Leftovers from these roasted potatoes, fennel, carrots and onions became hash browns for brunch on Sunday.
Just added some green onions and red pepper and browned in butter!
Served with sunny side up eggs and fresh Valencia orange juice squeezed by hand (literally, no juicer of any kind here) by my husband!
Bought the Valencia’s at the farmers market. Hand picked the day before…love it !!!
The past couple of weeks I have been fighting a cold/ allergies (still not certain which), and consequently it has been quiet in the kitchen except for the pot of chicken soup which has seen me through these past days. There is definitely something magical about that homey brew which seems to be the sole source of comfort sometimes when I am sick.
So one evening last week I mustered the energy to attempt to make a dinner with what remained in the fridge. You can always find something to stir-fry , and I did with a package of frozen chicken breast tenders in the freezer, and an assortment of fresh vegetables in the crisper.
With only some soy sauce in the pantry, and some fresh garlic and ginger, that with a bit of my homemade chicken broth would provide the flavoring.
One of the things I do to ensure a velvety texture to the diced chicken pieces is to marinate it with a little cornstarch, and in this case soy sauce. When I have it I use some Mirin or even white wine or dry sherry as a substitute. Add a little salt and pepper if you like.
In a tablespoon of canola oil (in this case), I sautéed some slices of ginger and garlic til fragrant. Then I added the chicken pieces stirring til no longer pink, but not overdone, and set them aside on a plate.
To the hot pan add another bit of oil if necessary, and stir fry all the cut up veggies with a bit of salt and pepper.
When still crisp and brightly colored add back the chicken and combine.
Mix 1 tablespoon corn starch with a little water. Add this to some chicken broth (1/4- 1/3 c) and 1-2 tablespoons soy sauce.
On high heat add the chicken broth mixture to the veggies and chicken and cook until the sauce begins to thicken, and the veggies and chicken are heated through. Do not overcook. Crisp, bright veggies are what you want.
At this point I like to remove everything to the serving dish but the sauce. Continue cooking the sauce til it reduces, thickens more, and almost forms a glaze. Pour over the stir fry, serve with some brown rice and enjoy!
But, as we are still awaiting word of our walk through date for our new home (we are getting closer …so please stay tuned), several weeks ago I began the search for our next rental.
When I noticed some pretty spectacular photos of a studio apartment with availability on one of the vacation rental sites I immediately contacted the owner who arranged for us to see it ASAP. We were totally sold that this was the place for us as we wind down the “home” stretch!
The owner not only offered us the apartment, but graciously is allowing us to stay as long as we need it! We have found the folks here in SLO are as friendly as all the hype promises!
This may be a studio, but it is pretty incredible. It has a state of the art kitchen, complete with granite countertops, fantastic cabinets, high end appliances, and an array of professional cookware and cutlery. It is truly an unexpected delight, especially if one loves to cook!
When my husband questioned not having a separate bedroom I quickly responded, “Look at this kitchen!”
There is also a very comfortable queen plus sofa bed, a leather chair, built in tv and fireplace, beautiful bathroom, a high bistro table for 2, as well as a breakfast bar for 2. And there is a large deck with a lovely view that overlooks the San Luis Obispo Creek!
If we must finish out our days before moving into our home in a studio apartment, I am definitely not complaining!
So after moving in one week ago I found myself in the market the next day shopping to fill the fridge!
Spatchcocking is simply removing the backbone of a whole chicken before marinating and grilling or roasting it. By doing this the chicken cooks much quicker, and is quite crispy and juicy.
I have to admit I was short on the marinating time cause the hour was getting late, but if you have the time to plan ahead I suggest you do it the day before and forget about it til you are ready to cook it.
Nigella Lawson has a simple recipe for a spatchcocked chicken with rosemary and lemon. Here it is, from her book, Forever Summer… It is delicious!
The next morning I awoke early, letting my husband sleep, and went into the kitchen with one thing in mind…pancakes! The last time I made pancakes was months ago sometime before our move.
