Monday, December 3, 2012

Veggie Croquettes



Last night we ate some delicious croquettes, if I may say so myself.  I must confess that they were not your conventional croquettes, neither in shape nor in flavor. That is the beauty of cooking, you can transform a traditional dish and it will be OK.  

If you find yourself with a package of vegetables and have no idea what to do with it, this post might be your answer.  Would you let me know?

The croquettes' shape was my husband request and the flavor, well that's just me.

Ingredients:

Vegetable mixture
  • 1 (16 oz) package of Vegetables, California blend 
  • 1 Tbsp of ground cumin
  • 1Tbsp of Allspice
  • 1Tsp ground ginger
  • 1Tsp of homemade Tahini sauce
  • Pinch of Kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • Bechamel
  • 1 cup Cuban cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs 
  • 2 eggs
  • Canola oil for frying

Directions:


Bechamel and vegetable mixture
  1. Boil vegetables in a saucepan until tender.  Drain and let them cool a little bit. 
  2. Meanwhile make the bechamel -see below-.  
  3. Once cooled, process vegetables in the food processor and add the cumin, allspice, ginger, tahini sauce salt and pepper.  
  4. Mix the vegetables with the bechamel and let it cool in the refrigerator until you are ready to put them together. 

Before frying


5. Take a spoon of the mixture and roll in your hands to make a shape of your liking.  Roll  it in remaining Cuban cracker crumbs, then in the eggs, and then in the breadcrumbs and set aside.  Repeat with the remaining mixture.  

6. Pour enough oil in a medium to large frying pan. Heat the oil for frying to about 355F  degrees. Place the croquettes in the hot oil and fry quickly, turning several times, until golden. Remove the croquettes with a slotted spoon and set on a paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Serve immediately.
Bechamel 

Bechamel

Ingredients: 

  • 3 Tbsp of unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbsp of unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup of soy milk
  • pinch of fresh nutmeg
  • pinch of Kosher salt

Directions:
  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, stir in the flour until smooth.  Continue stirring until approximately 7 minutes or until it looks golden. 
  2. Increase to a medium heat and stir in the milk with a wooden spoon until thickened.  Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium low and continue simmering until the flour has softened and is no longer lumpy and easily separates from the pan, this will be 10 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and nutmeg.   
The bechamel is a very versatile sauce. Put heavy cream and cheese and the result will be  a very delicious cheese sauce.  As I always tell you, be creative.

Now, the Star of this recipe: 

Veggie Croquettes



            






We ate them as tapas, with cheese, olives and wine.  But you can serve them however you like.  Please do try this recipe and let me know your experience with it. Remember to be creative.

Buon Appetito!














Sunday, December 2, 2012

Cream of Carrot and Fennel

The weather these past few days demanded, at least at home, something hearty and warm.  Nothing better than a cream or a soup to warm you up.  

My family enjoyed this dish, I am certain you will too. 

  • 4 large carrots, peeled and chopped 
  • 1 medium Fennel bulb, thinly sliced 
  • 1 Tbsp of butter
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth 
  • 1 cup of Heavy cream 
  • 1/2 cup of orange juice
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste    
  • Basil leaves to garnish. 
Directions:
  1. Heat the butter in a heavy-bottom pan, add fennel.  Stir for 3-4 minutes, then add garlic, stirring again for another 2 minutes.  Add carrots.  Cook for 2-3 minutes 
  2. Add the vegetable broth to the vegetables and stir.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Let it cook for about 15-20 minutes, until the carrots are cooked. 
  3. Remove from heat, puree it in a blender.   
  4. Return it to the pan.  Add orange juice and heavy cream.  Remove from heat after 2-3 minutes.    
  5. Garnish with basil leaves. Serve hot                                                                                             
Please let me know your experience with this delicious dish!

Buon Appetito!


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Linguine alla puttanesca

The meaning of comfort food derived from this dish, at least I like to think so. You will find it to be briny, spicy and savory; it is so delicious that if you haven't made it yet I urge you to do it.   You will probably have all you need right in your pantry.

