31 December 2016

a breakfast sandwich in casserole form

Now you know I like a good, fatty brunch at least as well as I like drinking the night before...this may be the best way to kick off what may be an otherwise sketchy year.  The first time I tried it, I had 2/3 of several bagels that my cat had gnawed on before remembering he prefers meat, and I didn't want to waste the parts of each bagel that had not been tainted with cat spit.  In the process I realized that it very much reminded me of a gooey, cheese breakfast sandwich. Bonus: make it the night before and all you've got to do is sit around and wait in the morning while it cooks.  

Breakfast Sandwich Casserole

Serves 6-8

1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
8 large eggs
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons grainy mustard
6 kalamata olives, chopped
Kosher salt
1 pound day-old everything bagels (3 large), cut into 1-inch pieces 
1 small bunch of kale or other cooking green, stemmed and chopped
½  pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons minced rosemary
2 scallions, thinly sliced
8 ounces  shredded cheese of your choice

Lightly grease a 2-quart oval baking pan. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk, mustard, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Stir in the bagel pieces and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the kale and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until tender and wilted, about 7 minutes. If you had bits of leftover vegetables in the fridge, you could cook those here, too. Stir in the cherry tomatoes, garlic, rosemary and cook until the tomatoes start to soften, about 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the scallions; season with salt and pepper. Let cool slightly.

Fold the vegetables and shredded cheeses into the bagel mixture, then transfer to the prepared baking pan. You could cook this now, or you could cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight to cook in the morning.

Preheat the oven to 375°. Cover the baking pan with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, remove the foil and bake for 35 minutes more, or until the top is puffed and golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (cooking times will be longer if you pull this directly out of the fridge before baking). Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Melvin, who made this meal possible with his
fine bagel-hunting skills. 

23 December 2016

Christmas Eve-Eve preparations

'Tis the night before the night before Christmas, and you need to take it easy so you can get through this dumpster fire of a holiday.  Perhaps you are already inundated with visiting relatives who don't like your food, house, or local entertainment. Perhaps your kids have now been home from school for just enough days to make you consider "accidentally" leaving them in a faraway aisle of the nearest Toys R Us for someone else to rescue. Perhaps you have just whipped yourself into such a grocery-buying, food-prepping frenzy that you feel dizzy and your feet ache. Tonight is the night you can dispense with the ambitious need to eat a balanced meal or do something productive.  Think of he chart, below, as a handy little choose-your-own-adventure for Christmas Eve Eve. From me to you.

What to Wear (choose one or none)
What to Drink (choose two)
What to Eat (choose two, plus chili-cheese Fritos)
What to Do (choose no more than one)
Egg nog (with or without rum)
Tuscan White Bean Dip with chips or toast
Netflix, with or without chill
Yoga pants and sweatshirt
Strap on snowshoes and take out the garbage
Swimsuit (for our California fans)
Groom your pets
Green corduroys and a cat shirt
Hot chocolate
Lay on the couch and stare at the ceiling

17 December 2016

Simple green chile and potato stew

Now that the majority of the country is fully in a deep freeze, I think we can all agree that gazpacho and a leafy salad sounds like a terrible idea for a meal.  It's time for some heavy, spicy soups, ammiriiiite?

Having grown up in the Midwest in the 80s, I did not know the magical perfection of Hatch green chiles until I moved to the Rocky Mountains in the early 00s. I don't think geography is a problem anymore, though; you can buy perfectly respectable roasted chiles in freezer sections of grocery stores all over the country now. And so that means you can also make this ridiculously simple, tasty stew, which jars well and also keeps in the freezer for a month of so if you make too much (but you won't).

It's a little spicy if you choose hot chiles, so this is best served with a cerveza, parked at a window while the snow comes down.

Green Chile Stew with Potatoes

Serves 4

1 1/2 cups green chiles or poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, and diced
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil or other vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
1 teaspoon teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon teaspoon ground cumin
1 garlic clove, minced
4 medium Russet potatoes peeled and chopped into 1 1/2-inch chunks
Salt and pepper
2 cups vegetable stock or water
Sour cream (or Greek yogurt), chopped cilantro, and lime wedges for serving

Heat the oil in a wide pot; add the onion and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the coriander, cumin, garlic, and potatoes, followed by the chile, along with 1/2 teaspoon salt and give a stir. Cook together of a few minutes, then add the water or stock. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer.
Cook and cover until the potatoes are completely softened, about 25 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. At this point you can mash the potatoes, or at least a few of them to give the stew a thicker texture, if desired.

Pour into a bowl; add a dollop of sour cream and the chopped cilantro and squeeze lime over the top.

09 December 2016

12 Days of holiday Inspiration, the non-Pinterest edition

I keep getting this post popping up on my Pinterest page as something I might like: "12 Days of DIY Craft and Decor Ideas". Have any of you seen this?  It has some pretty serious bullshit on there, like making your own printable board games, templates for letters to Santa, and holiday pet photos. Given that my pins are dominated by abstract art, photos of cats falling into things or misusing furniture, and graphic tees with swear words on them, I really don't know what the Pinterest bot was thinking. But OK, challenge accepted.  I have come up with my own 12 days of blah blah blah, but I think mine are way easier to maintain. You know what? We're all busy.  Let's be overachievers and get it done in six.

1. Have some people over for wine and snacks.  Roast some packaged gnocchi for the snack.
2. Plan your wintry dream vacation for after the holidays.
3. Make some big batches of soup and freeze or can for later.
4. Get some eggnog (the pumpkin spice of December) and make some drinks!
5. Infuse some vodka and get rid of that chemical-flavored shit in your cupboard (also a great gift idea for your alcoholic friends).
6. Make this insanely good orzo casserole for brunch, with or without friends.

 You can drink on the rest of the days until Christmas. 

02 December 2016

Ode to Japchae

Because it's cold, and noodles...but it's only an "ode" because I like to add gojuchang and can't usually find sweet potato noodles at my local store. Sorry to the purists out there!

Ode to Japchae

Serves 4

1/4 cup soy sauce low sodium, or tamari
1-2 gojuchang
1 cup firm tofu diced, (7 ounces)
8 ounces sweet potato starch noodles or bean thread noodles
4 ounces spinach fresh
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup yellow onion thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic minced
6 shiitake mushrooms stems removed and thinly sliced
1/2 cup carrots shredded
2 scallion stalks cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons Sesame oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds

In a medium sized bowl whisk together soy sauce and gojuchang. Add in tofu, gently stir to coat and allow to marinate while you prepare other ingredients.

Bring a large pot of water to boil, enough to fit the noodles. Cook noodles in boiling water for 5 minutes. Do not discard water. You will use it for blanching the spinach. Use tongs to transfer to a colander and rinse noodles under cool running water. Cut the noodles into 6-inch long pieces with scissors. Set aside.

Blanch spinach in the same pot of water that you cooked the noodles for 1 minute, until wilted. Drain the water and rinse under cold running water. Roll spinach into a ball and squeeze out excess water. Use a knife to cut the spinach ball in half. Set aside.

Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and allow to heat up. Add onion, garlic, mushrooms, and carrot, saute for 2 minutes. Add scallion and saute 1 minute. Add tofu and cook 1 minute to warm (do not discard sauce). Turn heat to low and add noodles, spinach, sesame oil and sauce. Gently stir to combine until noodles are coated with the sauce. Serve topped with sesame seeds.