Bologna to Bolognese: Adventures With Food

Food is necessary. Food is fun. Food is an adventure!

My name is Shannon and this is my adventure, my love affair with food.

I hope you'll come along for the ride.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Beautiful Bhaji

My husband and I LOVE Indian food and when we were in England a meal from the local curry shop was often accompanied by delicious Onion Bhaji, fresh from the deep fryer. Recently I found a great recipe for Baked Zucchini fritters and it seemed like a great starting place for a healthier version of the delicious Indian snack food I’ve been missing. A traditional Bhaji is thinly sliced onions combined with a chickpea flour batter and spices before being deep fried in hot oil. I don’t love frying things at home so this baked version is not only healthier but helps avoid the mess and hassle of frying.

Ingredients (12 Bhaji)

3 c. shredded zucchini, unpeeled
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp mace
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp ground red pepper
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 egg, slightly beaten
3/4 c. bread crumbs
1 onion
2 tbsp garlic
1/2 c. feta (finely crumbled) or grated parmesan


Preheat oven 425 F
Shred the zucchini and onion with a food processor or box grater. Place shredded vegetable in a fine sieve or colander and press out excess water. In a bowl (not plastic), mix the shredded veg and remaining ingredients together. Prepare a baking sheet with cooking spray.
Each Bhaji should be about ¼ cup of this mixture. Place a scoop of mixture onto the baking tray and press gently into a round shape on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining mixture. Once all the fritters have been placed on the baking sheet, bake for 10 minutes. Spray Bhaji tops with spray butter or drizzle with oil, turn over with a spatula. Cook for additional 10 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown. Top with a drizzle of lemon juice.

These Bhajis have a very strong flavor and I like mine with a smidge of sour cream as well, though this is not a traditional Bhaji accoutrement. However, since Zucchini is not a traditional Bhaji ingredient I guess it’s all good!

Wonderful White Chili

Recently I’ve added a new segment to my daily radio program called “Mid Day Munchies”. Each week I pick a topic and daily talk about different recipes or aspects of a food as the week progresses. So a few weeks ago I chose Chili as my topic. It was a wonderful adventure discovering the rich history of the chili queens and chili parlors and delving into the controversy of beans or no beans in chili. However the most odd thing for me remains the concept of a “White Chili”. I really feel chili needs to be luscious chunks of red meat with rich tomato based sauce and lots of spices. Since I featured it on my show though I thought I should give it a shot in my kitchen. So after some adjustments I am happy with this Wonderful White Chili.

Ingredients: (Serves 6)

4 cups chicken broth
32 oz beans, great northern
1 lb ground turkey
1/4 cup pearl barley
1 onion
2 cups celery
1 tsp cumin
2 tbsp chilies
1 tsp bay leaf
1 tsp pepper
3 tbsp garlic


Sauté the onions and celery in a deep pan on the stove until slightly softened. Add the ground turkey and garlic and cook until meat is no longer pink. De glaze the pan with some of the chicken stock and combine with the remaining ingredients in a crock-pot. Cook on high for two hours or until the celery is tender and the barley is cooked through. If you don’t have a crock pot add the remaining ingredients to your cooking pot on the stove, bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer stirring occasionally for about 1-2 hours. I like the crock-pot because it’s more out of sight out of mind and I can do other things while I wait for the soup to finish.

This is even better served in a yummy bread bowl but if you eliminate the bread you’ll find this dish is not only tasty but also chocked full of nutrients and very filling.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Zucchini Spinach Frittata

We all have days where cooking is the last thing you want to do at the end of a long day. The next time you get a case of the kitchen blues instead of reaching for the takeout menus, take just a moment to toss together this tasty treat. The frittata is a glorious food that uses egg as a vessel with which to deliver any number of wondrous ingredients to your pallet. At first glance it looks a lot like a giant omelet or a quiche, but there are a few subtle differences.

The omelet is almost universal in that most cultures have some version of it. The main difference from a quiche or frittata is it’s simplicity. Usually just egg with a very little liquid added, an omelet is cooked in a very hot pan with butter. the omelet is folded around it’s fillings which are often very mild, sometimes just fresh herbs salt and pepper.

A quiche is a savory egg dish similar to a custard. French in origin the quiche incorporates milk or cream with the eggs to give a rich creamy texture and flavor to the finished dish. Quiche comes in many variations but is usually baked in a light pastry crust with meats, cheese or vegetables added before baking. The quiche can be eaten hot or cold.

A frittata is commonly associated with Italian cuisine and differs from an omelet in that the eggs are whipped to incorporate more air and the fillings are added to the pan prior to the eggs. A frittata can incorporate milk or water with the eggs depending on the cook’s preference. It is usually begun on the stove top before being transferred to the oven to finish it off. Very versatile the frittata can be served hot or at room temperature and unlike the quiche a frittata has no crust which makes this a quick weeknight dinner fix.

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

4 large eggs
1/2 cup ricotta cheese (low fat works great)
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tbsp basil
1 teaspoon thyme
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 zucchini cubed
1 cup spinach roughly chopped
1 onion diced
2 tbsp minced garlic


Whip your eggs until light in color. Add the garlic and ricotta cheese, combining gently so as not to deflate the eggs. Saute the onion and zucchini until soft but not browned. Add the spinach and spices stirring until the spinach is just wilted then pour on the egg and cheese mixture. On the stove top cook for another minute before transferring the pan to oven. Bake for another 10 minutes or until firm and slightly brown on top. Just before placing the pan in the oven top the dish with the shredded Parmesan. Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before cutting into wedges to serve.

This is a great dish you can whip up anytime with whatever is in your pantry. Sausage, cheese, veggies they're all fantastic in a frittata!