Don’t worry, I’m not calling these tortas

It is so late in the week that I can’t remember why I decided to make non-tortas for lunch this week. I think it was because I found this bread I really like at my supermarket but have run out of things I want to put on it. (One week of turkey is really all I can handle.) So I decided to use them to make totally inauthentic tortas. Or cemitas. I don’t know the difference; I’m very sorry. (You know what’s weird? This is not the first time I’ve looked at that link.)

So I think the main quality of cemitas and tortas is the bread they’re made with, so I completely failed from the start. It occurred to me later that I probably could have done it right—there is an amazing-smelling Mexican bread store literally right next door—but I went the whole-wheat route because I suffer from extreme, constant hunger.

Anyway. These are sandwiches inspired by tortas. I used Goya refried beans, because I was lazy, and mozzarella cheese, because I had a lot left and didn’t think I would be able to get through a whole ball of Oaxaca cheese before it went moldy. (They taste and feel very similar to me—or at least they do when you buy the inauthentic, un-fresh kind you get in supermarkets—so I didn’t worry about it too much. But now I feel like if they are really that similar, I should have just bought Oaxaca cheese and used the leftover for baked ziti. Would that have been weird? I have a feeling I will find out at some point.) I used a quick recipe to make pickled jalapeños rather than Pati Jinich’s recipe, because by the time I realized they would be sitting in the fridge all night anyway it was too late and I had none of the ingredients for Pati’s (probably better) version. Or I didn’t want to scale down a recipe that called for three pounds of jalapeños into one that used no more than six jalapeños.

Pickling. Don’t breathe.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Hummus pitas

Hello dear blog readers,

I wasn’t going to post about this because it is not a recipe, but then I took two very pretty pictures and wanted to put them on the blog, so here is a wonderful post about hummus pitas.

I spend 90 percent of my time (and 98 percent of my conversations with Jacqui) agonizing about what to make for lunch. The only remotely happy meat my grocery store carries is Applegate, and they are mad expensive, yo, so usually I go for vegetarian lunches instead. It is an ongoing problem.

This week hummus was on sale (I have been meaning to make my own but have finally accepted the fact that my “food processor” is not a real food processor, it’s just a very small thing with a blade that doesn’t really do anything, so I don’t want to put the effort into what will almost certainly fail… despite what is actually kind of the mission of this blog), so I made hummus pitas. (This post sounds like an SEO post. I have said “hummus pita” like 98 times.) (Note: You can tell how bored/procrastinatory I am feeling by how many superfluous links I add to my posts. OR AM I GETTING PAID? No, I am not.)

My lunch assembly line. (Sorry this is so dark. It was morning and there is no light in my kitchen. iPhoto and my brain couldn’t solve this.)

This involves:
Continue reading

Seasonally incorrect pasta

I have been cooking and blogging THE ENTIRE DAY. Every post from this week was written TODAY. (Sunday.) I did not kickbox, see my bros, or really go outside (except for a fancy-grocery-store run in flip flops, during which I got wet and very cold. It was raining all day and it was nasty and horrible). I’m finally up to dinner. But I had this plan to make Swiss chard and radicchio pasta with chicken and cheese (the first title for this blog, long before I started it, was “Pasta with shit in it”), and then I looked at the weather forecast for the week and it was ridiculously hot all week. I was like nOOOOOO I CAN’T HANDLE THIS I HATE THE HEAT MY AIR CONDITIONER IS NOT INSTALLED I HAVE TO MOVE ALL MY FURNITURE ALSDKGHOIH;ER I FASLDFJ also, I had been cooking and blogging all day, did I mention that?

But I had no other options, so even though this pasta thing is definitely not even remotely appropriate for warm weather, I decided to make it anyway. I figured if I added lots of red pepper flakes and not too much cheese, it might be OK. I don’t really believe this, but we’ll see. (A few weeks ago I read a blog post that was like, “It’s getting warm, and I’ve started craving salads!” I was like, screw that, it’s getting warm and I still crave lasagna.)

This is a pasta of my own invention, born of the fact that I had a head of radicchio in my fridge. I decided to get Swiss chard as well, just because; I was going to add chickpeas, but I have stopped liking chickpeas and have been having meat cravings. Since I never crave meat, I decided I am probably anemic or something and should eat as much meat as possible. Yum. So I am having chicken, and it’s relatively happy.

I washed/chopped the radicchio and Swiss chard, and sauteéd them with olive oil. After they wilted a bunch, I added a lot of garlic (two spoonfuls of the pre-chopped stuff, probably about four cloves… no, maybe more), salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes, as per my usual. They’re actually now just sitting in the pan by themselves, without the heat, since they seem to be done.

Continue reading

Baked orzo with chard

This post could also be titled: how I planned to follow a cool recipe and then decided just to make something that tasted like my favorite baked ziti and was way better than the original plan. The recipe had leeks, dill, and feta cheese, and I spent all day convincing myself that I wanted to eat these things, but I absolutely did not; I went home and made it with onions, some basil pesto from the freezer, and mozzarella. It is pretty much my ideal food, but if you don’t like pasta with tomato sauce and cheese you shouldn’t bother making it.

I will also do a tutorial on Swiss chard, since there have been questions. I love Swiss chard—it’s my favorite leafy green—but it has a very distinct and slightly weird taste, so you probably shouldn’t make it the centerpiece of your meal unless you’ve tried it. I really like it sauteed until entirely wilted and silky, with lots of garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt. So you should try this.

Anyway, here’s a bunch of Swiss chard (regular, not rainbow—rainbow is prettier, but I don’t think there’s any other difference. Oh, Wikipedia says rainbow isn’t even a breed, just a bunch of different colors put together…).

The stems don’t look great—most recipes tell you to throw them out, but this one uses them, which I like. But you still have to separate them, since the stems take much longer to cook than do the leaves. You fold the leaves together behind the stem and grip the leaves in one hand, near the stem; then you just use the other hand to pull the stem out. It’s easier than it sounds. I can’t describe it properly. It’s also not an exact science.

Then you chop it.

This is maybe an excessive number of pictures of chard.

Then you combine it with onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes. For some reason, this smelled AMAZING. I mean, I thought it would smell good, but it just smelled ridiculously great. It was weird.

Oh, also, you should be listening to the MOTH Story Slam while you do all this. This episode was on. In all sincerity you need to listen to the second one, “Franny’s Last Ride.” I have somehow heard it twice and may or may not have cried both times.

Anyway. Add your chard leaves after a few minutes, then your tomato paste (TIP: You will never ever use a whole can of tomato paste before it goes moldy; stick it in the freezer) and then crushed tomatoes. I also added a few frozen tablespoons of pesto at this point, as a sort of substitute for the dill. I had added less oil than was called for at the beginning (possibly), so I figured the extra oil was OK at this point. Then orzo, cheese, etc., bake.

I baked it for only twenty minutes and it was perfect and finished and bubbly and melty.

This will not in any way serve six. Unless you and/or your friends and relatives eat far less pasta than you should.

Baked Orzo with Chard, Mozzarella and Pesto
(adapted from Serious Eats)

2 tbsp olive oil (less if you plan to use pesto, or the same amount if you don’t care how much oil you eat, which is proper and correct)
1 small-to-medium onion (depending on how oniony you want your pasta), diced
1 large bunch chard, rinsed well, leaves and stems divided; stems cut in ribbons, stems diced
2 medium cloves garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
Basil, chopped, or pesto
1 c (5 oz) uncooked orzo
4 oz mozzarella, cubed

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a two-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray (or not. I cooked it on the stove in my Dutch oven and then just transferred the Dutch oven to the oven).

Heat olive oil until shimmering. Add onion, chard stems, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook about four minutes, until not quite brown. (I don’t even know what that means. It’s not in the recipe.) Add tomato paste and cook for another minute; add chard leaves and cook until wilted. Add crushed tomatoes and orzo and bring to a boil. If you’re using frozen pesto, you might as well add it now so it can defrost and become incorporated. Stir well and remove from heat. Add mozzarella cheese (and fresh basil, if using. I can’t comment on what happens to basil when you bake it but I assume it’s fine. Basil rules).

At this point I just covered the Dutch oven with its lid and stuck it in the oven for twenty minutes; if you’re Dutch-oven-less, put a piece of aluminum foil over your baking dish and cover tightly. If you wish, uncover after twenty minutes and bake for an additional twenty. My orzo was cooked after twenty and I was OK with the level of browning so I didn’t bother.

 

Something amazing recently happened to Fitzpatrick: he is now a unicorn.

Marcella’s tomato sauce

Last week was a week of healthy Indian food, low on carbs, and tons of kickboxing. I was kind of hungry and salt-deprived all week and was generally feeling weird and dizzy and light-headed, so I decided I should return to my food roots this week and just have tons of pasta. This is the way my body is used to functioning, and things turn weird when I don’t eat enough pasta/carbs. (I am actually serious about this. I think it’s my metabolism. I can’t get full unless I have a lot of carbs.)

So I wanted to find a way to make pasta interesting, since usually I just put some things on it and that’s it. I am planning to do Swiss chard, chickpeas, and cheese (gruyere and/or mozzarella), in the vein of that one thing I made a while ago and took horrible cell-phone pictures of, but then I thought I would do a real tomato sauce. I have made tomato sauce before, but always just by throwing things into a pot of simmering crushed tomatoes—I wanted, this time, to do a big, real one. So I’m doing the one Marcella Hazan describes as “the most concentrated and the most strongly flavored”: Tomato Sauce I. I’m using canned tomatoes because it is April and there are no good tomatoes anywhere (and also because even when it is tomato season all the tomatoes I can ever find are nasty).

This recipe involves a full half-cup of olive oil. Ew. I am sautéeing 1/3 c onions in it now, and will soon add carrots and celery, finely diced. (That’s what I meant about a real tomato sauce—so many small bits in it.)

