thai green curry

Boyfriend and I don’t always agree when it comes to food.  That can make choosing a dinner that works for both of us hard sometimes.  Usually I can keep him pretty happy by making a dinner that begs for hot sauce.  This chicken curry dish met that criteria, and it was a one pot meal!  With veggies!  I wouldn’t call this “healthy” considering the coconut milk, but it’s comfort food so I think it’s okay.

It took me three trips to the grocery store because I kept forgetting things, but eventually I got my act together and was able to finish dinner.  In spite of a few hiccups (too thin sauce, wrong coconut milk), I like how this dinner turned out.  Boyfriend usually isn’t a fan of coconut milk, but I think he liked it too.  We both brought the leftovers to work the next day, and it kept well.

thai curryIngredients:

  • fresh ginger, peeled, about 2 tablespoons
  • fresh garlic, 3 cloves
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 pound chicken breast, cut into bite sized chunks
  • 2 small sweet potatoes
  • a few big handfuls of spinach
  • juice of 2 limes
  • a dash of fish sauce (optional)
  • cilantro
  • 1 can lite coconut milk
  • 1/2 can real coconut milk
  • cornstarch (optional)
  • cooked white rice

Instructions:

  • Place peeled ginger, garlic, and jalapeno in the food processor with a tiny bit water.  Pulse until you have a rough paste.  Saute the paste in a large pot until very aromatic.
  • Pour the coconut milk over the paste.  You may have to scoop out the real coconut milk, it solidifies in cooler temperatures.  Bring to a soft boil.
  • Put the raw chicken and the chopped potatoes into the coconut milk mixture and simmer until cooked through.  Once cooked, taste for salt or any other spices you may want.  Add the lime juice and fish sauce.  At this point, I realized I wanted more ginger flavor so I added some ground ginger to the pot.  I also added some curry powder for an extra kick.
  • Add the spinach and cook until wilted.
  • So here’s where things got tricky.  I realized the sauce was pretty thin, so I added cornstarch until I got the thickness I desired.  This is totally optional!
  • Serve everything over white rice and top with cilantro and Sriracha.

Warning! This is good leftover, but do not eat it if you have a busy day at work.  It will put you to sleep!

 

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tomato sauce (from scratch!)

I don’t know why everyone doesn’t make tomato sauce from scratch.  It’s way cheaper, healthier, and honestly doesn’t take much effort or time at all.  All you need is tomatoes (I use roma), garlic, olive oil, and basil.  It tastes good without the basil too – but if we’re trying to be authentic here, we might as well use it.  All you need to do is roughly chop some tomatoes, throw them in a pan at medium-high heat, and let them cook down.  Then I toss in lots of fresh chopped garlic – none of that stuff from a jar!  When my pasta is ready, I mix it into the sauce and sprinkle with basil.  That’s it!  I feel like such an old Italian lady when I make this (I have no Italian heritage, but a girl can dream).

gnocchi4

Boyfriend and I couldn’t agree on dinner last night, so he had Kraft macaroni and cheese while I gave some store-bought gnocchi a try.  The gnocchi was alright, but the sauce turned out great.  It was so fresh!  It even tasted good leftover today.  It must have been the giant garlic cloves I used.  I’m still using the camera on my iPhone, sorry about the neon tomatoes.

gnocchi2

Even though the gnocchi itself wasn’t my favorite, I was pretty happy with the result.  This is my go-to meal if boyfriend isn’t having dinner with me because he doesn’t like pasta (what a monster!!!).  It is my comfort food, especially with a glass of our family favorite, Bogle Merlot.

gnocchi1

Ingredients:

  • Roma tomatoes.  About 6 per person.
  • Garlic. Fresh garlic.  About 1 clove for every 3 tomatoes? I don’t know, I like a lot of garlic.
  • Good olive oil
  • Fresh basil
  • Salt
  • Parmesan for sprinkling
  • Pasta, gnocchi, your mouth.  Just something to put the sauce on.  I think you can figure that part out.

Instructions:

  • Chop the tomatoes.  This doesn’t need to be pretty.  I don’t even peel the damn things; the skin doesn’t bother me at all.  Throw them in a pan or pot at medium-high heat with some olive oil.  They should start to turn to mush pretty quickly.  Once they are cooked down, lower the heat so you don’t overcook the tomatoes.  This would be a good time to add salt.
  • Throw in some garlic.  I don’t think it needs to be browned or anything, just let it cook right in the tomato sauce for a few minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cook your pasta.  Salt the water! Seriously, it makes such a difference, especially with a simple sauce like this.  Be sure not to overcook your noodles either.  If they are a little undercooked, just let them finish in the sauce.
  • At the very very end, add some finely chopped fresh basil.  At this point, your pasta should be mixed in with the sauce.
  • Serve with Parmesan! An extra drizzle of olive oil never hurts either.
  • Relax, it’s pasta night.

 

simple roasted asparagus

Now that my beloved brussels sprouts are no longer in season and not sold at my grocery store, I need a new veggie to roast.  Boyfriend and I have settled on asparagus.  Usually, I pop them in the oven, wait around a while, and then take them out whenever they look done.  But last night, for your benefit, I actually timed the process.  Thirty minutes was the perfect amount of time to produce slightly crispy, nutty, roasted asparagus.

These things are great on their own, but we dip them in some homemade “garlic aioli.”  Really, I just sprinkle some garlic powder in mayonnaise.  If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll chop up some fresh garlic.  I had never heard of dipping asparagus in mayo until I saw boyfriend’s family do it.  And I love mayo, so I have been converted.

asparagus1

The process is really easy.  All you have to do is wash the asparagus, chop off the white ends, drizzle with olive oil and salt, and pop them in the oven.  The most important part, in my opinion, is making sure that the asparagus is well coated in the oil and salt.  This means your hands will get oily.  Really get in there – don’t be a baby about it.  Alrighty, here’s the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • As much asparagus as you want.  Keep in mind that it will shrink, so buy more than you think you need.
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil

Instructions:

  • Wash the asparagus and cut off the white ends.  You can just break the spears with your hands.  Wherever they naturally snap is the right spot.
  • Drizzle the asparagus with oil and salt.  Use your hands to coat every bit of the veggies with oil and salt.  Try a raw one to see if it’s enough salt.
  • Bake at just under 400° for about 30 minutes.  The asparagus should look a little shriveled and a little brown.  Enjoy plain or with garlicky mayo.

asparagus3

On Great Dinners

Sometimes, dinners just click. They don’t happen very often when at home (at least when I cook), but you know that feeling when you leave a restaurant perfectly sated and high on a good conversation? Aimee and I had that on Tuesday.

Unbeknownst to us, our dad (who will be doing a guest post soon enough per my roommate’s demands) scours OpenTable monthly for reservations at Cotogna. We were lucky enough to be invited to one of their coveted reservations on Tuesday, and it turned out to be one of those amazing forementioned dinners. In full disclosure, it was our Father’s Day celebration because the parents are ditching us for Calistoga, per the usual.

After Aimee and I both got some pets in with the monkey dogs, we made our way over to Cabin near our apartments. I wasn’t 100% impressed with the bar, it felt like a generic SF sports bar (which means they have 12 tvs and 12 artisan cocktails made by free range hamsters). Our dad insisted that it wasn’t a good showing, which begs the question: how often are our parents in bars a block away from my apartment without us knowing? I had to run home to get a jacket, which I should have had in the first place, so Aimee took the liberty to order me a jalapeño margarita. Now, no fault to Aimee, because she ordered what I would have probably ordered for myself, but this drink was HOT. It was like a Mexican torture cocktail, so much so that I had to go back to the bar with my tail between my legs asking for some more sweet and sour mix. There were chunks of jalapeño and its seeds floating around, and as much as I love spicy cocktails, I couldn’t handle this one.

We then made our way over to the restaurant, and it is gorgeous. Think reclaimed wood, exposed brick, and Edison bulbs (ok I don’t actually remember if there were Edison bulbs, but they would have fit in). My mom will also be sad if I don’t mention that they had Heath Ceramics dishes that are just like hers. Aimee, my dad, and I had already done serious menu research so pretty much knew what we wanted. Our mom hadn’t, and became VERY STRESSED about what to order. It was pretty funny actually, every time one of us would turn the menu over to look at the wine list or vice versa, she would panic that the table was now moving on to that section and she would be left behind. After a vertiable round robin of wine tastings, we finally settled on some delicious…reds. I have no idea what we got. They were Italian and yummy, though I wish mine had been “funkier”, which Aimee can explain in a later post.

