Tag Archives: Cheap Eats

On Movement

Last weekend was one of movement. No, not by me. Quite the contrary.

A dear friend of mine left the city. While another moved into the neighborhood (or, close enough at any rate, being two blocks south and only a few more west). Me? I stayed put owing to some serious jet lag exacerbated by substantial flight delays. There’s a laundry list of things that I should have done. A week later, and it’s no smaller. I was going to write it out—then, thought the better of it, as it would be overwhelming to me and boring to you, and that seemed unfair to us both. That’s the kind of woman I am.

I am, apparently, also one who makes things more difficult for myself—if you know me personally, this is no surprise.
What I’m getting at is that I had a nice ending to this very post planned. I was going to tell you that there’s was pot of stew currently bubbling away on my stove and how although it wasn’t quite the season, I was justified since Spring continues to play hide-and-seek. It’s grey out this morning, and I still feel slightly justified in all of this, and I think would be enough to help me make the transition to getting back to work and getting things done. Only, it’s not true. And, it’s lazy writing.

It all comes back to the shoulds, as in, I should have told you about this soup ages ago—when I first made it, and it was weather appropriate and making a connection to my daily life would not have been forced. Never mind that, oddly, soup is one of my ultimate comfort foods and I think nothing of eating it in the height of summer, with the AC on full blast.

The truth? I made this soup because I had the ingredients on hand for something else that I should have made. Getting to things in a timely matter doesn’t seem to be my strong suit currently. I’ll get there. Until then, here’s a recipe for kale and chorizo soup, which is perfect for a day like this one, when there are so many shoulds that you should be doing that the process of doing any seems insurmountable. I’m thinking about making another batch now.

Kale and Chorizo Soup
Recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse

2 TBS olive oil
1 pound chorizo, cut into 1/2 slices
1 cup chopped onions
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 large white potatoes, peeled and diced
3 quarts of chicken stock
4 cups kale, rinsed, stemmed, and cut into 1-inch strips
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Pinch of crushed red pepper

In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the chorizo and onions. Saute the mixture for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and potatoes and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the stock and kale and bring the liquid up to a boil. Stir in the bay leaves, thyme and crushed red pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are fork tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and skim off any fat.


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Maybe it’s me.

…but, it seems to be getting a little—okay, positivelygluttonous here these days. This being the season and all.

Before I get to the main course and, my favorite: the stuffing, I think that something green is in order. I should at least give the pretense of a well balanced meal (and, a well balanced series of posts, for that matter), right?

And, on that note: roasted Brussels sprouts.

I have no long introduction here, just a simple statement: these are good. And, fairly effortless: chop, toss and roast on a low heat.

That’s it.

It’s a side dish that is light on effort and heavy on flavor, the kind of dish you can more or less forget about while you’re setting the table. Or, in my case, searching for a complete set of silverware.

As you plan the rest of your meals for your holiday, keep this side dish in mind.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten

1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
3 TBS olive oil
5-6 garlic whole cloves, peeled
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit

Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Cut in quarters and mix them in a bowl with the garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour them on a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to allow the Brussels sprouts to brown evenly. When they are ready, they should be crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly. Sprinkle with more kosher salt to taste and serve immediately.

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For the cold days

Remember that bread making class I took? I’m sure that you’re expecting more recipes for all thing yeasty.

I have plans.

Yet, right now, I’m going to tell you about beans. I know, I know, it doesn’t quite make sense. Trust me, it’ll be worth it.

The short version of this is that, at the end of my class, I bought one of the instructor’s books, wooed by the promise of step by step pictured accompanying the instructions on making sourdough. Then, as I was flipping through, I saw this recipe for red beans. Having just spent three days making bread, this went straight to the top of my must make this now list.

I love all things braised, particularly in red wine, but, since, all things considered, I’m still fairly new to eating so much read meat, I’m always looking for ways to get the flavors without all of the heaviness.

This hits all the right notes. It’s rich, without the weight of so much fat, but with enough heft to be a main course. And, if you substitute dried herbs, then it’s made with pantry staples.

Today promises to be a cold one, I’d suggest getting started on making this immediately.

Red Wine Braised Kidney Beans
Recipe from The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen

1.5 cups dried dark kidney beans, rinsed and soaked
3 TBS olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 small carrot, finely diced
1 small celery, finely diced
sea salt
4 TBS tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup full bodied red wine, like rioja or chianti
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried sage
freshly milled black pepper

Preheat your oven to 275 F

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine beans with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Skim the foam and simmer on a low heat for about 1 hour.

