May 15, 2013
I saw this recipe from Bon Appetit while planning a family trip to Illinois. I sent it to Margaux’s Mom Kathleen where I’m staying and she gave it a thumbs up . . . and that was only on paper . I made this a couple of days ago and we both agreed it’s a Wow! A pretty fast and easy wow at that. We served with a green salad and a Sauvignon Blanc. My niece Malory’s kids are sick so I asked if I could get her some groceries, and she requested most of the ingredients in this recipe. So I shared it with her and she made it last night – so not only did adults like this but it has been kid-tested also. And, thanks for the photo, Malory!
Malory says . . .
As Aunt Suzy mentioned I have three sick kiddos, ages 5 and under, so as you may be able to imagine I am a little worn out! Deciding what’s for dinner is never an easy task and the same recipes can get very monotonous. What I love most about this simple recipe is that it takes the same ingredients I usually have on hand and mixes it up for a great flavorful dish! My tastebuds were in heaven! My kids loved it too and even asked for seconds. Next time I will definitely be doubling this recipe!
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups brown rice
3 cups water
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon each ground cumin and coriander
2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup water
2 jalapeños or Fresno chiles (red preferred if available), stemmed, halved, seeded
1-2 garlic cloves
1 rounded tablespoon chopped peeled ginger
zest and juice of one lime
1 avocado, halved, pitted, chopped
1/2 cup or more coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup or more crumbled Cotija or feta cheese
lime wedges (for serving)
Cook the rice: Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a medium saucepan. Saute about 1/4 of the chopped onion till soft then add the rice and saute until it has a nutty aroma. Add the 3 cups of water, bring to a boil and simmer for 30-45 minutes until water is completely absorbed. When done, add a handful of cilantro if you wish. While the rice is cooking . . .
Cook the beans: Saute about 1/3 of the remaining chopped onion in one tablespoon olive oil till soft. Add the spices and saute a minute more. Add the beans and water, bring to a bubble, turn down the heat and simmer 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally and mashing a few beans. Take off heat and set aside.
Make the salsa: Place the remaining onion, chiles, garlic, ginger and lime zest/juice in a blender container. Pulse to a chunky consistency. Pour salsa into a bowl.
Assemble the dish: For each serving, place rice into a bowl and top with some beans. Sprinkle with cilantro, some avocado and cheese. Top with the ginger-lime salsa. Pass the lime wedges.
April 20, 2013
Aunt Suzy says . . .
Margaux and I are on the lookout for good recipes using shredded chicken. I was looking for something new to make but that would be fast and easy on a busy Sunday. I love all the flavors in this stew, so thought I’d give it a whirl. It was a hit! Randy and I both agreed that I should double the recipe next time – we barely had a small lunch portion left after eating. We served it with a salad, baguette and some a Pinot Gris wine. Since spring is seeming like it is not going to show up this year, this warming dish was especially welcome on a cold and snowy day.
Margaux says . . .
This dish was a hit in our house, too! We always love bean stews, so I knew it would probably get gobbled up. At Aunt Suzy’s suggestion, I made a double recipe, and I’m glad I did. It was the perfect amount for dinner and then lunch for Desi and me the next day.
When I made this, I misread the recipe and used bone-in chicken, and it was really good, if a little greasy. I just skimmed as much of the extra fat off the top as I could. This would be a great recipe to use for leftover shredded chicken, I would just use chicken broth instead of water, and add the chicken at the end with the red peppers, etc. It would also be good vegetarian, eliminating the chicken altogether. In that case, I would maybe use more red pepper.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
4 cups water or chicken stock or a combination
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup roasted red peppers from a jar, drained and sliced into 1-inch pieces
Juice of ½ lemon, or more
1/3 cup coarsely chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley
Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt; add to the pot and cook, turning once, until browned, 8–10 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Reduce heat to low and let oil cool slightly; add garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, 30–60 seconds. Add cumin, tomato paste, and red pepper flakes; stir until a smooth paste forms, about 1 minute. Add the liquid, the reserved chicken with any accumulated juices and the bay leaves. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, occasionally stirring, until chicken is tender, about 20 minutes.
Transfer chicken to a plate and let cool slightly. Add chickpeas to pot; bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for 10-15 minutes. Shred the chicken. Add the chicken, red peppers, half the herbs and lemon juice; simmer for a couple of minutes until heated through. Season with salt and more lemon juice, if desired. Ladle soup over into bowls and garnish with more of the herbs.
April 14, 2013
Aunt Suzy says . . .
I’ve wanted to make a cornmeal-based cake for a while, with my eye on one made with olive oil. But this cake, featured in our local newspaper’s Taste section, looked good and was just what was needed to get me in gear. We really enjoyed it for breakfast with tea and coffee, feeling that tea was the better complement. I also toasted and buttered a slice the second day – delish! One of the things we really liked about this cake is that it’s not very sweet, making it perfect for breakfast. The original recipe suggested berries and/or whipped cream when serving the cake as a dessert.
I’m really glad Aunt Suzy shared this recipe with me! I made it for our Saturday morning breakfast (baked the night before), and it was really fantastic with our over-easy eggs and yogurt with strawberries. I love the orange flavor and the texture the corn meal gives to the cake. My son pointed out that it would also be good with frosting (of course), and I agree, as a dessert it would be great with an orange glaze (2 tbsp fresh orange juice, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tbsp orange zest).
Cornmeal Pound Cake with Orange and Dried Cranberries
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
Generous pinch salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
5 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter or grease a 5 x 9-inch loaf pan.
Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until very light and fluffy. Next, beat in the egg yolks one at a time, continuing to mix at high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, orange rind and orange juice and dried cranberries.
Gently fold the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and stir until combined.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter using a spatula until combined. Scoop into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. This will take 1 to 1 1/4 hours depending on your oven.
When done, remove and allow to cool in the pan. Remove from the pan and turn the cake right side up. Cool completely before slicing.
AS COOK’S NOTES: The original recipe called for 1/4 cup dried cranberries, but each slice had only 2-3 pieces per! We’ve increased the amount of cranberries to 1/2 cup – they provide a nice contrast in taste and texture to the cake. I used the organic dried cranberries from Trader Joe’s, which are large, round and plump. The baking time was specified at 1 hour 15 minutes, but I was glad I checked at 65 minutes, because the cake was definitely done – maybe slight too done! I recommend setting a timer for 1 hour and checking from there until done.
M COOK’S NOTES: I agree about the baking time…I checked it at 55 minutes and found mine to be too done, too…It probably could have come out at 52 minutes. I would actually recommend starting to check at 50 minutes.
March 21, 2013
Margaux says . . .
I’m really loving non-traditional pasta dishes like this with just a few ingredients tossed with some pasta. Probably like most Americans, I always assumed pasta came with meat sauce, marinara, or, if you’re feeling fancy, Alfredo…Jason and I survived on spaghetti marinara for the first few years we were together, living in our dinky little basement apartment in Lincoln Park. It was either that or Ramen noodles, and I really hate that stuff. So it’s been really fun the past several years, since I’ve become a stay-at-home mom/foodie cook, discovering all pasta has to offer.
This Martha Stewart recipe has been sitting in my files for a few years now, and I really wish I would have pulled it out sooner! The sweetness of the roasted cauliflower and onion coupled with the salty bite of the capers is really fantastic. This is in the “can’t stop eating it” category, for sure. We ate it as a main dish, with a green salad. For those of you keeping track, my little picky eater loved it, too!
Aunt Suzy says . . .
I’ve noticed lately that cauliflower seems to be the new kale. It’s everywhere! When I told Margaux that I wanted to make this cauliflower pasta recipe, she said she’d been intending to make this one from Martha. So we’ve made both and this is our first post. I’m not sure I know which is my favorite – I loved both. Look for a post on the other recipe soon. We served this as a side dish to a roasted chicken breast and served the leftovers as a main dish, both with a green salad. Yum either way!
1 large head cauliflower cut into small chunks (about 7 cups)
1 red onion, halved lengthwise and then cut into 1/4″ thick slices
1/4-1/3 cup capers, rinsed
1/4 cup olive oil
12 oz orecchiette pasta, whole wheat recommended
1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley
zest of 1 lemon, Meyer if available
1/3 cup grated Parmigiana Reggiano or Pecorino Romano
Preheat oven to 450. Toss the cauliflower, onion and capers with the olive oil in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Spread this mixture in a single layer on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring halfway through, until cauliflower is tender and brown, 25-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, and cook, al dente, according to package directions. Save 1/2 cup pasta water and then drain the pasta.
Turn the pasta back into the cooking pot or a large bowl. Toss the hot pasta with the roasted cauliflower mixture, 1/4 cup of the pasta water, the parsley and lemon zest. Stir until completely combined. Add more pasta water if too dry. Either add the cheese to the pot and stir to combine or pass the cheese to add to individual servings.
March 13, 2013
Aunt Suzy says . . .
I saw this recipe in a recent Bon Appetit and thought it fit right in to our Pasta Wednesday theme – easy, throw together quickly, healthy and delicious – even if it is hard to say! It reminded me of another no-cook pasta sauce we posted a couple of years ago that had a variety of nuts but basically the same approach. This recipe is a little less fancy, qualifying it for a perfect weeknight meal. I love cooking with mint and nuts which are ubiquitous ingredients in Sicilian cooking. (I must take a trip there one day.) The quantities listed made a lot of pesto so I had a chance to experiment with different pastas. I had it as a main dish on bow-tie pasta served with a salad. I served, as you see in the photo, as a side dish to salmon. While I liked it both ways, it’s very rich so I thought is was better as a side dish. An Italian white wine is a perfect match, even better if you can find one from Sicily where they are a little on the richer side.
1/2 pound pasta makes 3 main and 4 side servings
1 cup roasted pistachios, shelled
3/4 cup diced plum tomato (2 tomatoes)
1 large garlic clove or 2 small
a handful of fresh mint leaves
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
a handful of grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon EV olive oil
1/2-1 pound dried pasta, whole wheat recommended
Pulse the first 6 ingredients in a food processor until coarsely pureed. Turn into a bowl and add the olive oil. Stir until creamy, a bit like chunky peanut butter. Cook the pasta to al dente according to package directions. Before draining the pasta, reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water. Drain and rinse the pasta. Return to the pot and add 1/2 cup of the pesto per 1/2 pound pasta. Add a little of the pasta water and stir to blend thoroughly. Add enough of the pasta water to make a creamy sauce. Keep on the heat to heat through before serving.
NOTE: The pesto can be refrigerated and used at a later date or used as a sandwich spread.
March 11, 2013
My dad is the family cook. You can find him in the kitchen most of the time, especially when my brothers were teenagers…I remember him telling me once that he is constantly cooking something; the minute something is done, the vultures descend and gobble it up, and he just starts cooking the next thing. I probably learned the most about cooking from Dad.
He even comes to our house and cooks (nice boarded-up window in the background, huh? The pane just fell out one day and smashed everywhere. It’s fixed now.)
Like any good cook, he likes to test things over and over and perfect them. The first thing that I remember him doing this with was pumpkin pie. We ate pumpkin pie for months (well, it was probably weeks, but in my child-mind we were eating pie every night for a year), which is no problem for me because I love pumpkin pie, until he got his own recipe just right. Another time we were having all different kinds of stovetop macaroni and cheese…also no problem for me! This winter he’s been doing quick breads…you can pretty much always find a loaf somewhere in his kitchen right now. This one really stood out for me.
I love the texture and earthy flavor the whole wheat gives to this bread. It’s super moist and dense from the sweet potato and banana, and because of the oil you can refrigerate it without losing any of it’s texture. It’s really great plain, for breakfast or a snack, and extra super good drizzled with cream cheese glaze for a dessert.
Aunt Suzy says . . .
I hadn’t had this before Margaux made and posted it, but I love banana bread and thought the addition of sweet potato would be just that much better. I made it this morning and both Randy and I loved it! It’s not too sweet and, as Margaux has noted, has a great texture. It’s silky and the whole wheat flour gives a slight crunch. Delish! I will definitely put this in regular rotation for the occasional Sunday morning treat.
Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Banana Bread
1 cup white flour, sifted
1 cup whole wheat flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 small sweet potato, mashed
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 tablespoon butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease and flour (or use baking spray with flour) 9×5″ loaf pan (or two mini loaf pans like I used).
Sift together flours, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into a small bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, banana, sweet potato, yogurt, sugars and vanilla until completely combined. Add the oil and butter and mix until completely combined. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Fold in the chopped walnuts with a rubber spatula. Pour batter into prepared pan(s), bake for 45-55 minutes (I start checking at 45 minutes and kind of babysit it. It gets really dark and crispy on top, check it with a toothpick inserted in the center.) Place on cooling rack for 10 minutes, remove from pan and cool on rack completely.
AS Cook’s Notes: I used a 9×4 pan and it took 60 minutes in my oven. I also did not pre-sift the flours before sifting with other dry ingredients. I thought I would try this because it seems sifting is not found in many recipes these days, even though this defies everything I learned in 4H and from Mom/Granny. I learned recently from the Julia Child cookbook I just got that sifting isn’t necessary with today’s flours. I used pecans and added currants, which are standard additions in my banana bread recipe.
Cream Cheese Glaze
2 oz. cream cheese, softened
1-2 tablespoons milk
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
Beat the ingredients on medium-high speed with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add more milk if needed to desired consistency. Drizzle over cooled bread.
Any extra glaze can be stored in the freezer until next time you make the bread, or to use on something else. Or you can put way more glaze on your bread than I did!
March 5, 2013
Aunt Suzy says . . .
Today demanded soup, but I’m in the mood for spring now that it’s March. I would not say spring is around the corner here in Minnesota as you can see by this predawn photo, but enough winter already! So here’s a soup that’s, well . . .a soup, but with many ingredients that taste of spring. Perfect for a day like today! Both Randy and I thought we almost couldn’t get enough. He wanted me to make sure to say that, in his opinion, this must be made with homemade stock, feeling that boxed or canned would diminish the light spring-like quality we loved so much. He also had an initial bad reaction to the idea of lettuce in a soup, saying that it’s like putting walnuts on a salad. After a few spoonfuls of the soup, he said that he must like walnuts on salad – hehe. So don’t be put off by the cooked romaine lettuce – it adds a light crunch and lovely vegetal flavor. Enjoy with a lemony Pinot Grigio and a baguette!
This recipe was inspired by one that I saw in a Food 52 email yesterday, but is highly adapted in both method and ingredients. Serves 8 (or 6 hearty eaters)
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 scallions, white and green separated and sliced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small zucchini, small dice
1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and ground black pepper
9 cups chicken stock
1 small can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
zest of 1 lemon, Meyer if available
1 1/2-2 cups cooked green beans, cut in 2-inch pieces
2 cups cooked shredded chicken
1/4 cup each fresh mint and fresh parsley, chopped (or more to taste)
1 1/2-2 cups cooked green beans
2 cups dried pasta, small shapes (I used gemelli)
2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Heat oil over medium heat in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. When shimmering, add the white part of the scallions and the celery. Cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes until softened. Add the garlic zucchini, salt and pepper and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring. Add the chicken stock and chickpeas and simmer for about 10 minutes to blend flavors.
Meanwhile, cook pasta al dente according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Add the chicken, green beans, herbs and lemon zest to the soup pot and simmer till heated through, about 5 minutes. Be careful not to over-stir.
Right before serving, stir in the lettuce and lemon juice. Cook until heated through, about 2-3 minutes.
To serve, place a handful of cooked pasta into the bottom of a soup bowl. Ladle the soup into the bowl over the pasta. Garnish with a few slices of the green part of the scallions (and a few red pepper flakes if desired).