Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Middle East Pita Pocket

I took several photographs of the sandwich before we ate. Later, as I was studying my photographs, Pritchard Parker walked by and did a double take at the monitor.  He said, "That sandwich looks like it should be able to talk.

Middle East Pita Pockets
Whole wheat pita bread, sliced across and opened into a pocket
Freshly washed and dried lettuce leaves (I used red leaf lettuce)
Slices of feta cheese
Slices of fresh tomato
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Extra olive oil for drizzling, optional

Spread hummus into the pita pocket bread.  Stuff with a few lettuce leaves. Pile in some tabouli. Add a few slices of feta cheese and tomato.  Salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive olive oil, if desired.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Crazy Crust Pizza

Here's an old one for you.  The original recipe for Crazy Crust Pizza was from a bag of Pillsbury flour when you could buy one for twenty-nine cents, and the grocer still used a Garvey stamper for pricing. 

This is one of many, many pizzas made in my kitchen. I have made pizza dough from scratch, kneading by hand. I have used Boboli pre-made crust.  I have used pita bread, French bread, English muffins for making pizza. I have made thin crust, deep dish, individual, and party-size pizzas.  Heck I have even made little pizzas using crackers. 

And just how many pizzas have I made on this pan?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tuna Pasta Salad

Happy Summer!  I love summer with its long days, bright colorful flowers, its bounty of fresh (affordable) vegetables, and especially the stone fruits--cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums.  Swimming. Grilling. I enjoy creating satisfying sandwiches and salads as meals and I have already made a few. 

I made this tuna pasta salad about three weeks ago. Well, not this salad, but one just like it. I never photographed it and never really thought of blogging about it because it seemed so ordinary. After I took it to work for lunch every day for week, found myself looking forward to my lunch break, and saying, Mm-m-m in my head a lot as I ate it, I decided to rethink my original opinion of this pasta salad. 

So, I made it again, just for you. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 

Rocquie's Tuna Pasta Salad
1/2 lb. medium shell pasta, cooked and drained
2 pouches or cans tuna
6 - 8 scallions, white and green parts, sliced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 small jar marinated artichokes hearts, quartered
2 - 3 oz. oil packed sun dried tomatoes, sliced
2 -3 plump cloves garlic, minced
several sprigs fresh dill, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
3 Tbsp., or to taste, olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 oz. feta cheese, cubed

Toss together the pasta, tuna, scallions, zucchini, artichoke hearts, and sun dried tomatoes. Stir in the garlic, dill, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper until well combined. Add the feta cheese cubes and mix lightly. Cover and refrigerate for several hours. Even better the next day.

Monday, June 20, 2011

No Bake Blueberry Cheesecake

I hadn't made a dessert in a while. Poor Pritchard Parker was stuck with store bought cookies and ice cream. He enjoys those things and he was not complaining, mind you, but homemade is always better.  After a trip to the grocery store, I started thinking about the blueberries, the first I had seen this season, that I glanced at as I walked on by them.  I decided to make a no bake blueberry cheesecake.

This recipe is based on one from the July 2003 issue of Bon Appetit magazine. The cheesecake is very light and a perfect summer dessert. I used about half the blueberries called for in the original recipe because of the high cost of the berries at my grocery store, but there was still plenty of juicy blueberry flavor.

Also, the recipe called for making the entire cheesecake in a food processor, which I don't own. If you do, go for it. I used my blender for the crust and my regular mixer for everything else.  Oh, and it is not entirely "no bake". You do bake the graham cracker oat crust. 

No Bake Blueberry Cheesecake
(adapted from Bon Appetit, July 2003)

9 whole graham crackers
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
3 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
5 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. unflavored gelatin
12 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 pint fresh blueberries

1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 pint fresh blueberries
2/3 cup blueberry jam

For crust, blend first 3 ingredients in blender until graham crackers are finely ground. Pour into a mixing bowl and add the butter and vanilla. Stir until well combined and moist crumbs form.  Press crumb mixture onto bottom and 1 inch up sides of a 9-inch springform pan.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until deep golden brown, about 12 minutes. Cool.

