February 27, 2013

farro salad soup

farro salad soup

Today I came home from class craving soup.

No soup in the fridge. No soup in the freezer. No soup in cans. No cup of noodles even, it was at work.

What to do??? In situations like these I tend to pace about from pantry to fridge, fridge to pantry, in hope for some vain substitute. It rarely ever works.

Cris had brought over some farro salad he made earlier today. I'm not sure if I've ever eaten farro (it's like twins with barley, and I guess I've eaten that). Anyway. It was sitting in my fridge. I stared at it, willing it to be soup.

Then I thought - why not turn it into soup???

I couldn't even wait to thaw out some turkey stock from the fridge. I took some water, spooned some chicken base into it, dumped the farro salad in (farro, lamb, olives, carrots, cucumber, apple), then brought the mixture to a boil. While it simmered, I drizzled a little cornstarch slurry to thicken. A few minutes later I poured it into a bowl, dropped in some parsley leaves, and I had soup.

There's nothing like satisfying a craving.

turkey patties

Since I mentioned turkey burgers in my previous Cooking Matters post, I had to make them for y'all.

turkey patty ingredients

Started with 1.25 lb of ground turkey, 1 egg white, 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup of chopped parsley, 1/4 cup of finely diced onion, a couple cloves of minced garlic, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.

turkey patties formed

Mixed everything by hand and formed little palm-sized patties.

turkey patties seared

In a hot pan with oil, I laid the patties down. Flipped them over once they browned. Then covered the pan with a lid so the insides would cook. A few minutes later they were done! (The egg whites help in this case because you'll see the little cooked bits starting to seep out.)

turkey patties

And behold, one of the best food photos I've taken as of late.

turkey patties & quinoa

I ate the patties atop some quinoa pilaf (dried cranberries, feta cheese, crushed almonds, minced parsley and orange zest). The patties are just the right amount of meaty. I think ground turkey might just become my protein of choice!

garlic parmesan parsley fries

parsley garlic parmesean fries

One day after work I was craving fries, so I stopped by the local grease burger drive-up joint and ordered a bag of fries. They came piping hot, like presents I all too eagerly unwrapped into a soon-to-be scalding mouth.

Rather than go through the entire bag like that, I decided to jazz up the fries by sauteeing some minced garlic and parsley together with the fries, then sprinkling some pre-packaged parmesan cheese on top.

For dipping, I had the joint-requested ranch along with some sriracha ketchup I whipped up. Deeelicious. Nothing like satisfying a craving.

February 22, 2013

cooking matters

For the past six weeks I've been volunteering with an organization called Three Squares - so named for their belief that everyone should have three square meals a day.

A cornerstone of the work they do is teaching Cooking Matters classes in community centers all over the Bay Area. They have classes for children, teens, adults, and some are even in Spanish!

I volunteered to be the Chef Instructor for one of their teen classes. The goal was to teach healthy cooking and eating. And I have to admit, I learned quite a few things myself, including some healthy delicious recipes that are now part of my repertoire. They include the baked flaked chicken pictured above (paired with baked kale) as well as turkey burgers (like these) and pita pizzas (like these).

It was challenging teaching to teens with busy schedules - a lot of the students didn't attend regularly or had to leave early. Many of them had trouble sitting still and letting others talk without interruption. But when it came to cooking they generally became very focused. Hands-on learning was a big hit, and luckily for me that was the portion I taught.

In one of the classes I taught the teens how to make brown rice & veggie sushi. Two of the students had never even tasted sushi before. They each made their own roll and ate it with dipping sauce (soy sauce + vinegar), and all seemed to like it. It was very gratifying for me to have introduced them to something new.

Of course, I would encourage you to volunteer!

February 18, 2013

buttermilk mac & cheese

This recipe started out with a surplus of buttermilk. I'd originally purchased some to use for cornbread (something that didn't make it onto this blog because I've yet to find a recipe for my ideal cornbread, which is cake-like yet robust and just slightly sweet) but there was a lot leftover.

So when I was hankering for some mac & cheese it occurred to me that I needn't resign myself to Organic Annie's box but that I could Google buttermilk mac and cheese for ideas. This came up and looked delicious.

Started with a roux of 2 Tb butter and 2 Tb flour. I let the butter go a little too long, so it got browned (but all the better for flavor it turns out). To the browned butter dark roux I added 1 1/2 cups of grated sharp cheddar cheese and 1 cup buttermilk.

Then, in went the cooked Annie's macaroni shells (6 oz), 1 cup ground turkey sauteed with garlic, 1/2 cup diced tomato, a sprinkle of sliced scallion, and salt and pepper to taste.

mac n cheese casserole

I poured the cooked mixture into one of those giant ramekin-like souffle dishes. On top I sprinkled another 1/2 cup of cheddar, 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs and some herbs and cayenne. This was covered with aluminum foil and baked in a 350F oven for about 20 minutes. For the last couple of minutes I actually took the foil off so the crust could brown some and get more crust-like.

mac n cheese dinner

It turned out even better than I had hoped. Cheesy crust, gooey savory oh-so-comforting inside - with some sauteed mushrooms and green beans to go alongside. I'm going to be making this one again and it might even make it into the cookbook!

vegetable quiche

Since graduating culinary school I have been cooking at home. Some of it's stuff I photographed and meant to put up, except the recipe didn't turn out right or I didn't like how the results tasted, so nothing's come up here yet.

Never fear, however. I will continue blogging sporadically while I attempt to write my very own culinaryme cookbook.

This vegetable quiche will be one of the included recipes - the first time I made this marked my discovery of fontina cheese as the perfect quiche cheese. The vegetables were just what I had on time at the time, but it turned out great so I decided to make it again. You can surely add meat but you won't miss it if you don't.

First, the crust. I looked around at quiche crust recipes but defaulted to a French classic, pâte brisée, or shortcrust pastry.

pate brisee ingredients

That's 1 and 3/4 cup all purpose flour (APF), 1 stick unsalted butter, 1 egg, 1 tsp crème fraîche (to make it more French) and 1/2 tsp salt.

The flour is sifted with the salt and the butter is cold/hard and grated with a cheese grater to render the butter into bits. (If you have a food processor there's that option too.)

pate brisee mix

Beat the egg and pour it into a well in the flour. Incorporate the egg into the flour, then add the crème fraîche and knead. Refrigerate for an hour or so before you roll it out.

quiche crust

Here is the crust rolled out and into a 8" cake pan. I poked holes with a fork so the crust wouldn't inflate from butter steam. This went into a 325F oven for about 5 minutes, until it got golden.

quiche vegetables

For the filling, I had thyme, 1 shallot (minced), 1 zucchini (diced), 1 box mushrooms (sliced) and half a bag of spinach. These were sauteed with a little oil - shallot first, then mushroom and thyme, then zucchini, and spinach last.

quiche filling

Besides the vegetables the filling consisted of 1 cup heavy cream, 4 eggs, 8 oz fontina cheese, 2 oz jalapeno havarti (or some other spicy white cheese), 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and 1/2 tsp nutmeg.

quiche filled

Everything was mixed and poured into the quiche crust, which was returned to the oven and baked for another ~45 minutes.

quiche baked

I took it out when it got golden brown on top but was still a little gooey inside. If you prefer it firmer, you can cover it with aluminum foil and bake it a bit longer. Satisfying either way!