Category Archives: Recipes

Greek Pie Crust

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Part of the Zucchini and Herb Pie recipe requires a greek pie crust. The recipe for said crust is also in the Mediterranean Harvest cookbook. It’s fairly simple and straight-forward… and pretty tasty!

Ingredients:
2.25 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3/4 cup water

Pie Dough Ingredients

Steps:
1. In a bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Make a well in the center and add the olive oil, vinegar, and water. Mix with a fork just until the dough comes together.

2. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead just until smooth, no longer than a minute. Divide the dough in half. Press each half into a circle about 4 inches in diameter. Dust with flour if the dough is sticky.

Pie Crust Dough Sitting

3. Wrap tightly in plastic and let rest for 1 hour at room temperature. If you aren’t using it right away, you can keep it in the fridge for up to 3 hours.

Enjoy!

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Zucchini and Herb Pie

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Along with making some fresh pasta from scratch, we also made a zucchini and herb pie. Again, this recipe came from the Mediterranean Harvest cookbook (it’s a winner)! Per usual, we changed up some of the ingredients and made our own pie combination. It looks awesome- haven’t tried it yet but I bet it’s a good one!!!

Ingredients:
3 pounds zucchini (we used a combo of zucchini and yellow squash- about 6 squashes total)
3 tablespoons olive oil (we only used 2)
2 large onions, finely chopped (we used 1/3 medium onion and 1 large red pepper)
5 to 6 squash blossoms, chopped or 1 medium carrot, shredded (we used about 6 baby carrots, shredded)
1 cup finely shopped wild fennel or dill, or a combination
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Leaves from 5-6 sprigs fresh oregano, chopped (optional)
7 ounces crumbled feta (we used 6 ounces)
2 large eggs, beaten
Salt/Pepper
Greek Pie Crust

Steps:
1. Grate the zucchini and squash in a food processor or on the large holes of a box grater. Place in a large colander, salt generously, and let drain for 1 hour, pressing down occasionally to squeeze out liquid.

2. After an hour, wrap shredded squash in a towel and twist to remove the excess water.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the onions (we added the onion and red pepper). If you want you can add an additional tablespoon of olive oil at this stage. Add in the carrots, herbs, feta, eggs, pepper, and salt to taste.

4. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 12-inch pie pan. Place 1/2 the pie dough in the bottom of the pan. The easiest way to do this to roll out the dough so that it is about 2 inches wider than the pie pan so that when you place it into the pan you can spread it up the sides.

5. Scoop the veggie mix into the pie crust.

6. Roll out the other 1/2 of the pasta dough and place on top of the pie/veggie combo. Score the top of the pie in a few places, brush with olive oil. Bake in the oven for 1 hour, until it is golden-brown.

7. Cool on a rack to room temperature.

Enjoy!

Homemade Pasta from Scratch!

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Andrew with Some Freshly Smoothed Pasta Dough

Last night we made a simple vegetable broth and a phenomenal winter squash risotto. Both recipes came from the cookbook, Mediterranean Harvest. The recipes were so good that we decided to dive in again and try some more tonight. The first was a recipe for pasta dough. For Christmas, my parents gave us a pasta maker which is awesome! We have been really interested in making our own pasta for a while, so this made it even more possible. When I saw the recipe for pasta dough in the cookbook we received from Andrew’s parents, it was as if the starts aligned :0). Below is the recipe we used for the pasta dough. We altered it slightly from the recipe in the cookbook, but the results were fantastic. As we “speak” the fettuccine is drying on the pasta drying rack in our kitchen. I can’t wait to try this batch out and start making some more unique recipes!

 

Pasta Dough Ingredients

Ingredients:
3 scant cups unbleached all-purpose flour (we used 1.5 cups of flour and 1.5 cups of semolina flour)
3/4 teaspoon salt (We used freshly ground sea salt from my brother!)
3 large eggs
2-3 tablespoons water (We used 3)

Steps:
1. Place the flour and salt in a food processor fitted with the steel blade, and pulse a few times to combine. Although we have a food processor, we didn’t use one. We simply mixed the flours and salt in a large bowl.

2. Add the eggs and 2 tablespoons and process until dough comes together in a ball. If it seems dry, add another tablespoon of after. Again, we stirred by hand and ended up needing to add 1 additional tablespoon of water.

Part I of Step 2

Part II Step 2

3. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Knead by hand for a few minutes, until you have a smooth ball. Wrap in plasatic and let rest on the counter for 30 minutes to an hour. We let our dough sit for about 35 minutes.

Pasta Dough in a Ball

4. After the allotted sitting time, cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. While working with one piece, keep the other 3 pieces covered with the plastic wrap. Set the rollers at the widest opening, flatten the piece of dough so that its width will fit inside the pasta machine roller. Run the piece of dough through the machine at the widest opening.

One Quarter of Pasta Dough

5. If the pasta is too sticky, dust with flour. Change the pasta machine opening to a smaller opening and run the flattened pasta dough through the machine.

Running Pasta Dough Through Machine

6. Continue to run the pasta through the pasta machine at a decreasing width rate until desired thickness.

Threading Pasta Dough Through the Machine

7. Choose your desired pasta cut (a standard machine does regular pasta and fettuccine). Place the handle into the appropriate cutter slot and run your thinned and smoothed piece of pasta dough (from Step #6) through the cutter. If it doesn’t cut, the dough is too sticky and needs to have some flour added to it. It’s important to note that having two people to work the pasta machine seemed to be extremely helpful.

Fettuccine Coming Out of the Machine

8. Immediately hang your pasta on the drying rack and make sure to separate each noodle so that the dough does not stick together. Repeat Steps 4-8 for the remaining three pieces of pasta dough.

Fettucine Hanging on a Drying Rack

9. Let noodles dry for at least 30 minutes. Pasta can be stored for up to two weeks in a closed jar.

Pasta Drying

Enjoy!

Simple Vegetable Broth

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As my previous post covered, we’re working on trying out some new recipes and our first was a Winter Squash Risotto. The risotto calls for 7 cups of a broth, be it vegetable or chicken or what not. We opted to make our own vegetable broth from scratch. We roughly used a recipe provided by Mediterranean Harvest, but re-wrote it to meet the demands of our refrigerator. In other words, we wanted to use up some of the aging veggies in our produce drawers. Below is the recipe which we used- it was flavorful and just down-right perfect! I can’t wait to try it out in a minestrone soup!

Ingredients:
30 Baby carrots, thickly chopped (this equates roughly to 4 regular sized carrots)
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 head of garlic, each clove crushed
1 leek, all parts washed and chopped
2 radishes, quartered
1 small bok choy, chopped
Oregano stems
Parsley stems
1 bay leaf
8 cups of water
Salt/Pepper

 

Steps:
1. Combine all the ingredients (except the salt and pepper) in a large soup pot. Add salt and pepper to taste (I hate when books say this because at this point in the recipe, there’s nothing to taste). Basically, I twisted the salt and pepper grinders about 5 times. You can always add more after the broth cooks. Bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat (low-medium) and cover partially. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Longer will make the broth stronger.

2. Strain out the vegetables and set aside for another use or discard. Your broth is ready to go. If you aren’t going to use it right away, be sure to freeze it to best preserve it!

Enjoy!

 

Winter Squash Risotto

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Two of the gifts which received for Christmas included a wonderful Vegetarian Cookbook entitled, Mediterranean Harvest (Author: Martha Rose Shulman) and a beautiful knife set. Naturally, we have been anxious to both of these to use. So, on Christmas, we randomly turned to three pages and wrote down three meals that we would try to make this week. Tonight we made the first of these, the Winter Squash Risotto. I had been wanting to try risotto for a while, having never done it, and we figured this would be an excellent recipe because winter squash is in season! Below is the recipe  along with our changes/additions to the recipe in the cookbook. I must say, it turned out wonderfully and was so delicious. I’d definitely recommend it; it is hardy with just the right amount of sweetness.

Ingredients:
7 cups Vegetable or Chicken Broth (We made vegetable broth from  
     scratch. The recipe can be found here.)
2 tablespoons olive oil or unsalted butter (We used olive oil)
1 small or 1/2 medium onion, chopped (We used about 1/3 of a medium
    onion)
1 pound winter squash, any kind (We used part butternut and part
    acorn)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1.5 cups arborio or carnaroli rice (We used arborio)
1/2 cup dry white wine (We used a sustainably farmed chardonnay- it
     cost $6 for the bottle)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage, optional (We used this and I highly recommend it. It was 4 leaves)
1/4 to 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (We used 1/2 cup)
Freshly grated nutmeg (We didn’t put this in- didn’t have it in the pantry at the time)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (We basically pulled about 10 leaves off and chopped them)
Salt and pepper

Steps:

1. Place your broth into a saucepan and bring it to a simmer on the stove. You’re going to leave it simmering throughout the whole process. You will need a ladle nearby (we used a 1 cup measure). Make sure you like the flavor of the broth- if you make your own, ensure that it is well salted.

2. Heat the oil or butter/oil combination in a large nonstick skillet. We used a large frying pan, as that’s about all we had besides a wok. This recipe makes a large portion of risotto so be sure your pan is large! Add the onion to the oil and and cook it, stirring occasionally until the onion begins to soften. This takes 3 minutes on medium (1 notch away from being straight down for our stove- or a number 4).

Olive oil and onion

3. After the 3 minutes in step#2, add the squash, garlic, and about 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring, until the squash begins to soften, about 3 minutes (our squash took more like 5 minutes).

Squash and garlic

4. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until the grains of rice separate. Now, what exactly this means, I am not sure. We basically stirred and cooked until it appeared as though the rice grains were not sticking as much to the squash (about 10 minutes).

Squash mix and rice

5. Stir in the wine and cook stirring constantly. The wine should bubble but not to quickly (we found that we had to turn our heat down a pinch for here on out). When the wine has evaporated (aka there is no liquid in the pan), stir in a cup or two of broth so that it covers the rice and squash (our pan used two).

Broth added to the risotto

6. The broth should have a light boil (by this I mean not a rapid intense over the top of the pan boil, but a slow, won’t overflow, just beginning to boil, boil). Basically you cook the risotto and stir often until the liquid is absorbed. Then, you add the sage and another cup of broth. Again you stir and cook until the liquid is absorbed.

7. Continue to follow this process of adding broth and stirring/cooking until absorbed, then adding broth again until the rice is al dente or cooked to your taste. While the cookbook calls for 20 to 25 minutes, I probably cooked, added broth, and stirred for more like 35 minutes. You can taste and adjust seasonings- it was at this point that I added fresh ground pepper and salt.

Cooking and stirring the risotto

8. When the rice is cooked to your liking, add 1/3 cup of the broth along with the Parmesan cheese and the parsley. You would also add the nutmeg at this point. Immediately remove the pan from the burner. Mix the risotto well, taste it, and adjust salt/pepper/other seasonings as you deem necessary. The rice should be creamy and you should serve immediately.

Finished risotto

Again, this dish was absolutely delicious and I would recommend it to anyone who has a little bit of time to put into creating a delicious meal. Easily, removing the cooking your own broth would save about 45 minutes from chopping to boiling to simmering, but the homemade broth was worth the effort as well!

A Weekend at Home

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This weekend was our first weekend at home in a while. Even though we cleaned and ran a lot of errands, it was fantastic… mostly because I finished all of my grad school homework for the upcoming week on Friday night so Saturday and Sunday, we got to sleep in! And sleep in we did– at least on Sunday. I slept until 10:30AM!!! I can’t even remember the last time I slept that late. What a great feeling. I don’t think I really ever thought about how much work it would be having a full-time job and going to grad school part time. It’s a lot. I find myself constantly doing work and I feel bad for Andrew because I come home from work and sit down at my, er his, desk and go to work and just hope that he’ll make dinner and what not. He’s been amazing… really. I don’t know how I would do it otherwise. School and work keep me in a constant state of stress, not to mention the added fun of random side effects and drugs that I have to take to try to feel normal.

What an odd thing to say; I’ve always prided myself on not being normal, so it’s funny that I am now trying to find the right combination of drugs to be normal. Ah life, so entertaining. Feeling wise, my jaw hasn’t acted up since last weekend, my injection site is a big red bullseye, and my back has been really sore… so all in all, the usual. I do have the added pain in the butt of my fingers, wrists, and hands just giving up on life constantly. They are super sore and I am finding it hard to grasp things or squeeze things (say like a bottle of spray cleaner). They tighten up and feel like someone is beating them. The funny thing is, I don’t know if that’s the ankylosing spondylitis, the grad school/work combo, stress in general, or what… but regardless I am trying to figure out how to make it better.

I am confident that I’ll figure something out! My next follow up appointment is next week and I just passed the month mark of giving myself injections (where does time go?) so I’m sure soon enough I will find something that works well.

On to more uplifting things… this weekend we got some rearranging done in the apartment, we tried to clean the carpets, we cleaned up the kitchen, we watched some movies, and we made baked lasagna-like spaghetti squash. I can’t wait to try it out! Here are some pictures:

1. First you roast a spaghetti squash in the oven

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. After the squash cools, you shred it like spaghetti, using a fork and mix it with some ricotta cheese.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. In a baking pan you spray with pam or olive oil and then spread pasta sauce or marinara on the bottom to coat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. You spread the squash-ricotta mix on top of the sauce in the pan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Then you spread some fresh basil and dollops of marinara or sauce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Then you sprinkle on some Mozzarella cheese and a couple dashes of parmesan cheese.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. You cover the whole thing with foil and then bake for 15minutes (until the cheese melts). You remove the foil and bake 5 minutes longer to brown to preference. This is how it looks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guess we’ll see how it tastes tomorrow!

PSA: Arugula

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Arugula is a salad green. It is low in calories and high in Vitamin A and C. It was originally seen a lot in Italy and France but spread to the US more recently (think the 90s). It is spicy and bitter and sometimes described as a “peppery mustard” flavor. You can pretty much do anything with it from using it as a salad green to sauteeing it to using it as lettuce on a sandwich. It’s pretty inexpensive and in my experience, lasts longer than a mixed greens box or bag you may get at the store. Some of the things that we’ve made recently with it include…

1. Throwing it in with some pasta and letting it wilt- adds fantastic flavor and adds a great veggie to a pasta dish!

2. We cooked some stead and made steak sandwiches on a french baguette with fresh crisp arugula and parmesan cheese!

3. Similar to #1, I cooked up some spaghetti squash (just cut in half and roast face down for about an hour or until fork tender). Then scoop out the seeds and discard. Using a fork, shred out the “spaghettis” and put aside. In a frying pan on the stove, cook some small cherry tomatoes cut in half with green bell pepper, fresh garlic, salt, pepper, and arugula. Let it cook so the tomatoes break down and all the fragrances and flavors blend. Add the spaghetti squash and toss well with the “sauce.”

These are just a few ways to use arugula. How do you use it?