Tag Archives: dinner

Beans in a Cheesy-Lemon Broth – aka A Big Bowl of Comfort

Beans Edited.jpg

I’ve been noticing lots of posts and photos circulating of beans – dried, soaked, and set to simmer on the stove top until perfect. With a bag of precious Rancho Gordo Mayocoba beans stashed in the pantry, I thought it was about time I give this old comforting classic a shot.

The last time I recall having dried beans, now so many years ago I was barely able to see over the stove, they had been on the shelves so long that, even after a good soak and a slow simmer, they were still crunchy. Not in a good way, either. Needless to say, I was a little hesitant to try my hand at beans, but after reading up on the subject and seeing the precious heirloom legumes at a local natural and gourmet food store, I was excited to see what would come from the little bag of jewels.

All I can say is – I have been placed under the dried beans magical spell. I’m already excitedly planning to scour the dried beans aisle to see what I can find for my next batch, and plotting other things to do with these delectable little pods of wonder. Mixed with some fresh herbs, a bit of Parmesan rind, a squeeze of lemon, and bacon, the beans transformed into tender, nourishing bits of comfort wrapped around intense flavor. Do yourself a favor and grab a bag next time you’re at the store and prepare yourself for a truly transforming experience.

*Please forgive the photos – I grabbed my camera in excitement at what my dutch oven held and realized that my battery had become exhausted over the holidays, leaving me stuck with nothing but my iPhone to rely on.

 

Beans in Cheesy-Lemon Broth

6 slices of bacon
1 1lb bag of Rancho Gordo Mayocoba beans (or similar), soaked in water overnight
4-6 cups chicken stock
2-4 cups water
1 3-inch piece of Parmesan rind
1 bay leaf, torn in half
2 sprigs fresh rosemary – 1 whole, 1 finely chopped
1 sprig fresh oregano, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
grated Parmesan and your favorite olive oil for topping

  1. Cut slices of bacon into ½ inch wide piece and render in a 4-qt dutch oven or other sturdy pot on medium heat, cooking bacon in batches if necessary. Cook bacon to your crisp-ness preference, but be sure the fat renders and is left in the bottom of the pot. Remove cooked bacon and set on a paper towel to absorb excess fat, set aside for later.
  2. Add beans to pot, stir to coat with the bacon fat, and add 4 cups of liquid (I used a half chicken stock/half water mixture). Bring beans to a full boil and let cook for five minutes, skimming foam off the top as needed.
  3. Lower heat to a simmer and add Parmesan rind, bay leaf, the whole sprig of rosemary, and kosher salt. Set beans to simmer, covered, for at least two hours. Check on bean tenderness and, if necessary, add more liquid and allow to simmer longer as needed.
  4. When beans are nice and tender, remove the Parmesan rind, what is left of the rosemary sprig, and the bay leaf pieces. Add the finely chopped rosemary and oregano and lemon juice. At this point, taste the broth and adjust seasoning as needed.
  5. Just before serving, add cooked bacon pieces to beans and stir. Serve warm with plenty of both beans and broth in each portion. Top with grated Parmesan and a hearty drizzle of olive oil.

Beans Cooking Edited.jpg

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Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese

My dad celebrated his 59th birthday last week, complete with a delicious vanilla cake with cream cheese frosting (sorry to all, but I won’t be sharing that recipe. It’s a secret!) And now, a bit about my dad:

Years ago he added a new part to his morning ritual (my dad is both a simple and complex man, but he’s always one to stick to his rituals with only a dash of spontaneity when needed)* which consisted of going on walks to get some more exercise. On his first trip out he could barely walk a mile without being winded and tired. Long had he strayed from his high school and college days on the football field and at the ice rink and while he kept the strength, it took a bit to get back into the swing of things. He also used to walk, from what I can remember, every morning – out the door around 5am and on the sidewalks surveying the neighborhoods and, in the winters, the local school ice rinks with a report back on their condition for skating. These days, thanks to his work schedule, he is only able to walk on weekends but how far he goes greatly makes up for that loss. A typical weekend walk is now up to 10 miles and sometimes he goes even further.

Yet, walking is not the only or even the favorite way he continues to get exercise. As mentioned, my dad played hockey when he was young. It was a sport he grew to love from his father and one that he eventually passed down to me. A few years ago Smidget found that a group of guys at the bank she worked for had formed a team and dad signed up. He has been playing ever since, even though Smidget left the bank years ago. They compete against other teams to try to win the championship (which they did this past year!) in the winter and scrimmage against each other every Thursday night in the summer.

