May 31, 2004
hummus with ground lamb and pinenuts

A few weeks ago I picked up the cookbook by Moro - a restaurant in London that serves Spanish, Morrocan, and other Moorish food. The hummus and lamb recipe went over incredibly well at a recent dinner party. The touch of cinnamon on the lamb reallly tied the dish together - I was surprised at how the dish melded.

(The cookbook is British - I've left the units as the original, but noted the American equivalents.)

200 g (7 oz) chickpeas, soaked overnight with apinch of bicarbonate of soda (I used canned chickpeas instead.)
6 tbsp of olive oil
1/2 large Spanish onion, diced finely
1/3 tsp ground cinnamon
juice of 1 lemon
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste with salt
3-4 tbsp tanihi paste
170g (6 oz) lamb, minced
2 tbsp pinenuts, lightly toasted
1 medium bunch flat leaf pasley
a sprinkling of paprika
salt & pepper

Rince the chicpeas under cold water, then place in a large saucepan. Fill with 2L of cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, skimming off any scum as it bnuilds up. Cook for 1.5-2 hours, or until the skins are tender. Remove from heat, pour off excess liquid until level with the chickpeas, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat half the olive oil over low to medium heat and fry the onion, stirring occasionally, until golden and sweet. Remove from heat and add the cinnamon.

To make the hummus, drain the chickpeas, keeping aside the cooking liquid. Blend in a food processor with a little of the cooking liquid. When smooth, add the lemon juice, garlic, tahini, and the rest of the olive oil. Add salt and ppper, and some more liquid if necessary. Taste for seasoning and spread the hummus on a plate.

Place a frying pan over high heat. When hot, add the carmelized onion and its oil, and then the lamb. Break up the lamb as it cooks. Season with salt and pepper. When the lamb begins to crisp, add the pinenuts and transfer immediately to the hummus. Serve with parsley leaves and paprica sprinkled on top, and plenty of flatbread or pita.

Posted by shock on May 31, 2004
May 26, 2004
Asian Chicken Rice Noodle Salad

Rice noodles work when neither rice nor pasta will. A good rice noodle dish can often be served cool or at room temperature, and can carry a light zesty flavor while still being hearty and satisfying.

This recipe is from Food & Wine, and it's a great as a dinner for a crowd or a week's worth of lunches.

Asian Chicken Rice Noodle Salad

1 chicken breast (around 12 oz of meat)
8 oz rice noodles (a)

1 1/2 Tbl ginger, chopped
2 Thai chiles or 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 lg scallion, chopped
1 clove garlic, smashed
3 Tbl fish sauce
2 T lime juice
1 T sugar

2 carrots, shredded
6 lg radishes, sliced
1/3 cup cilantro, torn
1/3 cut mint, torn
1/2 cup peanuts, chopped

1. Roast chicken breast, and remove and chop meat. I usually just grab a whole breast and roast it at 425 or 450.

2. Cook noodles in boiling water, drain and cool.

3. In food processor or blender, combine garlic, ginger, chiles, and scallion. Finely chop.

4. Add fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar, and puree.

5. Mix noodles, veggies, herbs, chicken, and dressing. Top with peanuts.

Serves: 6-8.

Patrick's notes:

(a) Either pad thai noodles or rice stick noodles can be used. I use rice stick noodles with fine results.

(b) The chicken is of course optional. If you wanted to go all veggie, you could replace the fish sauce with a splash of soy sauce and maybe a touch of vinegar.

WW info: 12 pts chicken + 12 pts noodles + 4 pts peanuts + 1 pt sugar + 1 pt carrots / 6 servings = 5 pts per serving.

Posted by patrick on May 26, 2004
Massaman Chicken

Now that I've made my pretty brown batch of Massaman curry paste, what do I with it? Here's an idea: let's make a curry out of it!

Massaman Chicken

1 recipe Massaman Curry Paste
12 oz chicken breast meat, chopped
1 Tbl peanut oil
1 lg onion, diced
3 med. carrots, sliced
1 cup coconut milk.
2 sticks cinnamon
1/2 cup peanuts, roughly chopped
(optional) 3 Tbl fish sauce

1. Heat oil in a wok or large pan. Add chicken & onion, saute until chicken is about to brown.

2. Add carrots, saute 2 minutes.

3. Add paste, saute 1 minute.

4. Add coconut milk, cinnamon sticks, peanuts, fish sauce. Simmer 5 mins, until chicken is cooked and flavors are mingled.

Makes: 6 servings.

Patrick's Notes:

(a) You can do more simmering time and less sauteing time if you wish for further flavor mixing. As written, the chicken stays tender and the carrots crisp-tender, but the flavors still have time to mingle.

(b) For a veggie version, replace the chicken with cauliflower and/or tofu, and add in step 2.

WW info: 12pts chicken + 8 pts peanuts + 10 pts cocomilk / 6 servings = 5 pts/serving.

Posted by patrick on May 26, 2004
Massaman Curry Paste

I like my food spicy. I'm the guy who'll eat the pepper on a dare, or apply lots of Tabasco to each individual bite of food. I like to think of my tolerance as above average, say 85th percentile or so among my cohort.

But really, Thai curry pastes simply blow me away. By the time I've reached a satisfactory level of flavor, the food is all but bursting into flames. The spiciness seems way out of balance to the rest of the flavor. So time to roll up my sleeves and make my own.

My first attempt: Massaman curry paste, which is difficult to buy pre-made in any case and has a lot of bonus uniqueness.

Massaman Curry Paste

10-12 dried red peppers (a)
1 1/2 tsp cumin seed (b)
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp turmeric
pinch of cloves
1/2 cup minced shallots
1/3 cup minced garlic
1 tsp sea salt
3 Tbl lemongrass, sliced thin (c)
2 Tbl minced ginger
(optional) 1 tsp shrimp paste (d)

1. Soak peppers in enough warm water to cover, for at least 30 minutes; I find it helps to reheat the water every so often. Remove, seed, and chop the peppers while reserving the liquid.

2. Put next 8 ingredients (the spices) in a processor or blender.

3. Cook shallots and garlic in a little oil in a pan over medium heat, until just starting to brown. Add to processor.

4. Put lemongrass, ginger, and salt in a pestle and pound to a paste. Add to processor.

5. If using shrimp paste, add to processor.

6. Puree the mixture, using 6-8 Tbl of the reserved liquid.

Makes: about 1 cup.

Among the many things you can make with this is Massaman Chicken

Patrick's notes:

a) This makes a paste that's about mild-medium spicy, so adjust the amount of peppers accordingly. The original recipe called for 3oz. of dried peppers, which is, in my opinion, lacking in sanity. The dried peppers I used are usually sold in bags next to the dried cornhusks and such. The bags are 1oz each. If someone does wind up using three whole bags of dried peppers to make this, please let me know what you think.

b) Using whole cumin, cardamom, and coriander adds a bit of depth. Toast the whole spices in a pan first, then ground them in a spice mill, or just be lazy and toss 'em straight in.

c) Lemongrass may not seem very paste-able if you've never tried it. I find it helps to use the less fibrous portion. Cut off the thickest portion of the stalk at the bottom and the thin part at the top. Using a paring knife, split off the outer layer. Slice the inner core very thin, and use the more green slices as opposed to the reddish ones which tend to be tougher. Then pound pound pound! The salt helps the paste form.

d) I have not tried this with the shrimp paste. It's a pretty full-flavored paste already, so I don't think you're losing much if you leave it out.

Posted by patrick on May 26, 2004
May 16, 2004
mother's day brunch, 2004

Last year, after making brunch for Mom Bornschlegel & Andrea, we went out on a walk and participated in an activity which became our regular Sunday Pursuit for the next 4 months.

This year, we gleefully invited them back - this time to have brunch in the house we bought after they launched our search last year. The springtime produce really does make this time of year a wonderful time to brunch.

Our menu:
Fraise Royale
Cherry chocolate scones & apricot ginger scones
Salmon, yukon gold, asparagus & fava bean has with hollandaise Jackie's way
Asian pears

For the Fraise Royale:
Hull a pint of strawberries. Puree & force through a chinois or fine mesh strainer. Add sugar to taste.
In a cocktail shaker, add a tablespoon or so of strawberry puree for each cup of champagne. Strain into champagne flutes, and top with a tiny float of Grand Marnier.

For the salmon hash:
I used small yukon golds, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks. I roasted the potatoes and the salmon (adding the salmon when the potatoes were about half-done) at 400 degrees on a silpat over a cookie sheet. While roasting, shuck, blanch, and shell the fava beans, and cook them briefly in water and butter on the stove. Pan sear the asparagus (which i cut on the bias).

Toss all the tasty cooked ingredients gently on a platter, sprinkle sea salt over, and top with champagne hollandaise.

(Jackie, the Saturday bartender at Foreign Cinema told me to try hollandaise sauce with champagne in place of the water - I highly recommend it, now!)

Posted by shock on May 16, 2004
May 09, 2004
salmon seared with Moroccan spicy crust

Made this from the weight-watchers "great cooking every day" cook book...oh bliss...

Salmon seared with Moroccan spicy crust
Broccoli-Potato Puree
App: Tortilla chips w/Ceyenned Hummus
Red Wine (Firefly)

The seared salmon comes with a browned/candied pearl onion garnish, the most labor-intensive portion of the recipe, but when you pop dem suckers into your mouth you forget about it. We sat on the living room floor to watch the DVD of Kill Bill as I popped one. My eyes closed, and I might have moaned. I tasted the onion everywhere, between the tree...the rock... I was caught off guard. I opened my eyes to see Duane gazing at me with an open-mouthed expression somewhere between awe and jealousy. Kind of like he wished he were a candied peal onion at that moment ;) Make em, double the garnish recipee even if you only "like" onions. Trust me. The drool factor is high.

Seared Salmon with a Moroccan Spicy Crust
makes 4 servings
5 points per serving
263 calories, 9 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 66 mg cholesterol, 189 mg sodium, 17 g total carbohydrate, 4 g dietary fiber, 28 g protein, 62 mg calcium

12-16 pearl onions
1 1/2 tsp unsalted butter
3/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
1 1/2 tsp anise seeds
1 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1 lb salmon fillet, cut into 4 pieces
1 cup cooked green (French) lentils
1 small head frisée (curly endive), rinsed and torn

1. Fill a medium saucepan with enough water to cover the onions and bring to a boil. Add the onions; simmer, covered, 3-4 minutes. Drain. When cool enough to handle, cut off the roots and peel away the tough skins.

2. Melt the butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat, then add the onions. Cook, turning often, until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add the sugar and cook, stirring, until the onions are glazed, about 5 minutes. Add the salt and pepper and keep warm.

3. Combine the curry powder, coriander, cumin, caraway, anise, and peppercorns in a small bowl. Coarsely grind the mixture in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Rub both sides of each salmon piece with a generous amount of the spice mixture.

4. Spray a large nonstick skillet with nonstick spray and set over high heat. Add the salmon and cook, turning once, until the fish is browned on the outside and opaque in the center, about 4 minutes per side.

5. Divide and arrange the lentils on each of 4 plates. Place the salmon in the middle of the lentils and garnish with the glazed onions and frisée.

Posted by adam on May 09, 2004
May 01, 2004
chocolate cherry scones

The Cheese Board is a Berkeley institution - they have amazing cheese, a great bakery, and are a worker-owned collective. This recipe is an adaptation of The Cheese Board's chocolate chip scones. If you (much like me) are a cook who toys with baking, I'd highly recommend their cookbook, The Cheese Board: Collective Works. It's a great read, and the recipes haven't let me down yet. I'm giving you the stand-mixer version of the recipe; I've made scones both ways, and I think the stand mixer gives better results than my hand-mixing. (Thank you, Miss Naomi. We do understand, don't we?)

Makes 10-12 scones.
3.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
3/4 cup + 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup 70% Scharffenberger, chopped roughly. Pieces should be no bigger than large peas. (Or sub the good-quality chocolate of your choice. I've used Callebaut and Valrhona before, to good effect.)
3/4 cup dried cherries
3/4 cup heavy cream (I usually use soy creamer)
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet or two with parchment paper or a silpat.

Sift the flower, baking soda, and baking powder together into the bowl of a stand mixer.

Add the salt & 3/4 cup sugar to the bowl and mix with the paddle attachment on low speed until combined. Add the butter and cut it in on low speed for about 4 minutes, or until it is the size of small peas. Mix in the chocolate and cherries. Make a well in the center and add the cream and buttermilk. Mix briefly, just until the ingredients come together; some loose flour should remain at the bottom of the bowl.

Gently shape the dough into balls about 2 1/4 inches in diameter. They should have a rough, rocky exterior. Place them on the prepared pan about 2 inches apart.

Sprinkle the 1/4 cup of sugar on top of the scones. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Posted by shock on May 01, 2004