Monday, March 28, 2011

In which Kate gives up on seeing robins and crocuses (croci? croqui?)

March is supposed to come in like a lion and out like a lamb. Here in southern New England (or annexed NYC, depending on how you look at it), we had one 70-degree day a couple weeks ago and have gone back into the forties and rainy. I suspect Spring got mugged in Central Park and is being held hostage somewhere.

So, no robins on the grass (at least when I get downstairs. On the 11th floor, I just get the Goodfeathers on my balcony. And the occasional hawk), no crocuses. I may have seen daffodills, but that could be a pipe dream.

This all leads to part 2 of What to do With Preserved Lemons. I'm really pleased with how this came out. Light, and fresh and a reminder that eventually, the winter dolldrums will be behind us. The following serves 2:

1.5 medium tomatoes (about a cup and half, tomatoes being just slightly smaller than a baseball) chopped
2 T olive oil
1/4 cup brine from preserved lemons
1 preserved lemon, pith removed, finely diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

2 servings of your favorite pasta, cooked. I used spaghetti.

I recommend making this ahead. While the tomatoes will take on the lemony flavor pretty quickly, an hour or so in the brine makes this just sublime. 

Combine the first six ingredients in a bowl, stir well and let sit about an hour. Toss with pasta. 

Yes, really, that's it. It was fantastic and fresh and gave me some hope that the second signs of spring are on their way.

Next week--something fishy.

Questions? Comments? Death threats? Let's hear them!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Half an onion feels lonely-Spicy Roasted Chick Peas take 1

I've been wanting to try this week's recipe for a few weeks now, but life kept getting in the way of serious cooking. Finally, this evening, I had a chance to do so.

I wasn't familiar with Clean Eating Magazine, and I came across a "clean" fish & chips recipe. It used whole-grain bread crumbs and baked thinly-sliced sweet potatoes. It didn't quite work for me and the test eater (hi, sweetie!), which is why you haven't seen it here on Knives, Fire and Fun.

I love chick peas. They're so yummy and so flexible. Raw on a salad, in channa masala or saag, I've pan-cooked them with onions and stirred in avocado afterwards (where did I put that link?). I've had them in a tagine as well. Then there's hummus. You get the idea.

Anyway, this recipe looked interesting, though it didn't strike me as a snack, so I thought I'd whip these up and put them on top of a salad. Here's our ingredient list:

  • 2 cups canned or cooked chickpeas, drained and well rinsed --the cans I had were 15.5 ounces. Close enough
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice (Crap, I just realized I forgot this)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp maple sugar flakes (I skipped this, in case my sweetie decided he wanted some. He doesn't do sweet & spicy combos. I say he's missing out)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin, ground
  • 1/2 tsp coriander, ground
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • 1/4 tsp each sea salt and ground black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne pepper, to taste
I also chopped up half a lonely onion and threw it in the mix.

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl; toss well.
  3. Spread chickpea mixture on foil-lined baking sheet.
  4. Put in oven, roasting for 20 to 25 minutes; toss mixture about halfway through.
  5. When chickpeas are dark brown in spots, remove from oven and let cool.
  6. Store in airtight container in refrigerator
These did not come out perfect. I think next time (which may be tomorrow, I do have another can of chick peas), I will stir them more often, maybe every 8 minutes instead of every ten. I believe the goal is a light crunch on the outside with a creamy center. Almost, but now quite. So, you'll see this one again.

Thanks for reading!

Questions? Comments? Death threats? Let's hear from you!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What to do with Preserved Lemons

I hemmed and hawed a little bit about this post because the results were mixed. This occasionally happens when I cook by the seat of my pants.

Anyway, you'll recall about a month ago, I put up some lemons to preserve. I checked them on a regular basis and added some additional lemon juice to keep them covered. Then I ran out of lemons, so taking a cue from my friend Beki, added some water.

A few weeks later, the brine tasted delicious. Next batch will have a lot more pepper, possibly a bay leaf. This batch had coriander and cinnamon and I was so thrilled with the taste I had to have it in something.

I breaded some chicken breasts with panko, thyme and pepper, and thought for a side dish, I'd make quinoa (which to my amusement does not pass my spell check) with some lemony mushrooms. The thought was to brighten the nutty quinoa with the freshness of the lemons. I put about a T of olive oil in a pan, chopped the mushrooms into 1/2 inch pieces and sauteed the shrooms for a bit over medium heat. After a few minutes, I added a half cup of brine , half a chopped lemon peel and cooked it down until just a little bit of liquid was left. 

I should have left the mushrooms on their own. They tasted delightful, as if they'd been marinating for weeks. I liked them stirred in with the quinoa, my sweetie was less than enthusiastic. He didn't think the flavors meshed very well, and in retrospect, I think I have to agree. Naturally, I was disappointed, but my spirits perked up when he said he would try the lemon flavor in other things.

I'm thinking of tossing it with fresh tomatoes, garlic and olive oil and serving over pasta. Fresh parsley too, now that I think of it. I bought a bottle of Turkish olive oil that's a lovely yellow-green, so I think it will have a good olive taste.

To my knowledge, there's nothing special about Turkish olive oil. I was TJMaxx and I can't shop there without taking something home from the gourmet foods section. They always have pretty bottles of olive oil and I was running out. And now I'm running on, so I will sign off. Thank you as always for reading.

Questions? Comments? Death threats? Let's hear them!