Monday, January 11, 2010

Sausage and Beans

Proportions are flexible. So are times--adjust heat to suit your schedule. It's nice to cook this for a while, but it is good right away, too.

I make this in a dutch oven. The bit of mustard makes a gravy with the bean sauce.

1 big clove garlic
1 can Goya butter beans or lima beans, just drained a little--keep most of the liquid
teaspoon of dijon mustard

Stew over low to medium flame.

Sausage: you can use any kind, just cook it a bit before adding it to the beans. Link sausage (I like hot Italian links)--roast at 400º for up to 20 minutes, turning once. Slice on roasting tray, and add all to the pot of beans. Or, cook a bit of finely chopped chorizo and add it.

Can serve 2. But I always wish I had more.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Peanut Sauce

It's an instinctive, improvisational recipe, and I probably make it differently every time.

Begin with peanut butter (almond butter is good, too). You probably want at least 1/3 cup for each person/portion. Measure this into a bowl or plastic container (then you can store any leftover sauce in same). Add 4 Tbs tamari, 2 TBS roasted sesame oil, a dash of rice vinegar. Mix it up. Add some crushed or finely chopped garlic at this stage, if you want it. Ginger is nice too, and a few teaspoons of miso added will lower your breast cancer risk by 50% (when eaten daily). You can also add chili flakes.

Then check the texture. If it is still very thick and stiff, add a small amount of hot water, and blend until the consistency you like has arrived. Then check the taste, and adjust for balance. If it is too sharp, add a little honey or sugar.

Good on pasta with steamed veg, rice with tofu and veg, nice on rice noodles.

Friday, May 05, 2006


I eat a lot of fresh spinach, but recently I've found some excellent uses for the frozen variety.

Laurie Colwin's Creamed Spinach with Jalapeno Peppers

Servings: 8 as a side. But I can eat at least half of it by myself.

This is an adaptation of a recipe from Home Cooking. Laurie Colwin said it was "so good it made me want to sit up and beg like a dog" and I can't help but think of that line every time.

2 pkg (10 ounces each) frozen spinach
4 T butter, plus extra for topping
2 T flour
2 T minced onion
1/2 tsp (one clove) minced garlic
1/2 c evaporated milk
black pepper to taste
3/4 tsp celery salt
6 oz Pepper Jack cheese, cubed
1 or more chopped jalapenos, fresh or pickled
bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 300º F.

Cook the spinach. Drain well and reserve 1 cup of liquid. Chop the spinach fine.

Melt the butter, blend in the flour, and cook very briefly. Add the onion and garlic. Cook more, without letting anything brown.

Slowly whisk in the spinach water and the evaporated milk. Add the pepper, celery salt, cheese, jalapenos, and spinach. Cook on low heat until the cheese is melted and the mixture is blended.

Pour into a buttered baking dish or casserole and top with buttered bread crumbs. Bake for about 45 minutes, until bubbly and golden.


Parmesan Spinach Balls

A fabulous appetizer. Serve warm or at room temperature with a good quality mustard.
Original recipe yield: 10 servings.


* 2 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
* 2 cups Italian-style seasoned bread crumbs
* 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
* 1/2 cup butter, melted
* 4 small green onion, finely chopped
* 4 eggs, lightly beaten
* salt and pepper to taste


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. In a medium bowl, mix the frozen chopped spinach, Italian-style seasoned bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, butter, green onion, eggs, salt and pepper. Shape the mixture into 1 inch balls.
3. Arrange the balls in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven 10 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned.
How Much Fennel Do You Use in Cooking? I mean, really?

These tips, however, are very useful, despite their semi-obsession with all things fennel. (via Rebecca Blood)

Here are two I'll use for sure:

Peeling Chestnuts

The hard shell of a chestnut protects the tender meat. This technique removes in one piece both the shell and the thin membrane that covers the meat. 1. Score the shell of each chestnut around its equator. Do not cut into the meat. 2. Heat chestnuts in a 400-degree oven until the shells split, about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the nuts from the oven. As soon as they can be handled, lift off shell and membrane (they should come off together) from each half. -- Cook's Illustrated

Coring Apple Quarters

When apple quarters are cored starting at the stem end, the quarters tend to break. However, this problem does not occur if you core the quarters starting at the blossom end. -- Cook's Illustrated

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Vegetable Lo Mein (aka Crunchy Hippie Pasta with Veg and Spicy Peanut Sauce)
from Julie Jordan's Cabbagetown Cafe Cookbook

This very flavorful dish is made with pasta (regular or whole wheat) and vegetables tossed with a garlic sauce. Any vegetables you have on hand are good--these are just suggestions.

