recipes at random

Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. Give him ramen noodles, and you don’t have to teach him anything. - Lawrence Downes

Saturday, September 01, 2007



I don't officially have any Latin blood in me, but sometimes, given my love of Mexican food, the Spanish language, and Buenos Aires (where I've never been, sadly), sometimes I wonder. I always have beans, a couple kinds of tortillas, avocados, salsa, cilantro, and shredded mild cheese in the house, and I put them together in various configurations for reliably satisfying meals. It's sort of odd that, until this week, I never thought to try making migas, which brings together eggs, leftover corn tortillas, and other Mexican staples in a homey, completely comforting blend. Here's a recipe for a single serving; multiply as needed, but don't fuss too much about the proportions. This would be great served with a flour tortilla and café con leche (yes, leftover coffee will work for this as well).

1 T vegetable oil
1 corn tortilla, shredded
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup water
1 T salsa of your choice
1/3 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/4 cup shredded cheese (Monterey jack, mozzarella, or Mexican white cheese)
1/2 cup fresh tomato, chopped
2 T cilantro, chopped
1/4 Hass avocado, sliced

While heating the pan, mix water and salsa with the beaten eggs. Sauté onions for a minute or so, then add the tortilla and corn, and toss the mixture around till the tortilla starts to turn brown. Add eggs and keep stirring with the spatula, throwing in the cheese after 30 seconds or so, then add tomato and cilantro, stirring until eggs are the desired doneness. Remove the migas to a plate and top with avocado.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Galette de ratatouille

Oh, I'm so glad I already posted a ratatouille recipe, because this one is really meant for people who already have more than they can eat at one meal and are concerned about getting bored; I'm not sure I'd start from scratch and try to do this all in one day. I'm grateful to Bureka Boy over at Is That My Bureka? for his guidance, his inspiration, and his recipe for galette pastry. From those, I came up with a ratatouille tart, made with the leftovers I'd stashed in the freezer, based on an idea along these lines from Martha Rose Shulman's Provencal Light cookbook. I don't have a tart pan at the moment, but with the easy, freeform galette, that's no problem at all.

3 cups ratatouille
1 cup Gruyere or Comté cheese, grated
1 recipe galette pastry

Prepare the galette dough as directed, splitting it into two portions before freezing for 1 hr. Remove one portion and preheat oven to 400oF. Roll out the pastry as directed, flouring well between two sheets of parchment paper, to about 1/8" thickness. If it starts to disintegrate upon handling, just pop it back in the freezer for a few minutes.

Leaving about 2" of space around the edge of the dough, spoon 1 1/2 cups of ratatouille in the middle. Top with half the grated cheese, and fold the dough up around the filling, pleating it as you go along. You should have 3 to 5 inches of filling showing. It's fine if it's a little messy around the edges. Slide the whole thing, parchment paper and all, onto a baking sheet. Repeat with the second portion of dough. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

Friday, June 22, 2007


Fresh corn fritters

I thought about calling these corn latkes, because that's really what they are (except for the onions, which they don't need anyway). This version is pretty much all corn, with only a couple of eggs and a few tablespoons of flour as binders, and the only seasoning is salt and pepper. (By the way, I forgot to add the tablespoon of melted butter, and they were fine.) Serve with fresh salsa*, sour cream, and sliced avocado. Be careful when frying - the kernels have a tendency to explode.

2 eggs
2 cups corn, scraped from the cob** (you'll need 4-6 cobs)
1/2 tsp salt and freshly ground pepper
5 T all-purpose flour
1 T melted butter
Vegetable oil for frying

In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Gently whisk in the corn, seasoning, and flour. Add the melted butter and stir to combine. In a small heavy pan, heat oil. Drop the batter by spoonfuls into the hot oil, browning lightly on both sides (2-3 minutes per side). Drain on paper towels and serve immediately. Makes approximately 20 small fritters.

* For salsa, I recommend cilantro, a small amount of scallions or white onion, a jalapeno, and Roma tomatoes. Chop ingredients coarsely, throw in the food processor, and pulse a few times.
**Cut off the bottom of each cob so it stands up in a large bowl (to contain all the kernels flying around), and scrape with a paring knife.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Pasta with lemon, olives, and fresh basil

I'm trying to clear out all the wheat, grain, and legume products from my house before Passover, so I figure I'd better prioritize eating the wonderful homemade spinach fettucine I have in the freezer. This sauce seems worthy...

Some hints from the authors of the recipe: "The tiny bit of cream in this recipe contributes to its smooth appealing texture. You can control the tartness by adding as much lemon juice as you like. Sweet basil adds to the authentic Mediterranean flavor. [on the other hand:] Parsley can be substituted for basil; it always pairs well with lemons." (I never heard of Taggiasche olives, but I have a variety of nice olives from the deli across the street.)

You know what else might be good in this? Frozen artichoke hearts.

12 ounces spaghettini, spaghetti, fettuccine, or tagliolini (egg pasta is delicious, too)
4 tablespoons sour cream, creme fraiche, or regular cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Zest of 1 lemon finely grated or cut into small julienne (I only use organic lemons for zesting)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Juice from 2 lemons (adjust according to size)
4 ounces freshly-grated Parmesan Reggiano
1 or 2 garlic cloves finely chopped (depends on the size of the clove)
20 to 25 Taggiasche olives (Kalamata are also fine cut into small slivers)
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces if they are too large
Extra-virgin Olive Oil

Cook the pasta in rapidly boiling salted water until al dente, then drain. Toss with the sour cream, then with salt, pepper and lemon zest. Working quickly, toss with the olive oil, lemon juice, Parmesan Reggiano, garlic and olives. Transfer to a serving dish and scatter with the basil. Add a thin stream of excellent Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Serve at once, with extra lemon and Parmesan for those who desire it. Serve in heated pasta bowls if possible.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Molasses Whole Wheat Quick Bread

Bless Mark Bittman. He solved a riddle of many years for me, and doesn't even know it. You see, I am enamored for more than just nostalgic reasons of B&M Brown Bread, which comes in a can. It's a New England thing; you're supposed to eat it with baked beans. I know, I know, not exactly high cuisine, but it's also really good the next day, sliced - it's actually sort of fun to slice it from the can - and toasted, with butter or cream cheese.

I have looked for a recipe for years that would come close to the B&M stuff. Back in grad school, I found one and tried it, but it was pale (not enough molasses), overly healthy-tasting, and really rather a pain to make, because you had to organize coffee cans in a water bath and tie a cover on them, etc. So when they didn't come out to my liking, I was unwilling to risk that kind of effort a second time.

Anyway, back to Bittman. In today's New York Times, he has a recipe for Quick Whole Wheat Molasses Bread. I have adapted it to my preferences, and I renamed it by shuffling the words around, as you can see. Except for the clabbering of the milk that Bittman does, it's one of the simplest, most non-technical recipes I can imagine, so I'm not entirely sure why there's a video, except that it seems there's now a Bittman video every week. (And that's fine with me, because, well, the guy is kind of growing on me, ever since the life-changing No-Knead Bread.

This quick bread is delicious. It is dead easy to make. And while a lot of people won't be impressed by this, it really comes pretty close to the taste of B&M. (Please, Mark, if you read this, don't be offended till you try it.)

Oil or butter for greasing pan
1 2/3 cups plain yogurt, or 1 1/2 cups milk and 2 tablespoons white vinegar (see Step 2)
2 1/2 cups (about 12 ounces) white whole wheat or regular whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup raisins (optional, but recommended)

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-by-4-inch or 9-by 5-inch loaf pan, preferably nonstick.

2. If using yogurt, ignore this step. Make soured milk: warm milk gently — 1 minute in the microwave is sufficient, just enough to take the chill off — and add vinegar. Set aside.

3. Mix together dry ingredients. Stir molasses into buttermilk, yogurt or soured milk. Stir liquid into dry ingredients (just enough to combine) then pour into loaf pan. Bake until firm and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes before removing from pan.

Yield: 1 loaf. Serve with butter or cream cheese, on its own for breakfast or alongside baked beans for lunch.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


Onion soup gratinée

Finally, a vegetarian French onion soup worthy of the New York Times... (Well, "finally" is probably not fair - this originally appeared in 1974 - but I've been looking for something like this for a long time.) It's probably not quite analogous to the classic bistro dish, either, containing a whole baguette and substituting tomato purée instead of beef stock. The Times' Amanda Hesser says it's really like a savory bread pudding. In any case, how can you argue with onions cooked to sweetness, butter, melted cheese, and french bread?

1 baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices (about 25 to 30)

9 tablespoons butter, softened

9 ounces Emmental cheese, finely grated

8 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced (about 12 cups)

1 tablespoon kosher salt, more to taste

1 cup tomato purée.

1. Toast the baguette slices and let them cool. Spread a generous layer of butter on each slice (you will need about 5 tablespoons), then lay the slices close together on a baking sheet and top with all but 1/2 cup of cheese.

2. In a large saucepan, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the onions, season with salt and sauté, stirring occasionally, until very soft and golden, about 15 minutes.

3. In a 5-quart casserole, arrange a layer of bread slices (about 1/3 of them). Spread 1/3 of the onions on top, followed by 1/3 of the tomato purée. Repeat for two more layers. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. To avoid boiling over, the casserole must not be more than 2/3 full.

4. In a saucepan, bring 1 1/2 quarts water to a boil. Add the salt. Very slowly pour the salted water into the casserole, near the edge, so that the liquid rises just to the top layer of cheese without covering it. (Depending on the size of your casserole, you may need more or less water.)

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the casserole on the stove and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, then transfer to the oven and bake uncovered for 1 hour. The soup is ready when the surface looks like a crusty, golden cake and the inside is unctuous and so well blended that it is impossible to discern either cheese or onion. Each person is served some of the baked crust and some of the inside, which should be thick but not completely without liquid. Serves 6.


Meyer lemon risotto

I love risotto, and even though it takes a lot of stirring and attention, it's fun to make and really not so hard. It's also infinitely adaptable. I haven't tried this recipe (I stole it; are you surprised?), which seems like a particularly West Coast-y version, with the Meyer lemons. I might try it soon, though, because I have a ton of pine nuts left to me by a friend who went abroad for the year. Regarding the lemon zest: try to buy organic lemons, to avoid pesticides in the rind. If you can't find Meyer lemons, I'm sure the regular kind will work fine. Squeeze the juice and freeze it.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
2 cups lightly pearled barley, or Arborio or Carnarolli rice
1 cup good quality dry white wine
6 cups light vegetable stock (or water)
Grated zest of 4 Meyer lemons (more to taste if you like)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup crème fraiche (or sour cream)
3 big handfuls of greens (chard, spinach, arugula, etc.), chopped
Handful of toasted pine nuts, for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, then add the onions, shallots, garlic, and salt and saute, stirring constantly, for about 4 minutes, or until the onion begins to soften.

Add the barley to the pot and stir until coated with a nice sheen, then add the white wine and simmer for 3 or 4 minutes, until the barley has absorbed the liquid a bit. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle, active simmer.

In increments, add about 6 cups of water or stock, 1 cup at a time, letting the barley absorb most of the liquid between additions; this should take around 40 minutes altogether. Stir regularly so the grains on the bottom of the pan don't scorch. You will know when the barley is cooked because it won't offer up much resistance when chewing (it will, however, be chewier than Arborio rice).

When the barley is tender remove the pot from heat. Stir in the lemon zest, Parmesan, and crème fraiche. Taste and adjust - add more salt if needed, more lemon zest. Then stir in the greens. Garnish with toasted pine nuts and a dusting of extra Parmesan before serving.

Easily serves 4 to 6.

Monday, January 29, 2007



This recipe is from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. As long as you keep the ratio of liquid to grains pretty constant, you can mess with the nuts, spices, and fruit, and overall it's not particularly sweet or oily. My last batch had a teaspoon of powdered ginger in addition to the cinnamon, and it was pretty tasty - an excellent topping for vanilla ice cream, by the way. Mark Bittman points out that the longer you cook granola, the browner and crunchier it gets, so keep your preferences in mind while baking.

6 cups flaked or rolled grains
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup raisins (or other dried fruit)
1/2 cup safflower or canola oil
3/4 cup honey, golden syrup, or maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Toss the dry ingredients, but not the dried fruit, together, then add the oil and sweetener and toss again to mix them thoroughly. Spread the mixture on two sheet pans and bake until golden, turning every 10 minutes so that it browns evenly. When done, after about 30 minutes, add the fruit and let cool. As the granola cools, it will lose its stickness and become crunchy. Store in a tightly covered jar.


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