Friday, March 30, 2007

Pizza Rustica All’Inglese

This is a bit of a cheat, as I've done a very similiar pie to this one before, but the filling in this one was so good, I had to share.

200g lean pork
200g streaky bacon (aprox 150g de-rinded)
125g mild cheddar
100g Lancashire cheese
250g cottage cheese, drained in a sieve and processed
2 big or 4 small spring onions
1 clove garlic
2tbsp chopped parsley
2 eggs, lightly beaten
freshly ground black pepper
1 heaped tbsp dried breadcrumbs

using the pastry dough here

Mince the pork and de-rind the bacon in a food processor. Render the fat from the bacon, or just use oil, and fry the minced pork and bacon for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool slightly, then add all the other ingredients except the breadcrumbs.
Preheat to 200c/400f, and put in a baking sheet. Roll out the larger disc of pastry to cove the bottom and sides with a few cm of overhang. Sprinkle the bottom with breadcrumbs, then fill with the mixture. Roll out the rest of the dough to make a lid. Fold the overhang over and seal by pressing down with the tines of a fork. Just before baking glaze the pie with the milk salt egg combo, and stab it here and there with the prongs of a fork to make steam holes.
Bake at 200c/400f for 10 minutes, then turn it sown to 180c/350f and bake for a further 45 minutes. Leave the pie to cool at least 10 minutes, but 25 is better.

This is a Nigella Lawson recipe from "How to be a Domestic Goddess". This pie filling is so good! Bacon and cheese and more cheese and then some parsley and spring onions to mislead you into thinking that it's actually kind of light. I loved it. Nigella can do no wrong. I bet this one would be really good cold at a picnic too.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Mexican Empanadas

Salty/Sweet and wrapped in dough. What could possibly be bad?

250g/8oz Flour
1/4 tsp salt
6tbsp lard, diced (I used Trex (Crisco) instead)
4tbsp butter
6-8tbsp iced water
beaten egg for glaze
sesame seeds

for the filling:
1&1/2 tbsp oil
75g/3oz chopped onion
1 garlic clove, crushed
250g/8oz Pork fillet, diced (I used mince)
175g/6oz, firmly packed grated sweet potato
4 juicy prunes, stoned
125ml/4oz unsweetened pineapple juice
1tbsp tomato paste
2tsp chili powder

Heat the oil and sauté the onion and garlic till soft. Add pork and cook stirring till it is lightly browned, add in all the other filling ingredients and continue cooking till the excess liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and cool.

Put the flour salt and fats in the food processor, and process till it resembles bread crumbs. Add enough iced water to make a soft dough, shape into a ball and chill for 20-30 minutes.

Divide the dough into 8 equal parts and roll them out to 6 inch rounds. Put one eighth of the filling in each one, dampen the edges and fold over to make half moon shapes. Press the edges and crimp with a fork. Place on a greased sheet, brush with beaten egg, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake at 190c/375f for 35-40 minutes

Another from the book "Essential Mexican Cookery", which I found at a car boot sale (yard sale) for about 50 cents. This was the best 50 cents I think I ever spent.

This is very different from the Spanish Empanada that I made some weeks ago. That one was one massive pie, where as these are nice small individual ones (kids love small individual anything). Also this was a much more simple pastry dough, and obviously a very different kind of filling. This one was so super easy to make, and in the end, my husband said he liked it better.

I have to admit, it was totally spot on (though I still love the Spanish one too). The filling had the salty sweet combo that I am so fond of. The pineapple juice and sweet potato were well balanced by the chili powder. It had the nicest kick to it. The sesame seeds too, really good touch, don’t skip them.

These are also a fun group cooking activity. Unfortunately my son was in the throws of a tantrum at the time, so he missed out on helping, but my mom (who is here visiting right now) made some very nice ones!

Super fun, extra good, all around fabulous recipe!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


1/2tsp black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick (about 3 inches)
6 whole cloves
6 whole cardamom pods
1 piece fresh ginger (2inches), unpeeled and thinly sliced
Zest of 1 orange, removed in wide strips
4 bags of black tea, such as Darjeeling, Orange Pekoe, or English Breakfast
1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar

Crush all the spices (not the zest).
Put the crushed spices and the zest in a pan with 3 cups of water, bring to a boil and reduce the heat and let simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the tea bags, let steep for 5 minutes.
Discard the tea bags, add the milk and sugar and bring to a simmer, stirring till the sugar dissolves. Strain and discard the solids, serve hot.

I used to get this at cafés in Brooklyn all the time, but I had never made it myself. This was so much better then the kind I used to get. The fresh ginger gave it this amazing bite, and the sugar sweetness made me want to just curl up and take a nap. I think this is a perfect drink for that one quiet moment amid the chaos.

I’m going to make this again, no question.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Gratin of Rigatoni with Roasted Vegetables

6oz/175g rigatoni
1heaped tsp grated parmesan, for the topping

For the roasted veg:
2 medium courgettes
1 small aubergine
1lb/450g tomatoes, skinned
1 medium onion, peeled
1 small red pepper, deseeded
1 small yellow pepper, deseeded
3tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
2oz/50g pitted black olives, chopped
1 heaped tsp capers
2oz/50g mozzarella, grated
Salt and pepper

For the cheese sauce:
1pint/570ml milk
1&1/2oz/40g plain flour
1&1/2oz/40g butter
pinch cayenne pepper
2oz/50g parmesan, finely grated
a little freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper

Start preparing the courgettes and aubergine an hour ahead of time. Chop them into 1&1/2 inch/4cm chunks, leaving the skins on, and layer them in a colander with a sprinkling of salt between each layer. The put a plate on top of it and weigh it down with something heavy to draw out moisture. After and hour, squeeze, and dry them in a tea cloth.
Preheat the oven to 475f/240c
Now quarter the tomatoes and chop the onions and peppers into 1&1/2 inch chunks. Next arrange all the veg on a baking tray. Sprinkle with olive oil and chopped garlic. Give everything a good mix to coat and spread out as much as possible. Season with salt and pepper and roast on a high shelf 30-40 minutes, till browned and charred at the edges.

Make the cheese sauce- place the milk flour butter and cayenne into a medium saucepan and place it over a gentle heat. Using a balloon whisk, begin to whisk while bringing it to a gentle simmer. Whisk continually till you have a smooth glossy sauce, and simmer very gently for 5 minutes. Add the parmesan and whisk again allowing it to melt. Season with salt and pepper and some freshly ground nutmeg.

Meanwhile, when the veg are about 5 min from being ready, cook the pasta for exactly 6 minutes-no longer. Drain the pasta, and in a large bowl combine with roasted veg, olives capers and cheese sauce. Turn the oven down to 400f/200c. Layer the mixture into a gratin dish, a third at a time, sprinkling the mozzarella over each layer, and finishing with mozzarella. Sprinkle with parmesan and bake another 6 minutes (if you make it ahead of time it will need 35-40 minutes)

So as some of you know my mom is out here visiting right now, and she picked this one out. I'm really glad she did too, because I had noticed it before in my Delia Smith Vegetarian cookbook, but I was still kind of on the fence about it.

It was a great choice. It came out so well. There is not too much pasta, so it still feels more like a vegetable dish with pasta, as opposed to a pasta dish with vegetables. Also, the sauce, although it's a cheese sauce tastes really light. Maybe it's because it doesn't have tons of cheese, or maybe it's the nutmeg, but it was surprising. The vegetables were gorgeous. Even the ones that look slightly burned (it's a really hot oven), were actually flavorful and lovely.

This was really great! Thanks mom!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Chinese Vegetable Dumplings

I have always loved chinese dumplings, and I always assumed that they were incredably difficult and time consuming to make, because how could something so delicious be easy? I was so wrong. Not only are they easy, they are fun too!

