Sunday, November 20, 2011

Moosewood Spaghetti

This has been the kids' favorite spaghetti sauce for years. I think Phil gave it the name "Moosewood Spaghetti". It is actually called "Italian Tomato Sauce" and comes from Molly Katzen's "Moosewood Cookbook". She also has a Marinara variation and I have made up a Tofu and meat variation, all included below.
The recipe serves 6-8. I always double it with the intention of freezing half but I have yet to be able to do that. Phil, you'll have to let us know if the Italians have a better recipe than this one!

3 Tbs. olive oil                                          1 1-lb.,13 oz. can tomatoes
2 cups chopped onion                                1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 medium sized bell pepper, diced               1 Tbs. honey
2 tsp. basil                                               lots of black pepper
1 tsp. oregano                                          6 cloves garlic, minced 
1 tsp. thyme                                             1/2 cup freshly minced 
1 1/2 tsp. salt                                           parsley

*1 lb Tofu, dried (see below - this takes extra time but provides a "meatier texture") and cubed 
** 1 lb. ground turkey or half turkey/half beef if you want a meat sauce (see notes below)

1) Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or kettle.  Add onion, bell pepper, herbs, and salt, and sauté over medium heat until the onion is very soft. (8 to 10 minutes.) 
2) Add the dry, cubed tofu and cook until it is sticking a bit on the bottom. If possible, try to lightly brown it, stirring from time to time. If you're not using tofu, skip to step 3. 
3) Add tomatoes, tomato paste, honey, and black pepper. (I like to blend the tomatoes into a liquid in the blender. If you like chunky spaghetti sauce, break up the tomatoes into bite sized pieces.) Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, partially covered, for 30 - 45 minutes.
4) Add garlic, and cook about 10 minutes more.  At this point, the sauce can sit for up to several hours, or be refrigerated for up to a week.  Heat gently before serving, and add parsley at the last minute.

This sauce will coat at least 1 lb. spaghetti noodles.

* To dry the tofu: Drain it. Turn it on its side and cut 4 equal slabs on each block, making 8 slabs total. Set it on newspaper topped with paper towel for the initial drain. 
Get out the rest of your ingredients. Now take the partially drained tofu slabs and put them on fresh paper towel (and more newspaper if the first is already wet) and lay a clean towel on top. Put a large heavy cutting board on top of the towel and tofu slabs and canned goods equal to at least 8 lbs. Let it sit to dry. Drier tofu makes for a "meatier" texture. For best results, try to do this an hour before adding it to the sautéed vegetables. After it is dry, cube it.

** If you want a meat sauce, use only 1 Tbs. oil and cook the meat until it is nice and brown. Do this FIRST and then proceed to Step 1, adding no extra oil to sauté the vegetables. 

2 medium stalks celery, minced
1 lb. mushrooms, chopped
1-2 medium (6 inch) zucchini, diced
2-3 medium sized ripe tomatoes, chopped
a handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped

Add with Step 1. Sauté until all vegetables are very tender.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bubble-Up Pizza

Shame on me for posting this recipe but Duylinh told me to. I'll confess up front about the shameful part: A big can of low fat GRANDS biscuits. The good outweighs the bad, though: It is vegetarian and you can get lots of healthy greens packed in - even the bitter ones will taste good with this recipe. I've adapted it from the post on the "" site - I read that the original recipe comes from a Nun in Minnesota. Also it is very versatile and EASY.  Plus you can make a new creation each time. 

1 Largest size Reduced Fat GRANDS biscuits
2 1/4 cups spaghetti sauce (Bertolli's Arrabbiata Red Pepper is very good)
2 cups grated cheese (a mix is really nice: mozzarella, swiss, sharp cheddar)
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/4 c. parmesan cheese

1/2 large or 1 small onion, sliced thin
1 8 oz. container mushrooms, sliced thin OR
1 small eggplant, sliced thin
1/2 bag spinach or 1-2 cups other green (kale works well)
peppers, 1/2 red or green bell pepper, sliced thin
1 serrano pepper, sliced thin
a handful of fresh, chopped basil leaves (optional but great addition)

1 small zucchini, sliced thin
4 green onions, chopped
artichoke hearts, sliced
Pineapple bits, not too many!
anything else you can get away with (I've even used grated cabbage!)

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease the bottom of a 9"X13" pan with olive oil. (just a few drops) Mix the garlic into the spaghetti sauce. Put 1 cup of the sauce in the pan. Cut the biscuits using kitchen shears into the sauce, into 6 or 9 pieces each. Stir in one cup of the cheese. Add the toppings of your choice and mix to combine. 
Spread out in pan and pour the remaining 1 1/4 cups sauce and 1 cup cheese over all. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Bake for 35 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving. 
If you come up with a better way to assemble this, let me know.
Bon Appétit!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

gung bao chicken

I've been making this recipe for years. It's very good, I promise! I usually triple the recipe so that we can eat it for left overs and then all I would need to make would be a vegetable dish to accompany the left overs. We usually have all the sauces needed at the house for this, so we only have to buy the chicken, which makes it a very economical dish for us.
Tip: If you can't find the Sichuan peppercorns (since they might be hard to come by), you can omit it. We had to order them online. I find that the dish, however,  is not all that different without the Sichuan peppercorns. Also, while the recipe calls for boned chicken, we prefer to leave the bones in the chicken. I think it adds more flavor, but it really just comes down to personal preference.

