Any Kitchen Will Do

Give me a kitchen and I will cook.

Rebellious Ratattouille

image

I think this is ratatouille but some people may find it lacking. What I love about it is the combination of flavors I get from the alternating, thinly sliced vegetables in a single bite. I like bell peppers in general, which are usually included in this dish, but I don’t like the taste and texture they add to the other veggies used here, so I left them out. Look at me being a ratattouille rebel. A neat thing about this recipe is it can be doubled and tripled easily by adding more sliced vegetables and a larger pan. It also makes for a lovely presentation in a serving dish or on your plate.
Rebellious Ratattouille
1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow squash
1 medium onion
3 large Roma tomatoes
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp dried oregano leaves
1 Tbsp dried parsley leaves
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
In a medium pot over medium heat add the canned tomatoes, garlic, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper. Simmer for about ten minutes, until heated through and bubbly. Remove from heat to let cool. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. While sauce simmers prepare the vegetables by slicing them thinly, less than 1/8 inch thick. Sprinkle slices with salt and pepper. Removing seeds from tomatoes is optional. Using a stand or stick blender purée the tomatoes ito a smooth sauce. In a loaf pan pour a thin layer of tomato sauce (you will probably have leftover sauce). Alternate the slices of zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes and onion, placing them in two long rows in the pan. Bake for 30 minutes, cover pan with foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Mediterranean Meatloaf

mediterranean meatloaf 2
I have shared a couple different meatloaf recipes with you in the past, like the spicy one and the veggie one, but never one wrapped in bacon! This one has a bit of a Greek twist, like my recent foray into stuffed mushrooms. I would blame other things, but the extreme moistness of this loaf I attribute to the bacon. It is great for the loaf protection. As with many baked meals, it tastes great the day it is made, but after sitting in the fridge and reheating, it is even better! I may even get all crazy next time I make this and serve a little tzatziki on the side!
Mediterranean Meatloaf
1 1/2 – 2 pounds ground beef
2 eggs
2 cups crumbled feta cheese
1 cup chopped raw spinach
1 cup chopped kalamata olives
1 cup chopped marinated artichoke hearts
1 cup finely chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp sea salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
8-10 slices bacon, uncooked
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl place the ground beef, making a lower section in the beef. Add the eggs, cheese, spinach, olives, artichoke hearts, onion, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. Using your hands, break up egg yolks and squish other bowl contents together with meat until well combined. Press meat mixture evenly into 9×9 inch baking dish or large loaf pan. Arrange bacon slices on top of the meat in a criss cross pattern, tucking the ends around the sides of the meat. Gently press down on the loaf to avoid any uneven shaping resulting from tucking the bacon. Bake in oven for one hour. Remove and let sit for about ten minutes before removing to serving dish, then serve.

Soft Boiled Eggs

image

I almost feel guilty making this a post, but decided that doing so from my mom’s kitchen was so very appropriate. When I was growing up my brother and I were taught cooking basics and how to eat basics. They included the typical topics, like the use of fork, knife, spoon and napkin. Little B’s current challenge is elbows on the table, but that is a different story altogether. In addition to the basics we were also taught more specific skills we used less often, but practice never hurts! Things like getting every bit of meat off bones of roast chicken with a fork and knife (no fingers allowed), escargot with shell fork and tongs, crab with mallets and picks, grapefruit halves with serrated spoons, rolling long pasta with spoons and separating mussels and clams from their shells (again, no fingers allowed). I promise we did not end up snooty, just knew how to mind our manners in pretty much any food situation. We also learned how to sop roast meat off a platter using bread chunks, double dipping chips, licking our fingers and nibbling while we cooked. I am sure my mom loooves this disclosure! It was always interesting to see what mom and dad would come up with next. A fun breakfast skill we learned quite young was how to eat a soft boiled egg from a cup. It sounds almost silly. Why not just peel it and eat from your hand, you ask? The practice is actually used in many parts of Europe. My dad learned it from his Irish father and both my parents ate them in this manner while living in France, Germany, etc. Most people probably don’t have the requisite egg cups or tiny spoons, but you can probably adapt. I was very happy to introduce such a breakfast to Little B during our most recent visit to Texas. She was more excited about opening the egg than eating it all, but that’s okay. I was always around to finish it up. You may not believe me, but eggs cooked and eaten like this taste different than using your hands or frying some up over easy. Maybe it is the gentle cooking of the yolk while protected by the white, but a spoonful with a little yolk, white, butter, salt and pepper is a wonderful way to start the day, and appreciate the humble egg.
Soft Boiled Eggs
Large fresh eggs (quantity varies)
Water
Salt
In a medium pot add water, enough to cover the eggs, and a sprinkling of salt. Bring water to a full boil. With a large spoon gently lower each egg into the boiling water. Lower heat slightly but maintain the boil, and cook for exactly six minutes. Remove eggs with large spoon to serving cups or serving bowl. Serve with salt, pepper, butter, breakfast meats and bread.
To Eat: place an egg in an egg cup, pointy side down. Some eggs may not have a pointy end, so just guess – typically the round end will have the yolk closer to it in a boiled egg (think where the filling goes in a deviled egg) so the next step will more likely reveal yolk. While gently steadying the egg with one hand and using a knife in the other, tap the egg about 1/4 inch from the top, turn the egg and continue tapping until there is a ring of cracked shell all the way around. Using the point of the knife pierce all the way through and lift the knife away from you, catching the egg top with your knife-free hand. There should be soft yolk showing. Place a small piece of butter into the yolk and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Using a small spoon scoop out a bite, making sure it includes white and yolk. Eat. Repeat. Don’t forget to scoop the yummy bite from the egg top!

