Friday, December 17, 2010

Microwave Candied Ginger

1 lb. ginger root
3 cups sugar
1 cup water

Peel ginger. slice into 1/8 inch thick slices. Put all ingredients into 2 quart microwave safe bowl. (I use a 2-quart glass measuring cup.) Microwave all ingredients on high for 3 minutes. Stir thoroughly to dissolve sugar. Microwave on high for another 3 minutes. Stir again. Microwave on high for an additional 3 minutes. Repeat one more time.

Remove from microwave and let cool slightly. With slotted spoon, remove ginger slices from syrup and place on cooling racks. Let dry for 1 hour. Place in air tight container and use as needed.

Pour ginger syrup into glass jar. This may be cooked further into hard candy, or used as pancake or waffle syrp, or poured over ice cream, or used to sweeten tea.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Oven Roasted Root Vegetables

I don't know why we didn't discover roasting vegetables earlier. I think we were all so obsessed with tender-crisp flash steaming that we just never considered the possibilities offered by high-dry heat. for whatever reason, I'm glad I got past it and started using my oven for more than bread-baking.

It's hard to cook a small amount of this; once you start chopping, ingredients seem to expand exponentially. But it's okay, because extras make great leftovers, or you may use them in a soup or stew.

A note about the use of Frozen pearl onions: if you choose to use unfrozen onions, be my guest, but my time is too precious to spend time peeling pearl onions. In addition, frozen tend to not overcook in the time required to cook the harder root vegetables. As with all my recipes, make adjustments as preferred to suit your own taste, time, etc.

2 Large carrots
2 large parsnips
1 small rutabaga
2 large turnips
1 bag frozen pearl onions
2 Tablespoons EVOO or grapeseed oil
coarse sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit
Peel and chop carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, and turnips into half inch dice.
Pour oil into large, shallow baking dish. Add all ingredients but salt and toss to coat with oil.

Place in hot oven and roast for 15 minutes.
At the end of 15 minutes, open oven and stir vegetables.
Roast another 15 minutes.
Ant the end of the second 15 minutes, inspect vegetables. they will most likely need at least another 15 minutes of roasting, but if they are becoming too brown, you may want to lower the oven temperature to 400.
Stir and return to oven.
Continue roasting until desired amount of carmelization is achieved. Remove from oven and sprinkle with coarse salt to taste.

Serve and enjoy.

Brown Rice and Kale Risotto

Okay, I'll say up front that I rarely take the time to constantly tend this as required for a traditional risotto, so I should probably call it something else. But it maintains the slight toothiness of a risotto, although you could certainly cook it for a little while longer if you prefer a softer texture. It's important to use a short grained rice, like an Arborio or sushi rice; if you use anything else the texture will suffer.

This works well as a prepare-ahead dish, as it reheats nicely in a microwave or on the stovetop, with only a slight loss of texture. The ingredients below make 4 slightly rounded half cup servings. It's easy to increase, if preferred.

1 cup short grain brown rice
2 Tablespoons EVOO or grapeseed oil
3-4 large cloves garlic
1 bunch kale
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seed
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 cups hot water

Peel and coarsely chop garlic cloves.
Remove thick stems from kale and cut leaves into chiffonade. If the leaves are very large, cut them in half lengthwise before cutting the chiffonade.
In heavy, large, lidded pan (I use cast iron) heat the oil over medium high heat. Cook garlic for a minute, taking care not to let it brown.
Add rice to pan and stir constantly until rice is slightly translucent, about 2 minutes.
Add kale and stir until wilted, about 2 minutes.
Add half cup of the hot water to rice, stirring constantly until water is absorbed, about 1 minute. Add another half cup hot water, stirring until the water is mostly absorbed, 1-2 minutes.
Add ground fennel seed, salt, and remaining water. Bring to a simmer (this shouldn't take more than a minute or two).
Stir, reduce heat to low, and cover. Continue cooking for approx. 25-30 minutes. Uncover and taste for texture. If the rice needs to cook a little (or a lot) longer, that's fine, but you my need to add another few Tablespoons water. Recover, and cook until the desired texture is achieved.

Serve and enjoy.

If you like, you may stir Parmesan or Romano cheese into this before serving. A grind or two of pepper, or red pepper flakes and lemon zest are nice additions, too.

