My next Posse
Recipe! Haven’t done much food posts lately, but couldn’t resist sharing this one found today on Allrecipes.com
I love watching Hell’s Kitchen and Master Chef. If I catch another cooking show like Lydia’s Kitchen, I’ll watch that, too. I’ve become an ingredient snob. The only olive oil I will use is of the “first cold pressing” and I must see the sediment floating around in the oil. It’s a MUST~! That is where all the flavor is. I love to eat tuna steak, shark steak, and swordfish, you know, that fish meat that makes you feel like you’re eating something.
I love what great ingredients can do to a dish! I’m a true Italian in the cooking arena. Creative cooking is so much a part of me that it makes my whole body sing. “Like Water For Chocolate” is one of my favorite movies. The connection Maria has with the ingredients and the food she makes is phenomenal and inspiring. That’s how I feel when I’m cooking, like my whole self is going into it. I’ve got to chuckle because sometimes my experimentation is not appreciated and sometimes for good reason. DH hates mushrooms. He can’t get out of his mind that they are fungi. My dad’s neighbor in PA is from the old country and knows how to forage for mushrooms. He dries them and gives to my dad, and he in turn gives me some. What a different taste. Another item that once you’ve had the real thing, you can’t go back to canned. Canned mushrooms are so bland and scuzzy I don’t buy them anymore.
Herbs. Fresh all the way. I used to have a pretty nice herb garden up until last year… until my landlord’s son pulled everything out because he wanted to make his girlfriend happy and give her a flower garden. Don’t mind the fact that his father gave me permission years ago to plant there, AND that same December they broke up… but I won’t go there. I got over it and we ironed things out. Still, I miss the rosemary and English and French lavender bushes. I miss my lemon thyme and greek oregano. I miss my basil and spearmint. I managed to fit quite a bit in my little plot of clayish earth. This past year or so, I’ve splurged on saffron and two years ago, whole vanilla beans. Once I started grinding up my own spices, I started blending them for my cooking.
Once you taste fresh nutmeg, mace, allspice, cinnamon, etc., you can’t go back to the pre-ground up kind. Mace. I thank my friend Pauline for turning me onto that one! She gifted me with some fresh whole nutmeg nuts, so I had the luxury of trying out fresh mace, and I will not soon forget that. See that reddish web-like stuff around the pit? Thats mace. Smell that? Ah~! I use nutmeg (sometimes mace) on chicken in the oven. I discovered that when I stopped cooking with salt and needed to find other substitutes. Now, while I do use salt, I use much less than recommended in recipes. Oh, and I love using course sea salt.
I’ve always been one to experiment in the kitchen, and now I’m adding home canning, and pickling into the mix. I have my mind set to try out homemade dairy products like making butter, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, and utilizing whey and whatever else, oh, cream. There are plenty of tutorials on the net with loads of pictures and that’s right up my alley.
Oh. so the reason for this post. This past year, I’ve had to pretty much give up on quality ingredients for my cooking. Or rather, I don’t cook much at all. So what I’d like to do here is tell you how I am getting by on pretty much nothing fresh. I hate it, but I keep telling myself that it’s temporary until things start looking up around here. My pep talk pretty much consists of me telling myself that it could be worse and that others have it much harder than we do. It’s temporary.
My basic goal is to cook everything in one pan. First cook whatever meat, chicken, beef, whatever. Then remove the cooked meat and use those juices as a base for sautéing veggies. I don’t like to cook veggies too long. I prefer my veggies to have bright colors to them. Also, if you recook them another day, they won’t be totally overcooked and mushy. After the veggies are done, I quickly throw the meat back in and whatever extras and serve when everything is hot. You can imagine my glee when I found a recipe online for a one pot pasta dish.
Pasta. Pasta can be healthy and it can be filling. My favorite experiments are with left over veggies and pasta, Pasta Primavera. There is no set-in-stone recipe; but the key, I think, is to have at least one veggie going in there that is not a left over. The cool thing about primavera is that you and use any veggie you want. Another thing that I strive to do as much as I can is “One Pot Meals.” Just found one recipe on Pinterest and it blew my mind to put dry pasta in with all the ingredients into one pot, cover, cook, and VOILA, it’s a meal 20 minutes or so later… and all the water is used, no draining. Pasta, Tomatoes, Veggies Recipe link.
