Winter Cobb Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

December 27, 2011 § 1 Comment

Christmas has happened.  The frenzy leading up to the Big Day has peaked and waned and now at my house we’re all floating in a buzzy afterglow.   On the 26th my six year-old looked at me and said “Today I am wearing my jammies all day.” She held my gaze, waiting for me to disagree so that she could launch into a whining refusal to get dressed.  “Okay,” I said.  She looked bewildered for a moment and then happily dived headfirst into her gigantic pile of new toys. Go in peace, child.   « Read the rest of this entry »

Taking Stock and Making Stock

December 21, 2011 § 3 Comments

When the sun sets at 4 o’clock and you’re inner compass is wonky, something has to be done.  For me, that thing has been to make stock, the foundation for all things delicious in winter cooking.  Making stock is restorative on many fronts.  It’s simple, which relieves my brain.  It makes my house smell good, which makes it feel more like a cozy haven and less like a prison run by grade schoolers.  And it allows me to stockpile… that word is so appropriate…which will relieve untold amounts of stress in the future.

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Thai Curry Noodles, Quick ‘n E-zee

December 13, 2011 § 7 Comments

Some days are built around creating expansive dinners….Carefully selecting ingredients in the morning, chopping and dicing them while listening to public radio in the afternoon, cooking at a leisurely pace into the evening.  Those are very special days (and most of them are in my past, before motherhood).  I’ve always believed that the meals I cook reflect the mood that I am in when I cook cook them – relaxed and mellow days result in dinners that come together effortlessly and taste great. This doesn’t bode well for most of my family’s evening meals.

Lately, I spend my days in relative leisure.  Nonetheless, the hours between when I pick my kids up from school and the e.t.a. for dinner can get ugly.  The time that I imagine I will spend crafting a home-cooked meal of  splendor ends up being spent teaching my 6 year-old the ins and outs of the remote (when is she going to lean this invaluable skill, Dear God?!?) and making snacks and more snacks for my famished 8 year-old.  More than once I’ve asked myself what I am trying to prove.  Clearly, generations of women have been able to put three squares, homemade, from scratch, on their family’s table each day.  But maybe that skill has been bred out of us. I was raised on Stouffer’s and I turned out just great.  Still, I persevere.  Even though my family would probably be better off with a quickie dinner followed by conversation instead of marathon dishwashing, I persevere.  Once in a blue moon I come across a meal that is both delicious and quick and satisfies that end-o-the day big time hunger.  The blue moon shone on me this week, and I have a new favorite weeknight go-to dish. « Read the rest of this entry »

Pot Roast with a Secret

December 6, 2011 § 6 Comments

This delicious recipe has a secret – an ingredient that often hides in the shadows.  It is rare that you see this little treasure highlighted on a menu, or boasted about in the description of a dish.  Hey, it’s ok.  It’s not a show boat.  It’s not in the game for glory.  All it wants to do is lend a little something to each and every dish it takes part in.  A savory little something, a note of mystery, depth.  It has never demanded credit.  But today I’m calling it out.  I love you, Anchovies.  And I want to thank you for making this the best gosh-darned pot roast I’ve ever eaten.

There you are.  I will admit, your container makes a prettier picture than your fillets.

When I encountered this recipe for Boeuf a la Mode by Dorie Greenspan, she had me at the word ‘anchovies’.  I love these little fish, not so much whole, but as an ingredient in sauce or dressing.  Add them to anything and the description of the flavor profile becomes ‘Robust’.  I’ve made a few slight changes to this recipe, but it’s mostly Dorie’s typical genius.  The beef is much more akin to short ribs than any pot roast I’ve had in the past.

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Garlic Roasted on an Open Fire

December 1, 2011 § 2 Comments

Sunday morning we were sitting around, wondering how to fill the final day of our long weekend.  We love each other, but as I’ve mentioned, our house is small.  I was looking through my new favorite cookbook, Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater.  His recipes are beautiful and simple, and he describes his meals with gorgeous prose and just enough snark.  I was inspired by a passage where he went ‘to market’ with no shopping list, just a vague idea he would like something to go with the paper-thin slices of French ham in his fridge.  The resulting lunch: Celeriac and Walnut Remoulade with Bayonne Ham, Slices of Grilled Black Pudding, Pan-Fried Apple and Triangles of Crisply Fried Bread with A Simple Salad of Frisee with Lemon and Oil, and Old-Fashioned Cake.  Well. That’s lovely, Nigel.  I said to my husband: “Let’s go to the farmer’s market with only a vague idea that we would like to cook our family dinner and see what happens!!” So we did.

Several hours later, soaking wet and chilled to the bone we were back home with a small fortune worth of Ballard Farmers Market goods, plus two toys purchased at Clover as bribes to keep our children cooperative.  I went to the kitchen and waited for The Muse to tell me what to make for dinner.  My husband went to the living room to start a fire to stave off pneumonia. « Read the rest of this entry »

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