For filling, pour 1/4 cup water into small saucepan; sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand 10 minutes. Stir over very low heat just until gelatin dissolves.  Set aside. Mix cream cheese, cream, sugar, and lemon juice until smooth.  Add berries and combine well. Add gelatin mix and mix well.  Pour mixture over crust and chill overnight.  Next day, run a knife around sides of pan to loosen cake.  Release the pan sides and transfer to platter.

For the topping, beat cream and sugar together until firm peaks form.  Spread mixture over cheesecake. Place berries in a bowl.  Heat jam in small saucepan over low heat until just melted.  Pour jam over berries; toss to coat. Mound coated berries in center of cream, leaving 1-inch plain border. Chill cake at least 1 hour.

I am sharing this with Sweets for a Saturday #23 at the blog Sweet as Sugar Cookies

I am sharing this with Sweet Indulgences Sunday #10 at the blog, A Well-Seasoned Life

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Black Pepper Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry

Stir fry is a method of cooking I use a lot in the summer. It involves quickly cooking small pieces of food in a large pan over high heat while constantly and briskly stirring the food. This cooking technique is usually associated with Asian cooking and the wok, requires minimal fat, and results in food that is crisply tender. 

We can use the technique without necessarily adopting the flavors of the East, though I did use both soy sauce and toasted sesame oil in this recipe.

This recipe was born from ingredients I had on hand which needed to be used. I had a head of cabbage I purchased for another reason and whatever it was, it never happened. I had a package of ground sirloin I  bought on sale. I had  red bell peppers which were too cheap and beautiful for me to resist. And of  course it is Vidallia onion season.

This is the first time I have ever used ground beef in a stir fry. I followed my usual method of stir fry cooking if I am using meat, which is, cook the meat first, remove from pan and set aside. Drain any fat from the wok in preparation for cooking the vegetables. Cook the vegetables as desired, add the cooked meat back to the pan, stir together quickly and season to taste.

Black Pepper Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry
(adapted from allrecipes.com)
1 lb. ground beef
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. peanut oil
1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 jumbo Vidallia onion, sliced
4  (or more) cloves garlic, minced
1 large red bell pepper, sliced
1 small head cabbage, sliced
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
Additional salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cook the ground beef in wok, over medium high heat, stirring until completely browned, adding black pepper and salt.. Remove from pan, set aside and keep warm.  Drain fat from wok and wipe it clean. Add the peanut oil to the pan and heat over medium high heat. Stir in the sesame oil, then add in the onions, cooking and stirring constantly until they begin to brown.  Stir in the garlic and red bell pepppers, and stir for a minute longer, then add the sliced cabbage.  Stir everything well, then add the soy sauce.  Stir and cook until the vegetables are barely tender, then add back the cooked beef. Stir all together and season with additional salt and freshly ground black pepper, if desired.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Crispy Roasted Potatoes

I have seen this recipe posted on a few different blogs. It looked so delicious and intriguing to me, I just had to try it. It reminds me of a cross between Hasselback potatoes, a Swedish recipe, and pommes Anna a french one.  Both result in potatoes which are crisp outside and soft and buttery on the inside. And so did this recipe. 

Crispy Potato Roast
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled
4 shallots, thickly sliced lengthwise
coarse salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
8 sprigs thyme

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, combine butter and oil. Brush bottom of a round 9-inch baking dish with some butter mixture. With a sharp knife or mandoline, slice potatoes very thinly crosswise.

Arrange potato slices vertically in dish. Wedge shallots throughout. Sprinkle with salt and red-pepper flakes; brush with remaining butter mixture. Bake 1 1/4 hours. Add thyme and bake until potatoes are cooked through with a crisp top, about 35 minutes more.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Broccoli and Blue Cheese Quiche

This is a recipe from another one of my old hippie cookbooks, Cabbagetown Cafe Cookbook. I have spoken before about my love of quiche. Quiches are very forgiving and as simple as you like to make. You can make your own pastry, buy a pre-made crust, purchase one of those roll out crusts from the dairy section of the grocery store, you can even make it crustless, if you prefer.  You can use any combination of cheeses and any vegetables or combinations of ingredients.

I skipped the other herbs listed in the recipe and chose to use 1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, finely minced. It was perfectly complimentary to the broccoli and blue cheese.

