vrai-lean-uh

Cooking, eating, making sweeping pronouncements

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Dinner Suggestion: Turkey Burgers with Salsa Verde and Carrot Salad

Some divine light shone on us Tuesday night and we had a really fantastic mostly leftovers dinner at 5:45 pm with Bear.

Despite my best intentions, we mostly don’t eat dinner with Bear. He goes to bed really early, and needs a bath to keep the rashiness under control, which means we’d have to eat at 5:30 or so. I can pull together a simple dinner for him between when I get home from daycare pickup and 5:30, but I can only very rarely pull together a real dinner for all three of us in that time.

Except Tuesdsay night! We had turkey burgers topped with the extra salsa verde from the summer squash gratin along with the leftover carrot and chickpea salad. The salsa verde was perfect on the turkey burgers, and the whole dinner was filling and light. The carrot and chickpea salad saves really nicely in the fridge. The turkey burgers only take maybe 15 minutes.

Here’s the salsa verde recipe:

Salsa Verde

  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon marjoram or oregano leaves (I used approximately 1/2 a teaspoon of the ancient dried oregano leaves I found in the pantry)
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped mint leaves
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 small cloves garlic
  • 1 salt-packed anchovy, rinsed and bones removed (I think I used two anchovies, not rinsed, bones not removed, and didn’t use any capers)
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained (and rinsed, too, if salt-packed)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, or more to taste

Blend the herbs, garlic, anchovies, and capers (if you’re using them) in a food processor or blender until they become a paste. You may need to scrape down the sides once or twice. It was more like a very fine chop/rough paste for me and it was fine. With the machine running, pour in the olive oil (my food processor has a little indentation thing in the lid with two holes so I can pour oil into the lid and it drips slowly into the mixture). Season with the lemon juice and salt and pepper.

It keeps well in the fridge, although the oil solidifies.

Turkey Burgers

This is my general process with turkey burgers. This time I used:

  • about 3/4 lb ground dark meat turkey
  • about a teaspoon of mustard
  • chopped parsley
  • chopped sage
  • a large garlic clove, minced
  • lemon zest
  • salt and pepper
  • sometimes I toss in some breadcrumbs, but I didn’t have any.

I folded the ingredients together with a fork (to avoid mashing the turkey too much), made them into three rough patties, and cooked them in a skillet with olive oil.

When they were done, I added a spoonful of salsa verde on top.

Filed under dinner leftovers parenting is more complicated than I anticipated

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Smitten Kitchen’s Fancy Summer Squash and My Lazy Summer Squash
(The beautiful photo above is from Smitten Kitchen, lest you think that I’ve upped my iphone photo game. I have not.)
I made two different summer squash recipes last weekend. First, I made a very basic and easy summer squash sauté in the hopes of encouraging my kid to branch out, eating-wise. Later, I made Smitten Kitchen’s Summer Squash Gratin with Salsa Verde to go with dinner.
The gratin was very good, but harder than the simple sauté, and not really better.
I don’t want to knock it. It was very good. I was pleased for the salsa verde leftovers, since I miss the rich herbal kick of pesto in the summer now that we don’t eat nuts.
On the other hand, zucchini fritters would probably have been less work, and there’s almost nothing I like as much as a good zucchini fritter.
So here’s the link for the gratin. I think it would be really lovely for a low-key dinner get-together. Maybe alongside grilled chicken or piece of fish? Or with a nice turkey burger situation? Much of the prep work can be done well-ahead, which is perfect for a dinner party, and it makes a slightly fancier side dish.
But mostly I’m going to stick with the sauté which was unbelievably good. It was crazy delicious. Dave and I both spent the last portion of Bear’s nap eating it, and then when it became clear Bear wasn’t interested, we gobbled that shit down like a pack of hungry wolves. Some of the deliciousness may have come from the fact that I cooked it in the same pan I had just used to cook a mixture of onions, carrots, and celery (which I tossed with some green lentils, olive oil, and a bit of chicken stock to make a lunch for Bear which he inexplicably loved, despite it being a nice thing mama made specially for him). Regardless, sautéed summer squash is fantastic, and particularly fantastic with onions that are almost caramelized, and the parmesan on top rounds everything out really well.
The real key thing here is to not try to cook too much summer squash at once. If you overcrowd the pan, the squash will steam instead of brown. I am fond of steamed zucchini halfway mashed with a lot of butter and salt, but that’s a different dish, and failed sautéed zucchini is not very good. For that reason it’s a really great dish to make for one person, and I would definitely not make it for say, three or four people.
Summer Squash Sauté
1 summer squash (I had a patty pan, but zucchini or yellow summer squash would work just as well), cut 1/4 - 1/8” thick and chopped a bit.
1/2 - 1 shallot, chopped
Salt
Olive Oil
Parmesan Cheese
Toss the summer squash with a fairly liberal amount of salt. You can set it in a colander to drain or just lay it out on a dish towel. Wait for 10 minutes or so, then press it with a dish towel to dry.
Heat a fair amount of olive oil in a large saute pan or skillet. Add the shallot and sauté until translucent. Add the squash and sauté until slightly browned (the shallot should be on its way to caramelized).
Top with parmesan.

Smitten Kitchen’s Fancy Summer Squash and My Lazy Summer Squash

(The beautiful photo above is from Smitten Kitchen, lest you think that I’ve upped my iphone photo game. I have not.)

I made two different summer squash recipes last weekend. First, I made a very basic and easy summer squash sauté in the hopes of encouraging my kid to branch out, eating-wise. Later, I made Smitten Kitchen’s Summer Squash Gratin with Salsa Verde to go with dinner.

The gratin was very good, but harder than the simple sauté, and not really better.

I don’t want to knock it. It was very good. I was pleased for the salsa verde leftovers, since I miss the rich herbal kick of pesto in the summer now that we don’t eat nuts.

On the other hand, zucchini fritters would probably have been less work, and there’s almost nothing I like as much as a good zucchini fritter.

So here’s the link for the gratin. I think it would be really lovely for a low-key dinner get-together. Maybe alongside grilled chicken or piece of fish? Or with a nice turkey burger situation? Much of the prep work can be done well-ahead, which is perfect for a dinner party, and it makes a slightly fancier side dish.

But mostly I’m going to stick with the sauté which was unbelievably good. It was crazy delicious. Dave and I both spent the last portion of Bear’s nap eating it, and then when it became clear Bear wasn’t interested, we gobbled that shit down like a pack of hungry wolves. Some of the deliciousness may have come from the fact that I cooked it in the same pan I had just used to cook a mixture of onions, carrots, and celery (which I tossed with some green lentils, olive oil, and a bit of chicken stock to make a lunch for Bear which he inexplicably loved, despite it being a nice thing mama made specially for him). Regardless, sautéed summer squash is fantastic, and particularly fantastic with onions that are almost caramelized, and the parmesan on top rounds everything out really well.

The real key thing here is to not try to cook too much summer squash at once. If you overcrowd the pan, the squash will steam instead of brown. I am fond of steamed zucchini halfway mashed with a lot of butter and salt, but that’s a different dish, and failed sautéed zucchini is not very good. For that reason it’s a really great dish to make for one person, and I would definitely not make it for say, three or four people.

Summer Squash Sauté

  • 1 summer squash (I had a patty pan, but zucchini or yellow summer squash would work just as well), cut 1/4 - 1/8” thick and chopped a bit.
  • 1/2 - 1 shallot, chopped
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil
  • Parmesan Cheese

Toss the summer squash with a fairly liberal amount of salt. You can set it in a colander to drain or just lay it out on a dish towel. Wait for 10 minutes or so, then press it with a dish towel to dry.

Heat a fair amount of olive oil in a large saute pan or skillet. Add the shallot and sauté until translucent. Add the squash and sauté until slightly browned (the shallot should be on its way to caramelized).

Top with parmesan.

Filed under summer squash zucchini smitten kitchen

7 notes

Grilled Bread Salad
I started making this based on a recipe in the Bon Appetit grilling issue. It’s very good. I enjoy grilling bread quite a bit, as it turns out. I never worry if it’s under-cooked.
I make this when we’re grilling other things, by the way. When we fire up the grill, I feel a certain compulsion to throw things on it until the coals have died out. If that means we eat grilled salad, so be it.
You grill the bread, peppers, and onions, so you want to cut those up into large enough pieces that they don’t fall through the grates. If I make a small salad for the two of us, I use one pepper and one onion.
Grilled Bread Salad
1 - 2 red peppers, cut into large chunks
1 - 2 red onions, cut into quarters (leaving stem end intact)
A number of slices of bread, crusts removed (no need to be fussy about this, it’s not a big deal), can be sliced thick. You want to use a country-style bread here, not sandwich bread.
A cucumber, halved and sliced (optional)
A tomato or two, cut up (optional)
Olive oil and red wine vinegar
Bit of paprika
Salt and pepper
Toss the cut up peppers, onions, and bread slices with a fairly significant amount of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill them, turning regularly, until soft and a little bit charred. I put the bread in the slightly cooler spots on the grill and the vegetables in the hotter spots. It takes a fair amount of time for the onions and peppers to cook. Maybe 10 - 12 minutes?
Cut up the grilled vegetables, tear the bread into chunks, and mix together with the cucumbers and tomatoes. Toss with a little bit of olive oil and some red wine vinegar.
I’m always looking for good opportunities for bread and oil, so I’m pleased to be able to incorporate these into an otherwise healthy salad.

Grilled Bread Salad

I started making this based on a recipe in the Bon Appetit grilling issue. It’s very good. I enjoy grilling bread quite a bit, as it turns out. I never worry if it’s under-cooked.

I make this when we’re grilling other things, by the way. When we fire up the grill, I feel a certain compulsion to throw things on it until the coals have died out. If that means we eat grilled salad, so be it.

You grill the bread, peppers, and onions, so you want to cut those up into large enough pieces that they don’t fall through the grates. If I make a small salad for the two of us, I use one pepper and one onion.

Grilled Bread Salad

  • 1 - 2 red peppers, cut into large chunks
  • 1 - 2 red onions, cut into quarters (leaving stem end intact)
  • A number of slices of bread, crusts removed (no need to be fussy about this, it’s not a big deal), can be sliced thick. You want to use a country-style bread here, not sandwich bread.
  • A cucumber, halved and sliced (optional)
  • A tomato or two, cut up (optional)
  • Olive oil and red wine vinegar
  • Bit of paprika
  • Salt and pepper

Toss the cut up peppers, onions, and bread slices with a fairly significant amount of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill them, turning regularly, until soft and a little bit charred. I put the bread in the slightly cooler spots on the grill and the vegetables in the hotter spots. It takes a fair amount of time for the onions and peppers to cook. Maybe 10 - 12 minutes?

Cut up the grilled vegetables, tear the bread into chunks, and mix together with the cucumbers and tomatoes. Toss with a little bit of olive oil and some red wine vinegar.

I’m always looking for good opportunities for bread and oil, so I’m pleased to be able to incorporate these into an otherwise healthy salad.

Filed under the grilling edition bread

8 notes

We took most of the day off yesterday and went to Eventide for lunch. Here is the aforementioned cole slaw. Not pictured: fried chicken bun, sparkling rose, biscuits, fried battered hake, long conversation about what we were doing with ourselves before we had kids and why it wasn’t this, all the time.

We were also next to a small family with a dad with a GIANT camera who spent much of the meal art directing his food and family (including running outside to get a photo of them through the front window).

We took most of the day off yesterday and went to Eventide for lunch. Here is the aforementioned cole slaw. Not pictured: fried chicken bun, sparkling rose, biscuits, fried battered hake, long conversation about what we were doing with ourselves before we had kids and why it wasn’t this, all the time.

We were also next to a small family with a dad with a GIANT camera who spent much of the meal art directing his food and family (including running outside to get a photo of them through the front window).

Filed under portland maine eventide day drinking summer water

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I don’t quite know how to explain this to people who haven’t been fat for their whole lives, but there’s a very subtle (and very profound) sense of exclusion from “clean eating” lifestyle brands like Gwyneth’s. Fat people are not allowed to eat “beautiful” foods that make them feel healthy and strong, because taking joy in meals is for thin people. When fat people do it, it’s a vulgarity, an indecent exposure, a slow public suicide.

There’s a pretty great essay by Lindy West on Jezebel about Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook. I was expecting it to be all “Gwyneth Paltrow is ridiculous” and it was, a little bit. But there was also this incredible section toward the end about “clean eating” and fatness.* Now, I HATE the term “clean eating”** but the author goes on to describe how great it was to “actually engage with what I was eating. To try on, for just a week, what it might feel like to not be at war with my body, to not have to pretend to hate the thing that keeps me alive.”

That is the way I want us all to eat. I want us all to engage with what we’re eating. To know how to cook, and feel empowered to cook, and take pleasure in the things we make and eat. That’s what I want in my own life, and what I want for my son, and what I want for you guys as readers of my tumblr.

And despite writing this tumblr for nearly four years (I cannot believe it), I very rarely consider the extent to which that is off limits for people who are overweight.

That sucks.

* I am fairly uncomfortable with the using “fat” to describe a person or people, but I also want to use and respect the language the author has chosen describe herself.

** Not just the term, I hate the idea that there is “clean food” and “dirty food.” I don’t think it’s appropriate or helpful to spackle that veneer of morality over what we eat.