In the meantime, in Dutch oven, warm the oil over a medium heat. Add the onions, celery, carrots, and a pinch of salt. Saute for 5 minutes, then add the tomato paste, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Add in the dried herbs and stir.

Pour the wine into the Dutch oven and bring it to a boil. Add the vinegar and bay leaf. Then add the beans and their skimmed liquid. If necessary add more water so that the beans are covered.

Bring the beans to a boil. Cover the Dutch oven and cook for 1-2 hours, until the beans are creamy on the inside but still hold their shape. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4

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Making Concessions. And soup.

This is my one concession to Thanksgiving.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as excited about the food as everyone else—in fact, the traditional Thanksgiving dinner just might be one of my favorite meals of the year. And, I’m sure that it will come as no surprise that I’d be happy to make whole meals for the rest of the week out of stuffing.

But, the thing is….


How to say this?

Ok, out with it then.

My family’s Thanksgiving meal is traditionally in a restaurant. Or, at least it has been for the past several years.

There are lots of reasons for this, but mainly, it’s simply that it works for us. We’re all coming from different places and have different dietary restrictions. And, this way we can all sit and relax. Which is really, I think, the point of the holiday.

The problem, of course, is that I really don’t have a stable of recipes. I do, however, have an address book filled with suggestions for Prix Fixe dinners.

And, that said, my immediate family typically does have a smaller version of the meal at some point over the weekend—after all there’s something to be said about having the left overs for days on end. So, in some ways, I get the best of both worlds. And, I’m not constrained by the traditions when I cook.

With that in mind, and following the longest introduction ever, I present you the pumpkin soup that I’ve been eating as of late. This version isn’t for you purists—frankly, I’m a little bored with the classic combinations and find things like pumpkin and maple syrup or brown sugar or apples or you name it a little too sweet for a soup. This one’s got kick. Lots of onions, lots of chili. I’m enjoying it so much, I’m planning the left overs already.

Until the next time, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

1 2-pound sugar pumpkin
3 TBS olive oil, divided
6-8 cups vegetable stock (recipe follows)
1 onion, diced
1 shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
2 tsps ancho chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the pumpkin in half and scrape the center, setting the seeds aside. Brush the pumpkin with 1 TBS oil and sprinkle with 1 tsp paprika and salt. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour until the pumpkin is soft and can easily be scraped from the skin.

Once the pumpkin seeds are dry, sprinkle 1 TBS of oil on them and season with salt. Roast for approximately 30 minutes, until they are golden brown.

While the pumpkin is roasting, make the vegetable stock (recipe follows).

When the pumpkin is roasted, allow it to cool and scoop out the roasted flesh. Set it aside.

In a large dutch oven, heat 1 TBS of olive oil. Saute the onion, garlic and shallot for approximately 10 minutes on a low heat, until they start to brown. Add the pumpkin, ancho chili powder, cumin, cinnamon and a dash of salt. Cover with the vegetable broth and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste, adding salt if necessary.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. If the soup is too thick, add more water.

Garnish with pumpkin seeds.

Serves 6 as an appetizer

Vegetable Stock
1 TBS olive oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp peppercorns
1 bay leaf
3 ribs celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
8 cups cold water
1 TBS lemon juice

In a large stock pot, saute the vegetables, onion, and garlic for approximately 5 minutes on a low heat until everything starts to brown. Add in the red pepper flakes and saute for another minute. Then, add in the water, peppercorns, bay leaf and add salt to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for an hour. Strain out the vegetables, add in the lemon juice and season with salt.

Set aside.

Makes 8 cups

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And so, we press on

I know, I know, after posting recently about transplants and stolen wallets, it feels a little anticlimactic to be telling you about bean salad.

I suspect it would be anyway.

This is the last of the Second Annual Indian Summer Picnic recaps. And, I’m not really sure that a humble bean salad stands a chance against pounds and pounds of pork or a cake so good my guests are still talking about it a month later.

And, yet, this bean salad is precisely what I’m choosing to share with you now.

It’s not by necessity—I have a whole series of recipes that I’m waiting to share.

Rather, it’s because my four bean salad is exactly the kind of thing that I need these days. It’s humble, yes, but it’s also infinitely adaptable. This is particularly important if, like me, you were raised by a woman who told you that if you didn’t have any leftovers, you didn’t have enough food. This is a maxim I still hold true, which is why, this is one of those recipes that’s meant to serve more as a guide so that, if three hours before your guests arrive you start to get nervous that you won’t have enough food, you can simply add more beans.

