About This Blog

This is, as the title indicates, my kitchen notebook (the header is actually a scanned image of the cover of a notebook that I started using about 25 years ago and the background is a stained page from that book). I am not a professional recipe writer. If you try any recipe here, please keep that in mind, these recipes have not been tested by an independent tester. The "recipes" are often not even really recipes but rather a list of ingredients that I've noted after preparing a dish on the fly that I thought came out well. Perhaps I've also added some instructions, but I rarely keep accurate track of what I've done in terms of time or temperature, I've just noted to the best of my memory (feeble) what I did.

Please feel free to take some inspiration from here, but on the other hand, please give credit where it is due. I also welcome any constructive comments that you might have if you are inspired to try a recipe. Questions are welcome, but keep in mind that I may not remember specifics. The dishes do evolve over time...

Thank you and enjoy!

Cast Iron Skillet Roasted Frying Peppers

I tried a more hands off approach to cooking up a bunch of frying peppers by roasting them in a cast iron skillet and found that I like the end result even better. 

Mehmet's Turkish Sweet

About 1 1/2 pounds frying peppers (Mehmet's Turkish Sweet)
Olive oil
About 1 tablespoon salt packed Capers, rinsed
3 cloves Garlic
About 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
2 anchovy filets

Preheat a 12-inch cast iron skillet in a 350ºF oven. If the peppers are quite young you can leave them whole. For more mature peppers with hard seeds you may want to remove the stems, cut them in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. 

Chop the capers and put them in a small bowl. Chop the garlic and parsley leaves separately and then chop them together and then add them to the capers. Mince the anchovy filets and add them to the caper mixture. Thoroughly blend together the caper, garlic, parsley and anchovy mixture with a bit of olive oil. Set aside.

Toss the peppers with enough olive oil to coat them and salt to taste. Add them to the preheated skillet and roast for 30 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes or so. After 30 minutes add the caper mixture to the peppers and toss to combine. Continue roasting the peppers for another 15 minutes, tossing once or twice. 

Serve hot.

Makes about 4 servings as a side dish.

Ricotta and Dried Tromba D'Albenga Stuffed Prosciutto Rolls

I'm always looking for ways to use my stash of preserved vegetables. This dish uses both a dehydrated veggie and homemade frozen tomato sauce. The grated squash that I used can be used interchangeably with zucchini, Tromba D'Albenga squash is harvested young, firm, and green and used like zucchini. The dried squash does not have to be rehydrated, it will absorb the moisture from both the ricotta (don't drain it, include any whey that might collect in the container) and from the tomato sauce. The dish can be assembled ahead of time and then baked for serving hot from the oven. Go light on the salt in this dish since both the prosciutto and Parmesan are salty to begin with and perhaps your tomato sauce too.

12 ounces sheep milk ricotta
1 ounce dried shredded Tromba D'Albenga squash or zucchini
1 ounce freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried fermented Aji Amarillo Grande flakes
Freshly grated nutmeg
12 thin slices prosciutto
2 cups prepared tomato sauce
additional freshly grated Parmesan cheese
crunchy dried breadcrumbs
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 325ºF.

Gently fold together the ricotta, dried squash, Parmesan cheese, pepper flakes, and nutmeg. Use your hands so as not to crush the zucchini if it is very dry. There's no need to salt the filling because the prosciutto and Parmesan are salty enough.

Smear a bit less than 1 1/2 ounces of the ricotta mixture over a slice of prosciutto, no need to be precise, it doesn't have to go all the way to the edges nor does it have to be smoothed out evenly. Then loosely roll the prosciutto starting from a short side, you want a short fat roll rather than a long skinny one. Set aside and prepare the rest of the rolls.

Smear the bottom of a 6 cup oval gratin dish or similar sized baking dish with some of the tomato sauce. Arrange the rolls in the baking dish, pour the rest of the tomato sauce over the rolls, sprinkle more prosciutto over the top, sprinkle a couple of tablespoons or so of breadcrumbs over all and then drizzle some olive oil in a pattern over all.

