Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ginger Molasses Cookies

by Andrea

I think I came up with this recipe as a hybrid from other recipes last year as a way to sneak in blackstrap molasses on my slightly anemic son. Blackstrap molasses has significant amounts of iron in it. Anyway, they are delicious, and while they are still warm and soft, I will eat them nonstop.



Ginger Molasses Cookies

1 cup sugar
1/4 butter, softened
1/2 cup oil (I use coconut oil)
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses (blackstrap if you can get it)
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or 1 cup white, 1 cup w/w)
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
nutmeg (optional)
cayenne pepper (optional)

Raw sugar (or other large-crystal sugar), for rolling

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cream butter and sugar together, add oil, mix. Add egg, mix. Add molasses, mix. Combine dry ingredients and add gradually to wet ingredients. Stir until combined.

Roll into small balls, then roll 1/2 of the ball in the raw sugar. Place the sugar side up on the cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes.

Cool on a rack. They will get a little crunchier as they cool, but they should be a nice soft texture.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

cheesy corn frittters

This was inspired by red lobster cheddar bay bisquits and a recipe for empanadas i saw on food netwrk yetserday that was made with a corn crust....this dough can be used in many ways, in this case i fried it like an empanada, filled with mashed up baked beans (because kader loves baked beans).

i also made an alternative dough with the last bit, where i added some roasted green chiles and made them into donut holes.

i cant believe how good this was, and i love when i can sneak veggies into a dough and they dont even know or care....

1 cup warm water (hot enough to feel warm but not burn you) 
1 heaping tsp dried yeast
2 tsp sugar

mix these ingredients and leave to proof for 10 minutes, or until foamy. if it never foams your water was too hot or too cold, and you need to start over and adjust. either that or your yeast was bad, although i have been working with the same bag of yeast for a year and its still good.

now add the dry ingredients and corn

1 1/2 cup fine corn meal
3-4 cups white flour
1 SMALL can creamed corn
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp salt

add corn and corn meal and all except the last cup of flour to the dough, a cup at a time, and mix. add more from the last cup if needed, or until you have a workable dough. knead 15 minutes. rise for 1 hour. punch down. now add your mix ins

1/2 cup shredded parmesan
1 cup shredded cheddar
green chiles or whatever else you wish.

knead into the dough about five minutes, or until well mixed. rise again for about 10 minutes.

then, use the dough however you wish.

peace.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Foolproof ALMOND BUTTER CRUNCH (almond roca-ish)

I guarantee you will never make anything so delicious, that is so easy, and requires so few ingredients. at least not a dessert. I am toying with the idea of making more of my own candy clones, in order to control ingredients.

if i cant make it i cant eat it kind of thing....

FYI family members, this is likely what you are getting for christmas if you live near me...


4 sticks salted butter
2 2/3 cups cane sugar (or white sugar)
1/8 cup water
2 cups whole or chopped toasted almonds (or a mixture of the two)
chocolate chips (optional) 

in a large saucepan melt the butter, add the sugar and water. on medium heat, heat the mixture until 300 degrees F on a candy thermometer (the thermometer is not optional). when it reaches 280 degrees watch very carefully because it will shoot up, and if it passes 300 you will have lollipops, or worse.

 Add the almonds to the mixture and stir. pour into a WELL GREASED baking sheet. sprinkle on chocolate chips in whatever quantity you wish (i like just a touch of chocolate). you can also melt chocolate and spread it over the cooled mixture instead. when the mixture has cooled completely, turn it out onto waxed paper. place it in the freezer to make sure chocolate hardens. break into pieces.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Spiced Shrimps (crevettes d'epices)

these are good. so good. i make them pretty often. we all like them, almost too much.... he he.

2 pounds large shrimp
3 tbsp olive oil or other oil
2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp smoked paprika (or regular)
1 tsp garlic powder (or several cloves minced garlic)
1 tsp obion powder
1/2 tsp coriander
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)



heat the broiler with the rack on the second rung. mix the spices with the oil. you can peel the shrimp or leave them unpeeled and have peel and eat going on. toss the shrimp with the spice mixture. spread out on a baking sheet in a single layer. place under the broiler about 10-15 minutes, or until firm. Don't overcook!

you can make scampi this way too, just use butter and garlic instead of spices, and add lemon juice.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hot and Sour

This was an utter accident. I AM NOT CLAIMING THIS IS TRADITIONAL IN ANY WAY!! i was making pot roast and one mistake was fixed by one thing, and another was added...and so on. The reason i call it hot and sour soup is that the broth is so similar. the ingredients, however, are very different. this is a soup so as always, veggies and meats may vary. this was the only broth Yacine ever told me to keep in the freezer for later.

one pot roast
oil for browning
salt

water
2 beef bullion cubes
1/8 cup soy sauce
1 tsp Korean chili paste (sambal olek) or chili paste of choice
1 tbsp sugar
red wine vinegar
celery leaves from a bunch of celery (optional) 

one sliced onion, some mushrooms, bamboo shoots, anything else you wish. scallions would be good instead of onions, and so on.

heat the oil. salt the meat liberally. brown every side very well. i like to see every inch browned until almost crisp. cover with water. simmer on low for 4 hours. add flavorings except vinegar, simmer another half hour. add veggies. one more half hour or until veggies are cooked and meat is falling apart tender. add vinegar, a few splashes at a time, until it is to your liking. add more sugar if needed, or more chili paste. it all depends on what you like.

shred the meat ( it should take nooo effort). serve in the soup or on the side. i made sandwiches with the meat and the soup was a sort of french dip au jus.

miam.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Shepherd's Pie


I just made this dish tonight with all the leftover veggies and potatoes, including one and a half pounds of lean ground beef, a cup of shredded cheddar and paprika to top it off. Here's a complete list of the ingredients:

6-8 medium potatoes, cut in pieces and boiled to be mashed (boil with 2 cloves of garlic and some leek or onion for more flavour)
1 1/2 pounds of lean ground beef fried with olive oil and:
1-2 chopped onions, 1 red pepper, 1/2 cup vegetarian broth (or beef broth); when the meat is browned, add any vegetables left in your fridge (chopped cabbage, corn, peas, carrots, etc.)
Add 2-3 tablespoons of flour to the mixture to thicken it; allow it to cool and spoon it into a baking dish
Mashed potatoes (with a little cream and butter) can be added to cover the top of the meat and veggie mixture. Sprinkle the top with paprika and shredded cheddar and/or mozzarella

Other variations to this recipe:
For some spice, add some cayenne or chili pepper to the meat while cooking.
Fresh dill or parsley can be mixed in with the potatoes when mashing

Saturday, October 24, 2009

easy sausage sandwiches.

I will preface this posting with two points. 1. Since school started for the quarter, My cooking has reduced to what i can make in 30 minutes or less. This is fine, there is a pretty rich lady named Rachael Ray who got rich off this concept. but dont expect a lot of fancy pantsy stuff until winter break. 2. Sandwiches are THE perfect food of all time.

I like this recipe because it has veggies that are so good, you barely know they are veggies.

Italian sausage links (or sausage of choice)
french bread rolls

for the veggies
1 onion, sliced thinly
1 bell pepper, also sliced thinly
about 3 cups shredded cabbage
1 shredded carrot
1/4 cup red wine vinegar (or white wine vinegar, cider vinegar, or rice wine vinegar...you get the point)
salt 
chili flakes (optional and to your taste)

cook the sausage and toast the rolls. if the rolls are not pre-cut, try cutting them almost in half, rather than in half, that way the veggies don't fall all over your lap.

in a deep pan, heat a little oil. add the onion and bell pepper, cook until soft. add the cabbage and continue to cook, tossing occasionaly, until browned and caramelized. add salt, chili flakes and vinegar. cook about 5 minutes more.

assemble sandwiches, two sausages and a big pile of veggies. if you wish you can melt some cheese on top in the broiler. this would also be good without the cabbage, and with roasted or sliced tomatoes. or tomato sauce and cheese. sun dried tomatoes could be good in there. this is why i love sandwiches. they can be anything!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Apple Egg Rolls

Tired of the same old apple pie? Or the same old egg rolls? Try these instead:



Apple Egg Rolls

Wrappers:

1/3-3/4 cups water
1 egg
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt

Beat the egg, mix with water. Combine flour and salt and slowly add 1/3 c of the water and egg mixture. If its too dry, add the water a little at a time until a pliable dough has formed. Knead dough until elastic. Divide into two balls and let rest under damp towel or in a sealed plastic container at least 10 minutes. Divide again into four and roll as flat as you can (or, if you have a noodle maker, use the flat rollers in progressively thinner settings). Cut into squares, fill with apple filling, roll, seal by applying a thin layer of water.

