Global Gourmet

Bubble & Squeak

Wait ’til you see the looks on your family’s face when you tell them you are making “Bubble & Squeak” for dinner!

This British classic is typically served for Monday lunch or dinner using leftovers from Sunday’s roast. Leave it to the Brits to come up with this ingeniously thrifty concept and a clever name to go with it. In the States, we would probably just call this “hash.”

Ingredients

4 TBS butter

1/4-1/2 cup onion, chopped

2 cups potatoes, mashed or roasted

Leftover cooked vegetables (cabbage, carrots, peas, kale, etc)

Fried bacon pieces (optional)

Directions

Melt butter in a large frying pan. Over medium low heat, fry uncooked veggies like carrots, about 3 minutes, stirring often. Add onions and fry until softened, another 2-3 minutes. Turn heat to medium or slightly higher and add mashed potatoes and other cooked vegetables, and bacon if using.

Fry about 7-10 minutes, flipping/stirring two to three times to keep the mixture pleasantly browning but not burning. Press potato mixture to the bottom of the pan with a spatula, let cook one minute or until golden brown. Serve hot.

Nat’s Notes:

* There’s no “perfect” recipe for this dish, which makes it ideal for improvisation. The one essential ingredient is mashed potatoes, as the “glue” that holds everything together.

* “Bubble & Squeak” comes from the sound that the dish makes as it cooks.

* If using raw vegetables, cook them first and make sure they are soft before adding other ingredients.

* Consider making these into small patties instead of frying everything together.

* This dish is often served with a side of fried egg, bacon, or meat leftovers.

French Lasagna

The secret to this recipe is in the bechamel (or white) sauce. Sooooo yummy! This is by far the best lasagna I’ve ever tasted.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 medium onion, chopped

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

1 lb ground hamburger meat, lean

1 large can whole tomatoes, loosely chopped or separated by hand

2-3 medium cans of tomato sauce

Italian herbs and spices, like oregano and marjoram

1 box commercial lasagna noodles, either regular, whole wheat or spinach

2 cups shredded Swiss cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

For white sauce:

2 TBS margarine

1/4 cup chopped onions

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 to 1/2 cup flour

1 can evaporated milk

1/2 cup – 2/3 cup water

DIRECTIONS

In one skillet, cook up the hamburger with the onions and garlic not reserved for the bechamel sauce. Drain the fat, then add tomatoes and tomato sauce. Sprinkle with Italian herbs and spices and simmer 20 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, prepare the bechamel sauce in another skillet. Brown the additional onions and garlic in margarine. Then sprinkle this with the flour, just enough to cover; stir. When this is blended (you may need to add more margarine), pour in the can of evaporated — not condensed, mind you! — milk, slowly stirring as it thickens. As the sauce thickens, add water until the sauce is smooth and creamy but not too thick. You want to make sure you have enough for several layers of lasagna.

Then, butter a large casserole dish and pour in a layer of the white sauce, followed by a layer of meat sauce sprinkled with shredded Swiss cheese. Repeat this process using up the two sauces. End with a layer of white sauce, sprinkled well with shredded Swiss and grated Parmesan.

Cook in a medium oven (about 350 degrees) for 30-40 minutes. The cheese should bubble up on the sides.

Nat’s Notes:

  • It’s easier to cut and serve if it sets 10 minutes or so before it’s cut.
  • In order for it to be moist and not dry, the meat and tomato sauce should be rather liquid as it’s poured to form the layers.

Super Simple Crepe Recipe

After searching for years, I’ve finally found a simple but tasty crepe recipe that I can just throw together whenever I have a crepe craving. I used to be discouraged by the fact that it takes years of practicing fancy wrist maneuvers to make the perfect crepe, but fortunately a crepe of any shape and size tastes equally delicious. Crepes can be savory or sweet, depending on what you put inside. In France, there’s a whole gamut of crepes and “galettes” with a different recipe for every filling but this simplified recipe allows for maximum flexibility and will work as well for a fast, easy dinner as for a wonderful dessert.

