Archives for posts with tag: homemade

IMG_2589

Sometimes cooking becomes the daily grind.  You have no creativity and don’t feel like cooking very much.  I was in that place for a little while, a funk, if you will.  I think we all go through phases like this.  I was cooking dinner and just getting by and not expanding my culinary repertoire much.  And then one day I just felt upset, upset that I’ve let something go that I’m so passionate about.

IMG_2541

IMG_2553

I thought to myself, I used to go to the Farmers’ Market every Saturday and get inspired, I used to think of how I could start something with food.  I felt sad and felt as though I let myself down.  Why must I doubt myself — why must I get into these phases where I am uninspired?  I’m sure this happens to everyone.  I’m sure I’m not alone in this.  Something that helped me get out of this strange aura I was living in, in regard to cooking was that  my friend Christy asked me to participate in a program/class she is involved with on the first 3 Thursdays of every month called the ELLICSR Kitchen.  This is a remarkable program that works with cancer survivors and patients and introduces them to healing, holistic nutrition.

IMG_2558

IMG_2578

When Christy asked me to participate I felt a little apprehensive and scared.  I didn’t know how I could speak ON CAMERA.  When I got there I felt much better – the environment was so warm and friendly and I was a little more at ease (still nervous, though!).  Christy Brissette is a Registered Dietician and Nutritionist who explains nutritional components to dishes and Chef Geremy Capone is a wellness chef who expertly prepares all the dishes.  They chose two dishes from my blog and one new dish I created for the workshop and we prepared them together and I shared a little about myself.  Once I got going I was comfortable and I don’t think I fumbled!  The best part was interacting with the lovely audience.  They were so eager to learn and gave me to positive reinforcement I needed.

IMG_2597

IMG_2684

I remember one older lady in particular.  She is living in the hospital and wheelchair bound. She is a regular at the ELLICSR kitchen.  She was the the first to arrive so she could get a prized front-row seat.  She is from India and was excited to talk about the spices we had on display. We made a Potato Radish Salad with a Tarka and she throughly enjoyed it because as she explained to me, she loves raw vegetables over cooked ones.  I’m sure she is over 80 years old and she told me about when she was a child in India.  She would accompany her mother weekly to the fruit and vegetable vendors – she would wait all week for this outing.  She loved all the fresh vegetables and would be in awe of all the activity in the market.  There were other mothers and their children at the market, she told me.  They didn’t seem to enjoy the experience as much as she did.  She plucked fresh peas from the overflowing baskets and ate them raw.  She laughed when she said, “my mother used to call me a goat because I loved to graze on green vegetables like a goat and that I was definitely a goat in my previous life.”  I was amazed at how her memory was so vivid.  She talked about her mother as if she was still a child.  She took my email and told me when she goes home she will get in touch with me.  I hope I hear from her soon.

IMG_2660

Since that day, I decided I wanted to reach out more and hear more stories like this.  We all have something to share and we all have memories that will last for decades and need to passed on.  Just lend an ear and give someone some time and without expectation you can gain invaluable insight.

Back into the kitchen I went.  Cooking more and eating out less.  I recently started to make ricotta cheese at home.  So easy and so good.  I made this pasta because these are flavors I love – sweet corn, fruity red chilies, fresh basil, and creamy ricotta.  It’s summer on a plate and the sunshine colors make it all the more appealing.  Share it with friends or family and learn something new about each other.

Some quickly shot photos from the ELLICSR Kitchen Event:

Image-2

Image

Image-1

Sweet Corn, Red Chili Linguine with Fresh Ricotta and Basil

Serves 4

Ingredients

linguine, or pasta of your choice

olive oil

sea salt

4-5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thinly

3 mild red chilies, chopped

1/2 teaspoon crushed red chilies (red chili flakes), optional

2 cups fresh shucked corn, or frozen kernels

fresh ricotta, for serving I used this recipe.

fresh basil leaves in a chiffonade

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

2-3 tablespoons heavy cream

Method

In a large sauté pan heat about 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-low heat.  Add in the sliced garlic and the fresh red chilies.  Allow them to caramelize and almost confit for about 15 minutes.  Meanwhile cook the linguine according to the package instructions and reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid.  Add in the crushed red chilies with the garlic and red chilies, if you are using.

Turn the heat up to medium and add in the corn.  Cook the corn for about 5-7 minutes.  Season with salt, to taste and add in the heavy cream and parsley.  Toss in the linguine and add 1/2 cup of pasta cooking liquid and sauté until it all comes together, about 1-2 minutes.  Add in more pasta cooking liquid, if necessary.  Serve hot and top with a dollop of fresh ricotta and the basil leaves in chiffonade.

I am pretty sure pizza takeout places are buzzing on Fridays.  I must admit, when I am too lazy to cook, I have picked up the phone and placed an order for a processed cheese and squishy vegetable pizza.  There are not any great takeout pizza places where I live, so I find it to be a better option to make my own.

My family has been doing this for ages.  Making three or four pizzas at a time and devouring them all.  In high school, my friend’s mom also made great pizzas every week.  It is a family tradition for many of us.  Pizza can be doctored up in so many ways, that anyone can find something they like.  Pizza is a unifier for us all.  Who thought pizza could hold such a deep place for humans?  Sarcasm aside and in simpler words, everyone loves pizza!

There are no hard and fast rules to making pizza.  I usually use a whole wheat crust, (this time I got one from my local bakery) but feel free to use white, gluten-free, or herbed.  It is not that hard to make pizza crust and it is worth it.  Bread/Dough, of course is another common ground for all human beings.

Toppings are endless.  I am definitely a toppings girl.  I can never decide what I am in the mood for.  There are so many decisions to make and if you know me, you know how indecisive I am, especially when it comes to food.  This is probably because I want everything but ultimately I have to toughen up and make a decision. This time my refrigerator dictated what the outcome would be.  Instead of tomato sauce, I used ricotta cheese.  In the summertime, I like to make a simple Neapolitan style pizza, but in the winter I like the heartier ricotta.  If any New Englanders know about Papa Gino’s, you may remember their 3 cheese (or was it 4 cheese) pizza that had dollops of ricotta on it.  I used to love this pizza as a child.  I wish my inspiration for the ricotta came from a more sophisticated source, but alas it was good ole Papa Gino’s.

Pizza with Herbed Ricotta

Serves 3-4

Pizza dough

1/2 a bell pepper (any color you prefer) cut into small strips

3-4 stalks of asparagus cut on an angle

1/2 a zucchini, thinly sliced

1 onion, caramelized (sauté onion in a little olive oil on medium-low heat, add salt, pepper, 2 sprigs of thyme, crushed red chilies, and 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar and allow to caramelize for about 15 minutes)

1/2 cup whole Kalamata olives, pits removed

3-4 cloves roasted garlic, optional

fresh mozzarella cheese or buffalo mozzarella, as much as you like

parmigiano regginao, as much as you like

fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish

crushed red chilies for garnish

For the ricotta mixture:

3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley

1/2 cup baby arugula

15 sprigs fresh chives

salt, to taste

black pepper, to taste

Method

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Roll out your dough onto a large baking sheet (round or rectangular).  If you have a pizza stone you may use that as well.

For the ricotta mixture, pulse all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth or mix and combine in a bowl but in this case, chop the herbs finer.

Spread the ricotta over the dough and top with the vegetable and cheese.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the crust is cooked and the cheese starts to get bubbly.  If you wish, garnish with the parsley and crushed red chilies.