli will turn BRILLIANT GREEN and absorb some of the garlic oil. When it starts to show a few singed edges, you are done.

EAT. We had it with seared marinated tempeh and brown rice, but you could do practically anything else. Fried egg, steak, cup of soup, teriyaki, big sandwich. Eat it with a fork.

28 January 2008

Vast alien landscape complete with slime and goo

We almost never have bread anymore, which I find tragic and senseless. Oh, and kind of reasonable, considering just how much space bread takes up in a backpack. We usually end up breaking baguettes in half to avoid gaping zipper syndrome.

So there's no bread in the house. Then there's the whole bit where we're too lazy to go out to the store just for some bread. Then there's the bulk flour in the freezer. We have yeast in there too, but yeast bread takes actual time. Soda bread and banana bread aren't really bread; they're cake. So: crackers.

Crackers are actually really easy. I first tried making them after I read redfox's post on them, ages ago. Everyone likes to whip out dough like a sheet! Of course, I scored my dough, so that made whipping it around a little more difficult.

Ok ok.

My nearly identical crackers:

I did Not put my cookie sheets in the oven ahead of time, due to aforementioned dough issues. So instead I just preheated the oven to high high serious heat. I didn't put any wheat gluten in the dough, and didn't make any attempt to measure the sesame seeds. Then I rolled out my pieces, pricked them with a fork, put them on cookie sheets, and scored them into diamonds with a sharp knife. It probably took about five minutes to bake each piece, complete with flipping dough and pan rotation.

Then we broke them into bits and ate them with lentil soup and yogurt cheese.

Lentil soup! It can sit on the stove bubbling while you do all the baking, and it will only get more and more delicious.

Lentil soup

green lentils
onion
a hot pepper
olive oil/butter
salt, pepper
a bay leaf
veg broth
maybe some marjoram?

I soaked a bunch of green lentils overnight, even though it's not really necessary. It'll just take longer for everything to boil if you don't soak them.

Ok. Chop up an onion and cook it down slowly in olive oil or butter. Mince a hot pepper and add that too. When the onion is good and soft, add a bunch of lentils, a cup or two of vegetable broth, and a bay leaf. Bring the whole business to a boil, lower to simmer, cover, and cook everything until the lentils are tender and your broth has evaporated as much as you want. Mine took about twenty minutes. Salt, pepper, and otherwise spice if you want.

At this point you have intact lentils and onion in broth. You can leave it like that, and it will be delicious. But if you want vast bowls of swampy goo, you can break out the immersion blender. Then you can eat it with lots of crackers or pita or big spoonfuls of plain yogurt or yogurt cheese in the middle.

Everyone likes goo.

25 January 2008

Today I got two pairs of socks soaked through.

I AM VERY TIRED OVEN SAMMICHES:

rye bread/other nice bread
gouda/other cheese that likes apples
fuji/other crisp nice apple/maybe pear
pepper

Get rye bread.

Get apple. Cut in very thin slices. Put slices on bread.

Slice some gouda. Rip into smaller bits if desired. Put bits on bread.

Pepper.

Put in toaster oven or regular oven. You can use the toaster "toast" setting or just bake at 350F.

When cheese is browned and bubbly, eat.

Have the rest of the apple.

Go to sleep.

23 January 2008

I often capitalize "purple".

Another thing you can do with your squash is put the leftovers into your pan of purple scalloped potatoes.

These are actually fairly fake scalloped potatoes. I didn't make a sauce or anything; I just used chunks of cheese and butter with milk over all. It works perfectly well, and you avoid cleaning another entire pot plus a whisk full of cream sauce. It's an easy casserole thing that you assemble, shove in the oven, and forget. By the time you get hungry and remember, everything is done.

Clearly you can use regular potatoes for this, as long as they're decent boiling potatoes. But PURPLE.

Purple scalloped potatoes

some potatoes
shallot or onion
milk
butter
cheese
spices: paprika, salt, pepper, maybe some mustard powder

I made one pie plate for maybe 1.5 dinner servings. It works fine for two if you have other things to eat alongside.

So. Preheat the oven to 350F.

