Pasta with Sardines, Walnuts, and Figs


pasta of your choice–I use conchiglie

5 dried mission figs, coarsely chopped

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

olive oil

1/2 cup broken walnuts–I used black walnuts tonight

1 can sardines in olive oil

1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

Saute garlic and walnuts in just enough olive oil to cover bottom of pan until garlic is lightly browned.  Add figs and sardines.  Do not drain olive oil from the sardines. Add balsamic vinegar.  Stir and heat through.  Add to drained pasta.  Stir to combine.  Serve with grated pecorino cheese and a simple salad.  This recipe serves 2-3.

 

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Note:  Why sardines?  There are good reasons to add sardines to your food choices.  First, they are near the bottom of the food chain and have little to no chemical residue as a consequence, e.g. no mercury. Second, small amounts have lots of protein and omega oils.  One little can has 22 grams of protein.  1/2 cup walnuts has 12 grams of protein.  I use pasta from an ancient Italian monastery.

Dinner Parties and Commitments


When I committed to writing daily and then blogging, it never occurred to me that this might entail writing in the middle of the night after hosting a dinner party and then cleaning up.  Some people just go to bed and clean up in the morning.  Yuck!!!  Who wants to wake up to a big mess with bits of food solidified to plates and remnants of red wine looking like dried blood in the bottom of wine glasses.  No me.  So here I am fulfilling my commitment to write daily.

Usually, I invite a lot of people over and work like crazy or give up and do potluck. This time I decided on something simple for six friends (three couples).  One friend is a vegetarian so everyone ate vegetarian.  The menu included homemade refried black bean casserole–the favorite of two of these friends.  The recipe for this dish is on a previous blog post.  In honor of my former exchange student son, Gaston Luis Zulaica del Sueldo, I made one of my best salads ever.  When he lived with me, he made salad almost every night, spectacular, colorful salads.  I made a mixture of Jasmine and several other kinds of rice and the following casserole which has no name so guess I will need to invent one.

Vegetarian Casserole with Soyrizo

Pour enough olive oil into the bottom of a heavy casserole dish to cover it.  Thinly slice purple potatoes (I think they are called blue, but they look purple to me), and cover the bottom with a layer of these.  Cover the potatoes with a layer of chopped onions, then a layer of coarsely chopped poblano peppers–I added a few halved and seeded jalapeños.  The next layer is soyrizo crumbled to completely cover the previous layers.  If you are not vegetarian, use chorizo.  Repeat the previous layers.  Combine 3 T of flour and 1 cup milk.  Pour over the top of the casserole.  Bake until the potatoes are done.  You can make all this several hours in advance and pour the milk mixture over it just before it goes in the oven.  I actually used the grill outside on low to bake it this time–warm day and did not want to heat up the house.  We finished off dinner with chocolate chip mint ice cream with Chambord poured over the top.  We also enjoyed a while dessert wine called Electra.

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Salad a la Gaston

 

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Good friends.

 

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Pretty ladies

Pasta with Kale and Portabello Mushrooms


Earlier I took a hike across my little canyon and up the hill where I plan to build a fence so people will not drive where they are not supposed to drive.  Driving there causes rather bad erosion.  Walked back to the barn, fed the horses, and returned to the house, then noticed hunger.  This afternoon I bought some Tuscan kale and wanted to try it out.  Here’s my creation:

Extra virgin olive oil

1/2 medium onion, coarsely chopped

3-4 medium size portabello mushrooms, sliced

3 large Tuscan kale leaves, center stem removed and chopped

Pasta–your choice.  I used rigatoni but my favorite is conchiglie from Montebello Monastery in Italy which has been doing this since 1388 or so they claim

Greek oregano

Ricotta cheese

Cover bottom of a skillet with the olive oil.  Add the onions, mushrooms, and chopped kale stems.  Saute until the onions are translucent and the kale stems are cooked but still crunchy.  While this is cooking, tear the kale leaves into bite sized pieces.  Take two dried oregano stems and lightly remove and crumble the leaves and florets into the skillet.  Discard the stems.  Add the kale leaves to the onion mixture and saute.  When done, kale leaves will be tender but still a bright green.  Pour over the pasta and place a dollop of ricotta cheese on top.

