Sunday, February 8, 2009

This Week's Menu

Leftover Orange Soup

Enough chopped veggies to choke a rabbit. A herd of rabbits, even.

Tree Birthday Chicken—A recipe purportedly in honor of Tu B’shvat, but which, in truth, has a lot more to do with the fact that I have to use the damn oranges I bought about five weeks ago because they are so healthy and low in points/calories and I was going to eat two every single day and (as I do every single time I buy oranges) I did not eat them.


1 kg chicken breasts
Three somewhat decrepit oranges
Eight dried apricots
Spices: Salt, pepper, Cumin, Ginger, Hot pepper. I think that is it, but I may have tossed something else in there.
White wine (optional, because I do not have any white wine, but I wish I did because it would go really, really well.)
There is no celery in this recipe. If you still have the celery you bought not to use for last week’s recipe, please throw it away now. As you do, please do take a moment to remember that those starving children in China are your fault.

  1. Rinse the chicken breasts, cut the excess fat and slice into strips and place into a mixing bowl
  2. Ask yourself if buying chicken at the shuk was a good idea.
  3. Sniff the chicken. Note that it does not smell especially putrid. Not like the turkey you bought that time and allowed to sit for a week in your fridge before you got around to taking it out for cooking.
  4. Whatever. Too late now. And won’t cooking kill the bacteria? Of course it will! Yofi! Great! Set the chicken aside.
  5. Slice the oranges in half. Is there any visible mold? No? Excellent! Squeeze the oranges into a bowl.
  6. Add the spices. Debate whether to add cumin. Sniff it. Sniff the orange mix. Hmmm…. Debate some more. In the end, decide to add it because the colors go well together and that means the tastes are complementary.
  7. Sniff the orange juice mix again. Zut alors! It needs more spices! Add another dose of all the spices, including the cumin.
  8. I learned “zut alors” from The Little Mermaid. “ Zut alors! I have missed one! Sacre bleu! What is this? How on earth could I miss such a sweet, little succulent crab. Quel commage. What a loss! Here we go in the sauce. Now some flour, I think. Just a dab. “
  9. You do not have to say "zut alors". Any random expression in any foreign language you do not know will do.
  10. Pour the marinade over the chicken. Mush it all up well so that the chicken is well covered and put aside
  11. Chop up the apricots into little bits.
  12. Take a deep-ish baking dish. Layer the chicken and chopped up apricots. Pour whatever marinade remains in the bowl over the chicken. Poke at it a bit.
  13. Put the baking dish in the refrigerator. Allow it to marinate for as much time as you need to write up the recipe as a blog post.
  14. When you are at this point in writing up the recipe, realize that you forgot to pre-heat the oven. Turn it on to…ummmm….190 degrees Celsius (375 degrees Farenheit)? Okay!
  15. No no NO! This is a recipe! You should have a proper temperature! Go online and check out various recipes to try to figure out what the temperature should be. Discover that you should have browned the chicken first. Damn. Next time. Okay—temperature.
  16. According to this website, when cooking chicken breasts in dry heat, you should cook at a high temperature for a short amount of time. Does roasting with lots of liquid constitute wet or dry heat?
  17. Oh, fuck it. 190 degrees Celsius it is.
  18. Take the baking dish out of the refrigerator. Cook the chicken until done.

Seeing that my chicken is still in the refrigerator stage, I have no idea if this recipe is any good. I will make sure to update you.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad

This is one of my favorite salads to throw together at home because it's so damn easy and I'm a lazy bastard. I'll add my own photo of it the next time I make it. I also love this one because of the contrast of the sour vinaigrette, sweetness of the dried cranberries, and tartness of the goat cheese. It's like throwing strong flavors into a ring to duke it out, but instead they hold hands and sing kumbaya. The contrasting textures are fun too.


Spinach leaves
Frisee lettuce
Light balsamic vinaigrette (Kraft makes a decent one for a good price and very low cal.)
Sprinkling of goat cheese (don't overdo it. This is meant to be healthy, remember?)
Sprinkling of pine nuts (again, don't overdo it. Feel free to cut them out altogether if you can't behave yourself.)
Sprinkling of dried cranberries

Throw ingredients into a bowl together. Viola. I didn't bother giving amounts because you can play it by ear depending on how many bowls you're making. A handrful of greens per person should be fine. The dressing is only 25 calories per 2 tablespoons, so you can go a little crazy there. I'm hoping to experiment using it as a marinade with chicken and see what I can come up with.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Slightly Healthier Pizza

I'm a huge fan of "healthier versions" of my favorite foods so the recipes I'm going to share are likely to be a teensy bit more indulgent than you'd really hope.

Here's one from Top Chef, by Frank from season 2. His challenge was to create a meal under 500 calories. We could shave even more calories off in terms of getting lower fat cheese and choice of meat.

Pizza sauce:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
One 15-ounce can tomato puree
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup red wine (don't let the rest of the bottle go to waste. Get plastered. It'll make the food taste even better when you're done.)
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon sugar, or to taste (don't go crazy here. That defeats the point.)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Crust and toppings:
4 whole wheat pita bread rounds
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced (substitute with lower fat mozzarella if you want)
2 large tomatoes, thinly sliced
8 thin slices prosciutto, torn into pieces (or for a more kosher option, cut meat out altogether and throw on some mushrooms instead for a bulky, filling texture. If you don't mind mixing your meat with your dairy, turkey salami is a good option both kosher and halal criteria.)
12 fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces

For pizza sauce:
1. Preheat the oven to 400F. (If you have an oven like mine, settle down and read a whole Stephen King novel while you're waiting. You can also squeeze in half of War and Peace too.)
2. In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until soft, about 1 minute. Add the tomato puree, tomato paste, wine, oregano, basil, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, cover, then reduce the heat and simmer for 3o minutes for the flavors to blend, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool slightly.

For the Crust and Toppings:
1. Drizzle the pitas with the oil and season with salt and pepper.
2. Spread the sauce over the pitas, then top with the cheese and tomato slices (and anything else you want to include, such as mushrooms, onions, pine nuts etc. I love a sprinkling of pine nuts on my pizzas...).
3. Place the pizzas on a baking sheet, transfer to the oven, and bake until the cheese is melted and the crust is crisp, about 20 minutes (or 5 hours if your oven is like mine). Remove from the oven and scatter the prosciutto (optional for my Muslim and Jewish friends) and basil on top. Cut each pizza into 4 slices and serve immediately. Or else.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

This Week's Menu

Pakistani Dahl

Brown Rice

Sweet Potato soup

Two enormous sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped up into small chunks (about 1000 gram)
Equal amount (in volume, not mass) of dala’at, chopped into small chunks. Dala’at is like pumpkin, but HUGE. It is as if someone captured the Great Pumpkin, killed it, butchered it and sold it for parts.
Five large carrots, peeled and chopped
One leek, chopped into little circles
Celery (optional--the recipe calls for you to forget to put it in. So if you want the authentic Gila-cooking-experience, buy the celery and then forget to add it to the soup. But you do not have to. The soup will come out the same, either way. Obviously).
Three or four cloves garlic, finely chopped
Finger of fresh ginger, grated
I cup plain soymilk
2 tbsp oil
Spices: salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves (There may have been chili powder as well. I honestly cannot remember. Go ahead and add it—I bet it would be tasty.)


  1. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed soup pot.
  2. Add the leeks, garlic and ginger and sauté until soft.
  3. Add the sweet potatoes and dala’at and mix the whole thing well.
  4. Allow the whole mess to sauté until the sweet potatoes and dala’at are soft (approximately a year) or until you get sick of waiting (thirty minutes). Whichever comes first.
  5. Add the carrots, the spices and enough water to reach up to the top of the veggies. Allow the whole mess to cook (I do not know the technical term—hot but not actually boiling) while you go goof off on the internet.
  6. Call a friend. She should point out that your plan to run AFTER Shabbat lunch is not wise, since it is supposed to rain. Agree with her. Tell her that she is very sensible. Under no circumstances should you admit to your friend that this is what you were counting on—that the rain would force you to scrap your exercise plans.
  7. Of course, now you have no choice but to go running right now. Bring the soup to a good boil, then turn off the heat and then cover the soup so that it will continue to cook, albeit slowly. Put on your running shoes and go for a half hour run.
  8. Come back home. You have exactly 20 minutes to get showered, dressed and made up for Shabbat lunch. Turn the heat back on so that the soup can cook a bit more in the meantime.
  9. While getting ready, make sure to curse your hairdresser and all of his future descendents for dying your hair this nasty, dead coal black instead of the warm, dark brown that was on the color swatches he showed you. Seriously consider getting a buzz cut.
  10. Turn the heat back off and go to lunch.
  11. Come home three hours later. Take a look at the soup. The dala’at has disintegrated, the sweet potatoes are mushy, the carrots are still crunchy and the whole thing is cold. Ask yourself whether vegetable soup is likely to cause a) the type of food poisoning that is really and truly fatal, or b) the type of food poisoning that is highly unpleasant and that you may wish was fatal, but will not actually kill you.
  12. Turn the heat back on. We are talking vegetables here. Of course it is type b!
  13. And besides, food poisoning is dietetic.
  14. Let the soup cook for an hour. The sweet potatoes have now disintegrated. The carrots are still crunchy.
  15. It is time to put an end to the carrot resistance. Take your little hand-mixer thingy and puree the soup. Make sure to aim for the carrots. They are soon reduced to mush. Take THAT, you arrogant little mother-fuckers!
  16. Add the soy milk. Mix into the soup. It now looks really creamy and elegant looking.
  17. Without (and this is critical) even tasting the soup, add more of the spices. Do it randomly. A lot more cinnamon. A little more nutmeg. Whatever! Be free!
  18. Continue to cook on hot-but-not-boiling heat for a bunch of minutes.
  19. Take the soup off the heat and taste it. Yum!
  20. Put soup in refrigerator.
  21. (This step is only for those who bought the celery). Notice the celery. Realize that you forgot to add it to the soup.