Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pulled chicken sandwich with apple slaw and sweet corn

Sometimes good barbecue doesn't reinvent the wheel. Sometimes it doesn't even require you to go outside. I shredded some leftover roasted chicken (it had been marinated in a garlicky gochujang barbecue sauce) and warmed it in some basic hickory barbecue sauce with a little apple juice and a splash of sweet balsamic vinegar and served it on a soft wheat bun with a slice of good ol' Tillamook cheddar and some sautéed onions. So simple and unassuming.

Okay, the slaw isn't literally made of apples, it just contains some apples. This is the way my mom always made it (she added raisins, too), and it's the way I like a basic cabbage slaw. A nice, creamy mayo-vinegar-sugar dressing, shredded cabbage and chopped apples. Yum.

Corn is totally not in season yet, not here anyway. But I can't get enough of the fresh ears showing up in the store. And lord knows I love a good compound butter, but sometimes a girl only needs a little butter, crunchy salt and pepper on her corn.

Serve with an ice-cold strawberry lemonade (mix fresh strawberry puree with Newman's Own virgin lemonade).

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Grilled eggplant and heirloom tomato panini with chevre and kalamata tapenade

Yay! Summery weekend weather started on Friday, and the lovely log of French goat cheese that's been languishing in my fridge got its day in the sun. The first good heirloom tomatoes starting showing up in stores, and I was powerless. An eggplant and a loaf of fresh sea salt-rosemary focaccia would complete the train of thought, and this would be dinner.

I marinated the sliced eggplant (salted and left in a sieve in the sink to drain the bitter juices, then squeezed of the last drops of leachate) in a basil-balsamic vinaigrette: olive and walnut oils and balsamic vinegar; Dijon mustard and a drib of mesquite honey; then a good, fat chiff of basil, some flaky Maldon and cracked pepper. I let it soak up every atom of flavor while Scott readied the grill and I worked on the ultimate condiment.

I'm kind of picky about my chèvres - so many of the affordable ones from Trader Joe's are just like a crumbly cream cheese and lack the depth of tang and grass and goat that distinguishes a good French cheese. Ile de France makes a really nice one that meets my exacting standards. I mashed it with some finely chopped basil, summer savory and a quickie kalamata tapenade (chopped olives with shallots, S&P and a little lemon zest and chile flake) to spread on the toasted focaccia.

We grilled the eggplant (gas flame with some hickory chips in a foil pouch - so much faster and less wasteful for the grilling needs of just two people) until roasty-soft with crispy edges, and then toasted the focaccia over the flame. I soaked the sliced tomatoes in the warm vinaigrette drippings from the eggplant, then assembled the sandwiches.

Just perfect with a lemony mixed spring green salad and sparkling grapefruit juice.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Don't Call it a Comeback

Yay! I'm over the (first) hump and can eat real food again. I can cook it too, without being too tired or tummy-achy to stand or smell food aromas hitting my face. But I've had to start out slow. I've sort of lost my groove, a little.

On Tuesday I really wanted a pot pie-type comfy food, since it's been a typical cold, wet Oregon May. The slugs have annihilated my vegetable sprouts and even sawed halfway through my beloved dragon arum (Dracunculus vulgaris) - a devastating blow! I thought about making a pot "pie" inside a loaf of bread, and picked up some organic bread dough. Scott chimed in about making them single-servings like hum bao, and I heartily concurred. I whipped up a batch of chicken pot pie filling, taking care to reduce the gravy somewhat to avoid utter soggage. But oh, the calamity. They fell apart before I could even pinch them together. I threw the whole mess into a casserole and just baked it with the bread dough strewn lazily across the top.

Tragically, the bread part ended up completely leaden, and my gravy reduction yielded a dry interior to the mess. Sigh. I think my lower lip stuck out the entire time we ate.

The next day I was craving soup, and even wanted something spicy. I tossed around a few ideas (one of which I'll save for another time - it might be a Thing) and settled on a variation on the highly plastic minestrone. I made a hearty tortellini, sausage and cannelini minestra with a piquant arrabbiata broth simmered with onions, carrots, garlic, zucchini (sauteed first in the flavorful Italian sausage fat) and best of all, a thick Parmesan rind to enrich the whole affair. I tossed in some cheese tortellini (and a can of cannelinis at the end), et voilà. Top with a thick piece of garlicky bruscetta and finely grated Parmigiano Regiano, and I think I'm back.

This weekend: grill therapy.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Almost ready, I swear.

Sorry for the lag in blogging over the past few weeks. It's not even that I'm too busy this time, it's just that I've cooked exactly twice since the halibut post (grilled cheese with tomato soup and penne with jarred tomato sauce, though that hardly counts as cooking). I am nearly over my first trimester and should be getting back to normal very soon. God, I hope so.

People are always interested to know what a foodie craves when she is pregnant. "God, what does Heather crave," people ask Scott. Well not much, I'm sad to say, not yet anyway. Here is some of what I've eaten over the past few weeks:

  • 1.5 pints of Haagen Daaz strawberry ice cream (last night with those chewy chocolate crinkle cookies - a winning combination)
  • about a pound of Jelly Bellys, opting alternately for Juicy Pear and Black Licorice (but gah, not together - gross - I'm not an animal)
  • a corn dog from a questionable gas station deli in BFE
  • a piece of supreme pizza from a questionable gas station deli in BFE
  • a cucumber and chili Mexican frozen popsicle ("paleta")
  • ham and cheese hot pocket (whole wheat! it's good for the baby)
  • Nong Shim Kim Chee bowl noodle spicy taste good job
  • 2 cans of Spaghettios in cheese sauce
  • approximately 4 chili dogs (with the cheese and onions) and tater tots
  • tuna salad sandwich on a non-sick day
  • 3 cantaloupes, salted, each eaten entirely in one sitting
  • 5 pints of strawberries, eaten over the sink
  • 4 mangoes, salt and peppered
  • 10 or 20 apples, sometimes with salt, sometimes with cheese
  • a half a giant tub of Carnation Instant Breakfast (chocolate) with 1% milk - usually the first thing in my stomach in the morning
  • three bowls of pho
  • a half a Hawaiian-style pizza with green peppers
  • three servings of pasta with red sauce (nothing fancy)
  • iceberg lettuce with ranch dressing (a healthy "salad"!)
  • a giant bowl of radishes with salt
  • Ethiopian food (the lentils were the craving, and sticking with vegetarian was a really good choice for me)
  • 2 breakfast burritos
  • 3 of those mini boxes of cereal from the variety pack: Corn Pops, Rice Krispies and Crispix (I foolishly let Scott have the Fruit Loops)
  • a movie-size box of Hot Tamales
  • a movie-size box of Junior Mints
  • approximately 5000 Cliff Bars (while in the field)
  • a 6" veggie sub with extra pepperoncini
  • 10 bottles of Reed's ginger beer
I guess that's enough confession. Try not to judge me. Progesterone's a helluva drug.