Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bright New City

Here's a pic of the mighty Mississippi running through our new home: the Twin Cities. Technically Minneapolis, but we're only two blocks from the St. Paul city limits. I apologize for the lack of posts but, well, moving does that. There are new dishes I'm wanting to try out, farmer's markets to shop, and many restaurants to visit! Stay tuned, a new post is near....

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Video Link: Cooking with a Hippie Chickpeas

Three things about this video crack me up:
1. This dude really does use a shaker full of LOVE as a seasoning.
2. There's a rain stick involved.
3. I watched this twice and actually wrote down the recipe.

In the brilliant words of Jacques Pepin... happy cooking!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tuna and Potato Salad with Green Peas and Egg

This has become my favorite meal to assemble--it can hardly be called cooking, because it's so easy to throw together. I rarely plate meals (when I'm hungry...I'm just hungry....) but this is just weirdly kind of fun to put together. The recipe below serves two.

2-3 potatoes, baked (or nuked)
1 can tuna packed in olive oil (or other really good quality tuna)
olive oil for drizzling (optional)
1/2 c frozen green peas, thawed and ready to serve
2 hard boiled eggs, quartered
sea salt & pepper

On each plate, layer in this order: baked potato (flattened slightly so that it acts as a base), chunks of tuna, a drizzle of olive oil as you like, a sprinkling of peas, and four wedges of egg. Season with a little sea salt and pepper.

Tastes best eaten outside...and followed with a chunk of dark chocolate for dessert!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Eggplant and Goat Cheese Calzones

There is something so comforting about a calzone, hot little pocket of savory wonderfulness! I picked up a couple Japanese eggplants over the weekend at Mitsua, and made this in an effort to use them while still fresh. Pleased with how they turned out, I will definitely make them again---and am excited about endless variations! I think a cheese of some sort is a must, it sort of binds everything together. But then again, I bet a curry filling would work too...

2-3 Japanese eggplants, cut into 1/4" slices
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4-5 oz goat cheese
2 slices chopped bacon or pancetta
1 recipe fantastic pizza dough (or buy it ready-to-go)

After you've mixed up the dough, and while it's in the 20-minute rest phase:

Brush both sides of the eggplant slices with olive oil and grill until lightly browned. Note: when I made this, it was rainy and nasty outside and therefore using the "real" grill was beyond hope. I used a non-stick grill pan on the stovetop instead. Worked great.

Brown the bacon/pancetta (add a little olive oil if you need to), then add onion and garlic. Cook until softened.

Combine the bacon/onion/garlic mixture, eggplant, and goat cheese in a bowl. Mix so that the goat cheese is thoroughly distributed.

Divide dough into 8 pieces (cut the ball of dough in half... then in half again... then in half again... etc etc). Roll into circles about 6" in diameter. Place a couple tablespoons of the filling on each (evenly distribute the filling among the eight dough circles).

Fold each dough circle in half over the filling, so that it becomes a half-moon shape. Then, with your fingers, roll the bottom edge of the circle over the top edge to seal--or just press edges together. The idea is to seal it up like a big pocket, however you want to achieve it is up to you.

To bake, I usually use a pizza stone but a regular baking sheet is fine. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until nicely browned.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

I roasted a few pints of cherry tomatoes with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. It took about 45 minutes in a 400 degree oven, and they're fantastic tossed with pasta, more olive oil, and some goat cheese or parmesan.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Red Lentil and Carrot Soup

All day long I kept thinking about carrots. And soup. Since we’re currently working with a no-cow’s-milk scenario in our home, this warming dinner hit the spot. It surprised me, too—it smelled wonderful while it was simmering, even before I added the seasonings.

As with many things I've written about, there are endless variations. We ate this topped with some goat’s milk feta; yogurt or sour cream would work great as well. The seasonings could also be adjusted, by trying a little ginger or chopped cilantro. Serve this with naan and/or rice (side note: we realized tonight that the naan purchased at a traditional Indian/Pakistani grocery contains milk and butter... this will be more difficult than we thought).

