Rick’s Baked Ziti with Meat Sauce

Since so many of you liked my humble Chicken Noodle Casserole here’s another oldie but goodie comfort food recipe. If you have the time (and who doesn’t these days) make your best meat sauce. Or, as per this recipe, brown some ground beef and/or Italian sausage, put it in some good jarred sauce, add some cheese, and Roberto is your uncle.

Ingredients

1 lb. Ziti (or Penne)

1 lb. ground beef (or bulk Italian sausage, or a mixture of the two)

½ cup sturdy red wine

2 jars of good spaghetti sauce (I like Rao’s or Emeril’s)

1 teaspoon of oregano

2 8 oz. packages of whole milk mozzarella

2 cups sour cream (or ricotta cheese)

½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Recipe

Boil  plentiful water for pasta while you brown the ground beef over medium high heat. Cook the pasta for about 8 minutes, drain and add a little olive oil to keep it from sticking together.

When the ground beef has no pink in it, add the wine and let it boil down for a few minutes. Add the jars of sauce, add the oregano, and let it all cook down for at least 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 f.

Grease a standard baking pan with olive oil or Pam. Put about a cup of the sauce in the baking dish and spread it evenly. Add half the pasta, the sour cream spread evenly, and one package of the cheese. Add the other half of the pasta, half of the remaining cheese, and the rest of the sauce. Finally, cover with the remaining cheese package and the Parmigiano.

Cook uncovered for about 30 minutes, or until it is bubbling and the cheese on top begins to brown.

Serve with a salad (or frozen green beans, as we did) and a sturdy red wine.

(Photo: R.L. Floyd, 2020)

 

 

 

Rick’s Pandemic Chicken Noodle Casserole

Since Price Chopper cancelled my pick-up order, I have turned to my pantry to feed the six of us (a couple of my grandchildren and their parents are quarantining with us.) You know those cans of chicken breast you bought at Costco or BJ’s in case you wanted to make chicken salad or there was a pandemic, now is their time to shine.

This is a one dish casserole that many people (my wife included) had so much as a child that she can’t bear to look at it. I kinda like it. It’s not the typical recipe I put up here, but everything is different now.

Ingredients

1 lb. egg noodles or other pasta

2 12.5 cans of of chicken breast in water (or leftover cooked chicken)

1 can Campbell’s cream of chicken soup (yes, I know, stay with me here)

1 can Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup

1 package of frozen peas, thawed more or less

2 cups of cheese (cheddar or whatever you’ve got)

1 cup of Mayonnaise

Bread crumbs (or Panko or crumble crackers for topping)

1 stick of melted butter to put on top of the crumbs

Recipe

Boil water for the noodles. Preheat the oven to 350 f.

In a large bowl put the two soups, mayo, peas, cheeses. Stir to mix.

Drain the pasta, and mix it in the bowl.

Butter a baking dish and put  the whole smear in it.

Cover with the crumbs. Pour the melted butter over it.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until it is bubbling and the top is browned and crispy.

Let it cool for a few minutes.

Serve with your favorite box wine, red or white. I suggest red.

Stay safe, wash your hands. God bless you.

 

 

Spicy Stir-Fried Chicken with Mushrooms and Broccoli

We have an Asian dish at least once a week in our rotation. My wife loves mushrooms and broccoli, so this easy chicken stir-fry is always a hit.

Ingredients

1 Lb boneless skinless chicken breast, sliced (You could also use boneless, skinless thighs)

8 ounces white button mushrooms, stems removed. Cut any big ones in half

2 tablespoons  peanut oil

A good sized broccoli crown cut into florets

Sauce

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1/2 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 cup oyster sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 cup chicken or beef broth (or water if you don’t have broth on hand)

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon dark sesame oil

1  teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Garnish

Sesame seeds (you can toast them if you want to get fancy)

Two chopped scallions

Recipe

Put the sauce ingredients in a medium bowl, whisk to combine.

Add the sliced chicken to the bowl with the sauce and let it marinate for at least a half hour in the fridge. (Pro tip: put the chicken in the freezer for half an hour before to firm it up before slicing. It makes it easier to get nice slices.)

Put a wok or skillet over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of peanut oil. When the oil shimmers add the broccoli. Stir-fry for about five minutes, adjusting the heat so it doesn’t burn. Put the broccoli on a plate.

Put another tablespoon of peanut oil in the wok, and when the oil shimmers add the mushrooms and stir-fry until they give up their liquid and are nicely browned, about three or four minutes. Put them on another plate.

Add the chicken and the sauce to the wok over high heat.  Stir-fry for about five or six minutes, then add the mushrooms and stir to coat them with sauce. Then add the broccoli and stir to cover with sauce for a minute or two. Pour it all into a warm serving dish and garnish with sesame seeds and scallions. Serve over rice.

(Photo by R.L. Floyd, 2020)

Seared Sea Scallops with Pepper Garlic Saffron Linguini

This is really one of those “no recipe” recipes that you throw together and comes out great. The better the sea scallops, the better the result, so I recommend “dry” (also known as “diver”) scallops, although I have to admit I’ve had pretty good results with frozen wild-caught American sea scallops. (Yes, I know all scallops come from the sea, but “sea scallops” are the big ones to differentiate them from the smaller “bay scallops” or the the even smaller “calico scallops.”) Continue reading

Rick’s Nearly Indian Black-Eyed Peas with Mushrooms

In our house we love mushrooms, and there were some beautiful white button mushrooms in the market this week. Many years ago, when our kids were little, this dish was in regular rotation. I got the original recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking, the first Indian cookbook I owned and still a good one. She called this dish Lobhia aur khumbi and back then I followed her directions slavishly, soaking and cooking the black-eyed peas and using fresh tomatoes. Lately, I’ve been using canned black-eyed peas and canned diced tomatoes and it is still pretty darn good, and it is low-fat and vegetarian for those of you who like that sort of thing. Continue reading

Rick’s Blackened Red Snapper

Red SnapperThe late great Paul Prudhomme, who died last year, brought Cajun cookery to national attention with his 1984 classic Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen. His most iconic recipe was “blackened redfish.” Redfish was a humble fish that suddenly was in high demand. His recipe called for scorching high heat. I made it several times and it was delicious, but set off the fire alarms. Continue reading

Grilled Hoisin Sauce/lime juice/Sambal Olek marinated shrimp

shrimpWe often grill shrimp in the summer for a quick dinner. I have no single recipe, but many of my variations utilize the wonderful fresh flavors of Asia.

Here’s a marinade that people seem to enjoy:

1 TBS Hoisin Sauce

Juice of ½ of a lime

1 TSP hot pepper sauce. I like Sambal Olek or Sriracha sauce, but you can use Tabasco or Franks’s

1 TSP peanut oil

1 TSP sesame oil

1 TSP good soy sauce

Whisk it all together and marinate your cleaned and deveined shrimp for no more than a half an hour.

Thread the shrimp on skewers.

Prepare a hot fire. Cook the shrimp 3 or 4 minutes to a side.

Serve over rice or (as in this photo) lovely cold sesame noodles.

(Photo: R. L. Floyd, 2016)

Rick’s Shrimp and Sweet Pea Risotto

RisottoRisotto is a nice change from pasta, and it is not hard to make if you are attentive during the half hour or so you need to watch and stir the rice. For special events we make a rich and decadent Risotto ala Milanese with our Osso Bucco.  This recipe is a bit of a lighter tweak on that, without the Parmesan cheese and extra butter. If you use  frozen shrimp and peas  this can be pulled out of the larder, and you can make it in under an hour on a weeknight. And it is very good! Continue reading

Rick’s Chicken and Shellfish Paella

Paella

My seminary classmate Carlos Diaz gave us a paella pan and the Time-Life Cooking of Spain cookbook for a wedding present. That was forty years ago and paella has been a mainstay of my kitchen for special events. I made one last night for a family birthday.

The original Time-Life recipe was a lovely Valencia style paella with some not very authentic ingredients such as lobster. Paella was originally a humble peasant dish of saffron infused rice with whatever fresh vegetables and fish or game that was available.

This elaborate Valencia style paella is the one most Americans know from restaurants. This is my take on it with four decades of my tweaks. It is pretty labor intensive, but a fun project in the kitchen, and the results are unfailingly crowd-pleasing. Serves six with generous portions. Continue reading