Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spinach Salad with Prosciutto, Asparagus, and Sherry-Roasted Tomatoes

I served this with a dressing made of non-fat Greek yogurt and grapeseed oil, but a nice vinaigrette would be wonderful too. I've included two dressing recipes below.

Total Time: 40 minutes
Makes 2 salads

Ingredients for salad:
1 lb Roma tomatoes, quartered
1/2 lb asparagus, ends trimmed and stalks cut in half
2 slices prosciutto, torn to pieces
4 oz fresh spinach leaves
1/4 C dry sherry
2 Tbsp olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat over to 400F. In a medium bowl, toss the tomatoes with sherry and olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside while making your dressing and blanching the asparagus.

Bowl a large pot of water, season generously with salt, and blanch the asparagus stalks. With a spider strainer, transfer asparagus to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Set aside until ready to assemble salad.

Pour the tomatoes and and leftover liquid onto a baking sheet at roast for about 30 minutes, or until the skin bubble and being to brown, stirring halfway through cooking time.

Split the spinach leaves between two large salad bowls, and top with the roasted tomatoes, and asparagus. Sprinkle with pieces of prosciutto, and drizzle with the dressing of your choice.

Greek yogurt dressing:
1/4 C Greek yogurt (I used FAGE 0% Total)
3 Tbsp grapeseed oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried Italian herb mix (or a combination of oregano, basil, thyme)
freshly ground black pepper, to tast
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp water

Whisk together all ingredients until combined.

Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette:
1/2 C olive oil
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp water

Whisk together all ingredients but the olive oil. Add the oil in a slow stream, whisking constantly.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cheddar and Leek Risotto

Total Time: 40 minutes
Makes 4-6 servings

4 leeks, trimmed, rinsed, and sliced into 1/2 thick slices
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, stem removed (and seeded, if you wish), finely chopped
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 C arborio rice
2 C low-sodium chicken broth
2 1/2 C water
More water (if necessary)
1/2 C white wine
6 oz good quality cheddar, grated (I used Kerrygold Reserve Cheddar)
freshly ground black pepper

Combine the broth and water in a saucepan and keep warm on a burner. The liquid needs to be warm when added to the risotto.

In a very large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the leeks, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender. Add the garlic and pepper and cook until the garlic is fragrant. Add the rice and 3 cups of the broth/water mixture.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice has absorbed almost all of the liquid.

Add the wine and stir until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed. Continue this procedure with a single ladle of broth/water at a time, stirring frequently upon each addition, for about about 10 minutes. The rice should be just tender and creamy looking. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the grated cheese.  Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spicy Shrimp Salad with Ginger-Garlic Dressing

Here’s a light, refreshing salad for the beginning of spring! You can prepare the vegetables while the shrimp is sitting in the dressing. If it’s more convenient, all of the ingredients can be prepared ahead of time, stored in the refrigerator, and then assembled right before serving. 

Total Time: under 30 minutes (includes prep time)
Makes 2 servings


For the salad:
½ lb shrimp, cooked and peeled
4 oz rice noodles
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
½ grated cucumber
1 C shredded Napa cabbage

Sauce for shrimp/dressing:
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
3 Tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp Sriracha or other chili paste, or to taste
Juice from 1 lime
1 tsp sugar
¼ C Water

Whisk together ingredients for dressing. Toss shrimp with 3 Tbsp of dressing in a separate bowl and set the shrimp and the remainder dressing aside while preparing the vegetables.

Boil a large pot of water for the rice noodles. Generously salt the water, add the noodles, and cook until tender. Strain and set aside.

To plate, split the shredded cabbage between plates, top with rice noodles, bell pepper, shrimp, and grated cucumber. Top with remaining dressing, or pass a bowl of it around the table.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Guava-Greek Yogurt Drink

I don't know about you, but I definitely have love affair with Greek yogurt--in particular, FAGE yogurt. I made this with the FAGE Total 0% yogurt which, I happily discovered, is selling for only $2.50/lb at my local Costco. I normally like fat a bit of fat in my yogurt products (after all, fat brings out flavors in lots of foods), but even this fat-free tub is so delightfully creamy and delicious that I don't miss the fat at all. I would probably eat a whole tub by itself, but this drink is a nice accompaniment to meals with spicy foods, a refreshing breakfast milkshake, or a cool, simple dessert.

Total Time: 1-2 minutes
Makes about 16 oz

8-9 oz Greek yogurt
6 oz Guava nectar
1 ½ oz pineapple juice
1 Tbsp honey (or more, if you want it sweeter)

Whisk all ingredients in a bowl, or blend in a blender. Pour into glasses and garnish as desired (the photo to the left shows a small serving garnished with a mint sprig).

Monday, March 21, 2011

Fresh Spring Rolls with Spicy Tofu, Carrots, Cabbage, and Basil with a Peanut Dipping Sauce

Total Time: about 30-40 minutes, depending on how awesome you are at rolling spring rolls (I am not awesome at this so it took me a bit longer). 
Makes 6 spring rolls 


Rice Paper Rolls:
1/2 lb extra firm tofu, drained and weighted to press out excess moisture
¼ C soy sauce
2 tsp Sriracha, or to taste
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
freshly ground black pepper
about 1 C shredded Napa cabbage (ribs removed)
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
6-12 basil leaves (1 per roll, or more if they’re small)
6 rice paper wrappers, plus a few extra, in case some tear

Dipping sauce:
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp Sesame oil
1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp creamy peanut butter
½ tsp hot red pepper flakes
1/3-1/4 C water

Pat the tofu dry and cut into 2 ½ by ½-inch sticks. Combine in a bowl with soy sauce, Sriracha, and freshly ground black pepper. Let marinate at room temperature for 15-20 minutes. (You can let the tofu marinate while you chop the vegetables and such.)

In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and fry, stirring occasionally, until the tofu is well browned on all sides. Transfer the tofu to a paper-towel lined plate to catch excess liquid. Set aside.

Moisten a rice paper wrapper (until pliable but still a bit tacky) and lay flat on a cutting board, countertop, or plate (here are some great directions for wetting and rolling the wrappers). Place some shredded cabbage in the center of the wrapper toward the edge closest to you. Top with some carrot matchsticks, a few pieces of tofu, and a basil leaf or two. Roll the bottom of the rice paper wrapper over the filling and turn over a single 180-degree turn. Fold over the sides of the wrapper, then continue to roll up the spring roll. Set on a serving plate. Continue with the remaining 5 rolls and set aside while you make the dipping sauce (These can be made a day ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. Bring to room temperature before eating.)

For the sauce:
In a small skillet over medium heat, heat the sesame oil, then add the shallot and garlic and cook until softened. Transfer the shallot, garlic, and any leftover oil to a medium bowl. Add the hoisin sauce, peanut butter, red pepper flakes, and enough water to make as thin or thick of a sauce as you’d like. Whisk all ingredients together and dip away!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Moroccan Chicken with Raisins and Toasted Almonds

This dish was inspired by this Joanne Weir recipe. I served this over some whole-wheat couscous, with this Roasted Carrot Puree as a side. The raisins add a really subtle sweetness to the sauce, but you could also substitute dried apricots, dates, pears, currents or whatever you'd like.

Total time: about an hour and 15 min.
Makes 4 servings

4 chicken bone-in, skin-on thighs
kosher salt
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, peeled and cut into quarters
2 cinnamon sticks, about 3 inches a piece
1 ½ tsps ground ginger
1 tsp crushed black peppercorns
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp helba (a.k.a ground fenugreek—can be found at Indian groceries)
¼ tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
3 garlic cloves, smashed
2 C low-sodium chicken broth
1 C water
1 lemon, cut in half
½ C golden raisins
¼ C slivered almonds, toasted

Couscous or orzo, as base (optional)
Roasted Carrot Puree, as side dish

Pat the chicken thighs with paper towels and sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt. Heat the olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown on both sides, about 8 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions to the pot, cooking and stirring occasionally until the onions have browned slightly. Add the cinnamon sticks, ginger, crushed peppercorns, cumin seeds, helba, paprika, cayenne, bay leaf, and smashed garlic. Stir the spices around until fragrant, about 1 minute. Increase the heat to high, add the broth, water and the juice from half of the lemon. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until onions have softened, about 8 minutes.

Return the chicken thighs to the pan, placing them on top of the onions. Bring the liquid back to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. While the chicken is cooking, make the couscous or orzo, if serving.

Remove the chicken to a clean platter and loosely tent with foil. Using a large fine-mesh strainer, strain the juices in a large bowl or measuring cup. Discard the cinnamon sticks and bay leaf, then cover the onions-garlic mixture to keep warm while finishing the sauce. Return the strained juices back to the pot, add the raisins and remaining juice from the lemon, and boil over high heat until the sauce has thickened.

To serve, plate a helping roasted carrot puree, and a helping of couscous or orzo (if using). Top the cousous/pasta with the onion-garlic mixture, then top with the chicken. Drizzle with the sauce and enjoy!

Roasted Carrot Puree

I made this to go with this Moroccan Chicken with Raisins and Toasted Almonds. The puree is so simple and fast and it's another great way to consume this sweet little root vegetable.

Total Time: about 30 minutes
Makes 4 side dish servings


2 lbs carrots
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp crushed black peppercorns
¼ tsp smoked paprika
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp whole milk, or cream

Special equipment: immersion blender, stand blender, food processor, or a potato ricer

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Wash and peel the carrots and cut them into 1 ½-inch pieces, making sure the pieces are about the same thickness. In a large bowl, toss the carrots with the remaining ingredients, making sure they are well coated with the oil and seasonings. Transfer to a half sheet pan and roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the carrots are very tender, stirring the carrots halfway through cooking time. Transfer the carrots to a bowl, and the milk or cream, and puree using your method of choice, or mash using a potato ricer, stirring in the milk or cream to combine.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Browned-Butter Cardamom Cookies

This recipe is adapted from a Land O Lakes. Here's the original recipe--I added cinnamon to mine, changed the amount of flour added, and chose a different method for coating the cookies in confectioners' sugar. I highly suggest grinding your own cardamom because it seriously improves the flavor, but if you already have a bottle of ground cardamom, use that.

Adapted from Land O Lakes
Total Time: about 45 minutes
Makes about 48 cookies

1 C unsalted butter (2 sticks)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg yolk
1 Tbsp vanilla (I know, it seems like a lot but it tastes wonderful)
3/4 tsp freshly ground cardamom, plus 1/4 tsp ground cardamom for dusting
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 3/4 C plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 C confectioners' sugar

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stirring quite frequently, cook until the butter begins to turn a gold color and the milk fats begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and bring to room temperature (or place in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes).

Preheat oven to 350F. In a stand mixer, mix the granulated sugar and butter until combined. Add the egg yolk, vanilla, cardamom, and cinnamon and mix to combine. (Alternatively, mix those ingredients in a large mixing bowl by hand.) Gradually add the flour and stir until just combined.

With your hands, shape the dough into 1-inch balls (this is a fairly dry dough). Place the cookie balls onto cookie sheets prepared with parchment paper and bake until cookies turn a light golden brown color, about 10-12 minutes. It would be best if the cookie sheets only had rims on two sides--you're going to slide these cookies off of the pan while they're still quite warm.

While the cookies bake, mix the 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom. Remove the cookies from the oven and very gently slide the sheets of parchment with the cookies onto cooking racks. Let cool for a few minutes.

Place the confectioners' sugar-cardamom mixture in a fine mesh strainer and gently tap the sides of the strainer over the cookies to dust them with the topping. Finish cooling, then eat them all with a cup of coffee.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Guinness-Braised Beef Over Egg Noodles

I'm not sure that there's much to say about this recipe other than what's in the title itself. Slow-cooked beef in awesome juice is what it is. You don't have to serve this over egg noodles. Serve over some rice, or slap some of this meat between slices of French bread and dip it in the sauce.

Total Time: 30 minutes prep plus cooking time (9-10 hours on low, or 6-7 hours on high)
Makes 4-6 servings

Ready for beer and broth!
3 lb boneless beef pot roast, tied with kitchen twine
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb onions, chopped roughly
1 lb carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
¼ tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 C sherry
12 oz Guinness
12 oz low-sodium beef broth
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
4 thyme springs
2 bay leaves
1 tsp salt
¾ lb egg noodles
2 Tbsp butter

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the beef on all sides, then transfer to the slow-cooker.

To the leftover oil in the skillet, add the onions and carrots, salt, freshly ground pepper, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about 20 seconds. Deglaze with the pan with the sherry, scraping up any brown bits. Let the sherry cook until the liquid reduces by about half, then add the vegetables to the slow-cooker.

Add the Guinness, broth, thyme, cocoa, teaspoon salt, and bay leaves to slow-cooker; cook for 9-10 hours on low, or 6-7 hours on high.

When almost ready to eat, transfer the roast to cutting board and loosely tent with foil while preparing egg noodles and sauce. Cook the eggs noodles according to package directions, drain, then toss with the 2 tablespoons of butter. Scoop a helping of pasta into 4-6 large shallow bowls.

Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs from the braising liquid and puree the juices and vegetables with an immersion blender (or transfer to a stand blender in batches).

Slice beef in ½-inch thick slices, arranging over the egg noodles, then pour the sauce on top.

Serve with a Guinness. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

My new favorite way to eat eggs

I'm slowly cooking my way through Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table; you might have seen a few mentions of it around here. In her recipe for Bacon and Eggs and Asparagus Salad, she talks about a wonderful technique for extra flavorful soft-boiled eggs. The salad, of course, is great. How could you go wrong with those ingredients over a bed of nice greens? But these eggs are something special--slightly gooey yolks plus the smokiness of bacon fat, and sweetness of toasted nuts make a delightfully easy and gourmet topping to your salad, piece of toast, or whatever you wish.

