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.
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.
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
On the menu: Tofu, or “toadfood” as my sons call it. Usually noses turn upward as soon as they see me slicing the white milky rectangle into cubes for a stirfry. Tonight I celebrated small victories: no smart remarks and they actually ate the stirfry without complaint. (Well, I did see a few cubes of tofu parked on the rim of the dinner plate.)
I like tofu – it’s clean, simple, healthy. A nice break from those rich lamb shanks from the night before. And I particularly like this easy recipe from Epicurious.com. Nothing fancy, but the water chestnuts add a nice crunch.
Tofu and bok choy stirfry
Just when I thought I had our calendar under control we forgot that son #2 had final practice for his choir concert. Out the door he went, hot pocket in hand, as I wrapped up dinner. Followed shortly by son #1, who didn’t quite finish his dinner before heading to scouts.
I think they’ll both be back for round two on tonight’s dinner. It was quick and easy but tasty. One of a series of ideas based on frozen ravioli from a recent issue of Real Simple:
Ravioli with spicy cauliflower
Served a bit of sliced sopressata sausage on the side.