Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Innovations from a Kitchenett

I have been cooking in a new kitchen the last month. Of course, every new kitchen brings along quirks and challenges that a good cook should work around or incorporate into her or his cooking style. I, for example, am refraining from purchasing too many gadgets for my kitchen, which would clutter a very small space.
A long time fan of avocado toast, I have altered my eating habits to accomodate the reality of my new space. Now I eat either rye bread, untoasted or I substitute bread all together for tortillas. I don't have a toaster anymore and I'm reluctant to purchase one because there just isn't much space.
Another lesson one might learn from a small space is how to make your space work for multiple purposes. My stove, for example is not just a source of heat to cook food. I also use the oven as pan storage and, until recently, I used it to dry dishes. It worked out so well as a dish-drying object that I quite regret buying my dish rack, which takes up a lot of space.
Instead of investing in a coffee pot that typically rests on the counter, I bought a coffee press. By doing this I keep my precious foot of counter space free to chop vegetables and hold my drink; water or wine, I drink it out of a short glass tumbler: one cup, two purposes.
By adjusting to my space and making it my own I have come across a couple of food ideas you might want to try out, whether you're in a space crunch or not:
Wilted Kale with Shitaki Dressing
27 wide shreds of sweet potato
1/4 of a bunch of kale chopped
1/8 of a medium sized cabbage, shredded
1 garlic clove slivered
1 tablespoon of corn oil
Salt, to taste
Aunt Annie's Shitaki Salad Dressing, to taste
Spunky music, also to taste
Heat oil. Sizzle garlic. drop vegetables. Blaze temperature. Swirl. Salt. Smell. Lower heat. Cover. Sing along to your song. Lift cover. Turn again. Plate. Drizzle. Mmmmmmm.
Spicy Sausage with Penne (I know it sounds phallic, oh well)
1/2 box of penne
2 links of sausage (I used lean turkey sausage and that totally worked, but you can get whatever)
1 glove of garlic
1 handful of cherry tomatoes
1/2 an onion
marinara sauce
tablespoon of olive oil
to taste, italian spice mix or dry basil
salt, to taste
Put water, salted, to heat. Slice those links! Mince that garlic! Pop those cherries! Breath, pause, now--sliver that onion. Heat the oil; drop the garlic, brown on medium high temperature with onions. When pan gives first hint of smoking add tomatoes with sausage. Toss with conviction. Let pan rest and cover. Water should be at a boil. Add the pasta. Pour a glass of wine or eat a piece of chocolate, sit, relax, take an intermission from the kitchen. After your rest, rise, check the sausage. Is it cooked? If so, pour marinara to your liking. Drain pasta, when al dente. Combine penne with sausage. Let them make an aquaintance under simmering flame while you dress table. Serve. Enjoy.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Tomato: the Fall Struggle

My passion for tomatoes is something I freely divulge. Now that the last summer tomatoes are gone I have been left with a deep loss. A less imaginative soul might curl into a ball and cry. I, however, am going to make it through the winter a tomato winner. How? Roasting, broiling and toiling, that's how.

An alternative to fresh sweet slices in the morning is steamed tomatoes dressed with olive oil. Eat with crusty bread, hummus and black coffee. If you're short on time, use the microwave, it handles this task very well.

Additionally, spruce up your pasta dish by improving on your jarred pasta sauce. I like to slice a garlic clove, some onion and whatever other veggie I have in the pantry. I used beats last week to great success. Saute all in pan with olive oil, italian spices and salt, when everything is browning add cherry tomatoes that have been split open. Let their liquid reduce. Add sauce and stir letting it warm. This makes even Ragu taste pretty amazing. Also, you have to let your pot of water boil for the pasta, so it's not adding time to meal prep and the return is well worth it.

You know those sad pale tomatoes they try to sell you as edible produce in your super market? When you don't have a choice and you have to take them home, here's how to pop some flavor back in. Slash them, put them in the broiler. Take them out and dress with oil and vinegar. Yum!

Also, check out Mark Bittman's recipe for tomato jam. Even though he posted it at the end of summer, it works now because the theme here is that whenever you cook a tomato you intensify the flavor, and that's really the problem we're trying to solve. Fall tomatoes aren't kissed by the sun the way summer tomatoes are.

Okay, well I leave you to check on my carrot soup. Please don't let the season go by without roasting or otherwise engaging the delicious root vegetables that are the real crown jewels of this season.