A new look at cooking and home decorating...with an attempt to add more greens to the plate, more vegetarian options & hopefully lots of new ideas to explore

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Kitchen project

I must admit that this week has been much more about kitchen appliances than about cooking. We have just embarked on a project of redoing our kitchen. A few weeks ago most of the stress was from the cabinetry and all of the surrounding choices. This week we are up to choosing stone, and finding fixtures.
As far as the granite goes, I have so far chosen a granite that seems to match the hues in my dogs coat. It's funny how we tend to gravitate toward colors that we are familiar with. Most of the week was spent going back and forth about the tile on the floor. The designer suggested travertine which I was not for, due to the amount of cooking (and mess making) that I tend to do. We then went to the more stain resistant porcelain tile and began a quest to find a "stone like" porcelain. I think we may have finally settled on something that wont "compete" with the granite but then, anything can change. At the moment we have chosen a Bordeaux granite.

the next challenge is faucet fixture- who knew there were so many options?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Italian wedding soup

The first time that I had this soup was when I was a college student in New York. I think I had gotten a small cup of takeout soup from Dean and Deluca and brought it back to my dorm room. Instantly, I fell in love with the soup, not just the romantic name, but also the warm comforting broth and hearty vegetables. Here, quantities are approximate and feel free to vary the soup based on what you have on hand.

2-3 cups mini meatballs ( I make them ahead and throw them in frozen, thus the soup is almost effortless, use any meatball rec., fully cooked)

2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and fine dice
2-3 small carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2-3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
3 Quarts chicken stock
1-2 heads of escarole (about 1 1/2-2 pounds) tough stems removed and roughly chopped
3/4 cup pastina pasta (optional)
salt and ground pepper for seasoning
grated parmesan cheese for serving

Start by warming you oil over medium heat in a 5 quart Dutch oven or pot, once warm add the onions, carrots and celery and reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 7 minutes, stirring often. Add the chicken stock. Then, bring to a boil, add the frozen mini meatballs and escarole. Simmer 10 minutes. Add in the pastina and cook another 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper as needed. serve with grated cheese.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Lamb Shanks with an Asian Flair

With the amount of sports that my children do during the Summer time, it was a nice change to come home to this slow cooked meal. Lamb shanks seem like a winter dish, but with a nice salad in place of starch, this is perfect in summer as well. If making it in the winter, I like these served with a simple risotto. Please note that the hoisin, soy and sweet red chili sauce all came from the Asian section of my regular grocery store.

2-3 Tablespoons Canola or vegetable oil
3 medium to large lamb shanks, seasoned with salt and ground pepper
2-3 medium size, peeled and thinly sliced yellow onions
2" knob of fresh ginger, grated
1 head of garlic, (13 cloves) peeled and minced
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons honey
zest and juice of 2 lemons
1/2 cup water
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
5 Tablespoon Hoisin sauce
1/4 cup Thai sweet red chili sauce

To Finish sauce(optional) you will need 2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water, salt, pepper, fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon.

Start by warming you oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the seasoned lamb shanks and sear until all sides are golden (about 3 minutes per side)- Add lamb shanks to slow cooker pot.

Reduce heat to medium low. Add the onions and cook for about 3-5 minutes or until onions are tender. Add the ginger and garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add the vinegar and cook while scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan for 1-2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker.

Add to the slow cooker the honey, lemon juice and zest, water, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and red chili sauce.

Cook on high 5 hours.

The lamb shanks can be eaten as is but I like to strain the liquid, discard the solids, and place the liquid into a saucepan. Combine 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water and add it to the pan. Bring liquid to a boil and adjust seasonings with, salt, pepper and fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon