Archive for February, 2011

Simple, healthy side dish: Split pea and sweet potato barley salad

While in whole foods bulk section, I was inspired to make a new dish, split pea and sweet potato barley salad in sage honey butter. It was simple to make and the flavors worked really well together.

I boiled 1 C. of barley and .25 C. dried split peas in water flavored with salt and honey. Then I diced half a sweet potato, seasoned with salt and cayenne powder and roasted them in the oven at 375. Once the barley and potatoes were close to done, I melted some butter/olive oil in a skillet with honey and chopped fresh sage. The I poured that melty mixture over the combine ingredients, ending in a slight sweet, sagey perfume. Will make again.

Split peas are good!


Celebration Station: Mexican night

To celebrate my resignation from Morningstar, I decided to make a Mexican feast to accompany my boxed wine party. I made guacamole, halibut ceviche, and chiahuahua cheese and jalapeno quesadilla. Here are some recipes:

-1 avocado (mashed)
-half a small tomato (diced)
-quarter of a small onion (tiny dice)
-2 T. salsa
-1 T. freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
-salt to taste

-6 oz white fish (i used halibut and yum!)
-half a bell pepper (diced)
-quarter of an onion (tiny dice)
-1/2 C. jicama (diced)
-1 jalapeno (diced)
-.5 C. lime juice
-bunch of cilantro
-salt to taste
-I diced the halibut and left it in the lime juice with a little salt, sugar and .5 C water for 30-40 mins. The fish should turn white versus translucent as the lime juice denatures the protein. I added the jicama to the soaking fish at the end to remove some of its starch. Then I combine all ingredients, straining out most of the soaking liquid. I dress with a little olive oil and salt.

Mexican food can be so refreshing!

!Mexican fiesta!

Seed Savers Exchange

For the past two years, I have stocked my garden with seeds and starter plants from Seed Savers Exchange. I have always been pleased with the quality and taste of the resulting produce!

I just ate a bunch of kale.

Once every few years, I buy bacon. Deciding on a hot green salad for dinner, my winter mind jumped to the thought of bacon. Greens in bacon is not original, it’s almost a classic. And now I know why.

I cut four strips of bacon into small pieces and let them sizzle away in my cast iron skillet. After extracting about 1/2 C. (at least) of bacon fat, I removed the bacon pieces and put them in the oven to crisp. Then I added chopped onions to all that bacon fat, luckily there was a little left when i threw in the blanched kale. (boiled the kale for a few minutes to breakdown the chewy veins.) I added back in the now crispy bacon bits and seasoned with salt and raw sugar (kale can be a little bitter). Then I proceeded to eat the entire bunch of kale. Good thing I started exercising again…


Homemade Pizza!

Making pizza at home is not as time consuming as one may think. And the benefits of fresh, quality ingredients and control over addition of fats argue that pizza at home is the best way to go.

When I make simple bread, see recipe tab and ‘artisan bread in 5 minutes per day’, I make half of the dough into bread and store half in the fridge for pizza later. My dough has had the habit of breaking out of its tupperware and mingling with neighbors. I realized that a little kneading here and there helps control its outbursts for attention. When I’m ready to make pizza, I take out the dough and roll it to the size of my baking stone. (cheap and useful for crispy crusts) I let it warm up for 40 minutes while I prep other ingredients and put the baking stone in the oven to heat.

I’ve tried several pizza combinations thus far, and my favorite in the veggie pizza pictured below. I sauteed onions in butter/olive oil for 20 minutes with some tomato paste and deglazed with 1/2 C. red wine. That’s my sauce. Then I added roasted red peppers, sauteed crimini mushrooms, spinach, freshly shredded mozzarella cheese, tomato slices and topped with oregano, red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese. Throughout the entire process I was seasoning the ingredients, so watch the salt.

Once the oven and stone are at 400 degrees, I take out the stone and assemble the pizza directly on it. I first add a little cornmeal to the stone to prevent burning/sticking. After about 15 mins in the oven it’s done! And having pizza leftovers is a perfect meal at work or school.

Veggie pizza. Yum.

San Francisco arrives in Chicago

San Francisco is incredibly innovative when it comes to marrying technology and food. Commonly used are mobile food trucks, like a curry cart, that can only be located by twitter feeds. Finally, that invention has made its way to Chicago. Now there is a cupcake truck that one can follow on Twitter to learn of its whereabouts. Can’t wait to see what’s next!

Grant Achatz article in Chicago Tribune

Irv and Shelly’s Fresh Pick Boxes

Thanks to Groupon, I bought a discounted box of fresh produce from Irv and Shelly’s community supported agriculture (CSA). Typically, for $31, a produce starved urbanite can have farm fresh ingredients delivered to home.

I patiently waited to use my coupon until mid-January when grocery store produce came only from Southeast Asia and Latin America. Irv and Shelly’s occasionally has to order from CA, but otherwise they are sourced by local greenhouses and indoor hydroponic farms.

On the advent of my box arrival, several friends and I had a cooking party. Here are the collaborative results:

Irv and Shelly's produce doublebox

Aravinda's blood orange carrot salad

Carmelized onion, goat cheese and arugula pizza, Sauteed crimini mushrooms!

Saigon Sisters (Vietnamese sandwich shop)

Finding a good sandwich is a very difficult thing to do. The quality and unique flavors of Saigon Sisters sandwiches are enjoyable. Fresh ingredients like carrots and cilantro, paired with roasted teriyaki chicken pieces make for a tasty combo.

Itto Sushi (authentic Japanese)

One mark of a good Japanese restaurant is that a significant portion of clientele is Japanese. (except when in Japan, obviously) Such is the case at Itto Sushi. Despite the awkward environment of a former Wendy’s shell, Itto Sushi provides quality, authentic dishes with excellent service.

I have now been to Itto three times, each time trying a new type of dish.

1. Soba (wheat) noodles in broth with fish cakes – Tasty noodles and mushrooms. Fish cakes were new for me, a spam of fish but better quality.

2. A ridiculous amount of sashimi and sushi (and sake) – The quality of fish is excellent, especially for the price.

3. Tempura dinner entree with sides of cucumber salad and miso soup – I never deep fry food at home because it requires a large amount of oil, good technique, and it makes a mess. My shrimp and vegetable tempura was a nice treat that I would never make for myself.

My next endeavor is to grab a group of friends and try their 50 appetizers in tapas style. I’ve heard their more traditional Japanese dishes are what make this restaurant unique. Enjoy!

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