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Sunday, August 28, 2005

As soon as I joined this blog I promptly forgot about it. But through a random series of events today, I was looking at my Blogger profile and was startled to see three blogs on it! And then I find that y'all have been prolific in your cooking and your writing while I have been totally oblivious, so here I am.

Prolly mostly what I will do is repost things from Kitchenisms, though I don't write there very often either. I am working on getting that site sorted out.

BUT, for now, what funny news: G. has started a blog, and he is writing about food on it too! So in lieu of an interesting post from me for now, please accept this link to his post about delicious salad with ahi, tomato & fabulous dressing.

posted by lauren at 3:09 PM; 0 comments

Thursday, August 25, 2005

I heart spinach
And I also enjoy turning it into enchiladas. I'm not sure where I came up with the idea to make these particular things; maybe I had eaten some recently, or maybe I just had the ingredients on hand, or maybe it just sounded like something to try. Anyway, it turned out pretty well with a little tinkering, and since it's a pretty basic recipe, it's easy to add things and tailor it to your taste. So without further adieu:

Spinach enchiladas with black beans
You need:
Olive oil.
A couple of bunches or bags of spinach, whichever you prefer. More is better because it shrinks so much.
A 1/2 cup to a cup of mushrooms. White work fine; I prefer the brown ones.
A couple cloves of garlic.
An onion. I like Walla Walla sweets.
Some goat cheese; something like chevre, that's soft and mild, works best. The Trader Joe's crumbled goat cheese is perfect.
Tortillas. Again, I'm a Trader Joe's addict, so I like the smaller-sized handmade flour ones.

Start by washing all your spinach and dumping it in a big pan with some olive oil, salt and pepper. I don't chop mine for this recipe, because it shrinks so much I don't usually find it necessary. It cooks quickly, so don't start cooking it just yet.

Chop up your onions and garlic and saute them with olive oil and salt in a separate pan. I don't add much seasoning to this other than salt and pepper, so those are sort of key. But it's kind of a blank slate, so you could add any spice you think would go well. Chop up your mushrooms and toss them in with the onion and garlic. After the mushrooms begin to cook, start sauteing your spinach.

You'll notice that this quantity of spinach releases a ton of liquid. When it's shrunk down and is stewing in a lot of juice, take it to the sink and drain it. Squeeze out the extra liquid with the back of a spoon. Then put it back on the stove and add your onions, garlic and mushrooms. Cook it all a bit longer and then give it a good stir to make sure everything's evenly distributed.

Next, roll some of your veggies in the tortillas with the goat cheese. Since I put the cheese inside the enchiladas, I didn't top them with anything. That worked out fine for me, but I'm sure they'd be good with some cheese or sauce on top. Bake them at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes; you want the tortillas to crisp up a bit but not get crunchy. I usually end up with 6 or 8 enchiladas.

While the enchiladas are baking, I heat up a can or two (I aim for leftovers) of black beans on the stove, seasoned with some cumin, coriander, sugar and a little goat cheese for creaminess. I'd been making big pans of beans with tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, garlic, peppers and cumin, chili powder and hot sauce for so long that I'd forgotten how good they can taste when left mostly alone. They make an excellent side dish for the enchiladas, especially when topped with a bit of sour cream, and together the two things will feed me for a few days. Always good.

I recommend eating something chocolate afterward. Just for the heck of it.

posted by Katie at 4:08 PM; 0 comments

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The perfect dish for a sunny summer day . . .
Mmm, my mouth is still tingling with refreshing and garlicky goodness, so I have to write while I am still feeling inspired. Today in Portland was HOT, and it was also a day of many errands for me. I ran around like a madwoman, sanded and varnished furniture, washed my car, picked blackberries, went to Freddy's about 14 times, and the list goes on. All of the things I did simply reeked of summer, but also left me feeling hot and tired at the end of the day--I needed make something light and delicious for dinner. Then a small light bulb went on in my head as I remembered through the murky past yet another recipe from my lovely Italian roommates--except that in this case, I had only tried the recipe on my own one time, four years ago, to miserably failed results.

