Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sweet and sour cabbage soup

The ultimate diet food. High in fiber and water content, while low in calories. This soup warms the heart on cold winter days. Serve with a piece of crusty bread.

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 yellow onion
1 bell pepper
3 carrots
1 small head of cabbage
14 oz diced tomatoes
0.5 tsp ground caraway seeds
8 oz tomato paste
4 cups vegetable stock
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp Sriracha hot sauce

Saute onions and peppers in vegetable oil. Add paprika, caraway seeds and bay leaves. Cook for one minute.

Add tomato paste, 1 tsp sugar and hot sauce. Stir in and cook for a minute.

Shred cabbage in food processor. Add cabbage to pot. Pour in broth and sliced carrots and tomatoes. Add just enough water to cover veggies. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

Season with salt, lemon juice and sugar. Remove bay leaves and serve.

Quick fajitas

I'm doing an eatdown in my house again. Meaning, I attempt to cook from ingredients accumulated in my house only, with the exception of buying fresh dairy, vegetables and fruits. So no meats, grains and other carbs allowed into the house. This is fun, as it usually results in unlocking some creative use of ingredients, and reducing my food expenses for the eatdown month. These fajitas were born from pork chops in the freezer, some leftover tortillas and an old avocado that was perfectly ripe.

4 flour tortillas
1 bell pepper
1 yellow onion
2 small pork chops
1 avocado
1 clove garlic
8 cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp Sriracha hot sauce
black pepper

Slice the meat into small strips. Mix with some salt, black pepper and cumin. Set aside. Slice the bell pepper into narrow strips. Slice the onion into strips.

Mash the avocado and add the crushed garlic, lemon juice and hot sauce. Season with salt after mixing well.

Preheat a large skillet on high. Spray with oil and add in the onions. Sautee until translucent and browned in parts. Add the peppers and continue cooking until peppers are softened. Remove from pan.

Wipe the pan dry and spray with oil. Heat on high heat, then add the meat. Cook until browned on outside and done inside (given that these are thin strips, the two will coincide). Add back the peppers and onions. Cook together for a minute.

Microwave the tortillas and distribute meat mix onto them. Spoon avocado mash on top. Cut cherry tomatoes in half and sprinkle onto filled tortillas. Serve fresh.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Sardine salad

A delicious, salty, fishy salad for those craving veggies that pack a punch.

3 cups mixed baby greens
1 avocado
2 eggs
0.5 cup fresh green beans
1/3 cup Kalamata olives
1 can sardines
0.25 cup hot banana peppers
2 tbsp capers
0.25 cup red pepper slices
1/3 cup cherry tomatoes
3 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette

Chop the green beans, olives, and tomatoes. Add the pepper slices, banana peppers and capers. Toss with balsamic vinaigrette. Add the sardines and mix gently.

Boil the eggs to get an almost firm yolk, about 7 minutes. Cool and peel. Toss greens with a tiny little balsamic. Top with sliced egg and sliced, ripe avocado.

Center the salty, olivey, fishy goodness on top of this bed of veggies and eggs. Serve.

Garlic knots

I love cooking. It constitutes in one the major form of my artistic expression and my favorite application of science. Occasionally I cannot help but contemplate the vanity of the skill. What was at its simplest an expression of care toward our families and ourselves, becomes a form of conceit with its exotic ingredients and expensive accessories. Maybe therein lies my fascination with bread. A simple staple made from a minimal number of ingredients becomes diverse in texture, flavor and form in its shaping. 

3 tsp dry yeast
1.5 tsp honey
1 cup water
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter
6 garlic cloves
grated Parmesan
dried oregano

Bloom the yeast with the honey and 0.25 cup warm water in the bowl of a kitchenaid mixer. Attach the dough hook.

Add 1.5 cup of the flour, 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp salt and mix on medium. Add the rest of the flour until a slightly sticky dough forms. Knead for 5 minutes. Brush with oil, cover and allow to rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours.