Apple filling:

Several apples, I prefer fujis, galas, or granny smith. Peel and slice.
White Sugar
Brown sugar
Cinnamon
Nutmeg
Salt
2-3 tbsp Flour
Optional:
Raisins, chopped dates

Mix apples and desired amount of sugar, spices, and flour. Sorry I can't be more specific but it depends a lot on how many apples you used and its hard to measure that kind of thing. The secret ingredient here is experience. This would be the same filling you would use for an apple pie.

Fry rolls in oil until golden brown. Sprinkle immediately with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar. If you have leftover egg roll wrappers, cut them into triangles, fry and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar or honey. They are like mini elephant ears.

salmon rice pt 2

by Andrea

So I was hungry today and I decided to make this for lunch just after Jacque posted it (see previous post: Cheesy Salmon Rice w/Artichokes)

But I had some different stuff. Here's what I used:

Jasmine rice instead of regular, vegetable boillion instead of chicken, Alaskan smoked salmon, and frozen peas instead of artichokes, tossed in during the final step so they didn't overcook. I also added a splash of milk to make it more creamy.



So not including the 20 minutes it takes for rice to cook, this took me like 5 or 10 minutes to cook, and was at least as easy (if not easier) than making a box of mac & cheese.

So I suppose if I were to rewrite this recipe for how I cooked it, it would look like this:

1 cup Jasmine rice, cooked with 2 cups vegetable broth
2 Tbsp Butter
3-4 Tbsp milk
1 Cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup frozen peas

Cook rice in broth. Melt butter in pan. Add rice, milk, and cheese. Mix together. Break salmon into chunks (remove skin if desired). Add salmon along with peas to rice mixture. Cook until heated through. No need for salt, pepper only if desired.

Yummmm

Delicious, easy, and it would have been cheap if I hadn't used fancy local smoked salmon. But even with that it was cheap for how good, filling, and nutritious it was. It's also another example of a technique that can be applied with any number of ingredients. Different varieties of fish, either fresh, canned, or smoked, different vegetables, different rice (try long grain brown for an even healthier version), different cheeses, and it can be a side dish or a main dish. You could even use different meat entirelly. I would say its basically the same thing if you used chicken, mushrooms, and swiss cheese. Or cubed pork, brocolli, and monterey jack. Etc etc. I love versatility.

Cheesy salmon rice with artichokes

The baby Shoveled this cheesy concoction in his mouth like there was no tomorrow. and i think the whole dish cost me 4 dollars.

1 cup uncooked rice
1 chicken bullion cube

1 can salmon, no bones or bones removed (tuna is ok too)
1 can artichoke hearts, chopped small
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or other melting cheese of choice)
chopped parsley

cook the rice according to the package, but add the bullion cube. meanwhile mix the remaining ingredients. add the cooked rice and mix well. 

heat a little oil in a frying pan. add the rice and spread out. cook on medium high until the bottom starts to brown. mix and serve.

easy as rice.....

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Chadya coleslaw

This is easy and a great way to make summer when only winter veggies are available.
salad
1/2 head cabbage
1 apple
1/2 cup golden raisins (black is ok but not as pretty)
1 carrot

Dressing 


1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp sweet hot mustard (or any mustard you choose, dijon or spicy brown is good too)
1 tbsp sugar or honey
pinch salt
chop the cabbage in small cubes (like KFC does), shred the carrot, chop the cored and peeled apple into small cubes, add raisins. toss with the dressing. chill until serving time. eat.

easy as coleslaw.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Slow Roasted Tomatoes


Okay, the woman herself, Chadya or Jacque, as I know her, recently did a post on roasted tomatoes. So, why another? Because this style of roasting is a bit different, the tomatoes are slow roasted at 225 for 8-9 hours. That's right, HOURS!!! The flavor is much more intense, similar to sun-dried tomatoes and when covered in good olive oil, can be refrigerated for up to two weeks.

The tomatoes I used were organic red and yellow slicing tomatoes, grown by a farmer about 12 miles from my house. I got them at my local Food Co-op, which is where I buy pretty much all of my produce. I would rather buy local produce, in season, especially tomatoes. Who wants a tomato in January, pale, bland, insipid? So, the next best thing is either can, which I cannot be bothered to do, sun-dry or slow roast. I have had success freezing the tomatoes, but they must be covered in good olive oil and I cannot stress the "good" part enough. You do not have to spend a fortune for extra virgin olive oil, just use something that you would cook with and you will be set. About the only difference after freezing is the tomatoes become a bit mushier, but since they are already fairly mushy after roasting, this is really a non-issue.

Wash and dry tomatoes well, then get out your cutting board and have at it. Slice in half, then place cut side up on a baking sheet. Make sure you use one that has sides as you will be pouring olive oil over the tomatoes and a flat sheet just will not cut it. Make sure there is about 1/2 inch between tomatoes, then drizzle with oil. I like to mince garlic and fresh thyme leaves to top them with, just gives added depth of flavor. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and grated fresh black pepper then place in the oven. I like to do two sheets at a time, then rotate every other hour so they roast evenly.

Be prepared for the entire house to smell heavenly; garlic, thyme and tomatoes slowly roasting is a scent I now relate to the end of summer. This batch took about 8 hours to cook. You can tell when they are done by how the sides have wilted inward and the tomatoes are looking pretty wrinkled on the sides. After they have cooled for a bit, the tomatoes are ready to taste. Take a small bite, feel the crunch of the garlic and the savory tomatoey taste, then right before you swallow, the most intense rush of tomato flavor explodes in your mouth! I can taste it now, so rich and almost sweet, you literally cannot eat just one. I must have had at least four before I could bring myself to stop, at least so I could take a photo. These beauties have been used as a topping on toasted French bread, topped a divine pizza recently made but forgot to take a photo of in my haste to eat, as well as been eaten straight from the bowl. Once you have put them in a container and covered with oil, being in the fridge will make the oil congeal, so just take out how ever many you want and let come to room temperature then enjoy. I think I will have the last two pieces of pizza and enjoy my little bit of summer's bounty.

Cheese Potatoes (or twice baked potatoes)

deeeeeeeliscious. either with or without the bacon is fine.

10-12 baking potatoes
1 1/2 cups sour cream (more if needed)
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 package bacon, cubed and cooked. 
1 stick butter

bake the potatoes until soft. cool enough to handle. slice in half legthwise and scoop out the the potatoes, keeping the skins intact (these are little bowls now). add cheese, sour cream, bacon, and onions. mash with a potato masher and mix well. place a small pat of butter on each potato skin. scoop the potato mixture back into the skins, place on baking sheets, and bake at 425 degrees until they start to brown at the edges.

you can reheat and eat these, so they are great to make in large batches and freeze or bring to lunch. Also they are deeeeeeliscious.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Roasted tomatoes

heat the oven to 425 degrees.

cut roma tomatoes in half, pull out the seeds but not the ribs. sprinkle with salt, pepper, italian seasoning, and a little sugar.

roast until all squishy. if they start to fill up with water tilt the pan until they empty. add a little more sugar at this point if they arent caramelizing....

scoop from the skins (they remove easy) and serve with whatever makes sense (i made mine with spaghetti squash and sauteed mushrooms.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Crab Delisciousness

I usually try to keep crab simple, and enjoy the flavor for itself. recently, however, I have discovered that I can buy a pound of crab claw meat for $9.99 at winco, and have been experimenting a little. I win.

I have no pictures but imagine a golden toasty puff pastry empanada, with crispy slivers of parmesan on top, surrounding a rich creamy crab filling.

1 16 oz can crabmeat (good quality)
2 tbsp chive and onion flavored cream cheese
3 tbsp ricotta
2 tbsp butter, melted
pinch salt

2 sheets puff pastry
Parmesan cheese, grated

mix the top five ingrediets well. lay out the puff pastry sheets and cut each one in 4 squares. spoon 2 heaping tablespoons in the middle. fold over into a trangle, pinch the corners together with a fork and cut two slits in the top. sprinkle parmesan on the top. bake at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, or until puffy and golden.

serve warm or cold.

these are so easy. i made the filling really quickly before i left for school, then baked them up as soon as i got home.

mix the top 4 ingredients

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Brown sugar Bourbon apple filling.


I cant  really give you a recipe for this, just an ingredient list. I start with the apples and just keep adding stuff until it is like i want. (by tasting!). Its simple. and great. this is the best i have ever made, and its because i ran out of white sugar, and had to use brown. then halfway through i though the bourbon would add an extra layer of caramel-like depth to it. yum.

apple selection is important. mine came straight from the farm and they are not granny smiths. granny smith has its place but a good quality apple is key here. when i tasted the finished product, the flavor of one of the highest rated apples came through and socked me in the face...

