April 23, 2013 § 10 Comments
This is about as typical of a weeknight supper as you get in our house. Roasted fish plus roasted veggies. Bam! Done! Thank you very much. Of course, the ways you can change this up are infinite with different spice rubs or sauces, different types of fish or veggies. We eat salmon most often, caught by our friend Dave who fishes commercially in Alaska. But, this time I had some cod.
I roasted it very simply, but then fancied it up by adding a pistachio and herb pesto – which was nothing but my way of saving the wilting ends of a couple bunches of herbs and the remnants of a bag of pistachios. Roasting a lemon or two with the carrots not only lends flavor to the carrots, but it also emboldens and rounds out the juices of the lemon. The arugula I tossed in at the last minute, to lightly wilt it. Easy peasy lemon squeezey (literally in this case, ha!).
Vær så god!
April 10, 2013 § 23 Comments
I have been having an absolute love affair with raw fennel lately. Every night and/or every time I’m at the market my little conversation with myself goes, “what kind of vegetable should we have with dinner? Broccoli? Nah. Cabbage? Not today. Kale? Meh. Ooh, how about a salad with shaved fennel. Oh, yes that sounds perfect.” And it keeps happening. Over and over. So what if I just ate a whole bulb? More fennel please.
It could just be one of my recent cravings. Or perhaps it’s because it’s the closest we’re getting to spring here right now. Still. (Not talking about the weather. I’m not talking about the weather. I’ll just put on another sweater, and not mention the weather.) But, on the whole, I’d say the jag started with this salad.
Fennel salad with burrata? Sign me up, and then give me seconds! Anything that includes buratta tends to be my dream meal. But, the fennel, with its sleek coat of lemon and olive oil and the icy cool of mint leaves was no second fiddle to the burrata’s main act (or what I thought would be the main act, before I sat down to eat).
And, that, in sum, is why I can’t stop eating fennel. I mean, a) I get to use my mandoline, which is always an exciting process because you flirt with losing your fingertips but then get parchment thin delicate sheets of fennel, all in a noodle-like tangle, out of the deal. And then, b) the 15 minute waiting period where the fennel bathes in a lemony dressing ever so slightly softens its crunch and freshens its flavor with the brightness of the lemon – both in juice and zest form – bolstering the anise notes of the vegetable. I fall for lemon-in-both-juice-and-zest-form’s show every time.
This salad, with grapefruit and curds of soft goat cheese is my most recent use of lemony fennel. There is nothing new about combining fennel’s sweetness with the juicy bittersweet of grapefruit. I feel like I have seen it in many a restaurant in past years at this very time of year, the transition time where we start picking up spring while still trailing a few threads of winter along with us. (Once I even had it as a fennel grapefruit salad with pine nuts and chunks of salted brittle candy. That was pretty tasty.) But, look at the word “marinated” there. Marinated makes it different! And new! « Read the rest of this entry »
March 25, 2013 § 23 Comments
After I posted about my method for making creamy scrambled eggs, I received several requests asking whether I could write a similar post on making the perfect omelet.
The answer: most certainly! … Well, sort of.
The perfect omelet is a fitful, finnicky, tricky thing. It is said that you can judge the caliber of a chef by his or her plain roast chicken and his or her omelet. So, I knew that if I was to post about how to cook an omelet, I could not do so lightly.
So, I decided to put in a whole bunch of practice first.
On the whole, I’m relatively unpracticed at making omelets. Certainly if you compare with my practice in fried or scrambled eggs. I like eggs in nearly any preparation, but omelets are not at the very top of my list, so I don’t make them as frequently as some other eggy delights. Actually, if I were to order how frequently I made different types of eggs, the list would be something like this:
- Fried eggs
- Baked eggs (most often baked plainly with just a drizzle of cream and maybe some herbs)
- Scrambled eggs (with or without lots of mix-ins)
- Poached eggs – Frittatas – this one’s a tie
- Soft or hard boiled eggs (though, actually, I do absolutely love a soft boiled egg, if someone else prepares it for me)
- Other egg-based things like savory custards, stratas, souffles, etc.
So there you go. And I have now started the most boring conversation ever, listing egg preparation preferences. Or maybe it’s actually one of the most interesting potential conversations ever. Your egg preferences may be like a personality barometer. Maybe it’s an edible Myer’s-Briggs! Do all other INFJs have the same egg preferences as me? Do ENTPs prefer scrambled eggs above all while ISTJs are omelet people? Feel free to discuss. « Read the rest of this entry »
March 19, 2013 § 20 Comments
I wasn’t kidding about the soups (I even made another one today for lunch. This one, in fact, but with kale instead of cabbage). And, as you can see, I definitely wasn’t kidding about the spinach and pine nut soup. Actually, I used the soup and my desire to make it as an excuse to have an impromptu St. Patrick’s/St. Urho‘s day dinner for a few friends. Clearly there is nothing very Irish (or Finnish for that matter) about spinach and pine nuts, but check out how green that soup is! I decided that with a side of soda bread and some good Irish butter and cheddar it would suit us just fine.
