0505 Linguini with Spinach and Goat Cheese

Dinner was simple and delicious.  I made a tomato sauce last night to save time for tonight’s prep – so making dinner was as simple as warming up the sauce and boiling the pasta, then tossing a few handfuls of fresh spinach into the sauce at the last minute.  When combined and then dotted with soft goat cheese, it made for a creamy and savory bowl of happiness.  It also very effectively cleared out the last of the spinach, goat cheese, and Al Dente pasta – and to some extent redeemed spontaneous pastas from Monday’s disappointment.  With random spinach-y greens growing in our garden, I suspect you’ll see many more meals like this in the future.

Garden Greens

Recipe:
Tagliatelle, Spinach and Goats Cheese from Jamie’s Dinners

0503 Blasé Pasta

Remember that pasta we had at Logan a few months ago?  Asparagus and penne in a light cream sauce?  I think that’s what I had in mind tonight, except that I wanted to use up a couple of chicken breasts as well.  I sliced the chicken breasts and the asparagus into penne-sized pieces, then browned the chicken with a bit of garlic and butter.  I tossed the asparagus in with the penne at the very last minute, then combined the drained pasta and asparagus with the chicken and grated a whole bunch of parmesan over the top.

It was fine.  Not remarkable.  Not even particularly delicious.  Just, fine.  Shane’s going to take the leftovers tomorrow to throw in a salad along with a mustard-y vinaigrette, which sounds better to me.

0428 Michael Symon’s Macaroni and Cheese

We were given a copy of Michael Symon’s Live to Cook, the first cookbook by the Cleveland restaurateur and Iron Chef America personality of the same name.  We keep talking about going to Symon’s two restaurants in Cleveland, but the closest we’ve gotten is tonight’s macaroni and cheese.

0428 Michael Symon's Macaroni and Cheese

Yeah, yeah, I know this isn’t the most mouthwatering of photos, but do you see those bubbles?  That’s goat cheese and heavy cream, and a lot of both, and it’s bubbling up through freshly ground pepper.  And it’s delicious.

I’m not generally big on fancied up macaroni and cheese, to be totally honest.  I don’t like bread crumbs on top, and I don’t really care if it’s baked.  I don’t need four kinds of cheese, or a whole lot of accouterments to make me happy – just melted gooey goodness, with maybe some ham or peas added at the last minute.  Y’know, like this:

Best. Meal. Ever.

But I digress.

Dinner was deceptively simple.  Not quite as simple as the shells and cheese above, but much more simple than you’d expect from a fancy chef’s cookbook.  The sauce is goat cheese, rosemary, and heavy cream warmed together and reduced, with shredded chicken and your noodles stirred in towards the end.

That’s it.  No funny business.  No superfluous salt and pepper or seasoning, which struck me as a bit odd.  No pepper at all?  Really?  No pepper.  OK, so I added pepper.  And if I made this again, I would add more pepper.  I would also cut back on the sauce, and add in some vegetables, like the asparagus we served with the macaroni and cheese.

So maybe I do like my macaroni and cheese fancied up after all.

Recipe:
Macaroni and Cheese with Roasted Chicken, Goat Cheese, and Rosemary from Michael Symon’s Live to Cook

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.

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.

The Last 10 Days of Food

Gees, where to begin?  I’ve been pretty diligent about posting to date, but a weekend of friendos visiting from DC followed immediately by a mid-week trip with some of my favorite girls resulted in 10 days of nothing – and very little desire to catch up.  So here’s what I got:

Mike and Bill rolled in on the 27th, kicking off four days of beer, movies, more beer, vegetarian food, still more beer, a trip to Detroit for the guys, additional beer, dinner at Jolly Pumpkin, and oh, more beer.  I’m still not sure if I accurately captured the amount of beer that was consumed over this weekend.   This wasn’t like a woooo spring break!! kind of blow out – rather, it was a series of tastings, sharing rare or regional treats from each of their stashes.  I wish I’d taken pictures of the very serious boys taking their serious beer very seriously.  I know Shane took a picture of all of the bottles, so that’ll have to suffice.

While the boys were busy with the beer, I made a couple of tasty dinners – Butternut Squash and Fried Sage Pasta (hearty and filling, though not quite what I expected from the recipe) and tempeh tacos (always a crowd-pleaser) – and the killer spinach strata that we’d had at Shana’s on my birthday.  When the boys were late coming back from Detroit, I ate without them, then regretted it as Shane stepped up to make a really delicious Moroccan Carrot Soup (which we’re going to re-run for dinner this week).

Stradaaa

And THEN I hopped on a plane to St Louis, where my friend Erin and I collected some of the best donuts in the country and also some legendary pretzels before hitting the road to Carbondale, where we met up with Angie, Kim, and Laurie for a couple of days of hiking, snacking, napping, drinking, and relaxing with farm animals.

Fritters and Globs

In addition to delicious baked goods and a whole lot of other bad-for-us snacks, we grilled out, toasted s’mores over a campfire, and made breakfast together using two pounds of bacon and the most beautiful farm eggs I’ve seen.  We also checked out a bar and a cute breakfast place in Erin’s neighborhood and had an awesome dinner at Schlafly Bottleworks (including curry crackers that I’m committed to duplicating) on our last night in town.

Farm-fresh free range eggs

Suffice to say that the next few weeks (leading up to um, a special occasion) will should be a bit leaner on the indulgent meals – segueing nicely into the beginning of the growing season and the return of fresh things to the market.  It’s been a delicious and ridiculous ten days – and I’m very much looking forward to getting back into the kitchen and back into more normal eating.