But now I was ready for another try. So I went and got some arborio rice and a lemon, and I was set to make some delicious cold rice salad. Now, let's pause a moment and just get this straight, arborio rice, alright? No substitutes! Remember how I said that my first attempt at this recipe was a miserable disaster? Yeah, well, that is the result of rice substitution, a nasty habit that I will avoid from now on, since the arborio results tonight were simply delightful.

here's what you'll need:

A couple tablespoons chopped onion
1 cup arborio rice
A refrigerator
3 small tomatoes, minus the juice and seeds, chopped
Large handful of basil leaves, chopped up
Handful of sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
1 clove garlic, minced very small
1 lemon
olive oil

So keep in mind, this is a salad--like any salad, the ingredients are not set in stone, and nor are there relative ratios. So make this to your own taste--the amounts above are what I started with, but I didn't use all of everything--for example, I had some tomatoes left at the end--the garlic, especially, use with caution, a thing I failed to do, which is fine by me, but probably not so great for most people's palettes.

To start: Sauté the chopped onion in a bit of olive oil for a minute or two, then add the rice, and keep sautéing a couple minutes, until slightly browned. Add 2 cups of water, stir, cover, and cook for however long it takes (sorry folks, I have no idea how long that is) take the rice off when the water has been absorbed and the rice is still a little chewy. Now throw the whole thing in the fridge for an hour or so to cool down.

Meanwhile, assemble the other ingredients: Chop the tomatoes in half, squeeze out the seeds and juice, dice, and leave in a colander to drain (the less liquid the better, unless you want a soggy mess instead of a salad). Chop the basil. Chop the scallions. Chop the garlic. Gather the sunflower seeds. Now make a dressing out of the juice of one lemon, half that volume in olive oil, a large pinch of salt, and a pinch of sugar. Get out the parmesan. Set everything aside until the rice is cool.

Once the rice is cool: Add the ingredients to your own taste, giving the salad a good stir after each ingredient. Save the dressing for second to last though (add just a little of that at a time, and test, as a little goes a long way). Salt to taste, then stir in some grated or canned parmesan, and you are ready for a lovely Italian summer salad. It sounds complicated, but believe me it's not--and if you want to simplify, the only essential ingredients are the tomatoes, basil, salt, and the lemon/olive oil dressing. Enjoy!

posted by Erin at 7:56 PM; 2 comments

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A note about comments
Starting now, when you comment, you'll have to do a word verification. It's the same thing that you see sometimes when you buy concert tickets, where you're shown a picture of a word that's fractured or twisted or patterned or something, and then asked to type in the word. I've done this because as I'm sure you've all noticed, we're picking up a lot of spam, and I don't feel like either reading it or deleting it. The word verification process will prevent any automated spam systems from posting comments because it requires a person to enter the word.

If this doesn't stop the spam, I'll prohibit anonymous commenting. That won't affect anyone who is able to post to this site, but because our comments are through Blogger, it means no one who's not a Blogger user will be able to comment. I had thought it would be nice to keep the comments as open as possible so anyone who happens along and has tasty ideas related to what we're talking about here can chime in.

Because this is a site we started for ourselves, I doubt this is an issue any of us care about very much, except for not wanting to be spammed. However, if the spam continues to be a problem but we want comments to remain open to the general public, as opposed to the Blogger public, I can try switching us to a non-Blogger comments system; for whatever reason, I don't get spam in the comments on my own blog, for instance.

Anyway, that's all. Back to the eating.

posted by Katie at 1:54 PM; 1 comments

Monday, August 22, 2005

Mmmm . . . T-t-t-tuna!
Alright ladies, I am finally embarking on this whole blog thing with my own dear little entry here. Where better to start than with an Erin classic? Tuna pasta is my true stand-by dinner--it's very easy to make, and always tastes delicious (even when you get distracted and let it, um, "toast up" a bit, as I have been known to do on occasion). Very importantly, it is one of those lovely foods that tastes good--to me anyway--in all seasons.

I also love this recipe because it was one of the first things I learned to cook in Italy. I had two Italian roommates there. I became very good friends with one, and the other, though stunningly beautiful, was not someone I could say made any impact on my life at all, except in giving me this recipe. She cooked it almost daily, and I was curious and started watching her, then tried to make it myself and, never having been a huge tuna fish fan, was blown away. Like most things I cook, there are a lot of options and variations, so, basic recipe first, suggestions later.

Oh, but before I get to the recipe, I would just like to use this forum as an opportunity to lodge a formal complaint: the Trader Joe's in Beaverton, Oregon does NOT have cheese samples. The outrage! At first I thought it might have been an isolated incident--bad timing, you know, but now I am 0 for 3, and I know the truth--namely, they are cheap bastards.

