Archive for the ‘Main dish’ Category


Red Lentil Dal with Coconut Milk and Kale

January 24, 2016

This red lentil dal is another easy recipe I clipped out of Food and Wine (February 2015) during my recent magazine purge. Dal is the Indian word for dried split peas or lentils, and is also used to refer to the thick stew made from them.  We had it as an accompaniment at most meals when I visited India in 2010 (including breakfast!); I fondly remember scooping up mouthfuls with delicious homemade chapati. This recipe adds kale as a hearty green to bulk up the stew, so this would be suitable as a light main dish (accompanied by a salad and some crusty bread) as well as a side dish.

I never really jumped on the kale bandwagon of a few years ago (which still seems to be going strong, although I hear it mentioned more often now in the form of green smoothies), but I don’t dislike it and am happy to try recipes that make good use of it. This dal recipe doesn’t specify the type of kale to use; even though I have more familiarity with the Tuscan variety, I bought the more common curly-leaf variety this time. The recipe only used about half the bunch, so now I need to figure out something to do with the leftover kale in the next couple of days! The type of chile peppers is also unspecified: the recipe just calls for “small red chiles.” I ended up buying Fresno chiles, which have a kick but didn’t overwhelm the dish with spice.

Overall we really enjoyed this lentil stew! The coconut milk adds just the right amount of background coconut flavor without being overly coconut-y. Recipe has been pasted into my binder of ones to keep and make again!


See recipe


Sweet and Sour Potted Meatballs

March 3, 2015

Two summers ago I bought myself a subscription to Saveur magazine. I enjoyed browsing through it, but most of the recipes either didn’t appeal to me upon reading through the ingredients/directions, or turned out to be duds. There also seemed to be a large percentage of articles about travel, whereas what I usually look for in a cooking magazine is good-sounding, well-tested recipes. And some pretty food photography. That’s it. I like the recipes themselves more than I like reading someone else’s story about their visit to the place of origin. :) So I let my subscription lapse. I can always browse recipes on their web site for free, and I don’t have to wade through ads or allow paper magazines to pile up “just in case.”

However, this is one recipe of theirs that we really enjoyed. Classic Italian meatballs in savory tomato sauce are amazing, but sometimes it’s nice to mix it up a bit! The sauce is still tomato-based, but the lack of Italian herbs and the addition of brown sugar and sour salt/lemon juice take these in an entirely different direction. I found rice to be an interesting inclusion in the meat mixture – not something I ever would have thought of to use inside meatballs, but the texture works well! I’m also not positive where the “potted” part of the name comes from… usually “potted” refers to a way of preserving meat/food. I’m guessing it’s that the meatballs are braised in the sauce rather than being fried/baked: “potted” like “pot roast,” maybe? A google search for “potted meatballs” indicates that this is primarily a Jewish technique for meatballs.

Either way, these were delicious, and really easy to make without using tons of dishes. Not quite quick enough to call it a weeknight meal, but I’d say not more than 45 minutes if you multitask the sauce and the meat. Enjoy!

Sweet and sour potted meatballs

See recipe


Carolina Chicken Salad

February 18, 2015

I’m still alive! My new job (well, I’ve been at it for 6 months now, so I guess I can’t really call it “new” anymore) is awesome. However… there are always a lot of different projects going at once, and I have to juggle many different problem solving possibilities in my head at a time, so it’s much more work mentally than my old job ever was. Which means my brain starts to feel pretty “used up” by the end of the day and I really don’t feel like blogging or doing much of anything else that takes mental energy. I love the work though! I’m really glad I took the leap – my unique IT/pharmacy skill set is perfect for this position.

Another thing that been keeping the blog way down on the priority list is… pregnancy! Yes, my husband and I finally decided in the fall that it would be a good time to start trying to have our first child, and we were one of those lucky couples for whom it didn’t take much time at all! I’m currently 21 weeks along, and our daughter is expected to arrive end of June/beginning of July. So far everything has been going really well – I barely got any morning sickness (just a slight touch if I got hungry, but having a snack took care of that right away), and no weird cravings or food/smell aversions. The one symptom I did experience during the first 3 months was a lot of tiredness. Not really the “I can barely keep my eyes open and I’m going to take a 3 hour nap” type, but more the “I sat down and I don’t have the motivation/energy to ever get up” type. Very similar feeling to when I had mono in the fall of 2013, just without the fever and strep throat on top of it. :) I guess having mono was actually good preparation for first trimester of pregnancy!

Because of the pregnancy, I decided it wouldn’t be prudent to give up anything food-related for Lent this year. Instead, I’m giving up Facebook and reading fanfiction. Those are currently my two biggest time-sucking activities online, so I’m trying to put what energy I do have into things that are more productive, like finally updating this blog, for example!

So this recipe is a yummy one from my childhood. I would guess that my dad probably got it out of Gourmet magazine or Bon Appetit however many years ago. It’s a great weeknight all-in-one dinner salad, since it’s got plenty of veggies and protein, and doesn’t take too long to put together. The dressing is both tangy and sweet, and the olives add a nice briny touch. My parents would usually use leftover cooked chicken, but I’ve picked up a rotisserie chicken on the way home specifically to use for this recipe… fast and easy. It’s supposed to be garnished with tomato wedges too, but I didn’t have any on hand the day I took this photo and my husband doesn’t really like big chunks of tomato anyway. Enjoy!

