Hannibal Lector’s Favorite Salad

Today we will discuss Classic Pasta at Home’s Fava Bean and Pecorino Salad. A favorite for Dr. Lector, he pairs it with his favorite Chianti and liverwurst that he gets at some special butcher shop. I can’t remember which one….I think it’s called Buffalo Bill’s Exotic Meats or something.

9608155_orig

Dr. Lector and his Chianti

Unfortunately, I ran into Dr. Lector while shopping for fava beans. His love of fava beans has no bounds. He bought them all up at the grocery store and was unwilling to share any with me. He said something about having a special dinner party and that he would invite me, but he had already “outdone” himself as it was. I don’t know what that meant, but Dr. Lector has always been a little off.

So I had to substitute with lima beans. Thankfully no other substitutes were needed.

What you’ll need:

  • 4 lbs of fava beans
  • 2 1/2 – 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of minced green onion, stem included
  • salt and pepper
  • lemon juice to taste
  • 8 – 12 soft lettuce leaves, preferably red. (Dr. Lector prefers the shade of Chianti)
  • 2 oz pecorinio cheese such as Toscanello or Manchego.

The first step in making this salad is to shell the fava or lima beans. To do this, you must either soak overnight or boil them for what seems like an eternity. Don’t be impatient with this step because it can make or break this salad. In other words, you don’t want the beans to be hard.

If you use the boil method, have a bowl of ice water ready. This creates a fast hot to cold effect that will rip off the skin of the bean. Buffalo Bill told me about this wonderful method by the way.

Drain the water once you let it cool down and then mix the beans in a large bowl with the olive oil and the green onions. Once these are mixed, you can add the salt, pepper, and lemon juice to your liking.

We are now ready to add the lettuce. Do so by tearing the lettuce into bite sized pieces and tossing gently along with rest of the salad.

The final step is to garnish with some cheese! My favorite part!

The cookbook recommends using a vegetable peeler and shaving the cheese into paper-thin slices. I grated mine, but I do think the shaved method would produce a greater taste of cheese. Being a cheese lover, I wished I had done this instead.

Can’t live in the past, though, right?

Anyway, you will want to toss the cheese as well. Once you have done so, it will be ready for consumption. Pair it with whatever you wish, unless it’s Hannibal Lector that is. I wouldn’t recommend that.

IMG_2061.JPG

 

Rice and Peas or as Italians say, Risi e Bisi

Risi e Bisi makes me think of AC/DC. I think I’ll add Risi/Bisi to my list of band names that will most likely never come into actual fruition. You kind of need musical ability to be in a band after all. I have some. I played the saxophone in school and all, but my guitar skills are abysmal. I could be a lead singer maybe. That might be my ticket to my band name dream into reality.

I’ll keep this band name dream alive and never do anything to actually reach it so my dreams won’t be crushed brutally like Bernie Sanders. This is the world we live in.

One dream you can reach is this dish, which is from Cecilia Antonini and Little Italy Festival Town Cookbook.

Cecilia is another woman from my town that I have no information on sadly. I did find it interesting that she uses leeks for this recipe. I had assumed leeks were a French thing. I ended up talking to my mother about it and she said, “Oh yeah, Italians like leeks too. It just fell to the wayside as a known Italian ingredient in America.”

Then she went on a rant about Trump and basically how he’s going to make things not so great again. My mother’s father was first generation American and that part of the family  went through a lot of discrimination because they were Italian.

When you grow up hearing about discrimination of your family in the past, it tends to make you sensitive to those who face it in the present.

Sadly, a lot of people forget that most immigrants were scrutinized and hated even if they came from Europe and were white.

I don’t want to get into politics, though. It hardly ever leads to a healthy discussion. Everyone wants their side to be right and the other to be dumb and wrong.

I declare peas for peace, starting now.

What you’ll need

  • 1/2 cup of minced leek or onion
  • 1/4 cup of minced parsley
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • 1 cup of rice
  • 1 qt. boiling water
  • 1 qt. buttered peas, cooked and drained
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

The first step is to prepare your qt of boiling water. Next, saute the leeks or onion. I used a leek. Saute them with the parsley until it is golden brown. Add the rice after that and stir until it also browns, evenly. Now you add the boiling water, one cup at a time. Stir this mixture until the water is absorbed and the rice is at an al dente state.

The final steps are to add the buttered peas along with the salt and pepper. Stir this with the rice and serve with grated cheese and melted butter.

This dish was interesting, but I didn’t like it that much. It wasn’t bad, just so-so. From what I remember of eating it, the leeks and peas were the strongest in taste. I didn’t really put butter on it, which I think might have turned this dish from ok to good.

Despite my blasé feelings, I would like to try this again, because I think it would make an excellent side dish for a fish or chicken dish. I could see it being an interesting base for risotto as well.

Till next time I suppose.

 

Supernova French Salads

The next few recipes from At Home with the French Classics are variations of Endive salads. So I’ve decided to just group them all together, but I will not be preparing them all at once. I’m in no mood for an endive buffet, sorry guys.

Pink Grapefruit and Endive Salad

The first variation listed is an Endive and Pink Grapefruit Salad aka Salade d’Endives et de Pamplemousse Rose.

Pamplemousse is a word I find extremely enjoyable right now. I feel like going around all day saying pamplemousse to people. Maybe in the process I’ll make a French friend. Un ami français, if you will. 

These salads are easy to make by the way. The best part about them is that they can become your own personal art project. I’m a Picasso type artist myself, but basically you arrange endive salads in a circle creating  a flower like effect.

For the grapefruit one, you put chunks of grapefruit in the middle.

IMG_1616.JPG

It’s abstract, deal with it.

I’m clearly an artisanal food genius here folks. This is some pure food Cubism that Picasso would be impressed by.

Enough about me, though, let us move on to the logistics.

What you’ll need for this recipe is 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar, 2 pinches of salt, 2 pinches of pepper, 1/2 cup of light vegetable oil, 3 Belgian endives, and one large pink grapefruit.

The first step in making this salad is to mix the vinaigrette. This consists of the vinegar, salt, pepper, and oil. Add the oil to the mix last to guarantee a balanced mix.

The next step is to peel off the leaves of your endives until you almost get to the core of the vegetable. In other words, you want fairly large leaves to place the grapefruit inside.

Speaking of the grapefruit, this cookbook has useful instructions on how to peel and cut it. That tip is to first cut off the ends and then do the apple trick only with a twist. What I mean by the apple trick is the old fashioned technique of peeling an apple where you take a knife and slowly peel in a diagonal formation. You will do the same with the grapefruit, but add a sawing motion as well. This is important, because grapefruit skin is stockier than apple skin. You’ve got to saw that baby off like Buffalo Bill would.

tumblr_muni7f7xfh1s13iszo1_500

Grapefruit doesn’t require lotion Bill!

I actually don’t know if Buffalo Bill sawed skin off, I shouldn’t make such claims. I just thought it would be funny. Sorry Bill!

Once you have the grapefruit peeled, you cut in half and then section it off based on it’s natural divisions. Meaning, tear apart at the seams already naturally placed by the fruit.

You will now be ready to serve. To do so, reference the picture above, (the grapefruit, not Bill) and then sprinkle it with your vinaigrette. That’s all there is to it.

My cookbook says that somehow these two bitter fruits are able to cancel out their bitterness by hanging out together. Almost like if you multiply two negative numbers, you get a positive.

Despite these mathematics, I still thought it was a little bitter. I’m kind of a bitter person at times, though, so maybe my bitterness cancelled out the mathematical taste rule. I’d consult a mathematician to be sure.

Watercress and Endive Salad

The second Endive salad variation includes watercress. The French call it Salade d’Endives et de Cresson.

The watercress version of this endive salad is best enjoyed in the winter. Not because it warms your heart or anything, but because that’s when most vegetables are in mercury retrograde. Watercress and endives are immune to the toils of mercury.

What you’ll need

  • 3 Belgian Endives, separated into leaves
  • 1 bunch of watercress, stems removed
  • 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 2 pinches of pepper
  • 1/2 cup of light vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard

The process of making this variation is almost the same as the grapefruit. You will prepare the vinaigrette the same way, except for the addition of Dijon.

This time around I used grapeseed oil instead of vegetable. Grapeseed oil is a healthy alternative and it seemed to enhance the taste. If the healthy alternative is good, you might as well use it.

The placement of the salad is also similar to the grapefruit variation. You peel the first few endive leaves to use to create a star shape. In this variation, instead of the watercress being place on top of the leaves, you just place it in the middle with the leaves jetting out.

You can also slice and dice your endive and mix it with the watercress. I did both. Taste wise, I prefer slicing and dicing. It’s easier to eat and you can use the whole endive. Aesthetically, the star method is cute and it is fun. You can’t discredit that.

IMG_1894 (1).JPG

Watercress Star

I liked this variation better than the grapefruit. I thought it was tasty, light, and fresh. I felt like a tall gazelle while eating it. Thankfully I’m not a gazelle, because then I’d probably get eaten by a lion or something.

Endive and Walnut

Our third installment is more of the chopped salad variety and includes walnuts.

It includes the same ingredients as far as the dressing goes, but if you’re feeling extra nutty the cookbook does recommend substituting the vegetable oil with walnut oil. For those of you on a budget, this is a little expensive in comparison to vegetable oil. If you’re going to shell out the cash for it, I recommend finding other recipes that call for it.

