KID in the KITCHEN: Easy Blueberry Pancakes

17 Dec Proud cook!

It isn’t easy to stand by and watch while your seven-year-old cracks eggs that land on the floor (it only happened once!) or spills too much oil into the batter (we effectively bailed the excess out) or awkwardly flips runny pancake batter on a crappy little electric stove top where not just the heating elements but the whole top gets hot. And I don’t pretend that I don’t have sharp words for lapses of care. I get nervous, you see.

The smaller the better for flipping

The smaller the better for flipping

But my little guy likes cooking with me (“Are you sure? ‘Cause I yell at you sometimes.” “Yes I’m sure. I love it!”) and I love cooking with him. And as he gets handier and can read, I am increasingly letting him do more of the risky stuff. Like reading the recipe himself and measuring out ingredients and –yes — flipping pancakes on a hot stove.

It can be nerve-wracking, but the results are worth it. I am not talking about the culinary results, although his pancakes turned out delicious, as does his French toast. I’m talking about reading and following instructions and measuring and thinking about how baking soda and baking powder work, having responsibilities and having to be focused and careful. I am happy when he takes a step in the direction of independence, but it is nothing compared to his own pleasure at becoming so competent. “I did it! I flipped it!” and “I made delicious pancakes practically all by myself!” are the seasonings that make everything taste better when you are seven. And sometimes when you are a lot older too!

Piled high and DRENCHED in maple syrup....

Piled high and DRENCHED in maple syrup….

These pancakes are slightly modified from Kids Cook by Sarah Williamson & Zachary Williamson, a terrific starter book that he got from his godmother. My important advice in cooking with kids is get all the ingredients and tools organized first. The less turning your back to get something that you do during the proceedings, the better. Click for recipe Continue reading

Walnut Cups – gorgeous holiday cookie alternative (who doesn’t love a cream cheese crust?)

13 Dec Featured Image -- 6552

Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy:

This reblog is my very favorite holiday cookie recipe…so elegant, so rich and delicious! And not hard at all!

Originally posted on Hot, Cheap & Easy:

2012-12-16 09.19.14I absolutely cannot believe that I have never posted this recipe!

Yes this much butter, this much cream cheese. Get your jaw off the floor and get cooking!

Yes this much butter, this much cream cheese. Get your jaw off the floor and get cooking!

For the last I don’t know how many years — since my neighbor Teresa brought some over for us one holiday season and was kind enough to give me the recipe — Marianne and family and I (and now Leandro) have included this recipe in our Christmas cookie baking extravaganza although  think last year we did Walnut Toffee Triangles instead. When we went to do the cups this year, I went straight to my own blog and was horrified (or perhaps I should say gobsmacked, simply because I can) to find I had never shared this with you!

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Coquito: Puerto Rican Egg Nog (this one without eggs!)

12 Dec Featured Image -- 6541

Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy:

’tis la temporada navideña! A few people have been asking for this one lately…here it is!!!

Originally posted on Hot, Cheap & Easy:

In Puerto Rico, as soon as the Thanksgiving turkey is scraped off the plates, our collective thoughts turn to what we are going to eat for Christmas. But we are not just talking about Christmas Eve or Christmas day, oh no.We’re talking about every day for the next two months.

Recipes written by by late, great-aunt Titi Amida for my mother.

Recipes written by by late, great-aunt Titi Amida for my mother.

Christmas lasts from the day after Thanksgiving well into January, with the Feast of the Epiphany or Three Kings Day on January 6th, followed by octavas(the eight days after Three Kings Day) which are then followed by octavitas, which last for another eight days. And since we’re practically into February by then, you might as well keep celebrating until Valentine’s Day on the 14th….We have to do it this way, to give everyone who wants to have a Christmas party the opportunity. Twelve days of Christmas…

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2014 Thanksgiving Easy Recipe Round-Up

27 Nov Featured Image -- 6512

Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy:

It’s that time again….here is a reblog of a Thanksgiving recipe round-up….I’ll be making several of these today! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!! xoxox

Originally posted on Hot, Cheap & Easy:

I will probably post a few more Thanksgiving recipes in the next few days, but here is a start – some of our time-honored favorites that are not hard to do, but really celebrate the season. If you want to keep it simple and bountiful, take a look at these suggestions as you make your shopping list and measure how much time and energy you will really have to devote to pyrotechnics.

We are all about being thankful this year, since we’ve beat back cancer and are making it through the economic slowdown and all…so quietly and leisurely is how we are taking it!

