Tag Archives: cooking

Savory Spicy Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken

3 Aug

It is too hot for cooking, but the family’s gotta eat, so cook I must.

2015-07-31 11.40.23 slow cooker chickenSo I have employed the slow cooker; it makes for tasty and tender meals and doesn’t heat up the kitchen. Here is my interpretation of Moroccan Chicken; it was a big success with everyone in the house (the spiciness is pretty mild, just enough to keep things interesting) and took almost no effort on my part!

2015-07-31 11.40.51 slow cooker chickenSlow Cooker Moroccan Chicken

1 large onion, peeled and sliced into rounds (1-2 Cups)

2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced on the bias (1/2 inch slices, about 1 Cup)

3 large scallions, cleaned and sliced into rounds

Your preferred poultry seasoning or salt and pepper

1 4-5 lb whole chicken, cut into large pieces, or bone-in chicken parts, skin removed

1 Tbs cumin powder

1 Tbs oregano, dry

1 tsp harissa paste

1 8oz can of tomato puree (or Latin style tomato sauce with green pepper)

¼ Cup dry red wine

1 Tbs garlic, chopped

1-2 sprigs thyme

2 15oz cans chick peas, drained

Lay onion, carrots and scallions on the bottom of a large slow cooker. Season chicken pieces thoroughly and add to pot. Whisk together cumin, oregano, harissa, tomato puree, wine, and garlic and pour over chicken. Add thyme and chick peas. Cover slow cooker and cook on high for 3-4 hours, then finish on low for another hour or two. Serve with couscous or rice. May be frozen, but remove bones before freezing.

Cinnamon Sugar Toast by and for Kids

26 Jul

Yet another easy summer hack, this time one that will let your kid practice measuring and keep him or her busy for a hot minute.

This one is cinnamon sugar. All you need is one tablespoon of ground cinnamon and three tablespoons of granulated sugar (use white; brown is too crumbly-sticky) Mix thoroughly in a clean container with a lid.

The sugar can be sprinkled on buttered toast, muffins, French toast or pancakes, or apple slices that need a bit of help. It’ll keep in the pantry and that’s that!

2015-07-23 11.04.40 cinnamon sugar

Sweet Pea and Leek Soup

13 Apr

It’s been a busy Spring at our house and although I have been rather out of touch, there HAVE been delicious things going on in my little kitchen. This was our soup for our Easter meal and since it is lovely and simple and seasonal, I knew I would eventually get to sharing it with you! It is almost like a bisque, because the texture is that creamy, but there is no cream or milk!

This was a delightful starter for our Spring meal!

This was a delightful starter for our Spring meal!

Enjoy, and happy Spring!

Sweet Pea and Leek Soup

1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbs butter

2 Cups leeks cleaned and sliced, white part only

1 Tbs fresh thyme

1 Cup frozen peas plus ¼ Cup set aside

1 quart good vegetable stock

¼ tsp nutmeg

1 tsp salt

½ tsp black or white pepper, fresh cracked

In a soup pot heat the oil and butter at medium high. When the foaming subsides, add leeks, stir to coat and lower heat to medium. Cook the leeks, stirring occasionally, until very soft, adding the thyme after about 5 minutes.

Add the peas (setting aside that extra ¼ Cup) stock and nutmeg, Bring to a steady simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the peas are very soft.

Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Add the remaining peas, salt and pepper and serve with croutons, if desired, or a dollop of plain yogurt.

Two New Natural Easter Egg Colors

1 Apr

New colors for naturally dyed Easter eggs!

2015-03-30 20.56.53 easter eggsA couple of years ago we started coloring Easter eggs the natural way, with vegetable and spice colorings that can be teased out in a few minutes of boiling, steeping and straining. Our first colors were beet-derived pink, turmeric yellow, and blueberry purple-blue.

This year we added two more to our palette: red onion, which gives you a sort of earthy khaki color, and yellow onion, which tints the eggs a marvelous glowy yellow orange.

2015-03-31 08.57.32 easter eggsHere’s how:

Save the papery bits of red onion and yellow onion until you have a generous handful (the papery skins of a two-pound bag of onions should do it). Place each color in its own saucepan with 2.5 Cups water and a teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a lively simmer for 10 minutes. Strain into your dipping container, stir in 2 Tbs white vinegar and you are ready to dip! (For perfect hard-boiled eggs, click here)

And in case you missed it, here are the original three:

Three pots, each filled with 2 Cups water

HOT PINK – 1 large beet, chopped (peel can stay on)

YELLOW 4 Tbs turmeric

VIOLET BLUE – 12 oz frozen blueberries

2 Tbs white vinegar per color

crayons or wax pencils

Put one coloring ingredient in each pot. Bring to a boil, turn off and let steep five minutes. Strain into three separate bowls (removing chunky bits*). Add 2 Tbs vinegar to each bowl. Start blending, dipping and cross-dipping until you achieve the colors you like. Dry in the egg carton and add any decorations you see fit.

