Rosemary & Garlic Whipped Potatoes, Vegetables with Lemon and White Wine Sauce
November 30, 2005
Perfect mashed potatoes are part ingredients, part method of mashing, and part good papas. Russet potatoes make the best baked and whipped potatoes because of their fluffy texture after being cooked. I made these potatoes as the carb side to this vegetable feast madness.
You will need: 3 russet potatoes; 1 spring of rosemary chopped finely; 1/4 c whipping bream; 1/4 c of vegetable stock; 2 crowns of broccoli (medium sized); 2 handfulls of fresh green beans; 5 cloves of garlic; handful of chopped flat leafed Italian parsley; 4 tblsp butter; 1 1/2 c of white wine; 1/4 minced white onion; 1/4 c olive oil; 1 tblsp flour; salt and pepper to taste; chile piquin; one lemon.
Step One: In a boiling pot of water, cook the 3 potatoes peeled and chopped into small pieces. Cook this for 8-14 minutes, depending on how big you chopped the pieces. Be sure they are very soft before draining. Place in a bowl with rosemary, 2 tblsp of butter, 2 crushed and chopped cloves of garlic, cream, vegetable stock, and salt & pepper to taste. Mix the ingredients with a blender or smash them a lot with a masher. Texture should be very smooth. Add more cream if needed. Set aside and cover.
Step Two: In a large stock pot, place 1 c of water and salt to taste with the chopped broccoli forettes, and cleaned green beans (take of stems). Cover and cook on medium heat until steamed (they will turn a pretty bright green, about 8 minutes).
Step Three: In a saute pan, put 2 tblsp of butter and olive oil on medium heat. Add minced onions and crushed garlic. Saute for 4 minutes. Add flour and stir until very hot (don't let it turn brown). Add wine and squeeze lemon in (through a civ so seeds don't get into sauce). Continue cooking until sauce thickens. Add parsley. Take off the heat. Consistency should be slightly runny.
Step Four: Plate the potatoes, greens, and crushed piquin pepper. Spoon on the wine sauce and serve right away.
Turkey Day Leftovers: Pot Pie
November 28, 2005
I trust that you all have successfully made a turkey and all the trimmings without my assistance. In case you managed to only salvage the drumsticks and the wings, this recipe is a perfect solution for putting those leftovers to work. This recipe also takes care of those extra celery stalks and carrots from your stuffing. I like this turkey pot pie recipe because it can be altered to be a vegetarian dish, gluten free, or traditional.
For the Traditional version, you will need: turkey leftovers (about 1 c worth, chopped into bite sized pieces), 2 stalks celery diced, 2 carrots diced, 1 potato diced and boiled, 1/2 c of frozen peas (can add more if you like), 2 cloves of minced garlic, 7-10 mushrooms (I used oyster mushrooms) chopped, 1/4 c of cream, 2/3 c white wine, 2/3 c vegetable stock, 1 1/2 tblsp corn starch, herbs (thyme and rosemary are best, italian parsley is the usual suspect).
The crust: a premade pie crust (Marie Calendar's is always good) and puff pastry sheet.
For the gluten free version: 2 russet potatoes diced, boiled, and mashed with salt, pepper, 2 tblsp of butter, 1/2 c of milk (or vegetable stock for vegans/lactose phobes). Potatoes will serve as the "lid" to the pot pie.
For the veggie version: in lieu of turkey, use 1/2 a butternut squash diced. You can also add tofu if you still want the protein.
Step One: In a saute pan, add 2 tblsp of butter or olive oil, garlic, mushrooms, carrots, celery and herbs. Cook on medium high until the veggies sweat.
Step Two: Add the turkey, herbs, and cornstarch. Saute this so cornstarch is absorbed by the veggies. Add the wine and cook this for 4 minutes.
Step Three: Add veggie stock, cream, and potatoes. Saute until it thickens, season with salt and pepper.
Step Four: Pour these ingredients into a pie crust or into a glass baking dish. Place a "lid" of puff pastry over this and brush with a beaten egg. For the gluten free version, spread mashed potatoes on the pot pie mixture to cover it completely. Cook this in an oven at 400 degrees for 25-35 minutes (just be sure its cooked and not burnt). Cook at 375 if you live oceanside. If cooking the gluten free version, cook this for 20 minutes.
Serve and enjoy with little cranberry croissants (leftover puff pastry cut into triangles and roll with cranberry sauce, bake these with the pie).
Fur Pie Don't Sell: Try My Spinach "Popeye" Instead
November 23, 2005
Do you like Greek spinach pies? Hate trying to cook with philo dough? So do I. This recipe is a modified version of spinach pies and is made-easy for dinner service. You can premake this pie and freeze it for later. Cooking instructions are different if fresh vs frozen, so pay attention.
