Monday, January 28, 2008

Masala Vegetable Stew

This is out of "The Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook"

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
4 carrots, sliced
1/2 medium head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 c. frozen green beans
1 to 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
2 fresh mild chiles, seeded and minced (I cheated here and used a can of green chiles)
2 tsp. garam masala or curry powder, or to taste
1 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. tumeric
1 15-oz can light coconut milk
salt to taste
1 c. frozen peas
1/4 tsp. chopped cilantro

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until the onions are golden. Add the potatoes, carrots and 2 c. water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook gently until the potatoes are partially tender, about 10-15 minutes. Add the cauliflower, green beans, ginger, garam masala, chiles, coriander and tumeric. Continue to cook gently, covered, until the vegetables are tender, for 20 minutes.
Mash some potatoes against the side of the pot to thicken the stew. Stir in the coconut milk and season to taste with salt. If time allows, let the stew sit for an hour or so before serving.
Just before serving, heat the stew and taste and correct the seasoning. Add the peas and cilantro, cook just until the peas are heated through, and serve.

Friday, January 25, 2008

White Chocolate and Bread Pudding with Amaretto Cream Sauce

Ernie makes this on special occasions and it is always met with rave reviews.

Adapted from an Emeril Legasse recipe

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus 2 tablespoons, melted
4 large eggs
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 cups 1/2-inch cubes day-old bread
6 ounces white chocolate, chopped

Amaretto Cream Sauce:
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup Amaretto liqueur
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar

For the Bread Pudding: Preheat the oven to 350 degree F. Butter a 10 by 14-inch baking dish with the softened butter. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Whisk in the cream, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Add the bread and chocolate and stir well, then mix in the melted butter. Let sit for 30 minutes so the bread will absorb the egg mixture.
Pour into the prepared dish. Bake until firm when pressed in the center, about 1 hour. Cool on a wire rack until just warm, about 20 minutes.
For the Amaretto Cream Sauce: In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the Amaretto and whisk until smooth.
In a medium saucepan, scald cream over medium heat. Add the Amaretto slurry to the hot cream and whisking constantly, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook, whisking for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and add the sugar. Whisk until dissolved. Let cool to room temperature before serving with the bread pudding.
Serve warm.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Chicken piccata pasta toss

I'm always sort of looking at Rachel Ray recipes with a wary eye, because very often I have to cut down the fat to a reasonable amount.
This, however, was perfect as is. Ernie and I both devoured ours, and we'll be making it again. After we eat all the leftovers. (It says it makes 4 servings, but I bet it's closer to 6) We had it tonight with roasted brussel sprouts.

from "Rachel Ray 2 30-Minute Meals"

1 lb. penne rigate pasta, cooked al dente according to package directions
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 lb. chicken tenders, cut into 1-inch pieces
salt and black pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp. butter
4 cloves garlic, chopped (or put through the garlic press)
2 medium shallots, chopped
2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 c. white wine
the juice of 1 lemon
1 c. chicken broth or stock
2 Tbsp. capers, drained
1/2 c. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
chopped or snipped chives, for garnish

Heat a deep nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 Tbsp. oil and the chicken to the pan. Season with salt and pepper and brown about 5-6 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Return the skillet to the heat, reduced to medium.
To the skillet, add another Tbsp. oil, 1 Tbsp. butter, the garlic and shallots and sauté about 3 minutes. Stir in flour and cook 2 minutes. Whisk in wine and reduce liquid, 1 minute. Whisk lemon juice and broth into sauce. Stir in capers and parsley. When sauce comes to a bubble, add remaining butter to give it a little shine. Put chicken back in the pan and heat through a minute or two. Toss hot pasta with chicken sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Topp with fresh snipped chives.

Dhulli Mungi ki Dal

(which means) Yellow Mung Beans with Sauteed Onion and Ginger

Yay! Finally, I'm cooking out of the gigantic Indian cookbook Ernie bought me for Christmas. I'm planning to eat this over couscous, but it'd be equally good over rice or with some nice chapatis or naan on the side. Or eat it out of the pan with a spoon, which is what I was doing this afternoon.

from "1,000 Indian Recipes" by Neelam Batra

1 c. yellow mung beans (dhulli mung dal), sorted and washed in 3 to 4 changes of water
3 1/2 to 4 c. water
3 to 5 fresh green chile peppers, such as serrano
1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
3/4 tsp. salt, or to taste
1/4 c. finely chopped cilantro, including soft stems (I omitted this, because my cilantro was not good anymore)
2 Tbsp. peanut or canola oil
1 tsp. melted ghee (optional -- I left this out, because I didn't have any)
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. peeled minced fresh ginger
1 Tbsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground paprika
freshly ground black pepper

Place the dal, 3 1/2 cups water, green chile peppers, turmeric and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the dal, uncovered, stirring occasionally and watching carefully that it doesn't boil over, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the remaining water if needed and simmer until the dal is soft and creamy, about 15 minutes. Mix in the cilantro during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Transfer to a serving bowl, cover, and keep warm.
Heat the oil (and the ghee, if using), in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and add the cumin seeds; they should sizzle upon contact with teh hot oil. Quickly add the onion and cook, stirring, until golden, about 1 minute. Add the ginger and cook another minute. Then add the coriander and cumin and stir about 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and add the paprika. Immediately pour the mixture over the warm dal, and swirl lightly to mix.

Basic couscous

I'm always looking for the amount of liquid to add to plain couscous, so I can make my own without resorting to those boxed mixes. This is a good basic recipe, and then you can add whatever you want to it.

from Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything"

3 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 c. couscous
2 1/4 c. chicken, beef or vegetable stock, warmed
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
Minced fresh parsley for garnish (I left out this, because I wanted to use the couscous as a base)

Place 2 Tbsp. butter in a medium saucepan and turn the heat to medium low. When it melts, add the couscous and cook, stirring, until it is coated with butter, about 1 minute.
Add the stock all at once, along with the salt. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to its minimum. Cover and cook until all the liquid is absorbed, 5-8 minutes.
Pour the couscous into a large serving bowl and stir in remaining butter with a fork, fluffing the couscous and breaking up any lumps. Add pepper and more salt if needed, garnish, and serve.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Broiled (or grilled) whole red snapper

This is in Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything," which is a fantastic cookbook. I borrowed Gwen's for a few days, and had to go out and buy my own when I had to give hers back. I'm definitely a Bittman convert now.
Because Bittman has so many variations on his recipe, you can use this for any firm-fleshed fish. We had snapper in the freezer, so that's what I used. Don't be afraid of a whole fish -- the fish counter will clean it for you (have them scale it, take the head off, clean the inside out, but leave the skin) and it's very good.
Okay, the recipe. My note (addition) in parenthesis.

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 white wine or dry sherry
salt and pepper
(granulated garlic)
rosemary (dried or fresh)

Mix the oil, white wine, salt and pepper and the garlic in a bowl. Put the fish in the marinade and let it sit in there (turn it over a few times) while you heat the broiler or the grill. (if you're using a broiler, oil the broiler pan a little before putting the fish on)
Sprinkle rosemary on top of fish, once it's on the broiler pan. Broil for 5-6 minutes on each side, basting with the marinade.

That's it, really. And it smells really good. Now, the skin will blacken in spots. That's okay, because you're probably just going to pull the skin off, right? (Ernie likes the skin, but Gaby and I do not)

Monday, January 14, 2008

spicy Indian tomato sauce

from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

He has like 72 different things you can serve this with -- the fresh cheese and chickpea dish I semi-used it for, cubes of fried tofu, dipping sauce for flatbread with potato or dosa, etc. etc.

Makes 2 cups.

4 T butter or 1/4 c neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
one 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 T minced fresh chile or hot red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste
2 T garam masala or curry powder
1/2 t chili powder
large pinch sugar
2 c chopped ripe tomato (about 1 lb. whole), preferably peeled and seeded, or drained canned tomatoes
1/2 cream or coconut milk
1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 t cumin seeds
1 t mustard seeds

1. Put 3 T of the butter or oil in a deep skillet over medium0-high heat. When the butter is melted or oil is hot, add onion, garlic, ginger and chile. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in garam masala, chili powder and sugar and sprinkle with salt and pepper; cook and stir until spices become fragrant, a minute or two more.

2. Add tomato and cook, stirring frequently, until it starts to release its liquid, about 3 minutes. Add the cream and cilantro and keep cooking and stirring until the mixture comes to a boil.

3. Turn heat down so the sauce bubbles gently and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomato breaks up and the mixture comes together and thickens, about 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. (The sauce may be made ahead to this point, cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat gently before proceeding.)

4. Put remaining butter or oil in a small pan over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted or the oil is hot, add cumin and mustard seeds and toast them until they begin to pop. Spoon over the sauce just before serving.

Chicken Tagine

This recipe for the classic Moroccan dish is from Betty Crocker's cookbook. The list of ingredients is a bit daunting, but there's nothing too unusual, just lots of spices. This would probably adapt really well to a crockpot, too, which would bring out the flavours of the spices more.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 chicken breasts or thighs
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I used 1tsp dried because I didn't have any fresh on hand and it was fine)
1 tsp ground cumin*
1 tsp ground turmeric*
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
1 cinnamon stick (I just used 1 tsp ground cinnamon)
1 cup chicken broth
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup dried plums, cut into bite-sized pieces (I didn't have any so left these out)
1/2 cup pitted whole green olives
1 small lemon, cut into forths (I found this was too much lemon and will probably use half a lemon in future)
(I added a small handful of almonds as well just because it seemed like a good idea, and it was nice)

*Next time I will probably add slightly more turmeric and cumin and maybe a bit more cilantro because the spices seemed a bit too subtle. Still good, though.

Hot cooked couscous or rice

1. In 4 quart dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Place chicken in hot oil; add onion and garlic. Cook 6-10 minutes, turning chicken occasionally, until chicken is brown on all sides.

2. Reduce heat to medium. Sprinkle herbs and spices over chicken. Pour in broth and tomatoes. Turn chicken several times to coat evenly. Add plums, olives and lemon, pressing into liquid around chicken. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer about 30 minutes or until juice of chicken is clear.

3. Remove chicken to deep serving platter and cover to keep warm (I just left the chicken in the sauce). Boil sauce for about 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Pour sauce over chicken and serve with couscous or rice.

Pork Tenderloin with Mascarpone and Sage

One of my friends cooked this for me a couple of years ago, and it was gorgeous. We're having it for dinner tonight, and I hope it will be equally as good. It's very easy to make as well. The fresh sage is best, though dried would work too. The recipe is from and serves 4.

2 x 225g Pork Tenderloin
250g tub Mascarpone cheese
Rind and juice of 1 large lemon
1/2 punnet fresh sage, chopped or Freeze Dried Sage
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
80g packet Parma Ham
Sage leaves to garnish

  1. Cut incisions along the pork tenderloins, approximately 1.25cm apart, from the top to the bottom, but do not cut all the way through.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the mascarpone, lemon rind, sage and seasoning.
  3. Fill the pockets with half of the mascarpone mixture, then wrap the pork with Parma ham.
  4. Place the tenderloins in a small roasting tin and roast in a preheated oven 200ºC, gas mark 6, for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove the tenderloins and allow to stand while making the sauce. Place the roasting tin over a medium heat and add the remaining mascarpone mixture with the lemon juice. Stir until well combined and heated through.
  6. Cut the pork into slices, pour the sauce over the top and garnish with sage leaves.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

baked chickpeas with fresh cheese and spinach

from Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything Vegetarian

This recipe uses Bittman's Spicy Indian Tomato Sauce, the recipe for which is also in this book, but it was too time-consuming the night I wanted to make this. (The rest of the recipe takes about one second to assemble.) I wound up sort of cribbing from the sauce recipe: I took store-bought tomato sauce, heated it in a pan and added some coconut milk to thin it out. I put in some curry powder, masala spices, chili powder and fresh cilantro. It was delicious, but probably not as good as it would be with the full recipe. Some manipulation is definitely necessary, I think -- I thought about using plain tomato sauce but I think the dish would have been too bland without the spices.

I'm going to transcribe the recipe with the spinach that I used -- it's one of his million variations.

In place of the paneer, you can use tofu, feta cheese, farmer cheese or queso fresco. Serve with biryani, Indian flatbread or baked potatoes. (I just ate it plain.)

4 T melted butter
1 recipe Spicy Indian Tomato Sauce (or just... some tomato sauce)
4 c cooked or drained canned chickpeas
1 1/2 c cubed fresh cheese
1/2 c fresh cilantro or parsley
1 1b. fresh (I used frozen) spinach blanched, squeezed dry and chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 400. Use a T or so of the butter to greatse a two-quart souflee dish or a 9x13-inch baking dish. Make sure the tomato sauce is warm.

2. Spread the tomato sauce in the dish and spread the spinach evenly around on top. Spoon the beans on top. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Spread the cheese cubes around evenly, pressing them into the sauce and beans a bit. Drizzle with the remaining butter.

3. Bake until the sauce is bubbly and the tops of the cheese and beans have browned a bit, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with cilantro and a few more grinds of black pepper.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Oven fried chicken tenders

from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook Celebrating the Promise

1 egg, beaten
3 Tbsp. milk
1 1/4 c. crushed cornflakes or finely crushed rich round crackers (about 35 crackers)
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 black pepper
a few shakes of granulated garlic (my own addition)
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders

In a small bowl, combine egg and milk. For coating, in a shallow dish, combine crushed cornflakes, thyme, paprika, salt, garlic and pepper; stir in melted butter.
Dip tenders, one at a time, into egg mixture; coat with crumb mixture.
Place tenders in a single layer on a baking pan. Bake, uncovered, in a 400 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink. Do not turn tenders while baking.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Fettuccine alla carbonara

Richie and Sylvia bought me a new cook book for Christmas, by virtue of the fact that this one had a huge pink ribbon on the front of it and a portion of the proceeds benefited a breast cancer charity.
In any case, it's a nice one, and I thumbed through it a few weeks ago, picking out some recipes I wanted to try. This was the first one, and it was really good. I think we'll be adding it to the rotation (just not too often, as it does have both cream and egg in it).

from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook Celebrating the Promise

6 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 oz. dried fettuccine or linguine
1 egg, beaten
1 c. half-and-half, light cream or milk
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1/2 c. Parmesan or Romano cheese
1/4 snipped fresh parsley
Black pepper

Cook bacon until crisp; drain.
Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and keep warm.
Meanwhile, for sauce, in a saucepan combine egg, half-and-half and butter. Cook and stir over medium heat until egg mixture just coats a metal spoon (about 6 minutes); do not boil. Immediately pour sauce over pasta; stir gently to coat.
Add cooked bacon, Parmesan cheese, and parsley; stir gently to combine. Season with pepper. Serve immediately.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Peanut butter and jam thumbprints

from Cooking Light, Dec. 2007

2 cups all-purpose flour (about 9 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cooking spray
7 tablespoons seedless raspberry preserves
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and salt, stirring well with a whisk; set aside.

Place sugars, peanut butter, and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture to sugar mixture, beating on low speed just until combined.

Lightly coat hands with cooking spray. Shape dough into 36 balls (about 2 1/2 teaspoons each). Place balls 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Press thumb into center of each dough ball, leaving an indentation. Cover and chill 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Uncover dough. Bake at 350° for 14 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove cookies from pans, and cool on a wire rack.

Place preserves in a small microwave-safe bowl, and microwave at HIGH 20 seconds, stirring once. Add juice, stirring until smooth. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon preserves mixture into the center of each cookie.

Corn and crab chowder

I must admit I'm in a bit of a food rut these days -- it's easy to just throw together the same few dishes I know always turn out well. But it's boring, and I quickly get tired of cooking that way.
Last week I got myself out of the rut by making this soup, which was quick to pull together and pretty tasty.
In the coming weeks I'll be thumbing through my cookbooks (I got two new ones for Christmas this year) and challenging myself, once again, to try three new recipes a week. We'll see how it goes.
Where do you turn when you're in a food rut? (other than here, of course) Which blogs do you read to find inspiration?

This soup could easily be made without the crab, or you could substitute chicken, if you like, I think.

from Gourmet, January 2008

1 16-ounce bag frozen petite white corn (do not thaw), divided
1 cup low-fat (1%) milk
1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
4 tablespoons sliced green onions, divided
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger, divided
4 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, divided
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
4 ounces cooked crabmeat, flaked

Reserve 1/4 cup corn. Bring remaining corn and milk to boil in medium saucepan. Cover; remove from heat. Let stand 10 minutes. Puree mixture in blender. Add clam juice, 3 tablespoons green onions, and 1 teaspoon ginger; puree again until almost smooth. Return puree to saucepan; bring to simmer. Mix in 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
Melt butter in small skillet over medium heat. Add reserved 1/4 cup corn; sauté 1 minute. Add crab, 1 tablespoon green onions, 1 teaspoon ginger, and 3 teaspoons lemon juice; stir just until warm. Season with salt and pepper. Divide soup among bowls; mound crab mixture in center.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Peanut Butter (Chocolate) Rice Crispy Bars

from All-New Complete Cooking Light Cookbook

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon butter
1 (10-1/2 ounce) bag miniature marshmallows
6 cups oven-toasted rice cereal (such as Rice Krispies)
cooking spray
3/4 cup peanut butter chips (I substituted chocolate chips, which I had on hand)

1. Combine peanut butter and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH 30 to 45 seconds or until mixture melts. Add marshmallows; microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until smooth, stirring every 30 seconds. Add cereal to peanut butter mixture, toss until well combined. Press cereal mixture into a 13x9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. (Test kitchen tip: The cereal mixture is very sticky, so coat your hands with cooking spray before pressing it into the pan.)

2. Place peanut butter (chocolate) chips in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH 20 to 30 seconds or until chips melt. (If using chocolate, follow melting instructions on the package.) Spoon melted chips into a small heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag; seal. Snip a tiny hole in one corner of the bag; drizzle melted chips over cereal mixture. Cool slightly; cut into 24 bars.

Yield: 2 dozen (serving size: 1 bar)

Calories 118 (30% from fat)
Fat 3.9g (sat 1.3g; mono 1.5g; poly 0.8g)
Protein 2.6g
Carb 19g
Fiber 0.7g
Chol 1 mg
Iron 0.4 mg
Sodium 93 mg
Calc 9 mg