Tag Archives: Kale

Lockdown Dinners

4 Apr

cooking during the pandemic

I’m lucky during the COVID 19 lockdown to live with one of my best friends, Rob. He’s been working from home since January. I’m now working from home for the duration of the pandemic. During the day, he works in the office upstairs, I work in my office downstairs (set up in the kitchen) and we come together for dinner and binging after dinner. (Binging TV! Not drinks… or, well…)

Rob says cooking is my ‘Happy Place” and I guess he’s right. Cooking stresses some people out but it de-stresses me. After a long day, to make a martini and cook a great meal relaxes me entirely. Hell, it relaxes me even without the martini! The kitchen and food were always a comfort for me growing up. A safe space, if you will, to use a modern phrase. I guess that just continued into my adult life.

I also learned to cook because I love to eat. I remember realizing in High School that when I went to college, I wouldn’t be able to keep eating all the wonderful food my mom and grandmothers prepared. So I decided to learn how to cook their food before I graduated so I could make the food in college. I’ve been cooking ever since.

Additionally, my mind is on constant overdrive, I can’t turn it off, which is one of the reasons I don’t sleep much. Cooking is one of two things I’ve found (painting is the other) that clears my head of anything but the process. When I cook, all that shit rattling around in my head goes away, for a time. It’s a balm. And so, in this incredible and difficult time, I’ve been cooking like crazy.

If you click over to the Facebook Page, I’ve been posting photos and recipes of the dinners I’ve been cooking. I’m going to continue to do more frequent posts there, particularly of other chefs’ recipes I’m trying, while I’ll also post my own inventions here.

On Food And Film FB page

In the meantime, I’ll give you a couple of recent favorites. There are also some killer recipes upcoming here as the lockdown continues! So stay tuned and if you haven’t subscribed, sign up! You will not get pelted with emails, promise.

A book I’ve been cooking through that is terrific is Alison Roman’s Nothing FancyI’ve tried a lot from this book, including a killer dip I love, and I highly recommend her book.

Here is a dinner I made from Nothing Fancy, her salmon and green beans:

Salmon Green beans

Alison Roman’s Buttered Salmon and Walnut Green Beans

This is the best salmon I’ve ever eaten. Made with lemon, red onion and brown butter, it is ridiculously simple and divine. I’m linking to Stacy Snacks wonderful food blog for the recipe:

Alison Roman’s Buttered Salmon with Lemon and Red Onion

Her green beans were also a revelation:

Alison Roman’s Mustardy Green Beans with Anchovyed Walnuts

Another dinner was my Mushroom “Farroto” (risotto made with farro), with a light salad and creamed kale:

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Mushroom “Farroto” and Creamed Kale

These are easy dishes that are fairly healthy and very comforting.

You can find the recipe for the Mushroom Farotto here:

Mushroom Farrotto

You can find the Creamed Kale recipe here:

Creamed Kale

And for the salad, simply use mixed greens and my vinaigrette, which you should be making all the time ; ) 

Perfect Vinaigrette

So! Keep in touch on the FB page for fun stuff during the week, and once or twice a week my goal is to post some new inventions and discoveries here. As always, let me know what you think… and what you are cooking!

Blessings in this unbelievable time. 

Winter Greens Lasagna

11 Mar
Lasagna

Winter Greens Lasagna

Everyone loves lasagna yet I know great cooks who won’t bother to make it at home, myself included for a long while, because it seemed too much work. 

Not true, not true!

I’ve learned over the past few years lasagna can be pretty damn easy to make, particularly when someone reveals to you, as my great friend and great cook Tiffiny told me, that you don’t have to boil the lasagna noodles. That blew my mind, given the one time I tried to boil the noodles, then layer them, was a nightmare of near biblical proportions.  I never got that tray of lasagna into the oven and I never tried again until Tiff told me, no you don’t have to do that. Just layer them into the lasagna out of the box.  Genius.

