Sunday, December 12, 2010

Nella's Chicken Soup

Organic chicken breast
whole onion
couple cloves of garlic
couple stalks of celery
a couple of green zucchini
a couple of yellow zucchini
2 c. or so of baby carrots
1 fresh tomato
olive oil
1 or 2 chicken bouillon (reduce the salt if you use the bouillon)

Chicken meatballs:
ground chicken breast
1 or 2 c. of parmigiano cheese
4 eggs
1 c. of bread crumbs
finely cut onion (1/4)
finely cut garlic
some fresh parsley finely cut
salt to taste

any type of pastina, ditalini, orzo, acini di pepe, cut spaghettini or

• Wash, peel and cut all vegetables
• Place in a large food processor along with the onion and garlic.
• Make a nice creamy paste of all the vegetable and add to olive oil in a large stock pot
• When the vegetables seem golden add washed chicken breasts and a lot of water to cover the pot, I usually make enough in a very large pot that holds a couple of gallons, of course the ingredients will be in a larger amount
• Let the soup cook until the chicken is fully cooked and a nice oily surface appears

For the meatballs (optional)
• I mix the chicken with all the ingredients, if it is too soft I add more bread
crumbs. Sometimes if I make too much I will freeze some of the mixture
• I make very small/tiny meat balls and I add them to the soup and voilaʼ it is as simple as that, the children love the small sizes and we actually count in Italian how many chicken meatballs they have in their bowl :)
• Add the pasta and cook until done

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound sausage, such as kielbasa or andouille, sliced
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced OR 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain rice, rinsed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 to 4 dashes hot sauce, optional (recommended: Tabasco)
  • 1/2 pound medium shrimp, deveined
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
  • Lemon wedges
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add the kielbasa and saute for 8 to 10 minutes, until browned. Remove the kielbasa to a bowl, and set aside. Add the butter, onion, celery and peppers to the same pot and saute for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the tomato, garlic, jalapeno or cayenne, oregano, thyme, and tomato paste and cook until all the vegetables and herbs are blended well. Add the stock and bring to a rolling boil. Stir in the rice, and add the sausage, bay leaves, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Return to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Add the shrimp, and stir well. Cover the pot, remove it from the heat and allow the jambalaya to steam for 15 minutes before serving.

Garnish with the scallions, parsley, and a dash of hot sauce, if desired. Serve with lemon wedges.

Makes 4 servings
Adapted from the Food Network

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tahini Shortbread Cookies

Tahini (sesame paste) is a brilliant addition to Maura Kilpatrick's buttery shortbread cookies. Not only does it add a fantastic nutty flavor, but it also makes the cookies incredibly crisp and flaky.
  • 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup tahini, stirred
  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt, crushed
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the tahini, confectioners' sugar and salt at medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the flour and beat until incorporated. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead just until it comes together. Divide the dough in half and roll each piece into a 15-inch log, about 1 inch thick. Scatter the sesame seeds on a sheet of parchment paper and roll the logs until completely coated. Roll each log in parchment and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 325° and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Unroll one log and slice it 1/4 inch thick. Arrange the slices on the baking sheets. Bake the cookies in the center and lower-thirds of the oven for about 25 minutes, or until golden, shifting the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking. Slide the parchment onto a rack and let the cookies cool completely. Repeat with the second log of dough.

The cookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Makes 100 cookies

Recipe by Maura Kilpatrick (Sofra), via Food & Wine

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Orange Coriander Sangria

This is a sure-fire crowd pleaser adapted from "Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean"
by Ana Sortun; Chef/owner of Oleana Restaurant in Cambridge via The Recipe Files. This is seriously addictive and a tad bit stronger than your average sangria.
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed orange jucie (use the best oranges you can find)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups dry, floral white wine like a Verdejo or a  Chenin Blanc from the Loire (should be a fairly decent wine but doesn't have to be pricey)
  • 1 cup cognac or extremely good brandy
  • 1 cup sparkling water
  • A splash or two of Cointreau (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon orange blossom water (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar or turbinado sugar, for rimming the glass
  • 1 or 2 oranges for slicing
Toast the coriander seeds over medium-high heat in a saute pan until fragrant. Remove one teaspoon of the seeds and set aside.

Add the orange juice and sugar to the remaining seeds and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and throw mixture in a blender pitcher and cover. Infuse the syrup for fifteen minutes to a half hour.
Buzz the syrup in the blender and strain into a pitcher. Add the rest of the ingredients, orange slices and ice. Add more orange juice and/ or sugar to taste if it's too strong.

For rimming the glasses: Finely grind reserved seeds in a spice grinder and mix them with the two tablespoons of  brown or turbinado sugar or a combination of the two sugars together.

servings: 8

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bacon and Cabbage Soup

In Ireland, boiled bacon and cabbage is a domestic staple. The bacon is usually a "collar" or shoulder, a moderately marbled cut with less fat than American bacon but a bit more than Canadian. The ingredients are boiled together and served with potatoes and a parsley cream sauce.
  • 1 (1/3-pound) piece Irish bacon (available at specialty foods shops) or Canadian bacon
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 5 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 Turkish bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 small head Savoy cabbage, cored, thinly sliced, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • Additions: white beans, carrot, celery, fresh thyme or rosemary
In small saucepan, combine bacon and cold water to cover. Cover, bring to boil over moderate heat, and skim foam from surface. Reduce heat and simmer 7 minutes. Drain and cool, then cut into 1-inch chunks. Set aside.

In 6-quart heavy stock pot over moderate heat, melt butter. Add onion and sauté, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add potatoes and sauté 2 minutes. Add stock, bay leaves, salt, and pepper and bring to boil. Reduce heat to moderately low, cover, and simmer until potatoes are soft, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add cabbage and simmer 5 additional minutes. Discard bay leaves. Working in 3 batches, in blender purée soup until smooth (using caution when blending hot liquids). Return to pot, stir in bacon, and rewarm if necessary. Ladle soup into bowls and serve.

Yield: Makes 4 servings

From Epicurious, adapted from chef Paul Flynn of The Tannery in Dungarvan, Ireland.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ruth Reichl's 70s Pumpkin Soup

This isn't a soup, actually, it's more like a gratin baked right inside the pumpkin. I was 21, and I didn't care that it was incredibly rich. Today I mix the cream with chicken broth (about a cup and a half of cream to about a cup of broth). It's STILL pretty much of a heart-stopper but it's irresistible.

Another helpful hint: If you brush the outside of the pumpkin with oil, it will look better when it emerges.

Go out and buy a fairly small pumpkin with a flat bottom. Cut off the top, as if you were going to carve a jack-o-lantern, and hollow it out. Spread the seeds out and dry them to eat later.

