All posts by lobstah

Mischievous Squid Rice (arroz de lulas malandrinho

A Portuguese rice dish that's tasty and simple. I can't explain why it's considered mischievous though, it's just delicious!
4 servings
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1½ pounds cleaned squid

2 TBL olive oil

1 medium onion

1 garlic clove

1 bay leaf

1½ cups canned tomatoes

1⅓ cups rice

a few stems of cilantro

Squid needs to be cooked quickly or else a long enough time to make it tender. I’m in the latter camp generally, so my technique for this recipe might differ from others you will find. The recipe is extremely foregiving, so don’t stress too much about exact quantities.

Chop finely,

  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 clove garlic

In a heavy pot (2-3 quarts), over a medium heat, add

  • 2 TBL olive oil

and when the oil is heated, add add the onion and garlic. Let the mixture cook until they are tender and fragrant, but do not let them brown! While the mixture is cooking, cut up

  • 1½ lbs cleaned squid

I like to use a mix of tentacles and bodies and I also prefer pieces that are bite-sized, but not rings. Cut it as you prefer but be sure to rinse it off to remove any sand. When the onions are tender, add the squid and let it saute for a few minutes. It will start to give off some liquid. Add

  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1½ cups of canned tomatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pepper (or red pepper flakes if you prefer), to taste

lower the heat (but maintain a gentle simmer) and cover the pot. When the mixture has cooked for about 20 minutes, add

  • 1⅓ cups rice
  • 2½ cups of water

Note that you can check the salinity at this point and if you think it needs a bit more salt, add to taste. Cover the pot for about 18-20 minutes, checking that the rice is cooked.

While you’re waiting, pluck and save all the leaves from

  • a few stems of cilantro

When the rice is cooked, the mixture will still be a bit soupy. Check the salt and pepper, remove the bay leaf and dd the cilantro leaves, stirring them in. Serve in bowls. A bit of crusty bread and a glass of wine will be appreciated by your guests.

Adapted from a recipe at https://www.vaqueiro.pt/recipes/arroz-de-lulas-malandrinho-201481

Salmorejo (cold Spanish tomato soup)

An alternative to gazpacho, this traditional cold soup captures the intense flavor of ripe tomatoes perfectly.
6 servings
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3 pounds ripe tomatoes, like beefsteaks

1 TBL sherry vinegar

½ cup oil

1 to 3 average-sized cloves of garlic

4-inch chunk of baguette or 2 slices of a rustic white bread

You can do this in a blender, food processor or with an immersion blender. I get the best results using two of those, but if you’re not as fixated on getting a smooth, seed-free soup as I am, choose any one and you’ll be very happy.

Preheat the oven to 375º F. Clean and cut in half (on the “equator”)

  • 3 pounds ripe tomatoes, like beefsteaks

Season to taste with

  • salt
  • finely ground black pepper

And place on an oiled baking tray ATTN that has closed sides, such as a sheet pan. Place in the 375º F oven and let bake for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, place a

  • 4-inch piece of baguette or 2 slices of a rustic white bread

in a large drinking glass or a soup bowl. Add tepid water and soak the bread for 5+ minutes to it is totally soft; if it has a hard crust, it might take longer. Squeeze out the bread gently if it’s really gotten soggy.

The original recipe calls for 2 cloves of raw garlic, which are to be chopped up a bit and then added to the blender. With the raw garlic, I found that one clove was enough. I have decided that I prefer the taste of cooked garlic, so what I do is as follows:

In a small saucepan, place

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed

and over a medium-low heat, let the garlic cook until it starts to show some color and the oil is fragrant. Let cool.

Remove the tomatoes from the oven and allow to cool enough that they are easily handled. Working over the tray or the food processor bowl (so you don’t lose the juice) ATTN remove the peels and cores, discarding them. If you leave on the peels you are going to probably end up with an unpleasant collection of rolled tomato skins throughout the soup. Ew!

