Category Archives: Foodery

how to make a very pretty fall dinner

I am an EatingWell junkie.  I subscribe to the magazine and I use the website obsessively.  It makes me feel pleasantly psychotic to have all that exact serving size and calorie information available.  Otherwise, I pass snarky judgments on recipes.  ie “You have 2 sticks of butter.  I think you might be fattening.  But also chicken breasts!  So probably you’re just awesome.”
See, I don’t really like figuring out how many calories are in things.  Just tell me, please.

Anyway, blah blah blah.  This is a calorie appropriate dinner, typical of Chez Maggie:  it’s from EatingWell, it’s about 500 calories and it has bacon.

Katie asked for it, so here it is, recipes for the pretty dinner.

Butternut Squash Risotto
you need: 
3 cups of butternut squash chunks (2 cups big and haphazard and 1 cup nicely diced)
3 1/2 cups of chicken broth
2 cups of Arborio rice
5 oz of bacon, cooked and crumbled (and save the fat!)
2 Tbs chopped parsley

you do:
-optional extra credit – start by simmering away the squashy gut stuff in your broth for maximum squash flavor.  strain that stuff out before starting to ladle the broth into your rice.
-put the 2 cups of big-chunked squash with 2 1/2 cups of water in a sauce pan (big enough for all this squash, water and later, the broth).  bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes, then take off the heat and let it sit covered for another 5 minutes.  use an immersion blender to blend this up into a baby food type puree.  (or use a food processor)
-take 1/4 cup of this puree out of the pan and set aside.  then dump the broth in and put this over low heat.
-use another pot for the risotto making and start by heating up a bit of olive oil (maybe a bit of butter if you’re feeling crazy).  add the rice and cook it, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes.
-add in the 1 cup of nicely diced raw squash bits, 2 1/2 cups of the puree/broth mixture and 1/8 tsp of salt.
-do the risotto thing:  stir until the liquid’s nearly gone, add more liquid.  repeat until the rice is cooked and you have that risotto-goo texture.  never stop stirring!  should take about a half an hour.
-if you actually want this to taste yummy and not just like plain butternut squash, i would add in about a cup of grated parmesan cheese once it’s all cooked up.  this is not a part of the EatingWell recipe, but would be my recommendation.
-plate it up and top with bacon bits and parsley.
without the cheese addition, this will make 4 servings of 447 calories each.  i was quite happy to have less than 1/4th of what we made for dinner and used the leftovers to make baked risotto cakes for later lunches. 

For maximum prettiness, serve with a spinach salad.
you need:
baby spinach
thinly sliced brown mushrooms
thinly sliced red onion
bacon crumbles (share some from your risotto ingredients)
Andie’s Maple Bacon vinaigrette*

*This wonderful dressing will last for lots more salad than just this dinner, so you’ll have more for another meal.

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the best thing i ate all week

Yotam Ottolenghi’s new cookbook, Plenty, fulfills so many of my hopes and dreams for greater vegetable consumption, pretty photography, and what the shiznip is for dinner?

This week, we were scouting out recipes to use up the massive quantity of heirloom tomatoes that we’d gotten in our last CSA box and this recipe:
A) used up 4 tomatoes!
B) was awesome

Ottolenghi tomato, bread and quinoa salad

1 baguette, left to stale-up a bit.  Decrust it, cut into cubes, toss with a bit of olive oil and bake at 350 for about 15 to 20 minutes until crispy

1/4 cup of quinoa rinsed, then boiled for 9 minutes.  Strain and rinse with cool water and let to drain and dry

4 gorgeous tomatoes, chopped and diced

2 balls of mozzarella cut into cubes

2 cups of cucumbers chopped

1/2 of one small red onion sliced in thin slivers

4 TBSP of chopped cilantro

2 TBSP of chopped parsley

2 garlic cloves crushed

1 TBSP of lemon juice

3/4 TBSP of red wine vinegar

1/3 cup of olive oil

salt & pepper

Mix it all up.

Not so good for leftovers once the toasty crouton bits get soggy, so you will have to eat it all now, which is what you were really hoping for anyway.

 

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It’s an Irish thing?

Last weekend, the meat booth at our farmer’s market was selling corned beef.  They had a sign to tell us that it was Special! and everything.

The David thinks this is a good thing and stops to get one, but they’ve run out.

