Monday, June 20, 2011

Spaghetti with Mushrooms, Garlic & Parsley

Father's Day 2011 recipe #2.

Lidia once convinced me to make guazzetto, so she has some pretty significant persuasive powers. This is a much simpler recipe.

I made fresh pasta yesterday. It was not a rip roaring success, but nonetheless it still had the texture and flavor of fresh pasta and the sauce was so delicious that I'm still pleased with the results.

Here's an extra treat - Lidia helping Mo Rocca make his Italian grandmother's raviolis. They are both completely adorable. Let me tell you how my dough passing through my roller did not look remotely as pretty as hers but I'll keep trying.

1 lb spaghetti
1/4 C olive oil
8 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 1/2 lb assorted mushrooms, cleaned and sliced/gently chopped/hand torn [I used portobello and oyster]
freshly ground black pepper
8 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 C veg/chicken stock
1/4 C Italian parsley, chopped

1 C freshly grated Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese

Makes 6 servings.

Bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil in an 8 quart pot over high heat.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Scatter the garlic over the oil and cool, shaking the pan, until golden, about 2 min. Add as many of the mushrooms as will fit comfortably in the skillet. Season lightly with salt and pepper and toss in the sage. Add the remaining mushrooms as the mushrooms in the skillet wilt and make room. Cook, stirring and tossing frequently, until the mushrooms are sizzling and brown, about 10 minutes. (If the mushrooms have given off a lot of water during cooking, you'll have to wait for that liquid to boil off before the mushrooms begin to brown.)

Stir the spaghetti into the boiling water. Return to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook the pasta, semi-covered, stirring occasionally, until done, until about 8 minutes.

Add the stock to the browned mushrooms, bring to a boil, and lower the heat so the sauce is at a lively simmer. Cook until the liquid is reduced by about half, about 5 minutes.

Af the skillet is large enough to accommodate the sauce and pasta, fish the pasta out of the boiling water with a large wire skimmer and drop it directly into the sauce in the skillet, If not, drain the pasta, return it to the pot, and pour in the sauce. Toss in the parsley and bring the sauce and pasta to a boil, stirring gently to coat the pasta with sauce. Check the seasoning, add salt and pepper if necessary. Remove the pot from the heat, stir in the cheese, and serve immediately in warm bowls.

Eggplant Parmigiana (Melanzana Alla Parmigiana)

We made Lidia Bastianich's Eggplant Parmigiana for the Italian papa for Father's Day. It's taken me a long time to get used to this book. Her recipes are written in very differently from other cookbooks I've used. One result of this is that you really can't skim; you have to read thoroughly. I've gotten myself in trouble a few times because I thought I had read and understood it. I bought the ingredients, chosen the day to try it, started cooking for a hungry husband or family and THEN came to the line about "let it rest/chill/roast for 3 days," and/or "make the other super-complicated sauce on pg 97 and use that for this recipe." The thoughtfulness and care is reflective of the kind of food she makes and it's a nice challenge. I also like that she always generously includes some tips for assembly or finishing touches that we would have to spend decades being Italian grandmothers to figure out for ourselves.



When I bake and fry things like these slices of eggplants, I make a little assembly line that leads from the flour to the eggs, on to the breadcrumbs and right into the pan of hot oil. Placing three rectangular cake pans side by side next to the stove works nicely—there is very little cleanup afterwards—but any container wide enough to hold several slices of eggplant at a time will work just as well.

This dish can be made with roasted eggplant slices instead of breaded and fried eggplant. Although it will be good, it will not be as tasty nor will it have the texture of the fried eggplant. The roasted version is very simple: drain and rinse the eggplant as described above, but instead of coating the eggplant slices, toss them with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Brush a baking sheet with olive oil, and set the eggplant slices side by side on the baking sheet. Bake them in a 450° F preheated oven for 20 minutes till they are golden brown. Let them cool and proceed to layer and bake the ingredients as above.


