Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mother of Invention Supper

How to make spaghetti and meatball supper when you don't have spaghetti and meatballs.
First, make the pasta sauce. While that's cooking boil or pressure cook the chick peas in water with a dollop of oil. Then make the polenta from corn meal water and salt. Enjoy slices of polenta topped with red sauce and freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese or Asiago on top and enjoy the garbanzos as mini meatballs! Delicious, colorful and filling.

Friday, April 23, 2010


When I eat something that I like, I always try to duplicate it myself. I have always loved Carr's Biscuits, and Hob Nobs those British cookies that are very wheaty and oaty and not too sweet.

Yesterday I made bannocks. I got the recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks: Marion Cunningham's The Breakfast Book. I used my food processor to grind the oats into flour and proceeded to follow the recipe using the machine for the whole recipe. I cut them with my two inch, scalloped-edged cookie cutter. They came out well and have a simple butter oat flavor. I sprinkled one with sugar, painted one with honey, one with melted bittersweet chocolate, and I had a few plain. They were all delicious and my husband loved them too. Marion suggests making them with cheddar cheese. I will have to try that--it would be like a healthy version of Cheez-its. Next time I make them I will try half wheat meal and a pinch of sugar to aim towards the Carr's Biscuits taste. I love anything that is wholesome and not too sweet, and goes well with good strong tea. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Geneen Roth

Our relationship to food is an exact microcosm of our relationship to life itself. I believe we are walking, talking expressions of our deepest convictions; everything we believe about love, fear, transformation and God is revealed in how, when and what we eat... If we are interested in finding out what we actually believe - not what we think, not what we say, but what our souls are convinced is the bottom-line truth about life and afterlife - we need go no further than the food on our plates. God is not just in the details; God is also in the muffins, the sweet potatoes and the tomato vegetable soup. God - however we define him or her - is on our plates.
-Geneen Roth, Women, Food and God

Monday, April 19, 2010

Pad Thai

Pad Thai is a favorite dish of mine. I have tried to reproduce it on my own based on the restaurant that was here in my neighborhood 13 years ago. I found a fabulous recipe for it in the New York Times today.


4 ounces fettuccine-width rice stick noodles
1/4 cup peanut oil
1/4 cup tamarind paste
1/4 cup fish sauce (nam pla)
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1 garlic clove, minced
2 eggs
1 small head Napa cabbage, shredded (about 4 cups)
1 cup mung bean sprouts
1/2 pound peeled shrimp, pressed tofu or a combination
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 limes, quartered.

1. Put noodles in a large bowl and add boiling water to cover. Let sit until noodles are just tender; check every 5 minutes or so to make sure they do not get too soft. Drain, drizzle with one tablespoon peanut oil to keep from sticking and set aside. Meanwhile, put tamarind paste, fish sauce, honey and vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and bring just to a simmer. Stir in red pepper flakes and set aside.

2. Put remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; when oil shimmers, add scallions and garlic and cook for about a minute. Add eggs to pan; once they begin to set, scramble them until just done. Add cabbage and bean sprouts and continue to cook until cabbage begins to wilt, then add shrimp or tofu (or both).

3. When shrimp begin to turn pink and tofu begins to brown, add drained noodles to pan along with sauce. Toss everything together to coat with tamarind sauce and combine well. When noodles are warmed through, serve, sprinkling each dish with peanuts and garnishing with cilantro and lime wedges.

Yield: 4 servings.
New York Times April 12, 2010

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Carpeted Supermarket

Its called Shop and Save. It's a former Almacs that sells beer and wine as well as groceries. I only go there once a year when I want variety, or to feel like I am grocery shopping in a horror movie with all of my former kindergarten teachers. I'm not sure why it feels like that, maybe it's that I don't recognize the brand names or that there's a brown carpet and low ceilings. It's cozy compared to the gigantic supermarkets we are used to but it's not exactly cuddly. I usually go there for just one or two things, like bananas and beer. I love grocery stores and loathe liquor stores, so I'll buy my beer at Stop and Shave and go up and down the aisles looking at the dusty boxes of wild rice and cubes of orange cheese and pre-sliced pepperoni on plastic party trays. Perhaps I don't get out enough. This time I needed to buy pasta. There was no angel hair so I bought linguini. I also had to buy a jar of spaghetti sauce, something I always feel is sacreligious but on this occasion a necessity. So I had a meal of linguine with generic spaghetti sauce, along with a bottle of beer - what fun! It was a delight. As much fun as a carpeted supermarket after a year of my regular grocery store.

Spaghetti Sauce

For as long as I can remember my mother made pasta sauce as procrastination whenever she was supposed to be working on her book. She made it in her yellow enameled Dansk pot she got from my stepfather Tony. He had these pots in the 50's when he was a bachelor with his own apartment in NYC. Pasta sauce making as procrastination is a family trait now spanning three generations. The results are delicious if not literary.

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (cheap at Job Lot)
2-4 small onions, chopped
2-6 garlic cloves, chopped
2-4 stalks celery, chopped
2-4 carrots, chopped
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed (or diced!) tomatoes
2-4 dried bay leaves
a bunch of freshly chopped flat parsley
a few sprigs of freshly chopped basil
a few leaves of fresh or dried oregano
a cup of sliced mushrooms
a cup or two of cubed eggplant with the skin left on
I also like to add a can of pitted black olives, chopped and some diced capers and a small tin of tomato paste. I also add a splash of leftover red wine.

In a large heavy pot, heat the oil. Add the onions and garlic and the celery, and carrots. Saute until all the vegetables are brightly colored, about 10-15 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and any other ingredients from this list that you have. Simmer uncovered. Enjoy!

quick tomato sauce

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes or diced
4 to 6 fresh or dried basil leaves
pinch of dried or fresh oregano leaves
2 dried bay leaves

Friday, April 16, 2010

Mr. Ashangi

In fifth grade my African dance teacher Mr. Ashangi from Kenya, came to our Social Studies class as a guest. He said dancing is as important as not dancing. Being still is as important as moving. Forty years later, I am still thinking about the importance of his message.


Lily just had her first swim in Harris Pond and on my way home I told my gardener friend Armand that I was turning over my garden this weekend. He said he just harvested his first crop of asparagus. I realized we probably have some too. So when I returned home I raced into the backyard and found a dozen stalks. I cut them, rinsed them, and ate them standing over the kitchen sink.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Galettes Bretonnes au Sarrasin

Breton Buckwheat Galettes
from: The Country Cooking of France
by Anne Willan

Makes twelve 12-inch/30-cm
or twenty-four 7-inch/18-cm gallettes to serve 6

The filling for a paper-thin Breton galette is always simple. The most popular, called a complet, includes ham and egg and often a spoonful of fresh cheese. You can ask for the egg to be brouille, briskly scrambled on the hot galette, or miroir, left untouched to bake on top. When the galette is pleated, the golden egg yolk peeps out of the crisp brown folds. One galette is a modest serving; most people eat two, sometimes even three. (If you use the smaller crêpe pan when making this recipe, four galettes is an average serving.) They go down well indeed with a pitcher of the local demi-sec cider.

1-3/4 cups/225 g buckwheat flour
1-3/4 cups/225 g unbleached white flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups/500 ml milk, more if needed
2 cups/500 ml water
1/2/110 g butter, clarified (see note below)
Fillings (recipes follow)
12-inch/30-cm flat, round griddle pan or 7-inch/18-cm crepe pan
(see note below)
For the batter, sift the 2 flours into a bowl and add the salt. Make a well in the center and pour 1 cup/250 ml of the milk into the well. Whisk the milk into the flour, forming a smooth paste. Whisk well for 1 minute, then add the remaining 1 cup milk in 2 batches, stirring well after each addition. Cover and let the batter rest at room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes. Stir in the water and beat again for 1 minute. If necessary, beat in more milk until the batter is the consistency of light cream. Stir in half of the clarified butter.

Warm the griddle pan or crepe pan over medium heat until very hot, at least 5 minutes. Dip a wad of paper towel into the remaining butter and rub it over the griddle. Heat the griddle 2 minutes longer, then test the heat with a few drops of batter; they should set at once. Wipe the griddle clean with the paper towel wad, and then rub it again with butter. Ladle batter onto the center of the hot griddle pan. Using a palette knife or pastry scraper, spread it with a turn of your wrist so the griddle is thinly and completely covered, tipping the griddle to discard excess batter into a bowl. Cook the galette quickly until lightly browned on the bottom, 30 to 60 seconds. Peel the galette off the griddle and flip it to color the other side. Note that a galette should not be browned too much, as it will be reheated with the filling. Transfer it to a plate.

If the first galette seems heavy, thin the batter with a little milk. Continue to cook the galettes, wiping the griddle clean with paper towels and rubbing it with butter as necessary to prevent sticking. Pile the finished galettes on top of one another to keep them warm. They may be tightly wrapped and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

Fillings for Galettes
Galette a L'Oeuf (Egg Galette)
Heat the griddle for at least 5 minutes, then rub it with clarified butter. Spread a galette on the griddle, browner side down. Break an egg in the center. For a scrambled egg: Quickly mix and spread the egg over the galette with a spatula, leaving a border at the edge. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and leave over the heat just long enough to cook the egg slightly, about 30 seconds. Fold in the edges of the galette on 4 sides to make a square with a gap in the center showing the egg. Slide it onto a warmed plate, top with a pat of salted butter, and serve hot. For an unbroken egg: Spread only the egg white on the galette and leave the yolk whole. When the egg yolk is starting to set, fold the galette up around the yolk so it is still visible, and slide the galette onto a warmed plate. Serve at once.

Galette au Fromage (Cheese Galette)
Heat the griddle for at least 5 minutes, and then rub it with clarified butter. Spread a galette on the griddle, browner side down. Brush it lightly with butter and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons grated Gruyere cheese. Leave for a few seconds to heat the galette and melt the cheese, and then fold the galette as for the egg galette and slide it onto a warmed plate. Serve at once.

Galette au Jambon (Ham Galette)
Heat the griddle for at least 5 minutes, then rub it with clarified butter. Spread a galette on the griddle, browner side down. Brush lightly with melted butter and spread a thin slice of cooked ham in the center. Leave for a few seconds to heat the galette and the ham, and then fold the galette as for the egg galette. Top it with a pat of butter, and slide it onto a warmed plate. Serve at once.

Clarifying Butter
Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat, skim the froth from the surface, and let cool to tepid. Pour the yellow, melted butterfat into a bowl, leaving the milky sediment at the bottom of the saucepan. When chilled, clarified butter will solidify; it may be refrigerated for up to 2 months.

Crêpe Pan
This small, round frying pan has shallow sides, which makes crêpes easy to flip or turn. Traditional crêpe pans are made of steel; they must be seasoned when new, and should be wiped with a damp cloth, not washed. Nonstick crêpe pans are easy to use, but crêpes cooked in them are thicker and do not brown as well.

-from The Country Cooking of France
by Anne Willan

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Buckwheat Waffles

I love buckwheat! One Christmas when our family said what would you like? I said buckwheat flour! Everyone gave me a bag. I stashed them in the freezer. I am still using it!

Buckwheat Waffles
1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour (I used organic Arrowhead Mills)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg
1 1/2 cups milk (skim or whole)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup oil (I used corn oil)
1 teaspoon real vanilla (RI Job Lot sells it inexpensively)

Mix wet and dry ingredients separately then combine.
Preheat waffle iron and brush on a teaspoon of corn oil. Pour batter into waffle iron-depending on the size of your waffle iron. My 1950's waffle iron waffles use about 1/2 cup of batter and bake for four minutes. These are so good as is, hot or cold. They don't even need butter and jam. You can freeze a bunch if you have leftovers and drop them in the toaster when you want a fast snack.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pyrex Rocks!

Pyrex rocks! Pyrex glassware that we find it all the time at yard sales, now holds our leftovers and the beauty is these dishes can go right into the microwave for easy warming.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Farm Fresh

I just went to Wright's Dairy Farm on Woonsocket Hill Road and pet the big mama Holsteins that were lying down on the cold gray clay in their stalls in the barn. Their heads were poking out of the bottom of the stalls. In the maternity barn there were five pregnant cows standing at the fence eating hay from the wooden trough. A few chickens with colorful plumage walking around pecking at the dirt and warbling. I went inside the bakery and bought some fresh milk and a dozen brown eggs.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Lindsay Sterling

Chef Lindsay Sterling has a great blog.

Check it out.

Chocolate for Breakfast

Spain has taught me to eat chocolate for breakfast. The Spanish go out at night until the wee hours of the morning, and then have a cup of chocolate for breakfast on their way home, before going to sleep.
-Alejandra Garcia

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Genevieve's Southwestern Warm Freekeh Salad

2 cups of cracked freekeh
Simmer w/5 c. filtered water until liquid is completely absorbed

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander powder
2 medium sized shallots chopped
1 can black beans drained and rinsed
1c. frozen corn or fresh corn sliced off the cob
1 jalapeno seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper chopped
1 handful chopped cilantro
juice from 1 lime
salt to taste, (Genevieve likes to use smoked salt as well as sea salt)

In a large skillet toast the cumin seeds in the olive oil until they become golden brown and fragrant
Add coriander powder and toast for 5 more seconds
Add shallots, jalapenos, bell peppers, corn, black beans, 1/2 tsp smoked salt, (optional) and sauté for 10 minutes or until shallots are translucent and beans have absorbed the spice flavor.

Combine freekeh with bean and corn mixture.

Toss with lime juice and cilantro, salt to taste.
serve warm.

Genevieve's Freekeh Salad with Apricot and Almonds

1 cup cracked freekeh
Simmer w/2.5 c. filtered water until liquid is completely absorbed
Allow freekeh to cool completely before adding other ingredients (you can add thechopped dried apricots and they will absorb some of the moisture while the grain cools)

1/2 cup sliced almonds – roasted in a frying pan until lightly brown
1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
1/3 cup chopped chives

for dressing:
1/8 cup good quality apple cider vinegar
½ tbsp grade B maple syrup (1 ½ teaspoons)
½ tbsp powdered ginger (1 ½ teaspoons)
1/4 cup grape seed oil (you can substitute olive oil)
Salt to taste

Dress salad and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes so that it can be absorbed

Serve on a bed of lettuce or on top of endive leaves (freekeh salad boats).


