Spiced Lentil Soup

Spiced Lentil Soup

Spiced Lentil Soup

Dedicated to my fellow parishioners at the Episcopal Church of St. Luke in the Fields, Greenwich Village, NYC

IngredientsVegan
7 cups Vegetable Broth
2 cups Red Lentils, dry, rinsed
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 cups Sweet Yellow Onion, diced
2 cups crushed Tomatoes
1/2 cup flat-leaf Parsley, chopped fine
1 cup Celery, diced
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp ground Cumin
1 tsp Zaatar
1/2 tsp Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp ground Marjoram
1/2 tsp ground Coriander Seed
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1/4 tsp ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Lemon Zest
1/4 tsp Salt

Lemon wedges

Directions:

  • In a gallon size pot on medium heat, combine the Onion, Salt, Pepper, and Olive Oil; cook until the onions softens.
  • Add the Garlic, Lemon Zest, Lemon Juice, and Celery. Continue to saute until the Celery starts to soften.
  • Add all the other spices, and mix well so that the spices get into the oil and juices in the pot.
  • Add the Tomato, Vegetable Broth, and Lentils; bring to a boil, stirring often so that nothing sticks.
  • Reduce to a simmer, add the Parsley, and let cook until the Lentils become tender.
  • Taste, and adjust the seasoning and spices to your preferred tastes.
  • Garnish with a Lemon Wedge. Squirt the juice on the Soup.

Makes about 6 servings

NOTES:Lentil Soup is eaten in various parts of the world. This recipe utilizes spices from Northern Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. Zaatar a spice blend used in North Africa, especially Egypt and Libya, often added to meats or rubbed in olive oil on flat bread. It is made up of Sumac, Oregano, Sesame Seed, often with other spices.

Lentil soup can be modified to your prefered tastes and needs. You can add chopped spinach or kale, or diced carrots or sweet potatoes. Keep in mind if you add additional starches, you may need to add additional spices. This meal is vegan, however one can add meat like chicken or lamb to it–or even sausage. It is also common to garnish with sour cream or yogurt.

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Baked Mahi Mahi with a Bruschetta Topping

Baked Mahi Mahi with a Bruschetta Topping

Ingredients:
4 10-12 oz Fillets Mahi Mahi, skin-on
Salt and Pepper to Taste
2 Tbsp Butter, divided
Olive Oil just a drizzle

Bruschetta Topping
6-8 Plum Tomatoes
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 yellow Onion, minced
1 Tbsp Capers, minced
1 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tbsp Olive Oil, divided
2-3 Tbsp fresh Basil, chopped fine
1 Tbsp fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley, chopped fine
Salt & Pepper to taste
Water for Parboiling

Directions:

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil on your stove. There should be enough room for the Tomatoes, but they should not yet be put in the pot.
  • Remove from the heat, and place the tomatoes in the hot water for 1 minute.
  • Using tongs, remove the Tomatoes.
  • Carefully remove the skin with a knife; and then cut in half and remove the seeds and juice.
  • Dice the Tomatoes and set to the side in a large bowl.
  • Add the minced Garlic, Onion, Capers, Balsamic Vinegar, Herbs, 1 Tbsp of Olive Oil, and Salt and Pepper to taste; Stir well, and leave to marinate. Chill.
  • Preheat the Oven to 425°F.
  • Drizzle a little Olive Oil on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet.
  • Place the Mahi Mahi skin-side down, and sprinkle with Salt (liberally) and Pepper.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, or until the fish is flaky.
  • Dab each Fish with 1/2 Tbsp of Butter,  and continue to cook for 5 minutes.
  • Use a spatula and to remove the fish and plate.
  • Taking a large spoon, divide the Bruschetta among the four fillets. I recommend draining as much liquid as you can from each spoonful.

Makes: 4 servings.

NOTES: Mahi Mahi is the Hawaiian name for the Dolphinfish, meaning “very strong”. It is a mild fish, similar to a tuna in texture, though the filet is white and usually sold skin-on. Though I’m using a Hawaiian/Caribbean fish, this dish is more of a fusion dish that I came up with when I read somewhere that tomatoes bring out the flavor of the fish.

You may also choose to try this Grilled.  I recommend if you do that, to keep the high heat, but to wrap the fish in aluminum foil or cook it on a closed grill.  Grilling would also provide some smoky flavors to the fish which are amazing!

Grilled Vegetable Salad

Grilled Vegetable Salad

Ingredients:
1 bunch Asparagus, cleaned
1 Red Onion, cut in rings
1 Red Bell Pepper, slice each side off
4 oz Halloumi Cheese χαλούμι
1-2 tsp Olive Oil
1/2 cup Cherry Tomatoes, Sliced
1 Avocado, diced
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/2 tsp Honey
1-2 tsp Sesame Seeds

Directions:

  • Using a brush, lightly cover the grilling grates, Asparagus, Bell Pepper, Onion, and Halloumi.
  • Prepare the Grill or Broiler as directed by manufacturer–you want medium high heat.
  • Place the Asparagus, Bell Pepper, and Halloumi on the grates and cover with the Onions and sprinkle with the Salt and Pepper. I suggest using an oven-safe cooling rack and placing it on top of the grate. If you use the cooling rack, it is easier to pick everything up in the end.
  • Close and grill for 5-7 minutes or until the onions and Halloumi begin to get a nice golden brown on the outside.
  • Remove and combine with the rest of the Vegetables in a large bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the Lemon Juice, Olive Oil, Honey, and Dijon Mustard.
  • Drizzle over the Vegetables, sprinkle with Sesame Seeds, and Toss.

Makes about 6-8 servings.

NOTES: This is an ideal summer salad–full of fresh ingredients, tons of grilled flavor, and yet light, sweet, and citrusy. You can substitute Zucchini or Broccoli or just add them to the lot. I do not recommend grilling the Tomatoes, as they tend to fall apart Halloumi is a Cypriot/Middle Eastern cheese that is very dense, mildly salty, and can be GRILLED! It is a great addition to this dish, and complements the Asparagus and Sesame Seeds amazingly.

Paella de Quinua – Quinoa Paella with Chicken and Shrimp

Paella de Quinua

Ingredients:
1 lb Shrimp, shelled, de-veined
6 Chicken thighs, skinless, boneless
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper (to taste)
1 Yellow Onion, diced
1 Bell Pepper, diced
2 Jalapeños, minced
5 cloves Garlic, cut in slivers
2 Chorizo links, diced
1 Tbsp Paprika
2 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Saffron
2 tsp fresh Thyme
1 tsp fresh Rosemary, chopped fine
2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
2 cups Chicken Broth
1 1/2 cups Albariño or other white wine
2 cups Quinoa
1 Tbsp Capers
1/2 cup Cilantro, chopped

Directions

  • In a large skillet or (if you have one) paellera, heat up the Olive Oil on medium heat.
  • Liberally coat the chicken in Salt and Pepper and place into the hot oil. Cook both sides until golden. Remove to a plate and set aside.
  • Add the Onion, Peppers, Garlic, Shrimp, Chorizo, Herbs, Spices, and Tomato Paste to the pan. Stir well and cook till the Shrimp turn bright pink.
  • Add the Wine, Chicken Broth, Quinoa, and Capers. Reduce heat to low. Add the Chicken pieces back to the pan.
  • Cook for 10 minutes or until the Quinoa is finished cooking, adding water if needed. Quinoa forms a translucent outer casing when it is cooked well. Covering will help increase the cooking speed.
  • When the liquid has dissolved and the Quinoa has finished cooking, remove from the heat and toss in the Cilantro and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

NOTES: Paella is a traditional Valencian rice dish often with various types of seafood and or meat. Paprika, Saffron, and Chorizo are common ingredients added to the rice for flavor. Quinoa, is a grain from the Andes in South America. It has a similar consistency to Couscous, and can be used in many dishes in place of rice–though it is not a long grain. I thought it would be fun to try Paella with Quinoa–something I am sure is not a new idea, but not one I have seen that often. I chose Chicken and Shrimp, however you can add Mussels, Clams, Lobster, and/or Pork tenderloin to make it your own.

Ratatouille Niçoise Rustique

Ratatouille Niçoise Rustique

Ingredients:
3-4 Tomatoes, ripe
1 lg Zucchini, diced
1 Japanese Eggplant, diced
1 – 2 Bell Peppers
1 medium Yellow Onion, diced
5 cloves Garlic, sliced
2-3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 sprig fresh Rosemary
2 sprigs fresh Thyme
2 tsp fresh Basil, chopped fine
2 tsp fresh Parsley, chopped fine
1 Bay Leaf
1/4 cup Pinot Grigio or other Dry white wine.
1 Tbsp Salt
Pepper to taste
Water for Parboiling

Directions:

  • Bring a Pot of water to a boil. This will be used to help remove the skins from the Tomatoes.
  • While the water is being brought to a boil, prepare all the vegetables. When dicing, try to keep the sizes of the items the same.
  • When the water boils, use tongs, to place the Tomatoes into the water for 45 seconds. Remove them and peel the skins off. Be careful as they will be hot.
  • Slice the Tomatoes horizontally and scoop out the seeds. Remove the stem from the top half by cutting it out with a paring knife.
  • In a Dutch Oven, add the Onions, Garlic, and Bell Peppers to 1/2 the Olive Oil and 1/2 the Salt.
  • Saute on medium heat, sweating the onions, and cooking down the Peppers for 2-3 minutes.
  • In a separate skillet, add the Zucchini and Eggplant to the remaining Olive Oil and Salt.
  • Saute on medium-low heat, allowing the sides of the Zucchini and Eggplant to brown a little–about 3-6 minutes.
  • Stir both pots often so as to not allow anything to burn.
  • Add the Tomatoes and herbs to the Onion Pepper mixture and cook until the Zucchini and Eggplant in the other pot are lightly browned.
  • Add the Zucchini and Eggplant to the Tomato Mixture.
  • Add the Wine at this point, and mix well.
  • Let stew on the lowest setting, covered for 30-40 minutes, stirring often, to make sure nothing is sticking. Remove the Bay Leaf and Sprigs of Herbs before serving.

Makes 4 side-dish servings.

NOTES: Ratatouille is a Provencal dish–often called a peasant dish because of the simple ingredients. In the 1970s it became popular in America thanks to Julia Childs. There was a resurgence in the first decade of the 21st century with Disney’s Ratatouille, a film about a French rat who dreams of becoming a chef–and succeeds! I will admit, that my desire to make this came solely from the movie–yes I hold my head in shame. One aspect of the movie does ring true, and spoke to me, and that was the common mantra that “Anyone Can Cook”. And I think that is VERY important to remember.

Looking at the Ratatouille recipes that were out there, I noticed that their production suggested the individual cooking of each vegetable–something that just seems counter-intuitive to a “peasant” dish, but rather a chef’s way to keep individual flavors and deal with varying cooking times. My version uses two cooking dishes, dividing up the items based on how I thought it would be best to cook them.

This serves as a side dish but can also be served over Rice or Pasta as an entree.  I prefer it as a side dish with a good roast.

