Turkey kofte

Adapted from Jamie Oliver

Kofte Ingredients:

  • 1 large zucchini
  • 2 scallions
  • 1 fresh red chili
  • 50 g. pistachios
  • 3 sprigs cilantro
  • 3 sprigs parsley (omitted)
  • 3 sprigs mint
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 large egg
  • 500 g. ground turkey
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano

Chili sauce ingredients: (I recommend halving this)

  • 4 ripe tomates
  • 2 small onions
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 jalapeno chilies
  • olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. tomate paste
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

Tahini yogurt:

  • 250 g. Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. tahini
  • 1 squeeze of lemon juice

Turkish pilav:

  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves. garlic
  • 300 g. bulgur wheat
  • 400 ml. hot chicken stock
  • 1 knob of butter
  • 80 g. broken rice vermicelli
  • 100 g. can chickpeas

Directions:

  1. Finely grate the courgette, trim and finely chop the spring onions and green chilli, then chop the pistachios. Pick and finely chop all the fresh herbs.
  2. Toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan until smelling fantastic. Meanwhile, lightly beat the egg.
  3. Mix all the kofte ingredients together in a large bowl, keeping some pistachios back to garnish, then season well.
  4. With wet hands, form 16 kofte, each the size and shape of a small egg. Leave in the fridge to firm up for at least 30 minutes, then thread onto metal skewers, two kofte on each.
  5. Cook the kofte under a grill or over a flame charcoal grill, on high for 12 minutes, until juicy, golden brown and cooked through, turning regularly.
  1. To make the chilli sauce, halve the tomatoes and onions (there’s no need to peel), and bash the unpeeled garlic cloves.
  2. Place the red chillies, tomatoes, onions and garlic on a baking tray. Drizzle with oil and season, then roast for 25 minutes or until soft and slightly blackened.
  3. Allow to cool slightly, then carefully remove and discard the stalks from the chillies, the cores from the tomatoes and the skins from the onions and garlic.
  4. Add to a food processor, along with the sugar, tomato purée and vinegar. Blitz until smooth and add a lug of oil to make it glossy. Pulse again, then season.
  1. For the tahini yoghurt, mix all the ingredients in a bowl and season with a pinch each of sea salt and black pepper.
  1. To make the pilav, peel and finely chop the onion and garlic. Add a lug of oil to a non-stick pan over a medium-low heat, then sweat the onion and garlic for 10 minutes. Add the bulgur and stir to coat.
  2. Pour in the stock, bring it to the boil, then turn down the heat to very low. Cover with a lid and steam the bulgur for 8 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, melt the butter and cook the vermicelli until the butter turns golden brown.
  4. After 8 minutes, add it to the bulgur along with the chickpeas – don’t stir at any point, just replace the cloth and lid and let it steam for another 8 minutes.
  5. Turn off the heat and let it stand for 5 minutes – you should end up with a beautifully light and fluffy pilav.

OMG this utterly takes two hours. The flavors and textures combined together so amazingly, and we regret nothing once we FINALLY sat down, but if we had known it would take that long, in such a very humid NYC summer… At least you can eat all the leftovers cold, cold, cold. Optimism! The recipe makes way, way too much chile sauce — I would halve that recipe for sure. Everything else was in good proportions.

I used white sugar, and apple cider vinegar instead of the recommended ingredients. I didn’t buy parsley or broken rice vermicelli — although I do like rice vermicelli, but neither of us care for parsley over much. Next time! (Just kidding — or at least not in summer. Ever.) We tried “grilling” the kofte and “oven roasting” the vegetables in a cast iron pan, which took considerably more time than the original recipe called for, and made the kitchen (and my apartment) hot, hot, hot. We even tried making the bulgur pilav in the cast iron, but that was unnecessary, and transferred it back to my ceramic pan later on. The turkey is quite lean, so I would love to try this (or another turkey meatball recipe) with ground pork instead. Fatty pork ftw.