A couple nights ago was Yom Kippur Eve on the Jewish calendar.
Yom Kippur literally means “Day of Atonement.” It is traditionally a day devoted to repenting and reflecting on one’s sins committed in the past year.
Yom Kippur marks the end of the 10 day period that begins with the Jewish New Year on Rosh Hashanah. It is a time of introspection and a day of fasting.
As a result the dinner the evening before has special significance and the meal usually consists of traditional holiday foods.
We were on the east coast this year during Rosh Hashanah so we were fortunate to have a holiday dinner with our aunt whose home we stayed at that evening before leaving for the wedding a few days later.
It was a lovely dinner and while we were happy and grateful to be among family, the holiday seems very different to us this year.
Having moved to the west coast, but still not settled in our home, and having been back on the east coast again, but not in the home we celebrated the holidays in for the past 25 years, was especially bittersweet.
For me, shopping and cooking for the Jewish holidays has always been an important part of the New Year.
The smells, sights and sounds that occur within those hallowed walls of the kitchen are part of me…from growing up watching my dear mother in her kitchen (my mom is always so close to my heart, but even more so at this time of the year), and then from a lifetime of preparing meals for the holidays in my own kitchen in our various homes.
So now that we were back in SLO for Yom Kippur, and challenging as my current kitchen is for preparing a holiday meal, I couldn’t wait to begin.
It was just a Yom Kippur Eve Dinner for Two, but as I was cooking that afternoon, all the holiday smells, sights and sounds that I remember were in full force, and as I prepared recipes from my mother, and my husband’s grandmother I felt the warmth and love that is tradition.
With the limited kitchen equipment in mind I chose the following menu:
Bottle of Chardonnay (complements of the owner of our rental, which we found in our fridge upon our return from our trip)
Freshly baked challah (not by me, and thanks to my husband for finding one) drizzled with honey symbolic of our wish for a sweet year ahead
Store-bought gefilte fish with crudités
(Memories of my grandmother’s homemade gefilte fish… watching her chop the fish in her wooden bowl)
Roast turkey breast for me (leftovers for sandwiches for the week) and 2 turkey drumsticks for my husband
Mom’s Apple Noodle Kugel (instead of the regular egg noodles I substituted a package of TJ’s pappardelle egg noodles that I already had, and they worked perfectly)
Baby Carrots in a Buttery Brown Sugar Glaze
Mom Min’s Farfel with Mushrooms and Onions (recipe below)
Jelled Cranberry Sauce
And for dessert…
A variation of my Mom’s Passover Lemon Sponge Cake served with nectarine slices
Mom Min’s Farfel with Mushrooms and Onions (my version of what we remember)
One 12 ounce package of Manischewitz Barley Shaped Egg Noodles
8 ounces fresh white button mushrooms, chopped
Half of a large sweet onion, diced
2- 3 tablespoons salted butter
About 2 cups chicken broth
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Cook Farfel according to package directions, not more than 8 minutes.
In a medium skillet sauté diced onions in the butter till translucent.
Add the chopped mushrooms, and cook til browned a bit.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add chicken broth and stir well.
Add the mushroom and onion mixture to the drained Farfel.
Cover and keep warm on top of the stove or put in a buttered covered casserole in a 325 degree oven to keep warm.
When ready to serve add some gravy and stir to combine.
A few notes about the Lemon Sponge Cake…
Since I didn’t have a tube pan here, but did have a layer cake pan that is what I used.
I also used flour instead of the potato starch I prefer.
Both of those changes produced a more dense cake than the lighter version baked in a 10 inch tube pan, but truly delicious nonetheless.
Without an electric mixer here I had to whip the egg whites, which are the only leavening agent in this batter,with a wire whisk.
When I first came home from shopping I had to look around to see if there even was a whisk here. There was, but far from a professional one so I knew I would have to be careful not to break it.
With all the desserts I have made over the years I had never whisked egg whites by hand… with the Kitchen Aid within easy reach, why would I?