What you’ll need

  • 3 Belgian Endives, leaves separated and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 30 walnut halves
  • 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 2 pinches of pepper
  • 1/2 cup of light vegetable oil (optional to substitute two tablespoons of this with walnut oil)

Making this salad is pretty straight forward. There aren’t many steps in making this. You cut the endive, slice the walnuts into halves, add the dressing and then toss all together. Making the dressing consists of the remaining ingredients whisked together.

Extremely simple.

So far, this is my favorite endive salad. It was crisp, light, and crunchy. The cookbook says it’s usually served in winter as a side dish with some hearty meat, but I think it’d be great as a soup/salad combo myself.

I like that this one is chopped too. As pretty as the supernova endive leaves are, they just aren’t as satisfying in terms of texture and taste.

FullSizeRender (3)

Salad d’Endives aux Noix

Endive and Beets

Salade d’Endives et de Betteraves is the beet version and final installment of the Supernova Salads.

This one turned out to be another favorite due to mixing of boiled egg and beets. I can’t think of the proper words to describe the taste and texture of these two. It’s just comforting to me. Like warm butter and jelly on toast.

What you’ll need

  • 6 large beets
  • 3 endives
  • 3 tablespoons of tarragon vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1-2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • 3/4 cup light vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Boiled eggs

The first step is to bake your beets. Do so by pre-heating your oven to 400 and cutting off all stems, roots, and leaves from your beets.

Beets are a little hairy and dirty, so give them a nice scrubby bath before you continue to the next step which is to wrap them in aluminum foil. Place these wrapped beets in a pan and bake for  about 45 minutes.

You’ll know the 45 minutes were efficient if you can stick a knife and easily pierce the center of the beet.

Allow the beets to cool into a couple of beatniks, peel the skin and then dice then up.

You will then toss them in a dressing with ingredients provided above.

To make that dressing, first mix the vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper together. Then add the two remaining oils and you’re done!

As I said mix this dressing with the beets and then arrange those beets in the center of your serving plate.

The next step is to place the endive leaves so that they surround the beet mound, similar to recipes above.

The final step is my favorite, which is dicing a boiled egg and sprinkling on top.

You now have an artistic and tasty flower salad to eat!

4QAoirzPSvC5vKJ8tQc7rwv28UsyLeTGyllBreUas7Rw

Sicilian Orange Salad

My next recipe from Sicilian Cookery is a refreshing orange salad that is simple and so easy to make a child monkey could do it.

All you need is 2 oranges, preferably, 1 blood orange and 1 other type, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

To fancy it up you can also add red onion, garlic, parsley, and olives. I fancied mine up and it was well worth it.

As I said, there’s not much to this recipe. The cookbook doesn’t even give you measurements really. This makes me laugh, because from what I gathered of the stories my mother told me, that’s an extremely Italian thing to do. Eyeballing measurements is their thing.

My Italian great-grandmother taught my Irish-American grandmother how to cook by this eyeball method. My mother and grandmother taught me how to cook some of their recipes in the same manner. I still remember when my mother taught me how to cook something for the first time. It was Tortellini Soup. She took my palm out, poured a bit of garlic powder on it and beamed as she told me about how her grandmother taught her how to cook this soup. Since I was a precocious child, I was like, “Mom! Shouldn’t you being using measuring tools?”

My mother was always amused by me, so she didn’t take offense. She just laughed at me and explained that cooking isn’t always a perfect science and that my great-grandmother’s generation knew that and for them their hands, ladles, and spoons were their measuring cups.

Thankfully I thought that was pretty cool. Still do actually. In fact when I make that soup, my measuring requirements are palm of garlic powder, one soup ladle of white wine, half a cup of  empty chicken broth can of water, the chicken broth, and two bay leafs.

So when you make this salad, you will cut the oranges into cubes, dice the garlic, and slice the onions. You will use one garlic clove by the way. For the onions, just eyeball it into a fairly even ratio with your orange cubes. Add these to olives that are also a fairly even ratio. Sprinkle some olive oil on it, however much seems appropriate to you. Then add a palm’s worth of parsley and pinch of salt and pepper.

Mix all of these ingredients together until everything is properly dressed.

The final result is a refreshing Mediterranean salad. I admittedly thought oranges and olive oil would be disgusting together but there’s something about the oil that calms and compliments the acidity of the orange.

On a side note, olive oil is the most miraculous cooking tool. I swear it’s good on everything and makes every gross vegetable actually appetizing. The only other thing that tops it is cheese.

We are talking about this orange salad today, though. So my final note, is that if you enjoy oranges and olives, this is the refreshing side dish for you. So as an Italian would say, “Just go on and eat it already! Whatta ya waitin for?!”

IMG_1567

Sicilian orange salad

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.

