River's Recipes

t’s said an army travels on its stomach, to be honest so do detectives and time travellers. To that end I bring you recipes from all over time and my own kitchen - recipes from places like Sardis - in the 50’s and 60’s (1950’s that is) So if you are looking for a nibble and mayhap a story (very short) about how it came to be in my kitchen stop by once a week. Because time travel can build up an appetite

Seared Gnocchi with fresh tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Dinner for a Hungry Detective and Friends  

 Something for those late night conferences to keep the clients happy and healthy.  

servings: 4

cook time: 25 minutes 

You'll need -

 

2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil (I like garlic infused ) 

Package of shelf stable gnocchi (you can also use frozen)

1/4 cup unsalted butter 

4 garlic cloves thinly sliced

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes  

2 pints small tomatoes (plum or cherry)

8 ounces of fresh mozzarella 

Tomato paste

 

Brown the gnocchi and set it to one side 

In the same pan add the tomatoes (I add garlic) and let them heat until they are ready to pop- then mash them and add a small amount of tomato paste.

 

When the sauce is hot and bubbling add the gnocchi and heat all the way through. Add slices of the mozzarella and cover over reduced heat after they have melted, serve in dishes and enjoy. 

*Bufala Mozzarella doesn’t always melt as well as will a shredded Mozzarella so pick whichever works best for you

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Sunday Morning Tofu Scramble
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This is a no recipe/recipe  for one of my favorite things I ordered at a restaurant. 

 

I start with 1 cup red, yellow and green peppers and saute them in olive oil, throw in 1 cup frozen or fresh chopped mushrooms,  ¼ cup black olives,  ¾ cup of onions and celery (finely chopped), garbanzo beans are optional.

 

Add a handful of spinach (fresh is always better) and ¾ cup plum tomatoes. Coat 1 cup of cubed Tofu with a little turmeric to give it a yellow color. Toss this all together, until it's nice and hot. At this point I add a little teriyaki and soy sauce just to keep it moist . Add a handful of crumbled Feta cheese and serve. 

Eggplant Mozzarella 

What you need 

 

I eggplant 

2 small rolls of mozzarella cheese

Spicy tomato sauce *  (you can of course make your own but this is more a “throw it in the crock pot and run ) 

Panko bread crumbs 

Eggs

Slice the eggplant and salt it to remove the bitterness. 

Set it to one side while you scramble an egg or two 

Take the egg plant and dip it in the egg and dredge it with panko bread crumbs. 

(I do not grill or fry the eggplant and I rather like it this way)

 

Spray the inside of the crock pot with Pam or some cooking spray.

Put a small amount  of the sauce in the bottom of the Crockpot 

Place two layers of eggplant on the sauce

Slice the mozzarella and put a layer on top of the eggplant.

Cover with more sauce.

 

Repeat this process,  I don’t recommend filling it to the top, as it can get messy.

 

Cook on low for 4 to 5 hours. 

 

Let it cool before serving, 

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Dinner for Two with a Recipe from Harry’s Restaurant in Venice, Italy, 1972.

So I was having dinner with my friend Vincent, and we convinced the chef to share the recipe for  this casserole for two. Now I Am fully aware that casserole is a dirty word to some people.  But this is rich and served with a glass of wine. It might make your night. 

It’s faster than you would think to put together - that said, lay out the ingredients in advance.

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 6 TBSP of butter (4 for the sauce and two to toss the cream sauce with.

1/4 cup of flour 

1/2 tsp of salt, 

1/8 tsp of pepper, 

1/2 cup heavy cream, 

2 cups HOT milk , 

1/4 lb. or 4 slices of prosciutto ham finely sliced . 

6 oz of green noodles (you want a wide noodle, Tagliatelle if possible.)

1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

In a saucepan heat: 4 tablespoons of butter. Stir in 1/4 cup of flour, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/8 teaspoon of pepper. Add 2 cups HOT milk and cook stirring until the sauce is smooth and thickened. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup of heavy cream. 

Preheat oven (you can also do this in a toaster oven) to 350 F

Cook 6 oz of green noodles in 3 quarts rapidly boiling water with one tablespoon of salt for 8 minutes. Drain, rinse with hot water and empty into a shallow baking dish. (I use two small ones). Toss with two tablespoons of butter and the cream sauce.

 

On the top arrange slightly overlapping thin slices of prosciutto ham. You’ll use about a 1/4 lb in all. Sprinkle with a 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese and two tablespoons of melted butter.

Bake in the moderate oven for 10 minutes and serve with additional freshly grated Parmesan. 

River's Impossible Brunch Burger - For those days when you don’t want instant oatmeal!

