Monday, October 25, 2010

Greek-style Lamb, Rice Pilaf, Green Beans

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), lamb, onion, and garlic are good for building yang; rice and green beans are good for Spleen qi, or digestive energy, and herbs are good for moving qi.  This meal is great for autumn, especially when you have fresh herbs handy! 


Omelets have saved our mealtimes more often than you'd think, considering how little Jim likes eggs.  As long as I can cover their taste with omelet ingredients, though, he'll eat them and even enjoy them (a little bit).  Here's yesterday work:

  • 6-8 eggs (I'm lucky enough to have occasional access to a friend's chickens, so my eggs come in all different sizes--say 6 large and 8 small, or just use 7)
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, half and half, or cream
  • 2/3 cup cooked kale, chopped finely (or spinach)
  • at least 3 cloves of garlic--some days I hate peeling them. . .if I'm energetic I'd probably use 6
  • 1/3 of a large onion, cut as finely as you can without stress
  • 1 cup feta cheese (other cheese can be substituted; adjust the quantity on the flavor of the cheese)
  • 1-3 T whatever chopped fresh herbs you have (or a few tablespoons pesto)
Allow a skillet to heat for a minute or so.  Heat the onion in a tablespoon of olive oil mixed with a tablespoon of butter over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until translucent, then add the kale and the garlic.  Meanwhile, beat the eggs with the milk, then stir in the feta cheese.  Add to the pan of kale, onion, and garlic and immediately sprinkle the herbs evenly over the egg mixture.  If you're good at it, fold the omelet over once the bottom has set; otherwise, just slowly push the omelet's edges toward the center so it doesn't stick or get too brown (unless, of course, you like it brown. . .).  Grind some pepper over everything, and salt to taste.  I like my eggs a little runny, so I usually take my half out as soon as there's no obvious liquid but a kind of creamy look to them.  Jim wants them very solid, so I let his cook until they look rubbery to me.  If I'm sticking to my attempt to avoid starches, I'll serve this with hot tea and a side veggie; if not, I'll make toast or pester Jim into making biscuits to go with it.

    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    Guest Post - Abondigas and a Scary Rich Link

    Howdy, everyone.  Jim and I haven't made anything really interesting lately (Trader Joe's made a few interesting things for us), but I've read about some interesting things I want to make.  First, a link to a scarily rich pie called Banofee Danger Pie , which is evidently very popular in Brit and Brit-derived countries other than the US.

    The recipe says to boil unopened cans of condensed milk, which is weird and frightening, but the promise is instant toffee sauce.  So if you try it and don't end up in the hospital, let me know--I love hearing about other people's experiences before risking my own life!

    Now for the recipe.  Brought to us by Kathy Shafer, who is one of the most creative women I know.  She gardens, she cooks, she crafts, she's musically gifted. . .and recently told everyone on Facebook she was making Abondigas, which I had never heard of.  It's a meatball soup.  Judging by the comments of those who have eaten it, it is at least as well-liked as Banofee Danger Pie, without boiling cans of milk.  She recommends varying the amounts based on the likes of your family, so play with the ratios of veggies to meat to seasoning as you like.  Here is the recipe she gave me, which I hope to try very soon:

    1 Soup pot

    1 onion (diced, or sliced)
    3 fresh garlic cloves
    1 bag of carrots
    4 branches of fresh cilantro (or whatever one desires)
    Bullion squares (Kosher in the International section of store)
    Follow instructions on packaging.
    Wash and prepare your veggies and place into pot with prepared bullion squares.

    1 lb ground (beef, chicken or turkey)
    1 egg for each lb of meat
    1 cup of uncooked rice for each lb of meat. (I use white long grain)
    Season with salt (I use kosher sea salt)
    Black pepper
    Now take all these ingredients and knead them together in a large mixing bowl. Mix well. Then make your meatballs.
    Carefully place the meatballs on top of veggies and prepared bullion broth. Add water and seasoning if needing more. Cover.
    Bring to a roaring bowl and skim the top of water to remove fat and egg deposits. Reduce hit to medium high heat. After carrots are soft, serve hot. We us lemon wedges to cut the excess fat in the soup. Optional: fresh corn tortillas warmed up and rolled in hand as a substitute for bread or biscuits.

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    One Layer Tropical Upside Down Cake

    It's a rainy, cold day here at Chez Green.  Something cozy seemed in order, something to serve with hot tea.  I started out with a simple yellow cake from Mark Bittman's wonderful book How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food, but Jim started yelling ideas in from the den, and then I added to those.  The cake is still based on "Golden Layer Cake" from Bittman's book, and was limited by what I had in the pantry (if I had planned the cake, I would have added coconut, used pecans instead of walnuts, and mixed the pineapple into the batter and frosted it with a cream cheese frosting).  I only made one layer because there's only 2 of us in the house, and my layer cakes always look tired and a little drunk.  It's not out of the oven yet, so I'll give you taste details and a picture then.  If it looks awful, it will probably become a trifle!

    •  5 T softened butter
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour 
    • 1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling on the pineapple (I always find cake recipes come out too sweet.  If you don't find that, add up to another 1/3 cup sugar)
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 t baking powder
    • 1/4 t baking soda
    • 1/8 t salt
    • 1/4 c milk (I use half and half because that's all we had in the house)
    • 1/4 cup passion fruit juice
    • 1/2-1 c walnuts
    • most of a 20-oz can of pineapple tidbits (if I'd had rings, I would have used them)
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Butter a 9-in cake pan, then put a piece of waxed paper on it and butter that as well.  Too late, I realized Bittman's recipe also said to flour said pan, so you might want to do that also.  Drain the pineapple, and arrange the pineapple on the bottom of the cake pan.  Sprinkle a tiny amount of sugar on the pineapple in hopes of making it caramelize real pretty.

    Beat the butter, then add the sugar and mix until creamy.  Add the eggs.  In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.  Don't do what I did in my enthusiasm and add the walnuts now.  Save them until the end.  Add to the egg mixture alternating first with the passion fruit juice, then with the milk, until blended.  Don't mix the juice and the milk together, or the juice will curdle the milk.  Add them to the batter separately.  Add the walnuts and stir everything just until mixed.

    Gently pour the cake batter into the cake pan.  If by some weird chance you have batter leftover, pour into a small loaf pan or cupcake pan, or give it to an enthusiastic spoon licker.  Tap the cake on the counter a little to settle it, and bake it for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

    I'll pop pictures in, no matter how terrifying, when it's out of the oven.  The batter tasted great.

    Sunday, October 17, 2010


    Pesto can be the base of all kinds of tasty meals.  A few spoonfuls thinned with pasta cooking water makes a simple spaghetti.  Rub some on chicken breasts and bake for a great chicken dish.  Add a few spoonfuls to spaghetti sauce for an instant upgrade in flavor.  Spread some on Italian bread and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese for an impromptu pizza.  Or just put some in a bowl and lay some bread straws or crackers beside it for a quick hors d'oeuvre.  Here's the on-the-fly recipe I used for my pesto, with a few ways to change it in parentheses: