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

Advertisements

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.

not-so-authentic ramen

I really know nothing about ramen except for the fact that it’s cozy and yummy. I in no way claim that this is how one is supposed to make ramen, but I like the way it turned out. It has become a weekly staple for the boyfriend and me.  I’ve gotten into the habit of making broth from my leftover roast chicken carcasses, and it makes for some really great soup.  I simply boil the leftover bones with some onions or garlic for a few hours and then freeze it.

This ramen is a quick easy meal for a weeknight and it doesn’t require many ingredients.  Just whatever veggies sound good, noodles, and a few seasonings are all you need.  I use Chuka Soba noodles, but any store-bought ramen noodles will do.  This time, I am using bok choy along with frozen peas and corn.  The green onions and jalapeno are used as garnish.

Image

 

Making the ramen broth is easy if you have a solid chicken stock to begin with.  I simply add ground ginger, salt, a little soy sauce, and sesame seed oil.

Image

 

I’ll make a deal to myself that if I blog consistently for a few weeks I can buy myself a real camera.  Right now I’m using my phone and the pictures are less than satisfactory.

ramen cutting board

As soon as the broth is boiling and seasoned how you like it, add some chopped bok choy.  Let the greens cook until they soften slightly.  Next, add the noodles, corn, and peas.  The noodles will not take long to cook.  Once the noodles are cooked and the veggies are warm, serve the ramen in a nice big bowl.  Top the soup with chopped green onions and some jalapenos if you wish.  I will occasionally add sriracha if I am craving more spice.

Another fantastic addition is a soft boiled or poached egg – which is what I did tonight.  Runny yolk makes the broth so rich.

ramen egg

You’ll find that I’m not one to use specific measurements – which is silly considering I studied math and do statistics for a living.  I just add stuff ’til it tastes good, but I’ll try to be good about giving ballpark estimates of how much of each ingredient I use.

Ingredients:

  • Nearly one large pot full of chicken stock
  • 2 bok choy.. bulbs?
  • 1 handful frozen corn
  • 1 handful frozen peas
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • At least 1 tablespoon dry ground ginger
  • A few tiny drops of sesame seed oil
  • A few glugs of soy sauce (be sure to add this before the salt)
  • Salt
  • Optional: jalapenos, sriracha, soft-boiled egg

Instructions:

  • Bring the broth to a boil and add soy sauce, ginger, salt, and sesame seed oil.  Taste to see if it is salty enough.
  • Meanwhile, chop the bok choy.  As soon as the broth is boiling, add the veggies.
  • Once the bok choy has softened, add the noodles to the broth and cook until al dente.
  • Spoon everything into bowls and top with green onions and other optional things.

 

Meeting and Greeting

I’ve been told that I should have a blog for a while now, apparently some people think I’m funny and experience things that deserved to be written about. I’m not sure that that is 100% true, though perhaps my usual repartee will translate well to the written form. But this blog isn’t called “Allison’s bumbling 20s”, and one of the great things about a sister is that they will call you out, so this intro shouldn’t be framing this blog as mine. Though, I think my posts will generally be better.

Aimee and I live a block and change away from each other (500 steps according to my trusty fitbit) on San Francisco’s Nob Hill. We cook (well really she more than me), eat, and drink in that general vicinity, but can be convinced to leave the comfy confines of the #1 bus with promises of tasty food and strong cocktails. I envision this as a space for Aimee to post the recipes that she executes flawlessly, me to imagine what it’s like to not be inept in the kitchen, and both of us to bicker about who’s turn it is to write.

Bon appétit!