Salsiccia Dolce con Peperoni e Cipolle – Sweet Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions

Salsiccia Dolce con Peperoni e Cipolle

Ingredients:
6-8 links of Sweet Italian Sausage
1 Red Bell Pepper, sliced in strips
1-2 Peperoncini or Banana Peppers, sliced in strips
1 Yellow Onion, cut in wedges
2 cups Plum Tomatoes, diced
4-6 cloves Garlic, sliced
1/2 cup Water
1/2 cup Pinot Grigio or other dry white wine
1/2 tsp dried Oregano
1/2 tsp dried Thyme
1/2 tsp dried Basil
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
Parmesan, shaved for garnish.

Directions:

  • Poke the Sausage with a fork one or two times.
  • Place the Sausage in a skillet on medium heat with the Water, and cook for 10-15 minutes. Only flip the Sausage once or twice. You are basically poaching the Sausage, but by the time it is cooked, the water will have evaporated.
  • Remove the Sausage to a broiling pan, and place in the Broiler.
  • De-glaze the Skillet with the White Wine.
  • Add the Peppers, Onions, Garlic, Tomatoes and Herbs to the Skillet.
  • Heat through, stirring often so that nothing sticks or browns; about 5 minutes.
  • Check on the Sausage, and flip so that both sides get broiled.
  • Continue heating the Onions and Peppers for about 2-3 more minutes. If the skillet is small, and thus the mixture very deep, you should cover and let the steam help cook the Onions and Peppers.
  • Plate the Onions and Peppers on a platter, and then arrange the Sausage on top. Serve the Parmesan on the side.

Makes 6-8 Sausages

NOTES: This dish is great by itself or divided into Hoagies. You can use Salsiccia Piccante (Spicy Italian Sausage) if you prefer. Additionally, you may choose to top with Mozzarella, though I think the crunchy nutty flavor of the Parmesan can’t be beat. You can also do the Sausages on the Grill. If you do this, you can cook the Peppers and Onions in the Skillet starting with the adding of the Wine.

Tabbouleh – تبولة

Ingredients:
1 cup Bulgur Wheat
2 cups Boiling Water
3 Plum Tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 Cucumbers, peeled and diced
3 Green Onions, diced fine
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 cup fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley, chopped
1/3 cup fresh Mint, chopped
1 tsp Cumin, ground
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper, ground
1/2 cup Lemon Juice
2/3 cup Olive Oil

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, soak the Bulgur Wheat and Boiling Water for 30 minutes.
  • Using a cheese cloth, squeeze out any excess liquid from the Bulgur Wheat.
  • Return to a bowl and combine all ingredients. Mix well.

NOTES: Tabbouleh was another New York discovery for me – not having ever experienced it in Georgia or Ohio. I fell in love with it. It is light and fluffy and highly flavorful. Thanks to my love Michael for introducing it to me.

Salade Niçoise à l’Américaine – Niçoise Salad (American Style)

Ingredients:
4 Tuna Fillets (about 6 oz each)
1/2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Sea Salt, or coarse Kosher
1/2 tsp Black Pepper, ground
12 baby Red Pontiac Potatoes
1 Roasted Red Bell Pepper
4-6 oz Green Beans, trimmed
4 Eggs
Water for boiling
1/3-1/2 lb Butterhead Lettuce
1/2 cup Fresh Basil
2 Tbsp Fresh Thyme
1/4 cup Fresh Mint
4 Plum Tomatoes, Quartered
2 Tbsp Capers
12 Niçoise Olives
4-8 Anchovies (optional)
1 cup Niçoise Vinaigrette

Directions:

  • Prepare the Tuna:
    • Heat a skillet on medium heat with 1/2 Tbsp of the Olive Oil.
    • Cut the Tuna into 2″ x 1″ strips.
    • Rub with the Salt and Pepper.
    • Place the Tuna in the pan, and sear each of the four long sides, watching the small sides to make an even searing to desired done-ness.
    • Set in the Refrigerator.
  • Place the Eggs in a pot and cover with water.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Turn off the heat and let sit for 12-15 minutes.
  • Remove and run under cold water, and peel the eggs; in the Refrigerator.
  • Return the Water to a boil.
  • Add the Potatoes and the Green Beans
  • Cook for 4 minutes, until the Green Beans turn bright Green.
  • Remove the Beans first, using tongs, and then the Potatoes.
  • Run both under cold water and set in the Refrigerator.
  • Give all the ingredients at least 20 minutes to cool.
  • Prepare wide bowls or salad plates for plating by dividing the Lettuce evenly.
  • Tear the Basil and Mint, and divide with the Thyme among the salad plates.
  • Quarter the Tomatoes, Potatoes, and Eggs.
  • Decoratively divide the Tomatoes, Potatoes, Eggs, and Green Beans among the salad plates. Usually this salad is deconstructed with the different items in piles next to each other on the Lettuce.
  • Slice the Tuna pieces perpendicular to the seared sides, in 1/4″ slices, and add to the Salad.
  • Add the Capers and Anchovies, and drizzle the Vinaigrette over it.

Serves 4

NOTES: Despite being what one would commonly find in most restaurants and diners in America and what Julia Child’s recipe calls Salade Niçoise, it is strikingly different from a true Salade Niçoise from Nice, France or the Côte d’Azur. Most noteworthy is the use of Blanched Potatoes and Green Beans–something not commonly used in the French namesake. Additionally, Mescaline salad would be used, and other items like Artichokes would be present. Still this is the version most Americans will know and recognize, and I find it tasty (without the Anchovies, which I have not yet come to like).  OH I should also mention that many of the French recipes  use Canned Tuna–I can only assume theirs is not “Chicken of the Sea”, though I’ve seen some marinated vacuum-sealed Tuna that may serve the purpose–and Lord know’s most diners use canned.

This salad, is often served as an Entrée, in a similar manner to the Cobb Salad.

I do have to share what Julia Child says about this sald in her book Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom:

Of all main-course salads, the Niçoise is my all-time favorite, with its fresh butter-lettuce foundation; its carefully cooked, beautifully green green beans; its colorful contrast of halved hard-boiled eggs, ripe red tomatoes, and black olives; all fortified by chunks of tunafish and freshly opened anchovies. It’s a perfect luncheon dish, to my mind, winter, summer, spring, and fall — an inspired combination that pleases everyone.

Antipasto di Pomodoro e Pesto – Tomato & Pesto Canapés

Antipasto di Pomodoro e Pesto

Ingredients:
5 Plum Tomatoes
4 slices Prosciutto
5 slices Provolone
6 Tbsp Basil Pesto

Directions:

  • Prepare the Tomatoes: Stand the Plum Tomatoes up, stem-side down. You will be “shaving” off the sides of the tomatoes–think 4 sides per Tomato. Using a sharp serrated knife, slice off each of the four sides with a gentle sawing motion. The pieces will look like little boats. Remove any seeds and membrane. Set to the side.
  • Prepare the Prosciutto: Do this to each Prosciutto individually. Lay each slice flat–the slices are generally rectangular in shape. You want to cut each piece into 5 smaller pieces. Set to the Side.
  • Prepare the Provolone: Cut each slice into quarters.
  • Plate the Tomatoes, inside facing up like a bowl.
  • Place a piece of Prosciutto into each “bowl”. I recommend rolling the small pieces and placing them into the Tomato neatly.
  • Place a piece of Provolone on top of the Prosciutto. It will extend over the edges of the Tomato.
  • Using two teaspoons, shape oblong dollops of Pesto. Place the dollop on the top, center of the Provolone, in the same direction as the Tomato slice.

Makes 20 pieces.

NOTES: The tongue-shaped slice of the plum Tomatoes make them perfect to fit in the mouth. The salty prosciutto, creamy sharp provolone, and basil pesto are amazing. I came up with this wanting to use up some left over tomatoes and pesto from another recipe. This is simple, and quick, and like I said, very flavorful.

Bruschetta al Pomodoro – Tomato Bruschetta

Ingredients:
1 Baguette
1/4 cup Parmesan
6-8 Plum Tomatoes
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1-2 cloves Garlic, whole
1 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp Olive Oil, divided
2-3 Tbsp fresh Basil, chopped fine
1 Tbsp fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley, chopped fine
Salt & Pepper to taste
Water for Parboiling

Directions:

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil on your stove. There should be enough room for the tomatoes, but they should not yet be put in the pot.
  • Remove from the heat, and place the tomatoes in the hot water for 1 minute.
  • Using tongs, remove the tomatoes.
  • Carefully remove the skin with a knife; and then cut in half and remove the seeds and juice.
  • Dice the Tomatoes and set to the side in a large bowl.
  • Add the minced Garlic, Balsamic Vinegar, Herbs, 1 Tbsp of Olive Oil, and Salt and Pepper to taste; Stir well, and leave to marinate.
  • Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  • Slice the Baguette into 1/4″ thick rounds, on a diagonal.
  • Using a pastry Brush, liberally brush on the 1/2 cup of Olive Oil. You may need more or less, depending on the baguettes.
  • Place in the oven and toast for about 5 minutes, or until the the bread begins to turn golden.
  • Remove the croutes from the oven, and while warm, rub the whole garlic over the tops of them.
  • Sprinkle liberally with the Parmesan. You may use less or more, depending on the size of the croutes.
  • When ready to serve, spoon the Tomato topping onto the croutes.

Serves about 10 as an appetizer.

NOTES: You can use bigger bread pieces and serve this as a salad or meal. With regards to serving as an appetizer, you can also choose to leave the tomatoes in a bowl with a spoon, and arrange the Parmesan croutes on a tray, and allow the guests to top their own. Bruschetta is a central Italian food, that consists of grilled bread with Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper, and other toppings like Prosciutto or grilled vegetables. I prefer the traditional tomato-basil relish, myself. This used to be my favorite appetizer when we would go to Italian restaurants–a special occasion as they were always expensive in Georgia. Who knew the food was so inexpensive and EASY to make!

Variations:
Ṽ›Ɣ – Use a Vegan bread and omit the Parmesan.

Bresaola Salad

Ingredients:
8 oz Bresaola, chilled
4 oz Parmesan (block)
8 cups Arugula
1 cup Flat-Leaf Parsley
8 Figs, quartered
1/2 cup Cherry Tomatoes
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for drizzling)
Balsamic Vinegar (for drizzling)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Lemon, cut in quarters

Directions:

  • Arrange the Bresaola on a platter or on individual plates (this serves 4). You will be making the salad in the middle of the plate, and will want the Bresaola to extend beyond the Salad like a border. If you are using small plates, the pieces should cover the entire area. If you are using a large plate, try to cover the entire area, but focus on the outer edge. Make it look decorative and pretty.
  • Mix together the Parsley and the Arugula.
  • Place the Arugula/Parsley in the center of the plate on top of the Bresaola, utilizing it as a border.
  • Place the Figs and Cherry Tomatoes decoratively among the Arugula.
  • Using a Cheese shaver, or a vegetable peeler, slice curls of Parmesan and place on top of the Arugula.
  • When ready to serve, sprinkle with Salt and Pepper, and drizzle with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar.
  • Serve the wedges on the side of the Salad, and instruct the diner to squeeze the Lemon over the salad, just before consuming.

