Saturday, August 30, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
The October 2008 edition has a recipe for Greek "fava," a puree of yellow split peas that serves as a polenta-type base that's the consistency of mashed potatoes. It can be topped with anything you want. I decided to grill vegetables seasoned with a Greek blend of herbs and spices.
This was my first attempt at making something Greek. I used to wait tables at The Trojan Horse, which boasts "Greek specialties and American favorites," and my favorite thing there was the moussaka, a casserole with beef, eggplant, and custard topping. It looked so very involved...but maybe I'll try that next time.
Anyway, the fava couldn't be easier to make, although mine turned out a little dry, so when I served it, I drizzled a little extra olive oil on top.
Greek fava, or yellow split pea puree (makes 2 dinner servings)
1 tablespoon plus 1-1/2 teaspoon olive oil, divided
2 cups vegetable broth
3/4 cup yellow split peas, rinsed
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1.) Heat the tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan, and cook onion until soft. Add the split peas, stir, then add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer about 45 minutes, or until the peas are very soft.
2.) Transfer the peas to a food processor; add the lemon juice, remaining oil, and salt; and puree until smooth.
Grilled Greek vegetables (makes 4-6 servings)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dill
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small eggplant, cut into pieces about an inch thick and 2 inches long, and lightly salted
1 large tomato, cut into chunks
1 large zucchini, thickly sliced
1/2 large onion, chopped into fairly large pieces
1 green bell pepper, chopped
metal skewers (4 long or 8 short)
1.) Pre-heat grill to medium. Combine first nine ingredients, through the salt.
2.) Put the salted eggplant pieces in a colander and let them drain over the sink for a half hour. Pat dry with a paper towel.
3.) Put all veggies in a large bowl. Pour the olive oil over them and toss to coat evenly.
4.) Sprinkle the herb mixture on top of the veggies, and toss again to coat evenly.
5.) Thread veggies onto skewers and grill, covered, until browned and tender, about 7 minutes a side.
Patient: "Doctor, doctor! I keep thinking I'm a slice of bread."
Doctor: "You've got to stop loafing around." (from All the Jokes)
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Dad's pepper steak and rosemary potatoes (pictured above)
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
Coming a little later this week: Greek grilled vegetables over a puree of yellow split peas.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
I frequently buy blackened tofu in the deli of Bloomingfoods, sometimes just on its own, sometimes on the yummy sandwich they make that has red onion, lettuce, tomato, and vegannaise.
Today's question: Do you have any suggestions for interesting dishes I can make?
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Rice in green tea with salmon (serves 4)
Steamed eggplant with sesame sauce (serves 4 -- and would be even better as a main dish over rice than as a side!)
2 large aubergines (eggplant -- the long, light purple ones you can find at Asian markets)
about 2-1/2 cups dashi stock (that amount of water mixed with dashi-no-moto, also found at Asian markets), divided
3 tablespoons extra fine sugar, divided
1 tablespoon plus one dash of soy sauce, divided
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, ground with a mortar and pestle
2 tablespoons sake, divided (sake is Japanese wine; I bought cooking sake)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut in half
1/4 teaspoons salt
1.) Peel the aubergines and cut in quarters, lengthwise. Prick with a skewer or fork and put in salted water for a half-hour. Drain them, cut them in half, and steam them until tender.
2.) Mix 1-2/3 cups dashi stock, half the sugar, 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large pan. Carefully put the eggplants into the mixture, and cook at a gentle simmer for 15 minutes.
3.) Take 3 tablespoons of that stock and mix it with the ground sesames. Pour that back into the pan with the veggies.
4.) Mix 1 tablespoon sake and the cornstarch together, and add that to the pan, stirring quickly to mix it in. When it starts to become very thick, remove the pan from the heat. (I don't think I let my sauce get quite thick enough.)
5.) Mix the remaining dashi stock, sugar, sake, salt and soy sauce in a large, shallow pan, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until tender.
6.) Serve the aubergines in sauce, with the mushrooms and beans on top.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Although I won't be posting a new recipe of my own, I'll provide some links to delicious recipes that have become regulars in my house.
Here are two recipes I tore out of magazines; lucky for you, they're online: Red chile and pecan slaw, from Self, is worth the prep work, for sure. This became an instant fave of mine. It's sweet and hot, just the way I like it. ... and potato salad with cornichons, from Domino. Fresh tarragon and those itty-bitty pickles make this delicious.
If you haven't visited Enlightened Cooking yet, you really should check it out. Camilla Saulsbury is an award-winning recipe creator -- and I mean, BIG-time wins, including a $100,000 Food Network chicken challenge award. I frequently try out the recipes she posts. Two of my favorites are energy bars (I like to make them with dried apple, cinnamon, and walnuts) and edamame dip with fresh lime and cilantro, which I just made over the weekend. It is fabulous and super healthy! I plan to try Camilla's red pepper and almond spread later this week, if I can easily find smoked almonds.
