Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Veal in Lemon Sauce With Asparagus and Capers

I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve made veal, not because of a moral thing (leave your outrage in the comments section, please), but because I’m usually underwhelmed by the flavor and haven’t experienced it to be the tender delicacy it’s cracked up to be.

But when I asked The Rob what he wanted for dinner Sunday night, he said, “Not chicken. Not steak. And not pork. Veal! Veal with gravy! You know, that kind of gravy that goes with veal?”

Gentle reader, I did not. However, I intuited that he meant not gravy but sauce, and came up with a take on Veal Piccata incorporating asparagus and capers, that took under an hour, including fettucine and salad on the side.

Though the recipe itself was easy, getting the veal was not. My regular Met Foods, unsurprisingly, did not have it. At the schwanky market in Fort Greene (let’s just call it Stop & Gentrify), the guy behind the meat counter responded to my request with a hollow, pitying “Nooo,” as if to say, “Sooo sorry we can’t accommodate your sick fetish, Jeffrey-Dahmer-of-baby-cows.”

Based on my location, this led to a horrible sinking realization: I would have to forsake my vow to never return to the Pathmark at the Atlantic Center, the mall I’m pretty sure is modeled on a few of Dante’s circles of hell (only less efficiently designed), with the Pathmark representing the deepest and most horrific level.

After I trekked there, my heart sank, for I had no success finding veal. But to my pleasant surprise, just as I was about to sink to my knees on that filthy floor and curse to the heavens about what kind of God would allow me to go to the Pathmark in vain, an employee whose nametag read “Diddy” led me to the exact super-thin sliced cutlets I wanted. Gentle reader, this was a Gay Pride Day miracle as far as I was concerned--I mean, it was a miracle, and it was Gay Pride Day, so there you go.

However, I still had to wait 15 minutes in the “express” line, where you have to scan your own groceries. This was an utterly new and bewildering experience, which seriously caused me to act like a scene out of Demolition Man or Encino Man or any of those “Man” movies where someone from the past gets unfrozen and is hopelessly confused by technology. So that was another ten minutes, during which I had to ask the Pathmark hall monitor for help like, six times.

But anyhoo! I procured the veal and cooked it, and it was pretty good! And here’s the recipe!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Veggie Rage: Broccoli Rabe

Hi all!

As you may or may not know about me, I really like veggies. I like almost all veggies. In fact, as I sit here, trying to think about a vegetable I don't like, I am coming up... empty. I can't, at this moment, think of a vegetable that I won't eat. It is this love that I have for all things green (and red and yellow and white and orange) that is injured whenever I see these food corporations blithely, and with an ironic "wink wink", showing us how to choke down servings of vegetables in a quick tasty beverage, and sneak vegetables to our children. Heaven forbid anyone should prepare with excitement, and consume with enjoyment, a vegetable that actually resembles a vegetable.

I have called attention to some of the more egregious examples of this in a previous "Veggie Rage" post about brussels sprouts, but today I am turning my attention to another of my favorite bundles of green: Broccoli Rabe.

If you're not familiar with this delightful combination of floret and leafiness, it resembles kale (although not as curly) with smaller, looser, larger-sprouted broccoli florets.

Broccoli Rabe, also known as Rapini, is more bitter than your standard broccoli, but is just as, if not more, versatile than our old friend broccoli (which i would never disparage. I promise, broccoli, i have nothing but love for you and will definitely do a broccoli-focused post at some point). Broccoli Rabe makes a lovely side accompaniment, pasta dish, and I have been known to consume it as a main dish, which I happened to do this particular evening.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Quick Comfort Food: Fiori With Ham and Peas in Cream Sauce

As I've mentioned before, pasta is pretty much my go-to dish, and frozen peas are a staple. The simple one-pot, one-bowl meal I made tonight has some elements in common with Pasta With Peas and Bacon, and I think it serves to illustrate what a wide range of everyday pasta dishes you can make with a mix of rotating and standby ingredients.

This probably won't take more than 20 minutes, start to finish. You can use any pasta you like, but I thought fiori (Italian for “flower”), pictured at right, were awfully cute and would soak up a cream sauce nicely. (Incidentally, an image search for “fiori pasta” yielded this work of genius.) About three-quarters of a 1-lb. box of pasta serves two generously, although it's annoying to have a small amount left over, so you could always make the whole box and reserve some plain cooked noodles to add to salads or soup.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

You Can Make This Yourself: Babaganoush!