Filed under lindy west gwyneth paltrow clean eating privilege

10 notes

Apples and Tahini
A friend recently made fun of a food blog recipe post that was basically just dipping carrots in peanut butter. I laughed, what is that, that’s not a recipe, and then realized that I planned to tell you all about dipping apples in tahini.
You can dip apples in tahini and it’s really good! I mix the tahini with honey. I guess you could skip the honey if that’s the way you roll. It ain’t the way I roll.
This is particularly nice for those of us who are having a hard time adapting to a nut-free lifestyle (my apologies for the gazillion my-kid-has-food-allergies posts a few months back. It was a hard adjustment.)

Apples and Tahini

A friend recently made fun of a food blog recipe post that was basically just dipping carrots in peanut butter. I laughed, what is that, that’s not a recipe, and then realized that I planned to tell you all about dipping apples in tahini.

You can dip apples in tahini and it’s really good! I mix the tahini with honey. I guess you could skip the honey if that’s the way you roll. It ain’t the way I roll.

This is particularly nice for those of us who are having a hard time adapting to a nut-free lifestyle (my apologies for the gazillion my-kid-has-food-allergies posts a few months back. It was a hard adjustment.)

Filed under setting expectations low as a food blogger since 2010 tahini

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Salvage BBQ

It seems like Salvage BBQ has been around forever, but I realized it hasn’t when I saw that they had won “Best New Restaurant 2014" from the Portland Phoenix.*

We got done with Bear’s pediatrician appointment late in the afternoon the other day, and headed over for an early dinner. It’s a great place to go with a kid. It’s fairly kid-friendly, but isn’t specifically designed for kids and the food is good, so you as a parent don’t feel like you’ve just completely given up and are now eating dinner in a glorified Chuck-E-Cheese.

The space is gigantic, bright, and fairly open, so well-suited to letting your late-afternoon post-pediatrician toddler run amok. You can watch buses driving along Congress St. through the big windows that line the place, which also suits our current interests. And it’s casual enough that you’re not ruining anyone’s fine dining experience or feeling awkward about getting up and walking around while you wait for your food. A small crowd was there to watch the Netherlands/Argentina World Cup game, providing a helpful distraction to any toddler business.

They also have high chairs. Having Bear eat dinner sitting free range on my lap is a recipe for leaving dinner hungry with ruined pants.

We ordered the Cow & Pig: half a pound of brisket, half a pound of pulled pork, along with two sides. And then we ordered two more sides. Dave had a typical panic that we had not ordered enough food, but it was perfect. I know the brisket is supposed to be the standout dish, but I particularly liked the pulled pork, which was tender with a nice smattering of crispy bits, and delightful with the barbeque sauce.

While the meat is good,** I think Salvage shines most with the sides. As Kate pointed out, the mac and cheese is really, really excellent (“I want to swim in it, Scrooge McDuck-style,” which was sadly NOT the quote they decided to print on their menu) and I order it every time. We also picked up the aforementioned corn bread, cole slaw, and hush puppies. The hush puppies are fried cornmeal and jalapeño fritters with a sweet sauce. I made the mistake once of discouraging a group from ordering a large side of hush puppies, and everyone was nice about it, but vaguely unhappy that they didn’t get more hush puppies. They’re just the right amount of spicy. The cole slaw isn’t the glory that is the Eventide slaw (if there is any tangible personal gain to come from this blog, I would like it to be the Eventide slaw recipe. I would really, really like the recipe for that slaw), but it is nicely crunchy and well balanced and fantastic on the pulled pork sandwich. I believe the corn bread is very good, but honestly I had maybe two bites before Bear hoovered it up. He panicked at one point because even though his mouth was so full of cornbread he could barely keep it closed, he could see that there was more cornbread out of reach and made a high pitched whimper until he also had cornbread clutched in each hand.***

I do wish the side of cornbread was bigger, or that I remembered to order more.

Anyway, we had a really nice dinner, and I’m happy for this addition to the restaurant scene.

* I like Salvage, but the best new Portland restaurant of 2014 is Lolita, no question. Of course, Gilbert’s Chowder House won for Best Chowder which throws doubt on the whole enterprise.

** It’s Maine BBQ good. Which is good, and I enjoy it and am glad for it. But it’s not like, Texas BBQ good, or Georgia BBQ good.

*** Re-reading this, I’m struck by how much panic there is over getting enough food here. It’s not like we’re all on starvation diets. No one has been kept from food. There is always plenty to eat. I do not understand.

Filed under salvage bbq portland maine restaurants