Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Tuna-Pasta Salad

This actually started out as Grandma Charlotte's recipe, and I think she started out with a potato salad idea from The Joy of Cooking.

1 pound spiral pasta
1 cup Wishbone Italian Salad Dressing Accept No Substitutes
13 ounces of white tuna in water
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup of chopped celery
1/4 cup of chopped up sweet gherkins
Anything else you like in a summer salad: canned corn, fresh cooked corn, green pepper, red pepper

Cook the pasta according to the package

While it cooks, do any needed chopping.

Open and drain the tuna, then empty into a large mixing bowl and break it into small pieces.

Add the mayonnaise, celery, gherkins, and anything else you like to the tuna and mix well.

When the pasta is done, drain it, then instantly shake up the salad dressing and pour it on to the pasta, stirring well to spread it around.  Let it sit for a couple of minutes for those flavors to blend.

Add the pasta to the tuna and again mix well.

Eat warm or chill and eat later.

That rice casserole

You know, the one that I made in the old light blue dutch oven that Grandpa Joe bought sometime in the early 1950s?  It's a fancy thing you can make to go with a very simple roasted chicken, and instantly have company dinner.  It's different enough that you need to make it three times to be comfortable with all the steps.

2 cups rice
8 tablespoons of butter (why it tastes so good)
8 ounces of mushrooms, sliced up
A cup of sliced up celery (probably four to six stalks)
4 cups water
A tablespoon of soy sauce
A tablespoon of oyster flavor sauce (A Chinese cooking ingredient usually located near the soy sauce)

A frying pan and a casserole dish that holds two quarts or more.

Alternately, a dutch oven that can be both a frying pan and a casserole dish, plus a bowl to put some partly cooked things in so you can partly cook other things.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Slice up the mushrooms and the celery.

Put the rice in the frying pan and put in on the stove over medium heat.  Stir the rice constantly as it turns golden, about five minutes.  Pour the rice into the casserole dish.

Put two tablespoons of butter into the frying pan with about a third of the mushrooms and celery.  Cook until tender, maybe five minutes.  Pour that on top of the rice, and repeat the process two more times.

Combine the water, oyster sauce, and soy sauce. Mix well, then pour on top of the rice and vegetables, and mix well again.

Cover and put in the oven.

Bake 35 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.

Before serving, use a fork to toss the rice lightly around so it's loose and fluffy.

This one also started out in The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook, except that back then it had a lot more butter and it had onion and beef broth, where now it has two ingredients from Chinese cooking instead.

Pumpkin Pie

Shopping advice:
1. The recipe is on the pumpkin pie mix can.  Make sure you have the condensed milk and the eggs you'll need, and the pie crust is from Pillsbury and sold from a refrigerator case in the store.

2. The world wants you to make two pies at a time.  You can tell because the condensed milk comes in 11-ounce cans and you'll have a lot left if you make just one.  And you can tell because the pie crusts come two in a box.  And you can tell because you want two pumpkin pies right now while you're reading the recipe.

3.  If the recipe says to add sugar, it isn't pumpkin pie mix. It's just pumpkin.  You may be able to remember to add the sugar, but if you're my child, you shouldn't risk it.  Put down the can of pumpkin, and find the can of pumpkin pie mix that doesn't need you to add sugar.

Do what it says on the pie crust box.  Then do what it says on the pumpkin pie mix can.  Then enjoy.

Sesame Pan Bread

This single rise, three-hour recipe yields un-fancy bread that I think should be torn apart, rather than cut.  The recipe is for two loaves baked in cake pans.

3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 packages active dry yeast (if you buy fast-rising, expect things to happen faster than I say below)
About 8 cups flour
2 cups water
1 cup milk plus a little more to brush on the top of the loaf
One egg, slightly beaten
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup butter plus a little more to grease the pan

Oven Roast

Shopping thing: you have to figure out which beef roasts only work as pot roasts and which work as oven roasts. Pot roasts go in a pot with liquids and a lid on top to help them stay moist and become tender enough to chew.  Oven roasts are the kind that can be cooked pretty much dry in an open pan because they're more expensive meat that won't dry and be tough that way.  At Danville Kroger, the roasts just say "oven roast" or "pot roast" on them, so you know.  If you're elsewhere and don't have hints that obvious available, ask a butcher or someone standing next to you.  Or call someone who reminds you of Hermione and ask that person to look the information up on line.

An oven roast (pretty much any size)
Chinese hot mustard (My no-longer-secret ingredient)

A baking pan--like one you'd use for brownies or a cake, with sides
A meat thermometer (or a knife to cut the meat open and look at it)

Multiply the pounds of your roast by 20 minutes a pound, and then add 20 more minutes. That's how long it will cook.

That thing with the ground beef

1 pound ground beef
1 can cream of mushroom soup in a can with a pull-top lid
1/2 of a soup can of milk
1 cup of rice (can be white/quicker or brown/better for you)

A frying pan, a cooking pot with a lid, a big spoon or a metal spatula to stir with, a measuring cup, a stove

Saturday, November 24, 2012

That salad with the orange pieces

It was arugula, oranges, goat cheese, and dried cranberries, with a dressing made with olive oil, lemon, and orange juice concentrate.  I got the recipe from Williams-Sonoma. That is all.

Garlic and little potatoes (two ways)

Both recipes involve two to three pounds of little potatoes and two tablespoons of minced garlic.  My brown-eyed children have two different preferences about how they combine.

Molly's Way
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Put the potatoes in a 13 x 9 baking pan.  If the biggest ones are close to twice the size of the smallest, cut them in half.

Combine the two tablespoons of garlic with three tablespoons of olive oil, and drizzle over the potatoes.

Roast for twenty minutes and then start checking with a fork. When they feel like they'll taste good, they will.

