The Times likes brown rice, you should too
This is my new crappy kitchen. The heat doesn’t work in my apartment, and I just learned how to use the oven last week. But there is a lovely gas stove, and I’m within walking distance to campus.
Another crowd-of-one pleasing dish. I had to prove that I can turn frozen seafood into a delectable dish, and I think I won. This is my play on traditional shrimp scampi
Paprika shrimp scampi with linguini (2 servings)
1/2 pound of frozen, uncooked shrimp, devained (or fresh if you have the option!)
2 tbsps butter (don’t skimp on scampi)
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tbsp paprika
2 tsps dried basil
2 tbsps freshly ground pepper
pepper to taste
Half a package of linguini or angel hair pasta
1/4 cup parmesan
1 tbsp olive oil
more pepper to taste
Start by thawing the shrimp in a collander. Run cold water over the shrimp (hot will cook the shrimp). Once they are thawed, remove the shells. You can leave the tails on, but I like to remove them so it’s easier to eat with the pasta. Saute the butter until it’s melted and add the garlic. Once the garlic is fragrant, stir in the paprika, basil and pepper. Then coat the shrimp in the paprika butter and saute for about two to three minutes on each side until the shrimp is pink and cooked all the way thru.
Cook the pasta according to package instructions and toss with pepper, olive oil and parmesan. Serve the scampi in a bed of pasta and garnish with extra parmesan and basil. Enjoy! (Goes best with white wine).
I whipped up this dish for a romantic dinner in. I used wheat potato gnocchi and store-bought tomato sauce, but it still turned out great.
Potato gnocchi with sun-dried tomato sauce (2 servings)
1 package wheat potato gnocchi (or original depending on your preferences)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, chopped
1 cup tomato pasta sauce
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus extra for garnish
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Cook the gnocchi according to package instructions. They only take a couple minutes to cook. (I over-cooked mine.) Saute the garlic in olive oil until fragrant and add the sun-dried tomatoes. Saute for three to five minutes and add tomato sauce. Once the sauce simmers, add the gnocchi and then the cheese. Serve with extra parmesan.
As always, my boyfriend Michael was extremely impressed that I pulled together a random meal in less than 30 minutes.
Cooking With A Kay -
This summer, I am interning at the Grand Island Independent in Grand Island, Neb. Cooking With A Kay is my weekly food column. Check in out at theindependent.com.
So, I have this cooking philosophy. Women put effort into mixing and matching their outfits, so they don’t have to buy a completely different outfit for each day while still keeping their wardrobe unique and interesting from day to day. I apply the same concept to food. This recipe is a great example how one week’s food can be rearranged into many different meals. This week I made veggie wraps, and tonight I’m turning in the left-over vegetables to flatbread pizzas. (Check out my California vegetable wrap recipe. I pretty much use all the same ingredients plus tomato sauce, parmesan and oregano.)
Saute garlic in olive oil. Once fragrant, add mushrooms and cook until soft and a little browned. Add tomato and saute until garlic is softened. Add tomato sauce, spinach and oregano. Cook until the spinach is wilted. Spread the cream cheese onto the flat bread, top w/ the sauce and veggie mixture and sprinkle w/ parmesan and cheese. Bake at 400 degrees until the cheese in melted and the crust is crispy. Not the healthiest recipe with all the cheese, but delicious and perfect for pizza and beer night.
Saute garlic in olive oil until fragrant and add bell peppers. Saute until pepper are browned and add tomatoes. One the tomatoes are soft and add the tomato paste and taco seasoning. Cook until sauce and veggies are browned, and deglaze the pan with lime juice and. Serve in a wheat tortilla w/ taco sauce or your favorite salsa. (See my roasted tomato salsa recipe. It’s great w/ these fajitas.)
This is an article I wrote for a reporting class about a local business owner. He also happens to make some of the best vegetarian Mexican food. My favorites: chili relleno and sweet potato quesadilla. Made fresh with mostly local ingredients.
Jose “Pepe” Fierro doesn’t have a body like Charles Atlas.
But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t tried.
At 14, Fierro was the smallest kid in the neighborhood reading comics with Charles Atlas advertisements in the back. He wanted a bodybuilde’rs body, so he made his own dumbbells using Foldgers cans, cement and broomsticks.
He doesn’t have the muscled build of a body-builder — he gave that up more than 20 years ago — but he retained the dedication to nutrition, trading meaty meals for vegetarianism.
At 46, Fierro owns and runs one of Lincoln’s few vegetarian restaurants, Pepe’s Vegetarian Bistro. He specializes in vegetarian and vegan options for traditional Mexican food and buys his produce from local farmers.
At Pepe’s he substitutes beef in tacos and pork in Cuban sandwiches for seitan — a meat substitute made of wheat gluten.
“People have come in here and walked out after seeing the menu,” Fierro said.
But that doesn’t discourage Fierro. He said he often hears forks scraping plates from the kitchen and rarely sees plates with food left. And Pepe’s more than 1,400 Facebook fans probably don’t hurt.
“I don’t need to hear a compliment to know that (the customers) are happy,” Fierro said.
Fierro opened Pepe’s in July 2008. But he didn’t make much profit until he was featured in the Ground Zero section of the Lincoln Journal Star. After that article, he was swamped from 11 a.m. until 9 .m. for a week straight and, without any full-time employees, he had to rely on family to help out. His mother rode 30 hours on a Greyhound bus from Abilene to help him in the restaurant.
The restaurant is located above the Against the Wall art gallery. There aren’t menus on the tables, and Fierro only accepts cash or check. None of the tables match and are the product of Dumpster dives and thrift store shopping. On every table, there are homemade silverware holders made of bike gears and different books. One table has a book about eco farming; another has a book of poetry.