Butternut Squash Bisque and bonus pumpkin seed pepitas

Butternut Squash Bisque

Butternut Squash Bisque

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts

Green Beans- bring the sweetness to the fore

Brine that Bird! (especially if you are getting a farm-fresh, free-range turkey)

bathed in the glow of a Home Depot bucket bathed in…

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Baked Stuffed Pumpkin or Winter Squash

26 Nov This looked really impressive and it was really easy!

 

 

It’s been a long time since I stuffed a pumpkin, but Halloween and late fall combined to make me want to do it again. This is so easy and you can stuff any old winter squash with any old stew (or stuffing) and make a dramatic dish!

stuffed squashBaked Pumpkin with Beef and Sweet Potato Stew

One or two whole pumpkins (We used two 6” tall pumpkins), hollowed out, seeds reserved for pepitas, cap reserved

2 Tbs olive oil

1.5 Cups chopped onion

1/4 Cup garlic, minced

¾ Cup carrots, diced

¾ Cup celery, diced

2 lbs ground beef

Adobo powder

1 Cup sweet potato, peeled and cubed

3 Tbs Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp soy sauce

2 Tbs tomato paste

1 Tbs oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil until fragrant at medium high. Add onion, stir to coat, then lower heat and cook for about five minutes, until well-softened. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add carrots and celery and cook another five minutes, until softening. Add ground beef and brown. Sprinkle with abundant Adobo powder, then add sweet potato, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and tomato paste. Preheat oven to 350°F while allowing meat mixture to simmer for at least 20 minutes on low, adding, adding oregano about five minutes before you take it off the heat.

Sprinkle the inside of the pumpkin very generously with salt and pepper. Put each pumpkin on a stable rimmed baking sheet with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking. You’ll want something that you can carry the pumpkin to the table on, as the shell will soften and fall apart if you try to move it.

Stuff the pumpkin with the meat. You can freeze leftover meat, or, as we did, quickly open up a couple of butternut squash, season and stuff also.

Bake the pumpkins for an hour and check for tenderness. We cooked our two small ones for two and the squashes for about 1.5 hours.

Allow to cool for a bit and bring to the table with the lids on for extra drama. As you scoop out the meat (it’s nice with rice), also scrape out some pumpkin, which should be seasoned and tender.

 

 

Writing for the Edible Communities

9 Nov 2014-08-27 17.58.47 Amagansett

You may have noticed a slow-down in my posting here on Hot, Cheap & Easy of late. Nothing’s gone wrong..in fact everything is going right! I am working towards tenure at the college where I teach, exploring new areas of academia, presenting at conferences and working hard to provide good stuff for my students.

Alfajores: Café Buenos Aires

Alfajores: Café Buenos Aires

On the home front, my second-grader’s activities keep me on the hop: music, soccer, friends, Spanish school, Scouts, …and of course we still need to make time for walks in the woods and bike rides and baking and all those good things we like to do together.

Ïn the Kitchen with David Rosengarten" Amagansett

Ïn the Kitchen with David Rosengarten” Amagansett

I am still cooking and (sort of ) gardening and trying out new recipes, but I  just run out of time to post, especially because I have been doing a lot of writing: blog posts and articles for Edible Communities publications.

A Taste of Africa in Deer Park

A Taste of Africa in Deer Park

Their mission: …to transform the way consumers shop for, cook, eat and relate to local food. Through its printd publications, websites and events, ECI strives to connect consumers with local growers, retailers, chefs and food artisans, enabling those relationships to grow and thrive in a mutually benenficial, healthful and economically viable way.

In the Kitchen with David Rosengarten: Amagansett

In the Kitchen with David Rosengarten: Amagansett

Leandro learnes to dip chocolate, while I work on a story. I bring him with me when necessary and sometimes it works out really, really well!

Leandro learnes to dip chocolate, while I work on a story. I bring him with me when necessary and sometimes it works out really, really well!

They are beautiful magazines that celebrate local food and I am pleased to be working with them. So….if you’d love to see what I’ve been doing when I am cheating on my own blog, here are links to my Other work!

Natalia de Cuba Romero at Edible Long Island

Natalia de Cuba Romero at  Edible East End

I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed doing them!

Artichokes or Fartichokes? We Test Them

7 Nov Another view of them raw

I got a quart of Jerusalem artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus),as a special bonus from the farm the other day and I was thrilled to get to try them.

Here's what they look like before washing

Here’s what they look like before washing

But a funny thing happened when I began to research…some articles suggested that as delicious as these roots are — favored by Native Americans back in the day and now beloved worldwide — and despite their cheery aliases —  sunchokes, sunroot and earth apples  — they have a dark underbelly. Emphasis on belly. The story goes that they cause gastric disturbances that no one wants to talk about, since they have so many tasty uses and currently are the darling of the foodie-rootsy set.

I took my investigation international, as my sources said the Brits in particular complained about the gas and christened them “fartichokes.” Given that the English would be unlikely to worry about the truth of such a terrific pun-type word and would happily use it with complete disregard to its relationship to actual fact, I had to corroborate.

Cleaned-up Jerusalem artichokes.

Cleaned-up Jerusalem artichokes.

My son and I got on the Skype to Lowestoft, England to ask my friend Kate and her two boys, Alastair and Gregor, who are 10 and therefore can be expected to be well-versed in anything gassy. They said no, they’d never heard such a thing, but seemed to enjoy being asked.

Well, me being me, I forged on with the experiment, fearlessly offering my body as laboratory rat in the name of good eating, washing and peeling some (but not all) of these cute little roots that have a hobbit-y sort of charm. I set about roasting and then had a taste. They were delicious. Really delicious.

Firm to the bite then creamy inside, with a wonderful nutty flavor (the peeled bits were better than the unpeeled); I was smitten and already thinking about what I could do with them the next time. I then went to bed, after leaving some for my parents to try with their lunch the next day.

Another view of them raw

Another view of them raw

All was well, until suddenly on my way to work that next morning I found out that the Wikipedia entry was painfully true…and I quote… Continue reading

Silky Leek & Potato Soup (no cream)

7 Nov I dot a bit of nonfat plain yogurt for fun!

Soup season is here! Here is a simple leek and potato soup, more silky than creamy. I don’t like too much richness competing with the loveliness of the leeks so I skip the cream and the potatoes give it a good mouth feel. Having said that, I use homemade vegetable stock (usually made from vegetable clippings) that tends to bring a lot of vegetable flavor and sweetness of its own. I call that complexity and like it!

Wash leeks thoroughly as they can hold onto a lot of dirt!

Wash leeks thoroughly as they can hold onto a lot of dirt!

I don’t have much else to say about this one, except that it does everything a busy person needs: easy prep, tastes great on the day and reheats beautifully in the office microwave for days to come. Oh yeah, and it’s in season now!

I dot a bit of nonfat plain yogurt for fun!

I dot a bit of nonfat plain yogurt for fun!

Leek and Potato Soup (makes four generous bowls)

3 Tbs unsalted butter

1 lb leeks

1 pinch salt

1 lb potatoes (Yukon Gold preferred), peeled and chopped into 1/4” chunks

1 quart vegetable stock

Salt and fresh ground pepper

Melt the butter at moderate heat in a soup pot.

Meanwhile, cut off the green part of the leeks and the root end and discard. Clean the remaining white parts thoroughly. Slice the leeks roughly. Place the leeks in the butter and a generous pinch of salt and sweat the leeks for five minutes, Then lower heat to medium low and let the leeks cook for 25 minutes, until really tender.

Add the potatoes and stock and simmer until the potatoes are tender (about 15 minutes). Puree with an immersion blender or mash with a potato ricer to desired consistency. Check for salt and serve with grated pepper (and croutons if desired).

Chick Pea, Sausage and Winter Squash/Calabaza Stew

5 Nov Featured Image -- 6460

Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy:

As a chilly weekend approaches, consider this warming soup (you can substitute different pumpkins or squashes and different sausages too!)

Originally posted on Hot, Cheap & Easy:

Soup and stew season is upon us!

Funnily enough, I was working on a story on Indian food for Edible Long Island when I spotted my kind of calabaza in the pumpkin section of Patel Brothers (a nationwide chain of Indian/South Asian groceries stores) in Hicksville, and made sure to buy a big hunk on the way out after my interview with the manager.

Calabaza

Calabaza

I say “funnily”, not just because I found Caribbean calabaza in an Indian shop — which in and of itself has some sort of sardonic Christopher Columbus karma about it — but that because of immigration patterns, i can no longer find the Puerto Rican variety in Latin groceries where it belongs. All the Puerto Ricans have married out or moved out and been replaced by Central Americans who use kabochas or some other varieties which are not quite right for me!

(For more on…

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Lentil Soup/Sopa de Lentejas (with vegetarian/vegan option); Snuggly, Spicy Winter Soup

2 Nov

Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy:

NOTE TO READERS ON REBLOG: this is a staple recipe in my house that deserves to be reposted! Make this on a blustery Sunday and eat hearty and healthy all week!

Originally posted on Hot, Cheap & Easy:

If you do not have a bag of dried lentils in your larder at all times, you’ve got some explaining to do. These little cuties are about $.80 a pound, keep for a year, are full of good stuff for you and don’t need to be pre-soaked. They are fast, convenient, filling and ever so tasty. How could you not?

Lentil Soup has got to be the best comfort food ever. It is rich and hearty and slurpy and — this version at least – just a bit spicy. You can use whatever scraps you’ve got around. You can give it a Middle Eastern flavor or Italian flair by varying the spices. Use a different type of sausage – like kielbasa – and some sage or rosemary for a more Eastern European style. Use no sausage at all and a dash of liquid aminos or veggie steak sauce and some…

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