28 January 2008

minestrone alla genovese

Here is the recipe of this famous soup from Genoa.....no pictures, sorry, maybe in the future...


1 onion
100 gr. Beans (the kind is Borlotti)
150 gr. String Beans
3 potatoes
2 eggplants
200 gr. Zucchini
300 gr. Cabbages
200 gr. Season vegetables (like Swiss chard)
25 gr. Dried mushrooms
2 spoons of extra virgin olive oil
200 gr. Pasta (the little one that in Italy is called BRICCHETTI)
50 gr. PESTO (see the former recipe)


Clean all vegetables and put on the stove a pot with salted water. When it boils put in the pot all the vegetables that you have previously cut into little pieces.
Let the dried mushrooms soak then twist them and put them into the soup.
Cook with at a low fire for an hour or so. Add the pasta and let it cook. Take the pot off the stove and add the pesto (that you have previously watered). Stir and serve with parmesan cheese. (If you don’t like the vegetables in pieces, before adding the pasta, you can use the mix blender to smooth the soup).
Good luck!!!

19 January 2008

Roasted Veggie Enchiladas

Ciel and I made these for a dinner party while I was home. It was a big project, but really fun, and very rewarding. We got the recipe from a great cookbook that Ciel's mom gave to my mom: Everyday Greens: Home Cooking from Greens, the Celebrated Vegetarian Restaurant. They turned out delicious, and even my grandparents said they didn't know vegetarian food could be so tasty!
Left: Enchilada assemblage.


  • 1 large onion
  • 2 large red peppers, diced, about 2 cups
  • 1/2 lb white mushrooms, quartered, about 2 cups
  • 1 medium zucchini diced, about 1.5 cups
  • 1/2 small butternut squash, cut in to small cubes, about 2 cups
  • olive or veggie oil
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 Tbsp whole cumin seeds, toasted then crushed into a powder
  • Salt
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/4 lb. smoked cheese, grated, about 1 cup
  • 1/4 lb. dry jack cheese, grated, about 1 1/4 cup
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 dozen corn tortillas
  • 1 can enchilada sauce
  • 1 can mole sauce
  • chipotle peppers, canned in abodo sauce

Preheat oven to 400°F.
Toss the veggies in large bowl with the oil, garlic, cumin and 1/2 tsp salt. Spread the veggies on two baking sheets and roast for 15 minutes, turn, and roast until tender, about another 10 minutes. Return veggies to bowl, and season with a very finely chopped chipotle pepper and some of it's tomato sauce. Adjust according to spiciness desire. You may also sautèe some poplanos and add them to the mix, it gives great flavor. Add the rest of the herbs and salt and pepper to taste.
Reduce oven temp to 375°F
Combine cheeses, reserve 1/2 cup for garnish.
Pour about 1/4 inch oil in to skillet and heat until just below smoking point. Using tongs, dip a tortilla in the oil for just a couple seconds. Place on a paper towl to drain oil. Repeat with rest of tortillas.
Mix together your enchilada and mole sauce, or make your own. Pour 3 cups on the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Place some veggies in the center of each tortilla and sprinkle with cheese. Roll 'em up tightly, making sure the filling extends to both ends, and lay in the dish- seam side down. When they're all rolled, ladle enough sauce over them to cover completely.
Cover with foil and bake until they're bubbling, about 25 minutes. Sprinkle with the reserved cheese and serve.

*NOTE: You can roast the veggies, make the filling and grate the cheese in advance. Assemble enchilada rolls and place in pan about 2 hours before serving, but wait to pour the sauce over them until right before they go in the oven.

16 January 2008

Spicy Winter Stew

Confidence is not always my strong suit, but when it comes to cooking I consider myself (relatively) fearless. Roast a chicken? No problem. Dinner for 20? Can do. As long as I have a recipe to generally keep myself on track, I'm ready to tackle most anything in the kitchen. Lately, however, I have realized that I generally stick to my comfort zone when it comes to flavors--Italian or Mexican spices, usually. Several attempts at Asian-style dishes have flopped, not to mention a couple of nose-drippingly hot but otherwise flavorless curries. Not to be deterred, I've decided 2008 will be a year to branch out in the kitchen, a chance to explore beyond the basil and garlic. The recipe that follows, a Moroccan-inspired vegetable stew, is, I think, a great way to kick it off.
This recipe was written as a slow-cooker meal, but I made it on the stove top with good results. I'll include instructions for both below. I served it with brown rice with lemon juice, lemon zest, chopped toasted almonds and parsley.
Also, though it's a great vegetarian dish, meat-o-philes might want to explore adding lamb or serving it on the side. I also think it would be a good side for some kind of simply prepared firm, white fish. If you like thinks really spicy, try adding a tiny bit more of the dried spices than the recipe calls for.

Spicetastic Moroccan Stew

(inspired by Susan Sugarman), serves 6

2 tbs. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 cups veg. or chicken broth
2.5 cups cauliflower florets (about 1/2 large head)
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch rounds
2 cups cubed winter squash (kabocha or butternut are great, acorn would be ok too)
1/2 cup diced onion
1 14.5 oz can diced or stewed tomatoes (I used a bigger can with fine results)
1 can garbanzos, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup dried currants or raisins

Slow-Cooker Prep:
Heat olive oil in a frying pan over med/low heat. Add garlic and spices and cook, stirring, until fragrant (1-2 minutes only, don't burn). Scrape into a slow cooker, add all other ingredients and cook on high until vegetables are tender, 8 to 9 hours.
Stove-top Prep:
Like all soupy things, I think this dish tastes best if given time for the flavors to meld. Make it in the morning or early afternoon if you're going to serve it for dinner.
Get out your heaviest soup pot (I used by cast iron dutch oven)--the whole dish will be cooked in this one pot. Cook garlic and spices as above, then add onion and cook a few minutes more. Add all the rest of the ingredients and simmer, covered over lowish heat for about an hour. Turn off the heat and let it sit until about an hour before you want to serve it, then fire up the heat again (low). Taste, and serve!

14 January 2008

A Squash Story

This winter I discovered squash. If you are familiar with my culinary methods at all, you know that when I say "discovered" I mean "became obsessively infatuated with..." I've made squash and pumpkin soups, pies, dips, spreads and purèes. I've baked, broiled, boiled, roasted, sautèed, browned, creamed and steamed it. In short, it was a delicious winter romance, and to think, it all started with a giant zucca from Genoa.
There is not a wide array of squash in Italy, my supermarket has only one drab variety of zucca. Vegetable vendors sell the zucca mantovana, which is sweeter and much more flavorful than the generic version, and every so often I run across a butternut squash as well. So, not surprisingly, I haven't been enthusiastic about exploring squash recipes since I've been over here. One time, however, I was at the fabulous Mercato Orientale in Genoa, and ran across the biggest, most beautiful zucca mantovana I'd ever seen. I had never cooked much with squash before, but it's bulbous belly and gleaming green skin charmed me. I immediately bought it, without considering the fact I was on foot, and about 3 miles from home. The thing weighed 20 lbs and was 3 times the size of my head. Between the monster squash and my various other provisions, I could barely hobble out of the market to hail a cab.
When I finally did get it home, I had no idea what to do with the monstrosity. It monopolized my fridge for about a week, looking less like a friendly squash and more like a menacing, overweight goblin. I was no less intimidated when I lugged it on the the counter- it completely dwarfed my cutting board, and made my largest, sharpest cleaver look like a butter knife. Several hours later, I had succeeded in carving the goblin, and was ready to embark on my winter-long affair.
The first thing I made was Nisa's fabulous Roasted Butternut-Pear Soup. Then I roasted the seeds, several ways. Then I made soup again, with variations. Then I made pumpkin pie. Then I experimented with risottos, which ended up being the most delicious variation. The list goes on, and so does the romance.

Delicious Roasted Butternut Risotto:


Arborio or other risotto rice (about 1/3 or 1/2 cup per person)
1 butternut squash
1-2 yellow or white onions
2 cloves or more garlic
1 Tbsp finely diced, fresh rosemary
1/2 cup white wine
broth or bouillon
Parmesan cheese

Peel, de-seed and cut the butternut in to 1 inch cubes. Toss in a roasting pan with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast it in the oven at 375° for 20-30 minutes or until it is soft when poked with fork, and starts to turn a darker golden. Remove and set aside to cool. When it's cooled off a bit, throw it in a food processor and whip it up.
While the squash is roasting, start your risotto: Bring broth to a simmer and keep at a bare simmer, covered. Process the onions, garlic and the finely diced rosemary using an immersion blender or food processor until they turn to finely diced mush. Toss the mix in your favorite risotto pan* with some olive oil and a slab of butter. Sautèe for about 5 minutes.
Add your rice (about 1/3 to 1/2 c. per person), and toast it for a minute, stirring to make sure it doesn't stick. Add the wine and let it sizzle and pop for a minute.
Stir in 1/2 cup simmering broth and cook at a strong simmer, stirring frequently, until broth is absorbed. Continue simmering and adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition be mostly absorbed before adding the next.
After about 8 minutes, add the squash-mush. You don't want to add too much (it's not soup) just use your judgement. You want it to be flavorful and a rich, pretty color, but not to overwhelm the rice. Continue adding broth until rice is creamy-looking but still al dente, about 18 minutes total, depending on the rice (check out the instructions on the box). When the rice is done, add some freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a chunk of butter. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir, then cover the pot and let sit for about 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy thoroughly.

*a good risotto pan should be wider than it is tall, with a thick base. Non-stick is ideal, but whatever you have will work.

08 January 2008

Coming soon... A post!

Hi folks. I have not abandoned the blog. I have been travelling the globe, absorbing all sorts of inspiration to chew on. I am back at home and work after a fabulous trip to the states which warmed my heart and filled my belly. Thank you all for the great memories. I am definitey going to post those roasted veggie enchiladas from the dinner party at my folks' house, as well as a to-DIE-for butternut squash risotto I created upon my return to Italy... So stay tuned!