Now get a good loaf of French bread, slice it and toast it lightly. Grate a goodly amount of one of the Swiss cheeses (Emmenthaler, Gruyere or Appenzeller). Layer the toast and cheese inside the pumpkin until it's almost fill. Then fill the pumpkin up with cream. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg, replace the top of the pumpkin and bake in a 300 degree oven for about 2 hours.

Bring the whole pumpkin to the table. When you serve it be sure to scoop out the pumpkin flesh with the cheese and the cream. Serve with a light second course.

From Mmmmmmmm: A Feastiary

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

White Bean Salad

I call for a citrus olive oil in this recipe (I used the ruby grapefruit olive oil from O Olive Oils. Orange or Lemon would likely be nice as well (and more readily available). In a pinch, an alternative would be to use a good quality extra-virgin olive oil along with some citrus zest.

  • 2 big handfuls baby spinach, washed and dried
  • 2 cans white cannellini beans (or freshly cooked equivalent)
  • 2 handfuls walnuts, toasted
  • a couple glugs of citrus-flavored olive oil
  • a small splash of champagne vinegar
  • a few pinches fine-grained sea salt
  • a bit of crumbled cheese (manouri, goat cheese work nicely)

Rinse and drain the beans. If you like your bean salad on the warm side, my shortcut for heating them up is to run them under hot water (saves having to wash a pot).

In a large bowl combine the spinach, beans and walnuts. Add the olive oil, a splash of champagne vinegar, and salt. Toss gently but make sure you get everything nicely coated. Sprinkle a bit of cheese on top and enjoy.

Serves 4.

from 101 Cookbooks

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Salmon Roasted in Butter

Be sure to preheat the butter or oil, along with a little bit of the herb, in a roasting pan in a hot oven. This preheating causes the fish to sizzle the instant it's set into the pan, so that it browns before it overcooks. If you start the fillet in a cold pan, it will simply turn a dull pink and will not brown until it is as dry as chalk.

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 4 tablespoons minced chervil, parsley or dill
  • 1 salmon fillet, 1 1/2 to 2 pounds
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Lemon wedges
1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Place the butter and half the herb in a roasting pan just large enough to fit the salmon and place it in the oven. Heat about 5 minutes, until the butter melts and the herb begins to sizzle.

2. Add the salmon to the pan, skin side up. Roast 4 minutes. Remove from the oven, then peel the skin off. (If the skin does not lift right off, cook 2 minutes longer.) Sprinkle with salt and pepper and turn the fillet over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper again.

3. Roast 3 to 5 minutes more, depending on the thickness of the fillet and the degree of doneness you prefer. Cut into serving portions, spoon a little of the butter over each and garnish with the remaining herb. Serve with lemon wedges.

Variations: The basic recipe can easily be varied. An equal quantity of extra virgin olive oil can be substituted for the butter, and 2 teaspoons basil or thyme leaves or 2 tablespoons marjoram leaves for the dill, chervil or parsley. Or peanut oil can be substituted for the butter (with a teaspoon of dark sesame oil for flavor if you like) and cilantro or mint for the dill, chervil or parsley; with this version, use lime instead of lemon.

Time 15 minutes

Makes Yield 4 to 6 servings

From The Minimalist (Mark Bittman) in NY Times

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Menu: Week of Aug 23

provisions needed: corn, romaine, spinach, shallot, zucchini, feta, mozz, unsliced bread

  • shrimp with orzo, white beans, lemon, tomato; zucchini with parmesan
  • grill beef/turkey burgers + bread salad + corn
  • steak salad with spinach, blue cheese, blueberries, shallot, feta/oven fries
  • meatball calzone + salad
  • Kielbasa grilled with bell peppers and bread over salad
on hand: grapes, mushrooms, green beans

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Roasted Shrimp and Orzo

The Barefoot Contessa's version calls for a lot of fresh dill and parsley; I used a smaller amount of fresh oregano and rosemary instead. Feta on the side.

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Good olive oil
  • 1/2 pound orzo or mini farfalle
  • 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 1.5 pounds (16 to 18 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3/4 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 small cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and medium-diced
  • 1/4 cup small-diced red onion
  • Grated Parmesan and/or feta cheese, large diced
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Fill a large pot with water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and a splash of oil, and bring the water to a boil. Add the orzo and simmer for 9 to 11 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it's cooked al dente. Drain and pour into a large bowl. Whisk together the lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Pour over the hot pasta and stir well.

Meanwhile, place the shrimp on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to combine and spread out in a single layer. Roast for 5 to 6 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through. Don't overcook!

Add the shrimp to the orzo and then add the scallions, dill, parsley, cucumber, onion, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Toss well. Add the feta and stir carefully. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend, or refrigerate overnight. If refrigerated, taste again for seasonings and bring back to room temperature before serving.

Makes 4 servings plus leftovers

Adapted from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa at Home, via Food Network

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Kefta-Style Meatballs with Grilled Grapes and Yogurt Sauce

AMANDA & MERRILL'S NOTES: You will fall in love with this recipe as you're mixing the meatball mixture, which sends up wafts of cinnamon, mint and garlic. After browning the meatballs, you sandwich them between a grilled (seared, really) grape -- we used red, and loved how their skins blistered and charred -- and a garlicky, lemon yogurt sauce. For parties, you can make everything ahead of time, and assemble the skewers and sauce just before guests arrive. - A&M

This recipe is a combination of a few different restaurant dishes that I have enjoyed over the years. I've gone through a handful of versions, but this one has stuck around. I usually make them with ground beef, but lamb is great too. Also instead of serving as an appetizer, skip the toothpicks and pile it all into a warm pita. I know the grilled grapes sound a little odd, but they really me. - roseinparis


  • 1.5 pounds ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 small red onion, grated
  • 1/2 cup chopped mint
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch small seedless grapes, red or green
Yogurt Sauce

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • salt and pepper to taste
For the yogurt sauce: Mix all ingredients. It's best when made at least 30 minutes ahead of time, to allow flavors to meld.

In a large bowl combine the first 9 ingredients in the meatball list. Don’t over-mix.

Heat a frying pan with some vegetable oil and toss the grapes, lightly browning on all sides, remove and set aside.

Shape meat mixture into small meatballs, fry in the pan, adding more oil if needed to make sure they don’t stick. The heat should be fairly high to ensure a good sear. Toss or turn to make sure all sides brown. Drain on some paper towel, allowing to rest for a few minutes.

Assemble on large cocktail toothpicks: grape first, then meatball on the bottom. Serve with yogurt sauce for dipping.

