This is the dish that sold me on the need to can tomatoes every summer. We tried canning them for the first time last summer, and I thought when we did it that it represented a colossal waste of time on a Sunday afternoon. But this dish highlights the sweetness of home-canned tomatoes, a sweetness that you can't buy. The kale was the best part of this. It had a tender, mild quality to it I've never tasted before except in perfectly cooked spinach. Maybe because it was home grown, maybe because it was simmered in the tomatoes and the sausage. Maybe it was just the butter, but I wish there had been leftovers.
3 cloves crushed and chopped garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon pepper flakes
4 cups thinly sliced kale
4 cups home canned tomatoes
1 pound cooked sweet Italian sausage, either crumbled or sliced
2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
1 pound penne or other pasta
1/3 cup grated parmesan
Begin with the sauce. In a large sauté pan or skillet, heat the oil, the butter, and the chopped garlic together. When the garlic starts to sizzle a little, add in the pepper flakes. Give it maybe 15 seconds to warm up and flavor the oil, and then add in the kale. Salt the kale a little to break it down, and once it looks a little cooked add in the tomatoes and sausage. Bring it to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer for a while. Taste it for salt and pepper and be sure the kale cooks down and the tomatoes disintegrate. As it simmers some of the excess liquid should evaporate so the sauce won't be too soupy.
Preheat the oven to 400.
Cook the pasta according to package directions, being sure to salt the water until it tastes good. After draining the pasta, stir it into the sauce. (I hope you used a REALLY big skillet!) Add in the shredded cheese and mix together. Pour the whole thing into a 9"x13" baking pan. Top with the parmesan cheese and put the whole thing in the oven until it looks a little browned and any cheese in it has melted, only about 15 minutes for me because it was all still hot from the stove and didn't require much time in the oven. If it had been refrigerated first maybe I would have cooked it at 350 for a half hour to forty-five minutes. Take it out and serve it hot.
I started off the new year fully prepared to swear off cooking forever. I don't have the time or the energy,and no one here wants to eat what I want to cook. But then after a trip to Costco where I invested in a ridiculously generous supply of every staple I could think of, I realized I had everything I needed to try nearly every single recipe in my collection of Afghani recipes. Surely the stars don't align this way more than once in a lifetime! It was a sign. At first I thought I'd just try a few simple selections, but with each sip of coffee my dreams and delusions grew.
This is how I ended up slaving over a meticulous, labor-intensive dish of stuffed chicken cooked in rice the very first week of the year. It was dry and disappointing. A "bitter" meal for me. I had been sure something that complicated had to result in greatness. It was SO bloody dry, and all the fried almonds and raisins and orange peel in the world couldn't fix that.
However, there was a cauliflower stew I made as well which was quick, simple, and though never destined for greatness, I intend to make it all winter long. I tried it with beef stew meat and ground lamb. Both times it was really good. I served it with basmati rice because we eat everything with rice, but I suppose it could go with anything you like. There is nothing in the stew which screams "Afghani!", so it would be equally at home with naan or mashed potatoes.
Happy New Year!
1-2 chopped onions
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound of stew meat, either lamb or beef
2 teaspoons ground coriander OR 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 cloves chopped garlic
1-1/2 teaspoons split peas
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
salt and pepper
1 large head of cauliflower cut into florets
In a large pot heat the oil and sauté the onions until they are golden brown. Add the meat, a little bit of salt, and allow the meat to brown a little. Stir in the coriander or tomato paste, the garlic, the split peas, the turmeric, and some salt and pepper. Add just enough water to barely cover the meat. Bring it up to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer until the meat is tender. Add the cauliflower, and when that is tender too season to taste with salt and pepper.
Steak with Pea Shoots
This was a happy accident, and if I don't write it down now I am sure it will never happen again! It's just teriyaki steak over pea shoots, but if you haven't made either before you'll love this. I've made teriyaki salmon and teriyaki chicken, but never steak. It was delicious, but salty, so perfect with plain rice and pea shoots. It doesn't take more than 45 minutes from start to finish, and the actual cooking time is more like 10 minutes.
I bought the pea shoots at Ranch 99. I've seen them at Berkeley Bowl too. I'm not sure where else they can be found, but probably any Chinese market sells them.
