Thursday, January 31, 2013

Whole Grain Bulgur Wheat Salad with Roasted Leeks, Small White Beans and Currants


  • 4 large leeks, halved lengthwise, cleaned and sliced crosswise 1/4-inch thick
  • 2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons coarse kosher salt, more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 can Goya Small White Beans, drained
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup Whole Grain Bulgur Wheat
  • 1/2 cup dried currants
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery leaves and tender stems


1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Using a large rimmed baking sheet, toss leeks with 1/4 cup oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Spread leeks out in a single layer (use a second baking sheet if necessary) and roast, tossing frequently, until golden brown and crisp at the edges, about 20 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, toss leeks with beans, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, chile flakes and garlic. Stir in 2/3 cup oil. Let marinate while you prepare the Bulgur.
3. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook Bulgur until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well. Toss with bean mixture. Stir in currants and celery leaf. Taste and add more salt or lemon if needed. Serve warm or at room temperature. 
Based on a recipe from The New York Times: Farro Salad with Leeks, Chickpeas and Currants

I served this with Apple Chicken Sausage.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Rutabaga Soup with Herb-Crusted Scallops

This is a perfect cold winter night's soup! I have made it twice; last night I smashed the vegetables, which I preferred to the other time when I puree the soup.
Smashed Version
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
1 3/4 pounds rutabagas, peeled, chopped (about 4 cups)
1 cup chopped onion
1 large celery stalk, chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 large garlic cloves, peeled, mined
1 6-ounce Yukon Gold potato, peeled chopped
5 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
8 cups vegetable or chicken stock

6 large sea scallops
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon mined fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil

Melt butter in large pot over medium-low heat. Add rutabagas, onion, celery, carrot and garlic. Cover and cook until vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Add potato, thyme sprigs and bay leaf to pot. Cover and cook another 15-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add stock and bring to simmer. Cover partially and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes. Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
(Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring soup to simmer before serving.)
Cut each scallop horizontally in half. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Combine 1 tablespoon minced thyme, tarragon and parsley in bowl with oil. Heat skillet over medium high heat. Add scallops and sauté until just opaque in center, about 1 minute per side.

 Ladle rutabaga soup into warmed soup bowls. Place 2 scallops atop soup and a sprig of parsley. Serve.
~Based on a recipe from Bon Appetit, December 1999 (which was based on a recipe from Harvest restaurant, Atlanta).
Puree Version

Friday, January 25, 2013

Turkey and Black-Bean Soup with Spinach

Outstanding! From Food & Wine "Quick From Scratch, One-Dish Meals." This is a great cookbook.

I made a few changes; noted below:

I halved the recipe; I used 1/2 pound ground turkey, cooked; 3 cups stock, 5 ounces spinach and I small can chopped tomatoes.

  • 1/4 pound sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips 
  • 1 onion, chopped 
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1 3/4 cups canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree (one 15-ounce can) 
  • 1 quart canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock 
  • 1 2/3 cups drained and rinsed canned black beans (one 15-ounce can) 
  • 1 1- pounds piece cooked deli turkey, cut into 1/2-by-1/2-by-1/4-inch slices
  • 10 ounce spinach, stems removed, leaves washed and cut crosswise into 1-inch strips


  1. In a large stainless-steel pot, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pot.
  2. Reduce the heat to moderately low. Add the onion to the pot and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chili powder, cocoa, Tabasco sauce, oregano, salt, pepper, tomatoes, and broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Add the black beans and turkey to the pot. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the spinach and the bacon. Cook until the spinach just wilts, about 1 minute. 
  4. Variations : · Use smoked turkey in place of plain. : · Substitute 1 2/3 cups drained and rinsed kidney, pinto, or cannellini beans for the black beans.
  5. Wine Recommendation: You need a lusty red wine with plenty of spiciness and fruit flavor to stand up to this powerful soup. That describes zinfandel to a T, so try one here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Spicy Shrimp Biryani



And the house smelled wonderful!

