Christmas Mussels

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In my house we have started a sort of tradition.  Whenever my Grandma comes over for Christmas we make mussels.  This year we added the jalapeno pepper which gave it a spicier taste.DSCN2940

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato- peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, lightly crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 Andouille sausage, thinly sliced and halved
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Albariño
  • 2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 1/2 bottled clam juice
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • Crusty bread, for serving

In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil.DSCN2900 Add the onion garlic and jalapeño and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes.DSCN2903 Add the tomato, oregano and paprika and cook for 1 minute, stirring.DSCN2907 Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and stir it in. Add the sausages and continue stirring.DSCN2908 Add the wine and mussels, cover the pan and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the clam juice, parsley and lemon juice and cook over high heat, stirring, until the mussels open, about 5 minutes. Discard any mussels that do not open. Transfer the mussels and their sauce to a deep bowls serve at once with bread to soak up the sauce.

Everyone loved the mussels, though my grandma thought it was a little spicy, but I thought that made it better.  Mussels are a pretty bland shellfish so it’s best to have it spicier.

Yia yia Mirka’s Cauilflower

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Yia yia's cualiflower

We needed something to have with our dinner. Last night we had lamb so my dad and I made something he remembered helping his mom make.  Since she’s my grandmother and she’s Greek I would call her yia yia (or grandma in greek).  So here’s how to make it.

You’ll need:

  • 2 medium cauliflower (cleaned, cored, and cut into thick slices)
  • 8 medium ripe tomatoes (peeled and quartered)
  • 2 cups dried white or yellow onions
  • 8 whole peeled garlic cloves
  • 1 cup plus 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 8 oz. of butter
  • 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1-8 oz can of tomato sauce

Procedures:

  1. Mix 1/2 c. olive oil and paprika, beat the mixture to mixDSCN2851
  2. Lay the thick sliced cauliflower on grill pans and baste both sides with the paprika mixtureDSCN2853
  3. Place the grill pans under the broiler in oven and brown the cauliflower turning to brown on all sides.DSCN2861
  4. While cauliflower is browning melt the 8 oz. of butter in the paprika/olive oil mixtureDSCN2854 Then saute the onions and garlic cloves in the mixture in a large pot.DSCN2860
  5. Wash, peel, and quarter 8 tomatoes (my dad is burning the tomatoes because it makes the easier to peel.DSCN2859
  6. When the onion is translucent add the tomatoes.DSCN2863
  7. Stir tomato mixture over medium heat until the tomatoes start breaking down.
  8. Add the cinnamon and keep stirring.DSCN2864
  9. Add the browned cauliflower and keep stirring.
  10. Add 1-8 oz. can tomato sauce.
  11. Cover the pot and cook the cauliflower mixture for 40 min. or until tender on medium heat. Cook uncovered until sauce thickens.
  12. Salt and pepper to taste, serve warm in a bowl with crusty bread.

This side dish should serve eight.

Both my parents enjoyed this one, but my mom said it needed more tomato, less oil. So before I wrote this my dad and I had to revise it.

Hot Mulled Cider

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This is a nice recipe for when fall starts turning to winter, it’ll warm you right through. Just be careful not to burn your tongue, it happened to me once. This recipe makes 16-1 cup servings, though so it’s best when some guests are coming over for dinner, or a neighborhood block party.

  • 1 gallon apple cider
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • cheese cloth
  • 2 tsp. whole cloves
  • 2 tsp. whole allspice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 oranges

Combine cider, brown sugar, nutmeg, and the juice of one orange in a large pot. Tie the cloves, allspice and cinnamon inside a cheese cloth bag. Cut the other orange into slices and add. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove spice bag and serve.

Fall

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It is the first day of Fall, is everyone ready. I love fall, the crisp air, the apples, it’s soccer season again. Fall also has Halloween, and who doesn’t love Halloween, you get to dress up, go to parties, and there’s candy, lots of candy! Halloween is one holiday of the year where it doesn’t matter if you cook a huge dinner or just have a slice of pizza and a few chocolate bars. Though I know many people get together with their families, many people just get the neighbor hood together for a Halloween block party. And whether your cooking for the in-laws or just a few neighbor hood trick-or-treaters I’ll try to recommend a few choice recipes to get you into the autumn spirit.

Pork with Garden Peppers

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I’m sorry I didn’t share this sooner, but my computer wasn’t working so here it is now.  This dish was also based on something my Dad’s cousin Lena cooked and this dish turned out very close to what she cooked.  The improvised recipe is this:

  • Bone-in Pork butt roast cut in 2in. slices
  • 8 large green bell peppers, halved
  • 1/2 lb mixed mushrooms
  • 2 medium sweet onions
  • 1 cup of olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Dice onions and saute until soft.  Add mushrooms to the onions and continue sauteing until the mushrooms become softened.  Place in container to keep.DSCN2815
  2. Wash the green peppers and cut into halves, remove stems, and seeds.DSCN2817  In a skillet wilt the peppers with some of the olive oil.DSCN2818  Place half of them in a layer on the bottom of a slow cooker.DSCN2819
  3. Brown the pork on all sides,DSCN2814 and place the steaks on top of the green peppers.  Salt and pepper the meat to taste.DSCN2821
  4. With a slotted spoon, spoon the mushroom mixture onto the pork. Then put the remaining green peppers in a layer on top, pour the olive oil over the entire dish.DSCN2822
  5. Cover and cook in slow cooker for about 8 hours over a low heat.DSCN2824

