Sunday, January 29, 2012

Smothered pork chops over rice with garden salads

Last week, I bid a fond farewell to my twenties. I knew something big was coming (my husband had been asking "Can I give you your present yet?" multiple times a day), and as there had been all kinds of bugs going around, I became paranoid about getting sick. It happens very rarely as it is; I'd say we each only get colds about every two or three years, but Allan had a terrible cold the first week of this year and was petrified of giving it to me. I took appropriate distance-keeping measures and cultivated the perfect immunity-boosting regimen: a tangerine Emergen-C and a B-vitamin complex in the morning, and a mega sweat-inducing hot yoga class every other day. I developed not even the weensiest sniffle. I was bulletproof.

Test Carrot reveals it is not time to yank them yet.

My birthday finally arrived, and my incomparable husband surprised me with a weekend trip to Napa, culminating in a reservation at the French Laundry. Upon hearing the plans, I wept with joy, gratitude, and love. It was a perfect weekend! First a night at a gorgeous hotel in San Francisco, then breakfast with one of my dearest old friends on Saturday, and a lovely drive to Napa under clear California skies when the forecast had predicted steady rain. The French Laundry was everything I imagined; impeccable service, stunningly beautiful presentations, and of course, maximum deliciousness. Although there were cameras going off at almost every table, I chose not to photograph and blog each dish. I wanted to just be completely present to enjoy it. Needless to say, should you find yourself in a position to dine at the French Laundry, run there, don't walk. As I read in a review about it somewhere, "Once in a lifetime? Not if I can help it."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Chicken pot pie

The other day, I made our favorite ridiculously crazy delicious Zuni cafe roast chicken. We only ate about half, so I stripped the rest and pondered its future. A quick scan of foodgawker for inspiration reminded me of the existence of chicken pot pie. I looove chicken pot pie (who doesn't?), but it's usually so weighed down with butter and cream my wee ladybrain has a hard time justifying the calorie bomb. So, I read a few dozen recipes to get a gist of the canonical ingredients and method, then pared it all down and came up with this.

I wanted to keep it simple: leftover chicken, carrots and peas for vegetation, and thyme for herbage. I went out on a limb by halving the butter in my regular pie crust recipe and honestly, it's perfect this way. It's absolutely still tender and buttery, but the interior is so rich and creamy, you would never guess there's only about a tablespoon of butter in each personal pie and absolutely no cream at all. I jacked up the veggie quantities as well. I don't make "diet" food; I just don't see a reason to eat more not-so-healthy stuff than actually makes food taste good. Fat-free and austere is not delicious at all, but I don't find a quarter cup of butter per serving particularly appealing either. There is a sweet spot, and this pot pie hits it.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Red curry salmon with steamed rice and garlicky bok choy

I'm always looking for new things to do with salmon, because it's so wonderfully healthy (and delicious), and Dog knows I love a curry. This is an easy little weeknight recipe I came up with from a few different sources of inspiration, including this one (and all the comments) from an old Bon Appetit. The curry takes a different form from how I usually prepare it; instead a making big pot of curry and cooking other stuff in it, it's simmered down into a thick sauce and drizzled over the other stuff.

Bok choy is flourishing in my garden right now, along with spinach, lettuces, and about a million beets and carrots I can't wait to pull up. Are they ready? I don't know. It's so excitingly mysterious. Anyway, my bok choy is doing fabulously, and I hope you have some in your garden too.