Friday, August 07, 2020


Picadillo is a South American dish usually consisting of ground beef with tomato, olives, raisins and almonds.  I don't know where I first heard of it but I first started making it in my mid twenties and I'm pretty sure I just winged it armed only with the knowledge that it was made with beef and contained olives, raisins and almonds.  I have no idea how close to authentic my recipe is but it's mighty tasty.

If you don't have all of the ingredients on hand you can easily improvise.  I did not have any green pepper as called for in the recipe when I made this pictured version so I substituted red pepper and it worked out fine.  The masa I was going to use for the sopes I planned to serve this with was rancid so I made polenta instead.  Picadillo goes well with refried black beans.
Home Cookin v9.81 Chapter: My Recipes
2 Tbsp grapeseed oil
1 med onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 lb. ground beef
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried chilies, or to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup roughly chopped green olives
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup slivered almonds

Green onions and cilantro for garnish

Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion, season with salt, and cook for two minutes. Add the garlic and green pepper and cook until the onion is translucent, three or four more minutes.

Add the tomato paste and stir to ix it in with the vegetables. Cook for a couple of minutes until the color has deepend. Add the cumin and cook for a minute, stirring constantly.

Add the ground beef, oregano and dried peppers. Season with more salt and brown thoroughly, breaking it up so there are no clumps and it is thoroughly mixed into the vegetable mixture. If the mixture becomes too dry, add water in small amounts at a time.

Once the meat has browned add the olives and raisins and cook until heated through and the raisins have plumped some. Remove from the heat and add the almonds.

Garnish with chopped green onions and cilantro.


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Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Baking Class: Buttermilk Corn Griddle Cakes

Fresh corn straight from the farm is my favorite vegetable and I am always so excited to start making my favorite summer dishes with it and this year is no different now that I have my first ears of corn.  I adapted this recipe for corn griddle cakes years ago from a Two Fat Ladies recipe. These fluffy buttermilk pancakes literally pop with the flavor of the fresh corn kernels inside. I eat them with a little butter and pure maple syrup and they are incredibly delicious.

These can be made with canned or frozen corn but I highly recommend that you use fresh for the flavor and the crispy crunch of each kernel.  Normally I would get my corn from Smits Farm at the Green City Market in Lincoln Park but due to Covid 19 I am having it delivered from Irv & Shelly's Fresh Picks service.  They support and partner with local farms to deliver fresh produce over the Chicago area.  They have made it possible for me to eat farm-fresh produce this whole season!

Home Cookin v9.81 Chapter: Breads and Muffins
1 cup plain flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup fresh corn kernels cut from the cob
1 egg, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
2 Tbsp grapeseed or canola oil

Combine the dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and sift everything together.

Combine the beaten egg, corn, and buttermilk in a small bowl and mix together well. Add to the flour mixture and just stir everythying together. Add the oil and mix once again.

Preheat the oven to the lowest degree possible and place an oven-proof plate on the middle rack. Heat a griddle or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. It is ready when a drop of water thrown onto the surface sizzles and evaporates immediately.

For small cakes, spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons onto the hot surface. For a larger cake pour 1/3 cup of the batter onto the surface. Cook until bubbles show on the surface, about two to three minutes, then turn the cakes over and cook the other sides until golden brown, about one more minute. Remove from the griddle and place on the plate in the oven while cooking the rest of the cakes.

Serve with maple syrup or topping of choice.

