Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thai-Style Vegetable Curry

I've had this on my "to-try" list for a long time - it came out in the April 2005 issue of Cooking Light in an article about how to make your own homemade stock. Obviously I did not bust out the veggies and create my own vegetable stock, but we did finally make this recipe. It's very fast and is yummy. I didn't think it was anything special though.

veggies

Thai-Style Vegetable Curry
CL April 2005

1 tablespoon canola oil
3 cups chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped peeled ginger
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups Vegetable Stock, divided
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 to 3 teaspoons red Thai curry paste (such as Thai Kitchen)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (1/4-inch-thick) slices carrot
2 cups chopped red bell pepper
2 cups cherry tomatoes
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
8 ounces small yellow squash, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 (8-ounce) package presliced mushrooms
1 (6-ounce) package fresh baby spinach
4 cups hot cooked rice noodles

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, ginger, and garlic to pan; sauté 5 minutes. Add 1 cup Vegetable Stock, soy sauce, curry paste, and salt. Stir in carrot; cook 2 minutes. Add bell pepper, tomatoes, zucchini, squash, and mushrooms; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining 3 cups stock and spinach; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until carrot is tender, stirring occasionally. Serve over noodles.

Yield: 8 servings

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Arepas with Savory Topping

This recipe technically combines three recipes from the June 2008 issue of Cooking Light. Each step takes a little while but they can all be done concurrently. The salsa-type condiment has to refrigerate for 3 hours, so I just started it this morning and left it in the refrigerator until dinner (so more like 9 hours...). But it all comes together nicely and is really yummy. We both really liked it, and it sparked a really lame conversation about the difference between a "make again" and a "worth keeping" recipe. I would label it as a "make again."

Make again. I would also make just the beans and tomato mixtures and use them in tacos or burritos as well; they don't only have to cover the arepas.

arepas

Arepas with Savory Topping
CL June 2008

Venezuelan street vendors stuff thick arepas with rice or eggs. Our recipe creates thin arepas, which are best topped with beans, salsa, and cheese.

In Venezuela, these can be baked as we do here, pan-fried, or grilled, all using the same basic dough. Some arepas are thicker and can be split open; our recipe yields a thinner, slightly crisp arepa that serves as a base for toppings. Even though both arepa flour and Mexican masa harina are precooked corn flours, arepa flour is essential to achieve the correct texture for the corn cakes. Look for arepa flour in Latin markets. Since arepa dough is slightly sticky and wet, plastic wrap makes shaping easier.


6 Arepas
1 1/2 cups Simple Black Beans, reheated
6 tablespoons Avocado Salsa
9 tablespoons crumbled queso fresco

1. Arrange arepas on a platter. Spoon 1/4 cup Simple Black Beans onto each arepa. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon Avocado Salsa and 1 1/2 tablespoons queso fresco.

Arepas
1 cup yellow arepa flour (harina precocida)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups boiling water
Cooking spray

1. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups boiling water; stir with a wooden spoon until well combined and smooth (about 1 minute). Cover and let stand 5 minutes.

2. Scrape dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Shape dough into a 2-inch-thick disk. Cut dough into 6 equal portions. Working with one dough portion at a time, place dough portion between two sheets of plastic wrap; shape into a ball, and flatten with palm of hand into a 3-inch circle (about 1/2 inch thick); shape edges to smooth.

3. Preheat oven to 350°.

4. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add arepas to pan; cook 5 minutes on each side or until arepa begins to brown and a crust forms. Transfer arepas to a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until arepas sound hollow when lightly tapped.

Simple Black Beans (Caraotas Negras)
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup water
2 (15-ounce) cans 50%-less-sodium black beans, undrained
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper to pan; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in sugar, garlic, black pepper, and cumin; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 cup water and beans; bring to a boil. Partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, and stir in vinegar.

Avocado Salsa (Guasacaca)
2 cups finely chopped onion
3/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper (1 small)
3 tablespoons finely chopped seeded jalapeño pepper
3 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 cups chopped peeled avocado (about 2)
1 1/2 cups chopped seeded plum tomato (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1. Combine first 9 ingredients in a large bowl; toss mixture gently. Cover and refrigerate 3 hours. Stir in avocado and remaining ingredients just before serving.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Chocolate-Filled Buns

It's no secret that we love the combination of bread and chocolate, or puff pastry and chocolate, or anything doughy and chocolate. Yum yum. So when I 'inherited' a big box of semisweet baking chocolate from my boss's kitchen after a little kitchen catastrophe, I immediately decided to make these buns. The dough refrigerates overnight to make for quick morning prep, but I didn't feel like making them last night so I started it at about 9am and finished it at around 6. This worked out well. The dough is not too sweet and is a nice complement to the chocolate. We used the little rectangles of chocolate so our buns turned out kind of rectangular. Next time I might chop them up (we were lazy) or use some chocolate chips instead. There WILL be a next time though because these are really, really good!!!

The bun we picked for this picture sucks; most of them are completely filled with chocolate in the middle. I think this one got pretty lopsided. Don't let it deter you from making these buns.

buns

Chocolate-Filled Buns
Cooking Light, November 2007

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (about 7 ounces)
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 packages quick-rise yeast (about 4 1/2 teaspoons)
3/4 cup fat-free milk
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large egg
2 1/4 cups bread flour (about 10 1/2 ounces)
Cooking spray
3 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 large egg white, lightly beaten

Lightly spoon whole wheat flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine whole wheat flour, sugar, salt, and quick-rise yeast in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk.

