Posted in Food, Meatless Monday, Recipes

Dinner Tonight

Easy, fast, delicious. Greek pasta with spinach and feta cheese.

  
All you need is a can of tomatoes, canned white beans, spinach and feta cheese. I added fresh basil, oregano and garlic. Dump a large can of chopped tomatoes into a frying pan, add the herbs, garlic and beans and cook for ten minutes. Wash and chop 10 oz of spinach and add. Cook another 10 minutes. Serve with crumbled feta on top of chunky pasta.

Good and sans meat.

Posted in Blogging, Bouncing Tigger's Vegetarian Recipe Challenge, Food, Recipes

Death by Chili Pepper

I’m trying to knock out a few posts while I have the energy and before my desire to run downstairs and finish my book finally overcomes me. I’ve been meaning to spend some time with Tigger’s Veggie Challenge and I think I may have found a fun post for this one.

I really like Indian food but my tastes, all with all westerners probably, are pretty calmed down compared to the real thing. I also love to watch cooking videos and came across a chef who I can’t stop watching. He’s a really nice, respectful guy and at the same time brimming over with enthusiasm about the dishes he demonstrates. He calls himself the VahChef (prounounced “Wah Chef”) and he cooks stuff from throughout India. Yes, I know there are a lot of different cuisines and there’s really no such thing as “Indian” food, just like there’s really no such thing as “curry.”

The VahChef invites people to upload their own cooking videos, too, which is rather cool. He also prepares some western dishes, but doesn’t seems as excited about them as the “Indian” stuff. My favorite part, though? This dude is NOT afraid of hot peppers. It’s hysterical: “first you add some chili, then you add some chili powder and then you add more chili if the dish is not tasty enough.”

Yow! It sounds great and deadly. I might try modifying his recipes so that I can actually make them.

On another note, I’ve been following some really ugly issues regarding women and women’s right, not only in India but in Nigeria, too. I know women in both countries have gone into the streets to protest these atrocities and I stand with them. I want those kids in Nigeria back and I want women in all parts of India to be able to walk the street unmolested.

Posted in Family, Food, Recipes

Polish Penicillin

image

Comfort food, polish style. Chicken soup the way my grandmother made it. Start with a nice soup chicken, one that has some flavor. Dump it into a pot and add a few quarts of water. Quarter a medium onion and add that to the pot. If you have some parsnips, you can add some of those too. Bring to a boil and let the mixture simmer for about 1 hour. While you’re waiting, peel and cut some carrots. I usually like large chunks. Now for the final touch: cabbage. Take a quarter cabbage and slice. I also like these on the large size.

After 1 hour, remove the chicken, the onions, and the parsnips. Toss in the carrots and return to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 15 minutes. Now add the cabbage and cook for another 20 minutes. Debone and cut up the chicken while the carrots and cabbage are cooking. When the vegetables are cooked add the chicken along with salt and pepper, to taste.

I usually serve this over rice or noodles. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can make your own noodles, just like my grandmother did!

Enjoy!

Posted in Food, Recipes

Cold. Snow. Lasagne. Yes.

I like to eat something warming and hearty on a weekend like this. Even with a empty-ish pantry, I was able to put together a very nice looking and smelling Quick Lasagne With Bean Sauce. The recipe comes from Jane Brody‘s Good Food Book. This book was published back in the day when high carbohydrate meals were all the rage. Yes, this has noodles and it’s delicious, thank you very much.

Jane Brody Cookbook

There ya go. Here’s the recipe:

Quick Lasagne with Bean Sauce

Bean Sauce:
1 tbs oil
2 tsp minced garlic
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cups cooked or canned red or pink beans
4 cups tomato puree or 2 cups tomato sauce and 2 cups puree
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
Salt and pepper to taste

Remaining Ingredients:
3/4 lb uncooked lasagne noodles
2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
8 ounces part-skim mozzarella, thinly sliced or grated
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Prepare the sauce by heating the oil and sauteeing the garlic and onions for a minute. Add the beans and the tomatoes, oregano, basil and salt/pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes.

To assemble the lasagne, take a 9 x 13″ baking pan and spread a thin layer of the sauce over the bottom. Arrange the noodles over the top, so that they don’t overlap. Cover the noodle layer with half the ricotta and half the mozzarella. Then add about a third of the remaining sauce. Repeat with another layer of noodles, adding the rest of the ricotta and mozzarella and another third of the sauce. Layer the top, add the remaining sauce and sprinkle the top with the Parmesan cheese.

Cover the baking pan with a tight layer of aluminum foil. Bake in a 350 degree oven for one hour. If the mixture still has too much liquid, uncover the pan and bake another 10 – 15 minutes.

Pan of Lasagne Sauce
Pan of Lasagne Sauce
Lasagne Layer One
Lasagne Layer One

It smells wonderful, even at this stage! Just keep going until you’re out of ingredients.

Lasagne Layer Two With Sauce
Lasagne Layer Two With Sauce

When it’s ready, toss it in the oven and forget about it for an hour.

All Done and Ready for the Oven
All Done and Ready for the Oven

Take it out of the oven and you’re done!

Let's Eat!
Let’s Eat!

 

Posted in Food, Recipes

The Incredible, The Wonderful Squash and Bean Soup

Butternut SquashIt’s the perfect night for soup – cold and wet. I, however, have just come home from a massage so feel just fiiiiiine, thank you very much.

I put the ingredients together for this soup before I left and we were eating about 40 minutes later. Got to love that, too. I’ve had this recipe kicking around for years, sitting in a humongous file folder with recipe clippings I’ve had since the early 1990s. A few weekends ago I decided to tackle that folder and divide it into categories that I could deal with, like vegetarian dinners, breakfast, meat dinners, side dishes, soups, etc. I rescued this soup recipe from folder limbo and and so, so happy I did.

