Category Archives: Cooking

“Stuff” to do with your Field Goods

 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:

twitter

 

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.
caps

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…

Leftovers lunch!

Leftovers lunch!

* the shallots and onions were both from previous weeks’ deliveries.

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Bon Appetit and me

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.

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.

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.

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Last Run and a good run

This past weekend may have been close to perfect.  One of my favorite girls arrived prior to the snow and we settled in to an afternoon of satisfying household tasks.  There was cooking, roasting and baking.  A tree was agreed upon and chopped down, by me. Later, it was beautifully decorated, not by me.  I call that a win-win situation.

With our bellies full of delicious chili and layers of spandex and Lycra firmly in place, we ventured downtown to the starting line for Albany’s 2013 Last Run. Being smart and all, we stashed some clothes at the Wine Bar for a post-race nosh.  We are not amateurs, my friend.
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I’ve done this race three years in a row and I have to tell you – it is the most fun race I do each year.  The fireworks, the costumes, the crowd, the lights – it is consistently a blast.  This year, despite the weather conditions (pretty damn cold with face freezing precipitation) I had the most fun ever, probably a combination of the perfect running friends and an entire day devoted to holiday tasks and festivities. Joy to the world, for sure!
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We followed our exertions with a fantastic dinner at the Wine Bar.  You might think that I praise the food at the Wine Bar with such frequency because I work there, but you’d be wrong.  The reality, though, is I work there because the food is so damn good. Truth.  My meal, from the grilled Caesar salad to the phenomenal pork shoulder to the epic wedge of cheesecake from Cheesecake Machismo was flawless.  Perfect.
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There was another Lilly enjoying her weekend’s activities and menu, Cassidy Bono.  She feasted on sirloin steak, ground beef, sardines and chicken breast, punctuated with plenty of biscuits.  There were lots of cuddles, along with belly rubs, and what turned out to be our last weekend together will always be a time which I will treasure.
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We both had a good run.

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Filed under aging, Albany, Christmas, Cooking, Dinner, Events, favorites, Food, friends, Lark Street, Local, running, snow, winter

Beans & Greens, uncountable variation

DSC_0008If 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 can of chicken broth
  • 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.

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Where’s the (better) beef?

Can we take a brief turkey time-out and talk about beef instead?  Here’s the deal – the boys and I have developed a routine when it comes to meals – Tuesday nights are generally simple, Thursdays seem to have evolved into cleaning out the fridge leftover smorgasbords, Fridays are take-out (or worse) and Saturdays we eat something kind of pricey special.  The past two Saturdays, we’ve  had beef, tenderloin one week, brisket the other.  Let me share some details.

Week one, I stopped at the Slingerlands Shop Rite and cruised their meat aisles.  There’s something about their displays or the lighting that makes everything look really good to me and the whole tenderloins caught my eye.  I initially didn’t realize that the price on the package didn’t reflect the sale price of $4.99 a pound.  Once I did the math, I decided to grab one and have it sliced into 1″ filets.

All sliced and pretty

All sliced and pretty

I paid around $18 for this package and ended up tossing three uncooked steaks into the freezer for another night.  To prepare the steaks, I brought the beef up to room temperature by letting it rest on the counter for about an hour prior to seasoning it with salt and pepper and throwing it on a hot gas grill.  I grilled it for about 10 minutes total time, flipping once.  I also built 10 minutes into the dinner plan to let the beef rest, post-grilling.  Here’s what we brought to the table.

A plate of meaty goodness.

A plate of meaty goodness.

We were very pleased with meal – the beef was super tender and delicious. Well worth the price I paid, beyond a doubt.  Week two, I went with a different cut of beef (brisket) and a different grocery chain – Price Chopper.  I want to make it clear that I know very little about beef – what part of the cow it comes from and whatnot.  I liken my beef knowledge to my wine knowledge – if I like it, it’s good.  For the record, I’m a fan of brisket and I’ve prepared it a number of times.  After picking up a 3.5 lb. brisket (on sale for $5.99 a lb, I think) from the Slingerlands’ Chopper, I went with an uber simple recipe.  I love slow cooking dinner in the oven all afternoon while I’m off doing other things and my house smelled amazing.

Brisket, seasoned and topped with onions

Brisket, seasoned and topped with onions

The cooking liquid composed of beer, brown sugar and chilli sauce

The cooking liquid composed of beer, brown sugar and chilli sauce

The finished product

The finished product

Like I said, I’ve made brisket before and I don’t know jack about meat.  That being said…I was a bit disappointed.  I don’t know if the butcher trimmed too much fat off, but it was kind of dry and not as flavorful as I expected.  Considering this meal cost more ($21) than the tenderloin, I’d be more inclined to buy “splurge-y” cuts of meat at Shop Rite than Price Chopper.  In a perfect world, I’d get my butt to Falvo’s, but, perhaps  you’ve noticed we don’t live in a perfect world.

Obviously, this is only a single comparison, but I’m wondering what your experience has been.  Where are you spending your meat money??

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Duck, duck, soup

We like lots of noodles in our soup!

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.

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Filed under Albany, Boys, Cooking, Eating, Local, Recipes, Recommendations, Restaurants, soup

October recap – Moms@Work

image:timesunion.com

image:timesunion.com

I can’t believe another month has flown by!  Here’s some of what I’ve been up to over at the timesunion.com.

First, there was the politics of pasta.

Then, I fell in love!

Alas, my ship sailed.

I put some pieces together.

And recognized that I couldn’t always do it myself.

But, I can drive a standard shift.  Lefthanded, too.

Which is a good thing because sometimes, I want to get away from my picky-eating children.

It wasn’t my knickers that got bunched up – it was my breasts which got squeezed!

Soccer season wrapped up leaving  lessons on the field that should last a lifetime.

We got more treats than tricks.

 

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