3 T olive oil
2 onions, grated or finely chopped
3 good sized carrots, grated or finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pressed

1-1/2 c red lentils

1 28-oz can diced tomatoes

7 c vegetable stock (or 1 msg-free veggie bouillion cube and 7 c water)

tsp ground cumin
tsp ground coriander
1 tsp curry powder

salt and pepper

Heat oil in a large pot; add onion and carrots and cook for a few minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute or so.

Add the stock, lentils and tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Simmer with the lid half on the pot for about 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add cumin and coriander, then salt and pepper to taste. Cook another five minutes, then serve.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Darren’s Sauerkraut

Our friend Darren F. passed along this sauerkraut recipe of his mother’s, as well as the idea to make soup with it. I made a batch to quickly discover that this makes a TON of kraut! What to do with it? The soup was super easy to make (and very good), and then the rest was used in a classic sauerkraut/sausage dish (easily vegetarian-friendly or for carnivores).

Darren’s Sauerkraut
1/2 stick of butter
3-4 boullon cubes (get the MGS-free variety if you can)
1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/8 tsp cumin
1 to 2 tsp caraway seed (more or less, to taste)
salt & pepper, if you think it needs it (totally to taste)

Saute the above for about 20 minutes, or until the onions turn golden.

Next, combine the onion mixture with the following in a slow cooker:
(2) 32 oz cans/jars Polish Sauerkraut (rinsed well under cold water)
2-4 carrots, shredded
1-2 potatoes, shredded
1/2 fresh cabbage, sliced or 1/2 bag of ready-to-go shredded cabbage

Cook on high for 3-5 hours, it will make its own juice as it cooks.
When it is done cooking (keep tasting it, it's done whenever you like it) mix it up well so that the juices get evenly distributed. At this point, the sauerkraut is done and ready to use as you'd like!

Sauerkraut Soup
Bring some veggie or beef stock to a simmer and mix in sauerkraut--the more you add, the thicker the soup. Heat through, and serve. I really liked this poured over a little brown rice, with a splash of soy sauce (I know... the soy sauce thing seems weird, but I swear it's heavenly).

Sauerkraut & Sausages (pictured above)
In a slow cooker, combine whatever sauerkraut you have left (which is probably a lot) with 12 oz of sliced kielbasa sausages. You could use a vegetarian kielbasa, or the traditional pork kind. Cook on low for 3-5 hours*, to heat through and allow flavors to blend. The cooking could also be achieved in a 13x9 pan in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes*, or whenever it seems ready.

*The cook times are appropriate for pre-cooked sausage. If you are using a raw sausage, check for doneness and cook longer as necessary.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Salsa for Cold Weather


Tomatoes of sunshine quality are difficult to find in a midwest winter; while my heart will always belong to pico de gallo, this is a great salsa to make in the dark depths of cold weather. It's fast and can be used on its own (with chips, tacos, etc) or used in a dish requiring ready-made salsa from a jar.

1 28 oz can stewed tomatoes
1 7 oz can diced chiles or 1 or 2 fresh jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped or pressed
2 T chopped onion (white, yellow, or green--any variety will work)
1 T olive oil
2 tsp red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar (optional, but highly suggested)
1 handful cilantro, chopped
salt & pepper to taste

Combine and it's ready to go!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Goodness Greens!

In our Fresh Picks deliveries, I was often faced with a few pounds of collard greens or kale. I really had no idea what to do with it, and all I could imagine was cooking them into a globby mess. How on earth could greens be cooked and still taste good?

Fortunately, I found this recipe and it's now one of our favorite things to eat along with brown rice. The greens retain their texture and the sweet/spicy seasoning is wonderful.

Collard Greens (adapted from Simply Recipes---also great for Kale)

2 lb collard greens of kale, washed well and chopped
2 T onion, finely chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or pressed
2 T olive oil
2 T sesame oil (optional--tastes great with or without)
chili pepper flakes (I like this on the spicy side, and use about 1 T)*
salt (1-2 tsp)*
sugar (1-2 tsp)*
cracked pepper

*The last three ingredients can be varied according to your taste. You'll find the right balance the more you make this dish.

