Tag Archives: cook

Green Beans and Cantaloupe

It was time to sauté the green beans…but the cantaloupe sitting on the shelf whispered excitedly “me too, me too!”

Peculiar mixture, but I obliged.

It was delicious! Throw in a few big basil leaves at the end, also.

Sauteed green beans and cantaloupe

Sauteed green beans and cantaloupe

 

ravioli, Polaner All-Fruit

Breakfast Ravioli!

For Xmas Eve, we had fresh ravioli with dinner and in a stroke of inspiration, I had an idea for the extra raviolis that were not going to be served- save them for the morning after. How nice would they be once fried gently in butter, maybe with a dusting of powdered sugar on top? I envisioned squishing a little jelly into their centers before frying them (I used strawberry Polaner all-fruit) and laying them into a pan of melted butter. Once golden brown, I gave them a dusting of powdered sugar and served with a tad more jelly on the side.

They were perfect. Just the right amount of sweetness to complement the ricotta and savory herbs with which they had already been stuffed. I expect I’ll be doing this more often!

ravioli, Polaner All-Fruit

Breakfast ravioli with strawberry Polaner All-Fruit and a dusting of powdered sugar.

broccoli rabe, arugula, chicken, lemon pizza

Getting Our Greens (and Carbs!)- Pizza with Broccoli Rabe & Arugula

I had some arugula in the refrigerator and a vision of pizza in my mind. On my trip to the store, the pizza crusts were on sale, further proof of the “meant to be” serendipitous nature of my culinary idea.

First, I set to work zesting a little lemon, juicing it and mixing it with some olive oil, basil, and parsley. I let the mixture settle into the chicken breast I was about to saute (in butter).

Next, I chopped up the garlic that is so necessary for broccoli rabe. It emitted its familiar aroma. Washing the broccoli rabe, I took note of its crisp leaves, which always feels like the sound of the word “cruciferous” to me. I cooked it up, watching its green color deepen and its leaves start to wilt. I also added some red pepper flakes for a little extra oomph.

After the chicken and brocooli rabe were cooked up, I went to work dressing up the pizza crusts- one with marinara sauce, one without. Then I spooned the broccoli rabe on top. Amply sprinkled shredded cheese over it. Arugula. Raw onion slivers. Chicken. More cheese. On the sauce-free one, I added the leftover lemon juice and butter.

Baked them for 22-25 minutes and admired them once out of the oven. The onion with its crisp burnt edges, the chicken with its burst of lemony flavor. Aaaahhhhh……

Slow Cooking with Beer, Part 2

Thanks to the BF’s DRAFT magazine (I scored a deal on Groupon for the subscription, thank you very much), I’ve been making better use of my crockpot. Or rather, I’ve been actually using my crockpot. I don’t know why I didn’t get into this sooner. I am loving this thing. And making Italian Pork Roast with Fennel and Potatoes was the most fun I’ve had with food preparation in a long time. It was just a great sensory experience, starting with the mashing of garlic and salt in my mortar and pestle. Nose bliss!

mortar, pestle, fresh garlic

Pestled up fresh garlic, salt, lemon rind, and fennel seeds.

The aroma was so freshly nostalgic and wonderful. I just had to sit and experience it for a few short moments before I continued. Then I added the fennel seeds and lemon zest (which I vigorously zested), and went back to work at pestling up the ingredients.

As as an aside, isn’t the smell of freshly grated lemon zest delicious? Refreshing? Invigorating? Yes, I think so too.

This one rare time, I did actually stay pretty true to the original recipe (for the most part). I may have fudged the measurements for certain ingredients, and of course I used flower pepper as opposed to “regular” pepper, and maybe threw in a couple of other dried herbs here and there, but for the most part, the ingredients themselves are unbastardized.

Next I “butterflied” the pork loin- as directed- but when I noticed that the recipe stated that I should coat the inside of the loin but not the outside, I threw out all hopes of being true to its intended form and just started rubbing that spice mixture all over it. I believe that it thanked me.

I also had no “kitchen string” and hence opted not to bother tying it together. A little rebellion, a little improvisation. I browned the meat on all sized and let it rest on a plate while I went to work on the fennel. Real fennel, bulb fennel. You might also know it as finocchio (say it with an Italian accent).

fennel, finocchio

Fennel, finocchio

To get the brown bits out of the pan after I shifted the fennel into the crockpot, I heated up the beer to be used for the recipe. I did not have Helles lager or witbier (I’m not the beer connoisseur, so don’t even bother asking me what those are. I only that I did not have them in my possession), so I used a saison (Sneak Attack). As far as the end result goes, I think it matters not.

