Thursday, August 31, 2006

grown up tomato soup

I love soup. It is the ultimate lunch. It is a good way add some extra vegetables to your day. It is dead easy to make.

I know it's not exactly summer food. But we had a few cooler days last week and it really felt like soup weather. However, this soup is also good cold. Plus, I felt really grown up not eating soup from a can.

Grown Up Tomato Soup

1/2 Spanish Onion, chopped fine
3 Cloves Garlic, chopped fine
28 oz can diced tomatos
19 oz can Cannellini beans
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter

Step 1: Cook onions and garlic in the oil and butter until the onions become soft and translucent. (I do this in the bottom of my soup pot. It means there are less dishes to wash).

Step 2: Add the chopped tomatoes, chicken stock and brown sugar. Rinse the beans well, because canned beans always have scary goop on them, and add the beans to the pot. Bring to the boil.

Step 3: Puree. I am sure you know, but be carefully with the hot soup in the blender. If you find the soup too thick, you might thin it out with some more chicken stock or water.

That's it. As you can see dead easy.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

77 cent chicken

I know what you are thinking: "77 cent chicken. That must have come from the remainder meat bin". And, well, you would be thinking correctly. Because sometimes - okay, actually all the time - when you are in grad school, you buy meat from the remainder meat bin. Because it is damm cheap. I just keep in the freezer until I feel like eating it.

What did I do with my penny pinching prize? Well once it thawed out, I cooked it with some of the basil I have growing on my windowsill.

Basil Mozzarella Chicken
(two servings)

4 chicken thighs (on the bone, with the skin still on)
8 fresh basil leaves
4 slices mozzarella
salt (not much)
pepper (even less)
olive oil

Some notes:
For gods sake, don't use low fat mozzarella like I did. It's disgusting, and every time I buy it I vow never to buy it again.

Preheat oven to 375.

Step one: Poke your finger under the chicken skin and make a little pocket. I am not going to kid you, this step is pretty gross. Whenever I have to do something like this I have a moment where I consider becoming a vegan. But if you steel yourself and think of bacon this will pass.

Step two: Put a slice of mozzarella between two of the basil leaves and stuff it under the little pocket. This requires some dexterity, but if I managed it, you can do it too.

Step three: Rub chicken with a splash of olive oil (sorry, I really can't be more precise) and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Step four: Cook in the oven for about 45mins. I left mine in for an hour and that was too long.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

feisty cucumber salad

I buy a lot of cucumbers. They are quick to cut up to take for lunch. So when I decided to make a salad tonight I had half of one kicking around in the fridge. I also had half a zucchini. I wanted something different than the usual yogurt cumcumber salad, or the vinegary eastern European salad.

This is what I came up with.

Feisty Cucumber Salad
(about two servings)

1/2 cucumber
1/2 zucchini
2 tbsp pine nuts
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp cider vinegar

Step 1: Toast the pine nuts. While the pine nuts are toasting, cut up cucumber and zucchini into bite sized pieces (the picture shows how I like to cut up mine).

Step 2: Mix the oils, mustard and vingar together and toss all the ingredients together.

Not the fanciest thing ever, but something nice and quick for weeknights.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

In which I move out and get my own kitchen

The story so far: I get kicked out of my parents house (my mother invoked the little used "once you start grad school you must get the hell out of my house" rule). After I recovered from being turfed out, I set out on the dreadful business of looking for an apartment. A quest which soon leads me to ask questions like "is there anything odd about the kitchen?" and learning that the lack of a kitchen sink qualifies as normal in some people's kitchens. After a whirlwind tour of apartments without kitchens (do these people not eat?), apartments with bar fridges and hot plates and several mold filled basement apartments suitable for people the size of elves, I finally find an acceptable place. Sure the kitchen is the size of a walk in closet and I have to keep my microwave in a cupboard because I have so little shelf space.

But at least it has a stove.

And so my cooking experiments began. Now that I've been cooking on my own for a year and have bored everyone I know with my natter about cooking and my food photos, I figure I may as well write about it.