Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One Hundred Sixty Two (Eggplant Whateva' Text Style)

This is called a text recipe. 

It is from a friend from whom I often request quick recipes.  I have modified it to make it slightly less criptic.  Hope you enjoy.

Message:  Any ideas for quick recipes with leftover fresh mozzarella and fresh ricotta?

Reply: peel slice eggplant....flour [with Vita Spelt] and egg the slices...fry lightly in olive oil...drain...place pomi [homemade tomato sauce] in pan....layer in cheeses [fresh mozzarella, fresh ricotta from Teitel!]...eggplant...top off with pomi,grated cheese and mozzarella...cover and cook slowly or put bake pan in oven (at 350F for about 20-30 minutes)....bon apitito.

Reply:  TY Wz Gd, CU later.

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One Hundred Sixty One (Popeye Strikes Again!!)

Baked Farro with Fresh Ricotta and Mozzarella - Popeye Style - with Spinach
This weekend I visited one of my favorite stores in one of my favorite neighborhoods in one of my favorite cities....Teitels in Little Italy in the Bronx.  It was nice to have a new friend along - Tania - as we shared stories of parenting and the art of feeding our offspring.

As always, I loaded up on fresh made mozzarella (once you've had this stuff it is really hard to be satisfied by the mass produced supermarket variety), fresh ricotta, fresh parmesan and farro pasta.

I decided to make a new old time favorite - baked penne - but this time with a little influence from an old old time favorite - Popeye.   Baked pennette with spinach!

One organic onion (finely chopped)

8-10 crimini mushrooms (thinly sliced)
4-5 cloves of garlic (finely chopped or minced with salt)
1/4 – 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Pomi – crushed tomatoes – all natural, no citric acid – in a carton (no BPA in packaging).  Soon you will be able to buy this on our website.
1-2 Teaspoons of Sea Salt (also soon to be available on our website)
Ground pepper to taste

1 TBL Organic sugar (optional)
1/2 bunch fresh spinach, carefully cleaned and rinsed with water and vinegar.  Coarsley chopped. 
One packages of FARRO pasta which you can now purchase at the Spelt Right store. 
1/2 small container of whole milk ricotta
One half to one pound of natural mozzarella (shredded or pulled apart)
Place chopped onion and garlic in olive oil in large stainless steel pan. Saute until onions are brown. Add mushrooms Saute until browned. Add Pomi tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste. Add one teaspoon of organic sugar if desired. Stir all ingredients. Cook on medium low for 20-25 minutes. Stirring occasionally. Add chopped basil.
In the meantime, boil and drain Farro Pasta according to instructions on panel. Rinse, and then toss with extra virgin olive oil to keep from sticking.
Preheat oven to 375F.
In a 9 inch glass baking dish, spread a little of the sauce on the bottom to keep the pasta from sticking. In the sauce pan, toss the pasta sauce and pasta. When thoroughly tossed, place the pasta in the baking dish. Fold in the ricotta.  Fold in the spinach. Then sprinkle with mozzarella. Bake until bubbling on top. 
This meal was DEVOURED.  Can you imagine if we had Popeye to dinner?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One Hundred Sixty (Popeye Knew Best - Spinach As the Cure All)

Headache cure? Mom’s home cookin’!
Poor little Olivia never experienced anything like this in her 10 years.  A searing headache.  “It hurts so bad! I am going to get sick to my stomach!” 
Dad and mom inquired, “Olivia, what did you eat today?  Did you have any water?” 
These Spelt Right Doughs are READY to use
Breakfast=last night’s left over Mexican from local dive.
Lunch=mystery food from PS 123.
Snack from Aftercare = Candy?!?
Wednesday = CRAPPY FOOD DAY. 
CRAPPY FOOD DAY= Severe Headache. 
Mom needs to get back involved. 

Fast forward.  Mom made a bunch of Spelt Right Pizza dough today, brought some home and pondered an easy solution.  Spinach, onion and goat cheese fitayers! 

Would Some PLEASE Send Me Some Decent Pans??
2 Spelt Right Pizza Doughs, fully thawed and risen
2 bunches of fresh spinach, rinsed with water (and vinegar for cleanliness), and spun
1 large onion
2 fresh lemons
1/4-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
4 ounce log of chèvre (goat cheese)

Chop onions into fours, place in food processor and chop.  Place chopped onions in medium sized bowl.
Shaping the Dough Into Triangles
Make sure the spinach is destemmed, rinsed, and dried well.  Chop as much as you can in food processor until all is chopped.  Place in bowl with onions.
Squeeze lemons (remove seeds). Add to bowl.  Add in EVOO, salt and pepper.  Toss altogether.

Cut each dough ball into 8-10 even size pieces, shape into rounds about 1/8 inch thick.  Place rounds on well oiled stainless steel baking sheet, preferably with edges.  Spread about two teaspoons of chevre on each round.  Squeeze a small handful of spinach mixture in hand (about 2 TBLS) (this is to squeeze out some of the liquid - do this over the bowl), and place in center of dough ball.  Make triangle with dough ball.   Bake at 450 for 15-20 minutes or until brown on the bottom.

