Not Your Mama’s Spinach

I’m talking to you Popeye!

Unless you’re Italian, than it could be your Mama’s spinach. I mean when your girl’s name is Olive Oyl there’s gotta be some Italian connection there.

I guess she could be Greek, though. Olive Oyl isn’t exclusively Italian.

This Spinaci Saltati recipe comes from The Italian Mama’s Kitchen and is another healthy and simple recipe fit for any beloved sailor that needs to beat up some hooligans.

What you’ll need.

  • 2 1/4 pounds fresh spinach
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3-4 tablespoons of olive oyl
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg
  • Black pepper to taste

The first step is to remove any tough stems from the spinach, unless you went with frozen spinach. No need to do anything but thaw for that.

Popeye recommends that you do use fresh spinach. He understands most people see him eating out of a can, but that’s for emergencies. The best bang for your buck if you want to bang someone up is to cross train with fresh spinach and not roid out with canned spinach.

If you use fresh spinach, fill a large saucepan with water and salt to bring to a boil. Once it’s boiled, you will add the spinach and simmer for 3 minutes. Drain the water once the minutes are up.

Then heat 2 tablespoons of olive oyl in a large skillet over low heat. Add the garlic to the oyl to allow the two sensations to join together.

Next add the spinach and toss the mixture over medium heat until the spinach is nice and warm. This should take about two minutes. Add the dash of nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.

You are almost ready to serve and to do so, remove the garlic, place the spinach on a plate, and then drizzle it with oyl.

The final result is a fresh, healthy side dish for a family meal. The taste of garlic fused with oil and spinach makes this healthy green leaf taste velvety and comforting. The dash of nutmeg gives it a slight edge that Popeye would approve of.

Popeye and Olive Oyl. They do good together.


Chicken added for scale and for extra taste


Tunato, aka Pomodori con Tonno

I should be a movie executive. I  anthropomorphized food long before Seth Rogen’s Sausage Party and Tunato is far more epic sounding than Sharknado. Imagine it folks, a sequel of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, where the murderous tomatoes shred up some tuna with their giant teeth and smother people to death with it by spewing it out of their mouths. To death!!!

My writing is getting rusty. I am aware and I halfheartedly apologize.

Despite my bad writing, like Sharknado, Tunatos from The Italian Mama’s Kitchen should be an entertaining light snack for when you’re too lazy to make a meal of real subsistence.

What you’ll need

  • 4 large or 8 medium or 16 cherry tomatoes
  • 6 ounce can of solid white albacore tuna, drained
  • 1 red onion or 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons of homemade mayo

Your first step will be to prepare the tomatoes. If you opted for large or medium sized tomatoes, slice off the tops, scoop out the insides, and discard the seeds. If you use cherry tomatoes, you could still do this, but I get the sense that stuffing a cherry tomato is a lot of effort with little pay off.

Like practically every relationship I’ve been in.

I recommend just slicing the cherry tomatoes in half if you opt for them.

All the tomatoes will need their tuna and the tuna will be mixed with onion, homemade mayo, and salt and pepper to your liking.

Homemade mayo will be homemade by you and  is simple to make. All you need to do so is listed below.

  • Yolk of 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup of sunflower or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar

You can probably guess that all these items will be combined together to make the mayo and you would be correct. The only major notes I have are to add the egg yolk first, than slowly add the oil and other ingredients while whisking vigourously.

When you’ve whisked to your heart’s content, you may whisk some salt as well. Salt is always to your liking. I personally put as little salt as possible in my food but everyone is different.

As I mentioned before, this mayo mixture will be added to the tuna mixture. When both mixtures combine, you get Captain Planet!


He’s a hero

You don’t really get Captain Planet. I just wanted to post a picture of Don Cheadle as Captain Planet.

What you get instead is tuna stuffing for killer tomatoes. Killer as in tasty to eat.

Fill those tomatoes with the killer tuna and place the tomato tops on top. For cherry tomatoes, skip the filling step and combine everything together.