Kelley’s Killer Stuffed Mushrooms

image
Have you ever felt like you are being watched? I did just the other day. I was sitting on my mom’s patio and suddenly felt like I was being observed, with the strong need to figure out what was doing it. No people. No pets. A few birds were out there, but they were busy with the feeders. In the end I decided it was the basil. Tall, healthy stalks rising out of a huge pot, with big, bright green leaves soaking up the morning sun. They were leaning slightly in my direction, so the little leaves at the very tips of the stalks worked like cyclop eyes…I decided the only way to rid myself of the paranoia was to use some basil. It wants me to, right? A functional plant that just happens to be pretty, too? I was sure mom’s well stocked fridge would reveal a wealth of ingredients to go with the stalking stalks. As you can see from the list of ingredients I was right. I called them Kelley’s Stuffed Mushrooms because Kelley likes all things Greek, and these have a leaning in the Greek direction, and they would be consumed at her house. Besides all that, she is one of the most awesome people on the planet. This is not my first Greek themed dish, but it is the first time I remember splitting kitchens when making a dish – prepared in one kitchen and cooked in another. These lovely ‘shrooms went stuffed but uncooked with us to a dinner party, and were baked in S&K’s kitchen right before serving. I do think transporting the broth separate from the dish was a good idea, though. Adding the little lime wedges helped add a bit of color, and squeezing a bit on right before enjoying them brought out the lovely flavors of the cheese and olives.
Kelley’s Killer Stuffed Mushrooms

12 baby Portabello mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
1/4 medium white onion, finely diced
12 kalamata olives, pitted and finely chopped
3 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
4 quarters marinated artichoke hearts, finely chopped
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
8-10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 tsp ground oregano
1/2 lime, juiced
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
Salt to taste
Lime, thinly cut into small slices (garnish)
Remove stems from mushrooms. With a small spoon scrape out brown gills from each mushroom cap, making more room for the stuffing. Finely chop the stems and scrapings. In a large skillet over medium high heat add the oil. When oil is hot add onion and garlic. Cook until soft. Before onions and garlic begins to brown add the chopped stems, olives, bacon, artichoke hearts, basil and oregano. Stir occasionally until stems are soft and combined with the other ingredients. Add feta to the pan and stir until it is melted and combined. Remove pan from heat, add juice from the half lime and stir. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Divide stuffing among the mushroom caps, placing them, spaced evenly, in a 9×12 inch baking dish. Slowly pour the broth in the pan, making a shallow pool under the caps. Place pan in oven and bake for 30 minutes, until mushrooms sweat and shrink. Remove from oven and let sit for about five minutes. Garnish with small lime slices and serve.

Apple Strawberry Crisp

20141113-204155.jpg

Unlike the other German themed dish I made recently and broke our typical non-starchy rule (shame), this crisp is intended to follow the theme of German sweets, but not so much to the letter. It is why I include berries, apples and cinnamon. According to the numerous people if know who have visited the lovely country it was accurate to think of apple cakes, berry strudels and lederhosen when I concocted it. The ‘crumble’ top could be thinner, but  why reduce yumminess?!

Apple Strawberry Crisp

Filling
2 green apples, peeled and sliced
2 cups strawberries, stems removed and sliced
3 Tbsp Stevita
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Topping
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup golden flaxseed meal
2 cups finely ground raw pecans
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 Tbsp stevita
1/2 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place apple and strawberry slices in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with sweetener, lemon juice and cinnamon. Toss fruit until it is all coated. Let sit while preparing topping. In a small bowl add the almond meal and ground pecans. Pour in butter and stir to combine. Add stevita and salt. Stir to combine. Divide fruit mixture among four or five single serve ramekins, or place it all in a 9″x9″ baking dish. Spread topping on top, completely covering fruit. Bake for about 30 minutes, until fruit is bubbly. Cooking time for using a larger baking dish may need to be 45-50 minutes. Serve plain, with whipped cream or ice cream.

German Potato Salad

20141108-103935.jpg

I am a bit evil on this one. The good thing is, I can blame Little B. We were doing a multi-day lesson with her about Germany, leading up to local Wurstfest celebrations. Believe me, she was absolutely adorable in her uncle’s old lederhosen! As always, if there is a slim chance that food can be included in a learning experience I will find it. There was cabbage at bratwurst and apples flying all over the kitchen. For this salad I was sorely tempted to find a substitute for the starchy new potatoes, but in the end went with the real thing. My big excuse was that I was trying to make as authentic a German dinner as I could, with guests coming over for it to boot. I had already tweaked a dessert to be less than authentic, and got store bought saurkraut, so I caved and went pure with the salad. This by no means prevents me from making a less starchy, lower carb version in the future, but I can definitely say that I know how to make an absolutely delicious German potato salad now! I really don’t see why turnips or parsnips (and maybe a little cauliflour) can’t be substituted for the taters. If you try a version of this recipe with them let me know how it goes! Back to behaving now…

German Potato Salad

2 pounds small new potatoes
4 quarts water
1 Tbsp sea salt
8 thick cut slices of bacon
1 medium white onion, roughly chopped
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
Salt to taste

Place the water and salt in a large stock pot. Add potatoes. Bring water to a boil and continue cooking for about twenty minutes, until potatoes are tender. Drain water and set aside potatoes to cool. While potatoes boil prepare the bacon. In a large skillet over medium high heat cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon and crumble, then set it aside, retaining the bacon grease in the pan. Lower heat under the grease to medium and add onions. Cook onions until soft. While onions cook slice the potatoes into halves or quarters so they are bite-sized. Return crumbled bacon to the pan with onions, along with the stock and vinegar. Continue cooking until mixture is hot. Add potatoes to onion mixture, tossing gently until they are coated and hot. Sprinkle with salt if needed to enhance flavors. Add chives and toss again. Serve immediately or reheat to serve warm.

Adapted from http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/anne-burrell/german-potato-salad-recipe.html#!

More One Minute Muffins

one minute muffins

We ran out of homemade bread! Big D is out if town! What are we to do?! I can make bread, yes. I can follow recipes and such, but it feels wrong in this instance. Here is why. Big D and I spend a lot of evenings watching each other cook and talking about things. All kinds of things. Not necessarily about what is being cooked, but other stuff. Our kitchen has a bar that opens into it, so one of us can sit out of the way and still have full access to the kitchen goings on. Little B is always nearby, but our talking is usually about something other than dinosaurs and fairies, so is often boring to her. By all means there are plenty of Little B-centric chats, but less likely during these casual cooking tete-a-tetes. Since it felt so wrong bread baking in Big D absentia, I decided to take a stab at one minute muffins again. I did so previously, with results being a little more labor intensive and very specific to accomplishing hamburger buns. Those buns were not going to hit the spot for, say, a breakfast sandwich with sausage, egg and cheese. I wanted something a bit smoother and softer. These are definitely smoother, softer, shorter and sweeter. I also give two different flour/meal choices, but share them together in spite of the very different results. Flaxseed gives a more ‘grainy’ texture, while the almond meal is smooth and spongier. Pick what pleases you. In trying to include the variations that impact results, I hope I do not confuse. Try a muffin and see what you like!
More One Minute Muffins
1-2 Tbsp butter
1/2 to 1/3 cup golden flaxseed meal or almond meal
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp stevita
1 egg
In large microwaveable mug melt butter (less butter makes for a dryer muffin). Add dry ingredients and stir (a larger quantity of meal makes for a shorter, denser muffin). Add egg and mix until fully incorporated. Place mug in microwave. Cook on high one minute – use of almond meal often needs an additional 30 seconds if the middle is still sunken after one minute. When cooked through remove from microwave and immediately flip muffin out of mug. Serve.

Cheesy Burger Bombs

burger bombs

Hamburgers are heavily relied on in this household. And I use the word household loosely, for reliance includes those times when we eat in restaurants. At most places a hamburger can be ordered without a bun and with a salad instead of fries. It makes for a satisfying meal and keeps us safe from wheaty pasta and breaded concoctions on menus. Recently on a weekday evening I was standing in the kitchen, staring at a bag of ground beef, ready to be made into our dinner. Regular burgers with cheese melted on top was about to be made. As I reached into the fridge for cheese, I spotted little ever-present cheese wheel snacks in the cheese drawer. Little B loves to unwrap them, peel off the wax and throw the whole wheel into her mouth. She then slowly chews it up while looking like a chipmunk. The leftover wax serves as a mommy-eating monster lots of times, reminding me of the Pac Man games of my youth. I figured, why put the cheese on top of the burgers when it can be inside?! I have put filling inside of burgers in the past, but never such big cheese bombs! I am up for trying, are you?

