Friday Favorites

Some food-related (mostly) things we enjoyed this past week:

Lighthouse

We spent last weekend in Amesbury, MA, visiting Dan’s brother and family. On Saturday, we drove through a mix of rain and snow up to Maine for a little sightseeing and lobster. About 3 minutes after I took this picture of the Nubble Lighthouse, the skies cleared and we had a gorgeous sunny afternoon. Many thanks to J, C, W and E for a great day and a wonderful weekend!

Stuffed

For Dan, no trip to the Boston area is complete without at least one serving of lobster. At the very charming Ship’s Cellar Pub, he ordered the “Yorkshire Lobster Supreme,” which is basically most expensive thing on the menu stuffed with the second (and third and fourth) most expensive things on the menu. We also had some of the best oysters ever and couldn’t resist ordering the Lobster Mac & Cheese for the table. Everything was delicious.

Spring posies

I am a very lucky lady, married to a guy who brings home flowers simply because 1) he knows I love them, and 2) we have a quiet weekend at home to enjoy them. 1 + 2 = Happy Kelly

Taste

We joined a cool new wine club that personalizes our profile (and subsequent orders) according to our taste preferences. They sent a starter kit with two mini bottles of white wine and four mini bottles of red for us to taste and rate on their site. Then they compiled our profiles (“Golden Child” for white and “Philosopher” for red) which they will use to personalize our quarterly shipments. It’s a fun way to learn a little more about what kind of wine you like and why.

Toast

New Favorite Breakfast Alert: avocado toast. Thick slices of good bread (we used an “Italian 5 Grain” from the grocery store) toasted and topped with lightly mashed avocado, a squeeze of lime, a drizzle of olive oil, a generous sprinkle of sea salt and a dash of red pepper flakes. Bonus points if you add a few thin slices of radish.

 

Mozzarella and Celery Salad

Has anyone in the history of cooking ever used up an entire bunch of celery before it spoils? Even considering how long it lasts (weeks!), we almost always end up with a sad, wilted collection of stalks that we throw away and replace with a fresh bunch every month or so. Celery is an under-used vegetable, is what I’m saying. Yet it’s one that we pretty much always have in the fridge — to flavor a soup or a stew, to make stock, or to chop up for a garden salad. Aside from this recipe that we love so much we always serve it at our Thanksgiving dinner (as well as other times throughout the year), we rarely come across a dish where celery gets to shine as the main ingredient. It’s a shame, since celery has many health benefits, including antioxidants and nutrients with anti-inflammatory effects. So we were pleased to see Lidia Bastianich’s take on caprese salad — with a celery twist — in her latest book, “Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking.” We never would have thought of replacing the tomatoes in traditional caprese salad with celery, but it works and it’s genius; especially during the winter, when high-quality tomatoes can be hard to find, but good ole celery is as plentiful as always.

Continue reading “Mozzarella and Celery Salad”

Weekly Menu (March 15)

DSC_0192.JPG

Saturday

Sunday 

  • Homemade Corned Beef, “Galaxy Rose” Sauerkraut, Roasted Potatoes

Monday  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Tuesday

  • Irish Tacos (w/ leftover corned beef)

Wednesday   

  • Sauteed Buffalo Chicken Tenders w/ Blue Cheese Toasts, Avocado & Asparagus Salad

Thursday   

  • Take-Out

Friday

  • TBD (some Laahb-staaah maybe?!?)

Friday Favorites

Some food-related (mostly) things we enjoyed this past week:

Entertainment

We had a fun little trip to Minneapolis last weekend to meet up with my parents and see my brother J in a play put on by the university where he works.  We all enjoyed the show, “Crocodile Seeking Refuge,” about 5 individuals from different (and difficult) parts of the world seeking asylum in the U.K. and the lawyer dedicated to helping them, at the ultimate expense of her marriage (with the role of her husband played (expertly!) by my brother.)  It was thought-provoking and well-produced, and all the actors did a great job.  Plus, my brother nailed his British accent.  Well done, Old Chap!

Fancy

One of Dan’s friends from law school was in town this week and invited him to dinner at the exclusive, 3 Michelin Star restaurant, Alinea.  Since I wasn’t there, any attempt at second-hand descriptions of their meal wouldn’t do it the justice I’m sure it probably deserves.  (I didn’t go because they only sell tickets (pre-paid “tickets” instead of reservations) in groups of 2, 4 and 6, which was reason enough for me to not want to go anyway, on principle.  So there.)  But considering how much it cost, I certainly hope it was the most amazing dining experience of Dan’s life to date.  More importantly, I know that the time spent catching up with a dear old friend was priceless.

Old school sammie

When was the last time you had a tuna melt?  Until today, it had been far too long since I had one — with delicious tuna salad (this recipe is one of our favorites), sliced tomato and melted American cheese on toasted rye bread.

54!

Since moving to Chicagoland we’ve become a bit obsessed with weather, and one of my favorite ways to check the temp is via the free “Weather Whiskers” app on my phone.  It gives me the current temperature (with a cute picture of a cat!) and forecasts (“furrcasts – ha!), and allows me to program in other cities so I can stalk the weather where friends and family live.  Today, finally, the cat is not wearing a sweater or a coat!

Lamb Kebabs

We seem to be having a lamb “moment” these days, cooking it much more often than we ever have in the past.  So far, our favorite ways of preparing lamb are Guinness-glazed and Mediterranean-style.  Who could blame us, really, when perfectly grilled lamb is so tender with just the right amount of richness.  We also enjoy kebabs of many kinds (including beef, shrimp, pork, and more pork), so when we found Ina Garten’s recipe for lamb kebabs, we knew we had a winner.  The lamb marinates in a simple mixture of garlic, thyme, rosemary (or oregano if you don’t prefer rosemary), red wine, red wine vinegar and salt for 8 hours or up to 2 days.  Grill the lamb on skewers with onion and tomatoes, then serve over a bed of couscous with a lemony sauce on the side.  The result is a surprisingly sophisticated meal, considering how easy it is to make.  The marinade imparts complex flavor with minimal effort, and grilling the lamb kebab-style allows for uniform cooking to just the right doneness (the rare side of medium-rare is how we like our lamb.)  The sauce requires all the skill of boiling a pot of water, and grilling skewers of onion and tomatoes with the meat incorporates vegetables without having to come up with a separate side dish.  Couscous (or some other, similar granule-sized pasta or grain) provides nice texture, and the most basic version of it is as easy to make as the sauce (a/k/a bringing liquid to a boil.)  You can fancy up the couscous with sauteed shallots, toasted pine nuts and chopped fresh parsley if you want (as Ina does), but the kebabs and sauce provide enough flavor that plain couscous works just as well.  Looks like we’ve got ourselves another “keeper” lamb recipe.  Too bad I won’t let us eat red meat more often!

Continue reading “Lamb Kebabs”

Friday Favorites

Some food-related (mostly) things we enjoyed this past week:

Kimchi

We found a great local place for Korean food (other kinds of Asian food too – their menu is huge), with kimchi that meets with Dan’s approval.

Bobby's BBQ Sauce

Next time you’re having steak, whip up a batch of Bobby Flay’s sauce:  1/4 cup Dijon; 1/4 cup whole grain mustard; 1/2 cup molasses; 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish; 2 tablespoons honey; 2 tablespoons ketchup; and salt & pepper.  It would probably go well as a dipping sauce for roasted chicken as well.

Purgatory Egg

We have a new dish for the breakfast rotation:  eggs in purgatory.  Heat a little olive oil in a small skillet, add a clove of minced garlic and a dash of red pepper flakes and cook for less than a minute.  Add a can of chopped tomatoes (we cooked ours in 2 separate batches and used half the can per batch) and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Make a well in the center of the skillet and add an egg to it, then season the egg with a little salt & pepper.  Cook until the egg is done to your liking (we like ours with the yolk still a bit runny.)  Serve with toast.  (We served ours with a little spinach too.)

Aw, nuts

 

Planters’ “Sustaining Energy Mix” packages of nuts and chocolate make a great snack, with 10 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber.  Apparently they also make a pretty good cat toy.  (No, we didn’t let her eat any.)

Food for Thought

IMG_1224.JPG

  • Happy Paczki Day!  Also, Happy Fat Tuesday!  Instead of king cake, folks around these parts celebrate the day before Lent with something we recently discovered is basically a jelly donut on steroids.  Paczki (pronounced “pooch-key,” “punch-key,” “poonch-key,” or any and all of the above) are Polish pastries made with rich dough, filled with a variety of fruit and/or creme fillings, then deep fried and glazed or dusted with powdered sugar.  It’s probably a good thing that Paczki Day is only once a year.
  • Speaking of holiday/food traditions, it’s not too late to make homemade corned beef for St. Patrick’s Day!  The beef has to brine for about a week, so there’s still plenty of time to procure all the spices (the recipe we use calls for 10 different spices) and pink curing salt (not a grocery staple, but readily available online.)  The result is well worth the effort.
  • My brother J sent me this awesome link to a collection of “food fails,” in which people attempted to recreate beautiful baked goods they found on Pinterest and — you guessed it — they failed miserably.  Bless their hearts for trying.  And for posting the photos of their attempts on the Internets for all to see.
  • Here’s an interesting post on the suggested shelf life of various foods.  We don’t necessarily agree with all of them (in our experience, apples last a lot longer than a month in the fridge and asparagus will keep longer than 2-3 days in the fridge if you cut about 1/2 an inch off their stems and stand them up in a container with a little water in the bottom), but it seems like a good starter resource if you aren’t sure how long certain foods are going to last.

DSC_0217.JPG