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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Linguinne With Shrimp And Tomato

New Year's Eve.
( Almost as good as Heinz spaghetti )

Vegetable Stock

I think this will be for all those dedicated vegetarians out there. This is a very useful thing to have because sometimes you will cook something that does not take a lot of time therefore you won't have the benefit of the cooking stock to add flavor to your dish. A good example of this is squash. Tomorrow or the next day I am making a zucchini pie. It doesn't take a lot of time to cook it and if I don't add some vegetable stock it won't have much flavor really.
First you keep all the peeling and ends and tops of your vegetables that you use on a daily basis. If you don't do that then you will need to buy whole vegetables and that seems a waste. Keep a plastic bag in the freezer and add the peelings when you have them. Don't use strong vegetables like parsnips, turnips, cabbage and the like. They will only overpower the other flavors and you will end up with turnip juice.
Good vegetables are:
Mushroom stalks
Tomato but not too many or it will color the stock
Parsley stalks
The green of the leek
A little squash but not too much.
No cauliflower, turnips, parsnips, sweet peppers, cabbage etc etc.
Use a big stockpot for this. Heat some olive oil in the stockpot and add a sliced onion or two to it. Cook this for a little while and add the other vegetables and cook them just enough to get the flavors out. Then add a few bay leaves, some thyme, some whole peppercorns and a whole head of garlic or two cut cross ways. Throw it in skin and all. Be sure to keep all your parsley stalks and add them at this point.
Fill the pot with water, bring to the boil and let simmer for an hour or so on the side of the stove. Allow to cool and strain into plastic containers and freeze.
The photographs, from the bottom to the top, should give you a general idea of the way it is done. The top photo is the final product getting ready to be used in some dish after it is strained again.
Making stocks is great fun and very satisfying for any cook and the added bonus is that you use the all your vegetables, nothing is wasted.
You only have to do this occasionally because you should get quite a lot from one stockpot.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Spicy Red Onion, Bok Choy And Snow Peas With Brown Rice

This is a fantastic dish. Full of flavor and spice! It normally calls for okra but I couldn’t ‘t find any because of the weather.
I substituted snow peas and bok choy and it turned out better I think. I will always use these ingredients and add the okra when it comes back.
You will need.

Red onion
Tomato both canned and fresh
Garlic -- lots
A little tomato juice from the tinned tomatoes..
Mustard seeds
Cumin seeds
Tablespoon or so of vinegar
Snow or snap peas
A little olive oil
Brown rice

Prepare everything.
Trim and blanche the bok choy.
Top and tail the snow peas
Slice the red onion
Grind the mustard and cumin seeds
Quarter the fresh tomatoes
Etc etc,

Start by slowly cooking the sliced red onions in the olive oil. Add the canned tomatoes that you have quartered and allow to cook for a few minutes or until all the liquid has gone. Then add the vinegar and reduce it out. Add the garlic, crushed of course. Add the turmeric and the ground seeds and then add the tomato juice with a little water. This will be your base sauce so you season it as you like and cook it out for a few minutes. Add a bay leaf and some thyme.
This should turn into a red sauce with tomato pieces and red onions in it. Correct the seasoning and the garlic. Sometimes the garlic cooks out so it needs to be refreshed. Just add a little chopped garlic to it and the garlic taste will come back.
Add the quartered fresh tomatoes at this time. The objective is to cook them but keep their shape so don’t add them too soon.
Sauté the bock choy and the snow peas and remember to season as you go. Put the vegetables into the sauce: let them sit together for a bit so the flavors combine and season one final time without breaking the vegetables.
One last thing is to make sure that you make enough sauce to the amount of rice
Put the brown rice into a deep bowl and spoon the mixture over the rice. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