Combine milk, 1/2 cup water, butter, and canola oil in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave at HIGH 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until mixture is warm (100° to 110°). Add milk mixture to flour mixture; stir 1 minute. Add egg; stir 1 minute. Lightly spoon bread flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add bread flour to yeast mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn mixture out onto a lightly floured surface; knead 2 minutes.

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray; lightly coat top of dough with cooking spray. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and punch down. Divide dough into 16 equal portions; shape each portion into a ball. Working with one ball at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), roll dough into a 5-inch circle. Place about 1 1/2 teaspoons chocolate in the center of circle. Roll up dough tightly, jelly-roll fashion; pinch seams to seal. Place buns, seam side down, on a baking sheet lightly coated with cooking spray. Tuck ends under; cover. Repeat procedure with remaining dough and chocolate.

Lightly coat dough with cooking spray; cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 40 minutes or until doubled in size. Lightly brush tops of buns with egg white.

Bake at 375° for 17 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Yield: 16 buns

Poblano and Jack Cheese Pizzas

I'm all annoyed because I thought I was making a new recipe for dinner, but once I started prepping, it seemed familiar. Turns out I forgot to move the recipe from the "to try" folder to the "make again" folder. Good job, me! So we actually made this already last April. We thought it was "just ok" at the time, and I complained that all the toppings fell off because there was no binder.

I remedied that this time by putting a layer of cheese underneath the corn in addition to on top of all the ingredients. This worked out very well. It was much better this time around and we both still enjoyed it.

pizza

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Malaysian Lime-Coconut Swordfish

I tried to make swordfish over a year ago, and it was a disaster. Granted, it was frozen and I was also still trying to figure out how to cook fish. I still am trying to figure out how to cook fish. But since swordfish was significantly on sale this week ($5.99/lb!) I decided to try this recipe.

It has a lot of the great south Asian flavors that we love - coconut, lime, cilantro, curry, lemon - and the swordfish turned out really nice. There may have been a bit too much lime and a bit too much cilantro but we both ate the whole thing. We would make it again, if swordfish ever goes on sale this cheap again!

We were creative and served it with the pineapple rice from this recipe. That was a good choice.

swordfish

Malaysian Lime-Coconut Swordfish
Cooking Light, July 2000

Lemongrass gives a characteristic citrus flavor and fragrance to many Asia dishes. You'll find this herb with long, thin, gravy-green leaves in the produce section of many supermarkets. You can substitute grated lemon peel, but cut the amount by half.

1/3 cup light coconut milk
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons thinly sliced peeled fresh lemon grass (about 1 stalk) or 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon Thai chili paste (such as Dynasty)
2 shallots, peeled
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 (1 1/2-pound) swordfish steak (about 1 inch thick)
Cooking spray
Cilantro sprigs (optional)
Lemon wedges (optional)

Preheat broiler.

Combine first 9 ingredients in a food processor; pulse 3 times or until coarsely chopped. Place fish on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray; spread 1/2 cup shallot mixture evenly over fish. Broil 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve the fish with the remaining shallot mixture, and garnish with cilantro sprigs and lemon wedges, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings

Friday, July 25, 2008

Zucchini Coins with Basil and Parmesan

Tonight we had Toasted Ravioli.

Here is a photo since we never took a picture before:
ravioli

As a side dish, I decided to try this recipe from the Boston Globe. It's simple and yummy. We used fresh basil from my new basil plant! I love Freecycle, I get the best stuff off of it! Haha! Anyway this was good and we might make it again.

coins

Zucchini Coins with Basil and Parmesan
Boston Globe

1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
4 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4-pound piece Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the garlic and cook over low heat, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Add the zucchini and cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 3 minutes or until the zucchini is bright green and tender.

Sprinkle with basil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Hold the piece of Parmesan over the zucchini and use a swivel vegetable peeler to shave pieces of cheese, letting half a dozen fall onto the zucchini. Serve at once

Yield: 4 servings

Seven Layer Tortilla Pie

Last night we made this stacked tortilla "pie" from Cooking Light. It was kind of similar to the Chilaquiles recipe I used to make. It's weird because the first few bites were awesome and we were like, "TOTALLY a make again." And then a few bites later, we kind of looked at each other and said, "Oh maybe this isn't as good as we thought." It was kind of soggy and got really boring after awhile. So much to our surprise, we would not make this again.

At least it looks cool.
pie

Seven Layer Tortilla Pie
Cooking Light, 1995

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped seeded Anaheim chile or 1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups no-salt-added tomato juice
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans or other white beans, drained
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
Vegetable cooking spray
7 (8-inch) flour tortillas
Cilantro sprigs (optional)

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add red bell pepper and next 7 ingredients (red bell pepper through cumin); saute 5 minutes or until tender. Add tomato juice; cook 8 minutes or until reduced to 2 1/2 cups.

Combine black beans and half of tomato juice mixture in a bowl; stir well. Stir cannellini beans into remaining tomato juice mixture. Set both aside.

