Monday, March 15, 2010

This week's meals

Last week was a big cooking week for me.  I just got myself a Costco membership so I was really excited about all their awesome meats.

Let me start with a fantastic date night scallop dinner that I concocted while scouring my Joy of Cooking, Good House Keeping, and Rachael Ray cookbooks. I saw that Rachael had made a dish with muscles steamed in dark beer and a little light popped into my head.  Scallops with portobellos, bell pepper and garlic over spicy garlic noodles!  I know that has nothing to do with muscles in dark beer, but for some reason something just clicked in my head.  After gathering all the stuff together, I headed to Nick's house and we cooked up a storm.  I would suggest getting your scallops from Costco, they're much cheaper.  I got mine at Ranch 99 and they were $9.99/lb, which I thought was expensive.  The scallops were HUGE though so we cut a few of them to match the others for balanced cooking.  This may seem like a pricey dish, but it did feed the two of us in huge portions and his sister in a more moderately sized plate.  We also had pasta left over for lunch the next day.

Seared Scallops with Sauteed Portobellos, Shallots, and Red Bell Peppers over Garlic Noodles

1 lb spaghetti noodles
1/2 c EVOO
2 tbsp red pepper flakes
6 cloves garlic, minced

20 sea scallops (about 10/person if you're greedy like me)
2 tbsp butter
2-3 portobello mushrooms, sliced
2 shallots, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp EVOO or as needed for sautéing
1/4-1/2 dry white wine (you can also use clam juice or chicken stock)
Salt and Pepper to flavor

Start cooking noodles.  Heat 1/2c EVOO, red peppers and minced garlic at a simmer.  Let simmer until ready to serve.

Season scallops lightly with pepper.  Oil and butter pan.  Sear scallops for 3-4 min on each side.  Set aside cooked scallops. They should be slightly tender on the inside and no longer translucent.   Add more oil for sautéing.  When oil is hot add shallots and garlic.  Cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.  Add mushrooms and bell peppers.  Continue stirring until mushrooms become soft.  Deglaze with white wine.  Let wine cook off and then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Mix the simmering garlic and red pepper oil with noodles.  Serve small portion of noodles on a plate.  Pile sauteed mixture on the pasta and arrange scallops on top. Note:  do not put your scallops in the oven to warm.  They will over cook and become rubbery.

 These pictures were taken by Nick, hence the awesome quality.  The rest of the pictures are either with my snapshot or camera phone.

Up next I wanted to make a big piece of lamb from Costco. My mom is not a huge fan of lamb, but she seemed to enjoy it.  I got the recipe for Braised Lamb out of my Joy of Cooking book.  I was hoping for it to be more rare, but I guess when you're braising then you really can't do much about it.  There was a mishap along the way.  After prepping the meat and doing the last and easiest step, putting it in the oven, I had put the oven on Time Bake instead of Bake.  Oh my God.  I was furious when I figured out what was happening.  I was faithfully turning the meat on the hour noticing that the oven wasn't very hot at all.  I attributed that to the fact that the oven was only set on 325 degrees.  By the last half hour I said "How can this possibly be cooking?"  My mom then looked at the settings and saw that it was on Time Bake, which turns off the oven until you set a time for it to turn on. Bah!  Nick tried to make me feel better even though he had his foot propped up on the sofa.  It was his first really gouty day.  I gave him the evil eye and he went back to watching the tv. (Poor guy)  We set the oven to cook at 350 degrees in stead of the specified 325 so that it would be done on time.  I was so angry.  There were more than a few profane words being mumbled.  Why would the dial have Time Bake come before Bake?  It makes no sense to me.  Why put Time Bake before Bake when one would use Bake more often than Time Bake?  In my opinion, Time Bake should be the last on the dial since it is seemingly used less frequently than the all encompassing Bake.  Regardless, we just need to update our kitchen so that I don't make dumb mistakes with dials anymore.  I've messed up on that oven so many times (usually I forget and leave it in Prebake so that my stuff comes out extra crispy).  I never had problems with our digital oven in NY.  I'm just used to the oven doing it's own thing and switching from Prebake to Bake by itself and having a whole separate button for Time Bake, which I never touch, mind you.   Anyway, the lamb turned out just so-so.  It was tasty, but I prefer to have my lamb rare.  I think next time I will have to roast it instead of braising if I want rareness.  It wasn't all for naught though.  The meat was tender and tasted very good despite its doneness.  