9-10 pounds firm apples.( i used honeycrisp)
cornstarch
brown sugar
bourbon
salt
cinnamon
nutmeg

let this cook for long enough for the alcohol to cook out, and the sugar to start to smell like caramel. remember to mix the apples and cornstarch with some sugar before starting the heat so you dont get clumps.

I canned these in quart jars to save for a cold winter day....

Friday, September 25, 2009

Coconut Scrimps


Coconut shrimp.

Set up your dredging station.
1 bowl flour
1 bowl beaten egg
1 bowl shredded coconut
1 pan of oil for shallow frying, hot.

grab the tail, dip the shrimp in the flour, then the egg, then coat with coconut. fry on each side until golden.

dipping sauce.

1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
1/8 cup pineapple juice

you can dip or you can pour it on the shrimp if you serve immediately.

easy and way cheaper than a restaurant that serves you 8 shrimp for 8 bucks. yuck.

breakfast cookies

Because my baby loves oatmeal, he loves to eat half and throw the other half on the floor and use it to paste his shirt to his belly.

2 cups oatmeal
1 cup flour
1 stick melted butter
2 smashed bananas
1 cup applesauce
1/4 cup honey 
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
a handful of raisins or other dried fruit
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch nutmeg

mix wet ingredients. add dry ingredients. stir until combined. dump on a cookie sheet and spread it thin. bake 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until firm. cool. slice into bars. you can also make these drop cookies.


i kept the directions simple to emphasize this is a recipe made to simplify.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

French Onion Soup

I cannot believe how easy this is. I catagorize this along with curry, sushi, and other dishes i thought were a restaurant secret that i could never cook at home, yet when i tried, i found they are some of the easiest recipes i can make. MAKE THIS when you have an onion surplus, as i do now after buying too many at the farms yesterday....

I also LOVE french onion soup bowls, and collect them. so i am glad i finally can use them for their intended purpose.

about 8 onions (i used a mix of red and yellow, for interest)
olive oil
2 tbsp butter
4 beef bullion cubes (i like knorr brand) or 4 cups beef broth
1/2 cup white wine
crusty french bread (i found some pre sliced bruschetta sized)
1 clove garlic
sliced swiss cheese

and thats it. first, coat the bottom of the soup pan with a liberal amount of olive oil. heat and fry the slices of bread, making a crouton, until golden on both sides. set aside. slice the onions and add them to the oil, stir occasionally until they become slightly browned. add wine, 4 cups water (or enough to cover the onions plus an inch), and bullion. cook until onions are soft. while the soup is cooking, peel the garlic clove, take a small piece off the end, then rum on the croutons lightly.

when the soup is done, heat the broiler. fill onion soup bowls, leaving an inch for thr crouton. place two-4 croutons on top, depending on size and thickness. cover with two slices cheese, and place on a baking sheet. place under the broiler until bubbly.


YUM

healthy things my 2 year old will eat.

This is an important catagory. i would like to add "that i can make in minutes" because healthy and easy dont always match, and this is what leads us to do things like...hand baby a frozen waffle and call it good. breakfast is the easiest meal to please with, because breads are always a hit. i think bread has a bad rap, and the RIGHT bread is super nutritious. as an American, i never feel right if i havent had some bread each day.

Breakfast: 
  • French Toast with honey and whole grain bread
  • Peanut Butter Toast with apples or banana's (this works for lunch too)
  • Oatmeal with fresh or dried fruit and milk, sweetened with honey or cider. 
  • Whole Grain Waffles with peanut butter 
  • Quick breads such as zucchini, banana, or pumpkin bread HOME MADE in advance 
  • Breakfast cookies (recipe below) 
Lunch:
  • English muffin or french bread pizza, made by you
  • mashed potato and carrots with boiled egg yolk (sounds boring but kader LOVES it) 
  • PB&J
  • bean burrito  with cheese and tomatoes
  • homemade lentil soup, (make a big batch and freeze in small containers) 
  • cheese toast with tomato slices 
  • cottage cheese with fruit
  • beans and rice 
  • meatballs or meatloaf (make ahead and freeze, take out one or two, reheat, and voila) 
Dinner he eats whatever we are eating, although sometimes adapted to be toddler friendly, such as squished together so he can spoon it up.

Hope that helps, PLEASE, feel free to post your own tips, if you wish.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Chevaux des Anges

yea, thats french for angel hair. like the pasta. spaghetti but thinner. this one is for you andrea, a caper recipe. you can substitute shrimp or any seafood, really.

1.5 pounds scallops (big or little guys)
flour for dusting
lemon pepper
1/2 cup veggie broth (or water and a cube)
1/2 cup white wine or equivalent
2 tbsp capers
1 shallot or onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp butter
oil for browning

sprinkle lemon peppers on the scallops. dust with flour and sear in a little hot oil. remove and add onions, capers and garlic. cook just briefly. deglaze the pan with wine and broth.add butter. return the fish and add cooked agel hair pasta to the pan. mix and serve. VOILA! no pic cause im tired.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

ingredients




I like when my ingredients look like this.



Saturday, September 19, 2009

Lamb Kabobs, Chadya Style

Once again, i dont use a set recipe, just ideas based on the result i want. For this one, i wanted something reminiscent of a gyro, without the whole pressed and salted unrecognizable meat thing. i think this is better. you can serve this with rice and veggies or as a sandwich. I will post it as a sandwich with homemade bread, but you can use store bought pita of course. I'm making this tonight for my husband, who is helping my parents move for the fourth time this week, while fasting. is anyone needs a hearty meaty meal, its this guy.

for the sandwiches 

1/2 leg of lamb roast, cut in 1 inch cubes (beef will do too)
1 tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1 tsp paprika (smoked or sweet)
pinch cloves
pinch salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 tbsp olive oil or water. i like the oil because it makes a crispier crust.
1 carton cherry tomatoes 
1 red or white onion, cut in eiights (wedges)
1 cucumber, sliced thin
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tbsp tahini
chopped fresh mint

skewers

mix all the spices. add meat and marinate 1 hour or more (up to overnight, which is best but not always reasonable) assemble the kabobs meat, onion, meat, tomato, etc. place under the broiler until crispy and firm. or grill over direct heat on a BBQ.  For the sandwiches, remove all meat and veggies from the skewer, spread the flatbread with a sauce made from mint, yogurt, and tahini. add sliced cucumbers, meat, tomato, and onion. eat.

for the bread.

mix 2 cups flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp yeast, with enough warm milk or water to make a soft dough. knead for ten minutes, adding water if it is too firm. separate into small balls, and flatten to 1/4 inch thickness. place directly on the hot grill until you see it start to bubble. if cooking indoors, place it in a hot dry pan and cook like a tortilla. repeat.

shown in this picture is the simpler application of sauted veggies (onions, zucchini, tomatoes, red bell pepper and  garlic) and rice. 

Beef Jerky

I just spent 10 dollars on 12 oz of jerky that was horrible. and i realized once again that every time i buy beef jerky, i wish i hadnt because it tastes like fake flavors and feels like leather. So this weekend i will make my own. i have been doing this since i was a kid, and its really easy. I will make a lot because i start college on monday and it seems like a good thing to have in my backpack for the days i run from work to school....

1 roast beef, any visible fat trimmed off.
1 small bottle soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
3 cloves chopped garlic
1 tsp pepper 

slice the meat about 1/4 inch thick against the grain. place in a bowl with remaining ingredients. marinate 4 hours or overnight.  lay out on a baking sheet, or directly on a clean oven rack, with foil on a lower rack to catch any liquid. heat oven to 200 degrees. cook 8-10 hours, or overnight, turning halfway through if on a baking sheet.


alternately use liquid smoke and black pepper

alternately to that even. use chicken or turkey, sliced WITH The grain, but marinate no more than 4 hours

even more alternately use salmon

Friday, September 18, 2009

Lasagna



Here's a lasagna recipe that combines three different kinds of lasagna in one: your standard traditional meat and tomato sauce, a rich multi-cheese lasagna and a vegetarian one. This can be made with any leftover pasta sauce, unused veggies, and other goodies that you may currently have in your fridge and pantry. I made this two nights ago and it was a hit with the family:

Ingredients:
1 pound of ground beef (I prefer extra lean or lean ground beef)
4 medium sized tomatoes (or 1-2 cans of ground tomatoes)
1 can tomato paste
1 large onion (diced)
3-4 garlic cloves (crushed)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 package of lasagna noodles (or 12-14 large noodles)

Spices (1 teaspoon each): oregano, sage, parsley, thyme, chili pepper (or cayenne pepper), black pepper and salt

Cheeses (one cup each): cheddar, mozzarella, Parmesan, and goat cheese (all shredded)

2-3 cups of vegetables (any or all of the following): broccoli, carrots, celery, mushrooms, zucchini, green peppers

Here's the recipe:

Using a regular to large-sized frying pan, fry the ground beef with some olive oil until it has browned. In a medium sized bowl, mix the tomatoes, onions and garlic with the spices. Once the ground beef is cooked, add the contents of the bowl and continue cooking on medium-low heat.

