Sunday, April 27, 2008

simple dinner

tossed some broccoli stalks and sliced almonds into a sweet citrus vinaigrette and set aside for an hour.

then began to grill a new york from cetak's, throwing a half pound of asparagus on that same grill when i turned the steak the first time. i warmed some leftover rice in the rice steamer.

when the steak was rare and done, i took it off the grill and sliced it, serving it over rice, with the asparagus and slaw.

open harvest sells slices of lithuanian bakery torte

if you've ever had the vanilla apricot torte from the lithuanian bakery in omaha, you probably already know that open harvest sells individual slices.
and if you like well-made sweets and aren't familiar with this cake, you have to try it.

speaking of ovens and double duty

the return of warm weather brings about a change in my oven usage.

(once again, it makes sense to buy a rotisserie chicken for five dollars rather than baking one myself.)

i don't use the oven earlier in the day for long periods or high temperatures; and if i'm going to turn it on at all, i try to make the most out of it by baking two things-- preferably at the same time, consecutively if need be.

here i'm baking a squash that was too small to resist, and then a favorite (and messy) snack: roast beef-wrapped baked asparagus. i'll post about that dish soon, it's worth it.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

i double lucky heart my grill pan

not only can i grill burgers and portobello mushrooms up nicely, i can use the same pan to melt the cheese in the oven, and keep everything warm until ready to serve.
throw the buns in there too! i did after i took the picture.

the covered side dish that finishes cooking itself on the way over there

hy-vee has pints of tiny, orange and yellow sweet

peppers on sale for 1.98.
i cut up half of them and tossed with a diced yellow tomato, and then doused this mix with a poppyseed vinaigrette and let sit,

while steaming up kashi in the rice cooker. the vinaigrette began the tenderizing of the already mellow peppers and tomato, and their flavors blended into the dressing. as soon as the kashi was done, i threw the whole grains-- still steaming-- in with the marination, covered it, and headed out the door.

mango-breaded sirloin

i'd picked up a mango on sale at ideal that was underripe (they were two for a dollar last week), and so i put it in a brown

paper bag to mature, and then left it in that brown paper bag a day or two too long. which begged the question: what was i going to do with a mushy mango?

the sticky texture of the ripe mango suggested using it to make breading adhere to meat, instead of using egg. i bought a tiny piece of sirloin steak from cetak's and cut it into one-inch-square cubes. i dredged the cubes through a bowl of mashed, very ripened mango, and then through peppered cornmeal. i grilled them over high heat just to sear the outside. (i feel pretty safe about eating the meat from cetak's on the rare side.)

the grilled, mashed mango's texture and flavor were both surprisingly collegial in their contexts. i'm going to try this mango preparation with a bigger piece of beef soon, with white bread crumbs instead of cornmeal. i'd like to try mango with cornmeal again, but for breading and frying fish instead.

portobello mushrooms on sale at leon's

the ad said whole or sliced, but when i went they only had sliced.

i don't like buying sliced mushrooms, but they looked better than the ones i usually see-- so,for $1.69 for a 6 oz package, i bought them anyway.

i grilled them and had them over salad, which also came at a nice price.

as an experiment, i marinated half of the portobello slices in a ginger sesame dressing before grilling over medium-high heat for just a few minutes. the marinated slices looked more appealing (they're on the left), but the non-marinated ones tasted better and had superior texture. at that price, i'll be buying more and experimenting further.

price good through monday night.

favorite salad bar in town

it's hy-vee, without a doubt. not only is it 3.99#, it always looks fresh and clean and happens to have many of my favorite salad parts. here's my regular tour:
the spring mix is the best lettuce deal. it's silly to pay this much a pound for hard-boiled eggs, but i grab a couple of yolk-dominant slices because i love them. red peppers, not green peppers; pieces of broccoli small enough to chew politely, and the mushrooms are nice and light in weight and therefore cheap. the roast beef strips are what sets this salad bar apart. and from the fruit and pastry section, i add a couple chunks of pineapple for dessert.

the salad travels home with more structural integrity, and more cheaply, if i add the dressing at home. (where i like the selection better anyway.) the salad above was just over half a pound, so it was $2.19.

i get a couple more uses out of the container, either for another salad or packing a lunch that doesn't have to go in the microwave.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

i heart my grill pan, redux

even with the best roasting recipe, you want to brown or sear the meat first.

this seals in flavor and makes the meat much more attractive on the plate. a baked pork chop, not browned at first, looks awful and clammy when served, no matter how perfectly done.

the grill pan, once again, comes in handy. warmed to a high-medium heat (curse you, electric ovens!) and needing only a few minutes and little attention, you can prepare a pork chop for baking in the moist environment of a covered dish--without sacrificing the eye-feel of the meat.

i par-grilled these chops from cetak's-- then baked on top of a can of white beans, and half a pound of asparagus spears snapped into one inch pieces, tossed with around a tablespoon annie's sesame shiitake dressing. after half an hour at 350, put on a plate with some rice for a cozy meal.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

purple baby artichokes at super saver

i had no idea what to do with them when i bought a dozen at 1.48# yesterday. but i'll use this website to show me how to prepare them.
a dozen cost about two bucks.

weekend breakfast sandwich

in other words, maybe too heavy for a weekday. unless you test mattresses for a living.

oven (or toaster oven, for just a couple slices) to 350.

top bread with shaved ham, and then with thin slices of brie and bartlett pears (stuck into the folds of meat and placed on top of it). place bread on rack for a few minutes.

serve immediately after the cheese is melted to your liking. the shaved ham lends a delicate air to a heavy sandwich, but it also loses heat quickly on the way to the table.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

licorice international, in the haymarket

if you like any sort of licorice, or unusual tin boxes which might have been

(and even actually were) designed to hold licorice candy, go to this store in the haymarket and get back to your roots.

coupon in the ground zero for the oven

another buy one entree, get one entree coupon for the oven in the print version of the ground zero, in the journal star yesterday.

(the ljs should put these weekly entertainment inserts out for free at newspaper stands around town. a day after they show up in the print version of the daily physical delivery of the newspaper, of course, to reward the daily subscriber [because you don't want to poke any holes in that life raft]. having that "weekly" available around town, even just for the coupons-- coupons like the one i'm writing about, which exists only in paper and ink, and to which i can't link... and the coupon does have certain restrictions, of course; it's for dining in the restaurant and for dinner, and neither fridays nor saturdays-- well, you can see how it might be nice to grab this ink downtown, and decide to go to dinner at the oven right then, on that weekday night.)

and this is one of the leftover lunch plates from the last time the same coupon showed up in the ground zero. shallow pasta bowls are excellent flatware for leftovers of the shown consistency.

Friday, April 11, 2008

when it snows in april, everyone's irish

late- breaking pictures of a salad to serve at a st. patrick's day dinner!

shredded carrots and shredded daikon radish over arugula (the orange, white and green of the irish flag), tossed with a whiskey vinaigrette (explains itself) and topped with slivered nuts (ibid.).