Hi Everyone,

Sorry again for what feels like an extended absence. Instead of making excuses about being busy (everyone is busy) I figured that in order to make amends, I would post about something that I get recipe requests for constantly. It's delicious, easy to make, and always a hit as a side dish, condiment, or sandwich spread (or are condiments and sandwich spreads the same thing? I have no idea, I am just trying to tell you it's damned versatile) It's babaganoush!

Eggplants are our friends, and if you've been following the blog, and have made hummus, then aside from picking up some eggplants, you have ALL the ingredients in your kitchen to make babaganoush.

I went to my favorite produce place over on third avenue and 26th street in Brooklyn, Rossman Fruit and Vegetable where I can load up on provisions for at least a week and spend around $20. They had what it took to fill my eggplant needs- eggplants for $0.99/lb, and I promptly picked 4 medium sized, firm skinned purple beauties. As I made my way further into the store, I saw more eggplants for $0.69/lb. I looked at them, saw that they had a few more blemishes than the $$0.99/lb babies- see said blemish?

But with babaganoush, the skin blemishes don't really matter too much, plus I knew I was going to be cooking them right away, so I celebrated my $0.30/lb savings, let the other guy who had picked up some "expensive" eggplants that there was an eggplant bargain around the corner, and continued with my shopping.
(seriously, if you live anywhere in the vicinity, go to Rossman!)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Roasted Fennel

So, I roasted a chicken for dinner tonight, but I can't write about that, because as soon as our friend Chloe gets back from her exciting international trip, she's going to be the pupil at the first official Brooklyn Girls Cooking cooking lesson, Roast Chicken 101! See, when I blogged about Curried Chicken Salad, she pointed out that it was putting the cart before the horse for kitchen newbies to have a recipe calling for leftover cooked chicken, so Alyce and I are going to teach her, which we're very excited about. (Granted, another reader simply bought a cheap rotisserie chicken instead of whining about it, but whatever, I digress.)

Aaanyhoo, I decided to instead let y'all know about one of the accompaniments to the chicken, a roast fennel (top left in photo above) that I considered doing in the pan with the chicken but ended up doing in a separate dish -- thereby not putting the cart before the horse with a roast-chicken-derived recipe this time.

This serves two and involves little more than a toss in oil. It shrinks down a lot in the oven, so it's not so much a full vegetable side, more like a garnish to serve with meat in lieu of a sauce. (I served with green beans and roasted yellow peppers, and potato slices pan-roasted with the chicken. Hey, the air finally cooled off so I thought I should get a last hurrah out of the oven for the season.)

You may think of fennel as being crisp and having a licorice taste, but that's just when it's raw. Roasted, it softens, develops a rich but subtle not-quite-sweetness, and becomes addictively caramelized. If you do cook it with meat, it will soak up the liquid and flavor and get that much more tender.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Parsley-Pesto Pasta

Remember back in the '80s, when pesto was the height of worldly, sophisticated cuisine and – perhaps not coincidentally -- Cuisinarts were high-end, cutting-edge technology? Nowadays, pesto is an everyday all-'Merickan dish*, and it is ridiculously quick and easy enough to make any weeknight, especially if you have one of them thar no-longer-so-newfangled food processors. It's so versatile (and keeps for so long) that it's worth having a batch in your fridge as a go-to for pasta, salads, and sandwiches.

As with hummus, you can easily make and store massive quantities of pesto on the cheap with just a whirl of the aforementioned processor (or a blender/immersion blender), as opposed to spending $5 on that 8-ounce plastic package that contains Lord knows how much sodium and what kind of preservatives. And there are plenty of even cheaper variations on the classic basil-and-pine-nut variety, like the nutless parsley-based version I made last night. I used cheese tortellini and added some diced tomatoes and yellow pepper (pictured), but you could skip those and/or add anything else you like.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Chicken Curry With Baby Spinach

After a (gloriously) red-meat-filled Memorial Day, I thought we should have a light Tuesday supper (especially since it was 85 degrees and muggy out), and opted for an extremely simplified take on chicken curry with baby spinach and tomatoes, served over rice with green peas.

This dish is quick, easy, and healthier than most things I make. It serves two, and you might have enough left over for one person’s lunch.