Thursday, November 3, 2011

Radio Silence

Sorry for the delays; I have several new posts in the works, I promise. Erik and I are also gearing up for the Ohio Beard and Mustache Festival and I am grooming him like a show pony. In the meantime, please enjoy this picture of my new favorite mug.

Monday, October 17, 2011

From the Saltbox: Sweet Potato Wontons

My little sister put up a post on some won tons we made last week. I must admit that I've been caught red-handed, as wonton wrappers are not gluten free. I would like to ask though, since these are one of my favorite appetizers to make, what would you suggest as a replacement? I love that they are hot, and that the outside is crunchy while the inside is soft. What else will provide me with the texture and flavor? Can you fry rice paper?

Regardless, you should check out her post. Won tons are delicious.

the Saltbox: Appetizer Idea: sweet potato wontons

Monday, October 10, 2011

All is Full of Lentils

After this post, a few friends were wondering what happened to all of my prep work. It was pretty, but did it work? Well here's how it fared:

  • For several work lunches, I filled a bowl half full with lentils, nestled a puck of caramelized onions in the center, and topped it with chunks of the roasted butternut squash. I carried along a small contained of my raisin vinaigrette to toss with everything after I heated it at work.
  • Later in the week, I seared a large batch of kale which I also added to the lentils, squash, and vinaigrette.
  • I pureed the last of the cauliflower and it's water with the last of the carrots and squash, some apples, broth, and cayenne pepper for a creamy soup.
  • I NEVER USED THE BRAISED MUSHROOMS WHAT. They looked delicious but I just never wrapped my brain around incorporating them into things, and now they are floating eerily in the back of the fridge like a jar of eyeballs and I am scared to even open them.
The Ginger peeling ginger.
The week after, I added a couple more elements to my repertoire: roasted chicken thighs, poached balsamic fig sauce, brown rice, and a lot more seared kale (it gets so nutty and keeps so well- yum). I mixed and matched them for work all week but it didn't get old because that fig sauce is so darn good. I also made one of my favorite recipes from The Kitchn, warm chickpea salad. A little container of that broke up any monotony that may have lurked. Tomorrow I have some poached salmon with my brown rice and seared kale that I had prepped yesterday.

Erik helped me peel and grate over two pounds of ginger root, which I have mixed with a little vodka in a 16 ounce mason jar in the fridge. It is so wonderful to just reach in and spoon a little out. I've mixed it with the rice, stirred it into salad dressing, and sauteed it with ginger and garlic as a base for many meals already. The time and effort were so worth it; I'm never going back.

Do I like the mass prep? Resounding YES. I will absolutely be keeping this up as much as I can. I have a couple of pumpkins, acorn squash, and some yams that I plan to roast for my next round. I should really be taking more pictures this time too.

And now some business talk. There has been an absence of posts for two reasons:
  1. I have been struggling with a mild case of cooking burnout, partially remedied by...
  2. An excessive amount of eating and ordering out.
Relating to the latter, Erik and I took a long weekend in Nashville for an early birthday present to him, and I took pictures of nearly everything we ate. That is a fairly picture-heavy post in the works, and it's going to hard to write unless I have a giant bowl of snacks next to me because that post will make me HUNGRY. 

Until then,

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Beards are My Spirit Animal

Thank you, beards. Again you have come to my aid. Now I am a garlic peeling machine.

(How to Peel a Head of Garlic in Less Than 10 Seconds from on Vimeo.)

What do you think? I'm going to go try it now!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Beets, Boars.....

Last night, The Ginger and I went out with Hilary & Sean of The Saltbox Blog (they were delightedly and geekily taking pictures of their food too, so pop over there in a couple of days and see their perspective). We were there both for my birthday, and for the biannual Cincinnati Restaurant Week, where at participating eateries, you can select three course meals for $26.11.