Nothing tricky here - but a girl has to eat. I use The Impossible Burger. Now you stack that on Guacamole, add a slice of cheese on a Brioche Bun. Top the whole thing with a fried egg (as you like it). You should be good for the day!

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Vegetarian Cottage Pie
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You'll need :

  • 1 lb Impossible Burger 

  • One cup cooked French lentils. They're very tiny.

  • 1/2 cup portobello mushroom condensed soup This gives you the gravy that kind of makes it work all the better.

  • Chopped carrots, celery cauliflower potato vegetables of your choice about a cup

  • Mashed potatoes or mashed cauliflower

  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

 

While I make this in a crockpot. It can be made in a deep saute pan or an electric frying pan. The crockpot gives you a better binding.

 

Brown the burger and add a small amount of the portobello mushroom soup.

Add the lentils 

Add salt, pepper,  and spices to taste. (I use garlic and onion powder,  red pepper)

 

In a separate pot make your mash potato or mashed cauliflower. (you can use instant if you are short on time and there is frozen cauliflower) 

 

In about 3 hours allowing the flavours to blend, move the meat mixture to individual chafing dishes, top with cheese and the mash.  Put the individual portions under the broiler until the mash is lightly browned.

 

(alternate method) add the cheese to the bottom of the crockpot. When cool release into a large flat dish and top with the mash, You can then slice and serve in sections. 

You can also serve the portobello mushroom soup as a gravy. 

Dan Dan Noodles - chopped style

Dan Dan noodles are a favorite of mine, so I looked at dozens of recipes and what was in the pantry. So what we have is a dish that is mostly “accurate” and mostly what was “in the basket” as they would say on “Chopped” 

 

You will need :

 

Ground meat - I used pork but I could have used Impossible Burger as well

 

Udon Noodles 

Soy Sauce

Rice Wine

Su Mi Ya (Available through Amazon or Asian Markets)

Chinese 5 Spice

Chinese Chili Oil (Sesame Chili Oil) 

Red Pepper flakes 

Minced Garlic

Chopped Onion

Sesame Paste (Not Tahini)** (I used natural almond butter)

Fresh Bok Choy or spinach


 

**A note about Sesame paste. Traditional Chinese Sesame paste and it makes the sauce creamier. You can find it on-line or in an Asian market. So if you don’t want to purchase it (because you really want the noodles now!) blend a few teaspoons of soy sauce with natural peanut butter and some sesame oil mixed in. 

 

How to assemble the Dan Dan noodles 

 

Cook the noodles (follow directions on the package) and set them aside

 

Mix the sauce:, chili oil, soy sauce, and peanut butter until smooth

 

Brown the meat very well, add the minced garlic (to your taste), onions, sesame chili oil, and red pepper flakes. 

 

Blanch the vegetables (use can use the boiled water from the noodles for this) 

 

Remember this is “street food” so make it your own. 

 

Place the noodles into a bowl and top with meat, and then add sauce. 

To serve family style put the meat and the sauce in separate bowls as well as assorted toppings (crushed peanuts, blanched vegetables) serve the noodles and let everyone top their own

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Valentines Dinner for two! 
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Capellini Checca

 

Three tomatoes * see note on tomatoes below

Two cloves of garlic

 garlic powder

Olive oil

Fresh basil finely chopped

Crispy onions

Sun-dried tomatoes

Sea salt

Red peppers

Parsley

Rosemary

Sage

The last seven can be found in a seasoning called soffritto which can be found at trader Joe's or you can make yourself it will take longer

 

Well the capellini is cooking and remember angel hair cooks very fast. Put olive oil into your frying pan or sauté pan and add the tomato mixture, drain your pasta when it's at al dente and spoon the topping on top and toss it well .

Serve with a caesar salad and some garlic toast, a glass of red wine if you drink and for dessert you'll get tiramisu that recipe follows.

 

*a note about tomatoes - Many tomatoes are overly large and lack flavor. I recommend the Villa Marzano plum tomatoes - they are firm and have great flavor. If not available fresh firm tomatoes from the local farmers market are the next best thing.

 

Tiramisu (from Sophia Loren’s instructions)

 

For 8 servings

 

You need :

3 eggs (separated )

5 tablespoons of sugar

6 oz of mascarpone cheese

1 to 2  packages of Lady Fingers

1 cup of marsala wine (sweet)

1 cup of espresso

2 oz of bitter chocolate (grated)

Scant 1/2 cup of cocoa powder

 

 

Combine the egg yokes and the sugar in a medium bowl and beat them well.

In a larger bowl whip the egg whites till stiff white peaks form.

