Sometimes, meals are carefully planned. Other times, it’s pure serendipity. I spotted goat cheese on sale at the market and grabbed some. When I got home, I remembered I had some leftover pizza dough in the fridge. I decided to put them together and make a goat cheese caramelized onion pizza.
You can approach this recipe two different ways. If you make the crust yourself (not hard, but it does take time), it’s a weekend meal. Buy the crust pre-made (you can get it at grocery stores or even your local pizzeria), and it’s a 30 minute meal. So, dinner in half an hour!
I made my own crust (following Smitten Kitchen’s easy recipe), but if you’re in a rush, you don’t have to. By the way, she says to roll out the crust, but I find it works better if I just place it on the baking sheet and gently press outward from the center with my fingers.
If you do make the dough, it makes enough for one generous dinner serving, or two lunch servings.It will keep in the fridge for several days, so you don’t have to eat it all at once.Take it out and let the dough come to room temperature before you start working with it.
Cooking, of course,is often a process of taking what you already know about food and flavors, doing a bit of research (in cookbooks or online) and combining bits of ideas and techniques.I often find myself taking bits and pieces from two or three recipes and putting them back together in different ways.
In this case, I started with the pizza crust recipe I already had. Then I added the goat cheese. I took the caramelized onions and the bell pepper from one recipe, the spinach from a second, and the garlic oil from a third. You can always mix and match to suit your own taste, or the ingredients you have on hand (see more in the Substitutions and Variations section).
Also, I don’t normally post “in progress” photos, but the pizza looked so good I couldn’t resist!
With a pre-bought crust, this is dinner in thirty minutes. Just a bit of chopping and cooking the onions.
Pizza crust (either pre-made or purchased).
4 T olive oil (divided)
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 small onion. sliced
1/4 C sliced red bell pepper
1/4 C goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 C fresh spinach
1-2 tsp semolina or cream of wheat
Preheat the oven as high as it will go.
Mix half the olive oil and the chopped garlic together in a small bowl and set aside.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a saucepan. Cook the onions on low heat, until they soften and caramelize, about 15 minutes. Add the bell pepper, cook stirring for thirty seconds or so. Then add the spinach for another 30 seconds.
Sprinkle the semolina on a pizza stone (if you have one), or a baking sheet. This will help keep the dough from sticking.
Put the pizza dough on the baking sheet. Using your fingers, push the dough out from the center, to form a circle.
Brush about half the garlic/oil mixture over the crust.
Add the cooked vegetables and the goat cheese. Brush the remaining garlic/oil mixture over the top.
Bake for 10 minutes.
The pre-made dough in the store is usually enough for two, so use half.
Substitutions and Variations for Goat Cheese Caramelized Onion Pizza
This week’s recipe was going to be something else, but then I realized I hadn’t defrosted it.Oops. No matter, this Indian fish fillet in yogurt sauce recipe will do quite nicely instead.You’ll just have to wait for the other recipe!
This is adapted from The Wednesday Chef , who in turn adapted it from Madhur Joffrey.Since the amounts are smaller, you don’t have to heat up the oven. You can make this in the toaster oven instead. It heats up more quickly and it’s easier to clean too!
All you have to do is lightly fry some onions, pour them onto a tray, season and mix the yogurt, and then pour all of that over the fish.
It’s maybe ten minutes of prep, and 20 minutes of baking.While it bakes, pour yourself a glass of wine or a beer or make some rice to go with it. Or both.
You end up with a rich, creamy sauce that tastes indulgent (but isn’t, since it’s yogurt, not cream). So no need to feel guilty after the holidays.
The garam masala, ginger, and cumin add a bit of bite, but not too much (unless you want it spicier, of course). It’s pretty easy and approachable for Indian food.
