Saturday, October 22, 2011

A week's worth of cooking

We had a house guest, Ron, for nearly a week. The visit prompted much cooking, much eating, and loads of walking around the city. The first bout of cooking involved making another batch of sourdough flapjacks. Mein gott, those are tasty. They were good fuel for a day's worth of walking around downtown San Francisco, Chinatown, and the Haight. Ron had frozen four Montana-sized steaks and brought them with him on the plane. We marinated them in wine and garlic for a couple of hours before heaving them onto the grill. They were an inch and a half thick and the size of most of a dinner plate. I ate about a third of mine before giving up. Ron wanted surf and turf, so I grilled some prawns:

Easy Grilled Prawns for 4
2 pounds fresh prawns
3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
Sprig of fresh mint, leaves removed from stem and minced
Juice of 2 limes
1 tablespoon olive oil (plus more for grill pan)
Salt and pepper to taste

Shell and de-vein the prawns. Rinse them and place in a small bowl.
Toss prawns with minced garlic and mint and a small splash of oil. Toss and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
When you are ready to grill the prawns, remove bowl from refrigerator and string 5-6 prawns each onto metal or wooden skewers.
Place lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper into a small bowl and whisk. Set beside stove along with a pastry brush for basting.
Place grill pan, ridges side up, onto stove and heat over medium high flame. Oil well. When the grill pan is searing hot, baste the prawn skewers with the lime juice mixture and put them onto the grill pan. You can do all of this on the barbecue grill if it's not occupied with steaks, as ours was.

Grill skewered prawns, basting a few times as you go, until they have a slight crust and grill marks, then flip and do the same on the other side. Don't cook them too long, or they'll become tough. Remove skewers to a platter, taste one prawn and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Ron also made a ripe tomato salad with feta, tarragon, and arugula. He dressed it with lemon and olive oil. It was quite a feast!

Later in the week, when my husband the hunky scientist asked for dinner that would result in lunchable leftovers, I made a couscous salad. You can hardly go wrong with a couscous salad: Cook the couscous according to package directions. Toss and set aside if you want a warm salad; otherwise refrigerate until cool and then toss again. Meanwhile, prep whatever veggies you want to include. I was making a warm salad, so I chopped 6  scallions, minced 2 garlic cloves, and washed, stemmed and tore up 2 bunches of of kale. I sauteed the onion and garlic until the onion was slightly soft, then tossed in the kale, stirred and turned until the kale was coated in oil, and let it cook down until it was tender but still a bit crispy. I removed the veggie mixture from the pan and tossed it into the bowl with the couscous. Then I added a couple handfuls of dried cherries, chopped up some almonds and pecans and added that to the bowl, crumbled some feta and tossed that in as well, and seasoned with salt and pepper. It made a good dinner. It's great for breakfast, too -- just hard boil an egg, chop it, and toss it into the couscous salad for a protein boost.

I've nearly caught you up on my cooking for the week. I'll finish by giving you the recipes for one of my favorite weekend breakfast dishes, and one of our favorite ways to use leftover chicken breasts for a lovely lunch or light dinner. Like the recipe for couscous salad above, these are "formula" recipes, so you can use your own discretion when putting them together.

Buckwheat Porridge with Fruit, Nuts, and Yogurt
Buckwheat groats
Fresh and dried fruit
Plain or flavored yogurt
Maple sugar or honey

For each serving of buckwheat porridge...
In a saucepan, heat 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup of buckwheat groats and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Stir, lower heat, and simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until buckwheat is tender and water is absorbed.

Meanwhile, chop up whatever fruit you might have on hand. This morning, I went with white peaches and apples. Place portions of chopped fruit into serving bowls. Add any dried fruit you might desire. I love using golden raisins or dried cherries or cranberries. Roughly chop whatever nuts you'd like, and sprinkle into each bowl. Now portion out the cooked buckwheat on top of the fruit and nuts in each bowl. Top with a dollop of yogurt and some maple syrup or honey, if you'd like. If you're using flavored yogurt, you'll likely not need any sweetener.

This breakfast always fuels me for a good half a day. Enjoy!

Curried Chicken Salad
2 chilled chicken breasts
Crisp veggies of choice
Dried fruit of choice
Nuts of choice
Apple cider vinegar
Sweet curry
Salt, sugar, pepper to taste

For the salad
Cut chicken breasts into medium dice and place in a large bowl.
Chop vegetables into small dice; shred cabbage if using (today I did use red cabbage, along with radishes). Add to chicken in bowl. Chop apple into small pieces and add to the small mountain of ingredients in your bowl. Throw in a couple handfuls of nuts (today I used salted pistachios). Add dried fruit (today I used golden raisins).

For the dressing
Scoop about half a cup or so of mayonnaise into a bowl. Add enough apple cider vinegar to make a dressing that has the consistency of cream. Add enough curry to make the dressing a deep golden color, plus a pinch of salt and a smaller pinch of sugar. Stir and taste. You'll want the dressing to have a strong curry taste, so add more curry if the dressing is bland. Once you have the dressing the way you want it, pour it over the salad, toss well, and serve.

No comments: