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Pasta for a winter’s eve…

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If you’ve been to this blog before then you know a few things about me. One is that I like one-pot meals such as rice or pasta…especially pasta. And this is a good example. I’ve been ill for the past few days (a cold) and actually took the day off work yesterday, which is unlike me. But while being self-sequestered at home had difficulty doing absolutely nothing, so I did something that nourishes both body and soul…I cooked, and also baked bread. Checking my fridge I came up with the ingredients for this dish and it turned out to be just what I needed…perfect comfort food for a winter’s evening. And as usual, this recipe is simply a guide and not a blueprint…it is really just a sort of elaborate variation of the many aglio e olio recipes posted on this blog. Add or remove whichever ingredients you have at hand or suit your taste.

Spaghetti with Mushrooms, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and Kale

Serves 2-4

½ pound whole wheat spaghetti

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, diced

4 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

3 cups kale, coarsely chopped

3 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, julienned

2 cups chicken broth

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Boil the spaghetti al dente, drain, and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or shallow sauce pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and mushrooms and sautes them until they begin to brown, then add the garlic and hot pepper and saute another minute or two. Stir in the kale and sun-dried tomatoes, coating it with the oil and seasonings, then add the broth and salt. Bring the broth to a boil then lower it to a simmer. Simmer the broth for 5-10 minutes, or until it reduces by two-thirds and is concentrated in both flavor and viscosity. Add the cooked spaghetti and simmer it while stirring gently for a minute or two, allowing flavors to permeate the pasta. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheese.

Urban Simplicity.

Bouillon de dinde…

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Nearly every year after the Thanksgiving feast at my sister’s house I lug the turkey carcass home, leave it on my porch overnight (as my fridge isn’t large enough to accommodate it), and make broth with it the next day. The simmering broth makes my house smell delicious and drives my two dogs nuts (but I do put some on their food as a treat). After packaging it in increments I freeze it and use it for a few weeks–or months–thereafter for whatever recipe calls for chicken broth. It’s so easy to make and offers a really delicious flavor. The simple recipe for broth is below, but if you’d like to read an article I wrote for Artvoice sometime ago regarding other Thanksgiving leftovers, click here; and here’s a link to an article on broth itself.

Turkey Broth 

1 cooked turkey carcass, and any scraps, juices, and pan scrapings

1 onion, quartered

1 carrot, cut into thirds

4 ribs celery, cut into thirds

4 cloves garlic, crushed

2 bay leaves

10 whole black peppercorns 

Combine the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed stockpot and cover with enough cold water to cover them by two inches. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a slow simmer. Cook for a few hours, skimming the surface as necessary. Strain and refrigerate until needed.  

Urban Simplicity.

Anatomy of a Pizza

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As is often the case, when I make bread I sometimes take a small piece of dough and make a pizza for lunch or dinner.And is also often the case, I usually put on it whatever I have in the fridge or freezer at the time. For this one there was homemade tomato sauce, pesto, broccoli aglio e olio, and four cheeses on a whole wheat crust. Here it is in photos; recipe links follow.

For the whole wheat dough recipe, click here. For a really simple 20 minute tomato sauce recipe, click here. For the pesto recipe, click here. For the broccoli aglio e olio recipe, click here. And finally, to see a multitude of other pizza recipes–in words and photos–click here.


Urban Simplicity.

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Asparagus Aglio e Olio!

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So this is yet another rendition of cooking vegetables (and usually pasta) aglio e olio, or with garlic and oil (and hot pepper and chicken broth). The recipe below contains broccoli but today I made it with asparagus (’tis the season). Substitute whatever vegetable(s) that you like or have at hand. This recipe is so delicious and so easy to make. And to make it completely vegetarian simply replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth. For other variations on this recipe, click here.