~Jessica

Frijoles charros

Adapted from Isabel Eats and Jessica Gavin

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. dry pinto beans
  • 1.5 tbsp kosher salt
  • 8 cups cold water
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Directions:

  1. Pour the beans into a large bowl. Pick out and discard any beans that are shriveled or split as well as any small rocks that may have made their way into the bag. Toss any broken dried beans. Add them to a colander and rinse with cold water for 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Fully cover the beans with water (at least 3 inches over the top of the beans) and salt. Set on the counter to soak for 8 hours or overnight.
  3. Transfer the beans to a large pot or Dutch oven. Add 10 cups of water (and the other seasonings).
  4. Bring beans to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover and cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. (I recommend checking them at the 2 hour mark and giving them a taste. They should be tender and fully cooked through, but still a little firm and not mushy. Cook a little longer if they’re not quite done.)
  5. Remove from heat and use them in recipes like refried beans and charro beans, or let cool completely and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

So in the beginning, I wanted to use up these dry pinto bean my grandmother got from her senior center, but in the end, I just cooked this as charro (cowboy) beans. I also had a couple medium potatoes, so I threw those in too, diced. I did not have 2 cans of diced tomatoes — I just added 2 diced tomatoes on the vine. It’s hard to find recipes that don’t use an InstaPot. Thank goodness for ol’ stovetop classic standbys. I had gotten this 2 lb. bag of dry pinto beans a long time ago from my grandmother (from the senior center). I never thought I’d want to go through the effort of cooking with them. Surprise! Summer break! I didn’t have real chicken stock, so I did throw in a few bouillon cubes, which I’m trying to use up anyhow.

~Jessica

Purée of spring vegetable soup

Adapted from Lisa KleypasDevil’s Daughter

Ingredients:

  • 2 small zucchinis
  • 2 small summer squash
  • 2 carrots (I had not)
  • 1 red / yellow bell pepper (green was cheaper)
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cups (chicken) broth
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 14 oz. can of white beans, rinsed and drained
  • pinch (tsp.) of salt
  • pinch of ground black pepper
  • pinch of thyme
  • pinch of oregano
  • ½ cup of heavy cream (or half and half)

Directions:

  1. Chop vegetables into ½ inch pieces, to cook evenly.
  2. Melt the butter in large pot, on medium-high. Add the garlic, onions, then vegetables. Sauté 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add broth, tomato paste, beans, seasonings, and herbs. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes until tender.
  4. Blend with a hand immersion blender (I have not, so I did it in batches).
  5. Add the cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve with buttered croutons, or a grilled cheese.

I had not carrots, but not a big enough pot anyhow. I had 3 on-the-vine tomatoes, so I used that instead of the tomato paste. I ran out of thyme! One of my favorite herbs! I think this is my favorite in the Ravenels series, but this recipe was extra sumptuous, and I had just collected the ingredients for ratatouille, thinking to make a pan satué version (baking is so hot in my apartment, and I haven’t a real baking dish in fact). I loved the description in the book where this dish was served. Can you imagine a 12 course meal? Now if I only had the makings for a grilled cheese…

~Jessie

Palak paneer (aka saag paneer)

Adapted from Spice Cravings and Kitchen of Debjani

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon ghee (ghee / coconut oil blend)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1/2 inch ginger, grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup onion (1 medium onion, chopped)
  • 1 green chili (optional: Habanero)
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (thought I had it, but it was actually milder Madras curry powder)
  • 2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kashmiri red chilli powder (I used paprika!)
  • 12 oz. baby spinach (2 boxes of organic)
  • 1 cup water
  • 100 ml. fresh cream
  • 10 oz. paneer, 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 tsp. kasuri methi (I couldn’t find)

Directions:

