This Monday's Soup: Caldo Gallego

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Another Monday, another soup. This week the husband went online for his recipe and made a Spanish soup, caldo gallego courtesy of Mr. Emeril Lagasse. Apparently, he slaved over it for three hours (I'm not really sure how or why), but he kept bringing up his three-hour ordeal all throughout dinner, and even after dinner. Our friend and I listened to the three-hour soup mention several times, then ignored him.

The soup was very good. Probably his best yet. Hearty, meaty, yet not too heavy. We each put away two bowls.

Along with our soup, we had homemade sourdough bread, goat Brie, and olives. A nice, simple meal.
Caldo Gallego
Recipe from Emeril Lagasse (unaltered)
1 tablespoon Spanish olive oil
1 smoked ham hock, skin scored
1 yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
3 teaspoons salt, or to taste, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sweet Spanish paprika
1 1/2 cups dried white beans, such as navy, rinsed and soaked in cold water overnight
1 pound potatoes, peeled and large-diced
1 pound turnip tops, rinsed well and coarsely chopped (substitute spring or savoy cabbage if you cannot find turnip greens)
1/2 pound Spanish chorizo, thinly sliced crosswise

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and add the ham hock, onions, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until slits of ham hock have begun to open and vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, bay leaf, 1 teaspoon of the salt, pepper, to taste, and paprika and cook for 1 minute longer. Add 9 cups of water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 1 hour. Drain the white beans and add them to the pot. Return to a simmer and continue to cook at a simmer until beans are just beginning to get tender, about 1 hour longer. Remove the ham hock and, when cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the hock and shred into bite size pieces. (Discard skin and bones.) Return the meat to the pot along with the remaining salt (or to taste), potatoes, turnip greens, and chorizo and continue to cook until beans have broken down slightly, potatoes and greens are very tender, about 1 hour longer. Remove the bay leaf and serve hot.

Note: you may have to add a bit more water if the soup gets too thick during the lengthy cooking time.


Oven Baked Sandwich with Ham, Cheese and Pimiento

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For a quick Sunday lunch, I repeated a dinner from earlier in the week. Except this time I also added some mustard and a roasted red pimiento pepper. It was tasty, and filling, and pretty.

South Indian Feast

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On Saturday, we visited my husband's friend, who (with help from his mother) cooked for us an authentic South Indian meal. Now you might be looking at the above photos and thinking, where is the Indian food? Well, I pulled out my camera after most of the food was eaten. You can't alway expect this blog to come first, sometimes, often, my hungry stomach cuts in line.

The meal consisted of a shrimp curry, a chicken curry (my favorite), rice, yogurt with cucumbers, cassava (a new favorite), cabbage salad, rice, delicious banana chips, and of course everyone's favorite samosas to start. And we ended with cheesecake and fresh strawberries (pictured above). Not traditional Indian dessert, but delicous all the same.

Oh, and the snake just added to the atmosphere, and frightened the husband.

Scallops over Salad Greens with Mustard Dressing

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Yes, I'm still eating salads. And in order to make them more appetizing, I'm topping them with delicious seafood and homemade dressings.

Here I used butter lettuce and watercress, red bell peppers and a mustard dressing. I sauteed the scallops in butter for a few minutes a side, and that was it!

Mustard Dressing
1 small shallot, chopped finely
1 or so tbsp of fancy mustard (I used tarragon mustard)
champagne vinegar
lemon juice
salt and pepper
dried savory

Everything is added to taste. Mix well and enjoy.


Roasted Vegetables: Make Now, Eat Later

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Last night, I roasted vegetables in order to take to work for lunch for the next couple of days. I used cauliflower (which was on sale at the store), broccoli, and Italian squash. I cut everything into bite size pieces, drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and roasted in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes.
I let the vegetables cool, then put them away in little containers. Today I enjoyed some for lunch. And they were tasty.

Oven-Baked Ham and Cheese Sandwiches, and salad

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A while back, we were watching Jacques Pepin's Fast Food My Way on PBS. And we saw him make these fancy grilled cheese sandwiches but in the oven. He then cut the crust off, cut them into bite-size pieces, stuck a toothpick in each one and served them at a dinner party. I was impressed. I filed that recipe away in my memory, and pulled it out for last night's dinner. Although I love the crust, so that stayed, and there were no toothpicks involved.

