Hard-boiled Eggs

There isn’t much to say about this recipe, but it’s a basic one that ought to be in your cookbook somewhere. I’ve been making more of these lately so we can dye them for Easter eggs.

1. Wash eggs to be hard-cooked in warm soap and water.

2. Place eggs in a single layer in an enamel, glass, or steel pan.

3. Add enough tap water to come at least 1 inch above the eggs.

4. Cover the pan and rapidly bring the water to a boil. Then turn off the heat. If you’re using an electric range, take the pan off the burner.

5. Leave the cover on the pan. Let large eggs sit for 15-17 minutes; medium eggs about 3 minutes less; extra-large about 3 minutes more.

20170405_115302

6. Heat retained in the water will continue to cook them, so remove eggs with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl of ice water. Cooling helps prevent the green rings that sometimes form around the yolks.

20170405_115402

Notes:
Don’t worry if the eggs crack a little during boiling, because they are still cooked and perfectly edible. If you dye them, part of the egg underneath the shell will be colored, but since most egg dyes are food-safe it won’t matter.

To eat them, tap the eggs gently on a hard surface to make cracks, then gently peel off the shell.

Slice or cut them into chunks, sprinkled with a little salt. Chop them for an egg salad sandwich or crumble them for a salad. Or make them into deviled eggs — see my recipe here.

Baked Sugar Snap Peas

20160825_184458The sweetness of sugar snap peas really comes out in this dish, which uses only five ingredients and takes just 10 minutes in the oven. I made this on a night when we had leftovers, and it baked while the rest of the meal reheated in the microwave.

Serves 4

8 oz. sugar snap peas
1 shallot, minced
Dried basil for sprinkling on top
Olive oil for drizzling
Salt to taste

Heat oven to 400F/200C degrees. Place sugar snap peas on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with minced shallot and basil and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Bake 8-10 minutes. Season with salt before serving.

(Adapted from a Publix recipe.)

Curried Chickpeas with Spinach and Tomatoes

At our house we try to have a Meatless Monday each week, where we forego typical protein in favor of vegetarian options (though sometimes with our busy schedules, it ends up being a Meatless Tuesday or Wednesday). Aside from the health benefits, a meatless night forces us to be creative in planning our dinners.

But that’s not always easy. The vegetable section of my three-ring recipe binder has mostly side dishes. And the stir-fries that I love to eat will quickly get boring for the rest of the family.

An Internet search a few weeks ago yielded this recipe from Bon Appetit, which was a great success, especially with the soft, warm naan bread I served with it. Even with the curry seasoning, the children loved it. It also kept well in the fridge for a few days.

20160217_185154

Serves 4.

2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
4 garlic cloves
1 red jalapeno, coarsely chopped (I left this out to keep the dish mild)
1 Tbsp. chopped ginger
1 lb. fresh spinach leaves, any tough stems removed
Salt and pepper
1 onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. chili powder (I left this out too)
2 15-oz. cans chickpeas, rinsed
1 24-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
Naan bread or basmati rice for serving

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, jalapeno (if using), and ginger; cook until fragrant and softened, about 4 minutes.

Working in batches, add spinach by the handful, tossing to wilt between additions. Cook until fully wilted and bright green, stirring often, about 5 minutes.

Transfer mixture to a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until softened, 5-6 minutes. Add curry powder and chili powder (if using) and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chickpeas, tomatoes with liquid, and 1/2 cup water. Season with salt and pepper.

Simmer about 10 minutes, breaking tomatoes apart with the side of a wooden spoon, until the mixture is thickened and tomatoes are soft. Fold in spinach puree. Serve with naan bread or rice.

Grilled Mozzarella, Prosciutto, and Basil Sandwich

This delicious grilled sandwich makes a filling lunch, but it can also be a nice dinner — just add a couple of sides, like oven fries (we like the sweet potato ones) and a salad. This recipe is for one sandwich. When making it for more people, I make an assembly line on the countertop for easy preparation.
20141216_190231[1]
Makes 1 sandwich

2 slices firm white bread (from a ciabatta or good sourdough loaf from the bakery)
1 tsp. plus 1 Tbsp. butter, divided
4 thin slices mozzarella (from a fresh ball of mozzarella, not the kind in a bag)
2 thin slices prosciutto
3 large fresh basil leaves
2 thin slices fresh tomato, or about 3 slices from a plum tomato
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Melt 1 tsp. butter and brush it very lightly over the two slices of bread. On one slice, stack 2 slices of mozzarella, the prosciutto, basil leaves, and tomato slices. Season with pepper.

