Tag Archives: Sunday Supper

Sunday Supper: Fun with figs!

The date: Sunday, July 24, 2011

The menu: Grilled prosciutto-wrapped figs, leftover farro, pea shoot salad, and chilled gewürztraminer

The inspiration: my good friend, Kristine, and Willi from DigginFood

This dinner was probably the best outcome of a run ever (besides of course all the burned calories). Somehow the topic of figs came up during our loop around the lake and it surfaced that I have never actually eaten a fresh fig before. My mouth was watering as Kristine suggested wrapping them in prosciutto and putting them on the grill. I went directly to the store on my way home and bought myself some figs.

And that’s pretty much what I ate for dinner – a basket of figs, rubbed with a touch of olive oil, wrapped in thinly sliced Italian prosciutto (I had to fudge the local thing just a little for this indulgence), grilled to perfection. I added some leftover farro to the side so it didn’t seem like the only thing I was eating was a decadent hors d’oeuvre. I also had my first pea shoot salad, which was the most delicate and delicious accompaniment to my fig main course.

With every delicious bite, as fig juices dripped down my chin, I thought to myself, Figs! Where have you been all my life? Why have I never eaten fresh figs before? They are delicious! And it’s funny because that evening, I saw that both Ashley and Kate were having fun with figs too. Grilled cheese with thyme honey and figs? Seriously? Yes, please! Sounds like dinner. I am so glad I finally caught on to this. Although I may have created a monster.

Sunday Supper: When cauliflower calls

The date: Sunday, July 10, 2011

The menu: Baked chicken curry, fresh cauliflower salad, basmati rice, and strawberry cardamom upside-down cake

The inspiration: At Home with Madhur Jaffrey and Joy the Baker

If you blink an eye, you’ll miss it. That precious time when your cauliflower is finally ready to harvest. The head hides itself beneath huge, blue-green leaves. You think nothing is happening with that plant that’s taking up so much valuable gardening real estate and then, BAM! There’s a huge head of cauliflower under there.

I read that it’s best to harvest cauliflower when the head is about 8 to 10 inches in diameter. Once it reaches that size, you should harvest it quick lest it bolt or get eaten by those stinkin’ cabbage worms. So, I guess tonight I’ll be eating cauliflower again.

I had some good friends over for Sunday Supper this week, the lovely friends that trade me French pastries for eggs. So yes, I had a delicious local strawberry and pistacio tart for breakfast the following day. But that’s beside the point. Also, it should be noted that I made dessert – an amazing, rich strawberry cardamom upside-down cake – for a French pastry chef. Yeah, that’s right. And I made whip cream for said chef who had to whip cream by hand in pastry chef school so as to not over whip the delicate peaks. I think I deserve a major gold star for that.

They got to share in my bountiful crop of cauliflower too. And wouldn’t you know it, I made Indian food again. I just can’t stop! This time, I found a super interesting cauliflower salad to try. My instinct with cauliflower is to roast it, put it in a quiche or cake, or add it to a soup or stew like aloo gobi. This salad, however, serves up the cauliflower basically raw and cold. But don’t turn your nose up yet! Because it mascerates in salt and then some lemon juice before it’s served, it softens just a bit, causing it to lose its crisp, raw-tasting edge. It’s like cauliflower ceviche. Another bonus is not having to turn on the oven to cook it as I’m often inclined to do during these warm, summer months. It’s a summer salad like you’ve never had before. So I guess it deserves a gold star too.

Cauliflower Summer Salad (a.k.a. Cauliflower Cachumbar)
adapted from At Home with Madhur Jaffrey

The headnote for this recipe says that it will last several days in the refrigerator if kept covered. I think it’s even better served the next day. 

1 large cauliflower,chopped (so no piece is larger than 1/3″ x 1/4″)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3-4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
1/2 teaspoon whole brown or yellow mustard seeds

Put the cauliflower in a large bowl. Add the salt and rub it in, mixing well. Let macerate for 1-3 hours.

If any liquid has accumulated, drain it. Add the cayenne, cilantro, sugar, lemon juice, and vinegar. Mix.

Put the oil in a small pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the mustard seeds. As soon as the seeds begin to pop, a matter of seconds, pour the contents of the pan over the cauliflower. Stir to mix. Serve immediately or better yet, the next day. Enjoy!

Sunday Supper: Baked Beans and Barbecue

The date: Sunday, June 12, 2011

The menu: Grilled chicken with homemade barbecue sauce, homemade baked beans, cabbage slaw with cilantro dressing, and English muffin bread.

The inspiration: My grandma

Apparently, my grandma loves barbecue sauce. I just learned this. So, did my dad, actually. He’s the one who told me. She puts it on everything, he said. Don’t get me wrong though, my grandma doesn’t eat much. She’s petite as can be and turns out, she likes barbecue sauce. It was her birthday this week, so when I found out she was going to be in town and would be able to come over for dinner, I knew exactly what to do.

If you’ve ever made barbecue sauce before you know it consists primarily of ketchup. So the morning began with my ketchup project. I freaking love homemade ketchup. Granted, I’m not a huge fan of the artificially smooth and processed ketchup that everybody’s used to so eating homemade ketchup works for me. It’s not for everyone, but I love it. I find it flavorful and bright tasting. Have I mentioned how much I love the cookbook that provides me with all my DIY recipes like ketchup, Jam it, Pickle it, Cure it? I do. I love that book.

For a vegetable, I harvested another head of savoy cabbage and cut it into slivers. I cut up some radishes that I harvested too into super thin slices. I tossed the cabbage and radishes in some of that creamy cilantro dressing and left it on the counter for a half hour or so. I tossed it again before I served it and it was amazing! Best “coleslaw” I’ve had in a long time! The brightness of the cilantro dressing was a great contrast with the strong flavor of cabbage.

One thing led to another and before I knew it, I was looking up recipes for baked beans. I was really surprised at how difficult it was to find a recipe for baked beans from scratch that didn’t include throwing in a couple cans of Pork and Beans. That was not the kind of make-it-from-scratch I was looking for. So, finally, with a little help from a recipe I found at Food.com, I made my own baked beans. They were a huge hit and went really well with my homemade barbecue sauce. And my grandma approved, which is all that really matters anyway.

Baked Beans
Adapted from food.com

2 cups dried pinto beans
1 large yellow onion, diced
about 8 slices of thick-cut peppered bacon
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 Tablespoon ketchup or tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1/4 freshly ground pepper

Soak the beans overnight in salt water. The next day, cook the beans until tender.

Cook the bacon, then pat dry and cut into small pieces. Set aside. Saute the onion in the pans (I had to use two skillets to cook all the bacon) with the bacon grease until it just begins to soften, about 5 minutes or so.

In a crock pot, put the beans, onion, the remaining ingredients, and 1 cup of hot water and mix well. The original recipe says to cook on the low setting for 10 to 12 hours, but I didn’t have that long. So, I cooked it on high for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally, and then set it on low to keep warm about an hour or so before we were going to eat. Super delicious and so worth it! Enjoy!

Recipe Reorganization

There was a time when I had an ever growing stack of magazines by the side of my bed. I’d dog-ear pages that had recipes I wanted to try and when it came time to cook, I’d never remember them.

It wasn’t until I was cleaning one day, when I decided I had to do something with that stack of magazines. When I found myself sitting cross-legged on the floor, the broom leaning against the wall, and the magazines sitting open in my lap thinking to myself, oh yeah, I wanted to make that!
It was clear – I needed a system. So, I started a binder and over the years it’s become one of the most trusty kitchen tools I’ve got!

I used tab dividers to create broad categories in an attempt to sort all my recipes.

Later those broad categories were sorted by ingredient sub-categories. The more I grew rhubarb, the more rhubarb recipes I wanted.

The more I ate winter squash, the more experiments I wanted to do with it.

The more I grew zucchini, the more zucchini recipes I collected. And there’s no better thing in the summer when you have a counter-full of summer squash to be able to open your binder to a ton of delicious zucchini recipes.

When I see a recipe I love or want to try, I tear it out of the magazine, put it in a plastic sleeve, and file it in my binder. Then when it comes time for Sunday dinner, time to try a new recipe out, I look to my binder for inspiration.

The plastic sleeves make great little pockets for holding the food tutorials and recipe cards you get in your CSA or from the farmers’ market vendors.

They’re also great for storing old, but cherished hand-written and typed family recipe cards. Yes, I actually typed that recipe on a typewriter for my mom when I was young.

Or for protecting beloved recipes like this one, which was handwritten by my mom. No food splattering can muck up this one.

Of course, I’ve had to purge the binder a few times throughout the years to let go of old recipes that I just, for some reason, seem to avoid. But inevitably that space is quickly filled up with new ones. It’s a super simple organizational solution to manage the constant culinary inspiration that comes my way.