broccoli mac and cheese gratin

Sorry, I got busy again, since the last time I posted. And I became a vegetarian! So I've been eating a lot more healthfully just by default, and yesterday I decided to whip up this cheesy-casserole-type-thing from the July 2007 Cooking Light so that I could have leftovers to last me all week. There's some nonsense about the broccoli in it being all good for me with its fiber, folate, and vitamin C. But really I just like it because it adds color. Also, I omitted the onion from my version.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cook 4 cups uncooked medium seashell pasta (about 12 ounces) in boiling water 8 minutes; add 6 cups broccoli florets (about 1 pound). Cook 3 minutes or until pasta is done. Drain.

Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 2 garlic cloves, minced, to pan; cook 45 seconds. Transfer garlic mixture to a small bowl; set aside.

Add 1 teaspoon olive oil to pan; stir in 1/3 cup finely chopped onion. Cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in 3 cups 1% low-fat milk. Lightly spoon 1/3 cup all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 ounces) into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine 3/4 cup 1% low-fat milk and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture to onion mixture. Return pan to medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a whisk; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly with a whisk. Remove from heat; stir in 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded fontina cheese and 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Asiago cheese, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper, and dash of ground nutmeg. Add pasta mixture to milk mixture, tossing gently to coat. Pour mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Combine garlic mixture and 2 (1-ounce) slices white bread in a food processor; pulse 15 times or until fine crumbs measure 1 cup. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over pasta mixture. Bake at 400 degrees for 18 minutes or until the top is brown. Yield: 8 servings.

Posted by astraea at 08:15 PM

gingerbread waffles

there are many folks out there who really like the flavor of gingerbread, and what better way to have than as a waffle for breakfast. my waffle iron is reversible, so i have the option of belgian or thin waffles. i made these with the thin iron and they were really good.

we had alot left over so i stuf them in the freezer and they toast up quickly as an addition to a bacon and egg breakfast or something to grab on the way to work.

Gingerbread Waffles

3 eggs separated (or egg substitute equivalent)
1 cup milk (or skim milk)
1/2 cup dark molasses
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1-3/4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 stick butter (or margarine) melted

Beat egg yolks with whisk and add milk, molasses and brown sugar. In a separate bowl sift flour, baking powder and spices. Add liquid ingredients to dry along with melted butter.

Beat egg whites (if using) until they form stiff peaks and fold into batter. Bake in a hot waffle iron.

Posted by karine at 03:35 PM

pumpkin ginger pancakes

it has been forever and a day since i last posted here. now it is time to do a little catching up, with the foods i have been making this winter. lets start with the pumpking ginger pancake, which is a real favorite at our house.

Pumpkin Ginger Pancakes

1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 t salt
2 T brown sugar
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t powdered ginger
1 egg
1/2 cup non-fat, plain yogurt
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
2 T butter, melted

Mix first 8 ingredients (all dry) in a large bowl.

In a second bowl mix all wet (last 5 ingredients).

Combine dry into wet slowly mixing until all ingredients are incorporated.

Spoon onto cooking surface, approximately 2 minutes; flip.

Cook an additional minute, transfer to serving plate.

Posted by karine at 12:27 PM

cannellini-stuffed portobello mushrooms

Not only am I back in the kitchen again, I'm holding salons again...and cooking for them again. Life has returned to normal. I picked this recipe from the Jan/Feb 2007 Cooking Light because it was a meatless dish that proved quick and easy to throw together tonight after work. The stuffing was awfully tasty, and I also made a tossed green salad to serve with.

Preheat broiler.

Remove gills from the undersides of 4 (4-inch) portobello caps using a spoon; discard gills. Place caps, smooth side up, on baking sheet coated with cooking spray; broil 2 minutes. Turn caps over; broil 2 minutes.

Combine 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed, stirring well. Spread 2 tablespoons cheese mixture in each cap. Spoon 3 tablespoons bottled pasta sauce over cheese mixture in each serving. Divide 1 (16-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained, evenly among caps; sprinkle each serving with 2 tablespoons preshredded part-skim mozzarella cheese. Broil 3 minutes or until cheese melts. Yield: 4 servings.

Posted by astraea at 12:53 AM

Dutch Oven Love: Bean and Smoked Chicken Soup

My winter philosophy: if we're going to heat with gas, I may as well use the oven. I have been improvising recipes with my cast iron 6 quart dutch oven. Today's rainy weather was a good excuse for a simmered bean soup, but it had to be pork-free, since I wanted to feed it to a friend who doesn't eat pork. Luckily, Magnani's Poultry in Berkeley has some excellent chicken options. They've recently started house-smoking all kinds of things, and the half smoked chicken and smoked duck and turkey sausages that I picked up on the weekend really made the dish.

This recipe is simmered in the oven, in a cast iron pot. I think it tastes better than stovetop simmering, but I could just be looking for excuses to use my Staub cocotte and run the stove for a few hours.

Naomi's Crazy Good Soup for Them as Don't Eat Pork
(improvised from Catt's Autumn Soup recipe)

2 c. mixed beans, picked over and presoaked (4-8 hours in water, or in the pressure cooker for 1 min)
3 tbsp olive oil
3 smoked duck and turkey sausages
6 large cloves garlic, minced

1 large onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 red peppers, chopped

12-16 oz can chopped tomatoes
1/2 smoked chicken
2 c. chicken broth
about 2 c. water

coarsely ground black pepper
rosemary, sage, chili flakes to taste

Place your dutch oven on medium-high heat. Slice the sausage into 1/4-in. pieces, and quarter the pieces. Heat the oil until it smells like olives. Add the sausages and saute them a minute or so, then add the garlic. Saute until the garlic smells like it's cooking. Add the onions, celery, and peppers and cook until onions are translucent. Cut the chicken into manageable pieces and add that to the pot, along with the pre-soaked beans, the tomatoes and their juice, and the chicken broth. Add 2 c of water, or however much water will fit in your pot. Add seasonings. Simmer for an hour or many, until the beans are cooked through and the soup tastes good. If you are using a cast iron dutch oven, you can simmer the soup by putting it in the oven at 325 or 350 and leaving it there -- the oven will heat the soup evenly from all sides, and the top of the soup will caramelize and become even tastier. (Not to mention the added benefit of heating the kitchen.)

When the soup is done, remove the chicken and pick the meat off the bones. Return the meat to the soup.

Posted by naomi at 08:13 AM

basic risotto with pressure cooker

I love my pressure cooker. Skeptics believe that you can't make anything tasty in it, because the pressure will break down any flavouring, but that's not exactly true: like anything else, you have to use the pressure cooker for what it is best at, and modify the plan accordingly.

One of the things the pressure cooker is best at is risotto. I love risotto, but I don't like the constant stirring. With the right proportions of rice to liquid, you can have your risotto cooked to perfection in 4 minutes (okay 10 if you include the initial and final fussing) and you don't have to stir except at the very end.

Basic pressure cooker risotto:

1 tbsp. butter or olive oil (or both!)
1 c. minced onions or leeks
1.5 c. arborio or carnaroli rice
1/2 c. dry white wine
4 c. chicken or veg broth


Heat the oil in the pressure cooker until it is foaming. Add your onions (or leeks) and cook them until they're slightly soft. Stir in the rice, making sure that all the grains of rice get evenly coated with oil. Add the wine and stir often until most of the wine is evaporated. Add the broth. Close the lid. Bring the pressure cooker to high pressure. Reduce the heat to keep the pressure on high and cook for 4 minutes longer. Put the pressure cooker under cold running water to reduce the pressure quickly, and open the lid. The risotto will look soupy, still. Add seasoning and any other ingredients. Boil the risotto over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes more, until the grains of rice are cooked just right and the risotto looks creamy and thick. Turn off the heat and stir in some cheese. Serve.

I made a butternut squash and kale risotto recently, a la recipe in Annie Somerville's excellent Greens Cookbook. The method for the additions went something like this:

Peel and cut butternut squash into 2-in. chunks. Toss with chopped garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, and roast in a dutch oven for about 20 min at 400 F or until the squash is soft and cooked.
Wash and remove stems from kale. Boil some water. Add salt. Cook kale about 4 minutes. Drain. Chop.
I added the squash and the kale to the risotto as above, along with nutmeg and about 2 oz grated Italian fontina cheese.


A different variation, where you make the squash in the pressure cooker along with the rice in the first stage.

Peel and cut about 3 c. butternut squash into 1-in chunks. Add them along with the broth. Season at the end with chopped sage and about 2 oz. grated Parmesan cheese.

Garlic flavour breaks down in the pressure cooker. If you want garlic flavour, saute your garlic in a little olive oil and add it at the end, or else cook one of your late additions with garlic as in the first variant here.

Posted by naomi at 09:42 AM

dutch oven love - sunday beef à la cocotte

I have a new cast iron 'cocotte' dutch oven. I blame the lack of insulation in my 1930's era house: it encourages one to want to make long-braised stews just to keep the oven going all day.

It being the weekend, I wanted to improvise a bit and putter. I had the seed of a recipe based on about five cookbooks: First, you marinate everything the night before. In the morning, you start with some bacon, render the fat, pull it out, brown some beef, pull that out, glaze some kind of mirepoix, pull that out, go back to the meat and braise it half the time in your cooker, add the mirepoix back, and wait...

So here is what I actually did, which isn't exactly like any of my recipes but has the parts I liked best from all of them. It's sort of a variation on beef bourgignon.

Cut 2 lbs trimmed beef chuck into 1 in. cubes
Chop some carrots and onions (this was 1 onion, 3 carrots, all that would fit in the covered dish)
Coarsely chop some garlic.
Marinate that in about a half bottle of red wine. I used a Rioja I had on hand. Add cracked black pepper. Add a generous dash of cognac.
(Go to bed. Wake up.)
Turn on the oven to 350F. this is premature, but the kitchen is cold.
Strain the veg and meat from the marinade. Pick out the meat and dry it with paper towels. Drying the meat ensures that it will brown nicely.
Put the cocotte on the stove on med-high heat (higher if you don't have cast iron). Add some olive oil.
Cut 4 slices thick cut bacon into 1 in. strips.
Sizzle the bacon until most of the bacon fat is rendered.
Take the bacon out.
Dry the meat some more with paper towels.
Brown the meat in batches.
Take the meat out and set it in the dish with the bacon.
Sauté about 1/3 lb. chanterelle mushrooms if you have them. (It's fall! I have them! Any mushrooms would do here if you like mushrooms.)
Set the mushrooms aside.
Put the veg in the cocotte. Add 2 tbsp sugar. (I like raw demerara sugar, but any sugar will do.)
Add some chopped rutabaga, more carrots, more onions.
Caramelize the veg about 8 minutes.
Take the veg out again. set them aside with the mushrooms.
Pour the reserved marinade in the cocotte.
Add about 1.5 c. beef broth.
Bring it to a boil. scrape up any browned bits on the bottom.
Add 2 tbsp apple jelly (or any clear fruit jelly)
Add 1 tbsp butter. Everything is better with a little butter.
Put the meat back into the pot.
Add a bunch of halved small red potatoes (I had 8).
Add some more minced garlic. (1.5 tbsp? I think was up to 6 cloves by now.)
Add a bouquet garni in a tea ball: I used sage and bay leaves and thyme.
Cover the cocotte and put it in the oven.
Wait 45 minutes to an hour. Die of the deliciousness wafting through the house.
Add the veg back in.
Add some more mushrooms (whole crimini, this time.) Because there's still room for a few more mushrooms.
add about 1 c. seeded, coarsely chopped roma tomatoes. (mine were some other variety, but a fleshy tomato rather than a juicy one.)
Put the lid back on. Top up the liquid if you have to.
Wait another 45 min to an hour, or until the beef is tender.
Eat in your nice warm house.

Posted by naomi at 12:56 PM


paellacloseupbetterweb.jpgI've made paella on the stove, in my yard on the grill, and over a firepit while camping in the redwoods. I hope someday to make it in the most traditional of settings - over a beach bonfire, sand in my toes and salt in my hair. The most recent version? Over a fire in my yard on a sunny Saturday afternoon - Derrick & Melissa and I harvested the fruits of the Alemany Farmer's market (not quite as direct as from the sea), and came back to the wabe to sabre champagne, shuck oysters, and cook up a big paella. My paella is more a method than a recipe; culled from Moro: the cookbook, Cesar, a long websurf, and the paellas I've tasted. Makes it perfect for a market-inpsired brunch!

Things you'll need:
*A broad, shallow skillet, or even better, a paellera.
*Calasparra or another Valencian rice (arborio will do, in a pinch) - around a half-cup of rice per serving.
*Some sort of stock - chicken, fish, perhaps some wine as well. You'll want a 2:1 ratio of stock to rice.
*A few onions, chopped
*olive oil
*Accent ingredients (chorizo, rabbit, chicken, seafood, snails, veggies...)
*Spices to match (saffron, thyme, smoked paprika, rosemary)

To build a paella, pick your preferred "accent" ingredients, and layer flavors around them. Naomi can't eat the fishies, so her birthday paella was a chicken, artichoke & sherry based dish, accented with thyme and saffron. (Combo pulled directly from Moro: the cookbook). I like chorizo with my seafood, and the scallops and shrimp caught our fancy at the market - so Derrick, Mellissa & I assembled a paella full of sherry, artichokes, chorizo, shrimp, scallops, saffron & thyme. The Spanish Table is an excellent resource for ingredients, cookware, and tasty Spanish wines, if you're looking for supplies and inspiration.

Build a hot fire (or turn on your stove to high), and heat up a generous dollop of olive oil. If you have a chicken or bunny , brown the pieces first. Add the onion, and cook until golden. Toss in your chorizo in the last minute or so of the onion-cooking. Add your rice, stir to ensure that it's well-coated in olive oil and let it toast for a minute or so, stirring to keep it from burning.

Add in your stock. (If you're on a stove, it's nice to have it hot with your saffron pre-infused - but if you're camping or over a fire, don't worry about it.) For the market paella, I used equal parts Oloroso sherry & chicken stock. Add your saffron, thyme, and veggies; salt to taste. Give it a stir to make sure stock has coated all the rice, and then DON'T stir anymore - you want a tasty caramelized layer of rice on the bottom. Bring to a boil, and let simmer for ten minutes. Add your seafood, and let simmer for another 10 minutes as your coals die down. (I like to cook my shrimp with the shells and heads on, but if you're fussy about such things, feel free to peel them. Add them a little later in the cooking cycle if you do that.) Your coals will be dying down right around the time your paella is done. Test your rice, scoop into bowls, and serve!

