Comfort in a bowl

I’m still here, still cooking, still muddling through life.  Not working as much but more kid activities- swimming lessons, sports classes and that kind of thing.  In all the rush, I managed to take some time for myself and visit with a dear friend (the hippo!) and she was so very kind and loving towards me.  I needed some comfort and she made me Smitten Kitchen’s miso broccoli rice bowl.  It was so very good and exactly what I needed at the time.

I made it again this week and it was just as comforting.  Little tip, when you’re looking for miso, look in the soup section.  I couldn’t find it in the Asian foods section of Whole Foods but did find it in the soup/soup mix area of Wegmens.

This recipe is so easy.  You make your rice (I use a rice cooker), roast or steam your broccoli, roast your sweet potato, heat your black beans and top all of that with the miso dressing from Smitten Kitchen. 

The rice.

IMG_0154Sweet potato, broccoli and black beans added.

IMG_0155Finally, topped with the so yummy and delicious miso dressing.

IMG_0158I sort of wanted to stick my face in it and just inhale the dressing.  It was so good.

IMG_0159Make this now. You won’t regret it.

A Belated Happy Jew-Year

Last week we Jews celebrated the beginning of 5775.  As always, Rosh Hashannah has lots of old favorites around the table- both food and people- and some new additions.  Once again, I cooked for several days and didn’t photograph much…  But I’ll share what I did.

I wish you all a happy, sweet, joyful year.  I’m looking forward to finding my own “roga”- serenity- this year, in whatever form that takes.

Now, on to the food!

IMG_0146Lots of old favorites- roasted chicken, honey glazed carrots, brisket, mashed potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes and a number of other veggies.  This year I also made a sweet and spicy chicken and an apple, walnut tabbouleh that was quite popular.  I’ll link to that recipe at the bottom.

IMG_0138 IMG_0137 IMG_0136 IMG_0135 IMG_0133 IMG_0132 IMG_0131 IMG_0130 IMG_0129IMG_0142We tried a new seating arrangement, putting the food in the dinning room and us eating in the living room. Worked out pretty well and we’re likely to use it again in the future.

IMG_0140 IMG_0141 IMG_0149 IMG_0143IMG_0139This is the tabbouleh, in process.  It was more of a salad- lots of sweet and tart with red onions, apples, pomegranate seeds and parsley.  It was quite good and can be found here.

I’m not cooking as much these days but I’ll be back, I’m sure.  Meanwhile, have a wonderful beginning to 5775!

 

 

“Chopped” at home

Hey there.  It’s all of a sudden back to school for me and the summer is gone!  One of my favorite things about this summer was my daughter’s sudden interest in “Chopped.”  She requests it and then states, firmly and without doubt, “Mama, I know who’s going to get chopped.”  She refuses to tell me because “it’s a surprise.”

Often on the show, the original idea that the chefs have doesn’t work and they have to revamp on the fly.  This happened to me a few nights ago, when I overcooked the broccoli.  Overcooked broccoli is mushy and gross so I decided to create a broccoli cheese puree.  Very Chopped of me.

I can’t really give you a recipe because I made it up and used what I had.  I put the mushy broccoli into the food processor and added garlic powder, parmesan cheese and a whipped cheddar cheese spread (I know! Processed!  But it was left over from a party and it seemed wasteful to throw it out).  At the end, I added a smidgen of melted butter- maybe a tablespoon or so.  I whirred it all around what came out was this:

My HipstaPrint 988444361_2To be fair, it doesn’t photograph well but it was very good.  Green and cheesy, creamy and salty.  Delicious next to the steak and potatoes the husband had requested.  I popped it in the microwave to heat it up before I served it and it was perfect.  Or at least a lot better than the mushy broccoli would have been!

My HipstaPrint 988444361Of course, if it really were chopped, I’d have gone for sure since it’s not very well plated.  But, for the chopped at home game, I’m calling it a win!

 

Fresh

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a CSA. My mum joined one this year and often forgets to pick it up. Which means a phone call to me at the end of the day on Wednesday asking me to go pick it up. Of course I do. For a fee. The fee being, naturally, some of what she has received for the week. A few weeks ago she was away and in return for picking up the bag, I got all the produce.

