Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Easy Zucchini Salad

This salad is delicious and takes 5 minutes to make. I got the idea reading a menu for restaurant week from Lupa Restaurant in New York City, http://www.luparestaurant.com/home.cfm Take a baby zucchini and slice into ribbons on a Benriner, http://benriner.com/ This is one of my favorite kitchen tools. It is how I get paper thin slices in a moment. and how my food takes on a professional quality. It is an easy to clean inexpensive version of the french mandoline.
Lay the slices over a plate of arugula. Then slice some good aged Pecorino also on the Benriner, over the zucchini. Dress with good extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of lemon juice. Finally grind a little black pepper over all and dot with Maldon Salt, http://www.maldonsalt.co.uk/. Maldon salt is chunky so just a little is all you want. It gives you a big salt bite but does not permeate the whole dish. Eat immediately before it melts for the best result.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Cooking Made Easy # 1

There is a trick to cooking easily and quickly. Make something, eat some, keep a bit for later, use it in something else. This saves time. It also saves all the little leftovers but because it becomes something else it is not leftovers and it is not boring. The trick is to learn what combinations you like and to be creative with what's in your frig. I am an old fashioned home cook and I have other things to do than cook all the time so I cook sequentially. What I mean about that is that on day one I might make a vegetable. Day two I might roast a chicken. Now on day three that vegetable I made becomes a side to the chicken and I might just cook a little rice. Learning to cook this way means you never become a slave to the kitchen for a whole day but there is always something around. Sometimes I do my cooking while I am having my breakfast..I find I have a lot of energy in the morning so doing a quick simple vegetable or making a quick marinade is not much extra effort and is a good type of multitasking. Breakfast time is a good time to make a little salad dressing..If I do it then I will have dressing for the week and salad making becomes less laborious.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Everything in Moderation: Three Tasty Omelettes

I hate diets..but I want to be svelte. So I have a compromise that may also work for you..Use the best ingredients you can find and use the caloric stuff in moderation.

To make an omelette I now use one yolk to two whites. Whip that up with a dollop of water and a pinch of salt and pepper..Melt a bit of butter in your pan..low heat to melt then raise to moderate..Add eggs, swirl to cover. add ingredients and roll out of pan tilting while holding the handle up onto a plate..rolling as you go with a silicone spatula. A portion of your butter remains in the pan. Pictures are of
Stracchino, (mild fresh cheese) Herb and Tomato..Use just a tablespoon or so of cheese (make your own substitutions) and spread out. It will be about 100 calories of cheese but adds real flavor.

Penzeys Spices Sunny Paris Seasoning, Finochiella,  White Mustache Savory Shallot Yogurt, Asparagus
Note the tiny bits of meat. small dollops of yogurt. 2 or three asparagus cut and microwaved with a spoon of water for a minute. Sunny Paris is a wonderful spice you can keep in your spice cabinet for delicious omelettes. If you haven't White Mustache yogurt you can simply add minced shallot to a good flavored yogurt..Yes I use full fat yogurt..just small amounts..It tastes better and is actually better than no fat..long story..

 Finally a Proscuitto Cheese Asparagus Version..I use Proscuitto because it is so thin yet adds flavor without being a diet breaker. You can use an ounce or less of any cheese. And you can choose any vegetable and quickly cook it ahead. I also love adding Marjoram or chives or parsley or any other herb.

The idea behind all of these is more veggies less cheese and meat ..but cheese and meat for flavor in morsel like portions. Consult  nutritiondata.self.com

to get the calorie and nutrition data on an ounce of cheese or meat..an absolute must is a good digital scale..mine is by Escali and weighs in grams and ounces and pounds. Once you get used to it you will be well on your way to understanding how to eat as you like and stay at the weight you like using good sense in your portion controlling.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Perfect Egg White Omelette Basic Procedure

Here is my recipe for making a fluffy egg white omelette.

The idea is you that whip the egg whites at room temperature until they form soft peaks and then cook them in a pan adding the filling at the end.

Here is how it is done.

Separate 3 egg whites from the yolks and reserve the yolks for something else.  Allow the egg whites to come to room temperature so they will expand when whipped. If you haven't much time,  place the eggs in a cup of very warm water for a few minutes before cracking them.

Add a pinch of salt, and with a hand held electric mixer, whip them til foamy or to soft peaks, How whipped you make them depends on how fluffy you want your omelette. Make sure that you have no liquid on the bottom of the bowl underneath, it needs to be uniformly whipped to achieve a fluffy result.
Note: if you whipped the whites  and then waited awhile  liquid will accumulate at the bottom and you will need to momentarily whip them in again before proceeding.

Preheat med-high a small 8 or 9 inch cast iron or teflon pan with a small amount of butter or oil

Add the eggs and quickly smooth with a rubber spatula so it is relatively even. Try not to push the whites against the sides when you do this.

Then cook for 2-4 minutes at medium to medium high and then lower the temperature. At this point you can cover the pan or not. If you cover it you should remove the cover and let it dry out a bit more at the end.

One the eggs are cooked thru you can lift them out of the pan with a flexible metal spatula carefully lift it out onto a plate, then fill it and carefully fold. If you are not putting in a lot of filling you might also fill it before removing the omelette from the pan.

For sweet fillings I like fruit or jam and maybe some soft white cheese. After I fold the omelette using a fork I drizzle it with a little honey or agave syrup and sprinkle it with a few nuts.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Claudia Roden's Almond and Orange Cake

This cake is a wonder! 

It starts by boiling two oranges for two hours then grinding them up and adding almond flour eggs and sugar. I first read about it on Catherine Bedson's blog from Australia http://www.farmhousehome.com.au/2012/08/orange-and-almond-cake.html 

I found that that the original recipe appears in a classic book on Middle Eastern Food written by the renowned author and cultural historian, Claudia Roden.

I bought the book online; "A Book of Middle Eastern Food" Knopf 1968  and I highly recommend it to those who are interested in cooking authentic food that has been passed down through the centuries by generations of dedicated cooks. Reading Claudia Roden on food and culture  is a joyful experience!

Below see a link to a fascinating interview of  Ms. Roden by the Guardian:


There are a number of other Sephardic Jewish Cakes in her book all are gluten free or nearly and easily adapted.  These were devised for Passover using almond meal instead of flour. I am anxious to try them as they are all  likely to be both easy and delicious.

Here is Claudia Roden's original recipe for Orange and Almond Cake  from "A Book of Middle Eastern Food" Knopf 1968

2 Large Oranges
6 Eggs
1 1/2 Cups Ground Almonds
1 cup Sugar
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
Butter and Flour for Cake Pan

Wash and boil the oranges (unpeeled) in a little water for nearly 2 hours (or for 1/2 hour in a pressure cooker).
Let them cool, then cut them open and remove the pips.

Turn the oranges into a pulp by rubbing them through a strainer or putting them in an electric blender.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add the other ingredients, mix thouroughly, and pour into a buttered and floured cake pan with a removable base if possible.

Bake in a preheated moderately hot oven (400 degrees) for about 60 minutes. Have a look at it after 1 hour-this type of cake will not go any flatter if the oven door is opened. If it is still very wet, leave it in the oven for a little longer. Cool in the pan before turning out. This is a very moist cake.

Cooks notes:
I use juice oranges and scrub the wax off in hot water using a plastic scrubber to make sure I do not ingest the wax. As suggested in Catherine Bedson's blog I cook the oranges when it is convenient..even a few days ahead. This makes it a very easy cake to make. Catherine uses caster sugar instead of regular sugar. I see no difference having made this both ways. I grind the oranges in a miniprep, (not available in 1968 when the original recipe was published). I substitute either sugar or rice flour for the regular flour used to butter and flour the pan. I remind you to always have all of your ingredients at room temperature before beginning. If you want the cake to be not too moist I suggest that the color be a dark golden brown when it is done. It does not do well sitting in a humid house as it tends to take in the surrounding moisture..although you can pop it into the oven at a low temp, (200-250) to dry it out again.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Two Very Different Versions of Corn Pancakes

I love the kind of cooking that barely needs measurements. I also love corn. Here are two examples of how easy good cooking can be. The first recipe is a family recipe of India Clark's..my son Max's girlfriend..yet another food obsessed member of my growing clan..Her family makes this with their leftover corn. The recipe uses fresh corn on the cob and eggs. The fat and or flavors vary at will. The  second pancake is made of cornmeal and rice flour. Both recipes are easy to make, delicious and gluten free.

Fresh Corn on the Cob Pancakes

Chopped Onions or Shallots to Taste
Fresh Sweet Corn on the Cob or Frozen Kernels thawed roughly one to one egg
salt and pepper

1. Saute onions or shallots in butter or oil or rendered bacon fat and set aside in a bowl to cool

2. Cut the cooked corn off the cob into the bowl— 1-2 ears should be enough for 1-2 people 

3. Chop fresh herbs and add to the mixture. Chives, parsley, sage, basil, tarragon, thyme, sorrel, chervil and lemon balm all go well with corn. Make your own creation.

4. Add egg and mix in there should be enough liquid to rise close to the level of the corn..about one egg per ear of corn

5. Add salt and pepper to taste

6. Spoon onto a hot skillet with fat, use the back of your spoon to flatten them a bit..make smallish cakes so they are not too big to easily flip. Turn as  the bottoms begins to brown.

7. Enjoy as is, or with your favorite hot sauce, ketchup, syrup, sour cream.... whatever strikes your fancy and matches the accompaniments

Note: it might be worth trying a sweet version. Try adding a bit of sugar, vanilla and nutmeg with a little orange zest. if you do this and it works well let me know!

Corn Meal and Rice Pancakes



 3/4 Cup Corn Meal or Corn Flour
1/2 cup Brown or White Rice Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1//4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2-2/3 Cup Boiling Water
1/2 Cup Buttermilk or to Taste
1 Egg
1 Tablespoon Melted Butter
Pinch of Salt
1 Teaspoon of Sugar

Measure the corn meal or corn flour into a bowl.  

Stir in boiling water and wait 5 minutes for the meal to expand and soften.

Alternate mixing in rice flour, salt buttermilk and sugar. Mix in  the egg and the melted butter. Add the baking powder and baking soda last mixing in well. The type of pancake you get will depend on the thickness of the batter. If you want thick and fluffy your mix should be fairly thick if you want thin and crispy it should be more liquid. Adjust the buttermilk accordingly. 

Melt the butter or oil or bacon fat in a non-stick pan..just a little will do as you don't want greasy pancakes..Then over medium to medium high heat cook on one side til bubbles form and it looks to be drying out a bit..then flip and brown on the other side. I like to make one first to test the heat before I pour them in quantity.

Serve with real maple syrup that has been warmed.

Note: I like fruit in my cakes. I use berries or peaches or apples depending on the time of year. I found an ice cream scoop works well for a measurer and I can add the fruit to it just before it goes into the pan. You can make the fruit to order this also allows you to custom order the cakes for a crowd.  


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sorrel Sorrel Wonderful Sorrel!


An Omelette, Plus a Plethora of  Ways to Use Sorrel

Sorrel grows like a weed and looks a bit like one. It has an intoxicating sour flavor that is a joy to cook with.The first time I grew it on my terrace it overgrew all its planter neighbors. This year it has it's own pot and so far I have cut it down twice. I don't let it flower as I believe it takes vigor from the plant and eventually just stops producing. If you have no outdoor space, you may find it in your local farmer's market but if you have any outdoor space it is well worth growing. It puts up with part shade locations beautifully and zips up your cooking.

I use Sorrel in a variety of ways.

Removing  tough stems I julienne it, and sprinkle it over my salad greens (Stack the leafs together, then roll them up and cut strips by cutting across the roll) 

I melt it in butter and freeze it for later. It is wonderful with fresh or frozen peas. The french make pea soup with sorrel using fresh peas, butter, cream, a bit of broth and sorrel.

I cut it up and melt it in butter and add a dash of heavy cream  at the end, to make a wonderful fast sauce for Salmon ..I think this would be nice with a poached chicken breast as well.. but use your imagination it is a versatile herb.

Here are some more ideas I found on the internet using sorrel.


This morning I made a Sorrel Omelette. Using the recipe from www.academiabarilla.com  which is an excellent source for recipes, I adjusted the amounts so I had just one omelette.


For one serving I chopped a tablespoon or so of onion, cut up some sorrel..removing the big stems and melted butter, 2 teaspoons or so in a pan. I waited til it started to get color and added the sorrel and onion cooking til the sorrel melts and the onion begins to color.

I then added one beaten jumbo size mixed with a bit of salt and pepper. Swirled the egg to cover the bottom of the pan. It was done in 60 seconds or so.

Then I just rolled it up out of the pan onto the plate and I had a spectacular omelette for one. In less than 5 minutes!