Category Archives: Dinner

Recent rotation

In our effort to cut back some, we’re turning to less experimentation in cooking. Not sure how long this will last, but it does mean that we’ve developed a few standbys that make it into the rotation rather regularly.

I’m yet another one who’s fallen victim to the deliciousness of Ottolenghi’s Black Pepper Tofu. Especially with steamed broccoli.

Another fast favorite is Moroccan Merguez Ragout with Poached Eggs.

There’s always red beans and rice. Well, almost always.

More as I remember.

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Tonight’s dinner: Grilled Beef Salad

Okay. This one is one to repeat. We made Yam Neua because it sounded so interesting. Holy yum.

Chris grilled up the peppered steak. I sliced and diced the cucumbers, shallots, mint and cilantro. Combine, and toss with the sauce. The flavors were incredibly intense. Spicy and rich. Perfectly tender steak that provided some respite from the spicy cucumbers. It was weird that the mint and cucumbers were so much spicier than the beef. Delicious.

Crab, like I never had crab before

So, the heat kind of sapped my strength and I didn’t want to fire up the stovetop. Chris and I, without any argument whatsoever, settled upon Conrad’s. I had softshelled crab on the brain, and wanted to get one last fling in before the season ended. There were slab crabs there, incredible in size. I’ve never seen such huge softies. They made the “hotel” crabs look meek in comparison.

But.. I got distracted by the menu. I’ve heard about deep fried hard crab, and thought I’d have to hunt down a spot on the Eastern shore to try it. To my surprise, like the clue in a poorly written sci-fi novel, it had been under my nose the entire time. Hello, deep fried hard crab!

It’s a hard crab, top shell removed, stuffed with crabcake, dipped in a cornmeal-based batter, and then, as you might glean from the name, deep fried. It was like having seafood hushpuppies, a crab cake, and hard crab in one ridiculous package.

The crab itself wasn’t my favorite. I think steamed brings out a much better flavor. And it was entirely too much for me to eat. I also got sides, which made it ridiculously overwhelming, considering it had built-in sides. It was worth it, though, because the coleslaw was some of my favorite ever.

Oh, and I discovered that Conrad’s is running a Foursquare promotion. 5 check-ins and you get $5 dollars off orders over $35.

Korean queries

So, when I went to H-Mart, I picked up a few things on impulse. I was looking through the pantry today, and decided that it’s time to figure out what I can do with them, or if I need to go back for more ingredients first.

The first thing that caught my eye was fermented soy bean flour. The back of the bag indicates that I could make soy  bean paste, provided I have 40 days to wait. I’m guessing that this is similar to miso? I could also make hot bean paste, if I got back for malt flour and wheat flour. My favorite part of the recipe is the note at the end: “For soup use (Chigae), you’d better add more soy bean flour.”

I’m tempted to try to make some doenjang jjigae. Bean paste vegetable stew. We’ll see.

I also got some hot red pepper paste. It lead me to a korean fried chicken recipe. Intriguing. I seem to remember that it can be used in making kimchi, too, but I could be way off base.

I also got some pickle vegetable hot pot seasoning… that one seems easy enough to follow.

I think I need to go to the store with more of an idea what I want to make.. Maybe next time. Or does anyone know a good English-language source for Korean recipes?

Samosa chat

This is one of our favorites, but we finally did it well.

If you’re not familiar with samosa chat, it’s a street food sort of thing. Delicious layered meal that’s served in one dish. I’m not an expert on this (yet), but I think some of the standard components are samosa & chana masala. This time we deep-fried the samosas since we had the deepfryer out already. Oh, what a difference! I also used Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for chana masala which was incredibly easy and delicious. One of the most successful attempts we’ve had making chana masala.

Atop our fried samosas (cut in half), we layered some chana masala, cilantro, sev and a number of chutneys and sauces. I know it could’ve used more, but this was made from ingredients we already had on hand.

We definitely will do some work to perfect our samosa chats… a real favorite here.

Bitter melon curry

Thanks to Binna, and a forgotten bank card, I forewent the farmer’s market, and instead investigated H-Mart. For those who don’t know, H-Mart is a national chain of Korean grocery stores. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but the wide breadth of nationalities who were competing with me for aisle space was amazing.

In addition to familiar foods (nori, kimchi, and the black rice that I tried at Binna’s), I was drawn to try the things that aren’t available through my normal channels. This led to last night’s experiment with bitter melon. Everyone seemed to be grabbing them. Everyone can’t be wrong.

The resulting curry (a Pakistani/Bangladeshi variation inspired by the wiki article on bitter melon) was something, alright. After salting and washing the melon, frying it up, adding a large quantity of onions and spices, the flavor had some pucker to add to the spice. Chris loved it. I think I still need to learn more about the preparation, and could use advice.

And there will be more experiments with the loot to follow.

Tachos

As Chris pointed out early last week, when you say you’re inviting people over for tacos, they think you’re being somewhat lazy. We kept our feet in pain all day long prepping for tacos and guests.

The menu had a lot of input from Seth. He should get consultant credit.

