Eggplant Pasta Sauce

21 Oct

eggplant pasta sauce1If you’re of a certain age, you probably have a yellowing copy of Anna Thomas’s book The Vegetarian Epicure on your shelf.

We bought this book, published in 1972, soon after we were married when we were getting away from the old meat-and-potatoes meals and discovering fresh vegetables and all these years later we still enjoy some of the recipes.

This recipe makes a very tasty sauce. It’s easy and it makes a huge amount. You can freeze half of it unless you’re serving a large number of people. It will also keep nicely in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

I’ve altered the recipe a bit, mostly by cutting the original amount of oil and tomato paste by half.

I like to serve it with grated Parmesan cheese, but it’s good without cheese as well.

Ingredients:

½ cup olive oil
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced or put through a press
1 medium eggplant (about 1 lb.), washed but not peeled and chopped into small dice
2 green, red or yellow bell peppers, seeded and diced
½ to 3/4 cup sliced black olives
3 to 4 Tbs. capers
1 tsp. crushed oregano
½ tsp. crushed basil
salt to taste
lots of freshly ground black pepper
6 oz. tomato paste
2 cups white wine (more if needed)
Grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add the garlic and heat gently.

Add the peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, olives and capers, and stir well to coat the vegetables with oil.

Add the remaining ingredients, stir again and cover the pot. Lower the heat to a very small flame and allow the sauce to simmer gently for about 1 hour. Stir occasionally to keep it from sticking, and add more wine or water if it gets too thick.

Serve on your choice of hot pasta, topped with shredded Parmesan if you like.

Makes about 2 quarts

Sweet and Spicy Roast Chicken

15 Oct

Chicken-Sweet&Spicy

I clipped this recipe from the New York Times about a month ago and made it for one of the recent holiday dinners.

New York Times recipes are never what you’d call easy, but this one is complicated only because you need to measure out a lot of ingredients. Simplify your life by getting all the ingredients ready the day before you want to serve the dish, and marinate the chicken overnight. The actual cooking is very easy.

I used a little less salt than the recipe calls for since I use kosher chicken, which retains some residual salt from the kashering process.

I’m not sure if you really have to go to the trouble of blanching the lemon slices; seems to me you could just throw them in with the marinade, especially if you’re letting the dish sit overnight. This is what I will probably do next time I make it, but his time I followed the directions.

I doubled the recipe — didn’t seem worth the effort to make the dish for just the two of us, and we were having company for the holiday. I had to use two gallon-size Ziploc bags to marinate everything, but it was easy enough to put one chicken in each bag with half the marinade and half the carrots.

The next morning, turn the chicken over in the bowl, or give the Ziploc bag a little squeeze and turn it upside down a few times to make sure everything is getting marinated evenly.

The original recipe said the chicken would take 20 to 30 minutes for the breasts to brown and 30 to 40 minutes for the legs and wings, and suggested removing the pieces as they got done. I found the roasting took a little longer — and I know from experience that chicken will brown much more nicely if you baste it a few times while it’s roasting.

Instead of spooning the carrots over the chicken, I decided to serve them separately — mainly because I didn’t have a large enough serving plate! The carrots worked well as a side dish.

Ingredients:

1 lemon
3 Tbs. lemon juice
3 Tbs. orange juice
4 Tbs. olive oil
1½ tsp. whole-grain spicy mustard
3 Tbs. honey
2½ Tbs. kosher salt
1 bay leaf
½ to 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
Black pepper to taste
1 4-pound chicken, cut up
3 cups sliced carrots (¼-inch slices)
1 onion, halved and then thinly sliced
⅔ cup sliced dates
1 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tsp. dried thyme
¼ cup chopped cilantro or parsley, for garnish
2 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
¼ cup chopped toasted pistachios, for garnish

Directions:

Put a small pot of water on the stove to boil. Quarter the lemon lengthwise and remove any seeds. Thinkly slice crosswise into small wedges and add the lemon to the boiling water. Blanch for two minutes, then drain and cool.

In a saucepan, whisk together the lemon juice, orange juice, oil, mustard, honey, salt, bay leaf, red pepper flakes and black pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Cool.