If you're camping, make extra. Tuck it aside when you go to sleep, and put it back on the coals in the morning with a little extra stock or water and a few eggs cracked on top. Cover and you'll have poached eggs on rice for breakfast!

Posted by shock at 08:02 AM

C^3 Shrimp Tacos
shrimp & tofu Last night Heather came over for dinner, and I pulled out a little something I created Tammy's birthday - tacos filled with grilled seafood crusted with coriander, cumin & chipotle. (Shrimp & scallops went into the original - last night I went with shrimp & tofu.)

I like to serve the tacos with a bright, tangy mango salsa & a big green salad with avocado & colorful bell peppers. Just the thing for an early evening dinner after a hot (well, for San Francisoc) pre-summer day.

c-cubed spice rub
2 tbsp coriander
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp kosher salt

Mix spices together; taste and adjust heat.

Peel your shrimp and/or cube your tofu.
Coat each shrimp, scallop or cube of tofu in the spice rub. String them on skewers.

Grill over a medium-hot fire. Put the tofu on first; it needs the longest on the fire. Remove the tasties from the skewers, and squeeze a generous helping of lime over the top. Serve with radishes and extra lime, warm tortillas, and a fruity, tangy salsa.

Posted by shock at 09:26 AM

Quick & Dirty Mole

Dinner: April 11, 2006
Originally uploaded by Jenblossom.

I've been wanting for a very long time to make mole from scratch. Mole dishes are something I love, though my Mexican grandma did not really make them when I was growing up - I've only really had them in restaurants.

I recently got my hands on an ancient copy of Diana Kennedy's The Cuisines of Mexico, and while the mole recipes in it are inspiring, and something I definitely plan to tackle in the future, I just didn't have the time or energy to deal with that yesterday. So I decided to just go ahead and do a "quick & dirty" version - not using a recipe, just putting in the things that typically go into a mole sauce, adding layers of flavor, just to see what I could do with a few hours of prep and cooking time. The result was pretty darn tasty, and I've got a bunch of mole "base" left over for future use.

Quick & Dirty Mole

4 dried arbol chiles
2 dried pasilla chiles
3 dried ancho chiles
4 cups water
4 plum tomatoes, halved
3 large tomatilloes, husks removed, halved
1/2 can chipotles in adobo
1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup pepitas
1/4 cup almonds
1 tbsp. each coriander and cumin seeds
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1 stick cinnamon
1-2 tbsp. each ground cinnamon, cumin, dried oregano
2 cups chicken stock (plus additional if needed)
Juice of one lime
1 tbsp. Sherry vinegar
3 tbsp. best-quality Dutch-process cocoa powder
Kosher salt
Canola or other neutral oil

Soak dried chiles in 4 cups water 2-3 hours until softened. Remove from water, and reserve about 1 cup of the soaking liquid. Remove stems and seeds from chiles.

Toss tomato and tomatillo halves with salt and a little canola, and roast on a foil-lined baking sheet at 400 degrees until skins are charred and fruits are softened.

Place tomatoes/tomatillos and all juices into a blender. Add the softened dried chiles, chipotles and adobo, and dried apricots to blender and puree.

Toast pepitas, almonds, coriander and cumin seeds in a dry skillet. Add to blender and puree, adding the reserved chile soaking liquid 1/2 cup at a time.

Cook onion and garlic with a little salt and oil in a heavy bottomed pot until softened. Add the puree from the blender, then add ground spices and two cups of chicken stock. Cook at a low simmer, covered, for about an hour, stirring occasionally and adding a little more chicken broth if the mixture gets too stiff (it should be thick, but not paste-like). Add lime juice and sherry vinegar, cocoa powder and adjust salt and other seasonings as needed. Continue cooking at a low simmer for another 30 minutes.

You will end up with probably 5-6 cups of this "base" - for our meal, I dredged 1 lb. of chicken thighs in flour seasoned with pinches of salt, cumin and cinnamon, and removed the excess. I browned them in canola until golden, drained off a bit of the excess oil from the skillet, then added about 1.5 cups of mole base and 1 cup of chicken stock. I let this cook, covered, until the chicken was tender and nearly falling off the bone.

Posted by jenblossom at 08:17 AM

Vegetarian Jambalaya

Inspired by my recent move - and the first week of real hot weather down here - I wanted to make something wonderfully Southern for dinner last night. I road-tested the recipe for veggie jambalaya from the latest issue of Bust magazine (Apr/May 06, pg 32). Who knew the Bust ladies could sling such mean Cajun fare? My vegetarian husband pronounced it "a keeper" and my toddler ate quite a bit before mashing it into the carpet, which is a picky 20 month-olds equivilent of a thumbs up!

Vegetarian Jambalaya
1 stick sweet cream butter
2 onions, chopped
1/2-1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 bell pepper, diced
16 oz. can whole tomatoes
1/2 cup baby peas
1 cup red beans, cooked
1 small zucchini or squash, diced or sliced
1/2 cup broccoli (optional)
4 cups cooked white rice
dried or fresh herbs: oregeno, thyme, parsley
seasonings: salt, pepper, cayenne

Melt butter in a pot. Add oinions and saute until soft. Add celery, garlic, and bell pepper. Saute 3-5 minutes before adding the can of tomatoes. Season with pinches of oregano, thyme and parsley, salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste. Simmer for a few minutes before adding baby peas, red beans, zucchini (and broccoli, optional). Simmer 3-5 minutes before adding rice.

Pour into baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with biscuits or fresh sourdough bread and some ice-cold beer. Will feed a couple vegetarians, with leftovers.

Posted by rebecca at 02:32 PM

turkey pie

For some reason, meat in a double crust pie is a particularly French Canadian comfort food. This is my very favourite thing to do with leftover turkey.

Before starting on the turkey filling, get your pie on. You can use any two-crust pastry recipe. Or use mine, from the Joy of Cooking, here. . The pastry needs to rest for at least 30 min before you roll it out (and woe betide you if you don't let the gluten rest--the pastry will sulk and come out all patchy). Also, pastrymaking wants a cool kitchen, so it's worth doing this well before you preheat the oven. Wrap your two balls of pie dough and leave them in the fridge.

Preheat your oven to 375F.

In any large pan that you favour, sauté together onions, carrots, celery, and mushrooms in butter. I use about 4 tbsp. butter, 1 onion, 3 carrots, 2 stalks of celery, and about 15 mushrooms. I chop everything coarsely, except the mushrooms -- small bite-sized mushrooms you can leave whole are best; leave them as large chunks if you can't. These are not exact proportions: use what you like and have on hand. Leeks or shallots make a nice change from the onions, and sometimes I leave out the celery in favour of celery seed.

When the onions are softened and translucent, sprinkle the contents of the pan with about 1/4 c. flour. Stir constantly as the flour cooks to form a roux. Add enough turkey broth to make a quick velouté sauce around the vegetables in the pan. For 1/4 c. flour, I use about 2-3 c. liquid. White wine and sherry (if you have bold mushrooms) or milk make a nice addition to plain broth. Meriko has more to say about roux and velouté sauces, here.

When the sauce thickens a little, add chopped leftover turkey, and any other vegetables that you might have blanched, like peas or pearl onions. Season with parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, bay, salt, and pepper (omitting any of these at will). If you are feeling decadent add some cream. Taste the creamed turkey -- if it tastes dull, try adding a little lemon juice to brighten the flavour. A few drops to one or two teaspoons of lemon is usually enough to bring it into balance. Leave the creamed turkey on low heat to simmer while you roll out your crust.

Roll out the bottom crust to fit your pan. I roll my crust on waxed paper to make it easier to turn into the pan. Turn the crust into the pan and prick the bottom with the tines of a fork to create a few vents. Dabbing your fingertips in a cup of water, moisten the rim of the crust around the edges of your pie plate. Roll out the second crust for the top of the pie.

Fill the pie with the piping hot creamed turkey and vegetables. If the sauce around the turkey and veg is looking thin, crumble a few soda crackers on top. They will vanish into the pie and add some more body to the sauce. Gently place the second crust over the pie, trim the overhanging edges, and crimp the top and bottom crusts together to seal the turkey in. Using a knife, cut v-shaped vents in the top crust to allow steam to escape.

Bake 15 min and lower the oven temperature to 350F. Bake 30 min more -- the total cooking time is about 45 min to an hour. When the pie is done, the filling will be bubbling up at the vents and the pastry will be toasty brown. Make sure that you leave it in at least 45 min to ensure that the bottom crust is cooked through.


A note on freezing -- I often freeze just the creamed turkey for later use in pies (with or without a bottom crust, in which case you have pot pie rather than pie) or with a biscuit top. You can also undercook the pie and freeze it in the shell. If you're making extra pies for the freezer, bake the pie for only about 30 min, just enough to set the pastry. To bake a frozen pie, defrost it in the fridge for about 8 hrs, and then bake for 45 min at 350.

Posted by naomi at 10:38 PM

Spicy Beef With Corriander Relish
Another fabulous recipe from bills open kitchen: Spicy Beef with Corriander Relish. I actually made this for the meat entree the same night I pulled off the successful chickpea stew experiment. This was also the first time I tried grilling steak indoors in a new heavy iron grill pan and the results were perfection! Between this beef recipe and the chickpea stew, Bill Granger is now batting two for two in my kitchen.

(I don't know how I'm going to break it to meriko, but she's never getting her cookbook back...)

Spicy Beef With Corriander Relish
1/3 cup Shaoxing rice wine, or dry sherry
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/4 cup light soy sauce
2 tablespoons bakers (superfine) sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
4 x 7 oz sirloin steaks

optional: to serve
7 oz snow peas
steamed rice

Place rice wine, oyster sauce, soy sauce, suagr and sesame oil in a large bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the steaks then cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to marinate for 2 hours, bringing to room temperature in the last 30 minutes.

Prepare the corriander relish while the steaks are marinating.

Preheat a frying pan or barbecue until hot. Sear the steaks for 2 minutes each side, by which time they'll be done if you like rare steak. Continue cooking over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes on each side for medium and 2 to 3 minutes a side for well done.

Remove the steaks from the pan and allow to rest for 5 minutes in a warm place. Optional plating: lightly blanch snow peas in boiling water then plunge into cold water and drain well. Slice each steak into 1/2 inch slices, top with a little relish and serve with steamed rice and snow peas. Serve with corriander relish.

Corriander Relish
1 cup chopped corriander
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 large red chilli, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon bakers (superfine) sugar
freshly ground black pepper

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.

Serves 4.

Posted by rebecca at 10:12 PM

fregole, two ways
crabplated6web.jpg sausageplated2web.jpg*taptap* Is this thing on? It's been a bit - I've been travelling and working too much of late. (Hey, at least there was some travelling in there....) But tonight, back to creating something tasty and new for the Leckman-Borogove Sunday supper!

I found a package of fregole at Lucca a few weeks ago - it looks like my beloved Israeli couscous, but toasted up nice and dark. This stuff is Sardinian - and it looks like the traditional dish made with it is fully of clammy goodness. I spotted an article in my local that mentioned that the good folks over at Incanto cook it like risotto with crab; that sounded good to me. Nothing being that easy for a Leckman-Borogove supper, I put together two different fregole dishes for our dinner tonight - a crab, thyme & shallot fregole, and one with tomatoes, chantarelles, white beans, and sage. (Warning: do not try and feed to the littlest Leckman.)

Fregole with Crab: method
--Clean a crab. Make a simple stock with the shells, and reserve the meat.
--Mince 3-4 shallots. Pluck a few branches of thyme.
--Sauté the shallots in a little butter over medium heat until they just start to color. Toss in the thyme; let cook for a few moments until the leaves turn bright bright green.
--Add in a cup of fregole. Stir to coat with tasty butter and shallot. Add stock to just cover up. Bring to a simmer.
--Simmer for 20-25 minutes, adding stock as necessary to keep the fregole submerged. Taste reasonably often, starting around minute 15. Stop cooking when they are just past al dente, but still a bit springy when you chomp.
--Stir in some crab butter that has been hanging around your freezer. And the reserved crab meat.
--Squeeze a small lemon (or half a big one) into the pasta. (Do this a bit at a time, until you like the lemon level.) Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a green salad and a little coarse sea salt sprinkled over the top. Serves 2, with a bit leftover for lunch.

Fregole with Beans, Tomato, Mushrooms & Sage: method
I worked from Judy Rogers' method for cooking dried beans and then her method for Fagioli all'Uccelletto, from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook. She's smart, that Judy. (I just realized I made Fregole e Fagioli. Oh dear.)
For the tasty beans:
--Cook your white beans according to your favorite method. If you don't have one, go get the Zuni Cookbook now!
--Chop an onion & sauté it over medium in some olive oil. Let it carmelize a bit.
--Throw in a few handfuls of chopped chantarelles and 2-3 cloves of minced garlic. And a little salt, just because you want to taste the mushrooms in a minute. Let them cook. (Now is a good time to drop down and start cooking your fregole.)
--Add a tablespooon of chopped fresh sage. Stir it in. Taste the mushrooms again. (And maybe one more time, for good measure. And let Beca taste them, too.)
---Add around a half a cup of chopped tomatoes and a splash of veg stock. Bring back to a simmer. Add the beans and some of their cooking liquid. Taste again - you'll probably need more salt. Let simmer, gently, for 15 minutes or so. (Or until the fregole is done. We're pragmatic around here.)
For the fregole
--Sauté another chopped onion in some olive oi. Add fregole, and a nice dark veg stock, and cook as above in the crab recipe.
--When the fregole is done, stir in most of the beans and their sauce, gently. Try not to break up the beans.
--Spoon into a plate, and top with a few more of the beans and a little extra sauce.
--If you have a meat-eater around, cook off a nice lamb sausage. (We had one from Golden Gate Meat Markets; lamb sausage cured in red wine.) Slice it and arrange it on the plate atop the fregole.
--Serves 3, with some leftover for lunch.

Posted by shock at 10:23 PM

orichiette with slow-roasted salmon
Last week, Derrick had me thinking about slow-roasted salmon (reeeaaaaallly slow). Russell's in crunch mode at work right now - lots of dinners delivered to work, and not so many shared at home together of late. Sunday he was home for dinner, and I wanted to make him something nice but unfussy. He called for pasta. I wanted to make sure he ate something green. I puttered around the herb garden and the kitchen, and what came out was a plate of orichiette tossed with a bit of butter, fresh rosemary, chile flakes, steamed broccoli, leeks melted in butter, and fried garlicy breadcrumbs, with roasted salmon piled atop. Mission accomplished, with good results.

For the salmon:
My oven goes much lower than Derrick's - down to 150. I rubbed my salmon with salt and minced fresh rosemary, put it on a silpat, and I started roasting my salmon at 150. After 30 minutes I was getting fairly hungry, and it was clear it was going to take a lot longer than I wanted to finish the fish at 150. I turned up the temp to 175 for the next 20 minutes, and flipped on the convection fan for the last 8 or 10 minutes of that. Overall, the salmon took about 50 minutes to cook.

For the pasta:
Mise - You can do this while you're cooking the salmon, if your oven goes as low as mine!
Cut broccoli into small florets. Dice leeks into smallish pieces - mine were a half inch by 3/4" of an inch or so. Slice a clove of garlic as thinly as you possibly can. Shred a piece of bread into small bread crumbs. Cut some fresh rosemary - soft new leaves, not pinier hard leaves, and mince it. Boil some pasta water.

Put the leeks in the bottom of a heavy saucepan with a bit of water, a small knob of butter, and some salt. Bring to a simmer, turn the heat to low, cover and let the leeks melt for 10-20 minutes. They'll soften up beautifully, melting without carmelizing. (If you make green garlic soup or leek soup, this is how I start both of those, as well.)

Add a tablespoon of chile flakes to the minced rosemary, add a knob of butter; reserve.

Toast a few pine nuts.

Warm the garlic slices in a knob of butter with a touch of olive oil over medium-low heat. Don't fry the garlic, just let them infuse the oil. Turn up the heat after 5 minutes, and fry the garlic until golden. Remove to a paper towel to drain. Add the breadcrumbs, salt & pepper to taste, and fry until the bread is crispy. Remove to the same paper towel.

Putting it together
Time your pasta to finish around the same time the salmon does (I used about a cup and a half of dry orichiette for 3 servings). When you have 10 minutes to perfection on the salmon, steam the broccoli. When your pasta is cooked to your liking, reserve a bit of your liquid, drain, and toss back in the pot. Toss in the leeks, the butter, the rosemary/chile mix, and salt to taste. Stir well to combine. Toss in the broccoli. Pile pasta in a bowl, scatter with the breadcrumbs and pine nuts. Balance the salmon atop.

Find better kitchen lighting for nighttime food photos.

Posted by shock at 07:50 AM

Half Recipe, Half Reprimand

So I've been at my parents' house for the last five weeks after my father passed away, and did some cooking for myself and Mom. I made these Salmon Avocado Tacos from a Sunset recipe and they were really fantastic. But where the heck are the recipes from the rest of you dangit? Miss Meriko hasn't posted in eons! I hereby request some meatless entrees in the hopes of getting you all gossipping again. :>

Recipe follows...

1  boned salmon fillet with skin (1 in. thick, 2 lb.)
1  onion (6 oz.), cut into rings
2  tablespoons lime juice
1  tablespoon minced garlic
1/4  teaspoon pepper
1  tablespoon olive oil
8  flour tortillas (8 in.)
Avocado salsa (see recipe below)
2  cups finely shredded cabbage
1  cup crumbled feta cheese or queso fresco

1. Place salmon in a heavy-duty plastic food bag. Add onion, lime juice, garlic, pepper, and oil. Seal bag. Turn fish often for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, stack the tortillas and seal in foil.

3. Cut a piece of heavy-duty foil the same size as salmon. Lift fish from marinade and place skin down on foil.

4. Lay foil with fish on a barbecue grill over a solid bed of medium coals or gas grill on medium (you can hold your hand at grill level only 4 to 5 seconds). Evenly distribute onion from marinade over fish. Close lid on grill; open vents for charcoal.

5. After 5 minutes, place tortilla packet next to salmon. Turn tortillas every few minutes. Cook until salmon is no longer translucent but is still moist-looking in center (cut to test) and tortillas are hot in center, about 8 minutes more.

6. Pull off salmon skin and discard. Cut fish into 1-inch chunks and put in a bowl.

7. To assemble tacos, wrap chunks of salmon, salsa, cabbage, and feta in tortillas. Add salt to taste.

Yield: Makes 8 tacos; 8 servings

Avocado Salsa

1 3/4  cups diced (1/2-in. chunks) firm-ripe avocados
3/4  cup chopped firm-ripe Roma tomato
2/3  cup minced green onions
1/3  cup chopped fresh cilantro
3  tablespoons olive oil
2  tablespoons lemon juice
1  tablespoon minced, seeded fresh jalapeño chili
1  tablespoon minced garlic

In a bowl, combine avocados, tomato, onions, cilantro, oil, lemon juice, chili, and garlic. Add salt to taste.

Yield: Makes 2 2/3 cup; 8 servings

Posted by leek at 09:44 PM

Empanadas w/ Greens & Olives

I haven't actually made these for awhile, but I post the recipe because they were excellent and serve as proof of my highest cookbook recommendation--Deborah Madison's "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone." Such a good book. The dough recipe is hers, too, and I've included it below.

Empanadas with Greens and Olives

1 recipe Galette Dough or Yeasted Tart Dough (I chose the tart dough with oil to reduce the sat. fat component.)
2 t. sweet paprika
10 c. mixed greens, such as beet greens, chard, spinach, kale
2 T. olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/4 c. chopped parsley
1/4 t. red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1/2 c. pitted olives, such as kalamata
1/2 c. grated provolone
1 beaten egg
Salt and pepper

Make the dough, adding the paprika to the flour. Divide it into 12 pieces and roll each into a 3-4 inch circle. Set on a sheet pan and refrigerate. Preheat oven to 375 deg F.

Wash greens, but don't dry them. Heat oil in wide skillet over fairly high heat. Saute the onion with the garlic, bay leaves, parsley, and pepper flakes until the onion begins to color a little, about 4 minutes. Add greens and cook until they're tender, 8-12 minutes, turning them with tongs as they cook. If there's a lot of moisture when they're done, press it out with the back of a spoon. Finely chop greens, then mix them with olives, cheese, and half of the egg. Season to taste with s&p.

Place 1 1/2 T. filling on the lower half of each dough circle, then fold the pastry over and seal edges. Brush with the remaining egg. Bake for 20 minutes or until nicely browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yeasted Tart Dough with Olive Oil

2 t. active dry yeast
1/2 t. sugar
1/2 c. warm water
3 T. olive oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/8 t. salt (what's with this weird fraction? frrrrreak)
1 3/4 c. flour, as needed

Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water in a medium bowl and let stand until bubbly, about 10 minutes. Add oil, egg, and salt, then stir in flour. When the dough is too stiff to work with a spoon, turn onto counter and knead until smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes. Add more flour if necessary to keep it from sticking. Set the dough in an oiled bowl, turn to coat, cover with towel, and let rise until doubled in bulk, 45 minutes to an hour. Turn dough out. (For individual tarts, divide dough, shape into balls, and let rest under a towel for 15 minutes before rolling them out.)

(Deborah Madison adds to this that if you don't eat eggs, you can add an additional 3 T. water with 1 T. oil. But if you don't eat eggs or cheese, you won't be able to make the filling anyway.)

Posted by leek at 05:30 PM

Spicy Fusion Shrimp

Dinner, May 8
Originally uploaded by Jenblossom.
I've been experimenting with incorporating more Asian ingredients and preparations into my cooking - I love the flavors, but I just hadn't used them much in the past.

This shrimp recipe is a bit of a mishmash of Mexican and Asian flavors - chiles prepared three ways give it heat and complexity, and fresh cilantro and lime juice add brightness. Serve this over a bit of steamed brown basmati rice with black beans and avocado slices, and you have a meal that's quick, light and savory.

Jen's Spicy Fusion Shrimp

12-16 black tiger shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil (or other neutral oil)
juice of one lime
1 tablespoon Thai chili paste
1 tablespoon good quality chile powder (I used Mike's homemade blend)
4 chipotles in adobo
1 tablespoon tomato paste (I use the super-concentrated Italian paste in a tube)
salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

In a medium bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of the oil, the lime juice, the chile paste and chile powder, and whisk until well blended. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, then add to the marinade, cover, and chill for 30 minutes.

Heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a wide-bottomed pan until very hot. Add the shrimp with marinade, the chipotles with adobo, and the tomato paste, and stir well. Let the shrimp sear on one side (this should just take just a minute or two), then flip them over. Stir the sauce well to make sure it is well combined. Spoon shrimp into shallow bowls or plates and garnish with fresh chopped or torn cilantro leaves.

Serves 2.

Posted by jenblossom at 10:04 AM

808 at home

One of the best meals I had in Las Vegas at NAB was at 808 -- so good that I didn't mind going back the very next day. The best dish on the menu was a sesame crusted seared mahi mahi with a lime ginger beurre blanc on asian vegetables. I was thrilled to find the recipe here -- and I tried it at home. The results are below. It was delicious.


The recipe from the article follows -- I think it may need more ginger and less cream, but otherwise it was very good. I coated both sides of the mahi mahi. The vegetables were carrots, zucchini and baby boc choi, in that order, sautéed in oil and finished with soy sauce and a touch of butter.

Charred Mahi-Mahi With a Sesame Crust Topped With Lime Ginger Beurre Blanc

1/2 cup dry white wine
2 slices fresh ginger
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 lime, juiced
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
3-ounce mahi-mahi fillet
1/8 cup white sesame seeds
1 teaspoon corn starch
1/4 teaspoon black sesame seeds

In a skillet, combine the white wine and the fresh slivers of ginger. Simmer on medium heat to reduce by half. Add the heavy cream and reduce again by half. Cut the butter into small cubes; then add them one at a time until each is incorporated into the reduction. Make sure to keep the sauce right under boiling temperature while you incorporate the butter. The sauce will separate if it boils too rapidly or becomes too cold.

Next, pass the reduction through cheesecloth or a chinois. (A chinois is a metal sieve with a very fine mesh used to strain soups and sauces.) Put the sauce in a blender and add the minced garlic and the lime juice. Process at medium speed until the ginger and the lime juice are incorporated into the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reserve to the side until fish is ready for serving.

Season the fish with salt and pepper on both sides. Mix together the cornstarch and white sesame seeds. Next, press one side of the fish into the seed mixture. Place a heavy-bottomed skillet or a wok on high heat. After the skillet is really hot, place the fish in the pan with the sesame seed side down. Cook until crispy brown. Turn the fish over and cook an additional 4 to 6 minutes. (Mahi-mahi has a firm, white meat and a delicate flavor. It is sometimes called dorado or dolphin fish. [It has no relation to dolphins, which are mammals.])

Serve on a small bed of stir-fried vegetables. Drizzle the lime ginger butter sauce around the fish and garnish the dish with black sesame seeds.

Posted by tim at 07:57 PM

Tamarind Shrimp Curry
This curry from Mary Anne's A Taste of Serendib is fantastic. A clear favorite at NYF this year, and redone already for a Sunday Leckman-Borogove dinner - I think this is going to wind up in my regular repetoire. You can sub in tofu and carrots if you have veggies around, but the sauce really is better with some shrimp stock in it!

Serves 4-6

Mary Anne's mother makes the curry sauce and then adds shelled, deveined shrimp. But shrimp shells hold a lot of flavor, and this is a classic technique for extracting some of the flavor and saving it for your dish.

1 lb raw shrimp, shelled.
2 c. water
3 medium yellow onions, chopped fine
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp black mustard seed
1/4 tsp cumin seed
1-2 rounded tsp red chili powder (adjust to taste)
1 tbsp Sri Lankan curry powder
1/3 c. ketchup
1 heaping tsp salt
1 rounded tsp tamarind paste

1. Boil shrimp shells in water for 15 minutes or so. Drain, reserving water. Discard shells
2. Sauté onions in oil on high with mustard seed and cumin seeds until onions are golden/translucent (not brown). Add chili powder and cook 1 minute, until you start to cough. Immediately add curry powder, ketchup and salt. Stir well.
3. Add reserved shrimp water and bring to a boil. Add tamarind paste and dissolve.
4. Lower heat to medium. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 20-30 minutes. When sauce is thick and well-reduced, add shrimp and cook until shrimp are firm and pink. Serve hot.

meriko's notes: If you don't use the shrimp water, you can serve fishy folks and vegetarians with the same dish: after 20 minutes of simmering, divide the sauce into two pans. Add cubed tofu and thickly sliced carrots into one, and leave the other one alone until it's shrimp time.

Posted by shock at 09:19 AM

yang chow fried rice

Who needs takeout when you can make it at home? This recipe from the Jan/Feb 2005 Cooking Light is a veggie reinterpretation of the dish you get at the Chinese place on the corner, just without the shrimp and ham. The most time-consuming part is cooking the rice and then chilling it; my rice was still slightly warm and the grains stuck together a little when I stir-fried them. I can't think of a tastier way to use up extra rice you might have sitting in the fridge. Also substantial enough to eat as a main course.

Heat 2 teaspoons canola oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 large eggs, lightly beaten; swirl to coat bottom of pan evenly. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and dash of salt; cook 3 minutes or until egg is done. Remove egg from pan; thinly slice, and set aside.

Wipe pan clean with a paper towel. Heat 4 teaspoons canola oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup thinly sliced green onions, 2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger, and 2 garlic cloves, minced; stir-fry 30 seconds. Add 2 large eggs, lightly beaten, and 5 cups cooked short-grain rice, chilled; stir-fry 3 minutes. Stir in half of egg strips, 3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions, 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 (10-ounce) package frozen green peas, thawed; cook 30 seconds, stirring well to combine. Top with remaining egg strips and 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro. Yield: 6 servings.

