My youngest son goes to a magnet elementary school in our neighborhood. The latter fact is more the reason he attends that particular school than the arts and humanities centered curriculum, but we do enjoy many of the activities based upon the school’s theme.
This week the school community’s marked their Third Annual Multicultural Celebration. My son came home very excitedly to share that his class would be representing France. After a visit from a French college student, he was obsessed by the thought of making crepes as our contribution to the event. The sound of his voice repeatedly saying “crepe” in an attempted French accent, convinced me that this was an idee fixe that deserved to be indulged.
tedious remarkable number of suggestions from my 9 y/o with regards to how to make crepes (the batter must be made the night before cooking, beer is a necessary ingredient…), I located a reasonably simple recipe on Epicurious. Late Wednesday night, after closing the Wine Bar, I stirred up a triple batch of the recipe and went to sleep with a clear plan – and conscience.
After school, I hit up the store for a medium sized jar of Nutella and, upon arriving home, immediately got busy heating up two nonstick sauté pans. I brushed the hot pans with melted butter and got into the rhythm of working two pans, while also peeling and chopping a few apples to cook with brown sugar and cinnamon for an alternate filling.
The process was satisfyingly quick. In barely an hour, I had approximately 40 filled crepes, divided into two dishes with about twice as many Nutella ones than apple. I dusted the crepes with powdered sugar and we were on our way.
The event (and the crepes) was fantastic. The number of nations represented on the incredibly laden tables was mirrored by the audience in the multifunction room. The smells and flavors were rich in a way completely unrelated to any world currency. It was positively heady. I am so lucky to live in a city where my children have the opportunity to attend school with such a culturally diverse population. C’est magnifique!
Have you ever participated with a CSA? I did one year and found myself more than a little overwhelmed by the array of obscure greens and heritage vegetables. While I enjoyed the challenge of trying to create meals from previously unknown ingredients, I have never been tempted to commit again to the responsibility of having to retrieve my bag of goods from a remote location. Field Goods and their convenient delivery to my school has proven to be the ideal solution for getting fresh, and sometimes frozen, produce into my kitchen and my tummy.
This week’s bag included some beautiful Portobello mushrooms and the timing of this exchange on Twitter could not have been more perfect:
Ding, ding – dinner has been determined!
I started by wiping the mushroom and removing the stems, trimming the ends a bit. Using a combination of olive oil and butter, I sautéed the chopped stems, adding minced shallots* and chopped onion* and basically softening everything up. I had about 2/3 of a cup of leftover couscous and tossed that in as well. Rummaging through the fridge, I also found a few sprigs of (kind of) fresh thyme and minced that up to add to the pan along with about a ½ cup of bread crumbs. I seasoned with salt and pepper to taste and turned the oven on to 350.
I placed the intact caps in a shallow baking dish and drizzled them with a little olive oil and put them in the oven to soften up a bit. After about 10 minutes, I filled the caps, generously piling the stuffing on. I had some kind of crappy parmesan cheese in the cheese drawer and grated it over the mushrooms and covered the baking dish with foil. I heated everything through (maybe 7 or 8 minutes) and then uncovered my tasty meatless dinner.
Delicious and satisfying! I will definitely make these again. Maybe, once Lent is finally over, I’ll add a little sausage or ground turkey…
* the shallots and onions were both from previous weeks’ deliveries.
Ever have one of those days when you’ve taken something out of the freezer to cook for dinner with an idea that becomes less appealing as the day goes on? Yeah, me, too. Earlier this week I took a pound of 16-20 shrimp and some thinly sliced chicken breasts out to thaw with a plan to make some sort of garlicky scampi with pasta. It sounded like just what I wanted at 6:00 a.m., but as the day progressed I reconsidered. I wanted something with more vegetables and some spice…
I did a quick search on epicurious using shrimp and chicken as my search terms and came up with a super simple recipe for paella that I knew would work, both in terms of ingredients on hand and Lilly boy preferences. In less than 30 minutes, dinner was ready to go in the oven and I was ready for a quick run. Not a bad Tuesday at all.
I started with a chopped onion and a bag of frozen chopped peppers from my Field Goods service. Talk about easy – cut open the bag and toss it into the pan! When the veggies were softened, I removed them from the pan and sautéed the chicken, which I had cut into 1.5-2″ chunks, in the same deep pan. When the chicken was almost cooked through, using a slotted spoon, I removed it and put it aside.
Next, I placed about 3.5 cups of chicken broth (a combination of homemade and boxed) in the same pan and turned the heat up to high. When the broth was almost boiling, I threw in 1.5 cups of arborio rice along with about 1.5 t of smoked paprika. I turned the heat down to medium and stirred the rice every few minutes (while I changed into my running clothes) until it was al dente.
The final step was reincorporating the vegetables and chicken and adding the uncooked shrimp. I removed the pan from the heat, covered it and took off for my five mile loop. After returning home, I placed the covered pan in the oven at 300 degrees to warm through for about 10 minutes. Boom! A fast, tasty dinner which everyone enjoyed. If I had some saffron, I certainly would have used it, but I instead seasoned simply with salt and pepper to taste and spiced up my own portion with a delicious pepper jelly I had picked up in New Orleans.
This “recipe” is incredibly versatile – chorizo, leftover ham or chicken thighs could easily be swapped in for the protein choices I made. The flavor profile could be varied by adding beans and/or some hearty greens or trade the paprika for some fresh thyme or flat leaf parsley. Go crazy – it’s just dinner.
As a wedding gift, nearly a couple of decades ago, I received a subscription to Gourmet magazine. I very much admired the glossy photos and exotic locations featured in the magazine, but found myself discouraged by the recipes. It seemed to me that each one had a minimum of 12 ingredients and involved at least 3 different and necessary purveyors. I didn’t have time that.
I don’t remember how I came to subscribe to Bon Appetit, but suspect there was a niece and a school fundraiser involved. How it started doesn’t really matter, I suppose. The important fact is that I have continued to renew this subscription, even when I get totally annoyed because they repeatedly send me renewal notices for months and months prior to my present subscription expiring.
The latest issue caught me at a perfect time – a midwinter’s week at home with the boys. As I leafed through the magazine the other morning before heading to the grocery store, two recipes caught my eye, the Fauxtisserie Chicken and the Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder. As is generally the case in Bon Appetit, the ingredient list was reasonable and easily obtained. The only item which provided some challenge was the fresh marjoram, a new herb in my repertoire, but one I was willing to invest in since it was present in both recipes.
My chicken after about 2 hours of low roasting.
Friday’s chicken was as tenderly falling apart as promised, yet moist with a surprising spicy kick. The potatoes which had been roasted alongside the bird were tasty, yet a little more firm than I expected. There was a lack of basting juices so I added a few ladles of water about an hour into the three-hour roasting time. Next time, I’ll add a little more.
My 7lb Boston Butt prepped for a looonnng slow roast.
Saturday’s slow roasting pork roast was a seven hour promise of what was to come. My entire house was filled with the fragrance of Dijon mustard, sage, garlic and marjoram – intense and mouth watering. After removing the roast from the oven, I deglazed the pan with a bit of red wine and tossed Friday’s remaining potatoes into pan juices for a quick reheat. The pork was fork shreddable with a delectable skin crowning a layer of fatty deliciousness. It was truly outstanding.
I never claimed to be a Gourmet, but I am all about Bon Appetit.
If you’ve been around here for a while, you know that I love beans and greens. I’ve been known to make it with a variety of different varieties of greens, including broccoli rabe and escarole but generally I go with bacon as my salty, meaty addition. Recently, though, I had a hankering for sausage, which coincided with there being an excess of kale and a new variation was born!
This dinner takes 25 minutes – start to finish, and only requires a handful of ingredients. It’s also one of those recipes which comes from the pantry, the freezer and the produce drawer. You know, a little of this, a little of that, stuff that you probably already have on hand. Here’s what you need:
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 5-6 sausages – your call on sweet or spicy, chicken or pork
- 1 can of canellini beans – rinsed and drained
- 1 generous bunch of kale, coarsely chopped
- Olive oil, salt & pepper, crushed red pepper flakes
Start with a few tablespoons of olive oil and the garlic in a fairly deep pot. Did I mention this is a one-pot meal? As the garlic lightly browns over low heat, slice sausages into rounds and add to the pot, increasing heat to medium. Another option would be to use loose sausage or remove the casings, breaking sausage up with a wooden spoon as it browns.
When sausage is still a little pink, or slightly undercooked, toss in the kale and chicken broth. Cover and cook until the kale wilts a bit and gets tender. Throw in the beans, heat through, season and enjoy.
We like lots of noodles in our soup!
Recently, the boys and I had a hankering for Chinese food. We were looking for takeout, which eliminated our usual spot, Emperor’s Palace, but I remembered Steve Barnes doing a review a couple of months ago for a spot on Central Avenue. After a quick check on their menu and confirmation that they offered Peking Duck, I placed an order. You remember how the Lilly boys like their Peking Duck, don’t you? It’s kind of their go-to dish when ordering Chinese and at this point, they’ve sampled it in 4 states in 3 countries, which is pretty cool if you ask me. Despite all that experience, what we got from the new incarnation of Ocean Palace was a first…
When I arrived to pick up our meal, things weren’t quite ready. As I waited for our order to be complete, I was asked a question I had never before been asked – “Would you like the bones from the duck?” Hell, yes, I would! I’m all about making stock and I immediately knew exactly what I would do with the carcass from our bird – duck noodle soup! I tossed the bones in a pot and covered them with water and set them on a low temperature on the stove. I usually put onions and carrots in my stock, but for this, I really wanted to extract as much pure duck flavor as possible, so I left it unadulterated. After about 14 hours, I strained the stock and refrigerated it for another day.
On soup day I heated up the stock which, surprisingly enough, had very little visible fat and got busy slicing and chopping vegetables. My veggie share this week contained some gorgeous shiitaki mushrooms and baby bok choy which were the perfect additions to my soup, along with a package of rice noodles. I seasoned with soy sauce and, when my son demanded meat for the soup (as if the love I put in wasn’t enough?!) , I stir fried some thin slices of beef in sesame oil to add to the pot. I was a little nervous about how my half-assed version of hot-pot would be received, but the guys went gangbusters on it and I was rewarded for my efforts with a “it’s not bad, Mom” as they slurped it up. Success!
As for the rest of the original meal, the food was terrific. Looks like we have a new takeout spot.
I’ve got a question for you – what do you do with your shrimp shells? Please don’t tell me you toss them in the trash because that would make me sad. You know that tossing the uncooked shells into the freezer could eventually give you something gorgeous like this, right?Since it is so simple, and basically free, why don’t you promise to begin saving those shells beginning with your next shrimp-centric meal? After peeling your uncooked shrimp place shells (and heads, if available) into a zip top bag and throw in freezer. Once you have a decent amount – think enough to fill a stock pot 2/3 or so, remove from freezer and place in a roasting pan with a little oil and cook at about 400 degrees for maybe 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Remove shells from oven and place in a stock pot with whatever random vegetable peelings/herbs you have on hand and cover with water.
Cook on low to medium for a couple of hours, stirring occasionally. Strain and use in soups, risottos and pasta dishes as desired. Believe me, you will never throw these babies away again. Nothing shrimpy about it.