Cod and Potatoes — Whole30 Check-In

Cod with Romesco Sauce by Amy Roth Photo. Recipe: Bon Appetit Magazine

A week and a half in, and I’m doing great with Whole30! There have been no mid-afternoon slumps or hangriness to deal with, but eating this way does require much more thought than simply throwing together a quick sandwich or heating up an Amy’s cheese enchilada entrée. (Honestly, I needed an Amy’s intervention, anyway.) Avoiding easy fillers like rice or bread has been a little challenging, but nothing I can’t deal with, and I’ve lost a few pounds, though that wasn’t my goal at all.

I’m still amazed by how much unnecessary sugar is in our food. I’m generally not much of a packaged food eater (save for the aforementioned enchiladas), but love condiments and sauces, and many of my favorites are taboo. Also, I miss cheese. Terribly. It’s my one craving and I’m going to be the saddest person around if I find dairy gives me problems when I start reintroducing food.

The Meals

There were a couple of fantastic meals I’ve had in the past week that I want to share with you today. Up top, you’ll see my photo for Bon Appetit’s Cod with Romesco Sauce, Hazelnuts, Lemon and Parsley. It was eye-opening, mind-boggling… just a fantastic meal with only a few components. And where, may I ask, has romesco sauce been all my life?! I’ve read about it for years, but never took the plunge until I made this recipe, and now it’s all I want to eat. I want to proselytize door to door in my neighborhood so everyone can share in this pure joy of mine! Yeah, I know, but it’s honestly that good. Cod isn’t something I eat very often, but it works so well here, I’m not sure I’d want to change anything next time.

Deborah Madison's Potato and Green Chile Stew by Amy Roth Photo.

And then, there’s Deborah Madison’s Potato and Green Chile Stew from Food52. Whenever I make this, I wonder why I don’t have it more often. It’s part of Food52’s Genius Recipes collection, and with good reason: Deborah Madison is an alchemist, creating kitchen gold from a handful of common ingredients. It’s a recipe that’s easy to convert for Whole30 compliance (skip the sour cream, which I usually do anyway) or for vegan/vegetarian diets (use vegetable broth instead of chicken and skip the sour cream). With our turn to winter weather now that Spring is here, this soup was the perfect thing to warm me after spending a lot of time outdoors yesterday.

Some Exciting News

Last summer, I got a call about a cookbook project that needed a quick turnaround. “It’s Misty Copeland’s Ballerina Body. Are you interested?” Well, my fingers couldn’t hit the keyboard fast enough to reply that absolutely, I was! Because of the abbreviated shooting schedule, I enlisted the help of local food stylist Darcie Hunter of Gourmet Creative for most of the plated dishes, and together we created the food photos featured in the book, released just this week. If you’re interested in creating a lean, strong, healthy body, want some great recipes (and they really ARE great!), or just want to read more about Misty, pick up a copy! I’ve shared a few of my favorites below.

Ballerina Body food images | Amy Roth Photo
Clockwise, from upper-left: Raw Barres, Black Bean Soup with Shrimp, Vegetables, Fruit Still Life, Egg White Fritatta

From the Market — The Kickoff

Grilled potatoes, radish green pesto, shaved asparagus

We went straight from winter to summer around here, and not a moment too soon. I’m stuck in an office today instead of out enjoying perfect grilling/hanging out/whatever weather, but at least it gives me time to reflect on last weekend’s fixin’s.

We’re going to have some green on this blog and lots of it now that our local farmers’ market is back for the season! It was a bittersweet opening, as some of you know — our market is now dog-free. Poor Gil looked like a lost soul just wandering around without the boys, while I did what I always do and loaded up on good stuff to carry home. We’ll probably venture out to other markets that are dog-friendly in upcoming weeks, so stay tuned for a full report.

grilled potatoes, radish-green pesto, shaved asparagus

I felt like an appetizer to get the ball rolling, and ended up with one that would be just as good for barbecues as for a light dinner during grilling season — grilled potato rounds with radish-green pesto and shaved asparagus. It’s vegetarian, nutrient-dense and good hot or cold (though I give the nod to hot-off-the-grill because crispy grilled potatoes just can’t be beat).

grilled potatoes, radish-green pesto, shaved asparagus

It’s easily adapted to use what you have in the house. The radish-green pesto came about because I hate throwing anything away, and a pesto is just about the easiest way to use extra greens. If you don’t have radish greens or just don’t like them, use any kind of pesto you prefer. I had some garlic confit in the fridge, so I tossed the asparagus with garlic oil and lemon juice, but go ahead and use olive oil if that’s what you have.

