For the Love of Buttermilk – Fried Okra and Cornbread

I recently, and somewhat unfortunately, discovered that buttermilk really does make all the difference in recipes. I used to sour regular milk with vinegar or lemon juice and call it a day. I thought it really only made a difference in texture when it came to fine cakes, but for everything else, soured milk was fine. I was wrong. And while that’s great to know, it’s something that’s hard to find and keep on hand in my current location. I’m both jazzed and a little dismayed. But, I made the best fried okra and cornbread ever this weekend and it was mostly thanks to buttermilk. Continue reading

Cinnamon Rolls

Happy Christmas!  I just spent the morning baking off some cinnamon rolls for a friend who’s in town.  I can’t convey the joy I feel seeing an old friend, which of course is making me cry.  In a lifestyle where people come and go and family and friends are far away, I get to see a friend who I’ve known for over ten years.  Which isn’t even that long, but it is in my world.  Please don’t get me wrong, I’ve made some new friends who are a permanent part of my life now.  I love them dearly and I’m so grateful that I met them.  But, it’s so nice to see old friends too.  It’s making my Christmas. Continue reading

Peanut Butter Stars

Merry Christmas ya’ll!  It’s a beautiful day in Hawaii….somewhere in the 70’s.  Not exactly a white Christmas but a beautiful one nonetheless.  In case you need an easy cookie for a party, here’s a good one.  It comes from one of my mom’s friends.  I don’t remember her name, but I remember her food and it was all really good.  Sorry mom’s friend!   Continue reading

Nigella’s Orzotto with Peas and Pancetta (or Bacon)

You guys, this pregnancy is kicking my butt! I’m having a hard time managing to get dinner on the table. So, what’s a preggo to do? A preggo makes this. It’s easy, fast, delicious with a simple clean up.  It’s now on regular rotation at our house.  Let’s discuss: Nigella (one of my most favorite people to grace this Earth) takes orzo and treats it as risotto.  Then she adds peas, parmesan, and pancetta – bacon in my case.  It really is fast and easy.  And it’s husband friendly with the meat.  I’m sure you could substitute a sausage of your choosing if you liked as well. If I wanted to make this more Hawaiian I’d add Portuguese sausage in lieu of the bacon.

Nigella and I differ in one procedure only.  She fries up her pancetta and leaves it in the pan and adds all the rest of the ingredients, including the boiling water, on top.  But, that makes for floppy bacon – and I can’t abide by flaccid bacon.  So, I cook the slices whole, remove, and chop up.  Then add back to the pan at the end.  If you’re like some family members, Scott, and prefer flaccid bacon or pancetta, then by all means, add the water on top.  Possibly pancetta doesn’t get as floppy.  We don’t have pancetta here (even at Whole Foods!), so I don’t know.  I also fry up the bacon well ahead of time.  You could fry, chop, and refrigerate a couple days ahead of time if you wanted to.  I do this often for holiday recipes involving bacon.

So, if you’re looking for a simple meal, one that eases your weekday burden yet still treats you well, this meal is for you.  Also, if you’re Nigella, and for some reason you’re actually reading this – you’re the best and you’re well loved in this household.

Orzotto with Peas and Pancetta (or Bacon)

Adapted very lovingly from Nigellissima by Nigella Lawson

Ingredients

2 Tbs. garlic-flavored oil (I use regular)

6 oz. cubed pancetta (I use 5-6 slices of bacon)

1 1/4 cups frozen petits pois

8 oz. orzo pasta

2 1/2 cups boiling water

Salt, to taste

1 Tbs. soft butter

2 Tbs. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions

Boil 2.5 cups water in the microwave – or I do it in a little pan on the stove.  Or if you’re feeling particularly British or ladylike, use a tea kettle!

Warm the oil in a heavy pan that will hold everything later. (Get that folks? One pan gets dirty!) A Dutch oven or saucepan of 10 inches diameter should be big enough – I use my big saucepan. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring, until crisp or if you’re using bacon, fry until crisp. I remove the bacon after it’s all crisped and then chop on the side. Add the peas and orzo.

Pour in the boiling water. Add salt (cautiously, the pancetta/bacon is salty, as is the Parmigiano-Reggiano later); then turn down the heat and let simmer for 10 minutes, though check on it a couple of times and give a stir or two, to stop it from sticking and to see if you need to add a little more water.

When it’s ready, the pasta should be soft and starchy and the water absorbed. Add the chopped bacon back in. Beat the butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano into the pan, and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. (I’ve found it doesn’t need salt and I only pepper my husbands plate of food.)

Serve immediately in warm bowls. According to Nigella, this serves 2 hungry grown-ups or 4 small children. I’ve found that it feeds two hungry adults and provides a little extra for tomorrow’s lunch. However, if my toddler were to eat this with us (can’t figure out why he won’t) there wouldn’t be extra and might not be enough he was really hungry. So, for more than two people be safe and double it. I like to serve some sautéed greens with this meal. If I can be bothered.

