Sunday, May 31, 2020

White Pizza with Mushrooms and Parsley Pesto

During this Shelter in Place I have much to be thankful for: I have a job I go to everyday, I do not have to homeschool my children, I have no children at home, and I am healthy. But for those of you at home, particularly with kids, this is for you.

If you are running out of ideas of what to feed your family and your kids in particular, try the white pizza. It is a chance to sneak some vegetables into your meals (pesto made from spinach!) and if you have dough - admit it, you've been experimenting with sourdough because what else have you got but time - this comes together in a snap. You can even cheat and buy premade dough (I did!) The "white" part can be as simple as just mozzarella or use up leftovers like sour cream or cottage cheese that is about to turn; pureed together and you have a "sauce" for your white pizza, which is what I did with the addition of some feta, yum!

For those of you without finicky eaters, get creative and make parsley pesto to add more greens and iron to your diet in a tasty way. Keeping the white sauce, I just dabbed the parsley pesto around the pizza since mushrooms, garlic and parsley are a match made in heaven. You know your eaters, make them happy!

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Cucina Povera - Peasant Food - A New Series

Whenever young people ask me how I learned to cook, my response is, "Poverty is the best teacher." True story. I became a serious cook in graduate school when I was receiving Food Stamps.

In Indiana in 1995 the maximum amount a single person could receive was $100 a month. It didn't last the month, and quickly I learned that a 5 lb bag of flour and some yeast cost so much less that buying bread. So I began to make my own bread, and my own quiche crust, and pasta, and the list goes on.

Later I discovered the term "Cucina Povera" which in Italian means "Poor cooking," referring to how people with little learn to stretch meals and still make them taste good. That resonated with me since it was what I termed "Peasant Food" which I loved best: quiche from France, pasta from Italy, quesadillas from Mexico, dal from India, sushi (with tofu) from Japan, fried rice from China (ok, so fried rice is sooo Chinese American, but I didn't know at the time!)

Because meat was beyond my budget and tofu was cheap, I became a vegetarian. Vegetarian cookbooks from the '70s were big on whole grains and not so great on flavor, so I learned to vegetarianize meat dishes to satisfy my need for tasty food. And along the way I became a pretty good cook.

So when people ask me, "But HOW did you learn to cook?" I tell them by doing it for years. To help nudge new cooks into cooking more I'm starting Cucina Povera: simple preparations, inexpensive ingredients, tasty food. The ingredients should become staples in your pantry so that a quick meal is always just a cupboard a way. That's Cucina Povera in a nutshell!

While most new cooks know about pasta and red sauce, here's something to change it up for you:  - rice noodles with soy sauce, garlic, ginger and mirin (rice wine, key ingredient in sushi rice). You can add scallions or tofu or whatever floats your boat. But this is a nice change from Italian style pasta!

Fried Rice Stick Noodles with Garlic


Sunday, December 1, 2019

Pumpkin Pancakes with Balsamic Cream

Years ago a friend had a life transforming meal that included pumpkin ravioli in balsamic cream sauce. She gushed about it and begged me to attempt it, which I did, and it was good. Supremely good. Since then, I've made pumpkin ravioli a few times, but it is time consuming. However, I started thinking that "Winter Squash Pancakes" from Smitten Kitchen would benefit from the Balsamic Cream treatment. Yes, yes it did!

Now pancakes usually means breakfast or brunch, but don't be afraid to bring this deliciousness out for dinner, it works then as well.

I followed this recipe to a T, except that I super cheated and used pumpkin puree in a can, and that made this a super quick as well as delicious dinner. Feel free to bake up or use leftover cooked winter squash to make these pancakes; undoubtedly they will be delicious because balsamic cream sauce is king!

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Blackened Tofu with Remoulade

Blackened catfish is a classic Southern dish and one best eaten with fried green tomatoes or popcorn okra! If you have never had either of those, look to this space in the future, which will most certainly feature both once their season arrives! But in the meantime, give this recipe a chance. 

Blackening spice recipes vary on the cook’s preference - some leave out the ginger
or cumin - and what you find in stores will certainly be less potent that your own prepared mix. Either way, this is a quick and tasty dinner that will look gourmet but is so simple to prepare! I like to serve it with some pan fried veggies - that’s romanesco in the photo. But coleslaw or a green salad is great as well, a cooling accompaniment that balances out all of the heat!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Mushroom Rye Casserole

I won't lie. This is one of those be-inspired-by-a-recipe-but-substitute-what-I-had and those don't usually turn out so well. This is the exception that proves the point!

The basic ingredients of cottage cheese, sour cream and mushrooms were sitting in the frig, but no rice and no parmesan. But there were rye berries and emmentaler, so substitutions were made. And it was amazing!

Personally, the rye berries really made this dish: chewy and nutty, more flavorful than rice. Sold! Also, with tons of cheese sitting in the cheese drawer, some was going in no matter what was in the recipe. The nuttiness of the emmentaler paired nicely with the rye and the mushrooms. Definitely a winner that will be making an appearance again!

Although the photo is less than appetizing (hello winter light!), trust me that the dish must be worth it for me to publish a post on it with such a photo.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Spelt Everything Bagels

Ahh bagels, one of my true loves. But since eating wheat is soooo bad for me, spelt becomes my saving grace. These were easier and less time consuming than you would think, and you can customize the "everything" topping - no more poppy seeds in between my teeth!

I prefer my bagels chewy, so this recipe works perfectly; boil for 2 minutes per side and you get a great crumb and excellent chew factor! Of course I couldn't resist eating one nearly straight out of the oven, and it was amazing!

This time around I halved the recipe, fearful of having 8 bagels waiting for me to devour them in a single day, er week. But the full recipe would probably make 6 good size ones, a week's supply.