Chachouka

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Chachouka ~ adapted from River Cottage Veg

3 tbsp olive oil

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1 large onion, thinly sliced in strips

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced

1/2 tsp paprika (hot smoked if you have it on hand)

a pinch of saffron strands

1 14 ounce can plum tomatoes, chopped

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 large eggs

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the cumin and onion and saute for a for about 8-10 minutes or until soft and golden in color. Add the garlic and peppers and continue to cook on low heat for around 20 minutes, stirring often, until the peppers are soft and wilted. Add in the paprika, a little salt and pepper, crumble in the saffron with your fingers, and add the tomatoes with any liquid from cutting. Cook, stirring from time to time, for about 15 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Taste the pepper mixture and adjust seasonings if needed then transfer to an oven-safe baking dish. Make two hollows in the pepper mixture and add an egg to each. sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for around 12 minutes depending on how you like your eggs cooked. If you like your eggs runny (the way this dish is meant to be served) then stop at around the 12 minute mark. Any longer and your eggs will be more set.

Enjoy ~

Eggplant Parmigiana

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I am trying to be present here more. I think it would be good for my well being to cook more and thus post more. Let’s see how this plan goes.

According to River Cottage Veg this is a lovely dish to make on a long rainy afternoon when you don’t have much to do. It is the first recipe in the book, perfect to start my new cooking-more adventure with. So after work on a Thursday at 7:30 pm I embarked on the eggplant parmigiana journey. It would be no problem I thought, You just layer everything and cook! Not realizing that the sliced eggplant should sit for an hour and the sauce needs to be prepped then cook for an hour and once assembled the dish itself needs to bake for an hour. Determined to see it through I didn’t take as much time as needed to let the sauce thicken and the eggplant drain but I did eat around 11 pm that night and it was worth it. Next time, though, I’m saving this for a lazy weekend day… This cooking new things after work will be learning process. 😉

Eggplant Parmigiana ~ Adapted from River Cottage Veg

4 medium eggplants (about 2 pounds)

4-5 tbsp of olive oil

2 balls of buffalo mozzarella (about 4 oz each)

finely grated parmesan cheese, or other hard cheese

For the sauce:

2 tbsp olive oil

2 onions, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

4 (14 oz cans plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped (any stems and skin removed)

1 bay leaf

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

a pinch of sugar

*I ended up only using 2 (12 oz) cans of already chopped tomatoes. Maybe the ratio to the whole ones is different. Either way it isn’t a bad thing to end up with to much home-made sauce.

Trim the eggplants and slice lengthwise (thinly). Layer the slices in a colander and sprinkle with a little salt. Leave to drain for an hour or so. (I skipped this step but I think it is a useful one if you have the time).

Make the sauce: Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute   for about 10 minutes, stirring on and off, until soft and fragrant. Add the tomatoes and their juice and the bay leaf. Bring to a simmer then simmer briskly stirring often for around 30-45 minutes. The end result should be a nice thick sauce. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of sugar.

Rinse off the eggplant slices and pat dry. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot fry a batch of eggplant slices for about 2 minutes per side, until golden and tender. Remove and set aside. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices adding a little more oil before each batch.

Pre heat your oven to 350 degrees. In an oven proof dish (8 by 10 inches) layer a third of the eggplant slices. Cover with sauce (make sure to remove the bay leaf first). Then top with teared pieces of the mozzarella and sprinkles of the grated parmesan. Repeat this layering process until the dish is full, about 3 layers of each.

Bake for 30-45 minutes or until bubbly and the cheese is golden on top. Great on its own but also perfect with a large salad to make a meal.

Enjoy!

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Fairy Tale Eggplant Pasta with Wilted Arugula & Basil

Is there a better name for a vegetable? For me, no. For others, probably. But when I saw fairy tale eggplant for the first time last weekend at the farmers market I immediately felt enchantment in the air. I waited for a moment to see if a unicorn would poke its head around the corner of the tent…..just a moment… Apart from their adorable miniature size fairy tale eggplant do not differ too much from your average eggplant. Wanting a refreshing summer dish, I found pasta the best way to go. Sautéing the eggplants with garlic and lots of spring onions. A touch of lemon zest over thin pasta noodles with lots of fresh arugula and basil and finished with a drizzle of cool olive oil.

