Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Midweek Food Musings: Dinner Despite Outages all Around

Just came from a pre-dawn drive through my neighborhood. Beyond my block, there are no traffic lights...and no apartment lights. So many streets are impassible, and because there are no lights, trees  resting across a streets suddenly appear, looming large, ominous, and forbidding...and of course, preventing passage. There were so few cars, and maybe it was my impression but those I encountered seemed extra polite at the non-working traffic lights. The moon, now waning (right?! It was just full on Monday), looked out from behind the clouds... For a wonderful and welcome moment, la bella luna lessened the eeriness of the darkness--so unusual in this area--around me.

The darkness is a stark reminder of what so many of us have just experienced. And as images of the devastation so many incurred flash through my mind--of homes washed away or burnt down--I am brought back to "reality." Almost.

In my parents' home, thankfully, things have been quite different. Since they don't work, this "invasion" of family and friends has been a welcome opportunity for the visits they long for.  I'm also happy, of course, to have family/friends over who don't have power at home (and even those that do!); this has made these gatherings feel more like holiday celebrations than the result of a natural disaster. Until, of course, we hear the news.

So though I'm sharing last night's menu and a recipe today, it's a with a bit of a heavy heart. Meals go on no matter what--and so I'm delighted to share food ideas--but my thoughts travel to those who are not as lucky.

Post-Sandy Dinner Menu:

Roasted Zucchini, Red Onions and Carrots, Topped with Parmesan and Parsley
Grilled Sausage, Tomatoes, and Onions
Plating Dinner for 12 
Sautéed Mushrooms (with sliced garlic, a bit of butter, olive oil, and white wine--topped with flat-leaf parsley)
Quiche (A welcome "must-cook" gift from friends without electricity!)
Cous-Cous with Roasted Red Peppers, Roasted Tomatoes, Chicken, and Arugula (Variation--rather building--on the recipe posted here!)
Fresh Green Salad with Clementine Sections

With Brother Peter and Dad (See the fire behind Peter? He's the grill master!)

Mixed Grains with Roasted Red Peppers and Tomatoes, Golden Raisins, Toasted Almonds...and the Last of My Garden Basil 

This recipe was inspired by a sample I tasted in Trader Joe's; they had combined their Harvest Grains Blend (which has couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans, and red quinoa) and a jarred bruschetta with golden raisins. Being the big savory/sweet fan that I am, I decided to try it on my own--but without the jarred sauce. I roasted red peppers, red tomatoes and garlic, and combined this "sauce" with the cooked grains, and with golden raisins, and finally with toasted almonds and fresh basil. The result? Lovely! And--if you have leftovers--you can "build" on this by adding a protein (if desired!) like shredded roast chicken (or grilled sausage!)--and more. By the way, it also goes beautifully with the Golden Beet Soup recipe I posted on Monday! 

Serves 10 to 12

1 pound blended grains, or those of your choice! 
6 roasted red peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
4 roasted red tomatoes, skin removed, coarsely chopped (but keep the juice!) 
3 cloves roasted garlic
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper 
3/4 cup golden raisins (or more, according to taste!)
1/2 cup toasted almond slivers (or more, according to taste!) 
10 fresh basil leaves, coarsely torn 

Cook the grains according to directions. In a medium-size bowl, combine the roasted red peppers, tomatoes, and garlic. Add to the grains and mix well. If you feel you're short of liquid, add some vegetable or chicken broth (or water!). Add the raisins, toasted peppers, and fresh basil leaves. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Mixed Grains Dish--

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