Adapted from a recipe from The Two Fat Ladies

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Monday, August 03, 2020

Salsa Picante

I grew up eating pickled jalapeƱos on pretty much all of the Mexican food we ate when I was a kid, which was surprisingly not often given that I grew up in Texas. I did not like them and thought it was the heat I did not like so I avoided spicy food like the plague. And then I discovered fresh serrano peppers and loved the fresh heat and flavor of them. And that's when I realized that not all peppers are alike and that it was the taste of the pickled jalapeƱo I did not like as much as it was the heat. I got this recipe for salsa picante from coworkers at the Austin Public Library years ago and have been making it ever since. I put it on top of just about everything, but I always reserve a bowl to eat with fritos, which for some reason go really well with it; I think that's because that is what ate it with way back then when I first started making it. However you use it, you will be so happy that you made it!
Home Cookin v9.81 Chapter: Appetizers Spreads Dips Sauces
1 28-oz can whole stewed tomatoes
4 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
5 to 10 serrano peppers, to taste, roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro, roughly chopped
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp crushed oregano
2 to 3 roma tomatoes, finely chopped
4 to 6 green onions, finely chopped
more fresh cilantro for garnish

Drain the juice from the can of tomatoes into a blender or food processor. Add the garlic, peppers, cilantro, salt and olive oil. Pulse until the peppers are just chopped. Pour the mixture into a large bowl.

Put the drained canned tomatoes in the blender and add the oregano. Pulse until the tomatoes are just chopped. Pour into the bowl with the tomato and pepper mixture and stir everything together well.

Add the finely chopped tomatoes and green onion. Adjust seasoning to taste.

from friends/coworkers at the Austin Public Library some time in the mid '70s

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Friday, July 31, 2020

Fennel Frond Pesto

The fennel bulbs I get from a local farm usually have a massive amount of fronds on them.  I usually will use the few on the trimmed store-bought ones for garnish but there was so much on these that I knew there must be something I could do with them.  A quick online search led me to fennel frond pesto.  I had all of the ingredients - the fronds, pumpkin seeds, lemon, garlic, salt and pepper and olive oil - so I whipped up a batch.

The result is grassy and fragrant and you can taste the green with just a hint of that lovely licorice flavor.  It goes well with pasta, vegetables, meat and fish, and pretty much anything else you can think of using.
Home Cookin v9.81 Chapter: Appetizers Spreads Dips Sauces
4 packed cups chopped fennel fronds (from two bulbs)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more as needed
salt and pepper to taste
juice of 1 lemon

Place all the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor. Process everything together into a rough paste, then with the blade running drizzle in the olive oil until you it has reached the desired consistency.

Adjust the seasoning as desired.

Adapted from recipe found at

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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Eggs in a Basket

This dish has many names; I grew up calling it Eggs in a Basket. You cut a circle in a slice of bread and cook an egg in it. I never particularly cared for the idea of it until I tried it with focaccia. The thickness and sturdiness of it made it a great vehicle for a fried egg.

The finished dish is a cross between french toast, grilled cheese, and a fried egg sandwich.  The best of all three worlds.  It starts with the focaccia browning in a skillet and once the eggs have been added it is finished under the broiler.  It does not take long to put together and the result makes it so worthwhile.

The trick is to cook the egg until the top has just begun to set, then add the cheeses and put them under the broiler.  That is the way to get that nice runny yolk most of us love.

But if you don't like a runny yolk you can just leave it under the broiler until they have set completely before you add the cheese.

It is delicious either way.

Home Cookin v9.81 Chapter: Meat Fish and Eggs
1 Tbsp butter or olive oil
2 slices stale focaccia
2 large eggs
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded gruyere or cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Cut slightly oval circles in the focaccia with a sharp knife. Save the cut out portions.

Melt the butter or olive oil over medium high heat in a large cast iron or nonstick skillet. Add the focaccia and the cut out ovals, top side down, and cook until they are brown and toasty. Turn everything over. Add more butter or oil inside the holes in the focaccia if necessary.

Crack an egg into each oval and turn the heat down to medium low. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for two to three minutes, until the bottoms of the eggs have set.

Turn on the broiler and set it to low if you have that option. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Move the egg-filled pieces to the baking sheet and place them under the broiler. Keep an eye on oval pieces still in the skillet and remove them when they are nice and browned on the bottoms.

Cook the eggs until the tops have just set but are still slightly wobbly. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and spread half of the gruyere or cheddar over each piece, followed by the Parmigiano Reggiano. Place it back under the broiler until the cheese has melted and is nice and bubbly.


