Sunday, August 8, 2010
Oh man is right. I'm such a genius I swear. This was so good. I'm making another one right now, and I'll probably take it to work tomorrow. Lucky co-workers!!! I usually make my own marinara, because I am crazy like that. If you want to make this with a jarred disgusting marinara sauce, that is fine by me. It's your life, man.
This recipe is really really healthy and delish, and is a great way to get your kids to eat their veggies. The fresh basil, squash and roasted cherry tomatoes really make this a summer favorite.
Makes: one big ass lasagna
3-4 squashes, depending on what kind of squash you have available, I would probably play it safe and go with zucchini squash, as large as you can find them. If they are kind of small I would get 6 or 7 of them.
1 16 oz container of ricotta cheese
1 16 oz package of shredded mozzarella
6 0z grated parmesan cheese
1 16 oz container fresh mozzarella (ovoline size-lrg balls hahaha)
1 bunch fresh basil
3 quarts cherry or sungold tomatoes
3 cloves garlic-chopped
2 carrots-small dice
1 yellow onion-small dice
3 celery stalks-small dice
1 16 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 tsp dry oregano-divided
1 tsp dry thyme-divided
1 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
You will need one roughly 9 by 12 pyrex lasagna pan.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut your squash into thin, lengthwise strips. This is going to be your "pasta" so try to cut it just a little bit thicker than pasta sheets, it makes it easier to eat and cooks more evenly.
Lay them out on a sheet pan and sprinkle salt over them to sweat out water. Why do you want to do such a thing? Well, to keep it from drowning in it's own juices, that's why. I told you to trust me. I'm like the Rambo of veggie cooking, I'm fearless but sensitive.
Wipe that sweat up in about 10 - 15 minutes with a paper towel.
Start making the sauce dude. Put the can of tomatoes, the washed sungold tomatoes, a half an onion, half the bunch of basil, 1/2 tsp dry oregano, 1/2 tsp dry thyme, chopped garlic, 3 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper and 1 tbsp sugar into a pot or pan and bake for 20 minutes until sungold tomatoes are browned and burst open. Once the sauce is done use a blender or food processor to blend sauce. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste. If the sauce is too thin, heat over medium flame for 15 minutes or reduced by a third.
Dice your mirepoix (this is onion, carrot and celery with a ratio of 2:1:1. Meaning-50% (half and onion) 25% celery, and 25% carrot. Roughly two of each. Dice and sautee them together for about 5-6 minutes, until softened but not brown. Add some of the cooking marinara, about a large sauce spoon full and let it reduce and caramelize the mirepoix for another 5-6 minutes.
While sauce is cooking, mix ricotta cheese with 2 oz of grated parmesan, dry thyme and oregano, and eggs and mix well. Set aside.
When the sauce is done, you can start making your lasagna. Just let the sauce cool for a little while so it doesn't start cooking the squash and cheese all of a sudden.
Slice the ovoline fresh mozzarella, and chop the basil. Mix basil into the ricotta mixture.
Spray Pam or something like that (olive oil on a paper towel etc) generously on your lasagna pan.
First lay down the sauce. Just enough to coat the bottom. Then start laying the squash down next to eachother evenly like you would with pasta. The next part is where I tell you the secret to a good lasagna.
Ok, here's the secret:
If you want a really nicely put together, evenly cooked, melty gooey dream pillow of cheese, veg and sauce, then the secret is all in the layers.
It goes like this
3) Ricotta mixture
4) sauteed veggies
5) Thin layer of fresh mozz
6)Thin layer of grated mozz
Repeat for 2 more layers. After you finish the 3rd one, lay down one more layer of zucchini "pasta", then sauce, then a good amount of dry mozz and the other 4 oz of grated parmesan.
Stick that puppie in the oven at 400 degrees until it's bubbling and brown and looks kinda like this:
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Ok let's play a little game here. What's missing from this post, do you think? Is it...meat? You are correct! Look, I love pork, steak,chicken and all things meat. But not even I can eat meat everyday. I was a vegetarian for 10 years, vegan for half of that time. Finding good wholesome complete delicious meals was hard, so I started cooking a lot at home for myself. I've worked at Vegetarian restaurants and for vegan catering companies, and I currently cook for a family of vegetarians. Trust me, I know what I'm doing. I'm going to do a series of posts of some of the original recipes I've been doing this summer. Everything is approved as delicious by yours truly.
BLACK EYED PEA, COLLARD GREEN AND SWEET POTATO BURGERS
I'm so in love with sweet potatoes these days. They act as part of the binding ingredient in these healthy, complete, low fat, low carb, extremely healthy but still delicious burgers. They are also SUPER CHEAP to make and you can substitute a lot of different grains depending on what you have. This is just a building block, as many of my recipes are. Feel free to let your imagination go, it rules.
INGREDIENTS: makes 8 large patties
1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes. (can also use butternut squash)
3 oz grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup dry lentils (can use quinoa too, it's one of my faves)
1/2 cup dry black eyed peas
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dry thyme
1/2 tsp dry oregano
2 tsp salt
2 stalks celery
1 bunch collard greens (kale, chard...all greens work-whatever you want bro)
2 cloves garlic
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Wrap sweet potatoes in aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes or until done.
Boil 3 quarts of water with salt, and add the black eyed peas and 1 bay leaf.
In a separate pot boil 2 quarts of water with salt and add lentils and 1 bay leaf.
Cook until over-done (mushy) usually about 20 minutes.
Dice onions, carrots, garlic and celery and cook over medium-low heat until onions are translucent. (about 4-5 minutes)
Chop up the Collard Greens and sautee over medium heat until withered.
Cool all above ingredients until room temperature, put them all in a big bowl.
Add the eggs, salt, cheese, thyme, oregano, and ground black pepper and mix well.
Form into large patties with your hands. Should make about 8 medium to large sized ones.
Use baking spray (like Pam) or wipe oil on your sheet pan. Place patties on baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until they have a slight crust on the outside and hold together well.
They can be eaten alone as a complete meal or in the form of a burger with melted cheese, tomatoes, pickles, onions lettuce...whatever you want!!! Yummy alternative to those nasty Boca burgers or whatever. Make this batch and eat them for days!!
Thursday, July 22, 2010
I love cooking. Right? Pretty obvious. But where my talents really lie are in campfire cooking. I'm like the stoner MacGyver. I WILL find a way to cook almost anything in an open flame. I mean, I've cooked cast iron skillet cornbread, bacon wrapped hot dogs, bread pudding, bacon wrapped jalapenos, beer can chicken, AN APPLE PIE?!?!? (future post, I'm thinking). In fact, I'm seriously considering about writing a cookbook dedicated to cooking over an open fire.
Anyways, while most people read or take a nap or sit in a boat trying to catch a fish that isn't there, I make food. It's what I do. Because people get hungry, like 3 or 8 times a day, depending on how much weed they smoke. You HAVE to be prepared while camping. There's nothing worse than having only cold cereal or packaged salted disgusting sausages to eat.
BACON POTATO SALAD
This recipe is pretty simple, even if you have to cook potatoes IN the fire. But I'm gonna tell you how to do that.
You will need a good amount of Aluminum Foil, a bowl, and maybe a coleman stove if you are not taught in the ways of the bacon Sense.
Potato Salad: Serves: 8 as a side salad
3 Lrg Russet Potatoes (cut into 1-inch cubes)
3 Lrg Sweet Potatoes (cut into 1-inch cubes)
1/2 Red Onion-julienned (cut into thin strips)
1 ear of cooked corn (leave the husk on and throw it on the grill till it's brown on the outside)
12 strips (or more-heeeyyy...) good quality bacon
3 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic-whole
1/2 cup Whole Grain Dijon Mustard
4 tbsp Sherry vinegar (balsamic and red wine work as well)
1/2 bunch basil- chopped
1 tbsp honey
5 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Place cut potatoes in a bowl and mix well with olive oil, a little salt and pepper and the 3 whole garlic cloves. Lay out a one-foot piece of foil and place a 1/3 of the mixture in the middle, and make a pocket by wrapping it tightly, with no holes or open spots. Repeat this process making 2 more "pockets". Wrap them twice if you have to, just make sure THERE ARE NO HOLES! Are you listening? Good. Now...get up close and personal with that wood fire of yours and stick these pockets into that thing. Riiiggghhhtt....there ahhh. Right where the embers are burning (no not those ones you sicko). You will hear crackling and popping, and that is good. Time to get the rest of your salad ready, just let those puppies cook, turning them from time to time so one side doesn't get more cooked than the other, you dig?
Ok, now take that corn, take the browned husk off of it, and cut the kernels off. Slice your red onion, and chop your basil. Cook your bacon. Coleman stove and a pan or, if you are feeling adventurous you can lay down foil over the grill on the fire (if there is one) and cook your bacon over an open flame. I personally think it comes out perfect, as long as you keep a real good eye on it.
Once the bacon is cooked and cooled, cut it into one inch strips. Set aside.
Now make your dressing. (this should all be done while the potatoes are cooking, about 20 min.) Make sure to check them after 20 min, open one up and test for doneness. If it's not done re-wrap it and throw it back in for 5 minutes son.
Combine all ingredients in bowl except for the oil. Whisk with a fork or if you're fancy, use a whisk. Then whisk in the oil slowly until all ingredients are combined. Taste for salt and pepper, and a little sweetness from the honey, and adjust your seasonings.