1 pound t-bone steaks (or another steak, but that's what I used and I want to remember :)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 Tablespoons grated ginger
1 clove minced garlic
1 Tablespoon sake
2 Tablespoons oil
12 oz. pea shoots
1-1/2 Tablespoons sake
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon oil
hot rice to eat on the side
1. Prepare and marinate the steak. Put the steaks in a dish and cover with the soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sugar, and sake. Turn the steaks over once or twice and allow them to marinate for about half an hour. Unless it's really hot out, it should be fine to leave them out on your counter while you get everything else ready.
2. Prepare the pea shoots. Be sure to measure out the salt, sake, and garlic for making the pea shoots. They cook in what feels like seconds, so everything has to be set out ahead of time. Set up a 12 inch pan for the steak and a wok or 14 inch pan for the pea shoots.
3. Begin cooking the steaks. Heat the 12 inch pan over medium high heat, and then add 2 tablespoons of oil. When it's hot, put the steaks in, cover them, and set a timer for three minutes. After three minutes, flip the steaks, pour in the marinade, cover them again, and leave it for three minutes. (Six minutes total cooking time.) Now you can take it off the heat.
4. Cook the pea sprouts. Heat up your wok and then add 1 teaspoon of oil. Add the pea shoots and garlic and stir for 20 seconds. Pour in the rice wine and salt and continue to cook over high heat for another minute, or just until they are all bright green and slightly wilted. Remove them to a serving dish, leaving most of the liquid behind.
5. Slice the steak and serve it over the pea sprouts with a drizzle of the sauce from the steak.
Sausage and Peppers
Long after I gave up on my sweet pepper plants, they finally produced an abundance of beautiful green, yellow and red peppers. And unlike most of what I grow, these were full-sized. It was a pleasant surprise and a good reason to keep gardening. Last year I used peppers in all the Hungarian dishes I tried and also in the Portuguese recipe for spareribs roasted in a salty sweet pepper marinade, but this year I went Italian and roasted them with onions and sweet Italian sausage. Of everything I've made, this is the one dish where I loved the peppers themselves the best. They are flavored by the sausage and onion, and the result is greater than the sum of its parts.
This can be served with salad and some bread, made into sandwiches, or turned into soup later. It doesn't take much effort either, though I still managed to ruin it once. The last time I made this, I couldn't find Italian sausage and used chorizo instead. It was equally good, just spicier, so I could have used less sausage. The leftovers I made into a soup with leftover rice and sautéed greens.
I originally tried the recipe from The Soprano Family Cookbook, but it's hardly a recipe, more just a great combination.
a combination of red and green bell peppers cut into one inch squares or sliced
1-2 onions cut the same size
1 potato, cut to match the other vegetables
salt and pepper
one pound mild Italian sausages
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Toss all the vegetables with plenty of olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread them out onto one or two baking sheets and pop them into the preheated oven. Watch them, because how quickly they cook depends on how you cut them. After about half an hour, when the vegetables are starting to look soft, prick the sausages in a few places and set them over the vegetables to cook. If your vegetables have shrunk down to nothing and you have them on two trays, be sure to combine them. You don't want to burn your vegetables. Once the sausages have cooked through it's ready to eat.
I've served this with rolls, rice, or a side of spaghetti squash.
Okra in Oil (bamies laderes)
There were lovely piles of fresh okra at the farmer's market last Saturday. I couldn't buy any because I still had a half pound languishing at home from the week before, but it did strengthen my resolve to cook it instead of feeding it all to the chickens. I found a recipe for okra in the section of my Greek cookbook entitled, "lathera". (I can't figure out how to type in Greek, sorry!) Lathi is the word for oil, so I wonder if what appears to be a vegetable section is actually labeled "oily things". (This recipe is very similar to a Lebanese green bean recipe that I love and have been meaning to post all year. Soon.)
I know a lot of people are a little wary of okra, but if you don't absolutely hate it, you should try this. I can't understand why this was so good, all I can do is be honest and confess that I ate it all myself. All. Myself. No one else had the opportunity to confirm that the goodness wasn't all in my head. Crunchy, soft, rich, sweet, and savory. I want more. This could be a side or the meal.
