some baby turnips and a potato
When I go to the Farmers Market on Saturday mornings, I rarely have meals in mind, I just want to see what looks good and what looks good to me on that day. If I’ve been doing recipe research, I might look for specific things, but that’s not usually the case.
For example, at the Shogun Fish Company stand, the scallops looked just beautiful. We hadn’t had scallops in a good while, so I bought a pack of four, about 1/2 pound, perfect for two. At the Iacopi Farms stand, the Romano beans looked great and I still had fresh English peas, another of their specialties, from the previous week. And so on.
As a result, last week we cooked a number of “no brainer” meals. For me, those are the ones where I just go to the kitchen, get out the stuff and get it on. Sometimes there are recipes involved, but when there are, they are so adapted as to be only cue cards to the preparation.
So why do I feel compelled to write this? Or better yet, why should you slog through reading it? I have mostly written about specific, planned dishes, often new. I don’t cook or eat that way every day, but I try to eat well every meal, every day. Maybe this will give you some ideas. It has been an interesting experience for me to revisit a week’s worth of meals.
Fresh Peach and Fresh Curd Cheese
When I shop at the Market this time of year, I get two peaches and a nectarine to have for breakfasts. The peaches are very perishable, especially this late in the season, so I ate one on Sunday and had one today. Today’s peach was huge, so after peeling, I put half in the fridge for Tuesday. My favorite accompaniment is fresh curd cheese from Spring Hill Farm.
LO Fresh Corn Chowder
Lunches tend to be leftover (LO) something or other. Carol made creamed corn last week from four ears of fresh corn. There was quite a bit left over, so I took that and plugged it into a fresh corn chowder recipe (fresh corn, grated fresh corn, potatoes, chicken broth, milk). I didn’t have any more fresh corn, so for the grated corn I processed frozen corn into what looked like corn snow. It turned out to be darned good. In any case, the leftover of that chowder was Monday’s lunch.
Pulled Pork Roast and Cole Slaw
Carol saw a recipe for Pulled Pork Roast in the Chronicle Food Section. Since Monday was Labor Day and she was home, she bought a 2 pound pork roast at Safeway and had time to make that. We have a Pulled Pork recipe from son Eric that he made when living in North Carolina, but it’s always fun to try something new. She fussed at the Chronicle recipe writer for getting ingredients out of order, but it turned out well. We served it over ciabatta toasts, with cole slaw on the side.
Peach and Fresh Curd Cheese
Same as Monday breakfast but this time I pan roasted the peach.
LO Sauerkraut with Apple and Knockwurst
Last week I made a sauerkraut dish that I love, Sauerkraut with Apples and Sausage (Knockwurst). Potatoes and turnips are in the long cooked dish, as well, so there is a nice cross section of flavors. I got the recipe from the Chronicle years ago. It makes a lot, so there are leftovers, but after a few days, it gets mushy.
Pan Roasted Scallops w/Peas and Pasta
Michael Chiarello has a wonderful recipe for Pan Stew of Scallops, Peas and Pearl Onions in his excellent Tre Vigna Cookbook. (That was his first book. He’s written many books since, and become a Food TV star, but Tre Vigna is his best.) I had those luscious scallops from the Market and fresh English peas, but I didn’t have pearl onions or dried pasta shells, so I used scallions and teeny macaroni, which worked out fine. Those scallops were big, succulent, sweet and perfectly cooked.
Nectarine and Fresh Curd Cheese
A riff on Monday and Tuesday’s breakfast.
LO Pulled Pork on Pita Bread
Equals Monday’s dinner revisited as a lunch.
Yellow Tomato Crostini and Sliced Salumi
This just sort of came together and I wrote about it.
With such a substantial appetizer, we didn’t need much of a dinner. There were these two HUGE Artichokes that had been jamming up the vegetable drawer for about two weeks. I’m not a fan of huge artichokes, but neither am I wasteful. I laid them out for Carol to cook, she’s the huge artichoke expert, I’m the baby artichoke expert. We waited an hour or so after the appetizer, made a dipping sauce of melted butter with Newman’s Own Olive Oil & Vinegar mixed in, and savored the Huge Steamed Artichokes.
LO Pulled Pork with Eggs
I’m finally out of the fruit-and-cheese-for-breakfast pattern for the week, so I got out the trusty LO Pulled Pork and laid eggs ever easy (flipped) and halved cherry tomatoes on top. Yum. I used to buy large brown eggs, but after consulting with the egg guy (he always says, “Have an eggcellent weekend.”) I switched to large pullet eggs, and couldn’t be more pleased. The pullet eggs seem to have more density.
LO Steak Bits with LO Peas & Pasta
Last week I made New York Steaks, cooked “low and slow.” What I did was heat the cast iron skillet over medium heat and started the steaks on their edges while holding them upright with tongs. After about two minutes on each edge, I cooked them very slowly for about 5 minutes on each side in their own rendered fat. This is a good, non-smoky alternative to the white hot pan seared steak. I got this idea from an article called Academy Award Winning Steaks by Bruce Cole. I warmed the LO Steak Bits with the LO Peas and Pasta (sans scallops).
Sausages, Potatoes and Beans
Remember the Fra’Mani Italian Sausages that I wrote about? I had one each of the Traditional and Hot left, so I slowly browned them. While that happened, I made tossed potatoes, steamed those Romano beans and tossed them with butter and lemon juice. Somebody once said something about fresh ingredients prepared well. This was meat â€˜n’ two, this was comfort food, this was good.
Pizza with Cornmeal Crust
I recently made Chunky Tomato Base, loosely based on a recipe from Barbara Kafka in her book Soups, A Way of Life. Melt one chopped onion in 3 tablespoons of olive oil, add 2 1/2 pounds of peeled, seeded, chopped tomatoes and cook for 20 minutes. She uses it as a soup base. I use it for any number of things that want tomatoes. After dressing the pizza crust with olive oil, I spread out the Chunky. I didn’t have mozzarella cheese and I didn’t have pepperoni. But I had Spring Hill Farms Portuguese cheese, a semi-hard, salty cheese that grated nicely. On top, I put cooked, sliced chorizo. Not traditional, but it rocked.
The last of the LO Corn Chowder
Aux Delices take out
We had both been working all day on different projects, and watched the Ohio State Buckeyes run over the so-called #2 Texas Longhorns, so as the game wound down, we looked at each other and said, “Aux Delices.” That’s a Vietnamese-French restaurant just around the corner from our flat, on Polk. They’ve been there as long as we have and were always passable and inexpensive with an easy seat on Saturday night. About 4 years ago, they changed chefs, remodeled slightly and changed the menu. Now, it’s very good, still reasonably priced and crowded most nights.
13. BANH COUN — VIETNAMESE STEAMED DUMPLINGS Steamed rice flour filled with ground pork & mushrooms.
16C. CHOW MEIN Chow Mein noodles sautéed with any choice of meat. We had the beef.
65. MUC CARI Marinated squid sautéed in our spicy curry sauce.
Egg Salad with Crackers
I like to make egg salad once in a while. I especially like to do it with fresh boiled warm eggs. On Saturday, I had time. Put the eggs in a saucepan (I like the heavy black Calphalon 2 quart). Cover the eggs with cold water and bring to a boil. When it boils, move the pan off the heat and put the lid on. Set the timer for 11 minutes. Meanwhile, I chopped a “dill spear,” some celery, and quartered some cherry tomatoes. When the bell rung, I put the eggs in ice water, and set the timer for 5 minutes. When the bell rung, I cracked and peeled, chopped the eggs (I use two) and added the eggs to the vegetables, added salt and pepper and mixed with a fork. I added just the right amount of mayo and mustard and mixed. I got out a few Triscuits to go with and ate. Yum.
LO Pizza with Cornmeal Crust
Pre-heat the toaster-oven for 5 minutes, pop in the slices for 5 minutes. Eat.
Grilled Ham Slice, Collard Greens, Boiled Potatoes
I got Collard Greens at the Mariquita Farm stand, one time only, $1 a bunch (Andy must be experimenting). I emailed Eric (four years in North Carolina) and Brian (7 years in Georgia) for their cooking suggestions.
Eric: Bill Neal has a great “greens” (of any type) recipe, which is basically to boil about two cups of water with chopped onion and chopped fat back (or fatty pork of choice) and red pepper for half an hour in a big pot, then add the cleaned and chopped greens and let them simmer forever (at least an hour — three hours isn’t bad). What you end up with is greens, plus pot licker which is valuable in its own right as a seasoning for bean soups or other soups.Brian: I always chopped celery into my greens and did ’em in the pressure cooker for about 10 minutes. Also usually put fatback (or bacon), onions and a big handful of parsley. The celery is the best thing that I found that cut the bitterness of the greens but it gets totally obliterated by the pressure cooker. Onions turn to mush too, but so what? You save a few hours of cooking (in both time and fuel).
I went with the Eric method, since I didn’t get Brian’s response until Monday. I grilled the ham slice in the grille pan, low and slow while the potatoes boiled. The potatoes were the perfect “white” taste to calm all those ham and greens flavors.
I had a bit of ham slice left over, chopped that. I had a boiled potato left over, chopped that. I chopped some celery and a dill spear (weird but good) and put all that in a skillet with butter and oil. I got out my LO Romano beans and Chunky Tomato Base, mixed and warmed that. Now, that’s good eatin’ and EZ.
Blanched Cauliflower + LO Red Bell Pepper
I separated the fresh cauliflower into flowerettes and blanched in salted water for about 3 minutes. I peeled and chopped a half red bell pepper from the infamous vegetable drawer and dressed the mixture with the last of Brianna’s Poppy Seed Dressing mixed with a little Newman’s Own Olive Oil & Vinegar dressing to stretch it. Watched the 49ers do good.
Emeril’s Portuguese Kale and Chorizo Soup
I generally make a soup on the weekend to have for lunch during the week. Carol always says, “Is that for Dinner?” I always reply, “It’s for my lunches, but if you want it for dinner, there’s plenty.” The recipe was gleaned from Becoming a Chef by Andrew Dorneaberg and Karen Page, August 1995. The recipe was credited to Emeril LaGasse of Emeril’s and NOLA, New Orleans (before TV stardom). It’s pretty simple; chorizo, onions, kale, broth, herbs and spices, but very good. The chorizo gives it a good zing. We had a chopped salad to go with.
You may wonder, who makes and eats what with whom? We have a kitchen table suitable for one, two is a squeeze. Carol fixes and eats while I’m out walking, and I fix and eat as she’s getting ready for work. I’ve never been a breakfast socializer. At lunch, I’m generally home and Carol isn’t, so we each cook for ourselves. On weekends we’re generally doing our own things, so we make our own breakfast and lunches to go with our own rhythms. Besides, she likes sandwiches and salads and I like soups and hashes.
We’ve always believed that dinner is family time, sitting down to a set table and enjoying the evening meal together. This persists, even though Eric and Brian are long gone, enjoying their own dinners in Maine and Montpellier.
Here at home, I generally cook, since I have the time and the inclination. Besides, I’ve taken on the delight of shopping, cooking and eating and writing about food. I like that.