Fairy Tale Eggplant Pasta with Wilted Arugula & Basil:
10-15 fairy tale eggplant
2-4 servings of pasta (I used pasta made with corn flour, any variety will work)
coconut oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
chopped spring (green) onion, enough to equal 2 large handfuls
zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
a pinch of chili flakes
fresh arugula
fresh basil
1 large tomato
olive oil
salt and pepper
 
Coat a medium-large skillet with coconut oil and heat over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the spring onions and chopped fairy tale eggplant and cook until the eggplants are soft and tender. Roughly 15-20 minutes, stir occasionally, they will loose their bright purple color. Stir in the lemon zest and pinch of chili flakes while the eggplants are cooking. While this is going on cook your pasta. When both are done turn off the heat. Toss the arugula in with the eggplant for a minute until wilted, add the pasta and toss everything together lightly. Transfer to a large bowl. Top with lots of fresh basil, chopped tomato, and a drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, and the lemon juice to taste. Serve with a light salad and a lemon wedge. 

Summer Slaw Omelette

Do you recall the summer slaw from a few weeks back? That wonderful purple cabbage is back to greet you once more.

If you ever end up making this, which you should, you may find yourself unsure of a creative solution for leftovers….Have no fear..BAM..I give you the summer salad omellete.

Take leftover slaw (summer salad), any oil based tangy slaw will work. Over med-high heat in a small pan sauté freshly chopped garlic with coconut oil for a minute or two then added thinly sliced baby potatoes. Once the potatoes are cooked add a few large spoonfuls of slaw. Right before you finish stir in a couple handfuls of fresh spinach. You can season this as you go, though it doesn’t need much, a little ground black pepper goes a long way. Once cooked remove from pan and pour in a lightly beaten egg. I usually beat a little salt and pepper in mine before cooking. Wait till the underside is cooked then carefully flip. Lay your egg (crepe) on a plate, fill with summer slaw sauté and top with shredded parmesean cheese if desired.

Enjoy!

Spinach and Feta Almond Crust Tart

A Spinach & Feta Almond Crust Tart

I may be described by some as an odd child……when asked what my favorite foods were, from an early age, you can bet black olives and spinach to be among them. And if ever in the form of a spinach souffle I’m pretty sure I fought a few poor family members for that last bite and scrape of the side of the bowl. One of the many joys of growing up is having the ability to make my own spinach and cheese tart, exactly how I like, and I don’t have to share…..with anyone!  For future reference, though, if I ever do offer you a slice of my spinach pie, I must like you a hell of a lot.

So here is a recipe for one of my favorite dishes, it keeps well in the fridge, and makes for a splendid lunch served hot or cold with a salad on the side

Pie Crust:

2 cups almond flour

1 cup hazelnut flour

1/2 tsp sea salt

4 tbsp olive oil

1 egg

herbs/seasonings of choice (I used a little thyme and garlic powder)

Filling:

10 ounces or so chopped spinach (fresh or frozen) I favor frozen spinach here and probably used a bit more then normal.

1 yellow onion, chopped

1-2 tbsp olive oil

2 eggs

feta cheese

kalamata olives

spices/salt/pepper (remember if using feta, the cheese adds a lot of salty flavor already)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all the ingredients for the crust together, flatten out with your hands in a full-sized tart pan (grease first if necessary). Bake for around 10 to 15 mins, you want it to be lightly brown on the outside and the edges crispy. In a medium pot sauté the onion in the olive oil for 2 minutes then add the spinach and cook till the onion is translucent. Take off the heat and mix in eggs, seasonings, and as much or little feta as desired. Pour into the cooked crust, flatten the top of the mixture for a smooth appearance and top with kalamata olives. Bake for 15-20 minutes, times will vary but when the cheese on top begins to brown your tart should be ready.

*(note, when working with frozen spinach their can be a bit of unwanted water in the pot when you are cooking it…I poured or spooned out what I could but did not worry about it to much and the tart still turned out amazing. Feel free also to use all almond flour if you are not a fan of hazelnut, I found the hazelnut to add more of a nutty flavor and texture to the crust).

Have a lovely Holiday Weekend ~

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato

The anticipation of summer is in the air. And along with the lazy afternoons I’m daydreaming of spending on a picnic blanket, somehow the work load picks up. Funny how these two are playing hand in hand. To cheer myself up I induldged in purchasing this lovely lovely book that I have been awaiting to read: la tartine gourmande. It is absolutely spectacular in every way. My friends laugh but I know that if you are reading this and love food/cooking like I do then wanting my life to be more like a cookbook is not crazy. One day…..one day.

BUT. . . . Until that day I have some equally delicious eggplant to share.

Eggplant has become my new favorite food. I can’t get enough of it….One evening I set out to make stuffed eggplant…became distracted by the roommate and ended up chopping and talking till I had a bowl full of eggplant circles instead of the intended slice down the middle. No matter…for then this dish was born and it is as easy as pie to make. Chop. Roast. Eat.

Roasted Eggplant with Tomato

One regular eggplant – rinsed and chopped (anywhichway)

I large can (28 oz) of diced tomatoes (fresh will be great when in season)

2 cloves chopped garlic – or a large spoonful minced

seasoning to taste (salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried thyme, dried basil)

Olive oil

Shaved parmesan cheese to top

Grease a baking sheet and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse and chop the eggplant and mix in a large bowl with tomatoes. I drain some but not all of the juice, most will cook away regardless. Add garlic and a few dashes of spice. I normally toss a bit of olive oil in as well. Stir, then lay in an even layer on the baking sheet. Cooking times will vary around 45 min to an hour, I’ve done two before, and everything should be roasted perfection. Serve hot with shaved parmesan and Enjoy the tantalizing taste of eggplant.

Spicy Carrot Ginger Soup

It’s still not to late for soup.

Spicy Carrot Ginger Soup

Spring is around the corner, you can smell it in the air. I find myself daydreaming at work of beach towels and lemonade.

Unfortunately, at least here in New York, the weather has not completely caught up with my mind yet. So pull out that soup pot and take advantage of our last few chilly weeks. This soup is simple and warms you from the inside out, the ginger gives it a spicy kick and when topped with chopped pear the combo of chilled/sweet with spicy is quite pleasant.

This recipe was scribbled down on a piece of scrap paper at work, I cannot remember where I found the inspiration for this wonder, but will update if I come across it again.

Spicy Carrot Ginger Soup

Olive oil

4 large carrots, peeled and chopped

1 small onion, chopped

1 minced garlic clove, or 1 to 2 tsp of already minced garlic

3 tbsp diced and peeled fresh ginger (use less if you don’s want your soup to have a kick)

1 cup cubed peeled butternut squash

1 peeled and diced apple (I used pink lady)

4 1/2 cups vegetable broth

1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)

12 ounces coconut milk

diced pear

In a large soup pot heat about 2 tsp of oil (I used olive oil) over medium heat. Saute carrots and onion until soft, then add the garlic, ginger, butternut squash, and apple. And continue to saute for another couple minutes. Add broth, and salt if desired, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer covered for around 45 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Blend, then stir in coconut milk and add any additional spices to taste. Serve hot topped with fresh cut pear.

Have a lovely Sunday ~

A Very Broccoli Soup

Soup has to be one of my favorite things to make.

You can take almost anything, mix it together, and voila! You have a tasty and healthy meal my friend.

Back with an old recipe here in the spirit of winter. And YES it still knocks your socks off.

