Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sniff. Sniff. Is this still good?

My husband has witnessed this scene many times before. It's early in the morning. We've just finished feeding the dog and I'm grabbing the milk for breakfast. The sun is not even up yet and the only light is coming from the open refrigerator door. "Honey, come and smell this!" He swears that something traumatic dealing with cows happened to me in my childhood. I just can't handle milk that's over four or five days old. Yes, I know this is extreme.

Which leads me to my upcoming challenge of the week. He is leaving on a business trip from Tuesday to Sunday. I just came back from grocery shopping with many perishable items. In a few days, I will have no one but the dog to turn to and she is very flexible when it comes to sell by dates.

So I thought I would ask my friends here for some suggestions. I'm definitely going to freeze some things and make half of some selected recipes. Here's what's currently in the fridge tick- tocking away: lemons, limes, oranges (mostly for zesting and juicing purposes), broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, scallions, red peppers, white and sweet potatoes, kale, spring mix, spinach, parsley and romaine. Oh and buttermilk leftover from the muffins I made a few days ago. Thoughts?

Last night I kicked off this week of cooking with two fairly well received dishes.

Curried Potatoes with Kale
from "Greens, Glorious Greens" by Johnna Albi & Catherine Walthers:

2 lbs white, yellow finn or red potatoes, peeled
1 T canola oil
2 t curry powder
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
salt to taste
1 1/2 cups of water
3/4 lb of kale (about 6 cups chopped)
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 lime, cut into 6 wedges

Cut the potatoes into 3/4 inch cubes and set aside. Heat a 10-12 inch skillet over med. heat. Add the oil and swirl in the pan. Add the curry powder and cook for 1 minute, taking care not to burn it. Add the onions and saute over med. heat for 5 minutes, or until they begin to soften.

Add the potato cubes and toss to coat with the curry and oil. Season lightly with salt, add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Meanwhile wash the kale well, then strip the leaves off the stalks. Discard stalks and chop kale into bite size pieces. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a 10-12 inch skillet in a tight fitting lid. Add the kale and cook, covered, over high heat, stirring occasionally, until tender. Approx. 5 minutes.

Stir cooked kale with the potatoes. Heat through and season to taste with pepper and salt (if necessary). Serve hot with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

  • I used the wrong potatoes here. I went with white when the authors said they favored yukon in this dish because of its creaminess. I bet this would have taken this dish to a different level if I followed their advice. I just used what I had on hand.
  • Even though this dish was well seasoned, I didn't feel like I was enjoying the curry, as much. I expected it to be the lead actor, but it only had a "walk on" part. Next time I'll add more during the steaming phase.
  • This dish took a lot longer to prepare than I expected, too. The cooking time was pretty accurate, though. I did add two minutes of microwave time at the end so the pototoes would get a little softer.
  • In the end, it was just okay. Neither of us reached for seconds. I will try this again with the adjustments I mentioned.
  • Quick update - I just took this out of the fridge to heat up for lunch and the potatoes will a deeper orange color. I guess they made friends with the curry last night. I added grated Parmesan-Reggiano to it (about 2 T) and heated it up. It was outstanding. Like a completely different dish entirely. My suggestion for this dish is to let it sit in the fridge for a few hours before serving. And add the cheese.

Lemon Orzo with Parsley from Williams-Sonoma's Essentials of Healthy Cooking

1 1/2 cups orzo

Kosher salt

2 T unsalted butter

2 T of fresh lemon juice

2 t of grated lemon zest

1 T finely chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley

In a large saucepan over high heat, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Stir in the orzo and 1 t of salt. Cover and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the water is absorbed and the pasta is tender. About 15 minutes. Add the butter, lemon juice, zest and parsley and stir to blend. Serve warm.

  • High marks for this one. I absolutely loved it. Have you ever dipped lobster in lemon butter sauce? Okay, so there's no shellfish present here (but it would be great with grilled shrimp), but just a touch of the lemon butter mixture evokes happy memories for me. You don't need a lot. The zest itself is prominent. More flavor. Less calories.
  • I usually use chicken broth instead of water when I make bulgur, couscous or rice. With this, I took a chance and stuck with water. I figured the sauce might compete too much if the pasta had the broth flavor.
  • We reached for thirds with this dish. The leftovers are going fast. It won't make it past lunch today.
  • Quick update: there was about a cup leftover for lunch today, so I dressed it up and gave it to my husband. I added steamed broccoli and crumbled feta cheese. And a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice. He was at the bottom of the bowl before I could ask him how it was...
Looking forward to hearing your comments on how to use up the remaining perishables in five days!


Riley & Dan's Mom said...

Sorry, I've been gone a few days with sick kids. Thanks for stopping by our blog and congratulations on your chinese adoption plans.
I would like to try to the muffins one day soon the pumpkin one especially sounds good.
I'm always on the look out for recipes for breakfast that can be eaten in the car.

ttfn300 said...

In a pinch, I've juiced lemons and limes and frozen in ice cube trays so that I don't lose that fresh juice! I've also read that you can freeze buttermilk as well, which I'm planning on trying next time since I always fall short on using it so quickly!