Monday, January 7, 2008

Fancy schmancy.

How's about we look what I made for dinner the other night:

I had an eggplant that I wanted to use, and I had bought a lovely piece of Alaskan cod earlier in the day, so what to do?

My approach to daily cooking is a simple one- look at what is in the fridge and make something with whatever is on hand. This approach can have wonderful results- "Behold! Harissa-simmered lamb on goat cheese mashed potatoes with wine-braised greens!"
But, it can also be hit or miss- "Behold! microwaved veggie burgers on a bed of toasted toast with sweet tomato puree and a side of leDoritos!" Bon appetit!

Rarely do I follow recipes (the book in the picture below is my favorite vegetarian cookbook that I reference for ideas/combinations of ingredients/reminders of what goes into certain things that I may have forgotten, and its delicious pancake recipes). I am more of an abstract artist when it comes to cooking. Think more Jackson Pollack, less Rembrandt.

I wanted to go more Mediterranean with this meal as we had just eaten spicy Thai take-out the previous night. I love the super-spicy Thai, but my "delicate constitution" needs a day off from the heat to avoid the condition that goes by the unfortunate name of "spicy butthole".

I decided on Steamed cod on tomato quinoa with caponata and pesto drizzle.
Fancy. Pants.

The beginnings of caponata:

You want to put something pickley/briney in caponata, to give it a little "bite". I didn't have capers on hand, but I did have my all-time favorite olives in the whole universe- sundried tomato-stuffed olives in garlic oil- so I just chopped a few up and threw them in. A few may have accidentally fallen into my mouth as well.

Once the onions, garlic & eggplant have cooked for a bit, I added some chopped tomatoes (canned) red pepper flakes, chopped sundried tomatoes, some dried herbs, salt & pepper and a healthy splash of white wine (again, some may or may not have accidentally fallen into my mouth.)

At this point I covered it and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. It will be thick, but still chunky when done. Check the seasoning & set it aside, covered, to stay warm.

Where the magic happens. When we bought our house, there were no appliances whatsoever in the kitchen. The kitchen has a 40's/50's vibe to it, so we got this 1950 range from an ad in the paper for $25. The family we bought it from had it at their lake home, which they rarely used. So basically, we got a super-cool, essentially brand-new vintage range for almost nothing. I would prefer a gas range, but we only have an electric hookup for the time being. I've gotten used to electric cooking, and I have to say that the burners on this range get hotter than any of the non-professional ranges on the market today. And the oven is awesome- even heat, quick warmup, no "hot spots". Plus it has a big storage drawer on the bottom and another on the left side. All of my pans fit in there, which is saying a lot.
I love my range. She sure is cute.

I sometimes like to have a balsamic vinegar/extra virgin olive oil mix to dip bread in.
I love how it looks- all swirly and psychedelic.

The finished product:
It was delicious.
How about you? Eat anything worth noting this weekend? Eat anything you should be embarrassed by? Do. Share.


Sean said...

So did you season the cod with anything special? Inquiring minds want to know. Thanks and looks good!

Disco and Dexter - Friends at Best said...

Mmm I love experimenting with cooking. I don't have as refined taste, but I do love concocting new flavors and tastes in my kitchen - all depending on what I find in my fridge!

Looks delicious!

Chiada said...

Both of my meals this weekend were cooked by my dad.

On Saturday he bar-b-q'd tri tips and we had those with home made salsa, a salad, poquito (pinquito?) beans, and french bread buttered with garlic and sprinkled with parmesan.

On Sunday we had linguine with dad's home made sauce.

He has been making both the salsa and the spaghetti sauce for 30 years now, and they are the bomb. His salsa has tomatoes, onions, habanero pepper, green chiles, cilantro, and salt, pepper, and garlic. His sauce has a lot of stuff, but one of the key ingredients is italian sausage. Yummmmmm!

Hub-E is like you when he cooks: he doesn't use cookbooks and never knows what he is going to come up with; it all depends on what's in the fridge or freezer at the time. I, on the other hand, am more of a recipe follower and must go shopping for ingredients that are on a list.

Candy said...

I stand in awe of anyone who can just open their refrigerator and cook stuff. I have to have a recipe. With a recipe in hand, I am the best cook I know, but I can't just make shit up like that. You rock.

Whiskeymarie said...

sean- nothig but good ol' salt & peppa. It was so fresh & lovely that I wanted to just keep it simple. Plus there was a lot of flavor going on with all of the other components.

chiada- Your dad sounds like my kind of guy.

n- It ain't always this fancy. Trust me.

