Egg Wonton Ravioli with Arugula & Ricotta

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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These are pretty easy to pull off, despite the fragility of the eggs.  You could do these ravioli with proper pasta dough but wonton wrappers really do work in a pinch.   I used small round ones.  I do not recommend that.  I’d go square & either leave them square or use a cookie cutter or rim of a glass to cut them round.  These round wrappers were pretty small & left little room for error – especially as the tight squeeze threatened to rupture the egg.

These could be made with any filling at all.  Anything.  I used an arugula & ricotta mix but spinach or goat cheese or sweet potato or whatever would work.  This recipe would make about 6-10 ravioli, depending how large you go.   While this recipe only shows a ravioli made with egg – my recommendation is that you only make one egg ravioli per person & make the rest just stuffed with whatever else you are using.   The egg adds a great creaminess but an egg in every ravioli might get overwhelming.  If the egg grosses you out – blow it off completely.  Or – maybe consider just making one of these per person – as an appetizer.

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Egg Wonton Ravioli with Arugula & Ricotta

(for two)

INGREDIENTS

Wonton skins (12-24 – depending on how large you make them)

2 eggs

2 cups arugula

4 garlic cloves

Olive oil

1/4 cup ricotta

1/2 cup Parmesan

S&P to taste

Parmesan, olive oil & parsley – as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Heat a TBS or two of olive oil in a pan.  Add the garlic for about 30 seconds & then the arugula for about another 30 seconds until wilted.  Puree the arugula with the ricotta & Parmesan in a food processor or chop the arugula & mix well with the cheeses in a bowl.   Add S&P to taste.

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Lay out some wonton skins.  Put a small amount of the arugula mix on the wontons.  Create a well in two of them to accommodate & secure the egg yolks.  Crack an egg & separate the yolks & whites – reserving the whites in a bowl.  Carefully place the yolks into the little wells you created.  Whisk the whites a bit & brush the edges of the wontons with it.  Top with another wonton, carefully squeezing the edges sealed while also trying to work out any excess air pockets.  My ravioli were so tight, I had to pinch them with my fingers & really manhandle the whole thing but, if you were listening, you got larger wontons & you have some room to spare.  Fork tines might work to seal the edges, in that case.

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Boil water & lower the heat so the boil isn’t so intense that it assaults (and breaks) your ravioli.  Boil about 3 minutes for the egg ones – three to four minutes for the others.  Carefully remove with a slotted spoon & place on plates – serving each person one of the eggy ravioli.  Top with a drizzle of olive oil, some grated Parmesan, some chopped parsley & some freshly ground pepper.  Serve immediately!  Use some nice bread to sop up any leftover cheesy egg mixture.  Rejoice!

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Zucchini Squash Blossom Pizza

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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Squash blossoms are beautiful to look at, fragile to the touch & fun to eat.  They have a delicate flavor & are most often served stuffed & fried – like mine HERE.

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They are also pretty hard to come by.  You are most likely to find them at a farmer’s market.  I was lucky enough to find them at the amazing Super King – but they only had them for a few weeks.  I also made quesadillas with them – HERE.

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And – finally – I made this pizza.  I used Ricotta Salata on top (in addition to fresh mozzarella underneath), also from Super King, but I recommend you use a more melt-friendly cheese.  Fresh mozzarella might be best or one of the store-bought grated blends.  Other than that – this is just a pizza like any other – except it is covered in pretty flowers.

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Zucchini Squash Blossom Pizza

INGREDIENTS

Zucchini squash blossoms

Pizza dough (mine in HERE)

Marinara (mine is HERE)

Cheese (fresh mozzarella recommended)

Chopped jalapeno (optional)

Chopped tomato & basil or parsley as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Pinch the pistils from the center of the blossoms, wash the blossoms & set out to dry.

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Heat your oven to 450-500 degrees.  Be sure it is at that temperature before putting a pizza in there.

Roll out the dough to your liking.  Top with marinara, mozzarella & blossoms and more cheese.

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If using diced jalapeno – you can opt to add them now or wait until the pizza is cooked.

Then bake the pizza 10-12 minutes or until the crust is browned & crispy & the cheese is melted goodness (a goal which my ricotta salata was unable to reach – hence my suggestion you not use it).

Eat the whole thing alone, destroy all evidence & deny it ever happened.

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Spicy Vegan Chinese Eggplant

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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LARGE BathingandthesinglegirlOrangeV52

My debut novel is out!  Check it out!  I think it is HILARIOUS!  I hope you will, too!

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Very quickly – let me report a story of frustration, disgust, financial devastation & simple kindness.  In March, while I was celebrating an anniversary of sorts in Memphis with this shady character,

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my housesitter reported that the tub had backed up with black sludge & wasn’t draining at all – even over an entire day.  I had been out of town for a week already & was remaining away for nearly another week which meant he had to handle the plumber situation for me.  I got a great referral & the plumber fixed the problem for $650 but left my dining room looking like this.

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A few months later, another bathroom on a lower floor also began to back up but, this time, with raw sewage.  Ugh!  When the same plumber came to deal with that issue – he noticed I had hung a piece of art over that hole in the dining room wall.

“You haven’t repaired that hole yet?”

No.

“You might just want to leave that art there then.  Because it is just a matter of time until I will need to get back in there.”

Say, what?  I had all the plumbing replaced on this house when I bought it 16 years ago.  Why should I be facing recurring issues like this?

He mumbled something about “old pipes” and went to the yard to access the clean out thingy & snake the main line.  Lots of drama & a high pressure water thing & the house seemed restored.  This was another $500.  The work was guaranteed for 6 months.  Six months & two weeks later – the sewage problem recurred – this time – flooding a carpeted room with the foulest waste and dumping said foul sewage into my yard, too.   Good-naturedly, he fixed the pipe again & for free, but I still had to get Stanley Steamer out to salvage the carpet and I did a bit of human waste removal myself in the yard so that it would be safe for dogs.  YUCK!  He gave me a long sob story about his truck getting stolen with $50K worth of tools in it that were uninsured.  For this reason, he was unable to give me any real estimates on my options to more permanently solve my “roots in the pipe” plumbing issue.  He told me to call him in a few weeks & said that when he had replaced his equipment – he would come bid options like some resin coating that is guaranteed for 30 years but costs $100 a foot (and my line to the main sewer is over a hundred feet long, easy, even by my own estimation).  I’m not sure if I can think of a less sexy way to spend $10K.  $10K spent INSIDE my house would make this place feel like I had moved up in the world.  I could change/fix everything that needs it so badly – from floors to painting to tile repair.  But spending $10k for underground pipes, more than half of which are under my neighbor’s yards & under the sidewalk & street – well – that just feels like losing it in a fire.

Fast forward 6-8 weeks from that SECOND repair job.  Oh no!  Raw sewage again – in both the lower bath & the yard!  Criminy!  I called my plumber.  Oh, yeah – he is on vacation because he is getting married this weekend.  “Call Mike Diamond.  They will charge you $99,” he says & hangs up.

Yeah, well, Mike Diamond wanted $350 to clear the line with ZERO warranty.  I complained.  They said I should call Roto Rooter.  I did.  $450 – but with a 3 month warranty.  So – I did that.  And then because the repair guy seemed SO nice – I asked him to bid a more permanent solution because, at this rate, I’d need emergency repairs every three months at $500 a pop.  He ran a camera or something and came back & said that the bad news was that a section of pipe was nearly destroyed by roots & the issue would definitely keep repeating but the good news was that the damaged pipe was in an easily accessible area of my yard – rather than under a deck or something in my neighbor’s yard.  The cost to fix it?  $3600.  And that resin stuff that my other plumber said costs $100 a foot – Roto Rooter does for $50 foot but, it seems, I have 183 feet of pipe to reach the city sewer.  That would be a $15,000 job!

So – I bite down hard & agree to the $3600.  They were here yesterday in sweltering heat, digging a trench & cutting roots & whatever else they do.  At lunch time, the repair guy knocked on my door & said they were going to lunch.  He asked if I cared to join them.  I said thank you, but no.

“What?  You don’t like Chinese?”

After some back & forth with him – with me declining all offers of food – he asked, “If you get Chinese – what do you order?”

“Shrimp or veggies,” I said.  “But don’t get me anything!  Really!”

An hour later – he delivered a piping hot container of shrimp fried rice to my door!  Can you believe how sweet?  I had it for lunch & dinner yesterday.  And I nearly cried into it – overcome by disproportionate gratitude that someone out there saw that I needed a weency bit of kindness.

And, when the work was done, he brought this pipe to my door to show me the problems.

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Look at the image of the roots!  Am I supposed to believe that those grew like that in just the last 6-8 weeks since my plumber was last here?   I asked the Roto Rooter guy.  Years, he said.  Years.  And there is no way it had been cleared in the last two months – let alone twice in the last 8 months.  He believes my old plumber was just meting out temporary fixes to either keep making $500 every six months off of me or to get me so panicked that I went for a far more costly repair.   When I mentioned that I had been told to leave the dining room wall open for future access he said, “Uhm – isn’t that a red flag for you?”

