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Monday, December 26, 2011

Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives

A little bit of the exotic in this recipe. Preserved lemons are available in gourmet shops or you can make your own (it's quite easy but you have to plan a month ahead). They are used in Moroccan stews and they add an interesting lemon flavor - very strongly lemon but without bitterness or the extreme tartness of the juice. You only use the rind; the flesh is discarded.

Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives
(4-6 servings)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Yucatan Cabbage-Pineapple Salad

A delicious tropical twist on cole slaw - it's from a great cookbook with a punny name: Lettuce in Your Kitchen by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby. Lots of fun, bold salads in here. I doctored their recipe up a little and cut it down. They must be very hungry guys because their recipe, that is supposed to serve 4-6,  can easily serve 10. Unless you are serving this for a party, you really don't need that much salad. You'll feel like you are eating it forever!

Yucatan Cabbage-Pineapple Salad
(serves 6)

1⁄2 cup Pineapple Juice
1⁄3 cup Olive Oil
2 tbl Fresh Lime Juice, about 1 lime
1 tbl Chipotle Peppers In Adobo, minced (if you are a chilehead, add 2 tbl)
2 cloves Garlic, minced
Salt And Black Pepper

1 medium Mango, peeled and cut into 3⁄4" dice
1⁄2 small Pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into 3⁄4" dice
1⁄2 small Green Cabbage, cored and cut into thin strips
1⁄4 cup Chopped Cilantro
1 medium Red Bell Pepper, seeded and cut strips
Salt And Coarsely Ground Black Pepper

In a small saucepan, bring the pineapple juice to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and boil until juice is reduced to a thick syrup. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Combine pineapple syrup with remaining dressing ingredients and mix well.

In a large bowl, combine salad ingredients. Give the dressing another stir and add to salad. Toss to dress. Season generously with salt and black pepper.

Link to PDF of Yucatan Cabbage-Pineapple Salad

Friday, December 9, 2011

Buttermilk Rolls

A sure-fire way to impress your guests is to bake fresh rolls. When friends walk in the house, they smell this yeasty deliciousness and they just can't wait to tear into those soft little pillows of dough.

Yeast doughs are intimidating to many home bakers. But, they need not be. Yeast isn't as temperamental as people believe. Maybe the mystery is that yeast works on its own schedule and is sensitive to temperature, so your dough may rise faster or slower depending on the temperature in your kitchen. The great thing is, it doesn't actually matter that much. Your dough will rise eventually, given the temperature in your average kitchen. If it's warm today, it will rise a bit faster. If it's chilly, like it is in my house all winter, it will rise more slowly. Sometimes you need a little more patience, but ultimately, your patience will be rewarded.

I made these rolls for my Thanksgiving dinner. They are very cute and quite tasty. They get great flavor from buttermilk and a bit of whole wheat. They are soft and fluffy because they are largely white flour. And, they are just so cute!

The recipe is adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites. The original has instructions for making them by hand, but I'm all for letting my KitchenAid mixer handle the heavy work of kneading.

Besides the heavy-duty mixer, a scale is useful for getting rolls that are all the same size, but you can eyeball the size and they will turn out fine.

Buttermilk Dinner Rolls
(makes about 21)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Turkey and Corn Chowder

It's that time of year again - time to figure out what to do with all that leftover turkey. Every year, I try a new soup. Here's this year's entry. It's adapted from a recipe in Rick Rodger's The Turkey Cookbook. His recipe didn't use any bacon, but as far as I'm concerned, it ain't chowda unless it has bacon.

Turkey and Corn Chowder
(serves 8)

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Another request - for polenta. Polenta is a nice change from potatoes, rice or noodles. Polenta or corn grits is an interesting food. Polenta is not the same as hominy grits. Polenta is dried corn that is ground. The corn is not treated in any way. This is actually quite important. Corn is deficient in niacin, an important B vitamin. Masa and hominy came from Native Americans who figured out how to treat corn with an alkali, such as lime, making the hulls less tough. Something vital happens because of this process. It changes the availability of the niacin, so that the treated corn is no longer deficient in niacin. Sadly for the Italians, the technology for treating corn did not travel across the ocean with the grain. Parts of Italy - very poor parts - embraced corn like the Irish embraced the potato. But, because they didn't know how to treat the corn, they were afflicted with pellegra, niacin deficiency. Native Americans didn't suffer from pellegra because they know the secret to unlocking the niacin in the corn. One has to wonder how they figured this out.