As it stands now, we buy frozen veggies. Not fresh, but much better than canned. In addition to the excessive salt content of can, those veggies are mushy and I hate that. I only tolerate canned corn and peas for their texture. What can I say? We don’t eat as nearly healthy enough as we should. It’s temporary. I throw out nothing. I make use of left overs within the week. Actually, I love repurposing leftovers and creating another different meal from them. Left over broccoli? Broccoli and egg omelet the next morning or for lunch. Stale bread? Don’t throw it out! Make french toast or bread crumbs. Two or three bowls of fragmented veggies hanging out in the fridge? Do I see beans in there? Throw it all together for a primavera dish tonight, or add a bit of tomato sauce and make a nice side dish. Do you have garlic that’s not looking so plump anymore, or onions in the same predicament? Chop up those babies and stick them in a sandwich bag and into the freezer they go. What I like to do with garlic is mix it up with butter in the food processor with some basil, if I have it, and whip up some delicious garlic butter. Add some olive oil and you have a nice spread. Some milk that’s approaching the questionable point? Throw it in a blender with some ice and a packet of hot chocolate mix for a quick summer’s chocolate treat for the kids (or yourself). Add a teaspoon or more of instant coffee and make it a mocha.
Okay, I guess that’s enough to boggle your mind with today. These are just some things I like to do to keep things interesting and useable on a limited budget. Once you try out some ideas, you’d be surprised at how easy it is to just think up something new, delightful and unique to your own refrigerator and cupboards. Next time maybe I’ll talk about how easy it is to make your own pita chips and roti. Oh, and easy slushy-type drinks.
- Hells Kitchen and MasterChef Favorites! (ohhsofattening.com)
- Farmers Market Pasta (fromthebartolinikitchens.com)
- Being flexible with recipes (chillisageandlemon.wordpress.com)
- The Lazy Spinster’s Pesto Pasta with Roasted Vegetables (spinstersunday.wordpress.com)
- Cooking Secrets That Will Turn You Into A Master Chef (easyhomemadechocolate.com)
- Eat Fit Not Fat- Spaghetti Squash Primavera (2fatnerds.com)
- Chesapeake cook aims for veggie TV show (hamptonroads.com)
- Aglio e Olio (missfoodies.wordpress.com)
This just a quickie. Tomorrow will be writing about Little Drake’s (remember him?) birthday; but for right now, I want to share this great little recipe for the most delish homemade pita chips.
Very simple really. You know how sometimes we don’t consume a purchased amount of product, then end up throwing it out… OR feed the birds? Well, we have a bird problem in my neck of the woods, precisely because my neighbor feeds them. Every week my car gets bombed with pigeon doody and it sckseeves me out, totally; and I’m steadfastly refuse to contribute to the problem. Seriously, one time, well, several times there were bread slices on the roof of the garage and whole half loaves of artesian bread sitting in our driveway.
So, last week I had a high volume of breadstuffs left over from a gathering at the house, and one was an almost whole package of pita pockets. Ten big, fresh pockets which proceeded to get hard by the end of the week. I’m an advocate for DIY’ing anything I can and knew that I could do this.
Okay, so before I get into this recipe, please note that there are no exact measurements. Just throw the stuff in, to your taste. If you don’t like garlic, then by all means don’t use it. You can use any herbs you like, as little or as much as you want. Have a problem with salt? You don’t have to use it….
- Preheat your oven to 400 deg., line a shallow cookie pan with aluminum foil.
- Prepare herb oil by heating up 1-2 cups of olive oil, then adding sea salt, garlic-I use Goya Garlic paste in the glass jar, rosemary, oregano. Mix that up real well, then set aside. I had this mixture already in the fridge, so if you are using something you already have, just heat it up a bit in the microwave, just so that all the oil is melted and back into liquid form.
- Cut up your round pita into eight or so triangle pieces. Remember that these will be snackable chips. Arrange these slices all over your lined pan.
- Bush herb oil mixture all over your pita slices.
- Pop into the oven for 7-10 minutes. You must keep checking as these can burn pretty quickly and if I remember correctly, I did not readily smell the pitas toasting. Depending on the brownness, either take them right out, or flip them over to toast the other side…. these will only require a couple of minutes until done.
And that, people, is IT. These are very sturdy chips and will stay strong through the roughest of spinach dips. Want to add a little extra something? Try sprinkling asiago cheese on top before putting into the oven. What I love about this recipe is that anything goes. No exact measurements, all ingredients are added to taste. Don’t like garlic, though it’s good for you, don’t put it into your oil. Want a sweeter taste? I’m sure you can brainstorm and maybe add a little honey into the mix. I’ve never tried that, but I’m thinking it will be some kind of awesome adventure to see how it lends itself to this recipe. I would just experiment on a few pieces as opposed to whole batches for experiments, however.
Well, I’d love to hear about whatever you come up with!