Our family's journey to the heart of a handmade life

Tag: supper

Bacon Fried Rice

Bacon Fried Rice

     I always seem to leave myself in the lurch when it comes to lunch. As it’s just two of us (eating solid food, that is), there are always leftovers lurking somewhere in the fridge, so that’s what we usually do. Except when there’s […]

Indian Spiced Cream of Carrot and Ginger Soup

Indian Spiced Cream of Carrot and Ginger Soup

Today, I cleaned. And cleaned. And cleaned some more. Bathrooms, kitchen, dusting, vacuuming. You name it, I probably cleaned it. If my house were glass, it would be invisible by now.     Friday is cleaning day. I love having certain days be devoted to […]

Meatless Friday

Meatless Friday

Being an old-school Catholic, I do not eat meat on Fridays. It’s a tradition, and like Tevye says in Fiddler on the Roof, Traditions, traditions. Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as… as… as a fiddler on the roof!He also proclaims As the good book says, if you spit in the air, it lands in your face,” which is also quite sound advice.
Whether vegetarian, vegan, Catholic or just budget-conscious, people seem to be all about the meatless lately. There are even semi-radical films such as Foodmatters that condemn eating meat, citing it as the cause of many illnesses. Whatever the reason, I think it’s a good idea to have a solid repertoire of meat-free dishes. They are usually super quick to put together, making them ideal for those busy weeknights or lazy afternoons.
I don’t seem to be very good at keeping up with regular posts, but this is one I think I could handle. Every Friday/Saturday morning, I will be posting a meatless meal. It will usually be whatever I ate for dinner that night, but as I have certain dishes on regular rotation, I may stray from that once in a while.   
Tonight, I made quiche. Simple and filling, quiche is sort of magical. Appropriate for breakfast, lunch, or dinner? Check. On the table in less than an hour? Check. Can be served hot, room-temp, or cold? Check. No need for a recipe? Check. Able to accommodate those awkwardly small containers of leftovers in the fridge? Check. Definitely made of magic? Double check.
I don’t think I have ever made the same quiche twice. Its ability to adapt and conform to any circumstance makes the choices nearly infinite. My favorite quiches (is that a word, or is it like fish, which can’t be pluralized?) involve bacon, but even that leaves tons of wiggle room. Tonight’s incarnation was born from necessity. I had a bag of mushrooms about to go, a pepper nearing its wrinkly end, and a marathon pie crust session this afternoon (I like to make a bunch of crusts at once and freeze them.) After all was said and done, I even had enough of the veggie mix leftover for pizza tomorrow night. 
 
Quiche follows a very simple formula: 1/3c liquid for every egg. For an 8-inch pie crust, use 1c liquid and 3 eggs. For a 9-inch crust, 1 1/3c liquid, 4 eggs. The liquid could be milk, half and half, cream, or a mixture of the three. Add salt and pepper to taste and you are golden. The possibilities for additions are endless: ground beef and tomatoes, bacon and onions, tomato, basil, and mozzarella. Just make sure not to overcook it, and you’ve got creamy, velvety goodness every time. See, I told you. Magic
 
 
 
 
Mushroom, Pepper and Onion Quiche
 
1 9″ pie crust (I use Martha Stewart’s pate brisee)
 
1 yellow onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
Approx. 1lb white mushrooms, or 4-5 cups, halved then sliced into 1/4″ pieces
2 tbl butter
2 tbl oil
4 eggs
1 1/3 cup whole milk
Salt and pepper
 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
 
Bake crust for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool while you make the filling. Turn oven up to 400 degrees.
 
Heat butter and 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook until lightly golden brown. Season with a little salt, remove from pan and set aside. 
 
In same skillet, add remaining tablespoon oil and set over medium-high heat. Add pepper and onion, season with salt, and cook until onion is translucent and the pepper is just beginning to brown. Remove and add to mushrooms. 
 
Whisk together the eggs and milk, season with salt and pepper to taste. I used about 1 teaspoon kosher salt and about 8-9 turns of the pepper grinder. 
 
Spread half of the vegetable mixture onto the bottom of the pie crust. Pour the egg mixture on top. You may have a little egg mixture left over, and that’s okay. 
 
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Turn oven down to 375 degrees and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes. You want to bake the quiche just until the center no longer wiggles. 
 
Let the quiche cool for 5-10 minutes before serving. 
 
 
 
Carrots with Ginger and Shallots

Carrots with Ginger and Shallots

I love cooking without a recipe. There’s such a thrill in making something wonderful with a jumble of ingredients you happen to have on hand. I love peering into the crisper drawer and poking around spice cabinet, playing around with flavors in my head until […]

Weeknight rhythm

Weeknight rhythm

Lately, I seem to be having more and more “uh-oh” moments regarding dinner. You know the scene: you get home from work, tired and fuzzy-headed. You slip into some comfortable, around-the-house clothes (known affectionately as cozies ‘round these parts), grab a glass of wine, and […]

Drum roll, please

Drum roll, please

Today I have two announcements, and another recipe keeping with my unintentionally citrus theme.

First off, I am proud to finally cross number 16 off my list Thirty Things to do Before Thirty; I have quit smoking. This is such an amazing feeling, I can hardly describe it. I’ve been ready to quit for a long time, I almost can’t believe I actually did it. I’d shout it from the rooftops, but I’m afraid someone might mistake me for Charlie Sheen and have me committed.

Second, I got a new job! I will finally be rid of the stress and frustration inherent in a call center position: the angry clients, the repetition, the cubicles. In one week (the longest week of my life, I think) I begin a new life as a retail associate for a local candy shop. Some may consider it a step down the career ladder, but I see more as a step up the staircase of sanity.
Now, for this risotto. Because it really is all about the risotto. Even at its most basic, with nothing but pearly Arborio rice, chicken stock, and a little salt, the result is so creamy, so savory, so absolutely ideal that no one should leave this earth without experiencing it. Now throw in a few ripe limes, a couple tart grapefruit segments, a bit of coconut milk, and a handful of curried walnut crumbs, and you’ve got yourself risotto that’s ready for a night on the town. Tangy, a little sweet, and with a light crunch, this dish is marvelous served with seafood, such as shrimp or crab meat. To be honest, I initially had this with a roasted chicken, and the flavors just did not meld. The smoky chicken was too heavy for the brightness of the rice. Seafood is definitely the way to go.
Risotto has a bad reputation for being a difficult, time-consuming dish that isn’t worth the trouble for the average home cook. This is true for some, but mostly false. Yes, it takes a while, maybe forty minutes or so. Yes, you have to stir it quite a bit, once every few minutes. But instead of being intimidated or griping about it, remember: this is real food, not Kraft Mac & Cheese. Would you forgo pot roast because it takes a few hours? Are cookies right out, too, because they take forever to roll into all those little balls? We acknowledge that these things take time and effort, and that it is entirely worth it. On the flip side, if you are the type to purchase the tubes of pre-made, pre-sliced cookies from the supermarket, this may not be for you after all. (Please don’t take offense! I am just making a general assumption that people who purchase pre-made or pre-prepared food typically a) don’t have a lot of free time, or b) cooking isn’t their forte.) So throw on your favorite cooking music (mine is Rosemary Clooney, what’s yours?), make your husband bring the laptop in the kitchen to keep you company, and get stirring!

Citrus Risotto with Curried Walnuts
Adapted from Zuni Café Cookbook
6 servings

This particular recipe does have a few extra steps, but keep in mind that they can all be done together. While the rice is simmering on the stove, you can be paring the citrus and roasting the walnuts, so that everything is ready at the right moment. The walnuts themselves are from the hors d’ouevre section of Joy of Cooking, but surprisingly, I found them a little bland for general munching. Twice roasted and run through a food processor though, they take on a smoky, complex flavor that serves to balance the risotto’s citrus notes quite nicely.

Quality is always an important factor, but for recipes like this where a few ingredients really need to shine, quality becomes quite necessary. The citrus should be very ripe, or else they will be too bitter, and the chicken stock should be homemade, if possible.

½- ¾ cup grapefruit segments (about 1-2 medium)
¼ cup lime segments (1- 3, depending on size)
(Cut the above fruit over a bowl, and reserve the juice that is accumulated)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup yellow onion, finely diced
2 cups Arborio rice
3 ½ – 5 cups chicken stock
¼ cup cream cheese
Curried Walnuts, to taste (see recipe below)
Salt

In a 4 quart saucepan (which I don’t have, so I just used my pasta pot) melt the butter over medium-low heat, add the onions and a generous pinch of salt. Cook onions until translucent, then add the rice. Cook a few minutes more, until the rice is coated with the butter and warmed through.

Add 2 cups chicken stock, and adjust heat so the liquid gently simmers. Stir frequently until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add another cup of stock, stirring again until almost entirely absorbed. At this point, you’ll want to taste it and add salt if necessary. Add another ½ cup stock, keep on stirring.

Break up the segments of grapefruit and lime into bite-sized chunks and add to the rice along with the reserved juice. Continue to cook rice as above, adding a ¼ cup stock until rice is al dente or desired consistency. Adjust salt as necessary. Once the rice is done, stir in the cream cheese. No need to be gentle here; a rough stir will help break up the citrus.

Serve immediately.

Curried Walnuts

1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
2 cups shelled walnuts

Preheat oven to 315 degrees.

Combine first 4 ingredients in a skillet and cook over medium-high heat until very hot.

Add walnuts, and stir until fully coated. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes or until crisp.

Cool completely, then place in the bowl of your food processor and pulse until it resembles coarse crumbs.

Spread back on the baking sheet and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until golden brown.

Black beans and rice

Black beans and rice

  It was a dark and snowy Tuesday night. The temperature outside had dropped to five below; even the moon was taking refuge behind a layer of heavy clouds. The day had been nearly impossible, with angry customers and bosses and bureaucracy closing in on […]

Belgian Leek Tart with Aged Goat Cheese (Flamiche Aux Poireaux)

Belgian Leek Tart with Aged Goat Cheese (Flamiche Aux Poireaux)

Today I want to talk about one of my favorite things: leeks. I fell in love with leeks the moment we met, on a cool autumn day back in October 2008. I was preparing to make a flamiche aux poireaux, or Belgian leek tart, from that […]

Roasted Tomatoes and Red Peppers with Cheddar and Basil

Roasted Tomatoes and Red Peppers with Cheddar and Basil

Happy belated voting day!
After work last night, my husband and I drove straight to Sherwood High School and cast our ballots. It felt good, really good. The build up to this election was tremendous, with such epic referendums as same-sex marriage and TBOR, and awaiting the results was unbearable. The term ‘nail-biting’ comes to mind.
I won’t get into the politics of it, though I will say that I am mostly pleased with the outcome. Political opinions are heavy and should not be tossed haphazardly. Most discussions on the subject are simply battles of wit, and have no intention of productivity, from either side. People lash out their ideas with such force that opponents have no option but to retaliate with something stronger, smarter, more apt to sting. These ‘discussions’ are initially aimed a gaining ‘understanding’ of the other side; hearts beating proudly on sleeves, hands itching to be held, and arms eagerly outstretched, poised for a beautiful group hug.
This is a show. A big circus act with elephants, clowns, and bearded ladies, beckoning you inside. There you will sit, audience to an onslaught of regurgitated facts and op-ed quotes as they parade around with the trained little monkeys and piglets in tutus. Afterward, when you’re crying and frustrated, angry and disillusioned, the circus can pack up and drive away, claiming with a wave of the hand that you are just too close-minded to appreciate such modern, worldly attractions.
This is why I don’t argue politics. And I hate clowns.
Anyway. In honor of this momentous day, I give you a patriotic dish. And by patriotic, I mean it’s red, white and blue. Kind of. It’s on a blue plate. But hey, I’m tryin’ here!
Roasted Tomatoes and Red Peppers with Cheddar and Basil
This is extraordinarily easy, and can be made days in advance. Just cook the peppers and tomatoes and throw them in the fridge. When it comes time to serve, top with the cheese and put them under the broiler. I served this over basmati rice and it was delicious.
This can be made for any size crowd, with any amount of tomatoes and peppers.
red bell peppers, sliced
tomatoes, quartered, or halved if on the small side, and seeds removed
dried basil
kosher Salt
pepper (I like pepper mélange, a blend of black, white, pink (Schinus species), and green peppercorns.)
white cheddar cheese, shredded
extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 315 degrees F
Toss tomatoes in olive oil, just to coat. Sprinkle tops with basil, salt and pepper, and toss to coat. 
Spread tomatoes, skin side down, in a single layer in a baking dish lined with heavy duty aluminum foil. 
Bake for approximately 3 hours, or until melted-looking and lightly crisp around the edges. Increase oven temperature to 320 degrees after two hours.
Meanwhile, in a large pan, cook the red pepper in olive oil over medium/medium-low heat until soft, about 20 minutes.
When tomatoes are done, remove from the oven and preheat broiler on high. Add the red peppers to the baking dish and cover with a generous amount of cheese. Cook under broiler for about 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted and browned in spots.
Enjoy on rice, pasta, chopped and mixed into an omelet, on top of a toasted baguette…be creative!
“He knows nothing; and he thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.” George Bernard Shaw
“The less government we have the better – the fewer laws and the less confided power. The antidote to this abuse of formal government is the influence of private character, the growth of the individual.” Ralph Waldo Emerson