Archive for Dinner

Spring Break Recap

I decided to stay on-campus for break to get some work done.  I didn’t get any done, and now I regret not going anywhere this year :[  But we did eat pretty well.

I made (from L to R, row 1 then 2):

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Dear Quick Fixes…Sorta,

This week was midterms week part 1 which meant that spending more than 45 minutes on making dinner would be just stupid.  So I tried to stick to some quick and easy recipes, which these all are for the most part.  Well…except for the shrimp; it’s not that they’re difficult to make but I had to stand there and flip the shrimp, not to mention cooking them in batches.

The first thing I made this week was polenta.  I used 1/2 cup of polenta for two people.  My method of cooking polenta is to boil about half a pot of water, then whisk in the polenta.  I’ve never been able to get the no-stir polenta recipes to work without a whole mess of it sticking to the bottom.  So I stood there and whisked for about 20 minutes while I read for my 20th century American politics class.  Multi-tasking!  I topped it off with some blue cheese, a fried egg, and some pancetta!

The second is coconut fried shrimp with spicy chilli mayo from Steamy Kitchen yet again.  It wasn’t super fast but I was craving coconut shrimp (I used to get my fix from the former Swish but ever since they became Vine, they don’t have this dish).  It was so so so delicious and if Obama was my friend, I’d make it for him.  The spicy mayo was good too but I also added some blended sundried tomatoes!

The last one is from the fail-proof Gourmet magazine: oven-fried panko chicken.  This was easily the best non-roast chicken I’ve made at home and easy to boot!  You just coat the chicken (I used all breasts) in softened, seasoned butter; roll them in panko crumbs; and bake for about 30 minutes at 450 degrees.  It is so quick and super delicious!  Substituting the  butter for the egg is really brilliant because it makes the crust super light and airy like real fried chicken would be (I promise you won’t be able to tell that it’s baked because it’s sooo crunchy).

I’ll loved all three meals but the Gourmet recipe wins!  It was simple, delicious, crunchy, and super juicy.

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Dear Blog with the Not-So-Good Pictures (aka this one),

Today was my belated Valentine’s Day gift to Alex (who also happened to receive some amazing news today)!  Although I had initially planned on making crab cakes and lobster rolls, I frankly did not want to make the trek down to Whole Foods in my bought-from-a-kid’s-shoe-store-embarrassingly-bright-red rainboots.  So instead, I made Spicy Shrimp with Bleu Cheese Sauce (shrimp disguised as hot wings); it had great great flavor and perhaps it’s because I decided to follow the Steamy Kitchen way and leave the shells on when I cooked them.  Seriously what kind of picture is this?!  It’s sooo weird…I should think before I push the button on the camera.

I made another appetizer, Shiitake Mushroom Bread Pudding which was deeelicious!  I love bread puddings in any shape and form, and this one was no exception.  But I think what really made it great was its being paired with the spicy shrimp; something needed to undercut the unctuousness of 1/2 cup of heavy cream, cheese, and shiitakes.

For the main, I took inspiration from Steamy Kitchen (but eschewed the veggies she uses) to make Fish en Papillote.  I made this not just b/c it’s so easy to clean up but because I also like the idea of a gift/surprise that comes with this dish.  I also took a lot of liberty with this recipe, omitting the tomatoes and garlic and added in bloodred oranges (so delicious).  It was a nice, clean tasting contrast to the appetizers and very light (which was good b/c the bread pudding was very heavy).

All in all, it was fast (met my under 1 hr. 30 min. rule), delicious, and cheap ($16 for the fish, shrimp, shiitakes, bleu cheese, and lemons).

Some links:

(Recipes) My favorite bread puddings:
Arugula, Bacon, and Gruyere (so delicious, highly recommended)
Pumpkin Bread Pudding (also highly recommended)

(Videos) How to…
Make a healthier version of this dish
Butterfly shrimp

Also on a random note: Columbia be nerdy.  Geesh I went into Butler to work for 2 hours, and it was as full as ever.  It was a Snow Day for goodness sakes!

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Dear Funny People,

WARNING: no actual cooking was done for this post.

The storytellers I love best are the funny ones and so instead of reading in a chronological manner, I picked my way through Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant, choosing based on how funny I knew or predicted these authors to be.

Jonathan Ames’ piece on getting food poisoning from cooking bad eggs was hilarious and reminded me of the terrible gastroenteritis of 2009.  Thanks to health services I was left antibiotic-less for a week, and I was pretty sure I would die a very 19th century death as a result of my bowels exploding from all the inflammation.  TMI?  Perhaps.  But I’m still very mad at health services for this.  It is almost impossible to mistaken gastroenteritis for hernia symptoms and yet…they still did.

The other piece I really enjoyed was Ben Karlin’s (of Jon Steward/Stephen Colbert stock).  A quotation that had me cracking up like a mad person: “[My parent’s divorce] forced me to get comfortable working solo in the kitchen at age fifteen.  Early forays included: (2) Boiling rice in a non-Pyrex glass pot and watching it explode all over the kitchen (grains of which would be discovered in an adjacent room five years later, when the house was sold).  Lesson learned: exploding glass is scary.”

Since his was my favorite piece (or is so far), I wanted to make the recipe he contributed (this isn’t a cookbook though, plenty of authors don’t share a recipe): salsa rosa.  But because it requires half a pint of heavy cream per person, I decided to hold off making it until I could fulfill the last step of his recipe: “run a marathon the next day”!

The Recipe (on page 99 of Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant)

1 Serving
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 small zucchini, sliced (optional)
3 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 box Pomi diced tomatoes, around 20 ounces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 pint heavy cream
1/3 cup parmigiano cheese, grated
1/3 pound dry pasta
s&p to taste

-heat the oil over medium heat in a medium saucepan
-add garlic and cook till just brown
-add zucchini and cook, till yellowish
-add the fresh and boxed tomatoes
-lower heat a bit and cook until all the tomatoes start breaking down
-add the butter, cheese, and cream in batches.  make sure to reduce it on low heat.
-boil and strain pasta.  toss with a little olive oil.
-pour the salsa rosa over the pasta.  mix.  eat it.
-run a marathon the next day.

Also for anyone interested, book culture now has hardcover Nigella Lawson (“the domestic goddess”) cookbooks on sale for $15.95!

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Dear My Muscular Friend,

My friend Henry is one of the healthiest people I know: he goes to the gym at least 3 times a week and eats very healthy…which why I didn’t make the salsa rosa dish I’ve been eying for several days now. I knew he’d be horrified if he knew exactly how much cream went into that dish.

Instead, Alex made the Salt & Vinegar Potato Salad recipe I saw on Katie’s Supper Club and a Turkey Cheddar Burger with Sundried  Tomato Mayo recipe from Gourmet.  Meanwhile, I was in Spanish class, doodling more than anything else.

The salad was so good (even without the bay seasoning which I totally forgot to buy), and the burger recipe was really really good for a turkey burger.  I added a “semi-fried onion ring” to the burger which was good.  I say “semi-fried” because the batter did not stick to the onion so much.  I can think of many hypotheticals for why this didn’t work — (1), I used lactaid milk instead of buttermilk and (2), I forgot to buy a candy thermometer so I guessed the oil temperature and (3), I am very afraid of hot oil.

Speaking of candy thermometers, I think I will finally go invest in a food processor (so as to be able to make easy crusts) and an ice cream machine (from ebay, once the weather gets better).  I saw a Concord Grape Sorbet recipe on Gourmet last summer, and I can’t get it out of my head.  I could make them with grapes from the farmer’s market!

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Dear Snow Day 2.10.10,

Although Columbia technically announced a “half snow day” on Wednesday, I had to go to 9am swim (which was unreal) and still go to my afternoon classes.  According to my professor, things like this never happened back in his day, and he pointed out that we had no excuse for not attending class or our evening discussion sections seeing as we live on campus…which is true.

So while everyone was snowball fighting and making snow angels, I went to class and tried a simple mushroom pasta recipe from East Village Kitchen, then later on simplified it even further (just a splash of cream, parmesan cheese, and browned shiitakes).  In fact, while both were delicious, I think I enjoyed the minimalist version more.

There’s no exact recipe as each person will like different ratios of cream, cheese, and mushrooms.  But the process will be the same: slice and sear the mushrooms till a nice golden brown.  set aside in a different bowl.  add cream, let bubble till brown.  add more cream to thin it out.  add the mushrooms back in along with the pasta and parmesan cheese.

I also used Pioneer Woman’s method of grating cheese.  Instead of moving the cheese across the microplane, she moves the microplane across the cheese.  MUCH easier!

If you’re new to cooking, I’d highly recommend this site as she has tons of fool-proof recipes and photographs of each step; little is left to the imagination.  Also her life is just so much fun, filled w/ cute kids, strange dogs, and hot cowboys.

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Dear Peyton Manning 2.7.10,

I’ve never been into football but the foods associated with the superbowl–nachos, dips, wings and potato skins–really appeal to me.  For dinner tonight, I went a slightly healthier route: baked wings, tortilla soup, and a baked potato with sour creme and cheddar cheese.

The tortilla soup recipe is from Simply Recipes.  It’s deliciousss, gratifying in this cold weather, and pretty simple–just some onions, garlic, jalapenos, chicken broth, and a can of tomatoes.  You top it all off with some home-made tortilla chips, sour creme, cheddar, and chicken.  I did make one change to the recipe: I put the stock in first and reduced it down by 1/3.  Then I added the tomatoes and simmered it for about 1 hr. on low heat rather than the 30ish min.  It gave the soup better texture and taste.

The wings recipe from Steamy Kitchen (a really great food blog) was also super good and very simple.  The wings are just rolled in a brown sugar and spice mixture; then they bake for about 40 minutes in the oven.  They charred slightly but were still good to go.  For those looking for a crispier wings recipe, I have a really simple wings recipe: pour some flour on a plate (maybe 1 cup), season it liberally with salt and pepper (garlic powder too if you want), roll the wings in the flour mixtures, then pan-fry it until golden brown (make sure you have 0.5-1 inch of canola oil in the pan).

I creepily made Esther take a picture with me.  She told me to erase it; I decided to put it up on the world wide web.  Please still be my friend!  & thanks for the delicious lime popsicles and for coming!!

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