Run the food processor to break up the pulp fully, run it through a strainer so you’re mostly left with the seeds. Working in batches, return the pulp to the blender (or food processor), and add the oil, garlic (raw or cooked, to taste), soaked bread and

  • 1 TBL sherry vinegar

Run for a minute to let the mixture emulsify completely. Check the seasoning, as it will probably need more vinegar, salt and/or pepper. As it is usually served chilled, I suggest you adjust the seasoning once it is fully chilled rather than while it is still at room temperature.

You can serve this at room temperature or chilled. I’ve even had it heated up (!) although that doesn’t work well with the raw garlic version. Serve garnished with sliced Serrano ham, grated hard-boiled eggs and/or bits of basil leaves.

Adapted from a recipe at https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/jun/27/six-best-chilled-summer-soups-gazpacho-salmorejo

Black Tea and Fig Jam

Not too sweet because the black tea tones down the super-sweetness of the figs.
7 half-pint jars (7 cups)
Shopping List

24 ounces dried black (Mission) figs

6 black (decaf) tea bags

2 cups sugar

a package of powdered pectin

¼ cup bottled lemon juice

In a 6 quart pot on a high heat, bring

  • 4 cups of water

to a boil, turn off the heat, add

  • 6 black tea bags
  • 24 ounces dried figs

Make sure the tea bags and figs are all submerged and cover the pot. Wait 30 minutes to an hour so the fruit will be fully hydrated. Fish the fruit and tea bags out of the liquid, leaving the liquid in the pot. Discard the tea bags. Trim the stems from the figs and then chop the fruit as you like. I prefer a rough chop, but you can go for as fine or coarse as you like.

Return the fruit to the pot, adding

  • ¼ cup bottled lemon juice (see safety note below)

and bring to a boil over high heat, cook 10 minutes on a hard boil. ATTNStir regularly to make sure the mixture doesn’t scorch. You may want to mash the the fruit with a potato masher if it looks too coarse. An immersion blender might work, but I really wouldn’t want to have the fruit pureed, so I just used the masher a bit. Meanwhile, in 1 quart bowl, combine

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 TBL pectin (pectin powder, not pectin-sugar)

Dump this mixture into the pan, stir to dissolve and return to a hard boil, stirring and let it cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.

I processed half-pint jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes but I encourage you to freeze the jam in suitable containers. Read the next paragraph…

Safety note: the USDA recommends using bottled lemon juice as it has calibrated minimum acidity levels, ensuring that the food is sufficiently acidic to avoid the possibility of spoilage. I adapted this recipe from another recipe, cited below, reducing the lemon juice, so I can’t vouch for the safety of canning this jam. In addition, I used fresh lemon juice, which the USDA would discourage you from using. To be safe, you should probably freeze the jam and keep it refrigerated when you defrost a container rather than canning the jam.

Adapted from a recipe in Savor the Best for fig jam, at https://savorthebest.com/fig-jam/

Garlic Allioli

Rich and delicious, and way garlicky!
1½ cups
Shopping List

1½ TBL minced garlic

1 egg

1½ cups fruity olive oil

1 lemon

¼ tsp freshly ground white pepper

This can be tricky to make, but it is sheer heaven when served alongside Shellfish Paella, grilled vegetables or other dishes that benefit from a bit of rich, garlic creaminess.

If you have a favorite technique for mayonnaise, use it. We’ve had good recipe with this in one food processor and it has never worked in another. Note that this makes a lot, so you may want to make a half recipe by either making an egg-yolk-only mayonnaise, or else beating an egg and discarding half. It is best made a day ahead.

In a food processor, puree

  • 1½ TBL minced garlic
  • 1 egg, at ATTN room temperature

In a liquid measuring cup or something with a spout, mix together

  • 1½ cups fruity olive oil
  • 1 to 1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice

With motor running, add oil mixture slowly, in a thin stream, ATTNslowly, until the mixture begins to thicken. If you add the oil too quickly, you will not achieve a solid mayonnaise, so go slow! Once it comes together, add

  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground white pepper

and whirl an additional ten seconds. Taste for seasoning. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate.

Adapted from The Catalan Country Kitchen, by Marimar Torres

Shellfish Paella

8 servings
Shopping List

⅓ cup olive oil

2 pounds red onions, minced

2½ pounds ripe plum tomatoes

16 small live clams

16 small live mussels

2 pounds squid

1½ cups short-grain rice (see note)

About 4 cups Fish Stock (see note)

16 large prawns in their shells

½ pound large scallops

2 large garlic cloves

2 TBL fresh parsley leaves

½ tsp (2 grams) saffron threads

¼ tsp freshly ground white pepper

1 lemon

Traditional shellfish paella is a fisherman-style rice dish, prepared in a shallow clay casserole (a 12-inch cassola is perfect). Generally it’s a little soupy and loaded with an assortment of seafood, which we vary according to what is available in the market. Often we cheat, especially when making a half-recipe, and make it in a frying pan with an ovenproof handle. In the recipe it just mentions a casserole to refer to this cooking vessel, whatever you choose. ATTNIf you opt for a frying pan, just be certain that the handle is ovenproof!

I cannot stress this enough: ATTNbefore you make this, read the note at the end of the recipe about rice, as it will determine the amount of liquid you need and the cooking time!

Make the sofregit

The first step, making a sofregit, is time-consuming because you must cook the onions and tomatoes slowly. We often make the full recipe for the sofregit and then only make a half-recipe of the paella. We freeze the extra sofregit for use in a speedy paella at a future date.

In a 12-inch frying pan, heat

  • ¼ cup olive oil

in a shallow flameproof clay casserole, or in a large skillet. Add

  • 2 pounds red onions, minced

and sauté slowly over low heat, stirring from time to time, until onions are brown and almost caramelized; it will take 45 minutes to 1 hour. ATTN Add small amounts of water if necessary, so the onions don’t burn. While you’re cooking the onions is a good time to prep the tomatoes, clean seafood, make the Garlic Allioli, etc., but ATTNkeep an eye on the onions so they do not burn!

When the onions are looking very well caramelized, add

  • 2½ pounds ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped

and increase heat to medium. Cook until dry, about 15-20 minutes, possibly longer depending on the liquid content of the tomatoes, especially if you don’t use plum tomatoes. This is the completed sofregit and will be approximately 2 cups in volume. Set it aside.

Make the picada

In a food processor or with a knife and cutting board, finely chop all the ingredients (below), together.

  • 2 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 TBL fresh parsley leaves
  • ½ tsp (2 gram) saffron threads
  • ¾ tsp salt, or to taste
  • ¾ tsp freshly ground white pepper, or to taste

This is called a picada. Set it aside.

Prep the squid, clams and mussels

Clean

  • 2 pounds squid

cutting the bodies into pieces (I dislike rings, but cut them as you wish), and the tentacles can be left whole or cut in two (again, my preference). Set aside.

To prepare the clams and mussels, scrub them.

  • 16 small live clams
  • 16 small live mussels

In a pot large enough to hold all the clams and mussels, bring

  • ½ cup water

to a boil and steam clams and mussels (in the water or above it on a rack) with a lid on the pot, until they open, 4 to 5 minutes for mussels and 5 to 10 minutes for clams. Remove the ones that have opened and set them aside, letting any uncooperative bivalves cook a bit longer. If any don’t open after enough time, toss those. Strain broth through a fine-mesh strainer and save it for a subsequent step. Reserve the cooked bivalves for the final step.

Time to cook the paella!

Preheat oven to 350° F. In a medium skillet, heat

  • 2 TBL olive oil

Add squid rings and tentacles. Sauté for 2 or 3 minutes, stirring. Add sautéed squid and their juices to casserole along with the sofregit, picada and

  • 1½ cups short-grained rice, such as Valencian or Arborio (see note at end of recipe)

Measure reserved bivalve broth and add

  • enough fish stock to total 4½ cups (ATTNsee note at end of recipe)

Bring to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add to the casserole and cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes; gently moving the rice around so it cooks evenly throughout. I don’t bring it to a boil, keeping it just shy of a simmer and I suspect this is why it’s taking more than the recommended 10 minutes in the original recipe. Add

  • 16 large prawns in their shells
  • ½ pound large scallops

pushing them down into rice so they are covered with broth. Move the casserole to the 350° F oven and cook another 10-15 minutes, or until rice is slightly underdone. Remove casserole from oven, and arrange mussels and clams on top. Cover casserole with a clean dishcloth and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Serve, garnished with

1 lemon, cut into wedges

and a large bowl of Garlic Aiolli

NOTE: This timing has worked moderately well with some short-grained rices while the traditional calasparra rice has required these adjustments: 5 extra minutes on the stovetop, 5-10 extra minutes in the oven and 6 cups of liquid rather than 4½.