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Monday, July 27, 2020

Corn and Black Bean Salad

It's not summer for me until I have made my first corn and black bean salad using farm fresh corn and tomatoes.  I cook the beans from dried organic sprouted but you can use canned if you prefer.  It takes just a few minutes to put it all together and it tastes so fresh and summery.

I generally just eyeball the ingredients so please feel free to adjust any of the amounts as you wish.  It will be just as delicious!  You might be tempted to put more herbs or spices in there but the lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, salt and pepper are all you really need to make the corn and black beans shine.
Home Cookin v9.81 Chapter: Beans and Vegetables
3 cups black beans, cooked and drained (or 2 14.5-oz cans, rinsed and drained)
3 cups sweet corn (fresh is best but can use frozen or canned)
1/4 of red onion (1/4 to 1/2 cup, depending on taste), diced
1 fresh serrano pepper, finely chopped (and deseeded if you want less heat)
2 cloves garlic, crushed or grated
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, or to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Combine the beans, corn, onion, pepper, garlic and tomatoes in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add the lime and olive oil and mix well. Stir in the cilantro then season to taste with the salt and pepper.


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Monday, July 20, 2020

Baking Class: Sourdough Starter Pancakes

I keep my sourdough starter on the small side so I don't have a huge buildup of discard but every few weeks I have enough to make something and I am always looking for ways to use it.  These sourdough starter pancakes were the first thing I ever made with my discard and they are in my regular rotation now.  They work as a savory or sweet dish; here I served them with fried eggs and pure maple syrup and they were delicious.
Home Cookin v9.81 Chapter: Breads and Muffins
120g (app 1 cup) sourdough discard
120g (app 1 cup) all-purpose flour
120g (app 1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
1 egg
2 Tbsp sugar (optional, I usually omit it)
2 Tbsp oil, plus more for greasing the griddle/pan
3 + Tbsp buttermilk, milk or other liquid, as needed
1 tsp baking soda

Mix the discard, flour and water and let sit until bubbles form.  Add the egg, oil, and sugar if using and mix together.  Add the buttermilk, milk or other liquid in small increments mixing just enough to incorporate it into the batter, until it is just think enough to pour easily without spreading too mucy.  The amount needed will vary depending on the thickness of your starter.

Preheat the oven to the lowest temperature and put an oven-proof plate on the middle rack.  Heat a griddle over medium heat. Pour in about a teaspoon of oil and spread it over the surface.   Once the griddle is hot (you can test it by sprinkling a drop of water onto the surface.  If it sizzles and burns away quickly the griddle is hot).  Pour the batter in 1/4-cup increments and cook until bubbles have formed on the surface and the edges look dry, two to three minutes.  Flip and cook until golden on the bottom, 30 seconds to one minute more.

As the pancakes are done store them on the warm plate in the oven until ready to serve.  If you are not serving them right away remove them from the oven when they are all made and cover with a towel to keep them warm.

adapted from recipe found at

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Monday, July 13, 2020

DIY Condiments: Make Your Own Peanut Butter

Here is the recipe for making your own peanut butter.  Pay attention as it is incredibly complicated and you are liable to make many mistakes.

Place a pound of peeled roasted peanuts into the bowl of your food processor.*
Process for about four to five minutes until you have peanut butter.  If you are adding salt, start with 1/4 teaspoon and add it while the peanuts are processing after about three minutes.

*If you want to make chunky peanut butter, remove 1/4 cup of the peanuts and chop them to your desired consistency and then add them in at the end.

That's it.  Don't screw it up!

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Pimento Cheese Spread

I have always loved pimento cheese spread but the store-bought version always had a sickly sweet aftertaste that got more pronounced for me as I ate less and less processed foods.  And then I tasted a friend's home made version and it was pure cheesy pimento goodness without that residual sweetness. I have made it myself ever since.  It is ridiculously easy.  You can even buy the cheeses already shredded.

These days I also make my own mayonnaise, but that does not mean that you have to do the same.
Home Cookin v9.80 Chapter: My Recipes
4 oz shredded Cheddar cheese
4 oz shredded Gruyere cheese
2 oz jar pimentos, with juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
dash of cayenne
1/4 cup mayonnaise, less or more to taste

Mix the cheeses, pimento, Dijon mustard and cayenne together. Add about half of the mayonnaise and stir to combine, then add more as needed to reach desired consistency.

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Monday, July 06, 2020

Pinto Beans Rancheros

I have been making this dish for years now.  It is simple and quick and hearty and delicious.  I use dried beans but canned beans work just as well.  It goes well with plain brown or white rice, cilantro lime rice, polenta, and tacos or burritos.  Fry up some eggs on top of it and you even have a Mexican style shakshuka.
Home Cookin v9.80 Chapter: Beans and Vegetables
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
4 - 5 cloves garlic, minced
1 pickled jalapeno, or to taste
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried leaf oregano
3 cups cooked pinto beans, from dried or canned (rinsed and drained)
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnishing
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a four-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for a minute, then add the minced garlic and jalapeno. Saute until the onions are translucent, about five minutes. Add the cumin and stir it in for a minute to let it bloom.

Add the beans, tomatoes, and cilantro. Crush the oregano between your fingers and sprinkle it over the mixture. Season to taste with the salt and pepper and mix everything together.

Bring to a simmer then cover and lower the heat. Cook for 30 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro.

Can be served over Cilantro Lime Rice, Polenta, or sopes.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Spaghetti with Cashew Sauce and Veggies

Here's a dish I whipped up the other night for a quick dinner.  It's rich and creamy without cream and would be completely vegan without the Pecorino Romano sprinkled over the top.

It is also versatile.  You can use any vegetables you have on hand, adjusting the cooking time for fresh versus frozen.

I am loving this cashew spread and finding many uses for it.
Home Cookin v9.79 Chapter: Grains Pasta and Potatoes

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried thyme
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup sweet cooking sherry, vegetable broth, or water
1 10-oz pack frozen sliced carrots, thawed
1 10-oz pack frozen broccoli pieces, thawed
1 batch Cashew Spread
vegetable broth or water as needed
1 lb spaghetti
grated Pecorino Romano cheese, for garnish
chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Fill a large pot with water and put it over a medium low flame on the stove. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the sliced onions and cook for a minute, then add the minced the garlic. Cook, stirring frequently and lowering the heat if necessary, until the onions are translucent, about five minutes.

Add the mushrooms and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until they have softened and released some of their moisture. Add the sherry or other liquid and continue cooking until the liquid has cooked off.

Add the carrots and broccoli and stir everything together. Cook for another five minutes or so, until the vegetables are heated through.

Add the cashew spread and enough of the broth or water to thin it to the desired consistency for pasta sauce. Turn the heat as low as possible to keep it warm, stirring and adding more liquid occasionally as needed.

Raise the heat under the large pot and bring the water to a boil. Add salt and cook the spaghetti according to the package directions.

Serve the sauce over the pasta, then cover generously with the grated cheese, followed by the chopped parsley.

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Monday, March 30, 2020

Eggplant Parmesan

This Eggplant Parmesan recipe is the very first recipe I ever created on my own and I am quite proud of it.  I basically adapted it from my mother's lasagna recipe and substituted eggplant for the lasagna noodles.  The type and quality of the ingredients has changed over the years (the original recipe called for cottage cheese as we did not even know that ricotta cheese existed, and the parmesan cheese came from that green shaker) but the base has remained the same.

You can make the tomato sauce up to three days ahead (or more, if you freeze it).  Some people salt their eggplant and leave it to macerate for a while to remove any bitterness but I have not found that to be necessary.  Your mileage may vary.

The recipe is also versatile.  Don't have or don't like eggplant? You can use zucchini or potatoes instead.  Sometimes I'll throw mushrooms on top of the eggplant.  And if nothing else, you can use pasta and call it lasagna!

It is a great dish to make for a large group.  I always get compliments when I serve it.  You will, too!

Home Cooking v9.76 Chapter: Beans and Vegetables
1 batch Italian Style Tomato Sauce
1 large eggplant, sliced crosswise 1/8" thick
1 lb ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb mozarrela cheese, grated
1/2 cup parmigiano regiano cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Spread a large spoonful of the sauce on the bottom of a 15" x 9.5" baking dish. Arrange eggplant slices in a single layer over the sauce. Spread one third of the ricotta mixture over the eggplant and then spread one third of the tomato sauce over that. Repeat two more times, with the top layer being the shredded mozarella cheese.

Cover and bake for one hour. Remove the cover and sprinkle the parmigiano regiano over the top and bake uncovered for another half hour, or until the cheese is golden and the eggplant is completely tender.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Italian Style Tomato Sauce

I have been making this tomato sauce for years but I have never posted the recipe.  What makes it special is the grated carrot that I add.  It gives the sauce a little more body and sweetness that makes folks wonder what there is about it that makes it so good.  At some point a few years ago I got lazy about grating the carrot and stopped adding it.  The sauce was still tasty, but not as good as it could and should have been.  So lately I have been adding it back in and all is right with the world.

This sauce can be used for anything but it is especially delicious when used in casseroles like lasagna and eggplant parmagiana.  But it is equally delicious over pasta with a generous sprinkling of Parmigiana Reggiano over it.  It can be refrigerated for several days and freezes especially well.
Home Cookin v9.76 Chapter: My Recipes
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, grated
6 oz can tomato paste
24-1/2 oz jar passata or tomato sauce
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomato
1 Tbsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook for aminute, then add the garlic. Cook until the onion is just translucent. Add the grated carrot and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the tomato paste and cook for a minute, stirring constantly, then add the passata, tomato, and the spices. Add a cup of water and stir everyihing together. Bring to a low simmer and cook, uncovered, until the sauce has thickened and turned dark, for at least an hour up to two hours. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning to taste.

1 March 2020

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Monday, March 09, 2020

Mediterranean Style Baked Tofu

I've been baking with a lot of tofu lately, mostly with an Asian profile.  As soon as I got the idea to try it with Mediterranean flavors I knew I was on to something.  It's rare that I get a new recipe right on the first try but I pretty much hit it out of the ballpark with this.

The key to the dish's success, as with most tofu dishes, is to be sure to marinate it for at least a few hours before you make the dish.  The longer it marinates, the more flavor soaks up into the tofu.

If you're looking for new ways to enjoy you should give this a try.  I think you will be quite happy with the results.
Home Cooking v9.76 Chapter: Beans and Vegetables
For Marinade:
1 pound extra firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 13.5 oz cans artichoke hearts in water
6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon crushed dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 pound sliced mushrooms
1 to 2 cups Castelvetrano or other green olives with pits
1/2 large fennel bulb, sliced
1/2 red pepper, sliced
1/2 yellow pepper, sliced
2 large shallots, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

Combine the first nine ingredients in a large plastic bag and make sure everything is well coated with the olive oil and spices. Place in the refrigerator and let marinate for at least a few hours or overnight.

Remove the tofu mixture from the refrigerator about half an hour before you are ready to get started and preheat the oven to 375° F.

Combine the rest of the vegetables in a large bowl and add the marinated tofu and artichoke hearts. Add the olive oil and sat and gently mix everything together until everything is well coated with the mixture from the marinated tofu and artichoke hearts. Pour into a 13 x 9 inch pan (you might also need an additional smaller pan depending on how big the vegetables were). Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and lower the heat to 350° F. and bake another 30 minutes, until everything is tender.


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Monday, February 03, 2020

Braised Red Cabbage and Pasta Bake

I found this recipe in a vegetarian pasta cookbook that was lurking in my sister-in-law's cookbook shelf and decided to try it.  It turned out well.  The pine nuts and raisins add an unusual dimension to the flavor profile and the melted cheese brings it all together.

You can cook the cabbage and onion mixture ahead of time.  Just leave out the raisins and add them with the pine nuts just before baking.

It works as either a main or a side dish.  If I am feeding a lot of vegetarians I will double the recipe.  And the leftovers are equally delicious so you can't lose either way.

Home Cookin v9.76 Chapter: Grains Pasta and Potatoes

1/2 pound any short pasta
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp thyme
1 medium head red cabbage, chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2-1/4 cups grated cheddar or gruyere cheese

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Cook the pasta al dente according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onion, garlic and thyme and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the cabbage and raisins and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook until the cabbage is shiny and well coated with the butter and oil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for another ten minutes until the cabbage has softened. Add the ditalista and the pine nuts and mix well.

Transfer the mixture to a 9 x 12 baking dish. Top with the grated cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the cheese has browned. Serve immediately.

Note: The cabbage and onion mixture can be cooked up to twoe days ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook the pasta and assemble the dish.

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Monday, January 13, 2020

Eggplant and Cinnamon Pasta Sauce

I first made this Cinnamon Eggplant Pasta Sauce back in 2016.  It is a lovely departure from pasta with a more Italian style tomato sauce.  I adapted it from a couple of recipes I found online.  It comes together quickly and makes a hearty dinner for those weeknights when you don't feel like spending a lot of time in the kitchen but want something that will stick to your bones.  It also freezes well.

I served it over linguine here but it also goes well with orzo, and any other pasta for that matter.
Home Cooking 7.96 Chapter: Appetizers Spreads Dips Sauces
1 medium chopped onion
4-5 cloves minced garlic
1 medium eggplant, quartered and sliced 1/4-1/2" thick
28 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch rosemary
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent. Add the eggplant and salt and saute until tender, about 10 minutes.

Add tomatoes, cinnamon and rosemary. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove cover and allow liquid the to reduce, about 20 more minutes.

Serve over pasta.


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Monday, January 06, 2020

Red Lentil Dal with Cumin Seeds

I made my first red lentil (masoor) dal almost a decade ago.  It was delicious and flavored with many of the spices I have come to associate with Indian food.

In the interim years I have fallen victim to the idea that every Indian dish I make should have all of the spices I associate with Indian food in them.  Everything I have made is delicious, but it has all tended to taste the same.  So when my friend @virg.o121 on Instagram offered me her recipe for dal I must admit I was skeptical, as the only spices in it were turmeric, red chili, and cumin seeds.

But she was kind enough to share it with me, so I decided to make it.  And am I glad I did!  This recipe brought home to me how less is often so much more when it comes to food.  The lentils have a simple but surprisingly complex flavor and the cumin really shines!

It went together well with cilantro lime rice and would also be good with chapatis or roti.  And it comes together quickly for a fast weeknight meal.

Home Cookin v9.76 Chapter: Beans and Vegetables
1 cup red lentils
1 Tbsp grapeseed oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove grated or crushed garlic
1 medium tomato, chopped, or 1 Tbsp tomato paste
cayenne to taste
salt to taste
1/3 tsp turmeric
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Combine the red lentils with enough water to cover by three inches in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then simmer over medium-low heat until tender, about 20 minutes.

When the lentils are done heat the oil over medium-high heat in a medium sized skillet. When the oil is hot add the cumin and let sizzle for about a minute, until it starts to crackle. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and golden.

Add the tomato/tomato past along with the salt, cayenne and turmeric. Saute for several seconds to bloom the spices.

Add the onion and spice miture to the red lentils and let it simmer until it reaches the desired consistency, adding water as necessary. Keep in mind that it will thicken once removed from the heat.

Remove from the heat and add the chopped cilantro.

recipe by instagrammer @virg_o12

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