Friday, January 24, 2014

Eggplant za'atar pizza

I'm experimenting with this Middle Eastern spice, Za'atar. It seems to fit well with eggplant and breads, so I turned it into a flatbread with fresh tomatoes.

1 portion pizza dough
1 tbsp olive oil
2-3 tbsp za'atar
1.5 cup diced eggplant
0.5 tsp pepper flakes
small pinch of cinnamon
2 cloves garlic
10 cherry tomatoes + some to serve
2 tbsp grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 400F. Cook diced eggplant in a small amount of oil with the crushed garlic, pepper flakes, diced cherry tomatoes, cinnamon and salt. Cook until slightly browned.

Stretch out flatbread and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with za'atar. Top with eggplant mix. Top with shredded Parmesan.

Bake in the preheated oven until crust is light brown. Serve with fresh tomatoes on the side.

Deviled ham

I had a piece of ham left over from my cooked ham in the freezer. Frozen ham doesn't really thaw well for fresh consumption, but in this ham salad recipe it makes a perfect sandwich spread.

250g cooked ham
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
4-5 pickle slices
2 tbsp diced onion
1 tsp Sriracha sauce
2-3 tbsp mayo
black pepper

Add the ham to a food processor and process until the meat is evenly shredded.

Add the other ingredients, and process until a creamy spread forms. Scrape down the sides occasionally.

Serve with toast, crackers or as a sandwich spread.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Potato leek soup

I'm a fan of leeks in zelnik and maznik, so I was curious how I would feel about this soup. It's a dreary, cold winter day soup. And a dreary, cold winter is what we have going on in my part of the world right now. Honestly, the soup was not bad, but in the future I will save my leeks for zelnik filling.

2 leeks
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp butter
2 large potatoes
2 cups veggie broth
0.5 cup cream
0.25 cup buttermilk
0.25 tsp white pepper
crispy bacon

Wash the leeks thoroughly and remove the green parts. Chop the rest. To a large pot add the butter and the leeks with a pinch of salt. Sautee for 5 minutes on high and 25 minutes on medium. Add the chopped garlic.

Add the peeled potatoes cut into chunks with the broth. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes, until potatoes are cooked.

Puree the mixture and stir in the cream, pepper and buttermilk. Season with salt and top with crispy bacon bits.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Spinach and sun-dried tomato pasta

This was a quick and easy dish that turned out surprisingly tasty. It could have been prepared with vegetable broth for a vegetarian version.

8 oz penne pasta
8 oz baby spinach
1 tbsp basil pesto
15 sun-dried tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
2 oz parmesan
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup beef broth
0.25 tsp pepper flakes
0.5 tsp oregano
1 tsp red wine vinegar

Rehydrate the sun-dried tomatoes and mix them with one minced garlic clove and the dried oregano. Set aside.

To a blender add 5 of the rehydrated tomatoes, one clove of garlic, the basil peso, the vinegar and a portion of the beef broth. Blend until smooth.

Boil the pasta until al dente. Drain. Meanwhile, in a sauce pan heat the olive oil, add the pepper flakes and the remaining clove of garlic, minced. Heat for 30 seconds and add the spinach leaves. Stir and heat until wilted.

Add the tomatoes and the drained pasta. Pour in the beef broth and the contents of the blender. Simmer until liquids are absorbed. Season with salt.

Serve with Parmesan grated on top.

Rehydrating sun-dried tomatoes

Sun-dried tomatoes from the store vary in quality greatly. Pick the softer ones, they will rehydrate better.

Place the tomatoes in a bowl and cover with just enough hot water to immerse all the tomatoes. Add a few drops of vinegar. Allow to sit for 50-60 minutes. 

Drain, dice and toss with a teaspoon of olive oil, a few cloves of garlic and some dried oregano. Set aside to marinade. They will taste delicious in any savory dish!

Tuna salad with sun-dried tomatoes

This was simply the best tuna salad I've ever encountered. Made with home made pesto and sun-dried tomatoes from the co-op, this was a tasty, not at all fishy dish.

2 cans of tuna
1 tbsp mayo
1 tbsp basil pesto
4-6 sun-dried tomatoes
1 clove garlic
0.25 tsp oregano

Rehydrate the sun-dried tomatoes, then chop them and mix them with minced garlic and dried oregano. Set aside.

Drain the tuna and add the mayo, pesto and tomato bits. Mix well. Serve with toast or in a sandwich.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Tamale pie

This was an American Test Kitchen recipe, and while I usually love their recipes, I was not a fan of this particular combination. I have to add, I'm not sure I would like any tamale pie. I enjoy sweet cornbread, but mixing with with chili is just weird for me. That said, their original recipe actually ended up tasting too salty for my preferences. This is the adopted, low-salt version. One can easily turn it into a vegetarian recipe by using soy flakes in place of the ground meat.

2 tbsp oil
1 onion
2 tbsp chili powder
2 medium cloves of garlic
1 pound ground beef
16 oz canned beans
15 oz canned diced tomatoes
3 oz cheddar cheese
2 tbsp cilantro leaves

0.75 cup flour
0.75 cup cornmeal
2 tbsp sugar
0.75 tsp baking powder
0.75 tsp baking soda
0.25 tsp salt
0.75 cup buttermilk
1 egg
3 tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 450F. Heat the oil and add the diced onion, chili powder and 0.25 tsp salt. Cook for 5 minutes, until onions are softened. Add crushed garlic and cook for one minute.

Stir in meat, beans and tomatoes. Break up meat while stirring and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in chopped cilantro and grated cheddar. Set aside.

Mix all dry ingredients for the cornbread: flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and soda. Whisk egg with buttermilk.

Mix dry mixture with buttermilk mix. Add in melted butter until just combined. Distribute on top of filling in oven-proof pan.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, serve.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Jalapeno popper spread

I love jalapeno poppers, those deep fried, crispy, spicy, cheese little snacks. However, they always seemed like too much of a bother to prepare. This dip version has the same flavor and the preparation is much less of a hassle.

16 oz cream cheese
1 cup mayo
4 oz chopped green chilies
1 tsp salt
0.25 tsp black pepper
0.25 tsp paprika
4-6 oz hot pickled jalapeno peppers
0.5 cup breadcrumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375F. Warm the cream cheese in a glass bowl to soften. Add the mayo, salt and pepper, and stir in with a blender until smooth.

Add in the drained, diced chilies, paprika and the diced jalapenos. Mix well. Scoop into 9-inch pie shape.

Mix breadcrumbs and shredded Parmesan. Sprinkle over dip. Spray lightly with olive oil.

Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown on top, about 20 minutes. Serve with fresh pita bread wedges.

Pumpkin scones

Fresh out of bed this morning, it took moments to whip this delicious, wintry version of my usual almond scones up. The warm scones were crispy on the outside, tender on the inside and deliciously buttery. They fit very well with Maine wild blueberry jam.

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
0.25 tsp baking soda
0.25 tsp salt
0.5 tsp pumpkin pie spice
0.5 tsp vanilla
0.5 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup buttermilk
0.25 cup sugar
6 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 400F. Mix the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, pie spice and sugar.

Cut in the cold butter. Add in the pumkin puree, buttermilk and vanilla extract. Mix just until the dough pulls together.

Place onto a well-floured surface and press into a 0.75-inch thick rectangle. Cut into 6 pieces and put onto a baking shape lined with parchment paper.

Brush tops with butter milk and sprinkle with decorative sugar (optional). Bake for about 15 minutes, until tops are golden brown.

Cool on cookie rack. Serve warm.