June 7, 2010
Roasted Tomato, Olive and Fontina Pizza
I was craving margherita. Simple, bright and basil-y. Trouble is my basil’s not quite there yet and the local tomatoes are far from ripe, if they’ve even made their green appearance. So to spare myself the mealy, bland grocery store tomato imports I decided to impart big flavor on, well, mealy, bland grocery store tomato imports. This works if, like me, you’re too impatient to just wait until July and August when Ohio tomatoes make their grand and glorious debut. Roasting is the simplest way to elevate any vegetable to new and glorious…well, you know what I mean. These would make for a great twist on margharita, but I decided to shake it up a bit with some Italian fontina and green olives.
And by the way, do you have a pizza stone? No? Well get thee one, pronto. I’ve tried various pizza “pans”. Ones with holes and vents and special powers but nothing comes close to creating crispy bottoms like a stone. You can see in the photo that ours is nearly black from use. Ok, so we eat a lot of pizza.
May 11, 2010
Sweet Potato Hummus
Sweet potatoes make everything better. And orange.
I snagged this recipe out of a magazine before bothering to read the ingredient list. The title said it all.
It’s slightly sweet in a what-is-that-in-a-good-way sorta way. Think roasted red pepper hummus. But better. And crazy good for you. This totally opens a zillion doors. Next up, peas! And beets! And turnips, oh my! You know you’re a vegetable addict when…
May 4, 2010
Swiss Chard Pesto
Last year I made the mistake of setting a potted basil plant outside in early April. It must have been deceivingly warm and for whatever reason I was convinced we wouldn’t see the likes of frost until, oh, October. I’m sure this has nothing to do with the fact that I’m terribly impatient. The toaster isn’t fast enough. Needless to say that basil plant had to be nurtured back to life indoors. Lessons learned. One, don’t fall for Ohio’s Spring teasers and two, wait until at least the middle of May to move herbs outdoors. I can hardly wait for overflowing, rampant, what-the-heck-am-I-to-do-with-all-this? basil plants. Because then there is no excuse not to make pesto.
I’m certain most of you know pesto is not limited to fistfuls of basil leaves. All sorts of other lovely green things can take its place. Bright herbs like parsley and cilantro are a shoo-in. As are greens like spinach and kale and swiss chard, which are perfect for pre-out of control basil season. Not to mention all of the nutritional perks these dark green leaves pack. They make for a veritable superpesto.
April 28, 2010
Spring Vegetable and Wild Rice Soup
I bought leeks, green beans and asparagus for a recipe I’ve had brewing in the back of my head for the last couple of weeks. I had good intentions Monday. No after work plans. I’d attempt this culinary brainchild. But Monday brought with it a case of the Mondays. Driving home from work, my good intentions began to fade. I could feel the early symptoms of cushion syndrome creeping in. It begins with reasoning that it’s too windy for a run, followed by determining that you most certainly have enough clean underwear to get you through the week, thus doing laundry is not necessary, and convincing yourself the fresh vegetables you just bought will likely last until Thursday, your next open weeknight. Then full blown cushion syndrome presents itself as follows: You walk in the house, set down your keys, drop your shoulder bag, slide off your shoes and make a beeline for the couch cushions. All bets are off at this point. No run. No housework. No cooking, for sure.
And so it happened this past Monday. My tush found its way to the cush. Then the voices started. (I know, right! Cushion syndrome and voices? What a Monday, indeed!) The guilt voices. The ones that pointed out dust on the coffee table and the dishwasher full of clean dishes. The voices that convinced me I really should do a load of whites to save me from having to wear hole-y underwear. And the voices that asked why I didn’t just jump on the treadmill if it was so windy outside. That did it. I made my way to the kitchen. Productive procrastination. I’d cook. Then I’d be doing something without doing what I should really be doing. Hey, everyone needs to eat! It all makes sense in my mind. But the thought of experimenting with a new recipe did not appeal in the slightest. Instead, I turned all of those fresh vegetables into this soup. It was next to mindless but promised something comforting, a sure treatment for the Mondays. Soup never disappoints.
April 21, 2010
Roasted Red Onions with Honey Balsamic Reduction
Sometimes, when I’m cooking alone in an empty house, I talk to myself. Well, I talk to my make-believe audience. I pretend I’m taping a segment of my cooking show. (Is this weird? It’s weird, isn’t it?) My cooking show that exists in a lot of daydreams. And nightmares, actually, namely the one where I’m on the Today Show leading a healthy cooking demo and Al Roker keeps firing questions about my supposed secret fried chicken recipe, I don’t like my outfit and the anchors keep forgetting my name.
Anyways, back to my happy fictitious cooking show. Yes, I carry on a conversation with the invisible camera, describing the ingredients as I chop and stir, making sure not to pause too long because dead air does not make for good TV. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with my solo cooking demos (except I’m wondering if I should really be disclosing this to the world wide web — too late), though I’ve noticed a couple things. One is I tend to whisper, even in an empty house, as if the neighbors will hear and know I’m home alone, talking to myself. Plus, I realize I don’t really like the sound of my voice. Like when you hear a recording of yourself and cringe? And two, I channel Ina Garten. I say things like how easy is that? and fabulous! and how bad can that be? Or I’ll insist on using really good vanilla and really fresh eggs. Am I being brainwashed by Food Network?
So when I was preparing this recipe, I kept hearing Ina in my head. While slicing the onions, I really love red onions. They’re a bit sweeter than yellow onions. [Take a nibble.] Mmm, such great flavor. While tucking them into the oven to roast, These will roast in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes covered, then I’ll remove the foil and allow them to roast for 20 minutes more. They’ll become caramelized and wonderful. How bad can that be? While preparing the reduction, It’s important to use really good balsamic vinegar here. Anytime you use just a handful of ingredients you want to make sure they’re really good quality. Makes all the difference. Oh, I think I hear Jeffrey! I mean Kyle, I think I hear Kyle!