Hey guys! I’m over at Yumm.com today blogging about how to save money on your weekly grocery bill. My personal favorite: take a look at what’s in your cupboard and build your shopping list from there. You’ll be surprised what canned goods are lurking in the depths of your kitchen and you’ll relish the challenge of working with them! Or you’ll find mold. Either or.
Monthly Archives: August 2012
Very few people nowadays dedicate their lives to studying and mastering a craft. The incredible documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi follows a man who did just that. Jiro owns a sushi restaurant in Japan that is world renowned for the quality of the product, the dedication of the apprentices who study under him, and the esteem he’s garnered from being a disciplined master of his craft.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi is streaming on Netflix and I cannot recommend it enough. Word to the wise: have some sushi on hand while you watch. You’re gonna need it.
In an effort to keep my spending low, pending my upcoming lack of paychecks and whatnot, I took a quick survey of my cupboard and tried to plan the week’s meals while also using up odds and ends that I already have in the house. This meal is the result of that, and if I do say so myself, it turned out quite nicely. Added bonus: I kept half my sandwich for today’s lunch. #TwoBirdsOneStone
On the menu:
Balsamic chicken sandwich with goat cheese and sundried tomatoes
1 large chicken breast, cut in half length wise, cut in half width wise
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp rosemary (fresh or dried)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
2 Portuguese rolls
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped
2 Tbsp goat cheese
1 cup spring mixed greens
In a large bowl, mix together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and rosemary. Rub chicken breasts with garlic cloves and then add chicken and garlic to the olive oil/vinegar mixture. Toss chicken to coat. Let sit at least one hour or overnight.
Cook chicken any way you like: if you have a grill, these are perfect grilled. If you’re a city dweller and are grill-less, you can cook these in a frying pan over medium heat with a little olive oil until the outside is barely crispy (the balsamic will glaze the chicken and keep it super moist).
Halve the rolls and toast them. Spread one half with goat cheese and the other half with sundried tomatoes. Layer greens and then chicken. Serve hot.
This meal requires such little preparation, I will probably make it every week from now until I start to smell like sausage. Remember, I’m trying to find a job so I don’t want to smell like a sausage factory when I walk into interviews…
… do I?
In any case, this takes an hour to roast but about 5 minutes to prepare. All you need is a roasting pan or an ovenproof skillet and you’re good to go.
On the menu:
Sausage with garlic and cherry tomatoes
Serves 2 – 3
1 lb sweet Italian sausage
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, washed
1 head of garlic, cloves separated and unpeeled
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 cup small pasta (such as orzo) or white beans or wilted greens to serve the dish over, cooked according to box directions
Preheat oven to 425. Prick each sauce a few times on each side with a sharp knife or toothpick.
Add sausage, cherry tomatoes, garlic cloves, and spices to a roasting pan or ovensafe skillet. Pour over olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Using your hands*, toss until the herbs are distributed and everything is coated in olive and vinegar. Make sure everything is in one solid layer in your pan or skillet. Bake for 30 minutes. Flip sausage and roast for another 30 minutes. Serve over small pasta or beans or wilted greens. Splash a tiny bit more balsamic if desired.
*Do not use a spoon and deprive yourself of the slippery, crazy-cool feeling of tossing all this together with your hands. You’re giggling thinking about tossing slippery sausage with oil (hardy har har) but sexual undertones aside, it just feels so dang cool! Seriously. Okay, you’re still laughing. Fine fine, the cheese stands alone.
When bad things happen in life, everyone has their own coping mechanism. I don’t think it’s any huge surprise that my feel-better activity is baking. I got laid off from my job yesterday and needless to say, it feels pretty awful. If I was leaving my job because Food + Wine called up and said, “We need a new cake tester who can also write a column about it in a snarky way” then I would be over the moon*! Alas, no one but the unemployment office was calling me up. So I brushed up my resume and then I whisked up this cake.
On the menu:
Lemon olive oil cake
Adapted from Epicurious.com
NOTE: You’ll need a 9 inch spring form pan for this cake.
3/4 cup olive oil plus 2 Tbsp for greasing the pan
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup flour
5 large eggs, separated
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
Preheat oven to 350. Grease spring form pan with 1 1/2 Tbsp of olive oil. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper with 1/2 Tbsp olive oil.
In a small bowl: whisk together flour and lemon zest.
In a large bowl: beat together egg yolks with half cup of sugar until thick and pale, around 3 minutes. While mixer is still beating, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream. Beat in lemon juice until incorporated. Using a wooden spoon, fold in the flour/zest mixture until incorporated.
In a medium bowl: with clean beaters, beat together egg whites with salt until the mixture is foamy. A little at a time, add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and beat until soft peaks form.
