Archive for December, 2009

From Dish Gwen:

What to do with a leftover ham?

Christmas came and went fast this year, and I wouldn’t even know it had happened if it weren’t for the leftovers. The fridge is packed with cookies, yams, the odd beer and half-drank bottle of wine, and the scraps of an 11-pound ham roast that I made for my family of 14. It’s rare that I’ve got this much food in the house, and my goal is to eat it all before it goes bad. Luckily I have friends like Dish Paige to come over and help me.

The only way I know to deal with a leftover carcass is boil it and make a soup. So here we go.

1 meaty ham hock and two cups of ham, cubed
1 medium size chopped onion (white or red)
2 or 3 sticks of celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
Olive oil
Two cups dry split peas, rinsed


Heat up your soup pot with a couple teaspoons of olive oil, and throw in some chopped onion. Once the onion starts to brown, put in the ham hock (I had to hack mine in half with a cleaver because it was too long to fit in the pot) and add enough water to cover the top of the bone, and throw in the celery and carrots with a pinch of salt. Boil for one to two hours covered on low heat, and don’t stir it (you want a nice, clear broth). Once the broth has some flavor (should taste rather hammy), strain the whole pot through a fine gauge strainer into a big bowl and then pour the liquid back into the pot. Add the split peas and simmer in the covered pot on medium heat for a half hour. If the water level drops below the top of the peas, add some more water so everything is submerged. Once the peas are tender, add the chopped ham and salt to taste. Serve with bread (my dad’s famous Christmas dill bread went very nicely with this) and garnish with fresh parsley if you’re feeling fancy.

Merry leftovers!

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From Dish Erin:

Two of my best friends are vegans and I love to give them flack about their strict dietary lifestyle, what Anthony Bourdain once dubbed a ‘Hezbollah-like faction” of vegetarians. But the truth is, there are some damn good non-dairy, non-meat, non-anything-that’s-usually-tasty dishes out there. My obsession with peanut butter is legendary (my sister and I melt it in the microwave and pour it over ice cream). Hell, I’d bathe in it if I could. But savory peanut sauces can sometimes be complicated. I can’t handle the 14 ingredient recipes I’ve seen in cookbooks–so this is a quick way to get your peanut butter fix. I will admit, I usually use honey in this recipe, so über orthodox vegans will need to swap out the honey for molasses or agave nectar…and I’ll save my tirade on how healthy honey is for you. Meat eaters, just substitute the tofu for something that once had a pulse, I think chicken or a thinly sliced flank steak would be best. Courtney & Rob, this recipe is dedicated to you.

1 package tofu, cut into cubes or triangles
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 yellow onion, sliced into half rings
1 small red, yellow, or orange pepper, sliced into spears
1 teaspoon fresh ginger
2 cups of broccoli florets
2 cups sliced carrots

For the peanut sauce:
2-3 heaping spoonfuls of natural peanut butter (start with 2 of you’re not the keenest on peanut butter)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar (you can use another mild flavored vinegar if you don’t have rice)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Hot water

Saute tofu in the sesame and vegetable oil over pretty high heat to get the outside crispy. When they turn a golden brown color, flip and turn down the heat a bit.

Add the onions, garlic, and peppers cook for a few minutes until the onions become translucent and the peppers soften. Add the broccoli and carrots. Tofu tends to release water as it’s cooked, so there may be enough moisture in the pan to steam the veggies, but if not, just add a few tablespoons of water. Zest fresh ginger in, cover and cook for about 4-5 minutes until the carrots are fork tender and the broccoli is bright green.

In the meantime, make the sauce. Combine the peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, honey and cayenne pepper in a bowl. Top with a couple splashes of boiling water, stir with a whisk or fork to fully incorporate. It will take a little elbow grease to get the peanut butter completely melted. The sauce should be thick to coat the back of the spoon, but pourable.

Turn off the heat under the saute pan and pour the peanut sauce over the veggies. Serve immediately over soba noodles, brown or white rice. Optional: top with crushed peanuts and cilantro.

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From Dish Jodi:

It’s been chilly here in LA. In the 50’s and 60’s…brrrrr…so I wanted something cozy for dinner this week. This is an old standby in my house, healthy, vegetarian with just enough spice to heat you up on a cold day. I fully realize that 60’s isn’t cold…we’re just wusses out here in LA. No idea how I’ll handle Chicago next week for Christmas.


Splash of olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 butternut squash (cubed into bite sizes)
1 large parsnip (cubed into bite sizes)
1 T cumin
1 T coriander
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can garbanzo beans
1/4 cup raisins
2 cups chicken or veggie stock
2 cups water
6 oz spinach
2 T chopped fresh mint
green onions diced


In a large pot, soften the onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil. Add the squash and parsnip and toss with the spices.