Impossible Wellington

I love Beef Wellington, but it doesn’t love me. This is my redo using Impossible Burger and other yummy things like mushrooms. Give it a try. Serve it with a nice side salad 

The Impossible Wellington 

Serves 4 

1 lb Impossible Burger

I bag pre-cooked mushrooms finely chopped - or you can saute your own. 

1/2 onion finely chopped 

2 cloves garlic finely minced 

Salt and pepper to taste 

A dash of smoked paprika 

1Tbs. Worcestershire Sauce 

I package of Crescent roll dough or puff pastry 

Mix the mushrooms, burger, onions, garlic, paprika and Worcestershire sauce together, form into small patties and pre-cook.

Meanwhile, on a lightly floured work surface, separate dough into 2 rectangles; firmly press perforations to seal. Roll out each rectangle into 5 1/2-inch squares. With 1 1/2- to 2-inch heart-shaped cutter, cut 2 heart shapes from 2 corners of each dough square; set hearts aside. 

Place 1 pattie in the center of 1 dough square. Fold opposite corners up and around pattie ; repeat with remaining 2 corners. Smooth and shape dough to encase pattie; place seam side down on cookie sheet. 

In a small bowl, beat an egg and water well with a fork or whisk. Lightly brush the top and sides of dough with egg mixture. Place 2 dough hearts on top of each overlapping slightly; lightly brush hearts with egg mixture.Repeat with remaining steak and dough square.

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Impossible lasagna
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I am lucky to have a large flat crock-pot/frying pan that allows me to do a standard size lasagna, so with that in mind I give you Impossible(TM) Lasagna

You will need : 

1 package of precooked Lasagna Noodles 

1 lb impossible burger

2 cups frozen chopped spinach

1 package sliced mushrooms 

16 oz of Ricotta Cheese

1 mozzarella cheese log 

32 oz of marinara sauce 

 

In a saute pan cook the Impossible burger and chopped spinach, season with a blend of crispy onions, sun-dried tomatoes, sea salt, garlic, red peppers, parsley, rosemary and sage. 

Spray the ceramic crockpot with cooking spray and layer one layer of noodles. 

Follow with marinara sauce

Add a layer of the burger/spinach mixture, and cover with ricotta cheese

Add another layer of noodles, burger spinach mixture, add a layer of mushrooms 

Add another layer of noodles, marinara sauce, burger, spinach mixture, a layer of ricotta cheese. Again add the noodles, cover with Marinara and top with the mozzarella 

 

Cook for 3 hours at low temp (200-250F)or until a knife goes smoothly thru. 

Salisbury steak and scalloped potatoes

Every so often you want some old fashioned comfort food like Salisbury steak and maybe some scalloped potatoes. Just the thing on a rainy night.

Since I use Impossible Burger(TM) we’ll call this Impossible comfort food.

 

You’re going to need: For the steak 1/2 an onion finely grated(or chopped) 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs 1lb (500 kg) impossible burger 1 clove of minced garlic 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce 1 tsp beef bouillon powder or one cube crumbled 3 tsp dijon mustard For the mushroom gravy 1 tbsp Olive oil 2 cloves of garlic 1/2 onion chopped 5 oz/150 grams mushrooms sliced 2 tbsp unsalted butter 3 tbsp flour 2 cups beef broth 2 tsp dijon mustard 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce Salt and pepper to taste To prepare the steaks Place the breadcrumbs in a bowl. Grate the onion over the breadcrumbs. Mix with fingers, and leave to soak for a few minutes. Add remaining Salisbury Steak ingredients into the large bowl. Use your hands to mix until just combined. Mix well for a while until the mixture becomes a bit "pasty" which will ensure your patties hold together well. Divide into 5 and pat firmly into oval patties around 3/4" inch thick Brown the patties on both sides and remove Add a little oil to the skillet and add the mushrooms, when they are golden add the unsalted butter When the butter is melted, whisk in the flour, a small amount at a time until you have a smooth roux. Now gradually add the beef broth, it will thicken as it cooks. Add the other ingredients and let it simmer for about 3 minutes. Add the patties back in to finish cooking - 2 minutes or so. Plate and cover with Gravy.

 

The side dish - scalloped potatoes for two(

note - this takes forever in a toaster oven - but I found a way around that)

 

You need 2 large potatoes (Yukon Gold is the best) 3 tsp of flour 2 tsp unsalted butter 1/2 cup of cheese (cheddar or Monterey Jack are both fine) Salt and pepper Thinly slice the potatoes, in a food processor may help. The thinner the better. Make a roux (butter and flour mixed with milk until creamy) SLOWLY add the cheese and continue to stir. Layer the potatoes in your dish and pour in a layer of the sauce. Repeat with the second layer of potatoes and sauce - sprinkle with extra cheese and salt and pepper Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. (River’s trick) You can microwave the dish for 20 minutes before putting it into a toaster oven. This will make sure the potatoes are soft. If you have a real oven this is not needed

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Super  Crepe Casserole
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This is an undertaking but it's not hard. I did the fillings the day before and the crepes the next day. I also only made 1/2 the recipe. Full size it would serve all Sweeties faces - well 12 of them

 

Things you need: 4 chicken breasts (boned) boit them and cut them into very small pieces.

 for the cheese sauce: 5 TBSP of Flour

                                        2.25 cups of boiling water

                                        4 TBSP butter

                                         .25 cups cream

                                         1 cup grated Swiss cheese.

 Makes about 4 cups

*note I used Jack cheese and added some red pepper flakes because I am not a fan of bland sauces

Filling number one: 2 packages of chopped frozen spinach

                                   2 green onions chopped 

                                   1/2 cup of the cheese sauce                                                   (from above)

Filling number two: 1 1/2 TBSP butter

                                   1/2 pound mushrooms sliced

                                      1 green onion chopped 

                                       2 - 8 ounce packages of cream cheese 

                                       1/2 cup cheese sauce 

And now to the actual cooking 

FIRST MAKE THE CHEESE SAUCE

In a saucepan blend the flour and water a little at a time, add butter, heat and stir until smooth, add cream,  blend, then add the cheese, keep heating, and stir until smooth.

The spinach filling: Cook the spinach according to the package directions.Drain. In a small frying pan melt the butter, saute the green onion, and add to the spinach. Add 1/2 cup of cheese sauce. Set aside.

The mushroom filling: Melt the butter in the frying pan and saute the mushrooms and onion - in a pan heat the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese sauce and add the cream cheese heating until smooth - add the mushrooms and onion.

To make the Crepes - use a pancake or popover mix but add 3 eggs and 1 1/4 cup of milk, not what they tell you. Put 1 full Tbsp of butter in the pan and I/3 cup of the mix and rotate the pan so you get very thin pancakes (crepes). You should make 14 for the full size  - stack them on paper towels. (and it does take practice)

 

CREPES ASSEMBLE 

(it may or may not have occurred to you that everything "cooked" is done so since I made this in 2022, its different than when I made it in 1972)

There are two ways to finish this you can roll crepes with the different fillings and alternate them in your casserole dish OR you can layer them in the dish.

The layered version is what I made.

Line the bottom of the pan with  as many crepes to cover it

A layer of the spinach mixture/ crepe/layer of mushroom mixture/ layer of chicken/crepe  and repeat - you may need two casserole dishes 

Now everything is cooked so you can put it in the fridge. 

 

When you're ready to serve - if the serving dish is small enough - put it in the microwave for 20 minutes then run under the broiler with some cheese and butter on top for maybe 5 minutes - just to make it pretty.

 

Big casserole? Pop it in the oven for  30 minutes at 350 F degrees

Captain Jack's Hub Grub

River invited me to offer a quarterly segment to share the "finer gourmet" dishes from across the pond. I will be injecting some classic British sarcasm and can guarantee you won't want to miss out on these simple, carb-heavy, calorific snacks. If you're busy saving the world... or just cant be bothered.

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Crisp Sandwich (Potato chips for our Americans)

I thought we'd start strong! Ever had a long night and need something quick, easy and full of calories to drown out the self-loathing?  The Crisp Sandwich ladies and gentlemen... Yes, this is a real snack here in the UK. 

What you'll need: 

1. Butter (not margarine you heathen) 

2. A bag of crisps/ potato chips - Salt and vinegar is my recommendation

3. Thick sliced bread. 

Method: 

1. Butter both slices of bread. To stop your butter from ripping holes in the bread you can warm it up in the microwave or work it in the corner of the butter tub until it's malleable. 

2. Open crisps/ potato chips, whatever you call them. Sample one. Smile. Enjoy that moment. 

3. Layer crisps/ potato chips onto one slice of bread. Empty the rest of the crisps onto your plate - every good dish has a garnish, right? 

4. Place the other piece of bread on top, and squash the crisps in the sandwich. I don't make the rules... it's just a thing. 

5. Sit down and enjoy the torment of picking up the sandwich as the crisps fall out the arse of it. Replace crisps at your leisure. You are not allowed to cut the sandwich in half. 

6. I recommend a strong coffee with this, the pairing is divine. Beer works perfectly too. 

Have you tried any recipes? How did they go?