Very Gouda Cheesy Grits

Cheesy grits with fried eggs

These creamy, cheesy grits make an easy, perfect breakfast topped with fried eggs. The melting quality of Gouda cheese marries the flavor of sharp cheddar in a perfect match. Unlike many Southern recipes, this California girl adds no cream and just a smidgen of butter.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

grits box

cheese

2 cups water

A few shakes salt (I use sea salt)

1/2 cup quick cooking hominy grits

1/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (2 oz)

1/4 cup grated Gouda cheese (2 oz) (2 small rounds)

1 tsp butter

Bring salted water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Slowly whisk in grits. Turn burner to low, cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in butter and cheeses until they melt. Cover pot while you fry the eggs.

Fried eggs:

Warm eggs in a large pot of hot water for 10 minutes. Or even better, leave them out overnight. Melt a teaspoon of butter in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Break eggs into pan and let them cook over medium heat until the whites begin to harden on the edges. Lift the edges in a few places and pour in a spoonful of warm water underneath them. This makes the whites more tender. Cook until the whites are opaque. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.

Pour the cheesy grits in a cereal bowl and gently place the eggs on top. Stir and enjoy.

 

 

 

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San Marzano Marinara Sauce

can of San Marzano

An article from the New York Times convinced me to try San Marzano peeled whole tomatoes to make Marinara sauce. These tomatoes from Italy’s Sarnese Nocerino Area, close to the famous Mount Vesuvius volcano, are sweeter and more flavorful than American ones. I tried their recipe, but couldn’t resist tweaking it to make it my own improved version. I found the ingredients at Trader Joe’s.

garlicIngredients:

  • 1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 7 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 8 crimini mushrooms, quartered and sliced
  • A few shakes of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • A few grinds black pepper
  • 14 oz can artichoke hearts, drained and sliced.

Pour the can of tomatoes into a blender and blend a few seconds.

fried garlic mushroomsHeat the oil in a skillet until it shimmers. Add garlic, onion, seasonings and mushrooms. Fry until onions are soft and garlic is yellow. Stir in the artichoke hearts.

Stir in the pureed tomatoes. Swish the can with 1/4 cup water and swish in the blender, then stir into the tomato sauce.

sauceCover skillet and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Mix it with pasta or make it a day ahead for the next day’s pasta.

For Linguine with Prawns, I grilled the prawns, then mixed with sauce and pasta and grated a bit of Parmesan on top. You could also fry the prawns with the garlic and onion, then remove them while cooking the rest of the sauce, and add them in later.

linguini with prawns

 

Huevos Rancheros

Hevos Rancheros with frijoles

Huevos Rancheros con frijoles pintos is my favorite hearty Mexican breakfast. I like to make a batch of beans the night before and let them slowly cook in the crock pot overnight. Then I pour them over the huevos rancheros and sprinkle them with salty cotija cheese or queso fresco (fresh cheese).

tortillas on comalIngredients: (serves one)

2 corn tortillas

nonstick canola oil spray

2 tsp butter

2 eggs

2 Tb warm salsa

2 teaspoons cotija cheese or queso fresco

about 1/4 cup frijoles pintos

Directions

Warm eggs in warm water for about 5 minutes.

Heat the comal. Spray comal and both sides of the tortillas with nonstick spray and heat over medium.

fried eggsMelt butter in a nonstick skillet. Fry the eggs. When the whites begin to harden, divide the eggs so the whites are not touching.

Pour salsa on eggsWhen tortillas begin to crisp, transfer them to a plate. Carefully place the eggs on top of them, Pour heated salsa over the eggs.

eggs-with-salsa-and-cheese.jpg

Sprinkle with half the cheese (about one teaspoon).

Hevos Rancheros with frijolesLadle beans over eggs and on the side if you wish. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on the beans. Disfrutalo!

 

 

 

Pear Pecan Bread made from Ugly Pears

I bought a bag of sad, truly ugly looking pears for only 20 cents, but I didn’t despair, but created a new paradigm since the only thing was was to prepare some pear bread by peeling it and removing the bad spots with a paring knife. And I still had more pears, which called for a second loaf. Therefore I had a pair of pear breads. Which were  beautiful and tasted incomparable – a true paradox. I used a recipe from Joy of Cooking, but swapped finely ground whole wheat flour for half the flour, and pared down the sugar, which apparently repaired the recipe with healthier ingredients, quite a parable. (There are 11 pear puns in the above paragraph, oops one more there! Did you catch them all?)

ugly pearsWet Ingredients:

3 – 4 ripe pears, grated to make 1 1/2 cups with the juice

1 large egg

1/2 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest from one medium lemon

1 Tb fresh lemon juice, squeezed from the same lemon

Dry Ingredients:

3/4 cup finely ground whole wheat flour (also known as white whole wheat flour)

3/4 cup white all purpose flour

1 Tb ground flax seeds

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 cup chopped pecans

Topping:

1 Tb Demura sugar (coarsely ground sugar)

1 tsp cinnamon

pear bread loaf

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*

Break pecans into small pieces. I used the blade of the food processor and pulsed a few times. Fill up 1 cup of broken pecans and set aside.

Peel pears and cut away the core and any bad parts. Grate to make 1 1/2 cups. I used the grater attachment for my food processor to grate the pears. measure grated pears and set aside.

Mix egg, olive oil, vanilla, lemon zest and juice with the food processor blade, Add grated pear and mix again. Sift together dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Fold in dry ingredients until somewhat mixed in. Add pecans and fold until just mixed.

Spray a loaf pan with nonstick spray. Pour in batter. Mix the Demura sugar with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a small bowl, then sprinkle evenly over the top.

Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool on the rack until you can’t wait any longer.

 

 

Linguine with Prawns

linguine with prawns December 31 2017I made this on New Year’s eve and served it with a glass of white wine. Happy New Year!

Serves 3 -4

Ingredients:

12 shrimp (26/30 per pound size)

1 1/4 cups water

1 Tb olive oil

1 onion, chopped fine

1 large bell pepper, chopped

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp sugar

28 oz can crushed tomatoes

8 oz can tomato sauce

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

several grinds black pepper

3/4 tsp salt, to taste

8 oz bottle clam juice

1/4 cup chardonnay or other dry white wine

14 oz can artichoke hearts in water

4 cups baby spinach

To cook linguine:

8 – 10 oz linguine pasta (depending on how hungry your guests are)

1 gallon boiling water

Garnish:

3 Tb pine nuts (approximately)

1/2 cup minced cup parsley

3 Tb finely grated Parmesan

Directions:

Defrost shrimp if using frozen shrimp.

Bring 1 1/4 cups water to boil in a small pot. Peel shrimp and add shells to the boiling water. Let cook for 15 minutes.

While shells are cooking, boil 1 gallon water in a large pot.

Dice onion, bell peppers and thinly slice garlic. Heat oil in a heavy pot and stir fry the onions and bell peppers until soft. Stir in sugar, garlic, oregano and basil.

Add tomatoes and tomato sauce. Strain shrimp-shell broth into the larger tomato can and swish it around to get all the tomato juices out, then pour into the smaller can and do the same, and then add to the pot. Stir in clam juice, red pepper flakes and black pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer while you finish preparing the other ingredients, about 10-15 minutes.

Slice the artichoke hearts into quarters and add to the sauce. Stir in the shrimp.

Stir in the linguine and a bit of salt to the boiling water, lower heat to medium and cook according to package directions.

Wash and mince the parsley and wash the baby spinach.  Stir in the white wine and baby spinach to the sauce. Drain the linguine and place on each plate. Spoon sauce over the linguine. Garnish with parsley, Parmesan and pine nuts. Mange!

 

 

 

 

Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie

IMG_8763

A friend from Georgia gifted me a bag of pecans from her backyard just before Christmas. My husband, a Texas native, is crazy for pecans. What better Christmas gift for him than a pecan pie? I made him one using maple syrup instead of corn syrup, with a touch of brown sugar and butter and a couple of tablespoons Jim Bean bourbon. It was just sweet enough, without being cloying like some pecan pies can be.

pecans and maple syrupIngredients:

2 Tb. salted butter, melted

1/4 cup dark brown sugar (I used Trader Joe’s)

3/4 cup maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 Tb bourbon (I used Jim Bean)

1/4 tsp sea salt

3 eggs at room temperature (you can soak them in warm water to warm them up)

1 1/2 cups pecan halves

Directions:

Make a 9″ pie crust (bottom only).

Preheat oven to 350′ Place oven rack at lowest position.

Arrange pecans evenly on the crust.

Mix together brown sugar and melted butter. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Gently pour filling over pecans. Rearrange pecans so they are even on the crust. Cover pie edges with foil and a pie saver to prevent it from over-browning. Bake at 350′ for 45 minutes or so, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for about an hour, until you can’t wait any longer.

slice of pecan pie with whipped cream

Serve topped with whipped cream sweetened with 1 tablespoon maple syrup and a teaspoon vanilla.

 

 

 

Black Beans with Yams

serving black beans and yamsSlow cooked black beans brightened by chunks of yams in a rich, slightly chocolaty sauce will warm your winter chill. Thanks to CHEFS student Maria for inspiring this recipe from her vegetarian chili.

Ingredients:

1 Tb olive oil

1 onion, roughly chopped

1 green bell pepper, roughly chopped, seeds and ribs discarded

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 pound (2 cups) dried black beans

8 cups cold water

1 Tb cumin

1/4 tsp ancho chili powder. Add more if you like spicy beans.

1 tsp cocoa powder

1 tsp oregano

3 large Diane yams, peeled, thickly sliced and roughly chopped into bite sized pieces

about 1 Tb salt. Add a bit at a time until it’s to taste

Instructions:

Fry onions and bell pepper in olive oil until the skin begins to char. Add garlic and fry for a minute more. Remove from heat.

Rinse beans and discard imperfect ones. Add to cold water in a large pot. Stir in seasonings and bring to a boil and let boil for 5 minutes. Add fried vegetables and chopped yams to water and bring to boil again. Pour contents of pot into a slow cooker. Add more water if needed to cover the beans. Set cooker on low and cook all day or all night, depending on whether you start in the morning or evening. It could take at least 8 hours until the beans are soft. Salt to taste, stirring in salt a bit at a time. Freezes well.