soup!

Aug. 19th, 2014 04:39 pm
novapsyche: roasted asparagus, artfully arranged (asparagusroasted)
For the first time, I made pasta e fagioli. I used a recipe from a little cooking booklet my mom gave me. I followed it almost to the letter, except I added bay leaves, crushed red pepper & (once I realized I added too much of the last) frozen corn. (Something I discovered from following Thai cuisine: sweet balances heat.)

It's pretty good! It's spicy but good. I have plenty, so I should have more than enough to supply me with lunch for the week ahead.
novapsyche: roasted asparagus, artfully arranged (asparagusroasted)
It's late; I should certainly be in bed. But I made a dish for the first time this evening & thought I'd make mark of the situation.

Read more... )
novapsyche: roasted asparagus, artfully arranged (asparagusroasted)
I'd been in the mood for a Philly cheese steak sub. But I didn't have the right kind of bread.

I did, however, recently purchase naan. So I decided to make a naan-style Philly cheesesteak pizza.

I sauteed the onions, bell pepper & mushrooms with a clove of minced garlic; slices of deli roast beef followed. I lined the naan with thin slices of pecorino & shredded mozzarella (as I didn't have Provolone), then topped it with the beef & pepper mixture. I popped that in a 400-degree oven for a few minutes, then added slices of fresh mozzarella on top; back into the oven for a few minutes more, until the cheese melted.

Now it's looking all gooey & cheesy & onion-peppery. I'm letting it cool a bit. Hope it turns out.

Edit: It's a good thing the only other thing I had to eat today was yogurt for breakfast. Wow, is this rich. I can just look at it & gain five pounds.

The taste is pretty good, but it's missing . . . something. Maybe some herbs, like dried oregano. Or some tang, a splash of vinegar. Something. Still pretty tasty.

2nd edit: Worcestershire sauce! That would be the thing to try.

dinner

Jul. 20th, 2014 09:36 pm
novapsyche: roasted asparagus, artfully arranged (asparagusroasted)
I'd started marinating a porterhouse steak yesterday, separated (New York Strip Steak on one divide of the bone, tenderloin filet on the other), but the household decided to go for ground beef burritos with fixings.

Tonight, I'm dining on the strip steak section of the porterhouse, topped with sauteed white mushrooms & sliced shallots, alongside corn on the cob I bought from the farmers' market yesterday. This is a delightful dinner. I only wish I'd more mushrooms & shallots. Mmmmm.
novapsyche: roasted asparagus, artfully arranged (asparagusroasted)
I came across this recipe about a week ago & finally prepared it last night. It was pretty good, though I think 1/2 cup Gruyere would be better (to balance the brininess of the olives).

recipe )

I tried the recipe primarily because it's one of the first I've come across that treats bok choy in a manner that doesn't conform to typical Asian flavors. I like the Mediterranean treatment, yet at the same time this recipe really highlighted for me the difference between Chinese cabbage & regular(?) cabbage. Bok choy has quite a distinctive flavor & texture.
novapsyche: roasted asparagus, artfully arranged (asparagusroasted)
Well, it's the season of pasta primavera. Also, I discovered some whole-wheat rotini at a reasonable price. So I decided to give this dish another whirl.

At least one of the online recipes suggested using cream sauce instead of olive oil plus Parmesan. I usually keep Buitoni alfredo sauce in my fridge, so I decided to do just that. However, instead of boiling most of the veggies, I sauteed them instead.

So I cooked the rotini according to box instructions (I probably could have salted the water more than I did). Five minutes before the pasta was ready to drain, I added about 1 cup chopped broccoli (pieces about 1/2" long); two minutes before draining I added maybe 2/3 cup frozen peas.

In the meanwhile, I sauteed about a cup of red & orange bell pepper in olive oil for about two minutes (making sure to season them with salt & pepper). I added minced garlic, stirring for 30-60 seconds or so, then added about 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms as well as about 1/4 tsp of crushed red pepper. I stirred all of these for about three minutes, then added a mixture of Roma & grape tomatoes. I cooked these for about a minute more.

Seeing that the pasta was done, I drained the pasta/broccoli/pea mix, then added the alfredo sauce cold. On top, I included the veggie mix. Last, I tore several fresh basil leaves by hand & incorporated them into the dish.