First, we drove out to Springfield Farms in the new car.  Chris got to swing around curves and shift on inclines in the new manual-transmission car (and he did so admirably!). The farm itself was hoppin’ with people and poultry, and we picked up some chicken, turkey chorizo and flank steak. The chicken breasts were obscenely big… but the farm should be all natural… Chris then got to test out the other end of the extreme, driving in the Wegmans lot.

Then the fun began. Hours of dicing and slicing. Ponzu-marinated flank steak (delicious!), chile verde with chicken in the slow cooker (later shredded), and chorizo cooked down with some onions.

To go with that, Chris made some lovely guacamole and fresh salsa, I threw together a corn salad and jicama and grapefruit salad. Doing so, from Seth’s loose recipe, I had a revelation. Recipes are crutches. Tasting regularly and modifying thusly really makes a better product. I know, I know; this should be obvious, but it only really sunk in yesterday. The corn salsa was delicious.

Then.. we got to discover where every single slight cut and scrape on our hands were from the chopping as we squeezed limes galore for margaritas. Also made the Lee Bros. homemade strawberry wine coolers. Also a hit. Very easy. Very recommended during strawberry season.

We served the tacos with shredded lettuce, corn and flour tortillas — yielding many happy guests.

In a pickle

Yes, every time someone pickles things and blogs about it, the post must be titled something about being in a pickle.

After pouring over the new cookbooks of last week, my mind was set on pickles. We had some green beans that we didn’t get around to from last week’s farmer’s market, and I picked up some lovely carrots at this week’s market, forgetting that we had a few bags of grocery-store carrots in the fridge. What to do with these lesser vegetables? Pickle away!

The bounty so far includes some curry-jalapeno picked carrots, pickled green beans and pickled russian purple radishes. I intend to try a ginger beet pickle tomorrow. I’m hoping to either use these as snacks or to top salad. Or fish.

Tonight’s dinner was a success, too. Picked up some green garlic at the market, not quite grasping that it’d be so different from the stuff we normally cook with. The texture is so bizarre when you’re chopping, but it’s really interesting and flavorful. We followed the linguine with green garlic clam sauce on this NY Times page. Served it with a mixed greens salad, with greens from Ray’s yard, and a curry vinaigrette. That vinaigrette does really interesting things. I’d love to mimic a chicken curry with grapes and almonds. Chris had a suggestion, too, but he’s talking to me right now and I can’t expend additional brainpower to access my memory.

So far, everything’s been worth repeating.

Oh, have some tomato sauce going on the back burner. Here’s hoping it meets to the successes of the rest of the day.

UPDATE: Nearly forgot.. sipping on my celery julep. Very refreshing, and makes you consider celery in ways that you hadn’t necessarily. Chris: “Peppery.” Me: “herbal.” It’s a very refreshing drink. I do declare.

Smooth sailing

So, I made the cranberry meyer lemon scones that I mentioned in a previous post, and they’ve been a nice semi-tart breakfast, but have been really digging on a smoothie accompaniment in the morning. We’ve been having fresh strawberries, a dollop of vanilla yogurt, powdered green tea, orange juice and bananas compounded and then blitzed with ice. It adds some pep in the morn!

I guess I’m craving more green, because I’ve also found those smoothies served with a green salad, or a Cobb salad variation, is incredibly satisfying. It’s not a homemade salad dressing, but Newman’s Own Lite Ginger Sesame dressing brings it together nicely.

Lastly, there’s no recipe, but last night I used this spice rub that came with the W&S dinner party package on some salmon (“grilled” using the prize pan) and served them with incredibly fresh peas. I was about to flash boil them, but I’m glad I tried them first. Pure candy, as they were raw! I read recently that there’s a recipe for fresh green pea ice cream, and… I admit it, I’m intrigued.  It’s by David Lebovitz, but in his ice cream cookbook, which, sadly, I do not own.

Now to put together a menu for the dinner party.. without going overboard. I need restraint, but I love the excuse to try something fun. I’m finding inspiration in some new cookbooks… Ad Hoc, Lee Bros. and Michael Symon’s books. Think I might be making the strawberry wine coolers from the Lee Bros. cookbook. Everything else is unsettled, though.

Slacking! — an update

Let’s see. . .

Seth made lamb burgers on the salt block, topped with watercress and red pepper.  His asparagus with meyer lemon, also cooked on the salt, was delectable! I made a rhubarb bread pudding, but I wasn’t too happy with it, so no sense sharing the recipe.

Finally settled on brunch — Smitten Kitchen’s boozy baked french toast (sans booze).

Chris made a yummy turkey chorizo sauce and pasta. Made for great leftovers, too. He was in a trance, so I can’t really report on what went in there.

Later that week, we made a shaved asparagus salad with avocado and lime. It was an interesting technique, and I’m not sure what I’d do to improve it, yet — but I would repeat the experiment.

Last night we made a margarita cod and red quinoa. Well, it was supposed to be agave and kiwi salsa cod, but I substituted lime for kiwi… so it became margarita cod. Turned into a great, balanced meal.

Tonight was another Chris classic — a stir fry of edamame and asparagus on brown rice. Again, balanced. It was nice to have healthy food again.

I’m away from the kitchen for the next few days, but I’m not giving up on this online recipe log!