Monday, March 28, 2005

Celeriac and Parsnip Soup and Pizzagena

I had a celeriac (a.k.a. celery root) in my fridge for a couple of weeks and I didn't know what to do with it. I found a recipe for Celeriac and Parsnip soup which called for many things I happened to have in my fridge. So, I tried it.

  • 2 tsp butter

  • 1 tsp olive oil

  • 1 leek, white part cleaned and chopped

  • 1/2 onion, chopped

  • 1 1/2 ribs celery with leaves, chopped

  • 1/4 lb parsnip, peeled and chopped (I had two so I used both)

  • 1/2 lb celeriac (about 2 cups peeled and chopped)

  • 1 14oz can vegetable broth

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 bay leaf

  • couple sprigs of Italian parsley

  • couple sprigs of fresh lemon thyme (I didn't have any so I used a pinch of dried thyme)

  • salt and pepper

Saute the leek, onion, and celery in olive oil and butter until soft and golden. Add parsnip, celeriac, broth, herbs, salt and pepper, and broth. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until veggies are soft. Remove from heat. Remove bay leaf and parsley. Puree, season, and server with grated swiss cheese. (I only had cheddar.)

The soup was good, but a little bit sweet due to the parsnip. I liked the celeriac though and I'll probably try another recipe. I heard it makes a good gratin.

Now, for the Pizzagena. Pizzagena is an Italian meat and egg pie that is traditionally served on Easter. Matt's mom makes this every year and it is one of Matt's favorite dishes. I don't have a recipe, although I plan on obtaining it so I can carry on the tradition, but this is the gist of it:

Mix chopped hard boiled egg, chopped pepperoni, and chopped prosciutto with an egg and milk batter (like a quiche). I don't think there is any cheese in it. I can taste nutmeg though. Bake this in home-made sweet pie crust. There is a crust on top as well as on the bottom. Server at room temperature. It's slightly sweet, a bit salty and spicy. It's really really good. I gather that there is a different recipe for every Italian family. My mother-in-law makes it the same way her mother made it. I'm curious about other ways of making it, but her way will always be my favorite and it's yet another reason why I find it very hard to be 100% vegetarian.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

New set of dishes

Sort of.

You could say that I brought out the good, white china, but that would be pushing it. I got tired of my Blogger "Dots" template and decided to go minimal for a little while. I'm thinking of this Blogger "Minima" template as a blank canvas, or an empty white dinner plate (to keep the metaphor going) that I will dress with color and character as time goes on.

Stay tuned...

Monday, March 21, 2005

Oodles of Noodles

This weekend, I had an unexpected craving for Ramen Noodles.

It'd been a number of years since I had Ramen Noodles. My mom used to feed them to my brother and me for weekend lunches when we were kids. We called them "oodles of noodles." I ate Ramen as soup when I was a kid. I got a kick out of pounding on the package with my fist to break up the noodles so they would easily fit in my spoon. I also liked to nibble on the "raw" noodles. After pouring in the season packet, my mom used to let my brother and me lick out the inside of the envelope. The second ingredient in the season packet is MSG. The first is salt. I don't think my mom knew how bad they were for us at the time. I'd like to think I wouldn't server them to my kids (when I have kids). But it's hard to resist the price at $0.16/package!

Then, there was Ramen in college, living in a 10' sqare dorm room with a microwave and an electric tea kettle. How many packs of Ramen we ate in college, I'll never know. In college I learned to eat Ramen as noodles, not soup. The noodles were left whole and eaten with a fork and most of the liquid was drained out. This concentrated the salty MSG flavor.

After college, there was the tight budget, apartment livng years. By this time, I had a better sense of eating healthfully, but it was still hard to pass up the 10 packs of Ramen for $1.00 at the grocery store. My way of eating Ramen had evolved again. Now, Ramen became a combination of soup and noodles and was eaten with both a fork and a spoon. The noodles brick was broken in half so that the noodles were still long and curly, but a little easier to eat in the salty broth. I tried to develop a system when eating Ramen this way, but it was always difficult. Should I eat the noodles then sip the broth? Or should I sip the broth, then eat the noodles. Or alternate? I also remember a friend serving a vegetable stir fry for dinner that consisted of Ramen noodles, vegetables, and beer. I remember it being really good, too.

I gave into my craving and bought two packages of chicken mushroom Ramen yesterday. We ate them for lunch and enjoyed the guilty pleasure of steaming saturated fat, sodium, and chemicals. Then, for dinner, I made a virtually fat free (save for some extra virgin olive oil) vegetable soup that contained fresh leeks, spinach, and zucchini along with chick peas and tomatoes. I redeemed myself.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Vegetarian Stuffed Cabbage

When I was little, my favortie part about my grandmother's stuffed cabbage was the cabbage. It sounds a little gross, but I love the texture of boiled cabbage. I would peel the cabbage off of the meat stuffing and eat it and leave the meat.

Last night I made a vegetarian version of stuffed cabbage. The original recipe came from Cooking Light and was meant for a slow cooker, which I do not have. I made it on the stove and it came out yummy. Matt wasn't as crazy about it as I was, but I guess he's not a big fan of cabbage.

  • Large head cabbage, cored and steamed

  • olive oil

  • 1 1/2 cups onion, chopped

  • 3 cups cooked barley

  • 1/2 cup currents (I used raisins)

  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

  • 2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted

  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

  • 14.5 oz crushed tomatoes from a can

  • 1/2 cup apple juice

  • 1 Tbsp cider vinegar

  • salt and pepper

Core the cabbage head and steam for about 8 minutes. (I placed the whole thing in a pot with about an inch of water, then covered the pot and brought the water to a boil. When the water came to a boil, I turned the gas down and let it simmer for 8-10 minutes.) Let cabbage cool slightly and gently peel 16 (or as many as you can get) leaves and set aside. Try not to tear the leaves.

Saute the onion in olive oil until soft. Remove from heat and stir in cooked barley, feta, pine nuts, raisins, parsley, and season with salt and pepper.

Roll up about 1/3 cup of barley mixture in each cabbage leaf and place seam side down in a large skillet coated with cooking spray.

Combine tomatoes, apple juice, vinegar and more salt and pepper to make sauce. Pour evenly over cabbag leaves. Cover skillet and cook on low heat for about 45 minutes.

Yum! This makes plenty for leftovers if you have a small family like I do.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Chicken Pot Pie Update

I baked the chicken pot pie for dinner last night. (See previous post dated 2/28/05). Just like several recipes said, I baked it at 400 degrees for 1/2 hour. I even coated the crust with an egg wash.

The pie looked really yummy and good when I removed it from the oven. Unfortunately, the carrots and potatoes were not totally cooked through. I didn't put it back in the oven because the crust was perfectly browned and I didn't want to burn it. I guess the next time I make chicken pot pie (next year, probably), I will have to precook the veggies before hand.

The pie still tasted really good though.