2.24.2011

Frittatas

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If you're wondering what's going on with the photos, they are of many different frittatas. Three to be exact. Because lately, we've been on a frittata kick. It all started with some delicious frittatas we had at Euro Pane in Pasadena. But after a couple of visits, we decided a frittata should not cost $7 a slice. The husband declared we can make this at home, cheaper, if not better. Months went by, I put out a couple of reminders, and we finally gave it a try. Since then, we've been eating frittatas regularly on weekends.

Now, typically when the husband comes to one of these realizations about doing something at home, he's wrong. But this time, he was not. These veggie/cheese/egg bakes are easy to make. They take some time, but usually you can use whatever is leftover in your fridge and be eating a delicious frittata in about 40 minutes. And you get a whole frittata for like $5-7, not just a slice!

I have not looked up any frittata recipes. I think the husband might have. I know what I like. I like potatoes. I like cheese. I can deal with eggs (that's why they are listed last above). But, I realize you can not have a frittata without eggs. So, I asked the husband how many eggs to use. He said 5-6. He also told me we must use some milk. That was his contribution.

For the first frittata, we had no milk. We added some sour cream instead. It worked. Tasted great. The last two, we used milk. Milk makes it lighter. I always start with the potatoes. Below you can also see I've also used leftover mashed potatoes. That worked well too. And sped things up, as they only had to be warmed up and browned instead of cooked through.

After the potatoes, I add whatever vegetables and meats we have around. We usually use blackforest ham, but have tried chorizo as well. You want to make sure your vegetables are cooked, this is where it's great to have leftovers or roast your vegetables in advance. I've used roasted bell peppers, asparagus and pasilla peppers. I've also used a variety of cheeses -- feta, queso fresco, swiss -- pretty much anything that melts will do.

Once you add the cheese, you can pour in the eggs and milk combo, which you should season well. At this point, you can get fancy and sprinkle some green onions or add tomatillo sauce. You cook everything together on the stovetop for a couple of minutes more, letting the eggs set. Then pop the pan under the broiler (low) for five or so minutes.
All of the frittatas have been tasty. But my favorite has been with the asparagus. Next, I want to try zucchini and eggplant.

2.23.2011

Green Tea Sorbet and Cocktail

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The husband likes fancy teas. So does a friend of ours. She gets him fancy teas for presents. This past Christmas she got him a pearl green tea. It was pretty (see below). But liking fancy teas can become an expensive hobby. A few weeks ago, the husband asked to go shopping. This is odd. He usually tears up at the prospect of spending time in a store, particularly while there's light outside. But, his desire for good-quality, loose-leaf teas was too strong. We went shopping, in the middle of the afternoon. Even parked in a parking structure.

This time, it was me who got cranky. Music and tea shops bore me. I was getting restless. I was getting thirsty. At the tea shop, I bought myself a green tea lemonade. It was delicious. On the way back to our car, the husband said, "this would make a good sorbet." I agreed. But I knew if I waited for him to make it, it might be a while.

I didn't look up recipes. I just went for it. I steeped the fancy green tea. I made a simple syrup with lemon juice. Then everything went into the ice cream maker. I even added bits of tea leaves for effect. I used some vodka to keep the sorbet from freezing, but apparently I didn't use enough.

Out of the machine, the sorbet was perfect. It tasted like my green tea lemonade. But when it went into the freezer, and I tried it a few hours later, it was already too frozen. This makes a sorbet hard to eat. I thought to myself, why didn't you put in more booze? Why? Then, it occured to me, it's never too late to add more booze. I added some vodka, whipped out my handy immersion blender, and had myself a cold, slushee cocktail.

2.22.2011

A Salad: With Pickled Onions and Roasted Peppers

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You can hardly call this a real post. But, I was asked to get something up. And here's something.

Having a job is really getting in the way of regular blogging. But no one is paying me money to blog, so work I must. I would have more time to photograph and write, but my awesome commute downtown is really taking up more time that I thought. I sit in traffic and practice my anger management by telling myself to breathe, to keep calm, to not yell. I listen to NPR and wonder why Michele Norris pronounces her name so weird. I wonder if Melissa Block would sound as sweet as she does if she had to sit in traffic everyday. And then 45 minutes later and I am finally almost at work. Almost.

So yeah, I've been behind on blogging. But, we are still cooking and eating. The above salad wasn't really "cooked", but I did want to post an entry that used my delicious pickled onions and roasted peppers. I liked the onions so much, I was sad I gifted the other two jars (which, I am still waiting to get back. So give them back friends!). For the dressing, I used the pickling juice and mixed it with olive oil. It was fresh and tasty.

2.07.2011

Carrot and Cilantro Soup

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Luckily, I have never worked any place that required staff to participate in office potlucks. In all of my workplaces, celebrating something meant being taken out by a colleague. If someone uttered the word "potluck" I would cringe and think "What are we being punished for? Shouldn't we spend more time working, and less time socializing?" This is not the case for the husband. Who apparently has regular potlucks at work. I wonder what they are being punished for?

A few weeks ago, the husband decided he would make a soup for his potluck. A breakfast potluck. A soup. I tried hard not to say, that's a dumb idea. Instead, I asked, with my best inquisitive voice, are you sure about that? Yes, he was sure. Everyone was on Weight Watchers and soups are easy, he said. He picked out a recipe from my recently purchased Cilantro book. He bought three pounds of carrots. He was all set on making the soup. Except, of course, he never got to the making it part. That part, somehow fell on me. Tricked again.

As if I didn't hate work potlucks already, making this soup for a potluck I wasn't even going to participate in, sealed the deal. The soup, was delicious. Although it didn't change my feelings on work potlucks, it did reaffirm my good judgment on selecting interesting cookbooks. Way to go me.
Below is the original recipe, with minor alterations. Apparently, it was a hit at the potluck.
Carrot and Cilantro Soup
from Cilantro, published by Southwater
Serves 5-6

1 tbsp sunflower oil (I used grape seed)
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 lbs of carrots, chopped
2-3 fresh cilantro sprigs or 1 tsp of coriander (I used both, adding the fresh after pureeing)
1 tsp grated lemon rind
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper
more fresh cilantro for garnish

1) Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook onion for about 5 minutes, until it is soft. Add carrots, coriander, lemon rind and juice. Stir well and add stock and seasoning.
2) Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure there's enough liquid. 
3) When carrots are tender, puree the mixture, adjust seasoning, and stir in the fresh cilantro.

Serve with an additional cilantro garnish. Or take it to work in a crock pot!

2.06.2011

The Sandwich Shop, plus another life update

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The days of leisure, morning sleep, all-day cooking and shopping at Marshalls while the rest of the world was at work are officially over. Starting my new job was bittersweet. My temporary housewife status lasted less than three months. I had prepared myself for at least six. It had occurred to me that in this economy, I might have a better chance of finding a rich husband rather than a new job. But, I guess it didn't work out that way.

I am convinced that my friends -- who did not appreciate the stories of my daily brunches, mid-afternoon workouts, and overall happiness -- with their jealousy and hatred, willed the world to send me a job. And so the world did. Thanks friends. I needed a routine anyway. And there's that monthly mortgage deal, too.

So, it only made sense that the week before I started work, I should practice my sandwich making. During my leisurely solo brunches, sandwiches did not often make an appearance. I preferred cheese, cold cuts, olives, soups, selecting foods that could be accompanied by a glass of wine or brunchy cocktail, without anyone raising an eyebrow.

But, work brunches are not very common, and sandwiches are practical. That week, preparing myself, I made several pita sandwiches (like the one above), with either a roasted bell pepper or eggplant spread, ham or turkey, lettuce (with a drizzle of dressing), and provolone. Simple and fresh.

Not as simple or fresh, are my grilled sandwiches. I like to use black forest ham, which I warm up first in a skillet, then Swiss cheese, and my roasted peppers (see previous post). Once the ham is warm, I assemble the sandwich like a standard grilled cheese. The peppers add a great flavor and texture, making a standard grilled sandwich special.
So far, I have eaten some delicious sandwiches at work. And there are other benefits to working as well. Tomorrow, I look forward to happy hour.