Posts filed under ‘Food’

Door#2: Fusilli with Tuna and Herbed Bread Crumbs

I slept most of the day away today (woke up at 8:00 a.m. and then went back to sleep until noon), and and the cold and sleet kept me from grocery shopping, so I had to fashion a dinner out of the contents of my fridge and pantry.

What I came up with wasn’t half bad. I did a variation on toasted, herbed bread crumbs that I often use as a topping for cauliflower — a sort of Italianized  (or is that Italicized) version of Chou-Fleur à la Polonaise.

This is one of those dishes that should be tinkered with depending on your likes and dislikes, not to mention what’s sitting on your shelves, so consider this recipe a template.

  • One portion of pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pinch dried chili flakes
  • 1 large garlic clove, pressed (I was out of fresh garlic so I used some Vietnamese pre-fried garlic slices I had in the pantry.)
  • 1 teaspoon – 1 tablespoon capers according to preference, drained
  • 1/4 cup panko or other non-seasoned bread crumbs
  • 3 ounce canned tuna, drained and flaked (I had a can of that Italian chunk light in olive oil. Yum!)
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs (I used some parsley, sage and rosemary — one herb short of a song — I had leftover from thanksgiving.)
  1. While pasta is cooking, heat some olive oil in a medium skillet. Add pinch of dried chili pepper flakes and one pressed garlic clove and sauté until garlic is golden and fragrant.
  2. Add capers and stand back. They usually spatter. Sauté for about 30 seconds — until the sizzling dies down — and then add the bread crumbs. Stir to mix with capers, garlic an pepper flakes. Turn down heat to medium-low and cook crumbs until golden.
  3. When crumbs lightly golden. Add tuna and fresh herbs. Stir to mix. Let cook for about 1 minute then serve over drained pasta.

Serves: 1


2 December 2007 at 11:11 Leave a comment

This May Be the Ultimate Food

What could be better than chocolate or bacon? How about chocolate AND bacon?

Vosges Chocolate has introduced Mo’s Bacon Bar — deep milk chocolate with applewood-smoked bacon and alder-smoked salt. They’d already sold me on the glories of chocolate, salt and smoke with their Barcelona Bar (deep milk chocolate, sea salt, hickory-smoked almonds), so there’s no question that I’ll have to try the new addition to their line.

A local gourmet shop sells Vosges products, so guess where I’m going after work tomorrow.

28 November 2007 at 21:32 1 comment

Kasha with Mushroom Paprikash

I’ve been having a kasha craving for a week or so now. It must be the change of season. Toasty, fluffy buckwheat is one of the best things I know to eat when the weather gets damp and cold.

I resurrected a dish I used to eat all the time when I lived in Washington, DC five years ago. This is the way my cravings work. I get hooked on a particular meal and then cook it until I’m tired of it. After a few years, I can start eating it again.

  • 1 cup stock, broth or water
  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 egg white, whisked until just frothy
  • 1/2 cup kasha
  • 1 10-ounce box of button mushrooms (or a combination of various types of cultivated and wild mushrooms), washed, stemmed and sliced
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (low-fat is fine)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Bring stock and 1 tablespoon of the butter to a boil in a small sauce pan.
  2. While the liquid is heating, stir egg white into dry kasha.
  3. Spread the grain in a medium non-stick skillet over medium high heat.
  4. Add kasha and toast until grains are dry and fragrant. Stir constantly to break up any clumps that form.
  5. Add boiling stock to skillet. Reduce heat to low. Cover and steam until liquid is absorbed and kasha is fluffy — about 7 – 10 minutes.
  6. While kasha steams, heat butter until foamy in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté.
  7. When the mushrooms are almost cooked, stir in paprika and sauté a minute more. Stir in sour cream and reduce heat to low. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. When kasha is steamed fluff with a fork and serve topped with the mushrooms.

Serves: 2 (or 1 with leftovers for the next day)

25 November 2007 at 20:03 Leave a comment

Talking Turkey about Thanksgiving Rituals

On yesterday, Adam Roberts interviewed chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill restaurant in New York City. I appreciated his more laid-back attitude to sustainability, but was a little more skeptical about some of his comments about Thanksgiving and tradition.

Are there any traditional dishes you refuse to cook because they’re beneath your standards?

What’s a traditional one — like jellied beets from a can?

Or marshmallows on sweet potatoes.

Well that’s a ’70s tradition. I don’t consider that part of our heritage.

But a lot of people do it.

A lot of people are misguided. That’s a 1975 sort of invention — or ’65.

It makes me wonder what dishes Barber does consider traditional. Turkey, obviously, since he gives advice on buying heirloom breed turkeys for your Thanksgiving dinner. Pumpkin pie? Green beans? Just how old must a tradition be to be legitimate?