Full disclaimer: while I am trying to cook more healthily at home, I do not always stick to it when I dine out at the big-ticket restaurants. I am first and foremost a gluttonous foodie nerd, and if there is a steak tartare with crackers to be had by a chef I hugely admire, then so help me I will have it.

Fuller disclaimer: while I am trying to wean myself completely from gluten, I still have glutinous products (pasta, tortillas, crackers) in my pantry, and I hate wasting food. Some of it I can-- and have-- donated, but I refuse to simply throw it out and you will occasionally see it pop up on this blog as and until I cook through it. I realize the lack of consistency and drawbacks to both of these disclaimers, but I believe in trade-offs more than I believe in denial.

The Brown Dog Cafe was my weapon of choice. I had been there for a restaurant week two years prior and thoroughly enjoyed my dining experience. They specialize in wild game preparation, with their flagship dish being the caffeinated boar: tenderloin rubbed in coffee and served with an indulgent demi-glace. I had previously tried their duck, and it was the gamiest preparation I had ever had, with a great emphasis on savory notes, as opposed to sweet Asian-inspired flavors.

My starter: steak tartar with a quail egg and micro greens.
My salad, a micro Waldorf
The Ginger's salad, slices of beets with a fried goat cheese fritter.

I didn't take pictures of the main course because I was too excited and it completely slipped my mind. I had a deliciously rare ahi tuna steak with a slice of seared foie gras on top, which was accompanied by candied figs that just melted in your mouth. I am adding figs to my prep lists for dinner condiments for sure now.

Afterwards we went Japp's, a newer venue downtown that specializes in revival cocktails and original creations, many incorporating coffee from a local roaster. My favorite was the house special of the evening, a mulled peach wine they kept on the bar in a steaming silver vat. I was looking forward to trying two of their coffee cocktails, but unfortunately they had run out of a key component for each (Dojo's vanilla gelato and egg whites). Alas, next time! Fortunately they are right around the corner from Neon's so I imagine I will be migrating here in the winter when the patio there closes and it gets cramped indoors.

Erik's absinthe cocktail, the Van Gogh, aflame...
...and the barkeep stabbing burnt sugar into the drink.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Leg(ume)s For Days

I'll blog that cover salad too.
In my quest to get back to the Pesca- Ovo-Vegetarian Diet Part 2: Now With Less Gluten!, I've found that I can't rely on my old fast meal standards like chicken and pasta. As a result, I'm crunched for time because I don't start thinking about preparing dinner in the middle of the day and before you know it, dinner is on the table at 8:45 with a 9:30 bedtime looming.

This month's Whole Living Magazine as well as The Kitchn have been pushing the idea of prepping individual ingredients as opposed to entire meals, and then improvising different combinations throughout the week. Rice is one ingredient that I usually make in huge batches and then reheat for days, but I hadn't thought of broadening my mise en place. Smart.

With a free Saturday afternoon, I put on some yoga pants and Vampire Weekend Pandora Radio and got to work.
Oh yeah baby do that delicious thing.

Today's prep list:
  • Caramelized onions
  • Roasted butternut squash
  • Lentils
  • Golden raisin vinaigrette
  • Braised mushrooms
  • Blanched cauliflower
  • A sad few blanched carrots (they were about to go bad)

In a couple of hours I amassed a nice pile of jars. And at this point, I'm feeling pretty healthy. My hope with all of this prep work is not only to stop the dinner panic that has been happening more frequently, but also to prevent so much food waste. If I can at least blanch or freeze half the veggies that languish in my crisper, I will save myself the humiliation of reaching into that drawer and emerging slimy-handed and full of shame.

Future prep list:
  • Ginger root > in vodka
  • Sweet potatoes > parboiled?
  • Sliced celery > frozen in bags
  • Polenta
  • Quinoa
  • Seared greens of some kind, probably kale
  • Something with excessive tomatoes > possibly this?
The aftermath L-R: caramelized onions frozen in a muffin tin, lentils, braised mushrooms, roasted squash, raisin vinaigrette, blanched carrots, blanched cauliflower.