Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

I adore the flavor of lamb.

Once Erin served me some kind of homemade lamb meatball in a homemade pita (she must reveal her secret bread-making strategy to you soon) and I almost wept. Something about these mid-eastern flavors just hit me in the right place. I can’t get enough. That memory was the inspiration for this quick lunch idea.

Here is what I did:

1. Sautéed garlic and sliced onion in olive oil.

2. Added ground lamb that I had seasoned generously with:



dried oregano

lots of salt and pepper (I think the meat in this dish should be really salty and flavorful).

3. While that was browning away I made the cucumber yogurt sauce by combining:

diced cucumber, not using the seedy parts

greek yogurt

salt and pepper

4. Then I sliced a few radishes and shaved a carrot because – why not?

5. I popped store-bought pita into the oven to warm.

6. By the time the lamb was done I heaped everything into the warm pita and silently thanked Erin for her inspiration.

I didn’t have any mint on hand but you could add mint to the meat mixture or to the yogurt dressing or just torn mint straight onto the sandwich before biting into it. That would be a good move.


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Chicken dishes are often blah. Home cooks are ridiculed for routinely turning out chicken dish after chicken dish for weeknight suppers. The super star chef Jose Andres in a recent 60 minutes interview went so far as to call meat “boring” and fruits and vegetables “sexy.” He pointed out that meat releases all its flavor after you take the first bite and then you are left with nothing but chewing and chewing and chewing.

This chicken dish by Suzanne Goin is one that no one will complain about. Goin’s restaurant Lucques (one of several) and the namesake cookbook Sunday Suppers at Lucques are stellar.

The recipe: Chicken Paillards with Parmesan Breadcrumbs, Escarole, Capers, and Rosemary.

Last time I cooked this was for an impromtu visit from my dear friend and college roommate. We chatted and pounded those chicken breasts into submission. It was a lovely evening: My younger brother is old enough to join us around the table for a glass of wine and watching him share a laugh with the woman with whom I shared most of my adventures when I was his age made my heart soar. Rounding out the party was my husband Mr. Order Envy and our dear friends from our new married life together – Erin and her husband. My brother announced that this was the best meal he had eaten in 2010! Gotta love campus food.

For dessert I served a lemon tart that was way too runny due to the breakage of my instant read thermometer. Delicious nonetheless. More spoonable than forkable. I think a bowl of cherries or a cobbler might be the perfect dessert this week.

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For those of you that may not be as familiar with eating dessert for breakfast as Amanda seemed to be in her post the other day… I would propose this: Bake a strawberry cobbler with butter cookie topping. Serve four small portions for dessert on Thursday, cover with plastic wrap, hide carefully in the fridge and then, Friday morning take the cobbler out of the fridge right when you wake up. Make a cup of tea. Eat remaining cobbler. Delight in the world.

Strawberry Cobbler with Sugar Cookie Topping
adapted from The Best Recipe

For filling:

3 pints fresh or 36 ounces frozen strawberries

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For topping:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch salt

8 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg yolk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Wash berries and hull. Leave whole unless large, in which case cut in half. If using frozen, just proceed with recipe. Combine filling ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Scrape with a rubber spatula into a pie plate and cover with foil. Place on baking sheet in the oven. Bake 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Beat butter and sugar in medium bowl until light and fluffy, 1 minute with electric mixer (3 minutes if by hand). Beat in egg yolk and vanilla until smooth. Stir in dry ingredients by hand until just combined.

After the fruit has baked for the 15 minutes, remove from oven and take away foil. Stir the fruit to mix. Drop cookie topping onto the fruit by the tablespoon evenly over the fruit, though it will not be completely covered. Return pie plate to cookie sheet in the oven, bake 40 minutes until the topping is browned and fruit is bubbly. Cool at least 10 minutes before serving. Can stay at room temperature for several hours and reheated just before serving, however, I prefer it at room temp.

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Dear Lunch,

I hate you. I really, really do. I know I shouldn’t use that word, but it’s true. Lately I just feel unprepared for you, before I open my eyes in the morning I often think “Oh no, I forgot about lunch!”.

It hasn’t always been like this, remember that year we had turkey and avocado sandwiches every day? Or those months and months of yummy chopped salads? I’m ready to get back to that.

It’s just that there’s so much that stands between us now like my want for less meat in my life. And I know I’m not the only one that has posed restrictions on you, like that guy I’m married to that lives here, that wants to take you everyday too. He has his own criteria… things need to be ready to eat, there can’t be any assembly required. Then I start to worry that if man I’m married to and I procreate that there’ll be a whole house full of people with their own criteria that will benefit from taking you too and I will lose my mind. Does it have to be like this?

Perhaps having a system in place, would make it easier for us to come to terms. I mean, you have so many benefits when you are made at home! You make us more healthful (if not by quality, by quantity- eating out the portions are huge!). You save us money. And, my favorite, you save time (by working through lunch, I am able to leave earlier and spend more time at home). So, I’m going to propose a truce. The freezer, who has offered to act as mediator suggested buying more food containers for freezing and storing food in a variety of sizes like these (glass is ideal for reheating). Packing leftovers into individual containers will make them handy.

The refrigerator thought that pre-washing greens, stored in gallon size storage bags and making a salad dressing each Sunday stored in a squeeze bottle would make it easy to grab the basics of a salad. Toppings could be from the pantry like nuts, seeds and dried cherries. Pre-cutting cauliflower and broccoli into florets would be helpful. Fruit would make it great like apples or strawberries. Add cheese (like goat, blue or feta) and avocado if possible. This plan will work well for me but not for Mr. Readymade. This solution for him is a multitier system:

First, I will write out this list twice, one copy with basic ingredients written out will go in my farmers market pouch, the other with specific quantities and instructions will go in the spice drawer where I keep recipes for quick reference.

-Egg Salad Sandwich like this one or this one.
-Waldorf Salad like this one wrapped in a tortilla.
-Brie Sandwich- Place sliced brie on good bread with arugula and sliced figs or apples. (This is very good and versatile.)

Second, I will make a list of snacks that add to nutritional diversity and can be a perfect supplement to leftovers or a small sandwich (and help with the mid-morning/late-afternoon hunger). My current favorites are:

-Mighty Bars (a homemade granola-like nut-seed bar). I’ll post a recipe soon.
-Dates stuffed with a dollop of almond or peanut butter. (Alternatively, dates could also be stuffed with an almond and a little blue cheese.)
-Vegetables like cauliflower, carrots and broccoli. Again, pre-cut on market day and packed in serving size baggies.

Third, I will spend one day a month making something that can be frozen and taken out in a pinch.

-Chili, like this one is a classic.
-Split Pea Soup, like this.

Lastly, I will treat myself with a little forgiveness. Eating out once and awhile isn’t so bad.

This is the first draft of my terms, I look forward to your reply.


P.S. I love it when you make my co-workers jealous.

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The Nest

My parents have this thing about their nest:
it’s empty.
Not empty of love or of social activity or belongings… It’s empty of children. And children, no matter how old, can cause a centric force when present. Being void of that has allowed them to pursue new frontiers. For my dad, that’s cooking.
Tom had exactly three dishes in his repetoire up until about three years ago. They were: oatmeal (that he would leave by the vat for us on cold mornings with butter and brown sugar sitting on the counter), fried eggs with toast (that I still crave today, soaking with butter) and an interesting dish called Martin Spaghetti (named for his home town). Martin Spaghetti consisted of browned ground beef, tomato sauce and a little sugar to give it a strange but comforting sweetness. Growing up, my mom handled the main dish casserole department though Tom always came through with the grilling. Sides were still my mom’s responsibility. (His grilling, however, was quite spectacular.) This is what I knew of my parents, what I understood of them and their relationship with one another. Dad- meat, mom- everything else. Until three years ago.
Now, Tom is known to decide on a recipe and dedicate a whole day to it’s preparation. While my mom seems to prefer her recent liberation from the obligations of the ravenous children Tom has found something new between the stove and even the oven… that the confines of an interior kitchen seem to agree with him.
Last weekend he put in the request for a beef sautee (that includes broccoli, which I thought until now to be a forbidden vegetable to my father). My mom dutifully shopped buying such exotic things as snow peas and hoisin sauce. The production even involved an emailed photo to yours truly (with the caption “your dad wants to be on your blog”) from two people who up until now professed to not understand how the whole uploading-downloading of photos actually occurred comes this:

And all I have to say is: Go, dad, go!! To all those that think that cooking is for people that “know” something more than those that don’t cook… have a look here and know that anything is possible for those that want to pursue something beyond what they already “know”.

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