From one of my favorite cookbooks ever, The Catalan Country Kitchen by Marimar Torres. Buy a copy for more great recipes!

More information on The Catalan Country Kitchen.

Farm Wife’s Fresh Pear Tart

Rustic and simple to make, this cake is an incredibly delicious treat in fall and winter.
A 9-inch tart
Shopping List

2 eggs

¼ cup milk

1 cup sugar

1½ cups flour

2 pounds fresh pears, preferably Bosc or Anjou rather than Bartlett

½ cup dry, unflavored bread crumbs

3 TBL butter

12 whole cloves

Note that the pears will cook and don’t have to be fully ripened, although they should be on their way to getting ripe. Preheat oven to 375º F. In a mixing bowl, beat

  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup milk

together in a bowl. Add

  • 1 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt

mixing it thoroughly to produce a batter. Peel

  • 2 pounds fresh pears

and continue to beat. Add

  • 1½ cups flour

mixing it thoroughly to produce a batter. Peel

  • 2 pounds fresh pears

Cut the pears lengthwise in two, scoop out the seeds and core, then cut them into thin slices about one inch wide. Add them to the batter in the mixing bowl, distributing them evenly. Smear a 9-inch round cake pan generously with

  • 1 TBL butter

and sprinkle with

  • ⅓ cup dry bread crumbs

then turn over the pan and give it a sharp rap against the counter to shake loose excess crumbs. Put batter in pan, level it off with the back of a spoon. Make many small hollows on the top with a fingertip and fill with bits of

  • 2 TBL butter, cut into small bits

Stud the cake with

  • 12 whole cloves

distributing them at random, but apart. Place the pan in the upper third of the preheated oven and bake for 50 minutes or until the top is lightly colored.

While it is still lukewarm, cut around the edge of the pan, invert the cake on a rack and then invert it back onto a serving plate. It is very nice served while still warm, but it’s no disappointment at room temperature.

Adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, by Marcella Hazan.

Chocolate Cake of My Dreams

I had a dream that involved a chocolate cake. The next day I felt compelled to make one. You can mix this cake faster than your oven will heat up.
Makes one loaf
Shopping List

¼ cup cocoa powder

1½ cup flour

¾ cup sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1 TBL instant coffee

⅓ cup vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp white vinegar

I had a dream about a meal in a restaurant with self-service dessert. There were two options and someone at our table came back with a piece of cake that didn’t look appealing. My cousin returned with 5 slices of a dark chocolate loaf cake; they were all for her. The cake looked great and I got myself 2 slices. This recipe isn’t quite as good as the cake of my dreams, but I bet if you add some chocolate chips to the recipe it might be!

One more note: I adjusted the original recipe in some minor ways, but in particular, I reduced the sugar. Got a sweet tooth? Add some sugar back in, or add some chocolate frosting, or both.

Preheat the oven to 350º F. Grease an 8½ x 4½-inch loaf pan. Cut a rectangle of parchment paper the size of the bottom of the pan, and place it inside the pan.

In a large mixing bowl, measure

  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1½ cup flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 TBL instant coffee
  • ½ tsp salt

In a quart liquid measure or bowl, combine

  • 1¼ cups water
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp white vinegar

Using a whisk (or large spoon if you don’t have a whisk), combine the dry ingredients. Pour all the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until everything is mixed completely. You do not need to beat it a lot, just stir until it’s a smooth batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place in the oven. It will take up to 50 minutes to bake, but I’d start checking it after about 40 minutes. A toothpick inserted should come out with moist crumbs and the top should spring back when you press on it gently.

Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a rack. Remove the parchment paper when you take the cake out of the pan.

