Sunday, May 31, 2009

Saute it in Garlic

The last couple of weeks I have gotten several interesting new vegetables in basket from Irv and Shelly's.
The first are sunchokes or Jerusalam artichokes. I have know and eaten these for some time but for some reason never bought them. I made two dishes with them. One (not shown) was a simple salad with arugula and fresh shaved sunchokes. Then last night decide to make chips.

Scrub them, then thinly slice and cook as you would potatoes for fries.

I made a mixture of sunchokes, potatoes and radish.

The more interesting ingredient was pea vines. I was quite sure what to do with them, so the default "saute with garlic" was the trick. I am realizing that that will work with pretty much any vegetable if you do not know what to do with it. The whole vine is edible, flowers and all.

Saute galic in oil and add the vines. Cook for about 5 minutes until wilted. Then top with a touch of mustard dressing.

Mustard Dressing
2 Tbs Orange Juice
1 Tbs vinegar
1 tps mustard
5 Tbs EVOO
salt and pepper

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Quick Mexican

I know, most Americanized Mexican is quick...but its easy, filling and most of the ingredients are things on hand.

I made some quesadillas with pepper jack and cilantro.

This time rather than refried I made flavored beans. Saute onions in oil and salt. Then add chili powder, cumin and epazote. Then whole beans.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cooking Lessons

So every once in a while things don't work out as planned. Not everything I make is always great, but its every once in a while that I need to start over. There are several lessons from last nights dinner.

We were making Indian food, Chana Masala to be specific. This is one of our families favorite dishes. I have made it several times at home and found a recipe that I liked, but had packed it away (we are moving the end of next month) so needed to find another. I found one that sounded good and began to make it.

With this recipe you puree tomato with a bunch of other ingredients. I did this then added some spices. It was at this point that it start to taste funny. Something wasn't right, and try as I might I could not get it to taste good. The first lesson:

1. Constantly taste your food.

By stopping at this point and stating over, I saved the key ingredient to the dish, chick peas, of which I had only one can. Tasting as you go you avoid getting too far along and not being able to adjust the food. I was able to find a new recipe and start over before it was too late. Which brings me to lesson two:

2. Its never to late to start over.

Its only food and every once in a while you have to just chuck it and start over. That is the price of cooking at home. Which leads me to the last lesson.

3. If it doesn't taste good, don't serve (or eat) it.

This I learned from working in restaurants. It's better to start over and get it right, then serve something that is bad.

After starting over, I found a great recipe and we had a great meal.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

More Pizza

Its been a couple days, so time for more pizza. We had some left over fake sausage from the weekend, so I made a quick onion and sausage pizza.This is a play on the sausage, pepper and onion sandwich.

I'm not usually a fan of substituting foods, the reason I don't eat meat is that I don't eat meat so why eat fake meat, but every once in a while its nice to something on a bun. Also, both my wife and I particularly like the flavor of sausage, though would never eat a meat one.

Sausage with Pepper and Onion Pizza
1 small onion
1 sausage
1 pizza dough
1 pepper (or Bari peppers)
Italian Seasoning
Salt and pepper

Saute the onions with salt, pepper and some Italian seasoning in oil on high heat.

Slice the sausage and add to the onion. Cook until nicely browned.

Top the pizza with the onions and sausage and I added some of the Bari roasted peppers. This gives a nice sweet/spicy flavor.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Recipe of the Day: Soft Tacos

I remember making this back before every grocery store carried tortillas in a dozen shapes and sizes. We would buy the frozen (yes frozen) tortillas at Bread and Circus (now Whole Foods) in blue and yellow corn. These are great because they can be tailor to any taste. Make a bunch of toppings and let people build their own.

I prepare mine with refried beans, rice, cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo, and lettuce. You could also add sour cream, tomatoes, onions, ground beef or turkey, pulled chicken, cilantro, scallions...

Refried Beans
one small onion, diced
1/2 Tbs butter
about 1 Tbs olive oil
1 can beans (I like black)
epazote (optional)
salt and pepper

Saute the onion in the butter and oil with salt, over medium heat until they soften, about 3 - 5 minutes.

Drain the beans, reserving the liquid. Add the epazote and about half to the beans. Mash using a potato masher. Then add the second half of the beans. If the mixture is too dry add some of the liquid to thin. Cook over medium until warm. Season with salt and pepper.

Prepare the toppings.

Warm tortillas.

Pile on the toppings.

Serve with a cold beer with lime.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Recipe of the Day: Fruit Crisp

The other week we received rhubarb and peaches in our fruit basket from Irv and Shelly's. What better way to enjoy them then make a crisp with them. This is a versatile recipe and can be used with any fruit combination. The recipe comes from my mom, though I have no idea where she got it. Make sure to adjust the sugar accordingly, rhubarb is tart so extra sugar is needed, while apples or peaches alone may not need as much.

Crisp Filling
about 3 cups fruit
1/4 cups flour
1/4 sugar (more or less to taste)
2 -3 Tbs butter (more or less)

Crisp Topping
1 stick butter
3/4 cup oats
1 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Core and dice the fruit. Toss with the flour and sugar to coat. Add pieces of butter, pour into baking dish.