Now, without further ado,

Tuna Pasta for 2:

  • Enough pasta for 2 (preferably shaped type pasta, rather than long spaghetti or linguini type)
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 good sized onion, chopped
  • 1 can of tuna fish packed in oil*
  • salt
    *I recently learned that light tuna fish has considerably less mercury in it than the regular canned stuff, so I'd recommend it, though I haven't had a chance to test it out, and I'm not positive that you can buy it packed in oil--the recipe is fatty enough that light tuna couldn't hurt anyway


1. Set a pot of salted water to boiling (you all
know the rest on the pasta).
2. Sauté onions in a tablespoon or two of olive oil on medium in a sauce pan for 5 or 6 minutes,
until they are beginning to brown just a little.
3. Drain oil off tuna (I do this because I am a
snob and prefer as much olive oil and as little other oil as possible, but if you are not a snob, then the amount of oil the tuna comes packed in is just about right for cooking it) and add it to the onions. Add a couple more tablespoons olive oil, and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 or 10 minutes until tuna begins to brown--if necessary, you can always add more olive oil at any time.
4. Once the onions have really browned up and the tuna begins to brown, raise the heat to medium high or high for a few minutes to crisp up the tuna (but keep a close eye on it during this stage!).--Keep in mind, this recipe is better overcooked than under.

5. Salt (and pepper if you'd like) to taste (a lot of salt tastes really good with this dish), toss with pasta, and die of happiness.


Strange to say, the pasta is absolutely delicious with only these ingredients. However, I've experimented with a variety of other possibilities, all delicious. Mostly, these possibilities involve tomatoes. The simplest would be to just add a little bit of puréed tomato from a can at the end, and then cook that down for a couple of minutes. I have also added some plumped up sun-dried tomatoes --if you've plumped them up in boiling water, then you can just toss them with the tuna and pasta in the end.

Now, the very best variation occurred for the first time during Shannon's and my visit to San Francisco this summer. We went to this quite wonderful posh-ish market down by the waterfront in downtown, and there were these cherry tomatoes that we just couldn't resist. So while the tuna was cooking and the water boiling, I set some more onions a-sautéing in a different pan, and then added some coarsely chopped cherry tomatoes, and let them cook down into a sauce. Then I added the tomatoes to the tuna at the end, and let them cook together a few minutes to mix the flavors. Then at the end I sprinkled some basil cut in Shan's fancy french way (very pretty too!) over all. Sigh. Yum.

Also, basil in general would probably be a good addition even without tomatoes. I highly encourage everyone to experiment with spices or the addition of other vegetables. Curiously, the one additon that isn't amazing is parmesan--not that it's bad, it's just a waste of good parmesan, because it really doesn't improve anything.

So, enjoy ladies, and buon appetito!

posted by Erin at 1:09 AM; 5 comments

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Weekend update
Part I: I Heart Ballard

Today, I went to the Ballard Market.

If only I'd been carrying my camera! There were organic carrots, beets, and onions, flats of peaches and nectarines, berries of all kinds, and heirloom tomatoes in all shapes, colors, and sizes (we saw one the size of a softball). Emilia stuffed her shopping bag with romaine lettuce, zucchini, carrots, cute little beets, and pints of raspberries and blackberries. We sampled albacore tuna jerky (yum), pluots, and a bunch of sauces and spice rubs. Handmade fennel and ricotta ravioli were very tempting (maybe next week). I think the best thing about the market, though, was the variety of friendly Ballardites and visitors shopping there. Hippies, yuppies, indie-rockers, and moms and dads with little kids were all out enjoying the vegetables and sun.

It seems that Ballard is the perfect neighborhood. It has a Sunday farmers' market. It has the Tractor Tavern and a Sonic Boom record store. It has Madame K's pizza. It even has a Than Brothers pho place. I wonder if they make "I Heart Ballard" t-shirts.

Part II: Arugulicious

I've been thinking a lot about arugula lately. I keep going back to browse the 312 Epicurious hits that result from a search on "arugula," and I've been wondering how on earth I could make an arugula pesto when my kitchen doesn't include a food processor, blender, or even a mortar and pestle.

Yesterday, I couldn't take it anymore, and bought a nice big bag of it at Trader Joe's, along with a big ol' chunk of Parmigiano. The result was a very satisfying Saturday-night dinner. And the obsession continued this morning at Volterra, where we stopped for brunch before visiting the market. The prosciutto and mozzarella frittata looked good enough on its own, but once I noticed that it was topped with baby arugula, I was sold. Arugula and prosciutto, an unbeatable team!

Having just eaten a panino with (you guessed it) arugula and Parmigiano for dinner, I still have almost an entire bag of the green stuff sitting in my fridge. Any suggestions?