You will need: 1 bunch of spinach washed and drained, 1/4 white onion diced, 2 cloves of garlic crushed, 1/2 c of feta crumbles, 1/4 - 1/2 c of chopped italian parsley (flatleafed kind), 1/2 c of parmesan cheese grated, salt, pepper, 4 eggs, 2 Marie Calendar Pie Crusts thawed.
Step One: Cook spinach in a large saute pan with a lid or foil on top on medium low heat until wilted (don't add any water or anything, spinach is still wet from the washing). When done, drain this really well by squeezing the water out of the spinach (this reduces the spinach to about 1 cup worth). Set aside.
Step Two: Finely dice the onion, crushed garlic, and italian parsley. Put ingredients into a large bowl. Add the grated parmesan, feta crumbles, and eggs. Mix these ingredients well, then add the spinach. After ingredients are all well incorporated, pour into one pie crust.
Step Three: Take the other pie crust and cut out the middle. You place this over the prepared spinach pie, sealing the edges. This makes a spinach pot-pie look. You can freeze this (place in a large ziplock bag or wrap in saran wrap and then foil), or cook it.
Baking the Pie: Beat an egg and brush it on top of the pie. If thawed, place into an oven preheated to 375 degrees for about 25 - 35 minutes. The crust should be golden brown. Turn the oven down to Warm (a setting below 200 degrees), leaving the pie to finish off for another 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Serve like a piece of pie.
If you go from freezer to oven, cook at 400 degrees (don't forget to brush on the egg), for 45 minutes, and then turn down to Warm for 20 minutes. Whatever you do, just make sure the pie is golden brown and nice and hot.
Miso my Udon
November 22, 2005
If you aren't feeling well, what better remedy than a hot bowl of soup? If you are a vegetarian, this recipe is a great alternative to that salty bowl of chicken soup you ate as a kid. Miso is a fermented paste of rice and soybeans. You can buy this paste at an Asian grocery or natural food store. The colors of miso range from white (a light yellow really) to brown and red. I prefer the white miso because of the strong flavor and smooth texture it has compared to brown or red miso.
Udon noodles can be purchased dry or frozen. I used frozen udon noodles I found at a local grocer. Udon is made from rice flour, eggs, water, and salt. If you are vegan, double check the ingredients or use soba noodles as a substitute.
You will need: Miso paste, 1/2 c of bamboo shoots, finely chopped green onions (4 sprigs); tofu (optional); udon noodles, 6 chopped chitake mushrooms. Makes two very large bowls worth.
Step One: Rinse the udon noodles if frozen. Place them in a pot of boiling water and babysit this closely because most noodles are coated with corn starch and can make the boiling water thick. Remove the noodles once soft, drain and rinse under cold water.
Step Two: Bring 4 1/2 cups of water to a boil. Add the chitake mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes.
Step Three: In large bowls (2) place the bamboo, green onion, and 2 tblsp of miso paste (or more depending on how much flavor you like). If adding tofu, put it in the bowls now. Divide up the noodles between the two bowls.
Step Four: Ladle in piping hot water and chitake mushrooms.
Serve with a bit of dried seaweed on top for flavor.
Is that the Red or White? Go for the Red: Manhattan Clam Chowder
November 20, 2005
Being ill of late after eating any cheese or milk, I have become especially attached to this Manhattan Clam Chowder soup. This is easy and cheap to make, but you can make it as extravagant as you'd like.
You will need: 1 can of whole baby clams (if fresh, buy cherrystone clams, about 7-10, and cook them in a stock pot with 1 c of water and 1/2 c of white wine, sprig of parsley, 1/2 lemon, and slice of white onion; cover and cook on medium high for 3-5 minutes until clams open; remove clams and chop up for soup); 1/2 lemon; 1 c of white wine (you can use 1/2 c of red wine instead if you want); 4 tbsp of olive oil; 1/4 white onion (finely diced); 3 cloves of minced garlic; 2 stalks of diced celery; 2 peeled and diced carrots; 1 large can of whole tomatoes (chop this up and reserve the juice); 1 tblsp of basil; 3 sprigs of parsley chopped; 1/2 bell pepper diced; 1 c of veggie stock; 3-4 diced small red or new potatoes skin and all; chile piquin.
Step One: Saute the olive oil, bell pepper, celery, carrots, onions, and garlic until veggies sweat (cooking on medium high heat).
Step Two: Add wine. Cook for 3 minutes.
Step Three: Pour in the vegetable stock, and add 1 c of water, and add tomatoes and tomato juice from can. Add the potatoes now and bring pot to a rolling boil, cover and cook until potatoes begin to soften (about 10 minutes). Add the crushed chile piquin (optional).
Step Four: Reduce the heat to medium and add the basil, parsley and clams with juice (if from the can or of fresh, use 1 c of clam brine). Squeeze lemon into pot. Add salt and pepper to taste. You may also add another tsp of basil if the flavor is weak.
