I've cooked my way through all 264 recipes
in The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook!

February 23, 2011

Kolokythia Yakhni (p. 341)

That strange name means Greek Zucchini Stew and, if you're into that kind of thing (can you tell I'm not?) it can be thrown together super fast.

It's basically just a tomato sauce of onions, olive oil, tomatoes, and sugar, all softened down together. Bring it to a boil with water and add in the zucchini along with dill.

Cook until done, about 20 minutes.

Ehh. Not my thing. The flavors are nice and all of that, this just wouldn't be a soup that I would choose to eat/make/order in a restaurant.

onion -- $.70
zucchini -- $1.35
tomato -- $2.15
Total Cost of Kolokythia Yakhni: $4.20
($2.10 per serving)

February 20, 2011

One Year Down

Today is GoodbyeButter's first birthday! I didn't quite complete my goal -- so far I've cooked 232 recipes but still have 32 to go. I'm okay with that -- I've slowed down a little in the new year because life has gotten in the way, but I'll hopefully be able to wrap it up in the next few months!

February 16, 2011

Catalan Soup of White Beans Garnished with Shrimp (p. 146)

I love shrimp in pretty much any fashion, and this soup was no exception. They're saffron-y and tomato-y and are a nice pairing with the simple bean preparation that they sit upon.

Cook the beans in water along with sauteed onions and garlic for about 40 minutes, or until the beans are tender. Stir in salt and pepper.

While the beans are cooking, make a sort of tomato sauce by sautéing onion and garlic and olive oil. When the vegetables are very soft but not browned, mix in chopped, peeled tomato and a little sugar, as well as a crumbled dried red chili. Cook until this sauce thickens and the tomatoes begin to melt. Add in saffron and some wine (as the recipe calls for) or water (which I had on hand.)

Once the sauce is cooked to your liking, toss in the shrimp and cook just until they have changed color. Ladle the shrimp and tomato sauce mixture on top of each bowl of bean soup.

That picture doesn't do it justice, but this soup was really good. The saffron-infused shrimp was delicious, and there is a lot of shrimp in the soup, which was right up my alley. 

shrimp -- $10.13
tomato -- $1.87
onion -- $1.07
Total Cost of Catalan Soup of White Beans Garnished with Shrimp: $13.07
($4.36 per serving)

February 15, 2011

Baked Fish Fillets in a Herb Marinade (p. 382) with Garbonzos kon Spinaka (p. 334)

It seems like it's been a little while since I've done a full dinner -- between the holidays and being out of town and working, the months have been flying by quickly. Luckily, I had a three day weekend this past weekend, so last night I felt rejuvenated and ready to do some real cooking.

I always like fish (or any meats, really) in a marinade and this was no exception. Plus, the marinade was so simple that it only took a couple of minutes to make. Just chop together parsley, a bay leaf, garlic, and a yellow onion very finely. Stir in harissa to create a paste.

This gets spread over the fish and set aside in the fridge for at least an hour.

Cook for 15 minutes and then serve.

This was great, as anything with harissa in it proves to be. It wasn't overpoweringly spicy, it just had a nice heat.

Garbonzos kon Spinaka is Sephardic Spinach with Chickpeas from Greece, and I made it to accompany the fish. Since I didn't soak my chickpeas over night, I decided to do a quick soak method that is recommended in the book. You just cover the dried chickpeas with water in a pan, boil the water for about 2 minutes, cover, and remove the dish from the heat. Then leave the pan, still covered, for a couple of hours.

The actual dish comes together pretty easily -- sauté onions and add the chickpeas and some water.

Simmer for about 40 minutes until the peas are tender. Then just add in spinach and dill and cook until the spinach is tender -- about 10 minutes.

Pour in lemon juice and add salt and pepper.

This was pretty good, though I think I'll go back to soaking my chickpeas overnight instead of quick soaking them. They definitely could have been more tender. The dish is pretty lemony, which made it pair really nicely with the fish.

tilapia -- $6.11
onion -- $.34
Total Cost of Baked Fish Fillets in a Herb Marinade: $6.45
($1.61 per serving)

lemon -- $.58
dill -- $.99 (about half left)
spinach -- $3.09
chickpeas -- $1.69 (it was time to stock up, plenty is left)
Total Cost of Garbonzos kon Spinaka: $6.35
($1.27 per serving)

February 12, 2011

Onsa's Eggplant Tagine (p. 315)

We all know I'm not a big eggplant fan, but I think this is my last eggplant dish, so I'm okay with it. Plus, the pieces of eggplant and squash get fried pretty heavily olive oil, so that's always nice.

The eggplant needs to be salted and set aside to drain for about an hour -- the salt absorbs water from within the eggplant pieces which beads up to the top. After the hour has passed, rinse off the eggplant and dry them thoroughly.

This recipe is not vegetarian. Sauté small pieces of chicken with scallions in a little olive oil, and cover them with water to finish cooking the chicken thoroughly.

Once cooked, drain the water away and put the chicken and scallions in the food processor, along with capers, salt, and a little more olive oil. Blend until this has become a coarse paste.

Fry the eggplant as well as squash pieces in olive oil and set them aside to drain.

Lower the heat and cook a green pepper in the same pan until the skin begins to peel off.

To assemble the dish, layer in the half of the eggplant and squash pieces and put half of the chicken mixture on top. Sprinkle grated gruyere and top with a beaten egg. Then add the same layers again to use up the rest of the ingredients. Put the sliced, cooked pepper on top and cook for about 40 minutes.

I ate this stuffed in a toasted pita and really enjoyed it. It reminds me of a quiche and has a lot of flavor. The texture of the eggplant didn't even bother me!

gruyere cheese -- $7.05 (tons left)
chicken -- $.71
eggplant -- $3.47
green pepper -- $1.07
Total Cost of Onsa's Eggplant Tagine: $12.30
($4.10 per serving)

February 10, 2011

Fattoush (p. 87)

Fattoush is Lebanese Toasted Bread Salad and seemed like it would be a nice side with the steaks Matt made us last night (with a garlic, rosemary, and butter sauce -- yum!)

This comes together super fast since nothing needs to be cooked. Just toast some Arab flatbreads before hand, break them up, and toss them in the bottom of the bowl.

Layer in romaine lettuce, sliced radishes, scallions, cucumbers, pickles, tomatoes, and parsley (in that order) and top with a dressing of garlic, salt, lemon juice, and olive oil.

Wait to stir everything together until you're ready to eat so that the pita doesn't get soggy. 

This was scrumptious and I happily gobbled up the leftovers even though the pita was pretty soggy by that time. I'd eat this again for sure.

pitas -- $2.29 (6 are left)
romaine lettuce -- $1.69 (half of the head is left)
radishes -- $1.99 (most left)
scallions -- $.63 (half left)
cucumbers -- $1.25 (half left)
tomato -- $1.82
Total Cost of Fattoush: $9.67
($2.42 per serving)

February 9, 2011

Everyday Granola

I've been dying for homemade granola lately, so I emailed my friend Sarah over at a Little Fancy to ask for her favorite granola recipes. She sent me several and I decided on Everyday Granola from Bon Appetit because I didn't want anything too fancy.

It calls for shredded coconut, which I generally don't love but decided to include anyway. Sarah recommended that I pre-toast the coconut and oats, so I popped them in the oven for about 10 minutes before mixing in the honey mixture.

Once I mixed everything together with the spices and put it in the oven it smelled amazing. It also cooked much, much faster than the recipe said it would; after just 20 minutes it was already pretty brown and I was worried it would burn (or had already), so I took it out to cool.

Once cool, I mixed in the fruits, and then Matt and I sat there and gobbled it up. It definitely did burn, a little bit, but it's still delicious and we'll still finish it right up.

I ate it on my yogurt this morning and was quite the happy camper.

I'll make this again, but play around with the temperature and time.

February 4, 2011

Okra Middle Eastern Style (p. 327)

I've actually been trying to track down okra for this recipe for about a month -- all the local stores had run out and couldn't tell me when more might come in. Finally, walking through Harris Teeter the other day I came across some and bought it up.

I've never cooked with okra before. Before trying this recipe, I think the only way I've ever eaten it is fried.

Okra kind of oozes something sticky out of it, which is a little gross, and means that you have to be very careful when trimming the ends -- just cut a little off!

The okra is lightly sauteed in olive oil and then removed from the heat.

The same olive oil is again used to cook onion, tomato, and garlic into a sauce -- then add the okra back in along with boiling water. Cook until most of the water has evaporated and then top with salt and pepper.

This was okay, but it mostly just tasted like onion and tomato -- the okra itself doesn't seem to have a whole lot of flavor, at least not in this preparation.

okra -- $1.76
tomato -- $.81
onion -- $.46 (half left)
Total Cost of Okra Middle Eastern Style: $3.03
($1.51 per serving)

February 2, 2011

Torta di Polenta Gialla (p. 454)

Also known as Cornmeal Cake, or, the best Mediterranean cake we've had so far. Seriously, this is super delicious. Probably because it's full of butter and and sugar, just like a real cake!

The base of the cake is butter, sugar, vanilla, and egg yolks all together. Stir in freshly squeezed orange juice and finely ground nuts - the recipe calls for almonds but I only had walnuts on hand. Alternate between mixing in whipped egg whites and the dry ingredients -- flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and some corn starch.

Bake for about 30 minutes and serve!

This was delicious. It's sweet and soft and has a nice little crunch from the nuts. I loved it, Matt loved it, and my coworkers loved it.

Best of all, I had all the ingredients!

Total Cost of Torta di Polenta Gialla: Free!

February 1, 2011

White Bean, Collard Greens, and Yellow Squash Soup (p. 138)

I made this soup the other night. The recipe actually calls for cavolo nero, or black cabbage, but that's kind of hard to come by, so I used collard greens instead.

I soaked the white beans over night with garlic and a bay leaf, and then cooked them in their soaking liquid when I was ready to make the soup. The beans took about 40 minutes to cook, at which point I took them off the heat and discarded the bay leaf.

The rest of the soup comes together quickly -- sauté onions until starting to brown and then add them to simmering chicken stock (or veggie, if you want it to be a vegetarian soup.) Do the same with squash -- I had butternut left over from a recipe last week.

Cut the greens into thin strips and add them into the soup, along with salt and pepper, leaving to cook for about 15 minutes until the greens are tender.

Add the beans and their water in with the rest of the soup and bring it back to a simmer. Serve with a little cheese on top!

This has a lot of greens in it. Maybe too many, for me. It's okay, but definitely not something I'd make again.

collard greens -- $1.99
yellow onion -- $1.03
Total Cost of White Bean, Collard Greens, and Yellow Squash Soup: $3.02
($.78 per serving)