Friday, July 22, 2011

Linguine with Fried Fennel

Most of my posts are recipes for multiple people or servings, but this is a dish you can whip up in no time that just serves one. It's so quick and easy you could even make it on your lunch break and still have time to wash dishes.

Don't be put off by the anchovies. They're often used like in Italian cooking. Think of them as a type of seasoning--you won't even notice a fishy taste. They give the sauce a little richness and salt but won't overpower your fennel and herbs.

Total Time: 15-20 minutes
Makes 1 serving

1/2 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2 tsp flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 C olive oil
4 oz dried linguine
1 Tbsp butter
2 anchovy fillets, packed in olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/8 C grated Parmesan cheese
2 basil leaves, torn, for garnish

Bring water for pasta to boil in a pot. Generously season with salt and add the pasta. Cook until just al dente and drain.

While the pasta is cooking, fry the fennel. Heat 1/4 cup oil in a saucepan over medium high heat. Toss the fennel slices with the flour to coat. Add the fennel pieces in a single layer to the hot oil and fry, turning with tongs, until the fennel is slightly browned and tender. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.

In the pot in which you cooked the pasta, put back on medium-low heat and add the butter to melt. Add the minced garlic and anchovies and cook, stirring, until the anchovies dissolve into the butter. Add the drained pasta, stir to coat, and remove from the heat. Top with the fried fennel, torn basil, and grated Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

See this recipe and others at:
Kitchen Geekery

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Curried Coconut Lentils

I made this to get rid of some leftover fridge and pantry ingredients, but it's definitely going to become a part of the regular meal rotation. This curry can work as a side dish or a main dish--it's pretty hearty especially when served over rice. Don't use canned tomatoes for this; the breaking down of fresh tomatoes is an essential part of flavor development here.

Total time: about an hour
Makes 6 servings

1 large onion, very finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp curry powder
4 green cardamom pods
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp dry mustard
½ tsp cayenne
½ tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp ground allspice
2 ½ C light vegetable broth
½ C water
1¼ C brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
4 carrots, diced
1 C diced tomatoes
½ C frozen green peas
7 oz coconut milk (about half of a can)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large skillet heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger, season with salt, and cook until the onions soften, stirring frequently so the garlic does not brown. Add all of the spices and cook, still stirring, until they are quite fragrant and toasted. Add the tomatoes, season with salt, and cook until they break down completely and the liquid in the pan has evaporated.

Now add the broth, water, and lentils, cover the pan and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes, then add the carrots. Remove the lid and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the carrots and lentils are tender and there is just a bit of liquid left in the pan. Add the frozen peas and coconut milk, season with salt and pepper to taste, and simmer for 7-8 minutes as the flavors blend. Serve by itself or over rice.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Braised Chicken Legs and Vegetables in Beer

These roasted chicken leg quarters couldn't be any easier. Just throw everything in the pot, stick it in the oven and go get some laundry done, read a book, or pack some boxes (okay, so maybe not that last bit--I still have a lot to get done before August!). I suggest pairing this with the beer with which you cook.

Makes 6 servings
Active time: about 30 minutes (includes vegetable prep)
Total time: 2 hours

3 chicken leg quarters, skin on
1 1/2 lbs potatoes, washed, peeled, and cut into 1-inch cubes
4-5 carrots, peeled and chopped into 2-inch pieces
1/2 fennel bulb, chopped
1 large onion, peeled and quartered (root end left in tack)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 sprigs rosemary
1 2-inch stick cinnamon
2 bay leaves
2 tsp kosher salt
2 C light chicken or vegetable stock
12 oz ale (I used an amber ale)
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 325F.

In a very large Dutch oven or stock pot, add the potatoes, then the chopped fennel, the onion, garlic cloves, rosemary, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, and 1 tsp kosher salt (or a bit less, depending on the saltiness of your stock).

Season the chicken leg quarters generously with the rest of the salt and add them on top of the vegetables, skin side up. Pour in the stock and beer, add some freshly ground pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes.