Not only will these killer tomatoes slay your tastebuds, but they are comfortable for consumption in a chill or relaxed room temperature state.


Not a hero, but a real tomato



Pecorino and Radicchio Toast, Crostini di Pecorino e Radicchio Rosso

I love how specific the Italian translation of this recipe is. Rosso means red in Italian. The ingredients list does not specify that one should buy red radicchio, so thank god I can read Italian right?

I’ve only seen red radicchio actually. A white version does exist, but it is only available in the winter, in Italy.  I doubt you’ll have any issues in purchasing the wrong type.

Anyway, this recipe is from The Italian Mama’s Kitchen and you’ll need the list below to make it.

  • 12 inch long baguette, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
  • 5 ounces of radicchio, finely chopped
  • 3 ounces of grated Pecorino cheese
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Parsley

The first few steps are simple and easy, pre-heat your broiler and stick the baguette in like a distinguished gentleman would. Don’t do it like a teenage boy because boys don’t know what they are doing, grown men don’t either in fact. Men suck. I’m bitter like a radicchio, but it’s true.

Stick the baguette in gently and toast it until the bun is golden brown. This should take about two minutes, which I’m sure you’re thinking is kind of boyish, but we are going to toast the other side as well, so it’s ok.

While all this toasting of the buns is happening, you’re going to mix the radicchio and the Pecorino in a medium bowl. Add pepper to your liking as well.

When the buns are nice and golden, you will spoon this mixture onto the toast and broil for 2-3 minutes. Take them out as soon as they are done. Then drizzle with oil and sprinkle some parsley on top. Your golden baguette buns should now  be ready for consumption.

The end result is interesting. I’m not going to lie, it’s a bitter little toast spread. The radicchio is bitter, the cheese is kind of bitter, I’m bitter, but the olive oil and parsley isn’t. These two items compliment the bitterness and sweeten it up just enough so that’s it’s charming and not a complete buzzkill.

That does remind of myself. I have now found my food alias. I am a radicchio and Pecorino toast. I wish I was as Italian as this dish was though. Oh well.


Bitter Rachel toast! 


Magical Mystery Mushroom Tour

I don’t know if there is any point in mentioning this. I’m sure someone out there, a hater so to speak, will roll their eyes. I know this, because I can be a hater myself. Roll away hater, because I invoke thee honey badger and I don’t care.

How I feel about haters hating.

I love mushrooms guys. I love food. I have so much love for all kinds of food. Mushrooms, jalapeños, prosciutto, goat cheese, gouda, pepperjack, cheese in general, arugula, salami, ham, eggs, chorizo, sausage, garlic, onions, scallions, and much, much more.

I dated a guy who hated mushrooms and when I told him how much I loved them, he said shrooms are only good for tripping.

My response was, “Imagine how much better your trip would be if you actually liked them!”

He didn’t get it, I should have known then it wouldn’t have lasted.

That being said, my next recipe is Pan-Fried Porcini Mushrooms aka Funghi Porcini allo Spiedo o in Padella from The Italian Mama’s Kitchen.

It’s another simple recipe and I can attest that my half Italian mother sautés mushrooms in a similar way. Not that there’s a whole lot to it. Most people sauté mushrooms with oil and garlic. It’s the same with Italians, we just also throw in some parsley. Maybe I’m making myself look like a dumb dumb and everyone does that. All I can say is that I grew up learning a lot about Italian spices, so make fun of me all you want. Only if that’s your true desire though. The key words are true desire, be clear on your manifestations of hate.

The only thing I have to add before we go down our cooking trip, however, is that I was unable to find porcini mushrooms so I substituted with Portobello. Portobello and shiitake mushrooms are my favorite shrooms by the way.

So, what you’ll need are, 4 tablespoons of olive oil, a small handful of Italian parsley, salt, 1 finely chopped medium garlic clove, pepper, and 2 fresh medium-sized porcini mushrooms. If you use Portobello, you might have to double the ingredients. Use your common sense to determine, of course.