Get out some potatoes and an onion/shallot. I think I used about four potatoes. Slice the potatoes as thin as you can stand. It helps to cut them in half, lay them on their flat sides, and cut across into half moons. This way nothing is slithering out from under your hand while you're using a knife. Then consider the onion business. I used shallot, but whatever you have lying around works. The proportions here depend on how much you like onion. I used one big shallot; you can use as much onion family as you like. Just peel it and slice it up. The shallot can be in thicker slices, since it's going to disintegrate nicely in the oven.

Get out some cheese and butter. You can use lots of different cheeses; I had gouda. Get out some milk. Get out any spices you want.

Now it is time to assemble. Find a shallow casserole of some type. Pour a little milk into the bottom, then layer in a bunch of potato slices. Scatter over a layer of shallot bits, plus some chunks of butter and cheese. Add a shake of salt, pepper, and paprika. Then start again with the potato layer. You can also add your leftover squash, or whatever else you deem appropriate. Repeat until you are out of potatoes and onions, ending with cheese/butter/spice layer. Pour some more milk over the whole thing. It doesn't have to completely cover everything, but should come at least 3/4 of the way up the side.

Now shove the dish in the oven and go do something else. Check on it in about 15 minutes. At this point you may want to baste the top of the potatoes with any available liquid running around the pan, but this depends on how little milk you could scavenge. Then stick it back in the oven and leave it another 15 of 20 minutes.
When everything is nice and happy and brown, and the potatoes are clearly done when pierced with a fork, get it out of the oven and eat it. It is a big sizzling ugly soporific mess. Scalloped potatoes!


Later you can continue the purple theme with cauliflower. PURPLE! Also easy! Also DELICIOUS.

Roasty purple cauliflower


head of cauliflower
olive oil
salt
that's it.

Get out a good knife and whack that cauliflower into many delicious florets. Anoint it with olive oil, sprinkle it with salt, and spread it in one layer in a baking pan. Then stick it in the oven to roast at hot hot 425F.

Check in about ten minutes. Stir. Put it back in.

When the cauliflower has acquired a number of singedy brown bits and smells really, really good, it is done. Eat it! It is popcorn! PURPLE POPCORN.

Ok, that one I didn't actually do. But PURPLE!

21 January 2008

Squash squash

Winter squash is kind of a bitch. It has the whole supertough skin, which requires some serious cleaving action to deal with effectively. Then, once you've gotten the thing split/peeled/seeded of all its stringy little bits, it takes an hour to cook. It's hard to eat squash on a weeknight.

Of course, on the weekend you have hours of laying around available. You can whack that squash in half and leave it in the oven while you go play video games. Then you can either use the flesh right away or stick it in the refrigerator for later. It is an excellent idea.

I like acorn squash, so that's what I'm using.

Baking a winter squash:

Preheat the oven to about 350F. Get out a good knife and whack the squash in half through the stem end. This is not anywhere near as hard with a little acorn squash as it is with, say, a butternut. Butternut squash is awkwardly shaped and can grow into some totally appalling coils if you let it. You'd have to cut a squash like that into lots of big chunks, then halve all of them. Acorn squash, in contrast, is little and squat and only requires one cut. Once it's halved, scoop out all the seeds and chuck them.

If you were going to boil your squash, you'd have to peel each half and cut them into reasonable chunks. So instead of doing that, get out a little baking pan. Stick the squash halves in, cut side up. Add a bit of olive oil or butter to each half. Then chop a quarter of a storage onion into medium chunks and divide them into the two halves. This is clearly for savory squash; if you're going to use your squash for pie or something, don't add any onion. Also make sure to use a flavorless oil instead of olive oil.

Stick it all in the oven and bake. If you want, you can add some water in the bottom of your baking pan; this will steam the top flesh faster and keep the heat uniform at the bottom. It works fine to bake squash without any water, though.

Check back in about a half hour or 45 minutes. This time is going to depend pretty heavily on the size of your squash. If the flesh is tender and there are lots of goldeny brown crusty bits on top, you're done. If not, rotate the pan and leave it another 15 minutes, or however long it takes.

When things are done, pull them out of the oven and let them cool for a couple minutes. Then get a fork and scrape as much flesh as possible out of each piece of squash. I find this easiest when actually holding the squash; make sure to keep your oven mitts on if you do this, since the squash will be pretty dang hot.

Now you have a bowl of squash puree. Squash!

What will you do with it?

