Category Archives: Vegetarian

Pasta with Mushroom Cream Sauce

Pasta with Mushroom Cream Sauce

This recipe is adapted from one I found in Bon Appetit. It’s hardy and make a good winter dish.

Pasta with Mushroom Cream Sauce

Pasta with Mushroom Cream Sauce

Pasta with Mushroom Cream Sauce

Start a pot of water for the pasta.
Begin by browning the mushrooms in oil. Do this in one-layer batches. Mushrooms have a lot of moisture and if you put too many in the pot at one time, they’ll steam instead of brown.Pasta with Mushroom Cream Sauce
Remove the mushrooms from the pot and add the shallots. Cook until translucent and soft, not brown. Return the mushrooms to the pot, season with salt and pepper and set aside until the pasta is ready.

Cook the pasta until almost done. Use any kind you like. We got this colorful pasta as a Christmas present. They’re colored with carrots, spinach and beets.
Pasta with Mushroom Cream Sauce

Pasta with Mushroom Cream Sauce
Pasta with Mushroom Cream Sauce
When the pasta is almost done drain and transfer to the pot with the mushrooms and toss. Add the cream and one cup of the pasta water and simmer for a few minutes. Turn off the heat and then add the lemon juice and zest, parsley, butter, and toss. Serve with additional grated cheese.

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Baked Potatoes

Baked Potatoes

I got another potato recipe from Tommy the bartender. This one is for baked potatoes. Everybody knows how to bake a potato, right? Well, according to Tommy, if you take a little more care and a few extra steps you can make a really exceptional baked potato.
Baked Potatoes.Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp. salt (more for serving)
  • 4 russet potatoes
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
Brine – 2 tablespoons salt dissolved in ½ cup of water.

 Pre-heat the over to 400o.
Put the potatoes in a bowl and toss to coat thoroughly with the brine.Baked Potatoes.

Instead of poking holes in the skin, cut a long X across the top of the potato about ¼ in deep. Place the potatoes on a rack in a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour 45 minutes.
Remove the potatoes from the oven and cut the X a little deeper – about another ½ inch. Coat the skins with the oil and put the potatoes back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

Break them open by pushing in the ends and serve them simply with salt and butter or any way you like.Baked Potatoes.

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Red Pesto Pasta

Red Pesto Pasta

This is adapted from a recipe in Bon Appétit.

Red Pesto Pasta.

Ingredients:
  • 6 anchovies
  • 3 smashed garlic cloves
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup raw walnuts
  • 1 – 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • ½ red bell pepper, sliced *
  • 3 oz. Parmigiana cheese
  • 2 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsps. butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 lb. small pasta (ziti, penne, gemelli, etc.)
* If you like it spicy use red serranoes instead of a bell pepper.
Put a pot of salted water on the stove for the pasta. By the time the water boils and the pasta is cooked, the sauce will be ready.
Cook the anchovies, garlic, and walnuts in the oil until the garlic starts to color. Add the tomato paste and the sliced pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.Red Pesto Pasta.

Let the mixture cool for a few minutes and scrape it into a food processor or blender. Add the cheese, lemon juice, and salt. Blend until smooth and pour the mixture into a heated serving bowl and add the butter.
When it’s done, add the pasta and ½ cup of the pasta cooking water to the bowl, more water if the sauce is too dry. Serve Red Pesto Pasta with Parmigiana cheese.Red Pesto Pasta.

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Mrs. Fisher’s Fish Chowder

What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking – on Amazon

fish chowder

fish chowder

Mrs. Fisher’s Fish Chowder

I came across this recipe for fish chowder while browsing through an old cookbook on line. The book’s title is What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking. It was published in 1881 and written by Mrs. Abby Fisher. Mrs. Fisher was a former slave and her cookbook is believed to be the first ever written by an African-American.
The fish chowder recipe appealed to me. I decided to try to make it although Mrs. Fisher doesn’t give very precise instructions, ingredient amounts, or cooking times. Onion, butter, cayenne, and salt were easy but I had to Google ‘sea cracker’ and eventually found a modern equivalent. She doesn’t say what kind of fish so my choice was hake, an inexpensive white fish  For ‘Irish potatoes’ I used Idaho and instead of ‘salt pork’ my substitute was pancetta. I added some olive oil and paprika. I think Mrs. Fisher wrote this book for people who knew how to cook. so she was able to make some assumptions. This recipe worked for me and I’ll definitely make it again.

fish chowder

fish chowderIngredients:

  • 1/4 lb. pancetta cut in one inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 & 1/2  lbs. fish cut into one inch pieces
  • 1 large, peeled and cubed Idaho potatoes
  • 3 ground Pilot Bread Crackers
  • 3 pats of butter
  • 1/4 tsp . cayenne
  • 1/2  tsp. sweet paprika
  • salt to taste

Cook the pancetta on a low heat until it ‘s brown and the fat rendered. Then remove it from the pot.

Also on  low heat, in the same pot, lightly brown the onions and removed them.

fish chowder

As Mrs. Fisher says, “Having all now prepared,” add 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil to prevent sticking to the rendered pancetta fat if the pot appears to be too dry, then put in the  fish. Next add the pancetta. Then  a layer of potatoes and then the onions with the sprinkled cracker crumbs. Dot the butter on top of that, sprinkle the cayenne and paprika and that’s it. Cayenne is pretty spicy so be careful how much you use.

fish chowder

Add 2 cups of water, cover the pot and simmer for one hour on a low heat – don’t stir it and disturb the layers.  Check it occasionally and add water if it starts to dry out. Use a ladle when you serve it and be sure to get each layer.

fish chowder


fish chowder

Pilot Bread substitute for sea crackers

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Scallion Pancakes

Scallion Pancakes

There’s not much to say about scallion pancakes. It’s just 4 ingredients, there’re pretty easy to make and the result is delicious.

Scallion Pancakes

Ingredients:
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup chopped scallions
  • Vegetable oil for brushing & frying

Scallion Pancakes

Mix the flour and salt with one cup of hot water. Do it in a bowl or use a food processor. Knead it briefly on a floured surface. Cover it with Saran Wrap and let it rest for an hour.

Scallion Pancakes

Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a thin 8-10-inch round. Brush each round with oil and scatter with scallions. Roll up each round into a tight cylinder, then coil each cylinder around like a bun. Slightly flatten each bun, then roll each into a round pancake about 5-6 inches in diameter.Scallion Pancakes
Scallion Pancakes

Scallion Pancakes


Heat oil in a pan on medium. Fry the pancakes, turning, until lightly browned – about a minute or so per side, adding more oil as needed.Scallion Pancakes

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Cajun Garlic Butter Shrimp

Cajun Garlic Butter Shrimp

Cajun Garlic Butter Shrimp

I was in the mood for shrimp and came across this recipe – Cajun Garlic Butter Shrimp – on Alyssa River’s site The Recipe Critic. It’s simple and quick to make and yet has some very complex flavors. I served it with faro which went well with the sauce. Rice goes well too.

Cajun Garlic Butter Shrimp

Ingredients:
  1. ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
  2. 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  3. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  4. 1 Tablespoon whole grain mustard
  5. 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  6. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  7. 2 tablespoons butter
  8. 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  9. Black pepper
  10. Sliced green onions, for garnish
Cajun Garlic Butter Shrimp
Mix the first six ingredients together in a bowl to make the sauce. Put the butter in a frying pan on high heat. When it melts, add the sauce and let it reduce for a few minutes.
Cajun Garlic Butter ShrimpAdd the shrimp to the pan and sprinkle with black pepper. Stir and cook for a few minutes until the shrimp is done. Garnish with the chopped green onions. Really good and easy to make.

Cajun Garlic Butter Shrimp

Also good with snow peas and rice.

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Zucchini Lasagna

Zucchini Lasagna

No, it’s not really lasagna but that’s what my mother called it. I wasn’t too crazy about vegetables when I was a kid so she thought she’d make it sound more appetizing – zucchini lasagna.. I didn’t like it very much then but I love it now. It’s a good side dish, especially with pasta and not bad on a sandwich.
Zucchini Lasagna.
Zucchini Lasagna.
Pre-heat the oven to 350o.
Slice the zucchini diagonally, season with salt and black pepper, and dredge in flour. Lightly fry it in the oil, drain on paper towels and let it cool. Zucchini Lasagna.

Coat the bottom of a baking dish (we used a 12-inch oval) with some tomato sauce and add a layer of fried zucchini.Add some more sauce, dot it with ricotta and then a sprinkle of parmigiana.Zucchini Lasagna.
Repeat for 2 more layers but for the top layer don’t put any ricotta – just sauce, parmigiana and sprinkle the breadcrumbs. Bake for 25 minutes. Finish under the broiler for 5 minutes, until the parmigiana and breadcrumbs form a crust.
Zucchini Lasagna.

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Cast Iron Margarita

Cast Iron Pan Margarita Pizza

This recipe is for a 12 inch pan. Smaller pan = less dough. I buy my dough ready made for a nearby pizzeria. Here’s a link to a recipe if you want to do it yourself. I don’t buy jarred marinara sauce. It’s too easy to make. There’s a recipe at the bottom of this page.
Cast Iron Pan Margarita Pizza
Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. pizza dough
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 3 oz. marinara sauce
  • Fresh mozzarella
  • Fresh basil
Start by heating the oven to 500 degrees. Flatten and shape the dough to fit the round pan. Pre-heat the pan so it’s hot but not smoking. Spray or brush the pan with olive oil. Place the dough in the pan and stretch it across the bottom and up the sides. Touch the dough, not the pan – it’s hot.
Brush the dough with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the pan on a burner at medium heat. Just when it starts to bubble pour on and spread the sauce. Place a few thinly cut slices of mozzarella on top, leaving some spaces so the red sauce shows. A Margarita should be red (tomato), white (mozzarella), and green (basil) like an Italian flag.Cast Iron Pan Margarita Pizza
Put the pan in the 500 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Remove from the over and scatter torn basil leaves over it while it’s still hot. Let it cool and slice.

Marinara Sauce for Pizza
  • 3 tbsps. olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • Salt, black and red pepper to taste
  • 1 28 oz. can of pureed San Marzano tomatoes
Put the oil in a pan on low heat and lightly saute the garlic. Add the salt and pepper. Don’t let the garlic brown. Pour in the tomatoes, stir and simmer for 25-30 minutes.
That’s marinara sauce – easy, right? You can also make this with crushed tomatoes but puree is better for pizza. After you use 3 ounces for the pizza you’ll have enough left for to serve with a pound of pasta.

Cast Iron Pan Margarita Pizza

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Pasta Primavera


Pasta Primavera

I’m pretty sure that Pasta Primavera is something that was made up in an Italian restaurant in America. My mother used to make pasta with various vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, squash) as a type of minestra. Usually she used only one vegetable but if she felt like it, she’d use a variety of what was available. She never included cream and cheese was only added at the table. My mother called it ‘Pasta with Vegetables.’ I’ll call it ‘primavera’ – that means Spring.Pasta Primavera

Pasta Primavera

Start a pot of salted boiling water that you’ll eventually use for the pasta. Boil the vegetables 1 or 2 at a time until almost tender and remove them to a bowl.Pasta Primavera
When the vegetables are done add some more salt to the boiling water and begin cooking the pasta. After cooking  the vegetables in that water it’s now like vegetable stock. While the pasta cooks in one pot, in a second pot sauté the garlic in the oil. Add some salt, black and red pepper and the parsley.
Pasta Primavera
Pasta Primavera
Add the cooked vegetables and toss to coat with the garlic, parsley and oil on low heat. When the pasta is almost done add it to the vegetables, mix and add 1 & 1/2 cups of pasta water and mix well. Place in a serving bowl, drizzle with some olive oil and serve with grated Parmigiana cheese on the side.

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A Simple Italian Salad

Ravello on the Amalfi Coast

 

A Simple Italian Salad.

A Simple Italian Salad

Try to stick to these simple ingredients. Don’t be tempted to add so-called “Italian” seasoning or garlic. This is a fresh tasting salad, and either of those would muddy the flavors.

A Simple Italian Salad.

Ingredients:
  • 1 orange
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Arugula
Start by peeling and sectioning the orange. Use a blood orange if you can get one. Cut each section into 2 or 3 pieces. It’s easier if you use a scissor. Place the sections in the salad bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the oil and the 2 kinds of vinegar. A good ratio is 2 parts oil and 1 part vinegar. Use a mix of ½ red wine vinegar and ½ balsamic. Let the oranges macerate for 20-30 minutes to flavor the dressing.

A Simple Italian Salad.

Add the Romaine and arugula, toss and serve.

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