  • 2 cups basmati or brown rice
  • 1 pound shrimp, shelled and de-veined
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro or parsley
  • 1 Jalapeno
  • 1 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 4 large cloves of garlic
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick, 1 1/2 inches
  • 1/4 stick of butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 10 - 12 whole green cardamom pods
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 sprigs mint
  • salt to taste 
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash the rice and soak it in cold water until needed.
  2. Wash the shrimp and drain it well. Add the salt and turmeric and mix. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Peel the ginger and garlic and use a food processor to blend it to a paste with the cilantro/parsley and jalapeno (I did not seed the pepper.). Use a little water if it is too dry.
  4. Chop the onion and mint and leave to the side until needed.
  5. Heat the oil on medium in an oven safe dish. Add the peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and 1 bay leaf. Saute until fragrant, approximately 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add the chopped onion and saute until light brown, stirring constantly.
  7. Add 1/2 of the paste and saute for another minute or two.
  8. Add water and salt (1-2 teaspoons depending on taste) and bring to this to a boil.
  9. Drain the rice and add it to the boiling water and add the butter and mint. Bring this to a boil, cover and place it in the oven. Bake for 20--40 minutes (depending upon what kind of rice)
  10. When the rice has been in the oven for about 10-30 minutes (or almost done) heat some oil in a saute pan and add the remainder of the paste along with the other bay leaf. Saute this for a minute or two and add the shrimp. Saute the shrimp until done; about 5 minutes.
  11. Remove the rice from the oven. Top it with the shrimp.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Ricotta Cheesecake with Pine Nuts and Raisins -- Patricia Wells' - Trattoria

My daughter and son-and-in-law came over for lunch a few days after Christmas.

I had some ricotta leftover from our Christmas Eve party so I decided to make a ricotta cheesecake. This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks, Patricia Well's "Trattoria." Lunch began with a bowl of Harira.

She writes: "This is a delicate, tenderly sweet, and crustless ricotta cheesecake, studded lightly with pine nuts and raisins, and harboring a faint hint of lemon, orange, and spice. I frankly prefer it to the heavier, richer American-style cheesecake, and strongly recommend that cheesecake lovers add it to their repertoire. I sampled this desert one sunny Saturday in December, at the excellent family-run Trattoria Checchino dal 1887, in Rome.


Unsalted butter and all-purpose flour for preparing the cake pan
1 cup Vanilla Sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 pounds whole-mil ricotta (or two 15-ounces containers)
6 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (I used powdered.)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Grated zest of 1 orange
Confectioner's sugar, for garnish (I did not use this as I am not a big fan of it.)


1. Preheat the oven to 300.
2. Generously butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan, tapping out any excess flour. Set aside.
3. In a small bowl, stir together the vanilla sugar, flour, pine nuts, raisins, and salt. Set aside.
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, gently beat the ricotta at low speed until smooth. Add the beaten eggs little by little, then add the vanilla sugar mixture and gently mix to blend. Ass the spices, vanilla, and zests. Mix to blend thoroughly.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake until the cheesecake is a deep golden brown and fairly firm in the center, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about in hour and 30 minutes. Transfer to a baking rack to cool. Once cooled, cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving times. (The cake can be make up to 1 day in advance.).
6. To serve, release the side of the springform pan, leaving the cheesecake on the pan base. Sprinkle the top generously with confectioner's sugar and serve, cutting into very thin wedges.

NOTE: I halved the recipe and I beat the mixture by hand. The ricotta cheesecake was delicious!

Harira - Spicy Bean Soup - One World Vegetarian Cookbook

One World Vegetarian Cookbook is one of my favorite cookbooks and this spicy bean soup is easy to make and delicious.

From the book:

"When I was staying in Marrakesh, the diffa, or feast, comprising many course was served one night. There were several meat dishes, so I asked if I could eat only non-meat ones. They were happy for that, and charged very little--perhaps because the meat dishes were the centerpiece. This bean soup, Harira, if often made with lamb but this is a meatless version. I sometime add peas or other vegetables to use them up.


1 onion, chopped
1 can garbanzos/check peas
1 can white kidney or borlotti beans
1 can tomatoes
1/2 tsp saffron threads (You may substitute paprika or turmeric.)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 green chili, seeded and chopped or 1/4 tsp chili powder (I used both.)
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
juice of one lemon
2 quarts stock
1/2 cup rice
1 tbsp flour
salt and pepper


1. Using a saucepan, gently fry the onion and then add the garbanzo/chickpeas, beans, tomatoes, saffron, cinnamon and chili/powder.
2. The put in one tablespoon of the parsley, plus the cilantro, the lemon juice and seasoning. Stir well and cook for 5 minutes.
3. Now pour in the stock and then add the rice. Stir well, and boil for 10-15 minutes until the rice is soft.
4. While that is cooking, mix the flour with a little water to make a roux and stir this into the soup.
5. Adjust the seasonings, and cook for a further 15 minutes, stirring from time to time. Serve with the remaining parsley on top.

I served this with my No Knead Rye Bread.