Saturday, November 28, 2009

“Rice Stuffing” (Rice and veggies)

While trying to figure out what I could do for Thanksgiving in Argentina, without the use or a turkey or cranberries (they don’t have cranberries here, turkey for the obvious reasons)…I came across a recipe for Quinoa Stuffing.

Although the title seemed like a stretch, it got great reviews and seemed to be something I could adapt with local ingredients. Here’s what I did:

008 007 009

· 2 cups cooked rice

· Drizzle of EVOO

· 1 small zucchini, cut into 1-inch cubes

· 1/2 butternut squash, peeled and diced

· 4 large green onions, chopped

· 1/2 cup dried apricots, diced

· 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, re-hydrated

· 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

· 1 lemon

If needed, cook rice with bay leaves and salt. Remove from heat; remove bay leaves and let cool. 010

Meanwhile, heat 3 tbsp oil in a frying pan. Sauté zucchini and squash — season with salt and pepper — until slightly browned. Combine vegetables and quinoa. Drizzle on remaining 1 tbsp oil. Stir in onions, apricots, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, and mint. Grate in lemon peel and squeeze on lemon juice to taste. Season with salt and pepper.


Comments: I swapped out the dried cranberries for sun dried tomatoes, thinking they’d give a necessary tartness, but the new sundried tomatoes I got were incredibly bright-tasting and sweet, more like fresh tomatoes.

Chopped cashews would be a great addition. The zucchini cooked much faster than the butternut squash—additionally, the squash needed to be cut smaller—no larger than 1/2 inch cubes, and it could be doubled (as could the zucchini). Raisins might be a better addition instead of the tomatoes, and apricots were barely noticeable.

Overall, this is a flexible dish. It’s light and healthy, and easy to play with.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Boy Meets Girl

Boy eats:

Girl eats:

Guess who this belongs to!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Teriyaki Stir Fry

I was looking for a stir-fry sauce, and came across this one. It was great, although even when I scaled it down to two servings and used half, it was too much for my giant plate of veggies, tofu and rice.


2/3 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons white sugar

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 clove garlic, minced


In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, ginger, and garlic.

Comments: As I mentioned, this made too much for the serving, but it was good, and definitely improved my typical stir fry. The recipe originally called for sherry instead of vinegar, but I subbed the vinegar as I had no sherry and topped everything with sriracha. I'd mix sriracha into the sauce next time, before cooking everything, but this was good.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Veggie Tofu Thai Green Curry

I scored some vegetarian Thai curry paste the last time I was in the US, and am finally giving it a go! Here's what I did:

1 container cream (8 oz or so?)
1 1/2 T green Thai curry paste
2 cups vegetables (green beans, tomato, and bell peppers)
1 cup tofu, cubed

I steamed the green beans a bit, and warmed the cream and curry paste. Then I added the veggies and tofu, and simmered for 10 minutes.

Comments: This was an interesting first attempt. I thin next time I'll add onions, garlic, and at least 2T of curry paste. Also, there was too much liquid, so I will probably reduce the cream/milk next time, and switch to either full milk or coconut milk. I don't think the cream was necessary (but there's only one way to find out!) I'd also like to add some aji picante or cayenne, as it needed a lot of sriracha to up the spice, and that took away from the curry flavors.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Nirvana tags and a Polenta Revelation

Orangette talked about a list of CILTE (Crap I Like To Eat) a while back, and I thought it was a cute idea--compile a list of stuff that makes you happy, to make on those days when you're feeling totally unmotivated to eat.

Then, I was eating black beans with tomato sauce and polenta today, sighing blissfully to myself as I shook on more Cholula, and thinking...bliss...nirvana...

I have these moments from time to time, and they never stay with me. At least not with homemade cooking. And thus was born the nirvana tag, to mark these moments in the indelible memory of the internet!

So, back to dinner...I am certain I could eat black beans and tomato sauce over some kind of carb every night and never get tired of it--especially when a bit of cheese and hot sauce is mixed into the game.

However, polenta was never my favorite. I liked it enough prepared in restaurants, but at home? Pain in the ass! All the stirring, stress over clumping, waiting...wondering is it done yet? Stirring some more...

And then I accidently bought instant polenta...something I'd normally shy away from, because it just a shortcut? Microwave popcorn? Packaged mac and cheese? These things never seem to work out for the best. But, lo and behold, it did!

A couple minutes of stirring, and my polenta was thick and rich. I took it off the heat a couple minutes later, and came back in five minutes to find a solid block of polenta! I've never had the patience to see this happen with the traditional stuff! I'm so hooked...and so looking forward to my polenta and tomato sauce--with black beans, and a bit of cheese--for dinner tomorrow!

And maybe tomorrow I'll savor it long enough to snap some photos...

Old Fashioned Pesto with Walnuts

I've been craving pesto, but stumped by my lack of food processor-blender gadget. So, yesterday I looked into the traditional mortar and pestle methods...then fashioned a mortar and pestle from the end of a wide-handled fork and ceramic bowl, and went to town. Ghetto? Desperate? Tasty!

Here's how it went down:


  • 2 cups loosely packed basil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted, plus crushed pine nuts for garnish
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese, grated, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt


  1. Combine basil, toasted pine nuts, garlic, and salt in your mort ar.
  2. Grind with pestle in a pounding and/or rotating motion until a paste is formed, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add cheese; grind until combined.
  4. Briskly stir pesto with a wooden spoon while drizzling in the olive oil.
  5. Drizzle pesto with more oil until desired consistency is reached.
  6. Let rest while cooking your pasta.
  7. Stir pesto into drained pasta while still hot.
  8. Garnish with extra cheese and crushed pine nuts.

Comments: So, I'm terrible at following directions, and began grinding the basil with just salt. I believe the garlic and nuts would allow it to break down faster, and give much better results. Also, I used walnuts instead of pinenuts, as I had them on hand. I halved the recipe, because that was how much basil I had, but next time I'd try and do a full batch, this went too quickly!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Black beans and quinoa with tomato sauce

This is based off a Vegan with a Vengeance recipe for bell pepper stuffing. Captious didn’t review it highly as a bellpepper filling, so I gave it my own spin. It turned out delicious!

2 Tbs. olive oil

1 cup finely chopped onion

1 hot pepper, such as jalapeno, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups finely chopped mushrooms (optional)

1 Tbs. chili powder

1 tsp. salt

15 oz. tomato sauce

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup quinoa

2 cups cooked black beans

  • Saute the onions and pepper until soft, then add the garlic and mushrooms and cook until dry.
  • Add the chili powder, salt, tomato sauce, water, and quinoa and and simmer the mixture for 20 minutes.
  • Afterwards, the black beans are added to the mixture.

Comments: I served this over cubed, boiled sweet potatoes with some paneer mixed in. It was fabulous!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


So...I made a bunch of the best pizza dough ever, and then our oven broke. It was sitting in the freezer, when I got the itch to make pita bread. I compared the recipes, and ended up using my pizza dough for the pita!

3 cups plus a scant 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (16 oz./454 grams)
2 teaspoons salt (1/2 oz./13.2 grams)
2 teaspoons instant yeast (6.4 grams)
2 tablespoons olive oil (1 oz./27 grams)
1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature (10.4 oz./295 grams)

1. About 1 1/2 hours before shaping, or for best flavor development, 8 hours to 3 days ahead, mix the dough: In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except for a scant 1/4 cup of the flour. With a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until all the flour is moistened. Knead the dough in the bowl until it comes together.

Sprinkle a little of the reserved flour onto the counter and scrape the dough onto it. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, adding as little of the reserved flour as possible. Use a bench scraper to scrape the dough and gather it together as you knead it. At this point it will be very sticky. Cover it with the inverted bowl and allow it to rest for 5 to 20 minutes. (This rest will make the dough less sticky and easier to work with.)

