If the typical 4th of July BBQ seems a bit boring, why not kick the day off with some red, white and blue on the griddle?
Check out Jim’s Pancakes for his flag creation and other spectacular ideas sure to start any day off right. He even includes videos if you want to follow along.
(If you have issues with food dyes, just enjoy the colorful pictures. Many of these cakes are a work of art!)
Any reason NOT TO COOK on Friday night is a sound one to me. Last week’s excuse was particularly tasty one — an ad hoc potluck with the Bunco group. A silly game of Bunco is an excellent reason for the ladies in the ‘hood to catch up over wine and share some mighty fine cooking. It’s a good thing we started rolling the dice because I probably would have helped myself to seconds of the following:
Chicken Marbella — I should have known this is a Silver Palate recipe. Elegant roasted chicken with capers, olives and oregano. The recipe serves 10-12. What a great choice for a relaxing Friday dinner with friends.
Super Slaw – colorful and crunchy with red and green cabbage, carrots, peppers and cilantro and an Asian-style dressing. Lisa noted it appeared in Sunset magazine many years ago. I sniffed around and located the recipe on a clever “Tastebook” website here.
Hearts of Palm spread – I brought this easy baked spread to kick things off. One of my standbys from the Seattle Junior League cookbook. You can find the recipe online here.
Next time I’ll round up the rest of the crowd’s recipes. Maybe a special page for Bunco potlucks is in the making!
Last weekend was nice and easy – hanging close to home after a busy vacation to regroup and yes, cook. I retrieved two favorite recipes for a relaxed time in the kitchen.
Corn muffins in the making
Greek Scampi with Orzo – I LOVE this recipe and it’s so easy. It’s my go-to recipe when I find wild domestic shrimp on sale at the market. Another great pick from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home. Fortunately a kind soul at Recipezaar has posted the recipe here. Double the quantity, add orzo and steamed asparagus, and dinner for four is ready. Yum!
Vegetarian chili with tofu* – Fresh, healthy and again, a zip to prepare (especially if you have a mate gracious enough to help with the chopping.) My sons aren’t too thrilled about this one (“where’s the meat?”), but that comment cued my husband to launch into one of his favorite mini-lectures: “Beans, they’re the food of the future. Better get used to it.” You can imagine the reaction of two growing boys who view hamburgers and pizza as diet staples. We start chatting about the value of eating lower on the food chain. Complex topic, and deep enough to stop the complaints about the “toad food” in the chili.
Ironically, we were watching the amazing Life series on Discovery during our chat. TV during dinner is a taboo in our house but on Sunday nights we sometimes make exceptions. Good timing on this one!
*The recipe is by Deborah Madison, a chef I’ve followed for years for anything vegetarian. This recipe originally appeared in Cooking Light magazine. With muffins made from Arrowhead Mills cornbread mix, a chili dinner was a nice way to ease into the new week.
It didn’t take too much encouragement from readers for me to try the Coca-cola-stoked corned beef dinner in the slow cooker. I couldn’t find a full recipe for this cola concoction on the web, so I adapted this one.
With potatoes, carrots and onions, along with the brisket, can of Coke (real, not diet, not Pepsi) and a cup of brown sugary liquid, the slow cooker was full to the brim. No room for cabbage. That turned out to be a very good turn of events. It was the perfect time to try Molly Wizenberg’s version of green cabbage braised in cream with lemon. I’ve tried this approach before, but Molly advised a gentle browning to caramelize the cabbage wedges in butter, before adding the cream to simmer. Delicious.
I found the cabbage recipe in a review of Molly’s book here. I’m editing my old recipe to make sure these techniques never go away. As for the rest of our traditional St Paddy’s day dinner (delivered a few days early), the guys gave the corned beef a big thumbs up. It was tender, just like the Trader Joe’s lady promised. I personally was far more enthralled with the cabbage. And my pint of Guinness. But I’ll keep the recipe filed away except next year I’ll try hard cider instead of coke.
I have a small collection of roast chicken recipes. It seems one would suffice but I’m always on the lookout for a slightly better rendition. I decided to give Jamie Oliver’s version a spin this weekend: Roast Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary Roast Potatoes. I just may have to give up the rest of the chicken collection. Jamie’s idea of parboiling the potatoes with garlic and a whole lemon, and then stuffing the lemon and garlic into the chicken cavity before roasting made the bird fragrant and juicy.
Jamie's Roast Chicken with Lemon & Rosemary Roast Potatoes
I also borrowed an idea from Mark Bittman’s roast chicken recipe and roasted turnip slices with the chicken, before adding the potatoes, to provide a little twist to the usual side. Along with a salad of spring lettuces, cucumber and radishes, our chicken dinner was complete. And chicken leftovers inspired Sunday’s dinner of Rice Noodles with Chicken, a dish that hints of Pad Thai with slivered snow peas, scallions and bean sprouts. My husband took over in the kitchen while I enjoyed watching the Oscars for a bit with friends. Perfect end to the weekend!
Saving time AND energy seems like an awfully good idea. I guess I lot of people think so. The pressure cooker my husband ordered as Christmas gift arrived just last week, two months on back order. It was worth the wait!
The Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker is a beauty. Fortunately, we decided to christen it with an artichoke. The lid wasn’t seated properly in the gasket so it turned out to be one very well done artichoke. Lesson learned, we moved on to Sunday night’s dinner of sausage and shrimp gumbo. I don’t think we saved any time, due to lots of fumbling around with the recipe and settings. I figured out the “eight minutes on high pressure” was misleading since I didn’t notice the other 17 minutes of stovetop cooking. In any case the meal turned out just fine.
Tonight’s dinner went much more smoothly. The Rick Rodgers’ cookbook Pressure Cooking for Everyone. was touted by Kuhn Rikon as the best-tasting collection of recipes. So far, so good. Son #2 cleaned his plate of Cauliflower and Carrot Curry. I added toasted cashews for extra protein and used the remaining half can of coconut milk to flavor the basmati rice. A keeper!
Sunday: Sausage and shrimp gumbo over long-grain rice
Monday: Cauliflower and Carrot Curry topped with toasted cashews and cilantro, over basmati rice.
Linguine with zucchini and chickpeas
… I smile. Weekends are perfect for a shift in the kitchen. I was particularly happy to see my husband take over this weekend after a rough week at work and an annoying head cold.
“Dinner’s ready” was music to my ears Saturday night. I was cranking away on a presentation while he rustled up the recipes I provided. I dismissed his “one day I might be able to cook at your level” comment. Sure, the pasta was a bit overcooked and not as good as I recalled the last time around. But I’m always delighted to be served dinner, rather than making it. One never wants to discourage a husband in the kitchen. Besides, isn’t cooking for someone an act of love? I like to see it that way.
Saturday night: Salmon with herbed yogurt; linguine with chickpeas and zucchini.
Capanile's Spaghetti and Meatballs
We had a particularly quiet weekend since our sons were away on a Scout winter camp-out. They slept in tents in the snow, pushed a human “dog sled” around a farm and did all the other things that boys do when they’re free to roam and there’s lots of white stuff on the ground. It was a fun, but exhausting event for the guys. My husband thought it would be a nice to treat them to a Sunday dinner that fits their tastebuds, not ours. I immediately thought of spaghetti with meatballs because:
— they requested it last week but the meal fell off our “while dad’s away” plan
— I never make meatballs from scratch but …
… I had dog-eared a page in the current Sunset magazine for a recipe from the chef of L.A.’s Campanile restaurant.
My husband and I decided to team up to manage the handmade meatballs. Thank goodness or I’d still be in the kitchen. The sauce was simple — garlic, olive oil and three large cans of fire-roasted diced tomatoes plus sprigs of fresh basil. I threw in several cloves of roasted garlic (prepped yesterday for a party) instead of fresh. It was the meatballs that took FOREVER. I’m still trying to decide if the effort was worthwhile. At least the recipe produced enough to feed a small army. We have leftovers for later this week plus a batch of sauce stored in the freezer. And we entertained ourselves watching the documentary Young at Heart (about a chorus of senior citizens who perform rock cover songs in concerts – touching and funny).
The boys showed up to dig into their much-requested meal, along with a salad and garlic bread (a loaf of French split lengthwise and smeared with butter and more of those roasted garlic cloves). Happy campers!
Over the past week I’ve been listening to the recording of A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg in my car. I often stall when I reach my destination, hoping to glean a few more glorious details of whatever amazing food she’s regaling in her life story. That tardiness, in addition to my stomach grumbling wherever I arrive, indicate A Homemade Life is not the best audiobook for listening while driving. Except for this afternoon.
I was preparing to make a quick stop at the grocery store with my sons. With my husband out of town for most of this week, I told the boys they could drive the meal plan. Their requests were predictable: spaghetti with meatballs, mac and cheese, pizza. But son #1 (the custard maker from our day of cream puffs) was enamored as I with A Homemade Life. So it was his suggestion that we try the red cabbage salad with lemon and Parmesan that Molly’s beau whipped up one night.
I love red cabbage so it wasn’t a stretch to convince me to dive in. But I was impressed my teen son wanted to give it a go. He polished off a bowl along with the leftover broccoli rabe pasta from Thursday. I took a page from Molly and savored the salad as the main attraction with a wedge of cambozola cheese and water crackers. The salad is very simple: a dressing of lemon juice, olive oil and pressed garlic over a mound of shredded red cabbage and grated parmesan cheese, topped with freshly ground pepper. I found one mention of the recipe online at a website “where farm and family meet.” How ironic!
Filed under Quick, Weekend
Survived the week, but no energy left for anything fancy for the weekend:
Friday – Tilapia with olives and peppers, over angel hair pasta
Saturday – Take out Thai
Salmon with lemon-cilantro vinaigrette
Baked fingerling potatos with garlic lemon sauce (instead of couscous featured in the salmon recipe)
Filed under Quick, Weekend