So, I keep meaning to make a dessert for new recipe day, and then I keep eating too much junk/chips/cookies during the day to really justify making a dessert for my new recipe. Alas. On the plus side, this gave me another fun and exciting thing to do with leeks! I really love leeks, although I’m still working on finding new and exciting ways to cook them, especially in ways they aren’t overpowered by stronger flavors. So, since I had a leek, and I was searching for spring vegetables, I found this recipe, which I didn’t really adjust all that much.
1 leek, halved and sliced
1/2 bell pepper (any color, I used red), thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 pinches dried thyme
wine wine (maybe 3 tablespoons)
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup polenta
2 ounces crumbled goat cheese
First step is making the polenta. Sauté the leek bell pepper and garlic in the olive oil. when they start to soften (5 minutes-ish) add thyme, salt, and pepper to taste, and a couple tablespoons of white wine (I never measure, just pour some direct from a bottle). Then saute until just shy of done. So, the original recipe said to stick the polenta on top of the veggies, but that really doesn’t work with the soft/fresh polenta. So, the best thing to do is stick the polenta in a small baking dish, with the veggies on top, then the goat cheese and bake at 400 just until the cheese has melted. Serve warm.
This turned out really well. My taste-related issue on my end was that I wish I had cooked the leeks for a little less time, but that’s about it. I had massive issues with the assembly, as I used too big of a baking dish, tried to spread soft polenta on top of the veggies, and then just sorta shoved the veggies to one side, the polenta on the other, sprinkled the whole thing with goat cheese, and baked it that way. But it tasted good. Song of the Week: Put on your Sunday Clothes from Hello Dolly! So for reasons I’m still not totally sure about, I started listening to this on repeat recently this week. But it’s a fun, cheerful, song and I do enjoy it so, why not?
I ended up doing a ton of cooking over the weekend, many of which were of the “let’s play with food” variety. There were breakfast burritos, mashed potato/spinach fritters, baked fritter dough, a roasted eggplant tower and cupcakes. Like I said, there was a lot of cooking. However, I kept forgetting to take pictures of all of the things I made. So this blog post will be on the eggplant tower thingy because it is the only one I remembered to take a picture of.
1 medium eggplant, thinly sliced
2 ounces goat cheese
1/4 cup tomato sauce
pine nuts for garnish.
Step one is to roast the eggplant. Slice it fairly thinly and brush with olive oil. When I say brush I literally mean take a pastry brush and use that to coat both sides of the eggplant with olive oil. Eggplant are little oil sponges, if you toss them like normal veggies it gets absorbed and you end up using a ton of oil. Sprinkle on a little salt and roast the eggplant at 400 until they are tender all the way through and shrunken, about 30 minutes you should probably flip them after 15 minutes so both sides are cooked properly). Once the eggplant is cooked, set it aside and let it cool.
Get two ramekins, and place about a tablespoon of sauce on the bottom. Add a layer of eggplant, and then some goat cheese crumbles. Then more eggplant and then more goat cheese – don’t worry about gaps, or the fact they aren’t perfect. I did about 4 layers. Once you placed the last eggplant layer, cover with another tablespoon or so of tomato sauce. Garnish with pine nuts and bake in the oven at 350 until the cheese is melted and the sauce bubbling, about 20 minutes.
I was super proud of myself for how well this turned out. The melted cheese mixed somewhat with the sauce which tasted awesome, and nothing really overpowered anything else, and wasn’t swimming in sauce. It was just tasty. And only requires a few ingredients! Not really a weekday recipe, but a good one to impress someone your making dinner for without actually having to do a lot of work. I had this with a glass of white wine (a Chilean sauvignon blanc) and some roasted asparagus. Song of the Week: Shambala by Three Dog Night, as sung by Rockapella. I had a long discussion (with much viewing of YouTube videos) with a friend about the differences between newer pop-a capella, old school stuff, and more choral/classical a capella a couple days ago. He was not overly impressed by Pentatonix, but we both appreciate the more old school stuff, so I’m going with Rockapella today.
One of the stranger gaps I have in my cooking repertoire is that I’ve never actually made lasagna. Growing up it was a thing my mom or sister did, rather than me or my dad. A few years back, before I started this blog, I made a polenta lasagna, but that’s the closest I’ve gotten. Well, there is no time like the present to fill such a ridiculous gap, right? I found this recipe and it looked super tasty – and I only made a couple minor adjustments to it.
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cup milk
6 tablespoons parmesan
a couple tablespoons chopped parsley
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Once the butter has melted, add the flour and whisk together. Add the milk and whisk so the butter-flour mixture gets thoroughly incorporated into the milk. Stir continuously – this is important, as it prevents lumps or sticking at the bottom of the pan. Once the sauce has thickened, remove from heat. Add the parmesan and stir it in (the sauce will still be warm enough to melt the cheese). Then add in the parsley.
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1-2 ounces shredded mozzarella
1 bunch fresh kale
zest from 1/2 a lemon
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
salt and pepper
Rinse the kale and rip/chop into little pieces. Heat some oil in a frying pan and saute the garlic and shallot. Stick in a bowl. Then saute the kale – you are going to have to go in batches, but you only need to cook them till they wilt, about 5 minutes. Stick the cooked kale in the bowl with the garlic and shallot. Let the kale mixture cool a bit (this is a good time to boil the lasagna noodles or start the sauce). Once the kale is cool, add the lemon zest, cheeses and salt and pepper (to taste) and mix it all together.
Assembly: Lightly oil the bottom of an 8X8 pan and stick the first layer of noodles down (if you stick cheese sauce on the bottom it will burn a little while the lasagna cooks)then stick some sauce on the noodles, and then about half the kale-cheese mixture. Then more noodles, and the rest of the kale cheese mixture. Then the top layer of noodles and more sauce. You can add a bit more mozzarella on top if you want as well. Cover with foil and bake for 30-40 minutes at 350. Serve warm.
So the main issue I has with this comes down to the fact that I used the no-boil lasagna noodles. This was a bad idea, as apparently you need to add extra sauce, which of course I didn’t really intend to do since white sauce is more caloric than tomato sauce. Also, sticking white sauce on the bottom on a pan can easily burn, which is a little annoying. There were no problem exactly, but the noodles were a little gummy, so you should probably boil the noodles. Song of the Week: Under Pressure by David Bowie and Queen. A classic for a reason – such a perfect song, and a perfect collaboration.
Months and months ago I saw this recipe for Gobi Manchurian, and have been meaning to make it. So apparently Gobi Manchurian is an cauliflower dish that is an Indian take/interpretation of Chinese food. So to be clear we have an American of Russian descent making an Indian take on Chinese food. I love Indian food and this looked tasty so like I said, I’ve been meaning to make it for ages. However, there are a few caveats. One, these were battered and fried, and I didn’t want fried food so I decided to roast the cauliflower instead. Two, I’m tired of buying spices that I then only use once and then just take up space on my spice rack so I just made do with what I had.
1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
1 tsp powered ginger
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 curry powder
Toss the cauliflower with some oil, soy sauce and the spices. Arrange on a baking sheet and roast in the oven at 400 until slightly crispy, 30-40 minutes I think. While the cauliflower is roasting, make the sauce.
2-3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 an onion, chopped
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tsp powdered ginger
1 1/2 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp paprika (or less of cayenne)
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tablespoon flour or cornstarch (cornstarch is better, but flour works)
Saute the onions and garlic for a few minutes. Add the broth and soy sauce and then the spices and let the mixture simmer. After its simmered a bit, taste and adjust the spices as you so desire. I added more curry and ginger. Add the flour and mix it in quickly to avoid clumps (why cornstarch is better). Simmer a bit longer as the sauce thickens a little. Once the cauliflower is done, divide it into bowls and spoon a generous amount of the sauce on the cauliflower. Add green onions if you have them (I didn’t) on top and serve.
To be honest, I have no idea how this recipe is supposed to taste so I have absolutely no idea if I did it correctly. I thought was really good, albeit a little on the salty side, so just use a little less soy sauce and omit any additional salt and you should be fine. It probably would be a little better if you batter-fry the cauliflower, but roasting is totally legit. I’m sure this would be improved if I actually used tandoori powder, but, for using only things I had on hand, I think I did an extremely good job. Song of the Week: Power to the People by John Lennon. I’m sure you can guess why I felt this song was appropriate this week.
This recipe came about due to an alcohol-buying mistake. I had an open bottle of red wine that had a weirdly smoky aftertaste, so I didn’t want to keep drinking it. But it was perfectly good wine, so I figured I should at least cook with it. Annoyingly for me, most recipes calling for a red wine sauce involve meat. But then I found this recipe for poached eggs in wine sauce and decided to give it a try. Albeit with a less complicated sauce.
1 cup or so red wine
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small leek, thinly sliced
2 pinches dried thyme
1 tbsp flour
Melt some butter in a small saucepan and saute the leek and garlic for a few minutes. Melt a bit more butter and mix it with the flour into a paste. Add the thyme, stock, and red wine. Mix so the butter-flour paste is thoroughly dissolved in the liquid. Simmer the mixture until the volume has reduced by about half. I boiled mine a little too long I think. It started getting vinegary-tasting so I added a bit more red wine and that fixed it. Set aside. Poach however many eggs you intend to cook. To poach an egg you (in theory) crack open the shell and gently slide the egg into the water, where you boil it for a few minutes until the desired done-ness. Well, keeping the egg a coherent blob is surprisingly difficult, but you can use a spoon to try to gather the white which will spread out in the water. Once the eggs are done, stick an egg on a piece of toast and spoon the sauce on and around it. Serve warm.
This turned out pretty well actually. It looks a bit messy, but its actually tasty, and I like the sauce with all the leeks and garlic in it. Those are always good things. I didn’t actually toast my bread first, and that was a mistake – toasted bread will be better. So, if you have red wine you want to cook with, or just want a non-meat accompaniment to it, I would suggest trying this recipe out. Obviously you serve this with more red wine, and a nice green salad to make a decent meal. Song of the Week: Moscow Nights by the Red Army Choir. Last week was Russian (Orthodox) Christmas (for which my family eats Chinese food – long story) so a Russian song felt appropriate. And while Tchaikovsky is my favorite Russian composer and one of my top three favorite all time composers, I decided to share something different. I also really love this song, and I think its a beautiful rendition.