Serve soup in bowls with a slice of lemon and fresh grated Parmesan cheese, and of course a side of bread.
Serve and enjoy.
Birthday Butternut Squash for Mom
November 17, 2005
Today is my mum's _th birthday. My mom taught me all I know about cooking. In light of the fact that I have failed as a baker, I cannot purport to bake a cake and call it my own. I can however, dedicate this fall dish in honor of my mother's birthday. Feliz cumpleanos Mama.
Looking through the Jaime Oliver cookbook, I ran across a delicious idea for supper: stuffed and baked butternut squash. I have altered the recipe to adjust to what was in my pantry and fridge. Be sure to give yourself time to prepare and cook this - it takes about 2 hours total from prep to plate.
You will need: 2 small butternut squashes (if using one large one, cooking time is slightly longer but everything else is the same), olive oil, 1 cup of wild rice (the partly cooked kind, preferably a blend), 1/4 minced white onion, 2 cloves of garlic, rosemary (optional, you can substitute flat leafed Italian parsley), coriander (this is dried cilantro), 1/4 c walnuts or pine nuts (if using pine nuts, go with the fresh rosemary instead of parsley), 1/2 c of diced mushrooms (button or oyster, porcini are best).
Cookware: 1 cookie sheet, foil, saute pan, bowl for rice.
Step One: Take that one cup of wild rice blend (I use the Royal Blend brand from Wild Oats, also sold at King Soopers) and place it in a bowl with 1/2 cup of warm water. Set this aside.
Step Two: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Step Three: Wash and pat dry your squash. Cut off the stem, and then cut the squash in half long ways. Scrape out the flesh of the squash and save all of the discarded seeds and pulp.
Step Four: In your pan, saute the discarded seeds and pulp with 3 tbsp of olive oil, onion, garlic, and mushrooms. (if you are using porcini mushrooms, they are usually dried so you should rehydrate according to the directions on the packet) Add 2 sprigs of fresh chopped rosemary or parsley, 1 tsp of coriander, and chopped nuts. Saute for another 3 minutes. Add the wild rice that has been hydrating in the bowl and cook for another 3 minutes.
Step Five: Take the pulp and rice mixture and scoop into the squash cavities. Put the squash halves together, rub the whole squash with olive oil, and wrap it in the foil tightly. Place this on a cookie sheet and cook at 400 degrees for 1 hour. Remove and let cool a little before unwrapping and serving.
This dish goes very well with a side of fresh baked bread (courtesy of the flatmate), and a light green salad. You can serve each person one half or less and you may choose to eat the squash skin and all, or discard the skin and eat only the squash flesh and stuffing.
Frozen Food You Can Make: Lasagna
November 16, 2005
Every few weeks, my flatmate and I head over to her coworker's house for dinner and a few episodes of that very silly program "Prison Break." These Tuesday nights are fun because our portable culinary skills are put to the test - we usually make dinner at our host's house. I decided to premake some lasagna and freeze it. This dish is always best fresh, but freezing it is a great way to ensure that you have dinner premade for a night when you are way too tired to cook.
You will need: Lasagna pasta sheets, sauce (you can make this or buy a jarred sauce, try the spicy classico), mozzarella, ricotta, egg, spinach, mushrooms, salt, pepper, Parmesan.
Step One: Start boiling a large pot of water with salt and add lasagna sheets once boiling. Cook according to directions. Drain, rinse in cold water, and drizzle olive oil on them to keep from sticking.
Step Two: Cook one bunch of very clean spinach leaves (simply rinse and place in a saute pan with a piece of foil on top - don't add any more water or oil). Cook this on medium low heat until very wilted. Drain this and set aside. You can add whatever veggies you like, including zucchini, squash, mushrooms, or meat (Italian sausage).
Step Three: If you are cooking your own sauce you will need a large can of whole peeled tomatoes (chop them up), 1/4 white onion diced, 2 cloves of garlic, dried oregano and/or thyme, celery (1 stalk, finely diced), 1 carrot (finely diced), salt, pepper, 1 chile piquin. Optional: Add mushrooms, black olives, or if you are a carnivorous, you can cook 3 links of Italian sausage first by cooking on medium heat, breaking up with a spoon, and then add the ingredients that follow after you drained the fat from the cooked sausage.
Cook 3 tablespoon olive oil, the carrot, celery, onion, and garlic together until it sweats. Add in dry spices and 1/2 c of wine (white or red). Add chopped stewed tomatoes, juices and all. Cook down to a simmer for about 15 minutes.
If you buy a jar of sauce, don't buy one that is too sweet - go for the spicy Classico red sauce.
Step Four: Blend 1 tub of ricotta (this is in the dairy aisle and is a little more than the size of a yogurt jar) and 1 egg together with salt. This can be set aside as well.
Step Five: Grate your mozzarella (about 2 or 3 cups worth), Parmesan (about 1/2 cup worth).