*Make delicious squash-onion-sage and marjoram soup
*or squash/black bean/cayenne soup
*or use it instead of pumpkin/sweet potato in a pie of some sort
*or find a pumpkin/squash bread recipe and do that
*or stick it on a plate and eat it with gravy/chunk of meat/seared tempeh/something, plus a green salad
*or

Squash and black bean quesadillas

cooked squash
refried beans (or whole cooked, whatever)
any other vegetables you want
tortillas
cheese or no cheese

These are super easy.

Get out a tortilla. Spread squash puree down one half, and refried beans down the other. I usually cook a bunch of onions and garlic and hot pepper into my beans, so I don't really need to add any more vegetables. If you have just plain beans though, you can add lots of things: caramelized onions, fresh green onion, cooked corn, hot pepper rings, whatever. Add these to the bean half. If you want cheese, slice it thinly and put a layer of it over the beans as well. Most hard cheeses will work ok here; I had sharp white cheddar. Once you've added everything you want, fold the squash half of the tortilla onto everything else. The result will probably be very thick and exciting.

Prep as many tortillas as you want, then cook, two at a time, in a frying pan over medium heat. Since these are pretty thick, it can take five or so minutes to brown the first side. Check then out every once in a while. When the first sides are browned, flip the quesadillas carefully. It's easiest to just lift one up with a spatula, put your hand on top, flip the entire construction, and lay it back in the pan. Or you can just use the spatula and work quickly.

When both sides are browned, eat with salsa or sour cream or yogurt cheese or guacamole. Or plain.

You can also make these with leftover mashed sweet potato instead of squash! YES.

18 January 2008

It is apparently dairy week

Before I got sick:

Superpungent supervegetable goat cheese pasta

garlic
olive oil
olives (green here)
roasted red pepper
spinach
tomato puree/etc
pasta
goat cheese
salt, pepper, basil, oregano, paprika

Make pasta while you make the sauce. Timing depends on the pasta. I had gemelli. These take a long time, more than ten minutes, so I started them first.

If you need to roast a red pepper, do it. I had one left over.

Sauce: crush, peel, and roughly chop a lot of garlic. Use like six or eight cloves. Throw them into a big pan with some olive oil and cook medium-slow while you prep other vegetables.

Chop up olives and add them once the garlic is slightly softened. Chop up your roasty pepper and add it too. Open a can of tomatoes and dump maybe half of it into the sauce. Season with oregano, basil, paprika, black pepper, and lots of salt. Everything else can be pretty sparse; you already have olives and roasted red pepper, and you're going to have goat cheese.

Bring this all to a nice simmer and let it cook. I usually add my pasta to the boil at this point.

Now do the major vegetable prep: fresh spinach. Wash your spinach well (give bath in sink, destem, put in towel, go out back, swing towel, spray water everywhere via centrifugal force) and chop it too. Make the pieces pretty small, so you'll end up with lots of nice bits instead of long stringy pieces.

When the pasta and sauce are just about done, it is time to swing into action. Add spinach to sauce, stir, and turn heat to very low. This way the spinach will just get nice and soft and shriveldy.

Now get out your goat cheese. You want a semisoft chalky dude for this, although clearly other cheeses would work well too. I like goat cheese because it's all pungent and yet will melt and meld seamlessly into the sauce. If you hate goat cheese, you should clearly use something else, such as romano, or no cheese at all. So. Cut off a couple good chunks of goat cheese, break them up in your fingers, and add them to the sauce.

Stir. They will melt right in. If you are dissatisfied with your amount of cheese, do it again. The sauce will turn lighter and lighter orange with each bit of cheese you add. When you like the taste, stir really well to break up any last chunks. The result will be SUPER UNCTUOUS. Well, not really oily, but clingy and rich in a very satisfying way.

Drain pasta, dump into sauce, and mix. Now you can eat it.

You really want red wine with this. I don't think I had any red wine. You should get some red wine.

You should also get a severely crispy salad with hearts of romaine and super garlicky dressing. I didn't have that either.

16 January 2008

sick milk whisk

I've been lying around alternately bored or in a lot of stomach pain, and sometimes both. Everything I ate yesterday contained milk. Fun fun for everyone.

