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Hey! We’re Back with Braised Mushroom Pasta

10 Nov

by Green Gourmet L

Welcome back all you Green Gourmets! Green Gourmet K and I would like to tell you that we enjoyed our hiatus, but we missed blogging so much that we had to get back to it! A lot has happened during our time away. Green Gourmet K got pregnant! And Green Gourmet L moved to Texas and then got pregnant! Even though each of us is now eating for two, that doesn’t stop us from cooking green (local, organic, and budget friendly) now more than ever. And we would love to share our journey with you. So stay tuned for our usual awesome recipes, tips and tricks about being green, and new anecdotes about what happens when you get knocked up.

Alright, onto the food! When the weather in TX starts to cool down (from like 90s to 70s), I get excited that I can use my oven again. My absolute favorite way to cook anything when the weather gets a little chilly is a low and slow braise. Braising is just a form of slow cooking, usually some kind of meat in liquid, until it is very tender and the liquid has turned into a luscious sauce.

There are a couple rules to braising:

  1. Lower temperatures for a longer time are best
  2. Start with a good base- aromatic veggies like onions, carrots, celery give great flavor during a long cooking marathon
  3. Begin cooking on the stove first. Brown your meat, soften your veggies, simmer your liquid. It will make the actual braising process go by much faster
  4. Check your dish occasionally. You may need to add more liquid, stir or turn your meat, and you don’t want to find out after it’s too late
  5. Your dish might be better the next day. Once the flavors have had a chance to meld together in the fridge, you can enjoy your leftovers even more than the original meal!

I love to eat red meat but I am also sensitive to the fact that this is not a part of everyone’s diet. I mean, we are in TX now, but I am a Green Gourmet so I can adapt. I found a wonderful braised mushroom dish and decided to adapt it to fit my dinner last night. Hope you like it!

Braised Mushroom Pasta
Serves 8

  • 3oz prosciutto (or bacon), diced (if vegetarian, use smoked tofu)
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 2 ribs celery, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 3lbs mixed mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small bunch thyme (leave on the stems)
  • 1 14oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 TB butter (if vegan, use olive oil)
  • 3 cups chicken stock (or veggie stock)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350F.

Heat an ovenproof casserole dish or a frying pan over a medium heat. Add a few tablespoons olive oil and cook prosciutto until golden brown and crispy (about 5 minutes).

Remove and allow to drain on a paper towel.

Add a little more oil to the pan and add onion. Cover and cook stirring occasionally until the onion is soft and slightly golden (8-10 minutes).

Add carrots, celery, garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add half of the mushrooms, stir and cover for 5 minutes until the mushrooms begin to release moisture and cook down.

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Add the other half, stir and cover for an additional 5 minutes.

When the mushrooms have browned, add the crispy prosciutto, thyme, tomatoes, butter and salt/pepper.

Top with 3 cups chicken stock. Bring to a simmer on the stove then put in the oven.

Cook, uncovered for 2 1/2 hours, stirring every half an hour or so. It’s ready when the mushrooms are tender and the liquid has reduced to a delicious sauce. Adjust seasonings and remove thyme stems.

Serve braised mushrooms over your favorite pasta (penne!) or over mashed potatoes, polenta, quinoa, or whatever your heart desires. This also makes a fabulous breakfast served as a bed for a poached egg, folded into an omelet, or as scrambled eggs with goat cheese.

Enjoy your new found mushroom braising addiction and don’t forget you read about it on Green Gourmets!

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Dinner in a Thai Man’s Basement

2 May

By Green Gourmet L

The best way I can describe this place is a portal into Narnia. If you aren’t looking for it, you could easily miss the sign hidden behind the vines for Thai X-ing.

But if you know what you seek, once you walk inside you are transferred to a far-away place where the food is amazing and the servers treat you like family. This restaurant is literally located in a basement (the owners live and even have extra tables in the apartment above).

A few tips in advance before you go:

  1. Wear socks or get a pedicure. If you end up sitting upstairs, you must take your shoes off.
  2. Make a reservation. I called a week in advance, and the earliest they had was 8:15 on Tuesday night. Here are the website and phone number: 202-332-4322.
  3. Bring your own ____. Beer, wine, soda. Whatever you like. They put a pitcher of water on your table, but beyond that you’re one your own.
  4. They serve a chef’s tasting menu which is $30 Tuesday-Thursday, $40 on Friday/Saturday, and a Vegetarian/Vegan menu on Sundays for $30.
  5. You don’t have to stuff yourself silly. We asked for to-go boxes and had a wonderful dinner at home the next night.
  6. There is a metro stop not far away and I saw many buses going by. We elected to take a cab home. This is not in the best part of town and I would not recommend walking home alone after dark.

Now for the food. If you go for the Chef’s Tasting, this is the best way to experience all that Thai X-ing has to offer. They will bring out between 5-7 courses depending on how many people are in your party. And the ingredients are so fresh, the dishes are very well balanced, it is by far some of the best Thai food I’ve ever had.

Course 1

Tom Yum soup. This soup is hot and sour and filled with delicious fresh seafood and herbs. This was my favorite course since I have never had soup that tasted this fresh- stalks of lemon grass, sprigs of cilantro, and a hint of fish sauce. They must simmer the broth all day long to get this depth of flavor.

Course 2

Papaya salad. Spicy but refreshing. My friend who loves spice thought this was quite authentic. I was glad it was a smaller portion, because a little goes a long way.

Course 3

Red curry with salmon and pumpkin. This was the most unique dish we had all evening. I have never had pumpkin cooked in this way, but it had such amazing flavor and texture. I am definitely going to attempt to make this at home at some point. The red curry was spicy but well balanced with just the right amount of sweetness from the coconut milk. Yum!

Course 4

Pad See-Ew. Chicken, egg, veggies, noodles, and sauce. Sounds simple, but I heard rumors that they make their noodles in house, oh yeah. We were pretty full by the time we got to this course, but this was even better for leftovers the next day. Don’t be afraid to take some home!

Course 5

Sticky rice with mango and coconut milk. A perfect way to end this dinner. This sticky rice is not too sweet, filled with fresh mango, and had an interesting starchy component (which the server said was green pumpkin). We all cleaned our bowls and even though I was full to the brim, I was wishing there was more!

After dinner, chef Taw Vigsittaboot came out and greeted our table. He was even kind enough to let us take a picture of him in his modest kitchen.

This was definitely an experience to remember and if you like Thai food, this is a MUST when you’re in DC. Enjoy your Thai adventure and don’t forget you read about it on Green Gourmets!

Weeknight Staple: Basic Marinara

30 Mar

by Non-Gourmet J

I tend to get really busy during the week and don’t always feel up to making involved dinners. One tactic I use to combat eating out regularly or relying on pre-prepared, processed food, is to make things on Sunday that I can use throughout the week. My go-to for this is marinara. I like to make huge batches of this and use it as a spaghetti sauce, a filling for calzones, a dip for Stromboli, or a base for a homemade pizza.  When I really need some comfort food, I’ll add cream and vodka to it for a fancy-feeling mid-week pasta. In the summer, I roast my own tomatoes instead of using cans.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp. anchovy paste (optional, but be daring and try it – it doesn’t taste fishy at all and really adds depth to this sauce)
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 3-4 tbsp. Italian seasoning (or basil, oregano, thyme, whatever combination Italian seasonings you prefer)
  • 1-2 tbsp. fennel (I prefer to buy whole fennel seeds and crush them using a mortar & pestle)

  • 1 tbsp. crushed red pepper (more or less depending on your heat tolerance)
  • 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • Few glugs of good red wine (Optional, but I really like the flavor it adds. Important – The flavor will intensify when you cook, so always cook with a wine you like enough to drink!)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 

Directions

Sauté onions in olive oil until translucent. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Stir in anchovy paste (if using).

Add remainder of ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.

 Taste halfway through cooking and adjust seasonings as necessary. If you don’t like a chunky sauce, or will be using this as a dipping sauce or base for a pizza, use an immersion blender at the very end. You can also transfer to a blender if you do not have an immersion blender. This recipe will last all week in the fridge, but can be kept frozen for several months.

Thanks for teaching us the basics J and don’t forget you read about it on Green Gourmets!

Indian Spice: Chickpea Coconut Curry

16 Mar

by Green Gourmet L

I have the extreme pleasure of assisting at a cooking school in DC. It’s so fun for me because I get to attend an $80 cooking class for free. Not only do I get to pick up on new techniques, the chef cooks the recipes for the assistants at the end and we get to ask questions (food related or otherwise)!

One of my favorite chef’s that I assist for is a quick-witted, gay, Indian man who always cooks barefoot. His cooking style is very relaxed (clearly) and his recipes are to die for. Unfortunately, the written recipes are usually not the easiest to follow, so I’ve had to adapt based on what worked for me. The other night, he made a chicken dish for our class, but he said that you could easily make it vegetarian by substituting chickpeas. I’ve already made this at home twice and HAVE to share it!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chickpeas that have been soaked, rinsed, and drained
  • 2 cups light coconut milk
  • 2 TB ginger/garlic paste (see below)
  • 1 tomato chopped
  • 4 TB oil
  • 2 tp curry powder
  • 2 tp paprika
  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 20 whole black peppercorns
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 TB cilantro

Directions

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat and saute whole spices (cinnamon and black peppercorns) for 3-5 minutes.

Add onions and saute until onions are light brown about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Make ginger/garlic paste by placing 2 large cloves of garlic (without skin) and 1 1/2 inch of ginger (with skin) into food processor. Grind until a paste forms.

Add ginger/garlic paste to pot and cook for about 1 minute.

Add curry powder and paprika, mix well, and cook for about 1 minute.

Add chickpeas, coconut milk, and tomatoes. Adjust for seasonings and add salt/pepper.

Cover and cook on low heat for 30 minutes until chickpeas are completely cooked through, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve over rice. Enjoy your authentic Indian cuisine and don’t forget you read about it on Green Gourmets!

Daily Dinner Inspiration

10 Mar

by Green Gourmet K

If you are like me then you find it easy to cook something for dinner that will result in leftovers that you want to eat the next day.  I am always in a rush in the morning so I just grab my leftovers, already boxed up, or I come home and reheat.  I find this a good money saving strategy too.  If I make something delicious I will be glad to eat it the next day, instead of staring at my canned soup wishing it were anything else but canned soup.

So where do you all get your inspiration for dinner?  We all probably have a certain number of recipes in the rotation.  But sometimes you want something different.  I do love to see what other food bloggers are cooking up.  One of my favorites is Smitten Kitchen, whatever she makes is golden.  You all know I am a fan of the Bon Appetit, and one thing I have started to enjoy lately are the emails I get from them.  They are mostly, “hey, buy more subscriptions!” but they usually have a good roundup of recipes too.

I found recent inspiration from one of these emails, a recipe for Sauteed Bacon, Lentils and Mushrooms.  Say what!?!  I happened to have many of the ingredients so this was easy to pull together.

To be clear, this is not my recipe, it is from Leite’s Culinaria and it is dang good.  I made a few tweaks, my version is below, but please feel free to compare these and choose the one you like.

Here it is:

Sautéed Bacon Mushrooms, and Lentils

(serves 6)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups small brown or green lentils, rinsed  ( I used green)
  • 4 cups cold water
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces of sliced baby portabella mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 1 whole lemon, squeezed
  • 6 to 12 slices bacon, preferably thick-cut

Directions

1. Place the lentils in a large saucepan, cover with the water, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently until tender, at least 35 minutes or so. (The exact timing will depend on the type and age of the lentils.) Drain well.

2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, place your bacon on parchment paper on a cookie sheet.  Bake for about 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness of your bacon.  Check and turn the bacon half way through.  When done place on paper towels to drain and crisp up.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a skillet over medium heat, add the onion and sauté just until softened and pale golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the butter, the remaining oil, and the mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Add the lentils, a few tablespoons of chopped parsley, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and heat, stirring, just until warmed through. Remove and discard the garlic. Taste and season the lentils accordingly with more lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

4. Sprinkle the lentils with the parsley and bacon, left whole or crumbled into pieces, the more the better.

Now this is one dish I will be relishing at lunchtime today.

Dill Sauce with a Little Salmon

8 Mar

by Green Gourmet K

There are certain dishes that my parents make that have shown up on our dinner table as long as I can remember, and many of them I have adopted.  Whenever my Dad bakes salmon he usually makes a dill sauce to go with it.  Even now, unless it’s some specially prepared salmon, it just doesn’t taste right to me without the dill sauce.  Here’s how I make it.

Dill Sauce for Salmon

(for four servings of salmon)

8 oz. sour cream (full fat or low fat) or you can substitute good plain yogurt

3 tbsp. chopped dill

juice of half of a lemon

pinch of salt and ground pepper

Refrigerate until salmon is ready.  Add a dollop of this sauce on top of each salmon steak.  It will take your salmon to the next level.  Salmon with dill sauce is a very springtime dish in my mind, so next time it’s on sale, or you’re looking for something special to serve for dinner, try it out.

Let us know what you think!

Side note: I have not tried this yet but it occurred to me that the leftover sauce (as long as it did not touch fish) could be turned into salad dressing and served over lettuce and leftover cold salmon. I would add some more lemon to thin it out.

OMG- My Husband Ate Tempeh

28 Feb

by Green Gourmet L

Mr. Green Gourmet is a picky eater.  He will deny it, but he loves things like pizza, fries, burgers and other typical man food.  Luckily, I write a food blog, and he’s forced encouraged to eat things that are  a bit healthier!

The other day at Whole Foods, I found some soy tempeh for $2.79…way less expensive than chicken. Tempeh has been around in Asian cooking for hundreds of years, although it is relatively new to American cuisine. It’s made from cooked soybeans (or flax or other grains) and then formed into a patty, like a veggie burger. It’s vegetarian and vegan friendly, and certain kinds are gluten free. It’s texture is different from tofu and it has a slightly nutty flavor. It still takes on the flavor of what it’s cooked around though, so make sure you marinate or cook with a sauce to help it blend in.  Also- low fat, high protein. Yep.

Photo from lifestyle.8flo.com

Always a good standby if you’re trying to do more veggie dishes in your life. I know that Mr. GG loves Thai food, so I decided to make a green curry dish with veggies and then sneak some tempeh in there. And the result: his initial response was “pretty good”, then when I explained the tempeh, he said “edible”. I think I will take the pretty good and not tell him what’s in it next time.

Green Curry with Tempeh

  • 2TB green curry paste
  • 1 can coconut milk (light)
  • 2 TB fish sauce
  • 1/3 cup veggie stock
  • salt to taste
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • ½ green pepper, sliced
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced and seeded
  • 1 head broccoli, separated
  • 1 package tempeh, cut into 3/4 in cubes
  • chopped cilantro

Cook first four ingredients for sauce on medium for 7-8 minutes until thickened. Add veggies and cook for 10 minutes. Add tempeh and cook for an additional 5 minutes until flavor of the sauce has been absorbed. Serve over rice and top with cilantro. Trying tempeh for the first time like my husband? Don’t forget you read about it on Green Gourmets!