In a big pot with a lid, heat the olive oil and saute onion and garlic for about a minute. Mix in the greens and remaining ingredients. Cover, turn the heat to low, and cook for 8-10 minutes. Stir, and serve. 

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Winter Soup with Meatballs

My mom, awesome as she is, recently gave us TONS of frozen homemade meatballs. This soup was made with the last of them (sniff, sniff) but it's a recipe I will most likely turn to again when confronted with a freezer of meatballs waiting to be devoured. The lentils and pasta added to this are already cooked (a great way to use up leftovers); if you add them uncooked, you'll need to add more stock/water. 

12 meatballs (pre-cooked/frozen is easier; if you use raw, brown a little before adding to soup)
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 carrot, sliced or chopped
olive oil
1-2 T flour
1-1/2 cups cooked lentils
2 c stock or water, or a combination
1 bay leaf
salt/pepper or soy sauce (for seasoning)
about 1-2 cups of pasta, cooked

This soup works well either on the stovetop (A) or slow cooker (B):

(A) In a soup pot, cook onion/garlic/carrot in oil for a few minutes. Add the flour, stir to coat and cook another minute. Add lentils, meatballs, and bay leaf, plus enough stock/water to cover. Let this simmer until heated through (if you used raw meatballs, cook until they're properly cooked through). Add pasta 15 minutes before serving, then season with salt & pepper.

(B) In a skillet, cook onion/garlic/carrot in oil for a few minutes. Add the flour, stir to coat and cook another minute. Transfer onion mixture to the slow cooker, add lentils, meatballs, bay leaf, plus enough stock/water to cover. Cook on low for 7-9 hours. Add pasta 15 minutes before serving, then season with salt & pepper.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Fish with Pasta in a Mushroom-Lemon Sauce

Here's the scene: We're in the middle of Mitsuwa Marketplace, and I'm wandering through the seafood section because I could walk around aimlessly for hours. I notice, happily, that the pollock looks pretty good and is really inexpensive. I buy a pound of it. I have never cooked pollock before. It's kind of like cod, right? And, from a little online research, it seems to be a sustainable fish (for now, anyway).

I'm guessing there are plenty of Japanese recipes using this fish, but I was craving something a little different--it needed to be warming and bright at the same time. And thus, came this dish. The ingredients are nothing special, I basically used what was available at the time, and I think there are probably quite a few ways to reinterpret this meal.

1 lb pollock fish filets (or other white fish)
flour for dusting
12 oz (or so) dried pasta (it doesn't really matter what shape--use what you have)
2 T olive or canola oil
2 T butter
2 c. mushrooms, sliced or diced
Juice of 2 lemons (please don't use the bottled stuff)
salt & pepper
2-3 T chopped parsley or cilantro

The key to this dish is timing. The fish cooks really fast. Basically, once the water is boiling and you are ready to add pasta, that is the time to begin the rest of the cooking. This gives you approximately 10-12 minutes, depending on pasta's directions on the package.

So, boil water and add pasta to the pot.

Meanwhile, pat the fish filets dry to remove excess water, and dust with flour. In a frying pan (I used the trusty cast iron skillet), heat up the oil and butter. When hot, add the fish. It will only take a minute or two on each side to cook through. When it's done (flakes with a fork) remove and set aside.

If your pan seems on the dry side, add a little more oil or butter. Keeping the heat on medium-high, add the mushrooms and saute until the start to shrink up a little. To this add lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. NOTE: If you don't like things on the tart side, go easy on the lemon juice. Add the chopped herbs. Stir.

By now the pasta should be done. Drain, and plate this meal quickly--it will cool off fast: pasta, fish, and top with the sauce.

TIP: I've found that about half way through the cooking time on the pasta, it works well to add a frozen vegetable such as french-cut green beans. They heat up in roughly five minutes, and they are easy to drain with the rest of the pasta. Sneaky, huh?