Putting it all together
Step Six: In a rectangular pan (go for one smaller than a cake pan), put down a large spoon full of sauce. Lay down sheets of pasta to cover the bottom. Smear on the ricotta and sauce. Sprinkle a little cheese. Lay down another layer of pasta. Smear more ricotta on, add all the spinach, some cheese, and layer of sauce. Add one more layer of pasta, sauce, and rest of cheese, topping off with the Parmesan. Freeze, or bake right away at 375 degrees for 25-35 minutes or until cooked through. If frozen, throw into oven at 400 degrees and carefully monitor after 30 minutes to ensure the dish doesn't burn on top. Reduce heat to 350 if it starts to get too crispy on top.
Serve and enjoy with salad or fresh bread.
Roasted Dutch Babies
November 14, 2005
The best date I've ever been on was my first date with my viejo. I was treated to a feast of homemade food that featured the best roasted veggies I'd ever eaten. The dish included potatoes, bell peppers, garlic, red onions, and plenty of herbs. Feeling nostalgic, I've decided to recreate this dish tonight using Dutch Baby Potatoes - they are the cutest little potatoes you've ever seen - they are very buttery and cook to a golden yellow finish. You can use fingerling potatoes or russets. If you use a different potato, be sure to boil the potatoes partly before roasting as raw potatoes take a very long time to roast.
You will need: papas, onions (I used white but red is best), tomatoes, bell peppers, garlic, italian parsley, basil, sea salt, pepper, parmesan cheese.
Step One: Boil the potatoes until soft, drain, and place back in the pot.
Step Two: roughly chop bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes, garlic (3 cloves chopped). Finely chop herbs - you can use whatever fresh herb is available including italian parsley (always the cheapest and freshest), basil, rosemary. Add to the pot with 1/4 cup of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. If you like spice, add a crushed chile piquin.
Step Three: Toss the potatoes and veggies and place on a roasting pan or flat cookie sheet (if you don't have a pan, place on a few sheets of stacked foil). Roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes have a roasted look and veggies are cooked.
Step Four: Serve veggie mixture in large bowls and grate fresh parmesan over the dish.
Any leftovers can be eaten for breakfast - just reheat potatoes and eat with an egg. MMMMM.
Sunday's Best Hot Cakes
November 13, 2005
Being the spoiled little one that I am, my flatmate has decided to indulge my taste for blueberry pancakes this Sunday morning. This recipe is adapted from one the most old school cook books ever - the Menonite Christian Home Cook Book. My Aunt Lilly sent me and my sisters a new copy a few years ago and it is filled with amazing biscuit and bread recipes. We have Sister Irene Nikkel from Inman, Kansas to thank for this fabulous find.
You will need: 1 1/2 c of flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 c sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/3 c melted butter, 1 cup milk, 2 eggs.
Step One: Beat eggs slightly and set aside. Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Step Two: Add the butter and 1 c of milk (warmed) to the eggs. Stir together and pour into the bowl of dry ingredients. Beat only until all ingredients are incorporated. If you over mix ingredients, your batter will become too smooth and not very fluffy (it's okay if there are lumps in your mix, the batter should be bubbly).
Step Three: Melt 1 tblsp of butter in a nonstick large saute pan on medium heat. Ladle in the batter. Add frozen blueberries if you like. Cook until golden and flip.
Step Four: Heat some REAL maple syrup on the stove or microwave. Place a pat of butter on each pancake for the perfect pancakes.
Serve and enjoy (with coffee or tea).
Tom Yum Soup
November 11, 2005
It's the season for warm food and that means lots of soup posts (in case you haven't noticed). Tom Yum(my) Soup is a Thai soup made with a paste of red chile, garlic, lemon grass, and lime. The paste is available at any asian grocery. The taste is a light version of hot and sour soup (not thick like the Chinese version). I personally like this soup with coconut milk and tofu and served with rice.
You will need: Tofu, white onion, green onion, mushrooms, cilantro, thai basil (optional), coconut milk (light), tom yum paste, veggie stock.
Step One: If serving this with rice, start cooking this first - you know how by now.
Step Two: In a large pot, add your 1 cup of rough chopped mushrooms, 1/4 white onion thinly sliced, 4 sprigs of green onion chopped into long pieces, 3 cloves of garlic thinly sliced. Cook this at medium high with 2 tblsp of vegetable or olive oil for 5 minutes or until vegetables start to sweat and become a little soft.
Step Three: Pour in 1 cup of vegetable stock, can of light coconut milk, 1 cup of water. Add 2 heaping tablespoons of Tom Yum paste and work it into the broth.
Step Four: Dice your tofu into bite sized pieces - again, I like to use the extra soft because it absorbs the most flavor. Bring the entire pot to a simmer. If you like thai basil, you can add a handfull of leaves at this point.
Step Five: Serve soup over a scoop of rice and sprinkle cilantro on top.
Daal and Tomato Soup
November 10, 2005
Lentejas are a gift from the bean gods. Lentils come in green, brownish green, red, yellow, and are split or whole. This strange legume is quite tasty despite its garish reputation. Daal is a red lentil that is hulled and split. It has a beautiful coral color and cooks in a heartbeat. Daal is great for soups, but not cold or as a substitute for rice because it is a little mushy. I created this random soup out of a sheer desire to eat everything in the pantry before going to the grocery store again. Lentils provide good nutrients, especially if you are out of veggies and want something healthy to eat. I recommend serving this soup over brown or long grain white rice.
You will need:
- 1 pot for the daal, another for the rice.
- Gather 2 tsp fresh or powdered ginger, cumin, coriander,
- 1/2 small diced white onion,
- 2 cloves minced garlic,
- handful of chopped cilantro (optional, can sub with italian parsley),
- 2 c vegetable stock, 1 1/2 c water
- 2 tomatoes (overripe and near rotting are best for this soup as it all gets mushed up in the end),
- 1 lemon to finish it off.
Step One: Add 1 1/2 cups of daal (pick through it and rinse it first of course - like any other bean, it comes from the dirt) to your pot. Throw in vegetable stock, water, tomatoes (give 'em a rough chop), white onion, cloves of garlic, ginger, corriander and cumin, 2 sprigs of cilantro (optional). Cover with a lid and cook on medium high until lentils are soft (about 20 minutes). Add liquid if need be.
Step Two: Pull out the blender and pour everything in it from the pan. Add water or veggie stock if necessary. Blend until smooth. You can optionally add a spot of whipping cream if you want to alter the color a bit (about 1/4 cup worth).
Step Three: Return the daal to the pot and add 2 tblsp of olive oil or vegetable oil. Like other beans, these too need to be guisao (so you don't kill everyone with your foul smell). Cook for another 5-10 minutes. The consistency should be that of a smooth puree - more liquefied than baby food.
Step Four: Chop up some italian parsley or cilantro. Pour the soup into bowls by themselves or serve over rice (this is best if it will be your only course for dinner - be sure to start the rice first though - you know the drill by now). Sprinkle your fresh chopped herb on top and squeeze a bit of fresh lemon into each bowl. Oh so yummy.
Dinner for Four: Pinapple Shrimp Curry, Samosas, Salad and Dessert
November 08, 2005
Whether you are cooking in your dorm room or setting a table with your finest china, a good dinner party begins with good food. I played host many times in my college dorm kitchen and am confident that you fare better times with conveniences such as a microwave, freezer, fridge larger than a cooler, and a dishwasher. I went without all these things and managed to serve up quite a feast with a small range gas stove and 4 pans (one large stock pot, 1 medium sauce pot, 2 sautee pans). Should you like to play host/ess, I suggest a themed dinner. Mine included pineapple shrimp curry, jasmine rice, samosas, salad, and a chocolate dessert made by my flatmate.
For the Samosas you will need: russet potato, frozen peas, cardamom pods, carrot, salt, pepper, parsley, butter, corriander, cumin, white onion, garlic cloves (1 or two to taste), puff pastry or wonton wrappers. These are my imitation version of samosas which are fried or baked wrappers (like pastry dough) filled with seasoned potatoes, peas, and spices.
Step One: Peel your russet potato, dice into small pieces. Boil the diced pieces in a small pot of water with salt until soft. Drain and return papas to the pan.
Step Two: Add 2 tblsp of butter, dash of salt, 3/4 cup of frozen peas, cardamom pods (about 8-10), minced carrot (one), minced 1/8 white onion, 1 clove of garlic minced, 1/2 tsp of cumin and corriander. Sautee these ingredients until peas are hot, stir to keep from sticking.
Step Three: Set this mixture aside and take out your wonton wrappers or puff pastry. If you want low fat samosas, use puff pastry. Cut the pastry into triangles and place 1 tblsp or more worth of potato mixture on each piece, foling over and sealing edge to make a small triangle shape. The samosas should look like hand held appetizers at a party in the shape of triance wedges. If using wonton wrappers, do the same, sealing the edges with a dab of warm water on your finger. Set these aside.
Step Four: If baking puff pastry version, bake triangles at 350 degrees for 5-8 minutes or until pastry is light brown. If using wonton wrapper version, take a small sautee pan and pour 1/2 cup of vegetable oil in pan, adding more if necessary. Put pan on medium heat and carefully fry each side until light golden brown. Set fried samosas on a paper towel to drain off excess oil.
Step Five: Serve this as an appetizer with a small side salad of simple spring greens, red onion, and balsamic vinegar and olice oil dressing. Eat samosas with a side of tamarind sauce, you can buy this at the store pre-made.
For the Curry you will need: a red curry paste from your local asian grocer (thai style), bamboo shoots, white onions, ginger, thai basil, garlic, potatoes, coconut milk, veggie stock, white wine, salt, pepper, shrimp (deveined and peeled, raw).