For the dough:
• 2 cups all purpose flour
• 1 cup boiling water
In a bowl, mix the flour and 1 cup boiling water until a soft dough forms.
Knead the dough on a lightly flour surface about 5 minutes, or until smooth.

Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a roll 12 inches long and cut each roll into 1/2-inch slices.

Roll 1 slice of dough into a 3-inch circle and place 1 tablespoon pork mixture in the center of the circle. Lift up the edges of the circle and pinch 5 pleats up to create a pouch to encase the mixture. Pinch the top together. Repeat with the remaining slices of dough and filling.

For the filling:
• 1/2 pound firm tofu
• 1/2 cup finely shredded carrot
• 1/2 cup finely chopped bok choy
• 1/4 cup finely chopped water chestnuts
• 1/4 cup finely chopped bamboo shoots
• 1/4 cup finely chopped garlic chives
• 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
• 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
• 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 package potsticker or gyoza wrappers
• 2 tablespoons oil for frying the dumplings
Drain the tofu, cut into cubes and mash. Wash and prepare the vegetables. Combine the tofu with the remainder of the ingredients and seasonings.

Lay out one of the gyoza wrappers in front of you.
Dip your finger in the water and moisten the edges of the wrapper.

Place a heaping teaspoon of filling in the middle of the wrapper.

Fold the gyoza wrapper over the filling and pinch the edges to seal it shut. (You may want to use a cornstarch/water mixture to make this easier).

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet or wok.When oil is ready, carefully add the dumplings and cook on high heat until golden brown (about 1 minute). Without turning the dumplings over, add 1/2 cup of water and cover. Cook for about 1 minute to cook the raw filling and then uncover and continue cooking until most of the liquid is absorbed.

Serve the potstickers with the burnt side on top, with potsticker dipping sauce or soy sauce mixed with minced ginger for dipping.

I wanted to make vegetable dumplings, but I also wanted to make the dough myself, so what I have listed here is two recipes, both from One is for Veg dumplings using premade wrappers, and one is the dough from some meat dumplings.

These were so much fun to make!

I had always thought that flour and water alone would just make glue, but it turns out it makes a really good dumpling dough. It was really easy to make and really easy to roll too. Next time I make them I will probably roll them slightly thinner, but then again, maybe not.

The filling was great. I couldn't get the right kind of tofu, so I skipped it, but it was fine without it. Really crispy and dumpling-y.

The method of cooking was interesting, and they looked cool in the pan. All in all there is nothing bad to say about this recipe. I love it!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Chocolate Guinness Cake

Oh my god. You have no idea. This is the best cake! There was a thing I said about some pork chops that I made, how I would never need to try another way because I had found the absolute best recipe. Well, this is my chocolate cake. I will never need to bother with another chocolate cake again. It can get no better then this.

For the cake:
250ml Guinness
250g unsalted butter
75g cocoa
400g caster sugar
142ml pot of sour cream
2 eggs
1tbsp vanilla extract
275g plain flour
2&1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For topping
300g Philadelphia Cream cheese
150g icing sugar (powdered)
125ml double or whipping cream

Preheat to 180c/350f

Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter in spoons or slices, and heat until the butter is melted, at which time you should whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla, and pour into the Guinness mixture, and finally whisk in the flour and bicarb.
Pour the batter into a greased and lined tin and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Leave to cool completely on a cooling rack, as it’s quite a damp cake.
When the cake is cold, make the icing. Whip the cream cheese until smooth, sieve over the icing sugar then beat them both together. Or do this in a food processor, putting the unsieved sugar in first and blitzing to remove any lumps before adding the cream cheese. Add the cream and beat again until it is a spreadable consistency. Ice the top of the cake so that it looks like a frothy pint.

On St. Patrick’s day we bought some Guinness to have with our Dinner, and we didn’t finish it, so in looking for something to do with it, I found this recipe in the Nigella Lawson book “Feast”. One thing I should mention is that when you are making the frosting be sure to add the cream a little at a time. You may not need all of it. I added mine all at once and had to adjust because it was way too runny.

You don’t actually taste the Guiness, but it adds a heartiness to the cake that is kind of hard to describe. It’s like it makes it substantial as opposed to just sweet. That plus the contrast of the cream cheese frosting make this the kind of cake that you could just keep eating and eating. Also, it’s fun to melt butter in beer.

Many people will be fed this cake. That will be my mission.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Devilled Drumsticks with Cucumber salad

We picked my mom up from the airport today. We’re all really excited about it, this is her first time visiting us out here.This recipe was chosen for it’s ease of preparation, as there was quite enough excitement for the day.

12 chicken drumsticks
2tbsp sesame seeds

2tbsp olive oil
2tbsp White wine vinegar
1tbsp Dijon mustard
1 small onion, quartered
2tbsp dark brown sugar
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
1/4 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper

Put all the coating ingredients into the food processor, and puree until fairly smooth. Make 3 deep cuts in each drumstick, arrange in a single layer, in a shallow oven proof dish, spoon the coating over them, then sprinkle with half the sesame seeds.
Roast at 190c/375f for 30 min, or until they are cooked through. Halfway through, turn and baste and sprinkle with the remaining sesame seeds.

From Mary Berry’s Complete cookbook

Classic Cucumber salad
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1 hothouse (seedless English) cucumber, unpeeled, cut into 1/8 inch think slices
1/2 red onion, cut in half through the stem, then sliced very thin.

Mix the sugar salt and vinegar till it has all dissolved. Throw in the cucumber and onion and toss to coat.

From Food to Live By

I made this with the Twice Baked Potatoes because you can make them a day in advance.

It was a really quick and easy dinner. I barely had to be in the kitchen. The potatoes were great, and the cucumber was really perfect. So simple, so good, even the boys ate theirs.

The chicken was alright. I have to admit that I didn’t love it. It was very subtly flavored considering the ingredient list, and the sesame seeds were a really good touch. Still, I found them under whelming.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Mushroom Gougere

Kind of weird looking, kind of not great, but the pastry was oh so much fun.

115g/4oz flour
2.5ml/1/2tsp salt
75g/3oz/6tbsp butter
200ml/7oz cup cold water
3 eggs, beaten
75g/3oz diced gruyere or mature Gouda cheese

1 small onion, sliced
1 carrot coarsely grated
225g/8oz mushrooms, sliced
40g/3tbs butter
5ml/1tsp tikka or mild curry paste
25g/1oz/2tbsp flour
300ml/1&1/4 cup milk
30ml/2tbsp fresh parsley
Salt and pepper
30ml/2tbsp flaked almonds

Preheat to 200c/400f, and grease a 9 inch pan

Sift the flour and salt unto a piece of greaseproof paper.
In a large pan heat the butter and water till the butter just melts, but do not let the water boil. Fold the paper and shoot all the flour in at once. With a wooden spoon beat the mixture rapidly until the lumps become smooth. Let cool for 10 minutes.

Beat the eggs gradually into the mixture until you have a soft, but still quite stiff consistency, you may not need all the egg.

Stir in the cheese, then spoon the mixture round the sides of the dish, put aside.

To make the filling:
Saute the vegetables in butter for 5 minutes. Stir in the curry paste and the flour. Gradually stir in the milk and heat until thickened. Mix in the parsley, season well then pour into the center of the pastry.
Bake 35-40 minutes, sprinkling on the almonds for the last 5 minutes or so.

This was really not great. I found that the filling was kind of generic, like it didn’t really know what it wanted to be. The pastry on the other hand, was gorgeous. It’s the first time I’ve made this kind. If you are out here then I could tell you that it’s probably the way they make Yorkshire puddings (or at least similar). If you are in the States, I don’t know what I could compare it to. Something to note, when it is raw it will just be the thinnest strip of dough, but when you put it in the oven, it totally explodes into this big puffy pillow of pastry. So Much Fun.

Don’t bother with this one though, I will find something better to do with that dough.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Chorizo and Chickpea stew w/Meatballs

Not the best picture, sorry, it looks better in person.

Chickpea stew
For the chickpeas:
1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
1 bay leaf
6oz chorizo

For the meatballs:
2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
10 oz ground pork
1/4 cup grated onion
1 small egg, lightly beaten
1tsp coarse salt
1/2tsp fresh ground pepper
olive oil

For finishing the stew:
2tbsp olive oil
1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
1 medium sized carrot, finely diced
4 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
1tsp sweet smoked paprika
3tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley
Coarse salt

Put the chickpeas in a pot, and add cold water to cover by 2 inches, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the bay leaf and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for an hour replenishing the water when necessary.

After an hour, cook the chorizo in boiling water for 2 minutes, and drain it. Add to the chickpeas and continue to cook for a half hour, till the chickpeas are tender, but still al dente, adding more water to maintain the liquid level.

Meanwhile, place the bread in a small bowl, add cold water to cover and let soak for 5 minutes. Drain and squeeze out the excess liquid, then finely crumble the bread. Place the bread, pork, onion, egg, salt and pepper in a bowl. Gently knead with your hands till combined. If the mixture is too moist to form into meatballs, refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Preheat to 425f

Shape the mixture into meatballs about the size of cherry tomatoes. Arrange on a baking sheet, and bake, shaking the pan once or twice, till they are lightly browned and firm to the touch, about 12 minutes. Set aside.

To finish the stew, Heat the olive oil, add onion, carrot, and half the garlic. Cook till soft, but not browned, about 5 min. Add tomatoes cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the paprika, stir, then stir the mixture into the chickpeas. Cook the stew 15-20 minutes longer till the chickpeas are very tender.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer chorizo to a cutting board, and cut it into 1/2 inch slices, return it to the pot, gently stir in the meatballs, and simmer for 5 more minutes.

Place the garlic, parsley and a pinch of salt in a mortar and mash into a paste, stir into the stew and let it cook 5 more minutes.

This whole process took 2 hours exactly, I know because I got home a little later then I was planning, but made it to the table before it was too late for the boys.

I made one adjustment because I didn't have any slices of white bread in the house, so I used oatmeal instead (thanks for the tip Anthony!) It worked really well. The meatballs came out really light and fluffy.

As with the Albondigas soup I made last week, the boys loved the tiny meatballs, they were just the right size for tiny hands. My husband and I really liked this one too. There were no left-overs.

This one was from The New Spanish Table

Monday, March 19, 2007

Crab Meat Enchiladas and Guacamole

2 large ripe avocados
3tbsp lemon or lime juice
2 garlic cloves crushed
40g/1.5oz chopped spring onions
1-2 tbsp chopped mild green chilies, or jalapenos
2tbsp chopped fresh coriander
salt and black pepper
125g/4oz Skinned, seeded and chopped tomatoes

Cut the avocados in half and carefully remove the peel and stones. Scoop out the flesh and sprinkle with a little of the lemon or lime juice to stop it from discoloring.
Coarsely mash the avocado with the remaining lemon or lime juice. Add everything else and mix well, then cover and leave in the fridge for at least an hour.

Enchiladas De Jaiba (crab stuffed tortillas)
Oil for shallow frying
12 soft corn tortillas
450ml/3/4 pint red chili sauce (recipe below)
500g/1lb crab meat
250g/8oz grated cheddar cheese
125g/4oz diced mozzarella cheese
1 small red onion, finely chopped
3tbsp chopped fresh coriander

Heat the oil in a large shallow pan and shallow fry the tortillas one at a time over moderate heat for a few seconds until they become limp. Do not overcook them or they will crisp. (I actually skipped this part)
Pat tortillas with absorbent paper towels, then spread each one with some chili sauce (below). Put some crab meat down the middle of the tortilla. Sprinkle some of the cheeses on top (making sure you are reserving some for the top). Add some chopped red onion, roll up the tortillas and place them in a buttered oven proof dish.

Pour the remaining sauce over the top, then sprinkle over with the remaining cheese and bake at 200c/400f for 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve with sour cream and guacamole

Salsa Roja (red chili sauce)
5 small dried chilies, crumbled
3tbsp boiling water
425g/14oz canned chopped tomatoes
4tbsp oil
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp ground cumin
1tsp ground coriander
1.5 tbsp wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
Place chilies and boiling water in a food processor. Drain the tomatoes, reserving the juice. Add the chopped tomatoes to the processor and blend until smooth. Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the onion and garlic until soft. Stir in all other ingredients and simmer, covered for 10 minutes.

These are from a book called Essential Mexican Cookery. It doesn’t seem to have an author, but it is published by Chancellor Press. I found this book at a car boot sale (like a yard sale), for 50p. Excellent! It has already earned back it’s price and then some.

These were really good, and also really easy to make. I didn’t fry the tortillas, and I really don’t think they were any worse off for it. I also made the last two with just cheese, no crab no onion for the boys. My older son, who is going through a seriously picky eating phase, ate his whole plate, and tried to wrestle away his brothers too. That is really saying a lot.

The Guacamole was really good too. This one is a definite keeper, and I’m absolutely going to try more stuff from this book.

Peanut Brittle and Pumpkin Seed Brittle

Today is another holiday. It is called Chaitra, from what I understand it is the beginning of the Hindu New Year, and also the beginning of spring. This is often celebrated by sharing greetings and sweets, so in honor of…

Peanut Brittle
Corn oil for oiling the baking sheet
3 cups salted dry roasted peanuts
4 cups sugar
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
2tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Oil a 1 inch rimmed baking sheet with the oil, and oil a spatula and set aside.
Scatter the peanuts over the baking sheet.
Combine the sugar with 1/2 cup cold water and the cream of tartar and cook over a low heat stirring to combine, about 5 minutes. Raise the heat to medium high, and bring to a boil. Cook without stirring until the mixture turns a color between butterscotch and caramel (about 10 minutes). While it is cooking use a pastry brush dipped in warm water to wash down the sugar crystals on the side of the pan.
Remove from heat and immediately stir in the butter. BE CAREFUL, it may foam up a bit, and it can splatter.
Immediately pour the mixture over the peanuts using the oiled spatula to smooth the mixture. Let it cool completely for about an hour before breaking it up into chunks and keep stored in an airtight container for up to a week.

This is from a book called Celebrate! It is a really neat book because it's all menus to celebrate all different events. It has all the big holidays, plus it’s got things like, a dinner to celebrate when you get a promotion, or graduation. It’s great fun and I think I am going to use it for Easter.

This next one is from a Nigella Lawson book called Feast. Anyone who has been reading knows how I feel about Nigella. I turn to her often.

Pumpkin seed brittle
250g caster sugar
125ml water
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
125g green pumpkin seeds

Cover a baking sheet with baking paper, or foil that has been oiled
Dissolve the sugar and cream of tartar in the water over a low heat. Turn the heat up and bring the mixture to a boil without stirring. Boil over a fairly high heat about 10 minutes until it turns a deep golden amber color. Quickly tip the seeds in and swirl the pan so that they are all coated. Take it off the heat and pour immediately onto the baking sheet, smoothing it out if necessary, but do it fast before it starts to harden.
Let it cool completely before breaking it up into chunks.

Both of these, SO GOOD. I prefer the peanut, but then they are salted and I am a sucker for the salty/sweet thing.

It was cool to make too because it was just clear and boiling and boiling and boiling, then all of a sudden, there was this one little yellow spot in the corner, then it spread really fast until it was suddenly done.

