Tomato Salad French Style

There’s not a whole lot to this tomato salad from At Home with the French Classics. As I often say, sometimes simplicity is best with cooking so don’t snub your nose at this one.

All you need to make this is juicy plump tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice, and chives.

The first step is to slice your tomatoes. If you are serving more than one person, you’ll want to slice a whole tomato per person.

For the vinaigrette, use equal amounts of lemon juice, olive oil, and herbs. I eye balled mine, but if I had to make a measurement guess, I’d say one tablespoon of lemon juice, oil, and chives should do the trick.

Whisk that mixture up and then drizzle it on your tomatoes and you are good to go!

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Ignore my poor slicing skills, this tomato was on it’s way to not being so fresh so it got a little mushy in the slicing process. It still tasted juicy and scrumptious and that’s what really matters.

What are my other opinions? Well, I’ve drizzled olive oil and basil on my tomatoes before, but I’ve never added lemon juice and chives to the mix.

I think my Italian heritage prefers basil, but the lemon juice is a nice touch and the chives aren’t bad either. It’s just my Italian blood’s preference of basil really.

What I like about the lemon juice add is that it gives the tomatoes a slight citrus taste that balances out the acidity which is odd cause lemons are acidic. I guess it’s like when you multiply two negatives and get a positive number or something.

Side note, that always baffled me as a kid. What kind of mysticism is this that two negatives make a positive? That’s not what we are taught growing up!

Anyway, I recommend you try this out on a hot summer day when you just need a healthy refreshing snack or as a side dish to a light summer meal.

Enjoy!

 

 

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Asian Slaw

This Asian slaw recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks Sandra Lee Semi Homemade Meals aka Cooking for Dummies, aka The Lazy Woman’s Guide to Cooking,  and finally The Single, Busy Person’s Bible of Culinary Arts.

It has served me well.

There’s not much to this particular slaw and Sandra gives you so many shortcuts you’ll feel like you did absolutely nothing.

You’ll feel like a manager who knows the bare minimum of how to do their job and takes the credit of the minions who do.

It’s a great life if you have no pride.

What you’ll need

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 12 ounces three-color coleslaw mix
  • 1 cup canned bean sprouts
  • 1 cup chow mein noodles

Our first step is to mix the vinegar, sesame seeds, canola oil, sesame oil, and sugar together in a round cooking device of your choosing. Just make sure this device can also support that coleslaw mix, because that’s what’s going to go in next.

Go ahead and add the mix in along with the bean sprouts and chow mein noodles. Toss this mixture and then let it chill in your fridge for 15 minutes.

Once those minutes are up, you may garnish with more noodles and/or eat it up!

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Recipe is pretty self explanatory right?

So how is the taste?

It’s quite refreshing and much crunchier than mayo obsessed American coleslaw.

The cabbage is your standard cabbage and the chow mein is what fuels the crunch. My favorite ingredient in this slaw has to be the sesame oil. It gives the slaw a rich amber cream-like taste.

The only negative point I have is that it’s not a dish you want to keep as a leftover. The mein will get soggy and the sesame oil seems to dissipate which makes the slaw taste a bit bland.

It’s not inedible if you end up with leftovers. It’s just one of those cases where you find yourself disappointed because you know the potential of what this could be.

All in all, this is an easy side dish that you can whip up in no time and I recommend you give it a try!

 

Skewed Pork, Thai Style

I’m so happy to announce that I made another Thai dish that turned out well!

Rejoice!

It’s a skewer recipe which is pretty difficult to fail at, but I don’t care. I haven’t had the best luck with this Thai cookbook and I’m taking this win no matter small of a win it is.

As you may have guessed this Skewered Thai Pork recipe comes from The Everything Thai Cookbook. Now, sit back, relax, and let me regale you with how to make this wonderful little pork snack.

What you’ll need

  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • t tablespoon of fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon coconut milk
  • 1 pound of pork, thinly sliced into long strips
  • 20-30 bamboo skewers soaked in water for 1 hour

First step is to get a mixing bowl and pour in the sugar, salt, garlic, fish sauce, and coconut milk. Mix all those guys together and then toss in the pork and mix it until it’s skin is glossy and shiny.