And so there you have it.  I’m $3600 poorer but I had a lot of shrimp fried rice for that money.  And my new guy said that the warranty on the drainage for the entire line would be for a year.  He also told me to call him in 11 months & he would do a “warranty servicing” on the pipe for free – as the work would still be covered – thereby extending the one year warranty to two.  Aw!  See?  There are still nice folks out there and, right about now, I REALLY needed to cross paths with one.

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This dish is SO easy & outrageously delicious!  It is also genuinely spicy but you can control that level yourself.  I used Japanese eggplant – at least I think they are Japanese.  They are long & thin – like a forearm.  You can use any kind you find available.  With rice, this would feed two people very well.

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Spicy Vegan Chinese Eggplant

INGREDIENTS

2 large Japanese eggplants (or 1 large regular one or equivalent) – cut into 1 inch cubes

1 onion – diced

Thai basil (or red basil or regular basil) – chopped – optional

Sesame oil

Coconut oil

6 garlic cloves – chopped

4 TBS minced ginger (I used jarred)

3 TBS brown sugar

1 TBS sriracha

2 TBS sambal oelek (or chili garlic sauce)

2 tsp molasses

3 TBS reduced sodium soy sauce

1/2 cup tomato sauce (I used homemade I had leftover but jarred or canned is fine)

1 TBS rice vinegar

1 TBS white vinegar

Crushed red pepper

Salt

Sesame seeds

1/2 cup water

Scallions – green parts sliced – as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

One reader recently expressed disgust with the quantities of oil & soy sauce I used in this.  If you are looking for a lighter dish with less sodium – use a low sodium soy sauce ( I ALWAYS do) and/or use less of it & cut the oil to the minimum required to cook each step of the recipe without it getting too dry or burned.  In fairness – there really is a generous amount of oil in my directions below & cutting it down won’t hurt flavor much – if at all.

Heat 2-3 TBS sesame oil in a pan & add the eggplant.  Add a little salt & some crushed red pepper.  Saute over medium heat until tender but not mushy.  Maybe 5-8 minutes.  Set aside in a bowl.

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Using the same pan, heat 1 TBS coconut oil & saute the onion with a bit of crushed red pepper.  When soft – add to the bowl with the eggplant.

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In the same pan, heat 1-2 TBS coconut oil.  Add 2-3 TBS sesame seeds & the garlic & the ginger.  When the garlic begins to brown add the tomato sauce, brown sugar, srirachasambal oelek (or chili garlic sauce), molasses, soy sauce, rice vinegar, white vinegar & water.  Simmer over med-low heat for ten minutes.  Add the eggplant & onions & simmer another 5 minutes.  Stir in some chopped basil (if using).

Serve over rice garnished with additional chopped basil, the scallions & some additional sesame seeds.  Drizzle with a small amount of sesame oil.

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Saffron Risotto with Asparagus & Fava Beans, Ziplock Omelettes, Pasta with Watercress & Lemon Cream and Disturbing Pedicures

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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YUP!  I wrote a very funny novel!  I hope you will read it!  www.BathingBook.com

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OK.  First of all, let me say that I like risotto.  A lot.  But I am finding that, when I make it, it tastes pretty much the same no matter what I use as the highlight ingredients.  That can be disappointing.  Also – there is an art to cooking it just right & to not presenting some waterlogged, mushy rice mess.  The risotto I made last night disappointed me primarily because the saffron color & flavor both somehow got lost.  That was certainly not the case with my Saffron Cream Pasta with Cauliflower.

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That pasta dish was exactly as delicious as it is stunning to see.  But my risotto – not so much.  I’m not saying it didn’t taste good.  It did.  But it has no big wow factor.  So – I am going to use this blog to post a few different items I’ve made that, while I recommend them, I didn’t feel they merited their own post.

But first – let me tell you about a recent experience I had at the nail salon.  This week, my friend Laura is in town from Boston.  She suggested that she & I (and her 12 year old daughter) all go for pedicures & maybe some lunch.  Sounded good to me so I picked them up & brought them to my local, strip mall nail salon.  When I go on my own, I just sit in the regular chairs & eschew the massage chairs because 1) they add $4 to the tab & 2) I think massage chairs are pretty lame.  But, Laura & her daughter were already planted in them & Laura insisted that I join them for the experience.  As I crawled into my chair, Laura said, “Hey!  This chair is pinching my butt!”  I made some lame joke about being desperate & lonely enough to welcome a little grab ass from an electronic chair & plopped myself down.  Now, I don’t know if there is a default setting on the chairs or if the staff sets them a certain way or if you just get it the way the last resident left it but my chair was on full assault mode.  The remote control for it was more complicated than trying to set a VCR to record a TV show & so, as I fumbled, I was victim to the existing settings.  The settings included words like “flap” & “knock” & “knead.”  Flap?  What the fuck is flapping?  I knew what knocking was because it was actively happening to me.  I felt like I was at Super King in the sorry position of standing in front of an especially impatient (and rude) woman with a mustache, black socks & Jesus boots prodding me from behind, angling to cut me in line at the cheese case.  I was in the middle of trying to express something or other to Laura when the chair commenced its “lower body” massage.  I froze mid-word, clamped my mouth shut & my eyes widened in surprise & horror.  Laura looked back at me & knew exactly what had just begun with my chair.  “Right?” she asked rhetorically, her eyes as wide as mine.  And she laughed.  The butt pinching she had mentioned was no butt pinching at all.  It was more like there was a little person under the chair wearing a boxing glove – who was using that boxing glove to massage our taints.  The glove rolled around, providing pressure from front to back & back to front again.  It was very disconcerting and, quite frankly, a shocking violation.  Who thinks they are going to get a vulva massage at a low end nail salon?  Not me.  Was this some sort of “happy ending” house of prostitution?  Did this require a bigger tip?  Ugh!  And if you think sleeping in a cheap motel on a bed with sheets of questionable sanitation is gross – just think of the places that boxing glove has been!

“OMG!  How do I turn it off?!”  I was panicking.

Laura was laughing and, sotto voce, asked, “What do you think…” and she subtly gestured over her shoulder where her 12-year-old daughter sat placidly in her chair.  Oh jeez!  Was that chair molesting her daughter, too?  These chairs had succeeded in freaking out a jaded 48-year-old & a mother of two.  What damage was that third one doing to the psyche of Laura’s innocent middle-schooler?  Methinks – in retrospect – that her chair must have been set differently because, if she was getting the full “lower body” treatment (vagina massage!  Let’s call a spade a spade here) – she gave no indication & I have a really hard time believing anybody could field the initial goosing & not have THIS reaction:

So – after much fumbling, I managed to get the pelvic exam part of the massage to stop.  But in my panic, I apparently upped the “knocking” part & couldn’t turn that off.  I tried to ask Laura but I was getting punched so hard, my speaking voice got all choppy – like I was Katherine Hepburn in the final grip of Parkinson’s.  “La-a-aur-a?  H-how do-o-oo you-ou t-t-u-uh-urn th-is-is o-o-offf?”  While I was speaking, I looked down at myself & noticed that my boobs & every other loose bit on my frame (and there are lots of bits looser than I would like) were being jostled around like a bowl of Jello.  I looked at Laura, a woman gifted in the breast department, and saw her body also looked like it was being wrestled by one of those old-fashioned fat loss jiggle machines.

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By the way – I am old enough to have belonged to a gym in Boston (Gloria Stevens) that actually HAD those things AND the stupid roller machines.

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Jesus.  Had I known what this chair would get up to – I might have worn a corset or some other support device.   A full body Spanx.  Something.  A wet suit.

As Laura and I jiggled & giggled & poked randomly at the remotes to no avail – ah, yes!  Cue the creepy male proprietor.  Here he comes to position himself before the display of waggling female appendages.  He not only stood there taking it all in – he also engaged us in conversation & passed his phone between us – sharing his remarkable weight loss photos.  This effectively kept us from being able to focus on our remotes & end the shaking that would eventually take a harder toll on our boobs than gravity.  “Oh, yes!  I see!” we said, politely enthusiastic.

“Exercise & eating!  I eat a lot of cheese!” he declared.

Good for you, buddy.  Now take your “before & after” photos & your prominent moles with three-inch whiskers dangling from them & get outta here!  I need to adjust my bra straps!

Eventually, we were able to get the chairs to settle down & we got down to the business of the pedicures.  Here is a photo of Laura & me – exhibiting the post-rough-sex glow we had – courtesy of those perverted chairs with anger issues.

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Notice the Bat phone in the background?  Look at this thing.

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Maybe Fu Manchu there was more than just a thinned down, lusty boob man.  Maybe he was a superhero & this was his special superhero phone?  They also had this throwback-looking thing.

