Saturday, August 30, 2014

Portugese Pizza

Linguica sausage, kale, onions...sounds like the makings for a Portuguese dish. At least it was a couple of days ago when I made some Portuguese soup (Caldo Verde) with those ingredients, plus some potatoes.
The thing is, I still have a stick of linguica sausage left, and a bunch of kale. Its Friday night, and I wanted pizza. Looking through my pantry, I find two pita breads...just two. Well, I think its just the hubby and me tonight, so maybe the pitas will work fine for the pizza base. (If anyone else shows up, they can make a pizza on an English muffin.) I could use some tomato sauce, linguica, onions, mushrooms, and kale for the topping. I have a small amount of mozzarella cheese on hand, enough for a topper, but I need more cheese. Hmmmm...there is that small amount of mayo-yogurt-Parmesan spread that I made a few days ago for some grilled turkey and tomato sandwiches. Maybe if I stir in some Ricotta cheese, that would make a good white sauce cheese base for the pizzas.
I chopped up half an onion and three ribs of kale with the center stem removed. Then I pulled the skin off of the linguica and sliced in half lengthwise, then cut each half in half again, then sliced it into little pieces. I sauteed the linguica and onions with a dab of olive oil in a saucepan, then added some diced mushrooms and minced garlic and the chopped kale. I put the pitas on a baking sheet, smeared on the white cheese spread, and topped it with Parmesan cheese. The sauteed sausage blend went on top, followed by the mozzarella cheese and a small handful of Colby-jack cheese, just to make it cheesier. I put the pita pizzas into a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes, just to heat the bread through and melt all the cheeses. I cut the pizzas into quarters and plated them to be served on the coffee table with a beer and TV. All the food groups were represented on one place. Plus, I have enough of the linguica mixture to toss into some scrambled eggs for breakfast in the morning!

So that is how recipes are born: you start with what you have on hand, and improvise. That's the Portuguese way : ) My children's father was half-Portuguese, and his relatives were all hard-working, thrifty folk who really knew how to cook. Lately I have been reviewing recipes from an old family cookbook collection, you know the kind where someone collects a bunch of home-cooks' recipes and publishes it in a nice booklet. I will make something, then tell my daughters, "You should make this for your Dad." There is a simple tomato sauce for fish that is to die for, contributed by the ex's Aunt Marcel. Simple and perfect. I fell in love with it.

Anyway, this is the pizza I came up with tonight, and it was good! Better than my husband expected, because he thought it all sounded kind of weird. I went with the white cheese base as a nod to Mediterranean because of the pita, but on second thought, a perfect dough for this pizza with be potato bread dough with a chunky tomato sauce, then the linguica, kale, and onions. But that's a pizza for another day.


2 pita breads
1 stick linguica sausage
1/2 onion, chopped
3 ribs of kale, center stem removed, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
5-6 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 C mozarella cheese, shredded
Olive oil

White sauce:
2 Tbs mayo
2 Tbs ricotta cheese
2 Tbs Greek yogurt
2 Tbs Parmesan cheese
1 Tbs fresh basil leaves, sliced
Pinch of salt and pepper
Saute linguica sausage in olive oil with onions until onions are translucent. Add in mushrooms, garlic and kale and cook for 5 minutes on low heat.
Mix together white sauce ingredients and spread onto pitas. Top with linguica mixture. Cover with mozarella cheese. Bake in 400 degree oven for 10 minutes until bread is heated through and cheese is melted. Slice into quarters and enjoy!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Creamy Cauliflower Alfredo Mac N Cheese

One ramekin finished and ready to bake in the oven for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
I needed to use up my cauliflower last week before we went out of town for a few days. I figured the eggplant would keep in the frig, but cauliflower always gets black mildewy spots on it when left too long. We had just received a new shipment of veggies from SLO Veg on Monday, and I was trying to use or preserve everything I could in 3 days time. Not wanting the beautiful, white cauliflower to go to waste, I boiled it and pureed it into a creamy sauce for macaroni. The guys had it for dinner on Wednesday after I went to work. I froze a couple of ramekins in case they need a meal next week and I fall down and am unable to make something fresh and scrumptious for them at that time.Or I might just sleep through dinner, like I did last night after we got home from our weekend at Laguna Seca race track, where we went to see the Historic Races. The men were okay...they had the leftover pizza from lunch. The pizza is also tomorrow's lunch plan. I love pizza.