You can use any type of vegetable you want. I used these because they were cheap. 80 cents for the peas and the same for the bok choy.
Don’t cook the vegetables too much or they will lose their crunchiness and disappear in the sauce. Think of heating them in the sauce rather than cooking them.
Try to have everything ready at the same time so nothing sits around and overcooks.
You can add and subtract as you wish. If you don’t have turmeric or don’t know what it is add something else like a pinch of paprika or cumin powder or even curry powder?
Turmeric is easy to find and very handy as a lot of Indian and Middle Eastern dishes call for it.
The brown rice is great. It is chewy and the perfect balance for the vegetables.
Remember that the mustard and cumin seeds will create a stay in the sauce unless you grind them really well. If that is unpleasand for you then buy them already ground. I like to use the mortar and pestle. It reminds me of the Gresham Hotel.
One last thing is to make sure that you make enough sauce to the amount of rice
This was a great dish. I will definitely make it again but next time I will make more of it.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Rice And Greens

Simple little dish of tomato rice and collard greens. One of my favorite combinations. I usually make these with some black beans and it is a great uncomplicated meal. I added a little tomato puree while I was doing the rice and got a good flavor and a nice color. Everyone does that of course.
The oysters are pacific oysters served with some very finely chopped shallots and red wine vinegar with the addition of ground pepper, salt and a touch of garlic.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Potato Gnocchi, Stewed Tomatoes, Mushrooms And Garlic Bread

Recipe anon.


A middle eastern fast food snack. A puree of chickpeas with spices deep fried and served with lettuce tomato etc in pita bread. Minted cucumber salad and a yogurt sauce is also served with it as is hot sauce. Everything is put into the pita bread sauce is put over it with a few leaves of mint. Great stuff.
Here is a link in case anyone is interested in the origins of this food. I doubt there will be any interest in making if but if there is let me know and I will pass along a few tips.
Here is a recipe for this:
1 cup dried chickpeas or 16 oz. can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans.
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons flour
Oil for frying
Place dried chickpeas in a bowl, covering with cold water. Allow to soak overnight. Omit this step if using canned beans. Drain chickpeas, and place in pan with fresh water, and bring to a boil.Boil for 5 minutes, then let simmer on low for about an hour. Drain and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Combine chickpeas, garlic, onion, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper (to taste) in medium bowl. Add flour.Mash chickpeas, ensuring to mix ingredients together. You can also combine ingredients in a food processor. You want the result to be a thick paste. Form the mixture into small balls, about the size of a ping pong ball. Slightly flatten.Fry in 2 inches of oil at 350 degrees until golden brown (5-7 minutes).
Play around with the consistency and make sure your oil is hot. If it is not hot the falafels will fall apart. I also added a little white breadcrumbs to the mix to make it drier.
I didn't use a food processor but a potato masher instead. I found that it gave a better texture. That is a personal preference of course.
Also, use a deeper pan than I have used here because they bubble a lot as you can see. That could start a small grease fire as well as give you a fright.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Mushrooms And Squash En Croute, Winter Vegetables And Watercress Sauce.

Choose a variety of mushrooms and squash. Here we have domestic whites, chanterelles and portabellas. Do the same with the squash that is available where you live. Here I used Zuccini and acorn, I would have preferred butternut but there was none available due to the weather. Cut the large mushrooms into bite sizes ( remember they will shrink so go a little over what you want to end up with) and do the same with the squash. Blanche and refresh the squash.
Heat a little olive oil in a sturdy pan and start sauteeing the squash. Add the mushrooms according to their cooking times. chanterelles take longer than domestic for instance. While the mushrooms and squash are cooking add some chopped garlic, herbs and salt and pepper. Allow to cool.

Buy some puff pastry and roll out two sheets, enough for a bottom and a top for the amount of filling you have. Put the filling on the bottom, brush the edges with egg wash and lay the cover on top. Crimp the edges and brush with egg wash. Put the whole thing on a baking sheet and start in a hot oven about 400 or so. When it starts to color turn the heat down so it will not burn but allow it to cook all the way through. Otherwise the pastry will collapse.
The vegetables here are bok choy, Fennel bulbs, slow baked roma tomatoes and green beans.

When cooked , 30 mins or so, allow to cool a little bit and slice. Serve with vegetables and sauce of your choice.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Omelette, Soup And Cabbage Potato Casserole.

