Sunday, October 26, 2014

Wild Mushroom Marinara with Strozzapreti

Mushrooms have been landing on our plates quite a bit lately, in part because they come to us free but also because their substantial texture is great for vegetarian fare. This marinara is a great example.

My beau's youngest daughter loves her marinara sauce and it was actually her idea originally to mix mushrooms with green olives, something that really wouldn't have occurred to me. But what deliciousness! I added the capers for a little more briny flavor and a pinch of red pepper flakes since any marinara usually can benefit from a little zip!

Like most homemade tomato sauces, this one comes together super fast and if you can make it with fresh pasta it almost feels like a treat! Lucky us we have a shop here in Arcata that sells fresh, organic pasta for only $6 a pound - such decadence! We usually get fettucine or linguine, but for this chunkier sauce the strozzapreti was just the shape, holding the sauce and the mushrooms in its slight waves. Any other corkscrew shape would work well too.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Waldorf Salad for the 21st Century

I love cabbage. Really. Green, red, I love it all. My mom used to pack wedges of it in my high school lunches and I ate it without shame, despite the heckling. My current family is slowly warming to my cabbage love, but making salad like this one certainly speed the process!

Waldorf is one of those salads that got stuck in the time-warp of the 1970s - thick mayonnaise dressing with lots of sweetness that often made it cloying and reverse mouth-puckering for me - too sweet! It was an attempt to make fruits and vegetables more palatable by adding, of course, more sugar. Here I've toned it all done with a honey mustard vinaigrette (hey, it's vegan!) and added the cabbage for a little more veggie heft. The raisins didn't make it to the party simply because they weren't in the pantry and sometimes (often!) I'm lazy. But feel free to add them in if you like or any other dried fruit of that size - blueberries, cherries, cranberries - all would work well.

It's apple season in much of the Western Hemisphere so when you're tired of eating them plain as a snack, make this updated Waldorf salad with those delicious, crisp and juicy apples. Your taste buds (and diners) will thank you!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Homemade Sushi Rolls

Sushi is something that can seem exotic or everyday, depending on your approach. Once you know how to make the rice for sushi, it can be an everyday meal that makes the whole family happy, especially when everyone gets to make their own roll with the ingredients they want!

My beau and his daughter introduced me to a few new ingredients which have rocked my sushi world: cream cheese and umeboshi plum paste. Wow! Totally untraditional but super delicious is to had a few dabs of cream cheese and then spread a thin layer of umeboshi plum paste on it before adding other veggies or smoked salmon. The texture and flavor combination works supremely well.

In this version I do not mess around with raw fish; we just stuck to smoked salmon and marinated tofu. But if you want to venture into raw fish land, have at it!

While you don't have to have a sushi mat, it does make a firmer, more compact roll. I lived without it for years but since my home now has one, it's fun to make rolls with the mat.

Remember that this ingredient list is all optional, use whatever veggies you like!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Chickpea Nuggets with Dipping Sauces

I have raved about Post Punk Kitchen's chickpea patties before, but making them as nuggets is kind of a stoke of genius, if I do say so myself!

Talk about kid friendly, and healthy to boot, and easy to pull out of the freezer and heat up. That makes these parents friendly too, a regular dinner helper for sure!

This is admittedly a cheater blog post since it's not my recipe and it's just served with whatever sauces you prefer. Here I've used my favorite homemade BBQ sauce and Ranch dressing. But ketchup and honey mustard sauces would also be great.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Palak Paneer

Palak Paneer was probably the first Indian dish I ever ate, eons ago at some long-forgotten Indian restaurant, maybe in Washington, D.C. but the actually site and name were never captured by my brain. What was captured was the silky deliciousness of creamed spinach, Indian style. It seemed as if the spices were other-worldly, the combination so foreign and yet incredibly comforting. Where had this cuisine been all of my life? I was hooked! (Paneer was a whole other revelation on it own.)

Over the years since that first taste, palak paneer was usually my first choice when dining at Indian places and later the first Indian dish I tried to recreate on my own. I posted about it here but this updated version with some addition spices is so much flavorful it was worth a new post. Also, in the past I didn't even bother trying to find paneer in a grocery store and used tofu instead. Much to my chagrin I never tried to make it until recently. Those days are done for good since making it at home is so simple! Now I have to restrain myself from making it allllll the time!

Incidentally, Saag Paneer is just like palak paneer, only saag is "greens" and palak means spinach. But I call it palak no matter what I make it with since it's what is better known and my diners don't seem to notice the difference.

And yes, in case you were wondering, that is homemade naan in the top of the photo, which will be in a forthcoming post; it just felt like too much to add to this one, which already is a fairly long recipe. Something to look forward to!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Moroccan Spiced Pan Fried Yams

My beau looooooves potatoes. Mashed, fried, boiled, you name it, he wants it. Usually it is russets or red skinned or Yukon golds or even Peruvian purple. And once in a while, he'll go for some sweets as well.

Actually, when they are that bright orange color as exhibited above, they are yams, but Americans have been duped into believing those are sweet potatoes, so we will just let that sleeping dog lie (no pun intended!)

Here, those really orange sweetish, potato looking yams are tossed with a finishing oil of garlickly lemon and spicy goodness from a Moroccan inspiration based on this recipe. But feel free to play around with it yourself, making it spicier if you prefer or adding in some minced mint, cilantro or even basil.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Classic Fettucine Alfredo

There are some pasta dishes that have been sullied by their grocery store convenience, and Alfredo is one of them. Every time I spy a jar version, my cringe reflex goes into stutter mode. Ignore the bottled stuff and make this version, which will be ready just as fast as it takes to heat up a store bought jar sauce!

Although I have no proof, it seems to me that this must be the inspiration for mac and cheese - a white sauce with lots of cheese added. The difference being with Alfredo is that it can be made in the amount of time it takes for the pasta to boil. Now that's a quick dinner!

Do not skimp on the cream, get the heavy whipping cream! This is comfort food at its finest and fastest, so just indulge and enjoy!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pan Fried Zucchini, Indian Style - Zucchini Besan Sabji

Besan, chickpea flour, is one of my favorite ingredients. It does what flour does without the gluten and more flavor! I love it as a pancake and it's what makes pakoras so delightfully crunchy. Here it's used to create a delicious coating for zucchini.

While some of you readers may be in the land of early frost (hello Minnesota!), others may be enjoying an extended harvest and we all know how zucchini becomes really tiresome by now! So toss it with some chickpea flour and spices and pan fry it up into so crunchy delicious that your diners will love!