adapted from the Periplus Mini Cookbooks series, Spicy Sichuan Cooking

1lb boned fresh chicken meat, cut in 3/4 inch chunks
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
10 dried red chillies, cut in thirds
10 Sichuan peppercorns
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
6 slices of ginger
3 spring onions (scallions) cut in 1 1/2 inch lengths

1 tablespoon cooking wine
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cornflour dissolved in 1 teaspoon water

3 tablespoons Sweet Thick Soy Sauce ( I highly recommend the brand ABC Kecap Manis. Found at most Asian grocery.)
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 tablespoon cooking wine
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cornflour dissolved in 1/4 cup of water

1. Place the chicken chunks in the bowl and pour the marinade ingredients over. Mix well with fingers and leave aside to marinate for 15-20 minutes.
2. Combine sauce ingredients and set aside.
3. Heat oil in a wok (or pot) until hot, then add the cut dried chilies and allow them to scorch for 30 to 60 seconds. Add the Sichuan peppercorns, garlic and ginger, and stir-fry 30 seconds more.
4. Add the marinated chicken and stir-fry quickly, turning frequently, until chicken changes color and gets firm, about 3-4 minutes. Then add the sauce, stir to blend all ingredients, cover with lid, lower heat to medium, and braise for 5 minutes. Remove lid, add spring onions, stir to mix with the chicken for 30 seconds, then remove to a serving dish.

If you leave the bones in the chicken, I find that you have to braise it a little longer than 5 minutes.

Serves 4

cabbage sautéed with dried shrimp

you can get the small dried shrimp for this dish at the asian and mexican market.  however, i think the dried shrimp at the asian market is higher quality so that might be reflected in the price.

from Periplus Mini Cookbook series, Spicy Sichuan Cooking

1/4 cup small dried shrimp 
2 tablespoons rice wine
1 medium or large head of Chinese Napa cabbage ( about 1 1/2 lbs)
2 tablespoons oil
2 slices ginger, cut in thin slivers
2 spring onions (scallions), halved lengthways, then cut in three

2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt

1. Place dried shrimp in a small bowl, cover with the rice wine and leave to soak for 10-15 minutes, drain and set aside. 
2. Wash and drain the cabbage, cut each leaf in half lengthways, then cut each half into pieces about 2 inches long. 
3. Combine the sauce ingredients and set aside. 
4. Heat oil in the wok (if you have one) or heavy set pot until hot, then add the ginger, spring onions and shrimp, and stir-fry until their aromas are released, about 2 minutes. 
5. Add the cut cabbage and continue to toss until coated with oil. Then add the sauce , stir to mix well, cover with lid, lower heat to medium, and simmer until the cabbage is soft and tender, about 12 to 15 minutes. Check occasionally to see if it is done, and that it does not get scorched. Remove to dish and serve. 

Serves 4

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Red Pesto

Red pesto is a good alternative to green pesto because it is cheaper to make since it does not involve pine nuts. It is a very good vegetarian friendly sauce that is versatile. Spread it on french bread, bruschetta, or pizza, or toss it with a thin pasta like linguini.  It also goes well with grilled poultry or seafood.  I highly recommend it!

The following recipe is from Joy of Cooking. 

Combine in a small saucepan with enough water to cover:
1/3 cup chopped drained water-packed sun dried tomatoes
1 clove garlic, peeled
6 fresh basil leaves

Bring to boil, remove from the heat, and let stand for 20 minutes. With the machine running, drop through the feed tube of the food processor:
1 large clove garlic, peeled
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup grated parmasen cheese

Drain the tomato mixture, add to the processor, and finely chop.  Season with:
salt and ground black pepper to taste 
Stir in:
1/2 cup pasta cooking water or hot water


Friday, September 9, 2011

Soba Salad With Spinach, Edamame and Miso Dressing

This is Mark Bittman's recipe. The ingredients can be semi-expensive because you need miso paste and soba noodles. After you get miso paste, however, it will last you quite a while. Since Japanese food is fairly typical at our house, we had these ingredients in stock. This is a fairly decent recipe that I think can satisfy vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.
In this recipe, I used baby spinach.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

radicchio salad

I call this salad an adult salad because of the radicchio, which has a bitter and spicy taste.  Only an adult with a sophisticated palate can truly appreciate it. This healthy, light, and easy to make salad was introduced to us by a friend from Germany.

- 1 head of radicchio
- 1 ball of fresh mozzarella (not that dried shredded stuff in a bag)
- 1 generous handful of fresh basil
- balsamic vinegar
- olive oil (if you can get your hands on a high quality bottle that would be best)
- pepper
- salt

1. wash, drain, and slice the radicchio into slivers shown in the picture above. 
2. cut up the mozzarella and add it to the radicchio
3. slice or tear the basil and add it to the mix (tearing gives it more flavor)

For the dressing:
Mix in a small bowl balsamic vinegar, a bit of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix this in with the salad. I don't have the exact measurements because I just do it by taste. The flavors should be light and complimentary. 

middlebrow coleslaw

you need:
-1 head of savoy cabbage
-anchovy filets
-olive oil
-balsamic vinegar
-garlic or shallots
-black pepper
-nonpareil capers
-dijon mustard

(This is essentially the Joy of Cooking 1997 recipe, except that theirs is open format and gives you options; I am just describing the option I took)

1. remove outer leaves, shred the cabbage, soak in ice water for an hour
2. make a vinaigrette with two cloves of garlic, 2-3 anchovy filets, a tablespoon of mustard, 1/3c each olive oil and vinegar, salt and black pepper to taste, and 2T capers.
3. fry two strips of bacon to crispness and chop them finely.
4. drain the cabbage (you may let it sit over a bowl draining in the fridge to keep it cold)
5. put the cabbage in a bowl, pour in the vinaigrette and bacon and mix together.

