Leftover Greens Twice Baked Potatoes

June 3, 2018

It’s the end of my vacation week and I’m off on a business trip in the morning.  The last dinner before travel is often a very strange assortment of odds and ends from the week.  I didn’t have a lot leftover this week except some greens.  I decided to make myself a nice meal to close out my vacation, and still use up the fridge odds and ends.  I have to say this is a darn good use of greens that were leaning toward the wilty side.

Potato

Here’s what I had left:  6-7 leaves of lacinato kale; 1/3 of a large container of baby spinach; 1 spring onion; and part of a bunch of parsley.  I also had the last of a buttermilk parmesan dressing that I served with charred vegetables earlier in the week and a little cheddar.

You can use whatever you have.  Leek tops, chard, beet greens, turnip greens.  You’ll need a little liquid – milk or cream or stock.  And a little cheese or plain yogurt never hurt a stuffed potato!

Here’s what you do:

  • Preheat the oven to 400
  • Bake the potato, unwrapped, on the oven rack
  • Chop all the greens
  • Boil a small pot of water, add salt
  • Add the heaviest greens first, then the more fragile ones
  • Drain the greens into a colander and squeeze out any excess water
  • When a fork goes through easily the potato is done – an hour plus, so plan ahead
  • Slice the potato longways
  • Use a spoon to scoop the potato into a bowl
  • Mash the potato and add the greens
  • Add 3-4 T of liquid
  • Stir the mixture to incorporate ingredients evenly, adding more liquid as needed   (I ended up using about 1/4 C)
  • Stir in the cheese
  • Spoon the potato mixture back into the potato skins
  • Bake another 10-15 minutes

Here’s how it turned out:

Hard to go wrong with a twice baked potato! This is a nice upgrade from the sour cream, bacon and cheese version.  This is a way to get some greens in for folks who aren’t big fans.  If you want to hide them a little further, put the greens and a little liquid into a food processor and chop until smooth before adding them back to the potatoes.  You’ll end up with fun, green potatoes!

This would make a entree easily.  I had mine alongside a little steak and some of the spinach sauteed with garlic.

Farewell vacation!  It has been wonderful to sew and cook and bake and run and hang out with the pups.  Next, we’re back to easy weeknight recipes with leftovers!

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Strawberry Shortcake

May 27, 2018

It’s Spring in Virginia!  And that means strawberries!  I can’t resist them at the farmers’ market.  The season is all too short so you have to take advantage when you can.  I’m constantly looking for recipes.  I’ve also had baking on the brain for a couple of days.  I like to bake, but I don’t do it very often.  Trying to protect myself from eating a whole cake or tray of cupcakes!  Alice Waters to the rescue again.

The shortcakes that we have in the grocery store are bright yellow sponge cakes with a divot in the middle for the strawberries.  It’s kind of a strawberry Twinkie.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve eaten my fair share of Twinkies over the years.  But they aren’t shortcakes.  So, I set out to find a good recipe.  Didn’t take long to make my way back to The Art of Simple Food.

As few ingredients as possible.  That’s what we’ve got here.  And totally versatile. I reduced the optional sugar in the dough so I can use half of these for shortcakes, with a little added sugar on top, and half for breakfast, with a little bacon on top!

Here’s the key to shortbreads, biscuits, pie crusts and the like:  cold butter that stays cold.  That means work quickly and handle the dough as little as possible.  Your hands are hot.  They melt the butter.  You want the butter to stay cold in the making so it can melt in the baking.

Just a few ingredients.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 4 t sugar (less or none if you want)
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 6 T cold butter cut into little pieces
  • 3/4 C heavy cream

Here’s what you do:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  • Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl
  • Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or a knife and fork

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  • When the butter is the size of small peas stir in cream
  • Blend lightly with a form until the dough just starts to form

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  • Dump it on a lightly floured board
  • Knead just until you can roll it out
  • When it’s 3/4 inch thick, cut into shapes
  • Put the biscuits on a baking sheet and brush with a little more cream

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  • Bake 17 minutes, golden brown

Here’s how it went:

I am not fabulous at shortbreads and biscuits.  I don’t make them often enough to get good at it and I don’t have a very light hand in the kitchen. I tend to work these doughs a little hard.  Don’t do that.  It makes the biscuits tough.

I did well with this dough.  Almost.  I read the recipe wrong so I rolled it to a little thicker than 1/4 inch.  Oops.  You can’t mush it all back together and rework it because you’ll get tough biscuits.  So, I cut them all out and then mushed two biscuits together.  To avoid handling them too much I scored the top of one and the bottom of another to help the two pieces stick together.  It worked!

