It’s always a bummer when I can’t remember how a dish came out. It’s even worse when it’s a Smitten Kitchen one like Bowties With Sugar Snaps, Lemon & Ricotta because I remember it being good, I just can’t remember any of the details. I mean, it’s got ricotta and peas (had to go with frozen because that’s what I’ve got) and lemon, so I know it’s good, plus I’ve got an almost 100% success rate with recipes from that site. It’s just been too long and I can’t remember! Still, I’m posting this because the pics came out well and I want to return to it later on down the line.
A few weeks back, my wife convinced me to go with her and our daughter to a nearby farm so we could pick strawberries — one of our daughter’s favorite foods — and anything else we might come across. It was luckily not too hot when we got there, but I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of doing my own picking. I don’t mind paying a little bit more to buy local goods that have been picked by other folks. In fact, after actually going out and doing this, I’m even more okay with it. Anyway, the other thing my wife decided to get from the farm was a big basket of sugar snap peas. For some reason, I can never find them fresh at our grocery store which has a pretty solid and impressive selection most of the time. So, she wanted a pea-centric recipe and I searched by blog went with Smitten Kitchen’s Pea Pesto, a recipe that’s super easy and super tasty, two of the biggest things I look for when making food.
My wife was adamant that the fresh peas would taste far better than the frozen ones I usually wind up using. I joked with her, saying I forgot to use the fresh and went with the frozen instead and that I couldn’t tell the difference between fresh and frozen, but that was just for giggles. In fact, the fresh peas made for such a big difference that I fully support her going out and picking more…just leave me and the kid at home.
I think it’s good to drop in a vegetarian meal about once a week or so. I have noticed, though, that those dishes tend not to go as fast as some of the other leftovers. I’m not sure what it is, but those kinds of meals — or at least the ones I’ve made — tend to be pretty good on the first day but don’t look so appealing after that. That was the case with Nigella Lawson’s South Indian Vegetable Curry (also seen on page 154 of Nigella Kitchen).
The idea behind this dish, which I didn’t really realize until after I bought all the ingredients and then decided to read the intro, is to use up a bunch of vegetables that you might have in your fridge that are getting close to heading south. I guess it doesn’t really matter, but I bought everything new and tossed it into the pot which might have made for more of the dish than we needed.
Anyway, the meal came out well enough. I must admit, I’m not overly familiar with curry. My wife bought some light and dark curry powder when she was over in Sri Lanka, so I know we’ve got some of the good stuff, but I’m a little nervous when it comes to messing around with that particular spice both because I don’t know it very well and partly because I don’t want to waste it. Like I said, it was good the first time around, but that yellow and green bowl of mush didn’t look super appealing sitting in the fridge. I probably didn’t give it enough of a shot, but I don’t know if I’ll be returning to this one…unless I have a bunch of veggies I need to cook before they go bad.
This was another pretty simple wok recipe to throw together and the results were something I’d never had before. Most of the work involved in making Five-Spice Chicken With Sugar Snaps as seen on page 120 of Stir-Frying To The Sky’s Edge revolved around getting the chicken ready. Instead of the thighs suggested in the recipe, I went with breasts as I always do. I chopped those up and then mixed it together with ginger, soy sauce, honey, cornstarch, sherry and five spice powder. I also mixed together chicken broth, ketchup and soy sauce. Aside from that, all you have to do is clean the peas. I’m not sure if I got sugar snaps or some other kind of peas to be honest. I have much to learn about peas.
From there, it’s a matter of tossing things in the wok in the right order. The chicken goes in first, cooks a bit and then gets put on a plate. Then the peas go in, the chicken rejoins the party along with a few other things and you’ve got dinner. Instead of rice, which my wife says is poisonous now (not really, but kinda), I got lucky and had a few nests of egg noodles in the pantry that I prepared as well.
I’ve used Chinese five spice before, but never as such a central part of the dish. There was a nice sweetness coming through from the honey and then that distinct mixture of peppercorns, star anise, fennel, cinnamon and cloves (the quintet of spices that make it up).
Man oh man. One of the problems with doing this blog and getting behind on posts is that some of the meals start to run together. About a month or so back I made two Indian dishes back-to-back: Aarti Sequeira’s Kheema from FoodNetwork.com and the one for Vegetarian Korma on AllRecipes.com. Both dishes involve curry, peas and tomatoes, but the Kheema sports ground beef and there are different veggies involved.
The other problem is that I remember distinctly liking one of the results and not really being into the other. I want to say the Kheema turned out to be a little greasy, though that could have been the result of me not draining the meat as well as I should have. I also felt like one had more flavor than the other. It’s really annoying not remembering which we liked and which we didn’t because I don’t want to waste time making something we won’t like for a second time. Ah well, I’ll give one of them another shot in the near future and let you know how it goes.
It was unseasonably hot last week, which made menu planning relatively difficult. I didn’t want to make things that would heat up the house too much, but didn’t really succeed. The first thing I decided to make required not one, but two pans of boiling water. We wound up turning the AC on because it was so hot by the time my wife got home, but I think it was overall a good dinner.
I should tell you what I made, it was Smitten Kitchen’s Pea Pesto, which I’ve actually made and enjoyed several times before. Like I said, the recipe revolves around two pots of water, one big for the pasta — I went with rotini instead of the linguine the recipe suggests — and one smaller one to cook the peas. I also prepared a bowl of cold water to shock the peas once they were done cooking.
While the peas boiled, I worked on the rest of the pesto ingredients. I followed the recipe, but also threw in the last few usable leaves of basil I had from an earlier meal. After shocking the peas, they went into the food processor and that component was all set. Once the pasta was done cooking, everything went into a bowl and got mixed up together.
I would love to make this with fresh peas, but my grocery store never seems to have them. As it is, the end result hinges on how good the peas are. This batch wasn’t quite as sweet as some previous ones, so I was missing a bit of that sweetness, but I really do love how simple and very good this recipe is. It works just as well cold as hot and you could also cook up some chicken and include that in the bowl if you so please.