Dinner at Home

Monday, December 23, 2013

Savory Oatmeal

savory oatmeal
Me with my sweet tooth and I've discovered I actually like my oatmeal savory rather than sweet. I have to admit, when I first read about the idea of using savory toppings on oatmeal from food writer Mark Bittman, the idea sounded gross.

But bear with me...and keep an open mind, as I did. Oatmeal is a pretty bland palate and if you think outside the box and jazz it up with savory condiments, trust me, you'll be rewarded. And like me, you may never want to turn back.

The picture is my savory oatmeal from this morning. It was filling, scrumptious, and I'm certain much healthier and lower in calories than if I had doused with it with butter, half and half, maple syrup and brown sugar, as I would have back in the days before I got wise to how good oatmeal can be with less-than-traditional toppings. Here's today's variation, but you should feel free to try it out with whatever sounds good to you or whatever you have on hand--cheese is a great addition, so are leftover veggies, chicken.... The possibilities are endless.

Savory Oatmeal

Oatmeal for one serving, prepared according to package directions (I use McCann's quick-cooking steel-cut oats and just zap it in the microwave in a big bowl).
1 scallion, sliced
Soy sauce
Sriracha sauce (Asian hot sauce--look for it in the aisle with the soy sauce, etc.)
1 poached or fried egg, cooked according to your tastes

Cook oatmeal (I always add a pinch of Kosher salt to the liquid, even if I'm making sweet). Halfway through cooking time, add in all of the white parts of the onion and most of the green, save a few green tops for garnish. When done, stir in a generous splash of soy sauce (if it's too thick, you can add a little more water, broth, or even butter). Top with your egg and reserved green onion. Drizzle sriracha artfully over all.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Panettone French Toast

One of our Christmas traditions at our house is to buy a panetonne, the gorgeous Italian bread-that-could-pass-for-cake traditionally served at the holidays. It's sweet, delicious, and usually filled with pieces of candied fruit (the one we got this year is chocolate and figs) Since there's only two of us, we usually can't eat all of it. But last year, I hit upon the idea (and I know it's not my idea alone; nothing new under the sun and all that) of making some of the panettone into French toast.

It's super easy and makes a wonderful Christmas morning breakfast. Here's my recipe for two; be fruitful and multiply if you want to make more.

Panetonne French Toast

4 thick slices panetonne
4 eggs
1/4 cup half and half
1/4 cup milk
dash of cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
1 T sugar
pinch of salt
zest of one lemon
juice of half that same lemon (oranges work equally well, too)
splash of Grand Marnier (Triple Sec would work too and I bet bourbon wouldn't be bad either)

Butter for pan
Powdered sugar and/or fresh berries for garnish
Maple syrup

Set a griddle or large pan over medium heat; put a generous pat of butter on the surface. While the
butter is melting whisk together all the ingredients except for the panettone (d'uh). When the butter has melted, dip each piece of panettone in the egg/milk mixture. It will soak it up quickly, so no need to leave it soaking. Take each slice out, shake off excess mixture and lay on griddle or in pan. Let cook approximately 4-5 minutes per side, depending on thickness and how high you have your heat. In other words, just check your slices, when they're golden brown, flip 'em over.

Serve with powdered sugar, maple syrup, and fresh berries if you have them. And yes, I know Sophia Petrillo would tell you that, "If God intended for us to eat like that, He would have handed us our teeth in a bag." But this is for a special occasion and you're not going to have it every morning. Mangia!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Veggie Minestrone

The following recipe is pretty close to the one in the wonderful book, Cook This, Not That by David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding. That recipe is a slimmed-down version of the minestrone served at Carraba's Italian Grill. This goes great with some crusty Italian bread and a green salad.

Vegetarian Minestrone

 (Serves 6-8)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup diced potato (peel or unpeeled, your choice; I like the skin)
2 carrots, diced
1 medium zucchini or yellow squash diced
1 cup fresh green beans, ends trimmed and halved
1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, diced
1 T tomato paste
1 t dried thyme
1 t dried basil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice with Italian seasonings
4 cups chicken stock
4 cups mushroom stock (or all chicken stock or use vegetable if you want to keep truly vegetarian) Salt and pepper, to taste
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Grated Parmesan cheese, optional
Pesto, optional

1. Heat oil over medium heat.
2. Add the onion and garlic and sauté, stirring, for five minutes.
3. Add potato, carrots, zucchini, and green beans and cook until the vegetables are just beginning to soften.
 4. Add the bay leaf, crushed red pepper, tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, basil, and stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer for as little as 15 minutes and up to 45 minutes (longer is better, in my book, but keep it at a simmer and give it a stir once in a while).
5. Add cannellini beans and warm through.
6. Adjust taste with salt and pepper.
7. Serve topped with Parmesan and a dollop of your favorite pesto.