Spaghetti alla Aglio e Olio con Broccoli in Brodo

(Spaghetti with Garlic, Oil, Broccoli, and Chicken Broth)

Makes 4 servings

3/4 pounds spaghetti

1/2 cup virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon crushed hot pepper

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 cups chopped broccoli florets

2 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Cook the spaghetti and drain it. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet with the garlic and hot pepper flakes. When the garlic just starts to change color add the chicken broth and salt. Cook the broth for one minute, until it reduces by half, and then add the broccoli. Toss the broccoli for a few minutes. Add the cooked spaghetti, and stir it until thoroughly coated with the other ingredients. Stir in the cheese just before serving.

Spicy Avocado Hummus with Roast Garlic and Jalapeno (yum!)…

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This is another variation of hummus that I’ve posted in the past. This is, as usual, really easy to make and super delicious. If you like hummus, if you like avocado, and if you like spiciness…try this, you won’t be sorry.

Spicy Avocado Hummus with Roast Garlic and Jalapeno

Makes about 4 cups

3 tablespoons olive oil

3-4 jalapeno, split lengthwise and seeded

6 cloves garlic

2 ripe avocado

2 cans (15 oz. ea.) chickpeas, rinsed

½ cup lemon juice

1 cup tahini

¼ cup water

¾ teaspoon sea salt

Preheat an oven to 350F. Combine the olive oil, garlic, and jalapeno in a small skillet and place over medium heat; toss or stir to coat with the oil. When it begins to sizzle transfer the pan to the oven. Roast the peppers and garlic for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and refrigerate it until the ingredients are chilled. Once chilled, transfer the cooked garlic and jalapeno to the bowl of a food processor along with the remainder of the ingredients. Process the hummus to a smooth puree.

Urban Simplicity.

Macaroni al forno con cavolfiori…

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I posted this recipe about a month ago but made it again for dinner yesterday. It is so easy and delicious I thought I’d re-post it. Now if you’ll excuse me I think I’ll go have some leftovers.

Baked Macaroni with Caramelized Cauliflower and Two Cheeses

Make four small or two large servings

1 cup whole wheat elbow macaroni

4 tablespoons olive oil

½ head cauliflower, sliced

1 small onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon crushed hot pepper

1 cup tomato sauce

2 ounces shredded cheddar cheese

2 ounces grated Parmesan

Preheat an oven to 400F. Boil the macaroni al dente, drain it, and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet, then add the cauliflower and onion. Cook the vegetables for about 5 minutes, or until they begin to brown. Add the garlic and hot pepper; cook a couple minutes longer. Stir in the tomato sauce, bring it to a boil and simmer it for a minute or so, then remove the pan from the heat. Carefully fold in the macaroni and most of the cheese. Sprinkle the remainder of the cheese across the top of the macaroni, then bake it for about 15 or 20 minutes, or until the macaroni is thoroughly heated and the top is brown and crispy.

Naan (yum!)

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This is a very simple recipe for classic Indian naan bread. It can be baked in an oven or on top of the stove. I used the stove-top method for these (as pictured below). This is so easy to make and really delicious.You can cut the recipe in half (or double it if you like), and the breads freeze well also. Used as an accompaniment to a meal, a utensil, or spread with oil, spices, and salt and eaten alone, these breads are addicting.

 

Naan Bread

Makes 8-12 small loaves

1 ¼ cups water

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 ½ tablespoons instant yeast, divided

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup plain yogurt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 ½ teaspoons sea salt

