One woman's foray into cooking for herself, for her family, and for her friends. It's not always picture-perfect, sometimes a little messy,
but it's always delicious. Join me in exploring new recipes, savoring the "résultats" and learning from the "erreurs".


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Panzanella


(I need to start out by saying the photos here will look much better if you take your glasses off. I'm not sure why I can't seem to take a picture anymore. Lack of practice has a lot to do with it, I'm sure. That and being distracted by the Big Bang Theory rerun that was on tv. I'm rarely home for this show. *sigh* Am I the only one who finally developed an appreciation for this series??)

Back to the dish: I really do love this salad. Evidently it was created to use up a rather tasteless bread. The recipe I based this on has you just tear up the bread. Rather brutish, if you ask me. I prefer to slice Italian or French bread rather thickly, then lightly toast (in the oven or a toaster, your choice). I like the kind of 'crouton-ish' texture of the bread in the salad when it's toasted.

The flavors of the season really come through here. Nice ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, and sweet cucumbers just sing summer. An uncomplicated dressing finishes off the dish. Eat it alone for a light lunch or serve it alongside a simply prepared chicken dish, and Roberto's your uncle. :-)

Panzanella

2 medium to large ripe tomatoes, diced into bite-sized pieces
1 small cucumber, pared and thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

6 - 8 thick slices of French or Italian bread, lightly toasted, cut into bite-sized pieces

Mix vegetables and basil in a bowl. Drizzle olive oil and red wine vinegar over vegetables. Season with salt & pepper, to taste.

Layer half of the bread in bottom of serving dish. Spread half of the vegetables over the bread. Layer rest of the bread over first layer of vegetables, and finish salad with spreading the rest of the vegetables along with rest of the dressing over top of second layer of bread. Cover and rest in refrigerator for 1 hour. Serve immediately.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Coconut Shrimp Curry

Simple, tasty dishes are a favorite of mine these days. The days of wanting to try my hand at puff pastry from scratch and recipes utilizing every pot and pan in the kitchen, 42 ingredients, and 2-1/2 days of prep time no longer hold the same sheen they once did. So, when I came upon this recipe via a recent stroll through the land of Foodgawker, I was immediately hooked.

Barb's photos at WishfulChef were drool-inspiring. With all the ingredients on hand, my kitchen was soon wafting with the heady aromas of curry, shallots, garlic, and chili powder. And the flavor was comforting and lived up to the anticipation. It was just what I needed on a day when a little Asian comfort food was in order. Thank you, Barb.

Coconut Shrimp Curry
(I tweaked the recipe a little for my tastes, omitting the sweetener used in the original recipe, and halving the milk used in addition to the coconut milk for a little less brothy result.)

coconut or canola oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, finely diced
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 cup potatoes, diced into small cubes
1 small can coconut milk(about 6-8 ounces)
1/2 can of milk (use the empty coconut milk can to measure)
8 ounces shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 medium tomato, diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1-2 teaspoons chili powder, or to taste
3/4 cup frozen peas
salt and pepper, to taste

In a large pan, heat oil and add curry powder, cook for about two minutes. Stir in garlic and shallot and cook for a minute. Mix in potatoes, then stir together with coconut milk and regular milk. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, honey and chili powder. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add shrimp and frozen peas and cook for a few more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with basmati or brown rice.

Yield: 4 servings

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Kale, Cranberry & Quinoa Salad


In my efforts to eat healthier and explore healthier food options, I came across this recipe. I had heard of quinoa (say keen-wa) before, I'd even bought some that had been sitting in my pantry for quite a while, but I had never cooked it or eaten it anywhere. A little research revealed that this grain contains more protein than any other grain. One website indicates that there are varieties of quinoa that are more than 20 percent protein, making this grain a boon for vegetarians.

And kale. Touted as one of the world's "super foods", kale has risk-lowering benefits for at least five different types of cancers, including cancer of the bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate(1). It comprehensively supports the body's detoxification system. Kale's extremely high vitamin-K content ("one cup of kale provides far more micrograms of vitamin K than any of our 135 World's Healthiest foods"(1)) makes it a champion in anti-inflammatory properties.

Whoa.

But does this all taste good??

In a word, Yes.

I love this dish so much, I've made it at least once a week for the last several weeks. In addition to my dinner, the leftovers heat up beautifully, becoming my lunch for the next couple of days. The toasted pine nuts add a bit of crunch, the dried cranberries give it a touch of sweetness, the sauteed shallots give it a tiny bit of caramelization that I just adore. Don't forget the salt... it definitely needs it. And definitely don't forget to thoroughly rinse the quinoa or your dish will have an awfully bitter aftertaste. You can smell the saponins on the quinoa. You'll know you've rinsed the grain enough - you won't smell the bitter coating at all any longer.

