On March 7, the Capital Weather Gang – the coolest (ha!) gang around – declared winter in DC to be officially over.
The CWG is a really big deal around here. Like when they say tomorrow is a Four Domes day (– that’s four Capitol domes to you, non-DC native) – you KNOW you’re sleeping in late tomorrow, and at the very best, you’ll be “teleworking.” Hello, federal government.
So when they said winter was over, and spring was here, and that there’d be no more snow, and that only sunshine and puppies and rainbows were ahead, we BELIEVED them. The whole CITY believed them. There were discounts at coffee shops and consignment stores to celebrate the arrival of spring.
In other words, I live in Washington, DC, ok? I shouldn’t be waddling to work in my down coat on April 13th. CWG, next time, knock on wood when you make declarative statements like “pronouncing winter over now is really, really safe.”
The only saving grace is that it’s totally acceptable to make really heavy, spicy, ridiculously easy winter curries in our crock pot.
Slow Cooked Chicken Coconut Curry
1-2 pounds chicken breasts, cut into cubes
2-3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 can coconut milk (light is fine)
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons sambal oelek
1 big handful curry powder
pinch red pepper flakes
a big pinch salt
1 big pinch pepper
1 red bell pepper, chopped
optional – chopped jalapeno (*note – between the sambal oelek and the red pepper flakes, this dish is one hot wollop of a dish)
2-3 tablespoons cornstarch
cooked basmati rice
Put all ingredients from chicken through black pepper in the crock pot and give it a good stir. Cover and cook on low for four hours.
At the four hour mark, add the bell pepper and cook for about 20 minutes. Add a bit of cornstarch to thicken up the mixture and cook another 10 minutes or so (don’t let your bell peppers get soggy).
Serve with rice and your desired toppings. Keep some milk/water nearby because it will light your mouth on fire (in a good way).
Plentiful, spicy-ful, ridiculously easy, and definitely good for making you think about warmer climates, where there are no down coats and no domes looming in your future.
It’s been almost exactly two months since I last posted. I’ve read lots of blogs where people talk about taking a break or needing some fresh ideas, or going on some crazy, awesome trip, but the truth is, I just ran out of time. And if I want to be even more honest, I ran out of energy.
The last two months have been among the two craziest & change-filled months of my life. There have been some incredible highs – my best friend getting married, for one – and some low lows. Suffice to say, you want to put your best foot out on the interwebs, and I’ve been missing my fancy footwear.
And clearly, a LOT has happened. The weather has changed, for one, and I’m back to taking pictures of food in the dark. A favorite blogger is now vegetarian. Eater published the best-ever interview of Ina Garten and it made me love her even more, if that’s possible. Tom Brady (continued to) earn my eternal love and respect through sheer domination on my fantasy squad, and then left me hopelessly baffled and saddened through his “non-endorsement” endorsement of Donald Trump. No words.
AND – it’s been over a year since I started this blog. Going forward, I’m hoping to start posting regularly again, if not a little less frequently, due to a job change and less time to experiment in the kitchen.
So now, in honor of my vegetarian friend who sent me nice little notes during my period of absentia (thank you!!), I bring you the following, from A Modern Way to Eat.
Kale & Sesame “Sushi” Bowl
2 cups brown rice
1-2 cups frozen endamame (sans pods)
1 pomegranate (you’re really just after the seeds, so feel free to buy pre-seeded)
dash sesame oil
2 big handfuls shredded kale or other crunchy, leafy green, stalks removed
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
optional: 1 egg (poached)
for the dressing:
zest and juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons soy sauce
dash rice vinegar
Cook your rice according to package directions (ain’t no shame in the minute style).
Heat the endamame through, either in the microwave or by putting them in a bowl and covering with boiling water.
De-seed your pomegranate, as needed – instructions here.
Heat a saute pan over medium heat, add a splash of sesame oil and saute the greens until a bit wilted, above 3-4 minutes. Keep warm.
Make your dressing by whisking all ingredients together. Add a bit of the pomegranate juice, if you have any from the de-seeding process.
Pour the dressing over the warm rice, add the sesame seeds and give the mixture a toss. Add the rest of your salad ingredients and top with avocado and cilantro…and if you’re feeling good about it, a poached egg. Add dressing as needed.
Not really a recipe? I understand your point. Still, it feels good to be back, and it feels good to eat this. So that’s a win, in my book.
I love getting dressed up. I love drinking champagne. I love rocking out way too hard on the dance floor with the Husband. I love the many, multiple reasons to come home to Boston and see my friends.
