Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Orange Sauce

I made an orange cake last weekend that was ok. I didn't love it and I may or may not make the cake again. If you are interested, the recipe is here.

What impressed me was the orange sauce that went on top of it (well, to be exact, it goes on top of the whipped cream that what on top of the cake). I loved the orange sauce. The rest of the family did too. The cake was gone before the sauce and I ended up eating the sauce on top of chocolate ice cream (oh my goodness!!) and on top of pancakes. I will make the orange sauce again!

Orange Sauce
from Bon Appetit

1 c fresh orange juice
1 1/2 T cornstarch
2 T butter
1/4 c sugar
1 T grated orange peel

Whisk juice and cornstarch in a small bowl until cornstarch dissolves. Melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in sugar, orange peel and orange juice mixture. Whisk until sauce boils and thickens slightly, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Awesome Homemade Ramen

The bok choy has been collecting in my refrigerator. Despite having lots of bok choy recipes, I have felt at loss lately about what to do with it. I am all out of beef (what a bummer!! Come on steer--fatten up already!), and was needing a break from stir-fry. I haven't been terribly into bok choy salad this year, but am finally starting to get a hankering for it. I needed a new bok choy and I needed it fast!

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I saw a recipe on for an easy bok choy/poached egg noodles soup. I stored the info somewhere in my brain where it didn't get lost (for a change) and remembered it last night when I was contemplating serving my kids hotdogs and white rice for supper (which I must confess, I did. They also ate lots of peas). My husband obviously wasn't home for supper. I couldn't bring myself to eat hotdogs and white rice. Although the kids thought it was fabulous for a change, I wasn't impressed. Then, I remembered this recipe.

I love this recipe. It is so good and so easy! I used dried udon noodles, but you can use prepared udon noodles as well. I also found some chicken stock from an asian/orange-spiced roasted turkey I made after Thanksgiving (ok, way after Thanksgiving, like in January. It was a rough November) and used that. I didn't use much other seasonings, but if I use less flavorful stock next time, I probably will season it. I very gently eased my egg into the soup and it poached perfectly--I was so pleased with myself, my first poached egg. The amounts are kinda loosey goosey because this is one of those recipes that is a base--adapt to your likes. I used about 1 c of bok choy and thought it needed more.

I begrudingly shared a bite with M, after she had filled up on her rice/pea/ketchup concoction she created on her plate. She also enjoyed it. It's funny, I've made a bunch of "fancy" recipes lately, but this simple comfort soup, that reminded me of eating ramen noodles in college, has been my favorite new recipe of the last two weeks. This will serve two ravenous adults as a meal.

Awesome Homemade Ramen
adapted from

4 -5 c chicken broth
2 whole star anise (opt)
1 stick cinnamon
1/2 pkg dried udon noodles (about 5 oz) or 2 7-oz pkgs pre-cooked udon noodles
1 -2 c bok choy leaves, sliced into ribbons
2 green onions, thinly sliced
soy sauce, to taste
1 t garlic powder (opt)
sesame oil, to taste

Bring the broth to a simmer in a medium sauce pan. Add the star anise and cinnamon, if using, and simmer for 5 - 10 minutes. If using dried udon noodles, add them to the broth and cook until they are pliable (very bendy, but not fully cooked). Crack the eggs into separate measure cups and slip them one at a time into the broth. Cook for two minutes. Add the bok choy and stir very gently so as not to disturb the eggs. Cook for an additional two minutes, until the egg whites are completely set, but the middles are still loose (cook an extra minute if you want your yolk set). Remove from heat and add garlic powder (if using) and green onions. Add soy sauce and sesame oil to taste. Eat immediately.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Pasta with Braised Kale (or Collards)

This year, the kale and collards keep on coming. I am not complaining, now that I love both of them. M is even coming around to eating them sometimes. Thank goodness that child is obsessed with having "strong" muscles and body. It makes getting her to eat kale a whole lot easier! J, on the other hand, will only eat it if he is starving, so I try to starve him (not really, just kidding everyone) on kale nights.

I went to this recipe for an easy kale and pasta recipe that didn't need many ingredients. I saw it mentioned on a food blog I checked with the statement that within 30 minutes of walking into the house, the blogger had supper ready and on the table. I have recently took issue with the "this only takes 30 minutes" fast, easy, supper statements. It always takes me longer. I don't have cut onions in my refrigerator, nor minced garlic, washed and appropriately cut kale, or any other already prepped food hanging around. If only my assistant would show up and do these things for me, then I could make my meals within the 30 minute time frame. Oh yeah, the nanny would also need to entertain the kids and keep the big two from arguing and baby I from hanging onto my legs crying that most pitiful, pick-me-up-now cry. This was fast and easy, just not 30 minutes fast. (Cooking time alone is 35 minutes without time for prepping or combining). Alright, I am done with my rant now (can you tell I've also been trying some of Martha Stewart's everyday fast supper recipes as well, all of which take longer than 30 minutes).