On the side we had a healthy salad of butter lettuce, clover sprouts, watercress from our garden, tomatoes and bell peppers.

Oven Baked Sandwiches
serves 1
2 slices of rye bread or any other bread you like
1 slice or more of a nice ham
2 slices of provolone cheese
butter to taste

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toast bread in a toaster just a bit, so it's easier to spread butter on it.
2) Butter 1 side of each slice, these will be your outter sides.
3) Layer bread with cheese, ham, and cheese.
4) Bake for about 7-10 minutes. Flip half-way through.

Joshua Tree Weekend: Nice Scenery, Mediocre Food

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Oh Joshua Tree. I really like the place. And by place I mean the actual Joshua Tree National Park. Because there's really nothing going on in the town of Joshua Tree.

Last year when we went, we rented a really neat bungalow, with a little kitchen, and cooked all our meals. This year we stayed at a hippie retreat center, with no kitchen, so we had to eat out. And let me tell you, the options for desert dining are limited.

First, we had a very mediocre dinner at the 29 Palms Inn. We were so unimpressed, we decided to skip dessert and headed to Rite Aid for ice cream. The second evening we ate a fairly decent, but spicy Thai dinner. But the highlight was really our breakfasts at The Country Kitchen. The first day there, breakfast was delivered to me in bed by the husband, who is crazy enough to wake up early, run several miles in the desert and then go out and bring back breakfast.

I had lots of bacon, blueberry pancakes and some potatoes. The next day, we decided to stop there on the way out of town.
I loved the blueberry pancakes so much, I got them again, with an egg, sausage and bacon. The husband ordered corned beef and hash. I'm not sure what that beef was made out of, but it was pretty gross. With plenty of food between us, we just pushed it aside and ignored it.

On our way home, the husband also decided we were going to visit the town of Julian. Why? I'm not sure. Apparently his family went there when he was about 7, he doesn't recall getting out of the car, and obviously had some unresolved issues with the place. So we went. Driving way out of our way, through the horrid Salton Sea area, and some other unimpressive Southern California landscapes.
I had never explored that part of California, and driving through made me realize why. There's not much going on there. We knew we were going to be disappointed with the town of Julian, but we didn't realize it was going to depress us. It was like Disneyland or rather Solvang, but with less class and less to do.

We arrived hungry, and stopped at Buffalo Bills for some buffalo burgers. They were decent.
We ate quickly, got a slice of apple pie (they are know for their apple pies there) and got the hell out. Fast.


Tofu with Bok Choy and Sprouts

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Can I possible eat anything healthier than this? I don't think so. It's not possible.

The surprising thing was this dinner really filled me up. And there were plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day.

Cooking for just myself, I decided on a quick, meat-less meal, and I liked it so much I might do this regularly. By regularly I mean twice a month. That's kind of regular, right?

Tofu with Bok Choy and Sprouts
Serves two
1 package of firm tofu (19 oz), cut into good size rectangles
1lb or so of baby bok choy
1 1/2 cups of bean spouts
2 garlic cloves, sliced
tamari soy sauce
oyster sauce
hoisin sauce
grape seed oil

1) Heat two pans, coat with oil. In one, pan fry the tofu on all side.
2) In the second pan, add garlic and bok choy. Saute for a couple of minutes on medium heat. Then add the three sauces to taste, cover and steam on a lower heat for 5 minutes. Add sprouts, and cook uncovered for a couple of more minutes.
3) Taste, and add more of any (or all) of the above sauces to taste. Or not.
4) Plate tofu and top with vegetables and sauce.

Another Monday Soup: Carrot and Cannellini

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The Ladle, Leaf, & Loaf book has gotten a lot of action recently. This past Monday, the husband asked me to pick a soup, and he would make it. I went for the Carrot and Cannellini Soup with Cumin and Black Pepper Yogurt Cheese. I was mostly after this yogurt cheese. What is yogurt cheese? I had to have it.

It turns out, yogurt cheese is just nonfat yogurt that's been drained of its whey for about 5 hours in the fridge (you reduce the volume by half). But more importantly, yogurt cheese is delicious.

