Just When I Think I Got It

>> Thursday, October 21, 2010

I don't.

Ms. Ambitious (that's me) made not one but TWO lunches today. One for me, and one for my much loved assistant. Who called in sick. Figures. Oh. Did I mention the lunches were actually frozen? Yeah. I hope my husband doesn't read this. I don't think I can live with the gloating from Mr. Letsbuyanewfridge. Not sure which is worse - him being right or me being wrong. Whatever. Bygones.


Mmmmmmmm, ham. Salty fatty oh so good goodness. If you're ever near South Mountain and have a burning desire for a ten dollar ham sandwich you gotta go to the Farm. It's so sweet it'll make your teeth hurt. The Farm I mean, not the sandwich. The sandwich itself isn't sweet.

Know what else is sweet? Free salad. Want one?


Salad for Me and Salad for You - Cake for Me and None for You

>> Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A couple of weeks ago I got an offer that I just couldn't refuse. Free salad. The only catch was that I had to eat it. And blog about it. Since I'm pretty damn good at one of those things and pretty, well, let's just say I do both of them. One more than the other. Anyway, I jumped at the chance. Imagine my disappointment when I did not in fact receive free salad delivered right to my door but instead a regular ol' envelope stuffed with salad coupons. Yeah, sad face. Then of course I promptly forgot about it 'cause that's how I am.

Tonight I was driving home from work repeating my mantra for the day dontforgettostopatwalgreensdontforgettostopatwalgreensdontforgetto hey I wonder what I did with those salad coupons? And the rest was, or is? history.

Here's what I did. I got a bag of the Veggie Lover (iceberg, romaine, carrots, pea pods, red cabbage and radishes) variety of salad and a rotisserie chicken. And some strawberries but that has nothing to do with this and everything to do with cake. Normally I avoid anything labeled "veggie" so I guess I wasn't paying attention when I grabbed it off the shelf but it all worked out in the end. I made some spring rolls with the salad, chicken, rice noodles and some mint because spring rolls must contain mint. It is written. Somewhere. Or just here. Anyway, here's what it looked like.

I love making these because it's a good vehicle for getting peanut sauce to your mouth but if you use a nice bold vinaigrette on your greens it'll even taste good without it. Not AS good of course, but good enough. Want a recipe? This is what I used to dress the lettuce tonight, and it was good enough to write down for next time.

Ginger Lime Vinaigrette

1 teaspoon of ginger from a jar (gingar?)
1 teaspoon each fish sauce, sugar and rice wine vinegar
3 teaspoons lime juice
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
pinch of salt
1/2 of a serrano pepper sliced super super thin

Dump it all in something with a lid and shake like mad. Done.

Here's a tip. If you want to make extra for your lunchbox tomorrow, and I know you do, wrap each roll in a damp paper towel and then seal them up in a zip bag and they'll keep very nicely in the fridge for a couple days. If you put them directly into plastic the rice paper will stick and rip and you will be mad and angry.

Also, Emma made us a cake!

If you'd like Emma to come to your house and make you a cake, I'm sorry, that won't happen.

But! if you act now! you could win your own FREE salad!

Please be aware that you will not receive an actual real salad delivered to your door. That would be silly. Just leave a comment with the word VEGGIE between now and Saturday night and I'll pick 5 extremely lucky people and mail them a coupon for a free salad.

Disclosure: As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received Fresh Express salad for me and for you.


Ghetto Lunch

>> Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I made these lentils last night, and they just didn't turn out the way I expected. So this morning I was in a hurry and kind of irritated that I had made a Food Network recipe -again- that just didn't work and just not in the mood to waste any love on this crappy lunch.

Behold! The Ghetto Lunch

Inside the exclusive new WHITE Walmart bag I packed

1. Ikea container with leftover lentils
2. small bowl of yogurt with roasted chili, cleverly covered with cling wrap
3. Fresh & Easy garlic naan straight from the bag
4. a bowl

Three minutes in the microwave and this is what I had.

Guess what? You know how sometimes things taste better the next day? Well this is one of them. Only not like just a little, it was way better. Better enough that I might even make it again.

Mum's Everyday Red Lentils

Recipe courtesy Aarti Sequeira, 2010

Lentils (Dal):

* 1 cup masoor dal red lentils, picked through for stones
* 2 cups water
* 1 onion, diced
* 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
* 1 (1/2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and minced
* 2 medium tomatoes, diced
* 1 serrano chile, sliced in 1/2, optional

Tempering oil (bagaar):

* 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
* 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
* Generous 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
* 1/2 teaspoon paprika or bafaat powder
* 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
* Handful chopped fresh cilantro leaves


Put the lentils in a strainer and rinse them under running water. Add them to a bowl, cover with water and let soak for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups of water, the onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, chile, if using, and the lentils. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Skim any scum from the surface. DO NOT ADD SALT YET; it will toughen the lentils, thereby lengthening their cooking time. Lower the heat, cover the pot with a lid and gently simmer until the lentils are tender, almost translucent, and almost falling apart, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Whisk the lentils, releasing its natural starch, and mash some them so the mixture becomes thick. Add salt, to taste.