Note:  I grow my own Greek oregano and dried a bunch on my counter top this week–I live in a dry climate so this works.  I took two stems with the dried leaves and flowers still attached and stripped off the leaves and flowers and crushed them with my hands directly into the skillet.  Greek oregano is very mild.  You might want to use less of other oregano.  Without the ricotta, this recipe is vegan.  I used whole milk ricotta; I never buy low fat anything.  I tried to learn to like whole wheat pasta but gave up.  Quinoa and corn mixed pasta is ok, but give me the real thing from Italy.

 

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This photo illustrates the dried Greek oregano.  I will have to decide whether to store like this or take it all off the stems and crush it.

Summer Salad: Garbanzo Beans and Corn


The first Sunday is potluck Sunday at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Amarillo, Texas, about 14 miles from where I live.  Usually, for years, I have made a certain pie that many like.  This morning I neither felt the inclination nor the had the time because I went out to feed horses and work on my steep drive.  Plus, the forecast predicted a quite hot day, 98 degrees Fahrenheit, making me disinclined to heat up the oven.  I opened my pantry door, viewed the canned goods and created this recipe.  Several asked how I made it; apparently my experiment met with success.

2 15 oz. cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1 15 oz. can whole kernel corn, drained

1/4 medium size purple onion, finely chopped

1 medium size red bell pepper, chopped

1/3 cup medium size black olives, sliced

1/4 cup (or amount to suit your own personal taste) red wine vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tsp. ground cumin

2 tsp. coriander seeds, ground

freshly ground black pepper to taste

Mix all the above.  Chill and serve.  Personally, I think this might have been even better if allowed to marinate to blend all the flavors.  This is easy,  nutritious, and vegan.

Red Snapper with Chorizo and Mixed Rice


Last Sunday evening I invited three friends over for dinner.  They come to my house all the time so I decided to try something different.  Red snapper was on sale at the market so I bought one big fillet and one smaller one, thinking they would fit perfectly in the heavy cast iron fish pan I have.  I use this particular cast iron pot because I can put it on the grill in the summer and avoid  heat in the house.  In my refrigerator I also found some soyrizo–chorizo made from soy instead of pork.  Since one of the friends is Muslim, I make sure never to feed him pork–he does not want me to go to hell, he says.  Since the fish and the chorizo made for rather sizable servings, I did not expect all of it to totally disappear.  Wrong.  They ate all of it and asked for the recipe.

Approximately 1 1/2 pounds red snapper or similar firm fleshed fish

Enough soyrizo (or chorizo) to cover the fish in a thin layer sprinkled over the fish

1 onion finely chopped

1 large poblano pepper, seeded and chopped

Olive oil

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 small can tomato sauce

Pour enough olive oil into a heavy pan to cover the bottom

Lay the fish in the bottom of the pan and cover with chorizo

Saute the onions and poblano pepper in olive oil until onions are translucent

Spread the onion/pepper mixture over the top of the chorizo

Stir the cinnamon into the tomato sauce

Pour the cinnamon/tomato sauce mixture over the top

Place a lid on pan and bake on the grill at medium heat.

It takes the cast iron a long time to heat up so once it was heated, I baked the dish for approximately 20 minutes or until the fish was done and everything was bubbling.

I served this with my favorite rice:  1/3 Jasmine red rice, 1/3 Jasmine white rice, combined with 1/3 black rice.  I used one half cup each, sauteed with 1 TBS. finely chopped garlic in enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a large sauce pan.  Saute until the rice appears to be sticking slightly, then pour water double the total amount of rice.  Stir in 1 tsp. bouillon, cover with six paper towels and then the lid, turn down to low, and cook approximately one hour.  The red and black rice take at least twice as long to cook as white rice.

This easily serves four.  I served it with a salad:  romaine, red cabbage, dried cherries, yellow pepper, diced radishes, and feta cheese.  Bon appetit!!

Vegetarian Chorizo with Potatoes and Black Beans


    This is a quick, simple recipe.  I served it with a very basic green salad of red lettuce, orange and red bell peppers, and a goat feta cheese.  Rice would make a nice addition as would fried ripe plantains.

