March 6, 2011

(Cooking) Sunday Soup

Since I learned veggie stock, I have been making soup all winter long.  This is a combined effort from both Verly and JT.  Verly with the on-the-soup-cooking-learning, plus some secret steps.  Then JT, with the whole stock-confidence I needed.  As well as the concept of "depth of flavor." 

I have made 4 to 5 attempts, but today's seemed worthwhile because it tasted good, and the Sister liked it too.  

Marti's Sunday Soup:

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
can of anchovies, or anchovy paste
minced garlic
1/2 cup of white wine
random/extras: soy beans, sweet potato (or butternut squash)
1 can of cannellini beans
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 Tbsp chopped rosemary
2 garlic cloves, minced
red pepper flakes
5 cups (or more) vegetable stock and/or vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1 cup of brown/wild rice (cooked separately)
bunch of bok choy,
salt, to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onion, shallots ,thyme, and
garlic.  Sauté 5 minutes. Add chopped anchovies.  Sauté another 5 minutes.  Add white wine.

2.  While that is sautéing, sauté separately:  sweet potato, soy beans, add cannelli beans.  Add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes. 

3. Add bean/vegetable mixture, 5 cups of stock, bay leaves, and all remaining spices to soup pot. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for one hour.

4. While soup is cooking, cook rice, separately per instructions

5. Add rice into soup

6. Saute bok choy/greens with minced garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes for just a few minutes.  Add into soup.  Let simmer for 5 minutes +  

7. Serve with parmesan cheese on top.

 I welcome ANY comments and input if you have ideas to add to this recipe....non-meat.  Though today's was a really good outcome, I still consider it a "work in progress."  So comment, away if you have any thoughts, or try anything creative. 

(Cooking) My casserole dilemma

It's been a long, rough winter and most Sundays I find I need to prepare foods to eat during the week at work.  Thanks to Verly, I have stepped into the soup arena, and am working on perfecting a white bean soup.  I also have needed a freezable pasta casserole, so I searched and searched for a recipe.  I couldn't find anything suitable, and so I went for my own JT-inspired-Marti Creation:

Pasta Casserole a la the Winter of 2011:
any type of pasta (have used penne and borsetti)
garlic cloves
greens (have used bok choy and arugula)
chopped up artichoke hearts (from a can)
salt, pepper
red pepper flakes
oregano, thyme
shredded parmesan cheese

Cook pasta, as per the instructions-being sure to cook al dente
Saute onions with garlic, in olive oil
Add in artichokes, and all spices
Add in greens at last moments

After pasta is cooked and drained, add 1/2 jar of pasta sauce (I used Bertolli 4-cheese Rosa), mix up well. Combine sautéed mixture.

Pour into casserole dish, sprinkle with parm cheese and panko.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.

Enjoy and/or freeze.

February 15, 2011

Guest Post by Jaimee - Cooking with JT

A few weeks ago JT came over to help me make my weekly dinner.  You see, I'm tasked with cooking dinner at my house once a week and I like to try a new recipe every time.  I sent JT a few recipes I wanted to try.  I don't think he read past Tandoori Style Chicken Burgers before telling me that we were making them.

If JT ever gets around to sending me his guest post for my blog I'll link the recipe ;-).

Here are a few of the things I learned during our Tandoori adventure:

1.  Be careful when you tell JT you want to sub ingredients.

2.  If it says chicken thighs, use chicken thighs.  They are nice and juicy and they aren't any worse than breasts health-wise.

3.  Mise en place:  it means "everything in place."  It means to read the recipe before I'm about to do the cooking, before I'm about to perform that step.  Do all the prep work in advance.  Get your ingredients washed, chopped, measured, placed in individual bowls, etc.  Get them ready to go.  Get your equipment out and prepared.  Preheat your oven.  To me it means not stressing about getting my stuff together as I'm in the middle of cooking.  It makes for a much more enjoyable cooking experience.

4.  Knife skills.  So I'm not so great with a knife.  Knives scare me a little bit ever since I severed a tendon and nerve when I was 16  (I did it with a glass not a knife, but knives are sharp and can sever stuff too!).  I don't like butchers knives.  I really don't like watching JT use a butcher knife.  I don't actually cut myself very often, but I'm pretty slow and inconsistent.  JT watched me get some ingredients cut up for this recipe and I'm pretty sure he laughed at me.  Then he schooled me.
The main points are holding the knife and curling your fingers so you don't chop one off.  To hold the knife, wrap your pinkie, ring finger and middle finger around the handle and grip the blade with your index finger and thumb.  To avoid chopping your fingers off, you should curl the fingers of your non-dominant hand and place them fingertips down on your food.  Hold the blade against your knuckles as you slice, never lifting the cutting edge of the blade above your knuckles.  I may have written that totally wrong.  Correct me in comments if I did, JT!

I leave you with a picture of Tandoori Style Chicken Burgers for your salivating pleasure.

January 21, 2011

So i don't get in trouble...Etouffee

Marti (and my) good friend Will asked me to send him my Etouffee recipe. So here it is. I will personally be giving Marti a lesson on this soon, so there will be an accompanying photo shoot soon.

  • 1/2 cup butter (or lard if no marti)
  • 1/2 flour
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 cups fish or shrimp stock
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 pounds crawfish tails, with the fat
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Cooked white rice, for serving
  • note: i usually use cajun seasoning instead of the red pepper, so if you have that, cool
  • also, i use frozen crawfish. defrost, and add later if not using fresh, since they are already cooked, you just want to heat them through.
  • this is sort of a take off of emeril and new orleans school of cooking


In a large, heavy saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter and whisk in flour to combine well. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until roux is a peanut butter color.

Add onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic, and cook until vegetables are soft, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add stock, salt, red pepper, and bring to a boil.

Skim surface, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add crawfish tails and fat, green onions, and parsley and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve over hot long grain rice.

January 9, 2011

JT/Marti Iron Chefx12

JT accepted my challenge for a cooking adventure.....I bring the random ingredients, he creates something.  Here are my ingredients.....with some input from Will/Nathan:

Fresh Squid
Fresh Shrimp
Russian Fingerling Potatoes
Swiss Chard
Gruyere Cheese
Sweet Onion

The rules are:
He must use every ingredient at least one time, any way he wants (he seemed slightly flummoxed by a few ingredients......we are lookin at you seitan!)
He can add in any ingredients he wants
He decides to use his own Black Garlic (to substitute out regular garlic), cuz that's how he roles. I approve said act.
And it's important to note that he is cooking 3 items that he's never cooked before (tomatillo, chard, seitan).

WILDCARD:  Fun last minute guests show up with FLOUNDER!  Ylan ends up as sous chef!

Here's how he throws down:

Salt n Pepper Fried Calamari
From required ingredients:  squid, lemon
Add-ins:  hot peppers, heavy/corse salt, flour, corn starch

FYI-the Calamari is deeeeeelicious and I mean DEEEEEELICCCIOUS, wish you all could have had some.

Next we have black garlic, truffle potatoes.....holy yum!
From required ingredients:  russian fingerling potatoes, onion gruyere cheese, garlic (black), tad of lemon juice
Add-ins:  truffle salt, olive oil

So our wildcards added in flounder which added a wonderful dynamic to the challenge.
Add-ins:  So this had flounder, plus wine, butter, left over seasoning from calamari
From required ingredient:  tomatillo

Finally, the major challenge!  Seitan is up!  Don't hate on it people, JT knows how to make it YUM!
Required ingredients: seitan, shrimp, chard, onion, garlic, ginger, lemon, lime
Add-ins: olive oil

As you may figured out, I am the big winner of this Iron Chef Challenge!!  He did an amazing job, and our last minute guests contributed to an absolutely delicious night of food.  We all left the table inspired to try to cook something, and all amazed by his amazing ability to come up with this meal from a totally random set of ingredients.

Oh yeah, CAPS WIN!


December 26, 2010

(Cooking) My meat dilemma

JT helped me unload some random meat left in my freezer, "grass fed ground beef."  I haven't cooked or handled meat (haha) in like almost 15 years.  So my man hooks me up, and spreads cheer among my neighbors:

Here's the recipe, JT style:

ok, off the cuff,

take some diced onions and garlic, sauté them until translucent, take the unfrozen beef [healthy hamburger patty size] and add that in, breaking it up with spoon. take some tomato sauce (sauce would be better) or diced tomatoes and add them in. let it simmer. add a tiny bit of salt and pepper [i could not "season to taste, but you can and should] and maybe throw in some dried herbs.

meanwhile, cook up a proportionate amount of pasta, you don't want too much, one pound should be ok. it didn't seem like that much meat so...

also at the same time, take diced potatoes and boil them until soft, throw them into meat sauce. stir. add to your cooked pasta. throw in casserole dish, cover with shredded cheese, bake in oven at um, 350? for about 30 minutes, top should be a little brown and crusty.

feel free to throw in your other things you need to use up, casseroles are made to get rid of leftovers!

FYI, JT made up this recipe by simply looking around my house, to help me feed the guys next door. 

December 15, 2010

(Gardening) So Long Garden.....

So let this be a post really about winter preparation come spring.  Because I know my next garden, will surpass my first attempt.  My first garden, shown below, was an amazing experience and outlet.  After a major push from someone, JT (and Bryan) got my first real garden going.  Here's how it looked:  
It was a great first garden, which I talked to, spent time with, and found my "peace and joy."  Then fall came, and I had my first fall garden.  Both versions were learning experiences for me, and I can't wait for spring.  So in the spirit of wishing our beautiful gardens farewell (JT's FAR more beautiful than mine!!) I say, let's plan ahead, improve our soil and embrace, gulp, worms.....

So, gardeners, I'm curious about two things:
1.  Are you doing cover crops, and if so details please
2.  Composting during the winter.....should I stop adding compost, and just add soil and worms?

Comment away!

December 10, 2010

my nutty friends...

this is jt. you are all a bunch of lovable nuts.

i will happily provide a recipe for Jambalaya and also, the more vegetarian friendly étouffée. I will also do a post on how to make a roux, which is infinitely helpful when it comes to things like making the above and gravy.

you are all still nuts. but good nuts. like cashews or pistachios.

December 8, 2010

(Cooking) No Recipes!!

So JT sorta bullied me to try to stop using recipes all the time, and/or specific amounts of ingredients.  Like most things with him, I have fought him hard against it, but I alway relent, it's just a matter of time.  And he would want me to tell you that he is (almost) always right.  Recently, I've created a few good things, but tend to at least look stuff up for a general framework, and then wing it. Tonight, I made up my own pasta recipe.  It was not tremendously difficult, but it was tremendously yummy, and very helpful to my mental state of mind.  It was very nice to come home and actually force my mind to think about cooking, instead of focusing on the strain of the day.  You might find some of the items to be similar, but I literally threw this together from what was around, and a strained brain.

And all without any recipe, or ingredient list:

Marti's Salmon Pasta inspired by JT's rule of no-recipes:
Pasta (penne)
Salmon (1-serving size)
Onion, chopped
scallions, chopped (including part of the greens)
chives, chopped
red pepper flakes
parmesan cheese
Olive oil

Cook pasta
Season fish with salt, pepper, chives
In saute pan, pour some olive oil and a little bit of garlic, cook fish until it begins to break apart.  Break into bite size/small pieces.  Add onions and saute.  Add the white part of the chopped scallions, and a little bit more garlic, and red pepper flakes.  Saute.  Add additional olive oil (enough to ensure pasta will be coated).  Add capers and more salt and pepper, to taste, if necessary.  Add some of the green part of the chopped scallions, and saute. Add pistachios.
Drain pasta when cooked, and then pour salmon mixture over top, and toss pasta
Shred some parmesan cheese, and drop a few green scallion pieces to garnish.

This is one of those things I would have never whipped up or tried a year ago......and tonight it was super yum, and a very necessary distraction.  All thanks to my man, JT.  I'm open to any and all suggestions for the next time I make this one!

December 6, 2010

(Cooking) As Promised....Seafood Stock

So seafood stock is a pretty basic recipe, but like most things, I learned this skill from JT (with a lil' help from his man Bry, and our girl Velma).  This recipe was in high demand over the weekend, so I am putting it out there.  Plus, as mentioned, the chowdah always makes it to the next level if you have homemade stock.

For some reason this whole experience was originally sort of intimidating to me. But as JT told me, it's so simple.  It's actually absurdly simple because you don't need to peel, cut, or do anything with the vegetables.  It just all goes in the pot!  Then simmer for a long time.  Easy.  Probably not the right content for JT's advanced friends!!

Seafood Stock
Compile assorted seafood items such as: crab shells, lobster shells, shrimp tails/peels, etc. You want like a big full bag. 

Roasted assorted vegetables such as:
Celery-the whole thing
Onion-unpeeled, just halved or quartered
Carrot -several if you have them around
Garlic - a whole bulb
Simmer the shells, fish items until it starts to bubble, but not boil. After about an hour, you can add the remainder of the items, roasted vegetables/spices, wine, etc. Every once in awhile you might need to take some foam off the top. Once you add in all the rest, this should should simmer, not boil, for about 4 hours.  You might need to add in more water along the 2-3 times. Then once you are all set, strain the items. Then use or freeze. And make Clam Chowdah!
If you have any questions, post them in comments, and perhaps JT will help you out!