Add the 2-3 cups of vegetables to the meat and tomato sauce and continue to simmer on low heat.

Combine all four cheeses in a separate bowl. If you do not have all four of these, you can always use one more than another or less cheese altogether. I usually stick with mozzarella and Parmesan mostly and add the other two if I have them.

Bowl lasagna noodles in a large bowling pot in batches (2-3 at a time or more, if possible); rinse each batch in a strainer over the sink and set aside.

In a regular or large sized casserole pan, layer the bottom with the meat, tomato and veggie sauce and cover with noodles. Cover the noodles with cheese and cover with a second layer of noodles. Cover the noodles with the sauce, add more noodles, then cheese and repeat until all of the sauce is used up and the top layer of noodles is covered in cheese.

To prevent the top layer of noodles from burning or becoming crisp, coat them very lightly in olive oil before topped with cheese. Now the hard work is done and the lasagna is ready for the oven.

Preheat the oven and cook at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook for approximately 30-40 minutes; take a peek around 30 minutes just to make sure it's ok...keep it in longer if needed.

Now you're ready to indulge in lasagna!!

Tips for buying the ingredients cheaper and better quality:
Ground beef - I always buy in bulk at the local market or butcher. The quality is always better than the grocery store and fresher too

Lasagna noodles and spices - buy in bulk

Cheese and veggies - I try to buy fresh at the market and in bulk and avoid pre-shredded packaged cheese if possible - it's more expensive and full of preservatives.

How to eat well on a dime, or a dollar. but not tons of dollars.

Yea. i would not be nearly so broke if i ate like most other american families. mac and cheese, sugar cereal, top ramen, rice a roni, hamburger helper. all this crap is cheap. mcdonalds and taco bell are cheap. frozen boneless skinless chicken breast injected with salt is cheap. (but is that really waht chicken tastes like). frozen pizza's are cheap. these things have their place, but in general, the cheaper it is, the more likely it is that you should NOT eat it. it is unfortunate that the less money you have, the more likely you are to be eating things that just make it worse.

Dont get me wrong. some nights i just dont want to cook. We love our taco bell and totinos party pizza's. Sometimes. But there is a need within me to offer my family nourishment with fresh ingredients and great flavor. That wont kill them. Problem is, this desire to have healthy food in my house is expensive. especially if i want variety. I know that if i stopped buying food the way i do, we probably wouldnt be so broke. but yet i do it. and i do my best to save money in the process, because the only way i can perform my little kitchen experiments is to shop smart.

You may have some notion of political corectness that says that big box stores are crushing the family business, but take this example. My husband likes his kosher hotdogs. Hebrew nationals are 3.00 a package, all the time, at both Wal-Mart and WinCo Foods. At every other store in town they are 6 bucks. I dont apologize for keeping my costs down so we can pay the bills. I also think that we may just have to accept that commerce has changed again, and be willing to adapt. i shop at these stores because if i dont, we eat mac and cheese and oscar meyer bologna.  i buy basics at wal-mart but they dont carry high quality anything, so the future of the mom and pop store is the specialty store and the boutique. which brings me to my next topic.

Specialty markets. These are hit and miss. There is a store next to my work that claims to be fair trade,  organic and so on... problem is, they once tried to charge me 8 dollars for two bunches of spinach. eating well should not be at the expense of your financial security. since then, i have never gone back. in these cases, the specialty store is a bad idea. however, i love Asian, Latino, and Arabian markets. The ones that cater to the Asians, the Latin Americans, And the Arabs. here you can buy ingredients for half the price of supermarkets, in most cases. They also tend to carry some produce items that cant be found elsewhere, or can be found but at exorbitant prices.

Speaking of produce. go to the farms. here we go to Greenbluff when cherries, apples, peaches, cabbages, and squash are in season. we buy in bulk and i freeze and can some for later. not only do we save money, we buy local and we are ensured of freshness. be wary of the roadside stand or buying from the biggest, most extravagant farm. sometimes they sell produce that was shipped in from elsewhere, under the guise of being fresh from the tree or local. if i wanted my apples from wenachee, i wouldnt drive all the way out to this farm... There is one particular farm around here that is guilty of this, and i have even heard her lie by omission. customer says "oh yea, my friend sent me here to get fresh cherries off the farm" and i know for a fact she was selling cherries from california. the same ones safeway was selling. no thank you. WE LOVE TO U-PICK! its fun and tasty and the whole family gets involved. i think it also helps us city folk remember where our food comes from... thinking of the kid again.

BUY IN BULK! convenience is expensive. packaging is wasteful and unneccessary. buy dried and canned goods in bulk from a place with high product turnaround to be sure of freshness. do it. dont be a dummy head.

and thats my story.

sweet hot chicken salad

I made this with the leftovers from last nights roasted chicken, although i have been known to smoke a whole chicken and use it for this salad. This is one of my favorite inventions ever. It differs from other chicken salads in that it used sour cream and no mayonnaise, and the mustard is unique. the egg and mushrooms give it and earthy and hearty feel, and the veggies balance the creaminess with a crunch. it is sweet, smooth and slightly spicy.

You can use any sweet hot mustard, but i use one i can only buy at events like the state fair, home and garden shows, etc. its a sweet hot garlic mustard from the Garlic Gourmet. this mustard tends to be more sweet than hot, so if you are using store bought, adjust for smaller quantities if its a very hot mustard. you can also make your own by adding honey and horseradish to your favorite mustard. (or use a spicy mustard and forget the horseradish)

You also can adjust which vegetables you want, anything you have in the fridge that makes sense.



1/2 roasted or smoked chicken
2 boiled eggs
4 button mushrooms
1/2 red bell pepper
1 stalk celery
1/2 cup sour cream (plus more as needed)
2-3 Tbsp Garlic Gourmet sweet hot mustard (add more to taste)
pinch salt
1/2 tsp pepper

bone and skin the chicken. Cut into very very small pieces or shred and chop. place in a bowl. chop the vegetables all into a very small dice. add chopped egg, salt and pepper. mix well. add sour cream and mustard. mix until well incorporated. add more sour cream or mustard until it is the right flavor and consistency. serve alone or as a sandwich.

HOW TO SMOKE A CHICKEN....

on the BBQ add hardwood charcoal like cowboy charcoal to each side, leaving the middle empty. this is called indirect heat. soak some hickory chips in water for 1 hour. take 2 sheets of aluminum foil and make small bowls. add a handful of chips to each. when the coals are hot, place the bowls directly on top of the coals. season this chicken with salt and pepper. place in the middle, where there are no direct coals. leave for 1 hour, covered, adding more charcoal or chips after 1 hour if needed. cooke for 30-45 more minutes, or until the leg comes free of the rest of the bird with little effort.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Roast Chicken with lemon and Herbes de provence

Another application of herbes de provence. i had a big bag and its been in there for a while now...

There is nothing i can think of that sounds as comforting as the phrase "Roast Chicken". I make this one with matching taters and garlic..... i also uses lemon pepper because i had no fresh lemons, and plus i love it.

1 small chicken
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp herbes de provencel your
lemon pepper
salt

cut the backbone out of the chicken and then place it breast side up. press down hard with your palm until you feel a pop of the bone, lay the flattened chicken on a broiler pan or raised roasting pan, breast up. rub the skin with the oil, sprinkle with salt and LIBERALLY with lemon pepper. sprinkle on the herbes and press down to make sure they stick. in the bottom of the pan, add about an inch of water and some lemon juice if you have it. bake at 425 for 1 hour or until toasty brown. lower heat to 375 and bake another 30 minutes.


prepare roasted potatoes. chop into 8ths. mix 2 tbsp oil. 4 cloves chopped garlic, more herbes, and salt. lay on a baking sheet. place on the bottom rack of the oven about 30 minutes before the chicken is done, turning every 10 minutes. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

baklava

even though i wont be making this any time soon, i thought i would share.

