Sunday, May 18, 2014

Clean-the-Fridge Salad

my apartment building
in Nottingham
Hello from Nottingham! I'm here on a three-month research and writing fellowship at the University here, and am having a super productive time, though my cooking experiences have been generally lackluster in my pretty basic kitchen of just 2 pots, 1 pan, 1 glass, 1 plate, 1 fork, 1 knife, and 2 spoons. I have supplemented a bit with a nice big mug (debated a long time in the "Poundland"-like a dollar store-whether to buy the one that said "Relax" or "Chill" on it before picking the latter), a proper paring knife, and my favorite find - a beautiful little olive wood cutting board. Yes, these little odds and ends will come home with me! In the meantime, there's been some really great restaurants and many types of ethnic cuisines to try out here, so don't worry - I'm not going hungry!
my new cutting board

I'm leaving for a week in France and Germany on Tuesday, and so haven't been grocery shopping recently, but this evening, while working on an essay, I pulled together a remarkable little salad with the odds and ends I still had in to bring for lunch tomorrow. I was going for a hard boiled egg, but accidentally dropped the egg a bit when I went to put it in the pan and it cracked. So I went with poached instead!

Here's what I ended up with (and yes, I did need to stop in the middle to wash and re-use one of my pots - such is life!):

Green Salad with Poached Egg, Lentils, and Caramelized Leeks

1 leek, sliced thin, and bathed in a bowl of water to remove dirt
1 tbl butter
1/2 cup green lentils
1 cup water
1 cup salad greens
1 egg
2 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp sumac (found at an amazing international grocer down the road)

Leeks and poached egg
1. Melt butter in a saucepan or frying pan, and add leek bits. Stir frequently, but these will take about 20  minutes to caramelize over medium heat.
2. Mix lentils and 1 cup of water water in a saucepan. Cover and heat to a boil, then uncover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the water evaporates. Add 1/2 tsp salt and stir.
3. Bring 2 cups of water to just beneath a boil in a saucepan. Crack the egg and drop the whites and yolk together gently into the water. Take off the heat and cover for 4 minutes. Voila!
4. Place leeks, lentils, and egg over a bed of greens, top with a bit of olive oil and sumac (if you happen to have it around). Bon Ap!

Looking forward to lunch!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Turmeric-Honey Smoothie

fresh tumeric
I picked up some fresh tumeric at the farmer's market in Opelika this weekend. I've used the powdered yellow turmeric in many curries, couscous, and Middle Eastern dishes (and noted the ways in which the yellow dyes my wooden spoons and countertops), but have never seen the fresh plant, which looks a lot like ginger. The farmer mentioned that it's delicious blended with honey, yogurt, and granola, so I decided to experiment with my morning smoothie. Yum!

Tumeric-Honey Smoothie

1 1" piece of turmeric, peeled and chopped into a few large chunks
1 cup Greek yogurt (I believe in full fat yogurt)
Honey I picked up at my CSA
1 tsp of local honey (really great around here, and good for allergy season, I'm told)
1 banana, broken into small chunks
3/4 cup mixed berries, fresh or frozen
1 tsp flaxseed or powdered flax
2 tbl milk (I also use whole)
3-4 small pieces of kale (if you have some around!)

Put all ingredients in a blender, or into a cup and use an immersion blender to mix together, and enjoy! Quick, delicious, and filling as a morning treat!

my back porch in morning sun
But, I did discover that fresh turmeric does stain hands and countertops! Nothing a few rounds of soap and water can't cure, though.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sesame Kale with Fried Tofu

Seamus inspects kale
Somehow another four months have passed, and there have been many good eats both at home and out during that time, though I've neglected to write about them. Here again, I attempt to pick up my blog with something fast, easy, fresh, and delicious that I made after a long coffee shop work date with some friends. A few days ago, when a friend tried to persuade me to join her for dinner, I insisted that I couldn't because I needed to cook some tofu in my fridge. Obviously overruled, I've spent a bit of time since then thinking about what I should do with that tofu.

Today I took a quick break to walk to a small farmer's market in Opelika with another friend, and picked up some fresh turmeric (which I've never seen before and looks like fresh ginger) and fresh kale. I'm saving the turmeric to add into my morning smoothies, but used the kale as the base for cooking up that tofu.

Sesame Kale with Fried Tofu


1 package extra-firm tofu
2 tbl flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 large bag of fresh kale
3 tbl canola oil
2 tbl sesame oil
1 tbl black sesame seeds

1. Mix flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a small bowl.

2. Chop tofu into medium-sized cubes and stir with the dry ingredients to coat.

3. Heat a small frying pan with 2 tbl of canola oil.

4. Wash kale and heat 1 tbl canola oil in a wok.

5. Fry the tofu slices, a few minutes on each side.

6. Stir-fry the kale for about 5 minutes. Add sesame oil, tofu, sesame seeds, and a sprinkle of salt crystals. Stir and serve.