And it did. It’s actually quite a wonderful soup. No wonder I used to make it as a starter for dinner parties all the time! Come to think of it, I think I first served this soup (or a version of it) at the first serious dinner party I ever hosted. That was back in the day, back during my sophomore year of college, if I remember correctly.
Courtesy of my first year of college, I developed such an aversion to the food at the school’s dining hall, I convinced the school to let me not be on a meal plan at all, and I started cooking for myself in the tiny – and usually disgusting with other students’ crusty leftover midnight macaroni and cheese pots and half eaten bags of microwave popcorn – dorm kitchen down at the end of the hallway.
That was pretty much my start of cooking seriously for myself, though in this context “serious” meant a lot of chicken breasts with steamed broccoli interspersed with granola or Special K bars for dinner. (The Special K bar dinner was the saddest.) I also discovered how very lonely it can be to sit and eat dinner in silence by yourself every single night. I suppose that must have contributed to my passion for sharing meals, and I started devising ways to coax others to dine with me. « Read the rest of this entry »
February 21, 2013 § 16 Comments
Decidedly not a beauty queen this one. She’s all lumpy and monochromatic. But the frumpy exterior conceals a heart packed with flavor.
And truly, on most days at least, who really wants a gorgeous but high maintenance looker of a dish when in a few minutes you could instead have one of the most incredibly easy and tasty lunches (or dinners, but I always seem to eat it for lunch) known to man.
And it uses up some leftovers too. That’s always good.
I never used to like fried rice that much, actually. I didn’t dislike it, I just saw no reason to eat it. I never saw what others seemed to see in it.
So for years I would scrupulously cook rice in small quantities so as never to have leftovers. Or, if there were leftovers, I would turn them into a porridge-like pudding for breakfast, and never think about the possibility that I was missing something. « Read the rest of this entry »
February 17, 2013 § 32 Comments
My dear friends, would you be up for bearing with me for just a moment so I can talk about scrambled eggs?
Plain old scrambled eggs. Not scrambled eggs with crisped asparagus or lacy pieces of prosciutto, not scrambled eggs with cheeses and meats and peppers and mushrooms. Not scrambled eggs with anything, except perhaps a helpful piece of toast. Just scrambled eggs. Soft scrambled eggs.
Scrambled eggs are a staple breakfast of mine, and it has occurred to me – given the many times I have been given not very good scrambled eggs – that this absurdly simple preparation, requiring only a few ingredients and minutes, can be quite tricky to pull off.
I think, like me, for many people the ideal of scrambled eggs is soft and creamy, a smooth pillowy mound of golden eggs with barely a curd to spear into. Eminently scoopable eggs, almost like a savory custard. But more often our eggs turn out dry, in large chunks. It’s disheartening.
I didn’t used to feel this way about scrambled eggs. When I was little, scrambled eggs were my favorite food, after any of the sweets we weren’t allowed to eat, but I liked them cooked until totally hard and dry. Then I’d chop them into tiny pieces with my fork. I was weird.
When I was 6 or 7 I got into a huge argument about this with my grandmother, in fact. She explained to me that the proper way to cook scrambled eggs was to leave them partially uncooked and creamy. I insisted this was a disgusting and terrible idea. We faced off, dug our heels in, and neither of us would give an inch on our stance.
It was time that wore me down (happily). I began to prefer my yolks runny and my scrambled eggs soft, and it became a point of intense experimentation to try to achieve my new vision of scrambled egg perfection. « Read the rest of this entry »
January 9, 2013 § 15 Comments
How are we already more than a week into January? Can someone please explain to me how that happened?
Around mid-November through mid-December I was so happy because I’d really found a rhythm, a productive and interesting but soothing rhythm, to my days. I was finally comfortable enough to put 2012 into cruise control and start admiring the scenery.
Then 2013 came barging in and it totally threw off my groove. The toddler-like newness of the year must be contagious because I’m stumbling about a bit trying to regain my stride. I suppose I should respect the newness and not try so hard for broad, efficient striding at all.
Transitions, good or bad, they’re always a little tricky and tiring. Not the least of the reasons for which being that the crack in the earth is open and naughty daemons are wandering around making mischief in our lives and of our immune systems. (Especially our immune systems! Sniff, wheeze, cough. More chicken soup please.)
But, the threshold has been crossed, and once you’re over you can look back, but you can’t go back. Not with any amount of kicking or screaming or clinging to the doorframe. What’s back there has been digested (hopefully well) and given strength to now, and now off we go to the next now and onward! « Read the rest of this entry »