Thursday, June 2, 2016

Puntenesca Calzone

I made up the dough recipe for this one.  I was running low on all my flours and couldn't pick "just one".  It came out a nice mix of white and wheat.  A little crispy (bread flour) and a little chewy (all-purpose flour) with a smacking of whole wheat flavor.  I will probably keep these rations for future calzones, but for pizza I still prefer the "beer pizza dough" recipe I have, but I didn't have beer or enough flour to use it today. 

makes 4 calzones

for the dough
1 and 1/4 cups water
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups bread flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dries basil
1/2 teaspoon diced italian parsley
1.5 teaspoons active dry yeast

for the tomatoes
1.5 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, washed
1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

for the filling
1/4 large yellow onion, diced
1 pint of shiitakes, chopped
8 oz pack of frozen chopped spinach, thawed
7-8 garlic stuffed green olives, sliced
2 or 3 teaspoons of lemon juice
2 cups grated smoked provolone (or smoked mozzarella)
  1. Make dough with the dough ingredients.  I use the dough setting on my bread machine so I dont have to kneed/let rise. I am pretty sure it rises twice.
  2. Preheat the broiler with the top rack about 6-8 inches from heat source.  Wisk together everything for the tomatoes except the tomatoes until its a thick dark red mess. Fold in the whole tomatoes being careful not to puncture any. Place them all on small roasting tray and place under broiler. Cook until there is a noticeable black char on more than half the tomatoes - about 8-10 minutes. Don't be afraid to over cook.  Place roasted tomatoes (and all the juices) in large mixing bowl.
  3. Sauté the onions in a small amount of olive oil over medium heat for 6 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and two pinches of salt. Cook until most of the moisture from the shrooms has cooked away.  Add to the large mixing bowl.
  4. Squeeze all the water out of the thawed chopped spinach and add to the large mixing bowl, pulling into small pieces as you do so.  Add the lemon juice.
  5. Everything except for the dough and the cheese should be in the mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula fold all the contents together.
  6. Add the sliced olives to the large mixing bowl.
  7. Preheat the over to 375 and place the rack in the middle of the oven.  Quarter the dough and make four 10-inch rounds.  Let the rounds sit for about 10 minutes, the dough will shrink.  Rework the dough to reform the 10-inch rounds.
  8. Place one quarter of the filling off to one side of the rounds, leaving a border.  Top with the cheese.  Fold the other side of the dough over and roll the to separate edges together to seal in the goodness.
  9. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the top is golden.
I wasn't sure if I should cut vents in the top to let the steam out, so I experimented by putting two small incision on two of the four on my first attempt.  My conclusion: the vents are not necessary for this recipe.  Maybe because there was less steam because most of the water had already been cooked out of the mushrooms?  Or maybe because I the thawed spinach was squeezed dry?  Who knows, but you do not have to vent the calzones.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Eggplant Jambalaya

1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup unsalted butter
3 medium celery ribs, finely chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 tsp salt
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 eggplant, peeled and cubed
1 small bunch fresh thyme
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp cayanne pepper
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 TB tom paste
1 TB soy sauce
1 TB hoisin (or any plum sauce)
dash of liquid smoke
1.5 cups white rice
3 cups veg stock
4 links of To*furky Chorizo Style Meatless Sausage.

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Heat oil an butter over med high heat.  Add celery, peppers, onion, salt and 1 tsp of Paprika.  Cook, stirring occasionally until veggies are browned (10 minutes). 
  2. Add eggplant, Thyme, Pepper, Chipotle and remaining paprika.  Cook for 10 minutes, stirring, until the eggplant softens (and begins to "melt").  
  3. Stir in garlic and tom paste and cook for 1 minute.  
  4. Add the Soy Sauce, Hoisin and liquid smoke, stir, cook 1 minute.  
  5. Add rice and stir to combine.  Add the veg stock and bring to low boil.  Remove from heat, cover and place in oven for 25 minutes.  Remove from oven (DO NOT UNCOVER) and let sit away from heat for 10-15 minutes.    Fluff with fork. 
  6. While the Jambalya is sitting, slice To'Furky Sausange into discs and place on cookie sheet.  Cook them in the oven (still at 350 degrees) for about 8 minutes.  Add them to Jambalya after "fluffing". 

