Neither Poverty Nor Riches

Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me.

A Personal Recipe Archive

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Vegetarian Tapas, Part II

Recipe Name: Queso de Cabra

Notes: Another of my favorite tapas recreated as best as I can.

Servings: 4

  • one 4 ounce log of goat cheese
  • one can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano

Heat the olive oil in a medium pan over a medium flame. Add the finely chopped onion and crushed garlic, and saute for a four or five minutes, until the onion is transparent. Add the oregano, and then the tomatoes. Reduce the heat to low, and let it simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or so. Then take the sauce off the heat and pour it into a baking dish. place the goat cheese in the center of the baking dish, so it is surrounded by sauce. The sauce-to-cheese ratio should be such that about half of the cheese is submerged and half is not covered by the sauce. Place the baking dish in the center of the oven and bake at 425 degrees for twenty or twenty-five minutes. The cheese will be melty and maybe slightly brown on top when done. Serve directly in the baking dish. Serve with baguette slices.

Vegetarian Tapas, Part I

Recipe Name: Patatas Bravas

Notes: I must admit that many of my cooking inspirations arise through my cravings for tastes I've discovered in restaurants. This week I was craving tapas, in the style of Boston's Tapeo or Cambridge's Dali. So I whipped up decent approximations of some of my favorite little dishes. The first, patatas bravas, is a pretty common Spanish dish. My sauce is a little more "brava" than average, I think, but the spices, etc. can be adjusted to taste.

Servings: 4

  • 5 or 6 medium sized potatoes of any variety that has gold, waxy skin instead of brown, papery skin
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (more to taste if you like a tangy sauce)
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more to taste if you like a hotter sauce)

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil while you wash the potatoes. Then add the potatoes, whole and unpeeled, to the boiling water. Boil the potatoes for about 10 to 15 minutes, until they are still slightly firm, and then rinse them once in cold water.

While the potatoes are cooling, mix the tomato sauce, mayonnaise, vinegar, paprika, cumin, and cayenne in a small bowl. Take a taste and add more vinegar or cayenne to your taste (I like a lot of both). Voila! This is your sauce.

Cut the cooled potatoes into one inch cubes. I usually try to make my potato bits one inch maximum - I like the smaller pieces better! Heat the oil over a medium flame (or medium heat on an electric stove) in a medium-sized pan, and add the garlic. Then saute the potatoes in the oil until they are golden-brown. In my experience there is a fine line between golden brown and cooked all the way through and dark brown and burnt-tasting, so keep an eye on them while they cook. When they are done cooking, remove them from the oily pan and place them on a papertowel-lined plate for a while to soak some of the oil out of them. You can sprinkle them with salt at this point, if you like.

Another, healthier way to cook the potatoes is to rub them with the olive oil and garlic, and roast them on a jellyroll pan in the oven at 400 or 425 degrees for about 20 minutes.

When you're ready to eat, put the potatoes on a plate and drizzle them with the sauce.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Lazy Girl Panini

Recipe Name: Lazy Girl Panini

Notes: This isn't so much a recipe as a list of ingredients that make for a good sandwich. So, if you're not sure what kind of sandwich you want for dinner, may I suggest a Lazy Girl Panini.

Servings: As many as you want

  • Focaccia bread (I like rosemary herb)
  • Plain Chevre spreadable goat cheese
  • Roma tomato
  • Red Onion
  • Roasted red pepper (the canned kind that comes pre-roasted and diced and herbed)

Directions: Cut a piece of the foccacia bread small enough to fit in your George Foreman Grill. Then cut it open. Spread with chevre, add sliced tomato and onion, and finally red pepper to taste. Grill until you can see lines in the bread. The whole process takes about 5 minutes, which should leave you with enough energy to clean up your dishes, too.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Great Normal Dough

Recipe Name: Great Normal Dough

Notes: This recipe is from my friend Ravi. The honey makes the crust just the tiniest bit sweet.

Servings: 2 pizza crusts

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup warm water (between 95° and 115° F.)
  • 2 T yeast (2 tablespoons, I like my dough a little yeasty. You can use less)
  • 2 T honey
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Directions: Pour warm water into a bowl. The water should be about 85 to 115° F. Test it with your hand. It should feel very warm, but comfortable. Add the honey and salt. Mix until well blended. Add the yeast and mix. Let this mixture sit for about 5 minutes.

Add 1 cup of flour and the olive oil and mix until well blended. Add the rest of the flour (and any other additions) and mix well. The dough should turn into a ball. If the dough does not ball up because it's too dry, add water one tablespoon at a time until it does. If your mixture is more like a batter, add flour one tablespoon at a time. Adding water or flour as needed to get the right consistency will assure you always get a perfect dough. Just remember to do it in small amounts. Once the dough is balled up, place the ball on a floured board and knead for about a minute. This builds the gluten which helps the dough to rise and become fluffy when cooked.

Place the dough in a plastic grocery bag or a covered bowl and store in a warm, dry area to rise. After about 45 minutes the dough should have about doubled in size. Show it who's boss and punch it down. That's right, give it a good smack so it deflates. Let it rise for another hour to an hour and a half. The dough is now ready to be rolled out. You can punch the dough down one more time if you want and wait another hour or two before rolling out. The choice is yours.

Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Grilled Vegetables and Tofu

Recipe Name: Grilled Vegetables and Tofu

Notes: This recipe is modeled loosely on the vegetable kebab at La Med, a restaurant by my house. This doesn't quite do the original justice (especially without the fresh hummus, green salad, fruit and cheese on the side), but it is tasty and satisfies the same cravings on a grad student budget.

Servings: 4 or 5

For the Marinade
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 or 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • black pepper, to taste

The Vegetables, Etc.
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1 summer squash (aka yellow squash), sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1 large Japanese eggplant, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds (I prefer the Eggplant slightly thinner)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 fourteen ounce package of extra-firm tofu

First, prepare the marinade by mixing oil, vinegars, lemon juice, onion, garlic, oregano, and pepper in a large non-metal bowl.

Begin by opening and draining the tofu, and pressing it to expel excess moisture (it will soak up more of the marinade if it is not saturated with water). I place the drained block of tofu on a plate, with another plate on top of it, and put something with a little weight (a bowl of water, for example) on top of that upper plate. I let this compress the tofu while I chop vegetables, and then drain the excess water from the plate, chop the tofu into 1 inch cubes, and place the tofu cubes into the marinade.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil as you are slicing the zucchini and squash, and after they are sliced, blanch them in the boiling water for a minute or so, followed immediately by a cold water bath to cool them off. Drain them, blot them dry, and place them in the marinade.

Remove the stem, core, and seeds of the red bell pepper. Slice the pepper in half, lengthwise. To prepare for grilling you can either roast the pepper in the broiler (which makes it sweet and soft) or blanch it like the zucchini and squash (which makes it firmer and more peppery). Chop the prepared pepper into bite-sized pieces. I put these in the marinade as well, but roasted peppers have enough flavor that you do not need to marinate them if you prefer not to.

Slice the eggplant into thin rounds and place them directly in the marinade.

Finally, slice the handful of cherry tomatoes into halves and add them to the marinade.

Let the vegetables and tofu marinate for 2 hours or so.

When you are ready to cook, begin by starting some rice pilaf. I haven't found a good from-scratch recipe, and I've found that it is quicker, more cost-effective, and equally satisfying to use the Near East original rice pilaf mix.

While the rice is cooking (don't forget to check on it periodically), grill all of the vegetables and tofu. I use a small George Foreman grill, which is quick and easy to clean afterward. Because this sort of indoor grill closes over the grilled food, I like to grill evenly-sized things in a batch - I usually end up grilling all of the tofu at once, and each of the vegetables in a separate batch so that the grilling time and item-thickness is consistent. I usually grill everything for two or three minutes, until dark grill lines appear on the surface.

Toss all of the vegetables and tofu together in a bowl or serving dish, and serve over rice pilaf.

The leftovers for this dish keep and reheat well for several days.

Other things that can be substituted in for any of the vegetables listed are: mushrooms, small sweet onions, or asparagus.

*To roast the pepper, lay the two halves cut-side-down on a broiler pan. I line my pan with tinfoil, because the peppers do not need to drain as they broil, and it saves a lot of cleanup. Broil the pepper until its skin turns uniformely black, but do not allow it to burn. In my broiler this takes about 5 minutes, but time varies a lot for this depending on the broiler. It's best to keep an eye on the pepper until you have your broiler figured out. When the pepper skin is blackened, remove it from the broiler and rinse it in cold water until it is cool enough to handle. Then peel the papery black skin off.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

About This Site

Hello family and friends,

I've started this blog to make it easy to share recipes with one another and to have an archive of frequently used recipes (and infrequent favorites) that is simultaneously available to everyone, no matter how far apart we are. I have been doing a lot of creative cooking and baking lately, and I've also been making a lot of calls and writing emails to seek your recipes and kitchen advice and to share my little culinary triumphs. I decided to start this site so that we can all keep a collective archive of favorites - a bit like a shared recipe box or personalized cookbook.

I will try to post my old favorites and new discoveries about once a week. Any recipes or comments you want to contribute would be fantastic!