From Eating Well, my #1 recipe source: A dip I could eat every day -- this will knock your socks off -- is garlic and white bean dip. Yes, there's a ton of garlic in it, but you cook it slowly for so long, it just makes it sweetly garlicky. It truly is well worth the time it takes to make it, and the somewhat laborious procedures.
That recipe started me on a major cannellini bean kick, and I found this EW recipe for baked cod with chorizo and white beans -- a huge hit with my sister and mom, so don't just take my word for it.
Another EW recipe I use for parties is chocolate fudge pudding cake. It's quite easy but tastes like a fancy dessert you've been busting your butt to get on the table. Very decadent -- but with only 220 calories and 7 grams of fat per serving.
Last one from EW, although there are so many more: Pesto-stuffed chicken breasts. (Later this week, I'll be making homemade pesto, and I'll post that recipe.)
Lastly, the sharp-as-a-tack Dr. Zorba Paster is someone whose Wisconsin-based radio program I listen to every week. Zorba gives free medical advice to callers, and he always provides a heart-healthy recipe, such as these two scrumptious ones, African peanut soup and Turkish spinach with rice (some raw garlic in that one!).
I hope you enjoy those as much as I do.
Tomorrow I'll be working on that Japanese feast I promised.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Saturday, August 16, 2008
The other recipe of hers I posted was for her Dijon vinaigrette. There will be many more to share via this blog in the future.
Also this week: Because I'm on an Asian food kick, I figured I should make something from my favorite Asian cuisine, Japanese! "Rice in green tea with salmon," served with "steamed aubergines in sesame sauce," will be on the menu.
Check back soon for the recipes!
Today's question: Do you have a favorite salad dressing recipe?
Friday, August 15, 2008
Below are instructions from McDermott's book. I hope you can enlarge it by clicking on it, but I'm not sure. In a nutshell, though: Put all the ingredients except the beef and the skewers in a small food processor or hand blender, and blend until fairly smooth. Cut the beef into 2-inch strips, thinly, and cover them in a medium bowl with the marinade for a couple hours in the refrigerator. Then thread the beef onto the skewers and grill over high heat for 1-2 minutes per side.
Serve with vegetable fried rice.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
When I asked my husband if he knew where I could buy fresh lemongrass -- it's not something I've noticed at the store -- he looked at me as if he thought I was kidding. As it turns out, we have plenty of lemongrass in our garden, just next to the raised plot that's currently drowning in basil (a nice problem to have, by the way, especially if you like pesto as much as we do).
For those of you who don't know how to spot the green herb, it basically looks like tall grass with green onions at the bottom. (In my photo, it's the grassy thing in the middle of the two blooming plants.) It has a pungent taste and is used commonly in fairly small amounts in Thai and Vietnamese dishes.
I won't be posting a recipe today; I have made the difficult decision to do some deep kitchen cleaning today instead. I feel this is certainly more unfortunate for me than for you readers...
Check back tomorrow for the beef recipe.
The question of the day: What's your favorite thing to grill?
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
I will never forget the first time I tried a real Spanish tortilla. I was visiting a friend in San Francisco, and her Spanish boyfriend's mother had made us all a snack to take to the beach one afternoon. My friend said it was a tortilla, so what I expected was a flat corn or flour wrap. Not too exciting to eat without being stuffed.
Well, the tortilla in question was in fact a typical Spanish one, made with eggs, potatoes, onions, salt and pepper, and the skill that comes with many years of making the common dish. It was fantastic! We ate it with our hands, like we would a chunk of bread.
While the ingredients may sound like a potato omelette, tortillas really have a distinct taste, probably from all the olive oil. Pre-made tortillas can be found in supermarkets in Spain, and while they taste OK, they don't compare to the homemade ones.
My sister Michelle, who lived in Madrid for several years, makes a mean homemade tortilla, which I tried for the first time earlier this summer. This is my first attempt at using her recipe, and though it reads as if it's pretty straight forward, there are a couple of things I'm concerned about: 1) I am not supposed to let the potatoes get crispy, and 2) I have to flip the tortilla onto a plate toward the end.
Michelle's tortilla (makes 4 servings)
3-4 medium potatoes, washed, peeled, and thickly sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
lots of olive oil (I used about 3/4 cup)
salt and pepper, to taste
1.) Fry the potatoes and onions in the olive oil over medium heat, stirring often so they don't get crispy. I covered them between stirs.
2.) Chop the potato pieces as they are cooking; this will allow you to see how soft they are and make them more bite-sized. When they are cooked, take them off the heat and drain the olive oil.
3.) Add the potatoes to the eggs and stir. Then pour them into a non-stick pan over medium-low heat and cook until the eggs are almost completely cooked through. (This is where I added salt and pepper.)
