Can you bring that bean salad?

August 11, 2010

Mixed Bean Salad with Sundried Tomatoes

I’m sorta sick of this bean salad, but I’m taking that as a good sign because I received more requests for this side dish than any other this cookout season. So apparently I am very skilled at opening five cans of beans and tossing them with sliced sundried tomatoes, slivered red onions, fresh basil and a super simple vinaigrette. Wish I could boast that this oft-requested recipe was extremely complicated and required some advanced cooking skills, but that would be a complete and utter lie. I can’t lie. I turn red and cry. Plus, complicated food is not really my style.
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Summer worthy soup

August 4, 2010

Smokey Roasted Tomato Soup with Chipotle

A perk (in my opinion, others might call it a sacrifice) of living in the Midwest is having four true seasons. From the bitter, snowy winters to the green, rainy springs to the balmy, humid summers to the golden, crisp falls and back again, we see it all. I’m grateful for this because, frankly, I quickly become impatient and am easily bored. With the weather, anyways. Take right this minute for example. Summer. It’s been here, officially, for 45 days. So we have, officially, 49 more days to go. (This involved some “research” and apparently there is some dispute about the length of Summer. Some say 91 days, others 94, 104 or 500. We’re going with 94 today.) The majority would celebrate this and the fact that for at least 49 more days, cookouts, zucchini and frozen pies are still “in season”. As I write this I’m feeling more and more guilty about wanting to haul my box of sweaters out of storage, and about the stack of roasted, stewed and braised recipes I’ve been printing and hoarding since early July. Instead of yearning for the next season, I should be living in the moment, reminding myself that in less than four months I will likely be donning galoshes and mittens and five tons of clothes and cursing this post. So until then, I’ll compromise. I’ll eat fall/winter fare in the dead of Summer, because I’m sweating anyways. But I’ll meet Summer halfway because that’s only fair. Taking advantage of the most fantastic crop of the season, the tomato, seems like a pretty sweet deal.
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Spiced Lamb Sliders

July 26, 2010

Spiced Lamb Sliders with Tahini Yogurt Sauce

I’m not a huge red meat lover. Aside from the occasional fillet or burger, I’m content to forget about beef. But lamb. Oy. It makes me swoon. And drats, I’m not the only one, it seems. Last year I could count on finding a decent stock of ground lamb or lamb shoulder at my local grocery. Nowadays I’m engaging in purse battles with Neighbor Nelly over the last lingering loin. It’s become somewhat of a hot commodity. Who told you it was so good?

I already gave you the run down on this lamb ragu, forever ago in March. And since, there’s been hearty lamb stew and fall off the bone lamb shoulder and ack! no photos to prove it. But believe me when I tell you they happened and they were glorious and ack! no photos to prove it. I can only test Kyle’s growling stomach for so long. At times I think he’d like to chuck my camera against a wall. Plus, not everything makes for pretty pictures. So yeah, hearty lamb stew and fall of the bone lamb shoulder, both of which resembled…I digress.
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Tian therapy

July 14, 2010

Summer Squash Tian

We have a tiny kitchen with, I’d estimate, no more than five square feet of workable counter space. On the positive, it’s a charming space, with 1930′s black and white tile walls and white cabinets. But a cook’s kitchen it’s not, which is why I’m grateful for the small breakfast nook adjoining the kitchen to the dining room. It’s here, in this mere eight by six foot space, where the majority of the real work happens. The chopping, the assembling, the serving. It’s my favorite room in the house, hands down. In it stands our chair-less “breakfast table”, beneath which sit three large baskets to house pots and cooking utensils that I can’t seem to cram into our sparse cabinet space no matter how Martha-Stewart-organized I try to be. It’s a sanctuary, of sorts. A space meant for one. This is where Kyle usually finds me upon arriving home from work, flitting back and forth from nook to stove, nook to fridge. It’s the space I find myself standing, balancing on my left leg, right foot propped up on my left calf, hip leaning against the table, after sitting all day at my desk. Chopping and dicing. Cooking therapy. In front of my work table (the walnut stained table you see in the majority of my photos) is a western facing window. Most evenings this assures some form of daylight is streaming through, illuminating the room and the food in front of me. Even after a long workday, I am not filled with dread at the thought of making dinner (most days, anyways). Rather I am content to stand in a silent house, save the sound of sizzling onions and garlic in the kitchen, setting sun before me, slicing summer squash and potatoes into thin coins, arranging them into a tian.
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Citrus Cornmeal Cake

June 15, 2010

Citrus Cornmeal Cake with Blueberry Sauce

I waivered on this recipe. A cornmeal cake? That’s not really my thing. The desserts that emerge from my kitchen are typically of the chocolate variety or involve frosting, or at the least call for butter. (I maintain a mostly healthy kitchen, after all, and wouldn’t have it any other way.) This cake is unconventional by those sweets standards. No chocolate, no frosting, no lick of butter in sight. And I’m happy to report it wasn’t missed. At all, really. 

It all started with the bag of cornmeal I purchased in preparation for a healthier onion ring (oh yes) recipe that remains to be tested. (I have high hopes, friends.) That bag of cornmeal got me thinking about cornbread. And cornbread got me thinking about a big steaming pot of chili. And visions of chili conjured up thoughts of autumn and then whack, back up the train, Carolyn. It’s June. I’ve resolved to save cornbread and chili for fall, but this cake satisfied those cravings. It’s sweet enough for a light summer dessert but works just as well for breakfast or as an afternoon pick me up. At least that’s what a little bird told me.
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