Step One: In a large sautee pan, add 1/4 thin sliced white onions, 3/4 cup of bamboo shoots, 2 finely sliced cloves of garlic, 1 thumb sized piece of ginger minced, 1 plug of olive oil, and 1 russet potato peeled and diced. Sautee this for 4 minutes on medium high heat.
Step Two: Add 1 cup of white wine, 2 tblsp of red curry paste, 1 can of coconut milk, and 1 cup of veggie stock. Bring to a simmer and turn down heat.
Step Three: Pluck the leaves from 5 sprigs of thai basil (or more to taste) and throw these into the pan. While this cooks, you should make your rice according to the directions.
Step Four: About 3 minutes before serving, add your peeled, raw, deveined shrimp to the pan and bring to a simmer. Take pan off heat as soon as shrim turn pink (about 3 minutes). Serve this over the rice.
The chocolate pie luxury dessert is all Susan, so she will have to post her recipe if she believes you all worthy.
Serve the samosas and the salad first. If you eat on paper plates or china, you should serve this as a first course. Serve the curry and rice next, making sure to add the shrimp only before serving as it cooks very fast and will turn rubbery if you add it too early. Finish off with dessert. Should you wonder about proper dinner service, I can add a posting on that at a future date if need be. In any case, serve and enjoy with friends.
Mysteries of Grocery Shopping Solved
November 07, 2005
First, it is important that you have a kitchen stocked with your basic needs. Every year when I went back to school, my mom would send me away with a list of “kitchen basics” I’d need for cooking everyday. Mom, if you are reading this, perhaps you can post this special list. I cannot attempt to recreate that list here, but among the most essential cooking items, one should always have the following pantry items in stock:
Flour – use white unbleached, a small pack is fine
Olive oil – get a large bottle, I like dark green varieties
Vegetable oil – you need this to guisar your beans, fry your taco shells, etc.
Vinegar – this is a summer item, I prefer red wine vinegar
Salt – Kosher salt is the best for cooking and dining, large flakes make everything yummy
Sugar – again, as a bulk item, you can buy as little or as much as you like.
Beans – yes, if you don’t have these in stock, you must be living la vida loca. I like beans of all shapes, sizes, and colors – I don’t discriminate. Staple and yummy varieties include the pinto bean, black bean, and red bean.
Lentejas – lentils to you non-Spanish speaking folks. Lentils in green are my favorite and make a great soup or substitute for rice when eating fish.
Canned Tomatoes – you can never have enough of yummy canned whole tomatoes.
Pasta – whatever your fancy, you know at the end of the month, you will be eating this – don’t forget sauce if you like the red stuff, or at least olive oil
Rice – another fabulous and versatile staple. If you burn your rice or undercook it, or don’t have a ½ hour to spend babysitting it on the stove, get instant, or partially cooked rice varieties. I use a par-cooked wild rice and long grain white and brown rice often.
Garlic – buy it dry or buy it fresh – I think fresh is always best. Susan says: “Make sure to look on the bottom of the garlic clove to ensure that no black dust is present around the center – this is yucky mold.”
Spices – these are up to you, but I cannot live without pepper, chile piquin (the small whole red chilis used on pizza), cumin, fresh ginger, coriander, basil, oregano. I often buy or use fresh herbs when available.
Papas – papas (potatoes) are like pasta – plenty of carbs, really really cheap, and delicious by themselves or part of another dish. I like russets for baking and mashing, reds for roasting, small fingerlings for tossing in olive oil.
Bullion – bullion is usually a compact cube of some variety of stock and you should have some in your cabinet. I prefer vegetable stock in the juice form out of a box or can. Chicken is always a good thing. Tomato and fish bullion is also available in the Maggie or the Knorr brands (although with a lot of MSG).
Wine – not only to drink, mainly to use for cooking everything. I buy three bottles and go through them all in one – one and a half months. I buy the 3 for 10 dollar bottles of white wine. This is clearly not on my mother’s list!
Well mom, if I forgot something, please add it to this list.
After you got your basics, grocery shopping becomes a lot easier – you are shopping for things that go well with your basics. I organize my list around a vague idea of what I want to cook. Each item you buy should be versatile and be able to go in more than one dish. My veggie list looks like this:
Spinach or Swiss Chard – good for spinach pie, lasagna, chard and garbanzos, or pasta
Mushrooms – need I list all of their uses?
Onions – white are the tastiest
Garlic – again, fresh
Squash – of any variety
Green Lettuces – I like butter lettuce especially for salads
Cucumbers – in salad or by themselves
Carrots – a food basic for soups and such
Celery – don’t need a full head, but it goes in so many things
Bell peppers – in all colors if I can
Tofu – yuck to some and mmmm to me, I prefer extra soft for soups
Green Beans – by themselves or with rice, oh so luxury
Broccoli – again, alone or with pasta it is fantastic
Italian parsley - flat leafed and always cheap, this runs about 99 cents a bunch
Bananas and apples (honey suckles are in season)
Tomatoes, garbanzo beans, other beans when lazy, corn, tomato paste.
