Simple Creamed Chard

This recipe looks way more complicated than it is.  Really.  Promise.  I just like hearing myself talk … or I suppose reading myself write?  Anyway.  This is really simple and delicious and can be made in very little time. 

Ingredients

1 bunch of chard
1/4 - 1/3 of an onion
1/4 cup (or more) fortified wine, such as Madeira, Marsala, or Sherry
1/3 - 1/2 cup (or more) heavy cream
butter or oil
salt and pepper, to taste

 *In a pinch, you can use a strong, dry white wine.


The Cooking Part 

Wash the chard and remove the stems; chop them like you would celery.  Slice the leaves lengthwise, then cut the strips into approximately one-inch squares.  Mince the onion.

In a pan with a lid or a saucepan with a lid, melt a pat of butter or heat a dollop of oil over medium heat.

Put the chard stems into the pan and sauté for  2-4 minutes, then add the onion, and continue to sauté until the onion is soft and translucent but not brown.  (The onion will become slightly red in color if you are using colorful chard.)

Now add the wine - it should hiss/sizzle/steam; add the chard leaves as the mixture calms down and cover the entire business with a lid.  

Let the chard leaves steam for 5-7 minutes, then remove the lid and add the cream.

Simmer the whole business until the cream has thickened to your liking.

Serve; nom. 

"The" Soup

One of my roommates refers to this as “the soup” - it’s a nice, comforting, warm, starchy, make-you-feel-at-home kind of recipe, and it keeps well in the fridge.  The fancy version makes a slight difference in taste, but both are delicious, so most of the time I just go the labor-saving route.  Eat your heart out.

Ingredients:

4 large baking/Russet potatoes
1 or 2 medium-to-large carrots
1/3 -1/2 of a large onion
broth - any kind really, at least 4 cups, probably more
peppercorns
1-2 bay leaves
at least 4 slices of bacon
1-2 cups milk
some grated parmesan, to season
salt
pepper
worcestershire, if so desired
two bulbs of garlic (fancy version) OR 4-5 cloves of garlic

*** Fancy version.***
This will make a mess and take probably about 2 hours all told.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Cut the heads off the bulbs of garlic, and remove as much of the papery layer as you can while still maintaining the integrity of the bulbs. Drizzle the exposed garlic with olive oil and roast in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  If garlic begins to singe, reapply olive oil.  Remove and let cool. Then let cool some more.  (Seriously - they retain heat like nobody’s business.) Once cooled, remove the individual cloves and squeeze the garlic paste into a bowl.

Proceed.

"The Cooking Part"

Peel and chop carrots, potatoes, and onion and place in a pot with the bay leaf/leaves, peppercorns and the whole cloves of garlic. (Fancy version: instead of the whole cloves, add the garlic paste.) Barely cover the whole business with broth, bring to a boil, and leave to simmer covered at least until the carrots are squishable, or longer if you like.

In the mean time, fry up or microwave the bacon until it is crispy. You want it to be a little crispier than you would usually have for breakfast. A little burnt is fine too. Place on paper towels, then crumble, crush, or chop.

Check on the vegetables, stir, add more broth if necessary. (Some of the broth will be absorbed, and that’s fine, just add more if it looks like things are going to start sticking or burning.)

Once they are done to your satisfaction, remove the bay leaves/leaf and blend until you like the consistency. It will be thicker than you expect; about the consistency of thick mashed potatoes.  

After blending, return to medium heat and stir in milk. Return to a simmer, then add cheese, salt (or not, depending on the broth you’re using), pepper and (if you like that sort of thing) Worcestershire. If it is thicker than you’d like it to be, add more milk or broth in about quarter cups. Once it has reached a texture you like, add the bacon.

Nom.  

The simplest recipe you will ever make

(Brought to you by “The local Safeway has ripe avocados on sale this week.”)

Ingredients

Some toast (sourdough, whole, white - really any kind works well)
A ripe avocado
garlic salt, or salt and garlic powder
pepper

"The Cooking Part"

1. Remove the pit and peel from the avocado; put it in a bowl.
2. Mash it with a fork.
3. Season.
4. Put it on toast.

(Yield: About two slices of toast.)

Torta verde (Italian vegetable pie)

This recipe comes from my roommate’s step-grandmother, who learned it in Italy, where it is apparently commonly sold from carts on the beach.  It works great cold as well as warm.  :)

Ingredients

Shell
3 cups flour 
1-2 TBLSP olive oil
water (as needed, will wind up being more than you think — I wound up using more than a cup, so be prepared)

Filling
A whole bunch of veggies, depending on what you like:
Swiss chard or spinach (washed, chopped)
cauliflower or broccoli (washed, chopped)
zucchini (washed, chopped)
potatoes (peeled, chopped)
"a handful" of rice, cooked for about 10 min (about 3/4 done)
1/3 to 3/4 of an onion, chopped
2 or more cloves of garlic, chopped
some parsley, if you like, chopped
3 eggs
3/4 cups grated parmesan (substitute cheese of your choice)
fresh or dried marjoram, to taste
1/4 cup olive oil (a swig)
salt and pepper, to taste.

"The Cooking Part"

Preheat the oven to 375.

Chop all the veggies. Some people apparently like to sauté the onions until soft but not yet brown and boil the potatoes in salted water for about 15 minutes (yes, they’ll be a little underdone), but I have yet to try that. Mix all the veggies in a big bowl along with the spices and cheese. Salt liberally (I have never managed to oversalt this, and most of the time it comes out undersalted). Beat the three eggs in a bowl, then add them and the olive oil to the veggie/rice/spice mix. Let it all sit while you make the dough.  

This part is messy. Get out your pie dish and grease it with olive oil. (In fact, prep all your work surfaces with olive oil, not flour.) In a bowl, mix together the flour and olive oil and some of the water until you get a paste approximately the consistency of pasta dough.  You can also add more olive oil to the dough as you see fit. There will be quite a bit of kneading involved, and the dough will stick to your hands. Move the dough to an oiled surface and roll out about half of it until it fits into the pie dish nicely. Place it into the oiled dish and then oil whatever dough is visible. Take the veggies and place them in the shell — they will probably protrude in a little heap; just press them down with your hands or the back side of a spoon.

Roll out the other half of the dough and place it on top of the pie; then cut three slits in the top to let the steam out while it bakes. Oil (or butter, if you want?) the top crust, and stick it in an oven for at least 45 minutes. Keep checking regularly; if there is still liquid visible through the slits or if any seeps out of them when you press down on the pie, it’s not done yet. You can reapply oil to the crust if it looks as if it’s getting too dry, or you can put the pie on a lower rack.  

Clean up. (This is probably the longest step, but don’t be tempted to put it off. It’s a pain and a half once the dough has dried, but it’s okay when it’s still sorta wet.)