Friday, August 13, 2010


4 large baking potatoes
1 large leek - white and light green parts only
1 small/medium head savoy cabbage
4 Tbsp butter*
1/2 to 1 cup half-and half or milk*
salt to taste

Peel baking potatoes. Cut into rough 1 -2 inch chunks. Place in large pot, cover with water. Bring to boil. reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, or 'til tender. (Insert fork into potato chunk. if there is any resistance, continue cooking.)

While potatoes are cooking, Cut leek in lengthwise quarters. Slice crosswise very thinly.
Cut Savoy Cabbage in half lengthwise. Remove core. Cut each half lengthwise into 4-6 pieces. Slice crosswise very thinly. (You're going for something close to a chiffonade, but not quite that thin.)

In large, deep skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add leek. Cook, stirring, 'til leek is translucent and beginning to soften. Add cabbage. Stir and cook with leek til very tender, probably 15 minutes. Reduce heat if anything starts to brown.

Using a slotted spoon, remove still warm potatoes to a colander. Reserve liquid in pot in which potatoes cooked. Put potatoes through a potato ricer into a large bowl. (If you don't have a ricer, a masher will do, but won't produce quite the same texture.) Add half cup half-and-half or milk. and whisk. If potatoes seem too stiff, add more dairy, up to one cup.

To potato mixture, add the leeks and cabbage, using a spatula to get all the butter. Stir thoroughly to mix completely. Add salt to taste.


*If you are vegan, or concerned about fat content, you may substitute vegetable oil for the butter, and use the liquid from the cooking pot instead of the dairy. The texture of the dish will be different, but it will still be very tasty.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Tomato Garlic Bread Salad

Two servings (more if so desired, but you'll want at least half.)

3 large fresh tomatoes (only really good ones are worth the trouble)
5 large cloves garlic
15 fresh basil leaves
6 Tablespoons EVOO
3 oz. fresh mozzarella

4 1 inch thick slices bread (I use Italian, but I imagine others would be good, too)
6 Tablesppons EVOO
i large clove garlic

Cut tomatoes and mozzarella into 1/4 inch dice. Finely chop basil leaves. Crush garlic. Combine tomato, crushed garlic, 6 Tbsps. EVOO and mozzarella in large bowl. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours. add salt to taste.

Cut bread slices into 1 inch cubes. Slice garlic. Put 6 Tbsp EVOO in skillet and heat to medium high. Add garlic and cook until garlic begins to brown. Remove garlic. Put bread cubes in skillet and toss to coat with oil. Cook, turning frequently until Bread cubes are golden brown and crispy. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

To serve, divide bread cubes between 2 bowls. Top each bowl with half the tomato mixture. Grind some black pepper over bowls and enjoy.

(This is also good with feta instead of mozzarella.)

Spicy Grilled Ratatouille

1 medium eggplant
1 large yellow onion
1 medium zucchini
2 pabloma peppers
1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
5 large cloves garlic
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt

If using charcoal grill start charcoal.
Cut off ends and peel onion. Cut lengthwise into eighths. Cut off ends and cut zucchini lengthwise lengthwise into quarters. Cut off stem end of eggplant and peel. Cut lengthwise into 1/2 thick slices. Preheat grill to medium high heat. Place cut vegetables in bowl and oil with the grapeseed oil. Grill vegetables on both sides until soft. At the same time, place whole peppers on grill and cook 'til skin is black and blistered, turning often. When peppers are done, remove them to bowl and cover with towel. Remove vegetables from grill and place in oily bowl.

Peel and coarsely chop garlic. Put tomatoes and garlic in deep skillet. Bring to boil. Add basil leaves. Add salt. Reduce heat to low.

Coarsely chop grilled onions, zucchini and eggplant. Peel and seed peppers. Coarsely chop. Add all to tomato mixture on the stove. Bring back to boil. Turn off heat. Serve.

This is also good served at room temperature and like all stews, tastes even better the next day. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Mint Julep

Ingredients are per cocktail. You may make more of the mint and sugar combo for multiple drinks, but do not reduce amounts.

