Posts Tagged ‘dinner’

Chili-glazed pork and sweet potato hash

In recipe on February 16, 2011 at 7:31 am

Mad‘s back with another guest post! Don’t forget to head over to her blog for the whole Dinner & an Album feature!

I consider myself a fan and connoisseur of pork in just about any formation, be it loins, ribs, roast, chops, or the king of pork products, BACON, so it’s always fun to try out a new approach to cooking this most appetizing of meats. This recipe for chili-glazed pork was relatively simple, and goes exceedingly well with the side dish of savory sweet potato hash.

You can do a lot of things with pork tenderloin since its shape gives it a propensity for being stuffed with any number of hearty delectables, but in this case we’re taking the easy route by simply coating the outside with salt, pepper, olive oil, chili powder and maple syrup. (Who wants to bother with kitchen twine anyway?) Admittedly, I did go a bit heavier on the “glazed” part of this recipe than the “chili” part, but the proportions are pretty malleable depending on your preference for spiciness/sweetness. The end result is an aromatic, mouthwatering main course that is also quick and filling.

If the pork was the famous, high-paid star of this dinner production, the hash was the underrated character actor who ultimately stole the show. Deepak Chopra has this thing about “the flavors of life,” which describes the benefits of a diet that includes a wide range of color and texture. This idea appeals to both the artist and foodie in me, and the dark oranges and greens of the potato hash are definitely as attractive as they delicious. Though the ingredients may seem sparse (it’s literally sweet potatoes, shallots and spinach), the mélange is comforting and savory and packs a nutritional punch to boot. Let’s hear it for unintentionally eating healthy!

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Minestrone soup

In most recommended, recipe on January 24, 2011 at 8:17 am

Alice Waters is the undisputed reigning queen of California cuisine (read: fresh, local, and seasonal). In fact, she’s pretty much the face of healthy eating everywhere. I swear I read her name in every article about Ways to Eat Now. Maybe there’s just an Alice Waters robot out there who provides quotes automatically and the real Alice Waters is actually off questing delicious produce.

I have been lucky enough to eat at her Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse (the cafe, though, not downstairs), and what sings through her cooking is that freshness. Everything has a zest to it, even when ingredients are prepared very simply.

For whatever reason, I’ve never really been drawn to her recipes in my own kitchen. Mad has her book The Art of Simple Food, and I’m going to blame the fact that the hardcover copy is just too darn pretty to cook with (I get nervous about pretty cookbooks. How will they look when they’ve had close encounters of the oil kind?!). But during cleanse week, I was looking to branch out, soup-wise, and came across her minestrone recipe.

Wow. Wow wow wow. I didn’t expect that it would be that good, especially when you are used to eating Campbell’s very tomato-y kind. This is a fresh, almost tangy minestrone.

Despite having consciously made a grocery list that same day, I didn’t have some of the ingredients she used, so I’m writing mine up with how I did it.

Minestrone soup
Adapted from Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food

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Chickpea Bajane

In recipe on January 17, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Aren’t you digging these fantastic guest posts from Mad?

If you ever get “voluntold” to make dinner, and the recipe at hand looks like something Clarissa’s mom would have made, just go with it. Appearances can be deceiving.

Chickpea Bajane did not pique my interest at first glance. By that I mean, upon looking at the ingredients list, my face dissolved into gaping maw. A fennel bulb… and leeks? With quinoa? Uh-huh. Maybe I’ll just have cereal for dinner instead. However, as I continued reading, things started to look up. A CUP of wine. Indeed. 5 cloves of garlic. Go on. Thyme and chickpeas. Maybe this will work.

Sometimes you just need a little faith that everything will come together in the end. Despite a very healthy ingredient list, this dish is incredibly flavorful and filling! Shocking, I know. The combination of fennel, garlic, wine and thyme creates a very unusual flavor and consistency that is buttery, moist and, well, fennel-y. Although “Bajane” is a Provençal word for “midday meal”, it’s perfectly suited for a weeknight dinner as it is light and reheats well for lunch the next day.

On an effort scale of 1 to 10 (1 being dinner through a feeding tube and 10 being a nice Coq au Vin or Baked Alaska), I’d give this a 4.5, due to all the chopping. Otherwise it is a very straightforward, bullet-proof dish.

Adapted from a recipe from Cooking Light.

Chickpea Bajane

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Black bean burger

In recipe on January 4, 2011 at 6:50 pm

One of the best things about living in 2011 (as compared to 2001, let’s say) is the lack of email forwards and chain mail. Remember when every other email you received had pink sparkles and told you to send it on within 24 hours under pain of your crush finding out you liked him/her? Remember?!?!

So, blast from the past: I recently received an email chain letter for recipes, which I thought was worth the effort. The gig was you had to send on a recipe to the person listed in the email, add yourself to the second spot on the list and send on to your friends.

Looks like nobody else believes in chain letters anymore, because I have yet to receive a single recipe. I did, however, get one person (who shall remain nameless) who just responded to me instead of the name on the chain. She claims this is the “best freaking veggie burger of your life,” and I admit, it’s pretty freaking good.

