Couscous and Cucumber Salad

This is a very quick, easy, and customizable dish. I found the recipe via the NYT, which includes mint. Even without the mint, it’s very refreshing, with a smooth, neutral, and delicate flavor. A really lovely lunch or a welcome side dish that goes with pretty much anything. couscous

•  1/2 cup Pearl Couscous
• 1 Cucumber
• 1 large tomato, or lots of tiny ones
• 2 T red onion, diced
• 1 cup water
• 1/4 cup lemon juice
• 1 – 2 T olive oil
• About 5 sprigs parsley
• salt & pepper

1. Lightly toast couscous in olive oil [enough to coat] over medium high heat, about 5 minutes.

2. Add 1 cup water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat, cover, and simmer until 10 minutes, just until tender.

3. Remove from heat, strain if necessary, and pour couscous in large bowl.

4. Chop cucumber, tomatoes, and onion. Add to couscous, along with lemon juice, herbs, and the rest of olive oil. Toss, let breathe, and serve.

Falafel Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce

The garbanzo patties are so savory & delicious they can be eaten on their own, alongside a nice rice dish, or a bright vegetable. They pair nicely with hot flavors, like chili/Sriracha, and cream or yogurt sauces. For a gyro, fill a pita with fresh tomato, onion, lettuce, tzatziki, and falafel.

falafel

• 2 cups canned, boiled garbanzo beans, or 1 can, drained
• 1 carrot, grated or minced
• 1 onion, diced
• 2 large garlic cloves, smashed and minced
• 4 – 6 T garbanzo bean flour
• 1/2 tsp each thyme, coriander, cumin
• 1 tsp paprika
• dash pepper, salt

1. Mince or dice vegetables and add to food processor with beans. Add about a teaspoon of water if your device requires liquid.
2. Blend to desired consistency. Bigger pieces of everything will allow you to use less flour, so a mealy mix is actually really good. The blending process is just to crush the beans and to combine the mix, not to liquify. If you find your batter won’t form or stay together in a firm way, add more flour, cornstarch, or similar thickener depending on your budget. (garbanzo bean flour is more expensive than standard flour)
3. Add flour and spices, mix, and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.
4. Heat a little over an inch of your chosen frying oil, preferably vegetable or sunflower. Form dough into rough golf-ball shape and drop in oil. Or, flatten to make patties if that is preferable. Fry on one side a couple minutes, until fully brown. Flip once to brown, and turn on sides for full coverage.

Tzatziki Sauce
• 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
• 1/3 cucumber
• 1 lemon
• thyme
• dill
• cumin, coriander, paprika, salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine ingredients, adding more or less of whatever you like most or least. You can cut the cucumber to whatever consistency you desire-it can be minced, thrown into a food processor, grated, etc.

Coquilles St Jacques à la Provençale

coquilles

This is a very elegant dish and can be accompanied by a variety of vegetables. The first time I used tomato instead of mushroom, but I think it would be delicious with both, so both are included in the recipe. I also used cheese instead of the cream mixture which was more dry, and as it was gruyére it totally overwhelmed the delicate scallops. The reduction is just as creamy, more subtle, and well worth the effort. Plus, wine!

I made the above picture for New Years Eve, served with green beans and a mixture of brown rice, lentils, and onion. The green bean recipe is also included below.

• 5 scallops
• 5-10 mushrooms, diced
• 1 small yellow onion or 2 shallots, diced
• 1 small tomato, diced
• 1 T mixture of parsley, thyme, sage, and tarragon
• 1/4 tsp minced garlic
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 cup dry white wine
• 1/2 c water
• 1/4 c (almond) milk or cream
• 3 T butter
• 1 – 2 T flour

1. Heat mushrooms and half of onions in butter and garlic. Allow to heat for about 10 minutes, then add thyme, salt & pepper, and sage. Cook for 10 more minutes then pour into a gratin pan or baking/pie dish.

2. In the same pan, reduce white wine, water, bay leaf, and rest of onions.

3. Slice scallops-each should create 2 – 3 thin slices. Add to reduction and cook for a few minutes over medium heat.

4. Dice and layer tomato over mushroom and onion mixture. Follow with scallops, arranged in single layer with slight overlap.

5. Remove reduction from pan, pouring into bowl. In same pan, make a roux by combining 2 T butter and 2 T flour over medium heat.

6. When roux is thickened and smooth, add reduction along with milk and cream. Allow to cook over medium heat for a few minutes until thickened. Mix frequently with whisk.

7. Pour liquid over scallops and broil (high) until brown and bubbly. Garnish with fresh herbs, like parsley or thyme.

Green Beans
1 – 2 cups Green beans
2 T Butter
1 T Pure honey
1 T Crushed walnuts

1. Melt 1 T butter over medium heat.

2. Slice tips off fresh green beans and add to pan, mixing to coat with butter.

3. Allow to cook for a few minutes, then drizzle honey on beans, add remaining butter, and stir to coat.

4. Add walnuts and allow to cook until beans are just beginning to be marked by pan and the walnuts are slightly softened.

5. Never ever ever eat canned green beans again

Enchiladas

enchiladas

Enchilada Sauce
4 dried chili peppers, crushed or 2 fresh chili peppers, sliced
3 T – 1 mini can tomato paste or a few crushed/diced tomatoes
1 T minced or diced onion
2 T olive oil
1 T vegetable stock
1 – 4 cups water
1 T Adobo seasoning
1 T garlic powder or 1 medium garlic clove, minced with plane grater
1 tsp each cayenne pepper, cumin, cilantro
1/2 tsp each oregano, salt

1. Over medium low heat in small saucepan, heat chili peppers in olive oil. Stir occasionally, and if using fresh chili peppers, mash a bit as they soften. Add onion and allow to heat for 5 – 10  minutes.

2. Add vegetable stock, tomatoes or tomato paste, 1 cup water, and seasonings. Continue to heat and stir for 10 – 15 minutes. If pressed for time, heat vegetables for enchilada filling in separate sauté pan.

3. Add more water until desired thickness is reached. Use for enchiladas and store extra in refrigerator for enhancing rice, tacos, or salsa.

Filling
1 can or cup White Beans, lightly mashed
1 1/2 cup Grated Cheddar Cheese
1 Green Pepper
1 small yellow Onion
1 – 2 cups Enchilada Sauce
Rice (optional)

Preparation:

1. Lightly coat square casserole dish with sauce. Add filling to tortilla (technically, it is good to use corn tortillas but I find flour tortillas easier to manipulate) in stripe down the center, and fold over both sides. Put fold-side-down in pan. Line up as many enchiladas in a row (5 or 6) until pan is full.

2. Pour sauce over enchiladas and sprinkle extra cheese on top.

3. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or 400 degrees for 1/2 hour. You can also soften peppers and onion in a sauté pan beforehand and reduce cooktime significantly-that way you will only have to wait for cheese to melt.

4. Garnish with Parsley

Rice
1 c Brown Rice
1 packet Sazon Goya
1/2 c Lentils
1/2 c Onion

1. Cook rice and lentils in rice cooker.

2. After 10 minutes, add diced onion and Sazon Goya. Mix.

3. Serve with enchiladas. If using rice for enchilada filling, start rice cooker before making the enchilada sauce.

Fresh Tortilla Chips
5 – 10 corn tortillas
2 – 3 T vegetable oil
sea salt

1. Heat oil in pan with small surface area over medium heat. You will need enough to submerge a tortilla, about 1 cm.

2. Cut tortillas in half. Stack both halves on top of one another and cut into triangles.

3. When oil is hot, submerge tortillas and allow to harden. If using very shallow oil, flip at least once. Remove with tongs and allow to dry on paper towel or cooling rack.

4. Sprinkle with sea salt and/or other spices and serve.

Tomato & Bread Salad

tomato bread salad
This is an extremely delicious alternative salad from The Sweet Life in Paris, by David Lebovitz. As its just a melange of ingredients, its very easy to customize– I decreased the quantity of most everything to feed two people and made some substitutions (red pepper, shredded cheese) for ingredients I didn’t have that day (cucumber, feta). It keeps well in the fridge, with the bread getting only slightly more saturated, and is really good the next day.

• 4c bread
• 1tsp Dijon mustard
• 1 1/4tsp coarse salt
• Black pepper
• 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
• 6T red wine vinegar
• 2/3c extra virgin olive oil
• 8 medium tomatoes
• 1 cucumber
• 3/4c pitted black or kalamata olives
• 1 onion
• 1 packed cup of fresh basil, mint, and flat-leaf parsley (mixed together)
• 1/2 lb feta cheese

1. Cut bread into cubes and toast in the oven for about 15 minutes, turning periodically for full coverage.
2. In serving bowl, whisk mustard, salt, pepper, garlic, vinegar, and olive oil.
3. Slice tomatoes and other veggies in half and squeeze out juice. Cube.
4. Add vegetables to bowl with dressing. Mix in herbs and bread pieces and toss well.
5. Crumble cheese on top and serve.

Quick Vegetarian Chili

chili

• 1 onion
• 2 – 3 tomatoes depending on size
• 1 green or red bell pepper
• 2 chili peppers (more/less)
• 1 zucchini
• 1 can black beans
• 2-3c vegetable stock
• dash of salt & pepper
• about 1TB/roughly equal amounts: oregano, garlic, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon or cocoa, and old bay seasoning

1. Heat onion and pepper first, then zucchini and other substantive vegetables
2. Turn heat to medium/low and add tomatoes, beans, stock, and spices.
3. Ready when peppers are as soft as you feel is appropriate.

Garnish with avocado and cilantro, serve with tortilla chips.

This can have whatever quantity of whatever foods you wish. It can be a personal recipe, producing enough for you and your freezer or easily expands to feed a group.

