Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

Tis the season for greens—kale, collards, tatsoi (one of my CSA favorites), spinach, mustard greens, bok choy, and chard. You’ll see a lot of greens on my menu in the coming weeks. I’m also going to take advantage of having cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts in season too.

If you’re looking for dinner inspiration, here are a few recipes I made this past week and a few I may try next week.

By the way, I’m publishing my list of recommended fiction and non-fiction ebooks on sale on Saturday mornings in a separate post, On the Bookshelf. But since we’re in my virtual kitchen, I’ve included a list of great deals on cookbooks at the end of this post.

In My Kitchen

The leftovers from the Roast Peruvian Chicken recipe I made last week turned into a delicious chicken salad which I enjoyed in a sandwich for lunch a few days this week.

Last Friday, I made Cod in a Meyer Lemon Butter Sauce with shallots, garlic, capers, Meyer lemon juice and zest, plus a little chicken broth so we could have lots of sauce intermingling with our sides: asparagus sautéed with onions and garlic, and a ready-made brown and wild rice mixture.

I ended up going with a Mississippi Roast on Sunday since it was a slow cooker recipe that would free up the oven for roasted green beans and mushrooms with garlic. I thought mashed potatoes would be the perfect side for the roast but to make them healthier, I mashed red-skinned potatoes with cauliflower. The ratio was about one-third potatoes and two-thirds cauliflower. I boiled chunks of each until tender, added butter and a mixture of warm milk and chicken broth, and then mashed away. Roasted garlic would have been a good addition but I didn’t feel like it at the time.

I had enough roast and mashed potatoes/cauliflower leftovers for another night’s dinner and a few lunches. The second time around I made creamed collards for the side. I call my recipe Creamed Collards Deluxe because it includes carrots, red bell and poblano peppers, onions, mushrooms, bacon and garlic.

My other weeknight meal was Chicken Tagine with Olives and Preserved Lemons. Instead of a whole chicken, I used skinless, boneless chicken thighs. I also added plain Greek yogurt and olive oil to the marinade so it would be easier to cover each piece of chicken. I used turmeric in place of the saffron because I thought the flavor the saffron would get lost in the bold spice mix.

It was tasty but, you know what, I’m not a huge fan of preserved lemons. Maybe it’s this brand—Trader Joe’s—but, to me, they’re meh. If I don’t use the rest of the jar, so be it. Am I missing out on the real thing? Anyways, we’re having the leftovers tonight with couscous with sautéed kale.

creamed collards greens

On My Menu

I still haven’t made a dessert yet with my Meyer lemons, but if I do, I’ll make the Meyer Lemon Pudding Cake I mentioned last week. I need to start using those lemons before they get too old.

Sunday dinner is still up in the air. Maybe the farmers market on Saturday will inspire me. Usually, a few meat and produce farmers are there, including my CSA—we’re on break with them right now.

One possibility is a recipe I bookmarked in Ruth Reichl’s fabulous memoir/cookbook, My Kitchen Year: Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi. Since spinach is in season, maybe I’ll find some at the farmers market. If not, I can, of course, always find it at the supermarket. I don’t have access to fresh ricotta like she does—I know I could make it but making gnocchi is enough for one weekend—so supermarket ricotta will have to do. Roasted winter squash of some type would make a nice side.

We need a fish fix so I’ll pick up a side of frozen wild salmon today at BJs and make Maple Cardamom Salmon for dinner two nights next week. I expect we’ll have leftover winter squash—which goes great with salmon—and some type of winter green or Brussels sprouts on the side.

I like the look of these Cumin-Spiced Cauliflower Steaks as another side.

I’ll report back next week on what I ended up making.

cauliflower jennifer-schmidt

Cookbooks on Sale

Caveat: Ebook sales like these sometimes only last a day or a week, so act quickly.

The Home Cook: Recipes to Know by Heart by Alex Guarnaschelli ($2.99, 84% off)

Alex Guarnaschelli is an Iron Chef and Chopped judge on the Food Network but her kitchen resume is more impressive than that. She’s one of my favorites because she’s so damn good plus I love her cooking style. I was psyched to see this cookbook on sale.

“Unlike many cookbooks by star chefs, Guarnaschelli’s book is extremely approachable. The recipes don’t have a long laundry list of ingredients, and the directions are clear and detailed.”  “A cookbook for the way we eat today.”

The Story of Sushi: An Unlikely Saga of Raw Fish and Rice by Trevor Corson ($1.99, 84% off)

I’ve been a fish geek since my days as a McCormick & Schmick’s manager where I wrote the “fish book” used in training across the country. This book shares “everything you never knew about sushi—its surprising origins, the colorful lives of its chefs, and the bizarre behavior of the creatures that compose it…a compelling tale of human determination and a delectable smorgasbord of surprising food science, intrepid reporting, and provocative cultural history.”

The Book of Greens: A Cook’s Compendium of 40 Varieties, from Arugula to Watercress, with More Than 175 Recipes by Jenn Louis ($1.99)

We get a lot of greens in our CSA throughout the year—and I’m not complaining. A week without greens is a sad one, indeed.

“For any home cook who is stuck in a ‘three-green rut’—who wants to cook healthy, delicious, vegetable-focused meals, but is tired of [the] predictable…The Book of Greens has the solution…From one of Portland, Oregon’s most acclaimed chefs comes this encyclopedic reference to the world of greens, with more than 175 creative recipes for every meal of the day.”

Pizza Camp: Recipes from Pizzeria Beddia by Joe Beddia ($3.99, 66% off)

“The ultimate guide to achieving pizza nirvana at home, from the chef who is making what Bon Appetit magazine calls ‘the best pizza in America’…Beddia takes you through the pizza-making process, teaching the foundation for making perfectly crisp, satisfyingly chewy, dangerously addictive pies at home.”

Made in Spain: Spanish Dishes for the American Kitchen by José Andrés ($1.99)

If you live in the DC area, you’ve known of José Andrés for years. Jaleo was one of my old stand-bys and I will never forget the meal I had at his Minibar back in the early 2000s before I moved to California. This is the companion volume to his PBS show Made in Spain.

“The dishes of Made in Spain show the diversity of Spanish cooking today as it is prepared in homes and restaurants from north to south—from casual soups and sandwiches to soul-warming dishes of long-simmered beans and artfully composed salads.”

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal ($1.99)

A novel, not a cookbook, selected as a best book of the year by Amazon, BookPage, LibraryReads, and NPR.

“Fans of Top Chef will want to read this novel about the evolution of Eva, a Midwestern chef who becomes the brains behind the country’s mythological top secret pop-up supper club.” “Each chapter…tells the story of a single dish and character, at once capturing the zeitgeist of the Midwest, the rise of foodie culture, and delving into the ways food creates community and a sense of identity.”

Looking for more deals? Check out last week’s list to see if any of those are still on sale.

Creative Commons licensed image by Jennifer Schmidt on Unsplash (cauliflower).

Amazon book links are affiliate links which allow me to earn a small commission on any sales that result from clicking. Thank you.

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