IMG_1510

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

IMG_1511

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

A Pilaf for your Weary Head

Wait, I mean stomach. No, a pillow! GAH! A pilaf for your weary stomach and a pillow for your weary head!

I need both right now.

LA has been mid-west hot the last two days. Meaning it’s been real humid lately and my air conditioning is not quite equipped for that. So I did not sleep well last night and I had to get up early for my temp job which has resulted in my brain being fried to pieces.

Speaking of my new temp job, today I noticed that my official title is, Rachel, Payment Process Manager. When I saw that, I was like, “Ooooooooo, I’m a manager!”

Then the smarter half of my brain was like, “Dude, Rachel, that’s just a fancy term for, you input payment information that a real manager has told you to do, because you are a temp. A data entry temp.”

What a buzz kill smart half of Rachel’s brain is. At the very least I can throw that term around and fool others into thinking it’s impressive. I mean that’s why they invented such titles anyway.

As for the subject at hand. This Quinoa Vegetable Pilaf from Taste of Home Cooking for Two is a true comfort for a fried, tired brain and a hungry stomach. It is a spa for your mind and body in a form of food. I’m too tired to think of a specific spa room comparison though. Is it a red clay ball pit room, a sauna, or a jade room?

Maybe it should just be a pilaf room. That actually sounds kind of nice. I should open a spa with a pilaf room.

What you’ll need for your pilaf room is, 2 tablespoons of finely chopped onion, 2 tablespoons of chopped carrot, 1/2 teaspoon of canola oil, 1/4 cup of jasmine rice, 1/4 cup of quinoa, 1 cup of chicken broth, pepper, and 1/3 cup of chopped fresh broccoli.

The first step is to saute the onion and carrot in a saucepan with the oil, until it is tender. You will then add the rice and quinoa. Mix it well with the onion and carrot and then add the broth and pepper.

Bring this to a boil and then simmer under low heat for 15-20 minutes. I recommend checking how long it takes the rice and quinoa to cook to aid you in your time limit. Either way, you will add your broccoli in the last three minutes of cooking time.

After the broccoli has cooked, remove from heat and let your pilaf cool for five minutes.

The final step is to fluff before you serve.

I’m holding back on some real dirty jokes right now.

I guess now that I have an adult job, I’ll be an adult and tell you that the final result of my pilaf was quite good. It is fluffy and the bit of oil secreted onto the rice and quinoa almost make it taste like fried rice.

I  paired mine with some chicken on the side, but I feel like this would be good with a side of salmon as well. I would be intrigued to make it similar to fried rice by adding peas or shrimp/pork. I feel like it’s a healthier version of fried rice anyway. I’m no nutritionist though, so don’t go blindly believing me on that.

IMG_1329

A serendipitous pilaf

Stuffed Peppers

Hello again. It’s been awhile since my last post. This is because I was on a road trip to San Antonio the past week. I started writing about my big adventure yesterday, but there’s a lot to tell. We already know my editing skills are abysmal and that entry is going to require a bit of time to make comprehensible. Hopefully it will be well worth it though.

Writing about stuffed peppers from Taste of Home Cooking for Two is all I can handle for now.

What you will need for this recipe is 1/4 cup of uncooked millet, 3/4 cup vegetable broth, 2 medium sweet peppers, 1/3 cup of frozen corn, 1/4 cup of finely chopped onion, 3 tablespoons of celery, 2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts, one finely chopped green onion, 1/2 teaspoon of mint flakes, 1 teaspoon of lemon rind, 1/4 teaspoon of oregano, 1 small minced garlic clove, salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

The first step is to cook your millet. I couldn’t find millet, but I had some leftover pearl barley which is similar enough. To cook, you will boil the millet or barley in your broth. Once boiled, reduce the heat and simmer for 30-35 minutes. That’s what the cookbook says anyway. I recommend checking the package of whatever you end up buying, because certain items have different simmering time. However long it takes, once it’s cooked, you will drain and transfer to a bowl for cooling.

While all of that is happening you can prepare the other ingredients as well as the peppers by cutting the tops and removing the seeds. The peppers will be placed in boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Drain them afterwards and rinse in cool water.

Back to the millet, once cooled that is, you will fluff a bit and then add the remaining ingredients. After everything is blended nicely together, you will spoon the mix into your peppers. Drizzle the peppers with olive oil and then bake for 55-60 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

As you can see this isn’t a difficult recipe to make. It’s very simple. The peppers turned out nice and soft, but I wasn’t a big fan of the filling. The walnuts and corn were my favorite part about it. Other than that, though I felt it was pretty bland.

This isn’t something I would make again, unless it was smothered with cheese. Cheese makes everything better.

IMG_1094

Although the pepper is stuffed, it sadly won’t stuff your stomach