April 24, 2017
I am totally intrigued with European spice blends.
If you are like me and want to bump up the volume on your food you need to play with your spices, and that means going back to school and familiarize yourself on the history of spices and the Spice Trail.
No question that French Onion Soup reigns supreme in this house, so when I saw this recipe for Persian Onion Soup, I made a copy and tucked it into my Wish List folder.
Before the heat of summer arrives, there are still a few Souper Monday's ahead and today was THE day I finally pulled out that recipe.
One of those 5+ spice wonders, it was on the table in under an hour. I loved the warmth of the traditional Middle Eastern spices and the sweetness of the caramelized onions.
The seal on the deal was the eggs poached into the soup.
OMG, we love Eggs in Purgatory in this house so what could possibly not be a no-brainer than this technique. Imagine the flavor the whites will absorb from all those warming exotic spices.
Super easy to make and including the time it takes for the caramelizing of the onions, can be on the table in under an hour. Plan ahead and cook the onions earlier in the week. Better yet, make a big batch in your slow cooker, measure portions and freeze them in zippy bags.
The turmeric stains everything a bright orange color and that includes the eggs. If you would prefer white eggs, poach them in a separate pot.
I sauteed escarole to add a bitter element along with green power.
Persian Onion Soup with Poached Eggs
makes 2 bowls
* 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
* 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
* 4 small yellow onions (around 400g), finely sliced
* 1 tablespoon corn starch
* 5 cups vegetable or chicken stock
* 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
* 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
* 1/2 teaspoon dried mint\
* 1 tablespoon lemon juice
* 1 tablespoon honey
* 2 eggs, room temperature
* Salt & pepper to taste
* Chopped parsley for garnish, optional
(if you do not want to buy bottles of each spice, 2 1/2 teaspoons of your favorite curry will do just fine)
1. Melt the butter with the oil in a heavy stockpot.
Add the onions and saute on low, stirring every 10-15 minutes until the onions are tender and golden (about 35 minutes).
2. Add the corn starch to the onions and cook for 2 minutes. Add the spices, stirring to combine and then the stock. When the soup comes to a boil, lower the heat and add the lemon juice and honey.
3. Season to taste, with the salt & pepper.
4. Right before serving bring the soup to a simmer and add the eggs, one at a time at different sides of the pot.
5. Cover the pot and cook for a few minutes. The whites should be firm and the yolk a pale yellow.
Remember, they will continue to cook until you serve them up.
I sliced a baguette for dipping in the broth.
March 24, 2017
Every Fall my local small chain Italian restaurant puts my favorite pasta dinner back on the menu.
What I thought was butternut squash stuffed large tortellini (called tortilacci) actually turned out to be pasta stuffed with a basic cheese mixture who's sauce was butter & spiced roasted cubes of butternut squash. Still very good but in the back of my mind I made a mental note to make homemade squash stuffed pasta.
While checking out my daily Pinterest recommendations, I spotted a pin for Butternut Squash Cannelloni with Walnut Sage Cream Sauce from Martha. I immediately pinned it.
I just had to make this yesterday.
Before I cook a recipe, I checkout the ingredients and then I hit the reviews. If the reviews are not favorable but just nit-picky and I could adjust easily, it goes on my menu & the shopping list.
I usually don't print the recipe until right before I start the cooking process because I learned the hard way when it took me a full week to file less than half.
Two things I did change. I added Parmesan to the top right before baking and hit the broil for some crunch.
While the Nudge would never pick this in a restaurant, he has become more tolerant of my vegetable main meals. Heck, when he has lunch out, he's been known to order the avocado eggrolls!
This was a thumbs up! Very rich and filling. Would I make it again. Yes, most certainly but the next time I would save a few steps and use the filling for jumbo shells.
Butternut Squash Cannelloni
makes 6 cannelloni
* 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1 small onion, chopped
* 1 to 1/2 pound butternut squash meat, 1" pieces
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon cumin
* 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
* 1/2cup grated Parmesan cheese
* 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
* 2 cups chopped spinach, chard or other greens
* 2 tablespoons EVOO
* 6 sheets no-boil lasagna sheets
* 1 teaspoon dried sage
1. Heat 2 tablespoon butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat.
Add onion & squash and saute for 5 minutes, flip over and repeat 2x more.
2. Add 1/2 cup water, a lid and steam for 3 minutes or until squash is soft. Remove the lid and continue simmering until the water is almost gone.
3. Sprinkle spices (up to pepper) over squash and mash mixture. Transfer to a bowl. When cool, stir in ricotta and Parmesan.