This was pretty tasty, all on its own. This was my lunch. Then, for near-dinner (as I have to leave for class pretty soon), I decided to warm more up but also include shavings of Parmesan as well as diced green onion. This by far improved the dish. It was to the point that I could hardly believe that I was the cook who had fashioned this.

This dish seems the best to sneak in some whole-wheat pasta. The veggies really push that bland flavor into the background. The broccoli was the star.

To recap the ingredients: rotini, broccoli, peas, olive oil, sweet bell pepper, garlic, mushrooms, crushed red pepper, tomatoes, alfredo sauce, fresh basil, green onion, Parmesan cheese.

freshness!

Apr. 20th, 2014 12:07 am
novapsyche: a young girl sitting with her fist up to her chin, her face turned away, ringed by a blue crescent (crescentgirl)
Today, for the second week in a row, I attended the local farmers' market. (Our farmers' market runs year-round, which is boggling, to be honest. I had no idea.) Last week, they really had no true produce, offering seedlings of produce instead. This week was a bit different.

I kept an eye out for asparagus ('tis the season) but none was available. However, I did pick up a smallish bag of arugula (a salad green I'd been meaning to try for some time now) as well as Swiss chard (also a new green to me).

Turns out, arugula isn't a salad green at all but rather belongs to the cruciferous family of vegetables (Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, bok choy, &c). With my Graves' disease, I should avoid this type of plant in the future, but in the meanwhile I will consume it moderately so as to get a taste for it (& to not waste my money!).

Tonight, I made a simple salad with arugula, strawberries, grape tomatoes, pine nuts & goat cheese with a honey mustard vinaigrette. I was really pleased with the result. The tomatoes mimic the strawberries when both are added. Also, strawberries pair naturally with the taste of pepper, which arugula provides. I would have used pecans if I had had them, but that was not to be. I think I will supplement the remainder of the salad with sliced almonds, which I do have. Next time, also, if I use pine nuts I will definitely toast them beforehand.

milestone

Apr. 13th, 2014 10:38 pm
novapsyche: roasted asparagus, artfully arranged (asparagusroasted)
I made my own hummus today!

I used the immersion blender [personal profile] netmouse & [profile] flinx gave me for Christmas. I'd bought tahini months ago but just got around to actually tackling the task.

The result isn't too bad--a bit thick & bordering on bland. I used a recipe for "Simple Hummus"; perhaps it was too simple. I ended up increasing the lemon juice (not fresh) for flavor as well as moisture; I also increased the salt for flavor.

The major mistake I made was to forget to add the garlic before the chickpeas. I don't know how much that incremental step made a difference, but it's something to note.

More hummus is to follow, no doubt. I love the stuff & would spend way more money on it than the cost of tahini itself (which is a little pricy but should last me the rest of the year).
novapsyche: a young girl sitting with her fist up to her chin, her face turned away, ringed by a blue crescent (crescentgirl)
I went back to the gardening store & picked up two more seedlings, basil & chives. I was very pleased to see the latter, as I love the flavor of chives/green onions.

So that's a full windowsill now. The unfortunate thing is that, while I have a southfacing window, there's this huge overhang above it, so the plants don't get nearly as much sunshine as they need. I don't want to set them outside yet, as nightfall is still pretty chilly. At the same time, I'm fighting the urge to go out & buy a fluorescent light structure so as to string it up somewhere here in my bedroom. These herbs were meant as a convenient addition to my cooking attempts, not as a project unto themselves.

But they're totally becoming a project. I'm delving into gardening articles & online communities just as much as I did with cooking when I started getting into that activity. I don't have a yard, merely a concrete patio. I lost my previous gardening supplies after my sister's basement flooded & mold crept into all of my belongings stored there. I'm starting from scratch and, after pricing the next largest planters at the gardening store, I really don't have the budget to get too serious about this. So I need to--pardon the expression--nip this in the bud right away. (I do want to transplant these seedlings at some point, though, as their growth will get stunted for sure in such tiny flowerpots.)
novapsyche: a young girl sitting with her fist up to her chin, her face turned away, ringed by a blue crescent (crescentgirl)
Today I went to the gardening store to purchase planters of fresh herbs. They were having a "buy one, get next 1/2 off" sale, so I picked up eight small flowerpots filled with cilantro, mint, oregano, sage, thyme, flat-leaf parsley, curly parsley & rosemary.

These were meant to accompany the small bit of "living basil" I'd purchased just yesterday at the grocery store, but that plant is dying, so I will need to replace it.