And the walls are crowded with art — Fierro said art shows are his weakness. But there also are posters for local events. One has a statistic about buying local businesses and farmers, and the positive effect it has on the local economy. Another advertises an event educating Lincolnites on raising chickens in their backyards for fresh eggs.
Another poster has the manifesto for Schy’s Pies for Peace. Schyler Plad Lindekugel bakes her pies in Pepe’s kitchen. She started a year ago, and said Fierro is the reason for her success. He connected her with local businesses that now sell her pies. Since then, she’s given $350, totaling 10 percent of her profits, to local charities.
“He honestly has one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever seen,” she said. “Our community would be really lost without him, I think.”
Fierro gives back, because the he feels that Lincoln community helped him first. He moved to Lincoln eight years ago for a job that didn’t pan out. He ended up living out of his car at first, and many people in the community helped him get back on his feet.
When decided to give his restaurant dream a try, Against the Wall owner John O’Hare gave him Pepe’s current space with rent for three months. The lease started in April 2008, and by July, Pepe’s was open for business.
But before opening the restaurant, Fierro had no formal cooking experience. He graduated high school and joined the food industry. He worked as a waiter for 25 years, most recently at Lincoln’s El Sitio. Now, not only does Fierro own Pepe’s, but he also acts as a host, cashier, cook and waiter. And everyone calls him Pepe.
“With most restaurants you go in and you don’t know the owner or the cook,” Fierro said. “It’s a nice little connection.”
Pepe’s staples are cucumber lemonade, black bean tacos, sweet potato quesadillas, chile rellenos and the Cuban sandwich with seitan.
But he also experiments and invests different recipes, and some succeed better than others. Once he made an Elvis quesadilla with black beans and plantains — as a tribute to Elvis Presley’s love for banana splits — but he only sold two. One customer only ate half the meal, but the other raved about the dish on Facebook.
“You can’t satisfy everyone,” Fierro said.
Lindekugel, who in addition to Schy’s Pies works at Open Harvest, said everyone she talks to about Pepe’s raves about Pepe’s food, but also about Fierro. She said his connection with customers makes their experience at Pepe’s even better.
“I think it makes a really big different that he is the owner, the chef and he puts the food on the table,” she said.
And almost everything Fierro puts on the table is from local farms. He wants to keep his carbon footprint small. He does this through buying local produce that doesn’t have to be shipped across country.
But buying local also helps sustain the local economy.
“You can’t fix the national economy before you fix your own,” he said.
But Pepe’s business model doesn’t work for everyone, Fierro said. With the higher cost of local produce, Fierro’s profit margin is slim. He said he barely breaks even and is often in the negative during slow winter months. But during the summer, business picks up, and Fierro goes to the Havelock farmer’s market just behind the restaurant for his produce.
Even with these drawbacks, Fierro doesn’t plan on changing.
“I’m not here to get rich,” Fierro said. “I’m here to be happy.”
He also encourages other local businesses to buy from local farmers, but said if they want to make a profit, they probably won’t change. But he still encourages other restaurant owners to at least buy their tomatoes from local farmers.
Fierro also doesn’t plan on expanding in that he said there will never be two Pepe’s. But he would like to have a bigger restaurant, so he could employ more people and keep more money in the local economy.
Currently, he only has a few employees. But he refers to them as co-workers, because he said “couldn’t do this without them.” Mostly they are volunteers who help out when they can. Mistie Diaz, Fierro niece, is one such worker.
Diaz moved to Lincoln with her three children before Pepe’s opened, and lived with Fierro in his one-bedroom apartment. He helped her get a job, and now she said her financial situation is good.
“He’s done a lot for us and a lot for the community,” she said.
Pepe’s is open Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. When he isn’t at the restaurant, he eats at local restaurants and coffee shops — he avoids cooking on his days off — and restores bikes. At the restaurant, he trades discounts for bike parts.
“It’s his willingness to support anybody. Every time you see him he has a smile on his face.” Lindekugel said.
Saute garlic in olive oil until fragrant and add potatoes. Saute until the potatoes are slightly browned and add water, enough to cover the potatoes. Boil until the potatoes are tender. Mash with a fork too a choppy consistency, and mix in milk, cream cheese, thyme and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.
This is my favorite recipe for weekend baking. It’s simple, quick and absolutely delicious. It’s also a great alternative to buying processed granola bars and cereal. It’s also super versatile. You can substitute in your favorite grains and nuts. This recipe has great nutrients, but the peanut butter makes it kind of heavy in calories. My mom and I are absolutely obsessed w/ this recipe. I make it for her every time I’m home, and it rarely lasst long enough for me to take any back to school w/ me.
Start by melting peanut butter and honey. (Look for natural peanut butters w/o added sugar and salt. You can use crunchy or smooth based on your tastes.) Mix grains and nuts together w/ the cinnamon. (I usually mix in in my 9x13 baking dish, but that gets messy.) Add the honey and peanut butter and mix everything together. It should be mixed enough to stick together. (Taste for sweetness. You might have to add more honey based on how sweet you like your granola.) Pat into a glass baking dish and bake at about 325 degrees for about 30-40 minutes. Wait until the granola is completely cooled before trying to cut or it will fall apart.
Eat plain or with skim milk. The only ingredients really required for this recipe are oatmeal, peanut butter and honey. You can substitute the other grains and nuts for whatever you have on hand or prefer. I often finely ground pecans, walnuts or almonds for the recipe. Wheat germ and oat bran are also great in this recipe. You can throw whatever you like in here and just adjust the amount of peanut butter you use accordingly. Enjoy.