Ultimately, lasagna is simply layers of flavors you stuff in the oven and bake. Yes, the layers themselves determine how good it will be and you want to make sure it isn’t too dry. But particularly with some quality store bought ingredients, you can prep and layer a terrific homemade lasagna in 30 minutes or less. Lasagna also sits beautifully so you can prep it on a Sunday, have it ready to shove in the oven when you get home Monday and then have wonderful leftovers all week. 

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Winter Salads

13 Dec

Even though it is freezing cold and there are no fresh spring or summer vegetables flooding farmers’ markets and grocery stores, you can still enjoy one of life’s greatest pleasures: the salad.

I’ve been a fanatic for salad as long as I can remember, all kinds. Even the simplest of salads, correctly prepared, can be sublime. One of my favorite dishes in all the world, for instance, is Union Square Cafe’s  Bibb & Red Oak Leaf Lettuce Salad, their version of a dinner salad that thankfully never leaves the menu. I dined there once with a friend who is not partial to salad. Given my raves about the salad, she decided to order it, figuring she might as well try one of the world’s best dinner salads to see if her mind might be changed.

She tasted it, waved down the waiter and ordered a second one before continuing. Her reaction for the next few minutes eating the salad was not unlike Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally.

That’s what can happen when you have good salad.

You can always make a simple, wonderful green salad with fresh lettuces any time of year. Add a few herbs and toss with a wonderful vinaigrette (never ever store bought, learn to make a great one, with variations, here) and you will have the perfect start, or end, to any meal.  Let me also, however, give you two salads tailored specifically for the ingredients and tastes of winter: a fantastic Raw Kale Caesar (with video!) as well as a delicious and crunchy Nutty Pesto Vegetable Salad.

RAW KALE CAESAR

Here is a video demo I did with some friends prepping a few videos to use for the website. I of course left out the anchovy when I made it! See the additional notes and written recipe below for more details:

NOTE: When you make this, be sure to add the anchovy! Sautéed pancetta is a wonderful addition I often toss into the salad, particularly if I omit the rustic croutons. If you want the salad really healthy, add no croutons, no pancetta and very little cheese… it’s still terrific. But a touch of cheese and pancetta won’t kill you! Those are tastes where a little goes a long way and does not get in the way of healthy eating.

Click here to get the full recipe: Raw Kale Caesar recipe.

PESTO VEGETABLE SALAD

Cabbage Salad

The next winter salad has become one of my favorite dishes to make. It’s my own version of a salad I had at one of my favorite places in the world, Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn. This rustic inn, located in one of the most beautiful locales imaginable, is one of the best havens from the outside world you can find. While the inn is down the road from a couple of the most expensive hotels in the world, Deetjen’s itself is very reasonable. And romantic. And relaxing. No phones, no TV’s, not even locks on the doors. Comfortable beds, a glorious woody setting right across from the Pacific… I get lost there for days.

Deetjen’s has a terrific restaurant that serves breakfast and dinner, both glorious. The restaurant’s Eggs Benedict are the best I’ve ever had. Ditto their Blueberry Pancakes. Best ever as well. At night, the restaurant is soft lit, warm, romantic and, again, rustic. Oh, and wonderful food. For me, Deetjen’s is heaven on earth.

The last time I was lucky enough to stay there a few nights, they offered a special salad made with cabbage, zucchini, tomatoes and a variety of nuts, lightly tossed in a wonderful pesto vinaigrette. I liked it so much I ordered it two nights in a row then came home and figured out my own version.

This is a terrific salad, very much a ‘throw together’ salad that is virtually impossible to mess up. Just be sure to include a variety of nuts and don’t miss using the peanuts: they help give the salad a wonderful, salty kick. While you can make this any time of year, I make it all summer, it’s great on a cold winter’s night as a starter to your dinner. Or as part of a buffet with other winter salads and dishes. Or, if you are eating light, a solid meal on its own. Get the recipe here: Nutty Pesto Vegetable Salad.