Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Two for one special.

When you cook for two (or more), you engage in a gradual process of discovering what the other person (or people) will or will not eat. I know some of you have children--this is probably not news to you. But when I moved in with Laura, I figured I would have to go through this process of feeling out different spices, vegetables and recipes to see what she would eat and what she wouldn't.

I have learned this: Laura will eat just about anything, except for (1) things that are hot/spicy and (2) sundried tomatoes.

I love sundried tomatoes. I didn't always. But now that they've outlived the trend, I can say that I could consume a whole bag-full in a sitting. I like the Whole Foods brand for snacking, and the ones packed in olive oil are really best for cooking (though we rarely buy them).
So when I went to make this goat cheese pasta sauce, I figured sundried tomatoes would be a natural accompaniment. This, however, probably would not stand with my roommate.

Laura, however, loves red peppers. So, in compromise, I made two separate dishes with the same sauce--one with sundried tomatoes and one with red peppers. The recipe couldn't be easier.

Goat Cheese Pasta (two ways)
Serves 2

1 1/2 oz. goat cheese
8 oz. bowtie pasta
1/4 c pasta water
Fresh ground black pepper and kosher salt
5 sundried tomatoes, sliced; 1/2 red bell pepper, julienned

Cook and drain pasta, reserving about 1/2 c pasta water. In large bowl, combine 1/4 c pasta water and goat cheese. Whisk cheese and water together, adding more water to create a sauce. Season with salt and pepper and toss with pasta.

For sundried tomatoes, simply place in the bottom of the strainer before draining the pasta. Saute the red bell peppers in olive oil until softened but still crisp. Add to pasta.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pie party.

Laura and I love to entertain. One Tuesday night we decided to have a Pie Party--pizzas and apple pie. Since the apple pie recipe is Mrs. Hunter's French Apple Pie recipe (and my favorite apple pie recipe of all time), I cannot share it. But I can share the incredible pizza dough recipe, which really knocked my socks off. It was sweet and flavorful, but not overpowering. It's a little on the thin-crust side, but not hard or overly crispy.

I don't know why I don't make pizza more often. It's so easy, and, we discovered, a great way to clean out the fridge. I tossed leftover olives and cheese from a previous dinner party on mine; Laura sliced up some leftover zucchini; and Julia topped her pizza with pepperoni. I thought about making my own tomato sauce, but instead settled on buying two jars (2 for $5!) from Viva Roma. I was pleasantly surprised with their Cabernet Marinara.

Here's the pizza dough recipe courtesy SmittenKitchen, and Mario Batali. I really love the conversational way Deb wrote this recipe, so I've left it as I found it. I'll leave the creative pizza toppings up to you.
Pizza Dough
Makes one small thin-crust pizza, serves two.

6 tablespoons warm water (may need up to 1 or 2 tablespoons more water)
2 tablespoons white wine (We use Goya White Cooking Wine, because you can't beat a $3 bottle you won't drink)
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups flour

Whisk wine, water and yeast in a medium bowl until yeast has dissolved. Add honey, salt and olive oil and stir. Add flour and no matter how dry it looks, work it with a spoon and your fingers until it comes together as a dough. Add more water one tablespoon at a time if you need, but in my experience, this is almost never necessary (I seem to always need it, though).

Sprinkle some flour on the counter and knead the dough for a minute or two.

If you’re like me and always trying to reduce the number of dirty dishes left at the end of the night, wash the bowl you made the dough in, dry it and coat the inside with olive oil. Put the dough in, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise for an hour or up to two, until it is doubled.

[Easiest way to tell if a dough has risen enough? Dip two fingers in flour, press them into the dough, and if the impression stays, it's good to go. If it pops back, let it go until it doesn't.]

Once the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a floured counter and gently deflate the dough with the palm of your hands. Form it into a ball and let it rest on a floured spot with either plastic wrap over it (sprinkle the top of the dough with flour so it doesn’t stick) or an upended bowl. In 15 minutes, it is ready to roll out.

Do so on the floured counter until pretty darn thin, then lift it onto a cornmeal-sprinkled baking sheet. Add the toppings and slide into a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes.

If you're adding vegetables to the top of your pizza, be sure to sprinkle some olive oil on top. Otherwise, the vegetables will simply dry out.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Me encanta el jicama.

In elementary school, I was in a Spanish immersion program. I learned everything in Spanish through 5th grade, making me pretty much fluent (thanks, mom and dad!). A side effect of this program was the development of a really unique culture. The "English kids" loathed Spanish immersion due to our outshining them at every Field Day (and, well, everything else, too. We were smarter, faster, stronger and more likable). The separation caused us grow up a little differently than our peers. I own Chavo del Ocho (a Mexican children's television show from the late 70's, early 80's) on DVD, since we watched it in class. I learned to dance merengue in third grade. I have spent many an afternoon searching for this Ecuadorian potato pancake recipe (something I ate in fourth grade). I read the first Harry Potter in Spanish. And at some point I became addicted to jicama.

The jicama is a root vegetable that falls somewhere between the potato and the apple. It is massive and ugly, and as I've noticed, readily available in supermarkets. This salad is the result of an impulse jicama purchase.

Jicama is just delicious raw, so a salad seemed a good way to go. I don't normally get too excited about salads, but this can almost be considered a slaw (without the mayo), and would make a great accompaniment to a burger or tacos. It also is great atop a pile of romaine. I can imagine it just heaped on a bed of lettuce as the starter to an impressive dinner--the presentation is just effortless thanks to the colors of the ingredients.

Jicama Salad
Serves 4

This salad is made possible by a mandoline slicer. If you don't own one, Christmas is just around the corner! Do yourself a favor. You'll use it, I promise.

1 jicama, peeled
1 lime (may need 1 1/2 limes, depents on the size of your jicama)
2 carrots
3 radishes
1 navel orange (though would be phenomenal with blood oranges)
1/4-1/2 t Chili powder
Salt and cayenne pepper, to taste

Cut jicama into shoestring size pieces using mandoline slicer. Top with juice of one lime to prevent oxidation. Cut carrot in half through the middle and slice same as jicama. Chop radishes as carrots or jicamas, or (in retrospect, this would have been easier) in paper-thin slices. Peel and segment orange. Toss and sprinkle with chili powder, salt, and pepper.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The most important part.

All this talk of squash, and I forgot the most important part: Seeds.

It was Alex who turned me on to roasting squash seeds. You can roast all kinds of squash seeds, not just pumpkin. The seeds pictured are from acorn squash, which I just eat whole.

While cleaning them is kind of tedious, the results are well worth the effort--a ridiculously good snack from something you would have otherwise thrown away!