  1. Heat a deep sauce pan on medium high heat.
  2. Add oil and cumin seeds (I used black mustard seeds instead). When the seeds begin to sizzle, add crushed ginger and garlic.  Add sliced onion and green chili, and sauté for a minute. Add the tomato.
  3. Add salt, spices and stir well. Then, add 3/4 cup water, stir, cover the pan and cook for about 5-7 minutes on medium heat.
  4. Open the lid and add 1/2 the baby spinach and stir to wilt, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining spinach and wilt for around 2 minutes. Sauté for another minute. Turn off the heat.
  5. Using a hand blender puree the spinach mix.  Add a little water if needed. Add 1/2 the cream.
  6. Turn the heat back on to medium, add paneer cubes and simmer for 1 min, till paneer cubes become soft. Turn off the heat. Stir in butter and the other 1/2 cream, this adds a silky smooth finish to the sauce, and gives it a gorgeous shine.
  7. Serve hot with cumin basmati rice or naan. Enjoy!

No Insta Pot here, I’m afraid. We made na’an to go with it! Baking adventures. It was an adventure finding a Pakistani store on the day before Puerto Rican Independence Day, to find frozen paneer. Also since we had less spinach, we added a couple of parboiled potatoes, so… palak aloo paneer! Coming up next: the na’an recipe.

~Jessica

Fish tacos with salsa verde

Adapted from My Latina Table and also salsa

Authentic Mexican Salsa Verde Ingredients:

  • 5 Tomatillos
  • 1/4 – 1/2 bunch fresh Cilantro finely chopped
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1/4 Onion
  • Jalapenos, 1 (less spicy, could have handled more!)
  • Salt to taste
  • Olive Oil

Salsa Verde Directions:

  1. Slowly saute the tomatillos, the onion, and the jalapenos in a preheated frying pan with some olive oil for 5 minutes.
  2. After 5 minutes, add the garlic cloves and continue cooking until the tomatillos are slightly browned.
  3. Remove from the heat and blend the ingredients with the cilantro and salt in a blender.

Tacos Ingredients:

For the Fish Marinade:

  • 2 pounds of tilapia or other similar fish (we used 3/4 lbs. cod)
  • Juice from 1 lime (lemon)
  • 1 teaspoon of the following: garlic powder black pepper, salt, cumin, onion powder

For the purple cole slow:

  • 1/2 purple cabbage cut into thin slices (green)
  • Chopped Cilantro
  • 1/4 white onion chopped
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Tacos Directions:

  1. Marinate the tilapia fish with all of the marinade ingredients for at least 25 minutes.
  2. Once fully marinated, place in the center of a large pan, and fry a few minutes on each side, until the meat separates into chunks.
  3. For the Purple Cole Slaw, Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl, and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes.
  4. For the guacamole, follow this recipe.
  5. To Form the Tacos, Cut the cooked fish into smaller pieces and add to the previously warmed tortillas, followed by the purple cole slaw, the guacamole, Goya black bean soup, sour cream, and the salsa verde.

Breakfast tacos were made for the morning after, but with scrambled eggs instead of fish! The green salsa verde was surprisingly easy and quick! If I were going to redo this recipe, I would (beer) batter the fish next time for some crispy.

~Jessica

Murgh makhani (Indian butter chicken)

Adapted from Little Spice Jar and Urvashi Pitre

Chicken Marinade Ingredients:

  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes (we used tomatoes on the vine)
  • 5 or 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken (breasts or thighs)
  • 4 ounces butter, cut into cubes, or ½ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup yogurt (original: full-fat coconut milk)
  • ¼ to ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the tandoori masala, ginger, garlic, and yogurt. Whisk until smooth, adjust seasonings to preference. Add the chicken and allow to marinate for at least 20 minutes and ideally for 12-24 hours, covered in the refrigerator. We marinated overnight.
  2. Heat the ghee (we used butter) in a heavy bottom pot over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until they turn translucent and start to sweat, about 5-7 minutes — don’t allow the onions to brown! Add ginger and garlic paste and let cook for 30 seconds, stirring so it doesn’t burn. Add the crushed tomatoes along with the chili powder, coriander powder, and cumin powder and continue to cook for 5 minutes, if the mixture starts bubbling rapidly, add about ¼ cup of water and continue to cook.
  3. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the dutch oven over medium heat. Add the marinated chicken (discard any excess marinade) and cook for about 5-6 minutes, stirring as required to brown all sides.
  4. Add the butter chicken sauce to the pot and heat everything through. Once it starts to bubble, add the cream (we used whole plain yogurt) and garam masala. When the sauce regains a simmer, add the crushed fenugreek leaves (we didn’t have! Darn COVID-19 pandemic). Serve over basmati rice or with naan.

(Hindi: मुर्ग़ मक्खनी) according to Wiki. “The subtle difference between Paneer Butter Masala and Shahi paneer is that more of whole spices are used in Paneer Butter Masala whereas Shahi paneer has a sweeter taste when compared to Paneer Butter Masala.” (Wiki) Pitre’s recipe was even featured in The New Yorker! Jesse cooked this really well, and even set timers and things. We did not have an Instant Pot.

~Jessica

Spaghetti ai funghi

Adapted from Memorie di Angelina

Ingredients:

  • 500g (1 lb) penne
  • 100g (3-1/2 oz) pancetta, cubed
  • 1 or 2 garlic clove, slightly crushed and peeled
  • 250g (8 oz) mushrooms, roughly chopped (see Notes)
  • A fresh sage leaf and a sprig of parsley, finely chopped
  • 250ml (1 cup) passata di pomodoro or crushed canned tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Directions:

  1. Start with a soffritto, this one consisting of some cubed pancetta and a crushed garlic clove sauteed in olive oil over moderate heat. (As always, make sure that the garlic hardly browns.)
  2. Once you scent the garlic’s aroma, add some roughly chopped mushrooms (125g or 4 oz. for 2 people), raise the heat to high, give the mushroom a good flip (or a stir if you’re feeling timid) to coat them with the soffritto-infused oil and continue sauteing. Very soon thereafter, add a pinch of salt to encourage the mushrooms to give off their liquid. Continue until the mushroom liquid as evaporated completely. You will begin to hear the mushrooms sizzle.
  3. add a few sage leaves and a sprig of parsley, both nicely chopped, a good grinding of black pepper, and mix well with the mushrooms.
  4. When the mushrooms are quite tender and just begin to brown around the edges, add a good dollop of passata di pomodoro or crushed canned tomatoes. Lower the heat and allow the sauce to simmer gently until the tomatoes have reduced and separately from the oil, having turned a nice darkish color, somewhere between red and mahogany.
  5. Meanwhile, you will have cooked your penne in well salted boiling water until very al dente. Add the penne to the pan, mix well and allow it to simmer gently for a few moments with the sauce.
  6. Serve immediately.

We cooked this last weekend, and it was fabulous. Great big saucepan courtesy of Jesse.

~Jessica

Minestra di farro

Adapted from Food52 and Great Italian Chefs

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 70 g of pancetta, minced (optional)
  • 1 small brown onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 small celery , finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 600 g of waxy potatoes, peeled and diced (didn’t have — next time!)
  • 300 g of farro, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
  • 7 ounces (or 200 grams) peeled tomatoes
  • 500 g of dried cannellini beans, or borlotti beans, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed (I used canned)
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 4 to 5 fresh sage leaves
  • sea salt, as needed
  • freshly ground black pepper, as needed

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a wide soup pot or saucepan; add the chopped onion, carrot, and celery and gently cook until soft and translucent. Add the pancetta and continue cooking until the fat has melted. Add herbs and peeled tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the cooked borlotti beans, along with their liquid. Stir to combine everything and add 2 cups of water. Bring the mixture to a simmer, cook 10 minutes uncovered, then remove from heat. Remove the rosemary stick and blend (an immersion blender is ideal for this) until smooth.
  3. Add the farro to the bean purée (along with another cup of water to loosen it, using more or less as necessary) and continue cooking over low heat for about 30 to 40 minutes, stirring every now and then to check that the soup is not sticking to the bottom of the pan, until the farro is cooked al dente (with a pleasant bite to it, like pasta). It should be a fairly thick soup but you can add more water to your liking. Check for seasoning.
  4. Serve the soup with freshly ground black pepper and extra virgin olive oil drizzled over the top.

This came together better than I expected, although I did not soak anything overnight, beans or farro. I used a can of Goya beans in sauce (white beans would have been closer to suitable but I had Green Pigeon Peas in Sauce). I was debating whether to add Latin beans to an Italian dish, but Jesse insisted on including beans in a stew recipe. Pancetta isn’t too shabby as an ingredient, but mushrooms can make such a delicious vegetarian substitute — I highly recommend, so that’s what I used. Also, forgot to add the rosemary until the last minute, better luck next time! Next level: homemade broth.

~Jessica

Pasta e ceci

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Pina Bresciani GIC

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pancetta, diced (optional)
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (from one 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces or 55 grams) uncooked ditalini pasta (or another small shape)
  • 2 cups (475 ml) boiling water (update: actually I just use tap, not boiled, water)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil (estimate 1 per serving)
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • Salt and red pepper flakes

Directions

  1. In a medium-large heavy-bottomed pot or deep saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil until it shimmers. Add 2 smashed cloves of garlic, onion, red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring until it becomes lightly, barely browned but very fragrant (5-8 min.)
  2. Stir in the tomato paste, salt, and pepper and cook them with the garlic for 30 seconds or so.
  3. Add the chickpeas, pasta, and boiling water. Stir to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot, lower the heat, and simmer until the pasta is cooked and a lot of the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning and ladle into bowls.
  5. Make finishing oil: Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil in a small sauce- or frying pan over medium-low heat with remaining clove of garlic, rosemary, a pinch or two of salt and pepper flakes, until sizzling; pull it off the heat as soon as the garlic is going to start taking on color. Drizzle this over bowls of pasta e ceci and eat it right away.

I would have liked to have time on a school night to make the finishing oil, but, alas, lesson plans await. We’re in the middle of remote learning right now, but the high school students feel burned out every day. Some definitely have easier access to technology than others though. As I used bigger pasta (2 cut ziti) a roommate left behind, I should have thrown in more than a half cup, since the smaller pieces swell up more.

I found out a freshman student’s father succumbed to COVID-19. Stay home, everyone, be safe.

~Jessica

Starbucks cheese & fruit protein box

Adapted from Damn Delicious. Prepares 4 meals

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. sharp two-year aged Cheddar cheese, cubed
  • 4 oz. of Brie wedge
  • 4 oz. of Gouda
  • 2 Braeburn apples, washed and halved (I cut carrot wedges)
  • 2 cups of grapes, washed (I used 20 grape tomatoes)
  • 4 Ozery Bakery Morning Round Pita Breads, or 20 nine-grain crackers
  • 1 cup Hummus, divided (saved for next time, I need little cups!)
  • fresh lemon juice, optional for apple slices (I had hard-boiled eggs)

Directions:

  1. Place fruit, carrot, celery, apple, peanut butter, cheese and pita bread into meal prep containers.

The only fruit I’m fond of are berries, and since they’re not in season, I subbed with vegetables. Grape tomatoes instead of grapes. Carrots instead of apples. I added elements of my other favorite protein boxes, like the PB&J and the hard-boiled egg (although I want to see if I can get good enough to make soft-boiled eggs!) Instead of Brie and gouda, I used Havarti (on sale at WF) and Queso Oaxaca cheese and Dubliner Cheese wedges and leftover Longhorn (Colby) Cheddar.

365 Multigrain Bread $3.39
Roth Original Havarti cheese $2.99
365 Grape Tomatoes 1 pint $2.49
2 Organic Loose Carrots $0.62
Total $9.49

~Jessica