The Thanksgiving holiday as we know it dates from the Civil War era, and it’s likely that the inclusion of turkey in the holiday meal dates from about the same time. Accounts of Puritan feasts describe meals that don’t anything like today’s Thanksgiving dinners: fish, roasted meats, cauliflower, syllabub, sugared almonds and chocolate.

So, go ahead and object to marshmallows on sweet potatoes because you don’t like marshmallows, or because you think they’re full of unhealthy ingredients. The argument that they’re too new an innovation to be legitimately traditional seems specious to me.

22 November 2007 at 21:11 Leave a comment

The End of “Artisanal”?

In the middle of Ugly Betty or Grey’s Anatomy or whatever show I happened to be watching tonight, a Quizno’s commercial came on and described a new product as being made with “artisanal flatbread.”

Once the word artisanal appears in a fast-food commercial I think we can assume that it’s well on its way to meaninglessness.

15 November 2007 at 22:14 1 comment

Black Bean Chili for a Chilly Night

For weeks now (maybe even months), I’ve been swearing that I’ll start cooking big batches of food on the weekends so that I can take my lunch to work instead of buying pizza or a bagel or some other starchy snack. I finally got it together tonight and made an enormous pot of black bean chicken chili.

The recipe started out as Jack Bishop’s “Black Bean Soup with Cumin, Chiles, and Lime” recipe from A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen (a recipe I highly recommend, by the way) but quickly metamorphosed into something more like chili than soup, not to mention something definitely not vegetarian. The seasonings and the lime juice, which, in my opinion, make the dish, are all Bishop’s. The chicken, red bell pepper, tomatoes, tomato paste and Worcestershire are my modifications.

Here’s the recipe. By all means, do try this at home.

  • 3 tablespoons canola, peanut or other neutral tasting cooking oil
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 jalapeño chile, stemmed, seeded and minced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, stemmed seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (I mixed Whole Foods’ house brand with the no-frills brand from the local grocery store)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 12-ounce bottle of beer (Any of the pumpkin brews now in season are delicious in this recipe. Whatever you do, don’t use anything too bitter.)
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with their liquid
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice (~2 limes)
  • 1 dash Worcestershire sauce (optional)
  • Sour cream or plain yogurt to garnish
  1. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add chicken and brown, breaking up any large chunks of meat. With a slotted spoon, remove the browned chicken from the pan to a bowl. Set aside while you sauté the vegetables.
  2. Add onions and sweat them until they’re translucent. Stir in the garlic and peppers and cook until fragrant.
  3. Return the chicken to the pan. Add the chili powder, cumin and salt and stir to blend well with the chicken and vegetables. Cook until the spices are fragrant.
  4. Add the beer and water. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Let simmer until the alcohol burns off, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the beans, tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir to blend with the rest of the ingredients and bring back to a boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
  6. Add the lime juice and optional Worcestershire sauce. Taste and add salt if desired.
  7. Serve garnished with yogurt or sour cream.

Serves: 6

5 November 2007 at 22:58 3 comments

Reason #5834 Why Everything’s Better in Sweden

The Tunbrödsrulle

Until I spent a summer in Sweden I was lukewarm about hot dogs. Then I discovered the tunnbrödsrulle (flatbread roll) and was forced to reconsider all my preconceptions of the most humble of the sausages.

Swedish hot dog stands wrap hot dogs and mashed potatoes in soft flatbread with various garnishes — lettuce, ketchup, mustard, relish*, and the indispensable crispy fried onion bits.

As anyone who’s ever swooned over green bean and onion casserole knows, it’s this last addition that lifts the tunnbrödsrulle out of the realm of the ordinary.

As much as I love the standard tunbrödsrulle, I’ve been tempted to experiment with my own version of this Scandinavian snack. I use lavash bread and a Boca vegetarian smoked sausage as my main ingredients. I have nothing against regular hot dogs, I just happened to have some leftover veggie dogs in my fridge the first time I tried this, and I liked the result so much I haven’t bothered to try an alternative.

Instead of the instant mashed potatoes most Swedish hot dog stands use, I slather my dog with homemade horseradish mashed potatoes. I’ve tried freshly caramelized onions, but I haven’t found anything that beats the ready-made, deep-friend shallots available at Southeast Asian groceries.

* For some reason, pickle relish is called Boston gurkor (Boston cucumbers) in Swedish. Having lived in Boston for five years, I can’t say that I’ve ever noticed that relish was a speciality here. Strangely, relish is not the only place where New England makes a surprise appearance in Swedish cuisine. What we call Thousand Island dressing they call Rhode Island sauce (Rhode Island sås).

4 November 2007 at 23:04 4 comments

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