OK, enough nutritional history! Since we're all well-fed and get plenty of niacin from other sources, we can eat it without worry.

This recipe comes from The Turkey Cookbook by Rick Rogers (1990). Since we are approaching Thanksgiving, this seems like a great time to mention this cookbook. It's one of my favorites. I love turkey and it is packed with hearty delicious recipes. The polenta is paired with thighs in a herbed tomato sauce which I'll post at a later date.

(serves 4-6)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Walnut Tart from Saint-Paul-de-Vence

I made this cake yesterday for a party. It's not a traditional cake, more like a tart made to look like a cake. It took all day. I'm not going to post the recipe since it's 6 pages long. There are 3 separate components and then assembly.

First you make the cake filling. Then you make a double crust of rich pastry. Line the tart pan and fill it.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cheesecake - You crack me up!

First, I'd like to apologize to my loyal readers for my lack of posting. I have been busy working on another blog: School of Eating Good, which is my new baby. This blog features recipes, techniques, and information on basic cooking. School of Eating Good is targeted at young adults who find themselves cooking, often for the first time in their lives. On Facebook, School of Eating Good is associated with Boulder, CO Food Revolution, part of the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution. Search for us and like us!

Back to the cheesecake...lots of people ask me about cheesecake. Has to be the most challenging "easy" dessert out there. Why does my cheesecake crack?? How can I stop this? Why is my cheesecake dry and grainy? I offer a few suggestions here and a recipe.

The Five Reasons for Cheesecake Failure

1. You over-bake it. It's not really a cake, it's a custard. If you bake it until it's solid, it's over-baked. It should jiggle in the center when you take it out of the oven. If the recipe says bake until it doesn't jiggle, get a new recipe, like the one below. Baking the cheesecake less will solve both the cracking and the dry, grainy problem.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Icebox Cake

My friend Jenny has a tradition of Thanksgiving in Summer. Likes Thanksgiving so much, she plans a second one sometime during the summer. Gets to share the turkey her employer gives her every year. I had to bring dessert. Sure, pie is traditional. But, it's not November when I'm more than happy to turn on my oven.

It's July and it's been hot. Really hot. I don't turn on my oven when it's this hot. I cook outside on the grill. Cooking dessert on the grill can be done but it's limited and most grilled desserts lack the wow factor (unless it's homemade ice cream, which is in a class by itself). I certainly won't be baking a pie.

Enter icebox cake. No baking. Simple assembly. Tastes as good as cheesecake. Icebox cake was very popular once but it's fallen out of favor. I don't know why. It's really good, especially if it includes a pound of mascarpone cheese. The only thing to remember is you have to put it together 24 hours ahead

And to make it feel like Thanksgiving, I served it with cranberry sauce.

Ginger-Mascapone Icebox Cake
serves 12-16
(from the Best American Recipes 2000; originally from Fine Cooking Magazine)

butter or nonstick spray
3-4 tbl sugar
12 ounces Ginger Snap Cookie Crumbs
5 tbl Unsalted Butter, melted
8 ounces Cream Cheese, softened
1⁄2 cup Plain Low-Fat Yogurt
2⁄3 cup Sugar
1⁄2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1⁄2 cup Crystallized Ginger, minced
1 pound Mascarpone Cheese
1⁄3 cup Heavy Cream

Spray a 9" springform pan with nonstick spray or butter it lightly. Dust the pan with a couple of tablespoons of sugar and shake out any excess. In a medium bowl, combine the ginger snap crumbs and butter, rubbing them together with your fingertips to combine thoroughly. Sprinkle half of the crumbs over the bottom of the pan and pat down evenly; reserve the rest.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, whip together the cream cheese, yogurt, sugar, vanilla, and ginger until smooth, scraping down the sides. Add the mascarpone and cream and whip until the mixture is thoroughly combined and just holds peaks. Don't overwhip, or the mixture may separate.

Carefully spoon half of the mascarpone mixture over the crust, spreading it evenly to the edges of the pan. Sprinkle half of the remaining crumbs over the mascarpone mixture in the pan. Top with the remaining mascarpone mixture and finish with the remaining crumbs. Gently tap the pan on the counter to eliminate any air bubbles. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Serve cold.