INGREDIENTS

2 eggs

½ cup milk

½ cup water

2 TBS butter, melted

1 cup all-purposed flour

¼ tsp salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine first four ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Gradually add in dry ingredients, whipping until smooth.
  2. Lightly oil a griddle or crepe pan and heat to medium-high.
  3. Holding the griddle off the heat, use a ¼ cup measure to scoop out batter onto the griddle. Immediately tilt the pan in a
    circular motion so the batter spreads over the surface.
  4. Cook for a minute or two, monitoring the surfaces and edges of the crepe. Flip the crepe with a spatula when edges start
    to curl and “bubbles” have formed over most of the surface.
  5. Cook for about a half minute to a minute on the other side, then set aside and repeat for the next crepe.

Nat’s Notes:

  • Crepes are best served hot right off the griddle – but in a pinch they can be reheated for a few seconds in the microwave.
  • To serve crepes, fold them either in triangles, or “enchilada style,” or if there’s a bunch of filling, fold up the sides so that the crepe looks like an overweight man in a jacket that’s too small for him.
  • Try a savory ham and cheese crepe. Heat griddle to medium and stick already-made crepe back in the pan. Quickly add pieces of ham, grated Swiss cheese and a dollop of sour cream, fold up the crepe with a spatula and heat until cheese has melted.

Fresh Peach Pie With Glaze

One of the delights of summer is the proliferation of roadside stands selling fresh, local produce. This is the tail end of peach season but you should still be able to find some ripe, delicious specimens for this easy, no-bake pie. (Thanks to my cousin Michelle for this great recipe, which became an instant hit. I’d have a picture of the finished pie but someone in my household chose to take a piece while it was chilling!)

Best with sweet, ripe peaches

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar (or less, depending on taste and tartness of peaches)
1/4 cup cornstarch
dash nutmeg
dash salt
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 1/2 cups pureed peaches
3 1/2 cups sliced fresh peaches
Directions:
  1. Bake pie crust (choose “roll out” ready-made refrigerated crusts for ultimate simplicity)
  2. Slice peaches and arrange in pie crust.
  3. Puree 2 1/2 cups peaches in blender.
  4. Combine sugar, cornstarch, nutmeg, salt, water, lemon juice and pureed
    peaches.
  5. Cook on medium heat for 5-7 min, stirring constantly, until glaze begins to
    thicken.
  6. Pour glaze over peaches in pie crust.
  7. Chill 3 hours.

Peach pie heaven!

Nat’s Notes:

* You can cheat a little and have fewer pureed peaches and more peaches — it’s pretty much a no-fail pie.

* Don’t expect the pie to “set.” It will look more like a cobbler than a pie.

 

Williams Sonoma Cobb Salad

The Cobb Salad was invented by the LA-based Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant in the 1930s and named for the restaurant’s owner, Robert Howard Cobb. This version is modified from one I found in the Williams Sonoma Collection.

Cobb Salad

Ingredients

¾ bag of romaine lettuce torn into bite-sized pieces

1 large tomato, chopped

6 slices crisp bacon, crumbled

Boiled or roasted chicken (2 chicken breasts), chopped

3 peeled hard-boiled eggs, chopped

1 avocado, cubed

Chives (decoration)

¼ lb (125 g) of blue cheese + 1 oz for dressing, crumbled

Chopped walnuts

Cilantro, washed and roughly chopped

Vinaigrette:

¼ cup red wine vinegar

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

½ tsp Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, crushed and then minced

Salt and ground pepper

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Make a bed of romaine lettuce in a large platter or shallow bowl. Arrange in strips the ingredients (order doesn’t really matter): chicken, egg, bacon, cheese, tomato, cilantro, avocado, walnuts, and chives for garnish.

