Monthly Archives: October 2009

Oven-baked frittata-like thing

Demonstration of creating something out of nothing–a very humble creation, but a wholesome meal.

Was hungry tonight and didn’t have anything planned. I scouted the fridge and discovered various still fresh leftovers. I had steamed broccoli as well as steamed brown rice. I set out to make a frittata, but it turned out there was too much broccoli and rice and with six eggs I ended up with a very thick mixture that wouldn’t do well on the stove top so I figured I would bake it into a casserole. I added a few other things as well.

This was a super easy, fast preparation. If you’re so inclined I would first saute an onion and some fresh garlic and toss that in too. I simply was going for fast and easy though so I skipped that.

frit_cass

Here are the whole list of ingredients:

  • 3 cups cut up steamed broccoli
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup plain sheep milk yogurt
  • 3/4 cup sheep milk pecorino cheese grated
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbls garlic powder
  • Salt

Put into baking dish and bake until browned.

Bourbon marinated pork on the grill

Once again this post was inspired by Tina. I had never made a bourbon marinade. I used a few of the ingredients from Tina’s recipe but then did my own thing once I cruised around the net looking at variations. The meat I used was not tenderloin either. As I eat natural and organic meats I tend to buy cheaper cuts in order to maintain affordability. This is a pork butt that I sliced up. It’s good and we get it a lot. Certainly use tenderloin if you’ve got it!

marinade

Ingredients: (double up for larger amounts of meat)

  • 1/4 cup bourbon (I used Jim Beam)
  • 1/4 cup tamari (soy sauce is fine, I use tamari as it’s wheat free)
  • 2 tbls pureed garlic (I pureed a ton of fresh garlic and froze it, nice and convenient)
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 tbls prepared mustard (the condiment in the fridge, I used a nice seeded natural mustard)
  • 1 tsp sage

I mixed it all up and put the meat in it and mushed it around.

Now I have a gadget to share with you all. It’s a great toy for the foodie! It’s a marinater that one can get all the air out of. It creates a vacuum and forces the marinade into the meat in a fraction of the time. It’s wonderful!

My husband is the hand model!

My husband is the hand model!

Anyway, this marinade thingy is one of my favorite kitchen items. It means you can get away with thinking about dinner that involves a marinade on much less notice than if you don’t have one. It deeply and richly marinates in much less time. So I marinated about 4 hours. Without it you might do twice that.

I used my little Foreman Grill which I totally love even though I feel like it’s a bit of a cheat machine.

meat

I thought this was amazingly delicious, but in the interest of full disclosure my husband was not as impressed. Not sure what the deal was on that difference of opinion. My husband thought it was good, but not like I did. I was ecstatic. Anyway he and I have never had the same taste in food. He is British and I’m Italian. Our culinary experience growing up was vastly different. We do have lots and lots of crossover though and he is my favorite person to cook for, so I was a bit disappointed that he didn’t enjoy this as much as I did.

Lamb shanks in tomato and rosemary with polenta

I’ve been wanting to do this meal since Tina did her Nigella lamb shanks. I actually went out and bought a lamb shank that very day and cooked it up, but I had no polenta in the house which is what I had wanted to plate it with. I ate it that night but chose not to do a post until I could serve it with polenta which is what I really wanted to do that night.

I got both lamb shanks and polenta today. The first variation of this dish had carmelized onions and white wine rather than red. I thought that combination made the dish too sweet so this time I left the onions out and used red wine. Otherwise the recipe is the same, but I thought it was far superior this time. It was really really delicious!

Lamb is often served with sweet things so if the first variation appeals to you, it was nice too and I would recommend it for those who like sweetness in their savory food. I simply preferred the version I made tonight.

The lamb:

  • Two (huge–just because that is all my store had, I would rather have gone with four small shanks) lamb shanks
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 8 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • salt to taste
Just braised with garlic

Just braised with garlic

Braise the lamb on high with the garlic cloves until browned on both sides. Add all the rest of the ingredients. I covered it for most of the time, but needed to uncover and let the sauce cook down quite a bit at the end so that it would be thick enough.

The polenta:

  • 1 cup of dry polenta — make according to instructions and add
  • 4 oz cheese (optional)
  • Salt to taste
huge plate o' lamb shank that no one human being could ever eat in one sitting

huge plate o' lamb shank that no one human being could ever eat in one sitting

I took this photo after we had eaten dinner and so the polenta is a bit lumpy as it had already congealed. It’s much tastier and delightful when it’s hot and thick and goopy. Looks nicer too.

Red wine poached apples

apples

Last night I was in one of my relatively rare moods for dessert. We never have much in the house for dessert so when one of these cravings strikes I need to be rather creative. What I made was a brandied poached apple. I didn’t photograph it, but it was so good I wanted to do something like it again tonight for the blog.

