In one of the exceedingly rare moments when none of my three cohort-mates and I was working AND another of our favorite couples was free, we got together for a birthday brunch. Sometimes residency looks like the remains of a delicious meal, cooked and enjoyed among friends.
Now that my schedule is lighter, and I am back to cooking, I am simultaneously alleviating and adding to Dear Husband's shopping and cooking burdens by diversifying our menu. Feeling in the mood for pasta, I dug up a Better Homes & Gardens recipe that I had attempted--and cryptically annotated--once before. We enjoyed the results, but in true Frau Doktor Doctor fashion I only sort of followed the book, so for posterity I have tried to recreate what I ended up doing here.
1. The recipe calls for 8 large manicotti shells. DH was able to find a box of 36 "jumbo" shells that are "jumbo" only in an advertising sense. (Apparently there were 25 the last time I made this dish.) Boil however many of them there are for ~10 minutes. When you are delicately trying to peel them apart later, wish you had rinsed them in cold water.
2. Meanwhile, steam 1/2 small box of baby spinach and press out any extra liquid. The recipe calls for a 10oz bag of frozen, but I wrote "1.5 lbs fresh spinach" in my cookbook the last time. Halfway through filling the shells realize you need to double the recipe. Steam the other 1/2 of the box.
3. Beat 2 eggs with 2/3 cup broth, ~1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese (something more than 1 tub; we happened to have extra in the fridge), 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, and the spinach. I gave up on the lemon zest when I couldn't grate the lemon with my grater.
4. Spoon the mixture into the shells, and layer them in a 2-quart baking dish. The recipe calls for a white sauce, but it's a lot easier to just empty a jar of your favorite red tomato sauce over them.
5. Bake, covered, at 300F for 30-35 minutes. Let stand ~10 minutes while you prepare a vegetable or salad. Top with extra Parmesan and enjoy while re-watching a favorite movie--might I suggest Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire?
Lent starts this week, which means food-themed holidays (or should that be "holiday-themed foods"?), such as pancakes on Shrove Tuesday and King Cake for Mardi Gras. Dear Husband and I were invited to a Louisiana-style shin dig this weekend that was unfortunately cancelled due to the death of one of the hostesses' grandmothers. Based on a positive experience with succotash at Rooster's Uptown in Charlotte, NC (my Yelp review), I had planned to bring succotash to share and ended up re-purposing it as a side dish to some grilled veggie wraps inspired by this crepe meal (click for FrDrDr recipe). Not knowing who all would attend, I had chosen to make a vegan version that everyone could enjoy.
Main dish: zucchini and squash sauteed with oil and salt,
then served on tortillas with ricotta and mixed Turkish spices.
Over at Idiomation, Elyse Bruce explains that "succotash" is a portmanteau of the Narragansett words for the ingredients of the dish: manusqussedash (beans) + misickquatash (ear of corn) + asquutasquash (squash). Its first known use is in a New England diary in 1751. The mixture didn't suffer for another century, until Victorian sensibilities turned religious curses like "Christ" into "crikey" and "Suffering Savior" into "suffering succotash."
1½ cups frozen edamame
1 tablespoon canola oil
½ cup chopped red bell pepper
¼ cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups corn kernels
3 tablespoons dry white wine or water
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Cook edamame in a large saucepan of lightly salted water until tender, about 4 minutes or according to package directions. Drain well.
2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add bell pepper, onion and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables start to soften, about 2 minutes. Stir in corn, wine (or water) and the edamame; cook, stirring frequently, for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in vinegar, parsley, basil, salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Ingredient Note: Edamame are easy to digest and are exceptionally high in protein ( ½ cup has 16 grams). There are several kinds available today—frozen and fresh, in the pod and shelled—in large supermarkets, natural-foods stores or Asian markets.
Unfortunately, I was underwhelmed by the finished product. My biggest complaint was that it was too watery. If I were to make this again, I would skip the white wine/water and splurge for the red bell pepper instead of the cheaper green that didn't stand out as well against the edamame. Perhaps if I had had some onion it would have punched up the flavor. As some commenters had remarked on the original online recipe, this dish is better cold.
Sometimes residency looks like the view from a clinic window on a snowy winter day when schools are closed and you wonder if any of your patients will show up for their appointments (and whether their parents should be driving in this weather at all).
Before Dear Husband and I got married in 2005, friends and family threw me a surprise bridal shower disguised as a surprise birthday for DH. It was fantastic. Guests had been asked to bring me copies of their favorite recipes. I'm sorry to say most of the cards have never been smudged with flour or spattered with oil, as DH and I largely either cooked dishes with which we were already familiar, or else looked up recipes online to fit ingredients we had. For most of our marriage, we shared cooking duties 50/50, each of us typically preparing one large meal per week so we could alternate leftovers. For the first 1.5 years of residency, however, I was lucky to come home to eat dinner with DH, never mind make it for the both of us. Now that my schedule has lightened up somewhat, I've made a New Year's resolution to cook more from my collection of recipes, both cards and books. Tonight DH chose a low-fat, vegetarian Tortilla-Black Bean Casserole an old family friend had gifted me.
1. Sign on to Xfinity in time for the start of a M*A*S*H marathon. Discover you forgot to purchase tortillas at the grocery store; send faithful spouse to Walgreens to get some.
2. Chop 1 large onion and 2 cloves of garlic while some oil heats in a large skillet. Next time make the pieces of onion larger.
3. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Saute onion, garlic, 1 can undrained tomatoes, and 2 tsp cumin in the oil. Unsure what picante sauce is, substitute some red pepper flakes.
4. After the mixture boils, reduce heat, add 2 cans drained black beans. Simmer ~10 minutes while you chop 2 large red or green peppers.
5. Spread 1/3 of the bean mixture + bell pepper in a 3-quart dish. Top with tortillas (either six 6-inch or 2 8-inch tortillas). Sprinkle 1 cup of shredded Monterrey Jack cheese. Spread another 1/3 of the bean + pepper mixture, then more tortillas, then the last 1/3 of the beans + peppers.
6. Bake, covered, for ~30 minutes. Sprinkle with 1 cup shredded cheese and let stand 10 minutes.
7. You can top with shredded lettuce, tomato, green onion, and olives, but we served it on a bed of lettuce with plain yogurt (or sour cream) on top. Makes 6 hot, gooey servings. Would pair well with tortilla chips and guacamole.