A week of carbo-loading

September 18, 2006 on 8:07 pm | By | In Eat to Train, Food Musings, Recipes | Comments Off on A week of carbo-loading

In preparation for the Kirkland Tri (race report in a separate post), my darling and I got our fill of carbs. Fall is in the air, so my thoughts turn to hearty fare. To celebrate my first triathlon on Sunday, we headed to Central Market for two 2-pound lobsters. We enjoyed them on our deck with a salad of fresh corn and red potatoes in a lemon-tarragon vinaigrette. Yum!

On Monday I prepared lowfat red beans & rice for a client using turkey kielbasa, and since I only used half the kielbasa for their meal, I prepared the dish for us that evening (using up the bell peppers leftover from the barbecue). I was a bit heavy-handed with the Tony Chachere’s, but I think the spice helped blast out whatever remained of my cold. It was the perfect meal after our 1/2 mile Greenlake swim.

I had the day off on Tuesday since my client was on vacation, so I took the opportunity to do a thorough office cleaning (which was about a year overdue!). I also threw all lobster trimmings from Sunday’s meal into a pot with a bunch of water and simmered it all into a nice, rich stock. I also turned all my chicken trimmings (including the package of chicken feet from Ranch 99) into a chicken stock. After my 4-mile Greenlake run with the LUNAChix I didn’t feel like cooking, so we headed to Tutta Bella for some Neapolitan pizza and salad. I love that place! Of course, after dining there the first time (where we had arugula and prosciutto pizza), I had to go home and replicate it, but that night I just didn’t have the time or desire. We devoured a Mediterranea with eggplant, mushrooms, fresh basil and Kalamata olives, along with an Insalata di Salerno — a chopped salad with shaved fennel, fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, cucumbers, romaine and balsamic vinaigrette.

On Wednesday I finally had an opportunity to make tortilla soup for my darling and me. One of my clients had requested it (they LOVE the recipe from the Mansion at Turtle Creek, which follows), so now I’m making it for almost all of my clients. It definitely needs to be made with homemade chicken stock, but fortunately I have a terrific pressure cooker recipe (so it’s not a problem to prepare it during a regular cook date). The recipe calls for you to strain out the vegetables and tortillas after simmering, but I like it rather chunky. Since Wednesday was another gray and drizzly day, the soup was a perfect topper.

Thursday was quite an emotional day, as it was the first time I cooked in Donnie’s home since she passed away (I will continue to provide meals to her husband). I was overcome with tears as I saw the stack of sympathy cards on the counter, and I was barely able to keep it together as I talked with her husband. He’s doing okay, but admits that it will probably take a while before it sinks in that she won’t be coming home. As I was finishing up my day he invited me to watch the DVD of their trip to Kona, as well as a slide presentation of her life. WOW — what an amazing woman. Her memorial will be October 7, and I’ll be preparing a special dinner for the family immediately after. The dessert will feature blueberries, of course.

Because I just cooked for one person I had a lot of food left over, including mozzarella cheese and marinara sauce. So dinner that night was a lowfat chicken parmesan, steamed green beans and an incredibly delicious Caesar salad.

Friday was another day off, so this time I tackled our back porch, where most of my equipment is stored. It was a day of tremendous progress, as I was finally able to part with all the mismatched Tupperware, Gladware, Ziplock and Rubbermaid containers and lids. That night was the September meeting for the Puget Sound chapter of the USPCA — a perfect excuse to use up some leftovers! I still had a container of peanut sauce from the barbecue, so I paired that with the half-bag of shrimp in my freezer, some grated carrots, bean sprouts and cilantro for a grilled Thai shrimp pizza. It was the hit of the evening!

Saturday was our 6-year anniversary, so we started the celebration in style — at the dump 🙂 My darling had spent all day Friday digging up the weeds in our front and side lawns, and since we don’t have curb-side yard waste service, off to the dump it was. However, our transfer station is right next to Essential Bakery, so I decided to join him. We had a wonderful, leisurely breakfast of black coffee, chocolate croissant, spinach & feta mini quiche and cinnamon roll.

We headed to Kirkland after that to pick up our race packets, and decided to have lunch in Bellevue. Although lunch was okay, it reminded me why we don’t go out that much. We spent $50 for food that I could have done MUCH better. Mind you, nothing was BAD, it just wasn’t very memorable. My Bloody Mary was a bit weak (I like mine with lots of spice and Worcestershire sauce) and was just garnished with a celery stick (I prefer mine with pickled asparagus, olives or pickled green beans; anyone who combines them gets MAJOR kudos!). The Ahi tuna salad was good, but again, I like my version better, where I coat it with black & white sesame seeds and quick saute it. The Cajun firecracker rolls were nowhere near as spicy as we thought they’d be, but again, they weren’t bad. But I knew that if we were to have a spectacular dinner, I’d have to take it into my own hands.

After seeing the Amateur Gourmet‘s post on fresh pasta, I decided lasagna would be the perfect dinner before our triathlon. I made it rather simple — just a basic red sauce, fresh mozzarella, pecorina romano and loads of fresh basil — but man, was it good! We started the evening on our deck with an antipasta platter of prosciutto-wrapped fresh mozzarella and melon, Italian salami, marinated cippoline onions, smoky bleu cheese & bread and various olives (and lots of cheap, boxed wine). We paired the lasagna with Caesar salad and green beans (and more wine, although my darling kept warning me I should slow down given our tri the next day. But it tasted so GOOD!). What a delightful end to a glorious day!

Tortilla Soup (adapted from the Mansion at Turtle Creek)

3 tablespoons corn oil
4 corn tortillas, coarsely chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
2 cups tomatoes, peeled & pureed
1 cup onion, pureed
4 tablespoons tomato paste
2 quarts chicken stock (recipe follows)
1 chicken breast half
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 bay leaves
salt, to taste
cayenne pepper, to taste
3 corn tortillas, cut into thin strips & fried crisp
1 avocado, peeled, seeded, & cubed
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded (or a Mexican cheese combination)

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute tortillas with garlic and cilantro over medium heat until tortillas are soft. Add onion and fresh tomato puree and bring to a boil. Add cumin, chili powder, bay leaves, tomato paste, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil again, then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes, then add chicken breast. Cook chicken through, shred and add back to soup. Season with salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Skim fat from surface, if necessary. Strain and pour into warm soup bowls. Garnish with crisp tortilla strips, avocado and cheese.

Pressure Cooker Chicken Stock
(adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)

1 onion, chopped medium
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
6 pounds chicken legs, separated into drumsticks and thighs
2 bay leaves
1 sprig fresh thyme
12 peppercorns
4 parsley sprigs
salt and pepper
10 cups water
Add all ingredients to a pressure cooker. Lock the lid in place and bring to pressure over high heat. Cook for exactly 45 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary to maintain high pressure. Remove the pressure cooker from the heat. Allow the pressure to naturally release for 15 minutes, then quick release any remaining pressure.  Strain the stock into a large container. Allow the broth to settle for 5 minutes, then use a wide spoon to skim the fat off the surface.


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