Cook the Book: French Toast

French Toast

I will use almost any leftover bread for this recipe.  This is a good example of leftovers being better the second time around.

1 egg per person
1/2 cup milk per person
1 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4  teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4  teaspoon rum – if it’s for grown ups
Butter for the skillet
3 slices day-old Crusty Peasant or French bread per person

Combine all of the ingredients except the butter and bread.  Mix well. Heat the butter on a griddle or skillet over medium heat. While the pan is heating, soak the bread slices in the batter (be sure both sides are coated) and immediately place the slices on the heated skillet. Cook until golden brown on the bottom, flip the bread, and continue to cook until the other side is brown. Set the toast aside on a plate in a warm oven and continue cooking until all the bread is gone.

Variations:

I often make a special French Toast with cream cheese and jam in the center of two slices of bread.  Here are my favorite combinations

Cranberry Bread

Marmalade

Cream cheese

Pumpkin bread

Cream cheese

French bread

Raspberry jam

Cream cheese

Cook the Book: Beef Ragu with Fennel & Orange

Beef Ragu with Fennel and Orange

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds stew beef
¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 large onion, diced
1 cup diced fennel
2 large carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
½ green pepper, diced
6 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons fennel seed
½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Zest of one orange
2 cups red wine
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes

 

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Toss the beef, flour, salt, pepper and paprika in a bowl so the beef is coated with the flour. Place the beef in the pot and cook until browned. Add the onions, fennel, carrots, celery, peppers, garlic, spices, salt and cook for another 10-15 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the orange zest, red wine and tomatoes.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours or until the meat is tender.

Serve with polenta

Cook the Book: Garbanzo Bean & Roasted Eggplant Salad

Garbanzo Bean & Roasted Eggplant Salad

1 eggplant
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 bunch minced parsley
2 fresh tomatoes, diced
2 16-ounce cans garbanzo beans, drained

Preheat oven to 400°. Pierce the skin of the eggplant several times with a fork.  Place the whole eggplant in a baking dish and roast it for 20 to 30 minutes (until you can squeeze it and it’s soft).  Cool the eggplant, scoop it out of the skin, and cut it into 1/2-inch cubes. Whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper and gently toss the mixture with the eggplant and remaining ingredients and serve.

Serves 4-6.

Cook the Book: Tomato, Leek, Brie Linguini

Tomato, Leek, Brie Linguini

1 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large leek, cut in half lengthwise, thoroughly washed, and thinly sliced
2 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
3 tablespoons white wine
4 ounces brie
Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare enough linguini for two while making the sauce. Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté it briefly. Add the leeks and cook until tender. Add the tomatoes and wine; bring the sauce to a simmer, then whisk in the brie a few pieces at a time. When the brie is melted, season to taste with salt and pepper, toss with the linguini and serve.

Serves 2.

Cook the Book: Black Bean & Jasmine Rice Soup

Black Bean & Jasmine Rice Soup

We often serve this soup with Pico de Gallo.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, diced
1 large green pepper, seeded and diced
1 dried Ancho chili, reconstituted and minced
9 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 16-ounce can black beans
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup jasmine rice

Garnish:
Sour cream
Lime wedges
Coarsely chopped cilantro

Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized stockpot over medium-high heat; add the onions, peppers, garlic, cumin and salt to the pot and cook until the onions are translucent.  Add the remaining ingredients except for the rice and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Add the jasmine rice and simmer for another 15 minutes.  Add additional stock or water if needed. Garnish with sour cream, lime wedges, and cilantro.

Serves 4-6

Cook the Book: Sundried Tomato Spread

Sun-Dried Tomato Spread  

1 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil (not the kind you have to reconstitute), drained
1/4  cup packed fresh Italian parsley
1/4  cup packed fresh basil
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup grated fresh Romano cheese
1/2 head roasted garlic
Fresh pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil

Combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor and pulse them until they are completely mixed. Turn on the processor and add the olive oil in a steady stream just until the mixture gets loose enough to roll and turn over (rather than being bound up). Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.  Overnight is even better.  Serve with Crostini (page 50).

