Well, I’m snowed in here in Philadelphia with about 15 inches of fluffy white on the ground and it has been GREAT! I’ve spent the whole day taking care of things I’ve been putting off, cleaning, cooking and listening to the Into the Wild soundtrack. Last night, against our better judgment, some friends and I went to our friend Neena’s house for dinner. We traveled through a seemingly empty city, wondering if perhaps we should have just stayed put. But Neena and her roommate, Melissa, had prepared a beautiful feast of roasted chicken, stuffed mushrooms, sesame noodles with greens and a squash and broccoli bread with feta and cheddar (this was so good- note to self: get recipe!) so it was difficult to think practically. It ended up being a lovely evening with good friends, warming food and the inevitable snow ball fight. We walked down to Broad Street to see if we could see City Hall through the snow but it was nowhere in sight. There were so few cars on the road- I love it when the city shuts down. It forces everyone to take a breather, relax and enjoy… until you have to dig your car out!
So, as I was putzing around today, I got a strong craving for more sesame noodles and luckily I had lots of ingredients in the house with which to make them. I only had whole wheat spaghetti noodles in the house, which worked well, but the soba noodles that Neena used were much tastier. Here is the recipe:
1/2 pound of noodles
1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped
3 cups of baby spinach
1″ ginger root, pressed
1 clove garlic, pressed
juice of half a lemon
1/4 c chopped cilantro
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce or liquid aminos
1.5 tablespoons sesame oil
a handful of chopped almonds
Sriracha to taste
Cook noodles in boiling water and add the chopped cauliflower when they have about 5 minutes of cooking time left. Then put the raw spinach into a large mixing bowl. Strain the pasta and cauliflower when cooked and add to spinach. Add the remaining ingredients and toss with tongs until well combined. The heat of the noodles will cook the baby spinach to the perfect consistency. If you use a heartier green such as kale or collards, I would add them to the boiling water about 2 minutes before the noodles are finish cooking. Top with sriracha if you like-I still can’t get enough of that stuff! This is really tasty hot or cold and serves 4 people.
There are always a few things in your pantry that seem to just sit there for months- maybe even a year. Canned tomatoes, kidney beans, tuna fish… At a party over the holidays I hesitantly tried some tuna pate on a cracker. ‘ Tuna pate?’, you ask. ‘Really?’ Well, yes, actually. It’s really quite good. And a great dish to make when you are down to the last items in the pantry. And it’s cold out. And you’re too tired to go to the grocery store.
2 cans tuna fish in olive oil – drained
1.5 tablespoons room temperature butter
1.5 tablespoons cream cheese
1 tablespoon capers
1 teaspoon onion powder
lemon juice to taste
a few dashes of white pepper
a few dashes of paprika
1 dash cayenne pepper
Put all ingredients in a food processor- or use an immersion blender like I did. Process until all ingredients are fully incorporated. This tastes great when eaten immediately on crackers – and even better if you refrigerate for a few hours.
Who needs a drink? If you answered “yes” then chances are that you, like me, sometimes need a drink to take the “edge” off the day (some days have many sharp edges). Here are some of my favorites ways to forget:
St. Germain and Bubbly
2 parts Champagne or Prosecco 1 part St. Germain
Garnish with a slice of strawberry, a red raspberry or do not garnish at all. If you haven’t tried St. Germain- a silky, elegant liquor made of elderflowers- you must! Immediately! You won’t be sorry. It is delicious.
An alternative to this drink would be just to add a few dashes of Angostura Bitters to your bubbly for a certain je ne sais quoi. Really! I don’t know what they put in that stuff because the recipe is secret, but it’s damn good.
Dad’s Fancy Gin & Tonic
1 part Gin – I like Tanqueray or Beefeater Tonic Wedge of Lime Wedge of Orange Fresh Mint Leaves
My dad made this for me once and I’m forever indebted to him for his genius. Pour gin into a glass until it is 1/3 full. Squeeze lime and orange wedge into the gin and add mint leaves. Muddle (pound with spoon) citrus wedges and mint to release the essences into the gin. Add ice and top off glass with tonic water. Stir. Sip. Yummm.
