Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Recipe: Vegetable "Curry"

Ok, so first off a message to Tom Colicchio: if you somehow read this I know this is not a traditional curry and if I was on Top Chef the misnaming might get me sent home.  However, after getting soaked with a cold rain on the way home from classes I needed something comforting and warm.  What is great about this recipe is that you probably have most, if not all, of the ingredients, and it takes around 20 minutes to throw together.  The "curry" is warming, filling, and will make enough for 4ish people.  I didn't feel like cooking any meat with it last night but it could easily be added if you wish.  The same goes with rice or brown rice.

You will need:
26oz Tomato sauce with basil and garlic
16oz frozen broccoli and cauliflower mix
8oz vegetable medley (corn, green beans, carrots)
1/2 onion sliced into half moons
1/4 cup water
2.5 Tbs. Curry Powder
1/8 tsp. Cayenne (season to taste, start with a sprinkle and work up to where you like the heat)
Garlic powder
Olive Oil

Heat the olive oil in a large, deep pot.  When hot, add the onions and saute over medium-low to medium heat for a few minutes.  Add salt, pepper, garlic powder and a good pinch of paprika.  Continue sautéing until the onions are just soft.  Add the tomato sauce, water, curry powder and your first bit of cayenne.  Turn heat up to medium/medium-high.  When the sauce begins to bubble taste and adjust the heat level.  Add the frozen vegetables directly to the pot and stir to coat.  Cook for around 7 minutes or until the vegetables are just thawed and warm.  You will likely need to add a hefty pinch of salt and adjust the cayenne.  When it is to your liking, serve in a bowl plain or over rice.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Recipe: Lentil and Barley Patties

Today's recipe is more of a technique to use up leftovers that you have around the fridge. After making a pound of lentils several days ago I realized that it was far to much for one person to think they could get through....especially when I still had a cup or so of barley left in the fridge.  At this point I had three options: 1) Continue to eat them plain and then get sick of them, 2) Throw them away (ok this wasn't really an option), or 3) turn them into something else.  I chose the latter of the options and set out to try and make them into a patty akin to some type of burger.  The reason this is more of a technique is the quantity of your leftovers will vary, as will your lentils and binding agent, but I will highlight how I prepared mine:

I used:

2.5 cups lentils
1.5 cups barley
1/2 cup liquid eggs (2 regular eggs, beaten)
1/2 cup salsa
1 box corn muffin mix
Olive oil

Pour your lentils into a large bowl, and if they are all mostly whole use a fork to mash some of them up. Add the barley and salsa; mix to cover.  Salt and pepper the mixture and give it a taste, adjust seasonings as necessary.  Add the eggs, mix again.  Finally add the muffin mix a little at a time until it comes together into a workable form.

To cook, portion the mixture out into patties and chill them in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.  Then cook over medium heat in a nonstick skillet for 7-10 minutes per side in a dash of olive oil until each side is golden brown.

These can be served plain with a dollop of salsa, broken up to top a salad, or like a burger.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Recipe: Lentils with Shrimp

I really love lentils. They add great flavor and texture to soups, they are great for you, and they are cheap.  I realized the other day that while I'd added them to soups and stews before I'd never used them as a star in their own right.  This recipe pairs them with shrimp and it is a very nice combo (chicken would also work nicely).  I like the color contrast between the pink shrimp and the dark lentils, plus the pop of the shrimp in the mouth is also complemented with the toothsome legume.  There are two ways you could cook the lentils.  One is "risotto" style where you keep adding water/stock/wine until they are finished, and the other is to boil them in lots of water and then drain.  For this recipe I used the first method, but use whichever you like.  P.S. I also did a while bag (1 pound) of lentils for leftovers, if you don't need a gigantic bowl full, cut the recipe down.)

You will need:
1 lbs. bag lentils
1 onion, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, finely diced
1 Tbs. olive oil
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup white wine
4-6+ cups water (to add in as liquid is absorbed)
1 lbs. medium shrimp tailed, shelled, deveined

Heat the olive oil in a large pot.  When hot add in the onion and saute until translucent (about 5 minutes).  Add the garlic, a pinch of salt, and pepper.  Continue sauteing for around 4 more minutes or until garlic is fragrant and golden.  Add the cup of white wine, 3 cups chicken stock, and cup of water.  Bring to a boil and add the lentils.  Add a heavy pinch of salt, pepper, and paprika plus a moderate pinch of cayenne (remember this is A LOT of lentils, they need flavor).  Stir occasionally and cook for 25-35 minutes, covered.  As they cook they will begin to absorb the liquid.  You will need to add more a cup or so at a time as it dries out (this will be every 8 or so minutes).  The lentils are done when some are beginning to fall apart but most still have a bite to them.  Adjust seasoning as necessary.