Roasted Squash Seeds

Seeds from any squash (butternut, acorn, etc.)
Olive Oil
Seasonings of your choice*

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. After removing seeds from squash, transfer into a bowl filled with water. Using fingers, free seeds from pulp and transfer to a dry paper towel. Cover a cookie sheet with a sheet of parchment or foil. Distribute the seeds evenly on the pan, and coat with olive oil (I found a little bit less than a tablespoon, depending on the amount of seeds, to be about right) and seasonings. Roast for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.

*We use all-seasons salt, but have experimented with kosher salt and black pepper and cumin, chili powder and cayenne. The batches are small enough to have fun with. If something doesn't work, it wasn't like you wasted a whole lot of effort, time, money, or materials on it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

On World AIDS Day:

Dear Friends,

I wanted to post a reflection that's become very dear to me. Simple and honest, with a "duh" message for many of you--this is my offering for today. December 1st is World AIDS Day, and I invite you to remember those living with HIV/AIDS for at least a few moments today. Pray, meditate, do whatever you do to bring peace into the world, and then get tested. Getting tested makes it okay for other to get tested, and helps take away some of the stigma associated with the disease. You can read my reflection on my time in Africa here.

In His Peace,


Help Me Be Like You, from The Awake Project
Mary Graham
President, Women of Faith

AIDS is a global problem, and it affects us all whether we know it or not. What once seemed an isolated issue has become a challenge for the whole world. Especially the church.

There was a time when everything I knew about AIDS was in a textbook or a movie. Sometimes a headline in the newspaper was bold and caught my attention, but I don’t think I ever made it through the whole article. Ashamedly, I admit it didn’t seem essential information for me. It applied to a people in a sub-culture in my own world, or in another world far from my own. Through the years, my indifference has changed dramatically to both care and genuine grief.

Last year while traveling abroad with World Vision on behalf of Women of Faith, I visited an HIV/AIDS clinic. I was not prepared for what I saw. The rooms were filled with women, mostly very young. Some had small children who were also HIV positive. Others were in full blown, final stages of the dreaded disease. Some looked healthy but were walking around with a death sentence flowing through their veins.

As I met and talked with each of these women, I felt more and more compassion for their need and passion to scream at the top of my voice, Somebody do something! In a nutshell, the stories went something like this: Young girls, from the ages of eight or ten, had been sold into prostitution by families needing money for life’s basic essentials. The women were sold again and again by their “masters,” becoming sexual pawns, held hostage to the dirt-cheap desires of men. Ultimately, they became infected with the disease, and gave birth to fatherless children who were born with the infection. Then, as young adults, they were tossed aside as rubbish.

I thought about all the discussions and stimulating conversations I’d had through the years with friends regarding “a woman’s choice,” and I felt heartsick. Regardless of who we are or what we believe in America, our choices are myriad. I couldn’t get my heart and mind past these desperate women and their need. They had never had a choice of any kind, and they have non now. My heart was broken, which was God’s gift to me.

A recent headline in USA Today took my breath away, “AIDS to Orphan 25 Million.” Think of it. We cannot bear to think of one child losing her mother. Twenty five million motherless children? And of those, many carry the virus themselves. This is not an isolated issue—nothing remote about it, and it will not solve itself. As has been the case for twenty years, it will get worse and worse. Who will help? Who will do something?

It has to be the church. We must be on the leading edge of those who care. Jesus clearly called us to this kind of action. He burdens our hearts for the needs of others, gives us grace to care, hope that makes a difference, and the courage to step up to the plate, even when the need is overwhelming.

He is the one who ignored the prejudice of his culture and reached out to those who were rejected and forsaken. Religious leaders—right and left—in the time of Christ were make pronouncements about the lack or responsibility of the church and its people. “Wrong!” Jesus seemed to say. Out of his compassionate heart, he looked beyond what was easily perceived, to the deeper issues of the plight of people. He touched the outcasts, the lepers, and those unable to help themselves. He went about doing good. He helped and it changed lives.

And he’s the one we follow. Unfortunately, many of us have not just been oblivious to the problem of AIDS worldwide, including our own country, we’ve just been objectionable to it. We’ve felt offended, critical, judgmental, and averse to the issue. The problem is, it’s not just an “issue.” It is people we’re talking about. People are hurting and dying now by the millions.

I personally know many believers who have given their lives to this cause. They work every day somewhere in the world nurturing and caring for those whose lives are ravished by this plague. Their work is saving lives, protecting women and children, and they are being the tangible love of Christ to those who suffer. Millions have secured life eternally because someone care enough to do what Christ would do. May God give them grace in abundance.

Last year in that clinic there was a woman whose face glowed like the Shekinah Glory—it was as if the divine presence of Christ was in her countenance. Although only in her early twenties, Lydia will live just a few more years. As her story unfolded, we realized her entire life had been spent being tossed form one garbage heap to another…until now. With the love of Christ, someone brought her to this safe place. She found love, kindness and peace. In addition, there was provision for her physical needs. She sand with a little choir at the clinic and even when she was singing she never stopped smiling. She said to me, “I am so lucky.” I cried.

I remembered the words of Isaiah, “Whom shall I send who will go for me?” I silently prayed that the Lord would help me know what to do. Anyone in my place that day would have responded as I did. The love Christ ‘constrained me’, and it would you. I challenge you to get in touch with the reality of the AIDS crises. It is a global problem that cannot be dismissed. Ask God to give you his concern for those whose lives are broken by the disease. Pray boldly that he will give you some personal contribution to make. Frankly, one of the most important first steps is that our hearts will be tender about this emergency. That could be the most crucial turning point for the church. And then do something. Do something. As Christians, we know there are three things to consider: we can pray, or give, or go. Or all three. Nobody can do everything. But everybody can do something. If we won’t, who will?

Oh, God, give me your heart for these who suffer. Protect me from ignorance, indifference, and hostile, judgmental statements. Help me be a part of the solution. Help me be like you.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce

After lamenting a little bit over what we don't have this season, it may be very appropriate to say what I am thankful for. Squash is at the top of my list this year.

We've covered the acorn squash, but everyone knows that butternut is the squash (for the last two seasons, at least). If you've tried (and loved) Smitten Kitchen's Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Gallette, you know exactly what I'm talking about. We made one a few weeks ago, but since the squash we got was so big, the second half, already peeled and seeded, sat in the fridge for at least a week.

Running low on dinner ideas, I decided to try a butternut squash pasta sauce based on a bottle I had seen at Williams-Sonoma. They, of course, were selling it for an outrageous price in a quantity that would been unreasonable for us to own. I decided to take a stab at making my own, after reading the ingredient list, to toss with some angel hair pasta.

I failed to write down the recipe I was cooking, so most of these instructions are just "guestimates". Just trust your own taste and feel for consistency. Add the half-and-half or cream in intervals.

Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
I made this using what I had, but written this way, you just fill in whatever quantities you feel work.
1/2 of a medium butternut squash
Olive oil
1 handful Parmesan cheese
Half-and-Half to cover
1 dash cinnamon
1 dash nutmeg
Black pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste

Preheat the oven to 375. Dice the butternut squash into 1/2" pieces and coat with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss into the oven until tender, about 30 minutes. Let cool. In a blender or food processor, combine the Parmesan, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and black pepper with the squash. Cover with half and half and blend until creamy but not too liquid-like (you're going for a pasta sauce here...I trust you'll make that call). Serve over angel hair pasta, sprinkle with black pepper and Parmesan.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Chicken Piccata with Capers and Sweet Corn

I am finding it very difficult to remember summer.

Watermelon, blackberries, peaches...It all seems so far away now, as I sit in my unheated apartment wearing three layers. But there was a time when fresh sweet corn was readily available, and I would stand over the trashcan and husk it just as the sun was setting (around 7 or 8 o'clock).

Though sweet corn season is over, I feel as though I should record this recipe just so I remember it for next year. It was the perfect combination of flavors--the salty capers, the sweet corn, the acidic lemon juice and crisp white wine. We came up with this one ourselves, just trying to get rid of a few ears languishing in the fridge. Maybe you'll try this with frozen corn, or mark it on your calendar for next year.

Chicken Piccatta with Capers and Sweet Corn
Serves 2
Adapted from Gourmet, October 1991

3/4 lbs. whole skinless boneless chicken breast, halved lengthwise
2 Tb. unsalted butter
1 Tb olive oil
4 Tb dry white wine
2 Tb fresh lemon juice
2 Tb drained bottled capers, chopped
3 Tb minced fresh parsley leaves (use 'em if you got 'em, but it is optional)
1/2 lb. spaghetti or angel hair pasta

Halve the chicken pieces horizontally with a sharp knife and flatten them slightly between sheets of plastic wrap. In a large, heavy skillet heat half the butter and the oil over moderately high heat until the foam subsides. Saute the chicken pieces, seasoned with salt and pepper, 1-2 minutes on each side or until they are cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a platter and keep warm (Aaron's mom taught us this trick--just stick in the microwave. It'll keep your food warm without even being on!). Add the wine, lemon juice, capers, and corn, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add the chicken and simmer for a few minutes, bringing the ingredients together. Serve over spaghetti or angel hair pasta, garnished with parsley.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Roasted Corn Pudding in Acorn Squash

As I know I've said before, my mom isn't much of cook. I love my mother, but I know she'd agree when I say that loathes grocery shopping, thinking about making dinner, and making dinner. I, on the other hand, revel in it.

So it should come as no surprise that my mother rarely prepared seasonal vegetables. I had never eaten butternut squash until I moved to Philadelphia. Now that it's become a staple in our apartment, we are branching out to other kinds of squash. As I type, there is a second beautiful acorn squash sitting on the window sill.

This recipe, from 101Cookbooks, takes awhile to make but isn't labor intensive. It just so happened that Alex and her friend Nick visited the night we planned on making it. One squash was plenty split between four people as a main dish.

Of course, this recipe was made (once again) on the tail end of corn season, but frozen corn works here as well.

Roasted Corn Pudding in Acorn Squash
serves 4
1 small (2 lb.) acorn squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup milk
1 egg plus 2 egg whites
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels (or more if you like)
1/2 cup chopped scallions
a tiny pinch of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup grated cheddar cheese

Rub the orange flesh of the squash with oil. Place cut side up on a baking sheet. You will want it to sit flat (and not tip), if you are having trouble just level out the bottom using a knife. If the squash is tilting on the pan, the filling will run out - bad news. Cover the squash with foil and bake for 40 minutes or until the squash starts to get tender.

In a bowl combine the milk, eggs, corn, half of the scallions, nutmeg, and salt. Fill each of the squash bowls (the original reads 3/4 full, but we just filled them. We baked the extra filling in ramekins). Carefully transfer the squash back to the oven without spilling (tricky!). Continue baking uncovered for another 30 - 50 minutes, or until the squash is fully cooked through, and the pudding has set.

The amount of time it takes can vary wildly depending on the squash and oven. At the last minute sprinkle with cheese and finish with a flash under the broiler to brown the cheese. Keep and eye on things, you can go from melted cheese to burnt and inedible in a flash. Serve hot sprinkled with the remaining scallions.

My apologies for not posting more lately--I've been super nerdy lately, writing papers and reading books. But I've still had time to cook a lot (though I don't necessarily remember to take photos) and have a few posts ready to go. Look out this week for the other two November posts.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cook Chicken.

I am not a vegetarian, but I rarely cook meat. There was honestly only two instances where I had in my last kitchen--steak, on Valentine's day, and Mrs. Hunter's chicken Dijon.

My anxiety over cooking meat has nothing to do with how gross it is, or ethical issues over where it comes from, but rather a fear that I will not cook it long enough and will give everyone food poisoning.

In an effort to face my fears, I've tried a few chicken recipes.

I'm really glad, too. This recipe was incredible--and so ridiculously perfect for a fall evening. I had it bookmarked for at least a year, and am really sad I didn't try it until now. I halved the cider cream sauce, made only two chicken breasts and served the whole thing over mashed sweet potatoes (to which I added nothing but butter, a little cream, and hot sauce--would have used adobo sauce if there had been any in the pantry).

Chicken Breasts with Apples and Cider Cream Sauce
From The Frog Commissary Cookbook, who served this dish to 800 people in 12 minutes at the Philadelphia Art Museum--this recipe only serves 6, though.

Cider Cream Sauce
2 cups apple cider
2 Tb Dijon mustard
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/8 t cayenne pepper
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
3/4 cup flour, seasoned with 1 1/2 t each salt and pepper
1/2 c clarified butter (we used about 4 Tb of regular butter)
2 large tart apples, cored and cut into 1/4" slices (we used Winesap apples, my favorites)

Make the sauce. In a 2-quart saucepan, reduce the cider to 1/2 cup. Whisk in the mustard and cream and reduce to about 2 cups over medium high heat or until thickened like a sauce (it should coat a spoon). Add the seasonings and set aside.

Make the chicken. Dredge the chicken in the seasoned flour and shake off the excess. Heat 6 Tb of the butter in a large skillet. Add the chicken and saute for 5 minutes. Turn the chicken and saute for 3-5 minutes more or until done. Remove the chicken (we put it in the microwave to keep it warm, a great trick) and add 2 Tb of butter and the apples to the pan. Saute 3-5 minutes or just until tender. Pour any excess butter from the pan and add the cider cream sauce. Heat through while scraping up any little browned bits from the bottom of the pan. When hot, serve over the chicken breasts and serve with apples.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Laura eats all the eggs.