3 medium eggplants or 5 to 6 smaller eggplants about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds total
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon Salt
2 cups all purpose flour for dredging
2+ cups fine, dry breadcrumbs
½+ cup olive oil or as needed
½+ cup vegetable oil
your favorite tomato sauce
[I totally used a jar this time, but this is a classic, "see page 97" moment]
2 cups grated reggiano parmigiano cheese
12 basil leaves
1 lb fresh mozzarella or imported fontina cheese, cut into slices 1/3" thick
[you have to cut them thinner, I think, or you will not have enough for
the entire pan]

Measurement Conversion Calculator

Trim the stems and ends from the eggplants. Remove strips of peel about 1-inch wide from the eggplants, leaving about half the peel intact. Cut the eggplant lengthwise into 1/2-inch thick slices and place them in a colander. Sprinkle with the coarse salt and let drain for 1 hour. Rinse the eggplant under cool running water, drain throroughly and pat dry.

Whisk the eggs and 1 teaspoon salt together in a 13 x 9 inch baking pan or wide, shallow bowl. Spread the flour and breadcrumbs in an even layer in two separate wide, shallow bowls or over sheets of wax paper. Dredge the eggplant slices in flour, shaking off the excess. Dip the floured eggplant into the egg mixture, turning well to coat both sides evenly. Let excess egg drip back into the pan, then lay the eggplant in the pan of breadcrumbs. Turn to coat both sides well with breadcrumbs, pressing with your hands until the breadcrumbs adhere well to the eggplant.

Pour 1/2 cup each of the olive oil and vegetable oils into a medium skillet. Heat over medium-high heat until a corner of the eggplant slices gives off a lively sizzle when dipped into the oil. Add as many of the eggplants slices as fit without touching and cook, turning once, until well browned on both sides, about 6 minutes. Remove the eggplant to a baking pan lined with paper towels and repeat with the remaining eggplant slices.

Adjust the heat as the eggplant cooks to prevent the bits of coating that fall off the eggplant slices from burning. Add the oil to the pan as necessary during cooking to keep level more or less the same.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Heat the tomato sauce too simmering, if necessary, in a small saucepan over medium heat. Ladle enough sauce into a 9x13inch baking dish to cover the bottom. Sprinkle with an even layer of grated cheese and top with a layer of fried eggplant, pressing it down gently.

Tear a few leaves of basil over the eggplant and ladle about 3/4 cups of the sauce to coat the top evenly. Sprinkle an even layer of grated cheese over the sauce and top with a layer of Mozzarella or Fontina, using about one-third of the cheese.

Repeat the layering as described above two more times, ending with a top layer of sliced cheese that leaves a border of about 1 inch around the edges of the baking dish. Drizzle sauce around the border of the baking dish and sprinkle the top layer with the remaining grated cheese. Finish with a few decorative streaks or rounds of tomato sauce. Cover the baking dish loosely with aluminum foil and poke several holes in the foil with the tip of a knife. Bake 30 minutes.

Uncover, and continue baking until the top layer of cheese is golden in spots about 15 minutes. Let rest 10 to 20 minutes, then cut into squares and serve.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

mango soba update

A small note to those of us trying to eat more veg, as Kelly would say... this soba noodle salad is delicious with slaw replacing some or all of the noodles. I made it with just one little bundle of noodles, a whole bag of broccoli slaw, and half a bag of cabbage/carrot mixture, and it's great -- actually provides a delicious crunch and you don't miss the rest of the noodles.

I cooked the chicken in a bit of the marinade, too, and diced it into the salad/noodle/mango mixture for some protein. Yum.

Cranberry-Orange Scones

Adapted From: Annie's Eats and Chukar Cherry Recipes

I wanted to make cranberry-orange scones to serve at the coffee hour at church this morning, but I didn't have the heavy cream called for in Annie's recipe, but I did have plenty of Greek yogurt, so I improvised, recalling the cherry scones recipe that Todd likes to make. I also added a glaze to these scones, because I thought the orange zest was a tad bitter. Perhaps I went too far into the pith with the zester. Anyway, these were very pretty, and everyone loved them.

1½ tbsp. freshly grated orange zest
2½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup plus 3 tbsp. sugar, divided
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
6 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1¼ cups fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
2 large eggs
3/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup milk (or, sub a total of 1 cup heavy cream for the yogurt and milk)
Additional sugar for sprinkling, or make a glaze (see below)

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

In a food processor*, combine the orange zest, flour, ½ cup of sugar, baking powder and salt. Pulse briefly to blend. Add in the cold butter pieces and pulse again briefly until the mixture resembles coarse meal and the butter pieces are no larger than peas. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl.

