Friday, June 15, 2012

Zucchini and Shallot Bread with Aged Gouda and Cheddar

This recipe was inspired by and adapted from a Dorie Greenspan recipe from her book, Around My French Table. After the loaf is baked, it will be good for 2-3 days stored in an air-tight container at room temperature. I doubled her recipe, opting to freeze and reheat one of the loaves when I had guests over for breakfast. If you intend to freeze a loaf, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil; thaw it overnight in the refrigerator. The day-old bread is wonderful toasted.

Makes 2 loaves
Total Time: about an hour

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's "Savory Cheese and Chive Bread"

Ingredients:
  • 3 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp + 2 tsp baking powder
  • 5 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2/3 C whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2/3 C extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 heaping cup grated zucchini, well-drained (from about 2 medium zucchinis)
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 8 oz cheddar, grated
  • 4 oz aged gouda, grated
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • butter for greasing pans

Procedure:
Preheat the oven to 350F (175C) with a rack in the center of the oven. Grease the sides and bottom two 9x5 loaf pans with the butter. In a small skillet, add about 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and saute the shallot. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, freshly ground pepper, and baking powder. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Stir in the flour until just combined and fold in the graded cheeses, shallot, and zucchini (do not overmix).

Divide the dough between pans and bake for about 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a loaf comes out clean. Let cool on racks completely before serving.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Brussels Sprouts

These are great as a side dish or appetizer for a party. Try to get uniformly sized brussels sprouts, or at least fit similar sized ones on the same skewer to ensure even cooking. If you use wooden skewers, soak them in water before grilling. These reheat very well in the oven. I tossed them in a lightly greased baking dish and baked them for about 15 minutes at 400F (200C).


Total Time: about 40 minutes
Makes 16 brussels sprouts

Ingredients:

  • 16 brussels sprouts, tough outer leaves removed and woody stalks trimmed
  • 8 rashers of bacon, cut crosswise in half
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • salt
  • ice bath

Procedure:
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Season generously with salt. Add the brussels sprouts and cook for 5-8 minutes, depending on the size of your vegetables. You want them to be just a bit tender when squeezed. Transfer the brussels sprouts to an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Drain well.

Wrap a half-slice of bacon around each brussels sprout, securing the overlapping ends of the bacon as you slide it onto a skewer. You can probably fit 3-4 brussels sprouts onto each skewer. Position each so that the bacon-covered parts are all facing the same direction. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.

Meanwhile, preheat your grill over medium-high heat. Place the skewers on the grill, making sure the bacon makes contact with the grill grates. Grill 8-10 minutes per side, depending on the size of the sprouts, or until the bacon gets a bit crispy and the vegetables are cooked through.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mediterranean-Inspired Mac and Cheese



Total Time: about 30 minutes
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:
1 lb dried macaroni elbows
4 oz feta, crumbled
1 small red onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
12 oz canned tuna, packed in olive oil, drained
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp mustard powder
3 C skim milk
1 C half-and-half or cream
1/4 C basil leaves, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp chopped oregano
1 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more for pasta water
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Procedure:
Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta and season generously with salt. Cook the elbows until just al dente. Drain and keep warm while you make the sauce.

In the pasta pot, melt the butter over medium high heat and add the garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the red onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and cook, stirring frequently, until the flour has darkened. Add the milk slowly, whisking constantly so that the sauce won't become lumpy. Add the cream, mustard powder, and teaspoon of salt. Cook until the sauce has thickened, stirring frequently. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a wooden spoon. Add the feta, black pepper, oregano, red pepper flakes, and almost all of the basil (save a bit for a garnish). Stir until all of the cheese has melted, then taste for seasonings.

Add the pasta back to the pot, toss in the tuna, and stir together. Divide between bowls and garnish with the reserved basil leaves.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Spiced Quinoa Lettuce Wraps

I was browsing for some recipes other than green salads to show off some of the lettuce we're growing and I came across these quinoa lettuce cups from Aarti Sequeira. Though I changed the spices and dressing a bit, they were the inspiration for these delightfully sweet and incredibly healthy little wraps.