1 packet filo dough
2 cups shelled pistachios or nuts of choice
2 sticks butter
1/2 cup honey

for the syrup
1 cup sugar 1 cup water 1 tsp almond extract

melt the butter. lay out two sheets of fillo in a 13x9 baking pan. brush with butter. lay out two more sheets, brush with butter. repeat 2 more times.

make the filling. in a food processor or with a plastic bag and a hammer, break up the pistachios or nuts of choice into small bits. mix with honey, sprinkle over your fillo stack.

now, repeat fillo process, this time with 8 sheets (4 stacks of two) leaving the top layer butter-free. slice on a bias into diamond shapes. bake intil golden in a 400 degree oven or as fillo instructions say. prepare syrup.

mix water, sugar, and extract. heat in a saucpan until boiliing. pour evenly over baklava. sprinkle with remaining pistachios if they exist.

LOCAL!

click here for localharvest.org. i need not say more...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tomato and Herbes de Provence Flat Bread

You can call this a pizza, but that word has the implications of so much. pizza is fast food, its delivery for lazy or drunken nights, its cheap lunch. its red sauce covered with canned veggies and various spicy or sweet pork products. well. i aint havin it. so this is flat bread because it has no sauce and really is more like a relaxed foccacia. this is another one of my bread inventions, no recipe used. im getting good as long as i keep it simple.

Herbes de Provence is a french herb mix made from the things they would find in the woods. it has things like lavender and rosemary and i have no idea what else but it smells wonderful and tastes as good as it smells. I bought mine in bulk at huckleberries (a natural market here in spokane). if you dont have it, i guess you could use italian seasoning, but its not the same.

this pizza is very dense and toasty. the dough could be used for all kinds of autumn applications, as it seems right for a fall night....

2 cups flour
1 cup cornmeal (not polenta)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp yeast
1 tbsp herbes de provence
3 tbsp butter, cold and sliced thi

sliced tomato, zucchini sliced paper thin, and anchovies (optional) i used both veggies fresh from my garden....yay!

cheese of choice, grated

garlic butter for basting 

mix together yeast and dry ingredients.add butter and mix with your hands until well incorporated. run the tap water until hot, but not too hot to touch (hand hot), sprinkle one cup of the warm water over the flour and mix with your hands. bring dough together. turn out onto the table or a board. bring over another bowl of warm water, knead the dough one or two minutes, wet your hands, knead until no longer sticky, wet your hands, repeat, keep doing this until you have a soft but not sticky dough. flatten into a 3/4 inch thick circle or square and move to a pizza pan or baking sheet. sprinkle a very thin layer of cheese on the dough, add sliced tomatoes and zucchini, well spaced, add just a little more cheese, just for effect.

place on the center rack of a 450 degree oven until golden brown, basting the edges every five minutes or so with butter.

Brie and Jam Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Its Simplicty day here on the kitchen dramas. How to get a LOT of flavor with little effort.

All you need is Brie or Camembert, fruit jam of choice (fresh is best), and a good firm sandwich bread.

spread the bread with a little butter, lay thin slices of cheese accross the non buttered side, jame on the other piece (dont be stingy), sandwich, and grill.

jam suggestions, strawberry, apricot, or orange

another great one is baguettes with Nutella.

Matoes

AHHH the TOMATO.... the singular most used produce item in my house.... and guess what time it is? HARVEST TIME. i didnt get very many this year, but i did get a mix of cherries, beefsteak, heirloom, and yellow tomatoes. Next year the plan is to cut down a pesky tree growing right in the way of the noruishing sunlight. I know its not nice to pick on poor defenseless trees, but this and the plum tree have GOT to go.

anyway, here is a pic of my tomatoes still warm and ripening on the vine, and a recipe for simple tomato sauce, which i use pretty much constantly. you can make more or less depending on what you need, but this is the general ratio.

1 pound tomatoes, diced 
1/4 onion, diced
1 or two cloves garlic, chopped
salt
pepper
herbs of choice (i like basil and thyme, because they grow in my garden, yacine likes chopped parsley)
a little oil

in a saute pan add the oil. when hot add onions and saute until soft. add garlic and cook until fragrant, salt and pepper, tomatoes, and herbs. stir until softened. add a little water for a thinner sauce, or reduce for a thick sauce. (however, you may want more tomatoes if you want a thick sauce)

This is a recipe for a chunky or semi chunky sauce. if i wanted a smooth sauce i would buy it in a jar.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Scones are underrated


I am so glad i made these instead of croissants if for no other reason but they have three less sticks of butter. Also, they take something like ten seconds to make. I dont make them enough, because i forget about them, but a fresh scone is the best, most satisfying and comforting breakfast. I amde these ones with chocolate chips because i was thinking of the husband guy, but normally i would either leave them plain or add a fruit of some kind. i have some fresh blackberries (or black rasberries, one of the two) in the garden and maybe when these are gone, i will make the next one with those. Also, I searched for a recipe (which i use as a guide, rather than a set formula) online and after looking at 100 people who just quoted Paula Deen i gave up and used my memory. I don't really like paula deens style of artery clogging thank you.

I think scones are underrated. they are one of the easiest things to bake in the world. they are so versatile, they can be made with almost anything from sweet to savory, cheese to chocolate and any kind of fruit imaginable, dried or fresh. it can be glazed, or crusted with sugar or cheese, or plain. they are not too sweet, soft, and flaky. they go great with coffee or tea in the morning. and did i menation they take about a second and a half to make? and hardly any mess either.. at least compared to my other endeavors.

Guess what. they are pretty much baking powder biscuits.

  • 2 cups flour of choice
  • 1/3 cup sugar of choice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. slice the butter into thin pats and with your hands, work it into the mix, as it breaks up, run it between your hands like you are a mischevious kid, rubbing your hands together while waiting to cause havoc on your little sibling... thats the best way i can describe it. when the butter is no longer visible, and the mix has turned a slightly golden color, add the chocolate, then the sour cream and egg. mix until it all starts to come together. scone dough is sticky. in the end you may have to use your hands. form into a ball. flatten onto a cookie sheet, with your hands, to about 3/4 inches thick. slice like a pizza, into 8 wedges. do not seperate. place in a 400 degree oven about 15-18 minutes, until slightly golden. serve warm or cool. i prefer cool. or warm. definately.

Variations: anything you can think up
fruit, cheese and herbs, plain. whatever.

glaze with a simple powdered sugar glaze
sprinkle with course sugar or sugar in the raw

Chicken and Spinach Manicotti with 4 cheeses and GARLIC BREAD


Tomato sauce and cheese is a sure winner in my house. also i bought a Costco bag of spinach and need to use it. So yum, or as Kader says "CHEEEESE". i cheat in this one, i know i am all about from scratch, but this is a weeknight meal. also, i love spaghetti sauce from the jar, i cant help it. i will follow up with the recipe for fresh sauce if you prefer.

1 box no boil lasagna sheets
3/4 cups ricotta
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1 two cup packet Italian mix shredded cheese
a little shredded cheddar
1 jar spaghetti sauce (or fresh tomato sauce, recipe to follow)
the breast meat of one chicken, boned and skinned (or two pre-prepared)
2 heaping handfuls of fresh spinach
about 10 fresh basil leaves
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper
1 tbsp oil

Garlic bread
1 baguette (i prefer sourdough)
1 stick butter
fresh crushed garlic cloves, as many as you like, my dad says the more the merrier

First the marinade
chop the chicken into very small pieces. sprinkle evenly either salt and pepper. chop the basil into small pieces. add the thyme and oil. mix well and refrigerate 1 hour or longer.

next prepare the noodles. boil some water, lay the noodles in your 13x9 baking pan. pour the water over to soften while you make the filling.

for the filling, use a frying pan. add the chicken to the pan and saute until just done. add the shredded spinach and cook until very wilted. move to a clean mixing bowl. (drain any green spinach water, most of it anyway). add ricotta, cottage cheese, and 1 1 1/2 cups of the Italian cheese. taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

now for the assembly.
drain the water from the noodles. carefully so carefully peel off one of the noodles. place about 2 tbsp filling across the short end. roll up. place on a plate. repeat until all are done. add a little sauce to the bottom of the casserole and spread evenly. add the rolls in a row (make sure the seam side is down) and cover with sauce. sprinkle the rest of the Italian cheese on the top, and a little cheddar.



now bake. in a 350 degree oven until bubbly. cover if the cheese cooks too fast.

serve with garlic bread.

melt butter in a small saucepan, crush garlic into the butter. cook until fragrant. brush on the bread evenly. place under the broiler until toasty, watching constantly.

croissants

I just wanted to share that i was all primed and ready to make croissants from scratch. i watched videos online, i looked up several recipes, i bought and chilled the butter.

and then i realized....

i dont want to make croissants. it is an all-day pain in the arse, when you can buy decent ones at costco.

so i am making spinach and chicken manicotti instead.

and the moral of this story is....

some things are worth the effort, some are not. choose your battles wisely.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Red Stew


I am sure I am not the first one to make a good stew, but i will post this anyway. I call it Red Stew because most of the ingredients are red, and the paprika added makes the potatoes and the broth red as well.

