Skip to content

Archive for

Peanut Sauce

Rice with leftover peanut sauce and lots of cilantro.

I have at least five different blog posts started in my head. These last few spring-like days  here in Portland have been so energizing and glorious maybe that’s translated into increased brain activity. So I’d love to muse about all the birds I hear singing all of sudden every morning or the green garlic stalks that seem to have sped up their growth a bit or the late afternoon light or that wonderful springy, damp earth sort of smell. I’d also like to write about the talk I’m putting together to give at Slow Food Portland’s Annual Potluck this Sunday (there are still seats available and it is likely the best potluck in Portland and some of the most relevant content) I’d also like to write about several totally last-minute cook-with-what-you-have meals I’ve tossed together lately. So I think I’ll do the latter and focus on just one.

The other day I was in need of a quick hearty meal for our family. I had leftover black bean soup in the fridge so I cooked a pot of white rice (I was in a hurry and I love white rice but tend to cook brown rice more frequently these days) to make the soup stretch. As I was heating up the soup I realized that this was going to be just one-too-many bean meals in a row for my husband. I’ve been doing a lot of recipe testing with beans lately and as much as my dear husband likes most of them I know he doesn’t love them quite as a much as I do.

I rummaged through the fridge in search of some other quick inspiration for him and there was a little dish of leftover peanut sauce I had forgotten about. Then I remembered a blog post I had recently read by one of my favorite bloggers (David Lebovitz). Although primarily a baker he sometimes writes about savory foods and had posted a recipe for peanut sauce (that I have not tried) and talked about how he used to just dollop it on white rice for a quick meal on the go when he was still working in restaurants. So there it was: I had my hot rice, my little dish of peanut sauce and plenty of cilantro. So that’s what Brian got for lunch and he was very happy. I ate the bean soup AND a bowl of rice like his and had to agree that the latter was more fun! The hot rice loosened up the peanut sauce and brought out the flavors of lime and chili and the cilantro was cooling and lively. It hit the spot.

So, if you make the below recipe for peanut sauce you should plan to use three-quarters of it to toss with some spaghetti or rice noodles and some finely sliced raw veggies and save the remainder for the above dish!

I have come to love this particular peanut sauce that I came across on another food blog I follow–Skillet Chronicles–by Aleta Watson.

Thanks all you fellow bloggers for the constant inspiration!

Peanut Sauce

Peanut Sauce

–only slightly adapted from Skillet Chronicles

generous ½ cup smooth peanut butter

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon grated ginger

4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced to a paste

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

½-1 teaspoon chili flakes or hot chili sauce (to taste)

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon  brown sugar

2 tablespoons hot water

Blend all the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth and set aside. Toss with cold noodles and veggies or serve with rice or use as a dip for steamed veggies or roasted meat. This sauce keeps very well in the fridge for a week, tightly covered (or your fridge will smell like garlic and peanut butter and sesame oil!)

Happy Cooking and Eating!

The Beauty of Winter Veggies

 

Radicchio from Ayers Creek Farm (at the Hillsdale Market every other Sunday throughout the winter)

 

I recently wrote a gushing post about my love of winter veggies for Culinate. But one post is not enough. I haven’t been to the Hillsdale Farmers Market–one of two year-round markets in the Portland area–for 10 days or so. And I missed the other one, which is right in my neighborhood–the People’s Coop Farmers Market–last week. Both are community treasures. And I will head over to the People’s one this afternoon. My fridge, however, is still packed with baseball bat-sized leeks, dense winter squashes, beets, celery root (celeriac), and radicchio  from my last trip to Hillsdale. No matter what the weather the farmers and other  vendors are there with such a variety of produce that I am still sometimes taken aback at our luck of living in this climate. Though I try to grow kale and some greens throughout the winter with little success, it’s actually only partly the climate and just as much the skill, creativity and determination of our regional farmers that enables these beautiful crops to thrive in our wet, temperate climate.

Winter time cooking is often associated with slow-cooked soups and stews, braised meats and the like. However, it’s also possible to throw together fresh, hearty salads this time of year and they are a nice counterpoint to the richer, sweeter flavors of those stews and roasts.

 

Radicchio, Chickpea, and Chopped Egg Salad

 

Yesterday for lunch (and for my husband’s lunch he took to work), I tossed some of this beautiful radicchio with chopped hard-boiled egg, capers, chickpeas (that I had previously cooked and frozen for just such meals) and a lively dressing of garlic, Dijon, olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper. It was robust, fresh and absolutely delicious.

Happy Cooking and Eating!

Katherine

P.S. My February classes are starting to fill so if you’re interested in the Favorites one or the Rice & Beans from around the World one, sign up online or let me know you’d like a spot. I’ve also just scheduled some lunch-time classes that are going to be loads of fun and shorter and cheaper but with a full meal as usual so check those out as well.

Food as Comfort

For some reason a lot of sad and tragic things have happened/are happening to people I love right now. And I have that deep, sorrowful feeling of helplessness. When I’m sad I actually have a hard time eating, and an even harder time mustering the energy to cook. So I’m going to get cooking for people and hope that a little warm food might help just a little with the ache of it all. I apologize for the morose post but I guess what is this blog if not personal.

So here’s a recipe for a very comforting and nourishing dish:

Brown rice with lime peel, lemon zest, cinnamon stick

Citrus and Coconut Brown Rice Pudding

–adapted from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters

This takes a while to make but it’s almost all unattended time in the oven and it’s a treat especially in the winter. You can vary this in many ways to suit your tastes.  Mark Bittman suggests pulsing the grains of rice in a food processor a few times to break them up a bit which does result in a more luscious pudding but you can certainly skip the step.

½ cup long or medium-grain brown rice

1 14-ounce can coconut milk (I use full fat but you can use light too) and the equivalent amount of whole milk

½ cup brown sugar

1 two-inch long strip of lime peel (I use a carrot peeler to shave this off)

grated zest of half a lemon

1 small cinnamon stick and/or a 3-inch piece of vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped into mixture and pods added too

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Mix all the ingredients well in a 2 or 3 quart oven-proof pot or Dutch oven. Cook uncovered for about 45 minutes then stir well. Cook for another 45 minutes and stir again. The mixture should be bubbling by now and might be getting a bit golden around the edge. Cook for another 30-45 minutes. Now it will start looking more like rice than milk. Stir every 10 minutes now. It will thicken considerably as it cools so take it out just before you think it’s the right thickness. But even if it gets really thick it will taste wonderful so don’t sweat it too much.

Remove the cinnamon stick. Serve warm, at room temperature or cold. You can add raisins or other chopped, dried or fresh fruit half way through the cooking. You can also serve it topped with toasted coconut, shaved chocolate, chopped nuts or fruit compote of some kind. It’s very good with slices oranges that you macerate in orange and lemon juice, a bit of Cointreau, and some orange zest and sugar (if you’re feeling fancy!)

This was a quadruple batch a while ago, so know that the above recipe will make much less!

Send some good vibes out in the world and cook for a friend in need!

Change

A quintessential last minute dinner: Quinoa with bacon, peas, and hardboiled egg.

I’ve been thinking about change a lot as I develop and gear up for my new cooking class series entitled Eat Better: Kitchen Fundamentals, Pantry Stocking and 30-Minute Dinners.  It seems that in the world of cooking, foods and methods of preparation have changed as our lives have changed. We’re busier, we work outside of the home for longer hours, we have other priorities. So I devise a series on how to make cooking real meals with whole ingredients possible in this kind of a world. But even 30 minutes of solid cooking in the evening plus the time it takes to keep that pantry stocked and a few things prepped here and there is a big shift for many of us.

So the question I keep asking myself is how to find that balance between offering lots of creative short-cuts and menus that fit into our busy lives and helping people want to spend a little more time in the kitchen because the pay-offs can be so, so great. So maybe having our lives change just a bit to enable real, good food to hit our table more often, means that instead of needing the cooking to be crammed into our crazy lives we decide to make our lives a little less crazy in order to fit in some real cooking.

Even though I work from home and my work is food, I still often don’t know what I’m going to make for dinner when 5:30pm rolls around. I do have a very well-stocked pantry and several decades of cooking under my belt so the task is not so daunting and often a nice break from the computer. But even with my time at home and years of experience, I chuckle when I read cookbooks  that say things in the head notes of a recipe like this: Serve this ____ main dish with ___ salad with ___ dressing and ___ vegetable dish for a simple satisfying supper. What?!  I can’t count on 2 hands the times my regular week night dinners have included the above components in the last six months. Maybe I’m unorthodox in my focus one one-dish dinners or one dish plus fried egg or one dish plus slice of bread or one-dish plus something I had in the freezer or made extra of the day before, but that is my reality and I find truly simple meals like this very satisfying. And I don’t think I’m feeding my family nutritionally unbalanced meals. This way of cooking certainly is informed by growing up in a household with three brothers and usually an exchange student or two and two parents who liked to eat. My mother just made quantities of one or two dishes and that was that. It was always delicious. And, I should add, she always made some kind of dessert because my father mandated it!:) But I digress.

What I think I’m trying to say is that real, good food can be made fairly quickly and regularly and the investment in time it takes to build that skill and confidence level is worth it.

The first time Ellis actually saved me time in the kitchen. He perfectly hollowed out both halves of this squash--no stray strings or seeds! So, if you have kids, put 'em to work!:)

So I’ve tried to tackle a big subject in these few muddled paragraphs and I would love to hear your thoughts on how you find a balance between cooking and all your other interests, demands, needs, etc. And I’m curious whether you would like to spend more time cooking, less time, would like to cook differently, more simply, more creatively. . .

Happy New Year and happy cooking and thanks for reading.

Katherine

P.S. In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I’m a guest blogger at Culinate these days and if I’ve missed a blog post or two of my own lately it’s because I’ve been posting there as well and there are only so many hours in the day. . . So if you’re curious, there’s this recent one and this one. Enjoy.