Ham and bean tostada

Ham and bean tostada

Ham and beans are a classic soup combination. And beans suggest to me a possible tostada. Here is a ham and bean tostada with the tortilla topped with a ham, carrot, and bean mixture made much like the soup but without the excess broth.

As with the New Orleans tostada I’m using canned beans rather than going through the effort of using dry beans. The beans I found were simply labeled white beans, but great northern beans or navy beans are very similar. Ham and bean soups typically have carrots, so those are included as well.

For the ham, I found a small bag of cubed ham which was just perfect. Some markets sell individual ham steaks which could be cut into cubes. Or you could get a very thick slice of ham at the deli counter.

For topping the frittata, I chose to add more ham and sliced carrots (raw here, of coures). And for the vinaigrette, vinegar is often served as a condiment with ham and bean soup. So I made the proportion vinegar higher than in a typical vinaigrette and included no additional flavorings, as I wanted the vinegar to be the focus. I think that worked well.

Ham and bean tostada

1 can great northern, navy, or other white beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup carrots, small pieces
1/4 cup ham, small cubes
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 bay leaf
oil

2 corn tortillas
oil

romaine lettuce, chopped
ham, cubes or other small pieces
carrots, sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Saute the onion in oil, adding garlic for the last minute. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth, ham, carrots, and spices. Cook for 30 minutes, adding more chicken broth as necessary to just keep from drying out.

Heat a thin layer of oil in a pan. When the oil is hot, put in a tortilla, cook for about 30 seconds on each side until it starts to crisp up. You want it a little crispy but not as hard as a tortilla chip. Repeat with the second tortilla.

Put the tortillas side-by-side on a plate. Spread on a thin layer of the ham and bean mixture. Put the romaine, ham, and carrots on the beans. Whisk or shake in a small jar the oil and vinegar. Spoon the vinaigrette over the salad.

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Bacon and leek frittata

Bacon and leek frittata

This is quite literally another frittata made from what I happened to have in the refrigerator. I hadn’t planned on making a frittata this week. So I hadn’t decided on any recipe and hadn’t picked up ingredients when I did my weekly shopping. And then I really felt like having a frittata.

I had a leek that was left over from something I had made the week before. (Leeks at Trader Joe’s come two to a package.) Then I remembered I had bacon in the freezer. That would work. And I had part of a red bell pepper which would go well with that and add color.

A note on the becon: Some of the things I make include bacon. But generally not more than 3 or 4 slices. And becon comes in much larger packages. Fortunately bacon freezes perfectly. So when I buy a package of bacon for something, I take the remaining bacon, separate it into groups of 3 or 4 slices, cut them in half so they fit into small plastic sandwich bags, and toss those bags into the freezer. Then when I want bacon for something I’m making, I just take a bag out and let it defrost. This was how I got the bacon for the salade Lyonnaise, for example.

Bacon and leek frittata

4 slices bacon, sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
1 leek, primarily white part, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper

3 eggs

Cook the bacon in a pan until the desired degree of crispness. Remove from the pan and drain on a paper towel, leaving the beacon fat in the pan.

Put the leek and pepper in the pan. Cook on medium heat until the leek and pepper are softened. Remove from the pan.

Put the eggs into a good-sized mixing bowl and beat just to mix them up. Make sure the bacon fat in the pan is hot. Add a small amount of the eggs to the pan to set the bottom of the frittata to prevent sticking. Turn the heat down to medium low. Mix the bacon, leek, and pepper into the eggs. Pour the mixture into the pan. Cook this for about 5 minutes to set the bottom and sides.

Preheat the broiler. When the 5 minutes cooking on the stove are up, place the pan under the broiler, about 6 to 7 inches below. Cook until the top is set and just starts to brown. This is about 1–1/2 to 2 minutes for me, but watch closely.

Remove from the broiler, loosen up the sides with a spatula if necessary, and slide the frittata out onto the serving plate.

Beef and cheddar frittata

Beef and cheddar frittata

I first made this frittata because I had the ingredients in the refrigerator. I thought it turned out to be a surprisingly good combination. This is now one of my regulars.

I used 3 slices of deli roast beef, cut into small pieces. It measured out at 3/4 of a cup. As I was adding it to the eggs and cheese, not quite all of it “fit.” So I left some out. Another thing, if you have leftover roast beef, you could certainly use that as well.