The old recipe can be found here The only changes I made are below:

Only used one potato, no corn, a bit more carrot and celery, and used coconut for the milk. And lets not forget that goats milk brie. I managed to not eat enough to top my dinner with a few delicious slices.

So go forth, make this soup your own and enjoy a good bowl of broccoli soup while the weather still permits.

~

Click HERE for recipe

Mother’s Orzo

From my mothers table

Everyone is always extra excited for dinner when we know my mother is making her orzo. A very simple and refreshing dish suitable for all varieties of taste-buds.

It is such a comfort to take my favorites from home and enjoy them up here…And to know nobody else will finish leftovers before I get to them myself doesn’t hurt either.

Combining the flavors of sharp salty feta, with crunchy seeds and tart lemon.

I enjoy my orzo topped with hot sauce and this dish is meant to be served warm to chilled.

Mothers Orzo

1lb Orzo cooked in vegetable stock

2 tbsp olive oil (or oil of choice)

 1 cup chopped fresh basil

1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese

3/4 cup toasted pine nuts (walnuts and sunflower seeds are also very good)

1 bunch green onion, diced

1 bunch chopped fresh spinach (adjust amount to your preference)

1 1/2 tsp lemon juice (can add more if needed)

1/4 cup olive oil (or oil of choice)

salt and pepper to taste

Cook orzo according to package directions in vegetable broth with a little olive oil. Once orzo is ready, drain, then return to pot. Toss with basil, feta, nuts/seeds, green onion, and spinach. In a seperate bowl whisk together olive oil and lemon juice then toss with orzo mixture and season to taste. I end up using a little less oil at times.

Would be a great side dish with Salmon and is also perfect for warmer weather when you’re looking for a chilled dish ~

Here’s to the Squash

Here’s to the Squash…

The yellow squash. Not as decadent as its fellow butternut, acorn, or spaghetti variety but still perfect for a winters night.

For the first time in a long time I have only a mere three days as opposed to three months in-between my posts. An outstanding accomplishment I feel and hopefully will be the first of many future kitchen adventures now that I am a bit more settled.

Next week I embark on a journey back home for the holidays! A phrase I am using for the first time, ‘home for the holidays.’ I can’t wan’t to be worry and fancy free with good food and family.

With a longing for all I have been missing at home lately I decided to make one of my moms dish’s for squash caserole. Strolling over to the nearest market I bought all needed ingredients … then when looking for the yellow squash was pointed to a shelf where one package lay left. YES – package, of yellow squash. There is no way I will ever eat vegetables out of a plastic wrapped container of my own free will. They just look so sad in there……So after stopping by TWO more markets I finally found some yellow squash that looked quite happy to jump into my bag and come home with me.

So here we go: Yellow Squash Casserole {for 2}

Wash and thickly chop two large yellow squash, half a red onion, and 10-15 small carrots (or one large).

Fill a large pot with all of the chopped vegetables and water then bring to a boil.

Boil vegetables until the are just tender enough to mash up. The squash skins will still be a little tough which is alright.

I used a small casserole dish, close to the shape of a bread pan. Drain the all the water then transfer the veggies into your dish. Since a masher was not on hand I used a large fork.

Once you have a good mash going, you may be able to drain a bit more excess water out.

The next part is up to your liking….I added around 1/4 cup cottage cheese a decent handful of bread crumbs and a little seasoning.

Then came the cheese……

I had picked up a block of white chedder from trader joes labeled: The Unexpected White Chedder. Deliciously sharp and with hints of parmesan this cheese gets two thumbs up. Hands down Amazing. Any cheese will do, but the salty nutty flavor of the ‘Unexpected’ rendered all other seasonings useless.

With cheese, cottage cheese, bread crumbs, and desired seasonings added, mix then top casserole with a bit of extra shredded cheese and bread crumbs and bake at 350 degrees for around 25-30 minutes or until bubbling hot on top.

Once given a moment to cool serve with a spinach salad and crusty baguette….. Or however you please…

Especially as a meal for two, or one, on a cold winters night there is nothing more pleasing then a hot plate of squash.