The next day, in the ferry building, we stop at the butcher there, but they’ve only got humongo slabs of corned beef and don’t want to cut them into smaller slabs.  So we skip it.

Later, we’re planning out our meals for the week and we’ve got everything we need for corned beef and cabbage on our shopping list.  At Whole Foods, we successfully acquire a 2 pound non-humongo slab of corned beef.  Hurrah!

So, later this week, I’m discussing with David how we’ll have to plan to have our corned beef on Thursday.  It needs 3 hours to cook and that takes a little foresight to incorporate into your week night, because the damn dinner-cooking fairies I ordered off of Amazon got waylaid in customs or something.

The conversation goes something like this:

Me:  “I think I’ll try to put the corned beef on to cook on Wednesday night and then start on regular dinner.”

David:  “Ok.  How come on Wednesday night?”

Me:  “Because then we can have it ready for Thursday.”

David:  “What’s on Thursday?”

Me:  “Saint Patrick’s Day?”

David:  “So?”

Me:  “Saint Patrick’s Day and corned beef and cabbage.”

David:  “Is that a thing?”

Me:  “Uh.  Yeah.”  Obviously.

David.  “It’s an Irish thing?”

Me:  “Yes!  That’s what you eat on Saint Patrick’s Day!”

I realize that David wasn’t wanting to get corned beef for any special occasion, but just because we’ve been seeing signs for it and mention of it everywhere.  And it’s becoming clear to me that David, as a British person, is woefully uneducated on what it means to be Irish*, a topic we Americans pursue with passion.

*Apparently, corned beef and cabbage is not Irish at all.  The Irish may have prepared something sort of similar combining back bacon (not streaky like the kind Americans eat) with cabbage.  But the “traditional” corned beef and cabbage dish is not Irish.

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a four hour lunch

On the tails of a post in which I confess that I am eating like a warthog (obviously, that means in copious quantities) and of another post in which I generally poo-poo the pricey B & B we went to the weekend before, I’m just going to briefly say that we went to The French Laundry for lunch on Saturday.

Yes, the Thomas Keller restaurant commonly referenced as one of, if not THE, best restaurants in the world.

This wasn't even my food.

We weren’t even planning to go or anything.  It was all spur of the moment.

Because that’s just how we roll, you know.

I will be much less snobby in the near future.

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this dinner tried to kill me

Dinner tonight was a pork, kale and bean soup.  Super duper!

The first bit of making the soup was to saute a bunch of diced onions and then dump in some garlic, paprika and crushed red pepper.  Stir until aromatic!

Then add a cup of white wine and deglaze the pot, which was used to cook up little chunklets of pork tenderloin before starting on the onions.

When that wine hit the pan, it was like a bomb went off in the kitchen.  An evil vapor of paprika and red pepper exploded and filled my lungs.  Cough cough.

I still feel a little damaged.

But I ate that soup and showed it who’s boss.

Me.  That’s who.

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Breakfast

The David and I plan out all of our meals for the week, go grocery shopping, and get exactly what we need to make those meals. Except we let the weekends fly by the seat of our pants and we’re usually scrounging around eating the last bits of fruit and maybe an egg for breakfast on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
I thwarted that weekend lackadaisicalness today, though! On Thursday, I picked up the buttermilk and wheat germ required to complete this recipe for Eating Well’s buttermilk-oatmeal pancakes.
Even though they were full of oats, wheat germ, and whole wheat flour and void of a single fleck of butter, I actually thought they were pretty darned good and I would definitely make these again. In fact, even though I halved the recipe, I think we’ve got enough batter left to make more for us both again tomorrow.
How full of yay to do a little less scrounging and a little more licking maple syrup off the fork.

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This week

This week, I participated in a chicken tikka masala taste test, with the David and some lovely friends, Ali and Cooper (the good egg).
We indian-restaurant-hopped to 4 different places and picked up 4 different orders of CTM and then tried them all.  Surprisingly, the favorite wasn’t Naan ‘n Curry, but Kabana, a whole in the wall in Berkeley.
I got exceedingly full from this experiment, but I loved it.  And I love having a person like Ali who will not only indulge in such tomfoolery, but who also delights in it!  The boys were definitely of the indulgent inclination regarding this experiment, but I think they ended up enjoying it.

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