Link to PDF of Ginger-Mascarpone Icebox Cake

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Rolled Stuffed Flank Steak, a great dish for entertaining

This is an impressive dish. It is tasty, of course. It uses seasonal greens, chard and arugula. It's not something you often see so your guests will be wow'ed by your culinary chops. There is only one tricky skill here: butterflying the flank steak. You'll need a really sharp knife, preferably a boning knife. You need to slice the steak in half so that it opens like a book. Since a flank steak is only 1 1/2 inches thick, this takes some skill and patience. Take your time and you'll get it. If it's not sliced evenly in half, it's still ok. Just make sure you don't cut any holes in it because the stuffing will leak out. Not the end of the world, but not quite as pretty.

A nice accompaniment for this is soft polenta with parmesan cheese.

Any leftovers are also very good cold. In fact, if the weather heats up, cook this ahead, chill it, and have it cold for dinner with a nice salad.

Butterflied Steak Stuffed with Greens (serves 8)
Adapted from Bert Greene's Greene on Greens

½ pound Swiss Chard , leaves only, chopped
½ pound Arugula , chopped
3 ½ tbl Unsalted Butter
1 large Onion , finely chopped
2 medium Onions, sliced
1 pound Ground Veal , or use ground turkey
2 large Egg , lightly beaten
2 tbl Chopped Fresh Parsley , plus additional for garnish
1 tsp Fresh Thyme , chopped, or ¼ tsp dried thyme
1 ½ tsp Salt
¾ tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 ½ to 2 pounds Flank Steak, butterflied (see note)
1 medium Carrot , peeled and chopped
½ cup Beef Stock
½ cup Red Wine
1 tsp Tomato Paste

Melt 1 tbl. butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the chopped onion; cook until soft. Stir in chard and arugula. Cook, covered, until soft, about 15 minutes. Raise the heat and remove the cover. Cook, stirring, until all the liquid has evaporated. Transfer to a mixing bowl and cool in the refrigerator.

When the greens are cold, add the veal, the eggs, 2 tbl. parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper. Mix well to combine.

Lay out steak, season with salt and pepper. Spread the filling all over it. Roll it up starting on the long side, and use kitchen twine to keep it from unrolling. Season outside with salt and pepper.

Melt 1 tbl. of butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Saute the rolled steak until it is well-browned on all sides. Place the sliced onions and chopped carrot around the steak. Add the beef stock and the red wine. It should boil right away. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook at a simmer for about 1 ¼ hours.

Remove the meat to a serving plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Strain the juices from the pot into a small saucepan. Stir in the tomato paste and cook over high heat until slightly thickened. Stir in remaining 1 ½ tbl. butter. Remove from heat.

Slice rolled steak with a serrated knife into 1" thick slices (to show off the pretty pinwheel of steak and stuffing). Pour sauce over steak slices, garnish with chopped parsley, and serve immediately.

Any leftovers are excellent served cold.

Note: How to butterfly a flank steak

Use a very sharp knife. Either a boning knife or a chef's knife will do.

Lay the steak on a cutting board so that the long side is perpendicular with the front of the cutting board. You will be cutting through three sides of the steak, leaving one long edge intact. Insert the knife into one corner, slicing an edge in half. When you make this cut, your knife is parallel with the countertop.You will continue this cut almost all the way through the steak. Put your non-cutting hand flat on top of the steak and cut through the steak, keeping the knife as flat as possible. When you get close to the far edge along the whole edge, open the steak like a book and make sure the steak lies flat. You can make a few small cuts near the intact edge to help it lie flat but you want to be careful you don't cut all the way through.

Link to PDF of Butterflied Steak Stuffed with Greens.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Thawing Frozen Meat Faster

This is news we can use. How to speed up the process of thawing frozen meat. I have wondered if this was a safe way to thaw meat. Now someone has done the experiments and figured out that, yes, this works and you won't give yourself food poisoning in the process. I have often used cool tap water. This was the recommended method for thawing that I learned in culinary school. But, obviously, things go quicker if you thaw the meat in hotter water. Cool water thawed steaks in 20 minutes. Somewhat hot water thawed them in 11 minutes. As comparison, it took 18-20 hours to thaw similar steaks in the refrigerator. You won't achieve these quick thaw times in your kitchen unless you have an immersion circulator that keeps the water temperature consistently hot (Look Ronnie! Another use for David's immersion circulator!) but even starting with 125 degree F water will speed things up.