Recipes:
Butternut Squash and Fried Sage Pasta from Self
Tempeh Tacos
Spinach and Cheese Strata from Smitten Kitchen
Moroccan Carrot Soup from Bon Appetit

0320 West Side Market

Shane’s mom suggested that we cook at home rather than going out – so we met her at Cleveland’s West Side Market to do our shopping and plan dinner. Somehow I slept terribly last night, and as a result, the market was a bit more overwhelming than it would’ve been otherwise. Like Philly’s Reading Terminal Market or the lovely North Market in Columbus, the West Side Market is a hectic maze of independent vendors selling cheese, produce, baked goods, fresh pasta, spices, and all manner of meats in preparation for various ethnic cuisines – plus places to grab a quick lunch or a cup of coffee.  We shared a very hot crêpe complète for lunch, which we hastily ate in a stairwell as we couldn’t find anywhere to sit.  Better than standing over a garbage can, I suppose.

What did we get for dinner? Fresh black pepper linguine, a loaf of bread, and a slab of butter made from the pasteurized cream used to make Parmigiano-Reggiano.  A bottle of Italian red wine (can’t remember the kind, but we liked it a great deal) picked up later in the day, and a homemade marinara.  A happy compromise, and a nice day (after I got a nap).

0318 An Off Week for Cooking

I don’t really know why we haven’t been cooking much this week, apart from the fact that we were gone on Tuesday. Maybe it’s the nice weather and trying to exercise after work? Maybe I’m just not feeling inspired by the recipes we picked while feeling simultaneously overwhelmed by the weekend’s leftovers? I don’t really know.

Tonight I prepped at SELMA, while Shane stayed home to exercise and chill out. As it turned out, he made dinner – a simple pasta with sauteed onions, garlic, and tuna – while I picked up fast food on the way home. I had planned to have dinner at SELMA, but the combined forces of wanting to get home early and also feeling woozy conspired against my desire to eat the souffle that Lisa and young Charles were working on when I left.

We’re going to visit friends and family in Cleveland for the weekend, so I think I’m going to give myself a pass on updating unless we eat something really excellent.

0310 I Have Seen the Light!

I have seen the light!  The light!  I have seen it, and it is a tiny, smelly fish. This is the second pasta I’ve made with anchovies in the last month, and I’m a convert. I ❤ tiny smelly fish.

0310 Orecchiette with Broccoli and Anchovies

This recipe was incredible!  I mean, it wasn’t that incredible, but from the first bite I was in love.  So let me break it down for you: pasta, anchovies, broccoli, garlic, a couple of chilies, and some parmigiano-reggiano.  I used a packet of Rustichella orecchiette, a traditional Italian pasta made in bronze molds and dried extremely slowly, both of which contribute to a fantastic texture and mouthfeel.  This process of pasta-making also requires a longer boil, which was actually kind of perfect for this recipe.

0310 Orecchiette with Broccoli and Anchovies

While you’re waiting for the pasta to boil, cut a couple of heads of broccoli into florets, then peel and thinly slice the stems, removing any woody parts.  When your pasta goes into the water, put the broccoli stems, a couple of cloves of minced garlic, a couple of dried chilies, and a small tin of anchovy fillets (discard the oil) into a heavy pan with a lid.  While the pasta’s doing its thing, the anchovies will melt away, giving the “sauce” a tangy, savory flavor.  Toss the broccoli florets into the pasta pot in the last few minutes of boiling, then drain the pasta and toss everything together, adding a couple of handfuls of grated parmigiano.

I am in love.  This is my new comfort food – rich and flavorful enough that we were both satisfied after one bowl, though we could’ve snacked our way through a lot more if we hadn’t immediately packaged up the leftovers.  While I’m delighted that spring is on her way, I won’t mind another cold night or two if it means I can have this dish for supper.

Recipe:
Broccoli and Anchovy Orecchiette from Happy Days with the Naked Chef

0226 A Pasta Primavera (with spring nowhere in sight)

It snowed every day this week.  I’m not exaggerating.  It was snowing when we left for work in the morning, and it was snowing if/when we went out for lunch, and then, oh yes, it was snowing when we came home from work.  I mention this because Shane suggested that we go out for dinner tonight – except that when by the time ‘tonight’ came around, there was enough snow that we knew better than to try to leave the house.  It’s not that A2 can’t handle the snow – it’s that our car can’t – but the combination of snow plus the usual ridiculous weekend traffic (think city rush-hour traffic, except on a very smaller scale) meant that a long hunt for a parking spot plus a long wait for a table were in order.  So, we stayed in.

After a week of meals, though, our fridge was looking a bit bare.  A few pieces of chicken from Sunday night’s roast.  A pepper, originally intended for a hash that didn’t get made and that was now missing ingredients.  Onions and a few cloves of garlic.  A handful of spinach.  A very hard piece of parmigiano-reggiano.  Et voila, a simple pasta primavera.  I sliced the onions and pepper into skinny strips, then slowly sauteed them with the garlic and a bit of olive oil until everything was fragrant.  When the pasta went into the water, I added some shredded chicken, moving it around with the veg and adding salt, pepper, and oregano to taste.  When the pasta was almost done, I tossed the spinach in with the veg to wilt and grated a bunch of the parmigiano over the top.  Everything came together just when Shane got home, and we enjoyed a simple meal followed by a nap.