November 2014 in food

This is everything (of note) that I ate this month, including our Thanksgiving feast. I didn’t do very much cooking in the first half of November because Robin was visiting and was my “house bitch”… so I got several nice home-cooked meals without having to do any work. 🙂 There were also several dishes that I made multiple times and didn’t bother taking pictures of each time — e.g., I made the pork prik khing curry 2x, the sweet potato ice cream 2x, and variations of savory oatmeal 3+ times.

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farrotto with acorn squash and kale
recipe: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2014/10/farrotto-with-acorn-squash-and-red-russian-kale.html
notes/modifications: added about 1 cup of white wine to fhe farrotto (in addition to the 2 quarts of broth), used regular kale instead of red russian kale, and used olive oil instead of butter. I also used standard vegetable broth, not the from-scratch broth that is recommended with the recipe. This was pretty tasty, but was a lot of effort. I’d be interested in trying other farro/farrotto recipes, but probably won’t make this one again. I will happily make the acorn squash puree again though… that was super easy and super delicious!

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baked eggs in avocado
recipe: http://lifehacker.com/5881942/bake-an-egg-in-an-avocado-for-a-fast-and-healthy-breakfast-treat
notes/modifications: I sprinkled the top with some salt/garlic/onion powder, then topped with a drizzle of sriracha after they came out of the oven. I baked them for 18 minutes, which was a little too long — the yolks were essentially done. When I opened up the oven at 15 minutes the eggs still looked a little too jiggly in their avocado cups… so maybe next time I’ll check at the 16 minute mark?
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pasta bolognese, two ways 
recipe: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/pasta-bolognese—qfs
notes/modifications: pardon the rather silly picture… I was having fun playing around with my Diptic app. 🙂 Chris and I have been trying to do some “long distance cooking” — we pick a recipe, and then make it together over Skype. (We also did this last month with the bacon & pumpkin pasta recipe.) Mine is on the left — I roasted up a spaghetti squash to eat the bolognese with instead of pasta and I also subbed half and half for the heavy cream because I didn’t feel like buying some just for this recipe. Very tasty… but given the ingredients, how could it not be? Chris’s is on the right — he used actual pasta (spaghetti) and heavy cream in his.

coconut flour pumpkin bars
recipe: http://detoxinista.com/2013/11/coconut-flour-pumpkin-bars/
notes/modifications: This was just okay. The pumpkin part tasted pumpkin pie-like, but in a very boring and generic way. It wasn’t very sweet, and it was a little grainy because you don’t pass the pumpkin puree through a sieve or anything. I’m glad that I added the chocolate on top for extra sweetness and some contrast to the pumpkin flavor. Would not make these again.

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vegetarian feast for two
restaurant: ras kassa’s ethiopian restaurant
notes: this was pretty good, but not anything to particularly rave about. I always seem to get the vegetarian combo plates, and I invariably only ever love one of the things on the plate! (It’s the red blob of lentils at the 12 o’clock position in the photo… I think it’s yemisir wot.) I thought this particular plate was a little heavy on the potatoes/beets/root vegetables, and a little light on the legume offerings. It was also a little strange to get a scoop of goat cheese with the dish — I’ve never had that before and am not sure if it’s a traditional accompaniment. I’ll go back, probably for the lunch buffet.

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potato leek soup
recipe: none, Robin’s creation
notes: Really satisfying and surprisingly creamy without having dairy! The soup consisted of red potatoes, leek, carrot, rosemary, and some other spices. She garnished it with a touch of rice wine vinegar, greek yogurt, and parsley.

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lemony cod with sauteed red onions and swiss chard
recipe: none, Robin’s creation
notes: the red onions were really nice in this… I don’t think I usually think to pair onions with fish. Will need to look for inspirational recipes that incorporate those two together…

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egg tacos with salsa verde
recipe: none, Robin’s creation
notes: I love breakfast tacos!

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smoked brisket sandwich with bbq and swiss
restaurant: Snarf’s 
notes: THIS WAS SO AMAZING! I’d heard of Snarf’s being really good, but I was always underwhelmed by their menu — I tend to like fancier, more gourmet sandwiches. But then when Robin was visiting she went to Snarf’s and raved about it so we went to go check it out. She got the vegetarian sandwich (avocado, sprouts, and provolone) and I got the smoked brisket. It was just a really well made, super delicious sandwich. I immediately signed up to join Snarfer Nation after my experience. 🙂

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chocolate almond doughnut (vegan, gluten-free)
restaurant: Jet’s Espressoria 
notes: Robin also raved about this coffee shop/doughnut so she brought me one to try. Very delicious, and perfect with some tea. I’ve walked by Jet’s *so* many times — it’s right around the corner from BOCO FIT — but have never gone in before.

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jasmine rice with bacon, kimchi, and a poached egg
recipe: my own
notes: cooked some sliced onions in bacon fat, then added jasmine rice and water and cooked until done. Added some peas, fish sauce and rice wine vinegar to the rice. Topped with sliced bacon, kimchi, and a poached egg, garnished with parsley and a dollop of gochujang.

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savory miso oatmeal with kimchi, burdock floss, scallions, and a poached egg
recipe: my own
notes: Robin made me savory oatmeal during her visit and I was inspired. 🙂 I don’t like sweet oatmeal but am very happy with how savory oatmeal tastes! I sautéed half an onion in some sesame oil, then added oatmeal, water, some soy sauce, and chickpea miso.

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quick coconut-saffron ice cream 
recipe: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2008/09/quick-coconut-ice-cream-with-saf/
notes/modifications: I added several pinches of salt, because I love salty saffron ice creams. The texture is not the best — it’s a bit crumbly — but I love the flavor!

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sweet potato ice cream with oatmeal praline 
sweet potato ice cream recipe: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home
oatmeal praline recipe: The Perfect Scoop
notes: I’ve been wanting to try Jeni’s ice cream techniques for a while — she uses cream cheese, corn/tapioca starch, and corn syrup in lieu of the standard egg custard ice cream base. She also calls for you to rapidly cool the ice cream base down by putting it in a ziplock bag and plunging it into an ice water bath, but I just put my base in the fridge and let it cool overnight, like I usually do. The ice cream is a really great texture — very smooth and creamy, and very scoopable.

modifications: I made this with an Okinawan purple sweet potato because I wanted to make purple ice cream. After I finished cooking/blending the sweet potatoes they were an awesome bright purple color. Unfortunately, I misjudged how much adding two tablespoons of molasses would change that and turn it into a mauve brown color… next time, I probably wouldn’t add molasses. I added vanilla extract and next time might put in a touch more salt. Jeni’s recipe calls for making marshmallows from scratch and torching them before mixing them into the ice cream. I thought about doing this (using store-bought marshmallows) but it was snowing and I didn’t feel like going out so I went with the oatmeal praline instead. I’m really happy with how the praline came out… I love the little crunchy nuggets in the ice cream. 🙂

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sweet potato ice cream with oatmeal praline, version ii 
notes: same as above, but I made it with only one tablespoon of molasses instead of two and it stayed a much more vibrant purple. (I don’t think the photo really depicts the color accurately — the first ice cream photo was taken in natural lighting, while the second was taken in fluorescent.) Chris prefers the ice cream this way, because he felt 2 tablespoons of molasses was overwhelming. I also didn’t bring the mixture to a rolling boil again after adding the sugar/molasses/heavy cream — I just used my immersion blender to make it all homogeneous (I thought the mixture was warm enough anyway to dissolve the sugar) — and it came out perfectly fine.

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pork prik khing with jasmine sticky rice 
recipe: my own
notes/modifications: This was a very inauthentic but also very delicious dish! I sautéed some curry paste in coconut oil, added ground pork and about a cup of water and continued to cook until done. Then I added two tablespoons each of sugar and fish sauce, and a whole bunch (I guesstimated) of frozen green beans. Stirred around until the beans were cooked. Made a cornstarch + water slurry and added to the curry to thicken it up a bit. Finished with two tablespoons of lime juice and some cilantro. I also didn’t steam the jasmine sticky rice because I don’t own a steamer — just cooked it in water with a little salt and a few spoonfuls of coconut oil.

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chocolate mint melties 
recipe: http://viveleveganrecipes.blogspot.com/2007/12/chocolate-mint-melties.html
notes: I discovered Dreena Burton’s cookie recipes when I first embarked on vegan baking. I’d always had really great success with them — after a friend tried one, she said that they were so good they made her feel like it was “okay to go vegan” because yummy vegan baked goods were possible! I haven’t made any vegan cookies (or any of Dreena’s recipes) in the last four years, but I wanted to show Chris what vegan baked goods could be like… because every time I brought up vegan sweets, he’d talk about a particularly awful vegan cookie experience from the Union Square Greenmarket. I was a little worried that these wouldn’t be as delicious as I’d remembered, or that maybe my taste buds were “off” when I was vegan but it was all good. Chris’s verdict on these: “This is a damn fine cookie.”

modifications: For a double batch, I doubled everything in this recipe except for the baking soda and the baking powder, which I kept at 1.5x of the single-batch size. Made these with Endangered Species chocolate-mint bars. Subbed corn syrup for the agave nectar because I didn’t have any agave, didn’t feel like using more maple, and wanted to keep these vegan so I didn’t want to use honey. Used a 1.5 tablespoon scoop to divvy out cookie dough.

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pao de queijo
restaurant: Little Brazil
notes/modifications: We got pao de queijo, feijoada, Brazilian chicken stroganoff, and graviola juice. Little Brazil is a hole-in-the-wall place that I think might be the only Brazilian market/grocery in the Denver area. They stopped table seating at 6:30pm so we got take-out and ate in the car… the pao de queijo is the only think I managed to get a picture of because we ate everything else too quickly. The pao de queijo was also the best thing that we got — it was especially good dipped in a little bit of hot sauce. 🙂

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prime rib & provolone sandwich 
restaurant: Snarf’s
notes/modifications: I’d talked up Snarf’s so much that I had to take Chris there during his visit. He approved. 🙂 All told, I went to Snarf’s three times this month!

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apple cider doughnut muffins
notes/modifications: I made these as regular sized muffins, not mini — baked for 15 minutes and came out perfectly! It tasted exactly as one would expect: slightly spiced, soft with a plushy muffin interior, finished with some cinnamon sugar crunch on top. They were definitely best straight out of the oven — they got a little dried out by the second day.

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greek marinated chicken with lemony-garlic roasted potatoes and steamed asparagus 
notes: This dish wasn’t very visually appealing, but it smelled and tasted great — we halved the marinade but kept the amount of garlic the same. For the asparagus I just rigged up my giant skillet with a trivet and plate and steamed the asparagus for about 5 minutes. The potatoes got tossed with olive oil + lemon zest + lemon juice + garlic + parsley and roasted at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

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slow baked salmon with lemon and thyme, mashed potatoes, and steamed green beans  
notes: I was so pleased with MacGyvering my skillet into a steamer that I decided to steam some green beans as well! I used dried dill (1.5 teaspoons) instead of fresh thyme for the salmon recipe.

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thanksgiving meal!
– lemon, garlic, and herb turkey (the dry brine was based on this recipe
– turkey gravy (based on this recipe
– roasted sweet potatoes (based on this recipe
– steamed green beans 
– box-mix stuffing 
– mashed potatoes (no recipe) 
Notes: the only thing about this meal that I wish had come out better was the stuffing. We went with box-mix stuffing to save time — and it did save a lot of time and prep, but it was a little crumbly and dry. 😦 Turkey is always delicious, as are mashed potatoes, and I was quite pleased with how the gravy came out. I was a little disappointed in the roasted sweet potatoes, but I also didn’t really follow the recipe and par-cook the sweet potatoes before roasting — I just put them right into the oven raw. The runaway best part of the meal were the candied sweet potatoes, which really surprised me because I’m not usually big on them as a Thanksgiving side! We had an extra sweet potato though, and Chris wanted to try making them “his way.” (I think he saw me prepping the roasted sweet potatoes and was skeptical of the salt, pepper, and parsley I was sprinkling on top.) These candied yams were sooo addictive and good and wonderful!
Not shown in the picture: the store-bought pumpkin pie that we ate after some TV and napping.
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