April 18, 2014

I've got the rainy day stews...

What else do you do on rainy days than come back to your long-lost blog? I've exhausted every other to-do list, and so I'm here.

And, in light of how unseasonably cold it has been, I made a couple of stews (and cornbread, of course!). So, with tummy full and nothing else to do, I'm jotting down what I came up with today:

Stew #1: Pork Curry Stew

You'll need:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 yellow onions, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
1/2 Tablespoon curry powder
1/2 Tablespoon ground bitter pepper
1/2 Tablespoon ground sweet red pepper
8 oz. (250 g) pork, cut into 1/2-in. (1.5-cm) cubes
32 oz. (1 L) water* + chicken bouillon cubes**
3 med. potatoes, cut into 1/2-in. (1.5-cm) cubes
salt + pepper to taste

FRY: Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add chopped onions and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic, stir, and fry for another minute. Add crushed red pepper, curry powder, ground bitter pepper, and ground sweet red pepper, and stir until onion and garlic are covered in spices. Fry and stir for 3-4 minutes, scraping the drippings off the bottom of the pot. Add the pork cubes, stir to combine, and fry until they are cooked through.

STEW: Add the water, bouillon cubes, potatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Simmer on low, covered for at least 30 minutes. The longer it sits, the better it gets!

SERVE: Ladle and serve. This goes perfectly with cornbread muffins.

YIELD: 4-5 servings

Stew #2: Beef + Red Wine Stew

You'll need:
4 Tablespoons butter
2 yellow onions, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
salt + pepper to taste
8 oz. (250 g) beef steak, cut into 1/2-in. (1.5-cm) cubes
2 cups red wine
2 medium carrots, quartered and chopped
10 oz. can sliced mushrooms + liquid
1 medium potato, cut into 1/2-in. (1.5-cm) cubes
16 oz. (500 ml) water* + bouillon cubes**
1/4 teaspoon thyme

FRY: Heat butter in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add onions and fry for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, salt + pepper, stir, and fry for another minute. Add beef and fry until cooked through, stirring and scraping the drippings off the pot periodically.

STEW: Add the red wine, carrots, mushrooms + liquid, potato, water + bouillon, and thyme. Stir well. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for at least an hour, covered.

SERVE: Ladle and serve.  This ALSO goes great with cornbread.

YIELD: 5-6 servings

*you can use leftover broth, whey, etc.
**my bouillon cubes are for 16 oz. (500 ml) of water

We had both of these today - had to keep warm somehow!  Hope you enjoy them just as much as we did.

Ciao for now!

Classic Cornbread Muffins

I discovered this recipe in my More-with-less cookbook a few years ago and found out that it can easily also be gluten-free! We tried gluten-free for a while and this was a major go-to. Now, we still use it because it's just so darn tasty.

You'll need:
1 cup white flour (or any gluten-free flour)
1 cup cornmeal
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (this is for gluten-free recipe only)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk

PREP: Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease a 12-muffin tin (or 2 6-muffin tins) and set aside.

DRY: Combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, sugar, and xanthan gum (if necessary) in a medium mixing bowl. Create a well and set aside.

WET: In a small mixing bowl, combine he oil, eggs, and milk. Stir well.

COMBINE: Pour the wet ingredients in the dry ingredient well, and stir to combine. Pour evenly into the greased muffin tin(s). Bake for 20-25 minutes (gluten-free version usually only needs 20 minutes) or until lightly golden brown on top.

YIELD: 12 muffins

These are tasty with butter, honey, peanut butter, or just by themselves.


March 6, 2012

Chocolate Chunk Muffins

I have a confession to make.  This recipe was created because of a mistake.  I accidentally doubled the amount of butter.  Yes, doubled.  There were other aspects of this recipe that I intended to change (I hadn't been to the grocery store in a while, I was craving chocolate, and, so, I had to improvise).  But, I definitely did not mean to double the amount of butter.

Needless to say, that did not hurt this recipe.  They turned out pretty amazingly, I have to say.  You definitely should not take my word for it, though!
These will satiate any chocolate cravings you might be having today... or any day!

You'll need:
1 1/2 cups (300 g) flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup (35 g) cocoa powder
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
1 cup (200 g) chocolate chips
1/3 cup (50 g) chopped nuts (optional)
1 egg
1/2 cup (125 g) butter, melted
1 1/4 cup (300 ml) milk

PREP: Preheat oven to 390 F (200 C).  Grease muffin tin or prepare paper liners.  If your nuts are not pre-chopped, go ahead and chop them.

DRY INGREDIENTS: In a medium bowl, place flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, and sugar.
Whisk lightly until uniform.  Add chocolate chips and nuts.

LIQUID INGREDIENTS: In a large bowl, beat the egg.  Whisk in butter and milk.

COMBINE: Gradually stir dry mixture into the liquid mixture until integrated.

BAKE: Place 1/3 cup of batter into each muffin tin.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out dry.

YIELD: 12 muffins

I love muffins, in general, because they're super easy to give away.  That's a big help when you love baking and you don't want to have to eat the whole batch :)

So, if you were to drop by our place today, you'd get a warm cup of tea and a chocolate chunk muffin!

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

February 29, 2012

Winter Squash Risotto

We have a guest here, at A Pinch of Fabric!  My Aunt has graciously disclosed one of her favorite winter recipes.  And, people, she's collected recipes her whole life.

And, this one is perfect because I am awful with side dishes.  I simply forget about them!  Anyway, I'm starting a collection with this one: Winter Squash Risotto.  My mouth is watering already.

