This breakfast started out as an attempt to lose weight, but if you can forgive that, it tastes good anyway. Now I prefer to think of this as an opportunity to wake up my metabolism when it tanks in the late morning and my nose, hands, and feet all get cold. It's filling and 100% good for you. Why? It has fresh eggs from pastured chickens, curry powder loaded with turmeric (anti-inflammatory and supposedly offers some protection from dementia), onion (anti-inflammatory), tomato (lycopene), and parsley (vitamin C).
1-2 tablespoons butter or bacon fat
1 small onion or shallot, chopped
1 tomato or part of a tomato, chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon parsley or cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
Melt the butter, olive oil, or bacon fat in a skillet. Add the chopped onion or shallot. Cook it until the onion is close to transparent. (If the onion is undercooked this will all taste like eggy salsa.) Add the tomato and curry powder. When the tomatoes are done to your liking, break in the eggs and stir. Add in the parsley or cilantro and season with salt and pepper.
This time of year I always feel like a sore throat is about to come on. I combat this with as much homemade chicken broth as I can stand, and it works wonders. This dinner is perfect because it is warming and balanced. It has just the right proportion of broth, meat, noodles, and vegetables. It was based on an Eating Well recipe from a few years ago.
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 pound ground beef or pork
1 bunch scallions, sliced
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
4 and 3/4 cups of homemade chicken broth, or one quart and 3/4 cup water
3 cups sliced bok choy or broccoli
8 ounces of dried Chinese noodles or 1 pound fresh or 1 pound frozen
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
optional additions: sliced cucumber, cilantro, sriracha, pepper, yuzu ponzu
1. Fry the meat in 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and set it aside.
2. Put the broth, water, vegetables, noodles, soy sauce, vinegar, scallions, ginger, garlic, and remaining 1 tablespoon of sesame oil into a pot and bring it to a boil. Cook it until the noodles are tender. Add the meat back in and garnish with additional scallion, cucumber, or cilantro if you like. Season to taste with salt, pepper, sriracha, or yuzu ponzu.
Okra has a mucilaginous texture that few love at first bite. Apparently it helps with digestive issues, encourages the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, is loaded with antioxidants, loaded with vitamins, and rich in fiber. If you'd like to read more about it, you can look at a couple sites I found when I googled the health benefits of okra here and here.
But really, who cares? You can eat it with bacon and that's all you need to know. If you are afraid to try okra, just rest confident in the fact that bacon is the painless path to a love of okra. It worked on my four year old daughter- one day she was eating the bacon off the okra, the next day she was shoving raw okra pods in her mouth.
My friend Noriko first made this for me, and I wish I had taken pictures that day, because her skewers were much prettier than mine. Thanks, Noriko!!
Okra that is not too long or it might be a little too fibrous
bacon cut into pieces about 3 inches long
Line a baking sheet with foil because this is a little messy. Wrap each pod in bacon and secure with one or two wooden skewers. Place the baking sheet about 5 inches under the broiler and flip it after the bacon looks done to you. Keep a very close eye on these since they go from perfect to burnt in one minute.
This is the second pork and cabbage soup recipe I've posted, but they couldn't be more different from each other. I am still working my way through Countess Morphy's Recipes of All Nations Hungarian section, and this was another winning recipe. This is good, easy, inexpensive winter food.
3/4 pound pork tenderloin cut in 1 inch cubes
2 pounds cabbage sliced and shredded
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2-3 chopped tomatoes
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons lard or butter or olive oil
4 cups water
1 teaspoon paprika
Heat up the fat or oil in a Dutch oven. Add the cabbage and onion and salt it lightly. Add the meat, paprika, tomatoes, and a little more salt. Stir it well and allow it to cook and simmer in the juices that come out for 30 minutes, being careful not to burn it. Add the 4 cups of hot water, bring it to a boil, and simmer for another hour and a half until the meat and cabbage are tender. (If you are in a hurry I think you can eat it long before then and you would be in no danger of shattering your teeth on tough meat and cabbage.) When you're ready to eat it, mix together a little sour cream with the flour and some of the hot soup stock. Taste it for salt. Return it to the pot and let it simmer a few more minutes before taking it off the heat and stirring in the rest of the sour cream.
