Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Sushi Rice Salad

I am trying to be gluten free (I may have mentioned this before) - it seems to help me with joint aches and pollen allergy (specifically grass seed pollen and since I live in the grass seed capital of the world, this is a biggie!)  A few months ago I ran across an interesting cookbook "The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen" and I finally broke down and bought it (just what I need, another cookbook).  First it turned me on to a whole lot of gluten free products that I never thought I could buy locally without going online but I can find even some of them at the "end of the Oregon Trail" (think low population levels don't bring in lots of hard-to-find/exotic foods).  I even found sweet potato noodles (but that will be another blog!)  I guess it helps that the author lives in Oregon.

We are all things fish - including sushi - lovers. The LOML and I usually find ourselves at one or another of our favorite sushi or fish restaurants on Friday evenings.  Additionally, we once lived next door to a Japanese family and they taught me how to make our own sushi (which I rarely do because it isn't as easy as it looks).  For years I have thought that sushi could be deconstructed into a rice salad but never tried experimenting.   Friends recently invited us for dinner and we rolled our own Spring Rolls with rice paper as the wrappers (delicious) and again I thought of salad without the rice paper wrappers. Guess what? My new cookbook has a recipe for the rice salad that I have been dreaming of!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Saint Patrick’s Day Corned Beef Hash

Younger people sometimes forget that not all of Ireland is green (Catholic) especially kids who like to pinch you if you aren't wearing green on Saint Patrick’s Day.  There is also the color orange in the Irish flag that represents the Protestants.   And the wide white stripe in the flag represents peace between the Catholics and Protestants (the Irish sometimes forget about that white stripe!)

In our household we have blended our religions.  I was raised Protestant and the LOML (Love of My Life) was raised Catholic.  So we are, in a fashion, Orange & Green “Irish” (neither of us has an ounce of Irish blood but on St. Paddy’s day everyone is Irish!).  Last year, the LOML had some extra time on St. Paddy’s day and came up with the following orange, green & white hash recipe using corned beef.   

Corned beef is very popular in Ireland (and England as well as other countries), it is beef (usually brisket) that is preserved by soaking in a brine often with additional herbs and spices (a brine is a mixture of salt and water).  You can make your own corned beef.  I've never done it but there are recipes available on the internet.  

By the way, hash is kind of like a dry stew – small pieces of meat usually mixed with potato.  If you prefer stew to hash, experiment and add some broth!

Monday, February 3, 2014

A Very Different Pizza

This weekend we hosted a wine and cheese tasting party for nine guests.  It was a lot of fun to choose different cheeses to try and pair them with different wines.  We also set out thin slices of apple and pear plus honey and apricot jam to try with the cheese and crackers.  In addition to the normal cheese and cracker spread that one expects at a wine and cheese tasting party, I made this into a full fledged meal beginning with a salad topped with grated cheese, a savory cheese cake that included the usual cream cheese plus the addition of Gruyere cheese combined with spinach and mushrooms topped with a marinara tomato sauce, a savory cheese and prosciutto flan, and a pizza topped with Gorgonzola cheese.  The pizza was a favorite with all the guests (actually every dish was well received).  I have chosen to share the pizza recipe because a) it is very different from your usual pizza and b) it is the first left over that the hubby went for!  The original recipe comes from A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop  (Jack Bishop is often seen on America's Test Kitchen on PBS and his book is very interesting).  I made a few changes to the recipe but not by much.  Plus it was no problem to double this recipe and the doubled recipe served up 12 moderate-sized slices.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Leftover Pot Pie

More Thanksgiving leftovers to deal with.  I really do not want to have another turkey sandwich for the next 12 months!  And what to do with the left over green beans, mashed potatoes, gravy?  I made my own version of Shepard's Pie.  And because it was only for the LOML and myself, I was able to use a small 1 quart ceramic dish and bake it in the toaster oven - sweet!

Turkey Mole - Best Use of Leftovers

I personally think that there are more exciting dishes with which to celebrate Thanksgiving than roasted turkey. The LOML (Love Of My Life), who did not grow up in the USA and did not know about Thanksgiving until we started dating, insists on a traditional Thanksgiving dinner - turkey and all the trimmings (go figure!).  In the past I have come up with various themes such as a Mexican or French twist.  This year, the LOML and my Mom, decided that we should have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner without a theme.  Sons 1 and 2 were disappointed - they like the themed variations.  But they went along with the mandate and helped cook.  It was a good dinner and we ended up with a much bigger turkey than needed so, with plenty of leftovers, on Friday we made Mexican Turkey Mole from scratch.  It was good but everyone present who has eaten my "canned" version of Turkey Mole voted for the quick "canned" version.  This recipe can be made at any time with left-over chicken as well.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Zucchini Soup

Winter is a great season for hot, thick soups and this soup - a recipe from a dear aunt - is so simple and so good it continues to be a favorite of ours. This particular aunt was not a very good cook except she made excellent soup.  Of course, I have altered her recipe to make it my own.  One of the changes that I made was to add herbed Bourson cheese.  Today one of my favorite bloggers (Go Gingham) had a recipe for herbed soft cheese which will be a great alternative to a store bought, additive-rich cheese.   Here is the link to the recipe http://tinyurl.com/m82fnew

And here is my recipe for zucchini soup for two (this recipe is easily increased to serve a multitude):

1 small onion, roughly chopped
2 tsp oil
2 medium zucchini, roughly chopped
1 15-oz can low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
2-4 TBSP herbed cheese spread

Heat oil in a medium size saucepan.  Saute onion over medium heat until translucent, do not let the onion brown.  Add the chopped zucchini and the chicken broth.  Simmer over medium heat until the zucchini is soft.

Puree soup in a blender in small batches.  Return blended soup to the saucepan.  Add 2 TBSP of the herbed cheese spread and reheat until the cheese has melted.

Divide soup into two bowls and add 1 TBSP of the cheese into each dish.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Freezing Stew

My favorite magazine – “Cook’s Illustrated” - is, of course, dedicated to cooking.  I really like how the authors write about how they go about developing a recipe.  Besides giving lots of good cooking tips, they also evaluate equipment and food products and since they don’t have advertisers or sponsors to answer to, I find their recommendations to be spot on.  They also give lots of good cooking tips.
One of their cooking tips caught my eye in the recent Sept/Oct 2013 issue (page 31) titled “Freezing Stew? Read This First” (not a MLA style citation but you've got all the information!).  I like to cook in quantity and freeze meal size portions for future lunches and dinners.  I have frozen plenty of stews so  I was surprised by the brief article (which I shall further condense) that not all cooked vegetables freeze well.  The author cooked and then froze a number of common stew vegetables including the following that I often add to my stews – squash; carrots; peas; sweet potatoes; and red, Yukon gold, and russet potatoes.  They found that the potatoes and squash were reduced to a watery mush after freezing.  Their advice was to cook the squash and potatoes on the side and add them in when reheating the stew.