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Archive for the ‘Dinner’ Category

Ratatouille

Adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook

My Mom recently gave me this cookbook which she had autographed by the author Amanda Hesser:

“for jeannette-
eat like you mean it!

 all the best, amanda hesser”

Very cool.  It’s an immense cookbook, both in terms of content and actual size. It includes a compilation of the best recipes published in the New York Times over the past 150 years(!).  The most interesting part is the timeline set out in the beginning of each chapter that chronicles food trends for each decade (did you know the Caesar salad came into vogue in the 1940’s?). This fun feature and the author’s own comments for each recipe almost makes you forget that there are no pictures (this usually drives me crazy- what is it supposed to look like?!).

This is the first recipe I’ve made from the cookbook- a great way to use up an abundance of summer vegetables!

Ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1 medium squash
  • 1 medium zuchinni
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced thin
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme or oregano (or 1/2
    tsp. dried)
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, peeled and cored
  • 6 basil leaves, finely chopped

Directions

Chop squash and zucchini into 1/2 inch cubes. Trim ends of eggplant but do not peel. Cut into 1/2 inch slices and cut each slice into large cubes. Generously sprinkle the eggplant with salt and place in a colander. Weight it down with a plate and let stand for one hour to drain (I was skeptical, but it really does drain liquid! but in a pinch, I bet you could skip this step).

Place heavy skillet over medium heat and add oil. When hot, add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until onion is soft, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the eggplant, zucchini, squash, herbs and pepper. Add bay leaf and cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

Chop tomatoes and add them to the eggplant, along with the basil. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until thick. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve hot or cold. We enjoyed it over couscous and again over slices of thick bread.

*Notes: the recipe was originally printed in the New York Times on June 3, 1965: “A Flair for Languages can Add Flavor to Menus” by Craig Claiborne.  The
recipe was adapted from Mrs. Jacques Kayaloff (although the notes in the cookbook state that the recipe may actually be the work of Mrs. Kayaloff’s cook, Lee Faith).

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Gazpacho

It is blazing hot here in D.C. and a cold bowl of gazpacho soup is the perfect thing to eat. Especially when you have a new Cuisinart Food Processor!  This recipe is my mother-in-law’s and it is the best gazpacho recipe- ever. It’s flavorful, chunky and so thick that you can stand a piece of bread up in it. Just the way I like it! As soon as I got the food processor home and unpacked, this is one of the first things I wanted to make! MUCH easier than chopping all the ingredients by hand and less messy than making it in a blender.  


 
Ingredients 
 
6 tomatoes
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 medium red onion
1 medium green pepper
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp vinegar (red wine or sherry)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
pinch of sugar
2 slices day old bread (country white or Italian chopped in cubes) (optional)
1 cup water or 1 1/2 cups tomato juice
Hot sauce (to taste) 
 
Directions
Plunge tomatoes into a big pot of boiling water for 30 seconds (this makes it easier to peel). Remove from water, peel and chop. Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Serve with fresh basil leaves.  Simple as that! This soup tastes even better the next day, after being refrigerated for awhile. It may become too thick, and if so, you can add more water or the tomato juice to reach your desired consistency (we like ours pretty chunky).

And a picture of Tony in our Garden for good measure!

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Ratatouille

The summer is over and the start of my favorite season is here- FALL! Therefore, it is fitting that my last (and only!) post this September is for Ratatouille- the perfect recipe for all of those end of summer vegetables. In fairness, I’ve probably made this every week this month so it’s ok that it is the only thing I’ve posted…

It’s a really easy recipe that can be adapted a million different ways depending on what ingredients you have on hand and how you want to eat it. I’ve had it over rice, couscous, bread, salad… you name it. I know a lot of recipes have you cut the veggies in round slices and bake them in layers, but I prefer more of a mash up of veggies that you can cook directly on the stove top.

So here is my recipe:

Ratatouille

Ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant (peeled* and cut into 1-inch cubes)
  • 1 yellow pepper (chopped)
  • 1 red or orange pepper (chopped)
  • 1 medium yellow onion (chopped)
  • 1 or 2 tomatoes (chopped) or 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium squash or zucchini (or both) (chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced or chopped)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch fresh basil (about ½ cup) (chopped)
  • 1-2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Optional: toasted pine nuts, cheese (ricotta salata, goat cheese or mozzarella are all good!)

Directions

Add olive oil, eggplant, and squash/zucchini to large skillet over high heat and sauté until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Add onions and, if needed, more olive oil, and cook until onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add peppers and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, thyme, salt and pepper. Reduce heat, cover, and cook until everything is tender, about 20 minutes. Once everything has cooked down and all of the veggies are tender (but not too mushy), add fresh basil. If you want, you can serve it topped with cheese and/or pine nuts.

*I’ve used both peeled and unpeeled eggplant and it definitely tastes more bitter when you leave the skin on- so take the extra time to peel it.

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Go make this right now. Seriously. It is THAT good. 

If you have an end-of-summer abundance of tomatoes from your garden like we do (or just couldn’t control yourself at the farmer’s market) you might be thinking outside the tomato-basil-mozzarella box. I know, it’s ridiculous to think one would even have this problem, but we did. We can’t eat them fast enough and I will not let the birds have them!

That’s how I came across this recipe and am forever grateful. Fresh tomatoes are wonderful just by themselves, but I promise you’ll be happy with this dish! At first I didn’t know why it was called “scalloped” tomatoes. But then I realized it is sort of like a gratin or scalloped potatoes dish- but not as cheesy. It’s more like a tomato bake. It’s so simple- only four main ingredients- and just tastes like summer. Enjoy!

Scalloped Tomatoes

source: Smitten Kitchen adapted from Ina Garten 

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 cups French bread, cut 1/2-inch diced (I included crusts)
  • 2 1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes, cut in half (or any good tomatoes will work)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (you could use less since the cherry tomatoes are already sweet)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup thinly slivered basil leaves
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high. Add the bread cubes and stir, making sure they are evenly coated with oil. Toast the bread cubes, tossing frequently, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl. When the bread cubes are toasted, add the tomato mixture to the pan and cook them together, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in the basil. Pour into a shallow baking dish and top with Parmesan cheese. Bake 35 to 40 minutes until the top is browned and the tomatoes are bubbly.

 

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We took advantage of the long 4th of July weekend and went up to my parents’ house in NY, aka “Camp Croton”- because going there is like “summer camp” for our city dog, Bailey, with all of the hiking, swimming, and playing he does, not to mention the treats (Dad…).  It’s also like “camp” for us humans too (for all of the same reasons) so the name has stuck! This time, in addition to hammocking (yes, it’s a verb), swimming, canoeing, and indulging in whatever delicious baked goods my mother decided to make that day, we took a day trip to Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, NY and took a pesto making class! Stone Barns is a “farm” (which is a complete understatement) that also has an education center, hiking grounds, cooking classes, and a farmer’s market. Its mission is “to celebrate, teach and advance community-based food production and enjoyment, from farm to classroom to table.”  

The Blue Hill at Stone Barns restaurant is also on the property, which doesn’t have an actual menu but instead offers a 5 or 8 course dinner customized by the chef based on the table’s preferences and what is fresh and seasonal that day. We snuck a peek inside and it looked like they were setting up for a wedding that day! We opted for iced tea and scones at the less formal, but equally lovely (not mention more financially appropriate), Blue Hill Cafe. 🙂

But first, we met our group and learned how to make farm fresh pesto! 

 The first stop was the drying cellar where the garlic is stored. We selected a number of cloves- I had no idea how many varieties of garlic there are! We did a tasting but to be honest, I couldn’t really tell the difference. The type we used for the pesto was Music Garlic.

Next stop was the garden where we picked our fresh basil…

Then we headed into the kitchen/classroom where we split up into groups and were assigned tasks.

We got off easy- our job was slicing the bread!

The instructor put all of the ingredients into a blender and then  passed the pesto around for everyone to taste.

The product of our hard work! 🙂  

At the end of the class each person received a bulb of garlic to take home and plant, store, or eat!

On the way out we saw this sign posted on the wall and thought it was hysterical!

We hiked around the property afterwards and found these guys out in the pasture.

They didn’t look like they were moving anywhere (sorry, lea…).

They handed out recipe cards at the end of class which included a number of different pesto recipes. One that caught my attention when the instructor mentioned it was Kale Pesto. As luck would have it, we received a huge bunch of kale in our CSA delivery the next week. Naturally, we decided to make Kale Pesto! So we got ourselves a crusty loaf of bread, dusted off the blender, and employed our newly honed pesto making skills to make this electric GREEN Kale Pesto: 

Kale Pesto

  • ¼- ½ cup pine nuts (or walnuts)
  • ½ -1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ pound kale, stems removed, coarsely chopped (2-3 bunches)
  • 1 cup basil (1 large bunch)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Black pepper to taste

Add all ingredients except oil to blender or food processor and blend until combined. Slowly drizzle in oil and continue to blend until you reach the desired consistency. *my note: all measurements are really just estimates and depend on your personal taste-if you like it spicy, add more garlic; if you like a more chunky pesto, use less oil; etc… I want to try it with walnuts next time!  

