Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dinner tonight: Thai Coconut-Curried Salmon with Greens

After Christmas Eve and Christmas feasts, Pat and I wanted to eat something light and healthy. I also needed to use a massive amount of leftover arugula that, even after 3 nothing-but-arugula salads, I hadn't managed to put a dent in. So...dinner was Thai coconut-curried salmon with greens.

I made 3/4 of the recipe so that we had one M-sized and one P-sized portion--I think fish leftovers can be kind of gross. I also made a lot of changes. Used a bit more curry powder than called for, a bit less sugar, fresh garlic, and arugula in place of the watercress. I also added snowpeas to the mix, at the same point as the salmon (next time around, I would add with the greens...they were a bit overcooked and gray-green). The greens and salmon took a bit longer than the recipe says to cook. I served everything over cellophane noodles.

I'd give this recipe about a 7.5/10. Definitely one of the best Thai-style dishes from CL, but it still could have used a bit more spice. I will say, we felt much better about our indulgences after having such a healthy detox meal. Sadly, the indulgences continued soon after, and we now have many more sinful meals to make up for!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Holiday feasting (abridged)

Well, we ate a lot over Christmas and Christmas Eve, and there's a LOT more eating in the week ahead: Le Bernadin, Rice to Riches, La Bergerie, at a minimum. This will be a very, very brief account of the few things I actually prepared over the holidays, plus a shout-out for some Daly family Christmas cookie classics.

Gifts for work people this year were little baggies of maple-chile popcorn. While I thought this would be a great way to make a large volume of snacks for a big group, I think I either put too much of the maple sauce on or coated the popcorn a bit too much, because it shrank significantly and I ended up having to give our really miserly portions. Because the recipe called for popcorn popped without fat and salt, I don't have an air-popper, and it's impossible to find the microwave kind with nothing in it, I ended up popping my own corn in a big soup kettle. It was kind of fun! The recipe I followed closely, but used half red pepper, half chile powder because I ran out of the former. Tossed with some soynuts as well to add a little crunch. Went over pretty well, and Mary said it tasted a lot like a bar snack they serve at Rasika, so...score!

For Christmas Eve at Steph's house, I was responsible for the pancetta chips with goat cheese and figs appetizer. Because I'm me, and because they were on sale, I used persimmon wedges in place of figs, and I made a quick balsamic reduction instead of buying fig jam (which I was pretty sure I would have a hard time finding anyway). Interesting fact: Israeli sharon fruit is the same thing as persimmon--it's just a special variety that is apparently ripened chemically so that it tastes good even when the fruit is still hard. These were hugely successful and went really quickly. The only thing I would recommend is that you get pancetta slices that are a little thicker than the recipe calls for...they end up being really delicate and easy to break if they're too thin, which means either a) you will end up destroying many of them in the assembly process, or b) they will probably make a big mess when people try to eat them. The nice thing is, because they are large and a bit unwieldy, your guests will probably only have one or two each.

For Christmas I brought the brussels sprouts we debuted at Thanksgiving (which Pat's mom specially requested) and an appetizer of mascarpone stuffed dates, dressed with a little good-quality olive oil and a sprinkling of kosher salt. These were inspired by our Komi dinner a while back, and are easy to make. Just assemble as described above and heat at 350 degrees for 5-7 min. Not too long, or the cheese will melt, which I kind of screwed up this time around.

Finally, my mom sent me a gazillion cookies in the mail so that I would feel guilty about not coming home for Christmas this year. Chinese almond cakes, date-nut pinwheels, and pistachio biscotti. I believe the first two are McCall's cookie recipes and I'm sure the last is a trade secret of my mother's (she IS the biscotti queen...).

Of course, we ate a lot of really fantastic food prepared by our gracious hosts as well, but I'll let them tell you about that themselves!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dinner tonight: Salmon Burritos with Chile-Roasted Vegetables

As usual, the "tonight" part of this post title is a lie. This time my excuse is a combo of take-home final, canceled flight, and illness. A maelstrom of reasons not to blog! Plus, I'm a little bit lazy now that it's freezing freaking cold out. Okay, let's be honest...that last reason is probably the majority of why this post is a week and a half late. :)

I love making salmon because I know how healthy it is, and it feels a bit more substantial than tilapia, for instance. But I was getting a little bit bored with the whole fillet-of-salmon-with-some-sort-of-coating-plus-veggies-and-a-starch thing, so this time I made salmon burritos with chile-roasted vegetables.

My mods were as follows:
-Flat-outs instead of tortillas, because they're uber low in calories, easy to bend without breaking, and large
-Cubanelle pepper instead of poblano (but only because the Teeter was out)
-Greek yogurt instead of sour cream because I didn't feel like buying a whole tub of the latter just for this dish, and then not open the container again until like 3 months later, only to find some sort of multicolored fuzz and $4 down the tubes
-Half the salmon, potato, and tortillas, but the full amount of veggies to make one Margaux-sized portion and one Pat-sized one.

For once, everything cooked in the time it was supposed to!

This was pretty decent. Definitely a nice change from the usual salmon dinner, and the roasted vegetables were pretty tasty and tender. I would have liked a little more chile flavor, though, and probably little kick--Tobasco or ground red pepper, perhaps. Also, the salmon seemed a little out of place in the burrito, but it certainly was not off-putting. Pat gave it a thumbs up. And both of us were fully satisfied by the portion. Pat said, "You should make this one again." We all know what my response was to that. :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Exploding pasta!

Okay. So I'm a little exhausted/harried from a busy wedding weekend (congrats to Eric and Brevard!!) and a canceled flight...I do have a new recipe review to post, but that's totally not happening tonight. Instead, I will share with you a bit of wisdom that Sarah shared with me today. This guy's laugh is HI-larious, but his lesson is a good one. Never fry gnocchi. Besides...pasta is bad enough for you without deep frying it...!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dinner tonight: Hot and Sour Pork with Cabbage

You know how I keep saying CL does not do Thai well? Or Indian? One cuisine it does do really well is Chinese. By "well," I don't mean "authentic," per say, but I do mean "delicious and healthier/tastier/WAY freer of guilt than take-out."

Tonight I decided to try hot and sour pork with cabbage. It seemed pretty easy and quick, and anything that has cooked cabbage means lots of volume with low calorie count--perfect for days when I am inexplicably ravenous but trying not to binge because I have a weekend of wedding-induced eating ahead of me. Like today.

The pork took about three or four times longer than the recipe calls for to cook through, and I cut back slightly on the sugar--1 T seemed a bit excessive, especially since ketchup has so much already. The result was pretty yummy and certainly satisfying, although I have to say that the spiciness really seemed to overpower the flavors of the dish. I love me some sriracha, but I'm also a total spice wuss. So if you are too...recommend cutting back on the racha. The pork was super-tender, which I attribute to the sauciness, because I pretty much always turn pork into rubber. Also...this recipe makes a total mess of the kitchen, what with all the prep bowls and shredded cabbage flying willy-nilly out of the pan.

I would also like to point out, for the record, that my dinner looks more delicious than the one on the CL site. Just saying. :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sweetgreen comes to Arlington!

Thank you healthy food gods!! Thanks to sweetgreen, I'm no longer living in the no man's land of quick healthy eating (read: Ballston-VA square corridor). I'd never actually been to any of the other locations, so I was eager to try out this one. I had the curry gold salad, which was delicious. The dressing was light and uniquely-flavored, with a hint of spice, and I loved that the chicken was diced small enough that you could theoretically have a piece with every bite. Also...a pretty sweet deal calorie-wise at 364.

The bread that came with the salad was equally tasty...just enough to sop up my extra dressing, and a good combo of crusty and soft.

I also got a b-nut squash/cauliflower/kale soup for lunch the next day. Holy cow that was good. And I'm a total squash snob.

If they don't have a frequent flier card for this place, I hope they make one soon. Because I have a sneaking suspicion Arlington sweetgreen may become my second kitchen...(x-posted to