Check out my Dad on the ice!

This means on Thursday nights he doesn’t like to eat too much so he’s not too full to skate, but he doesn’t want to eat anything heavy either so he doesn’t feel weighed down. Hence – Thursday has become our family’s Pasta Night. A bit of a carbo load, plus just really tasty food. Recently I have been trying to mix up Pasta Night a bit so it isn’t the same ol’ pasta and red sauce over and over again. Once we used the parsley we got from the farm share we belong to for pesto, as the farm had recommended to. Then, I decided to try something completely different from our family’s usual: Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese.

It was a success! Not only did it taste great, but dad said he even felt better playing that night after dinner. The hot sauce was just enough to be spicy, but not too much and the cheese really pulled the dish together (nyuk, nyuk, nyuk).

Buffalo- Chicken Macaroni and Cheese
Prep: 35 minutes         Total: 1 hour 15 minutes         Makes: 6-8 servings

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
Kosher salt
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
¾ cup hot sauce (preferably Frank’s)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 ½ cups half and half
1 pound yellow sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 ½ cups)
8 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
2/3 cup sour cream
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
½ cup crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain.
  2. Meawhile, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken and garlic and cook 2 minutes, then add ½ cup hot sauce and simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 more minute.
  3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and mustard with a wooden spoon until smooth. Whisk in the half and half, then add the remaining ¼ cup hot sauce and stir until thick, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, then whisk in the sour cream until smooth.
  4. Spread half of the macaroni in the prepared baking dish, then top with the chicken mixture and the remaining macaroni. Pour the cheese sauce evenly on top.
  5. Put the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted. Stir in the panko, blue cheese and parsley. Sprinkle over the macaroni and bake until bubbly, 30 to 40 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Adapted from Food Network Magazine, April 2010 issue

*Yeah, figure that out! 😛

Irked!

I made dinner tonight. Ribbon squash and chicken with mushrooms, carrots, celery, and green onions in a cream-red wine sauce. Sadly the light had gone and since I don’t have a good way of lighting the food (I’ve thought about one of those light boxes, but I should probably have it at school instead of home) the pictures I attempted did not really work out, or even do the food justice.

It was all inspired by watching Julie and Julia, which I have seen at least five times in the past four days (no judging!) and at one point the character Julie makes chicken and mushrooms in port cream sauce. I went to Smidget’s gigantic recipe collection and found her falling apart edition of Mastering The Art of French Cooking. Speaking of which, does anyone by chance know a place in Anchorage to get books fixed? I couldn’t find the exact thing Julie was making, and  maybe I just didn’t really search enough or whatnot, but I did find a lot of crazy sounding stuff that I didn’t have the patience to make/deal with tonight. Like “mushrooms stewed in butter” and the like. So I decided to wing it!

The carrots, celery, and green onion came into play because of this farm share thing that Smidget signed up for at her school. I’ve mentioned it before, but didn’t give it enough credit for how cool it is. The school that Smidget teaches at has a farm far off campus and I’m sure there are connections with environmental studies majors and other similar majors that work and deal with the farm. In the summer they have a lot of fresh produce and have decided to offer the food to those willing to pay the rather large fee. So Smidget signed up, and each Monday we get a huge bunch of fresh food, usually greens such as various lettuces and so many bags of mesculn mix we don’t know what to do with it all, but some times rare gems sneak their way in, like beets or this week carrots.

In order to use some of these fresh ingredients they became part of the mix.  But, I was so eager to start cooking, to eat, and really just to get off the couch that I started cooking before Dad called and said he was on his way home. It’s just him and me right now since Smidget is, once again, in the Lower 48. I knew to start things slow since it would be a good while before Dad came home, so at about 4 I started preparing the ingredients so that by 5:30, when Dad usually calls, I would be all ready to go and start cooking.

Well, with everything prepared, I waited for a phone call. I couldn’t wait much after 5:15 or so though, when I decided to start the stove up and Dad would call soon and it would all work out. Not so much. He called at 6, not saying “in the parking lot!” or “heading home!” as he usually does, but instead “still at work. have you started cooking dinner? am I in trouble?” Bingo. See, oddities of all oddities, my dad can’t eat on an empty stomach. Plus he’s been working to control how fast he eats, something our entire family has an issue with, ya know, not really tasting the food just eating it. So I knew that it was going to be a problem when he came home and dinner was all good to go because he wouldn’t have eaten anything, and therefore he would be hungry, and therefore he would eat too quickly. So I attempted to slow down the cooking. I hadn’t done the mushrooms with the wine and cream yet, which was going to be the final stretch.

I put everything on low burners and waited. Finally, after the movie was over, seeing the newest Cupcake Wars and watching Chopped, I had to get moving in the kitchen again. With Alton Brown’s dulcet tones coming from the TV, I melted butter and added the mushrooms. The garage door opened, the cat meowed, and Dad walked in the door. The mushrooms were stewing away (not the right word though, maybe saute? I don’t know, they were doing something in the pan. It may have been the macarena.) and it about time to add the rest of the ingredients, not enough time for Dad to even munch on a few crackers.

With everything coming together, the whole thing was done less than ten minutes after Dad walked in the door. He hadn’t even changed out of his work clothes like he was going to, when dinner was ready to go. Surprisingly, it all went well, and we both enjoyed it although I think the panic and long time spent between the stove and the TV waiting must have worked on my appetite and made it practically disappear.

But there was something else that got to me, Dad fixes himself a bowl and, like every dish he is ever handed that is not in a restaurant (aka anything Smidget or I make) he has to ‘season it’. This means he adds salt and pepper, usually without asking if it was used in cooking, and almost every time without tasting first! I find it is one of the most annoying things and it is something that is known and should not bother me, but really? Can you taste it first? It’s not done on purpose or as a subtle hint that our cooking isn’t good enough, I don’t think, but it sure does feel that way.

Do you have any issues with this? Seasoning before tasting? That feeling that your food always has to be fixed before it’s even tested? Annoying little gestures in the kitchen? Anyone? Someone? Please?

Rusty likes to play with the china

On the plus side, Dad got tickets on the way home. Tickets to what? Why the Summer Encore of the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Carmen. Our local theater has found a way to get the past season from the NY MET onto the big screen every Wednesday night and Tuesday morning. So far my family has seen both La Boheme and Turandot, Puccini, a definite favorite. So tomorrow night, I shall be at the Opera and reminiscing about taking voice lessons and being part of choir…oh how I long for those days again, if only I could actually get into voice lessons at school…

Long time, no siege…erm…post

Oh sweet success! I have been trying to post for a day or so now and wordpress has been giving me all kinds of issues but alas, it’s working! Thank goodness because I have spent the entire morning on foodgawker and have wanted to post…and get a new camera…but for that money is needed…hint hint….kidding. Kinda.

Anywho! These past few weeks/month-or-so has been a flurry of hectic cooking, baking, movie watching, relaxing….so actually not all that hectic, but sometimes we all could use a little rest. After many a technical issue, I am finally in possession of a new phone (long, annoying, anger-inducing story) and a new computer should be shipped soon! Huzzah!

While I have been absent, a few exciting times have passed, like Father’s Day for example. What did we do for Father’s Day you ask? Why, this:

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The Coq au Vin was the traditional Julia Child recipe from the wonderful Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and was entirely Smidget made. The mashed potatoes were a double effort from both me and Smidget, and were tasty with fresh from our garden chives. The lime tart, though, was like laying down in a really comfy bed surrounded by pillows and the softest blankets imaginable. You just want to sink down and never leave.

Smidget made the crust and compiled the whole thing, while I took a crack at the curd. I think I can now say I have become something of a curd-ace. It was something I thought was going to be difficult, time consuming, and generally that I would fail on my first go round, but it was not and I did not. The recipe was great and I have made more curd based off it (think key lime). But, what is really fantastic about all of this is that it is so easy to make and requires so few ingredients, I think I can make it at school! So stop by the office sometime and you may just find curd tartlets. Or, for those of you not in New York, simply follow this fantastic recipe and enjoy!

Ingredients

Lime Curd

  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

Crust

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 large pinch of salt

Topping

  • 2 6-ounce containers fresh blackberries
  • 1 6-ounce container fresh blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon blackberry jam
  • Test-Kitchen Tips

    Pressing plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the lime curd makes sure that a skin doesn’t form as the custard chills. Brushing the berries with a little blackberry jam gives the fruit topping a shiny, pastry-shop finish.

