Whether you are a gardener drowning in winter greens or you are the person who dutifully buys kale and swiss chard every week only to throw it out the next week, this recipe is for you. I discovered the torta in Andrew Colman's Flavors of the Riviera. The torta was once made in a region so poor that flour and therefore pasta was a luxury, and with a handful of flour, some cheese, and whatever is growing in your garden, you have a meal.
This tastes like a cross between fresh pasta and spanakopita, and once you've made it, you will see that you can fill this with nearly anything in season as long as it isn't too moist. I made this a second time with sautéed mushrooms (which I then strained), goat cheese, thyme, thin slices of zucchini, and cherry tomatoes. It was sooo good. Be forewarned, however, that the dough is supposed to chill for at least an hour, and while this isn't complicated, it takes a little time to roll out, assemble, and bake.
The directions call for this to be made on a 14" pizza pan, but if you don't have one just do this on a baking sheet and make it a rectangle.
Ingredients for the Dough:
1-1/4 cups flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Ingredients for the Filling:
a bunch of Swiss chard with the stems removed and the leaves finely chopped
1 medium potato, boiled, peeled, and diced
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1-1/4 cups crumbled mild feta
2 eggs, lightly beaten
salt to taste
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1. Mix the salt and flour together with a spoon. Drizzle in the oil, and then add water a little bit at a time, up to a half cup. I did this all in the bowl. Cover it with a damp cloth and refrigerate it for at least an hour.
2. While the dough is chilling, prepare all of the filling ingredients and stir them together- EXCEPT for the olive oil.
3. Preheat the oven to 375.
4. Divide the dough into 2 balls, one comprised of one third of the dough and the other of two thirds of the dough. If that sounds too complicated, just make one a little bigger than the other and you'll be fine. On a lightly floured board, roll the larger ball out into a 15 inch circle. Oil and flour a 14 inch pizza pan, and then lay the dough over it. Spread the filling out over the dough. Roll the second dough ball out to 14 inches and top the filling with it. Wet the edge and then fold the bottom layer over the top dough layer to seal it all. Smoosh it down a little with your fingertips to create some indentations, and then drizzle it with the olive oil. Prick it with a fork in a few places to vent steam when it cooks.
5. Bake it for about 35 minutes.
Long before I ever ate at an Indian restaurant, there was this chicken curry from Charmaine Solomon's The Complete Asian Cookbook. When it cooks, I always think this is what chicken curry should taste like. It's also very simple and adaptable to what you have on hand. It is nothing but dump, stir, dump, stir.
2 pounds of chicken, cut in pieces if it is a whole chicken
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 cup cilantro or mint
1-2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon turmeric
1-1/2 teaspoons garam masala
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon chili (you can double this or leave it out completely)
1/2 cup yogurt
2 tomatoes, chopped OR 2 tablespoons tomato paste in a pinch
Blend the onion, garlic, ginger, and cilantro or mint in a food processor. You can, of course, chop it all up by hand if you choose. Fry it in a pot in a little oil until it has cooked a little. Add in the turmeric, garam masala, salt, and chili. Fry it for a minute, then add the yogurt and tomatoes. When the tomato starts to break down, add in the chicken. Bring it to a boil, then turn it down to simmer and cover it. You will have to check it and give it a stir now and then to make sure it doesn't burn. If it gets too dry before the chicken is done, add a little water. When the chicken is done, turn up the flame to evaporate the extra liquid and thicken the sauce. Serve it with rice and a vegetable or salad.
I said that if all the recipes I tried from Anupy Singla's The Indian Slow Cooker were good I would become a slow cooker devotee. It's official now. Go buy the book and dust off your slow cooker. The Nihari was great, the split peas with spinach were great, the garlic ginger eggplant was fantastic, and I'm trying the carrot halwa tonight. I might be tempted to cook through the book from cover to cover this month, but then all I could post would be adaptations of recipes from Mrs. Singla's cookbook, and while I'm not a copyright expert, I'm pretty sure that would be violating the spirit of the law if not the letter.
Nihari is a meat stew traditionally made in India and Pakistan. I've never made Nihari the traditional way, so I can't compare the two versions, but this was good and so easy I felt guilty serving it. (I've got to work on that!) The list of spices is long, but you don't have to actually do anything with them other than dump them in.
All this contains is the meat, onions, garlic, ginger, and lots and lots of spices. If you're missing one or two of them I would just make this anyway. Also, I prefer not to cook with vegetable oil, so while I guess I could have used olive oil, I used coconut oil. This calls for a really big slow cooker to fit your beef, but if you only have one of the smaller ones you could halve the recipe. This would be great with naan, but I served it with basmati rice. A salad would be good with this too.
(1) 2-3 pound chuck roast or beef brisket
2 onions, chopped
1- 2 inch piece of ginger
10 cloves of garlic
1 generous teaspoon ground ginger
4 cardamom pods
3 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon garam masala
2 tablespoons ground fennel
1/2-1 tablespoon red chili powder (I used 1/2 tablespoon but the original recipe called for 1)
2 pinches ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon white salt
1 teaspoon black salt
1/2 cup oil
1. Blend the ginger and garlic together in a food processor or chop it by hand.
2. Into the slow cooker put the onions, then the beef, and then the ginger and garlic. Layer in the spices and drizzle the oil over the whole thing if the oil you're using is liquid, cover, and cook on low for 9 hours.
3. Stir it up to break apart the meat and remove the bones, bay leaves, and cinnamon stick.
During an introspective moment (with an audio recording of Peter Pan playing in the background) I realized I had more in common with Captain Hook than any of the fun-loving characters found in Neverland. I bark orders, I occasionally resent the light-hearted children around me, and I do my best to run a tight ship.
When my son's history book suggested having a Moorish feast, I instantly recognized a chance to redeem myself. I would be light-hearted and fun, I would not spend hours researching and shopping for authentic paella recipes, and I would not take myself too seriously.
I got a little aggravated during the preparations and didn't come off as cheery as I'd hoped, but the kids had a great time in spite of me. We played flamenco music and ate by candlelight on the floor. It was lovely, and I will do it again.
This activity was suggested in The Story of the World Activity Book Two: The Middle Ages, edited by Susan Wise Bauer. The whole meal cost no more than $15.
Spanish Rice style Rice-a-Roni
one supermarket rotisserie chicken, cut in pieces
1 -14.5 oz. can Italian Style Stewed Tomatoes, strained
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter
Dump it all in a pan, bring it to a boil, cover it, lower the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve it on a plate with the chicken on the rice.
The Moors ate at long, low tables with cushions. We played flamenco and discussed bull fighting and soccer in hopes that our kids would make the connection, but it turns out we shouldn't have bothered. My son thought we were pretending to be in Pompeii.
I never knew Rice-A-Roni could be so good.
"Most disquieting reflection of all, was it not bad form to think about good form?
This is ridiculously simple, cheap, and easy. You can eat it like a soup or serve it over rice.
I found a cookbook devoted to Indian slow cooker recipes and I couldn't be more thrilled. Here's the link on Amazon to Anupy Singla's The Indian Slow Cooker if you feel inspired. I have mixed feelings about slow cookers. Sometimes I think that everything that comes out of them tastes exactly the same, other days I wonder why I don't use it more often. However, Indian cooking already uses one million spices and it's kind of nice to be able to keep the preparation simple. I'm going to try another three recipes from this book and if they taste as good as they look, I'll be a slow cooker devotee forever.
This was supposed to be made with lentils, but I made a mistake and used split peas. I'm not going back. Also, I used half water, half broth to make this, and much to my surprise this tasted very meaty. If you don't have a slow cooker, just do this on the stove and use 14 or 15 cups of water or broth. I tried it to be sure and it was fine.
3 cups dried yellow split peas
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and minced or grated
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons salt
12 cups water or homemade broth
4 cups firmly packed spinach leaves, chopped
Put all the ingredients except for the spinach in the slow cooker and cook on low for four hours, then add the spinach. Turn if off and let it sit for a few minutes to wilt the spinach.
It's a liquor store and an Indian Market. Beer, wine, bar, alcohol, and every spice known to man. It is an odd marriage, and probably strangest for the people who come for their booze and are greeted by chanting, incense, and enormous sacks of onions.
Be that as it may, if you go through a lot of spices or do any Indian cooking, this place will thrill you. I found black salt, rose petals, ayurvedic herbs, fennel powder, bentonite clay, and even supplies to make my own lip gloss that I have always had to order online. There are exotic flavors of ice cream and other syrupy sweets, samosas both fresh and frozen, and fenugreek in every possible form: fresh, the seeds, the dried leaves, powdered. The only thing they do not offer is meat.
It doesn't look like much on the outside, but it's worth a trip. It's in El Sobrante on San Pablo Dam Road. Here is the address on their yelp page.
This is a lesson in chaos. Try to enjoy it. It will be worth it, and even if after all your efforts you are left with nothing but a dusty kitchen, you can still avert tragedy with a box of dried spaghetti.
This is too much fun to exclude your children from, and you will be surprised when the result it not only edible, but wonderful. I did this with my son when he was only two. I put a sheet down on the floor of the family room and let him have at it. Against all odds my son provided us with dinner. I was amazed.
My hope is that some day I will be able to give my children some flour and eggs, walk away, and come back to the miracle of fresh pasta, but I think we're still a few years away from that.
There is a way to do this by hand, but I don't have the right rolling pin or even the space to do it that way, so I use a squeaky pasta machine that is at least forty years old. You can buy a used one on Amazon from $22. I think it's worth it. If you want to try it by hand, pick up a copy of The Classic Italian Cookbook by Marcella Hazan, another worthy investment.
One egg will make enough pasta for 3-4 people, two eggs for 5-6 people. We used about five eggs since we planned on making extra to freeze. It didn't look like much, but it was very filling.
Unfortunately, all this pasta was boiled to a mushy death by a helpful spouse. We ate it anyway and we'll do this again soon. Next time I make this I'll post pictures of the end result.
Growing up, my mom used to make amazing red simmered chicken. Unfortunately, this is not her recipe- but it's pretty close. This is a great one because it's pretty hard to ruin. I have never, until tonight, bothered to measure anything, and it comes out well every time. It gets better every time you reheat it, though the vegetables start to break down and the meat melts off the bones. That isn't necessarily a bad thing. We serve this with rice, and theoretically we also remember to steam some vegetables to serve on the side. The carrots are so sweet and tender that you might want to replace some of the potatoes with extra carrots.
I threw in a half a tomato this time- not what I usually do, but I had a half a tomato I didn't know what to do with...
2 pounds chicken
3 tablespoons oil
1 onion, sliced
4 potatoes, peeled and halved
4 carrots, peeled and halved
4 cloves garlic
2 inches ginger cut into quarter-size coins
red pepper flakes to taste
1/2 cup sake or other wine
1/2 cup soy sauce
a few pieces of star anise or 1/2 teaspoon anise seed
1/2 stick of cinnamon (optional)
1 quart of homemade broth or water
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven. Brown the meat and salt it lightly. Over the top, sprinkle the onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Put the star anise and ginger in a tea ball if you like so you don't have to fish it out later, and then add that and the cinnamon. Pour in the sake and soy sauce, and when that has come to a boil, layer on the potatoes and carrots. Pour in enough broth or water to almost cover the vegetables and bring it to a boil. Turn it down to a simmer and cover it most of the way. Simmer until the vegetables are tender.
This post is about what happened to my chicken, what to do with a whole chicken, and of course a recipe for Chicken Paprikash. After what felt like an eternity of bleeding, hacking, dying, and disemboweling, we were finally ready to cook. I had considered freezing all the meat to give myself a little time to absorb and forget all the slaughter, but how many times in life does a girl like me get to taste fresh chicken? And how many times will I have a Hungarian in my kitchen offering to show me firsthand how to make Chicken Paprikash? I'm guessing only once. Here is a picture of what we were left with.
I know, I know. Me too. Yikes. You can imagine how I felt. But you will notice how red all the meat looks. The breast meat looks like dark meat. Everything had been rubbed down with salt and rinsed multiple times. The stomach had been cleaned out and then kissed (literally) to show that it was perfectly safe now. Into one bowl went the skin, the wing tips, the head, the back, etc, for making a soup. Into another bowl went all the pieces destined for the Chicken Paprikash. I lobbied for the feet to go toward the soup, but was overruled. Apparently feet are incredibly sweet. Same for the comb and the testicles.
There was a comic strip a few years back that shows a hen feeding her sick rooster chicken soup. "It's supposed to be good for you," she tells him. "And don't worry, it's no one we know." It's become something of a family joke, and it was a little difficult to eat someone we knew.
But the flavor was so much better than any chicken I have ever eaten before. It was a little tougher, but I don't think that meat should have the same texture as butter anyway. I must have had three helpings, and I sat there staring at the foot, thinking that if that was the best part, I was really missing out. So if you ever have the opportunity to try fresh meat like this, take it.
1 chicken cut in pieces with most of the skin and fat removed
3 tablespoons of Hungarian paprika
1 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon salt
fresh ground pepper
1/3 cup red wine
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup water
1/2-1 cup sour cream
Soup for the rest of the chicken...
I don't have all the pictures of this one, but I wanted to keep a record of it here anyway. Take all the rest of the chicken bits that seem a little exotic or unusable, like some of the skin, the head, back, etc, and put them in a stock pot. Add one unpeeled onion and fill it with water. Add about a tablespoon of salt, though you will need more later. Bring this to a boil and let it simmer for about an hour. Then add two peeled potatoes, two peeled carrots, a little broccoli, and a parsnip if you have it. When the vegetables are cooked through, remove them. Boil one pound of angel hair pasta, drain it, and toss it with a little of the broth so it doesn't all stick together. Season the broth and serve it with the vegetables and pasta in separate dishes.
I love trying new foods, cooking, and gardening. I hope to share these experiences on this site. Thanks for taking a look!