I finished off by cutting up the potatoes and throwing them into the crockpot (on top of the fennel), adding the heated beer, and gently placing the already-browned loin on top of the whole mixture. Slow-cooked it up for several hours and had a meal for the next evening:

Italian pork roast with green beans and focaccia

Italian pork roast with green beans and focaccia

Served it with a side of green beans sauteed in oil and breadcrumbs, and a piece of focaccia from Piece-A-Cake. Delicioius!

Moroccan Beef Stew

After becoming acquainted with ras el hanout a couple of years ago, I’m always excited about finding a recipe that makes use of it. And we indeed found one while flipping through the BF’s latest copy of DRAFT Magazine- Moroccan Beef Stew.

My hankering for not following a recipe to the letter was in check on the day I made this delight, particularly because of the lack of vegetables in the original recipe. So I included some baby carrots and celery to the mix (and served with a side of broccoli and cauliflower braised in a bit of beer). I also doctored up the recipe with some dried apricots (in respect for Armenian-American family friends, I sought out a variety that did not come from Turkey) and dried cherries- just a few for taste. I did not want to veer too far off from the intended flavors of the meal.

golden raisins, dried apricots

Golden raisins and dried apricots

In place of the black lager, I used peanut-buttery Sweet Baby Jesus by DuClaw. Whoa. That was some seriously peanut-buttery smelling brew! The entire house smelled of it as I simmered my sauteed onions, celery, and garlic in it.

Sweet Baby Jesus, porter, beer, DuClaw, Du Claw

Simmering Sweet Baby Jesus porter with onion, celery, and garlic

I coated the stew meat with the ras al hanout (and freshly-ground pepper) before browning…and after browning:

stew meat, ras al hanout, ras el hanout

Browned stew meat with ras al hanout

And added the other ingredients (olives, tomatoes, and the like):

olives, tomatoes

to the crockpot, letting all those flavors go to town and meld together to create something delicious! We served the first batch with couscous, which was a perfect compliment to a Moroccan-inspired dish.

Cinnamon and Peaches

A few weeks ago, I had a hankering for comfort food in the form of pancakes (or flapjacks, if you prefer). I could clearly envision them topped with lightly sauteed peaches. Could practically taste them. So of course, I went about making my enthusiastic, good-natured argument of “pancakes for breakfast!”

We used Kodiak Power Cakes to make sure we amped up our protein intake. S made the flapjacks and I went to work on our nearly-unusable peaches. Nothing a little butter in the pan and cinnamon can’t fix!

Cooked peaches to adorn our breakfast-for-dinner flapjacks!

Cooked peaches to adorn our breakfast-for-dinner flapjacks!

The aroma was heavenly. The taste was delightful. I felt rejuvenated and cared for, sensuous and fragrant while eating this meal. When was the last time you had breakfast for dinner? What are your favorite “breakfast for dinner” recipes?

Fresh herbs- Tarragon

When I’m looking to make a meal quickly, I sometimes reach for Trader Joe’s Butternut Squash Triangoli. I boil them as directed on the package, then quickly saute them with a little butter and cinnamon (mmm)! This time, I added some fresh tarragon to the mix. It added a nice spin to a familiar flavor for me.

Butternut squash triangoli (Trader Joe's) sauteed in butter with cinnamon and fresh tarragon.

Butternut squash triangoli (Trader Joe’s) sauteed in butter with cinnamon and fresh tarragon.

I always enjoy experimenting with flavors and this is a combination that I may try again in the near future! I also like how the tarragon looks on top of the triangoli.

Celebratory Birthday Dinner

This past weekend was my mother’s birthday, so we (the boyfriend S and I) set out to create an enticing and elegant yet quaint dinner party at home. On the menu was the following:

❤ watermelon sauteed in coconut oil (inspired by an aphrodisiac cooking class we took with Chef Fed), finished with a dusting of cinnamon and drizzled with an exquisite star anise-infused maple glaze, painstakingly created by S.

The aroma of the maple syrup and star anise made the whole house smell like an Italian bakery. It really aroused my sense of smell and indulged me in feelings of warm bliss. Heavenly!

The sauteed watermelon was accompanied by a cucumber salad with fresh mint and tarragon. To appeal to the sense of sight, I plated it so:

photo 4 (1)

❤ Fresh tomato salad with local Jersey tomatoes and fresh basil, accompanied by buratta.

❤ Chicken francese with a side of fresh pappardelle and broccoli rabe

photo 1 (5)

❤ Black forest brownies topped with homemade fresh whipped cream. {Sorry, no photo of the brownies but you can view the recipe I used}.

The meal was a delight to prepare, engaging the senses beautifully, and was well-received by our guests. We look forward to doing it again!