Total Time: about 30 minutes
Makes 8-10 wraps

Ingredients:
  • 1 C quinoa, rinsed very well
  • 1 1/2 C water
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-inch piece ginger root, minced
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 2 Tbsp tamari or low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp honey or agave nectar
  • 2 tsps fig balsamic vinegar (or balsamic vinegar of choice)
  • 1/4 C dried cranberries
  • kosher salt, to taste 
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
  • 8-10 large Bibb lettuce leaves 

Procedure:

In a medium sauce pan, add the quinoa and water. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the quinoa is fluffy and the germ is starting to show, about 18-20 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool a few minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium high heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, stirring frequently. Add the garam masala, turmeric, cumin, and red pepper flakes and toast until fragrant. Add the onions and carrots, season with a pinch of salt, and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the vegetable spice mixture to the quinoa and stir in the tamari, honey, vinegar, cranberries. Season with salt and black pepper to taste (I didn't end up needing to add any extra salt). Serve wrapped in lettuce leaves.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A more awesome BLT...

Bacon and avocados are meant to be together. And so are biscuits and bacon. And bacon and eggs. Alright, so bacon goes with damn near everything. But the combination of all these things and a bit of tomato make my favorite variation on a BLT (if you can even call it that). Slap it on a biscuit and it takes all my will power not to slather this sandwich over my face.



Makes 4 sandwiches
Total Time: less than 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 biscuits (try my own recipe!)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 avocado
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 4-8 slices of tomato, depending on your variety
  • freshly ground black pepper

Procedure:
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and fry the bacon until crispy. Lay the slices on a paper towel-lined plate while you prepare the eggs and the rest of the sandwich.

Slice the avocado in half and remove the pit. Scoop out the flesh and slice thinly. Cut the biscuits in half and top with the avocado slices, tomato slices and bacon.

Meanwhile, pour off all but a tablespoon of fat from the skillet. Heat over medium low and crack the eggs into the pan. Fry until the whites turn solid, cover, reduce the heat to low and cook until the egg yolks are the tiniest bit jiggly and a thin white film is starting to cover the yolks (for over-medium eggs). Remove from the heat immediately and transfer to your biscuit. Sprinkle with a little black pepper, if desired. Enjoy!

Note: If you don't like the deliciously gooey egg yolks which create their own dressing on your sandwich, feel free to fry them longer for over-hard eggs.

Buttery Biscuits

Biscuits are one of those simple baking recipes I have memorized. It's pretty handy to be able to whip these up in the morning for guests or a picnic without having to drag out a recipe book. Serve some of these up for brunch this weekend or alongside your fried chicken and greens.


Makes 6-8 biscuits
Total Time: about 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 10 oz (2 C) all-purpose flour
  • 4 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • pinch sugar
  • 1 C cream

Procedure:
Preheat the oven to 450F (230C) with a rack in the middle of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Work the cold butter into the flour mixture with your fingers or pastry blender (don't be too concerned with a few large chunks of butter in your dough--you'll just get yummy melty buttery bits in the finished product). Add just enough cream to form a dough and mix together with a fork or your hands.

Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured board and gently pat into a round disk a little over 1 inch high. It is very important here not to overwork the dough. With a 2 1/4- or 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter or ring mold, cut out the biscuits and place them on the prepared baking sheet so that their sides are touching. Collect the dough scraps and repeat the cutting process. After the second cutting process I usually only have enough dough to scrap together biscuit and it's usually a wonky shaped one (but still tastes just as good as the others).

Bake for 13-14 minutes, or until the tops have browned a bit. Let cool a few minutes before devouring.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Grilled Asparagus with Parsley Butter

It's grillin' weather. While you're cooking up some chicken or burgers, why not throw some tasty buttery vegetables on the grill? Make sure you don't use skinny stalks of asparagus; they will char up too quickly. Look for stalks about 1/2-inch thick.

I use a smaller grill grate laid perpendicular to the one on the grill so I don't worry about the asparagus falling through into the flames. It's definitely worth spending another $8 or so on an extra grate; they're handy for things like this, but you can also use it as an extra cooling rack, or on top of a baking sheet in the oven for making things like biscotti, chicken wings, etc.

This recipe will make extra herb butter. See my other note under the instructions for a suggestion of how to finish it (as if you needed ideas for using up butter).



Serves 2
Total Time: about 25-35 minutes (depending on how long it takes to heat your grill)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb asparagus, woody ends trimmed
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • pinch kosher salt

Procedure:
Heat your grill to medium-high heat. Lightly oil the grill grate.

Combine the butter, parsley, and salt in a bowl. Put the asparagus on the grill (see note above regarding the grates). Brush with a bit of the parsley butter and cook for about 2 minutes. Flip the spears over and brush with more butter; cook for another 2 minutes. Continue turning and basting with butter until the asparagus has browned a bit. Remove from the grill and serve!

BONUS: You might have some extra butter leftover. I did and used it up by brushing it over and grilling a few biscuits I had made that morning. I'm pretty sure that was one of the best ideas I've ever had. I'm sure the butter would also be heavenly over some grilled cornbread.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Linguine with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Roasted Garlic Sauce

This pasta would be a great accompaniment to grilled chicken or turkey, or serve as a vegetarian main dish with a side green salad.


Serves 4-6
Total Time: about 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb dried linguine
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 1 lb brussels sprouts, stems and outer leaves removed, halved
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 C low-sodium vegetable broth or chicken stock
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

Procedure:
Heat the oven to 400F (200C) with two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Cut the head of garlic in half across its equator, place on a sheet of aluminum foil, and drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt over it. Wrap the foil around the garlic head and roast in the oven on the lower rack for about 45 minutes, or until the cloves are extremely tender. Squeeze the cloves out of the papery skin and mash with a fork until you form a smooth paste. Set aside.

About 10 minutes before you take the garlic out, toss the brussels sprout halves with the two tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the leaves begin to brown. Set aside while you finish the pasta.

While the vegetables are roasting, bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta and salt generously. Add the linguine and cook until just al dente. Drain and keep warm while you make the sauce. Add the 2 tablespoons of butter to the pasta pot and melt over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, as the shallot becomes translucent. Add the roasted garlic paste and stir to combine. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until it forms a peanut-butter colored roux. Add the broth or stock and whisk until smooth. Cook until the sauce has thickened, then add the pasta and brussels sprouts, tossing to combine. Divide between bowls and serve.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Oatmeal Pancakes

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone! Whip up some of these hearty, oaty pancakes for your Saturday brunch and serve with an Irish coffee.


Makes 8-10 pancakes
Total Time: about 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 C plus 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 C oats
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1 Tbsp molasses
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 drops green food coloring (optional)
  • Butter for griddle or pan
  • Syrup, butter, powdered sugar, fruit, or whatever you'd like to top your pancakes

Procedure:

In a 2-cup measuring cup, heat the milk in the microwave for about 35-40 seconds, or until hot. Add the oats and let sit for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add to the cooled milk/oat mixture the egg, melted butter, molasses, and food coloring (if using) and stir to combine. Add the liquids to the flour mixture and fold together, gently. 

Preheat a griddle over medium-high heat and brush with a bit of butter. Drop small ladles, about 2 tablespoons each, onto the griddle and let cook until the tops of the pancakes bubble up. You will most likely have to cook to pancakes in batches. Flip over and cook the other side, transfer the cooked pancakes to a warm plate, and cover while you cook the next batch. Top as desired and enjoy!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Springy Sparkling Wine

A very refreshing drink for spring and summer. A perfect accompaniment for evenings on the porch and grilling.

Makes 1-ish drink (see proportions below)
Total Time: 1 minute


Ingredients:

  • 1 part sparkling wine
  • 1 part sauvignon blanc
  • 4-5 thin slices cucumber
  • 1 small lime wedge
  • a few ice cubes

Procedure:

Pour equal parts sparkling wine into glass. Top with the cucumber slices, lime, and ice cubes.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sticky Spicy Chicken Wings

Remember Sticky Spicy Sesame Chicken? I created a version for chicken wings. And they're amazing. I left out the sesame seeds because I thought they'd end up stuck to your face (but if you like that sort of thing, feel free to toss them on).


