Tag Archives: food

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)

Single-Serving Frittata with Mushrooms, Arugula, and Feta

I am not a morning person.

On weekdays I often scramble downstairs just as J is walking out the door.  He and the girls have been up and dressed for an hour, breakfast is over, art projects are often underway.  I burst onto the scene and immediately start searching for three tiny pairs of shoes and three even tinier pairs of socks so I can herd the kids straight out the door to get my oldest to kindergarten.  Which starts at almost 9.  This should not be a hardship.  (In my defense, my baby has been waking up all night long lately, and so have I.  But, honestly, I’d be sleeping until the last possible second no matter what.)

I am pleased to see to my family’s sweet faces in the morning, of course, but you know what else I’m always happy to see?  COFFEE.  J, inexplicably, does not drink coffee.  Which is either virtuous or insane.  But he does make it for me, a perfect French press pot of dark roast beans, ready to plunge the moment I get downstairs.  It is an act of love.

So maybe now you’re thinking that this should be a coffee recipe, but I only have one and it only involves glossy, dark-roasted coffee beans and hot water, plus maybe a pinch of cinnamon or cardamom in the grounds–try that!  Instead, my point here is that sometime it is rather late in the day before I get around to breakfast. 

A single-serving frittata is a great way to get your vegetables in at breakfast.  You can also make a big batch in muffin tins to grab on your way out the door all week, have you tried that?  I am usually not that organized, so today I made mine in my 8″ cast iron skillet.  You can use any small ovenproof skillet, or even one that’s not ovenproof, since a frittata this small is easy to flip and finish on the stovetop.

The key here, as far as I’m concerned, is to load up on the vegetables, using the egg to just hold it all together.  And since I actually used egg whites this time instead of whole eggs (the yolks went into the crust for mini Strawberry-Rhubarb cornmeal tarts), I made sure that all my ingredients were extra-flavorful and well-seasoned.  Egg whites are a great source of protein, but flavor?  Not so much.  Enter savory mushrooms, peppery arugula, and salty feta–now we’re talking. 

Continue reading Frittata with Mushrooms, Arugula, and Feta (click for recipe)

Baked Chard Stems with Tomato, Garlic, and Parmesan

I find particular satisfaction in making something from not-so-much.  I save my Parmesan rinds to add depth of flavor to lentil soups.  I save my vegetable trimmings make homemade broth.  And when I made those risotto-filled chard rolls, I saved the chard stems to make this dish.

I often cook chard stems right along with their leaves, chopping them into confetti and sauteing them with onions and garlic before adding the glistening green leaves to my pan.  And I sometimes chop the stems up for my stock-trimmings bag in the freezer if I only have a few of them.  But chard stems are a delicious vegetable on their own, with a sweeter flavor than the leaves and a bit of crunch or chew, depending on how long you cook them.

This recipe is a longstanding family favorite.  It comes from Jack Bishop’s A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen, which I once checked out of the library.  (I love getting cookbooks from the library.)  I sauce things up by increasing the tomato and often serving a poached egg on top, but you can do what you like.  I also usually serve the sauteed chard leaves alongside if I didn’t already use them up to make chard rolls.

This is one of those nice dishes where the end product seems to be more than the sum of its parts. We are about equally likely to make it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Which will you do?

Continue reading Baked Chard Stems with Tomato, Garlic, and Parmesan (click for recipe)

Radish Butter with Oregano and Dill

I love radishes with butter and salt, so you can imagine that I was tickled by the idea of a salty radish butter.  Why didn’t I think of that?  Luckily, the folks over at Grow It Cook It Can It did.

Learn from my mistake and proceed as follows: use a good knife or a food processor to blitz your radishes into bits.  Then stir in the remaining ingredients by hand.  Adding everything to the food processor and pulsing again left me with watery radish mush instead of tiny radish crunches suspended in creamy, salty, herby radish butter.  We spread ours on homemade bread.

Continue reading Radish Butter (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)

Indian-Spiced Kale and Paneer, or, Not Quite Saag Paneer

I got The Best Present Ever for Mothers Day this year.  And that is saying a lot, because I was just showered with gifts this year.  The girls’ handmade gifts and cards were almost as sweet as the big proud smiles on their faces when they gave them to me, of course, but J took the cake with one of his gifts.

He organized my spice collection.

Hopefully you feel the full effect of that sentence as I do: you should be bathed in light and joy as the heavens part and you hear the angels sing Alleluia.  Are you with me?

This is a big deal.  Once upon a time, I had a few rows of spice jars tidily tucked into a spice rack.  Later, the jars began to multiply and J put up shelves to hold more of them.  But in recent years the spices had completely outgrown that expanded solution and they began to pile up in tiny bags, then handfuls of tiny bags stuffed into bigger bags, then finally gallon jars full of big and little bags that all were starting to smell like curry powder or cardamom.  It was not a particularly efficient system.

So it was with adoration that I approached my spice rack (it’s really more of a spice wall now) today when I decided to make this dish.  Everything was in its place, alphabetically arranged–except for my assortment of chiles, which take up a shelf of their own.  Bay, cardamom, cinnamon.  Check, check, check.  Cloves, coriander, cumin, right on down the line.  It’s so easy when things are where they are supposed to be!

But, ok, let me get to the part you’re here for.  This is the best Indian food that has ever come out of my kitchen.  Ever.  The recipe is adapted from Kolpona Cuisine, along with a plea to use the whole spices called for despite the mild inconvenience of having to fish them out later.  I don’t know if that is the whole secret here, but the dish was amazing and J marveled aloud, a few times, that it was the best Saag Paneer he’d ever eaten.  (This version was kale paneer, to be precise, inspired by CoolCookStyle, but you can click right here for the original recipe using frozen spinach.)

Indian-Spiced Kale and Paneer (click for recipe)

Leek and Green Garlic Risotto

With the benefit of hindsight, I can confidently tell you that this is not really the kind of dish that you whip up quickly on a weeknight. In fact, if you don’t turn your attention to dinner until eight p.m., you may be eating close to ten, which is fine if you’re in Madrid but rather late in our household.

Plan this meal for a weekend, then, after you’ve been to the farmers market in the morning and loaded up on springy leeks and green garlic. This risotto is rich and delicate at once, and perfect on its own, but by ten o’clock we were so hungry that we felt the need to gild the lily with a fried egg. You know how I like to do that.

Why did a simple risotto take me so long, you might ask? Well, the only kind of broth I like better than my frozen homemade broth is one custom-made on the spot, extracting every last drop of flavor from the trimmings of the vegetables to be used in the dish. Tonight I started by making a simple stock with the leek tops, garlic tops, and parsley stems that weren’t going into the risotto. I added a bay leaf, a few sprigs of thyme, 2 scant tsp. kosher salt, and covered it all with 2 qts. water. It simmered on the back burner while I chopped my vegetables, then I strained it straight from the stock pot into my risotto as it cooked. So that took a few extra minutes.

And then there was the chopping of three enormous leeks and seven little heads of green garlic (the kind where the cloves haven’t formed yet and you just peel off one papery outer layer). And the stopping to inhale their lovely fragrance. And I put the baby back to bed a few times in the middle. So, you know. You’ll be much faster than me. Because once your stock is made and your alliums are chopped, making this risotto is a breeze.

Continue reading Leek and Green Garlic Risotto (click for recipe)