Thursday, March 10, 2011

A virtuous _ and almost completely pre-made _ vegetarian dinner, starring pre-made brown rice and cumin garbanzo beans from Trader Joe's. A salad of heirloom tomatoes and shallots. Torshi, or pickled vegetables (cabbage and cauliflower, mostly... and mostly eaten before a picture could be snapped), that my grandmother made in Tehran and my mom brought back for me in the specialty food-packed suitcase.

Monday, March 7, 2011

This is what post-spinning class weakness looks like.

Zankou Chicken's half chicken plate, with hummus, pickled beets, spicy peppers, diced tomatoes and garlic paste of the Gods. Though there's plenty left in the fridge, I'm so full it hurts.

Even Peeshie's eyes half-close in pleasure when she eats Zankou.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday Brunch at home. Runny eggs with very yellow yolks, cooked in olive oil and salted with parmesan. Served over creamy polenta and asparagus. Hot coffee. Not pictured: fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I am really into polenta right now, the soft and creamy variety. And I've found the world's easiest way to make it. Crumble the pre-made Organic Trader Joe's Polenta that comes in tubes into a pot with a bit of milk and a touch of butter. Whisk it over heat until the clumps break down into a smooth mass. Garnish with grated parmesan and cracked black pepper.

I'm sure someone's Italian grandma would slap me with a wooden spoon for doing it this way. But it's delicious and too easy not to pass on. And only 70 calories per serving of polenta (plus maybe 150 for the fats that make it luscious; worth it).
And then there are the times when we act on practical needs, rather than whim, fancy or craving.

More to the point, vegetables were outnumbering other food groups in my refrigerator and the guilt was killing me as I drove home from the gym tonight. So, in the pot went an onion, a celery heart, a handful of carrots, garlic cloves, a really nice, big shallot and broccoli -- all ingredients I regularly use to make cream of broccoli soup.

Then came the experimental vegetable: broccoli rabe. It doesn't sound like it should be a stretch, I know. But that bitter broccoli rabe flavor -- I usually like it grilled. Luckily, it came out all right.

Here's the cookery, in photos.

It started as so many things do, carelessly sliced and chopped carrots, onions, celery, shallots and garlic. Let 'em sweat.

I didn't really bother to chop up the broccoli or broccoli rabe either. Seasoned with some bay leaves, a pinch of Herbs d'Provence (which I like in most soups), celery salt, sea salt and cracked black pepper.

Add water, simmer the vegetables to cook... and if you're weak like me, toss in a couple bouillon cubes. I know it's not very chef-y, but I just like it. And believe it or not, that is how grandma used to make it. And I buy the nice kind.

I fished out the bay leaves and went to task with one of my favorite kitchen tools, the immersion blender. I bought the one recommended by Cook's Illustrated and have yet to find something this thing can't whittle into velvet.

The dollop of fat-free half-and-half in the soup... does not look so appetizing, but really helps the texture. It came out a little bitter from the rabe, but not bad at all.

Look what's all packed up and ready to go for lunches or dinners. Holler if you want a jarful.

Oh, yeah. So that's something I do that's probably a little weird. I don't like to store food in plastic, so I recycle glass jars. My current apartment has way too much storage space for a woman who lives with her cat. So, there's a whole shelf just for the jars.

A while back, I tried to make pupusas. This is shredded cheddar and Monterey jack with swiss chard.

They look kindof okay on the griddle... but kindof sucked. The dough was okay on one batch, dry and brick-like on the next. Must try again, after I get some good advice on the dough.

And if you're ever wondering if a cheap Trader Joe's Malbec with sliced Gala apple and grapefruit would make a good sangria: that's a yes.