Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Spicy squash flatbreads

I learned this from a friend whose cooking persuaded me that being vegetarian (at least part time) is actually not a bad thing. Vegetarian foods can be made tasty with available, everyday ingredients. I had a hard time believing this by just looking at food blogs. Most of them use ingredients I've never heard of, ones that are not available anywhere to boot. So, this is one of many vegetarian recipes that I've been making using simple, accessible foodstuffs.

4 garlic flatbreads
0.5 butternut squash
2 yellow onions
1 tsp maple syrup
2-3 jalapeno peppers
0.5 cup Feta cheese
4 oz cheddar cheese
4 cloves garlic
1 tbsp olive oil

Mince the garlic and mix with olive oil.

Preheat oven to 400F, dice the squash into 1-inch pieces, toss with 1 tbsp of vegetable oil and 0.25 tsp salt and bake for 50 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Dice two yellow onions and caramelize slowly with a pinch of salt. Mix into roasted butternut squash with maple syrup. Break up a little, but not completely. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, black pepper, lemon juice.

Wash the jalapenos and slice, leaving veins and seeds in for optimal spiciness.

Heat oven to 425F. Place flatbreads onto pan, brush with garlic olive oil. Spread squash-onion mix on top. Slice jalapenos on it.

Sprinkle with Feta cheese, then with shredded cheddar.

Bake until bread is crispy and cheese is lightly browned. Serve!

Caramelized butternut squash

This was surprisingly simple, mildly sweet, soft and perfect. A must have for all winter squash fans.

1 butternut squash
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
0.25 tsp salt
black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Peel the butternut squash and cut into two pieces lengthwise. Remove the seeds. Slice into 1-inch slices, then cube into 1-inch cubes. Be sure that the pieces are about the same size.

Toss with melted butter, brown sugar, salt and a sprinkling of black pepper. Spread out into a single layer on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.

Bake for 50 minutes, turning twice during this period. Serve while still warm.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Veggie wraps

My absolute favorite way to consume a salad. Of course , to be able to eat an entire salad out of a wrap, you need to have pretty good skills for folding a wrap without it losing structural integrity. I happen to have long fingers, not to mention, two years of experience folding wraps. If you don't like veggies, try them this way!

2 roasted tomato wraps
2 handfuls of mixed spring greens or arugula
8-10 cherry tomatoes
1/3 of a seedless English cucumber
2 organic carrots (the fresh kinds, with greens on)
4 tbsp Feta cheese
6 tbsp Sabra hummus (with roasted pine nuts)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
black pepper

Slice the cucumber and soak in balsamic. Salt lightly.

Take the wraps and spread the hummus on the center, bottom one third of each. Add a handful of the greens to both wraps.

Shred the carrot on top, sprinkle with freshly cracked black pepper. Salt lightly.

Add the chopped tomatoes, Feta and vinegary cucumbers. Fold in edges then roll from bottom, tucking in sides as you go. Cut in half with seam-side down. Serve!

Crepe grilled cheese

I had a few salty crepes at hand, so I went on a rampage and filled them with all sorts of ingredients from my fridge. Spicy sauerkraut salad was found in the one from the previous post, while this one sports some pepperoni and shredded cheese, toasted grilled cheese sandwich style.

salty crepes
pepperoni slices
mozzarella cheese

Cover one quarter of the crepe with pepperoni slices. Shred a layer of cheese on top. Fold in half.

Shred cheese on quarter of the exposed half. Fold in half again.

Toast in a preheated pan until golden brown. Serve.

Spicy cabbage crepes

One morning I was making salty crepes and contemplating what to fill them with. Then inspiration hit in the form of sauerkraut. After all, it is winter.

salty crepes
spicy sauerkraut salad
scrambled eggs

Stuff crepes with sauerkraut and scrambled eggs. Serve.

Hungarian cheese spread

This is a traditional dish in Hungary, prepared with turo, a type of fresh cheese. I'm usually a greater fan of dishes that use turo in a sweet form, but this one is a keeper. It's very flavorful and makes a delicious party snack. Just ensure that everyone has a bite in the company, as the garlic makes it quite pungent...

0.5 cup fresh ricotta
3 cloves of garlic
1 jalapeno pepper
1 tsp hot Hungarian paprika

Mince the garlic. Wash and finely dice the jalapeno. Leave the veins in for a spicier dish.

Mix the diced jalapeno, garlic, ricotta, and paprika. Add salt to taste. Refrigerate for an hour before serving with toasted baguette slices.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Onion soup


This was a surprisingly delicious comfort food. I prepared it once with vegetable broth and once with a beef stock. In all honesty, I liked the vegetable version more.

2 large yellow onions
2 tbsp butter
0.5 tsp salt
one sprig of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
0.25 cup white wine
2-3 cups of stock

Dice the onions into larger squares. In a small pot heat the butter and saute the onions with the salt until lightly browned.

Add the bay leaf and heat for a minute. Add the thyme and the white wine. Cook for 5 minutes.

Add the stock and simmer for 30 minutes. Replace water as needed.

Preheat the oven to 400F, toast slices of baguette on both sides and top with cheese. The oven is used to ensure that the bread slices dry out a bit. Melt the cheese.

Remove the bay leaf and the thyme. Serve the soup with the cheesy toast pieces.

Custardy pumpkin pie


A Chef John specialty, not from scratch, but quick and reliably consistent (which is not always true of home-baked pumpkins).

one 9-inch pie crust
15 oz canned pumpkin
1 large egg
3 egg yolks
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
0.25 tsp nutmeg
0.5 tsp ginger
1.25 tsp cinnamon
0.25 tsp Chinese allspice
0.25 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 425 F. Whisk the ingredients for the filling together until smooth. Leave out the milk at first, add in after everything else is smooth.

Roll out the pie crust and place into a baking shape. Crinkle edges. Pierce with fork.

Pour in filling, tap to remove bubbles. Place into the preheated 425F oven for 15 minutes. Bake for another 30-35 minutes at 350F. Test whether it's just set about 1 inch from the edge. Do not overbake!

Allow to cool and serve!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Almond cake

This is a cake prepared entirely in a food processor. For being extremely easy to put together, it is nevertheless an impressive, moist delicacy. It's even better the second day and still very edible on the fourth, but if you have more than two people to eat it there won't be any an hour after pulling it from the oven.

1 cup sugar
8 oz almond paste
2 sticks butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
0.25 tsp almond extract
6 eggs
1 cup flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
0.25 tsp salt 

Preheat oven to 325 F. Line 9-inch springform pan with baking paper. Spray with oil lightly.

Add sugar and almond paste to a food processor and pulverize it.

Add in softened butter, almond extract and the vanilla. Cream until light and fluffy. Add in eggs one at a time, until each is blended in completely.

Mix flour with baking powder and salt. Beat into egg mixture just until blended.

Bake for 60 to 75 minutes, until toothpick inserted at center comes out clean. Let cool for 20 minutes before removing from pan.

Pandebono breakfast sandwich

This is based on the delicious Colombian cheesy bread. A tasty, refreshing change from our usual wheat breads. Key to the success of the meal is good avocado. To get the best, I found that I have to pick the greenest, hardest avocados in the store, then ripen them with bananas in a brown paper bag at home. If you pick ones that feel soft to the touch at the store, you risk getting bruised, black specimen.

4 pandebono breads
4 eggs
4 tbsp chunky, hot salsa
one avocado

Fry the eggs, Spread the salsa on the bread. Top with fried eggs and sliced avocado. Serve!


A Colombian cheesy bread I like to call pandemonium. The bread has a soft, moist, creamy/chewy inside with a crisper coating outside. It has a delicate cheese flavor. While this bread is an amazing snack by itself, it can be served topped with a variety of things, like salsa, avocados, fried eggs, etc.

0.25 cup masarepa
2/3 cup tapioca flour
1 cup farmer's cheese (Friendship brand)
1.25 cup Feta
1 egg

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Add all ingredients but the egg to the food processor. Blend until well-mixed. Slowly add the egg and pulse in.

Press golf ball-size pieces of the dough into flatter discs to be topped, or round balls to prepare rolls. Bake for 20 minutes, until light brown outside. Cool on cookie rack. Serve or freeze.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Cajun jambalaya


A super-meaty, tasty, spicy dish. I'm fond of all these rice dishes since I received my rice-cooker. Be sure not to overcook the rice!

1 chicken breast
0.5 lb raw, detailed shrimp
8 oz courico sausage (Portugese, smoked, hot)
1 cup rice
1 small yellow onion
3 stalks celery
half a green bell pepper
14 oz petite diced tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
3 bay leaves
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp hot sauce
2 tbsp creole seasoning

Cook the rice in a rice cooker until done.

Rub the chicken breast with 0.5 tbsp creole seasoning. Sear in a hot pan with a small amount of oil. Set aside.

Toss the shrimp with 0.5 tbsp creole seasoning.

Slice the sausages and cook in a pot. Remove sausages and add chopped onion, celery, bay leaves and peppers. Cook for 10 minutes.

Add the minced garlic cloves and the remaining 1 tbsp creole seasoning. Cook for an additional 30 seconds.

Add the Worchestershire sauce, tomatoes and hot sauce. Add the shrimp and cook until shrimp is done. Add the sausage and diced, seared chicken. Cook until little liquid remains. Stir in the rice. Serve.

Creole seasoning

This is amazing on grilled chicken or shrimp. It's also used in jambalaya.

4 tsp paprika
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp garlic powder
0.5 tbsp black pepper
0.5 tbsp onion powder
0.5 tbsp cayenne pepper
0.5 tbsp oregano
0.5 tbsp thyme

Mix and store in a small container. I ended up storing this in one of my empty prescription bottles after peeling the label. Looks funny on the spice rack.

Shrimp fried rice


This is the best fried rice I've ever eaten. It requires some prep work, but it's very easy to put together once everything is prepped. Anyone I've served this to was impressed. The recipe was developed by ATK and modified slightly (ratios). If you have a rice-cooker and a fondness for spicy food, this is a must try. For a vegetarian option the shrimp can be substituted with tofu browned in butter, or left out entirely.

2 cups long-grain rice
4 eggs
1.5 tbsp soy sauce
1.5 tbsp brown sugar
1.5 tbsp fish sauce
1.5 tbsp molasses
1 lb raw, detailed shrimp
3-4 jalapenos
1 medium yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp sambal chili paste
0.25 cup chopped caramelized onions
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 scallions
1 cup cherry tomatoes
lime slices

Cook the rice in a rice cooker using less rather than more water around the mark. Allow to sit in cooker for 15 minutes after preparation. Spread out onto a cookie sheet and place into fridge. Collect in 30 minutes and store until used.

In a food processor blend cored jalapenos, onion and garlic cloves until a paste is formed.

Slice scallions. Cut cherry tomatoes in quarters.

Mix molasses, soy sauce, brown sugar and fish sauce. Set aside.

Heat on medium 1 tbsp oil in a skillet. When hot add 2 beaten, lightly-salted eggs. Cook until top is nearly set. Slide onto cutting board and roll into tight cylinder. Set aside. Cook the other two eggs the same way.

Add 1 tbsp of oil to the skillet and the onion-pepper paste. Cook until thickened. Add the sambal chili, mix in and add the drained shrimp. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until shrimp is almost completely done.

Add the molasses mix, heat until just bubbly. Add the rice immediately and mix until coated. Cook until heated through.

Mix in the scallions and caramelized onions. Top with the tomatoes and the sliced, rolled eggs. Serve with lime juice squeezed on top.

Sweet potato chili

Going vegetarian for a while this year. Though I found an excellent local meat source as a wonderful farm near us, I'm attempting a weekday vegetarian lifestyle for health and weight-loss purposes. This sweet potato chili was one that my husband liked more than I did, but it worked for me as well.

4 sweet potatoes
0.5 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
1 bell pepper
1 jalapeno
0.75 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp chipotle chili powder
0.5 tbsp chili powder
0.5 tsp cocoa powder
0.25 tsp oregano
28 oz diced tomatoes
1 tbsp corn meal
2 cups black beans

Cook black beans until tender.

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into six sticks lengthwise, then half-inch chunks. Toss with 1 tbsp olive oil and 0.5 tsp salt. Preheat the oven to 400F. Toss potatoes onto a foil-lined baking sheet, arrange into a single layer. Bake for 25 minutes, until outside is slightly crusty.

Dice onions, pepper, slice jalapeno, mince garlic.

Cook the onion, bell pepper, sliced jalapeno for 5 minutes. Then add garlic, cumin, chili powders and oregano. Cook for another minute.

Pour in the tomatoes, add about a cup of water and simmer.Add about a teaspoon of sugar, add the cocoa and season with some salt. Cook for 30 minutes.

Add the drained beans and the roasted potatoes. Cook for another 10 minutes. Serve garnished with cilantro and sour cream.