Thursday, October 29, 2009

Brunch, Bentos, Beets - and Andrew Bird

Laziness has led to one of these all-in-one posts. Saw St. Vincent and Andrew Bird last night - a wonderful show (there's a pretty good write-up at DCist, which alas doesn't mention the new duet "Lusitania" - one of the concert's highlights). I'd never seen St. Vincent live before, and am now regretting not catching her earlier this year at the Cat - her music's much more powerful, complex and interesting live. The Bird portion of the evening seemed even tighter and better than his last 9:30 show, even before taking the St. Vincent collaborations into account.

UPDATE: Found footage of their "Oh Sister" cover, complete with the utterly charming mess-up.

And now to brunch. Last Sunday, we had rosemary and lamb sausages (from Canales at Eastern Market - one of their in-house products), couscous and spinach - which is how I discovered yet another time-saving shortcut. Chop and wash the spinach (nice and fresh from one of the weekend vendors - a bulging plastic grocery bag full cost only $3!) while the water is coming to a boil. Once you've added the couscous, let the water return to a boil, wait a few seconds (so the greens have a fairly solid clump of carbs to land on), throw in the spinach, put the lid on the pot, wait a few more seconds then remove from heat. The spinach was perfectly steamed after a 5-6 minute wait.

Did much the same thing with some chicken and portebello mushroom sausages for Monday's bento; Wednesday and Thursdays consisted of John's meatloaf (UPDATE: recipe here), rice and a few cornichons to counterpoint the ketchupy sweetness.

And now to the week's pickling - beets, this time. I can't find the recipe we used right now, but John put up a bunch of beets, 6 eggs and an onion in two jars. Just 24 hours later, they were delicious - even more so another day later. I can still remember the tart, sweet, earthiness of the egg he fed me right before we left for the concert last night.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Nilagang Baka (Beef Stew/Soup)

My near-constant craving for soup probably has something to do with the encroaching cold and the cold/cough I've been fighting off. I wanted something nourishing but not bland, and so riffed on this recipe for an old comfort food staple. Prep took a little longer than usual - partially because I opted to brown the beef, and I've never been the world's fastest mincer - but was easily accomplished during innings 2-6 of this sad-making game.
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable or peanut oil
  • 2 lbs. beef, cut into 1-1/2 to 2 in. cubes
  • 1 head garlic, minced
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 4 cups water (not enough for the soupiness I wanted - will add 2 or so cups more next time)
  • 4 tbsp. patis (will try more next time)
  • 1 heaping tsp. black peppercorns
  • 3 medium potatoes, cut into 1-1/2 to 2 in. cubes
  • 1 small cabbage, roughly chopped
  • 1 bok choy, chopped (alas, didn't have this)
Place oil in a large pot or Dutch oven on medium heat. Brown beef on all sides (about 5 min.). Remove from pot and reserve.

Add onions and garlic. Saute till soft (3-5 min.), making sure to scrape the pan and free the fond-y goodness from the browned meat.

Return beef to pot. Add water, patis and black peppercorns. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low, cover, and simmer till beef is tender (1 hour, maybe more).

Add potatoes; return to a boil, then to a simmer till potatoes are nearly done (10-15 min.).

Add cabbage; return to a boil, then simmer till everything's done (10 or so min.).

Correct seasoning if necessary, then serve hot over lots of white rice.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Today's Bento

The office is particularly cold today, so I'm warming my stiff little fingers (alas, couldn't find YouTube footage of "Here We Are Nowhere") with a brief what's-for-lunch post. Mr. Bento's contents:
  • red grapes
  • braised leeks (2 medium-sized leeks halved, then cut into 4-inch lengths. Saute in a tbsp of butter for about 5 minutes or until browning, turning once or twice and seasoning with salt and pepper; add 1/4-1/3 cup chicken broth or water, bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 mins or till very tender. Remove from heat, drizzle with lemon juice (or, if you're packing it, just throw a couple of lemon slices in alongside)
  • rice
  • sardines in tomato sauce (straight out of the tin - was too lazy to saute them with onions and garlic)
I also have an orange, a banana and maybe 1/4 cup of leftover garlic cracker nuts in reserve.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Today's Bento

Between doing laundry and watching the Phillies dismantle the Dodgers last night, I managed to put together a good little lunch:
  • boiled sausage (with spicy suka - Filipino cane vinegar infused with garlic and chiles - on the side, of course!)
  • double garlic fried rice (about 2 cups of leftover garlic steamed rice fried in peanut oil with another tbsp. or so of chopped garlic, 3 chopped scallions and soy sauce to taste)
  • sauteed spinach (cook a heaping tbsp of chopped garlic and 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes. Add a 10-oz. bag of spinach, roughly chopped, and cook, stirring often, till greens are wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then drizzle with lemon juice just before nomming)
  • an orange, a bit of Laughing Cow cheese and some garlic-flavored cracker nuts for snacks
Even hours after everything was packed away, the apartment smelled like the paradise where all good garlic cloves go when they die - a rich, warming aroma for a cold autumn weekend. Though I'm getting home late tonight, I'll hopefully have the energy and inclination to cook the leftover leeks and pickle the cute little cukes I got at EM yesterday.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Afritadang Manok (Chicken Sauteed with Tomato Sauce and Vegetables)

Market Manila's discussion of this dish rightly notes that, for such a comfort food, "[o]ne shouldn’t really have a recipe...rather it is done by mood and feel and available ingredients." Nevertheless, I like having jumping off points. A quick Googling revealed a wide variety of recipes - including one with oyster sauce and ginger - but I decided to stick with the basics. The recipe below is based off this one - how could I resist an entire head of garlic to start with? It's now cooling on my stove, and both John and I agree that it tastes good - deep, almost creamy with a tang given to it by the fish sauce. Next time, I think I'll add some peas and more chicken (I only had 1.8 lbs. vs. the recommended 2.2). I'll probably throw in some bay leaves, too.
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 medium head garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 small tomatoes, sliced (may use more next time)
  • 4 chicken thighs, skin-on
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp. patis (or more to taste)
  • 5 medium potatoes, halved or quartered
  • 3-5 medium carrots, cut about the same size as the potatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
  • salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, saute the onion and garlic till softening, about 2-3 minutes.

Add the chicken and slightly brown, 4-7 minutes. Remove from pot; add tomatoes and saute till soft - 2-4 minutes. Return chicken to pot. (This came to pass because I forgot about the tomatoes; I assume it's fine to saute them along with the onion and garlic.)

Add tomato sauce, stock and patis. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 20 or so minutes, till chicken is almost done.

Add carrots and potatoes to pot. Cook till almost done - 10-15 minutes or so.

Add peppers to pot. Cook till slightly softened - 3-5 minutes. Adjust seasonings, then serve with lots of white rice.

Today's Bento

While today's food wasn't carted to work in Mr. Bento, I'm using the term to denote a packed lunch for ease of tagging. It consisted of a can of Amy's minestrone, a banana, some couscous with scallions, and boiled sausages with a small container of sili suka (aka spicy vinegar). Note to self: next time, chop up a few handfuls of spinach and add them to the couscous, or throw in some frozen peas and carrots with the grains.