Bake until heated through and bubbling around the edges, the rolls should have puffed up some, about 45 minutes.

Serves 4, or perhaps 6 or more as an appetizer.

Mustard Greens and Apple Galette

Sounds a bit weird perhaps, a savory galette of mustard greens with apple? But the hint of sweet and tart apple is a very nice complement to the slightly bitter bite of mustard greens and comes together nicely with the nutty whole wheat pastry and tang of sharp cheddar cheese. My husband who is generally not a fan of bitter things took note of the bit of bitterness but found the galette to be delicious. He ate a quarter of the galette with gusto. I carried the apple theme to the accompanying simple salad of Red Iceberg and Three Heart Butterhead lettuces tossed with sliced apple, toasted sliced almonds, and a lemony honey-mustard vinaigrette.

1 recipe Whole Wheat Galette Dough

About 1 pound mustard greens
About 2 tablespoons roasted peanut oil or other oil
1 small onion, chopped
3-4 ounces Pink Beauty apple (half of a large apple), cut into 1/4-inch dice, no need to peel
About 1 tablespoon fermented sweet pepper paste
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
4 ounces Cheddar cheese, grated on coarse holes of a box grater
About a tablespoon of creme fraiche or heavy cream or an egg yolk thinned with a bit of water

Prepare the galette dough and refrigerate it while preparing the filling.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the mustard greens in batches, about 15 seconds per batch, allow to drain and cool in a colander. Gently squeeze some of the moisture out of the greens. Stack the greens so that the fat stems ends can be sliced about 1/4-inch thick and set aside, slice the leafy parts about 1/4 inch thick also. Don't be fussy, some fat stems will be a bit leafy and some leafy parts will be a bit stemmy.

Heat the oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Saute the onion until translucent. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the diced apple and pepper paste and saute until the pepper paste is incorporated. Add the chopped mustard green stems and continue to saute a few minutes, then stir in the leafy parts and add salt to taste. Continue to saute until any excess moisture cooks off, turn the heat up again if necessary. You don't want the filling to be too wet or the pastry will become soggy but you don't want the filling too be dry either. Set the filling aside to cool as you roll the galette dough.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Cut a piece of parchment paper at least 12 inches wide.

Roll the galette dough out to about a 16-inch circle. Transfer the dough to the parchment paper, it may be larger than the paper but after folding the sides of the dough over the filling it should fit. 

Arrange the filling over the dough leaving about 2 inches uncovered all around. Season the filling with freshly ground black pepper and grated nutmeg. Add more salt if necessary. Scatter the grated cheese evenly over the filling. Fold the edges of the dough up over the filling but don't be fussy about arranging it. Brush the folded over portions of the dough with the creme fraiche. Slide the pastry on the parchment paper onto a large flat baking sheet.

Bake in the middle of the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes, I use the convection fan so it speeds up the baking and makes for a nice brown crisp crust.

Transfer the baked galette to a cooling rack for a few minutes before slicing and serving. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Makes 4 main course servings or 6 to 8 appetizer servings.

Zucchini and Spinach Gratin with Ricotta Custard

My adaptation of a recipe from Deborah Madison's Book The Savory Way takes advantage of dried zucchini and frozen spinach from the garden. A pound of fresh zucchini dries down to about 1 ounce. I rehydrated it with the liquid that the frozen zucchini gives off as well as the moisture from the mushrooms and onions. The vegetable mixture should be prepared in advance to allow the zucchini to absorb the moisture from the other vegetables. It can be mixed and kept in the refrigerator overnight or longer.

1.25 ounces (35 g.) dried sliced Romanesco zucchini
8 ounces frozen spinach, thawed, excess moisture squeezed out and reserved
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon tomato paste thinned with a little water
sweet fermented pepper flakes to taste (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
crumbled dried oregano to taste

1 cup ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1 cup milk, cream or a combination
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground pepper
freshly grated nutmeg

Place the dried zucchini in a bowl. Add the reserved spinach water to the zucchini and set aside.

