killing time between meals

where talking about what's for dinner while you're at lunch is totally acceptable


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1 CSA Delivery, 2 New Recipes

I got my first CSA delivery. Yay! The contents included bok choy, scallions, strawberries, kale, kohlrabi, romaine lettuce, and a couple bites of baby broccoli. Check it:

Maybe it’s just the novelty, but I’m in love with the CSA. It was so exciting to open the box and see what was inside, and then I had to figure out how to use some of this stuff. Bok choy + kohlrabi = Asian to me, so I went with this recipe that my sweet friend Laura turned up (she’s part of my CSA group and also got kohlrabi, which no one knew what to do with). This recipe used three of the treasures in the box, so I decided to try it. And I felt so adventurous because:

1. I’ve never cooked Asian food at home. (My mom used to make chop suey out of a can. I kid you not. I’m not even trying to pretend that counts. Gag. It’s a wonder I wasn’t scarred for life.)
2. I’ve never cooked with bok choy. (Though I have eaten it many times.)
3. I’ve never seen or heard of kohlrabi. (Called me sheltered if you must.)

Though the deck seemed stacked against me, I went for the above recipe, and it was a-ma-zing. Below is my final take.

Veggie Green Curry with Brown Rice
2 liberal servings

1-2 cups brown rice
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 red onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small- to medium-sized kohlrabi, trimmed, peeled, and cut into batons
1 baby bok choy, leaves and stems cut into bite-size pieces
1 can light coconut milk, plus ¼ can water
2-3 tablespoons green curry paste, to taste
Kosher salt
Red pepper flakes, to taste
1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • Prepare rice according to instructions.
  • Heat sesame oil in a medium sauté pan.
  • Sauté onion with a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes, until softened and starting to turn golden.
  • Stir in garlic, cooking for 1 minute.
  • Add kohlrabi and sauté 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add bok choy and cook another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add coconut milk, then fill can ¼ way with water and add to the pan. Stir in curry paste. Season with salt. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Serve curried vegetables over rice, and garnished with scallions.

Next time, I think I’ll:

  • Cook the rice properly. Or invite over a friend who knows how. I never make rice, so I wasn’t sure what to buy, and mine was not good. Ick.
  • Add mushrooms and/or tofu and/or other veggies and/or seafood. You could put dirt in this sauce and it would taste good.

Side note: Did I mention that this dish was incredible? I couldn’t believe how easy and delicious it was. Plus, my kitchen smelled yummy-sweet like coconut milk. Mmm … I can’t wait make this again and try to improve it.

I did say two recipes, so here you go.

These heavenly little berries were also stashed in my box from Avalon Acres, so this Strawberry Tart recipe from Cooking Light sounded like a good idea.

Lovely Strawberry Tart
Serves 8-10

Crust:
36 honey graham crackers (9 sheets)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
4 teaspoons water
Cooking spray

Topping:
6 cups small fresh strawberries, hulled and divided
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted

Filling:
2/3 cup (about 5 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • To prepare crust, place crackers in a food processor; process until crumbly. Add 2 tablespoons sugar, butter, and 4 teaspoons water; pulse just until moist. Place cracker mixture in a 9-inch round tart pan lightly coated with cooking spray, pressing into bottom and up sides of pan to 3/4 inch. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  • To prepare topping, place 2 cups strawberries in food processor, and process until smooth. Combine strawberry purée, 2/3 cup sugar, and cornstarch in a small saucepan over medium heat; stir with a whisk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; cook 1 minute. Remove glaze from heat. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
  • To prepare filling, combine cream cheese, ¼ cup sugar, and extracts in a medium bowl; stir until smooth. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over bottom of cooled tart shell.
  • Combine the remaining 4 cups strawberries and lemon juice; toss to coat. Arrange berries over filling. Spoon half of glaze evenly over berries (reserve remaining glaze for another use). Sprinkle toasted nuts around edge. Cover and chill 3 hours.

Side notes & next time: Let me just say, this thing was a process. Not a difficult process, but there were many steps and dishes to deal with. And then, I went and screwed up several things. Like:

  • The original recipe says to use a 9-inch dish. Well, mine was more like 12 inches.
  • Also, I had to make the crust twice. (Of course twice, MKR.) I accidentally added 4 tablespoons of water instead of 4 teaspoons the first time, and it turned into a paste rather than a crumble. It was a delicious paste, but a paste nonetheless.
  • The recipe says to use half the strawberry glaze and to use the rest “for another use.” I’m thinking, Why on earth would it tell me to do this? What other uses? (Although, in its glazey state it smelled and tasted like raw fruit roll-up matter. Incredible. I could make my own fruit roll-ups. But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves.) So, I used it all, reasoning that my pan was too big so maybe I needed the extra. The tart tasted delish, but it was kinda runny.