 

Vinny’s Brown Sugar Bacon

27 Mar

We recently had a wonderful weekend out in the wine country – Long Island’s North Fork is one of our favorite places to go…farmland, vineyards, the bay and the sound on either side and dear friends we’ve made over the years.

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

I had a baby shower to go to, so after a bit of lunch at Love Lane Kitchen with our friend Ashley and a little wine-tasting (me) and Scrabble (them Exhibits A and B) across the street at the Roanoake Tasting Room, I took Leandro to our friends Vinny and Carolyn’s  to hang out while I met Ashley back at the joyous shower at Paumanok Vineyards.

Exhibit B

Exhibit B

The bacon theme seems to have started at dinner for them, as they ordered him bacon mac and cheese at the Blue Canoe.

This is how morning breaks in the North Fork

This is how morning breaks in the North Fork

And then the next morning it was bacon again, but this time Vinny upped the flavor profile, introducing us to his decadent Brown Sugar Bacon, which he says is a simplified adaptation of something he had elsewhere.

Vinny shows his style

Vinny shows his style

It is barely a recipe, more of a seasoning, but the results are salty-sweet, crispy and juicy and I will be doing it here at home this weekend.

How it looks going in...note the relative quantity of sugar (this is a recipe you eyeball more than measure)

How it looks going in…note the relative quantity of sugar (this is a recipe you eyeball more than measure)

I am hooked. Mind you, with hospitality like that, it’s a wonder Vinny and Carolyn ever get rid of us!

And voila! Special bacon....

And voila! Special bacon….

Vinny’s Brown Sugar Bacon

Rashers of thick-cut bacon, preferably smoked

light brown sugar (not dark brown, as it won’t crisp)

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay the desired number of strips of bacon flat on the paper. Sprinkle generously with sugar. Place in the oven and cook for about 10 minutes or until you start to smell that bacony smell. Turn and cook another ten minutes or until you reach the desired crispness. Serve with whatever breakfast food you like!

KID IN THE KITCHEN: Banana Nut Maple Mini-Muffins (Simplified)

6 Mar

(Don’t forget to vote for my Watermelon Mojito story for a #2015EDDY award for food and beverage writing. Vote daily till March 15. Thanks!)

Today was yet another snow day in a winter that has been the coldest in decades and during which we’ve been snowed on an awful lot. Most of us are well sick of the disruption and the winter coats and gloves and hats and the shoveling and the slush.

The bakers did very well!

The bakers did very well!

But there are small pleasures with unexpected days off…like sleeping in and — if your seven-year-old shuts up long enough to allow you to complete a thought or a blog post or pay a bill or anything for the love of God — finishing little tasks you wouldn’t have time for otherwise. And then there’s baking, because the best defense against the bad weather blues is a house that smells like sweet, warm, doughy things.

The muffins were not all exactly the same size, but that's part of the charm of home-made!

The muffins were not all exactly the same size, but that’s part of the charm of home-made!

So I decided to try a simpler version of our Banana Walnut Maple muffins with my little man and his friend from across the street after they’d been playing in the snow for a couple of hours (remember when you considered that kind of thing fun?) and I had actually completed one report.

Cute, no?

Cute, no?

It was a great success, both the making and the fragrant baking and the tasting, plus being able to send the neighbor home with muffins for her family and having muffins for the guy on the corner who cleared the driveway with his snow blower and for the sweet couple in their 90s across the street. Mini-muffins go so much farther than standard size muffins!

And we still have plenty left over for lunchboxes!

And we still have plenty left over for lunchboxes!

Banana Walnut Maple Mini Muffins II (simplified)

2 Cups all-purpose flour (or 1 Cup all-purpose and 1 Cup whole wheat)

1.5 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

4-5 overripe bananas

1 Cup light brown sugar

¾ Cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 large eggs

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

¼ Cup maple syrup

¾ Cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 375˚F and grease or line with cups 2 standard muffin tins (12 muffins) or 4 mini-muffin tins (48 muffins) plus be ready to do an additional six standard muffins. This makes a lot.

In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda and salt. In another, mash the bananas, then add the sugar and mix well with a fork. Add the melted butter, egg, vanilla and beat well. Fold in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in the nuts and maple syrup gently with a rubber spatula. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins to fill about halfway.

