Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Alex Runs, Joh Cooks p. 5

Posted: November 5th, 2009 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Alex Runs Joh Cooks, Johanna | Tags: , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

WOW!! Can you believe we’re already at part 5 of this series??? I know I can’t! Here’s the thing, though. We’re at part 5. Alex’s race is less than 3 weeks away. The donation deadline is in a week. And with that in mind, I’m imploring you. Please. Leave me a comment, so I can give her a dollar, or 2 dollars from you. So I can do what little bit I can, to show her how proud of her I am for doing this amazing thing to raise money to fight the disease that has hurt her family. Tell your friends, send them links, Tweet this, do whatever you have to do. I’m willing to donate for every single comment I get on one of these posts by November 15th.

Saumon Aux LentilesThere are 2 excellent things about this dish. The first, is that it’s french. The second, is that it involves salmon, lentils, and leeks. Maybe that adds up to 4 good things, but either way….. It’s a great great dish. (And yes, in case you’re scoring at home, Salmon is ok with Alex the Vegetarian. I checked.) The excellent things about this dish expand the more you look into it, but before I go into those, I’ll go into one unnecessary thing.
There is a compound butter made with tarragon, chives, mustard, and lemon juice. I love compound butters, but they’re not exactly great for your health — slapping an extra tablespoon of butter onto a salmon filet that you’ve cooked in butter, seems excessive, even to my butter-loving soul. In that spirit, I would advocate for skipping the additional quantity of Mustard-Herb butter.  2 tablespoons of butter should suffice, and halve the rest of the things in it.

And now, on with the recipe. Saumon aux Lentiles – or, Salmon with Lemtils.

I’m going to suggest that you follow the link to get the ingredients and items, since I got this directly from Gourmet March 2008, and in a shocking turn of events, I followed it to the letter. (more or less) You can also totally halve this and serve it for 2. I had a LOT of lentils left over, although I only cooked 2 portions of salmon, so I ended up eating lentils with fried eggs the next day, and it was delightful. So, for what that’s worth.

Step 1: The Lentils
Put the green lentils, water, and 3/4tsp of salt in a pot, bring to a boil, Simmer until just tender, and let them hang out for 5 minutes. Then, take out half a cup of the cooking water (it will be a funky color. Do not be deterred) and drain.
Zey Are FronchOne CupAvec du SelThe flavor's in the funk.

Step 2: The Leeks
I’m pretty sure that the leek is my favorite vegetable. Unless a chickpea is a vegetable, in which case, it wins. Are legumes vegetables? I know that in French, “legume” means “veggie” but I need a ruling. ALYSSA!!! You’re a Bio teacher – are chickpeas vegetables?
Regardless. Leeks rock. Except for one thing. They’re kind of a pain in the ass to clean, because they grow in sandy soil. So in order to clean them, you lop off the dark leafy bits, and you lop off the white root-looking end. Then, you cut them in half, top to bottom, so you have 2 long halves (ish). Then, you put each half round-side up, cut IT in half the long way, and then rotate your knife and cut them into half-moons the short way. I promise, this is all worth it, and there will be pictures. Once you have all of your leek bits cut up, place them in a big bowl or pot of cold water, and swish. Then, walk away.
Lop the root end off Each long half, cut in halfIt's hard to cut while taking a photoSwish, and walk away

While the sand and grit from the leeks is sinking to the bottom of the pot or bowl, get out a saute pan and put in some butter. Then, when the butter is melted, gently scoop out the leeks, leaving the grit at the bottom of the receptacle. Plop them in the saute pan and cook until softened. Then, add the lentils, their cooking liquid, and 2 tablespoons of the compound butter, and cook until the lentils are warm.
Carefully scoopingSauteing until softThe mustard-herb butterZee lentils!!!