On again with our vegetarian theme. This is not a true vegetarian because there is lamb in the scotch broth. You can substitue another soup and you have a vegetarian although not vegan meal. As far as I know vegans don't use eggs.

The high point of this is the potato and cabbage casserole and it was really good and easy to make.
You will need:
Chopped onion
Shredded cabbage
Juniper berries ( optional but great for the taste )
Olive oil
White wine
Salt and pepper.
Yukon gold or some other sturdy potato
Another root vegetable like parsnip.
White fluffy breadcrumbs and Sharp cheddar or similar cheese.
Saute the onions in a sauce pan until translucent. Add the cabbage and cook for about five minutes. Add the garlic and the juniper berries and continue cooking. Add the white wine and the seasoning and allow to cook for another few minutes.
When nice and hot pour the cabbage into a slow cooker and allow to cook until tender.

In the meantime cut the potatoes into large square with any other root vegetable you choose and blanche them and set them aside. .

In a medium hot pan add a little olive oil and saute off a little onion. add the potato and root vegetables and some chopped garlic and allow to simmer. Add the cabbage when it is cooked and mix the whole thing together. Put the mixture back into the slow cooker and cook until the potatoes are tender. Put the mixture into an oven proof dish, sprinkle with cheese and breadcrumbs and bake until golden brown.

For those of you who are not vegetarian you can add a little shredded bacon to the oil to saute the cabbage.

Note: The cabbage is not cooked in the traditional British or Irish way but in the French way. It is sauteed and slowly cooked until it breaks down rather than plunged into boiling water. The taste is quite different.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Soup And Salad

On with the vegetarian theme. This is not quite vegetarian because I added a little smoked bacon to the soup. You can also make the same soup with black beans.
This, as all soups are, is great this time of the year. You can make a big batch of this soup and freeze it in portions ready to be thawed and eaten. This particular soup was made some time in June and it was just as delicous today as it was then. You should freeze these soups as quickly as possible and when you take them out of the freezer you should give them about 3 minutes in the micro wave and then onto the stove. Get them hot as fast as possible as a matter of principal and habit.
To make this soup you will need:
As much navy beans as you want soup. I think 2 to 3 ozs of beans per portion. Steeped the night before.
equal quanitities of onion, carrot , leek and celery all cut up in small dice about as the same size as the bean or a tiny bit larger. The amount of diced vegetables should add up to about one third of the volume of beans and maybe more. Better more than less.
Bay leaf, thyme and if you like spicy a jalapeno pepper or a pepper of your choice
Plenty of chopped garlic
a little tomato paste and a little flour.
Olive oil and a touch of vinegar.
Salt and Pepper.
Heat the oil in a large pot and add the vegetables. Sweat the vegetables until you can smell the flavors combining. Drain and add the beans to the vegetables continue cooking for a minute or so. Add the vinegar and cook it out completely. The vinegar is just to give it a little edge so you just need a little.
Then add the tomato paste and combine everything with the heat for a few minutes.
Add the garlic and do the same thing.
Then add a little flour just to keep things together. Not too much or the soup will be too thick. Finally season with salt and pepper.
Allow to cook for a minute or two and then add either water or stock.
Bring to boil on the stove, then transfer to slow cooker and cook for a few hours.
Correct seasoning and serve.
If you are not vegetarian add some bacon to the oil to cook the vegetables. A smoked ham bone is also good.
There are a few things you can add to this soup as you serve it. Here is a little list.
Chopped fresh tomato
Parsley or Cilantro.
Sour cream
A little lime juice.
Remember that improvisation makes a good cook.
As for the salad:
This salad is just greens with a warm hard boiled egg out of the pot. Some radishes , a few scallions and a half a tomato. There are also some croutons that have been fried in olive oil and had chopped garlic added to them at the end and then seasoned.
This is one of my favorite dressings.
Chop up some onion or shallot and put it in the bottom of a mixing bowl, chop up a some garlic and do the same. Add a little dijon mustard and then stir in some olive oil. When it starts to thicken add some red wine vinegar. Everyone likes their dressing different. I like mine very sharp but you may not. Play with the quantities until you get the desired taste. If your dressing is exactly as you want it but is too thick you can add a little warm water to thin it.

