Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mario's Weekend Cooking Challenge: A Double Challange

Mario's Weekend Cooking Challenge is a Facebook Group for people to get together, once a month and cook the same recipe, compare notes and discuss outcomes. It is put together by Mario Bosquez host of "Living Today" on Martha Stewart Living Radio, Sirius 112 & XM 157

This month's challenge was a "double-challenge". First, A rustic "no-knead" bread, courtesy of Jim Lahey of New York's Sullivan Street Bakery. Next, a delicious Black Pepper Chicken Curry courtesy of
Chef Floyd Cardoz at Tabla in New York City.

First, let's bake some bread. If you're ever intimidated by bread making, this recipe will change your mind. Though the rise time is almost an entire day, it's well worth the wait. The recipe can be found here: No-Knead Bread.

This recipe couldn't be simpler, and with only a few ingredients, flour, water, yeast & salt, you'll be wanting to make this many times!

Mix all the dry ingredients. Add the water, a little at a time, by hand and mix for about a minute or until it comes together. Dough will be a little sticky.

Lightly oil a large bowl with olive oil and place dough in bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for a minimum of 12 hours - 18 hours is ideal!

After rise time, remove dough from bowl, and fold it over onto itself once or twice let rest for 15 minutes.

Shape dough into a ball and place between two clean cotton dish towels dusted with your choice of flour, cornmeal or wheat bran. Allow dough to rise for an additional 2 hours until doubled in size.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450°. Place a large enameled cast iron pot in the preheated oven for 30 minutes prior to baking the bread.

Remove the pot from the oven and place dough in the pot, seam side down, cover with lid and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for an additional 15-30 minutes or until nicely browned.
Carefully remove the bread from the pot and cool slightly on a wire rack.

Slice with a sharp serrated knife and enjoy!

This next recipe is another first for me. It's a delicious chicken curry dish. Wonderful mix of flavors and again, simple to prepare.
The recipe can be found here: Black Pepper Chicken Curry

Now there are a few ingredients that may be hard to find. Most notably, Curry leaves and Tamarind. Look in your area for good Indian grocers, they should carry the ingredients. The tamarind called for in the recipe is a powder. Tamarind paste can also be used. If you can't find curry leaves, you may substitute 1-1/2 Tablespoons of Madras Curry Powder, which is easier to find.
I also used boneless chicken thighs. Economical and delicious. The recipe also includes, onions, diced tomatoes, fresh minced garlic, ginger and other spices!

As with what I've learned with most Indian cooking, you want to build layers of flavor as you prepare the dish. Starting out by heating some oil in a pan. When it's hot, add spices, cook for about a minute, then onions...garlic & ginger, cooking each ingredient for about a minute or 2 before adding the next.

Lastly, you add the diced tomatoes and let them cook for about 5-7 minutes.

Then we add the chicken and tamarind and let this cook for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Serve this over steamed white rice and it's a comforting Autumn dish you'll really enjoy and if you think you aren't a fan of curry, trust me, you will be after tasting this dish!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Slow-Cooker Bean and Barley Soup

Serve this delicious hearty and healthy soup during the comfortable days of Autumn as well as the cold days of Winter! It guarantees to satisfy!

A helpful tip: Soak the beans overnight, in about 8 cups of cold water, just for a little re-assurance that they will not be "crunchy" when the soup is finished.

  • 1 cup dried Great Northern beans, picked over and rinsed
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 (14-ounce) can whole tomatoes, with juice
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian herb blend
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, optional
  • 3 cups cleaned baby spinach leaves (about 3 ounces)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Coarse Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to season
  • Extra-virgin olive oil


Put beans, water, tomatoes and their juices, garlic, celery, carrots, onion, barley, bay leaf, herb blend, pepper, and porcini mushrooms (if using) in a slow cooker; cover and cook on LOW until the beans are quite tender and the soup is thick, about 8 hours.

Stir in the spinach, cheese, and vinegar, cover, and let the soup cook until the spinach wilts, about 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and black pepper, to taste.

Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and drizzle each serving with olive oil.

