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

via http://www.bonjourlafrance.com/french-food/french-recipes/french-dishes/tarte_flambee_flammekueche.htm

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.