Posted by astraea at 11:21 PM

Salmon Baked in Foil

salmon in foil.jpg
As if we needed another reason to love Giada De Laurentiis' recipes... her Salmon Baked in Foil was absolutely delicious, and super easy. In the half hour or so it took to prepare and bake the salmon filets, I was able to throw together our favorite arugula salad and make a basic risotto with fresh herbs and Parmagiano. I stayed true to Giada's recipe, except that I added fresh thyme after the salmon came out of the oven, instead of adding dried at the start (it was what we had on hand). We paired this with the wonderful Evolution wine, an off-dry white which is a blend of 9 different grapes. It was a perfect complement to our meal, and a wine which we'll certainly drink again. All in all, it was a wonderful, quick and easy meal for a busy weeknight.

Posted by jenblossom at 09:24 AM

Decadent Mac & Cheese

Last night, I had to feed a craving... a craving for something rich and creamy, warm and comforting. I wanted, no *needed* macaroni and cheese. And no blue box concoction would do. In fact, I took it a few steps beyond your standard from-scratch recipe by using a blend of five cheeses, and topping it with crunchy panko crumbs and fresh herbs. This was most certainly not your momma's macaroni and cheese - it was simply decadent.

mac & cheese baked with an herbed panko crust 

Jen's Decadent Mac & Cheese

2 cups medium shell pasta
4 tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus 2 tbsp. for topping
2 cups whole milk
about 1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
3 cups finely shredded/grated cheese (I used 1.5 cups of Grafton 8 yr. Reserve Cheddar, 1 cup cave-aged Gruyere, 1 cup imported Italian Fontina, and 1/4 cup each aged Asiago and Parmigiano Reggiano)
1/2 cup panko crumbs (a Japanese dry breadcrumb)
1 tbsp. each chopped fresh rosemary and thyme

Cook pasta according to package directions until just under al dente.

Meanwhile, in a wide saucepan, make a bechamel by melting 4 tbsp. butter with 4 tbsp. flour, then whisking in milk until all are smooth and well combined. Once this thickens, add a grating of nutmeg, about 1/8 tsp., and stir. Add cheeses a little at a time, stirring until melted and well combined. Add the cooked and well-drained pasta to the cheese mixture, tossing well.

Pour pasta and cheese mixture into a baking dish. Combine choppped herbs with panko crumbs and spread evenly over the top, coating well. Break up the remaining 2 tbsp. of butter into little bits and scatter over the top. Place in a 350 degree oven, uncovered, until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbling.

Approx. 4 main-course servings, or 6-8 as a side.

Posted by jenblossom at 07:55 AM

herbed chicken breasts with tomatillo salsa and queso fresco

I am done with winter. I am pretending that spring is almost here. So I made a warm-weather sort of dinner tonight with this recipe from the Jan/Feb 2005 Cooking Light. The tomatillos brightened the flavor, but the queso fresco made it glorious. Lord knows I'm easy where cheese is concerned, but queso fresco is good cheese. Salty cheese + tangy salsa = yummy goodness.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To prepare salsa, bring 2 quarts water to a boil. Add 1/2 pound tomatillos (about 10 small), husks and stems removed, 1 garlic clove, and 1/2 to 1 serrano chile; cook 7 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Combine tomatillos, garlic, chile, 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, 1/4 cup coarsely chopped onion, 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a food processor or blender; pulse 4 to 5 times or until coarsely chopped. Set aside.

To prepare chicken, place 3 (1-ounce) slices white bread in a food processor, and pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure 1 1/2 cups. Arrange crumbs on a baking sheet; bake at 350 degrees or until lightly browned. Cool completely.

Place each of 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/2-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Combine 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper; sprinkle evenly over chicken.

Place breadcrumbs in a shallow dish. Place 1 large egg, lightly beaten, in another shallow dish. Dip chicken in egg; dredge in breadcrumbs.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 4 minutes on each side or until done. Top chicken with salsa, and sprinkle with queso fresco cheese. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and lime wedges, if desired. Yield: 4 servings.

Posted by astraea at 11:22 PM

ma po tofu

Going out, dealing with the rain for like the tenth day running? Bad. Staying in, cooking dinner for Laura and Mikko? Good. If Mikko turned up his nose at this simple Chinese stir-fry from the January/February 2005 issue of Cooking Light because it was mostly tofu I was all ready to tell him to shut up and eat it, it's good for his prostate. Fortunately no such declaration was necessary. I used only the minimum amount of chili garlic sauce out of deference to the fact that Laura is still breast-feeding, but the dish still had a nice spice to it. I rounded out the supper with fruit salad and sparkling apple cider.

Place 1 (1-pound) package reduced-fat firm tofu, cut into 6 slices, on several layers of paper towels; cover with additional paper towels. Place a dinner plate on top of covered tofu; let stand 30 minutes. Remove plate; discard paper towels. Cut tofu slices into 1/2-inch cubes.

Combine 1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, 1 tablespoon oyster sauce, and 1 to 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (such as Lee Kum Kee), stirring with a whisk.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 ounces lean ground pork; cook 4 minutes or until done, stirring to crumble. Add 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger and 3 garlic cloves, minced; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add tofu; cook 4 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently. Add broth mixture to pan. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute or until mixture thickens. Remove from heat.

Serve tofu mixture over 2 cups hot cooked long-grain brown rice. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup chopped green onions. Yield: 4 servings.

Posted by astraea at 11:22 PM

green-garlic orzo with roasted cauliflower

cauliweb.jpgLate Saturday night, Lisa and I were talking about the effects of our recent drastic increases in consumption of rich & yummy food. I love the decadence people allow themselves through the holidays, but I certainly can't eat that way every night. This is the sort of thing I make at the end of a long weekend of holiday eating to recover. (Sunday, in fact.) I think the simple orzo really picks up the delicate flavor of the green garlic, and the salty proscuitto is a nice contrast to the roasted cauliflower.

Serves 2.

1 small head cauliflower
6 stalks green garlic.
3/4 cup orzo pasta
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
stock (chicken, veggie, your choice.)
a bit of white wine
1/4 cup of shredded or diced hard, nutty cheese (I used capricious)
2 Tbsp pine nuts
4 slices proscuitto
salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 400F.

Divide the cauliflower into florets (diameter size - something like a quarter). Toss them with the olive oil, salt & pepper, and put them in a dish large enough to hold them in a single layer. Break up the teaspoon of butter, and dot the top of the cauliflower. Roast at 400F for about 25 minutes, or until the cauliflower has lost its bite and is golden brown on the tops and edges. You can toss it once in the middle if you like extra crispy edges.

Slice the green garlic into thin rounds. Put it in a small pot with a pat of butter (around a tablespoon) and a splash of water. Add a pinch of salt. Turn to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 8 minutes. You want the green garlic to stew into a melty mass, but not caramelize.

Toast the pinenuts for about 5 minutes in the oven, alongside the cauliflower.

When the garlic is soft, add the orzo. Stir to coat with butter, and then add a half a cup of wine (I used a bottle of champagne that was open) and a half a cup of stock. Add stock until the orzo is covered with about a half-inch of liquid. Raise heat, bring to a simmer, and return to medium heat. Cook until orzo is tender, adding stock and wine as necessary to keep the orzo wet. Stir occasionally, but gently. Add salt & freshly ground pepper to taste. If the cauliflower isn't ready yet, cover the orzo and reserve a bit of stock to moisten the pasta when you serve it. Just before serving, remoisten the pasta, and stir in the cheese.

To plate: place the pasta in the bottom of the bowl. Heap cauliflower on top. Tear the slices of proscuitto into ribbons; add them to the bowl. Sprinkle a few pine nuts over the top, and grind a bit of extra pepper over the whole thing.

Posted by shock at 07:49 AM

All Day Lasagna

Inspired by a recent post on Gothamist, Mike and I decided that we wanted a good, traditional-as-we-can-make-it lasagna… no clunky boxed noodles, no overly chunky fillings, no gobs of cheese, just clean, pure flavors and textures.

On Friday, we traveled to the Belmont neighborhood in the Bronx, an area with a large concentration of Italian immigrants, which is renowned for its handmade Italian specialties and imported goods. We came home with beautiful sheets of fresh pasta, cans of San Marzano tomatoes, and delicious creamy cheeses. On Saturday, we went to Ottomanelli's Meat Market in the East Village for ground beef and pork for the sauce. We had our ingredients, but if this was to be a truly flavorful lasagna, I was going to need a whole day to prepare it. This All-Day Lasagna would have to wait until Sunday.

Sunday morning came, rainy and cold. We were put slightly behind schedule by a leaking door frame and the ensuing wait for our landlord; however, the cooking got underway at around 1 p.m. While Mike went off to do laundry, I got to work on an adaptation of Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese sauce. I went the “beef and pork adaptation” route, using two parts ground chuck to one part ground pork, and I added double the quantity of tomatoes she calls for, but otherwise, I followed her recipe. About an hour after I started, the sauce was ready to simmer for the afternoon, and the apartment was beginning to smell absolutely amazing. I did a quick clean-up of the kitchen, and I was ready to start prepping the other ingredients.

I had refrigerated the fresh pasta sheets, so I removed them from the refrigerator to allow them to come to room temp before blanching them. I did the same with the cheeses, portioning out half a pound of ricotta and 1/4 pound of fresh unsalted mozzarella, cutting the latter into thin slices. I got out all of the pots I’d need, as well as our wonderful new Chantal earthenware baker, which I went ahead and buttered to keep the lasagna from sticking to it as it cooked. Finally, I finished my mise en place by measuring out all of the ingredients I’d need for the béchamel, arranging them on the counter within easy reach.

At around 6, it was time to finish my prep and begin to assemble the lasagna. I wasn’t really working from a recipe at this point, but I did consult my copy of Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, as well as both Mario Batali’s and Giada De Laurentiis’ versions of the dish, for guidelines.

Using a pizza cutter, I cut the fresh pasta sheets to fit the baking dish (about 6x8). I had a large pot of salted water at a rolling boil, and dry towels laid out on the counter – the pasta sheets would have to be briefly cooked, removed from the pot and plunged into an ice bath, rinsed gently under running water, then laid out on the towels and patted dry to remove any starch before setting them aside.

I spread about a cup of Bolognese sauce into the bottom of the buttered baking dish, then put my first cooked and dried pasta sheet over it, pressing gently. On top of that, I added the ricotta, which I had blended with one egg, a sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg, and a cup of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry. I placed another pasta sheet on top of that, and spread a cup of Bolognese over it.

At this point, I took a break from blanching pasta sheets and turned my attention to making a béchamel. I used four tablespoons of unsalted butter, which I melted in a pan, and to which I added three tablespoons of unbleached organic flour. Using a flexible plastic spatula, I combined these into a roux, being careful not to let it turn brown. Once the mixture was smooth, I slowly added two cups of whole milk, which had been brought to room temperature, a pinch of salt, and another tiny grating of fresh nutmeg. I stirred constantly until the mixture was smooth and lump-free, and was thickened to creaminess. I removed this from the heat and set it aside, then prepared two more sheets of pasta, placing one over the layer of Bolognese that I had last added. I spooned about a cup of béchamel over that layer, then added another layer of pasta. I added one more layer of Bolognese and pasta, then poured the remaining béchamel over the top, and studded it with my slices of fresh mozzarella.

This went, uncovered, into the oven, and cooked for about 45 minutes at 400 degrees – just until the lasagna was bubbling around the edges and the top was nicely browned.

The result was absolutely delicious. The pasta was so tender, the béchamel creamy and delicate, the Bolognese sauce rich and succulent… it was really a revelation, and far different from lasagnas we had tried in the past. I have to say I was very happy with the result, though I think I’d make one adjustment next time, and add some freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano over the béchamel before baking. All in all, though, it was a wonderful combination of fresh, quality ingredients, and no ingredient overpowered another. This All-Day Lasagna was time and labor intensive, but definitely worth it.

Posted by jenblossom at 06:40 PM

danger tart
tart1web.jpgMore a method than a formal recipe: some of the tastiest tarts I've produced come from leftover inspiration. They're versatile - you can serve them for breakfast, lunch or dinner; with a salad or with soup, or even just cooled off for a picnic the next day. (I started making savory galettes and tarts for dinner parties; they always get high marks with the guests. Once I realized that the technique was pretty standard, they became a staple in our "use up what's in the fridge" suppers.) Yesterday I made one for brunch, and nibbled on it after a bunch of yardwork left us starrrrrving.

Oven at 350. Minimum ingredients:
A couple of eggs, some liquid (stock, milk, wine), and some sort of protein & veggies.

For the crust: You can whip up a basic gallette dough & stuff it free-form. For the truly instant, you could grab a premade pie crust, frozen puff pastry - or even a deep-dish pizza shell. For those in the SF Bay Area, I find that Vicolo's pizza shells are perfect; they have a bit of a ridge, the crunch of cornmeal works well with the "tart" concept, and, well, I keep them in my freezer.

For the filling substrate: Beat two eggs gently with a fork. Add a bit of milk or cream, and grate in fresh pepper. You'll fold your ingredients into this bowl.

Cube or shred cheese, chop up leftover meats and veggies, and toss them in. Stir in a spoonful or two of salsa or some tasty sauce you may have. (Precook your meat if it's raw - it won't be in the oven long enough to cook through, unless you're using shrimp and scallops.) Throw in a bunch of herbs - fresh if they're wilting away in your fridge. Fold these into your tart base. You want the egg mixture to coat the chunks, but not be too runny.

If you have raw pastry or gallette dough, roll it out into 6 or 7" diameter circles. Spoon some filling in the middle, and fold the edges over the filling leaving a 2 or 3 inch hold in the middle. Pinch the edges together. If you have a shell of some sort, spoon your filling on in. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes; raise the temperature to 375 and bake for 5 more. The fillling should set, and the crust should be golden. (If you're familiar with your shell pastry, bake it as you're used to; but you want the tart to be in for at least 15 minutes at 350 to set your filling. Longer won't hurt it.)

Yesterday's tart had small chunks of chicken, chopped roasted gypsy peppers, the last of the basil from the yard, a sautee'd onion, goat gouda, a touch of gorgonzola, and a few spoonfulls of romesco stirred in. I served it with a mache salad with a simple vinaigrette.

Posted by shock at 08:22 AM

beef daube provençal

Did I mention it was stew weather? I found this recipe for Beef Daube Provençal in the November 2004 issue of Cooking Light, and like much classic French cooking I have tried in my own kitchen it is simple but absolutely delicious. All it really consists of is braised beef, red wine, and vegetables, and methinks it would do well in a crock pot should you need to keep it warm for indeterminate-arrival guests. Carol and Dan and I rounded out the meal with a light salad with vinaigrette and an Adult Brownie for dessert.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a small Dutch oven over low heat. Add 12 garlic cloves, crushed; cook 5 minutes or until garlic is fragrant, stirring occasionally. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon, and set aside. Increase heat to medium-high. Add 1 (2-pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes, to pan; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Cook 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove beef from pan. Add 1 cup red wine to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add garlic, beef, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 2 cups chopped carrot, 1 1/2 cups chopped onion, 1/2 cup less-sodium beef broth, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, dash of ground cloves, 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, and 1 bay leaf, and bring to a boil.

Cover and bake at 300 degrees for 2 1/2 hours or until beef is tender. Discard bay leaf. Serve over 3 cups cooked medium egg noodles (about 4 cups uncooked noodles). Yield: 6 servings.

Posted by astraea at 12:25 AM

brunswick stew with smoked paprika

Suddenly, it's stew weather. This recipe for Brunswick Stew with Smoked Paprika from the October 2004 Cooking Light is said to have originated in Brunswick County, Virginia, (a place with stew weather if ever there was one) in the 1800s. They spiced it up with a little smoked Spanish paprika, which I couldn't find at Andronico's and couldn't be bothered to trawl specialty stores for...but regular paprika seemed to do the trick just fine. I used rotisserie chicken to speed up prep time. The stew comes out very strong and smoky, and if I was fixing this for a hot date I'd pair it with Champagne or sparkling wine. It's super yummy and super easy to make and I can't wait to eat the leftovers for the rest of the week.

Combine 2 cups (3/4-inch) cubed Yukon gold potatoes, 2 cups thinly sliced yellow onion, 2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed, 1 cup frozen baby lima beans, thawed, 1/2 cup tomato sauce, 2 (14-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth, and 2 bacon slices, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips, in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in 3 cups shredded cooked chicken breast, 1/2 teaspoon sweet Spanish smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper; simmer 15 minutes. Yield: 6 servings.

Posted by astraea at 07:58 PM

chick'n with lemon sauce

Me: "What would you like for dinner? How about something chinese-y?"
Husband: "Sweet and Sour something?" (Asks the vegan...)
Me: "You got it!"

Of course to do any sort of traditional chinese sweet and sour sauce you'd need pineapple - which I don't keep on hand. So out came my favorite chinese cookbook that I picked up in Canada a couple years ago called "The Asian Kitchen" by Lilian Wu. Sticking with the fruity flavor theme, I picked out and altered a recipe for Chicken with Lemon Sauce - making half the batch with a fake chicken product for my vegan husband and half the batch with pork for me (the foul-hating carnivore). The sauce was so easy and tasty - super easy to whip up with ingredients found in most pantries, and very authentically chinese-y tasting (even though it's soy-sauce free)!

Chicken (Chick'n) with Lemon Sauce
4 small skinless chicken breast fillets (or equiv. Chick'n product)
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp dry sherry
1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp vegetable oil
salt and groud white pepper
chopped cilantro, spring onions, and lemon wedges for garnish

3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp lime cordial (or lime juice)
3 tbsp confectioners sugar
2 tsp cornflour
6 tbsp cold water

Arrange the chicken/chick'n (or pork!) in a single layer in a shallow bowl. Mix the sesame oil with the sherry and add 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Pour over chicken/chick'n, cover and marinate for 15 minutes.

Mix together egg white and cornflour. Add the mixture to the chicken/chick'n and turn with tongs until thoroughly coated. Heat vegetable oil in a non-stick frying pan or wok and fry the chicken/chick'n fillets for about 15 minutes until the fillets are golden brown on both sides. (Note: battering fake chick'n is a great way to get a really nice sear on it when you cook it).

Make the sauce: combine all the sauce ingredients in a small pan, adding 1/4 tsp of salt. Bring to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly until the sauce is smooth and has thickened slightly.

Cut the chicken/chick'n into pieces and arange on a serving plate (Note: I think plating on a bed of rice would work well). Pour the sauce over and garnish. Serve.

Serves 4

Posted by rebecca at 06:09 PM

Garlic Curry Burgers

Me: What should we do for dinner? I'm thinking maybe a Thai curry.

Rob: How about burgers?

Dave: How about curry burgers?

Me: Haha! Who ever heard of such a thing.

(Me does Google search. There are hundreds of results.)

Me: Holy!

These worked out really well. The flavor was a little more like an Indian than a Thai curry, and perhaps closest of all to a Malaysian. We had them on buns with roasted peppers and peanut sauce, though I thought they were just fine with traditional burger assembly as well.

2 lbs lean ground beef
1 1/2 cups sweet onion, chopped
1 egg, beaten
3 Tbl evaporated milk (I used creamer)
1 Tbl Worcestercersterireshire sauce
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbl mild curry powder
1 Tbl steak seasoning

Mix all ingredients.

Form 8 patties.


Posted by patrick at 12:05 AM

pasta salad

Once upon a time, I didn't care for pasta salad. Either it was mushy, or it was mayonaissey. Ick on both fronts. Then the nice folks at Cook's Illustrated tipped me onto the idea of using lemon juice for the acid component in a pasta salad. It's great! I love the tang of lemon, and it doesn't dissolve the pasta into mush the way vinegar does. Here's my master recipe - which launches from the Cook's Illustrated article. (You'll probably need a subscription to view the page; if you want a copy of the original article, let me know and I'll email you one!) I've included two variations I served at a picnic on Friday.

1 lb of dried pasta (orichiette is my favorite)
1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice, including the pulp
1-2 tsp lemon zest, chopped finely (or use your smallest microplane grater)
1/2 cup of oil (I usually use a good extra-virgin olive oil. Now's the time to use the precious really-good artisinal stuff; you can really taste it. You can definitely vary this, though.)
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
crushed red pepper or freshly ground pepper, depending on your additions
sea salt (again, a good time to pull out the precious good stuff)
a handful of fresh herbs, chopped or torn
3-4 cups of veggies and things

0. Prep your additions. Grill your veggies and meat, roast your peppers, crumble the cheese, tear your herbs. You get the idea.
1. Boil your pasta. Stop when it's al dente; drain. Put it in a big bowl.
2. While the pasta is cooking, whisk the lemon juice, garlic, oil, salt & pepper together.
3. While the pasta is still hot, add the veggies and meats, and pour the dressing over the top. Toss. Put aside to cool.
4. When the pasta salad has cooled to room temperature, add any cheese. (Don't do it while hot, or your cheese will melt.)

Serve! It will last a few days in the fridge. (This will serve 6-8 hungry people, with a salad.)

Summer veggies
2 bunches of asparagus
3-4 red, orange, and/or yellow peppers
2 lbs of bacon
8 oz mild feta cheese

1. Snap the tough ends from the asparagus. Brush with grilling oil (peanut or olive), and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Grill over high heat. Remove while they still have a little crunch to them, and slice into 3/4" pieces on the bias.

1. Rub peppers in a touch of grilling oil, and grill over high heat. Let the skin just start to blacken. (Alternately, you can roast them at 500 F, broil them quickly, or roast them over a gas burner.)
2. Immediately put the peppers in a paper bag, roll down the top, and let them sit for 5-10 minutes. (This will help steam the skins loose.)
3. Rinse with cool water, and pull off the skin. Open up the peppers, and remove the membranes and seeds.
4. Chop into 3/4" squares. (About the right size to let a piece of pepper fit in the dimple in an orichiette.)

everything else
1. Cook the bacon until crispy. Drain, cool, and roughly chop.
2. Snip the chives into a million tiny chive pieces.
3. Crumble the feta into a bowl.

Prepare pasta and dressing as above. (Be generous with the black pepper with this salad.) Toss in the asparagus, bacon, and peppers with the dressing. Add the feta after the salad has cooled. Adjust salt & pepper.

Crazy Asian Fusion Pasta Salad
2-3 cups Chinese Dry Sauteéd Green Beans
1.5 lbs shrimp
2-3 tbsp Chinese 5-spice
1-2 tbsp cumin
peanut oil
toasted sesame oil
Hot chile paste or oil
Black sesame seeds

1. Prepare your green beans. (Something like this should work nicely, or order extras when you get Chinese food the night before.
2. Shell & clean the shrimp. Add a few teaspoons of peanut oil to the bowl, the 5-spice, and the cumin. Toss well. Each shimp should be pretty well covered in spices.
3. Grill the shrimp until done. (1-2 minuets a side). Pull them off the grill, let cool, and cut them into small pieces (halves or quarters, depending on the size of the shrimp. You want the pieces to just fit inside the bowl of an an orichiette.)
4. When you make the dressing, use the following oils:
-- 1/4 cup mild olive oil
-- 1/4 cup peanut oil
-- a few tablespoons of toasted sesame oil
-- a tablespoon of hot chile oil/paste. (Less if you know yours is very potent.)

5. Toss all ingredients with the hot pasta & dressing, and sprinkle the top with black sesame seeds. Let cool to room temp, and serve!

Posted by shock at 09:08 AM

wasabi salmon

It's been a while! I'm trying to get back into the whole food thing and have been planning to start cooking one 'nice' meal a week; an entree and at least one cooked side dish. The dishes don't have to be complex or involved, but they should be a little bit more special than heating up a pizza or my signature one-bowl meals. In preparation, I have been updating my online recipe archive from a huge stack of magazine tears I have been collecting for years.

Last night I keyed in an easy, great looking recipe for Wasabi Salmon from InStyle magazine (Dec 2003). I'm guessing this dish would be lovely paired with simple soba noodles or white rice and a crisp little salad.

Wasabi Salmon
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon wasabi powder
1 teaspoon bottled minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil
4 6 ounce skinless salmon fillets (1 inch thick)
cooking spray

To speed preparation, heat the skillet while the fish marinates. Serve with pickled ginger and white rice topped with chopped green onions.

Combine soy sauce, wasabi, ginger, and sesame oil in a large zip-top plastic bag; add fish. Seal and marinate at room temperature 5 minutes, turning bag occassionally to coat. Remove fish from the bag, reserving marinade.

While fish marinates, heat a large non-stick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add fish; cook 3 minutes. Turn fish over. Reduce heat to medium, cook 8 minutes or until done.

Yeilds: 4 servings (1 fillet per serving)

Posted by rebecca at 01:35 PM

cheatin' halibut

Alas, the aforementioned cheatin' is not some sort of hot sardine-on-mackerel action while mrs. halibut is away (real obscure futurama reference there, sorry). The cheatin' is in the fact that...

...I'm just going to link y'all to the recipe rather than type it out. Why? Because it's on Epicurious, and we all know how to use Epicurious, or should. And I figure that pointing folks to a well-used recipe that has garnered good results gives me some karma points here even if I don't type the durn thing in.

This is one of my preferred company entrees. Crap, hope I haven't posted it here before. It's got a nice complex flavor and works especially well if you're trying to make a dish that pleases pescatarians and carnivores alike, as it's one of the meatier fish dishes I've ever had... unsurprisingly, given the title.

Notes: I suggest using low-sodium soy sauce or tamari, since as many of the other commenters indicate, it can be damn salty (and I'm speaking as a salt lover). I never bother with lemon grass and just use a few strips of lemon peel instead.

Without further ado... Ming Tsai's Osso Buco-Style Halibut.

Posted by leek at 10:59 PM

more heat

In which I continue my explorations into cooking with condiments that make my mouth happy but my tummy gurgle...this week it was Seared Chicken with Sriracha Barbecue Dipping Sauce again from the July 2004 issue of Cooking Light. Barbecue, Thai-style. Carol and Dan agreed with me that the dipping sauce was awesome, spicy and addictive but not too spicy, and I think it would go well with pretty much anything, not just chicken. Carol made a yummy salad to round out the meal. And Richter loved the smell of the fish sauce in the marinade.

Combine 1/2 cup chopped shallots, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, 4 garlic cloves, minced; stir in 1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil. Place shallot mixture in a large zip-top plastic bag; add 8 (2-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken thighs to bag. Seal and marinate in refrigerator 3 hours to overnight, turning bag occasionally.

Combine 3 tablespoons ketchup, 1 tablespoon Sriracha, 2 teaspoons honey, 1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger, 4 teaspoons rice vinegar.

Heat 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade. Add chicken to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 8 minutes or until done, turning twice. Serve with ketchup mixture. Yield: 4 servings.

Posted by astraea at 12:03 AM

turn up the heat

I found this recipe for Louisiana Crab Cakes with Creole Tartar Sauce in the July 2004 issue of Cooking Light. I made them with imitation crab meat so they were a little chewy, and I omitted the onions and peppers but still got plenty of heat from the hot pepper sauce...which I really shouldn't be cooking with either and my tummy is starting to tell me about it. But damn these were yummy. So worth it. The cakes are apt to fall apart so handle them with lots of love.

To prepare tartar sauce, combine 1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise, 3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish, 2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed, 1 teaspoon Creole mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt-free Cajun-Creole seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, stirring with a whisk. Let stand 10 minutes.

To prepare crab cakes, place 4 (1-ounce) slices white bread in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure 2 cups. Combine 1 cup breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup finely chopped onion, 1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 1 pound lumb crabmeat, shell pieces removed, 1 large egg, lightly beaten, 1 large egg white, lightly beaten; mix well. Divide crab mixture into 8 equal portions. Form each portion into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Place 1 cup breadcrumbs in a shallow dish. Dredge patties, one at a time, in breadcrumbs.

Heat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 patties; cook 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Repeat procedure with 2 teaspoons vegetable oil and remaining patties. Serve with tartar sauce. Garnish with parsley sprigs and lemon wedges, if desired. Yield: 4 servings.

Posted by astraea at 08:38 PM

Paella de pollo

Paella de pollo con alcachofas y oloroso, from The Moro Cookbook. (That's rice with chicken, artichokes and oloroso, to you and me.)

I served this as a main course alongside an arugula salad with sherry-shallot vinaigrette. It's unusual for the paellas I already knew in that it contains no saffron and no seafood. I made mine with vegetable stock, so that I could divide the dish into two pans - one with chicken and one without, but I'm sure it would be super-taste with a nice dark chicken stock, too. I served grilled prawns and lemon-sauteéd onions as well, for those who REALLY needed their seafood or an extra hit of onion.

This richly flavored rice dish is the perfect excuse to go out and find a decent bottle of old, and therefore not too sweet, oloroso and reward yourself with a tipple when you return.

Serves 6 as a starter, 4 as a main course
6 tbsp olive oil
350g boned and skinned chicken, cut into 2cm cubes
2 large Spanish onions, finely chopped
3 large globe artichokes
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
250g calasparra (paella) rice
150ml medium to dry oloroso or old dry amontillado sherry
800ml hot chicken stock (or veggie stock!)
1 small bunch fresh parsley, roughly chcopped
4 grates of nutmeg
1 lemon, in wedges
sea salt and pepper

Heat a paella or frying pan over medium to high heat and add 2 tbsp of olive oil. When hot, stir-fry the chicken for 2 minutes or until fractioanlly rare in the middle. With a slotted spoon remove the chicken and put to one side. Add the rest of the olive oil and the onions and soften over a medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring now and then. Meanwhile, prepare the artichoes. Cut each in half and each half into eight wedges. Add the artichoke to the softening onion along with the chopped garlic and cook for another 10 minutes or until the onions nad garlic have some colour and sweetness. Stir in the rice and coat in the oil and vegetables for 1 minute. (Up to this point, everything can be cooked in advance. The next stage should be started about 20 minutes before you wish to eat.)

Turn the heat to medium/high, and add the sherry. Cook off some of the alcohol for a minute, then add the stock. Bring to a gentle boil, season well at this point, then add half the chopped parsley and the nutmeg. Simmer for 10 minutes or until there is still enough stock to cover the rice. Spread the chicken evenly over the rice and then push each piece under the juice. Gently shake the pan to help prevent it sticking and turn the head down to medium-low. Cook for 5 more minutes, or until there is just a little liquid left at the bottom of the pan. Turn off the heat, cover tightly with foil, and let the rice sit for 3-5 minutes before serving. Serve with the rest of the parsley on top, a salad, and the lemons.

Posted by shock at 04:53 PM

sweet corn & basil risotto

Years ago, Tom showed me the building blocks for a flawless risotto - and it's still one of my favorite dishes for showcasing gorgeous produce. Last night I put together a sweet corn risotto with basil and a few grilled figs stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in proscuitto. I served it with an arugula salad with ollallieberry-shallot vinaigrette. This recipe serves 4 for dinner, with a salad.

2 tsp butter
1 onion or 3 shallots, chopped finely
1.5 cups arborio rice
3/4 cup white vermouth
4 ears of corn, kernels removed
a big handful of basil, sliced thinly
a vat of stock (use the cobs from the corn, if you have time!)
salt & pepper
grating cheese

8 figs
8 slices of proscuitto
a few tablespoons of goat cheese

1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pan. Slowly cook the onions until translucent. Add the rice, and toast for a moment.
2. Add the vermouth, and scrape up any tasty browned bits at the bottom. Add stock until the rice is just covered. Bring to a very gentle simmer. Keep adding stock so the rice is just covered, stirring occasionally. It will take about 20 minutes to cook. If you run out of stock, use wine or water to fill in.

a) Split your figs in half, but don't cut all the way through to the bottom. Press in a squidge of goat cheese, and press the fig back together.
b) Wrap the fig in a slice of proscuitto. Grill the package for a minute or two a side, or until the proscuitto is crispy, but not burnt.

--back to the risotto--
3. When the risotto is very close to done (~1 minute left), stir in the basil and the corn. If the risotto is done cooking, turn off the heat, stir in the basil and corn, cover the pot & let it sit for 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Serve in a wide bowl with a generous grating of hard cheese (pecorino, reggiano, or a hard Spanish cheese all work nicely), a grind of pepper, and two figs perched in the middle.

Posted by shock at 05:06 PM

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 at 08:03 PM

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 at 07:43 PM

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 at 07:25 PM

black bean quesadillas with corn salsa

Apparently I don't know how to use my broiler. I waved away the plumes of smoke, ripped off the quesadillas' burnt tops and voila! Mexican pizza. Kinda. Sure heating all of the quesadillas at the same time in the oven is faster than cooking them one at a time in a skillet but watch out!

All the quesadillas are gone, but no one ate the salsa. What gives?

To prepare the quesadillas, preheat the broiler.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic; saute 30 seconds. Add 2 cups chopped plum tomatoes, 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, and 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed; cook 5 minutes or until liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally. Place 4 (8-inch) flour tortillas on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Top each tortilla with 1/2 cup bean mixture and 3 tablespoons preshredded Mexican blend cheese; fold in half. Lightly coat tops with cooking spray. Broil 3 minutes or until cheese melts and tortillas begin to brown. Cut each tortilla into 3 wedges.

To prepare salsa, combine 1 cup frozen whole-kernel corn, 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon bottled minced garlic, and 1 red bell pepper, chopped, in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Serve with quesadillas. Yield: 4 servings.

Posted by astraea at 12:05 AM

mediterranean vegetable stew over soft polenta

I realized tonight that I haven't cooked at all since I got Richter, because I had definitely not yet witnessed the Richter Can Opener Dance. No, kitty, not for you.

Tonight's embarrassingly easy "dude I'm still recovering from my winter" dish was from the March 2004 issue of Cooking Light and would be hated by at least two people I love due to the high tomato content. I served it with a nice green salad for a fully yet unintentionally vegetarian meal.

Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 2 cups (1/4-inch) slices zucchini and 1 1/2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic, and saute 30 seconds. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, 1 (14.5-ounce) can Italian-style stewed tomatoes, undrained, and 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed; reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While stew cooks, bring 3 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add 1 cup dry polenta, stirring with a whisk. Reduce heat; simmer 3 minutes or until done, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) preshredded fresh Parmesan. Serve stew over polenta. Yield: 6 servings.

Posted by astraea at 08:20 PM

burning blog: triptych of tartines

We had our tartines for supper this evening. After Derrick's fashion, I plumbed the refrigerator for the remains of last weekend's wedding reception, and created a lovely set of tartines for dinner.

I used Acme Bread's herb slab, cut in half & then into triangles. The topping combos were:

Asparagus pesto, crispy fried pancetta, and a quick grating of fresh parmesan

Tofu spread with chunks of pepper & garlic smoked salmon

Muhommorah with white anchovy filets

I toasted them for a scant minute under the broiler, and voila! Breakfast for supper. (I had planned a salad, but suddenly the tartines were just done! I paired mine with a Greenwood Ridge Sauvignon Blanc. Unfortunately, my camera recently disappeared - so I am photoless, as well.)

Posted by shock at 10:21 PM

Lemon Rice

This is one of my favorite South Indian rice dishes. Sometimes i do the whole thing, and sometimes i just shove some fried mustard seeds, turmeric, and lemon juice onto ordinary sensible rice. This is from Dakshin by the way.


1 cup long-graned rice
2 green chiles finely chopped
a peice of fresh ginger (1inch sq) finely chopped
3 tablespoons raw peanuts
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
juice of 2 lemons (actually i usually just use one)
coriander leaves, chopped (to garnish)

Cook the rice and set aside.

For Tempering
2 tsp oil
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 red chili (chili pepper) halved
1/2 asafoetida powder
a few curry leaves

Tempering: Heat oil in heavy frying pan or skillet. Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, halved red chili, asafoetida powder, and a few curry leaves.
When the mustard seeds start to pop'n'sputter, add the finely chopped green chilies, finely chopped ginger, and peanuts. Saute for 2-3 minutes.

Add the cooked rice, ground turmeric, and salt to taste. Mix thoroughly. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice.
Garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve Hot.

Posted by tapeworm at 08:08 PM

Sri Lankan Greens

This is my favorite simple take-some-greens-and-steam-em-up dish, found in Madhur Jaffries' World Vegetarian. Almost any leafy green may be used. I often use a combination of Collards, Chard and Kale, but Mustard Greens, Cabbage, Spinach, Turnip Greens also do wonderfully.

The most important thing is to cut the vegetable into very fine shreds. Coarse stems are discarded. Rather than putting them in a salad spinner, i usually leave them a teeny bit wet- this helps with tough leaves like collards when cooking. Though i'm thoroughly addicted to fresh curry leaves, the dish will taste just fine without them.

3 tbs peanut or canola oil
15 fresh curry leaves
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into very fine rings
1 to 2 to 3 fresh hot green chiles split in half (i usually mince them)
1 pound green collards, kale, mustard greens, or chard-like stuff, well
washed and cut into fine shreds. (about 7 well-packed cups)
3/4 to 1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoons dessicated unsweetened coconut or 3 tablespoons grated fresh coconut.

Put the oil in a large wok or frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the curry leaves, onion, and green chile. Stir and fry for about 4 minutes, or until the onions have browned a wee bit. Put in the shredded vegetable, salt, and turmeric. Stir and cook until the vegetable has wilted somewhat. Cover, turn the heat down to low, and cook 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Uncover, add the coconut, then stir again. Turn off the heat.

Posted by tapeworm at 07:50 PM

Aloo Barbatti Charchari

I attended a small potluck yesterday, and the theme was indian food. It's been ages since I made my own, and even longer since I cooked vegetarian indian food, so I went to the expert, jeanne buffa, for a recipe recommendation.

The one she provided rocked the house, and everyone at the potluck loved it and requested the recipe. So, thought I would share it with you all :)

Aloo Barbatti Charchari

2 medium tomatoes, peeled & chopped
2 bay leaves or 8 curry leaves
5 potatoes (1 1/4 lb) cut into cubes
2.5 cups trimmed green beans
3 springs basil
1-2 whole red chilis
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/4 tsp asafetida
salt and pepper
6 tb ghee or butter
2 cups water

1. Place all ingredients in a heavy 3-quart pan (needs to be an iron pan or something that will be okay charring food upon), starting with the tomatoes & ending with the water. Bring to a boil over mod. high heat, reduce to moderate and boil 5 minutes

2. Reduce heat again & gently boil, partially covered for 20-25 minutes. Water should be absorbed.

3. Raise heat to high & don't stir until it begins to char. When satisfied (7-8 min?) remove from heat & let stand 5 minutes.

4. Stir and remove chilis

Carrie's notes and changes:

All crazy spices and such purchased from bombay bazaar on valencia between 16th and 17th.

I wimped out on peeling my own tomatoes, and bought canned.

Could not find any basil at safeway, went without.

Also could not find whole red chilis so just sprinkled in some chili flakes. Diced jalapenos would work too I bet.

Had to let it simmer longer than above. Either I put in too much water, or had the heat down too low, although it was always at a boil.

I felt like i wimped out on the charring a bit, when i poked at the bottom, it looks like it was more of a burning than a charring, so I stopped that part, but upon tasting, it really did have that yummy smoky flavor, so i think it worked.

I think I figured out this would be about 34 points for the whole thing (24 for the ghee, 10 for the potatoes (I used yukon gold). 5 of us at the potluck ate about half of it. I would say that it would serve about 8, at 4-5 points per serving.

Posted by carrie at 11:59 AM

creamy lasagna

Making a fairly complicated lasagna on a Friday night after work was just asking for trouble. I set the oven temperature too low, I mixed up the layers, I used these wacky no-boil lasagna noodles, it took forever to chop the vegetables, I scorched the bottom of my Dutch oven, the lasagna turned out soupy as hell. However, my brave salon attendees still managed to eat the whole thing, probably from the desperation that accompanies ravenous hunger.

I probably should have done the bechamel a couple days ago and then stuck it in the fridge. Same with the mushroom-sweet potato mixture and the spinach mixture respectively. As it was I was trying to do too many steps at once.

To make a long story short, Lasagna with Fall Vegetables, Gruyere, and Sage Bechamel from the November 2003 Cooking Light. Perfect main course for a veggie T-Day or a cozy Saturday or Sunday night dinner:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

To prepare bechamel, lightly spoon 2/3 cup all-purpose flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Place flour in a Dutch oven, and gradually add 6 cups fat-free milk, stirring with a whisk. Add 1/2 cup finely chopped onion, 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage, 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, and 1 bay leaf. Bring the mixture to a boil; cook 1 minute or until thick. Strain bechamel through a sieve over a bowl, and discard solids. Set the bechamel aside.

To prepare the filling, heat 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 1/2 cups finely chopped onion and 3 garlic cloves, minced; saute 3 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and 1 (10-ounce) package fresh spinach; saute 2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Set aside.

Combine 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, 8 cups chopped portobello mushroom caps (about 1 1/2 pounds), and 6 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled sweet potato (about 2 1/2 pounds) on a jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.

Combine 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Gruyere cheese and 3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated fresh parmesan cheese; set aside.

To prepare noodles, soak 12 precooked lasagna noodles in 2 cups warm water in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish 5 minutes. Drain.

Spread 3/4 cup bechamel in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 3 noodles over bechamel; top with half of mushroom mixture, 1 1/2 cups bechamel, and 1/3 cup cheese mixture. Top with 3 noodles, spinach mixture, 1 1/2 cups bechamel, and 1/3 cup cheese mixture. Top with 3 noodles, remaining mushroom mixture, 1 1/2 cups bechamel, and 3 noodles. Spread remaining bechamel over noodles. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese; bake an additional 10 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Yield: 9 servings.

Posted by astraea at 04:38 PM

Baked Mac n Cheese

For heather and all who love cheese... I no longer measure these ingredients cuz I make it all the time. However, you can find a simlar receipe by Alton Brown on

About 1/2 lb. of pasta (i like little shells; rigatoni or elbow work great)
Milk (about 2 cups)
Finely diced onion
Sharp cheddar (or a combination of cheddar/swiss or whatever)
Salt & pepper
Panko or bread crumbs tossed/toasted w/butter

Roux: 3 T flour + 3 T butter + 1 T ground mustard
Melt butter; whisk in flour/mustard for about 5 minutes. Add onion, milk, paprika simmer for about 10 min. Add cheese.

Pour into casserole dish, top with bread crumbs. Bake @ 350 for about 30 min. Let it sit for a bit.