For the shrimp, season with salt, pepper, and paprika and saute on the stove until just pink all the way through.  Top each bowl of lentils with the shrimp and enjoy.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Recipe: Balsamic Cucumber Salad

This is a really easy recipe that you can throw together in a pinch, and has some simple ways you could dress it up if you wanted to make it fancier.  I like this idea because everything is kept pretty much whole, there is no cooking involved, and it lets the flavors of the ingredients shine.  I paired this with the Tikka Masala Game Hen and it  provided a nice flavor and texture contrast.  What's great is that it holds up well even if you have to make it ahead because essentially the cucumbers just keep marinating.  This will give you 3-4 servings.

You will need:
1 cucumber cut into thin rounds
A quarter of a red or yellow onion thinly sliced (depending on if you want a sharper or sweeter taste)
6 Tablespoons Light Balsamic Vinaigrette
Heavy dash of salt
Optional ingredients: crumbled or cubed feta, diced tomato, pitted olives, and torn basil

Combine the cucumbers and onions (plus any of the optional ingredients) into a large bowl and add the salt.  Gently mix and then add the Vinaigrette.  Stir to combine.  Allow to sit at least ten minutes before serving though in a pinch can be served immediately.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Recipe: Tikka Masala Game Hen

I recently saw one of our super markets selling Cornish Rock Game Hens for about $2.50 a piece (for comparison you could buy 2-3 for the same price as a rotisserie chicken)  It easily serves 2 people and would be a fantastic date night show stopper or "impress the boss meal".  Marinades are as varied as they are for chicken and I may explore more of them in the future.  Last night, however, I was very much wanting Indian food and I had a bottle of Tikka Masala simmer sauce in the pantry.  Outside of marinating the prep could not be easier.

You will need:
1 cornish game hen
1 bottle Tikka Masala simmer sauce (you will use about half for the prep)
Half an onion, sliced
1 carrot, cut into large bites
1 lemon, quartered
2 cloves garlic mashed

Remove the hen from any packaging and remove the neck and giblet packet (if it is included) from the cavity of the bird.  Holding the bird cavity down, let any liquid drain out.  Coat the hen liberally with salt and pepper on both sides and inside.  Dollop out the masala and rub into the hen making sure to get a good coating on all surfaces.  Spoon a teaspoon or two inside the hen and rub in the cavity.  Allow to marinate for at least an hour but as long as overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Shortly before cooking stuff the bird with the onion slices, carrot, garlic, and one lemon wedge.  Line the bottom of a roasting pan with aluminum foil to aid with clean up and place the bird on the slotted top portion (or on a cookie sheet lined with foil if you don't have a roasting pan).  Place the other lemon wedges over the wings.  Cook for 60-75 minutes, remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  You can carve the hen or simply split it in half by guiding a knife to one side of the breast bone.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Recipe: Cheese Toast with Fig Preserves

So this is a really simple recipe and is great as a breakfast, however, it could also easily be made into an appetizer.  The picture at the bottom is how I made it for breakfast, and in the future I would try and cut the cheese just a bit thinner but it worked out fine.  I will provide both how I made that and how I think the appetizer would be made.  Cheese wise I would stick to a white cheese, and perhaps on the milder end.  I would also warn recommend cutting from a block of cheese as sandwich cheese tends to have a bit less flavor. Munster is what I used but a provolone, baby swiss, or mild white cheddar, among others, could all work.  If you are the type that would like the cheese melted, simply stick it under the broiler after it is assembled for a minute or two and the cheese and preserves will be hot and bubbly.

For the breakfast version you will need:
1 piece of bread
Fig preserves
1 slice of Munster from a block of cheese

Toast the piece of bread in the toaster between settings on the setting that will make it just crisp and brown (about 3.5 for mine).  When finished spread a layer of fig preserves on the bread and top with the slice of cheese.  The sweetness of the fig and crunchiness of the bread pairs very well with the cheese.

For the appetizer version you will need:
1 french baguette, cut into rounds
Fig preserves
Slices of Munster from a block of cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 and toast the rounds of the baguette for 6-8 minutes or until browned.  Top each with a smear of fig preserves and a slice of Munster.  Broil in the oven if you wish to melt the cheese.

