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Archive for the ‘The Everyday Foodie’ Category

Freezing fresh herbs

In by Katherine, The Everyday Foodie on March 25 at 1:42 am

If you’ve cooked with fresh herbs, you already know that the dried variety in a jar doesn’t even come close in flavor and scent.  But how do you keep bunches of herbs from wilting before you use them?

freeze fresh herbs

Most fresh herbs actually freeze quite well.  I’ve had good experiences especially with parsley and green onion, both of which have hardy leaves.  Eggplant and other vegetables work well also, if you have extras.

To preserve your herbs, wash the leaves and remove them from their stems, where applicable.  Pat thoroughly dry with paper towels to prevent ice crystals from forming; place in labeled individual ziplock bag and store with all your other herbs in a larger freezer-safe meta-bag.  That’s it!

To use them, simply take out a few leaves from the freezer and use them as you normally would, such as for stir-frys or for garnishes.  I am especially fond of placing a few mint leaves and ice cubes in my glass of water on a hot summer’s day.

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Chunky Lentil Soup with Parmesan

In by Katherine, The Everyday Foodie on January 30 at 9:18 pm
“Here’s the dish to serve when the mercury’s low and your mood’s down with it.  Rice, vegetables, and cheese make this lentil soup uncommonly hearty.  Add bread, and you’ll have dinner.” (Diana Shaw, Almost Vegetarian)

I’ve resolved this semester to take my foray into semi-vegetarianism up a notch.  It’s a shame that the vegetables and fruits I bring home from the fabled Berkeley Bowl, while the cheapest ones this side of Ranch 99, and certainly the freshest, are the same varities that can be found at Safeway.  Tomatoes, cucumbers and broccoli?  I need to live it up a little bit.  How about some rutabagas?  Edible salad flowers?  Brussels sprouts by the stalk?

I’m going to go for two (2) new vegetables or fruits per week.  I’ll post the results of the expansions of my culinary horizon here.

This week: Swiss chard and uncooked lentils.

Chard has a delicate flavor similar to that of spinach when cooked.  To prepare it for cooking, fold each leaf in half along the red stem and gently tear the stem away.  Young chard leaves are more tender — Amy made a delicious salad of winter greens, including chard, yesterday.

Green lentils are an excellent source of protein and iron, two nutrients I seem to be always lacking since I stopped eating meat regularly.  Lentils come in many other varieties, including brown, black, and yellow.

Last week, I used this recipe (with a few alterations) from Diana Shaw’s Almost Vegetarian, to great success.  I got compliments from several of my omnivorous friends who praised the soup for its heartiness and its delicious blend of parmesan and chard.  It can be made in advance, frozen for storage, and made excellent leftovers with a hunk of Semifreddi’s sour bâtard.

Chunky Lentil Soup with Parmesan
Cooking time: 1 hour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large white or yellow onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
4 carrots, chopped
3 large celery stalks, including leaves, coarsely chopped, or 1 small fennel bulb, including leaves
3 cups torn washed Swiss chard
1 1/2 quarts vegetable broth or chicken broth
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 cup uncooked green lentils
1/4 cup uncooked white rice, although next time I will try orzo as a substitute instead
1/2 cup (plus extra) grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
Freshly ground pepper to taste

1.  Heat the olive oil in a large pot.  Add the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery or fennel, and saute over medium heat until everything’s very soft, about 20 minutes.
2.  Stir in the spinach or chard, and cook, stirring, until it turns bright green, about 2 minutes more.
3.  Add the vegetable broth, pureed tomatoes, and lentils.  Stir well, cover, and simmer over medium-low heat.
4.  Stir in the rice, cover again, and let the mixture simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes more, or until the rice is cooked through.
5.  Meanwhile, combine the parmesan and parsley.
6.  Stir the parmesan parsley mixture into the soup, making sure to blend it throughout.  Season with pepper.  Ladle the soup into serving bowls and serve right away.  Top with extra parmesan.

Light Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes

In by Amy, Cooking for N00bs, The Everyday Foodie on January 16 at 6:57 pm

Cooking time: 20 minutes | Originally enjoyed on: 1/16/2010

A new year means it’s time to get off my lazy butt and post at least 1 of the 8 topics I have to write about. My dear brother gave me a couple of Alton Brown Good Eats DVDs for Christmas, and one particularly helpful set is on cooking from things already in your pantry. This recipe is from an episode on cooking pasta, as is a great one for beginner chefs.

Spaghetti tossed in extra virgin olive oil with sun-dried tomatoes, cheese, olives, and smoked oysters.

Watching this episode made me remember that while I love sun-dried tomatoes, I had yet to cook with them. I resolved to remedy this once I returned to Berkeley.

This pasta is pretty much as easy as you can get, short of mixing pasta with pre-made sauce. After you cook the pasta, drain it and put aside. Pour some olive oil into a bowl or plate (only a couple of tablespoons); place about a teaspoon of garlic in the center. Mix thoroughly into pasta (tongs, chopsticks, or a fork and spoon may be helpful here)–since the pasta is still very hot, it’ll cook the garlic without burning it. Lastly, add whatever other ingredients you’d like: in the original episode, Alton used cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and nuts. We didn’t have any nuts, but we did toss in cheese (leftover packets from the Costco 3-cheese ravioli), sliced sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and smoked oysters.

Some suggestions to get you started on ingredients: parsley, pine nuts, chopped basil, sautéed mushrooms, grilled chicken.

And there you go, tasty pasta that took little to no skill to make.

P.S. According to Alton Brown, don’t rinse your pasta after draining; your sauce will stick to your pasta better.

Biscuits and Gravy

In by Katherine, The Everyday Foodie on December 15 at 12:02 pm

There’s nothing better on a lazy winter morning than steaming hot biscuits from the oven.

Biscuits Supreme with Jimmy Dean sausage and gravy, and a fried egg on the side.

Deanne and I made these biscuits with Jack and Varun last week; the recipe is a family favorite from our worn and red-checkered copy of the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, a classic as far as I’m concerned.

We paired the biscuits with eggs, Jimmy Dean sausage, and gravy for a delicious savory breakfast, but they also taste wonderful with marmalade or fruit preserves.

I recommend doubling the recipe for a crowd.  We used whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose, and improvised by substituting fresh squeezed lime juice for cream of tartar, but the biscuits came out fine.  The secret to these biscuits’ perfect round shape is cutting the rolled-out dough with the lightly floured rim of a glass, which works just as well as a biscuit cutter.  I like to roll the dough twice as thin as the recipe asks, then fold it over onto itself, before making the cuts.  The result is a flaky biscuit that comes apart into perfect halves after baking.

Biscuits Supreme

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
2/3 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 450F.  Stir together flour, baking powder, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt.  Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Make a well in the center; add milk all at once.  Stir just until dough clings together.  Knead gently on a lightly floured surface for 10 to 12 strokes.  Roll or pat to 1/2 inch thickness.  Cut with a 2.5 inch biscuit cutter, dipping cutter in flour between cuts.  Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake in a 450 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden.  Serve warm.  Makes 10 to 12 biscuits.

Put an Egg on It

In by Amy, Cooking for N00bs, The Everyday Foodie on December 14 at 12:47 am

Chicks and ducks better scurry

When I put an egg on my curry

When I eat a hearty meal with an egg on top!

Finals week has prevented me from going grocery shopping, wreaking havoc on my diet. Suddenly I’m  much more content to eat instant, quick-to-prepare foods. I’ve already had fried rice (3 times), ramen (2 times), microwavable mac and cheese (3 times), and frozen dumplings (5 times) on several occasions in the past week and a half.

I’ve still been cooking from scratch! Just on much rarer occasions.

At any rate, in an attempt to clean the fridge, I’ve also been reminded of one of my favorite foods: eggs.

Generally, I try not to use eggs too often because of their high cholesterol content, but I’ve made an exception this week. I just polished off a classic finals week dish (ramen–mee goreng, in particular) that I made 5 times more awesome with an addition of a fried egg.

Instant mee goreng made instantly better: ramen noodles with an egg on top. Ah, what a difference a single egg can make!

Midway through my meal, I realized just how much I love eggs. They make EVERYTHING taste better, especially the most n00bish of meals. (Katherine was not too impressed and dryly remarked, “You know Forrest Gump? You sound like-” Me: “Yes. I know. *sigh*.”) At any rate, I think I also like them because they look so smiley and happy. Example:

  • Fried egg on top of fried rice
  • Egg mixed into ramen soup
  • Fried egg with steak or even better, Vietnamese pork chops
  • Runny eggs in a Vietnamese sandwich (so messy but so tasty)

Not to mention the wonderful dishes based on eggs: poached eggs, soft-boiled eggs with soy sauce/sesame oil, eggs in a basket (a great snack), soy sauce eggs, and my personal favorite, EGG TARTS. (For those of you in the SF Bay Area, you NEED to head over to Golden Gate Bakery and taste the best egg tarts in America.)

So next time you make a meal, try enhancing it with an egg. You’ll be converted for life.

Oh man, this post makes me realize that I could never be a vegan.

Potato, Red Pepper, and Feta Fritatta

In by Katherine, The Everyday Foodie on December 14 at 12:36 am

Check out our new Press section above for a roundup of sites featuring ourPeriodic Table Cupcakes, including Wired, Serious Eats, and the Huffington Post’s blog.  If you’re new to Foodie Friday, welcome!

Potato, roasted red pepper, and feta fritatta

If you’re not familiar with the fritatta, it’s an Italian egg dish somewhere between an omelette and a quiche.

This easy one-pan fritatta recipe from The Kitchn has quickly become one of my standbys this semester.  I think the recipe’s tangy, slightly salty feta cheese adds just the right counterbalance to the hearty potato and egg.  Make it for dinner with a side of broccoli, and then have it again cold for breakfast — the flavors deepen overnight.

The Trader Joe’s roasted red peppers from a jar aren’t necessary — fresh red pepper works just fine — but they do add another dimension to the dish.  A word to the wise: Don’t skimp out on the fresh thyme.  It’s there for a reason.  Potato and fresh thyme are like Batman and Robin.  The latter is not technically necessary, but without it, you wouldn’t have a dynamic duo, would you?

Cranberry Almond Spinach Salad

In by Amy, Foodie Fridays, The Everyday Foodie on November 25 at 10:57 pm

Cooking Time: 20 minutes | Originally enjoyed on: 11/22/2009

This past Sunday, the Foodies gathered for one of the most epic Foodie Fridays ever: Thanksgiving Pre-Party. With over seventeen guests in attendance, we approached this one differently by making it a potluck. We had a ball stuffing ourselves full of delicious food and enjoying the fantastic view from Paul/Mark/Neil’s fantastic apartment.

The courses had an approximate $10 budget and included: dinner rolls, chips and dip, sautéed mushrooms, green bean casserole, garlic mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, salad, baked spaghetti with olives and cilantro, ham, turkey, salmon, vegetable stir-fry, home-made cranberry sauce, stuffing, candied yams, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, ice cream, and roasted squash.

View from the apartment of our wonderful hosts, Mark, Paul, and Neil. True story.

Oh, and for the over 21 crowd, “Indian beer” and wine.

In honor of remembering that dinner and the holidays, I’m posting one of the dishes I made for the potluck: cranberry almond salad with a sweet cider and vinegar dressing.

Cranberry almond salad with sweet dressing; picture from allrecipes.com.

I first had this salad one year ago when I attended a smaller pre-Thanksgiving gathering with Anna S. and friends. It was the best homemade salad I had ever tasted, and  I’ve reproduced that dish several times after. You can find the recipe at the original site.

The recipe is very simple, but the ingredients tend to add up. I recommend buying the poppy seeds and sesame in bulk (a la Whole Foods or Berkeley Bowl). You can also find dried cranberries and pre-roasted almonds at Trader Joe’s for an extremely reasonable price. Lastly, I usually use more cranberries and almonds in my salad than the recipe calls for, so don’t be afraid to vary the proportion of dry ingredients to salad to match your taste.

