Sunday, May 31, 2009

The recipe that's really a book review

The hallmark of a good book (in my mind) is obvious when reading someone else's copy: finishing it is followed by resolving to own it myself, very soon. In this case, I returned the library's copy of "I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti" by Giulia Melucci and went to Booksmith to get my own.

The book is a memoir of a serious food lover, and the men she cooked for. Perhaps I feel guilty being happily married, but Melucci deserves serious kudos for turning personal heartbreak into a page-turner. The book will lead foodie romantics to alternately root for the author to find her own happily-ever-after, and note which food ideas they'd like to replicate. The book intersperses Melucci's story with dozens of recipes. There's a recipe index at the back, which makes the book more user-friendly. Though there's some variety of ingredients, the book is heavy on pastas, fish recipes, and desserts.

For Shavuot, I made a quadruple recipe of "Simple Tomato Sauce and Pasta for Two" (page 18) using whole wheat spaghetti. I mixed it in with a healthy batch of roasted veggies (carrots, red onion, asparagus, zucchini, and peppers, roasted in a 375 degree oven for about an hour with salt, pepper and oil.) Top with Parmesan, and it's fancy enough for the holiday, but healthy enough to eat the leftovers four days in a row.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The yummiest chicken ever, and the recipe that is not a recipe

This weekend, I made two chicken recipes, both of which I would classify as "the yummiest chicken ever". One came from a cookbook, and one was entirely improvised, making it hard to record the recipe after the fact. So instead of a recipe, here I present general guidelines:

Tomato Pesto Chicken
(mildly inspired by Robin Miller and Susie Fishbein)

Preheat oven to 350.

Using a handblender, puree leftover fresh basil with toasted pine nuts and olive oil (and a little salt and pepper.) Then blend in a whole, fresh tomato.

In a pan sprayed with Pam/reasonable off-brand substitute, place many chicken breasts (we initially cooked 8 or 9) and pour the sauce on top. Cook uncovered for what seems like forever, making sure from time to time that the chicken is not dried out. The chicken is done when the juices run clear.

Remove from oven and cool. When the chicken is cooled, remove the excess liquid from the pan and save for roasting veggies or something similar.

This chicken was incredibly moist and tasted great in a sandwich or hot.


Friday, May 08, 2009

Restaurant Replication #2 - Roasted Replica Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing

Earlier this year, I replicated a favorite soup from a local restaurant, with my own special twist. You can check out Restaurant Replication #1 here.

Today, I am attempting to replicate a salad I tried in Toronto in April. The base of the salad is similar to the one I had there, but the dressing is my own (love it or hate it.)

Roasted Replica Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing

Salad ingredients:
2 yellow squashes
2 medium zucchinis
1 red onion
2 colored peppers
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
2 big hearts of romaine, washed and chopped
1 (8 oz) container of feta cheese

Dressing ingredients:
1 head of garlic
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
Reserved juice from feta cheese container (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cut zucchini and yellow squash into half moons, onion into medium sized slivers, and peppers into thin strips.
3. Mix vegetables in bowl with salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
4. Pour onto jelly roll pans. (You will likely need two.)
5. Wrap the head of garlic in foil. Put the pans of vegetables and head of garlic in the oven. Roast 45 minutes, stirring the vegetables every 15 minutes.
6. When soft and roasty, remove from oven. Let vegetables cool slightly. You want them warm, not sizzling.
7. Assemble a large bowl of romaine lettuce. Top with cooled veggies and a big heap of feta.
Dress (recipe below) and serve.

Creamy Garlic Dressing:
Remove all the cloves of garlic from their skins (this is the only part of the recipe that's a bit annoying.)
Add mayo, lemon juice, salt, pepper and feta juice. Mix well. If the garlic is sufficiently roasted, it will combine easily with the other ingredients.

The final result is a bit tangy and salty, but very yummy.


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

On Legal Action

Today's sound bite from work:

ATLANTA — The nation’s top high school mock trial competition has become an actual legal battleground.

Earlier this spring, the Maimonides School, an Orthodox Jewish day school in Brookline, Mass., won the state mock trial championship — and with it a coveted spot in the prestigious national competition in Atlanta this weekend. But the finals of the tournament fall on Saturday, and the students do not compete on the Sabbath.

When tournament organizers refused to tweak the schedule, the students’ parents and school officials did what supporters of any attorney-in-training might do: they hired a lawyer, Nathan Lewin, a renowned litigator who has tried cases before the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Lewin filed a complaint of religious discrimination with the Department of Justice, which promised to investigate.

Click here for the rest of the story.