About Me

I have been cooking my way through life for over 50 years, beginning with mud pies as a child. I've turned a corner now and feel a Renaissance in my life. Recipes and Random Thoughts is my personal spin in a blog about how to prepare good food and how it prepares you for life. I want to share with you, honest to goodness food punctuated with perspective from the special memories and moments that have marked my journey.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

How Does A Working Girl Cook? Heat & Eat

"Ahead", is the correct answer.  After a day chained to the desk, what's the best way to avoid the uninspired, if not resentful, trip to the grocery or take-out?  Plan, cook and freeze in advance of the working week for a heat and eat dinner.  I know spending Saturday shopping and Sunday cooking may not be your idea of a great weekend but it sure pays off.  I've recently been pulled back into the working ranks as my husband's office is shorthanded for a few weeks.  It trashes my ritual of coffee, morning meditation and emails, then exercise, errands, shopping, research then cooking.   I had to really plan, organize, double up recipes and make a lot of freezer space.  Well, it has paid off as the work day is more like: coffee, quick breakfast, pull something out of the freezer to thaw for dinner, battle traffic, work, work, eat my brown bag lunch (which is pretty good), head to the gym after work (not the grocery store) pick up the dog from day care, heat up dinner and pack my lunch for tomorrow.  At the most I've steamed some broccoli or made up some salad dressing.  All this to say, effort and organization takes some of the sting out of that 9 to 5 stuff.

The problem I see is, make ahead dishes are limiting.  I can't pull off my Monday night roast chicken at 6:30 much less clean up. I'd have to move that to Friday or Sunday.  So I've pulled out the stews, pot pies, meat loaf and a few tricks with the sous vide and vacuum sealer like pork chops and chicken breasts.  The multi function set on pressure cooker helped out with turnip greens and lady cream peas, the rice function turned out rice pilaf.  I threw in a casserole or two and the bread machine will keep us in fresh bread and rolls for a couple of weeks.  There's more but you get the idea.

As I've preached from the beginning, good food takes time and a working girl does't get to spend that much time in the kitchen.  I've got all the gadgets to help but as a slow food person I'm glad to know I've still got the chops to work and feed us at the same time.  I'm rather proud I'm up to the challenge and could shift gears to accommodate the need.

This will be a short lived thing and I'll be back in my kitchen restocking my freezer and making ridiculously complicated recipes with too many steps and ingredients.  I'll be driving here and there tracking down the exact ingredients and making a total wreck of my kitchen.  I'm realizing I don't care so much what or how I cook, it's that I cook.  A friend once said, "You must be bored."  Not at all.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Cold Zucchini Soup from Union Square Cafe

It started so innocently.  We were in New York on a hot summer day and thought we'd try to get in the Union Square Cafe for lunch. We wanted something light; soup and salad with some of their wonderful bread.  After a few tastes, we looked at each other and I said, "This is perfection."  Perfectly light but flavorful cold zucchini soup and a simple salad perfectly dressed with a perfect vinaigrette rounded out by delicious bread and fresh cream butter.  One of the better meals I've had in a restaurant in recent memory. It may sound strange to order just soup and salad at one of the more notable New York restaurants, but it was just right at the right time.  I tracked down the vinaigrette made with grapeseed oil but had to tackle the zucchini soup as best I could.  I'm not a big zucchini fan but I'm obsessed with this soup.  It's so simple and doesn't take long to make. The basil is my idea.

2 tbls olive oil
3 cups grated zucchini, about 3 medium.
1 cup diced sweet onion
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 cup fresh packed basil leaves
2 cups chicken stock (homemade preferred)
1/4 cup heavy cream

Heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering.  Add the zucchini, onion and crushed red pepper flakes.  Add the salt and pepper and cook until vegetables are soft but not browned and the vegetables  have released their liquid. Take off heat and let cool for 15 minutes.  Transfer to a high speed blender or food processor and add basil and chicken stock.  Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning, add cream and blend. Chill throughly, 6 hours or over night. Garnish with fresh basil or coutons.