We loved the recipe, even though it took me 45 minutes to make. We gobbled it almost all up in one meal---just enough leftovers for Curtis to take to work for lunch the next day.

Pasta with Braised Kale (or Collards)
from Bon Appetit

1 lb or so kale, rinsed, large center ribs/stem removed, and cut crosswise into 1/2" slices
3 T olive oil or bacon fat (mmm....)
1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 c)
4 - 8 lrg garlic cloves, thinly sliced (I used 4---8 seemed like an awful lot)
1/2 lb spaghetti or other thin, long pasta
2 t fresh lemon juice
Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Heat 2 T of oil or fat in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Add sliced garlic, sprinkle iwth slat, and cook until onion is golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 5 more minutes. Add kale and remaining 1 T oil or fat and toss until wilted. Cover pot and reduce heat to medium low. Cook until kale is very tender, stirring occasionally and adding water a little bit at a time if pot is dry, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in large pot of boiling salted water. Drain, reserving 1/4 c cooking liquid. Add cooked spaghetti to kale mixture (or vice versa, depending on what pot is larger). Add lemon juice and 2 T of reserved cooking liquid. Toss to combine, adding more tablespoonfuls of water if dry. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and serve.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Moroccan-Style Chicken and Root Vegetable Stew

I love stews, especially stews from cultures other than mine (which would be any stew with more seasoning than Worcestershire sauce and celery). I was excited last weekend when the weather turned chilly--I know it is short-lived and before long we will be hitting 100 degree days over and over and stews will be but a distant dream. Stews are my favorite way to use root vegetables besides roasting them or turning them into a pureed soup. I successfully cleaned out my root vegetables with this recipe. We all loved it, especially with a little bit of fresh cilantro (from my herb bed) snipped over top.

This recipe will serve 6 (and uses just a bit of chicken for how many people it serves!). My use of root vegetables weren't exact, I used just as much as I had; a little more sweet potato, considerably less kohlrabi, and I didn't even measure the turnips or rutabaga (but I suspect I used less turnips and more rutabaga). If I would have had couscous in my pantry, I would served this over top. Instead, I had to only imagine how good that would have been.

Moroccan-Style Chicken and Root Vegetable Stew
from Bon Appetit

1 T olive oil
12 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 1/2 c onion, chopped
2 clove garlic, minced
1 T curry powder
1 T ground cumin
1 cinnamon stick
2 c sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" pieces
2 c parsnips or kohlrabi, peeled and cut into 1/2" pieces
2 c turnips, peeled and cut into 1/2" pieces
1 c rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1/2" pieces
2 c chicken broth (or 2 c of a water/chicken broth combination)
1/4 c dried raisins or currants
1 c canned diced tomatoes, drained

Heat oil in large pot over medium high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add to pot and saute until light golden, but not cooked through, turning occasionally, about 1 - 3 minutes. Transfer to bowl. Add more oil to pot if it looks dry. Add onion to pot and saute until golden, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and stir 1 more minute. Add curry powder, cinnamon, and cumin and stir 30 seconds. Add root vegetables, broth, and raisins. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Add tomatoes, and chicken with any accumulated juices to the pot. Simmer until chicken is cooked through and flavors blend, about 5 minutes longer. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

Alas my friends, I have been a blogger slacker. May I blame it on spring fever? No? Well, how about planting a garden? (Woohoo!! We now have a raised bed in our front yard with 6 transplanted tomato plants--4 different kinds of heirlooms, 3 transplanted pepper plants, zinnias and nasturium seeds planted, and arugula seeds planted). Does cooking meals for 4 beautiful, brand new babies (well, actually they're families--the babies weren't up for it yet) in the past month or so count for anything? How about the fact that I've actually been cooking more or less just off the recipes on this blog instead of finding new ones? I've been uninspired and have just made the beloved recipes I had neglected in my hunt for new, shinier, tastier, ones.

Here's some of the tried and true recipes I've been making:

Spinach Manicotti (which my almost 5 year old daughter mostly made herself!)
Japanese Noodles with Tofu, Bok Choy, and Carrots
Handheld Pot Pies
Roasted Chicken Quarters with Cumin Roasted Carrots
Reuben Sandwiches
Shrimp Scampi
Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
Orange Cinnamon Rolls
Scallion Pancakes (with Spaghetti and Pasta Sauce--didn't really go together but we didn't care)

I also tried some recipes that I don't want to make again, so I'll not take them time to inspire you to make them when I thought they were just mediocre. Of course, I also made the new recipes that have been on the blog, plus a few more I haven't shared yet. Hopefully, I will avoid yard work long enough the next few days to get some more recipes posted. Or maybe I just need to put down the new book I've started reading. :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Kale and Cannellini Ragout

I took advantage of what may be on of the our last cool days the other day and made some Kale and Cannellini Ragout. It is a mix between a soup and a stew. I know I have lots of kale and cannellini recipes. This is by far the easiest and yet another a version on a great combination of foods.

I made this for the kids and I. They usually eat the kale and cannellini soups pretty well. M wasn't too sure about it, but I informed her that kale was a super food and the best part of the soup for her. That was enough to sway her and she decided that she liked kale, especially with an ample dousing of Parmesan cheese on top. I didn't have Italian bread, so I used pumpernickel (it's what I had!). I'd use pumpernickel again if I happened to have it. This makes 4 servings.

Kale and Cannellini Ragout
from Bon Appetit

6 T extra virgin olive oil
4 1 1/2-inch thick slices Italian (or other good) bread, cut into cubes
1 t plus 1 T fresh thyme, chopped (optional)

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 t dried crushed red pepper (optional)
5 c (packed) kale, thinly sliced
1 (14 oz) can vegetable or chicken broth (2 cups)
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (14 oz) can cannellini beans, drained

Toss bread cubes with 1 t thyme and 2 T oil in a large bowl. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 325 degree oven until bread cubes are crispy, turning occasionally. Meanwhile, add remaining 4 T olive oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper (if using) to a soup pot. Saute over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add kale and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until kale wilts, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice, beans, and remaining 1 T thyme. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Top with croutons and sprinkle with some grated Parmesan cheese to serve.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Turnip and Pear Soup

This is another Sundays at Moosewood Finnish puree. I am not a huge fan of pears, but I think it is mostly the texture, because I loved this soup. Like the rutabaga and orange soup, I didn't try to serve this to anyone besides baby I and myself. We both loved it. This soup successfully cleaned out all the turnips that had been multiplying in my fridge. This yields 4 cups of soup.

Turnip and Pear Soup
Sundays at Moosewood

1 med onion, chopped
1 T olive oil
3 med-lg turnips, peeled and chopped (3 c worth)
2 lg pears, peeled, cored, and chopped (3 c worth)
1 t dried thyme
1/2 t salt
1 1/4 c vegetable stock or water
1/4 t nutmeg
1 1/2- 2 c pear or apple juice
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a large saucepan, saute the onion in olive oil for about 5 minutes, until translucent but not browned. Add the turnips, pears, thyme, and salt. Saute for another 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Add the stock (or water) and cook, covered, on low heat for 20 - 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and soft. Add the nutmeg. Puree in blender or food processor with the pear juice until smooth and thick. Season with black pepper to taste.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lamb Rogan Josh

Since discovering a new Indian restaurant that I love, I've been wanting to try to make Indian food at home again. Years ago, I made bland chicken curries I didn't love and was a little hesitant to try a random recipe. But I did. It was wonderful!

I supposed you could also use beef stew meat to make this. We loved the lamb. This made 4 - 6 servings. I served it over rice and with some wonderful aloo paratha (a naan--which is a flatbread--stuffed with potatoes and peas) from that Indian restaurant I loved. It was a wonderful meal. I will definitely make it again and again and again.

Lamb Rogan Josh
adapted from Food and Wine

1/4 c olive oil
2 lbs lamb or beef stew meat, cut into 1" pieces
kosher salt
2 onions, thinly sliced (about 3 c)
2 T fresh ginger, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T plus 1 t curry powder
1 t turmeric
1/2 t cayenne pepper (optional---the curry powder provided enough spice for us so I omitted)
2 bay leaves
1 14-oz can tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
1 c plain whole milk yogurt
2 c water (1/2 - 1 c water if using a slow cooker)
1 t garam masala
cilantro leaves, for garnish

Heat the oil in a large cast-iron casserole dish (Dutch oven does just fine). Season the stew meat with salt and cook over high heat in batches, stirring occasionally until the meat is browned, about 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl. Add the onions to the pot, reduce heat to medium, and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, curry, turmeric, cayenne (if using), and bay leaves and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomato, yogurt, and water and bring to a boil. Season with salt. Return the lamb and any accumulated juices to the pot. Cover an simmer over low heat until the lamb is very tender about 2 hours (you may want to check it around a hour and half). Stir in the garam masala and cook for 5 more minutes. Garnish with cilantro. Serve with rice and naan.

