Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Food for Thought

Several sites this week have posted links to the National Agricultural Library's online exhibit of American food posters from World Wars I and II.  You can also see some of them on the Smithsonian's website.  This is one of my favorites:

Here's a link to the interview with the creator.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Food for Thought

A few things I've been thinking about this week:

1. Poached/Fried Eggs: Whenever I make instant ramen at home, I always add an egg to poach in the soup.  It's a wonderful addition to the ramen, and I like to think it adds just a bit of nutrition to the meal.  Lately, I've been kind of obsessed with adding poached or fried eggs to other meals as well.  Last night's dinner leftovers are easily transformed into today's breakfast (or lunch, even) with the addition of an egg on top.  I've had this conversation several times with various people, and most would agree that a fried egg is a miraculous thing.  It goes with just about anything, it's vegetarian friendly, and you can be creative with it.  Just try this recipe from Smitten Kitchen and add a poached egg to leftovers, as Deb suggests, or try this one from Serious Eats for dinner sometime this week.  Yum!

2. The Ducasse Cookpot: Read about it here.  I can't wait to experiment and come up with my own version.  I absolutely love such simple, flavorful, fuss-less cooking methods as these.

3. Composting: I've been toying with the idea for a while now, but can't seem to find a plan to make it work in my tiny urban apartment.  I can't even find a place that will take my compost, if I had any.  If anyone has any suggestions, let me know.  If you're looking for more information, here are a few articles from goodeater on the subject.

4. This heat: Yup, it's still scorching in NYC.  Here are the results from the egg experiment two weeks ago -

The egg didn't exactly fry.  It just kind of... oozed.  Melted a little.  Maybe we should have tried it on asphalt instead of the sidewalk.  I came back about 2 hours later and it had gotten smeared, but it didn't look like it had cooked any more.  Oh, well.  You'll just have to take my word for it - it's HOT!  Stay tuned for a few heat-minimizing recipes...

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, July 12, 2010

First Weekly Food Co-Op

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, a few of my coworkers and I decided to start a weekly lunch co-op in our office.  We were able to round up a decent number of people, and we started last week.  Being as excited as I was, I agreed to cook first.  Though I was nervous about what to make and whether I would have enough food, our first weekly lunch co-op turned out to be a huge success!  The food was delicious, and our first lunch together got everyone excited for the whole co-op project.

For the first co-op, I decided to make a kale and brown rice salad, with peanut sauce on the side, and grilled rosemary chicken.

If you should ever find yourself having to cook for a bunch of vegetarians and just one or two carnivores, this is the meal you should serve.  It's a flip-flop of a traditional meal: instead of a meat, it's a veggie main course, and instead of a veggie, it's a meat side.

Now none of my coworkers are vegetarians, but I think all have an appreciation for healthful, local food.  Especially if it's tasty.  And as everyone ate their lunch at our communal table on Tuesday, it seemed to me that no one missed the traditional meaty main course.

This kale salad was a big hit - simple, fresh, and slightly sweet.  It really is just the thing for a summer picnic, the perfect side for a rooftop grilling party.  It's great warm, or cold and straight out of the fridge.  It doesn't involve much cooking, so your (tiny) apartment won't get too hot while you're making it.  The peanut sauce makes it addicting - I couldn't stop eating it.  Good thing it's a salad!

Keep in mind that all of these recipes make enough for about 8 people.

Kale and Brown Rice Salad

2 cups raw brown rice, cooked
2 bunches kale, washed thoroughly, dried, and trimmed
3 large tomatoes, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
a large handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly torn or chopped
1/2 cup raisins
olive oil
salt and pepper

Cut or tear kale into pieces.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  When hot, add olive oil and garlic.  When garlic is fragrant, add kale and saute until just tender and bright green, about 5 minutes.  You'll probably have to do that in batches.  Season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, combine rice, kale, tomatoes, basil, and raisins.  Toss with a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Serve with peanut sauce (recipe below) on the side.

Grilled Rosemary Chicken
I used a grill pan on my stove in my apartment, but if you have access to a real live grill, use that!

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
salt and pepper

Heat a grill pan over high heat.  Meanwhile, season chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and rosemary, and let rest while the grill pan heats.  When the pan just begins to smoke, add chicken breasts, a few at a time without crowding the pan.  Cook chicken for about 7 minutes without moving, then flip over to cook the other side.  Cook for about 4 minutes more, until chicken is completely cooked through.  Remove chicken and set aside.  When chicken is cool enough to handle, cut diagonally and on a bias into thick slices and serve.

Peanut Sauce

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup very hot water (I usually use boiling water that I'm using to cook pasta or vegetables)
3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
3 tablespoons sesame oil

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl or measuring cup.  Taste for seasoning, adding more peanut butter or tamari if necessary.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Food for Thought

It's 10 AM in New York City, and it is hot.  95 degrees, to be exact.  It's so hot, in fact, that this is all I can think about.

Maybe later today I'll try frying an egg on the sidewalk myself.  Let me know if you want to participate in the experiment.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Squash Ribbons with Tomatoes

Summer is in full swing here in New York City, and it is H-O-T.  With all of the great free events and goings-on in the city, I have found myself with little time to cook.  Weeknights have been filled with happy hours, concerts, and naps in the park.  I am even less inclined to cook on the weekends, especially in this heat.  I find myself seeking solace in the luxurious air conditioning of neighborhood restaurants and cafes, and since I'm there, well, I might as well eat something.  Hence the lack of cooking in our tiny kitchen.

One thing I have made this summer, though, is the dish that brings you this post.  When I first came across a recipe for squash ribbons, I just knew they would become part of my kitchen repertoire.  In the summer, zucchini and summer squash abound, and one can only eat so much grilled squash.  Enter squash ribbons, delicate strips of juicy squash, thin enough to substitute for pasta for a light summer meal.

Some recipes suggest that you serve squash ribbons raw, but I prefer them cooked, even if only just a bit.  I also like to sauce them with a can of chopped tomatoes, but fresh tomatoes would probably be even better.  The following recipe (if you can even call it that) is just something to get you started.  I encourage you to be creative, dear readers, as the possibilities with squash ribbons are nearly endless.

Squash Ribbons with Tomatoes

1 15 ounce can chopped tomatoes, with their juice
4 squash (I used two zucchini and two summer squash)
olive oil
salt and pepper

Clean and trim the squash.  Using a vegetable peeler, peel off the skin of each squash.  Continue to "peel" away the squash, moving in a circular direction, forming ribbons.  When you reach the center of the squash, stop peeling and discard the seeds.  Heat a skillet over medium heat.  When just hot, add olive oil.  Add squash and cook until just softened, about 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove squash from pan.  Heat the tomatoes with their juice in the same pan until just warmed through.  Top squash ribbons with the tomatoes and serve.