6 small (petite) potatoes, diced

6 oz. (1 large link) soy chorizo (I used Soyrizo which is also vegan)

1/2 medium red onion, chopped

1 can black beans

Olive oil

Saute the onion and potatoes in the olive oil until tender.  Remove the chorizo from the package and crumble into the skillet with the onion and potatoes.  Stir into the onion and potato mixture.  Rinse the canned black beans and drain.  Add to the mixture and stir.  When black beans are heated, serve.

The portions in this recipe are easy to multiply to serve more people.

Teriyaki Salmon with Red Chard and Cassia Cinnamon (for two)


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The red chard leaves, chopped.

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Just after adding the salmon.

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The finished product.

 

2  6 oz. servings of wild salmon

1/2 medium red (purple) onion, chopped

1/2 large poblano pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped

2 large red chard leaves and stems

1/2 to 1 tsp. cassia cinnamon

1/8 cup teriyaki sauce mixed with 1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce

Olive oil

Marinate the salmon in the teriyaki/Worcestershire sauce while you prepare the rest.  Using a sharp knife, destem and devein the red chard.  Coarsely chop the stems and veins.  Chop the leaves into pieces as indicated in the photo above.  Cover the bottom of a medium sized skillet with olive oil.  I love extra virgin olive oil and use a lot of it, but not absolutely necessary.  Saute chopped onions in the olive oil until translucent.  Add the poblano pepper and red stems of the chard.  When the peppers and chard stems are slightly cooked, add the salmon and marinade and sauté for about 2 minutes.  Turn the salmon and place the chard leaves on top.  Scatter the cinnamon on top of the chard leaves.  Saute until the chard leaves are wilted.

Serve with mixed grain rice (khao-pa-som in Thai) which can be found at Asian markets.  It is a mixture of brown, black, and red rice with various grains including what appears to be barley.  I cook it exactly like rice: sauté in olive oil with finely chopped garlic for a minute or so, add water, and stir in 1 tsp. concentrated bouillon. Turn heat to low, cover pan with several layers of paper towels, and put on lid.  This, like red and brown rice, takes about twice as long to cook as white rice.  It is more nutritious than white rice. If you want the health benefits of cinnamon, it is necessary to use cassia cinnamon, not Ceylon cinnamon.

Spicy Brisket for a Crowd


Originally, I had no intention of posting this.  I was simply making an easy dinner for ten guests on a hot summer day.  However, I received so many compliments that I decided to post it even though I took no pictures.  The only time I ever cook brisket occurs when quite a few people are coming over and I do not want much to do just before the food is served.  There is another rather odd reason I like to cook brisket in the summer:  I can use my electric roaster and plug it into the outlet on the patio and not heat up the house.  Since I do not particularly like barbecue, I try to do something different.

1 4-5 lb. brisket, trimmed of fat

1 large purple onion, coarsely chopped

Cumin, enough to completely cover the top of the brisket when sprinkled over it

2-3 Tbls. mild Mexican chili seasoning

1-2 tsp. coriander, ground  (optional)

Brown sugar

1 bottle cheap, dry, red wine

1 15 0z. can chopped, salt free tomatoes

4-5 jalapeño peppers (optional)

Place the brisket in a roaster fat side down and pour in the red wine to a depth of 1 1/2 inches.  Cover the top with the cumin and chili seasoning.  Evenly scatter the chopped onions over the top.  Bake at 325 for 2 hours.  Turn the brisket over so that the fat side is up.  Bake another 1-2 hours.  Turn the temperature down to 275 and turn over again so the the fat side is down.  Cover the top of the brisket with the tomatoes.  Sprinkle two small handfuls of brown sugar evenly over the top of the tomatoes.  If using the coriander, sprinkle it over the brown sugar.  Check to make sure the broth is not becoming too dry and add extra wine as needed. Bake another 1-2 hours.  If using the jalapeños, cut into halves and deseed. Add them about one hour before serving.  Usually, I cook brisket 6-7 hours.  I do not want it to become too dry, but I do want the broth to cook down so that it creates a natural sauce for the meat without using any thickening.  Just before serving, slice the brisket into pieces and stir around so the sauce covers all the pieces of meat.  I like to use the jalapeños this way because it does not increase the “heat” for those who do not like hot food, but there are tasty tidbit of hot for those who do.  Enjoy!