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Ramja (kidney beans in a spicy tomato sauce)

May 14, 2020

Ramja is a Punjabi-inspired stew of kidney beans in a spicy tomato sauce, topped with mozzarella. It’s adapted from a NY Times magazine. I like to serve it with white rice and/or a flatbread such as naan.

Preheat oven to 350o

1 large red onion, peeled
1-2 green chilis (serrano, jalapeño, etc) or 1 tsp green chili powder
5 garlic cloves, peeled
1 inch piece ginger root, peeled
½ tsp red chili powder
big pinch powdered cinnamon
½ tsp cumin seeds
1-28 oz can crushed or diced tomatoes, not drained
2-15 oz cans kidney beans, drained
1 c diced mozzarella
¼ c white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
¼ c water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 c chopped cilantro

Cut the onion into quarters lengthwise. Slice 1 piece thinly and set aside in a small bowl. Put the other 3 pieces in a blender or food processor along with the garlic, ginger, cinnamon, and red and green chilis. Process until not-quite pureed. You may need to scrape down the bowl and/or add a bit of oil.

Heat 2 TB of oil in a heavy Dutch oven over medium heat and add the cumin seeds. Cook, stirring, until fragrant and lightly browned. Add the blended mixture and cook, stirring, for about 5 min until very fragrant and just starting to brown. Add beans and tomatoes and stir. Salt to taste and scatter the cheese over the top. Put, uncovered, in the oven and bake (without stirring) until bubbling and the cheese is lightly browned, 30-40 min

Dissolve the salt and sugar in the vinegar and water. Pour boiling water over the onion slices and drain after about 20 sec. Stir in the vinegar mixture. Serve, passing the onions and cilantro at the table.

Porridge bread (oat bread)

March 16, 2020

This is the best oat bread I have ever tasted. It makes marvelous toast and great sandwiches. I will warn you, it is not a bread for novices as it requires some judgement based on experience.

bread

2 c porridge (oatmeal) – see note below
5 c all-purpose flour + extra if needed
1 envelope yeast (2-1/4 tsp)
2 tsp salt
3 TB maple syrup or dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 c plain mashed potatoes
½ stick butter cut in pieces and softened
1 c warmed milk

Note: Put 1 cup oats and 2-1/4 c water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, uncovered. Cook, stirring every couple of minutes, until almost tender. This will take maybe 12 min for steel-cut oats and less time for rolled oats. I don’t recommend the instant kind. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for at least 10 min. Let cool before using.

Put all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix on low speed for a few minutes. If the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl, which it probably will, add more flour until the dough clears the sides but still sticks to the bottom. Make sure the bits of butter are being incorporated.

After 5-6 min, turn the dough out onto a floured counter and knead by hand briefly to form a compact ball. Put in a greased bowl and let rise at room temperature until almost doubled in bulk.

Turn the dough out onto the counter again and divide in 2 equal parts. Knead each part and form into a log about 8 inches long. Place each log in a greased loaf pan (I use the standard 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 inch size) and let rise until the dough is above the lip of the pan by about ½ inch. Bake at 350o for 30-35 min. Take out of oven and brush the top with oil or melted butter. Let the bread cool in the pans for 10-15 min and then turn out onto a rack to finish cooling.

 

Plaki (Greek fish in a pouch)

February 17, 2020

There used to be a wonderful Greek restaurant in our town that served the most delicious plaki. When they closed we decided to try to develop our own recipe. This is what we came up with, and while it strays from the traditional recipe a bit, it sure is good! And it’s a great dish for company. Serve with crusty bread to sop up the juice, a green salad, and (of course) white wine.

The amount of vegetables can be varied. You can use less, say 1/2 c per fillet and you will get the flavor, or as we like to do about 1-1/2 c per fillet and you will have your veg dish cooked along with the fish.

You can use any firm, white-fleshed fish, such as cod, haddock, snapper, flounder, etc. Try to get fillets that are about 1 inch thick.

Preheat oven to 400o

Four single serving-size fish fillets, or 2 larger fillets cut in half crosswise
Thinly julienned fennel bulb, onion, and carrot (see note above)
½ c roughly chopped kalamata black olives
Olive oil
1 lemon, cut into 8 thin slices

4 sheets of parchment paper, each large enough to wrap 1 fillet

Mix the julienned vegetable and the olives in a bowl. Use roughly equal amounts of fennel, carrot, and onion—it’s not critical—but we are fennel-lovers and always add extra. Dribble with olive oil, maybe 2 TB, and season with S&P. Mix.

Place 1 fillet on each piece of parchment and season. Mound the veg mixture equally on them. Drizzle with a bit more oil and lay 2 lemon slices atop each. Wrap up the parchment paper and secure with wooden toothpicks. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 25-30 min. Place 1 pouch on each diner’s plate, cut open with scissors, and serve.

Variation: Add ½ c drained, diced tomatoes and/or 2 cloves minced garlic to the veg mixture.

Mexican chicken enchilada casserole

January 7, 2020

Greatly simplified by the use of a jarred enchilada sauce. Homemade tortillas are best, but not necessary.

About 12-6 inch corn tortillas, preferably home made
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Adobo seasoning (preferred) or chili powder
1 small or ½ large green bell pepper
1 medium onion
2 cans red or green enchilada sauce (you may have extra, which can be frozen.)
1 small can chopped jalapeño peppers, or 2 fresh
1-12 oz package shredded Mexican cheese blend

If you have a sous vide gadget, dust the chicken with adobo seasoning or chili powder. Seal in the bag and sous vide at 165o for 90 min. Remove from bag and shred. Set aside.

Lacking a sous vide, poach the chicken in gently simmering salted water for 25 min. Remove to bowl and shred, then dust with adobo or chili. Set aside.

Seed the bell pepper, peel the onion, and dice. If using fresh jalapeños, seed and mince.  Sauté all in a little oil for a few minutes. If using canned jalapeños, add them at the end. Set aside

Pour a little sauce in the bottom of a 12” square casserole. Cover with a single layer of tortillas, cutting to fit as needed. Distribute 1/3 of the chicken, 1/3 of the pepper mixture, ¼ of the cheese, and enough sauce to just cover. Repeat 2 more times. Finish with a layer of tortillas, then sauce, then the remaining cheese. Bake uncovered at the middle level in a 350o oven until bubbling around the edges, about 40 min. Let cool for 10 min before serving.

Hash browns at home

October 8, 2019

A lot of folks, myself included, would think of these as a treat to have when eating breakfast at a diner. But they are so easy to make at home, so why wait? They are a simpler version of the classic Latkes and are a favorite accompaniment to breakfast.

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2 c finely chopped potatoes*
2 TB minced onion (optional)
2 TB bacon fat or vegetable oil (not butter)
3 TB heavy cream (optional)

If using onions, mix with the potatoes. Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet, medium heat. When a speck of potato starts to sizzle, add the potatoes. Use a spatula to shape and press them into a pancake no more than 1/2 inch thick. Let cook, undisturbed, until the bottom is nicely browned, 5-10 minutes. Flip over (easier if you cut the pancake in half first). If using cream, dribble over the potatoes. Continue cooking until the 2nd side is browned. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.

* about the size of a raw navy bean, or a bit smaller

Cream of mushroom soup

January 4, 2019

During my childhood this was a favorite, out of the red and white can. Now I make my own, and it’s much better (as you might imagine). The mushrooms you use will make a difference; if you use only the standard white supermarket ‘shrooms it’ll be tasty, but adding some “wild” ones makes a big difference. I am not suggesting you go out in the woods and start picking, that can be dangerous, but many different varieties are now cultivated and available in markets. Some are available dried, as well, and I particularly recommend dried porcini for their great flavor.

2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1 – 1.5 lb fresh mushrooms
1 medium potato, peeled and roughly chopped
1/3 c chopped onion
1 garlic clove, peeled and halved
A few grinds of black pepper
1/2 stick butter
4 c vegetable stock
1 c heavy cream (preferred) or half’n’half
2 TB dry sherry
Chopped parsley or chives

Cover the dried mushrooms with boiling water and soak for at least 15 min. Trim the remaining mushrooms, washing if needed, and chop coarsely.

Melt the butter in a heavy soup pot and when hot add the fresh mushrooms, potato, onion, pepper, and garlic. Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring. The mushrooms may give off some liquid, that’s OK. Add the dried mushrooms and their soaking liquid and the vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 min. Let cool slightly and then use a blender to puree completely. Return to pot and stir in the cream and sherry. Serve garnished with the parsley or chives.

 

 

Pork and cabbage with Madiera

October 13, 2018

The sweetness and grapey flavor of the wine is a perfect note in this dish. The recipe is quite simple and lets the pork and cabbage flavors come thru. Fresh cabbage makes a big difference. I made it in an InstaPot but surely it can be adapted for other methods.

1 2-3 lb boneless pork shoulder roast
1/2 c diced carrots
1/2 c diced onion
1/2 c Marsala
1 c chicken or beef stock, divided
2 quarts cabbage in 1-2 inch chunks
5-6 boiling potatoes, peeled or not per your preference, cut in half

In the morning, salt and pepper the roast and let sit all day. Put a bit of oil in the insta-pot and heat on the sauté setting. Pat the meat dry and brown on all sides. Add the veg and stir for a few minutes. Turn off the pot and add the wine and half the stock. Cover and cook on the high pressure cooker setting for 1 hour. Let the pressure release naturally for 15 min then release the rest manually. Remove the cover and check the liquid level. If there’s at least an inch, you’re OK. If not, add the remaining 1/2 c stock. Add the cabbage and potatoes and stir in. Pressure cook on high for another 10 min. Turn pot off and let the pressure release naturally for 15 min then release the rest manually. Eat!


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