Roll out into a 16-by-12-inch rectangle. Brush with a tbsp of olive oil. Cut into two 8-by-12-inch rectangles. Slice each into 12 strips. Fold each 24 strips into a knot. Place onto two parchment paper-covered baking shape. Sprinkle each with salt. Allow to rise in a warm oven for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile crush the garlic cloves and heat with the butter. Turn off the heat once fragrant. Preheat oven to 375F. Bake the rolls until light brown and remove from oven. This will take about 15-20 minutes.

Toss rolls with garlic butter and sprinkle with finely grated Parmesan and oregano. Serve while warm.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Cardamom dessert bread

My favorite food group in Norway was desserts and pastries. Cardamom is a common flavor in nordic pastries, which are generally more flavorful and less sweet than their US counterparts. This one is an elegant and delicious sweet snack.

3.5 tbsp butter
0.5 cup milk
0.25 cup water
1 tsp yeast
2.25 cup flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp ground cardamom
0.5 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
3.5 tbsp butter
1 tsp cardamom
0.5 tbsp cinnamon

Bloom the yeast with the warm water and a small pinch of the sugar. Add the remaining sugar, the melted 3.5 tbsp butter and the warm milk. Add in the flour and salt and knead for 5 minutes, until smooth. Cover and set aside to rise for an hour.

Melt the other 3.5 tbsp of butter, add 3 tbsp of sugar, 1 tsp cardamom and 0.5 tbsp of cinnamon. Mix well.

Roll out the dough to an 11 by 17 inch rectangle. Spread with the cinnamon filling. Roll up and allow to rise for 30-40 minutes. Preheat oven to 375F.

Cut the roll of dough every one inch and fold out as shown in the picture.

Brush with milk and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool on a cookie rack.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Meat lasagne

This requires a little bit of work, but it's totally worth it. The sauce is better if allowed to sit overnight and when prepared with low-fat beef and my favorite local farm's homemade hot Italian sausage. This dish is like a pizza casserole, and while I preferred the sauce on rotini pasta, my husband loved the pizza-style layered version.

10 large lasagna noodles
1 lb Italian sausage
1 lb ground beef
2 yellow onions
4 cloves garlic
28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
16 oz tomato sauce
8 oz tomato paste
1 tbsp sugar
0.5 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
3/4 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp oregano
1-2 tsp salt
0.25 tsp black pepper
0.25 cup chopped fresh parsley
16 oz ricotta cheese
1 egg
0.25 tsp nutmeg
0.75 lb shredded mozzarella
0.75 cup grated Parmesan

In a food processor process the onion and the garlic into a paste. In a large pot brown the sausage and the beef. After 5 minutes add the onion and garlic paste.

Add the canned tomatoes, sugar, salt, oregano and fennel. Simmer for 90 minutes, covered, stirring occasionally.

Add in the fresh basil, half of the fresh parsley and turn off heat. Allow to rest overnight.

Mix the ricotta with the egg and the remaining fresh parsley, nutmeg and 0.5 tsp salt.

Boil the noodles according to package directions. Take a large lasange pan and add 1.5 cup of the meat sauce to the bottom. Cover with noodles. Spread on one half of the ricotta mixture. Top with a third of the mozzarella, Spread on 2 cups of meat sauce and sprinkle with a third of the Parmesan.

Add the next layer of pasta, then half of the ricotta, topped with a third of the mozzarella, 2 cups of the meat sauce and then the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Cover the lasagne with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 25 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Spinach salad with mushrooms

I just wanted to state here clearly: everything is better with bacon. Even bacon. Trust me and try it sometime. This is a meal-worthy salad guessed it, bacon!

8 oz baby spinach
2 eggs
8 oz bacon
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
8 oz mushrooms
0.5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 small red onion

Chop the bacon and fry until crisp. Drain from fat and remove onto a paper towel. Save 3 tbsp of the bacon grease.

Slice and brown the mushrooms with a little salt. When browned add the balsamic vinegar and reduce briefly until slices are well-coated.

Remove the stems from the spinach and place into a large bowl. Slice the red onion into thin half-circles. Add to spinach. Add browned mushrooms to spinach. Boil the eggs and peel them.

Heat the bacon fat and add the red wine vinegar, sugar and some black pepper and salt to season it. Pour onto spinach, mushrooms and onions and toss to mix. Slice eggs on top and serve with a roll.