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Maybe that was his teleporter.  I have no way of knowing.  What I do know is that I got glittery, red toenails meant to draw your eye from my increasingly problematic bunions.

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Are feet copacetic in a food blog?  Likely not – and for that – I apologize.

I also know that when we went to lunch – I opted not to take any chances on this place –

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– because I still felt violated by the massage chair & was in no shape to roll the dice on the “anal beer” these guys seem so proud of.  Even if it is served ice cold.

That really is an unfortunate breakdown of a perfectly decent word, no?

Alright – now that I’ve gotten that off my chest – I can share a few underwhelming recipes!  YAY!

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I grilled shrimp for this but you can lose them if you want to.

Saffron Risotto with Grilled Shrimp, Asparagus & Fava Beans

INGREDIENTS

Shrimp (optional)

2 cups Arborio (risotto) rice

1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)

4 cups stock (I make 5 just in case the risotto needs overcooking)

1/3 cup grated Parmesan

1 large shallot (or small onion)

Asparagus

Saffron (3 TBS of the liquid or a generous pinch of saffron threads steeped in 3 TBS hot water)

1 (16 oz) can fava beans (or white beans of any kind)

4 cloves garlic – minced (or to taste)

olive oil

S&P

1/2 lemon

Basil or parsley as garnish (I happened to have red basil)

DIRECTIONS

Put the shrimp (if using) in a Ziplock bag or a bowl & squeeze the 1/2 lemon over them.  Add a glug or two of olive oil & some S&P and maybe a minced garlic clove or two.  Blend well.  Set aside.

Drain the fava beans & puree in a food processor.  Set aside.

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Hold each asparagus spear by the far ends & bend until they snap.  They will naturally break at the point that the spear is too tough to eat.  Cut into bite-sized pieces.

Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a stock pot.  Add the asparagus & some garlic & saute about 3 minutes over medium heat or until the asparagus is vibrant & softens a bit.  Set aside but keep the pan for re-use.

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Grill or pan-fry the shrimp until just pink.  Set aside.

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In a clean pan – heat the stock to just simmering & keep it there.  Add the saffron to this stock.

Heat 2 TBS olive oil in the asparagus pan.  Add the shallot (or onion) and saute until soft – about 3 minutes.  Add garlic & the rice & saute for about 2 minutes over medium-high heat – stirring constantly – until the rice is translucent at the edges.

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Add the wine (if using) & cook for a minute or so.  Then, add the stock in 1/2 to 1 cup increments, stirring almost constantly and allowing the liquid to be mostly absorbed before adding more.  You might need more or less stock – depending on the softness you like – but do not add so much that the rice is mushy.   Be sure to add enough broth, though, so that the risotto is creamy.

Add the asparagus & the cheese & the pureed beans.  Serve with grilled shrimp on top & with some chopped herbs.

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OK!   Onto another recipe that I could not post because I hate all the photos I took of it.  That is really the only reason – as it is quite tasty.

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That is my Watercress & Lemon Cream Stacenate (stracnar) Pasta.  It is the same pasta I made for this dish:

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That is Stracnar (Stracenate) Pasta with a Pan-Fried Cauliflower, Tomato & Clam Ragu using the labor-intensive but really pretty cavarola-boarded pasta.

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I don’t expect anyone to hunt down a cavarola board & make this stuff – so – just use bowtie pasta or something.

Watercress & Lemon Cream Pasta

INGREDIENTS

1/2 lb bow-tie pasta (or pappardelle or something)

4 oz cream cheese

1/2 cup ricotta

1/4 cup grated Parmesan (plus extra for garnish)

1 bunch watercress

Olive oil

2 garlic cloves – minced

juice & zest of 1 lemon

1/2 tsp salt

1 TBS pepper

1 tomato – diced (optional – but it would add nice color)

Parsley or basil or reserved watercress as garnish

DIRECTIONS

Wash the watercress & remove any large stems.  Chop it up.

Heat the olive oil in a pan & add the minced garlic.  Saute 1 minute & then add the cream cheese, ricotta, Parmesan, juice & zest of the lemon and the S&P.  Blend & heat through.

Cook the pasta.  Drain & toss with the lemon cream sauce, add the watercress & serve topped with chopped herbs & tomatoes (if using) and lots of ground pepper.

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And lastly – this dish – Ziplock Baggy Boiled Omelettes.

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I saw this posted on my friend Cheryl Patrick Van Allen’s Facebook page & tried it out immediately.   Basically – you take eggs & whatever else you want in your omelette & put it all in a resealable baggy.  Squeeze out the air, seal the bag & smoosh everything around until well-blended.

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Whether camping or just serving several folks that require different ingredients in their omelettes – this is an easy way to make a bunch of varied omelettes all at one go & in one pan of boiling water.  Just be sure to write everyone’s name on their bag.

Then – boil them for 13 minutes.  Be careful the plastic doesn’t melt on your pan – a problem that actually bothers me & is a main reason I didn’t post this as a stand-alone recipe.   Folks say the omelette slips out of the bag onto your plate – and it does – but mine slipped out & looked more like an eggy heart than an omelette.

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That isn’t very appetizing.  But – it is nothing a fork & herbs & some peppers cannot fix.

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The other reason I didn’t post this before is because of the controversy about boiling in the bags that are not meant for that task.  It seems that the plastic can leak chemicals etc into your food.  Eh – but that is true of every dish you ever zapped in the microwave in or on something plastic.  I hate microwaving anything because I believe it alters the food in such a way that your body cannot even identify it as food – but I have been known to succumb to the convenience occasionally.  Still – I try to put things (even things meant to be zapped in their packaging) onto paper or glass before the nuking.

So – there you have it – boiled baggy eggy weggies!  Try at your own risk!

You know what isn’t risky?  A bottle of smiley face wine!

Bon appetit!

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Massaged Kale and Avocado Caesar Salad Dressing with Jalapeno & Cilantro

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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This is an easy salad & better for you that the traditional Caesar with romaine.  I made a different dressing for it than I am posting here (a traditional Caesar dressing) – but I wasn’t as happy with it as I was with my Avocado Caesar Salad Dressing with Jalapeno & Cilantro – so I am going to repost that recipe here instead.  The photos do not show that dressing on the kale, however.  Just FYI.

My kale was rather sad & limp so I removed the ribs & tore it into bite-sized chunks & immersed it in ice water for 15 minutes. Worked like a charm!

Massaging the kale changes the color from that uninspired sage green to a vibrant forest green.  No candles or aromatherapy required.

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Massaged Kale and Avocado Caesar Salad Dressing with Jalapeno & Cilantro

INGREDIENTS

Kale

Parmesan cheese – shaved

Croutons (homemade or otherwise)

Lots of freshly ground pepper

DIRECTIONS

Wash the kale in cold water (immerse it for 15 minutes in ice water if you feel it is a bit limp) and spin or pat it dry.  Remove the ribs & tear it up.   Massage it for 2-3 minutes – a good deep tissue massage – until it looks all bright green.

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For the dressing

INGREDIENTS

2/3 cup mayonnaise

2 garlic cloves – chopped or pressed through a garlic press

juice of half a lemon

1 TBS olive oil

1/2 large jalapeno (or more) seeded & chopped

1 ripe avocado

handful fresh cilantro

S&P to taste

DIRECTIONS

Blend everything in a food processor.  Add more olive oil or WATER if you feel it is too thick.

Toss the kale with some dressing.  Add the cheese & croutons & lots of freshly cracked pepper.  Feel healthy enough to drink a whole bottle of wine with it as your reward.  Now THAT is a happy ending!

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Saffron Cream Pasta with Cauliflower, Tomatoes & Chili Flakes (Vegan Option)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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That photo is un-retouched & shot in natural light.  So – yes!  That pasta really IS that color!  Pretty to look at but with the delicate flavors of saffron and cauliflower – this is a delightful pasta dish.

I found this great saffron liquid at Super King for $7.

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That is a way cheaper option than saffron threads but saffron threads will be easier to find, I suspect.  I actually made this twice because the first time I made it – I made it with whole wheat fusilli & I didn’t like the photos.  This dish above was made with regular linguini.   The first time I made it, I used white wine & ghee (clarified butter).  The second time, I used regular butter & skipped the wine.  I think they tasted pretty much the same so I am going to post the one I made this morning.  There is only a tiny bit of the heavy cream per serving so do not be alarmed.  It isn’t as rich as you might fear.

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Saffron Cream Pasta with Cauliflower, Tomatoes & Chili Flakes

INGREDIENTS (for two very healthy servings)

1/2 lb dry pasta or your choice

1 small head cauliflower cut into bite-sized florets

2 large shallots – minced

2 tomatoes – diced

2 TBS ghee or butter (or vegan alternative)

1/2 cup heavy cream (or vegan alternative – almond milk should work fine)

1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)

1-2 TBS olive oil

1 generous pinch (1/2 a tsp or more) saffron threads steeped in 1/4 cup hot (not boiling) water OR 1 TBS (or more) saffron liquid from a bottle

Crushed red pepper to taste

Salt to taste

White pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Steam the cauliflower for about 5 minutes.  Set aside.

