Monday, November 29, 2010

Meatless Monday: Split Pea Soup


I didn't think to make veg split-pea soup because ... the regular stuff's a bit gross. Most of the versions I've had all looked like muck (or possibly slime), with a consistency to match their appearance. They also tasted like nothing at all other than ham, so taking the ham out of them would've left you with under-seasoned bean slurry.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving in Detroit

Even in Detroit, it's the most wonderful time of the year. When I pull out my box of November cooking magazines and pore over them, searching for the right mixture of tried-and-true and wtf-are-you-actually-adding-Thai curry-to-that? I burn through about 50 Post-Its and narrow the list by asking which dishes will create the most delight for my guests. I push the envelope of my own skill set, but balance the menu with things I know I can turn out with my eyes closed and one arm tied behind my back.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Meatless Monday: Vegan Slaw

Note: the friends for whom I cook are an essential part of Gasstronomy, but even more valuable are the friends who teach me how to cook. I've asked kitchen sage (pun very well intended) Flynn to bless us with a weekly lesson, from her own flavorful corner of the world, Vegetarianland. Once skeptic, I am now converted. Flynn's meatless style yields more flavor, better than most I have ever seen. Very tasty, indeed. 
D is letting me do a Meatless Mondays post, but she might not have if she knew that I was going to talk at length about slaw. I can’t get into mayonnaise, but I chow down on vegan coleslaw, oh, two or three times a week. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Chickpeas, Fennel, Bell Pepper, and Grapes

...and brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favorite things.
There is so much good in this one easy dish. Bell peppers are my favorite vegetable--particularly the red ones. Grapes, when roasted, take on an entirely ethereal sweetness and juciness.  They actually burst in your mouth, like some sort of natural Gushers fruit snack. And fennel, with it's crispness and slight anise/black licorice flavor is a new muse of mine. Filling, hearty chickpeas combine with these to ground the whole thing.

The health benefits of each of these ingredients are also astounding. Scientists and nutritionists agree grapes and bell peppers are two of the best things you can eat--I'll leave it at that.

This goes great with roast pork or chicken, or just eaten straight off the pan. Did I mention this comes together in about 5 minutes? 

Recipe, from Whole Living by Martha Stewart

Serves 6
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 head fennel
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 pound seedless large red grapes
  • 1 14-oz. can chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (I use less than 1 Tb)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (I use dried)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Thinly slice garlic. Halve and thinly slice fennel, leaving the core intact. Stem and seed bell peppers, and cut into 1/2-inch slices. Divide vegetables, grapes, and chickpeas, rinsed and drained, between two rimmed baking sheets.
  2. Drizzle each sheet with oil and toss with oregano, salt, and pepper, to taste.
  3. Place in oven and roast, rotating sheets once, until vegetables are golden brown and grapes are beginning to burst, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove vegetables and any pan juices; transfer to a serving platter. Serve warm.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Open-faced BLE

Some people are good at hiding their emotions. I am not one of them.

A few years ago I was at a grocery store sandwich counter for lunch with my boss. I was expecting the usual smorgasboard of options--Iceberg, American, green bell pepper. So, I couldn't hide my delight when I saw the premium upgrades before me. I could get brie! I could get chutney.  And finally, I couldn't hold back, I practically yelled:

"Oh my God, they have ARUGULA!". The unnecessarily excited exclamation was (justifiably) brought up frequently thereafter. In meetings, emails, and phone calls, and of course, client dinners.

This peppery, healthy lettuce is great in hot dishes like pasta, pizza, or panini. It's equally wonderful in cold salads.

The slightly bitter taste plays out well in this easy breakfast sandwich.

French baguette, day-old is fine
2 eggs
2 strips of bacon
Lots of ARUGULA!
Black pepper

Cook the bacon however you like it. I use turkey bacon. 

To get the eggs oozy and blissful, start by heating well the skillet. Add butter and wait till foam subsides, indicating it's very hot. Carefully crack eggs into the pan and pepper well.

To set the top of the eggs, you can either flip them (it can be tricky) or cover the pan for a few minutes.

Slice the baguette lengthwise and heat, cut side down in the leftover bacon skillet (YUM) or in a toaster.

Layer baguette with bacon, ARUGULA!, and (carefully) added fried eggs.

Monday, November 15, 2010

John's Fiance-Maker Tuna and Peas

John and I first met at a Mardi Gras parade, and hung out for the next 12 hours, spanning another parade, a house party, a front-yard party, and eventually closing down the old college favorite, The Boot.