Tag Archives: five minute recipe

myPod: Edamame (soybeans in pods)

8 May

A beloved bean

Boiling up a bag of edamame is even easier than making ice pops, so you could say this is something of a lame thing to post about, but I’ve really been meaning to share my appreciation for this useful food item for a while now. And today, Mother’s Day, when it happened to save this mom a lot of trouble over dinner, seemed like the right time.

At under $3 per bag of frozen (even organic!) edamames make for a reasonably priced appetizer or T.V. snack for two to four people. Soybeans are full of fiber and anti-oxidants and contain no animal fats (but do contain those all-important omega-3 oils). They are tasty and quick to get on the table, and shelled, can replace lima beans (which I hate) and peas (which I quite like) in many recipes.

But what I really love about them is how companionable they are. They remind me of an leisurely, chatty evening shelling pigeon peas around a hurricane lamp in the mountains of Dominican Republic when I was doing a little humanitarian work. They remind me of dining at an Asian restaurant in San Juan with my dear, departed friend, Frances Borden, in the early days of our friendship.  They are how my son and I might start a meal…popping beans right out of the pod and into our mouths (and laughing when the beans shoot across the room instead), or how we might sit around watching the news with my parents, the pile of full pods getting lower and the pile of empty pods getting higher. Farmer Steve got Leandro to try the fresh garden peas we were picking at our C.S.A. last year, because they look like edamame pods.

So get a bag and keep it in the fridge for the next time you don’t know what to do for dinner and need to buy some time, or you want something more virtuous than chips to accompany your favorite show or a movie night.

Boil up a quart or so of water and add 1 lb. frozen edamame in the pods. When the water returns to the boil, cook for three minutes, drain and serve.

Leftover beans can be added to salads (including rice and pasta salads), stir-fries and soups.


5-minute Meatless Chorizo Quesadilla? Try this!

7 Apr

 My book club has reunited after a winter hiatus. Our first get-back-together was at mine after work and while I wanted to put on a nice spread for these women I adore, I also didn’t want to work too hard. I remembered a puff pastry snack I learned from a Spanish friend, Rosa Cassano. The combination of smoked mozzarella and sundried tomatoes in a melty package tasted astonishingly like Spanish chorizo with pimentón. I didn’t have time for puff pastry, but I figured I could melt them together in a flash on the stovetop in flour tortillas. It worked deliciously as a finger food, as the smoked mozzarella firms up very well after melting. And there truly is no meat in them, though no one will believe you…

 ¡Sabroso! ¡Olé! 

Sundried Tomato and Smoked Mozzarella Quesadillas

Four 8-inch flour tortillas

8 oz smoked mozzarella cheese sliced thin

4 oz sundried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

Spritz of olive oil or cooking oil spray.

Heat a small amount of oil in an 8-inch nonstick skillet. Place a tortilla in the skillet. Cover half the tortilla with a layer of cheese and a generous sprinkling of tomatoes, leaving a bit of a margin at the edge. Fold the empty half over, press down and heat through, turning several times during cooking. When the tortilla is just turning golden and stiffening, it’s done. Repeat with remaining tortillas and allow to cool just enough for the melted cheese to firm up for cutting into triangles. Serve with guacamole/salsa/sour cream.

Greta Garbanzo (chick pea and ginger salad – keeps in the fridge!)

14 Mar

Saucy! Gingery! Healthy!

I try to make one of my daily meals a salad and I have to admit, I’ve been in a not unpleasant but not particularly exciting rut: nice lettuce, grape tomatoes (if I have the heart to buy tomatoes out of season) and cucumbers with one of those dressing mixes you make in a cruet that my mom got me addicted to and I am only somewhat ashamed to admit to. I might add some cheese, some walnuts and cranberries, red onion, but don’t really vary it much. Sometimes I make the major move of opening a can of chick peas (we call them garbanzos in Spanish) and add some.

The other day though, I remembered how easy it is to make garbanzo salad and how long it lasts in the fridge getting tastier and tastier. A scoop of this salad (a slight variation on Molly Katzen’s version in The Moosewood Cookbook) adds spice, texture and protein to an otherwise boring salad (and eliminates the need for dressing). I also take it to BBQs and other potluck affairs where I know there will be plates and forks. It is also really nice mixed with rice and eaten cold.

I named my version for Greta Garbo because the name lends itself rather obviously, but also because it is distinctive, has a subtle and intriguing spiciness, has ginger (for her ginger hair) and because no one can ever leave it alone.

Greta Garbanzo (chick pea and ginger salad)

2 15 oz cans chick peas (aka  garbanzos or ceci) rinsed and drained

2 Tbs finely grated fresh ginger root (more if you like!)

½ cup red onion, minced fine

3-4 cloves garlic, minced fine (I tend to use more)

Salt to taste (you might not need it if the garbanzos are salty)

Pinch of cumin (optional)

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbs red wine vinegar (cider vinegar subs in just fine. Reduce amount if using regular white vinegar)

¼ cup lemon juice (about half a juicy lemon’s worth)

Place chick peas, ginger, and red onion in a medium bowl or plastic storage bowl with a cover. In a small bowl mix the oil, vinegar and lemon juice with a whisk or a fork until emulsified (blended together). Pour dressing over chickpea mix and stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate.  It’s best made at least a day ahead, but you can also make it on the fly and it will be delicious. Gets better and better over the next week.

