Sunday, August 31, 2008

Grapefruit Pie

I've been pretty consumed with these simple pastas lately. Today I put a little chicken in one (it was penne today) and added a little orange juice and milk, but they're all essentially the same. Mainly I like them because it takes me about 15 minutes to throw dinner together.

Which means today, I give you something from my archives. Not my archives here. Just from my piles and piles and piles of recipes I've written over the years that I never gave you, because I haven't even been actively maintaining this blog for a year, despite it existing before that. Today is grapefruit pie. I will give you my way of making it and the lazy way (buy the strawberry glaze; that's the lazy way).

I found out about this pie a few years ago. Apparently there's a place in a little border town in Texas that serves it (don't ask me where, since I can't remember the name of the restaurant and I never have actually been to it), so I was told about the pie and I made my own version of it. A more accurate replica would be to buy the glaze instead of make it, but sometimes I just like to make stuff. This glaze is darker and I don't think it's quite as cloyingly sweet (though in fairness, sometimes I really love that artificial, diner-tasting glaze). So you might prefer the traditional glaze, and if so, make the pie that way. But regardless of what strawberry glaze you use, make the pie. It's really yummy.

Crust for 1 9-inch pie (without a top crust; I have stopped making my own crust because I am lazy and I don't see a significant enough difference in flavour to warrant making it myself these days)
2 24-ounce bottles of grapefruit sections in juice (not syrup) - I use Del Monte (or you can do it right and section your own grapefruit, which as previously stated, I'm too lazy to do)
strawberry glaze
whipped creme (ironically, the glaze and creme I make myself, despite laziness)

Bake pie shell. Allow to cool fully, then layer in the grapefruit sections (well drained, w/ juices reserved). Top with glaze, let it set and get cold. Then eat with loads of freshly whipped creme. Serves 1-8 people, depending on how much you like it.

Strawberry Glaze:

3 pounds strawberries, cut up
1 cup corn syrup
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon cognac vinegar (or either red wine or cider vinegar)

4 tablespoons arrow root (or cornstarch)
4 tablespoons water

In medium saucepan, combine first group of ingredients and simmer for 1½ hours. Strain, then simmer another 1½ hours and strain again. Return liquid to a clean saucepan. Combine water and arrow root, then add to saucepan. Bring to a hard boil and continue to boil for three minutes, stirring constantly, then reduce heat and simmer until liquid is very thick and syrupy. Yields approximately 3 cups

Variation: Add liquid from 2 – 24 oz bottles grapefruit sections in juice (recommend: Del Monte) in place of water.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Minestrone

I didn't take a picture of this. I'm way more interested in photographing the mutant cornichon P selected for me (I like mutant foods a lot) at the store today, but even that hasn't gotten me to get off my butt and figure out where I stuck the camera most recently. It's always somewhere. Just not somewhere I know about.

I think I recently mentioned that I was going to make some minestrone, because I wanted to use up the last of those frozen carrots I'm just not that big of a fan of. I also used up the frozen green beans that were just on the edge of burning in the freezer. So, they're not burned. Now they're boiled.

I don't know how to make small quantities of soup. I've (mostly) learned to make small quantities of other things, but soup? I jsut never seem able to pull that one off. This soup was supposed to just be a couple quarts. But it wound up filling an 8 quart deal. I felt lucky I didn't have to spill it over into one of the large dutch ovens. Eep. Anyway.. there's a lot of it, so I'll probably eat it all week or lunch (in addition to the remaining pork fried rice I made the other day, which I didn't post because it wasn't dissimilar enough from the bacon fried rice; except it had more veggies; to warrant a new post). Blah, blah, I'm rambling again, as per usual. Let's get to the food then. I hope you like it. It makes a lot. So the measurements of the broth are a little weird, btw. Because I don't normally measure how much liquid I use (as evidenced by the fact that I often forget to even mention liquid was used), but today I did. Just for you.

I swear on my life that even though this recipe is long-long-long-long-long, it's actually easy enough to make that you can be watching some tv and forget you're cooking and it still comes out yummy.