Because Laura and I have so few issues living together (the complete list: Laura's hair, we're both bad at mental math, we stay up chatting until way too late in the evening), we've started inventing them.

Our pretend issue is that Laura eats all the eggs. The fact is that she does, but the falsehood lies in me caring. It all started when I came home one weekend to a near-empty box of 18 eggs we had gotten a few days before. I wasn't mad, I was amazed! I still don't know quite how she managed it.

Laura gets made fun of relentlessly. Here's what our mutual friends had to say about it after I tweeted:

Aside from being useful for baking, eggs are a hot commodity around here as a cheap and filling protein. I've been practically lusting over this recipe ever since I saw it in Gourmet (which is the second, much prettier image above) last January, but lacked the ramekins in which to make it. I used the $0.33 ceramic cups we bought at Ikea, and though they may not be as pretty as the Gourmet version, they certainly tasted delicious.

Eggs with Cream, Spinach and Country Ham
Serves 8
The description from Gourmet was too good not to post: You'll return again and again to this recipe since it can be assembled in advance and delivers serious flavor. The scent of ham gently permeates the eggs, whose yolks can be broken into the rest of the dish or dipped into with
biscuits , while the mineral notes of the creamed spinach proclaim its freshness.

1/4 cup thinly sliced country ham, finely chopped
Scant 3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3/4 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
10 ounces spinach, coarse stems discarded and coarsely chopped
8 large eggs

Equipment: 8 (6-ounce) ramekins or ovenproof teacups

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
Bring ham and cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, then remove from heat. Let steep, uncovered, about 10 minutes.
Cook onion in 1 tablespoon butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-low heat, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and season lightly with salt and pepper, then cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add spinach, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and cook, until spinach is wilted.
Divide spinach, then ham, among ramekins, spooning 1 tablespoon cream into each serving. Crack eggs into ramekins and season lightly with salt and pepper. Spoon 1 teaspoon cream over each egg. Cut remaining tablespoon butter into 8 small pieces and dot each egg with butter.
Put ramekins in a shallow baking pan and bake, rotating pan halfway through baking, until whites are just set but yolks are still runny, 15 to 20 minutes, removing from oven as cooked.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Clam and Corn Chowder.

Laura and I are really into saving money. Especially as our gas bills for the last two months have already been more than either of us expected.

(Internal monologue: Oh my gosh I'm talking about gas bills and sounding like my parents please make it stop.)

But we have ideas. Hand-knit wool socks, handmade quilts, heavy drapes, and, of course, lots of soup. Though it wasn't quite cold when we made this, I can tell you that I wish I had a bowl right now (I'm all bundled up and it's only October!).

This recipe comes from Bon Appetit's recession-friendly January 2009 issue. According to the authors, you could spend $14.11 shopping for this meal. Because there are only two of us, we halved the recipe (saving on clams), and added more potatoes, carrots and onion. The rosemary and thyme make a huge difference, making this recipe taste expensive. We splurged on the bacon, though it was very hard to eat as pictured. Do yourself a favor and chop it a little.

New England Clam and Corn Chowder with herbs
From Bon Appetit, January 2009
Serves 4

6 thick bacon slices, cut crosswise into 1/2" pieces
1 large onion, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons dried thyme
3/4 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
3 Tablespoons flour
4 cups whole milk
1 8 0z. white-skinned potato, cut into 1/2" cubes
3 6 1/2 oz. cans chopped clams in juice
1 8 3/4 oz. can corn kernels, drained (or, fresh corn off the cob--about 2 ears)
Chopped fresh parsley

1. Cook bacon in a large saucepan (or your favorite soup pot) over medium heat until crisp. Transfer bacon to a paper towel to drain.
2. Add onion, carrots, thyme, rosemary, and potatoes to pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over, stir 1-2 minutes.
3. Gradually add milk to pan, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook until slightly thickened, stirring often, about 5 minutes.
4. Add clams with juice and corn. Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes more.
5. Divide soup amongst bowls, sprinkle with bacon and parsley.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Corn and Tomato Pie.

We are now rapidly approaching the end of the summer season. Tomatoes and sweet corn are becoming far too rare at our farmer's market. Even though I bought a few (delicious) ears today, I know corn is definitely past its peak.

But you must find time to try this pie. It was quite the buzz worthy blog post at the end of the summer--after missing out on the shrimp and broccoli for so long, I decided not to wait. I'm glad I didn't. This dish really showcases the freshness of the tomatoes and corn, thanks to the lemon and chives. I forgot there was cheese and mayonnaise in this dish. Just be sure to season liberally--the salt and pepper really make the flavors pop.

Two notes on tomatoes: First, don't skip peeling them. Deb didn't think it was necessary, and later wished she had. I had a good time doing it--it's almost magical! Secondly, you can de-seed and juice them a little if you want, as the tomatoes do cause some puddles, as is apparent in the second photo, but I didn't have a problem with the crust being soggy. I feel like it would have helped to make bigger/better steam vents.

This kept pretty well in the fridge for the two days it took us to finish it. I'd be willing to place bets that it won't last that long in your house, though.
Corn and Tomato Pie
adapted from SmittenKitchen, who adapted it from Gourmet

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 3/4 teaspoons salt, divided
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons or 3 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus 2 teaspoons melted
3/4 cup whole milk
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 3/4 pounds beefsteak tomatoes
1 1/2 cups corn (from about 3 ears), coarsely chopped by hand, divided
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
7 ounces coarsely grated sharp Cheddar (1 3/4 cups), divided

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and 3/4 tsp salt in a bowl, then blend in cold butter (3/4 stick) with your fingertips or a pastry blender until it resembles coarse meal. Add milk, stirring until mixture just forms a dough, then gather into a ball.

Divide dough in half and roll out one piece on a well-floured counter into a 12-inch round (1/8 inch thick). Either fold the round gently in quarters, lift it into a 9-inch pie plate and gently unfold and center it. Pat the dough in with your fingers trim any overhang.

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. If your kitchen is excessively warm, as ours is, go ahead and put the second half of the dough in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. Whisk together mayonnaise and lemon juice.

Cut an X in bottom of each tomato and blanch in a large pot of boiling water 10 seconds. Immediately transfer with a slotted spoon to an ice bath to cool. Peel tomatoes, then slice crosswise 1/4 inch thick and, if desired, gently remove seeds and extra juices. Arrange half of tomatoes in crust, overlapping, and sprinkle with half of corn, one tablespoon basil, 1/2 tablespoon chives, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper and one cup of grated cheese. Repeat layering with remaining tomatoes, corn, chives, salt, and pepper. Pour lemon mayonnaise over filling and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Roll out remaining piece of dough into a 12-inch round in same manner, then fit over filling, folding overhang under edge of bottom crust and pinching edge to seal. Cut 4 steam vents in top crust and brush crust with melted butter (2 teaspoons). Bake pie until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes, then cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Flying Monkey Cupcakes.