Whiskeymarie said...

candy- I kind of think of myself as the MacGuyver of cooking. Give me a potato, a twinkie and a jar of pickles and I'll come up with something interesting.

Suze said...

I ate a Big Mac and Fries from McDonalds. After viewing your meal, I just feel cheap. Sigh.

CDP said...

That looks delicious.
On the good side, I ate a homemade mexican chicken stew with fresh cilantro and sour cream at my neighbor's house on Saturday. With homemade cornbread. With butter. Mmmm. Sister can COOK.
On the bad side, at the same neighbor's house, we ate an entire bag of those "hint of lime" Tostitos, whose active ingredient is surely crack.

McGone said...

Seriously, these food posts of yours are perfectly timed for my lunch break. This is such an uphill battle for Subway.

Gwen said...

Friday night LM and I had Bo Fung, the best Chinese take-out in town. And I defrosted a roasting chicken on Saturday so I have to get her butt in the oven TODAY or lose her.

Gretta said...

I can make the balsamic vinegar/olive oil dish.

LaLa said...

Not sure which looks more appealing - your meal or your range! I made butternut squash soup this weekend - spicy not sweet. Mmmm. Oh, and brownies.

L Sass said...

Delicious!! I wish that I could be an abstract artist type cook, but alas, I am more the obsessively-follow-the-recipe type!

Stacey said...

You said "Spicy Butthole"

It was at that point that I commenced laughing...a lot and forgot if I ate anything interesting...

(BTW,Hubby uses that very same phrase and it's just damn funny)

Fran said...

Wow. Wow. Me so hungry now.

Last night I made a pasta dish that my husband loved... baked rigatoni with sausage, sauce and ricotta. But your meal.


The MacGyver approach. Funny!

Christa said...

i think i'm a more pollack cooker, too. but in that way where a kindergartner splashes something onto paper and everyone oohs and ahhs and says what great vision -- a future pollack! -- the little idiot has. it works out 66 percent of the time.

i made a vegetarian lasagna in the crock pot this weekend. it was pretty freaking good.

Whiskeymarie said...

suze- I eat crap too, you cheap hussy. Oh, I guess that means I'm a cheap hussy too. Oh well.

cdp- those lime chips are pure evil. And yes, if you read the fine print you'll see that crack is used as a flavoring agent. Mmmm...crack.

McGone- I'd say that I was sorry, but you and I know I'm gonna just end up doing it again.

tg- Put it on a fancy plate and everyone will think you're the second coming of Nigella freaking Lawson. Seriously.

gwen- the only thing funnier than the name "Bo Fung" would be "Fo Bung". I slay me.

lala- I make spicy butternut soup too- I love the spicy/sweet combo.

lsass- does it help to know that all of my "abstract endeavors" aren't always fabulous? There have been one or two stinkers in there.

WM- Spicy butthole, spicy butthole, spicy butthole...
Yes, I'm a 12 year-old boy.

fran- I love a nice baked pasta every once in a while- especially on cold, blustery days.

c- This crock pot lasagna intrigues me. Hmm.

dguzman said...

I'm not organized enough to have/follow recipes, so I always cook like this--just whatever's in there and needs to get cooked or it'll rot. As a veggie, this is a critical deciding factor in our meals. But there are plenty of days when it's "look, I added a bunch of fresh veggies to a frozen pizza! Voila!" Top that off with some wine, and no one complains!

Boxer rebel said...

I made calamari on Sunday for the first time ever and it was yummy. Other that not such an exciting food weekend.

But this looks really good.

Ghost Dansing said...

i really like your stove. i can see why you'd like natural gas. but i'd be afraid to end up like bunny.

Lollie said...

Lessee...Saturday night, Chinese take out, Sunday night, tacos, Monday lunch, taco leftovers, and if I can actually peel myself off the couch and stop blogging, there are mushroom soup smothered pork chops, kale and rice pilaf calling like sirens from the kitchen.

I think I just made myself hungry enough to motivate.

Whiskeymarie said...

dguzman- I do the pizza thing all of the time. Wine makes even the crappiest meal better.

boxer- I wish I liked calamari, but I don't. The Mr. loves it. Too bad he'll never ever get it at home. Ever.

ghost- That natural gas ad was the funniest freaking thing. I loved the song in the background. "natuuuralll gaaaassss"
And the bunnies? so sweet. But sad. I love your links.

lol- kale pilaf sounds fab. Come here and make it for me- I don't feel like cooking. Or make me tacos, I'm not picky.

Anonymous said...

I made a pork roast stuffed with feta cheese, pine nuts, a little green onion and some celery. It turned out ok.

