Archive for ‘‘Merican’

March 3, 2013

Frittata, Frittata, Frittata, Je T’aime

by cillefish

For the frittata-uninitiated, these are basically quiches without crusts — firm, cakelike omelets cooked slowly over low heat. My first efforts at these resulted in scrambled eggs, but a good frittata actually can be super simple and surprisingly classy for something so packed full of good things. Tips to simplify:
Frittata

  • The right hardware: A big, cured skillet is best for this recipe since the frittata turns out particularly attractive if you sit it under the broiler for a minute or two, and I don’t trust teflon or the “wrap the plastic handle in foil” method not to do nasty things in the oven.
  • Butter is better: If your skillet isn’t (or is) well cured, barely-browning some butter in the bottom of the pan right before you pour in the egg mix will help it stay loose and come out a little easier.
  • Implements that help: A big, flexible pancake spatula is also a plus here, as is one of those knives that looks like a soft-cheese knife but has very good, small serrations on the bottom for astoundingly excellent julienne-slicing.
  • Shortcut: For the faint of heart or accident-prone [me], the baking method also works: butter a deep pie dish, do whatever stovetop prep is necessary to get the veggies where you want them, and pop the whole thing, uncovered, into a 350° oven for, say, 30min.

Spinach, Red Pepper, Onion, and Feta Frittata:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, halved vertically and thinly sliced
  • 2 red bell pepper, quartered lengthwise and sliced very thinly
  • 10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed out (I up it to 15oz)
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/4 to 1/2 c crumbled feta
  • optional: 1 Tbsp pre-grated parmesan
  • optional: 1/4 c to 1/2 c chopped fresh parsley, or 1-2 Tbsp dried (I omit this)
  • 1 tsp italian seasoning (I used 1 heaping tsp)
  • Pepper to taste or a pinch of crushed chili pepper (the egg can handle it)
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter

Preparation:

  1. Pop the spinach in a bowl in the microwave on half-power to start it thawing. Meanwhile, chop everything. More Frittata goodness
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June 19, 2012

Summer Italian Soup with Soup-Bean Mix & Leftover “Steak”

by cillefish

Bean soup always takes a little while due to the overnight soaking (the 1- or 2-hour “quick soak in hot water method seems to curse the results somehow, so I avoid it).  However, this one’s worth it. A nice soup mix in smaller beans / peas / lentils makes it hearty but not too beany, and the carrot and tomato brighten it up. Plus, it’s got spinach in it and manages to pull that off without reminding you of grand-maman’s cabbage soup.

  • Timing: Count on an overnight soak, 8-20 min prep (depending on how snazzy you are with chopping stuff), then just under 2 hours of “sit and wait while it cooks” time.
  • Results: 10 servings. Very filling. Low calorie (roughly 200 calories per serving)

Summer Italian Soup with 16-Bean Soup Mix, Tomatoes, Carrot, Parsnip, and Leftover “Steak”

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp hot chili oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, minced (or chopped then smashed)
  • 4 carrots, sliced pretty thin & diced
  • 1 medium parsnip, handled just like the carrots
  • 1 container Low Sodium Vegetable Broth + 4 c water (or 8 c water and 2-4 vegetable bouillon cubes)
  • 1/4 c lentils
  • 1 (28 ounce) can or 2 1/2 c diced tomatoes (italian seasoning or plain)
  • 1 (10 ounce) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed out and squeezed of water
  • 1 tsp ground red pepper (seems like a lot, but the beans handle it)
  • 2 tsp dried oregano, or 1 1/2 loose Tbsp fresh
  • 1 c dry lentils, sorted and rinsed (optional)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp dried basil
  • 1/2 to 1/3 c Fry’s Vegan Steak Strips (or leftover cooked meatballs or other lean beefish item), thawed and chopped to 1/2″ cubes
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice (optional)

Preparation:

Soak beans (1 night):

  • Sort (to remove stones / sand) beans, rinse, and then in a large bowl soak (overnight – you can also soak them in HOT water for about 2 hours but the overnight is better).