Combine cheeses in a bowl; toss well. Line a 9-inch pie plate with foil, allowing 6 inches of foil to extend over opposite edges of pie plate. Repeat procedure with another sheet of foil, extending foil over remaining edges of pie plate. Coat foil with cooking spray, and place 1 tortilla in bottom of dish. Spread 1 cup cannellini bean mixture over tortilla; sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheeses. Place 1 tortilla over cheeses, pressing gently. Spread 1 cup black bean mixture over tortilla; sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheeses. Place 1 tortilla over cheeses, pressing gently. Repeat layers, ending with the remaining cannellini bean mixture and cheeses.

Bring edges of foil to center; fold to seal. Bake at 325° for 40 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand, covered, 10 minutes.Remove foil packet from dish; unwrap pie, and slide onto serving plate using spatula. Cut into wedges; garnish with cilantro, if desired.

Yield: 8 servings

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sweet Corn Dutch Baby

Inspired by Denise, who recently told me about her ventures in making Dutch Babies, I decided to try this recipe that I've had for awhile. I've never made it because I never had a cast iron skillet, but now that I have one thanks to Steven, I can make it!

I came home with a wicked migraine and was ready to just head to Taco Bell - especially when I saw that the recipe required a food processor! And then after I decided to just go ahead and make it, I spilled powdered sugar all over the dining room. Way to go, me! But once I got myself together, it was ready to eat in 15 minutes. It comes out of the oven all puffy and sinks down within a minute or two, and because the skillet is seasoned it doesn't stick and comes right on out. We put some powdered sugar and cinnamon on ours, and had some apple sauce on the side. It was really good and we enjoyed it, but we probably won't make it again.

baby

Sweet Corn Dutch Baby
Cooking Light, August 2003

More like a pancake than a snack, this is a great option for a weekend brunch.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
3/4 cup fat-free milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup applesauce
1/4 cup light sour cream

Preheat oven to 450°.

Place a 9-inch cast-iron skillet in oven for 10 minutes.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, corn, milk, sugar, and salt in a food processor; process until smooth. Add eggs; pulse 5 times to combine.

Add butter to preheated pan, tipping to coat bottom and sides of pan. Pour corn mixture into pan. Bake at 450° for 14 minutes or until the mixture is set and lightly browned.

Sprinkle with the powdered sugar and the cinnamon. Cut into 4 wedges, and serve with applesauce and sour cream.

Yield: 4 servings

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Red Chile Brunch Enchiladas with Spicy Potatoes and Fried Eggs

Tonight's dinner was neat because I made the sauce and potatoes this morning (while baking the jalapeno bread), and then when we got home from Batman, all I had to do was cook the tortillas, put them and the potatoes in the onion, and fry the eggs. Voila! I like when parts can be made ahead because it makes dinner time much simpler.

As for the meal itself, while it was not spicy, it was definitely yummy and we both really liked it. It looked like something out of "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives" on the Food Network. We would definitely make this again. I may even make it for an actual breakfast sometime, so long as I do the sauce and potatoes ahead of time!

brunch

Red Chile Brunch Enchiladas with Spicy Potatoes and Fried Eggs (Almuerzo Enchilado)
Mexico: One Plate at a Time by Rick Bayless

Working ahead: The sauce can be made ahead (thin it with a little water if it has thickened to more than the consistency of canned tomato sauce), as can the fried-and-chilied potatoes. At the serving time, then, there's not much left besides rewarming the potatoes, searing the tortillas and frying the eggs.Who wants to do more than that on a weekend morning?

4 medium (2 oz total) dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
4 medium (1 oz total) dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
Salt
4 medium (1 lb total) boiling potatoes, scrubbed and cut into rough 1/2-inch cubes
About 6 Tbsp vegetable oil or rich-tasting pork lard
1 small white onion, chopped
8 corn tortillas
4 large eggs
2 loosely packed cups sliced (1/4-inch) frisee (aka curly endive) lettuce - or use romaine if you like it better
1 1/2 Tbsp vinegar (cider vinegar works nicely here)
1/3 cup grated Mexican queso anejo or other dry grating cheese, such as Romano or Parmesan

1. THE SAUCE. Heat a dry heavy skillet or griddle over medium. Tear the chiles into flat pieces, then toast them a few at a time: use a metal spatula to press the chile pieces flat against the hot surface, skin side up, until they are aromatic and have lightened in color underneath, about 10 seconds. (If the heat is right, you'll hear a slight crackle when you press them down, but you shouldn't see more than the slightest wisp of smoke). Place in a bowl, cover with 3 cups very hot tap water, lay a small plate on the chiles to keep them submerged and soak 20 minutes to rehydrate.

Use a pair of tongs to transfer the rehydrated chiles to a food processor or blender. Measure 1 1/2 cups of the soaking liquid and add it to the chiles along with the garlic. Blend to a smooth puree, then push through a medium-mesh strainer into a pie plate. The consistency should be like that of canned tomato sauce. Taste (the sauce will be a little rough on the tongue at this point) and season highly with salt, usually about 1/2 tsp.

2. THE POTATOES. Simmer the potatoes in salted water to cover until just barely tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.

In a large (12-inch) skillet (preferably nonstick), heat 2 Tbsp of the oil or lard over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring regularly, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and continue cooking, turning and scraping up any browned bits, until richly browned and crusty, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup of the sauce and cook for another 5 minutes, then remove from the heat.