Monday, August 22, 2011

another bean recipe

there are enough bean recipes on here, but i just invented this one yesterday and i like it. it is basically frijoles rancheros cooked in the style of the okra stew of mark bittman's recipe.

1. soak a pound of dried pinto beans overnight, rinsing several times before and after
2. boil them in just enough water to cover until they are soft, occasionally adding water to make sure the level doesn't go too low. i prefer a smaller amount of concentrated bean broth.
2a. make a raw tomato concassé with a pound of very ripe tomatoes, then mill it so you have a puré with no seeds or skin in it (quarter the tomatoes, let sit in a bowl with about a half teaspoon of salt to extract the juices, then mill them; or just blend the whole thing if you don't have a food mill)
3. get a pound of pork shoulder "rib" with bone in it, and a half pound of ham that has fat on it, that you have diced. put a little olive oil in a dutch oven and brown these together, so both sides of the shoulder are well browned and the ham gets a little charred on the edges.
4. remove the pork and add in a large carrot, a stick of celery, two jalapeños (optionally remove the seeds and gills) and a large onion, all chopped. cook these until the onion is soft and they are starting to get browned. 
5. deglaze the pot with a can of beer.
6. when the beer is almost all boiled off, put the pork back in, then put in the reserved beans and bean broth.
7. add the tomato puré and a teaspoon of salt, and possibly some water so that it barely covers the beans, and simmer gently for 2-3 hours, until the pork shoulder is fork tender.
8. remove the pork shoulder, take out the bone, chop the meat and put it back in the pot.
9. turn off the heat, stir in one bunch of chopped cilantro and a tablespoon of freshly ground cumin.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

okra stew

We tried this recipe from Mark Bittman and we like it. It has the texture of gumbo but the flavors are completely different, since it's made with pork products, no shellfish, lots of tomato and carrots, and no roux or filé. if not for the white wine, it would be much cheaper than gumbo to make.


Okra Stew

Yield 4 servings

Time About 2 1/2 to 3 hours

Mark Bittman

    * 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    * 8 pork ribs, or 4 country-style ribs or pork chops
    * 1/2 pound bacon or ham, cut into chunks
    * 2 small dried red chilies, optional
    * 1 large onion, chopped
    * 2 celery stalks, chopped
    * 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
    * 2 tablespoons minced garlic
    * 1 pound okra, trimmed and roughly chopped (frozen is fine)
    * Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    * 1/2 cup dry white wine (like Sauvignon Blanc)
    * 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with their juice
    * Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish.


    * 1. Put the oil in a deep skillet or large pot over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the pork, bacon and chilies, if using, and cook, stirring and turning the pork occasionally, until browned on all sides, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove everything from the pan with a slotted spoon or tongs, leaving the fat behind.
    * 2. Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic and okra to the pan and sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the wine and stir for about a minute to scrape up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, then add the tomatoes and 1 cup water.
    * 3. Return the pork, bacon, and chiles to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat so the mixture bubbles gently, cover the pan and cook, checking every now and then, until the meat is falling off the bone, about 2 hours. Take the pork out of the pan, remove the meat from the bones, roughly chop it, and return it to the pan. Taste and adjust the seasoning, and serve garnished with parsley, if you like.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


I have finally gotten over my mental block and made Gazpacho. It would be hard to name an easier, more nutritious, or sublime blend of ingredients than this!  All you need is some crusty bread and good cheese to go with it.
This recipe is taken from "Moosewood Cookbook" by Mollie Katzen, my favorite vegetarian cookbook author. 

4 cups tomato juice
1/2 cup finely minced onion
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1 medium bell pepper, minced (I used red)
1 tsp. honey 
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, & minced
2 scallions, minced
juice of 1/2 lemon + 1 lime
2. Tbs. wine vinegar
1 tsp. each - basil & tarragon
1/4 scant tsp. cumin
1/4 c. freshly minced parsley
2 to 3 Tbs. olive oil
1 - 2 tsp. salt or to taste (adjust according to the tomato juice chosen)
black pepper, cayenne, to taste (I used 1 very small serrano pepper instead)
2 cups freshly diced tomatoes

Combine all ingredients. 
(Optional: Purée all or some) CHILL UNTIL VERY COLD. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Ham, Asparagus, and Gruyere Crustless Quiche

This is  a very good and simple recipe. I substituted gruyere with swiss cheese and it turned out great.  
Ham, Asparagus, and Gruyere Crustless Quiche
adapted from The All Purpose Joy of Cooking
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 leek, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
1/2 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 ounces ham, cubed, about 1 cup
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
3 ounces shredded Gruyere cheese, about 1 cup
1. Butter a 10-inch pie plate or quiche dish.  Position oven rack to center position and preheat to 400 degrees.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and butter and swirl to melt butter.  Add leeks, and cook, stirring, for a couple minutes until softened. Add asparagus, and cook, stirring, for 5 – 8 minutes, or until just tender. Turn off heat. Add ham and toss together with asparagus.  Scrape ham and asparagus mixture into the buttered quiche dish.  Sprinkle grated cheese evenly over the top.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, heavy cream, salt, and pepper.  Pour egg mixture over the ham, asparagus, and cheese.  Place quiche in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until quiche is set and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

yogurt cheese

If you are making yogurt, you can use it lavishly. Here is a very simple and lower-fat alternative to cream cheese: yogurt cheese:

-Line a wire strainer with cheese cloth and put it over a large bowl
-Pour in some yogurt, maybe half a quart or so
-Wait about 6 hours; water should drain out of the yogurt into the bowl, then you have a thick spreadable cheese.

Goes good with cucumbers.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Kale Spaghetti

My good friend, Mary Ruth, requested this one. It comes from Molly Wizenberg (the author of the award winning blog Orangette) and written up in Bon Appétit, October of 2009. It's a wonderful and simple vegetarian dish.

1# kale (about 2 bunches), large center ribs and stems removed, cut crosswise into 1/2 " slices
3 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
8 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 # spaghetti
2 t. fresh lemon juice
Finely grated Parmesan cheese

Rinse kale. Drain; transfer to bowl with some water still clinging.

Heat 2 T. of the olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat.  Add chopped onion and cook until soft and translucent, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Add sliced garlic and sprinkle with salt; Cook until onion is golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add kale and remaining 1 T. olive oil and toss until wilted, about 3 minutes.  Cover pot and reduce heat to medium low.  Continue cooking until kale is very tender, stirring occasionally and adding water by teaspoonfuls if dry, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in medium pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally.  Drain, reserving 1/4 c. cooking liquid.  Add cooked spaghetti to kale mixture in pot. Add lemon juice and 2 T. reserved cooking liquid; toss to combine, adding more liquid by tablespoonfuls if dry. Sprinkle spaghetti with Parmesan cheese and serve.
Bon Appétit!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

couscous with zucchini and cherry tomatoes

from joy of cooking. 6 servings.

Heat in a large saucepan over medium-low heat:
2 tablespoons olive oil
Add and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes:
1 medium onion, chopped
Add and cook, stirring, for 1 minute:
2 cloves garlic, minced
Stir in:
2 1/2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock*
1 1/2 pounds medium zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices  (but I prefer the slices halved)
Bring to boil. Cook until the zucchini is tender but not soft, 3-5 minutes.  Stir in:
2 tablespoon of fresh thyme, or 2 teaspoons of dried
Stir in:
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking couscous (whole wheat)**
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
Remove from heat. cover and let stand until the stock is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork. Stir in:
24 cherry tomatoes

* if you are making homemade stock, remember to salt your dish
** for the couscous we have been using rice select brand. you can also buy it in the bulk aisle at the local coop or health food store

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Migas - the Tex-Mex way

James bought this month's issue of the Texas Monthly. The feature article is "Cook Like a Texan". This recipe is from Juanita Gaona, a longtime cook at "Rosario's Café y Cantina and Ácenar, in San Antonio. There are no amounts in the recipe (except for the eggs and tortillas) and it is not in recipe form. (I guess the restaurant doesn't want to give the whole secret away.) So I've added some suggestions.

6 corn tortillas, cut into eighths (or strips in you'd rather)
6 beaten eggs, with a scant T. of water added to it
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 small jalapeño or serrano pepper 
1/2 small bell pepper, green or red, chopped*
1 small or 1/2 medium sized tomato, chopped (try to avoid using the juice)
3 T. canola oil, divided

Cut up the tortillas into eighths and fry them in a large sauté pan with 2 T. canola oil on medium high heat. Stir and turn frequently until they are lightly browned on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Add the last tablespoon of oil and the onion, jalapeño, bell pepper* and tomato. Leave the fire on medium high. Cook until the onions soften or for just a few minutes if you like some crunch to your vegetables. At this point Juanita says to put the tortillas in. Don't do it! Well. . .not if you want to have some crunch in your tortilla chips. Otherwise it will be as if you never got them that way in the first place. So turn your fire all the way up, add the beaten eggs to the vegetables and cook, stirring frequently, until you see the eggs getting to the set point. Fold in the tortillas strips and pull it from the fire just as the eggs are set. Top with Queso fresco and chopped cilantro.
*The bell pepper is my suggestion. It seems to be pretty standard down here in the valley.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Matzo Ball Soup

First make chicken stock. You can use this recipe or simply combine 4-5.5 lbs chicken parts (backs, necks, wings, etc...) with 1 onion (coarsely chopped), 1 carrot (peeled and coarsely chopped), 1 celery (coarsely chopped), 1- 2 bay leaves. Simmer, uncovered for 3 hours, adding water as needed to cover. Strain into a clean pot. Let cool, uncovered, then freeze or refrigerate.
If you are the kind who usually makes  stock, it's worth it to get a gravy separator to remove the fat. We own this one.

For the Matzo Ball:
Beat on medium speed for 1 minute:
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt

If desired, stir in (optional):
1/2 cup finely diced fennel; 2 tablespoons snipped fresh dill and 4 teaspoons snipped fresh or dried chives; or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley and 2 tablespoons snipped fresh dill

Stir in:
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon soda water

Fold in until well blended:
1 cup matzo meal
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon curry powder (optional)
1 to 2 teaspoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger, or 1 teaspoon ground (optional)

Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours.

