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Friday, January 29, 2010

out of the winter doldrums


i have found this week, that aside from baking 79 red velvet cupcakes, what has snapped me out of the winter doldrums has been changing to a new weekly organic box. normally, i'm quite religious about getting the "dogme kasse," which contains exclusively danish-produced veggies. and although årstiderne, who provides our weekly box (they bring it right to our door on fridays), has gotten much better about the selection that box contains than they were when i first started it a couple of years ago, i will admit to being a bit overloaded on root veg and cabbage. so when they recently introduced a box that contains all you need for three full meals - meat, condiments, veg, even eggs (as you can see above) - i had to make the switch, at least for a few weeks, to get me over this winter slump.

the picture above (in the early morning pre-sunrise yellow light of my yellow kitchen) gives you an idea of what the box contains, tho' it's different every week. this week, the three kinds of meat (not pictured above) are an organic chicken breast (it's the whole thing, bone in and skin on, not like those watery chicken breasts you can buy bulk in the grocery store), tender beef cubes (perfect for a stir-fry or goulash) and some interesting fresh beef sausages. to go with them, we got three large sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, carrots, 7 onions, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, broccoli, two yellow peppers, brown mushrooms, a little container of dried figs, a lemon, a loaf of dense rye bread, organic quinoa, and half a dozen pretty brown eggs.

three recipes, which use the provided ingredients, come with the box as well. the recipes are designed to be made within about a half an hour-45 minutes, so they're quick without being fast food. that has been most helpful to me, as it has returned me to long-forgotten stir-frys and lifted me from my dinnertime rut. i haven't tried this week's recipes yet, as the box just arrived this morning, but i thought i'd share them with you.

panfried chicken breast and quinoa salad

1 organic chicken breast (on the bone)
black quinoa (1dl per person)
1 handful of dried figs
1-2 onions
1 yellow pepper
1 cucumber
1 small cabbage (mine is a spidskål - which is lighter than normal cabbage and pointed at the end, i don't know what it's called in english)
1/2 lemon
olive oil
salt & freshly ground pepper

measure 1 dl quinoa per person, but it's ok to cook a bit extra, as the salad tastes great the next day. rinse the quinoa in warm water. boil twice as much water as you have quinoa (4dl quinoa = 8dl water) and add the quinoa and a pinch of salt. put a lid on the pot and boil for 15 minutes. turn off the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes.

take a paper towel and dry any excess moisture from the chicken breast, salt. heat a bit of olive oil in the pan and lay the breast in, skin side down, browning for about 10 minutes. turn it and fry for another 25-30 minutes (you'll need less time than this if you use ordinary chicken breasts, these times are if the bone is in). add a bit of water as it fries and put a lid on it to keep it moist. the chicken is done when the juices run clear when poked with a fork.

while the chicken is frying, cube the figs and onion, cucumber and yellow pepper. slice the cabbage into thin strips. 

mix together a dressing of lemon juice, salt, pepper and olive oil. if you have some fresh herbs around, you can add those. give it a bit of zing with the mustard and honey or chili.

mix the warm quinoa with your dressing and allow it to cool before adding the veggies and figs. 

serve the salad together with the simple chicken breast.

* * *

beef sauté with mushrooms, broccoli, carrots and peppers and sweet potato puré

1 package of beef in cubes
750 grams potatoes
1 large sweet potato
1-2 onions
1 package of mushrooms
3-4 carrots
1 yellow pepper
1 broccoli
1/2 lemon
olive oil
salt & freshly ground pepper

peel the two kinds of potatoes, cut them into similar-sized pieces and cook them in water until they are tender. 

dice the onions, cut the mushrooms in quarters and peel and slice the carrots into diagonal pieces. divide the broccoli and slice the stem into bite-sized pieces. slice the pepper into strips.

drain the potatoes, leaving just a bit of water and mash them. add salt, pepper and butter and a bit of milk to taste and to get the consistency you want. 

heat some oil in a pan and brown the meat. add the onions and mushrooms. when they are golden, add the carrots. turn down the heat and add the broccoli and pepper and sauté for 3-4 minutes before adding 1-2dl water. put a lid on and steam for 4-5 minutes, then add salt, pepper and a bit of lemon juice.

serve the beef with the potato mash. 

you could marinade the beef in a bit of soy or leftover red wine and olive oil and whatever herbs you have around. the recipe doesn't include that because they are trying to stick to what's provided in the box, but you can always use what's already in your larder.

* * *
beef sausages and potato tortilla

this is tortilla in the spanish sense, not the american one - so it's an omelette.

1 package of sausages
6 eggs
500 grams potatoes
1-2 onions
1 yellow pepper
handful of cherry tomatoes
olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper

peel and dice the potatoes. heat up 2T olive oil in a pan and add the potaotes. fry them until they are golden and nearly done. in the meantime, dice the onions and pepper and add it to the potatoes when they're nearly done. fry until the onions and pepper and soft.

whisk the eggs with salt, pepper and a bit of water or milk. pour them over the potatoes, put a lid on and turn the pan down to low. cook them for 15-20 minutes. you can add some grated cheese on top if you like and have some at hand.

sauté the sausages until golden brown in another pan.

half the cherry tomatoes and scatter them over the top of the tortilla before serving. serve with a slice of rye bread.


* * *

the omelette is actually one of those standards i make at least once a week because everyone around here loves it and it's an easy dinner. when i make it, i generally throw in some chorizo and i would put the sausages in this one as well, rather than serving them on the side, but either way, an omelette is a solid winter dinner. i usually top ours with undressed mixed leaves or baby spinach to have a bit of green.

even if you don't have a service in your area that will bring your dinner ingredients to your door, i hope you find a bit of inspiration in these. i'll add some photos to this post as i make the dinners this week.

4 comments:

Magpie said...

That is a clever twist on a "box" of food - I've not heard of a company in these parts putting it together like that, and with recipes. Cool.

There's a pointy cabbage called arrowhead - maybe that's what you got.

julochka said...

i tried the chicken and quinoa salad this evening and it was DELICIOUS! i will most definitely make the quinoa salad again. i set my chicken breast on slices of orange and rubbed the skin with orange before baking it and it was beautifully, lightly orangey. a definite winner!

Bee said...

I've never cooked with quinoa. I must try that . . . and also the grain you gave me in Denmark.

Denmark must have the best-ever organic box scheme . . . although Anne's (in California) has also made me really envious.

Nabula said...

The box is a great way to add variety and new ideas! I think the cabbage you had was a sweetheart or pointed cabbage. As a Brit who lives with a Dutchman in Belgium, I find this food translation website really useful: www.foodlexicon.net

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