Needless to say, the food was phenomenal, probably one of the best dinners I’ve eaten in 2014. I got a paparadelle with lamb and marjoram, Aimee got quail (how it’s legal to serve the state bird is beyond me), mom and dad each got tagliatelle with rabbit and fiddleheads. We started with a butter lettuce salad with anchovies (blech to the anchovies) and a halibut crudo. Neither of those were my absolute favorites, but they were good. The real standouts for the night were the pastas. I had serious order envy for the rabbit that my parents got, but I think half of that was because the fiddleheads were so pretty. We finished off with a butterscotch budino and a gianduja (hazlenut/almond/chocolate) bar with dark chocolate gelato, both of which were delicious.

At this point, our mom started to get anxious about the facts that 1. Aimee and I had work the next day and it was too late for us to be out and 2. there was no efficient way for an uber to drive so that we both could get dropped off directly at our front doors (we both live on one way streets going the same direction, so there would have been backtracking). After some more round robin with the bill, we made our way home and didn’t get mugged while walking a block in Nob Hill. Miracle, I know.

While the food was absolutely phenomenal and absolutely added to how great the whole experience was , this was one of those dinners where the conversation was just on point the whole time. All four of us laughed and my dad and I actually agreed on a political topic (see here). We had funny dog stories to tell (with the requisite Ripper memorializing),  a hilarious father’s day card that has lived in my drawer for two years, and Aimee and I didn’t whine about work once.

Maybe when you live in a magical Pinterest fairy land, these dinners happen at your house, but for me, they happen at restaurants. I think the only way this dinner could have been improved was if we brought the dogs, but seeing as that’s illegal and seeing that a certain boy chihuahua doesn’t have any manners, I don’t see that happening very soon. Until then, let’s hope Aimee and I get invited to these monthly Cotogna reservations.

a refreshing (and filling) lentil salad

I can’t take total credit for this recipe.  A while back, Allison, her roommate, and I took a vegetarian cooking class at The San Francisco Cooking School.  Among other things, we learned how to make this great lentil salad.  My favorite thing about this salad is that it can be tweaked in a million ways.  I’m just going to give the basics and then offer some suggestions for add-ins.  This salad would be great to bring to a potluck or a picnic, and it travels well to work too!  Just pack it with a few lemon wedges to liven it up.

The basic idea of this salad is that it is cooked, room-temperature lentils covered in an herby, garlicky, lemony, “pesto” sort of sauce.  I add a little red wine vinegar to give it an extra tang.  It’s great with small pieces of roasted veggies, cheese, or greek yogurt mixed in.  In the cooking class, we added roasted carrots, but boyfriend and I prefer brussels sprouts.

This salad is surprisingly filling and pretty healthy! Enjoy!

Lentil Salad

Ingredients:

  • Dry green lentils.  I don’t know how much. 2 cups?  It depends on how much you want leftover.  Lentils freeze well after they cook, so if you make too much, no big deal.
  • Several big handfuls of arugula
  • 1 bunch of some herb – I usually use cilantro but basil works well too.
  • 2 cloves raw, fresh garlic
  • The juice of two lemons
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Optional extras: roasted veggies, fresh tomatoes, feta or Parmesan cheese, greek yogurt, raw red onion

Instructions:

  • Cook the lentils.  Basically, boil them in salted water until they are soft but not mushy.  Drain them and let them cool.
  • Meanwhile, get out the food processor.   Stuff it with arugula, herbs, garlic, and a little more olive oil than you think.  Probably a few tablespoons.  Blend it until it forms a loose paste – it should be flowy.  Squeeze in lemon juice and taste.  This recipe doesn’t need much salt, but feel free to add some salt and pepper at this point.
  • Prep any add-ins.  I like to roast some brussels sprouts with lots of salt and olive oil at about 400 degrees until they are crispy.
  • Once the lentils are room temperature, pour in the dressing.  There should be a lot of dressing.  Taste the salad, and if it is a little bland, add some red wine vinegar.  Only add a little bit at a time though, it is easy to go overboard here.
  • Mix in your add-ins and whatnot.  Serve with maybe some greek yogurt and white wine.