Anyway, back to the cauliflower, I borrowed a recipe from "A Pinch of Yum" and made an Alfredo-like sauce with it. It was simply cauliflower, broth, garlic, salt, pepper, and a dash of nutmeg. Since I was making cauliflower mac and cheese, I had to add some Parmesan cheese to it, too, and a splash of heavy cream. You can thin it out with water from the macaroni pot. I pureed it in batches in the blender, poured it over cooked macaroni, mixed in some leftover chunks of chicken breast, and sprinkled some toasted bread crumbs over the top. I took some to work with me that night, and yum! It was such a nice departure from my usual box lunches.

The next day I left town for four days without guilt!

Creamy Cauliflower Alfredo Mac N Cheese
Makes 8-10 servings
  • 1 lb. uncooked elbow macaroni noodles
  • 2 large heads cauliflower
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup starchy boiling water from pasta pot
  1. Chop the cauliflower. Bring the vegetable broth to a boil over medium high heat and add cauliflower. Cook until cauliflower is soft, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and saute for 4-5 minutes or until soft and fragrant.
  2. As the garlic and cauliflower are cooking, bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the fettuccine according to directions on package, reserving some of the starchy water to add to the sauce later.
  3. Transfer cauliflower to a blender with about 2 cups of the broth. You may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your blender. Add the sauteed garlic, salt, nutmeg, and black pepper and puree until very smooth, about 5 minutes. Once the mixture is moving, stream the olive oil into the blender. Add more broth or water if the mixture is too thick to move through the blender. You want it to turn through the blender easily. When puree is very smooth, transfer back to the butter/garlic skillet.
  4. Add the cream and Parmesan cheese and cook over low heat. Add the starchy pasta water. Combine noodles and sauce in a large pot or skillet and pour into individual ramekins or a casserole dish. Bake for 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven to make it nice and toasty.
Variation: Add leftover cubed chicken, bacon or even lobster (who has leftover lobster?) for a meatier twist on this recipe.

Monday, August 11, 2014

SLO Veg Bounty
Just look at all this beautiful, bountiful produce we received today in our tote from SLO Veg: Asian pears, strawberries, green beans, cauliflower, zucchini, Romaine lettuce, red cabbage, artichokes, Roma tomatoes, white nectarines, green grapes, purple eggplant...long, skinny eggplant. As expected, we got some of the unexpected. I would probably not have ever selected these eggplants from a market. My past attempts at Eggplant Parmesan were less than satisfactory, and the only thing I know that I can successfully make is Baba Ganash. But these are little, baby eggplants. I'll bet they will be good sliced and fried some way. Rachael from SLO Veg promised a good recipe, so I will check it out. And that, my friends, is the adventure with SLO Veg deliveries: you get a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season, with a surprise or two that makes you cook out of the box...literally!

First thing I did was start a pot of water going for the artichokes. They would boil for a good 45 minutes or so until the leaves began to pull off easily. I would served them with a dish of clarified butter and lemon juice. Then I built some nice bowls of salad with Romaine, sliced nectarines and strawberries, sunflower seeds and Pomegranate vinaigrette.

Then I took on the fish: it was a white fish, Rockfish, I believe, and one pound wasn't going to be enough for the four of us, so I also defrosted a package that I had put into the freezer a few weeks ago. It would all be locally caught fish from Morro Bay, so I didn't anticipate any complaints. I dipped the filets into a milk and egg mixture, then dredged it in flour, dipped it again and rolled it in some Panko bread crumbs. The fish was then pan fried in an iron skillet in coconut oil...Man, that smelled great! The troops were circling and I had to ask Lee to assist in getting it all on the table. He halved the artichokes, poured the butter into ramekins, set the table and put the food out while I finished frying the last piece of fish. We were all out of mayo, so no tartar sauce and the artichokes would have to be dipped in lemon butter...oh darn! No worries. Those guys were practically licking their plates by the end of the meal.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Crack Kale Salad

Monday is delivery day for us from SLO Veg. That means a whole box of fresh fruits and veggies to fit into the refrigerator day-after-tomorrow. So today I decided to use up most of whatever veggies had not yet disappeared from last week's box. There were some red potatoes...and that kale was still hanging around in the frig from last week's box. Actually, there were two kinds of kale, and one was two weeks old (from the previous box). Dang that stuff has a long refrigerated shelf life. MAYbe I should use it up?

I quickly made a dinner plan: kale salad, roasted potatoes, bacon-wrapped chicken marinated in beer, and garlic bread. The only things I needed from the store were chicken thighs and bread. 

Okay, so I pulled out the kale and inspected it. The curly kale that had been in the frig for two weeks was mostly good, with just a few leaves that needed to be cut out. The Lacinto kale that we just got this week was really dark green and crispy. I trimmed off all the stems and center ribs and gave it all a good washing in my salad spinner. Then I sliced it into 1/4" ribbons for the salad. I found a recipe I liked with a simple lemon juice and olive oil dressing. I jazzed it up a little after I tasted it, because it REALLY made me pucker! So I added a teaspoon of sugar, a splash of apple juice and some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. I poured the dressing over the kale and let it all meld together in a glass mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, I sliced up a nice, crispy apple into long strips and added it to the salad bowl. I wanted the lemon juice to coat the apple pieces so they would stay fresh looking. Then I mixed in some toasted almonds, raisins and some shaved Parmesan cheese.

The salad was a side dish for tonight's dinner which consisted of bacon-wrapped chicken breasts, roasted red potatoes and sourdough garlic bread. As you can see from the bottom photo, none went to waste.

Crack Kale Salad
 (very addicting!)

3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons apple juice
pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of sugar

1 bunch of kale, any variety, stems and center ribs removed
1/4 cup honey roasted sliced almonds
1/4 cup raisins
3 green onions, diced
1 large, crisp apple
1/2 cup shaved parmesan cheese

Mix together the dressing ingredients. Slice kale into ribbons. In a mixing bowl, pour dressing over kale and mixed together.Cut apple, peel and all, into julienne slices and mix with kale. Add almonds, raisins, and parmesan cheese and its ready to go!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Mako shark tacos with Asian snow pea salad

MMMMMmmmmmmm....I made some really delicious fish tacos last night using Mako Shark that we got in our last delivery from SLO Veg. They partner with SLO Fresh Catch to bring fresh, locally caught fish right to our doorstep. 

This type of fish is my favorite, because it comes fileted into nice steak-like slabs that eats like meat. I don't have to worry about any pesky little pin bones like you find in snapper or grenadier, either. I basically followed this recipe from Cooking Light, except that I used shark and also some shredded lettuce since I was all out of cabbage. The crema was really delicious and put a nice finish on the tacos. Dinner was accompanied by an Asian snow pea salad and a Pacifico beer. Just right!

Oh, and I didn't bake the fish. I fried it in a cast iron skillet with olive oil and butter. Just too hot to be turning on the oven this time of summer. But you know, basically followed this recipe. For the salad, I did actully follow the recipe, except for the mustard. I did not have any Chinese hot mustard on hand, not even any little packets from Chinese take out. So I substituted Irish Hot Mustard. I don't know what the difference is, so I didn't think it could possibly matter. Hope you get a chance to try it.


Fish Tacos with Lime-Cilantro Crema

Cumin, coriander, and paprika lend these fish tacos a delightfully warm, smoky flavor. They're the perfect foundation for the zippy sour cream sauce. For an appealing variation, substitute peeled medium shrimp for the snapper or romaine in place of cabbage.



1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

3 tablespoons fat-free mayonnaise

3 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream

1 teaspoon grated lime rind

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 garlic clove, minced


1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 1/2 pounds red snapper fillets

Cooking spray

8 (6-inch) corn tortillas

2 cups shredded cabbage


Preheat oven to 425°.

To prepare crema, combine the first 8 ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.

To prepare tacos, combine cumin and next 5 ingredients (through garlic powder) in a small bowl; sprinkle spice mixture evenly over both sides of fish. Place fish on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 9 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Place fish in a bowl; break into pieces with a fork. Heat tortillas according to package directions. Divide fish evenly among tortillas; top each with 1/4 cup cabbage and 1 tablespoon crema.


Asian snow pea salad


1 pound snow peas, trimmed and blanched

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons Asian sesame oil

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon hot Chinese mustard

2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions

1 teaspoon sesame seeds


1. Stack several snow peas and slice on the diagonal into 1/4-inch-wide strips. Repeat to slice remaining peas.

2. In a large bowl, whisk vegetable oil, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, sugar, and mustard until well combined. Add sliced snow peas and 1 tablespoon green onions; mix to coat. Cover and chill until cold, at least 1 hour, or up to 1 day.

3. Just before serving, mound salad on a platter and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon green onions and the sesame seeds.