Here are some things you can do with milk for an acid stomach:

Real hot chocolate

milk
pieces of good chocolate

Put a cup of milk in a saucepan and put it over low heat. Let it warm slowly while you find some adequate chocolate. I used two pieces of a chocolate orange from christmas. Apparently they stamp the "Terry's" on every single slice now. Was it always like that? Anyway.

When you find some chocolate, chop it into bits with a sharp knife. You want the bits to melt as easily as possible, so make them pretty small.

Add the chocolate bits to the milk, increase the heat a little, and start stirring. Stir more or less continually, to avoid any burning. You just want the milk warm enough to steam; fully boiled milk can split, which is just gross. Keep cooking until all the chocolate is melted and you clearly have a pan of cocoa as opposed to milk with gravelly bits.

Pour it all into a mug and drink it. Don't burn yourself; hot milk is HOT.

The only problem with real hot chocolate is the milk skin. You will have to deal with skin, especially if you got your milk extra hot. It's fine. Just eat it.


Milk-oriented food #2: cream sauce. This could go either way since you could be too sick to eat heavy dairy, like cheese and butter. I was not, although I couldn't eat a lot at once.

The best application of cream sauce:

Real mac and cheese

milk
butter
flour
cheese of choice
pasta
salt, pepper
other spices such as nutmeg

To make real mac and cheese, you start with a white sauce. So. Get out a decent whiskable stainless steel saucepan, some butter, and some flour. We used whole wheat flour, which was fine. Cut off a couple tablespoons of butter and throw it into the pan. Melt over medium, swirling the pan for optimal speed. When everything has melted and the butter is starting to froth happily, throw in a couple tablespoons of flour. Then bust out the whisk and start whisking. You'll see the flour absorb the butter; make sure it absorbs evenly, with no clumping. Whisky whisky. Or whiskey whiskey for catholics. Ok!

The butter and flour are now something called a roux. This is just a term for "cooked thickener made of butter and flour". There's another uncooked thickener, butter and flour rubbed into a paste, which you use for soups. Anyway. Keep whisking as the business starts to cook together. A good roux needs to cook for at least five minutes or so, or else the whole sauce will just end up tasting like flour. Once about that long has passed, and the roux has started to turn a nice brown, it is time for milk.

Add milk. Keep whisking. You need maybe two cups of milk for two regular servings of cream sauce; add more or less if you feel the need. You can use whatever percent milk you like, although something like skim is going to take quite a bit longer to thicken than something like whole or cream. Yeah, you can use cream too, although I wouldn't for the sick stomach. Besides, milk works fine. I used skim.

This is probably a good time to put your pasta water on, if you haven't already. Cook pasta and drain when appropriate. We used mostaccioli; practically whatever you like is fine, although I wouldn't do something like angel hair with this super-thick sauce.

As you keep whisking the milk on and off, chop or shred some cheese. We were going for pretty classic mac and cheese, so we used a combination of white cheddar and some double cream gouda. That made up for the skim milk pretty well. If you want more of an alfredo sauce, use parmesan or romano. You don't really need too overabundant an amount of cheese, especially if it's good and pungent, so it's possible to make this out of the last of the cheese rinds that are starting to die in your fridge. Or you can buy new blocks of cheese and dump in a full cup. Whichever.

As the sauce cooks, it will start to thicken and look a little shiny. This will probably take something like ten minutes (with skim milk, anyway). You have made a b├ęchamel; good job! When you notice the sauce thickening, start adding handfuls of cheese and whisking them in gradually. Add as much cheese as you want/have. Hey, now it's sauce mornay!

This is also a good time to add any spices you might want. John put in a pinch of nutmeg plus lots of black pepper and a little salt. Nutmeg is the classic addendum for cream sauce, for some reason. It's really an apparent spice, though, so be careful to use as little as possible or the entire end product will taste like nutmeg. If you want more savory sauce, I like adding some paprika and a little mustard powder.

You can keep cooking and whisking the sauce as long as your pasta needs to boil. At this point you'd just be keeping it warm while keeping the bottom from burning or a top skin from forming.

When pasta is done, drain. Now you can either toss it into the sauce or plate it and pour the sauce over. I nearly always dump all my pasta into the sauce, so it can get thoroughly coated in the pot. Also, when you have both sauce and pasta as warm as possible, it's easier for said pasta to absorb said sauce, and it's clearly easier to keep both of those warm while still in the heat-conducting pan.