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Of course they would be better if I’d done it right the first time, but this was a very good save.  And since I’m pulling them apart to serve them it works pretty well.

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I will say that my new oven is a dream come true.  The biscuits have a crisp on the bottom and are fluffy in the middle.  They baked evenly and for exactly 17 minutes.  I couldn’t be happier with it!

I sliced some strawberries earlier today and mixed them with a little sugar.  Then I whipped some heavy cream with vanilla and sugar.  Voila!  Cream biscuits become strawberry shortcake.  Beautiful!

Cake

Linguine with Greens and Sausage

May 27, 2018

It’s Memorial Day Weekend!  For me, it’s the start to a whole week of staycation.  A time  for me to catch up on things, get the house in order, and exercise my creative brain – cooking, baking, gardening, sewing – heaven.  Often that means spending my evenings reading cookbooks.  Fortunately for me, more and more cookbooks these days have lovely stories as well as wonderful recipes.

I did a lot a running today:  running with dogs, running to the farmer’s market, running errands, making a grocery run.  So, I was pretty tired come dinner time.  I needed easy food.  Enter The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters.  What I love about this cookbook is that it’s an introduction to ways of cooking, basic sauces, kitchen equipment, and how to put foods and flavors together.  Not fancy, but hasn’t failed me yet.

I had some lacinato kale left in the fridge that was holding up really well for being in the drawer for a week.  I had half an onion in the fridge.  I had sausage in the freezer.  (I always have sausage in the freezer).  Simple food.  Good food.  Really good food.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 bunch of lacinato kale, stemmed and chopped (or whatever hardy green you have leftover)
  • 4 oz sausage cut into rounds, or crumbled (I used Della Nonna by Sausage Craft – it has cheese in it – yum!)
  • 1/2 onion sliced thin
  • 3-4 oz linguine (or whatever pasta you like; the recipe calls for fusili)
  • crushed red pepper

Here’s what you do:

  • Boil some water in a pasta pot; salt the water
  • Add the chopped kale, cook 6-8 minutes until the greens are tender
  • Drain into a bowl, reserving the water to cook the pasta in

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  • In a heavy bottomed pan, cook the sausage, set aside
  • Drain all but 1 t of the fat

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  • Add the onions and red pepper, cook until caramelized

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  • Deglaze the pan with a little white wine or water

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  • Simmer until slightly reduced
  • Cook the pasta in the greens water until al dente
  • Toss everything together

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Here’s how it turned out:

Food, more or less just heated up. I gave it an Intermediate rating just because it’s a bunch of cooking and setting aside and some pot swapping so not as straightforward as a lot of pasta dishes.  Tastes better than a lot of pasta dishes too!

All the pieces taste like themselves.  And together – magical.  It looks nice too.  Nothing fancy, but absolutely fit for guests, or not.  I’m looking forward to leftovers!

 

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Chicken Green Masala – Wow!

May 21, 2018

It’s been a while!  I haven’t made anything very interesting lately, but this is a major comeback dish!  If you’ve been reading then you know I love Indian food.  And I’m overjoyed to find that I can make a darn good version of many dishes at home.  I’m incapable of cooking for one so I love dishes that make good leftovers. Check!  And I love versatile dishes.  Check!

This is a variation of a dish from my Rasika cookbook.  Rasika is my favorite Indian restaurant.  It’s in DC so I get to go there a few times a year.  Just can’t say enough good things about it.  If you have a chance, make a trip there.  If you don’t, get the cookbook.  This dish is really popular in the restaurant.  It’s described as really spicy so I’ve been afraid to try it there.  Maybe a good call.  My version made my nose run and my forehead sweat!

Let’s start with the masala.  You can make this ahead.  I love blender sauces because the chopping is minimal.  Note that you use the cilantro stems here.  Love that too, less waste.  Now let’s talk about the chiles.  The recipe calls for 10 Thai chiles.  I’ll admit that my chile knowledge is pretty minimal, but that sound super hot to me.  Medical emergency inducing hot.  My grocery store didn’t have any Thai chiles yesterday so I got a serrano and a jalapeno.  Honestly I didn’t notice that the recipe said 10 chiles until I started.  Just as well.  Plenty hot.  Plenty.  I did include the veins and seeds of both peppers because I was afraid of missing the mark by a lot.  That was a good call if you like spicy.

