Archive for the ‘Quick & Easy’ Category

This weekend I shopped, but for baking stuff, so when it came to cooking today’s lunch I had to go with the three things I had on hand (you will see the Campari tomatoes from last week). I could’ve done an episode of 5 ingredient fix… It turned out to be soo yummy and creamy I am in love with it and am taking some for lunch tomorrow.


Serves 2


  • 2 tilapia loins, cut in cubes
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 4 Campari tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 c white wine (I used Chardonnay)


Heat one tablespoon oil in a medium temperature and fry the onion. Add the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes soften a little. Add the parsley and garlic. Mix well. Remove from heat and pour into bowl. Return the pan to the flame, add second tablespoon oil and when hot, add the tilapia cubes. With a pair of tongs, turn tilapia so that all sides are white and seared. Return tomato mix to pan. Add salt and pepper to taste. The mix will look creamy. Add the wine and let it reduce until the creamy texture returns.

Pescado c:jitomate y cebolla

(apologies for the less-than-stellar picture, I forgot to take a picture of the plated version before eating it :D) It may not be the best-looking thing, but trust me, it was good.


Because tilapia is such a delicate fish, it will cook quickly. As you see from my picture, several of my cubes broke apart, so be careful if presentation matters.


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The middle of the summer is always the time in which I least want to cook. Not because I don’t want to, necessarily (though when I’m really tired I don’t), but because it’s too hot to cook! So I end up craving salads and other cold meals.

This is an adaptation of a recipe I found in the Epicurious website. As usual, I’ve adapted it to make-do with what I had at home. I used tri-color quinoa, but any color will do.


Serves about 3 as a main dish


  • 1 c quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
  • 2c water
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1/4 c pistachios, shelled
  • 6 or 7 Campari tomatoes, washed and quartered
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1/4 c white balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 head of kale (about 4 cups), washed, stemmed and chopped


Add two tbsp olive oil to a large pot or casserole over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until they become translucent. Add the quinoa and stir a bit to mix it in. Add the kale and the water.

Quinoa Kale raw

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook for about 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed and the quinoa has gotten fluffy. Remove from heat and toss to start cooling it.

Quinoa kale cooked

Meanwhile, mix the mustard, vinegar and remaining tablespoons of olive oil to make vinaigrette. Mix until emulsified.

Once the quinoa-kale mix has cooled, add it to the pistachios and quartered tomatoes.

Tomatoes and pistachios

Drizzle the dressing on top, add salt and pepper to taste and mix.

Quinoa kale mixed


I find that refrigerating the salad overnight enhances the flavors. You can heat it up a bit (hence the “warm” in parentheses) or you can eat it chilled.

I got distracted and neglected the onions a bit, so some of them caramelized. I think it works to the advantage of the dish.

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It all started with a box of strawberries that looked like they were pleading for help. We hadn’t been able to eat them fresh because they had made one of us sick and we suspected a bug was there. So they were growing old. But they were organic, farmer’s market strawberries.  A beautiful thing. I didn’t want to just throw them out. “Seriously?” They kept saying. “Are you going to let us die like this?”

So of course the only thing to do with them was to turn them into a jam. A quick call to my Encyclopaedia of food technique mom to check on the recipe, and I was in business.



  • Equal parts fruit and sugar
  • Lime juice

In my case, for 2/3 cup strawberries and sugar (each), I used one lime.


  • Wash and remove the stems from the strawberries.  For a smooth jam, mash the fruit. For a chunky jam, mash some of it, just chop the rest.
  • Mix all ingredients in a bowl and let it rest for about 30 minutes so that the berries can release its juices.
  • In a heavy sauce pan, bring mix to boil over medium heat. Lower heat to medium-low. Let it simmer, stirring frequently. For me, it was about a 20 minute cook time. Remember, though, that the bigger the batch, the longer the cooking time. Keep stirring so it doesn’t burn and stick to the bottom!
  • You will know it is ready when the boiling bubbles lower and they become a rolling, soft boil, with small bubbles. Another method is to chill a small plate in the fridge, place some jam (about a teaspoon) on the plate and chill it for another minute.  Tilt the plate. If the jam runs slightly, but stays as a soft mound, it’s ready.


Mine got a little bit past that state, but it’s still really good. As you can see, it is also a little chunky. I couldn’t get all the pieces really mashed. But who cares.

You can substitute with any berry of your choice, and I can imagine also with any fruit.

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You know how it is when you buy food for a particular meal and, not knowing how much you will need, go overboard, so that by the time you’ve eaten all the leftovers there are still very large quantities of one particular ingredient in your fridge.

This recipe started like that. Don’t ask me what I cooked, but two months ago or so I ended up with about three bags of leeks I did not know what to do with. So I used the wonder of technology and launched the Epicurious.com’s iPhone App, where you can browse recipes and search by specific ingredient, meal or occasion (and if you have an iPad that version of the app is an even cooler). I typed in “leek” and out of the many recipes the app suggested I chose the Mashed Potatoes and Leeks with Pancetta recipe.  Because the idea was to use what I had at home, I substituted the pancetta for prosciutto and made a couple other tweaks (one was accidental, and it turned out to be great. You’ll see below).

You can follow the original recipe, or my version below. I served it with a strong protein, such as a steak.

Mashed Potatoes with Leek and Prosciutto


  • 12 ounces Yukon Gold, White Round or any other “good for mashing” potatoes you like. Washed and unpeeled.
  • About 6 slices prosciutto
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only)
  • 1 tbsp butter or your butter substitute, as long as it tastes good!
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup 1/4-inch carrot pieces
  • 1/3 cup 1/4-inch zucchini pieces
  • Cook the potatoes in boiling water until tender, about 30 mins. Don’t let them fall apart.
  • Meanwhile, slice the prosciutto further into thin strips. Set aside.
  • Heat 1/2 spoon of olive oil and when hot, add prosciutto. Cook for about a minute, or until the bright red pales and it curls. Transfer to another bowl or plate.
  • Heat up one tablespoon olive oil and add the leeks and thyme. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 4 minutes or until they are tender. Add the carrots. Cook for another 4 minutes and add the zucchini. Sauté until the zucchini and carrot are tender, about another minute. Remove from heat.
  • Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot you cooked them in. Do not peel them.
  • Mash the potatoes with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the tablespoon butter until they are chunky. Add the leek mixture and the prosciutto. Season to taste and mix well.


  • As you see, I don’t peel the potatoes. You may if you want to. The original recipe says to do so, but I forgot to do that the first time I made this and it turned out I liked both the texture and the look of the dish when the peel is left, so I always do that now.
  • Be careful when heating the olive oil to cook. It has a low burn point and you don’t want it to get there.
  • Play with the consistency of your mashed potatoes. If they feel too dry, add more butter or olive oil to them until they get to the consistency you are looking for.

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This is a crazy week. I did not think properly and assigned exams and essays to my kids, with the obvious result of my now being buried under tons of grading. Still, I found time to get into the kitchen and work on dinner. Last night I worked on two things: A roast beef (recipe to be posted tomorrow) and the Splendid Table‘s Pepper and Onion Roast.  It’s a very easy recipe and the result is so delicious, you have no idea. The texture of the garbanzos lends the dish some “proteinish” consistency, and the spices are so aromatic you’ll find yourself sniffing the air like my roommates dogs did the whole cooking time.

I tried to find the recipe in the Splendid Table website archives, but couldn’t, so I am copying the instructions from the email in which the recipe came in. The recipe comes originally from The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper: Recipes, Stories, and Opinions from Public Radio’s Award-Winning Food Show by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift (Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2008). Copyright © 2008 American Public Media.


Yield: 3-4


For the vegetables:

  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 2 tight-packed tablespoons fresh coriander leaves
  • One 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 large yellow bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large or 2 medium red onions, cut into 1/4-inch-wide wedges
  • 1 tight-packed cup arugula, curly endive, or spring mix, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • One 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon Crossover Spice Blend (recipe follows) or a blend of ground coriander, ground cumin, and fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate; or 2 teaspoons lime juice with a little grated zest and a generous pinch of sugar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons cold-pressed vegetable oil or good-tasting extra-virgin olive oil

For the finishing garnish:

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (optional)


  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, and put a large shallow pan on the middle rack (a half-sheet pan is ideal because you don’t want to crowd the vegetables).
  • In a food processor, combine the garlic, fresh coriander leaves, and ginger. Process until chopped fine — don’t puree them.
  • Turn the mix into a large bowl. Add all the other ingredients except the finishing seasonings. Toss to blend. Carefully turn the mixture out onto the hot pan, spreading the pieces to cover the entire pan. Roast for 40 minutes, turning often and scraping up the brown glaze from the pan’s bottom. Once the peppers are tender, the greens browned, and the chickpeas crisp, the roast is done.
  • Taste the roast for seasoning, and turn into a serving bowl. If using the tamarind, blend it in. Drop the coriander leaves over the vegetables, and pass the yogurt separately.

Crossover Spice Blend

Makes about 3/4 cup

Keeps for 3 to 4 months in a dark, cool cupboard

  • 1/4 cup ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup ground coriander
  • 1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) fresh-ground black pepper

Blend the spices together in a jar, and seal. Store away from heat and light.

Notes: I didn’t do the recipe with the yogurt finish because I can’t eat any yogurt, but it still tasted fantastic. Should you not be able to find tamarind paste (I couldn’t, even though I was at a Hispanic&Asian market), you can also use tamarind pulp. What I did was warm some of the pulp with a bit of water in the microwave and then worked it in the mortar into a paste… and voilá!

Some pictures…

Look at how beautiful the peppers look!

Mixed and waiting for garbanzos and arugula

Out of the oven

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There are times people descend unannounced and you have to feed them. Others you just crave something sweet and don’t really have a ton of time. This recipe got my mom and I out of a pinch so many times I have lost count. Mom got it from my great-aunt, so this is a tried-and-true, third generation tested thing. You can’t go wrong. And it lends itself to simple variations.



  • About 1 1/2 c crushed corn flakes
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • zest of one lime
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 1/3 c lime juice
  • 1 15 oz can peaches, drained, fruits sliced


  • Line the bottom of a 9 x 11 (or similar) Pyrex dish with about 1 c corn flakes. Save the rest to add as a topping later.
  • Mix the rest of the ingredients in the order listed, except the peaches.
  • Pour mixture over the corn flakes, spreading it carefully so the cereal doesn’t bunch up, but stays flat on bottom.
  • Decorate with the peaches and sprinkle the remainder of the cornflakes on top.
  • Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Variations: You can substitute the cornflakes for rice krispies if you like the flavor or are gluten intolerant. The fruit can also be substituted. We have done it with cherries and I imagine pears would work well too.

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There’s an italian restaurant in Alexandria called Landini Brothers. On their menu is a delicious Linguine alle vongole bianche, white linguine with clams.  This weekend, I decided to cook my own version at home in an attempt to replicate it. Why? Because it’s one of my weaknesses and I frequently crave it.  I find it very addictive and can never get enough of it. Kind of what love sometimes is like.  So, in honor of Valentine’s day, that semi-imposed holiday for love, I give you:

A short-cut version* of Linguine alle vongole

* It’s “short-cut” version because I used canned clams. There’s a longer, purer, obviously better version, with fresh clams. But seeing as I just got a manicure, I wasn’t about to scrub and shell clams. Next time, perhaps. 🙂

For two people


  • 1 tbsp butter (or olive oil if you want to go the “healty” way ;’) )
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 an onion, minced
  • 1/8 c (5g) minced fresh flat-leaf parsley (dry works too, but remember to adjust quantity)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 can minced clams (save the juices)
  • 1/4 c cooked peas (optional)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 8oz (250g) dried linguine
  • salt
  • 1/2 a lemon


  • Bring water to boil and cook the linguine according to package directions. Usually, linguine will cook in about 8-9 minutes, so try to time it so you add the pasta to the water after your onions have softened (see below). That way, your sauce will finish cooking at about the same time as the pasta.
  • Melt the butter in a pan, reduce the heat so it doesn’t burn.
  • Add the onion and cook until it softens, about 8  minutes. Add the garlic, parsley, and pepper flakes. Mix.
  • Keeping the flame low, add the peas, the minced clams and their juice, along with the wine. Add salt to taste.
  • Bring up the flames just enough so the mixture comes to a boil, the liquid is reduced a bit and the clams and peas have warmed up. Turn burner off.

Mine looked like this:

  • Serve on top of the linguine, adding some parsley leaves, some pepper and Parmesan cheese. I also find that adding a splash of lemon brings out the flavors, but it’s entirely a matter of taste.

Final product:

Next time, I will use a flat plate. In a bowl, the clams fall to the bottom and the top noodles have almost no sauce. Also, I added the peas to give it some color and a vegetable, but it works just the same without.

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