In it were these.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_4 Know what they are?  I’ll give you a hint, Hannibal Lecter made them famous by saying he ate them as a side dish along with a nice chianti.

Fava beans.

Fresh fava beans are a bit of a pain to get to but in the end, I assure you they are worth it.  They look like lima beans but are nowhere near as mealy in texture and they have a nice, green taste, if that makes sense.  A bit bitter and tart but not overly so.  I ended up making a sort of succotash with mine and it was quite tasty.  The sweetness of the corn balanced nicely with the beans.

Fresh Fava Bean Sauté

Ingredients

about 1-2 pounds of fresh fava beans

2-3 ears of sweet corn

1/2-1 sweet onion

Directions

Prepare your fava beans.  This will take some time.  Get comfy.

First, you need to remove the hard outer shell which is somewhat fuzzy inside.  I tried this two ways.  You can use your knife to widen the slit down the middle.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_17Then pry it open with your fingers.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_11Sort of time shuck the beans out into a bowl.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_6The easier way to remove the beans, is to snap off the top part that has the stem.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_21Then pull it down to the bottom of the pod and the string that comes with it will make it easier to separate the bean pod.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_7My HipstaPrint 973334217_1While you’re doing this, set a pot of water on to boil.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_10Once all the beans are out of the fuzzy pod, add them to the water.  Let them boil for about a minute and then take them out.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_20Let them cool for a minute or two and then you’ll be able to sort of pop the bean out of the waxy coating.

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Do that for all of them.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_24Now you can use them for whatever you’d like.  I made this sort of succotash, as I said.

In a saute pan, melt a bit of butter and some oil- no more than a tablespoon of each.  Peel and chop your onion and add it to the pan.  Let it get soft and melty. Meanwhile, shuck your corn and add it to boiling, well-salted water.  Let it cook for a few minutes (it’s awful, I never time my corn!  I think it’s 4-5 minutes?) and then take it out to cool.  Cut the kernels off (there is no non-messy way to do this so just give in and make a mess) and then add them and the fava beans to the onion.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_18Season with whatever you like- salt and pepper for sure and maybe some garlic powder (or throw in some minced fresh garlic if you have it) or other spices that would compliment your meal (cumin and chili powder if you’re going Mexican, for example). Let it cook a bit so that bits of it get a nice brown color.

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I served mine along with soy balsamic duck and a corn risotto.  The risotto (which I improvised) and the duck (which I overcooked) were not good.  This fava bean succotash was.  Make it today!

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Summer Travels

A few trips are happening just now. Thought I’d share a bit of them with you, and even show some of the food!

This past weekend, the husband and I did an overnight (kid-free) in the “land of love”- the Poconos (Thank you, Groupon).  It was fantastic.  A long drive for just an overnight but still worth it as we tend to be able to get along well in the car.  Chatting, music, napping- it was lovely.

We arrived at the Poconos Palace Resort around 4pm.  We had been talking about how wonderfully old-school and cheesy it was going to be and it did not disappoint.  The entire resort was based on a theme of love mixed with Kellerman’s from Dirty Dancing.  It could not have been better.

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Our room had a circular bed and a heart shaped jacuzzi.IMG_0001 IMG_0003

We were handed a list of activities upon check-in.  (We were too late for most but did check out both the trivia and the Journey tribute band.)

IMG_0004We wandered around and found the lake (y’know, to practice your lifts) and the lovely balcony seating area.

IMG_0013 IMG_0012 IMG_0011We ate a lovely (not gourmet but absolutely filling and tasty) dinner and breakfast in the dinning room.

IMG_0015Before we checked out the band, we played a few games in the game area which included an indoor minigolf course.

IMG_0014 IMG_0016We tried to play shuffleboard but we don’t know the rules.  We made some up.  We also played some video arcade games and lots of pool.

The next morning we engaged in some archery.  Which I have never done before.  I was channeling my inner Katniss.  My husband hasn’t done it since boy scouts so I think between us, we did pretty well.