Roasted Vegetable Medley With Pesto Dressing

This is a very simple and really delicious vegetarian dish. The vegetables in the pan are clockwise: Porcini Mushroom/Zucchinni/Corn/Fennel Bulb/Boiler Onions/Elephant Garlic/Scallion and finally vine tomatoes stuffed with a mixture of rice pilaff , garlic and spinach.
Here is how you do it. Buy these or your favorite vegetables. Remember you don't have to buy expensive items like porcini mushrooms. You can buy root vegetables like parsnips, turnips and the like. Butternut squash is also a good choice. Whatever you buy it needs to be able to stand up to roasting.
You peel these vegetables and cut them into the size you want and then you blanche them. Blanching means that you boil some water and add a little salt. You then plunge your vegetables into this boiling water for a minute or so and then you plunge them into cold water, preferably with a little ice. This will maintain the color of the vegetable. Then you drain the vegetables.When you have done all this you put a heavy bottomed pan on the burner and preheat it. Add a little olive oil and then add your vegetables accompanied by some sprigs of thyme or rosemary. At this point you season the vegetables with salt and pepper, preferably from a peppermill. I like things very spicy so I will add a jalapeno pepper. Add some whole cloves of garlic and put the whole thing into a hot oven and roast. Remove when cooked.
For the dressing: mix a little chopped garlic, chopped onion with equal measure of red wine or balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Then add some chopped basil. Mix well and correct the seasoning.
Note: The onions need to be preroasted so blanche them and roast them in a small pan before you start the other vegetables. They are roasted in the same way as the other vegetables.
When they are all cooked arrange them on a plate and spoon a little dressing over them.
Don't be a slave to recipes. If you don't have basil use anything you have, like mint or parsley or cilantro. If you don't have olive oil use regular vegetable oil.
This is my fourth straight vegetarian day. It is a very challenging cuisine but a very good one. I will get to the other recipes as soon as I get time. Meantime if you have any questions post them or send me an email. Remember cooking is an adventure.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Pasta With Greens And Egg.

More on this later but suffice it to say for the moment that the original idea came from

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Vegetarian Curry

Here is the recipe for the curry:
When I make curries for items that don't take long to cook like these vegetables or maybe small shrimp I make the curry sauce separate so these items don't overcook. If I make chicken or beef curry I will make the sauce and the principal meat at the same time so they cook together.
Here is how you make the sauce:
Chopped onions
Chopped tomato
Chopped celery
Olive oil
Curry powder
a little plain flour for thickening.
Bay leaf
Salt and pepper.
Slowly cook the onion in a little olive oil, half way through add the celery. Cook until nice and tender. Add the garlic and the tomato and cook a little more. Add the curry powder and the turmeric and bring all the flavors together by cooking a little longer. You should get the full aroma of the curry at this point so add more if you like your curry hot. Add a little flour at this point and cook for a minute or two. You should end up with a yellow mass in the pot. Add water or stock at this point. I always use water myself. Stir to a light sauce like consistency and allow to simmer on the edge of the stove. If it is too liquid then reduce it and conversely, too thick add liquid. I like to cook curry sauce for a while, I find it mellows the spices.
Then get all the vegetables you are going to use the only restriction is that the vegetables should have some body, cauliflower, parsnips, Yukon potatoes etc. use items that will retain their shape.
Cut all these up into fairly large pieces and sauté them off in a little olive oil just to bring out the flavors. Add seasoning and some garlic and cook for a minute with the lid on the pot.
Add the sauce without straining it and allow to cook. When it is cooked let it sit for about ten minutes or so and then serve with rice.
If you sauce is too thin after cooking the vegetables then take them out and put them in a colander and put the sauce back on the stove to reduce and thicken. Keep the vegetables warm but not too hot. You don't want them cooking too much.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Egg Cannelloni With Spinach, Mushrooms, Feta And Squash. Roasted Vine Tomatoes.