Fish Fillets in Yogurt Sauce, creamy indulgence without any guilt.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 medium onion, sliced thinly
1/2 pound cod (or haddock or halibut) fillet
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
salt and coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons ground coriander
generous pinch garam masala
pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger*
1 T butter (optional)
Remove the tray from your toaster oven. Start by preheating the toaster oven to 350. While that’s warming up, heat the oil in a small skillet. Then add the sliced onion. Cook that until you can see through the slices. This should take about five minutes or so. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove the onions from the pan and scatter them over the toaster oven tray. Cut the fish into small pieces (about 2 inches) and arrange the pieces over the onions on the tray.
Take a small bowl and mix together the remaining ingredients (except the butter). If the mixture is too thick, thin it out with a teaspoon or two of water. Pour that over the fish and the onions and stir it around to cover the fish completely on both sides.
Cover the tray with foil, place it in the hot toaster oven and cook for about 20 minutes. The fish is done when it’s white and flakes easily with a fork.
If you want a thicker sauce, pour the sauce from the tray into a small saucepan, heat it to boiling, and then slowly add the butter.
* I grated the ginger using my microplane. If you don't have one, just use a cheese grater.
Substitutions and Variations for Indian Fish Fillet in Yogurt Sauce
Add some curry to the sauce for more kick
Try pan frying the fish (about three-five minutes per side); add the yogurt sauce at the end, off the heat so it doesn’t curdle
Shakshouka doesn’t roll off the tongue when you try to say it. Maybe it’s a Middle Eastern market? Or a new folk dance? It is Middle Eastern spicy poached eggs, either Tunisian or Israeli (depending who you ask, or which ingredients you use). If you make it with onions and bell peppers, it’s Israeli. On the other hand, if you serve it up with feta or potatoes then it’s Tunisian.
This shakshouka for one recipe is actually two recipes that I mind melded together (one from column A and one from column B) to get what I wanted.
Also, for some reason, I thought it had spinach. So, I washed and chopped 1/4 C of spinach. Only to find out there was no spinach in either recipe. I added it anyway. Why waste perfectly good spinach? Besides it adds extra color and flavor, which I think worked out well.
The real recipe ingredients are poached eggs, tomato, onions, bell peppers, and some cayenne for kick.
I’m calling it lunch here, but it works well as a light dinner too. You can put the whole thing together in only 20 or 25 minutes.
So, easy, and no fussing. The hardest part is making sure you don’t break the egg yolks.
Serve it with lots of crusty bread to sop up the sauce.
One of the things I like about cooking is that you can take one recipe or meal and transform it into something else entirely. For example, this vegetarian eggplant sandwich is a variation on the sabich sandwich eaten in Iraq and Israel. First, I made another batch of the Israeli salad recipe from two weeks ago (the original way, with lemon and bell pepper instead of the mint and lime), and then I added pita, fried eggplant, hummus, spinach, and a hard boiled egg.
And voila! A side dish is now a full meal. The spinach isn’t traditional, but I had some handy and I figured it would go well with the other ingredients.
It makes a great lunch (or light dinner), without a lot of fussing. You hard boil the egg, fry the eggplant and onion, and then just stuff everything into the pita. You can even follow local tradition and eat it for breakfast on a weekend morning; it has eggs, it must be breakfast food).
Some versions of this sandwich use Israeli pickles and pickled mango sauce. These are both probably delicious, but I didn’t add them because I hate buying large containers of ingredients only to use a few spoonfuls. If you don’t mind that, or plan to eat a lot of sandwiches, you can find both on Amazon.
Vegetarian sandwich with eggplant, hard boiled egg, hummus, and chopped Israeli salad.
three slices eggplant, cut into strips
pinch or two of kosher salt (to draw out the moisture from the eggplant)
hard boiled egg
2-3T olive oil
2 tsp onion, diced
handful spinach (optional)
2 T persian/israeli salad (cukes, tomatoes, onion, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, optional bell peppers, cut into tiny pieces; the full recipe is here)
2 T hummus
one pocket pita bread
Salt the eggplant and let it sit while you boil the egg.
Fill a small saucepan (preferably enamel or stainless steel) with water and add the egg. Cover and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the egg for 12 minutes (right out of the fridge, 10 if it was sitting on the counter for a while).
Remove the egg from the pan with a large slotted spoon and hold it under cold running water (or plunge it into an ice bath). The shell will come off more easily if it's cold.
Heat the oil in a small frying pan and add the eggplant. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, 5-8 minutes.
Now add the spinach, if using, and cook for one minute until it wilts.
Remove the eggplant mixture from the heat.
Peel the egg and cut it into slices.
Cut open the pita, and add the spinach.
Add eggplant mixture, egg, salad, and hummus in layers.
Substitutions and Variations for Vegetarian Eggplant Sandwich
Add the pickles and the mangos
Layer in some tahini sauce
Shred some cabbage and put that between the layers
Include bell pepper (about one mini pepper) in the Israeli salad
Chopped Israeli salad isn’t quite what you might assume. It doesn’t have lettuce or carrots. It’s not even eaten when you’d expect. Israeli salad isn’t for lunch or dinner. Instead people eat it for breakfast with eggs, hummus, pita bread, fish, and olives. Not being much of a standard American breakfast person, I approve!
Of course, all of those things make a great lunch too, especially on a hot day whenyou don’t want to get anywhere near a stove or an oven. I adapted this recipe from a comment on Tori Avery’s web site.
She had a recipe for Israeli salad, and a commenter, Schelly Talalay Dardashti, pointed out that there’s a Persian version called “salad e-shirazi.”
She said it calls for red onion and parsley (neither of which I had). However, I did decide to follow her suggestion and use lime juice instead of lemon juice and add mint.
Make sure to use either Persian cucumbers or English cucumbers (rather than the standard kind). The Persian (or mini) cucumbers are shorter and thinner than standard cucumbers and usually sold in sealed packages. The English (or hothouse) cucumbers are the long, skinny ones individually wrapped in plastic wrap.
They’re easier to cut up and you don’t have to peel them! Also, the standard cukes tend to be more bitter.
I cut everything up, mixed it together, and left it out on the counter for a couple of hours (there’s nothing to spoil quickly) so that the flavors would blend.Also, if you put tomatoes in the fridge, they start to lose their flavor.
You can serve this salad with the pita and etc. I mentioned above for a light meal or as a side dish with a sandwich or some eggs. You can make plain scrambled eggs, a frittata, or keep the Persian theme going and serve it with Persian eggs. I added about 1/4 C of eggplant I had left over (recipe here and it’s even for one person).
There’s no picture of the eggs because I was hungry and started eating before I remembered to take one!
You can squeeze the lime with your hands, but it’s a bit messy. It’s much easier (and neater) to use a reamer instead. And since it’s made by Oxo, it’s comfortable to use. Tip: Leave the fruit out to get to room temperature (or zap it in the microwave for 5 seconds). It will juice more easily.
You can use a sharp knife to cut up your salad, but it’s even easier with a salad chopper. The double blades chop the salad, veggies, cheese, etc into tiny little pieces. And it takes a lot less effort. Just rock your hand back and forth.
Nothing beats a bowl of split pea soup with ham hock when it’s cold outside. This recipe for Dutch split pea soup has ham, split peas (of course), and bacon. Add some crusty bread, or a sandwich, and you’ve got lunch.
The original recipe came from the NY Times Cookbook, but I’ve changed it a bit. For one thing, it made up to 10 servings (which means one person would be eating soup for a very long time)! This recipe is only for four servings. Just enough to enjoy it without feeling like you are drowning in split pea soup!
That recipe also called for celeraic (which I never have) and salt pork. Salt pork is fine, but I found it worked really well with bacon (preferably Trader Joe’s no nitrate bacon).
It also freezes well, so you can save some soup for later.
