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Another day, another snow storm.
Seriously, I never knew winter could last thing long. I know there are plenty of places that are much, much colder with much harsher weather, but this is enough for me. Particularly when I step onto what I think is the sidewalk, but is really a foot deep puddle of snow and sludge.
I dream of sunshine and tea parties and some asparagus! Oh, and tomatoes, notfromacan but honesttogoodness real tomatoes that.grow.on.a.vine. Who knew these would become my dreams.
But we aren’t quite there yet…
I have been thinking about chile verde since well before the Super Bowl. Like drawing a grid on a poster board and paying $1 per square, there is something about a spicy pot of pork and salsa simmering on the stove that is synonymous to me with that January (or rather February now) Sunday.
So I was planning to make this in DC at a friend’s house – they just moved East and we were going to help them get settled and welcome them to the cold. The perfect time for chile verde (especially as it pairs particularly well with beer – a requirement on Super Bowl Sunday). But then there was that silly Snowpocalypse, and we cancelled the trip. I wasn’t ready to be stuck on a bus for any extra time, regardless of wireless internet, power plugs and extra leg room.
And once you start thinking about chile verde, you can’t just let the feeling pass. You really need to make it. My only mistake was waiting a few weeks.
Until now, I had never made tortillas.
To be honest, I never really felt the need. Yes, of course I know that the homemade (or fresh restaurant made) are better than the store bought variety, but I always (rather foolishly) assumed that they must be difficult. Or at the very least, require special equipment, like a tortilla press. And considering I am already working here with the bare essentials, a tortilla press is defintely not happening.
But I was planning to make chile verde, and that is something that I think really requires a good tortilla, so I decided to rethink my stance on not making my own.
And thank goodness that change was made.
A quick trip to Cali left me confronted with two of my great loves – sunshine and mexican food! So I tried to gobble them both up with abandon while I was there.
But now I am back to snow-flecked sidewalks and could use a break from the frijoles and salsa.
So let’s gently break the cycle with a difference kind of legume – a roasted chickpea.
I have been making roasted chickpeas for years; a satisfying, crunchy, salty snack and that makes you forget chips as the ruler of the salty, crunchy world. Ideal t.v. and car ride food. They can be seasoned in more ways than they can be named. Oregano on ceci, curry on the Indian pea, cumin on a garbanzo bean… you get the drift.
But in all my years snacking on these guys, I have never quite seen them command attention as when matched with wilted chard and onions. Read the rest of this entry »
Boneless skinless chicken breasts. Not really a whole lot to say there – they just don’t bring much to the table. But, they are practical – they are lean, fast, easy and (relatively) cheap. Not anything to get too excited about, but a realistic dinner for most people many-a-nights.
They are the kind of thing that you keep in your freezer, something to have on hand. They generally aren’t something that goes from store to table in the same day for me. Nope, I’ll save that honor for pork or fish or the whole chicken.
But there are boneless, skinless chicken breast kind of days. Everyone has them. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.
This snow storm we are having caused me to have one. Not exactly the kind of weather that makes you want to go to the store. And someone wanted more than the soups and veggies I have been offering of late. Thankfully they defrost quickly – which again, makes them perfect freezer candidates.
The only problem was, I wanted something more than the standard pan sear that they normally get. Something with a bit more umph. I could have cut them thin and pounded them, for a piccata or milanese, but to be honest I didn’t really want to stand over the stove, even if they only take about 2 seconds to cook. I wanted to pop them in the oven and forget…
So I’ll have soup for dinner and then want something fresh for lunch.
This salad I eat plain most often, but it is also great with tuna (just good quality canned tuna) or even shrimp. This is one of those sides or meals even, that doesn’t really have a recipe. In fact, I made it simply from a memory.
When you look at a table setting, the napkin gets very little attention. Never mind the food and flowers – the plates, glasses, and flatware are all generally picked out with a bit more consideration. And then when it comes to linens, particularly events with rental linens, the napkin is an afterthought.
Hosts may think about tablecloths and runners, making sure they look just so, and completely then pass over the napkins – just adding on whatever matches.
Napkins are the only part that guests actually touch – hold in their hand, place on their lap, use to wipe their mouth. I know that every party has a budget, but skip the poly-blend and make the napkin feel good.
Depending on the size of your event, you may even look into buying the napkins. You can find 100% cotton or linen napkins at many retailers, including online and in bulk in just about any color to fit your fancy. And if it works with the look of your event, dish towels and flour sack towels make great (and inexpensive) napkins. Or if you want to really personalize things – any fabric can quickly be transformed into a napkin, even without a sewing machine.
If you do buy them, you can use them forever, as a nice reminder of the event – and hopefully at others in the future (or at least that was my rationale for 175 “D” napkins).
Regardless if you rent or buy, if it feels good, people will notice – and remember.
But when it is bitter cold, I just can’t help it. In addition to warming me up, soups are pretty inexpensive – so I can have plenty to spend on bourbon, should I have to brave the weather.
This whole pot cost about $10, and that was only because I used good ingredients – organic [albeit canned] beans and tomatoes and chorizo from the Hawthorne Valley Farm that I picked up at the farmer’s market.
I love leftovers. I can eat soup for days. Just about any meat can make a mean meal on day two. Mac and cheese, yes please. But fish – no thanks. Underwater creatures just don’t hold the same appeal to me when reheated, repurposed or redone.
So when I saw that I had a bit more salmon than I knew we would eat for dinner, I didn’t cook it. Thankfully, I remembered seeing a quick citrus salt cure on wrightfood when I was scoping foodblogsearch.com for info on fish in parchment. And once I popped those packets in the oven, I zested up some lemons and oranges, mixed some sugar and salt and had my first go at home cured salmon.
Knowing that the piece I was using was teeny-tiny (I cut off the thinner side from the salmon that I was using for the papillotes so it would all cook evenly), I wouldn’t feel terrible if it all went awry and I had to toss it.