Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pesto Potato Salad

For the last Lost potluck (but don't worry, we'll find some other reason to get together and eat good food!), we were grilling. So I made potato salad. But I've never been a big fan of your standard creamy potato salad, so I made a really GOOD potato salad. I recommend it.

I cut up a bunch of yukon gold potatoes into bite sized pieces and boiled them for a few minutes until they were tender but not falling apart. I cooled them off in cold water and drained them.

Then I tossed them with olive oil, course salt, and freshly ground pepper. The not-so-gentle tossing breaks up their surfaces a bit and allows the oil and flavors to soak in.

While the taters cooled off more, I mixed up a few ice cubes of pesto (frozen from last year's garden haul), chopped up some strips of fresh basil from the garden (yes, it's growing!), and squeezed the juice from a whole lemon (probably could have used two) into a bowl and mixed it all up.

- Note: if you're making fresh pesto for this, be sure to put in garlic and plenty of salt.

Then I tossed the pesto-lemon mixture into the potatoes. Delicious!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Pasta delight

Sometimes a stroke of genius hits me. I'm sure this happens to you too. You're hungry, you're thinking about what's in the fridge and cupboards and... nothing. But sometimes... Sometimes something comes to you - WHAM! You think of an amazing meal. I got lucky the other day!

This was inspired by my almost completely uninformed idea about what puttanesca sauce is. And it came to me mainly because we had this wine open that needed a proper pairing (Hillcrest 2006 Zinfandel - dark, smokey fruit). In my head, the wine flavors and the as-yet-unmade sauce seemed to go together. So I whipped something up.

- Chopped up some canned tomatoes (fresh would work too of course!)
- Chopped up some kalamata and green olives
- Crumbled up some canned tuna (fresh, delicious Sweet Creek variety)
- Squished a clove of garlic
- Squeezed most of a lemon
- Fished a bunch of capers out of a jar
- Added some lemon olive oil
- Cooked spaghetti

I heated up some olive oil in a sauce pan and fried up the garlic a little bit. Then I just dumped in everything else and added a little salt. I let it simmer for a few minutes, and then added it to the spaghetti when it was done and tossed it up. We shaved some parmesan on top and had it with the Zin. It was fantastic. Devine. Perfect.

Like I said, I got lucky.

Mother's Day Crepes

Guys, do yourself a favor and make crepes for your mom next year. I think these were a huge success! Thanks to my mom for many things, but in particular coming to visit today and trying my crepes. :)

Anyone can make pancakes, but crepes? Crepes are a little scary. But there was an article in the paper last week about a fool-proof recipe so I got it in my head that I should try them sometime. Then, we had some leftover ricotta cheese on hand because we had sausage hoagies again, and needed something to do with it. Ricotta cheese - being all sweet and creamy - would be great in crepes, I thought. And thus today's brunch was born.

The article has some great tips to read before you try out the recipe (which I won't type up, because you know how to click on a link, right?), including making the batter in advance and refrigerating it. I took these, read through the whole recipe, and had complete success. For a filling, I blended ricotta cheese with my homemade blackberry jam for a pretty and sweet blend. My mom put some extra jam on top too.

To round out the brunch, we cooked up some Beeler's all natural pork sausage. Yum! Something to enjoy with mom any time of the year!

In case you don't WANT to click through on the link, here's the recipe:
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
about 4 Tblsp butter

Seriously, read the recipe and tips. Here are my thoughts at the end of it all:

- Blending this in a blender was super easy.
- Use about a teaspoon or two of butter only per crepe - and I didn't see the need to wipe the pan between crepes as the recipe instructed. The butter started getting pretty brown, but no big deal for me.
- It seemed like the trick was really swirling all the batter around the pan well to get it nice and even before setting it back down on the burner to cook.
- I kept the crepes warm by putting each one between wax paper layers and putting in a warm oven.
- We added our filling at the end, but then it didn't get warm. If you want your filling warm, add the filling before you remove the crepe from the pan.
- This made 7 crepes - enough for all three of us.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mmm... Steak

Those of you who have known me a long time know that I wasn't always a meat eater. My parents raised us without "red" meat, but we did eat fish, poultry, and occasional bacon. I was a true vegetarian for a while too. But my membership has lapsed and I haven't renewed. Disapprove all you want, but I really like eating meat. And luckily, in Eugene, it's easy to find meat that is raised as naturally as possible. Yes, "all natural" cows still graze on public land, consume a lot of water, etc. but it is far better than the alternative, and I like supporting businesses who do it the better way.

Anyway... We got some Painted Hills ribeye steaks, on sale at the Market of Choice, last week. We had to wait most of the week for the weather to be nice enough to grill, but yesterday it was. So we fired up the charcoal, slapped these huge marbled steaks down and cooked them up. Other than a little salt and pepper, I didn't do anything to them.

Alongside, we grilled up some asparagus. Those I tossed with some lemon olive oil, salt and pepper before grilling.

Given my late coming to the meat world, I haven't eaten a lot of steaks in my life. And I don't often keep track of the cuts, or know much about one over another. But this ribeye... WOW!!!! It was SO flavorful! Maybe it was because it is a fattier steak, and maybe it was just cooked to perfection (medium-well in this case), but it was amazing.

The asparagus had just a hint of lemon flavor to it, and we cooked it just until it still had its crunch.

For wine we could have gone with something heartier, but we really wanted some Pinot Noir. The Marylhurst Vista Hills 2007 that Rose and I picked up in January was perfect. It stood up well to the rich but simple dinner, and complemented it nicely. We got lucky! Yum!