This one is very easy. You will need a little tomato sauce either bought or made. I think there is a recipe here for it.
Choose the vegetables you want to use and sauté them off in a little olive oil add a little seasoning and garlic of course. Let them cool in a colander to get all the moisture out of them when they are cooked. It is a good idea then to add a little chopped basil and correct the seasoning. Put them to the side in a warm place.
Depending on how many crepes you are making beat the eggs with a little milk and season. Heat a Teflon pan and add a drop of olive oil. Pour a very thin layer of the egg into the pan and make the crepe. Turn once.
Once you have everything prepared roll the vegetables in the crepes and place them on a Pyrex dish or something that will go from oven to table. Put the sauce around the cannelloni and sprinkle a little Italian cheese on top of the crepes, reheat in the oven and serve.
For the tomatoes: If you want to do these tomatoes just put them in a pan and add a few cloves of garlic and a little herb of your choice and put them into a medium oven to roast slowly. You may have to add a little white wine or water as they cook.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tortilla Soup And Vegetarian Sandwich.

One of those simple and great dindins. Classic tortilla soup, very spicy, served with toasted tortillas and sour cream and the tabasco sauce off camera. Vegetarian sandwich of 4 or 8 grain bread, tomatoes , thinly sliced mushrooms and hard boiled egg with a little red leaf lettuce. There types of sandwiches were very popular in little health food and vegetarian restaurants (to use the word loosely) on Orcas Island off the coast of Washington.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sauteed Oyster Appetizer And Spanish Tortilla With Baked Potato And Tossed Greens

Spanish Omelette aka tortilla, not the mexican kind. It is like a flat omelette with all the vegetables the you desire in it. Great for an easy night with this nice tossed salad and baguette croutons you see here. The baked potato rounds the whole thing off nicely as did the couple of glasses of Beringer Chardonnay that I had with it.
The oysters were simply rolled in seasoned flour and cooked in olive oil then served on a garlic crouton with fresh lime. I rubbed the crouton with garlic to add to the flavor. This is the last of the fresh tartar sauce. Really good appetizer. I really like oysters and the variety here in the United States was very surprising to me. Oregon and Washinton seem to be the best places for oysters on the west coast.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Barbequed Ribs, Parsnip Mash With Mint And Caramelized Onions

Delicious ribs slow roasted on top of onion and rosemary and finished off with a few coats of bbq sauce. The onions underneath the ribs pick up all the flavors of the herb and the beef/bbq and the sugar in the onions turns to caramel giving it a delicious aftertaste. Easy to make and not too expensive. The ribs were not on sale so they cost $2.20 or so the onion cost very little and one tomato will not break the bank. Parsnips were very expensive this time around and it was too late before I noticed it. Watch the prices there are bargains to be had. Because of the price of the parsnips for instance this dish cost 40% more than it would have had I been aware of the price. I would have chosen something less pricey. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pasta And Appetizer

Made a little appetizer of pan fried oysters, hard boiled egg and beetroot salad. Later I made this nice pasta.
These are fresh beets which I love. I mixed them with a little garlic, red wine vinegar and olive oil and added a few slices of red onion and salt and pepper of course. This is a great little salad. The oysters are from Willipa Bay in Washington. I breaded them and fried them in a mixture of olive oil and butter then squeezed a little lime juice over them as they were cooking. The tartar sauce is fresh and the recipe is with the fish and chips post. This is a great little appetizer. The advantage of having an appetizer is that it stops you from picking while you are cooking the main meal. Sometime you pick so much that you don't feel like eating anymore.
The pasta is a rigatoni with spicy italian sausage. Rigatoni is by far my favorite pasta. This is an olive oil based sauce with tomatoes, mushrooms and some chopped parsley. Garlic too of course.
The trick of doing a good pasta is to have all your ingredients ready in advance ( as with all mediterranean dishes ) and add them incrementally so that they are all cooked at the same time. Always add a little garlic at the end even if you have done so during the cooking. It refreshes the flavor. It is a good idea to add a little of the herb that you have used at the end too. Some of these flavors get lost in the cooking and need waking up at the end. You will find that your pasta dishes are more alive if you do this.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Rice And Pork With Fried Oysters And Fresh Tomato Sauce.