3. THE ENCHILADAS. While the potatoes are cooking, make the enchiladas. Heat the oven to 350. Place the sauce and tortillas near the stove with a baking sheet beside them. Set a small (8-inch) skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium heat and add 1 Tbsp of the oil or lard. When the oil is very hot (just beginning to smoke), dip both sides of a tortilla into the sauce, then lay it in the oil. Let it sear and sizzle for about 20 seconds, then use a small spatula to flip it over. Sear the other side for another 20 seconds. Transfer to the baking sheet, laying it out flat. Adding additional oil to the skillet as needed, continue dipping and frying the remaining tortillas, wiping out the skillet occasionally. Lay the tortillas on the baking sheet in groups of two , about half overlapping each other.

Divide the potatoes among the chile-seared tortillas and place in the oven to warm, 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, wash and dry the large skillet and set over medium to medium-low heat. Add 1 Tbsp of the oil or lard. When warm (not too hot), crack in the eggs, cover the pan, and cook until as done as you like, about 3-4 minutes for set whites and slightly runny yolks.

While the eggs are cooking, in a small bowl, toss the lettuce with the vinegar and a good sprinkling of salt. Put an enchilada-potato stack on each of the four dinner plates and top with a fried egg, then a portion of the dressed lettuce and a generous sprinkling of the grated cheese. You've made your guests a brunch they'll never forget.

Yield: 4 servings

Cheddar Jalapeno Bread

Steven has been wanting some jalapeno cheese bread, and Gibby wanted me to make some this weekend, so I finally decided to make this recipe for Cheddar Jalapeno Bread again. It was easy because I mixed up the dough last night, popped it in the refrigerator overnight, and baked it this morning. It worked out really well and i just ate a piece and it is DELICIOUS. This is the best jalapeno bread ever. I hope Steven likes his piece.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Fruit Salad with Cannoli Cream

To go along with our Pan Bagnat, I threw together this fruit salad by Giada de Laurentiis. Unfortunately, my desire to make it lower in fat resulted in a watery sauce, because as much as we tried, light cream and part-skim ricotta just do not want to become creamy and cannoli-like. So I just drizzled it over the fruit. The whole thing was good, although the cinnamon was a little odd, but it was still yummy and went well with our sandwiches. I would not make it again though.

Fruit Salad with Cannoli Cream
Giada de Laurentiis

1/3 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup whipping cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
Pinch ground cinnamon
12 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled, quartered (about 2 1/2 cups)
1/2 dry pint fresh raspberries (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 kiwi, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted

Stir the ricotta and 2 tablespoons of cream in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 1/3 cup of cream, powdered sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl until semi-firm peaks form. Fold the ricotta into the whipped cream. Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to stiffen and yield a creamier filling. (Can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Toss the strawberries, raspberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a medium bowl to combine. Let stand until juices form, tossing occasionally, about 15 minutes. Add the kiwi.

Spoon the fruit mixture into 4 dessert bowls. Dollop the ricotta cream atop the fruit. Sprinkle with the almonds and serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Pan Bagnat

Tonight's dinner was made in advance because it has to sit for 2 hours, which is awesome because we had to take Emma to get her rabies shot and dinner was ready when we got back! The sandwich itself is very easy to throw together, so it makes a great make-ahead meal. And it is VERY yummy!!!! It's very similar to some other sandwiches I've made in the past (before my blog started?) but it's better. Even better than Martha Stewart's recipe. We would definitely make this again.

Oh notes: I used tapenade instead of kalamata olives, which was an excellent decision.

sandwich

Pan Bagnat
Good Eats with Alton Brown

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 baguette, approximately 16 to 18 inches long
12 ounces canned tuna packed in oil or water, drained and crumbled
1 small green pepper, sliced into rings
1 small red onion, sliced into rings
2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
1 cup chopped kalamata olives
1 tomato, thinly sliced

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. While continuing to whisk, gradually add the olive oil. Whisk until an emulsion forms. Set aside.

Slice the baguette horizontally into 2 pieces. Tear out some of the soft bread in the center of each side, making a slight well in the bread. Place the tuna, green pepper, red onion, hard-boiled eggs, olives, and tomato on the bottom side of the bread in that order. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the vegetables, top with the second piece of bread, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature for 2 hours before serving.

Cut into 4 sandwiches and serve.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Spicy Bean Soup

Because Tyson's doesn't participate with Fandango, even though we sent Steven to the theater to get our tickets over his lunch break, we did not get our tickets because they were sold out. No Batman tonight :( Instead we watched Lars & The Real Girl, which was quite good.

Since we weren't eating movie popcorn and candy, I made dinner. We made this soup from Giada de Laurentiis, which is kind of odd because it has Mexican flavors AND Italian flavors. It also has a huge list of ingredients. But it comes together quickly and is very easy to prepare. I mopped the whole house and scrubbed out puppy pee stains while the soup was simmering, so by dinner time we had a nice clean house. The soup, while a little confusing due to all the flavors, is very good. I don't think it's a make-again because there isn't anything super-special about it, but it is very yummy. I look forward to leftovers tomorrow!

soup

Spicy Bean Soup
Giada de Laurentiis

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper, optional
2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans diced tomatoes with juices
1 (11 1/2-ounce) can tomato juice
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 (3-inch) piece Parmesan cheese rind, optional
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
8 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 (15 1/2-ounce) cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup dried green lentils
3 cups broccoli florets
2 zucchini, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick rounds
2 yellow crookneck squash, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick rounds
1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves

Heat the oil in a heavy large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, carrot, bell pepper, and garlic, and saute until the onions are translucent, about 15 minutes. Add the chili powder, coriander, cumin, oregano and crushed red pepper, and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes with their juices, tomato juice, tomato paste, cheese rind, and 2 teaspoons of salt. Add the broth, garbanzo beans, cannellini beans, and lentils. Stir in the broccoli, zucchini, and yellow squash. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium. Simmer, uncovered, until the lentils are tender and the mixture thickens slightly, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Season the stew to taste with more salt, if desired.

