Thursday, August 08, 2019

Ginger-Turmeric Potatoes and Green Beans (Aloo Faliyan)

This is easy and absolutely delicious either at room temperature or hot. It does take a bit of chopping, but is totally worth it. From Milk Street: Tuesday Nights by Christopher Kimball.

Serves 6
Start to Finish: 45 minutes

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons yellow or brown mustard seeds
1-1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
12 ounces small Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (don't use russet or starchy potatoes - they'll break down)
12 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup halved grape tomatoes
1/3 cup cashews, toasted and roughly chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 to 1 serrano, minced (optional)

In a large skillet over medium, heat oil until shimmering. Add shallot, ginger, mustard and cumin seeds, and pepper flakes. Cook, stirring frequently, until shallot has softened and is just beginning to brown, abut 2 minutes.

Stir in turmeric, potatoes, green beans, salt and water. Then cover and cook until potatoes are just barely tender, bout 8 minutes. Uncover pan. If all of water has cooked off, add 1 to 2 tablespoons, then continue to cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables are tender and pan is dry, another 2 to 5 minutes.

Off heat, stir in lemon juice. Season to taste with salt if needed. Fold in tomatoes, cashews, cilantro and optional serrano.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Black Forest Cake

Rose has been interested in this recipe for a while and it turns out that the best time to make it was for her birthday! So it was an experiment and a celebration at the same time. It is from A Baker’s Life by Paul Hollywood. You can find the original recipe here.

Making this cake it struck me that, much like Tiramisu, the cake acts as a conductor to all the cream, cherries, and kirsch. Though the chocolate, of course, is a definite presence.

The cake part of this didn't work well for us. Looking around, I saw that Mary Berry's Black Forest Gateau didn't have any butter and, therefore, might not have been quite as hard as the Paul Hollywood version. Or I just didn't do a good job with his chocolate sponge. That's a definite possibility.

Be that as it may, we liked the rest of the recipe very well. So we'll be making it next time using our own Easy Chocolate Buttermilk Cake. It's easy, it's foolproof and our son-in-law who loves Black Forest Cake says that a deep chocolate flavor is his favorite here ... and it's got that flavor for sure. We'll use Mary Berry's formula of baking in two 9" cake pans and horizontally slicing them in two, resulting in four layers.

Serves 12

For the cake
One recipe Easy Chocolate Buttermilk Cake 

Bake in two 9" cake pans, horizontally slicing them in two, resulting in four layers. (Or just use three of the 4 layers if that's how tall you want the cake.)

For the filling and topping 3 layers
(increase as needed for 4 layers)
3 tbsp kirsch
4 tbsp cherry jam
900ml (32fl oz) double cream, whipped
400g (14oz) tin pitted black cherries, drained and halved

To decorate
60g (2¼oz) dark chocolate (60-70%)
A handful of fresh cherries

To assemble, carefully cut the cake horizontally into three even layers (see tip below). Place one sponge on your serving plate and sprinkle evenly with 1½ tbsp kirsch. Spread half of the cherry jam over the sponge then apply a layer of whipped cream on top, and spread it out with a palette knife.

Scatter over half of the cherries. Place another sponge on top, sprinkle with the rest of the kirsch, then repeat the jam, cream and cherry layers. Place the last sponge on top. Load a palette knife with cream and spread it all over, covering the entire cake in a thin layer of cream.

Press finely grated chocolate around the sides and top.

Pipe rosettes of cream around the edge and sit whole cherries on them.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Bollywood Kitchen

Bollywood Kitchen
Home-Cooked Indian Meals Paired with Unforgettable Bollywood Films
You’re invited to a party where the food and entertainment are both in Technicolor. It’s “dinner and a movie” in this vibrant, beautifully photographed tour of Indian food and films.

Indian cuisine and Indian cinema share much in common – bold colors and flavors with plenty of drama. But to the uninitiated, they can seem dizzying. Let Sri Rao be your guide. As one of the only Americans working in Bollywood, Sri is an expert on Indian musical films, and as an avid cook, he’s taken his mom’s authentic, home-cooked recipes and adapted them for the modern, American kitchen.

Sri has paired each meal with one of his favorite Bollywood movies. Sri will introduce each film to you, explaining why you’ll love it, and letting you in on some juicy morsels from behind the scenes.
This is a quick read and I'm happy to say it is absolutely solid on the movies. I've seen a lot of the author's selections and they are a good representation of new and old Bollywood movies that are very accessible. He also has three supplemental movie recommendations for each major selection so that if you like a film you can explore similar ones. Those also were right on the money. His descriptions are engaging and I liked the bits of extra information he scattered throughout the book.