Makes 6 servings

by roseinparis, from Food 52

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pumpkin and Tomato Soup with Cheese

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 pounds ripe juicy tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pureed pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • Coarse salt and black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime or lemon juice
  • ½ cup coarsely shredded Comte, Pecorino Romano, or sharp cheddar, plain yogurt or crème fraîche
1. In a soup pot, combine the oil, onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium to medium-low heat, until the onions are golden, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

2. Add tomatoes, pumpkin, 1 1/4 cups water, tomato paste and about 1/2 teaspoon salt. Heat to a boil and cook, covered, over medium-low heat, 10 minute. Uncover and cool slightly. Puree the soup with an immersion blender. If you don't have an immersion blender, carefully transfer the soup, in batches, to a blender or food processor and process until pureed. Return the soup to the pot. Add additional water to thin soup to desired consistency, if necessary.

3. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes. Stir in the lime juice. Taste and add additional salt and a generous grinding of black pepper. Ladle into bowls and mound about 2 tablespoons of cheese in the center of each serving, or if preferred add a swirl of yogurt or crème fraîche. Serve at once.

Makes 3-4 servings

Adapted from Fresh & Fast Vegetarian

Cold Tomato-Thyme Soup

  • 5 tablespoons olive oil (preferably extra-virgin)
  • 2 cups finely chopped onions
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped peeled carrots
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 pounds ripe tomatoes, halved, seeded, chopped (about 5 cups)
  • 3 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme or 1 tablespoon dried
  • 1 cup hickory smoke chips, soaked in water 30 minutes, drained
  • 3 3/4-inch-thick slices sourdough bread
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • Fresh thyme sprigs (optional)
Heat 4 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, finely chopped garlic and bay leaf. Cover; cook until carrots are tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes. Cover; cook until tomatoes release juices, about 10 minutes. Uncover; cook until juices evaporate, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Add broth and chopped thyme. Partially cover pot and simmer until mixture is reduced to 6 cups, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes longer.

Cool soup slightly. Discard bay leaf. Puree half of soup in blender. Stir into soup in pot. Season with salt and pepper. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.)

Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Place smoke chips in 8x6-inch foil packet with open top. Set packet atop coals about 5 minutes before grilling. Brush 1 tablespoon oil over both sides of bread slices. Grill bread until lightly browned, about 2 minutes per side. Rub garlic clove halves over bread. Cut bread into 3/4-inch cubes.

Divide cold soup among bowls. Top with croutons. Garnish with thyme.

Makes 6 servings

From Bon Appétit | July 1997

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sesame Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons Chinese sesame-seed paste or tahini
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons superfine sugar or 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 cup Asian sesame oil

In a bowl mix the sesame paste and soy sauce together. Add the vinegar and, while stirring, add the ginger, garlic and sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves, add the sesame oil, and allow to stand for 30 minutes to let the flavors mingle.

Makes about 1 cup

Adapted from Neil Perry, Rockpool via Epicurious

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Rosewater Yogurt Panna Cotta with Blueberries

  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 1 3/4 cups cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup whole-milk yogurt
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosewater
  • 1 cup blueberries, divided
  • Mint leaves, to garnish

Sprinkle the gelatin over the two tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Let sit to soften. Put the cream in a small saucepan with the sugar over medium heat and heat until bubbles form around the edges. Whisk until all the sugar is dissolved. Take off the heat and whisk in the gelatin mixture until completely dissolved. Whisk in the yogurt, salt, and rosewater.

Rinse the blueberries and pick out any stems or bad berries. Pat dry. Divide about half of the berries between 4 6-8 ounce cups or bowls. Fill each one partway with the berries. Pour the warm panna cotta mixture over the berries and refrigerate. Chill until set — about 2-4 hours, depending on the size and depth of the cups.

When ready to serve, divide the remainder of the berries between the cups, piling them on top of the set custard. Garnish with a mint leaf and serve with coffee, fresh mint tea, or dessert wine.

Makes 4 servings

From Apartment Therapy

Farroto with Garden Tomatoes

  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups diced garden tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons slivered basil
  • 2 cups cooked (al dente) farro
  • Coarse salt
  • Chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • Freshly ground black pepper

1. Pour the broth into a small saucepan and heat to a boil; reduce heat and keep warm over low heat.

2. Heat the oil in a large wide saucepan or deep sauté pan over medium heat until hot enough to sizzle a piece of onion. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, half of the basil, the farro and about ½ cup of the hot broth.

3. Cook, over medium heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally adding the remaining broth in ½ cup additions as farro absorbs the previous addition. Keep adding the broth until the farro is tender, but still has a bit of bite, about 15 minutes. You may not need all of the broth. The mixture should be the consistency of risotto, neither soupy nor pilaf like.

4. Stir in the grated cheese and the remaining basil until well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into soup bowls and top with shaved Parmesan.

Makes 4 servings

Inspired by Fresh & Fast Vegetarian by Marie Simmons

Week of 9 August

  • Chicken and Dumplings
  • Chicken Enchiladas with Green Sauce
  • Stacked Veggie Enchiladas
  • Beef Stroganoff
  • Grate carrots, toast some sunflower seeds, and toss with blueberries, olive oil, lemon juice and plenty of black pepper. Sweet, sour, crunchy, soft.
  • Farrotto with Tomatoes (& Sausage?)



Monday, August 9, 2010

Mountain-Style Paella

  • 2 large red bell peppers, seeded
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 3 1/2-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 1/2 pounds pork sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 3 pounds tomatoes (about 7 cups), chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed, cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 1/2 cup almonds, finely ground
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups Spanish short-grain white rice
  • 4 cups (or more) hot canned low-salt chicken broth
  • Lemon wedges

Cut 1 bell pepper lengthwise into thin strips. Chop second pepper; reserve. Heat oil in heavy 14-inch skillet or paella pan over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper strips; sauté until softened, about 6 minutes. Using tongs, transfer pepper strips to bowl; reserve. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add to skillet and cook until brown on all sides, about 12 minutes. Transfer to plate. Add sausage to skillet; sauté until golden, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to plate with chicken.

Pour off all but 6 tablespoons drippings from skillet. Add mushrooms to skillet; sauté over medium-high heat 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, garlic and chopped bell pepper and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until almost all liquid evaporates, about 35 minutes.

Add green beans and next 7 ingredients to skillet. Stir in rice, chicken, sausage and 6 cups hot broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer uncovered until chicken is cooked, adding more broth if mixture seems dry, about 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Top with pepper strips. Garnish with lemon.

Serves 8

From Bon Appetit

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Toasted Quinoa with Spinach, Tomatoes and Walnuts

Quinoa has an irresistibly nutty taste, a texture that is crunchy yet delicate, and cooks in less than 20 minutes. I use it as a side dish, breakfast cereal, in salads, and often, as in this recipe, as part of a main dish. Serve with Warm Green Bean Salad with Red Onion and Mint (page 00). Cook time: 35 minutes.

  • 1½ cups quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cup tri-color grape or petite cherry tomatoes
  • 1 bag (5 ounces) baby spinach, about 5 cups packed, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup broken walnuts
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Torn basil leaves (optional)

1. Place the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water for at least 45 seconds. To save water swish the quinoa in a bowl of water instead of using the running water. Shake in a strainer to remove as much water as possible.

2. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to a deep straight-sided skillet or sauté pan and warm over medium-low heat. Add the wet, but drained, quinoa and turn the heat to medium high. Stir the quinoa until it dries out and begins to turn golden, 8 to 10 minutes.

3. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add 3 cups water and the salt and heat to a boil. Cook, covered, over medium-low heat, until all of the water is absorbed and the quinoa the quinoa is translucent and appear to be uncoiling, 18 to 20 minutes.

4. Meanwhile heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a small skillet over medium high heat until hot enough to sizzle a cherry tomato. Add the tomatoes and cook, shaking the pan, until the tomatoes are blistered and softened, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

5. When quinoa is cooked add the spinach and tossing with the quinoa, over medium heat, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Top with the tomatoes. Sprinkle with the walnuts and cheese. Fluff to combine. Garnish with basil and serve.

Makes 4 servings

From Fresh & Fast Vegetarian by Marie Simmons

Sausage Couscous with Fruit and Pistachios

  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 link Aidells Chicken & Apple Sausage, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 1/3 cups couscous
  • ¼ cup chopped dried apricots
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • 3 links Aidells Chicken & Apple Sausage
  • ¼ cup shelled pistachios
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh mint
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Bring the stock to a boil in a saucepan. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, stir in onion and sausage, and cook 4-5 minutes, browning slightly. Add the couscous, apricots and raisins and stir until well coated. Pour in the boiling chicken stock, remove from heat, cover and let stand for about 15 minutes.

In a heavy skillet over medium heat fry the whole sausages for 2-3 minutes a side until well browned, set aside.

Stir the pistachios, lemon juice and mint into the couscous and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the couscous onto a serving platter and arrange the browned sausages on top.

Makes 4 servings

Adapted from Aidells

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Burnt Tomato Halves

Adapted from Seven Fires, by Francis Mallmann with Peter Kaminsky.

Serves 2

  • 2 firm but ripe tomatoes
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves

1. Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat until a drop of water sizzles on the surface. Meanwhile cut the tomatoes in half. Brush the cut side of the tomato halves with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt to taste.

2. Place the tomatoes cut side down on the hot surface. Do not move for 8 to 10 minutes, or they will burst and lose their shape. The bottoms of the tomatoes will show a thin black line of char all around when they are done.

3. Using a sharp-edged spatula, lift the tomatoes off the hot surface and invert onto a serving plate, so that the burnt side is up. With a chef's knife, cut crosshatches into the surface of the tomatoes. Sprinkle with peppercorns and oregano, drizzle with more olive oil, and serve immediately

Note: If whole peppercorns are problematic, coarsely crack or grind them.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Endives aux Gratin with Ham

  • 4 tb olive or vegetable oil
  • 8 whole heads Belgian endive cored
  • ¼ cup chopped green bell pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • ½ cup grated Gouda or Jarlsberg or other mild nutty cheese
  • 2 tb grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 slices of Ardennes ham (or Black Forest ham)
  • Chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a frying pan, lightly sauté the endives, remove them from the pan and set aside. Add the red and green pepper to the oil and lightly sauté them, remove them from the pan, and set aside. Add the flour to the oil and stir until lightly browned. Add the salt and pepper and blend in with a whisk until the mixture is smooth. Add the cheeses and blend until the cheese melts. Stir in the sautéed red and green peppers. Place the sautéed Belgian endives in an oven proof casserole. Wrap each endive in a slice of ham. Cover with the cheese sauce and place in a 350 degree F oven for about 20 minutes or until the sauce is bubble and brown. You may brown it under the broiler for a minute or two if you wish. Garnish with parsley and serve hot.

Accompany with a Witkap Tripel whose fruity honeyish notes beautifully complement this dish.

From The Belgian Endive Marketing Board

Warm Green Bean and Potato Salad from Liege

  • 8 Medium New Potatoes -- scrubbed
  • Salt -- to taste
  • 1/2 Pound Green Beans
  • 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter -- or olive oil
  • 5 Ounces Bacon -- chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Medium Shallots -- finely chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Parsley -- finely chopped
  • Pepper -- to taste

Cook potatoes in boiling water for 20 minutes. Cook green beans in salted water until tender but still crunchy. When potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel, and cut into 4 pieces. Combine with green beans in a salad bowl. Melt butter in medium sized skillet. Add bacon and saute until crisp about 4 minutes. Pour bacon and skillet drippings over potates. Deglase skillet with vinegar and reduce vinegar by 2/3 about 1 minute. Pour over vegetable and combine well. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with shallots and parsley.

Makes 4 servings

Adapted from Everybody Eats Well in Belgium

Chicken with Juniper Berries

  • 4 Pounds Chicken Breast -- 8 pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Medium Onion -- finely chopped
  • 1 Clove Garlic -- finely chopped
  • 20 Medium Juniper Berries
  • 1/2 Cup Belgian Gin
  • 4 Tablespoons Water -- if needed

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil and butter over high heat until the butter melts. Add chicken pieces and saute until golden brown, 4 minutes per side. Remove chicken and set aside. Add onion to pan and saute until soft about 2 minutes. add garlic and return the chicken to the pan. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until the meat is done about 20 minutes. Halfway through the cooking time, turn the chicken over. While chicken is cooking, crush the berries with a rolling pin. When chicken is done, flambe it with the gin. Add juniper berries to the chicken and increase heat to high. Turn the chicken constantly so they are covered in berries. Add a few tablespoons water if the broth is to dry.

Makes 8 servings

Adapted from Everybody Eats Well in Belgium

Chicken Supremes with Asparagus and Herbs

  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 4 chicken breast halves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 pound fresh spinach, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh chervil, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half

Cook the asparagus in a steamer.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 2 minutes. Place the chicken on top of the shallots, add the tarragon, and season with salt and pepper. Saute the chicken until well browned. Pour the wine over the chicken and cover the pan. Simmer for 15 minutes over low heat.

Remove the chicken and keep warm. Add the spinach and cook for 3 minutes. Add the parsley and chervil, cook for 2 minutes. Add the half-and-half, simmer for 2 minutes and remove from heat. Place the chicken on the plate, put asparagus on chicken, spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.

Makes 4 servings

Adapted from Everybody Eats Well in Belgium

Belgian Meatballs Braised in Beer

  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 6 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • Nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 6 medium Belgian endive, cored and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 cups beer
  • 1 cup chicken broth

Soak the bread crumbs in milk and squeeze dry. In a mixing bowl, combine the bread, ground meats, eggs, shallots, 2 tablespoons parsley, and a dash nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Form into 2-inch diameter meatballs. Dust the meatballs with flour.