Here’s what you need for the herb puree: (serves 4)

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  • 1 smallish bunch cilantro, amounting to 2 cups roughly chopped
  • 1/2 C packed fresh mint leaves (spearmint)
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 large jalapeno, roughly chopped
  • 1 small serrano, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 t turmeric
  • 1/4 C fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 C water

Here’s what you do:

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  • Put everything in a blender and puree 2-3 minutes until very smooth

Make the puree a day before if you like.  The chicken doesn’t take very long making this an easy weeknight meal.  I cheated some on the chicken.  The recipe calls for whole cardamom pods; a cinnamon stick; and whole cloves.  I have all of those thing.  What I don’t have is a spice grinder.  So, moving to ground. I had cardamom and cinnamon, but no ground cloves.  Grr.  What I did have was garam masala.  It includes all of the required spices plus a few other things.  Close enough!

Here’s what you need for the chicken:

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  • 1 T canola oil
  • 1 C finely chopped onion
  • 1-1 1/2 lbs chicken, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1/4 t turmeric
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 T garam masala
  • 2/3 C unsweetened coconut milk

Here’s what you do:

  • Heat the oil in a heavy pot (with a lid) until the oil shimmers (no smoke)
  • Add the onions and saute until soft, but not brown
  • Add chicken, turmeric and salt
  • Cook with the lid on for 4-5 minutes, stirring a few times
  • Add the herb mixture, coconut milk, and garam masala
  • Bring to a boil
  • Cook 5 minutes, until the chicken is done

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Serve with rice, naan, and yogurt or cucumber raita.

One note.  When you cook the chicken with the lid on it traps the moisture inside, adding a little liquid to your pot.  It keeps the chicken from sticking and burning.

So, what’s versatile about this dish?  You can control the heat.  Leave the chiles out completely if you like.  It’s super easy to make as a vegetarian dish.  Make it with tofu or seitan instead of chicken.  You can control the schedule.  Do the puree ahead or do the whole thing ahead. This dish is designed to eat the next day.  This puree would be good on roasted cauliflower or with shrimp.

I only made 1/2 the recipe, and those are the amounts I’ve provided.  It’s still easily 3-4 servings even without a side dish.  I will say that I made a full cup or cucumber raita and used nearly half of it tonight.  I’m ok with that.  I really enjoyed the heat and was really grateful for the relief as well!

Here’s how it turned out: (cookbook photo on the left, mine on the right)

HOT!  But so yummy.  I’ll make it again for sure.  I’m guessing I’ll make this cilantro puree a lot.  Without the chiles it would be fantastic as a dip for bread or roasted vegetables.  Nice as a sauce for rice as a side dish.  And a great way to use up cilantro stems!

Greens and Gruyere Tart

May 6, 2018

It’s been a heck of a busy weekend here.  It’s the first full weekend I’ve been at home since March!  So, yesterday I put in most of the garden.  Not quite warm enough yet for beans and cowpeas.  You’ll be hearing plenty about the garden in the coming months.  Yesterday was outside, so today had to be inside.  Many hours of cleaning. SO tired.  I might have punted and had wine with cheese and crackers for dinner, but I’ve been planning for this tart for a while.

I had odds and ends of greens from last week – chard, leeks, green onions.  And for some time now I’ve been in a quest to find a use for the green tops of leeks.  It just kills me that most recipes only call for the whites.  I’ve been throwing away 2/3 of the leeks for years.  I hate that!  No more.  Now I know I can saute and eat them like other greens.  Win!  I also had some leek whites leftover so that was my starting place.

Honestly, when you search recipe sites for leeks, this is about the first thing that comes up on most of them.  Let me warn you.  It takes a long time from the time you start to the time you eat, even with a store bought crust, so plan accordingly.  Fortunately it’s not difficult and since it sits for 30 minutes after it’s cooked, it’s perfect for having people over.

I’ll do a separate post about cleaning leeks.  And you do have to clean them.  They’re filthy.  I mean actual mud in between the layers.  So be diligent about the cleaning.  No one likes a gritty meal.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 pie crust – store bought or make your own
  • Assortment of chopped greens – shard, leek tops – about 4 cups
  • 1 leek and 2 green onions, whites and light greens only, chopped
  • 3 T fat/oil (bacon grease, olive oil, butter – or a combination)
  • 1 T flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 C half and half
  • 1 C grated gruyere, divided
  • 1/4 t grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t pepper

Here’s what you do:

For the crust:

  • Preheat oven to 450
  • Place crust in pie pan
  • Prick crust with a fork
  • Line the bottom with parchment
  • Top with pie weights or dried beans
  • Bake 10 minutes
  • Remove weights and parchment
  • Prick crust again, bake another 5-7 minutes, until crust is done

For the filling (while the crust bakes)

  • Preheat oven to 375
  • Grate gruyere, set aside
  • In a large, heavy pan, heat 2 T fat
  • Add leek tops and saute 7-8 minutes, until fairly soft
  • Add chard (or other soft greens) and saute another 3 minutes
  • Remove the greens from the pan and set aside to cool
  • Add 1 T fat and heat to a shimmer
  • Add leeks and green onions, saute 8-10 minutes

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  • Add 1 T flour, stir 1-2 minutes

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  • Remove from heat and set aside, mixing with greens
  • In a large bowl, beat 2 eggs
  • Add half and half, nutmeg, salt, and pepper
  • Whisk together

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  • Stir in greens and leeks

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  • Layer 1/2 the gruyere on the bottom of the crust

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  • Pour in filling, spread evenly

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  • Top with remaining cheese

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  • Bake at 375 30-35 minutes until center is set

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  • Remove from the oven and let sit another 20-30 minutes before serving

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Here’s how it turned out:

So good I ate two pieces!  Granted, this looks a lot more like brunch than a dinner after a weekend of killing yourself around the house and yard.  I’m shocked at how filling it is.  Only 2 eggs in the whole thing!  I threw together a little salad to have on the side.  A perfect brunch for guests to be sure, but I’ll be eating this for breakfast, lunch or dinner this week!

Try it with different greens or bacon or another hard, sharp cheese.  Serve it with grits or potatoes or fruit, in addition to a small salad.  Good warm and at room temperature.  Enjoy!

Runner’s World Chickpea Salad

May 3, 2018

I’m a runner.  Not a fast runner.  Not a good runner.  But a runner.  So, of course I have the Runner’s World Cookbook.  I haven’t made much from it, but this seemed like a good option for a long week that’s turned hot!  And for those of you who, like me, are always on the lookout for something new to take to cookouts and potlucks, this is a fantastic choice.  No mayonnaise so it can sit out.  Vegetarian and gluten-free, so workable for almost everyone.  And for the runners out there, it’s listed as “recovery” food.  It also takes about 15 minutes and one bowl to make so hard to beat all around.

If I had to describe this dish in one word it would be, “Zing!”  There are a lot of sharp flavors in here:  red onion, raw garlic, raw ginger, and jalapeno.  Those will wake you right up!  Fortunately there’s a lot of sweet to balance them out:  dried cranberries, mandarin oranges, and parsley.  And then the salt:  feta, smoked almonds, and salt.  In the background, really as the delivery vehicle, are the chickpeas.  Creamy and neutral.  This is good stuff.

And it’s beyond easy.  Drain, grate, dice, chop, dump.  Then for the dressing, measure and shake.  That’s it.

Image result for tip  Do read the directions carefully.  And this applies to every recipe.  There’s a difference between “1C chopped parsley” and “1C parsely, chopped.”  In the first one the measuring happens after the chopping (which means you need more than a cup to start with).  In the second one, you measure first and then chop what you have.

Here’s what you need:

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  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 T grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 C smoked almonds, chopped
  • 2/3 C chopped dried cranberries
  • 1 jalapeno, veins and seeds removed, chopped fine
  • 1 C chopped parsley
  • 4 oz feta crumbles
  • 2 T cider vinegar
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t pepper

Here’s what you do:

  • Dump everything chickpeas through feta crumbles in a large bowl and mix together gently
  • In a small jar, add oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.
  • Put the lid on the jar and shake until well combined.
  • Pour over salad and mix gently.

Here’s how it turned out:

This is a wonderfully balanced salad.  And good for you!  Eat it as a main dish or as a side.  It would pair very nicely with steak or with grilled shrimp.  I bet it will be even better the second day!

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Lamb and Bulghur Meatballs

May 1, 2018

It’s finally a warm Spring day in Central Virginia!  So, time for dinner that’s a little salad-y and still a little hearty.  I adapted these from a recipe in Nigella Fresh.  I’m not a huge fan of hers on TV, but the cookbook has some winners.

Meatballs take some time, but they’re super easy; super versatile; make ahead and/or freeze and user later.  They make sandwiches.  They top rice and pasta.  They add protein to a mezze plate.  That’s my choice for tonight.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1/2-2/3 C cooked bulghur wheat
  • 2 T chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 T chopped fresh mint
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper

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Here’s what you do:

  • Preheat oven to 375
  • Dump everything in a bowl
  • Mix with your hands until well combined
  • Form into balls, about 1 1/2 T each
  • Press to slightly flatten
  • Bake 12-15 minutes

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Here’s how it turned out:

I got 25 meatballs out of this.  That’s 5-6 servings.  The bulghur wheat helps stretch the lamb a little further.  It also lightens the slightly gamy flavor that some people object to in lamb.  Meatballs are prettier if you brown them on both sides before you put them in the oven.  They’re also a lot more trouble that way.  If you can live with the slightly gray/brown color you’ll save yourself some time.  You could also stuff these with a little feta cheese.  That will also add time to the whole process, but totally worth it.

These are really good.  Mine could have used a little more salt, but I’ll eat every single one!

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Umamen! Ramen Take 2

April 29, 2018

I spent my morning standing out in the cold and wind waiting to start an 8K.  Just one part of a very busy weekend.  Comfort food needed.  If possible, comfort food not full of fat.  I know, you’re thinking, um, ramen?  Ramen noodles have plenty of fat.  Thus, the Umamen.  These are udon noodles!  And rich miso and mushroom broth.  And lots of vegetables.  Comfort food.

This is kind of a combination of two recipes, with my own twists thrown in.  Check out the originals here and here.  The first is a vegetarian ramen recipe from umamigirl.com and the second is a buckwheat bowl from Cooking Light.  My version is partly “what I had left in the vegetable drawer” and partly “what looked good at the grocery store.”  I wanted to use bok choy, but it looked awful.  This may be the first ramen with swiss chard in it.  No idea why I picked up the leeks, but here they are.  I had a box of shiitake mushrooms and some carrots left from last week.  I had some udon noodles left from God knows when.  Throw in some green onions and soft boiled eggs and there you have it.  Vegetarian comfort food.  (A little Hardywood Gingerbread Stout added some comfort too).

Honestly, this isn’t easy.  It has a lot of parts and needs a fair amount of tending.  There’s a lot of “bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer.”  The eggs are a little fragile so peeling them takes some care.  You have to pay pretty careful attention to the order in which you add things or you’ll have mushy things or under-cooked things.  Not something to make while you’re doing laundry or packing lunches or talking on the phone.  So, pour yourself a beverage and settle in when you start this.  Of course you can do your chopping ahead of time.

Here’s what you need for the broth: 

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  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1 C diced onion
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 2 T red miso paste
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 C vegetable stock (stock, not broth – if you use broth use 8 C broth and no water)
  • 4 C water
  • 1/2 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/4 C soy sauce
  • 2-4 eggs

Here’s what you do:

  • Heat the sesame oil in a soup pot
  • Saute the onions, ginger and miso until the onions are soft
  • Add the ginger.  Saute 1-2 minutes,
  • Add stock, water dried mushrooms and soy sauce to taste
  • Bring to a boil
  • Add eggs in shell
  • Reduce broth to a simmer.  Cook 7 minutes.

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  • Remove eggs to an ice water bath.
  • Peel eggs and set aside.

Here’s what you need for the umamen: (use whatever you have or like)

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TIP:  Add vegetables in decreasing order of cooking time.  Hardest vegetables first and soft ones at the end.

  • 1 C sliced carrots
  • 1 large leek, cleaned and sliced
  • 2 cups chopped swiss chard
  • 8 oz sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/2 C sliced green onions
  • 2 bundles udon noodles

Here’s what you do next:

  • Bring the broth to a boil.  Add leeks and carrots.

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  • Reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer 10-12 minutes.
  • Bring the broth to a boil.  Add chard, mushroom and noodles.

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  • Reduce heat slightly.  Cook until the noodles are done.
  • Serve with a soft boiled egg and top with green onions.  Add more soy sauce to taste.

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Here’s how it turned out:

Rich and comforting.  I honestly wouldn’t have said that a vegetable stock could be this rich and creamy, but it absolutely is. The starch from the udon noodles thickens the broth just enough that this dish feels hearty and a little light all at the same time.  The miso and mushroom broth has lots of depth and complexity.  You could use a variety of vegetables here.  Bok choy or napa cabbage instead of chard.  Red bell pepper instead of, or in addition to, carrots.  Maybe a drizzle of sesame oil on the top.  Definitely more ginger.  Maybe some rice wine vinegar.

Take out the egg to make it vegan.  Add some beef or tofu or edamame to bring up the protein.  The options are endless. Umamen!

