Saturday, February 21, 2015

MacGyver Lunch

Due to a combination of the busy-ness of getting back to work after the holidays, weather delays, and various rounds of 'the crud', we haven't really done much cooking in studio yet this year. So when a spontaneous desire for a studio lunch was being hatched yesterday, I knew we'd need most of what we wanted to eat. My lovely studio mates equipped me with a requested menu, a list and a credit card, and left the rest up to me - which is one of my favorite ways to shop! I didn't want to have to go to several shops, so I was determined to get everything from the closest grocery. The requested menu: burgers, sweet potato fries, and pie. To make the adventure more interesting, the closest grocery is Hopey & Co., which is "an artisan and discount food and beverage shop", which means you can always find really cool ingredients, but not necessarily all the time.

Organic beef - check. Whole wheat buns, avocado, sweet onion, bacon, and cheese - check. Sweet potatoes and requested beverages - check. Pie ... almost anytime I'm NOT looking for pie, there is pie in the freezer section. Today, no pie. But they did have whole wheat pie shells and bags of sliced, frozen peaches. Pie! Grabbed those, along with some candied ginger and back to the studio.

Maybe in another post, I'll go into detail about not having any oils at the studio, and how I used a combination of margarine, oil from a tub of olives, and bacon grease for the lunch prep. As it was, we were all so hungry, I didn't get any pictures of that, so we'll go on to the pie.

While things were in the oven, I started to put together the pie so I could let it bake while we ate lunch. I sliced up the ginger pieces, tossed them with the peaches and a little sugar, and then (and only then) did I realize I might need something to soak up the excess juices bound to come out of the peaches. No cornstarch. No arrowroot. No agar. What's this in the freezer - ground flax seed? I'd used that as an egg substitute and to thicken up soups before, so a little should help, plus it's good for us. What's this in the back of the cupboard - instant oatmeal? Perfect! Tossed that in as well, mounded the fruit in the shell, and inverted the extra shell on top. A little egg wash and a sprinkle of sugar, and a whole lotta 'please oh please don't be a runny mess when you come out!"

Because I had to dash off to a meeting and because I couldn't stand to wait, we cut the pie while it was still pretty warm, so there were juices, but I could tell that given a proper cooling-off time, the pie would have held up fine:

And to my great delight and astonishment, when I came in to open the Gallery this morning, I found leftover pie!! Breakfast of champions, and a nice little slice confirmed that the pie was in fact a pie. And it was good. 

And is it odd that I rather enjoy this sort of renegade kitchen fare? Not every time, but once in a while, it's rather invigorating!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Super Breakfast for Super Bowl Sunday

Irish Bangers, Creamy Polenta, Kale and Eggs

Plate by Matt Clark, Mug by me

Also just a good hearty breakfast or brunch for the winter. House-made Irish Bangers from my local market, a new batch of eggs from one of my favorite local farmers and an interesting recipe from the NY Times motivated this, as well as a busy day ahead at the studio before heading to a friend's Super Bowl party. Just one recipe below, sharing that from the NY Times as the sausage was simply cooked in a cast iron pan, the kale was lightly braised in some leftover veggie broth, and the egg done over easy. The entire recipe, from Mark Bittman, includes the sausage, and I tweaked the polenta recipe to my tastes, but here is the original recipe for the polenta:

Creamy Polenta

1 cup medium-coarse cornmeal
1 cup, plus 3-4 cups water
2 TBSP butter
1/2 - 1 cup grated parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper

Put the cornmeal in a medium saucepan, along with 1 cup water and whisk well to make a slurry; continue whisking mixture to eliminate any lumps. Put pan over medium-high heat, sprinkle with salt and bring to a boil. 

Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook, whisking frequently and adding water as needed to keep mixture loose and free of lumps, between 3-4 more cups. If mixture becomes to thick, simply add a bit more water; consistency should be similar to sour cream.

Polenta will be done in 15-30 minutes, depending on the grind of the corn meal. Add cheese and butter. Taste and add salt, if necessary and lots of pepper.