Posts tagged fast
Friday, July 10, 2009

thai beef salad

thai beef salad

Over here at Sassy Radish kitchen we’re in packing mode, finishing food we have and making do with what the pantry offers. Save the occasion dash for an herb or vegetable, cooking here for the next few weeks has to be about not wasting (and thus inventiveness for me) and less about flipping through the latest issue of Gourmet looking for my next fix has come to a screeching halt.

thai beef salad

You see, here at SR I have big news! SR kitchen is about to get bigger. As in square footage. I’m trading my cozy (read: tiny) walk-up kitchen for a spacious, open, with a huge island and shelving (see the pictures) one. To tell you I’m excited, would be a huge understatement. I am counting down the days! Oh and did I mention that it comes with a dishwasher? Every time I say the word dishwasher an angel gets his wings. Or at least it feels like it. Say it with me – deeeeshwaaaasher. Doesn’t it just sound so musical and lovely?

kitchenkitchen

As excited as I am about this new kitchen, I will miss my 40 square foot kitchen I made a pretty good use of over the last 12 months. I didn’t expect to move out so soon, but an irresistible opportunity presented itself. And now I get to be closer to friends, the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, Baked Bakery, the Clover Club and other delicacies that will challenge my waistline. While I’ll miss my cozy little kitchen, I’m ready and excited for a more spacious one.

thai beef saladthai beef salad

Since moving requires packing and perishables do not good packing goods make, I’ve initiated an operation that I’d like to call ECIMK (Eat Crap In My Kitchen). The operation was fully commenced when my friend Marc came over for dinner a few weeks ago. You know you’ve got a good friend on your hands when you write “I have a lot wine and we need to make a dent in the supply.” And your friend dutifully obliges with an “I’m there!” response. And not only does your friend arrive hungry, but also helps you through three (3!!) bottles of wine in one night. Between the two of you. How lucky can a girl get?

thai beef salad

One of my not-to-be-packed items was this lovely skirt steak, chilling in the freezer waiting for the opportune moment to make its statement. Now, this is probably the part where I should tell you that happen to really love a skirt steak, so much so that I’d rather have that for dinner than a filet mignon. I’m an odd girl, I know, but that’s just how things are around here.

thai beef salad

I also come with some odd cravings and on any given day there are a few meals I can always happily consume. A Thai beef salad probably sits at the top of that list. Hearty enough for a dinner dish, it’s the perfect antidote to a sticky muggy day because you get the cold, refreshing crunch of lettuce, the bite of the spicy/sweet chili lime dressing, and the nice heft of beef. Filling, yet not heavy, refreshing, yet you won’t go hungry in an hour. I think it’s the epitome of a perfect meal.

thai beef salad

As you can tell from pictures, I like my meat on the pink side. By all means, please cook it longer because everyone’s preferences vary quite a bit. Not only is this a favorite, but also happens to be super easy to make. The whole thing comes together in under 20 minutes. Including all the prep work. You can even make this on a weeknight when you have little time to cook. And it makes room in your soon-to-be-emptied freezer too. How about you? When you’ve had to move in the past, what were some of your more creative uses of food so it didn’t go to waste?

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Friday, June 26, 2009

pasta with stinging nettles and ramps pesto

pasta with ramps and stinging nettles pesto

It should by now not strike me as unusual that things we barely paid attention to in Russia are considered a delicacy in America. Sorrel leaves were the cheapest greens at the market. Chanterelles were considered pedestrian, no matter how delicious. Gooseberries were easily the cheapest berries you could find – and in the US they’re quite a treat. And then of course there were stinging nettles. They grew everywhere, much like weeds. Around apartment buildings, in ravines, in nearby fields. In fact, as a child, I was often covered in an itchy rash from stinging nettles. From time to time, my grandmother would go out and with a towel, pick a bunch of nettles and make them into a soup. In fact, stinging nettles was something you ate to pinch pennies, it was one of those things – delicious, yet somehow indicative of poverty. I didn’t really think about it much while I was young, but I remembered stinging nettles after we arrived to the US and couldn’t find any in the store or at farmers’ markets.

stinging nettles ramps

I suppose stinging nettles have become somewhat en vogue recently because I’ve been seeing them on menus and at green markets everywhere. Maybe it’s always been so and I haven’t been noticing, but it seems to me like suddenly, stinging nettles went from being the girl no one wanted to take to the dance to the girl pronounced them homecoming queen. Humble, unapproachable, homely stinging nettles – suddenly glamorous!

pasta with ramps and stinging nettles pesto pasta with ramps and stinging nettles pesto

I would have shared this dish with you sooner, but I thought the stinging nettles season was over and so this dish was going to go into my computer’s oubliette for a few seasons. But I heard through the bloggy-grapevine that stinging nettles were still abundant at least in Union Square market and so wanted to share this recipe with you as soon as possible.

pasta with ramps and stinging nettles pesto

I had a version of this dish at one of my favorite restaurants, Hundred Acres, on the first night of Passover of all nights. And guess what – it was in a pasta dish (I can see my parents shuddering as they read this bit) as pasta is probably the most anti-Passover food out there. But I was sad that night, because I couldn’t go home for the holiday, meanwhile my dad was sick, my grandmother – deteriorating. And here I was, feeling mopey on the eve of a family holiday, without family in the city to celebrate. Friends who know me well know that I rarely feel homesick, but on that night, I felt very lonely in a city where I feel very much at home. And to cheer myself up, I decided to take myself out to a nice dinner. I just happened to be walking past Hundred Acres – clearly I was meant to dine there that night.

ramps and stinging nettles pesto

Its simplicity and comfort of this pasta dish struck me as exactly what I needed that night. Even though it was as far away from a Passover-appropriate meal, I didn’t care. Passover is a tale of exodus, and a people’s search for home. And I, quite desperately, needed to feel a sense of home that night, at whatever cost. I wanted simple, hearty, homey – and this pasta offered it all. Not to mention as soon as I saw stinging nettles, my decision was even easier.

pasta with ramps and stinging nettles pesto

The next opportunity I had, I bought stinging nettles at Union Square market and tried to recreate this simple, yet amazing dish at home. And wanted to share it with you. Because to me, this pasta brought a little piece of home, in so many ways: the comfort and weight of fresh semolina pasta, the childhood stinging nettles, fragrant coating of olive oil, a sharp bite of grana padano. What I realized that night is that a delicacy need not be a fancy thing – it is the thing that makes you feel indulgent and wrapped in comfort, be it a common food or a fancy one.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

tofu stir-fry with spinach and okra

tofu, spinach and okra stirfry

It pains me to say this – but the cookies must take a break for a bit. My pants have told me this as well as the fact that I went through a total of twenty pounds of butter making treats for work. Twenty. Pounds. Of. Butter. And there are still butter reserves in my freezer, it’s like a mini-China in there. I promised the butter I would not abandon it forever, but a breather is much needed after the month of decadent and sweet treats.

tofu, spinach and okra stirfry

In addition to me swearing off cookies for awhile (let’s see how long that lasts), I also signed up for a half marathon in a few months to keep myself honest and motivated. While it’s both exciting and intimidating, I know it’s very achievable if I stick to a training routine with some discipline.

tofu, spinach and okra stirfry

I first made this stir-fry a few days ago as I was trying to save wilting spinach and sad-looking okra and was attempting my hand at something moderately healthy – and it was delicious. I threw in some ginger and spices for an added kick and served the vegetables over some brown rice. I know that not everyone likes okra – and it is a tough vegetable to love. A little slimy, without much flavor, okra is like an ugly step-child of the vegetable family. But it readily absorbs other flavors and envelops the dish in softness, which to me tastes comforting – perfect for a winter meal.

tofu, spinach and okra stirfry

And if tofu is not your thing, throw in some chicken instead, or other vegetables you might like. It’s a stir-fry so really – just about anything goes. Except for, maybe, cookies?

Continue reading tofu stir-fry with spinach and okra.