Friday, November 27, 2009

Fun With Thanksgiving Side Dishes

My husband was on a roll this week. Thanksgiving is the one holiday a year that he uses a kitchen for anything other than cooking Ramen noodles. Specifically, he makes his mother's cranberry relish, which is the awesomest four-ingredient dish I know of. But this November he outdid himself. Not only did he cook macaroni on our recent camp-out, he also dreamed up an Asian-inspired peanut stuffing for Thanksgiving dinner. Needless to say the logistics were left to me. But I will allow that the cooking demons must have possessed him this past week. When we showed up on our host's doorstep last night, we carried both The Chickenless Chick's Mother-in-Law's Cranberry Relish and a brand spankin' new 5 Spice Peanut Stuffing (not to mention some farm-fresh broccoli rabe courtesy of Green Flamingo).

The Chickenless Chick's Mother-in-Law's Cranberry Relish


4 c. fresh cranberries
2 c. granulated sugar
1 navel orange (skin and all!), diced large
2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier


Combine all ingredients in a food processor or paddle blender and process until you achieve a relish-y consistency. Serves 12.

5 Spice Peanut Stuffing


2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 1/2 c. shredded Napa cabbage
1 carrot, chopped
3/4 c. chopped scallions
3 slices day-old bread cut into 1/8's
1 c. pre-roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped roughly
1/4 c. dark sesame oil
1/4 c. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. peanut butter
2 tsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. Chinese 5 spice powder
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 c. veggie broth
3/4 c. cooked brown rice


Heat the oven to 350.

In a wok or other saute pan with high sloping sides, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high. Add the cabbage, carrots, and scallions. Saute 2 minutes. Add a quick dash of the soy sauce and continue sauteing until soft, another 3-4 minutes. Set aside.

Spread the bread squares out in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for a very, very short amount of time (start checking after three minutes). They're done when they're crisp but not quite brown. Combine them with the peanuts in a large mixing bowl. Turn the oven up to 375.

Once the vegetables have cooled, combine them with the bread and peanuts.

In a small bowl, whisk the sesame oil, soy sauce, peanut butter, vinegar, spice powder, and brown sugar. Stir this sauce into the bread, peanuts, and veggies. Transfer the mixture to an ovenproof casserole dish. Pour the veggie broth down the sides so that it distributes itself evenly throughout the dish. Bake at 375 for 70 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes after the 40 minute mark. Remove from the oven and combine with the rice. Serves 8.

Spicy Grand Marnier Rabe


8-10 large leaves broccoli rabe, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 shallot, chopped or sliced thin
Juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon
Juice and zest of 1/2 an orange
1/2 of a fresh chile pepper, de-seeded and chopped
Salt 'n' pepper
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier
1/4 c. veggie broth
1 tsp. orange blossom honey
1/4 c. almond slivers


Blanch the broccoli rabe in salted boiling water.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the shallot, lemon zest, orange zest, chile pepper, and salt 'n' pepper to taste. Saute about 5 minutes, then add the blanched rabe and cranberries. Saute about 5 minutes. Add salt 'n' pepper to taste. Saute a couple minutes more (until you feel that you could comfortably eat it). Add Grand Marnier and veggie broth. Saute until the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat. Stir in the honey and almond slivers. Serves 8.

Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving!

Beat the eggs. Whip the cream. Show no mercy.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Playing Catch-up

I spent last week apartment hunting, job hunting, and Green Flamingo-ing. The fruit of my labor in the apartment department (heehee, it rhymes) is a ridiculously cheap studio just around the block from my present amazing location. Now, I know that being culinary types yourselves, you probably see the word studio and think, "Uh-oh." But this one boasts a kitchen area- complete with appliances- that may have more counter space than my current house. So even though I'm garage-selling off about three quarters of my life before the second of next month, I couldn't be happier. My only two stipulations were must be located in a low-traffic area where I can let my cat outside and must have a workable kitchen. This pad has both those covered, and at such a low price that I instantly looked at my husband after seeing it and said, "We'd be idiots not to do this."

