Monday, February 2, 2015

Pasta Frittata

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Ever since I heard that Italians made a frittata with leftover pasta I’ve been wanting to try one. Nonna ate plenty of leftover pasta for breakfast, and Nana reheated pasta all the time with a tiny bit of water to keep it from drying out, but neither of them ever mixed it with an egg, nor had they fried it in olive oil.
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For more years than I can remember, we never accumulated leftover pasta. But now, I find myself not eating portions as large as they used to be, so on this occasion the leftovers were available, although there wasn’t a large amount. I had about a cup of leftover perciatelli, that is a bit wider than spaghetti, made with my standard meat sauce and sprinkled with Pecorino Romano cheese, so I mixed it a little at a time with 3 extra large eggs.
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I heated a non stick frying pan with a little extra virgin olive oil and brought it to a medium temperature, then added the egg and pasta mixture. I lowered the heat slightly and when the edges looked brown, took a peek underneath to see of it looked ready to turn over. With a spatula I did turn over the frittata.
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It was a beautiful golden brown, so I cooked the 2nd side to match, then plated the entire thing. This dish could work very well as part of a brunch menu.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Monkey Shine

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I’m now getting curious as to whether or not I can come up with a good cocktail recipe. The answer would have to be no because everything I like to drink is sweet, so a serous mixologist would have a good laugh at my expense. However a drink to be served with dessert is right up my alley.

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It amazes me that we have accumulated so much alcohol, since I barely drink, but manage to do the lion’s share of the purchasing in our household. Anyway, I had many wonderful items to select from to create my first dessert drink. Naming it was fun and definitely based on the fact that I mixed a coconut syrup and banana flavored vodka into the concoction.

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Wanting to use up some dark colored Creme de Cacao that my husband bought, I started with a jigger of that, then went on to add a jigger of the banana flavored vodka. This drink was loosely based on a Black Russian

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To continue with the tropical elements of the drink, I decided to use 1 tablespoon of a coconut flavored simple syrup and closed with a tablespoon of Half & Half. It was really good! If you like a White Russian you should have no trouble drinking this.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Farro and Wild Rice

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I believe I have become an expert at using up leftover wild rice, when I see small amounts left in the package. It can add flavor and texture to soups and now it can work well at improving eye appeal when mixed with farro as a whole grain side dish. Since they both take the same amount of time to cook, they make great partners.

Ingredients:

1C farro

1/2C wild rice

2 1/2C water

2 porcini bouillon cubes

1oz dried porcini

 

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Boil the water over a high flame and add the bouillon cubes to flavor this side dish. Rinse the grains, drain and add to the boiling broth.

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Bring the broth to a rolling boil, then add the dried porcini mushrooms and stir thoroughly. Cover the pot with a lid and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, check to see if all the liquid has been absorbed. Continue simmering until the grain has fully absorbed all the broth and when it does remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Add a pat of butter if you’d like and fluff up the grain before serving.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Merguez Lamb Sausage and Dal Soup

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Whenever I see Merguez sausages as a specialty grocer I buy a few packages. This recipe was the first time I ever used them to flavor a soup and it proved to be a good concept.

Ingredients:

4-6 Merguez sausages

1 medium yellow onion

2small interior stalks of celery

2t dried thyme leaves

2T extra virgin olive oil

2C dal (orange lentils)

Water to cover by 2” (8-10C)

 

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Finely dice the onion and celery stalks with leaves and saute in a small amount of olive oil before adding the thyme.

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Slice the Merguez sausages into 1/4 –1/2 pieces and add to the onions and celery. continue to saute until the meat looks lightly cooked. Browning the meat will make the soup richer in taste, but doing so may also over cook the onions which could burn and become bitter tasting. If you want to brown the meat, first push the onions and celery to the edge of the pot and move that portion of the pot slightly off the burner.

 

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Rinse the dal, add to the pot and fill the pot with water so there is 2” of water above the surface of the other ingredients. Boil the water, stir the ingredients and turn the heat down to low. Cover with a lid and stir every 15 minutes until the soup is ready. The red lentils will be soft when the soup is ready.

 

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When I try this recipe again I plan to add diced Yukon gold potatoes towards the end of the cooking process, to enhance the texture of this dish. By the time I took it off the heat, the lentils had completely broken down.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Cumin Seed Omelette

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Ingredients:

2-3 eggs

milk

3 sprigs cilantro

cheddar cheese

1t cumin seeds

butter or extra virgin olive or both

 

This was easily one of the best omelettes I have ever made. I wanted a Mexican flavor so after whipping up 2 eggs and thinning the batter with a splash of milk, I decided to make use of the cumin seeds in the pantry. I heated a frying pan with olive oil and a pat of butter and proceeded to toast the seeds, then added the eggs on top and lowered the heat.

As the eggs were starting to set around the edge of the frying pan, I shredded some sharp cheddar cheese and tossed a small handful into the pan. I added the chopped cilantro, then folded the omelette over on itself to finish cooking.

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I tried some taco sauce on part of it, but preferred it without.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cranberry Stilton Salad

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Ingredients:

Romaine lettuce

Red Salad Bowl lettuce

Cranberry Stilton Cheese

red onion

extra virgin olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Salt and crushed pepper

 

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Cut or tear the washed lettuce, pat dry with a cotton kitchen towel and add to a large mixing bowl. Slice the red onion very thin and add to the lettuce. Drizzle lightly with the olive oil, add salt and freshly cracked black pepper, then toss the salad. Crumple the stilton over the top of the salad and add the Balsamic vinegar.

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Now all you need to do is toss the salad lightly and plate. This is a refreshing and slightly sweet salad that reminds me of warm weather even in the winter or our overcast summers in San Francisco. It also works well with Apricot Stilton.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake

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As it often does, Thanksgiving rolled around again, and I needed a new dessert to serve, so what better idea than to include pumpkin as a flavoring. It also gave me the opportunity to use some crystallized ginger that I had purchased some months ago. I often mention that new pantry items help me to create my recipes and Trader Joe’s pumpkin flavored caramel sauce was one such item used in this recipe along with their pumpkin butter. I made the recipe a week ahead so I could work out the type of topping to use.

 

Ingredients for Crust:

1 3/4C crushed gingersnap cookies

1C almond meal

1/2C sugar

1 cube unsalted butter

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After finely crushing the gingersnaps by placing them inside a large plastic bag and mashing them with a rolling pin, combine with the other dry ingredients, then with a fork mix in the room temperature butter until it is distributed throughout the other ingredients. If you squeeze some together in your hand and it does not crumble away and lose its shape it is ready to press into a spring form pan. If it does not hold its shape it needs more butter added gradually until it holds it shape. Set aside in the refrigerator.

Ingredients for Cheesecake:

3 8oz packages of Philadelphia Cream cheese

1 extra large eggs

1C sugar

1t vanilla paste

1C pumpkin pie filling

1T pumpkin pie spice

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Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Mix the room temperature cream cheese until creamy, then add the sugar and cream together. Add the vanilla flavoring and mix again, adding the eggs and beating until fully incorporated and creamy. Add the pumpkin pie filling and spice together, then mix into the cream cheese batter until very smooth.

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Remove the crust from the refrigerator and fill it with the cheese cake batter. Place it in the oven on a center rack and bake approximately 45 minutes. Test with a toothpick to see if it is cooked. If the toothpick is not dry, it needs another 5 minutes. It’s important to fully cook a cheese cake or it will sink in the middle with the weight of the topping. After it is cooked, set it aside to cool while you make the topping.

Ingredients for Topping:

1 pint sour cream

2T sugar

1t vanilla paste

1 small jar pumpkin caramel

4 oz chopped toasted pecans

4 oz chopped crystallized ginger

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Mix together the sour cream, sugar and vanilla paste. Spread it over the cheesecake. I usually start at the outside rim and work it toward the center so the thickest amount of topping is at the edge of the pan in hopes that it will keep the cheesecake from sinking in the middle. Place it back in the over for 10 minutes to set.

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On my first try, I decided to add pumpkin butter to the top of the cheesecake to secure the white chocolate  and also the pecans and ginger. The pumpkin butter had a lemon taste that I didn’t like, so ultimately I used the leftover canned pie filling instead to add another layer of pumpkin to the final product. By dividing the cake in half I could try two different types of finished topping. I like the grated white chocolate, but wanted something with more texture so I then added the toasted pecans and chopped crystallized ginger to the other half. Pretty good, but not perfect. I drizzled the pumpkin flavored caramel over them and had my “eureka “ moment.

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On Thanksgiving day I placed a layer of the canned pie filling in the center, packed the toasted pecans and crystallized ginger into the center area and drizzled the pumpkin flavored caramel sauce all along the outer edges of the cheesecake with a little more in the center for good measure.