Dinner

Inquiring Minds: The Bay Leaf Enigma

Posted in Dinner, Food, Informational, Inquiring Minds, Lunch, Main Dish, Meat, Poultry, Starch, Vegan, Vegetarian on May 5th, 2011 by Audrey – 2 Comments

Join me, friends, as I christen a new addition to Can Do Kitchen. Henceforth, I will be penning occasional informational posts, dubbed the Inquiring Minds feature, in which curious cooks put forth a question, and I provide an answer to the best of my ability, complete with resources and the occasional link.

In today’s inaugural post we reflect on bay leaves. An inquisitive CDK reader asks: “What is the purpose of bay leaves? Don’t really smell, can’t actually eat them, yet they’re in everything…” Here are my answers, as well as a few handy links. read more »

In Which I Move Across the Country and Make Salmon Cakes

Posted in Dinner, Fish, Food, Main Dish, Recipe, Travel on September 27th, 2010 by Audrey – 3 Comments

saucyHearken, kind reader, and travel with me back to August 25, the date when I originally penned this post and recipe, but for obvious reasons, am only now put-together enough to bring live.

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As it stands now, Can Do Kitchen has no kitchen at all. I packed up my little horseshoe of a cook-space back in Portland, loaded it all into a trailer, hopped in a big red truck with DG and the kitty, and hauled it across This Great Nation. Discoveries of the journey include: Utah is beautiful! You can get a decent bagel in Laramie, Wyoming. Nebraska? Actually sort of hilly. Delicious BBQ joint on Main Street, Wyanet, Illinois. Everywhere you look: corn, corn, corn. Endless rolling acres of corn. read more »

Asides: Creamy Cauliflower

Posted in Dinner, Food, Recipe, Side Dish, Vegetarian, Veggies on July 23rd, 2010 by Audrey – 8 Comments

I made some pretty stellar pork chops the other night. I cobbled together a preparation of sorts that I remembered from a cookbook my host family had in France using the ingredients that I had lying around, including a bottle of mediocre homebrewed beer and a jar of lingonberry preserves from Ikea. (Cooking is an excellent use for rejected spirits, by the by. As for dejected spirits, liquor can work, but it’s usually just a temporary fix.) The chops came out smashingly well – tart, savory, perfectly cooked – and I was proud to present them to DG at the dinner table accompanied by a lovely bottle of Washington Riesling and a couple of different vegetable preparations alongside. A little smug, even. As he tasted each dish, I watched his eyebrows rise in approval, and the reaction to the pork chops was sufficiently enthusiastic. Unexpected, however, was the groan of delight upon tasting the creamy cauliflower side dish. This coming from someone who claims he does not care for cauliflower. read more »

Spiced Pulled Pork Shoulder and Barbecue Sauce

Posted in Dinner, Food, Main Dish, Meat, Recipe on June 16th, 2010 by Audrey – 1 Comment

Pulled Pork Taco MealThe time has come for us to get in touch with our carnivorous side. (Sorry, veggies, this one’s for flesh-eaters.) Brontosauruses step aside, it’s T-Rex time.

Meat. It can be confusing, daunting, and contentious. Lots of people like it and eat it, but many avoid cooking it at home because they aren’t sure of how to prepare it, are afraid of “ruining” it, or think it’s too expensive or just too big to commit to. There are a lot of different parts and names that can be confusing, and variations in desired temperatures and cooking times depending on the animal and the cut and the current phase of the moon. Some people just think it feels weird. All legitimate reasons to avoid the stuff, but what a shame to have to steer clear of something so tasty and good for us! Never fear, I’m here with my machete to bushwhack through the tangle of potential hang-ups coming between you and a great preparation of a delicious hunk of pork. read more »

Kitchen Sink Quinoa Salad

Posted in Dinner, Food, Lunch, Recipe, Salad, Side Dish, Starch, Vegan, Vegetarian on May 18th, 2010 by Audrey – 6 Comments

Image of Kitchen Sink Quinoa SaladLet’s face it, we’re all spoiled by grab-and-go convenience foods. When the hunger beast rears its angry head, we walk into the kitchen, stare blankly into the brimming refrigerator, and, seeing only ingredients, conclude that there’s nothing to eat. Au contraire, my friends! There is just nothing ready to eat. I know what you’re thinking. “What am I supposed to do? Gnaw on a leaf of Swiss chard?” Well, yes and no. See, when we’re faced with a barrage of ingredients, its often hard to envision what the end product is, so our brain overloads with either the excess or absence of options, and we give up and either go hungry, eat something convenient and pre-made, or go buy something prepared. However, with some practice, we can start to see those items filling the corners of our fridges and pantries as vibrant parts of a delicious whole. The best place to start is to find some foundation on which to build a dish, and then go from there.