What a great first-time CSA experience! I tried new ingredients, new recipes, and a new style of cooking. I even made new mistakes. Sometimes those are happy accidents and sometimes they are flat-out wrong, but there’s always room for a great learning opportunity.


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Girls’ Night In

On Tuesdays, there are some good TV reasons to stay in—The Biggest Loser, Parenthood, Dancing with the Stars results (you know, if you’re into that sort of thing), and now there’s The Voice! So far, I love it. And so do my girlfriends, so we are making Tuesdays our get together night. In honor of our first meeting, I pulled together a few snacks. The spread included some cheeses, black bean hummus, fruits, and veggies. See:

Side note: If you’ve never had the Fromager d’Affinois cheese, do no neglect to purchase it the next time you’re visiting a cheese counter. All the cheeses were yummy, but in hindsight, I could’ve just bought three wedges of this and called it a day. It’s like buttah. No, seriously, it tastes like Brie and butter had a delicious baby. Here’s a photo to help you pick it out:

Anyway, I’m glad the girls came over because I finally got around to making this black bean hummus. You know how Whole Foods has those yummy prepared foods that are 8 ounces for $5? I’ve been buying that, but I figured I could make it myself cheaper. And so I did, just a few months later than I planned to. Here’s the cast:

Black Bean Hummus
Serves 6-8 as an appy

1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 can chickpeas, rinsed & drained
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2-3 tablespoons tahini (or more, if you like)
1-2 lemons, juiced
1-2 teaspoons hot sauce (to taste)
½ cup fresh parsley
2 teaspoons cumin
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons + ¼ cup (or so) extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt

  • Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse to get going. Stream in olive oil until desired consistency is reached.
  • Salt to taste and enjoy with pita chips, carrot sticks, broccoli, and the like.


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Sushi of the South

Living in a landlocked state doesn’t always make for fresh seafood. But I love, love, love snacking on crustaceans, mollusks, and other aquatic fare. So between coastal visits, a girl’s gotta get by, and the Red Lobster isn’t gonna cut it. Luckily for me, there are a few choices around the Nashville area. And when it comes to sushi, I’d say Samurai Sushi is one of my best options.

Of course I start with a house ginger salad, because it’s what you do. But this ginger dressing is so good. It’s thicker and creamier than most, and I find it downright drinkable.

But the real reason I show up is for the Volcano Roll, introduced to me by MKR.

This roll combines avocado, tuna, asparagus, and just the right amount of cream cheese. Sitting on top is their Dynamite Roll filling, which is a basically a mountain of spicy crabmeat. Let’s take a closer look.

Mmm … crab … I will be going back for this soon! I can’t seem to stay away due to all the cravings.

Side note: Who do you think was the first person who looked at a crab and thought to himself, I’m gonna figure out a way eat that thing? A brave soul, I tell you. But I sure am glad he did.

And speaking of crabs, watch these 150 million Christmas Island crabs migrate and have babies. Totally makes me feel better about the 13-year cicada swarm that’s gonna happen to us this month. Nature is so weird and fascinating.


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A favorite restaurant with a favorite person

Last night I got to dine at one of my favorite Nashville restaurants, City House, with one of my favorite people—Mary Katherine, who has been my friend since 2nd grade. We even moved to Nashville together 9 years ago! She is the best.

After much hem hawing over where to have dinner, City House sounded delish, but I never thought we could get in on such short notice. But MK found one last table for two at 5:15. Senior citizen came in after us. No kidding. But we didn’t care because we got to eat an amazing meal at a fair price.
Side note: I overheard the little 75-year-old man say to his lady, “Too bad you’re on the wagon, because this cocktail is amazing!” They were so cute. MK and I agreed that we want to be like them when we are 75.
Here’s the dinner menu we got to choose from:

MK and I shared everything, as we often do, so that we both get more variety. A good plan, no? I recommend it.

We started with the octopus. It was crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and salty-good. Some people are weirded out by octopus & squid, but I love it. Some say it’s too chewy for their taste, but if it’s cooked correctly, it should be tender, not rubbery. If you’ve never tried it, start with ordering calamari. It’s not as intimidating (or scary-looking, for some people) since it’s usually sliced into rings and fried. And who doesn’t like fried stuff?

For the main course, we shared the turnip green pizza and the bread gnocchi. Both were awesome, but the pizza blew us away. Turnip greens on a pizza? Yes. Cooked in a wood-burning over and paired with spicy chilies, garlic, pecorino, and the perfect crust, the pizza made our taste buds freak out. In a good way.

To polish things off, we ordered the “Caramel Custard Pie, Marscapone Crema with S + P Pecans” for dessert.

Oh. My. Gosh.

Stop whatever you are doing and go eat this. It was heaven. I’m talking, plate-lickable, people. The caramel custard was creamy and sweet and velvety and a-mazing. I am still dreaming of this dessert. Thanks, Chef Tandy.

Just another delightful visit to City House with wonderful company. Already looking forward to next time!