Thursday, September 20, 2007

I caught a good one.

It was my birthday this week, and it turned out to be one of the best ones in a while. Chris and I have been away from each other on my birthday for the past couple of years, and this was extra special just because he was there and being so great to me all day long. He woke me up with a cup of coffee under my nose (not really out of the ordinary) and lured me into the dining room, which was all aglow with this spread:I had been sleeping soundly, and he had been up for an hour in the dark, whipping up whole wheat blueberry pancakes and soysages and coffee and orange juice. This is extra special, you see, because he is not exactly an experienced pancake-maker. I was very proud of him. Also, he really hates wrapping presents - he told me that you can tell that he loves me because he wrapped ALL of those presents. I always kind of considered his family tradition of unwrapping presents in the morning with birthday breakfast (and not after dinner with birthday cake, which is my family tradition) to be cheating, but this whole fabulous experience kind of debunked that theory (especially since I was not even supposed to get presents this year). This bonus gift came at the end:Anyways, I told him after that fantastic breakfast it really didn't matter what happened during the rest of my busy day - he had set the tone right and that was all that mattered. I ended up having a really nice day, especially capped off with dinner and drinks at Malibu with some of our great friends.

Then, he upped the ante even more by cooking dinner for me the next night! He made another of our Giada favorites, Rigatoni with Red Pepper, Almonds, and Breadcrumbs. I don't have a picture, but you can look at the one with the recipe here. To sum it up: Boil a pound of penne or rigatoni. Place a 5 oz. bag of garlic-flavored croutons and 1/4 c. toasted slivered almonds in a food processor until like breadcrumbs. Toss pasta with crouton mix and 3/4 c. olive oil and/or pasta water. Top with a jar of roasted red peppers that have been julienned and a rinsed can of garbanzo beans (that is our own addition - it makes it really good). It's cheap, fast, easy, and really really good - the makings of a perfect weeknight dinner.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Moroccan Roasted Vegetables

So, this recipe is probably what I would consider my "signature" dish, only because every time I cook it, I get asked for the recipe. Then, those people seem to misplace the recipe (just as I would if I had originally requested it), and then they ask again. Then they pass it on to their loved ones and cook it for other people and get asked for the recipe themselves. It's a good recipe.

I was just asked for it by my friend Chez Megane, and I realized I have never posted it here before. Since it is one of those recipes that gets lost, I figured I would post it now to be used by all. Although I don't have photos of it to share, trust that it is a beautiful and humbly delectable dish.

Moroccan Roasted Vegetables
slightly adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics

note: I generally add a good bit more spice than called for by mounding up the spices in the measuring spoons as I measure them - it makes it better.

1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch thick semi-circles
1 small eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes or semi-circles
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch thick cubes or semi-circles
1 large red bell pepper, cored and sliced into 1/4-inch strips
2 medium fresh tomatoes, chopped
15.5 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 T. olive oil
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 T. ground cumin
1 1/2 t. turmeric
1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 t. paprika
1/4 t. cayenne
2 t. salt

Optional, but HIGHLY recommended for toppings:
chopped toasted almonds
crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, thoroughly mix together ingredients.

Spread vegetables onto parchment-lined baking 11x17-inch baking tray. Bake for 20 minutes, remove from oven and stir well, then bake for another 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

Serve warm over couscous, topped with suggested toppings.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Yay for Functioning iPhoto...and a trip down Pitchfork Lane...

For miz-onths my iPhoto has been completely f'ed, making it a super-frustrating and lengthy process to do anything with photos. Yes, I could have brought my computer in to the shop, or bought a new version of iPhoto, to possibly get the problem solved, but that seemed so complicated... There was a much easier solution in the forecast for us, and that was a new computer. :) Now that it is here, I couldn't be more happy - I love laptops, but there is something really nice about sitting down to a desktop - especially one that organizes all of your photos into events (sort of - I think there is a husband that did most of the legwork there)!

As I perused my newly organized photo library this evening, I came across photos from Pitchfork '07, which was a delightful quartet of days filled with great food, beer, music, more food, great friends, more beer, more food, and lots of fun. I immediately looked through the pictures hoping for ones of eating the out-of-this world jerk seiten wrap, or the grilled corn on the cob, or the soy ice cream cones, or the watermelon lemonade, or the tofu pad thai, or the pineapple salsa...but my search came up dry.
It turns out that we scarfed down those bad boys all too fast. There is something so great about sitting in the hot hot sun on a nasty, nubby woolen blanket named Baby James, taking runs to the food area every hour or so just because your body needs fuel to ward off the elements. R.I.P. Baby James, R.I.P.The food pics I do have are from our great trip to Orange for brunch, so I will share those here.

First up is my pan-seared steel-cut oatmeal, cooked in apple cider and spices and served up with fruit compote (sooo good! my personal favorite):
Next is C's crazy-ass Veggie Sandwich on toasted brioche with jalapeno mayo and spicy garlic yogurt (really good, but damn...that is a lot of veggies in the morning):The flashiest selection was E's pancake flight, with a summertime theme: smore's, watermelon-cucumber(?), one about a pool with basil and blue curacao, and a pork BBQ stack (which was supposedly the best):
Last but not least were A's French Toast Kebobs (really tasty, but poor A wasn't too crazy about the coconut-infusion going on) shown with the cucumber water, orange peel-infused coffee, and our very own freshly squeezed juice selections (I tried a tame and delicious watermelon-cantelope juice):I think we all really enjoyed our experience at Orange - it was fun and tasty, and I would definitely go back. But, if I had to pick, the food at Pitchfork was surprisingly better and less expensive (huge water bottles for $1!). It would be so nice to make a trip back to the midwest next summer for the festival again, just to sink my teeth into one of those jerk seiten wraps one more time.