Gung Hay Fat Choy!
We make a point of eating dinner as a family most nights. It’s the way I grew up, and it’s still the time of day when getting everyone together works. We all seem to get up at different times and no one has the same idea of what constitutes a delicious breakfast, everyone is scattered to the four winds at lunchtime, so that leaves dinner as our family meal. I hope when the kids get older we will still be able to get together around the table regularly, it’s one of the few rituals we have going for us. [Read more →]
February 11, 2013 No Comments
Hey, long time no see! What have you been up to? This space has been empty for an awfully long time, and we’re sorry about that. I’d like to say we’ll be reformed bloggers this year, but you know how it goes. We do have a few recipes to share, so don’t abandon this space!
Despite the lack of evidence here, we have been cooking steadily, if unimaginatively. And so, we give you… another year of dinner plans, which I hope will be useful or inspirational, or at least a nudge to go check out some of the many awesome recipes other people are cooking up. It was again a fun way to look back on the past year, especially since I was pretty good about keeping an accurate record of what we had for dinner each night. A lot of pea soup, apparently.
Glad you’re still here, and we’ll do our best to be here too.
January 28, 2013 1 Comment
While I was growing up eating Jell-O pudding cups,* halfway across the world Valerian was snacking on miláčik. Now, miláčik means “darling” or “dear” in Slovak, so if you run a search on it, you’ll get a rather surprising selection of results, particularly pet photos.
Last time he was back in the Old Country, Valerian noticed that miláčik is basically sweetened, flavored sour cream, and so when he returned to California, he decided to whip us up a batch himself. It’s not quite as firm as the kind you buy in the store, which sometimes is called tvarohový miláčik because it’s made with tvaroh, the local cheese that’s similar to ricotta. Valerian’s recipe here couldn’t be simpler, though, and while the vanilla bean gives you those authentic little speckles, just bump up the amount of good quality vanilla extract if that’s what you have. Sour cream makes a perfect consistency to top or fill crepes, or, honestly, just slurping it up all on its own. Good thing I’m wearing these elastic-waist pants.
*These days I’m more partial to Kozy Shack. Terrible name, ridiculous website, but that is some good pudding.
This creamy delight falls somewhere between a pudding and a sauce. If vanilla seems, well, too vanilla, sift in a tablespoon of cocoa powder and make a chocolate version instead. Could you use yogurt instead of sour cream? Sure, but then you’ll have flavored yogurt.
- 1 16 oz. container sour cream
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and their surrounding paste.
- Whisk together the sour cream, sugar, and vanillas in a medium bowl.
- Serve in small bowls, as a topping or filling for crepes or pound cake.
May 19, 2012 No Comments
We had a first blaze of summery weather here last weekend, and our thoughts turned towards the delights of summer eating, of course. Back in Slovakia, the fruit trees are blooming and the cherries will soon start to form; here we’ve got strawberries still green and rock-hard, but strawberries! growing in our garden!
When it comes down to it, sometimes the very best meal is the simplest. “Use the very best ingredients you can find” is the rule here, and in this case, it involved a little DIY to get the best. At the end of a warm afternoon, a dinner of sliced tomatoes, a little salt, maybe some mayonnaise or avocado balanced on a kaiser roll is all you need. Well, a cold beer can’t hurt, either.
For whatever reason, we haven’t really seen kaiser rolls in store here – I know you can get one when you order a deli sandwich, but where are they, among the mini-bagels and pocket-less pitas and artisanal ciabatta at the grocery? But never fear. The fearless bloggers over at The Fresh Loaf have a recipe that is straightforward and gets great results. We should know, we have tried it several times by now!
Have you ever resorted to making something when you couldn’t buy just what you wanted? It’s what got us cooking, how about you?
April 30, 2012 1 Comment
This is one of those odd combinations that just works. It sounds like a recipe I threw together based on whatever’s in the fridge, and in fact you really could try using different elements here if that’s what you have. Cauliflower always seemed like such a dull vegetable, it’s colorless for heaven’s sake! But roasted, it’s transformed – when it’s just a bit burned along the edges, that’s when it’s best. And kale, well, everyone and his dog knows how good kale chips are by now, right?
Here, the roasted veggies’ slight bitterness pairs up with a bright lemony-parmesan dressing and some gnocchi for heft, that’s a perfect dinner for early spring, just before all the best new crops start rolling in. If you feel the need for some protein, add some beans (you know I’m going to say chickpeas. I have such a thing for chickpeas!) or bacon.
There’s some chopping involved here, but once that’s done, it’s a very low-maintenance project. You could do some of it on the stovetop, but I think that’s more work, really. This past week I prepped the kale and cauliflower the night before, so all I had to do was pop them in the oven and boil the water for gnocchi while I made the dressing. Toss it all together and you’re ready to eat!
Roasted kale & cauliflower with gnocchi
I usually use two baking sheets, one for the cauliflower and one for the kale, but you can squeeze them onto one. Your kale may not get as crispy that way but you’ll still get that great roasted flavor. I generally prefer “dinosaur” or Tuscan/lacinato kale, but any type works here, even a combination!
- 1 large head cauliflower
- 2 bunches kale
- 1 package (500 grams) store-bought gnocchi
- 2 Tbs plus 2 tsp good quality olive oil, separated
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- zest and juice of one lemon
- ½ cup or so grated Parmesan cheese
- salt, pepper to taste
- Additional parmesan cheese for sprinkling over the top
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Cut the stem off the cauliflower and cut/separate the florets into bite-size pieces. Toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil (or spray with olive or cooking oil if you have it) and spread on a baking sheet in a single layer; sprinkle with a little salt. Roast for 20-25 minutes, occasionally shaking the pan to move things around, until the cauliflower is nicely browned.
- Meanwhile, cut the thick center stem from the kale and tear the leaves into large pieces. Toss with a teaspoon of olive oil (or again, spray) and spread on another pan, or make room on the cauliflower pan. The kale needs only about ten minutes in the oven, so keep an eye on it or put it in when there are just ten or so minutes left for the cauliflower. You want it to get crisp but not burn.
- Put a pot of water on to boil for the gnocchi.
- Whisk together the oil, mustard and garlic; whisk in the lemon zest and juice, and then stir in the Parmesan. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
- Boil the gnocchi according to directions, drain, and put it in a large bowl. When the cauliflower and kale look appealingly browned, add them to the bowl, reserving a few of the crispier kale leaves. Add the dressing and toss gently.
- Serve with the reserved kale leaves and Parmesan sprinkled on top.
April 16, 2012 No Comments