Rebecca's Way

Real chicken soup

Real cooking, where you put in a bunch of effort one day and then have food for several.  

Shopping tips:

1. If you don't already have spices, the list below could get expensive, but you can leave some of them out.
2. If you don't have a great strong spatula or spoon to use getting the chicken out of the pot, buy a chicken that has already been cut up or three or four pounds worth of pieces.  That'll cost a little more, but that beats dropping the chicken.

A whole chicken (preferably one with giblets, preferably 3 to 4 pounds)
1 pound of carrots
2 pounds of potatoes (either little ones or a few big ones)
8 ounces of mushrooms
A yellow onion
Minced garlic
Bay leaf
Better-than-Bouillion chicken
12 ounce package of frozen green beans--the cut up in one-inch chunks kind.

Saltines because you always have to have saltines

Necessary: A soup pot with lid (or a slow cooker), a knife, a carrot peeler, a strong spatula or metal spoon, a big fork
Helpful/optional: A frying pan (optional), a cutting board, a colander

See, you can tell it's real cooking because we're already at the break and not yet at the instructions.

Ten fast meals that are better than pizza

1.  Buy a rotisserie chicken and stuff from the grocery salad bar.

2.  Corned beef hash from a can, with mandarin oranges.

3.  Kraft mac-n-cheese, with peas (because mom always serves them with peas).

4.  Scrambled eggs with rye bread toast and orange juice (because mom pretends that counts as fruit).

Things to eat in the introvert cave

This is about strategy for eating reasonably well while working like a lunatic. It's about buying things that are super easy, and it's kind of about only having a couple people in the house.

1.  Buy a cabbage and cut it in half and then into ribbons.  Put it in the fridge in two or more containers. While working, put one beside the computer.  Later, notice that it's gone.

2.  Buy three or four apples and always have peanut butter.  When hungry, slice up an apple and put it on a plate with two tablespoons of peanut butter.

3.  Buy a bakery loaf of rye bread or some kind of bread with nuts and/or dried fruit in it, and five ounces of goat cheese.  When hungry, saw off a slice of one and spread it with the other.

4. Buy hummus and a red pepper and a cucumber and some blue corn chips.  Make the vegetables into spears and eat half of them with two tablespoons of hummus.  Put the other half in the fridge so you can do it again tomorrow.  Next week, notice the chips and wish you'd remembered to eat them with the hummus that's now kind of dried out. Eat them without the hummus, unless you're Beau and eating like a goat.

Roast Cauliflower

A head of cauliflower
Olive oil

Option 1: salt

Option 2: salt, cumin, cardomom, coriander, turmeric, cayenne

13 x 9 baking pan

Preheat oven to 400.

Cut the leaves off the bottom of the cauliflower so you can see the stem.

Cut the big stem off so you can see the florets.

Break up the florets into chunks the size of golf balls.  The ones that won't break you can halve with a knive.

Arrange the florets in the pan with the florets up, ideally with very little of the pan bottom visible (but it's not a big problem if some shows.)

Choose an option:

  • Option 1: Sprinkle the tops with about two tablespoons of olive oil, not worrying about covering everything.  Sprinkle the tops with salt.
  • Option 2: In a little bowl, combine two tablespoons olive oil, half a teaspoon each of salt and cumin, a quarter teaspoon each of cardamom, coriander, and turmeric, and a pinch of cayenne.  Use a fork or a tiny whisk to mix them together really well.  Dribble that over the florets.

Roast for 20 minutes, then poke with a fork.  If they feel like cooked broccoli feels on your fork, take them out.  If not, roast a little longer.  It's really nice if some of them have brown, slightly crispy bits on the bottom.

Murdered Pot Roast

Cook the roast for way longer than other recipes recommend, either by accident or on purpose.  Lovely caramelization (sweetness and bits of crispness) will result.

3 or 4 pound beef roast (can be a cheap one)
1 pound carrots
8 ounces of mushrooms
1 onion
beef better-than-bouillion
minced garlic
soy sauce

Slow cooker (big dutch oven could work: see notes)

Ingredients To Keep In the House

So, here's the standard stuff I keep around for cooking with...

In the pantry or a cabinet
Rice, pasta, cream of mushroom soup, canned tuna, whole canned tomatoes with no spice and tricky stuff added, tomato paste in the little six ounce cans, catsup, chick peas, flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda

In the fridge
Soy sauce, oyster sauce, hot mustard, Parmesan cheese, butter, minced garlic, Better than Bouillon chicken, Better than Bouillon beef, eggs, milk, sweet gherkins, mayonnaise

In the freezer
Broccoli, green beans, green peas, orange juice concentrate

In the spice cabinet
Olive oil, canola oil, balsamic vinegar, thyme, sage, oregano, parsley, bay leaf, cumin, cardamom, coriander, turmeric, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper

Chana Masala (aka the chick pea thing)

My go-to vegetarian dish.

Olive oil
2 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp each of clove, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, cardamom
2 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1 tsp salt, or to taste
4 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Optional: two Tbsp cilantro (I never have this in the house)
Optional: Yogurt to go on top
Optional: Brown rice to go underneath

Big dutch oven (in a pinch, start with a big frying pan, then switch to a soup pot when you add the chickpeas).

Mix together all the spices except the salt.

Film the bottom of a large saucepan or Dutch oven with olive oil, and place the pan over medium heat. 

Add the onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until it is deeply caramelized and even charred in some spots. Think twenty minutes or more, because the more color, the more full-flavored the final dish will be.

Mouse Galore

1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 can milk
13 ounces of tuna (one big or two small cans)
1 pound egg noodles
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

Put  noodles on to boil according to package directions.

In the casserole dish, mix the soup and and the milk.