I figured I’d use red wine the second time around. As you can imagine the aesthetics are much nicer. I do think I liked the flavor with the brandy poached apples better, but heck, you can’t beat this beautiful red color. It makes for a very nice thing to serve guests, I think. And though the brandy perhaps does win in flavor it’s not by all that much. These were darn good too.

So, this is so easy.

2 apples cored and cut in half (I left peels on as I like them and they are good for us, but do as you prefer)

3/4 cup red wine

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

2 tsp honey

1/4 cup of chopped walnuts

Put the apples face down in the wine and spices in as small a pot as will take all the apples. The deeper the wine the better. If you don’t have a snug pot increase the amount of wine just a bit. You can adjust all the flavors to your liking, as well. Most people would probably want to add more honey.

So bring it all to a boil and then put it on low until the apples are soft. Let cool for a bit and then serve with chopped walnuts sprinkled on top.

Lentil and hemp seed loaf

hemp

I like to experiment with everything and the day has come to experiment with hemp seed. I’ve used hemp protein powder for quite a while now and I’ve been fascinated with hemp in general for a long time. It’s an incredible versatile plant and the hulled seeds are delicious and nutritious. They even have all the essential amino acids just like meat and that makes them markedly different from other plant proteins.

Up until recently I’d only tried them in specialty shops and they were very expensive and roasted and flavored. Recently as I look for other forms of protein to try to limit my use of animals I bought a large 3 lb bag of raw hulled hemp seeds. They arrived in the mail and they are very very tiny and taste a wee bit like sunflower seeds. I like them plain just fine, but they are so tiny it’s not like eating other seeds or nuts. They would be yummy in a salad just nice and raw like that and I’ll be thinking about what else I might do with them now too.

Today, though I made a lentil/hemp loaf. I’ve made vegetarian nut loafs for my husband a number of times. Apparently they are popular in Britain and he grew up there. I’d never had or made one until I married him, and so the idea comes from the nut loaves I’ve made. They are essentially a vegetarian variant on meat loaf.

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked lentils

1 cup hemp seeds

3/4 cup pecorino cheese

3/4 cup oats soaked in plain kefir for a couple of hours (enough kefir to just cover the oats — you can use milk too)

1 large onion diced

5 cloves garlic

1/2 cup pesto

4 eggs

1 tbls red chili flakes

Salt to taste

Saute onions and garlic and then combine all the above ingredients and mix well. Put into a loaf pan or small casserole dish. I don’t currently have a loaf pan so I’ve been using a small casserole dish for my loafs, meat or veggie. I have to get a loaf pan!

lent_hemp

So I wrote the above while the loaf was cooking. I, again, failed to notice how long it took but it simply ended nice and golden brown like the picture and the texture was nice too. Not heavy or wet or anything. I was not initially thrilled with the taste. My husband’s comment was, “It tastes like nut loaf.” I topped mine with some hot sauce and by the time I was finished eating my piece I was thoroughly enjoying it! I suppose if I make it again and I imagine I will, I will put more thought into spicing it up somehow, but really it wasn’t bad at all and I will enjoy the leftovers.

Well, this has grown on me. I thought leftovers would be tomorrow, but I had a second helping tonight. It’s good.

Festive roasted root veggies

Before cooking

Before cooking

I found the recipe that inspired this dish by following Dr. Weil on Twitter. He tweeted this recipe. I pretty much did exactly what he suggested but I only used some of the veggies he suggested. I didn’t include potatoes, as I accidentally used all of them for the potato soup I made and then I forgot the carrots.

The yellow veggie is a beet. I didn’t use red beets.

This is what I did:

2 turnips

5 small parsnips

1 super large golden beet

1 very large red onion cut into 6 large pieces and divided up some

a few sprigs of rosemary

12 cloves of garlic (which I cooked with the veggies from beginning to end unlike Weil’s recipe)

Salt and black pepper to taste

Olive oil to taste

Balsamic vinegar to taste

I mixed everything but the balsamic up at the beginning and then roasted the whole thing in a roasting pan. I added the balsamic towards the end of the roasting time. I’m sorry but I didn’t notice how long it took, maybe and hour or an hour and a half.

root

Potato soup

1pot

This is a variation on a soup I made a lot many years ago. A friend of mine gave me the idea. I don’t remember making it since I’ve moved to North Carolina from California and I’ve been here seven years. I used to make it all the time! In any case the reason I finally made it again is because Wandering Coyote and then Bob both made similar soups recently. Wandering Coyote’s blog is here.

In any case I, as usual did my own thing today and did something different from both Wandering Coyote, Bob and my own variation from the past.