Step 3: The Salmon
The rest of this dish is quite simple. Pat your salmon filets (skin on is fine) VERY dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Melt some butter in a non-stick pan, and get it pretty darn hot. Once the butter stops foaming, put the filets in, and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, depending on how well you like salmon cooked. Then, put some lentils and leeks on a plate, and top with the salmon. Easy peasy, one-two-threesy.
Fishy Fishy FISHY!!!!!*cough* Till the foam subsides. Ish. The flip. Zee bed of zee lentils and zee leeks

This dish is delicious. It’s frenchy. It’s got lots and lots of good protein, and fiber, and good fats. If you didn’t want to use the butter-sauteing method for the Salmon, by all means you could broil it. The lentils and leeks will still provide plenty of flavor, and salmon is a flavorful fish, although I really like the crisp that sauteing gave the skin.
Enjoy, and remember:
Alex Runs. I Cook. You Comment. I Donate.
WE ALL FIGHT CANCER.


Alex Runs, Joh Cooks p.4

Posted: November 3rd, 2009 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Alex Runs Joh Cooks, Johanna, Rachael Ray, cheap, delish, vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

We’re back, with another installment of Alex Runs, Joh Cooks. This time around, we’re doing a straight up pasta dish. As always, the rule is that I will donate money for every single comment I get from you guys, up to 2 comments per e-mail address per post. So type away, tell me what you think, say the word “Duck” or “pants” or “filbert”. It all counts. Together we can fight cancer!!! Also – if you want to just throw some money at Alex on your own, DO IT!!!!!

Pasta with Swiss Chard and Lemon-Ricotta Cheese This recipe, I know Alex will enjoy. I hope you all do too. I borrowed it from Rachael Ray, and tweaked it a bit.
It bears strong resemblances to my Lemon-Ricotta Orzo, which Alex enjoyed when she was here back in July, and which I think everybody loves, because how can you not love lemony ricotta cheese, and pasta???

Even better, this version uses whole wheat penne rigate, which is high in fiber and heart-healthy whole grains, and Swiss Chard, which is a member of the leafy green family and can help you get some more fiber, as well as cancer-fighting antioxidants into your life. You can’t beat that bargain. :)
Whole Wheat Penne with Swiss Chard and Lemony Ricotta.

1 pound Whole Wheat short-cut pasta (penne, penne rigate, rigatoni, cellantani, cavatappi, campanelle, orechiette, the possibilities are endless)
3 cloves garlic – chopped
1 small yellow onion – chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake (or to taste).
1 bunch Swiss Chard, cleaned and coarsely chopped (cut off and toss out any super thick stems, but otherwise just run them under some water and chop them up)
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup ricotta cheese (whole milk or otherwise, if you must, but I’d recommend the whole diary fats. yum!)
1 lemon
Grated Parm, Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the pasta al dente (or a little past if you’re like me. no biggie).
2. Preheat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a big skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, onions, salt, pepper and red pepper flake, and cook for approximately 5 minutes, or until the onions are mushy and turning a little brown on the edges.
3. Add the swiss chard, toss, and let the heat make the chard wilt. Once it does, crank the heat to high, and add the veggie stock and a ladle of the pasta cooking water.
4. Bring the liquid in the skillet to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 6-7 minutes. While that’s happening, combine the ricotta with the zest of the lemon, and some salt and pepper. Put 1/4 cup ish in each serving plate, or y’know, however much looks good to you.
5. Drain the pasta. Squeeze the lemon juice over the Swiss Chard, and throw all the pasta in. Toss everything around to get it nice and coated, and get the flavors mingling. Turn off the heat and add about a cup of the parm, and toss again.
6. To serve, plop the pasta/chard mixture on top of the lemony ricotta cheese, and sprinkle with more parm if you’re like me and can’t get enough. Stir, breathe in, and get that hint of lemony goodness and the joy of some dark leafy greens.

This is probably the best pasta dish for you if you’re trying to be good about not eating too much, because if you fail to moderate, you’re eating something PACKED with nutrients, healthy stuff, and yum. Who doesn’t love that?? Plus, the carbs will fuel your next run, and the protein in the greens will help bolster your energy for a longer burn.


Alex Runs, Joh Cooks, pt.3!!!

Posted: November 1st, 2009 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Alex Runs Joh Cooks, Johanna, cheap, vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments »

Just when you thought it was safe….. here comes another awesome and delicious vegetarian recipe, designed to help Alex run better, help her eat better, and help us fight cancer better. Please remember that for every comment with at least a name (that’s right, you can leave me the word “yum” and I’ll take it), I will donate to Alex’s cause. Her Half Marathon is coming up VERY SOON so we’re going to have a small blitz of recipes to keep her full and focused, and try to raise the donation total.

