Monday, January 24, 2011

What we ate this week: Detox January Week 3

Rice and beans with avocado & roasted beet and squash soup
There was a tragedy last week within my family of friends; it hasn't made me feel very much like writing witty things about food, so please bear with me for a while.

To tide you over, here's a sampling of what I've made over the past week or so.

Hold your loved ones close.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pistachio-ginger biscotti: a recipe

Mark Bittman's pistachio-ginger biscotti
Since I can't drink my cider, I may as well just eat dessert, right?

I am still reading my way through the Food Matters Cookbook, but this week I skipped ahead to the desserts and sweets section.

So if you thought Mark Bittman is just a vegetable nazi without a sweet side, you are so wrong.

He had me at biscotti.

I love biscotti, and once I realized how easy it is make, I've been hooked on making it at home. This particular version tastes nutty and crunchy, with just a hint of tangy-sweet crystallized ginger to give it that little lagniappe that keeps you coming back for more.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Hard cider adventure: bottling

Nearly three months after we got our bucket of juice and started this adventure, the cider is ready!

This past weekend, we divided the cider into 2 batches: one still and slightly sweet, one sparkling and dry. Very dry. Sahara desert dry. Perhaps too dry for you but that's fine because it means more for me.

The sparkling bottles need to sit for about another 2-3 weeks to carbonate fully but the still batch is ready to drink right now.


You may recall we're in the middle of a little somethin' we call Detox January. Remember what the number one rule of Detox January is? Yep: no liquor.

Really, really poor planning on my part.

I now have four gallons worth of yummy, strong  hard cider staring me down and I've got two more teetotaling weeks to go.


PS: Thanks to the nice folks at Vermont Homebrew Supply in Winooski for walking me through this process and sharing so much of their time and advice with me.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Cauliflower mac and cheese: a recipe

Cauliflower mac and cheese
Cauliflower is cool. It really is.

If you are of a certain age (ahem), you know cauliflower from it's ubiquitous appearance on the cocktail party crudite platter or as a gross side dish your mother made you eat, made only slightly palatable by the addition of a melted cheese sauce. Probably velveeta.

But apparently I have misjudged cauliflower all these years.

When pureed, it has great thickness and body, a nice heartiness and slightly nutty flavor that works well in soups, pastas, and other dishes. Take, for example, this mac-and-cheese I made the other night.

And yes, damnit, it comes from Mark Bittman's Food Matters Cookbook. I will not shut up about it until you go buy it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pasta with leek pesto: a recipe

Mark Bittman's pasta with leek pesto
I don't care if you say you hate pesto. I don't care if you say you hate leeks. I guarantee you will love this dish. Trust me.

Ninjas don't lie.

This is another recipe from Mark Bittman's Food Matters Cookbook. I've been cooking from it all week and I can't hype it enough. Every recipe I've tried has been straightforward and delicious.

Go buy it. Seriously.

Bittman calls this "pesto" in quotation marks because, while it may look like pesto, it's so much more: thick and creamy, with just a hint of sweetness from the carmelized leeks.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tomato and bread soup with fennel and fish: a recipe

Mark Bittman's tomato and bread soup with fish and fennel...
and apparently a big piece of basil
You must believe me when I say that this soup tastes so much better than it looks.

(You will also be happy to know that I have signed up for a food photography and styling workshop later this month, so perhaps I can dish up some slightly more appetizing photos in the future!)

The soup -- really, more of a stew -- comes from Mark Bittman's new Food Matters Cookbook. In a nutshell, Bittman's philosophy is that we can improve our health and help save the planet by changing the way we eat: focus on eating more plants and fewer animal products and processed foods. (Bittman is, first and foremost, a journalist, so if you want to learn all about the facts and figures behind this argument, I'd urge you to check out his book, Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating -- it makes a whole lot of sense to me).

For me, this philosophy fits in very nicely with not only Detox January but also my efforts to eat locally and sustainably.

Friday, January 7, 2011

What we ate this week: Detox January Week 1

Me with Elvis tribute artist Keith Henderson
Happy Elvis' Birthday!

Well, actually, it's tomorrow (January 8), but I don't post on Saturdays so you're getting the love and cheer a day early.

I'd love to hear if you've joined us for Detox January and how it's going for you.

Here's a roundup of some of the things we ate during Week 1:

  • Chicken Larb -- I served this with naan rather than on lettuce leaves and used the leftovers to make a pizza
  • Chicken and Blue Cheese Salad -- one of my old standbys, I make this frequently with leftover chicken or turkey. It's quick, easy and very satisfying (you could omit the meat and have a great vegetarian meal salad, too)
  • Fresh Salmon and Lime Cakes -- I modified this recipe by not frying the cakes at all but instead baked them at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes (turned out perfectly!)

If you need a splurge, may I recommend The King's favorite?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Spinach soup: a Detox January recipe

Spinach soup
So ... how's your Detox January going?

Mine started out with a scolding from the Wii Fit for not having visited in 347 days. Bite me, you weasly little machine. I guess I should have made it my friend on Facebook last year so it would have been aware of the 5K I ran and the never-ending, twice-daily dog walking.

But back to the food: soup is my secret weapon during Detox January.

Soup is a great vehicle for adding more veggies to your diet and staving off hunger, without sucking down tons of fat and calories. At mid-afternoon, when it feels like snack time, I will often heat up a single-serve container of organic vegetable broth and sip it like tea: warm, filling and only 15 calories!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Detox January (and a sauteed fish recipe)

(courtesy 1876 from stock.xhchng)
Time for a quiz...

Over the holidays and/or the past few months, did you
  • Eat too much?
  • Drink too much?
  • Let your exercise regime slide?
  • Justify your muffin top with "these things happen when you get older"?

If you answered yes to most of those (especially the last one) I invite you to join us in a little somethin-somethin we call Detox January.