recipes and cooking hints

Please understand that I cook by the seat of my pants, and rarely use recipes more than once, then…adapt them from what’s on hand.  The major exception to that is bread, cake, cookies, pie crust, and usually filling.  They are all little chemistry experiments in which amounts of ingredients matter a lot.

If you have a 10 or 12 inch hard anodized skillet, this is a good time to use it.  I have several with lids, and love them because you can control what’s going on inside them quite well.  We put in a gas range, too, for the same reason: when you turn off a burner, it’s off.

Fried Rice

This works best with day-old rice, so if you start with new rice, either brown or white, cook it early and let it cool all the way while the glutens form.

Assemble some veggies: maybe red and/or bell peppers, yellow onions, mushrooms (carefully wiped with a damp sponge or paper towel), a can of rinsed sliced water chestnuts…maybe a few diagonally sliced scallions for a garnish.  If you have Tamari soy sauce, it tastes best, imo, otherwise, what’s on hand.  Toasted cashews w/o salt will be nice, too, as some yummy protein.

Slice the raw ones into bite-sized pieces, and saute them in a skillet preheated with a couple Tablespoons of toasted sesame oil, or whatever’s on hand except olive oil.  When they’re stir-fried a not quite tender, pour them in a broad bowl so they don’t keep cooking off the fire.

Whip up two or three eggs with a fork or wire whisk; add a couple T’s of dry sherry, and pour into the same skillet with a tad more oil once it’s hot.  Tip the eggs around until the pan is egged fully.  If you think you can flip it over, do so, otherwise stick a lid on for a minute and let the top cook.  Slide it out onto a plate.

A bit more oil for the pan, and once it’s hot, pour in the rice a bit at a time, covering the bottom of the pan.  As it sizzles, turn it over here and there with a spatula that can take heat.  Sprinkle it with Tamari, stir a bit more, then turn it down.  Roll the circle of egg into a tube, slice off bits, and add them to the hot rice, stir a bit, and then add in the veggies and the cashews, or even toasted sesame seeds.

Tada!  You can garnish with the thinly sliced scallions, greens and all, of course.

I’ll check this later to see if I said it right; my attention is all over the map…  :)

i’d like to dig out a post i did on spices as medicines, too, which sort of underpins most of the cooking i do, including learning east indian and thai, to a lesser extent.  yes, i do lots of traditional mexican, but a lot of the dishes are meat-based.  lemme think….

Sopa Seca (mexican dry soup) : a non-cook’s easy version


large can of roasted and diced red tomatoes, 1/2 or 3/4 lb. of hard wheat spaghetti noodles, bottle of red salsa or can of enchilada sauce, cooked pinto beans, about a can’s worth, one yellow onion, either roasted and peeled poblanos or anaheim chiles, or a can’s worth.  for commercial salsa, i like Arriba! fire-roasted, but we can only afford it when it’s BOGO, so we stock up when it is.  at least one teaspoon of cumin (comino), maybe four, i love comino!

dice onion and saute w/ oil in a wide skillet or deep 8-qt pot with a lid, pour into a bowl.  add a bit more oil, and then on med heat lay the noodles in all in a row.  as they brown on the bottom, flip them over carefully with a spatula.  once they’re toasted and smell yummy, pour in the roasted tomatoes (Muir glen makes some), either veggie broth or chicken broth, add the peepers and salsa or enchie sauce, the onions, comino, and pinto beans (drained).  put enough water to cover the pasta, then cover with a lid and turn way down low.  check in a bit, and stir as necessary, and add water as needed.  once the pasta is getting tender, you might take the lid off and watch it carefully as the liquids cook away.

garnish with either grated jack cheese, chopped cilantro greens or scallions.  maybe a dollop of sour cream.  if you want it with meat, you can add a bit of browned hamburger or diced, shredded chicken.



Most stores sell bags of prepared tostada shells, or you can buy corn tortillas and fry them lightly yourself in a wee bit of oil.  wait until one side is clearly beginning to puff up, then turn muy carefully to avoid spatter burns.  the same is true of taco shells, but you can buy large ones that make assembly more worthwhile, imo.  if you cook raw tortillas, be sure and bend them in half before they cool and go stiff.

Warm tostada shells in a medium oven until crispy, and pull them onto a plate to cool enough to to handle.  place one in the palm of your hand, and spread mashed beans (refritos) over it with the back of a spoon.  add layers of: shredded cheese, finely shredded lettuce, radishes as above, diced tomato, chiles, salsa, avocado, tomato, whatever tickles your fancy.

Tacos  (coming soon)  ;)

Tacos I

12 responses to “recipes and cooking hints

  1. do you know how to make tostadas, even the ones that only assembly is really required? refritos (smashed pintos) are pretty yummy, and versatile for soft tacos and the like.

  2. That does sound yummy – I’d never heard of doing that with spaghetti – it sounds a lot like my version of enchiladas which I do on top of the stove in a nambe deep platter. I use blue corn tortillas – I guess they would sub for the spaghetti. And as I’m lazy I don’t bother to fry them first but layer them flat with ground buffalo (precooked) shredded Napa cabbage, the cheapest cheese I can get, shredded, chopped onions (slightly precooked with the buff), lots of hot enchilada sauce cut with tomato sauce to go further, canned or frozen chopped chiles sprinkled in and about. I get three layers of the tortillas to fit, top with cheese and sauce – the beans have to be done separate as they don’t fit; I do those in the crockpot after soaking overnight, with three bay leaves. Let them cook just about all day and let them go to no liquid to get the baked effect a couple of times.

    Oh, and lots of sour cream on the side. Top of the stove in the nambeware – I cover with foil and cook on low, does great.

    I’m not a great cook but I could eat that forever. One reason I can never leave New Mexico. The other one I do is plunk ground beef in with the beans after they are cooked, add hot chile powder, onions, garlic, my own grown chiles – that’s another one I could eat forever. Just your basic chile dish.

    Then there’s huevos rancheros with french fries … enough already.

  3. thank you very much!

  4. no do not know how to make tostados, I don’t even know what they are.

  5. dunno quite how far to go with home prepared v. canned or bottled ingreidents. juliania outline how to prepare pinto beans from scratch; much more flavorful, nutritious, and inexpensive. here’s a link to explain how. black beans, as juliania mentioned, are flavorful, but turn everything cooked with them…black.

    tostadas are easy, and i’ll include them in the OP, both with the hard shell pre-cooked corn tortillas and (she sayed hopefully), the home fried ones, more difficult to bite off, imo, but yummy. watch for burns! well, let me know if that’s too dangerous, please. ;)

    tortilla soup is one of my faves, and the garnishes are…so much a part of the glory of it. in fact, one of my favorite movies (at least the cooking and family parts) is: Tortilla Soup (another great Ang Lee film). ;)

    chilaquiles (cubano) are a whole ‘nother treat, even for breakfast!

  6. juliania, i was assuming that nambe ware was a ceramic, but googling images, i seem to be wrong. your dish sounds yummy, esp. with the blue corn.

    when you cook the beans in a crockpot, do you avoid the foaming that simmering brings? i used to pour off the first hour’s simmer, partly to lessen the gassy potential (hotly contested procedure), and i did get tired of skimming foam constantly, so now i add a T or 2 of oil, and it seems to keep the foam down. i also add some tamari soy, since it gives an earthy, meaty flavor to them. oh, but only later on in the cooking, since early salt can make beans tough.

    mafr, dunno what kitchen tools you have, but i spent decades without many. the one key one i finally got was a semi-decent hollow ground (i think it’s called, with the row of little half-moons ground out?) chef’s knife. it’s not good enough steel to hold an edge too very long, but it doesn’t sharpen relatively quickly, and its tang goes into the handle, and has good balance. it makes veg prep, well, all prep, so much easier. you learn how to push it through, not always pull, and how to smash garlic, rock it for mincing, and tra la la. a decent cutting board helps, too.

    funny this late in life i have some good tools, but another fave is the blender mr. wd bought to replace our dead one. on slow grind speeds it reverses and pulls the material back down into the blades. i make a lot of mexican sauces and moles from pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sesame seeds, dried chiles, and whatnot, and it’s ever so handy.

    the first pepita sauce recipe i learned had 24 ingredients or so, but it was apparently the first recorded recipe on turtle island, and that knocks me out.

  7. I have made pinto beans a few times, but I have not heard of cooking them all day. why not just for an hour or so?

  8. i assume you must have sorted and washed them first? but…they seem to take that long, although a new crop will cook in less time, and old beans seem like they refuse to soften. some folks do them in a pressure cooker, but i don’t care for the taste; it’s more like canned, and seem fartier, to boot. (not that that’s a deal breaker for some folks, :)

    but just cook them until they’re soft, and leave the lid of to evaporate the liquid if you want to make refritos, otherwise, the bean gravy left on can make good soup. add sauteed (carmelized) onions, garlic, peppers, what have you.

    should i finish out the taco recipe, or skip it? in the meantime, one of the best traditional mexican chefs has written a number of books, but also has a nice website with loads of recipes. some may be more complicated than you want, but later, who knows?

    rick bayless, a chicagoan who’s spent a lot of time in mexico, used to have a pbs cooking show on for years.

  9. thanks will attempt these/

  10. Pasta in Lemon Cream Sauce:

    1 lb. pasta, maybe angel hair or fettucini
    1 1/2 c. heavy cream
    zest of 1 lemon (finely grated peel)
    1/2 c. butter cut into pieces
    2 tsp. lemon juice
    1 1/2 c. parmesan or parmesan/romano
    1/2 tsp. nice nutmeg
    salt and pepper to taste

    cook pasta al dente, drain, and pop it back in the pot and cover it, reheat with a T. of water on low if it needs it)

    in a heavy saucepan or skillet, combine cream and lemon rind.bring it to a boil on medium , boil 3 minutes, then turn it on low. whisk in the butter, then the lemon juice, add all the other ingredients. whisk until the cheese is melted, then toss it over the pasta. serve immediately you can serve it with lemon wedges, too.

    (i like more nutmeg, but the stuff i buy thru our coop is heavenly; and maybe more lemon, as it’s my favorite flavor, i think)

    this little book has so many good pasta dishes; i found a link at amazon, hoping that like some books you could peek into the table of contents to see what others you might like. no soap, though.

    one our son requested often for his birthday was port wine sauce with dried tomatoes and parmesan. simply stellar, but dried tomatoes in olive oil are too pricey except for speacial occasions.

  11. hi thanks a lot, might be able to handle that one and we have all those ingredients, will try it looks tasty.

care to comment? (no registration required)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s