Orzo with Mushroom and Swiss Chard

orzo
• 1c orzo
• 4c water
• 1c stock mushroom stems*
• a tiny tomato from your garden that makes no sense in any other dish
• Swiss chard
• garlic, thyme
1. Boil orzo in water about 10 minutes
2. Strain water, add stock, mushrooms, tomato, and spices. Boil until most liquid is absorbed. Add Swiss chard right before removing from heat.
((*mushroom caps were stuffed with blue cheese (broil 5-10m))

Vegetable Stock

stock

• roughly 1-2 gallons water
• 5 or 6 carrots
• 3 or 4 sliced onions
• 2c sliced or quartered mushrooms
• 2 leeks
• 1c celery leaves
• 1 tomato
• 1-2t thyme, garlic powder, pepper, salt, coriander, sage, and/or your preferred spices

Add all ingredients to stockpot, heat for an hour or two on low/simmer. Strain and use right away for some soup, refrigerating some for use within a week or two. Freeze the rest as ice cubes.

Optional step to concentrate flavor: roast the hearty (carrot, onion, mushroom) veggies or heat/sweat before adding water.

Minimize waste by using the remaining veggies for a soup/dish that day, or make another round of less potent stock.

Tomato Soup

Tomato Soup

• 4-6 tomatoes
• a carrot,  a handful of mushrooms, slice of yellow onion
• 1 cup vegetable stock
• 1T olive oil, 2T butter
• 1/4c (unsweetened almond) milk
• lots of black pepper and thyme
• a couple pinches salt, garlic powder, and basil

1. Remove core from tomatoes, heat in large pot, mashing occasionally
2. Purée carrot, mushrooms, and onion with vegetable stock, olive oil, milk, and butter*
3. Add to pot, mix and continue to heat. Add a very generous amount of black pepper and thyme (seriously, lots of both) along with garlic powder, salt, and a touch of basil
4. Pour into blender/processor and purée entire mixture. Return to pot and continue to heat, seasoning as needed. Serve with grilled cheese :)

*I didn’t plan to add butter, but even with spices my soup tasted like raw tomatoes. Butter made it taste more like conventional soup.

Zucchini & Tomato Tart

zucchini tomato tart

• 2 tomatoes
• 2 zucchini
• 1/3 onion
• handful each: mushrooms, spinach
• 2 eggs
• 1/3c (almond) milk
• handful cheese (Parmesan, mozzarella)
• fresh oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage, and garlic
• herbes de Provence, s&p, olive oil

1. Roast sliced zucchini at 450. Flip once, browning slightly on both sides.
2. In casserole dish, layer chopped onion, zucchini, spinach, mushroom, and tomato. Pour over half mixture of beaten egg, milk, s&p. Add herbs and cheese (in this case, parm & mozz but goat or gruyere would be awesome).
3. Continue layering, finishing with egg mixture then full zucchini layer. Cover with sliced tomato, sprigs of thyme, & olive oil. Bake at 350 for 45m (or more, if needed).

(*inspired by this eggplant tart, which includes crust http://nyti.ms/18DwDUF)

Smoked Salmon

smoked salmon

These brunch sandwiches are made by toasting an English muffin, then layering cream cheese, smoked salmon, a squeeze of lemon, ground pepper, greens/spinach, tomato, egg, and avocado.

I ended up removing the unnecessary avocado when eating,  as it’s much more tasty as a simpler assemblage. The tomato and pepper are essential for making it feel like a proper sandwich, though.

Poached eggs are ideal, but I’ve yet to master poaching!

Serve with cantaloupe, kiwi, and extra spinach (w/a sprinkle of Parmesan. The unused avocado can be mashed with herbs and citrus for a fresh dressing).

Ratatouille

ratatouille

1 (or so) each:
• eggplant
• zucchini
• white onion
• red bell pepper
• large tomato (or a few medium)
• Garlic, olive oil, parsley, s&p, fresh Provençal herbs of your choosing

1. Cut eggplant and zucchini into large cubes. In olive oil, cook over medium heat for a few minutes, until eggplant softly browns
2. Remove from heat, set aside. Now heat cubed onion and red pepper in same fashion. Mash and mince 2-3 cloves garlic and add, along with some s&p. Set aside in another bowl.
3. Heat cubed tomato & olive oil
4. In large pot, layer 1/2 of tomato mix, then pepper & onion mixture, then zucchini & eggplant, then rest of tomato. Sprinkle parsley (lots) on top, drizzle olive oil. I put a few sprigs of oregano, lavender, sage, and thyme to infuse. Cover.
5. Leave on medium heat for a while, then remove sprigs and stir. 6. Stir every so often, and eventually remove cover and set to boil. Stir more frequently during this period. Simmer.

It’s done when you feel it’s reached a good consistency. I like mine soupy, so I don’t reduce very long and add a bit more olive oil here and there. If you like less liquid, let it boil longer or squeeze the gel/seeds from the tomato before you begin. If you’d rather make the movie version, look for “confit biyaldi”.

Serve with big chunk of fresh bread, and love your leftovers. :)