With wet or oiled hands ( I prefer oiled), form the matzo balls.  Drop the balls into a large pot of boiling salted water, cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes.  When the matzo balls are almost finished , heat in a soup pot  6 cups of chicken stock.

Season with:
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (optional)

When the matzo balls are finished, add them to the stock. Ladle the stock into warmed bowls and add 2 matzo balls to each serving.

Makes about 12 to 14 large balls. This recipe is from Joy of Cooking. It's simple, good, and filling so we like it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Crème Fraîche


Combine 1 cup heavy cream with 2 tablespoons buttermilk, stir, cover with plastic wrap, and leave at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours, or until it has become very thick. Refrigerate, and it will become even thicker.  

Good substitute for sour cream and doesn't curdle if you need to cook with it. Good on baked potato, broccoli soup, tacos, nachos, whatever...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

migas a la gung haeng

This is a recipe that I just invented.  I swear it's very good.  The ingredients are not so typical, though:

-2 eggs
-some good bread that is a little stale
-about 4 dried prawns, good quality (i suppose one could also use about 1/4c of minced raw shrimp)
-one red shallot
-pinch of salt, 1/4t pepper

1. make the bread into crumbs and brown it in olive oil in a non-stick skillet with the shallot, which you will have chopped.
2. shred the dried prawns in a coffee grinder into a floss.
3. lightly beat the eggs, mix the ground shrimp, salt and pepper in.
4. add the egg mixture, stir it quickly so that the migas get mixed into the egg.  just before it starts to set form it into a cake in the skillet.  either cook it with a lid on for 30 seconds until the top starts to get firm, or fold it over and cook it like 30 seconds more.

now you have an omelette that is crunchy and tastes like shrimp (provided you got the good quality).  probably goes well with a salad, or the center of a sunday breakfast.

how to make dried prawns by yourself (paraphrasing from thompson, "thai food")

get 10 big shrimp, peel and devein them.  mix them with
-1t salt
-3T nuoc mam/nam pla (three crabs brand is best)
pinch of sugar

marinade over night. now put the oven very low, to around 150-190F with the door cracked open, spread the shrimp on a baking sheet and let them slowly dry out.  they are said to be dry enough when they turn into thin thread when ground.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Serial Tomato Sauce With Tomatoes

(Stolen from Slate)

Is there a technical name for cooking the same ingredient to different degrees of doneness in a single dish? Like shaved raw fennel salad with caramelized fennel? This sauce is like that, only lazier. It goes well with ravioli. I grew up making a much more elaborate ravioli sauce, but usually when I am cooking ravioli, it is because I am too tired to think very hard about dinner.

Tomatoes: small or medium-sized. Half a pound of them, or a pound, whatever is in the fridge.

Olive oil.


Stainless steel saucepan, preferably a wide one.

A heatproof silicone spatula is nice, but a wooden spoon works fine too.

1. Put a big pot of salted water on to boil for the ravioli.

2. Wash the tomatoes and line them up by the cutting board, from least prepossessing to most. Chop the least prepossessing tomato into fine bits.

3. Put the stainless steel pan on the most powerful available burner, pour a generous layer of olive oil into the bottom of it, and turn the burner on high.

4. When the oil is hot, throw the chopped tomato into the pan, stir it a little, salt it lightly, and leave it there to sizzle. Meanwhile, chop the second-least prepossessing tomato.

5. When the first tomato starts foaming and turning brown and sticking to the pan, throw in the second tomato, stirring and scraping it around till the first tomato comes unstuck. Go chop the third tomato.

6. Use the third tomato to get the browned remains of the first and second tomatoes unstuck. Repeat, using each new tomato to deglaze the pan, till you get to the final tomato, which should be the most flavorful and attractive one. As soon you stir that one in and scrape the pot, turn off the heat, so it still tastes like a fresh tomato. Add a little salt if it needs it.

7. Cook the ravioli in the now-boiling water. Serve with the tomato-on-tomato sauce.

It is certainly possible to throw in some fresh basil or something at the end, too, and to serve the sauce with homemade pasta scraps. It is also possible to brown some sausage in the pan, as step negative-one*, and then take out the sausage and deglaze the sausage-remains with the first tomato, which was what I was doing when I stumbled on the whole serial-tomato approach in the first place. But if you are in a hurry, and the ravioli are good, the point is that you can also do none of these extra things.

*I would think this would have to be step zero.

I think it would also go well with spaghetti.

Friday, April 1, 2011


via Joy of Cooking

Falafel is the original "veggie burger."

Serves 4

Rinse and soak 1 1/4 cups dried chick peas
Drain thoroughly. Place in a food processor and finely chop. Add:
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/4 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed, or 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

Process until the mixture is coarsely pureed. Remove to a bowl and stir in:
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

With wet hands, form the chickpea mixture into 4 patties, each about 3 inches in diameter. Let stand for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 F.
Pour into a deep skillet:
1/2 inch vegetable oil
Fry the chickpea patties until golden on both sides, about 4 minutes each side. Drain on paper towels. Stir together:
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup cold water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt

Wrap in aluminum foil:
4 pita breads
Heat oven until warmed, about 10 minutes. Open one edge of each pita bread and distribute among the pockets:
2 cups thinly sliced crisp lettuce (romaine or iceberg). washed and dried
4 thin tomato slices

Add falafel to each pita and drizzle the tahini sauce over the falafel. Add hot red pepper sauce or sriracha to taste.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


(stolen from Duylinh)
Paneer is a common type of cheese used in south asia, india, and iran. It's really easy to make and is very good in curries or salads w/ tomatoes and cucumbers.