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Overall, it was a great little overnight trip.

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I am now in Niagara Falls with my mum and kids.  It is the first time for all of us.  We stopped last night in Syracuse and partook of ice cream from Gannon’s, which is one of the 27 places to have ice cream before you die, according to Buzzfeed.

IMG_0034 IMG_0036 IMG_0035It was extremely tasty.

We are now in Niagara Falls, after a particularly awful car trip wherein my oldest lost her cookies and began to scream, spit and hit everyone around her.  I am NOT looking forward to driving her home in a few days.  Meanwhile, though, this is the view from our room:

IMG_0031 IMG_0032 IMG_0033I’ll just sit here and breathe while I look at it.

 

My Paradise

As you may know, if you read here at all, I have an, um, thing for food competition shows.  It actually started with Top Chef.  The first season.  Which was in– hang on, have to look it up– 2006.  It was one of the first shows of its kind and I was hooked.  I’ve watched multiple seasons since- though not recently- and my favorite challenge was always “Restaurant Wars.”  The chefs were divided into teams and asked to open a restaurant from furniture to food, in some absurdly small amount of time. They would be sent to Restaurant Depot for shopping.  Every single time I’d say, “I want to go (to) there!”  At one point I looked it up and found that you had to work in the industry to be able to shop there.  Alas, my professional baking/cooking days were behind me.

Until this year, when I got back in touch with an old high school friend who owns- wait for it- a restaurant.  And who is constantly shopping at Restaurant Depot.  He was kind enough to indulge my geekyness and…  took me with him!

photo 1I can’t even tell you how excited I was.  I got there early, before my friend, and he laughed at me via text, telling me to go in on my own.  I did and it was everything I could have hoped for and more.

photo 2All kinds of containers.

photo 3My first love, baking equipment and supplies.

At this point, I was getting a little crazy.  I wanted everything!

photo 2I mean, I don’t really need this but…  pancakes!

So I moved on to the food section, since I know it would be vast quantities that even I couldn’t eat before it spoiled.

photo 4

 

I was doing fine- wandered through the meat and seafood departments, knowing that I didn’t need a zillion pound fish.  I approached the canned goods with similar confidence.

 

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Then, of course, I found this:

photo 1Oh.  My.  God.  I did not buy this, for good reason.  This does not mean that I won’t go back someday and buy it.  Maybe.

So a lifelong dream has been achieved, dorky as it was.  It was, as a friend described it, “Costco on steroids.”  I owe my friend, big time.  I’ll have to find a way to thank him, although, I’m pretty sure a vat of peanut butter sauce won’t cut it…..

 

 

 

Kitchen Basics: Hard-Boiled Eggs

Pretty quiet around here just now- it’s mid to late summer and I’m working hard to keep my mind in the moment– it is STILL summer, despite the feeling that it is almost over.  I’m trying to work out as often as I can, to hang with the kids (my oldest is in a day camp this week  and it’s breaking both our hearts!), and to be in the pool as much as possible.

All that said, I am also trying to see friends as often as I can.  The other night, for example, I heading to a friend’s house to drink wine, eat snacks and gossip.  I brought an easy and always appreciated snack, deviled eggs.  Some people like to get super fancy with their eggs and add mushrooms, bacon, chives, etc.  I keep mine super simple and traditional- nothing but the filling and a sprinkle of paprika.  Yum.

Deviled eggs were one of the first things I ever consciously saw made without a recipe (My grandmother almost always cooked without a recipe but I didn’t realize it at the time.).  It was summer, when my cousins and I were staying with my grandmother.  We were probably around 11 or so.  It was afternoon and we had spent the morning in the pool, watching stand up comedy on television and giggling.  Emily decided that she wanted deviled eggs.  Melanie agreed that this was a good idea.  I had never had a deviled egg but I almost never say no to food.

Off to the kitchen we went and I watched as Emily and Melanie made hard boiled eggs, peeled them, scooped out the yolk and mixed it into a bright yellow filling, no measurements, no recipe.  They used spoons to fill the eggs, added a sprinkle of paprika and then handed one to me.