Those potatoes are probably done, huh? Take them out with tongs, open them up, and let them cool. Once they are cooled, combine all your ingredients including the dressing in a big bowl and mix well. Taste for seasoning. You really cannot do that enough.
Next time, I want to cook bacon like this:
I just need a machine gun. Anyone? Kill two birds with one stone? Hahaha. Enjoy, this was perfect for a hot afternoon lunch on the lake, accompanied with a fresh watermelon/vodka/lemonade drink.
Monday, July 12, 2010
You know how you have this huge 15 lb watermelon sitting in your fridge, and you can't decide what to do with it? Buying one of those puppies just for a family 3 is guaranteed you'll have leftovers. This is one of the easiest, most simple, consistently asked for recipes. I make watermelon salsa very single summer. Sometimes I add jalapenos, sometimes even a little habanero, but this particular recipe is for kids and adults alike. Everyone likes this salsa. It would be fantastic on grilled fish. There are 5 ingredients. Yes, you heard me. FIVE. We should call this HIGH FIVE SALSA.
1 bunch cilantro
2 white onions
2 tbs salt
Chop your watermelon and white onion into a small dice. Put in a large bowl.
Finely chop the cilantro-add to bowl.
Using a microplane, zest the limes and squeeze the juice into the bowl.
Add salt and mix all together.
Taste for salt, the watermelon is super sweet so I tend to have a heavy hand with the salt to balance it.
I've also used mint and lemon instead of the cilantro and lime. It's equally as delicious and a little more refined.
This salsa is great for tacos, and all seafood.
HEY! IT'S SUMMER! My favorite...cooking over an open fire. There's nothing like grilling. And bbq. Which are totally different, by the way. I'm gonna share two of my new favorite recipes for cooking on the grill.
(side by side, aren't they gorgeous?)
(side by side, aren't they gorgeous?)
BEER CAN CHICKEN: So Greg decided to make Beer Can Chicken for the first time. Admittedly, it was my first as well. (How is that possible?)
So this is the scoop...the beer can is stuffed inside the cavity and is heated from the flame. The beer bubbles and steams, releasing moisture inside the cavity. It also imparts flavor (but not alcohol) from the chicken. It takes a while to cook, but is totally totally worth it. Greg brined the chicken the night before, so it would be extra extra succulent. Good job Greg!
So brine it overnight, and make a spice rub. This is what I would recommend, it's basically my "special" dry rub for everything.
For: 3 whole chickens...
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons paprika (not smoked)
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp dry thyme
2 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dry oregano
Put all ingredients into a bowl and mix well with your hands or a wire whisk. Put into ziplock bag or tupperware. Can be stored in a cool dry place (not refrigerator) for up to 2 weeks.
Word to the wise: You might want to truss your chicken to keep the wings and outer part of the breasts from drying out too fast.
Once you are ready to get going with your chicken, get your coals all toasty and split them in half on either side of the grill, which makes a kind of oven-like environment. (For gas grills turn on the left and right hand side to high) This is to make the chicken cook at an even rate (or at least hopefully). Place an aluminum pan in the empty spot in the middle to catch the juice drippings.
After removing the chicken from the brining liquid, you need to rinse them well and pat dry with paper towels.
Get out your trusty dry rub and apply a generous amount to the outside of the chicken, massaging it into crevices and making sure it is applied evenly.
You will need one beer can per chicken. On the tail end cavity shove the beer can up it's butt. Yeah, you heard me. Make sure you're grill is on even ground, so that the chicken will balance better. Place chickens carefully on the middle of the grill in between the hot spots.Ok, now that the chickens are on the grill just let them be!!! You've heard that saying "If you are a-lookin', it ain't cookin'!!!"
If the bottom of the chicken is looking kinda charred, you can move it up on the grill, or just farther away from the heat. Close the lid of the grill with some ventilation to cook internally. Check on it periodicaly, adding coals only if necessary as this chicken benefits from low, slow cooking. Depending on the amount of heat and the grill you have, it will take an hour and half to two hours to fully cook the chicken. Make sure to check the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh, it should read 160 degrees F if it's done. When it's done, transfer to cutting board or even better, an aluminum pan and cover with tin foil for 15 to 20 minutes. This is to allow the juices to reabsorb into the meat. Carve into 8 pieces and serve. It's a crowd pleaser, and is fun to make. Trust me.
STUFFED BACON WRAPPED JALAPENOS:
Hey, if you can't handle the heat, you don't deserve this tasty treat. So you like jalapeno poppers, right? Of course you do, I know you. Cheese and jalapenos. YUM. So, it's like that but stuff the WHOLE THING, (in this picture I stuffed them with Goat Cheese and a little smoked provolone, but have done carne asada and jack cheese- there are no limits to what you can stuff these with) and then WRAP THEM IN BACON. Woah. Magic. These went super fast. And people's eyes were tearing up because sometimes you get an extra hot one. Keep some milk around in case someone is sensitive. Anyways, I digress. Here's the recipe, which I have to give credit to my friend Scotty for coming up with-pure genius I have to say. We decided to get married, I believe, when he came to a bbq with some of these stuffed with roasted chicken and two kinds of cheese. LOVE YOU!!!
Makes: 12 Jalapenos
1 Log Goat Cheese4 oz smoked provolone (or whatever you want to stuff it with, seriously-try shredded pork, chicken with cheese, crab and bechamel, shrimp, etc)
12 thin slices Applewood Smoked Bacon
1)Cut all jalapenos down the sides lengthwise leaving the top of the jalapeno entact. Gently squeeze them open and with a regular teaspoon scoop out all the seeds, being careful not to split the jalapeno apart.
2)Mix the filling and stuff it into the cavity of the jalapeno. Squeeze it shut.
3) Take your slice of bacon and starting at the top of the jalapeno, wrap it around, angling it down towards the bottom. Take the extra bacon at the bottom (and you WILL have some) and pull it up over the stem on the top of the jalapeno. This is how you fasten the bacon onto the jalapeno so you don't need skewers.
4) I usually lay down aluminum foil on the grill, but since there was so much bacon, the fat started dripping into the fire and cause it to flare up and almost burned Greg's face off. Not recommended. What I DO recommend is cooking them in a recyclable aluminum tray. Just until your bacon is that perfect golden brown color. Careful, the inside of the jalapeno is going to be SUPER hot so wait a few minutes after it's done to let it cool a bit. Don't want any lawsuits. Can you do this in your house? OF COURSE! Saute them in a pan silly. Still works.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Say WHAT?!? Let me break it down for you...Banana Bread. Pecans. BACON.
This is definitely an original, as far as I know. I was scratching my head one day at work trying to figure out what the hell to do with this growing mountain of blackened and bruised bananas. Of course, there was the obvious choice...Banana bread. Throw some walnuts in. Whatevs. But something was tugging at the back of my mind. What would make it alchemy? What would make it magic? Duh. Bacon.
Growing up in South Africa, I didn't eat totally weird things. It was pretty normal. (Above: Me as a young bacon enthusiast)My dad, however, being the crazy artist/rocket scientist that he is came up with yet another crazy invention. Bacon Banana sandwich.
It's like a grilled cheese (sans cheese, of course) with smashed warm banana and perfect crispy bacon on it. It started my obsession of the sweet/salty combination that I find so fascinating. I am thoroughly amused, disgusted and excited about where bacon has been going as of late. Such a growing trend. Just call me hip, I guess. I digress...
So I got out my trusty recipe for Banana Bread. Made the batter. Cooked off a great pile of bacon, and crumbled it up. Put together the recipe, and made sure to have a nice bacon sprinkling with some brown sugar on top. WOAH. Toast it with some butter for breakfast, it's a complete balanced meal. Momma would be proud.
You can also make muffins this way too. It's cute. I made them for the kids at school today, and they were gone in 5.5 seconds.(All 60 of them).
OK, Here goes:
Makes 2 loaves or 30 little muffins.(awww)
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of salt
4 lrg eggs
2 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil (olive oil works fine as well)
3 cups coarsely mashed ripe bananas (talking BLACK. Like my soul.)
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cups walnuts (toasted and roughly chopped)
1 package (or more, whatever you want bro) good quality applewood smoked bacon.
*The first thing you want to do is cook off your bacon and crumble it. Set it aside for the epic end.
- In an electric mixer, beat together the eggs and the sugar at a medium-high speed, until thick and pale and forms a ribbon when the beater is lifted. Aprx. 10 minutes.
- While that is happening, measure out your dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt) into a bowl. Mix thoroughly with a whisk.
- Once the eggs and sugar are at desired stage, reduce speed to low and add oil in a slow, steady stream. Then mix in bananas, sour cream, and vanilla.
- Fold the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients bowl, incorporating the walnuts and most of the bacon, a little bit at a time. Don't over mix it. Don't under mix it. DON'T FUCK IT UP.
- Spray your pans with non-stick coating (either the muffin tins or the bread loaf tins)
- Divide the batter evenly. Try not to fill it passed the half way line, or it'll be overflowing. Save some of the bacon crumbles and put on top of the bread. Sprinkle a little brown sugar on top. Trust me, I know what I'm doing.
- Bake in oven at 350 degrees. For muffins, usually takes 15-20 minutes. For full on bread, it will take up to an hour and sometimes more than that. Stick a toothpick or stick in the middle part of the bread. If some jizz it stuck to it, it ain't done. Put it back for another five, son.(NOM NOM NOM)