4.) Loosen the tortilla from the pan with a rubber spatula. Put a plate over the pan and turn the tortilla onto the plate -- surprisingly easy! -- then slide it back into the pan, allowing the other side to cook. I continued cooking it for about 4 minutes because my pan was small, so the tortilla was thick.
5.) Let the tortilla cool. Serve it at room temperature.
The question of the day: What's the best egg-based dish you've ever had?
Monday, August 11, 2008
When I'm really hungry, the last thing I want to make is a salad and some dressing. There's just too much washing, grating, slicing, and so on. But it's not so hard to get a good meal of leafy greens if the salad is ready and waiting to be eaten -- and if there's a delicious piece of protein to top it.
I usually make an extra-large salad, then divide it into three portions. It's a cinch to grab on my way out the door so I don't have to buy lunch somewhere, or to pull out for dinner after a long day, when I don't feel like cooking. (I store the dressing on the side.)
My favorite salad to make ahead has:
red leaf lettuce
halved cherry tomatoes or chopped Romas
thinly sliced red onion
toasted sliced almonds or walnut pieces (add just before eating)
sliced kiwi (add just before eating)
Today, I'm going to make a sesame-crusted chicken breast for the salad. I don't like to cook chicken breast on the stove, so I usually just bake it in the oven, either brushed with a little oil or covered in salsa or a yogurt sauce. I'm not a fan of dredging in flour or coating with breadcrumbs; it seems too time-consuming, and it's hard to tell how hot the pan should be.
Taste-wise, though, a crusted piece of chicken -- or fish, for that matter -- is really a nice change once in a while, so I thought I would see how it went to make this at home.
I marinated the chicken for a couple hours before cooking it in a marinade I usually use for fish.
Asian marinade (for fish, chicken, or tofu)
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/3 cup cooking sherry
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
Whisk ingredients together in a shallow dish, and add the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for two hours, turning the breasts once to coat.
Remove the chicken from the fridge and from the marinade. Discard the marinade. Use the chicken immediately for the following recipe.
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 cup sesame seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (preferably marinated)
1 tablespoon canola oil
Heat oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. (Make sure it's a NON-STICK skillet... I ruined two chicken breasts by cooking them in a cast-iron pan today! The sesame seed coating just stuck right to the bottom.) Combine the first three ingredients, and dredge the chicken breasts in them. Cook, covered, for about 7 minutes per side, or until there's no pink in the center of the meat.
The question of the day: Do you have a favorite dish to cook?
Tomorrow is Tortilla Tuesday! I will be making my sister's Spanish tortilla. You can, too, if you have 5 eggs, 4 medium potatoes, an onion, and plenty of olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
As I look forward to a second day of not making dinner -- my husband's cooking tonight, and last night, we enjoyed tasty pulled pork and beef brisket at a wedding -- I thought I'd quickly share one of my favorite easy recipes.
Friday, August 8, 2008
Trout gumbo (makes 4 servings)
1-1/2 to 2 cups cooked trout, pesky bones carefully removed by hand, chopped into 1-inch pieces (although it might fall apart, and that's OK)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-1/2 tablespoons flour
1/2 large white or yellow onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
8-10 ounces cut okra (I use frozen)
1-1/2 cups vegetable or fish stock
1 cup diced tomatoes, preferably the fire-roasted kind
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
plenty of freshly ground black pepper
salt, to taste, only after cooking if you're using the trout left over from the salt-crusted trout
lots of hot sauce (I use Melinda's)
gumbo file to sprinkle on individual servings (optional)
1.) Heat the flour in a small, non-stick pan over low heat, stirring, for about 6 minutes. Put aside.
2.) Heat the oil in a medium soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and peppers, and cook until the onion softens, 4-5 minutes or so. Stir the flour in, making sure to coat the vegetables evenly with it.
3.) Add the vegetable or fish stock and okra, and let it gently simmer so it thickens.
4.) Add the tomatoes, thyme, pepper, and hot sauce.
5.) Add the fish. Take the gumbo off the heat, allowing the fish to heat but not continue cooking.
6.) Refrigerate and let the flavors combine for at least a few hours before reheating and serving, with a sprinkle of gumbo file on each bowl.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
OK, making a salt crust for a whole fish really IS simple. Fun, too.
7.) Pick up the bottom halves and do the same on a different surface. (This part is tricky; turn the bottom halves around, so the skin is on top again.)
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
2 cups of the quinoa mixture from quinoa-stuffed zucchini
1/2 small carrot, shredded
1/2 medium zucchini, shredded
1 green onion, sliced
a 15.5-ounce can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
olive oil for misting
1.) Combine ingredients through the eggs, and beat with a wire whisk.