Thanks to Beyond the Plate for this wonderful recipe. I am deeply grateful!


Kale, Cranberry and Quinoa Salad

2 cups water
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 ounces/ 56 grams pine nuts
1/2 pound/ 260 grams kale
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium shallot (about 2 ounces/50 grams) peeled and thinly sliced
3 ounces/ 85 grams dried cranberries
1 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
1 teaspoon salt

Combine quinoa and water in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until all the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Stir the mixture about 10 minutes into cooking to prevent the quinoa from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Set aside.

Toast the pine nuts in a small, dry saute pan over low heat. Watch them carefully so they don't burn. Remove from the heat and reserve.

Remove the stems of the kale, then stack the leaves and thinly slice. Finely chop the stems as well.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over moderate heat. Add the shallots and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the kale and the cranberries, stir, then leave to cook, covered, for about 5 minutes.

Add the pine nuts, chili flakes (if using) and salt, stir and leave to cook again, covered, for another 5 minutes. If the kale starts to stick to the pan, add some water, a tablespoon at a time. (I use a non-stick skillet which eliminates any concern of, um, stickage...)You want just enough moisture to create steam in the skillet, but not too much to give you a sauce.

Toss the kale mixture and quinoa in a medium bowl and serve immediately, or at room temperature. (My personal preference is to serve this warm!)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Oaxaca Pizza


My Aunt Joanie is a good cook...no... a GREAT cook! She never steers me wrong when it comes to recipes. And she didn't this time, either. She told me about this simple pizza she makes every Friday night. And while it may be simple to make, it's far from simple in flavor.

Does one need another pizza recipe?? Is there anything original anymore when it comes to pizza? I think so!! At least this was new to me. First, she puts a pint of grape tomatoes in a baking pan, drizzles them with olive oil and adds salt & pepper, puts them in a hot oven (450F - 500F) for 15 - 20 minutes, then sets them aside to cool.


To save herself time (and trouble), my aunt purchases ready-made pizza dough from Central Market (pizza parlors have been known to sell dough very inexpensively, as well). And seriously, I would have purchased pre-made dough as well, but I was house-bound (a self-imposed sentence), so I blitzed up a batch of dough (see recipe below) in my KitchenAid  mixer in less than 10 minutes. I divided the dough into thirds.

Once the dough has risen, place the dough on a piece of parchment and spread out. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the dough. Transfer the dough onto a pizza stone in a 500F. oven (a pizza peel makes short work of this), and bake for about 8 - 10 minutes.


Now here's the big difference between this pizza and any I've ever had before: oaxaco cheese (say wha-ha-ka).  This Mexican cheese grates similarly to mozzarella but is a bit saltier, more flavorful, which makes this pizza tastier! Spread the grated oaxaca cheese over the baked crust and dot the pizza with the roasted grape tomatoes. Sprinkle grated Parmigiana-Reggiano over the entire pizza and place back into the oven. Bake for about 5 - 8 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly.

Before serving, strew basil cut into a chiffonade over the pizza. It's beautiful and delicious! (I'm sure you noticed the lack of gorgeous greenery over my pizza... )

Really, those roasted grape tomatoes and that wonderful oaxaca cheese... now that's a pizza! Thanks, Aunt Joanie!!

Pizza Crust

4 cups flour
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten (this really makes a difference in the texture of the dough)
2-1/4 teaspoons dried instant yeast
1-1/2 cup tepid water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 teaspoons salt

Mix flour, vital wheat gluten, instant yeast, water and olive oil. If dough does not come together and form a ball, add a bit more water. Let dough rest 10 minutes. Add salt, mix well, and knead for 5 minutes. Place dough in oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in draft-free area to rise until double, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.



P.S. I would have posted a few days earlier, but I was electronically stymied. The cord connecting my camera and computer was frayed almost in two! However, we are back in business! Thanks to all for your patience!!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Where have you been, young lady?!

Good question. Wish I had a good answer...

I did have some medical issues that affected my eating. Which affected my desire to cook. Hence, no posts for over 6 months. BUT things are looking up. And I'm resolved to get cooking again!

I have done a little cooking. I actually baked a potato just the other day! (Let's hear a little woo-hoo from the peanut gallery!) And I've been making a quinoa-and-kale dish that's really good (seriously, it's REALLY good! No, I haven't turned 'treehugger', but I am trying to eat a little healthier...)

So, keep your fingers crossed. If all goes well, I may actually have a recipe post this weekend!!

Thanks to all who have emailed to check on me. Your kind gestures really meant a lot to me!


Lori
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