As a side, I put the remaining spinach “juice”, strained and rinsed chick peas, and about 3 cups of left over rice in pan on the stovetop, and tossed together until warm.

End Result?  An Un-Whining of a Whiney Kid.  Good-bye to a headache that we hope will be a thing of the past – as long as mom continues to cook and wards off the outside assault of bad food.

We should have listened to POPEYE. all along.  This spinach pie definitely served as a our cure all.

"He's Popeye the Sailor Man. He's Popeye the Sailor Man. He's strong to the finich cause he eats his spinach, he's Popeye the sailor man."  

Can you imagine what Popeye would have thought of these spinach pies?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One Hundred Fifty Nine (On Silence, Exceptionality, Love, Death, and Food)

I lost my voice over the past few weeks due to impenetrable sadness, but I have gained it back to tell a brief story of an exceptional woman.

We had the most unspeakable tragedy in our family. My sister Elaine's daughter, Janice Furtado, died in mid April totally unexpectedly after having been admitted to the ER with a high fever. She would be have turned 32 on April 17. 

Janice was a super hero to my children having served in combat duty in the Middle East, being deployed on the rescue mission in the 2004 Indonesian tsunami, and working on her doctorate in psychology to help returning vets suffering from PTSD.   The services in her honor revealed that her passion, kind heart, bravery, and empathy gave her super hero status not only among family members but also among countless thousands as well. 

I am so lucky to have had incredible moments with Janice - so many of them - but there are two that reverberate with me daily, and relate to my life here - in the Big Apple with the mission of feeding folks healthful comforting food. 

After Janice had been honorably discharged from active combat several years ago, I was living in Maine and said to my husband, "I haven't seen Janice in more than 4 years.  I JUST HAVE to see her."  The kicker was that we did not know where on earth she was prancing!  Shortly after saying this, my husband, son, and I decided to take a journey to NYC to visit his aunt who lives on the Upper East Side.  After having a nice dinner with her, we decided to take the E train back to our hotel in the Lower East Side.  We heard a rumble in the subway car, looked up expecting some NY street scuffle, but instead were greeted by a woman rushing to give me the biggest bear hug ever!  "Auntie!", the woman proclaimed.  "Janice!  What in the world?  How in the world?" 

Janice happened to be visiting NYC after her discharge, and we happened to be visiting NYC from Maine, and somehow our tiny worlds collided on an "E" train heading downtown.  We screamed and hugged and hugged and screamed performing a ritualistic reunion dance. At first, the other commuters looked at us slightly perturbed, but when we explained our story, the car broke out in applause.  A perfect NY moment.  A perfect Jan and Beth moment.   Jan and I embraced again, waited for our respective stops, hugged one more time, and bid farewell knowing that our worlds would forever be intertwined. 

And for another brief story....  Anyone who knows me, knows that I love to feed people.  It is one of my favorite pastimes.  Janice spent her first year of college, prior to enlisting in the US Air Force, at USM in Portland, Maine.  Our Portland house was an open door for anyone needing a good meal or quick snack.  She would come to dinner often always with a friend in tow.  And, inevitably I would serve her and her bevy of friends minestrone soup.  I can hear her voice "Auntie!  I just LOVE your minestrone soup!  It is my favorite!"  Well, Janice, this recipe is for you.  And I have renamed it "Jan's Harvest Soup."


3-4 carrots
2 onions
2 potatoes
1/2 pound green beans
2-3 medium zuchinni
3-4 cloves of garlic (we are garlic fiends)
1/3 cup (thereabouts) extra virgin olive oil
3 TBL butter
3 cups of water
1 can organic tomatoes or one box of POMI tomatoes
salt to taste (we use sea salt)
dried basil to taste
dried dill to taste
pepper to taste
1 can rinsed and drained cannellini beans (optional)

Chop all vegetables in small pieces and place in separate bowls.  In large stainless steel soup pot, warm EVOO and butter, add finely chopped onions, saute until limp, add finely chopped garlic (or mash garlic with salt with mortar and pestle and add).  Add carrots, saute for 5 minutes, add potatoes, saute 5 minutes.  Add green beans, saute for 5 minutes.  Add zucchini, saute for 3 minutes,  Stir in cabbage, saute for 3 minutes.  Add water and liquid from tomatoes.  Chop tomatoes coarsely.  Add to pot.  Stir in salt, pepper and other spices to taste.  Heat to boiling.  Reduce heat to low.  Simmer covered, stirring occasionally for 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours.   If desired, add cannellini beans.  Cook for 30-40 minute longer until soup is thick.

This recipe is as individualistic as Jan.  You may wish to add different vegetables and splash in some white wine while it is cooking.  Salt, pepper and spice to taste.

We served this with Spelt Right Rosemary Bread.  (Sliced, with olive oil, baked at 450).

Whenever I make this soup, there will be joyful memories of a life that danced on this earth with the special gift to bring joy to all of those who waltzed with her.   Thank you, Jan, for the inspiration.