Sunday, December 20, 2009

Warm up with cabbage soup!

Teevoz checking in after the first big snowstorm of the season in New York! I've always loved the snow. I'm a January baby, and I've long believed that we most love the season we were born in - maybe because it reminds us of birthdays, maybe because of some mystical astrological reason, maybe for no reason at all.

I have half a mind to go outside and build a snowman right now, but instead I think I'll share my tweaked version of my dear friend Faith's recipe for cabbage soup that is easy to make and delicious. You can take the extra time to shred your own green and red cabbage and carrots, or you can use a pre-shredded package which, honestly, is just as good and much easier.

Faith's Incredible Cabbage Soup

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound stew beef cut into small pieces

1 pound coleslaw mix with shredded green/red cabbage & carrots
1 large sweet onion, sliced thin
2-3 cloves garlic smashed and chopped

1 28 oz can of Muir Glen Fire-roasted diced or crushed tomatoes (or try their diced tomatoes with garlic and onions)

1 qt low-sodium beef or vegetable broth (or try half regular and half low-sodium)

3/4 cup water (approx.)

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

1/3 cup long-grain white rice

1. Heat oil in 6-quart pot over medium heat. Saute beef until browned, about 5-6 minutes. You should saute the beef in small batches so it browns rather than steams.

2. Add coleslaw mix (or shredded cabbage/carrots) and onion; cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring after about 2 minutes.

3. Add tomatoes, broth, water, brown sugar, lemon juice, and salt/pepper. Bring to a boil.

4. Add rice; reduce heat to medium low/low. Simmer, covered, for 45 minutes or until the rice and beef are tender.

NOTE: You can substitute 1/3 cup tubettini or other small pasta for the rice if you like, but since it would need less cooking time than rice, let the cabbage-beef-liquid mixture simmer about 15 minutes before adding the pasta, and then continue cooking for about half an hour.

That's it!

Add a salad, some crusty bread, and - as always - a nice glass of red wine, and you have a perfect warming dinner for a cold winter's night.


For those of you who'd like a meatless soup - check out Mark Bittman's wonderful How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food which has some great ideas for using cabbage in mouth-watering vegetarian soups and all manner of foods!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Baked Pasta and Chicken: One-dish deliciousness

Hello again, Teevoz here .... we haven't forgotten you! I tend to do more cooking in the winter, don't you? Well, we had our first snowfall in New York this weekend, so I thought it was time to share some easy and delicious recipes for the winter with you, our very patient readers.

This one, adapted from Giada De Laurentiis, is a seriously easy and incredibly delicious Italian baked pasta and chicken dish that will warm you up on a cold night. Make a salad while it's baking and you'll have dinner on the table in an hour.

Baked Pasta and Chicken

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

1 cup dry mini fusilli or any small pasta

2 raw boneless chicken cutlets (about 1 pound)
olive oil - try garlic-infused for extra flavor

1 small onion, diced (about 1/2 to 3/4 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced

1 can (14.5 oz) fire-roasted diced tomatoes
approx 1/2 to 3/4 cup good tomato sauce

1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated parmesan

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or parsley
salt and pepper - lemon pepper adds a nice flavor

approx 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
approx 1/2 cup grated parmesan
approx 1 to 2 tablespoons butter

1. Cook pasta in a pot of boiling salted water, until al dente - about 5 minutes. Drain and put in large mixing bowl with a little butter or olive oil so it doesn't stick together.

2. Cut chicken into cubes and saute in olive oil, about 3 to 5 minutes.

3. Add onion and garlic to chicken, continue to saute until onion is soft and chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Don't let the garlic get too brown or it will be bitter.

4. Add chicken mixture to the pasta and mix together with the tomatoes and their juice, mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, parmesan cheese and basil or parsley. Salt and pepper to taste. Add extra tomato sauce and/or some diced fresh tomatoes if needed - the mixture should be moist.

5. Transfer the pasta mixture to a buttered 8x8x2 baking dish. Cover the top with the bread crumb-parmesan mixture and generously dot the top with butter.

Bake in 400 degree oven for about 30 to 40 minutes, until the top forms a golden brown crust.

Serve with salad and a nice red wine - and enjoy!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Bialy

PL here ...

Bialys are pretty much a lost cause in New York, which is all the more a pity, since New York is where they made their first great stand in the late 19th and early 20th centuries....

A bialy is, well, better than a bagel, even when bagels in New York were made by the original H & H, and other great bagel makers, and were out of this world. But the bialy ... that was something out of the stratosphere, light like a flying saucer, just baked, not boiled, and if the bagel was deliciously chewy, the bialy was ... well, light, yeah, with a white powder all over and shreds of onion in the middle... the unbearable lightness of being bialy.

It got its name from BiaƂystok, Poland - also of Max Bialystock fame - but I always thought that the bialy also maybe had something to do with White Russia. As a kid, I would take a bialy over a bagel seven out of ten times (only kidding, I didn't really keep track), and they were always mouth watering.

And they still were until not that long ago, too. My wife Tina and I would take the kids down to Kossar's at Grand and Essex, on the lower East Side, for late-night bialy runs. We'd buy a few dozen, and they were all but gone by the time we'd made the 40-minute ride back home. They were nowhere as good the next day, but they toasted up pretty well.

Kossar's lost the last of their ancient master bakers a few years ago, and they also told my wife that the NYC Board of Health told them that they could no longer grind the onions with the skins on, which is part of what made the bialys so good. And now, they still taste ok, even very good, but they lack that ineluctable delectability...

It's a good thing I write time travel stories - maybe I can figure out a way to get some character back to Grand and Essex, say, even just 5-10 years ago. Or, you can try Mimi Sheraton's fine book, The Bialy Eaters: The Story of a Bread and a Lost World.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Mom's Delectable Pumpkin Pie

Hello everyone - I'm Tina Vozick, aka teevoz - Paul and I have been together since 1968, married since 1976. (I was, of course, a child bride.) Our two kids, now grown, will attest that he knows a lot about food, but other than toast, a boiled egg, and chicken nuggets, he's really not the one you want to cook for the family. So I'll be chiming in from time to time here with some recipes and other thoughts about food, broadly interpreted.

I'll start with a great recipe. We have some lactose-intolerant family members, so a few Thanksgivings ago I was looking for a non-dairy recipe for pumpkin pie, and found this gem - now it's my recommendation for anyone who wants a smooth and creamy treat, easy to make, whether or not you can eat dairy products. I think it's even better than traditional pumpkin pie recipes.


3/4 cup sugar
1-1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
or you can substitute pumpkin pie spice for the ginger, nutmeg & cloves
1 tablespoon of maple syrup or 1/4 tsp maple extract (optional)
1 15 oz. can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling, just plain old pumpkin)
1-1/4 cups soy milk (10 oz.) - plain or vanilla is even better
2 large eggs

I use a store-bought 10” graham cracker crust, the one that says “2 extra slices” – if you use a 9” graham cracker crust you’ll have a little filling left over that you can do in individual small graham cracker crusts. Or you can make a crumb crust yourself - or if you're really adventurous, a pastry crust. I'm not that adventurous, and the graham cracker crust is delicious.

1. In a large bowl, mix sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Add pumpkin, soy milk, maple syrup and eggs; whisk until well blended - by hand or electric beater. Pour mixture into crust in pan.

2. Set pie on bottom rack of a pre-heated 425° regular (not microwave!) oven. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350°; continue baking until center of pie is just set, about 40 minutes longer. The center should be set, but still jiggle when you give it a shake. To keep the pie from overcooking or the crust burning, turn off the oven, open it, but leave the pie inside to cool: it will continue to cook. After about 20 minutes, take it out of the oven to finish cooling.

3. Set pie on a rack until cool, at least 2 hours. After serving, chill the rest of the pie, airtight, if there's any left. I never have this problem. You could serve it with a dollop of whipped cream on top if you need the dairy fix.

Don't worry if the top of the pie cracks - it always does. But if you're the type of neatnik who wants an uncracked top, try this tip - my daughter said she read that if you put a pan of hot water at the bottom of the oven on a rack below your pie, the steam allows the pie to stay moist while it still cooks and will prevent the cracking. I must say, I'm both skeptical and unsure of why anyone cares if the pie cracks, but give it a whirl and let me know if it works!

I should also mention that you don't have to slavishly follow the quantities - especially the spices and the amount of sugar - you can adjust it to your taste. This is a pretty forgiving recipe, my favorite kind.

I know, it's not Thanksgiving. But trust me, you'll love this pie any time of year, and it is fast and easy to boot.

Bon appetit... and let me know here how it comes out!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Dark Pretzels

PL here ...

You've probably heard that pretzels were invented by a monk in the early dark ages - to reward children for learning their lessons - and fashioned to symbolize arms folded in prayer. But there's no real proof of that, and besides, that's not the reason I love pretzels. As with all things food and drink, for me to key inducement is they taste great and/or are good for you, in some combination.

Now, I like my popcorn and potato chips, too, and will probably be posting little reflections on them, here, sooner or later, but the the fact that I'm writing about pretzels first may tell you something.

And of all the many pretzels, there is one kind that I hold high above all others: the Pennsylvania Dutch extra dark, with low sodium, if possible.

The Dutch actually is comes from Deutch, as in German, and with Pennsylvania in front of it we're talking about the Amish and their brethen who live near Lancaster, as well as Ohio and other places with farms. My family and I have had more than a handful of unique, once-in-a-lifetime food from that area - strawberries that we picked, apricots which had just been picked from a nearby tree - these were the best we ever ate, and remind me to write about them, if I don't soon.

We first saw the dark PA Dutch pretzels in the Bird-in-Hand Farmer's Market a few miles east of Lancaster. We loved them, bought at least a dozen bags to bring back home to New York, and did that for several years, increasing the number of bags each time. That Farmer's Market is open all year around, and also has some great cheeses and other goodies, and one or two times we even drove there in the winter to get our pretzels.

But the bag I have in front of me was purchased in a Mrs. Green's on Central Avenue in Westchester. It's not the same company that made the Bird-in-Hand bags - this one is "Happy Herbert's" - but the pretzels are just as good.

Crisp, the surface has the just the right resistance, and the inside tastes and feels just right on your tongue. So good, you won't even want to dilute the experience by putting the pretzel in a dip. Plus, they're great for watching your favorite television, which can be good for you, too.