Ladle the stew into bowls. Sprinkle with the shredded cheese and basil, and serve.

Yield: 10 servings

Kapow!

We're going to see Batman tonight, which I think is a very good reason not to make dinner.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Skillet Tofu Parmigiana

This keeps getting high reviews on the Cooking Light Boards so I decided to make it. I thought it was AWESOME. I love parmigianas (I loved chicken parm when I was not a vegetarian) and eggplant gets tiring. I never thought of doing it with tofu. So I thought it was delicious! He was not as impressed: the tofu was too thick, the marinara sauce wasn't as good as homemade, the mushrooms were "weird"... but oh well. He still ate it. I think it's great but we won't make it again since he doesn't like it. I'll keep the recipe though.

tofu

Skillet Tofu Parmigiana
Eating Well, Mar/Apr 2008

Even the tofu timid will be won over with this Italian-restaurant-style preparation. Serve with whole-wheat spaghetti and wilted spinach.

1/4 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 package firm or extra-firm water-packed tofu -- (14 ounce) rinsed
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil -- divided
1 small onion -- chopped
8 ounces white mushrooms -- thinly sliced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup prepared marinara sauce
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Combine breadcrumbs and Italian seasoning in a shallow dish. Cut tofu lengthwise into 4 steaks and pat dry. Sprinkle both sides of the tofu with garlic powder and salt and then dredge in the breadcrumb mixture.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until they release their juices and begin to brown, 4 minutes more. Transfer to a bowl.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan. Add the tofu steaks and cook until browned on one side, about 3 minutes. Turn over and sprinkle with Parmesan. Spoon the mushroom mixture over the tofu, pour marinara over the mushrooms and scatter mozzarella on top. Cover and cook until the sauce is hot and the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with basil and serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tijuana Torta

Today has been a ridiculously hectic day so it was great that I had planned for a super-easy, super-quick dinner. Popped some tater tots in the oven, and while we were vacuuming up messes and taking care of a sick dog and balancing checkbooks, I whipped together our dinner. It's really easy, but it's not exciting. I guess it's a trade-off. Dinner in 5 minutes worked for me tonight.

Please ignore the fact that I covered my tater tots in mayonnaise. I tried to crop it out of the picture (which we had to take with my camera since the battery died) but it's still there. I love mayonnaise.

tijuana

Tijuana Torta
Eating Well via Joe's Blog

15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons habanero and lime salsa (or use your favorite kind)
1 tablespoon chopped pickled jalapeño
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 ripe avocado, pitted
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 tablespoon lime juice
16" baguette
1 1/3 cups shredded romaine lettuce or green cabbage

In a medium bowl, mash together beans, salsa, jalapeño and cumin.

In a small bowl, mash together avocado, onion and lime juice.

Slice baguette into 4 equal lengths and split each piece in half horizontally. For easier stuffing, you can pull out most of the soft bread from the center, but this is not required.

Evenly divide the bean mixture, avocado mixture and romaine among the sandwiches to serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

I wanted to make this recipe about a month ago, but couldn't find any rhubarb. But then I had rhubarb and no strawberries. So this weekend I got some strawberries and today I whipped up this super-easy crisp from The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. I didn't actually get it from the cookbook; it must have been printed in a magazine or posted online, given the little recipe memo. It's very yummy and we had it with some ultra-sophisticated Cool Whip. I look forward to eating all of the leftovers!

crisp

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
This recipe is from Mollie Katzen's classic vegetarian cookbook The Moosewood Cookbook (one of the top 10 best-selling cookbooks of all time). This is an easy cobbler with a crunchy top. Mollie says you can reduce the amount of sugar, if you prefer your dessert tart. She also likes to serve this crisp a la mode, with vanilla ice cream.

2 lbs. fresh rhubarb cut into 1" chunks
3-4 C sliced strawberries
1/3 - 1/2 C white sugar
2-3 T brown sugar
1 C rolled oats
1 C flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
5 T melted butter

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine the rhubarb and strawberries in a 9" square pan. Sprinkle with white sugar. Mix together remaining ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Distribute over the top of the fruit and pat firmly into place.

Bake uncovered for 35 - 40 minutes or until the top is crisp and lightly browned and the fruit is bubbling around the edges.

Serve hot, warm or at room temperature, plain or a la mode.

Yield: 6 servings

Fettuccine Bolognese

Tonight we had Fettuccine Bolognese again. It's been awhile since the last time I made it. I am not sure why. It's probably one of my most-repeated recipes.

One time when I lived in Boston, Joy and her fiance, Eric, came over and I made them this meal for dinner. Except I didn't know when they would show up so I overcooked the pasta by like 15 minutes, so it was really mushy and bleh. I figured the sauce would make the pasta taste better, but it was just so mushy. I didn't mention it though. So now I would like to apologize to Joy and Eric, who I love, and tell them that this recipe does not usually taste so icky as the time I made it for them.

Photo since we've never uploaded one:
bolognese

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Chicken-Fried Portobello Mushrooms with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Tonight we made Chicken-Fried Portobello Mushrooms with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy. I have made this many times over the years - the first time was probably 2001 or 2002. I think it was 2001. It was one of the first things I cooked (with my mom's help) once I realized that I actually wanted to learn how to cook instead of just watching cooking shows on TV.

The brilliant thing about this recipe is that it really does replicate the Southern classic of chicken-fried steak (one of my favorites before I went vegetarian), just with a mushroom in place of the steak. I love it! I screwed it up tonight because I didn't cook them long enough, but that's ok. It was still good! Make sure you cook them long enough so they're cooked all the way through!

I also try so hard to lighten the recipe... I use significantly less butter, light cream (and less of it), and put less gravy on the plate than the recipe planned for. I think this works out well, except it does yield a thinner gravy than heavy cream would produce. So it's really up to you. Even with less butter and cream, the mashed potatoes are some of the best I've ever had.

mushroom

Friday, July 11, 2008

Chocolate Chip Waffles

I don't know if this is just an amazing recipe or if it was the novelty of getting to make big, fluffy waffles at home on our new waffle maker (thanks, Jer and Viv!), but these waffles were AWESOME. They are quick, easy to make, and would be excellent as a breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert! We would definitely make this again.

waffles

Chocolate Chip Waffles
Cooking Light

Cooking spray
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
1 large egg white
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate minichips

Coat a waffle iron with cooking spray, and preheat.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Place milk, butter, vanilla, and egg yolk in a bowl; stir with a whisk. Add to flour mixture, stirring until blended. Beat egg white and sugar with a mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold into flour mixture. Fold in minichips.

Spoon about 1/2 cup batter onto hot waffle iron, spreading batter to edges. Cook 3 to 5 minutes or until done; repeat procedure with remaining batter.

Yield: 6 servings
(NOTE: This means "6 waffles." So for people like us, it made two servings)

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Mixed Vegetable Curry (Sayur Kari)

In our adventure to try new cuisines, tonight we made something from Malaysia. It has a lot of Indian flavors (curry powder, tamarind paste) and south Asian flavors (lemongrass, lime, coconut milk), and some new stuff that we picked up at Penzeys but have never tried before (galangal). The meal itself is very easy to throw together. We couldn't find Thai chilies so we used some Sriracha, and we couldn't find kaffir lime leaves, so we squirted it with some lime juice. I also used mostly dried spices versus fresh.

It's really odd at first, because it has a spicy, sour flavor but also this weird sweetness. But then you get used to it and it's good. It's certainly not a make-again, but it wasn't bad and we had fun trying it.

malaysia

Mixed Vegetable Curry (Sayur Kari)
Cooking Light, March 2008

Combining Indonesian and Indian influences, this curry's distinctly Malaysian taste comes from the addition of galangal to build fragrant, balanced flavor. Use frozen kaffir lime leaves if fresh aren't available. Serve over long-grain rice.

Cooking spray
1/2 cup minced shallots (about 2 large)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped peeled fresh lemongrass (about 2 stalks)
2 tablespoons minced seeded red Thai chiles (about 2 chiles)
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh galangal
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 1/2 cups light coconut milk
1 cup (2-inch) cut green beans
1 cup organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)
3/4 cup (1/2-inch-thick) diagonally cut slices carrot
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons tamarind concentrate
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
18 fresh or frozen okra pods (about 8 ounces)
12 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and halved (about 4 ounces)
2 kaffir lime leaves, lightly crushed

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add shallots and garlic to pan, and cook for 3 minutes or until fragrant, stirring frequently. Add lemongrass, red Thai chiles, ginger, and galangal to pan; cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add curry powder to pan; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add coconut milk and remaining ingredients to pan; bring to a boil. Partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Uncover and simmer 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Discard lime leaves.

Yield: 4 servings

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Banh Mi Chay

Tonight we had our favorite Banh Mi Chay sandwiches again. These are so yummy, we love them!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Pasta with Roasted Vegetables and Peaches

This sounds kind of odd, but the peaches blend in with the vegetables really nicely. They taste really good when they are roasted. This pasta is pretty yummy, but the dressing is a little bit odd. We still liked it though. I probably wouldn't make it again unless I had a bounty of fresh peaches to use up.

peaches

Pasta with Roasted Vegetables and Peaches
Shape magazine

Cooking spray
12 oz spiral-shaped pasta
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
1 medium yellow squash, halved lengthwise
1 red bell pepper, seeded and quartered
1 peach, halved and pitted
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
Salt and ground black pepper
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
4 green onions

Dressing:
1/2 cup orange juice
1 Tbsp honey mustard
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
Salt and ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Preheat oven to 450°. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

Cook pasta. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, place zucchini, squash, bell pepper, and peach on prepared baking sheet, flesh-side up. Brush the tops with 1 Tbsp of the olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper. Place tomatoes and green onions on tray (do not baste). Roast 25 minutes, until all are tender and golden brown.