Cheesy Bacon-Tomato Pie

We're nearing the end of tomato season and I can never get enough of them! I guess that's the Sicilian blood in me!

This year I grew a very productive tomato plant and as of the date of this post, the plant is still thriving!!

Always on the look out for new and exciting recipes, I came across this pie which incorporates the fresh taste of tomatoes, along with bacon, cheese, & basil! It's almost like a "BLT" Pie!

I'm pleased to say that the tomatoes, basil and onions came directly from my container garden!

The ingredients:

6 large tomatoes (2 lb.), peeled, sliced (1/4 inch)

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup chopped onions, divided
1/4 teaspoon pepper
12 oz. bacon, cooked, crumbled
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1 (9-inch) baked pie crust

To peel tomatoes, cut small “X” in bottom of each tomato. Place in large pot of boiling water 30 to 60 seconds or until skins become loose; place in large bowl of ice water. Skins should slip off with help of paring knife.

Drain tomato slices on paper towels 15 minutes. Sprinkle with coarse salt.

Meanwhile, heat oven to 375°F. Combine cheese, mayonnaise, 1/4 cup of the green onions and pepper in medium bowl.

Layer half the tomatoes, bacon, basil and remaining 1/4 cup green onions in pie crust. Top with remaining tomatoes. Spread mayonnaise mixture over top.

Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown (cover edge of crust with foil if browning too quickly).
Allow to cool slightly, serve and enjoy a little of summer's gifts!

Mario's Weekend Cooking Challange: Blackberry-Blueberry Crumble

Mario's Weekend Cooking Challenge is a Facebook Group for people to get together, once a month and cook the same recipe, compare notes and discuss outcomes. It is put together by Mario Bosquez host of "Living Today" on Martha Stewart Living Radio, Sirius 112 & XM 157

This months challenge was a "sweet" one! Blackberry Blueberry Crumble. A delicious mix of some of summer's tastiest offerings! The fast and simple recipe was provided by Chef Kate Goodyear and can be obtained here: Blackberry-Blueberry Crumble

First, you want to combine your berries, with some brown sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice.

Place your berry mixture into a 9 x 13 baking dish.

Mix together your topping ingredients of flour, oats, white & brown sugar, ground ginger, salt and butter. Mix it, by hand (make sure you wash your hands first!), to obtain medium to large "crumbles".

Spread the topping evenly over the berries.

Bake at 350° for about 40-50 minutes until it's golden brown & bubbly! The scent of this baking is heavenly!

Serve this warm or at room temperature with a generous scoop of buttermilk or vanilla ice cream!

This treat couldn't be easier to prepare and will be loved by all! You can also substitute other berries, as well as stone fruits like peaches and plums!

Summer Corn Pudding!

Now is the time of the season to experience one of my favorite vegetables, CORN!!!! This is the time of the year when corn is at it's best, so crisp and sweet!

I took some time to visit a local farm stand and am enjoying this rewarding bounty!


Here's some of the corn as I prepare to shuck it!

Other than straight off the cob, with a little butter and freshly ground black pepper, I wanted to share another, and different way, of enjoying fresh corn. This recipe is for Corn Pudding and is such a favorite! It was delicious nice and warm from the oven and it's equally enjoyable chilled from the fridge the next day!

You can get the recipe here: Corn Pudding.

To make the corn pudding the first thing you must do is remove the corn kernels from the cob. Be sure to get all that yummy milky liquid that exudes from the cob.


This is generally done standing the cob up in a bowl and "scraping" a chef's knife down the cob. Of course, there are tools available to make this job easier such as this Corn Stripper.

Here I have all the ingredients assembled to make this sweet & savory pudding


The corn kernels, fresh eggs, butter, cream cheese, sugar, baking powder and a little salt.


Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until all combined.


Ready for about an hour in the oven!


All baked and smells so good, but it must cool before diving into it!


Serve this as an anytime treat this summer. It's great as a unique side dish!

Enjoy some more mouth-watering corn recipes this summer by clicking here: Summer Corn Ideas!