Once you start to smell the toasty spices, add the tomatoes, beans, raisins, stock and water and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered until the squash is tender.

Right before serving, add the spinach and mint and toss until wilted.

I served over couscous, that was cooked in chicken stock with some of the same spices as above, and sprinkled with green onion.

This makes a lot, but luckily, it’s very easy to reheat…I might have to strap bags of it to my body and fill up my socks to make it through this cold spell.

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From Dish Rachelle:

I don’t eat mushrooms, with one exception: when they’re sliced thin in chicken marsala. This dish – which tastes like my childhood – has a legacy in my life as a meal that tricks people into eating things that they don’t like. When I was younger, my father refused to eat chicken, still reeling from a run-in with an undercooked drumstick as a kid. But back when my parents were married, my mother would buy chicken cutlets and pound them thin until they could pass as veal, and then keep her little secret to herself. Considering she had a husband who hated chicken and a daughter who despised all things mushroom, it was bold to put this meal on the kitchen table. And yet, I love it to this day, willing to break my fungus fast for button mushrooms soaked in delicious wine sauce.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

For Chicken:
1/4 C flour
2 large chicken breasts, boned, skinless, and sliced thin
olive oil
1/2 C Marsala wine
1/2 C chicken stock
1/2 lemon, juice only
1/2 C button mushrooms, sliced thin
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

For Polenta:
3/4 C coarse cornmeal
3 1/4 C water
1 tbsp. butter
1/8 C grated Parmesan cheese (or to taste)
Nutmeg to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste

For Broccoli Rabe:
Bunch broccoli rabe, rinsed and chopped roughly, stems removed
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, kept whole and very gently crushed
Salt and red pepper to taste

Generously season flour with salt and pepper and mix together in a wide bowl for dredging. Slice chicken breasts on the diagonal into 1/8-inch-thick pieces, and then coat each piece evenly in flour, on both sides. Heat 1-2 tbsps. olive oil in a large skillet (I used a cast iron pan) over high heat. Add chicken pieces in batches and reduce heat to medium-high, and cook until golden brown – roughly 3 minutes per side.

Repeat until all of the chicken is browned, adding olive oil as needed, and reserve to a plate.

Increase heat to high and add wine, stirring until most of the alcohol fumes have released and the liquid is heated. Toss in mushrooms, stock, and lemon juice, and reduce heat to medium. Cook, uncovered, for 7-10 minutes, until mushrooms are soft and the sauce has reduced by roughly 1/4. Return chicken to skillet, covering with the sauce, and cook, covered, for another 7-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the polenta: bring water to a boil and add cornmeal slowly, whisking to avoid lumps. Reduce heat to medium and stir constantly, until polenta feels thick and pulls away from the side of the saucepan. Add butter, cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper, tasting to adjust.

Five minutes before serving, heat another tbsp. of olive oil in a large frying pan with a gently crushed clove of garlic, to infuse the oil with flavor. Add chopped broccoli rabe and season with salt and red pepper. Saute until wilted, about 5 minutes.

Put your food hangups aside and enjoy the taste of home.

Chicken Marsala recipe adapted from Food Reference.

Chicken Marsala on Foodista

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From Dish Paige!:

Holy Downpour, Batman! Wednesday morning was on of the rainiest I’ve ever seen. My office is only 3 blocks from the subway, but by the time I made it to the front door, I was so soaked I had to change into another pair of pants (thank you Guest Dish Anna!). While my soggy jeans (eww) dried on the heater, I day dreamed of being at home, wrapped in a fluffy blanket (or Slanket or Snuggie) with a warm bowl of delicious, comforting soup in my hands. Always one to try and make a dream into a reality (except that one dream I have about the seismic sea wave that comes and I can see it and I have to choose which of my loved ones I’ll rescue in time before we all get wiped out into the ocean – I DON’T WANT THAT TO BE REAL), I searched around online for the soup that would fulfill the day’s destiny, and settled on a big pot of chowder for dinner.

Serves 6
4 slices of bacon (cut into 1/4 inch strips)
1 large onion (finely diced)
2 carrots (thinly sliced into rounds)
2 medium baking potatoes (cut into 2 inch cubes)
1 (28 oz.) can of plum tomatoes in juice
2 bottles (8 oz.) clam juice
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 lb tilapia (cut into 2 inch cubes)
Goldfish Crackers (original flavor)

In a large, heavy-bottom pot, cook the bacon over medium-low heat until browned. Spoon off all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat, then add the onion and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until softened.

Add the tomatoes and juice (breaking the tomatoes with a spoon or your hands if you like to squish things, which I do), clam juice and 1 1/2 cups water. Bring the liquid to a boil and add the potatoes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender but not falling apart (about 20 minutes).

Add the tilapia, cover and cook until the fish is opaque and flaky (about 3 minutes). Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a handful of Goldfish Crackers.

Recipe courtesy of Everyday Food.

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From Dish Amelia:

I lead a cookie-centric life lately, and I am often paying a huge amount of attention to the aesthetics of icing. So this December, a traditional month for making, eating and giving cookies, I thought it was appropriate to make some cookies that are not pretty, and that you won’t even care about looking at as they hurtle past your gaze and into your mouth. I used this epicurious recipe pretty straight up, but feel free to add some other spices in there. If you have a mixer, you should make meringues for every party you go to, since they are so simple you could almost make them accidentally.

1 cup light brown sugar
1 egg white
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 250.

Beat egg white until stiff. Gradually add sugar, salt, nutmeg and continue until shiny. Add pecans. Drop little bits onto parchment a couple inches apart. Put in the oven to dry out about 30 min. These are very sweet and light and have an earthy somewhat alcoholic character.

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From Dish Danielle:

The last of our CSA bounty had left my roommate and I with more squash and potatoes than we could plow through. Noticing that Father Winter was fast approaching, I decided to make a Winter feast with enough leftover soup to get me through ’09 (or almost), and a simple winter supper to go with it.

Soup: Carrot Butternut with ground fennel
Entrée: Cumin Cast Iron Chicken with Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Salad: Iceberg with bacon and buttermilk dressing (contributed by dish Amelia)

Soup Ingredients: (this will make 4+ quarts of soup — perfect for freezing for later. Feel free to cut in 1/2).

½-¾ stick butter
6 leeks, rinsed thoroughly and sliced thin
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 butternut squash, de-seeded, roasted, and mashed up
1 lb carrots, peeled and sliced into thin circles
1.5-2 quarts stock
1 tbsp ground fennel seed (more or less)
2 tsp curry (more or less)
lots of salt (kosher)
1 c milk or heavy cream

For Soup:

In a large stockpot, melt half of the butter over medium heat while pot comes to temperature. Toss in the leeks and garlic with a liberal pinch of salt and sautée gently, until they start to wilt and become fragrant. Add sliced carrots with the rest of the butter and allow to cook slightly, stirring often.

After about 10 minutes, add 1-2 cups stock and increase the heat slightly (adding this bit of stock will help the carrots cook faster). Continuously add small amounts of stock as the vegetables absorb more of it; you want there to be a good amount of liquid at all times. Add seasonings and cover pot with a lid so you don’t lose too much liquid. The carrots will take some time to soften (45 min?) — so you’ll have a bit of downtime. Kick back with a glass of red…

After the carrots are soft enough to mash or blend, add the squash. Stir vigorously to incorporate, while also adding remaining stock. Allow squash to cook in soup for a while before assessing whether you want to add additional seasoning (you’ll definitely need more salt & pepper!) Once you’ve got the taste adjusted, add the milk, and puree to desired consistency – I used an immersion blender, but you could use a Cuisinart, etc.

Garnish with something green for immediate pleasure and fantasize about the yummy leftovers to come…

Now if you want to do the whole shebang, here’s the rest of the meal. Quick & dirty:

Cumin Cast Iron Chicken with Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Preheat oven to 400. Toss 4 peeled sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper, and dried thyme, place on baking sheet and bake in the oven…Meanwhile…

Place Cast Iron Skillet over med heat. Once its hot, toss in ½c olive oil, 2 quartered onions, a bunch of garlic, and liberal pinch of salt. Allow to cook down, but keep onions moving. Once they’re translucent, place skin-on chicken pieces (I did a whole small chickens’ worth) into skillet, snuggling them into pile of onions so the meat touches the skillet’s surface. While the underside of the chicken cooks, season exposed side with cumin, salt, pepper, cinnamon. Feel free to toss in thyme or your fave herb. Flip chicken over. Season the other side liberally (and add oil if pan becomes dry!) Continue to flip chicken so outside layer becomes sealed. After 10-15 min or so, take the whole skillet and place it directly into oven. It should need to cook for about 10 more minutes. Now’s the time to savor another small bowl of soup and await the next course…

Throw chicken and potatoes on a large platter and you’ve got a mouthwatering meal. Don’t forget to invite your best pal, Dish, or roommate.

You just made a full-on supper! If you’re lucky, maybe they’ll bring the salad (or dessert).

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