August, 2004

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Pasta with Sausage and Vegetable Sauce
Aug 31st, 2004

I haven't been cooking much the past few weeks, we've been crazy busy and much eating out has ensued. But last night I actually broke out the pots and pans and made a very quick delicious recipe from Jaques Pepins' cookbook "Jacques Pepin's Table: The Complete Today's Gourmet." The original recipe contains just pasta and veggies, but we had some sausage in the freezer and I knew it would make a few members of our household very happy, so in it went. To make the original vegetarian recipe, just eliminate the sausage and add 1/4 cup olive oil for sauteing the eggplant and onions.

Pasta with Sausage and Vegetable Sauce

This recipe is really good and a nice way to introduce eggplant to those who might be a bit wary of it. Jim even ate his. Six ounces is indeed a very small eggplant, it turned out to be only half of my fairly petite specimen. So I cut the remaining half in two, placed it cut side down on an oiled, foil-covered baking sheet and roasted it in the oven at 450 or so while we ate dinner. Eventually Jim found it in the oven and pulled it out. The eggplant then can be scooped out of the shell and mixed in with the leftovers for lunch the next day. It adds a nice roasted taste to the dish and ups the vegetable content.


Pasta with Sausage & Vegetable Sauce

1 large red onion, sliced thinly
1 small eggplant (6 ounces), chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
3 to 4 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled and minced
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp grated parmesan
1/2 pound pasta (I used linguini)
a package of sausage from your freezer


Get everything chopped up and then put the water on for the pasta and heat up a big pan on medium high heat. Brown the sausage. Add the eggplant and onion to the pan using the oil from the sausage to saute. If the sausage is lean or you have ommitted it, add some olive oil. Saute for about 6 minutes, until the veggies are browned and soft. (Be sure to put the pasta in the pot of now boiling water sometime during all this).

Then remove your pan from the heat and add the tomatoes and garlic. Give it a good stir. Add 1/3 cup of the pasta cooking water to your pan, then drain the pasta and add it to your sauce. Stir everything around in your pan then put it all in a bit bowl and top with the chopped parsley and garlic.

-adapted from Jacques Pepin's Table: The Complete Today's Gourmet
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Calzones
Aug 12th, 2004

I ususally only have one day a week when I can make a recipe that will take longer than 45 minutes to prepare. So this Sunday I knocked off two dishes that kept me in the kitchen for a bit. One was a Chile Verde dish with pork that required long simmering. It was unmemorable and I won't bother making it again. But the other was a vegetarian calzone recipe from one of Jaime Oliver's cookbooks, and it was kind of a long process, but they turned out really yummy. And who can object to having 8 large calzones to put in the freezer for weekday dinners?

I don't know if I'll bother documenting the whole recipe here, but basically you take a white bread/pizza dough recipe, let it rise until doubled, then divide the dough into 8 balls which are then rolled into 1/4 inch thick frisbee shapes. The filling was basically a ratatouille (eggplant, zucchini, onions, and tomatoes sauteed and then simmered for an hour and a half) with fresh basil and a ball of fresh mozzarella divided into 8 pieces. You put a scoop of filling in the middle and then fold the dough over, using a bit of water to help seal the edges, and then roll the edges up a bit to make a thick rolled edge. The recipe has you make 3 slashes in the top of each calzone to let the filling bubble out a bit, and then bake for 20 minutes or so in 350F degree oven.

They're very impressive looking, and you could use this same basic recipe with many different kinds of fillings. The biggest problem I had was that the filling was a bit watery, so if I put in too much the calzone leaked and didn't seal, but if I used just enough so the calzone was easy to seal and looked great, there wasn't quite enough filling to my taste when it came time to eat. I might experiment with another type of filling, maybe a smear of tomato paste instead of cooked tomatoes, cheese, herbs, and some kind of cooked veggie or meat.

If anyone wants the whole recipe, let me know.


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Coconut Baked Mahi Mahi with Chutney Sauce
Aug 6th, 2004

Adam threw out the idea of coconut crusted mahi mahi and then refused to follow up with a recipe, forcing me to trawl the internet for some way to indulge my immediate obsession with somehow encasing the mahi mahi in my freezer with coconut and scarfing it down. The recipe I found suggest using snapper or other kinds of white fish, but it works just fine with mahi mahi. (And I still want your recipe Adam).