Cumin and Black Pepper Yogurt Cheese
1 cup yogurt cheese
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tbsp minced fresh chives
pinch of turmeric
pinch of kosher salt
ground black pepper

Carrot and Cannellini Soup
1 cup dried cannellini beans, sorted and rinsed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove (use more!)
2 1/2 cups grated carrots (2 large)
6 cups vegetable broth
1 large bay leaf (use 2)
1 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
black pepper

1) Cover the beans with water, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside to soak for 4 hours.
2) Heat oil in a soup pot, add garlic and onion. Cook vegetables on low heat for 3-4 minutes. Stir in carrots. Cook for 4 more minutes.
3) Drain the beans and add them to pot. Stir in broth, bay leaf and seasoning. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and cook for about an 1 1/2 hours, or until beans are tender.
4) Remove bay leaf and serve with yogurt cheese.

Well, I'm really not into chunky onions. Not at all. Once I saw those, I knew I had to destroy them with my handy immersion blender. So I pureed the soup. And then I ate it.


Fish Tacos and Refried Beans

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At last this post is up. Although this was a quick weeknight meal, except for the beans, it took me some time to look through the photos and get my act together.

I made fish tacos, with real fish, for our last oyster party. With tortillas and cabbage left over, I decided it was time to finally use the frozen fish fillets that have been sitting in my freezer for a couple of months.
As soon as I got home, I got started on the beans. I used Peruvian beans, a few cloves of garlic, peppercorns, a bay leave, and lots of water. They cooked for about 2 or so hours. Then I added some Mexican cheese, salt, and mashed them up.
While my beans were cooking, I prepared my two sauces. I made a whole bunch of the red one to use throughout the week.

Sure these weren't as good as the Red Snapper tacos from the previous weekend, but they weren't too bad to a lazy weeknight meal.


Potatoes with Vegetables for Dinner and Breakfast

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The other night, the husband was sick, and I was tired after the gym. So I decided on a quick potato dish for dinner. But I forgot that potatoes don't cook to quickly. So after about 40 minutes, I finally sat down on the couch with a beer in one hand, and my plate of potatoes in another, to watch an episode of No Reservations.
This dish was really good for breakfast the next day as well. It might have been even better since all I had to do was pop it in the microwave for a couple of minutes.

I used asparagus and a green bell pepper, but you can add anything you've got on hand.

Potatoes with Vegetables
3 medium red potatoes, first microwaved for 5 minutes, then cut into cubes
1/2 white onion
1 lb asparagus (I probably had a little less than a pound), trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 green bell pepper, cut into squares
2 garlic cloves, sliced
olive oil
salt and pepper

1) Heat up your pan, add olive oil, and saute onions for about 6 minutes or so. I like mine almost caramalized.
2) Add potatoes and garlic. Cook into potatoes start to get crispy. Flip potatoes. Season.
3) Add vegetables and keep cooking for another 5 minutes or so.
4) Add about a 1/2 cup of water, cover and cook.
5) Remove cover, let water evaporate and make sure the potatoes are cooked through.
6) Adjust seasoning if necessary. And eat.


Sourdough Pancakes

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You might have noticed by now that I'm not into baking, or making breakfasts. But I do like to eat baked good, and breakfasts. And my husband is so good at making breakfast that I really just don't want to rob him of the satisfaction of cooking in the mornings, while I slumber and curse him for making too much noise in the kitchen.

Last Sunday the husband made me sourdough pancakes from The Pioneer Woman Cooks. My friend got me this book for Christmas. And I'm not exactly sure why. We had conversations about this cookbook previously, but we both seemed to agree the recipes lacked a certain something. In my friend's words, her food is for white people. But then comes Christmas, and I end up unwrapping the book. My theory is that my friend cannot seem to stay away from the popular. Amazon lists really impress her, along with NY Times articles. And I do recall her chatting away about how the book was number one on Amazon.

So I sat down and looked through the cookbook. There's a couple of things that jumped at me, and the pancake recipe was one of them. I grew up with savory pancakes, which we actually ate with sour cream on top of them. That's definitely a Russian thing. They try to sneak sour cream into everything. And pancakes that are too sweet just don't appeal to me. But these were near perfect. The texture was nice, the sour cream flavor was subtle, and the sweetness just right.