I bit into it and my life was altered.  Slightly spicy and tart, creamy and cool- it was the perfect snack.  We made them many times over that summer and I’ve since bonded with The Hippo over them (It’s her southern heritage showing through).

The problem with deviled eggs is the hard boiling of eggs.  I can never, for the life of me, ever recall how long you’re supposed to boil the eggs.  Then there’s the peeling.  I am horrid at peeling hard boiled eggs.  I don’t have the patience, I get very frustrated and I usually end up ripping away most of the egg white.  When I peel them, the hard boiled eggs tend to look like someone was gnawing on them.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_18So, to the internet I went, in search of a way to make the eggs easier to peel and the amount of time needed to cook them.  If you do a search like this, you’ll see (as I did) that there are a number of ways to achieve the perfect hard boiled egg.

I tried the thumb tack method.  Basically, you prick the round end of the egg with a thumb tack or safety pin or something so that you break the air bubble that’s in there.  This makes the eggs easier to peel after they’re boiled.  And don’t leave the thumb tack in while you boil them.  This method worked for me!

Emily and Melanie’s Deviled Eggs

Ingredients

Eggs (Remember that one egg makes two deviled eggs and plan accordingly)- I usually use a whole dozen

yellow (not dijon, not brown, nothing fancy) mustard– about two to four tablespoons

mayonnaise– about two to four tablespoons

salt, pepper and paprika to taste

*Note about measurements:  I never measure.  I use a few spoonfuls or squirts and then taste.  I’m guess at the tablespoon measurement above based on how it looks.  You’ll have to taste as you go and start by adding less than you think you need– always easier to add more than to take away what’s already in there.

Directions 

Prick your eggs with a thumb tack.  Do this on the fatter, rounder end.  Place them in a saucepan and cover with enough cold water to cover the eggs by about an inch.  Put them on the stove to boil, over high heat.  Once the water is good and boiling (big bubbles, lots of steam), boil the eggs for one minute.  Then take them off the heat and cover the pot.  Let them stand for ten minutes (off the heat but covered).My HipstaPrint 973334217After ten minutes has passed, pour out all the water and shake the pan around, causing the eggs to smash against each other and crack.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_13Now fill your pan up with cold water and ice cubes.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_6Wait five minutes and then drain out the water and any leftover ice.  You are now ready to peel.  The method that worked well for me was to sort of roll the egg around on the counter, cracking the entire shell in kind of a spiderweb way.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_12Then peel the eggshell off.  Doing it near and under running water can help get all the little bits of shell off.  I found that with this thumb tack method, the shells slipped off more easily and in bigger pieces.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_5(Yes, one short of a dozen.  The husband always requires a hard boiled egg for him to eat plain.)  Next get a bowl ready and slice your eggs in half.  I find that if you do it lengthwise, there’s slightly more stability when you put them on a plate than if you do it the other way.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_4Scoop out the beautifully yellow yolk and dump into your bowl.  Set the egg white aside.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_11My HipstaPrint 973334217_17Once all the yolks are in the bowl, add the mustard and mayo.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_16Mix all together.  I use a fork but you could certainly use a whisk or a hand mixer.  It seems like the perfect use for The Hippo’s army fork.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_3Now taste it and add salt, pepper and maybe more mayo or mustard, depending.  Want it more spicy?  Up the mustard.  Want it more creamy?  Mayo it is.  Once it tastes as you want it to taste, get out a ziploc bag.  Scoop that filling into the bag.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_9Get as much of the air out as possible and sort of squish that filling into one corner.  Then ziploc it.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_2Snip off just the smallest bit of the corner.  Mazel tov, you’ve just made a piping bag.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_15Place all your egg whites on a plate or platter that you plan to serve from- as long as it will fit into the fridge, you should be set.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_10Use the piping bag to fill each egg white with the yellow-y goodness.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_8About halfway through, I always think there won’t be enough filling.  There always is.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_1Garnish with a bit of paprika.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_7Try not to eat them all since you are supposed to be sharing, right?

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