Top with the remaining 2 slices of mozzarella. Finish with the other slice of bread, buttered side down.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the remaining 1 Tbsp. butter with the oil and cook the sandwich until browned. Turn with a spatula and brown it on the other side. Press it down lightly with the spatula.

(The sandwich may also be prepared in a toaster oven, but it won’t come out as well.)

Cod Fishcakes

20141025_185322
Easy, delicious, and a great way to have fish. You might think that with the potato they’d be a bit heavy, but they’re actually light, even a bit fluffy, and the lemon perks up the flavor.

The recipe requires two steps that must be done ahead of time — boiling and mashing the potatoes and poaching the fish. You also have to chill the fishcakes for at least half an hour before cooking them. So save this recipe for a weekend, or a day when you have some time to get into the kitchen a few times to prepare the night’s meal.

Definitely serve this with lemon wedges. A side of buttered broccoli works well.

Serves 4 (makes 8 fishcakes)

400g (14 oz.) cod fillets
200ml (just under 1 cup) milk
2 large floury potatoes
25g (1 oz.) unsalted butter
Pinch of grated nutmeg
5 large sprigs of parsley, chopped, plus extra for garnish
2 lemons (zest of one, the other one cut into wedges)
4 Tbsp. plain (all-purpose) flour
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
3 Tbsp. olive oil (at least)

Poach the cod in simmering milk (thinned with water) to just cover it, for 3-4 minutes until the fish starts to flake. Drain, discard the skin if there is any, and pat dry. Leave to cool.

Peel, quarter, and boil the potatoes for 10-12 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork. Drain and mash until smooth. Mix in the butter, nutmeg, chopped parsley, and lemon zest. Flake in the cod by rubbing the fish between your thumb and fingers to make small bits. Season with salt and pepper and cool.

Divide into eight balls and press into patties about 2.5 cm (1 inch) thick. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Season the flour with cayenne pepper. Dip the fishcakes in the flour to coat. In a frying pan, heat the olive oil. Fry the fishcakes (in batches if necessary) for 3-4 minutes each side until golden brown.

Moroccan Rice

Rice

Here is a delicious side dish that’s full of flavor and very easy to make. I served it alongside a simple baked salmon drizzled with lemon — it was so good that the meal is now going to be a staple on our menu!

1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup canned chopped tomatoes
1/3 cup bell pepper, any color, chopped
1/2 small onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika (regular paprika is OK)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
Pinch of cinnamon
2 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp. golden raisins (sultanas)
Fresh cilantro and parsley
Fresh lemon wedges

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.

In a heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven, bring the oil up to medium-high heat.

Rinse the rice to remove excess starch and then add to the hot oil. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently until golden.

Meanwhile, in a blender, place the tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, garlic, and spices and puree. Add the mixture to the rice and cook for 4 minutes or until the color of the tomato deepens.

Pour in chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Cover and bake for 15 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed. Add the raisins and herbs, and serve with lemon wedges.

Sausage Mushroom Alfredo Pasta

20140302_192956[1]This is an easy dish that you can prepare in as much time as it takes to cook the pasta. It calls for a jar of store-bought alfredo sauce, something I’m embarrassed to say that I used — but wow, does it make things simple. That means it’s a great dish to make on a weeknight. You could also use a homemade alfredo sauce on a night when you have more time. One tip: Chop the vegetables and grate the cheese as you wait for the pasta water to boil.

Serves 6

1 large leek, white and pale green part only, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 links mild Italian pork sausage (8 oz.)
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
8 oz. rigatoni pasta
8 oz. sliced baby Portobello mushrooms (use white if they aren’t available)
1/2 cup white wine or chicken broth
1 15-oz. jar roasted garlic alfredo sauce
2 oz. parmesan cheese, grated

Start boiling the water for the pasta and cook as directed on the box. Meanwhile, chop the vegetables and grate the cheese, then set aside. Remove the sausage casings by cutting the links in half lengthwise (butterfly them), then turning the sausage over and peeling the casings away.

In a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook 3-4 minutes, stirring to crumble the meat, until browned and no longer pink. Remove to a bowl and add remaining tablespoon of oil to the same pan, then add mushrooms and leeks. Cook and stir 3-4 minutes or until tender.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the wine or broth; simmer 2-3 minutes or until reduced by half.

Stir in alfredo sauce and bring to a simmer. Add the cheese and stir until melted. Stir in pasta and sausage and stir 1 minute. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve.

The recipe is adapted from one I found at Publix.