Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"Mexican" Corn Chowder

Like the other recipes from this cookbook, I've been making this soup since college. V specifically requested this the other day (when I had to look up how to make garlic bread.....). The only problem is that we do all of our grocery shopping at a co-op these days, and the one we go to here in MN doesn't stock creamed corn, so this requires an extra trip. On the other hand, since we only visit regular groceries infrequently, when we go it's a bit like the stories about visitors from the USSR - it is completely stunning to see the huge variety on the shelves, and we go a bit wild buying things we "can't" normally get. Very fun. (My secret vice? all kinds of baked beans. The organic ones simply do not compare.)

Mexican Corn Chowder
adapted from Help! My Apartment Has A Kitchen
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, thinly sliced
  • 2-4 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 Tbsp Wondra
  • 2 15-oz cans creamed corn
  • 1 4-oz can green chilies, drained
  • 4 C milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 C shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • tortilla chips for serving
Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and celery and cook until mostly softened (5-7 min). Add the cumin and flour and stir constantly until they're absorbed into the vegetable mixture. Add corn, chilies, milk, and salt & pepper and stir thoroughly.

Cook, uncovered, at a simmer until the soup thickens (about 8-10 min). Stir in the cheese and cook for a few more minutes, until the soup is hot but not boiling. Serve.
makes a light meal for 4

Monday, January 28, 2013

Winter Menu, Week of Jan 20

Su: Salmon, Fennel, & Potato Bake; Apple Cake (...there was lettuce for salad, but I utterly forgot about it)
M: Pasta Fazool (mostly cooked on Sunday); bread
T: Cider-Cooked Pork Chops; baked potatoes
W: left-over veggies from Sunday, mixed with some canned tomatoes and cooked with eggs
R: Eleanor's Bean Casserole
F: bread & roasted garlic
Sa: roasted sweet potatoes & brussels sprouts

Sunday, January 27, 2013

we're trying to eat a bit more fish these days...

Eating more fish (salmon, specifically) was a NY's resolution of mine many years ago. I did it (whatever "it" was - I think it was probably 4x/month or similar). I'd read something about how salmon was supposed to be good for your heart, which is why we did it (heart disease runs in my family like wow). But the unexpected benefit was that, after a few months, I had dramatically fewer migraines, and the ones I did have didn't seem to last as long. This is all completely anecdotal, obviously, but for me the correlation was pretty clear. However, it turns out that, try as I might, I'm still not a huge fan of fish. These days I take fish oil tablets (which I still would swear are helping keep my migraines at bay) and we've only kept a few recipes from that long-ago period of frequent fish eating.

This recipe is one of the ones I remembered really liking, though we haven't had it in years, so I requested Victor make it the other night. One thing to note - we both forgot that the recipe as originally written (I got it from an article in Health magazine) doesn't really allow enough cooking time for the potatoes. I think it would make sense to do one of the following: slice the potatoes VERY thinly (with a mandoline), braise them in the first step by adding some chicken broth and covering the pan with foil, or pre-cook the potatoes slightly by microwaving or steaming them.

That said, with some extra time in the oven, this was delicious. We ate the salmon the first night, but had a lot of veggies/potatoes left, so they became part of dinner another night, mixed with some tomato puree and cooked with a few eggs on top.

Salmon with Potatoes, Onions, and Fennel
(adapted from Health Magazine, June 2001)

  • ~ 1 lb yellow-fleshed potatoes, peeled, halved, and very thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • fennel bulb, trimmed, bulb halved and sliced (about 2 C)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp dried thyme (or 1 Tbsp fresh)
  • 2 Tbsp drained capers
  • 4 5-oz salmon fillets
  • 4 Tbsp crumbled feta
  • 3 Tbsp seasoned dried bread crumbs
  • 1/4 C vermouth, dry white wine, or broth
Preheat oven to 400F. Spray an 11x7 baking dish with cooking spray and arrange potato slices over the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; bake 10 min (or more - see headnote).

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine onion, fennel, sugar, and thyme. Toss to combine. When you take the potatoes out of the oven, pour this mixture on top. Sprinkle with capers. Bake until potatoes are softened and fennel tastes nearly done (at least 15 min).

Meanwhile, combine feta, bread crumbs, and vermouth or broth. Toss gently to combine. When the veggies are done, put the salmon, skin-side down,  atop them. Spread cheese mixture over fish and vegetables. Bake another 20 minutes, or until salmon is done to your liking.
serves 4

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Cider-Cooked Pork Chops

This recipe is one of the original "orange binder" recipes. I typed it up out of a now-forgotten magazine, put the title in a funky font, and printed it out for the binder (because that's how I roll). When we got pork chops from the meat CSA this month, it was the obvious thing to do with them. I love the combination of the tangy-ness and sweetness and the green onions. The green onions make it, IMO.

Cider-Cooked Pork Chops
original source lost...

  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 4 boneless pork chops (1.25 lb or so)
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tart apples, peeled, cored, and very thinly sliced
  • 1 C apple cider, the tarter the better
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 3-4 scallions, cut into 2-inch segments, green parts only
Mix salt and pepper together; use 1/4 tsp of that mixture to season both sides of the chops. Heat 1 tsp of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chops and brown well on both sides; remove from pan (they'll finish cooking in a bit).

Add remaining oil and apples slices to skillet. Cook, stirring once in a while, until browned (about 3 min). Stir in cider, mustard, honey, and the rest of the salt and pepper. Add chops, snugging them down in the liquid. Bring to a simmer and keep simmering for 3 min, covered. Add the scallions and simmer for another 3 min or so, until the chops are done to your liking.
serves 4 as a main dish

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Menu, Week of Jan 13

Sunday: Slow-Cooker Stuffed Greens; salad
Monday: Sweet-and-Sour Rice Bowl (I loved the combination of veggies in the stir-fry, but this recipe turned out to be incredibly bland; we rescued it with large amounts of SoyVey)
Tuesday: bread, roasted garlic, salad
Wednesday: lentil soup and more bread (need to type this recipe up)
Thursday: pizza
Friday: out

Muffin Season (belated)

I know, it's technically been "muffin season" for quite some time. I got a little derailed this year, but I'm catching up. I woke up this morning thinking about a muffin with dates and pecans; when I got downstairs and looked at the pantry, I decided they'd be great in a spiced sweet-potato batter. This is what I came up with, aided by the always-fabulous King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking.

Sweet Potato Muffins with Pecans and Dates
adapted from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking
  • 8 oz (2 C) whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • fresh nutmeg, grated to yield about 1/4 tsp
  • 3 oz (3/4 C) chopped pecans, toasted lightly
  • 4 1/2 oz (3/4 C) chopped dates
  • 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 7 1/2 oz (1 C) brown sugar (any kind; I actually used muscovado)
  • 1 3/4 oz (1/4 C) cane sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 9 1/2 oz (1 C) pureed sweet potato (mine was canned)
Preheat oven to 375F. Grease every other well in two 12-muffin tins.

Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices in a medium bowl. Mix in the pecans and dates. Cream together until fluffy the butter and sugars in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs, then the vanilla and sweet potato. Add the dry ingredient mixture, stirring until evenly moistened.

Pour the batter into the prepared tins (I used two pans so the muffins would rise more evenly). Bake 20-24 minutes, until a tester inserted into a muffin comes out cleanly.
yield: about a dozen muffins

Monday, January 14, 2013

Slow-Cooker Stuffed Greens

Even though he was sick, V still managed to put this together while I was out running errands. We both loved it, though I think the next time we make it I'll just use cabbage - I missed its flavor here.

Italian Sausage Stuffed Greens
adapted from here

  • 4-6 large greens leaves (Swiss chard, kale, or collards)
  • 1 lb. of ground Italian sausage
  • Handful of breadcrumbs
  • Small handful of Parmesan
  • ½ onion, shredded
  • ½ zucchini or carrot, shredded
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • Tomato Juice or V8
  • Fresh Herbs, chopped

Wash greens and make an inverted “V” in the base of the leaf to remove the steam. Combine the sausage, breadcrumbs, parmesan, onion, zucchini (or carrot), egg, and tomato paste. Divide mixture and using the greens, roll into “burritos”. Place in crockpot and cover with tomato juice or V8 and fresh herbs. Cook on high for 1 hour and low for 3 hours.
Serves 4

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Eye of the Storm, Mid-Flu Season 2012-13

We were actually both well for almost the entire week, but Victor finally succumbed Saturday morning. In between our illnesses, though, we got some tasty food in.

Su: Zuni Chicken; Roasted Carrots; Vanilla Bean Pudding
M: Mushroom Ravioli & Sweet Potato-Sage Ravioli in broth (still need to write up these recipes); Dark & Stormy Sorbet
T: Chipotle Red-Bean Chile
W: out
R: "Snacker" Pizza (ended up being topped with an eccentric mix of turkey "snack sticks" and a single smoked-mozzarella stick)
F: left-overs
Sa: Quince-Rosemary Glazed Ham; Braised Leeks & Potatoes; Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts; Pear Sorbet

Saturday, January 12, 2013

company's coming.... not

We'd planned to have this meal with friends, but were utterly thwarted by this year's intense flu season. First our friends' little girl got sick; even if that hadn't derailed our plans, V woke up this morning with a sore throat and a fever. Sharing this meal would have meant also sharing some nasty germs - so not a gift we want to give our friends. But the ingredients were ready to go, and I felt fine, so I went ahead and we had a very fancy dinner for the two of us.

Menu: Quince-Rosemary Glazed Ham; Braised Leeks & Potatoes; Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts; Pear Sorbet

For the ham, I baked a 4 lb. boneless smoked ham for 2 hours at 350F, basting every 20-30 minutes with quince-rosemary jelly (a homemade gift). Probably could have cooked it a bit less, but I was trying to time things with the leek-and-potato braise.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

literary muffins

This recipe originates from a mystery novel by Kerry Greenwood. The main character is a baker; her apprentice comes up with the idea of making a "plum pudding" muffin. It sounded fantastic when she described it and I was thrilled to discover that Greenwood included the actual recipe at the end of the book. It's been a few weeks since I finished Earthly Delights, but I only got around to making the muffins this weekend. They were easy and tasty and I will definitely be making them again.

Plum Pudding Muffins
  • 2 C AP flour (I believe you could substitute white whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour as well)
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 C chopped dried fruit (I used a combination of candied lemon rind, golden raisins, and raisins)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch allspice
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 C milk (I used skim)
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1 Tbsp rum (or brandy)
Heat oven to 300F. Spray muffin tins with oil (or my favorite, oil-and-flour baking spray). Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl (flour through allspice) and wet ingredients in another bowl. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir. Pour batter into prepared tins. Bake for about 15-20 min, until they smell cooked and are lightly browned on top.

yield: about 12 muffins

Saturday, January 5, 2013


The last week has pretty much disappeared in a haze of Nyquil for me - I did manage to go to work for 2/3 of the work-days last week, but I'm lucky they like me there because I wasn't good for much. And I collapsed when I got home both days. So we ate a lot of leftovers and delivery; Victor also whipped up several of his go-to dishes (fried rice and omelets). Before I got sick, I did manage to make one meal, though. It's quickly become one of my favorites, mostly because (assuming you've pre-made the dough), it comes together in a snap and requires pretty minimal ingredients.

Margarita Pizza
from the wonderful new Smitten Kitchen cookbook

  • ~ 1/2 C strained and pureed tomatoes (I literally strain them to get excess liquid out so it doesn't make the pizza soggy, though I'm not sure that's what she intended)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • few drops red wine vinegar
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 3/4 lb ball pizza dough (recipe follows, or use your own favorite)
  • 4-5 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • some basil leaves, torn or chopped (or use fresh oregano)
Heat your oven as high as it goes (ours goes up to 550F, which works wonderfully). Sprinkle a rimmed baking sheet (9x13) or a medium-sized pizza pan with cornmeal or spray with that cooking-spray-plus-flour stuff I'm so fond of.

Blend the tomatoes and seasonings together. Stretch the dough to cover your baking sheet/pizza pan - no worries about holes or whatever, you can always pinch them together. Spread the mostly-flat dough with tomato sauce, sprinkle with basil leaves, and arrange the cheese slices to more-or-less cover your pizza. Bake for 7-11 minutes (in my oven, it always takes the full cooking time). The cheese should be very bubbly and even a little blistered.

serves 2 generously

"Leisurely" Pizza Dough
also from the new Smitten Kitchen book; she has a "rushed" pizza dough, too, but I've never made it; instead, I make a double batch of this one and freeze the second half. The day before I want to make pizza, I move it to the fridge and then proceed with the recipe as written. The book also has directions for hand-kneading the dough.

  • 1/2 C warm water
  • 1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 C (190 g) AP flour (or a combination of AP and whole-wheat flour - I generally do about 50/50)
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt 
  • little bit of olive oil
Combine water and yeast in the mixer bowl; let stand for a few minutes if that's a thing your yeast needs. Add the flour and salt and mix with the dough hook until you have a craggy mass. Reduce the speed to low and let it bang around for about 5 minutes, until it is a smooth and cohesive ball. Take the dough out and coat it with a little olive oil; then put it back into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest in the fridge for at least 8 hours and up to 24.

When you're ready to use it, remove from the fridge and allow to double in a warm spot (I put mine on top of the kitchen radiator).
makes about 3/4 pizza dough, enough for a medium pizza