This is a variation on a dish called nasi goreng from the Phillipines. It is a rice dish with shredded pork and vegetables. Everything is cooked together. The yellow item you see on top of the dish is a very thin egg pancake which is made ahead and sliced. Usually it is put into the dish but for presentation purposes I shredded it and put it on top. This is just an egg that has been beaten and then cooked like a crepe or like a thin pancake.
I added some sauteed oysters with lime on top and I made a spicy tomato sauce. Once you have made your own tomato sauce you will never go back and it is so simple.
Here is how you do it:

You will need
Tomato paste
A little flour
Thyme and bay leaf.
A little oil.

Chop up the vegetable into fairly large pieces. Heat the oil in a flat bottomed sauce pan and add the vegetables. Let them cook for a good five minutes until all the flavor comes out of them but don't colour them. Add a little vinegar and a little white wine to counteract the acid that will be in the tomatoes and reduce to dry. When this is reduced add the tomato paste and a little fresh tomato. Cook this slowly for a good three minutes. add the garlic (plenty) that you have chopped and the flour. Just a little flour to bind the sauce. Allow this to cook for a minute or so then add stock or water. I always use water. Add the bay leaf, thyme salt and pepper and bring to boil. Allow to finish on a low heat for as long as you can. When it is cooked strain into a new pot and reduce to the consistency you want. If it is still a little acidic add a pinch of sugar. Correct the seaoning and serve with what you want to. This sauce will freeze very well so don't be afraid to make too much.

Tips. If you want a little smoky flavor add a little bacon with the oil / if the sauce is too thin mix equal quantities of flour and melted butter together and whisk in to thicken / Always remember that sauces are alway thinner when they boil, they will be a little thicker once you serve it on the plate / if you want a spicy sauce add a whole jalapeno to the sauce while it is cooking and then remove it when it is cooked.

For the amount of ingredients all you need is a little common sense. I count a handful per person if I count at all.

If you have any questions don't hesitate to leave a comment.

Lamb Curry And Lemon Rice

Deliciously simple.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Guess What? Fish And Chips Again

Yes, again. The only reason I am posting this is they were the best I have ever had. The recipe is from the Gresham Hotel in Dublin ( of James Joyce fame ) from the sixties. It is a beer batter with the addition of garlic and chopped parlsley. They had a scampi provancale there that they did just like that. Delish.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Heaven In The Making

A batch of Scotch Broth that will cook for a couple of hours and yield about five days worth of soup. This is one of the heartiest of soups. Great for the cold winter evenings with some crusty bread, a bottle of microbrew or a glass of full bodied cabernet sauvignon.

This recipe is a standard recipe. I put peppers in my soups because I like food a little spicy.

2 tbsp. oil1-2 lb. lamb for stewing (shank, neck pieces)11 c. stock or water1 lg. onion, chopped3 med. carrots, chopped3 stalks celery, chopped3 tbsp. butter1 tsp. thyme1 bay leaf1/4 c. barley4 oz. Potatoes . Garlic.
Heat oil in large soup pot and brown meat on all sides.
Add onion, carrot and celery and cook well with the lamb.
At this point it is a good idea to add a dash of vinegar and white wine and reduce to dry. This is not in any recipe but it serves to counteract the sweetness of the vegetables and boost the flavor.
Also add thyme, bay leaf and barley.
Add plenty of chopped garlic and bay leaf and thyme.
Add a dash of tomato paste to take the pale color off it.
Cover with water or stock
Simmer partially covered for 1 1/2 hours.
10 minutes before end of cooking time, add potatoes.
Remove meat cut into small pieces (remove gristle, bones, fat). return to soup. Season to taste. Scotch broth freezes and reheats very well.