Sesame Garlic Sauce

8 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed
1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped
1/2 cup peanut butter (the natural kind)
2 tsp dark sesame oil (I use Kadoya)
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar or juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
1/4 tsp cayenne

Lo Mein

1/2 pound spaghetti or linguini
1 head broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces (6 cups)
1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces (4 cups)
1 medium zucchini or yellow summer squash, cut into bite-size pieces
2 carrots, grated
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chibes or scallions
1 cup Tamari-Roasted Almonds (chopped or not)

1. Prepare the sauce. Mix together the garlic, ginger, peanut butter, sesame oil, vinegar, tamari and cayenne. Set aside.
2. Cook the spaghetti until al dente.
3. Prepare vegetables, either by steaming, blanching, or sauteeing. Mix cooked vegtables together with grated carrots.
4. Mix together all ingredients in a large pot, and reheat for a few minutes, until piping hot.
5. Serve sprinkled with almonds.

Serves 4.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Urban Legend Cookies (aka Neiman-Marcus Cookies)

(Recipe may be halved):
2 cups butter
4 cups flour
2 tsp. soda
2 cups sugar
5 cups blended oatmeal**
24 oz. chocolate chips
2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 8 oz. Hershey Bar (grated)
4 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
3 cups chopped nuts (your choice)
2 tsp. vanilla

Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla; mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and soda. Add chocolate chips, Hershey Bar and nuts. Roll into balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 375º F. Makes 112 cookies.

** measure oatmeal and blend in a blender to a fine powder.

Monday, November 14, 2005


I was wildly productive today (bought insulation for pipes, stopped at two Walgreens, got oil changed and car washed, plus stopped at Goodwill for a browse), and am rewarding myself with this marvelous dinner.

Tibetan curried potatoes (from Salon, Nov 2000)

A recipe with a history, to be eaten shamelessly.

In preparing the dish, the single most important thing to remember is that the potatoes have to be mouth-meltingly soft. You'll know they're approaching that stage when neighbors start pounding on the door, drawn by the intoxicating smells that have seeped out of your kitchen. Lock the door, if you haven't already, and stir in the garnish.

(Serves four.)

1/2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
1 stubby piece of fresh ginger, about 2 inches long, peeled and finely minced
3 or 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely minced
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cayenne (or other fiery pepper)
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) clarified butter (see note)
6 medium Yukon Gold or Red Bliss potatoes, peeled and parboiled for 15 minutes, then cut into cubes
2 tablespoons soy sauce
To garnish:
1 scallion, including the green part, trimmed and minced
Several sprigs of fresh cilantro, minced

Heat the Sichuan peppercorns in a small, ungreased skillet over medium heat until they begin to darken and release their aroma. Turn them into a small mortar or onto a chopping board and pulverize to a coarse powder.

Mix the pepper powder, ginger, garlic, turmeric, cayenne and salt together to form a paste. Heat the clarified butter in a large skillet and blend in the paste. Cook, stirring with a spatula or wooden spoon, for a few minutes, to let the butter become fully seasoned. Meanwhile, toss the potato cubes in the soy sauce until it has all been absorbed.

Add the seasoned potatoes to the skillet and turn up the heat to medium high. Cook until the potatoes have a crunchy brown coating on the outside and a meltingly soft interior. Use a spatula to turn them constantly so that they brown on all sides. This will take about 10 to 15 minutes over medium-high heat.
When the potatoes are as described, toss in the minced scallion and cilantro. Continue cooking for one more minute to allow the garnish to wilt and cling to the potatoes. Turn everything into a serving bowl. Then, as the Tibetans say, "Ngotsa manang ni choe" -- "Eat shamelessly."
Cook's note: Clarified butter (ghee) is easily made by putting the half-stick of butter in a heatproof measuring cup and setting this on the rack in a preheated warm oven. When the butter has melted and the solids have separated out, remove the measuring cup from the oven (with a potholder -- it will be hot!) and carefully pour off the clear liquid into the skillet, letting none of the solids escape. (Discard these or, as I do, eat them mopped up with a little piece of bread.) This pure butterfat can then be used for frying, and it will not darken the way whole butter does.

Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts
1 lb Brussel sprouts
3 TB extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt (or less)
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Soak Brussels sprouts in cold water for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 400°F. Drain, trim ends, and cut each sprout in half. Toss sprouts with olive oil, salt, pepper. Transfer them to a lightly oiled sheet pan and roast, turning once or twice, for 20 to 30 minutes, until lightly browned and crisp outside and tender inside. Serve hot.
Tonight, I am having these as sides to broiled tilapia, but any feature protein (or not) would suffice.