Archive for Courage In The Kitchen
As promised, here is the recipe for the roasted beet salad that my husband and I ate a couple of times for lunch last week. The beets were based on Mark Bittlman’s recipe, which he shares in a video: Beet Salad With Garlic Walnut Sauce, and in and article: A Divorce for Beets And Goat Cheese .
Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
2 pounds red beets, about 4 large, trimmed of greens
1/4 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup walnuts
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
Salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves, for garnish.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash beets well. While still wet, wrap them individually in foil and place on a cookie sheet or roasting pan. Bake beets, undisturbed, for 60 to 90 minutes, until a thin-bladed knife pierces each with little resistance. (They may cook at different rates; remove each one when it is done.)
2. Meanwhile, put oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. When it is warm, add garlic and cook until fragrant and beginning to soften, about 6 minutes. Add walnuts and continue to cook until they begin to color, about another 4 minutes. Let mixture cool slightly and then put it in a small food processor; process until you have a relatively smooth paste. Add orange juice to taste and sprinkle with salt and lots of pepper.
3. After beets have cooled, peel off skins. Slice beets into wedges or cubes and toss with dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning, garnish with parsley and serve.
Yield: 4 servings.
I followed his recipe (without using measurments) until I got to the orange juice part – I had unwittingly drank the last of our orange juice that morning, so I used a splash of white wine vinegar, and some of that fig flavored basalmic vinegar that I used for my Wheat Berry Waldorf Salad the other day. I just kept adding olive oil and the two vinegars until it tasted right and there seemed to be enough of it to cover the beets. Next time I’ll add the walnuts last though, because it turned out a lot more nut-buttery than I would have liked.
Meanwhile, I was also baking sliced whole wheat pitas with olive oil, salt, and garlic powder. These turned out great. They are nice served warm and chewy, or baked until crisp, like the ones you buy at the store.
To assemble the salad, I mixed up a regular vinaigrette in a cup, with a fork (this contains about 2 parts olive oil to 1 part vinegar, in this case white wine vinegar, salt and pepper or cayenne), and tossed it with the chopped romaine lettuce. Then I added a layer each of kidney beans and beet salad. It may sound like a lot of work for a salad, but I kept the beets in a tupperware and we ate it for lunch several times. I must say, I was pretty proud of myself for throwing this together while my husband was napping, and then for having it ready to assemble the next day when he unexpectedly came home for lunch! Go Jess!
Today is shaping up to be a very good day despite the fact that we had a spring snow storm yesterday, and the day before I got another flat tire!
Digression: This is the third flat tire in about two months! It started the week after my crazy neighbor yelled at me early one morning for parking in front of his house. The entire street is mostly empty; this is not one of those neighborhoods in which you have to search for parking everyday. But he “didn’t understand why we would be so inconsiderate as to park in front of his house and trample on his lawn.” (You know that strip of lawn between the sidewalk and the curb? We are so inconsiderate!) That particular morning, although there had been snow on the ground for several days, it being winter still, his gardener was about to arrive and would have no where to park his truck. What!? Apparently, this was some special gardening/watering service. Yet, what were they going to water in the winter!? “And besides,” he continued to yell, “when his friends come to visit, they don’t know where to park (because apparently they can’t figure out that the opposite side of the street is completely empty).”
So, as I wrote previously, after that incident, I had a flat tire on my way to work which was so bad that I had to buy new tires. Then my husband got a flat tire, but was able to add air and the tire was okay. Then I got another one! and am crossing my fingers that I don’t need to buy new tires. Argh! Either our psycho neighbor is harassing us, or there are neighborhood hooligans vandalizing us, or, as my other neighbor suggested, “maybe it’s just a string of unfortunate circumstances.” Translation: The universe is out to get us.
Back to today: It has been a good day! Tim got to come home between clinics to work-out and eat lunch, and I made a gorgeous and tasty salad in continuation of my Mark Bittman inspired cooking streak.
Here is a preview of the salad (I’ll post the recipe and all that tomorrow):
My husband and I don’t exactly need incentives to eat kale (one of the world’s healthiest foods). We eat it at least once a week, often more. But I do need incentives to cook, and as you know, my husband has gotten me interested in The New York Times Dining & Wine and Fitness & Nutrition recipes. So yesterday, when he texted that he had to work late, but still hoped to work-out, and hinted that we should eat “pasta & kale,” I knew he was referring to the Times recipe that he had pointed out to me last week.