Basically, soft-boil a few eggs and peel them. Toast some nuts in a dry skillet or oven and finely chop them. I've used pecans and hazelnuts because that's what I've had in my pantry lately, but I'm sure pistachios, pine nuts, walnuts, or whatever your heart desires will be an equally wonderful combination. Melt a pat of bacon fat in a small pan over medium-low heat. Gently roll the peeled soft-boiled eggs around in the bacon fat and then roll them in the chopped nuts.

That's it. Totally easy, right? It would probably be a bad move for my cholesterol to eat these everyday, but I've definitely considered it. The first time I made these I put it over some spinach leaves that I had sprinkled with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar; I love the way the soft yolks mix in with the dressing. So go ahead and give it a try... this may become your favorite way to eat eggs, too.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tomato, Fontina, and Caramelized Onion Tart

I love savory tarts. Creamy fontina, sweet caramelized onions, and fresh thyme--what more could you ask for? (I guess a bottle of wine would also be nice.) Definitely make your own pastry for the tart. It's really quick and easy with a food processor and you can let it chill while you're preparing the other ingredients. This is basically my go-to recipe for pies and tarts (and tartlets), but feel free to use another you like.

Total Time: about 1.5 hours
Makes one 9-inch tart


For pastry:
5 oz all-purpose flour
1 stick (1/2 C) butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
3 Tbsp ice water

For the filling:
1 lb Spanish onions, sliced very thinly
1 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp leaves from a few sprigs of fresh thyme
4 oz fontina, crumbled or cut into small cubes plus
2 oz manchego, grated (or just 6 oz fontina)
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
freshly ground black pepper

In a food processor, pulse the flour, salt, and sugar until combined. Scatter the pieces of butter over the flour mixture, add a tablespoon of ice water, and process until it forms a dough, adding the other tablespoons of water as needed. Take the dough out from the food processor bowl, roll into a ball, and pat down into a 5-inch disk. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least thirty minutes while you start the filling of the tart.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and melt the butter. Slowly cook the onions over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the onions have caramelized (about 30-40 minutes). Add the thyme, stir to combine, and remove from the heat.

Place a baking stone in the oven on the middle rack and preheat the oven to 425F.

After dough has chilled, remove the disk from the refrigerator and roll out into a 12-inch circle. Gently roll up your dough around the rolling pin and unroll over a 9-inch tart pan. Press the dough into the edge of the tart pan and press the rolling pan over the top edge to cut off the extra dough. Freeze the dough in the pan for about 10 minutes. With a ford, prick all over the bottom of the dough to keep it from puffing up, or weight the dough with dried beans in some foil or your pie weight of choice. Bake on the heated baking stone for about 15 minutes, or until the dough begins to brown. Reduce the heat to 375F.

Remove the dough from the oven and spread the caramelized onions on the bottom. Top with the crumbled and grated cheeses, then place the tomato halves around the tart, cut side down. Return the tart to the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the tomatoes are bubbly and the cheese is beginning to brown. Let sit for about 8 minutes before cutting and serving.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Apple, Gruyère, and Sage Bread

This quick bread was inspired by Dorie Greenspan's Savory Cheese and Chive Bread from her recent book Around My French Table. I made this as a birthday bread for myself (I don’t like most cakes and I feel better about consuming by myself a loaf of bread rather than a cake). Once it cools, I'm opening up a bottle of Beaujolais-villages, making a nice spinach salad with soft-boiled eggs, and eating this bread, toasted and smeared with a dab of butter. I don’t know about you, but in my book that totally beats a conventional birthday cake. 

Total Time: about an hour, plus more for cooling
Makes 1 loaf

4 oz coarsely grated gruyère (about a cup), plus 2 oz gruyère cut into 1/4-inch cubes (about 1/2 a cup)
1-2 applea, peeled, cored removed, and cut into small pieces (about 1 cup total)—I used organic Fuji 
1 Tbsp butter, plus extra for greasing pan
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 C minced fresh sage
1 3/4 C all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the over to 350F and grease a 9x5 loaf pan with butter (or butter wrappers). Melt the tablespoon of butter in a medium skillet. Add the apple and pinch of nutmeg and cooking, stirring occasionally, until the apple has softened, about 6-7 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and pepper. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until foamy (about a minute), then whisk in the milk and olive oil. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until the dough just comes together (do not over-mix or the dough will become very tough). Gently stir in the cheese, apples, and sage and transfer to the loaf pan, spreading evenly with the back of a spoon—the dough will be very sticky. 

Bake for about 35 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Rotate the pan half-way through cooking time to ensure equal browning on the top of the loaf. Cool in the loaf pan on a wire rack for about five minutes, then remove the bread from the pan and let cool completely on the rack. 

If you don’t eat this all in one sitting, store the bread by covering tightly in plastic wrap. It should be good for two days at room temperature, or a few months if kept in a freezer.