Put it in a bowl and eat it.

Or! If you want baked pasta, you can stick it in a casserole, top with bread crumbs and little more cheese, and put it in the oven. I, however, want it all saucy.

If you have leftover sauce, you can keep a skin from forming by putting a sheet of plastic wrap directly in contact with the top of the sauce. If you only have sauce on pasta, it's going to coagulate no matter what you do. If this kind of thing bothers you, only make as much as you can eat right away. It's fine with me, which is fortunate since I spent most of yesterday occasionally pulling my cold bowl out of the refrigerator, eating two or three bites, then sticking it back in.

14 January 2008

more sammidgy business

Today I stayed home from work with stomach issues. Gleh.

Oven sammiches again.

good bread
roasted red pepper
spinach
mushroom
olive oil
salt and pepper
cheese if you want

Before:
If you need to roast your pepper, stick it on a cookie sheet under the broiler. Rotate it every few minutes to get it evenly blackened. Then take it out and put it in a closed container to get the skin steamed off. After a couple of minutes, take it out, let it cool, and flake the skin off with your fingers. Cut the pepper into big segments; chuck the seeds and stem.

Ok.

Cut up some bread. Cover each piece with slices of pepper. Then add some well-washed raw spinach. Then add some chopped mushrooms. Then add some cheese if you want cheese. Practically any white cheese will work, as long as it melts well. I had the end of the hard goat cheese from the other day. Mozzarella or provolone would be standard; parmesan or romano would work. Whatever you want. Oven sammiches are also clearly good without cheese. Then add salt, pepper, and a little olive oil.

Put everything on a cookie sheet and stick it under the broiler. Watch the pan so nothing fries to death; turn it if you need to. As soon as the cheese is melty and golden brown, and the mushrooms etc are clearly shriveled and cooked, take everything out. Give it a minute, so you don't take off the entire roof of your mouth, then eat it.

After:
This kind of thing is clearly my standard for nights with no energy. Tonight is a night with no energy. Of course, I also have a nice person here who just made me a big bowl of scratch roux-based mac and cheese.

11 January 2008

sesame sesame open sesame


We made cookies. They were not christmas cookies. They were post-christmas cookies. Antepenultimate christmas cookies. Sure. Cookies.

Seriously, these are ideath's cookies. ideath is great. Her cookies are clearly much better than other more traditional cookie. You can find them here.

We tried to make these as small as possible for the 1/2 tsp required. Ha ha! That is DIFFICULT. Make them as small as you can stand. We also toasted the sesame seeds for ten minutes or so in a frying pan. Watch them; don't let them burn. Nicely golden browned seeds are what you want. So then we put the cookies in the oven and left them slightly too long. Actually we liked the slightly burnt cookies quite a lot, although they weren't optimal. Cookies!

These require lots of tea. Tea tea.

09 January 2008

Crusty crusty eggplant crust

I have been having some serious eggplant-peanut ideas. It has been way too long since I've had a good plate of baigan bhartha, for instance. This must and will happen in the near future. In the meantime, I've been sitting around going through all the vegan blogs, salivating over things such as eggplant-peanut soup. For some reason we have no actual peanuts around, though: only peanut butter. Granted it is excellent peanut butter with a big layer of peanut oil on the top, but it was not enough to make up for my other missing ingredients. So I decided to make something up instead.

Crusty crusty eggplant steaks

a little eggplant or two
good peanut butter
tahini
garlic
olive oil
pinch of salt

(If you want rice or other long-cooking grain with your eggplant, put it on before everything else.)

First, make delicious sauce. Get several spoonfuls of peanut butter, some smashed and peeled cloves of garlic, a glob of tahini, a little salt, and several good glugs of olive oil into a mixable bowl, food processor, or blender. Process into a smooth slurry. You may need to add some water to thin this down to your preferred consistency; we left ours pretty thick.

Get a frying pan nice and hot. Or you can preheat the oven (or toaster oven! yay!) to 350F for bakey eggplant goodness.

Cut the eggplant(s) into long steaks about 3/4 inch thick. If you want to do the salting and letting sit thing, go for it. I don't want to, so I'm not going to. We were using those thin little Italian eggplants about six or eight inches long; you can use whatever kind of eggplant you have around. It would be pretty sweet to just split a bunch of those little egg-shaped ones in half and use them like that, with maybe some slits into the flesh. You'd have to use the oven for that one. Anyway.