I wanted my photo to look more like the above newspaper photo, but my husband commandeered the spoon and stirred it up (thus melting all the little cheese cubes) before I could grab my camera. But anyway, here is our version of the Buckwheat Pasta With Kale from The New York Times Recipes for Health. It is simple – whole wheat pasta with kale, leeks, fresh sage, and gruyere – and it was really, really good.
The actual Italian buckwheat pasta is really hard to find, so I chose this imported, organic, wheat pasta:
The recipe suggested substituting soba noodles or whole wheat fettuccine noodles, but I decided that this Italian whole wheat linguine would be less mushy and wheaty. Ooh, it was a good choice. I found them at our favorite grocery, Sunflower Farmer’s Market.
Finally, here is the recipe from The New York Times:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (or omit butter and use 2 tablespoons olive oil)
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced and cleaned
4 fresh sage leaves, cut in thin slivers
Salt, preferably kosher salt, to taste
3/4 pound kale, stemmed, washed thoroughly, and cut crosswise in strips
Freshly ground pepper
2 ounces Parmesan, grated (1/2 cup)
2 ounces fontina or Gruyère cheese, cut in 1/4 inch dice
3/4 pound buckwheat pasta (pizzoccheri or soba) or whole wheat fettuccine
1. Begin heating a large pot of water. Meanwhile, heat the butter and oil in a large, heavy nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and sage, and cook, stirring often, until the leeks begin to soften, about three minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, and continue to cook, stirring often, until the leeks are tender, about five minutes. Remove from the heat.
2. When the water comes to a boil, add a generous spoonful of salt and the kale. Boil for four minutes, until tender but still bright. Using a slotted spoon or a skimmer, transfer to the pan with the leeks and stir together. Keep warm over low heat.
3. Bring the water back to a boil, and add the pasta. Cook al dente (soba will cook quickly, usually in under five minutes, while pizzoccheri and whole wheat fettuccine will take longer). When the pasta is al dente, add 1/2 cup of the cooking water to the pan with the kale and leeks, then drain the pasta and toss in the pan or in a warm pasta bowl with the leeks, kale and the cheeses. Serve at once.
Yield: Serves four to six
Advance preparation: You can make the dish through step 2 several hours ahead. Remove from the heat, then reheat when you cook the pasta.
Still not sure what kale is all about? Our favorite variety of Kale is Lacinato, or Dinosaur, Kale. You can read more about it at these sites:
Well pat me on the back and call me a Rockstar, I made a kick-ass breakfast this morning:
My husband has been raving about the merits of wheat berries in the morning and lamenting the fact that I haven’t eaten any of the large Tupperware-full of cooked wheat berries in the fridge. Every morning he has been filling up a large coffee mug full of wheat berries with milk and honey, or with Kefir, and the addition of raisins and walnuts as the mood strikes, to eat in the car on the way to work. The first time he made them, he made way too many (which I think everybody does the first time because they swell up so much) and they weren’t cooked quite enough. And because they weren’t cooked enough, they had too strong of a wheat flavor for me. They were chokingly strong – made my throat clench up!
But, he did a second batch and I’ve been meaning for days to make a Waldorf salad with them – like we used to buy prepared at the New Pioneer Co-op in Iowa City. I was already well into the production of the salad, having chopped an apple, a pear, and a stalk of celery, when I realized that all the raisins and walnuts were gone. Bummed, I Googled some Waldorf salad recipes anyway, to see what to mix with mayonaise for the dressing. Hmm, it seemed I would need either lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, neither of which I had.
This is when I remembered the fancy, fig vinegar I had bought at a gourmet food store once for Tim’s birthday (with a bunch of other stuff, because he loves to cook and try new things, but which he has never used).
It may need improvement, but it’s a pretty darn good salad and I’m proud of myself for not giving up in the kitchen. It’s been awhile since I’ve made anything other than fried egg sandwiches and instant oatmeal for breakfast, or any other meal for that matter! I’m so proud of myself, in fact, that I’ve made a new category for my posts: Courage in the Kitchen.
Below is a taste of what’s to come tomorrow: I’m finally gonna post my review of Happy Housewives.