In the Green Flamingo department (aw man, that one doesn't rhyme!), we finished digging our aquaponics pond- affectionately dubbed The Hole- this past weekend. I hope to have pics up on Doveland Farm later today. I will also have more shots from the New Smyrna Beach Farmers' Market, where Liz and Mary of Green Flamingo sell both raw vegetables and canned specialties like the pickled okra at the top of this page.

But for now, to pursue an aspect that is more specifically cooking-related, here is the Green Flamingo kitchen... which we made this:

It's a spicy pasta dish with fresh-caught sheepshead and veggies grown on the premises. My husband's and my Sunday morning fishing trip yielded nothing big enough to eat, so we obtained the sheepshead from a local seafood co-op. Seagoing meats are my favorites, and though I don't normally eat fish for environmental reasons, I will eagerly make an exception if it's locally and sustainable caught.

Macaroni el Diablo with Sheepshead and Broccoli Rabe


2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 habanero pepper, de-seeded and chopped
8-10 large leaves of broccoli rabe, roughly chopped
3 sheepshead fillets, cut into bite-sized chunks
6 servings dried macaroni
1 24-oz can unsalted tomato puree
Salt, pepper, and dried Italian herb mix to taste


Salt and pepper the sheepshead chunks and set aside.

Cook macaroni according to package instructions and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the butter and vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted, add the onion and habanero. Saute about five minutes or until the onion is translucent. Toward the end of cooking time (when you have about a minute left to go), add salt, pepper, and Italian herbs to taste.

Add broccoli rabe and continue sauteing until it has wilted. As before, add salt, pepper, and herbs toward the end of cooking time.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the sheepshead and cover to cook, stirring only occasionally so that the chunks don't fall apart.

Add the tomato puree and macaroni. Stir. Let it warm through for a couple minutes, then stir again and taste for salt, pepper, and herb content. Add a little more if needed. Let simmer fifteen minutes. Serves 6.

This has been dubbed a Chickenless Chick Cooperative recipe, as the ingredients (other than the sheepshead and butter) were suggested, gathered, and in large part cooked by Green Flamingo intern Steve. The reconstituting of the macaroni can be attributed to my great sport of a husband, so turns out all I did was come up with the idea for "spicy tomato-y fish pasta thingie" and do the prep work. A valiant team effort with superb results.

Who else is excited about Turkey Day?! I'll be spending it with friends here in Orlando. What are your plans?

Beat the eggs. Whip the cream. Show no mercy.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Did That Man Just Say "Pumpkin" to Me?

On Tuesday, November 3rd, I issued the 30 Rock TV Dinner Challenge. The object was to come up with a dish inspired by the show, cook it by Sunday the 15th, and post your results. Sunday the 15th was yesterday, and here I am sliding in under the wire with my own entry, inspired by a Tracy Jordan line from the (aired) pilot. I looked forever and couldn't find the video clip I wanted to use, or for that matter the full episode. Unfortunately the comic value of this line, like most of his lines, depends on the delivery. While I encourage you to rent the DVD if you're really curious, here is a brief description to set the scene:

Tracy is at a restaurant with Liz and his entourage. The waiter announces that their special is pumpkin ravioli. As he walks away, Liz tries to say something business-related to Tracy. He shushes her and says, "I'm going to ask you a question and I want you all to be completely honest... Did that man just say 'pumpkin' to me?"

See? Funnier when he says it. I was rolling on the floor. Sigh. Strike one.

Here's strike two:

Yes, that is actually supposed to be a pumpkin ravioli. Note to self: Mixing wheat germ and all-purpose flour does not make whole wheat flour. It makes... whatever the hell that is.

So there I was yesterday with a bowl full of ravioli filling and not enough eggs to make more pasta dough. I racked my brain trying to think of something pumpkin-y that would be equally offensive to Tracy Jordan, and finally came up with this savory pumpkin pie.

I wouldn't call it a home run (the recipe could use a little tweaking), but at least I managed to avoid a strike three.

