mains


I had a bit of food blogger serendipity with this dish. You see, many of my best kitchen successes have never made it on to this site, because I have a compulsive need to keep trying new dishes rather than revisit old favorites. A lovely Martha Stewart recipe called (unlovely-ly) “Quinoa-Spinach Bake” fell victim to this Quest for the New. But it was a fantastic dish—a hearty slice of greens and quinoa that didn’t taste nearly as healthy as it was.

Fast forward two years. A “Quinoa and Kale Crustless Quiche” comes across my radar. “Crustless quiche?” I mused. “What could that possibly mean? It sounds delicious!”

Crustless Quiche Bake Casserole Pie Thingy

It is, as it turns out, pretty much the same thing as my beloved-but-never-beblogged quinoa-spinach bake—with more cheese, more eggs, and even more deliciousness than the its sibling. I’m glad now, for your sake, that I never blogged about the earlier dish. Stick with this one.

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Scallops truly are the candy of the sea, and it’s rare that I can pass them up when I see them on a restaurant menu. But I’ve always been hesitant to make them. The first time I tried to sear scallops at home, they emitted a strange milky liquid and ended up steaming more than searing. They were still tasty, but disappointing. I’ve since learned that those scallops must have been “wet” scallops—treated with yummy-sounding sodium tripolyphosphate, which is apparently often the case with supermarket scallops. What you want to get, it seems, are “dry” scallops. (According to Cook’s Illustrated, if you’re not sure what you have, place one scallop on a paper-towel lined plate and microwave for 15 seconds; if it’s, wet, it will release liquid. And then, if you do have wet scallops, soak them in a solution of one quart cold water, 1/4 cup lemon juice, and two tablespoons table salt for 30 minutes.)

Still, disheartened by my first attempt. it took me nearly two years to try again. I’m deeply sorry that I waited so long.

It was difficult to stop eating long enough to take this photo.

Armed with Cook’s Illustrated’s science—and the suggestion of using butter—I finally found the nerve to give it another shot. Way to go, science! And butter! Sea scallops are still frustratingly expensive, but with this technique they make for an insanely quick and fabulous weeknight supper.

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Given my dislike of tomatoes, a recent visitor to my apartment was startled to see two beautiful raw tomatoes sitting on my counter. For a moment, she was delighted at the thought I’d been converted. But I quickly assured her that I still hate them—I just came across a recipe full of things I like (eggplant! chickpeas! pomegranate molasses!) with  a new way to transform them from nasty raw goop into delicious, thoroughly cooked, sauce.

Raw tomatoes nowhere in sight.

Thank you, Martha Rose, Shulman, for this trick: “Rather than peeling, seeding and dicing the tomatoes, I grate them on the large holes of a box grater. This is a technique I learned in Greece; it’s used throughout the Mediterranean. Cut the tomatoes in half, squeeze out the seeds if instructed to do so, and rub the cut side against the grater. Don’t worry: the skin is tough and you won’t scrape your hands. When you feel the holes of the grater against the inside of the tomato skin, you’re done. It goes quickly, and it’s a nifty time-saver.” It means you have to get your hands in some nasty, foul-smelling tomato goop, but it’s worth it.

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I am on the record as being not all that fond of chicken. More often than not, I’ve been known to say, it’s tasteless and sawdusty; there’s almost always something else I’d rather eat. But I’ve been trying to overcome my prejudice, and this Thai-flavored chicken went a long, long, way.

Pay no attention to the black squiggle. (Coming soon: a post about the black squiggle!)

It’s moist and flavorful and altogether fabulous. (My coworkers have been coveting my leftovers.) It doesn’t hurt, I’m sure, that I got to use my brand-new grill, thereby avoiding asphyxiation in the kitchen. I kept seeing the smoke pouring out of the grill and worrying that something was wrong—nope, that just what happens sometimes when you cook things. Thanks to D for trusting that nothing would catch on fire even though I—very evidently—had no idea what I was doing.

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Apologies for my absence, blogfans—I’ve been super-busy. And being busy has meant not cooking and, accordingly, eating out and eating lots of frozen meals, including crappy frozen burritos for lunch.

It finally occurred to me that it was silly to be reheating inadequate frozen burritos when I could make a giant pan of burritos, to my precise specifications (vegetables! whole wheat tortillas! lots of cheese!), in about half an hour. And then reheat those for lunch.

Apologies, Amy's--these are better.

I require lots of vegetables in my burritos, but if you require meat, or rice, or just beans, then have at it. This recipe is endlessly adaptable, and a cinch. These burritos aren’t fine dining, but they’re a whole lot better than the alternative.

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This is, hands-down, the best salmon I have ever made.

How I have managed to make so much mediocre salmon in the past is a question for another day. The only questions today are: (1) do you like salmon? and (2) do you like Indian food? Unless you answer “no” to either of those, you must make this.

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As dedicated readers may recall, I do not like raw tomatoes. (Not-so-dedicated readers: I do not like raw tomatoes.) I dislike them to the extent that I often skip over recipes that call for them. For that reason, I nearly skipped over this one, and I am so thankful that I didn’t. Because while the recipe does indeed call for raw tomatoes, what the recipe has you DO to those tomatoes—first broil and char them, then pulverize them with jalapeno, then simmer them with chipotles and chili powder—transforms them into something that even I’m willing to eat:

Tomatoes, obliterated.

I’ll admit that I did find it quite satisfying to destroy the tomatoes so thoroughly. But even if you feel more fondly towards tomatoes than I do, this is a fabulous, smoky chili that is well worth making.

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