Chickpea & artichoke stew; chickpea semolina dumplings; olive pine nut sauce

olive and pine nut sauce

olive and pine nut sauce

A few years ago I threw my back out. I was just helping our old dog to stand, and she weighed nothing, she was all bones and sunken skin. And yet, somehow, in trying to help her up I pulled something or other and I couldn’t move without pain for a few days. I couldn’t walk, sit, sneeze, laugh, sleep. I felt as old and infirm as our poor dog. A couple of years later I asked a doctor about my back, because it never seemed to get completely better. She said, “You have to strengthen your core! Strengthen your core.” I’ve been thinking about this phrase a lot lately, as I struggle to do one normal sit-up. I’ve been feeling a little lost and off-kilter. Partly because the boys are back in school, I suppose. And partly because I’ve been doing something for a long time, believing it was important–at least to me. And now I’m thinking about doing something else, which also seems very important but probably isn’t and now I’m all confused, and maybe nothing seems important, so why try to do anything at all? What does important mean, anyway? What does it mean to be important? Ack. In this scattered and bewildered state, I seem to need to strengthen my core. Not my core values or affections, because those are very unvaried, they’re constant. But the core beliefs that are hard to hold onto. Viz…it’s important to understand that you’re valuable to your children and your dog, even if you don’t feel all that good about yourself. It’s important not to let discouragement paralyze you, because time is flying. Don’t let yourself judge your work by what the world rewards with awards and praise and money (have you seen what the world awards with praise and money?) It’s probably good to take a pause and look at everything from the outside, but don’t let your doubts keep you from getting back into it, when the time is ripe, don’t feel foolish about working hard on something you know you’re good at. Don’t feel foolish about giving yourself meandering pep talks while you struggle to do sit-ups!! Strengthen your core! Strengthen your core!!

Chickpea and semolina flour dumplings

Chickpea and semolina flour dumplings

What we have here is a typical, Ordinary tripartite meal. A stewy sort of mix of vegetables, which becomes croquettes the next day, and a flavorful sauce to go with the croquettes. In this case, the stew has chickpeas, leeks, tomatoes, and artichokes. We ate it with plain couscous. The next day I combined the leftover stew and couscous with semolina flour (which is what couscous is made out of!), and some eggs to make the croquettes. And the sauce has olives, goat cheese, pine nuts, and a little maple syrup. The reason it’s this pretty color is that I made it with olive oil which I had steeped with annato seeds. You don’t need to do this…you can use regular olive oil.
Chickpea, potato, artichoke stew

Chickpea, potato, artichoke stew

And that’s that!

Here’s Hold On Be Strong by Outkast. Short and to the point!

Continue reading

Advertisements

Turnip & leek pie

Turnip & greens pie

I like to try to eat local, seasonal vegetables, but I know in the winter it’s just not possible. Oh, sure, I buy winter squash and kale and other cold season veg, but I’m fooling myself if I think it’s grown any where near here. And that’s why I’m absolutely thrilled to belong to a CSA! In the summer I know my vegetables are local and seasonal! Veggies that grow together taste good together!

I love the idea of community gardens and alotments – shared patches of land that people work together to grow food. Eating is such a communal activity, it seems right that growing food should be as well. We get a box of vegetables delivered to us each saturday, and I feel like a kid on Christmas morning as I lift out all of our treasures. And then through the week we visit the farm to pick certain crops that are in season. The boys like to come, too (especially when it’s raspberry season) and they’re a big help in filling up my baskets. It’s a joy to watch them meander through glowing green rows of sweet peas and tomatoes, following the dizzy paths of bees buzzed on sunshine; so pleased with themselves when they find plump, warm vegetables. It’s wonderful to get vegetables I know we love, of course, but it’s a fun challenge to get some we’re not as familiar with, as well. I love dreaming up recipes that will make any vegetable taste good.

