Saturday, April 19, 2014

Chocolate Tortes for Easter or Passover Tortino di Cioccolato

originally posted for Easter, 2011

There's just something about individual desserts that make people hop around.   Think how big cupcakes have been.  How big donuts are were.  Cronuts... Creme brulee, ice cream sundaes, cookies.  Whatever's for one seems to be "in."  Or fun.  If you have an invite for Easter or Passover ( try -ahead- using ground almonds instead of bread crumbs to avoid leavened bread) and just have to bring dessert-lucky you-, you might want to try this little ditty I made from MY BREAD by Jim Lahey.  This is the book with the wonderful No-Knead bread recipe made famous by Mark Bittman in the NYT.  In fact, we visited that recipe right here in the blog not long ago.
Remember this?

I adore any light end to a big meal that is chocolatey without being chocolatey.  Tortino di Cioccolato (practice saying this so you sound great) is, without doubt,  bowl-scraping scrumptious and I gilded the lily by added a bit of Haagen Daz (5 ingredient) Vanilla Ice cream (not too much) and a squiggle of hot fudge (not too much again.)  You could, instead, add a tiny dump of whipped cream or creme fraiche.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hot Cross Buns

                                            originally posted in march of 2013
 It is a tradition amongst many Christian bakers to produce a batch of Hot Cross Buns (Click to sing the nursery rhyme!) for Good Friday.  And, if not, we stop at the local bakery and see if THEY made any.  These barely sweet firm rolls, served on a day when no meat is eaten,  are hearty tea treats of the first order--complete with a light buttery hum that is almost topped by the spice notes.  The pretty "X" snipped into the top (and often emphasized with a bit of icing painted into the grooves) lets the world--and you, too-- know what kind of bread this is.  An "X"  on bread can also be assumed to keep evil away. (Or as some might put it:  the "X" lets the devil escape from the dough ensuring great bread!)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Curried Lentil Soup with Fresh Greens

My most recent lentil love soup -- happily vegan, curried, and garnished with sunflower seeds and scallions.

Once, while visiting my sister, I said, "How about some lentil soup?"  knowing I was cooking dinner.   She shuddered and made as if to retch, all the while saying, "I love lentil soup, but..."  Turns out that years ago, when she was still cooking for her family, a very large and delicious kettle of the soup went uneaten by anyone except by her.  Days went by, the soup remained, she kept eating until....well, you might get the picture.  If you are not used to eating lentil soup (or bean soup or beans) every day for days on end, and you embark on such a journey, you might find you are in a tad of intestinal distress.  No one can fake-retch like my sister or show a horror of food quite like her; I wish I had a picture.  I made chicken noodle or asparagus--something else anyway. Maybe we went out?

Here's one of my oldest lentil soups.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Baby Kale Stir Fry

Necessity is often the mother of invention.  For instance, a big bag of kale beginning to wilt in the fridge.  A storage container full of brown rice.  One small zucchini yelling, "Help!" from the crisper drawer.  Me, hungry.

I am not a terribly accomplished stir fry cook, but when I need to, I can pull together a fairly happy Asian-style meal in about the time it takes to chop and cook the vegetables if I have rice made.   This particular meal is mostly vegetarian, but it needn't be.  (Skip the fish sauce or honey in the sauces if you'd like a vegan meal.)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Breakfast Reuben in a Cup for Saint Patrick's Day

Here is it out of the cup.
Here it is in the cup.  You can eat it either way.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Spread 2 thin, trimmed slices of pumpernickel or rye with Dijon Mustard and place in buttered, oven-safe large cup or small bowl.  (For crispy toast, bake the mustard bread in oven for 5 min. before continuing.)  No oven-safe cup?  Use a Pyrex measuring cup.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Rotisserie Chicken-Brown Rice Soup with Broccoli--Dance While You Cook

When I was a kid, my dad often took soup in a thermos for his lunch.  He did not eat cold food unless he was out on a boat or the food was ice cream on a hot summer evening--in which case he'd have ice cream for supper.  When I started school, he bought me my own thermos and made my lunch, too.  Of course the only way that was possible was because he'd made soup the night before, intentionally making enough for lunches.  He came from a generation of country people, farmers, who knew enough about life to not waste anything.  Chicken necks and butts, bones, the ends of celery bunches, onion peels, and sometimes things we didn't want to know about, went into Dad's soup.  Waste not….

These days, there can be an easier method, though there doesn't have to be.  I'll admit I rarely buy a rotisserie chicken, for instance, but I do on the rare occasion. The carcass or the cooked flesh itself are both good soup materials.  More often, I'll roast my own chicken or boil one up to make homemade broth a la Dad.  However you end up with a little extra chicken, this quick, nutritious, soup is a good weeknight undertaking and stretches the protein into another meal or two. You can eat off of it a couple of days or invite a neighbor, or even take leftovers to work.  Leftover takeout rice can make the soup nearly instant, though, given a choice, I like letting the soup cook with raw rice. All the elements seem to come together and the flavors marry in a way they don't with already-cooked rice.  I also give a tiny idea for a more Asian-style soup; check the notes below the recipe. However you make this, enjoy soup and maybe you'd like to….

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Valentine's Dinner for One

      Happy Valentine's Day to You!

Here's a menu you can make just for you with great leftovers.  This post features big double lamb chops that are grilled first and then finished in the oven;  a piquant tapenade tops them at the table.  Meantime, you'll oven-roast large, whole carrots laced with ground cumin.  There's a make-ahead green bean salad you'll fix again and again and I also give suggestions for wine and tiny, light desserts.  Don't want leftovers?  Cut the amounts in half for a one-time dinner.  Don't want to eat alone?  Invite a friend or neighbor; there's plenty.
Start with a beautiful sparkler that needn't cost much.  I heartily recommend a New Mexico sparkling wine such as  Gruerather than splurging on French champagne.  Despite all, I've found sparklers do keep a day two. Or, if you'd like, choose a half-bottle of a very special sparkling wine from the wine shop.  Add some of the tapenade with baguette or crackers or a bowl of great potato chips--my favorite sparkler pairing.  Stay away from cheese; fresh vegetables would work wonderfully.  Just stick with something light; lamb is loving, but filling.

If you're cooking for just you, open the wine, turn on the music, set the table, and enjoy a beautiful night.  Afterward, get out that novel you've been meaning to read and take it to bed with you along with the last glass of wine.   You could write letters or cards to a few people you adore; make yourself post them in the morning.   Whatever you do,  have fun cooking and taking care of yourself!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Bacon-Granola Pancakes with Fried Egg or Your Very Own Broncos' Breakfast!

A cold and snowy morning at home.  Kept looking at my granola and wondering what I could do with it that would turn it into something warm.  Pancakes came to mind.  Eggs popped up right after that.   What came to be was a short stack of pancakes that had granola and minced, cooked bacon in them --all topped off with a fried egg and a swizzle of real maple syrup, garnished with a bit more granola. Heaven as I know it.

Years ago, I used to make Marion Cunningham's granola pancakes (just add granola), but I now make my own….She has always been a great breakfast inspiration and her Breakfast Book is one of my favorite cookbooks.

Alyce's granola--recipe below in purple  make my own granola link

Monday, January 20, 2014

Hot Baby Kale and Cherry Tomato Tacos with Red Onions and Salsa

Readers:  If you also read my posts at More Time at the Table, please know that I've moved the blog to WordPress:   Do follow me there!  (Migration by gorgeous and oh-so-smart daughter, Emily Suzanne Morgan--follow Emily @fightthebees)

If you have tortillas, salsa, and perhaps a little cheese in your fridge, you can nearly always find something for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  If you have baby kale, the sky's the limit.  After the long siege of football games yesterday -- complete with potato skins, (recipe coming from son Sean…)

I was more than ready for something on the lighter side for lunch.  Like you probably do, I opened that fridge and couldn't seem to find anything.  (My mother would have said, "There's nothing new in there since the last time you opened that door.")  I considered running out and picking something up since I had to go to the post office anyway.  And then I saw the package of whole wheat tortillas on the counter and remembered that big bag of baby kale that needed to be eaten.  Hearty and heart-healthy -- and I might say really good -- kale tacos ended up on the table.  While we're used to tacos with meat or fish, I don't think you'll miss the meat.   Delicious food needn't be fancy, contain meat, nor must it come from a long recipe or clean out your wallet.  It can be just as simple and expedient as a few sautéed greens served up with a few prime additions.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Braised Chicken with Garlic-Ginger Broccoli and Lemon Rice or No Chicken-in-a-Box Tonight


Readers:  I recently moved my cooking blog MORE TIME AT THE TABLE  to WordPress.  If you're a MORE TIME reader, too, please reset your favorites, links, and so on.  Do come check out the new site and follow me there!!  Click here for new site.

The number of chickens-in-a-box (think wine in a box, but these are also often called rotisserie chickens) I see in shopping carts makes me sad.  It can't mean people don't know how to roast a chicken, can it?  A little oil, some salt and pepper, stick it in the oven or even in the slow cooker.  No.  Mostly,  I think it's the time factor, fatigue, or simplicity.  Maybe the inability to think any more that day.  The chicken-in-a-box is often cheaper, too.  That just shouldn't be so.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Pot of Beans for New Year's--Good Luck for 2014!

Pintos garnished with plain Greek yogurt and Frontera salsa
This is a favorite pot of "good luck" beans I'm reposting for New Year's.  Invite a friend, put on a movie, and enjoy a wonderful pot of healthy, inexpensive goodness.  If you have a slow-cooker, all the better!  Nobody available?  Cook them anyway.   Enjoy the movie and freeze a few containers for lunches.

When I was a kid, a pot of beans sounded nasty to me.  It smacked of nothing to do out in the country (except make a pot of beans) and I didn't particularly like the taste of beans--particularly pintos.  My parents grew all kinds of vegetables and they were fond of many sorts of beans and peas; our neighbors were of a similar ilk.  Married during the depression, but first raised on or near the farm, they all knew every trick for saving money on food.  Moving to the big city, they searched for a piece of land out a ways in order to plant that garden every year.  (Weed, can, water, repeat.)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Breakfast for One

Merry Christmas!
I'm blessed.  This is the view from my front door.  The mountain isn't fake; I didn't photoshop it; it's Pike's Peak and I live in Colorado Springs.   I really took this photo.

Merry Christmas to you!  If you're cooking for just your wonderful self this Christmas morning, you're blessed to be up and about and turning on the stove.  I hope you already made your coffee, fed the cat, brought in the paper, and maybe turned on some Christmas music.

Three Tenors' Christmas Concert

A lovely quick and filling breakfast can be had in one sweet little skillet.   If you'd like some scones to go with the eggs, I give a recipe at the bottom.  Do make the scones first!  Share the rest with a neighbor or wrap them well, store in the fridge, and have with your tea or a finger or two of scotch over the next few days.

Try this:

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Nutcracker Granola --- Gorgeous Homemade Gluten-Free Gift

I'm up early this morning making a big batch of nutty granola.     It's way below freezing in Colorado Springs today and the temperatures are doing nothing but dropping through tomorrow.  A warm oven blowing the spicy aromas of cinnamon and cloves through the house, snow flying, coffee brewing; there's something sort of homey and comforting about it.  I do not have to go out in it, so I probably feel a bit differently than those who are out starting their cars.

My plan for the day--after the granola, that is--  is to stay inside so I can make two big pots of beef vegetable soup.  One for today that I'll share with a couple of neighbors and one for the freezer for over the holidays.  One pot may get a little barley thrown in or a couple of cans of chopped chiles for fun.  I have zucchini, Parmesan, and tiny pasta; the other could move toward minestrone. We'll see in what direction these cauldrons of goodness feel like moving.  One could even be stew.  So many soups, so little time.

Out the back door this morning, north toward Denver:

If I'm honest, I also know I need to do a little housework. I'm having neighbors in for a holiday meal Friday night --one leaves early for a  long December trip -- and it would make sense to do a thing or two ahead of time. Right? While that's so, more likely I'll do a last minute Windex-clean in the bathroom, blow dust off the coffee table, and light plenty of candles so no one can see much except one another.  My house isn't decorated either.We were gone all weekend and I've been running the roads the past couple of days with errands, early shopping, and grocery stock-up.The tree is up with lights; is that enough?

                                Miss Gab and Tucker keeping warm.

Monday, November 25, 2013

No-Fuss Thanksgiving for Two or Four

                  Not everyone, every time, wants to make a huge Thanksgiving dinner.  This fully-satisfying but simple menu is for the year when there are, thank goodness, just two of you--or maybe four.  Or for the year when you escaped the family and borrowed a friend's cabin on the lake or condo at the shore.  You'd like something tasty, but it's just not the year to spend two days in the kitchen.

                 This little menu begins with a sparkler (a sparkling wine)--an inexpensive Spanish cava or  New Mexico Gruet (not sweet and very reasonable)--and a bit of cheese.  No need to get full before dinner.  Next comes a magnificent, golden brown chicken* roasted with lemons, basil, and huge shards of winter squash.  Just to show off, there are nearly instant--but incredibly luscious--green beans graced with lots of bright lemon zest and a splashy note of crushed red pepper. A very fast, cooked stove top, spicy cranberry sauce made with apples and lemons is an optional side and truly a contrast.  Drink a good bottle of Pinot Noir with the chicken.  (I like an Oregon Pinot Noir, which comes at several different price points:  A-Z at the lower end, Ken Wright or Adelsheim further up.  Can't find one you like or can afford?  Ask the wine shop for a middle-ground French red Côtes du Rhône. Want white?  Choose an off-dry Riesling--German or Washington state. ) Tiny individual microwaved pumpkin "pies" bring up the rear--so to speak-- with no crust necessary, though you can add a small ginger thin at the bottom of each ramekin if you'd like. Coffee  you flavor yourself with cinnamon (a sprinkle in the grounds works wonders) and a nice piece of dark chocolate--or two-- end the day in happiness.

*You might consider a slow cooker roasted chicken if that would be simpler.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

One-Pan Salmon and Kale on Brown Rice

     Confused about which fish you should buy?  Download a Monterey Bay Aquarium guide...

When Dave's gone (he's my dishwasher), I lean toward one-pan meals.  I like hearty, healthy, and satisfying potfuls that will feed me a few times.  I admit to laziness.  Evenings spent on the couch reading.  Kitchens that stay clean.

I also adore fish cooked with or in vegetables; it's one of my favorite meals for experimenting.  As long as there's enough liquid in the vegetables and pan and the vegetables are done (or nearly done) when the well-seasoned fish goes on top, the meal is usually successful.  Fish salads are next on my list; I love them, too!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Apple Pie for You and Someone Special--Just in Time for Thanksgiving When Someone Says, "Bring the Pie!"

10-inch pie for dessert ("A" is for apple) and a coffee cup pie for someone who needs one, like my grandson, Rhyan.
I'm not a big pie eater.  Well, if I'm in Santa Fe I eat coconut cream pie.  If I'm in Florida, I make cherry pie for my family and, well, I eat some. But if I'm home, I bake, but I don't eat much.  A bit of crostata.  A bit more of pumpkin once a year. Honestly, one piece at Thanksgiving and one piece the next morning for breakfast.   I make tarts for gifts and have a bite.  (Especially lemon.)   Overall, I'm a chocolate person.  And while I don't EAT a lot of pie, I certainly bake it and do taste it.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Chicken-Apple Panini with Cheddar and a Little Salad to Go With It

Cooking dinner for one or two people isn't a challenge in most ways.  Think of it:  that's what restaurants do and do so well.  They cook one chicken breast at a time,  or one piece of fish, or one chop.  Of course they may also cook all of these individual meals at once, which is why your food may occasionally take so very long.  I think what gets interesting is doing it for three meals a day--in your very own kitchen.

If I'm home and not involved in some big project, I often cook lunch for Dave for lots of reasons.  It's a kind thing to do for someone who works 60 hours a week and pays the mortgages.  Otherwise he eats peanut butter on saltines over the kitchen sink.  If I cook, he takes a break, chats with me...maybe reads the paper or plays with Tucker and Gabby.  And while sometimes I'm just cooking a big pot of something anyway, I also like the test of making quick, on-the-spot meals.  Every meal needn't be a masterpiece, but it should satisfy.

While I'm not a big sandwich eater, Dave adores them.  Sandwiches are filling, use leftovers admirably, and make a decent-sized meal without a lot of time and work.  The other day I was going out to lunch with a friend, knew there was chicken left to eat, and threw together a tasty hot sandwich and salad for him in about 10 minutes.  Try this:

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Israeli Couscous Salad

In the heat of the summer when tomatoes are lush and warm and cucumbers are cheap and numerous, I make a lot of Greek salads.  Sometimes there are lovely smoky hot peppers  and other times a few clean, green bell peppers suffice.  Feta makes an appearance if I have it.  Leftover salmon or chicken might get thrown in.  It's no longer summer, but...

The other day I saw something somewhere about Israeli salad and, while it's similar to traditional "Greek" salad, it has lots of lemon and often includes mint and/or other fresh herbs.  When I read the words, "Israeli salad," I just had to have some.  I like mine with cheese, but many people also add nuts or seeds. Some never add cheese so that the salad is pareve--doesn't contain dairy or meat-- or so that it's vegan.   Whichever way you choose, I think you'll be happy and full.

My favorite little bit about Israeli salad (which is served at many meals in Israel including breakfast) comes from legendary blogger David Lebovitz, who had Israeli food writer Maya Marom write a guest post about the salad after his return to Paris from a trip to Israel.  Maya tells us there just aren't any rules about making the salad as far as ingredients go:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

"Fried" Egg Skillet with Zucchini and Salsa

There are moments when there is definitely loveliness to sell. Sara Teasdale, right?*
As when you're moving and a neighbor shows up with great flowers and eggs from the nearby farmer-chef.

And you've just blogged eggs on spinach (again, but not the same).  And still, you go on and make yourself a breakfast/lunch/dinner incomparable that you'd like to share.  In fact, you do it two days running.

Monday, October 7, 2013

"Fried" Egg Skillet with Spinach and Salsa or Moving Needs a Great Breakfast.

 There are mornings when nothing but eggs will do and those mornings come around often at my house. Typically an egg white omelet or scramble are my choices, but lately -- in the middle of a move -- two big "fried" eggs aren't an unusual meal with a very large cup of coffee. Or three.

A week out in the move from Saint Paul back to a house we've owned for years in Colorado, I'm still emotionally up in the air and looking for comfort wherever I can find it.  "Fried" eggs are it.  ARGHHHH:/