Savory Pumpkin Pie With Chickpeas



2 c. flour
2/3 c. butter
1/4 tsp. salt
4-5 Tbsp. cold water

*Though pie crusts are generally similar, I found this one on Cooks Recipes a couple years back.


1 pie pumpkin weighing about 3 lbs
2 shallots, chopped
2 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. dried marjoram
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 c. Mexican-style crumbling cheese (I imagine feta would result in a similar texture, but the flavor would be completely different)
2 eggs
2 c. cooked chickpeas


Heat the oven to 450.

Mix the butter, flour, and salt in a large bowl and add 4 Tbsp. of water. Continue mixing. If the dough sticks together in a big ball, there's no need to add the last Tbsp. of water; if it still seems dry, add water slowly until the mixture reaches a dough-y consistency. Separate into two dough balls of equal size. Wrap each in plastic and store in the refrigerator.

Cut out the pumpkin's stem, grasp it firmly, and scream, "blargh!" as if you are holding a human heart.

Quarter the pumpkin... I know, I know. But look, my husband and I did it even without the proper type of knife. Instead we used two improper knives. And a lot of cursing. So you can too. Don't be a wuss.

Scrape out the yummy seeds and leave them out to dry for roasting later. Wrap the quarters in tin foil and roast them at 450 for about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, saute the shallots and herbs in the olive oil over medium heat until the onions are translucent. Add to a large bowl and set aside.

When the pumpkin is finished cooking, remove and turn oven temperature down to 375.

Scrape the pumpkin out of its skin into the bowl. Add the butter and salt. Combine using a large spoon or potato masher. Set aside to cool for about ten minutes, then incorporate the eggs and cheese crumbles.

Stir in the chickpeas.

Butter two 9" pie tins.

Roll each dough ball out flat on a well-floured surface to a diameter of 12".

To transport, fold each crust into quarters. Place these in pie tins with the points of the quartered crusts at the center. Unfold the crusts and press firmly into the tins. If needed, trim the edges using clean kitchen shears. Flute or crimp as desired.

Distribute the filling evenly between the two crusts.

Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes, or until barely browned on top.

Cool about ten minutes before slicing. Each pie serves 6 as an entree or 8-10 as an appetizer. To reheat, simply bake at 350 for ten minutes.

Thank you to all who participated in my first TV Dinner Challenge. There will be more to come. As always, I welcome your ideas for shows to use; as well as your ideas for new challenges in general. Please feel free to leave your suggestion as a comment or email

Beat the eggs. Whip the cream. Show no mercy.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Chickenless Cook of the Week: Chef Mark Dollard

This week's Chickenless Cook makes me do things I wouldn't normally do. For instance, I wouldn't normally eat out. Most restaurants are not worth my hard-earned money... especially when my hard-earned money is barely sustaining me. But at Brick & Fire, a unique pizza parlor that I would never insult with the title of "joint," owner and chef Mark Dollard gives you more than you would expect for an extremely sensible price. All crusts are handmade fresh on the premises; Guinness is three freaking fifty; and the base ingredient for their standard house salad is not iceberg, not Romaine, but a field greens mix that will actually provide you with the nutrients your body would still be starving for at the end of a typical restaurant meal. The barbeque chicken pizza pictured above is one of my husband's and my favorites.

Another thing I don't normally do is put Chickenless Cook of the Week in interview format, but Chef Dollard's answers were so entertaining I couldn't resist. Here's the word on booze, girls, and mouthwatering pizza straight from the horse's mouth.

Q: How did you get started as a chef?

A: Dishwashing. Something to pay for the car that I wanted in high school. I had no idea at the time that start would turn into a career. All I had on my mind at the time was girls. That is the basic summary of all sixteen year old boys, umm yea, girls, girls, girls, a cool car to impress girls, girls, extra money to spend on girls... Regardless, once you get the restaurant business in your blood, it’s hugely difficult to detoxify it out. I had a yearlong restaurant sobriety only to find myself depressed in an industry that lacked action, chaos, drama, beer, girls, food, fun, cooking, bad language, bad behavior, and diversity. I had trouble being surrounded by guys in ties.