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Heat the olive oil over medium heat & saute the shallots until just soft but not browned.  If using wine – add it now & cook it off for about a minute.  Or just skip ahead.

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Add the ghee or butter and the heavy cream & the saffron.  Simmer over medium heat until it reduces by about half.  Add the tomatoes & the steamed cauliflower.

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Add salt & white pepper to taste.

Cook the pasta according to instructions, drain & add directly to the pan with the saffron sauce.  Combine thoroughly.  Serve with lots of crushed red pepper.

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Asparagus & Basil Pesto and Parsley Cashew Pesto on either Pizza or Pasta

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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As you can see HERE – I have posted about a zillion different pesto recipes.  Cilantrocollard greens, Swiss chardbroccoli & goat cheesebroccoli rabe & pistachiodill & almondspinach & pecanspinachspinach & kalepea pesto and simple kale to name some.  Here is what those recipes looked like – not necessarily in the same order.

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The reasons for this are that pesto is wicked easy to make, full of flavor & an excellent way to put wilted or less than picturesque produce to use.  Pesto can be frozen by putting it into ice cube trays & then, once solid, transferring the cubes to freezer bags with the pesto flavor written on the outside.   You could freeze larger portions in mini or regular muffin pans, too.

OK – so – I had a bunch of asparagus that sat in my fridge a tad longer than I had intended.  Sometimes my fridge has odd drops in temperature & asparagus is very sensitive to extreme cold.  Hence – my spears got a bit soggy looking & several were unsalvageable.

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See?  It wasn’t happy at all.  I had to throw a lot away.  But, though it was well past its sell-by date – about half of it was usable for a pesto.  So that is what I did.

Also – at my favorite place on Earth – Super King – I got 7 huge bunches of parsley for .99 cents.  So – I made a parsley pesto, too.  The two recipes will follow.  They both go very well on pastas or on pizzas and even work as a condiment on sandwiches so – go nuts.  Speaking of nuts, you might notice than none of my pesto recipes use the traditional pine nuts.  That is because they go rancid easily & also because they are often from China – a country about 300 years behind us in their food safety regulations.  Rancid pine nuts might taste OK but they can give you pine mouth.  Here is a bit from the FDA.

“Pine Mouth” and Consumption of Pine Nuts

March 14, 2011 
 

In the past year FDA has received a number of consumer complaints regarding a bitter metallic taste associated with pine nuts. This taste, known as “pine mouth,” typically begins 12 to 48 hours after consuming pine nuts, and lasts on average between a few days and two weeks. It is exacerbated by consumption of any other food during this period and significantly decreases appetite and enjoyment of food. The symptoms decrease over time with no apparent adverse clinical side effects.

In response to increased consumer complaints, FDA developed a detailed questionnaire, and collected and analyzed samples from some consumers submitting complaints. The Agency found that the majority of pine nuts associated with “pine mouth” were eaten in the raw state (either as snacks or as a component of salad or pesto sauce). It also found that consumers did not detect a rancid or off-taste when eating the pine nuts. Finally, FDA was able to confirm that “pine mouth” is an adverse food reaction to pine nuts that is clearly distinct from a typical food allergy.

FDA continues to analyze consumer complaints to identify the potential causes of “pine mouth” and to determine whether the severity of symptoms and likelihood of developing them is related to the amount of pine nuts consumed. FDA will continue to monitor this problem and keep the public posted regarding any new findings.

Consumers experiencing “pine mouth” may contact the FDA District Office in their area. For a list, go to the Consumer Complaint Coordinators page athttp://www.fda.gov/Safety/ReportaProblem/ConsumerComplaintCoordinators/default.htm.

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So – that said – I just avoid them altogether.  I find them oily & too rich, anyway.

So – without further adieu – I present the two latest pesto recipes.

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Asparagus & Basil Pesto

INGREDIENTS

1 bunch of asparagus (or as much as you can salvage from a bunch on its last legs)

1 cup basil

1/2 cup olive oil

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup Parmesan

4 garlic coves (or to taste)

S&P

DIRECTIONS

Hold each asparagus spear by the far ends & bend until they snap.  They will naturally break at the point that the spear is too tough to eat.  You can then blanch them by dunking them in boiling water for about three minutes & then immersing them in ice water or wrap them in a wet paper towel & microwave them for a minute or two.  Chop into 1 inch chunks & set aside.

Toast the walnuts in a dry pan for two or three minutes or until they are fragrant & begin to brown.  Stir the entire time & be careful not to burn them. You can see from this photo below – I burned mine.

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Then – simply blend everything up in a food processor.  You can use more or less olive oil – depending on how thick or thin you prefer your pesto.  Then serve it mixed in with some cooked pasta or smear it on a sandwich or pizza!

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Parsley Cashew Pesto

INGREDIENTS

I bunch of Italian parsley (flat leaf)

2/3 cup chopped cashews (or almonds or walnuts or pecans – or other nuts)

2/3 cup Parmesan

2/3 cup olive oil

S&P to taste

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DIRECTIONS

Toast the cashews (or other nuts) in a dry pan for two or three minutes or until they are fragrant & begin to brown.  Stir the entire time & be careful not to burn them.  Then simply puree everything in a food processor.  Again – serve it mixed in with some cooked pasta or smear it on a sandwich or pizza!

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Golden Beet Soup

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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This soup is exactly as vibrant as it looks and so delicious & SO good for you!  I added red beet diced up but that was just for color.  It adds nothing different to the flavor so if the extra effort seems like a pain in the ass – blow the red beet off.  I enjoyed this soup more than the very yummy Roasted Beet & Balsamic Borscht of last week.

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Easy & so low in all the things damned by dieters – it is a really great weight loss aid.  And it can be served warm or cold.  I ate this for lunch three days in a row while trying to commit suicide-by-tortilla-pizza each evening & still woke up 3 pounds lighter on Monday than I had been on Friday.

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So – if over-eating like a heathen racked with self-pity AND shedding pounds while you are at it appeals to you – try this beet soup!!

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I used this saffron liquid I found at Super King for under $7 – but saffron threads are easier to come by (though costly) & can be used instead.  This can be done entirely with red beets & achieve the same flavor.  It will just look more like the borscht above.

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Golden Beet Soup

INGREDIENTS

4 large golden beets (or red – if golden are unavailable)

1 red beet

4 cups vegetable stock

2 celery stalks – chopped

1 yellow bell pepper – seeded & chopped

1 onion – diced

1-2 cups yogurt (this is a matter of taste)

2 TBS saffron liquid (or 1 tsp saffron threads steeped in 1/4 cup hot water for a few minutes)

1 TBS olive oil

1 tsp white pepper

Salt to taste

Scallions, dill & additional yogurt as garnish (along with the red beet)

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DIRECTIONS

Boil the unpeeled beets (yellow in one pan and the red (if using) in another for about an hour or until very tender.  Cool in a bowl of cold water & the rub or peel off the skins.

Dice one yellow beet & the red beet & set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot & saute the onions, celery & yellow bell pepper until soft.

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Add the stock & saffron (liquid or water with saffron threads), the white pepper.  Roughly chop the three yellow beets & add to the soup.  Heat it through & then puree in a blender or with an immersion blender.  Stir in the yogurt adding one cup first & tasting it before adding more.  Add more if that sounds good to you.  Add the reserved, diced YELLOW beet.

Ladle into bowls & garnish with a few chunks of the red beet, yogurt, dill & diced scallions.  Add lots of freshly ground pepper & indulge whilst fantasizing about the fatty/carb-heavy/or otherwise decadent meal you will be earning as you eat this healthy soup!

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Homemade Roasted Beet Ice Cream

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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Every time I go to the amazing Super King I come out with about ten big bags of produce.  That puts a lot of pressure on me to get creative with big chunks of it (produce) every day so that I use it all before it spoils.   Hence, this beet ice cream which I can freeze!

I also come out of there sometimes with things I’ve never seen before – like this layering of nuts soaking in honey.

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It was far more densely packed in there than I expected and didn’t make a very pretty presentation on my brie – but it sure tasted good!

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Anyway, this bet ice cream makes more than you will likely need so you might want to cut it in half.  Unlike my Avocado Ice Cream:

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the flavor of the beets didn’t get as lost in the cream & sugar as the avocado flavor did.  Plus, it had a less creamy texture.  I think it would be best served in tiny ramekins or sake glasses & used as a between-course palate cleanser.   It is gorgeous & quite tasty but just not the kind of thing you would serve yourself a huge bowl of & then sit back & shovel it into your face whilst watching Silver Linings Playbook or some such.  And it dyes your tongue (and even teeth, a bit) a neon magenta color.   I definitely recommend it but in smaller portions.  But you would be hard pressed to find a more striking bowl of ice cream.

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Homemade Roasted Beet Ice Cream

INGREDIENTS

2 large red beets

2 cups Greek yogurt

1 TBS vanilla extract

1/2 cup brown sugar

2/3 cup heavy cream

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DIRECTIONS

Put the canister of your ice cream maker in the freezer empty.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Wrap the unpeeled beets in foil & roast for about an hour or until tender all the way through.  erring on the side of cooking too much is better than not enough because a hard beet will be harder to puree.

Cool the beets in ice water & rub or peel the skins off.  Cube the beets.  Blend all the ingredients in your food processor until as smooth as possible.  Chill the mix in the fridge (or freezer) until very cold but not getting solid.

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Then – simply chill it according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.  It will come out of there in a soft serve consistency so chill it in a shallow container in your freezer if you like it harder.  Cover it with wax paper before putting the lid on the container.  You will stave off the freezer burn longer that way.

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Seared Ahi Tuna Pasta Puttanesca with a Fresh Tomato & Caper Sauce

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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I am not a super giant fan of traditional puttanesca.  I find the Kalamata olives overpowering & the sauce rather heavy.  I prefer lighter pasta toppers.  But this version I threw together is clean & light.  I used canned black olives – for color more than anything – and because they are less powerfully flavored.  I also used a bit from a tube of anchovy paste – mainly because that is traditional – but I didn’t use much, couldn’t taste it in the final dish & you can certainly eliminate it if “mustaches of the sea” do not appeal to you – or if you are vegetarian.

Puttanesca has lots of legends around its origin.  Here is something I found online:

Puttanesca translates as “in the style of the whore.” The name derives from the Italian word puttana which means whore.  Puttana in turn arises from the Latin word putida which means stinking.

Now I’ll bet your wondering how this tasty dish became associated with such sordid content.  As is often the case when sifting through culinary history, there are multiple explanations.  The first interpretation is that the intense aroma, (harking back to the “stinking” Latin definition), would lure men from the street into the local house of ill repute.  Thus, the Napolese harlots were characterized as the sirens of the culinary world.  Three additional accounts all hinge on the fact that Puttanesca sauce is easy and quick to make.  The first is that the prostitutes made it for themselves to keep the interruption of their business to a minimum.  The second is that they made it for the men awaiting their turn at the brothel.  And the final version is that it was a favorite of married women who wished to limit their time in the kitchen so that they may visit their paramour.  

First of all – uhm – yuck.  The word for whore derives from the word for stinking???  Think about that.  Oof!  That makes my entire olfactory system recoil.  And then to name a pasta after it?   This sauce has two ingredients derived from the sea – the anchovies & the tuna.  I don’t want to be eating those things & thinking about dirty whores.   No, mam!  So let’s move on, shall we?

As I said – this isn’t a traditional sauce using crushed tomatoes.  It isn’t a sauce you can ladle.  It is one you toss with the pasta in the pan you prepared it in.  If you like heavier sauces (as my boyfriend, Miles, does) – add a 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes – with or without the cherry tomatoes.  This can easily be made vegan by omitting the anchovies & tuna. They are not critical to this already flavorful dish.

Also – I seared fresh ahi – but a can or two of white tuna is actually more authentic.  This is a very simple dish to prepare – so – give it a try!

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Seared Ahi Tuna Pasta Puttanesca with a Fresh Tomato & Caper Sauce

INGREDIENTS

(to feed two well)

1 lb ahi tuna steak (or 1-2 cans of chunk white tuna)

1/2 lb of your favorite pasta (I almost always use whole wheat – and this time it was whole wheat spaghetti)

3 garlic cloves – chopped

20 cherry tomatoes – quartered (or a 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes)

1 tsp crushed red pepper

2 TBS capers

5-8 Kalamata olives (or other black olives) – chopped

1 tsp anchovy paste

Chopped parsley

Olive oil

S&P

(I garnished with caper berries & parsley)

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DIRECTIONS

Heat a grill or grill pan on high heat.  Press the tuna into some ground pepper.

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Depending on the thickness of the fish – grill it between 1-3 minutes per side or until the outside is grilled but the center is still raw.

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The tuna will keep cooking once you have it off the heat & you do not want that.  Cut it into the size pieces you want to serve immediately – so the heat dissipates.

In a large saute pan, add a glug or two of olive oil (1-2 TBS) & add the anchovy paste (if using).  Sizzle that a bit & then add the crushed red pepper, tomatoes, capers, olives & garlic.  Add some chopped parsley.  If you are using canned tuna and/or canned tomatoes – add that here, too.  When it is just heated through & the tomatoes are soft – set it aside on low heat.

Cook your pasta.  Drain & add to the pan with the tomato caper sauce.  Increase the heat to medium & mix it all up.

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Arrange tuna chunks on top & garnish with parsley & maybe more capers or olives.  Or basil.  Eat it up like the puttana you are!

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Benny’s Tacos & Chicken Rotisserie in Venice, California

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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I am a Hollywood snob.  An east side snob.  Driving west of La Brea gives me the vapors.  The words “Beverly Hills” are greeted with a roll of my eyes.  I go years without seeing the ocean.  It is pretty twisted actually.  Matters are made worse by the fact that Miles’ favorite LA meal & favorite bar at which to linger – is Birds – right within walking distance of my home.  Here is Miles’ favorite meal there.

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That is a half chicken, loaded baked potato & baked beans.  Birds can be pretty limited in its selection if you are a pescatarian, like me.  But they added this new flatbread with mozzarella & jalapenos & I have become mildly obsessed with it.

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I love Andrew & Brooklyn, the bartenders at Birds, and so I can easily have my arm “twisted” and agree to Birds – sometimes EVERY day that Miles is here.  It has happened.

But, sometimes, when he is in town – I find occasion to venture out – sometimes even out past La Cienega.  Recently, we found ourselves in Venice.  Before I headed out there, I scoured Yelp for out best lunch options & came up with Benny’s Tacos.  It is difficult to guess what to expect from the exterior but there was parking & I am all about that.  Here is the exterior (image stolen from Benny’s site).

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On the left of the image, you see their al fresco dining area.  We meant to eat out there but the tables all seemed very unstable so we moved inside.  Here is the interior.

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And look at that cool tortilla heater thingy back there!  It rotates.

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The greatest thing about Benny’s (for me) is their wide selection of seafood & vegetarian options.  I ordered a lobster & a fish taco – grilled not fried – and Miles got some massive chicken burrito.  We got drinks, chips & some salsa from the salsa bar & chose a table.  Benny’s also serves beer & wine!  There is a little three-seater bar in there, too!

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If I lived close to Benny’s – I can promise you – Miles & would make that bar our own.

Chips & salsa were good.  Beer is served in frosted mugs.  Always a nice touch.

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Then my tacos arrived.

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That is the lobster taco on the left.  And let me tell you – that was the best Goddamn taco I have ever had in my life!  I don’t typically eat lobster because I feel really bad for them.  Seeing them in those tanks at the supermarket or in restaurants – claws bound & crawling all over each other waiting to die by being BOILED ALIVE – moves me to tears.  But, hypocritically, so did that lobster taco – as I washed it down with ice cold beer.  I kept photographing it in an effort to prolong the pleasure.  The fish taco was delicious, too, but that lobster fucker was a revelation!

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Miles was served a burrito nearly the size of a football.

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Miles pointed out that serving a burrito that size – largely filed with rice & beans (and TONS of chicken) – with additional rice & beans might be considered a rice-n-beans overkill but that is a minor complaint.  Especially for Miles – who can be very finicky about food minutia.  We both found our meals to taste fresh & clean & to be quite substantial.  I wanted to go right back up & order every other taco they offered that fit my diet but – alas – we were both stuffed.   My only complaint about Benny’s is that it is all the fuck the way in Venice – I place I have gone to more often than Venice, Italy – primarily because I have never been to Venice, Italy & that number (zero) is hard to beat.

But if you live anywhere near there – I cannot recommend highly enough that you give Benny’s a try.   They do a whole rotisserie chicken thing there, too, that we never even got into.  The menu – HERE – is far more varied than your average taco stand.  You could eat there every night for a week & never feel like you are ordering off the same menu.  And you can get likkered up, to boot!  What is stopping you?  Go there now!  And save me a seat at the bar!

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Grilled Fig & Watercress Salad with Goat Cheese, Toasted Walnuts & Balsamic Glaze

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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First of all – an update on the gorgeous Piglet.  Here she is about three weeks ago – fresh out of the shelter with epic mange.  (First two images stolen from her rescuer – Fairy Dogfather.)

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Here she is about a week later after some meds & one mange dip.  All pink & ALL bald.

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And here she is – yesterday.

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All we have been doing is steeping supermarket jarred garlic in warm water & giving her a sponge bath in it two times a day (plus a little antibiotic medication) and her fur is coming in so fast you can almost watch it grow!  She is the most incredible little girl!  I am so honored to know her.

In other news – by boyfriend (Miles) lives in Little Rock.  Sometimes, he shares some Arkansas flavor with me.  Lots of bars with great names.  Lots of bars that look like you could find trouble if you wanted it.  Maybe even a mullet or two.  Certainly a few gun racks in the parking lot.  Definitely some misplaced anti-Obamacare sentiment from a lotta folks who probably need it the most.  God bless America!  (Photos by Miles Miller.)

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And even cooler – authentic southern BBQ joynts like Bubba’s here.

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It reminds me a LOT of True Blood’s Merlotte’s!!!

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And looky what they serve up at Bubba’s!

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Looks like cold beer, fries & the charred forearm of an adult human.  Yum!

Speaking of yum – this salad is outrageous!  Easy & bursting with different flavors & lots of different textures.  Pretty, too – no?

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I have a grill on my stove & I love it enough to consider marrying it.  If you do not have one – but you like grilling things – maybe invest in a grill pan.  You don’t have to marry it.  I use my grill pan a lot, too, even though I have the real grill.   I won’t let anyone grill MEAT on my stove because it just gets disgusting fat everywhere & I don’t want that.  I have enough disgusting fat on ME – I don’t need it in the catch pan of my Viking, too.  So – if folks want to grill meat on my stove – they use a grill pan.  It also makes for pretty quesadillas – see!

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That’s my Squash Blossom Quesadilla.  As enjoyable to eat as it was to look at.

Anyway – the figs don’t HAVE to be grilled but it adds a nice look & a subtle flavor.

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These are green figs.  The ones that are purply-red inside are prettier but the green ones were all that were available so I grabbed them.  You can eat the outer skin of figs, too, so these guys can be eaten like giant grapes.

The toasting of the walnuts is a bizarrely important step in this recipe.  It changes their flavor significantly – so do not skip it.  Quantity here is really up to you so I am only going to list the ingredients I used.  You can use more or less of each to suit your taste.  Also – I used watercress but arugula or baby mixed greens would do very well, too.

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Grilled Fig & Watercress Salad with Goat Cheese, Toasted Walnuts & Balsamic Glaze

INGREDIENTS

Lots of balsamic vinegar

Watercress (or arugula or other mixed greens)

Walnuts – chopped

Figs

Goat Cheese

Olive oil

Fresh ground pepper

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DIRECTIONS

To make the balsamic glaze, boil some balsamic & then reduce it to a simmer.  Cook it down until it thickens.  It reduces quickly & 1/4 cup of balsamic produces about 2 tsps of glaze – so – keep that in mind when deciding how much balsamic to add to the pan.  If it gets too thick – add more balsamic or some water.  Set aside.  Here it is on my Grilled Watermelon & Feta Salad with Mint, Arugula & Balsamic Glaze.

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Halve the figs & brush with olive oil.  Grill for about 1 minute or until grill marks appear.

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Wash the watercress & remove any large stems.

Toast the chopped walnuts in a dry pan for 2-3 minutes (or until they become fragrant & just begin to brown a bit) being very careful not to burn them.  Set aside.

Now, simply assemble the salad with the watercress, figs, goat cheese & walnuts.  Drizzle a little olive oil over it & drizzle some balsamic glaze.  Grind fresh pepper over it liberally. Taste it & then lose all semblance of control and eat it with your hands whilst standing up. Grunting might happen.  Pleasure definitely will.

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Vegan Roasted Beet & Balsamic Borscht

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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This is a really easy & fresh & light dish.  It will likely render your kitchen a crime scene so be sure to wear an apron.  Most borscht is vegan so that isn’t really of note here – but I thought I’d point it out.  I topped mine with Greek yogurt.  You could use a vegan alternative or sour cream or creme fraiche.  Or nothing.  If you do not add any creamy element – this is a guiltless soup.  The only thing in it with any calories worth talking about is a little olive oil but this make a lot of soup so the amount that ends up in a serving is very low.  You could lower it further by boiling the beets rather than roasting them but I think roasting adds a nice flavor.  This can be served hot or cold, too, which is a nice option to have.  I pureed the bulk of the soup & reserved a few cubes of beets for texture.  You could leave it chunky or puree it completely.  Your call!

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Vegan Roasted Beet & Balsamic Borscht

4 HUGE beets (or 10-12 small ones) – halved or quartered

4 carrots – chopped

4 celery stalks – chopped

1 onion – diced

4 garlic cloves – chopped

2 bay leaves

6 cups vegetable stock

2 tsp Marmite (optional)

1 TBS good quality balsamic vinegar

olive oil

S&P

fresh dill – as garnish

Greek yogurt (or vegan option or sour cream or creme fraiche) for garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Toss the beets in a bit of olive oil & salt & pepper liberally.  Roast on a foil-lined pan at 400 degrees for about an hour – or until easily pierced with a fork.  Set aside to cool.

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Heat 2 TBS olive oil in a large stock pot.  Saute the onion, celery & carrots over medium heat for about ten minutes or until they soften.  Add the bay leaves & garlic and saute another 2-3 minutes.  Add the stock & the marmite (if using) & simmer over medium-low heat.

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Peel half the beets & reserve the skins.  Cube the peeled beets and set aside.

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Chop the other half of the beets coarsely.   Add the skins & unpeeled beets to the soup pot.   Simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves & discard.  I used an immersion blender & pureed the soup.  You can do this in batches in a blender but be careful you do not get burned & be more careful that you don’t splatter magenta soup everywhere.

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Once pureed to your liking – add the reserved cubed beets & stir in the balsamic vinegar.  Season with S&P.

To serve – garnish liberally with yogurt (or whatever you are using) and lots & lots of dill.  Eat it up!  Then curse the inevitable pink splatter you find in your kitchen hours after you were sure you cleaned the last of it.

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Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with Brussels Sprouts, Carrots & Jalapeno Mashed Potatoes

1 Comment

All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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This is another creation inspired by existing ingredients, my own laziness & the reality of produce & its shelf life.  That doesn’t mean it is not DELICIOUS.  Delightful.  And even – dare I say it?  Delovely!

I have expressed some frustration recently with my photography but I bought a new $17 toy (a light) & the world has opened up just a bit.  I was beginning to feel a tad sorry for myself as I cannot really compete with folks that are getting paid to blog.  I know they had to work their way there from where I am – but – it is still a bit like me trying to compete for roles with Diane Lane or Julia Roberts.  These folks have their shit together & skills, experience, equipment, financing, maybe even a team – etc.  Here I am – trying to keep my monthly grocery bill down & think of new, affordable things to make and then photograph them using my i-phone & a $4 clamp light.  And I have to photograph them alone – as in – with nobody to hold the fork just “that way” or assist me at all.  Framing a photo & trying to hit the screen (on my i-phone, remember) to focus the image where I want the focus & then adjust to hit the shutter without effecting the focus, all with my NON-dominant left hand while I try to hold the subject matter in place with my right hand – can get really frustrating, lemme tell you!   Then I have to eat the food.  All of it.  I cannot afford to waste it – as it COSTS.  And I live alone & eat 99% of my meals alone.  Then I end up eating some Goddamn lasagna for 6 days & letting the blog lag behind – while my Super King produce wilts & guilts me from the confines of the fridge.  It has begun to feel oppressive & I have been comparing myself very unkindly to the vastly superior food bloggers out there (you know who you are – THUG KITCHEN).

Then – I met Piglet.  I didn’t actually meet her.  I saw her on my friend, Nikki Dogfather’s, Facebook page.  Nikki is a full-time rescuer & she posted Piglet – immediately after she’d been pulled from the shelter – looking like this (photos stolen from Nikki):

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She had terribly advanced mange – which is not contagious & HIGHLY curable – and the cure is not expensive.   But these victims of mange look so scary – it is a rare person that dares even investigate.  Nikki is practically a mange fetishist!  I jest, of course, but she is the go-to gal in LA if someone spots a mangy baby in a local shelter.  No case of mange will scare Nikki away!  So – after a single mange dip & twice-daily garlic water baths (and some antibiotics)  – Piglet began to recover.  I am currently fostering her while she completes her recovery.  Here she is two days ago in my house.

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Just for some reference – here are two pugs I adopted from Nikki a few years ago.

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That is Ella & Grisbi.  Here is how they looked a few months later.

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See?  CRAZY transformation.  Tragically, Ella died of a bee sting at 11 months old & Grisbi died last August 16th 2012 – in his sleep – at four years, old for no known reason.  Great, big, gaping scars on my heart.  😦

So, anyway, I fell in love with Piglet ON SIGHT.  I look at lots of rescues – every day.  Facebook is rife with them.  They all give me heart twinges but Piglet was special to me.  I don’t know why.  It was like a recognized her from somewhere.  And now – I am care-taking gorgeous Piglet.  And she is a gift & an amazing example of gratitude & resilience & of living in the moment.  One can never have too many examples of THAT around.

So – a new $17 light for my photography & a new little sprite jumping around the house & a much needed PROFESSIONAL hair salon appointment on Friday (a gal can only self-Feria her color so many times in a row) – and I am feeling rather hopeful.  Plus – the greatest loss I endured last week – RIGHTED itself!  Yay!  No longer broken & sad & no longer riding the scary pot-truffle train I got on last week (read about that HERE) and nice hair right around the corner?  That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout!

And the $17 light?  It is so great – I want to buy 5 more.  That is irrational – because I only NEED the one.  But it has improved my life SO much and for so little.  It reminds me of the time my plumber told me I needed a whole new kitchen tap set thing (and nice ones cost a lot) because the drip was not fixable.  I used a fucking ShamWow for two years behind the sink, under the tap, to catch the dripping & water STILL leaked out – warping my cabinets & damaging the finish.  Then a new plumber suggested I go buy a cheap washer (that the first plumber had declared no longer available) at a local hardware store.  “You might need to buy a whole box – but they shouldn’t cost much,” he said.  I went to my local mom & pop True Value & inquired.  Yes.  They had them.  They were a dollar seventy each.  A FUCKING DOLLAR SEVENTY!  I bought ten – even though I only needed one.  I was so fucking excited that this $1.70 thing was gonna change my life.  I had to have enough to roll around on the bed with – as if they were thousand dollar bills.  And THAT is how I feel about by $17 lamp.

Whew!

Now – onto food.   I have long made the Sunday’s at Moosewood version of veggie shepherd’s pie – and it is very good.  In fact, I am going to suggest their tofu version of “meat” in this recipe as I cannot begin to tell you (other than Super King!) where you might find the faux meat I used.   Here it is.

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It is like weightless Grapenuts.  I am not sure if they are just re-purposing some failed attempt at a new packing material – but I took the bait.  While it says who distributes this shit, it does not say what is in it.  No ingredients list at all.  No calorie count.  Nada.  Could be the scabs from accident-prone paper dolls or the stuffing from padded toilet seats.  I don’t know.  I bought it.  I cooked it.  And I ate it.  And I am here to tell you about it so – well – there.

If you can find it, I recommend using it.  I used half that container in this decent-sized recipe so it is worth its weight in Hamburger Helper.  If you cannot – or would rather not eat mystery food – substitute any faux meat thing of your choice – whether seitan or some pre-made soy version of meat or soyrizo or the stuffing from an old padded toilet seat.  Or – EGADS!  Use ground beef!   Just know that I added over a cup of water to the 4 oz of cardboard scabs to reconstitute them into something more substantial.  So – use closer to 10-12 ounces of your fake meat selection – or more.

OR – use the Sundays at Moosewood version – which is pretty great.  It requires that you freeze tofu (I use two blocks), thaw it, squeeze it completely dry & then shred it into a crumble.

Copied & pasted from elsewhere – I present –

Sundays at Moosewood Shepherd’s Pie Filling

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 block of extra firm tofu that has been frozen, then thawed, and shredded to the appearance of ground meat
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon of thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander seeds
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup of walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce

DIRECTIONS

Sauté the chopped onion in oil with thyme, coriander, and black pepper until onions are translucent.  Add chopped walnuts and shredded tofu.  When heated through, stir in lemon juice and soy sauce.  Remove from heat.

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I used Brussels sprouts & carrots and, unexpectedly, a fennel bulb because – yes, you guessed it – I had them.  You could use corn or peas or any other vegetables you like.  I know this one screams out for corn because I made the mashed potatoes with roasted jalapenos – but – am I the only one that gets tired of the traditional pairings?  Like anything pumpkin has to have butter & sage on it?  Or – redheads must wear green?  Or anything with jalapeno needs corn and/or black beans?  This wasn’t a Mexican-themed shepherd’s pie.  It was a “what’s-in-my-fridge-inspired” shepherd’s pie.  You can do it, too!  Do not be intimidated.

Hey!  Did you notice all my photos of this look WAY alike?  Me, too.  Shepherd’s pie can be hard to photograph because it tends to fall apart.  I got a good angle & exploited it.  Apologies for the lack of imagination.  I told you I was a hack.   🙂

One last note – this is genuinely spicy – so keep that in mind when you decide how much jalapeno to add!  And yes – there are several steps to assemble this but all are EASY & this is worth the effort.  DO NOT BE SCARED!

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Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with Brussels Sprouts, Carrots & Jalapeno Mashed Potatoes

INGREDIENTS

For the jalapeno mashed potatoes

2 large Russet potatoes

3 jalapeno peppers (or to taste)

4 TBS butter

4 oz cream cheese

S&P to taste

More butter for browning

Parsley – chopped as grnish

For the “meat” filling

4 oz of freeze dried soy protein plus 1 1/3 cup water (or 8-10 oz or more of another meat substitute)

1 small onion – diced

4 garlic cloves – minced

1/3 cup soy sauce

1 cup walnuts – chopped

olive oil

S&P to taste

OR use the Sundays at Moosewood tofu version noted above for the “meat” filling.

For the vegetable layer

3 carrots – diced

10 Brussels sprouts – chopped

1 fennel bulb – chopped (very optional)

1 jalapeno – seeded & diced (very optional)

olive oil

S&P to taste

For the gravy

3 TBS butter

1/4 cup flour

1 1/2 cup vegetable stock

2 TBS soy sauce

1/2 tsp peper

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

For the roasted jalapeno mashed potatoes

Char the outside of the jalapenos until they blacken.  You can do this directly on the burners or by broiling in the oven.  Once blackened, seal them in Tupperware or wrap them in foil for about 15 minutes.  This will sweat the skin off.  Then, under cool running water, roll the blackened skin away & squeeze off the tops & remove the seeds.  Then – chop the jalapenos finely.

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Chop & boil the potatoes.  When tender, drain & puree (I used an immersion blender but any mashing or pureeing device would work) with the roasted jalapeno, butter, cream cheese & some salt & pepper.

I added water to thin mine a bit.  I didn’t want them to dry out in the oven.  Set aside.

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For the “meat” filling

See the Sundays at Moosewood tofu recipe in the body of text above.  OR-

Heat 2 TBS olive oil in a large frying pan.  Saute the onions until softened.  If using REAL meat – add it here & cook it through.  Add the garlic, walnuts & soy sauce & stir to bend.  Add your faux meat.  If using the kooky stuff I used (freeze dried mystery flakes) – add about one to one & a half cups water.  Heat through.  Add S& P to taste.  Set aside.

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For the vegetable layer

Use the faux meat pan & add 1 TBS olive oil.  Saute the fennel (if using), Brussels sprouts & carrots & saute 5 minutes or so – or until tender.  No science here as they will cook more in the oven.

ImageImageImageFor the gravy

Melt the butter over med-high heat & add the flour.  Whisk for about 30 seconds.  The butter should absorb that flour very quickly & become a paste.  Add the soy sauce & then whisk in the stock in increments until you have a gravy.  Thin with water if it gets too thick.  Add pepper.  Set aside.

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ASSEMBLY!

Spray a casserole pan with cooking spray – or grease it with butter or olive oil.  Layer your “meat” then gravy then veggies & then potatoes.   Apologies – but I actually forgot to get a shot of the veggie layer.  I think you will manage.

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Then bake that sucker for a while.  I baked this at 350 for 30 minutes – COVERED.  It came out like this.

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As you can see – the back of my oven is far hotter than the front.  At any rate – I did not like the look of this.  So – I swirled the potato all up & added some butter and chopped parsley & baked it at 400 for another 10-15 minutes.  It came out like this.

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That is a vast improvement – no?  Despite my unevenly heated oven.

Then just bust out the wine, get a pot holder, use it as a placemat & sit right in front of this casserole dish – hotter than fuck – and eat as much as you possibly can.  Drink too much, too.  Life is short.  And so are hangovers.  Relative to life, that is.

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Spicy Baked Parmesan Zucchini Chips with Delta Dipping Sauce

1 Comment

All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

~

BathingandthesinglegirlCover vromans back

OK – let me start by expressing frustration with my photography.  These shots today are all wildly off & yellow & gross because I broke the bulb in my lamp & had to replace it with a fucking energy-saving thing that makes the light strobe & look yucky & – well – grrrrr.

And – I am deluged with other food bloggers & their SPECTACULAR images like this one from The Iron You.

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Homemade sriracha.  Fucking beautiful.

Or this one (or ANY one) from How Sweet It Is.

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And ANYTHING on my fucking HERO’S blog – Thug Kitchen.