The recipes are a good blend of his mother's Indian home cooking, adapted for the American kitchen including Indian takes on American food, such as the Bollywood Burger and seasoned sweet potato fries. Sri grew up in America and he understands how to keep recipes authentic but not time-consuming.  I also like the fact that each movie is matched with a full meal, so you don't have to wonder what side dishes to come up with.

I made the Keema and the Chicken Rollups (street food that is like Indian chicken fajitas). Both were very good, though much hotter than I like. I'd advise cutting the cayenne in half if, like me, you don't like it hot.

The way the recipes were adapted were definitely easy although the author seems to have too generous a sense of portion size. For example, the Keema was supposed to serve 4-6 using 2 pounds of hamburger. Oy veh! We halved it and it served the three of us with leftovers for 2. So keep a judicious eye on his proportions compared to how many you want to serve.

Recommended for those wanting to dabble in Indian food and movies!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Shepherd's Pie

This is from Cooking for Friends by Gordon Ramsay. Rose is a Gordon Ramsay fan and after sampling the many recipes she's made for us, I can see why. This Shepherd's Pie is a great example. It is still a simple dish but has been elevated beyond the regular Shepherd's Pies I've tried in the past, which, to be fair, never seemed that great. This one is great and will make you and your family very happy.

Shepherd's Pie

1 pound ground lamb or beef
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup red wine
1.5 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 pounds baking potatoes
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons hot milk
4 tablespoons Parmesan
2 egg yolks

1. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Season the ground meat with salt and pepper and fry in a thin layer of oil until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer the meat to a bowl using a slotted spoon.

2. Add more oil to the pan and stir in the onion, carrot, and garlic. Fry, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are golden brown, 4-5 minutes. Add the flour and tomato paste and stir for a couple of minutes longer. Pour in the red wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to dislodge the browned sediment. Let the wine boil until it has almost all evaporated and the pan is quite dry.

3. Pour the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Return the meat to the pan and add the Worcestershire sauce. Turn the heat to the lowest setting and partially cover the pan. Simmer, stirring every once in a while, until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened, 30-40 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Meanwhile, cook the chunks of potatoes in boiling salted water until tender when pierced with a small knife, 15-20 minutes. Drain well, then mash with butter, hot milk, Parmesan, and egg yolks. Season to taste and set aside.

5. Pour the lamb or beef mixture into an 8 cup baking dish. Spoon the mashed potato on top. Bake until top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling up around the sides, 20-25 minutes.

Monday, October 08, 2018

New School Tuna Casserole

This is from Cooking Light. It's a tangy alternative to the regular tuna casserole and I like them both.

We adapted it slightly, using more salt (as always with CL recipes), regular egg noodles instead of whole-wheat, and tarragon instead of dill (it's what we had on hand).

We also forgot to pick up chicken stock so used all milk for the sauce, embellishing with a judicial splash of Worcestershire.

New School Tuna Casserole
Serves 6 generously.

Step 1

12 ounces uncooked egg noodles

Preheat oven to 375°F. Cook noodles until very al dente.

Step 2

1 tablespoon oil
8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

Heat oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium. Add mushrooms; cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add onion and garlic; cook until tender, about 4 more minutes. Add thyme; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Step 3

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock
2-1/2 cups milk
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1-1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 5-ounce cans albacore tuna in water, drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Add butter; stir to melt. Whisk in flour; cook until roux is golden, about 1 minute. Whisking constantly, add stock; bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer; whisk in milk, tomato paste, mustard, lemon zest and juice, salt, and pepper. Return to a simmer; simmer 2 to 3 minutes. Pour mixture into bowl with noodles. Stir in tuna and dill.

Step 4

2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about ½ cup)

Coat a 13- x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Transfer tuna mixture to baking dish; top with cheese. Bake at 375°F until bubbly and cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Let stand at room temperature 5 to 10 minutes.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018


These are from "Cookies Unlimited" by Nick Malgieri. It is a simply wonderful cookbook and we've never made anything that didn't work or that we didn't like. Considering how many recipes we've tried, that's an impressive record.

This was the first recipe I made and the one that made me buy the book. These are classic crisp, spicy gingersnaps truly worthy of the "snap" in their name. Simple and delicious.