1 pot roast of beef OR 1/2 lamb leg roast
2 onions cut in large wedges
5 medium yellow or red potatoes, or equivalent, quartered
10-2 mushrooms of choice, whole
2 red bell peppers, sliced thin
fresh spinach
6 cloves garlic, whole but crushed with a knife
2 beef or chicken bullion cubes
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp hungarian paprika
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp ras el hanout or other spice mix used for soups
2 bay leaves (mine were from my mom's garden)
bunch fresh mint or herb of choice (mine was from MY garden)
salt and pepper, to taste

season the meat well with salt and brown well on high heat, cover halfway with water and add spices, herbs, and lemon juice. cover and simmer for 2 hours, turning occassionally. add veggies EXCEPT SPINACH and continue to cook for an aditional 40 minutes, or until tender. remove meat and shred with two forks. return to the soup and cook for 15 more minutes.

in large serving bowls, fill the bottom of the bowl with fresh spinach leaves (baby spinach is best). ladle the soup over the spinach (the hot soup will wilt the spinach just enough for good texture). serve with crusty bread.

Baklava Cookies



I invented these because one of my specialties is Baklava and serpent cake (like a coiled snake of baklava), which i usually make with almonds in place of pistachios. I love my baklava, but i hate two things about it

a. it takes forever and makes a giant mess and

b. it is a big pile of fat and sugar. i mean butter and sugar filled with butter and sugar and covered in sugar syrup. sounds like heaven huh, but the more i think about it, i should probably never make it.

And so I have invented these cookies, which are moist, nutty, buttery, and yummy. It is basically an adaptation of the filling of baklava. it also only takes one bowl to create, which is great. its a simple recipe with minimal ingredients, and well, i justify the cookie part with the protein and vitamins from the almonds. its also not too sweet, only one cup sugar for 4 cups dry ingredients.

so here goes.

2 sticks butter or 1 cup ghee, room temperature
4 cups almonds, whole (i dont believe in blanched almonds, as they are never affordable, and i like the little brown bits from the skin, and the skin has important nutrients)
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
about 30 whole almonds for garnish

mix together the butter or ghee, sugar, and vanilla. grind the almonds in a food processor until a course meal is formed. do not over process or it will become almond butter. mix two cups of this meal with the butter mixture. add eggs, soda, and baking powder. Add the flour and mix until a dough is formed. form into tight one inch balls, press the center to make an indentation. place one almond in the well. bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until you see the bottoms start to brown. halfway through, press down the almonds into the dough so they stick. cool completely.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Some administrative apologies

So i want to apologize for a couple things. although my apologies dont necessarily mean i plan to change. so i guess its not an apology but an explaination.

I know my grammar and punctuation is bad. there are three reasons for this and none are illiteracy. 1 is i am lazy and i hate capitalizing things. 2 is that i think i should just write like i am feeling and not worry about the rules, and 3 is that my keyboard is wierd and my typing skills have been declining for some reason.

my pictures could be better. and they will. my problem now is ramadhan. dinner must be ready at sundown. my camera takes bad pics without sunlight, given that its a phone. someday i will dig my real camera out if its hiding place. until then or after ramadhan is over, you (whoever you are) will have to deal with it. he he.

Shrimp and Mussel Risotto



rice and fish.

1 pound shrimp, in shells, raw.
1 pound mussels
1 large shallot
10 mushrooms, chopped
2 cups abrorio rice
6-8 cups broth (recipe below)
3 tbsp butter
salt and pepper, to taste

Broth
shrimp shells from your shrimp
clean mussel shells
2 jars clam juice
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloved garlic

boil all these together, along with 6 cups water, about 45 minutes. add salt if needed.

for the risotto

melt the butter in a pan, add a little oil to keep from burning. chop the mushrooms and add to the oil, chop shallots and do the same, slice garlic and do the same. cook until soft. add rice and enough water to cover it. stir regularly, never leave the risotto's side. as the rice absorbs the broth, keep adding more broth until the rice is soft and there is a creamy sauce surrounding it. add the fish. cook 5-10 minutes, or until shrimp is pink and no longer translucent. do not overcook. season with salt and pepper, to your taste. this process is easy but attention is needed at all times. make sure you dont have distractions and keep stirring all the time. you can substitute any other seafood. if i was rich i would have made this with crab, shrimp, mussels, and and a lobster tail.

by the way i served this with fresh corn off the cob and tomato from my garden. deeeeeelicious.

CAPERS


I love capers. if i had to choose only one pickle (and i love things pickled), for the rest of my life, it would be the caper.

The caper is the unopened bud of a flower, as shown. usually they are preserved in salt and marked "non-pareil". large capers are less common, and used for things like appetizers and cocktails. i have had them once, and ate the whole jar plain. you can also fry them in oil until crispy, sounds good but haven't tried it yet.

More commonly, you will find little tiny capers, about the size of a peppercorn. these are the onle i am talking about today. Usually, you find them in a little tiny jar for a lot of cash, but Wal-Mart and Winco Foods have them wayyyyyyyy cheaper. i mean like, 6 dollars at safeway, 1.59 at Wallyworld.

Capers go well with any kind of fish. i love them with salmon espectially, and moreso with smoked salmon. here are a few recipes and uses.

1. add them to a chop salad, cobb salad, or egg salad.
2. sprinkle them on a homemade pizza with cheese, tomatoes and anchovies (anchovies optional)
3. fry them until crispy and add to butter along with a little garlic for a flavored butter, alternately, add to mayonnaise for a sandwich spread.

recipe 1. MY ALL TIME FAVORITE CAPER USE. also the first introduction i had, and where i fell in love...with capers.

Lox Sandwich

2 slices lox
2 tbsp chream cheese
1 tbsp capers
2 slices tomato
2 slices red onion (optional)
1 bagel, toasted

make an open faced bagel sandwich, splitting the ingredients evenly. in this order (from the bottom) bagel, cheese, capers, tomato, onion. press ingredents down slightly so capers dont roll off. i have made this into a pizza with decent results too.

Tomato Caper Sauce

prepare a standard fresh tomato sauce. chop 1/4 onion, 1 clove garlic, and three tomatoes. saute the onion in a little oil until soft. add the garlic and 2 tbsp capers plus a little brine from the jar, when aromatic add the tomatoes. simmer until slightly soft, or whatever consistency you choose. add herbs at the end if you wish. serve with fish, shrimp, or alone, preferably with pasta.

Garlic Caper Butter sauce

melt 2 tbsp butter on medium heat (to avoid burning), skim the foam off the top to clarify. add two chopped green onion and soften. add garlic and capers. add salt and pepper to taste. add herbs of your choosing. serve over firm white fish. add two anchovies for more flavor if you wish, but omit salt.

more later, i am sure.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Semolina Flat Bread

These I make by method, rather than recipe. By which I mean I practiced a lot, and now I know generally what to do. They are easy and make less mess than many of the breads I have made recently.

Did i mention that I am working on perfecting my breadmaking skills? this is one of my number one hobbies. Thus all my doughy recipes. Homemade bread is easier to digest due to the kneading process, and when done right taste much better. (except sourdough, i just cant get sourdough as flavorful as the commercial stuff)

There is NOTHING like a warm piece of just out of the oven toasty chewy goodness.

these however are not oven breads. however this dough can be used for dinner rolls or a loaf. its pretty versatile. it also would make a great pizza crust.

ok and also, it really is better if you cook it in a little oil. i tried to keep it light but its just better that way.

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup fine semolina
1 tsp yeast
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cumin (optional or replaceable)
1 tsp sugar
Warm water (almost hot)

mix all the ingredients except water well. make a well in the center. gradually add enough hot water to make the dough come together into a soft ball. add more semolina if its too sticky. knead for about ten minutes or until soft, smooth, and elastic. cover let rise for 30 minutes. punch down.

separate into 2 inch balls. flatten to about 1/2 inch discs. heat a frying pan on med high heat. cook like tortillas, until bubbly and slightly browned on each side. sprinkle salt and a little cumin or chile powder on top. stack them on a plate so they keep each other warm.