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I included that cookbook promo here to also illustrate the Thug Kitchen IS SO MUCH COOLER THAN I AM – it hurts my soul!  I see the words “Expect that shit” and I am SO FUCKING JEALOUS that I am not Thug Kitchen that I feel actual physical anguish.  Expect that shit.  So simple.  Hilarious.   Tickles me & gives me butterflies of anxiety because it feels like a slap down.  And Thug Kitchen makes vegetarian, healthy food, too.  I mean my God.  How is it that I even show my face in public?   I am a loser & a fraud & a hack & a lame photographer & I have no hook.  Thug Kitchen.  I wish I could quit you.

That said – and after showing you what folks who know what they are doing throw in your grill – I present you with the least inspired & most poorly executed photos ever.   These photos are my food blog equivalent of the rape victim in the bathroom mirror, hacking her hair off or smearing lipstick all over her face.  This is me sliding down the shower wall crying.  Goddammit.

So – I guess I will just get on with it.

These guys look all fucked up because of white balance & whatever – but they tasted great!  I ate the entire batch.  Quickly.  Without regard for decency.  Or dignity.  Count yourself lucky that I didn’t just smash them into my face & hair in a fit of wild self-loathing.  That shit could happen.  It’s been a bad week – on lots of fronts.  Early this week, I ate a tiny piece of a pot truffle and lost my shit for 20 hours.  DO NOT EAT TINY PIECES OF POT TRUFFLES!!!!!   Granted – I am NOT a pot person. Never liked it.  Renders me slack-jawed & retarded.  Immediately.  One hit & I will watch the same 2 minutes of Family Guy over & over because I cannot follow the plot.  But – like – a bite smaller than a Hershey Kiss off this devil’s poison fucked my whole world up from 8:30pm until early evening the next day.  And I slept 8 hours in the middle.  Actually – the beginning.  I swallowed that thing and hit my bed like a felled tree.  I was out in minutes.  But I woke up in the morning into a scene from Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas.  My phone mocked me.  My dogs seemed foreign.  I couldn’t even begin to think of driving.  So – I cooked all day.  But it was awful.  AWFUL!  I don’t know.  Some of my favorite people are degenerate potheads that “wake & bake” and use terms like Sour Diesel & crystals and whatever.  They smoke all friggin’ day & somehow function.  It all seems so innocent.  But pot today isn’t your 1970’s dad’s pot that you stole when you were 14 and smoked the whole joint.  Trust me.  That truffle would be what Michael Jackson would have progressed to when his propofol stopped working.  If he’d survived the propofol.  One silly, regrettable bite & I nearly had a lost weekend.

Other things went wildly wrong, too.  Personal loss (yadda yadda yadda) – and not of the belly fat variety.  I am attempting to distract myself from my own self-pity by fostering this gorgeous lady – Piglet! – who is meant to arrive at my house any minute.

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She has very, very bad mange & it has rendered her bald.  Some mange dips & garlic washes will, we hope, restore her to a furry pup of whatever color she was born.  So – I am taking Piglet in – as a temporary stop – while her rescuer finds her a suitable forever home.  I am hoping she ratchets up my lagging sense of gratitude.

And  so – yes – the zucchini chips.  I made what you see from a single, though large, zucchini.  I also made it with egg wash though you could substitute milk with no issues.  They shrink down quite a bite – so – one big zuke did not go far.  Also – I had leftover Delta sauce from my Spicy Southern Fried Cauliflower and Delta Dipping Sauce with Smashed Baked Potatoes and White Gravy and Buffalo Mac & Cheese recipe

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so I dipped these zucchini chips in it & it was pretty awesome.  I definitely recommend that you whip some up.

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Spicy Baked Parmesan Zucchini Chips with Delta Dipping Sauce

INGREDIENTS

For the Delta dipping sauce

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 tsp lemon juice

1/8 cup vegetable oil

1/8 cup sambal oelek (or other chili sauce)

1/8 cup ketchup

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp mustard

1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

2-3 dashes hot pepper sauce (Tabasco or another brand)

1 garlic clove – minced

For the spicy baked zucchini chips

1 large zucchini – sliced into 1/4 inch rounds

2 eggs (or 1 cup milk)

5-10 shakes of your favorite hot sauce

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan (I used a microplane)

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

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DIRECTIONS

For the Delta dipping sauce

Whisk the ingredients together & chill.

For the spicy baked zucchini chips

Heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Whisk the eggs (or milk) with hot sauce.

In a different bowl, mix the dry ingredients.  Coat a baking rack well with cooking spray & place that rack on a cookie sheet (or crumbs & mess will go everywhere).  Then dip each zucchini round in the wet mix & then the dry & place on the cooking rack.  Bake at 425 for about 30 minutes.

Commence to chow.

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No-Carb No-Pasta Grilled Garden Vegetable Lasagna with Basil Marinara

8 Comments

All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

Hey!  Have you heard?  I wrote a really funny & dirty novel!  www.BathingBook.com.   Check out the reviews on Amazon!  Why not buy a copy?

vromans front vromans back

 

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Say!  Kids!   Got 18 minutes to kill & you already watched as much porn as you can for the day?  Why not wash your filthy hands & culturize yourselves?  Take a gander at my genius boyfriend’s award-winning short film – Pillow.  Available for the first time online!  Feel free to say you saw it here!  And for those of you unfamiliar with indie films & more accustomed to having things spelled out for them – let me just preface your viewing with this insight:  It isn’t a goose.  It is an angel.

Enjoy!

Wasn’t that AWESOME????

OK – on to food!  This a pretty guiltless creation.  Sure – there is some cheese but there ain’t no pasta – just a shit ton of veggies!  This bad boy has to weigh 15 pounds!  The actual vegetables one uses is just a matter of personal preference – so – if you hate eggplant or mushrooms – leave them out.  Love kale?  Throw some of that shit in there.  Make it your own!

I grilled the eggplant but you could skip that part by just slicing the eggplant far thinner than my 1/2 inch slices.  I also grilled the zucchini.  I grilled these guys because 1) I think they taste better grilled & 2) I was attempting to minimize the water they would release into the lasagna.  If grilling isn’t an option for you or it just sounds like a pain in the ass – simply slice those guys up & toss them with a little salt in a colander in the sink & let them drain a while.  That should dry them out a bit – and, I hear – it lessens any bitterness the eggplant might possess.

I made a simple basil marinara but your favorite jarred sauce will do.  Feel free to add some actual cooked lasagna noodles, if you fancy.  I’m not here to judge.  This is a fairly simple recipe despite the various steps, so do not be intimidated.  And this baby is PACKED with flavor!

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No-Carb No-Pasta Grilled Garden Vegetable Lasagna with Basil Marinara

INGREDIENTS

For the basil marinara

1 (28 oz) can of crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce

3 garlic cloves – chopped

1/4 cup fresh basil – chopped

1 tsp sugar

10 cherry tomatoes (quartered) – optional

Olive oil

S&P to taste

For the garden vegetable lasagna

5-6 large zucchinis – sliced the long way into faux lasagna noodles

1 eggplant – sliced

5 huge mushrooms (or equivalent) – sliced

10 cherry tomatoes – cut into quarters

1-2 cups fresh spinach

2 cups grated mozzarella (or cheddar mozzarella blend or other mix)

1 large ball fresh mozzarella

Olive oil

Italian dressing for grilling (optional)

Parsley or basil – chopped as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

For the basil marinara

Heat 1 TBS olive oil in a stock or soup pot.  Add the garlic & heat for less than a minute.  Do not be alarmed!  I like huge chunks of garlic.  You can cut yours up more, if you like, just don’t burn it!  Also – those brown bits in there are remnants of the sauteed mushrooms.  Just soze you know.

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Add the canned tomatoes (they sputter in the oil so do not get burned).  Add the basil, cherry tomatoes & the sugar.  Simmer 15 minutes or more.  Add S&P to taste.  Set aside or allow to simmer on low as you prepare the lasagna components.

For the garden vegetable lasagna

I lightly coated the eggplant with a cheap, Italian dressing & grilled them.  I grilled the zucchini naked.  You can do this or opt to slice those guys up & toss them with a little salt in a colander in the sink & let them drain a while.  Either way, set the eggplant & zucchini up & then set aside.

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In a frying pan, heat 1-2 TBS olive oil (less if you can get away with it) & saute the mushrooms until they begin to brown.  Set aside.

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Get a casserole or other dish appropriate for your lasagna & cover the bottom with a thin layer of the basil marinara.  My pan is about 3 inches deep & maybe 6″x9″.  This is not a science.

Then – basically layer all the ingredients (except the fresh mozzarella & the cherry tomatoes) in any order that suits you – as long as the final two layers are sauce & then grated cheese.  Here is my assembly.

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Then – top with the cherry tomatoes.

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.  Take the dish out & top it with sliced fresh mozzarella.

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Bake it for about another ten minutes or until it looks like this.

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Let it rest a good 10-20 minutes before cutting into it so you have some hope of it holding its shape.  I was impatient.  I cut right in because I am a food whore and I have no will power & that’s just how I roll.

If you wait a bit – it might slice up like this.  Might.  You make the call.

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