Makes about 40 cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar, plus 1/2 cup for finishing
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses

1. Set the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

2. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and spices in a bowl; stir well to mix.

3. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together on medium speed the butter and 1 cup sugar for about 5 minutes until very light, fluffy and whitened. Add the egg and continue beating until smooth.

4. Lower the speed and beat in half the dry ingredients, then the molasses. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl and beater. Beat in the remaining dry ingredients.

5. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a large rubber spatula to finish mixing the dough.

6. Place the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a shallow bowl.

7. Use a small ice cream scoop to form 1-inch-diameter pieces of dough. Roll the pieces into balls between the palms of your hands, then roll them in the sugar. Place the balls of dough on the prepared pans, leaving about 3 inches all around each, to allow for spreading.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Tres Leches Cake, Puerto Rican Style

I've never really enjoyed Tres Leches Cake which always struck me as being mildly sweet, soggy, and a bit milky. Nothing really special. Then I read about this version, in the Wall Street Journal of all places, which has been tweaked by Kathleen Squires to reflect the flavors of her beloved Puerto Rico. Rose made it for a meal provided for our parish's men's retreat and months later she's still getting compliments.

Naturally, we had to try it for ourselves. Wow. It is so delicate but also so flavorful. A hint of coconut is perfectly complimented by the nutmeg and cinnamon sprinkled across the top. Somehow it all comes together to make a dessert that is rich, light, and refreshing.

In fact, it is rich enough that we serve 16 instead of the 12 called for below. Larger pieces are just too big. And that's not something I say every day. In fact, I may say it never.

Serves: 12

For the cake:

Butter, for greasing pan
5 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup milk
2 teaspoons coffee liqueur such as Kahlua
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (14-ounce) can condensed milk
1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk
2 tablespoons aged Puerto Rican rum, such as Don Q Gran Añejo

For the whipped cream:

2 cups heavy cream
4 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Ground cinnamon
Freshly grated nutmeg

1. Butter bottom and sides of a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat egg whites on high until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and gradually beat in sugar. Then beat in yolks one at a time. Sift together flour and baking powder, and fold into wet ingredients. Mix in milk and coffee liqueur. Pour mixture into buttered baking dish.

3. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into center of cake emerges clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes. After cooling, use a toothpick or skewer to puncture cake’s surface at 2-inch intervals.

4. In a large bowl, whisk together all canned milks and rum until well combined. Carefully pour onto cooled cake. Cover cake pan with foil and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

5. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together heavy cream, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla on high until stiff peaks form, 4-5 minutes. Spread whipped cream on top of chilled cake. Finish by sprinkling with ground cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg. Serve immediately.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Corn and Bacon Pasta

Another good one from Cook's Country, this features fresh corn which struck us as kind of mind-bending when combined with pasta. It worked a treat though, with the kernels adding little crunchy, slightly sweet accents to the savory pasta.

The original recipe calls for 5 pieces of bacon. We had 8 in the fridge and decided to use them all up. It was so good that we decided we'll just go with 8 in the future too.

This recipe finishes in a flurry of activity, rather like a Chinese stir-fry, so have everything prepped before you begin cooking the pasta.

Corn and Bacon Pasta

Step 1
1 pound orecchiette

Boil in salted water until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, drain, and return to pot.

Step 2
8 slices bacon, cut into 1/2" strips

Meanwhile, cook bacon until crisp and drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from skillet.

Step 3
3 ears corn, kernels cut from cobs OR 2-1/4 cups thawed frozen corn
1 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil (divided use)
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Heat fat in skilled over medium heat until shimmering. Add corn and salt and cook until corn is bright yellow and just beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add cream, 1/4 cup basil, and pepper and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

Step 4
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
remaining 1/4 cup basil

Add sauce, Parmesan, bacon, reserved cooking water, and basil to pot with pasta. Stir until thoroughly combined and creamy. Taste for seasoning.

Pass extra Parmesan at table for serving.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Green Goddess Chicken

From Cook's Country, this has a really fresh taste that is a nice summery meal.

Green Goddess Chicken

Step 1
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 anchovy filets, rinsed

Chop herbs just enough to measure and let blender do the real work. Process in blender until smooth.

Step 2 — make the sauce
1 tablespoon buttermilk
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons herb mixture from step 1

Stir all together; set aside.

Step 3
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
3 pound chicken, cut into pieces

Combine salt and herb mixture and marinate chicken in it for at least 2 and up to 24 hours.