The first step is to whisk, in a bowl, 2 tablespoons of oil, the parsley, salt, garlic, and pepper. I recommend using a wide shallow bowl because you will be soaking the mushrooms in this mix.

Once that’s done, remove the stems from your mushrooms and spread your oil mixture on them. The cookbook also mentions that you can reserve the stalks for sauce if you desire.

After that, you are ready to cook your mushrooms in a pan. To do so, place the remaining two tablespoons of oil in your pan, as well as the oil mixture, and sauté under medium heat for about two minutes.

When all is said and done, you will have a delicious side dish of mushrooms that is juicy and flavorful. I recommend pairing it with steak. My mother used to sauté mushrooms whenever my father would grill steaks for the family. It was always my favorite way to eat a steak.

I was unable to do that when I made this, though, and ended up making chicken instead. It was still good, but steak and mushrooms is my first choice.


Don’t trip or do, but here’s the shrooms


I know it looks like slices of egg chunk, but that is chicken.

Crostini con Cavolo Nero e Fagioli Bianchi AKA Black Kale, White Beans, and Toast

This recipe comes from The Italian Mama’s Kitchen and is an appetizer. I don’t know what else to say, except right now I’m having 90s flashbacks because I watched Mortal Kombat on Netflix with some friends recently and this song that is also in Hackers transported me in time and now I can’t get the song out of my head. So as I’m writing this, in my brain my mind is going Beeeeee lalalalala la la, oh weeeee, ohhhhhhhh,ohhhhhhh, beeeee lalalala la la. This song is also known as Halcyon and On and On for those who can’t decipher my lyrical writing.

Now that I’ve released that confession, here’s what you’ll need to make this Italian appetizer. 1/2 cup of dried cannellini, salt, 1 medium tomato, 1 celery stalk, 1 peeled carrrot, 1/2 of an unpeeled medium yellow onion, 6 unpeeled garlic cloves, 1 small bunch (5ish tablespoons) of fresh sage, olive oil, 1 trimmed and washed black kale, a baguette, and black pepper.

Your first step in making this is to soak your beans overnight. I could not find dry cannellini beans, so I skipped this step. What I skipped to, was placing the beans in a pot with cold water and adding the tomato, celery, carrot, onion, three of the cloves of garlic, sage, salt, and a tablespoon of olive oil. For the tomato, by the way, it is recommended to place a cross-wise slit on top. I tried to look up why that is necessary. I know it helps when you want to boil and skin a tomato, but for this recipe, skinning isn’t called for. My best guess is that it prevents the tomato from exploding. I apologize for the lack of credentials.

We are boiling the tomato, as well as the other items. So it’s possible my theory is right. Anyway do that and then let it simmer for 40 minutes. Once that’s done, drain the beans and discard everything else.

The next step is to cook your kale. This recipe calls for black kale. I could not find black kale, but the cookbook claims you can find it at specialty stores. If you don’t feel like searching, just grab purple kale or Italian kale, which is what I did. My grocery store claimed it was Italian anyway. I figured, “Hey this is an Italian recipe, might as well use Italian kale.”

Whatever kale you pick, cover it with water and bring to a boil for about 8 to 10 minutes. Once soft, you will drain and set aside.

As this is happening, the cookbook recommends that you make some garlic toast. To do so, toast your toast and then rub peeled garlic all over it.

Back to the kale now. What you will do with your kale next is cook it in olive oil as well as three peeled garlic cloves. Do this over low heat until the kale has been properly submersed in oil and heat.

Now that your kale is cooked, you can add it to your toast. Before you do so though, sprinkle some olive oil on the toast. Now put that kale on, top it with the beans, and presto! You should have a tasty little appetizer of kale and beans now. Despite my lingo, no magic is actually required. However, if you are magical. Well if you are magical, why bother getting advice on cooking from me? Just Harry Potter it for yourself. Jeez.


I made my toast long, because I was lazy and eating by myself. If you have friends, you should cut and share.

What Was Meant to be Figs, Turned to Melons

I was real lazy with this recipe, but I mean it’s not a difficult recipe. Then again, shouldn’t that make me want to put a little extra effort because of that? Then again, I live in Los Angeles and there’s a reason rich people have what they call chore whores. Stepping outside to go anywhere in Los Angeles requires an effort. I live .9 miles away from my nearest grocery store. Depending on the time of day, that can take me 15 minutes to get to. No joke. Some days I just don’t even want to test it.

So here’s the deal with this recipe that comes from The Italian Mama’s Kitchen, it calls for figs and prosciutto. My Von’s does not sell figs. I could have driven down to a Gelson’s or a Whole Foods where they possible might sell figs, possibly. Side note here, I loathe Whole Foods. Why? It’s a bit the hipster in me but also the fact that it is so expensive and I feel like they are exploiting people who want to eat healthy. Exploitation pisses me off, especially when money is involved.

Gelson’s is also a little pricey, but I’d rather go there than Whole Foods. I decided not to, because it’s on the other side of my neighborhood. I make the trek there often to go to Trader Joe’s which is across the street from the Gelson’s, but even going to Trader Joe’s is a pain. There’s no direct easy route there and depending on the time of day you have to wait until a parking spot is open; which could be worse, but thankfully there’s a parking attendant to monitor all the parking traffic. Once you get through all of that mess, you’ll think you are safe and content, but then you open the door to the store and everyone is running amok and blocking aisles.  I often feel like I’m in some strange obstacle course or somehow got sucked into an intense game of supermarket sweep.

It’s a struggle, it’s a battle, and there can be only one

Anyway, this is a long explanation of why I decided to buy citrus melon instead. To be fair to myself, the recipe said you should try this with citrus melon as well. Also a friend of mine actually found and did a similar recipe for his Superbowl party. So I already knew it was delicious.

Yes it was, is, and will always be delicious. It’s also not hard to do. You cut the melon and wrap prosciutto around it. That’s all ya gotta do. I would have loved to have tried this with figs and maybe someday I will, but for now citrus melon is a top-notch replacement.


Poorly Wrapped Prosciutto on Melon (2015) Von’s, Santoku knife, Melon, Prosciutto (1/4 sliced)

Onions, Phoenix Style

This is a very interesting recipe that came from my Italian Mama cook book, but I sadly was not able to do it correctly. Not for lack of want nor lack of ability, (for once) but for lack of proper materials.

What this recipe is, is onions baked under the ashes or cipolle alla brace for you Italian enthusiasts. I have no fireplace to allow an onion to bake under ashes. I don’t even have a grill. I have a very small balcony where I could place a grill, but I’m poor and cheap and therefore cannot justify buying a grill.

I considered buying some wood or charcoal and lighting it in my oven. I tried to think of ways to make this recipe work the way it was intended. Thankfully I realized that all my ideas of how to do it were dumb, messy, and pointless.

So I made this recipe the best way I could. What did I end up doing? I’m sure you are dying to know. I just baked an onion in my oven. That’s it. Really exciting stuff.

This recipe taught me a really lazy way to cook onions. I mean you don’t even have to peel the onion. You just stick that onion in the oven for 50 minutes. Obviously you’re going to want to peel it after it’s cooked, but even that process is easier. It’s like boiling tomatoes when you want to be able to peel the skin off easier. Same deal with baked onions. When they are already cooked, those first layers peel off easily.

After the peeling process is done, you cut the onion into wedges and drizzle olive oil, salt, and pepper. You can also add some balsamic, which I did choose to do. The end result turned out nicely. The onion tasted almost caramelized, even. I only ate one wedge after it was cooked, just to try it and saved the rest. I ended up using my leftovers for an impromptu chicken fried rice dish of my own creation. That turned out really good by the way, but it’s a secret story that I don’t want to tell.


Onions baked without ashes