Things you need:
half gallon milk
lemon juice (or vinegar )
cheese cloth

1. Heat the milk up in a heavy bottom pot. Be careful not to burn it.
2. Mix 1/4 cup of lemon juice (or vinegar) with 1/2 cup of hot water and set aside.
3. When the milk beings to boil (that is important), pour the lemon juice/water mixture into the milk slowly and carefully. Turn off the heat.
4. You will notice that the milk will start to curdle. You can stir it gently once or twice. When the milk has curdled and there is nothing left but whey, you can use a ladle to scope the curds into the strainer lined with a cheese cloth.
5. Now just twist the cheese cloth so that the curds are packed and squeeze it. Leave on a plate still wrapped in the cheese cloth and put a heavy pot on top of it for an hour (but preferably two). This will help to remove excess water and make it firm. From time to time during this process, you can remove water from the plate to help keep the cheese dry and firm.

To Eat:
Remove from the cheese cloth and cut it into 1/2 inch cubes. Heat up some oil in a nonstick skillet and fry the cheese until the sides are brown.

The pictures below were stolen from google images to show what it looks like:

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Marty and Dad's Margarita recipe

I don't know where they got it but it's the best homemade one I've tasted. Marty told it to me in "shot glass" amounts but I thought I better include the standard measurement as well. 

Take a 6 oz. glass and run a cut lime around the rim. Turn it over and dip it into a shallow plate of salt. Now fill that glass with ice. Add:

1 shot glass Tequila (3 T.)
3/4 shot glass lime juice  (just a little over 2T ) - we used Mexican limes, of course
Fill up the rest of the above shot glass with Triple Sec (1 T.)
1 shot glass of Margarita Mix (3 T.) we used Jose Cuervo brand


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cheese Fondue

from Joy of Cooking

Legend has it that fondue was invented during a 16th century siege of Zurich, when inhabitants had to feed themselves on a small stock of available ingredients--which fortunately included bread, cheese, and wine.  The dish later became a tradition throughout German-speaking Switzerland and in the mountainous French region of Savoie. It was popular party fare in the 1950s and 1960s, and after a period of culinary disrepute is now enjoying a revival here.  
2 to 3 cups; 4 to 6 servings

Tear into bite-sized pieces:
some bread (preferably a baguette or any loaf bread that is stale and hardened)

Rub the interior of a medium stainless-steel pot with:
1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
Discard the garlic and add to the pot: 
1 1/4 cups Dry white wine

Bring to a simmer over medium high. Add:
1 pound Gruyère cheese, chopped.  (You can also mix, match or substitute with Emmental and Comté. Jesse's favorite is Comté.)
Pinch of freshly grated or ground nutmeg.

Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the cheese is melted (the cheese and wine will not yet be blended.)
Mix together thoroughly in a small bowl:
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons kirsch (We have used vodka as substitution to kirsch, so that could be a good substitution if you are on a budget or can't find kirsch in your area.)

Stir into the cheese  mixture. Continue to stir and simmer until the cheese mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes. Season with:
Salt and ground black pepper

If the fondue is too thick, add up to:
1/4 cup of the dry white wine

To serve, transfer to a fondue pot or chafing dish set over a flame. (We have an electric hot plate that works great.)  To eat, spear bread pieces with fondue forks and dip into the cheese, continuing to stir the mixture with the forks as you dip.  

Sunday, March 13, 2011

lazy smoothies

I've been experimenting with smoothies lately. They are easy, healthy, and filling.  Having a hand blender is useful here.

Here are some variations:
(1) one banana, 5 strawberries, silk brand plain soy milk
(2) 1/2 large avocado, silk brand plain soy milk, and sweetened condense milk (longevity brand preferred)
(3) frozen durian (only if you're strong enough), soymilk 
(4) i will try mango next

 Basically just mix and match your favorite fruits with soymilk. And only use sweetened condense milk if you want it to taste sweeter like in the case of the avocado smoothie.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

two variations on the salsa recipe

1. spicier bean dip: mix the salsa and the bean dip 1:1.  use it as a dip.
2. parsi chips & salsa: i feel confident that i am the first person (but who knows) to ever think of this recipe.  you will be surprised how good it is. 

first, make a green curry massala (recipe from King's "My Bombay Kitchen" pp.135-6):
1 cup cilantro, leaves and stems
1/2 c roasted cashews
3-6 green thai chiles
2t Ginger-Garlic paste(this is equal parts pureed ginger and garlic)
1t cumin seeds, ground in spice grinder
1/2 t turmeric powder

blend this in a food processor until it is a smooth paste.

now mix it about 1:2 or 1:3 with the salsa

the curry paste is incidentally good for making different types of parsi curries. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mom's Black Bean Dip

This recipe actually came from an issue of the infamous "Nutrition Action Health Letter" in May of 2003. Thanks for asking, Aug, and Fély!

1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons pickled jalapeño peppers (optional)
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 c. fresh cilantro

Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. The trick to this recipe is getting the blender to do just that! Even though the recipe says (optional) on the jalapeños, they are essential for the liquid. Also it's important to put the olive oil, jalapeño, and other ingredients in the bottom of the blender. I would also run the garlic through a press. If you still have trouble getting it to blend, add an additional 2-3 Tablespoons of liquid. More oil or water or whatever else you'd like. You can also chop the cilantro fine and use it as a garnish around the dip. This works out very nicely. Serve with tortilla chips.
Bon Appétit!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Salade Niçoise

A secret recipe from Richard Olney's "Provence the Beautiful Cookbook."

One of the principles of a salade niçoise is that it contain no cooked vegetables.  A handful of shelled young broad (fava) beans or trimmed and thinly sliced baby artichokes, tossed in lemon juice and drained, may be added.  Pan bagnet is salade niçoise enclosed in a bread roll, left to soak for a while and eaten as a sandwich.  In this case the tomatoes, eggs and anchovy fillets should be chopped and the olives pitted. 

1 small cucumber
1 clove garlic, cut in half lengthwise
3 barely ripened tomatoes, cored and cut into wedges
2 Italian green sweet peppers or other sweet peppers (capsicums), seeded, deribbed and thinly sliced crosswise
3 or 4 young green shallots or green spring onions, including the tender green parts, thinly sliced 
4 or 5 salt anchovies, rinsed and filleted
2 hard-cooked eggs, shelled and quartered lengthwise
handful of black olives 
handful of fresh basil leaves
freshly ground pepper
5-6 tablespoons olive oil

Peel the cucumber and cut it half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds, then cut crosswise into thin slices. Layer the slices in a bowl, sprinkling each layer with salt.  Let stand for 30 minutes, then squeeze out excess liquid and sponge the slices dry.  

A wide, shallow dish permits the most attractive presentation. Rub the dish all over with the cut surfaces of garlic. Scatter the cucumber, tomatoes, peppers, shallots, eggs, anchovy fillets and olives casually but artfully into the dish. Tear the basil leaves into fragments and scatter over the surface. Present the dish at table. Sprinkle on salt and grind over pepper to taste. Pour the olive oil in a fine stream back and forth over the surface. Toss and serve. 

Serves 4

Jesse's note for boiling the eggs:
this is my technique, i call it "oeuf mollets + 2": bring to a full rolling boil about a quart of water, then put a glog or so of white vinegar, then you gently put in the eggs.  time seven good minutes, then pull them out and run them in cold water for a while.  peel them and let them rest for a few minutes before slicing them.  the whites will should be firm and the yolks the consistency of jelly.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Daddy's Bar-Be-Que Sauce

Pud has this recipe on but I remember it a little differently. So you can compare and decide for yourself. Ju always made this for our family gatherings at Pete's. So psst, Ju, we could use your input!

1 stick butter (I leave out 2 T. and/or substitute some with olive oil)
28 oz. bottle of Heinz ketchup
1 onion, chopped
2 T. brown sugar
1 t. Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 c. vinegar or lemon juice
2 large or 3 small cloves garlic, minced
2 t. mustard
1 t. chili powder

Put the butter on low heat and add the chopped onion. Cook until the onions are transparent. Add everything else and bring to a boil. Cut the heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes.
Bon Appétit!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Sue's Salsa

I do this a little differently every time, depending on what I have on hand. This recipe evolved from information James and I got from a little taco stand in Progreso, my neighbor, Alma Galindo's salsa recipe, and a mistake I made a few batches back.*

about 10 Roma tomatoes, cut in half
1 medium sized or 2 small tomatillos, cut in fourths (optional - it makes for a nice texture though)
3-4 jalapeno peppers or 6-8 serrano peppers depending on their heat, cut in thirds
1 large onion, each half quartered
1 t. salt
3-4 cloves garlic*, run through a press
about 1/3 of a bunch of cilantro, chopped fine*
a few drops of olive oil (maybe an 1/8 of a t. - not more)

Put the little bit of olive oil in the bottom of a medium sized pot. Add the tomatoes, cut side down, and then all the other vegetables EXCEPT the garlic and cilantro. Turn the heat on medium high. Give it a stir every now and then, making sure nothing burns until the tomatoes release their juices. Bring to a boil, cut heat just a bit until it is simmering. Put the lid on ajar, until all the vegetables are very tender and it's starting to cook down - about 30 to 45 minutes. *Here's the secret: Add your garlic and cilantro at this point. Not before! Put the lid on and put the pot to cool away from the stove. When it's cool enough, run it through the blender. It's important that you cook the vegetables down enough - this is what determines the texture. It will keep in the fridge about 10 days.
NOTE: Here is the warning I've heard from Alma time after time: "Watch out! Don't put it in the blender hot. It will blow up in your face!"
Bon Appétit!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

George Orwell on Tea

"If you look up ‘tea’ in the first cookery book that comes to hand you will probably find that it is unmentioned; or at most you will find a few lines of sketchy instructions which give no ruling on several of the most important points.

This is curious, not only because tea is one of the main stays of civilization in this country, as well as in Eire, Australia and New Zealand, but because the best manner of making it is the subject of violent disputes.

When I look through my own recipe for the perfect cup of tea, I find no fewer than eleven outstanding points. On perhaps two of them there would be pretty general agreement, but at least four others are acutely controversial. Here are my own eleven rules, every one of which I regard as golden:

First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays — it is economical, and one can drink it without milk — but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone who has used that comforting phrase ‘a nice cup of tea’ invariably means Indian tea.