Stop buying pizza. I love frozen peas. I also like to buy frozen pasta raviolis, rice or udon noodles for soup, pie crusts (Marie Calendar crusts are great).
1 pint of whipping cream, block of parmesan cheese, 4 sticks of unsalted butter (not the fake stuff).
Okay, this extensive list will help you cook many of the things already on my blog. I promise to note special ingredients for weird dishes which usually consist of curries and miso based soups (in lieu of beef or chicken stock). Also of note is that I don't buy a lot of dairy like cheese and milk - this is because I am lactose intolerant and prefer not to torture others with my bad smells.
Ravioli with Broccoli and Creamy Pesto Sauce
November 05, 2005
This recipe can be a bit complicated so you can take the easy way out and use a jar of your favorite red sauce in lieu of the pesto sauce. This dish can be served up in a hurry, but it retains an elegant presentation. The dish contains raviolis with fresh cream pesto sauce, and a side of steamed broccoli with chile piquin and olive oil.
You will need: a package of your favorite raviolis, 2 full crowns of broccoli, chile piquin, olive oil, pesto sauce (recipe included), cream, tomatoes.
The Pesto Sauce: Pesto sauce is a delicate sauce made from basil, garlic, parsley, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, salt and olive oil. If you make this, you can freeze the leftovers and use it for about 4 or 5 other dishes. This is the raw pesto, no cream yet!
For the Pesto (no cream yet), you will need:
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 c of toasted pine nuts, shelled
- 3/4 c of fresh grated parmesan
- 3 bunches of basil (remove the stems)
- 1/2 c of flat leaf Italian parsley, rinsed and patted dry
- salt to taste
- 1 c of olive oil
Step One: In a blender or food processor, add 4 cloves of garlic, 1/2 cup of toasted pine nuts, 3/4 cup of fresh grated Parmesan. Work the blender or processor to brake these ingredients down finely.
Step Two: Add 3 bunches of chopped basil, 1/2 cup of rough chopped flat leaf parsley. Blend this using the pulse function. You may have to stop the processor or blender and use a rubber spatula to scrape the top and bottom.
Step Three: Put the lid on the blender or processor and take out the small inner lid used to pour in liquids. While blending the ingredients, slowly drizzle in olive oil -- you may not need the entire 1 c depending on the consistency you like. Add salt. The mixture should be a deep green and have a thick consistency; after pouring it into a bowl, there should be about 1/4 inch of olive oil that floats to the top.
You should set aside about 3 tblsp of pesto, and freeze the rest. Tip from my viejo: when freezing this, place it in a plastic tupperware container and place a piece of saranwrap down over the pesto mixture before putting the lid on. This keeps the pesto from turning brown in the freezer.
Step One: wash the broccoli crowns and cut off the florrettes. Place in pot with 3/4 cup of water. If you have a steamer (it looks like a collapsing flower with holes) place the florettes on this. Throw on a dash of salt and place a lid over the sauce pot and cook on medium high for 5-7 minutes or until tender. Color should be bright green like a crayon.
Raviolis: I prefer to buy fresh made raviolis from a gourmet grocery and freeze them until I cook them. This dish goes well with mushroom ravioli or cheese raviolis.
Step One: In a large pot, boil water with a dash of salt.
Step Two: Cook your favorite ravioli according to directions - if frozen, they take only 4-6 minutes to cook. Remove from water and place on a plate, cover to keep warm.
Pesto Cream Sauce:
Step One: In the same pan you cooked the raviolis in, after you've removed the raviolis and drained the water, return it to the stove on medium heat. Add 5 tblsp of cream and the 3 tblsp of pesto.
Step Two: Whisk this for a few minutes until it thickens slightly - do not let this boil! This makes just enough sauce to coat 8-10 raviolis.
Serving: Take the broccoli out of the steamed pot, and serve on plates. Crush a red chile piquin over the broccoli and drizzle olive oil (about 2 tblsp worth) over the florrettes. Place the raviolis on each plate and spoon on the cream pesto over each ravioli. Slice tomatoes and place on plate, for complete meal. Again, if the pesto is too difficult, warm up marinara and spoon over raviolis, this tastes just as great (DO NOT use cheap gross brands of jarred sauce like Prego. Instead use Classico, Rao's or other brand that uses real tomatoes).
Serve and enjoy.
Chard the Swiss for Deep Pink Rice
November 03, 2005
All hail the fall! Autumn vegetables are in full season, including squash, parsnips, endive, mushrooms, cauliflower, and of course swiss chard. Swiss chard is a leafy vegetable and looks like a cross between spinach and rhubarb. Chard can be served in the style of spinach, but it also goes well in other dishes too. This dish was invented in my kitchen today so I can confidently say that it was good and surprisingly filling.
You will need:
- 1 a bundle of rainbow Swiss chard (try to get the organic kind because the leaves tend to be greener),
- 1/4 c sliced white onion,
- 2 garlic,
- piquin pepper,
- 1 can garbanzo beans (a.k.a. chickpeas),
- 2 diced carrots,
- 1 c white wine,
rest of this recipe is optional if you just want the greens
-1 can of whole tomatoes,
-1 c vegetable stock,
- parsley, salt, pepper.
Optional ingredient: fennel.
This is a 2 dish meal, you need a large pan, and a small pot to cook rice (or do as I do by cooking rice in a rice cooker)
Step One: Get your rice cooking. I use white rice, generally portions are 1 c rice to 2 c of water, dash of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 1/2 hour (don't peek, this will ruin your rice, but don't burn it either!).
Step Two: In a large skillet, sautee 2 cloves of garlic, 1/4 onion (sliced), 2 carrots (thinly sliced), 1 crushed piquin pepper, 4 tbsp olive oil together on medium heat (if you want to add fennel, slice it up thin and add it now). Cook this for about 4 minutes, add one can of drained chickpeas. Cook for another 2 minutes, add 1 c of wine and squeeze 1/2 lemon into pan. Cook this for another 4 minutes so alcohol cooks off.
Step Three: Open the can of whole peeled tomatoes. (this makes 4 servings when you use a large can, (1 lb). Take out each tomato and cut it up. Add tomatoes and juice from can to the pan. Chop up handful worth of parsley and add to the pan, simmering through. Add 1 cup of vegetable stock, simmering while the rice cooks.
Step Four: Wash the chard and give it a rough chop. Add the chard about 2 minutes before serving. The chard needs only to wilt in the pan. Stir this around, adding salt and pepper to flavor.
Step Five: When rice finishes cooking, place rice down in bowl and then serve the chard tomato mixture on top. The mixture will turn the rice a vibrant pink.
Serve and enjoy.
November 01, 2005
Tis the season for shell fish. You heard me - get your tail to the nearest Whole Foods (best fish market of any chain store) and buy some of the freshest shellfish of the season. Right now, mussels are around $3 per pound. This underrated shell fish makes an excellent soup, pasta, or appetizer. I decided to serve these mussels over a bed of angel hair pasta drizzled in hot butter and olive oil, tossed with parsley, salt and pepper. This seasonal delight is sure to please any seafood craving for two.
You will need:
- 2 lbs fresh mussels,
- handful chopped parsley,
- 2 garlic cloves,
- 1/4 whole white onion,
- 1 lemon,
- 1 c white wine, 1 c water (for mussels); 1/4 c white wine and 1/3 c cream for pasta
- pasta (optional),
- butter, olive oil, piquin pepper.
Step One: When you go to the store to purchase your shellfish, (2 pounds worth for this recipe) be sure to tell the fishmonger to give you closed shellfish only (open ones are either breathing or worse - dead). When you purchase any shellfish, you have to cook it that day and keep it on ice in the fridge until you are ready to cook it. Take the shells and dump them into a colander, rinsing under cold water. Lightly scrub each mussel, removing the "beard" or the thing that looks like sea plant stuck to the lip of the mussel. When you finish rinsing and scrubbing the mussels, throw them into a pot (make sure that these are all closed shells only, remove the open shells because the diagnosis is now confirmed - the little guy is dead).
Add 1 cup of white wine and 1 cup of water to the mussels. Cut a lemon in half, squeeze it into the pan and throw the lemon in too along with 2 crushed garlic cloves, a couple sprigs of parsley, dash of pepper, crushed piquin pepper, and a slice of white onion. You may also add a tablespoon of butter or dash of olive oil for extra flavor. Put a lid on the pot and cook on medium-high for about 7-10 minutes or until the shells open and the mussels turn orange. Remove from the heat immediately. You can serve these "as-is" in a bowl with the brine (the cooking liquid from the pot) and a piece of baguette. You may also add 1/3 cup of cream to the brine and simmer for another 3 minutes. If you want a more substantial meal, go to Step Two.
Step Two: While the mussels cook, bring another pot with water to a boil and throw in a dash of salt. Add the angel hair pasta and cook according to directions. Remove the pasta, rinse in cold water and set aside.
Step Three: In a sauce pan, melt 2 tblsp of butter and 4 tblsp of olive oil at medium heat. Add one crushed garlic clove and cook for another minute. Add a handful of finely chopped parsley, and 1/4 cup of white wine. You may also add 1/3 cup of cream at this stage if you'd like. Cook this for another 4 minutes, add pasta and toss until pasta is warm again. Place pasta in bowls, add mussels, and brine.
Serve and enjoy