Posted by carol at 12:38 PM

cauli/proscuitto pasta

I made this for lunch today - it's tangy and spicy and reallly brings out the flavor of the cauliflower, i think. The salty proscuitto compliments the capers and the vegetables, and the garlic ties the flavors together with a bit of earthy richness. Serves 2.

2 tsp butter
2 tsp capers, drained
4 oz pasta, dried (i used penne rigate; orichiette would be even better)
1 small head cauliflower
1 large/2 small cloves of garlic, minced
4 slices proscuitto (di Parma style, at least.)
half a lemon
salt, pepper, chile flakes

1. Put water on for the pasta. Put a skillet of water on for the veg & sauce.
2. Cut the cauliflower into tiny florets (dime-sized, really)
3. When the pasta water boils, cook the pasta.
4. While pasta is cooking, cook the cauliflower in the skillet o' water until it's lost most of it's crunch. (5-6 minutes? Taste frequently.) Drain the cauliflower.
5. Sautée the garlic in the butter for a few minutes over medium. Toss in the capers, cook another minute. Toss in the cauliflower, cook another minute or two. Add salt & pepper to taste, and a pinch of chile flakes.
6. When the pasta is done, reserve a little bit of the water, and drain it. Toss it in with the cauliflower. Squeeze the half-lemon over the pan. Toss. Add salt, pepper, and chile to your liking. Perhaps more lemon, if you want it tarter.
7. Portion it into two wide bowls, and tear 2 slices of proscuitto over each serving.

Posted by shock at 01:07 PM


I made these vegetarian Chili-Cheese Black Bean Enchiladas from the September 2003 Cooking Light for salon Friday night. I might try making them for the fleaclan soon; they were super-easy and I think Sophie would love them. I never would have thought of using cream cheese in the filling, but it added a yummy creamy consistency to the insides. I thank the powers that be that I live in an area where I never have to worry about having trouble finding enchilada sauce or soy crumbles in the grocery store, but chopped-up veggie burgers could sub in for the crumbles in a pinch.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup chopped onion, and saute 4 minutes or until tender. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 2 garlic cloves, minced, 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained, and 1 (12-ounce) bag frozen soy crumbles, thawed (such as Morningstar Farms), and cook 2 minutes, stirring mixture frequently.

Stir in 3/4 cup bottled salsa, and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat, and add 1/3 cup (3 ounces) block-style fat-free cream cheese, softened, and 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded reduced-fat extrasharp cheddar cheese, stirring until cheese melts.

Warm 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas according to package directions. Spread 1/3 cup of a 1 (10-ounce) can enchilada sauce in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spoon about 1/3 cup black bean mixture down the center of each tortilla, and roll up. Arrange enchiladas, seam sides down, crosswise in dish. Pour remaining enchilada sauce evenly over enchiladas, and sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheddar. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Yield: 6 servings.

Posted by astraea at 10:12 AM

Bean Poriyal

This is yet another South Indian dish i feel comfortable posting, which means i've cooked it more than once. This is a quick one, as long as you have
all your spices. A poriyal is a sauceless vegetable dish, also known as a dry curry.. This simple dish is also from Chandra Padmanabhan's book Dakshin.
So, here we go!

Bean Poriyal
prep time: 15 min, 45 if you're talking to your guests a lot cook time: 10 min
1 lb green or string beans, finely chopped into wee cubes!
2 tablespoons grated coconut
salt to taste
2 tbs water

For Tempering:
2 tbs oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tsp black gram dal (urad dal)
1 tsp bengal gram dal (yellow split peas aka chana dal)
1 red chili (chili pepper) halved
1/2 tsp asafoetida powder
a few curry leaves.

SO folks who just glanced at the potato masala may have noticed, the list of ingredients is quite similar. The hot-oil-with spices mix, also called a tarka, is often the same in a lot of south indian dishes. If you don't have urad and chana dal handy, don't fret. fret about the mustard seeds and asafoetida, though! they're cool!

Trim the ends of the beans if necessary. chope the beans finely and set aside. If using fresh ccoconut, grate and set aside. but you already have it grated, don't you?

Tempering: Heat 2 tblspoons oil in a heavy saucepan. Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, black gram dal, bengal gram dal, halved red chili, asafoetida powder, and those fresh yummy curry leaves. pop! when the mustard seeds start to sputter, add the chopped beans, salt, and 2 tbs water. Cover saucepan with a lid and simmer over a low heat until the beans are tender. Add the grated cocnut. mix thoroughly and serve hot!

for all those ingredients, there's not much to it, huh!

Posted by tapeworm at 11:54 PM

Potato Masala

I know i haven't posted in a while, but i've not only been learning how to cook indian food, i've been learning how to cook, period. In this time i've had some failures, and some actual successes, though i'm long away from making the full thali of my dreams. SO on to a simple and really tasty recipe. Potato Masala! This recipe is from Daskshin, which i will review later!

Potato Masala
prep time: 30 min. cooking time 50 min.
1 lb potatoes
2-3 green chilies (chili peppers) finely chopped
a peice of fresh ginger (2.5cm long) finely chopped
2 medium-sized onions, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, finely chopped (optional)(well, the lady sez it's optional, the worm says it's mandatory! mmmm!)
salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 cup water
1/2 cup boiled green peas (optional)(i'm okay with that)
1 handful coriander leaves, finely chopped (to garnish)

For Tempering
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black gram dal (washed urad dal)
1 teaspoon bengal gram dal (washed yellow split peas)
1 red chili
1/2 teaspoon asafoetida powder
a few curry leaves

Boil the potatoes in their jackets until cooked. Peel, mash, and set aside. or don't peel them, esp if they're those yummy yukon gold potatoes!

TEMPERING: Heat 1 tblspoon oil in a heavy saucepan. Add the mustard seeds, cumin, black gram dal, bengal gram dal, halved red chili, asafoetida powder, and the curry leaves.
When the mustard seeds start to pop, which will happen quite soon, add the finely chopped chilies, ginger, onion and totmatoes. saute for 2-3 minutes.
Add the salt to taste, ground turmeric, and 1 cup water. Cover pan with a lid. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until the onions are well cooked. Add the mashed potatoes and boiled peas (if used). Cook for another 2 minutes, until thoroughly blended. Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves. serve hot!

Posted by tapeworm at 11:34 PM


In my many travels to Fattoush I have eaten only one entree: a nomadic specialty called mansaf. This is not because the rest of the menu is wanting in any way, but simply because the first time I went to Fattoush I picked out the tastiest thing on the menu - mansaf - and discovered my dream comfort food.

Mansaf is a pyramid of tangy aged yogurt-drenched rice with a delectible core of tender lamb chunks, topped with toasted almonds. After I had it once I couldn't bring myself to order anything else on the menu. I also figured out that my husband wasn't hot on supporting my new addiction every night of the week with trips to Fattoush, so I knew I had to figure out how to make it at home. So I tried to make it. The results? One word: disaster.

I'm not exactly sure what I did wrong, but I have a couple ideas.

The first was (duh) I didn't really have a solid recipe to work with. I found a few candidates online on various sites, but in the end I just tried throwing it together. The second clue it wasn't going well was the yogurt. Although the end result was edible, the yogurt sort of clotted and it wasn't very pretty to look at; my husband thinks it was because he had picked up a no-fat variety by mistake.

If anyone out there has a Jordanian/Middle Eastern cookbook and wouldn't mind typing in the recipe; I'm game to try the experiment again!

Posted by rebecca at 10:35 AM

breakfast for dinner

This Crustless Broccoli and Cheese Quiche from the July 2003 Cooking Light has all kinds of healthy protein and calcium and vitamin C and folate, if you care about that sort of thing. I just liked it because it reminded me of Extreme Pizza's Poultry Geist. Yum. Poultry Geist.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup vertically sliced onion and 1 garlic clove, minced; saute 1 1/2 minutes. Add 5 cups broccoli florets; saute 1 minute. Spread broccoli mixture into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Combine 1 1/4 cups 1% low-fat milk, 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Swiss cheese, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 4 large egg whites, lightly beaten, and 2 large eggs, lightly beaten, in a large bowl. Pour milk mixture over broccoli mixture; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon grated fresh Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until top is golden and a knife inserted in center comes out clean; let stand 5 minutes. Serve with 6 (1-ounce) slices whole wheat bread, toasted. Yield: 6 servings.

Posted by astraea at 02:49 PM

Ricotta Spinach Pasta

Since signing up for a weekly delivery of fruit and veg, I am finding myself with more variety in the veg department. This is a good thing, as I generally panic and go for the same vegetables each week if I'm not sure what I'm making.

My delivery this week included fresh bunches of leaf spinach, which I adore. The spinach was a bit too mature for salad, so I got some ricotta to go with it. My fridge yielded a single leek (from the same delivery order). After surfing the web randomly for ideas, here's what I came up with for dinner.

"a goodly amount of spinach" (I'd guess about 6-8 loose cups cleaned and washed), 1 small leek, a clove of garlic.

also with:
3/4 lb. fettucine
(not ideal: a stubby shape like fusilli or penne rigate would have been better, but I had fettucine)
1 c. low-fat ricotta, 1 c. half and half cream, 1 tbsp. butter
a handful of grated parmesan-like cheese
(parmesan is ideal, but I only had a little bit of random sheep's-milk cheese)

also also with:
olive oil, freshly-ground black pepper, salt.

Wash and drain spinach, using only the leafy part (no tails). Place spinach on cutting board in manageable-sized handfuls and slice into 1/4-in. strips.
Wash leek thoroughly and chop fairly small. Mince garlic. (Or peel and set aside, if you're using a garlic press)
Mix ricotta and half-and-half cream together in a bowl until ricotta is evenly distributed.
Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta.

Getting down to business
In a large saucepan, heat a tbsp. of olive oil until it shimmers.
Add leek and sauté until the leeks are beginning to soften.
Add garlic and stir about until you can smell the lovely garlic smell, which is hardly any time at all.
Adding salt and pepper, add spinach and stir into the pan. Don't worry about any water on the spinach leaves -- this will steam the spinach.
Cover spinach and leeks and steam about 5 min, lifting the lid occasionally to stir things about and cook the spinach evenly. The spinach should be wilted but still bright green.
Add about a tbsp. of butter to the spinach, then pour the ricotta/cream mix into the pan, stirring again to mix. Reduce heat to med.-low and simmer uncovered for 5 min (or until the pasta is done, whichever is longer...)

When the pasta is cooked, drain thoroughly. Add pasta and sauce to a pan large enough to hold them, and toss thoroughly.

Finishing details
Bearing in mind that the cheese will thicken things up a bit...
If the sauce seems too thin, return it to the heat. If the sauce is a bit thick, add a little cream (or reserved water from the pasta, if you saved any).
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheese until it is melty and evenly distributed.
Add plenty of ground pepper and salt.


My thoughts about this recipe:
I am still struggling to reach a happy relationship with low-fat ricotta and half-and-half cream as substitutes for the full fat options in all of their glory. There's no getting around the fact that low-fat ricotta (I used the Precious one) is grainy and dry compared to the real thing. Nor is half-and-half as deliciously unctuous as real cream.

I'd certainly make this again for myself, but it's nowhere near extravagant enough for fancy dinner pasta. (The leftovers made an awesome fritatta.)

There is, however, something to be said for saving the calories for dessert...

Posted by naomi at 08:11 PM

experiments with BBQing

Ah, the weekend of the double booked bbq. BBQs are my favorite, but I was sad that two were back to back, and I'd only get to spend a little bit of time at the first one. But in other news, allowed me to create even more bbq dishes than usual!

I stuck with old standards for the first bbq (teriyaki flank steak and grilled asparagus) but busted out some new marinades for the second (orange-chili chicken, spicy prawns, japanese style portabellos). All in all, it worked out!

My flank steak marinade is the simplest thing in the world. Buy flank steak. Cut into manageable sizes. Throw in plastic bag. Pour in enough Soy Vey teriyaki sauce to cover. Let sit for 24-48 hours. Grill so they are nice and crispy on the outside, perfectly red on the inside. Big change for this attempt was I think I mastered the art of slicing it into small strips for serving afterward.

Asparagus is similarly easy. Trim hard ends, rinse, and toss in plastic bag. Pour in a bit of garlic olive oil (I use TJ brand), and grind in some fresh salt and pepper. Toss around in the bag until everything is covered, and let sit for a couple of hours. Then grill to taste (these went on while the fire was still really hot, so got just the right amount of almost burnt on one side, and then barely done on the other, and tasted perfect).

Both of these disappeared off the plate fast, as I wandered around the party offering them out. Next time, I'd make at least double portions of each.

At my other BBQ, I worked on my new dishes.

First were the japanese marinade portabellos. I was trying to replicate a marinade that banshee had done once that knocked my socks off, and found something online that looked a lot like it.

What I found called for:

¼ cup soy sauce
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons mirin
2 Tablespoons sake
¼ teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
¼ teaspoon grated garlic

I didn't have any sake, and had to go to abattoir for the mirin, and fudged some of the other ingredients (definitely used more garlic & ginger, and added some green onions, sesame oil and hot oil). The results were a bit too sweet/teriyaki for me. What banshee had made was more focused on the garlic/ginger/soy flavors, so I'm guessing his had less sugar. Next time I'll make sure I use sake, and cut the sugar a bit. And add a bit of crushed red pepper. On the other hand, they were pretty delicious, and the crowds were pleased.

The stars of the evening were the spicy shrimp. Mmmmmmm... I went to Bryan's meat and fish shop (such a great place) and bought some of the biggest most wonderful tiger prawns I've ever cooked with before. Shelled and deveined them, and put them in this marinade:

1 cup vinegar, rice
1/4 cup lime juice (I used fresh squeezed)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped (I used a cilantro herb paste instead)
2 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon oil, sesame
1 salt
1 teaspoon chili paste

God these were amazing and perfect. I probably ate half of them personally because I couldn't stop myself. Just wonderful. Next time, I'll probably try to put in more chili paste and lime juice, a little less vinegar, as those flavors didn't super stand out, but they still rocked. Can't wait to make these again.

Finally, the orange chili chicken breasts were done grilling. Here's the recipe I followed:

4 boneless chicken breast halves, with skin
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1 garlic clove, pushed through a press
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

These were okay and all, but really nothing to write home about. The orange and chili flavors just didn't really stand out much. The recipe called for 6-8 hours of marinating, but circumstances meant I had to do them for about 24. They were plenty tender and juicy and all that, but really, not that special. Probably won't do this as a repeat.