The last two weeks have been jam-packed full of papers, visitors and running back and forth to my parent's house to pick up some catering shifts.

I've been trying to reclaim some joy with Flying Monkey cupcakes (Reading Terminal, 13th & Arch). On the left is my personal favorite, the Flying Monkey Signature Cupcake, which is chocolate-chocolate with banana butter cream in the middle. The cupcake on the right is chocolate with lavender icing and raspberry filling. Both were absolutely worth every penny.

I'll be back on schedule soon with some corn and tomato pie (just in time to finish the season), and since I've busted out a wool sweater today, I think it might be time for some soup, too.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Omelets and Barbara Brown Taylor.

This is not an entry about omelets, really.

Sure, that omelet was delicious--I used the leftover Cazio de Lazio and spinach from the Prosciutto cups and sundried tomatoes to make myself a really phenomenal lunch.

Try as I might, I have a really hard time reading and eating. But when I started Barbara Brown Taylor's Leaving Church, I couldn't put it down. My copy is now filled with underlines, notes and crumbs.

This is exactly what I needed to hear this week, I thought I'd share it:

"Salvation is so much more than many of its proponents would have us believe. In the Bible, human beings experience God's salvation when peace ends war, when food follows famine, when health supplants sickness and freedom trumps oppression. Salvation is a word for the divine spaciousness that comes to human beings in all the tight places where their lives are at risk, regardless of how they got there or whether they know God's name. Sometimes it comes as an extended human hand and sometimes as a bolt from the blue, but either way it opens a door in what looked for all the world like a wall. This is the way of life, and God alone knows how it works."

There is so much more in this book--particularly about the way church works (and doesn't). I highly, highly recommend it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Resurrecting Corn.

I have always loved corn on the cob. When I was 10 or 11, I won a family corn-eating contest with 6 ears. I remember shucking corn sitting at picnic tables with brown grocery bags beneath us, and my grandmother boiling them on the stove afterwards (and, oddly enough, the tongs she used to remove them from the boiling water). My favorite midnight snack the first few weeks of freshman year was corn on the cob, cold out of the fridge covered in salt.

Corn in Philadelphia delicious, most likely because it's fairly local. Lucky for us, we live between Jersey Sweet Corn and Lancaster Sweet Corn.

Laura and I bought some at Reading Terminal during our first shopping trip but didn’t get around to eating it until a little over a week later. It was looking a little sad. So I decided to mix up some fancy butter to liven it up.

These are only two variations and do not require measurements. The only “recipe” here involves softening the butter enough and gradually mixing in layers of flavor (thus, lots of taste testing). I used the back of a tiny spoon to mix the seasonings into the butter.

The butter on the left is a Chili Butter. It contains Chili Powder, Paprika, Cumin, Cayenne Pepper and All Seasons Salt.

The butter on the right is Parsley Parmesan Butter. We chopped fresh parsley and added a hefty amount of Parmesan. Lemon zest would have been wonderful in this!

After corn, this butter is delicious on rolls (especially multigrain ones) and melted in pasta. I’m also considering using the Chili Butter to do some sautéed vegetables later this week.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


As I am a college student, I am really, really poor.

As I am Pennsylvania Dutch, I am also really, really frugal. I believe the expression is “tighter than a fish’s ass.” (Thanks, Mrs. Church.)

But I am also a serious foodie. You all know this. I love expensive meals at restaurants, good cheese, and can be very particular about the quality of ingredients. It creates somewhat of a problem. Laura (my roommate) and I have been very careful about how much we spend for groceries—between the two of us, the first week we spent about $20, the second about $25.

And do you know where we spent that extra $5 the second week, and on what? That’s right. At DiBruno Brothers, on prosciutto.

Prosciutto, for those of you who don’t know, is an Italian cured ham that is sliced ultra thin. It practically melts in your mouth and is one of the greatest things ever to happen to food. This having been said, they charge about $20 a pound for it.

It was so worth it.

This recipe gives prosciutto a form and function as a cup or crust for a baked egg. It’s great for breakfast, but two of these at dinner with a side of homefries can be a really filling meal. Baking the cherry tomatoes gives them a really delicious roasted flavor, too.

This recipe also calls for cheddar. I found that kind of boring. While I was at DiBruno Brothers, I asked the fromagier for a suggestion. First he said Pecorino Romano (a fine choice), but I was hoping for something that would melt better. He gave me a Cacio (de Lazio), which is just a young Pecorino. It’s a semi firm sheep’s milk cheese and, aside from being absolutely delightful melted, it’s a great table cheese.

Individual prosciutto, spinach and egg “pies”
From Sara Foster's Casual Cooking

Olive oil for greasing muffin tins
6 thin slices prosciutto
6 large eggs
1 c spinach, roughly chopped
1 oz cheddar (or Pecorino Romano, or Cacio), shredded (1/4 c)
12 grape tomatoes, halfed

Preheat the oven to 350. Using a paper towel, grease six cups of the muffin tin with olive oil.
Line the cups with the prosciutto slices. Crack 1 egg into each cup. Sprinkle spinach and cheese. Top with tomatoes, salt and pepper. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until egg whites are firm and yolks are starting to set but still soft in the center. Set them aside to cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the prosciutto cups to loosen.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Back to reality.

Since we last spoke, I have survived two weeks in Thailand, two and a half weeks in the wilderness (with children), moving into an apartment (twice), leading worship, and starting class.
Being in Thailand—and at camp—was like living in an alternate universe. How is there no cheese in Thailand? Since when did I like oatmeal so much?

Just thinking about unpacking for good today made me realize: I have come back to reality. Reality, in the sense that I’m using it, has a wonderful connotation. Grocery shopping, making dinner every night, and having friends over for dessert is a really wonderful reality, a reality I missed and for which I am grateful.

Part of this new reality is my new roommate—Laura—who gives me full reign of the kitchen and likes just about everything I make. She invited our friends, Jess and Brian (who are recently married—gah! I have friends who are married), over for dinner. We had only been living in the apartment a few days, so there wasn’t much in our fridge just yet. Expected to deliver a meal worthy of my reputation in the kitchen, I began to scramble.

Then I remembered this story from bread&honey. When Italians wives had affairs, and therefore did not have enough time to slave over a hot stove making the perfect red sauce, they would make a sauce called "putan"(which literally means “whore”). Of course, I would have looked up the recipe, but we don't have internet yet, so I was forced to It’s dependent on fresh ingredients and requires very little stove time, thus it’s absolutely perfect for the end of summer (and if you're interested in tricking your husband into believing you slaved over a red sauce all day, when really you just tossed this together).

I grabbed some tomatoes and basil from my dad’s garden, and because we always have onions and garlic on hand, this sauce came together in a flash. We added a poached egg on top for a little protein, and because, well, a poached egg always brings a little class to a dish. The dish was well received, however, I forgot to snap a photo until midway through eating.

Pasta alla Puttanesca
Serves 4

4-5 big, ripe tomatoes, cubed
4 Tb. olive oil, divided
1 medium white onion or half a large onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 lb. pasta (we used rigatoni)
4 eggs
Optional: olives, anchovies, torn prosciutto

1. Dice the onion and saute in 2 Tb olive oil until softened.
2. Add the rest of the oil, garlic and tomatoes and simmer over medium-low heat until warmed through (the tomatoes should only break down a little). Add the thyme (and other herbs, if you like, oregano or an "Italian seasoning" would work here) and season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Meanwhile, boil water and cook the pasta.
4. About 5 minutes into cooking the pasta, bring a sauce pan, about half-way full with water, to a boil. Crack eggs into small cups first, and when the water reaches a boil, gently drop the eggs into the water. They will feather out a little, but do not be concerned. Take the water off the heat, cover, and wait 4-5 minutes (depending on how done you like the yoke). After 4-5 minutes, use a slotted spoon to fish out the eggs and place on a paper towel to absorb some of the water.
5. Combine the sauce and pasta in a large bowl. Plate the pasta on the bottom and the poached egg on top. Sprinkle with black pepper and Parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I forgot to mention:

I've been in Thailand the last few weeks (eating all kinds of really incredible Thai food). In a few days, I'll move into a new apartment in Philadelphia and then start a job at Mountain Meadow Summer Camp through most of August.

I'll be posting some photos and short thoughts periodically, as well as some pieces from before I left (oh man, strawberry rhubarb cobbler).

Crashing The Last Supper is, therefore, on temporary hiatus. Just think of it like Jesus' lost years.

Monday, July 6, 2009

French Onion Soup.

Remember a few weeks ago when I was saying it was too warm for soup? Considering the rainy weather a few weeks ago, I don't feel like posting this recipe now is too out-of-line.

I do have to admit, however, that I made this soup on a perfectly warm, sunny day--Father's Day, actually. My dad requested French Onion Soup (not expecting me to actually make it, I'm pretty sure), but since I'd missed cooking for more than one person, I accepted his challenge.

I've never made French Onion Soup, or ordered it off a menu, and really have only tasted a spoonful once. We also lacked oven-proof bowls, so finishing off the soup in the broiler was also not an option.

But with a little creativity, I think I managed to pull off French Onion Soup without a broiler. Be sure to bookmark this recipe for cold winter nights.

French Onion Soup
Adapted from Bon Appetit, May 1991, with elements from Smitten Kitchen's recipe

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter (I used a little more than this, actually)
6 onions (about 3-4 pounds), thinly sliced (use a variety of onions you like, each will yield a slightly different taste)
A few pinches of sugar
6 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 cups canned beef broth (one of the big cans)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 sourdough baguette with a good crust
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup grated Swiss cheese (I bought should treat yourself to this, it'll totally change the way you think about Swiss. Gruyere would also be fantastic)

1. Thinly slice the onions with a mandoline slicer. In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, melt the butter. Over medium high heat, add onions and a few pinches of sugar. Season with salt and pepper. Once starting to color, turn down to low heat and add the garlic. Saute uncovered until the onions are very tender and brown (about 45 minutes). Remember to stir frequently, add more butter if necessary, and not let the onions burn.

2. Add wine and reduce to glaze (about 3 minute). In a small bowl, whisk the mustard with a splash of beef broth and add to the onions. Add the rest of the beef broth and simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Meanwhile, slice the baguette diagonally into 1/2" slices. Brush each side with olive oil. In a 400 degree oven, toast for 4 minutes. Flip and pile with grated Swiss cheese. Return to oven until the cheese has melted.

4. To serve, ladle soup into bowls. Top with 3 baguette slices.

I think my dad was impressed.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Please follow instructions.

Sometimes I'm pretty sure I'll never learn.

I love scallops. If I see them on a menu, I usually order them. For example, at both of my most recent visits to Fork, I ordered the scallops (over a vanilla risotto with butternut squash and apples and, on Eddie's birthday, with fresh ravioli in a light basil sauce).

I decided that, as a treat, I should try making them myself.

I bought this cilantro lime pasta at Ohio City Pasta with the intention of doing a play on ceviche--a Latin dish typically made with seafood, lime, cilantro, and chilies. I figured the pasta with a little bit of olive oil and red pepper flakes would allow the flavors of the pasta and scallops to really shine.

Of course, I've never made scallops before. In my research, every recipe read, "Using a non-stick pan..." You'd think I would have made note of that. But of course, Ol' Stubborn Cody had to try and use the fancy pans in his apartment, which are metal and not non-stick.
Despite the pan being well-oiled, those scallops stuck like you wouldn't believe, which was really sad considering how expensive the scallops were.

I don't have a recipe for you (again) because this recipe was, aside from being a "fail" in procedure also not that great ingredient-wise. The dish needed another level of acidity and real chilies probably would have helped.

I tell you all this because, primarily, I want you to always use a non-stick pan for scallops, and because the french onion soup I made yesterday will make up for this. I am finally back home in Coopersburg for a few days and cooking up a storm, with much success. I'm throwing a Just Desserts party on Wednesday, so you can expect plenty of coverage later in the week.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Carb overload.

When I saw this recipe that included both pasta and potatoes, I found it hard to believe. Could I really have pasta and potatoes in the same dish? Wouldn't that be carb overload?

A few months went by, and I found myself at West Side Market with a handful of fingerling potatoes, fresh wild mushroom pasta, and some Italian chicken sausage in my bag (all for under $5). My first thought for the fingerling potatoes was homefries--but then, thinking about the pasta and potatoes recipe I couldn't quite remember the details of--I thought, "Wild mushroom pasta with potatoes. And sausage. And spinach to balance it out."

I went home and got to work. I boiled the potatoes and the pasta, took the sausage out of the casing and sauteed it with the spinach. The result?

Carb overload.

Marc Bittman's recipe for pasta with potatoes is considerably different than this one. Stewed tomatoes may have saved the dish, but it also may have hidden the wild mushroom flavor.

The winner, however, and reason I am blogging about this dish, is the sausage and spinach. Chicken sausage is pretty readily available--there's always plenty at Whole Foods. Simply remove the casing (I know, it's kind of gross) and cook like you would ground beef. Throw the spinach in once the sausage is all the way cooked, only until it wilts.

This sausage and spinach topping would work great for pasta or potatoes, especially if you're in a rush. The flavor of the sausage eliminates the need for any other seasonings or fussing--add a little olive oil and you're done. Also, consider the potatoes, sausage and spinach with eggs, or in a frittata.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Things I can't get enough of lately:

is a pretty mild cow's milk cheese with a line of vegetable ash running through the middle (the fromagier at Dibruno Bros told me it separated the morning from the evening milking). The aroma is strong, but like I said, the taste is pretty mild.

Blood Oranges are like less acidic oranges, and chances are you've already had them. I had never bought them before, but now I'm entranced by that deep purple-red.

But nothing says summer like watermelon. You know I ate that entire third of a watermelon by myself in one sitting. Take a look at that cutting technique. Thanks to Karen Hunter Catering I could probably cut an entire watermelon down to bite size pieces in 5 minutes or less.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

More mussels to love.

At 5:30, after buying cilantro lime pasta this morning, I went to West Side Market with the intention of buying scallops. I thought the scallops would go well with the pasta--like a ceviche, with a little olive oil and perhaps some red pepper flakes.

But of course, it was the end of the day, and there were mussels. I took about a pound, for $2.50.
Browsing SmittenKitchen for a scallop recipe, I stumbled upon this pairing of mussels and fries, which I guess is a Belgian thing. I don't know much about Belgium apart from watching Giada eat her way through Brussels a few years ago. I had a few fingerlings left over from another adventure this week (that I'll share eventually, as the experiment kind of failed), so I decided to go all the way and make the whole meal.

The only issue was the white wine.

Sadly, I am not yet 21 (soon!). But how about white cooking wine? Do they card you for that?

Apparently not. Even though I probably could have gotten away with buying a real bottle of white wine in the grocery store (in Ohio, they have wine in the grocery store. Amazing) with the stubble I've accumulated over the past 4 days of not shaving, I went for Goya's white cooking wine for $2.32.

Now, it could be that I don't know much about wine, but the cooking wine wasn't bad. I know you should never cook with wine you wouldn't drink, but here it seems okay to bend the rules.

Moules a la mariniere/Fresh Mussels Steamed in Wine and Flavorings
Adapted from SmittenKitchen, but actually from Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" (!)
Serves one.

1 c white wine
3 Tb butter
1/2 c chopped green onion
1 clove diced garlic
A few cranks black pepper
3/4 lb. mussels

1. Scrub your mussels (I incurred a minor blister on my thumb--get a scrub brush, using a dishcloth is hard work).
2. In a pot large enough to spread all the mussels in one layer, pour the white wine and the butter. Over medium heat, allow the butter to melt. Add the green onion, garlic, and black pepper.
3. Add the mussels, put a lid on the pot, and crank up the heat to high. In about 5 or 6 minutes, your mussels will have steamed open. Discard those that do not.

The sauce this makes is delicious. Suitable for dipping french fries in, but you might want to have some good, crusty bread on hand. You can also add and swap out various herbs--the original recipe included thyme, parsley and a bay leaf.

Baked Pommes Frites
Adaptable--I wasn't measuring or watching times, but this is one you can probably figure out yourself.

Potatoes (I used fingerling, but the original recipe is written for russet potatoes)
Olive Oil (the ratio from SmittenKitchen is 6 Russets:1/4 c oil)
Salt and Pepper

1. Preheat your oven to 400.
2. Cut your potatoes so they measure about 1/2" x 1/2".
3. Boil the potatoes until a knife goes through easily.
4. Drain the potatoes, toss with plenty of olive oil, salt and pepper.
5. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and pop in the oven until golden brown, turning them once after ten or so minutes (it takes awhile--I wasn't as patient as I should have been, but the fries still got nice and crispy on the outside).

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Parsley and Garlic Mussels with Squid Ink Pasta

I apologize for the poor lighting in my kitchen. But I think the real reason you can't really see my plate is because the dish was essentially black-on-black.

Walking around West Side Market on Friday afternoon, I discovered a stand called Ohio City Pasta. They, as one would imagine, specialize in fresh pasta. Ashamed as I am, I have actually never bought fresh pasta, despite its availability at Reading Terminal (you know the Italian place in the back? Go to the side counter). The appeal of Ohio City Pasta is that it sells interestingly flavored pasta in individual portions.

I've been cooking for one for a little over two weeks now, and let me tell you: It is easier to buy groceries for a party of ten then for one. A box of pasta is about 4 meals. Economically, this is fantastic, but do I really want to be eating that much pasta? Not really.

I chose the squid ink pasta because not only did it sound a little badass, but it looked a little badass. I mean, how cool is black pasta? And for $1.25, I figured it was worth it.

The issue then became what to pair the pasta with. I received a good suggestion from my friend Courtney--something with garlic (olive oil, chile flakes, lemon, parsley and few tomatoes, she added). I read up on squid ink and decided seafood might be the best pairing to the pasta. With Prince Edward Island Mussels costing only $2 a pound (compared to $5 for the freshest clams), I decided mussels would be a great acommpainment.

The following recipe is really easy and, again, pretty cheap to reproduce. It is also simply delicious--parsley, butter, garlic and the mussel juices combine to create a light sauce that highlights the seafood undertones of the pasta--and it all combines for you in the oven.

I tried using a really good applewood smoked bacon with the clams, but they didn't cook the whole way through. Despite adding a deeper flavor element, I think you can go without. I'd be anxious to try a cured meet, like prosciutto.

Parsley and Garlic Mussels with Squid Ink Pasta
Based on a recipe from Gourmet, 2000
Serves 1 very hungry boy

1 lb mussels, cleaned
2-3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley. chopped
1/4 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 oz. fresh squid ink pasta

1. Set the butter out to soften. Clean the mussels using a potato scrubber--discard any that are cracked or open. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. Spread mussels in a 13- by 9-inch baking dish. Blend all remaining ingredients to a paste with a whisk. Spoon mixture over mussels (see first photo). Cover tightly with foil and bake in middle of oven until all mussels are open, 12 to 15 minutes (discard any unopened mussels). Meanwhile, boil a small pot of water.
3. Boil pasta for 1.5-2 minutes. Plate pasta, spoon broth from the mussels over the pasta. Plate mussels on top, and spoon on more broth.

The broth is also delicious mopped up with bread.

Friday, May 29, 2009


This is a post dedicated to cauliflower. Note there is no cheese sauce or steaming in this entry.

