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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Faux Pepperoni for Pizza

For most of my teenage life pepperoni and black olives were the only things allowed on my pizza slices. Day after day after day where I worked at Mazzatta's Italian Restaurant.

In the past 20 plus years as a pescatarian I have indulged in pepperoni pizza on rare occasions, but not often because I prefer my meat to be "happy" and generally pepperoni in pizza joints doesn't fit that description.

But since working as a lunch lady making vegetarian meals only in a groovy, alternative charter school where I hear the plaintive longing for pepperoni on the pizza, an investigation of alternative forms seemed in order.

And then I found THE recipe on the Minimalist Baker.

Can I just say easy, delicious and quick!

If you have kids, big or small, with a vegetarian diet who are craving pepperoni this is the ticket. Don't be put off by the list of ingredients, you probably have all them in the pantry, and this just needs a few whizzes in the food processor and a quick bake and Voila! Magic!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Homemade French Fries - Easy, Quick, Amazing!

French Fries - you would think they would be impossible to make at home without a huge amount of hot oil that you were afraid was going to catch on fire or at the very least splatter all over your stovetop. So wrong! Or should I say So Right!

These were PERFECT! Simple, easy and the oil was hardly flavored so it was so reusable!

Yes, it will take a full bottle of oil (I used olive oil, it's the only oil I cook with; but use peanut or sunflower or canola or whatever you desire.) You simply cut up your russets, place them in a large, heavy bottom pot with enough oil to cover them by at least 1/2 an inch and bring it to a boil. Then watch as they bubble away for about 10-12 minutes and you get gorgeous, browned, crispy French Fries that will wow your eaters and blow your mind!

Keep in mind, if you use different size pots (because you want to make sure you have plenty of fries!) a small pot will cook faster. As soon as they look golden, spoon them out with a slotted spoon and let drain on newspaper or paper towels and sprinkle with salt immediately and inhale! Or, eat like an elegant French person, NOT!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Blue Corn Sopes with Refried Beans and Cheese

Sopes are another one of those Mexican comfort foods that so many people have yet to add to their repertoire let alone try just because they haven't become as ubiquitous as tacos or burritos. But really, they are equally versatile and delicious.

Here in northern Humboldt we are lucky enough to have a local purveyor of great masa - yellow and blue (Bien Padre, AKA Mala Madre according to my hubby), so I scooped up some blue masa to make these tasty morsels. Like Gorditas or homemade corn tortillas, you simply add water and salt to masa and let it sit; then you shape it and fry it as needed.

Making the dough is about trial and error - you don't want it too wet or too dry, and letting it sit for at least 15 minutes helps to allow the masa absorb the water. I simply dump some masa into a bowl - about 1 1/2 cups for about 3-4 sopes each - add about 1 cup of water and about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and let it sit while I'm getting the toppings ready. Then I check the dough and see if it needs a little more water or a little more masa. It should hold together when you make a ball and flatten it slightly; if it sticks to your hands, it needs just a little more masa. Conversely, if it's dry add a little more water. After a few trys you will see how it works best.

These were a brunch meal so it was a simple topping of refried beans, shredded cheese (ricotta salata, so similar to Mexican cotija) and some salsa and guacamole. Really, how can you go wrong!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Chicken Saltimbocco

A few weeks ago a landmark old-school style Italian restaurant closed its doors after serving the community since 1928...We of course had dinner before they shuttered for good. "Saltimbocco" means "jump in mouth" and this was their version of Chicken Saltimbocco, and it was tooooo diiiiie forrrrr!  So naturally it needed to be recreated at home!

Creamy cheesy marsala wine sauce, meltingly sweet sun-dried tomatoes and succulent chicken, really, how can you go wrong! Do not be put off by what appears to be long instructions, they are there to ensure a delicious end result.

It looks fancy but is deceptively simple; dust chicken breasts with flour, slip a few slices of prosciutto and mozzarella into a pocket in the chicken breast, brown, and make the sauce as the chicken is browning, and Eccola! Saltimbocco!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Gado Gado Salad

Gado Gado sounds like baby talk but this is not for babies, no sireee! This is a classic Indonesian salad that is a great way to use up all of those scraps of veggies you've got in the crisper bin. Little bits of cabbage, celery, few potatoes and a couple of green beans just hanging around taunting you? Whip up some peanut sauce or the like and you've got some Gado Gado!

Actually, it was the appearance of some free peanut sauce that inspired this meal (another freebie expired item from the co-op, courtesy of my hubbie).  But whipping up some peanut sauce (or other nut butter) is easy to do, especially as the water is boiling for making the eggs, potatoes and green beans.

This is an especially great meal when you realize that veggies have been AWOL from your meal plans in a while. Giving the cabbage a quick blanch makes this meal slightly warmed and less of a plate full of salad. Add whatever protein you choose, tofu is traditional and here I seared some and place it in the middle. Use what you have on hand.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Egg Foo Yung

Eggs and I have not always been the best of dining companions. A very fussy eater as a child when it came to anything besides salad, pickles and bread and butter, my mother once infamously made me eat to fried eggs, which were promptly regurgitated. Not a pretty scene.

Fast forward multiple decades and such food abhorrence's feel antiquated, so dutifully I try to overcome them. Egg foo yung was just one of those that sounded like it would make my tummy queasy again. How wrong can a person be!

This turned out to be a fun bunch meal, complete with the fun Asian BBQ dipping sauce I added, completely untraditional but delicious!

Fast, quick and with some veggies secreted inside, try this the next time you are at a loss for an easy and fun brunch meal.