Springtime pie

For lunch, I rejiggered my triple-garlic pizza, adding quick-pickled wild garlic & spring onions and shaved asparagus and radish-green pesto leftovers. Really good stuff.

These quick-pickled wild garlic & spring onions were inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s pickled onions.

after baking

A thin layer of mozzarella and grated parmesan and garlic confit (natch) tied the whole pizza together. We made short work of it, I’m afraid, but I still have the makings for one more pie, which should be just the thing to kick off this next weekend.

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “From the Market — The Kickoff”

Ready, Set, Grill!

It’s been too long since I last posted — a heady combination of travel, an insane work schedule and a cold that wouldn’t quit conspired to keep me from updating — but I had to kick off the Memorial! Day! Weekend! with something grilled, so here you go: Lamb burgers with gluten-free buns.

Atypically, I tried a new recipe for the burgers instead of going with the tried-and-true kofta concoction. It was as essentially burgery as you’d expect but I missed that depth and balance of flavor from spices thrown in by the handful, so I’ll likely stick with it next time. But I did love the toppings enough to keep them on future burgers — sun-dried tomatoes, oil-cured black olives and arugula.

Normally, when we go out for burgers, I’ll order mine without the bun and be perfectly happy, but I wanted to give gluten-free buns a try this time around since I was doing the burgerizing myownself. As always, I turned to Gluten-Free Girl for the recipe and think it’ll be my go-to for the rest of the summer. That’s assuming the buns freeze well, anyway — they took forever and a day to prepare, but were so worth it (and most of the time was resting time for the dough). I was out of potato flour, so I substituted equal parts rice flour and sorghum flour, which might’ve made the buns a little heavy, but the buns were so yeasty and, dare I say, bread-like I ate one on its own.

But you can’t have a burger without fronsh fries (why, that’s un-American!), so I dug deep into the archives for my standard oven-baked garlic fries that I see no need to depart from.

So Happy Memorial Day Weekend and unofficial start to summer! Hope the weather’s as nice where you are as it (finally) is here, and you can take advantage of it with a little grilling.

Oh, and our weekly Ringwood Farmers’ Market starts again this weekend! So much to look forward to . . . fresh vegetables, organic fruits, and quality meats and eggs that only traveled a few miles to get here. Can’t get better than that.

They call me “Tater Soup”

Potage Parmentier

I found myself at home mid-week trying to sleep off a sinus infection, but got bored with all of that lying about after a while. (This development is disturbing to me, since I used to be quite happy lazing the day away, watching trashy TV and napping. When did I turn into my dad, needing a project to keep me happy and productive?!) So I did what I always do; I escaped to the kitchen. Still groggy and hungover-ish from Nyquil, I wasn’t up for a full-blown meal, but a simple soup was something I could handle and Potage Parmentier fit the bill perfectly. It’s the easiest thing in the world to make and any additions to the potato and leek base amount to a “why not?” soup.

Should I add celery root? Why not?
How about some apple? Why not?
Maybe a whole head of roasted garlic? Hell, yeah! I mean…why not?

potato & leek soup with celery root, apple & roasted garlic

The soup left me with a small batch of potato and apple peels, which I hated to see go to waste, so I munched on the apple peels while the soup simmered, and turned the potato peels into a nutrient-filled version of fries…simply stir fried in a little bit of olive oil until golden brown, then tossed with salt & pepper.

Waste not, want not.

They’re really amazing drizzled with truffle oil, or better yet, melted truffle butter. But this time I just ate them plain, with a glass of iced tea. Perfection.

Potato peel fries, close-up

The boys were very supportive of my earlier decision to nap extensively, but couldn’t agree to end the day in a productive manner.

Rufus & Otis, doing what they do best.

The meal in the iron pan

This slushy winter weather has pressed my cast iron skillet into heavy rotation lately. As our mothers and grandmothers knew, cast iron cookware is perfect for homey meals or stove-to-oven cooking with a minimum of mess.