Transfer the pot to the oven (still uncovered) and cook for 30 minutes. Remove the pot from the oven and spoon some of the braising liquid over the top of the chicken legs. Cover the pot with foil and put back in the oven for another 30 minutes (the foil will help keep the chicken from browning too much).

Remove the foil from the pot, spoon some more braising liquid over the chicken and return to the oven again for 30 minutes. After this final cooking stage, your vegetables should be very tender and the chicken will be falling off the bone.

Remove the cinnamon stick, rosemary stems, and bay leaves. Transfer the chicken to a plate or cutting board and let rest while you plate the dish. You can plate this a couple of ways. If you're having company and want to be all fancy, transfer the vegetables to a large platter or bowl, leaving the liquid in the pot. Pile the chicken pieces on top and keep warm in a 200F oven. If you don't want to serve the chicken legs whole (or mostly whole), transfer them to a cutting board and pull the chicken from the bone (your hands are awesome tools for this if the chicken is cool enough--otherwise just use a fork). Plate the vegetables, still leaving the liquid in the pot, and pile the shredded chicken on top. Keep warm in a 200F oven while you reduce the braising liquid.

With the leftover liquid, bring to a boil and simmer until reduced by a third or so. Spoon the gravy over the chicken and vegetables and serve!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Blueberry-Black Peppercorn Infused Vodka

This was awesome mixed with a bit of ginger-lime simple syrup (recipe posted below). This is best served chilled, but I would store your finished bottle at room temperature so the flavors get a chance to mature.

Day 4: ready to strain!

2 pints fresh blueberries, washed
1 tsp good quality black peppercorns, crushed a bit with mortar and pestle
750 ml vodka

Special Equipment:
a very large jar with lid and ring, or 2-3 smaller quart jars
cheesecloth or coffee filter

Day 1 of infusion
Put your blueberries in the very large jar or divide between smaller jars. With the back of a spoon, crush the berries against the glass so they start to release juice. Add the crushed peppercorns and vodka. Secure with the lid(s) and let sit in a dark place for 4 days, giving it a gentle shake once a day.

Put the strainer into the bottle in which you'd like to store your infused vodka (the original vodka bottle or some decorative one will do, as long as the top or cap closes securely). Place a folded piece of cheesecloth in the strainer (this is to catch the pepper chunks). Poor the infused vodka through the strainer, pressing the berries down to release any extra vodka they absorbed. Enjoy!

Ginger-Lime Simple Syrup
1-inch piece ginger, cut into chunks (no need to peel)
1/2 lime, cut into pieces
1 C sugar
1 C water

Place all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, or until sugar has dissolved. Strain into a bowl or jar and store in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Zucchini and Yellow Squash Tart with Feta and Caramelized Onions

We ate this as a main dish, but it would make a wonderful appetizer or side dish. It's good warm and at room temperature. If you're serving it to guests, you can make this a few hours ahead--after the tart has cooled, store it, covered, at room temperature until you're ready to serve or reheat it in the oven. Once you refrigerate it, the crust will begin to get a little soggy.

Makes one 9-inch tart

Total Time: about an hour and a half

1 recipe pâte brisée, or your favorite pie/tart dough recipe (you can see mine here), chilled
9-10 oz zucchini, ends trimmed, sliced into 1/8-inch slices
9-10 oz yellow squash, ends trimmed, sliced into 1/8-inch slices
1/2 C thinly sliced onion
1/4 C tomato sauce (try this one!)
1 clove garlic, minced
4 Tbsps extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil
2-3 oz feta, crumbled

Place a rack in the middle of the oven and place a baking stone on it. Preheat the over to 400F.

In a large bowl, combine the zucchini and yellow squash slices and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the salt, minced garlic, herbs, and black pepper to taste. Let sit while you prepare the dough and onions.

In a medium skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and caramelize the onions, stirring often, about 30 minutes. Remove pan from the heat and set aside.

Grease a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and place it over a sheet of parchment paper on a rimless baking sheet.

Once the dough is just warm enough to be rolled out, roll the dough into a 12- to 13-inch circle (about 1/8-inch thick) over a lightly floured surface. Gently roll the dough around your rolling pin and unroll over your prepared tart pan. Press the dough into the sides and bottom of the pan. Roll your rolling pin over the top of the pan to cut off the excess dough. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork about 10 times.

Spoon the tomato sauce around the bottom of the tart and smooth out with the back of a spoon. Scatter the caramelized onions over the sauce. Alternating zucchini and yellow squash, layer overlapping slices in concentric circles until the tart is filled. Place the pan in the oven on the baking stone and cook for 40-45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking time. The vegetables should be tender and starting to brown in spots. Remove from the oven and cook on a cooling rack for 5 minutes. Sprinkle on the feta crumbles, slide the tart with the parchment off of the pan and let the tart cool a bit more until you can remove it from the pan and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cherry-Apple-Rum Galette

This rustic tart is so easy to make, you'll never ever want to make a traditional cherry pie again. A pâte brisée is a versatile pastry dough with a high fat-to-flour ratio (read as: super flaky buttery awesome dough). You can easily double the dough recipe; after you remove it from the processor, just divide the dough in half, pat each into a 6-inch disk, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap, put one in a freezer bag, and store in the freezer for up to a month (just thaw on the counter before using).

Makes one 9-inch tart

2 C fresh pitted cherries (about 13 oz)
2 medium apples of choice, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices
3-4 Tbsps sugar (taste your cherries and adjust for sweetness)
1/4 C dark rum
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom (I ground my own, but if you have the pre-ground stuff you might want to add a bit more)
1/4 tsp salt
pinch freshly ground nutmeg

1 recipe for pâte brisée (see below), chilled

1 egg, lightly beaten (for egg wash)
1 Tbsp sugar

Put a baking stone in the oven on the middle rack and preheat the oven to 400F.

In a large saucepan, add the cherries, apple slices, and rum. Sprinkle with the sugar, cornstarch, and all spices and gently toss to coat the fruit. Heat over medium heat until some liquids release from the fruit and it starts to bubble. Once the the sauce has thickened, stir it again and remove from the heat to cool while you roll out the dough.

Cover a rimless cookie sheet with a sheet of parchment paper. Remove the pâte brisée from the refrigerator and rest on the counter 15-20 minutes before rolling. On a lightly-floured surface, roll out the dough into a 12-inch circle (about 1/8-inch thick). Put the dough circle on the prepared cookie sheet (I roll it up on the rolling pin and unroll it over the paper). Spoon the cherry-apple filling in the center of the dough and carefully spread to form a 9-inch circle.

Lightly brush some egg wash around the perimeter of the dough. Carefully lift up the sides of the dough and place over fruit, pinching pieces of overlapping dough together about every 4 inches, forming a border. Brush the top of the border with egg wash and sprinkle a little sugar over it. Place the cookie sheet on the baking stone in the oven and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until the pastry is nice and golden brown. Place pan on a cooling rack for 5 minutes. Then slide the pastry with the parchment from the pan and cool on the rack completely.

Pâte Brisée Recipe

1 1/4 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
2 Tbsps vodka
2 Tbsps cold water
ice cubes

Put the vodka and cold water in a measuring cup or small bowl and add the ice cubes to keep it cold. In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, and salt to combine. Add the cold butter pieces and give the mixture ten 1-second pulses (the mixture should resemble a course cornmeal). To the flour mixture in the processor, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the iced vodka/water mixture. Pulse the mixture again, adding a tablespoon of liquid at a time (don't feel the need to use the entire 1/4 cup of liquid), until a dough forms. Remove from the food process and form into a ball. Place the ball of dough on a sheet of plastic wrap, press it into a 6-inch disk, wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour or overnight (or freeze it if you're not going to use it in a day).

Pâte Brisée

For tarts, pies, or whatever your heart desires. Makes enough dough to one 9- or 10-inch pie/tart crust.

1 1/4 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
2 Tbsps vodka
2 Tbsps cold water
ice cubes

Put the vodka and cold water in a measuring cup or small bowl and add the ice cubes to keep it cold. In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, and salt to combine. Add the cold butter pieces and give the mixture ten 1-second pulses (the mixture should resemble a course cornmeal). To the flour mixture in the processor, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the iced vodka/water mixture. Pulse the mixture again, adding a tablespoon of liquid at a time (don't feel the need to use the entire 1/4 cup of liquid), until a dough forms. Remove from the food process and form into a ball. Place the ball of dough on a sheet of plastic wrap, press it into a 6-inch disk, wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour or overnight (or freeze it if you're not going to use it in a day). Can be frozen for up to a month. Thaw on the counter before rolling.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Turkey Salad with Avocados, Corn, Red Onion in Sriracha-Lime Dressing

You can use some cooked chicken instead of turkey here. I don't like the raw onion taste, so I soak the chopped onion pieces in a bit of cider vinegar before adding them to the salad. If you're in a serious grilling mood, you could grill the bird, red onion, and corn (in the husks) before making the salad. This would add a great smokey flavor.

Total Time: 10 minutes
Makes about 4 1/2 cups

12 oz (or a little over two cups) smoked, grilled, or roasted turkey breast, chopped
1/2 C chopped red onion (see note)
1 C cooked corn kernels
1 avocado, peeled and cut into cubes
freshly ground pepper
Juice from 1 lime
2 tsps Sriracha
2 Tbsps olive oil
handful of chopped parsley or cilantro (optional)

In a large bowl, combine the chopped turkey, red onion, corn, and avocado. In a separate small bowl, combine the lime juice, Sriracha, and olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the turkey mixture and gently toss to combine. Top with chopped herbs, if using. Serve by itself, in a wrap, or over a bed of lettuce.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Spaghetti with Roasted Garlic-Horseradish Cream Sauce and Steak au Poivre

This sounds like a pretty fancy dish, but it's ridiculously easy to prepare, and you will most likely have all these ingredients (except for the meat, of course) on hand. Note: this is not a healthy dish, and it shouldn't be. I mean, just look at the ingredients. You're salivating over creamy, meaty goodness, aren't you? Balance it out with lots of local fresh vegetables and do a few laps in the morning. You'll be very happy with it, I promise.

Total Time: about 45 minutes
Makes 4 servings

1 1/4-1 1/2 lbs boneless ribeye steaks (about 1-inch thick), cut into 4 equal pieces
12 oz dried spaghetti
2 C heavy cream
3 Tbsps prepared horseradish
1 small head garlic
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsps whole black peppercorns, or steak rub of choice (Penzey's Lemon Pepper seasoning is really nice)
2 Tbsps butter
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425F. Bring the steaks to room temperature while you prepare the other ingredients.

Roast your garlic: cut off the top of the garlic head so the tops of the cloves are exposed. Place the head on a sheet of foil, drizzle with the olive oil and a bit of kosher salt, and pinch the top of the foil closed. Place the garlic in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until the cloves are soft and mushy and awesome. Squeeze out the garlic cloves into a small bowl. Add the horseradish, and some salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, and stir to combine. Set aside.

Crush with a mortar and pestle (or heavy pan, or instrument of choice) the whole peppercorns. Season the steaks well with kosher salt and pat the crushed peppercorns on the tops and bottoms of the steaks.

Meanwhile, make your cream sauce: heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and reduce to a cup of liquid. Remove from the heat and add the roasted garlic mixture, stirring to combine. Taste for seasoning. Keep the sauce warm while you finish the dish.

While the cream's going, cook your steaks. Heat a 10- to 12-inch iron skillet over medium-high heat and melt the butter. Add your steaks and cook 3 minutes per side, or until an instant-read thermometer reads 130F for medium rare). Remove the steaks from the pan, cover loosely with foil, and leave them alone for at least 5 minutes to lock in all the juices. Then thinly slice the steak into 1/4-inch slices.

Bring a large part of water to boil and season generously with salt. Cook the spaghetti noodles until tender and drain. Combine the warm noodles with the sauce, plate, and top with slices of steak. End of salivation.