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Archive for February, 2011

The countdown to Mardi Gras is on, that is unless you are currently in New Orleans in which case its already in full swing.  To celebrate this year I’m cooking up some tasty foods from NOLA.  I’m starting today with a classic: Red Beans and Rice on Monday.  Yes, “on Monday” is a part of the name.  From what I gather it was traditionally cooked on Monday using the leftover ham bone from Sunday Dinner.

This is a really basic recipe, but it makes you work a little bit harder than the boxed kinds at the grocery store.  I big key here is using dried beans instead of canned.  I have no idea how canned beans could fundamentally change the recipe, so try it at your own risk.  Otherwise enjoy the goodness.

*One big note, I messed up and bought kidney beans instead of red beans.  This was a big mistake, but I decided to go forward and try cooking the recipe anyway.  Besides I figured it will still taste okay either way (and it did).


Red Beans and Rice on Monday – 1 Knife

Ingredients:

  • ½ pound dried red beans
  • water
  • ¼ pound lean bacon or ham
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce or other hot sauce
  • White rice

Prep:

  1. The night before you plan to cook the beans, soak them in a large saucepan (not over heat!) by covering the beans with enough water to cover beans with 1-2 inches of water.
  2. Soak the beans overnight.
  3. As you are ready to cook cut the bacon or ham into a dice.  For bacon I cut the strips in half length-wise and then cut into small pieces.
  4. Remove the skin from the onion and dice.
  5. Remove the peel from the garlic and dice.
  6. Wash the parsley and chop into a fine mince.

Cook:

  1. Strain the beans and place back into the pot.  Cover with fresh water and add the bacon or ham.
  2. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat to medium and all to simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
  3. In a medium pan heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes until golden.
  4. Add onions and garlic to the beans as well as the parsley, salt and hot sauce.
  5. Cover and simmer for an hour and a half, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add hot water as needed to keep the beans covered.    When the beans are done they will have soaked up most of the water.
  7. Cook the white rice according to the instructions on the package.  For this recipe you will need enough to serve four.
  8. Serve the beans over rice and enjoy!
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First, my apologies for being silent for a week.  Last weekend I was out of town on a ski trip, and amazingly I just finally got a chance to darken the door of my local Safeway.  I know you were all anxiously awaiting the next recipe… so on to the food.

I am a big fan of cooking up a big entrée over the weekend, and then eating the leftovers all week for lunch.  The easier to reheat in the office microwave, the better.  I like cooking this baked ziti during the week since it really requires little work, and is chock full of veggies in addition to the filling pasta and cheese.  What’s great too is if you want to you can really load up on veggies in it, or reduce if you are veggie-adverse.

Baked Veggie Ziti – 1 Knife

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz (1 box) penne or rigged ziti
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1-1½ cups marinara
  • 8 oz mozzarella
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil

Prep:

  1. Wash and cut the zucchini and squash into thin slices, set aside.  I like to use the slicer side of my box grater.  You could also use the slicer function on a food processor.
  2. Wash and shred the carrots and set aside with the zucchini and squash.
  3. Shred the mozzarella if you bought a block.  If you bought pre-shredded then skip this step.

Cook:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º Fahrenheit.
  2. Put a large pot of water on high heat and bring to a boil.  Once boiling cook the pasta according to the instructions.
  3. Heat a large pan over medium heat and add oil, allowing the oil to warm for a minute.
  4. Add the veggies to the pan and sauté for about 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the veggies are cooked.  You will know they are done when the zucchini and squash turn slightly translucent.
  5. Once the veggies are done place them in a large bowl.
  6. Once the pasta is done, strain, and then add to the bowl and mix well.
  7. Add the sauce to the bowl and stir to incorporate.
  8. Add 2/3 of the mozzarella to the bowl and stir well.
  9. Transfer to a baking dish.  I like to use my approx 10 inch corning ware, but a 13×9 pan would work too.
  10. Top the pasta evenly with the remainder of the cheese.
  11. Bake covered for 30 minutes.
  12. Allow to cool a few minutes before serving.

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If I had a dollar for every time I encounter a fish recipe that uses parchment packets, went “that sounds so easy I should try it,” and then forget about it completely I’d be wealthy.  Or at least I’d have enough money to buy two nice oysters.  Well finally I remembered to try one.  The idea is simple: pile up all your ingredients on some parchment paper, fold it up, bake, and presto! dinner.  What’s not to like?

I try to steer clear of “politics” on this blog; however in the case of fish I’m going to get a little preachy for a moment:  It’s important to note that when you are cooking fish you should try to purchase sustainable fish.  The world’s fisheries are seriously endangered, like think Dodo bird endangered.  The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a great tool to help you purchase, in this case, all-American (or Canadian) swordfish.  Seafood WATCH® also has a phone application so you can pull it up on the spot at the grocery store if you aren’t sure what is sustainable at the counter.

With swordfish you don’t need big honking steaks.  For this recipe I recommend about 3-4 oz of fish per person.  Most steaks at the grocery store are going to be double that, so you can cut them in half when preparing the fish for yourself.  For a side dish I recommend pairing it with grains, like barley, wild rice or quinoa.

Swordfish with Zucchini and Orange – 1 Knife  (Adapted from Whole Foods)

Ingredients:

  • Four 3oz. swordfish steaks
  • 2 zucchinis
  • 1 large orange
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons white wine or orange juice

Prep:

  1. Cut 4 pieces of parchment paper from the roll to be about 12 inches long.
  2. Wash the zucchini, cut off the ends and dispose of them.  Cut the zucchini into thin slices, about 1/8 of an inch thick.
  3. Remove the peel from the orange by cutting off the top and bottom, placing down flat and then cutting down the sides.   Dice the orange center into 1 centimeter pieces by cutting the orange in quarters to form flat almost squares of orange, and then cutting them down into smaller pieces.  The first part of this video will show you how to peel it.
  4. Remove the peel from the garlic cloves and chop into a fine mince.
  5. Clean and cut down the swordfish steaks if necessary.

Cook:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425º.
  2. On a square of parchment paper place one swordfish steak in the middle.
  3. Place ¼ of the zucchini, orange, and garlic on the parchment covering the fish.
  4. Sprinkle the parchment contents evenly with ¼ of the black pepper.  Drizzle ½ tablespoon of white wine over this.
  5. Bring together two sides of the parchment above the fish and fold or roll down.  Once rolled as much as you can, tuck the ends underneath the bulk of the packet.  Place this packet on your baking sheet.  To see what this looks like, take a look at the photo above.
  6. Repeat steps 2-5 as necessary.
  7. Bake fish packets in the oven until the swordfish is almost opaque, about 10-15 minutes.  You can open a packet mid-way to check on it.
  8. Serve with a grain of your choice and enjoy!

 

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I’m all about trying to cook what you have lying around in your fridge and/or freezer.  There’s nothing better than tapping into your supplies to create a great dish.  For this recipe I actually happened to have everything just lying around, even the puff pastry.

As appetizers go this one is always a crowd favorite.  Butter, puff pastry and garlic make for a potent combination.   It’s hard to eat just one, even though you know you should.

Puff pastry from the freezer aisle usually comes with two sheets in a box.  You’ll want to pop the sheets out of the freezer an hour or so before cooking to thaw.  Also know that the dough is tougher then it looks, so if you have trouble unfolding the sheets you can give a little tug or separate it with a knife.

 

Parmesan Sticks – 1 Knife (Adapted from Paula Deen)

Ingredients:

  • 2 sheets puff pastry
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

Cook:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400º Fahrenheit.
  2. Grease two baking sheets with butter.
  3. On a plate or large dish combine the parmesan, basil and garlic powder.
  4. Cut each sheet of puff pastry into 12 strips, but leaving the strips in place.
  5. Melt the butter and brush it on the cut puff pastry.
  6. Remove each strip one at a time and roll the buttered side in the parmesan mixture.
  7. Twist the strip gently and place on a baking sheet.
  8. Once all the strips are twisted, bake for 12 minutes.
  9. Once baked remove carefully from the baking sheet to cool on a wire rack or plate.
  10. Serve and enjoy!

 

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BY JODI OCHSTEIN

Nothing says “I Love You” like a red velvet cupcake.  This recipe, like love, is deceptively simple.  It’s your basic flour and sugar cake recipe, only with red food coloring.  The one twist – there’s always a twist—is that you will need buttermilk.  If you’re like us and you don’t have any buttermilk on hand, do what we did, and substitute a creamy mixture of yogurt and milk.

The frosting is a luscious combination of cream cheese and butter, vanilla and sugar.  It’s a dramatic Love Fest.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting – 1 Rolling Pin (Adapted from Paula Deen)

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

Prep:

  1. A few hours before you plan to bake take the butter and cream cheese out of the fridge to soften to room temperature.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.

Bake:

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder.
  2. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer.  If you don’t have a mixer you can do it by hand with a whisk or spatula.  Just be sure to stir it for a good while to get everything well mixed.
  3. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.
  4. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins  so that each cupcake is about 2/3 filled.
  5. Bake in the oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. You can test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness.
  6. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.
  7. In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth.   You can also stir this well with a spatula, which is what we did.
  8. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.  If you are stirring by hand add the sugar 1 cup at a time stirring until fully incorporated.  Repeat this step until all the sugar is added.
  9. Frost the cupcakes to your liking, serve to loved ones, and enjoy!

 

Rachel’s note: What makes red velvet such a special cupcake isn’t its signature color, but the addition of vinegar to the batter.  The vinegar with a touch of cocoa powder is what gives red velvet that signature taste.

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BY JODI OCHSTEIN

The great thing about this soup is that it’s a creamy flavorful soup with almost zero fat and minimal calories.  It’s all vegetables and spices.  That’s it.  It should be noted, however, for those who are not of the vegan persuasion, butter can be substituted for oil*.

Rachel and I started by chopping carrots — we opted to leave the peel on for maximum nutrient satisfaction.  Then we dropped them into a bath of boiling water and moved on to dicing the onions and measuring spices.  The spice highlight was taking a mortar and pestle to the fennel seed and enjoying the licorice-laced scent as it wafted up into the air.  As we sautéed the onions, we dropped the symphony of spices into the pan and the kitchen was filled with the aromatherapy of a distant time.

Of special note:  even though we cut this recipe in half, we kept the spice quotient the same.  This recipe can handle plenty of spice and flavor, so make merry with your favorite compliments.

Carrot Ginger Soup – 1 Knife (Adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook)

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. carrots
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon oil or butter*
  • 1½  cups chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground fennel
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon dried mint
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup lightly toasted cashews [Rachel forgot to buy cashews, so we used walnuts]

Cook:

  1. Cut carrots into 1-ince chunks.  Place in a medium-large saucepan with the water, cover, and bring to a boil.
  2. Once boiling, lower the heat and simmer until very tender (about 10 to 15 minutes).
  3. Heat oil or butter in a small skillet.  Add onions and sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add garlic, ginger, salt, and spices to the pan.
  5. Turn heat to low, and continue to sauté for another 8 to 10 minutes, or until everything is well mingled and the onions are very soft.
  6. Stir lemon juice into the onion mixture.
  7. Use a food processor or blender to puree the carrots (with their water), onions and cashews together.  You may need to do this in batches.
  8. Return to the saucepan and heat gently before serving.

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Sharing

There is nothing better than sharing a great meal with friends.  Whether you are hosting at home or dining in a restaurant the combination of good food, drinks and lively conversation can’t be beat.  Similarly cooking with friends can be just as fun.  Since starting this blog I’ve received numerous requests from friends to cook with me when I prepare foods for posts.  Often times its foods they can’t cook themselves, and like you are here to learn.

It is in this spirit of sharing good food that my friend Jodi will be helping out with today’s and tomorrow’s recipes.  Jodi and I spent a wonderful afternoon together cooking, gossiping, and just having fun and I believe that will translate in these recipes.

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