Fold the egg whites into the large bowl egg yolk mixture until completely incorporated. Pour the batter into a greased spring form pan. Tap the pan on the counter a couple times to get rid of the bubbles within the batter. Sprinkle the cake with remaining 2 Tbsp sugar (this will form a nice crunchy crust on top).
Bake for 45 minutes or until a sharp knife comes out clean. Once baked completely, remove the spring form outer ring and let the cake cool for at least an hour before removing from the base of the pan and the parchment. Serve in wedges plain, or with a fruit compote.
NOTE: this cake is ALMOST eggy, but dense and tangy and absolutely delicious. As I’m never quite sure what’s dessert and what’s breakfast, I could see this being served at brunch with fresh fruit or freshly whipped cream alongside a bacon potato skillet dish. Are you drooling yet?
*Are you Food + Wine? Do you want to hire me? Then do it already! I’m totally free this month.
When I was a single girl, living in a single world, I did my grocery shopping whenever I needed to. If I felt like cooking I’d pick up necessities on my way home from work because if I did weekly shopping then things went to waste (you know, because of those nights when you’re like, hmm this chocolate cake and red wine looks like dinner to me). But now that I am living with a S.O. (that’s significant other for you laypeople) we do our grocery shopping once a week. Not only does that mean that I have to plan nightly meals for a whole week, but it means that when single-Lauren would’ve eaten red wine and cake because she lacked the energy to grocery shop, S.O.’ed-Lauren tries to make due with what’s in the cupboard.
This is a sauce that you can put on pasta, pour over roasted vegetables, or even use as a pizza sauce beneath toppings like prosciutto or zucchini, and it’s a sauce that can be made with things you probably already have in your cupboard. As long as you’re a nice Italian girl, that is.
On the menu:
Garlic parmesan cream sauce
3 medium sized cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
1 cup milk (I used 1%)
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried basil (or 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped)
In a small sauce pan over low heat, melt the butter. Add garlic and saute for 2 – 3 minutes or until aromatic. Add the flour and stir into a paste. Add milk and cream and cook for around 5 – 6 minutes, until the mixture starts to thicken. Add the parmesan cheese and the basil and cook until desired thickness, around 5 – 6 more minutes. Toss with pasta and serve.
I feel I have to start off with an apology for this sad picture. These waffles do not look very appetizing, but lately I’ve had this food-blogger-problem where I eat everything before I photograph it. And honestly, who wants to read a post about food if they can’t see what it looks like first? I know this, friends, because I am of the same ilk. So while I missed out on sharing a zucchini, sun dried tomato, lemon ravioli, and a skillet lasagna, I couldn’t miss out on sharing this one, too.
I used cherries in this recipe because I found them at a little bodega for $1.25 a pound (A DOLLAR TWENTY FIVE A POUND! Thank you, Queens!) and had a surplus. But you could use any ripe, sweet berry.
On the menu:
Cherry vanilla waffles
Makes 2 full sized Belgian waffles
NOTE: You will need a waffle iron for this! I have no idea how you’d do it without one. Sorry Charlie.
1 1/3 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
8 Tbsp egg whites*
1/2 cup butter (1 stick) melted
1 3/4 cups milk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup cherries, pitted and quartered
Preheat your waffle iron.
Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together. Add melted butter, vanilla, and milk and blend until combined. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixture just until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into the batter just until incorporated. Add cherries and stir until evenly distributed in the batter.
Pour 2 full cups of batter onto the griddle, adding a bit of extra just so the batter reaches the far corners of the iron. Cook each waffle according to your iron’s specifications. Top with butter and maple syrup, or lemon curd, or powdered sugar, or just eat them straight off the griddle. Not that I would do that. Just saying.
*Note: the original recipe that I based this on (from Food.com) calls for 2 eggs, separated. I think using all egg whites gives the waffles a lighter texture and I usually have a carton of egg whites in my fridge. If you do want to use 2 eggs, just separate the egg and yolk, add the yolk into the dry ingredients during Step 1, and follow the rest of the directions as written regarding the egg whites. Still easy and still delicious!
A few months ago a friend of mine asked if I’d like to go with her and two of our other friends on a wine and bike tour out on Long Island. I asked one question: do I have to know how to bike? Now, don’t get me wrong: I know how to “bike”. But as my brother likes to (lovingly) recall, I walked my bike down our 10-degree-inclined driveway until I was 16 years old because the hill was too “steep” to ride down and I was scared to fall off. Not that falling off would’ve been so bad. I did plenty of that, too. Somewhere in our family archives are Mother’s Day pictures of Little Lauren Four Eyes with a massively scraped up chin and forehead from an earlier neighborhood debacle between her and the pavement. And somewhere else in those family archives are family vacation pictures that are missing Little Lauren Pre-Teen Gangly Legs because she took a tumble down a Jamaican roadway and had to ride for most of the tour in a van with a kindly tour guide who offered her a sample of some of the local greenery IF you know what I mean.
