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st. pattyas i mentioned before, i may only be 25% irish but it’s a proud 25%. however, my irish pride tends not to manifest itself in green clothing, green beer, or overdosing on guinness. don’t get me wrong — i love me some guinness, i just don’t think there’s a particular day it’s better to drink it than others. it’s actually similar to my feelings on valentine’s day, when i think about it. but today i actually manifested some of that classic st. patty’s day greenery, in a completely random way.

you see, ever since we got naked, ahem, i mean ever since our juice fast (sorry, couldn’t resist) H & i have really been rethinking our eating habits. neither of us had any trouble physically with the juice fast — we did have dreams about solid food, but that was all mental craving related. i don’t think i was hungry once that weekend. so that started us thinking.

and this past week, we’ve noticed other things about our eating habits. like, how if we eat more later in the day, we have more trouble getting to sleep at night and more trouble digesting in general. and how most of our snacky cravings come between the hours of noon and 3pm. so our resolution was to try and change it up a bit.

for breakfast, if H doesn’t feel like making any, we have the Naked Protein juice — and wow. a small glass of that really does the trick. and ever since, well, today, we’ve resolved to try and eat a big meal in the early afternoon, and only small stuff later in the day.

st. patrick’s day lunch so, to help us get in the habit, i made us lunch today — something i almost never do. sure, i cook weekends, but i tend to make everything so that we can eat it later on, not immediately. upon raiding the fridge for my lunch ingredients, i decided to get creative — even though that tends to backfire more often than not. today, i was feeling optimistic. maybe it was the beer (something i firmly believe in for all weekend afternoons, ethnic holiday or otherwise)…

but, st. patrick was with me! not only were fully half of my ingredients green, but it came out splendidly. i am so proud of this dish, in fact, that i am going to turn it into an official recipe. i just can’t decide what to call it — maybe you all can help me out with that?

so here it is!

st. patrick’s day mealSuzy’s St. Patrick’s Day Lunch
note: the tricky thing about the amounts down there are that i used mostly left-over hunks and bits of stuff. so these are all approximate. if something seems like too much or too little, you’re probably right!
1/3 head broccol-flower (or however you spell that), cut into little florets & bits
1/4 c edamame
peanut oil
1/3 c half and half
1/2 c grated or chopped cheese (i used mostly manchego with a bit of gouda, because it’s what i had, but i think the important part is to use one soft and one hard cheese so that they blend well)
red pepper flakes
1 1/2 c potato wedges

– heat potato wedges in a skillet or pot with a top over medium heat,  coated with just a little bit of oil so that they don’t stick
– sautee edamame until just starting to brown
– add broccol-flower florets and continue sauteeing until florets are heated through
– add edamame & florets to potatoes, cover & reduce heat to low, and continue heating until sauce is done
– sauce: add the half and half to the sautee pan you just used, then add the cheese. stir continuously over medium-low heat until all the cheese is melted
– season with red pepper flakes to taste
– add sauce to potato-veggie mixture. the sauce should be just enough to coat the mixture without much excess
– serve with garlic bread & beer! yummm.

my mother, along with passing along my grandmother’s recipe for devil’s food cake, also passed along her recipe for the most amazing irish soda bread. it’s different from this one, which i found on grouprecipes — my grandmother’s involved sour cream instead of buttermilk, and has a different, much lighter texture. and this one is called irish bannock, not irish soda bread. but this recipe, which is practically vegan (no eggs! can you imagine a bread recipe with no eggs? i say practically because it does call for buttermilk, but i wonder if you can create soy buttermilk the way you can make regular?) and very very simple, has definitely taken its place among my cherished irish recipes. i may only be 25%, but it’s a proud 25%!

irish bannock

this loaf is crusty where it counts and soft where it counts, with a really light subtle flavor but a nice substantial texture. i didn’t even do anything special to it, and it came out perfectly! apparently altitude does not effect bread?

the only glitch was, as usual, in me not exactly following the recipe. it has an exact measurement for buttermilk (1 cup), but it says to “add until dough is soft” or something like that. i just dumped the whole cup in, and ended up with waaaay too sticky dough. which meant that, when i turned it out only my “work surface” (for work surface read: aluminum foil), that i had to keep adding flour until i could knead it properly. but i remember reading somewhere that that’s ok. it might have changed the flavor and texture a bit — i mean, i imagine that throws off all the sugar and baking soda and powder rations — but i still really really like it. as i professed recently and less recently, if H doesn’t make me breakfast than i’m likely to just shove a piece of bread in my mouth before leaving for work. but this way, i’ve got something decent to grab!