Bake 12 minutes for mini-muffins and 20 for standard muffins. Allow to cool for a minute before planning them on a rack to cool further or just serve warm. These store well in an airtight container for about three days and also freeze well. I take them out of the freezer and pop them into my son’s lunchbox frozen and they are good to go by snack time.

Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup

1 Mar

(Reminder to vote for my piece on Watermelon Mojitos for an #EDDYS2015 Award by clicking here! Vote daily until March 15!)

Here on Long Island we are having one of the coldest winters on record. Since you can’t reasonably spend the entire winter drinking hot toddies all day — as much as the idea appeals –, the second best, more sensible and certainly more sustainable response is soup.

Light winter lunch

Light winter lunch

Here is an easy-peasy soup recipe that is warming and light, inspired by my dear friend Deborah Rivera Pittorino’s matchless soups at her restaurant La Cuvee Seafood & Grille in the heart of Long Island’s North Fork wine country. She shares some her recipes on her blog, The Seasoned Fork, by the way.

This recipe adds a little nuttiness (nutty flavor, not crazy person nuttiness) by dry roasting the cauliflower for 10 minutes. This amount makes four appetizer servings or two meal-size bowls and reheats really well in the office microwave for lunch!

Office lunch

Office lunch

Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup

3 Cups cauliflower (stems and florets, trimmed)

1 Tbs olive oil

1 Tbs butter (salted or unsalted)

3 Cups leeks, white and pale green part, carefully cleaned and sliced into ¼ inch rounds

1 Qt veggie stock (if using store-bought, choose low sodium and season accordingly)

¼-1/2 Cup milk (optional)

1 tsp mild curry powder

salt & pepper to taste

On a baking sheet or in a baking pan roast cauliflower at 400˚F for about 10 minutes (I do it in my fancy, full-service Breville toaster oven) until getting browned at the edges.

In the meantime, heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy-bottomed soup pot at medium. When the foaming subsides, add the leeks. Stirring occasionally, allow the leeks to get very soft (5-10 minutes). Add the cauliflower, stir and cook a minute or two. Add the stock, bring to a boil, then add curry, lower heat, add milk and simmer for at least 30 minutes, until cauliflower is falling apart. Using an immersion blender or (in batches) a blender or food processor, blend until you reach the desired smoothness. Season to taste and serve, topped with a dollop of plain yogurt or croutons if you like.

 You might also like

17 More Warming Winter Soups!

 

KID in the KITCHEN: Wild (Center) Whole Wheat Pancakes

28 Feb

(Reminder: I am a FINALIST for an EDDY Award! You can vote for my Edible Long Island piece on Watermelon Mojitos  every day until March 15, 2015. As always, I deeply appreciate your support!) 

If you Google National Pancake Day, you will find a variety of dates, from September to Shrove Tuesday (before Lent) to this coming Tuesday, March 3, as declared by IHOP (International House of Pancakes). So I hereby declare that Natalia National Pancake Day shall be any day that I don’t have to be up at 5:30 a.m. and out by 7 for work and that my son wants to make them and I have the ingredients.

Yes, it is many degrees below zero and we are on a ski lift...am I smiling or grimacing?

Yes, it is many degrees below zero and we are on a ski lift…am I smiling or grimacing?

Those stars aligned during the recent winter break from school. We spent the first part of the break with dear friends Adriana and Micaela at Adriana’s sister and brother-in-law’s in the Lake Placid area (because it wasn’t cold enough downstate at -7ºF so we went for -27°F? Eek!). It was a terrific weekend of learning to ski and snowboard and snow shoe (and becoming almost casual about jumping the frozen battery of my car) and actually enjoying winter.

Barred owl at Wild Center (We literary folk thought it was the poetical "bard", but biology tends to be a bit more prosaic)

Barred owl at Wild Center (We literary folk thought it was the poetical “bard”, but biology tends to be a bit more prosaic)

But one day we decided to go to The Wild Center at Tupper Lake, a beautifully designed nature museum full of Adirondack flora and fauna that you could admire in the sunny and well-heated indoors. Funnily enough, they had recipe cards, one of which was for whole wheat pancakes, which the little man decided he wanted to make when we got home.

Independent!

Independent!

The original recipe was for 14 pancakes, so we halved most (not all) of the ingredients, keeping the cinnamon and vanilla at full-strength, and adding homemade cranberry-blueberry jam.

The original recipe card Nice, right?

The original recipe card Nice, right?

The little guy has really graduated to following a recipe, measuring and cooking on his own, except for the odd difficult pancake flip and one mild burn, so that was very cool.

Proud!

Proud!