  • 6 medium sized red potatoes washed and cut up but not peeled (potato peels are very good for you and I happen to think they add flavor too. Red skins are also pretty)
  • 1 large onion
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 48 oz vegetable stock
  • 1 lb low fat cottage cheese (get creative here. I’ve used fresh goat cheese instead, also)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

I threw all the ingredients except the cottage cheese into a pot with the stock. I cut the potatoes and onions in fourths. Garlic went in whole but peeled, of course. I took the rosemary leaves off the stems. I boiled everything until the potatoes were just starting to fall apart.

I let it all cool for a bit and then pureed the whole shebang in a blender while adding the pound of cottage cheese.

OMG!! Why in hell did I take so long to make this again…it’s heavenly! I couldn’t stop eating it. Thanks WC and Bob for putting it back in my head.

2pot

Coconut, lemon chicken

coco

This recipe was inspired by a recipe a friend emailed to me. It’s right here. The blog it comes from is quite delightful as well. It looks fantastic and suggests several possible variations. Generally when I get an idea I look up on google and enter the main ingredients of a dish and then I look at 4 or 5 or 6 recipes to come up with whatever I do. In this instance it was only this one recipe so it’s easy to link to it. I’m never without a source of inspiration though, whether it’s a memory from childhood, a cookbook or google at my fingertips.

Ingredients of my variation:

3 large chicken leg quarters cut in pieces and skinned

1 tbls coconut oil

1 – 14 oz can coconut milk

1 large bunch of cilantro cut coarsely

10 large garlic cloves peeled and smashed

Lemon zest from two lemons

Juice of one lemon

2 tbls grated fresh ginger

2 large jalapeño peppers, sliced round

Steamed brown rice

Brown chicken pieces and garlic in the coconut oil. (I use coconut oil in many things these days and I’m learning to switch to it for all my high heat cooking. It’s possible to get very mild flavored coconut oil, which I have yet to get a hold of, so I’ve not made the switch entirely)

Once it’s nice and brown put in all the rest of the ingredients and turn to a low simmer. Cook until meat is coming off the bone a bit. Serve over rice.

coco3

I just ate this. Wrote the above while it was cooking. It was very very good. I would make one change since I like heat. I would use a hotter variety of chili instead of the jalapeños. I didn’t taste any heat at all. The sauce was still very good and the house smelled delightfully lemony while it was cooking.

Fancy mac and cheese

This is another dish that I do very many variations on. I like the cabbage and onion, but then I do all sorts of variations on the cheese. I use cottage cheese or plain yogurt for example along with a mix of real cheeses sometimes. This was today’s version.

1cass

Ingredients

  • 1 small cabbage sliced in relatively small pieces
  • 2 onions diced
  • 8 oz Quinoa pasta shells (that link is just to show you the brand. It’s available in most health food stores. I’ve gotten questions addressed to me off the blog about gluten-free pasta) you can of course use any pasta you want to use for this recipe.
  • 6 oz soft goats cheese
  • 3/4 cup sheep milk grated pecorino
  • salt and pepper to taste

Saute cabbage and onion until very soft. Let cool for a while. Add goats cheese, pecorino, salt and pepper and three eggs.

Boil the pasta (this can be done while you are sauteing the veggies. Cook the pasta VERY al dente as it will be baking with other ingredients and can finish cooking in the oven. This helps avoid it getting too mushy.

Once the pasta is drained, mix it in with the veggies, cheese and eggs.

Turn it all into a casserole pan and cook at 350 until browned.

2cass

To clarify: I used a green cabbage and you really can’t tell by looking at the pic how much there is. There is quite a lot. The onions I used were red. You can use any onion and cabbage as you prefer.

Chicken soup

I make many variations of this soup. The last time I made it I used spinach instead of beans. The carrots and celery are standard as I sorta feel like it’s not really chicken soup without lots of celery and carrot. I often add canned diced tomatoes as well, or a can of tomato sauce. That’s real nice actually. Since I freeze the leftovers, I sometimes leave out the tomato in the parent soup and then add a small can of tomato to one of the frozen batches.

The large pot below is after my mom,my husband and I have had a couple of bowls each. So this is a BIG recipe.

pot

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken
  • enough chicken or vegetable stock to just cover chicken
  • 2 large onions diced
  • 1 bunch of celery sliced
  • 5 carrots sliced
  • 4 cups green beans
  • 2 tbls celery seed
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 cups steamed brown rice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Skin then boil chicken in stock for approximately 2 hours or until it’s falling apart a bit. Take out chicken to cool in a bowl.
While chicken is boiling chop the veggies and saute in your favorite oil/fat while covered. (Leave the beans out until the end) Add the herbs and spices to the veggies while they are cooking.

Once the chicken has cooled take the meat off the bones and cut the meat up in small shredded pieces. Mix the veggies, the broth and the chicken all together. Add the beans and bring to a boil. (I don’t like my beans cooked to death, like the carrots and the celery) Also add the steamed brown rice at this point. Once the beans are tender it’s ready.

bowl