Put the chicken into a large bowl or gallon-size Ziploc bag and add the cooled honey mixture. Add the carrots, onion, dates, thyme and lemon slices.

Turn the mixture several times to coat every piece of chicken. Marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature, but preferably overnight in the refrigerator.

Heat oven to 425 degrees (or 400 for convection). Transfer all ingredients, including marinade, to a large pan with a rim. The chicken should be skin-side-up in a single layer. Roast, basting a few times, until the chicken is browned and cooked through, about 45 minutes.

Remove the chicken and keep warm. Stir the carrots and continue roasting another 10 to 12 minutes.

Spoon the carrots over the chicken and top with the cilantro or parsley, sliced scallions and pistachios.

Serves 4 to 6

Bulgur Pilaf with Leeks, Currants and Pine Nuts

6 Oct

Bulgur pilaf with leeks, currants and pinenutsThis is a good recipe for a holiday meal — or anytime!

We went to Detroit’s Eastern Market on a recent Tuesday and got some beautiful leeks! If you’re not used to cooking with leeks, give them a try. They look like giant scallions and have a similar flavor, but milder.

Lop off the dark green tops, then slice each leek in half lengthwise so you can clean them easily. Run the pieces under running water while you carefully fan out the layers to rinse out any dirt and grit. Dry with a paper towel and lay each half flat to slice.

I wanted to double the recipe for a company meal and discovered I had only one cup of bulgur in my cupboard — and no time to shop. I had a package of “freekah,” another Middle Eastern cracked wheat product, so I used a cup of each. The freekah was delicious, but it imparted a slightly smoky flavor; using bulgur alone would make it a little more bland.

I didn’t have any currants so I used raisins.

This recipe was adapted from one that appeared in the Detroit Free Press, and which originally came from the American Medical Association Family Cookbook by Melanie Barnard and Brooke Dojny.

Ingredients:

2 Tbs. olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green part only – about 2 medium leeks)
2 cups vegetable broth
1¼ cups raw bulgur
¼ cup currants or raisins
2 Tbs. toasted pine nuts (you can get them pre-toasted at Trader Joe)
1 Tbs. lemon juice
Salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil. Add the leeks and 2 Tbs. of the broth and stir to combine. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the leeks soften and start to brown, about 8 minutes.

Add the remaining broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the bulgur, cover and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, add the currants or raisins, cover and let stand until the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. (If any liquid remains, drain it off.)

Stir the toasted pine nuts and lemon juice into the bulgur with a fork. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Serves 6 to 8

Applesauce Cake

30 Sep

Applesauce CakeMy first copy of The Joy of Cooking had a great recipe for applesauce cake – really a spice cake made with applesauce. When my first Joy fell apart from heavy use, I replaced it – but some of the content was different, and the applesauce cake was no longer included. When I had a large amount of applesauce to use up, I searched the Web and found this one, which looks similar.

Ingredients:

3 ½ cups cake flour
2 tsp. baking soda
½  teaspoon salt
3 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. allspice
2 tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. cloves
1 cup butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups applesauce

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a tube or bundt pan.

Sift together twice flour, soda, salt, and spices.

In a large bowl, cream butter or margarine. Add sugar gradually and cream well. Add beaten eggs; mix well.

Add flour mixture alternately with applesauce.

Pour into pan and bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes, on until a tester comes out clean. Allow to cool a little before removing from pan.

Serves 12 to 16

Koresh (Persian Chicken Stew)

23 Sep

Koresh 2I got this recipe from my daughter, who got it from her sister-in-law, who got it from a cookbook but I don’t know which one. The intro to the recipe says it’s a California version of a traditional Persian dish, a thick, saucy stew served with rice. In Iran the dish is usually made with lamb, which is hard to find kosher these days, so the California style is to make it with chicken.

The first time I made it I used chicken breast, which turned out to be a little too dry, so I recommend using thighs.

It’s a nice recipe for Sukkot, which we celebrate starting just over two weeks from now, because you need to bring just two serving dishes out to the sukkah, one for the stew and one for the rice.

Ingredients:

½ cup green split peas
3 – 4 Tbs. olive oil
1 large or two small onions, finely chopped
2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2¼ cups chicken stock
1 tsp. ground turmeric
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
2 small eggplants, diced (use one large one if you can find small ones)
8 to 10 ripe tomatoes or 2 14-oz. cans diced tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 Tbs. dried mint
Salt and black pepper to taste
Fresh mint for garnish
Rice for serving

Directions:

Put the split peas in a bowl, pour cold water over them to cover, and soak for about 4 hours. Drain well.

Heat a little of the oil in a pan, add two-thirds of the onions and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken and cook until golden brown on all sides.

Add the soaked split peas to the chicken, then the stock, turmeric, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook over medium-high heat for about 40 minutes until the split peas are tender.

Heat the remaining oil in a pan, add the eggplant and remaining onions, and cook until lightly browned. Add the tomatoes, garlic and mint, and season with salt and pepper.

Just before serving, stir the eggplant mixture into the split pea and chicken stew. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and serve with rice.

Serves 6 to 8

Maple Orange Glazed carrots

16 Sep

Maple-Orange Glazed CarrotsHere’s a nice and easy recipe for the holidays. It comes from http://www.simplyrecipes.com.

Ingredients:

1 lb. carrots, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch rounds — or use “baby” carrots
2 Tbs. unsalted butter or margarine
½ tsp. salt
¼ cup maple syrup
⅓ cup orange juice
½ tsp. orange zest
Pinch cinnamon
Parsley for garnish

Directions:

In a large, wide sauté pan, melt the butter or margarine on medium heat. Add the carrots and toss to coat. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, then add the maple syrup. Cook for a minute more, than add the orange juice. Cover the pan and cook for 3 minutes more.

Uncover the pan and increase the heat to medium high. Stir the carrots occasionally, and cook until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat.

Add cinnamon and orange zest and stir.

Spoon into a serving bowl and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Serves 4 to 6

Sweet Rice with Carrots and Nuts

9 Sep

Sweet rice with carrots and nutsIf you’re looking for something new for your Rosh Hashanah feast, consider this tasty dish.This comes from The New Persian Kitchen by Louisa Shafia. It’s the first recipe I made from the book.

The full recipe makes a lot of rice, so it can probably be halved if you’re serving just a few people.

Carrots are very traditional for Rosh Hashanah among Ashkenazi Jews (of Central European ancestry) because the Yiddish word for carrots, mehren,  sounds like mehr, the Yiddish word for more, and so it represents a wish for an increase in blessings in the coming year. And the honey, of course, represents a wish for a sweet year to come.

Ingredients:

2 cups white basmati rice, soaked in cold water for 1 hour
3 cups water
Sea salt
2 Tbs. butter or refined coconut oil, at room temperature
3 Tbs. refined coconut oil
1 yellow onion, finely diced
2 scant cups grated carrots (2 large or 3 medium)
½ cup slivered or coarsely chopped almonds, toasted
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cardamom
¼ tsp. ground turmeric
½ cup pistachios, coarsely chopped, plus 1 Tbs. for garnish
Grated zest of 1 orange (about 1 Tbs.)
¼ cup honey
½ tsp. saffron, ground and steeped in 1 Tbs. hot water

Directions:

Drain the rice and rinse under cold water until the water runs clear. In a large saucepan, combine the water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Add the rice, return to a boil, then turn down the heat to its lowest setting. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the rice rest for 5 minutes, then dot with the 2 Tbs. butter or coconut oil and fluff with a fork. The rice should be dry and fluffy.

While the rice cooks, heat a skillet over medium heat and sauté the onion in the 3 Tbs. coconut oil for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the carrots, almonds, cinnaomon, cardamom and turmeric, and cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes, until the carrots are tender.

Add ½ cup pistachios, the orange zest and the honey and cook for about 2 minutes, until heated through. Season with salt to taste.

Scoop the rice into a large bowl. Add the carrot mixture and drizzle in the saffron. Mix gently and season with more salt if needed. Garnish with the remaining pistachios.

Serves 12

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