p.s. how i make buttermilk: 1 tbs apple cider vinegar to 1 c milk. this is something that was passed along with the devil’s food cake recipe, since my mother thinks its silly to buy a special carton of something you can make that easily at home. because of this, i have no idea how actual buttermilk that you buy in a carton looks, tastes, or bakes — but i’m fine with that.

preface: i’m not sure it counts as stirfry if you don’t have a wok. i don’t have a wok, but i’m going to call it stirfry anyway, because things got stirred while frying and that’s good enough for me.

popover & stirfrythis weekend’s recipes (with one notable exception) were all rousing successes! which is good, because last week was enough to make me want to throw in the towel and go back to frozen food & eating out. there’s nothing worse than lackluster food that you made yourself and then have to eat for an entire week. unless it’s the feeling you have a week later when you see all that uneaten food and can’t bring yourself to do anything with it but send it to a peaceful grave down the garbage disposal. shocking? didn’t you know — from time to time, i do waste food.

but i foresee very little wasted food this week. the chili (which recipe i did alter as far as ingredients, but not at all as far as procedure/technique) is delicious, and i couldn’t be prouder of my impromptu seasonings. the turkey burgers turned out nicely, and the relish is verrrry tasty — i know exactly what i’ll be having for dinner tonight! the tomato dip is yummy, the popovers were delicious and perfectly formed (i resisted opening the oven! three cheers for suzy!), the souvlaki was the perfect sunday munch-lunch, and the stirfy …

my god, the stirfry! not only was it fantastic, but i made it up!

well, mostly. i based it loosely on my rememberance of making the chicken and cabbage udon — whichseasonings was very very good. so i went to the store and got the same seasoning mix, and attempted to do a nice balanced vegetable combination. broccoli is on the pungent/bitter side, so i balanced that with carrots (sweet/bitter). i had some nice cocktail onions (vinegary/sour) so i balanced those with half a red bell pepper. i fried them all up with some peanut oil, soy sauce, a splash of apple cider vinegar and the seasoning mix, cooked me up some udon noodles, and hey presto!

magnifique, if i do say so myself. this one is a keeper — expect to see it on my recipe page/grouprecipes very soon!

soup & muffinthis weekend’s cooking spree turned out a veritable smorgasbord of winter comfort food. not entirely intentionally, i might add. last friday it took me awhile to pick my recipes, mostly because of the disaster area that was one of the previous week’s recipes (for disaster area, read suzy overreaching her culinary ability and her culinary equipment). but that’s another story. this story is about my winter cornucopia of recipes:

the first two (which became three) came from clotilde (but of course). the simple soup recipe looked, well simple. but i think there must be some sort of disconnect between sweet potato sizing in paris and in america. her recipe calls for 4 medium sweet potatoes. i only used three of the smallest sweet potatoes i could find at the store — which were not that small — and i couldn’t even fit anything else but the turnip in the pot. so either parisian sweet potatoes are tiny, or her soup pot is huge. and since soup isn’t exactly something you can do in batches…

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my new hero is named Charlie. he was kind enough to not only name the mystery vegetable, but tell me what it was good for:

It’s fennel. Usually recipes call for the bulbs, but the fronds have a nice anise-y dill flavor.

which leaves me wondering if there is some sort of interpretive produce button at the grocery store, that knew that the fronds have an anise-y flavor and that is why it wrang up as anise? either that or the check-out guy took an overeducated guess. who knows.

which then brings me to the recipe i initially bought said mystery vegetable for. i found it (of course) over at chocolate & zucchini — i’m starting to think i’m going to have to buy clotilde’s cookbook when it comes out, i use her recipe index so much.

the original recipe was Salmon & Leek Quiche. hence the misguided but well-intentioned attempt to buy leeks. it was not to be, but turns out that clotilde’s recipes are not only easy, but suzy-proof! i had some green onions on hand, and so i chopped three of those up with some of the fronds of, ahem, fennel, which i decided was ok by smell (this was before i knew what it was). into the salmon and not-leek quiche it went, and behold!

i didn’t even get a chance to take a picture of it before H, home from work and apparently ravenous, had taken a big chunk of it. the moral of the story? quiche is good, and fennel is not a leek.

anybody have any suggestions as to what i should use that fennel for? they would be most welcome.

salmon & not-leek quiche