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Vegetarian pot pie

In recipe on December 8, 2010 at 10:16 am

Wintertime It’s winter-time. Well, not officially, but it’s rainy and cold here in the Bay Area. The roommates and I put up the tree (pictured!). The cat has gleefully discovered that a huge piece of foliage makes a great hiding space.

We got the tree last Sunday, right when it started pouring. By the time we had wrangled it into the house, set it up, and enjoyed some boozey hot chocolate, it was almost dinner time. I have wanted to make a vegetarian pot-pie for a while. I didn’t feel like running out to the store for thyme, but it really should be used.

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Sweet potato and black bean burrito

In recipe on November 10, 2010 at 3:03 pm

When I read some of my favorite cooking blogs, many of the writers I most admire frequently mention how they’re inspired by something fresh and beautiful at the farmer’s market, and then come home to create a seasonal, lovely dish.

I’m usually inspired to cook by what’s moldering in my fridge. Take the other week – I had a whole bag of sweet potatoes (the orange ones, and I always forget  if they are actually yams) that had been hanging out for I couldn’t remember how long. I had been roasting them, which is delicious but gets old fast. So I decided to stick them into a burrito.

Note: to cut the recipe time, it is totally possible to peel, cube and cook the sweet potato the day before. It will make your total cooking time a lot faster.

Sweet potato and black bean burritos

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Baked mac and cheese (and bonus rosemary-apricot pork tenderloin)

In most recommended, recipe on October 6, 2010 at 8:49 am

Mac & cheese and rosemary-apricot pork

This weekend I tried to make pasta for the first time. The recipe was deceptively easy – mix flour and salt in mound on a cutting board, then crack eggs in mound and slowly mix with hands.

From the first egg it was a disaster. I guess my mound was more of a plateau, and egg started running all over the counter, and I had to start mixing it really fast. And it was so sticky! (That probably should have been my first clue).

After the dough sat, I aimed to roll it out. “Who needs a pasta maker?” I said to myself. “Italian grandmothers used wine bottles to roll out pasta*!” So I sat out with my rolling pin, heaps of flour, and some butternut squash filling.

Erm. The dough was really hard to roll out, and I ended up with 2 inch by 2 inch very thick squares of pasta with probably a drop of filling. I dropped the little buggers into boiling water anyways, thinking maybe they would become more like ravioli I recognized.

Not so. My roommates looked nervously at the small bricks on their plates. I tried to alleviate the matter with lots of thyme butter, but the fact remained this was a dinner FAIL.**

So I’m not posting that recipe. Instead, I’m posting a recipe that I love, that is comforting and delicious and I should be able to make with my eyes closed, but still crack open my How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

*That may or may not be true.
** And no, you totally don’t get pictures of it.

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BBQ chicken pizza

In recipe on October 3, 2010 at 5:47 pm

I recently took a trip to my home town recently. Funny to pass through all the haunts you used to traipse through as a youth, especially when you were a teenager looking for places to go out with your friends.

In the suburbs, this translated to mall trips and chain restaurants. Places like the California Pizza Kitchen, which, as trashy as it sounds, inspired the recipe today. It was my favorite thing to order at age sixteen, and, well, sometimes a girl still wants a barbeque chicken pizza.

One piece of truth is that barbeque sauce makes everything better. So slathering it on  a pizza instead of tomato sauce was a stroke of genius that I hope made someone a lot of money.

VEG NOTE: Can be made with faux chicken strips covered in bbq sauce.

ED NOTE: No picture this time cause it got devoured too darn fast.

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Tofu with braised carrots

In recipe on September 10, 2010 at 5:37 pm

Fancy tofu

Some foods come with baggage. I’ll never be able to eat fava beans (even if they are growing like weeds in my garden) because of THIS.

Although not associated with a psychopathic murderer, tofu comes with its own baggage. If I were to anthropomorphize tofu, the words “self-righteous,” “earnest,” and “bland” come to mind. Tofu tries hard but always comes off a bit judge-y.

Here are things that tofu is not (usually): edgy, sophisticated, flavorful. It’s not a show-off dish, it’s a trusty sidekick that can’t help but being the straight guy.

Then Vegetarian Times goes and proves me wrong! This tofu dish, with braised carrots and tomatoes, is tasty and, dare I say, quite refined. Serve it to impress and do away with all those nasty tofu misconceptions.

Tofu with braised carrots

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Spaghetti sauce with meat

In recipe on September 10, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Spaghetti sauce with meat

I went on vacation recently! It was absolutely splendid – Greece and Turkey (well, Istanbul) for a little over 2 weeks. The food was pretty good – while I can certainly wait to have another Greek salad, I did eat some excellent Cretan snails, fish, and a zucchini pie that I will dream about for the rest of my life.

When I came back, I definitely had a hankering to cook again (hurray! said my roommates). And what I had been craving most was some sort of Americanized Italian food, something that comes in big servings with easy, tasty flavors.

So I made spaghetti sauce.

NOTE. This recipe CANNOT be made vegetarian. The meat fat was an essential part of the sauce, and, while you could forego and just do onions and tomatoes, I can’t speak to the richness and equivalent deliciousness.

Those who enjoy dead animal flesh (like me!), ENJOY. Invite friends, it makes a lot (or freezes well!)

Spaghetti sauce with meat

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