Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Gado-Gado—Otherwise Known as Indonesian Peanut Sauce

Four words: not worth the effort.

I now have a yogurt container full of a peanut sauce that was more like peanut butter with some onion chunks. I'll try to mixed it with more tomato sauce and chili flakes to see if I can turn it into something Tim and I will enjoy, but I don't have high hopes for this one! It was so blah, I'm not even going to bother sharing the recipe with you. The chicken that I made with it was fine, it was just plain cubes of chicken seasoned with salt and pepper, and I made a curried rice noodle, although next time I'll add even more curry powder and maybe some chili flakes.

That's 0 for 2 from the recipes in Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappé. Greek cheese and spinach wedges wasn't a real hit either. . . they've actually been relegated to the "let's not have this again category".

I took my birthday money from mom and bought How to Cook Anything, I have higher hopes for that book!

Time for blueberry pancakes just like Aunt Brenda used to make! Yummy! And then we are off for a picnic in Niagara Falls!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Swiss Chard....hmmm

Who would have guessed growing up with a vegetarian as my second Mom, there would be a veggie that I haven't tried. Well, the Good Food Box this week has taken care of that. It's here, in my apartment and I have to find some way to turn it into something one of the pickiest eaters in the world will eat. 

My cook books weren't much help, but my good old Dr. Richter's Fresh Produce Guide didn't let me down on this one! There are cooking instructions here. 

Turns out chard is like two vegetables for the price of one. Good deal! According to Dr. Richter, the stalks can be cooked like asparagus spears and the dark leaves can be steamed or stir-fried. Peak season is June through October. The leaves only last 2 days, and the stalks 4 days in the refrigerator however.   :o(

So what did I end up making with it? I have no idea what it's called, but this is what I did (mostly following Dr. Richter's instructions):

Clean thoroughly. Remove any strings. Cut stalks into think slices. Sauté in olive oil, covered [I forgot to cover it], over low heat for 15 minutes, or until tender. Add strips of chard leaves. Cook over medium heat until wilted. Sprinkle with lemon juice [I used a whole lemon because it didn't say how much and it was smelling pretty good when I added it], golden raisins, and pine nuts [I also threw in a handful of dried blueberries cause I had them]. 

The verdict: Not bad. I enjoyed it and Tim ate it, but he wasn't big on the leaves. It did have a really nice flavour with both the acidic lemon and sweet blueberries mixed together.

We also had potato salad made with Renée's cucumber and dill yogurt vinaigrette and fresh parsley, and a green salad with cucumber, mushroom, and strawberries with Renée's spring herb Italian vinaigrette. I LOVE Renée's dressings. I never find any crap added to them. For the most part it's exactly what I would put in if I was making it from scratch. Poor Tim, another vegetarian dinner.

This week's Good Food Box

In this week's Small Good Food Box we received:

1 head of green leaf lettuce
1 medium English cucumber
3lbs of local Spartan apples
1 bag of local carrots
4 oranges
1 big bunch of broccoli
1 bunch of swiss chard
2.5lbs of local russet potatoes
8 oz of local mushrooms

Not bad for $12 dollars! Now I just have to figure out what to make with everything...any ideas?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Stale bread, a pepper starting to turn, and a Lemon anyone?

Using every piece of food we bring into the house and not turning it into waste is my goal, but it can definitely take some creative thinking, or at least a good snuggle in a comfy chair with a pile of cookbooks and some time on your hands.

Thank you to Donna Dooher and Claire Stubbs who gave me a free, signed copy of their cookbook Out to Brunch: At Mildred Pierce Restaurant which has a fabulous way to use up some really, really stale bread and a starting to wrinkle red pepper. Tonights dinner includes a slight variation to their Roasted Pepper and Basil Strata.

Serves 6 [hopefully this thing freezes well since there are only two of us]

Before you start...
The night before, remove all the crusts from the loaf and slice bread into 3/4" cubes. Spread the cubes out onto a baking sheet and leave out to dry overnight. The drier the bread, the better our results will be. [Hopefully crust isn't too much of an issue since my bread dried out somewhere around 3 or 4 weeks ago in the fridge.]

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup onion, thinly sliced
1 loaf of their perfect breakfast brioche (page 32 in the cookbook) or crusty Italian loaf, cubed and dried (about 10 cups)
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup fontina cheese, grated [I had cheddar in the fridge, so I used that]
1 cup roasted red or yellow peppers, peeled, seeded, and sliced [I didn't feel like the hastle of roasting them, I just used fresh]
1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
5 large eggs
1 cup milk [it called for 2%, but we're skim people so that's what I used]
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt [I used sea-salt since I'm out of kosher salt]
1 teaspoon dry mustard

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft and just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, toss together the dry bread cubes with the onions, feta, and fontina cheeses, roasted peppers, and basil.

In a small bowl [Tim's not going to be happy about the number of dishes this meal causes!], whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, and dry mustard. Pour the egg mixture over the bread cubes, gently tossing to combine.

Divide the bread mixture evenly into a buttered jumbo muffin tin (for 6 muffins). Cover lightly with plastic wrap and leave in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the plastic wrap and place the muffin tin on a baking sheet. Bake the strata for 40 minutes until puffed and golden brown. Enjoy immediately.

~::~ After the Meal ~::~

Wow! I need to have stale bread around more often. Who knew bread as hard as a rock can actually be turned into something other than just bread crumbs? These were delicious! Even Tim liked them.

The chicken breasts I baked with thyme, lemon zest, lemon slices, salt, pepper, and orange juice, were okay, but a little dry. But it used up that lemon that was leftover from the Sole I made a few weeks ago.