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cooking for one » digest LA
chicken steak, spaetzle, and roasted asparagus

chicken steak, spaetzle, and roasted asparagus

After a hard workout at Brick Crossfit, I stopped by Lindy & Grundy to pick up some meat. Lindy & Grundy makes unique cuts of meat to use as much of the animal as possible. Today, I picked up a chicken steak. I guess it is a cut of steak that maximizes the available meat, but is good if tenderized. When I was planning dinner, I realized that I had asparagus in the fridge, but no starch. Luckily, this morning my neighbor left me half a dozen eggs and this ominous note.

note from my neighbor

note from my neighbor

I saw his present and thought… eggs! What can I do with these? So I looked and found a recipe for spaetzle over at Smitten Kitchen. A perfect use for my eggs.

I made spaetzle once long ago when I was engaged and living in Chelsea in NYC. These single LA spaetzle were much better little pillows of buttery goodness. I topped the spaetzle with fried sage leaves fresh from my garden. Now who wants to come over and help clean my kitchen and keep my neighbor at bay?

flinstone-sized lambchop, quinoa, asparagus

flinstone-sized lamb chop, quinoa, grilled asparagus

For dinner tonight, I made a Flinstone-sized lamb chop from Lindy Grundy. I put a spice rub on the lamb chop and grilled it on both sides and then finished it in the oven. For the quinoa, I cooked it following the instructions using homemade chicken stock instead of water. For the grilled asparagus, I… you know… grilled it. Delicious! The quinoa was rich and amazing. I loved the lamb chop, but it was so hard to eat.

brownie & vanilla ice cream

brownie & vanilla ice cream

I was craving a sweet treat so I baked some brownies. I learned how to bake, as a kid, because it is so easy to whip up a delicious dessert just from pantry items and because I have an incredible sweet tooth. I started with this brownie recipe from Epicurious. Weirdly, I didn’t have a metal bowl or a brownie pan. I have been so focused on cooking since I moved to LA that I had neglected baking tools. Now at least I know what to buy next time I am creeping around Surfas jonesing for something to buy.

Lindy Grundy

Lindy Grundy

I have been excitedly waiting for Lindy & Grundy to open for months. Lindy & Grundy is a new sustainable butcher shop opened in my neighborhood by two butchering ladies. I went in tonight and asked for something easy to make after a hard week.  I got a single pork chop figuring the shop is so close I can come by every day for meat if I want to.

pork chop, chinese broccoli, garden salad

pork chop, chinese broccoli, garden salad

Of course, I didn’t expect to disrespect Lindy & Grundy’s beautiful pork the way I did. I decided to try a breaded chop since I had awesome panko bread crumbs. I put the chop in the pan and ran outside to cut some fresh salad greens (zomg, can you believe that lettuce came from my garden?!) and came back to some burning breadcrumbs. I don’t think I had enough oil in the pan. It ended up okay, but a bit overcooked. If I have learned anything from Top Chef it is that you have to respect your protein. I also steamed some chinese broccoli and served it with a little garlic oil and lemon.

spice rub station

spice rub station

I definitely know where to find more pork chops when I need them. Now, how to cook them?

roasted chicken, asparagus and tomatoes

roasted chicken, asparagus and tomatoes

I revisited Chow’s You’re Doing it All Wrong series and found a video about roasting veggies. Well how convenient. I happened to have a chicken and butternut squash in my fridge. Why not have a whole roasted Sunday dinner while watching HBO’s Mildred Pierce on tv, who by the way is roasting chicken as I type this? I always follow The Best Recipe’s roasted chicken recipe because it is so simple. You just brush butter on the chicken, salt and pepper generously. Then you roast it 15 minutes per wing-side up at 375 and then 20 minutes breast-side up at 450. Simple and delicious!

