Posts tagged ‘kitchen firsts’
Unfortunately, I recently discovered that cheesecake is delicious. For ages I thought I didn’t like it, at least not enough to seek it out, and this helped me avoid the cheesecake-lust that I now imagine must torment cheesecake enthusiasts on a regular basis. But then I tasted an amazing one with a crumby crust and creamy, dreamy center topped with lemon curd, and I realized that me and cheesecake could be friends.
Kale is one of those kitchen firsts where I’ve eaten the stuff a thousand times, but never actually cooked it for myself. You see, I kind of always thought that I didn’t like kale, or that it was ok but not worth my time or effort to actually cook at home. But in the name of getting back on the kitchen firsts wagon before the end of the year, it seemed high time to go and get a bunch of kale, and little did we know we’d be back to the market the next day to get some more.
You see, we got a bit distracted with our first bunch of kale, but were too excited about the prospect of this pasta to wait to make it. So another bunch came home with us, and I’m so glad that it did because this pasta was a kale revelation! I was a little skeptical about it, even up to the very moment that I tossed all the parts of the dish together, because tasting the parts separately (the spicy breadcrumbs, braised kale, pasta, and parmesan) it really didn’t seem like anything to write home about. But it is way more than the sum of its parts, and I feel confident saying that this dish would appeal to kale-lovers and kale-haters alike– the kale becomes mild and tender as it braises, the cheese gives a little rich nuttiness, the lemon gives a nice lift, and the spicy, garlicky breadcrumbs provide a nice aromatic crunch. All in all, a very satisfying pasta for a late autumn dinner, and one you can feel good about eating too!
Paneer (fresh Indian cheese) is an ingredient that I’ve been waiting to do as a kitchen first all year, and a chilly fall evening seemed like the perfect time to whip up some warming curry. I waded through recipe options just enough to notice that there are about a million things you can do with paneer (or rather, a million different recipes for two or three things to do with paneer), and we settled on a nice looking mattar paneer recipe (paneer and pea curry) that sounded perfect for a blustery day. We adapted things along the way just a bit and were delighted to find that this dish can be really easy! Perfect for a weeknight, and a great way to incorporate a satisfying vegetarian recipe into your repertoire.
I love my River Cottage Bread Handbook. I tend to go through obsession phases with new cookbooks and then let them fall neglected for months, but this is a book that I’ve returned to reliably over the last few months of owning it. It is a great resource for bread making– concise, clearly written, well photographed, and full of recipes for really tasty breads of all kinds. The author recommends no fancy tools (his bread/pizza peel is a board nailed to a stick), and doesn’t really advocate shortcuts or secrets, he simply shows you how to make delicious rustic bread.
When I was considering whether to buy the book or not, one of the things that really sealed the deal was the promise of a five minute bread recipe. Was this possible? Turns out it is! Enter roti, a simple, unleavened flatbread from India/Nepal that is great for scooping up puddles of stew or chasing the heat from a mouthful of spicy curry. It’s crazy easy to make – flour, water, and salt – and while I wouldn’t call it a showstopper when it comes to flavor or texture, it’s tasty in a simple way and provides some palate-relief from whatever you’re dipping it in. And for five minutes and three ingredients, I think that’s a pretty reasonable result! There’s really no excuse for not trying it– even if you’re in the middle of cooking right this minute, you could probably still whip out some roti and have it on the table before your main dish!
We’ve been trying a variety of new pasta combinations lately, and this one, tossed with roasted butternut squash, wilted spinach, crumbled bacon and parmesan, really won me over. I’ve never cooked with butternut squash before, partly because they are sort of big and intimidating-looking (I didn’t realize we could use up a whole one in one dish), but also because Stephen professes to hate them, along with other orange things like sweet potatoes, yams, and all other winter squashes. It hasn’t ever bothered me that I couldn’t cook these things for Stephen, but when I saw a recipe for pasta with butternut squash that also featured bacon, parmesan, and spinach, I thought that maybe, just maybe, I could convert him to embrace the squash.
Well, it’s been two weeks since the start of my preschool year, and my new routine seems to have thrown me off my blog-game just a lil bit. Please don’t check how long it’s been since my last post. The ironic thing is that we have kept up with the cooking and photographing and kitchen firsts over the last few weeks (in fact, we’ve been cooking a lot!), I’ve just let them lay dormant in the camera for far too long. But no more! With this post, I am hoping to jump back in to the swing of things. I’m positive that wrangling preschoolers, cooking, and blogging can co-exist!
Anyways, here’s a kitchen first I’ve been hanging on to for a little bit. Pastitsio turned out to be one of those multi-first meals, in that I’ve never had pastitsio before, we worked with lamb for the first time, and I grated fresh nutmeg for the first time (don’t ask me why I’ve never done this before– silly, huh?). Now that we’ve tried it, it seems to me that pastitsio is sort of like a fancy-fied, Greek-style hamburger helper (dare I call it lamb-burger helper?), but in a good way. Whatever you call it, pasta + cheese + tomatoey cream sauce + ground meat = one tasty homey meal, and all I can say is if actual hamburger helper was this satisfying I would be picking up some boxes and adding it to my dinner repertoire. This is definitely a good meal to warm you up on an autumn night.
There are, again, two kitchen firsts this time around. The first is the making of something pickled! I mean, I guess we made kimchi before, but that hardly seems to be in the same category as these quick red onions. I normally have a pretty so-so reaction to pickled red onions– they strike me as a little slimy and boring, neither a detriment nor an asset to whatever I might eat them with, but these quick pickled ones from America’s Test Kitchen were totally amazing. They had that all-important pickly, briny vinegar flavor, but with just enough sweetness to appeal to people that usually don’t like pickled things. They had a little heat from some jalapeno, but not too much, and they managed to be softened from the pickling liquid but still keep a little bit of crunch! They are so good I could snack on them plain, but I won’t, for the sake of my breath. Also, they are much better on tacos.
The second kitchen first is me deigning to allow a foul, nasty ingredient into my kitchen. Cilantro! Cilantro seems to be a very polarizing ingredient in the food world, and while I’ve heard that you can train your palate to accept cilantro, I have no desire to do so! That is, except for the times that I’m trying to enjoy Mexican or Thai food and cilantro sneaks in to mess up my otherwise delicious meal, or the fact that, despite my undying love for mangos, I have never been able to enjoy a mango salsa due to the ubiquitous sprinkling of cilantro. So actually, maybe it would be in my interest to at least be neutral about cilantro…I guess if anything can accomplish that, it’s these steak tacos.