Makes approximately 2 cups

Cook the Book: Nectarine Jam, Plum Preserves, and Red Pepper Jam

Nectarine Jam  

This jam shouldn’t be canned due to the lower amount of sugar.

1 pound nectarines, peeled, pitted and sliced thin
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Bring all the ingredients to a boil in a non-reactive skillet. Reduce heat and simmer until it begins to look syrupy.  Skim off any foam that develops on the surface. Cool and serve.  It will keep in the refrigerator for two weeks, or you can freeze it.

Makes 2  cups

Plum Preserves  

This jam shouldn’t be canned due to the lower amount of sugar.

1 pound ripe, juicy plums, unpeeled, pitted, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Bring all the ingredients to a boil in a non-reactive skillet. Reduce heat and simmer until it begins to look syrupy.  Skim off any foam that develops on the surface.  Cool and serve.  It will keep in the refrigerator for two weeks, or you can freeze it.

Makes 2 cups

Red Pepper Jam 

2 large red bell peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups sugar

Place the peppers in a large bowl, sprinkle them with the salt, and let them sit for 30 minutes. Drain the excess liquid. Rinse the peppers in cold water and drain the water; rinse and drain again. Put the peppers into a wide, heavy saucepan with the vinegar and sugar.  Bring the mixture to a boil and stir for 15-20 minutes or until the peppers are translucent and the candy thermometer reads 220 degrees.Ladle the jam into hot sterilized jars and seal.  Refrigerate up to 2 months or freeze for up to a year. If you’re freezing them leave additional space in the jars.

Makes 2 cups

Cook the Book: Zucchini and Genoa Salami Deep Dish Pizza

Zucchini and Genoa Salami Deep Dish Pizza

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 zucchini, roughly chopped
2 summer squash, roughly chopped
1/2teaspoon salt
1/2teaspoon pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound Genoa salami, cut in medium-thick slices
1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese

1 Crusty Peasant Bread dough recipe.  You can also use the pre-made bread dough you can find in most grocery stores – you’ll need 2 bags.

Olive oil to brush over the crust
Dried basil, Italian seasoning, oregano – whatever you like – to sprinkle on the crust

Oil a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini, summer squash, salt and pepper. Sauté until tender. Divide the dough roughly in half; make one part slightly larger than the other. Either roll or use your hands to stretch the larger piece until it’s big enough to overlap over the sides of the baking pan by about 1 inchSpread half of the Parmesan cheese evenly over the dough. Add layers (in order) of half each of the salami, mozzarella, ricotta, zucchini and summer squash.  When you transfer the squash to the pizza, use a slotted spoon to drain the excess liquid.  Repeat. Stretch the remaining half of the dough out enough to overlap the top of the pan, then pinch the two layers of dough together neatly. Brush the crust with the olive oil and sprinkle with the herbs. Preheat oven to 350°. Let the pizza rest and rise for 30 minutes, then bake until golden brown (about an hour).  Cool 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Serves 8-12.

Cook the Book: Black Bean and Corn Salad

Black Bean and Corn Salad

This salad is best if you can grill the corn, though you can use steamed or boiled corn in a pinch.  I sometimes roast the corn when we are on a lobsterbake – just stick them on a roasting fork and turn them over the fire.  You can also use it as a summer salsa for grilled chicken or fish.

4 ears of husked corn
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup loosely packed, fresh, chopped cilantro
1/4 cup diced red onion
Small clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Brush the ears of corn with olive oil and place the ears directly on a hot grill.  Cook until brown and tender, turning often, about 10 minutes. Cool slightly and use a sharp knife to cut the kernels off the cob. Toss the corn with the remaining ingredients and serve.

Serves 4-6.

Cook the Book: Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Bread

3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, etc.)

Preheat oven to 325°.  Grease two loaf pans.  In a large bowl thoroughly mix the oil, sugar, zucchini, and vanilla extract.  Add all the remaining ingredients except the nuts. Mix well. Stir in the nuts. Divide into the greased loaf pans. Bake about one hour, until the bread springs back when lightly pressed. Cool in the pan.

Makes 1 loaf.