One caveat: this method has only been tested in fairly thin cuts like chicken breasts and 1" steaks. The testing hasn't been done on large roasts so isn't recommended for big cuts.

You can read the whole article in the New York Times: A Hot-Water Bath for Thawing Meats

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Really easy basic broccoli

I have been making this very tasty and easy broccoli recipe for years. I made it recently at my brother-in-law's house. My sister-in-law's niece said it was the best broccoli she's ever eaten and insisted on the recipe. I hesitate to call it a recipe because it is so simple. I imagine she isn't the only person who would love an easy week-night vegetable dish. In my house, 2 heads of broccoli feeds 4 people. Your broccoli mileage may vary. We love broccoli.

Simple Garlic Broccoli
(serves 4)

4 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
2 heads of broccoli, broken into florets and stems peeled and cut into slices
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tsp salt, or more to taste

Heat 1 Tbl olive oil in a large skillet with a cover over medium heat.

Add garlic and saute until fragrant but not browned.

Add broccoli and toss to cover with oil. Add 2 tbl water,  which should immediately create a lot of steam. Cover and steam broccoli for 5 minutes, until crisp-tender. I like my broccoli not too crunchy and not too soft which takes about 6-7 minutes in high altitude Boulder. 5 minutes is about right at sea-level.

Remove the cover, turn up the heat to medium-high and cook another minute to evaporate most of the water.

Sprinkle with remaining 1 Tbl olive oil and salt. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Spinach-Buttermilk Soup with Mini Meatballs

Do you ever buy a quart of buttermilk only to use a couple of cups? What to do with the rest? You can make more pancakes, of course. Here's another way to use up 2-3 cups of buttermilk. It's a rather unusual recipe. I can't recall seeing anything similar anywhere else. It is very tasty and a vibrant shade of green. It gets a nice tang from the buttermilk. This soup also freezes brilliantly. I adapted this recipe from one in Half a Can of Tomato Paste and Other Culinary Dilemmas by Jean Anderson and Ruth Buchan. It's long out of print but you can get a copy used from the usual places. I love the concept of this cookbook - recipes and tips for using up odds and ends of ingredients that languish in your pantry or refrigerator.

Spinach-Buttermilk Soup with Mini Meatballs
(serves 6-8)

Mini Meatballs
½ pound Ground Pork
½ pound Ground Turkey
1 cup Soft Fine Bread Crumbs
1 small Onion, minced
¼ cup Grated Pamesan Cheese, optional
3 Tbsp Anchovy Paste, optional
½ tsp Salt , omit if using Parmesan cheese and/or anchovy paste
⅛ tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 pinch Ground Nutmeg

Spinach-Buttermilk Soup
2 large Onion, peeled and chopped fine
3 Tbsp Butter
2 10-ounce Packages Frozen Spinach, either leaf or chopped
5 ¼ cups Chicken Broth
2-3 cups Buttermilk
⅛ tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 pinch Ground Nutmeg
Salt, to taste

Prepare the meatballs first. Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly then shape into 1" balls. Arrange them in one layer on a sheet pan. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours, or until the meatballs have firmed up.

While the meatballs are chilling, prepare the soup. In a 4 quart saucepan or soup pot, saute the onions in the butter over medium heat until they are nicely browned. Add the frozen spinach, cover, and cook over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes or until the spinach is very soft.

Puree the onion-spinach mixture in a blender with 1 cup of the chicken broth. You can use a food processor but the texture will be smoother if you use a blender. Return the pureed onions and spinach to the saucepan and add the rest of the chicken broth. Cook on the low, covered, while the meatballs chill.

Drop the meatballs into the soup. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, just to maintain a simmer, for 45 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through.

Reduce heat to low, and add buttermilk, pepper, nutmeg, and salt and heat just to serving temperature. Do not boil as the buttermilk may curdle.

Link to PDF of Spinach-Buttermilk Soup with Mini Meatballs

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Lamb Espresso

I just read this in the NY Times: "In January, the United States Department of Agriculture released figures showing that domestic lamb production is at an all-time low, down 13 percent over just one year. On the ranch and on the plate, beef cattle are elbowing out sheep by a little more each year. The average American now eats over 60 pounds of beef annually, but consumption of lamb is just over 1 pound per person."

Beef over lamb? Not in my house! My mom loved to cook lamb. I'm not sure how we afforded it, but we ate lamb chops a lot. Maybe it was a lot cheaper back in the 60's and 70's. That's surely why I developed a long-standing love of lamb - early and frequent exposure.