4-5 cups bread flour

Combine the water, yeast, and whole wheat flour in the bowl of an electric mixer, stir just to combine, then allow it to rest and ferment for at least thirty minutes. Add the remaining yeast, the melted butter, yogurt, sugar, and sea salt to the bowl. Fit the mixer with a dough hook and operate on low speed for a minute or so, just to combine the ingredients. Then add 4 cups of bread flour to the bowl and run the mixer on medium speed. If the dough seems too sticky add additional flour. Knead the dough on medium for 6-8 minutes. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover it, and allow it to rise and ferment at room temperature for about an hour. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, divide it, and shape it into small bowls; allow these to rest for just a couple minutes. Roll the loaves out on a floured surface and set aside (do not stack them). The bread can be cooked in the oven or on the stove-top. If cooking in an oven, preheat it to 500F with a heavy un-greased sheet pan inside. If on a stove-top, preheat a large heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) on medium high heat. If baking in the oven, cook a few loaves at a time (as many as your pan will accommodate and make sure the oven is hot). They will cook quickly (a few minutes) and there is no need to turn them. If cooking on the stove-top cook a couple breads at a time (as many as your pan will accommodate without overlapping and make sure the skillet is hot). The breads will cook quickly; turn them once. Repeat the process until all of the breads are cooked; transferring them to a wire rack or clean towel to cool. 

Bean Curd Souvlaki!

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A couple comments on this recipe.the first is that I could go on and on about how much I love the flavors of this simple marinade–which can be used on any meat, poultry, or fish–but I won’t. You’ll have to experience it. The other is that this recipe–just as my recipe of tandoori tofu–is another example of how delicious tofu can be…and simple to prepare as well. Eat this as a snack, on a salad, or in a sandwich. Anyway you try it it is delicious.

Souvlaki-Style Tofu

Makes about 6 servings

1 pound extra-firm tofu

souvlaki marinade (recipe below)

Remove the tofu from its package and drain it. Set the tofu on a plate with 2 or 3 plates on top of it, gently squeezing out some of it’s moisture. Leave the tofu to drain for 10-15 minutes. Slice the tofu about ½ inch thick. Lay the tofu in a pan and pour enough of the marinade over the tofu to cover it, turning it to coat all sides. Marinate the tofu for at least 30minutes. Preheat an oven to 350F. Transfer the tofu to a baking sheet that is fitted with a wire rack, leaving some of the marinade on the tofu. Bake it in the preheated oven for about 20-30 minutes, or until the tofu begins to brown at its edges. For firmer tofu, turn it over and bake another 10 minutes. This is delicious straight from the oven, at room temperature, or chilled as a snack, on a sandwich, or salad. 

Roast Garlic Souvlaki Marinade

Makes about 2 cups

12 cloves garlic

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon sea salt

½ small onion, diced

1 small bunch parsley, washed and course chopped

Combine the garlic and olive oil in a small skillet and place it over a low flame. Heat the oil until the garlic begins to simmer. Cook the garlic very slowly until it is golden brown, then remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool in the oil to room temperature. Once the garlic and oil are cooled, combine them in a food processor with the remaining ingredients and process until smooth.

Urban Simplicity.

Really good bread…four igredients, ok five, but one is optional

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 Okay, so here is something about me you likely do not know…I was once one of these people that thought making homemade bread was difficult. Well, it’s not. And even after I had mastered it and became somewhat obsessed with making it I still thought it was impossible to make a really good loaf using 100% whole wheat flour. Well, surprise (again), it can be and it is really simple. Five ingredients, that’s really all you need, four if you don’t add the extra gluten (but this really does add a nice texture to whole wheat bread). Anyhow, bread is easy. The best place to start is now. Like anything, you get better with practice. That first loaf–or even the first dozen loaves–may not be great, but they will be yours. But soon enough people will be asking for it. Try making your own bread. You won’t regret it.

100% Whole Wheat Bread

Makes 2 loaves

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup water
2 teaspoons instant yeast
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4 cups whole wheat flour

2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
2 cups water
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3 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons kosher salt

In one bowl make a preferment by combining 2 cups of whole wheat flour with 1 cup water and 2 teaspoons of instant yeast. Begin the autolyse in another bowl by combining 4 cups of whole wheat flour, 2 tablespoons of wheat gluten, and 2 cups water. Stir each bowl just enough to combine the ingredients, taking care not to get yeast into the bowl with the autolyse. Cover both bowls and allow to rest and ferment for 30-90 minutes, during which time the preferment will begin it’s job multiplying yeast and fermenting flour, and the autolyse will soak the grain, swelling the gluten.

After an hour or so, combine the ingredients from both bowls into the bowl of an upright mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the salt and remaining 3 teaspoons of yeast (add the yeast and salt on opposite sides of the bowl). Knead the dough on medium speed for about 8 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly oiled container, cover it loosely, and allow to ferment for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in bulk. Deflate the dough and allow it to ferment an additional 30 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and cut it into 2 or 3 pieces. Shape into loaves and place into lightly oiled pans (or shape them pre-form and place them on baking sheets). Loosely cover the loaves with plastic wrap and allow to ferment for 30-60 minutes, or until double in size and when gently touched with a fingertip an indentation remains.

Bake the breads for about 30-40 minutes, adding steam to the oven a few times (either with ice cubes or a spray bottle) and rotating the breads every ten minutes. The breads are done when they are dark brown and sound hollow when tapped upon. Remove the breads from their pans and allow them to cook on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Urban Simplicity.

“Buffalo-Style” Chicken-less Burgers

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So first a couple things. When you are in Buffalo chicken wings are not referred to as “Buffalo Wings,” they are just wings. The first time I heard the term was, I think, in 1985 while at culinary school (of all places). To read an article I wrote on wings and all things “Buffalo Style” click here. Anyhow, these burgers are a play on that recipe in that while there is no actual chicken (I should have used chickpeas) there is Frank’s Hot Sauce, blue cheese. celery, and carrot. And this is really a variation on a theme of meatless burgers I’ve been making for staff lunch at work (for recipes of other versions of this click here, here or here). Anyhow these are really delicious. Eat them as a burger on a bun or between two slices of bread, as an entree as a sort of meatless “steak,” or as I did today and crumble one over a salad. And yes–before you ask–these can be baked rather than pan-fried but they wouldn’t have the same crispiness. And they can be made vegan by omitting the cheese and eggs (and cutting back on the bread crumbs) but the flavor profile would change without the blue cheese. 

Buffalo Style Chicken-less Burgers

Makes about 10 (4 ounce) burgers

2 (15 ounce) cans white beans, rinsed and drained

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 small carrot, diced

½ small onion, diced

2 eggs

2 teaspoons turmeric

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon sea salt

½ cup Frank’s hot sauce

1 cup crumbled blue cheese (about 4 ounces)

2 cups bread crumbs (plus extra for dusting)

1 small bunch Italian parsley, chopped

Olive oil for cooking

Place half of the beans in a food processor and pulse for just a few seconds, until coarse but slightly mashed; transfer these beans to a large bowl. Add the garlic, celery, carrot, and onion to the bowl of the food processor and process for a few seconds, or until finely minced. Then add the remaining beans along with the eggs, turmeric, paprika, sea salt, and hot sauce to the minced vegetables and process until relatively smooth. Transfer this mixture to the bowl containing the initial course-processed beans and mix well. Add the blue cheese, breadcrumbs, and parsley and mix well. Let the mix rest for a couple minutes, then mix it again. Divide the mix into ten balls and shape into burgers, transferring them to platters or a baking sheet that is lightly dusted with breadcrumbs. Heat a large heavy skillet with 1/8th inch olive oil over medium heat. Cook the burgers for about 10 minutes, turning them as necessary, or until golden, crispy, and cooked throughout. Transfer to absorbent paper before serving.

 

Urban Simplicity

Asparagus and Roquefort Soup (Mhm, that’s right)

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This is so easy to make and so delicious that I hope you try it. And asparagus is just coming into seasons. And before you ask, or at least wonder to yourself, here’s how you can alter it to a diet specific recipe…Yes you can use milk instead of cream but it will not be as rich; simply add it at the end. If you are lactose intolerant leave out the dairy completely (use oil instead of butter in the beginning) or use soy milk. To make it vegetarian, replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth. To make it vegan, do the same but omit the dairy or replace it with soy milk. If you have a gluten allergy omit the flour and thicken the soup with cornstarch at the end of simmering.

Cream of Asparagus and Roquefort Soup

Makes about 4 cups

1 pound asparagus

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 small onion, peeled and diced

3 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup crumbled Roquefort Cheese

Trim the asparagus of their fibrous ends and slice the remaining portion into 1/2 inch lengths; reserve the asparagus tips separately to use as a garnish in the soup. Heat the butter in a heavy soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and sauté until translucent. Stir in the flour, lower the heat, and cook the flour for 5 minutes while stirring constantly. Add the sliced asparagus (not the tips), salt, thyme and pepper; sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in the chicken stock and return to high heat. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook the soup for 10 minutes, skimming as necessary. Stir in the cream and bring to a boil. Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and purée until smooth. Return the soup to the pot. Add the reserved asparagus tips and bring it to a simmer and stir in the Roquefort cheese. Serve while hot.

Urban Simplicity.

Baked Macaroni with Caramelized Cauliflower and Two Cheeses (yum!)

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Okay. So this is really delicious. How delicious is it, you may ask? Well if you notice in the servings I wrote that it makes either four small or two large portions. When I first put it in the oven I looked at it and thought it would easily serve four, but when it came out it was so delicious I ate half of it.

Anyhow, as usual this is just a guide…use different ingredients or interchange them. I just happened to have some cauliflower in my cooler I needed to use up. You can also multiply this recipe, or make extra because leftovers are equally good.

Baked Macaroni with Caramelized Cauliflower and Two Cheeses

Make four small or two large servings

1 cup whole wheat elbow macaroni

4 tablespoons olive oil

½ head cauliflower, sliced

1 small onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon crushed hot pepper

1 tomato sauce

2 ounces shredded cheddar cheese

2 ounces grated Parmesan


Preheat an oven to 400F. Boil the macaroni al dente, drain it, and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet, then add the cauliflower and onion. Cook the vegetables for about 5 minutes, or until they begin to brown. Add the garlic and hot pepper; cook a couple minutes longer. Stir in the tomato sauce, bring it to a boil and simmer it for a minute or so, then remove the pan from the heat. Carefully fold in the macaroni and most of the cheese. Sprinkle the remainder of the cheese across the top of the macaroni, then bake it for about 15 or 20 minutes, or until the macaroni is thoroughly heated and the top is brown and crispy.

Lebanese Flavored Brown Rice with Chickpeas and Vermicelli

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This is a recipe that is not unlike moudardara, I suppose, and it is a good example of how a recipe is basically a thought or an idea and not necessarily a blueprint or carved in stone. Anyhow, this is really delicious and easy to make, and it’s also a one-pot recipe so cleanup is easy. This can be eaten as a side dish or a main. It’s also delicious with a fried egg on it. To make it vegetarian simply replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth.

Lebanese Flavored Brown Rice with Chickpeas and Vermicelli

Makes about 4 servings

3 tablespoons cup olive oil

1 small onion, diced

2 ounces vermicelli, broken into 1-inch pieces

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon allspice

¾ cup brown rice

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups hot chicken broth

1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Heat the oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat and add the onions. Cook the onions—while stirring—for about 10 minutes, or until they begin to brown. Add the vermicelli to the onions and continue to cook until the pasta begins to change color as well. Add the garlic and cook it for a minute or so, then stir in the turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, and allspice; cook for a few seconds, then stir in the rice, salt, and broth. Bring the liquid to a boil then lower it to a simmer. Stir the rice once, then cover the pot. Simmer the rice for about 30 minutes then add the chickpeas without stirring. Re-cover the pot and cook the rice another 5 minutes minutes. Check the rice, if it is still hard and needs additional liquid and another ½ cup broth or water. Cook the rice 5 more minutes, then remove the pot from the heat and allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Just before serving, gently stir in the chickpeas and fluff the rice.

Urban Simplicity.