Before you turn the heat on (~10min):

  • Set the spinach out in the sun or in someplace else it can thaw (or microwave it – see note below)
  • Drain the beans. While you chop things, let them sit with the vegetable broth in their bowl.
  • Chop the carrot & parsnip and set aside; chop & smash the garlic.

Deal with the carroty stuff (~10min):

  • In a stock pot on medium heat, saute the onion and garlic until the onion starts to turn translucent on the edges; dump in the carrot and parsnip and toss around for about another 5min.
  • Add in soaked beans, vegetable broth, and water.


Cook beans (1.5 to 2 hours):

  • Bring to a boil, then lower heat when beans are ABOVE a simmer (at a “good boil” but not rolling).
  • Cook, covered, for 1.5 to 2 hours.

Add & cook other ingredients (~20min):

  • When beans are just about done, add in tomatoes, spinach, red pepper, oregano, basil, steak strips & optional lentils (if necessary, chop can tomatoes with kitchen scissors or spoon before mixing)
  • Cook 20 min more or until all bean items are done
  • Add salt, lemon, & additional red pepper to taste

Serve

Tips & Notes:

  • Thawing spinach: put in cardboard, in bowl in microwave and cook on 4% power for 2-4 minutes. Squeeze spinach in cardboard so water goes into same bowl (you can use water for part of broth water if you feel like maximizing your nutrient intake here)
  • Oregano: if you don’t do the chili oil and go easy on the pepper, you can bump this up to 2 tsp dry / up to 2 Tbsp fresh
  • Serving: Plain water crackers are awesome crumbled up in this
  • Based on this recipe
May 20, 2012

Mother’s Day Quesadillas

by cillefish

We made these for Mother’s Day along with the Spicy Orange Salad and Garlicky Black Beans. I like this recipe because it is easy, involves caramelized onions, and has lots of flavor while still being mellow enough to allow for a bolder side dish.

I’m used to Gouda being a mild, smoky, buttery cheese with a texture close to Monterey Jack’s, but for this recipe I used some “1000-day Gouda” from Trader Joe’s, and this stuff was really good — a bit more smoky and tangy, with a texture closer to good Parmesan, but still soft enough to cut easily.

You can use normal oil, but the tortillas will want to soak it up, and in this situation you may want to preheat the oven to 300 and toast the quesadillas up a bit after you make them so the outsides are a bit more crispy than floppy.

To make them all together, start the black beans, then get the onions going. Make the salad and set aside. Finish the onions and tortillas, keeping an eye on the beans. Serve it all.

Dutch Cheese, Barbecue, and Caramelized Onion Quesadillas
Recipe adapted from the <a href=”http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Bbq-Onion-and-Smoked-Gouda-Quesadillas-with-Pea-Shoot-Mini-Salad-242488&#8243; target=”_blank”>Bon Appetit recipe here</a>.

Makes: about 4

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pound yellow onions (about 2 large), peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup purchased barbecue sauce
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • 1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro
  • ~6 ounces coarsely grated smoked Gouda cheese (about 1 1/2 to 2 cups loose) I used about 1 c lowfat “soft dutch” smoked cheese from Trader Joe’s, and about 1/2 c “1000 Day Gouda”
  • ~3oz Parmesan Reggiano, grated (optional)
  • 8 8-inch-diameter flour tortillas
  • Atomizer full of oil, or cooking-oil spray

Method:

  • Slice onions and put in nonstick pan with oil in skillet. Saute on med about 10min, or until very soft and brownish (some of them should be completely caramelized). If they are getting black on the edges before then, you have the heat too high. Meanwhile, grate the cheeses
  • Add BBQ sauce, water, and hot sauce. Stir until sauce coats onions. Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro now for a milder flavor (or, for a stronger cilantro flavor, wait on the cilantro and add it with the cheese to the individual quesadillas).
  • Bring a large skillet or saucepan to medium heat and spray with oil. Place 1 tortilla on the skillet, top with 1/4 cheese, 1/4 onion mixture, and 1/4 cilantro (if that’s not already in the onions). Focus on 1/3 of the way in, rather than dumping it all in the middle; leave about 1/2″ around edge. Use a spatula to press down. When bottom tortilla develops dark brown toasted spots, turn over. Put on serving plate. Repeat with the other tortillas
  • As the next tortilla is done, use kitchen scissors to cut the previous one into 6. Alternatively, you can make folded-over calzone style half-quesadillas, each using 1/8 of the mix each (results in more tortilla per quesadilla).
  • Serve
May 12, 2012

Simple Garlic Pasta & Garlic Bread

by cillefish

These are 2 recipes I don’t make together, but they’re similarly tasty and easy, and garlicky.

