I love to cook.  This category is for my favorite recipes and some selected family recipes that I like.  I want to put them here so they are indexed and searchable, and because the file folder full of loose leaf pieces of paper is getting dog-eared and the pages are getting wrinkled and spattered or torn after all these years.

Argentinian Chimichurri

Probably my favorite "steak sauce" in the world is Argentinian chimichurri.  The Argentinians know what they're doing with steak.  In fact one of the best Argentinian restaurant's I've been to (and the chimichurri was excellent) was El Argentino in the resort town of Canoa Quebrada, Céara, Brasil.  If have the means to get there, you should.  Don't forget Brazil requires a pre-authorized entry visa for US & Canada citizens.

Unlike most of the recipes I've posted on my site, I haven't tried to make this yet.  I got the recipe from a Bolivian friend (thanks Lizie!) who hand-wrote it in Spanish on a scrap of paper as told to her by her Argentinian friend.  I haven't been eating steak at home because I didn't have access to a barbecue until recently.  I'm going to make it someday soon.

Ingredients

  • Perejil italiano (Italian Parsley)
  • Pimienta negra (black pepper)
  • Oregano
  • Salt
  • Vinaigre rojo de vino (red wine vinegar)
  • Aceita de maiz (corn oil) o Aceita de Oliva (or olive oil)
  • Pimiento rojo molido (red pepper, ground)
  • Pimiento rojo picante (red pepper, hot)
  • Ajo (garlic)

The two red pepper items were on their own lines which makes me think maybe the first one is a red bell pepper, and the second might be crushed red chilies.

Preparation

Um unfortunately the scrap of paper wasn't big enough to contain the proportions/measurements or any preparation instructions.  I've asked Lizie, but in the meantime if you know how to make this please feel free to send me an e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I'll update this recipe and credit you. :)

Madeleines

Recipe for Madeleines (French butter sponge cakes)

  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 2/3 cup white granulated sugar for decoration

Procedure

Melt butter and then let come to room temperature.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter & flour 24 3-inch madeleine molds.

Beat eggs, vanilla & salt at high speed until light/fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating constantly until mixture is thick & pale and ribbons form in bowl when beaters are lifted (5-10 min).  Sift the flour into the egg mixture 1/3 at a time, gently folding after each addition.  Add lemon zest and pour melted butter around edge of batter.  Quickly but gently fold butter into batter.

Spoon batter into molds, it will mound up slightly above the tops.  Bake 14-17 minutes, or until cakes are golden and the tops spring back when pressed.

Invert to remove from pan and cool on a rack. Immediately sprinkle the warm cookies with granulated sugar. Serve with coffee or tea.

Caesar Salad and Dressing

Caesar salad dressing

  • 6 or 7 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup to 1 cup light cooking oil (sunflower, canola, cheap olive oil) - I never measure the oil because I'm going for a consistency
  • salt to taste, maybe 1 tsp or a bit more
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice or 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • fresh garlic, minced, LOTS
  • 2-4 anchovy fillets, canned is fine
  • 1/2 cup to 1 1/2 cup parmesan cheese.  Reserve some for garnish

Separate the eggs and put only the yolks in a bowl you can whisk in.  VIGOROUSLY whisk the egg yolks while slowly drizzling in the oil.  If your arms get tired, too bad - keep whisking until the mixture (technically, it's an emulsion) forms the consistency of thick mayonnaise.  Add the lemon juice, minced garlic, and salt and whisk in.  The garlic rule here is when you're absolutely certain you've ruined it by putting in WAY too much garlic, then you add even more garlic.  Mince or finely chop the anchovy fillets (I run them through the garlic press same as the cloves of garlic) and mix/whisk them in.

Grate a big pile of parmesan cheese, you can't go wrong with it so put as much in as you want. Whisk/stir the cheese in and let the dressing sit in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours or overnight so the flavors all meld together.

Croutons

Caesar salad is really good with croutons. I don't like to buy croutons so I make them when the need arises. One- or two-day-old bread is best for this, plus it's cheap at the bakery.

Preheat oven to 375F. Cut the bread into ~1 inch cubes and put in a big bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and add garlic salt to taste, and toss until well mixed/coated. Arrange the bread cubes in one layer (if possible) on a cookie sheet (I line my very old cookie sheet with foil) and bake for 20-25 minutes until the croutons are dried out and crunchy and golden brown. If they aren't browning you can turn on the broiler for 2 or 3 minutes to lightly toast them. Let the croutons cool then store in a ziploc bag for 2 or 3 days at most.

To serve:

  • Dressing (above)
  • 1-2 heads Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • Lemon wedges
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Croutons (above)

Chop the romaine lettuce.  Put it in a big salad bowl, add the dressing, and toss until the leaves are well coated.  Serve in individual salad bowls with a lemon wedge, grated parmesan cheese, croutons, and fresh ground pepper.

Enjoy!  Props to my very good friend Leanna Buzak, she showed me how to make the dressing.  Garlic == Love <3
 

Simona's Cabbage Rolls

I spent Christmas 2011 with my family in Chicago. Simona is my ... well, we are related somehow. She is a VERY good cook. Anyway Simona is Romanian and this is her family's recipe for cabbage rolls which she has perfected. This recipe makes 75-150 cabbage rolls (depending on how many cabbages you use and how big you make them), but they freeze very well and are delicious reheated too.

Ingredients for Cabbage Rolls

  • 4-6 young cabbages (smooth cabbages, not veiny or bulky, are nicer)
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • salt
  • savory
  • dill weed, chopped (fresh is better, but dried dill is fine)

And the filling:

  • 2-6 onions (to taste, yo. How many onions you use depends on how much you like onions.)
  • cooking oil (olive oil or whatever you have)
  • tomato paste
  • sugar
  • salt
  • ground pepper
  • italian seasoning
  • ground pork and/or ground beef, maybe 2-3 pounds
  • white rice (brown rice is OK too) - maybe 1 cup of rice per pound of meat

You also need:

  • 1 big can of diced tomatoes

Procedure

Fill (leaving enough room for the cabbages) a very large (12+ quarts) pot with water. Add vinegar and 2 handfuls of salt, and add several shakes of savory and as much dill as you want. Bring water to boil. Core the cabbages so the leaves cook evenly. Put the whole cabbages in the boiling water and boil for about 10 minutes until discolored and brown. Fish the cabbages out and cool them in a bowl. Without cutting through the leaf, cut/trim the thick spine from each leaf (so it is more or less uniform thickness) and set aside. Save the scraps/spines and torn leaves, we need those too. I like the taste of the boiled cabbage so I like to eat it while I work.

Heat oil slightly in a frying pan. Chop the onions and cook (mostly covered) over medium-low heat until caramelized. Add tomato paste and a bit of water. Add sugar to taste, also add quite a bit of salt, also ground pepper and italian seasoning to taste. Cook until well blended, then turn off heat. Stir in ground pork/ground beef raw. Stir rice into the onion/meat/tomato mixture. It will be visibly lumpy and should not be runny.

Dump out the salt/vinegar water from boiling the cabbages. Arrange cabbage scraps in the bottom of the now-empty big pot. Put a spoonful of filling into each cabbage leaf and roll it up TIGHT. It's hard to explain how to do this but you want to tuck in both ends kind of like a burrito as you roll the cabbage leaf around the filling. Arrange the cabbage rolls in the pot, starting around the edges, until the pot is filled. Cover with 1 can of diced tomatoes. Add water if necessary to make sure the cabbage rolls are covered. Cover with leftover cabbage leaves.

Cover the pot, and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium low and cook for an hour or so until the rice is done. Simona says the acid from the tomatoes makes the rice take a long time to cook.

Serve with sour cream or ketchup or whatever garnish you want. These are delicious. This is a super easy recipe and can feed a large group.

Braised Artichokes à la Brunella

If you're like me, the only way you knew how to prepare and eat artichokes is to boil or steam them and then tear off the leaves one at a time and dip them in mayonnaise and scrape off the edible part of the artichoke with your teeth. Brunella had a much lower fat, more interesting, and tastier way of preparing artichokes. Like my other recipes I posted recently, this one comes to you from Brunella at il Bistro Italiano in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Braised artichokes make a terrific appetizer and they smell really really good while cooking.

Braised Artichoke Recipe

  • Artichokes
  • Italian parsley
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt 

Cut the artichokes in half. Using a melon baller, scoop out the "choke" which is the fibrous hairy part attached to the heart. You might want to wear gloves because apparently artichokes turn your hands black. Put the cut artichokes in a bowl water with a bit of lemon juice so they don't start to oxidize and turn brown.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Get the parsley leaves off the stems, more or less. Peel the garlic. Put the garlic cloves and parsley leaves in a food processor and turn it into a puree. You might want to add some salt too.

Put the artichoke halves face up in a lasagna pan or other deep baking dish. Stuff generously with the parsley/garlic puree, even pushing the puree down into the spaces between the leaves if you can. Shake or grind salt over them, and drizzle with olive oil. I found mine were not salty enough and I wished I'd been more generous with the salt at this stage. Fill the pan with water until the artichokes are not quite covered. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 2-3 hours until the artichokes are completely cooked. If too much water has evaporated while they cook, add some more, because you don't want them to burn.