If you ever read Serendipity books as a child, you may recall the mouse Tweezle who worked hard to forage and preserve in anticipation of the coming winter. It’s another long, cold day where you notice it getting darker in the evenings, and with it comes a chance to use leftovers and feel virtuous.
Yesterday’s roast chicken (or your favorite vegetarian substitute) are re-purposed in today’s Italian rice. This meal is a lazy version of one in Food and Wine’s Quick Italian from Scratch, which has several dishes I like to make.
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 2 cups of rice
- 1 lb of vegetables such as peas, beets, spinach, asparagus and mushrooms (frozen is fine but takes less cooking time)
- ~1 lb chicken, either roast leftovers or boneless thighs
- Boil the rice until tender, usually 10 minutes
- While it boils, fry the chicken in a tablespoon or so of oil if you’re using raw chicken
- With 2 tablespoons of stock, heat the vegetables in a pot, then add the rice and chicken
PS: Tomorrow’s dish should have an exciting and strange addition, stay tuned…
Even though I love the summer heat and swimming, my favorite season is still fall. The weather is cool, dry and often sunny, but more than that, it feels like a season of change and renewal. And with the extra cold nights and mornings, what’s better than a hot meal? I can’t answer that definitively, but tonight roast chicken was a welcome treat. Spigarello is a leafy green heirloom from Italy, with a flavor slightly milder than kale and with a light, almost tangy hint of broccoli.
- For the squash, cut in half and scoop out the seeds. Cover with tinfoil and cook for 45 minutes at 390 degrees or until soft when poked with a fork. I sometimes get fancy and fill the cavity with onions, red bell pepper and butter, and put the two halves back together.
- For the chicken, we just salted it and put it in for an hour at 400 degrees. We don’t cover it, and it never fails to result in crisp skin and juicy meat.
- For the Spigarello, bring a pot of water to a boil with salt and diced garlic, then cook the greens for about 4 minutes. For added flavor, cook in vegetable or meat stock.
Some days things don’t go as we plan. Imagine my horror when, after taking a bite of freshly seared steak, it tasted like freezer burn. This was no cheap cut, it was pricey and free-range from a local farmer’s market. There must have been an error in their packing, because I’ve never had this problem before.
This happened a few days ago and the cooked meat sat in my fridge, glaring at me defiantly. ‘Go on, throw me away and waste all that money,’ it seemed to sneer. I knew there must be another way, and sure enough, curry sauce came to the rescue!
As an emergency dish, the recipe is a bit slapdash – a bit of this, a pinch of that.
- Green rice (here’s my version)
- Mystery meat (or beans as a vegetarian alternative)
- Veggies like corn, summer squash, potatoes – anything sturdy enough to stand up to strong flavors and some heating
- Your favorite jar of curry sauce
- Saute the meat and vegetables in a pan until warm (mine were pre-cooked)
- Add lavish helpings of curry sauce
- Heat the rice in a pot or microwave until warm
It turned out quite nice over leftover green rice from yesterday’s meal along with the last drops of the Torii Mor 2010 Pinot Noir from Oregon – bright, tangy and almost flowery, but with a lasting finish. It was probably a little young to drink but it was delicious.
I followed it up with a flaky almond croissant filled with chocolate, mmm!
After a hiatus I promised myself I wouldn’t mention, involving illness, heartache and new friends, seafood seems like a good place to start. A trip to the local market and we have fresh scallops, spinach and parsley from the home garden.
- 3 scallops per person, or 4 if you love them
- Duck fat, frozen or fresh (I get it frozen at the local Asian supermarket), or butter or oil
- A serving of rice per person (basic recipe)
- Handfuls of fresh Italian parsley
- A handful or several fresh beet greens
- A handful of fresh or frozen spinach
- 1-2 chopped green onions
- Handful of pre-cooked chestnuts (optional)
- Heat the pan to medium-high with duck fat or oil of choice
- When the pan is sizzling hot, add scallops
- All recipes say 2 minutes per side but if you didn’t get your pan hot enough, it can take 5 minutes or more
- Cook until they don’t look translucent, they should get milky in appearance (nervous cooks can cut them in half to double-check)
- Cook the rice in a pot, or add to pot after cooking
- Add onions and greens, cook for a few minutes
- Add parsley and crumbled chestnuts, cook for a few minutes longer or until hot through
Green rice is adapted from Gwyneth Paltrow’s wonderful book My Father’s Daughter. You can use whatever greens you have on hand, kale is a good option although I recommend cooking it first.
Most five minute meals require upfront preparation and at least one pot. But some days I get home exhausted from work and want something quick while still somewhat healthy. All you need for this ‘recipe’ is a bowl and a microwave.
- 1 frozen meal of your favorite beef with macaroni
- 1 head of baby broccoli
- Microwave frozen meal until there’s 1 minute left
- Cut off the broccoli into bite-size chunks and place in a bowl
- Add the semi-cooked mac into the bowl and stir, then microwave for 1 minute
- Salt to taste
Tada! It’s healthy and yummy.
For some reason I don’t like drinking plain water, but during the summer I definitely need more water. At a charity event, I discovered a delicious drink featuring lemonade + gin + rosemary. I adapted this to make a rosemary lemon water, but you can also use mint, other herbs or no herbs.
- 20 ounces of water
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 1-2 stems of rosemary
- 1 tablespoon agave syrup (or other syrup)
- Mix lemon juice and agave syrup together until they are well blended
- Add the water and stir, then add the rosemary
- Slice the lemon and add a few of the pieces
This is a lemony flavored water, if you want real lemonade then use 3 lemons and 3 tablespoons of syrup.
My lazy attempt at making Green Goddess dressing was a success more as a dip than as a salad dressing. First off, I didn’t have quite all the ingredients called for and secondly, I was not in a mood to haul out the blender and then wash it afterward.
But I stand behind the word “success”… a tangy, fresh-tasting creamy guacamole-like dip as I imagine it to be interpreted by the French.
- 1 ripe avocado
- 3 tablespoons yogurt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh chopped tarragon
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped Italian parsley
- 1 fine chopped garlic clove (I used half a clove and then added a pinch of garlic powder)
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon agave or other syrup
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Ideally, use a blender or food processor.
- If you’re doing it manually, add the ingredients to a bowl and whisk them to a creamy consistency.