This was fun and the result is tasty so Happy Chaitra!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Bacon and Cabbage with boiled New Potatoes

My husband and I lived in Ireland for a year, and while we were there, this was my all time favorite Irish food.

I came to understand that saying that is the cultural equivilant of saying that Macaroni and Cheese is your all time favorite food, but then, I like that too.

By the way, if you like Mac and Cheese and you haven't tried CookBad's Shockingly Good Mac and Cheese, you really need to right now.

This recipe is from It was slightly different then the other ones that I saw, because instead of using a side of bacon, it used a pork shoulder that soaks in brine for a day. I have recently found out that I love meat soaked in brine, so I thought I'd give it a try.

1 gallon water
3 cups coarse kosher salt
1 6 1/2-pound bone-in pork shoulder roast (Boston butt), excess fat trimmed
3 large heads of garlic, halved crosswise
1 1/2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
1 large head of green cabbage, cut into 6 wedges
1 pound carrots, peeled, cut crosswise in half, then quartered lengthwise
Fresh thyme sprigs
Spicy mustard

Combine 1 gallon of water and salt in heavy large pot. Stir until salt dissolves. Add pork. Cover and refrigerate 1 day.
Bring pork in salt water to boil. Boil 10 minutes. Carefully drain salt water. Fill pot with enough cold water to cover pork. Bring water to boil over high heat. Add garlic and peppercorns. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover; simmer gently until pork is very tender, about 3 hours. Transfer pork to large pan. Cover; keep warm.
Add cabbage and carrots to cooking liquid. Boil until vegetables are almost tender, about 15 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Before continuing, rewarm over medium-low heat.) Using slotted spoon, transfer vegetables and garlic to serving platter.
Cut pork into thick slices; arrange on platter with vegetables. Spoon some hot cooking liquid over pork and vegetables. Garnish with thyme. Serve with mustard.

We hadthis with a glass of Guiness to make it that much more authentic and it was a perfect way to celebrate St Patrick's Day.

I cannot say enough good things about this recipe. The pork came out so tender that it fell apart while I was cutting it, and the veg were very mildly flavored by the cooking water (mmmm... hot ham water). The potatoes were just boiled and then slathered with butter, salt pepper and parsley.

I don't think I'm going to be able to wait till next St. Patrick's day to have this again.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Turkish Baked Pasta with Cheese

From Arabesque

500ml milk
4 eggs
200g feta cheese, mashed with a fork
300g dry Tagliatelle nests

Bring the milk to a boil. Lightly beat the eggs in a bowl, then beat in the milk, and add the feta and some salt.

Crush the tagliatelle nests into small pieces in your hands and throw into boiling, salted water, and cook till al dente (5-8 minutes). Drain and turn into a greased baking dish. Pour the milk mixture over the top and mix well.

Bake at 180c/350f for 45-60 minutes, until the mixture has set.

This was a really simple dish to make (though not exactly fast), and it was so comforting. It reminded me of the noodle kugel that my grandmother used to eat, only not sweet. For those of you who don’t know Kugel, this recipe is like a pasta custard cake, but savory, not sweet. How cool is that?

I loved it, and chances are, there will be some Kugel coming soon too.

Potato and cheese picnic thingees

For this, I modified a recipe that I have used in the past.

This is the original recipe.
Potato Biscuits
115g/4oz butter
115g/4oz mashed potatoes
150g/5oz flour
1 egg, beaten
Caraway seeds, sesame seeds, parmesan cheese.

preheat to 220c/425f
Put butter, mashed potato, and flour in a bowl, season with salt, and mix to a soft dough. Knead for a few seconds, wrap in cling film and chill for about 30 minutes.
Roll out the dough to about 1/3 inch thick, brush with beaten egg, and cut into strips 3/4 x 3 inches thick.
Transfer to a baking sheet, sprinkle with topping of your choice and bake for 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
I’ve made these before and they are always a big hit. This time I wanted to make them a little more substantial, so I made a few changes.

I made a double batch of the dough, and rolled out one half of it slightly thinner then usual. I put it on the baking sheet without cutting it up, threw some grated cheddar cheese on top, then rolled out the other half and put that on top of the whole thing so it was kind of like a big potato cheese sandwich type thing. I cooked it a couple minutes longer then usual, but only a couple of minutes, just till it’s nice and brown.

I made this for a picnic, and it worked out really nicely. Ideally I should have let it cool all the way before cutting it up and wrapping it. I wrapped it almost right out of the oven, and it got a tiny bit soggy. Still, everybody loved it, the boys were crazy for it. Our little one was so excited about it that he kept the last piece. He just carried it around for about an hour, clutched tightly in his little fist. We kept trying to convince him that it would be easier to climb if he put it down, but he would just look at us doubtfully and then take another little taste, before trying to climb a fallen log one-handed.

This is a great, super kid friendly way to use up any extra potatoes you have lying around. The original recipe is really great too, they come out kind of chewy and much more grown up tasting (though still great for kids too)

Basic Pie Pastry

So someone out there asked about pie pastry. There are obviously a million variations out there, but here is the one I used for the Leftover Dinner Pie. It's a Nigella Lawson recipe. I tried a lot of different ways to make pie pastry, but I found that her freezer method (below) was really helpful. Once you get used to making this kind of dough, you realize how versatile it is. You could use cheese in it for a savoury pie or crushed nuts, or zest for a sweet pie, you could switch up the type of flour too. The list goes on and on.

250g/9oz Plain Flour
125g/4.5oz cold unsalted butter, cut into 1cm cubes
2 egg yolks
2tbsp ice water
1 heaped tsp salt
1tbsp sugar

Put the flour and butter in a dish, and put the dish in your freezer for 10 minutes. Stir together the yolks, salt and water in a cup, and put the cup in the fridge.
When the time is up, tip the flour and butter into a food processor, add the sugar and pulse to combine, it will look somewhere between sand and porridge oats. Pour in the egg yolk mixture and pulse till it looks like it's on the verge of coming together (stop just short of it binding). You may need to add more water. Turn the dough out and mash together with your hands. Once it is all bound together, cut it in two, wrap in cling film, and let rest in the fridge (generally about half an hour, but will keep in there for a couple of days I think). If you are using it for two batches, cut in two evenly. If you are making a springform cake tin pie, then cut one peice slightly larger then the other (one for the base, one for the top).

I love dough

Friday, March 16, 2007

Mexican Albondigas Soup

Don't let my bad picture fool you, this is actually good stuff.

For the meatballs:
1tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
1tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 large egg
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the soup
2tbsp olive oil
4 medium carrots, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
1 large leek, white and light green parts, rinsed and thinly sliced (about 1 cup) or 1 cup diced yellow onion
1tbsp minced garlic
2 jalapeno peppers, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced
1 cup diced fresh or canned tomatoes with their juices
10 cups chicken stock
1tsp chili powder
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Make the meatballs
Heat the oil and add the onions and cook till soft, 5-10 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, thyme and oregano, and cook 2-3 minutes.
Place the egg and cream in a small bowl and whisk till combined, add the breadcrumbs and stir.
Place beef in a medium sized bowl, add the onion mix, and the egg mix, and the salt and pepper. Mix with your hands to combine. Form into 1 inch meatballs , and place them on a platter. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.
Make the soup
Heat the oil, add the carrots and leek and cook till soft, about 5-10 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapenos and cook about 2 minutes
Add the tomatoes, stock, and chili powder, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the meatballs and adjust to a gentle simmer, 8-10 minutes till the meatballs are cooked through.
Season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped cilantro

This soup is from Food to Live By.

