Well, I probably shouldn't do this, but I've started another Blog. Like I don't already spend too much time at the MacBook. As some of you might have guessed, I like to cook and I love to eat. So I thought I'd share my recipes, humble as they may be and an occasional dinner menu at our house. I am somewhat "reluctant" to share this project right now, but caution to the wind. The plan is to be discovered by the Food Network for my cooking show Cranky Franky's in the Kitchen.
Am I ready for critics? Probably not. I know my instructions are not always clear or precise. Let me know if something doesn't make sense. Anyhow, if you're interested, check out "Dinner's Ready"

Monday, November 26, 2012

Vegetarian Onion Soup With Mushrooms - Gratinee

This vegetarian onion soup soup is delicious and filling and did I say vegetarian.  No beef or chicken broth. 
I used about 10 cups of sliced onions, 10 ounces of sliced white mushrooms, olive oil, butter, dry vermouth (or a dry white wine) parsley, salt, pepper and shredded cheese - muenster and extra sharp cheddar (or include some swiss or whatever cheese you have on hand.  American cheese is not cheese - avoid it).  And some crusts of French or Italian bread.

Brown the onions in 2 batches in a very large skillet (or in 3 or more batches depending on the size of your skillet) over high heat in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter, stirring often to get all the onions caramelized.  

Remove the onions and brown the mushrooms in the same pan, add a little more olive oil, if needed.

Combine the onions and mushrooms in the skillet and over high heat, add one teaspoon of salt and one cup of dry vermouth or other dry white wine.  (If your skillet is not large enough - do this in 2 batches, halving the wine and salt for each batch)

Add a few grinds of black pepper (optional).

Bring to a boil and simmer until the alcohol evaporates and the liquid takes on a nice golden brown color, about 6 or 7 minutes.

Transfer the whole mixture to a large (about 3 quart) sauce pan and add 8 cups of water.

Add 2 or 3 teaspoons of salt (to taste).

Bring the soup to a boil, add a handful of chopped parsley (optional) and simmer for 45-60 minutes.

Grate or shred about 3 ounces of cheese per serving.  I like a combo of very sharp cheddar, muenster and swiss.  But I've used Gouda, Fontina, Jarlsberg or other good cheeses as well.  You can make up to eight servings (more or fewer, depending on the size of your oven-proof soup bowls).

Put a few crusts of good bread on the bottom of each soup bowl.  If the bread you have is not crusty, you can toast it lightly.

Ladle on the soup, with a good serving of the onions and mushrooms, over the bread.  Top with the cheese and place the bowls on a cookie sheet(s) to prevent spillage in the oven.

Place into a 450 degree oven until the cheese is melted and starts to brown and bubble.  Remove from oven and serve.

CAUTION: Contents are HOT.  Do not burn your mouth - let the soup cool a bit, and be careful!

Simple ingredients
Saute the onions in Olive oil and butter
Saute the mushrooms in olive oil and butter

Get the onions nicely caramelized
- a little more than above example
Combine the onions and mushrooms
Add the wine, 1 tsp salt and simmer
Transfer to a pot, add water, salt, parsley, simmer
Individual bowls of soup with melted cheese

Serve with a nice glass of wine. 
This soup, alone or with a salad, is a great meal.

Dinner's ready!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Potato, Leek, Swiss Chard and Feta Frittata

There's not much left in the garden at this time of year.  There are some leeks, which I grew for the first time ever, and some swiss chard that withstood some light frost.

Sunday breakfast called for something more than cereal so we had a nice frittata with potato, leek, Swiss chard and feta. (Of course, mushrooms and other good things can be added as well).

I had Leon dice up a potato while ran out in my bathrobe to dig up a few leeks and pick a handful of chard.

Get the potatoes going in a skillet with a bit of olive oil.  Add some salt and pepper.  Wash and chop the white and light green part of the leeks and add to the skillet.  Let saute until the potatoes are tender.  Wash and drain the chard thoroughly, then squeeze to get most of the water out of the handful of chard, then chop into rather fine strands.  Add to the skillet and cook until wilted.

Pour five or six beaten eggs over the veggies, add salt and pepper and some crumbled feta cheese (or any other cheese you like) and cook until eggs are almost set.  Fold over and let the set.  Serve with toast or crusty bread.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Easy Carrot Cake

If you watch cooking shows or bake at all, you've all heard that baking is an exact science.  You must follow recipes exactly and measure precisely.  Yeah, right.

Well, being the rebel that I am, I never follow anything exactly.  The food scientists will probably balk at my Carrot Cake recipe.  It's pretty simple, just takes a little more pep than something out of a box.  This will make a large 9" x 13" cake and a small 4" x 8" loaf to freeze for another time.  Or pour the whole batter into the large cake pan and make a thicker cake.  Or divide it up between whatever size cake pans you have - square, round, whatever.  Of course the bake time will have to be adjusted.

Prep ahead: Amounts are approximate:
4 cups grated of carrots
2 cups chopped walnuts
1 cup raisins
Spray the baking tins with spray oil or use Crisco to grease them
Preheat the oven to 350 - 375 (My oven is a Sears Dent-and-Scratch Store propane gas and the door is slightly off so 375 is what I set my oven to get a good 350.  Adjust accordingly.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl: (amounts are approximate, but don't go wild)
4 cups all purpose flour (plus reserve an additional 1/2 cup in case batter is too wet))
2 scant cups of sugar (scant so I think its fewer calories)
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
oh a dash more of cinnamon, won't hurt

Combine wet ingredients, separately: (amounts are pretty much as listed)
1 cup vegetable oil (canola or whatever)
4 large eggs (You may need a little more flour if the eggs are very large or jumbo).
1 cup orange juice
2 tsp orange extract

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix with a wooden spoon or whatever just until evenly moist. The batter should be heavy and thick, but not dry; if too moist because you have jumbo eggs, add up to 1/2 cup more flour.
Add the carrots, nuts and raisins and mix just until evenly distributed.  Scoop the batter into the cake pans (or loaf pans or muffin tins) and bake in a preheated oven at 375.  Ovens can vary in temperature so be sure to adjust: 30 to 35 minutes for large muffins and up to 55 to 60 minutes for a large cake.  Test with a dry knife after 35 or 40 minutes - if the batter sticks to the knife give it another 10 minutes - test again, it may need 5 more minutes.

Simple cream cheese frosting:  2 packages room temperature cream cheese or Neufchatel.  1 1/2 cups sugar (plus or minus) - you need not use confectioner's sugar- granulated is just fine.  1 tsp or more of lemon extract.  Beat with electric mixer or by hand.  Taste test - if you like it sweeter, add more sugar.  Add food coloring if you like.

Cut a big slice and enjoy!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Chicken alla Cacciatore

(Not too many hunters shoot chickens so I think this dish was originally made with rabbit or maybe some other bird)

We are expecting a frost this weekend and I figured today was a good day to harvest the remaining green peppers.  Actually they are Cubanelle peppers, otherwise called Italian Frying Peppers; they are mild, not hot.  They were quite prolific this year, given I only had six plants.  Everything else - tomatoes, broccoli, eggplant - quit early;  beans are long gone; have only peppers and swiss chard now.

I've had my eye on the peppers and planned to put them into a Chicken Cacciatore.  It is basically chicken parts with peppers and onions with a light tomato sauce.  You want the veggies in big pieces because the long cooking time will pretty much make them virtually dissolve.  This is a bit time consuming, but its a nice fall or winter dish.

 I used about 12 Italian Frying peppers, cored and cut in quarters, (Bell peppers will hold up better and not "dissolve" into the sauce),  2 onions, a 10 oz package of white mushrooms, sliced in half. (baby bellas would be good too), parsley, basil, garlic, oregano, olive oil, 1 can of whole, peeled tomatoes, 1 cup of tomato sauce, and of course some chicken legs and thighs - six (or eight) of each.  (I've been known to add Italian sausage and/or meatballs.)

Cubanelle or Frying Peppers
Purple Basil and Parsley
Canned Tomatoes
Brown the chicken parts in a skillet - in two batches. Season with a little salt and pepper.

While the chicken parts are cooking, in a separate, large sauce pan saute some garlic in olive oil.  Add the cut up peppers and one onion, quartered.  Allow to saute and sweat, turning frequently.

Remove the chicken from the skillet, pour off excess fat leaving a little for sauteing the mushrooms.  Add the halved mushrooms to the skillet along with a diced onion and a cut up carrot (optional).  Saute the vegetables until heated through, not over cooked.  Add some wine to deglaze the pan.  Then add a can of peeled tomatoes.  Add chopped parsley and basil, a little oregano, salt and pepper.

Add the tomato/vegetable mixture to the peppers/onions and add the chickenparts along with 1 cup of tomato puree or prepared tomato sauce.   Place on low heat and simmer for at least two hours.  When thoroughly cooked, the chicken should easily fall off the bone.

You can leave the chicken on  the bone or, to be kind, remove all the bones and knuckles and return the chicken meat to the pot.

Brown the chicken parts
Chicken Thighs
Add Onions to the Skillet
Add the Mushrooms
Add a Carrot and Some Wine to Deglaze 
Add the Tomatoes
Cut up the Tomatoes into Large Chunks
Add Chopped Parsley and Basil
Add a Cup of Tomato Sauce or Puree
Allow to Simmer for Hours
After it is Cooked
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Serve with crusty Italian bread, or with pasta, rice, or potatoes.

If you are reheating this dish, be prepared for the peppers to disappear.   If you use Bell peppers, they will hold up better.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Vegetarian "Meatballs" or "Meatloaf"

Veggie "Meatballs"
Did not have the camera handy for the prep and cooking, but if I make these again, I'll take photos.

I am interested in vegetarian dishes, but for the most part find vegetarian is nice as a side dish, not so great as a main course.

I thought I'd make some "meatballs" and be sure they had as much flavor as my ground beef meatballs. I think they are as tasty, but I need to work on the consistency.

Here is what I did:

Saute a finely diced clove of garlic with a finely diced onion and some finely diced celery - about 1/4 cup each of onion and celery, in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  Add 1 cup of uncooked brown rice.  Stir to coat rice.  Add 1 and 1/3 cup water and a teaspoon of salt.  Cook about 30 minutes or until all water is absorbed.  Set aside.

Finely dice a clove of garlic or two, an onion and a small green Italian frying pepper.  Peel and slice a medium size eggplant, salt the slices and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Dab off the moisture that is exuded. Finely dice the eggplant.  Process about 8 oz. Baby Bella Mushrooms in a food processor.  Saute the garlic, onion and green pepper in four tablespoons of olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of a large skillet).  After the onion is cooked through, add the eggplant and the mushrooms.  Saute the mixture until the eggplant is tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Add a little Marsala wine and a little salt and pepper.  Cook off the wine. Remove from heat.

Open a can of garbanzo beans and process them in a food processor.

Put all of the above prepared ingredients into a large bowl.

Add: A small handful of fresh parsley chopped and a four or five leaves of fresh basil, chopped.  Add 3/4 cup prepared Italian breadcrumbs, one half cup grated parmesan or Romano cheese, two eggs. (I used 4 eggs and my mixture was too soft and the meatballs did not stay round- they're more like triangles.  I think 2 or 3 eggs at most should do). Mix everything together.

Heat several tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet.  Form the mixture into balls and fry in the oil, turning when brown on one side, until more or less evenly browned on all sides.  Makes about 32 meatballs.
Not Pretty - but Tasty
I was eating these as they came out of the frying pan.  I guess you can serve them with spaghetti, but I would not cook them in the tomato sauce because they will probably fall apart.

I think this would also make a nice "Meatloaf".

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Veggies and Breaded Fish Filets and Bean Salad

OK.  So this is not one of my better meals.  But the veggies were ready a couple of weeks ago and I cooked up a pot of Swiss Chard.  Oil, garlic, leeks, jalapenos, green and red chard. Lemon optional.  Black pepper.  Dice and saute the garlic, jalapenos and leeks in olive oil.  Wash the chard well and cut into large pieces.  Add to pot and allow to wilt.

I've been shopping at Aldi's - a national chain grocery that specializes in low-cost food items.  Some of their stuff is very good.  But the fish was not quite like the package promised.  $2.49 for 8 pieces.  This was Pollock.  Product of USA.  The other frozen fish at Aldi's were product of China, which really surprised me.  Aldi does seem to have mostly US made products.

I added some whole wheat pasta to the chard and the whole thing took on an unappetizing color - mostly from the red chard.  Green chard does not bleed out.  But it did taste good.

Bean and tomato salad.  I had three or four different bean varieties - Romano, yellow, green. Wash and steam the beans till just tender.  Cool.  Add tomatoes, fresh basil, salt, pepper, olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar.  Makes a nice healthy salad when the lettuce is past its prime.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lenten Frittata

 Brown a couple of diced onions and a couple of small potatoes.  Saute your choice of veggies, here I'm doing asparagus and grape tomatoes.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Throw in six beaten eggs.  A little cheese - mozzarella, parmigiano, or what ever you have.

 When the eggs have cooked a bit, turn the frittata in sections (you can try to turn the whole thing at once, but don't blame me if you make a mess).

Serve with bread or toast.