Tempering oil (bagaar): In a small bowl, combine the cumin and mustard seeds. In another bowl, combine the spice powders. Have all the ingredients ready because this will move very fast!

In a small skillet, over a medium-high flame, warm 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add seeds and immediately cover so you don't get covered in spluttering oil and seeds! Add the spices. They should sizzle and bubble a little - that's the blooming and it's exactly what you want. Don't let them burn. The mixture should bloom for about 30 seconds, no more.

Pour the oil mixture into the lentils, standing back so you don't get hurt when the mixture splutters again. Stir to combine. Transfer the lentils to a serving dish and garnish with cilantro.

I followed it pretty closely except I doubled the quantities, optimistic I know. Also I cooked the onions first until soft and brown, then added the garlic and ginger and then when the garlic was soft added the tomato and lentils. Also I used ghee instead of vegetable oil. Oh, I also added about 1/4 teaspoon of super hot cayenne powder to the spice mix at the end to up the heat a bit. And a little garam masala at the end. What the heck is bafaat powder anyway? I asked Twitter and was ignored. I wish I had more Twitter friends. Will you be my Twitter friend?

OMG. I've just realized I'm one of those people that complain about how dreadful a recipe is and then reveal that they substituted hot dogs for walnuts and agave syrup for the sugar and halved the butter and added some vinegar but just can't understand what went wrong and why the cookies just didn't turn out the way they should have AND one of those people that beg other people to be their friend AND one of those people that write really long run-on sentences. I pretty much hate me right now.


An Exception for Every Rule

>> Monday, October 4, 2010

So what's the rule? If you (meaning me) don't post your lunch on the day that you eat it you don't post it at all. The exception? This post. And probably tomorrow's.

Hey, it's my rule, I can break it if I want!

1. peanut butter sandwich
2. plum jam
3. carrots
4. oreos
5. full fat milk

Looks like a pretty normal lunch, no? A veritable American classic I'd say, if not for that jam on the side business. Let me tell you about that. I -needed- PB&J because I'd already decided on the oreos and milk. Self-explanatory, right? So I started my sandwich and only then discovered that I didn't have an appropriate jelly. There was raspberry which of course can only be eaten on toast, and Seville orange marmalade. Uhm, no. What to do?

I know what to do. Grab a couple of plums off the counter and make your own damn jam, that's what to do. Or you could go to the store. But I didn't, I made jam. Felt like Ma Ingalls making-do during a long cold winter out on the prairie! (Except she probably didn't have plums sitting around. Or sugar.) And best off all it was the most delicious plum jam I've ever had the privilege to smear on bread.

Turns out plum jam is really easy to make, just chop up some fruit and cook it for 1/2 of forever with just enough water to cover and a little sugar to make it sweet until it gets sort of goopy, cool it and eat it. (Feel free to steal this recipe)

See? Look at it? Doesn't it just scream sweet/tart wonderfullness?

Of course the reason I was so dead set on my oreo and milk idea was because I made the oreos. That's right, homemade oreos. None of that nasty cake mix business either! I was inspired by @scatteredmom from Chasing Tomatoes who had been inspired by a recipe found on Smitten Kitchen. I wanted a dark, crisp, thin cookie and the third time was the charm. I was -really- happy with the way these turned out. Want a closer look?

I know right? Here's what I did:

1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup dark chocolate cocoa
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 stick softened salted butter
1 egg

1/2 stick softened salted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 375 F.

Stir the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar together then with an electric mixer add in the butter and the egg and mix until it makes a ball. Gently knead it a few

times until it turns into something resembling black play dough.

My small cookie scoop was too big for these (and don't even try a press - trust me) so I scooped out 1 teaspoon sized scoops, rolled them into balls and arranged them on a paper lined cookie sheet. I covered the sheet with waxed paper and smashed the balls flat with the bottom of a beer a glass then peeled away the paper. I ended up with 3 trays of 15 cookies each not counting attrition by tasting. I baked these on sheet at a time on the center rack for 11 minutes.

To make the filling just beat the butter and shortening together with the vanilla, add the sugar and mix on low until smooth, then beat a couple of minutes until fluffy.

Match up your halves for size and fill with a generous sploodge of filling (I used a pastry bag) then smash it down with the matching half.

Eat with milk!



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