Traditionally, mint jelly is served with lamb. Maybe people don't really like the strong flavor of lamb and mint covers it up. My mother never served mint jelly and I am not a big fan. Everyone in my house liked the flavor of lamb and gobbled it up.

This recipe is from a cookbook called America's Best: A National Community Cookbook. It was published in 1983, and contained recipes from cooks throughout the country with a special emphasis on recipes from ski country. Its sales raised money for US Ski Team. You can get a copy used for next to nothing. In keeping with the ski theme, the recipes are rated Beginner, Intermediate and Expert, just like ski trails (and they use the circle, square and diamond shapes next to each recipe, just like ski trails). I think my mom bought it for me because a) she thought it was an awesome cookbook, and b) I had just learned to ski. And, it is an awesome cookbook with lots of very solid recipes. Lamb Espresso would be the best of the best, in my opinion.

Lamb Espresso
(serves 8)

1 4 pound Leg Of Lamb
3 cloves Garlic
2 tablespoons Dry Mustard
2 tablespoons Ground Ginger
Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 10-ounce Jar Currant Jelly
⅓ cup Tawny Port Wine
½ cup Brewed Espresso Coffee, or very strong regular coffee

Preheat  oven to 350℉.

Cut 3 slits in lamb and insert the garlic cloves.

In a small bowl, combine the mustard, ginger, salt, and pepper and rub this mixture over the lamb. Place the lamb in a roasting pan and bake for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine the jelly, wine, and the coffee and mix well. Bring to a boil over high heat and stir until the jelly is dissolved. Reserve.

Baste the lamb every 10 minutes with the sauce, until the lamb is the desired internal temperature (about 50 minutes more for medium-rare). Total roasting time is 90 minutes.

Allow lamb to rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Link to PDF of Lamb Espresso recipe

Monday, April 18, 2011

Southwestern Matzoh Ball Soup

Southwestern matzoh balls, jazzed up with some fresh chiles and julienned carrots
It's nearly Passover, friends. Now, being the unobservant Jew that I am, I have not cleaned out every speck of chometz (that would be bread-like products that aren't Kosher for Passover, and believe me, that definition is extremely broad). I did wash the floor today, which is pretty good in my house. I do believe in the restorative power of matzoh ball soup however. And after washing the floors, I need something restorative.

This is quite an old internet recipe, at least in terms of the age of the internet (it is not, however, the oldest one I have, which dates from 1982). This recipe came from which was the grand-daddy of internet recipe sites. It was a mishmash of people, with some definite likes and dislikes. Which led to some pretty interesting flaming but also a lot of interesting food.

This recipe is from Susan Hattie Steinsapir who was a frequent contributor to the group. I believe she lived in Southern California and she passed away at some point during the heyday of But, she is not forgotten as I think about this lady I never met every Passover when I pull out her unorthodox version of matzoh ball soup.

Southwestern Matzoh Ball Chicken Soup
(serves 4)

A classic recipe from the days of with some enhancements from me. I added the black pepper and cumin. If the jalapeno is not very spicy, I like to add a teaspoon of very finely minced serrano chile or a pinch of ground dried chipotle chiles to spice things up a little. I also use tequila rather than vodka sometimes, for a little Nuevo American twist.

2 tablespoon Oil
2 large Egg
½ cup Matzoh Meal
1 teaspoon Salt
⅛ teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
⅛ teaspoon Ground Cumin
2 tablespoon Finely Minced Onion
1 teaspoon Finely Minced Jalapeno
1 tablespoon Minced Red Pepper
2 tablespoon Tequila or Vodka
6 cups Chicken Broth
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, dill or parsley

Beat oil and eggs together. Add matzoh meal, salt, onion, jalapenos, red pepper and vodka. Stir to blend thoroughly. Refrigerate covered for 15 minutes.

Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil. Reduce heat so that water is boiling gently. Drop 1" size matzoh balls (they will swell as they cook) into the water. Cover pot and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove and drain. At this point, you can chill the matzoh balls and reheat them in the chicken broth when you want to serve them.

Add the matzoh balls to chicken soup and simmer for 5 minutes (20 minutes, if chilled) before serving.

