Warning: ob_start(): non-static method wpGoogleAnalytics::get_links() should not be called statically in /homepages/12/d92832203/htdocs/digestLA/wp-content/plugins/wp-google-analytics/wp-google-analytics.php on line 259
simple » 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?

rhubarb chard from my garden

rhubarb chard from my garden

My mom sent me these planting systems called Earth Boxes for my birthday. An Earth Box is a container that allows your plants to water themselves and it includes all kinds of fertilizer/plant food ingredients. I don’t have the greenest thumb so I went to the nursery and asked for easy to grow and eat plants. My garden now includes strawberries, sage, rosemary, heirloom tomatoes, Japanese eggplants, baby lettuce, thyme, cippolini onions, chives, basil, and rhubarb chard.

The rhubarb chard is one of the plants lucky enough to live in the earth box, which is clearly powered by some alien kryptonite substance because the chard will just not stop coming. I cut all the leaves and a few days later, I have a full chard plant with giant leaves again. The problem is I don’t really know what to do with chard. I usually add some to my salad, but that is not really doing the job. Today I harvested my chard and removed the stems and spines. Then I cut the chard in 1″ strips. I thinly sliced some onions and chopped garlic. I sauteed all of this in a combo of olive oil and butter with salt and butter. Zomg, delicious! Is it so good because it went from my garden to my plate in 10 minutes? Or is chard the biggest secret hiding in our backyards?

I didn’t take a picture of the finished project partially because it didn’t look that pretty, but mostly because I couldn’t stop eating it long enough to photograph it. Huzzah. Three cheers for chard!

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?

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.

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.

grilled lamb and roasted veggies

grilled lamb and roasted veggies

I went to the doctor today for a cold that won’t go away and she suggested that maybe I just need to take it easy… what?! I thought I was taking it easy… I didn’t even go on my third planned business trip this month. For my mellow night at home, I decided to cook some lamb chops I bought at the Culver City farmers market. Nothing much to learn here since you all know I likes the lamb, but I did find out just how expensive sustainable lamb is to buy. I am going to have to find a better compromise for the omnivore’s dilemma.

For a side, I roasted some asparagus, squash and potatoes that I had laying around the house. You know back when I cooked dinner for the husband, I used to just cook some way too complicated main thing and no sides. He would always tease me about it. Now I can’t imagine cooking dinner without sides. It is like Vladimir said in Waiting for Godot, “Never neglect the little things in life.”

sausage and peppers

sausage and peppers

The other day I was hungry and I looked around my kitchen and found yellow peppers, green onions and those gross packaged cooked sausage you can get at the supermarket. I heated up some french bread from the freezer, cooked it all up and realized it wasn’t half bad. I really wasn’t sure what I was going to make and I ended up making a Philly classic – a sausage and pepper sandwich. I tried a few more times with better ingredients and it occurred to me, this is my first recipe. I made it up myself. I know that is a rather minor accomplishment for a normal chef, but I am still just aspiring to be an amateur home chef.

I just made it for my visiting sister and her husband…

a little taste of Philly

olive oil
salt & pepper
1.5 lbs sweet Italian sausage
1 yellow pepper, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
2 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 c chicken stock
fresh french bread
grated parmesan

Add a bit of olive oil to a saute pan and cook the sausage covered over medium heat. After 8 minutes, turn the sausage over and cook on the other side for 8 minutes. Remove the sausage to a cutting board and slice on an angle.
Pour out excess oil from the pan, but leave nice sausage bits. Add a bit of fresh oil, season with salt and saute the sliced peppers. After a few minutes add the onion. Season a bit again. Add the tomatoes.
* Tangent This is an excellent recipe for practicing your pan tossing skills. I have to admit, I watched a how to video, but never actually did the pan tossing homework. This recipe just naturally calls for it and I started doing it pretty easily.
Once the peppers are starting to become soft and the onions are translucent, deglaze the pan with around a 1/2 cup of chicken stock (homemade, please). Make sure to scrape up all the delicious brown pan bits and make a bit of a pan sauce. Add the sausage back to the pan and simmer for a few minutes to heat through.
Serve the sausage and peppers on toasted french bread with a little parmesan cheese and enjoy yourself an Eagles game. Go Philly!

*Disclaimer, I made this up. I am sure there are other and better ways to make sausage and pepper sandwiches.

tuscan surprise

tuscan surprise

Okay, so the CSA didn’t last too long. Last week, I got more eggplant and I was so busy at work that by the time I looked in on the veggies to cook anything they were all rotten. I got frustrated and felt guilty that I had nothing I could think to do with eggplant so I quit the CSA, bought an eggplant and decided to conquer this problem.

Going through my recipe folder on Google Docs (boy, I wish I had Recipe Byte), I found my sister’s recipe for Tuscan Surprise. The surprise, she says, is that it tastes so good. The recipe is a CSA dream with eggplant, yellow peppers, and tomatoes… and surprise! It is delicious. I also got amazing italian sausage from the meat stand at The Farmer’s Market on Fairfax.

Joanna adapted this recipe from The Silver Spoon cookbook, which for some reason calls this hearty fall dish something like Summer Bean Salad. So, here, I happily present Joanna’s Tuscan Surprise:

Tuscan Surprise
named so because i was surprised it was so good.

adapted from the Silver Spoon cookbook to include sausage. Make it without for a vegan dish.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove
4 large or 6 small italian sausages (i prefer hot)
1 eggplant, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, halved, seeded and diced
2 fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
12 ounces canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
grated rind of 1/2 lemon
4 basil leaves, chopped
1 fresh flat leaf parsley leaf, chopped
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a pan. Add a clove of garlic (whole) and chopped Italian sausages and cook through.  Remove the sausage and discard the garlic.  Add the eggplant and bell pepper to the pan and cook over high heat for a few minutes, then add the tomatoes and beans, cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and cook, uncovered, for a further 5 minutes.  Mix in the cooked sausage.  Remove the pan from the heat, transfer to a warm serving dish and sprinkle with the lemon rind, basil and parsley.  Mix well and serve.

Note from Michelle: as is typical of me, I left off the lemon rind. basil and parsley. Not sure what lemon rind adds here and I was too lazy to clip basil and parsley from my garden.