Saturday, March 29, 2008

The 15 Day Disabled List

I won't lecture you on the inadvisability of engaging in Newcomb volleyball wearing high heels on a highly polished floor. I'll simply mention that I've tried it and allow you to draw your own conclusions from the above photo. In another 2 weeks I go back to the nice orthopedic wrist specialist, and if all my bones are properly healed, then I'll be back to cooking as usual. In the mean time, I'll be trying my best to come up with recipes that can be done one handed, and staying far away from inappropriate footwear at sporting events.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Eileen's Irish Soda Bread

There's nothing that makes me homesick for Boston like St. Patrick's Day. Okay, that's not entirely true, there's also the Red Sox, snow, and anyone speaking without using the letter R, but St. Patrick's Day is easily top 5. I mean, how can the rest of the country compete with a city that made up a holiday in order to get St. Patrick's Day off. I'm not kidding. It's called Evacuation Day and it is a recognized government holiday, schools are closed, all that. Now, while I honestly believe that the best way to honor the holiday, particularly if homesick for Boston, is to get as drunk as possible (preferably off Guinness), I can acknowledge that for those of us who a)could not start drinking at 9am today or b)have to work tomorrow, this may not be a practical choice. I suggest instead that you drown your sorrows in Eileen's Irish Soda Bread. It's just about the best soda bread I've ever tasted and so easy you could probably manage it even if you were lucky enough to start drinking this morning.

courtesy of Eileen (who I'm guessing is considerably more Irish than I am, and has no end of talent when it comes to the soda bread)

3 C unsifted flour
1/3 C sugar
3 tsp baking soda
1/4 C butter
1 1/4 C milk
1 C raisins (optional if you are anti-raisin)

Mix dry ingredients well. Cut in the butter. Mix in the raisins and add milk. With a fork, mix into a ball shape. With well floured hands knead 8-10 times. I often find the dough wet, so feel free to sprinkle a bit more flour while you're kneading. Put on a well greased cookie sheet, cut an x in the top, and bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Lentil Dilemma

Generally, I am not afraid to try new recipes. Trying new ingredients however, can be a bit more tricky. Let's take lentils. Now, I'm just trying to cook more healthy, vegetarian meals and I think, "Hey, I should make lentils!" And just like that, we have several different colors of lentils in the cupboard, and I've searched and bookmarked several promising lentil recipes, and tonight I am ready to make Red-Lentil Soup. There's just this one tiny thing. I had no idea that lentils behave exactly like clumping cat litter. So I'm going about my business, and following the directions, and reading my little lentil bag, which advises looking for pebbles amid my lentils, and rinsing them for a wholesome meal. And I rinse the amount of lentils I need. But some liquid escapes (honestly, this is a theme tonight, something escaping, you'd understand if you could see the mountain of cumin lurking under my right front burner, but I digress), and makes it's way into the section of dry lentils. Instant cat litter. So in order to salvage these lentils, I do what anyone who's had a completely horrible day at work and has just made dinner and has an immobilizing wrist splint on their dominant hand would do...I start a second pot of Red Lentil Soup. And it comes to me in a flash. I am Martha. And I should probably watch Ryan carefully to make sure we don't arrive at the point where he is pouring lentil soup into his loafers. And the kicker? I'm not even sure that I like red lentil soup.
Kitchen Stadium: Battle Lentil

Oh yeah. Also? Red lentils? Totally not red once you cook them.

RED-LENTIL SOUP as shown above. Not to be confused with Red Lentil Soup
adapted from epicurious

1 C lentils
1/2 C carrots, diced
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic minced
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
6 1/2 C vegetable broth
lemon wedges
olive oil
salt and pepper

Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a large stockpot. Add the onions and carrots and saute until soft about 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, bay leaf and thyme and cook for 1 more minute. Add the lentils and broth, 1 t salt and 1/2 t pepper. Simmer stirring occasionally until lentils are soft, about 30-45 minutes. Using an immersion blender, blend until soup is smoother, but still has some texture. Serve and squeeze a lemon wedge over each bowl.

P.S. Turns out we both like red lentil soup. Also, I bet you're still wondering about that second pot of red lentil soup. Ah, well. Tomorrow is another day.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Portobellos Stuffed with Sausage

I went through a phase about two summers ago when I became inordinately fond of stuffing portobello mushrooms. I just couldn't help myself. Turn one of those babies over, and it's just like a little dish. How can you NOT want to stuff it? And then, flightly creature that I am, I moved on. I honestly hadn't made this in over a year, but last week I found myself bringing back the stuff.

It's a better dish when tomatoes are in season, but plenty hearty to stand up to the chill of winter.


2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Juice from 1/2 Lemon
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Portabello Mushroom Caps (I got pretty big ones, maybe 2" diameter?)
1 cup chopped tomatoes (I used cherries because that's what's we can get that tastes good)
2 links turkey sausage (hot italian) - check labeling to ensure gf
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (grate your own or check labels, some pre-shredded cheese contains gluten)
parmiggiano regiano
salt and pepper

Mix together first three ingredients, along with salt and pepper, and marinate mushroom caps while preparing the rest of the dinner. Chop tomatoes, shred mozzarella, grate some parm. Slice through sausage casing and put sausage insides in a pan, cook until browned, breaking up with a wooden spoon. Turn off the heat and toss in chopped tomatoes and a bit of thyme (or whatever herb appeals to you).

In a cast-iron or on a grill, cook the mushroom caps turning over from time to time. About 4-6 minutes on each side.

If using a cast iron - transfer mushrooms cap side down to tin foil and add tomato/sausage mixture. Top with mozzarella and parm. Put under the broiler (I use the toaster oven) for 1-3 minutes.

If using a grill/grill pan - put mushrooms cap side down and add tomato/sausage mixture. Top with cheeses and either close grill lid, or cover with a tent of foil for 1-3 minutes.

Serve with crusty bread to absorb the yummy juices.


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