2.) Put half of that mixture into a food processor with the chickpeas and process until smooth. (I only process half because I like to see colorful bits of veggies in my burgers, but you can process all of it if you prefer.)
3.) Stir those mixtures together.
4.) Mist olive oil generously into a non-stick pan over medium-high heat.
5.) Make patties by hand just before putting into pan -- they will be sticky and wet -- and fry for three to four minutes per side.
Serve with a side of tahini sauce, yogurt or a sweet dip.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 Anaheim peppers
- 2 cups of frozen corn
- 2 15.5-ounce cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1-1/2 cups crushed tomatillos (If I can't find tomatillos, I use mild salsa verde.)
- about 1 cup of water
- 1 bay leaf
- salt, to taste
- green onions, to garnish
- optional: one diced zucchini or yellow squash
- optional: 1/2 teaspoon or more cayenne pepper, if you like it really hot
Monday, August 4, 2008
Now, I'll admit it, I'm a by-the-book recipe gal. I'm not a very intuitive cook. It's only after I try a recipe exactly as it's written that I tweak it the next time. For me to decide to make something original means I need to find a little inspiration. I looked to one of my favorite cookbooks, The Wellness Kitchen, and specifically to its rice pilaf creator chart. The charts in this cookbook allow you to pick and choose ingredients, but they still guide you through the steps of making something. (There are charts for soups, poultry in parchment packets, and more.)
I replaced the rice with quinoa, a favorite grain of mine, and using round zucchini from the Farmers' Market, I made the following dish. It turned out pretty damn good!
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon powdered, low-sodium vegetable stock
3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 yellow or white onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, grated
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted (walnuts would work, too)
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
salt and black pepper
4 round zucchini squash, about 8-10 ounces each
1-1/2 tablespoons Madras curry
two pinches of turbinado sugar (white or brown sugar will do)
a generous handful of golden raisins
plain, lowfat yogurt (or soy yogurt)
1.) Put the quinoa, water, bay leaf and veggie powder in a pot; cover and bring to a boil. It should take about 15 minutes for the quinoa to cook.
2.) In a separate small pan, cook the onion, red pepper, and carrot in a teaspoon of oil. About halfway through the quinoa cooking time, you can add the mixture of onion, red pepper, and carrot to the quinoa, along with the almonds, the sage and salt and pepper to taste.
3.) Slice the tops off the squash, and scoop out the zucchini meat. (I discard the watery, seedy parts in such a dish; I find they make it too watery. I use just the firm parts.) Put the zucchini with a teaspoon of oil, the curry powder and the sprinkle of sugar in the same small pan you used for the other vegetables. Cover, and cook for about five minutes over medium heat.
4.) Add the zucchini mixture to the quinoa. Add the raisins now, too. Stir, then cover the pot, but take it off the heat.
5.) Rub a little oil on the outside of the zucchini rounds. Fill them with the quinoa mixture. (You will probably have some quinoa left to serve on the side.*) Put their tops back on, and bake in a 350-degree oven -- I like to use a clay pot for this -- for about 30 minutes. The zucchini are done when they are tender but not mushy.
Serve with plain, lowfat yogurt or soy yogurt on the side.
* Don't know what to do with the leftover quinoa filling? See my recipe for quinoa patties.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
It seems the process is a very simple one. You basically make a paste with sea salt and egg whites, which covers the fish completely. Any small, whole fish will work. You roast it, then crack the salt crust off. The crust is supposed to seal in moisture and flavor. I plan to stuff the fish with fresh herbs from my garden.
Now, something tells me it might be hard to find a whole fresh fish in landlocked Bloomington, Indiana. If I can't find a fresh one, I'll look for the next best thing. According to a wonderful beast of a book called "On Cooking," if a fish is labeled "fresh," that means it has never been frozen. If it's labeled "chilled," it indicates refrigeration (and I guess is replacing "fresh" in some places). If it's labeled "flash-frozen," it was quickly frozen after being caught; "fresh-frozen" is not quite as quickly frozen as flash; and "fancy" means previously frozen. "Glazed" is a term I'd never heard, and it means the fish was dipped in water while frozen, creating a protective glaze that prevents freezer burn.
My goal is to find a fresh fish, or at least a flash-frozen one. We'll see!
The question of the day: What's your favorite kitchen utensil?
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Friday, August 1, 2008
If you don't know me, you might be wondering what kind of food I like and make. I'm the kind of person who will eat any food once, and so far, there's not much I don't like (except andouillette and sea urchin). But I've always been too intimidated -- or lazy, maybe -- to venture out when my own kitchen is concerned.
I've steered clear of big roasts, whole birds (although I've recently started roasting chicken), whole fish, and laborious procedures in general. That's all going to change.
Sometime next week I will make a salt-crusted fish. The whole fish.
I hope you'll check back now and then to read up on how things are going! Any suggestions for where to find great recipes for the fish are welcome...