Saturday, March 31, 2007

The egg that was loved...?

I used to really hate eggs. I thought they were gross, icky, nasty and only fit for making cakes and cookies. As a child I would never eat them in any shape or form. My dad loves to make omelets for breakfast on the weekend, and he would always ask me if I'd like an omelet- NO THANKS! Eggs are so versatile, so common the world over, and yet I just can't stand the smell of an egg cooked all by its lonesome, with nothing else to hide that taste.
But a couple of years ago I started to reform my view of eggs, gradually but nonetheless still reformed. I still won't eat an egg all by itself, be it fried, scrambled, boiled, or poached, but if you disguise the egg with enough fillings, I will love it! I mean truly, there has to be a considerable amount of other stuff in my egg besides the egg, otherwise no thanks, but hey at least it's a start.
When I saw Eating Out Loud was starting a new food event called Food Fight, I said what fun! The theme for this first Food Fight is eggs, so needless to say, I was going to have to use one of my well disguised egg recipes in which eggs were still the feature of the dish. So like I said, over the last couple of years I have started to come to terms with eggs, and this is one of my favorite ways to disguise them.

Maria’s Potato, Bacon, & Spinach Frittata

First, fry in a large skillet:
½ cup bacon, chopped (use more or less if you like)

Once the bacon is nicely browned, allow bacon to drain on a paper towel on a plate. Dispose of bacon grease.

In the skillet that you fried the bacon in, after you get rid of the bacon grease, add:
2 Tbl oil
to the pan and heat it back up.

Add and fry till soft a brown:
2 medium sized potatoes, chopped into smaller pieces

As the potatoes start to brown, add in:
1 red onion, chopped

Once potatoes are thoroughly cooked through, add the bacon back into the skillet. Also add:
1 cup frozen spinach

While the bacon and vegetables fry, prepare the egg mixture. In a medium mixing bowl, combine:
6 eggs
3 Tbl milk
sea salt
fresh ground pepper
1 tsp basil leaves, dry
½ tsp oregano, dry
1 tsp garlic powder

After all of the vegetables and bacon in the skillet are cooked though, sprinkle on top:
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F. Then pour egg mixture over top of cheese and veggie/bacon mixture. Continue to cook over stove top heat for 5 minutes, and then transfer the whole skillet to the preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until firm and no longer runny in the middle.

Potatoes, bacon, spinach, and onions.

Eggs poured on top of the cheese.

In the oven we go!

'T' is for tasty and time to eat!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A fresh dinner that says Spring!

Tabbouleh and a nice glass of Retsina

Here's a quick healthy meal that says spring time! Tabbouleh is a salad based on bulgar or cracked wheat and is often found with variations throughout the Mediterranean. This is my variation.


1 cup of bulgar (or cracked wheat)

In 1 cup of hot water. Allow to soak until bulgar is softened, about 1 hour. Pour bulgar into a mesh strainer and rinse with fresh cold water, allow bulgar to drain thoroughly.

Place softened bulgar in a bowl and add:
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 can chick peas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
2 Tbl red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of half a lemon
1 tsp dried mint leaves (or use fresh if you have it)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
sea salt, to taste
fresh ground pepper

Mix well. Serve with pita bread or lettuce leaves.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Delicious Dal and Vegetable Curry

It's easy, it's simple, and it's sort of quick. But most of all it's delicious (and cheap)! This was a favorite vegetarian meal that my mom used to make when I was growing up. You see, we lived in a desert on the end of the earth, there was no place to buy meat, the nearest "super market" that sold meat was an 8 hour drive from home. Needless to say we only went food shopping about once a month, and when we shopped, we really stocked up good. So when we bought meat, we would freeze it and bring it home for the 8 hour drive in a cooler. We could only buy as much meat as our little kerosene refrigerator's freezer could hold- and let me tell you- the freezer was the size of a large-ish shoe box. So it was my mothers goal to eat meat only every other night- which meant coming up with vegetarian meals that didn't require many fresh veggies on the other nights. I say not very many fresh vegetables because if you are only shopping once a month, those vegetables that you bought won't last for the whole month. There is however a small town in the desert called Lodwar, and there your could buy the very basics. Potatoes, cabbage, onions, and tomatoes. So those were a heavy influence in our daily cooking. Other staples that last indefinitely are rice and dried beans of all varieties. And so this lovely meal of Dal and cabbage potato curry uses all the staples that are readily available to us throughout the month.

Mung beans, also known as green grams

Green Gram Dal

Bring to a boil in a pot:
1 cup green grams
2 1/2 cups water
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
Once the green grams begin to boil, turn off the heat and allow them to set, covered. I let them sit anywheres between 30 minutes to an hour and a half, if you do it for the shorter time, it simply means you have to cook them longer till they are tender.

Meanwhile, fry in a heavy pan or cast iron skillet:
1 large onion, chopped
2 Tbl oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped

Once the onions begin to soften, add and continue to fry:
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp cloves
1 tsp coriander

Bring the soaked green grams back up to a boil and add in the onion/spice mixture. Allow green grams to continue to simmer until they are tender (30 minutes to an hour).

Frying onions and spices for the Dal


Cabbage and Potato Curry

Chop and fry in the cast iron skillet you had used for the onions above:
2 Tbl oil
2 large potatoes

Once the potatoes begin to brown add:
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 Tbl coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1 Tbl cumin
1 tsp salt
2 tomatoes, chopped (I didn't have any on hand at the time, so I left them out)
1/2 a head of cabbage, chopped
any other vegetable desired such as green bell pepper or carrot

Stir to combine. The pan may be getting dry and smokey, so add some water, about a 1/2 cup or so, in order to prevent burning and sticking to pan. Cover pan with lid, and cook until all vegetables are cooked, adding water as needed. This is a dry curry, so don't go overboard with the water.

