Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Potato, Leek, and Red Bell Pepper Soup

This is a great soup for cold, rainy fall lunches; it goes
well with some crusty toasted herb bread with butter.


4 large leeks, leafy section and roots removed, cut into 1/4" thick disks
1 1/2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
2 - 3 garlic cloves, minced
1 quart vegetable stock
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon hot Hungarian paprika
3 - 4 tablespoons butter
1 cup heavy cream

For garnish:

1 - 2 tablespoons of sour cream
1 tablespoon Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika


1. Sautée lightly leeks in butter in frying pan over medium heat; remove and put aside;
sautée garlic lightly and remove; repeat with red bell pepper.

2. In large 4 - 5 quart soup pot, mix leeks, garlic, bell pepper, potatoes, vegetable stock,
salt, pepper, and paprika; heat on medium high to boiling, then lower to simmer, cover,
and cook for 45 - 50 minutes or until potatoes are done, and remove from heat.

3. Use immersion blender or food processor to purée mixture until smooth.

4. Add cream and stir; adjust seasonings to taste.

5. Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream, a tablespoon of chopped Italian parsley,
and a sprinkle of smoked sweet paprika.


1. Olive oil or peanut oil can be used for the sautéeing instead of butter.

2. chicken stock should work for this as well as the vegetable stock.

3. Instead of the hot paprika, hot pepper flakes or cayenne pepper can be
used instead, as can various forms of hot sauce. It also occurred to be
after preparing the soup that harissa-- employed with judicious restraint --
could very well work, also (that's what I'm going to try next time, in fact).

4. This soup can also be served cold, I would think (at least, other versions
of leek and potato soup can be, so I imagine this one could, too); it does keep
well for several days in the refrigerator.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Mushroom, Cauliflower, Black Olive & Cheese Casserole

(Adapted with significant changes from recipe in Easy Vegetarian,
published by LOVE FOOD, imprint of Parragon Books Ltd., 2009)

This can be either a lacto-vegetarian main dish or a side dish.


1 lb. fresh cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 lb. fresh white mushrooms, cut into bite-sized pieces
5 - 6 oz. canned sliced black olives, drained
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried parsley
3/4 tsp. hot paprika
1 tsp. salt
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp. bread crumbs
3 - 4 tbsp. butter

1. Heat large saucepan of water to boiling; add cauliflower, cover
and bring to boil again; cook cauliflower for 3 minutes; remove
from heat, drain, and set aside.

2. Melt 2 - 3 tbsp. butter in large frying pan on medium heat; sautée
mushrooms lightly; remove from heat.

3. Mix cauliflower, mushrooms, and olives in large bowl; stir in
oregano, parsley, paprika, and salt and mix thoroughly.

4. Place mixture in 9" deep dish pie pan or baking dish; top with
cheese and bread crumbs; dot top with 1 broken up tbsp. of butter.

5. Preheat oven to 450; bake casserole 15 minutes or until cheese
melts and begins to brown. Remove, cool for 10 minutes, and serve.


1. You can use fewer or more olives depending on taste, or omit them
completely; they weren't in the original recipe, but I found they added
an additional layer of taste to the dish.

2. I sometimes add a tablespoon or so of Worchestershire sauce to
mushrooms when I sautée them.

3. Any kind of shredded cheese can be used; I'm planning on trying
Gruyere a little later; cheddar should work quite well, too. Or you can
go with the original recipe and use grated parmesan, instead; you'll
have to play with the amount if you use a grated cheese, though.

4. The paprika was another addition I made, as I found the original
a little on the bland side. You can omit it altogether, or try other hot
spices such as red pepper flakes or ground cayenne, or sweet
paprika is you prefer. The exact amount can also vary with taste
(I used 1.5 tsp. of hot paprika once before and found that was a bit
too hot for my taste).

5. Upon further reflection, I've decided that the bread crumbs add
little or nothing to this dish, so I'll probably be omitting them in the
future. Consider them optional.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Aubergines Parmigiana

Adapted from Simple Mediterranean Cookery by Claudia Roden,
BBC Books, 2003.

