Food for the week: 2 recipes

Thu Apr 7, 2011 at 3:21 pm in Food & Cooking | 4 Comments

In my usual entire-week-cooking-style, I made the CPK split pea and barley soup plus two other recipes I came up with. I guess I was feeling inventive! One of them, Cuban Black Bean Soup with Salsa and Cumin Rice, was a product of necessity, because I was cooking for a surprise dinner guest. It was a spicy dish so it was awesome that she was impervious to spicy food. The other one, Cheesy Mushroom Chard Bake, is not necessarily an exciting meal, but it’s healthy and tasty, and so I’m posting it because I find casseroles awfully handy for healthy whole-week cooking.

Cuban Black Bean Soup

The two recipes I’m posting today are from my usual repertoire – meaning I grew up in the ‘burbs of a southern state near Mexico. I am, however, in the process of expanding my comfort zone to food from Morocco/North Africa, Persia and India. For example, I totally screwed up a chickpea recipe the other day!

The spice combinations and cooking styles tend to be similar from those areas – lots of stews with flatbread, the tendency to start a dish by making a chaunk or tadka for example, with whole spices and oil/ghee. Lots of dill, coriander, fennel, and other fun stuff. I have new cookbooks, and I’ve been reading Manjula’s Kitchen (took me a while to know what ingredients she was talking about more than 25% of the time!). It’s funny though, I think that cooking Mexican food is similar, being another flat-bread-and-stew type cuisine, a few different spice combinations change food so much!

Recipes after break …
Continue reading Food for the week: 2 recipes…

The philosophy of not burning out

Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 9:49 pm in Food & Cooking | 2 Comments

SunsetThis past Sunday I did what I do many weeks, which is spend three hours cooking and then go out to dinner. It’s true! I have a general rule in my life that I don’t cook when exhausted. It takes all the fun away from cooking.

That’s why I generally cook in bulk on the weekend. When I tiredly drag myself in at 6:15 pm after a long day of work, all I have to do is pop a home-cooked meal in the oven or microwave. Plus it makes time so I can to sew or crochet in the evening, and stare at the beautiful Pacific sunsets I can see outside my living room window.

The thing is, though, the food I make is for the week only, lest we run out prematurely, so on Sundays after I take off my apron I go out to eat . It works for me, and I don’t get burned out!

This week, I ended up making these recipes, enough for 10+ meals for two.

  • Roasted Tomato & Carrot Soup: This tasted okay, but I consider it a dud. I’ll probably make up my own recipe. I was suspicious that it didn’t want the tomato skins removed (bad plan), plus I had to adjust the cooking time and temp for roasting the veggies so they wouldn’t burn. I also thought it wasn’t … well, savory enough, and the amount of basil called for was way insufficient.  Not bad, but I demand more of my food. Rating: meh.
  • Chipotle Grilled Cheese: A favorite recipe of ours, this mixes our favorite miso mayo with chopped chipotles in adobo atop slices of sharp cheddar and avocado. We like them best with tomato or tortilla soup. I prepare the ingredients beforehand so all I have to do is slap ‘em on the griddle.Rating: spicily superlative.
  • Veggie Pot Pie:  Pot pie was one of the first 10 recipes I learned when I lived in my first apartment. The recipe is from my trusty first cookbook, Better Homes & Gardens. I love pot pie! In this vegetarian version I made three pies with carrots, celery, peas, broccoli and potatoes in a whole wheat crust with rosemary seasoning. Rating: comfortable.
  • California Pizza Kitchen’s Smashed Pea and Barley Soup: I have discovered that although I don’t like their pizza, I really like CPK’s soup and salads. This pea/barley combo is a real winner, filling and tasty. It’s simple to make with minimal ingredients. I like split pea soup in general, but I think the barley really adds something here. Rating: tasty.

Alongside a salad and bread, this is what I’ve eaten all week (we won’t talk about the chocolate truffles I may have gotten at Sunday’s farmer’s market). You may wonder if these four recipes will get boring, but no. Honestly, the benefit of not having to cook outweighs any boring-ness that might arise.

