Saturday, April 3, 2010

buttermilk carrot pancakes/cilantro ginger and lime marinaded chicken, and orrechiette with bacon, wilted radicchio and cabbage/pork fried rice

These three dinners are quick things I've whipped up in the last few weeks based on what I've had lying around in the fridge. The pancakes were only alright, but the other two meals were definitely winners.

carrot buttermilk pancakes with sour cream

These I made to try and use up some of the extra buttermilk I had after I made Irish Soda Bread. I was in a rush to get out the door, so I was just trying to do something simple and easy. Pancakes are the obvious use for buttermilk, but I wanted to make them a little more substantial for dinner, so I decided to grate in two carrots from the co-op to make them into a sort of latke. I also added two eggs, a tablespoon or so of vegetable oil, and enough flour to make it into a spoonable batter. Fried in butter and served with a hefty dollop of sour cream, these were palatable enough, but I'm sure I could make better pancakes if I gave it another shot.

cilantro ginger and lime marinaded chicken, pasta with cabbage, radicchio and bacon

This was my favorite of the three meals. Laura had cooked some chicken earlier in the week, but there was still one breast in the fridge, begging to be cooked rather than be left to spoil. I had a bunch of cilantro and some limes left over from making spinach dip for my birthday party, and we still have a huge ginger root in the fridge that we are only slowly chipping away at. A little fresh ginger goes a long way. I had an inkling that I could combine the three ingredients with some white wine, sesame oil, garlic, salt and pepper for a decent marinade, as it was similar to a preparation my mom uses. A quick peek in my Flavor Bible confirmed my suspicions. I let the chicken marinade for about 45 minutes, and then I just cooked it in the cast iron skillet. SUCH a good flavor combination. I only wish that I had had more than one measly chicken breast.

Meanwhile, I also had half a head of cabbage leftover, and small amount of radicchio from that bloggers' favorite pasta dish. I thinly diced three or four slices of hearty bacon, and fried that up til nice and crispy. I removed that from the pan and cooked half of my remaining cabbage, a fist-sized head of radicchio and some sliced garlic with salt and pepper in the drippings. I added some balsamic after it was starting to get soft, which reduced nicely. I also cooked some orecchiette, and just tossed that with the bacon, cabbage and radicchio. I think I added a little butter to make sure the pasta was all coated, and to make the dish even less healthy. I probably could have sprinkled on some romano cheese, but it didn't occur to me at the time and it was still pretty delicious. Oreccheiette is a pretty hefty pasta, so it stood up well to the hearty mix-ins. Even though I completely winged this and it seems like a strange dish, I would definitely make this again. More specifically, I would highly recommend cooking radicchio with balsamic, as it loses all its bitterness and becomes so sweet and delicious.

The pork fried rice I did not photograph, but it was very similar in spirit to the Mark Bittman recipe that I featured on the blog last month. Once again, I minced up garlic and ginger and fried them in vegetable oil. I used the sesame seeds once again, but I dry toasted them in the pan, in the hopes they'd be crunchier. I think this worked better than frying them with the ginger and garlic. Next I defrosted an old pork chop and and diced it up, sauteing it with scallions, salt and pepper. Then I scrambled an egg and chopped it up. Finally, I took some old rice from the fridge and cooked that until it dried up and got sticky. I still didn't have soy sauce or sesame oil, but I went out and bought some the next day, and they made a world of difference on the leftovers. Fried rice is a great, versatile dish, and I look forward to experimenting with it more in the future.

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