Monthly Archives: October 2007

Picadillio Tacos

Its finally cold here in New York and for some reason I now want to eat hot and spicy foods. It doesn’t hurt if they are slow cooked and rich in flavor either.

Finely chop one medium to large sweet white onion. Throw that into a large pot with a few drizzles of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. Sautee the onion on medium. Finely chop one large red pepper and several cloves of garlic. Add both to the pot with the onions and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, till everything is clear and cooked down. Be careful not to burn or brown the veggies. Once the veggies are fully cooked and soft, add in two pounds of ground beef. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, lots of cumin and a bit of cinnamon, cloves and all spice. Stir and break up the meat. Once the meat has totally broken apart, add in one small can of tomato sauce and one medium can of chopped tomatoes. Add in two bay leaves, a dash of sugar and about a half a cup of water and cook on medium till the chili mixture cooks down and turns a much richer deep brown.

Once you have you filling, it is time to make the tacos. With a beef filling I like to fill my tortillas with chopped romaine lettuce, some fresh tomato salsa, avocado, cheddar cheese and some sort of hot sauce. I really like chipotles.

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Mediterranean Crab White Lasagna Redux

Ok so there where some problems with the lasagna. There where too many competing flavors and the crab was too dry. Next time I’d actually mix the crab meat like I would mix up some crab cake balls. Layer that with the noodles, bechemel and cheese and call it a day! Enjoy!

Mediterranean Crab White Lasagna

I have no idea how it happened but I have 3 boxes of lasagna pasta in my kitchen. I guess I just have a tendency to buy ingredients on the fly in the supermarket without checking what I have in stock. I’m an inspired cook, not really a planner. As you have figured out by now, I don’t follow recipes.

Ok so my white lasagna really has a béchamel sauce base. That is the secret. It is subtle and most people don’t notice it. It is truly an amazing and rich addition and ties it all together.

So there are three basic elements to this dish, the pasta, the sauce and then the fillings. The first thing you want to do is make the ricotta and spinach filling. I love fat free organic ricotta. It makes a rich addition but is still healthy. The ricotta I buy comes in 1 pound containers, so you want to take half of it and mix it with an egg, sat and pepper and Italian seasonings. Sometimes I add a sprinkle of nutmeg just to heighten the flavor. Now take a package of chopped frozen spinach. You should defrost it and wring out ALL of the water, first, before adding it to the ricotta mixture. Now you have a great filling that is cheese, flavorful and chocked full of healthy spinach. Next make the other fillings. Today I’m going to use crabmeat, but I’ve also done this with sautéed chicken chunks. Just lightly season the crabmeat with salt and pepper and garlic. Drain a large jar of roasted red peppers and set that aside. For the final filling, sauté a ton of sliced mushrooms in a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and garlic. Now you have 4 amazing fillings.

On to the sauce! In a large pan melt ½ stick of butter. Add some flour and make a rough. Pour in half a quart of milk, little but little, whisking as you go. Now sprinkle in a ton of garlic powder and parsley (fresh or dried). Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper and some Italian seasoning. As that starts to simmer, you want to keep whisking so that no lumps form. Keep cooking it till it turns into a nice thick sauce. Since we are using crab, and I always put a touch of honey cup mustard in my crab cakes, I’m think it would be a nice tangy addition to this sauce. Whisk in one or two tablespoons to taste. At the end, stir in a bit of parmesan cheese and set this aside.

Now we just need to boil the noodles and assemble. Boil up a small box of lasagna noodles. You can figure out how many it will take to fill one layer of your pan. You are going to need between 3 and 4 layers of pasta.

Ok put a tiny bit of sauce all over the bottom of the dish. Lay down your first level of noodles. Always start with the ricotta filling first. Then you can layer on the crab, mushrooms and peppers and finish with more sauce and mozzarella cheese before you put on the next layer of noodles. Keep doing this till you run out of all ingredients except for sauce and mozzarella cheese. On top of the last layer of noodles you should pack on the leftover sauce and mozzarella cheese. Top that with some grated parmesan cheese and sprinkle with herbs. Now put this all in the over, covered with foil, for at least an hour. At the last minute, you want to remove the foil so that the top can brown. Enjoy!

Soy Rice Pudding

I live in NYC and I have had a mouse. I’m insanely clean. Bordering on OCD. So really the mouse just runs around looking for food but it is all in vain. Regardless, I’m on a campaign to eat everything I have in the house to make sure there will never been anything to attract these little suckers. I have a bag of organic brown sticky short grain rice. I was going to use it to experiment with brown risotto, but have yet to.

I took about a cup of the rice and I’m now making soy rice pudding out of it. God, why am I compelled to bake? I guess it is ultimately because I have a huge sweet tooth. So I simmered the rice covered with some water just to get it started. Then I added some milk, sugar and cinnamon. Then I simmered the rice mixture till it got thick and absorbed the milk. At the end I finished it off with a splash of vanilla. Fantastic and impossible to screw up!

Soy Rice Pudding
1 cup brown short grain rice
1/2 cup water
2-3 cups soy milk
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla
pinch of salt

Place the rice and water into a sauce pot and cook on medium heat till the water is boiling. Stir the rice on the heat until the water is absorbed. Add the milk, sugar and cinnamon and keep cooking until the liquid is all absorbed and the pudding is thick. Total cooking time will probably be about 30-45 minutes. Remove the rice from the heat, add the vanilla and salt and stir before serving.

Cookies

Cookies

Yesterday I had to write a venture idea for my Social Entrepreneurship class. Of course I wrote about a bakery. And to cement that, I baked a batch of cookies, cherry chocolate chip. I discovered that if I slightly modified the base for Nestle Toll House Cookies, that it could be made into anything. The key is to use organic butter and a tiny but more salt and baking soda. So I’ve done this with white chocolate and macadamia nuts, or white chocolate and lemon… I think that the sky’s the limit. The cookies where really well received, the professor alone had 5. I love it when people enjoy the things I make.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts

Directions:
PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. 

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Easy and Lower Calorie Chicken Marsala

Normally I take the time to make Chicken Marsala. I slice the chicken breasts thin, dredge them in seasoned flower and pan-fry them to a golden brown. I then remove the chicken from the pan and sauté onions, garlic and mounds of mushrooms. After covering the veggies with chicken broth and some Marsala wine, I ad back in the chicken and cook it all down to a yummy think sauced and moist chicken masterpiece. However today is October 1st and I’m on a diet. That is right, no more high fatty meats, elaborate deserts and limited alcohol. Ugh. In addition school has started up again. So I have countless hours of reading to do. Couple that with 2-hour workouts at the gym and there is just no time. So today I tried a new way of making Chicken Marsala. In a large baking dish I placed chopped onions, garlic and sliced mushrooms. Toss that with salt, pepper and a tiny bit of Italian seasoning. Sprinkle 9 chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Nestle the breasts in the veggie mixture and fill the container up with chicken broth and some Marsala wine. Cover it all with foil, poke some holes for the steam, and throw it in a 350-degree oven. Hopefully it will emerge rich and moist!