You'll need:
4 Tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped 
1 1/2 cups (680 g) butternut or orange squash, peeled & diced
5 cups (1.2 L) chicken stock
1 1/2 cups (225 g) medium grain rice
1/2 cup (120 ml) dry white wine
1/4 cup (25 g) Parmesan cheese, grated
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, minced

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and saute until soft and light brown, about 10 minutes.  Add the squash and 1/2 cup of the chicken stock.  Cover pan and cook until squash is tender, about 10 minutes.  Mix in rice.  Add wine and cook until absorbed, stirring occassionally.  Add 4 cups of the chicken stock and simmer uncovered until completely absorbed, stirring occasionally, about 30 min.  Add the final 1/2 cup stock and stir until rice is tender and mixture is creamy, adding more stock if too thick.  Mix in remaining 1 Tablespoon of butter and the 1/4 cup of Parmesan.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in parsley and serve.   Bon Appetit Magazine 10/1992.

Fine Cooking adds bacon and sage.  And, if there are leftovers, you can make great risotto cakes.  Just press cold risotto into a pancake shape (any size), fry in butter or oil in a hot skillet.  And, Cooks Illustrated has you dip the cakes in egg, then in fresh or dry breadcrumbs before frying.  Mmm!

I can't wait to try this recipe.  Also, I can't wait to visit my Aunt again!

Happy Wednesday, folks!

February 24, 2012

Fresh Salsa

Coming from two very Mexican-food-permeated regions in the US, salsa has always taken up a large section of our refrigerator.  And, in Bulgaria, it's no different.  However, I didn't want to pay an arm and a leg for the store-bought kind (I'm still amazed that Bulgaria has it!).  So, as soon as we got settled in Plovdiv this past summer, I went searching.

That's when my Peace Corps buddy gave me the best, simplest salsa recipe.  It's chunky.  It's fresh.  It's so flavorful, you won't even need chips!  Just a spoon.

You'll need:
2 med. tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
2 jalapeno peppers, diced (optional)
2 large green bell peppers, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 sprig of cilantro, finely chopped
1 lemon
1 teaspoon salt

Basically, throw all the veggies in a large bowl, sprinkle the salt over it, squeeze the lemon over that, and mix well!  My picture doesn't have cilantro included, as I still have to work on getting my herb garden going.  My mother-in-law brought us seeds when they came for Christmas, and I can't wait!

Anyway, this particular recipe makes one Gladware Deep Dish full of salsa (I'll have to measure it next time I make it!).  You can easily halve it.  I use a lot of it for preparing Mexican dishes, so this amount is perfect for us!  Be sure to store in the fridge.  It keeps for about a week.

Ok, my mouth is watering and it's too late to do anything about it.  I better stop writing!

You guys have a great weekend!

February 23, 2012

Banana Walnut Muffins

One of my best buddies coming to visit + pile of really ripe bananas = excuse to bake muffins!

Not just any muffins.  The best banana walnut muffins you've ever had.  And, you'vs gotta have something to serve your guests that'll make 'em want to come back, right?

I found this recipe on allrecipes.com a while ago and have been in love ever since.  This time, however, I added walnuts, since I've been given an abundance of them by a colleague.  I love Bulgaria.

You'll need:
1 1/2 cups (190 g) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-3 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup (75 g) butter, melted
1/4 cup (28 g) walnuts, chopped

PREP:  Pre-heat oven to 350 F (175 C).  Grease muffin tin(s).  Mash the bananas lightly inside the peel.

MIX:  Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, and set aside.  Mix bananas, sugar, egg, and butter in a large bowl.  Fold in flour mixture just until smooth.  Then, fold in walnuts.

SCOOP:  Scoop 1/8 cup of batter into each muffin tin.

BAKE:  Bake for 10-15 minutes.  Stick a toothpick in the center, spin, and if it comes out clean, they are done!

YIELD: 18-20 muffins

Sorry not so many pictures this time.  I'm eager to spend some time outside.  The sun is shining today!

Oh, and I'm a huge muffin fan.  If any of you have muffin recipes to pass on, please do!

Happy Thursday!

February 22, 2012

Sweet Basil Tomato Quiche

Today starts a 4-day weekend for me.  So excited. I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do, and I'm trying not to get too over-eager with my to-do list. But, I hope to post something my sewing machine and I have been up to, lately.

Meanwhile, we still gotta eat, right?  So, here's what we're having for dinner tonight.  It's one of my favorite recipes from More-with-less, a gift from my wonderful mother-in-law!  And, as usual, it's modified, Euro-style!

I call it "Sweet Basil Tomato Quiche."  And, I make it crust-less.  It's so flavorful, you won't even miss it.

You'll need:
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (55 g) yellow cheese, shredded
1/2 cup (55 g) goat cheese, crumbled
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tablespoons flour
3/4 cup (175 ml) milk
1/4 cup (60 ml) plain yogurt

PREP: Pre-heat oven to 375 F (190 C).  Dice your tomatoes and onion, and toss them into your pie plate (or round casserole dish). Shred your yellow cheese, crumble your goat cheese, and beat your eggs (in a medium bowl).

SPRINKLE: Sprinkle the basil, sugar, salt, and cheeses over the tomatoes and onions. Toss with a fork to mix together.

DAIRY: In the medium bowl with the beaten eggs, add the flour, milk, and yogurt.  Whisk together and pour over tomato mixture.  Shake the dish a little bit to spread the egg mixture out.

BAKE: Bake for 40-45 minutes or until egg is set. Let cool for 10 minutes and serve!

YIELD: 4 servings

This is another really healthy, filling meal.  It's approximately 227 calories per serving and vegetarian.

This would go swimmingly with garlic bread and a garden salad.

Dig in!