Archive | January, 2014

Sweet and Sour Halibut

28 Jan

Sweet & Sour FishI’ve had this recipe in my collection for almost 40 years, and finally — finally! — had a the time to make it and all the ingredients on hand, sort of.

I didn’t have halibut, so I used mahi-mahi, which worked fine. I didn’t have apricot nectar so I used pineapple juice. In fact, you will get about the right amount of juice by draining a can of pineapple chunks.

My dad is the one who gave me this recipe. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, he made several business trips abroad. On one United Airlines flight, maybe to Japan, he was served this dish, and they distributed the recipe to the passengers, printed on a sheet of nice, heavy paper. Those sure were the good old days of air travel – I bet he wasn’t even in Business Class!

The dish is kind of a bother to make, so I waited until I had company — my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter were visiting. (Of course my granddaughter’s immediate 3-year-old reaction, before even tasting it, was “I don’t like it!”) The dish was a hit! My daughter said it tasted like the sweet-and-sour fish we used to order in Chinese restaurants when she was a child.

A couple of hints: This recipe makes an enormous amount of sauce. You can easily halve it, or make it and save half the sauce to use another time, which is what I did. And I don’t have a deep-fryer, so I used a wok to cook the fish. I fried it in small batches, drained the fried cubes on paper towel and kept them warm till I was ready to serve.

Ingredients:

1 cup white vinegar
1 cup apricot nectar or pineapple juice
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ cup ketchup
2 tsp. cornstarch mixed with 2 tsp. water
2 cups pineapple chunks (1 can), drained
1 cup green or red pepper, cut in 1-inch pieces
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and cut into eighths
1½ lb. halibut (or other firm, white fish), cut into ¾-inch cubes
3 Tbs. cornstarch
3 Tbs. water
1 Tbs. soy sauce
Salt and pepper
Oil for frying

Directions:

Prepare the sauce by combining the vinegar, apricot nectar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and ketchup in a medium saucepan. Simmer 30 minutes. Thicken with 2 tsp. cornstarch blended with 1 tsp. water. Add the pineapple, pepper and tomatoes. Keep warm.

Mix 3 Tbs. cornstarch, 3 Tbs. water and the soy sauce to a paste. Dip the halibut cubes into this batter to coat lightly and deep fry in a wok or saucepan. Drain and place in a serving dish. Pour the sauce over.

Serve with rice.

Serves 6

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Moroccan Lentil Soup

21 Jan

Moroccan Lentil SoupI adapted this recipe from one given to me by my Hadassah friend Eva Lande, who got it from a friend who lives in France. The coriander and mint give it a little different flavor from standard lentil soup. It’s a good recipe for a cold winter day!

Ingredients:

1 tbs. vegetable oil
1 medium-large onion
8 cups water
1 package or cube vegetable stock
1 lb. brown lentils
1 can (15 – 16 oz.) chickpeas
1 can (14 – 15 oz.) crushed tomatoes
2 carrots, diced
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 potato (optional)
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped, or 2 Tbs. dried
1 – 2 tsp. ground coriander
1 Tbs. fresh mint or 1 tsp. dried
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In a Dutch oven heat the oil and sauté the onion until it is translucent. Add the water and vegetable stock powder and bring to the boil. Add remaining ingredients, return to the boil, cover and simmer for at least two hours.

To thicken the soup, you can mash it with a potato masher in the pot or blend a portion of it (in a blender or using an immersion blender) and return the blended portion to the pot with the unblended portion.

Serves 8 or more

 

World’s Easiest Meatballs

14 Jan

Sweet & Sour MeatballsMy granddaughter is coming for a visit — hooray! So I’m whipping up a batch of these sweet-and-sour meatballs. It has got to be one of the world’s easiest recipes, and it’s yummy. My kids loved it when they were little, and I’m hoping the next generation will too.

Ingredients:

1½ lb. lean ground beef
½ tsp. garlic powder
1 egg
1 bottle chili sauce
1 can whole cranberry sauce

Directions:

Combine the chili sauce and the cranberry sauce in a large saucepan and heat on a medium flame until the mixture simmers. While it is heating, mix the ground beef, garlic powder and egg. When the sauce is hot, make meatballs the size of walnuts and drop them into the simmering sauce. Stir gently so that all the meatballs are covered with sauce. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for about 45 minutes. Serve over rice or noodles.

Serves 6

Eggplant and Mushroom Polenta Bake

7 Jan

Eggplant Mushroom Polenta 2I love the Internet! I found myself with an aging eggplant and some aging mushrooms that had to be used quickly. So I googled “eggplant mushroom recipe” and found more than a dozen possibilities, including this one, originally posted by Amy Wisniewski on chow.com. It was described as an “Italian take on a vegetarian shepherd’s pie.” It’s a little time-consuming to make because there are a lot of steps, but it’s not difficult, and it’s delicious.

You can easily halve the recipe to serve 3 or 4. If you do that, you can use a smaller skillet, but for the first step, you may want to roast the eggplant on a baking sheet because a smaller skillet may not be big enough to hold the eggplant before it’s cooked. I made half the recipe. I roasted the eggplant in a 10-inch skillet before I realized it would be too large, then used an 8-inch skillet for the rest of the process, and it was perfect.

You can use regular cornmeal, like I did. If you don’t have fontina cheese, substitute Swiss, Monterrey jack or cheddar.

Half the recipe made four good sized servings. There are only two of us so we had leftovers, and it was good reheated too.

Eggplant and Mushroom PolentaIngredients:

3 Tbs. olive oil
1½ lb. Japanese eggplant, cut in large dice (I used a medium-sized regular eggplant for half the recipe)
1 lb. white or cremini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
⅓ cup dry red wine
Small onion, diced fine
1 tsp. dried oregano
¾ tsp. red pepper flakes (if you like extra zing, use a little more red pepper)
Kosher salt
5 medium cloves garlic, minced
½ cup green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1 (14-15 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup water
Freshly ground black pepper
3 cups water
2 cups milk
2 tsp. kosher salt
1½ cups polenta or coarsely ground cornmeal
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1½ oz.)
1½ cups grated fontina cheese (about 5 oz.) (I used Swiss cheese)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place a rack in the middle. Place a large, well-seasoned cast iron or enameled skillet in the oven while it is heating.

When the oven is hot, drizzle 1 Tbs. of oil into the skillet and let it heat for a few minutes. Add the eggplant and arrange in an even layer. Roast until tender and starting to brown, about 25 to 30 minutes, stirring once.

Remove the skillet from the oven to the cooktop. Transfer the eggplant to a large bowl and set aside.

Add 1 Tbs. oil to the skillet and place over high heat for a minute. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to the bowl with the eggplant.

Add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil to the skillet and heat for a minute. Add the onion, oregano and red pepper flakes and season with salt to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, another minute.

Add the olives, the reserved vegetables (along with any juice in the bowl), the tomatoes and water, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens slightly, about 20 minutes. As the stew cooks, start making the polenta.

Place 3 cups of water and the milk in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat and slowly pour in the polenta or cornmeal while whisking or stirring, until all the polenta is incorporated and there are no lumps.

Cook, stirring frequently, about 15 or 20 minutes, until the polenta pulls out from the sides of the pan and the grains have softened (if it gets too thick before it is soft, add a little hot water, ¼ cup at a time). Stir in the Parmesan cheese.

Heat the oven to broil; keep the rack in the middle.

Pour the polenta over the eggplant and mushroom mixture and spread it into a smooth, even layer. Evenly sprinkle the fontina cheese over the polenta.

Place the skillet in the oven and broil until the cheese is browned and bubbling, about 4 or 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 6 to 8