Pasta with Garlic and Oil

Great flavor: sauteing the garlic slowly gives it a perfect balance of sweet and strong with a lot of character and flavor. More subtle and nuanced than you’d expect from the amount of garlic in this thing.

Tips: Good with breadcrumbs on top, but toast these before you start the recipe. Also, you’ll need to add extra oil if you’re using fettuccine or another pasta with a large surface area. It doesn’t hurt to put a cup or measuring cup in the colander as a reminder to collect some of the pasta water before draining the pasta.

Ingredients
(serves 4 people as a main / only course. Half-recipe measurements are in parentheses)

  • Salt
  • 1 lb spaghetti (1/2 lb)
  • 6 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (4 Tbsp), DIVIDED into 3Tbsp & 3Tbsp (or 2 and 2)
  • 1/4 c cloves garlic, smashed thoroughly and minced – a garlic press is a good call here. 1/4 c is ~ 30 small, 20 med, or 10 large, or 5 extra-large cloves (1/8 c is about 6-8 medium-large cloves). Reserve about 3 garlic cloves, mashed, for the end (2 clove)
  • 3/4 tsp hot red pepper flakes (1/4 + 1/8 tsp)
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves, or 3 tsp dried (1 1/2 Tbsp fresh or tsp dried)
  • 2 tsp lemon juice (1 tsp)
  • 1/2 c coarsely grated Parmesan Reggiano (I use about the same for the half recipe
  • Optional addition: 1-3 roasted red peppers, minced fine using kitchen scissors

Method:

  1. Mince the garlic before starting this.
  2. Heat small, heavy-bottomed nonstick saucepan over low heat.
  3. On another burner, put over high heat to bring to a boil: 1 tsp salt, 2 tsp oil, and water per pasta package directions. Pasta will be done right after or partway through the other ingredients, so keep an eye on it. If it’s done before, drain and toss every 5 min to prevent it from sticking. Let the cooking pot cool mostly.
  4. Meanwhile, in the saucepan, combine half the oil (3 or 2 Tbsp), all the garlic except the clove or 2 reserved, 1/4 tsp salt. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, about 8-12 minutes until the garlic gets very sticky and looks the color of straw. It may foam. Remove from heat.
  5. Add in and combine thoroughly: the red pepper flakes, parsley, lemon juice, remaining garlic, roasted pepper (if using), and 2 Tbsp pasta cooking water. Add a little extra oil if it wants to stick.
  6. In cooking pot or heated serving bowl, thoroughly toss noodles and other stuff, and divide into dishes for serving. Top with Parm and / or breadcrumbs. Serve immediately.

Garlic Bread

This recipe is for a half a loaf of french bread – double it for a whole loaf
Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise (I use the olive oil mayonnaise for this, as the texture and flavor are much lighter and complement the seasonings well)
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp garlic, crushed in garlic press (about 1 medium clove)
  • 1 tsp to 1 Tbsp dried parsley or Italian seasoning
  • Pepper (optional – I don’t add this)
  • 1/2 c grated Parmesan Reggiano
  • 1/2 loaf french or sourdough bread, sliced lengthwise.
  • foil

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 475° F.
  2. Cream mayo and butter in a cup or small bowl. Add olive oil as necessary to get it to a texture slightly damper than cake frosting. Add spice & garlic.
  3. Butter the bread thoroughly with the mixture, making sure to get the edges. sprinkle with Parm, focusing mainly on middle. Sprinkle with pepper.
  4. Put bread, butter-up on cookie sheet and bake 8-12 min, until cheese looks melted and edges of bread just turned a toasty brown but are not overdone.
  5. Let cool 3-5 min, then slice while it’s still pretty hot.
  6. Serve hot.