There are very few pictures for this post, and all of them are very bad.

Continue reading

Crabby broccoli soup

There is no crab in this soup. I was just in an extremely bad mood when I made it.

I recently got an immersion blender, in the unfortunately-named color Dark Yellow, and wanted to make cream of broccoli soup. I couldn’t find a non-boring-looking recipe, so I minorly adapted this broccoli-cheddar soup from The Kitchn.

It involved cleaning leeks. Cleaning leeks is a kitchen thing I actually know how to do. Leeks are insanely dirty—you’ll find dirt within all the layers deep inside—so what you’re supposed to do is cut them longitudinally into quarters (not all the way!!) and then swish them around in a big bowl of water. I just splayed them out under the faucet and tried to get most of the dirt out. I did not entirely succeed, but I also did not care, because I was in a horrible mood.

Sorry this photo is so horrible.

Sorry this photo is so horrible.

Leeks make me wish I knew how to take photographs.

https://i1.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8345/8242346929_3b4d3aea5e.jpg

The leeks softened in oil in a big pot, and then I added the vegetable broth and diced, peeled Yukon Gold potato (because they are waxy and thus, I think, better for soup—unlike Idahos or russets or whatever—the normal brown ones). While this was all going on, I put my broccoli in my two pans (one roasting pan/lasagna pan? I call it a lasagna pan) and one brownie pan (9×9). I had already cut it into those pretty floret things. At this point I tried to pour olive oil over them evenly, but did not succeed, so after sprinkling them with salt I mixed everything together with my hands. This was very enjoyable, so I did it too exuberantly and some broccoli fell into the Mouse Danger Zone, the giant gap between the oven and the sink/cabinet structure. (Mouse Danger is no joke. I did not enjoy fishing out the broccoli.)

This is by far the most exciting photo ever taken.

This is by far the most exciting photo ever taken.

The broccoli roasted for about fifteen minutes—I mixed it once or twice, ineffectively, with a wooden spoon—while the vegetable broth was coming to a boil. I then added the broccoli to the boiling soup, and did not take a picture because things looked pretty disgusting. Then I whipped out my extremely handy immersion blender… and blended. This went well until the end, when I had a perfectly creamy, blended soup except for some giant broccoli stalks that WOULD NOT BLEND. It was freaky. I kept locating them and then putting the immersion blender directly on top of them; this made a surprising and ominous sound, but did not blend anything. Eventually I just took them out, diced them, and returned them to the pot for some not-particularly-desired texture. I also added the cheddar cheese—I didn’t have a cup, I don’t think; I just grated and added the rest of my block of cheddar cheese. It looked like maybe 1/2 to 3/4 cup. It melted in.

I then finally tasted things. (I am bad at remembering to taste things until it’s too late.) It was decent, but bland-ish; I added lemon juice, some glugs of milk for creaminess, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes (I LOVE red pepper flakes and add them to everything).

Highly mysterious broccoli soup.

Highly mysterious broccoli soup.

Then I crabbily washed the dishes, because the dish I wanted to store the soup in was dirty.

Anyway, I had it for lunch today. It was actually much better than it had been yesterday, or I was just hungrier. It was good. Not the greatest soup of all time, but very good. And warm. Then it, or something, gave me a stomachache. But I believe this is a personal problem and not related to the soup.

The end.

There are people out there who don’t know what quinoa is.

It is this. (What a truly brilliant website.) It is an ancient seed that the Incas used (possibly). It tastes nutty… and seedy. I usually use it in salad but this week, inspired by a Brown University undergrad I know, I’ve been eating it with shit tons of cheddar cheese. I also massively overcooked it because I decided it would be a great idea to rinse the whole pound first (you’re supposed to rinse it a few times to remove the bitter coating), but then I realized I couldn’t dry it and it would probably go moldy in some horribly fearsome way.

Anyway, so I cooked an entire pound of quinoa in a very small pot, thus burning the bottom to a coal-like mass. The rest of it got mushy. So overall, this quinoa-with-cheese thing is basically just cheesy mush, which I’m OK with.

Behold. (Ugh, I forgot to take an After shot. Well, I melted the cheese, and then I ate it.)

Anyway, here is my favorite salad recipe. (This is quinoa-related.) I think I invented it? Inspiration from Orangette and the Amateur Gourmet. Well, not inspiration from the Amateur Gourmet; I just stole his salad dressing recipe outright. Also, I once tried to fiddle with it by using apple cider vinegar, and it was vile.

Best Salad in the Known Universe:

-endive

-radicchio

-ugh how do you make the spaces between the lines smaller?

-scallions (preferably grown in a tacky pink Coney Island cup on your kitchen table)

-feta cheese

-other vegetables: cherry tomatoes, carrots, green peppers (not red peppers, as they are the scourge of the earth)

I think sometimes I also use regular lettuce. Anyway, the main point is the radicchio, feta cheese, and QUINOA. Then put the above-stolen salad dressing on it, and eat it. At work. While shoe-shopping.