Have you ever had something that grew on you, while you were eating it? This was one of those things. When I started, I thought, "hmm, this is ok", then it just kept getting better and better, until my husband and I wound up eating extra helpings. The meatballs had this really great creamy-ness to them, and the broth had a real kick to it.

I didn't bother giving the boys any of the broth, but my youngest liked the meatballs, they are a good size for tiny hands.

We decided in the end that this recipe is a keeper.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Lentil and Pumpkin stew

1 large garlic head, plus 4 minced garlic cloves
3 tbsp olive oil, plus more for brushing
2 medium sized onions, 1 cut in half, 1 finely chopped
1 fresh thyme sprig
1 bay leaf
1&1/2 cups green or brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
8-9 cups water or chicken broth, or more as needed
2 Italian (frying) peppers, cored seeded and chopped
2 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 pound butternut squash or pumpkin cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1/2 tsp sweet or smoked paprika
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley
1 medium sized pinch of saffron
2tbsp sherry vinegar, or good quality red wine vinegar

Preheat to 400f

Cut the top off the head of garlic, and discard it. Brush the cut edge with olive oil, place in a small baking dish and bake until soft, 25-30 minutes. When the garlic is cool enough to handle, place it in a double layer of cheese cloth, along with onion halves, thyme and bay leaf, and tie the cloth shut.

Place the lentils in a pot with 8 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Skin any foam off the surface, then add the cheesecloth bag, 1tbsp of olive oil, half of the Italian peppers, and half the tomatoes. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for 20 min. Add the pumpkin and cook about 20 more minutes, till it is tender.

Meanwhile, heat 2tbsp oil in a pan and add onion, and the remaining Italian pepper, and cook 5-7 minutes, till soft but not browned. Add the paprika, and the remaining tomato and cook about 5 more minutes. Add the onion mixture to the lentils. If it’s too thick add more water. Season to taste and cook for another 10 minutes or so.

Remove the cheesecloth bag, and discard all but the garlic head. Squeeze the flesh from the garlic and mash it up. Place the raw minced garlic and the parsley and saffron with a little pinch of salt into a mortar. Mash to a paste, and add the roasted garlic paste. Mash together with 2 tbsp very hot water. Let sit 2-3 minutes, then stir into the lentils. Add the vinegar and season with salt pepper and more vinegar to taste.

This was from The New Spanish Table.

In the end this was more of a soup then a stew. It was an amazing soup. I loved it. It made my house smell wonderful when it was cooking, it was filling and satisfying, and it tasted so good. I think it must have been the combination of the smoked paprika, and the pre roasted garlic, but it had a really amazing depth of flavor. It actually tasted as if it had chorizo in it, even though it was totally vegan.

I'm a big fan.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Potato Bread

Good good good good bread.

300g cold or warm boiled potatoes
700-800g strong white flour
1tbsp salt
7g (1 sachet) easy blend yeast, or 15g fresh yeast
1tbsp Greek yogurt
300ml tepid potato water

Press the potatoes through a ricer, or mash them in the bowl, and add 600g of the flour together with the salt and the yeast. Mix together, adding the yogurt and then the water slowly. When it’s almost dough, tip it out onto a floured surface, begin kneading and add more flour as you need it.
This may need to be kneaded for longer then a regular bread. When it’s ready make it into a ball and put it in a buttered bowl, turning it over once to coat it. Cover with cling film and leave in a cold place over night, or in a warm place for an hour or so.
When it has doubled, punch it down, knead it for a minute, form it into a loaf and sit it on a baking sheet, loosely covered for 30 minutes, while preheating the oven to 220c.
When it’s puffy and almost doubled in size bake for 20 minutes, turn the temperature down to 190c and bake for another 10 minutes. Test by tapping on the bottom, it should sound hollow.

This was another Nigella Lawson bread from "How to be a Domestic Gddess".

Potato bread has a really aggressive dough. It fought me the whole way through. I had to knead it longer, and even though it was white flour, the kneading was tough, muscle building type work. In the end though, it was absolutely and completely worth it. Potato bread has such a wonderful texture. It's beautifully soft and light, while at the same time being kind of chewy. Seriously, unless there is another potato famine, I don't see the need to ever make a regular loaf of white bread again.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Puff Pastry Meat Pies (Talas Boregi)

1 large onion, chopped
2 tbsp sunflower oil
500g minced lamb or beef
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
30g pine nuts
2 tbsp currants or small black raisins
Handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
400g puff pastry
1 egg, separated

Fry the onion in oil till soft, add the minced meat seasoning and spices. Turn the meat over and crush with a fork to break up lumps. Cook for about 10 minutes, till the meat isn’t pink and the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in the pine nuts, currants or raisins, and the parsley, then let it cool.

Cut the puff pastry into 4 pieces. Roll each piece out in a square or rectangle, large enough to make an eventual flat parcel of about 18cm x 10cm. Roll on a floured surface with a floured pin, Turning the sheets often and dusting with flour as you go. spread a quarter of the meat onto half of one of the sheets, leaving a margin around the three edges. Brush the edges with egg white to make them stick better. Fold over , trim the edges and pinch to seal. Place the pies, turned over, smooth side up on an oiled baking tray. Brush the tops with egg yolk with a drop of water in it. Bake at 180c/350f 25-30 min.

This is a Turkish recipe from Arabesque . The cinnamon and the pine nuts and raisins are what make this a really nice pie. They really give it the Turkish feel. These were a big hit with us and with the boys too, but then what kid doesn't love a pie.

They are actually super easy to make too, so if you are looking for something new to do with hamburger, here ya go.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Pickled Eggs- The Update

Last month I made pickled eggs.
These turned out to be absolutely beautiful, but not so tasty.
The chipolte peppers in adobo sauce were a mistake. Mixing smokey with pickled is weird. I'll make another version sometime soon.

Soy Satay with Red Curry Almond Dipping Sauce

not a great shot, but a great meatless version of a classic street food
recipe #204

Only a real sicko doesn't like food on a stick. I haven't made many stick based foods in the course of this project so I'm getting on that.

Last night I invented a vegetarian satay or satés. We were having folks over for dinner and I was (falsely) under the impression most of them were vegetarian.

Anyway, it was good.
Tofu Satay with spicy red curry dipping sauce
14-19 oz. of drained, pressed and crumbled firm tofu
3/4 cup finely chopped shallots (about 3)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fish sauce or (soy sauce)
1 tablespoon mirin (or sake, sherry, rice wine)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon lime juice
1/4-1/3 cup besan or white flour

bamboo skewers

Combine tofu with shallots, garlic, sugar, pepper, oil, fish sauce, mirin, and salt, turmeric and lime juice. Let is sit for an hour or 2 to let the flavors settle.

Mix in flour to get the tofu to a consistency that it will stick together.

This is the part that took some experimenting. Take about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the tofu mixture and mold it around the skewer. Meat satays are more flat than round. This wont work for the tofu. You need to make a skinny sausage shape around the skewer or the tofu will fall off the skewer.

Prepare grill for cooking over medium charcoal (moderate heat for gas). If you haven't got a grill a griddle will work just fine.

Grill skewers, roll them to get them evenly browned. They should cook for about 10 minutes to get them dried out enough that they stay on the skewer.

From Epicurious:
Red Curry Peanut Dipping Sauce
1/4 cup roasted salted peanuts
1 tablespoon packed palm or dark brown sugar
2 to 3 teaspoons Thai red curry paste
8 to 10 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot (about 1 large)
2 fresh Thai or serrano chiles (2 to 3 inches; preferably red) including seeds, thinly sliced crosswise

Finely grind 3 tablespoons peanuts in a food processor along with sugar. Finely chop remaining tablespoon peanuts by hand.

Stir together curry paste (to taste) and 6 tablespoons water until paste is dissolved.

Heat oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté garlic, shallot, and chiles, stirring, until golden, about 4 minutes. Add ground peanut mixture and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in curry mixture and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in chopped peanuts.

Cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes, then thin with water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to desired consistency.

Makes about 2/3 cup.

a fine example of drunked food photography

I followed this recipe and it was very very very spicy. I took half of it and mixed it with 3 tablespoons of almond butter and a bit of water. It was perfect after that.

I served this to a room full of carnivores and the loved them. If I can work out the consistency issues and get it to stick to the skewers better I'll make this a standard. I loved these.

Fig Tree!


It turns out I've got a fig tree in my front yard. I cannot wait for fresh figs. I'm thrilled.

Vegetable Curry with Paneer cheese and Naan

This one is Jamie Oliver , though it was originally a lamb curry, and I couldn’t afford Lamb this weekend, so now it’s a vegetable curry.

Rub mixture:
2tbsp fennel seeds
2tbsp cumin seeds
2tbsp coriander seeds
1/2 tbsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 tbsp black peppercorns
1 clove
1/2 a cinnamon stick
2 cardamom pods
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Toast all ingredients in a pan over gentle heat before pounding or crushing into a fine powder.

2tbsp butter
2x400g tins tomatoes
285ml/1/2pint stock or water
Some vegetables

Curry paste:
5cm/2inches fresh ginger, peeled
2 tennis ball size red onions, peeled
10 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 fresh red chilies, with seeds
1 bunch fresh coriander

1 handfull chopped mint and coriander (cilantro)
285ml/1/2 pint natural yogurt
Salt and pepper and lime juice

Preheat to 170c/325f

Chop the paste ingredients roughly, add the toasted and ground rub mixture, and puree in a food processor. In a large casserole pan, fry the curry paste mixture in the butter till it goes golden, stirring regularly. Add the tomatoes and the stock, or water. Bring to a boil, cover with kitchen foil and place in the oven for 1.5 hours to intensify the flavors. Remove the foil and continue to simmer on the stove until it thickens. This is the basic curry sauce that you can add what ever you want to. I’m using some cauliflower, potatoes, green beans, and mushrooms. Throw them in a cook for about half an hour to an hour, till everything is tender.

Sprinkle with the mint and coriander and a little lime juice and serve with the yogurt.

Paneer cheese:

Bring 2 litres of full cream milk to a boil in a thick bottom pan, remove from the heat and add a wine glass of white wine vinegar. Stir then leave for 5 minutes. The milk will begin to curdle. Pour it through a fine sieve, or a colander lined with muslin. Allow the water to drain, then squeeze the remaining curd and chill in the fridge. Chop the cheese into thumb size pieces, fry in butter with a little chili, garlic and sea salt, then add to your curry.

This is a bit of a cheat, as I have made this curry sauce before. The new bit for me was making it vegetarian and making the paneer cheese. I thought I’d include the curry recipe though because it's kind of integral to the dinner.

The curry worked fine with the vegetables instead of Lamb, but I have to admit, it was not super fabolous incredable like it was with Lamb. Next time I probably won't make it vegetarian.

The Paneer was really interesting. I did not believe for a minute that it was going to make anything like cheese, but there it was, cheese. Pretty awful cheese on it's own. Raw it tasted just like what it is, milk and vinegar, but somehow, when you cook it with the garlic and chilies and salt, it gets really good. By the time it was done it tasted a lot like hot feta cheese. Good for me cuz I love salty.

The Naan was from Joy of Cooking. It's quite fun to make, though you need a really hot oven. I'll post the recipe soon.

Today is a holiday

So today is a Zoroastrian holiday called Hanaspathmaedaem. I’m not going to pretend to know much at all about this, but I have decided to make an effort to celebrate holidays from other cultures. Partly this is because I want the boys to grow up in a multi cultural atmosphere, partly it’s because I don’t feel like there are enough celebrations in life. This one snuck up on me so I didn’t have much time for research, but here’s what I found at the I Love India web site:
“The Zoroastrian, or Parsi, community is the smallest major religious group in India. They number about 100,000, and are concentrated overwhelmingly in Mumbai city and in the state of Gujarat.”
The site I indicated has a little about what the holiday is, and how to celebrate it. Again, not having much time, I decided to go with donating a bunch of stuff to the local charity shop (the holiday calls for charitable acts), and I’m making some Indian food.

Again, I’m sorry I didn’t have more time to research this, but it’s my first Zoroastrian holiday.

Huevos Rancheros Left-over style

So I still had a bit of stuff to use up. I had a bunch of tomatoes, some black beans, a bit of cooked pork rib meat, and some sour cream, so I decided to make my own version of huevos rancheros.

In one bowl, I chopped up a bunch of tomatoes (about three, or four, but they were small), and added some very finely chopped red onion. I love red onions, they are so much more versatile then regular ones. Also some chopped cilantro (coriander), and some minced garlic. All seasoned with some lime juice, salt and pepper.

Then I mashed up the black beans with my hands till they were about half mashed, but there weren’t really enough, so I added a can of some pink beans, and half mashed them too.

I greased a small pan with oil, and spread the beans on the bottom layer, then the left over pork rib meat (pulled into small pieces), then some grated cheese and the tomato mixture then some more cheese. Then cracked four eggs over the top. Baked at 180c/350f for about 20-25 minutes.

I served it with some jalapenos and sour cream on the side. I have no idea how close or far from traditional this recipe may be, but it was really good. I’m generally a sucker for anything with beans and cheese. The tomato mixture was nice, and would be a nice side for other dishes too.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Black Rice

Chinese Black Rice

recipe # 200 & 201

I went to Crate and Barrel yesterday to use up some gift cards I got for xmas (Thanks Wendy!) and upon entering the store, front and center was a display of Chinese black rice. It was $15 with a thing of salt. I'm not sure what my point is other than DO NOT BUY THAT. You can get black rice sans salt for 99¢ in any China Town grocery store. Mine was from Sunset Park, Brooklyn and I dragged it all the way to Venice when we moved.

There are a few different kinds of black rice. Chinese is the most straight forward to cook. Treat it like brown rice. I made a risotto with it the other day from the Down to Earth Cookbook. It worked well for that too.

It is lovely. It turns everything a dark deep purple. I'm going to make it my standard rice as soon as I can find a place in LA to buy it that doesn't charge $15 for 12 oz.

Last night I made a rice bowl and rice pudding with it.

99 cents from your local Chinese grocery store or $15 bucks from C&B in Beverly Hills

This is just too ugly to post a picture of. It is fantastic way to use up leftover rice the next afternoon for lunch. My goal with this is to get the rice a bit browned on the bottom of the pan so it will be a little like bimbibap without the stonde bowl.

Afternoon Rice Bowl
2 tablespoons of oil (olive, canola, whatever you want)
1/2 -1 cup onions of some sort (onions, shallots, leeks, scallions, whatever you got or a combo)
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 cups left over rice (brown long grain seems to work the best
3/4 cup chopped up canned pineapple or maybe mango
1-2 cups some sort of nice dark leafy green, chopped (spinach, broccoli rabe, pea tendrills)
any other vege you might having around in your fridge, diced (carrots, bean sprouts, tomatoes, red peppers)
pressed or baked tofu, diced (optional)
1/2 to 1 tablespoon of fish sauce (soy sauce if you prefer)
1/2 teaspoon on sriracha hot chili sauce or any other garlicy but not vinegary hot sauce
1/4 cup of pineapple juice from the can
2 eggs, beaten

Heat a big ole pan and put some oil in it. Toss in the garlic and onion and cook until browning. Add rice. Cook 2 minutes. Add pineapple. Cook a few more minutes. Add any and all vege, fish sauce, hot sauce. Cook 10 minutes. Try to get the mixture to brown. Deglaze pan with pineapple juice and cook down until mixture dries out a bit. Then add eggs. Fold in eggs. Turn heat up high, let stand to a minute or 2 to try to get the bottom of mxiture to brown. Serve.

top with a bit of rice wine vinegar, mirin or more hot chili sauce and chopped up roasted salted peanuts

black rice pudding

Black Rice and Lemongrass Pudding
Basically you use any left over black rice. I think I had about 1.5 cups.
Take a can of unsweetened coconut milk, pour it in a pan. Throw a chopped up and bruised stalk or 2 of lemongrass in there and simmer for 10 minutes. Let cool, strain our lemongrass and then throw coconut milk, rice, one beaten egg (or tofu if vegan) and hopwever much of desired sweetner in a pot. Cover. Bake for 30 minutes covered and another 15-20 uncovered. Serve hot or cold.

