• erin

    Dumplings with my family
    A recent graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, I found myself with no money, no kitchen equipment, and an exceptionally huge appetite. Ideas, improvisations, and yummy meal solutions were discovered in the kitchen of my very first apartment.
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    I've been getting a lot of requests and suggestions for the apartment kitchen. I LOVE these suggestions, keep them coming!

    If you have anything you'd like me to consider (recipes to develop, shortcuts for recipes, great ingredients, or even blog formatting), shoot me an email and let me know!

    em570039@mycia.net

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Pasta with Leeks, Peas, Parmesan, and an Egg

This dish almost tasted like carbonara, because of the egg on top. I love dishes like this because they are simple, delicious, and cooked all in one pot. Pasta is also great, of course, for just cooking for one person.

You may have noticed that I usually use whole wheat pasta or pasta made from farro or quinoa (that’s why it always looks sort of darker than your average pasta in my photographs). That’s a personal preference, but of course any and all of these dishes would be just as delicious (if not more so) with regular or flavored pastas.

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Coconut Red Curry Lentils n’ Rice

This blog is about food…but a few people have pointed out to me that the little snippets of text here and there really tie it together. Because it’s not always enough to grab a recipe and run – some of you like a little splash of real life in there too.

We had a fire at my house this week. Yes. It doesn’t get much more real than that. There is minimal damage and everyone and everything is safe (minus my bath mats, shower curtain, toilet seat and the tile in the bathroom). It happened in the middle of the night, which made it extra scary and I spent the next day recovering by ordering Chinese food. Yes…I don’t cook well (for myself) under pressure. But by the next day I had gathered my head and made something simple – a one pot meal that was fast and easy but quite comforting in it’s own right. Lentils and brown rice smothered in creamy coconut red curry. It was delicious and wonderfully spicy (great with a glass of something spritzy). You know what they say, after all, – fight fire with fire…

Okonomiyaki

While Matt is a very willing and accepting taste tester, I like to use nights when I’m by myself to try new things or things that don’t quite meet his criteria. He’ll eat almost anything, but he definitely prefers a big slab of meat in the center of the plate. On nights when I’m on my own, I often opt for vegetarian or super-light dishes…like this awesome Okonomiyaki.

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese pancake made with vegetables. I got a basic recipe from Kevin at Closet Cooking, though I made a few tweaks – added different veggies (you can really use anything you need to use up) and added a tasty dipping sauce. It was quick, comforting, and used up a lot of veggies that were about to go bad! It was so good, I might have to reconsider and make this for Matt!

Spicy Chicken and Rice

Nothing beats a meal made in one pot. It’s almost as fast to make as it is to clean up. Great for a weekend – just get all the ingredients going and the more it simmers – the more flavor builds up. So this weekend I decided to make a delicious, healthy, spicy comfort food – chicken and rice with peas, peppers, and onions. Simple, basic, and tasty. Best of all, you can add your own creativity to it – add any other vegetables or meat or spices that you like. So spice up the weekend – but don’t take forever to do the dishes.

 

Ricotta Gnocchi with Caramelized Onions and Bacon

Many people are nervous at the idea of making their own pasta, and I suppose for good reason. Pasta is one of those easy-to-impress dishes, which is only magnified by it’s easiness to prepare.  All you have to do to earn rave reviews is to toss a box of dried pasta into some hot water, and take the praise as it comes at you, because everyone loves pasta.  But making your own pasta brings your dish over the top, transforming it from a plain old pasta dish to a magnificent culinary creation.  

Ok, so perhaps I’m being a bit dramatic, but I found a pasta recipe so simple, every apartment cook would be able to make it with no difficulties whatsoever.  It’s a classic twist on the well known gnocchi, or Italian pasta dumpling.  Normally made with potatoes, gnocchi are tender and delicious when cooked, though slightly time-consuming to prepare.  With this recipe, ricotta replaces the potato in the dough, making it easier and faster to prepare.  

The end product, however, is no less delicious, rich, or satisfying.  In less than 20 minutes, you too can make your own pasta from scratch…and no one has to know how easy it was.


Ricotta Gnocchi with Caramelized Onions and Bacon

Served 2
Leftover Potential: Reheats relatively well, but do not keep for more than 1 or 2 days as the gnocchi begins to lose some of it’s texture.  Provided one more meal after the initial dinner.

For the gnocchi:
2 oz all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
6.5 oz ricotta cheese
1 egg
.75 oz olive oil

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
4 pieces bacon, cooked until done in the oven, then chopped into bite size pieces
1/4 cup chives, finely minced
cayenne pepper, to taste
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
parmesan cheese, to  garnish

1. Mix together the flour and the salt in a medium bowl.  In a separate container, mix together the ricotta, egg, and olive oil.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add the ricotta mixture.  Mix until completely combined into a useable dough, 1-2 minutes.
2. Form the gnocchi using your hands and a fork.  For video instructions, check THIS out.
3.  When all the gnocchi are formed, cook them in a large pot of salted boiling water until they are cooked through completely, and rise to the surface, about 6-8 minutes. Drain the gnocchi and set aside.
4.  In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the onion and cook until beginning to caramelize.  Then, add the garlic and allow to cook until aromatic, about another minute.  Add the bacon and allow to cook until it gets even crispier, 1-2 minutes.  Add the chives, and season with cayenne, salt, and pepper to taste.  
5.  Serve in a warm bowl with grated parmesan cheese.  

Spicy Turkey Chili

As the weather gets colder, I get an ache in my bones for soup. One of the best things about this meal is it is ideal for The Apartment Kitchen. One big pot is all you need to be able to make any soup or stew. And not much sounds more warm and comforting to me than a deliciously hot, spicy chili.

So one particularly cold day here in Hyde Park, I headed to the grocery store and picked up all the ingredients for my perfect chili, which includes lots of great toppings and of course some cold beer. I use ground turkey, because I love the taste and flavor and it’s much healthier. I also like to take a slightly Tex-Mex approach to my chili, topping it with good cheese, jalapenos, green onions, and some lime for acidity. And, as is typical with one-pot dishes it’s incredibly easy and super cheap.

Spicy Turkey Chili

Served 2 plus leftovers
Leftover Potential: reheats perfectly, but keeping all the condiments makes it more difficult to re-assemble, provided 3 more meals after initial dinner.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 jalapeno, seeds removed, finely minced
1 pound ground turkey
1 large or two small cans diced or crushed tomatoes*
1 can corn
1 can black beans
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 pinch cinnamon
3 Tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

green onions, chopped, for garnish
cheddar cheese, grated, for garnish
lime segments, for garnish
pickled jalapenos, for garnish

1. In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sweat until translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeno and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute.
2. Add the turkey, using a rubber spatula to break up pieces while it cooks. Cook until cooked through and brown.
3. Add the tomatoes, corn, and black beans. Reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer until whole soup is heated.
4. Begin adding spices, tasting the chili along the way to determine if it needs more spices/salt, etc. Reduce heat to low and hold while garnishes are prepared.
5. Chop green onions, grate cheese, if necessary, and cut some segments of lime. Set these ingredients on the table along with the jalapenos to allow diners to top their chili as they wish.
6. Serve the chili in warm bowls with a cold beer. Keep the leftovers in the fridge until you need to be warmed up again.

* This makes a very meaty chili, if you prefer a soupier product, you might want to add an additional 15 oz. can of tomatoes.