Monday, February 2, 2009

Italian, Asian, Soup, & Dessert - 2/2/2009

I managed to do all of this week's cooking during the weekend. That way I can bring non-sandwich food for lunch and all I have to do for dinner is push some buttons on the microwave.

Split Pea Soup

The soup of the week (soup du...week) is split pea with ham. It started with cooking some carrot and onion until soft in some butter. Then I added around 7 cups of chicken broth, 16oz of split peas, cubed ham steak, some salt, whole allspice, whole peppercorns, thyme, and a bay leaf. In theory, I should have made a bouquet garni (spices held in a small bag or tied with twine) so I could easily remove them after they soup was done cooking, but I did not have any cheesecloth, so I did it the unfancy way. I cooked the soup for an hour or so until all of the split peas were softened. I like my soup nice and thick (almost paste-like in consistency), so I made sure to cook it until some of the moisture had evaporated. Even though this was the first time I've made this soup, it all balanced out pretty well. The spices provided good depth of flavor and ham is a must for split peas. This will definitely make a good lunch this week.

Miso Steak with Rice Salad

I made some excellent Asian marinated steaks too. I combined some white miso, mirin (sweetened sake), soy sauce, and sesame oil in a bowl, then tossed some steaks in the marinade and let this mixture sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, for my side item, I cooked up some jasmine rice. After it was cooked and cooled a bit, I mixed in chopped garlic, olive oil, cumin, half of a cucumber (halved, seeded, and sliced), cilantro and lemon juice. Lastly, I grilled the steaks in my cast iron skillet and served it all immediately. The steaks adopted some good flavor from the marinade and the rice salad was a great way to add some veggies to the usual carb side.

Pasta with Broccoflower

No, you're monitor doesn't have its colors wrong. Those light green florets are, in actuality, broccoflower, a hybrid of broccoli and cauliflower. It is mostly like cauliflower but with some hints of broccoli flavor. Plus it's a weird limey green color. Anyways, I roasted the florets with grape tomatoes on the low rack of an oven for 15 minutes. While it cooked, I chopped garlic, sage and prosciutto in a food processor, then mixed this with the roasting vegetables to finish cooking for another 5-10 minutes. I cooked the last of my linguine primavera from Italy and, once it was done, reserved some of the cooking liquid. Once the veggies were done in the oven, I combined the pasta, vegetables, some cooked and chopped chicken breast, parmigiano, and arugula, along with some of the pasta water to moisten it all. Some salt and pepper helped accentuate the flavors. I have not had pasta in a while, so this dish was a nice change, especially since I don't have to feel too bad about it with all of the vegetables and grilled chicken inside. Guilt free and delicious!

Ginger Bars

I was invited to a get-together with my classmates this past weekend. I heard it was someone's birthday, so I thought I'd try out a cookie bar recipe: ginger bars. The dough is made much like cookies: cream butter and sugar, add eggs and then the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg). This was spread in a relatively thin layer in a greased 9"x15" baking pan, then baked for about 15 minutes. It did not look entirely done (it jiggled in the middle), but it baked like a cookie, staying soft until it cools. I let it sit until it was entirely cooled, then cut it into triangles. The ginger flavor was not as strong as gingerbread, but it was like a soft, chewy, triangular, ginger cookie. They went very quickly at the party, so I guess that says something about how they tasted.

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