0422 A Simple Chicken Pasta

I don’t know what’s happening, but I just haven’t been feeling the cooking love this last week.  Maybe this is the dénouement of the exciting wedding weekend?  Maybe I’m feeling spoiled after a few weeks of eating out on trips and with visitors?  I dunno.

The net result, though, is that we plan meals and then don’t feel like making/eating them, and THEN end up with stuff in our fridge that needs to be used before going bad.  Last night’s asparagus was intended to be eaten with pork chops, which were intended to be grilled about a week ago.  Instead they’re in the freezer, waiting to be used later in the week (perhaps) (if we don’t flake out again), and the asparagus was perfect with our snacky cheese dinner.  Tonight’s chicken breasts were intended for this recipe from Bon Appetit, but then we got lazy, and then we ate the peppers with something else, and then and then and then…sigh.

SO in the end, we had chicken and pasta.  I sliced the chicken breasts into cutlets and browned them in the cast iron skillet with garlic and a little butter.  While the pasta was boiling, I melted some of last night’s City Goat in the skillet, then tossed it with the pasta and served it immediately.  Simple and flavorful, and on the table in under 30 minutes.  I suppose if this is what ‘not cooking’ looks like in our house, we’re still doing better than most.

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0421 A Message from the Universe

The universe wanted us to eat cheese tonight.  We had other dinner plans, but when a cheese board and a set of cheese knives arrived in the mail from Kristen and Lyle, I thought, hmm, maybe we should use these with the City Goat we picked up at the Creamery!

…and then there was a knock at the door, which was the Fed Ex man delivering a bottle of champagne from Mel and Ray.  So that was that, we were having cheese and snacks for dinner.  A round of City Goat with a layer of roasted red peppers.  The last of a wonderful Gouda picked up at the Deli a week or so ago.    Slices of Paesano and focaccia warmed in the oven.  The last of the market asparagus, blanched then topped with flakes of sea salt.  A bowl of muscat grapes, sweet as candy.  Not a large meal, but a flavorful one.

0420 Steak Sarnies

I was vegetarian for ~6 years, and have only recently started eating beef again after 13 years away.  I mention this because tonight I made my second steak EVER.  EVER.  The last one was prepared maybe 9 years ago for a meat-eating ex as a Valentine’s or maybe birthday treat.  I was living in the first 12th Street apartment, and I remember carefully consulting my Joy of Cooking to figure out what the hell I was doing.  I had just started getting into cooking – at this point fresh packaged pasta and a sauce other than straight-up marinara was a fancy home-cooked meal – so who knows how that steak turned out.  I certainly don’t recall.

Tonight’s steak, on the other hand, was delicious.  After some consultation with my Plum Market butcher friends, I picked up a piece of flank steak, then sliced it thin and grilled it quickly on the cast iron grill pan.  We made quick sandwiches with the steak and a handful of arugula on slices of toasted Paesano spread with coarse ground mustard and a bit of mayonnaise.  The sandwiches were hearty and satisfying, especially with a Spotted Cow and some tangy cornichons on the side.  While I’m not sure that steak sarnies will enter our regular meal rotation, the simplicity of this dinner reminded me that a good sandwich is a beautiful thing.

Recipe:
Steak Sarnies from Happy Days with the Naked Chef

0419 Free Birthday Eats

Today was Shane’s 30th birthday, so it worked out well that I was ordered to call in sick.  I don’t have any extra vacation time at the moment, but my boss wouldn’t hear of me not taking time off for the wedding and told me that she’d be very angry if she heard that I was at work.  So, “sick” I am.

We started off Shane’s quest for free stuff by getting breakfast at Angelo’s – or at least we tried to get breakfast at Angelo’s.  After a maze of one ways and miserable parking options, we gave up and went to Northside.  We’d both slept in, so by this point we both felt like this:

Birthday Shane is Grumpy

Yeah, yeah, I know the white balance is off. But that’s how we were feeling. Once breakfast was on its way, though, Shane was much happier. Northside offers a free entree on your birthday, so Shane had the Morning Eggdition and a great orange juice:

Morning Eggdition

Full of breakfast, we moved on to do the Zingerman’s sweep. First, a half dozen free bagels at Zingerman’s Deli:

Bagels @ Zingerman's Deli

Then on to the Zing compound south of town, where we posed as funny bakers:

A Baking Scene

and Shane got a free coffee at Zingerman’s Coffee Company, free gelato at Zingerman’s Creamery, and another half dozen bagels at Zingerman’s Bakehouse, for a full (delicious) dozen:

Last of the Zing Haul

On our way home, we stopped to get a free “creation” at Cold Stone Creamery:

Free "Creation" @ Cold Stone

We took a break after all that snacking and ice cream sampling – I went for a run, and Shane buzzed around on his moped.  In the late afternoon, we headed out for a second round of free stuff, though I forgot the camera and so don’t have photographic evidence to support the claims of:

All told, a delicious day of eight separate instances of free things, and a great way to end our really fantastic weekend.

0418 Pizza at Dark Horse



Dark Horse Brewery, originally uploaded by Ben B Miller.

Our first morning as man and wife started with breakfast in bed: bacon, coffee, and Law and Order – a new episode, even! If this is what married life is like, I’m awfully glad we’re giving it a try. Also please let the record show that our first dance as husband and wife took place at Dark Horse when Mike played This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) on the jukebox.

While we’re on the subject of Dark Horse, let me just say that the portabella pizza? Top notch. It took awhile to arrive on our table, but when it did, we dug in with gusto. Thin crispy crust, delicious cheese, and savory mushrooms and pesto – all good stuff. On a strictly aesthetic note, we also appreciated that the pizza was cut into squares – better for sharing and for pacing yourself while also enjoying a Double Crooked Tree or two. Not that any of us did that, of course. Nooo.

0417 Wedding Dinner OMG

So hey guys? We got married!  I’ll save the whole story for later, as I feel you need to see the photos to understand how damned cold it was, so for now, let’s focus on the food.

0417 Wedding Dinner!

After we very nearly froze our married asses off on the beach makin’ it legal, we shared a really excellent dinner at Mia + Grace with a selection of our nearest and dearest.  I owe a great big thank you to Jamie and her staff for getting us in early and plying us with bottomless cups of coffee, desperately needed to warm our icy little hands.  I wish I’d gotten more photos of dinner, but I didn’t, so I’ll do my best to give you a flavor:

First, we shared several plates of local cheeses, preserves, and crackers.  Slices of cumin-studded leyden, a black-pepper rolled ball of chevre, a wedge of brie, and a creamy Gouda-esque cheese whose name I’ve forgotten.  Cubes of berry (elderberry? blackberry? both?) geleé.  A smear of quince preserves.  Small bites of honeycomb in the center of the plate.  Peppery homemade crackers.

I had the flattened chicken (pictured above) for my entree – Shane enjoyed the pecan-crusted trout, and the vegetarians among us had handmade cavatelli.  My chicken was pounded flat, dredged and fried, and topped with a Gorgonzola cream sauce, candied lemon zest, and red onion jam, all of which arrived atop a flavorful mash of sweet potatoes and carrots.  I shared half of my chicken with my brother so that I could eat all of the veg – and the cake coming after.  A fantastic combination of savory, sweet, and tart.

The trout was served atop vegetables and black rice, and surrounded by a orange-rosemary butter sauce.  Shane’s uncle was disappointed that he couldn’t get lemon or tartar sauce, but that didn’t stop him – or anyone else – from digging in and thoroughly enjoying a moist and flavorful piece of fish.  We had pre-ordered, and my dad seemed to regret not getting the fish once he heard the full description.  I don’t blame him.

Neither of us had the pasta, so I can’t give you the full scoop – but when Shane had it two months ago, the sauce was warm and rich, and the pasta fresh and delicious.   Everything on the plate was made in-house, and the dish was entirely vegan, though not when served with the Italian sausage (as on the menu).

I really couldn’t believe that anyone had room for dessert, but we managed to put away slices of the most dense and wonderful carrot cake I’ve had in a very long time – the one thing I’d been firm about when we were picking our menu.  The cream cheese frosting was thick but not overwhelming, and the layers of cake were full of nuts, fruit, and chewy carrot.  I wish we’d split a slice so that we could’ve had more for later – but alas, we’ll just have to pay Mia + Grace another visit for more.

On the whole, a wonderful meal in good company, and one that proved that New American cuisine can make happy even the pickiest palate.