Having fresh herbs at my fingertips will aid me greatly as I continue to experiment with cooking. I'm very pleased with my investment.

adjusting

Mar. 22nd, 2014 07:56 pm
novapsyche: a woman of stature circa 1900s peering out of a ring (womanring)
I made the chicken & coconut milk recipe again, with some changes. I wanted to scale up, but not completely double. Also, I didn't feel the need to adjust completely to scale--I'm trying to develop my innate cooking chops.

specifics )

I like that I've gotten to this stage as a cook. I not only can feed myself, I can do so with really tasty dishes. I would not hesitate to serve this soup to others. I'm glad I've gotten enough of a foothold on individual ingredients that I can think about branching out into being inexact, not merely following recipes but rather relying on my developing palate instead.

dinner

Mar. 17th, 2014 07:10 pm
novapsyche: a young girl sitting with her fist up to her chin, her face turned away, ringed by a blue crescent (crescentgirl)
I've a hankering for Asian food again. (I think the cravings are seasonal.) Tonight I tried my hand--again--at chicken soup with coconut milk and lemongrass, also known as Tom Kha Gai.

Sadly, I realized way too late in my prep work that, while I did have lime juice, I did not have lime zest (unlike the orange & lemon zests I keep in the pantry regularly). This posed a problem, as the juice & zest were already substitutions for kaffir lime leaves, which I've never used heretofore.

I think I adjusted the flavor accordingly (extra lime juice + 1/8 tsp lemon zest, then sugar at the end to balance flavors). I'm letting the first bowl cool as we speak.

In general, I want to work more with lemongrass as well as with coconut milk.

Addendum: It turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself. I love the accent of cilantro (an ingredient I've been trying to cultivate a taste for). I really like this dish, unlike the last time I made it, when it was overly sour.
novapsyche: Sailor Moon rising into bright beams (Default)
I made a tried-and-true favorite tonight: shrimp alfredo alongside sauteed zucchini. The noodles are tossed with Buitoni alfredo sauce (with chips of Parmesan added, as well as white pepper). The shrimp is cooked separately, in an olive oil/butter mix, with chopped garlic; lemon juice is squeezed on top right before removing from the heat. As for the zucchini, it's dressed simply in olive oil, salt, pepper & thyme before a quick pan-fry.

I like this meal because it is so simple to assemble & yet so satisfying. It's too bad the dish itself is really not that healthy. *le sigh* I think I eat it once every four to six weeks.

(For the record, my other two favorite foods are nectarines & chocolate mousse, not in any particular order.)
novapsyche: Sailor Moon rising into bright beams (Default)
[personal profile] netmouse & [profile] flinx, in their expansive generosity, gave me an immersion blender for Christmas. (When I opened the wrapping paper & read the box, I squealed like a child.) She knew how much I'd been wanting one (though I swear I merely mentioned that in an aside, maybe once). I was excited to try new cooking items, but having never used such an appliance, I had somewhat of a dearth of ideas.

This week, I realized that I had a bunch of spinach I'd purchased last week, so I needed to do something with it STAT. I decided to make a spinach & chickpea puree to pair with Moroccan chicken & jasmine rice.

The puree is not the most attractive color in the world. However, I can say that I've never enjoyed spinach quite so much. I will definitely make this again.

I adapted my dish from this recipe. I omitted the celery, bouquet garni, cornstarch & yogurt; I also put the rice on the side. Also, as I was cooking just for myself & so was using only one chicken breast, I reduced this recipe down pretty much in half (this meant that all of the spices used [aside from salt] were pinches or dashes).

I'm dancing in my seat as I eat.
novapsyche: a young girl sitting with her fist up to her chin, her face turned away, ringed by a blue crescent (crescentgirl)
As planned, I used the spicy fajita marinade for chicken. The breast I had was rather oversized, so I had little problem letting it marinate overnight. Instead of making actual fajitas (as I'd had them three times in as many days), I decided to bake the breast & accompany it with complementary dishes: white rice, black beans.

When it came time to bring everything together, I swapped out the planned rice for a sweet potato. If the chicken turned out as super-spicy as I feared, then the sweetness from the sweet potato would provide balance. Now, usually if I were making a baked sweet potato, I'd dress it like a white one, with savory items like green onions & cheddar cheese. I thought draping the chicken breast with slices of cheddar would be a nice final touch.

Well, ultimately, the marinade was too salty, not too spicy. The recipe calls for too much seasoned salt (at least to my palate), so I'll have to make some adjustments. But the idea for the cheese was stellar. I aligned the slices, then put the breast back in the oven for five minutes in residual heat. When I peeled back the foil, I couldn't help but remark at how pretty the chicken looked. I've never felt that way about something I've cooked before.

So, yay! It was a learning experience & also a pleasant surprise.
novapsyche: a young girl sitting with her fist up to her chin, her face turned away, ringed by a blue crescent (crescentgirl)
So I took the remaining 1/2 lb of the alligator & made fajitas. I did this because I read that alligator can be substituted in most seafood, poultry or lamb (!) recipes. I figured it would be a good middle ground between chicken & shrimp in terms of flavor & texture.

I was going to use this recipe, but the marinade came out quite spicy. I chose to save that for actual chicken. Instead, I used a packet of fajita seasoning.

The fajitas came out pretty well! The meat is much more tender than chicken. It's almost overwhelmed by the seasoning but then the particular flavor of the meat comes through at the end. While cooking, more water was released than with chicken, which was surprising & for which I should have made an adjustment. At the same time, the extra moisture may have kept the protein from drying out.

I'd totally make this again.
novapsyche: a woman of stature circa 1900s peering out of a ring (womanring)
Well, not so fun. I decided to try to incorporate Andrew Zimmern's directive that "[s]mall cutlets turned in a hot skillet with lemon, roasted cherry tomatoes, and capers is a divine way to enjoy gator." I had no cherry tomatoes, so obviously there was no roasting to be had, but I did have tomatoes on the vine & capers, so I thought I'd give it a try.

Unfortunately, I forgot to decrease the amount of salt needed by the amount of capers used. Not that I had a lot of them, but the brine of the capers combined with my eyeballing of the salt had it all came out badly, especially since the tomatoes I used had not enough sweetness to counteract said saltiness.

So, yeah, next time, only pepper with this manner of cooking for coating alligator meat.

I still have more than half of the amount of alligator I purchased, so I have room for experimentation. Next attempt will be a marinade. (The acid in such should prevent the flesh from becoming too rubbery when cooked. We'll see.)

Edit: Or maybe I'll go wild & attempt alligator fajitas.
novapsyche: Sailor Moon rising into bright beams (Default)
Last night, I stirred up some shrimp alfredo with angel hair noodles. I don't make the sauce from scratch (I use Buitoni brand) but I do take care with the shrimp. I dust them with salt, pepper & paprika, then saute them with garlic & shallots. Then I squeeze some lemon juice over them & combine all that with the noodles & sauce. It turned out pretty well, though I forgot to add the lemon juice until the very end. Still tasty.

While grocery shopping today, I stopped by the meat department to restock my shrimp supply (it's on sale) & found, to my delight, fresh alligator! I've never known that to be sold at Kroger, ever. I've only had alligator once, at a cajun restaurant in Belleville (since closed) about seven years ago. It was surprisingly delicious.

Now I must do some recipe research. :)
novapsyche: a young girl sitting with her fist up to her chin, her face turned away, ringed by a blue crescent (crescentgirl)
For the last week, I was playing around with certain vegetables with pasta, as I am in the lean months (as far as my food budget is concerned). I didn't have cream sauce, so I just used olive oil. It was good, but it needed something. I decided to try red wine vinegar.

That was decent, but it needed something to balance out the astringency of the vinegar. I decided on cheese. When I began, I had Kasseri cheese I needed to use; later, I remembered the shredded Parmesan in the container in the refrigerator.

Finally, I felt I needed something more substantial as well as flavorful. I added tomatoes, then I switched from dried to fresh basil.

Today I sauteed in olive oil red bell peppers, onion & garlic; added tomatoes until they burst; then, I finished the dish with basil & Parmesan, served over angel hair pasta.

I recreated pasta primavera.
novapsyche: a person removing a shirt, revealing a system of organs & skeleton underneath (bodyundershirt)
I technically had linner (late lunch/dinner) already, but I have a half-pound of ground beef to dispose of before it becomes inedible. I'm thinking of mixing the raw beef with green onions (maybe an herb as well?), then topping the finished burger with Gruyere & red bell peppers. I am still debating what sauce might work.

Very few burger recipes online call for sliced red bell pepper! I find that surprising.

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