Awash in laziness last weekend, I decided to try my hand at a Spanish torta, as it required the relatively simple journey from living room to kitchen instead of a more arduous trek to the grocery store. The recipes that turned up in a Google search varied only slightly from each other, so I got the gist of them, used Martha’s (yes, we’re on a first-name basis) as a guide to ingredient amounts and oven temperature and set out to create my own vegetarian version.

To the basic recipe, I added diced red bell pepper, sautéed broccoli rabe (leafy greens only), garlic and a hefty dose of hot pimentòn. (Several of the recipes I found called for chorizo, which I agree would be a superb addition, but there was that whole going-out thing to avoid. The pimentòn seemed an acceptable substitute under the circumstances.) Since I don’t have much experience with cast iron pans, I was concerned that the potatoes would stick, but with the pan preheated and coated with a thin film of oil, that wasn’t a problem in any way.

The torta alone was our lunch, but I had a few tricks up my sleeve for dinner. OK, only one trick, but what a beauty — Zuni Café roast chicken. I made the turkey version for Thanksgiving and was so shockingly pleased with the outcome, I had to try the chicken sooner rather than later. And it didn’t disappoint. All of the raves you’ve probably read across the internet are absolutely true — the chicken is moist and perfectly seasoned with delicious crispy, browned skin. Mmmmm. We managed to keep some of it for leftovers the following day, but only just. I think it’s likely to go into the weekly rotation.

recipes after the jump

Continue reading “The meal in the iron pan”

And now we nap

After all of that stressing out over the turkey, I’m overjoyed to report that the excess dry brining didn’t hurt one bit; that was one delicious bird. It had a very concentrated turkey flavor because the cells weren’t flooded with water, so now I have a go-to method for all of the Thanksgivings in my future. Also, I’m looking forward to being the very last food blogger on earth to try the Zuni method with chicken.

I was so busy cooking and serving yesterday that I forgot to take pictures while everyone was here, but I did remember to capture the first of our (probably many) leftover meals this morning: mashed potato pancakes. Since I used cream cheese in the potatoes, they held together well after sitting in the fridge overnight, so I added an egg and some milk to thin them out a bit and dropped the thick batter by the tablespoon into a hot pan sizzling with butter. With all of that richness, the only thing the pancakes needed was a drizzle of warmed lingonberry jam to put them over the top.

Gil’s family left right after dinner, but our friend Mark and his dog Larry stayed the night, so I had another opportunity to rectify my photo laziness by capturing the Many Moods of Larry this morning.

cute doggie pics after the jump

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If I latke you, and you latke me …

latke2.jpg

As we are a dual-faith household, I thought it’d be nice to give Gil, if not equal play, at least a nod in the midst of my Advent posts. So after my stunning and unexpected victory over my nemesis the oven fry recently, I grew bold and decided to tackle the latke this weekend, even keeping it as traditional as possible! That’s right — no bacon grease, no smoked paprika or roasted garlic to liven things up. Nope, just potatoes, onions, egg, a little whole wheat flour (no matzo meal at our local grocery, sorry), salt and pepper, and olive oil for frying.

Bow down to the latke queen! These were completely delicious — crispy on the outside, still soft on the inside, oniony, and not oily at all. It probably helps that I didn’t fry them in nearly as much oil as most recipes call for, but most of them seemed a lot like suggestions, anyway, so I tweaked. We ate them with the usual suspects — sour cream and applesauce — and then took a nap. I hear that part’s traditional, too.

I think I still prefer the fries, but these will definitely get play at least yearly at Hanukkah.

For the love of onions

bangers.jpg

Honestly, is there anything better than caramelized onions?

Debate amongst yourselves, but NJ, you can just stifle over there with your wails of, “Chocolate! WHY must you always gloss over chocolate?!” cuz I don’t want to hear it. Oh sure, bacon is a wondrous thing — a taste sensation I’m quite fond of, as you know — but it’s a star that can easily upstage other elements of a dish. But onions, well, onions are real background players — they aren’t glamorous or sexy. They’re rarely the object of a photographer’s love and don’t seem to star in food porn too often. They may be under-appreciated and content to play a supporting role, but with a little love and devotion they can go from bit player to the star of the show. In fact, I built my whole meal around caramelized onions yesterday. I could eat them like candy. Keep your Halloween treats — all I want are sweet, savory, amber-colored onions!

What better way to let these beauties shine than to serve them with plain, hearty fare like bangers and mash? And so I started the onion gravy, cooking it slowly to build flavor. While the thinly-sliced onions (sweet and Spanish) were sautéeing in butter and sweet almond oil, I peeled and cubed a celery root and an equal amount of potatoes and put them to boil.