A simple, relative quick Italian baked eggplant dish that's excellent.


1 large eggplant, sliced into 8 1/2" thick disks
1 & 1/2 14 oz. cans of diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and a
bit more for brushing eggplant slices
1 - 2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh dill, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 cup shredded parmesan
fresh mozzarella
Salt to taste


Lightly brush eggplant disks with olive oil and salt lightly;
place on tray under broiler for several minutes until slices
are light golden; turn and repeat. Remove from oven.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in saucepan and sauté
garlic for one minute; stir in diced tomatoes and herbs,
adding salt to taste; simmer for 5 - 6 minutes to allow
tastes to mingle, then remove from heat.

In a lightly greased baking dish, place 4 of the eggplant
disks, cover with half the tomatoes and half of the parmesan
cheese; add remaining eggplant, tomatoes, and parmesan,
then place two or three small wedges of fresh mozzarella
on each of the four stacks. Cook in preheated 350 degree
oven for 40 minutes. Remove and serve. Serves 4.


1. You can use any fresh (or dried) herbs you choose;
dill and cilantro are my first choices, others including
basil and Italian parsley will work just as well.

2. You can use either more of less parmesan, according
to taste.

3. As in other eggplant recipes, graffiti eggplants are my
eggplant of choice, but other varieties should work just as

4. This is another dish that carries over well in the refrigerator.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Rice and Eggplant Timbale with Tomato and Basil Sauce

Adapted from Mediterranean Vegetarian Cooking by Paola Gavin,
M. Evans and Company, Inc., 2005.

This is a delicious vegetarian recipe from Sicily. As it is a bit labor-intensive,
I'm dividing the instructions into 3 sections for convenience. There are also
a couple of shortcuts in the "Notes" which follow.

I. The Tomato and Basil Sauce


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
7 - 8 Roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon salt

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan; cook garlic over medium
heat until it begins to turn golden. Add tomatoes and cook for
about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce begins to
thicken. Add basil and salt and simmer for 1 -2 more minutes
stirring to thoroughly mix basil into sauce. Remove from heat
and set aside until needed.

II. Prepare the Rice

1 cup arborio rice
1/2 - 1 cup white onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 cups vegetable broth, heated to boiling

Heat the olive oil and butter in a saucepan; add the onion and
cook over medium heat until it's translucent. Stir in rice and cook
for about 1 minute,stirring to make certain each grain is coated
with the oil/butter mixture. Add one cup of boiling stock and stir
continuously until it is absorbed by the rice (approximately 10
minutes); repeat with second cup of boiling stock, and again with
third cup. Rice should be tender and thoroughly cooked by this
time (approximately 30 - 35 minutes). Remove from heat and set
aside until needed.

III. Preparing the Eggplant and the Final Dish

1 large eggplant
Salt as needed
2 - 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup grated pecorino cheese

Cut ends from eggplant and slice into 10 - 12 1/4 inch
thick disks; sprinkle well with salt and place in a colander
for one hour to remove bitter juices. Wash thoroughly to
remove salt and juices and pat dry. Heat oil in frying pan
and cook eggplant until disks are lightly golden on each
side (adding more oil if needed). Drain on paper towels.

In a baking dish, arrange a layer of eggplant; spoon a layer
of prepared rice, a layer of tomato-basil sauce, and sprinkle
on a layer of the grated cheese. Repeat., ending with a layer
of cheese on top. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for
25 - 30 minutes until the top is golden and the sauce bubbling.
Serves four.


1. I suspect one could use a 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
rather than preparing them by hand; I'd recommend Muir Glen
fire-roasted diced Tomatoes, but I suspect anything similar will
work. The amount of basil will probably have to be worked out
to suit individual tastes by trial and error; the actual recipe just
called for "a handful." I actually made this sauce a day ahead;
I think the flavors melded better than they might have otherwise
by spending the night together in the refrigerator.

