Recently in Cooking from the Cupboard Category
On Tuesday, June 7 at 6:30-9:30 PM I will be teaching a cooking class at Let’s Get Cookin’ in Westlake Village where I will demonstrate 5 dishes from my book, Weeknight Fresh and Fast. I plan to offer lots of tips for putting together fresh, tasty, and healthful meals after a busy day at work.
During the many years I was the food editor for Bon Appetit magazine, I worked long hours, but wanted to eat well at home. I developed tactics for cooking quick and fresh food, inspired by my weekly visits to farmers’ markets. My book is filled with entrees featuring lots of veggies, and most make a complete meal.
I took my young friend Rebecca to Huckleberry Café in Santa Monica for brunch, and we couldn’t resist 2 items on the menu: the poached eggs smothered in a savory lentil and chard ragout, and fried eggs sitting atop quinoa tossed with market vegetables. Not wanting to waste a drop of the lentil stew, we spooned the last bits over the remaining quinoa, and the mixture was a winner. Rebecca, who is attending culinary school, was curious about what gave the lentil ragout its rich flavors, and we decided to try to recreate the recipe together.
I am a big fan of both quinoa and legumes as satisfying, gluten-free staples. Because of their complex tastes, intriguing textures, and superior nutritional values they make unexpected but excellent accompaniments to eggs. Quinoa creates a toothsome base for fried or poached eggs, and poached eggs nestled in legume stews have become a favorite Sunday breakfast.
This quick and easy gluten-free breakfast recipe is also satisfying for dinner. I like to make it at the end of a busy day when I don’t have time to shop or plan and don’t have much energy left for cooking. The polenta cooks to steaming creaminess in the microwave while I melt a heap of greens until almost tender and then fry eggs in the same skillet until crispy on the edges. For a burst of freshness, serve it with a zesty salsa fresca—herbs and shallot mixed with olive oil.
When I am not creating a specific recipe for a book, magazine article, or blog post at lunchtime, I want to eat something that takes only a few minutes to prepare and is as satisfying as a sandwich. Corn tortillas have become a favorite replacement for bread, especially as the base for quick tacos.
I discovered there are as many fillings for tacos as for sandwiches on a scouting trip to Oaxaca, Mexico for Bon Appetit magazine about 11 years ago. That was my first introduction to authentic Mexican food, and my cooking was changed forever as I fell in love with the zesty complex flavors of the moles, soups, fresh and dried chiles, and endless dishes made with corn tortillas. Little did I know then that corn tortillas would become a staple in my home when I segued to a gluten-free diet.
When the cool wind started roaring around our new hilltop home last week, I got out a heavy saucepan, and stirred up a batch of herb-scented polenta to warm us up. The simmering potion took the chill off the house too.
I keep a package of Bob’s Red Mill medium grind cornmeal (available at many grocery stores) in the cupboard at all times; that along with other staples- a bit of onion, scallion or shallot, a handful of fresh herbs, and a little grated cheese, are all the ingredients needed to transform cornmeal into a creamy polenta.
There is one step in the preparation that requires attention- adding the grains of corn to the boiling liquid in such a way as to avoid clumps. The technique is simple: scoop up about ¼ cup of the cornmeal at a time, and sprinkle it from the measuring cup into the bubbling water, whisking all the time.
The cold, windy weekend weather drove me into the kitchen to bake something comforting. In less than 15 minutes I had mixed together a cornbread batter, and in 10 more minutes enticing aromas accompanied the welcome heat radiating from the oven. It was only minutes longer and a golden, crusty loaf was ready to serve with the maple-molasses butter I had whipped together.
The bread is sweetened with maple syrup and flavored with sage leaves. Whole grain cornmeal offers crunch, and buttermilk imparts tenderness. This recipe makes a reliable starting point, but I have fun changing it around. For a healthier version, I replace the butter with light olive oil or vegetable oil, and use whole wheat flour rather than all purpose. Sometimes I season it with rosemary instead of sage, or use honey as an alternative to maple syrup. I have added generous quantities of freshly ground black pepper, and folded in corn kernels.
Why, you might ask, is there an olive sprig in this photo? Extra-virgin olive oil is the first of two unique ingredients in these intense, dark chocolate brownies. Not something normally associated with desserts, but the oil’s depth of flavor accentuates the chocolate, and the results are less cloying than treats made with butter. These brownies are worthy of serving to a Valentine (and the preparation is easy).
There is a big storm due in Los Angeles tonight, and I have the perfect recipe to keep you warm; it worked for us during the last downpour. This soup is so thick and comforting, you could call it a stew or even pasta fagioli.
I took the summer off from blogging to move. Steve and I had felt cramped in a small house along with 3 cats, my growing collection of kitchen props, and the expanding photo equipment we need for this blog and our work with the Monterey Bay Aquarium. With falling real estate prices, we could now afford a house with separate offices for each of us, space for the large oval dining table we inherited from Steve’s mom, and a nice big kitchen.
It was hot last Thursday, and I was tired after spending the day setting up my office and didn’t feel very creative. Hence, I fell back on an old favorite recipe for dinner: Spaghetti Carbonara
with Greens. It is such a favorite; I put it in my book, Weeknight Fresh and Fast
I love this dish because the egg and Parmesan cheese sauce is creamy and soothing. Also, it takes only minutes to prepare. But perhaps the main reason I make it over and over is that it never requires a trip to the market; it uses ingredients I always have on hand- farm fresh eggs, pasta, and cheese.
A day or two after the big deal meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing, we crave something lighter and more casual, and these turkey tacos have become a once-a-year tradition. Because they rely on leftovers, they are easy to put together.
I’m not talking about wrapping up turkey and gravy in tortillas, these are distinctive and brightly flavored. Quick cranberry salsa is the surprise here. I discovered that stirring fresh lime juice, minced chili, and cilantro into almost any leftover cranberry sauce turns it into an excellent relish for the tacos. The sweeter the cranberry sauce, the more lime juice I mix in. Of course, if you made my Cranberry Relish with Orange, Lime, and Mint
you won’t need to mess with it at all, you are all set.
Here’s an easy, robust, and even healthful gluten-free chili to make any evening you’re tight on time. I came up with it right after we returned from a few days of glorious, but very cold, hiking in Yosemite. I was busy catching up after our trip, and didn’t have time to get to a grocery store, so I trolled my cupboard and refrigerator to make dinner.