Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spaghettini with Greens, Lemon and Olive Oil

6 oz whole wheat spaghettini
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cups chopped greens (I used kale)
3 cloves minced or crushed garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup chopped parsley or 3 tsp. dried herbs (I suggest basil and sage or thyme)
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to directions.  In the meantime heat two tablespoons of olive oil.  Saute the greens for five minutes, then push to the side and add the garlic.  Saute garlic until golden, mix thoroughly with the kale.

Add pasta and remaining ingredients, and toss well.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Gourmet Cowboy Cooking III : Cowboy Mac & Cheese

Mmm, I was saving my favorite camp food for an evening after a nice long hike - this time, ten miles on the Chinle Trail at Zion National Park.  We arrive back to the campground exhausted and starving, but full of memories of amazing views of canyons and rock formations.

Serves 4

1 package of your favorite mac n cheese
1 small can diced tomatoes, drained
1 can tuna, drained
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 10 oz can whole kernel corn, drained
Optional: 3/4 cup shredded cheese

Make the mac n cheese according to the directions.  Mix in all of the remaining ingredients, and 1/2 of the cheese, if using.  Garnish with remaining cheese and serve!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Gourmet Cowboy Cooking II: Pita Pizzas

Easing our way into camping season slowly, we spend the day acquainting ourselves with Zion National Park, checking out the scenic drive and doing the easy 2.9 mile Watchmen Hike, accessible right from the campground. Indeed, the immensity of the natural beauty surrounding us is overwhelming enough, and we seem to need the day to absorb our environment. 

After our day exploring, it's yummy pita pizzas on the menu! On this day two early in March, it was easy to plan for two evenings with food from a cooler. This is definitely a recipe for car camping.

Campfire / Grill option: Below I describe using a propane stove and frying pan. We so frequently are in deserts with fire restrictions that we normally don't plan for campfires. But you could stuff the pitas with the ingredients, wrap in aluminum foil, and heat over a fire or charcoal.

Serves 2 – 4 depending on hunger and whether you intend to follow up with S'mores!

4 whole wheat pitas
1/2 cup red sauce or pesto
Diced green pepper
Veggie "pepperoni"
Optional: 1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
1 cup shredded cheese

Spread one side of pita with sauce or pesto (or inside if using campfire or grill). Divide toppings among the pitas. Heat in frying pan for 5-7 minutes per pita. Cut and serve immediately, popping the next pita in the pan while you enjoy the first.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Gourmet Cowboy Cooking: Rice and Beans

We're off to the canyons of Utah for a much needed vacation!  Our first few days will involve tent camping in Zion National Park where the only amenity is running water (for us a great luxury, as we often are camping in much more primitive spots in national forests, though we rarely do true backcountry camping).  Since we are often camping and hiking in desert areas with fire restrictions, I always plan to I cook with a two burner propane stove, good ole' Coleman.  It turns out there are actually cafes/restaurants/shops nearby, but we've gotten in the habit of bringing everything and enjoying our evenings outdoors.  We continue the tradition!

This recipe is so easy that I find myself with plenty of time to snap photos while the rice is cooking.

serves four

1 cup brown rice or jasmine brown rice
veggie bouillon cube
small onion
Cuban pepper
1 Tbsp canola oil
medium can diced tomatoes - hint, try adobo seasoned fire roasted tomatoes (don't drain)
can black beans , drained
1-2 tsp curry powder
salt and pepper to taste

Optional: 2 cups baby spinach (I always bring along a bag and use it up in the first two days with whatever I cook)
Optional: shredded cheese

Cook rice according to package directions, adding the bouillon cube. Optional step: In the meantime, chop and saute pepper and onion; if you aren't in the mood to saute, just set aside and add them raw - this is cowboy cooking! When rice is almost finished, stir in can tomatoes (don't drain). Cook for last five minutes. Stir in spinach if using. Stir in peppers, onions, beans, curry powder, and salt and pepper to taste.

If your cooler is so equipped and you are a dairy eater, garnish with a tablespoon or two of shredded cheese.

Voila! If you are cooking for two, and car camping where it will be cool at night, park the pan in the car and use the leftovers for a fabulous breakfast burrito filling!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Peruvian Inspired Baked Vegetable "Fries"

This recipe is inspired by our favorite appetizer at a local Latin Restaurant, Aji.  While both ingredients and preparation are quite different than the Peruvian Papas a la Huancaina, it is that dish that prompted me to find a new way to use up some root vegetables in the fridge.  This makes a lovely contribution to a tapas party or a nice centerpiece for an evening meal, perhaps accompanied by a small salad.

For an even faster, vegan alternative, serve with a balsamic vinaigrette or vegan "goddess" dressing.

Serves 4 as appetizer, 2 as entree.

1 large potato
2 medium sweet potatoes
1 zucchini
olive oil spray
salt and pepper
4 Tbsp goat cheese, ricotta, or queso fresco
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (or adjust to taste)
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried basil
handful of crackers
salt and pepper
8 black olives, quartered
2 hard boiled eggs, quartered
1 cup baby spinach, optional

Preheat oven to 400.  Spray baking sheet with olive oil.  Cut the potato and sweet potatoes into wedges about 1/2" thick on the bottom, and arrange on tray.  Spray tops with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake for about 30 minutes.

In the meantime, cut zucchini into similarly sized wedges.  Add to baking sheet, spray with olive oil, and bake everything for another 15 minutes, or until tender.

In the meantime, put all ingredients for sauce except for cracker in a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add crackers one at a time until thickened to desired consistency (should still be liquid).

If desired, spread baby spinach on plate.  Arrange vegetable wedges on plate.  Drizzle sauce over top, and garnish with the black olives and hard boiled eggs.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Coconut Couscous with Greens

A quick and easy Monday night dinner... It seriously took me no more than 15 minutes!

Serves 2 

1 bunch greens (I used collard greens tonight)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp sesame oil
1 cup couscous or couscous/lentil mix (Israeli coucous works especially well; I use a mix that I buy at Trader Joes)
1/4 cup light coconut milk
1 tsp. curry powder
salt to taste

Cook the couscous according to package directions, adding the curry powder after turning off the heat.  Remove the stems from the greens, chop and saute in the oil until wilted. Add couscous and coconut milk to greens and stir.  Add salt to taste.

I served with a veggie burger - but take it easy on the salt in the couscous mixture if you do, as veggie burgers tend to be fairly salt laden. Alternatively, toss in a package of diced seasoned baked tofu to make a one pot meal.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Healthy Baked Penne with Eggplant and Tomato

Wow, a rough week.  Oops, and I forgot about you, poor little eggplant, left lonely from last week.  So I slice and salt while waiting for inspiration... what to make?  You roma tomatoes lying on the counter from Monday's Door to Door Organics delivery look deliciously ripe, and the remaining parsley standing in the glass by the kitchen sink also needs to be eaten.  Ok, how about this.

Serves four.

1 medium eggplant
2 large Roma tomatoes (or 4 small)
olive oil spray
1 1/2 cups milk
6 oz. whole wheat penne
4 T canola oil
3 T flour
dash of nutmeg, or two
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup parmesan
4 T chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 375.  Slice and salt the eggplant, then set aside to allow the bitter juices to soak out of the eggplant.  In the meantime, slice the tomatoes.  Pour the milk and set on the stove to warm.  Begin heating the water for the pasta. Coat a large cookie sheet with olive oil spray. Rinse the eggplant slices, pat dry with a towel, and place on the cookie sheet. Spray the top with olive oil spray, and salt and pepper lightly.  Bake in the oven for about ten minutes, until just beginning to brown.

Cook the pasta according to directions.

Heat the canola oil for a few minutes on medium high.  Add the flour and whisk together.  Allow to brown for a minute, then begin slowly adding the milk, whisking all the while.  When sauce begins to thicken, remove from the burner.  Add nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt and pepper to taste.

Spread 1/2 of the pasta in a baking dish.  Layer eggplant and tomatoes over the top. Sprinkle with 1/2 the parsley.  Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the cheese.  Repeat.  Pour the sauce over everything. Pop in the oven or toaster oven to bake for about 1/2 hour, until lightly browned on top.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Chilean Empanadas - Empanadas de Pino

My partner, J's stories of childhood dishes have become a fun inspiration for many new kitchen experiments.  However, they weren't the beginning of my empanada journey.

My Porteña friend L. had introduced me to empanadas many years ago, when I reaped the benefits of her homesickness by enjoying an amazing (decadently carb heavy) meal of freshly made flaky pastries filled with cheese, followed by the lightest, most delicious, homemade gnocchi I've ever tasted. On a trip to Argentina in 2005 empanadas of the fast food variety, sold by every pizzeria, provided deliciously naughty vegetarian food - but nothing like the homemade delicacies to which I'd first been introduced.  My Puerto Rican friend E., to my delight, also took care to introduce me to vegetarian versions of Puerto Rican empanadillas.

For his birthday, though, J. wanted Chilean empanadas, specifically, empanadas de pino, which use a classic Chilean combination of minced meat, hard-boiled eggs, olives, and raisins.  At the same time, he was quite convinced I couldn't make them, and really didn't want me to try. He had thus set an irresistible challenge! I secretly wished I could have met his mother, with whom I am sure I would have enjoyed many hours of learning in the kitchen, but sadly this was not to be.

So, combing recipes online, I constructed these empanadas, adapted slightly to lower fat and sodium content.  They proved a success - even by J.'s high standards!

Vegetarians: I have made vegetarian versions using a mixture of fresh baby spinach and soy crumbles  - just saute together until greens are wilted, then drain.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp coarse salt
8 Tbs non hydrogenated margarine or butter
2 egg yolks
2 Tbs apple vinegar
9 Tbs cold water

1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp spanish paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne
2 Tbs non-hydrogenated margarine or butter
2 medium onions -- chopped fine
1/2 lb extra lean ground beef
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp coarse salt
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup vegetable bouillon
3 Tbs golden raisins
8 kalamata olives -- chopped
1 hard-boiled egg -- chopped

2 Tbs cold water
3 egg whites

1. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Add the butter, egg yolks, and vinegar and mix quickly and thoroughly with fork. Add 5 tablespoons of the water and continue mixing, adding just enough of the remaining water, a little at a time, to make a firm dough. Refrigerate until ready to use.

2. For the filling, heat the margarine or butter in a saute pan. Saute onion slowly until carmelized, about 10 minutes. Add the beef, oregano, salt, and bay leaf and stock and continue cooking until the stock has almost -- but not quite -- evaporated. Mix in the raisins and olives. Remove from the heat and let cool. Stir in the chopped hard-boiled egg.

3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Divide dough into 8 equal pieces.  Roll each into a circle about 5-inches in diameter. Place a heaping tablespoon of the meat filling about 1/2-inch from the edge of each circle. Brush the border of the circle with juices from the filling or with water. Form a trapezoid by folding the bottom up, then the sides in, then the top down. Prick the top of each empanada once or twice with the tines of the fork. Repeat until all empanadas are assembled.

4. Beat the egg white with the water. Spread parchment paper on a baking sheet. Arrange the empanadas on top and brush with egg white mixture. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden. Serve hot.

Servings: 8