Friday, April 30, 2010

Food Waste Friday

And, another week with too much food waste goes by. I had the best of intentions, but it didn't work out. I am so embarrassed by all of this waste.

I lost:

14 ounce can tomatoes with chiles (this got opened by mistake and I never actually got around to making something with it like I meant to)
1 10-ounce bag spinach (I don't want to talk about this; it's completely embarrassing how it happened)
6 fingerling potatoes (I actually forgot these existed, and then I realised there were potato plants growing in my kitchen. If I had the space for a proper garden I would have planted them; unfortunately I don't)
1 red bell pepper (I just forgot this is in the fridge. I was poking through the fridge and discovered it and was going to eat it when I noted that it was.. well, very, very rotted).
a small but undetermined amount of smoked salmon (How did this get in my house? And why weren't there any bagels in the house to go with it? This would NEVER have been wasted had I known it existed; I have capers and everything)
3 tortillas

Monday, April 26, 2010

Pasta Puttanesca

I wrote this post 10 days ago, but I was so busy I forgot to take a picture (which is sad, because it was quite delicious-looking; I wouldn't mind staring at this food for long stretches of the time I'm supposed to be learning things). This will be made again soon so here's the post, and I'll add the picture the very next time I make it.

The end of this semester is really just doing me in. So, as you might expect, we are living on take-out and meals that are very fast to prepare (plus lots of sandwiches). Pasta puttanesca is one of my favourite meals, being full of briny things and yumminess. I really do love brined things. Plus, you really never can go wrong anywhere anchovies are present. Hope you enjoy!

1 pound pasta, prepared according to package directions (I like spaghetti or linguini, but you should use what you like)
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 tin anchovies (rinse them)
1/3 cup capers (rinsed or not; I like foods saltier than most do so I don't rinse them)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
7 cloves chopped garlic
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 - 3/4 cup oil cured olives, pitted and chopped (or kalamata)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped basil

Put oil and chile flakes in a saucepan and turn the heat on to very low. Let it infuse for 10-15 minutes, then add garlic and anchovies, increasing heat to medium. Stir to keep the garlic from burning and to break up the anchovies and cook until the garlic is lightly growned but not burned. Add in the tomatoes and cook for about 10 minutes, then add in the capers, herbs and olives and cook another 10 minutes. Serves 2-4.

Sad to be Neglecting You

Hi guys. I just wanted to let you know that I'm sad to be neglecting you so much. After the 5th, I'll be done with all of the semester save one final on the 13th. I have loads of things I want to cook and share with you (because, y'know. When I'm supposed to be thinking of nothing but differentials, all I can think about is the stuff I don't have time to cook right now), so please keep being patient with me and know I won't be silent forever. I'm just trying to get through one of the roughest semesters I've ever had and while I can see the end of the road coming full speed ahead, I have so much studying to get through over the next week or so that it's actually moving a little too quickly.

If I manage to get in a couple quick meals before this semester is over, I'll make sure to post them!

You guys are the best!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Food Waste Friday

Yet again, not a perfect week. I still feel like I'm doing well, but not as well as I could be doing. Still plenty of room for improvement.

This week, I lost:

2 small onions (who got moldy. Huh)
1 small chunk of feta that I forgot was still in the fridge, about 1 ounce, maybe 2

Friday, April 16, 2010

Food Waste Friday

This was a huge waste week for me. Not really sure how I can waste so little for a while, then all of the sudden it's like a storm of waste. This week I lost:

2 small cucumbers (the little Armenian ones)
1/2 cup olive salad (seriously? This goes bad?)
2 servings fried rice

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Baklava

So I have a confession to make. Phyllo dough intimidates me. Thin, fussy, drying out quickly and tearing easily, it always just seems like a lot of work to deal with. For ages I've been intending to make baklava (one of my all time favourite desserts) instead of buying it like I usually do, but I've stalled and stalled simply to avoid dealing with the phyllo. On Wednesday, I ended up promising to bring a tray of baklava to school with me. I could've chosen any other dessert, but I figured if someone was expecting me to bring it, I'd have no choice but to stop stalling. I created this recipe by combining my most beloved traits of all the different kinds of baklava I enjoy eating, so this is a fairly "generic" baklava that doesn't exemplify the traits of any one specific region's way of making it. So, here we are. Hope you enjoy!

