Food, Wine, Rock & Roll

Part food blog, part jam session

Curried Lentil Soup

Posted by Becca On March - 24 - 2012ADD COMMENTS

My husband’s great-grandmother was a vegetarian and raised him on lentils; he LOVES them.  Until finding this recipe, I had never cooked lentils or made a true “from scratch” home-made soup.  However, what attracted me to this recipe was neither the draw of making my own soup or indulging his love of lentils.  It was the curry; it was an opportunity to indulge MY love of Indian food, especially since I no longer live in a place where good Indian food is available.  The other things were just a bonus.

This is yet another super easy, quick (prep-work), and SUPER inexpensive recipe.  I realize this is becoming a pattern in these posts but I have no doubts that I’m not the only one who is becoming more and more conscientious about my budget.  It is also vegetarian, which makes it very healthy.  It also makes great leftovers.  Easy, cheap, quick, satisfying, and healthy – what more can you ask for?

Ingredients

  • 3 tbs. olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped (I start with julienned carrots to save time)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped, divided
  • 2 tbs. (or more) curry powder
  • 1 c. green lentils
  • 4 1/4 c. (or more) water, divided
  • 1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. butter

Preparation

Heat 1 tbs. of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.

Add the onions and carrots.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook until the onion is translucent, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes.

Add half of the chopped garlic.  Stir until the vegetables are soft but not brown, about 4 minutes longer.

Add 2 tbsp. of curry powder.  Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the lentils and 4 cups of water.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Increase heat and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, puree the chickpeas, lemon juice, 1/4 cup of water, remaining 2 tbsp. of olive oil, and remaining garlic in a food processor.

Add the chickpea puree and butter to lentil soup.

Season to taste with salt and pepper, and additional curry powder, if desired.

Add water by 1/4 cupful to thin to desired consistency.

Serve with warm naan (Indian flatbread) and lemon wedges.

As a returning college student, one of my more recent concerns is super healthy food that can be cooked quickly, makes a ton of food (left-overs are my friend), is super filling, and is really easy on the budget.  In the area in which I live, that means anything vegetarian.  In this quest for all the above mentioned foods, I have also discovered my new favorite vegetable: bok choy (Chinese cabbage), which is very inexpensive, incredibly healthy, and very flavorful and filling.

This recipe is similar to Bibimbap, in that is uses many of the same ingredients and has a very similar flavor profile.  I view it as a “stripped-down” version of bibimbap, though, & turn to it when I am really short on time.  Served over hot cooked rice, this dish never fails to please.

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 tsp. sriracha (Thai chile sauce)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 3 tbs. sesame oil, divided
  • 1 14 oz. pkg, firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 lb. bok choy, roughly chopped (I prefer baby bok choy, also known as Shanghai bok choy)
  • 2 c. shittake mushrooms, sliced
  • Hot cooked rice

Preparation

Cut tofu into bite-sized cubes.  Place cubes on an absorbent towel and cover.  Allow tofu to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.  The towel will absorb the excess liquid from the tofu, which will prevent it from falling apart while cooking.

Whisk together cornstarch and 1 tsp. of water in a small bowl.  Whisk in soy sauce, ginger, chile sauce, garlic, and 1 tsp. of sesame oil.  Set aside.

Heat 1 tbs. of sesame oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat.  Stir-fry tofu until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Set aside in a large bowl and cover with a towel to keep warm.

Add 1 tbs. of sesame oil to heated skillet or wok.  Stir-fry bok choy until tender, about 4 minutes.  Add to large bowl, covering to keep warm.

Add remaining 1 tbs. of sesame oil to the pan.  Stir-fry mushrooms until tender, about 2 minutes.

Return tofu and bok choy to pan.  Stir in soy sauce mixture and stir-fry about 1 minute, until hot.

Serve with additional soy sauce and gojuchang paste over hot cooked rice.

Bibimbap

Posted by Becca On January - 28 - 201220 COMMENTS

My husband and I both love Korean food.  When we lived in a more metropolitan area, we were able to go out about once a month to a great little Korean restaurant and eat until we thought we would explode.  Unfortunately, the area in which we now live does not have a single Korean restaurant.  We were both heart-broken until he decided to find a good recipe for our favorite Korean dish: bibimbap.  Now, this is a dish I usually make once a week.

Bibimbap is incredibly easy to make.  There are several different forms of bibimbap (hot stone-bowl, sanchae) and many different recipes that call for  a wide variety of ingredients; it is rare to find two identical recipes for this dish.  I spent a good bit of time experimenting with several recipes until I came across this one.  It is the one which most closely resembles the dish we used to get at our favorite Korean restaurant.

This version is vegetarian BUT I have also used rib-eye (1/2 lb., thinly sliced) instead of tofu and it is equally tasty.  I have also been thinking about experimenting with shrimp, chicken, and/or pork.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger, grated
  • 8 oz. firm tofu, cut into thin slices
  • 1 1/2 zucchini, shredded
  • 1 lb. baby bok choy, roughly chopped
  • 1 lb. shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • handful of julienned carrots
  • handful of bean sprouts
  • eggs (optional)
  • hot rice
  • gojuchang red pepper paste (optional) – can be found in most international markets or on Amazon.com
  • rice wine vinegar (optional) – I don’t use this but some people like it

Preparation

Cut tofu into thin slices.  Place slices on an absorbent towel and cover.  Allow tofu to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.  The towel will absorb the excess liquid from the tofu, which will prevent it from falling apart while cooking.

Combine the soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil, sugar, garlic, and ginger in a plastic seal-able bag.  Add the tofu and coat.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Warm 1/2 tablespoon of the sesame oil into a large wok or skillet over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and cook until they are tender and soft.  Set aside in a large bowl (large enough to hold the other ingredients when ready) and cover with a towel to keep warm.

Warm 1/2 tablespoon of sesame oil in the wok or skillet and add the shredded zuccini and chopped bok choy.  Cook until it is tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the handful of julienned carrots and cook for 1-2 minutes (carrots should still be firm and crunchy).  Add to large bowl, covering to keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, bring a few cups of water to a boil.  Add the bean sprouts and cook for about a minute.  Drain in a colander and add bean sprouts to large bowl with other cooked ingredients.

Increase heat in wok or skillet to high.  When hot, add the tofu.  Cook, stirring constantly until the tofu is browned on all sides.  Add to large bowl.

Optional:  In a medium non-stick skillet, add remaining 1 tablespoon of sesame oil over medium heat.  Cook the eggs until the whites have set, but the yolk is still runny.

Place hot cooked rice in the bottom of bowls.  Add all cooked ingredients over hot cooked rice, placing the fried eggs on top.

Break the yolk and stir all ingredients until well mixed.

Serve with gojuchang paste and/or rice wine vinegar if desired.

Farfalle with Creamy Wild Mushroom Sauce

Posted by Becca On January - 25 - 20113 COMMENTS

As I’ve mentioned before, I love mushrooms and could eat them every day.  I also love pasta dishes.  So when I found this recipe that combined both of my loves, I had to try it.  The original recipe called for a packaged mix of pre-sliced mushrooms called the “exotic mushroom blend” (shiitake, cremini, & oyster mushrooms).  The only thing my grocery store had that came close to this was the freeze-dried mushrooms that needed to be reconstituted, but they did have fresh baby bellas (also known as cremini) and fresh shiitake mushrooms.  I decided to go with the fresh mushrooms and, of course, was very happy with the results.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. uncooked farfalle (bow tie pasta)
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 cups  thinly sliced fresh shiitake & cremini mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt, divided
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

Preparation

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the mushrooms, onion, shallots, garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt, and pepper.  Cook 12 minutes or until liquid evaporates and mushrooms are tender, stirring occasionally.

Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes or until the liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat.

Combine the mushroom mixture, pasta, whipping cream, cheese, and 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley in a large bowl, tossing gently to coat.

Stir in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Garnish with minced fresh parsley, if desired.

Drinks

This dish is is best described as “creamy goodness.”  To balance out the whipping cream and cheese combined with the earthiness of the fresh mushrooms, you need a wine that is subtle and sweet.  I like to turn to Master Plan Vineyard’s Chardonnay for this balance.  It has just a hint of oak that complements the fresh mushrooms beautifully and a moderate sweetness that reminds me of fresh apples or pears.

Music

I think that a creamy pasta dish should be a staple meal in every household across the country.  It’s something that is comforting and familiar.  This one adds a little twist to the standard by incorporating a variety of fresh mushrooms that are not always found in this type of dish.  Since it is something that I view as a staple with a twist, I like to put on an album that is, in my mind, a staple of the rock world: U2’s The Joshua Tree. It is one of the highest selling albums of all time, making it something familiar and comforting.  At the same time, though, I never fail to discover new and surprising things every time I hear it.

Crock-Pot Mac & Cheese

Posted by Becca On January - 18 - 2011ADD COMMENTS

Mac & Cheese is an American classic that goes with everything.  Until I found this recipe, I had never made home-made mac & cheese.  I have avoided the preservative filled boxed mac & cheese for years & many of the recipes I had found for home-made either didn’t appeal to me or seemed to take too long.  This recipe, though, is perfect; it’s easy, takes very little prep-time, and is tasty beyond all reason.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded provolone (I like to use smoked provolone for added depth)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 2 cups dry elbow macaroni
  • 8 oz. sour cream

Preparation

Combine the cheddar, provolone, milk, cream, salt, pepper, and mustard in a 4-6 qt. slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 1 hour.

Stir in macaroni and sour cream.

Cover and cook on low-heat for an additional hour.

Chickpea Patties

Posted by Becca On January - 11 - 2011ADD COMMENTS

I discovered this recipe several years ago while visiting my sister.  I met a friend for coffee and she had a Martha Stewart magazine with her.  I was still relatively early in my cooking experience and was looking for new and interesting things to make; I needed to get out of the rut I had found myself in so I started flipping through her magazine.  I stumbled upon this and couldn’t wait to get home to test it out.  It was a huge success and has been in my repertoire ever since.

Ingredients

  • 15 oz. can chickpeas (drained; reserve juice)
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1/2 cp. low-fat plain yogurt
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice

Preparation

Chickpea Patty

In a food processor, pulse the chickpeas, parsley, garlic, cumin, 1/4 tsp. salt, and pepper until coarsely chopped and mixture comes together when gently squeezed.  If mixture is too course, very slowly add some of the reserved chickpea juice until desired consistency is reached.

Patting between your hands, make 1/2 inch patties out of the mixture.  Coat with flour.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook the patties in the skillet until golden brown (about 2-3 minutes per side)

Dressing Preparation

In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper.

Place chickpea patties on warmed flatbread and drizzle with yogurt dressing.

Serve with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, and crumbled feta cheese.

Drinks

This is a very light, refreshing dish that can easily be overwhelmed by many pairings.  It needs something that is equally light and refreshing.  Indaba wineries makes the perfect Chardonnay for this dish.  It has the crisp flavors of fresh fruits and a hint of citrus that goes very well with the yogurt dressing on the dish.  It also has a nice balance of creaminess to it that blends with and complements the chickpea patty.

Music

The perfect album for this fresh, light meal is on that is fun, eclectic, and created by hippies.  For that, there is no album more perfect than Rusted Root’s When I Woke.  This band is the definition of the modern-day hippy and the album is full of tracks that just make you want to dance, sing, & laugh.


Hot Artichoke Dip

Posted by Becca On January - 4 - 2011ADD COMMENTS

I got a new crock-pot for Christmas from my mother-in-law and, as an added bonus, it came with this wonderful little crock-pot called the “Little Dipper Warmer.”  It’s entire purpose is to cook and keep warm things like dips and sauces.  It also melts chocolate for dipping.  It is really cool.  I am a huge fan of artichoke dips so, when I found this recipe, I decided to try it out in my new toy and it was delicious!  This can also be done in a regular crock-pot or on the stove top.

Ingredients

  • 1 6 oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon diced pimento (optional)

Preparation

Combine all ingredients in the warmer.  Cover and heat 30 to 60 minutes or until hot.

Serve with tortilla chips or crostini.

Tomatillo Salsa

Posted by Becca On September - 5 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

I found the recipe for this amazing salsa in the recipe for Cornmeal-Crusted Tilapia (full recipe posted separately) and quickly discovered I had found something really special.  Not only is it terrific with the tilapia, it is equally terrific to have as a snack with tortilla chips or as a side with any Mexican dish.  Even when I make this in order to serve with the tilapia, there is still plenty left over to use at a later time.  It keeps in the refrigerator for up to two weeks and is sure to be an instant favorite.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 serrano chilies, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 (11 oz.) can tomatillos, drained
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Preparation

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Chop until smooth.

Grilled New Potatoes

Posted by Becca On August - 28 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

This is a super easy recipe that can go with almost anything.  It takes almost no time or effort and the fresh herbs add a wonderful flavor to the tender new potatoes and all the ingredients are incredibly inexpensive.  Using the grill for this side dish makes it perfect for any summer cooking when it is just too hot to turn on the oven.  You can also save any leftover potatoes, which reheat very well, for any other meals during the week.  If you cannot find the fresh herbs at your grocery store, you can substitute with dried herbs but the flavor is not as bright.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups tiny new potatoes, halved or quartered depending on preferred size
  • 6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh oregano
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Boil the potatoes until you can just pierce them with a skewer, about 4-6 minutes.  Don’t let them get too soft.

Preheat the grill to medium high heat and brush with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl.

Thread the potatoes on a skewer, brush with the oil and herb mixture, and place on grill.

Rotate the skewers often until the potatoes’ skins are light brown and crisp and the insides are soft, about 8-12 minutes.

Mushroom Fajitas

Posted by Becca On August - 24 - 20104 COMMENTS

My husband and I love mushrooms.  We could probably eat them on a daily basis.  We had eaten mushroom fajitas at restaurants on numerous occasions and had always enjoyed them so I decided to make them for dinner one night.  I didn’t have a recipe; I just thought of the flavors I like and made this up as I went along.  It turned out to be so delicious that it instantly became a regular in our dining repertoire.

Ingredients

  • 4 large portabella mushrooms
  • 2 green bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, minced
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded & finely chopped (keep a few seeds for added heat if desired)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • splash of mid-quality tequila (optional)
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • salt & pepper to taste

Preparation

Wash mushrooms thoroughly & pat dry.  Slice mushrooms into 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick slices.

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, cover.  Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 15 – 30 minutes.

Preheat grill to medium heat (around 350° to 400°).

Cover vegetable grilling basket with aluminum foil & lightly spray with cooking spray.

Place mushroom mixture in basket and grill for 20 – 25 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender, stirring frequently.

Serve on warmed or grilled flour tortillas with black beans.

Optional toppings: Mexican cheese, avocado, lettuce, sour cream, red or green salsa

Drinks

The great thing about this dish is that it is pretty versatile and goes well with wine, beer, and mixed drinks (especially if it’s the “Not Your Mama’s Margarita which, I promise, I will post the recipe for soon).  When I am in a wine mood, I like to pair this with PrimaTerra’s Sangiovese because it is a slightly sweet, yet still very mild red.  If I’m more in a beer mood, any of the Mexican beers are a perfect match for this dish.  I particularly enjoy the Dos Equis Amber.

Music

I like to listen to something that would seem to fall out of my normal musical tastes while making this dish, Tool’s 10,000 Days.  Most people hear “Tool” & automatically think something more along the lines of Heavy Metal.  However, what people fail to recognize is that Tool is an incredibly innovative, creative, and diverse band & nothing exemplifies that more than 10,000 Days.  I like to listen to this album while making this dish because of the surprising spice/heat that is in it, which most people wouldn’t expect in something as simple as mushroom fajitas.