squash noodle

aaargh!

My original plan for Halloween dinner was to try a recipe for sweet potato gnocchi from the penultimate issue of Gourmet (sigh), but the little sugar pie pumpkin that I bought at Gordon’s was looking at me reproachfully. Right. I put off the gnocchi in favor of a sort-of repeat of last year’s pumpkin ravioli. Why did I think it would be less painful this time?

cleaning out the pumpkin

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feeling autumnal

maple leaf

sun in the leaves

Cold weather, orange and yellow leaves, windstorms, torrential rains, and a stubborn head cold have conspired to make me really feel the onset of autumn. I’ve roasted a chicken, made several pots of soup, and braised a brisket with Frank’s Red Hot chile sauce and dried onion soup mix (not to mention my first kugel – more on that later). I also made dinner rolls, which I haven’t done in a million years.

sweet potato rolls

These aren’t just any dinner rolls, either. They’re sweet potato dinner rolls, which are sweet and earthy and soft and perfect for scenting the house on a cold fall evening.

sweet potato

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steak with sumac and pomegranate

dinner

For some time there has been a page torn out of a food magazine stuck to our refrigerator door. I found the photography compelling – a deep red background, with pieces of steak in a deep red sauce in the foreground – strangely effective. And the recipe itself sounded like something we would like: broiled skirt steak, rubbed with sumac and served with a port-pomegranate pan sauce. It needed only the proper occasion, and Jon’s birthday immediately suggested itself.

flank steak
spice rub Continue reading

spiced sweet potato wedges

spiced yam wedges

We had already decided to have hamburgers for dinner, one night last week. The plan was to get some sort of interesting cheese and a big salad, and some form of roasted sweet potatoes, which we love. At the last minute I remembered a post I’d seen on Smitten Kitchen a little while back, for sweet potato wedges tossed with an interesting sweet and hot spice mix. The premise was almost identical to my usual approach, which is to toss sweet potato chunks with olive oil, coarse salt, pepper and sometimes paprika or cumin. However, I adore coriander and fennel, so when I saw this recipe I was sold. I pulled up the post from work and read the recipe to J over the phone, and he got the spices ground up and the oven hot (to 425°) before I got home.

spices for yam fries Continue reading

Padang fish curry

curried flounder with yams

In further pursuit of soft foods I can eat after my oral surgery last week, I’ve been going through cookbooks and looking for recipes that use white fish – I figure it’s one of the few animal proteins that doesn’t require much chewing. I’ve also been getting bored, so I thought a curry might be nice, as long as it didn’t have too many chunks in it. What I ended up with was the Padang fish curry, a sweet and slightly spicy coconut milk dish, from Cradle of Flavor. Thank goodness, it was actually like eating real food again!

Padang fish curry for two

adapted from Cradle of Flavor by James Oseland

flavoring paste:

  • 2 oz shallots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 2 unsalted macadamia nuts

for the curry:

  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (ideally), tied into a knot
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 daun salam leaf (if you have it)
  • 10 oz coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • kosher salt
  • two serrano chiles, tops cut off
  • 2/3 lb white fish Continue reading

lemony pork chops & sweet potatoes

pork chops and sweet potatoes

You ever have something in your fridge or pantry that’s really old, not very appealing any more, but not nasty enough to just throw away? I have this problem with preserved lemons – not the lemons themselves, I usually use them right up – but the syrup that they come in. Even after the lemons are gone, that juice is still good! But then you forget to use it, and it gets shoved to the back of the fridge, and you feel guilty about it but never quite want to toss the jar and buy a new one…at least that’s what happens to me.

So anyway, I wanted to do roasted sweet potatoes this week, so we went to the store looking for something to go with them. Pork chops sounded nice, and we were suddenly struck by the notion that we could use some of our leftover lemon goo on them! We used to roast pork blade steaks with preserved lemon and garlic, but hadn’t thought of it in a while.

cooking lemon-garlic pork chops Continue reading