In a small bowl, toss together the chopped cranberries and remaining 3 tablespoons sugar. Stir this into the flour-butter mixture.

In another small bowl or a liquid measuring cup, combine the eggs, yogurt and milk (or cream); whisk to blend. Add the liquid ingredients to the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir gently with a spatula or wooden spoon just until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Knead gently to be sure the dough is evenly mixed, being careful not to overwork the dough.

Use whatever method you prefer for shaping your scones (ie, pat out into a large rectangle and then cut into squares or triangles, shape into a circle and then slice into triangles, put a biscuit cutter onto the baking sheet and pat the dough into the cutter to make uniform circles, etc). I made drop scones, so I just dropped the dough onto the baking sheet in the size I wanted (I would guess it was around 1/3 cup?) Sprinkle lightly with additional sugar (you can omit the sugar topping if you're going to make a glaze).

Bake in the preheated oven until light golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.

*Note: A food processor is not required for this recipe. You can achieve the same result using a stand mixer, a pastry blender, or even just two knives.

Orange glaze:
I just juiced half of the orange that I zested. Strain out the seeds and pulp. In a small bowl, put a few tablespoons of powdered sugar. Add a few spoonfuls of the orange juice and whisk together. Adjust the amount of sugar or juice to get the glaze consistency that you want. It should be thin enough to drizzle over the scones, but not so thin that it's watery and runs all over the place. Drizzle over scones.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Palak Daal

Like rhubarb crumble-type desserts and enchilada variations, I'm of the mind that we can't get enough daal recipes on this site of ours. I hope I'm not alone. This one is nicely flavorful and LOOK!, Heidi uses the zest AND the juice of the lemon. I like when she keeps it real like that. Lemon in everything, a signature Heidi suggestion, sounds really good to me in the summer.


Spinach can be particularly muddy this time of year it seems. I fill the large bowl from my salad spinner with cold water, place the spinach in the basket the place it into the bowl of water. Swish the leaves around a bit to loosen any dirt. Drain and repeat. This usually does the trick. I use the same approach with kale and leeks as well. As far as peppers go, I used serrano chile peppers here, and used a pure red chile powder made from a mildly spicy red pepper, not cayenne in this case, I suspect that would be a bit on the too spicy side...but if that is all you have, adjust to what tastes good to you. I skipped the asafetida, but if you have it on hand, start with a pinch. Leftevers were delicious reheated with a generous splash of coconut milk. And lastly, if you are having trouble tracking down white urid daal / ivory lentils, feel free to experiment with other types of lentils.

1 cup / 6.5 oz / 185 g white urid or urad daal, picked over and rinsed

6 cups / 1.5 liters water, plus more if necessary
1/2 pound spinach, washed and finely chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 medium green chile peppers, minced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon pure red chile powder
a pinch of asafetida, optional
more salt to taste
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

In a large pot over medium-high heat combine the daal and water. Bring to a boil, then add the spinach, ginger, turmeric, 3/4 of the green chiles, and all of the tomatoes. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the lentils are extremely soft. You may need to add a bit more water during the cooking process to keep the lentils soupy. After an hour and a half, stir in the salt.

In a separate pan, heat the butter and cumin and fry until the cumin seeds start to pop. Now add the red chile powder (and asafetida if you're using it) and fry for another 30 seconds. Taste and add more asafetida if you like. Add this butter mixture to the lentils and allow to cook for another five minutes. Taste, and season with more salt if needed. I also enjoyed a touch of lemon juice added at this point. Serve topped with the cilantro and the remaining green chiles.

Serves 4-6 with rice or roti.

Prep time: 20 min - Cook time: 120 min

Okonomiyaki (Japanese Pizza)

Heidi makes this street food recipe. I ate it as-is, no toppings, but that sounds good too. I bet this only cost a couple dollars. I had TJ's bag of sliced leeks in the freezer and I bought a teeny cabbage at the farmer's market on Saturday and only used half of that. I did add a third egg and I'm glad I did. It held together well. File this in the Tortilla Espanola-craving crevice of my brain. I found this recipe much easier and faster than the T.E. I can't seem to get right but once every two years or so.

