Friday, February 03, 2012

From Fresh Ricotta to Stinky Kale and Fake Chicken Nuggets

This week has been all over the map.

Sunday, my dear beloved Food Groupies friends gathered again for the first time in about 4 years.  We are a small group of friends who used to meet once a month to explore fun food projects, and wow, did we ever have a delicious blast!  When we were meeting regularly, we made many fine foods and drinks, like limoncello, fresh salsa, tortillas, pupusas, sauerkraut, biscotti & more.  Not really sure why we stopped... life just got in the way.  But on Sunday we picked right up where we left off and made fresh ricotta.  And now that we're back at it, we're all so delighted and inspired to keep it going!

As I wrote previously, I didn't have many resolutions this year, but among the few that I did, making more delicious things from scratch was high on the list.  I'm happy to say that I can already check a few items off the list.  Recently I made homemade dijon mustard, and last weekend, in the company of my fellow Food Groupies, I learned how to make the most creamy, dreamy ricotta that ever was.   We followed this recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen, a damn fine blog, filled with tasty recipes and witty writing.  I can't even express how much we loved this recipe, and how exquisite the results were.  We made a huge spread with Acme bread and Semifreddi's Garlic Croutons on which to spread the ricotta, and we had all kinds of treats to add, like caramelized onions, tomato & parsley relish with garlic, fire roasted jalapeños, blackberry jam, olive oil from Spain, and roasted garlic.  Oh MAN, it was heavenly!  Added bonuses:  Sabine made a big pot of this soup, and we drank a special bottle of wine that a friend from Italy recently bestowed upon me and the little mister.  And since little mister is more of a beer lover than a wine lover, I had no choice but to share it with the Food Groupies!

And then, then there is the matter of the marinated kale.  Lately I eat kale salad for lunch about a good 4 days out of 7.  I'm crazy.  Crazy for kale.  I never get sick of it.  It all began with this recipe, which is practically one of my all time favorites.   I'm wild for it.  And frequently, I vary it.  I add fennel or some cooked grains, substitute a chopped hard boiled egg for the cheese, or just use whatever I have in the house.  Lately I've been adding quinoa and diced roasted kabocha squash.  Sometimes lentils, sometimes not.  Anyway I love this salad but I do find it a bit of a pain to strip the kale from its stems, wash, dry and chop it.  And I'd recently read an article that says you can make the salad & marinate it well in, days in advance.  And so I did that.  Got 3 big bunches of kale on Sunday, cleaned it and prepped it all at once, and tossed it all into a big container with olive oil & lemon juice.  Had some of it on  Monday and it was fab.  Skipped Tuesday, but pulled the big container out of the work fridge  on Wednesday.  The moment I pulled the lid off, I, and the poor, poor souls around me were hit with the most rank smell, OMG.  Like stinky pickled stinky stuff. Like cabbage that's been sitting in the sink for days.  I was immediately apologetic to my poor coworkers who could smell this stink from 3 suites away!  ESPECIALLY cause I am that uptight person in the office who always gets all irritated when people pull out stinky things for their lunches!  Payback time!  But strangely, it tasted fine.  It WAS fine.  It wasn't off.  I don't really know what kind of chemical reaction happened to make it stink so bad.  But I know I definitely WON'T be marinating my kale salads more than a day in advance in the future!  And lest you might think it's a good idea, trust me.  It's not so good.

And then, then there was tonight's bachelor dinner.  Lest anyone should ever accuse me of being too much of a food snob, I will have you know that tonight's dinner was frozen fake chicken nuggets with mayo and Sriracha, with a pretzel stick chaser.  Not a vegetable in sight.  Sometimes that's about the best you can do.  I'd like to say it was comfort food but it wasn't exactly comforting.  More like a little greasy and bloat-inspiring.  But it sure did round out the week!

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