Thursday, January 30, 2014

so much catching up

Geez, I am getting so bad at keeping up with this. Let's start at least by covering a few meals I've made lately, or lately-ish:

Squash-pecan soup with grilled cheese.

Squash-pecan soup; grilled cheese

This is a pretty frequent lunch for us: grilled cheese and some kind of smooth soup. Obviously tomato soup is the best option, in season, but in these stupid cold months, nothing doing. I went with something nuttier here: I simmered together peeled/seeded butternut squash, kabocha, garlic, onion, and pecan butter, with just enough water, a little sriracha, and enough red miso to add sufficient salt, and once the squashes were soft, blended it all up. I also added some chopped enoki mushrooms because we've been in a mushroom mood lately - which also explains the dab of black truffle butter I served it with.

Barramundi with succotash and radish-parsnip salad.

Barramundi; succotash; radish-parsnip salad

The color's no good on this photo, I know. I had picked up a bunch of fish at Trader Joes - their frozen fish is pretty reliable in quality, so I stock up sometimes so that I've always got some decent fish on hand - and though I'd never had succotash with fish, apparently it's a traditional pairing. Those two elements here are very basic: the fish fillets were cooked for five minutes on each side in butter with Tony Chachere's, and then rested while the succotash finished; the succotash is frozen sweet corn (Trader Joe's again, in fact) with green chiles, salt, butter, and cooked "fresh" (frozen) chickpeas, which took quite a lot longer than I expected to cook (nearly 20 minutes).

The radish and parsnip salad is worth talking about. The parsnips are sort of parboiled - I peeled and chopped them and then simmered them in salted water, but only for about ten minutes. That's not enough to make them soft - it just softened them so they were closer in texture to raw radishes. Normally I would toss the parcooked parsnip, still warm, with everything else - in this case everything was made ahead of time, so I heated the radish-parsnip salad in the microwave just enough that it wouldn't be fridge-cold.

The other elements of that salad are raw chopped radishes and a dressing made from the cleaned radish greens, culantro, roasted green chiles, olive oil, salt, and just a little lemon juice, pureed. Toss the radishes and parsnips with the dressing and let sit for a bit. It's not quite a salad, not quite a salsa.

Fried chicken sandwich.

Fried chicken sandwich; smothered cabbage and okra

Another standard! The chicken is skin-on boneless chicken thigh, with cherry tomato and onion on the sandwich (and Duke's mayo for me). The cornbread in the background is made with a lot of corn and onion.

The smothered cabbage and okra is one of my favorite things: chopped red cabbage, tossed with salt, squeezed, sat for an hour, and rinsed (this draws a lot of water out of the cabbage so it cooks more readily), before being cooked on low heat for a couple hours with onion, Tony Chachere's, cherry tomatoes, and sausage (smoked chaurice from Louisiana). The sliced okra was added in the last ten minutes of cooking or so, so that it still has some crispness.

Refried black-eyed peas.

Refried black-eyed peas

Man, I used to make refried beans all the time, and I'm not sure when I stopped.

Black-eyed peas are really well suited to this. It's as easy as you think: cook the beans until they're well-cooked, mash with a little of the liquid they cooked in, and add to hot lard. Season with onion or garlic you cooked in the lard, green chiles, cumin, anything like that. For me, if nothing else, you at least want sufficient salt, a noticeable amount of cumin, and a noticeable hit of spice heat (in this case from green chiles). Serve, in this case, with cheese, cilantro, and Fritos.

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