Monday, May 24, 2010

Thank You, Bon Appetit!

It happened this weekend.  It was like a nightmare...

I sat down to create this weeks menu.  I methodically wrote out each day of the week on a notepad, went through the pantry, checked out the fridge and sat down to create.  Blank. 
I walked outside to check on my fresh herbs.  Sat back down.  Still blank.
I talked to my husband, "what kinds of things do we make that are good and that we can have for dinner this week?"  My blank stare was met with his blank stare. 

Normally I'm thinking of next week before the current week is even over.  Normally Ladd and I are vying for who gets to think of the most meals.  Normally I have a list lined up to blog about.  What is happening!?

That's when we decided to rely on an old friend: Bon Appetit Magazine.  Thank you Bon Appetit for adorning my coffee table, ready and waiting for someone to thumb through your pages.  Thank you for dazzling me with your photos, stories and recipes.  My Monday night meal thanks you.  Our bellies thank you.  And now, my blog thanks you. 

The May issue is full of inspiring ideas.  I often snag the main ingredients from a recipe, then add in my own details.  Tonight, mostly due to my lack of creativity, I decided to follow the directions.  My only changes were a short cut on croutons and the addition of basil. 

The front cover screams FABULOUS PASTAS! and is graced with a photo of fettuccine and asparagus, being lightly dusted with what appears to be parmesan.  Just under this eye-catching title, my Monday night meal spoke to me: Orecchiette with cauliflower and zucchini.  I love to say orecchiette.  I feel Italian as it rolls off my tongue.  You know those people that always pronounce prosciutto correctly?  Or any of the other Americanized Italian food names for that matter.  I never do.  But with orecchiette I simply can't help it.  I don't even know how to say it like an American.  Quite honestly, I don't even know if I'm saying it like an Italian.  I just know it feels right. 

This recipe mixes roasted cauliflower, zucchini, garlic, pasta and croutons for a rustic, simple and comforting meal.  The addition of anchovy adds the perfect saltiness, the nutty flavor of parmesan brings it all together, while fresh parsley and basil brightens it all up. It is a perfect vegetarian meal but something tells me a sprinkling of crispy prosciutto wouldn't make anyone turn it down.  It's easy on the wallet- many of the items are probably already in your kitchen- and a quick and easy meal for a week night. There wasn't anything we didn't like about it.  I just wish I could take the credit.

The official recipe: Orecchiette with Cauliflower, Anchovies, and Fried Croutons

Here's hoping next week isn't so... blank.  But if it is, the June issue just arrived in my mailbox today.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Join the Meatless Monday Bandwagon

It's official- I'm on the Meatless Monday bandwagon.  While I have a secret love affair with bacon, and chicken graces my dinner plate 4 days out of 7, I am content with 86ing chops, breasts, wings, loins or ribs at least one day a week.  Without getting too political, the benefits of Meatless Monday are plentiful; in a nutshell, though, it's better for the environment, your health, even your wallet!  Not to mention, it puts you in a position to think creatively and learn new and satisfying ways to incorporate vegetables into meals.  It's more than sitting down to a plate of salad.  Vegetarian cuisine isn't all about carrots and celery- it's legumes, greens, grains... even dairy.  If I can get my rather carnivorous husband to eat vegetarian once a week without saying things like, "where's the rest of it?" then anyone can!

New to vegetarian meals?  You certainly needn't start with something too complicated.  I often look to comforting staples like polenta and eggs to create a satiating and enjoyable meal.  Polenta is a snap to make, and by adding a handful of zesty pepperjack cheese, a couple of scallions and soft poached eggs, you've got a fantastic meal that won't make you miss the beef.  Think you need more?  Serve it with a side salad and garlic bread to round it out.

Zesty Polenta with Poached Eggs    
serves: 2

2 servings of polenta
vegetable broth
1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
2 scallions, white and green parts chopped
4 eggs
salt, pepper
favorite hot sauce (optional)

To cook the polenta, follow the instructions on the package, swapping in broth for the water.  I like Bob's Red Mill Organic Polenta.  When finished, add cheese, scallion and a splash more broth if you want it a little creamier.  Set aside.

Poach the eggs.  If you haven't made eggs this way before, check out Simply Recipes for an easy guide to doing so: Simply Recipes, Easy Poached Eggs Recipe.

To serve, split the polenta between two bowls and top with two poached eggs each.  Add a few splashes of hot sauce and enjoy. 

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Wingin' it Ma's Style

In the spirit of Mother's Day, I am sharing a recipe of my Mom's that is perfect for watching America's favorite sport.  My husband and I love buffalo wings.  In fact, we love all sorts of wings: sweet and sticky, barbecue, Asian, garlic and butter... you name it.  But we have a real affinity for the classic buffalo wing.  I think every time I call my mom, she's just finishing or about to make chicken wings.  But my mom doesn't just make the traditional hot sauce and butter combo.  She takes it a (delicious) step further.  The first time I ate these I was in love. In addition to the buffalo sauce, she adds minced garlic and a squeeze of tart lime juice.  Rumor has it she's now experimenting with different flavors of honey as well. 

Something I love about wings is that they are the perfect sustenance for sports.  No fork and knife needed, so your eyes never have to leave the TV.  I recently devoured these while watching the all-American rivalry of the Red Sox vs. Yankees.  However, the only saving grace of last nights  game was these wings. Between the rain delay and the Sox loss, I was at least satisfied that I ate well.  

For those of you that love the time-honored blue cheese dip, don't fret- these marry nicely with creamy blue cheese.  And a bonus for finger lickers: there is no napkin required as you'll simply revel in the finger licking that takes place when you're finished.

Ma's Buffalo Wings

~12-15 chicken wings
~about 1/4 cup butter
~5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
~juice of one lime
~1/2-3/4 cup of Frank's Hot Sauce (this is the only brand we use!)
~salt and pepper

Season wings with salt and pepper.  Cook in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.  About 5 minutes before the wings are finished, melt butter in a large deep pot (a Wok is perfect for this).  Add garlic.  When the wings come out of the oven, toss them in the pot to coat with garlic and butter.  Pour in the Frank's Hot Sauce, followed by the lime juice.  Continue cooking on low heat a few more minutes.  The sauce will thicken up just a bit.  Transfer the wings to a plate and pour the remaining sauce over the wings.  Serve with carrots, celery and blue cheese. 

Friday, May 7, 2010

Links to check out!

Each month I write a post for Farm to Table: The Emerging American Meal.  It's a great blog to be part of- full of important and noteworthy information.  I encourage you to become regular readers as they work to inform us all about everything from policy change to fun recipes to try with local ingredients.

Check out a dish I made featuring ramps:

And, as promised, here's a link to our pot luck from a couple weeks ago.  I had such a great time and hope we can do it again sometime!