Warm the oil in a medium skillet and add the onions and garlic. Sauté about 1 minute, then add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Cook until the mushrooms soften and begin to release their liquid. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of zucchini, stir to mix, cover and set aside for a few hours or overnight in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Season the rehydrated zucchini mixture with the tomato paste, pepper flakes, parsley, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the mixture to a gratin dish. Chop the spinach and distribute it over the zucchini mixture, season with salt and fresh ground pepper.

Beat the ricotta with the eggs, then stir in the milk or cream, the cheese, and the remaining parsley. Season with salt and nutmeg. Pour the mixture over the vegetables. Bake until the custard is set and lightly browned on top, about 40 to 45 minutes. Allow the gratin to stand about 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm.

Makes 4 main course servings.

Back Country Rice Noodles and Veggies with Shrimp

10 g. dried Petite Marseillaise or Yummy Belle or Odessa Market peppers
10 g. dried napa cabbage (part fermented mustard greens)
10 g. dried Pomme D'Amour tomatoes
10 g. dried Romanesco zucchini
10 g. dried Oven Caramelized onions
50 to 60 g. dried cooked shrimp
2 to 3 cups water, depending on how soupy you want it to be
50 to 60 g. rice noodles (break up the noodles at home) or 1 single serving size Thai Kitchen Bangkok Curry Rice noodles
1 tablespoon green curry paste, dehydrated (or the seasoning packet from the Curry Rice Noodles)
1 dried Thai Lime leaf
3 tablespoons (30 g.) coconut milk powder, optional
1 small packet soy sauce
Fish sauce to taste

At home, package the dried vegetables and lime leaf into a small resealable bag, package the shrimp separately, package the noodles and seasonings separately.

In camp. Put the shrimp in a pan with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and remove from heat, let soak for 5 minutes. Add the veggies to the pan and soak for at least another 5 minutes.

Add the noodles and seasonings, including the coconut powder if using, to the pot, add more water if desired for a more soupy dish, and slowly bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and insulate and let sit for another 10 minutes.

Serve immediately

Makes 2 portions.

A Stew of Beans, Pork Sausage, Zucchini, Tomatillo, and Green Chile

This came together as a result of raiding my pantry and freezer. I had tomatillos that had been roasted until soft and then frozen. There was a frozen packet of green Anaheim peppers that I had roasted, peeled, and seeded. The pork sausage was from the freezer also. Beans were from the pantry and dehydrated sliced zucchini from the refrigerator. I started the beans in the morning using what has become my favorite slow cook method. The slow method works magic with old beans. My 3 year old Petaluma Gold Rush beans took about 6 hours, fresher beans will cook more quickly and different varieties cook at different rates.

For the beans:

8 ounces Petaluma Gold Rush beans
1 quart water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 inch piece dried kombu kelp (supposedly has enzymes that make the beans more digestible)

Combine the beans, water, salt, and kelp in a lidded heavy 2 to 3 quart casserole (such as a Staub cocotte). Place in the oven and turn it on to 250ºF and bake for 1 hour. Turn the heat down to 220ºF and continue to cook until the beans are tender but not falling apart. Check on the beans every hour and then more often when they start to soften. Don't let them boil.

When the beans are done remove them from the oven, remove the lid and allow them to cool in their broth. They can be done ahead and refrigerated overnight in their broth. Remove the kelp or not, after 6 hours it will be falling apart and will just disappear into the sauce of the finished dish without leaving a noticeable flavor.

For the stew:

1 ounce dehydrated sliced zucchini
1 pound bulk pork sausage or ground pork
Olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
A pinch of ground cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon Oregano Indio
1 teaspoon dried fermented Aji Amarillo Grande pepper flakes
About 2 cups roasted tomatillos
About 8 ounces roasted and peeled green Anaheim peppers, coarsely chopped
About 2 teaspoons or more piloncillo sugar (or brown sugar) or to taste
Creme fraiche and grated cheese to serve

Place the zucchini in a bowl and add enough of the bean broth to cover generously. Set aside and allow it to soak. This can be done a few hours in advance but that long is not necessary.