In the picture the piece of toast closer to you was broiled in the oven after assembly for a few minutes, the farther piece is as described above.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Recipe: Tomato Sauce Roasted Vegetables with Tempeh and Barley

Talk about a filling meal for cheap.  The vegetables for this dish cost me around $3.00, the barley was $1.99 a pound, and the tempeh was just over $3.  It makes 2-3 good servings but could be stretched to 4, though the cup of barley will make quite a bit so you could use that for other meals as well.  If time is an issue, use the quick cook barley which is done in 10 minutes.  If you don't like barley, any long pasta could be used as well, just toss it in the bowl with the veggies and tempeh when you do the final coating of sauce, simply put enough sauce to coat all of it.  If you aren't a fan of tempeh you could use tofu to keep it vegan or easily throw in some grilled chicken or steak that has been sliced.  If you wanted all veggies you could use some portobello mushrooms or greed/red bell peppers.  For more heat throw in some red pepper flakes.

You will need:
2 cups chicken stock/water/bouillon
1 cup barley
1 full pint box of japanese eggplant (~10-12), quartered
1/2 large zucchini or several small ones, cut in large cubes
Optional:  cherry tomatoes, halved (I had a few left over so I threw them in)
2/3 cup tomato sauce (I used a basil and garlic kind for more flavor)
1 pack tempeh, cut into 1/4 inch strips and then halved down the middle
Olive oil
Garlic Powder
Fresh Basil, chopped or torn

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and on the stove top bring the two cups of liquid to a boil.  Add salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika to the boiling liquid and then add the barley.  Reduce to a simmer and stir occasionally.  Cook for 35-40 minutes and then let sit.

In a large bowl combine the eggplant, zucchini, and tomato.  Add a drizzle of olive oil to coat and then add a heavy dash of salt and a sprinkle of pepper and garlic powder, and then stir.  Then add 1/3 cup of sauce to the bowl and stir to coat.  Place a layer of aluminum foil on a large cookie sheet and add the vegetables making sure to keep them in a single layer.  If you don't they will not brown but only steam.  Cook for 25-30 minutes or until the vegetables are just soft.

Heat a skillet with one tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the tempeh and heat until golden brown.

I timed it so the barley finished first and the vegetables and tempeh finished about the same time.
When everything is done add the vegetables and tempeh back into a large bowl.  Add a handful of chopped basil and top with 1/3 cup more sauce, stirring to coat.  The heat from the vegetables and tempeh will be more than enough to keep it hot.  To serve top a fourth cup of barley with a healthy serving of the veggies and tempeh.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Blog Spotlight: 101 Cookbooks

I don't often have time to pour through other blogs, but I'd like to give a shout-out whenever I see one that is really worthy of your attention.  The one I am posting about today, 101 Cookbooks, is pretty incredible.
Here is the welcome from the blogs author:

I'm Heidi Swanson and 101 Cookbooks is where I write about the recipes that intersect my life, travels and interests. I focus on natural, whole foods and ingredients - vegetarian recipes that are good for you, with the occasional sweet treat. Welcome!

Heidi has been featured in the Washington Post, vegetarian Times, NPR, LIFE, USA Today and many many others.

Not only does it have good enough to eat pictures of the ingredients and the dishes, but there are well written and thought out intros and recipes.

Many of the recipes are very easy and highlight seasonal ingredients, honest preparation, and rustic appeal.  Recipes that caught my interest were the tempeh curry, the golden tomato sauce, and Heather's Quinoa

Especially if you are vegetarian or vegan I hope you check out this blog and enjoy reading through it as much as I have.

A link to the blog can be found HERE

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Recipe: Garden Veggie Tempeh Sandwich

Finally!  I have been wanting to do a recipe with tempeh for a while but I haven't had the chance to until now.  For those who don't know (and don't worry, you are not alone) tempeh is a relative of tofu.  However, unlike tofu, the soybeans are not processed- they are smashed together whole.  This leads to a nuttier taste than tofu and one that I find much easier to use and eat without a marinade.  The toppings and type of tempeh are all up to you, I just used what I had on hand.  To make it the recipe vegan, leave off the cheese or use a vegan substitute.  Its great to go meatless a couple nights a week if you can, and with this sandwich I promise that you won't miss it at all.

You will need:

1/3 block garden veggie tempeh (or approximately enough to match the size of bread)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Dash of Salt
Dash of Pepper
Refried Beans 
1 slice Muenster cheese
Crusty Roll

Heat a frying pan with the olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the tempeh and cook on both sides until golden brown (about 3-5 minutes per side)  Add the dash off salt and pepper to side one when you flip it.

