Monday, December 21, 2009

Banh Mi: Vietnamese Pork Meatball Subs

I saw this pork meatball banh mi recipe in Bon Appetit's January issue and knew I had to make it... banh mi are (is?) basically Vietnamese grinders/hoagies/subs/what have you.
Conveniently, the CSA had the carrots and daikon radishes (which look eerily like my nemesis, the parsnip) that make up the slaw that the recipe uses to compliment the meatballs. Also, it calls for plenty of everybody's favorite spicy sauce, Sriracha.

If you dig on swine, I highly recommend you give this recipe a try... the recipe really made only enough meatballs for 4 sandwiches, but it made a ton of the carrot/daikon slaw, more than necessary.

Wedding Jewels

Chuck wore this multi-colored pearl necklace to a wedding (a wedding for which she braved the great snowpocalypse of Aught Nine):
This swarovski crystal one she'll be wearing on New Year's Eve for yet another wedding:

Broccoli Pesto: Meh

Hmmm... I wanted to like this broccoli pesto. It had all of my favorite stinky foods- broccoli, olives, garlic, goat cheese- yet I was not a fan for some reason. It was kinda thick and overwhelming... not enough variation in texture, perhaps?
Chuck totally wasn't fooled by the fact that the olives were all chopped up, either. She hated it. Oh well.

Pineapple Empanadas

Amy left us with a bevy of hand-me-down food when she departed for sunnny Sydney, including some freshly cut pineapple. Chuck doesn't really care for pineapple, so I tried to find a way to use up the pineapple that she could tolerate. Some empanada-like pastries sounded good...
These empanadas use a cream cheese crust, which was simple and pretty good. For the filling, I mixed the diced pineapple with a little bit of brown sugar... in retrospect, I think it could have used some additional spice- cinnamon? cardamom? I drizzled a basic powdered sugar and milk glaze on them after they came out of the oven.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cookie Extravaganza, Part Deux

A second Christmas cookie extravaganza, this time in preparation for my office's pot-luck Christmas dessert party.
This time I limited myself to two kinds of cookies, both of which were simple drop cookies, since I was cooking on a weeknight:
1. I resurrected the chewy ginger cookies from the first cookie extravaganza since they were so good.

2. I also tried out these peanut butter blossom cookies, although I substituted milk chocolate chips for the requisite Hershey's kisses.

Mmmmmm!

Curried Lentils with Sweet Potatos and Kale

Chuck made this recipe on her day off. Good flavors, although texturally a little bit of a mushy one-note. SmittenKitchen is definitely right though: not pretty to look at!

I think we're a little tapped out after three days in a row of healthy legumes and grains and such. Nurse, bacon and cheese, stat!

Moroccan-spiced Stuffed Squash

Using this recipe as a basis, I stuffed some delicata squashes with a ground beef and bulgur wheat mixture seasoned with fresh parsley, cinnamon, nutmeg, smoked paprika, minced apricots and toasted pine nuts. Pretty good!
I ate the leftover stuffing the following day for lunch with some pita chips- yum.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Mushroom Barley Soup with Kale

Saw this recipe for a healthy mushroom barley soup with kale in the New York Times, and went for it. Pretty tasty! Making the mushroom 'stock' by reconstituting dried mushrooms in some boiling water made it really meaty tasting and hearty, despite the fact that it's vegetarian. I think throwing the parmesan rind in there as it simmers is essential, too.
I served it with grated parmesan on top and homemade whole wheat rolls using the basic dough from Healthy Breads in 5 Minutes a Day.
Please don't read anything into the fact that every time I tried to write "barley soup," I wrote "barely soup."

Necklace and Earring Set for Amy

Gold chain, deep gold glass pearls... perfect for wearing to a job interview in Australia.

Lemon Chicken

Chuck, the chef de cuisine for this particular chicken recipe, says "It's easy to make and tastes good, but nothing special. Not a 'wow'"

I'd say it's a decent week day main dish that uses pantry staples.

Pavlova Magic!

In honor of Amy's last DC meal, and to steel her for the barrage of Aussie delights she'll be eating at her first Australian Christmas, I made a pavlova topped with passion fruit puree and sliced strawberries.
A pavlova (or "pav") is basically a giant meringue- egg whites and sugar- all poofed up and slowly cooked to make a crackly mound with a soft, marshmallow-esque center. The tartness of the passion fruit puree really compliments the sugary meringue.
I could have made the pavlova from scratch- it seems pretty easy- but Amy had given me a container of an Aussie pav shortcut: Pavlova Magic, the equivalent of American boxed cake mix. It was pretty foolproof, if not magical, once the internets converted the directions from Celsius to Fahrenheit for me.

The best part about Pavlova Magic, though, is that it comes in this weird egg-shaped packaging. It's like all of the '80s era L'eggs pantyhose packaging died and went to Australia to be reincarnated as Pavlova Magic containers:

Ina's Lemon Fusilli with Broccoli and Arugula

About 5 heads of broccoli, a bunch of arugula, and a whole bag of lemons were crowding up the fridge, so I chased down this well-reviewed Ina Garten recipe that included all of those ingredients and put it to work.

Ina's pasta salad was really good, although probably not an everyday meal since it had so much cream in it. The creamy lemon sauce was simple, but really flavorful.

Whole-Wheat Crust Pizza with Arugula, Prosciutto, Tomato and Mozzerella

Made these tasty arugula and prosciutto pizzas last week using the basic whole wheat dough from Healthy Breads in Five Minutes a Day... tasty, although a little poofier than I would have liked. I think I didn't preheat the pizza stone long enough because I was in a hurry.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Parmesan Polenta (with sausage and tomatoes)

I tried my hand at making polenta again, this time with delicious results. 4 ingredients, totally simple, but super creamy. I recommend using a whisk, not a fork as recommended by the recipe.
Served with Italian sausage cooked with garlic, dried basil, a can of diced tomatoes, fresh parsley.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Roasted Vegetables with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Martha and Andrea cooked this recipe from the November issue of Martha Stewart Living a couple weeks ago and gave it two (four?) thumbs up... I don't think Martha Stewart has posted the recipe online yet, but I found this blog that had done a version of it. We had sweet potatoes and Romanesco cauliflower from the CSA, and some uncooked Brussel sprouts left over from Thanksgiving, so we gave it a try. Chuck had the day off, so she rocked the recipe.
Delicious! The pomegranate flavor compliments, but doesn't overwhelm the veggie flavors. Plus, the recipe is beautiful: great array of colors, and the Romanesco cauliflower is pretty much the coolest looking vegetable ever. I love the bright green color, and the shape is amazing. Natural geometry.... Wikipedia tells me it's a logarithmic spiral. Awesome.