All I can say is I have a new respect for chefs who seemingly can easily whip that gelatinous mixture into stiff peaks before your very eyes.
Those who know me know I will persevere when the going gets tough, and though my arms were telling me to stop I refused to quit until those snow white peaks surfaced.
And finally they did! And I was never so proud! And I did it with the handicap of a flimsy whisk and a plastic bowl!
So I pulled together a wonderful holiday meal for us, and at the same time was able to master a new culinary skill!
Happy and Healthy New Year to all!
Right now, we’re back east to attend my cousin’s son’s wedding in Pennsylvania.
Incredibly, we have been in San Luis Obispo for just about 2 months now. We have gone from living a month in the hotel to a month in the apartment we are now renting. The owner of our rental has graciously given us the option of storing our extra stuff for the week we will be gone, allowing him to rent it out, and saving us the week’s rental fee.
You may be wondering WHEN we will be moving into our house. So. Are. We. Although it is progressing every day, and looking more each day like the beautiful home we had envisioned, much remains to be done before we will be closing and moving in. Will keep you posted on that one.
Each time we go to check it out (about once a week) we get more and more excited as we watch what was once blueprints, photos and computer generated videos come to life. Most recently my kitchen pendant lights were hung over the island! We agonized over that decision, but, they look as great as I had hoped and imagined, bringing my new kitchen one step closer to a reality.
In the meantime we had to exit the apartment which means not only packing up and storing our belongings, packing what we need for the trip, but also cleaning out the fridge and pantry. Totally.
With this in mind, I have ceased shopping this past week and began the process of trying to make meals out of what is still here. Which wasn’t that much.
This no small fete led to a meal of my favorite Stuffed Peppers the other evening.
With a can of tomatoes, two green peppers, some snack packs of raisins, one lemon, half an onion, some ground chuck, and one bag of brown rice in the larder this wintry dish made perfect sense to me, even if it was a fairly warm day in August!
Feeling like a contestant on “Chopped” I decided to throw in the remainder of a bag of dried apples to sweeten the sauce. Turns out we really liked the additional sweetness they provided. Who knew?
In the last couple of days with what remained in the pantry and fridge I made some pizzas, using up leftover crushed tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, dried oregano, salt and pepper to make the sauce.
A couple of almost stale whole wheat pitas toasted up nicely in the oven, and topped with that quick sauce and a meager bit of mozzarella cheese hanging around…pizza!
My husband couldn’t have been happier when he saw me coming out of the kitchen with a tray of pizzas to snack on! Oh, and mine even had calamata olives on it!
So for dinner the other night I was really getting down to the bottom of the barrel.
Here’s a riddle for you…what can you make with some lettuce, 2 very ripe tomatoes, a can of tuna, 3 leftover roasted small potatoes, a couple of pieces of green pepper, 3 green onions, a bit of celery, hard boiled eggs, a few calamata olives and some home made vinaigrette dressing?
Why, a salade nicoise, of course! Bon Appetite!
It has been a couple of weeks now that I have had a kitchen in which to putter around.
With so many wonderful restaurants and cafes nearby we definitely still do our share of eating out, but it is nice to be able to eat in when we want to.
Although the kitchenette is tiny and equipped with the very basics it is still possible to produce delicious meals using a few simple ingredients and techniques.
It always amazes me how much we can do without when necessary.
It is a challenge I have been up to!
At the same time I’ve struggled to keep my shopping to a minimum buying ingredients that will lend themselves to several different dishes.
So here are several meals we have enjoyed recently…
Roasted chicken with carrots, celery, and onions like my grandmother made..
Spaghetti with Shrimp Scampi
Pan seared Alaskan salmon with orzo cooked risotto style with onions, thyme, and chicken broth
Grilled Chicken and roasted potatoes with garlic and rosemary, broccolini, and salad
Egg Salad Lunch
Sauteed chicken with garlic, rosemary, thyme, and lemon with brown rice and fresh green beans with olive oil and lemon zest
A few days ago, we awoke to another remarkable day here in San Luis Obispo.
We still haven’t gotten used to the fact that since we arrived back on July 5 we have encountered sun drenched days accented with baby blue skies and gentle breezes daily.
We took a walk from our rental to the site of our soon to be (well maybe not that soon) downtown home.
They are truly making progress, and our excitement increases with each brick we see being laid.
After our daily dose of house gazing we walked back to a small cafe very close to where we now are staying.
It is called Sally Loo’s (wholesome cafe).
For breakfast I chose the Lil Frenchie which was a toasted baguette, house made fig jam, and rosemary brown butter…how cute is that?
With a cappuccino to wash it down the day was off to a great start!
Last Tuesday morning I woke up a happy girl! As you know I have been kvetching (translation for those who need it…incessant complaining), about staying in the hotel for a month without access to a kitchen.
A few weeks ago my frustration led me to search online for a small vacation rental since our house may not be ready for another month and a half. After having no luck I was ecstatic when I came across a charming little apartment (one of two) in a duplex behind a historical bungalow on a lovely residential street close to downtown SLO that was available!
We moved in on Monday! It is small, but more than adequate, tastefully decorated with lovely views, a porch and, most importantly to me, a well equipped efficient little kitchen!
So early Tuesday morning I found myself happily scrambling some eggs for breakfast. This is as good a time as any to share with you how I make my scrambled eggs.
Sometimes the simplest things to cook are least talked about on food blogs. Scrambled eggs fall into this category. Here’s how I make mine.
Start with fresh eggs.
Monday when I ran to the nearest grocery to buy a few things I purchased a dozen Cal Poly eggs.
Cal Poly eggs are produced year round and processed by students at the Cal Poly Poultry Center. They are served at fine restaurants and sold by several grocery stores in San Luis Obispo County.
You will also need…
A good quality nonstick pan ( if not using non stick be sure to heat your pan up sufficiently and then lower it a bit before adding anything to it to prevent sticking)
Salted butter, about a tablespoon for 4 large eggs
Freshly ground black pepper
Break 4 fresh eggs into a bowl, and beat with a fork til blended. Do not overbeat.
Heat an 8 inch non stick pan on moderate heat til hot.
Add a pat of butter to the hot pan and lower heat a bit so butter doesn’t burn.
When the butter sizzles, add your eggs.
Allow eggs to sit before moving around with a spatula.
When the eggs appear to be cooking, season generously with salt and pepper, and gently fold over and toss a bit with a heat proof spatula.
Do not break them up too much or overcook them.
When you think they still look done, but a little wet, turn the burner off.
They will continue to cook on the residual heat.
Serve immediately. Simple, right?
Enjoy! And be grateful for life’s little pleasures…one of which for me is sitting down to a plate of scrambled eggs and a cup of just brewed coffee and gazing out the kitchen window!
A few days ago Dinner at Sheila’s marked its 3rd anniversary, and as impossible as it is for me to believe it, the day slipped by without my realizing it.
As we are approaching a full month here at the hotel in SLO while awaiting the completion of our new home normalcy is a descriptive that is absent from our lives. I am somewhat lost without my kitchen, and now without any kitchen for the past 30 days I’m feeling a bit desperate, but that is all about to change soon. (More about that later).
The other night we went to the Thursday night Farmer’s Market, the weekly event here in San Luis Obispo that is guaranteed to cheer anyone up! My husband and I began with roasted corn on a stick, and moved on to huge grilled tri-tip sandwiches on toasted buns.
As we maneuvered our way through the crowd we sampled the most delicious ruby red sweet strawberries at one of the numerous produce stands. At 3 boxes for $5.00 you know I bought 3! I’m certain we will finish them off before they have a chance to go bad in the hotel room.
To celebrate the completion of my third year of blogging Dinner at Sheila’s, and how much I love being able to share it with you I decided to say it with strawberries!
Thanks to all my readers!