2. In preparing the rice, any sort of broth will do, of course. What's
especially important is that the stirring be continued throughout,
stopping only for one minute or so at a time during the process.

3. I used what has become my favorite type of eggplant, the
graffiti aubergine, but the regular type will work just as well.

4. I happened to have a 7" x 7" x 3" baking dish that worked perfectly
for this recipe, providing 3 layers. If a larger dish is used, probably
the available ingredients will make no more than 2 layers, and the
baking time may need to be shortened a bit in consequence.

5. This dish holds over very well in the refrigerator for a couple of

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Lemon Fettuccine Salad

I've been testing out various versions of this recipe for several weeks now,
and this version is by far the best so far. I'll still be trying out variations for
a while yet, but this one is the closest to what I've been looking for.


8 - 10 ozs. fettuccine
1/4 cup grated parmesan
3 tablespoons of champagne vinegar
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, minced
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1/2 - 1 teaspoon salt

1. Cook fettuccine according to instructions. When done, remove from heat,
drain, and place in bowl. Stir in grated parmesan immediately so that it melts.

2. While pasta cools a bit, stir together the champagne vinegar, olive oil, lemon
juice, and pepper to form the basis of the dressing.

3. When pasta has cooled for 6 - 8 minutes, stir in vinegar/oil/lemon juice/ pepper
dressing. Then add remaining ingredients and stir together thoroughly. Refrigerate
and serve chilled.


1. I happened to have some Al Dente brand Lemon and Chive Fettuccine, but any
type will do, as will (I imagine) most other forms of pasta. I'm going to try this with
angel hair pasta next time, I believe.

2. White wine vinegar should work instead of champagne vinegar, but, as it has a
slightly lower alcohol content (usually about 5% as opposed to around 7%), you might
need to use a bit more to get the same degree of zipiness.

3. I love dill, but I'm thinking of trying basil rather than dill in the next batch; either should
work well. The same applies to cilantro rather than Italian parsley if you happen to prefer

4. The lemon flavor from the lemon zest increases with time; after 48 hours in the refrigerator,
the lemoniness is more intense than earlier. You may want to experiment with the amount of
zest to use if you're going to keep the salad around for two or three days.

5. I haven't yet quite gotten the exact amount of salt quite right; I've had to add some when
serving this version, so that's something else you might want to experiment with.

6. Though I haven't tried it yet, I would think some diced tomato would blend into this salad
very well.


I have received a suggestion that cold cooked shrimp or scallops would go well in this salad;
that sounds like a great idea to me. Thanks, Annie.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Greek Meatballs

(Recipe adapted from The Frugal Gourmet by Jeff Smith)
These go quite well with a crusty garlic bread and a green salad.

1. Meatballs:

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 cup white rice
1 or 2 tablespoons onion (either yellow or white), finely chopped
1 tablespoon dried parsley, crushed
2/3 tablespoon dried dill, crushed
2 tablespoons Worchestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg

2. Sauce:

2 15 oz. cans of tomato sauce
2 - 4 cups of water
1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
2 - 3 tablespoons butter

1. In a large bowl, mix the meat, rice, onion, seasonings, and egg
together. Mold into balls slightly larger than golf balls, roll those
in flour, and set aside on waxed paper.

2. In a large, deep skillet with lid, mix tomato sauce, 2 cups of water,
and Worchestershire sauce. Bring to a heavy simmer and add butter.

3. Add meatballs; the sauce should cover them about 2/3s or 3/4s of
the way; if not, add sufficient water until this level is reached. Cover
and simmer for 45 minutes. If the sauce level lowers very much, add
a little more water. Turn the meatballs after 25 - 30 minutes.

4. After 45 minutes, check to see if rice in the interior of the meatballs
is done; if so, remove from heat. If not, continue cooking for another
10 - 15 minutes until rice is done.


