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Spring Cleaning

Posted: March 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Dinner | Tags: , , | No Comments »

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Afternoon!

It’s Monday again, and tonight is erev Pesach (the first night of Passover). I’m sad that I’m not going to be home with my family this year – this is the first seder that will be at my grandmother’s new house, and I’m sorry to miss the occasion.

Mostly I’ll miss my family, but I’ll certainly be missing the food: chopped liver on Tam-Tams, gefilte fish with a massive amount of horseradish my mom’s charoset (the fruit and nut concoction that represents the "mortar" that the Jewish slaves in Egypt used), my grandmother’s matzoh ball soup (the woman is a soup queen – this is second only to her kreplach (dumpling) soup that she makes for Rosh Hashanah), and the fluffy lemon meringue concoction that my aunt Maryanne makes. 

I also love the sephardic dishes and customs that make appearances (we are a "mixed" family), including my favorite: bimuelos – little fried passover ‘donuts’ made of matzoh, honey, and cinnamon. And then the moroccan tradition of passing the seder plate above everyone’s heads as a reminder of the burdens that we carried as slaves in Egypt.

This morning I ate some of my leftover ‘chametz’ (aka forbidden foods of Pesach) – oatmeal, with some milk, brown sugar, and delicious fresh spring strawberries from Swanton Berry Farm. And the last of my gingerbread coffee.

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I’m still planning my Passover foods for the next week: I’m going to roast a chicken, make my mom’s "matzah pasta" – a lasagna type chicken dish with matzah instead of noodles, and most likely some brisket.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been thrown off by the changing of the seasons, and what the heck I’m going to do with my life (perhaps the root of my anxiety), and sometime during my nervous fits I remembered that I have to enjoy life right now, and might as well just get on with my business.

And then at some point this week I read a very nice Spring to Do List by Alice Q. Foodie, and I’ve working to create my own list of the little things that I want to do that make me happy.

:: Cook bright spring meals, hike to the top of Bernal hill a few times, drive down the 1 to the beach, do more yoga, make lemonade, read more books, clean my apartment, walk, lose those last 10 pounds, spend more time with friends, try lots of new cheese (and take notes)… well, lots in moderation…, find hidden away tea spots in San Francisco, spend more time learning – about anything really. Just learning.

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So last night, in an effort to enjoy my Spring one moment at a time, I made some Flank steak with chimichurri sauce, bulgur pilaf, and leftover Rancho Gordo Rosa de Castillo bean and farro chili.

I first was reminded about how wonderful chimichurri sauce – a green tangy Argentinian pesto-like sauce – was while reading Tara Austen Weaver’s ‘The Butcher and the Vegetarian’.  Chimichurri was lingering in the back of my mind, and then yesterday Chef John of Foodwishes posted this great little video about the sauce – and immediately went home to make some my self.

On the way back from work I stopped at Drewes’ Meats to pick up some Marin Sun Farms flank steak, which I promptly took home and seasoned with a dash of sea salt, a teaspoon of cumin, and a teaspoon of cayenne (both fresh new acquisitions from Rainbow). While I let that sit, I put some water to boil and then once boiling added my bulgur, and set the timer for 20 minutes. I admit it – I have lots of fresh bulgur on hand, but I’ve been using these Near East Whole Grain Blends Wheat Pilaf because they taste fantastic. 

I then made my chimichurri in the blender – a couple of big handfuls of parsley, a few cloves of garlic, a pinch of sea salt, a few glugs of white wine vinegar, a few glugs of olive oil, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. No real measurements, just a bit of this, a bit of that, taste and adjust. I get it to about the consistency of a pesto, perhaps a little chunkier.

I put the steak on the grill pan that I preheated midway through chimichurri making, and grilled the steak for about 5 minutes on one side, and then 3 on the other. Then I took it off to rest for a few minutes while I heated up the chili and plated it on top of the bulgur. At the last minute, after resting, I sliced really thinly against the grain, (not with the grain, otherwise you’d be chewing each piece for hours). I layed the slices on the plate, doused it with the bright green sauce, and we dug in.

Chimichurri is a sauce that is useful for everything – you can put it on salmon, pasta, chicken, roasted vegetables, you name it. But it tasted particularly good on this flank steak. It was exactly what I wanted. It’s going to be exactly what you want too – I’d highly recommend experimenting with the stuff.


Spring is Here!

Posted: March 23rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Dinner | No Comments »

I love springtime!