I took the photo above back on February 10th. It was a roasted cauliflower recipe (though this was before the broccoli recipe, it was the same idea) that went horribly, horribly wrong. The cauliflower was dry and required a great deal of salt just to make it edible. To top it off, I had burnt the rice I made to go with it.

That experience was enough for me to want to take a break from cauliflower forever. But Heidi at 101Cookbooks convinced me to give it another try.

She posted a "Simple Cauliflower Recipe", and I have to say, I am a cauliflower convert. It was flavorful and delicious--oh, and cheap! I've even broken down the prices in the ingredient list (though I did not include prices for staples like olive oil and salt). I may have made out better than most being that I was able to go the West Side Market before closing time today, but I'd guess prices would be similar at other farmer's markers. Also, keep in mind there was plenty of garlic, green onions, and Parmesan cheese left over.

It would make a great side to some roast or grilled chicken breast, despite it being great on its own. I would be curious to toss it with some pasta, too.

Pan-Toasted Cauliflower
Serves 2 to 3 as a side, 1 if you're me

1 medium head of cauliflower ($0.75)
2 Tb olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic ($0.99)
1-2 inches from a bunch of green onions ($0.49)
Zest of one lemon ($0.25)
Grated Parmesan ($0.89)

1. To prep the cauliflower, remove any leaves at the base and trim the stem. Now cut it into tiny trees - and by tiny, I mean most florets aren't much larger than a table grape (listen, I didn't think she was serious either. But the smaller the pieces the better. Use your hands, not your knife, to break apart the florets). Make sure the pieces are relatively equal in size, so they cook in the same amount of time. Rinse under running water, and set aside.

2. Heat the olive oil and a heavy pinch of salt in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot (throw a piece of cauliflower in there at the beginning. When it begins to bubble around it, it's hot enough), add the cauliflower and stir until the florets are coated.

3. Wait until it gets a bit brown on the bottom, then toss the cauliflower with a spatula (No, really, wait! It's hard and you're worried they're burning, but try not to turn them too much). Brown a bit more and continue to saute until the pieces are deeply golden - all told about six minutes. In the last 30 seconds stir in the garlic.

4. Remove from heat and stir in the green onions, lemon zest, and dust with a bit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt. Serve immediately.

Heidi has some great variations on this recipe here, so be sure to check them out. Also, the total cost for this recipe, with ingredients to spare, was $3.37. Let's also not forget that cauliflower is a pretty healthy option, too.

I've been having a great time exploring West Side Market, and you'll be hearing all about the fresh pasta from Ohio City Pasta soon!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Never too warm for soup...right?

Here's another Smitten Kitchen recipe that has been a hit at least twice. If looks as though the meat balls are floating above the cutting board--they're in a glass pyrex. I'm a meatball making pro after making (literally) thousands for Karen Hunter--all in uniform size and shape.

I also admit that it is too warm for soup. I made this soup forever ago, when snow was still a possibility, and kept forgetting to post it. But this soup is delicious and filling--I can barely handle one bowl. And who knows: I have a sweater and a flannel on today. It is kind of cold in Cleveland.

I used Rapunzel vegan bullion cubes instead of the chicken broth, mostly because it's cheaper and still tastes fantastic, however, it's probably also more healthful. I can also never find escarole, and instead decided on spinach, which is just delicious wilted in soup.

Spinach and Orzo Soup with Meatballs
from Smitten Kitchen

1 large egg
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
12 ounces lean ground turkey
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth, or 3-4 Rapunzel Vegan Bullion Cubes (Herb with Sea salt)
1 cup chopped peeled carrots
3/4 cup orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
4 cups baby or chopped spinach (1 bag)

1. Whisk egg and 2 tablespoons water in medium bowl to blend. Mix in breadcrumbs; let stand 5 minutes.
2. Add turkey, Parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper; gently stir to blend. Using wet hands, shape turkey mixture into 1 1/4-inch-diameter meatballs. Place on baking sheet; cover and chill 30 minutes. While you wait, chop the carrots.
3. Bring 8 cups chicken broth/water with bullion cubes to boil in large pot. Add carrots and orzo; reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered 8 minutes.
4. Add turkey meatballs and simmer 10 minutes.
5. Stir in spinach and simmer until turkey meatballs, orzo, and spinach are tender, about 5 minutes longer.
6. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Rewarm over medium heat, thinning with more broth if desired.) Ladle soup into bowls and serve.

Friday, May 22, 2009

I miss fruit picking.

Over the summer, the days I am home are usually built around two questions:

1) Am I working for Karen Hunter?
2) What is Alex doing?

Imagine my bewilderment without either, but especially without Alex, who goes fruit picking with me, helps plans cobbler night, and appreciates a good sock pattern.

So we've started a blog together, here, to catalogue our adventures while we're apart. Both of us will post one to a few photos everyday. Today was day two.

I'm coming back this weekend to deliver a very belated soup recipe, with accompanying matzoh.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Make me a bug.

Today is my first day working at the UCC's national office in Cleveland. I'm really excited about being able to work here--I got on the elevator at one point today and had a moment of "Oh my goodness, this is my life."

I'll be working primarily on myucc, which is the UCC's answer to social networking. We're on myspace, facebook, and twitter, of course, but having our own system will give us the opportunity to start really specialized groups, with their own blogs, and make communication that much more effective and cohesive across the denomination.

But if you've visited the website in the past month or so, you've noticed these bugs all over the website. Of course, the bugs are "theological" in the sense of "All things bright and beautiful/All creatures great and small/All things wise and wonderful/The Lord God made us all". But David Runnion-Bareford, of Biblical Witness Fellowship, had a different take on things:

"Non-UCC friends of ours who believe with some reason that the UCC has long been a bacterial infection in the blood stream of the American church have chimed in with the prophecy in Joel about God’s judgment on an unfaithful people, Joel 1:4, “that which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpillar eaten.” Self-revelation is always an amazing phenomenon, and perhaps the UCC website’s infatuation with the bugs as a self-image is more profound than anyone anticipated?"

Immediately after reading that, I had a different thought:

Dear God, make me a bug. Let me chew like a termite at the structures of oppression and injustice. Help me be like a spider and spin a web that catches joy, hope, and love. Make me like an ant, strong and hardworking in Your name. Amen.

Also, I saw a new poster today that plays with the "UCC" acronym (you know how we love our acronyms...OGM, JWM, PAM, COREM, MRSEJ, CYYAM, PFKAPOC, just to name a few). The one I saw was "Unapologetic Church of Crossdressers". After writing a 15 page paper on drag queens, it warmed my heart to see that.

If you are UCC, you should make my life easier and get on over to the website, sign up for myucc, and explore. Also, check out Schatzi's blog. Sure, Schatzi is a cat, but the blog is hilarious.