In a deep Dutch oven heat the butter and oil. Add the meatballs and saute until well browned, about 5 minutes. Remove to a platter and set aside. Add onion and endives to the pan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with sugar, salt, pepper and flour. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add the beer and broth and bring to a quick boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and return the meatballs to the pan. Simmer partially covered until the meat is cooked through and has absorbed the flavors of the sauce, 45 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Makes 8 servings

Adapted from Everybody Eats Well in Belgium

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Roast Salmon, Fennel, and Red Onion

  • 1 small fennel bulb
  • 1 red onion
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 3 Yukon gold potatoes
  • Salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • salmon fillets

Real Simple Meals Made Easy p. 22



Monday, July 26, 2010

Chef's Salad with Turkey, Avocado, and Jack Cheese

  • 1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 large head Boston lettuce
  • 1 pound sliced roasted turkey breast, torn into pieces
  • 1 avocado, pitted and sliced
  • 1 cup alfalfa sprouts or pea shoots
  • 6 radishes, halved and thinly sliced
  • 4 carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cut into strips (1 cup)

In a small bowl, combine buttermilk, sour cream, vinegar, and honey; season with salt and pepper. Set dressing aside.

Divide lettuce among four serving plates; top with turkey, avocado, sprouts, radishes, carrots, and cheese. Drizzle with dressing, and serve.

Makes 4 servings

From Everyday Food, May 2008

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Toasted Bulgur, Tomato, and Feta Salad with Three Herbs and Toasted Pine Nuts

A twist on tabbouleh. Serve with grilled lamb and Warm Green Bean Salad or Fattoush.

  • 1 cup bulgur
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
  • 1 cup chopped loosely packed Italian parsley, including tender stems
  • 2 firm ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into ½ inch cubes (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup cubed (1/2 inch) cucumber
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 4 ounces (about 1 cup) crumbled feta cheese
  • Toasted pine nuts

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Spread the bulgur in a 13x9 inch baking pan and bake until lightly toasted, stirring once, 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Add 1½ cups boiling water, 1 tablespoon oil and ½ teaspoon salt and stir to blend. Let stand, covered tightly, until all the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

2. Dressing: In a large bowl whisk 1/3 cup oil, the lemon juice, garlic and ½ teaspoon salt until blended.

3. Finely chop the mint and parsley. Combine the bulgur, dressing, herbs, tomatoes, cucumber and onion and toss to blend. Spoon into a deep platter and garnish with feta and toasted pine nuts. Serve at room temperature.

Makes 4 servings

Adapted from Marie Simmons, Fresh & Fast Vegetarian

Corn Tortillas Stacked with Sautéed Mushrooms, Spinach and Manchego Cheese

  • 8 6-inch corn tortillas
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes with the juice
  • 2 teaspoons minced jalapeño or Serrano chilies, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 10 to 12 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms (about 4 cups)
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bag (5-6 ounces) baby spinach (about 6 cups packed), rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup shredded Manchego or Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 cup Mexican crema, light or regular sour cream
  • 2 scallions, trimmed, cut into thin diagonal slices

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush one side of each of the tortillas with the oil and arrange, slightly overlapping, on a rimmed sheet pan or baking sheet. Bake until warmed and slightly crisp, about 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-low heat in deep skillet or sauté pan until hot enough to sizzle a piece of onion. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the chili powder and cumin and cook, stirring 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and heat to a boil. Cook, uncovered, until thickened, about 15 minutes. Stir in the chiles and 1 tablespoon of the cilantro.

3. While the sauce is cooking heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet until hot enough to sizzle a slice of mushroom. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, over medium heat, until golden and tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the spinach all at once and cook, covered, over medium- low heat, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Uncover and if there is moisture in pan, cook on high heat, to evaporate, about 30 seconds.

4. Remove all but 4 of the tortillas from the baking sheet and set aside. Ladle about ¼ cup of the thickened sauce in the center of each tortilla and spread to the edges with the underside of the ladle. Using half of the mushroom and spinach mixture place a portion on top of each sauced tortilla. Top with the remaining 4 tortillas. Add remaining sauce to each, and top with remaining mushroom and spinach mixture, dividing evenly. Sprinkle each with 2 tablespoons of the shredded cheese.

5. Return to the oven and bake until the tortilla stacks are heated through and the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.

6. To serve slide each tortillas stack onto a dinner plate. Top with a spoonful of sour cream, a sprinkling of scallions and a pinch of chopped cilantro. Serve at once.

Makes 4 servings

Adapted from Marie Simmons, Fresh & Fast Vegetarian

Curried Egg and Feta Breakfast Quesadillas

  • 3 8-inch flour tortillas
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 3/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • 5 large eggs, beaten until frothy
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup tomato salsa
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Brush a large baking sheet lightly with oil.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until hot enough to sizzle a piece of onion. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the curry powder. Add the eggs and cook, stirring with the flat edge of a rubber spatula, adjusting the heat as needed, until the eggs begin to set, about 2 minutes. Turn the eggs out of the skillet onto a plate.

3. Place the tortillas on a baking sheet and sprinkle half of each tortilla with 2 tablespoons of the feta. Spoon the scrambled egg mixture on top of the cheese distributing evenly. Top with a spoonful of salsa if using and a generous sprinkling of cilantro. Fold the tortillas over to make half circles. Press down lightly.

4. Bake until the tortillas are warm and beginning to color, about 3 minutes. Turn each with a wide spatula and bake 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into wedges.

Makes 3 servings

Adapted from Marie Simmons, Fresh & Fast Vegetarian

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Middle-Eastern Grill Night

Asian Night

Omelette Night

  • Eggs, cherry tomatoes, feta, arugula; serve with tater tots, orange juice

Lunches: Bittman Salads

  • Sort-of-Cobb salad: hard-cooked eggs, cooked chicken, crumbled Gorgonzola, chopped tomatoes, chickpeas or white beans, sliced red onion, vinaigrette, romaine
  • Plums, balsamic vinaigrette, red onion, grilled chicken, fresh oregano, almonds, greens
  • Cook a pot of short-grain rice. While it’s still hot, toss with raw grated zucchini, fermented black beans, sriracha, sesame oil, sake and a touch of rice vinegar. Add bits of leftover roast chicken or pork if you have it, and pass soy sauce at the table.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Smoked Salmon on Black Bread with Sweet Butter

Serve these festive canapes with sparkling wine.

  • 4 slices firm, dark Westphalian black bread or warm thin-sliced toast
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces thin-sliced smoked salmon
  • Fresh dill sprigs, watercress leaves, or other small fresh herb or salad leaf

1. Spread the bread with a thin layer of the softened butter. Arrange the salmon over the buttered bread in a single layer, cutting the salmon to fit.

2. Cut the bread into four small squares. Garnish each with a leaf of your chosen garnish.

Serves 4

From Fresh & Fast by Marie Simmons

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Chickpea Puree with Lemon and Mint

Hummus alternative without tahini. Serve with crudite, crostini, or pita chips.