Now, I did not make this recipe, and I didn't necessarily want to type up pages of her step by step instructions, so here's the just. Enjoy.

Edna Mae’s Sour Cream Pancakes
1 cup sour cream
7 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/ 2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Maple syrup

1) Warm up your pan at a medium heat.

2) In a bowl combine sour cream with sifted dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking soda, & salt).
3) In separate bowl, whisk the eggs and vanilla together
4) Pour egg mixture into sour cream/flour mixture. Stir gently until all ingredients are mixed well.

5) Melt about a tablespoon of butter in your pan. Using a ladle pour about 1/4 cup of pancake batter onto the pan, making about a 4 inch in diameter pancake.


Oyster Gathering, take 2

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This past weekend we got together again, this time with more people, and more oysters. And by more, I mean 70. We couldn't fit them in our fridge, so we had to keep them on ice in a cooler on our patio. These were even better than the last. And of course everyone brought over a variety of beverages, so we had everything from Guinness, to wine, to cheladas, to classy Miller Light (in a can! thanks brother-in-law).
We also grilled fish and made tacos. We had cod and red snapper. I liked the red snapper best. Oh, and I even made refried beans. Recipes for these will appear later, as we had more tacos, and beans later on that week. I was able to document the process better, without six other people in my kitchen.

The Golden State: Burger for Lunch

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The other day, I had to drive out to the west side, and my friend, who works in the area suggested we have lunch. I was up for it. He asked, what do you want to eat? My reply, anything is fine, but I'm not feeling burgers. So where does he take me? The Golden State. It's what you get there, their burger.

I got the burger. With their delicious fancy cheddar, bacon, arrugula and other stuff. It was good. And I was glad my friend took me there, but I didn't say so. I did get a side of their fries with my burger and my friend went for the cole slaw, and he was not thrilled with it. So what I did say was, I told you so. And then I let him eat some of my fries, because I'm watching my weight. And that was the only reason.


Beef, Barley & Black Eye Pea Soup, with a side of Curried Chicken Salad

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Last week I decided to make a big pot of soup. And I almost succeeded. It wasn't as soupy as I had envisioned, but this is my blog, so I'm calling it soup.

I had several ingredients I wanted to use: barley, black eye peas, and some beef from my freezer. I combined all these in my dutch oven, along with some finely chopped onion, garlic, curry powder, salt, pepper and beef stock. And out came a whole lot of deliciousness. Since there's no real recipe here, you can pretty much add any other ingredient you might want our of your pantry/freezer. Just make sure you have plenty of liquid if you want to call this a soup.

I also tried a brand new recipe, a curried chicken salad, which I learned while running on the new and totally motivating treadmills that were purchased at my YMCA. These treadmills, with built in cable tv, have got me back to the gym, and are teaching me new recipes, gossip about celebrities, and house-purchasing tips. Although I didn't follow the recipe completely, below is the official one from Ina Garten. And my modifications are at the bottom.

Curried Chicken Salad
2002, Barefoot Contessa
3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good mayonnaise
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup mango chutney
3 tablespoons curry powder
1 cup medium-diced celery (2 large stalks)
1/4 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts (2 scallions)
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup whole roasted, salted cashews
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2) Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and dice the chicken into large bite-size pieces.

3) For the dressing, combine the mayonnaise, wine, chutney, curry powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until smooth.
4) Combine the chicken with enough dressing to moisten well. Add the celery, scallions, and raisins, and mix well. Refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend. Add the cashews and serve at room temperature.

KK's modifications:
- I hate cashews. So these were omitted.
- The husband didn't know what it meant to bake the chicken breasts. And I had no time to give him instructions on the phone at work. So he grilled them. Not bad. But, baked would have been better. Avoid grilling, or make sure whoever is helping with the dish knows how to bake some chicken.
- The above recipe makes a lot of dressing. A lot. I did probably 1/3 of it and it was plenty. So I suggest if you do follow the recipe as is, you add a little of the dressing at a time, and save the rest for other salads.

This was a really nice salad. Sweet and flavorful. And the husband loved it. This was a total surprise, even to him. But that Barefoot Contessa has some classy recipes. And I can't wait to see more of them while I run at the Y.