Archives for the month of: September, 2009

lemon peelThis is a play on a traditional South Indian dish: lemon rice. I’ve always been a fan of western, seasoned rice dishes. I think that the fundamental difference between the way westerners eat rice and the way Indians do, lies in its purpose. We often use plain white rice as a vehicle for curries and sauces, whereas seasoned rice dishes can stand on their own. I like the idea of cooking everything at once: the rice, the seasonings, and the herbs. Here is a recipe for a VERY flavorful rice dish that is strong enough to hold its own.

Ingredients

1 cup white Basmati rice

2 1/4 cups water

1/2 cup plain cashew nuts

Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of 1 lemon

2 jalapeno peppers (minced)

2 large cloves garlic (minced)

1/2 large white or yellow onion (chopped)

1  teaspoon cumin seeds

2  teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder (for yellow coloring)

1/4 cup cilantro (chopped)

Method

Rinse rice well and set aside. In a cooking pot, toast the cashew nuts along with the cumin seeds on medium heat, until the nuts are fragrant and light brown in color. Then, add two to three tablespoons of oil and toss. Add  onions and cook for 2-3 minutes until translucent. Then fry the garlic, lemon zest, and jalapeno peppers for 1-2 minutes. Toss in the rice and toast for another 1-2 minutes. Once the rice is toasted, add cooking liquid and increase heat to bring it to a boil. Once liquid is boiling, reduce temperature to low, add salt, butter, and turmeric for coloring, stir and cover. Let rice simmer until all of the cooking liquid has evaporated and rice is tender. Fluff with a fork, garnish with cilantro, and serve.

eggplantRedOnionsred-pepperRoasting is the best way to maximize flavor in vegetables. It’s also a very relaxing method of cooking. This dish is great for appetizers with toasted pita bread or crackers. It’s creamy, savory, and a little sweet all at once.

Ingredients

1 large eggplant (cut into medium sized chunks)

1 red pepper (cut into medium sized chunks)

1 red onion (cut into medium sized chunks)

2 cloves garlic (minced)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1  teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

juice of 1/2 lemon

1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley

Method

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the eggplant, peppers, onions, and garlic. Drizzle olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix well. Spread contents over a large baking sheet, and roast in the oven for about 30-45 minutes. The eggplant should be slightly browned, and peppers and onions slightly charred/caramelized. Once roasted, set aside to cool.

When eggplant mixture has cooled, transfer to a large blender. Add lemon juice, and HALF of the parsley leaves. Blend until chunky consistency is achieved. As always, check to make sure seasoning is right. Before serving, garnish with remaining parsley leaves, then serve with pita bread or crackers and enjoy!

orzoOrzo is a short-grain, rice-shaped pasta. It’s quick cooking, low in calories, and a good source of protein. Beyond that, it’s the perfect side-dish. Cook it in salted water and then mix in parmesan cheese, garlic and herbs for a creamy, cheesy accompaniment. Or, serve it cold, as a salad, with grape tomatoes and lemon zest and  feta cheese.

 

 

Ingredients

1 cup orzo pasta

1 large clove garlic (minced)

zest of one lemon

juice of one lemon

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup grape tomatoes (halved)

1/2 red onion (chopped)

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or walnuts (chopped)

1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley (chopped)

1/4 cup feta cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Method

Bring water to boil and salt liberally. Pasta should be boiled in water “as salty as the sea”. Boil orzo for roughly 7-8 minutes or until the grains are tender/ al dente. Drain pasta and place in large bowl. Mix in garlic and lemon zest. Then fold in chopped onions, tomatoes, and toasted nuts (toasted on medium heat over stove). Season with salt and pepper and squeeze lemon juice over the top. Drizzle olive oil and mix. Lastly, sprinkle parsley and feta cheese.

 

ciabatta1RedOnionscucumbers

The answer lies in the name: pan or, “bread”.  It’s a Meditterenean bread salad, incorporating large chunks of crusty bread, red onions, sweet peppers and a tangy vinaigrette. There are many variations of this recipe; some require classically greek elements like olives, feta cheese, and red wine vinegar. Others involve roma tomatoes and basil. Either way, this salad is no foo-foo she-she bowl of micro-greens. The reason it’s so good is because the bread is the highlight. It soaks up the vinaigrette and just melts in your mouth. Here is my recipe for Panzanella.

Ingredients:

1 large loaf of Ciabatta bread or 1/2 loaf of French Bread (cut into medium sized cubes)

1/2 red onion (sliced)

1 red pepper (cut into squares)

1 cup of diced cucumbers (about 1/4 to 1/2 a cucumber depending on the size)

1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

1/4 cup goat cheese (crumbled)

1 cup grape tomatoes (halved)

salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for vinaigrette

2/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 clove garlic minced

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Method

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Chop up vegetables, season with salt and pepper and set aside. Cut bread into medium sized cubes.

Once bread is cubed, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toast in the oven on a sheet pan until golden brown.  Remove bread from the oven and let cool. Once cool, combine with chopped vegetables in a large bowl. Prepare vinaigrette. 30 minutes before serving, pour vinaigrette over the salad, add the crumbled goat cheese and parsley, and gently toss. Bread cubes should be slightly softened and not completely crunchy.  Enjoy!

wheatTomatoesGarlic

Tabouleh is great: it’s low in calories, easy to prepare, and when made correctly, has alot of flavor. It also has a decent amount of protein per serving. Essentially, Tabouleh is cracked wheat, dry and grain-like in texture. There is no cooking involved as it is simply soaked in hot water to soften, then mixed with herbs and seasonings. This recipe is especially good because it incorporates salty feta cheese and buttery, crunchy pine nuts. Of course if you don’t have pine nuts you can substitute it with any type of nuts you have around.

Ingredients

1/2 cup cracked bulgur wheat (or packaged Tabouleh)

3/4 cup boiling water

1/4 cup chopped red onion (depending on size, 1/4 to 1/2 of a red onion)

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

1/2 cup chopped tomatoes

1/2 cup chopped cucumbers

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

1/4 cup feta cheese

3 tablespoons olive oil

zest of 1/2 lemon

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 clove garlic (minced)

salt and pepper to taste (at least 1/2 teaspoon of salt)

Method

Measure bulgur wheat into a bowl. Bring water to boil and pour into bowl over wheat. Season with salt and pepper, stir and then cover for 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, toast pine nuts over stove on medium heat until their oils have developed and they are glossy and browned. Chop up all of the vegetables and herbs, and zest the lemon.

Once cooked, the bulgur wheat should be tender and flufffed. If there is any excess liquid you may drain it through a strainer. Combine wheat with all of the vegetables and herbs, and dress with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Toss in pine nuts, feta cheese, and serve.

Tabouleh can be eaten on its own as a salad, or stuffed into pita pockets or  wraps. Enjoy!

sub sanwich

 

 Where’s the Bread???                          

 

 

We’ve all eaten at Subway, and some of us have this bizarre tendency to overstuff our sandwiches with complex combinations of meats, cheeses, peppers, and veggies: STOP.

A sandwich is REALLY about the bread: good crusty french baguettes, Sourdough, Ciabatta. Quality bread that is paired with some type of lean meat or cheese, herbs, and a nice dressing. What ever happened to good old fashioned Mayo?

Try roasted red peppers, provolone, red onions, and arugula lettuce; dress it with a combination of gorgonzola and mayo.  Add a splash of balsamic vinegar, serve it on Ciabatta bread, and enjoy.

Sometimes simplicity is better. ciabatta1

brie

Garlic

Rosemary

 white wine

Brie is a delicious and mild, soft cheese. It’s great with savory herbs or sweet jam, served with crackers or bread. Here is very SIMPLE preparation that pairs well with wine.               

Ingredients

One wheel of Brie cheese                                                                                 

1 large clove garlic (cut into slivers)

1 sprig fresh rosemary

splash of olive oil

salt and pepper

Method

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

With a sharp knife, cut off the waxy top layer of the cheese, revealing a pale yellow surface. Then cut about six to seven tiny slits into the cheese. Slice the garlic clove into thin slivers and slip them into each of the incisions. Then snip the rosemary fronds and stick those in on top of the garlic slivers. (Almost like driving a plant into soil). Drizzle olive oil on top of the entire wheel and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Once oven is preheated, place the wheel of cheese into a baking dish and then into the oven. Bake until cheese has softened and melted. Serve for dipping with crackers or crusty bread.

Drink of Choice: a crisp white wine ( Pinot Grigio or Riesling)