  • 1 15 1/2-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped mint
  • Sprinkling of cayenne pepper

1. Coarsely puree the chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, and salt until smooth. Gradually add 1/3 cup oil in a thin, steady stream. Then add the water and puree until the chickpeas are smooth and fluffy. Scrape into a shallow bowl and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.

2. Sprinkle the top with the herbs and cayenne; drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil.

Makes about 3 cups

From Fresh & Fast by Marie Simmons

Ricotta Cheese Spread with Lemon and Herbs

Draining the ricotta removes excess moisture, resulting in a stiffer, more spreadable mixture, but if you are in a hurry, the recipe works just fine without draining the cheese or draining it for less time. You could also use goat cheese, which does not require draining. Vary the fresh herbs depending on availability. Substitute dill, parsley, rosemary, or oregano, or a mix. Remember that the intensity of fresh herbs varies. Add small amounts, taste, and then add more.

  • 15 ounces whole-milk or part-skim ricotta
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Pinch salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 basil leaves, chiffonade, for garnish

1. Empty the container of ricotta into a strainer and place over a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Alternatively, drain at room temperature for 1 hour.

2. Combine the drained ricotta, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of the lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon of the thyme leaves, the salt, and a grinding of pepper; stir until blended. Mound into the center of a shallow bowl and drizzle with the oil. Sprinkle the remaining lemon zest and thyme on top. Garnish with the basil chiffonade.

3. Serve with crackers, crostini, or crudite.

Adapted from Fresh & Fast by Marie Simmons

Toasted Pita Triangles

These keep very well in a ziplock bag. Serve with hummus.

  • 4-6 pita breads
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Coarse salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Using kitchen scissors, cut the pita breads crosswise (through the folded edge), forming 2 circles of bread from each pita.

3. Combine the oil and garlic in a small bowl. Brush the rough side of the bread lightly with the oil-and-garlic mixture. Sprinkle with salt. Stack the pitas and cut them into triangles.

4. Spread the pita triangles in a single layer on two baking sheets. Bake, rearranging the pitas so they will brown evenly, until crisp and golden, about 20 minutes.

5. Serve warm or at room temperature.

From Fresh & Fast by Marie Simmons

Curried Pecans

Munch on these with a tall, cool drink or sprinkle over chicken salad, stir-fried green beans, or a mixed green salad.

  • 2 cups (8 ounces) large pecan halves
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2-3 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the pecans in a large, shallow baking pan and dot with the butter. Bake until the butter just melts, about 5 minutes.

2. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the curry powder and the salt. Stir to coat.

3. Bake, stirring often, until the pecans are toasted and coated with the butter and curry, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool; store in an airtight container in a cool place.

Makes 2 cups

From Fresh & Fast by Marie Simmons

Friday, March 19, 2010

Curried Cauliflower with Chick Peas and Tomatoes

  • 1/4 cup ghee
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
  • canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 head cauliflower (about 1 pound), cut into florets
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Salt
  • Cilantro leaves, for garnish

Heat the ghee in a deep skillet or pot over medium flame. Add the onion, curry powder, and ginger; cook and stir for a few minutes to soften the onion. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, until the tomatoes break down and soften, about 6 minutes. Mix in the cauliflower, chickpeas, tomato paste, and 1 cup of water; stir everything together. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the cauliflower is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Uncover, and continue cooking until the excess moisture has evaporated and the cauliflower and chickpeas are coated with a thick gravy. Season with salt, to taste, and garnish with cilantro before serving.

adapted from Tyler Florence via The Food Network

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Balsamic-Dressed Roasted Beets

A simple sweet-and-sour dressing complements earthy roasted beets. Its bright flavors make this dish a fitting accompaniment for roasted meats.

  • 3 medium beets (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 star anise
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°.

Leave root and 1 inch of stem on beets; scrub with a brush. Wrap beets in foil. Bake at 400° for 1 hour or until tender. Cool beets to room temperature. Peel and cut each beet into 8 wedges.

Combine juice, vinegar, sugar, and star anise in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced by half. Discard star anise. Combine beets, vinegar mixture, salt, and pepper; toss well.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1/2 cup)

Adapted from Cooking Light

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ten Minute Tasty Asparagus and Brown Rice

I made this with brown rice, but you could certainly substitute other grains. I suspect quinoa or millet would make nice substitutes (or even a short whole-grain pasta?). Seeking out the pre-cooked brown rice in the freezer section helps shave quite a lot of time in this recipe, but feel free to go from scratch with your favorite rice. Use two cans of chickpeas/garbanzo beans if you love them like I do - one can if you're only a general enthusiast.

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 or 2 14-ounce cans of chickpeas, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1-inch segments
  • 3 cups pre-cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup almond slivers, toasted
  • fine grain sea salt
Tahini Dressing
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • zest of one lemon
  • scant 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

If you're using frozen rice (did I just say that?), heat it on its own in a pot or per package instructions.

Make the dressing by whisking together the garlic, tahini, lemon zest and juice, and olive oil. Add the hot water to thin a bit and then the salt. Set aside.

Add a couple glugs of olive oil (roughly 3 tablespoons) to a big skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl the oil around to coat the pan, then add the chickpeas and sprinkling of salt. Let the beans saute there for a couple minutes (I like to try to get some crusty color on them). Be careful, they seem to hiss and pop more then other beans over high heat. Add the garlic and onions. Stir for a minute. Stir in the asparagus with another pinch or two of salt, cover with a lid for a minute or two to steam - just until the asparagus brightens and softens up just a bit. Uncover and stir in the rice and almond slivers, reserving a few almonds for garnish. Taste and add more salt if needed (likely). Serve family-style in a big bowl drizzled with a few tablespoons of the tahini dressing, let each person add more dressing to their tastes.

Serves 4-6.

from 101 Cookbooks

Pan-fried Chickpea Salad

You can add all sorts of things to this salad depending on the season - sliced green beans, asparagus, or broccoli florets (all blanched) might be good choices. Or simply add a bit of sauteed spinach. I almost opted out of the curry approach at the last minute, seduced by some vibrant broccoli I picked up along with the leeks at the market. I was thinking that a lemony-broccoli pesto would be a great dressing in place of the curried yogurt. Or how about a version of this salad using Thai curry paste instead of Indian curry powder? In this scenario I might skim some of the coconut cream off the top of a can of coconut milk and use that in place of the yogurt - again thinning it with warm water, coconut water, or broth. If I'm going to make this an entire one-pan meal I might through in some tofu or black lentils for that little extra boost of protein.

If you are pinched for time, you can certainly skip the browning of the chickpeas - just skip adding any leeks altogether and add the chopped garlic and the lemon zest to the yogurt dressing. The only ingredient I would add to this version the next time around would be a handful of toasted, slivered almonds. Just a hint of sweetness, toasty nut flavor, and lots of crunch. You can use canned chickpeas, but chickpeas cooked from dried beans are infinitely better tasting, and the texture much better.

  • 1 tablespoon clarified butter, olive oil, or coconut oil
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans), pat them completely dry with clean dish towel
  • 1 cup chopped leeks
  • 1 medium clove of garlic, minced
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt (I typically use low-fat Greek)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Indian-style curry powder (or to taste)
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red onion or red spring onions, chopped

Heat the cooking oil in a large skillet and add the chickpeas. Saute over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until they start getting a bit golden in color. Stir in the leeks and cook until the chickpeas are more golden and the leeks have browned a bit as well, roughly 7 - 10 minutes total. At the last minute stir in the garlic and the lemon zest. Remove from heat, and set aside.

While the chickpeas cool (I like to serve this salad at room temperature), make the yogurt dressing by combining the yogurt, curry powder, and salt in a small bowl. If you need to thin it out a bit, particularly if you are using Greek yogurt, whisk in warm water a tablespoon at a time. Taste, adjust, and set aside.

When you are ready to serve the salad, toss the chickpea mixture with most of the cilantro and most of the chopped red onion. Add about 1/2 of the yogurt dressing and toss again. If you like more dressing, keep adding until you are pleased. Serve on a platter sprinkled with the remaining onions and cilantro.

Serves 4 as a side.

from 101 Cookbooks

Couscous with Chick-Peas and Tomatoes

Offer this healthful Moroccan grain dish as a main course or as an accompaniment to roasted chicken.

  • 1 1/2 cups canned chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 1 cup whole wheat couscous
  • 1/2 cup diced tomato
  • 1/2 cup drained canned chick-peas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
  • pine nuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter small baking dish. Bring chicken broth and butter to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Add couscous. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until couscous is tender and has absorbed all liquid, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato, chick-peas, raisins, cinnamon, basil and thyme. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to baking dish. Cover and cook until heated through, about 15 minutes.

yield: Serves 4

adapted from Epicurious

Monday, February 8, 2010

Spicy Lamb Kofte

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 1/4 tsp aleppo pepper* or 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 lbs ground lamb

In a food processor, pulse the onion and garlic until finely chopped. Add the parsley, aleppo pepper, allspice, salt, cinnamon and cumin. Pulse until combined. Add the lamb and pulse just until well mixed.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Divide the lamb mixture into 12 portions. Form each portion into a ball, then roll into a cigar shape. Place the sausages onto a baking sheet sprayed with non stick cooking spray.

Lamb Kofte can be grilled or broiled also. Skewer each sausage, then grill or broil 5-8 minutes, turning occasionally, until done.

Bake the kofte for 20 minutes, turn over, and cook another 10 minutes.

Serve your kofte with pita bread, hummus, chopped tomatoes and chopped onions. Rice pilaf is also a nice side dish with the kofte.

*Aleppo pepper is a mild, bright red pepper with a fruity, balanced flavor. Aleppo pepper can be found in Middle Eastern stores.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Jicama, Cucumber, and Pineapple Salad (Pico de Gallo)

  • 1 pound peeled jicama
  • 1 rinsed cucumber (12 oz.)
  • 1 pound peeled and cored fresh pineappple
  • 1 lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika or ground ancho chile

1. Cut jicama, cucumber, and pineapple into sticks or slices about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch thick. Arrange on a platter. Squeeze lime over vegetables and fruit.

2. In a small bowl, mix cayenne, paprika (or ground dried ancho chile), and salt. Sprinkle half the mixture over vegetables and fruit. Offer lime wedges and remaining chile salt to add to taste.

from Sunset

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Weekend Apple Pancake

  • 2 large or 3 medium apples, preferably Granny Smith
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, fresh ground if possible
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Heat the oven to 400°F. Peel and slice the apples; you should have about 3 cups. Mix the fresh cinnamon, ginger and sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

In the oven, or over a burner, melt the butter in an 8x8" pan or a deep cast iron skillet, tilting to coat the bottom and sides with melted butter. Add the brown sugar to the butter in the bottom of pan. Spread the apples on top of the sugar and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the apples. Put the pan back in the oven to start the apples cooking.

Beat the eggs until foamy with a whisk or eggbeater. Fold in the flour, salt, and sugar gradually while mixing. Add milk and vanilla and beat just until smooth. Let rest for a couple minutes.

Take the pan out of the oven and pour the batter over the apples. Sprinkle more cinnamon or cinnamon sugar on top if desired. Bake for about 20 more minutes or until center is set and sides are lightly browned. If the top browns before the center sets, tent with foil for the duration of the baking. The pancake will puff up dramatically but fall after you take it out of the oven.

Serve with powdered sugar or more cinnamon sugar.

serves 3-4

From Apartment Therapy

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Rockport Breakfast Menu

  • Cranberry-Orange Spritzers
  • Cranberry-Pecan Hotcakes with Caramel-Rum Sauce
  • Firecracker Bacon

Applejack Baked Apples with Ricotta Cream

For the Ricotta Cream:

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier

For the Apples:

  • 6 large apples, such as Gravenstein, Ida Red, or Northern Spy
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 2/3 cup (5.5 ounces) cropped almonds
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon applejack or other apple brandy (can substitute sweet apple cider)

1. To make the Ricotta Cream, place the ricotta, sugar, cream, and liqueur in a small bowl and stir until well blended and smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Preheat the oven to 350F. Wash the apples well and core, but do not peel. Scoop out enough of the center to leave a 1-inch space that does not extend through to the bottom of the apple.

3. In a small bowl, mix together the dried cranberries, almonds, brown sugar, and butter until well blended. Place 1 tablespoon of the cranberry mixture in the cavity of each apple. Place the apples in a 9-inch glass pie plate and pour 1/2 cup of the applejack around the apples. Add water so that the liquid comes about 1 inch up the sides of the apples. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon of applejack evenly over the filling in the apples. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the apples are tender.

4. Serve warm or cold, topped with a generous dollop of Ricotta Cream.

Serves 6

From The New England Table

Firecracker Bacon

Rub thick slab bacon with a blend of 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne. Bake on a rack (over a foil-lined cookie sheet) at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Cranberry-Pecan Hotcakes with Caramel-Rum Sauce

Both the sauce and batter (without the pecans and cranberries) may be prepared the night before.

For the Caramel-Rum Sauce

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into several pieces
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup dark rum
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the Hotcakes

  • 1/2 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) pecans
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. To make the caramel sauce, place the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a 2-quart saucepan. Place over high heat and stir just until the sugar dissolves. Bring the syrup to a rapid boil, then cook without stirring until the syrup turns a deep amber color, 12 to 15 minutes. Do not let the syrup burn. Remove it from the heat and stir in the butter, bit by bit, then add the cream, rum, and vanilla. Set aside and let cool slightly. (Leftover sauce will keep, refrigerated, for up to 1 week.)

2. To make the hotcakes, place the cranberries, pecans, and sugar in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Sift the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon into a medium bowl. In a large bowl whisk together the yogurt, eggs, milk, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat together until very well combined. Fold in the cranberry mixture.

3. Heat a large griddle over medium heat and grease it with 2 tablespoons of the butter, reserving the rest to regrease the pan for subsequent hotcakes, if necessary.

4. Drop the batter by 1/4-cup portions onto the hot griddle or skillet and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the bottoms are well browned. Flip the hotcakes and cook for another 2 minutes. Serve immediately with the warm sauce. You can keep the cooked hotcakes warm in a single layer on a baking sheet, covered with foil, in a 200-degree oven.

Makes 15 hotcakes

From The New England Table

Cranberry-Orange Spritzers

  • Freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Cranberry juice
  • Sparkling water
  • Fresh mint (optional)

To make the spritzers, stir together 2 parts orange juice, 2 parts cranberry juice, and 1 part sparkling water. Pour over ice and garnish with a sprig of mint, if desired.

Adapted from The New England Table

Monday, January 4, 2010

Pinto Bean and Zucchini Hummus

  • 1 cup dried pinto beans
  • 5 or 6 sun-dried tomatoes
  • 4 or 5 whole dried red chilies
  • 1 small zucchini, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons whole fat yogurt
  • juice from one lemon
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Rinse the pinto beans and soak overnight in several inches of cold water with a little yogurt whey or lemon juice added. Drain the beans and add to a medium saucepan. Cover with several inches of fresh water, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour or until the beans are soft. Drain.

Meanwhile, cover the sun-dried tomatoes and dried red chilies with hot water in a small bowl and soak for 20 minutes. Drain.

Combine the sun-dried tomatoes, chilies, zucchini, garlic, tahini, yogurt and lemon juice in a small bowl. In a food processor, blend with the beans, olive oil and salt until smooth. If necessary, process the mixture in batches. Serve with flatbreads, pitas, crackers or vegetables.

Makes approximately 3 cups of hummus.

from Lisa's Kitchen: Vegetarian Recipes

NOTES: Tried 1/10: meh

What to Do with Pinto Beans

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:

Use pinto beans in chili recipes in place of kidney beans.

Blend together pinto beans with sage, oregano, garlic and black pepper for a delicious spread that can be used as a crudité dip or sandwich filling.

Layer cooked pinto beans, chopped tomatoes and onions and shredded cheese on a tortilla. Broil in the oven until hot and cheese melts. Top with chopped avocado and cilantro.

Add pinto beans to vegetable soups.

Heat pinto beans together with cooked rice. Add cooked chopped vegetables such as carrots, zucchini and tomatoes. Season to taste and enjoy this simple-to-prepare one pot meal.

from The World's Healthiest Foods

Butterscotch Pudding

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, not ultra-pasteurized
  • 1 1/4 cup whole milk (or 2 cups half & half)
  • 5 oz. dark brown sugar
  • 1.5 oz. unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1 splash vanilla extract

In a heavy bottomed stainless steel sauce pan melt butter over low heat and add brown sugar. With a wooden spoon stir in well to incorporate. Cook for at least 10 minutes, stirring infrequently. Add salt.

Meanwhile combine dairy and warm up, but do not let boil.

Whisk egg and yolks together in mid sized bowl.

Sift cornstarch and sugar into another mid sized bowl. If it looks like you lost some cornstarch in the process, add a little more. Cornstarch absorbs moisture and loves to stick to everything! Whisk to combine these and make a "well" in the center.

When brown sugar/butter has been on the stove for a bit, add dairy and whisk to smooth out. When this mixture is hot to the touch, shut off heat.

OK. Now you are making a liaison. You need to get the eggs and cornstarch into the mixture, but evenly and delicately. The Instruction I am about to give is the best way to make any stove-top pudding, the most popular being pastry cream.

Using a ladle, lift a small amount (betw 2-4 oz) of the hot liquid and pour it directly in the middle of the cornstarch "well." Using a small whisk, whisk this mixture in tight concentric circles from the middle out. You want a smooth, loose paste. If you have not put in enough, or put in too much liquid you will get clumps. When you have your unlumpy mixture, ladle in a little more liquid and do the same again.

Now ladle, while whisking, some liquid into the beaten egg bowl. This step is not nearly as delicate a matter as the previous step. Again, you want to warm up the egg mixture, turning the bowl into warm-hot eggy liquid.

Whisk eggy liquid into cornstarchy liquid. Incorporate as much as possible. Pour this into the pot. Whisk to incorporate. If you notice a lot of any kind of lump, pass this mixture through a fine meshed sieve.

Put pot back on stove over medium heat. Whisk continuously and violently. Try to whisk at all sorts of angles so that the whisk bottom makes it into the "corners" of the pot. If you are not breaking a sweat or getting sore, you may not be whisking hard enough. Pain = Pleasure

Whisk until custard thickens and "comes to boil." I put this in quotes because once custard gets thick, these bubbles are hard to see. When it starts to get thick, stop to see if bubbles are rising to the surface. The sound they'll make is "Gloop."

Take off heat and add in vanilla extract. Taste. Does it taste like butterscotch? Does it need more vanilla extract? Salt? Not sure & don't want to ruin the whole batch finding out? Take a small amount out, put in a bowl and experiment on that.

Spoon into bowls. Chill, and unless you like custard skin, press plastic wrap right to the surface. Of course you can always eat it warm too. MMMmmmmmmmmm.

I like to garnish my butterscotch pudding with toasted pecans. But many things would be complementary. Coconut cream is nice, a la Claudia Fleming. Or praline. Whipped cream, for the added opulence, or straight out of the pot like you know you want to!

from eggbeater

Ricotta Honey Crostini

Toast some whole grain-type bread. Butter it (yes, butter) while hot. Sprinkle with cinnamon and drizzle with really good honey, then top with ricotta and drizzle with more honey. Variation: add sliced banana.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Barley Casserole

  • 4-5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 cups beef or chicken broth

1. Melt the butter and sauté the onions and mushrooms until soft. Add the barley and brown it lightly. Pour into a buttered casserole. Before you pour the broth over the barley, taste the broth for seasoning. If it has enough, the casserole will need not additional salt or pepper.

2. Pour 1 cup of broth over the barley in the casserole and cover. Bake in a 350° oven for 25 to 30 minutes and then uncover and add the second cup of broth. Cover and continue cooking until the liquid is absorbed and the barley is done (i.e. soft and a little chewy), about another 30 minutes.

- serves 4 -

Adapted from The James Beard Cookbook by James Beard.