This recipe can be doubled but only use 3 eggs.

notes: This dish will serve 6 as part of a big Passover meal. By doubling the recipe and thereby decreasing the percentage of eggs, you end up with slightly denser matzoh balls. A single recipe results in very light and fluffy matzoh balls while a double recipe results in somewhat denser matzoh balls. This is based on personal observation making a double and single batch in the same day.

Link to PDF of Southwestern Matzoh Ball Chicken Soup

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Pork Green Chile with Farro

One of my daughter's favorite foods is BBQ Pork Shoulder (see my post on North Carolina BBQ). This is not a small chunk of meat. One half of a shoulder runs 6-7 pounds. I try to invite as many people as I can to help us eat it, which isn't terribly hard. But, still, there are usually plenty of leftovers when you cook up a 7 pound hunk of pork. I didn't shred up all the meat last time, so I was left with a chunk of pork. This is where it ended up.

Don't worry about trimming all the fat off the pork as you cut it up. As you brown the pork, it will render out and add great flavor to the dish.

Depending on where you live, finding the frozen green chiles may be difficult. If you can't find them, you can substitute roasted fresh chiles, like Anahiems or Poblanos. I would not use the canned ones; they don't have the right flavor. And this dish really does depend on the flavor of the chiles.

Farro is an old Italian grain, a relative of spelt. It's showing up in more places these days. I got a bag of it at my local CostCo. One clear advantage of farro is that it cooks up quickly, in just 15 minutes. It has an appealing chewy texture and it doesn't get gummy like brown rice. It's an excellent addition to the whole grain shelf. Rice would certainly be a more traditional choice with green chile but I so love the chewiness of farro that I used it instead.

Pork Green Chile with Farro
(4 servings)

1 tbl Vegetable Oil
3⁄4 pound Leftover Cooked Pork Shoulder, diced
1⁄2 medium Onion, finely chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 tsp Ground Cumin
2 tsp Flour
12 ounces Frozen Diced Green Chiles, mild or medium, depending on your heat preference, thawed
1 1⁄2 cups Water
1⁄2 cup Frozen Corn Kernels
1⁄2 cup Frozen Peas
1 cup Frozen Green Beans
2 tsp Kosher Salt, or to taste
1 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 cup Farro

Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Saute pork in oil until browned. Remove to a bowl with a slotted spoon and reserve.

And onions and garlic to pot and saute until onion is translucent. Add cumin and flour. Cook for another minute. Add green chiles and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer.

While the chile is cooking, heat 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the farro, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes until the farro is tender, but still chewy.

Once the farro is cooking, add the corn, peas, and green beans to the green chile. Continue simmering while the farro finishes cooking.

Drain the farro after 15 minutes and add to the chile. Add the browned pork, salt and pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes to reheat the pork.

Link to PDF of Pork Green Chile with Farro recipe

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Parmesan Cheese - Save those rinds!

Real Parmesan cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano, is expensive stuff. It's a lot cheaper in and around Parma, costing 1/2 what it costs at CostCo, which is the best price I've found in my neighborhood. I would have brought home a whole wheel but that's a heavy hunk of cheese to drag around Italy. And if you are not in Italy, it's not exactly cost effective to jump on a jet.

So, you want to get your money's worth. What? You don't buy real Parmesan cheese? Yes, it is a luxury item but a little bit goes a long way. There's a reason Parmigiano Reggiano is called the King of Cheeses. Its nutty salty flavor is irreplaceable. Though Romano and Grana are worthy cheeses, they are not Parmigiano. American imitations of any of these Italian cheeses are poor imitations, made in vast quantities and sold for next to nothing (relative to the real thing). Don't do it! Buy the real McCoy and use every bit of it.

That means the rinds too. They freeze great; they will last forever in the deep chill. Even if they have dried out in the fridge, keep them. They are fantastic added to soups. Not only do they add great flavor, they are a wonderful textural addition. Every bit of the rind is edible with proper treatment. The rind is just dried-out hard cheese. After long cooking in a soupy environment, the hard cheese turns into this gooey, unctuous deliciousness. The best use of the rinds, then, is immersion is a brothy soup such as a minestrone, or a long-cooking tomato sauce. It does take a while for the cheese to rehydrate so you need to give the cheese enough time to soak up moisture and melt into a tasty goo.

Here's a simple minestrone from the excellent book, Fagioli by Judith Barrett, on beans done the Italian way. Those Parmesan rinds will go to good use here.