Preparation

Lime Curd

  • Set fine metal strainer over medium bowl and set aside. Whisk eggs, egg yolks, and sugar in another medium metal bowl to blend. Whisk in lime juice. Set bowl over large saucepan of gently simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water). Whisk constantly until curd thickens and instant-read thermometer inserted into curd registers 178°F to 180°F, about 6 minutes. Immediately pour curd through prepared strainer set over bowl. Add butter to warm strained curd; let stand 1 minute, then whisk until blended and smooth. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface of curd, covering completely. Refrigerate until cold, about 4 hours. DO AHEAD Lime curd can be made up to 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

Crust

  • Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in medium bowl until well blended, 1 to 2 minutes. Add egg yolk; beat to blend. Add flour and salt and mix on low speed until mixture resembles large peas. Using hands, knead in bowl just until dough comes together.
  • Transfer dough to 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Break dough into pieces, then press dough evenly up sides and onto bottom of pan. Cover and chill 1 hour. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Uncover crust and bake until golden brown, about 35 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack.

Topping

  • Remove sides from tart pan and place crust on plate. Spread lime curd evenly in baked crust. Arrange blackberries in 2 concentric circles just inside edge of tart. Mound blueberries in center of tart. Place jam in small microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave until jam is melted, about 15 seconds. Whisk to loosen and blend, adding water by teaspoonfuls if thick. Brush jam over berries. DO AHEAD Tart can be made up to 8 hours ahead. Chill uncovered.
Adapted, obviously, from Bon Appetit magazine
Also, muffins to the gamer who knows where the title comes from!

Tri-Color Rotini with Chicken-Apple Sausage

As the semester, and the school year, comes to a close I’ve drawn back to one of the few things that helps allow me to keep my sanity, cooking. The only bad thing about doing a lot of cooking is that it takes time away from doing actual work (like 3   response papers, one 3-5 page paper, one 8 page paper, one 12-15 page paper, and one creative project, not to mention all the things I have to do for my campus job) but at least it keeps my tummy satisfied as I plow though all that work (2 response papers done so far!).

Yet, as I have mentioned, it can be very difficult to actually get some good cooking done in the residence hall kitchen with only minimal ingredients and supplies. As much as this lack seems to take away from the variety of food that one can cook, it does allow you to be a bit more creative when it comes to what exactly you make.

This past weekend was a special one for two reasons: 1st, it was the 30th anniversary of a campus-wide spring time celebration known as Quad Jam, which lasts all day outside on our quad and is filled with fun, food, and student music as well as headliners, this year Fabolous and Reel Big Fish and 2nd, one of my good friends and co-workers was celebrating the day they started working in our office.

Therefore, while making a fantastic dinner for myself of Tri-Color Rotini with Chicken-Apple Sausage, I grabbed a box mix at the store and baked a cake!

I brought everything with me to the kitchen, which luckily for me this year has only been a few doors away, in this fantastic bright green cupcake bag a friend sent me in a care package. Now I just have to get hers together.

Notice the rainbow whisk, gotta love it

The box mix was great, I would love to be able to bake my own cakes from scratch, and maybe over the summer at home I will, but here, mixes are the way to go. My friend who wanted the cake asked for chocolate with vanilla frosting, so that’s what I made. Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of the fully made and frosted cake, but I do have some of what it looked like after coming out of the oven!

While these guys sat in the oven I made myself some dinner. I had been thinking of cooking something for a while now and had the idea of pasta with Chicken-Apple sausage through my mind over and over. I had the sausage maybe once or twice before when Smidget would make it, but sadly it always came out kind of dry and not so good. But suddenly the sausage had been running through my mind, I don’t think all the ads for it in my Food Network Magazine helped either.

So, I got to cooking!

One of the cardinal rules when it comes to food photos is don't use flash, obviously I broke that but the colors came out so much more vibrant in that dull kitchen!

Tri-Color Rotini with Chicken-Apple Sausage

Servings: Probably about two, although can always make more, I just wanted enough food for one person and ate way to much of it

Time: About 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • One half of an 12 oz box of Tri-Color Rotini
  • Two Chicken-Apple sausages
  • Extra light olive oil
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

1. Fill a pot with enough water for pasta and bring to a boil on stove. Once boiling, add some salt to the water to help flavor the pasta a bit and then add the pasta. Cook according to directions on box.

2. Put a bit of the extra light oil, or extra virgin if you have it (I don’t at school, it’s a crime, I know) into a skillet and put on medium heat. Take two Chicken-Apple sausages which have been pre-cooked according to packaging, and place in skillet until nice and browned.

3. Drain pasta once cooked, and drizzle with more extra light oil. Once sausages are browned and heated, cut into pieces and add to pasta, toss to serve and enjoy!

He's watching you bake...