We really liked the almost cake-like lift that the baking powder gave them. Not too sweet and very cinnamon-y, these were pancakes we will be making again and again.

Hungry!

Hungry!

Whole Wheat Pancakes (adapted from The Wild Center, Tupper Lake, NY)

Makes 9 pancakes

1 Cup whole wheat flour

2 ¼ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp sugar

1 large egg

1 Cup milk

1.5 tsp vanilla

(optional 1-2 Tbs of smushed berries or berry jam)

butter for cooking

Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add wet ingredients and mix until there are no dry spots, then stop right away. You can swirl in a couple of tablespoons of berries or jam at this point, or do it after you’ve made some plain ones, then add the berries to change things up.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and melt a knob of butter. When the foaming subsides, spoon batter into skillet ¼ Cup at a time, leaving plenty of room for each pancake. The surface will start bubbling. When the bubbling settles and the edges look set, it’s safe to flip. Cook till the edges set again, remove and stack on a warm plate and start another batch, adding butter to the skillet as needed.

 

 

KID IN THE KITCHEN: Tembleque (Tropical Coconut Pudding)

7 Feb

We spent the better part of last summer in Puerto Rico, and among the tasty things that my little guy fell in love with was tembleque, a jiggly (temblar means to tremble) dessert that falls somewhere between pudding and flan. I promised him we’d make it back in New York, and this weekend, for a dinner with some dear Nassau Community College colleagues with whom I serve on the Latin American Studies Committee, I delivered.

2015-02-05 21.03.20 temblequeWho knew it was so, so easy to make that my seven-year-old could do it almost completely on his own? All I had to do was pour the hot mixture into the mold. I adapted a recipe from Cocine a Gusto (University of Puerto Rico Press), which is one of my go-tos for traditional Puerto Rican recipes.

2015-02-05 21.27.57 temblequeIn future we will make it with homemade coconut milk (all you have to do is pour hot water over coconut flakes and strain, but more on that next time), but in the interests of expediency (I also made pollo guisado, black beans and pink beans from scratch, and yuca salad, so I had my hands full) I just used canned.

Next time you want a fun dessert that takes your tastebuds to the tropics, tembleque is the ticket!

2015-02-06 19.21.31 temblequeTembleque

2 14 oz. cans coconut milk

½ Cup corn starch

½ Cup sugar

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

Powdered cinnamon

Place coconut milk, corn starch, sugar and salt in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil at medium high, stirring constantly until mixture begins to thicken. Add vanilla, stir and pour the mix into a slightly moistened mold (a smooth pie tin for one, or six ramekins for individual servings). Chill for at least three hours or at most 48. Turn tembleque out of mold(s), sprinkle with cinnamon and serve.

17 Easy Soups to Warm Your Winter (Vegan Soups included)

9 Jan

We all love soup in my house. And when it is bitterly cold outside, there is nothing better to warm your insides than a hearty winter soup.

Here is a collection of favorites that are easy to put together and delicious both on the day or warmed up the next day at the office. Many are vegan. I like to make a vegan base in one pot, then separate the appropriate portions, adding  something meaty for the unrepentant carnivores.

Bon appetit! Stay warm, my friends.

1. Andouille, Kale and Sausage Soup

Aye me hearties...

Aye me hearties…

2. Canellini and Chard Soup (Vegetarian or with bacon)

Hearty, Dense, Soul-Satisfying (and great re-heated!)

Hearty, Dense, Soul-Satisfying (and great re-heated!)

3. Escarole Soup (vegan with drop-in meatball option for carnivores)

The veggie version

The veggie version

4. Lentil Soup (The one I make most often, especially in bitter cold weather! So textured and complex and hearty and cozy!)

2012 January office, cranmuffins 023

The secrets to a great lentil soup!

 

5. Silky Leek and Potato Soup (butter yes, cream no)

I dot a bit of nonfat plain yogurt for fun!

I dot a bit of nonfat plain yogurt for fun!

 6. Bok Choy, Carrot and Ginger Soup (vegan)

I find this bok choy soup kind of pretty!

I find this bok choy soup kind of pretty!

7. Caldo Verde (Portuguese Sausage and Greens Soup)

A delicious soup for a cool day when you want a soup that warms but doesn't overstuff you

A delicious soup for a cool day when you want a soup that warms but doesn’t overstuff you

8. Three Step Vegan Vegetable Soup (with non-vegan tortellini add-ons to please everyone’s food quirks!)

A grating of parmigiano reggiano or grana padano finishes this soup admirably. Vegans can try nutritional yeast!

A grating of parmigiano reggiano or grana padano finishes this soup admirably. Vegans can try nutritional yeast!

Read on for nine more recipes!

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: