Red pepper hummus

One day, I won’t be a horrible food photographer.

1 red bell pepper
1 onion
1 16-oz can chickpeas
1-2 tablespoons tahini OR a few tablespoons sesame seeds
3-4 cloves garlic
lemon juice
olive oil

Wash the red pepper and roast it either directly over your gas stove (for those of you who love danger and/or fire) or broil it until the skin gets black and blistered. Place the still-hot pepper in a paper bag or in a bowl covered in plastic wrap and let it cool; this allows the pepper to steam the skin, making it way  easier to remove. In the meantime, finely slice or use a mandolin on (again, for danger lovers. This is the MOST DANGEROUS HUMMUS.) a sweet onion and caramelize. Drain the chickpeas and get out the food processor. Blend the total heck out of the chickpeas and tahini, or if you don’t have tahini because your local grocery store doesn’t even know what shallots are (plebeians), blend the total heck out of a few tablespoons of sesame seeds before adding the chickpeas (or use a mortar and pestle). This is not the optimal method, and you’ll probably get whole seeds left in there. Next, peel and dice the pepper, and add that with the onion and garlic. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil and a splash of lemon juice and taste for flavor. Feel free to add whatever spices. Serve with veggies and crackers. Or EXTREME SPORTS.

“That” Casserole

A recipe from my mom! Thanks, Mom! We didn’t have a name for this casserole while growing up, and I refuse to retrofit it with some kind of more appropriate name.

6 oz thin egg noodles
1 lb ground beef or Boca crumbles
16 oz can tomato sauce
4 oz cream cheese
8 oz sour cream
handful chives/scallions
grated cheddar cheese
usual spices

Boil the noodles until al dente. Drain and put in a lightly oiled Pyrex dish. Cook the beef with spices, and once all the pink is gone, add the tomato sauce. Heat through, and pour the mix on top of the noodles. Heat the cream cheese if it’s cold, and mix with the sour cream and finely chopped chives. Spread this mixture over the meat sauce. Finally, grate* some cheddar on top of the whole thing, and place it in the oven for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees. Let it cool for 10 minutes, or however long it takes to transcribe and post a recipe, before serving.

*I know bagged, pre-grated cheese is super-convenient, but it’s really much tastier if it’s freshly grated. Plus, then you don’t have to worry as much about mold and bacteria. It’s like ground beef compared to a big chunk of meat: more surface area for a long time means more chance for gross stuff to grow. If you hate cleaning a cheese grater (God, it’s a pain!), then grate a little potato or apple after the cheese: it cleans out the sticky stuff really well.

Meatballs with a Tangy Cream Sauce

MEATBALLS
1 lb ground beef
1 egg
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
dash nutmeg
usual spices

SAUCE
3 tbsp butter
2-3 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 oz goat cheese
usual spices

Mix all the meatball ingredients. If the mix isn’t stiff enough, add more breadcrumbs. Roll mixture into 1-inch balls. Pour 1/2 to 1 inch of oil in a skillet and heat over medium heat until a drop of water pops. Cook meatballs in batches, being careful not to overcrowd. Constantly turn the meatballs so they brown evenly. After 5-7 minutes, remove and drain meatballs. Set aside.

Melt the butter. After the butter starts to brown very slightly, add the flour and continue to cook until it smells like cooked pastry dough. Add milk and cook until almost at desired thickness, then add mustard, cheese, and spices. Add the meatballs, reheat, and serve over egg noodles, with bread, however you like.

At first, I was going to make a form of Swedish meatballs, but I don’t think it’s really that traditional. Either way, it satisfied my IKEA craving.

Vegetable Crepes

I really need to get better at photographing my food.

FILLING
1 yellow squash
1 green bell pepper
1 good tomato (I say “good” here because there are lots of really terrible tomatoes out there. If you can’t find a good one, just use a few ounces of canned tomatoes or maybe just some tomato paste. I wish I’d done that, because you do not get good tomatoes at Pathmark in November.)
1 carrot / handful of baby carrots
1 big sweet onion (Vidalia, y’all!)
2-3 cloves garlic
splash sherry
splash balsamic vinegar
1-2 boneless, skinless anchovies*
the usual spices
a few oz. goat cheese**

CREPES
1 egg
1 cup flour
between 1.5 and 2 cups milk
butter

Chop all your veggies into even, small pieces. Mix all the veg save the carrots in a bowl with the sherry, vinegar, spices, and crumbled anchovy. Over med-hi heat, cook the carrots, since they take forever to get soft. Once they’re soft-ish, add them back to the other veg. Working in small batches (I did mine in three rounds), quickly stir-fry the vegetables over high heat with a little oil. Once all the veggies are done, put them aside. For the crepes, mix all ingredients with a whisk until well combined. If the batter doesn’t look really thin (like, just barely thicker than beaten eggs), add more milk. Heat a NONSTICK (no, seriously, non-freaking-stick is vital here) skillet over medium heat and add around a 1/3 cup of batter. Swirl it into a very thin layer, and when the edges start to peel away, gingerly pick it up and flip it over. I advise using your fingers rather than tongs or something; those crepes are fragile, if you’re making them right. You can see how I ripped mine up, and they were even too thick. Immediately add some of the goat cheese and the veggies, place a lid over the crepe, and cook until the cheese starts to melt, no longer. Flip it like an omelette and top with a little more goat cheese and some balsamic vinegar.

*I know what you guys are thinking: “Anchovies? This is not a pizza!” Well, Congress just decided that pizza is a vegetable, therefore vegetables can get the pizza treatment. Or . . . something. Actually, I was watching some fancy cooking videos, and they said to add anchovies to create “depth of flavor,” whatever that is. It was actually spot-on. I did one batch of the veggies without anchovies and then added them to the following batches, and the latter ones were way tastier. I guess adding salt, fat, and some protein never hurt. If you want to keep it vegetarian, add a little fish sauce. The internet tells me this is a good replacement.

**Some people don’t like goat cheese. That’s okay: some people don’t like ice cream or Heath bars or sex, but we must still tolerate them as human beings. If you don’t like the best freaking cheese in the world, then feel free to use something inferior like gruyère or emmental.