Sunday Fritatta

Sunday Fritatta

I love Sunday mornings, when we can have a leisurely breakfast, without work or synagogue or chores intruding. Nothing like sitting down to a simple fritatta, a big cup of coffee, and CBS Sunday Morning – yes, we’re officially geezers – on the tube.

Microwave one large baking potato, then chop it into large cubes.

Raise your oven rack to the top and turn broiler in oven to high.

Chop up:
red bell pepper
green bell pepper
any other mild pepper, like poblano
red onion
mushroom

Beat 4 large eggs with 1 tablespoon of water.

Heat a skillet to medium-high, add a little vegetable oil (heating the skillet first keeps the oil from burning) and saute the veggies.

Heat another skillet to medium – I usually use a non-stick skillet, but this time I used the old faithful, the well-seasoned iron skillet – if you use the iron skillet, you’ll need to wipe it generously with oil first. When the skillet is heated, pour in the egg and quickly add the potatoes and the veggie mixture, distributed evenly across the surface of the egg. Cover with as much grated cheese as you like. Let this cook until the bottom just begins to form a crust, then move the skillet from the stovetop to under the broiler, leaving the oven door cracked a little. Watch it very closely and remove when it begins to bubble with just a hint of browning.

Let the fritatta sit a minute before cutting into slices to serve.

Sunday Fritatta served

You’ll notice that there aren’t many measurements in this recipe. You can adjust for more veggies, less cheese, different veggies, whatever you like; it’s hard to ruin this one. Oh, and – somebody kill me for quoting Paula Deen – I’m not your doctor, I’m the cook. If this recipe contains things you don’t like or can’t have, adjust to suit yourself.

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Neil’s Wildly Spicy Ginger Cake

Neil WildingMy neighbor, Neil Wilding, was a fabulous cook. Such an epicure…he once made an Indian dinner for me and my husband that was 12 courses. It took him three days, including driving all over Nashville to find the individual native spices that he ground and mixed by hand to make his garam masala. In the kitchen, as everywhere else, Neil did things right. His individually steeped cup of coffee had to be brewed at the exact temperature for the exact number of minutes, in the exact proportions of water and coffee. Watching him measure out the freshly roasted and freshly ground beans was excruciatingly exquisite.

So it’s kind of funny that my favorite recipe from Neil is so simple. It is the tastiest, spiciest gingerbread cake you will ever eat. I use blackstrap molasses.

Neil’s Ginger Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine and sift:
1.5 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
half a teaspoon salt
half a teaspoon allspice
half a teaspoon cloves
2 tablespoons ground ginger

Combine 1/3 cup Crisco with 1/2 cup boiling water.

Break one egg in an 8-ounce cup and fill with molasses.

Add everything into an 8 x 8 x 2 baking pan; mix well. Bake for about 35 minutes.

Lemon Sauce
I make two batches of this for one pan of cake, because it is so good.

1 tablespoon cornstarch
a half cup sugar
a quarter teaspoon salt
1 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 egg yolk, beaten
1 tablespoon butter

Mix cornstarch, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Add water, heat to boiling, cook until clear and thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Mix the lemon juice and lemon zest with the egg, then fold all that (slowly) into the hot mixture. Stir another minute, adding the butter.

I like to chill the lemon sauce and pour it over the cake freshly out of the oven. The combination of hot and cold, with spicy and soothing, is unbelievable.

The only thing healthy about this cake is the dose of enjoyment you’ll get. Neil would approve.

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Posted in Dessert | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Kale with Tangelo and Garlic

kale recipe

I never was a huge fan of kale, or turnip greens, or chard. They could be tough and bitter unless you cooked them for about four days, common practice in the old South. But lately I’ve had kale cooked to such sweet, tender deliciousness…notably at Nashville’s own Sunflower Cafe, where chef Gabrielle serves up kale so delicious you’ll want an extra side of it instead of dessert…that I’ve decided to cook some myself.

tangelo kale recipe

This kale recipe is fast and easy, and it preserves the healthful benefit of the greens by not over-cooking them. You’ll need:

one bunch of kale
some red onion, diced
garlic clove, minced
vegetable broth
juice of two tangelos
olive oil
butter

(Sorry for the lack of exact measurements; it’s hard to mess this up, so just eyeball it.)