Basmati Rice with Saffron…

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Here is another very easy but delicious rice dish. And again–as I say with most my recipes–this is a guide and not carved in stone…interchange ingredients as you like them; it is the method that is important. Speaking of variations, the difference between the recipe pictured and the one typed below is that below there are raisins in the recipe whereas the one pictured has carrots. Both are equally delicious, but just variations. The recipe typed below was featured in this cookbook somewhat recently. It’s a good book featuring local Buffalo chefs, I just wish they would have used a different photo of me (no kidding). Anyhow, this is a very easy recipe and really delicious.

Basmati Pilaf with Almonds and Raisins

Makes about 6 cups

 

2 tablespoons clarified butter

1/2 cup diced onion

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon saffron threads

1 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 cups Basmati rice or other long grain rice

3 1/2  cups hot chicken broth

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup toasted almonds

Heat the butter in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add the onion and garlic; sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the saffron, salt, and pepper; sauté another minute. Stir in the rice and broth. Cover the pot and for 15 minutes. Remove the rice from the stove and allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Stir in the raisins and toast­ed almonds.

 

Urban Simplicity.

Rice with Fish and Other Good Things…

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Okay. So this is good. Really good. Delicious, if I do say so. It’s also relatively easy to make. And of course this recipe–like most that I post here–is not carved in stone. It’s intended to be more of a guide. Interchange, add, or delete ingredients or seasonings that you like, don’t like, or happen to have on hand. It’s more of an idea of how to make a really delicious one-pot meal. Anyhow, if you like fish, try this. You wont be sorry. Did I mention it was delicious?

 

 

Tilapia and Brown Rice with Asparagus, Black Beans, Hot Pepper, Lemon, and Saffron

 

Serves 4

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, diced

1 small carrot, diced

2 ribs celery, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon crushed hot pepper

1 pinch saffron threads

1 cup brown rice

2 ½ cups simmering chicken broth

½ cup lemon juice

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 (15oz can) black beans, drained and rinsed

1 ½ pounds tilapia, diced

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat, then add the onion, carrot, and celery. Cook the vegetables for a couple minutes while stirring, then add the garlic and cook another minute or so. Stir in the hot pepper and saffron, cook for a minute, then add the rice. Stir the rice to coat it with the oil and seasonings, then stir in the simmering broth, lemon juice, and sea salt. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid, and simmer the rice untouched for about 30 minutes. After thirty minutes check the rice. It should be nearly done. If it is not add additional broth. Then layer the beans, tilapia, and asparagus on top of the rice without stirring and re-cover the pot. Cook the rice for another ten minutes and remove from the heat. Allow the pot to sit for five minutes. Gently fold the beans, asparagus, and fish into the rice just before serving.

Urban Simplicity.

Sometimes this is all I want for dinner…

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Rice-and-beans. Yup, one of my favorite meals. And like pasta (which is my other favorite) the variations are seemingly endless. I had been away for the past few days and had eaten in restaurants the entire time. So today–after an 8 hour train ride that stretched into 11 hrs–I was famished when I came home and all I wanted was comfort food. So this is what I made. I ate a big plate of it with an apple on the side (yum). The only difference between this and the basic recipe below is that in the recipe pictured I also added green bell pepper and a couple tablespoons of curry powder.

Brown Rice-and-Beans

 

Serves four

 

 

3 tablespoons olive oil

 

1 small onion, diced

 

2 cloves garlic, minced

 

1 cup brown rice

 

2 ½ cups broth

 

½ teaspoon salt

 

1 (15 oz.) can beans, rinsed

 

 

Heat the oil in a small sauce pot. Add the onion and sauté for a few minutes, then add the garlic and cook it for another minute or two. Stir in the rice, then the broth and salt. Bring to a boil then lower to a slow simmer. Cover the pot and simmer simmer the rice for about 30 minutes. Add the beans (just lay them on top of the rice; do not stir at this point). If it looks as if too much liquid has evaporated add more. Cover the pot and simmer for another 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat—leaving it covered—and allow it to rest for another 5 minutes or so. Remove the lid and gently fold in the beans.