Step 4
Heat oven to 475. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil; place chicken, skin side up on sheet. Do not brush off marinade that sticks to chicken. Roast 25 - 30 minutes.

Transfer to platter, tend with foil, let rest for 10 minutes. Serve with sauce.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Quick, Mildly Spiced Beef

This is from Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries II. It is a lot like a korma-style mild curry from an Indian restaurant.

I don't know if I'd call it "quick" since that tends to mean 20 minutes, but it was straight-forward and easy and probably took me about 45 minutes. This has a lot of sauce and is wonderful with rice.

Quick, Mildly Spiced Beef

500 g cubed chuck steak (I used hanger steak)
2 large onions, thinly sliced (I think English onions are smaller than ours. I used one large onion and it was plenty.)
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp garam masala (or whatever curry powder you have around)
500 ml veg or beef stock (I used chicken stock)
1 tbsp grain mustard
200 ml double cream (a.k.a. heavy cream)
salt and pepper

Warm the oil in a heavy shallow casserole. Season the beef with salt and pepper, then brown on all sides in the toil, turning only occasionally. remove from the pan with a draining spoon.

Meanwhile halve, peel and thinly slice the onions, and garlic. Add the onions and garlic to the pan, letting them soften a little but not brown beyond pale honey color. Stir in the ground cumin, coriander, and garam masala, then continue cooking for five minutes before returning the meat and any juices to the pabn. Pour in the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for ten minutes, till the liquid has reduced by half.

Stir in the mustard, pour in the cram and bring back to the boil. check the seasoning before serving

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Pistachio and Yogurt Chicken Curry

Another home run from Made in India by Meera Sodha. This is a rich, spice-filled, flavorful chicken curry which fills the house with a tempting aroma. I can't stress how much we all loved this.

Pistachio and Yogurt Chicken Curry

Makes 6 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes. Cook time: 50 minutes.

1-1/4 cups unsalted shelled pistachios (divided)
2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 medium onions, sliced into fine rings
2 medium whole canned or fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1-3/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 cup chicken stock, warmed
4 tablespoons plain whole-milk Greek yogurt (plus extra to serve)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Hot cooked rice

In a food processor, pulse 1 cup pistachios to a fine powder; remove and set aside. Next, make a paste of the ginger and garlic in food processor or using a mortar and pestle.

In a large skillet (for which you have a lid), heat oil over medium heat and then add the onions. Sauté onions until caramelized, around 20 minutes, being careful not to burn. Add garlic-ginger paste and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Add tomatoes. Place a lid over skillet and let tomatoes cook 5 minutes, until starting to break down. Add black pepper, garam masala, chile flakes, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon and salt. Stir, cooking 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add chicken to pan.

Cook chicken 2 minutes per side or until seared on both sides, then add ground pistachios. Stir and cook 2 minutes, then pour in warmed chicken stock. Gently stir in yogurt. Place lid over skillet and simmer about 15 minutes or until chicken reaches 160°. Taste and adjust salt or chile as desired. Stir in a small amount of water if sauce becomes too thick. Squeeze lemon over curry just before serving.

Serve over rice topped with a dollop of yogurt, remaining pistachios and additional lemon juice, if desired.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Banh Mi Burgers

What's better than a burger? A Vietnamese flavored one! This is from Cooking Light and it hits every flavor button you've got. Plus, it's easy!

Banh Mi Burgers

Step 1
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar (we used 2 tablespoons and it was just right)
1 cup shaved English cucumber
1 cup matchstick-cut carrots (we shaved these just like the cucumbers)

Bring vinegar, water, and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan over high. Combine cucumber and carrots in a heatproof bowl; pour hot vinegar mixture over vegetables. Cover and chill at least 15 minutes or up to 3 days.

Step 2
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Sriracha chili sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Stir all together; set aside.

Step 3
1 pound 93% lean ground beef (we used chuck)
2 tablespoons olive oil (since we were using chuck, we skipped the oil)
2 teaspoons grated garlic
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
Cooking spray

Preheat grill to medium-high (about 450°F). Combine beef, oil, garlic, ginger, and black pepper in a bowl; gently mix just until ingredients are incorporated. Shape mixture into 4 (1/2-inch-thick) patties. Place patties on a grill grate coated with cooking spray. Grill, covered, until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 140°F, about 3 minutes per side, or to desired degree of doneness. Remove from heat, and keep warm.

