Thursday, September 29, 2011

Roasted Pepper Roll-Ups

Until recently, roasted peppers were not high on my list of fun and exciting ingredients. Something about the smell of jarred peppers just did not sit right with me, along with their slimy texture. But after roasting ancho peppers to make Chile Rellenos I fell in love with the scent of roasting peppers in my kitchen. How funny life can be!  Since then, roasted pepper recipes hold more attraction for me and spying this recipe in Molto Italiano, I decided to give it a try.

Savory fillings (without any cheese and easily made vegan without the anchovy) encased in smokey red pepper wrappers were melt in your mouth deliciousness. If you can, keep the anchovy, it definitely added the je ne sais quois that made this a surprisingly tasty morsel. The hydrated raisins and the crunch of the pine nuts was just amazing!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Allow me to introduce you to the one cult that most Minnesotans would unabashedly claim membership to: Chicken and Wild Rice Soup. It is to Minnesota what BBQ is to Texas, a national obsession, if Minnesota was its only country.

Real wild rice is harvested by hand, from canoes by the Ojibwe tribes who live on the shores of the lakes where the authentic rice (a seed of a lake grass) actually grows. See my Double Mushroom and Wild Rice post for more details. Rarely available outside of the Upper Midwest because of its exorbitant price ($15 per lb, compared to $1.99 for regular rice), Co-opportunity here in Santa Monica sells something called wild rice, produced in California by Lundberg Family Rice company, but it isn't the Minnesota real deal. Sure, it has that earthy smell and taste, but Ojibwe rice when cooked curls up like little worms. While upon first viewing this phenomenon, novices may feel a bit queasy, after one taste it is all dispelled because this soup just tastes so good!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Herbed Ricotta Savory Tart

My new addiction is making fresh ricotta. I love it so much so let me count the ways.  

One: It's so easy to make and so gourmet tasting drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper.  

Two: It fits well with my entertaining style - a bowl of fresh ricotta along with bread, marinated olives, baby roma tomatoes from the garden, and dinner is served!

Three: Substituting it in recipes here and there to showcase its versatility gives me the joy of making it over and over again!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Eggplant Involtini with Fresh Ricotta and Scallions

Eggplant usually divides people into separate camps - love it! hate it! And then there are the fence sitters who will reflexively say they don't like eggplant, "it's slimy" or "I don't like the seeds." Here's another one for getting them off the fence.

Gently fried slices of eggplant rolled around ricotta (fresh if you got it) and baked with a simply tomato sauce. With scallions and nutmeg the only addition to the ricotta, you may wonder if it needs embellishment. Fear not; this filling is genius and simplicity at its best.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Baked Chicken with Leeks, Cabbage and Raisins

"Life happens" is something we say when deadlines get missed and blogs don't post in their usual fashion. Likewise, death happens, anticipated or not. And suddenly your lens on the world shifts, maybe only by a little, but everything tilts and you see things differently. That was my experience this past week. So I spent lots of time with family, sharing silences and deep hugs along with reminiscences and preparing meals for those feeling the pain of loss. They were not fancy eats, but comforting, satisfying nourishing food that went well with the glasses of wine that seemed to flow like water.

Grief is a strange experience, sadness mixed with happy memories and a potent reminder that whenever time is shared, especially meals, making food that tastes good and brings pleasure is as important as the joy we find in each others company. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Basque Lamb Stew

More than 20 years ago I spent a month in Biarritz, France, on the Atlantic coast, home of the best surfing in Europe. My four weeks there were heaven - language classes from 9-12, two hour lunches spent swimming on the beach and additional classes until 5pm and then home to my host family who made wonderful, simple Basque food. It was one of the happiest times of my life, and for better or worse, anything Basque invokes those happy memories. So when I found this Basque Lamb Stew on Simply Recipes I knew I would be making it sooner rather than later.

Roasted red peppers are the main ingredient to this stew aside from the lamb, and combined with just a smidgen of other savory seasonings - onion, garlic, rosemary and bay leaf - they create magic! I made less than the full amount in the original recipe (two pounds of lamb stew meat instead of three and a half) and am very sad that I short changed myself!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Charred Corn Tacos

Charred corn tacos - such an inventive dish! I have been thinking about doing this ever since Smitten Kitchen posted them and finally the stars aligned and it happened.

This was amazing. So delicious. Vegan, and protein free, but so filling and satisfying!

As always, with Mexican or Tex-Mex style food, the condiments are what make the dish, so don't skimp on them. Slices of lime (not lemon) and minced onion and cilantro over charred corn, onion and jalapeno mixture in a crunch taco shell - pure heaven!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Fried Eggplant with Aged Balsamic Vinegar

A little more than two years I started writing this blog in earnest, posting several times a week and diligently photographing the food in the posts. My main reason for taking my blogging seriously? The movie Julie and Julia, as this tribute attests. I was astounded by Julie Powell's dedication to completing all of the recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking - almost two a day - in 365 days AND blogging about it. That's what I call perseverance!

That said, I am taking a page from her book and cooking from Molto Italiano, by Mario Batali. Fear not, there are no plans to cook the entire book, but a decent selection of the recipes because I am always so inspired when reading anything he has produced.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Pomodori al Tonno - Tuna Stuffed Tomatoes

Tired of summer's tomatoes yet? Me neither! I came across this simple and pretty snack/appetizer/light meal on Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino and decided it was my next tomato meal. And because everything sounds better in Italian!

This is barely a recipe, more of a suggestion for a food preparation. But upon showing up in the work lunchroom with these, there were plenty of ooos and ahhs so I decided they were worth a post.

These were kind of jumbo sized roma tomatoes, making them less of an amuse buche and more of an open-wide-la-buche, so I cut them in half.  As for the tuna fish salad, everyone has their own version, and it is one of those foods that I am extremely finicky about, dating to my childhood. So make your favorite and stuff it into a ripe tomato, enjoying the last days of summer!