Optional: 1/4 C chopped leek, one carrot (sliced), one frankfurter
Wash the peas under cold water. Sort through them to remove any stones that may have gotten mixed in. Put in a large pot and add the water. Let stand overnight. If you're in a hurry, use my quick soaking method for the split peas.
Cook the bacon in a skillet for five minutes, until browned. Add the onion (and leek or carrot if using), and cook the mixture for another 10 minutes. The vegetables should be soft.
Add the vegetable/bacon mixture to the pot with the split peas. Add the bay leaf (I like to use a tea ball for this so it's easy to find again), salt and pepper to taste, and the pig's knuckle (or ham bone). Cover and bring to a boil (slowly). Once it comes to a boil, turn down the heat, Let the soup simmer for two hours. If it gets too thick, add half a cup of water.
Once the ham hock (or bone) is tender, remove it from the soup. Run it under cool water (so you can handle it), then shred the meat and set it aside. Throw away the bone. Fish out the bay leaf (or just remove the tea ball) and discard that too.
If you don’t have a hand blender, use a standard blender with a towel over it. Why the towel? So the soup doesn’t fly in your face and all over the room. If you take the plastic cup out, cover the hole with a towel, and blend, the steam can escape and the soup stays put.
If you’ve got the hand blender, all you have to do is immerse it in the pot and press the button. It’s easier and there’s less cleanup.
Put the meat back into the soup and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve hot.
The prep time assumes you use the quick soak method for the beans.
Put the bay leaf in a tea ball so it's easier to remove.
Substitutions and Variations for Split Pea Soup Recipe with Ham Hock
the original recipe called for 1/2 C diced leek (great for flavor, but not something I usually have in the fridge); if you use it, reduce the amount to about 1/4C.
cut up a frankfurter or a chunk of keilbasa, cook it and add it to the soup
add a carrot for a bit of sweetness
top with croutons
cook some extra bacon, crumble it, and top the soup with it
add freshly grated parmesan cheese
add a parmesan or manchego cheese rind to the soup while it’s simmering
T-fal A92279 Specialty Stockpot 8 Quart This pot is non-stick inside and out (just the thing for split pea soup). That also makes it easy to clean. The glass lid has a vent in it, so it’s less likely to spill all over the place. It is tall though, so if you’re short, this may not be for you.
Recipes for some of the world’s favorite soups (and a few new ones): beef and barley, sweet potato, cucumber, and spinach with feta.
New England Soup Factory Cookbook Your favorite soups (like beef and barley, hot and sour, and butternut squash. Plus some brand-new ones you may have never heard of – how about spinach, feta, and pine nuts? Or eggplant parmesan?
The Best Soups in the World 247 recipes gathered from around the world by a James Beard award winning cook. There’s California chilled peach soup, Tanzanian black-eyed peas and coconut soup, Chayote soup from Nicaragua, and Tuscan white bean.
Don’t be scared by the exotic names and places – he also provides lists of places to buy the ingredients at reasonable prices online (if your local store doesn’t stock them).
A year of soup – arranged by season. You’ll find Sweet Potato Soup with Orange Creme Fraiche for fall and Asparagus Soup with Tarragon Cream for spring. There’s even a cold cucumber soup with salmon and dill for summer.
I’ve mind melded two lentil soup recipes for this and added a few variations to make lentil bean sausage soup. I was going to make bean and sausage soup but looked in the cupboard and found I was woefully short on beans. There just weren’t enough to make anything with. But, I did have more lentils. And, a friend was talking about the bean, sausage, and potato soup she was making.
That gave me an idea. Bean, lentil, potato, and sausage, plus a bit of manchego rind for some savor (I’ve always wanted to try that, and I had a big bag of rinds in the fridge).
Manchego, parmesan, and romano cheese rinds are great, by the way, for soup or for grating cheese when there’s plenty left on the rind, but not enough to serve.
