Tag Archives: family

How to Cook a Simple Pot of Lentils

I like how one good thing becomes another. An easy quinoa dish becomes savory little herbed quinoa cakes.  Leftover risotto fills chard rolls.  A pot of black beans leads to chilaquiles and taco salads and all kinds of deliciousness.  What I’m saying is this: make more lentils than you plan to eat in one go.  We’ll be doing something good with the leftovers tomorrow.

This recipe will work for all the lentil varieties I can think of except for red lentils, which tend to cook into a mush rather than holding their shape.  You can eat them alone or with rice, use them in a lentil salad, or serve them as a side dish.  They’re great under or alongside a simple roasted piece of fish (or probably chicken, although I’m no authority on that point).

There are two secret ingredients at play here that make this lentil preparation so delicious: the lentils themselves, which have a sweet, earthy flavor, and salt.  A splash of vinegar at the end doesn’t hurt, either. If you have a carrot and a stalk or celery, great, toss them in.  If not, don’t fret, just go ahead without them.

Personally, my favorite lentils are the tiny green French Le Puy lentils or the equally-tiny black Beluga lentils.  This recipe works equally well with a run-of-the-mill supermarket brown or green lentil, however.  Whichever kind you choose, just be sure to keep an eye out for tiny rocks or dirt clods as you pour them into a colander, then rinse them well before cooking. Continue reading How to Cook a Simple Pot of Lentils (click for recipe)

Rosemary Candied Pecans

This will be brief because it’s J’s birthday and I still have presents to wrap.  But the cakes (yes, cakes!) are baked, the birthday granola (by special request) is cooling, and we’re ready to celebrate another sunny day and wonderful year together.

Whatever you’re celebrating this weekend, this is the season for enjoying the sunshine and hanging out with friends, and where there are friends hanging out, there are bound to be snacks.  These pecans are sweet and snappy, with a little something special from the fragrant woodsy rosemary.  (I won’t tell anyone if you hide a few away in your cupboard to throw in a spinach salad with strawberries and goat cheese later this week.  In fact, I’m going to go do that now.)  The recipe below is a happy love child of this one and my favorite olive oil granola

Continue reading Rosemary Candied Pecans (click for recipe)

Rhubarb-Strawberry Cornmeal Tarts with Ginger and Orange Zest

There are plenty of good reasons to make friends with your neighbors.  You can always borrow a cup of sugar, they’re conveniently close for impromptu cocktail parties or afternoon barbeques, and you can share a lawnmower.  (What, not everyone shares a lawnmower with their neighbors?  Well, maybe you all mow more than twice a year.)

We are lucky enough to have the kind of neighbors who, in addition to all of the benefits above, sometimes drop by with treats.  Recently it was a dish of petal-pink tender baked rhubarb, barely sweet and redolent of orange zest and ginger.  I know, right?

I admit to eating a few stalks straight from the dish with my fingers, and heaping spoonfuls made their way into bowls of yogurt for breakfast.  But I have a new cookbook, Good to the Grain, and it has a picture on the cover of some mighty handsome little single-serving rhubarb tarts.  I couldn’t resist cooking the remaining rhubarb down into a jam with fragrant strawberries and baking them into delicate and delicious free-form tarts.  They’re like the biggest, best jam-filled cookie you’ve ever had.  We shared them with the neighbors, of course.Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

Continue reading Rhubarb-Strawberry Cornmeal Tarts with Ginger and Orange Zest (click for recipe)

Sauteed Mushrooms with White Wine and Thyme

I enjoy food blogs a great deal.  Partly because I love cooking and recipes, and partly because I find them (us) to be endlessly amusing.  So many elegant little nibbles, such perfect photography, such stylized food.  There is a reason I take such close-up photos, people: it’s so you can’t see the rest of my kitchen.  Which is usually a total disaster.  So, just so you know, when I see your photos on your blog, I imagine that the rest of your kitchen looks just like mine.  Maybe it does and maybe it doesn’t, but imagining that you also have dishes piled all over the OTHER counter amuses me every time.

It’s partly because of the perpetual chaos in my house (need I remind you that my girls are 1, 3 and 5?) that I enjoy creating a separate, peaceful plane in my life by writing this blog.  Taking photos with the mess cropped out.  And eating a little better than I might if I weren’t thinking of sharing my recipes with all of you.  So thank you!

Take these mushrooms, for instance.  It’s plenty tasty to toss mushrooms in a pan, sear them brown, and season them well with salt and pepper.  But it’s just one smidge more delicious, and hardly more effort, to splash a bit of white wine into the pan and finish them with a pinch of thyme leaves.  And suddenly, thanks to your presence in the kitchen with me, I’m making a dish fit for company.

A spoonful of these mushrooms will dress up any dish (try heaping the chopped mushrooms onto an egg and toast for breakfast, or spooning them into a panini with some melty cheese, or piling them onto a pizza).  Sauteed sliced mushrooms alone also make an elegant side dish on a dinner (or breakfast!) plate.  Remember that mushrooms are mostly water and will cook down quite a bit.  I’d allow a pound to serve four people.

Continue reading Sauteed Mushrooms with White Wine and Thyme (click for recipe)

Arugula Salad with Tomatoes and Mozzarella

Think of this as a springtime warmup to the full-on Caprese salad ahead.  In a few months, we’ll be slicing thick slabs of heirloom tomato to layer with buffalo mozzarella, juice pooling across the plate, a true summer salad.  This is that salad’s young green cousin, made before the arugula bolts, sweet with quick-ripening cherry tomatoes and enriched by a handful of creamy bambini bocconcini.  If you have a bottle of good syrupy balsamic vinegar, I recommend using it here.

Need a salad to bring to a party?  This one travels well (undressed, of course) and rates favorably on the seems-fancy-but-is-a-snap-to-prepare scale.

Continue reading Arugula Salad with Tomatoes and Mozzarella (click for recipe)

Whole Wheat Yogurt Sandwich Bread, or, Why We Still Have a Breadmaker

There was a period in my life when I had three or four breadmakers.  All used, of course, as a breadmaker is the sort of appliance that seems to wander around in search of a home.  You probably know a couple people trying to give away bread machines they got for their wedding 15 years ago and never used, and they’re always on Craig’s List for $5, and they carom around on Freecycle like nobody’s business.

So anyway, a few years ago I somehow came into possession of a breadmaker.  I hadn’t used one in years.  I used it once or twice with, you know, breadmaker-type results, and then it broke.  Suddenly I keenly felt its absence.  I couldn’t find the same model so I got a different one, and then I did find the same model so I got that too, and maybe I even got a third before I came to my senses, discarded the broken one, and gave the surplus breadmakers away.  Phew.

I will say this for my breadmaker: it makes a reliable whole wheat sandwich bread when we run out of the store-bought stuff.  And what else do I want it for, really?  I usually buy 100% whole grain sandwich bread because I have not found a 100% whole wheat recipe that works in my breadmaker.  (Do you have one?  Please, please share!)  This recipe, straight from the Breadman manual, has been my go-to breadmaker loaf for years.  It is moist with a sturdy crumb and a nice crust and it slices just right for sandwiches.  You can get it going the night before and have a hot loaf waiting in the morning.  It’s worth keeping a breadmaker around for (but just one).

Continue Reading Whole Wheat Yogurt Sandwich Bread (click for recipe)

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

Our strawberry plants are being tended much more diligently than usual this year.  I had really given up on the strawberries, as they are such slug magnets and I want the sunniest spaces for my tomatoes and zucchini.  But my little girls are not so jaded, and they claimed a huge pot and chose blooming strawberry starts at the plant sale.  They watch them closely and water them daily.  For their efforts, they have been rewarded with some hard little green nubbins that even the slugs still scorn.  June-bearing, my foot.

So I am clearly jumping the gun by buying strawberries so early in the year here in Seattle.  But I have seen the photos of your gardens elsewhere, and I don’t want to wait until it’s too late to get this recipe to you.  Besides, it’s been an ice-cream-making kind of week around here–it’s never the wrong time of year for that.

This recipe is from David Lebovitz’s inspiring book The Perfect Scoop, which makes me want to make so many frozen confections.  This year I’m definitely going to try the parsley ice cream. 

Continue reading Strawberry Frozen Yogurt (click for recipe)

Risotto-Stuffed Chard Leaves

I haven’t been to Nice in years, but I’ve been dreaming about a visit ever since I read this article by Mark Bittman in 2008 about a vegetarian restaurant called La Zucca Magica.  (I’ll just wait here for a minute while you go enjoy Google’s translation of that webpage.)  Some people dream of lounging on the Riviera, I dream of magic squash and vegetarian fine dining, what can I say?

As you might imagine, I promptly cooked my way through the recipes featured along with Mr. Bittman’s column, and this dish was born of one of them.  It’s been a regular feature at our table ever since, and when I make risotto I always hope for leftovers to roll up in chard leaves later in the week.  (Of course you can follow the original recipe and make a risotto just for this dish–the lemony risotto in the recipe is quite nice–but that’s a bit ambitious for me these days.)  The Leek and Green Garlic Risotto from the other night was perfect.

There’s also a buried treasure in there: a gooey, rich strand of mozzarella cheese that reveals itself as you dig into each austere-looking package.  You could omit this if you’re using a risotto that’s already as decadent as the Leek and Green Garlic Risotto–but why?

Continue reading Risotto-Stuffed Chard Leaves (click for recipe)

Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Tomatoes, and Olives

When I first meet J, in college, I was wowed by his prowess in the kitchen.  He had two specialties: one was a fried egg sandwich, and the other a box of Spanish rice to which he added a can of black beans and shredded cheddar cheese.  He made it look so easy.  I was smitten.

Later our shared cooking repertoire expanded quite significantly, but J remains a man with a specialty.  These days it’s a perfectly grilled side of salmon or an impeccable vinaigrette, but for a few years (about a decade ago) J’s claim to fame in the kitchen was pasta puttanesca.  He’d whip up a pan on nights when we both worked late and were too tired to deal with the CSA vegetables or walk three blocks to the nearest restaurant.

We were pleasantly reminded of those pasta puttanesca days tonight with this dish from the NY Times Recipes for Health series.  The genius improvement, though, is that this recipe incorporates another family favorite: roasted cauliflower.  We used whole wheat pasta because we’re crunchy like that (and it was great), but you do what you like.

Continue reading Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Tomatoes, and Olives (click for recipe)

Poached Scrambled Eggs, or, The 40-Second Breakfast

And here is where I abandon all pretense of not making scrambled eggs.  (For those of you too lazy to click, let me just share that this blog started as an attempt to motivate myself to cook something besides scrambled eggs for dinner all the time.)  I made these for breakfast, but you?  You who have made no promises about making scrambled eggs for dinner could certainly get away with serving these as a light supper, maybe drizzled with a nice olive oil and sprinkle of herbs, alongside a crisp salad.

Sometimes you just need something simple.  This is simple.  Perfectly textured scrambled eggs, no added fat, negligible clean-up, 20 seconds of egg-whisking plus 20 seconds of cooking.  Courtesy of that Genius Recipes feature I love from Food52.

Continue reading Poached Scrambled Eggs (click for recipe)