1 pound phyllo (filo) dough
1 cup butter, melted and made into clarified butter*
1 cup pistachios, plus another 1/4 cup for garnish
2 cups walnuts
1 scant teaspoon cinnamon (okay, I just shook in however much I wanted, but it was around that much)
1/4 - 1/3 cup sugar (I used somewhere in between)
1 tablespoon rose water
1 batch of syrup (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine nuts, cinnamon, sugar and rose water in a food processor and pulse until you have a nice, crumbly mixture. Brush the bottom of a 13x9 pan generously with the clarified butter, then layer in 16 sheets of phyllo dough, brushing each sheet generously with the butter as you layer along, including the top sheet. Sprinkle half of the nut mixture evenly on top of the phyllo, then repeat the process with the next 8 sheets (don't forget to keep brushing on the butter!). After those 8 sheets have been added, evenly sprinkle the remainder of the nut mixture. Then layer the remaining sheets, brushing with butter in between. Some people like to pour the remaining clarified butter over the top, and some people do not. I like to brush on a little extra. You should do it the way you like to. Cut the baklava (if you wait until it's cooked, it won't go as well), either in diamonds or squares. Start making the syrup, then put the pan of pastry in the oven. Bake for about an hour, or until it's nice and golden brown (but not too much so). As soon as it comes out of the oven, pour the syrup evenly over the baklava and let it hang out overnight at room temperature to soak in. Makes 1 tray.

Syrup:

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 small cinnamon stick (1-2" long)
10 cardamom pods
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon orange blossom water

Combine all of the above, and cook over medium heat, stirring continuously until the sugar melts. Let it continue to cook without stirring for 10-15 minutes, or until it becomes thick and syrupy. Remove from heat, remove cinnamon and cardamom, then let stand until room temperature.

* To make clarified butter, put the butter in a saucepan and melt over very low heat. Some people boil the butter until all the water has boiled off and the solids have sunk to the bottom, but I prefer to cook it over low heat for an hour or two, because I love the nutty flavour it acquires when clarified slowly. You should use whichever method you prefer. Remove any foam from the butter that may have formed, then pour off the oil, leaving the solids in the pan. This is also lactose-free and just pure fat once it's done, so those with lactose intolerance can also eat it. Store any leftovers in the fridge and use as you would normally use butter in your cooking.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Shrimp Fried Rice

Fried rice is one of my favourite ways to use up leftover rice. So much so, that sometimes I make rice just so I can have leftover rice to fry in the next day or two. This was one of those times. I figure most everyone has a way they make fried rice, but I thought I'd share mine. It's a quick meal to have, whether you're tired after work or just trying to fit in all the studying you need to do for your next two tests which are next week. Usually I also like to put some corn it, but it turns out that I'd run out of corn and forgotten to buy more. So it's okay without corn too. Hope you enjoy!

1 small onion, sliced into half moons
1 bell pepper, cut into one inch chunks
1 cup thickly sliced celery
1 cup shredded (or close to) green cabbage
2 eggs
2 cups peeled and deveined shrimp
2-3 cups leftover rice (any kind)
1 tablespoon each: tomato paste, olive oil (infused with garlic or not), sesame oil, hoisin sauce
1-2 teaspoons Sriracha or other spicy sauce
2 teaspoons Mirin
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
parsley or cilantro and Thai basil, chopped (use however much you like)

Heat the pan to medium or medium-high heat and add the olive oil, sesame oil, tomato paste, onions, salt, pepper, hoisin and Sriracha. Cook for about 2 minutes, then add the celery (plus some salt) and cook another 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper, mirin, vinegar, salt, pepper and cabbage, cook 5 more minutes. Spread the veggies all over to evenly coat the bottom of the pan, then add the shrimp (just on top, don't mix because you only want it to cook a little bit right now) and cook 3 more minutes. Add rice and a taste of soy sauce (plus a little more sesame oil or hoisin, if you think it needs it) and stir it all together, then cook until there's a light crust on the bottom of the rice. Stir and cook a little longer (until it's as crispy as you prefer, but without overcooking the shrimp over course). Remove all this from the pan (or push up to the sides, which is honestly what I usually do), then add your eggs and scramble them as they cook. As the eggs begin to be done, toss in the herbs and stir the rice mixture into the eggs. Cook another minute, then serve. Garnish with sesame seeds (and roasted garlic cloves if you're into that sort of thing). Serves 4-6.

Food Waste Friday

Eek. So close to another no waste week. And then I discovered something that probably should've gone out ages ago, but which I hadn't noticed hiding in the fridge.

This week, I lost:

2 ounces brie

And, in the interest of full disclosure, the following tale (this isn't food, but it sort of is food):

The day before Easter, I went to the butcher to pick up Francis' weekly allotment (biweekly?) of femur bones. I buy 1-2 cow femurs and have them cut into 3" pieces, of which he gets one a day for his bedtime snack. A previous time I'd been there, they told me they also sell scrap meat at the same price as the dog bones (30 cents per pound, by the way, and an excellent source of cheap marrow bones if you're so inclined {which I'm not}). This time, I decided to get a couple pounds of this scrap meat to mix into some of his food as a snack. They were insanely busy (I'd forgotten all about Easter, so I didn't know why until later that night), but the girl was very helpful anyway. She went back to get the scrap meat, and came back with a mountain of it. She asked if I wanted more, and I said I'd actually wanted significantly less. But, given how busy they were and also given that they were dealing with me for hardly any money when they could be helping real customers, I took it anyway. It was about 16 pounds. I lugged it all into the house and he ate some for the next couple days. P was going to make it into meatballs and freeze it, but he got caught up studying for a test and I was caught up in the process of catching up on my homework. Wednesday night, I went to make meatballs for him and the smell was so bad I nearly threw up. Francis still wanted his meat, but I couldn't reasonably feed him something that was so obviously rotted. So I threw it away. And so I also lost:

14-15 pounds of scrap beef

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Tomatoes

This isn't a "real" post, in that there aren't any recipes in it. Though later this week or early next, look forward to a baklava post. Anyway, I recently put in a tiny tomato plant. It grew quickly, has several tomatoes growing on it already, and about a billion new blooms. So even though it's not cooking, it is about food. Today, I wrestled on a tomato cage so it'd stop growing into my front yard and took some pictures for you all. I'm looking forward to a long season of freshly picked tomatoes. Whee! If I ever get some time, I'd like to put in an eggplant as well.

The Plant:



Growing Tomatoes:





Saturday, April 03, 2010

Lemony Potato Salad

I got some teeny tiny potatoes recently. They were each about the size of my thumbnail. Too cute for words, really. I thought for a while about what I wanted to do with them, and ultimately I decided on a salad. It's warming up here in Houston, so my thoughts are slowly meandering over to lighter foods. Potatoes don't really qualify as "light" in most cases, but I thought if I freshened it up with some lemon, herbs and summery veggies, it'd be light but still substantial. Hope you enjoy!

1/2 pound baby potatoes (about the size of a thumbnail)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup diced cucumbers
1 small tomato, diced
zest of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/8 cup chopped parsley
1/8 cup chopped basil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)

Heat oven to 400F. Season the potatoes with salt, pepper and olive oil, then roast until soft, 20-30 minutes. Cool slightly, then combine with remaining ingredients (including the oil used to roast the potatoes) and eat warm or cold. Serves 2 as a side or 1 as a meal.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Food Waste Friday

Not a bad week, over all. Particularly given that I haven't cooked a single thing all week, due to how busy with school I've been. I lost:

4 slices sourdough bread.