Saturday-night penne
The dregs of a box of penne (I have no idea -- maybe 4 or 5 oz?)
1 handful baby arugula leaves
Olive oil

While the pasta is cooking, chop up your arugula. I used that fancy-schmancy chiffonade cut that's always popping up in Food Network cooking shows. (Roll up a bunch of leaves into a small cigar shape, then take your knife and slice thinly. It should look ribbony, and it's kind of fun to do.) Grate as much Parmigiano as you need (I used a lot). When the pasta is done, drain it and return it to the pot. Add the arugula and enough olive oil to make it easy to mix. Mix. Add some cheese and mix again. Top with lots of cheese. I let this cool for a while, so it was room temperature when I ate it, and it was just right!

posted by shan at 1:24 PM; 4 comments

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Behold the power of cheese
Trader Joe's is going to be the death of me. Specifically, I will die in the aisle where one finds cheese samples. This is where I discovered something that, despite all my wanderings through the world of dairy, I never even knew existed: yogurt cheese. I sneakily consumed far more than my fair share of samples and then did the only morally responsible thing and bought some.

This particular cheese is similar in consistency to Havarti, although a bit firmer and not buttery. It's got some of the bite of plain yogurt, only it's good; the yogurt adds a tangy fullness that sort of evolves in your mouth as you eat it.

All in all, it's much tastier than the popsicle stick I'm gnawing on now that I have sucked down my evening fudgsicle, and you should all try it on your next foray to our favorite alternative grocery store.

posted by Katie at 11:43 PM; 3 comments

Ode to the onion
Sometimes, it's hard for me to remember that until four years ago, I didn't eat onions. Now, I can hardly imagine my life without them. How is it possible that I didn't always love the spicy kick of a red onion in a salad, or grilled onions on a Safeco Field hot dog, or the white onion/green onion double whammy of my favorite pho? The sad truth is that I grew up the child of onion-haters. For as long as I can remember, my dad has followed up the ordering of nearly every restaurant dish with the phrase "Does that come with green onions? Hold the green onions." And to this day, I'll tell my mom about a new recipe, and she'll say, "Does that have onions in it? Oh...[sarcastically]...deleeecious."

But when I moved in with the girls during our senior year of college, I had a choice to make. Sure, I could eschew onions -- but that meant that I wouldn't be eating most of what Robin cooked, which would have been a shame indeed. So I took the plunge, and I've never looked back.

This recipe -- tomato and onion salad -- is one of my favorite ways to eat them. But you should really only make it with the best possible tomatoes and fresh herbs from your mother's garden (especially if she grew them just for you, like mine did!).

This is a very personal salad, I think; it should really be up to you how much of each ingredient you use. The last time I made it, for instance, I probably overdid it on the parsley, and the balance would have been slightly better if I'd used one more tomato. You should feel free to do whatever you want with the proportions. Think of this as a suggestion.

Tomato and onion salad, adapted from Rachael Ray's 30-Minute Meals

4 vine-ripened or farmers' market tomatoes, cut into large chunks
1/2 of a white onion, sliced very thinly
Several sprigs fresh parsley, coarsely chopped (or substitute equal amount of fresh basil)
Olive oil
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper (optional) to taste

Combine tomatoes, onion, and parsley. Add a dab of olive oil -- not too much, just enough to make it easy to mix. Toss ingredients together. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss again. Serve immediately (I also like it chilled, straight from the fridge, but you really should eat some right away). It's great by itself, especially on a hot day, but it is also an excellent accompaniment for Erin's Tuna Pasta.

posted by shan at 10:43 PM; 3 comments

Monday, August 01, 2005

Monday Night Dinners
Girls, thank you! Overnight we have become food bloggers! This is thrilling. I vow to turn over a new spatula and post regularly about all my gastronomic experiences.

I wish I had come home from work this evening to make a dramatic meal on which I could expound herein. I merely had pasta with pesto. It was pesto I made myself earlier in the summer after an episode of farmer's market euphoria resulting in the unwitting purchase of two pounds of basil. I also used my grandpa's olive oil and walnuts cracked and dried by my grandma! Nevertheless, I was tired of said meal even before I started eating. After a little bowl of pasta I concluded that the only solution was the following:

And so, to the grocery store I went, where boxes of the above were two for one! My tongue is now thoroughly orange.

posted by Robin at 9:59 PM; 4 comments

A creature of habit
Another Weekend, Another Wedding
whole foods bastards
vine ripened
Bye bye, Broadway
Pretty in pink
Pesto dreams
Girl meets steak

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