Or tomatoes.

Or, well, you get the idea.

And, on that note, I’m hoping to have more information to share about the stolen wallet saga soon, mostly because, in all honestly, I’m anxious to have this put behind me. I’ve already spent countless hours on the phone dealing with the aftermath, all the while trying to remind myself that, while this is something that happened to me, it’s not something that happened to me.

If you know what I mean by that, we should definitely be friends. In which case, there’s a very good chance I would be making you this very salad.

Four-Bean Salad

1 cup green beans, cut in 1″ pieces
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bunch scallions
2 cups chick peas
1 cup black beans
1 cup kidney beans

For the Dressing:
1 shallot, diced finely
2 TBS cider vinegar
1 TBS red wine vinegar
1 TBS Dijon Mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

If you’re using dried beans, cook them according to the method outlined here. For canned beans, simply drain and rinse them and set aside until you are ready to use.

Blanche the string beans and set them aside.

In a large bowl, combine the shallots, mustard, vinegars, salt, and pepper and whisk to combine. Slowly pour the olive oil in to the mixture, whisking constantly to combine.

Mix the beans, string beans, and tomatoes with the vinegarette and toss to combine. Garnish with scallions and add salt and pepper to taste.

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Taking a Time Out

Something I learned recently: ham hocks are shockingly hard to find.

If you’ve been following along, then you know that it’s been a little no rest for the weary in the Refrigerate After Opening kitchen these days, and, that it has been for most of the summer.

So, I did what I always do when things get a little too stressful—I took a time out in the kitchen. This time, a slow braise, forcing me to spend several hours at home, relaxing and refreshing.

The vegetable at hand: collard greens.

Of course, I must confess here: I’m a true Yank at heart. This means, among other things, my collard greens are no quite authentic, to say the least. In fact, ham hock, which I had thought was a grocery staple, eluded me. As did any type of smoked meat. Evidently, I’m not looking in the right places.

I ended up having to improvise, as I had done with my another Southern Classic that I butchered reinvented—[Yankee] Gumbo. So, I used bacon instead, although if you have ham hock, that would be best. Ultimately, the likker was still smoky, and I still got a much needed refresh.

I’d venture to guess that, even if you’re a little more discerning than I am, these collards greens won’t disappoint. I’m tempted to try taking on fried chicken, biscuits and sweet tea, too, although that seems better suited to true Southerners.

Braised Collard Greens

1 bunch collard greens, washed well
4 oz bacon
1 TBS red pepper flakes
1 TBS Tabasco
1 TBS white vinegar
8 cups water

In a large pot, saute bacon and red pepper flakes, rendering the bacon fat, about 10 minutes. Add water, and bring it to a boil along with the Tabasco and white vinegar.

In the meantime, clean off your collard greens thoroughly, removing the stems that run down the center. And tearing the leaves into 1/2 to 1″ thick slices.

Add the collard greens to the boiling water and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the greens are tender. Taste and add salt and Tabasco sauce as necessary.

Serves 4-6

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I Have No Story For You

As the lack of posts throughout August suggests, it’s been a busy month so far.

Sadly, it doesn’t look like things will abate any time soon.

So, I have no story for you today, just a simple weeknight dinner.

But it’s a easy and flavorful one. Did I mention that it’s quick? As in, cooks in twenty minutes? And uses pantry staples?

Hopefully that’s enough to get your attention.

I’ve been making a variation on this dish since it first took the blogosphere by storm, making tweaks along the way, kicking up the spice and simplifying it. I’ve switched out the protein—using chicken breast in place of shrimp—partially because I’m more likely have the former on hand but more because the cooking time for the chicken and broccoli is the same which means that you only need to stir the ingredients halfway, rather than add new things to the pan. After my recent work days, I’m not sure that I have the mental capacity to do more than that (although, rest assured, my weekends are still reserved for baking. And, have I got a tart for you…)

That said, the recipe is easy enough to adapt once you have the method down. Hopefully it’ll become a go-to weeknight recipe for you, too.

Roasted Chicken with Broccoli

2 pounds broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces (stems and florets)
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
1 TBS ground coriander
1 TBS ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 pound large chicken breast, cubed
3 carrots, diced
1/2 large red onion, diced
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 TBS lemon juice

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, toss broccoli, red onion, carrots, and chicken breast with oil, coriander, cumin, teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and paprika.

Spread vegetables and chicken in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through. Once chicken is fully cooked and broccoli is tender and golden around the edges, sprinkle with lemon zest and juice.

Serve with brown rice.

Serves Four

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