Cazuela de Arroz con Hongos

Cazuela de Arroz con HongosOkay.  I cannot tell a lie.  I borrowed much of this recipe from Pati Jinich’s recipe in the Washington Post.  How can you not be fascinated by the food choices of someone who grew up in Mexico City and whose Jewish grandparents immigrated there from Eastern Europe?

The casserole (does making a casserole sound dated?), which is vegetarian, reheats well,  freezes well and is delicious.  Serve it with a green salad.  Big flavors. Little effort.

Cazuela de Arroz con Hongos or Mushroom and Rice Casserole

  • Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients

  • 3 T butter
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper with the membrane and seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 1 # mushrooms (your choice of type – but if you want to be quick, get ones that are already sliced)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 c cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 c Mexican crema – or heavy cream
  • 1/2 c queso fresca or Jack or Fontina, grated or crumbled
  • 1/2 c queso anejo or Parmigiano or Romano, grated
  • 2 1/2 c cooked rice.

Directions

 Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly grease an 8″x8″ baking dish. Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook and stir until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and jalapeno and cook until soft.  Add the sliced mushrooms, sprinkle with salt and pepper, stir to combine all.  Cook until the mushrooms are soft and dark-ish brown and all their released liquid has evaporated – or almost evaporated.  Stir in the cilantro, the crema, and the queso fresca and cook and stir until the cheese has melted (you want the mixture kind of soupy at this point, so add a little crema, if it’s not).  Spoon the rice into the baking dish and then top the rice with the mushroom mixture.  Spread it to smooth the top.  Sprinkle with the grated cheese and bake for approximately 20 minutes.
This casserole can be made a day ahead of time and refrigerated (covered) and baked later – or tightly covered and frozen.  When using the frozen dish, be sure to let it defrost for an hour or so before putting it into the oven.  I found that my partially-defrosted casserole took about 45 minutes to heat in the oven.  I added the parmesan the last 15 minutes.

Recipe provided by Big Little Meals and Andy and Ann

Lettuce-less Broccoli Edamame Salad

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I am so worried that the world is planting and eating too much lettuce!  (Actually, I’m only partly kidding.  See this report from Carnegie Mellon.)  So I’m looking for salads which don’t always have arugula or romaine or iceberg in them.  I came up with this one which is slightly Asian and totally beautiful – and d-lish.  If you make the whole recipe AND DON’T DRESS IT until you use it, you’ll have a wonderful salad for several days in a row.  Will the world thank you for going lettuce-less?  Remains to be seen.

Lettuce-less Broccoli Edamame Salad

  • Servings: 4
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This is the kind of recipe that you can make your own.  Add cooked thin rice noodles or green onions, barely-cooked peas, julienned daikon radish or thinly sliced red cabbage (does cabbage hurt the world?).

Ingredients

  • 3 small heads of broccoli
  • 8 oz frozen shelled edamame (I buy Eda-zen – which has 2 8-oz packs inside)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated (large grate)
  • 1/2 c sliced almonds (toasting optional)
  • 1 T toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Dressing

  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1 T peanut or vegetable oil
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 generous T of honey (or agave syrup)
  • 3-6 T fresh lime juice (I prefer using about 3 T)
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp of sriracha sauce or sambal oelek or whatever tickles your spicy taste buds

Fill a large pot with water, add about 1 T salt, and bring the water to a boil.  While that is happening, remove the stems from the broccoli, and cut the broccoli heads into about 1″ pieces or florets (I find it easiest to just start thinly slicing the stems of the broccoli crosswise, going clear into the head until the florets just automatically separate into teeny perfect pieces.  Add the florets to the boiling water and cook for about 2 minutes or until barely soft.  Then remove the broccoli from the water and rinse with cold water.  This is all to keep the color.  You can cook the edamame with the broccoli, but you risk over-cooking the edamame.  Best way, IMHO, is to do the edamame in the microwave, following the package instructions.

To make the dressing, mix all of the ingredients together and whisk with a fork.

If you’re eating some salad now and saving some for later, use the proportionate amount of dressing for your helping(s) of salad.  And sprinkle some almonds and sesame seeds on top. The dressing is delicious, so you’ll want to be generous.  Maybe you should have made double the dressing and had more leftover?! Next time.

