Last night I tried a recipe for hunter’s chicken from my friend Jen over at Last Night’s Dinner – a dish that earned her major kudos from the Food52 community. We served it with sauteed chard and soft polenta, and it was warm and comforting for a stormy evening. Leftovers were even better for lunch today.
It has a savory base of dried porcini and fresh crimini mushrooms, onions, grated carrot, sweet vermouth and red wine, and it really is the perfect dish to serve over polenta. We’ve eaten all of the chicken out of it, and I’m rather excited to use the remaining sauce as a vehicle for pork meatballs. I’ll let you know how that goes.
As it happened, it was an apropos evening to be making one of Jen’s recipes, as she had a rather major announcement yesterday over on her blog. Congratulations and the very best of luck to Jen and Michael!
We have rather a lot of beef in our downstairs freezer, thanks to the half a cow we buy every couple of years, so any time the urge for steak strikes we tend to go with it. It’s a wonderful excuse to make chimichurri sauce, a traditional Argentinian concoction of parsley, lemon, hot pepper and olive oil. And as it turns out, it’s even better on roasted mushrooms than it is on beef. A little bit spooned into an omelet was a good move as well. Actually, I’m not sure what it wouldn’t be good on.
We looked through quite a few books looking for different chimichurri recipes. Some use lemon juice, some use vinegar. Some are just parsley, but many add oregano as well. All versions are good – you could basically make up your own depending on the ingredients at hand. We just tried a version out of one of our street food cookbooks, and it turned out spectacular. It was very liquidy, though – not a problem as long as everything on your plate tastes good with chimichurri sauce, because it’s all going to get souped up together. You could probably thicken it up by adding a lot more chopped fresh herb and folding it in at the end.
This is an awesome lasagna. I’m not kidding, it’s really, really good. Unless you don’t like mushrooms, of course, in which case I can’t help you. This is all about the mushrooms. And the cheese.
I got the idea for this lasagna from a recipe in Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, but I embellished it a bit with extra cheese and a generous amount of sausage, because I tend to feel that sausage makes everything better. One technique of hers that I think is really key here is adding the porcini soaking liquid to the bechamel. It gives the creamy sauce an earthy perfume that I find irresistible.
After a trip to the farmer’s market our first morning home, we found ourselves in possession of some fine beet greens and a bag of shiitake mushrooms. I thought of one of our regular “light” meals, buckwheat soba stirfried with beet greens, and reinvented it as a cold noodle salad with baked tofu. It worked so well, I might even like it better than the hot version. And it’s a perfect dish for this ridiculously hot weather we’re having right now, especially if you do all the cooking early in the day.
In the morning, I boiled the soba and tossed it with some soy sauce and plenty of rice vinegar, then put the noodles in the fridge to chill. Jon sliced up a block of firm tofu and got it marinating in a mixture of soy sauce and sesame oil. Later in the day he spread the tofu out on a sheet and baked it at 300° for about an hour and a half, turning the pieces once, until it gained a leathery texture with a slightly crisp edge (one of the easiest and best ways to cook tofu, in my opinion). He also stirfried the mushrooms and greens with some ginger, then let everything chill.
Shortly before dinnertime, we combined the noodles and vegetables, added a bunch of chopped scallion, sprinkled the tofu on top, and dripped a little sambal oelek over it all. It was earthy and spicy, but still deeply refreshing, and just what we wanted. Leftovers kept well for several days.
A couple of months ago we had a nice splurge at Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks. One of our more exciting acquisitions was a copy of Greg Malouf’s Turquoise, a gorgeous production that immediately made me want to go to Turkey (not something that had ever happened to me before). Despite its beauty, I had completely failed to make anything out of it until this week, when I was suddenly feeling adventurous.
We decided to try two new side dishes during the week: a salad of grated celery root, peppers and mint, and a dish of baked mushrooms and chiles in a paprika sauce. I thought they both sounded interesting, and used vegetables that are at least somewhat in season.
After a successful food safari out on the Skagit Flats on Saturday (including a truly amazing brunch at the Rhody – I mean, seriously, potato pancakes with sausages, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce!?! Not to mention those little cranberry walnut things – yum) we came home prepared for a cozy November evening inside.
We brought home bread and strawberry jam from the Breadfarm (we bought fresh macaroons, too, but somehow they never made it home), fresh leeks, celeriac, broccoli, shelling beans and chioggia beets from Dunbar Gardens, and a nice bag of groceries from Slough Food: multicolored eggs from Osprey Hill Farm, farro from the Methow Valley, guanciale (cured pork jowl) from Salumi, Humboldt Fog and Petit Basque cheeses, and a bag of fresh chanterelles. Dinner almost cooked itself!
It’s been a rainy, blustery week so far. It’s starting to snow in the mountains already, and the markets are piling their endcaps high with winter squash. Definitely time to bring out the autumnal recipes again. We marked the occasion with some baked chicken, delicata squash and our favorite wild rice with mushrooms.
Sometimes I go all out with this dish, adding chopped pecans and dried cranberries for a festive look and flavor, and sometimes greens as well. This time we had a lovely bagful of chanterelles that Jon picked up at the farmer’s market, and I didn’t want anything to compete with them. Continue reading
I’ve eaten farro three times this week, and I’m still excited about it – not bad. I’d only eaten it a couple times before, and thought it was really swell, but only recently bought some at the Spanish Table in Seattle. Last weekend at the farmer’s market we got a bunch more fresh oyster mushrooms, which I thought would go splendidly with the farro – I was right.
I followed the basic cooking instructions for farro in The Italian Country Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper – very simple, just rinsing a cup of farro and throwing it in a saucepan with three cups of water and a little salt, then simmering it for 40 minutes or so. Continue reading
We had a pretty successful farmer’s market run on Saturday, so we’re trying to meal-plan our way through the week so everything gets used. This dinner was designed to use up a bag of truly splendid oyster mushrooms and a bunch of spinach from Frog’s Song Farm.
I wanted to do some sort of tart, to really feature the mushrooms’ flavor, so I took my usual approach of opening three or four different cookbooks and kind of combining ideas from all of them. Continue reading
It’s a strange thing that sometimes, when you first glance through a new cookbook, one particular recipe catches your eye. You make it, and like it, then never make any other recipe out of that book – you just keep making that first recipe over and over again. Or maybe that’s just me.
This recipe is out of a library book, Jacques Pépin’s Fast Food My Way, which I checked out when I was feeling particularly crunched for time and wanted some quick dinner ideas. I was thrilled when I discovered this gratin, which is quick to assemble, even quicker to bake, and doesn’t taste quite like anything else I make. And it’s very easy to make just enough for two people – no messy leftovers. The shrimp both bake and steam in the moisture from the wine and vegetables and are beautifully crisp and tender, with the nice crunchy breadcrumb topping over all.
Because of the basic perfection of the original recipe, I’ve not played around with it at all, except to get rather casual about quantities – except that this time I decided to gather a few leaves of fresh rainbow chard from my tiny backyard plot, shred them and scatter them into the gratin. Continue reading