Great for breakfast.

Orange and Goji Berry Cookies

goji berry cookie

recipe #203

The new big thing at Whole Foods seems to be the goji berry. It is $18 a pound in the bulk section. Not cheap, but supposed to be healthy as all get out. You can also find them at Costco for around $9 for 2.5 pounds, but they are covered in sugar and dipped in pomegranate juice. Not so tasty, but I guess it will cure whatever is wrong with you. My son will shove handfuls in his mouth as fast as you can pour them in front of him.

Modifed from a Post Punk Kitchen recipe:
Fluffy Goji-Orange Cookies
1/2 C. pure maple syrup
1/2 C. shortening
1/2 cup apple sauce
2 Tbsp. orange juice
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. spelt flour
1 1/2 C. white flour
1 C. dried unsweetened goji berries soaked in hot water for 5 minutes
2 tsp. orange zest
natural sugar (optional)

Mix syrup, shortening, egg replacer, orange juice, and orange zest thoroughly. Add everything else except cranberries and mix well. Stir in cranberries. The dough should be sticky and a bit elastic. Not really typical cookie dough texture. If it's too messy to shape by hand then add a little flour until it's more pliable.

Shape dough into small balls and place on non-stick or greased cookie sheet. These cookies aren't terribly sweet as-is so you can optionally do the following to give them a light sugary coating. Flatten dough balls with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar. These tend to come out puffy so it's best to flatten the dough balls a bit even if you don't put sugar on top. They can get a little gooey inside otherwise.
Bake at 375 degrees for 8-11 minutes

These are more like breakfast treats. They are more muffin than cookie. Still a good solid vegan treat. I'm pretty sure they would be nice wheat-free if you were to replace the white flour with white rice flour, or a mixture of soy and tapioca flour.

tags technorati :

Leftover Dinner Pie

So this is the first original recipe I’ve posted. Although I made it up, I have to say that I did borrow heavily from Nigella Lawson. Her book “How to be a Domestic Goddess” had a few recipes for savory pies made in spring form cake tins (all really good by the way). The advantage is that you can use tons of filling, and they come out all tall and pretty.

So this is a little elaborate, but I wanted to try it as a way to use up leftover food.

I had a half a sweet potato, a few small regular potatoes and two carrots, so I diced them up really small and threw them in a pot of boiling water for 3 minutes, then drained them and put to the side.

Next I took a chunk of red onion, plus a regular onion, some garlic and some mushrooms that were truly at the end of their usefulness, and I sautéed them with a little white wine till they released some liquid and then burned it away (so they were dry).

I added those both together with some sage, thyme and rosemary, threw in some grated cheese, and some left over baked chicken and that was my filling.

I made a little gravy too.

I made a pastry dough (you could easily use some store bought). Rolled out the bottom dough big enough to hang over the edges of the cake tin. I lined the bottom with some breadcrumbs to help keep it from getting soggy (another trick I learned from Nigella). I put in 3/4 of the filling then the gravy, then the rest of the filling, in another attempt at fighting sogginess. Rolled out the top crust, and put it over the top, then pinched the edges together to seal it. Put a little egg wash on the top, and poked some holes for steam to escape.

Baked at 200c/400f for 10 min, then turned it down to 180c/350f for 40 min. Again, I borrowed the cooking time from Nigella.

Like I said, a little elaborate, not something to do if you are short on time. Still, I love making savory pies, and I always have bits and bobs left over at the end of the week, so I loved it. It came out tall and pretty and tasty. Everybody loved it and had second helpings.

Raspberry corn muffins

From Food to Live By.
Butter for greasing the muffin cups (or cupcake liners)
1&1/2 cup flour
1 cup yellow corn meal
1tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1tsp ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
6tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 half-pint (about 1&1/4 cups) fresh or frozen (unthawed) unsweetened raspberries

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400f. Butter or line the muffin cups.
Place the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl and whisk to combine.
Place the eggs, honey, sugar, buttermilk, and melted butter in a small bowl, and whisk to combine well. Add the egg mix to the flour mix and stir until just combined. Gently fold in the raspberries. Do Not Over mix. Fill the muffin cups almost to the brim.

Bake about 20-25 minutes ( a toothpick should come out clean). Coo on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

I have to admit, I was a little disappointed with this one at first. They were actually very nice, but I was expecting those wonderful cake-y muffins, totally forgetting that corn muffins have a completely different texture. Once I remembered that, I was able to enjoy them, but I still prefer a cake-y muffin.

The boys were not suffering any such cake-y delusions, and thoroughly enjoyed them. The whole plate got all eaten up.

Preserved Things Update

Quick updates:

The Preserved mushrooms in wine and vinegar were really really good after two weeks, but would be even better if I could wait longer. I am making many more batches of them next week.

Also, my husband found a good use for the mustard pickles . If you leave them to mellow for a few weeks, then add one to a plain cheese sandwich, it transforms it into a cheese sandwich party! So good!

Chocolate Espresso Torte

recipe # 202

This is my response to your Chocolate Cake, AteThat.

I hate posting recipes without pictures, but these disapperaed in the night before I got a chance to shoot them. And, as a made a terrible error, I will make them again, but this time make them right.

Chocolate Espresso Torte
4 oz. quality semi sweet chocolate
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup of water
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1 cup of sugar
4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350. Recipe calls for a 9 inch cake pan, but I made it in a cup cake tins and adjusted the time. Line either cake pan or muffin tin with plastic wrap (it will not melt). Melt chocolate and butter together, heat 1/2 cup water, add espresso, disolve.
Mix eggs and sugar until smooth, add chocolate mixture and espresso and mix on lowest mixer speed. Pour batter. This recipe will fill a regular 12 muffin tin.
bake for 45-55 minutes of a cake, bake for 35 if in tins.
Let cool for a bit, carefully unmold. I sifted some cocoa powder on top to make them look pretty.

I fucked up here. I used Earth Balance margarine instead of butter and deeply regret it. IT ruined the flavor. Consistincy was fine. Cooked okay. Tasted not good. Salty and almost, oddlt fishy. I used to eat this torte while in college. It was a wonderful truffle like piece of rocket fuel. I will make it again with butter. Too bad, but I had to try.

Friday, March 09, 2007


Black Sesame and Mustard Popcorn

recipe # 198 & 199

This came from chowhound and can be found here.
Black Sesame and Mustard Popcorn

* 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
* 2 to 3 teaspoons ground mustard
* 1/2 teaspoon table salt
* 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
* 3 tablespoons dark sesame oil

1. In a small bowl, stir together the sesame seeds, ground mustard, and salt. Set aside.
2. Using an air popper, pop the corn kernels into a large bowl. As the bowl begins to fill, drizzle the sesame oil over the popcorn, occasionally tossing to coat.
3. When popcorn stops popping, sprinkle the sesame seed–mustard mixture over the bowl, and use your hands to gently mix the corn, evenly distributing the ingredients. Taste popcorn and season with more salt if necessary.
4. Serve immediately.

I don't have an air popper so I just popped it up the old fashion way in a pan with sesame oil. I'm not sure using sesame oil to pop made that big of a flavor difference.

This popcorn looks lovely and tastes good. It's surprising and impressive.

I also made this one. Also from Chowhound:
Spicy Cinnamon-Sugar Popcorn
* 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
* Pinch ground cinnnamon (about 1/16 teaspoon)
* 1/8 teaspoon table salt
* 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
* 1 teaspoon hot chile oil, such as KA-ME brand
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (preferably clarified butter)

1. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
2. Using an air popper, pop the corn kernels into a large bowl. While the corn pops, combine the chile oil and melted butter in a small bowl; stir well. As the bowl begins to fill with popcorn, drizzle the oil mixture over it, occasionally tossing to coat.
3. When popcorn stops popping, sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar mixture over the bowl, and use your hands to gently mix the corn, evenly distributing the ingredients.
4. Serve immediately.

Again, I popped the kernels in hung you oil instead of pouring it over the top. It made a big difference in flavor. It was nice and spicy. I loved this popcorn.

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My Own Sterling Vineyard Meritage

my very own meritage

recipe # 197

In the summer of 2003, my husband and I went with my inlaws to Napa to, amoung other things make our own Meritage and Sterling Vinyards. How fancy is that?

It was a great time. We stayed in a house in a vineyard, ate good food, stayed buzzed for almost 3 days straight and toured a bunch of great vineyards. I think Rombauer was my favorite. Good wine, nice folks and we ended up having a great picnic with the owners.

Anyway, 2 night ago my husband was collecting a bunch of stuff that we have had in storage for years when he came across my bottle. It had been in an attick which must have gone from 90+ degrees down to 40 over and over and over.
Merlot:: 59%
Malbec:: 0%
Cab. Franc:: 0%
Cab. Sauvignon:: 29%
Petit Verdot:: 12%

us making/designing the meritage

It was wrecklessly tannin heavy. We each got 2 bottles, had a blind taste test a few years ago and mine came in dead last. The flavor improved over the 40 minutes it took us (mainly me) to knock the bottle back-- but not much.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007


400g ground almonds
150g sugar
grated zest of 1 lemon, unwaxed
2-3 drops almond essence
1 large egg white
icing sugar

Put all the ingredients except the icing sugar into the food processor, and blend into a soft malleable paste.

Put some icing sugar on a plate and rub your hands with oil so they don’t stick. Take lumps of the paste the size of walnuts and roll into a ball. Press one side down into the icing sugar flattening it a little, and place it on a buttered baking sheet. Bake at 200c for 15 minutes, and allow to cook before lifting them off the sheet.

These cookies are from Arabesque . I love these cookies. I have always loved macaroons. I love the way they are a little hard on the outside, and beautifully sticky and chewy on the inside. These seemed like they were too easy to make to yeild such a complicated cookie, but they were exactly right.

Actually, funny story... I had to make them twice, because I was really tired, and the first time, I left out the sugar all together. Actually, they were interesting like that, but then when I realized what I had done, I had to re-make them, using all the ingrediants. They would be a perfect cookie to have along with coffee or ice cream or both.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Sweet potato salad (Slada Batata Halwa)

This is a Moroccan recipe from a book called Arabesque .

1 large onion, chopped coarsely
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
5oog sweet potatoes, peeled
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
6 or 7 green olives
Peel of 1/2 preserved lemon, chopped (optional)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

Fry the onion in 2 tbsp of oil until golden. Cut the sweet potatoes into 2.5 cm cubes, add to the pan and barely cover with water. Add ginger, cumin, paprika, a little salt and 2 more tbsp of oil. Cook until the pieces are tender and the liquid is reduced to a sauce, turning the potatoes over once and keeping watch so they don’t suddenly fall apart.

Serve at room temp, mixed with olives lemon peel and sprinkled with the lemon juice and chopped parsley.

These were very good. The lemon and olive were a really nice contrast with the potatoes, without clashing at all. It was a really new and differant way of making a vegatable that I rely on quite heavily. They are one of my youngest son's favorite foods in the whole world, so any new way to make them is exciting for me. These tasted like a grown up version of sweet potatoes, focusing on their flavor, not just their sweetness. Nathaniel still ate his own, his brother's and half of mine though, so I guess they are not too grown up.

Tagine of Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Olives

(Tagine Djaj Bi Zaytoun Wal Hamid)

This is a Morrocan recipe from a book called Arabesque .

3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, grated or chopped very fine
2-3 garlic cloves crushed
1/2 tsp crushed saffron
1/4-1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 chicken, jointed
salt and black pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon
2tbsp chopped coriander
2tbsp chopped parsley
peel of 1 large or 2 small preserved lemons
12-16 green or violet olives

using a casserole that can hold all the chicken in one layer, sauté the onions over low heat until they soften, then stir in the garlic, saffron and ginger.

Add the chicken pieces, season with salt and pepper, and pour in about 300ml water. Simmer covered, turning the pieces over a few times, and adding more water if it starts to get dry. Lift out the breasts after 20 min and put them to one side. Continue to cook the rest of the pieces for another 25 minutes or so, then return the breasts to the pan.
Stir in the lemon juice, chopped coriander, parsley, preserved lemon peel cut into quarters or strips, and the olives. Simmer, uncovered 5-10 min, until the sauce is reduced and thick. If it needs to be thicker, remove the chicken and simmer some more.

This came out nice. I have to admit, I wasn't over the moon for it, but it was tasty. The chicken was very tender, and the flavor was actually quite a bit more subtle then I was expecting. I think maybe that was my problem with it, I was looking forward to a much more intense flavor.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Maple-Brined Pork Chops

The Search Is Over!

Seriously. These are the best pork chops I have ever eaten. This is the only way I will ever need to cook pork chops for the rest of my life. When I am a great-grandmother, and my great grandkids are coming over for dinner and they ask their mom if they get to have great grandma’s extra special pork chops. These are the chops they will be talking about.

For the Brine:
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup coarse salt
1tbsp mustard seed
1tbsp black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
10 sprigs fresh thyme, coarsely chopped
for the chops:
4 bone-in center cut pork chops, cut 1&1/4 inch thick
3tbsp pure maple syrup
olive oil

to make the brine
Combine all the brine ingredients with 4 cups of water in a large saucepan. Heat over high heat and stir until the sugar and salt dissolve. Remove from heat and add one cup of ice water. Pour the brine into a ceramic or glass dish just big enough to fit the chops, and refrigerate it until chilled (it has to be cold before you put in the chops, so it doesn’t raise their temp).
Place the chops in the brine, making sure they are completely covered. Cover the dish and refrigerate for 24-48 hours.
Remove the chops, and discard the brine. Rinse the chops under cold water and dry them with paper towels. Brush both sides with maple syrup, and leave to stand at room temp for 1 hour.
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven, and preheat to 425f.
Brush the chops with olive oil, heat one tbsp olive oil in a pan, and cook till browned, about 3 minutes per side.
Transfer to the oven and bake till they are firm to the touch and an instant read thermometer reads 145f (don’t let the thermometer touch the bone), 8-15 minutes. Let chops rest for 5 minutes before serving.

These came from a book called Food To Live By. This was my first time using it, and if this recipe is anything to go on, I am going to have to make everything in this book.

These take some forward planning. I let them soak for the whole 48 hours and It was totally worth it. They taste like what bacon wishes it could be when it grows up. The salty/sweet ratios are perfect, and I suppose it’s because of the brine, but there was absolutely no problem with drying out.

Anyone who has ever dipped their bacon into their syrup during a pancake breakfast, needs to eat these!