Leeks are notoriously gritty. To clean them well I typically slice them lengthwise and then submerge them in a big bowl of water - where I rinse and swish them to loosen up any dirt. Drain and repeat if needed. Then chop/slice.

2 cups cabbage, finely shredded
1 cup leeks, well washed and chopped (see head notes)
2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or apf flour)
a couple pinches of fine grain sea salt
2 eggs, beaten
1+ tablespoon olive oil

Garnish: toasted slivered almonds, chives/ herbs

Combine the cabbage, leeks, flour, and salt in a bowl. Toss until everything is coated with a dusting of flour. Stir in the eggs and mix until everything is evenly coated.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add a generous splash of olive oil. Scoop the cabbage mixture into the pan, and using a metal spatula press it into a round pancake shape, flat as you can get it. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the bottom is golden. To flip the okonomiyaki, slide it out of the skillet onto a plate. Place another plate on top and flip both (together) over. If you need a bit more oil in your skillet, add it now, before sliding the okonomiyaki back into the skillet. Again press down a bit with a spatula and cook until golden on this side - another 3 -5 minutes.

When you are finished cooking, sprinkle with toasted almonds and chives, and slide it onto a cutting board to cut into wedges. Enjoy immediately.

Serves 1 - 2.

Quinoa with Currants, Dill, and Zucchini

Summer is a good time to eat Heidi-style. I loved this. Not many others in my house did, so if you're the husband, preschooler daughter or toddler son of a mid-thirties gal, you won't love this as much as your wife/mom did. More leftovers for her!


This is great with crumbled feta. But it's also perfect with thinned-out, salted, plain yogurt. Also, for those of you who are fans of quinoa patties - I made patties out of the leftovers by combining a scant 3 cups of leftovers with 4 beaten eggs, and enough breadcrumbs to thicken things up a bit - 1/2 cup or so. Press with hands firmly into patties, then pan-fry, covered.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch green onions, chopped
3/4 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt
1 cup / 6.5 oz / 185 g quinoa, well rinsed and drained
2 cups water
1/4 cup / 1 oz / 30g dried currants
1 lemon
2 sm-med zucchini, grated on box grater
4 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

feta cheese, crumbled - as much or as little as you like

To make the quinoa, heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add most of the green onions, a pinch of the salt, and cook until the onions soften, just a couple minutes. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring occasionally, until the grains dry out and toast a bit, roughly another 3 minutes. Add the water, the currants, the remaining salt; bring to a boil. Dial back the heat and simmer, covered, until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is just cooked through- 15 minutes or so. Be mindful here, you don't want to overcook the quinoa, and have it go to mush.

While the quinoa is cooking zest the lemon, and squeeze 2 tablespoons of lemon juice into a small bowl.

When the quinoa is cooked, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the zucchini, lemon juice and zest, most of the sesame seeds, and most of the dill. Taste and adjust for salt.

Serve, turned out onto a platter, topped with crumbled feta, and the remaining green onions, sesame seeds, and dill.

Serves 6.

Adapted from the Lemon Quinoa with Currants, Dill, and Zucchini in Maria Speck's Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, published by Ten Speed Press, 2011.

Prep time: 10 min - Cook time: 20 min

Sunday, June 05, 2011

summer tortellini pesto salad

From the Wegmans magazine. I love Wegmans tomato pesto sauce -- which is one of the suggested variations, and which is sort of creamier but has less fat than regular pesto -- but it's kind of hard to go wrong with something like this. And this is one of those recipes where you basically roast/grill any veggies you happen to have on hand; the more variety, the better.

Hard to say exactly how many WW points per serving since I have no idea how big a serving is with all the extra veggies, but I'm going to use 6 points for a cup that has about eight raviolis in it.