And I love going to bridal showers hosted by my mom.
A little over a year ago, my mom called me in a panic. She’d offered to do the bridal shower for her BFF’s daughter, but now she didn’t know what that actually entailed. Food? Decor? Drinks? She was supposed to figure out GAMES!?! She asked me if it’d be appropriate to call in sick, citing European-ness. (According to my mom the German, Europeans just don’t DO showers.) She made her delicious Beef Bourgouignon, and needless to say, the shower was amazing.
Last night, my mom hosted a shower for another friend’s daughter. As we cleaned up the kitchen, she turned to me and said, “this is just the most wonderful tradition.”
Agreed, Mom. Made all the more wonderful by this lobster paella. That’s right. Lobster paella.
Lobster Paella (Recipe adapted from Ina Garten)
2-3 chopped yellow onions
2-3 red bell peppers, sliced
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups basmati rice
4 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
salt & pepper (about a teaspoon each)
1/3 cup Pernod or Ouzo
1.5-2 pounds cooked lobster meat
1 pound cooked shrimp
1 pound kielbasa, sliced
1 package frozen peas
for serving: parsley, lemon wedges
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Heat olive oil in large, ovenproof Dutch oven. Add onions and cook over medium-low heat for 5-6 minutes. Add bell peppers and cook an additional 5 minutes. Lower heat, add minced garlic and cook another minute. Stir in rice, chicken stock, saffron, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover pot and place it in the oven.
Cook in the oven for about 12 minutes, remove, stir rice gently, and return to the oven to bake uncovered for an additional 10 minutes (or until rice is fully cooked).
Remove from oven and transfer back to the stove top. Add Ouzo or Pernod and cook over medium heat until the liquid is absorbed. Turn off the heat; add lobster, shrimp, kielbasa, and peas. Cover and allow to steam through, about 10 minutes, so all of the protein heats through. Sprinkle with lemon and/or parsley and serve hot.
That was one happy bride-to-be. And for an extra bonus round, we sent guests home with peppermint patties from Chequessett Chocolate and felt mighty pleased with ourselves. (We kept the leftovers for us!)
We had a very appropriately 30-something New Year’s Eve, replete with dinner guests, champagne, a charcuterie board, and of course, a game of vodka roulette (the Husband either won or lost, depending on your point of view. The next morning, he felt he had definitely lost). Totally approp.
Our dinner party plans were a little impromptu, and with a couple of guests with dietary restrictions, it was the prefect opportunity to deploy a recipe from Plenty, one of my THREE Christmas present cookbooks. (Apparently, cookbooks are what you get for Christmas the year you start a blog. This is mostly inspiring, though a bit terrifying, as they are beyond gorgeous. And I’m not talking just the food or the photos, either. How does someone raise seven children and a gaggle of dogs and look like this?)
Vegetable Paella For Six (Yotam Ottolenghi, with a few tweaks)
1 onion, sliced
2 orange bell peppers, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and sliced
6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 carton baby Bella mushrooms
6 bay leaves
teaspoon smoked paprika
teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups rice (the recipe calls for Calasparra; I found this impossible to find and went with the medium grain Calrose instead)
12 tablespoons sherry
2 teaspoons saffron
4 cups of vegetable stock, brought to a boil
8 plum or Roma tomatoes, quartered
1 15 oz can artichoke hearts, well drained and cut into quarters
plenty of fresh parsley
If you’re serving this as a dinner party dish and want to get the timing done right, best to get your veggies prepped first. Cut up your onion, peppers, fennel, etc. and set aside. The rest of the dish takes about 45 minutes start to finish.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute about 6 minutes; add peppers and fennel and saute until they start to soften. Add garlic and mushrooms, cook an additional minute.
Boil your vegetable stock (your electric water boiler is perfect for this!)
Add bay leaf, turmeric, paprika, cayenne pepper and give the mixture a stir. Add the rice and stir it about for two minutes before adding the sherry and saffron. Let that cook off about a minute or so and then add your vegetable stock and a dash of salt (especially if you’re using low sodium broth!). Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for about 35 minutes or until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Don’t stir it.
When the rice has cooked through, taste it without disturbing it too much and adjust the seasonings. Add the tomatoes and artichokes to the top and then cover for about 10 minutes, to give a chance for the heat to gently cook them.
Serve with parsley and lemon wedges.
Fact: paella tastes better with seafood. That being said, this was very tasty rice with vegetables, and it had a pretty color, given the turmeric. No hay de que, por lo menos, ¡teníamos bastante cava!