Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Potatoes, pancetta, pomegranates

Simple dinners have been the norm this week, with Trader Joe's purchases as a starting point.  Yesterday, I sauteed kale and paired it with a cup of that trusty tomato-and-roasted-red-pepper soup (the low-sodium version), which I simmered for a while with chopped shallot, frozen corn, and finally a beaten egg, salt, and black pepper.  Pretty good, especially with the thickness from the beaten egg.  Tonight I sauteed the shallot first before adding the soup, and then added some corn and a couple frozen shrimp.

Boring picture, I know

Over the summer, when there was plenty of white corn and cheerfully colored potato varietals at the Farmer's Market, I started making Smitten Kitchen's bacon corn hash, using pancetta instead of bacon, parsley or green onion, and loosely following the recipe's proportions.  Making a single big batch would provide me a week of breakfasts (usually reheated with an egg) in fine fashion.  Now corn is out of season, so tonight I just cooked potatoes with pancetta, adding some rosemary for extra flavor.

Dinner is served.

Corn may be out of season, but pomegranates are definitely in.  A family friend in Davis brought over some delicious homegrown pomegranates during Thanksgiving break, and on Monday Kelly surprised me with another lovely fruit from her boyfriend's tree.  That same afternoon, I listened to Martha Stewart's "Not My Job" interview on Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me and learned about her technique for isolating pomegranate seeds.  I cracked open Kelly's pomegranate during tutorial on Monday night, breaking two plastic knives in the process, but without a bowl or wooden spoon, fingers were still the best (if very messy) approach.  Tonight, though, with one more pomegranate (from Trader Joe's, surprise surprise) sitting on my counter, and my full kitchen armament available, I decided to try Martha's technique.

Step 1: Make 4 cuts through the pomegranate skin, no deeper (so you don't cut into any of the seeds).

Step 2: Separate one of the quarters.  Hold the segment over a bowl and repeatedly whack it with [the edge of] a wooden spoon, which will loosen the seeds.  The whacking requires quite a bit of force, but provides excellent stress relief.

Whack, whack, whack!
One segment emptied, three to go.

Step 3: Repeat with the other segments. 

Step 4: Clean the counter (and in my case, cell phone as well).  Enjoy seeds.  This method is definitely less messy than picking out all the seeds with one's fingers, but some drops of juice still get dispersed.  It helps if one's shirt happens to be pomegranate seed-colored :-).