Knead the dough for another 5 to 10 minutes or until it is soft and smooth and just a little sticky to the touch. Add a little flour or water if necessary. (The dough will weigh about 27.75 oz./793 grams.)

2. Let the dough rise: Using an oiled spatula or dough scraper, scrape the dough into a 2-quart or larger dough-rising container or bowl, lightly greased with cooking spray or oil. Press the dough down and lightly spray or oil the top of it. Cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough overnight (or up to 3 days), checking every hour for the first 4 hours and pressing it down if it starts to rise.

3. Shape the dough: Cut the dough into 8 or 12 pieces. Work with one piece at a time, keeping the rest covered with a damp cloth. On a lightly floured counter, with lightly floured hands, shape each piece into a ball and then flatten it into a disk. Cover the dough with oiled plastic and allow it to rest for 20 minutes at room temperature.

4. Roll each disk into a circle a little under 1/4 inch thick. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes before baking.

5. Bake the pita: Preheat a griddle or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly grease the surface and cook the pitas one at a time. Cook for about 20 seconds, then turn the dough and continue cooking for 1 minute or until big bubbles appear. Turn the dough again and cook until the dough balloons. If the dough begins to brown, lower the heat. The entire cooking process for each pita should be about 3 minutes.

The pita should be completely puffed but not beginning to brown. The dough will not puff well if it is not moist enough. See how the pita puffs, then, if necessary, spray and knead each remaining piece with water until the dough is soft and moist; allow to rest again and reroll as before.* (However, those that do not puff well are still delicious to eat.)

* After my first pita didn’t puff well, and I realized I was too lazy to spritz and reroll and rise each remaining pita, I instead spritzed each rolled-out pita with water two or three minutes before baking it. It worked magically — all of the remaining pitas puffed perfectly. Try this method first if yours don’t puff, if it doesn’t work to you, revert to Beranbaum’s suggestion of kneading the extra moisture in.

Proceed with the remaining dough, baking 3 or 4 pieces at a time if using a stone or baking sheet. using a pancake turner, transfer the pita breads to a clean towel, to stay soft and warm. Allow the oven to reheat for 5 minutes between batches. The pitas can be reheated for about 30 seconds in a hot oven before serving.

Whole wheat variation: For a whole wheat version, use half whole wheat and half white flour. If using regular whole wheat flour, for best results, grind it very fine or process it in a food processor for 5 minutes to break the bran into smaller particles. Finely ground 100% whole wheat flour (atta), available in Middle Eastern food markets, is the finest grind available. Or, for a milder but wheatier flavor and golden color, try 100% white whole wheat flour. You will need to add 1/4 cup more water, for a total of 1 1/2 cups (12.4 oz./354 grams).

Comments: The pita turned out great once it was done. I think next time I'd divide the pizza dough ball in three to make sure the pitas are small enough for my pan. First pita was a little...well, it made great flat bread! Next up, some whole wheat adaptations!


I saw how simple it was to make paneer (thanks Pranav!) and immediately had to give it a go. After consulting several recipes, I ultimately went with this one.

Homemade Paneer (

· 1 liter milk

· 1+ t. lemon juice or vinegar

· A large pot

· A cheese cloth or clean towel or clean tee-shirt

  1. Gently heat the milk just to boiling and turn off the heat. Pour a little lemon juice in it.
Not too much, all you want is for the milk to curdle. Gently mix with a and add more lemon juice (or vinegar) until the milk has split into a transparent liquid and little lumps of soft white matter. That's your cheese.

  1. Take a clean towel and wrap it into a bowl or strainer, put everything in the sink and pour in the split milk.
  1. Let the milk water (whey) drain.
  1. ... then turn it and squeeze the cheese.
  1. Put it in a plate or form. Add a plate and some weight on top and leave in the fridge for a couple hours. Some more water will come out, just discard it.
  1. You can cut it in pieces and pan-fry it for 3-4 minutes in a little oil or ghee for longer preservation or use within a few days.
Comments: This is great and mild as is. I might try adding a bit of lemon juice and salt in the future and using it in place of feta. Or just salt to give it more flavor on its own. I mixed it in a sitr fry with lemon dressing, mustard, and sriracha, and was a happy camper, eating it with my new pita recipe.

