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Friday, April 23, 2010

Tortilla Soup with summer squash

I have just returned from Southern California and I have Mexican food on the mind. Nothing to remind you how far from the border Boston is like eating authentic Mexican food in a place much, much closer. Southern California is littered with hole-in-the-wall taco joints, hiding behind nondescript facades in strip malls and street corners, some even have drive-throughs. A taco or enchilada at one of these unimpressive looking eateries is bound to outshine that of a well known chain or east coast hotspot.

While in Southern California, I didn't get many chances to eat the Mexican food seducing me from freeway roadsides, rather as I was visiting family we were almost always full from eating homemade comfort food including my Great Aunt Lois's biscuits and gravy, grilled sausage and corn on the cobb, fresh-from-the-chicken-coop egg scrambles, cornbread, cooked chard and beans. All of this was wonderful, and certainly soulful food, and perhaps at a later date I will post more specifically about some of these foods, and maybe try and create some myself. But today I am craving some spicy Mexican food. It seems one place where these food traditions meet- comfort food, Mexican flavors and southwest traditions, is represented well by an easy but flavorful dish- Tortilla Soup.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Sunday Night Dinner Party

Last night I had the pleasure of hosting several of my friends for a dinner party. Spring has sprung, everything is in bloom, and I can't help feeling a little extra optimism this time of year. Maybe that is part of why I thought cooking for 12, when I have hardly ever even cooked for 4, would be an easy and relaxing way to spend a Sunday afternoon, which also happens to be my only day off this week. I have to say, though, for all the stress earlier in the day, and all the repetitive tasks (like trimming fat from 20 chicken thighs, and peeling 60 cloves of garlic) by the end of the night it felt worth it. It is wonderful to share good food with good company, and last night that is just what I got to do.

The menu for the night:

Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic
Rosemary roasted new potatoes
mixed greens with edamame, almonds and herb vinaigrette
Roasted asparagus with balasamico
fresh locally made bread

Monday, April 5, 2010

Plantain-coconut cookies

I first started toying with this cookie recipe a few weeks ago, on a cold day in late march. The furnace in my building had been broken for over a week, and a final day in the 20s was enough to render my usually too warm apartment freezing. My roommates and I bundled in our sweaters and blankets, waiting for the oil company man to arrive. We ended up turning on the oven in an effort to warm up the house a bit. I decided at that moment: wouldn't it be better if we were slowly warming up with the oven on, and there were cookies? Yes. Of course. So I went out in search of interesting ingredients to bake into cookies. The following recipe is not exactly what I made that day, the first batch was a bit too cakey, and seemed to be missing something...This is a reworked version, adding honey and nutmeg to my original recipe, and reducing the flour and white sugar drastically, which I baked up yesterday, one of the warmest days so far this spring.

These cookies are sweet but not too sweet. Oats, chocolate chips, plantain, coconut, walnuts and nutmeg come together to create a wholesome cookie that tastes quite a bit like banana bread. These cookies are crispy at the edges and remain very soft inside.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Toast &Omelets and my super 88 adventure

My all time favorite weekday dinner is a good breakfast. Breakfast foods are (for the most part) simple to cook, incredibly tasty, and appropriate to serve with toast, my all time favorite side dish. Today I made a simple omelet with leftover roasted asparagus and goat cheese. I topped it with arugula, as my arugula needs to be used up, or will end up in the trash. Of course, on the side....a nice piece of toast. No recipe needed, I am afraid to say, so instead, I will regale you with stories of my recent trip to Super 88.

Danielle's $2 tuna

First off, I like this dish because I like alliteration. Two-dollar tuna. It's those t's that get me. I have spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to think of a perfect 3rd t-word to stick in there. Unfortunately the only t-words that come to me are entirely unrelated to this dish. Oh well, I am sure one will strike me next week, and I may go as far as to edit this post to stick that final t-word in its place...

The other night while I was busying myself with cauliflower and such, my roommate Danielle was also cooking in our kitchen, making a large batch of a tuna pasta salad of her invention to be eaten for a handful of lunches or dinners. After agreeing to be featured in a blog post,Danielle made not a single complaint as I buzzed around her taking pictures. When I said "wait, stop chopping, your hand looks blurry...just pretend to chop for a bit!" she did so without so much as an annoyed glance in my direction. Now there is a good sport, right? Well, she even agreed to photograph my process as I went on to cook dinner myself (the photographs of this entry should be credited to her), and above all of that, she allowed me to share the bottle of wine she had bought. Excellent. After all of this, she certainly deserves a glowing endorsement.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Weekday dinner (out)


I loved the sweet spring time color pallet of this vegetarian sushi I had last night at Yasu in Brookline. Clockwise from left: Sweet Potato, Avocado &  Cucumber, Pickled Radish. I think I am gonna need to try and make my own vegetarian sushi sometime soon, I even noticed a sushi rolling mat and other accessories hanging out in the pantry...must belong to one of my roommates.

Happy April everyone! It's looking pretty dreary out right now, but as usual, I am optimistic. Looking forward to a few posts I have coming up, keep an eye out for: "Danielle's $2 Tuna", "Oatmeal Coconut Cookies with Walnuts & Plantain", And "Mai's Vietnamese Chicken Wings: Advice on using fish sauce from a real live Asian person"


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