Then cover this mix, stick it in the fridge, and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes. If you are able to be more patient, it’s recommended to pull an overnighter. I do recommend this,  because when it comes to marinating good things truly come to those who wait.

Once your marinating time is over, you can thread that sweet, sweet meat onto your skewers.

The cookbook calls for bamboo skewers and advises that you should soak them in water for at least an hour to avoid a fire hazard. I do not own a grill and was too lazy and cheap to buy bamboo skewers. If this is also your reality, then ignore everything I wrote just now. Especially the part about me being lazy.

Whether you have metal skewers or bamboo, grill those puppies for about 3-5 minutes on each side and you should be good to go.

But Rachel, I don’t own a grill! What do I do?

Listen friends, neither does this girl but the internet is full of solved mysteries. If you don’t have a grill, you can get a similar effect when you set your oven to broil.

It’s that easy folks. The mystery is as complex as when you figured out your uncle wasn’t stealing your nose, but using his own thumb to fool you.

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Good things come to those who marinate let me tell you! I tried several sauces of mine with my skewers and honestly I preferred just eating it plain because the meat was so flavorful.

What is this flavor that is so enjoyable you ask! Well, fish sauce is an aggressive ingredient that is pungent and a little salty, but when you combine coconut with it, it tends to balance those flavors out.

You can’t taste the milkiness of the coconut either, it’s almost like multiplying two negative numbers and getting something positive. Although I personally love the taste of coconut. This is more of a comment on how both have distinctive and powerful tastes and I’m not saying anything negative about either ingredient!

Away with you internet trolls!

Anyway, what you’re left with when these flavors combine is a juicy tender meat that somehow reminded me of honey glazed ham. Why and how, I can’t explain. That just might be an unsolved mystery for the internet.

 

Panelle aka Sicilian Chickpea Biscuits

One might be surprised to find this chickpea recipe from Sicilian Cookery, but if one knew their history one should not be surprised.

Sicily, our favorite Italian island infamous for being the birthplace of the mafia has always been a bit wild. You could say it is Italy’s version of the wild, wild west.

If we scale back to the middle ages, back when Sicily was its own kingdom and ruled by the Normans, you’d find a kingdom “governed with considerable tolerance and flexibility.” (Hearder 66)

This was to accommodate the fact that Sicily was a Mediterranean melting pot. Muslims, Jews, Christians, Arabs, Italians, and Greeks all called Sicily their home.

The Normans handled this by allowing each culture, specifically the religious cultures to govern and judge their own people. For example, the Normans led by Latin law and the Muslims and Jews had their own set of rules.

This country of tolerance, I imagine bled into the culinary arts as well. This high influence of Mediterranean culture would certainly make good use of chickpeas. Why not make little chickpea biscuits then?

See how it all makes sense now? Good, let’s get to cooking then!

What you’ll need

  • 500 g or 3 cups of chickpea flour
  • water
  • salt

This is another simple recipe as you can probably ascertain by the ingredient list. All you need to do is boil salted water in a sauce pan. Once it’s boiling, slowly mix in the flour and churn that mixture with a wooden spoon until it becomes a thick paste.

Once we find the right consistency, pour that mixture onto a pan and then flatten into the thinnest layer you can muster. The cookbook even recommends using a mallet which I say use it if you got it. Anytime you can pound something without causing pain, I say do so. Got to get out aggression when we can folks.

When you have pounded out your nice thin layer, grab a circular device, whether that be a cookie cutter, a circular ravioli cutter (this is what I used) or the rim of a glass and make little round biscuits.

These biscuits will then be thrown into a frying pan of hot oil. Fry them up until they are lightly browned and then enjoy!

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Rachel Speth (b. 1984) One Burned Biscuit Is Diversity, 2019 Oil in pan, on cat plate

I was excited to try this out, being part Sicilian and all. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.

I’d have to consult a nutritionist to fact check this, but I feel like this may be a healthier alternative to biscuits. The frying in oil is problematic and could be the factor that rules this theory out. Either way, there’s a reason I called this Sicilian Biscuits and that’s the best comparison I can give you for this recipe.

Garbanzo flour is a little flaky and is much earthier in taste then regular biscuits. It’s not as airy and fluffy, but the taste is very similar.

I brought this to a 4th of July party and had no leftovers to bring home. Everyone was shocked when I told them how tasty and simple this was to make. These two factors warrant an Italian like aka you should try this.

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The history lesson of Sicily came from the source below

Harry Hearder, Italy. A Short History (1990) Cambridge University Press

Vegetali Arrostiti: Italian for Roasted Vegetables

“This dish is simple, it’s all about using the best ingredients” – Always Be My Maybe

I couldn’t help but think of Always Be My Maybe while cooking this recipe from The Italian Mama’s Kitchen. The quote above is exactly how I would prepare someone for making this dish. I’ve said it many a time, simplicity is best when it comes to cooking and I’m happy that movie supports me in that thought.

What you’ll need

  • Various vegetables cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 4-5 fresh sage leaves
  • 5 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of olive oil

You may be scratching your head at that first ingredient list. This recipe is more a guideline of how to roast your veggies all year round and whatever is seasonal which is why it’s left un-specific.

Thankfully, the cookbook also gave us suggestions and I went with the popular veggie combo. That combo is potato, sweet potato, onion and zucchini. Feel free to use whatever is seasonal, but whatever you choose, make it colorful.

Once you’ve selected your vegetables the next step is to preheat the oven to 375.

While the oven is heating up, go ahead and cut your vegetable and place them in an oven safe pan.

Then cut up the rosemary, sage, and garlic into the tiniest pieces you are able to muster and mix that tiny spice menagerie together. Once mixed, sprinkle it over your vegetables, drizzle with oil, and toss.

Your final step is to bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes. The goal is for the vegetables to be lightly browned like in the photo below.

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As I mentioned earlier, simplicity is the key here and if you follow this rule you will be satisfied.

The potatoes and onion were my favorite bits in this dish. They were lightly browned and softened which made them melt in my mouth.

The sage and rosemary compliment the earthy flavor of the potatoes and the garlic balances out that earthy taste with a little kick. You can’t go wrong with garlic, veggies, and oil.

I enjoyed this recipe immensely and I think one could make some yummy breakfast potatoes if you added some bell peppers into this mix. I can also imagine it going well with other veggies like carrots.

Well, that concludes my take on this Italian suggestion for roasting vegetables. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Ciao!

 

 

Spinach and Ham Quiche

Hello again, dear readers.

Did my absence make your heart grow fonder?

I’m not certain I was missed, but I am certain you’ll enjoy this quiche recipe from Cook This Not That.

What you’ll need

  • 1 frozen pie shell
  • 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1/2 bunch of spinach, washed, dried, and stemmed
  • 2 oz smoked ham, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese, such as Gruyère
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • 1/4 cup of half-and-half
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • pinch of nutmeg

The first step is to pre-heat your oven to 375.

By the way, I opted for making my own pie shell. I googled quiche crust and just went with that. It wasn’t too difficult to make.

The beauty of quiche crusts is that they are supposed to be thin and if you screw up and make it too thin, the egg in the quiche will do some nice chalking for you.

No shame in getting a pie shell from the store though. I’d just check out those package instructions to make sure you bake accurately.

Whichever shell path you take, the goal is to just toast it. In other words, we don’t want it brown just yet. The cookbook said that would be about 8  minutes, but again I’d alter that depending.

While you’re waiting for the magic hour of baking, go ahead and heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Then add the garlic and cook for only 30 seconds. Once that countdown is up, go ahead and add the spinach. Cook this for about five minutes or until the spinach has wilted.

Once the spinach has cooked, remove it from the pan and shake out as much excess water as possible. Then mix it in a bowl along with the ham, cheese, eggs, milk, and half-and-half.

Top this off with salt and the nutmeg once you feel everything is nicely mixed.

Hopefully by now the shell crust has toasted properly. If it is, then add the egg mixture in  and bake for about 12 minutes.

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Pardon my quiche

I’m going to be honest. I’m having writer’s block about how to describe my enjoyment of this recipe.

It’s the same critique my friends. If you’ve been a dedicated reader you already know I love egg dishes. So honestly, it’s almost impossible to disappoint me with quiche. Especially when ham and cheese is involved.

Why is Gruyère so good too? It’s a slightly bitter, cheesy butter when melted. It pairs so well with eggs and ham.