The best part is, the amounts are estimates and the directions only amount to a glorified version of "cook it until it's done." This is EASY. It's from the Greek Cookery book I mentioned in my post about Greek salad.
1 pound of okra
2 medium onions, diced
3 ripe tomatoes, diced and peeled too if you care
1/2 cup olive oil
3 Tablespoons of vinegar
In a small bowl, combine 1 Tablespoon of salt and 3 Tablespoons of vinegar. I used red wine vinegar. Clean the okra, cut off the stem end, and dip it into the vinegar. Put the okra, onion, tomatoes, salt, pepper, and olive oil into a pot or large frying pan. Add 1-2 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Once it comes to the boil, turn down the flame and simmer it until the vegetables are done but the okra is not mushy. Taste it for salt and pepper and season it accordingly.
Linguine with Clams
My son begs me for this every time we pass the seafood counter. It's quick, and provided you like clams, it's also delicious.
I try to make this the same day I buy the clams. Depending on who I buy clams from and how they wrap them up, sometimes I think they get too warm or asphyxiate, so now I bring them home right away, open the packaging, and put them on ice. The pan you cook these in must have a tight fitting lid or you run the risk of torturing your clams instead of just cooking them.
If my directions make this sound a little laborious, rest assured this is fast. It just takes a while to write about. :)
1 pound dried linguine
3 tablespoons olive oil
2-4 cups chopped tomatoes
2 cloves chopped garlic
1/4 cup sake or white wine
2 pounds fresh clams rinsed and strained
salt and pepper
optional: grated parmesan cheese
Heat a big pot of salted water and bring it to a boil. If you aren't sure how much salt to add, just taste the water to see if it tastes good.
While you are waiting for the water to boil, heat a 14" sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and chopped garlic, and when the garlic starts to sizzle, add in the tomatoes and salt them right away. (I think three large tomatoes would be perfect, but I try to use up whatever I have on hand since I'm collecting tomatoes from the garden every day right now and I don't want them to go bad. It only makes the sauce drier or juicier.)
Let them cook long enough that they start to break down, and then add the sake. Bring it back up to a boil, and then grab your strainer of clams. If any of the clams haven't closed when you rinsed them off, this means they are already dead, so throw them out. Pour the rest into your pan, cover it immediately, and turn the heat up to high. (Don't do that if the sauce looks a little dry, but I always crank up the heat and hope for a quick death.) Give it a few minutes, and then you can start checking to see if all of your clams have opened. When they are wide open they are done. If any of the clams don't open after all the others have, throw them out. Taste the sauce for salt and pepper. At this point the sauce is done, and you can turn the heat down to the lowest setting.
When your salted pasta water has come to a boil, add the linguine and cook it until it's almost done. Strain it and add it to your sauce to finish cooking and absorb some of the liquid from the sauce. Top it with a healthy sprinkle of chopped parsley and grated parmesan if you like. On a recent cooking show binge I discovered that Italian seafood pasta is never EVER combined with cheese, but... I like cheese and I am far from Italy. The Italians will never know.
There is nothing authentic about this recipe. I am not Chinese. I am not Thai. I didn't get this recipe from a well-researched publication about the way of fried rice. However, this is how I make fried rice, and some day, far into the future, when someone researches how Asia has influenced home cooking in nations far from the homeland, this kind of recipe will become authentic in its own right. Right? Plus, it's a good way to use up bits of meat and vegetables with hard leftover rice.
I've made what feels like a million different versions, but although you can change it up quite a bit, there are a few rules. 1) No cheese- too inauthentic, even for me! 2) There must be enough oil to coat every grain of rice. 3) If there's too much rice to the amount of meat and vegetables this will not only be cheap and filling, but it will really FEEL cheap and filling. Yuck.
2 cups of old, refrigerated rice (fresh rice doesn't fry up well)
2 Chinese sausages (or some ham or leftover meat, but the Chinese sausage is the best)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
leftover bacon grease, coconut oil, or peanut oil
about 2 cups of chopped vegetables such as (zucchini, bell pepper, mushrooms, peas, etc.)
