Eggplant Ratatouille

My mother called this “chambaut”, and that’s the phonetic spelling.  She said it meant mixed up pot, in what language I can’t say.  She never wrote down the recipe since it was just something she made when there were plenty of eggplant and zucchini in the garden.  She might have also added some cooked potatoes to the mix.

1 globe eggplant, peeled and diced
2 medium zucchini, diced
1 large yellow onion, sliced
1 sweet pepper, sliced (any color)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (32 oz.) whole tomatoes (packed in juice not puree)
several sprigs of fresh parsley, finely chopped
fresh basil leaves (about 6), finely chopped
salt to taste
olive oil and/or butter

In a wide (3 quart) pot saute the eggplant, then the zucchini in olive oil for a couple minutes, until lightly browned. In the meantime, in a large frying pan over medium heat saute the onions, peppers and garlic until beginning to soften.

Drain the tomatoes, reserve the juice for another dish. Slice the tomatoes into thin strips and add to the onions and peppers. Continue to cook just until they soften and add to the eggplant and zucchini. Add salt and parsley and some of the basil. Cover and simmer until everything is softened and the flavors meld. If the mixture seems to dry, add some of the reserved juice

Finish with the remaining basil. Mom would have added a tablespoon of butter.


Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies

Adapted from the Craisins package.

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
2 cups oatmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/3 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups cranberries
1 cup white chocolate chips

In a medium bowl combine oatmeal, flours, baking soda and salt. Stir  and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition. Slowly add flour mixture until well combined. Stir in cranberries and chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake at 375ˆF  10-12 minutes.

Stuffed Mushrooms

This recipe was inspired by my dear friend Shari. This is such a forgiving recipe, if there seems to be too much filling, just pile the stuffing a little higher.

Stuffed Mushroom

Stuffed Mushroom ready for the oven

15 large mushrooms, washed and stemmed, reserve the stems for the filling
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 medium size carrots, finely chopped
2 medium onions, finely chopped
3-4 sprigs of parsley, minced (optional)
mushroom stems, finely chopped
2 sprigs of sage, minced (optional)
3/4 cup of seasoned dry bread crumbs
milk or cream
Romano cheese
salt & paprika

Lightly oil a shallow casserole dish and arrange the mushrooms, bottoms up. Brush the mushrooms with canola oil or melted butter.

Heat 2 tablespoons of butter and/or oil over medium heat in a non-stick pan. Saute the celery and carrots for a few minutes. Add the chopped onions and continue to cook until softened. Add the chopped mushroom stems and herbs. Continue to cook until soft and beginning to brown.

Mix sauteed vegetables with bread crumbs, salt and a sprinkling of paprika. Bind the mixture together with the milk or cream, about 2 tablespoons. The mixture should be moist but not wet.

Stuff the mushrooms and sprinkle with paprika and some grated Romano cheese. Bake at 400˚F about 20-30 minutes until the mushrooms are tender and the top begins to brown.

Tomatillo Salsa

I like to make this salsa with raw tomatillos.  If you prefer, you could cook them in boiling salted water for about 10 minutes, drain and then proceed.

1 pound tomatillos, paper skin removed and washed, quartered
2 jalapenos, seeded and ribs removed if you want to tame the heat
1 cup cilantro
1 garlic clove
1 small onion, coarsely cut
salt to taste

Place all in a food processor and pulse. The mixture should have some texture.

Turkey Burgers

This recipe is adapted from Eating Well.

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. couscous cooked in 1/2 cup boiling water.

Saute in 2 Tbsp. olive oil until softened:
1 small onion, minced
1 stalk celery, minced

Add to frying pan:
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme
1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh sage
1/2 tsp. salt
freshly ground pepper
Heat until fragrant. Cool.

1 lb. ground turkey
1/4 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
the cooked couscous and onion mixture

Form into patties, makes about 6 very large burgers.
Grill or fry.

Scottish Shortbread

A friend of my husband’s gave us this recipe. It works well and is delicious.

2 cups flour
2 sticks (1/2 lb.) butter
1/4 cup rice flour
1/2 cup superfine (bar) sugar

Lay out all ingredients on table with butter on top. Allow to soften for 15 minutes. Work with hands until dough is like putty. Roll out about 12 at a time about 1/2″ thick. Cut in desired shapes (need deep cookie cutters, about 2″ across) and prick with fork.

Bake on ungreased cookie sheets in 325˚ oven for about 20-25 minutes. Remove when just turning brown on edges, and allow to cool briefly on cookie sheets. They will brown up.

Note: Shortbread should only be made in cold weather, as the butter softens too fast in warm weather, making cookies tough.

Sushi Rice

2 cups rice
3 cups water

Wash rice. Soak in water about 30 minutes. Cook.

Sushi Su – combine:
1/2 cup rice vinegar
4 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Put cooked rice in a large bowl and combine with sushi su, fanning mixture. Use while warm.

Chickpea Salad with Fennel

Someday I will find the cookbook that this came from and give it the proper citation.

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
salt & pepper
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Combine all except the olive oil, whisk in the oil to emulsify.

2 cups chickpeas
1 small fennel, sliced thin
2 tomatoes, diced
10 black olives, pitted and halved
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/3 cup chopped parsley

Stir all ingredients together and allow to marinate at least an hour. Garnish with fennel sprigs.

Some crumbled feta or goat cheese makes a nice addition.

Most of my family finds raw fennel too strong. Sauteing the fennel first, in a bit of oil, mellows the flavor.

Sloppy Joe

I have found that this recipe works well as vegetarian dish too. For the beef I have substituted TVP; a mixture of finely chopped vegetables like zucchini, carrots and mushrooms; beans; or some combination of these.  You will need about 3 cups of vegetables to start.

1 pound ground beef (or some other protein source)
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
2 Tbsp. quick cooking oats
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (use soy sauce for vegetarians)
1/2 tsp. chili powder
Dash hot pepper sauce
salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp. dried mustard

Brown beef, onion and celery, drain excess fat. Stir in remaining ingredients and 1/2 cup of water. Simmer about 30 minutes until thickened.

Serve on toasted buns.

Split Pea Soup

Put all the following ingredients in a large pot.  Add enough water to just cover all. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the peas are tender, about 2 hours.  Skim off any foam that rises to the surface.

Ham Bone
2 or 3 carrots, scrubbed and sliced
2-3 stalks of celery, sliced
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
bay leaf
pepper, a few grinds
1 pound split peas

Once the peas are soft add salt to taste.

To make this a vegetarian split pea soup, leave out the ham (obviously), add an additional carrot and onion and use vegetable broth instead of water.