This morning I waited for my farm box to arrive. I haven’t been able to go to the farmers’ market for the past few weeks, so Ive been relying on the farm box for my source of fresh, seasonal vegetables to remind me that spring is really here! While I waited, I made myself a cup of freshly ground and brewed Ritual Roasters coffee, (with my new coffee grinder, huzzah!) and a small bowl of brown rice with some chia seeds and maple syrup. It’s a bit of an odd combination, but it was filling and tasted good.

The box finally arrived, and I unpacked the contents, giddy at the possibilities. The fresh asparagus and baby lettuce caught my eye, and I headed off to work looking forward to coming back in the evening and being able to cook!

At lunch I had a few cups of kasha (toasted buckwheat groats). Kasha (toasted buckwheat groats) is a common grain from eastern Europe that has a nice bite, and is slightly nutty in taste. My dad used to make kasha varnishkas – toasted buckwheat with bow-tie noodles, which was one of my favorites. I didn’t have any noodles, but I made a similar dish sautéing the buckwheat with some onions and potato (eastern european style). I also cut up an avocado I had hanging around. It made for a surprisingly good combination.

It’s always eventful at Omnivore – the door was wide open and the fresh breeze wafting through the shop – today I met (in no particular order) – an accomplished literary agent, a 9 month old named Zachary who was full of smiles, Phillip Wood – the founder of Ten Speed Press (a man with an amazing legacy), and I saw Gordo again! This is Gordo:

Sometimes my days go by so quickly I can’t believe that they are over.

I headed home, nearly skipping. Immediately as soon as I got home, I put some eggs in a pot with some water, brought it to a boil, and then turned off the heat. I knew that I wanted a fresh springy salad, and that some hard boiled eggs would be good on top. You never can go wrong with eggs, so even if I ended up deciding on something completely different, hard boiled eggs are perfect to have in the fridge.

I flipped through Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home, and then through Nigel Slater’s ‘Kitchen Diaries‘, and then Lucinda Scala Quinn’s ‘Mad Hungry, Feeding Men and Boys‘ for inspiration, before finally deciding on the contents of my salad. I wasn’t looking for a recipe, so much as inspiration, and I managed to find it.

I couldn’t wait to take out these:

And sauté them in a grill pan with a little bit of bacon. Can’t do it without the bacon! Well, you could I suppose but it wouldn’t be as blissful. I love this grill pan because it gives nice grill marks on the food, and is a useful stand-in for my tragic lack of barbecue grill. (Mine, my 21st birthday gift from my parents, is currently sitting in their garage, and gets a lot of use by them, but sadly, it’s not something easily transportable across the country.)

Reserving the pan juices for some lemon vinaigrette! Which I used to top the fresh baby romaine lettuce, grilled asparagus, and hard boiled eggs. You could call it a composed salad, I suppose. I just call it dinner, tasty, tasty dinner.

I piled it onto plates, and then topped with some leftover grilled meat that Devon brought home from work. Apparently, it was someones birthday and they had brought out the grill – although this seems to happen quite often over there. Which leads me to believe that I’m working in the wrong business. Or maybe I can convince Celia to purchase a little hibachi for me to barbecue things outside the store. Such as bacon. Actually, that would probably attract the customers…


Combating the Munchies

Posted: March 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Breakfast, Dinner | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

 

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Last night I got 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep. In addition to my yoga yesterday session I also managed to get in about 5000 steps – it’s wonderful how good exercise can help you sleep.I probably could have slept for another two hours judging from the way I woke up completely immobilized and zonked.

This morning’s breakfast was Trader Joe’s High Fiber Oh’s, with some Straus milk. I’ve been combating the munchies over the past few days, and decided to start with something fairly sensible. Also, when I get milk, which is fairly rarely, I usually end up having cereal five days in a row.

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Last night for some reason I had the munchies. While making my dinner, I snacked on 4 of these vanilla wafer cookies. I actually avoid having snacks like this in the house, because I’m not very good at controlling myself. A little birdy left these instead of taking them to work, and so I made a bad choice. At least I cut myself off at 4.

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Dinner was Goan black-eyed pea curry from ‘5 spices, 50 dishes’ (you can read my review of the book here) It’s a really simple dish to make, and has some lovely coconut milk in it. I ate it with some rice and a really large portion of homemade chutney.

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After dinner, I still had the munchies. I made myself a bowl of oatmeal, with a spoonful of almond barney butter, a square of dark chocolate, and a square of coconut white chocolate. Not the healthiest decision. I couldn’t figure out why I was craving so much food…

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And then a  funny thing happened – sometimes you can’t figure out something until it’s staring you in the face (in this case as I looked over my blog posts). I wasn’t really sure today why I was having these food cravings – and then it occurs to me that maybe they were misplaced, as somehow I neglected to eat *any* vegetables all day long. I’ll have to remedy that today!

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