Chorba Ahktoboot

I love that the word for octopus in Algeria is Ahktoboot. Like eight boots. Could you imagine an octopus wearing BOOTS!! anyway.....

Todays recipe is Octopus Stew. i hate the word octopus. I hate how they look raw. I hate how they taste if you either cook them too long of dont cook them long enough. I LOVE them when they are prepared right. The key is, you cook them either really fast, or really long. anything in between is like cheing on sea leather. yea, sea leather, thats what i said.

I used a general recipe. not really algerian, because while I used the general idea, I also incorporated other techniques and ingredients, after researching spanish, greek, and italian versions. (all cultures that are octo-boot friendly). I also had the brilliant idea that a splash of vinegar would go perfect in this stew, and i was right!

so here goes.

2 octopi, cleaned (about 1.5 pounds each) OR 3 pounds baby octopi, cleaned and beak removed.
4 large tomatoes or 8 plum tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, depending on size, chopped.
1 chile of your choice (i used a little bit of chipotle, although the recipe called for green chiles)
1 tbsp tomato paste
about a tablespoon red or white wine vinegar, or cider vinegar.
salt and pepper to taste (add only later, or you may over season)

chop the onion and saute until golden in a small amount of oil. add garlic and cook until aromatic. add the chiles or chile paste, or whatever. add a little water so they dont burn while you prepare the fish.

chop the octopus into one inch chucks. leave the long skinny ends long, they will curl up all cute in the soup. remember they ugly grey fish will turn pretty purple with heat. also, you dont need to skin it, i know it looks bad but it tightens up. add to the onion mixture. the octopus should release a lot of water and it becomes soupy soon. chop the tomatoes and add to the soup, add the tomato paste. add the vinegar. reduce heat to medium low. cook for 2.5 hours or so, or until the fish is tender. you can add water for soupy texture, or let it evaporate some, for a stewlike consistency. I opt for the latter. pictures coming up. i spared you the prep pictures in order to maybe get you to make this...

AFTERWARD: ok, after i have eaten this I have this to say. the important thing is that i lerned to not make it rubbery. in retrospect i may have left the legs whole or cut them in half instead. also, from now on i am going to cook octopus in a non soupy format, like a sauce or a stir fry. not that this was bad, but it just didnt seem like stew is the right place for these buggers. the point is, cook fast, or cook long and slow.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Ghee use

I used Ghee recently to make Makroud, Yacines favorite traditional Algerian cookie. since andrea posted, i will share, although sorry, i had no blog last time i made it, so no pictures. you can find pics and videos showing how to prepare in if you do a quick google search.

3 cups COURSE semolina
1/2 cup Ghee
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp salt
1 cup water with a decent splash of orange blossom water (optional, but interesting)
chopped pitted dates (not the icky pressed kind, real dates)
oil for frying (optional if you decide to bake)

one cup honey
1/2 cup water
a tiny splash orange blossom water

warm the chopped dates slightly with a little water, mix well and set aside.

mix the semolina and salt, melt the butter and add to the flour, raking it into the dough with your fingers, evenly. add water mixed with blossom water a little at a time until it makes a dough, knead until soft and not sticky. should be the consistency of....i dont know... sand castle sand? maybe a little denser.

split the dough in four pieces. cover three of them, roll one into a long snake, about an inch and a half thick. flatten to about 1/2 inch depth and 1.5 inch width. place a thin string of dates accross the center of the dough, fold the dough around the dates until sealed. roll with your plams until 1 inch thick. square out the dough and flatten the top. cut on a bias into diamond shapes. repeat.


heat oil for frying, fry cookies until golden. drain on a rack. heat honey, water, and orange water in a saucepan, dip the cookies. return to the rack. cool completely.

How to Make Ghee

by Andrea

This is so incredibly simple its almost embarrassing that I haven't done it until now. I got the method from one of my favorite books ever, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia by Rebecca Wood. I will quote her later.

Ghee, if you're not aware, is a staple in India and is known in other cultures in slightly different versions and by names such as samna baladi, Smen, and niter kibbeh. It is basically clarified butter but cooked longer, so the milk solids have been removed by a slow cooking process, leaving only a toasty gold fat.

You'll need:

1 lb butter (four sticks, or one box)

A pot to cook it in
A mesh strainer
A container for storage

...and that's it. You don't even need a spoon to stir it with. There are alternative recipes that call for various spices and things like onions and garlic, but I wasn't ready to mess with that on my first try. I just wanted classic, simple Ghee.

Step one: melt the butter in a pan.

Step two: bring it to a gentle simmer.

Step three: wait. Let it simmer uncovered for at least half an hour (mine took about an hour) and do not stir.



While it is simmering it will make a sort of crackling noise like oil when its heating up for deep frying. When the noise changes to a more normal rolling sound like boiling water, and there are brown (preferably not black) chunks of solid matter on the bottom, and the ghee itself is clear and honey colored, it is done.



Take it off the heat and let it cool enough that its not a hazard to work with. Set up your strainer over a bowl or whatever container you are using for storage. Strain out the solid chunks.





And now you have ghee. You can store it in the fridge for months if not years, and if you are comfortable with it you can probably store it at room temperature too, but don't let the health department know I said that. I have a feeling I may have overcooked mine a little bit, but I'm hoping to gain more finesse at this the more experience I have. And it smells great anyway, so I'm not too worried. I have a feeling this is a very forgiving process.

Ghee is used for sauteing and also in baked goods. For more uses, refer to any Indian cookbook. My jar smells absolutely wonderful and I'm looking forward to using it very soon.

From Rebecca Wood's Whole Foods Encyclopedia:

"(Ghee) is an anticarcinogen, makes food easier to digest, enhances their medical action, gives food a clean-looking appearance, and it imparts an ambrosial flavor to both sweet and savory dishes."

Just Curry

by Andrea

Yes, its just chicken curry, but in truth the first REAL curry i've ever made. It turns out to be a very easy, tasty dinner. You'll need:

One medium onion, chopped
3 small potatoes, diced small (i used blue)
1 lb chicken, diced
1 fresh chili, chopped very small
1 tsp red curry paste
1 can pineapple
1 can coconut milk
salt, to taste

cooked rice (I used long grain brown, I would also recommend Jasmine rice)

start with your favorite sauteing fat in the pan (i used coconut oil to complement the coconut milk) you could also try ghee, refer to my next post on how to make that. Heat it up to medium-hi.



Add onions and cook a little bit, then add the potatoes. Add chili. Cook until onions are soft and potatoes about half-done. Add chicken, and cook at least halfway.Salt to taste. Add curry paste and incorporate evenly through the mixture. Add pineapple. Add entire can of coconut milk and mix together, simmer for about 15 minutes to finish chicken and potatoes and let the flavors get to know each other while the sauce reduces.

Serve over rice. This is much less spicy than i expected, but it will depend on what kind of chili you use and how much curry paste. It also wasn't overwhelmingly coconutty, which is what I've always feared with using coconut milk.




Yummy, and a very versatile recipe. Don't want chicken? try pork or beef, or tofu for a vegetarian alternative. Don't want pineapple? Skip it. No potatoes? Try cauliflower instead. Curry is much more of a method than a specific recipe, which is why I think it will be a new stand-by in my kitchen repetoir.

Steamed Crab And Shrimp Dumpling Goodness

Everyone was thrilled with dinner tonight. I mean we went crazy. The hard to please husband who will eat anything but praise nothing even got wide eyed....then proceeded to dissect. But that's just the way he is. And the baby? He couldn't stuff bites in his mouth fast enough.

This is the recipe for from scratch potstickers suffed with a slightly spicy crab and shrimp stuffing. you can cheat and use small wonton skins instead, the round ones. but from scratch is.... different. Make sure you roll out the dough super super thin, and try to avoid holes, because they with make the oil attack you.

For the Dough

4 cups flour
2 tsp salt
2 eggs
cold water

measure out flour on the table, add salt. make a well in the center and add eggs to the well. add a little water and break the yolks. mix. keep adding water a little at a time until the dough starts to stick together, knead the dough until you have a soft but not stick dough. place in a bowl and cover. prepare the filling.

Filling

1 large can of good quality crab (about 2 cups)
1 lb raw shrimps, chopped into very small pieces, almost pasty
two green onions, chopped small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp chile paste
3 tbsp soy sauce

mix all the ingredients well. take a walnut sized ball of dough and roll out into a very flat disc. place 1 tbsp filling in the middle. fold over into a half moon shape. pinch the edges tightly. repeat until all is done.

in a large frying pan add just enough oil to cover the pan. in batches, brown the potstickers on one side only in the oil. remove. after all is browned, add them all back to the pan, add one cup water, and cover. steam until the dough is cooked through.

a filling variation would be ground pork or chicken in place of crab.

