0725 A Day of Improv Meals

Breakfast: sausages, an asiago bagel sliced into four pieces of toast, fried eggs for Shane and slices of tomato for me.  Weekend Edition Sunday and the puzzle.  Coffee.  A late morning attempt at geocaching turned into half an hour of wandering in the woods.  Who knew that we could wander in the woods without leaving our neighborhood?

Lunch: I had intended to riff on this recipe for dinner last night, but we ate at weird hours, and so pushed this back to today.  While I prepped and grilled mushrooms, zucchini, and a purple pepper on our grill pan, Shane picked basil and whipped up a quick batch of pesto.  We spread ricotta on toast, then topped it with pesto or fresh basil, piles of vegetables, and a drizzle of balsamic crema.  Soo good, especially followed by a moped ride downtown, walking around in the sunshine, and froyo from Lab.

Dinner: We picked up more chickens from Back 40 yesterday, but neither of us felt like chicken.  We did, however, feel like end-of-the-fridge snacks: corn on the cob, edamame, asiago from last week’s snack dinner, an assortment of pickles, and homemade beet chips using wee beets from our garden and a recipe from the Spanish cookbook.  They started out as small colorful coins:

Beet Chips Before

And after a short swim in very hot oil, they ended up like this:

Beet Chips After

Not really big enough to dip in the salt-and-peppered ricotta, but totally delicious anyway.  A fine way to end a fine weekend – and also another recipe knocked off of the Spanish cookbook challenge.

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0208 Bay Scallops with Citrus and Dried Herbs

Recently I requested Mario Batali Simple Italian Food from the public library – and the thoughtful catalog suggested I might also be interested in Andrew Carmellini’s Urban Italian.  Sure, why not?  Carmellini, like Batali, preaches the gospel of stripped-down, unfussy Italian cooking – delicious, rustic stuff that make take all day, or might be thrown together in half an hour.  The book is peppered with personal anecdotes, funny in-phrases from his restaurant, and suggestions about how to make the process of making his recipes even easier.  It was in this spirit that I decided to tackle scallops for the first time ever.

0208 Bay Scallops with Citrus and Dried Herbs

At first blush, the recipe for Bay Scallops with Citrus and Dried Herbs couldn’t be much easier.  Pat the scallops dry, then dust them with a mixture of herbs and flour.  Cook them quickly with a bit of oil, then set aside.  Done and done.  It was the sauce that was a bit fancy – the Cara Cara orange had to be peeled, segmented, and supremed (which, it turns out, is easier to do prior to the peeling and segmenting), which I’d never done before and which I’m glad I noticed in the directions BEFORE I started cooking.  See, I’m learning!  After removing the scallops, the pan is deglazed with orange juice, which is reduced until thin.  Whisk in a bit of butter, add the supremed oranges, and toss the whole lot with the scallops just before serving.  I made a quick bag of edamame, which provided a nice and salty counterpoint to the sweetness of the sauce.  We both really liked the scallops, though Shane would’ve preferred a different sauce.  Next time!  This time, however, I felt pretty bad-ass for producing a totally new dish, a side (albeit a pre-fab one), and a sauce in about half an hour on a weeknight.

Recipe:
Bay Scallops with Citrus and Dried Herbs from Urban Italian

0126 Edamame

Tonight’s dinner was exceptionally simple. I came home early and went straight to bed – my body’s trying to recharge from my blood donation yesterday, which shouldn’t be that difficult but I’m prone to fatigue and low iron levels normally, so this has really wiped me out. When I woke up, Shane was still out, and I wanted something green, so I steamed a packet of edamame from the freezer, tossed it with some salt, and at the whole thing, pod by pod, while reading my book.

There’s something quite satisfying about a meal that requires more time to eat than it takes to prepare – there’s no rushing through it, no matter how many pods you can stuff in your mouth.  I enjoyed the pace of my snack-like meal, popping open each salty pod, then adding it to a careful stack in a small bowl next to me.

0126 Edamame