Linguine alla Puttanesca


Ingredients: 

  • 1 12oz can of Italian style diced tomatoes
  • 3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 garlic gloves, chopped
  • 10 anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
  • 3/4 cup black olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp capers, rinsed
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 box of whole wheat Linguine
  • Kosher salt to taste
Directions:
  1. Heat oil in a heavy-bottom pan, add the garlic and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes.  Add the anchovies and mash them to a pulp with a wooden fork. Add the olives, capers, and the tomatoes and season with cayenne pepper.  Cover and simmer for 25 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a pan of lightly salted water to a boil,  Add the pasta, return to a boil and cook according to the box directions or until "al dente".  Drain and transfer to a warmed serving dish.
  3. Spoon the Puttanesca Sauce into the dish and toss the pasta.
Oh my! This was a very delicious and quick meal!

Buon Appetito








Sunday, November 25, 2012

Veggie Pizza Pie

I did not feel like cooking last night.  I decided to make my family something quick, a Pizza.  You are probably smiling now, there is no such a thing as a quick pizza, well you would be wrong.  Please, refer to my Fresh Pizza Dough post, only that this time I used unbleached bread flour.  Things we learn in the process. 

Like I said, I did not feel like cooking, so I went to my freezer to see what was there for my pizza and I found a package of frozen mushrooms and a package frozen of mixed vegetables. 

Ingredients:
Ready for the oven
  • 1 cup of mushrooms
  • 1 cup of mixed vegetables
  • 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon of Sicilian Seasoning
  • 1/2 cup of crushed tomatoes, Italian style -you can buy it at the store-
  • Mozzarella Cheese
  • Parmesan Cheese




Directions: 
Yummy Veggie Pizza Pie





   
  1. Preheat the over 400 F. -the hotter the oven the better- 
  2. Work on your dough to get it any shape you would like, it does not have to be perfect.  
  3. Mix Olive oil with the Sicilian Seasoning and brush it on your dough. 
  4. Spoon on the crushed tomatoes, sprinkle the Parmesan cheese, the veggies.
  5. Place the dough and bake for 20 minutes*. Towards the end sprinkle the mozzarella cheese.
*baking time varies from oven to oven.




This did not take me long.  If you choose to make my pizza dough recipe, you will have two extra pizza pies for a later day.  Your family will thank you.

Buon Appetito!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Fudge Espresso Brownies


Who does not like chocolate? I know at home we are crazy about it! Brownies is a dessert that I discovered when I came to this country and I tell you, what a treat! 

I found this recipe in one of the cooking magazines I have, but, like with almost everything I do, I changed it a little bit.  
Ingredients:
Fudge Espresso mix
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 2.5oz unsweetened chocolate 
  • 1 tablespoon instant-espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I used Splenda)*
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • a few drops of a secret ingredient                                                                                                                            
Directions:
Ready for the oven
Fudge Espresso Brownies   

              
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Grease 13- by 9-inch baking pan. 
  2. Melt butter and chocolate with espresso powder in a heavy saucepan over low heat, whisking until smooth. Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm. Whisk in sugar and vanilla and secret ingredient. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time until mixture is glossy and smooth.
  3. Whisk together flour, cinnamon, and salt, then whisk into chocolate mixture. Spread batter in pan and bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with crumbs adhering, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool completely before cutting.

* If you are using regular sugar use 1 cup














Please enjoy this delicious dessert.  You won't regret it.  There is no wrong way of doing it so be creative, improvise.

Buon Appetito


Monday, November 12, 2012

Vegetable juice and Oatmeal: A healthy breakfast!

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, no doubt.  How do you like the first meal of your day to be?  The answer varies from culture to culture.  However,  it is important to treat our bodies to healthy and hearty meals.  Remember, our body is our temple and through good food we can protect it.

I will give you today a very healthy breakfast, one for champions.

Vegetable juice


Ingredients:
La bomba
  • 1 Small beet
  • 1/4 Cabbage
  • Bunch of watercress
  • Half a pear
  • 1 pealed lime 

Directions:

Turn on your juicer and wait a couple of minutes so the blades can adjust.  Rinse your vegetables, then simply put them one by one through your juicer's mouth and voilà.