Needless to say I’m not super adept on 2 wheels. But my friend reminded me that if they were going to be serving alcohol on this trip, it would most likely be easy enough that even the drunkest amateur would make it through unscathed.
So off we went last Saturday, pop music blaring out of our little green ZipCar rental, on our way out to the North Fork of Long Island to enjoy a hot, sunny afternoon with North Fork Bike Tours. We showed up a bit early and stopped in for a cold beer and some nachos at a townie bar where they were having a baby shower in the back room. If you’re rolling your eyes then you don’t know class.
We arrived at the scheduled meeting spot on time and ready for a ride. We hopped on bikes and followed our friendly guides, Jason and John, down the road to the first winery. I am happy to report that I never, not once, fell off the bike. I almost hit someone. But she didn’t even notice so it doesn’t count.
The first stop on our bike tour was Pellegrini Vineyards. I’d never visited a winery before (save for special events at Casa Larga Vineyards in upstate New York) and it was fascinating to tour the rows of vines, visit the giant casks that press and process grapes, and go down into a cool cellar where row upon row of barrels waits to produce the tasty wines we were lucky enough to sample. I’ve admitted here that I don’t know a whole heck of a lot about wine, but I do know Pellegrini served up a lovely chilled 2010 East End Select BBQ red that changed my mind about chilled red wines (aka loved.it.).
The next stop on our tour was Pugliese Vineyards. We tasted the wines here but didn’t tour the premises. At this point in the tour I think we were all too hungry to care about vines and grapes and casks and whatnot and North Fork Bike Tours served up a delicious selection of sandwiches from Love Lane Kitchen in Mattituck. I was wholly impressed by the spread: Cuban sandwiches, mozzarella with chicken, tomato, and pesto, steak sandwiches, chicken salad on fresh bread… and then tiny cupcakes to finish it off. As we lounged in the grass in the shade of a massive tree in front of a koi pond out in the “country”, I took a breath and relaxed into my alcohol-infused-calmness. A break from the city. Bliss. I picked up a bottle of a Pugliese Pinot Grigio to take back home with me, back to real life.
Our bike ride back to the original meeting place was only around 2 miles and it was incredibly peaceful just lazily drifting along the main road in Mattituck as the sun settled below the treeline. The sore butt bones I incurred the following day were well worth it.
Unless you live under a rock you’ve probably been watching the Olympics, or have at least heard about them on the news. There are only a handful of events I can sit through and enjoy (equestrian? yawwwwwwn) but I get seriously rowdy during track and field. How thrilling is it to watch the fastest men alive tear across a track and then not even breathe hard afterward? It inspires me to get my butt up off the couch…. and over to the kitchen for another slice of cake.
Guys, I’m not really an athlete, ok?
In watching Usain Bolt dominate every other competitor in the arena, I had a craving for Jamaican food. And only in New York can you think to yourself suddenly, “Man, I’d like some Jamaican food” and then walk 15 minutes to get some.
Well… you can probably do that in Jamaica, too. But… you get my drift.
Jerk Pan 48th St. and Park Avenue, New York, NY. Jerk Pan is a food truck located in midtown Manhattan, just outside the JP Morgan-Chase building. It’s kind of amazing to see a run down old truck with five Jamaican men inside, slinging hot street food while 20 corporate yuppies stand in a line waiting for lunch to be served. But isn’t that New York? I think it is.
On the menu:
Brown Stew Chicken with rice and beans and coleslaw
Verdict: Hellooooo lunchtime! Did it take me 20 minutes in 90 degree heat to walk here? Yes. Was it entirely worth it? Yes. I only ate 1/4 of the food on a bench near where the truck is parked because it was pretty messy and I only had one measly napkin. But when I got back to my office? I really wanted to have it again for lunch the next day so I restrained myself as best I could but wow, wow, wow this was delicious. The coleslaw (which is basically just cabbage with corn, green beans, and carrots mixed in) is served hot. Have you ever had hot coleslaw? Well, try it. It is absolutely perfect. Tangy and crunchy, and not too shabby paired with the fall-off-the-bone chicken (covered in sweet and tangy brown sauce) and the chewy and mild rice and beans. The best part? The whole thing only cost me $8. That’s the price of a sad salad from Cosi for all you mathematicians out there. I also sampled the jerk chicken (I was afraid to order it myself in case it was super spicy) which was also tender and flavorful with a kick of spice and worth getting the next time. What I REALLY wanted to order was the jerk goat but the friend I lunched with quickly replied, “Goat… from a truck… in New York?” Good point.
This is my favorite clip of Usain Bolt and it has nothing to do with running: