Thursday, June 30, 2011

Soba Noodles with Cabbage, Carrots, and Edamame

A summery, fresh, noodle dish with awesome, complete protein foods like buckwheat and edamame. And sriracha. Get your stir-fry on.

Total time (includes prep): about 40 minutes
Makes 4-6 servings

For Sauce:
1/3 C water
1/3 C tamari or light soy sauce
1 Tbsp honey or agave nectar
1-2 Tbsps Sriracha

For Stir-Fry:
2-3 scallions; white and pale green parts thinly sliced on a diagonal, green parts thinly sliced
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 Tbsp minced garlic
4 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on a diagonal
1 lb green cabbage, thinly sliced
¼ oz porcini mushrooms (about 4-5 pieces), rehydrated in a cup of hot water; mushrooms chopped and about ½ c soaking water reserved
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
9 oz soba noodles (I really like the ones pictured below)
1 ¼ C frozen shelled edamame
¼ C sesame seeds, toasted

Whisk together sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside with a spoon for adding to the stir-fry. (Alternatively, you could put the sauce in a squeeze bottle—squeeze bottles like those red plastic ketchup bottles are one of my favorite inexpensive kitchen tools.)

Bring a large pot of water to boil for the soba and edamame and once it’s boiling, generously season with salt.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the ginger, garlic, white and pale green parts of the scallions, and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring frequently. Add the carrots and continue to cook for a few minutes, or until the carrots just start to soften. Add the cabbage, rehydrated mushrooms, and squirt in a few tablespoons of the sauce. Stir everything together to coat it in sauce and cook for a minute or two. When you hear yummy sizzling sounds on the bottom of the pan (when the vegetables start to brown in the pan because of lack of liquid), add a few tablespoons of the mushroom water and stir.

While the vegetables get going, cook your noodles. Into the pot of boiling water, add the soba noodles and edamame (the noodles cook pretty quickly and you want them to be al dente because you’re going to add them to the stir-fry later). Boil for about 3 minutes and drain. Add the noodles and edamame to the stir fry, squirt a few more tablespoons of sauce on top and toss to coat. Divide between bowls for serving and top with green parts of the scallions and toasted sesame seeds.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Vegetable-Brown Rice Risotto

I wanted to experiment with making a brown rice risotto, but I knew that it would be difficult because it takes so much longer to break down the starches in brown rice, and hence you don't get creamy texture like you do with arborio rice. To help give it a creamy texture, I started with a vegetable pestata and added a lot more liquid that in a normal risotto. It was a lot of work and took a lot of patience, but the end result was creamy and super flavorful and yet incredibly healthy.

Makes 4-6 servings
Total Time: 1 hour

3 carrots, peeled, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 C sherry
4 C vegetable broth
2 C water
3-5 dried porcini mushrooms
1 C brown rice, rinsed
2 Tbsp Italian parsley, chopped
salt to taste

Combine the broth and water in a large saucepan and heat the liquid to keep it warm (but not simmering). Once warm, add the dried mushrooms and let steep for 25 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and chop finely.

Meanwhile, put the carrots and celery into a food processor and process to almost a paste. In a large heavy-bottomed skillet heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the pestata and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to brown. Add the shallot and garlic and cook until fragrant.

Add the rice and toast for a minute, stirring. Add the sherry and cook until almost all liquid is absorbed. Then add about 2 cups of the warm broth-water mixture. Bring to a boil, cover, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook for about 30 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed (the rice will not be fully-cooked).

Now for the fun part: raise add a ladle or two of broth to the rice at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition until the rice absorbs almost all of the liquid. Repeat over and over again until the rice is fully cooked and gets a creamy texture. This takes a long time so you have to have a bit of patience. Taste for seasonings and add more salt if necessary (depends on the saltiness of your broth).

Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley. Serve and enjoy the low-fat vegetable-y goodness!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Benjamin's Potato Salad

This all-American potato salad recipe is a reworking of a Gaskins family recipe (Ben Gaskins's grandmother's recipe, actually). We like using red potatoes for this, but feel free to use others varieties or a combination of potatoes. We learned from America's Test Kitchen that if you toss the cooked potatoes with a little light vinegar, they'll retain their flavor better after being boiled.

Active time: about 35-45 minutes, plus chilling time
Serves 12

3 lbs red potatoes, washed and scrubbed
1 Tbsp rice vinegar, or white vinegar
4 cold eggs
1/2 Vidalia onion, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
4-5 stalks celery, diced
1 C mayonnaise (I like using Kraft's olive oil mayo)
1/4 C sweet pickle relish
1 tsp mustard powder
1 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more for potatoes
freshly ground black pepper
pinch sugar, if needed

Peel about half of the potatoes (or all of them if you don't want any skins) and cut them into 1-inch size pieces. Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water by about two inches. Bring the water to a boil, season generously with salt, and boil the potatoes are just tender or a fork easily slides into a piece. (It's really important that the potatoes don't break apart at this stage; otherwise they won't hold together when tossed with the dressing.) Drain the cooked potatoes in a colander and let cool for a few minutes. Sprinkle the tablespoon of vinegar over the potatoes while they're still warm and toss gently. Let the potatoes cool to room temperature.

While the potatoes cool, you can cook the eggs, chop your vegetables, and make the dressing. For the eggs, have a large bowl of ice water handy next to the stove. In a pot, about 4 cups of water to boil. Using a slotted spoon or spider strainer, gently lower each cold egg into the boiling water. Boil uncovered for exactly 9 minutes. Remove each egg with the slotted spoon and gently lower into the bowl of ice water. You can leave these in the water until you're ready to assemble the salad.

In a large bowl (the bowl in which you want to serve the salad) combine the onions and celery. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, relish, mustard powder, herbs, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt, and black pepper. Taste the dressing and adjust for seasonings. If it seems like it's missing a little something, add the pinch of sugar and it will be perfect--I promise.

Once the potatoes have cooled and you're ready to assemble the salad, add the potatoes to the bowl with the vegetables. Remove the eggs from the water and peel them. Chop them into pieces and add to the large bowl. Toss everything together, the add the dressing and toss again. Chill for at least an hour before serving.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Jalapeño-Cheddar-Bacon Pops!

This extremely unhealthy appetizer was inspired by this post on The Kitchn. I used mascarpone instead of cream cheese because that's what I had on hand. I also added some extra cheesy goodness to the filling, and of course, peppers! This recipe can be played around with in so many ways. Please experiment and let me know about your own variations!

Total Time: about 30 minutes
Makes about 16 pops

8 slices bacon
1/4 C sliced almonds, toasted (or nuts of your choice)
2 Tbsp chopped thyme (or herbs of your choice)
4 oz goat cheese
3 oz mascarpone
1/4 C grated cheddar
1 jalapeño, chopped and seeded if you wish
freshly ground black pepper
lollipop sticks or wooden skewers

Cook the bacon until crispy--you can do this any way you wish; I like to put mine on a half sheet pan and cook in the oven at 400F. Whatever you do, save your bacon fat for a later use because there's just no sense in throwing out any of that greasy goodness. When the bacon is cooked, dot it with paper towels to remove extra grease and break it into pieces in a food processor. Add to the food processor the herbs and nuts and process until fine. Remove the bacon mixture from the processor bowl and set aside.

Add to the processor (you can clean it out if you want, but there's no need to) the cheeses, jalapeño, and black pepper. Process until well combined and the cheese are nice and creamy. Remove the bowl from the machine and take out the blade. Use a small ice cream scoop (aren't those great?) to create balls of cheesy filling, roll each ball in the bacon-herb-nut coating, and place on a cookie sheet or large plate.

At this point your pops will probably start to soften, so place the cookie sheet into the freezer for a few minutes before moving on. Once the pops are cold again, place a lollipop stick or skewer about half of the way through each ball. Place them back on the cookie sheet or plate and refrigerate until you're ready to serve.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Liz Remizowski's Lemonades

My friend Liz sent me these recipes for her delicious lemonade. Here are her notes: 

Most recipes call for lemon juice and simple syrup. I just make a lemon syrup. Skips a step and makes it more lemony. The blackberry lemonade is good as is, but of course you can add vodka and delicious things like that. I once used the regular lemonade as a base for an Arnold Palmer Sangria* (1 part lemonade, 1 part tea, 1 part white wine, add sliced orange, lemon, and lime, plus a bunch of blackberries and quartered strawberries, refrigerate for a few hours before serving) and it's friggin delicious.

*I got the idea from a Bobby Flay recipe but I made it better.


Ice cubes (from filtered water, preferably)
Filtered water
(amounts given in recipe are approximate)

Squeeze the lemons through a fine wire mesh strainer into a glass measuring cup. See how much juice you have: Pour it, and an equal amount of sugar, into a small saucepan, stir (silicone spatulas are great), and bring to a simmer. (For reference: four lemons usually yield about a cup of juice.) Once all the sugar dissolves and it starts to bubble, remove from the heat and let it sit a few minutes.

Pour the syrup into the container you're going to serve it in, preferably glass. Add ice cubes a few at a time and stir (switch to a wooden spoon), letting them mostly dissolve until you add more. This both cools the syrup and dilutes it. (4 lemons and a cup of sugar usually take about a tray of ice cubes.) Once they've stopped visibly dissolving, dilute the whole mess by half (or a little more, if you like it less strong) with filtered water. If you happen to have willpower and don't drink everything immediately, refrigerate - and cover the pitcher with plastic wrap so it doesn't start tasting like last week's Chinese take-out.


Ice Cubes
Filtered Water
(amounts, again, are approximate)

Squeeze the lemons straight into a measuring cup - skip the strainer. Pour that and an equal amount of sugar into a saucepan along with a bunch of (washed) blackberries. (Assuming 4 lemons/1C sugar, probably a pint of berries.) Bring it all to a simmer. After a few minutes, when the berries start to turn pink, mash them with the back of your spatula. Once all the berries are mashed, remove from the heat and let cool a few minutes.

Set a fine wire mesh strainer over a glass Pyrex measuring cup (4C size), or something similar. Pour the berry syrup mixture through the strainer in batches, scraping the pulp against the mesh to extract all the juices. (Discard pulp and seeds between batches of syrup - there will be quite a bit, and it will clog the strainer.) Once it's all strained, repeat as above - move to pitcher, add ice, dissolve, dilute.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Blueberry-Strawberry Muffins

I used fresh berries for these but I'm sure you can use frozen ones too, as long as they're thawed and drained well. I know some people don't like to bake with strawberries because they get a little squidgy, but I've never minded the texture change, and you shouldn't either.

Total time: 30 minutes
Makes 12 regular muffins

Butter for greasing pan
2 C all-purpose flour
1/4 C sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 C butter, melted and cooled
1 C milk, at room temperature
1 egg, beaten lightly
3/4 total berries; if using strawberries, hull and dice them
turbinado sugar, for topping (optional)

Generously butter a 12-muffin pan and preheat the oven to 425F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the fruit. In a separate bowl combine the  melted butter, milk, and egg. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Using a wooden spoon, combine until just moistened.

Divide batter into the muffin pan, filling each cup about 2/3 of the way full (a large ice cream scoop is an awesome tool for this). Sprinkle a little turbinado sugar, if using, on top of each muffin. Bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until the tops are puffed and golden brown. Cool the pan in a cooling rack for 5 minutes before removing the muffins from the tin. Eat them all at once, and take a giant nap.