Sometimes it’s the little things, like Taco Tuesday on Cinco de Mayo, that really make me happy. I had other plans for dinner Tuesday, but strolling through Whole Foods with their huge displays of nachos and salsa samples, I succumbed to the power of suggestion and picked up a few taco ingredients. One thing I didn’t pick up? Taco seasoning. I love mixing my own tweak-able, MSG-free (you’d be surprised how many ingredient lists include hidden names for MSG), version. Continue reading
I used to eat a little bit of salad every once in a while, but then I met Geoff, my husband. He introduced me to the joy of eating large salads every day. And he has two salad rules he lives by: 1) A salad is more than just lettuce and dressing, and 2) Dressing does not come from a bottle. It took me a while to adapt to his rules, and I hate being bossed around in the kitchen, but I can honestly say my salads are much better now than they were before. And healthier too!
Oh, congee. How I love congee. Congee (or jook, a Chinese rice porridge) is one of those dishes that I never knew existed until I moved to St. Louis for college and became a regular at a “real” Chinese food restaurant. Then in New York, Geoff and I had our favorite place to order congee in Chinatown (Big Wong King) where I discovered that it’s traditional to dip sweet (ngau lei sou) and savory (youtiao) fried dough (Chinese doughnuts!) into steaming bowls of congee. Heaven. So, so, so good.
Geoff, of course, has a whole different relationship with congee. He grew up eating excellent congee, both homemade and at amazing Toronto Chinese food restaurants (Congee Queen is one of his family’s long-time favorites). And it’s the dish that his mother would make whenever he was feeling under-the-weather — a warm, comforting, gentle-on-the-tummy porridge, Chinese comfort food at it’s best.
Traditionally, Geoff is the congee cooker in our family. He has several shortcut methods: 1) A pressure cooker version that makes a mess, and 2) A frozen rice version that takes some planning ahead. But when Geoff wasn’t feeling well last weekend, it was up to me to make him a batch of congee. Continue reading
I don’t know why this vegetarian chili recipe from the January 2003 issue of Bon Appétit magazine caught my attention, but I do remember making it right away for a Super Bowl party at my aunt and uncle’s house. I was a senior at Wash U, I thought maybe I wanted to be a chef, I was totally addicted to food magazines and espresso drinks, and I had never tasted polenta. Oh, and I made this chili for a group of enthusiastic meat eaters (myself included). I think it went over surprisingly well…or at least I remember being pretty impressed.
Since then I’ve made it over and over again, partly because it’s so darn easy and also healthy, but mostly because I really, really love it. Something about the cumin with the black beans and the spice all make perfect chili magic. You can make it with or without the espresso, make it as spicy or as mild as you like, serve it with all the toppings or by itself, and it’s always delicious.
The very best thing about this chili? I found out this week that Zoe loves it. Yes, score one for “mom meals”! I set a small saucepan on a separate burner while I was mixing this up and made her batch without any chili, espresso (heavens, I can’t even imagine!), and less salt. I pureed it a bit when it was cooked, and she gobbled it all down. Continue reading
I love stuffing (or “dressing,” as it’s technically called when cooked outside of a bird). It’s like a savory bread pudding, moist and tender on the inside with a crunchy, buttery top and nuggets of flavor tucked within. This time of year, when I’m flipping through turkey-focused food magazines and debating what recipes are going to make it onto my Thanksgiving menu, I always make a stuffing or two for weeknight dinners. Served with a big salad, or better yet, a roast chicken and a salad, it’s like having a mini-Thanksgiving starring my favorite dish. Devine!
There’s nothing like a big bowl of herbs, mixed with tangy gherkins and salty capers, to make you feel like summer is here. G has made this salsa verde for me for years, an old-school Jamie Oliver stand-by from The Naked Chef (Jamie’s first cookbook and G’s favorite). You really can’t go wrong with this salsa, whether you’re serving it with steak, chicken, fish, or veggies — it makes anything and everything on your dinner plate pop with fantastic flavor. Continue reading
Mmmm, curry. . . I’m pretty sure I have a curry addiction. Sometimes I just crave it, and then, nothing satisfies me more than reaching deep into my spice cabinet for mustard seeds, turmeric and fenugreek seeds, and whipping up homemade Indian food like a pro. And recently, I was thrilled to discover a local Asian market that carries fresh curry leaves. There’s nothing better!