I also roasted asparagus and grape tomatoes at the same time as cooking the chicken. The asparagus tasted great, but the tomatoes were too sweet for my taste.

butternut squash pre-roasting

butternut squash pre-roasting

I found out from the Chow video that I was doing two things wrong. I was roasting veggies at too low a temperature (under 500 degrees) and in the wrong kind of pan (not a shallow metal pan). I did the butternut squash following these new rules and it came out… well… I didn’t love it and this whole roasted dinner has had my smoke detectors going off all day.

butternut squash soup

butternut squash soup

Instead of serving the squash (to myself), I sweated some shallots in butter, added the roasted squash and chicken broth. I pureed the soup and finished with a touch of butter and milk and it was delicious. Such rich flavor and excellent texture. Not a bad Sunday dinner to treat myself to.

my healthy dinner - shrimp, black beans, spinach salad

my healthy dinner - shrimp, black beans, spinach salad

The whole reason I got involved in endurance sports in the first place was to continue eating any old food I like. And I sure like a lot of food. I recently joined the cult of Crossfit and there is a lot of talk about nutrition and eating clean. I am definitely not going to start eating the Paleo diet, but I was thinking that it can’t hurt to try my hand at cooking healthy during the week.

So for tonight’s dinner, I kept it simple and healthy. I made my family’s Cuban frijoles negros recipe. Then I just sauteed some shrimp with some extra sofrito (onion, garlic and peppers) from the black beans and served with rice and a spinach salad. I made the black beans last night after a crossfit class and I was so tired by the time they finished cooking that I may have forgot some finishing steps. Even better than being healthy; the meal was delicious, simple and super cheap. If only I had time to make dry beans every day.

By the way, my crossfit workout included handstand pushups, sumo deadlift high pulls and hang power cleans. What the heck am I doing? If you are my dad, please don’t comment on that question.

Miso-glazed black cod - day 3

Miso-glazed black cod - day 3

It was the third day of miso marinade on the black cod and do you think I was scared to eat 3 day old fish? A little bit, but not really. I am putting my faith in this Epicurious recipe. Plus I made sure to check the fish before I cooked it. So did it taste any better day 3? I think the marinade got sweeter over time, but otherwise it wasn’t much different than marinading it over night. It tasted pretty awesome either way, but would probably be too sweet for weaker women than me by day 3.

To be honest, the cod tasted great every day so I got way more excited about changing my salad a little bit every day. For today’s salad, I used spring mix and baby spinach. In the salad I put tomatoes, carrots, grapefruit, a tiny bit of sliced onion and the best part… toasted pine nuts. I used the same dressing as yesterday because I think it is perfectly simple. Now all I can think about is all the stuff in my kitchen that will be great in my next salad. My eyes have been totally opened to how good a simple salad can be when you put a little love into it.

Miso-glazed black cod - day 2

Miso-glazed black cod - day 2

I am not sure I realized what a commitment this black cod experiment was going to be. Here I am, planning to go out around dinner time, so I had to make my day 2 version and eat a late lunch/early dinner… linner. Luckily, black cod is amazing so I win either way.

So my pops was worried that the marinade may contain an acid, which would cook the fish in the fridge. It doesn’t seem to. The glaze/marinade/whatever it is contains sugar, white miso, sake and mirin. Mirin is a sweet rice wine. I checked around for a few other recipes and they are all the same as the Epicurious one except they only call for 24 hours of marinade. Here’s the recipe that someone posted for Nobu’s famous version of the dish.

Does it taste better day 2? I think so. One problem with the fish may be that I am grilling it instead of broiling it. I am scared of the drawer broiler in my kitchen. I also updated yesterday’s salad dressing. With the same base as yesterday, I added a bit of balsamic vinegar and honey to the dressing and onion to the salad. I think the grapefruit juice needs a bit of balsamic to compete with the olive oil.

Miso-Glazed Black Cod

Miso-Glazed Black Cod

I never had black cod before I moved to LA and lunched at Beacon in Culver City. My sister found and made this recipe for miso-glazed black cod after I went on and on to her about what an amazing dish it is. Now Beacon is closed and I am without anywhere for my black cod fix (and tiny pickles for that matter). I decided to make it the other night, but it calls for marinading the cod in the sauce for three days! Keeping fish in the fridge for three days sounds gross, but it is in the recipe so it has to be right, right? Since I have just my little tummy and .9 lb of black cod, I decided to marinade it and pull a piece out to cook every day. I have no idea what this will prove, but it gives me a fun activity for the next 3 days.

For tonight’s meal, I also made a little salad with spring mix, grapefruit, avocado, and tomato. I have long been embarrassed about my lack of knowledge about salads so I finally watched the salad videos on Rouxbe.com. Based on what I learned, I made a little vinaigrette with 1 part grapefruit juice, 3 parts olive oil, shallots, salt and pepper. Delicious! Stay tuned for day one and a half.

roasted short ribs, potatoes, brussel sprouts, & salad

roasted short ribs, potatoes, brussel sprouts, & salad

It has been a while since I posted about food. Today I spent some time walking through the Brentwood Farmer’s Market and I picked up a bunch of random ingredients that caught my eye. I  got some grass fed short ribs, brussel sprouts, leeks, beets and two boxes of Thin Mints.

For the short ribs, the guy from the farm place gave me a recipe his wife loves. Of course, I looked at the list and said, “yep, got all of that.” I got home and started to prepare the short rib recipe, which calls for the ribs to be cooked smothered in sliced onion (it is like Waffle House up in here) and realized I didn’t have any onion. Oy vey. So I sliced up leeks and shallots and didn’t so much smother the ribs as gave them some friends to keep them company.

I also cooked a bit of bacon, crumbled it, and cooked sliced brussel sprouts in the bacon fat. I saw a great video yesterday about how to cook bacon the right way. Following the advice, I cooked it over low heat for about 20 minutes and flipped often.

SInce the ribs took 2.5 to 3 hours to cook, I roasted some little potatoes and beets in the hot oven to keep occupied. WIth the beets roasted and short ribs still going, I started making a gigantic salad with my homemade pickled onions, carrots, hearts of palm (me gustan los palmitos) , artichokes, corn, tomatoes. Overall it was nothing amazing, but it is so nice to pull together such a big dinner with a few ingredients and pantry supplies. If only I could remember to keep myself in onions.

ny strip steak & shredded brussel sprouts

ny strip steak & shredded brussel sprouts

Every once in a while I will be sitting staring at an ingredient and remember that I have a subscription to watch the always helpful cooking videos at Rouxbe.com.  This time the ingredient was a NY strip steak that I picked up at the store the other day. It was on sale, which is perfect for my “austerity” measures to save money.

I watched the How to Cook Premium Steak video and learned so much:

  • Temper the steak (bring it to room temperature) by putting it in a turned off 200 degree oven.
  • Season liberally with salt and pepper 15 minutes before cooking.
  • Before cooking, pat with a paper towel and drizzle with oil.
  • Then, the big secret… flip the steak every minute until it reaches the right temperature.
  • Rest the steak for 10 minutes on a rack and tent with foil.

I tested the doneness by touch and when I thought it was medium rare I double checked with a thermometer. When you flip the steak every minute, the inside cooks really evenly without overcooking the outside. Tempering it first helps. Pretty cool and my kitchen didn’t fill up with smoke like it normally does when I pan fry steak.

For a side I tried to make the shredded brussel sprouts with bacon that my dad made the other day, but I really didn’t know how he made them. So, I cooked some bacon, drained some fat, chopped the cooked bacon and then cooked the sprouts in the bacon fat. It tasted a bit too good so it probably coulda used less bacon. I guess I’ll just have to wait for papa Kempner to comment on this post tomorrow.

salad with pickled onions

salad with pickled onions

Just in case you think I just eat bacon and steak, I also ate some salad with pickled onions. I made these onions way back on October 31st and canned them. I had to slice 3 lbs of red onions! These onions make any salad taste better although this one had hearts of palm so it was off to a pretty good start. After I canned them, I made a little video of all the bubbles escaping from the jars. Vacuums are neat.

Vacuum seal of pickled onions from Michelle Kempner on Vimeo.