Makes 12 wing pieces
Total Time: about 40 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 6 whole chicken wings
  • vegetable or canola oil for pan
  • 1/4 C low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 3-4 Thai bird chiles, stemmed and minced, or to taste

Procedure:

Preheat the oven to 425F (220C) Rinse and pat the chicken wings dry and separate the wing tips, flats, and drumettes. Lightly oil a cookie sheet with the oil and place the wings on it. Roast for 17 minutes, flip the wings over, and cook for another 15-17 minutes, or until the wings are nicely browned and cooked through.

While the wings are cooking, make the sauce. In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, hoisin, vinegar, and chiles. A few minutes before the wings come out of the oven, heat a wok (or large skillet) over high heat. Transfer the wings to the dry wok, immediately coat with the sauce, and toss to coat. The sauce will begin to bubble and reduce; keep tossing the wings around as it becomes a beautiful sticky sauce and just a bit is left in the pan. Enjoy with plenty of napkins!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Cranberry-Thyme Mascarpone Dip

I made this for a little party we hosted and was shocked at how fast it was consumed. You can serve the dip as soon as you whip it up but if you have some time, chill it in the fridge for an hour before serving so the flavors can meld a bit. Serve with crackers or baguette slices. Once made it will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days (if you don't eat it all before then).


Makes about 2 cups
Total Time: 5 minutes (see note above)

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz mascarpone
  • 3/4 C fat free sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 C dried cranberries

Procedure:
Whip together the mascarpone and sour cream with the salt. Stir in the thyme, honey, and cranberries. That's it! (Have I written a recipe shorter than this one?)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Shaved Asparagus and Pear Salad with Creamy Gorgonzola Dressing



Makes 4 servings
Total Time: about 15 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 lb asparagus, washed well
  • 1 ripe pear (whatever variety you'd like)
  • 1/3 C heavy cream
  • 2 oz gorgonzola, crumbled

Procedure:
Heat the cream with most of the cheese crumbles (save a bit for garnishing the top of the salads) over medium-high heat. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the cheese has melted and the cream has thickened. (I don't add salt because I find that the cheese is salty enough in the cream, but if you need to add salt, do so here.) Take off the heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, cut of the tips of the asparagus and shave thin strips off of the stalks with a vegetable peeler or mandolin. Thinly slice the pear and it with the asparagus on plates. Pour the slightly warm cream over the salads and top with the reserved gorgonzola crumbles.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Campanelle with Salmon, Spinach, and Asparagus in Cream Sauce

Some of my favorite recipes come from plans to use up leftover ingredients in the fridge and pantry items. This dish started out just that way. I love the combinations of spinach with salmon and asparagus with salmon, so throwing those all in a pasta dish with a bit of cream and garlic seemed like perfect and comforting meal on a busy weeknight.


Makes 6 servings
Total Time: about 35 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb dried campanelle, or pasta of choice
  • 3/4 lb wild salmon filet, skin on
  • 1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut in half or thirds
  • 6 oz spinach leaves
  • 2-3 Tbsp sherry or white whine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/3 C cream or half-and-half
  • 1/4 C grated Pecorino Romano
  • salt and pepper

Procedure:
Season the salmon fillet with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat. Slide the salmon into the pan and brown each side until the fish it just cooked through (about 3-4 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of your fillet). Remove from the heat and transfer the salmon to a plate or cutting board. Remove the skin and flake apart the salmon. Set aside.

Boil a large pot of water for the pasta and asparagus and season the water generously with salt. Add the asparagus and blanch. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Add the pasta to the asparagus water and cook until just al dente. Drain and return to the pot and toss with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, the salmon, and asparagus.

Meanwhile, pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat left in the skillet. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the pan, heat over medium, and add the garlic, stirring and cooking until fragrant. Throw in a splash of the sherry or wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any brown fishy bits left behind. Cook for a minute or two until the alcohol has evaporated, then add the spinach leaves (in batches if necessary) and cook until wilted. Pour in the cream and increase the heat to bring the sauce to a simmer and thicken the cream. Once thickened, taste the sauce for seasonings and add salt and pepper as necessary. Pour the thickened sauce over the pasta and toss to combine. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

White Bean, Spinach, and Artichoke Dip

This version of spinach-artichoke dip is healthier and frankly, far tastier than its cream cheese-filled cousin. You can serve this chilled, at room temperature, or warmed. I spread it over these Parmesan-Peppercorn Biscotti from Gourmet.