The only hard part about it was that my fillets had their skins on and I needed them off. It was definitely do-able, but reinforced my need for new knives. Those things are practically no better than butter knives, and they're my wedding knives. You know what that means, it means I've been married long enough for my knives to get irretrievably dull (it will be 8 years in a couple weeks, something we just remembered last night). Yup, I'm old.

Anyway, this is a good recipe. The only things I would do differently if I made it again would be to use a little lighter hand with the breading and to toast the bread crumbs beforehand. The toasting part wouldn't be necessary if you're using storebought bread crumbs, but I ground my own and they really should have been toasted (finally something to do with those ends of loaves of french bread we buy and never manage to finish before they get stale. Just cut them into chunks, pop them in freezer bags, and zoom them around in your food processor or blender when you need crumbs). The recipe says to sprinkle on the remaining breading mixture after you flip the fillets, I would also leave that out. Just a thin coat of crispy breading is all you need.


Peppery Coconut Baked Fish with Chutney Sauce
Yield: 8 Servings

3 T Oil
1/2 c Butter, melted
3 T Orange juice
2 T Lemon juice
2 t Garlic powder
2 t Ginger
2 t Crushed red pepper flakes
1 c Plain bread crumbs
1 1/2 c Unsweetened coconut
8 6 oz fish fillets (red
Snapper, bass, turbot, or
Orange roughy)

FOR SAUCE
1/2 c Mayonnaise
1/4 c Chutney (like mango)
1 T Lemon juice
1 t Curry powder


Heat oven to 425 degrees and pour oil into 13x9 baking pan (or spray with Pam); tilt pan to coat evenly. In shallow bowl, mix butter, orange juice, lemon juice, garlic powder, ginger, red pepper flakes. Salt and pepper if desired. In shallow bowl, combine coconut and bread crumbs.

Dip fish in butter mixture and coat with bread crumb mixture. Bake at 425 for 5 minutes [I would wait a little longer before turning them over, they didn't seem crispy on that side yet]. Turn fillets over; sprinkle with remaining mixture (I would leave this out). Bake an additional 10-15 minutes or until fish is golden brown and flakes easily. Mix all sauce ingredients. Serve sauce over fish, garnish with lemon and parsley.

-Der Interneten
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Fig Bread
Aug 3rd, 2004

I don't know if other cities or even other neighborhoods have this problem, but come late July Beacon Hill is overrun with fresh figs. Our yard does not feature a fig tree, but all the yards around us do and last week we were presented with a flat of green, ripe figs. I have no idea what kind of figs these are. Jim and I saw a vendor at the Pike Place Market this weekend who had a variety of figs laid out and labelled. There were the Black Mission Figs, the Italian Figs, and then there were a pile that looked just like the ones that grow around our house. They were labelled 'Hand Grown, Hand Picked Figs'. So apparently that guy had no clue what kind they were either.

Anyway, fresh figs being fairly perishable, I had to figure out how to use as many as possible in a short amount of time. I was also invited to a barbecue and a neighbor's birthday party and needed something to bring to both. Enter fig bread. The recipe I used is very simple and it's all over the internet. In fact, it's the first recipe that pops up if you google 'fig bread'. I was kind of hoping to make something a bit more fancy, but really, the bread this makes is so addictive it's like fig crack. And I should know because six loaves of the stuff have gone through our kitchen in the last week.

Be warned, smooshed up green figs are not pretty. The insides kind of look like little white worms squiggling inside a pink fleshy paste. Smooshed up green figs with egg and oil are even less attractive. The batter goes into the oven looking pale, with strange flecks of green from the skins. And it doesn't fill up much of the loaf pans. But what comes out of the oven are big, deep brown, sticky loaves of sweet fig crack. Everyone in my neighborhood who was at the birthday party now has a copy of the recipe, as there were many cries of "Oh, this is good. Ummmm. Yeah this second piece is good too. I have ten tons of figs at home and no idea what to do with them. May I have this recipe please?" So I can never take this bread to a local event again, but I've made some fig tree owners very happy.


Fig Bread
Makes 3 loaves

3 eggs
2 1/2 c. sugar
2 c. ripe figs, mashed
3/4 c. peanut oil
3 c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 c. chopped pecans


Beat eggs, add sugar and beat well. Add fig puree and oil. Sift together flour, soda, salt and cinnamon. Add the fig mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Beat well. Fold in pecans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour in greased and floured loaf pans.

-Der Interneten
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