There is a movement happening in the food world and beyond. We are all looking at waste and how to prevent it. James Beard House has put out a book called, Waste Not. Websites such as The Feed Feed and Food 52 have posted articles and recipes and magazines like Cooking Light and Food & Wine have also featured articles on food waste prevention. Kitchens for Good is even hosting an event directed at using “waste and scraps”.
Many years ago my sister was at my house and I mentioned that I had nothing in the house to eat. She replied that she could live in my house a month with what I had in my house! A self-challenge was born. At least once a week I try to do a “clean out” of my refrigerator and pantry. I like to challenge myself to make meals using just those ingredients. A few weeks ago I made a great “Pantry Pasta”. I had two half full boxes of pasta and a half a jar of sun-dried tomatoes, in oil, and some hard salami, my husband got in a gift basket. I always have fresh vegetables (and frozen) and I have fresh herbs in my garden. I keep good butter, olive oil and parmesan cheese in the house too. Voila, great pasta! I am fortunate that I have a great garden and have a bounty of lettuce and cucumbers so a salad is an easy addition.
This past week was July 4th and so I had a lot of leftovers in the house. The challenge was easier in the respect that I had a lot to work with; but harder because I wanted to use specific recipes, with said leftovers. Our meal was eclectic but delicious. My husband had picked up the Street Taco package at Costco. It was great and the chicken had a little smoky flavor, like it was fresh from the street grill. I recommend trying it the next time you are there. It’s also great to buy and keep in the house for unexpected guest or a last minute appetizer or dinner.
In addition to the tacos, I had been to the farmers market and kept my carrot tops on, so I made a delicious carrot top pesto, based on a recipe from Chalkboard Magazine, served over more half boxes of pasta. I am testing a salad recipe, which I can’t share yet, so we had that. We had a ton of fruit so I made a version of a Deb Perelman’s Strawberry Summer Sheet Cake.
What I love about all these recipes is that you can really change them up to fit what you have in your home. Add more fruit, use different fruit. If you don’t have carrot tops use whatever herbs you have or even a green like arugula. If you don’t have pasta serve the pesto over chicken or steak. You can even make it thick and serve on crostini. Get creative with what you have in your home already.
You know I love to hear from you. Let me know what you are “not wasting”!
Put all ingredients down to olive oil, in a food processor or Vitaminmix™.
Turn on processor and blend until chopped fine and coming together as a paste. Use a spatula to scrape down sides, occasionally.
Once you have desired consistency, from chunky to smooth, turn processor back on and slowly drizzle in olive oil until you have thickness you desire. More liquid for a sauce, more paste if for crostini.
Add salt & pepper to taste. Blend slightly.
Adjust for taste and maybe add more lemon juice, If needed.
Toss with hot pasta. Spread over toasted crostini also topped with ricotta, Serve as a dip for veggies and crackers.
Wash fruit. Hull and halve strawberries. Make sure stems are off of blueberries.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Spray 9x13 pan with non-stick spray and then line bottom with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand up mixer, fitted with paddle, cream together butter, salt and 1 1/2 cups sugar until light and fluffy.
Add in egg, additional yolk and vanilla and continue beating until well combined.
Add milk and continue mixing. Sprinkle baking powder evenly over the top of batter and mix in thoroughly.
Scrape down sides of bowl and slowly add flour, until just combined.
Spread batter evenly in pan.
Arrange strawberry halves, cut side down on top of batter. Fit as many as you can ad press into batter.
Toss blueberries with extra flour and sprinkle on top of batter. Press into areas left open between strawberries.
Sprinkle with extra 3 Tbs. of sugar, use it all.
Bake until golden brown and cake tester inserted comes out with just crumbs. About 45 - 50 minutes.
Let cool in pan.
Cut into even squares and serve.
You can serve it with whipped cream or ice cream.
I am often asked why do I write about cooking. Why is it important to me that “you” cook? It’s often a hard question to answer. Maybe, because it feels existential to me; I cook therefore I am. Recently, I had a small epiphany to this question. I woke up early one morning, I went down stairs and noticed the pungent aroma of too ripe bananas. I immediately got to work on banana bread. My movements around the kitchen, to grab my ingredients were easy and lazy on a warm Saturday morning: three ripe bananas, an egg, some flour and sugar are the basics and then I can get fancy. As I worked it dawned on me, this is why I want YOU to bake. I want you to stumble into your morning kitchen and think “banana bread” or cinnamon rolls or whatever you are craving and not be intimidated, afraid or ill prepared to bake. It is gratifying to bake/cook for your family and friends. It is also extremely gratifying to be the teacher. I want your emails saying you succeeded or even failed with one of my recipes. Let’s walk through it and try again. I love running into you in the store and answering your questions about ingredients or techniques. Send me the pictures! I want to see.
So in turn this answers another question that I have been asked. What’s your voice? Who’s your audience? My voice is just me. And you are my audience. In any article you read whether it is here on my blog or a book or a magazine; I want you to feel like we are sitting at the island in my kitchen, sipping a cup of … and just talking. You can ask me anything and tell me everything. See you soon.
In a small bowl stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
In an electric mixer bowl, mix together the peanut butter, brown sugar, white sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth and well blended.
Mash the bananas and then fold them into the wet mixture.
Ad the flour mixture and beat on medium low until just just combine. Some lumps are ok.
Pour batter into a greased 9X5X3 loaf pan. Bake at 350° for 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes.
I know that sounds vague but every oven varies and you don't want your bread to be over or under baked. A tooth pick should come out clean but just clean.
Run knife around edges and let cool completely in pan.
Put peanut butter, butter and confectioners sugar in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave and stir, in 30 second intervals, until smooth.
Pour glaze over top of turned out bread. Garnish with chopped peanuts. Let set for 10 minutes to set up before slicing.
Well, I survived the first two seders of Passover. I wanted to post pictures from the desserts I made. They were amazing this year and will definitely become a regular part of Passover future. Let me refresh your memories. I made a Chocolate Caramel Torte and an Almond Cake with Mixed Berries.
I always cook more than I need. I’m not sure if I do it because it’s just my way, if I secretly am hoping my tables will be filled with more family and friends or because I love the leftovers. This year I way over bought Matzo. I have always loved the Barefoot Contessa’s Baked French Toast Casserole Recipe, so I thought I’d adapt it to do a baked Matzo Casserole. I took a few liberties, but it was a hit! Enjoy.