26 January 2006

swiss chard with chick peas

I made this a little while ago and thought it was really good.

Take a good sized bunch of Swiss chard leaves (less than a pound), rinse them, remove any thick bits of stem, and tear into largish pieces. Steam for about 5 minutes until just wilting and tender. Drain in a colander, squeezing out excess liquid. Roughly chop into coarse shreds.

In a mortar, make a paste of:

2 large garlic cloves
1 teaspoon ground coriander
l/4 - 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Heat 2 tablesppons of olive oil in large pan and saute 1/2 cup of minced onion until golden. Add the garlic paste and 2 teaspoons tomato paste and cook to a nice sizzle.

Along with Swiss chard, add:

1 can chick peas, retaining liquid

Begin to saute, adding enough liquid from the chick pea can to moisten nicely (between 1/2 and 3/4 cup of liquid, or more if necessary).

Can be served either warm or at room temperature. Squeeze a quarter of a lemon over of the dish before serving and serve with lemon wedges.

22 January 2006

stuffed roasted pepper rolls

I've been into Mediterranean cooking a bit lately. Here's what I thought was a delicious recipe that would make a nice appetizer.

Roast several large peppers. Red, yellow, orange, or green will work. A mix of colors is nice. When blackened, place in a plastic bag for 15 minutes and then rinse off blackened skin with cool water. Cut peppers in large rectangular pieces, 3 or 4 per pepper.

To prepare filling, place the following into a food processer:

1 1/2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 1/2 tablespoons golden raisins (plump in warm water)
1 1/2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon anchovy paste
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon grated parmesan or pecorino
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Process into a crumbly paste.

When ready to fix for serving, preheat oven to 425F.

Evenly divide filling among pepper pieces, placing a spoonful in the middle of each piece. Roll up pieces around filling and secure with toothpicks (2 per roll worked best for me).

Place rolls on a non-stick sheet and spray with cooking spray. Bake for about 20 minutes until slightly browned around the edges. Remove from oven and take out toothpicks. The rolls should stay rolled without toothpicks.

Can be served hot, warm, or room temperature. Don't refrigerate.

21 January 2006

random pasta

I was in a bit of a rush tonight, having arrived home late and needing to put together something quick for dinner. Pasta is usually quick, but I get tired of just popping open a jar of sauce for it. So, I tried improvising with some odds and ends of foods we had in the refrigerator. I didn't measure anything, so I'm just going to provide a list of what I threw into the sauce pan:

a few tablespoons of leftover marinara
some julienned pieces of pepperoni
sliced green pepper
a few bits of chopped artichoke heart
sliced black olives
a crushed clove of garlic
part of a can of diced tomatoes
some powdered parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

I heated these all together for a bit, poured it over the prepared pasta, sprikled with pine nuts and a bit of leftover grated mozzarella.

It turned out to be pretty yummy.

17 January 2006

thai chicken with basil

Begin by combining the following in a small bowl:

3/4 cup light coconut milk
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)

Extra coconut milk can be frozen in an ice cube tray and then bagged in the freezer for later uses.

In a wok or large non-stick pan sprayed with cooking spray, saute for 3 minutes or until slightly browned:

1 medium onion, sliced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger root, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced

Ginger root can be kept wrapped tightly in foil in the freezer and shredded on a grater for use as needed.

Thinly slice 1.5 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves. If breasts are partly frozen, this will aid in getting thin slices with a sharp chef's knife or cleaver.

Cook chicken in the onion, ginger, and garlic mixture for about 5 minutes or until cooked and browning.

Other vegetables can also be added at this point according to taste. Red bell peppers, bamboo shoots, thinly sliced carrots, and broccoli all work well, if desired.

Pour the coconut milk mixture into the pan at this point and cook until reduced a bit and slightly thickened.


3 shiitakes, sliced
5 green onions, chopped

Dried shiitakes may be used. Soak them in hot water before beginning the recipe until they are softened. Leftover mushroom water can be saved for vegetable stock. Cook mushrooms and onions for about a minute.

At the very end of cooking add:

1 1/2 cups chopped fresh basil leaves

Cook until leaved are wilted. Serve over jasmine rice or rice noodles.

14 January 2006

"pooh" muffins

Earlier today Claire requested that we make "Winnie the Pooh" muffins.

Due to the rain and gloom, we had decided to go to the mall to have an outing, allow Claire to ride the carousel, and let her pick out a small purchase for herself at the nearby craft store. She picked out a couple sheets of Pooh stickers and repeated the request for Pooh muffins. The craft store, fortunately, also sold Winnie the Pooh muffin papers, so we were set.