Makes about 4 cups
Total Time: 20+ minutes, depending on serving temperature

Ingredients:
9 oz fresh spinach leaves
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 C finely diced onion
1 14-oz can white beans, drained and rinsed, or about 1 3/4 C cooked white beans
1/2 C good low-fat mayonnaise, store-bought or homemade
1/8 C grated Parmesan, plus more if serving hot
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 6-oz jar or can of artichoke hearts, drained, and cut into small-ish pieces
1/2 tsp cayenne
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Procedure:
Preheat the oven to 350F (175C) if you'd like to serve the dip warm.

Bring a large pot of water to boil for the spinach. Generously salt the water, then blanch the spinach leaves for a minute, or until wilted. Remove from the water and squeeze or press into a mesh strainer to remove as much liquid as possible. Add the spinach to a medium mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and cook the onion until translucent. Add the onion to the spinach.

In a food processor, pulse the white beans with the mayonnaise, cheese, garlic clove, and cayenne until very smooth. Taste for seasonings and then add as much salt and pepper as you need. (Definitely taste the puree before adding the salt because there will be salt coming from the beans, mayonnaise, and cheese.) Transfer the mixture to the bowl with the spinach and onions, add the artichokes, and stir to combine. If serving hot, add more grated cheese on the top and heat in the oven until warmed through and cheese begins to brown on top. If serving chilled, an hour or so in the fridge will do it. Enjoy!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Whole-Wheat Penne with Roasted Vegetables

The whole-wheat pasta stands up to the heartiness of the roasted vegetables in this easy pasta dish. Serve with garlic toasts and wine.


Makes 4-6 servings
Total Time: about 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb whole-wheat penne
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 large zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 medium red onion, peeled, root end left intact
  • 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms, cleaned and cut into 1/4-inch sliced
  • 6 oz canned or jarred artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more, as needed
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 oz grated Pecorino Romano

Procedure:
Preheat the oven to 425F (220C). Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta.

Cut the onion in half through the root, then slice each half into quarters. Place on a baking sheet along with the cherry tomato halves, zucchini, and garlic cloves (use two baking sheets in necessary). Toss the vegetables with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, red pepper flakes, and ground black pepper to taste. Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until brown in spots.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente and drain. Put pasta into a large serving bowl and keep warm (you can toss with a few drizzles of olive oil to keep the noodles from sticking to each other, if needed).

While the vegetables and pasta are cooking, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the butter over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and cook until the juices have evaporated and the mushrooms are beginning to brown. Remove the roasted garlic from their peels and add to the mushrooms, stirring to combine. Add the chopped artichoke hearts to warm. Transfer the mushroom mixture and any leftover fat to the pasta, along with the roasted vegetables and any leftover juices. Add the grated cheese and drizzle with a little extra olive oil, if you wish. Taste for seasonings and serve.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wasabi Tuna-Cucumber Rolls with Dipping Sauce

Makes about 10 rolls
Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 10 rice paper wrappers
  • 1/4 head of small green cabbage (about 7 oz)
  • Half of a medium cucumber
  • 2 cans tuna packed in olive oil, drained
  • 1/3 C mayonnaise
  • 1-2 tsp wasabi paste, or to taste
  • 2 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 C low sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1-2 thinly sliced chilies

Procedure:

In a small bowl combine the honey and soy sauce or tamari. Add the sliced chilies and set aside.

Thinly slice the cucumber half so that no pieces are longer than 3 inches. Thinly slice the cabbage crosswise. In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise, wasabi paste, and rice wine vinegar. Fold in the tuna.

Working with one roll at a time, wet the rice paper wrapper with a wet cloth or dip in a bowl of warm water until pliable and place on your work surface. Place a heaping tablespoon of the tuna mixture in the center and near the bottom third of the wrapper. Top with a few shreds of cabbage and a few slices of cucumber. Fold the bottom of the wrapper over the filling, then fold each side. Roll up the rest of the wrapper tightly, being careful not to tear the rice paper. Finish filling the remaining rolls and enjoy with the dipping sauce.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Meatballs in Red Wine Sauce

I make these meat "balls" as small patties so they I can get them nice and crispy on both sides without worrying about overcooking them. They stay moist for several reasons: the soaked bread crumbs, the large amount of eggs, and the quick braise at the end of cooking. Of course, all these things make them taste pretty luxurious too. I'm pretty sure you'll never go back to regular boring meatballs after making these.

I ground the meat myself, as you'll see in the instructions. If you'd rather not do that (though I highly recommend it), feel free to use pre-ground beef and pork.


Makes 4 servings (about 12 patties total)
Total Time: about 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb boneless round steak
  • 1/2 lb boneless pork shoulder meat
  • 3/4 C stale bread, cut into small cubes (get rid of any tough pieces of crust)
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 tsp thinly sliced basil
  • 1/4 C grated Parmesan
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 C red wine
  • 1 C beef stock

Procedure:

Cut the beef and pork into 1/2-inch cubes and place in a single on a sheet pan. Put in the freezer for 15 minutes, or until the cubes are solid but not completely frozen. Dump the meat into a food processor and pulse until ground.

Meanwhile, put the bread cubes in a small bowl and cover with the milk. Let soak for 10 minutes or so.

Transfer the meat into a large mixing bowl, along with the eggs, salt, pepper, herbs, cheese, and garlic. Squeeze out the milk from the bread cubs and crumble into the meat mixture. Save milk for another use (for cereal, a strata, etc.). With your hand, combine the meat mixture until all ingredients are well incorporated. Divide the mixture into twelve portions, shape into balls, and gently flatten into thick patties. As you finish shaping each patty, place on a large plate dusted with half of the flour. Sprinkle the other half of the flour on the top of the patties.

Heat the wine and stock in a large skillet over medium-high heat. The liquid should be simmering gently as you brown the meatballs.

In a separate large skillet melt the butter in the oil over high heat. Gently place 6 patties in the hot fat to brown (about 2-3 minutes per side). When browned but not completely cooked through, transfer the patties to the hot wine/stock. Braise for about 5 minutes, spooning the sauce over the meatballs as they cook. Transfer to a platter for serving. Repeat the browning and braising process with the remaining meatballs. If you'd like, you can reduce the sauce by turning up the heat and then spoon over the meatballs at the table.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Tofu Burgers with Cayenne-Black Pepper Aioli

The toasted spice rub used for the tofu here is the same as the one used in these grilled mangoes. Make sure you use a good quality bread that will hold up to the aioli, tofu, and whatever toppings you'd like. Wimpy, soggy bread makes a horrible sandwich.



Makes 2 servings
Total Time: about 15 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb firm tofu, drained and dried well
  • 1 1/2 tsp Toasted Spice Rub, recipe follows
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2 buns or slices of hearty bread
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 C light olive oil
  • 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Toppings:
  • Sliced tomato
  • Spinach leaves
  • Grilled onion

Procedure:
First, make the aioli. Crush and peel the garlic clove. Roughly chop the garlic, add the salt, and smush it with the flat side of the knife repeatedly to make a fine paste. Add the garlic paste to a medium bowl, along with the egg yolk, lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne. Whisk together. Slowly add the olive oil, first drop by drop, and then in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly so as to create an emulsion. Set aside while you cook the tofu. (If making the aioli ahead of time, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. It should last about a week in the refrigerator.)

Heat a large skillet (I used a cast-iron skillet) over high heat and brush with the tablespoon of canola oil. Cut the tofu into block or rounds that will fit nicely on your bread; the slices should be about 1/2-inch thick. (I had leftover tofu, but not enough to make another burger. I plan on using the extra scrambled up with an egg and some pesto.) Coat the large sides of each tofu slice with the toasted spice rub. When the pan is very hot, add the tofu and sear each side until brown and a bit crispy (about 2-3 minutes per side). Meanwhile, construct your burger with toppings of choice and the aioli. Add the tofu burgers and dig in!

For the Toasted Spice Rub:

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Procedure:
Toast the peppercorns, cumin seeds, and coriander seeds in a dry skillet, tossing or stirring frequently to keep from burning. Transfer to a spice grinder and add the red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and salt. Pulse the spices until finely ground. Store in a closed spice container.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Grilled Mango with Toasted Spice Rub

This dish is great by itself, served over ice cream, or on a bed of mixed greens. The recipe for the toasted spice rub makes more than needed for the mangoes. Store the extra in an empty spice container to sprinkle on fish or chicken, or add to a vinaigrette.


Makes 4 servings
Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1 1/2-inch strips
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Procedure:
Make the toasted spice rub. Toast the peppercorns, cumin seeds, and coriander seeds in a dry skillet, tossing or stirring frequently to keep from burning. Transfer to a spice grinder and add the red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and salt. Pulse the spices until finely ground.

Add 2 teaspoons of the spice mixture to the melted butter and stir to combine. Preheat the grill (or a grill pan) to medium-high heat. Brush the mango slices with the spiced butter and grill on each side until browned (3-4 minutes per side), basting with more butter as necessary. Serve warm.

Friday, January 20, 2012

My Version of Pimento Cheese

This probably shouldn't be called "pimento cheese" because it doesn't actually have any pimento peppers in it, but I don't know what else to call it. I used peppers I wanted to make it hot and damn tasty. Please adapt according to your taste. As a side note, I apparently can't say "pimento" without sounding like a true Southerner-- it always comes out as "pimmeno". However you say it, I hope you enjoy it.


Serves 8-10
Total Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz cheddar cheese, grated or cut into small pieces
  • 1 oz grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 jalapenos, stems removed, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 Thai bird chilies, stems removed, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 C mayonnaise
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 8-10 slices of bread

Procedure:
Combine the cayenne, peppers, garlic, and ground black pepper in a food processor and pulse until well combined and the peppers and garlic are finely chopped. Add the cheeses and mayonnaise and puree until smooth.

Spread on bread. Eat at room temperature or broil until the top browns a bit.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Red Lentil-Mushroom Burgers

I served these veggie burgers with baked turnip fries. The Sriracha mayonnaise is easy to make, and even tastier if you make your own mayonnaise. Just combine a tablespoon of Sriracha with a 1/4 cup of prepared mayonnaise. If using store-bought mayo, add a squeeze of lemon juice.


Makes 4-6 servings
Total Time: about 45 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 1 C red lentils
  • 2 C water
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 C Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
For serving:
  • 4 buns, split in half
  • sliced tomato
  • Sriracha mayonnaise
Procedure:
In a saucepan, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushroom and season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook until the mushroom begin to brown, add the shallot and thyme and cook until the shallot is softened. Add the lentils, water, freshly ground pepper to taste, and remaining teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the lentils are tender and the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat to cool.

While the lentil mixture cools, heat a 10- to 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Brush the skillet with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.

When the lentils have cooled, add the bread crumbs and egg. Stir to combine. Form the lentil mixture into 4-6 patties, depending on the size of your buns. Add the patties to the hot pan, and cook until the first sides are well-browned, about 4 minutes. Flip the patties over and brown the other side, another 4 minutes. Transfer to buns and serve with tomato slices and Sriracha mayonnaise.

Note: Turnip fries are better and tastier than regular french fries. And they're easy. Find the recipe here.

Turnip Fries

Makes 4 servings
Total Time: about 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb turnips, washed, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
Procedure:

Preheat the oven to 425F. On a half sheet pan, toss the turnip strips with the olive oil and seasonings. Lay out in a single layer and bake for 20 minutes. Toss the turnip fries to brown the other sides, rotate the pan and return to the oven for another 15 or so, or until the fries are well-browned.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sticky Spicy Sesame Chicken

This recipe is so ridiculously tasty and quick, you can easily whip it up on a busy weeknight. I have no idea how the typical American-Chinese take-out Sesame Chicken is made, but this is pretty damn good and frankly tastes far superior than any take-out I've had. Serve this with some brown rice and roasted broccoli or braised cabbage.


Makes 2-3 servings
Total Time: about 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1/4 C low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 3-4 Thai bird chiles, stemmed and minced
  • 1/4 C toasted sesame seeds

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces and brown, stirring occasionally. While the chicken is cooking, whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, hoisin sauce, vinegar, and chiles. When the chicken has browned, slowly add the sauce and stir, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Turn up the heat and reduce the sauce, stirring constantly until the chicken is well-coated and the sauce is sticky and very thick. Turn off the heat, add the sesame seeds, and stir to coat. Serve over rice.