Enjoy your Dal and Cabbage and Potato curry with some basmati rice and some chapatis (if you have time to make them).

Dal on top of Basmati rice and Cabbage and Potato curry on the side

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Beef, its whats for dinner

Because it's just that good...


Marinade (I am a big fan of the dump & pour method- use your own amounts):
red wine vinegar
balsamic vinegar
Worcestershire sauce
liquid smoke
olive oil
spicy brown mustard
garlic powder
fresh ground pepper

Place all ingredients in whatever container you plan to marinate your meat in (I use a zip-loc bag) Add meat:

3 lbs London Broil (beef)

Allow meat to marinate as long as you can, two days is best, but if your in a hurry 20 minutes is OK too. Grill meat (preferably on a charcoal grill) to done-ness desired (I like medium rare- just warm of mooing). Slice and enjoy.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Hay Hay It's Donna Day, The Tropical Cheesecake Way!

My all time favorite fruit in the world is passion fruit. In Kenya I could buy a 2 kilo bag of fresh passion fruit for about 80 KSH, which is roughly the equivalent of $1 at the time. Today, in Rochester, I have to pay $2.50 for one single solitary piece of passion fruit. This makes me very, very sad, as I could sit down and eat 8 passion fruits for breakfast (but obviously I don't do that, as that breakfast would cost me $20- expensive!). The alternative to fresh (and expensive) passion fruit, when making dessert, is frozen passion fruit puree. So puree it is.
The other favorite flavor of mine is coconut! I love coconut. Yum, yum yum coconut. I like coconut in all forms, fresh out of the shell, in a drink, dessert, curry, soup, shredded, dried, sweetened, I've even had coconut deep fat fried (I feel like the shrimp guy from Forrest Gump). I remember when I was a kid, as a family we would go on vacation to Mombasa, and when you arrived at wherever you were staying, you would be greeted with a coconut drink, meaning they would drill 3 holes in the top of a new coconut put a straw in it and enjoy. The actual water in a coconut is a bit bland to me, but not too bad. And when you sit by the pool, staring at the beautiful, white sandy beach, somebody will climb a tall coconut palm with a machete to hack down the ripe coconuts. Watch out for falling coconuts!
Anyways, when I saw the Hay Hay It's Donna Day! theme of cheesecake hosted by Culinary Concoctions by Peabody, I said 'self, you should participate'. And here it is. This cheesecake is a creation that I played around with, and I got some of my inspiration from

Passion & Coconut Tropical Cheesecake

To prepare the pan:

Using the bottom of a 10 inch springform pan, trace an outline of it onto parchment paper and then cut out the parchment paper circle. Assemble the springform pan back together. Grease the bottom and sides of pan, then lay parchment round on the bottom and grease the parchment also.

Cashew Crust

In a food processor grind until a coarse meal:
1 cup salted, roasted cashews
¼ cup packed brown sugar

Pour cashew mixture into a bowl and add:
¾ cup flour
¼ tsp cinnamon

Cut/stir in until all the butter is incorporated and mixture is coarse and sandy:
6 Tbl butter, softened, almost melted

Stir to combine:
1 egg yolk

Preheat oven to 325°F. Press crust into your pan, over the bottom and up the sides as possible (about a ½ inch up the sides), and then pierce with a fork. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, till golden brown. Let crust cool. Once cool, wrap the outside of the pan with a layer of tin foil in order to make sure the filling does not leak out and make a mess in your oven.

Coconut Filling

In a large mixing bowl, beat together:
2 8-oz packages of low-fat cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese
2/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Then add:
1 15-oz container of part skim ricotta cheese (drained in a cheesecloth lined sieve over a bowl for 5 hours, or overnight, then once all liquid is removed, press cheese through a sieve to help to reduce the graininess)
1/3 cup low fat sour cream
1/3 cup coconut milk
¼ cup rum (preferably a nice golden brown rum- not white rum)
1 ½ Tbl coconut rum
2 Tbl flour
1 ½ Tbl cornstarch

Beat in, one at a time:
5 eggs and the egg white leftover from the crust

Fold in:
½ cup toasted coconut (I use a combination of sweetened shredded coconut and unsweetened desiccated coconut)

Pour filling into the prepared, cooled crust.
Sprinkle over the top:
¼ cup toasted coconut (sweetened, shredded kind)

Bake cake at 300°F for 1 1/2 hour. At this point your cake should be a little bit wobbly in the very middle, but definitely set on the sides. Turn the oven off and let the cake remain undisturbed in the oven (that is off) for 8 hours or overnight. Once this resting period is over, cover and refrigerate cake.

Passion Fruit Sauce

In a small sauce pan combine:
2 cup frozen passion fruit puree, thawed (I use Goya brand)
¾ cup sugar

Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the sauce is nice, thick, and syrupy.

Stir in:
1 Tbl rum (the golden brown kind)

If you happen to have fresh passion fruit on hand, you can stir the seeds/pulp of one or two fruit into the sauce if you like.

Allow sauce to cool. Cover and refrigerate.

To Serve:

Loosen the sides of the chilled cheesecake from the pan with a knife. Remove sides of the springform pan from the cheesecake. Gently use a spatula to lift or slide the cake on the parchment paper off of the springform pan bottom and slide the cake onto a serving plate. Drizzle passion fruit sauce over cake. Serve cake with the bowl of extra passion fruit sauce for your guests to add to their own dessert.

Enjoy! Cake, if covered well, can last for a few days or so in the fridge (provided that nobody gobbles it down late at night).