Last night, I informed Mr. Onepot that we were about to order Chinese.  Then, out of some poorly defined but quite persistent guilt, I found myself preparing the following:

Polenta+spinach+black bean strata

  • 3 cups water + 1 cup milk
  • 1.25 cup polenta
  • .5 large onion
  • 1 can black beans
  • .5 lb spinach (fresh, in this case, but surely frozen would also do)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • salt, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 380F.
  2. Bring the water and milk to a boil.  (Remember that milk will trick you into thinking it’s nowhere near boiling, and then, in less than a second, puff up to an obscene height and spill all over your stove top.  So, sorry to say, you will have to babysit this just a bit.)
  3. Once it boils, stir in the polenta and salt.  Turn the heat down to low and cook for another 4-5 minutes, stirring only occasionally.  (This you don’t have to babysit!  I’ve never understood why people complain about the intense attention polenta requires.  In the Old Country, we treat it roughly and it turns out just fine.)
  4. While the milk+water are heating up, start sauteing the onion.  Once it’s soft and happy, add the beans along with a touch of their liquid.  Season ever so generously with paprika and cayenne pepper.
  5. After the beans and onions have had, say, 5 minutes to get to know each other, turn the heat off, toss the spinach on top of them, and cover.  The residual heat will cause the spinach to wilt just a touch, making it more manageable.
  6. In an altogether unrelated bowl (oh, this is so not a one-pot dish), beat the egg and combine with the yogurt.
  7. Layer!  First the polenta, then the beany and spinachy mix, and finally the yogurty egg.
  8. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes.

(…In the end, I was so very glad we hadn’t ordered Chinese.)

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We’ll miss you.

We are detoxing between two weekends of incessant festivities.

(But, you know, there’s still room for some almond+fig spread.)


Dear New York Times,

You don’t mind my tinkering with your lovely pancake recipe, right?  We go a long way back, you and I: all the way to my dirt-poor student days when I couldn’t wait to pick up your infant-sized Sunday self from street vendors on Broadway late every Saturday night.  (Oh, how your “Home & Garden” section gave me hope then, by reminding me that someday I, too, may have a kitchen larger than my underwear drawer.)  So, thanks for being a good sport about the liberties I’ve taken with your recipe.  Here goes my interpretation, in which many shortcuts are taken, nothing gets sifted, and hazelnuts make a surprise appearance.

New York Times oatmeal+buttermilk+blueberry pancakes

  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup ground hazelnuts
  • a fistful of frozen blueberries (yes, those farmers’ market lovelies earmarked last summer for a gray December day just like this)
  1. Combine the first four ingredients.
  2. Add the rest.  (I suppose you could sift the flour–but why?)
  3. Wake up the husband to…
  4. Cook the pancakes on a griddle,  1-2 minutes per side.


So you just had a marvelous four-day break and are feeling a bit insulted by the harsh return to reality?  Here, try some of this:

Baked oatmeal with apple + cranberry sauce

  • 1 large apple, peeled and shredded
  • 1.5 cup rolled oats
  • 3 cups water
  • leftover cranberry sauce
  1. Combine the oats, water, and apple in a baking dish and bake on 400F for 20 minutes.
  2. Add the cranberry sauce to the top and bake for another 5 minutes or so.
  3. Serve with honey.

Yes, I suppose you will still have to go out and brave the world.  But you will be going out with something righteous and warm in your tummy, and that helps a little.  (Oh, and coffee?  That helps a lot.)

Three-rice pudding

November 28, 2009

Remember how the witch in “Hansel and Gretel” kept Hansel in a cage and fed and fed and fed him to fatten him up?  (Oh wait–is this another one of those stories that has a gentler American version?)  Well, I’ve spent the last week feeling a bit like Hansel.  First there were the four days in New Orleans, each of which typically started with something like this:

and ended with something like this:

with a bit of something like this in between:

And then we returned home to not one but TWO back-to-back Thanksgiving dinners:


Turns out, even a scrawny woman with a pro-wrestler’s appetite needs to rest after a multi-day food marathon like that.  And you know what’s a restful, soothing, straight-back-to childhood dish that really hits the spot at a time like this?…

Three-rice pudding

  • 1.5 cup rice (combination of wild, brown basmati, arborio… or whatever you have)
  • 3.5 cups milk (skim, in our case, since that’s what we had–but how could additional fat here not be tasty?)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • a splash of vanilla
  • a dash of cinnamon
  1. Combine everything and bring to a boil.
  2. Turn the heat down and simmer on low until soft.

(If you’re using a pressure cooker–which is just perfect for this, because you don’t have to worry about the milk boiling over and making a mess all over your stove–wait until you hear the whistle.  Once you’ve turned down the heat, 15 minutes in the pressure cooker should do the trick; it will take more like 25+, and some intermittent stirring, in a regular pot.)

This is a fabulous starting point.  From here, you may decide that you want to add more sugar, or honey, or some powdered chocolate…

Best enjoyed curled up on a sofa with one husband, two cats, and three episodes of Mad Men.