Carolina chicken salad

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Smoked Sausage Cassoulet

February 10, 2014

Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time on the weekends cooking a few large main courses, for the purpose of having leftovers for the entire week. This cassoulet from the Bon Appetit Cookbook has been one of my favorites so far; I’ll admit that I made it 2 weekends in a row last month! The first time I used four different kinds of sausages from the public market, which turned out to be pretty expensive all added together. The second time I just picked up a few links of kielbasa from the grocery store, which wasn’t quite as fancy or authentic, but was a lot easier on the food budget. :) Next time I think I’ll use primarily kielbasa and throw in one package of fancy andouille for variety.

This recipe definitely has a very different flavor profile than the lentil-based cassoulet I made over the summer. That version has no tomatoes, instead including carrots and celery as a vegetable component. This cassoulet also has a thinner consistency: because the beans are canned and not cooked from dry, they don’t soak up as much cooking liquid as the lentils in the other version. This initially might cause you to think you were making a thick soup rather than a hearty stew, but the next day it thickens up considerably.

Although the original recipe says it can be made up to 2 days ahead, honestly this kept really well in my fridge for a whole week without any issues. It reheats wonderfully in the microwave as an individual serving; just keep the topping in a separate container in the fridge. It’s fine to sprinkle on the topping un-reheated because the heat from the stew warms it immediately, and that way it stays crispy. Enjoy!

Smoked sausage cassoulet

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February 4, 2014

My mom visited out-of-town relatives during New Year’s again this year, so we continued our tradition of inviting my dad over for dinner on New Year’s Day. Listening to the year-end countdown of top-voted songs on our favorite radio station (of which 4 out of 5 of my votes made it into the top songs, yay!) and cooking pork in some form were also included in this continuation of tradition, which I felt really happy about. It makes me feel like we’re finally starting our own traditions as a family (even though it’s still just the two of us), rather than just participating in our parents’ traditions year after year. Not that I don’t enjoy carrying out traditions from my own childhood! But those are from a time before I met my husband, and it feels good to have started some of our own.

So here’s the pork recipe we picked out to make for this year’s New Year’s Day celebration. It’s printed in the Gourmet Today cookbook, and it intrigued me because I’ve never cooked anything with lard before. I wasn’t even sure where to buy lard, and it turns out it’s been right next to the butter at my grocery store the whole time… I guess if you’re not looking for something, it’s easy to not notice it even right in front of your face!

…So this was delicious. And not a difficult recipe to make, just needs time, for marinating and for cooking. I actually made a double recipe so we’d have some leftovers, but I think if I did that again I’d double the pork but only use 1.5x the lard and liquid. The final step of boiling off the liquid took significantly longer than the longest time given (supposed to be 30 to 50 minutes), and I think the meat dried out just a little bit with that extra cooking time. But it was still tender and had amazing flavor. The onions and the orange peel essentially dissolved; I couldn’t find any pieces even though they got dumped in the pot along with the pork! But I could definitely taste them. :) Good stuff. Enjoy!


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Beef and Veal Loaf (Polpettone)

January 27, 2014

This weekend was cold and windy, a good weekend for staying inside and getting some projects done. My husband and I are taking another photo class at the Genesee Center; the class is called “Snapshot to Series” and we’re learning how to progress from taking individual photos to developing a cohesive photo project. We’re supposed to have a project started and bring in a few photos for the next class, but so far I’m not experiencing any moments of brilliance. I could continue my retro food photo project from the summer, but that feels a little bit like cheating. Since I wasn’t coming up with anything, I decided to spend some time catching up with recipes in my blog post drafts.

So… this recipe. It scarred me for life. Quite literally. Thanks to this meatloaf, I now have two ½-inch-long burn scars on my left forearm. I made this over the summer, and the scars are still visible, so I don’t think they’re going away any time soon! Turning over a 10-inch-long loaf in a skillet without a) causing it to fall apart, or b) splashing hot oil all over myself… clearly above my current skills level. However…! The meatloaf was awesomely delicious, so I might be brave enough, next time I find a good price on ground veal, to attempt this again. You wouldn’t think lemon zest would go well with meatloaf, but with the flavors from the wine sauce, it made for a really lovely combination. Next time though, I think I may shape it into 2 smaller stubby loaves rather than one long one. I really don’t want a matching set of scars on my right arm! :)

Beef and veal loaf

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Poached Eggs in Tomato Sauce with Chickpeas and Feta

January 24, 2014

When I was growing up, my parents frequently made huevos rancheros for a quick vegetarian supper. If you’ve never heard of it, huevos rancheros is a Mexican breakfast dish: the basic idea is eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce/salsa, served over tortillas and sprinkled with cheese. Like many kids, I hated runny egg yolks and insisted that my parents cook my eggs until they were essentially hard boiled. But now my taste in eggs (and my appreciation of food textures) is a little more developed. :)

I was looking for a quick dinner idea a few weeks ago, preferably something I could make with what I had in the pantry, and I found this recipe in the December 2011 issue of Bon Appetit. It sounded very similar to huevos rancheros, but when I read further, it turned out that this version is actually a north African dish! I didn’t have any pita bread to serve with it, but we had naan bread left over in the freezer, and that worked just as well as an accompaniment.

The inclusion of chickpeas in the sauce gave the dish some body, and the tangy feta went perfectly with the spicy tomato flavor. I loved the way this dish turned out; my husband was a little bit more ambivalent about it. He’s never really cared for mixing the flavors of eggs and tomatoes though, so I wasn’t expecting it to be a favorite. I think it grew on him though because I made it again the following week and he didn’t complain! :)

Eggs poached in tomato sauce with chickpeas and feta

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