Inspired by a recipe (https://cookienameddesire.com/chocolate-loaf-cake/) from the Cookie Named Desire site.

Duck Cholent

An update of a dish frequently made by eastern European Jews. Cooks overnight in the oven or a slow cooker.
Makes 4 generous servings

Shopping List

4 duck leg quarters

1 cup dry cannellini beans

½ cup pearled barley

4 small to medium potatoes

1 TBL olive oil

1 small onion

½ head of garlic

1 branch of fresh rosemary or ½ TBL dried rosemary

several stems of fresh thyme or ¾ tsp dried thyme

1 cup dry red wine

4 cups of duck or chicken stock

parsley, for garnish

I

Note: Regarding portions, you may want to put more duck pieces in this recipe without increasing the other ingredients as it has a lot of beans, barley and potatoes for 4 servings.

To cook this in the oven, you will need a Dutch oven or cast iron pot with a ATTNtight-fitting lid. You can also make this in a slow cooker, although I have never made it that way.

Preheat the oven to 200º F, unless you will be using a slow cooker. Trim excess fat from

  • 4 duck leg quarters

In a skillet of suitable size, heat

  • 1 TBL olive oil

brown the duck legs, working in batches if needed and draining the excess fat as it accumulates. If you’d prefer to have a lower-fat version of this dish you can remove most of the skin and fat and skip the process of rendering the fat, although browning the meat a bit will make the finished dish look better. As the the duck is browned and the fat is rendered to your desired level, transfer duck pieces to a plate.

As the duck fat is rendering, peel and dice

  • a small onion (½ cup diced onion)

You can also prepare

  • ½ clove garlic

by peeling it and chopping it coarsely. ATTNKeep it separate from the onion for now.

Meanwhile, in the bottom of the Dutch oven or slow cooker place

  • 1 cup dry cannellini beans (ATTNdo not soak them)
  • ½ cup pearled barley
  • 4 small-to-medium potatoes, scrubbed, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces

When the duck been browned, transfer the pieces to a plate and remove all but 1 TBL of fat from the pan. The reserved fat is not used for this recipe, so you can discard or save it for something else. Over medium-low heat saute the chopped onion until it starts to become translucent, then add the garlic pieces and continue to saute for a couple more minutes. Transfer the cooked onion and garlic to the Dutch oven or slow cooker, and add

  • 1 TBL salt, ATTN See the Useful Information page (link at top). That’s Kosher salt!
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 TBL finely chopped fresh rosemary or ½ TBL dried rosemary
  • several stems of fresh thyme or ¾ tsp dried thyme

Place the duck pieces on top of the other ingredients and add

  • 1 cup red wine
  • enough chicken or duck stock to come up to the mid-level of the duck pieces, about 4 or 4½ cups.

Put on the lid and place in the oven. This will need to cook for about 10-12 hours (same for a slow cooker set on the low temperature) and don’t worry about the exact timing because if it’s done after 10 hours and cooks for 12, nothing bad will happen.

ATTN Some ovens have a safety feature that shuts them off running for an extended period of time. My oven shuts off after 12 hours. If you have such an oven (usually the ones with electronic displays and controls), pay attention in case it shut itself off overnight and just start it up again, making sure the food temperature has stayed warm enough to be safe.

When the 10-12 hours mark has been reached, open the cover and add salt/pepper if needed. Some people like to remove the duck pieces and take the meat from the bones, returning it to the cholent. The last time I made this the duck legs were small enough I could give each person their own.

This dish is much better the day after you make it. To reheat, place the Dutch oven in a 300ºF oven until heated thoroughly.

Serve in bowls, perhaps garnished with

  • chopped parsley

although my my used to say “gornisht helft” (“nothing helps”) when speaking of parsley garnishes.

Inspired by a recipe by Deb Lindsey published in The Washington Post.

Banana-Walnut Yeast Bread

I wanted to create a yeast bread, flavored with bananas, filled with nuts and not too sweet.
Makes one loaf
Shopping List

2 lb bunch of bananas

3 TBL vegetable oil

3 TBL brown sugar

4 cups whole wheat flour

2 tsp yeast

1 cup walnuts

Preheat an oven to 400º F. Peel and cut into ¼ inch slices

  • 2 lb bunch of bananas

This will give you about 1½ pounds of bananas. Place them in a bowl with

  • 3 TBL vegetable oil
  • 3 TBL brown sugar (see note below)

Stir the mixture, cover a rimmed baking sheet parchment paper and distribute the mixture evenly over the parchment paper. Roast the bananas for 20-30 minutes until they are caramelized. Remove from oven, cool to room temperature, mash the mixture in a bowl.

In a large bowl, combine

  • 4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1 tsp salt

Stir in the banana mixture and

  • 1¼ cup water

You don’t want the mixture to be too wet, but it may be necessary to add more water to get the dough to come together. Add

  • 1 cup walnut pieces

and knead them into the mixture. Form the dough into a ball or loaf shape and let rise. I baked this bread at 400º F in a preheated dutch oven for about 45-50 minutes (covered for the first half), but you could easily bake it in a loaf pan or other form. Let cool before slicing.

Note: If you increase the sugar a bit, the banana flavor will be more pronounced.

Salt Cod (Porto Style)

We were served something like this in Porto, Portugal. It made a lasting impression.
Guidelines in the recipe will help you scale it to your desired portion size
Shopping List

salt cod, about 3 oz per person

potatoes, 1 russet per person

eggs, 1 egg (or 2) per person

onions, ½ medium per person

garlic, to taste

red and yellow peppers, ½ to 1 per person

olive oil

parsley

Rehydrate

  • salt cod, maybe 3 ounces per person

We like it a bit salty, but just change the water according to your taste. When it’s done rehydrating, drain and poach until cooked; it’s easiest in a skillet rather than a saucepan. Remove from the water and when cool, remove bones and flake the fish. You can do this well ahead of time.

Prepare the potatoes according to this recipe. We use about 1 large (russet) potato per serving. That recipe makes addictive roasted potatoes, so don’t say you weren’t warned.

While the potatoes are roasting, prep these vegetables.

  • onions, cut in half-slices or diced (about 1 medium onion per 2 servings)
  • garlic, minced finely or cut in slices (1 medium clove per 2 servings)
  • red and yellow peppers, cut into strips (½ to 1 pepper per serving)

Saute the onion slices in

  • a couple glugs of olive oil

Add the garlic and peppers, letting them saute until tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Lower the heat and get ready to poach the eggs, one person. If you aren’t comfortable poaching eggs, you can fry them (over easy), but trust me, these directions work really well. ATTN I add 1 tsp of white vinegar to each egg and let them sit for a minute before lowering them into the water.

As the potatoes are nearing completion, raise the heat gently on the onion mixture, add the flaked salt cod. When the potatoes are out of the oven, put them in a warmed serving plate, cover with the onion/pepper/fish mixture, sprinkle with

  • chopped parsley, to taste

Blot the poached eggs dry and then place them on top of the serving dish.
Serve immediately: you may want to give each person their own egg(s) or else you can stir the whole thing together and serve it that way.

Black Risotto with Braised Squid

Braising the squid insures it is tender.
Makes 3 to 4 servings, depending on portion size
Shopping List

1 cup fish stock or clam juice

2 TBL butter

⅓ cup olive oil, approximately

2 medium onions, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup chopped parsley

1¼ pounds cleaned squid

1 cup dry white wine

1 cup Arborio rice

1 tsp squid ink

red pepper flakes

Heat

  • 1 TBL butter
  • 3 TBL olive oil
  • medium onion, diced fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 TBL chopped parsley

Stir until onion is translucent. Meanwhile, clean

  • 1¼ pounds squid

and cut into pieces. I prefer bite-size pieces to rings. When onion is translucent add squid and stir. After a minute add

  • ½ cup dry white wine

and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook about 45 minutes, until squid is tender. Meanwhile, prepare the liquid. Combine in a saucepan

  • 1 cup fish stock or clam juice
  • 1 cup water

but don’t bother heating it up until you start cooking the onions, below and then just heat it up but don’t bring it to a boil.