In a medium bowl, whisk together orange juice, honey msutard, balsamic vinegar, remaining tablespoon of olive oil and thyme. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Add mixture to pasta and toss to coat.

Chop roasted vegetables (except tomatoes) and peach into 1-inch pieces and add to pasta mixture. Add tomatoes and toss to combine. Fold in chopped basil. Serve warm or chilled.

Yield: 4 servings

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Rhubarb Custard Bars

I've been wanting to try rhubarb, but it has been elusive in our markets this summer. I finally found some a few weeks ago, so I rinsed it off, chopped it into pieces and froze it. Then I looked for a good recipe to make with it. This recipe has been reviewed highly all over the place so I decided to try it. It's similar to the Mandarin Cream Delight we love so much in that it has a shortbread base, a whipped cream topping, and a fruity middle, although these rhubarb bars are baked and the mandarin squares are not.

It was very easy and even looked pretty. I was afraid of the custard because sometimes custardy things taste too "eggy" to me, but it was perfect. We both really enjoyed these, and discovered we really enjoy rhubarb. We would make these again.

rhubarb

Rhubarb Custard Bars
Cooking Light, 5/02

Rhubarb, which looks like crimson celery, has a short season so stock up while you can. It freezes beautifully; just store the stalks in a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag. You can use fresh or frozen rhubarb for this recipe. We actually preferred unthawed frozen rhubarb.

Crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
Cooking spray

Filling:
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups 1% low-fat milk
3 large eggs
5 cups (1/2-inch) sliced fresh or frozen rhubarb (unthawed)

Topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (4 ounces) block-style fat-free cream cheese
1/2 cup (4 ounces) block-style 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed
Mint sprigs (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare crust, lightly spoon 1 1/2 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt in a bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Press mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

To prepare filling, lightly spoon 1/3 cup flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine 1/3 cup flour and 1 1/2 cups sugar in a large bowl; add milk and eggs, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Stir in rhubarb. Pour rhubarb mixture over crust. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until set. Cool to room temperature.

To prepare topping, place 1/2 cup sugar, cheeses, and vanilla in a bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Gently fold in whipped topping; spread evenly over baked custard. Cover and chill at least 1 hour. Garnish with mint sprigs, if desired.

Yield: 36 servings

Baked Risotto Primavera

This recipe was really easy, even though it cooks for almost an hour. It's beautiful and flavorful and healthy and delicious. One thing to be wary of is the lemon zest - a little goes a VERY long way. I'd err on the side of too little rather than adding too much because it can be a little overpowering.

Other than that, this was amazing. We made it in our new Le Creuset braising pot and it turned out beautifully. I have some left over for lunch tomorrow and I am very excited. We would make this again (just with a tad less lemon!).

risotto

risotto

Baked Risotto Primavera
Eating Well, Spring 2004

This updated spring classic calls for nutty-tasting short-grain brown rice instead of the traditional white arborio. Because the cooking time is longer with whole-grain rice, this risotto is cooked in the oven rather than on the stovetop, eliminating the need for almost constant stirring.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup short- or medium-grain brown rice (see Ingredient note)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 14 1/2-ounce cans reduced-sodium chicken broth or 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
8 ounces asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces (2 cups)
1 cup sugar snap peas or snow peas, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup diced red bell pepper (1 medium)
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese (3 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1-2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
Freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or ovenproof high sided skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in rice and garlic; cook, stirring, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in wine and simmer until it has mostly evaporated. Add broth and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and transfer to the oven.

3. Bake until the rice is just tender, 50 minutes to 1 hour.

4. Shortly before the risotto is done, steam asparagus, peas and bell pepper until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes.

5. Fold the steamed vegetables, Parmesan, parsley, chives, lemon zest and pepper into the risotto. Serve immediately.

Yield: 6 servings

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Oven-Fried Tilapia Sandwiches

This recipe actually uses catfish, but I hate catfish so we substituted tilapia as per the suggestion that came with the recipe. It is very similar to the Crispy Tilapia Sandwiches we made a little while ago, but it has some spicy elements so I figured it would be different. Turns out, not so much. It isn't really flavorful and the coating isn't as crispy as I would have liked. We enjoyed the previous tilapia sandwiches much more. We will not make this again.

A Note About Photos: I'm changing servers with my webhost, so if the pictures are down for awhile, that is why. They will be back.

fish

Oven-Fried Catfish Sandwiches
Cooking Light, 4/08

You can substitute tilapia for the catfish, if desired, though check for doneness a few minutes earlier because tilapia fillets are usually thinner.

1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
2 teaspoons capers, chopped
3/8 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
4 (4-ounce) catfish fillets
Cooking spray
4 (2-ounce) hoagie rolls, toasted
1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices red onion
8 (1/4-inch-thick) slices tomato

1. Preheat oven to 450°. Place baking sheet in oven.

2. Combine mayonnaise, relish, capers, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and pepper sauce in a small bowl, stirring well. Set aside.

3. Combine flour, paprika, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Place egg whites in a shallow bowl. Combine cornmeal, remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder in a shallow dish. Working with 1 fillet at a time, dredge in flour. Dip in egg whites; dredge in cornmeal mixture. Place fillet on a plate; repeat procedure with remaining fillets, flour, egg whites, and cornmeal mixture.

4. Transfer fillets to preheated baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat fillets with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 6 minutes. Turn fillets and coat with cooking spray; bake an additional 6 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness.

5. Place 1 bottom half of roll on each of 4 plates. Top each serving with 1/4 cup lettuce, 1 fillet, 2 tomato slices, and 1 onion slice. Spread 4 teaspoons mayonnaise mixture on cut side of each roll top; place on top of sandwiches. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Hot Chili Pasta

This recipe comes from a pasta cookbook I got off of Freecycle, aptly titled Pasta by Susanna Tee. It is really yummy - though not very spicy to us, even though we used two (TWO!!) habaneros. We're pathetic. We've really ruined our sense of spicy. But anyway so it was yummy but it was not quite worth the effort. Not that the recipe is particularly time-consuming, but pulling out the mini food-processor and simmering tomatoes for 20 minutes is a little more than I think it's worth. We might make it again though, since it really is very yummy.

pasta

Hot Chili Pasta
Pasta by Susanna Tee, 2005, page 54

2/3 cup dry white wine
1 Tbsp sun-dried tomato paste
2 fresh red chilies
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
12 oz dried tortiglioni
4 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper
Fresh romano cheese shavings, to garnish

Sugocasa:
5 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb plum tomatoes, chopped
Salt & pepper

First make the sugocasa. Heat the olive oil in a skillet until it is almost smoking. Add the tomatoes and cook over high heat for 2-3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook gently for 20 minutes, or until very soft. Season with salt and pepper, then pass through a food mill or blender into a clean pan.

Add the wine, sun-dried tomato paste, whole chilies, and garlic to the sugocasa and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, return to a boil, and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until tender but still firm to the bite.

Meanwhile, remove the chilies and taste the sauce. If you prefer a hotter flavor, chop some or all of the chilies and return them to the pan. Check the seasoning at the same time, then stir in half the parsley.

Drain the pasta and tip it into a warmed serving bowl. Add the sauce and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley, garnish with the romano shavings, and serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Cheesy Broccoli Potato Soup

Tonight we made Cheesy Broccoli Potato Soup, using my suggestions from last time I made it (cooking it at a higher temperature). I also used skin-on red potatoes, which I thought was a nice change. We have taught our new puppy, Emma, to eat her dinner while we eat ours, so dinner time was nice tonight.

Here is a photo, since we didn't take one before:
soup

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Tacos de Calabacitas a la Mexicana

I picked up some dried epazote last time I was at Penzey's, so I was excited to try it out in this recipe from Rick Bayless's Mexico: One Plate at a Time cookbook. The recipe is very simple but seems adventurous because I've never cooked with epazote or queso fresco (we used queso blanco). But it was tasty and delicious. We hated it as a taco! Neither of us really like corn tortillas! So I busted out the tortilla chips and we scooped it up with chips, and that was delicious. I don't know if we'll make it again, but if we do, it will be with chips.

Oh also instead of broiling the poblano, I torched it with my creme brulee torch. Roasted the pepper in less than two minutes!

calabacitas

Tacos de Calabacitas a la Mexicana
(Mexican-Style Zucchini Tacos)
from Rick Bayless

1 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 lb (2 medium-large round or 6-8 plum) ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped OR 2/3 of a 28 oz can good-quality whole tomatoes in juice, drained
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 large fresh poblano chiles
1 large ear corn, husked and kernels cut off (about 1 cup)
4 medium (about 1 1/2 lbs total) zucchini - or use the Mexican round or teardrop-shaped light green calabacitas - trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 5 cups cubes)
Leaves from 1 sprig fresh epazote, roughly chopped OR 3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2/3 cup homemade crema, creme fraiche, or heavy whipped cream
Salt
1/2 cup (about 2 oz) crumbled Mexican queso fresco or other crumbly fresh cheese, such as salted pressed farmer's cheese or feta
24 warm, fresh corn tortillas

1. Preparing the flavoring base. Measure the oil into a large (12-inch) skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until richly browned, about 8 minutes. While the onion is cooking, coarsely puree the tomatoes in a food processor or blender. Add the garlic to the browned onion and cook for 1 minute, stirring, then add the tomatoes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

2. Roasting the chiles. Roast the poblanos directly over a gas flame or on a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler, turning regularly, until the skin has blistered and blackened on all sides, about 5 minutes for an open flame, about 10 minutes for the broiler. Cover with a kitchen towel and let stand for 5 minutes. Rub off the blackened skin, then pull out the stems and seed pods. Rinse briefly to remove any stray seeds and bits of skin. Slice into 1/4-inch strips.

3. Finishing the dish. Uncover the skillet and set over medium-high heat. Stir in the poblanos, corn, zucchini, epazote or cilantro and the crema (or one of its stand-ins). Cook, stirring frequently, until the zucchini is crisp-tender and the liquid has thickened enough to coat the vegetables nicely, about 8 minutes. Taste and season with salt, usually about 1 tsp. Serve in a decorative bowl, sprinkled with the crumbled cheese, and pass the hot tortillas separately for do-it-yourself tacos.

Working ahead: If you find it helpful, the dish can be prepared a day ahead through step 2; refrigerate the flavoring base and chiles separately, well covered. Return the mixture to the skillet and finish step 3 just before serving.

Yield: 6 servings