Monday, November 9, 2009

More Peanut Sauce--The winner!

Okay, so I gave things another go a few days ago, and found what I was looking for! while the sweet potato recipe is good for veggies, this one holds up to pasta as it's a bit thicker.

2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

2 tablespoons peanut oil

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon honey

2 medium cloves garlic, chopped coarse

1 ½ inch piece ginger , peeled

½ jalapeño chile , halved and seeded

Comments: Perhaps due to its thickness, this utterly failed on my beets and sugar snap peas. I'll have to compare it to the sweet potato recipe to see how it compares with the addition of water, as they're probably quite similar. I subbed vegetable oil for the peanut oil, a mix of vinegars for the rice and sriracha for the jalapeño.

Comments Update: I tried this again with veggies and tofu. Not happening, this is delicious on pasta, but I'm returning to the old recipe for veggies.

Friday, November 6, 2009


I've been craving crepes for days! Finally, I finished off my huge stockpile of veggies and salads, and was able to move on to satisfy my urge. I decided to go with this recipe, as it was easy to divide in half, and very clear cut. However, next time I'd like to try one that uses beer and see if there's a difference in the flavor.

Making Crepes

If you're making enough crepes to serve a lot of people, there are three easy ways to handle it. First, you can stick the crepes on a plate in a barely warm (200°F) oven, where they'll stay warm until you are ready to assemble them. Second, you can serve them as you make them. When serving family on a busy night, it's sometimes okay if people eat them as they are served. Third, it's not a big deal if the crepes cool down a little bit before you eat. If the filling is warm, it makes up for it.

To make about 20-24 crepes, you'll need:

4 eggs
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
2 ¼ milk
¼ cup (½ stick) melted butter or margarine

Sugar, rum, and vanilla for sweet crepes.

It is no problem to make a half-batch or a double-batch.

Making the Crepe Batter

  1. Gather your ingredients.
  2. Break four eggs into a bowl. Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt to eggs and whisk eggs and salt together until the egg looks uniformly yellow.
  3. Measure two cups of flour and add some of the flour to the egg mixture.
  4. Whisk the flour into the eggs. It will be a bit lumpy right now, but that's okay.
  5. Whisk some of the milk into the batter. It will get thinner. Keep adding milk and flour alternately until you've added it all.
  6. Whisk the batter until it is smooth. It shouldn't take more than a minute or two to whisk it smooth, from the time you started to add the flour.
  7. Add the melted butter to the batter, and again whisk it until it's smooth.
  8. Cover the batter.
  9. Put the batter in the refrigerator

At this point, your batter is ready to go, and you can begin making the crepes whenever you are ready. You can the batter a few hours or even a day in advance of when you make the crepes. If you let it sit for a long time, the butter will separate from the rest of the batter, but you just need to whisk it for ten seconds or so, and it will be ready to use. I've kept my batter for several days, and it has been fine. After a couple of days, the batter gets a bit darker in color, but the crepes still taste fine.

If I'm making the batter right before I make the crepes, I refrigerate the batter while I prepare the filling.

Cooking the Crepes

1. Select a non-stick skillet (8 inches is ideal).

2. Preheat your pan on medium heat. Use about one-fourth of a cup of batter for an 8 inch pan.

3. Pour the batter into the pan.

4. As you pour the batter, twirl the pan around.

5. As you twirl the pan, the batter coats it and makes the crepe. If you put in too little batter to begin with, pour in some extra batter to fill in the gaps.

6. As the crepe cooks, it changes in appearance. The batter starts out looking moister and hasn't set. Once it has set, it’s still a bit moist. You can usually see a lace pattern developing on the underside of the crepe.

7. When the crepe has set you can see the spatula through the crepe. The crepe will also usually slide around when it is ready. (It make stick a bit a the edges though.)

8. Slip the spatula under the crepe. Sometimes you need to poke it a bit. If it helps to pick up the edge of the crepe with your fingers, do it.

9. Flip the crepe over. Look at that nice lace pattern on the crepes. If you're skillful, you can flip the crepe with a quick action of the wrist and no spatula.

10. After the second side has cooked for maybe twenty seconds, slip it out of the pan onto a plate for serving, or into a baking dish that you can put into a warmed (200°F) oven.

Comments: These turned out great! Well, the recipe was easy enough. I didn't get much crepe, I think I used too much unseasoned spinach and too little cheese, so it mostly tasted like spinach, until I went for the dessert crepes. Dulce de leche was purchased for the occassion, and yum! Mine weren't too circular, as my pan was pretty big, and I didn't want to attempt giant crepes, but otherwise they were fabulous and easy.

Beets and Sugar Snap Peas with Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette

I was thinking a lemony dressing would make for a nice beet and pea salad, however I came across a peanut dressing yesterday that I couldn't pass up--what isn't better with peanut? Apparently, sugar snap peas and beets!

Luckily, I used just a bit, and was able to save the remaining veggies and peanut sauce separately. I don't think the sauce was flawed, just the combination was...ugh.

So, today, I went back to the original lemony idea, and came up with a winner! It's based off this recipe.

1 small lemon, zested and juiced

1 t Dijon mustard

3 T red wine vinegar

3 T extra-virgin olive oil

1 t honey

salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients well.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Black Bean Hummus

I had black beans, and wanted to make a bean spread, so this seemed like the perfect answer. Except I didn't have tahini or a food processor, and wasn't about to wait to buy the food processor. Tahini was already priced out of my league in local stores.

And one reviewer spoke of a great substitution of sesame oil. Well...sesame seeds are right, although the flavors don't seem that similar. But hummus usually has oil, and this one didn't, so maybe...


1 clove garlic

2 cups cooked black beans

2 T lemon juice

1T toasted sesame seed oil

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


Mince garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Add black beans, 2 tablespoons reserved liquid, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, oil, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper; process until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Add additional seasoning and liquid to taste.

Disaster! The cumin and chili did not go with the sesame seed oil at all! I'm not sure this recipe would be tasty anyway (although the reviews certainly seem to point to it)...but I was only able to dilute my mess over rice (it was quite ugly, hand-mashed)...and feel like I was not being wasteful and getting some solid protein. Ugh...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Braised Red Cabbage

Red cabbage is great for healthy variety, and plentiful here in Argentina. I'm just trying to find the recipe that compliments it best. I tried one a while ago that wasn't worth repeating, so this time around I went with a craigslist suggestion, similar to others I researched:

1 large red cabbage
1 apple
1/2 c. red wine
1/2 c. red wine vinegar
2-3 cloves garlic

Slice/shred thinly (like coleslaw) the cabbage. Saute in a large non reactive pot til transparent a finely chopped large onion in some oil you prefer. Pile cabbage on top, add salt/pepper, a grated apple, 1/2 cup red wine and 1/2 cup red wine vinegar, 2 or 3 cloves of garlic skewered on a tooth pick (retrieve when done and throw away) and simmer for 1-2 hours. You can make this way before and reheat, in fact it is better reheated. (This is how Grandma made it; it's not really a recipe, she glugged in the wine and wine vinegar, but a half cup each was probably average and everything else is accurate; you have to taste for salt and pepper as usual).

Comments: Another, not worth repeating. I'll look for feedback, as it was similar to so many others, but just overpoweringly acidic. And with no other noteable features. I only cooked it a scant hour, maybe this was the issue? As it's reportedly better the next day, I waited to review it...3 days have now passed, improvement has been noted.