Friday, April 27, 2007

avocado mint salad

looking north

everyone's favorite mimosa, with a tropical twist

looking east

And so we woke up on Saturday morning to find ourselves knee-deep in morning errands, but the weather was so thrilling and bright that we postponed everything and went for a long stroll with our friends’ dog, whom we were babysitting. But then morning errands were still calling, and off we were, running in different directions.

mason jar lemonade

Afternoon held promises of brunch with friends and the sun pouring so generously upon our heads, we said al fresco brunching it is! But then KS had an even better idea – why schlep all over lower Manhattan in search for an outdoor idyll, when we can serve mimosas and barbecue on our own deck? Why indeed?

heavenly burger

And so in a blink of an eye, ingredients were bough; deck furniture uncovered; and the barbecue fired up. KS, showed off his expert manly barbecuing skillz (that’s with a z for y’all, ‘cause we ain’t playin’ here) while I tended to all things vegetarian – an avocado mint salad with citrus dressing and strawberries in sugar/balsamic syrup over blood orange and coconut sorbets.

yum

It is with mint in mind, that I went to the store and picked up a ripe avocado, some Boston lettuce (to pay homage to my hometown) and a red onion.

With some phenomenal barbecued chicken, grilled sausage and beef as well as vegetable/turkey burgers (that is four types of meat, people!), we sipped our mimosas and tropical screwdrivers, and accessorized our plates with the avocado mint salad. It was after 3 o’clock and as far as brunches go, it was a rather late one. By the end, we were sufficiently pickled in our brunch liquor as we rolled into a Saturday evening, hiccuping and giddy, wishing all brunches were like this.

salad days

And I think it will be wrong if I don’t plant some mint for us this year – I’ll just wind up buying it every other day, making mojitos, lemonades, limeades, salads, iced mint tea, yogurt dip! Let’s hope I have a green thumb!

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Monday, April 23, 2007

quinoa with pine nuts and porcini

teeny grains

I’ve been so remiss about posting, you would think me a slacker. And while I haven’t been adequately applying myself to blogging, it’s not for lack of desire or effort.

I’ve been detained so to speak. And not by socializing or work or lack of initiative. I think my age is beginning to show and with it, a slew of health issues – in this case a torn lower back muscle (How? Why?) – and boy does it hurt!! Last week, I couldn’t even carry my trusty, beloved Le Creuset across the kitchen!! And I’ve all but taped the heating pad to my lower backside. That and some strained peas make me a perfect candidate for assisted living!

roasted pine nuts and porcini mushrooms

A week away from the ripe age of 29 (gah!), I realize I don’t have much to show in the ways of worldly accomplishments. And I’ve been humbled, really humbled last week, upon learning that a former school mate of mine, a grade below me and two years my junior who works for the Wall Street Journal – won the Pulitzer prize for excellence in Journalism. Or rather his group did – a group of four journalists. But still – to be 26 or 27 and have that excellence bestowed upon you – well, that’s an accomplishment.

awaiting its fate

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not feeling inadequate. I think that I’m doing okay and I’m blissfully content with my life being blessed with a job I love, a fantastic, beautiful relationship, a supportive family, and wonderful friends. But I am humbled, and if anything, last week’s events yet again reminded me to strive higher, reach further and never be complacent. While I doubt the Pulitzer is in my future, I think that the credo of continuous self-improvement is a worthy one.

verdant green

And self-improvement can be found in so many places – for me, normally, it’s finding inspiration around me. And with spring finally, finally, upon us, my mind is brimming with ideas thoughts. Just last week, while perusing my favorite food blogs and contemplating dinner – and all things vegetarian, as I was suffering from a meatover, Heidi of 101Cookbooks provided some of that inspiration.

addictive after the first bite

I’ve long wanted to try and cook quinoa. I’ve heard so many things about it and have been meaning to give it a go, for so long, I’m surprised that with my love for grains I haven’t yet given it a whirl. But when I saw her quinoa bowl recipe, I knew that I found my dinner dish. I made a few changes, modified a few things, but I have to credit her with inspiration – her photography, writing, recipes, and her commitment to cooking with whole, unprocessed ingredients, often stressing organic/local produce, are a constant source of inspiration. Her is not just a love of cooking, but a thoughtful lifestyle approach as well.

Self-improvement, inspiration, reaching higher. Spring is in the air!

Continue reading quinoa with pine nuts and porcini.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

roast chicken thighs with apples

these ain't no wordworth's daffodils

With the spring upon us, oh wait, not that was just my imagination because it’s still THIRTY something degrees out and I can’t seem to get it together. My mind screams “Spring! Clean! New! Plant!” but when I go outside, I feel the need to wrap my scarf tighter, zip my coat my all the way, and dig for the gloves in my pockets. Spring this is not. And no matter how many times they tell me the rhyme about April shower and May flowers, the only resulting sentiment is that of utter aggravation – just the other day there were snow flurries. Snow, people. In April. Eh?

We had dinner at friends’ apartment last night where I was reminded (I had to be reminded, figures) that my birthday was less than a month away. Gah, I thought, at this rate, we’ll still be digging ourselves out of snow – no wonder my birthday wasn’t even a fleeting though in my mind.

And so while I am tempted to cook everything that is green and verdant and new, the temperatures being what they are, force me to make warm comfort dishes. I just can’t help myself, when I stare at the contents of the refrigerator; I think potatoes, roast chicken, warm and cozy. And so I follow my stomach’s cravings, which are not at this point in time, a crisp salad or a lovely spring vegetable dish. It’s simple and solid and so pedestrian almost, that you wonder, why write about it? Why write about something as everyday as roast chicken? Haven’t we seen enough roast chicken recipes out there to last us a lifetime and with spring right around the corner (or we should so hope), shouldn’t we, in anticipation, be reading about things like, say, um, radishes? ;-)

the world's most perfect roast chicken

Yes and no. On the one hand, few things scream as little edge as a roast chicken (or chicken parts) as the case may be. But if I told you just how amazingly good this dish is, I promise you, this is the only way you might want to make your chicken for awhile. At least that’s what my friends say who’ve asked and received the recipe. It’s good, it’s simple, it’s comforting, but something makes it feel more gourmet and elevated than just an every day meal. I’m not exactly sure which ingredient does the elevating, but one of them certainly works its magic.

the world's most perfect roast chicken

Until spring finally emerges in truth and stops hiding behind frigid days, I’m sticking to my guns and cooking all that comforts me and KS. Chicken, stews, roasts (last night was a leg of lamb with baby potatoes and asparagus – the asparagus was maybe to entice the spring to come out of hiding, with the lamb firmly reminding us of hearty, wintry dishes). And I’m happy to turn it all around so long as we get some sun and warmth.

Bring on the May flowers, I say.

Click below to see the recipe!

Continue reading roast chicken thighs with apples.