Monday, April 27, 2009

How to get your 2 year old to eat vegetables. No, really.

Hide stuff in mashed potatoes. 

When my daughter was a baby, she ate everything. Now that she's two, she eats nothing aside from goldfish crackers, pasta, tofu and eggs. No vegetables. Don't they all love mashed potatoes though? Heck, who doesn't. So I chop stuff up real small, and hide it in the potatoes. And she eats it. I can even go as far as crumbling some tofu in it and making it a one dish meal.

Now, I know you can still see the green mixed in with the white - but I swear, if you chop the vegetables up really super small, then mix them in, it's fine. You really can't taste them, even though they are there.  I like to use something without a strong taste, and that packs a huge nutritional punch -- my favorite is swiss chard, but spinach works too. Broccoli is hit or miss, but cauliflower is easier (although both kinda smell like farts if you ask me). 

If you have a ricer,  you're set. It takes only minutes. Cook the vegetable. Pop the potato in the microwave. Push it through the ricer. Add a little butter, enough broth to reach your mashed potato thickness preference, and then salt and pepper of course. Chop the cooked vegetable as tiny as you can get it and mix it in. That's it. I like to do no more than 20% vegetable in the mix. I don't want to push my luck, if you know what I mean.  

It's good for adults, too! :)

Anyway ... don't take my word for it. I have photographic proof:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Homemade Tomato Soup in 3 Minutes

All I wanted was a bowl of soup for lunch. I don't need a whole pot. Just enough for one person. 

I had half a container of tomatoes left from the previous night's dinner. I added that (about a cup) to a bowl. Then I added about 1/2 cup milk (you could use half & half if you have it and it would be SO YUMMERS!)  I also added a tablespoon of simple syrup, and then a pat of butter. Oh, salt and pepper of course. 

Microwave it until hot, which was 3 minutes at my house. Rich, hearty, cheap, fast and delicious. This makes a chunky tomato soup, but you could blend it first for a smooth soup. If you want it thick, you could add 1/4 teaspoon corn starch before microwaving it. 

Monday, April 13, 2009

Scotch Eggs - As it turns out, they couldn't be simpler to make.

I had picked up some spicy pork sausage while shopping one day, because it sounded good, but wasn't sure what to do with it. Sure, I could totally fry it up and have it for breakfast, but that's too dangerous because we'd eat the whole package since I'd have to cook up the whole package because you can't just use half - then you don't have enough left over to make anything else, so you might as well just cook it all. And I'd do it with the intention of saving some for hash the next day or something, but the reality is that it would never make it to see the next day. So, scratch that idea. I could add it to a pasta dish - that's classic and you can't go wrong there. But... pasta is my go-to thing for the times when I'm lazy and only have boring protein, like chicken. Then it hit me - Scotch Eggs! So, I made them from memory. And I left off the breadcrumb coating, only because I knew these would be fattening enough and the breadcrumbs (or in my case it would have been Panko) would have just held on to more of that fat. So just sausage. And really, isn't that enough?

These could not be easier. You take a hard boiled egg, then wrap it in sausage. There is a tip I can offer though; try to make the sausage coating as even as possible, and don't go too thin because it will "crack" during cooking since the sausage will shrink as the fat melts away. It's not a big deal I guess, but wouldn't look as pretty.  

I used my grill pan so that it would drain the fat a little as it ran off. I cooked these at 350 in the oven until the sausage was cooked through. If you overcook it, you will also have troubles with it cracking. The traditional cooking method is to deep fry these - and if you have a fryer - be my guest, I'm sure they'd be to die for! If you were going to coat them in breadcrumbs, you'd roll them in it after you apply the sausage. 

Fully cooked, golden brown. I served it with crispy potato casserole and a green salad. 

Sunday, April 12, 2009


It's a wonderful day! 

Monday, April 6, 2009

Persian Marinated Grilled Skirt Steak with Ramp Risotto

Oh, how I LOVE Persian food. And one of my favorite things are their kebabs. Chicken or fillet mignon... I love them both. It's the flavor that is special, and until recently, I didn't know what the flavors were exactly, I just knew it was unique and out of this world delicious and we'd often make special trips to Darya just to quench our cravings for the stuff. Now that I have my trusty New Food of Life Persian Cuisine cookbook though, it is a secret no more.

Tonight's dinner -- Persian spiced marinated skirt steak. And since I still have fresh ramps, I made ramp risotto. A bit of a twist to the usual side of plain white basmati rice.

Lets begin:

The meat is whatever you choose. Filet mignon is a classic, so is chicken breast. But I had skirt steak, so that's what I used.

You make a marinade for the meat, and it should marinate for at least 2 hours, and most Persian recipes call for 24 hours. I never plan that far ahead though, so I can't personally tell you if it makes a difference.

For a serving of 4:
1 1/2 to 2 pounds of meat
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground saffron dissolved in 2 Tbsp hot water
1/2 cup of plain yogurt
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 large onion, chopped

Mix all ingredients and then add the meat. If you are going to skewer them, cut them into the chunks before adding to the marinade. For this dinner, I grilled the steaks whole so I left the meat in large pieces. I put it in a ziplock bag and it rested in the fridge for about 3 hours.

For the risotto I started by sauteing the chopped ramps in butter. I also added 1 clove garlic, chopped.

After about 2-3 minutes, I added the rice and mixed to coat it with the butter.

I had fresh chicken stock on hand, so I spooned hot stock into the rice mixture a little at a time, stirring constantly until liquid was absorbed, then I would add more stock. This is repeated until the rice is fully cooked and tender (which means you need to taste it frequently until it's to your liking). Finish it with a sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese and stir into the rice to melt.

When you take the steak out of the marinade, wipe the excess yogurt and onion mixture off with a paper towel. If you are cooking over an open flamed grill, it's less important to have it completely dry -- but if you are cooking it in a pan, try to get it as dry as you can so that it will brown nicely. Too much moisture will steam the steak in a pan, making it tough and rubbery. For best taste, you want a nice brown sear, as seen here. For mine, I wiped them well with a paper towel, then coated the bottom of my pan with canola oil, got the pan really hot, then quickly seared the meat on both sides resulting in a medium to medium rare doneness.

It's plated with the risotto, and then a traditional garnish of tomatoes. And if you have time to grill the tomatoes a bit - even better!

Q: Where can I buy ramps?
A: We get ours from Doug. :) You can e-mail him at wrn453(at) and he will gladly add you to his mailing list to remind you when it is ramp season, and you can order fresh ramps from him too! He also sells them here during season.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Whole Baked Golden Trout with Wild Leek (aka RAMPS, aka Ail des dois) Stuffing

It's April! Happy spring! Aaaaand .... it's RAMP season! Or as the French call them, ail des bois. Wild Leeks. I don't have ramps at my local farmer's market here in southern California (well, not that I've seen anyway) so I get mine from Doug in Ohio -- if you want some too click here but hurry! Ramp season is only about 2 months long! Buy extra so you can make ramp butter out of the leftovers so you can enjoy it all year long.

My package arrived with a big bunch of beautiful ramps in it, and my first recipe was going to be trout with ramps. And I was originally going to make a buttery white wine ramp sauce to go over the trout. But then I got this good loaf of sourdough bread at the store, and well, I ended up making ramp stuffing instead. Ramps taste unique - and it's sort of a onionish-garlicish flavor. Not too strong, but strong enough to really add a lot of flavor. It's really a unique flavor, and there is really nothing else like it.

I cleaned up the ramps, cut the roots off and then diced them along with some white onion, a clove of garlic and a celery stalk. (I was only making stuffing for 2 people).

Saute the celery and white onion in about 2 tablespoons of butter for about 3-4 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Then I diced the bread into cubes. About 2 cups worth.

Since I was only using the green parts of the ramps for this recipe (the white parts are being saved for tonight's recipe of ramp risotto!) I added them last so they wouldn't overcook. Lightly toss the ramps with the butter and cooked vegetables.

I just happened to have a huge batch of fresh chicken stock that I had made yesterday also, so I added the bread and sauteed vegetables in a bowl, then added chicken stock a little at a time until the bread was wet but not soggy.

I bought the trout fresh yesterday at the Santa Monica Seafood Market, and I had them de-bone it for me, but leave it whole for presentation.

Now -- stuff the fish! I added equal amounts of stuffing, then folded the fish over. Nothing else added, other than a drizzle of olive oil on the top, and a sprinkling of salt.

The oven was set to 450, and my rule of thumb for fish is - 10 minutes per inch of thickness in a 450 oven. It works every time. The fish, stuffing included, was just about 2 inches, so I set the timer for 20 minutes.

It came out perfect. The stuffing was buttery and moist, and the ramp flavor is like nothing else. Just delicious! The fish was tender and flaky. Served whole - It was a one dish meal. Next up: Ramp Risotto

Q: Where can I buy ramps?
A: From Doug. :) You can e-mail him at wrn453(at) and he will gladly add you to his mailing list to remind you when it is ramp season, and you can order fresh ramps from him too!