Beef and cheddar frittata

1/2–3/4 cup sliced deli roast beef, in bite-sized pieces
3/4 c shredded sharp cheddar

3 eggs
oil

Put the eggs into a good-sized mixing bowl and beat just to mix them up. Add a bit of oil to the pan and let it get hot. Add a small amount of the eggs to the pan to set the bottom of the frittata to prevent sticking. Turn the heat down to medium low. Mix the cheddar cheese and beef into the eggs, adding the beef a bit at a time to keep it all from sticking together. Pour the mixture into the pan. Cook this for about 5 minutes to set the bottom and sides.

Preheat the broiler. When the 5 minutes cooking on the stove are up, place the pan under the broiler, about 6 to 7 inches below. Cook until the top is set and just starts to brown. This is about 1–1/2 to 2 minutes for me, but watch closely.

Remove from the broiler, loosen up the sides with a spatula if necessary, and slide the frittata out onto the serving plate.

Scallop ceviche salad

Scallop ceviche salad

I like ceviche made with all different types of fish and seafood. I thought that ceviche would make a great centerpiece for a salad. As I considered what type of ceviche, I easily decided on scallops. I am a great scallop lover, so scallop ceviche sounded great.

I had never made any type of ceviche. I looked up recipes online. As far as the time to “cook” the scallops in the citrus juice, recipes varied from 20–30 minutes to 4 hours and even 8 hours to overnight. I settled on 2 hours and was very pleased with the outcome.

Most ceviche recipes include chiles. This is not surprising since the origin of ceviche is in Latin America. I wasn’t interest in going in that direction, so I omitted the chiles. But I did include the red onion. That worked well both for flavor and for adding some color. I used my mandolin to get very thin slices.

The tomatoes on the salad were the mini-heirloom tomatoes from Trader Joe’s. I love the color variety they add. Obviously other tomatoes would work as well.

This is a very easy and quick prep. Cut up the scallops and onion a few hours before and add the lime and lemon juice. Then just assemble the salad.

Scallop ceviche salad

4 sea scallops
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
(enough of the juice to cover the scallops)
2 very thin slices of red onion, cut into pieces

spring mix lettuce
avocado
tomato

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
fresh ground pepper

Cut the scallops into quarters. Put in a small dish with the onions. Add lime juice and lemon juice to cover the scallops. Cover the dish and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Assemble the salad with the lettuce, avocado, and tomatoes. Whisk or shake in a small jar the oil, lime juice, and pepper. Spoon the dressing over the salad. Strain the juice from the scallops and onions and place them on the salad.

The making of a frittata

After making the palak paneer frittata, I realized that this provided a typical example of how I come up with my salad and frittata recipes. First, on coming up with the basic idea: I was shopping at a new store, just looking around, and saw that they had paneer, the Indian cheese, which is not available in many stores. This made me think of palak paneer, one of my favorite Indian dishes. And that make me think, spinach and cheese are both ingredients that work well in a frittata. So why not a palak paneer frittata?

Next come the details of the ingredients and how to make it. To give it an Indian flavor, some spices should be added. Garam masala was an obvious one. My next step, which I often do, was a Google search for recipes, in this case, for palak paneer. I’m not doing this with the intent of following any specific recipe. The objective is to get ideas for potential ingredients and their quantities. This led to my adding the cumin seeds, onion, ground ginger, and garlic. A lot of the recipes also included chiles or chile pepper, but I didn’t want to include that.

Then on the preparation: Heating the cumin seeds until they sputtered was mentioned in the recipes, and I knew about that from other Indian food I have made. Of course the onion and garlic would have to be cooked. For palak paneer the spinach is completely cooked and pureed. But for me, spinach that has just been wilted works well in a frittata. Finally, briefly frying the cubes of paneer came from several of the recipes.

One thing I nearly always do when making a new preparation is to plan all of the quantitites first and measure things out during the preparation. I record this information along with the basic procedure followed for the preparation. Of course I need this for salad and frittata recipes for this blog. But I began doing this years before starting the blog for all sorts of food that I would cook. If I make something and conclude that the results are great, I want to have the information to be able to make it the same way again. Sometimes I will make something and conclude that it’s good but that it could be improved if I used more or less of some ingredients or changed the preparation in some way, perhaps cooking a longer or shorter time. So I note that on the recipe as well so I can make the change the next time. Of course I can only add more or less than I used the first time if I have a record of how much that was.

If you like to make up new recipes, I would encourage you keep such a record. It helps when making something again, and doing so provides a sense of accomplishment. I keep all my recipes, including those created by others, along with early ideas for new recipes, in the Notes program that comes on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac (and syncs among the devices). It’s handy to have my iPhone or iPad in the kitchen to refer to a recipe as I am cooking. But any app that that provides for the creation and storage of separate notes or a dedicated recipe app could be used.

Palak paneer frittata

Palak paneer frittata

I saw paneer in a store and thought of palak paneer, a favorite Indian dish. Then I thought that spinach and cheese are both good in a frittata. With some Indian spices, this makes a palak paneer frittata.

If paneer, the Indian cheese, is not available, the Mexican queso blanco or queso fresco are similar and can be substituted.

I went back and forth on the quantities of the spices. I liked the results. It had moderately spiced Indian flavors. Easy to increase or decrease depending upon taste.

Palak paneer frittata

1/2 cup 1/4-inch cubed paneer (or queso blanco or queso fresco if not available)
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1–1/2 cups tightly packed spinach, chopped
vegetable oil

3 eggs
more oil if necessary

Heat oil in pan. Lightly fry paneer until it starts to get golden. Remove from pan . If using queso fresco, omit this step and add directly to the eggs with the spinach.

Add a bit more oil to pan if necessary. Add the cumin seeds and cook until they just start to sputter. Add the onion, garam masala, and ginger and more oil if necessary and cook until soft. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Add the spinach in batches and stir until wilted. Remove from pan.

Put the eggs into a good-sized mixing bowl and beat just to mix them up. Add a bit of oil to the pan if needed and let it get hot. Add a small amount of egg mixture to the pan to set the bottom of the frittata to prevent sticking. Turn the heat down to medium low. Mix the spinach and paneer into the eggs and pour the mixture into the pan. Cook this for about 5 minutes to set the bottom and sides.

Preheat the broiler. When the 5 minutes cooking on the stove are up place the pan under the broiler, about 6 to 7 inches below. Cook until the top is set and just starts to brown. This is about 1–1/2 to 2 minutes for me, but watch closely.

Remove from the broiler, loosen up the sides with a spatula if necessary, and slide the frittata out onto the serving plate.

New Orleans tostada

New Orleans tostada

Once I got started with my unusual tostadas, I keep thinking about different kinds of beans and how they might be used to make a different kind of tostada. Red beans and rice is a staple in New Orleans and Louisiana. So my thinking was to use the red beans as a starting point for a New Orleans tostada.

My first idea was to top the tostada with Cajun shrimp. Can’t get much more New Orleans than that. But then I had the idea of andouille sausage, very much associated with Cajun cuisine. Both sounded ideal and I couldn’t make a choice. So I didn’t. It’s the shrimp on one tortilla, the sausage on the other.

For the red beans, I used canned kidney beans, which some recipes call for. This seemed so much easier than starting with dry beans. I used the whole can of beans, which is more than I need for the tostada. But what else would I use the kidney beans for? I’ll eat the leftover red beans for lunch. The recipe for the red beans was adapted from a number of different recipes. But feel free to use your own approach and spices. I chose to remove the casing before chopping up the sausage, but that certainly is not necessary. I cooked the beans for at least a half hour before starting the sausage, shrimp, and tortillas, so they cooked for at least 40 minutes. Cooking this long (or longer) makes the beans softer, but this is not necessary.

For the shrimp, I used McCormick’s Cajun seasoning and followed a recipe from their website. Again, I am choosing the easiest way, but you could certainly follow a more authentic recipe.

The amounts of cayenne pepper in the beans and the vinaigrette make this moderately spicy. Use more or less to suit your taste.

New Orleans tostada

1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 andouille sausage, chopped up
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup green pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
chicken broth
olive oil

1 andouille sausage cut into bite-sized pieces
olive oil

4–6 shrimp, depending on size
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
butter

2 tortillas
olive oil
romaine lettuce, chopped into smaller pieces

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

To make the red beans, start by browning the sausage in some olive oil. Add the onions and green pepper and cook over medium heat until soft, adding the garlic for the last minute. Add the kidney beans, cayenne pepper,  and 1/2 cup chicken broth. Cook covered at a low simmer for half an hour, stirring occasionally, adding more chicken broth as needed to keep it from getting dry.

Brown the pieces of the second sausage in olive oil. Remove from the pan and wipe out the pan. Melt butter in the pan. Put the shrimp and Cajun seasoning in a small plastic bag and shake to coat the shrimp with the seasoning. Cook the shrimp in the butter until pink on both sides, no more than about 3 minutes. Remove from the pan.

Wipe out the pan again. Heat a thin layer of oil in the pan. When the oil is hot, put in a tortilla, cook for about 30 seconds on each side until it starts to crisp up. You want it a little crispy but not as hard as a tortilla chip. Repeat with the second tortilla.

Place the tortillas side-by-side. Top with a layer of the red beans. Add the romaine. Whisk or shake in a small jar the oil, vinegar, and pepper. Spoon over the romaine. Put the andouille sausage on one tortilla and the shrimp on the other.