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Monthly Archives: July 2012

As much as I love cooking for myself and my friends and family, I love going to restaurants. Too much, actually; particularly in New York, where dinner is not usually cheap. So I’m trying to curb that urge a little, but last night, I had a tattoo consultation appointment with the lovely Jess Versus in Williamsburg, so I thought we should go out for dinner afterwards, to celebrate, or something. We found ourselves in eastern Williamsburg, with a lot of good stuff to choose from, but we decided on Lodge, which looked great from the posted menu. I had no idea how great it would actually be!

We started with drinks – Darren got a beer, I got an Eastern Standard, which was lemonade with blueberry-thyme vodka. The lemonade was delicious, but I couldn’t really detect the blueberry or the thyme? But I think I was a little tipsy at the end of dinner, so it was probably in there somewhere. Total hipster bingo with that picture, by the way: mason jar cocktails with Instagram filters in Brooklyn! Sheesh.

We shared the grilled kale salad with homemade ricotta and figs as an appetizer. This bad boy stole the show. We both were absolutely amazed at how good this was – we both love kale, but this was next level kale. It was salty and smokey but still crispy and went amazingly well with the ricotta and figs. I could have used another fig (the menu said there would be red grapes, but I assume they were out by this time), but this was one of the best kale dishes I’ve ever had.

After that salad, I was afraid the entrees would be disappointing, but nope! I had (on the left, obviously) a vegan lobster roll, which was a daily special too tempting to pass up. I’ve never had an actual lobster roll, as my family wasn’t really fond of seafood growing up and I stopped eating meat before I was sophisticated enough to try it, but it was pretty delicious! There were chickpeas and beans mashed with vegenaise, nori, and lots of spices. It was served with Old Bay-seasoned fries and watermelon. So good! Darren got…some sort of steak? I kind of zone out when people order meat, to be perfectly honest. It came with fries, and a delicious salad with arugula, cherry tomatoes, potatoes, and beans. He was pleased, as well!

I knew dessert would be a mistake, insane quantity of food-wise, but I did it anyway. We shared a honey peach crumble with vanilla ice cream, which was excellent – not too sweet, crunchies on top, good fruit – everything that’s good about a crumble.

I know I’m going back to Lodge – I already have mental plans about what to order next! Highly recommended.

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I have this problem with pumpkin. My cravings for it start in mid-summer, which is a little early for the rest of the world. Around this time last summer, I decided I wanted to start baking with pumpkin (pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins!), but I could not find canned pumpkin for the life of me. Literally, I had to look at 5 stores before I found it. So this year, the pumpkin thing is starting again, and I had The Fear. I went grocery shopping with this recipe in mind, and I couldn’t find pumpkin for the life of me. Panicking, I went up to an employee and asked her where the canned pumpkin is. She replied, “I don’t think we have canned pumpkin, that’s more of a seasonal thing…” and after a sadistically long pause while my heart dropped (I take pumpkin very seriously), she kept going, “…but I think we have pumpkin puree?” I doubt she’s ever seen anyone more excited about pumpkin puree. FYI, it was with the broths.

(Things that are missing from this picture: vegetable stock, which I was making at the time, and maple syrup, which I plain forgot to photograph.)

It might seem weird to make something in the slow cooker in the middle of a heat wave, but you get a hot dinner without turning on the oven or stove! And you don’t even have to think about it. This recipe is my favorite kind of slow cooker recipe: dump everything into the crock and set it. Here’s what all this stuff looked like when I combined it all in the crock:

And when I came back from work 8 hours later:

Yum! This recipe comes from Quick and Easy Vegan Slow Cooking, which I VERY highly recommend, as everything I’ve made from it so far is delicious. Carla Kelly mentions in the notes for this recipe that if you don’t like orange in savory recipes, this is not for you, and I have to agree. I loved it – it was sweet and smokey and a little bit spicy. I fixed it with sauteed kale (a favorite in our house, just garlic and red pepper and kale) and Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain Blends, which is a mix of Israeli couscous, red quinoa, orzo, and baby garbanzo beans – it ended up being a really nice change of pace from rice or couscous, both of which would be great with this as well. I even think it would be good as a burrito filling! I recommend this one.

Orange Pumpkin BBQ Lentils (from Carla Kelly’s Quick and Easy Vegan Slow Cooking)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

2 teaspoons orange zest

1/2 teaspoon chile flakes

1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

1 pound butternut/winter squash, or pumpkin, cut into 1/2-inch chunks (I bought pre-cut butternut squash chunks and it worked perfectly)

3/4 cup red lentils

3/4 cup brown lentils

2 cups vegetable stock

1 1/2 cups orange juice

Salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste

In the slow cooker, combine the garlic through the orange juice and stir well.

Cover, set heat to LOW, and cook for 8 hours, or until the lentils are soft and thick.

Taste and season with the salt, pepper, and hot sauce as required.

For my first official post, I’m glad I made a real winner – something both of us really loved. Last week, I made an asparagus-arugula-walnut pesto, and while it was delicious, it left me with a lot of leftover arugula and baby spinach. I love both those ingredients, but I’m also pretty bad at letting produce go to waste – I’m working on it, so I put out the call for recipes to use them up before they went bad. My friend Melissa pointed me in the direction of a Giada De Laurentiis recipe for fusilli with spicy pesto. Thankfully, I already had almost all the ingredients needed, and just had to pick up a jalapeno at the grocery store.

(Look, I even took one of those cute “these are my ingredients” picture! Ignore that it looks a little sad.)

Giada’s recipe called for a whole cup of chopped walnuts, but as you can probably tell from the above picture, I had about…a small handful. Oops. No worries, with the way it turned out, I think it would have been really overwhelmingly nutty with the full cup.

If you can put things in your food processor, you can totally make this. Shred the parmesan, chop the jalapeno, throw the walnuts in, then the greens, and you’re basically already there.

(My adorable, overwhelmed lil food processor in action!)

Giada’s recipe called for a whole jalapeno, unseeded – I am sort of a wiener when it comes to spicy food, so I half-seeded it. My fiancee, who loves spicy food, was even satisfied with the heat with half the seeds, so I’d recommend starting with that and upping the spice if you need to.

Once that’s all combined, pour in the olive oil, and you have pesto! I didn’t end up having to add any pasta water, but you might want to reserve some if you like your pesto thinner.

Instead of the fusilli that Giada recommends, I cooked up some Trader Joe’s Spinach Tortellini, which just added a little something to the dish (more cheese, basically). Then I made up a little salad with the remaining arugula and baby spinach, as well as some delicious yellow grape tomatoes from the farmer’s marker, and dinner in half an episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey! My fiancee liked it so much that we saved the leftover pesto for him to put over pasta for lunch this week. It’s apparently a people-pleaser.

Spicy Pesto (via Giada De Laurentiis)

  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (I definitely used half, even a quarter this amount, and it was fine)
  • cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 (2-inch long) red or green jalapeno pepper, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups grated (4 ounces) Asiago cheese (I used Parmesan; again, totally delicious!)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 ounces baby spinach
  • 3 ounces arugula
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a food processor, combine the walnuts, garlic, jalapeno, cheese, salt and pepper. Process until the mixture is smooth. Add the spinach and arugula and process until blended. With the machine running, gradually add the olive oil.

Place cooked pasta and pesto in a large serving bowl. Toss well and thin out the sauce with a little pasta water, if needed.

Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with Asiago cheese shavings and serve.

 

I’ve decided it’s time. I’m ready for a food blog. I have the camera, I have the love of food, I have the (possibly deluded) sense that people care about the food I make, and I have the time. Ok, I don’t really have the time, but I’ll make it.

To get started, here’s what our fridge looked like this afternoon. Over the last few days, I’ve gone to Trader Joe’s, the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket, and Whole Foods, and as a result, the fridge looked like this:

So bountiful! So colorful! So full of produce! This is why I love summer.