**I highly recommend that you invest in a juicer, in case you do not have one, there are good ones in the market today.  The reason for this recommendation is because when you juice your fruits and vegetables you are drinking pure vitamins, phytonutrients, which are necessary for sustaining human life. 

Oatmeal or how I like to call it "A bowl of goodness"

Ingredients:
A bowl of goodness
  • 1/2 cup of whole grain oats -old fashioned-              
  • 1 cup of soy milk
  • 2 tsps of brown sugar-I use splenda-      
  • a pinch of salt- optional-
 Directions:
  • In a saucepan boil the soy milk with the salt and brown sugar
  • Stir in the whole grain oats
  • Cook about 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally 
  • Sprinkle cinnamon.

I hope you enjoy this breakfast for champions.  It was what my body was asking for today!

Buon appetito!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Our Anniversary Dinner

Last Friday, August 10th, was our anniversary.   We celebrated with love and of course with food.

You know by now that, at my house, we love Italian food.  In no time we were eating a delicious Pasta dish (I chose a recipe from an old Italian cookbook I have); Caprese salad and for dessert, Affogato.

I think you are going to enjoy this dinner.  We did.

Pasta with Shrimp and Goat Cheese and Insalata Caprese
This dish is unbelievably fresh and light and delicious at the same time. The richness of the fresh shrimp with the tartness of the goat cheese will leave a feast in your palate!

Ingredients:
      For the pasta

The ingredients
  • 1 lb medium raw shrimps
  • 6 scallions
  • 1/4 red pepper
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 8 ounces goat cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a bunch of fresh chives
  • 1 lb whole wheat penne Rigatte - you can use any pasta of your liking- 
      For the salad
  • 4 ounces fresh mozarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup of fresh basil
  • 1 vine-ripened tomato
  • Extra virgin olive oil
Directions:

Pasta with Shrimp and Goat Cheese
 Pasta
  1. Peel the shrimp and discard the shell.  Chop the scallions and pepper.
  2. Melt the butter in a skillet and stir in the shrimp.  When they turn pink, add the scallions and pepper and cook gently for a minute. 
  3. Cut the goat cheese into 1/2 inch cubes.
  4. Stir goat cheese into the shrimp mixture and season with black pepper.
  5. Cut the chives into 1 inch lengths and stir half into the shrimp. 
  6. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Drain well,  pile into a warmed serving dish, and top with the remaining chives and serve.     
Insalata Caprese

Insalata Caprese  
                   





  1. On a serving platter, alternate the fresh mozzarella with the tomato.
  2. Tear fresh basil leaves and sprinkle liberally over the slices.
  3. Drizzle the extra virgin olive oil. 

Now the dessert:  Affogato - which means drowned (ice cream drowning in coffee)
This is an Italian classic, the beauty of this recipe lies in its simplicity, which makes it important to use only the best quality ingredients. 

Ingredients:
    
    Vanilla ice cream and espresso
  •  Vanilla ice cream and 
  •   Freshly brewed espresso
 
Directions: 
Affogato







  1. Put one or two scoops of ice cream in a bowl. 
  2. Divide the hot espresso in separate cups.
  3. Serve the espresso alongside the bowls of ice cream and pour the espresso over the ice cream.










I always tell people not to be afraid of Italian food.  It is delicious and more importantly much more than red sauces and pizza.

I hope you enjoy these recipes as my family did.

Happy anniversary darling. I love you!

Buon appetito!   

                                                           

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Hazelnut Iced Café my Way

We all know that, for a while now, iced coffee has been in style. Since I like coffee, I, off course like iced coffee, but this gourmet trend can be quite pricy.  So, I came up with my own. 

