30 January 2010

Mama's Minestrone

So maybe this recipe isn't a Jill Mason original, but when I eat minestrone soup, I think of my mom. Growing up there were a few of my mom's cooking creations I loved most (I'm surely omitting several here): her spinach lasagna, salmon cakes, creamy potato and leek soup, sauteed okra, tofu stir-fry and minestrone soup. Ok, to be completely truthful, I believe Mom more often made a simple vegetable soup, rather than minestrone – but she recently has been making this recipe. And change can be good.

I like enjoying the soup right off the stove, but also love eating it cold out of the fridge the following day(s). I plan to make the soup tomorrow and hope to post some (authentic) photos then... Reading through the recipe makes me think I may adjust the timing/order of when certain veggies are added after preparing it myself... Stay tuned!

Recipe from Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food:

(Prepared as the Fall version with Kale & Butternut Squash)

1 cup dried cannellini or borlotti beans (will have to post the how-to later)
This will yield 2 1/2 to 3 cups of cooked beans. Reserve the cooking liquid.
Heat in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 finely chopped celery stalks
Cook for 15 minutes or until tender/rich golden brown. Add:
1 bunch kale, stemmed, washed, and chopped
1 small can of tomatoes (my mom adds more), drained and chopped
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped sage
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons salt
Cook for 5 minutes longer. Add, and bring to a boil:
3 cups water
When boiling, add:
1 small leek, diced
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
Continue cooking until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Taste for salt and adjust as necessary.
Add the cooked beans, along with:
1 cup bean cooking liquid
Cook for 5 minutes. If the soup is too thick, add more bean cooking liquid. Remove bay leaf.
Serve in bowls, each one garnished with:
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon or more grated Parmesan cheese

26 January 2010

Cheese Blintzes by Jill

I haven't made blintzes in years. It always seems a daunting task. But we celebrate Nisa's 30th birthday just once, so it seemed worth the trouble for her morning after brunch. (And they are really delicious with champagne mimosas!)
To save time I created the blintzes the day before, covered them in the fridge overnight, then just fried them that morning so they would be hot. Blintzes keep beautifully in the refrigerator, and freeze well, also. Just thaw and then fry. YUM!!
This recipe makes about 3 dozen crepes in an 8 inch crepe pan or nonstick frying pan. That feeds a lot of people (2 blintzes is an average serving), so you can easily halve this recipe.

So...here's what you need to know to create your own Jewish soul food!


Preparation: 2 hours Cooking: 30 minutes

Cheese Filling:

2 lbs farmers cheese or dry curd cottage cheese 2 tbs sugar
1/2 lb cream cheese 2 - 4 tbs cinnamon (to taste)
4 egg yolks 2 tsp grated lemon zest (optional)
salt to taste raisins (optional)

Allow cheeses to stand until room temperature. Mash with fork. Add egg yolks, salt, sugar, cinnamon, and lemon zest, and raisins (if using). Blend.

NOTE: So much of our particular tastes have to do with the way our own mother's cooked. My mother and grandmother didn't use cream cheese, so the filling was dryer. Some cooks don't use cinnamon at all. My mother-in-law always used raisins but my mother never did. So, I make some with raisins (for my husband) and some without (for me).


2 c water 8 eggs
2 c flour 3 tbs melted butter
2 tsp salt

Add water to salt and eggs. Add melted butter and flour gradually. Mix in blender or hand mixer. Let batter stand for 20 or 30 minutes. Lightly grease skillet with butter. Place skillet over a moderately high flame. Pour about a 1/4 cupful (more or less) of batter into skillet, making sure that the batter completely, but barely, covers the bottom of the skillet. Fry until the blintze begins to "blister" and the edges curl away from the skillet. The top still may be slightly moist. Turn out onto wax paper, fried side up. It may be necessary to tap the edge of the skillet against the counter to get the crepe out. The skillet must be greased slightly after each blintze is made. Make up a number of these and then put in the filling. You may need to thin the batter with a little water as it will thicken as it sits. Place a large rounded tablespoon of filling in the center of each crepe (on the browned side). Fold the blintze over the filling making a little package. Fry in a liberal amount of butter until brown on both sides. You can also brown in butter in the oven. Serve with sour cream and preserves, fruit compotes, or applesauce.


22 January 2010

Something Simple and A Challenge

Well, here I am again, doing my part to keep this little blog alive.

While savoring a delicious, healthy and quick-to-cook dinner just now, I just had to blog about it. Granted, this quinoa taco-type salad is not glamorous (certainly not when photographed mid-meal!), and won't earn me foodie points, but it's the perfect thing to make when you're (relatively) poor, hungry, and lazy like me!

I think I'm going to keep posting here this year with things I make for myself on a regular basis--foods that are easy and cheap to make but tasty and good for me too. I challenge the rest of you to post your go-to foods here, no matter how humble. I bet we all could use some everyday, real world food inspiration and I think it would be really interesting to see our collective staples.

Back to the recipe...I'm sure you already make something like this so may this simply be inspiration for you to pull out that jar of quinoa, can-o-beans, and whatever veggies are sadly mouldering in your fridge and get to cookin. This made enough for a generous dinner for two, plus a little extra quinoa. All measures and ingredients are totally variable so get creative and make this fit your personal tastes and needs.

A quinoa-esque version of Taco Salad

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water

about 1 tsp canola oil
half an onion, diced
one carrot, diced
about half a can of black beans, rinsed (you can freeze the rest for the next taco salad night)
maybe half a teaspoon ground cumin
two shakes of dried oregano
lettuce, shredded (I used two large romaine leaves)
one avocado, sliced
your favorite salta (I use Herdez salsa casera, my fave from a can)
cheddar cheese (or other cheese you like)
salt to taste

Rinse the quinoa in a strainer under running water until it's no longer foamy and place in a medium pot. Add the water to the pot and bring to a boil then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the canola oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. When the oil is hot add the onion and saute for a few minutes until starting to soften. Add carrot as well as cumin and oregano. Saute until just soft and then add the beans, stirring until it's hot (I also added some salsa for flavor). When it's all heated and cooked thoroughly, remove from heat and cover until ready to eat.

To serve, top a serving of quinoa with spoonfuls of the beans and veggies and then grate cheese over it to taste. Top with shredded lettuce, avocado, and more salsa. Enjoy!