I know this sounds like a joke. I had read about this before, and I honestly thought it sounded like a pretty bad idea. Some things are better left to the compost pile. But I thought I could try it once. I hedged my bets by including a little basil. I didn't even want to like it, but I put a dollop on a boiled egg, and then had a few more dollops without giving it much thought. So I think it's a small success- however... I found it to be a little bitter. This may be the reason carrot tops aren't wildly popular, and I don't know if I would make it again. But if you're curious or just want to say you did it, read on.
Unlike basil leaves which are a little bit of a pain to pull off, the fluffy leaves come right off when you slide your fingers down the woody stems.
3-4 cups of fluffy carrot tops pulled from the thick stem
1-2 cups basil leaves
2 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste
Blend in a food processor. Be sure to add enough salt. Nothing tastes good without it, and carrot tops are no exception!
This was another Saveur winner. I put this in sandwiches and salads, I serve it alongside tacos and beans, and I plop a few over soups. This is good added to any egg, whether boiled or scrambled or fried. When I have used all the onion I add more to the brine. Sometimes I add carrots and radishes as well as red onion. I'm sure any other onion would taste just as good even if it could never be just as pretty. I use the vinegar in salads. It's a really simple recipe and a great pickle to have on hand at all times.
1 big red onion or a few small red onions thinly sliced (and later carrot slices, radish slices, etc.)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon whole cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
3 cloves of garlic peeled and halved lengthwise
red wine vinegar to cover
Put the onion in a bowl and toss it with the salt. In about 15 minutes, after the onion has started to sweat, add the cumin, oregano, peppercorns, and garlic. Pour red wine vinegar over it to cover.
This is a very simple way to cook zucchini that has a pretty presentation. I originally tried this over 15 years ago from Rozanne Gold's Recipes 1-2-3, and as far as I can remember this is faithful to the recipe in the book. I served this with a pound of pasta cooked and mixed with a cup of grated parmesan and 2 cups of stem pesto. Both kids ate it without complaining.
3 tablespoons butter
3 zucchini sliced into circles
1 or 2 lemons sliced into circles
salt and pepper
Melt the butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Put the zucchini down in the hot butter in one layer. Season them lightly with salt and pepper. When the zucchini have browned nicely, flip them over. The ones in the center of the pan will cook first, so you may have to do some shuffling. Once they have cooked through and both sides are browned, carefully remove the zucchini and put the lemon slices in. Use the back of a spoon to press the juice out a little. You may have to turn the heat down a little at this point if you hear the lemon juice sizzle too hard. Now pour the lemons and butter over the zucchini. Add salt and pepper if it needs it.
I don't believe that farmer's markets were intended to be this bizarrely over-priced, elitist monster that they have become, but when the pluots (plum-apricot hybrids) I found at the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market in San Francisco were $7 a pound I knew I'd never go back. I had gone with the intention of buying produce for the week but left instead with a cup of coffee. I still get a little worked up over it.
At the Pinole farmer's market I found that the more I bought from one buyer, the more they were willing to throw things in for free and lower the prices a little bit here and there. This is pretty good, but the most exciting find for me came in the unlikeliest of places... Richmond. Their farmer's market is on Fridays from 8-5 on Barrett and 24th by the Civic Center. Richmond may not provide the prettiest of farmer's markets, but it has become my favorite.
Look at the picture above, and then go to Raley's and see how much $6 buys you.
One of my favorite growers there usually reminds me of an angry Santa, but today he was very friendly. At a little after noon he goes around and throws the produce into $1 bags. The prices are unbeatable and the quality is better than what you can buy in the supermarket. I had dismissed it at first because it isn't organic, but took notice when a friend mentioned how good the tomatoes in our sandwiches were. She was right. Then I made zucchini with sour cream recently with zucchini I bought from this farm, and made it again with supermarket zucchini. The ones from the farm were much, much better.
Another great farm sells on the far corner. They have a 45 acre farm and don't spray. Everything is picked the night before and never refrigerated. They sell all kinds of exotic vegetables and are happy to tell you what to do with it all. I have tried a few greens I don't have names for, young pumpkin, lemongrass, jujubes, peanuts, okra, and young jicama from there. I also bought what might have been sweet potato leaves.
If you need lettuce, cauliflower, or broccoli this might not be the place for you. But if you are willing to cook with what you find and experiment a little, I cannot recommend this more highly. I think it's a well kept secret.
I'm sorry I can't give you names of farms- every time I go I have two children with me and it was hard to research this while chasing them and digging around for spare change. But you should go.
Sure there are slow cookers, but what about a slow cooker meal that serves up three courses and doesn't even require a crockpot? Way more impressive. This meat stew is the work of brilliant Jewish women who needed to serve a hot meal on the Sabbath without lighting a fire. It is from Gloria Kaufer Green's The Jewish Holiday Cookbook.
There are probably many more ways to serve this, but the traditional way is to eat the eggs and potatoes together, possibly for breakfast, the rice and meat together as a second course, and then the beans and broth as a soup. I served it once after church on a Sunday with a green salad, and I was impressed even if no one else was. Next time I make this I think I will use it for three full meals: toast with eggs and potatoes for breakfast (if I include the rice next time, otherwise I'll save the potatoes for the meat), tacos with the meat and rice (and avocado, lime, etc.) for lunch, and finally I'll serve the bean soup with a salad for dinner.
You can make this either in the oven or in a slow cooker. I left out the rice this time because I couldn't find my cheesecloth stash, so I'm sorry it's missing in all the pictures. Use your imagination. Because the chickpeas have to soak, you need to start this recipe early- so for a Sunday afternoon meal, soak the chickpeas from Saturday morning or even Friday night. I let mine soak for 24 hours sometimes out of sheer laziness.
1-1/2 cups dry chick peas
2-1/2 pounds chuck roast cut into 4-6 large pieces
2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped pitted dates
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1 cup rice
6-8 small new potatoes
about 7 cups water
1. Soak the chickpeas in a bowl with water to cover by at least 2 inches. Leave it for 8-24 hours. Drain before using.
2. In the bottom of a large slow cooker or a big Dutch oven, spread the soaked and drained chickpeas. Layer the meat on top of the chickpeas. Scatter the onions, garlic, dates, and spices (cinnamon through pepper) around the meat. Cut a big square of cheesecloth from a double thickness and tie the corners together to form a bag around the rice. Make sure there is plenty of room in the bag since the rice will swell to 2 or 3 times the original size. Put the bag in the center on top of the meat, and surround it with alternating eggs and potatoes. Add enough water so that everything is almost covered, but be sure there is at least 1 inch of headroom at the top of the pot.
3. If you're doing this in a Dutch oven, bring the dafina to a boil over medium heat, cover it tightly, and put it in a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake it for one hour, then lower the temperature to 225-250 degrees and bake it for another 12-20 hours. Don't stir the dafina while it's cooking. If you are cooking this in a slow cooker, put it on hight heat for 1 hour, and then turn the heat to low and cook it overnight.
Last night I decided to make some mushroom pasta. I threw it together as an afterthought because I was baking a casserole I wasn't too sure about. We started with the mushrooms and no one touched the casserole- not because there was anything wrong with it, but because the mushroom pasta was so good. The kids loved this one, and they had it again for breakfast by request. (!!?)
I started with a big bag of mixed mushrooms from Monterey Market. Any mix is fine, or even just a big Costco container of brown mushrooms would be great, but the mix made it a little more exciting. The exact amount probably doesn't matter much either, just remember that mushrooms really cook down.
1 pound bow tie pasta
12 cups of mushrooms, (or a big bag, or whatever you have) thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic smashed and sliced
a generous pinch of dried thyme
reserved bacon fat or olive oil
1/2-3/4 cup wine
1/2 cup cream
salt to taste
1/2-1 cup grated parmesan
Put a big pot of water on to boil. Have all of the ingredients for the mushroom sauce prepped before you add any pasta to the water. Add salt until it tastes pleasantly salty. When it starts to boil, add the dried pasta. While that is boiling, heat up the bacon fat or olive oil in a really big pan. Add the garlic and the thyme and sauté briefly. Add the mushrooms and a sprinkling of salt. Mushrooms always seem to absorb every drop of fat or oil, so when this happens or when the mushrooms have started to shrink a little, add the wine. It has to be enough that the mushrooms won't burn. (Of course you could lower the heat, but dinner time is usually a huge rush around here.) Once the wine has mostly boiled off, add the cream. When the pasta is just slightly underdone, drain it and add it immediately to the mushroom sauce. It will finish cooking and absorb the flavors of the sauce. When it all looks done (your enormous pile of mushrooms should have cooked down considerably and nothing tastes raw), stir in as much parmesan as you like. If you are short on that, add more salt.
I love trying new foods, cooking, and gardening. I hope to share these experiences on this site. Thanks for taking a look!