Step 4
4 whole-grain hamburger buns, split and toasted
1-1/2 cups loosely packed cilantro sprigs
2 serrano chiles, thinly sliced

Spread about 1 tablespoon mayonnaise mixture on each bun half. Place 1 burger patty on each bottom bun half. Drain cucumber mixture; place about 1/4 cup on each burger. Divide cilantro sprigs and chiles among burgers. Cover with top halves of buns.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Alabama BBQ Chicken with White BBQ Sauce

This is juicy and really flavorful. I wondered what a mayonnaise-based sauce could possibly add to chicken and now I know. A really delicious twist! This is from Cook's Country.

Alabama BBQ Chicken

White BBQ Sauce

3/4 C mayonnaise
2 T cider vinegar
2 t sugar
1/2 t prepared horseradish
1/2 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
1/4 t cayenne pepper


1 t salt
1 t black pepper
1/2 t cayenne pepper
2 (3-1/2 to 4 pound) whole chickens, patted dry and split

2 C hickory wood chips

Vegetable oil for grill grate

1. For the sauce: Mix all ingredients in blender until smooth, about 1 minute. Refrigerate sauce in airtight container for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.

2. For the chicken: Mix salt, black pepper, and cayenne in small bowl. Rub spice mixture all over chicken.

3. Soak wood chips in bowl of water to cover for 15 minutes. Meanwhile open bottom grill vents completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (about 90 coals) and burn until charcoal is covered with fine gray ash. Place 13 by 9 inch disposable aluminum roasting pan in center of grill. Pour half of coals into pile on each side of grill, leaving pan in the center. Scatter wood chips over coals and set cooking grate in place. Cover with lid vents positioned over center of grill and opened halfway. Let grill heat for 5 minutes.

4. Dip wad of paper towels in oil and oil grate, holding paper towels with long-handled tongs. Place chicken skin side down on center of grill. Cover with half opened lid vents over chicken.

5. Grill chickens until skin is well browned, 35 to 45 minutes. Flip chickens skin side up and grill, covered, until breast meat registers 165* on instant-read thermometer, 15 to 20 minutes longer.

6. Transfer chickens to cutting board, brush with 2 tablespoons sauce, tent with foil, and let rest 10 minutes. Remove foil and brush chicken with 1 tablespoon sauce. Carve and serve, passing remaining sauce at table.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Black Bean Tamale Pie

This is really great. It's from Jim Fobel's Casseroles which I've had since it came out in 1997. It's meatless but so flavorful no one will care. In fact, we added chicken once and couldn't really tell it was in there. So we stick with the original.

It reheats well, can be made in advance, freezes well, and I've never had anyone not like it.

Black Bean Tamale Pie

3 15-ounce cans black beans (rinsed and drained)
1/2 cup dry sherry
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
1 jalapeno pepper, minced with the seeds
1 garlic clove, minced
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
5-1/4 cups water
1-1/2 cups canned, diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup scallion, sliced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
2 cups yellow cornmeal (coarse)
1-1/2 cups low-fat plain yogurt (I use regular sour cream)
2 cups (8 oz.) coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup tomato sauce

For serving (optional — I never bother)
sour cream
black olives
fresh cilantro stem

In a sealable plastic bag or shallow dish, combine the black beans, sherry, and lemon juice. Marinate in the refrigerator 2 to 12 hours. Drain before using.

Spoon the olive oil into a heavy nonstick or well-seasoned skillet over moderately high heat. Add the corn, toss once, then let brown very well, about 5 minutes. Toss again and continue browning for a minute or two. Add the jalapeno, garlic, cumin, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper. Cook a minute or two, then pour in 1/4 cup of the water to deglaze the pan.

Turn out into a large bowl and toss in the tomatoes, scallions, and cilantro.

The recipe may be prepared a day ahead to this point.

Bring 3 cups of the water and the remaining 1-1/2 teaspoons salt to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan over high heat.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together the cornmeal and remaining 2 cups cold water.

Add the cornmeal mixture to the boiling water and stir constantly until the mixture returns to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is as thick as mashed potatoes, about 5 minutes.

Stir in 1 cup of the yogurt.

Cook over very low heat, stirring frequently, until again as thick as mashed potatoes, about 8 minutes.
Spread about 2/3 of the cornmeal batter in a lightly oiled 9x13" casserole (keep the remainder covered over hot water to keep warm), making a 1 inch raised edge all around.

Spoon the drained black beans on top and press in lightly.

Sprinkle 1-1/2 cups of the cheese over the beans.

Add all of the corn-tomato mixture and spread into an even layer.

Spoon the remaining cornmeal mixture over the top in dabs and spread to make an even layer that covers the top (it's ok if some of the vegetables show through).

Spoon the remaining yogurt and the canned tomato sauce in alternating diagonal lines. (I never do this part.)

Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheddar. Bake at 350° for about 1 hour, or until deep golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and let stand for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Cut into squares, remove them with a spatula, and serve hot, with a dolllop of sour cream, a couple black olives and radish slices, and a sprig of cilantro, if desired.

If making ahead, cool to room temperature, cover with foil, and refrigerate. To reheat sprinkle the casserole with 2 to 3 tablespoons water and cover with foil. If at room temperature, bake at 350 for about 45 minutes. If cold, add about 15 minutes.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Korean BBQ Buns

We really loved this one which is a great testament to the basic goodness of the recipe, since we wound up changing a lot of details around. It's from Cooking Light which is so good at nailing ethnic flavors and textures while simplifying the work for an American kitchen.

I've put the recipe below as Cooking Light had it but we changed a few things on the fly and plan to change more in the future.
  • We doubled the recipe to serve as a meal for 4. This says it serves 8 so maybe it was supposed to be an appetizer?
  • Ground chuck instead of sirloin
  • Bread crumbs instead of panko
  • This seemed overly sweet, possibly because every step involved sugar. We'll skip the pan glaze next time.
  • We couldn't find steamed buns anywhere (frozen or not). So we used flour tortillas. Never a problem finding those in Dallas! Cooking Light suggested slider buns as an alternative.
  • We made the meatballs but they are unwieldy in a tortilla. That's probably something the buns would help hold onto. If we used slider buns then we'd make slider size burgers. However, we liked the tortilla option and next time would just pinch off large pieces to cook without worrying about any round shape.
Step 1 — Pickles
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 cup 1/8”-thick English cucumber slices

Bring all except cucumbers to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove from heat; add cucumber slices. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Drain.

Step 2
8 ounces 90% lean ground sirloin
1/4 cup whole-wheat panko
1-1/2 teaspoons light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 garlic clove, grated
1 large egg white, beaten
1-1/2 teaspoons soy sauce

Meanwhile, stir together all until well blended. Shape mixture into 16 meatballs, a scant 1 tablespoon each. Heat a large skillet over medium. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add meatballs to pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.

Step 3
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1-1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

Move meatballs to side of skillet. Add oil, sugar, and soy sauce to center of skillet; cook until sugar dissolves and sauce is glazy, about 1 minute. Stir to coat meatballs.

Step 4
8 frozen folded Chinese steamed buns (if you can’t find them, you can stuff the meatballs into standard slider buns)

Layer 3 well-moistened paper towels on a microwave-safe plate. Place frozen buns on prepared plate; cover with 3 more well-moistened paper towels. Microwave at high until warmed, about 1 minute and 30 seconds, checking for doneness every 10 seconds after heating for 1 minute.

Step 5
8 small red leaf lettuce leaves

Divide pickle slices, lettuce leaves, and meatballs evenly among buns.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Spinach & Egg Pie

This is from Paul Hollywood's website where you can see a photo of the finished pie. It is absolutely delicious.

We feel as if the world is a small place and we are all alike. Until, that is, we begin baking with British recipes!

For one thing the measurements, beginning with the oven temperature, can be mystifying. This conversion chart helps considerably!

  • We doubled the amount of spinach which would have been nearly enough to match the result that we saw in the picture. 
  • See what you think of the eggs nestled in the pie. I loved the idea but when we were eating it the result was if one was tucking into a delicious meal and then stopped by a roadblock of boiled egg. I mean, we like boiled eggs but it just didn't work for us. So next time we'll just skip that bit.

Spinach & Egg Pie
Serves 6


For the shortcrust pastry
- 275g plain flour
- Pinch of salt
- 135g cold butter, diced
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 tsp lemon juice

For the filling
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 225g frozen spinach (double this)
- 5 medium eggs
- 200g cream cheese
- 100g mature cheddar cheese
- 1 tbsp chopped chives
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 medium egg - beaten for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 200C, gas mark 6. (400°)

Mix the flour and salt together. Rub in the butter until it looks like breadcrumbs. Mix the egg with the lemon juice and 2-3 tbsp of cold water. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and pour in the egg mix. Use a knife to mix together and form a dough. If the dough is too dry add a splash more water.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead to form a smooth dough. Wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge to chill for at least 15 minutes.

Gently heat the oil and then cook the onion and garlic until soft. Transfer to a bowl. Add the frozen spinach to the pan and increase the heat. Cook, stirring often until all the spinach is soft and all the liquid released has evaporated. Add the spinach to the onion and garlic and leave to cool.

Beat two of the eggs with the cream cheese. Add the cheddar and chives, and then season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add to the cooled onion and spinach mixture.

Roll out 2/3 of the pastry not a 30cm circle and add to a lined 21cm loose bottom cake tin. Roll out the remaining pastry to a 24cm circle. Spread the filling over the base. Make 3 evenly spaced depressions in the filling. Crack the remaining eggs into each of the depressions.

Brush the rim of the pastry with egg wash and place a lid on top. Press the edges to seal. Trim off any excess pastry. Brush the top with egg wash. Make a steam hole in the centre of the lid. Bake for 50-55 minutes.

Can be eaten hot or cold.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Pork in Green Sauce

I love to make a Roasted Pork Shoulder for Christmas. And I love to make Pork in Green Sauce with the leftovers. The tangy sauce perfectly complements the rich pork. Wrapped in a flour tortilla, it is one of my favorite meals. I haven't actually tried eating it every week, but I feel as if I could.

The leftover pork means I'm halfway there, but for times when I haven't been hosting a big celebration then the Carnitas recipe below does the trick. It is fairly simple and hands-off, though it does take some time.

The Green Sauce is a variable that I always wish I could buy somewhere but I've never found a prepared version that isn't either blazing hot or weirdly viscous (ick). And it isn't as if I'm super picky because just about any version I've made myself works great. I've got links below to a couple of good ones.

Make this, add green sauce, and wrap in a flour tortilla. 
[Via Homesick Texan, adapted from Diana Kennedy]

Step 1
3 pounds of pork butt
1 cup of orange juice
3 cups of water
2 teaspoons of salt

Cut pork into strips (three inches by one inch), add to a large pot with the liquids and salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered on low for 2 hours. Do not touch the meat.

Step 2
After two hours, turn heat up to medium high, and continue to cook until all the liquid has evaporated and the pork fat has rendered (about 45 minutes). Stir a few times, to keep pork from sticking to bottom of pan.

Step 3
When pork has browned on both sides, it’s ready (there will be liquid fat in the pan). Serve either cubed or shredded (pork will be tender enough that just touching it will cause it to fall apart).
Serves 4-6


I tend to pick up whatever Mexican cookbook that comes to hand and find a green sauce. As long as it has tomatillos I'm happy.

There are two you can try right here. The green sauces from this Chilaquiles recipe and this Rick Bayless recipe for Tacos of Tomatillo Chicken are both delicious. See which you like best.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Chai-Spiced Pound Cake

This is straight-up fantastic. This highly spiced cake is like a cross between a pound cake and sponge cake ... so we could just call it a bundt cake and be done with it. That said, the texture is just heavy enough to be substantial and the cake has a lovely, moist texture. I was surprised to find there was a bit of a bite at the end which felt as if I'd eaten fresh ginger. Turns out the spice mixture has black pepper as an ingredient.

I've never liked chai-spiced drinks but then I saw this recipe in the King Arthur Flour catalog which looked so enticing that I bought their chai spice so I could make it. Of course, I don't love to drink chai but I might like to eat it in a dessert. As it turns out, the investment was well worth it.

I saw among the comments at King Arthur that someone topped this with a powdered sugar glaze made with a teaspoon of the chai spice. That sounds like a variation I might try next time. Because I will be making this again ... and again ... and again.

Chai-Spiced Pound Cake

16 tablespoons (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons chai spice or 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ginger, 2 teaspoons cardamom, 1-1/2 teaspoons allspice, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup sour cream or yogurt, full-fat preferred
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and honey until smooth and somewhat lightened in color; this will take about 2 minutes at medium speed of an electric hand or stand mixer.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute or two and scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl between additions.
  4. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chai spice blend (or spices).
  5. Measure the flour by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Gently but thoroughly stir half the flour into the butter/egg mixture. Add the sour cream (or yogurt) and vanilla, stirring to combine. Finally, stir in the remaining flour. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat briefly, to incorporate any sticky residue.
  6. Thoroughly grease a 9- or 10-cup Bundt pan. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until a cake tester, bamboo skewer, or long toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Remove the cake from the oven, and cool in the pan for 15 minutes before turning it out onto a rack to finish cooling.
  8. Cool completely before slicing. Store any leftovers, tightly wrapped in plastic, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Cheesy Chicken-and-Spinach Stromboli Ring

Another one from the September Cooking Light, which is proving to be a real winner. This was absolutely delicious. I'd never heard of a Stromboli before and when I went researching it most of the recipes looked like variations of an Italian sub sandwich made in a pizza dough jelly roll. Which I'm also fine with. But this has a creamy element which I'd be loathe to give up as well as a satisfying heft.

We wound up adapting the recipe a fair amount:
  • We made a white flour pizza crust (using flour instead of Parmesan in the linked recipe). I just felt like whole wheat would compete with the filling too much.
  • We did use the fresh spinach specified by the recipe but will use thawed frozen spinach next time since it just gets cooked in with the rest of the filling.
  • We didn't want to buy a rotisserie chicken (which we almost never do) just for this recipe so just cooked up a chicken breast ourselves in the oil and garlic. It would be a perfect recipe for using leftover chicken.
  • The ring adds a very festive air but we might also try it as a straight Stromboli.

Cheesy Chicken-and-Spinach Stromboli Ring
Serves 4

12 ounces fresh prepared whole-wheat pizza dough (Cooking Light's note: Most store-bought pizza dough comes in 1- or 1 1/2-pound portions, but you only need 12 ounces for this recipe. Use the leftovers to make breadsticks or flatbread the next day.)
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
8 ounces fresh spinach
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup)
6 ounces shredded skinless rotisserie chicken breast (about 1-1/2 cups)

Step 1
Let pizza dough stand at room temperature 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 450°F.

Step 2
Heat a large skillet over medium-low. Add oil and garlic; cook, swirling occasionally, until garlic is golden, about 2 to 4 minutes. Drain oil from skillet into a small bowl to reserve, keeping garlic in skillet. Add spinach to skillet; increase heat to medium-high, and cook, tossing constantly, until spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes to cool.

Step 3
Stir together ricotta and Parmesan in a medium bowl. Add spinach mixture and chicken; stir well to combine.

Step 4
(Cooking Light has pictures which really help with this part.)

Place dough on a large piece of parchment paper, and roll dough into a 20- x 6-inch rectangle. Spoon chicken mixture down center of dough to make an approximately 20- x 3-inch strip.

Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, create tabs in dough on both sides of filling: Starting at the edge of dough, cut 1-1/2-inch-long diagonal slits (1/2-inch to 3/4-inch apart) in toward filling.

Fold tabs over filling, and pinch tabs together to seal.

Carefully shape stuffed dough into a ring; pinch ends of dough together to seal.

Step 5
Transfer stromboli ring on parchment to a baking sheet; fold or cut away excess parchment to fit baking sheet. Brush half of reserved garlic-infused oil over dough. Bake stromboli at 450°F until dough is browned, about 18 minutes. Remove from oven; brush with remaining garlic oil. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

White Cheddar and Bacon Risotto

This is from Cooking Light and loaded with flavor. I got Hannah a subscription for her birthday and gave her the August issue so she had something to unwrap. It had so many interesting recipes that I had to get myself the August issue also!

The only change we made was to double the bacon and just going from two slices to 4 was not that unhealthy.

The cooking time is half an hour, but that doesn't include things like dicing onions. So plan on 30-45 minutes.

White Cheddar and Bacon Risotto
Serves 4 (serving size: 1 cup)

4 cups unsalted chicken stock
2 fresh thyme sprigs (we used a pinch of dried)
2 bacon slices
1-1/4 cups diced onion
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme (we used a bigger pinch of thyme)
3 ounces white cheddar cheese, shredded (3/4 cup)
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

Step 1
Bring stock and thyme sprigs to a simmer in a saucepan over medium; keep warm over low.

Step 2
Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium for 4 minutes or until crisp. Remove from pan; crumble.

Add onion; sauté 4 minutes. Add rice; cook 1 minute, stirring to coat. Add wine; cook 2 minutes or until liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently.

Stir in 1-1/2 cups stock; cook 4 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring frequently. Add 2-1/4 cups stock, 3/4 cup at a time, stirring frequently until each portion is absorbed before adding more.

Reserve remaining 1/4 cup stock; discard thyme sprigs. Stir in salt and pepper.

Step 3
Stir in peas, chopped thyme, and cheese; cook 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat; stir in reserved 1/4 cup stock.

Divide rice mixture among 4 bowls; top with green onions and bacon.