Sunday, February 24, 2008

Mushroom Ragu with Soft Polenta

For the Ragù—
1/4 cup shallots, sliced
1 lb. assorted mushrooms, sliced or quartered (4 cups)
2 t. olive oil

Add; Finish with:
3/4 cup tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup dry sherry or Madeira
2 t. balsamic vinegar
1 t. tomato paste
1 T. chopped fresh parsley
1 t. minced fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

For the Polenta—
Bring to a Boil; Whisk in:
1 1/2 cup skim milk
1 1/2 cup water
1 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
Pinch of white pepper
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
3 T. light cream cheese, cubed (1 1/2 oz.)
3 T. Parmesan cheese, grated

Saute shallots for the ragù in a large saute pan coated with nonstick spray over medium heat until soft. Increase heat to high, add half the mushrooms, and saute until browned; remove from pan. Add olive oil and saute remaining mushrooms. Resist stirring them too much—the longer the contact with the pan, the better the browning.

Add tomatoes, broth, sherry, vinegar, and tomato paste. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Finish with herbs and seasonings.

Bring milk, water, and seasonings to a boil for the polenta in a saucepan. Whisk in cornmeal; reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes, stirring often. Fold in cheeses before serving.

Monday, February 18, 2008

White Beans with Tomato, Basil and Parmesan

1T olive oil
1 tsp. minced garlic
24oz. can white beans, drained
1 cup chopped grape tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh parsely
1 tsp. dried basil
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

In non-stick skillet saute garlic in O.O. on medium heat, 3 minutess. Stir in beans, chopped tomatoes, parsley and basil and cook about 7 minutes or longer. Mix in parmesan just before serving. Add spinach, mushrooms or whatever else seems good at the time.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Lentil Soup

A standard version, simple, and tasty. This is the way to make "that" lentil soup.

1 meaty ham bone or 1 large ham hock (<- yes, ham hock, no soy substitutes)
6 cups water
1 1/2 cups dried lentils
2 cups sliced carrots, about 3 to 4 medium carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf
In a stock pot or large kettle, combine ham bone, water, lentils, carrots, celery, onion, salt, sugar, pepper and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 1 hour, or until lentils are tender.
Take out ham bone or hock and remove meat. Chop meat and return to lentil soup. Remove bay leaf. Lentil soup serves 6.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Tip: Keeping Mashed Potatoes Warm

I love this tip, it allows me to make the mashed potatoes early, and keep them warm, without having keep such close eye so they don't scorch. It also doesn't make an extra dish to wash. You'll need two saucepans, one that will fit inside the other. Then, once you've made the mashers (in the smaller saucepan) to your preferred consistency, simply make an ad-hoc double boiler, by filling the larger saucepan with hot water, placing the smaller into it until the water comes up the sides, and bringing it to a boil, leaving the lid on the smaller pot (it have the lid off in the picture because it looks better, I put it back on later). It works great, keeping the potatoes at a nice temperature, and when you're done, just dump out the water, and put the larger saucepan back! Simple, why did it take so long to learn this one..

Earth and Sea Salad

2 cups dried Arame
1 cup dried Hijiki
1/2 cup julienned Red Pepper
1/2 cup chopped Scallions
1/2 cup julienned Carrots
1/2 cup Cucumbers, peele, seeded and sliced
1/2 pound teriyaki or similar marinated Tofu
1 tbsp Toasted Sesame Seeds
3/4 cup thawed frozen Corn

1/2 cup Soy Sauce
1/2 cup Rice Vinegar
1/2 cup Mirin
1/2 cup Sesame Oil
2 Tbsp. fresh grated Ginger

Soak the arame and hijiki for 30 minutes. Squeeze out water and pick out any foreign matter. Simmer in boiling water for 30 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, mix Dressing and set aside. Thaw corn and chop vegetables. Cut tofu into strips. Cool seaweed and combine with vegetables, sesame seeds, tofu and dressing. Let rest 30 minutes and toss before serving.