In a 2-quart saucepan, combine

  • 1 TBL butter
  • 3 TBL olive oil
  • medium onion, diced fine

Cook over medium heat and hen the onion is translucent, add

  • 1 cup arborio rice

and stir for 2-3 minutes, until edges of grains become translucent. Raise heat a bit and add

  • ½ cup white wine

Once the wine is absorbed, add ½ cup of the squid-cooking liquid. As it cooks down, continue to add ½ cup at a time of squid-cooking liquid, then switch to using the fish stock-clam juice combination — still ½ cup at a time.

Continue to cook the risotto, using a ½ cup of the stock at a time, stirring and then adding more stock only when the liquid is reduced. If you run short of liquid, just us warm water; this will depend on how much liquid the cooked squid yielded. It will take 20-25 minutes to finish cooking the rice. As it seems to get within 5 to 10 minutes of completion, add the cooked squid and

  • 1 tsp squid ink
  • red pepper flakes, to taste

The rice may look gray at first but will darken as it cooks. When the rice is cooked, adjust salt if needed. Serve garnished with

  • 2 TBL chopped parsley

Note: I’ve added roasted pepper pieces when I add the cooked squid back in. It looks even more stunning and tastes great.

Inspired by a Martha Stewart recipe.

Fennel with White Beans and Tomato

This started out as a fish main dish, but after tasting it, we decided to just have it as a vegetable dish. Side or main? Who knows.
Make 4 servings
Shopping List

olive oil

fennel bulb

1 medium onion

½ cup white wine

4 roma tomatoes (or other varieties)

3-4 cloves of garlic

chili flakes

saffron threads

pastis (Pernod, Ricard, etc.)

1 cup of stock (fish, chicken, vegetable) or bean-cooking liquid

1½ cups cooked white beans

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Cut into wedges

  • 1 fennel bulb

In a large frying pan, heat

  • 2 glugs olive oil

Fry fennel until golden. Lower heat and add

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • ¾ tsp salt

and cook until tender. Add more oil if needed and add

  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced or sliced

Cook briefly, add

  • ½ cup white wine

Bring briefly to boil and add

  • 4 Roma or an equivalent volume of other tomatoes, cored and diced
  • chili flakes, to tast
  • pinch saffron threads
  • splash of pastis
  • 1 cup fish, chicken or vegetable stock (see note, below)
  • 1½ cups beans

Let simmer together until tomatoes are cooked down. (In the original recipe, you’d add fish at this point and just cook until the fish is cooked through.) Taste for salt and pepper.

Note: You can use the bean cooking liquid instead of the stock if you prefer.

Adapted from a recipe in The Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers.

Non-Dairy Hamentaschen Dough

A nicely crisp cookie.
Makes about 30-35, depending on the size of the circles you cut.
Shopping List

2 large eggs

⅔ cup sugar

¼ cup canola oil

1 tsp vanilla

2¼ cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

This hamentaschen dough produces a cookie with just enough crispness! It’s become our favorite, and we’ve tried a lot of recipes over the years. Our favorite fillings are the very traditional Poppy Seed Filling and Prune Filling, but you can be creative.

Mix together in a bowl

  • 2¼ cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt

In the bowl of a mixer (or large bowl, by hand) beat

  • 2 large eggs

Add and mix completely

  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Add the dry ingredients and mix just until a uniform dough forms. If the dough doesn’t hold together, sprinkle a bit of water in and continue to mix; if it seems to wet, work in a bit of extra flour.

You can use the dough right away but I often make all the fillings and dough the day before and refrigerate them. The baking happens the next day with the help of some friends.

To make the hamentaschen, preheat the oven to 325º F. Roll the dough to the desired thickness. Under ⅛-inch gives crisp, thin cookies, but you can make them up to ¼-inch thick. Place the filling, ATTN wet 3 places where you’ll form corners with a bit of water and form the triangles. This dough has a bit more leavening than some of the other doughs I have tried: if you don’t seal the corners they will pop open! Place the cookies on an oiled sheet pan, leaving a bit of space between them.

Make an egg glaze by beating together

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp water

When the cookies are ready to go in the oven, brush them with the glaze and bake for about 18-20 minutes. The timing will vary according to your oven, the thickness of the dough and how dark you like the dough to get.

Remove from oven and let cool on sheet for a couple minutes before transfering to racks to complete cooling. These will get soft if you put them in a closed container so we leave them on the counter for a day or two. They don’t last much longer than that at our house unless I make a huge batch, in which case I have frozen them successfully.

Adapted from a recipe by Torey Avey.

Cantucci/Biscotti

A version of the best-known Italian cookies.
Makes about 30 human-sized cookies.
Shopping List

2 eggs

125g white sugar

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp sesame seeds

½ tsp fennel seeds

200g flour

1½ tsp baking powder

125ml (½ cup) canola oil

175g mixed nuts (walnuts, pistachios, almonds, etc.)

Mix together in a bowl

  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 125g white sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds

In a small bowl, combine

  • 200g flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder

Stir the flour mixture into the batter along with

  • 125ml (½ cup) canola oil

When mixed completely, add (ATTNby hand only)

  • 175g mixed nuts (walnuts, pistachios, almonds, etc.)

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper and form 2 logs, about 10 inches long and 3 inches wide. They will be just under an inch high. Bake 20 minutes or until golden outside. Remove from oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 225º F immediately.

As soon as you can handle the cooked cakes, remove from the sheet, slice cross-wise into pieces about the width of a finger. Place pieces on rack, set the rack on a baking sheet and bake until dry and the cut sides start to show some color. This will take about 20 minutes, maybe a bit longer.

Adapted from a recipe in the cookbook Polpo by Russell Norman.

Honey Cake Crisps

A crunchy twice-baked cracker-cookie, inspired by Trader Joe's Ginger Crisps and my grandmother's honey cake. There is a vegan version given as well.
Makes many dozens, depending on the thickness of the slices.
Shopping List
2¼ cups flour

¾ tsp baking powder

¾ tsp baking soda

½ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

⅛ tsp ground cloves

1 cup of broken-up pieces of pecans

1 egg

⅓ cup brown sugar

⅓ cup canola oil

¾ cup honey

<

p>¾ cup tepid, strong coffee (or 2 TBL instant espresso coffee)

If you want to make a vegan version of this recipe, see the note at the end.

Butter and flour a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Preheat oven to 325º F. Brew

  • ¾ cup strong coffee

ATTN Alternatively you can dissolve 2 TBL instant espresso coffee in ¾ cup hot water. Set the coffee aside and let it cool to room temperature.

In a small bowl, combine

  • 2¼ cups flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp ground cloves

ATTN I replaced half the flour with whole wheat and will use 100% whole wheat next time. Adjust the mix of spices to your liking.

In the mixer, beat

  • 1 egg
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup canola oil (or other neutral oil)
  • ¾ cup honey

Add half of the dry ingredients and mix as little as needed to blend everything together. Add the tepid coffee and as soon as that’s mixed in, beat in the remainder of the dry ingredients. By hand, stir in

  • 1 cup of broken-up pecan (or walnut) pieces

Place the batter in the prepared loaf pan. Bake for about 75 minutes or until a cake tester comes out completely dry. If the top gets dark after about 50 minutes, cover the top loosely with foil. The cake will be over-baked by normal standards but it will make it easier to slice.

Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove from the pan and transfer to a rack. When it’s completely cooled, cut the cake lengthwise, then cut super-thin slices. I have an electric slicer to it was pretty easy to do.

Place the slices on wire racks and bake in a 200º F oven until thoroughly dry. Turning them over once at the midpoint will speed the drying process. Slices that sat out overnight were dry in 20 minutes; freshly cut slices took about 40 minutes to dry.

To make a vegan version, instead of the egg, beat (with a whisk)

  • ¼ cup liquid from cooked (or canned) beans
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar

When it becomes foamy, add in

  • 1 tsp sugar

The mixture will thicken but don’t try to turn it into anything thick and fluffy (although that’s possible to do). Use this in place of the egg in the recipe above.

Adapted from a honey cake recipe in Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts.