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Showing posts from August, 2017

Fresh Tomato Tart

This is very easy to prepare and a great way to use up tomatoes. If you can't find wonderful summer tomatoes, it really isn't worth the effort. The key to this is the freshness of the ingredients. 

There is one step that is very important, and it's how you prepare the tomatoes. You need to follow this, or you will end up with a slimy mess. 
To prepare your tomatoes, slice them 1/4 inch thick and lay onto paper towels, do one layer of tomatoes then add more paper towels and another layer of tomatoes, etc. They can rest there while you prepare everything else. This just absorbs some of the juice, so you get full flavor, without soft puff pastry.

This can easily be made vegan by using Pepperidge Farm puff pastry, which is surprisingly vegan, and subbing a non dairy Parmesan, such as Go Veggie. 
1 package of Puff Pastry, thawed. This takes about 2 hours in the refrigerator.  3 medium sized Heirloom Tomatoes, sliced and prepared as described above. 2 Tbsp Olive Oil, with …

Sicilian Eggplant Caponata

This is a very popular dish in the south of Italy. There are many variations, and many contain olives and capers. I have made it following these recipes and they are very good, but I was wanting something with a sweeter undertone and packed with umami. 

So, I chose to follow a traditional recipe and then use raisins for sweetness and finished with Asian fish sauce.
The ancient Romans frequently used a condiment called garum. It was basically a fermented fish sauce, made from many different types of fish. There were many different recipes for garum and some were very expensive. They liked to put it on a variety of dishes. I find Asian fish sauce to be a good substitute for garum, based upon the descriptions I've read. 
If you want a more authentic "garum", there is an Italian company called Nettuno that makes a product called Colatura di Alici, and it is a lighter version made from anchovies and very good. You can order it from Gustiamo from this link…

Homemade Cajun Spice Seasoning

With so many spice mixes out there, it might seem redundant to make your own, but it is a lot cheaper and you will know exactly what's in it.  Additionally, you can control the salt content.

You will need a basic coffee grinder, but it's minimal investment to buy two. One for coffee beans and one for spices. Not kidding, I've had my Krups grinders for 20 years.
Feel free to adjust ingredients and quantity to suit your taste. This will keep well for many months in the pantry. 
1 1/2 tsp Salt 2 tsp Smoked Paprika  1 tsp Oregano  1 tsp Thyme 1 Bay Leaf 1 tsp Black Peppercorns  1 tsp Garlic Powder 1 tsp Onion Powder 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper  1 whole Clove, optional
Add all ingredients into a coffee/spice grinder. Grind until a fine powder. Use as desired. Makes a wonderful marinade with olive oil for broiling most anything. 

Homemade Mac Cheese - Yes, it is this easy and really good.

Yes, you can make your own mac and cheese and it's vastly better than store bought. Be creative with your choices of cheese. 
I've used smoked Gouda, Gruyere and even Blue Cheese. Their are no solid rules here.  Just make sure it's good cheese, and make sure it's shredded or cubed. For shredding, I find the food processor with the shredding disk is very helpful. 

It is easy to make this vegan, so if you want a vegan mac and cheese, go for it. Just sub out the butter with Earth Balance, the milk with soy milk and cheese with non dairy options. Nutritional yeast is a helper here to give that cheesy flavor. 
I've made it both ways, and both are very good. 
3 Tbsp Butter or Earth Balance 3 Tbsp Flour 2 cups Milk or Soy Milk, warmed. 2 cups Shredded Cheese or Daiya Cheddar. 1 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast, if making vegan.  1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese or Go Veggie Parmesan, for topping Salt and Pepper 1 lb Pasta, Shells, Farfalle or Fusilli are perfect. 
Preheat your oven to …

Fast and Easy Marinara

So many people go out for Italian food that is average at best. You can make your own at home and it's vastly better. Here's a recipe for a basic marinara that is fast and amazing. 

Ingredients 1 28 oz can Muir Glen Whole Tomatoes
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt
1 clove Garlic, peeled and crushed with side of your knife
Freshly ground Black Pepper
1/2 Onion, peeled and dropped in whole.
1 sprig fresh Basil
Put tomatoes in a saucepan, crush them with your hands. Add all other ingredients and gently simmer for one hour. Fish out the onion, garlic and basil and serve sauce over a high quality pasta like De Cecco Penne, Rigatoni or Spaghetti and sprinkle with Parmesano Reggiano. 

Hint: If you want to really make it amazing, finish it off in the pan with a little of the reserved pasta water. Just undercook the pasta by about two minutes. Use a Pyrex measuring cup to dip out about 3/4 cup of the boiling pasta water. set aside. Drain the pasta and add it back to the original pan and a…

Eggplant Parmesan - Big Taste, Fewer Calories

This is easy to pull together and has a rich bold flavor. As you are not frying the eggplant, but rather baking it, the overall result is much lighter than a traditional eggplant Parmesan, and saves a lot of calories.

I am a big fan of home made marinara. However, I find that if something is baked with other ingredients for a long time, the difference between a quality store-bought marinara and homemade is minimal.

As you will note in the ingredient listing, it is very easy to make this a totally vegan recipe. All you need to, is sub out the dairy ingredients for non-dairy ingredients.
1- 9x14 Pyrex baking dish 1 large Eggplant, firm with no soft spots.  Olive Oil  Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper 2 large jars Marinara, Rao's is very good 6 Tbsp Pesto 2 tsp Chili Flakes 2-3 cups Mozzarella or Daiya Mozzarella  1 package/tub Ricotta or Tofutti Cream Cheese Freshly grated Parmesan or Go Veggie Parmesan No bake Lasagna sheets
Note: You should not need any additional salt, as yo…

Seafood Paella

I can't imagine many dishes that court more controversy amongst purists than Paella. It is the soul of Spain and as such, opinions regarding its preparation are strong. Even its regional origins are arguable, but I believe that the arguments for it originating in Valencia ring true to me.  As I don't eat meat, but occasionally seafood, I wanted to create a seafood version that would be as authentic as possible without the meat and the open fire.

If you're not familiar with paella, it is traditionally cooked in a very large flat open pan and over an open fire. It is not soupy or soft, but rather the rice is crunchy around the edges and perfectly separated. The meat is mostly chicken, rabbit, chorizo and occasionally snails. It's a true culinary treasure. 

As I do not have a dedicated paella dish and open fires are not really a viable option, I found a nifty hack that gives very good results. 

If you are a meat eater, then there are ample recipes online for a totally traditi…

Vegan Bolognese

This took some time and experimentation get right. Trying to get the balance was challenging as the sauce kept wanting to veer to the sweet side. 
However, it was worth the effort, and this is a very good vegan sauce. The porcini adds an umami note that works well and the balsamic vinegar, which balances the sweetness. 

4 Tbsp Olive Oil 1/2 cup Onions, chopped 1/4 cup Carrots, chopped 1/4 cup Celery, chopped  1 clove Garlic, crushed 1/2 cup Porcini Mushrooms, reconstituted and chopped. Save the water.  1 package Boca Crumbles or similar.  Salt  Pepper  3/4 cup Red Wine 1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar 3/4 cup Soy Milk 1 32 oz can of Tomatoes, diced or whole. 
Begin with a Le Cruset or similar as this is going to simmer for a long time. 
Heat the olive oil and then add the finely chopped onion, celery and carrots. Sauté without browning and then add the garlic clove. Add salt and pepper to taste. 
Add in the chopped porcini and Boca crumbles and allow to sauté. Add the water from the porcini and red…