Brush the eggplant slices with some olive oil and coat them in the sauce. Put them into the frying pan in one layer.

Now you have to wait around. While you're waiting, make couscous or whatever else you want to eat with delicious eggplant of this nature. I would also recommend some cucumbery salad with yogurt or oil and vinegar.

Check the eggplant after ten minutes or so. Are they getting nice and browned on the underside? Then it is time to flip them over. Be careful, especially if you left your sauce thick; this stuff likes to flake off in big clumps if you let it. It doesn't actually matter much to taste, but composition.

Leave everything in the pan for five minutes to brown on the other side.

When things are done, plate them: grain of some type, eggplant steaks with their crusty bits flying everywhere, whack of salad on the side.

I was not entirely happy with this business, mostly because of the copious sauce flakes. I mean, it was not bad, but I kept thinking about how to make it better. How to make it better: thin the sauce way down and make the whole thing into more of a braise, with thick but liquid sauce surrounding the eggplant. I would consider adding a can of coconut milk in future as well. That way you could have thick creamy peanutty garlicky stew full of melty eggplant chunks.

This kind of sounds like I just really want baigan bhartha still. Well.

07 January 2008

Pita pita hummus pita pita pita hummus hum.

Pita is messy! Pita is good.

John got all excited about new immersion blender and the ability to make hummus at any time. This led strangely enough to lots of hummus and hummus-oriented business.

Hummus with an immersion blender

chickpeas out of a can
tahini
lemon juice
paprika
three cloves of garlic
olive oil
salt

Drain the chickpeas and put them in an appropriate container for super puree mixing. Whack several big spoonfuls of tahini in there. Cut a lemon in half and squeeze one of them into the mix. Watch out for seeds. Smash the garlic with the flat of a knife, peel off the skin, and add it too. Then glug in some olive oil and a couple shakes of paprika and salt.

MIX!

John was especially excited about the new little food-processory attachment for said immersion blender, so we used that. It worked admirably.

Scrape down sides if necessary and mix some more. Get it to the texture you want. Also get it to the taste you want. This can be done by tasting said hummus and considering what might be missing. In our case, we needed more tahini and lemon juice. After we added them, everything was fine.

Our batch turned out particularly orange, because we like paprika.

Things to do with hummus:

* Dip everything into the land in it: pita, carrots, bell pepper, celery, blanched green beans, whatever.
* Thin it and use it as a glaze for big mushroom or eggplant steaks.
* Make tasty sammiches with it.

Our tasty sammiches:

pita bread
hummus
a leftover crumbled lentil-brown rice burger
lots of watercress/other greens

Split pita. It will not work very well unless you've just baked it, so take that into consideration. Maybe you want to roll it up instead.

Spread insides of pita with hummus, then add whatever bits and pieces you think sound delicious. We wanted crispy lentil bits, so that's what we added. Also watercress, because watercress is good. Any other greens would clearly be fine here too.

Other tasty things to put in sammich with hummus:
* any appropriate raw vegetables you can think of: red pepper, shredded carrot, sprouty business.
* roasted or marinated vegetables such as olives, roasted pepper, any vegetable cooked on the grill (blackened green beans or asparagus!)
* baked or fried slices of eggplant, zucchini, or giant mushroom. Bread them or don't bread them.
* other salady things such as tabbouleh, baba ghanouj, raita, or fattoush.

Oh my god, I am so hungry. It's a good thing we have half the batch left in the refrigerator.

04 January 2008

WHEW

I am done with applications! I WIN!

We immediately sat down and had christmas.

Right now I am making lentil and millet burgers except for the part where I apparently dumped quinoa into the millet jar a week or so ago. Yeah. We are having lentil and brown rice burgers until I can be bothered to go through and separate everything out grain by grain.

No seriously. I did this once before when John started pouring a bag of brown rice into a half-filled jar and I said "uh, those are wheat berries." It was fine.

So I finished applications and we had presents and champagne and I came downstairs to cook delicious things and said HEY WAIT A MINUTE IT IS FRIDAY.


John has been cooking me all kinds of delicious things. I have been cooking some delicious things as well but with difficulty and under duress.

I spent last sunday afternoon with some beautiful cheese:
This stuff is called Pantaleo and it's an extremely pungent Sardinian goat cheese. I mean, I love goat cheese to spread and crumble right and left, but this stuff is hard and severe and really, really good. It was like goat cheese had mated with parmesan and given birth to its mutant delicious baby. It was so good.

I tried bits of it on crackers, but that was too severe.

Then I grated it really finely and rolled black olives in it. This was an optimal use.

Then I put both chopped olives and the grated cheese into a big red pepper boat. It was delicious but too sweet, due mostly to my running out of olives and so stuffing things sparsely. I would recommend lots of both black olives and cheese.

It was great.

Then later I chopped and crumbled some more of it into bits for stand-up-to-it salad.

I got beets. Beets! I love beets, especially pickled ones. I stuck them in the oven to roast for salad.

Beet and everything perfect salad

beets
pecans or walnuts
good pungent hard cheese
vinaigrette
parsley

This whole business was perfect.

Stick beets in some sort of baking pan and roast at 350F for 45 minutes or an hour. When they are done the skins outside should be a little shriveled and papery. You should also be able to smell BEETS throughout the house. It's not terribly pervasive, but it is distinctive.

When done, take the beets out of the oven and out of their pan. Let cool a little, until you can touch them easily. In the meantime, stick a couple handfuls of roughly chopped pecans or walnuts into your pan and stick it back in the oven at 250F. Let them toast for ten minutes, or until you can smell pronounced nut aroma when checking inside the oven.

When beets are cool enough to touch, peel them. This is perfectly easy with use of your thumb, and do not let me see anyone using his finger. Oh wait ok ok. Just pick off the stem end with your fingers, then peel off the outer skin. You can also squeeze the beet and make it pop out of the skin, but be careful, since beet stains. Chop the peeled beets into big salady chunks.

Get the nuts out of the oven. Chop up some cheese into medium yet sturdy chunks. Make vinaigrette if necessary.

Mix beets, cheese, nuts, and torn parsley with vinaigrette. Salt and pepper if you want; keep salt sparse since you already have super-pungent cheese. Notice the vibrant purple stains beets leave on the white white cheese. Eat voraciously.

Don't be surprised if your bodily functions display a certain pinkness the next day. Beet is used as a dye; did you notice?

02 January 2008

happy happy

We got sick of delivery pizza and started cooking even though I for one remain almost completely busy. I spent new year's eve first going to work all day and then doing two gradschool applications; I spent new year's day doing two more plus writing a book review. Somehow I ended up cooking two or three full meals at the same time. Ok, probably afterward. Still.

Olive pasta:

garlic, mixed olives, olive oil, pasta, parsley, parmesan if you want.

Chop garlic and olives roughly. Soften in olive oil. Maybe add a pinch of cayenne.

Olives hiss and spit a lot, so be careful.

Boil and drain pasta. Dump it into the olives. Add some torn parsley leaves and stir it all up. Oil will get everywhere. This is good: it is tangy spicy garlic and olive-flavored oil.

Eat plain or with lots of hard grating cheese. If I weren't doing cheese, I might do some toasted pine nuts.


Purple potato fries:

purple potatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper, paprika, mustard powder.

Chop potatoes into appropriate chunks. Toss with olive oil and however many spices you like. Spread in one layer on a cookie sheet and bake at 350F. Check at about 15 minutes; shake the pan and see if you can get them all to come loose. If the undersides are brown, turn them. Bake another five minutes or so, then eat with whatever ketchup or malt vinegar concoction you desire.

Green green salad:

butter lettuce, green beans, vinaigrette, optional feta

Top and tail green beans and chop into nice little pieces. Boil for two to three minutes, then drain and cover with cool water.

Wash and rip up some butter lettuce; dry it by putting it into a kitchen towel, gathering and holding the corners of the towel together, going out in the backyard, and swinging the towel violently in a circle. All the water will spray everywhere, but the lettuce will stay in the towel. Now you never need a salad spinner.

If you need to make vinaigrette: put a little wine vinegar and a bit more olive oil in a cup with lots of pepper, a little salt, and some torn parsley and mustard if you want. Mix with a fork until emulsified.

Put lettuce and beans in a bowl. Cover with dressing and stir to coat.

If you want feta, add some feta.

Eat it all.