This Week's Menu

Ramadhan is a trickster. Those who don't know, this is a Muslim holiday during which people fast from ALL things, food, water, sex, anything enjoyable, from sunup to sundown, for 30 days.

Why is Ramadhan a trickster? Every year i tell myself, "hey! maybe we will at least save money on groceries this month..." my Muslim husband and his bottomless pit of a stomach will not be feasting on our dollars all day long! I fool myself. turns out, fasting all day makes you want heartier, meatier, bigger meals at night..all night long.... not to mention making me want to make special treats from his country to ease his suffering.... So then I find that instead of my expected shrink in the grocery budget, i have no spent twice as much (i.e. 20 dollars on ingredients for makroud cookies) and now, 15 days into ramadhan, I have used up every piece of meat in the house, outside of soup scraps.

So, What am I getting at? I DONT WANNA GO TO THE HALLAL MARKET!!! every time I go there I spend 100 bucks on Hallal meat, and only come home with what I would buy for 50 bucks in the regular grocery store, and the flavor is..how you say... Blah. AM I BITCHING? yes, I am. 5 dollars a pound for hamburger? grey colored freezer burned hamburger (ok now i really am bitching, because I find the hamburger far superior to the grocery store stuff, but thats IT) tiny poorly plucked chickens? ok ok,,,enough.

My point is. This week, if i am going to spend redicoulous amounts of money on protiens, they might as well be priced the same for all Americans, because they are yummy delectable "fruits de mer" or fruits of the sea..... and so on...

So begins seafood week of chadyas kitchen dramas. stay tuned for tonights steamed crab and shrimp dumplings, tomorrow's spicy Octopus stew, and whatever else comes my way....

a bientot

CHADYA

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Green Onion Pancake




Surprisingly, This is the same recipe for tortillas, just the preparation is different. My little boy loves these and has been munching on them all night. I doubled the recipe because I believe in stretching my labor as far as I can. Almost all breads can freeze and defrost well, so I always make more. So here is my double recipe.

6 cups flour
2 cups hot water
3 tsp salt
1 1/2 bunches green onions, chopped

on the kitchen table or in a large bowl measure out the flour. Add salt and mix. make a well in the center and add 1/2 cup water. mix with your fingers. add another 1/2 cup and mix. continue until all the water is used. Knead the dough until smooth. about 5-10 minutes. divided into 4 pieces. cover with a towel or foil.

roll the first piece into a ball and flatten with a rolling pin as thin as a tortilla. sprinkle 1/4 of the green onions over the dough. roll it up like a jelly roll. pinch the ends and roll into a coil. roll out with the rolling pin again, this time about the thinkness of naan bread or pita bread.

fry in oil until golden. (i think you could just dry grill it, but it would be less toasty...)

New contributor pt 2



Thanks for the great introduction, Jacque. I just wanted to add a few things about my cooking style and lay out some plans I have for what I'm going to contribute to this blog.

Like my sister said, we come from a food family. Not only is my dad a great cook and appreciates great food, but my mom is a huge inspiration to me. She spent a big part of her child-raising years making homemade bread and everything form scratch you can think of. She says there was a time when they were living in the country that if she couldn't make it herself, they just didn't eat it. That image of a self-reliant cook has given me the confidence that I really CAN do things myself instead of relying on the grocery store shelf and I've made many things from graham crackers to dried apple rings to potato chips to sauerkraut in my own kitchen.

Of the siblings, Jacque and I are more obsessed with food, but we all share an interest in healthy and socially and ecologically responsible food. That mostly means fresh, home-grown or local, natural food.

My #1 rule for healthy eating I've borrowed from Michael Pollan: If your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize it, don't eat it.

the #2 rule is like it: stay away from anything refined and highly processed like white flour, white sugar, and most things that come in a box pre-made. Whole food is the best food and the less distance and process it has to go through to get to your table, the better.

and #3... there's a time for everything, and everything in moderation. I'll eat a white-flour, white sugar cake at a birthday party, I'll make ramen when I'm too tired to cook, just not all the time. The more you fill your diet with good things, the less room there is for the less healthy things. And when you do indulge, enjoy it!

For this blog I want to share some favorite ingredients, recipes and techniques I have learned and also share my experiences with new recipes as i try them. My immediate plans include making ghee, curry, and substituting lentils for ground beef in some familiar recipes.

So there ya go. That's my introduction. Let's get cookin'.

Contributor

I would like to introduce my sister, Andrea. She will now be contributing to this blog as well. Like me she grew up in a food family. she has a background in spanish cooking, and is great with breads, due to her immense patience. Also, she loves to cook from scratch and find healthy adaptations of great recipes. Yay Andrea!

Trail Mix

I have recently realized that trail mix is the perfect thing to keep at work for a snack (or school, for the kiddies). I bought it pre-mixed but was dissapointed in the amount of pointless fillers there were, and the low quality of the nuts. its like they threw whatever was too ugly or old for sale into a box and called it trail mix... for not a small amount of money per pound either. i am positive i can make better mix for the same or less money....

Monkey's Kibbles (makes 4 1/2 cups)

2 cups banana chips
1 cup toasted almonds
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup large flake coconut, toasted
1/2 cup peanuts
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped dates

cost..... about 10 dollars.

cost for safeway's version.....about 15-20 dollars

i know this is simple, but not so obvious. we are surrounded by convenience at the cost of health and quality. i am all about making as much as i can from scratch, especially simple things that take no time to prepare, but are signifigantly better and better for you....

GRAINS


If you ask me, the united states is too hung up on this carbohydrate-phobia. While I do think its true that we are WAY too ependdent on white flour and white sugar, I also know from one my absolute most enriching college courses, NUTRITION, that carbohydrates are a necessary part of a balanced diet. Observe the food pyramid. Do you see grains in a tiny box in the corner? NO they are the axis, on which our diet should spin. Nope, not meat, not fish, not even fruits and vegetables.

However, while I love white flour, and white sugar, I have discovered that grains and sugars in their pure and whole forms are absolutely inspiring, and if prepared properly can be the most delicious and enriching part of a meal.

I will be posting recipes involving these grains so i would like to say some words about the favorites. I may throw a bean or two in here as well....

Semolina/couscous/Farina: Found in course and fine grains. fine grains make the best fresh pasta, flat breads. This is a wheat flour, made from durham wheat. Its flavor is slightly richer than what we consider regular flour. it has a slight toasted corn flavor.... its texture is more grainy and less powdery than white flour, and binds differently when kneaded. course grains are used for cereal and for cookies most often.

Bulgar. This is cracked wheat and is used commonly in middle eastern inspired cooking, including Kibbeh and Tabouli from lebanon, the most commonly known recipes. its a course grain and needs to be soaked before cooking.

Steel Cut Oats. most oats we know are the rolled, flat kind, instant or otherwise. Thats unfortunate. steel cut oats are cut, not rolled. they are completely different. they are chewy and dense when cooked. i like to toast them dry in a pan before adding the water. they can be cooked just like oatmeal, only longer and with more water. 3 cups water to one cup oats. I like mine with cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, honey, and a small amount of raisins and chopped dates.

Polenta, or Corn meal I love corn meal, I know there is a new corn phobia going around too, and while i dont like corn syrup in everything, corn itself is wonderful. polenta is a course corn meal and can be used as a cereal (grits), cookies, cakes, breads, and so many other things. grits congeal when they cool and can be fried or baked in squares for a snack. they go great with cheese and green chiles.

Masa Harina Corn flour. used for corn tortillas, empanadas, tamales, breads and more. a fresh corn tortilla is something special. Its hard to go back to store bought afterward..

Chickpeas. everyone knows about hummus and falafel. there are other applications for chickpeas but these are the best. I recently discovered fresh chickpeas and they have become one of my favorite sides (however they are a big giant pain to hull, and can take up to an hour for just a little pile. make sure you do it in front of the tv or with company...) just boil for ten minutes, drain, and add a pat of butter....

Lentils. THE best pulse there is. comes in a rainbow of colors. i like the green ones for texture. soups and patties are where you will see these. sausage and spices are the best compliments.

Quinoa. this is a very different grain with a very different flavor. you either love it or you hate it. i cant explain. its cheap, just try it.

purchase whole grains in bulk. i dont mean large amounts, i mean from bins. you will spend almost nothing and get a lot. for example, bulgar is 1.20 a pound in bulk, 3.99 for 12 oz in a shiny box with colorful words and a fancy foriegn name. what do YOU want to apy for?