For the topping, mix the dry ingredients. Melt the butter and add to the dry and mix.

Spread the topping on the fruit. Bake in 375 deg oven for about 20 -30 minutes, or until fruit is cooked. If the top begins to brown, cover with foil. Remove from oven and let stand about 5 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Recipe of the Day: Minestrone

I ended up with some extra tomatoes from making pizza sauce the other day. Not wanting to waste anything, I decided to make minestone.

1 small onion, diced
1 small potato, diced
2 - 3 cloves garlic
1 can tomatoes
1 can chickpeas
2 - 3 cups stock
1/2 lb pasta
fresh herbs
salt and pepper

Saute the onion in a little oil over medium until soft.

Add the garlic and potatoes, stirring to prevent sticking.

Add the tomatoes,stock and herbs and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 15 minutes until the potatoes begin to soften.

In a separate pot, cook the pasta in salted water until almost done.

Add the cooked pasta and chickpeas to the soup and cook until heated through.

Serve with grated Parm.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Recipe of the Day: Zucchini Fritters

Neither my wife nor I are huge zucchini fans. This recipe, based on potato pancakes, does a good job of incorporating the zucchini, without the typical wilty flavor.

Zucchini Fritters
1 zucchini
2 - 3 small potatoes
1 small onion
2 eggs
about 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
salt and pepper

Grate the zucchini, potato and onion.

Soak in water. Rinse a few times until the water runs clear. This will help keep the potatoes from turning brown, and will mellow the onion flavor.

Drain the shredded veggies and place on a clean kitchen towel. Using the towel, squeeze the moisture out of the vegetables.

Place this in bowl. Mix in the eggs, flour, baking powder and season with salt and pepper

In a large pan add a little oil (or a lot) and drop large spoonfuls of the mixture in the pan. Flatten the cakes. Cook for about 4 - 5 minutes on a side.

Serve hot.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


My wife had some friends over this afternoon, and not wanting them to be hungry, I whipped up a batch of these chocolate chips cookies.

Recipe of the Day: Asparagus Soup

We had more of the asparagus and the last couple days its been rainy here, perfect for soup. This is surprisingly easy.

Asparagus Soup
1 1/2 to 2 lbs asparagus
1 small onion, diced
1 small carrot, diced
2 - 3 celery stalks, diced
2 - 3 cloves garlis
3 cups stock
salt and pepper
fresh herbs such as basil, thyme, oregano
crab meat (optional)

Dice the asparagus, reserving the tips.

Saute the onion, celery and carrot (mirepoix) in a little olive oil and butter. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes until soft. Add the garlic and the cut asparagus. Saute a minute or two longer.

Add the stock and cook about 15 to 20 minutes until the asparagus is cooked.
To blend it, add a little of the soup to a blender. It is best to place of towel over the top and hold on. When blend hot liquids they have a tendency to explode all over. Once you start, you can add more with out it going all over the place.

To prepare the tips, boil in salted water for about 3 -5 minutes, then drain.

If adding the crab, toss with fresh herbs and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with a touch of EVOO.

To serve, pour some of the soup in a bowl and top with some of the crab mixture and asparagus tips.

Friday, May 15, 2009

BBQ Tuna

I made it to the fish market yesterday and picked up some great tuna.

My wife had a taste for something with BBQ, so this was an easy way to pull it off.

I sauteed some onion in a touch of oil, seasoned with salt and pepper.

Then added the tuna, which I also seasoned with salt and pepper. Cooking a couple minutes on the first side. Then when I flipped it topped with BBQ sauce.

We served it as a sandwich with the onions on top.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


You know that it is spring when they have asparagus at the farmers market.

I prepared a simple dish by sauteing asparagus in a little oil, seasoned with a touch of salt and pepper.

Then toasted some bread, topped with the asparagus (the large piece I split lengthwise) and some shaved Parm and a drizzle of EVOO.

Recipe of the Day: Peppercorn pasta with fresh Morrels

Yesterday after going to the Farm at Lincoln Park Zoo with my son, we stopped by Green City Market, and did some damage. My best score were fresh local morrel's. From chatting with the vendor they have about a month season, so when you see then you buy them. The trick is to do as little as possible with them and let their flavor come through.

I made a simple peppercorn pasta buy adding a generous amount of fresh peppers to homemade pasta before adding the eggs and oil.

I tried to use the pasta roller, but the peppercorns kept getting stuck and ripping the dough. So I had to resort to rolling it out by hand.

Then using a pastry roller and a ruler, cut the pasta into long strips. (I have a dishwasher safe ruler that I use just for the kitchen, it is great for measuring and cutting straight lines in things like brownies or cakes.)

To prepare the morrels, cut in half and lightly wipe with a damp cloth to remove any debris. NEVER wash mushrooms, they are like little sponges and will soak up the water. Just brush with a damp kitchen towel.

Melt a little butter and saute a clove of sliced garlic over medium until soft. Add the morrels and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes until the morrels are soft and cooked through.

Cook the pasta in salted water, reserving about a half cup of the liquid.
Toss the pasta with the morrels, adding a little liquid to keep from drying out.

Top with fresh Parm.