Question: Is there such a thing as a recipe critic? I mean, there are lots of cooking blogs out there, and lots of restaurant critics, but is there a recipe-food critic? There must be. I think it would be a great job for me. Always trying new recipes and making comments about them? Nice.

P.S. I have just realized two things. #1. I have no pictures for this post because last week I accidentally erased my entire photo library off my computer. I had a heart attack, then realized I had a backup. I did lose 2 weeks of photos, including ones of the pea soup, which were pretty. Ah well.  Live and learn … well, live and remember to back up, anyway.

‘Bye to November

Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 6:18 pm in Fall & Holidays, Food & Cooking, NaBloPoMo | 2 Comments

And so we come to the last day of November, and the last post. I will probably not get one of the prizes given out, but I will reward myself by not posting again until I actually have an internet connection at home. Your email inboxes and RSS readers have 11 months to recover before I commence next year’s assault (assuming I do this again next year). I have earned the right to add another one of these to some place on my blog. I’m not 100% certain I got a sense of satisfaction out of it, perhaps more of a sense of relief at this stage.


Instead of posting for a while, I’m going to work on doing some actual crafting, putting my house together, finally unpacking items that have been packed since October of last year, and moving into my new crafting space as well. This weekend I’m going to join my cousins and go pick out a tree on a farm, and get some Christmas going around here.

Thanksgiving Dinner: By the way, last Friday I did make Thanksgiving dinner (you didn’t think I’d let that pass, did you?). There weren’t any pictures, but I did make seven items:

  • a Field Roast (this is too easy, does this even count?)
  • stuffing with sourdough, apples, caramelized onions, chopped walnuts and fried sage (fried sage is totally gratuitous, but yummy)
  • mashed taters with roasted garlic
  • butternut squash risotto
  • green bean casserole with homemade sweet & wild mushroom soup
  • cranberry-orange-ginger chutney (a 1/4 cup of ginger = very spicy!)
  • Alton Brown’s pumpkin yogurt pie (my very favoritest pie)

Sweet & Wild Green Bean Casserole: Most of these items are things I consider easy, and are on my usual round of dinner fixins. The one that isn’t usual is the green bean casserole. I love this stuff, but a few years ago I got tired of it being the Same Old Too Salty Boring Thing. I tried using garlic mushroom soup, but last year I finally realized I should just start making it from scratch – fresh beans, fresh mushrooms, my own fried onions. Last year I used the Emerilized Green Bean Casserole and Alton Brown’s baked onions. This year I made my own recipe, and since my brother was there for dinner so I made the cream of mushroom soup with almond milk instead. MUCH simpler than Emeril’s version, and tasty!

  1. Saute wild mushroom mix in butter (my holiday treat to myself) and a dash or so or balsamic vinegar.
  2. The real trick:  I used a technique of steeping the milk with spices/herbs. I chose whole nutmeg, a cinnamon stick, caraway seeds, whole allspice and whole peppercorns. Let it simmer at a very low temperature for a while (15 minutes or so? I wasn’t timing it) and then strain it to remove the spices. After a while you stir in your flour after making a slurry with a bit of the milk and bring to a boil to thicken.
  3. Mix the mushrooms into the thickened cream base.
  4. Mix the soup in with fresh green beans and homemade fried onions. Or French’s onions. I’d be happy either way.

The taste is different, almost sweet, and it was lovely!

Oh, and cooking in my new kitchen. WONDERFUL. I LOVE IT. SEVEN DISHES NO PROBLEM. Three things baking at a time! After such a long time of having no counter space and cramped spaces, it’s just heavenly. Then when I was done, there was a dishwasher (not me!). Ah well. After my year of crazy tiny kitchens, I’m now a dab hand at cooking in awkward situations while camping, I’ll tell you that.

Thanks, and toodles: I’m going to go be one with my new apartment and ‘hood now. Thank you to everyone who came by for reading my silliness all through this November. You’re all lovely, even if most of you don’t stop by to say hello in the comments. Which you should.