"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: garlic

improv jasmine rice dish! . . .

Tonight, it’s a little less humid than it’s been, but it’s still pretty warm. At the local seafood mart, I settled for some frozen Cape scallops when the frozen crabmeat I usually buy there wasn’t the same brand – and it said “Jonah crab” – what’s that?!?

I didn’t want to make a heavy side dish to accompany the scallops, each little nugget worth its weight in gold, cooked in butter, garlic and fresh parsley – and I finally settled on making a rice pilaf kind of dish using jasmine rice. Instead of cooking it in a rice cooker, I found some tips to finely grate some fresh garlic and fresh ginger root into an olive oil, butter mixture in a pot with a lid. As it gave off its aroma, I measured in about 3/4 cup of jasmine rice and stirred it around in the pot until the grains were coated. Then, I added a cup and a half of hot chicken stock and stirred to combine. At the very end, I threw in a handful of golden raisins!

The rice cooked for awhile and I stirred it with a spatula so it wouldn’t stick. After it steamed for awhile and absorbed all of the broth, I stirred it again and lifted the lid for the rice to settle in and for the liquid to evaporate. I wasn’t sure how it would taste, but it was a hit – chewy grains of flavorful rice and plump golden raisins!

Very tasty! And as easy as could be to make!


meatballs!! (Julia Turshen’s turkey, ricotta recipe) . . .

Last week, I borrowed Julia Turshen’s cookbook called “Small Victories” from the library. I’ve noticed her presence in cookbooks with whom she’s collaborated: Mario Batali, Ina Garten and Gwyneth Paltrow (although GP of course disclaimed her help!) Anyhow, she takes a different approach with simple recipes, the “small victories” being easier ways to cook. This recipe is a good example.

Here are the differences that I experienced myself (and I cook a lot!~):

  1. I usually use a meatloaf ground meat combination to make meatballs. This is the first time I’ve used ground turkey!
  2. I’ve never used ricotta as part of the meatball mix!
  3. I’ve sauteed the meatballs in a frying pan, not formed and baked in the oven!
  4. I’ve not had the benefit of breadcrumbs from homemade oatmeal bread before!
  5. I’ve not used so much fresh parsley or fresh herbs in the meatballs before either.
  6. I  fry chopped onion before adding it into the meatball mixture, ditto for garlic.

What I have done is to make a large batch of walnut-sized meatballs to serve for at least two meals: one is with Ragu (it really is tastier than Prego in my mind,) thin spaghetti and freshly grated parmesan cheese. The second meal is usually Swedish meatballs stroganoff with mushrooms in a beef broth gravy with sour cream and fettucine pasta.

Here’s what I put together using this recipe as a springboard:

  1. I cut the recipe in half, using 1 pound of ground turkey, not 2 lbs.
  2. Used 3/4 cup of whole milk ricotta
  3. 1 egg, 1/2 freshly grated onion, 1 garlic clove grated by hand
  4. 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs from homemade oatmeal bread
  5. 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  6. 3 sprigs of fresh thyme – leaves stripped from stems
  7. Lawry’s garlic salt and cracked pepper
  8. Mixed everything gently together with my hands; formed walnut sized meatballs and placed them on baking sheets spread with olive oil. Be sure to spray the sheet before putting the meatballs on it – otherwise, they stick like glue when they’re baked!
  9. Baked at 425 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown

Tonight, I’ll heat up the meatballs (about 4 each) in Ragu traditional tomato sauce, adding some herbs and garlic to the sauce. I’ll ask G. if he wants angel hair or thin spaghetti with it – and we’ll grate lots of parmesan sauce with the microplane while we eat. A small plain butter lettuce salad with white balsamic vinegar, fig vinegar and fresh lemon mixed with olive and walnut oil goes on the side. Hope these meatballs are as tasty as they smelled coming out of the oven just now!

Footnote: The meatballs in the pan stuck when I removed them – let them cool too long – but the ones on the parchment paper came up easily. Also, I often saute some fresh zucchini and mushrooms, both sliced thinly, to augment the meatballs in the spaghetti sauce and the swedish meatball stroganoff.

And here’s a loaf of oatmeal bread fresh from the oven around 4:30 this afternoon. I used a hand mixer to mix the dough and let the bread rise: the crumb and taste of this loaf was the best we’ve ever had. I’m circling the wagons on making beautiful bread without a lot of time or fuss. Makes great toast too!

edamame dip . . .


I was reminded by a FB post I made a year ago to make a new batch of edamame dip to serve with kale and spinach chips for the Patriots game against the Buffalo Bills today. I’m making it because Rex Ryan, the Bill’s coach is always so outspokenly obnoxious in his remarks, together with the fact that the Bills are the only ones who have defeated the Patriots so far this year during Tom Brady’s absence — so that we’ll enjoy having some extra refreshments to watch them play this afternoon.

The recipe goes like this:

Take a batch of fresh edamame beans and put them into a small food processor. Add chopped garlic, chopped red onion, olive oil and fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice. A pinch of cumin and some chopped fresh cilantro leaves. Process it together and taste for seasoning. Add some cracked pepper and a dab of chili paste (siraicha) if desired.

Cover and let it sit in the fridge for an hour before serving with kale/spinach chips or Sun chips.

Addendum: When I made it today, I discovered after adding the lemon and lime juice plus some olive oil that the “dip” wasn’t emulsifying enough. So instead of adding more olive oil (flavor) I opted to add a little lite buttermilk to the mixture. It became smoother and the taste was tangy and full of flavor. I sprinkled some cracked pepper on top – and we’re going to have it as a spread on toasted pumpernickel bread to eat along with our clam chowder for lunch.




mushrooms! . . .

cooked portobella mushroom dish . . .

cooked portobella mushroom dish . . .

Trader Joe’s is a great local store to pick up things you can’t get elsewhere, like Kerrygold Irish butter made from grass-fed cow’s milk. A NYTimes food tasting survey led by Melissa Clark a few months ago pronounced another butter as the “best” butter around. It started with a “P” but I can’t remember the name of it now. I made a special trip to Whole Foods to buy some to try it out but wasn’t impressed.

My daughter, M., told me about Kerrygold butter while we were out in Seattle and it was the best butter I ever tasted, melted and eaten with chunks of Dungeness crab. In contrast, Kate’s Butter, a locally made butter that I’ve been using, has very little flavor and a wax-like texture compared to Kerrygold’s buttery, creamy taste. While I was at Trader Joe’s this morning, I saw some beautiful large portobella mushrooms for $2.99 that I thought I’d cook up for dinner tonight although I wasn’t sure what to do yet.

At Barnes and Noble on the way home, I saw a photo of large mushrooms stuffed with spinach and breadcrumbs in a European cookery magazine. Perfect for tonight because I have some tired baby spinach I’ve used for smoothies and a heel of sourdough bread in the fridge that might make a tasty stuffing for the mushrooms.

Here’s my impromptu preparation steps:

First, I cleaned the huge mushrooms with a paper towel and browned the flat end of the mushrooms in butter, placing them in a large copper au gratin pan. This initial browning step is important to give the thick mushrooms a head start on softening; otherwise, it takes too long for them to cook through without overbaking the spinach/crumb filling.

2. Crushed a large clove of garlic into little bits, browned it in some butter and dried parsley.

3. Toasted a third of a leftover loaf of sourdough bread. Put the toasted slices in a VItamix and crumbled it into smooth breadcrumbs.

4. Added half of the fresh breadcrumbs into browning garlic and parsley, added a sprinkle of Lawry’s garlic salt and coarse pepper, stirring the tender garlicky breadcrumb mixture and then let it cool.

fresh breadcrumbs with garlic and parsley. . .

fresh breadcrumbs with garlic and parsley. . .

5. Melted another dab of butter, added chopped shallot and two handfuls of baby spinach; stirring until it quickly wilted; turned the warm spinach onto a board and chopped it finely with a cleaver.

6. Added finely chopped spinach, moistened with a little cream, to garlicky crumb mixture, adding salt and coarse pepper as needed. Maybe sprinkle on a little nutmeg (which I meant to do but forgot.)

fresh spinach and shallots. . .

fresh spinach and shallots. . .

7. Spoon heavenly mixture onto three large portobella mushroom caps, underside up.mushrooms with spinach 2

8. Grate a little fresh gruyere cheese and add on top of mushrooms.

9. Bake at 375 oven for about 15-20 minutes until golden brown and mushrooms are cooked through. We couldn’t wait that long and split the smallest one which was done the soonest and let the other two cook a bit longer.

While they were finishing in the oven, I sauteed some cleaned asparagus and squeezed a little lemon on it. That’s all.

This was a satisfyingly simple meal with just two dishes to eat for our Sunday night supper. We knew there was pumpkin spice cake for dessert so it was easy to be satisfied without a salad.

A special treat will be to use some Cabot’s whipped cream (I love that stuff but can’t stay away from it) on top of the warmed slices of cake tonight while we watch that new show, “Madam Secretary” featuring Tea Leoni as Secretary of State and the opener for “The Good Wife’s Fall season.

Oh, and that’s after we watched the Patriots struggle against Oakland in their first home game this afternoon at Gillette Stadium. Tom Brady missed a couple of touchdown tries and they only won when an Oakland touchdown was disqualified at the very last minute.

Still, fun, fun, fun!

P.S.  I learned that choosing smallish large mushrooms works better because they cook more quickly than the really thick ones–and the proportion of the stuffing to a thinner mushroom works well.

Although it’s a little more effort, toasting freshly made bread crumbs ensures a texture for the crumb dressing that can’t be had from using off the shelf panko or other prepared breadcrumbs. Coarse, buttery, garlicky warm crumbs with fresh chopped spinach (not frozen) makes for delectable eating!

This dish was so satisfying that I’m thinking of making it as an accompaniment for our Christmas Eve dinner! Actually, it’s gotten me thinking about learning how to poach a salmon in court bouillon to go along with it!

Postscript a week later: I made these again today and had some modifications to offer up. I selected today’s portobella mushrooms from an open bin at the market. I chose smaller, less thick ones (as noted above) because they would require less baking time in the oven. I used my largest copper au gratin pan to brown the bottoms and six of them barely fit. I then placed them in a cold oven to rest while I made the stuffing. When I pulled them out, they had shrunk to at least half their size!

So, I removed them to my medium size au gratin pan where they fit snugly with spinach dressing and gruyere cheese on top. I also microplaned the gruyere although the cheese was soft from sitting out and clumped up. No matter, I spread the cheese on top and put a clean dishcloth over it to rest until sliding them under a hot broiler. I don’t think the mushrooms will require baking as such, just browning the tops and heating them up a little under the broiler will do nicely. My daughter, C. is coming for lunch to see the new soapstone countertop today and we’ll have the stuffed mushrooms and a salad of field greens, endive, mandarin oranges, craisins and glazed walnuts with a simple vinaigrette.

Next time, I’ll go back to selecting way big portobella mushrooms and just cook them a little longer in the first step. Live and learn, I guess.


charmed again . . .

happy spring!

So from today’s events, I am wondering if I might be having a lucky streak. This afternoon, I told G. that I was going to do my food shopping for our supper at the Vietnamese grocery in town because it was so much cheaper than going to chain stores. It’s not in the safest part of town, but I drove the back way going by the local college a few blocks down from the shop and found a parking space directly across the street. It had suffered a fire a few years back and it’s been awhile before being rebuilt and back in business again.

Inside, I bought a few things: a pack of fresh chicken thighs, a couple of slender Japanese eggplants, a head of garlic, a bunch of scallions, a dozen jumbo brown eggs and 8-10 very large shrimp to stir fry with garlic, scallions and ginger tonight. That was enough fresh ingredients for two dinners and then some. When I was checking out, the cashier gave me a broad smile and started chanting at me, “You very lucky! lucky! lucky!” I was mystified but then she told me my total bill was $11.11. She kept going, “very lucky! four eights or four ones together: very lucky!” The other customers around me smiled too.

Walking back to my car, I thought about this little bit of hoopla and chuckled to myself. Maybe I am lucky, I said to myself. We’ll see. It’s hard to believe so many high quality ingredients could be had for just $11.11, let alone that the numbers symbolized good luck, don’t you think?