12 fresh mint leaves
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
2 oz. bourbon
Crushed ice

In mortar, crush mint leaves and sugar together into paste. Put into short, heavy glass. Add ice to within one inch of top. Pour in bourbon. Stir. Enjoy! (Yes, this is a very strong drink. If you don't like bourbon, don't bother, because adding any other liquid is just wrong.)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sweet Onion Dip

2 large sweet onions (Vidalia, Walla Walla, Texas Sweet, etc.)
4-5 Tablespoons EVOO
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 small red onion
I bunch green onions or scallions, green parts only
3 cups small curd lowfat cottage cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut off ends of sweet onions and peel. Cut into eighths. Put in oven proof dish, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes, or until onions begin to turn brown. Remove from oven; set aside to cool.

While roasted onion cool, pulse red onion and green onion tops in food processor. Pour roasted onions and EVOO into food processor and run 'til thoroughly chopped. Add cottage cheese. Process 'til smooth. Place in container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Set out for at least one hour before serving. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Serve with crackers, baguette rounds, assorted crudites, as desired.

Gazpacho Salsa

2 large ripe tomatoes
2 large tomatillos
1 medium red, yellow, or orange bell pepper
2 small jalapenos
3-5 cloves garlic
1/2 English cucumber (I'm sure you could use a garden cuke, but I'd peel it, which isn't necessary with the English cucumber)
1/8 sweet onion
1 Tablespoons capers
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon red wine or rice vinegar
few large sprigs basil
few large sprigs parsley

Put all ingredients in food processor and let 'er rip. If you prefer this a little chunkier, pulse instead. (I usually like chunky salsas, but this is the one I really like to fully process.)

Put salsa in acid proof container and refrigerate for at least 6 hours to combine flavors.

Zucchini Fritters

3 Cups Shredded Zucchini (I use a mandolin)
1 Tablespoon coarse salt
two eggs
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 cup all purpose flour
1 or 2 large sprigs fresh lemon-thyme (1/4 tsp dried thyme if no fresh is available)

Put zucchini in large colander. Sprinkle with salt and toss. Let sit 15-20 minutes.
While zucchini rests, combine eggs and thyme in small bowl and beat thoroughly.
In large bowl, combine flour and baking powder.

Press excess water out of zucchini. Add to flour mixture in large bowl. Stir to evenly coat zucchini. Add egg mixture. Stir to make a loose batter.

Preheat 1/2 inch veg oil to 375 degrees. (I use an electric skillet.) Using a large soup spoon, gently place rounded spoonfuls of batter into oil. Cook on first side until golden brown around edges (2 or 3 minutes, approx.). Using tongs, turn fritters. Cool on this side an additional 2-3 minutes 'til golden brown. Remove from oil and place on cooling rack or paper towels. Sprinkle with more salt, if desired, and top with a few grinds of pepper. Eat while hot. Makes about 18 fritters.

We love to eat these with Gazpacho Salsa.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Scott has a number of food allergies that make some of our recipes seem odd and our staples list notably lacking in some items that others would consider indispensable. For example, he's allergic to citrus and celery.

So if you see a recipe here and you think it would benefit from the addition of something, by all means add to your heart's content. For that matter, I'd say that all ingredients could have "or to taste" added to their amounts. The only caveat I'd add is to be sure to maintain fairly true dry-to-wet ingredient ratios. But, that said, if you'd prefer to use lime juice instead of vinegar, or celery instead of fennel bulb, GO FOR IT!

Scott's Salsa Verde

This is great on its own or as a base for further salsas. More ideas follw this base recipe.

3 or 4 tomatillos - about a pound
2 jalapenos
3 large cloves garlic
1 big pinch salt

Peel outer husk from tomatillos and garlic cloves. Put everything in a food processor and let 'er rip. Let sit for at least an hour. That's it!

Mango Salsa (great with grilled fish)

One recipe Scott's Salsa Verde (SSV)
1 medium mango
1/2 small sweet onion (Vidalia, Texas Sweet, etc.)
1 Tbsp lime juice

Peel and finely chop both mango and onion. Stir into SSV, add lime juice and stir.


1/2 recipe SSV
4 ripe avocados
1 large or 2 small ripe tomatoes
1/2 sweet onion (Vidalia, Texas Sweet, etc.)
1 Tbsp lime juice

Peel and mash avocados. Place in large bowl. Finely chop tomato and onion. Add them to bowl with avocado. Add in SSV and lime juice. Mix thoroughly.

Grilled Flour Tortillas

Makes 8 ten inch tortillas

2 cups all purpose unbleached flour
2 tsp. Baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
More flour to prevent sticking when you roll out the tortillas.

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. Add water. Stir and knead 'til dough comes together into ball. Dough will be fairly dry.
Cover with damp towel. Let rest at least 1/2 hour.

Divide dough into eight pieces. Recover with towel, removing one piece at a time for shaping into tortilla.

Lightly flour work surface and roll tortilla 'til about 1/16th inch thick. Add flour as needed to prevent sticking. I usually roll from the center out, turning the tortilla by quarter turns and flipping over periodically. When it is thin enough, sprinkle with flour and set aside.

Continue with remaining seven dough portions, flouring and stacking them as you finish. Cover with slightly damp towel.

Light grill (or charcoal). All grate to get hot. Place tortillas on grill, one to three at a time or however many will fit without overlapping. When bubble begin to puff in tortilla (1-2 minutes), lightly deflate them and turn tortillas. Continue grilling 1 or two minutes. Place on platter or cookie sheet and cover with damp towel. Stack the torillas as they finish and cover with towel.

Fill and eat immediately, or place tortillas in airtight container and refrigerate.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Crispy Fried Fish with Homemade Tartar Sauce

This is for three servings. For more, or fewer, adjust ingredients.

3 6-oz. fillets - 3/4 to 1 inch thick (I used cod, but any white fish will do)
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup panko
1 Tablespoon creole season salt
1 egg
3 Tablespoon water
Vegetable Oil - to fill bottom of 10 inch skillet 1/2 inch deep

Dredge fish fillets in unbleached flour. Place on cooling rack for 20 minutes.

While fish is resting, in shallow bowl combine panko and creole season salt. Into another shallow bowl, crack egg. Add 3 Tbsp water and stir vigorously with a fork until well combined.

Heat vegetable oil in 10 inch skillet on medium high until bread cube dropped in oil begins to fry immediately. (Alternately, you may use an electric skillet set to 375 degrees.)

One by one, place fish fillets in egg mixture, turning once to coat.

From egg mixture, put each fillet in panko mixture, turning and pressing mixture onto fillet to coat evenly.

Place fillets into hot oil, being careful not to splash. Once fillets are in oil, cover the cooling rack with paper towels. Fry for about 4 minutes per side, until golden brown. Remove from skillet and place on paper-towel covered cooling rack.

Eat asap.

Homemade Tartar Sauce (for 3 servings)

6 Tablespoons mayonnaise
8-10 hamburger dill pickle chips
1/2 tsp capers

Finely chop pickle chips
Coarsely chop capers
Stir into mayonnaise

It's also very tasty to squeeze some fresh lemon juice into this, but as Scott is allergic to citrus, I omit it with fine results. (To be really, REALLY good, you should make your own mayo, but any brand will do fine.)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Pantry Items - Part One

extra virgin olive oil
grapeseed oil
sesame oil
unsalted butter
bacon fat
vegetable oil
bread flour
all-purpose flour
whole wheat flour
rye flour
brown sugar
rice wine vinegar
balsamic vinegar
cider vinegar
red wine vinegar
thyme vinegar (white vinegar infused with fresh lemon-thyme from the garden)
soy sauce
sea salt
Tibetan Pink Crystal Salt
celtic fleur de sel
black peppercorns
red pepper flakes
red lentils
brown lentils
yellow dal
sesame seeds - unhulled
black sesame seeds
brown short grain rice
white short grain rice
white medium grain rice
wild rice/red rice mix
rolled oats
steel cut oats


This makes the absolute best bread ever for panini, to mop up savory sauces, to make great bruscetta, or to just eat. The spray bottle is absolutely required for making good crust at home. Once you learn this trick, you'll find yourself using it any time you want a thick, crispy, and chewy crust.

1 1/3 cup water
3/4 teaspoon granulated dry yeast
2 cups unbleached bread flour
1 pinch sugar
1 splash milk
2 cups warm water
3/4 teaspoon granulated dry yeast
1 Tablespoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon olive oil
6 to 8 cups unbleached bread flour

To make starter, in large bowl combine 1 1/3 cup water, 3/4 tsp. yeast, sugar, and milk. Stir thoroughly. Cover with shower cap and leave for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Add 2 cups warm water, 3/4 tsp. yeast, salt and olive oil to starter in bowl. Add 2 cups bread flour, stir. Repeat. Repeat again. This dough is very soft and will never be kneaded. However, if, after 6 cups of flour it just seems too wet, keep adding additional flour in 1/2 cup increments. Cover bowl with shower cap and leave for 4 to 6 hours. Dough will usually be considerably more than doubled in size.

Place oven racks so that they divide the oven into thirds and preheat oven to 450 degrees. Sprinkle cornmeal on two cookie sheets and set aside. Fill spray bottle with tap water.

Generously flour large area on counter. Scrape out dough onto surface. It will be very soft and will seem very wet in comparison to most bread doughs. Cut dough into two pieces. By firmly patting, shape each half into the long slipper shape for which ciabotta is named. Lay each loaf onto one of the prepared cookie sheets.

Place cookie sheets into the oven and spray the loaves and oven sides generously with water. Close oven door. After 3, 6, and 9 minutes, respray oven sides with water. Don't worry of some water gets on the loaves, but don't deliberately soak them. At twelve minutes, switch the loaves on the racks to ensure even browning. The loaf that started on the bottom rack may not have risen quite as much as the one on top, but it will be fine anyway. Spray again before closing the oven.

In three minutes, spray oven sides for the last time. Bake an additional 5 minutes. Loaves should be getting well browned, you may remove them from the oven when they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom, or when browned to your satisfaction.

This recipe may be halved, but it always goes over so well that I wouldn't bother. Just freeze the second loaf if you feel certain that you can't eat it fast enough. Also, you may cut this into four loaves, or into roll size pieces; shorten cooking times to accommodate smaller loaves.

Multigrain Bread

1 1/2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons granulated dry yeast
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon sea salt
1 cup unbleached bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup whole rolled oats (not quick cooking)
1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup millet
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
3 Tablespoons golden flax seeds
1 cup high gluten flour
1 cup rye flour
1 cup corn flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups unbleached bread flour (more or less, as needed)

In large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cup warm water, yeast, honey, salt, 1 cup bread flour, and 1 cup whole wheat flour. Stir thoroughly.

In heatproof bowl combine oats, quinoa, and millet. Pour in 1 1/2 cups boiling water. Stir; let stand 5 minutes. (Alternately, put grains and 1 1/2 cup tap water in microwave safe bowl and microwave for 3 minutes. Remove from microwave, stir, and let stand 5 minutes.) Add two ice cubes and stir until melted.

Add grain mixture, sunflower and flax seeds to mixture in large bowl; stir thoroughly. Add high gluten flour, then rye flour, then corn flour, stirring after each addition. Add whole wheat flour; stir. Dough likely will still be quite sticky. Begin to knead in bread flour in half cup increments, using as much of the remaining two cups as necessary. Dough should be fairly soft, but not too sticky. If it still seems too sticky, knead in more flour, either bread or whole wheat, as preferred.

Cover bowl with shower cap. (I'm not kidding - shower caps really work much better than anything else. I collect them from hotels when I travel, but you can pick up a six-pack of them in the Dollar store as well.)

Let dough rise until it doubles in size. Punch down. Turn out onto very lightly flour surface and cut in two. Form each loaf by pressing dough into rough rectangle and rolling lengthwise. Use sides of hands to seal ends, turning ends under loaf. Place each loaf in a 5 12 x 9 inch loaf pan. Place pans side by side and cover again with the shower cap. Let rise until double.

Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes, or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. When fully baked, remove from pans and let cool on racks, approximately one hour. Slice on loaf for sandwiches, place in airtight container and store in refrigerator. Slice second loaf, place in big freezer-safe container (I use a two-gallon zip=lock bag) and freeze for later use.

Timing for risings depends on ambient temperature, freshness of yeast, etc. I usually make the dough sometime in the late morning and leave it for the rest of the day. Sometime in the evening I'll punch down the dough and make the loaves, and leave them overnight to rise again. Then I'll bake them in the morning.