The nice thing about lentils is that unlike beans, you don’t have to soak them first to use them.
If you only have lentils, skip the beans entirely. If you only have beans, use my quick soak method to speed up the process.
Tea strainers are great for tea, but they also have a second use for making soup and other recipes. Many recipes call for cheesecloth (which I’ve never seen in a store, and seems wasteful anyway). Instead, I use the tea ball for bay leaves, peppercorns, cloves, and herb mixtures that have to be added (and then removed) from soup or other recipes. Because, who wants to bite down into a peppercorn?!
The New York Times Cook Book This cookbook was the source for part of the recipe. I have had my copy so long it’s falling apart. The soup section includes lentil, split pea, and the savory tomato soup which is the basis for my dad’s secret soup recipe.
The Silver Palate Cookbook I’m on my second copy of this, and it’s time for a third! The other half of the soup recipe comes from the bean and sausage soup in this cookbook. The peasant vegetable is also wonderful, as is the six onion soup. Actually, I’ve never had a bad recipe from this one. Plus there are suggestions and variations for many of the recipes, which I like.
Nobody knows exactly where Singapore noodles came from. They’re not really native to Singapore, and the curry is more South Asian than North Asian. I suspect they are no more “Singaporean” than fortune cookies are Cantonese. In any case, easy Singapore noodles with chicken is a quick, weeknight dinner that’s a great way to “clean out your fridge.”
They don’t work too well as leftovers (especially if you use rice noodles, which tend to clump when they sit), so a recipe for a single serving is essential. Since it makes just enough for one person, you won’t have leftovers to fill up the fridge again!
I used regular pasta here, because that’s what I had and rice noodles may not be readily available everywhere. If you do use the rice noodles, get the vermicelli kind. Soak them in hot water for thirty seconds to soften them and then add them to the vegetables and chicken once they’re cooked.
The recipe is flexible, so you can use chicken, beef, pork, or shrimp if you have that handy, or if you prefer it.
The vegetables are just suggestions too. I used broccoli, onions, mushrooms, and two kinds of bell peppers (red and green). More suggestions (and variations) at the bottom of the post.
½ bell pepper (use half a single pepper, or a mixture of colors) , diced
1/4 C broccoli florets
3-4 small crimini (also called baby bella) mushrooms, sliced
1 T curry powder
1 t sugar
1 T soy sauce
2 T chicken stock
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles, and use chopsticks to stir them (so they don't stick). Cook until al dente, about 8-10 minutes, and drain the noodles into a colander.
Preheat a large frying pan or wok. Add the oil and ginger. Stir fry about 1 minute.
Toss in onions, scallion, broccoli, or whatever veggies you're using, except the peppers. If you are using raw chicken, add it now.
Stir fry 1-2 minutes. Push vegetables to the side of the pan. Add curry powder and sauté for 1 minute. Then add sugar, soy sauce, and chicken stock. Mix together, using chopsticks. (If you're using raw shrimp, add it here).
Add noodles to the frying pan or wok with the vegetable mixture. Use chopsticks to separate the noodles and mix all of the ingredients together.
Add the peppers. I like to leave them for last, since I prefer them to be slightly crunchy. If you like softer peppers, add them with the other vegetables.
If the noodles get too dry, add more chicken stock. If you're using cooked chicken (or other meat), add it to the mixture now and cook until heated through.
Toss the ingredients in the pan so that everything gets thoroughly coated with the sauce.
Easy Singapore Noodles with Chicken Substitutions and Variations
Use leftover roast pork or raw shrimp (or both) instead of chicken
Use a mixture of frozen Chinese veggies, such as Trader Joe’s stir fry, or harvest hodgepodge. Seapoint Farms Oriental Blend is also good; this will also speed up the cooking time
Mix and match the vegetables in the dish. Add snow peas, water chestnuts, or sprouts. Use different kinds of peppers.
Throw in a hot pepper or two (depending on your tolerance for heat)