I’m sorry but I didn’t get a picture of the finished product before we ate it.  But it was extremely good.  Both my parents, our three guests, and I all enjoyed it.  Though I would recommend it for a time when/if you have the time for it to cook, this isn’t just something you throw in the oven 15 min. before a meal.  It has to cook for 8 HOURS, though since it is a slow cooker it doesn’t need to be watched every second.  But I say thank you to my great cousin Lena for giving us the idea to replicate it.

White-Bean and Swiss-Chard Bruschetta

Hi there, are you looking for a nice appetizer to go along with your meal?  Well we were, we started looking for one and found it in Food & Wine’s annual cookbook of 1997 on page 16.  (By the way, this is the same dinner mentioned in Lena’s Homegrown Potato Salad.)  So look out, here it comes…

  • 20 1/4-inch thick slices cut diagonally from a baguette (we decided to skip that and buy already-made crisps, if you do that you don’t have to do the 1st step, but must heat up the crisps before you serve)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced (here we got a chunky garlic paste)
  • 2 cups cooked white beans, such as cannellini, rinsed if canned
  • 2 teaspoons minced thyme
  • Salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound Swiss chard (by the way, despite how the name sounds, Swiss chard isn’t a cheese), leaves only, coarsely chopped and rinsed but not dried
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white truffle oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet and brush lightly on both sides with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil.  Bake for about 8 min.,or until the bread is lightly browned.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the onion and garlic and cook over a low heat, stirring, until the onion softens, about 5 min.  Add the beans and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 3 min.  Scrape the mixture into a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.  With the machine on, add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.  Transfer the bean puree to a bowl, stir in the thyme, and season with salt and pepper, keep warm.
  3. Wipe out the skillet and set it over a moderately high heat.  Add the Swiss chard and stir until wilted. Transfer the card to a colander, let cool slightly and then squeeze out excess liquid.
  4. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet.  Add the Swiss chard and season with salt and pepper.  Cook over moderately high heat,stirring, until heated through.

Spread each toast with about 1 tablespoon of the bean puree and top with some of the Swiss chard.  Drizzle lightly with some truffle oil.  Serve warm or at room temp.

Onion and garlic

Onion and garlic

Mix in the beans

Mix in the beans

Puree in a food processor

Puree in a food processor

Wilt the Chard

Wilt the Chard

The final look

Bruschetta on a plate

Our Guest thought it was an interesting combination and the pureed beans gave it a nice flavor.  My mom said it was good and salty, but not real salty.  Then my dad said it was just right.  But I didn’t like it all that much, I suppose it’s because I’ve never been a big fan of mushy stuff.  It was the Puree that threw it off for me, the chard was alright, but the puree was too bland.  Also, I may have put on just a little too much truffle oil on.  But otherwise it was a nice dinner.

Lena’s Homegrown Potato Salad

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Boil potatoes

Boil potatoes

Begin to add ingredients

Begin to add ingredients

Cutting eggs

Cutting eggs

Mix it all together

Mix it all together

Now let chill

Now let chill

Out on the table

Out on the table

Hi there, it feels great to share with you, MY FIRST ACTUAL POST!  Sorry it’s a bit late, but today (9/1/13) we are having someone over for dinner, so what better a time.  Now I know I said we were looking through cookbooks, but this recipe is more of an experiment.  We are trying to redo my Dad’s cousin, Lena’s potato salad.  And I think we did pretty well, but her’s was better due to the fact that everything was actually homegrown, in her garden.  She even made her own mayo.  But now for the recipe…

  • 1 cup fresh garden peas
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups lemon mayonnaise
  • 1/8 cup of capers
  • 6 medium new potatoes
  • 1 bunch spring onions
  1. Boil potatoes in their skin until just tender to a fork, let cool.
  2. Boil eggs until hard boiled, and let cool.
  3. clean and chop up the spring onions, including some of the green stem.
  4. Peel potatoes and chop into large cubes
  5. Peel eggs and cut into  quarters.
  6. Mix all ingredients together and chill.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Well everyone seemed to like this dish.  Our guest said it was delightful after a hearty “mmmm…”  My mom said it was excellent and creamy.  And my dad said it was refreshing.  And even though we couldn’t replicate Lena’s recipe exactly we all agreed that it was pretty close.  And please don’t mind the fact all the pictures are at the top, I’m not quite sure how to fix it.

What We’ll be Writing

So we decided that we would look through the cookbooks and try some of the recipes in them.  Once we cook them we’ll share them with you; the recipe, our thoughts and ratings, how easy it was to make, or if it would be easier to just go out and eat it.  And if you want you can try them yourself and tell us what you think.