I think butternut squash works best with this soup. It complements the flavor of the carrots to add a very mild sweetness to the broth. And, of course, it really does matter what kind of soup stock you use. I made my own a few days ago, from odds and ends – including bones – that I had laid away in my freezer.

Winter Squash and White Bean Soup
(recipe adapted from Cooking Light magazine)

1 tbs olive oil
4 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
2 cups chopped leek (about 3 leeks)
3/4 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 tsp chopped fresh or 1/2 tsp dried rubbed sage
1/2 tsp salt
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups vegetable stock
5 cups water
2 cups chopped green cabbage
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 – 2 cups cannellini or other white beans, drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven (soup pot) over medium heat until hot. Add squash and next six ingredients (squash through 1 garlic clove). Sautee 10 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of vegetable stock, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add the other cup of stock, the water and bring to a boil. Partially cover, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes until vegetables are tender. Add cabbage and beans and simmer again for about 15 minutes, or until the cabbage is tender. Add fresh parsley and serve.

Alternatively, you can substitute all stock or part stock and part water for the proportions outlined in this recipe.

Posted in Food, Recipes, Summer

Today’s Two-For-One

Cook me, baby!

Spent today cooking, cooking, cooking. There must be something I’m trying to get out of my system. Either that, or the huge loads of vegetables we typically collect in the summer are making me feel guilty. Don’t waste that! It’s fresh. It was plucked out of the ground just this morning. You’ve got a freezer, right? Get those pots out, girl.

I took care of two items cluttering my fridge and counters this afternoon. Our neighbors/condo co-owners belong to an organic farm share and kindly shared a huge bag of fresh beets. They’re not fond of beets, but they thrill me to my Polish core. Beet soup. Beet salads. Grated beets. You name it, I love it. I whipped up a humongous batch of  Rydzynski family beet soup, straight out of my grandmother’s kitchen and passed on to me via my dad. Every family probably has a grandmother like this: about 4 feet tall, hair in a bun, black orthopedic shoes and a pot of something on the stove (or in the oven) morning, noon and night. When we were kids we were ritually led to her ancient kitchen, seated onto uncomfortable kitchen chairs and given a plate of something home made to eat. Woe to the kid who didn’t finish it. Hey – people starved to death in the old country. They sure as hell weren’t going to do that here.

I’ll eventually share the recipe. In its current shape it’s a bit hard to decode and I want to play around with the proportions, particularly those of sugar to vinegar. Sweet-sour soups are an Eastern European thing, and they’re really good.

Can you spell borscht?

I also made my second batch of tomato sauce, this time from Marcella Hazan‘s The Classic Italian Cookbook (a real classic. Get it!). She has three fresh-tomato sauces that are absolutely out of this world. They are simply called Tomato Sauce I, Tomato Sauce II and Tomato Sauce III. They vary in the amount of time the tomatoes are cooked. Tomato Sauce I, which I made this afternoon, is the longest-cooking recipe. It’s a simple procedure involving plum tomatoes, olive oil, salt and smidgens of onion, carrot, celery and sugar. I use this sauce to accompany gnocci if I’m having it plain. It also pairs extraordinarily well with chicken. Give it a try yourself and see what you think:

Tomato Sauce I

2 pounds, fresh, ripe plum tomatoes (remove seeds and skin beforehand if you don’t have a food mill)
1/2 cup good quality olive oil
1/3 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/3 cup finely chopped carrot
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
1 – 2 tsp salt, to taste (I use 1 tsp)
1/4 tsp granulated sugar

Wash tomatoes in cold water. Core and slice in half, lengthwise. Simmer in a covered saucepan for 10 minutes. Remove cover and simmer gently for 1 1/2 hours more.

Puree the tomatoes through a food mill (if you have one), to remove the seeds and skin. Meanwhile, wash out the pot you were using and add the olive oil. Add the onion and saute until just translucent, not brown. Add carrot and celery and saute for just another minute.

Add the pureed tomato, the salt and the sugar. Cook at a gentle simmer, uncovered or partially covered, for another 20 minutes. Stir from time to time to prevent sticking.

If you try any of the sauces I’ve mentioned, please do let me know. I’d be curious to know what you think of them.

Posted in Food, Recipes, Seasons, Summer

Wednesday’s Cooking Class

In my next life I’ll be tomato sauce

I picked up a honkin’ big parcel of plum tomatoes (seconds, so they were cheap!) at our local farm stand a few days ago and have been gradually transforming them into a variety of different sauces. I made marinara sauce a few days ago, one of my favorite recipes that, oddly, calls for no basil but plenty of garlic and oregano and about a cup of chopped mushrooms. The resulting sauce is light and extremely flavorful. It stands best on its own, over pasta with a main meat course served separately.

I found the recipe years ago somewhere out on the internet. I think it may have been posted on a usenet site, back in the days of 2400 baud modems. I had a Mac Plus back then and felt so very up to date with it!

The old modem and computer are long gone, but I’ve been making this pasta sauce ever since. Give it a try and see what you think.

Marinara Sauce

Use fresh tomatoes, in season, for this recipe

2 tbs olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 large cloves garlic, chopped
8 medium, very ripe, tomatoes (peel and seed if desired. I usually don’t bother)
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 tsp dried oregano
2/3 cup tomato paste
1/4 tsp black pepper, or to taste
1 tsp salt, or to taste

Heat oil in large frying pan or stock pot. Saute onion and garlic. Stir frequently and let cook until the onions are translucent. Add the remaining ingredients. Simmer at low heat for at least one hour, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. The sauce will improve with additional cooking.