I asked Claire what she thought would go into Pooh muffins and, besides the obvious answer of "honey," she suggested raisins and vanilla. So here's what we made. They turned out pretty yummy.

1 1/4 cups quick oats and wheat bran cereal ground fine in a blender
1 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Whisk these dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl combine the following:

1 cup plain low fat yogurt
6 tablespoons honey
2 eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Whisk until blended smooth and then fold into dry ingredients until combined. Add:

1/2 cup raisins

Allow the batter to sit around 5 minutes while you line 18 regular size muffin tins with papers. Spoon batter evenly among papers so they are abour 2/3 full.

Bake for around 13-15 minutes at 400F or until tops just begin to brown. Cool on wire rack and enjoy.

13 January 2006

tapas again

Back in August I blogged a bit about Spanish tapas. Since then I've tried out a number of different tapas recipes, on the whole with great success. So I thought I'd share a few of them here and later.

One item I made was a garlic flatbread made with:

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cup unbleached flour
1 package yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water

These ingredients are combined into a dough. Knead for around 10 minutes or 7-8 minutes in the mixer, using a dough hook, until the dough is smooth and stretchy. Allow to rise for about an hour.

Punch down and let rest for a bit before dividing into two pieces. Roll each piece into a circle around a quarter inch thick. Coat lightly with cooking spray and press thin slices of garlic into the top.

Bake at 450F on a baking stone dusted with cornmeal for around 10 minutes, until garlic is just beginning to brown. After baking (or at the very end of baking) Top hot flatbread with grated cheese of your choice, so that it will melt. I've tried mozzarella and smoked gouda.

When serving the bread guests top it with any variety of toppings: olives, serrano ham, proscuitto, sopressata, and so. Especially good is a salad of tomatoes and basil in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic.

I've not tried a great deal of Spanish wine, but for a recent dinner of tapas I purchased a 2001 Rioja from Maruqes de Caceres that was lovely and fruity and matched the food quite well.

09 January 2006

two cocktails

Okay, okay. I've not blogged anything here in ages unto ages. So here are two cocktail recipies.

For those who like vanilla flavored coffee, here's an alcoholic substitute:

1 part coffee flavored liqueur (Starbucks or Kahlua)
1 1/2 parts vanilla flavored vodka (Absolut or Smirnoff)

Mix with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist or a coffee bean.

For those who like chocolate cherry cordial candies:

1 part cherry brandy
1 part creme de cacao (or your favorite chocolate liqueur)
1 part vodka

Mix with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry or a Hershey's kiss.

14 November 2005

western beef and rice

Golly. It's been ages since I've blogged anything here. I've barely blogged anything substantive at my main blog, so I'm not surprised.

I had to make dinner quickly this evening and I managed the following in less than 20 minutes and it turned out really good.

Get a cup of uncooked medium grain rice cooking in the microwave or on the stovetop or in the ricecooker while you prepare the rest of the recipe.

Brown 3/4 lb of ground turkey in a pan. Add a bit of Worcestershire sauce for some color.

Add and saute into the meat:

1/3 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped green or yellow pepper

Once these are softened, add:

1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon oregano

Brown a bit, then stir in:

3/4 cup chopped green olives
1 1/2 cup diced tomatoes with a bit of their juice
dash or two more Worcestershire sauce

Stir the hot meat mixture into the rice. Serve in bowls with shredded cheddar cheese on top.

09 October 2005


It's been a while since I've posted anything here. Sorry about that. Life's been busy.

I thought I'd post the recipe for one of my favorite holiday cookies, Speculaas, an almond paste filled spice cookie, though they aren't the easiest cookie to make. I believe the recipe is Dutch in origins and I've seen a lot of variations upon it, though the following is the one I've made most often.

1 3/4 sticks of butter
2 1/2 cup flour
1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
pinch of salt

Combine the above ingredients into a soft dough. It might be easiest to work on a marble slab and with a cold bowl, if available.

Take a bit of dough and press into a small circle. Top with a tiny dollop of almond paste. Brush with lightly beaten egg white and top with another bit of dough, so that you have a small round cookie with a raised lump in the middle.

Bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes, until done.

17 September 2005

cranberry-orange bread

More cranberries!

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour the bottom of a standard loaf pan. Avoid dark, non-stick pans, which tend to overbake the outside of the loaf. I find that the antique heavy glass loaf pans I use work well.

Combine in a large bowl:

2 cups flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

In another bowl, beat together until thoroughly mixed:

3/4 cup orange juice
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon orange zest

Add wet ingredients to the dry mixture, mixing until just moistened. Stir in:

3/4 cup halved fresh/frozen cranberries
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Pour into loaf pan and bake 60-70 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool about 10 minutes and remove from pan to cool the rest of the way.