Turkish vegetables

dinner

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.

feta

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.

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goat cheese mashed potatoes

 goat cheese mashed potatoes

One of our new (to us) cookbooks was beginning to pine away from lack of use, and we decided we must make something from it. As it turned out, we managed three different dishes from the book in one meal: not all exactly as written, but definitely inspired by. As a result, we’ve decided that Greg Malouf is a genius. These recipes are from Artichoke to Za’atar (I prefer its UK title, Arabesque)- now we have to get to work on Turquoise. And I really must get hold of a copy of Saha.

fennel salad
breaded lamb chop
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penne carbonara

penne carbonara

I can hardly believe it, but it’s true: I had never eaten pasta carbonara before this week. Shocking, I know. And I might not have gotten around to it, if I hadn’t seen this amazing post. Jennifer’s carbonara was full of delicious local eggs, plus she had some wonderful looking pork jowl to work with; mine was a little more subdued but still very successful.

the last two eggs

We had come home from a wine tasting at our local shop, and were feverishly trying to think what we could cook with what was on hand. We had two eggs left in the fridge, a fresh pack of Hempler’s bacon, some parmesan cheese in the freezer, and some random boxes of Barilla pasta – and I already had carbonara on the brain from the aforementioned blog post. It seemed worth a try.

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beets & goat cheese

 steak with beet and goat cheese salad

It seems like this has become such a hackneyed combination of late – in the past year it seemed like every restaurant we’ve visited has had a beet/goat cheese salad on their menu. But you know what? That’s because the flavors are PERFECT together.

Oddly enough, though, I don’t think I had ever combined them at home. We eat beets fairly frequently, since I discovered the glory of roasting them in olive oil until they get soft and caramelized, but we usually just eat them straight and blazingly hot, or mix them with other roasted vegetables. I also once made a beet salad from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook where they were marinated in black currant vinegar and mixed gently with walnuts and watercress, but somehow beet salad never made it into the regular home repertoire.

bucherondin

A few days ago, though, I was shopping for something to go with a steak from our freezer, and I noticed bunches of baby beets from one of the local farms. As I was picking out a bunch, I suddenly remembered the half-round of Bucherondin chevre lurking in our fridge – we had eaten some of it along with good bread and the shrimp gratin earlier in the week, but then run out of bread – and it’s much too good of a cheese to allow to spoil. So I picked up a head of redleaf lettuce as well, hauled my goodies up the hill and plopped the beets into a pan of water to simmer. Once they were fork-tender, I ran cold water over them and slipped the skins off, cut up the beets into thick slices and drizzled a little walnut oil over them. The chevre I cut into small chunks, which went into the bowl with the beets. Then I tossed the lettuce with a dressing of olive oil, Dijon mustard and red wine vinegar, and took it all to the table so we could compose our own salads.

It was a thing of beauty alongside the steak, with an Oregon Bordeaux-style wine (Cana’s Feast Bricco Two Rivers – delicious) and a good pan sauce. Why don’t I do this more often?

An omelet and a glass of wine (and bread and salad)

eggs
I was on my own for dinner last night, a rather unusual event. I like cooking for myself, although I tend to gravitate towards things like noodles or sandwiches, or interestingly reconstituted leftovers. This time I decided to purposely keep things simple and cook myself an omelet for dinner, something I almost never do when we’re both home.

On the way home from work I talked myself into stopping at the co-op to get a small piece of cheese and a baguette to flesh things out, and when I got home I opened a bottle of white wine, a verdejo from the Spanish wine tasting last week. It was lovely with the faint sourdough taste of the bread.
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