Split and lightly toast the roll in a toaster or under the broiler.  Add a thin layer of the beans and guacamole to the bottom of the roll and top with the golden tempeh.  Add the slice of cheese, the top of the roll, and enjoy!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Recipe: Refried Beans

I am still working through my farmer's market ingredients and I had been wanting to try my hand at these for a while so I used the candee onion and green pepper for this recipe.  This would be awesome with any grilled meats or on the next taco night.  I will warn you that the photo isn't the best, refried beans are not the most photogenic food, but I can say they look (and taste) way better than the greyish brown beans you'll find at your favorite mexican restaurant.  Plus, I think that everyone would have the ingredients for this already in your kitchen and pantry.  I used black beans, but kidney beans would work as well if you have those.  For the onion and bell pepper, you will want to chop them into small bits but I chose to leave them big enough so that they could add some texture and visual interest.

You will need:

1 regular can black beans, washed
1 small yellow onion chopped 
1 bell pepper (your choice of color) chopped 
Olive Oil
Garlic Powder
Paprika, a strong dash 
2-3 Tablespoons Salsa (optional)

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet and sauté the onion until just soft, about 3-5 minutes.  During this time add the salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika.  Next, add the bell pepper and continue cooking 3-5 more minutes.  Add the black beans and another round of salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Stir.  When it has heated through take a fork (or masher) and begin to mash the beans in the pan.  This is where you would add the salsa if you wish; I used a medium salsa for a little heat and tang. You can leave them as chunky or smooth as you like.  For extra smooth you could even use a food processor or blender.  

Monday, August 15, 2011

Recipe: Tomato Salad

This is another farmer's market creation.  It has two main ingredients, is no cook, and if you don't have a farmer's market can be easily replicated for a great summer side dish.  A few optional ingredients can make it even more substantial if you have them lying around the kitchen.  Feta or mozzarella would each add a nice element to the salad, though with its zing my vote would go to the feta.  A pint of cherry tomatoes will give you 2-3 servings.  Larger tomatoes can be used as well, you can choose to cut them into wedges or rounds.  For rounds you might simply turn this into a caprese salad with mozzarella and basil.

You will need:

1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 handful basil, chopped or roughly torn

Thoroughly wash the tomatoes in a colander, especially if they were a market purchase, to remove any dirt from the skin.  Cut the tomatoes in half, removing any that are damaged, and place in a bowl.  Add a decent pinch of salt and pepper (taste and adjust as you go, remember you can always add more).  Add the basil and stir gently to combine.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Recipe: Skillet Zucchini

l had the pleasure of heading to the local Farmer's Market this past Saturday and I had a blast.  I found a massive zucchini that I couldn't resist purchasing and after debating on how to cook it I decided on a very simple method that would highlight the flavor of the vegetable without smothering it in cheese, butter, or sauce (though...that would be delicious too).  Any size zucchini can be used but a larger one will be easier to work with as the rounds will be larger.  If you are using small zucchini you will need to buy more; plan one zucchini per person in that case.

You will need:

1 large zucchini, washed and cut into ~1/8 inch rounds (see picture)
Olive oil
Garlic Powder

Brush (or dip) each side of the zucchini rounds into olive oil and then sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder on both sides.  Allow to sit while you heat a large flat bottomed nonstick skillet (if possible) on the stove over medium-high heat.  When hot reduce to medium and add the zucchini in a single layer, you may have to do a few batches depending on the size of the rounds and the size of your pan.  Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the zucchini beings to brown and soften.  Flip the rounds and cook for another 1:30 to 2 minutes.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Recipe: Mustard Roasted Red Potatoes

Sorry for taking so long for another update; I was moving and sans internet for a while.  I have been waiting to post this recipe as it is a wonderfully flavorful side dish.  Its bold, easy, and full of flavor.

You will need:

Around 20 small/medium red potatoes, washed and cut in half
1/4 cup olive oil
3-4 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
One dash soy sauce to emulsify the sauce
Salt, heavy pinch
Small handful parsley, finely chopped (optional)

Begin preheating an oven to 375 degrees.  In measuring cup or small bowl combine the olive oil, mustard, soy sauce, salt and pepper and whisk to combine.  If sauce does not become a thick golden color add a tad more soy sauce until it does.  Put the potatoes in a large bowl and pour the sauce over them.  Stir to coat.  Cover a cookie sheet in aluminum foil and place potatoes on the sheet in a single layer, skin side down (cut side up).  Put into the heated oven and cook for 30-40 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with parsley if desired.