 

Quinoa and Spinach Patties

Quinoa Patties of Goodness

Quinoa and Spinach Patties

I have a lot of admiration for Heidi Swanson. She’s very artsy fartsy – much more so than I could ever be, but even more she is a steadfast cultivator of healthy, natural, and delicious food. To be honest, when I hear “healthy” food I cringe because I associate it with extra powders and “superfoods”. But, I do love seasonal, natural eating; less of the processed stuff. And Heidi makes it so good!

Heidi is the one who gave us quinoa cakes, which I love and make often, baked oatmeal, and many others and is so much of a trendsetter and innovator that even folks like Yotom Ottolenghi find inspiration with her. She’s put forth so many good ideas that are copied so prolifically that she doesn’t get the credit for a lot of her work. But, she is a trendsetter and innovator to be sure. She knows herself and cultivates her being and her work – which is a form of genius in and of itself. Continue reading

Beet and Pomegranate Smoothie - At Dana's Table

Beet Pomegranate Smoothie

Beet and Pomegranate Smoothie - At Dana's Table

Do you want to know something embarrassing?  I really love beets.  Like, Dwight Schrute, love beets.  I love them raw, steamed, pickled, canned, roasted…..I love them.  I don’t even know many people who like them.  I love their sweetness and since they’re high in fiber they don’t spike your blood sugar.  They have lots of folate and potassium.  They’re just wonderful.  And apparently, their nutritional value increases when canned!  Who’d a thunk it?   Continue reading

Chicken Tinga Empanadas - At Dana's Table

Chicken Tinga Empanadas

Chicken Tinga Empanadas - At Dana's Table

Ya’ll, I told you I was on a pastry and Mexican food kick.  I wasn’t kidding.  It started back during Cinco de Mayo festivities, I had made some chicken tinga for the holiday and with leftovers I decided to wrap them in dough.  Chicken tinga is normally stuffed into a taco or onto a tostada and layered with some slaw, beans, cheese….. but pastry is my name and rolling dough is my game.  I blame my pastry loving husband.  He loves a good crust.  I even made him chicken pot pie for his birthday – more on that in a different post.  And once again I’m feeding that inner smokey chicken desire that represents a new phase in my food life.

This is a Pati Jinich recipe.  And I love her.  I don’t know why, she just tickles my funny bone and makes me want to get in the kitchen and stay there cooking up Mexican food delights.  She’s the type of person, where I’d love to pull up a stool in her kitchen and chat about food, share stores and a meal.  Hi Pati, in case you ever read this!

Continue reading

Enchilada Lasagna - At Dana's Table

Less Fuss Enchiladas aka Enchilada Lasagna

Enchilada Lasagna - At Dana's Table

I should be ashamed to admit it, but while I made dinner tonight my husband had on Bad Moms.  Oh boy, did I enjoy that movie and laugh way more than I should and would love to emulate some (but not all!) of their behavior.  Because I have to admit, these days I’m feeling like one of those hollow shell people.  I’m pooped and the idea of letting loose and having a good time or just speaking my mind to some folks is appealing.  But, that’s all I’ll say about that.

Tonight’s dinner was a winner.  It’s billed as a “no fuss” enchilada dinner.  Well….. I would say it’s less fuss.  Not entirely fuss free, but not a debacle either.  These enchiladas are made into a lasagna instead of rolled which makes them far easier to manage and eat.  What I also enjoyed while I made this, is that I realized that it would make a perfect food gift, i.e. to bring to a new mom or family event, to a pot luck, and so on.  Especially if given with a side salad.  And maybe some frozen cookie dough balls, but I’ll write about that for a different post (soon).   Continue reading

Curried Jamaican Beef Patties

Curried Jamaican Beef Patties aka Curried Jamaican Empanadas

 

Curried Jamaican Beef Patties

Well, hello there friends.  I’ve been cooking my brains out, and what do I have to show for it?  Some great recipes, terrible photos, and five extra pounds.  What can I say?  Pastry has been calling my name.  So, not only have I made some delicious savory recipes, I’ve been enveloping them in pastry.  What is life without a little butter, right?  It’s not like I live somewhere, where one wears a bathing suit almost every day, right?  Ha and oy.

These Jamaican beef patties are quite tasty; they’re worth the calories you’ll inflict on your beach body.  They aren’t as simple as you’d hope for a weeknight, but they’re doable and the steps aren’t actually challenging.  When I make these again I’ll make them on the weekend and reheat for a quick mid-week meal.  They’d also be great as a party appetizer and I wouldn’t hesitate to make these for a cocktail party or heavy appetizer, light entree get together affair. Continue reading

Pineapple Sorbet for Cinco de Mayo

Hello again.  I’m writing this very soon after my last post, but I was cooking up a storm for an early Cinco de Mayo party and I happened to have my camera around to take some terrible photos.  Yes, I’m well aware of the fact that I can’t use my camera well to save my life and that people can take better photos with their phones. But, I digress.

This post about pineapple sorbet.  And I have to be honest, opinion is divided on it.  Mine vs. everyone else’s.  Truthfully, when I make this again I’m going to lessen the sugar in it because here in glorious Hawaii the pineapples are gorgeous on their own and don’t need adornment.  Heck, just eating a pineapple on it’s own makes me happy.  But, for a party you need to fancify your fruit.   Continue reading