Serves 4

NOTES: Bresaola is one of the treats that I ran into when moving to New York. I had been aware of Prosciutto in Georgia, but had never seen Bresaola. They are very similar, only that Bresaola is an air-dried beef tenderloin. Its origins are in northern Italy near Lombardy. I simply love it!

Bresaola Crostini
Ingredients:
1 loaf Ciabatta
8 oz Bresaola
4 oz Parmesan
4 cups Arugula
1/2 cup Flat-Leaf Parsley
6-8 Figs, quartered
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Slice the Ciabatta into 1/4″ slices. You may choose to slice each slice in half, so that they are bite-size pieces.
  • Arrange the slices on a Baking Sheet.
  • Using a pastry brush, brush on Olive Oil on both sides.
  • Bake for about 7 minutes, or until golden brown.
  • Let the Crostini cool completely.
  • Arrange the Bresaola on the Crostini. You may fold the pieces, but do not want any hanging off the crostini too far.
  • Using a Vegetable Peeler, shave a slice of Parmesan and place it on top of the Bresaola.
  • Next, top with the Arugula, not putting too much.
  • Place a quarter of Fig on top of the Arugula, and drizzle with the Balsamic Vinegar, and a little more Olive Oil.

NOTES: This is a flavorful appetizer that takes the Bresaola Salad from the dinner plate to your hand.

Salade Andalouse aux Crevettes – Andalusian Salad with Shrimp

Ingredients:
1 cup Rice, cooked
8 large Shrimp, veined, steamed, cold, chopped
6-8 Pimento-Stuffed Olives, sliced
2 Plum Tomatoes, chopped
2-4 Tbsp Mayonnaise
1/2 tsp Paprika
1 clove Garlic, minced
1 tsp Chives, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste
Butterhead Lettuce for Plating
Fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley for Garnish

Directions:

  • In a bowl, combine the Mayonnaise, Paprika, Garlic, and Chives.
  • In a large bowl, combine the Rice, Shrimp, and Olives.
  • Mix in the Mayonnaise.
  • Line the Salad Plates with Bib Lettuce.
  • Divide the mixture into 4 portions (this dish makes 4 portions, so if you have made more or less, divide the mixture into the appropriate portions.
  • Spoon the Portions on top of the Bib Lettuce. You can use pastry rings or a plastic lined ramekin stuffed with the portion of the salad inverted over the plate to make a fancier salad as well.
  • Top the Salad with pieces of Tomato, a Salt and Pepper to taste, and Fresh Parsley.

Makes 4 servings.

NOTES: Andalusian Salad is a French Salad that captures the romantic flavors of of Al-Andalus (الأندلس‎) region of Spain and Portugal. You can always kick up the spice by adding some Cayenne Pepper. If you prefer to serve this from a large bowl, rather than individual portions, then chop the lettuce and garnish the salad with an outer ring of lettuce, and an inner area of tomatoes, topped with Parsley in the middle.

Pesto Pasta Salad

Pesto Pasta Salad

Ingredients:
16 oz uncooked Pasta (Rotini or Penne)
Water for Boiling and Steaming
Iced Water in a large bowl for Shocking the Broccoli
1 Tbsp Salt for Boiling
1 tsp Olive Oil for Boiling
2 cups Broccoli Spears, cut into small pieces
2 cups Pesto, room temperature
1 cup Black Olives, chopped
2 cups marinated Artichoke Hearts, drained, quartered
1 medium Yellow Onion, diced
1 cup Sun-Dried Tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup Romano, grated

Directions:

  • Cook the Pasta in a large pot wit the Salt and Olive Oil. You want al dente. When you reach al dente, quickly drain and run cold water through the Pasta.
  • In a second pot, steam the Broccoli spears till bright green (about 4 minutes), drain and shock with ice-cold water.
  • Combine all ingredients except the Romano in a large bowl. Mix Well.
  • Sprinkle the top with the grated Romano.

NOTES: This is one of the simplest Pasta Salads you’ll ever make. I always make my own Pesto, since it is cheaper and yields more flavor than most store bought Pestos–that and some of the jarred kind is nasty-oily and looks like it was made from reconstituted dried herbs rather than fresh Basil. You can modify the ingredients based on your tastes for the Salad. Some folks may add fresh Tomatoes instead of the Sun-Dried, or cut up Mozzarella in cubes. Really, it is all up to you.

Pollo alla Romana – Roman-Style Chicken

Pollo alla Romana

Ingredients:
6-8 fillets of Chicken Breasts, thin sliced, boneless, skinless
1 Roasted Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Roasted Red Bell Pepper, chopped
6 slices Prosciutto, chopped
2 Plum Tomatoes, diced
1 head of Roasted Garlic
1/2 cup Pinot Grigio
1 cup Chicken Stock
2 Tbsp fresh Basil
1 Tbsp fresh Oregano
1 Tbsp fresh Thyme
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper (optional)
2 Tbsp fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley
1 Tbsp Capers
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Romano Cheese, grated

Directions:

  • Do all necessary roasting ahead of time.
  • In a large skillet, brown the Chicken Fillets in the Olive Oil.
  • Remove the Fillets to the side.
  • Add the Peppers and Prosciutto, and cook until the Prosciutto starts to crisp, about 4 minutes.
  • Squeeze the Garlic into a Mortar and Pestle, and grind.
  • Add Garlic, Tomatoes, Chicken Stock, Wine, Basil, Oregano, Thyme, and Crushed Red Pepper Flakes to the skillet.
  • Heat for 10 minutes, and then add the Chicken Fillets back to the skillet.
  • Cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  • Just before serving, stir in the Capers and Parsley.
  • Garnish with grated Romano Cheese.

Serves 3-4 people (portion 2 fillets per person)

NOTES: So it was a long weekend, and my partner volunteered to cook. He loves chicken, so he started looking online for a chicken recipe. I should mention he is not a good cook–toast and oatmeal he does well, but not much more than that. So he found a recipe for Roman-Style Chicken by Giada DiLaurentis. I had a feeling he would not end up cooking, and by the time we got back from the store, it dawned on him how much work would be involved. So it was saved for another night. I don’t like to do other people’s recipes, so I compare them to similar recipes and then make my own version with my own variations. This is my version of Roman-Style Chicken that resulted from my research and comparisons. I decided to add some different herbage, deepen the flavors with roasted peppers and garlic, as well as adding Romano cheese over the top. This is a light summery Italian meal, and it does not need a side of pasta!

Oven-Roasted Tomato Parmesan

Oven-Roasted Tomato Parmesan

Ingredients:
4 Plum Tomatoes, halved vertically
2 Tbsp Bread Crumbs
3 Tbsp Parmesan, shredded
1 tsp Parsley, dried
1/2 tsp Oregano, dried
1 tsp Basil, dried
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Black Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Preheat Oven to 400°F.
  • Place the Tomatoes cut-side up on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet, and crimp the Aluminum foil to act as an edge around the tomatoes. Prick the Tomatoes with a fork several times.
  • In a bowl, combine all other ingredients, and mix well.
  • Use your hands or a spoon, and divide the topping on each of the Tomatoes
  • Bake uncovered for 10 minutes.
  • Lower heat to 250°F, and roast for another 30 minutes.

Serves 4.

NOTES: I love roasted tomatoes. This is a quick and easy way to make them, that you can start before you start cooking, and let cook till you’re ready to serve. It is also very hard to mess up, unless you spill one onto the floor! You can try to grill them as well. To do that, you will cut them, rub with olive oil, and grill. Then place on an aluminum-lined grate, and cover with the topping.

Smoky Baked Beans

Ingredients:
2 cups Haricot/Navy Beans
6-8 cups Water for Soaking
1/2 lb thick-cut Bacon, diced
1 Yellow Onion, diced
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1/3 cup Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey
3 Tbsp Honey
1/2 tsp Liquid Smoke
1/2 cup Tomato Paste
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp dried Chipotle Pepper, minced
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, soak the Beans in the Water overnight.
  • Drain the Beans, reserving the liquid.
  • Preheat the Oven to 325F
  • In a large Pot brown the Bacon.
  • Add the Onion and Garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring well.
  • Add 1 cup of the Reserved Water, and all other ingredients EXCEPT the beans, and heat for 5 minutes, until bubbly.
  • Mix with the Beans and place in a Dutch Oven.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, covered.
  • Stir well and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes uncovered.

NOTES: I was a Boy Scout in my younger days. On camp outs I took joy in being on the kitchen patrol and cooking. Then we’d cook them in a cast-iron Dutch Oven over the campfire. Over time my Baked Beans became a request of the troop, though back then I didn’t get to use Jack Daniel’s.

So with regards to Baked Beans, there are a variety of “styles”. In Boston Style, Beans and Salt Pork are stewed with tomato paste and molasses. Southern Style incorporates Mustard and Bacon into the mix. In Vermont north through Quebec the sweetener is Maple Syrup. Cowboy Beans incorporate BBQ Sauce and Ground Beef. My beans are sort of a hybrid of baked beans with a very smoky flavor that is reminiscent of a campfire stove.

New England Clam Chowder

New England Clam Chowder

Ingredients:
3 medium Russet Potatoes, skinned and diced
1 medium Yellow Onion, diced
3 cloves Garlic, minced
3 pieces of Bacon, diced
4 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cups Clam meat, diced
1 cup Clam Juice
1 cup Heavy Cream
2 cups Milk
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Thyme
1 tsp Parsley

Directions:

  • In a saucepot, cook the Bacon until crisp on medium heat.
  • Add the Onions and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often.
  • Add the Potatoes and Garlic, coating with the Oily Onion/Bacon mixture. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring.
  • In a bowl combine the Butter and the Flour to form a paste called a beurre manié.
  • Add the beurre manié, Clams, and Clam Juice to the pot and bring to a boil.
  • Add the Milk, Heavy Cream, and Herbs.
  • Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring often.

NOTES: I prefer to use bigger chunks in my Clam Chowder, so my dices are a little bigger than others…especially the Clams. However you should avoid having whole clams as they can be chewy–quartering is the best. I have no problem using high-quality canned clams for this, so long as preserved in water and not oil. Oh, and you’ll notice that I omitted the use of Salt in this recipe. This is because of the salty bacon and salty clam juice, and the lower amount of potatoes, however you can always add salt to taste.

There are other types of Clam Chowder — Manhattan, Rhode Island, and Outer Banks (from the Carolinas), but none of them have the appeal of New England Clam Chowder to me. This is a true comfort food, and reminds me of the days when my family would go to buffet restaurants like Ryan’s Steakhouse and Golden Corral. I would always start with a big bowl of New England Clam Chowder, and pick out the potatoes which seemed to take away from the clams!

Variations:
Cassava Clam Chowder – Substitute Cassava for the Potatoes.

Rhode Island Clam Chowder –  When adding the Clams, also add 1 cup diced Tomatoes.

Pollo e Carciofi al Vino Bianco – Chicken and Artichoke Fettuccine

Pollo e Carciofi al Vino Bianco

Ingredients:
4 Chicken Breasts, skinless, boneless, cut into strips
2 cups Marinated Artichoke Hearts, quartered
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 large Red Onion, diced
1 cup Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
2-4 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 cup Pinot Grigio or White Wine
1 Tbsp Basil, chopped fine
1/2 Tbsp Oregano, chopped fine
1 Tbsp Parsley, chopped fine
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Salt
2-4 Tbsp grated Parmesan Cheese
1 lb Fettuccine (fresh if possible)
Water for boiling
1 tsp Capers for Garnish

Directions:

  • Strain the Oil from the Artichokes into a bowl containing the Chicken. Set the Artichokes to the side, but marinade the Chicken for 1 hour.
  • When ready to cook, begin heating a pot of water on high heat for the Pasta.
  • In a large skillet, combine 1 Tbsp of the Olive Oil with the Onions and Salt, and cook for 2 minutes on medium heat.
  • Add the Garlic, Crushed Red Pepper, and Chicken (with the Oil) and sauté until the Chicken begins to brown.
  • Add the White Wine, careful as it may flare up. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring well.
  • Add the Artichokes and Cherry Tomatoes and cook for another 2-5 minutes until heated through.
  • Add the Pasta to the water when it is boiling. Watch if you are using fresh Fettuccine as it cooks quicker than dried.
  • Strain the Pasta and toss with the Parmesan, Salt, Pepper, Herbs and the remaining Olive Oil in a large bowl.
  • Add the Chicken Artichoke Mixture, and toss well.

Makes about 4-6 Servings.

NOTES: So I had to come up with dinner at the last minute, and searched the cupboard and fridge for ingredients – the result was this dish. It is similar to Chicken Vino Bianco from Olive Garden (which I admit I did not know existed until I was trying to search for similar dishes to come up with a name for what I made), except that I add vegetables, do not use the large amount of Butter, nor did I batter the Chicken. Thus we find a healthier, lighter, dish that is still full of flavor.

Arrabbiata Sauce – Fra Diavolo Sauce

Ingredients:
4-6 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Parsley, chopped fine
2 tsp Oregano, chopped fine
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Yellow Onion, diced
3 cups Tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup Tomato Paste
1 Bay Leaf
1 tsp Granulated Sugar
1 tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Crushed Red Pepper

Directions:

  • Heat the Olive Oil in a Saucepan with the Garlic, Parsley and Oregano on medium heat for 5 minutes.
  • Add the Onion and sauté until near translucent, stirring continually.
  • Add all other ingredients and mix well.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Discard the Bay Leaf before serving.

Makes 3 1/2 cups.

NOTES: The best pasta to use for this is Penne Rigate because it absorbs the sauce well. Arrabbiata is a red sauce that is spiced with Crushed Red Pepper flakes meaning roughly “Angry Sauce” though I’ve been told it has the connotation of “Pissed-Off Sauce”. It is often called Fra Diavolo meaning “Brother of the Devil” in America, though when so called, a protein like Seafood or Chicken is added.

I grew up with Arrabbiata Sauce as my main pasta sauce but it was called Marinara and it was spicy. In reality we were eating Arrabbiata Sauce instead and just didn’t know the name difference. My Italian side of the family is from the Molise region of Italy, in the town of Campobasso.

Pollo Pesto al Forno – Pesto Chicken Bake

Pesto Chicken Bake

Ingredients
1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour (for coating)
1/4 cup Bread Crumbs (for coating)
2 Eggs (for coating)
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp dried Oregano
1/2 tsp dried Basil
4 Chicken Breasts, skinless, boneless, butterfly cut and pounded about 1/4″ thick
2 cups Pesto
4 Plum Tomatoes, sliced
2 cups shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Directions:

  • Preheat Oven to 350° F
  • Set up a dredging station using three pie pans. In one pan put the Flour, in the next the Eggs (beaten with a little water), in the next the Bread Crumbs
  • Season the Chicken with Salt and Pepper on both sides
  • Dredge the chicken in the Flour, then the Eggs, then the Bread Crumbs and set to the side
  • In a large skillet, brown each piece of chicken on both sides in the Olive Oil. When each piece is browned, remove from the skillet.
  • Spread the Pesto sauce over both sides of the Chicken, coating it completely.
  • Place Chicken in a baking dish, and cover with a layer of Tomato Slices followed by the shredded Mozzarella.
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and begun to brown.

NOTES: The first time I ever had this, my mother had used Shake ‘n’ Bake. Though I prefer to use herbed bread crumbs, this is a quick option that also does not require the use of eggs.

Mediterranean Braised Chicken with Couscous

Ingredients:
6 Chicken Thighs, skinless, boneless
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2-3 cloves Garlic, slivered
2 Shallots, diced
1 cup Pinot Grigio or other white wine
1 cup Chicken Broth
1 tsp Salt
2 tsp Rosemary, diced
1/2 cup Kalamata Olives, minced
1/2 cup Manzanilla Olives, minced
1 cup Tomatoes, diced
2 Tbsp Capers
1 cup Couscous

Directions:

  • In a deep saucepan, cook the Chicken thighs in the Olive Oil on low-medium heat for about 5-7 minutes. The more color, the more flavor you’ll get.
  • Remove the Chicken and set aside.
  • Add the Shallots and Garlic to the Oil, and lightly saute.
  • Deglaze with the Pinot Grigio and Chicken Broth.
  • Return the chicken to the saucepan, and add the Salt, Rosemary, Tomatoes, Olives, and Capers.
  • Simmer for about 10-20 minutes.
  • Add 1 cup of Couscous to the pot, and turn off the heat.
  • Cover for 5 minutes, as the Couscous absorbs the liquid.
  • Serve.