Vegetable Quinoa Salad I get really, really fired up about grains. I love them, and I love when they surprise me. Sometimes you read things about brown rice that surprise you. Sometimes, I order Barilla Plus multigrain pasta and it turns out to be the most delicious thing ever.

And then….. there’s quinoa.

Quinoa is basically a superduper grain. It’s high in fiber, it’s high in protein, it’s gluten-free, and it’s basically remarkable. The only thing you really need to know about it is that in order to get the most out of it, you need to soak it for a few hours in some water before you cook it. Otherwise, it’s easier and quicker to cook than rice, better for you than couscous (which is really just tiny pasta crumbs), more balanced than polenta, and delicious! Plus, it has a very interesting texture, and it’s super versatile.

To wit: I made Vegetable Quinoa salad. This isn’t really a hard-and-fast recipe, because you can change this up to fit what’s in season, what looks good, what you want to put in your vinaigrette, etc. Play around with it.

1 cup quinoa, soaked in cold water, and rinsed thoroughy
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 butternut squash, cut into cubes, sprinkled with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted at 375 until soft
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup kalamata olives (or other salty black olives) pitted and chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins
Olive Oil
Balsamic vinegar (I used some lovely blackcurrant balsamic that I spent a fortune on but any type is fine)

Bring the quinoa and stock to a boil (covered). Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

Combine olive oil and vinegar in the bottom of a large bowl, season to taste, until you have a vinaigrette. You’re going to need to make a lot, because Quinoa will absorb a TON of dressing. Add in the squash, tomatoes, olives, and golden raisins. Season with salt and pepper.
When the quinoa has finished cooking, let it cool a little, and then toss it with a fork like you would couscous. Add the quinoa to the bowl with the veggies and vinaigrette, and stir to combine. Eat. Enjoy.

This is great with the quinoa still warm and the veggies all cool. It’s great with everything cold. It’s good to add to, because if you realize you need to use up your slivered almonds before they go bad, they’ll taste great in here. Have some steamed or sauteed kale or chard left over?? Toss it in, and enjoy. Like tofu or want some extra protein? Throw it in!

This makes a TON, and you can eat it for several days by fixing things. Plus,it feels light, so if you’re tapering you’re not going to feel guilty because you have a lead weight in your stomach.
The things I do for you…..
Comments = Dollars for Cancer Research!!! Hit it up!


It’s AlIIIIIIIIIIIIVEEEEE

Posted: October 29th, 2009 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Alex Runs Joh Cooks, Chicken, Johanna, Silliness, vegetarian | 2 Comments »

Hello friends! As you may have noticed over the past week, PGUK has had some serious troubles. Most of them stemming from server issues.

However!!! We are back, live, and with no lost content! So never fear, your favorite lady bloggers (we ARE your favorites, right?????) can get back to their rigorous cooking-and-eating schedule (like we ever got off it) and fill you in on every bit of it!

For now, I’ll leave you wtih a preview of what’s coming from me on PG:

Alex Runs, Joh Cooks is BACK with 3 protein-packed recipes – spoiler alert: 1 of them is FRENCH!!
Poulet Provencal, another AMAZING recipe from the March 2008 Gourmet Magazine
Apple. Cider. DONUTS
The most outstanding Mushroom Risotto you’ve ever eaten.
An all-new take on Eggplant Parm

And much, MUCH MORE!!!

Get excited, my friends. Very very excited. :)


Alex Runs, Joh Cooks p. 2

Posted: September 3rd, 2009 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Alex Runs Joh Cooks, Johanna, pasta, quick, spicy, vegetarian | 26 Comments »

I return, with another runner-centric post to help my dear dear friend Alex raise funds for her half-marathon to help fund cancer research!!! Once again, or if you’re new to the game, here are the rules:

I’m making a pledge to donate to this race, and in an effort to get as many people involved as possible, here’s the plan: I’m creating a category of recipes and posts called “Alex Runs, Joh Cooks” — for every comment I get on one of these posts, I’m donating money to Alex’s cause. Tell your friends. Tell your family. Tell runners, or any other athletes you know. Tell people – I would rather not be able to afford my donation goal, than not be able to give my friend support.

The Rules: Each individual comment counts, up to 2 per person per post. You don’t have to give insight – you just have to leave your name (although I welcome your insights!!!) Check Alex’s site, check the blog, leave your name here, and Alex will get money!!

Tonight, we also give a shout-out to my amazing friend Laura, as well, because Laura is in training for the NYC Marathon and has mentioned to me that one of her perpetual cravings has been peanut butter.
Peanut Butter Sesame Soba Noodles of JOY!!!!!As you may know, Peanut butter is fabulous. There are restaurants devoted solely to its advancement. It can be used in various ways, as a sauce, as a binder, as a protein. As long as you get the sugar-free kind, you’re not wasting your calories or carbohydrates. In the spirit of peanut butter being long used in Asian cuisine, I made Peanut Butter-Sesame Soba Noodles! You may not know this, but soba noodles are buckwheat noodles that usually also contain whole wheat flour. They contain tons of amino acids, including lysine, as well as many anti-oxidants. 100grams of soba noodles produces more energy and more amino acids than either traditional pasta or bread, while still giving you some carb energy. In general, soba noodles plus peanut butter is a great way to bump up your proteins in the days leading up to a big run, especially if you are a vegetarian, like my girl Alex.
Peanut Butter-Sesame Soba Noodles
4oz./half a package Soba noodles
2 tbs sesame seeds
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tbs olive oil
1/4-1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tbs cumin
1-2 tsp soy sauce (optional, depending on your sodium levels/preferences)
3-4 tbs sesame oil
Optional: Sriracha, other hot sauce, red chili flake, cayenne pepper to taste.
Soba Noodles in Boiling WaterDry-toasted Sesame SeedsThe Usual Suspects

1. Bring a pot of water to the boil, and drop the soba noodles in. You don’t need to rinse the noodles before you cook them, although you WILL need to rinse them after, because buckwheat is gummy/sticky occasionally. 6-8 minutes should do it. When they’re done, drain them, rinse them with warm water, drain, and rinse a second time.
2. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of sesame seeds (to taste) in a dry skillet until they start to smell nice, then remove them to a bowl.
3. In the skillet that you toasted the sesame seeds in, add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, and the 2 crushed garlic cloves. If using, this is the time to drop in some crushed red pepper flake, and stir a lot. This should be about medium heat, you don’t want to burn anything. You’re trying to infuse the flavor of the garlic into the oil, as well as the spice of the red pepper flake. When you pull the Soba out of the water, take the garlic out of the skillet, add the peanut butter, and drop the heat.
4. As the peanut butter melts and begins to thin, whisk in the soy sauce if you’re using it, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, and the cumin. If you’re using hot sauce, now’s the time as well. Let this get warm, and if it starts to get too thick, add some warm water. If you use cold water, the peanut butter will seize up, get grainy, and just generally refuse to play anymore.

5.When the sauce is heated through, creamy and pretty thin, pull it off the heat, and add the noodles to a big bowl. Drizzle another tablespoon of sesame oil onto the noodles, then pour on the sauce. Turn turn turn the noodles in the sauce, taste, adjust the seasonings, and sprinkle on the sesame seeds.

While this meal is delicious and amazing, we did not eat it alone. In fact, we paired it with gazpacho. While it was a little weird in the sense that we were eating a cold soup, and lukewarm noodles, it’s a good pairing from a nutrition standpoint. To make the simplest gazpacho, take any vegetables you like, (we used cucumber, a quarter of a red onion, 2 garlic cloves, 1 bell pepper, 1 fryer pepper, and 6-7 tomatoes) chop them into chunks, and put them in your blender. Dash in some red wine vinegar, some salt and pepper, and if you have it, some tomato juice. If you don’t, that’s totally fine – it’ll work. Blend it until you like the texture, and eat immediately, after an hour, a few days later, whenever. Gazpacho loves you back.

Now remember!! Comment Comment Comment so I can give Alex money!! She deserves it, and she’s working hard!!!