I usually only cook Mac n Cheese. or steak on the grill, so this was well outside my usual depth.

And your fish probably smells delicious. I wish my computer screen had smell-vision.

Lisa said...

That all looks very yummy!

I made some lamb stew with the leftover roast leg of lamb from last weekend. Other than that, we gnawed on leftovers.

Whiskeymarie said...

anon-- good for you for trying new things! I haven't always cooked like this for every day, by the way. before I did this professionally, hamburger helper and rice-a-roni were on my regular rotation.
And my love of mac & chz had been fairly well-documented at this point.

lisa- I'm actually braising a boneless leg of lamb right now, for dinner tomorrow. It's making me crazy how good it smells.

Stefanie said...

Shockingly, I DO have capers on hand!! I probably don't have anything else in your ingredient list, though. I'm an enigma kitchen-wise, I tell you.

LittlePea said...

It looks so good. Now I feel like jackass because I made tacos from a box and I was pret-tee damn pleased with meself. Damn.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

MMMMMMmm. You've got me hungry at 1:30 in the morning. Thanks.

Hybrid Fat-n-Sassy said...

I am only a competent cook, I am what the English used to call a "good, plain cook," capable of turning out a grilled chop but nothing in the Escoffier line. My specialties are the kind of things where you brown flour-dusted red meat in a lake of olive oil, add vegetables and half a bottle of red wine and let it simmer away for a few hours.

My parents and uncle are coming to visit this week and so I am having to provide for a number of diets. My mother is a vegan; my father seems to subsist upon bacon, sweet potatoes, throat lozenges and Mozambican roots that he boils for hours, muttering weird incantations. Uncle Mike is an unfussy eater, but he insists upon meals being served regularly and unstintingly.

I am expected to produce three meals a day (plus happy hour zinfandel and almonds, not to mention after-dinner tea) in strict rotation, each one involving something fried in grease; something swimming in brown sugar sauce; something combining seitan, spelt, wood shavings and pigeon milk; and something that will not make my husband make a face and say "It's interesting."

diatribes and dish said...

I wish I liked eggplant. I've tried and tried, but still, I can't stomach it. Even with breading and marinara. I lead a sad life.

gorillabuns said...

you my dear are very talented. unfortunately, my kids aren't into anything too exciting.

i made salmon croquets, boxed macaroni and cheese and green beans for dinner this past weekend. that's about as crazy as we get around here.

lizgwiz said...

That sauce looks amazing.

I should probably not admit this, but I just ate (for breakfast, at my desk) Campbell's Spaghetti, room temperature, straight from the can.

What can I say? I can't get out of bed early enough in the morning to do any better. ;)

Wide Lawns said...

I am ashamed of what I did. I got a bunch of Swiss Chard in my CSA box and I decided to sautee it as a side dish with dinner and as my husband was outside grilling steaks I took a bite of the swiss chard when it was done cooking and I ate the entire bunch, the WHOLE PAN of Swiss Chard before dinner and before he even got back in the house.

Whiskeymarie said...

stefanie- Capers? I'm impressed!

lil pea- Don't be embarrassed. I was just thinking that kraft mac & chz would be really good right about now.

monkey- sorry. Try having some dry soda crackers and regret- I hear it's very filling.

hybrid- you made me snort a little there. I am anxiously awaiting the results of your "Iron Chef"-like challenge.

d&d- I only like it certain ways, of that helps. The Mr. LOVES it, so I throw him a bone once in a while.

gbuns- Salmon croquettes are pretty fancy schmancy. Those sound good too. make me some. Now, if possible.

liz- Think of this as your guilty food confessional.

snm- That sounds like something I would do, except I would leave like, 2 tablespoons worth in the pan and give that to the Mr. to alleviate my guilt. I would just say something like "Wow! that really shrunk up to nothing in the pan, didn't it?"

Mommy Lisa said...

This weekend I made two giant freaking hams and 30 baked potatoes and setup a baked potato bar for my baby's second birthday. I even fed my husband's ex-wife and her new hubby---pretty progressive I know, I roll like that.

Oh, and some nice shiraz "may" have fallen into my mouth.

T Gretta's Mom said...

Were you trying to make a "happy face" with the oil and vinegar?

Amaya said...

I've been eating a lot of the Freeman Special lately: 3 Cheese Macaroni with a salad and chicken. I just can't get enough of it! Plus it takes 5 minutes.
Question: how did the mister get so lucky? I promise to do the dishes if I can come over for dinner.

Nocturnal said...

*wow*, I am very impressed WM. That looks beyond delish.