Tag Archives: recipes

Wednesday Night Dinner: Alexa

The inspiration for this somewhat ad hoc meal was the day I spent combing through  all of Smitten Kitchen’s archives (too addicting). There was a recipe for sweet potatoes with pecans and goat cheese that appealed to me for all these reasons: 1. sweet potatoes 2: goat cheese 3: easy to make 4: looks pretty 5: goat cheese is the best 6: I wish I owned a goat. I basically followed the recipe, except for lack of measuring and I used walnuts instead of pecans because pecans seemed unconscionably expensive and, also, I like walnuts better. We didn’t have red wine vinegar, so I used tarragon vinegar, which I thought was perfectly fine.

Cooking the sweet potatoes was easy — our pans are so well seasoned that I didn’t even grease the one I used and it was extremely exciting when sugar started oozing out of the potatoes because I did not expect that to happen. Also, I cooked up some israeli cous cous and sausage because I was concerned that I was going to leave my guests (family) hungry. Lucas and I had to keep up our energy for badminton class!

Saturday Night Dinner

Today’s post is a quick recap of Saturday night’s dinner, which went sadly under-photographed. We weren’t planning on writing about it, but the meal was so good that we felt we had no choice but to make a mention of it here. We’l let master chef Alison tell you about it.
I didn’t think about taking a photo until we were well into enjoying our Saturday night dinner. Ina Garten’s “roasted shrimp with feta” caught my eye as I was flipping though our cookbooks. So easy and delicious. The dish may be prepared ahead of time and put in the oven before dinner.
Ingredients:
2 T olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped fennel (our supermarket labels it as anise)
1 Tab garlic
1/4 white wine
2 t tomato paste
1 14 1/2 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 t dried oregano
1 T Pernod (we didn’t have any)
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 lbs (16 to 20 per pound) peeled shrimp with tail on
5 oz good feta cheese, coarsely crumbled
1 cup of fresh bread crumbs. Ina recommends removing the crusts from 4 slices of white bread and putting them into a food processor with a steel blade. I’m not sure what type of white bread one would buy so I bought a rustic baguette, didn’t remove the crusts, tore the bread into pieces and placed in the food processor.
3 T fresh parsley
1 t grated lemon zest
2 lemons
preheat oven to 400
Heat 2 T olive oil in a heavy oven proof skillet over medium-low heat. Add fennel, saute for 8 to 10 minutes until tender. Add garlic, cook one minute. Add wine, bring to boil scraping base of pan. Cook for 2 to 3 min reducing liquid in half. Add tomatoes with liquid, tomato paste (I just realized that I added 2 tablespoons rather than teaspoons — that’s how I have them packed in the freezer, oh well), oregano, Pernod, salt and pepper to skillet. Simmer over medium-low for 10 to 15 minutes, stir occasionally.
Arrange the ship tails up in one layer over mixture in skillet.  I waited for everything to cool a bit because I was worried that the shrimp might cook, but maybe they were supposed to cook a bit, confusing. Scatter the feta over the shrimp.
In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, parsley and lemon zest with the 2 T olive oil. Sprinkle mixture over shrimp.
Bake for 15 min until shrimp are cooked through and bread crumbs golden brown. Mine took longer, almost 25 minutes, but I used 2 lbs shrimp and doubled the sauce — there were six of us for dinner
Squeeze a lemon over the shrimp. Serve hot with slices of lemon.

Wednesday Night Soup

Some of our dinner guests are dismayed by Alexa’s habit of making soup for — gasp — dinner. However! Soup is delicious. Alexa is still most tickled by the immersion blender she received for Christmas. Additionally, it is important to squeeze in as much soup as possible while it is still somewhat cool out. So, black bean soup was on the menu last Wednesday. Alexa loves Mark Bittman’s recipe for smoky black bean soup in How to Cook Everything but she is too diminutive to reach the cookbook shelf with any ease so she approximated.

The ingredients are more or less as follows:

1 Onion (We like sweet onions)

Some olive oil

Chili powder, to taste

4 cups black bean, drained/rinsed

4 cups chicken stock

Chipotle pepper in adobo

Lime

cilantro, sour cream, cheese for garnish

We suggest started by chopping the onion, pouring some olive oil into large pot, sautéing the onion in the aforementioned large pot until soft and sweet. One then adds the chili powder, however much one thinks is appropriate. Cook for a little more. Then add beans, stock, chipotle pepper — raise heat to high, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for ten ish minutes. I like putting in less stock and maybe adding more at the end as I prefer a thicker soup. Oh. Then blend it. You can do it in batches in a regular blender, and you can certainly leave some of the beans unblended. But past experience indicates that blendering soup can be dangerous. Oh – then squeeze in lime, to taste. We like to garnish with cilantro, sour cream and maybe some shredded cheese.

Because this was a light dinner, we also made sweet potato fries. We love sweet potato fries. We peel the potatoes, chop them into fry like shapes, put them in a bowl with some olive oil, salt, pepper. This time we also added some asiago cheese to bowl the fries and then baked them at 425 F for about 15-18 minutes on a side. There has been much discussion on how to get fries crispy. This time, we tried heating up the pan in the oven before hand and putting them on a hot tray. It sort of worked. Any other suggestions?

Monday Night Waffles

Tonight’s meal was inspired by a staple from the restaurant Sneakers’ (Winooski, Vermont) menu. The dish is sweet potato waffles and chicken and has been a source of inspiration on many cold college Sundays. The enthralling part of this meal is the unreal flavor that is imparted from the juxtaposition of culinary elements that don’t typically frequent the same social circles.  As the sweet potato waffles soften beneath the chicken gravy you begin to realize how brilliant this meal really is, but enough praise for Sneakers, below I will describe how I attempted this dish.

After some searching on the web of internets I came across a few suitable recipes and by borrowing the best points from each I attempted to turn mediocre into masterpiece.  The waffles required the following ingredients.

2 ½ cups all purpose flour

½  tsp salt

4 tspbaking powder

1 tsp spoon sage

3 eggs separated

½ cup milk

1/3 cup vegetable oil

pinch of cream of tarter

2 medium sweet potatoes (chopped up, boiled until soft, mashed)

Combine the dry ingredients excluding the cream of tarter in a large bowl with a whisk. In a separate boil beat together the milk, oil, egg yolks and sweet potatoes. Slowly stir the wet ingredients into the dry without over mixing. Finally, beat the egg whites with the cream of tarter until frothy and fold into the dough.

Follow directions on your typical waffle maker and cook waffles until browned on the outside.

The gravy I choose relies on the flavor of caramelized onions, make this ahead of time by cooking one large onion thinly sliced into rounds with olive oil over medium heat for roughly 40 minutes, if is taking too long or you want a sweeter flavor sprinkle some brown sugar on the onions to expedite the process.  For the gravy you will also need the following;

2 tbs butter

2 tbs flour

1 cup chicken broth

½ cup milk

1/3 cup heavy cream

salt and pepper to taste

pinch of nutmeg

 

Melt the butter and slowly whisk in the flour to create a roux. Then slowly add small amounts of liquid starting with the milk and alternating between each. Allow for the gravy to thicken and then add the nutmeg, salt and pepper and finally the caramelized onions.

While stirring the sauce you should be simultaneously cooking the chicken. While this meal would traditionally be served with fried chicken I simply cooked it in olive oil in a skillet. You should dredge roughly a pound of chicken tenders in flour with paprika to taste and once the skilled is hot cook until tender and brown on the outsides.

Now all that remains is putting the pieces together which entails placing two tenders on each waffle and topping with sauce, I also served peas alongside which complemented the dish excellently.