Secondly, tea should be made in small quantities — that is, in a teapot. Tea out of an urn is always tasteless, while army tea, made in a cauldron, tastes of grease and whitewash. The teapot should be made of china or earthenware. Silver or Britannia ware teapots produce inferior tea and enamel pots are worse; though curiously enough a pewter teapot (a rarity nowadays) is not so bad.

Thirdly, the pot should be warmed beforehand. This is better done by placing it on the hob than by the usual method of swilling it outwith hot water.

Fourthly, the tea should be strong. For a pot holding a quart, if you are going to fill it nearly to the brim, six heaped teaspoons would be about right. In a time of rationing, this is not an idea that can be realized on every day of the week, but I maintain that one strong cup of tea is better than twenty weak ones. All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes — a fact which is recognized in the extra ration issued to old-age pensioners.

Fifthly, the tea should be put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to imprison the tea. In some countries teapots are fitted with little dangling baskets under the spout to catch the stray leaves, which are supposed to be harmful. Actually one can swallow tea-leaves in considerable quantities without ill effect, and if the tea is not loose in the pot it never infuses properly.

Sixthly, one should take the teapot to the kettle and not the other way about. The water should be actually boiling at the moment of impact, which means that one should keep it on the flame while one pours. Some people add that one should only use water that has been freshly brought to the boil, but I have never noticed that it makes any difference.

Seventhly, after making the tea, one should stir it, or better, give the pot a good shake, afterwards allowing the leaves to settle.

Eighthly, one should drink out of a good breakfast cup — that is, the cylindrical type of cup, not the flat, shallow type. The breakfast cup holds more, and with the other kind one’s tea is always half cold before one has well started on it.

Ninthly, one should pour the cream off the milk before using it for tea. Milk that is too creamy always gives tea a sickly taste.

Tenthly, one should pour tea into the cup first. This is one of the most controversial points of all; indeed in every family in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round.

Lastly, tea — unless one is drinking it in the Russian style — should be drunk without sugar. I know very well that I am in a minority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tea-lover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you are no longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you could make a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water.

Some people would answer that they don’t like tea in itself, that they only drink it in order to be warmed and stimulated, and they need sugar to take the taste away. To those misguided people I would say: Try drinking tea without sugar for, say, a fortnight and it is very unlikely that you will ever want to ruin your tea by sweetening it again.

These are not the only controversial points to arise in connexion with tea drinking, but they are sufficient to show how subtilized the whole business has become. There is also the mysterious social etiquette surrounding the teapot (why is it considered vulgar to drink out of your saucer, for instance?) and much might be written about the subsidiary uses of tealeaves, such as telling fortunes, predicting the arrival of visitors, feeding rabbits, healing burns and sweeping the carpet. It is worth paying attention to such details as warming the pot and using water that is really boiling, so as to make quite sure of wringing out of one’s ration the twenty good, strong cups of that two ounces, properly handled, ought to represent."



Turkey Carcass Soup

This recipe is from "Jane Brody's Good Food Book". I think I remember Jesse or Phil calling Jane Brody "Miss Good for You." I made this at our New Year's gathering at Mare's house with our Christmas turkey. It was not quite as rich or delicious as the one from the turkey at Thanksgiving. See the note after this recipe if you want to find out why. But the gathering was certainly rich and wonderful. Thank you Lovegrens!

Preparation tip: The stock can be frozen or used right away to make this or some other soup.

1 turkey carcass, broken into pieces
Any defatted pan juices or gravy that may be left over
12 cups water, or enough to cover the carcass completely
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
2 ribs celery, diced, with leaves, if available
1/2 c. diced carrots
1/2 c. diced well washed leek (optional)
1/2 c. diced turnip
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t. salt, if desired
Bouquet garni, made by tying in cheesecloth:
6 sprigs fresh parsley, 1/2 t. thyme leaves, and 1 bay leaf

1. Combine all the ingredients in a large pot, bring the stock to a boil, and simmer it, partially covering the pot, for 2 to 3 hours. (This stock tastes better the longer it simmers, as long as you don't cook away the liquid.)
2. Strain the stock, and skim off the fat.
3. If desired, remove all the bones, reserving any piece of turkey meat. Discard the bouquet garni and bay leaf. In a blender, food processor, or a hand sieve, purée the remaining vegetables in a cup of the stock and save the mixture for another soup or for flavoring a stew or sauce.

2 T. minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T. butter or oil
1 cup diced carrots
1/2 c. diced celery
1/2 c. finely chopped mushrooms
1 1/2 T. flour
6-7 cups turkey stock from recipe above
1 t. marjoram
salt and pepper to taste
1 c. cooked barley or rice or 1/3 c. raw barley or rice
1 c. diced turkey meat
Dash hot pepper sauce (Tabasco), or to taste (optional)
2 T. chopped parsley

1. In a large saucepan, sauté the onion and garlic in butter or oil until they are soft.
2. Add the carrots, celery, and mushrooms, and cook the vegetables, stirring them, 3 to 5 minutes longer.
3. Add the flour, and cook the mixture, stirring it, for another minute.
4. Add the stock, marjoram, and barley. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat, partially cover the pan, and simmer the soup for about 1 hour.
5. Add the turkey meat, hot pepper sauce, and parsley. Heat the soup back to a boil and immediately cut the heat.
Bon Appétit!

My notes are in the comment section.