When the onions had browned, I added about a tablespoon of flour and cooked it for about 30 seconds to get rid of the raw flour taste, then stirred in a splash of white wine. I let that cook down until most of the liquid was gone, then added some chopped thyme and beef broth, and simmered until the gravy was thick.

Once the celery root and potatoes were cooked through, I mashed them together with a little milk and just enough Dijon mustard to give them a kick, and because I couldn’t stand the thought of not having at least a little green on my plate, I added some braised kale with garlic. In keeping with the theme of subverting the dominant paradigm, the bangers were almost an afterthought — split, skinless chicken and apple sausage browned in a tiny bit of olive oil.

They just had to take a back seat this time, though. The caramelized onions would’ve stolen their thunder, no matter what.

And no, I didn’t take any pictures of the onions (ho-hum), but did root around in the archives for an even uglier duckling — an unwashed but much-loved celery root:

celeriac.jpg

Stringed victory

ovenfries.jpg

Few things have foiled me so completely in the kitchen as the humble oven fry. A dish with so few requirements — potatoes, oil, salt, an oven, and a baking sheet — shouldn’t cause such consternation, but I’ve found myself repeatedly throwing away batches of potatoes that were burned on one side (and occasionally spot welded to the baking sheet), yet not quite cooked all the way through. Even Cook’s Illustrated steered me wrong; their water-soaked fries might’ve been the worst of the bunch.

Sure, these fiascoes were discouraging, but I never let them stop me from chasing my dream of one day producing the perfect oven fry — crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. My failures usually end with Gil making an impromptu run to McDonald’s for backup fries (and fresh air), so he had his keys ready last weekend as I tested another recipe. He needn’t have bothered, though. This one was successful and I have Cooking Light to thank for it, once again.

I’m not exactly sure why it worked this time, but I do have a few theories. I left the skins on this time (because I’d bought organic potatoes), which might’ve helped. Also, I didn’t soak the potatoes at all, nor did I skimp on oil. Even two tablespoons over three servings isn’t THAT much compared to the real deal. Well, whatever the reason, they were glorious and, I hope, replicable.

dressedfries.jpg

Update, 12/20/07: Welcome, Last Night’s Dinner readers! Pull up a chair and make yourselves comfortable.

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “Stringed victory”

This one’s for you, Dad

double-pork.jpg

Despite my well-documented love of the other white meat, there’s a cut of pork I don’t often cook — tenderloin. Pigs have been put on a diet over the last 20 years and are much leaner as a result. (I’ve even read that a trimmed pork tenderloin has less saturated fat than an equal portion of skinless chicken thigh, which is easy for me to believe.) But what’s good for our hearts isn’t necessarily great for our tastebuds or enjoyment in the kitchen — the tenderloin is a little temperamental to cook these days, as the time between undercooked and shoe leather grows ever smaller.

But I needed a project this weekend, so I put my mind to cooking a tenderloin in a way that would give it some wiggle room. My sage plant has been out of control for the past couple of months and this seemed like an ideal occasion to prune it a bit, so I coated the tenderloins with a lovely sage and walnut pesto.

pesto.jpg

Then, in a riff on one of my preferred ways to cook loin*, I wrapped them in some leftover prosciutto (remind me not to overdo it at the deli counter next time).

girdedloins.jpg

They roasted for about 30 minutes, until the internal temperature reached 160 degrees. After resting for a few minutes, they were juicy and very, very flavorful.

To accompany the pork, I made potato croquettes seasoned with a little bit of the pesto and fried in duck fat. And, for something resembling a healthy item on our plates, we had crisp-tender boiled asparagus drizzled with lemon juice.

You may think this is an extravagantly porky meal, but you haven’t met my dad. Last Christmas, he managed to feed us four types of pork in a dish where pig wasn’t even the focus. That’s dedication, my friends. The mind, it reels. The memories, they linger. The arteries, they clog.

* I can’t find the original recipe anymore, but basically, I rub a combination of mustard, garlic, and dried sage over pork tenderloins, then wrap them in prosciutto before roasting. Very, very flavorful.

Update: I’ve found the perfect pork-in-milk recipe. 

recipes after the jump

Continue reading “This one’s for you, Dad”