Feta-ccompli: Feta-Walnut Spread

13 Feb

The whole Super Bowl thing has got me thinking about creative solutions for portable party food that doesn’t bore, travels well without dripping onto your car seat or collapsing en route and isn’t unwieldy if you take public transport. It should look nice – presentation counts for a lot. If you are not sure whether the crowd is primarily vegetarian, a meatless dish can be a very thoughtful additon to a party buffet. And of course, you want it to be simple and easy.

Enter Feta Walnut Spread. I made it in a few minutes with the help of my food processor, ably pulsed by my three year old (DISCLAIMER: My son is a good eater, but please don’t think he’ll eat everything I make or that you see on this blog. He refused to try this spread, even though he participated in the making and really likes feta cheese in other dishes. Can’t win ’em all ).

We took it to a Valentine’s playdate-party for my Single Moms By Choice group this weekend. I can’t say it won everyone over, but I liked it a whole lot with the vegetable sticks I cut up. I think next time I will pair it with toasted pita chips (they won’t compete as much with the flavor of the spread) and I think that the leftovers will make an excellent alternative to mayo on chicken or vegetable sandwiches.

The original inspiration comes from Molly Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook, which I had to buy again after my well-worn original fell prey to a hurricane-related flood in Puerto Rico years ago, and which I was delighted to find still had all the recipes written by hand.

Feta-Walnut Spread

1 Cup chopped walnuts

½ packed Cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

½ cup water

Three cloves garlic, peeled and chunked (less or none if you are not a garlic fan)

1 tsp lemon juice

(garnish – hot red pepper flakes, dried oregano, olive oil)

Pulse the walnuts and parsley in a food processor until blended. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the garnish) and puree until smooth. Transfer to serving bowl and cover tightly. Place in fridge to chill. Before serving, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with oregano and red pepper flakes. Serve with toasted pita chips or as a dip for crudité.

Oh. My. Cod. Fresh Filets with Onions and Capers

20 Jan

As a Caribbean person, I often forget the existence of fresh cod.

In my world, cod is called bacalao, usually comes in salt-crusted bricks or paddles, much as it was when it arrived in the New World, masterminded by intrepid Basques and other seafaring peoples, to make an important (and tasty) protein source last and last and last. It has to be soaked for ages with many changes of water and, if you don’t like fishy-fish, you are probably not going to like bacalao.

I promise that I will get to the fresh (non-fishy, non-salty) version in a second and give you a killer recipe that is all flair and no hard work and can be used with any firm-fleshed white fish, but  indulge me for a moment as I take my tastebuds for a saunter down a Puerto Rican Cuisine Memory Lane.

Think batter-fried bacalaitos (best-eaten from a battered pot full of dubious grease bubbling over coals at a palm-roofed beachfront kiosk marshalled by an old lady in rollers and washed down with an ice-cold Medalla beer), or shredded into rice (arroz con bacalao) for the holidays, or dressed with vinaigrette and served with boiled tubers (serenata) on a Lenten Friday, or in a reddish sauce with hard-boiled eggs (bacalao a la vizcaína) any old time.

I am dabbing nostalgic tears from my eyes and nostalgic water from the corners of my mouth right now, overwhelmed by food memory.

Fortunately, my present latitude offers some solace.

As a Caribbean person adapting to living in the cruel Northeastern winter, frozen fish has taken the place of salted fish (and fresh too, to be honest). And so, I recently discovered the wonder of some vacuum-packed slablets of frozen fresh cod (a phrase which only makes sense in contextual comparison to salted fish) at, you guessed it, Costco Warehouse. As it is “Wild Alaskan”, it is also a good choice from a non-polluted environment and in terms of sustainability (visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch site if you are concerned about that sort of thing http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/sfw_recommendations.aspx). I sauteed a couple experimentally just for me and the result was a quick yet good-looking plate of big flakes of fish just sliding apart and yet another way to incorporate capers into a dish.

This one I would definitely serve on date night.

Sauteed Fresh Cod Dressed with Onions and Capers

(tilapia or any firm white fish would work well here)

1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbs butter

2 small slabs fresh cod filet (5-8 oz each)

Salt and pepper

½ medium onion, peeled and sliced thin

1-2 tsp capers, mostly drained

Heat oil and butter together in a heavy skillet at relatively high heat.

Using about ¼ tsp salt, sprinkle fish on all sides. Do the same with the pepper, preferably fresh cracked.

When the foaming of the butter subsides, cook fish on each side at high heat until just white. Then lower heat and cook on each side from 4-6 minutes each (I prefer my fish somewhat undercooked; if you are just learning to cook fish, simply use a fork or knife in the center to check for done-ness: no more translucence).

Remove cod and set on a plate (preferably warm). In the same skillet, sauté the onions in the oil and butter at medium high until wilted and somewhat tender. Add the capers to warm them up. Then spoon the onions and capers over the fish and serve.

This fish would be great over wilted greens, polenta or couscous or with Snap and Go Asparagus. I ate my second slice cold over salad and it was yummy!

Three common ingredients = one uncommonly good pasta sauce, FAST

5 Jan

So we spent another evening in the emergency room and Leandro got another four stitches, this time in the forehead. With that kind of excitement going on, you can be sure that once the chocolate ice cream dinner for brave boys was up, I was STILL going to be too tired for anything elaborate in the kitchen.

Marcella Hazan to the rescue. This queen of the kitchen’s Essentials of Italian Cuisine is a much loved and much soiled recipe book over here. These days I don’t have the resources for some of the more ambitious dishes, but her tomato sauce with onion and butter is simple and perfect: three ingredients resulting in one glorious, sweet, rich sauce that you barely have to stir!

I have adapted it slightly to make it even faster (puree, rather than whole tomatoes, adjusted the butter, for example). The beauty of this one is that it can be done in the time it takes you to boil up the pasta.

Marcella recommends potato gnocchi under the sauce, but the pre-prepared ones are generally yucky and I ain’t making gnocchi myself any time soon (oh for the heavenly days that Fabiola made it for me in Rovereto!).

These days I buy fresh ravioli from Fairway Market (no preservatives and a variety of fillings – $6 for 24) and actually freeze it. It breaks off into convenient serving sizes and takes about 15 minutes to cook after you drop them in the boiling water and the boil comes back. They re-heat pretty nicely, so I make extra for my little guy’s lunch box, just adding a dab of butter to the hot ravioli so it doesn’t stick.

I used cheese ravioli this time. “Mama I really love this!”


Steamed broccoli can be dipped in the sauce

Tomato with Onion and Butter

28 oz. can tomato puree

6 Tbs butter

One onion, peeled and cut in half (I prefer red onion for extra sweetness, but use whatever you have; yellow is fine)

Cook all three ingredients together in a deep pot with a lid at medium to low heat until the fat begins to separate from the tomato (about 20 minutes, or the amount of time you spend boiling the pasta). The longer you cook it, the sweeter it gets, so if you have more time, use it!

Spoon over your favorite pasta and serve with loads of good grated cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano or Gran Padano)

Breakfast at Tiffa..no, at 65mph

28 Nov

In a perfect world we would sit together over a lovely meal of toast and fruit and yogurt, maybe eggs, smoked salmon, cheese. But no.

My less-than-perfect world is manageable in part because I concede to my son having breakfast in the car at 6:45 a.m. (well, more like 7, cause I am always running later than I mean to) on the way to daycare and work.

The result is less-than-satisfying (not least because my car is a bio-hazard and we should be wearing hazmat suits while in it), but he eats and I get to listen to the news in relative peace.

I know that cereal bars are considered a fair option in many circles, but have you read the labels? High fructose corn syrup, sugar, dextrose…might as well hand him the Chips Ahoy. And he’ll get cereal bars at school anyway, about which I just shut my mouth.

He might have buttered toast (I buy fresh-baked multi-grain at the Fairway – they slice it and I freeze it; or one of those sprouted grain loaves that actually come frozen), but I also have another trick – we call them mini-pizzas (marketing is everything).

Here’s what I do:

Portable Mini-Pizzas

3-4 Wasa Crisp and Light crackers

slices of cheddar or Monterey jack

Top the crackers with the sliced cheese. Bung into the microwave for 13-15 seconds. Slice into squares. Put in a plastic thingy and serve once we are strapped in the car.

NOTE: Usually he eats the slightly melty cheese and hands the crackers to me on the Southern State during Morning Edition. He’s got a juice and water mixed drink and grapes (when I am not paranoid about sudden choking on the parkway) or a peeled apple. It ain’t the I-Hop, but I won’t pay their prices anyway.

Fabulous Five-Minute Black Beans

24 Nov

A rocking go-to recipe, with Latin flair and yes, a short-cut. I admit it; I use a stock cube in this one. So sue me.


These beans are as fast as anything I make….and really tasty

1/2 Tbs olive oil

One small onion, chopped

(optional – chopped red or green pepper; if I have end bits that need to be used, I chop ’em up and put them in too)

one 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained

half a chicken bouillion cube (the whole thing, if the beans are low sodium)

Heat oil in a small pot on medium high. Add onions, stir, then lower heat to allow to soften. Add beans, 1/4 can water and stock cube and simmer up until the rice is ready. Serve over rice. Or roll up in your favorite wrap with some cheese.

Yup, that simple. We have it as a meal or a side here. And I find that, mixed with rice, it reheats wonderfully for our packed lunches…

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