Sunday, September 14, 2008

Two Quick Dinners

Renovation and the beginning of a new semester have been keeping me from being ambitious in the kitchen. I'll admit it. I've gotten pizza more than a couple times in the last month or so. But dammit, I'm busy! You can't even SEE my counter top, so I sure don't feel like prepping anything. That said, I've found the time to cook some really satisfying meals with very little work thanks to a few choice ingredients from the market and a well-stocked pantry.

These dishes are a great illustration of how easy a tasty simple dinner can be if you keep your pantry and fridge full of staples and have a little creativity.

Easy Eggs

I am embarrassed to show this photo to the world, but this is a good illustration of the state of my kitchen since we started painting the cabinets.

You can see the makings of a simple supper here. (Oh, and two beers. And two Diet Cokes. Guess whose is whose.)

I keep the little containers of egg substitute on hand. They are already portioned into these little cups, and they have around 60 calories and a whopping 10 grams of protein, and no fat. I had a leftover tomato from farmer's market and some sliced red onion from sandwiches earlier this week. A basic breakfast for me is wheat toast with neufchatel, so I always have that around, too. So, all this stuff leads to some really easy and fast scrambled eggs.

Saute the onions and tomatoes. mmmmmm...

Pour in the egg substitute and let it firm up a bit. (See that random utensil I'm using? That's the best I could find at this point. Don't judge.)

Stir it up lightly, maintaining the curds of eggs, and pull from heat before it looks finished. Alton Brown said it best. If it looks done in the pan, it'll be overdone on the plate. Eggs shouldn't be brown and crunchy, they should be soft and creamy. (Many say that to be a great chef one must master water, salt, and eggs.)
I topped mine with a dollop of neufchatel. Because it's good.

Next up on the quick dinner menu is the good ol' standard; the quesadilla.

Spicy Chicken Quesadilla

Usually when I make this, I chop up the chicken first because it cooks more evenly. But on this particular night, I was not feeling the whole cleaning-up-chicken-mess thing, so I simply tossed a little oil and some spices into the plastic bag the was in before throwing it on a hot cast-iron pan.

I don't measure spices for things like this, but I threw in chili powder, ground cumin, onion powder, salt, pepper, and Old Bay. (You might know Old Bay for its use with seafood, but it's AWESOME with poultry)
When cooking a think piece of meat in a pan like this, use a cover to manipulate the heat in the pan. (This is my secret for a perfect medium rare steak. I kept this pan covered most of the time with a sheet pan, and it was juicy and perfectly browned. If you don't cover the pan, the outside will be burnt before the inside is finished. Covering the pan produces steam. When you do this, you cook with direct and indirect heat.)

Shred your juicy chicken breast once it cools enough to handle. Put one half of a tortilla down into a pan with hot oil. Cover this with cheese and any fillings. In this case, the chicken and roasted peppers and onions, also leftover from the sandwiches.

Cover. Flip.

Serve with homemade refried black beans. Yes you should make your own. It's so easy, and it isn't made with lard. And it tastes a million times better.

Homemade Refried Black Beans

In oil, fry
2 cloves minced garlic
Keep moving until really fragrant, but NOT browned, maybe a minute.
Then, add 1. can of black beans, drained of most, but not all of the liquid.

Then throw in all the spices you used on the chicken: cumin, onion powder, Old Bay, salt and pepper.

Use your potato masher to mash them, while on medium heat, to the desired consistency.

Serve the quesedillas with salsa and the beans.

(Cooking late at night, another symptom of my busy schedule, results in crappy blog photos. Sorry :( )

So let this be a lesson to you: you can have a FILTHY kitchen and a million things going on, but that's no excuse for skipping cooking dinner. Each of these dishes took less than 15 minutes of prep time, and are (mostly) healthy.

So go cook dinner! And take a walk! It's FALL!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Omnivore's Hundred

I'm finally catching up to the rest of the food blogging world and filling out this list. The idea is to explore how many of these important foodstuffs you've managed to experience, and to set some goals for future consumption.
Here goes!

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.


The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (Hellooo Amana rhubarb wine. ick)
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries (raspberries from my yard count, right?)
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper (What idiot eats this raw? I use a whole uncut one in my rice and peas recipe and can actually TASTE it. I'm counting that.)
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas (actually I'm not the biggest fan)
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (this one is next)
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal If it's on the buffet at India cafe, I've eaten it. A lot of it.
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more (Timmy and I will have to work on this one. The highest we've gone is around $50)
46. Fugu (WHAT?! Where am I supposed to eat this? I don't want to die)
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel (::::droooool::::)
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut (hot from the oven. god bless that sign)
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi (after reading what this is I really, really want some)
53. Abalone
54. Paneer - yumyumyum
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle God bless the Amanas.
57. Dirty gin martini Extra olives, please.
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine (Oh my GOD I have to have this. Fries. With gravy. And cheese curds.)
60. Carob chips (Blech. silly vegans)
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin (? clay? really?)
64. Currywurst
65. Durian Oh yes, I've eaten the fruit of a durian. Lets just say it tastes like it smells. Like rotting garbage.
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe The real stuff, thanks to Jay Holstein. :)
74. Gjetost, or brunost Yes, and it's disturbing.
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu (I need this)
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong (I also need this)
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab Fried. On a sandwich. OMG.
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano yes, blech.
96. Bagel and lox In NYC, no less! I make my own, too.
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Well that about sums up my life. I have so much eating left to do.
How about YOU?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Simple (White) Supper

Lately my new house, especially my kitchen, has been disrupted by the ongoing (i.e. slow. really slow.) renovation process in recent days. (weeks)
I am managing to cook a bit, but only super simple stuff. Thank goodness that fall is just barely reaching us, and there's still a bounty of food to be had at farmer's market. Here's the basic and tasty dinner that turned out to be a color study.

A Simple (White) Supper

I work within walking distance of my home and a local co-op that carries good produce and bakes solid artisans breads. I am lucky. Occasionally I have the happy pleasure of strolling into the co-op on my way home from work and grab a couple simple things to help use up the stuff I have at home.

On this particular evening I had fingerling potatoes left from Wednesday's market (I never pass up fingerlings when I see them. The ones I find run on the waxy side, very much like Yukon Gold, or red new potatoes. They're so nice roasted or boiled whole.)

I had also bought three heads of garlic at market. I use garlic almost every time I cook, and the stuff from market is so much more pungent than what you get at the grocery store, so I stock up. I'd already cracked into the first head, so I tried to use up the other two for something interesting.

At the co-op, we grabbed a loaf of crusty but chewy bread and a big sweet onion, with no particular plan in mind.

Behold: a potato family of baby and mama seals and penguins.

Ok, seriously, here's what they became:

Roasted Garlic

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Sweet Onions With Fresh Rosemary and Oregano

Bread with Garlic, Olive oil, and s&p

(I crush a couple cloves of garlic and simmer them in olive oil on really low heat. Then I brush the oil between the slices of bread with salt and fresh pepper, wrap the whole thing up in foil and throw it in the oven until it's hot and delish)

Supper. Easy.

Now get outside while you still can!!
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