Cut out the stems from the kale and chop the leaves, not too tiny. Heat a non-stick skillet to medium-high, then drizzle in some oil oil and add a couple of pats of butter. Have the vegetable broth handy, as this goes quickly. As the butter starts to melt, put in the onion, then the kale, stir it around, then turn it down to medium, pour in some broth (maybe a quarter cup), and cover. After about three minutes, take the lid off and turn the heat back up, to cook off some of the liquid. Squeeze the tangelo juice over the kale, and serve.

kale pinto beans sweet potatoes

Home-made cornbread, pinto beans, and mashed sweet potatoes make a good, Southern, vegetarian meal.

Side note… There’s a guy in Vermont who’s trying to make an honest living producing the original “Eat More Kale” t-shirts, in spite of the efforts of corporate giant Chick-fil-A to squash him like a bug. Buy a shirt and help a brother out.

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Posted in Side Dish | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Passing over.

Editor’s Note: There’s a glossary at the end of this post.

matzah unleavened breadEvery spring comes Passover, which used to be a sort of Hebrew Jenny Craig event for me. As a non-meat-eater and recent convert to Judaism (2001), I used to starve nearly to death with no beans, corn, rice, bread, pasta or beer. Okay, I wasn’t really going to die, but just about everything I normally ate was off the menu for eight days. Oy.

Like just about everything Jewish, there is a wide range of what is considered pesadik, or allowed on Passover; depends on who you ask.* I went with (and still abide by) full-on Ashkenaz Passover-kosher (see above), leaving me with fish, eggs, fresh veggies, potatoes, and all the matzah I can stomach. Also known as “the bread of our affliction,” because our Israelite forebears skedaddled from Egypt with no leavening time, matzah becomes an obsession during Passover. We grind it up to make farfel, which can then be shaped into brick-like kugels so dense our ancestors could have built the pyramids with them. We soak it, fry it, dip it, shmear it, layer it in lasagna, and make pizza out of it. I understand why we observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, I just don’t know why it has to taste exactly like the box it comes in.

In an effort to make the Passover season a little less onerous, modern Jewish living offers up many alternatives for those of us who are symbolically fleeing Pharoah and googling to see whether Metamucil is pesadik or not. (Matzah has some side effects.) Pinterest boards laden with yummy Passover recipes abound. Matzah covered with chocolate and dredged in crushed almonds looks good; what’s not to like? How about the flourless chocolate tortes so rich they would make Julia Child weep in admiration? There are dry, tasty wines other than Manischewitz (thank God, and I mean that), and there’s even kosher-for-Passover beer. Really?

Which got me to thinking: if we choose to observe the holiday, why do we try so hard to get around the tradition, food-wise? After all, the Talmud is pretty reasonable about it and actually suggests we not make it harder than it needs to be. In the Sephardic Jewish world, Passover kosher usually allows* beans and rice, making things significantly easier for vegetarians. More on that here. Is suffering really necessary?

Maybe there’s value in deprivation, beyond simply completing the commandment in the Torah to tell retell the Exodus story, beyond celebrating our very freedom to do that. It could be that switching gears gastronomically makes us change our patterns in such a way that we think about things we sometimes forget. We can kvetch about not being able to eat out as much, or we can enjoy staying home and cooking with our peeps. We can bemoan the lo-carb headaches, or we can be glad for a few ticks off the ole bathroom scale. And we can remember that some people don’t have the luxury of changing their diets to a less interesting menu, because that’s all they can afford now.

However you celebrate Passover, may it be meaningful for you. Elsewhere on this site, you’ll find some recipes that should be okay for Passover, like Sushi-Grade Salad, Junk, Swiss Chard and Avocado Salad, No-Fat Crunchy Cilantro Slaw, and Quinoa Tabouleh.

Glossary
Ashkenaz – Roughly, Jews from Western, Central and Eastern Europe. As opposed to Sephardic Jews, from the Middle and Near East, Northern Africa, Spain, and around the Mediterranean rim.
Matzah – Unleavened bread enjoyed by Jewish folk year-round but with special manufacturing stringencies at Passover. Inspiration for the phrase “let my people go” for its binding qualities.
Farfel – Broken pieces of matzah, at Passover; pieces of egg noodle at other times. Also the name of a ventriloquist’s stuffed dog dummy that appeared in Nestle Chocolate commercials. (No, I have not been into the Manischewitz already.)
Kugel – A plain pudding made with noodles, potatoes, fruit or other ingredients. Or farfel, the unleavened bread, not the dog.

*For members of the Tribe, let’s not get into a discussion here about whose rabbi says what’s okay. I know there are rules in the Torah and subsequent commentary and Jewish law codes also have a say. You do your thing and I’ll do mine. For non-members, if you’re still reading at this point, mazel tov.

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Linguine with Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes

linguine with spinach recipe

This is a fast, easy, healthy pasta recipe. Assemble these ingredients:

linguine, 1 lb. box
handful of sun-dried tomatoes
bag of pre-washed baby spinach
sliced mushrooms
vegetable oil, 3 tablespoons give or take
clove of garlic, diced fine or crushed
white wine
black pepper and crushed red pepper
shaved parmesan

While the pasta water is coming to a boil, remove the stems from the bagged spinach. Chop the sun-dried tomatoes (I like the dry kind with the smoky flavor, but any will do), get the garlic ready and shave the parmesan with a vegetable peeler.

Cook the linguine just to al dente; drain. Heat a large skillet to medium-high before adding the oil; this step is especially important if you’re using olive oil, which burns easily. When the oil gets all wavy, add some crushed red pepper to taste; adding it at this stage infuses the spice into the oil. Add mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes, a half-cup of white wine, and the garlic; saute until the mushrooms are just a little done. Turn down the heat to medium or a little less, and dump the entire bag of spinach into the skillet; cover.

As soon as the spinach is limp, remove the lid and put the cooked linguine into the skillet, turn the heat back up to medium-high, and toss the pasta with the goodies quickly to coat the noodles with taste.

Serve with shaved parmesan and lots of freshly ground black pepper.

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Posted in Dinner | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Easy Egg Burrito

Image

This takes 10 minutes, start to finish, and is for two small burritos. It can be as spicy as you like. First, assemble your ingredients.

Egg_burrito_1_lo_res

small flour tortillas
1 egg per burrito
some diced poblano pepper (or jalapenos if you like it hot)
grated cheddar cheese
chopped fresh cilantro
1 pat of butter for every two burritos
salsa (medium or hot, it’s up to you), drained

Heat a non-stick skillet to medium hot. Add the butter and, as soon as it melts, add the poblano pepper and saute. Be sure not to burn the butter or over-cook the pepper. Beat the eggs with 1 teaspoon of water per egg and pour into the skillet with the pepper; toss in the chopped cilantro. While you scramble the egg mixture, heat another non-stick skillet and be warming the tortillas.

Egg_burrito_2_lo_res

When the eggs are done, divide them onto the warmed tortillas, sprinkle with cheese, add some salsa, roll up the tortillas. Spear them with toothpicks to keep them closed. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve.

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How to be – and – feed a vegetarian on Thanksgiving.

Celery_sticks_sxc

When my husband and I became vegetarians over 20 years ago, people wigged out. Our moms, both Southern cooks who put pork fat in everything but iced tea, didn’t know how to cook for us any more. Our friends were defensive; as much as we tried to keep it from being an issue, they took our choice not to eat meat as an indictment of theirs to eat it. No matter how much we said “we don’t care what you eat,” it was guilt-inducing.

We are ovo-lacto-pesco vegetarians, which is barely vegetarian at all. We simply don’t eat pigs, cows and chickens, or anything that has bits of them in it. I added “only kosher fish” to the list of my self-imposed food restrictions when I converted to Judaism, which produced much eye-rolling from my way-Reform friends. Oy gevalt, why does food become such a battle?

Tips for Vegetarians

1. Talk to your host in advance about what you can eat; don’t announce at the table that “meat is murder” as Uncle Herman begins to carve the bird.

2. Offer to bring something vegetarian, and bring enough for everyone.

3. Get the hostess to slip some tofurkey onto your plate.

4. Eat before you go, and serve yourself small quantities of things to push around your plate.

5. Be out of town. It’s just one meal, for pete’s sake.

Tips for Hosts

1. If you didn’t know your guests well enough to know they are vegetarian, don’t be offended if they don’t eat the green beans swimming in ham broth.

2. When guests ask you about the menu in advance, be gracious. You wouldn’t treat them like alien life forms if they had diabetic food retrictions.

3. Have some things that are vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and nut-free. Oh, hell, just serve celery sticks and vodka.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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