4. Add remaining tablespoon butter to a saute pan and cook greens until wilted and liquid has evaporated. Season with salt & pepper. Cool and add to cheese mixture. Refrigerate until ready to use.
5. Heat water to a boil & add a tablespoon of salt. Cook pasta for 6 minutes, drain and lay the pasta on a cookie sheet that has been drizzled with olive oil.
6. To assemble the cannelloni: Lay a pasta sheet on a wooden board. Spoon three tablespoons of cheese mixture down the middle, lengthwise <---------------->. Add 1/6th of the greens mixture over the cheese and fold the top part of the pasta towards you, pat down to adhere and roll again, seam side down.---------------->
7. Spoon half the sauce into a 9x13" casserole pan. Lay the rolled cannelloni seam side down, side by side. Spoon remaining sauce over cannelloni and bake immediately in preheated 425° oven or cover and refrigerate.
8. Right before baking, sprinkle additional Parmesan on top (optional).
8. Bake for 30 minutes until bubbly and browned around the edges.
Sage-Walnut Cream Sauce
makes 2 cups
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 2 tablespoons AP flour
* 1 cup milk
* 1/2 cup heavy cream
* 1/2 cup white wine
* 1 tablespoon ground sage
* Salt & pepper
* 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
* pinch of nutmeg
1. Heat the butter in a a large saucepan over medium heat. When bubbling, add flour and whisk until all the lumps are gone. Add milk, cream & wine to butter/flour mixture and simmer on low, whisking continuously until mixture is free of lumps. Add walnuts & nutmeg to sauce and salt & pepper to taste.
March 22, 2017
If you are a food blogger, you will most certainly have one recipe (or 20) in your blog post section that has been delegated to the draft pile.
Without even counting and at the top of my head, I can honestly say my drafts are well over 100.
So, once a year I go back in and clean them out, that is, except the few that I still want to blog about but just never get the chance too.
Meet one from 2011.
I have been trying to make shawarma for years. Why now?
A few reasons, one being I have an abundance of pita in my freezer, the other is the acceptance of The Nudge to try new ethnic cuisines that I have always wanted to explore but wouldn't dare put on our menu.
This month's theme was picked with me in mind. We are challenged to cook with three ingredients already in our fridge & pantry.
Besides the chicken thighs, everything in this recipe came right out of my pantry.
If you open my pantry door you would swear that I snapped a pic of my store's spice racks and recreated them in the over-the-door storage rack that leads to my pantry.
I am not kidding.
What better way to take a trip around the world from your diner table?
Last week I printed out well known spice mixtures from around the world and made a whole bunch. You have to figure that there will be no more excuses for all those drafts.
Ras el Hanout
With all those pre-mixed spice blends, the one I did not make was, yea, you got it.....shawarma.
I can now add it to my list.
What I love about this recipe is the ease and quickness.
When I cook chicken, I always try to leave the bone in and remove the skin myself.
Takes me all of 2 minutes but remember we are a family of two and four thighs are easy work.
If I needed 10-12 thighs I would buy them already prepared.
First thing before I start my day, is to marinade or spice that nights dinner. If I was working I would do it the night before. If this was a liquid marinade I would minus the pan and just put everything into the bag but if I have the room, and it is a dry rub, I prefer to leave the meat flat and side by side.
Then I bag it, suck out as much air as I can and pop it into the bottom drawer.
By laying them flat and not touching, the spice mixture stays in place and evenly flavors the meat.
While I prepare the salad garnish, I heat the grill and remove the pan.
Never cook meat straight out of the cold. It will seize and never relax. I got into the habit of taking the food out of the fridge as soon as I walked into the kitchen.
The vegetable salsa is as simple as this dish is. Chopped tomatoes, lettuce, red onions and a yogurt sauce. I would place a bottle of your favorite hot sauce (sriracha here) for those who like a kick.
makes 4 pitas
Spice blend (exactly enough for four thighs but an be easily doubled):
2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 lemon slice, wedged
1 tablespoon olive oil (recommend light)
1/4 cup apple juice
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon tahini
1/4 teaspoon mint
1/4 teaspoon dill
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon honey
Squeeze lemon juice
Salt & pepper
4 pitas, wrapped and warm from the oven
Sliced red onion
1. On a grill or in a cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil and saute the thighs for 5 minutes on each side.
2. Add the apple juice, cover the skillet, lower the heat and steam the chicken until the apple juice thickens.
3. Remove the skillet from the heat and cool. Using 2 forks, shred the chicken from the bones.
4. Pour any juices over the chicken and serve.