January cooking

I always wonder what food blogger home cooking really looks like. I figure some of you think like me. So here are a few of my recent home-cooked meals.

These are listed chronologically. A good number of dinners are missing. About once a week we ordered in, took out, or heated a pre-cooked meal from Wegmans. I cooked two not-so-good dinners this month. I’ll do a better job of reporting all these next month; putting together this post was more work than I realized. With those in mind, what I’ve listed below is representative of our usual home cooking.

Pizza and sugar snap peas: This was New Year’s Eve dinner. Holiday traveling was tough and I wanted something easy. I cooked the sauce (tomato, onion, and butter) as the dough rose. Baked it in a cast iron combination cooker in an oven set to maximum temperature. The snap peas I cooked over high heat with olive oil and plenty of lemon juice.

Arepas and kale: I needed to use some frozen corn and some kale. The only entree-type dish featuring corn that I know how to make is arepas. The arepas were cornmeal, flour, leavener, milk, egg, and salt. The kale I cooked to a melting tender and then dressed with a lazy man’s mojo de ajo: lime juice mixed with a vegetable oil infused with garlic and red pepper flake. I spooned some Fage on the side.

Roasted chicken, sugar snap peas, cauliflower gratin: I had some chicken legs in an equilibrium brine in the refrigerator. I seared and roasted these. Snap peas I cooked as I did on pizza night. I made a gratin of the cauliflower because I came across a Jacques Pepin video earlier in the day (probably while looking up some other technique). To make the gratin, I boiled the cauliflower, poured a Jarlsberg cheese sauce over it, topped it with Gruyere, and finished it in the oven.

Frittata and herbed rice: I bought a bag of peppers but never got around to the arroz con pollo experiment they were intended for. The frittata was a way to use some of the peppers. The frittata was three sweet peppers, one leek, and four eggs. Six eggs would have been better. But then again I topped it with goat cheese and gruyere and some parsley. The herbed rice was simply butter and minced parsley stems mixed into salted brown rice.

Kale and rice enriched cheeseburgers, green salad: I wanted to take the stand mixer out for another test drive. Having a stand mixer is really like having an assistant. I formed the dough after I picked up our toddler from day care, rising and shaping it while I cleaned up and prepared everything else. At home I like to make hamburger patties with ground beef, a cooked grain, and a green. This night the grain was brown rice and the green was kale (left over from a dinner I didn’t write up). The green salad was one of those rectangular supermarket boxes of baby greens. I miss growing season.

Frittata and vegetable soup: The frittata was egg, leek, gruyere and tarragon. For soup I cooked 8 carrots, 1 yellow bell pepper, 1 onion, and a bay leaf in stock to cover. When the carrots were tender, I removed the bay leaf and pureed the rest with an immersion blender, adding stock, milk, and basil to taste.

Sirloin steak, ziti, and creamed spinach: I try to choose things that go together. On that criterion, I could have done better. I can’t remember why I went with the ziti, but my guess is that I was trying to cook for later in the week but didn’t finish before my wife came home. The sirloin I cooked at 59 degrees C with an immersion circulator. Then I chilled it in an ice bath. While the steak chilled, I sauced a (dry) pound of whole wheat ziti with a simple tomato sauce. While that cooked I wilted some spinach and then finished it with cream, salt, and grated nutmeg. As the pasta and spinach finished, I patted the steak dry with paper towels and then seared it really hard in a cast iron skillet.

Chili: I’d cooked a lot of Italian food. We needed a change of pace. I started by sweating diced onions and peppers. Next I added garlic and some leftover tomato sauce, and then ground beef and ground ancho. That mixture I cooked to a deep brown. Finally I added dried beans, water, and salt, and cooked everything for 70 minutes at full pressure in my pressure cooker. Cold water release. I forgot to stir in frozen corn the first night we ate it, but my wife remembered when we had the leftovers the next day. I spooned the chili over plain brown rice and topped it with Fage.

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