Ingredients I use
This is one of them:
  
Ingredients:


  • 1 glass of milk - I like soy milk-
  • 1 teaspoon of Nescafe
  • 2 tablespoons of Hazelnut non-dairy creamer
  • You can use sugar if you like





Hazelnut Iced Café my Way
Preparation:
 

Pour the milk in the glass, add the instant coffee, the hazelnut, the sugar if you used it, a couple of ice cubs and voila!


It is this simple. 

Buon Appetito!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Basil Lemonade

We all like lemonade; most of us anyway.  Lemonade takes me back to the summers of my childhood.

I received another Vegetarian Times magazine, subscription that my friend Vero,  from La Cocina de Vero con comida, gave to me for Christmas.  Thanks again my friend.

A couple of days ago I was reading through my new magazine and among the succulent recipes I found one that truly caught my attention, Basil Lemonade.  WOW, I think you already know that basil is my favorite herb, and the thought of this lemonade made my mouth water.  I checked the refrigerator for basil, I did not have any.  I went to the market and purchased the basil and some lemons.

My daughter loved it.  If you make this Basil Lemonade for your children, they will love it too.

Here we go.

Ingredients
  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 3/4 cup sugar (I used less sugar, I like taste the lemon)
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
Preparation
  1. Bring basil leaves, sugar and two cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar an bruise basil leaves. Simmer 5 minutes without stirring.  Strain, pressing on basil to remove liquid.  Cool.
  2. Pour 2 cups of basil syrup into a pitcher.  Stir in lemon juice and 4 cups of water.  Refrigerate and chill well.  
  3. Serve over ice, garnish with basil leaves. 
 
Buon Appetito!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My version of abuela Gigi's Garlic Soup

Photo by Laura
I have been craving garlic soup for while, but not any garlic soup, abuela Gigi's garlic soup. Lots of memories come crashing through my mind. I remember the narrow dining room with lots of antiques. Her worn-out china, her silverware, true silver. I remember the kitchen, also narrow and old. It was a warm house, those wooden old houses with a porch and swing; and a very big backyard. When he was young, mi abuelo was a hunter, and you could see around the house the heads of his “trophies”. Yup, it was one of those houses. It was in Las Merceditas, a little neighborhood part of San Francisco de Paula in the outskirts of Havana. I loved going there.
                                            
Abuela Gigi was an amazing cook, one of the best I remember. Everything she made was delicious, and all I can remember is her garlic soup. This memory I have is more than twenty years old. I think this soup wraps up all those wonderful memories I have of them. I never saw them again; mis abuelos are no longer with us, but in my heart they will forever be, and that soup, abuela Gigi's soup, came to me as a reminder of how lucky I was to have them. 

I made abuela Gigi's garlic soup last night, and I think I made her proud. I told my daughter all about it and she, in a bowl of my version of abuela Gigi's garlic soup, was able to appreciate the warmth I was talking about.

This is my version of abuela Gigi's garlic soup, as best as I could remember. I never knew her recipe.

Ingredients:
  • 16 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons of paprika -pimentón-
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 32 ounces of liquid – I used vegetable broth-
  • 1 loaf of bread – cut in slices- I used a whole grain baguette
  • 3 tablespoons of parsley – curly parsley-
  • 3 raw eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
Photo by Laura
Directions: 
  1. Peel the garlics and crush them. Cook garlic along with the onion, in 1 tablespoon of butter, until soften or until the onion is translucent. Once ready put in the food processor until well combined.
  2. Fry the bread in the same pan with 2 tablespoons of butter. Set aside.
  3. In a pot, sauté the parsley with the remaining butter. Add the pimentón, the garlic and onion mixture and the vegetable broth or the liquid of your liking.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and temper them with the soup. Do this before the soup comes to a boil. Be sure that you pour the liquid slowly to avoid curdling the eggs.* Once done tempering the eggs incorporate them to the soup. 
  5. Add the fried bread and let it cook until the bread is soft.
Photo by Laura
Photo by Laura
Photo by Laura

Photo by Laura

    *If you don't like the appearance of the egg you can strain the soup. We like it with the eggs.

I truly hope you enjoy this version of the most comforting soup ever, abuela Gigi's garlic soup.

Buon appetito!