Potato Soup That Happens to Have Broccoli In It

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It’s a chilly spring day in Glen Ellen, CA, and nothing sounds better than soup. Here’s the perfect recipe: a broccoli chowder loaded with big flavors and beautiful colors. It’s vegetarian; it’s nutritious; it’s easy. I’ve eliminated the pureeing of the ingredients, which results in an easier, faster clean-up – and I think makes for a more attractive dish. The only caveat – don’t let the broccoli cook too long, or the green beauty of it all is lost….though the great taste remains

Potato Soup That Happens to Have Broccoli In It

  • Servings: 4
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I miss the old Epicurious. This recipe is adapted from a recipe I found at Epicurious online in 2003!

Ingredients

  • 3 small heads broccoli (about 1#)
  • 2 large yellow or red potatoes, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 2 large carrots, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3 T butter
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard (may be omitted; I didn’t have any and the soup was still great
  • 3 c water (or depending upon your food preferences, chicken or vegetable broth)
  • 1 c cream – or half & half
  • 2 c coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 6 oz)
  • touch of hot sauce or chili powder, optional.

Directions

Separate the broccoli stems from the florets, then chop each into about 1″ pieces. Reserve about 2 c of the broccoli florets to add at the very end.

Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the broccoli (except the reserved florets), potatoes, onion, bell pepper, carrots, garlic, cumin and mustard in the butter until the onion is softened, stirring occasionally. Add the 4 cups of water and simmer, partially covered, for about 10 minutes.

Add the remaining broccoli florets, cream and grated cheese, bring back to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cheese melts and the florets are soft but still very green. Taste – and add salt and pepper accordingly and a sprinkling of hot sauce, if you so desire.

Picadillo

Picadillo

  • Servings: 6
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Updated from a Cuban-inspired recipe which I cut out of a magazine probably 30 years ago....maybe Ladies' Home Journal - isn't that where everything came from back then?

Ingredients

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 large Yukon Gold or red potato, diced (no need to peel) – about 2 cups after dicing
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced – about 1 1/2 tsp
  • 1/3 c tomato paste
  • 1/3 c water
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 drops Tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 c dark raisins
  • 1/2 c sliced pimento-stuffed olives
  • 2 T catsup
  • 1/2 c frozen green peas

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the diced potatoes and cook,  stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes, .  Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic and cook just until the onion is softened, about 3 minutes more.  Add the tomato paste and water, stir it all well, and simmer another few minutes.  Add the ground beef, salt, and pepper, and cook for about 7 minutes, breaking up the meat as it cooks.  Add the cumin, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, raisins, olives, catsup, and frozen peas and cook another 5 minutes or so.  Stir in the catsup and frozen green peas, cover the pan slightly and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Serve the picadillo with rice.   Or open a can of black beans (we love Bush’s Cocina Latina Frijoles Cubanos), heat, and serve them along side the picadillo.

Or refrigerate and eat it tomorrow (by the time I’m done cooking even a big little recipe, I’m ready to eat something else for dinner).  It will re-heat nicely in the microwave.  Freeze what’s left in proportions just perfect for you.  Another day use the left-overs to make a taco or burrito.  If you’re really wild and crazy, bake some sweet potatoes, cut them in half, mash them a little in the shell, and then serve them with the picadillo on the top.  Or use the left-over picadillo for breakfast with an egg fried sunny-side up and put over the top.

Here’s the really important stuff:  don’t get stuck on following the recipe exactly.  If you don’t think you’ll like the sweetness of the raisins, leave them out.  You want it a little more liquid-y?  Add another little bit of water till you like the consistency or even some white wine or chicken stock. Lots of picadillo recipes call for more tomato; you could add the rest of the 6 oz can of tomato paste, if that’s what you used.  Or substitute a 15 oz can of diced tomatoes for the tomato paste and catsup.  And we added LOTS more Tabasco.   After all, we lived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for 26 years.

Recipe provided by Big Little Meals and Andy and Ann

Crawfish by the Pound

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From our Louisiana experience….

So – this is really BIG (i.e., lots and lots of crawfish – 12 pounds to be exact), and maybe you can say the crawfish are a LITTLE-bite size), but this really isn’t a Big Little Meals meal.  We just had to share it with you since it comes from such a fun recent experience.  I HAD to get back to Baton Rouge during crawfish season (spring).  We’d been away too many years.  Plus, we wanted to see our most special 87-year-old neighbor from the old University Hills neighborhood.  How many of you have seen a food truck dealing exclusively in boiled crawfish?  Yup, that’s where we bought them.  The great name of the truck: Crawfish on the Geaux. 🙂  And, FYI, the three of us easily ate all 12 pounds.

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