Saturday, August 22, 2009

lentil soup

Ahoy! It's a frog-strangler out there and has been for the last few days. Kind of fitting, actually, that I get some fear-of-God New England weather as a sendoff, so that I can spend my ersatz "fall" drinking tea and eating soup. Up in NH, I made some lentil soup... loosely based on a Better Homes and Gardens recipe Miles' grandmother had clipped and stashed in a pile many, many moons ago. Side note: his grandmother also clipped all the newspaper articles about Scrabbles' invention in in the 50s and has them stashed in the Scrabble set. Grandparents' houses are the best, whether they are yours or not. Side note to the side note: Inventor of Scrabbles was Mr. Butts. Haha, Butts!

Anyway, this soup is pretty tasty; probably the best lentil soup I have ever made. To be fair, though, the last time I tried to make lentil soup half the container of chipotle chile powder spilled and despite my best attempts to salvage it, the soup was inedible. The time before that I think I got bored and made Shira G. finish it. I am such a good roommate. But this soup got pretty high acclaim so try it out.

2 cups lentils
6 cups water
a bunch of carrots, chopped
a few stalks of celery, chopped
1/2 an onion
a large can (1 lb) of crushed/diced tomatoes (or just crush them yourself, whatevs)
salt, pepper, plenty of rosemary

--Cook the lentils with the celery, onion and carrots in the water. First boil, then simmer for about 35 minutes.
--Once the lentils are close to done, add the rosemary, salt and pepper to your liking. Don't skimp on the rosemary!
--Now add the tomatoes, let them cook for about 15 minutes; simmer until the soup is a consistency that makes you happy.

NB: Like the pasta, this makes a bumload of soup... 6 bowls or so. So halve it if you don't want leftovers for lunch.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pasta for a crowd

Back from Canada! During our layover at Miles' house in New Hampshire, there was a dinner party. And I ended up cooking! One of the guests had dropped the recipe off earlier in the day... I guess it's from the Presidio Grill in Tuscon. I thought it was pretty tasty. Especially if you have a hoard of bona-fide meat eaters showing up and you are like wahhhh, why did I throw a dinner party. Technically this serves 4 but we tripled the recipe for 13 people and only ate half. So. Yeah. Lots of food. Pretty tasty.

Pasta with Chicken, Basil & Peppers

1/4 cup olive oil
4 tbs (a few cloves) of garlic, minced
3/4 lb fettuccine
1 package of chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
2 poblano peppers, seeded and julienned
3 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
4 ounces of prosciutto, chopped
2 tbs butter
1/2 cup parmesan cheese + more

--Do all your chopping and dicing (times 3, can you imagine? it took hours). Pretend that you are an underpaid food stylist for the Food Network and grumble to yourself about how Emeril gets all the glory and you get all the burnt fingers from pepper oils.
--Heat up the oil; fry the garlic in the oil until everything starts to smell like garlic for days.
--Fish out the garlic so that it doesn't burn, keep the oil in the pan.
--Put on the water for the fettuccine. When it boils, start cooking the pasta.
--Fry up the chicken in the garlicky oil for about 5 minutes. YOu could throw on a little salt and pepper, but remember that there will be cheese + brined meats in the equation soon.
--Now fry up the peppers for about 3 minutes
--Now add the tomatoes. I like them cooked down, but you don't really need to cook them that long. Now basil! Now prosciutto! Now the garlic!
-- Check the pasta. Is it done? In either case turn off (or down) the heat on yer sauce and add the butter and the parmesan cheese. When the pasta is done, so are you! Serve it up to your posse and eat the leftovers all week.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

chicken paillard

The summer that I lived in NYC without air conditioning and worked from home, I have literally no memory of eating. I would make pitchers of limeade and sip on them all day. I slurped smoothies for lunch. According to my facebook photos, I would buy sparkling apple cider and drink it from the bottle with absolutely no shame. Well, those days are back. It's hot. We are cheapos and trying to live sans AC this summer and I seriously can't wait to go to NORTHERN NOVA SCOTIA tomorrow and wear sweatshirts again. Anyway, here is a good dinner for when it is stupidly hot out. It's probably the lightest meal I ever made for myself in college that still counts as a meal.

(yes... this is a Rachel Ray recipe. WHAT ABOUT IT? I got the cookbooks as a gift, ok? And seriously, it is fast and good.)

2 chicken breasts or 4 "tenders"(halve this recipe if you don't want leftovers for lunch tomorrow)
A lemon (you'll need the zest, so buy organic)
a few sprigs Thyme & parsley, chopped. Or a few teaspoons, dried
Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth-- I've only made it with this:

and it turned out delicious, really carroty.
2 tbs butter
2 tbs flour

baby greens

1. "Paillard" that chicken-- First, I like to seperate the breasts into tenders by splitting down the middle at the "seam." Eww. Next, put a layer of saran wrap on top and whack those breasts with a mallet or a heavy pan. Holy unsanitary, batman! Vegans everywhere are cringing in shame. Whatever, use your anger at the industrial agricultural system to really flatten that chicken... it tenderizes the meat and makes the tenders cook quickly and evenly. RR herself gives tips on how to freeze/defrost/portion control at the Food Network page.

2. Set a pan on the range to heat up, then rub that chicken with some olive oil, the chopped herbs, salt and pepper, and the zest from the lemon.

3. Throw it in the pan to fry up for 3-4 minutes, while you toss the salad greens with the juice from the lemon, a little olive oil and some classy sea salt. WHAT? you don't have grey sea salt hand flaked from the Atlantic by underemployed Ph.D.s in theater? That's ok, use kosher salt.

4. Once the chicken is done (always a stressful moment, for some reason) take it out of the pan and let it hang out on the side while you throw some butter into the pan and scrape up the fond-- that's the gunk at the bottom of the pan for all of those uninitiated in the finer points of food vocabulary. Thanks, Alton Brown! (this blog post brought to you by the Food Network)

5. Now make a delicious roux (CAJUN STYLE!) by mixing (whisking???) in the 2 tbs flour, making sure that there are no little flour doughnuts. Add the broth and let it bubble away until the sauce is pretty thick. "Until it barely coats the back of a spoon."

6. Now spread the sauce on your plate(s), put the salad on top and then two of the tenders. Wasn't that classier than sitting around in a muumuu crunching ice cubes? Is that just me???