3 slices of salt pork, cut into 1/8-1/4" cubes (optional; I wanted to use a parm rind, but didn't have one)
1 tablespoon olive oil

salt and pepper to season throughout, as you see fit
1/2 white onion, cut into 1/4 moon slices
5 cloves garlic, sliced
2 cups sliced celery w/ leaves

1 zucchini, sliced into half moons
2-3 cups shredded savoy cabbage

1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 cups frozen or fresh carrot slices
2 cups frozen or fresh green beans, cut up
1 large russet potato, cut into little cubes
48 ounces broth of your choice (I had veggie broth I made; I'd planned to use the chicken I'd made, but it exploded in my face and I had to throw it out. It's a long story)
1 1/2 cup cooked great northern, cannelini (spelling?) or navy beans (1/2 cup dry I think I used)

2-3 cups broccoli flowerettes, cut into little bitty pieces (no larger than 1/2 inch around)
1 bunch spinach, cut up
2 cups torn or cut basil, in big pieces
1 cup parsley, cut roughly
38 ounces broth (more of that veggie I'd made, but you use what you made or bought)

1/2 pound ditalini (but not the brand listed here; I have a generic brand)
14 ounces broth (this, actually, was the beef I discovered; I seem to have a lot of broth in my fridge)

Put the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot (or dutch oven) and warm. Add the bits of salt pork (or not) and render down. Then add the onion, celery and garlic. Salt and pepper it if you like. If not, don't. Some stuff I salted/peppered, other stuff I kinda forgot about because I was busy elsewhere. Cook it until it's soft; 5-10 minutes (I use the timer, but mainly just to make sure I come back prior to a fire starting in the house). Then throw in the zucchini and cabbage. Again, let it chill in there until it's soft, another 5-15 minutes (I guess it depends on how small you cut the cabbage, huh?). Toss in the tomatoes, carrot, green beans, potato, other beans and first bit of broth. Let it cook at a strong simmer an hour or so, then add the broccoli group and give it another hour or whatever you like. Last, add in the pasta and last of the broth and cook it for 10-15 minutes, then eat. Serves around 12, I think.

If you're more of a morning person than I am, you could get it started before you go to work/school while you drink your morning coffee and leave it in a slow cooker or on really low heat all day (instead of putting it in steps, just toss it all together after the initial sweatings) and put the pasta in when you come home. But it makes a lot. Just sayin'.

School starts tomorrow. I am excited and nervous. Hence the rambling. I've been really annoying that way all day long.

Oh yeah; this cost about 8 dollars to make, all told. So it's also cheap since you get a lot of meals from it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Steamed Artichoke Salad - No Croutons Required

Ok, so here's the thing: there is no way to eat this in one sitting. Not if you use it for two servings, anyway, as I am. I guess if you're an athlete and were served this after all-day training, you could probably get it all down. But not a normal person. So I told P, "when you can't eat it all, don't think I'll be offended. My intention is to eat what I can, then let it sit in front of me on the couch to pick at as I blog and watch tv." And that's what I think you should do too - eat what you can, then pick at it (it took us a total of four hours to pick our way through this, but we enjoyed each little bite, despite the new pain in our bellies).

I realised, slightly belatedly, that I am actually JUST in time for this month's No Crouton's Required. I was sad when I'd thought earlier this month I might not get to participate. This month's theme is dressings; and here is one of my favourites of the homemade varieties. So, here's my submission!

Steamed Artichokes and Potatoes:

2 artichokes, cleaned and trimmed
3 small butter potatoes
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cut up clove garlic
water
pinch salt

Cut the potatoes in half, lengthwise. Salt them lightly. Put them, and the artichokes, in the steamer basket. Add water, garlic and lemon to pot, and bring to a boil. Steam until done (25 minutes to an hour). When done, cut the artichokes in half lengthwise and put them on the plate next to the salad. Serve with a side of drawn butter with lemon.

Drawn butter with lemon:

1 stick of butter
1/8 cup lemon juice

Melt butter. Strain out milk solids. Add lemon. Yum.

Salad:

1/2 head iceberg or other lettuce (I had iceberg, so that's what I used. I think red leaf would be really nice too, though), cut up
2 palm hearts, thickly sliced
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrot
1 stalk celery, sliced
2 scallions, sliced
2 thick slices of feta

Put the lettuce on the plate, next to the artichokes (and butter). Pile other ingredients on top, eventually topping with the slice of feta. Add dressing and serve.

Salad Dressing (this is the part for the Croutons, and this dressing goes well on the artichokes also):

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons crumbled feta
1 teaspoon marjoram or other oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Put all this in a sealed container, and shake-shake-shake.

Serves 2, but really serves 4.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bacon Fried Rice

Ok, so there's no picture of this (and in honesty, you might not want to see it anyway, without being able to smell it. It wasn't the prettiest food, though it tastes amazing). I had only 3 slices of bacon left when P got back from Brazil, and we both wanted bacon one morning (and didn't want to go to the store to get more). So, with three slices in the house, we couldn't have bacon and eggs, bacon and matzo brei, bacon and... well, anything. How to equitably divide it?

Then I remembered the rice in the fridge. And I remembered my former roommate from Holland, and the lovely Indonesian-inspired curries he'd make us (and oh how I miss them). And then I remembered reading it's common to eat fried rice for breakfast in Indonesia, and I could then see how we could both eat bacon, without anyone feeling they didn't get enough bacon. This is important, as any bacon eater can tell you.

It wasn't especially pretty, but it was delicious. Here you go:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 small butter potato, sliced thinly
3 slices of thick-cut bacon, chopped
pepper to taste
2 cups leftover rice
splash each: soy sauce, lemon juice
sprinkle of paprika and ground fenugreek seed
1 egg
1/4 cup each: palm heart slices and tomato sticks

Heat the oils in a pan. Add potato and cook over lowish heat while bacon thaws (unless you're a planner, unlike me, and already have your bacon thawed, in which case just cook it for a little while anyway). Add bacon and pepper, and cook until bacon is done-ish. Add rice, paprika, fenugreek, lemon and soy sauce and fry for about 10 minutes. Push everything in the pan into a ring around the edge of the pan, then put the egg in the middle. As it cooks, start mixing the rice and such in. When fully combined, add in the tomato and palm heart and cook another 2 minutes. Serves 2.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Beet and Preserved Lemon Pasta

I was actually planning to post the bacon fried rice we had for breakfast the other day, but I suspect you all might need a break from the large amounts of meat I've been putting out there, as I do. So instead, you get tonight's dinner instead.

I've really been wanting to use the preserved lemons I made before P went to Brazil (this recipe is very similar to my preparation method), and had originally intended to just make a couscous with the lemons, using all the veggies as a side, but P wanted a larger type of pasta. So this is what we had instead. The lemons were really delicious, particularly with the beets and the roasted garlic. I hope you enjoy this (and soon, I'll give you the bacon fried rice too).

2 beets, peeled and cut into sticks
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup potato, diced (skin left on)
2 celery stalks, cut into 2-3" pieces, leaves included
10 large garlic cloves, left whole
1 tablespoon each: vegetable oil, olive oil, citrus vinegar
salt and pepper to taste (go light on the salt, because of the lemons)

1/2 pound campanelle (or the pasta you like)
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh mint
1 sliced scallion
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/4 cup diced preserved lemon peels

Heat oven to 400F. Combine first set of ingredients and roast for ~30 minutes, or until potatoes and beets are soft and garlic is creamy. Bring a pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta and put butter, oil and remaining ingredients in the pot. Stir until butter is melted, then add roasted vegetables and return pasta to pot. Mix well and serve. Serves 2.

This isn't the finest example of my food pictures, but it gives you the general idea:

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Change Challenge

I am not normally one for "challenges," but the need has actually arisen. Since P has been back from Brazil, he has consistently enticed me with stories of delicious and exotic foods, many of which cannot be locally replicated (fruits and such, and other things where freshness is key). As a result, I must go to Brazil now. I mean, not now, but now I have the inclination to do so. That costs a lot of money, though.

Traditionally, P and I take two vacations per year. We take a winter vacation at some arbitrary location, which P treats me to, and we go to Flipside each May, which I treat him to. We want to go to Brazil next summer, though. It's cheaper to go during their winter. Even if we skipped our winter vacation (which is simply not going to happen, since I need it badly), it'd still be tough to finance an international trip. So we're both saving up.

Part of my "saving up" is going to be to properly utilise my change. I used to save up all my change in a vase, which would be separated into coin-specific jars once the vase was full, and when my jars (I have one jar per type of coin) were too heavy, I'd take them to the bank and have some sort of luxury event - nice dinner, new clothes, whatever I needed that I normally might not get myself. For the last couple years, however, I have been in the habit of paying for everything in exact change. There's just something inherently satisfying in paying exact change. Anyway, when I'm counting my cash to see how much I have, I don't count my change in that. So now, I'm going to keep leaving my change uncounted, except now I won't be using it anymore. Even at the laundromat. Instead of saving my quarters for the laundromat, I'm simply going to use dollars to get quarters. If there are any left over, into the quarters jar they'll go.

Since my current bank doesn't let you bring in a pile of change unless you've rolled it, I went to my dusty jars (which really I just used to toss P's change into when I emptied his pockets each night) and got them all out. Then I got a small, hard-plastic cooler and wiped it out.

Then I rolled the change. Anything that didn't fit properly into a roll went back into its respective jar, and the rolled coins now live in the cooler. I was unable to make even a single roll of quarters, but I still had $61.00 rolled up and stuffed in the cooler. When the cooler is full, I will take it to the bank, get paper money, and put that money in the vacation-savings-envelop. And this is how I think I will pay for Flipside, so we can still save normally in order to go to Brazil (and just spend less money than we normally do to go to Flipside).

So here's the challenge: Save all your coins, from now until May 15th. Let's see how much we can save. If you want to participate, roll up what you can, and post a comment telling us how much you're starting with and what, if anything, you'd like to use your change to save up for. I will post an update each time I do another rolling session (probably once per month, or every other month), and we can update each other to make it easier to NOT spend the change on little incidentals and on giving exact change for a purchase.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Pork and Beans

This was kind of a different take on traditional pork and beans. I had a pound or two of pork riblets in the freezer, and I am trying to use the meat more now that P is home. Well, we'll see. That might not hold for very long. I got accustomed to eating almost no meat, so I am starting to feel like I'm eating a lot of it. Anyway, this was yum. And I even took a picture (not pretty, but it exists at least). Miracle.

Anyway, hope you enjoy. And for those who don't eat meat, some TVP would probably be a good substitute for the pork, since it can be texturally variable. This really is designed to be tossed together in the morning before work, tended at lunch if there's time (or completely ignored if not), and munched on after work later. I like this kind of food because I don't have to be a responsible adult to still eat well.

1-2 pounds pork riblets
1-2 cups great northern or navy beans (to be honest, I totally didn't pay attention to quantities)
3 cups water
1 tablespoon mustard powder
1 large bay leaf
1/2 onion, diced

15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander seed powder
1 packet true orange (or 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange zest)
1 teaspoon - 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 teaspoons kosher salt

Combine first group of ingredients in slow cooker. Cook until beans are soft. Remove pork and let cool. Add second group of ingredients to slow cooker. Remove bones from pork, then chop the meat and return to slow cooker. Cook on high until the sauce is thick and reduced (if you get in a hurry, transfer it to a pot later and bring it to a boil to reduce). Serves 4. Awesome with Crystal's Hot Sauce. Will be good as leftovers on hamburger buns.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Butter Steak and Rice

Ok... I didn't take a picture... again. I was too excited to eat. We had steak, rice and roasted brussels sprouts.

Steak:

12 ounces ribeye
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper
1/4 cup vegetable broth
lemon juice to fill to measuring cup containing broth to 1/3 cup
1 tablespoon dried chives
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/8 cup canned or fresh mushrooms (I had canned)

Melt butter in a pan. Season steak lightly with salt and pepper. On high heat, fry steak in butter until it has reached desired level of doneness. Combine remaining ingredients in measuring cup. Remove steak from pan and keep warm. Keeping pan on high, add remaining ingredients and reduce to a thick-ish sauce. Pour over steak. Serve. Serves 2.

Rice:

1 cup rice
1 3/4 cup vegetable broth, minus 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons lemon juice
juice of 1 lime
salt to taste
1/2 onion, diced
1 tablespoon oil of your choice (I mixed vegetable and olive)

Heat saucepan. Add oil and onion. Fry until translucent. Add rice and lightly fry. Add liquids and salt. Bring to a boil. When boiling, reduce heat to low and cover. Cook ten minutes. Turn off heat and let sit, covered and undisturbed, for 15 minutes. Serve w/ Crystal's hot sauce. Serves 2.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fennel and Greens

I fried up some scallops last night (they were dressed in flour, fenugreek, salt, pepper, paprika and... something else; in the manner I think I've posted previously), and made some greens and Brazilian cheese bread for dinner last night. I'm just posting the greens today, though technically they're only half green. I didn't take any pictures, because I was famished.

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 large bulb fennel, sliced
1/4 cup diced onion

bundle of purslane
bundle of spinach
1/4-1/2 cup mint leaves, left whole
1/4 cup each: vegetable broth, lemon juice
salt and pepper if needed

Sweat oil, salt, pepper, onion and fennel over low heat until they are almost translucent. Add in remaining ingredients and wilt the greens. Serves 2.