I also used more cheese than called for in the recipe and made this quiche very cheesy. It was delicious!

And you know? I have never heard anyone say, "No, I don't like quiche". 

I am linking this post to Mom's Sunday Cafe for Melynda's Cookbook Sundays.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Muttar Paneer

Curry-Palooza #3 

It was my turn again to choose the recipe for our Curry-Palooza project and I picked Muttar Paneer, which is one of my favorite dishes to order in Indian Restaurants.  After searching for a recipe, I found this one at the blog, A Pot of Tea and a Biscuit, which seemed doable to me.  Remember, this whole project is conceived to help me master become adequate at Indian cookery. 

I love paneer, which is a cheese that doesn't melt when heated. I love the texture of it and it takes on the beautiful taste and aroma of the sauce cooked with it.  Grapefruit educated me about paneer, advising me that it is simply cottage cheese which has been drained and pressed.  She even has a cottage cheese recipe on her blog, which I planned to use. Time got short and I stopped by the market for it instead. 

We really enjoyed this curry and thought it was delicious. The recipe was easy to follow, though like all things curry, a little time consuming. Enjoyable and fragrant time, however. 

Find my co-host, Grapefruit's version of Muttar Paneer at her blog, Needful Things.

We have a new blogger, Margie, of More Please, joining us this month so I hope you will hop over to check out her version of this recipe. She even made her own paneer!

I am always fascinated to see different cook's versions of the same recipe. Won't you consider joining us in this project, still in its infancy, so we can see your versions as well? Just let Grapefruit or I know if you want to join in the fun of Curry-Palooza. 

Muttar Paneer
(Slightly adapted for U.S. measurements)
1 lb.  paneer cheese, cubed
2 medium onions, chopped finely
2 (15 oz.) cans chopped tomatoes
1 cup frozen peas
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 inch of fresh ginger, grated
2 tsp ground coriander
3-4 tsp garam masala
2 tsp turmeric
2tsp ground cumin
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
salt, to taste
vegetable oil or ghee
fresh coriander, chopped (to garnish)

Heat the oil or ghee in a large heavy bottomed frying pan.

Add the cubes of paneer and fry until golden. Remove from the pan and set aside.

If necessary add a little more oil or ghee and fry the onions, until soft and golden.

Now add the spices and the garlic and fry for another couple of minutes until fragrant.

Add the tomatoes and about 1 cup water and stir. Bring to a a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about five minutes.

Add the peas and return the fried cheese to the pan. Cover and continue to simmer for about 20 minutes.

I served this curry with basmati rice, yoghurt, and hot and spicy pickled relish, which I also purchased. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Texas Caviar

More peas! Black-eye peas are my favorite legume and a Southern staple. I have cherished memories of growing up in Alabama, sitting under the shade trees with my Mother, Grandmother, and Aunties, sipping ice tea, and shelling black-eye peas freshly picked from the garden. Shucking corn and snapping beans was also involved. I loved spending time with those women. I loved hearing their stories and listening to their joyful laughter. 

Back in the kitchen, as they cooked the fresh vegetables, cornbread, fried chicken, biscuits, fruit pies, I would sit in the corner, watching, listening, and try to be invisible. After the meal was cooked, eaten, and the kitchen cleaned up, they would sit around the kitchen table, and this is when the tales began to get juicy. Often, I would be sent from the room, with my Mother promising, "We'll put it in a bottle for you and you can listen to it later".  Of course, I would slink back into the kitchen after only a few minutes.

This is not a family recipe but one I have made and enjoyed for many years. It is delicious and satisfying when it is too hot to cook.

Texas Caviar
3 16-oz. cans black-eye peas, drained and rinsed
1 small jar chopped pimientos, juice included
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 bunch green onions, sliced
3 jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed if desired, diced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 firm, ripe tomato, chopped
3 cloves fresh garlic, pressed or minced
1 tsp. (or more to taste) Tabasco sauce
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients  well.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 to 6 hours. The longer it sits, the better it gets.

Serve with saltine crackers or corn chips, and pass coarse sea salt, the pepper grinder, and hot sauce.