NOTES: You can always cook the Couscous separately from the dish, however I like to absorb the chicken broth and wine into the couscous to add some extra flavor. If you desire, you can chop up the chicken thighs; additionally if you cannot get boneless chicken thighs, you can use them. The important part is not the bones or size, but that it is the flavorful chicken thigh meat.

Chicken Castellina

Chicken CastellinaChicken Castellina

Ingredients:
2 grilled Chicken Breasts, chopped into bite-size pieces
5 oz Pancetta, diced
1 cup prepared Artichokes, chopped
3 Tbsp Capers, drained
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 cup Sun-dried Tomatoes, diced
2 cups Alfredo Sauce
2 cups Penne pasta
Water for the Pasta

Directions:

  • In a Sauce pan, brown the Pancetta.
  • Add the Capers, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Grilled Chicken, and Artichokes.
  • Saute for 3 minutes, tossing occasionally.
  • Pour the Alfredo Sauce in.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 10 mins, stirring to prevent burning.
  • In a second pan, fill with water and heat for Pasta.
  • When boiling, add the pasta with a dash of salt, and strain when pasta is al dente.
  • When pasta is finished, plate and pour the Sauce over it and serve.

NOTES: You can find this dish in most Olive Gardens, but I’ve added a twist with my Alfredo sauce and the addition of Capers.

Steak Sauce

Ingredients:
1 cup Tomato Paste
3 cloves Garlic, minced
3 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1/2 large Yellow Onion, minced
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
2 Tbsp Malt Vinegar
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Prepared Mustard
3 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 cup Water
1 tsp Black pepper

Directions:

  • In a pot, combine all ingredients.
  • Bring to a boil, and stirring constantly. Let cook for at least 5 minutes at a boil.
  • Remove from pot to Blender, and puree.
  • Remove, cool or bottle in sterile jar.

See Also:
Worcestershire Sauce

Hungarian Sauerkraut – Székelygulyás

Ingredients:Vegan Vegetarian Variation
2 lbs Pork Loin, cubed 1/2 inch
1 1/2 lbs Sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup White Onion, minced
2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
4 Tbsp Sweet Paprika (Hungarian preferred)
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 tsp Caraway Seeds
2 cups Tomatoes, crushed
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
2 Bay Leaves
1 cup Barley
1 1/2 cups Water
1/2 cup Sour Cream
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • In a large pot, brown the Pork, Onion, and Garlic in the Vegetable Oil.
  • Add the Paprika and Caraway Seeds and saute for 3 minutes.
  • Add all other ingredients except the Sour Cream and mix well in the pot so that everything is incorporated.
  • Pour into a deep baking dish and bake for 30-45 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven, and stir in the Sour Cream.

NOTES: This style of Sauerkraut is inherited from my family. I’ve heard about it being done with Ketchup instead of Stewed Tomatoes, but I just can’t bring myself to do that. The recipe came verbally from my paternal grandmother’s maternal grandmother Elisabeth Stefani Schwarz Lanser. The use of Tomatoes is a Hungarian/Slovak influence. She was from the town of Metzenseifen, now Medzev in Slovakia on the Hungarian border. The town consisted of Germans who had moved there in the 13th century. One can see the influence of the three cultures in this dish. The Hungarian name Székelygulyás signifies that this is thick cabbage goulash.

Variations:
Substitute sliced Kielbasa or Roast Duck for the Pork
Spice it Up: Add 1/2 tsp Hot Paprika or Cayenne Pepper

M›Ɣ – Leaving out the Pork Loin, will still yield a very tasty Sauerkraut.

Pasta Primavera

Ingredients:Vegan VariationVegetarian
1 handful of Fettuccine (could use Farfalle, Penne, or Spaghetti)
1 cup Zucchini, cut into half-rounds
1 cup Broccoli cut into small florets
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 cup Peas (frozen is best)
1 cup yellow Bell Pepper, diced
1 cup Tomato, diced
1 cup fresh Parsley, chopped fine
1 cup fresh Basil, chopped fine
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated or shaved
1/4 cup Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste (and Salt for water)

Directions:

  • Fill a pot with water 3/4 the way full, and add 1 Tbsp Salt. Bring to a boil.
  • When boiling, add the Pasta and cook until al dente, draining and leaving un-rinsed in the colander.
  • In a skillet, add some of the oil, the garlic, Peppers, Zucchini, and Broccoli. Saute until tender, being sure to stir and not burn the Garlic, about 3-5 minutes.
  • In a serving bowl, place the herbs and Parmesan cheese.
  • Add the Pasta and mix the herbs and Parmesan Cheese using the Olive Oil to lubricate.
  • Add the Peppers, Zucchini, and Broccoli mix as well as the Tomatoes to the pasta and mix well.

NOTE: Some people prefer to julienne their vegetables when using long pasta like fettuccine or spaghetti, but I don’t. I think the chunks of vegetables is more natural. Not all Pasta Primavera’s are the same. The American versions tend to add cream, making an almost Alfredo sauce. This style was developed in New York in the 1970s, inspired by dishes similar to that above.

Variations:
The vegetables one uses is up to taste. You can use Carrots, Asparagus, Eggplant, Yellow Squash–your tastes are the limit. To be true Primavera, though an emphasis on Spring and early Summer vegetables should be observed…though I won’t tell if you don’t.

American Style:
Add 1/c cup Cream to the Oil and Garlic in the pan

With Chicken/Shrimp:
Add 1 cup sauteed Chicken or Shrimp (think bite size pieces)

V›Ɣ – Leave out the Parmesan Cheese.