Cheesy Burger Bombs

1 – 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 egg
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano leaves
1 Tbsp ground turmeric
4 – 6 Baby Bel cheese snack wheels
1/4 cup bacon grease or other high heat fat

Sauce

1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp ground turmeric
1 Tbsp dried oregano leaves
1 Tbsp dried basil leaves
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

First make the sauce. In medium pot combine tomatoes, tomato paste and spices. Stir and cook over medium heat until steam rises. Cover and turn heat down to simmer until ready to serve. While sauce is cooking prepare the burgers. Remove plastic and wax wrapping from cheese wheels, then set cheese aside. In large bowl combine the ground beef, egg and spices. The best way to combine it all is using your hands, but because of the turmeric they may turn yellow. Divide the beef mixture into 1/4 pound piles. Take a pile in your hand and flatten it into a patty. Place a cheese wheel in the middle of the patty and wrap the edges of the patty over the cheese. Close up the edges to completely cover the cheese. Repeat making patties until all the beef is used up. In a frying pan heat the bacon grease over medium high heat. Place burgers in pan and cook on one side for about five minutes, until the bottoms begin to brown. Flip burgers, turn heat down to medium and cover. Cook for another 5-10 minutes, until burgers are done to your liking. Serve immediately over a bed of the sauce spread on a serving plate.

Banana Bread

banana bread_edited-1

Little B has been requesting banana bread for over a month. We don’t usually buy bananas because Little B is the only one who eats them, and often loses interest before the bunch is gone. The same was true this week. Two bananas were left to get dark brown and look pathetic. I remembered all the breads we have made over the past year and did a crap shoot. The ratio between almond and coconut flour definitely needs to be considered to ensure a moist result, but not overly so. The bananas would provide a natural sweetness, but no need to do much sweetening otherwise. Cinnamon always tastes yummy when sprinkled on a banana, so why not drop in a bit? The bread did not rise very much, but it was still light and fluffy. Little Be loved it, but picked out the walnuts, so the next batch we will do without. A lot of buts that turned into a lovely bread. And the darned bananas are finally gone.

Banana Bread

1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp Stevita (can be excluded, if you find the mild sweetness of banana sufficient)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 ripe bananas
4 Tbsp butter, melted
3 eggs
1 cup finely chopped raw walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line rectangular bread pan with parchment paper or grease muffin pan. In a large bowl combine the almond and coconut flours, baking soda, sea salt, sweetener and cinnamon. In a separate bowl place the bananas. Puree the bananas with a stick blender (or mush with hands like Little B prefers) until smooth. Add butter and eggs, whisking together until smooth. Pour liquid mixture, and nuts (optional) to dry mixture. Whisk together until combined. Batter will be thick. Pour batter in bread pan, or divide batter equally among muffin pan divets. Bake in oven for 20 – 30 minutes. Muffins take about 20 minutes, loaf about 30. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for about ten minutes. Serve or store in refrigerator.

 

Bacon Wrapped Scallops

bacon wrapped scallops

Big D is going to be so pissed that I did this while he was out of town. I just could not wait! There is a local restaurant that makes something similar, and I had a serious craving. The restaurant appears to wrap the scallops with bacon and pierce with toothpicks, then deep fry them and serve with hollandaise sauce. Their sauce is a bit subtle – it may be the version of sauce they make, but I have longed for something tangier when we have ordered and inhaled them as an appetizer. Not one to deep fry things, I decided to broil, since scallops are easy to overcook and quick cooking works well with the broiler. I was tempted to do more seasoning, but decided to keep it simple. I was not disappointed. These were so easy to make at home and delicious! I promise I will make them again sweetie and after you get home!

Bacon Wrapped Scallops

8 large scallops (about 1″ diameter raw)
4 slices bacon, cut in half
8 round toothpicks
Salt and pepper to taste

Spicy Cocktail Sauce

1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 Tbsp raw horseradish, grated
1/4 cup lemon juice

Preheat oven on low broil. Lightly sprinkle scallops with salt and pepper. Wrap a piece of bacon around a scallop, overlapping the edges. Secure the bacon with a toothpick, pushing it through both sides of the scallop. Repeat with all scallops. Place scallops on a shallow baking pan. Position oven rack about 8 inches below broiler. Place scallops in oven. Broil for about ten minutes, making sure not to overcook the scallops. If you only have one broiler setting assume it is high and reduce cooking time to 5-7 minutes, watching carefully – a few more minutes may be needed, depending on broiler heat. The bacon may smoke a bit. While the scallops cook make the spicy cocktail sauce: whisk together the paste, horseradish and juice until well blended. Sprinkle sauce on serving dish. Place scallops on plate and serve immediately after removing from the oven.

Post Navigation