Vodka Spritzer Lite – for the calorie watcher!
1 shot, ok TWO shots of vodka in a nice tall glass selzer or club soda any type of juice- I prefer grapefruit, orange or orangepeachmango (oooh la la!)
Pour the vodka over ice in a nice tall glass. I like Svedka because it’s cheap, tastes good and gets the job done without leaving you with a nasty hangover- but use whatever you’d like. Fill the glass almost to the top with seltzer or club soda. Add a splash of citrusy juice and maybe squeeze a wedge of lime in there too. Guaranteed to do the job quick without too many calories- plus it’s refreshing and dare I say- hydrating! Hey, it’s called seltzer WATER.
Word to the wise: Be safe when you drink. Drink at home and make your friends come to you!
Frittatas are another great way to use up the veggies in your kitchen. You can easily customize them to your preferences. My favorite combinations always include fresh herbs and goat cheese. I love to slice potatoes or sweet potatoes and fry them with a slice or two of bacon and some chopped garlic and onions. The addition of potatoes makes your frittata a bit heartier and more like a spanish tortilla-yummmmm. Then I add whatever other veggies I have on hand- such as zucchini, squash, spinach, kale (once I even used spaghetti squash!) and sauté until tender. Season the veggies with salt, pepper and fresh thyme or basil. Whisk some eggs and pour over the veggies. Arrange the veggies evenly in the egg mixture and cook on the stove top until the bottom of the frittata is firm (the top will still be wet). Top with some crumbled goat cheese (or whatever cheese you like) and thinly sliced tomatoes if you’d like. Then pop under the broiler until the top is bubbly and lightly browned. This will happen very quickly- some say to leave your hand on the oven handle when you are using the broiler, to resist the urge to go do something else and forget about your beautiful frittata as it quickly turns into a burnt mess that ruins your favorite pan… sigh… I loved that pan…
Top with more fresh herbs and enjoy. Great for brunch or dinner!
Long time no post, eh? Many things have happened over the past few months, including a move, out-of-town visitors and the holidays. Let’s try this again, shall we? Since my last post I have done quite a bit of cooking, entertaining and consuming but sadly, no picture-taking. In the past two months I have mastered a Jamie Oliver beef stew recipe, Moroccan spiced roasted chicken and new (lighter handed) cocktail mixing. Unfortunately, all I have to show you is this dinky photo of a meal made many, many meals ago. I really don’t even remember the specifics of how I did it. My sister made the chicken, consisting of chicken breast and sliced apples, coated with fresh rosemary, grapeseed oil and salt and pepper, baked off in the oven. Simple and delicious. My contribution was the polenta, made freshly after discovering Mark Bittman’s New York Times blog. I remember using whole milk, freshly grated parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and cornmeal. I topped it with kale sautéed with onions and garlic, which complemented the creamy, savory polenta very nicely. In recent history, cooking has become a creative outlet that I was not expecting. I resolve to post my triumphs here more regularly. Here’s to resolutions made hastily before the calendar flips to February!
I love spicy food — at any time of the day. One of my favorite breakfast combinations involves salsa, eggs and cheese. Ordering huevos rancheros when you are out for brunch in Philly will run you about $9. Making it at home is much cheaper and it’s very easy. I whipped up this breakfast in under 7 minutes.
1/4 c red beans
1 tsp. olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon sour cream or greek yogurt
1/4 c shaved sharp cheddar
as much salsa and guacamole as you like
Heat up the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Slice the garlic into very thin slices. Toss them in the pan with the beans and cook until the beans start to split, tossing frequently. Crack both eggs over the beans and allow to cook until the whites start to get firm. Add some freshly cracked black pepper. Top with a few tablespoons of salsa. I like my yolks runny but feel free to cook longer or flip them. While the eggs are cooking, shave the cheese on top with a grater or microplane. Once the cheese melts, just transfer to a plate, top with guacamole or freshly sliced avocado and sour cream or yogurt and enjoy.