Seven is the lucky number…

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This is one of my favorite loaves of bread and it is so easy to make. The beauty of it is that it only has seven ingredients, and–unlike most supermarket breads–all of the ingredients are easily recognizable and understandable. If you want to get real bare-bones you can pare this recipe down to just four ingredients (click here for that recipe) but with the addition of honey, olive oil, and gluten the yield is much more to my–and likely your–liking. Anyhow, the easy and delicious recipe is below.

100% Whole Wheat Bread

Makes 2 loaves

 

6 cups whole wheat flour, divided

 

2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten

 

3 cups water, divided

 

4 teaspoons instant yeast, divided

 

2 teaspoons kosher salt

 

1/4 cup olive oil

 

1/4 cup honey

 

 

Separate the ingredients in two bowls using this ratio: In one bowl combine 4 cups of flour, the vital wheat gluten, and 2 cups of water. Stir it just until combined; cover with plastic wrap and set aside. In a second bowl, combine the remaining 2 cups flour and 1 cup water and 2 teaspoons of yeast. Stir it just until combined; cover with plastic wrap and set aside. Allow the bowls to rest for at least an hour. After the ingredients have rested and have begun to ferment, combine the contents of both bowls to an upright mixer that is fitted with a dough hook. Also add the remaining ingredients: the salt, olive oil, honey, and remaining two teaspoons yeast. Knead the dough on medium speed for about 8 minutes, then cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for one hour. Transfer the dough to a work surface, cut it into two pieces, gently shape it into loaves, and place them either on a baking sheet or in loaf pans. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 45 minutes. Preheat an oven to 425F/218C. If making free-form loaves, slash them with a razor just before they go into the oven. Bake the bread for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on. As the bread bakes rotate the loaves in the oven once or twice to ensure even baking. Remove the bread from their pans and allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

 

Urban Simplicity.

A well educated beet…

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This is a really simple recipe that is really bursting with flavor…it’s basically a sweet-and-sour vegetable recipe. The beets, after being peeled and sliced or diced, are cooked in a water-vinegar-sugar solution, and then the liquid is thickened with cornstarch. There’s a couple interesting theories on the name of this recipe. One is that it was a common New England recipe and that the deep crimson color of the dish resembled the color of the jerseys of the Harvard football teem.Another is that it is a dish that was served by a Russian immigrant in his tavern outside Boston during the mid-1800’s. The name of his tavern was Harwood’s, and this recipe was so popular that they became known as Harwood’s beets, but with his thick accent they may have come across as sounding like Harvard Beets. Whatever the story, they are easy to prepare, nutritious, and delicious. The basic recipe is below.

Harvard Beets

Peel as many beets as you’d like to prepare, then slice or dice them. Place the beets in a pot with just enough cold water to cover them. Bring the liquid to a boil then lower it to a simmer. Add a small amount of sugar and vinegar to the pot along with a pinch of salt. Taste the liquid and adjust the sweet/sour flavor to your liking. Simmer the beets for 15 minutes or so, or until they are soft. In a small bowl, dilute a small amount of cornstarch in cold water, then stir it into the simmering beets. The liquid should thicken shortly after the starch has been added. If too thin, ad additional starch; if too thick, dilute with more water/vinegar. Simmer the beets another couple of minutes and taste/adjust seasoning as necessary.

Rice-and-Beans…but bread

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Yup, it’s true…rice-and-beans, but made into bread. I, as you likely know, eat a lot of bread. So I often try different combinations to make a healthier bread. Some say that rice-and-beans are a perfect food. Well, I’m not so sure about that, but they are really good. Anyhow, this recipe is not unlike my Ezekiel Bread recipe in that the beans and rice are first boiled and they–along with the cooking liquid–are used to make the bread. And of course this recipe is made using 100% whole wheat flour. Anyhow, this is really delicious and not entirely difficult. I hope you give it–or some of my other bread recipes–a try, you won’t be sorry.

Whole Wheat Brown Rice and White Bean Bread

Makes 3 loaves

12 cups water

½ cup white beans

½ cup brown rice

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cooked beans and rice

¾ cup cooking water

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon instant yeast

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4 cups whole wheat flour

2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten

2 cups cooking liquid

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1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 tablespoon instant yeast

Boil the beans for about 1 hour or until nearly soft, then add the rice and simmer for another 45 minutes, or until the rice and beans are fully cooked and soft. And as the rice and beans cook add more water to the pot as necessary because the cooking liquid, which is full of nutrients, will become part of the recipe (keeping a lid on the pot will slow it’s evaporation). After the rice and beans are cooked allow them to cool in the liquid to room temperature, refrigerating if necessary. Once cooled, drain them, squeezing them with your hands or the back of a spoon, reserving the cooking liquid.

Place two bowls side-by-side; one will hold the pre-ferment, the other autolyse. In one bowl combine the cooked and drained rice and beans with ¾ cup of the cooking liquid, 2 cups whole wheat flour, and 1 tablespoon instant yeast. Stir it just until combined then cover it with plastic wrap. In the other bowl combine 4 cups whole wheat flour, 2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten, and 2 cups cooking liquid; stir it just until combined then cover it with plastic wrap (take care not to get yeast into this bowl). Allow the bowls to rest at room temperature for about an hour, during which time the preferment will begin it’s job multiplying yeast and fermenting flour, and the autolyse will soak liquid, swelling the gluten.

After an hour or so, combine the ingredients from both bowls into the bowl of an upright mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the honey, olive oil, salt, and remaining tablespoon of yeast (add the yeast and salt on opposite sides of the bowl. Knead the dough on medium speed for about 8 minutes (if the dough is too soft, add an additional cup or two of flour as it kneads). Place the dough in a lightly oiled container, cover it loosely, and allow to ferment for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in bulk. Deflate the dough and allow it to ferment an additional 30 minutes.

Preheat an oven to 425F. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and cut it into 3 pieces. Shape into loaves and place into lightly oiled pans. Loosely cover the loaves with plastic wrap and allow to ferment for 30-60 minutes, or until double in size and when gently touched with a fingertip an indentation remains.

Bake the breads for about 30-40 minutes, adding steam to the oven a few times (either with ice cubes or a spray bottle) and rotating the breads every ten minutes. The breads are done when they are dark brown and sound hollow when tapped upon. Remove the breads from their pans and allow them to cook on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Taboulé d’hiver

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Okay, so yup…this is as refreshingly delicious as it looks. Sometimes I need the brightness of summer in the middle of winter. Anyhow, this is a variation of traditional tabbouleh recipe but with more heartier ingredients…mainly lentils and turmeric-poached potato; tomatoes were omitted because of the season and I opted for canned roast peppers for the same reason. Anyhow, this is really easy to make and super delicious and healthy (and if you close your eyes while eating you might just remember summer).

Taboulé d’hiver

(Winter Tabbouleh)

Makes about 3 quarts

1 cup lentils (about 8 ounces)

1/2 cup bulgur wheat

2 potatoes, peeled and diced

1 teaspoon turmeric

4 bunches flat-leaf parsley, washed and chopped

2 bunches mint, washed and chopped

1 can (28 oz) roasted red peppers, rinsed and diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 small red onion, diced

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 lemon juice

Cook the lentils in boiling water, drain them, and set aside to cool. Soak the bulgur in warm water for for about 30 minutes to soften it, then squeeze it dry and set aside. Cook the potatoes in boiling water with the teaspoon of turmeric, then drain them and set aside to cool. Once the previously mentioned ingredients are cooked, drained, and cooled, combine them—along with the remaining ingredients—in a large bowl. Using two spoons gently toss the ingredients to combine.

Urban Simplicity.

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