Cacio e Pepe

April 12, 2018

Sounds fancy!  Really it’s the most grown up “macaroni” and cheese you’ll ever eat.  What do we love about it?  It has five ingredients.  And it’s so amazing that the idea of macaroni and cheese will not cross your mind once.

A couple of tips for cooking the pasta.  Once the water boils, salt it.  No, really.  SALT. IT.  This is the thing most people do wrong in cooking pasta (and potatoes and grits for that matter).  The thinking is that the sauce will have salt in it so the pasta doesn’t need to.  Not so.  In every bite what you’ll taste is yummy sauce on blah pasta.  The salt in the pasta actually brings out the flavor in the sauce.

The other tip for cooking pasta is not to use too much water.  You don’t have to fill up the pot.  Enough water that the pasta is covered and has room to move around so it doesn’t clump up.  That’s all it takes.  Why?  Because you often use the pasta water in the sauce.  The reason you do that is for the starch in the water.  Less water equals more starch, and that’s a good thing.

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Here’s what you need:

  • 6 oz  dry pasta (spaghetti or linguine)
  • 3 T unsalted butter, divided into 2 and 1
  • 1 t coarsely ground pepper
  • 2/3 C grated parmesan
  • 1/3 C grated pecorino romano

You can grate your own or buy it already grated.  In this case the store grated is fine.  All I ask is that you don’t buy the stuff in the can.  When you only have a few ingredients the quality of the ingredients matters all the more.  Buy good cheese.

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Here’s what you do:

  • In one pot, boil water; salt it; add the pasta.  Keep an eye on it.  You want to drain it before it’s done.
  • When the pasta is still very al dente, in another pot melt 2T butter and add the pepper.
  • Drain the pasta about 2-3 minutes before it’s done, saving 1C of the pasta water.
  • Add 1/2 C of the pasta water to the butter and pepper.  Bring it to a simmer.
  • Add the pasta to the simmering pasta water and the last tablespoon of butter.  Add 2/3 C grated cheese.

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  • Stir the pasta so that the cheese melts into the water and distributes through the pasta.  Be sure you stir all the way to the bottom of the pan.  If you don’t the cheese will sink and stick to the bottom.
  • If the sauce gets too sticky add more pasta water.
  • When the pasta is done remove it from the heat and stir in the remaining cheese.

Here’s how it turned out:

What’s miraculous to me about this is that somehow this cheesy, buttery water turns into a wonderful sauce.  And this sauce coats all the pasta strands and still keeps them separated.  Even as I ate and the pasta cooled it never got gummy.  The pasta never clumped together.  It’s not fancy, but it is.  It’s perfect.

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Meatless Monday – Coconut Curried Vegetables

April 9, 2018

So, it’s April.  And it’s snowy, rainy, and cold.  Boo!  This Meatless Monday called for something warm and comfort-y.  Curry in just about any variety fits the comfort food bill quite nicely for me these days.  I found this recipe several years ago and have modified it many times. It started as a Crock-Pot recipe from Stephanie O’Dea that includes chicken.  Tonight, it’s a stove top recipe with many roasted vegetables.  It’s good any way you make it.

Credit to Stephanie O’Dea for suggesting a vegetarian that includes chickpeas instead of chicken.  I haven’t been able to find this recipe online so you’ll have to check out the original in her book, 365 Slow Cooker Suppers.  What you see below is tonight’s variation.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 can Lite Coconut Milk
  • 1 1/2 T red curry paste
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 T fish sauce
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 C diced roasted sweet potato
  • 2 C roasted cauliflower
  • 1 C roasted sliced carrots
  • 2 C raw spinach, stemmed

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Here’s what you do:

  • Roast all of your vegetables first until just short of done (You can do this a day or two before)
  • In a large pot combine coconut milk, curry paste, brown sugar, fish sauce, peppers, and garbanzo beans

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  •  Simmer 10 minutes
  • Stir in sweet potatoes, cauliflower, and carrots
  • Cover, simmer 10 minutes
  • Stir in spinach until just wilted
  • Salt to taste

Here’s how it turned out:

What I love about this recipe, other than that it’s yummy and super easy, is its versatility.  Use whatever vegetables you want.  This is a great way to use vegetables that are a little past their prime.  Try adding mushrooms, sugar snaps, green beans, winter squash, sauteed onions.  All good options.  Try topping it with chopped peanuts or stir in a little peanut butter. Ooh, might try that next time.  Serve it over rice if you want to bulk it up a little.  Add some hot peppers to clear those Spring sinuses.  Have fun!

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