1 pkg (20 oz) Italian Classics Six Cheese Tortellini [I used the dried spinach and cheese tortellini the first time; refrigerated whole wheat ricotta and spinach ravioli the second time]
1 red sweet pepper, cored, thinly sliced (about 1 cup) [and green! and yellow.]
1 red onion, peeled, thinly cut (about 3/4 cup) [or Vidalia]
1 small bunch (about 1/2 lb) asparagus, trimmed, cut in 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 pkg (1 pint) grape tomatoes, halved [more is more, as they say. use more.]
[I added some leftover mushrooms and sauteed some spinach, too]
Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp Wegmans Basting Oil, divided [I used regular olive oil]
1 zucchini, trimmed, 1/4-inch dice (about 2 cups)
3 Tbsp pine nuts [I skipped, but I'm sure they're good]
1 pkg (7 oz) Italian Classics Basil Pesto Sauce (Dairy Dept) [or the homemade stuff, or the tomato pesto] [also, you only need about half the jar of pesto... probably about 1/4 c?]
1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce [I just used red pepper flakes]
15 leaves basil, finely sliced

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

  1. Cook pasta per pkg directions; drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
  2. Season pepper, onions, and asparagus with salt and pepper; toss with 1 Tbsp basting oil. Transfer to baking sheet; arrange in single layer. Roast 10-12 min; turn halfway thru cooking time. Remove mixture from baking sheet; set aside.
  3. Season zucchini with salt and pepper; toss with remaining 1 Tbsp basting oil. Transfer to baking sheet; arrange in single layer. Roast 5-7 min, until tender but not browned. Remove from oven. Add to pepper mix; chill 1 hour.
  4. Toast pine nuts in small pan on MEDIUM, 3 min, stirring, until they are slightly toasted (watch carefully). Remove from pan; set aside.
  5. Add tomatoes, pesto, Tabasco sauce, basil, pine nuts, and veggie mix to tortellini in a large bowl; gently mix. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve chilled.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Garlic mashed root vegetables

I got the tiniest little turnips last week from the CSA, and didn't really know what to do with them, so I went looking on WW to see what they had.
This recipe makes 6 servings, and each serving is 2 points each. And it's good.

2 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 medium carrots, peeled and quartered
8 oz butternut squash, peeled and chunked
1 medium turnips (or 4 tiny ones), peeled and chunked
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 c. fat free sour cream
1/2 c. vegetable or chicken broth, warmed

Put all the veg (including garlic) into pan and cover with water, bring to boil. Simmer until veg are tender.
Drain and mash using potato masher. Stir in sour cream and broth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Roasted tomato-green chile salsa

This is my new favorite salsa. Ernie makes it and it's super easy, and it is so, so good.

Best news: fat free salsa (and this qualifies), is 0 WW points. The chips you want to eat it with? Not so much. But the salsa is is a 0 point food.

From The Man, Rick Bayless

1 pound ripe tomatoes
Fresh hot green chiles to taste (we've been using 2 jalapenos, and 2 poblanos)
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1/4 c. finely chopped white onion
1/3 c. loosely packed cilantro
squeeze of lime

Roast the tomatoes on a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler until they're darkly roasted, about 6 minutes. Flip them and roast the other side, 5-6 minutes more will give you splotchy-black and blistered tomatoes that are cooked through -- this is what you want. Cool.
Pull off and discard the blackened skins, cut out hard core where stems were attached.
Roast the chiles and garlic in a dry skillet or on a griddle over medium heat, turning occasionally, until they are soft and darkened in places. Cool, then slip the skins off the garlic.
Either crush teh roasted garlic and chiles to a smooth paste in a mortar or chop them to a near paste in a food processor. For the food processor, add the tomatoes and pulse to achieve a coarse puree.
Scoop the onions into a strainer and rinse under cold water. Shake to remove excess moisture.
Transfer salsa to a bowl, stir in onion and cilantro and season with salt. Add lime if desired.

Blueberry sour cream pie

I found this recipe in the Whole Foods -- our new store has all kinds of recipes hanging from the shelves and near the register.
By my calculations, this was was WW 7 points for one slice. Pie yields 8 slices.

1 c. sour cream (I used reduced fat)
1/2 c. sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pint blueberries
1 frozen 9-inch pie crust, thawed (I used a white crust, but you could use wheat, too)
powdered sugar for garnish (I omitted)

Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, whisk sour cream, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Gently stir in blueberries.
Pour mixture into pie crust and bake 55 to 65 minutes or until custard is slightly puffed and just set in the middle. Allow pie to cool to room temperature. If desired, chill before sprinkling with powdered sugar and serving.