Heat a large enameled cast iron casserole over medium heat. Break up the sausage with your hands and add it to the casserole with a splash of olive oil and cook until browned, breaking it up more with a wooden spatula as it cooks. Turn the heat up near the end to cook off most of the juices. Drain the cooked sausage, reserving the fat, and set the sausage aside. Return the fat to the casserole and add more olive oil and heat it over medium heat. Saute the garlic briefly and then add the onion, continue to cook until the onion is translucent. Add the cumin, cinnamon, Oregano Indio, and pepper flakes to the casserole and stir a minute or so. Add the tomatillos and break them up with a potato masher. Add the peppers, the zucchini with their soaking liquid, and the pork. Bring to a simmer, cover the casserole, and cook until the zucchini is just al dente. Add the beans with their remaining broth and the sugar. Bring back to a simmer and heat through. Taste for sugar and salt.

Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche and a sprinkling of grated cheese, I used Carmody but a jack cheese would be nice too.

Made about 6 to 8 servings.

White Bean, Winter Squash, and Cabbage Stew

The 3 main components for this stew are prepared separately and then combined at the end. I find it's easiest to make sure each different component is properly cooked if prepared separately and they also retain their individual flavors. This can easily be turned into a vegetarian main dish by omitting the ham hock and anchovy. Perhaps substitute some dried porcini mushrooms for the ham hock.

For the beans:
6 ounces dry Tarbais beans
1 small smoked ham hock
1 bay leaf
A 1 1/2-inch piece of dried kombu kelp (supposedly aids digestibility)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 quart cold water

For the squash:
1 1/4 pound piece of winter squash (Terremoto)
Olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 small sprigs rosemary, chopped (1 to 2 tablespoons?)
1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon fermented sweet pepper paste
1 anchovy packed in olive oil
2 cups tomato puree
Cooking liquid from the beans (the bean broth)

For the cabbage:
1/2 head small green cabbage, cut in about 1 to 1 1/2-inch squares
Olive oil

To finish:
salt to taste
chopped fresh parsley

Start the beans first, I do this in the morning. Put all the ingredients for the beans into a small heavy covered casserole and cover. Place in the oven and heat to 250ºF. After 1 hour turn the temperature down to 220ºF. Cook, covered, until the beans are tender but not falling apart, about 5 to 6 hours, more or less depending on how old the beans are. Check the beans every hour or so and once they are plump and starting to soften check them more often. Set the beans aside to cool in the bean broth. The beans can be prepared in advance and kept in the refrigerator in the cooking liquid. They can sit at room temperature until the stew is assembled. Once the beans are cool remove the ham hock and remove the meat and shred finely. Set the shredded ham aside separately.

To cook the squash and stew base. First remove the seeds and then cut the squash into 3/4-inch thick slices (I use the width of my index finger as a guide), cut off the skins, then cut the slices into cubes and set them aside. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a deep heavy pot, I use a 5-quart Staub enameled cast iron pot. Saute the onions and garlic over medium-low heat until they are softened. Add the rosemary, tomato paste, pepper paste, and anchovy to the pot and stir until the pastes and anchovy are incorporated. Allow the flavor base to sizzle a bit and then add the tomato puree. Stir the squash into the tomato sauce and stir in enough bean broth to cover the squash. Bring to a strong simmer and cook uncovered until the squash is tender.

While the squash is cooking prepare the cabbage. Heat a couple of tablespoons over medium heat in a wide saute pan. When the oil just starts to shimmer add the cabbage and saute a couple of minutes and then add about 1/2 cup of the bean broth. Cover the pan and allow the cabbage to cook until it is just tender. Remove from the heat and reserve.

To assemble the stew. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid, and gently stir the beans into the pot of squash. Stir in the reserved shredded ham. Stir in the tender cabbage. Add the rest of the bean broth. Season to taste with salt and stir in some chopped fresh parsley. Serve with additional chopped parsley on top.

Made about 6 main course servings.

Spinach, Cheddar, and Brioche Pudding

I didn't measure most of the ingredients as I went along so the quantities are a bit vague.

1/4 loaf or so of Brioche, cut into about 1-inch cubes and toasted in a 350ºF oven
Butter as needed
1 small onion, chopped
A couple of small cloves of garlic, minced
Frozen spinach (about 12 ounces?), thawed, excess water squeezed out, and chopped
3 ounces cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 eggs
Freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 325ºF.

Generously butter a 10 x 6 x 1 3/4-inch glass baking dish or a similar sized gratin dish.

Saute the onion and garlic in a couple of tablespoons of butter over medium heat until the onion is soft and translucent. Season to taste with salt. Add the spinach to the pan and stir to mix. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a bit.

Scatter half of the spinach mixture over the bottom of the baking dish. Top the spinach with the toasted cubes of brioche fitting them in fairly snugly. Scatter the remaining spinach mixture over the brioche and then scatter the cheddar evenly over the top.

Whisk together the milk, eggs, and nutmeg. Pour the mixture evenly over the contents of the baking dish being sure to moisten all the brioche. The milk mixture will not completely cover the brioche and spinach.

Bake for about 30 minutes until the top of the pudding is browned and crisp. Serve hot or warm.

Makes about 3 to 4 main course servings or 6 to 8 side servings.

Savory Winter Squash and Ricotta Custards

This is adapted from a recipe for a savory squash torte that is baked in a pan with a breadcrumb crust and then cut into wedges for serving. That sounds great but I didn't have any breadcrumbs or bread on hand so I decided to bake the custard in individual ramekins instead which is what I do for sweet pumpkin custards, aka pumpkin pie filling, because I don't eat the soggy pie crust of pumpkin pies. The savory custards came out better than expected and I think these will become a regular dinner item while I have winter squash around.

I used a chunk of the big Terremoto squash that I grew this year but butternut or pretty much any winter squash should do.

1 3/4 pounds winter squash
4 tablespoons butter
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
Fresh sage leaves, sliced thin (I used about 20 small leaves)
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 ounces ricotta
1 1/2 ounces parmesan
3 eggs
Nutmeg to taste
More salt to taste if desired

Remove the skin and seeds from the squash and cut it into 1-inch cubes. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium sized saute pan over medium heat and allow it to brown. Add the garlic and sage leaves and cook another minute or two. Add the squash and salt to the pan, stir to mix and add 1/2 cup water, bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook the squash until it is soft, about 30 minutes or so, check it every once in a while and give it a stir. Mash the squash (I used a potato masher) to a puree and let some of the moisture cook off, and set it aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter 6 7-ounce ramekins and set them on a parchment lined baking tray.

Whisk together the ricotta, parmesan, eggs, and nutmeg. Stir in the cooled squash. Divide the squash mixture evenly between the ramekins and bake for about 50 minutes until the custard is puffed and set in the center and golden brown.

Serve immediately in the ramekins or they can be cooled and kept in the ramekins and reheated later. They can also be turned out of the ramekins and reheated with some cream or a sauce.

Farro Salad with Tomatoes and Mozzarella

This recipe was inspired by a Summer Farro Salad on Food 52 but I reduced the amount of farro, simplified the cooking of it, increased the amount of "goodies", and used a different dressing so I claim this recipe as my own.

1 1/2 cups uncooked farro
2 cups water, include water from Mozzarella if desired
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 ounces red onion, thinly sliced
1 pound cherry tomatoes, a mix of colors is nice, halved
8 ounces Mozzarella Ciliegine, halved or quartered
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

6 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 tablespooon red wine vinegar

Add the farro, with the water to a 2 quart pot. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Turn off burner and let sit, covered, until cool. If in a rush allow to sit for 5 or 10 more minutes until the water has been fully absorbed by the farro, then spread the grains out on a baking sheet and refrigerate until cool.

Toss the cooled farro with the onion, tomatoes, mozzarella, parsley, and basil.

Whisk together the oil, pomegranate molasses, and vinegar. Pour the dressing over the ingredients and stir well to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Makes about 6 main course servings.