For the vinaigrette, whisk together in a small bowl the vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic, ¼ tsp salt, and ½ tsp pepper. Using a fork, mash in the remaining 1 oz cheese to make a paste. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil to form a thick dressing. Transfer to a glass jar with a lid if not serving immediately.

A Berry Parfait

Parfait means “perfect” in French … and this tasty, healthy, and beautiful treat is perfect at any time of the day, whether as a nutritious breakfast, sweet snack or light dessert.

Ingredients

(There are no measurements, as everything is “to taste.”)

Blackberries, whole

Blueberries, whole

Strawberries, sliced lengthwise

Strawberries, whole

Vanilla-flavored yogurt

Granola cereal

Directions

Place several washed strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries in a clear glass or cup. Add a couple spoonfuls of yogurt and let it seep down through the berries. Add an additional layer of berries. Cover with more yogurt, then sprinkle with granola. Top with a whole strawberry with stem.

Bon appetit!

Ham and Potato Au Gratin

Ham & Potatoes Au Gratin

To the discriminating palate, rarely is store-bought fare as good as home-made. But there are a few glorious exceptions. One of those is brownies: who makes “from scratch” home-made brownies these days?? Why would you, when there’s a box mix to suit every possible chocolate craving?

One other exception is potatoes au gratin. Now, au gratin sounds like a fancy French term, right? Would you believe the literal meaning is “with the scraping” (i.e. the burnt part)? Doesn’t everything sound better in French?

Anyway, here is a fun, easy, quick, deeee-licious recipe that takes a store-bought box of potatoes au gratin and improves on it so that it tastes completely home-made.

(Note: Try pairing with a fresh garden salad!)

Ingredients

1 box Betty Crocker au gratin potatoes

2 cups boiling water

1/2 cup milk

2 TBS margarine or butter

1/2 cup cubed ham steak, uncooked

1/4 cup chopped red onion, optional

Chopped parsley, fresh or dried, optional

Directions

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Stir sauce mix from package, boiling water, milk and margarine or butter with whisk in 1 1/2-quart casserole dish. Stir in potatoes from package.

2. Add ham and onions, stirring gently to distribute. Sprinkle lightly with parsley flakes.

3. Bake uncovered about 25 minutes or until top is golden brown and potatoes are tender (sauce will thicken as it stands).

French Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup

The combination of this homemade soup and the spring-sweet breeze drifting in from the open windows brings back memories of France, where lentils are a popular dish. Lentils don’t require overnight soaking and make an inexpensive, quick, nutritious lunch or dinner.

Ingredients

1 lb bag dried lentils

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped carrots

2 garlic cloves, whole

6-8 cups of hot water

1 chicken bouillon cube

3-4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth

Seasonings to taste (sea salt, freshly ground pepper, seasoning salt, parsley)

Cubed ham or ham hock, optional

Vinegar for serving, optional

Directions

Before cooking, pour lentils out on a clean counter and quickly sort through them for any little rocks, then rinse well. In a large pot, mix lentils with hot water over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrots and garlic. Add ham, if using. Add bouillon. Cook over medium heat until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes, with lid tilted. Turn down heat to low and simmer until desired consistency is reached. Add seasonings to taste.

During the cooking process, lentils will absorb the liquid. Add water or broth for more or less “soupiness.” Serve hot, with or without a dash of vinegar.

Nat’s Notes:

Lentils are a nutritional All-Star:

  • One-fourth cup of lentils contains a whopping 11 grams of fiber – 43% of your daily value — and no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium, 320mg of potassium and 20% of your daily value of iron.
  • Lentils also contain high levels of protein, high levels of minerals, and are very low in calories.
  • Lentils are an excellent source of iron, especially for celiacs.

Chicken in French Cream Sauce

 

1/4 cup butter

Chicken in French Cream Sauce

If I were having guests over and wanted to fix something “French,” I would serve this Chicken in French Cream Sauce. I got the recipe from my mom who in turn got it in France from a friend of hers.

3 whole chicken breasts, split in half

1 lg garlic clove, finely chopped

2 Tbsp chopped shallots

1/4 lb fresh mushrooms, washed and sliced

2 Tbsp flour

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup white wine

1 bay leaf

1/4 tsp thyme

1/8 tsp marjoram

2 Tbsp chopped parsley

1/2 cup heavy cream

Salt and pepper chicken and brown in 1/4 cup butter in heavy skillet. Remove. Add garlic, shallots and mushrooms to butter in skillet and cook for 3 minutes. Sprinkle with flour and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Blend in broth slowly, then white wine. Add herbs and bay leaf and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping pan. Simmer 5 minutes. Return chicken to pan and cook until tender. Add cream and simmer. Do not boil. Season to taste and pour sauce over chicken. Serve over noodles or rice. Serves 6.

Nat’s Notes:

  • Chop up and portion out everything before you begin to make meal preparation a lot simpler.
  • Steamed broccoli or asparagus make a tasty and healthy side dish.

Lemon Scones

My friend Mel Elliot made these scones for an Oxford gathering a couple of years ago and they were a huge success. In fact, on the strength of these scones, several people encouraged her to open her own bakery! Scones are best enjoyed warm with butter and jam or, ideally, with clotted cream.

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tablespoon lemon zest

½ teaspoon salt

¾ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled

1 cup half-and-half cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Place all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl
  3. Cut butter into dry ingredients until it resembles coarse meal
  4. Stir together ¾ cup cream and vanilla and add to dough
  5. Mix just until dough comes together
  6. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Roll dough twice to an inch thick, each time folding in half (this is the secret to a flaky scone)
  7. Roll dough to ¾-1 inch thick and cut desired shapes
  8. Place on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet and brush with remaining cream

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until tops are nicely browned. Makes 12 large scones.

Quiche LorraineQuiche Lorraine

Quiches are easy to make and take under an hour from start to finish, making them an ideal weeknight dinner item, and – the bonus – can be served hot or cold. Another good thing about quiche … the divine smell that fills the house. And to the person who coined the phrase about men and quiche I would point out that a basic quiche consists of bacon, eggs, cheese and looks like a pie — what’s not to love?

Ingredients

Pastry for 9-inch pie

8 slices bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces

¼ cup chopped green onions

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese

6 eggs, beaten

1 cup whipping cream

½ tsp salt

Dash of white pepper

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

Ground nutmeg

Directions

Line a 9-inch quiche dish (any round pie dish will do) with pastry. Trim excess pastry around edges. Prick bottom and sides of pastry with a fork. Bake at 400° for 3 minutes, remove from oven, and gently prick with a fork. Bake an additional 5 minutes.

Mix together the Swiss and Cheddar and divide mixture in half. Sauté bacon and onions in a skillet until browned; drain well, and sprinkle evenly in pastry shell. Top with 1 cup cheese and set aside.

Combine eggs, cream, salt, and pepper and 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg, stirring well. Pour mixture into pastry shell, and top with remaining 1 cup cheese. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until set. Let stand 10 minutes.

Nat’s Notes:

  • I use a pair of kitchen shears to cut up the bacon and onions.
  • I find it’s worth the time to make a super-easy homemade piecrust instead of using a store-bought one.
  • Better to undercook the quiche than to overcook it. It will set a bit during the cooling period. You can always put it back in the oven if needed.

Mexican Tortilla Soup

Makes 6 servings. Prep 15 minutes. Cook 23 minutes.

Ingredients

1 TBS vegetable oil

1 medium-size green pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1 TBS chili powder

5 cups low-sodium chicken broth

3 cups cooked, shredded chicken (from a rotisserie chicken; easiest to shred when chicken is still warm)

1 can (14.5 oz) no-salt-added diced tomatoes

1 can (14.5 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed

2 TBS lime juice

¾ teaspoon salt

½ of a firm, ripe avocado, cut into chunks

1 cup crumbled baked tortilla chips (optional)

Directions

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add green pepper, onion and jalapeño to saucepan and cook, stirring often, for 7 minutes. Stir chili powder into pot and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute.

2. Pour broth and 1 cup water into saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium; simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in chicken, tomatoes, beans, lime juice and salt; cook for 5 minutes or until warmed through.

3. Ladle 1 ½ cups soup into bowls; divide avocado chunks among bowls. Serve with chips on top, if desired.

Nat’s Notes: If it’s your first time handling a jalapeño, beware of the juices. Wash your hands with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, even after washing hands.

From Family Circle, via my Aunt Rhoda

 

Jamaican Chicken Curry

I’m indebted to Everyday Food for this recipe, which I tried for the first time last night and really liked. It’s quick and easy to make: the trickiest part is browning the chicken (watch for spattering oil). I went a little too easy on the salt and had to add a bit once the dishes had been platted  — but as Dr. Dunn’s mother always said, “You can cure a little with more, but there’s no cure for too much!”

Ingredients

2 TBS vegetable oil

4 bone-in, skinless chicken breast halves (10 to 12 oz each), halved crosswise

coarse salt and ground pepper

1 medium onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp ground cumin

3 TBS curry powder (preferably Jamaican)

½ tsp dried thyme

4 carrots, thinly sliced

1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk

1 package (10 oz) frozen peas, thawed

Cooked white rice, for serving

Instructions

1. In a large Dutch over or heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Working in two batches, brown chicken, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

2. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion, garlic, cumin, curry, thyme, and ½ cup water and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion has softened, 3 to 5 minutes.

3. Add carrots, coconut milk, ½ cup water, and chicken with any accumulated juices. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover partially, and cook until chicken is cooked through and carrots are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in peas. Serve curry over rice. Serves 4.

Thai Coconut Curry Soup

This recipe, given to me by my cousin Michelle, is one of my all-time favorite dishes. It’s easy to make, but there are a few ingredients that might be a little difficult to find outside of an Asian grocery store. Parenthetical comments below are Michelle’s.

Ingredients

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil (I like to use olive oil)

2 Tbsp. freshly grated ginger root

1 stalk lemon grass, washed and cut into 2-inch segments

2 tsp. red curry paste (use 1 tsp. for less spicy soup)

4 c. chicken broth

3 Tbsp. fish sauce

1 Tbsp. light brown sugar

3 cans (13.5 oz.) coconut milk (can do it with 2, but less coconut milk means spicier soup)

1/2 lb. fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced (can also use sliced carrots or broccoli pieces)

1 lb. med. shrimp, peeled and deveined or 1 lb. thinly sliced chicken

2 Tbsp. lime juice

salt

1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions

1. Heat oil in large pot on medium heat.

2. Cook and stir ginger, lemongrass, and curry paste in oil for 1 min.

3. Slowly pour chicken broth over mix, stirring.

4. Stir in fish sauce and brown sugar. Simmer for 15 min.

5. Stir in coconut milk and mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are soft – about 5 min. (If using carrots, will take longer. If using broccoli, will take less time.)

6. Add shrimp and cook until no longer translucent – about 5 min – or chicken until cooked through.

7. Stir in lime juice. Season with salt.

8. Garnish with cilantro.

2 Comments to “Global Gourmet”

  1. Slapped some swiss cheese and leftover Pillsbury biscuits (made a couple of days ago) onto reheated tortilla soup and it gives it a really nice twist!

    • Day 3 of the tortilla soup: NACHOS SUPREME! Start with a base of tortilla chips and add grated cheese (I put swiss and cheddar), hot sauce, and sliced green onion. Then take slotted spoon and lift the solids out of the soup. The black beans, peppers, onion, chicken all add a delicious flavor to the nachos. Heat in microwave for a minute or so. Top with a dollop of sour cream if desired.

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