Salad for Dinner

side dish
A lot can happen in a week.

Hurricane Sandy blew in late Sunday and into Monday, taking down trees and power lines in the area. I am okay. My apartment is okay. But most important: THE GIANTS WON THE WORLD SERIES. What other unfortunate event could allow me to stay with my boyfriends parents where I have unlimited access to the 24-hour world series celebration on MLB Network! It’s almost as fun as being in SF celebrating with 10,000 other fans and my dad at the San Francisco Civic Center. I do not miss the crowds that are at the parade today. Two years ago was a madhouse and I doubt this year is much different. Bart won’t know what hit it.

In other news I started my Kalydeco last Monday. After a full week, I am hopeful it is working. I am coughing up a LOT more stuff, which is saying something since I coughed up a lot before I started. More plugs are coming up and I generally feel like I am getting more air in when I take a breath. It’s only been a week, though, and I did just finish a course of IVs, so who knows how much of it I can attribute to the Kalydeco. I will know in a couple weeks whether my PFTs and sweat chloride is at all changed, which will be the real determining factors of Kalydeco’s efficacy.

Last week I was trying to brainstorm uniquely San Francisco foods that I could make here in NYC to bring a bit of the west here. I couldn’t think of anything that wasn’t made by a specific company (Ghirardelli sundaes or Bi-rite ice cream), or that wasn’t obscenely expensive to obtain in NY (Dungeness crab). Yes I know there are garlic fries and wine and many other SF treats I could have made, but I finally settled on Chicken Tacos (not uniquely Californian, but much more west coast than east coast). Unfortunately for you, I do not have my camera with me here in the ‘burbs, so you’ll have to wait until I make them again to get the recipe.

I will, however share with you a recipe that I made last week for a quick weeknight dinner: braised leeks. I was walking through the greenmarket (why are they not called farmer’s markets in New York?) and saw piles upon piles of leeks. I made mine on the stovetop, since I refuse to turn my oven on unless I absolutely have to. Instead of cooking the leeks in a baking dish, I covered my cast-iron skillet with foil and left it on the stove over low heat to braise. Also, because I was cooking in a cast-iron skillet, I browned my leeks in the butter before pouring in the chicken broth.


Braised Leeks
type: Side Dish
author: Julia Child, The Way to Cook
prep time: 10 mins
cook time: 30 mins
total time: 40 mins
serves: 4
  • 6 large or 12 small leeks (1-2 per person)
  • water or chicken broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 T butter
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter an oven proof baking dish big enough to hold the leeks.
  3. Prepare the leeks by cutting off the root end, leaving the end in tact. Cut off the stiff green tops of the leeks, leaving them 6-7 inches long. Cut off any remaining stiff green leaves at their base. Slit the leeks in half lengthwise, stopping at the white part. Turn an quarter turn and slit again. If the leeks are large, cut in half lengthwise.
  4. Arrange the leeks cut side down in the buttered baking dish. Pour in water to come halfway up the leeks, salt lightly, and place a dot of butter on top. Cover with buttered wax paper and foil and either simmer for 15-20 minutes on the stovetop (what I did), or bake 30-40 minutes in the oven.
  5. Serve Hot
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It’s Tuesday! You’re back from an exhausting work trip, and too lazy tired to stop at the grocery store on the way home. You open the fridge. The landscape is barren: slimy cilantro, moldy sour cream, suspiciously dated milk, a package of tofu. There’s hope in the freezer. Frozen salmon filets and beluga lentils in the pantry make a quick meal, but what is a home-cooked meal without vegetables, especially after several days of restaurant and hotel cuisine?

Lying in the produce drawer you find some carrots and half-used fennel bulb from last week’s shopping. You remember the delicious carrots you had at Thanksgiving last year, and then: the languishing cache of smoked paprika in the spice cabinet, and those hazelnuts from last summer that may or may not be bordering on rancid. Hallelujah! A vegetable side dish fit for a Thanksgiving table is re-created on another dark winter evening while lentils cook.


Smoky Spanish Carrots and Fennel with Toasted Hazelnuts
type: side dish
author: robin,
prep time: 10 mins
cook time: 30 mins
total time: 40 mins
Smoky Spanish paprika adds depth to caramelized fennel and carrots. Adapted, loosely from Susie Middleton’s Fast, Fresh and Green.
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 lb carrots, cut into coins
  • 1 small fennel bulb, chopped into small pieces (or half a big bulb)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp. sherry or rice wine
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked Spanish paprika
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped, toasted hazelnuts
  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat and add carrots and fennel. Season with salt. Cook on low until tender and caramelized, ~30 min. They should be brown and roasty, and it’s easier to do this if you don’t stir them too much at first, then stir more later.
  2. When all is cooked, add sherry and stir until evaporated.
  3. Sprinkle with paprika. Garnish with the toasted hazelnuts.
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