Making Justice Real

The Official Blog of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia

Recipes from a Socially-Distanced Kitchen

In this time of uncertainty, we have found ourselves living a “new normal”. However, in the midst of everyday challenges and changes, one thing is certain to remain the same: we have to eat!

For over 20 years, Legal Aid has had a strong social connection with food—specifically, a highly anticipated weekly tradition: Friday Treats. Every Friday morning, staff members gather together in the break room to enjoy delicious sweet and savory breakfast items brought in our coworkers. Friday Treats offers the opportunity for staff to mingle across units and learn more about one another on a personal level.

In a similar spirit, as our summer fundraising campaign has evolved, so too has Legal Aid’s culture of building community through food. At the end of the Campaign, the top fundraising firms gather together in a friendly Iron Chef style cooking competition to celebrate and acknowledge the Campaign’s success.

This past year saw the advent of two new food centered events: the aptly named Baking Justice Real baking competition and a Chili Cook-Off!

In true Legal Aid fashion, “Recipes from a Socially-Distanced Kitchen” is our way of staying connected through the fellowship of food by sharing our favorite recipes here!

1) Dark Rye Bread – submitted by Rebecca Harris

2) Festive Tomato Salad (Mediterranean-Inspired) – submitted by Candis Scippio

3) Seared Steaks Mushroom Agrodolce – submitted by Rondell Jordan


Dark Rye Bread

Ingredients:

To Proof Yeast

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons active dry yeast (not instant)

To Make Dough

  • 1 ½ cups rye flour
  • 3 cups bread flour, divided
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 ½ tablespoons caraway seeds
  • 1 tablespoon ground coffee
  • About ⅛ – ¼ cup cocoa powder (I did not measure)
  • 1 tablespoon honey

To Form and Bake Bread

  • Additional flour
  • Cornmeal
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon cornstarch

Instructions:

  • Proof yeast: warm water in microwave until warm but not hot. Add sugar and yeast. Let sit for 7-10 minutes while measuring out other dough ingredients.
  • Make dough: Mix rye flour, 1 ½ cups of the bread flour, salt, caraway, coffee, and cocoa powder in large bowl. Add honey and dissolved yeast. Mix. Add approximately 1 ½ cups bread flour, a little at a time, until the dough forms a ball and doesn’t stick too much to the sides of the bowl, though it will still feel somewhat tacky to the touch. Knead about seven minutes on a floured surface. Dough should feel smooth and elastic after kneading, but surface will still feel textured due to rye flour.
  • Proof dough: Transfer dough to lightly oiled bowl. Flip dough after placing in bowl, so there’s a bit of oil on the whole surface. Cover bowl with dish towel. Let rise about 75 minutes until dough has approximately doubled in size.
  • Shape dough: Remove dough from bowl. Hold dough so your thumbs are on top and your fingers are underneath. Pull at dough with your thumbs, like you’re turning the dough ball inside out. Do this a few times. Then shape dough into a rough rectangle. Try to avoid creating folds and creases in the dough, as these will affect how the bread bakes.
  • Proof dough a second time: Place loaf on baking sheet covered with cornmeal. Let rise for forty minutes.
  • Bake: When dough has been rising for 40-50 minutes, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Take a shallow baking pan and add an inch or two of water. Place on bottom rack in oven. In a small bowl, mix ¼ cup water and ¼ teaspoon cornstarch. Microwave for 40 seconds. Brush on dough. Slash loaf with a knife four times across the top, about ½ – 1 inch deep, making sure each slash extends all the way down the sides of the loaf. When oven is fully preheated and loaf is prepped, bake for 40-50 min until thermometer inserted perpendicularly into loaf about 1- 1 ½ inches from the bottom reads 205-210 degrees F.
  • Let cool.
  • Slice half the loaf, place in Ziploc bags, and store in freezer to prevent staleness. Leave other half out to be eaten immediately in large quantities.

Eat throughout week with:

  • Butter and orange marmalade
  • Eggs and veggie sausage
  • Caramelized onions and gruyere cheese

Festive Tomato Salad
Mediterranean-Inspired

Ingredients:

  • 2 heaping cups multicolored cherry tomatoes (approx. 30) – I use Sunset Wild Wonders but you could cut up larger tomatoes of different colors just the same
  • ½ large red onion, finely chopped (I sometimes use a little more; depends on your taste)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

  • Easy peasy! Wash the tomatoes, slice them in half (I do lengthwise, but it doesn’t really matter), and put them into a salad serving bowl.
  • Add your finely chopped red onion.
  • Cut the lemon in half (horizontally this time!) and squeeze the juice in, straining the seeds out through your fingers or a strainer/manual juicer.
  • Add the tablespoon (or more) of dried oregano (I like to rub the oregano between the heels of my hands as it passes through to the bowl—the friction “wakes” it up).
  • Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil (to your liking, I use about 2 tablespoons).
  • Add sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (I more often use multicolor peppercorns for this salad)

Mix well and enjoy!


Seared Steaks & Mushroom Agrodolce

Ingredients:

  • 2 Steaks
  • ¾ lb Golden or Red Potatoes
  • 4 oz Cremini Mushrooms
  • ¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Pickled Peruvian Peppers
  • ¼ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 4 oz Brussels Sprouts
  • ¼ tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 tbsp Weeknight Hero Spice Blend (Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Smoked Paprika & Whole Dried Parsley)

Instructions:

  • Prepare the ingredients:
  • Place an oven rack in the center of the oven, then preheat to 450 degrees F.
  • Wash and dry the fresh produce.
  • Medium dice the potatoes.
  • Cut off and discard the stem ends of the brussels sprouts; halve lengthwise.
  • Thinly slice the mushrooms.
  • Roast the potatoes & brussels sprouts:
  • Place the diced potatoes and halved brussels sprouts in a bowl. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil; season with salt, pepper, and enough of the spice blend to coat (you may have extra). Toss to thoroughly coat.
  • Reserving the bowl, transfer to a sheet pan and arrange in an even layer.
  • Roast 19 to 21 minutes, or until browned and tender when pierced with a fork.
  • Transfer to the reserved bowl. Add the cheese, toss to coat. Taste, season with salt and pepper if desired.
  • Cook the steaks:
  • Meanwhile, pat the steaks dry with paper towels; season with salt and pepper on all sides.
  • In a medium pan, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot.
  • Add the seasoned steaks. Cook, turning occasionally, 8-10 minutes for medium-rare, or until browned and cooked to your desired degree of doneness.**
  • Leaving any browned bits (or fond) in the pan, transfer to a cutting board; let rest at least 5 minutes.
  • Make the mushroom agrodolce:
  • While the steaks rest, in the pan of reserved fond, heat a drizzle of olive oil on medium heat until hot.
  • Add the sliced mushrooms in an even layer. Cook, without stirring, 1-2 minutes, or until lightly browned. Season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, 1-2 minutes, or until slightly softened.
  • Add the sugar, vinegar (carefully, as the liquid may splatter), and as much of the red pepper flakes as you’d like, depending on how spicy you’d like the dish to be. Cook, stirring frequently and scraping up any fond, 1-3 minutes, or until the mushrooms are coated and the sauce is slightly thickened.
  • Turn off the heat. Taste, then season with salt and pepper if desired.
  • Slice the steaks & serve your dish:
  • Find the lines of muscle (or grain) on the rested steaks; slice crosswise against the grain.
  • Serve the sliced steaks with the roasted potatoes and brussels sprouts. Top the steaks with the mushroom agrodolce. Garnish with the peppers. Enjoy!
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