My pal Brittin Eustis "The Wheat Pimp" sent me this about freekah
A bit of history on freekeh: It is a process for harvesting and preserving green wheat that is cut when the kernel is still green and soft in the head. It is fire roasted to dry it and preserve it as a precooked product. Freekeh has been around for a few thousand years. The freekeh that I have tried from Turkey has very smoky flavor – so much so that you have to cut it with bulgur. The freekeh that we are importing from Australia has a less smoky, milder flavor that is very unique.

Here are some sites for more info on freekeh.

Spinach Pie

My life's goal is to make spinach pies as good as Jeanette's Bakery on Branch Ave in Providence. If you go, be sure to plan to get there early because they sell out every day by noon!
A Little Taste of ltaly Spinach Pie

1/4 cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons for the dough
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
6 bunches spinach, steamed, or 3 boxes frozen whole leaf spinach, defrosted, squeezed of any excess water
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoon golden raisins, soaked in water to cover (optional)
2 tablespoon pine nuts (optional)
1 recipe Pizza Dough

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Heat 1/4 cup of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach, salt and pepper to taste, raisins and pine nuts, if desired, and toss until the spinach is thoroughly coated and flavorful. Transfer the spinach mixture to a colander and let drain.

To make 2 large pies, divide the pizza dough into two equal rounds. Roll out one round into a 14-inch circle. Spread 1 tablespoon of the oil over the dough and place half the spinach mixture onto half of the rolled out dough. Fold the dough over the mixture to form a half moon, and seal the edges with the tines of a fork. Repeat with the remaining ball of dough. To make 8 small pies, divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, rolling them each into a 4- to 5-inch circle and dividing the spinach mixture equally among them. Fold and seal as directed above.

Transfer the pies to an oiled rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is lightly golden. Remove from the oven, cut into slices, and serve.

Makes 2 large pies or 8 small pies

Pizza Dough
4 cups all purpose unbleached flour, plus additional flour for kneading
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 package rapid rise yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil

Oil the inside of a large bowl and set aside. Combine the flour and salt in another large bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 cup of the warm water, the yeast, and the sugar and let the mixture stand for 5 to 10 minutes until the yeast blooms and bubbles appear. Gradually add the yeast mixture to the flour, mixing with your hands to combine. Gradually add the remaining water and finally the oil, mixing until the dough is soft and sticky. You may need a little more water to make the dough soft and elastic.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, working in more flour as needed. Or use an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in the oiled bowl. Turn it to coat with the oil, cover it with a damp towel or plastic wrap, and let it rise for about an hour, until it is one and a half times its original size. Punch down the dough and let it rest for about 1 hour.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and roll it out with a rolling pin to the size and shape to fill your pizza pan. Let it rise in the pan approximately 20 minutes before adding toppings and cooking.

Makes enough dough for two 16-inch pies, or one 12 x 18 inch Sicilian pie.

Mashed Potato Bender

I've been on a mashed potato bender ever since I discovered my microwave has a self cooking potato sensor. I rinse about six Maine or Idaho potatoes and place them on a plate and walk back upstairs into my office, after I've hit the potato button. After about a few minutes I smell the potatoes cooking. When I come back I put them in a glass bowl and mash them with my 1930's potato masher which looks like a monster movie robot ray gun. I add milk and butter or olive oil salt and freshly ground pepper and voila. I keep their jackets on. I eat this potato mash with fried eggs for breakfast or by itself for lunch or supper.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

John Thorne

When I dropped out of college in 1961, I ended up in a tenement apartment on the Lower East Side, with the bathtub next to the kitchen sink. But this was still a time when cooking seemed relatively obvious, and when it wasn't, you looked at the directions on the package. My problems came about when I bought food that was not part of the family repertoire, chicken gizzards, for example. I had no idea what to expect from them, so I had no idea as to whether I had cooked them properly. It reminds me of the time my mother encountered an avocado but confused it with an artichoke. Close, in a way, no? Still, the results were not a success. I ate a lot of scrambled eggs at first, then branched out to cooking hamburger and chopped onion, then stirring in frozen peas. And on and on. Anyone for more kasha and chicken gizzards?
-John Thorne

John Thorne

Perfection is as false an economy in cooking as it is in love, since, with carrots or potatoes as with lovers, the perfectly beautiful are all the same; the imperfect, different in their beauty, every one.
-John Thorne, Simple Cooking