Q: How/when was Brick and Fire established?

A: I actually started out on my own with a restaurant called Absinthe Bistro which was located in Church Street Station. The now infamous owner, Lou Pearlman, made off with a lot of money that wasn’t his... He went to jail and I lost my lease. At auction, Church Street Station went to... now defunct previous owner Cameron Kuhn. He insisted that I open a pizza place in my previous Absinthe spot, as “that” concept wasn’t “cool enough” to be there. In a period of 24 hours, I wrote a menu and developed an upscale pizza and wine concept and submitted it, graphics and all, to the Kuhn team. The next day I had a lease in hand. Kuhn and his dysfunctional foreclosure of Church Street Station led me to close the store and move to a free standing building on Orange Ave just a mile away... I just opened the second location in Casselberry three months ago.

Q: I've noticed your prices are very recession-friendly, especially when it comes to alcohol. Do you have a quote/philosophy that sums up your pricing strategy?

A: Quality and Quantity for Price Paid... My markup is fair and my margins are thin, like a good crust should be. The wine and beer, well if you are charged club prices for a beer then you absolutely will not sell any. I would rather sell fifty beers at two bucks, than five at five bucks. If I can pay everyone and manage to do the mortgage thing then I am happy. I do although miss making my French Bistro fare, but I will be getting there again shortly.

Q: What's your favorite item on the Brick and Fire Menu?

A: Unfair question.

Q: Favorite ingredient to work with?

A: I love working with dough. It’s a challenge to make it consistently as it, like a living thing, changes constantly. My favorite aspect of any good dough is the human skin like feel it has, silky and tender along with the historic culinary nostalgia in that bread is the “Staff of Life.” I love tomatoes too, and Ice Cream, and did I mention Girls? Denote the sarcasm as married for sixteen years now.

Q: How do you come up with new recipes?

A: I find inspiration in the strangest of places, but culinary basics are culinary basics. Vinaigrette will always have a similar balance of vinegar and oil, and sautéing will always be done the same. Creating something new is the best part of what I do, and making those changes in operations gets my blood pumping.

From top to bottom: Bruschetta, Shrimp Penne, Duck Pizza. All photos courtesy of Mark Dollard.

Many thanks to Chef Dollard for this interview, and for his awesome food!

Do you have a restaurant near you that has restored your faith in the concept of eating out? Please feel free to share in the comments. If you live in Orlando or will be visiting the area, I encourage you to check out the Brick & Fire website for their menu, address, and other information.

Beat the eggs. Whip the cream. Show no mercy.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Acai Black Currant Pickled Okra

While I have at least one elaborate recipe in mind for the acai black currant syrup I won from Food Finery, little everyday uses for it are adding up by the dozens. Alice Waters' recipe for Fresh-Pickled Vegetables, which can be found on page 220 of The Art of Simple Food, partially inspired me to use it in a brine for pickled okra (the original called for sugar instead). My other inspiration was Peas Love Carrots, where you can find an awesome recent post on canning Spicy Italian Pickled Okra.

My adaptation of Fresh-Pickled Vegetables from Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food is as follows.

Acai Black Currant Pickled Okra


1 1/2 c. white wine vinegar
1 3/4 c. water
2 1/2 Tbsp. Acai Black Currant flavored syrup from Sonoma Syrup Co.
1/2 bay leaf
4 thyme sprigs (I didn't have fresh thyme, so I used a generous pinch dried)
Half a dried cayenne pepper or pinch dried chili flakes
1/2 tsp. coriander seeds
2 whole cloves (I used a pinch of ground cloves)
1 garlic clove, peeled and halved
Generous pinch salt
1/2 lb. okra pods, halved


Combine all ingredients except okra. Boil over high heat. Add the okra and reduce heat to medium-high. Let simmer about 15 minutes, or until the okra is no longer crunchy but not yet gooey. Lift the pods out with a spatula or slotted spoon and transfer to a heat-proof container with a lid. Set the brine aside until it has cooled enough to refrigerate. Pour the brine over the okra, put the lid on, and chill at least two hours before you start munching (Ms. Waters says you can start munching right away, but I like to wait for the okra to marinate a bit). Will last up to a couple weeks in the fridge, and you'll get even more mileage if you can it.

Remember, just four more days on the 30 Rock TV Dinner challenge! Have you posted your 30-Rock inspired dish yet? If so, let me know!

Beat the eggs. Whip the cream. Show no mercy.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I Won! I Won!

...a bottle of Acai Black Currant syrup in a giveaway from Food Finery! I promised to do something fancy with it, and that will come later. At the moment, I am enjoying it in a glass of cheap shiraz. Really takes the edge off that gasoline flavor... Mmm. Thanks, Food Finery!

As if you haven't heard me gush enough about Green Flamingo Organics, here are a few more reasons to be jealous of me for volunteering there:

That's all I managed to capture on Saturday before my camera ran out of juice. Silly me, forgetting the extra batteries. I didn't even get to shoot the aquaponics pond that my husband and I dug (partially). Do you guys remember when I showed you all the carpet remnants heaped in our backyard? Well, an aquaponics pond was the plan. The carpet would have lined it. But we're in a sad, sad state of flux right now, and don't know whether we'll live in the same house come the end of the month. So we're digging one at Green Flamingo instead. I am still super-mega-fun-time-happy-excited about it, and I promise not to forget the batteries again this coming weekend.

Six days left on the 30 Rock TV Dinner challenge! What are you guys planning? Or would you rather surprise me?

Beat the eggs. Whip the cream. Show no mercy.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Nutella and Lemon Curd Sandwich Cookies

I know it's not very chickenless of me to share two recipes from the same cookbook in one month. Believe me, I was just going to do Cook of the Week and post this sometime down the road.

As I write this, there's a gunman on the loose within a few blocks of my house. As of fifteen minutes ago, they had no suspects and were still attempting to secure the office building where it happened. I'm sure you'll all read about this in the news later, and by then what I just told you will be out of date. But right now, I'm scared and confused. What the hell is going on? First Fort Hood, now this... What's wrong with the world? If that sicko is prowling my neighborhood right now, looking for a place to lie low, if he just busts into my house right now, I WILL NEVER KNOW WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH HIS HEAD. I may never know anyway. We may never be able to point to it. They may never prove that it's hormones in the water supply, or an undercurrent of political resentment on all sides that's finally built its way to this, or ANY ONE THING. As a human being, that makes me nervous. Human beings like to know things. They like to dissect incidents, to overcome hurdles. Puzzles with no answers are the essence of Jung's Shadow.

So if I'm so nervous, what am I doing here at my laptop, sitting on the floor so my head is below all the windows, writing about cookies? Because I may not know how to solve the tragedies of the world, but I do know cookies. Especially these cookies. I've baked them many times, and their sweet buttery perfection never fails to distract me. So at least for the short time that I'm blogging about them, I'll be the boss. Not some nutcase wandering around town with a gun. ME. I'm in charge.

And I say we're baking cookies, damn it.

We're baking Grandma Sylvia's Salt Butter Cookies on page 188 of America's Best Lost Recipes:

But we're baking them the Chickenless Kitchen way, which means that instead of the chocolate filling they tell you to use, we're using Nutella and lemon curd. And because there is currently no whiskey in the Chickenless Kitchen, we're using lemon juice instead.

Nutella and Lemon Curd Sandwich Cookies


2 large egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 sticks salted butter, softened; or 2 sticks unsalted butter plus 1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 c. granulated sugar
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. each Nutella and lemon curd


Heat the oven to 350.

Beat the yolks, vanilla, lemon juice, butter, and sugar in a mixing bowl.

Incorporate the flour (and salt if using).

Roll bits of dough between your palms to make balls about 3/4" across. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. You should end up with about 36 small cookie halves. Let these cool completely (both Nutella and lemon curd are lousy to work with at high temperatures).

Once the cookies have cooled, separate them into two groups of the same number. Spread a paper-thin layer of Nutella on one group, lemon curd on the other. Take one of each (it helps if they're approximately the same size) and marry them. Press firmly, or else the lemon curd side will slide off. Makes 1 1/2 dozen sandwich cookies. Store in the refrigerator.

Just checked the news again. Apparently they have ID'd the suspect, an ex-employee who was fired last year for "performance issues." They're saying it's too soon to pinpoint that as a motivation.

They haven't physically caught him, at least not as of three minutes ago. I can hear the noise of the police helicopters over my house starting to fade. Maybe that's a good sign. Just going to have to wait and see. In the meantime my heart goes out to the victims and their families, those poor people who can't just look at pictures of cookies and make this go away.

Beat the eggs. Whip the cream. Show no mercy.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Frittata... WITH MEEEEEEEEEEEEEAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you discovered my blog sometime within the past week, you may have been duped into thinking I'm a vegetarian. Not so. I'm just a pauper who gives a damn what she puts in her mouth, and if I have to sacrifice something to lower my grocery bill, meat it is. I refuse to buy the cheap stuff that comes from inhumane, unsustainable, and unhealthy factory farms.

But when my mom is charitable enough to give me a pack of nitrate-free, hormone-free Applegate Farms turkey bacon, I ain't gonna turn it down.

As a matter of fact, I may have been overzealous with it in this case:

Yup, that's for one frittata. Singular. Bearing in mind that there were two other fatty sources of protein (cheese and eggs) present as well.

But hey, how was I supposed to know turkey bacon doesn't shrink like regular bacon?

On the plus side, I think both my husband and I made ourselves sick enough off it to get through the rest of the week feeling grateful for our chickpeas and red beans.

Here's how to make the same frittata I made. If you're not a card-carrying Atkins dieter, you may want to reduce the amount of bacon. And if you're among those feeling betrayed because you thought I was always going to be here for you with meatless recipes, feel free to throw in some tofu bacon or whatever it is you folks with will power like. (Anyone still confused regarding the name of my blog, please feel free to check out this post.)

Frittata With Turkey Bacon, Watercress, Shallot, & Swiss Cheese


3 eggs
1 Tbsp. plain yogurt or Oikos
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
4 strips turkey bacon, chopped
1 c. watercress, chopped
1/2 c. Swiss cheese, diced


Heat your broiler.

Beat the eggs and yogurt together in a mixing bowl. Set aside.

In a large pan or skillet with an ovenproof handle, heat the olive oil on medium. Add the shallot and saute two minutes. Add the bacon and saute two minutes more. Add the watercress and saute three to four minutes more, or until the onions are soft and translucent and the bacon is thoroughly browned.

Turn the heat down to medium-low and distribute the cheese throughout the pan.

Stir the egg mixture and pour it over the pan's contents. Tilt the pan around to distribute evenly.

Within a few minutes, you should start to see bubbles all over the frittata. At this point, tilt the pan again to check for doneness. You should be able to see a layer of cooked egg underneath the raw that comes about halfway up your fixins.

Stick the pan under the broiler for two minutes or until it has just begun to brown on top. Remove the pan and immediately plate the frittata to keep the bottom from overcooking. To do this, shove a spatula in at the edge and rotate the pan so that the frittata comes loose (you may have to dig under it a little to free it, especially in spots where there are big hunks of cheese). Position the pan low over the serving platter so that the edge is even with where you want the edge of the frittata to end up. Tilt the pan and shake it gently. When the frittata is about halfway off, you can guide it a little with your spatula to ensure that it doesn't break in half.


Serves 4-6 as an appetizer, 2 as a main course.

My husband and I split this for dinner. The watercress shrank a lot more than I thought it was going to, so to round out the meal, we each had some roast eggplant tossed with a handful of basil and a standard Balsamic vinaigrette. This versatile dressing/sauce/marinade is so easy I could make it in my sleep without even taking that creepy medicine that makes you sleepwalk. Just whisk three parts olive oil to one part Balsamic vinegar with a dash of dijon mustard to emulsify.

Now, how is it that a pauper like me can afford fancy-schmancy produce like shallots and The Incredible Shrinking Watercress? I must be quite the hypocrite, huh? Perhaps, but not in this case. I mentioned the other day that, thanks to a tip from a reader, I discovered a great local market in the Orlando/Winter Park area called Harvill's. All the produce I bought earlier this week came from within the state of Florida... and here's the best part:

My total for enough fruit, veggies, and herbs to feed two for a week was TWELVE DOLLARS.

If that sounds pretty standard to you, bear in mind that my husband and I do not eat like normal people. There's no cereal, pretzels, salsa, jars of spaghetti sauce, etc. in our house. When we snack, we snack on fruit and peanuts the way the cavemen did it. When I make a tomato-based sauce, it's from tomatoes and herbs. And I have a salad for lunch pretty much every day. So imagine my elation to spend TWELVE DOLLARS on what normally comprises the vast majority of my grocery bill. TWELVE DOLLARS. I'm just going to keep saying it until I believe it. TWELVE DOLLARS...

On another positive note (TWELVE DOLLARS), I am exceedingly proud of how well my food photography is coming along. I have a secret, which I will reveal to you at some point in the future I'm sure. But for now, here are a few extra shots that I liked and couldn't find anywhere to include in the body of the post:

Drop by tomorrow for a stellar Chickenless Cook of the Week, and start racking your brain about what to do for the TV Dinner challenge.


Beat the eggs. Whip the cream. Show no mercy.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

TV Dinner: 30 Rock

The Show: 30 Rock

The Challenge: Cook something inspired by the show on or before Sunday, November 15th (this gives you two full weekends to think it over). It can be based on a specific moment, or on a broad concept or character. If you have a food blog, post your results. If not, I'd still love to see your creation, so feel free to email pics and stories to

If you're not a 30 Rock fan, don't fret- there will be more TV Dinners to come! Let me know if you have any ideas for future challenges.

Beat the eggs. Whip the cream. Show no mercy.

Chickpea Stew With Dill

I know, it's like I'm not even trying anymore. What's so chickenless about chickpea stew (besides the obvious)? All I can say in my defense is that it has quite a chickenless amount of dill in it.

Chickpea Stew With Dill


2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 large carrots, sliced
1 rib celery, sliced
1/2 head garlic; cloves separated, peeled, and sliced
1/2 tsp. dried cumin
1/4 c. fresh dill or 1 Tbsp. dried
1 1/2 c. cooked chickpeas
2 1/2 c. veggie broth
2 c. canned/packaged diced tomatoes (I've said it before and I'll say it again: Pomi is the way to go if you don't can your own)
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
2 c. cooked brown rice


In a stew pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high. Add the carrots, celery, garlic, and cumin. Saute until the vegetables are soft but not falling apart, about 7 minutes. Add the dill; saute to coat. Add the chickpeas, broth, tomatoes, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 20 minutes. If you want a thick stew, stir in the rice and serve with bread. For a thinner version, spoon the rice into individual serving bowls and ladle the chickpea mixture over it. Serves 4.

I must take this opportunity to publicly retract a comment I made on someone's blog yesterday (I can't remember whose, and it's better to do it here where all my readers can see it anyway.) I said that Publix Supermarkets has a good business model and that they really take care of their employees. Well, what should happen but this evening my husband comes home from work and tells me that there's a temporary Publix boycott underway due to a human rights issue. If they raised the price of their tomatoes just a penny per pound starting this next fiscal year, they could afford to pay harvesters a living wage. For the time being, they are holding out, which sucks.

Luckily I was recently tipped off about a market called Harvill's in the Winter Park area (thanks, Nichole!) They sell a lot of local produce and farm-fresh eggs. May not necessarily be organic, but at least every fruit and vegetable I bought today came from within my home state. I'll be psyched to share pics and descriptions of what promises to be a mostly-local week!

Beat the eggs. Whip the cream. Show no mercy.