Alex Runs, Joh Cooks, p.1

Posted: August 18th, 2009 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Alex Runs Joh Cooks, Johanna, cheap, delish, quick, spicy, vegetarian | 25 Comments »

I threw a dinner party on Saturday – Jesse and I threw one. In honor of Julia Child’s 97th birthday. I will post about it as soon as I’ve processed it. There are not many food photos, because the food disappeared, although one of my friends apparently took a few more. Until I can sort out the post, here is something to tide you over.

Think of it as an hors d’oeuvre.

This is a new facet of this blog, something I’m incredibly happy to be a part of. It’s for a good cause and it’s promoting something that’s important to me.
My college roommate, and dear friend, Alex, is running a half-marathon (my apologies to those I told a full marathon) as part of a charity team, to raise money for cancer research. This is a cause close to both my heart, since my Grampa lost the fight to lymphoma in 2006, and Alex’s since she has lost both her cousin and her father to blood cancers(in whose honor she’s running and raising funds). Please check out her site and support her.

I’m making a pledge to donate to this race, and in an effort to get as many people involved as possible, here’s the plan: I’m creating a category of recipes and posts called “Alex Runs, Joh Cooks” — for every comment I get on one of these posts, I’m donating money to Alex’s cause. Tell your friends. Tell your family. Tell runners, or any other athletes you know. Tell people – I would rather not be able to afford my donation goal, than not be able to give my friend support.

The Rules: Each individual comment counts, up to 2 per person per post. You don’t have to give insight – you just have to leave your name (although I welcome your insights!!!) Check Alex’s site, check the blog, leave your name here, and Alex will get money!! These recipes will be largely vegetarian (because Al is a vegetarian), lots of veggies, lots of protein, lots of energy and fuel. They will not be difficult.
You can do this.  She can do this. Help me help her, and everybody else!!

Seared Tofu with Lentil Salad and Spicy-Sesame DressingThis, my friends, is tasty and easy.

Seared Tofu, Lentil Salad with Spicy-Sesame Dressing

1/2 container Extra-firm Tofu
1 cup dried lentils
1/2 red onion
1/2 carrot
1 stalk celery.
Sriracha, Sesame Oil, Low-Sodium Soy Sauce, Cider Vinegar (if you like)
Assorted veggies, any type you choose. I used a green bell pepper, half a zucchini, and a crap-ton of heirloom tiny tomatoes.

1. Put lentils, 1/2 of the onion (so 1/4 of the TOTAL onion), carrots, and celery in a pot. Cut the onion, carrot and celery into large chunks. Cover by 2 inches with water. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. If the water boils off, add more. Keep them covered for the first 10 minutes. Taste a lentil, and check every 2-3 minutes until the lentils are soft on the outside, but still have some bite. Maybe 10 more minutes, tops.
Lentils and veggies2. While the lentils cook, cut up into small dice the vegetables – pepper, zucchini, tomatoes, and the rest of the red onion. Put them in a big bowl.
3. When the lentils are done, drain them, pull out the big chunks of celery, onion and carrot, and rinse the lentils under cold water. Drain and rinse a second time to really cool them down, then put them in the bowl with the veggies. Season the veggies a little with salt and pepper. Taste, and make sure they taste good on their own. This is very important.

4. Put a big skillet or grill pan on the heat, and get it SCREAMIN’ hot. Combine a teaspoon of Sriracha, a teaspoon of soy sauce, and 2 teaspoons of sesame oil. Whisk together and adjust to your flavor preferences. Cut your tofu brick into strips and brush one side of each strip with the marinade.

5. Put the tofu marinade side down on your pan. You don’t need any additional oil. Sear for about 2 minutes on one side, brush the side that’s up with the marinade, and flip. This flip is why we need extra-firm tofu.

6. Bring it all together. Take the tofu off, and let it cool a bit. Take whatever marinade you may have left, and add more of all the elements: More sriracha, more soy sauce (but not too much, let’s not be crazy) more sesame oil, and probably some regular oil to thin it out. You’re going to need between a third and half of a cup total.
Assembly: pour the dressing over the veggies. stir, gently, to combine. Taste, and dish out. Put a tofu slice on top of the salad, and call it dinner. 

Tofu, side 1Tofu, side 2The usual suspects

Enjoy, and help me help Alex!! I cook, she runs, we all win!!!!