Beef Chili

In by Amy, Cooking for N00bs, The Everyday Foodie on November 21 at 6:24 pm

Cooking Time: 30 minutes | Originally enjoyed on: 11/20/2009

On a rainy day, nothing combats the weather like the taste of hot soup.

Beef Chili: the meat-flavored cousin of Vikram's Three Bean Chili.

John, Sandra, and I returned from a Safeway run only to be met with pouring rain. I immediately switched our lunch plans to making chili. This recipe is a modification of Vikram S.’s three bean chili, which I originally made for a Foodie Friday last October. While Vikram’s recipe has a more sophisticated flavor that contains multiple bell peppers, a tomato base, and no meat, I just threw in the “right” ingredients until I was satisfied with how it tasted.

You’ll need:

  • About 1/2 pound of ground meat (I used beef I had in the freezer)
  • 1 bell pepper (I used red)
  • 2 cans beans (I used chili beans and drained garbanzo beans)
  • Green beans
  • Half an onion, diced
  • Corn (can be frozen, canned, or fresh, depending on your time constraints)
  • Cumin, fennel, cayenne pepper, chili pepper, paprika, salt and pepper to taste

I love making chili because it’s so easy: just prep your food and cook it in one pan. For prep, dice the onion, cut the bell pepper into strips (or squares, whatever you prefer); and chop the green beans into one-inch pieces. Defrost the corn, and open the cans of beans. Drain the beans if they’re not chili flavored–otherwise, your soup will be too watery.

Brown the beef thoroughly on medium heat; season with salt and pepper. Then, saute the onions until slightly translucent. Add in the red peppers and the canned beans. Cook for about three minutes. Then, add in the corn and the green beans.

Let the chili simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until the vegetables are softer. Then, season with spices to taste. Serve with bread, cheese, or over rice.

Deanne’s Simple Salmon

In by Deanne, Cooking for N00bs, The Everyday Foodie, Uncategorized on November 8 at 4:24 pm

If you are ever looking for a main dish that is impressive yet easy to make, this Simple Salmon recipe is the way to go! This recipe is in no way completely original or creative, it simply involved one hungry Cal student with fresh salmon in the fridge, and some spare olive oil and seasoning in the cupboards.

P1100723

For this last-minute recipe, I sprinkled liberal amounts of olive oil and fresh lemon juice and rubbed it into the salmon filet. Then I topped it with all sorts of basic seasoning: salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme. Next, I baked it in the oven for about 15 minutes (depends on the size of your salmon filet). The baking time is absolutely crucial–make sure that you do not dry out the salmon! Stop when the salmon has just turned from orange-raw to a rather pale pink; you can check by inserting a fork and examining the color of the inner portion. If you have removed the salmon from the oven at the perfect time, the texture should be flaky yet soft and creamy. Hints of lemon will really accentuate the taste.

And voila! You have your fancy baked salmon in under 20 minutes! Quick, easy, delicious, and packed with Omega-3’s! Truly a win-win situation.

Extra: If you are a fan of crispy salmon skin, I recommend also rubbing olive oil and lemon juice to the bottom skin portion of the filet. It will be come crispy with baking and taste like salmon chips. Bon appetit!

Chicken Noodle Soup

In by Katherine, The Everyday Foodie on October 19 at 8:24 pm

When you’re sick all weekend like I’ve been, there’s only one thing to do: Cozy up in a big chair with a box of tissues, watch old movies, and eat chicken noodle soup.

Chicken Noodle Soup

This classic comfort food tastes best pieced together from whatever ingredients you have in your refrigerator.  After all, when you’re under the weather, the last thing you feel like doing is making a grocery run to follow a recipe.

Tonight, I used Trader Joe’s whole wheat pasta, a red bell pepper, half a yellow onion, and some chopped baby carrots.  I heated them up with some organic chicken broth, seasoned it with a few thyme sprigs and a bit of salt and pepper, and left it to simmer on the stove to develop flavor.  With some rest, fluids, and a little bit of the placebo effect, hopefully I’ll be feeling better in no time.