Kitchen action

18 Jun

Good evening, Dear Readers:

I have a few updates on what’s going on in the HeatCageKitchen. Busy week already, but there is lots to share.

The lettuce experiment is now a full-fledged production. I can’t tell you how good it is to come home to nearly ready-made salad that’s fresh and crisp. YUM. Two heads of lettuce last a whole week, sometimes longer. Highly recommended for salad lovers.

This gluten free thing can be hard. I guess it’s because I’m following a doctor’s suggestion that I leave the wheat alone, and I don’t actually get sick from it like a few folks I know do. Someone brought some homemade oatmeal-raisin cookies to the office yesterday. Oh, boy—was that a temptation. But, it’s wheat! I made it, walking right past them all day, and one by one, they disappeared and I wasn’t responsible.

Read Wheat Belly if you don’t believe me. I can, occasionally, be a hypocrite when it comes to the healthy eating, and I’ll admit that. But after reading that book I’m inclined to leave it alone.

I’m also back on my feet after not walking for a few days and feeling better. Every time I pass that lovely cupcake shop New Addictions, I look over to see how they’re doing. They always have at least a few needy souls lining up for a soul-soothing, handmade  cupcake.  I’m glad, since it makes the customers happy as well as the owners and employees.

So I’ve eaten my first two home-grown tomatoes, and of course it was nirvana. Well, what did you expect? I let them ripen a bit too much, so they were slightly soft, but incredibly tasty. If you’ve never had a home grown tomato, make friends with someone who grows tomatoes, and maybe they’ll give you an extra or two. If you haven’t tried to grow your own, well, give it a try, if you have the room and the means.

The remaining third of the three tomatoes is still green, but should be ripening pretty soon. We’ve had some rain this weekend, (and about to get some as I write this) so I expect to pick it in the next week or two. I have five little strawberries in various stages of growth, none of them red. The basil is growing back steadily, as are the green onions and parsley. The pepper plant is doing fine, although I thought I had five peppers, not four; I’m wondering if a hungry bird or possum got it. Nothing from the Meyer lemon tree yet. Maybe I’ll get a couple more paint buckets and try growing something else.

Last week’s pesto operation sort of didn’t end well. This weekend I discovered that somehow, I’d cracked the blender mechanism that sits in the bottom with the sharp blades. I ordered a new one online; should be here in a few days. I discovered it when I actually made some Pea Pesto Soup and not only did the blending sound funny, but some leaked onto the top of the machine. What the heck? I thought I didn’t have the bottom on tightly enough, but upon further examination, it was actual damage to the part. Oh, well. Meantime, no Pea Pesto Soup or anything else until the new part arrives. Unless one of my neighbors has a blender I can borrow. If I need it. Not sure how it happened, but I’m going to be careful using that batch of pesto.

Thank heavens for online ordering. From Cuisinart. Spare parts are easy!

I have a new cookbook, y’all. Yeah, I know–like I needed one, right?

This weekend during my cooking spree, I ended up making two of my favorite Nigella Express recipes, Pollo alla Caccitora and Rib-Sticking stir fry, using beef. I just wanted to use up a couple of things and make some one-pot recipes to make it easy for a week’s worth of lunch. During my weekend errands, I decided to finally get Nigella Lawson’s latest, Nigellissima. (If I keep this up, I’ll need a new bookshelf.) I’ve been wanting to get it for a while, and I saw it in Target and got it, finally. This Italian-inspired book comes from her love of Italian food developed while living in Florence when she was a teenager. It’s like the thing I have for strawberries, except with a passport.

Nigella calls these recipes “Italian inspired,” because they are not authentic Italian recipes like the ones that Giada de Laurentiis’ grandfather brought over to California. (Giada herself admits to adding a “California flair” to her Italian recipes, much to the chagrin of her beloved straight-from-Italy Aunt Raffy.) Living in Italy, Nigella was able to not only speak Italian but learn to cook real Italian food, and has loved it ever since, so she cooks from experience.

Well, c’mon–who doesn’t like lasagne? OK, gluten free folks noted. . . but you get the idea, and there are a number of interpretations of lasagne that can accommodate the wheat-intolerant among us. (Dairy too, if you like that fake-me-out non-dairy vegan cheese stuff.) Antipasto is a great low-carb restaurant meal if you order it as such instead of an appetizer as most folks do.

So what’s good in Nigellissima? Well, there is, of course, a chapter on pasta, but there are also other delish things to eat, like a one-pot meal of Sausages with Beans & Roasted Red Peppers, which uses something new, red vermouth, discussed at length in the introduction. (I hope Spec’s has some.)  In the Vegetables & Sides chapter, there is Cannellini Beans with Rosemary, which I plan to try soon, since I have rosemary growing out back, and Gnocchi au Gratin, taking packaged gnocchi and turning it into something kind of French.

That’s Nigella. She nails it.

Also interesting is the Sicilian Cauliflower Salad. Say what? Yeah, I’ll be all over that one too this weekend. Soon as I get that red vermouth stuff. . . .

The biggest surprise is a delicioso thing in the Sweet Things chapter: the Chocolate Olive Oil Cake on page 186. No kidding. I’ve wanted to try it since I saw it some months ago, and I’ll try to make one this week. Nigella created the cake for a friend who was coming to dinner and absolutely could not have dairy or flour. Almond flour, olive oil, 3 eggs, and a few other everyday ingredients. I plan to use SomerSweet so I can literally have my cake and eat it too. Woo hoo!

On page 260 is something called Eggs in Purgatory, or what to eat when you’re feeling like hell. Wish I’d had this recipe a year or so ago! Makes me want to stop at Kitchen Collection and get some of those smaller cast-iron pans I saw a while back. And make a loaf of Stout Bread just so I can try this recipe. If I do, maybe I’ll freeze some. Eggs, canned  tomatoes, Parm cheese, and a couple of other things come together in a pan for soothing succor.  I generally have all the ingredients on hand, except gluten-free (or any other) bread. I’ll let you know.

No, Nigella is not the only celebrity cookbook author in the world. I just happened to get her newest beautiful cookbook this weekend. And make more of her recipes.

Oh, and the only picture of Nigella herself is on the cover. The rest of the pictures are all of the food.

What I do appreciate about celebrity chefs now is that there is a variety of cooking styles to chose from, and much more to cooking that there used to be. Then again, the best things about the Food Network is that a) it’s one of the few clean channels on TV and b) the celebrities in food are known for their talent and skill, not because they are proud of their unsavory behavior.

Anyway. . . .

It’s a week night, and I’m tired. I’ll let you know what happens with the cake, as well as other adventures in the HeatCageKitchen. Especially if there’s an injury involved.

Bueno appetitto!


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