Thursday, August 28, 2008

Waste Not, Want Not

It's the end of the summer, and the grad school stipend checks don't start again until September 15th, so I'm playing that game well known to grad students the world over: creative food combinations. It worked brilliantly the other night in the Dracula Pasta, and again tonight in the Cup of Leftover Rice Stakes.

I didn't want flied lice tonight, even though I've got ingredients for a killer one, so was thinking about beans and rice. Easy and cheap, but then I started digging around in the flotsam and jetsam of the fridge, and discovered some capers, a few olives, and a few thoroughly wilted basil leaves. And a Peroni beer! Score!

So I sauteed half an onion and a lot of garlic, added a zucchini, seasoned with oregano. Then fecked in some capers, a can of chickpeas, and after that had heated through, I added the leftover rice and the basil. Delicious. The capers make it. A few olives would have been nice, but I was too hungry to think of dealing with pits en route to the rest of the dish. The Peroni is a nice accompaniment, and I think the leftovers of Rice Capers, Mediterranean Style, will be just as good cold for some meal tomorrow.

And now back to work. I am saying that I'm not busy--I just have a lot of stuff to do.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Eventually is Now, or, Making Friends with Beetroot

So J left tonight for a month away, so as is becoming customary, I spent part of my first evening batching it cooking something improbable, something I wasn't sure would be even remotely edible by me (I based it on a recipe I found, so clearly someone likes it!).

I was curious about all the buzz about beet greens, so I bought a bunch of beets today in order to get the greens, which are related to chard, which is my good buddy. So what to do with the beets themselves? Initially, I planned to make a variation on my "deconstructed pesto with greens" pasta dish, but then I started wondering--can I actually use the beets in a pasta dish too?

Mind ye, I am a very hard sell on the tastiness of beetroot. After being force-fed pickled beets as a kid, I was decidedly NOT a fan. But in Paris last summer, I was served a very palatable beet salad, and have been tentatively trying to reconsider my hatred ever since. So I can deal with beets in a juice blend now, but this was the first time I have actually enjoyed eating the things.

Here's what I did for one serving of what I'm going to call "Dracula Was There" Pasta (S, you'll appreciate that!). The original recipe is here:

1. I sauteed 1 small beet with 2 shallots, and added 3 cloves of garlic a few minutes after I'd started sauteeing.

2. I fecked in about a cup of vegetable stock and about a teaspoon of rice wine vinegar (the original recipe has lemon juice, but the sad little lemon I found in the basket had no business being in anything but the bin),

3. While all that (and my pasta) was going, I chopped about 2 handfuls of beet greens and some parsley and basil. I added that in after the stock had reduced to almost nothing, and let the greens wilt.

4. I stirred in the pasta--penne was not ideal (something non-tubular would have been much better)--and served it with parmesan cheese on top.

It was gorgeous, and didn't even really taste like the beets I knew and hated. Strangely, it was saltier than I'd expected (I didn't add any salt at all), and I'm wondering if my iron skillet is so saturated with soy sauce that I got a little residual flavor from that. Whatever it was, it worked.

Fun New Blog

Eventually I'll get around to writing some kind of update, or reporting on some cooking adventure, but for the moment, the school year is about to begin, and in the lip-bitingly overquoted words of Emeril, I'm having to kick my life up a notch (luckily, without needing the help of a mundane collection of spices that relies heavily on garlic salt, if memory serves).

Anyway--for now, I give y'all friend and fellow ethnomusicologist Elizabeth Keenan's new blog, Flotsam on the Stream of Pop Consciousness. And to make it even better, Elizabeth actually is from New Orleans, unlike His Essenceness.