The next night I made us a beef brisket with veggies.  The potatoes that I put in the pot to cook with the brisket were awful and the veggies were a little bland but the meat was good!  You win some, you lose some.  The veggies were okay if you put them with the meat into a sandwich, but otherwise there just was not enough flavor.  I added lots of pepper and some salt, but I guess not enough.  The brisket itself was pretty tasty though.  I used a rub that I thought up while doing my lamb.  I just rubbed this stuff all over the meat and let it hang out overnight. 
Brisket rub 3/9/10

8 tbsp mustard
8 garlic cloves, pasted
3 shallots, minced
1 tbsp red pepper flake
2 tsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

Also, since Nick's foot was really bothering him and he couldn't come for dinner I made him a gout friendly lasagna.  Two dinners in one night!  Go me!  Fortunately, the lasagna turned out better than my brisket veggies.  This is just my take on a vegetable lasagna using veggies that are gout friendly.  I was originally going to use spinach and mushrooms, but it turns out that those are both bad for gout.  I substituted the spinach with kale and it turned out just fine. 

Vegetable lasagna (gout friendly)

3 tbsp EVOO
2 red onions, diced
1 head garlic, minced
3 bunches kale, deveined
3 zucchini, diced
3 tomatoes, diced
2 28 oz cans tomato puree
1 tbps dry basil
1tbps dry thyme
1 tbsp dry oregano
1 tbsp dry marjoram
1 pack no boil lasagna noodles
1 bag mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper

Preheat oven at 350 degrees.

Sauté onions and garlic until tender.  Add kale and zucchini, stir until tender.  Add tomatoes, cook for 3-5 minutes until tomato skins become slightly shriveled. Add tomato puree, basil, thyme, oregano,  and marjoram.  Bring to a boil.  Salt and pepper to taste.

In a 9x13 dish spread tomato mixture on the bottom.  Layer with cheese and then no boil noodles.  Continue layering until dish is full.  Top with cheese.  Sprinkle with basil and red pepper flakes if desired.  Cover with foil and bake for 50-60 minutes.  If you want the cheese on top to brown, take foil off and put back in the oven for 10 minutes.  Let stand
for 15-20 minutes before cutting.

On Friday I went over to Nick's to help him out while I worked.  I guess that's the beauty of working from home.  In the morning I made egg wraps using egg substitute, bell pepper, mozzarella I had left from the lasagna, and garlic.   I wrapped this up in wheat tortillas and they were delicious.  You couldn't even tell it wasn't real egg!  It was a busy day at work, but in the evening I went out to stock Nick up on cherry supplements, juice, and preserves.  Apparently cherry is good for gout.  Between the medicine he's taking and the cherry supplements his foot seems to be doing a lot better.

Saturday night I whipped up a gout friendly chicken casserole.  I found King Ranch Chicken Casserole on All Recipes and altered it to fit our needs.  I also added garlic, orange, red, and green bell pepper, and yellow squash.  Like one of the comments suggested, I used corn tortillas cut in quarters instead of tortilla chips.   I also omitted the cream of mushroom and doubled the cream of chicken.  First I sauteed all of my veggies then added low fat cream of chicken soup.  It was quite easy and very delicious. 

Last night was the last meal that I made as Nurse Allison (I'm back to being a normal girlfriend again).  We grilled up some chicken and sauteed some veggies together to go on top of of garlic noodles.  It was just a variation on the scallop noodles dish that we made at the beginning of the week, but just as yummy.
After reading tons of websites on gout, we've come to the conclusion that to stay gout free Nick needs to eat well balanced meals.  That sounds good to me!  It'll be good for the both of us.  All this eating out is making me gain weight and my back hurt.  So it's back to healthy cooking for me.  I like the challenge of making bland things taste good without pack on the calories with butter or cream. 

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