This first week wasn’t a challenge at all! I love everything we got – spinach, chard, kale, leeks and … turnips!! Turnips are among my favorite vegetables. And these were beautiful little spring turnips, creamy white and sweet. They didn’t need to be peeled. And their greens were in great shape, as well, which is something I almost never find at the grocery store. I think that turnips, thyme and sharp cheddar are a nearly perfect combination, and I decided to bake that combination into a pie. I like leeks with thyme and cheddar, too, so of course I added those. I wanted to cook the turnip greens into the pie, and I added a big helping of spinach, to soften their sharp flavor. I decided to make a buttermilk crust, just for a change, but you could easily use a regular pate brisée crust, if you wanted something flakier.

Turnip pie

Here’s The Coup with Heven Tonite, because he says, “let’s give everybody homes and a garden plot.” I love this song – it’s the prettiest revolutionary rap song ever.
Continue reading

Leek & tarragon risotto with pecans

Leek & tarragon risotto

Want to hear a funny mondegreen? There’s a line in the Belle and Sebastian song, She’s Losing It, that goes, “Inch for inch and pound for pound, who needs boys when there’s Lisa around.” Well…David (H,C.G.) initially heard it as “Inch for inch and pound for pound, who needs boys when there’s leeks around.” Tee hee!! The leeks I bought (to recreate Remy’s soup) were extraordinarily large… Ahem. Okay, I’ll settle down.

I didn’t really want to make leek soup, mostly because I’d just made soup. But I did want to make something with a broth, because I thought it would be a handy way to use the trimmings from the leeks. (Why the heck are leeks so expensive around here? Aren’t they supposed to be a humble vegetable?) So I decided to make a risotto. And I decided to add tarragon and lots of parsley, because I’ve been in the mood for parsley lately, with its fresh green springlike flavor. And then I decided to top the risotto with toasted pecans, because all that creamy rice can use a flavorful crunch.

The broth is fairly important in a risotto, I think you’ll find. I generally make a broth with shallot, garlic, tomato paste, carrots, mushrooms, marmite, tamari, a handful of french lentils and whatever green thing I have around the house. I thought I’d like to make this a little simpler and brighter, though. So I used leek trimmings, a few sprigs of parsley, some fennel, some garlic, some frozen lettuce (darn my veg drawers!) and a couple of teaspoons of tomato paste. Turned out very nice! You can use what you have though. Even an already-made one, if you like the flavor.

It’s gotta be She’s Losing It from Belle and Sebastian.
Continue reading

Remy’s soup

Remy's soup

Have you ever wondered what Remy puts in the soup that Linguini nearly ruins in Ratatouille? Of course you have! We all have. Well, here in the test kitchens of The Ordinary, we’ve done exhaustive research to arrive at the definitive version of the soup, with the precise ingredients that Remy used. Precisely definitive! We watched this scene dozens of times. We’ve listened to characters’ descriptions of the soup, and we’ve analyzed the inner workings of the kitchen to arrive at a soup that is a “spicy yet subtle taste experience.” Let us walk you through it. To begin with, when Linguini nearly knocks the pot off the stove, the soup looks like tomato sauce. We determined, decidedly, that it’s probably some sort of tomato soup. We kept that part simple, but we did add a spicy element, because nothing we saw Remy add could be described as “spicy.” Linguini adds tap water, an entire bunch of scallions, white wine, and salt, lots of salt. Noted. Remy adds broth, cream, garlic, thyme, black pepper, cubes of potato, leeks, parsley, chervil, more salt, bay leaves and, we believe, basil. He later states, when questioned by Linguini, that he DID NOT add oregano or rosemary, which they both identify as “spices,” although we, here at The Ordinary, would call them “herbs.” The soup turned out delicious! Spicy, yet subtle. My son, something of a Ratatouille scholar himself, ate three bowls, but declared that the color was too rosy. I’m not an imaginary french rat, for heaven’s sake! I’m not actually going to add an entire container of cream!

Here’s Souped Up from the Ratatouille soundtrack to listen to as you leap over the pot, gleefully adding ingredients.
Continue reading