Tag Archives: recipes

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. 

A Cook/Book Who Changed My Life Vol. II

17 Mar

my tribute to a wonderful woman who changed my life and continues to affect it

I’ve written about a few of the cooks who influenced me, from my grandmothers to friends  and family members to Patricia Wells to Suzanne Goin …. Today I’d like to tell you about the cook and her book who influenced me the most — in cooking, certainly, but also in life. 

One of my closest friends growing up was Marty Roos. We spent tons of time together; consequently, I was at his house a lot. It was a warm and fun place to be. I loved his two older sisters, Dorothy and Stephanie (who could make me laugh like no other) as well as his parents. Mr. Roos, Stephen, was one of the kindest people I’ve ever met and had a dry sharp wit that could knock you flat. Mrs. Roos, Fern, was a caterer so she was usually in the kitchen cooking for her family and/or cooking for one of her many clients/parties. 

fern 1

Fern Roos with her children Stephanie, Dorothy and Marty

Fern Roos started her catering business in 1973 with her best friend, Renee Bennett. In the years leading up to 1973,  Fern and Renee made sandwiches and food for their temple as well as their many friends. Renee’s father, Pop, suggested they start a catering business… and so they did. They called their company fernee’s and turned it into one of the most successful catering businesses in our area of Southeast Texas which is called The Golden Triangle, formed by the towns of Port Arthur, Beaumont and Orange. For well over 25 years, fernee’s was the go-to for gatherings small and large, sometimes very large, in our part of Texas. 

I doubt Mrs. Roos thinks of herself as an early progressive feminist. Yet back in the 70s, when women were fighting for equality, for good jobs and for the rights men had, Fern and Renee started their own business without anyone’s approval.  Against the typical odds that kill a majority of restaurants and catering companies, they created a business that thrived for almost 30 years. They were so successful that later in their career they would be asked to speak to college students on how to start and run a successful business. 

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Sunday Night Vegetable Roast

18 Jul

There’s a terrific Farmers’ Market I visit every Sunday, the Atwater Village Farmers’ Market. Conveniently, it’s 5 minutes from my house, and also directly across the street from Bikram Yoga Silverlake where most days I am either torturing people or being tortured in what we lovingly refer to as ‘the hot room.’ (Best workout on the planet. But I digress.) “Farmers’ Market Sundays” have helped create traditions at the house. A few times a year, for instance, we have a Farmers’ Market Dinner, where friends bring to the house whatever they liked from their Farmers’ Market.  We cook it all up and have a great meal.

“Farmers’ Market Sundays” also led to Sunday Night Vegetable Roast. A little backstory: I often take time on Sundays to cook. I make broth, I put up vegetables and fruit, I prep for the week. My hometown friend Doneane Beckcom Reese recently turned me onto Salad In A Jar, which works incredibly well and gives you fresh, ready made salad every day. Wine is certainly most always involved and I’m usually writing at the computer at the same time. For me, it’s a great way to relax before Monday rears its head. 

One of the things I love to do on Sundays is roast a lot of vegetables. Roasting veggies is my favorite way to prepare them. It’s fast, easy, healthy and tastes so good. There are perks to a Sunday Night Vegetable Roast. First, you end up with an amazing dinner. Roast all your veg, grill some chicken or fish, and you have one of my favorite meals on the planet:

Roast Veggie Dinner

Grilled Ahi Tuna with roasted tomatoes, potatoes, asparagus and zucchini

Also, if you double or triple your quantities, you have a bunch of vegetables that will keep all week and be ready for a plethora of fast prep dishes. It makes breakfast very easy, for instance. As an avowed egg fanatic, I can attest that roasted vegetables in your fridge help create excellent breakfasts every morning. 

Below, then, I’ll tell you how to best roast your vegetables, and then give you some of the varied dishes you can create with them later in the week. Try doing this some Sunday. Even if you are not much of a cook or are too busy to cook much during the week, taking a couple of hours on a Sunday to prep food is a great idea. You can precook a bunch of different things, all at once, and have a lot of tasty items to pull from the fridge.

BASIC ROASTING

Roasting vegetables is easy. Seriously. Take, for instance, the tomatoes and asparagus pictured below. You toss them with a little olive oil and salt & pepper, stick them in a 400 degree oven, and roast. That’s it.

Tomatoes and Asparagus prepped for roasting

Tomatoes and Asparagus prepped for roasting

I don’t know of a single vegetable that won’t work perfectly this way. Cooking time differs, certainly. Asparagus roast fast.. only a few minutes if they are thin, perhaps 10 minutes if they are thick. Tomatoes… well, it depends on how you like them. I like to roast tomatoes down big time, maybe even get a little bit of black here and there. So for tomatoes this could be 45 minutes to an hour. For you, 30 minutes might be ideal. Just check the oven every ten minutes or so, you’ll know when you want to pull them out. Cherry tomatoes are perfect for this prep, btw. They are little pops of wonder in your mouth.

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