1. I have also used mixtures of ground beef, pork, and veal
rather than all beef; these work fine and give a more subtle

2. I prefer fresh herbs myself; if you use fresh herbs, then finely chop
them and increase amounts to 2 tablespoons of parsley and 1 1/3
tablespoons of dill.

3. If you don't have a large, deep, lidded skillet available, you can use
2 large covered saucepans, dividing up the meatballs and sauce between
them; the cooking times may vary in this case.

4. Sometimes, the meatballs disintegrate when cooked; this
doesn't affect the taste at all.

5. These meatballs store very well in the refrigerator up to 3 or 4 days;
just reheat for a few minutes in a pan on the stove or in bowls in the

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Simple Steak Marinade for Grilling

This is just a simple, basic marinade for steaks.

2 8 - 12 oz. steaks (whatever kind you prefer)


1/4 cup olive oil
3 - 4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon red onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram, crushed
1 teaspoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Place steaks in glass baking pan. Mix marinade ingredients
and pour over steaks, making sure to allow marinade to flow
underneath steaks. Cover with plastic wrap and place in
refrigerator for about 4 hours, turning steaks once after two
hours or so. Grill to desired doneness. Salt to taste and eat.


1. You can adjust ingredients as needed; larger steaks may
require a bit more olive oil, and the amount of garlic desired
varies from person to person, of course. Peanut oil can be
used just as well as olive oil.

2. Steaks can be panfried instead of grilled; the recipe works
equally well for both.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sesame-Glazed Baby Bok Choy

(Recipe adapted from Perfect Vegetables by the Editors of Cook's Illustrated, 2003)

This recipe is for two people.

4 4-oz. baby bok choy heads, each halved lengthwise
6 - 8 scallions, julienned,
3 - 4 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
1 - 11/2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely minced
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons peanut oil for browning bok choy
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil for browning bok choy

Soy Sauce Mixture:
1 tablespoon peanut oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 - 1 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1. Heat 2 tablespoons peanut oil and 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil in non-stick frying
pan over medium high heat; place halved bok choy cut side down, cooking until lightly
browned (2 - 3 minutes), then turn and repeat on uncut side until again lightly browned,
then remove onto plate.

2. Place scallions, garlic, and ginger in pan, stirring for about 30 seconds; stir
in soy sauce mixture and cook for about 30 - 40 seconds, until slightly thickened;
return bok choy to pan and cook for another 1 to 11\2 minutes, stirring lightly and
turning until bok choy is glazed.

3. Remove from pan, pouring sauce over bok choy, then sprinkling with the
toasted sesame seeds. Serve immediately.


1. The original recipe for the sauce mixture also calls for 2 tablespoons of low-sodium
chicken stock and 1 teaspoon of sugar, but I've found that neither is necessary
and that the sauce is better without them.

2. I've found this dish meshes perfectly with both grilled pork and chicken.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

Ingredients (serves 2):

6 - 8 red potatoes
1 - 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed dried rosemary
1 teaspoon hot paprika
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt to taste

1. Rinse potatoes; slice each into 8 - 10 pieces
and place in bowl.
2. Add olive oil and stir until pieces are coated.
3. Add in the rosemary, paprika, and pepper; stir
until potatoes are coated with the mixture.
4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees (F); place potato
pieces on lightly greased flat baking pan, and
set on bottom rack in the oven.
5. Cooking times vary with ovens, of course, but
check after 6 - 7 minutes and turn pieces. Cook
another 6 - 10 minutes, depending on how crispy
you want the potatoes to be (and the exact cooking
conditions of your oven).
6. Remove from oven when as crispy as desired,
salt, and serve immediately.


You will have to experiment with your oven to
determine the best cooking time for the degree
of crispiness you wish.

Bourbon - Molasses Strip Steak

I don't usually like to mess with good quality steaks by doing anything
to them other than warming them slightly on the grill and adding a touch
of salt. However, occasionally, I like to indulge in something a bit
different, and this marinade does nice things to good steaks.