Minestrone of Chickpeas (Cicerchie)
(serves 6)

2 cups Chickpeas
1 rib Celery, finely chopped
1 medium Carrot, finely chopped
½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 medium Red Onion, finely chopped
3 Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cut into a small dice
6 chunks Parmesan Cheese Rind
Salt And Black Pepper
6 Plum Tomatoes (About 1 Pound), cored, seeded, and chopped
15 stems Flat-Leaf Parsley, leaves only, finely chopped
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for garnish

Soak chickpeas in cold water overnight. Drain and discard the soaking water. Rinse under cold water and drain again. Combine the beans with the celery, carrot, and 10 cups of cold water in a heavy 6 quart soup pot over medium-high heat. When the water begins to boil, lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 hours, until the beans are tender.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and potatoes and cook, stirring, about 5 minutes; add to the beans. Add the Parmesan rinds. Continue cooking about 30 minutes longer. The beans and the rinds should be quite tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the tomatoes and parsley and cook 5 minutes longer. Serve with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

Link to PDF of Minestrone of Chickpeas recipe

Friday, January 21, 2011

Mexican Lasagna - a take on Chilaquiles

Since nothing particularly "foodie" has happened around here since my last post early in January, I will give my dear readers one of my tried and true recipes: Mexican Lasagna. This recipe, adapted from one in Quick Vegetarian Classics by Jeanne Lemlin, is called Chilaquiles. But her version doesn't look much like the Mexican recipes I've found. Never mind. It's still quite tasty and a filling dish for a winter's night.

One of the hallmarks of Chilaquiles is the use of stale corn tortillas. Though stale tortillas are not required, this is a great way to use them up.

Mexican Lasagna
adapted from Chilaquiles in Quick Vegetarian Classics, Jeanne Lemlin
(serves 6 - 8)

1 ½ tbsp Olive Oil
2 Onions, finely chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
28 ounce Can Tomatoes, With Their Juice, chopped, if whole
16 ounce Can Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained
2 4 ounce Cans Mild Green Chiles, drained and minced
12 Corn Tortillas, cut into 1" strips
1 cup Sour Cream
8 ounces Grated Jack Cheese, lowfat is fine

1. Preheat oven to 350℉. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add onions and garlic, and saute 10 minutes, or until onions are tender.

2. Stir in tomatoes and juice, kidney beans and chiles. Boil 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the juices begin to thicken. Remove from heat.

3. Spread half the sauce in a 12x7x2" casserole or baking pan. top with half the tortilla strips, half the sour cream, and half the cheese. Layer with remaining ingredients.

4. Bake 35 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Link to PDF of Mexican Lasagna recipe

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Ham Bone Split Pea Soup

A ham with a bone. A boon to soup-lovers!

How I love split pea soup! And the best split pea soup starts with a meaty ham bone. I expect there are lots of ham bones in fridges right now. Hopefully, when you carved up your Christmas or New Year's ham, you did not discard the bone. If you had, that would be very sad. I nearly took off my husband's head when he went to toss our Christmas ham bone in the garbage. What a waste of fantastic hammy flavor! It is so simple to make split pea soup. The hardest part is pureeing some of the soup in the blender. You don't have to do this but it improves the texture of the soup a great deal.

Sharon's Ham Bone Split Pea Soup
(serves 6-8)

1 tablespoon Butter or Oil
1 medium Onion, chopped
2 Carrots, cut in half lengthwise then into ¼" slices
6 cloves garlic chopped
1 pound Dried Split Peas, rinsed and picked over
10 cups Ham Stock, or water, or combination of both
1 meaty Ham Bone
1 Bay Leaf
a few sprigs of fresh Thyme
1 cup Diced Ham
Salt , to taste (if using ham stock, may need none)
½ teaspoon Black Pepper
hot pepper sauce (optional)

Heat butter or oil in a large soup kettle over medium-low and cook  onions and carrots, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Add in garlic and cook another minute. Add split peas, ham stock or water, ham bone, bay leaf, and thyme and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally. If soup gets too thick, add 1 to 2 cups more water. Cook until split peas are tender, for about 2 hours. Discard bay leaf and thyme.

Ladle soup into a blender to fill blender container. Puree until smooth. You can puree some of the soup, or all of it, depending on what texture you like best. Return to soup kettle. Add ham meat to kettle and simmer soup, stirring, until heated through. Season with salt (if needed) and pepper. Serve with hot sauce, if desired.