1 cup of pork stock
optional: 10-spice powder, chopped cilantro
Afghani Lamb Stew with Yogurt
Maybe this is an odd recipe to post on Memorial Day weekend, when everyone in their right mind is either camping or grilling. This recipe is so simple I almost didn't post it, but after some thought I decided that was the charm. It really is easy. The yogurt gives the stew a nice tangy flavor, and next time I'd like to try this with cream instead of the yogurt. I'd also like to try some more exciting Afghani dishes, but this was easy on a weekday and great served with rice and a roasted vegetable. According to Helen Saberi in Afghan Food & Cookery, this dish can be made with chicken as well without sacrificing authenticity although I plan on doing just that when I try this with cream next time. You can make this ahead of time and reheat it right before dinner.
I have eaten amazing Afghani food and ho-hum Afghani food, but I am hoping to find the great recipes in Helen Saberi's book. Her vegetables call for vegetable oil, but I use a blend of equal parts olive oil, coconut oil, and sesame oil. I bet that the traditional cooking fat was lamb fat, but that is impossible to find. Some day...
1 onion, peeled and sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1/4 cup of oil
1 pound of boneless lamb or chicken
1 tablespoon on tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
2 whole cardamom pods
salt and pepper
3/4 cup full fat yogurt
P.S. My husband deserves full credit for the cream idea. I'll post an update once we try it.
Pronounced "jew-vedge", this hails from the part of the world formerly known as Yugoslavia. This is home cooking at it's best- simple, nutritious and rich. The miracle of this dish is that I made a mistake, turned off the oven halfway through cooking, and came home three and a half hours later to perfection. My kids have activities every afternoon right now, and I don't get home until around 7. I will be making this dish as often as my family will eat it.
I found this recipe in Elisabeth Luard's The Old World Kitchen: The Rich Tradition of European Peasant Cooking. It was published in 1987, so it's hardly the hot new thing, but it is a good thing. The directions were so simple I reread them again and again because I kept thinking that I had left something out. No- it's just that easy. And did I mention delicious?
My kids abhorred the eggplant, but my sympathy is limited. Your family, your call. This needs at least an hour and a half to bake.
1/2 cup olive oil (it's rich, not greasy)
2 sliced onions
3-4 cloves of sliced garlic
2 pounds of boneless lamb, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
salt and pepper
2 pounds of chopped mixed vegetables (bell pepper, zucchini, green beans, eggplant)
1/2 cup of rice
1/2 pound sliced fresh or canned tomatoes
Options and Alterations:
You can leave out the meat and add feta cheese during the end of the cooking. You can switch out the vegetables for whatever is in season. You can substitute chicken for lamb. You can use 4 peeled, sliced potatoes instead of rice. You can also add some cumin to the spices. The original recipe called for 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder, not the paprikas that I used.
I have eaten many frittatas in my life, but this was the best. The results were perfect and light. This is a great lunch or snack and tastes fine warm or room temperature. This version was from Saveur magazine, but there are at least ten versions found in Margaret Shayda's The Legendary Cuisine of Persia. Some versions call for potato, cauliflower, eggplant, herbs, strained yogurt, and a few of them are sweet. Eventually I will try a few of them, but except for the yogurt version and the sweet version, they mainly follow the recipe below. Sometimes saffron is used instead of turmeric for the color.
A friend of mine uses it to make sandwiches for her kids. My son ate his drenched in ketchup. To each his own.
1/4 inch coin of ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 large onions, chopped
1 t. ground turmeric
5 medium zucchini halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise
salt and pepper
4 T. flour
1/2 t. baking soda
7 eggs, beaten
2 T. chopped parsley
sumac for sprinkling
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Fry ginger, garlic, and onion in some olive oil until soft. Add the turmeric and zucchini and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook until the zucchini is tender. Stir in the flour and baking soda and allow it to cool.
2. Stir the eggs into the zucchini mixture. Use a little oil to grease a 9" x 13" baking dish, sprinkle with a little flour so nothing sticks, and pour in the zucchini mixture. Bake it about 25-30 minutes, until the egg has set. Take it out and garnish it with parsley and sumac.
I love trying new foods, cooking, and gardening. I hope to share these experiences on this site. Thanks for taking a look!