Serve with crusty baguette and hot sauce. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Vegetarian/Vegan Italian Wedding Soup

Last week I realized I hadn't had Italian Wedding Soup since I stopped eating meat.  All the recipes I found used "vegan meatballs" and I didn't want that.  My favorite non-vegetarian version of this soup had chick pea sized meatballs and that got me thinking: WHY DON'T  I USE CHICK PEAS IN PLACE OF MEATBALLS?!?!?!?!  Here is what I came up with.  It took under an hour from start to finish.  The end result is a hearty vegetable soup that, with a salad and garlic bread, makes a satisfying meal.
extra virgin olive oil
1.5 cup finely diced onion
3 cloves garlic, two minced
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced celery
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tablespoon minced basil
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
8 cups vegetable stock
1 cup uncooked ditalini or orzo pasta
1.5 cans chick peas, drained and rinsed until water runs clear *
1 8 oz package of spinach +
salt and pepper

  1.  Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat.  Add the onion and  the two minced garlic cloves and cook about 5 minutes.  
  2. Add the carrot and celery and cook for 7 minutes.
  3. Stir in the oregano and basil and cook for about 30 seconds.  Add the stock and parsley and bring to boil and reduce heat.
  4. Add pasta and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the chick peas and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. In a saute pan with high heat add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and add the last garlic clove.  After clove starts to color, about 3-4 minutes, add all the spinach and cover.  Cook for 2 minutes.  Turn heat off and using tongs stir the spinach.  Cover and let sit off heat for another 2 minutes.
  6. Remove garlic clove from spinach and add the spinach to the soup.  Simmer for another 5 minutes and remove from heat.
  7. Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve garnished with grated Parmesan or Percorino cheese. If you don't add cheese this is a vegan recipe.

* This may seem annoying, but 1 can was not enough and 2 cans seemed like too many.  Use your left overs on a salad or something.  Or roast them.  Or just put 2 full cans in the soup.  It's up to you, I don't care. 

+ You could also use a pack of frozen chopped spinach.  Thaw it and then drain the water.  Skip step 5 and just add the thawed spinach to pot in step 6.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Spinach/Squash Tart

1/2 of a puff pastry square that has been cut in half to make two 4.5 by 4.5 inch squares
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup white onion, diced
1/3 cup bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
Red pepper flakes
Leftover spaghetti squash, about 1 and 1\2 cups
1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 wedge of your favorite Laughing Cow spreadable cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Put pastry squares on sheet tray and using a fork poke holes all over. Bake for 12 minutes, spinning tray halfway. Remove from oven and let cool.
  2. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a medium sauté pan on medium-hugh heat. Add the onions, peppers and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, stirring a few times. 
  3. Stir in the garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook for thirty seconds then add the spaghetti squash and spinach. Reduce heat and cover to heat mixture throughout - about 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile take the cooled puff pastry and, using a pearing knife, draw a square - leaving a border - on the top of the puff party. Push down gently and the center should collapse leaving a square bowl shape.
  5. Spread half of the Laughing Cow wedge inside each of the pastry bowls. Pack the squash/veggie mixture on top (you will have some leftover) and serve!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Yum Yum Quinoa Salad

It's been two months since my last recipe post.  Nothing wrong with that.  I spent a lot of the holiday season using the Cooking For Two book by America's Test Kitchen.  I have had it for a few years, but haven't opened it since I stopped eating land meat two years ago.  They have some wonderful things in there.

Tonight I wanted to do a quinoa side for our veggie burgers.  I was originally going to do a hot dish like a pilaf or my Masala Style Quinoa but the wife suggested something raw and salad like to keep in the fridge.  During the summer I rotate a few different cold salads that I make in large batches.  A few bites of something like that is better than three handfuls of Cheez Its when the munchies strike.  (I still always keep the Cheez Its near, just eat a lot less in a sitting.)

Yum Yum Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa, rinsed until the water runs clear
2 cups water
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 zucchini, julienned
1 cup broccoli florets (if frozen then thawed)
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
2-3 tablespoons sun dried red pepper, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, washed and chopped
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup of fresh herb(s)
1/2 lime

  1. In a medium pot with lid, stir in quinoa, water and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Bring to boil, cover, lower heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes (or until all the water is gone).  After cooking dump into large bowl and let cool completely. 
  2. Coat the bottom of a medium saute pan with 1 or 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Once hot, add the shallot and saute for about 3 minutes, add the zucchini and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Cook for 5-6 minutes.  Then stir in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.  Remove from heat immediately and cool.
  3. To the bowl of cooled quinoa add the shallot mixture, broccoli, corn, red pepper, cilantro, tomatoes and fresh herbs (for this one I used a mix of cilantro and basil).  Stir to combine.
  4. Dress with the juice of (about) 1/2 lime and (about) 2 tablespoons of olive oil, to taste.  Season with Salt and pepper.  You won't need to add a lot of salt because the zucchini provide a sodium dose already. 
Add some extra fresh ground pepper when serving.  It really makes the other flavors jump into each other.

This will keep in the fridge for up to a week.  The complete protein found in the quinoa will fill you up better and much longer than a regular snack or salad.  For your health!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Jalapeño-Butternut-Cauliflower Soup

There is a great farm stand every Thursday near my wife's office.  She stops by and brings me things to cook with.  Last week she came home with a bag of rainbow cauliflower.  I had never seen red or orange or purple or green cauliflower before.  We are planning on using a bunch on a home-made pizza later tonight, but this afternoon I decided to combine the orange cauliflower with butternut squash to make soup.  Nothing beats the subtle heat of a jalapeño pepper so I threw some in too!  The brown sugar balanced nicely off the heat.

2 TBSP vegetable oil
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 rib of celery, chopped
1/4 tsp Caraway seeds, crushed with mortar and pestle
1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
1 1/2 TBSP brown sugar
3 cups of cubed butternut squash
2 cups of orange cauliflower
1/4 cup dry, unoaked white wine
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup water
salt & pepper

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot on medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add the onion and garlic and cook for about 6 minutes, until the pieces start to brown.
  2. Add the carrot, celery, Caraway seeds, jalapeño and brown sugar.  Stir to combine and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the squash and cauliflower.  Stir to combine and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the wine, stock and water.  Bring to boil, turn heat down to medium and simmer for 25 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and puree.  Salt and pepper to taste.
When serving try topping with a small smacking of non-fat sour cream and some sliced scallions (or chives).

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Leftover Spaghetti Squash?

My wife makes a spaghetti squash dish about three times a month.  She always varies the toppings and it's always good.  One thing: there is always leftovers.  We have used the leftover squash as a pizza topping, cold on salads and the other day I wanted to come up with something different.  Then it hit me:  Why not make latkes and replace the potato with squash?  I did a web search and didn't find anything exactly like my idea, so I came up with this recipe.  I decided to incorporate a small amount of grated potato into the mixture in order to ensure a crispy crust.  After one [successful] attempt I am sure that you could omit the potato entirely, but I think I will leave it in.

Squaghetti Squash Latkes
        makes 6 cakes

2+ cups cooks cooked and "pulled" spaghetti squash
1 small russet potato grated on the largest hole (about 3/4 cups)
1 smallish medium onion, diced
1 Roma tomato, diced
1 tsp Mexican oregano
10 coriander seeds
10 caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, diced
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon panko bread crumbs
2 eggs

  1. Toss the squash and potato with some salt and place in a colander and place this into a bowl.  Place a few layers of folded paper towels on top and add a weight (like 2 or 3 stacked pint glasses).  Let sit for about 30 minutes.  The salt will pull water out and it will drain.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium heat in a medium frying pan. While heating crush oregano, seeds and pepper flakes using a mortar and pestle.  Add the diced garlic and set aside.
  3. Add the onion to the pan and cook for 6 minutes, until they start to brown.  Add the tomato and cook another 6 minutes, stirring frequently, until the liquid from the tomatoes has mostly evaporated.
  4. Stir in the seed/herb mixture and cook for about 30 seconds.  Remove onion/herb mixture from pan and let cool.
  5. Take the squash/potato mixture from colander and place in large mixing bowl.  Stir in the cooled onion mixture, cornstarch, panko and season with salt and pepper.  
  6. Fold in the two eggs.
  7. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup form cakes from the mixture.  This should yield about six cakes.  Let cakes sit for about 12 minutes before cooking.
  8. Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan, enough to coat, and add three cakes.  Cook, undisturbed, for about 4 minutes.  Shake the pan to loosen the cakes and cook another two minutes before flipping and cooking for an additional 6 minutes.  Place cooked cakes on a paper towel lined plate.  Cook the remaining cakes, adding oil as needed. 
Serve with a dollop of pesto and a side salad.