Slow Cooker variation: Follow the recipe as follows until you get to returning the meat to the pot. Instead, dump the boiling tomato/yogurt mixture into the slow cooker with the meat. Cook on high for 3 - 4 hours or until the meat is very tender. Add a little more water if the meat looks dry.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Meatball Banh Mi

(Sorry, another dark picture....)

I've read about banh mi sandwiches for quite some time. Then a couple of months ago, I saw a recipe for them in Bon Appetit that looked like something I could possibly handle. I've yet to have an authentic banh mi, so I don't know how well this recipe rates. We loved it though. Curtis and I had sandwiches as pictured above. The kids just had meatball sandwiches (alas, without the veggies).

Cooking teaches me things about culture and geography. For example, it's only been since really getting interested in food that I've learned that there are French and Vietnamese connections. If I am remembering correctly, the French occupied ("colonized") Vietnam for about 50 years. Thus, in Vietnamese cooking, there are some French influences, for example, meatball and carrot/daikon vinegar sandwiches on baguettes.

These were tasty sandwiches. The original recipe says it will serve 4, but that is if each person eats a 10" long sandwich. I don't eat 10" long sandwiches (nor does anyone in my family). I think this will serve more like 6, possible 8 if the the sandwiches are made very small. I will definitely make these again!

Meatball Banh Mi
adapted from Bon Appetit

Pickled Vegetables
2 c carrots, coarsely grated
2 c peeled daikon, coursely grated
1/4 c rice vinegar
1/4 c sugar
1 t coarse kosher salt

Hot Chili Mayo
2/3 c mayo
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 T hot chili sauce (like sriracha)

1 lb ground beef or pork
1/4 c finely chopped fresh basil (I omitted this because I didn't have)
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 T fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
1 T hot chili sauce (optional)
1 T sugar
2 t cornstarch
1 t black pepper
1 t coarse kosher salt

1 T sesame oil
2 long baguettes, cut into sandwiches of desired size
thinly sliced jalapeno chiles (optional)
16 fresh cilantro sprigs

Pickled Vegetables: Toss all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour, tossing occasionally.

Hot Chili Mayo: Stir all ingredients in a small bowl. Season with salt. Cover and chill until you are ready to use.

Meatballs: Gently mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Roll meat mixture in to 1" meatballs (about a scant tablespoon per meatball). Place on baking sheet, plate or desired surface until ready to cook. Heat 1 T sesame oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the meatballs (or however many will fit without crowding). Saute meatballs until brown and cooked through, turning meatballs often and lowering heat if browning too quickly, about 15 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack lined with paper towels to drain, then put on baking sheet and place in preheated 300 degrees oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining meatballs.

To assemble sandwiches: Cut each baguette piece in half horizontally. Pull out enough bread half to leave 1/2" thick shell. Spread hot mayo over each shell. Arrange jalapenos and then cilantro in bottom halves. Fill each with enough meatballs to fill. Drain pickled vegetables and place a generous spoonful or two on top of meatballs. Press on baguette tops and serve.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Broccoli, Carrot, and Tofu Stir Fry

Even though we aren't vegetarians, I like to eat tofu on a semi-regular basis to add some protein variety. It helps a lot that all three of my kids LOVE it. I adapted this recipe from The Washington Post to fit my CSA box for the week. The sauce is nice and light. I think it could use a little more flavor, in fact. It definitely didn't hide the taste of the vegetables.

Stir fry always goes over well in our house. It's nice to have some easy meals that are hits with everyone. I liked this combination because of the nice bright colors. (Simple thrills....). This serves 4 at the absolute most.

Broccoli, Carrot, and Tofu Stir Fry
adapted from The Washington Post

1 lb extra-firm tofu, pressed, drained, and cut into 1/2" pieces
2 T minced scallions, white part only plus 2/3 c scallion greens, cut into 1-inch lengths
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 T ginger, grated
2/3 c chicken or vegetable broth (or water)
2 t soy sauce
2 1/2 T mirin or sake (rice wine)
2 t sugar
3/4 t sesame oil
2 t Worcestershire Sauce
3/4 t cornstarch
3/4 lb broccoli florets, cut into large bite-sized pieces (I think I had 2 - 3 c, I didn't measure it)
2 - 3 carrots, sliced
4 T sesame oil
3/4 c dry roasted peanuts (optional---I had these and forgot to use them)

In a small bowl, mix the minced scallions (white parts), garlic, and ginger. Place the scallion greens in another bowl. In a medium bowl, mix the broth, soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, 3/4 t sesame oil, Worcestershire sauce and cornstarch. Set aside.

Heat 2 T sesame oil in a large skillet over medium high (or high, depending on your stove) heat. Place tofu in pan and sear until browned and a little crispy. Remove from pan. Add another 2 T oil to pan. Add the scallion-ginger mixture and stir-fry about 15 seconds. Add the broccoli and carrots and stir-fry until just they are just barely crisp-tender. Add the scallion greens and tofu and stir-fry, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add chicken broth mixture and stir until stir-fry thickens, 1 minute (or maybe more). Add the peanuts, if using, and toss lightly. Serve hot over rice or udon noodles.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Creamy Spinach Proscuitto Pasta

I started out wanting Pasta Carbonara Florentine for supper, but that was seeming a little heavy. Instead I found this recipe, which isn't rich at all (yeah, right with the Gorgonzola. At least it had prosciutto instead of bacon!). All but M enjoyed it, but I am blaming that on her being 4 1/2 and getting over strep throat. This serves 4.

Creamy Spinach Proscuitto Pasta
adapted from Gourmet

1/2 lb dried linguini
1/2 lb spinach, coarse stems discarded, washed and dried
1/4 lb thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 garlic clove, minced
1 T fresh basil leaves, chopped, or 1 t dried basil
1 T fresh oregano, chopped, or 1 t dried oregano
scant 1/2 c olive oil
1/4 lb Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/4 c pine nuts, toasted until golden (optional)

Cut half of the spinach into thin strips. Reserve remaining whole leaves. In a large heavey skillet, cook prosciutto, garlic, basil, and oregano in 1/4 c olive oil over medium high heat, stirring until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, cook pasta in pot of boiling water. Drain and then return to pot. Toss pasta with 2 T olive oil, prosciutto mixture, cut spinach, and Gorgonzola. Heat over low heat until spinach wilts slightly and cheese is starting to melt. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange reserved spinach leaves in serving dish. Top with pasta and sprinkle with pine nuts.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Rutabaga and Carrot Soup

For the first time ever, I saw and owned a rutabaga this week. In our CSA box was a large, white and purplish, somewhat hairy root vegetable. I named it a rutabaga and set out in search of a recipe.

My epicurious searches weren't turning up anything I was interested in---just mashed potatoes with rutabaga snuck in types of recipes (ok, there were more than that, but I just didn't find them interesting). I thought that surely some culture somewhere had rutabaga's as part of their every day diet. Sure enough, my Sundays at Moosewood cookbook helped me (an awesome vegetarian cookbook). Turns out Finns (as in from Finland) eat rutubagas and had a soup just for me. This also fit in my cooking the Olympics goal.

I haven't tried this on anyone but baby I and myself. I've been eating it for lunches and enjoying it. The cookbook recommends adding a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream and a orange-cranberry sauce. I didn't do this. I would have liked to, but it just didn't happen amidst birthday preparations for J, who just turned 3. This soup is healthy--very low fat and low cholesterol and made me feel better about eating a Krispy Kreme doughnut (or was it 2? I am not admitting anything!). Baby I isn't quite sure what he thinks about this---he kinda makes a face for the first couple bites because of the tartness, but after that, he eats it just fine.

Rutabaga and Carrot Soup
from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant

1 medium onion, chopped
1 T olive oil
3 small carrots, peeled and chopped
1 small - medium rutabaga, peeled and chopped (about 2 c, but I may have used more than that)
1/2 t salt
1 c vegetable or chicken stock (not chicken if you want to keep this vegetarian, but I didn't care)
1/2 t ground ginger
1/4 t nutmeg
2 c orange juice
freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, saute the onion in olive oil for about 5 minutes, until translucent but not browned. Add the carrots, rutabaga and salt. Saute for another 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Add the stock (or water) and cook, covered, on low heat for 20 - 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and soft. Add ginger and nutmeg. Puree in blender or food processor with the orange juice until smooth and thick. Season with black pepper to taste. Serve with orange cranberry sauce and a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream, if desired.