Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve

Eager to avoid the king of amateur nights (and a cold, rainy one at that, in DC), John and I opted to stay in and indulge ourselves, without the effort of cooking. Behold, our lovely repast, pieced together from both our fridges:

Clockwise, from midnight: sharp cheddar, dry sausage (thanks, Norah!), goat cheese, Laughing Cow baby bels and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Mustard in the center, olives, macademia nuts (courtesy of John's father) and crackers on the side. And of course, the celebratory Islay.

The roasted garlic was a late but welcome arrival to the table.


And for dessert? Baked apple à la mode (and à la Bittman).

Good food, good drink, good movies (The Return of the Thin Man on AMC), perhaps some Xboxing later -- and, most importantly, great company. Who could ask for anything more?

Happy New Year, everyone!

Yes, April, We Put Up the Christmas Tree

With time to spare, even, since I'm of the opinion that the holidays don't end till Epiphany. The only real ornaments are courtesy of John, but I will admit to liking how Evil Empire bear glowers malevolently over all.

Happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Leftovers for Lunch!

After a hard morning of playing Fallout 1 playing Torchlight cleaning, what better and more convenient way to refuel than with leftovers? Couscous from yesterday, John's vinegary cabbage salad and Magic Bag peas from Monday, plus a few slices of Spam fried so they're crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside. Turned out to be a wonderful mix of sweet (peas), sour (salad) and salty (guess which one?), as well as a colorful meal.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Today's Lunch: Tuna Mac and Cheese

Now that I'm home from the holidays, the staycation begins in earnest! Used a box of whole wheat Annie's Organics as a base. While the pasta was cooking, I diced 1/2 medium onion and 1 celery stalk, sauteed them with a bit of olive oil, then added a can of tuna. Nothing fancy, and not nearly as rich as the bacon mac my sister made on Christmas eve, but nonetheless nourishing (and a good excuse to pull out the camera again). The learning curve re: phoodtography is pretty steep, but at least I have a nicely-colored bowl that showcases my noms. Would have taken more photos, but the perfect is the enemy of the good -- and the hungry.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pasta and Pictures

I've got a miniature secret camera - well, more like a Canon Elph. Thanks, Tita Tessie and Uncle Dave! Now this blog will also be subject to my occasional clumsy attempts to learn how to photograph my food. While I obviously won't have a setup as fancy as Michael Ruhlman's, digital cameras are wonderfully forgiving, and it will be fun - for me, at least.

And now to the food. Last night I made a riff on this pasta with leek sauce recipe - olive oil instead of butter, added a minced anchovy and about 1/3 tsp. red pepper flakes with the garlic, skipped the cream and served with grated Parmesan. Below, an action shot!

The pasta was good, if a tad dry - John's mustardy carrots (not pictured) on the side helped, but in retrospect I should have used some of the pasta water and perhaps a bit more cheese. This morning, for breakfast, I fried some thin slices of Spam, reheated some pasta in the resulting oil, diced the meat and added it to the dish. Breakfast of - well, if not champions, stay-cationers, at least. It was more nutritious than my usual morning convenience fare: instant ramen, one of my longest-reigning comfort foods and guilty pleasures.

(Yes, I had some of it before remembering to take the picture.) Note that I least tried to health it up with a handful of greens, in addition to the usual scallions.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Chicken Thighs with Tomatoes, Olives and Anchovies

With less than three days left before the start of my 2-1/2 week staycation, and our office Xmas lunch on Wednesday, I had to make enough food to bring to work for Monday and Tuesday. And thus, this recipe, a riff on Bittman's "Chicken Thighs Provencal-Style" - though, in retrospect, it's really a variation on a basic tomato sauce. Alas, there was no fresh basil on hand. Fortunately, our neighbor's marjoram plant is still going strong, so some fresh herb did make it into the dish, which turned out quite well -- rich and savory and almost creamy, despite the utter lack of dairy.
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 anchovy fillets, minced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 heaping tbsp.)
  • 1 28 oz. can tomatoes, chopped or crushed (I love hand-crushing them; it's very therapeutic)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock, white wine or water (used boxed stock)
  • 1 cup Kalamanta olives, pitted
  • 3 small sprigs marjoram
  • salt and pepper to taste
Put the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Brown the chicken briefly, then set it aside.

Pour off all but 2 tbsp. of oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, till they start getting soft - about 3-5 minutes.

Add the minced anchovies and cook for a couple of minutes more.

Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two more.

Turn the heat to medium high. Add the tomatoes and cook till some of the liquid's bubbled away (about 5-10 minutes).

Add the stock, wine or water, and cook for another 5-10 minutes, till some of that liquid's evaporated.

Add the olives and herbs. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then cook for 2-3 minutes more.

Return the chicken to the skillet, turning it on each side a couple of times to make sure it gets coated with the tomato mixture. Nestle it in the sauce, skin-side up, then turn the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook till the chicken's done (anywhere from 20-40 minutes - closer to the latter for small electric burners).

Serve over the starch of your choice (couscous last night, rice today at work).