In addition to just slathering it on bread and devouring enjoying it, we also made a simple pesto pasta by tossing it with some cherry tomatoes (from our garden!) and spaghetti rigate. I mention the pasta type because this kind has little ridges in the spaghetti which really catch and hold onto the pesto! Delicious!

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Last week, we received a large bunch of leafy mustard greens in our CSA bag. I’ve never had mustard greens before and wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. I rinsed the greens and took a bite- whoa! it was spicy! I didn’t expect that. So I did a little research and found this recipe for a bulgur salad with dates that seemed like a good way to compliment the bitter, spicy green. It was delicious! I will definitely make this again this summer. It’s an easy recipe to modify too- I made a number of changes including using buckwheat instead of bulgur (because it’s what I had in the pantry); I added chick peas (for more satiety/protein); and sprinkled freshly grated parm on top (just because!). I imagine this would work with kale or swiss chard too, but I think the mustard greens and the dates are a magic combo!  

   

Mustard Greens and Bulgar

from EatingWell (January/February 2008)  

 Ingredients

  • 1 cup bulgur (I used buckwheat, but any grain would probably work)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 can chick peas, optional (I threw these in for extra protein)
  • 6 teaspoons walnut oil, or extra-virgin olive oil, divided (I used evoo)
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 12 cups thinly sliced mustard greens, (about 1 bunch), tough stems removed
  • 1/3- 1/2 cup chopped pitted dates (I used ½ cup because I love dates!)
  • 2-3 tablespoons water
  • 4 teaspoons white-wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese  

Directions

Prepare bulgur or buckwheat according to package directions. Transfer to a colander and rinse under cool water; drain. Toast walnuts in a small pan over medium-low heat, stirring, until lightly browned and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes (I did this is the toaster oven).

Place 5 teaspoons oil and shallots in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Cook until the shallots start to brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add mustard greens, dates and 2 tablespoons water and cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens are tender and the water evaporates (add another tablespoon of water if the pan is dry before the greens are tender), about 4 minutes. Stir in vinegar, salt and the prepared bulgur or buckwheat; cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Drizzle with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, sprinkle with the walnuts and grated parm before serving.

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We recently joined a CSA (“community supported agriculture”) called Harvest Delivered!

 

Our friend Andrea is a member and she recommended it to us. We looked into a bunch of CSAs and liked the flexibility offered by this one.  We pay by the week, there is no annual fee, and we can stop delivery any week (if we’re out of town or for any reason). This was important to us because our main hesitation was that we wouldn’t use all of the produce delivered and it would go to waste (and be a waste of $$$). We signed up for a 1-2 person delivery and so far the amount has been just right for the two of us. Oh, and they also deliver right to your door! So we don’t have to go to any out of the way pick-up point once a week. This was also a huge plus for us! So this will be a fun challenge to find new and fun ways to use the fruit and veggies each week! (see new category on the right)

Our first week’s loot included some beautiful and colorful Swiss Chard! So I decided the most efficient (and tasty) way to use the produce was to make a frittata! It was a great summer weeknight meal and also provided lunch for the both us a few days after. That’s my kind of dish!

Swiss Chard Frittata

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs
  • 4 leaves Swiss Chard, chopped (stems removed and chopped separately into ½ inch pieces)
  • 4 small potatoes, diced  
  • 2 green onions, chopped (white and very light green parts only)
  • ½ large yellow onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ – ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1-2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Splash of milk

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place potatoes in a saucepan; cover with water and bring to a boil; cook approx. 8 minutes, until fork tender. Drain and cool. Set aside. In the meantime, whisk eggs, a splash of milk, salt, pepper and the parm cheese in a bowl. Heat oil in an ovenproof pan over medium-high heat. Add Swiss chard stalks, yellow onion and green onion, and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add Swiss chard leaves and cook until wilted and tender, about 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Add potatoes. Pour egg mixture over vegetables evenly. Place pan in the oven and bake until the eggs have set, about 15 minutes. Serve on top of a bed of mixed greens for a light dinner and/or lunch.

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