2 12 - 14 oz New York strip steaks, cut 1 to 1 1/4 " thick
1 large sweet yellow onion


1/8 cup of Jack Daniels Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses

1. Mix marinade ingredients, stirring until the brown sugar is dissolved.
2. Place steaks in flat baking dish and pour marinade over them, making
certain liquid is completely underneath the steaks. Marinate in refrigerator
for 4 hours, covering baking dish with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and
turning steaks after two hours so both sides are well saturated.
3. Slice onion into 1/4 to 1/3" disks and brush very lightly with olive or
peanut oil.
4. Cook steaks and onion disks on charcoal (or gas) grill until done to
5. Serve steaks with grilled onions on top; salt to taste.

1. With thinner steaks, you would want to reduce the marinading time
2. I sometimes add a teaspoon or so of cracked black pepper to the
3. Vidalias are the best sweet yellow onion for this kind of grilling
when they're in season, but other varieties will work in a pinch.
4. You can use any kind of steak, actually; filet mignon works especially

Marinated Olive, Red Pepper, and Artichoke Heart Salad

I can't remember exactly where I first came across this recipe,
or I'd credit it properly; I have modified it a bit to suit my tastes.


1/3 cup Olive Oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 - 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
6 - 8 ozs. drained, quartered artichoke hearts
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and julienned
4 - 6 ozs. button mushrooms, quartered
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
3/4 cup quartered pitted Kalamata olives
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Blend first 6 ingredients in large bowl, mixing well.
2. Add remaining ingredients, tossing or stirring lightly to coat thoroughly.
3. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Refrigerate for at least two hours.
5. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.


1. I sometimes also add 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh dill to
the basil and parsley.
2. I frequently use baby portabella mushrooms rather than the
button mushrooms because I like the richer, meatier taste.
3. I prefer the Kalamata olives, but any sort of pitted olives will
work fine.
4. As with most salads of this sort, I find they gain in taste once
they've had 24 hours for the flavors to mingle thoroughly.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cheese and Onion Pie

I just tried this recipe for the first time tonight and it's delicious,
especially in cold weather such as we're having right now. This
is definitely something I'll be making again, and plan to experiment
with variants in the near future.


1 frozen deep-dish pie crust
3 medium yellow sweet onions
1 - 1 1/2 tblsp. butter
1 tblsp. Worchestershire sauce
6 - 8 oz. shredded Cheddar cheese
3 eggs
2/3 c. Half & Half
1/2 - 1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper
1 - 2 tblsp. fresh minced dill

1. Chop onions into medium-sized pieces; saute over medium heat
in butter and Worchestershire sauce until soft and goldenly transparent.
Set aside.
2. Mix eggs, Half & Half, salt, pepper, and dill, beating well.
3. Layer onions and Cheddar into pie shell, starting with onion layer
and ending with cheese layer.
4. Pour egg mixture over over onion-cheese layers.
5. Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 45 - 60 minutes or until a knife
inserted into center emerges cleanly.
6. Serve hot.

1. I've seen versions of this recipe which use Swiss and/or Gruyere
cheese instead of Cheddar; I suspect all are equally good.
2. I actually used, instead of Half & Half, 1/3 c. of whole milk and
1/3 c. of heavy cream; I suspect that made this particular pie a bit
richer than the Half & Half would. I would think that a variety of
versions of milk and/or cream would work.
3. I think that next time I try this recipe, I'm going to use just 2 onions,
substituting 8 - 10 oz. of butter-sauteed Baby Portabella mushrooms
to fill out the mixture.
4. I'm also going to experiment next time with adding something like
some hot paprika, red pepper flakes, or some form of hot sauce just
to give the pie a bit of a kick, as I tend to like things that are a bit spicy.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New Entries Soon

I've made no new posts here in a while due to serious connection problems with my Internet Service Provider. However, I have now dumped AT&T's dsl as it provides extremely poor service and replaced it with the (so far) vastly superior Cox Cable modem. I should begin making some new posts in the next few days.