You can’t go wrong folks. You just can’t.

So yeah, that’s all I have to say and that it’s nice to be back. I’ll try to not let so much time pass from now on.

Til next time!

Butternut Agnolotti

Greetings and salutations dear readers.

I have another pasta recipe from Classic Pasta at Home for your hungry eyes. This time it’s agnolotti with butternut squash filling topped with butter and sage.

I had never heard of agnolotti before making this and the best way I can describe it to you is that it is a semi circular version of ravioli. You could also say it’s like an un-folded version of tortellini as well.

What you’ll need

  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • nutmeg
  • 2 1/4 all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 36 large fresh sage leaves

The first step is to bake your squash and to do so, pre-heat the oven to 375. While the oven is heating up, cut the squash in half lengthwise and then remove the filling. Once the seeds have been removed and discarded cut each half into 10-12 chunks. Place these chunks into a baking pan, pour the water in and then cover the pan with aluminum foil. We will then bake the squash until it is tender which will be about 40 minutes or so.

While the squash is baking, go ahead and start making your pasta by placing your flour on a clean work surface and shaping that flour into a mound. Beat three eggs and then create a well in the center of the dough. This well should be deep enough to keep the juices of the egg from seeping through which you may have guessed is where the eggs will be placed. Once those eggs are placed, carefully beat the flour into the egg until the consistency of the egg and flour is even. In other words, when the danger of egg juice spilling everywhere is no longer a threat.

Once everything is nicely mixed, knead the dough until it is no longer sticky and then cut the dough in half.

You are now ready to flatten one half of the dough with a roller. Roll the dough until it’s thin enough to go through a pasta machine roller and then roll that dough through the machine under the setting of 1 about 7-8 times.

Once that cycle is complete you can do the same to your remaining dough half as well.

Hopefully 40 minutes went by while you were making your pasta and you can go back to making the filling by removing the squash from the oven and allowing it to cool. As it cools, go ahead and mix one egg, the breadcrumbs, and 1/3 a cup of Parmesan cheese together. Check back on your squash. If it’s cooled enough, go ahead and scoop out the filling to purée in a food processor. Once it’s smoothly puréed you can add it to the cheese/egg mixture. Top this mixture off with nutmeg and salt to your liking.

Let’s check up on that pasta again. We are now ready to create or agnolotti shape. This is simple enough, just get a round cookie cutter and circle out the dough. Once you’ve got your circles, add 1/2 a teaspoon of filling in each circle and then fold. Seal the edges by rubbing a tiny bit of water. This will help it stick.

Once every agnolotti has been filled and shaped, allow it to sit for about 30 minutes.

During this time, go ahead a prepare your boiling pot by filling it with water and well boiling. As the water boils, get a sauté pan and melt your butter with the olive oil. Once the butter has melted, lower the heat to low and add the sage leaves. Cook until they become crisp, which is about 7-8 minutes. Remove the sage and allow it to drain on some paper towels.

Keep the oil butter in your pan though, we will be mixing that with the pasta later.

Hopefully by now the water is boiling and if so, go ahead and add the pasta in. Be sure to stir it in gently.

This process should take only two minutes and once those two minutes are up, again carefully remove the pasta from the water. The cookbook recommends using a large sieve. I do not have one, so I just very carefully poured the water out into a colander.

Once the water is drained, add your pasta to a large serving bowl and then pour in that butter oil along with some salt and pepper. Coat by gently tossing and then add 1/2 cup of Parmesan and the sage for some more tossing.

You should know have warm buttery pasta to consume like below.

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I was proud of myself with this recipe. As some of you know, I’ve had some mis-haps with making my own pasta, but I believe I’m getting better at.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a lot of work for me, but I have high hopes that I’m getting closer to having this process become smoother and more streamlined.

As far as the taste of this particular pasta, never underestimate the power of sage and butter my friends. It’s quite the dynamic duo. The sage has an intense earthy flavor with a touch of bitterness and the butter just makes the bitterness melt like putty. It’s like cream with a kick.

The butternut squash filling is so good that I ended up eating my leftover filling as a side dish for lunch. It looked like baby food but it tasted like dessert my friends.

Combine these elements together and you get quite the meal. So go ahead and try it out, it will not be one of many regrets in your life. I promise.