Today’s blank canvas is quinoa (KEEN-wah), a magical little grain in a tiny snail-shaped dot. (Actually, it’s technically a seed because it’s not from a grass, but rather from a plant closely related to beets, spinach, and tumbleweeds. Really, tumbleweeds! Just another reason to love quinoa. However, we treat it as a grain in cooking.) For those of you unfamiliar with quinoa or previously tentative about trying it, welcome to a new taste sensation. It has a nutty flavor and toothsome mouth-feel, and can be used a lot like rice or small pasta (think orzo or couscous), but it’s incredibly good for you (high in protein and gluten free) and simple to prepare. You can find it in packages near the rice and pasta in your market, or in the bulk section, which is the more economical option. I buy it in bulk and store it in a big glass jar. The easiest way to prepare it is to boil it in water or broth (2 parts liquid, 1 part quinoa) until the water is absorbed (about 12-14 minutes), fluff and serve. Instant side dish. From there you can get more sophisticated and make pilafs, salads, stuffings, etc. It’s also really tasty added to soup or hot breakfast cereal. (Fun fact: quinoa is currently being considered a possible crop in NASA’s Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration manned spaceflights because of all its nifty convenient and nutritious characteristics. Space grain! Definitely ups its cool factor.) read more »

‘Tis the Season: Dijon Vinaigrette

Posted in Dinner, Food, Lunch, Recipe, Salad, Side Dish, Vegetarian, Veggies on May 14th, 2010 by Audrey – 2 Comments

LettuceSpring has officially sprung out here in the Pacific Northwest, and our farmers markets, gardens, grocery stores, and crisper drawers are overflowing with the new bounty that the seemingly endless months of drizzle bestow on us once the sun decides to stay out for a few moments strung together. Among the first to pop out of our rich soil are the leafy, multicolored baby salad greens that I’ve started to crave on a daily basis. Another side effect of the grey winter is that, come spring, all the citizenry burst forth into the outdoors in droves, and people can be found strolling, draped on stoops, lolling in grassy parks, and zipping around town on bikes.

Last weekend, my fun friends hosted their annual Bike Maintenance Day BBQ, for which they invite any and all to come over, throw something tasty on the grill, contribute a communal dish, and make use of the hosts’ tools, stands, and expertise to tune up their bicycles for the coming months of riding. As anyone who knows me can attest, after Christmas and my birthday, this is my favorite day of the year, and definitely my bike’s numero uno holiday.

This year, I was a little torn on what to contribute as a communal dish. I found myself wandering aimlessly through the produce section of Whole Foods pondering what would be tasty, fresh, and portable enough to toss in my bike’s pannier and pedal over to the Q, when, out of the piles of dwindling citrus and greenhouse tomatoes, a pile of tiny mixed lettuces sang to me like an angel choir from the heavens, and inspiration struck. I found the biggest container of greens they had – only $6! – gave a little fist-pump, and humped it home to my kitchen, where I whipped up a batch of my favorite Dijon Vinaigrette in a spare jar. Container of greens and jar of dressing tossed in my sack, along with some sausages for the grill, I biked forth, knowing I had a hit item to share. Sure enough, the big bowl of dressed greens on the picnic table kept dwindling, and I kept filling it up. There’s nothing like a bowl of zesty freshness to perk up some grilled food. read more »

Crying Mayday? Mix it Up: Roasty Chicken with Toasty Garlic Potatoes

Posted in Dinner, Food, Main Dish, Poultry, Recipe on May 3rd, 2010 by Audrey – 7 Comments

Plated DinnerAdmittedly, at present, in my underemployed state, I’ve got the luxury of time to ponder these things. But, before you discount me as a resource, consider how richly my excess of times can benefit your lack of time. Let’s work together. As my friend (a middle school science teacher) says, “Team work doesn’t seem work!” Et voilà, mes amis. My idleness (hardly!) brings you veritable mountains of ideas, and better yet, higher learning.

Henceforth, I declare the month of May MIX AND MATCH MONTH. Whoop whoop! Every week during this month, I’ll bring you a few new recipes, ideas, hints, and guidance to bring you versatility, taste, color, and good health on your dinner plate each night. This theme will be based around the traditional three-piece meal, i.e. a protein, a vegetable, and a starch. As your diet, and preferences, allow, feel free to mix it up to your heart’s content. Though, the grandma that lives on my right shoulder (there’s a six year-old me on my other shoulder offering Tootsie Rolls) cautions that it is important to consume a variety of nutrients in your daily diet, so try not to go too heavy on any one category.

I hear the sweet-tooth contingent crying out in protest. Okay! So I will tack on a week of desserts, too. As a savory food lover, in a house where a dessert course rarely makes an appearance, I’m far more likely to reach for the potato chip than the cheesecake, but my love for the salty does sympathize with your need for the sweet. By the end of May, you will have an arsenal of stand-bys at the ready, and will be able to construct yourself (and your family, if you’ve got one to feed) a satisfying, delicious dinner every night of the week, with a cherry on top. read more »