Tag Archives: homemade

REPLICATION, REPETITION

[Spicy black beans, rice, roasted potatoes, cilantro and avocado tacos]

[Braised chicken thighs and red onions with chipotle chiles in adobo with more avocado & minced parsley... tacos]

[Roasted broccoli burrito with leftover shredded chicken, sharp cheddar and leftover tomatillo salsa with spicy coriander and tumeric rice]

Over Memorial Day weekend I went to a totally insane BBQ where I had the best tacos (really) of my life. The marinated carne asada was so tender and sliced so thin it that had the texture of cotton candy. I ate mine with homemade super spicy tomatillo salsa and avocado wedges on grilled corn tortillas. There were also soft, caramelized onions and grilled, fibrous cactus and hot chorizo and gigantic pork ribs that we ate with our fingers and it was just perfect.

I brought boneless, skinless chicken thighs that I had marinating all afternoon in fresh orange pulp, hot sauce, brown sugar, vinegar and olive oil. They were good, but easily schooled by the Cornish game hens that were slathered with chili paste. I don’t even know why I even bother trying. Anyway, my taco looked like this:

The contents of which came off of this lucky grill:

I picked up a lot of killer tricks, watching these guys grill. For example, hot sauce is really good on watermelon wedges. For another, the chorizo sizzled on a baking sheet, so that the juices gathered in the crevices of the pan, and then the corn tortillas were dipped in the bright red pork juices before hitting the grill so that they were essentially frying in fat, getting super crispy and outrageously tasty. Onions were grilled whole until they turned black, skins and all. When they were sliced in half, the insides had turned into this gorgeous onion paste, sweet and soft and spreadable.

So many new techniques to adopt and reframe. Everything I’ve done since then has been a semi-homage to that afternoon, trying to recreate what I ate, as shown by my lame taco-attempts of the first four photos.

FOUR EASY PIECES

10 minute lunch, 4 ingredients. 2 farmer’s market tomatoes, 1 shallot and 2 cloves garlic are cooked down at high heat for 5 minutes. Finished with parsley, salt and pepper and really fruity olive oil, this weirdly tasted more like salsa than a fresh pasta sauce. Oh well. It was still the perfect bowl of summertime lunch, and disappeared into my gullet in less time than it took to make it.

SCENIC RECOVERY

I had a nice long stretch of a morning earlier this week so I started soaking 6 cups of chickpeas around 8am and sat around until they were ready. One of the small pleasures in life: watching dried beans plump up in a pot of water for 5 hours.

At lunch, I simmered them for a hour or two with a mess of spices including tumeric, cumin, coriander, hot curry powder, smoked paprika and the juice of a few limes. I cooked the broth down until it completely evaporated and then I added butter. Best chickpea of my life.

The next day I made roast chicken – again! Even better the second time, friends. I roasted the leftover chickpeas in a 425 degree oven until they got golden, crispy and crunchy, like little crackers. Served with roasted diced beets and walnuts.

The Lunar New Year – aka Chinese New Year - is in three days. I am SO EXCITED! Expect lots of photo documentation. Tonight, we celebrate early with hot pot with friends. The last time I had hot pot, the food coma lasted approximately 2 weeks. Hopefully I remember to take photos tonight!

GLASS MENAGERIE FANTASIES

In my typical adherence of refusing to use recipes for most everything, in my bastardized version of cioppino, braised white fish, cannellini beans soaked overnight, red peppers, tomatoes and cilantro come together over rigatoni. I know this sounds crazy but it was my first time ever using San Marzano canned tomatoes. And WOW they are expensive but worth it.

NOTHING IS IRREVERSIBLE

Breakfasts & lunches. Being home means: blueberries, palmiers, crab fried rice, tangerine nectar and three blood oranges every day. Not so much cooking as assembly.

WHEN THE RAIN COMES WE WILL BE THANKFUL

I made black bean soup from scratch the other day. I soaked organic black beans overnight and simmered them the next evening for hours, with fresh bay, tomatoes, water, onion, limes, cherry tomatoes and cumin. It was the best black bean soup I’ve ever had, and so simple to make.

Kept lunch simple with falafel, romaine and shredded chicken. My friends always like to point out that my nails are in a perpetual state of chipped-ness. I guess they were right.

Leftover beans went into tacos the next night, alongside roasted vegetables and a weird slaw that I made from these bitter greens we bought on a whim at the Farmer’s Market.  I wish I had asked what they were. They were sort of spindly, kind of pointy, almost sharp, and very bitter, but when dressed with a little lime and oil, super tasty.

I roasted bundles of red carrots from the farmer’s market with one potato, and made guacamole, too. The vegetables went in a hot 400 degree oven and I added 1 cup of broth from the black bean soup halfway through. They absorb all the liquid and cook perfectly. I can’t get over all this affordable citrus in January. It just doesn’t feel right! But I’m not complaining.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89Kz8Nxb-Bg]

A LOVE SUPREME

Leftovers for lunch today, but in this case, a bowl of a soup that only gets better one day later. White bean and chicken soup with carrots, spinach, red onion, rosemary from the garden and tomatoes, that simmered on the stove for a couple of hours and tasted how this house feels. 

Maybe overdid with the cilantro, but I feel no remorse. Zip, nada.

Like my yellow slippers? From a hotel in Singapore. I don’t get out much anymore.

And, La Jolla’s answer to Ithaca’s Gimme! Coffee: Pannikin Coffee & Tea, where I whiled away endless hours in middle and high school, due in large part to their cupcake selection (yellow cake with chocolate frosting, always), outdoor seating and giant chess board. Sooo high school.

GOODBYE, SUMMER. CORN, AND BEANS.

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i’ve finally come to terms with the fact that summer is basically over. i wake up, and the air is cold and i instinctively want to huddle under my warm comforter for as long as possible. joni sidles up right next to me – under the covers and everything – and we spoon for a few blissful moments before i wake up fully and start my day. the air is sharp and clear and already has a scent of the fall harvest upon it. there’s less and less melon, berries and leafy greens at the farmers and more late summer squash and tomatoes. at a recent market i picked up a few fat ears of corn at 25 cents apiece and a quart of supple wax beans.

green bean, sweet corn and shallot saute with lemon

  • 1 quart green beans, ends picked clean and rinsed
  • 2 ears corn, shucked and sliced up
  • 2 small-ish shallots, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup israeli couscous
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • copious salt and pepper

parboil beans in salted water for 2 minutes. set in ice bath and set aside.

heat up skillet with equal amounts olive oil and butter (about 1 tbsp ea). fry shallots, 4-5 minutes. add beans, stir. 3-4 minutes. add garlic and corn to heat through.

squeeze juice of one lemon atop the glorious tangle of vegetables and stir. the corn will likely give off liquid, as will the shallots, creating a wonderful slurry of citric acid, sweet corn sugars and the warm b bite of the shallots.

add pinch red pepper flakes and salt and pepper, to taste. cook couscous according to package directions. eat with warm and crusty farmer’s market bread and some good local cheese. preferrably a sharp cheddar.

that’s it. so easy it’s stupid. obviously, the fresher and better the ingredients, the more effective this dish becomes. you can tweak it a million ways — i love doing a slow braise with beans using roma tomatoes, garlic and white wine. i love this corn/shallot combination in brothy soups with kale. you could sub out any of these vegetables for whatever is in season. add goat cheese for decadence, nuts for texture. plop a piece of roasted salmon on top of the whole mess, or fold in some shredded chicken or a can of navy beans. cilantro would have been amazing here, or using orange zest to finish it off. you get the idea.

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NOM NOM NOM LENTILS NOM

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i’ve been traveling so much lately there’s been very little time for homecooking. or if i make an effort, it’s something super fast like a chopped salad, glass noodles, or pan-fried fish.

i was forced to slow down last week when i caught a nasty cold. i felt inspired to make a gigantic pot of lentil soup, based around a lovely bag of organic french lentils purchased from friends at ludgate farms. usually i prefer my lentils in dal form, with tumeric and nutmeg, and over rice.

but a few hours later, my kitchen smelled fantastic. and a few minutes after that, my stomach felt wonderful and i felt a million times better. therapeutic soup, this is! it was incredibly delicious, filling, healthy and restorative. much more substantial than your traditional chicken noodle, but probably even healthier, what with all the crazy legume action.

i know this soup doesn’t look like much – but trust me, this is an annual winter dinner standby. easy to make if you have the time. i had it for lunch every day in the next 3 days and it just gets better as the hours tick on.

i used:

  • 2 cups french (brown) lentils (they’ll hold their shape better)
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth + water to add in case
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 3 carrots, roughly diced
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 ear of fresh corn, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced finely
  • 1 heaping tbsp each of cumin, smoked paprika, herbs de provence, oregano
  • 22oz diced red tomatoes
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 3 sage leaves
  • salt and pepper

and that’s it! next time, i might use less lentils. this made so much i had to keep adding water so it didn’t turn into dal or whatever.

saute onion, carrots and spices in a crock pot with equal amounts butter and olive oil (i used about 1 tbsp of each) until soft. about 10 mins.

add two cups of lentils (picked over for stones, and rinsed) and stir. add garlic and stir. add can of tomatoes. stir. bring to a rolling boil.

add juice of half lemon, then throw in rind. add bay leaves, stir. add 4 cups chicken broth and cover.

the lentils will take anywhere between 30-45 minutes to cook, depending on the heat and your preference. i like mine to give ever so slightly, and still feel firm. this took about 40 minutes. i lost a lot of liquid in the cooking process, and probably added 2 more cups of water to the pot overall.

add in chopped broccoli florets and simmer for about 20-25 mins.

at the end, throw in the corn and heat through. squeeze juice of other lemon in, and stir.

serve with toasted, crusty bread. i had a leftover baguette end and it was perfect.

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pretty as ever

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hmmm. how could i forget to post about such a wonderful meal i cooked up the other evening? with perfect company and ice cold bottles of red stripe, it was the kind of abundance that can only be discovered in the summertime.

a gigantic side of salmon from alaska was treated with a dry tea rub, made mostly with oolong and offset with chinese five spice, ground chipotles, ginger, garlic and chili pepper. we coated the salmon with the dry rub and set it on a bbq – the salmon was wrapped in foil – for about 20 minutes on low heat, no flipping required.

the flavor of this salmon is phenomenal, with a fierce spice that creeps up and lingers at the root of your tongue, as dry and hot as the desert, with undertones of aromatic teas and spices. the salmon was wondefully rich and decadent and fatty, with much-needed citrus tang from plenty of fresh lemon wedges i scattered around the table.

everything else was fairly straightforward; now that i think about it, the entire meal was decidedly low-fuss. the salad was pulled straight from the garden, the lettuce, that is, and mixed with farmers market strawberries, toasted walnuts, and freshly grated parmesan. i whisked up a dressing with the juice and zest of a lemon, good olive oil, more parmesan and plenty of cracked black pepper, for a vinaigrette that was sharp but not overly so. i personally the think that the salad was the most addictive plate of the meal – i kept sneaking handfuls of the stuff with my bare fingers!

and finally, whole wheat rigatoni boiled to the perfect al dente,  and slathered with the freshest pesto you can imagine – bales of basil, direct from the backyard.

a perfect summer evening, augmented with lively conversation, slow country waltzes & a persistent summer breeze. xo

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