Which doesn't matter, cause oh, those tiger prawns!

Posted by carrie at 10:27 AM

Asparagus Pesto

Most recently, i paired this with puff pastry and cured salmon (see Mother's Day Brunch), but i've served it over toast (see Tad's birthday menu), mixed it with orichiette, tiny fried potato cubes, and pancetta, stirred it into israeli cous-cous served with sausages... you get the picture. Very versatile. And Beca liked it! A cooked veggie! This is definitely one for your sprint repetoire.

From the Tra Vigne cookbook.

1 large bunch asparagus, about one pound, trimmed and cooked for five minutes in boiling water.
1/2 cup packed coarsley chopped fresh basil
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
1 tbsp minced garlic
salt and pepper
about 1 cup pure olive oil
1/2 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese

Cut the aspagus spears into thirds. Put in a food processor with the basil, pine nuts, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Keep in mind that you will add Parmesan as well, so be careful not to oversalt. With the machine running, solwly add the cup of olive oil. When the sauce is about the consistency of mayonnaise, it has enough oil. Pulse in the parmesan. Thin with water if necessary to acheive a slick, saucy pesto. Scrape into a bowl or jar, cover and refrigerate until needed. You should have about 3 cups.

Caveats: I used more pine nuts (4-5 tbsp). I use about 3/4 cup virgin olive oil. I used a little less parmesan, and maybe a tiny bit more garlic. I have sucessfully done this without basil (paler green, more purely asparagus), and without the parmesan (for a vegan starter).

Posted by shock at 08:37 AM

saucy girl

I've been so busy making long-distance calls to New York that I never posted this yummy recipe I made for salon, like, weeks and weeks ago. Cavatappi with Vodka Sauce from the May 2003 Cooking Light turned into Fusilli with Vodka Sauce because I don't have the first fucking clue what cavatappi pasta looks like. The creamy/tomatoey sauce managed to infiltrate itself into every nook and cranny of the pasta with slurpilicious results.

Cook 8 ounces uncooked cavatappi (or fusilli or penne) pasta (about 3 cups) according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add 2/3 cup finely chopped onion and 1 garlic clove, minced; cover and cook 3 minutes or until tender. Add 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce; simmer, partially covered, 8 minutes or until thick. Combine 4 teaspoons all-purpose flour and 1 tablespoon water, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Add flour mixture to pan; cook 1 minute. Add 3/4 cup half-and-half, 1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat milk, 1/3 cup vodka, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper; bring to a boil. Stir in 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese. Reduce heat to low; cook 3 minutes or until cheese melts, stirring frequently. Add pasta, toss to coat. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons finely chopped basil. Yield: 4 servings.

Posted by astraea at 07:24 PM

casserole o' the barley

Thank goodness for salon, an excuse to cook! This Baked Barley with Shiitake Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions from the March 2003 issue of Cooking Light was a huge hit, and I'm eating the leftovers straight out of the pot right now (avoiding the onion chunks). I usually have trouble getting grains to be tender enough, but the slow baking did the trick. It also gave the barley the chance to soak up all the yummy mushroom flavor. Slurp.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 4 1/2 cups chopped onion (about 3 medium) and 1 teaspoon sugar; cover and cook 25 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Add 3 cups sliced button mushrooms (about 9 ounces) and 3 cups sliced shiitake mushroom caps (about 8 ounces); cook 10 minutes or until browned, stirring frequently. Add 1 1/2 cups uncooked pearl barley; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring 4 cups vegetable broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Pour broth over barley mixture; cover and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until barley is tender. Let stand 10 minutes. Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs, if desired. Yield: 6 servings

Posted by astraea at 12:27 AM

Salmon with celery root

Heather picked up a celery root tonight, in response to a list of things that go nicely with fish i supplied a few weeks ago. Here's the recipe i was thinking of - i made it about a year ago for Tammy and Todd, and served it with roasted tiny red potatoes, cut in half and cooked in salt, a bit of olive oil, and fresh rosemary from the garden. Add a salad, and you're set! The recipe is from Alison Becker Hurt's Kitchen Suppers It's very tasty, quick & easy.

Serves 2.
2 small knobs celery root, peeled (one big one is fine, too)
2 tbsp butter
1/2 c. finely chopped shallots (about 2 shallots)
1 small red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, shaved thinly
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill (i omitted the dill. i hate dill.)
salt & pepper to taste
2 12-oz skinless salmon filets
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)

1. Cut each celery root in half and trim away any nasty parts from the center. Cut it into 1/8" strips. (It's ok if they're 1/4", really. You want pieces of celery root you're happy to pick up on a fork and pop in your mouth, but not TOO small.)

2. In a large skillet, heat the butter over low heat. Add the celery root and shallots. Cook until the celery root is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the red onion, garlic, parsley & dill. Mix well. Cook until the onion is tender - about 3 minutes. Season with pepper. Remove the veg mix to another plate; leave as much of the juice as you can in th epan.

3. Increase the heat to medium-high. Lightly season the salmon with salt and pepper. Place it in the skillet and squeeze the lemon over it. Cook, turning once, until medium-rare. (About four minutes, total.) Return the celery root to the pan, smothering the salmon. Cook until the celery root is reheated, about 1 minute. Serve immediately.

Posted by shock at 07:25 PM

gentle spring pasta

Tonight Robert & Laureen came over for dinner. I didn't have a ton of prep time, but Carrie had planted the idea of "asparagus and shiitake mushrooms" in my head earlier in the day, and i spent a bit of my walk working up an idea for an entrée for the evening. The dinner worked well, i think - Campari and soda with olives to start; the pasta below as an entrée, a salad, and then some apple-caramel tarts for dessert. I think this pasta would be good with any sort of spring veggies - i was especially pleased that it wasn't too heavy at service.

pancetta (sliced thickly, like bacon)
shiitake mushrooms
Navarro Chardonna Verjus (any other white wine verjus would be fine; if you can't find verjus, use a bit of vinegar with some white wine to sub in.)
a few capers
fresh thyme
fresh parmesan

Fry the pancetta until it's crisp. Remove to a paper towel; reserve the pancetta fat. (I poured off half of it, and left the rest in the pan to cool for the next step. If you're prepping a sweet apple tart on the other counter, make sure to keep very clean between handling the bacon and the tart crust. ;) )

Snap the thick ends of the asparagus; slice the rest on the bias to about the length of a penne. Clean, stem, and thickly slice the mushrooms. Pull the thyme leaves from their stems.

Put on a pot of water to boil.

Once the pan is coolish, turn it back up to medium, toss a small amount of butter in on top of some of the pancetta grease, and sautée the shiitakes until they are crispy around the edges, but still soft inside. Let them give up about half of the water.

Let the pan cool a bit, add the rest of the pancetta fat, a touch of butter, and when it's medium-hot, add the asparagus. Keep shaking the pan. After a minute or two (you want it to brown up a bit, but it won't be tender at all yet) throw in some verjus (maybe a third of a cup for a whole bundle of asparagus?) and put a lid on the pan for a minute or two to let it steam. Remove the asparagus and reserve the deglazing liquid.

When you have a moment, rough-chop your pancetta.

Add your penne to the pot when it's boiling; cook it 'till al dente.

Find your largest skillet. Brown some butter. Toss in they thyme (it will pop), and then the capers. Stir it about. Throw in the reserved deglazing liquid, a little more verjus, and a little wine. Salt. Pepper. Let this come to a simmer, reduce heat to low.

When the pasta is done, drain it and toss it straight into the skillet. Turn up the heat; add a little more butter, salt and pepper. Toss in the asparagus and pancetta. Turn to heat and coat. Put the pasta on a large plate; grate fresh parmesan generously over the top. Mound a handful of your shiitaakes in the middle. Serve.

Posted by shock at 11:25 PM

miso-marinated beef salad

I'm marking this as an entree rather than a salad, as both times i've made it i've served it as the primary or meat course. It's a lovely balance - the slight bitterness of the greens plays perfectly against the sweet/spicy dressing, and the beef is just plain fantastic, with the carmelized mirin and miso crust. The pic to the right is the plating i used for tonight's dinner. I used this with a fancier plating for the 2001 NYF meat course.

The recipe is taken from Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani's Terra, a fantastic example of a high-gloss vanity restaurant cookbook that actually delivers delicous, accessible recipes. I'd highly recommend it - more than half the dishes from NYF 2001 were inspired by this book. I have a date with Beca to someday (someday!) take a day trip to Napa and try eating the originals.

Serves 4.

Miso Marinade & Steak
1 tbsp red miso paste
2 tbsp plus 1.5 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp grated and peeled fresh ginger
1/4 tsp grated garlic
1 tbsp Asian sesame oil
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp mirin

1 12-oz New York steak, trimmed of fat and silverskin.

Whisk together all of the ingredients. Add the steak, cover & marinate for at least an hour, but up to 24. (I usually do this inside a ziplock, and sit the ziplock inside a 9x9 cake pan.)

Ginger-Mustard Vinaigrette
1 1/2 tsp peeled and chopped ginger
1/4 tsp chopped garlic
1/4 c. rice vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp packed brown sugar
1.5 tsp Asian sesame oil
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp corn oil (i use olive when i don't have corn.)
2.5 tsp Dijon mustard

Purée all ingredients in a blender for 1 minute. Strain and set aside.

Vegetable Salad
1 Japanese cucumber, halved lengthwise and cut on the diagonal into 1/8 inch thick slices about 2 inches long.
1/2 carrot, peeled, halved lengthwise on the diagonal to the same size as the cuke.
2 tbsp thinly sliced red onion
a handful of haricot verts (or some blue-lake beans!) stemmed & blanched
1 tbsp crushed red peanuts
a bunch of weeds & fronds (mesclun or other small-leaf lettuce mix)

To finish the dish:
Remove the steak from the marinade. Grill the steak for 1-2 minutes per side on a grille or in a grill pan. Broiling would work in a pinch, too. Grill it longer if you like it more cooked, less if you like it still bleeding. Cut the steak into strips.

Toss the weeds & fronds with the vinaigrette. Toss the beans and carrots in a bit of the vinaigrette.

Plate some salad, some veggies, and the steak in the middle.

Fancy Elements
Fried Rice Noodles
Heat 3 inches of oil in a large saucepan to 350F. Add a few rice noodles at a time, and watch them puff. Remove them while they're still white, after about 30 seconds. Remove the noodles to some paper towels. (This is a lot like watching shrimp chips puff, but they curl, too! Lots of fun.)

Radicchio bowls
Acquire 8 large radicchio leaves. Fit two together into a bowl.

Plate It!
Place a radicchio bowl in the middle of a plate. Divide your weeds and fronds into the bowl. Layer the vegetable salad on top of the greens. Layer the steak on top; garnish with a few fried rice noodles, a sprig of cilantro, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

Posted by shock at 08:32 PM


This is a vegetarian recipe which came into our family years ago, from a newspaper to which I would happily give proper credit if I could remember which one printed it. The green is tomatillos, and the gold is winter squash.

We usually have this for Christmas Eve dinner, so the vegetarians have leftovers to eat for Christmas dinner without the cooks needing to do much in addition to the turkey. It's southwestern-ish, and is pretty much a complete meal, though salad and/or bread are always nice.

1 26 oz. can tomatillos, drained
2 7 oz. cans poblano chiles
3 T oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 onions, chopped
1 t cumin
1 t oregano
1/2 t salt (originally said 1)
2.5 # butternut, kabocha or pumpkin, peeled and cubed
1 28 oz. can tomatoes, drained
2 C corn
1 C kidney beans
2 T cilantro

Saute garlic and onion. As they're cooking, puree tomatillos with chiles, set aside. Add the puree, spices, and squash to the onions. Cook until the squash is tender, about 30 minutes. Add the tomatoes, corn, and beans and heat through. Add cilantro to the pot, or pass it at the table if you have those weird people who think cilantro tastes like soap.

Posted by andrea at 09:05 PM

Polenta with Tomato, Mushrooms, and Blackeye Peas Made this as a side dish last night, but it could easily be converted to a main course.

16-ounce tube of organic polenta, divided into 16 slices
8 ounces sliced button mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp fresh minced parsley
14 1/2 oz can diced tomatoes, "italian herb-flavored" in juices
6 oz fresh blackeye peas (if pre-cooked, don't simmer as long)
Cooking spray
2 tbsp Olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 F.
Saute' mushrooms, garlic in olive oil until soft. Mix in parsley, tomatoes, and blackeyed peas. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. In the meanwhile, prepare the polenta.
Coat baking sheet with cooking spray, place polenta slices on sheet, lightly brush polenta with olive oil. Bake 5 minutes or until polenta is lightly browned.
Stir sauce.
Flip polenta slices, lightly brush with oil, and bake 5 more minutes.
Season sauce with salt and black pepper to taste. Simmer until fairly thick and chunky. Blackeye Peas should be tender but not mushy.
Spoon sauce over polenta.

Serves 4.

Posted by todd at 07:43 PM

veryyum lofat burgers

These Greek turkey burgs have been a favorite of mine for a few years. They're
so super yummy and um piquant n shit. The recipe's from Cooking Light,
summer '97.

So so yum.

Greek Feta Burgers

1 10-oz pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
1 T lemon juice
1/4 t pepper
1 egg white, lightly beaten
3/4 lb ground turkey (orig. recipe called for lamb; ew.)
1/2 c crumbled feta
1/4 c chopped fresh mint or 4 t. dried mint flakes
Cooking spray
4 onion buns
1/2 c. diced tomato
Cucumber-Dill Sauce (combine 1/4 c peeled, seeded, diced cuke, 1/4 c
plain lowfat yogurt, 1/2 t chopped fresh or 1/8 t dried dill, 1 minced garlic
clove, stir well.)

Combine first 4 ingredients in bowl, stir well. Add meat, cheese, and mint;
stir well. Divide mixture into 4 half-inch-thick patties. Grill or broil 5 min.
per side (CL says to spray grill rack with cooking spray.) (or, I guess,
George 'em!) Place patties on buns with 2 T chopped tomato and 2 T
cuke-dill sauce.

Posted by leek at 04:31 PM

snap! bang! pow!

I sprung this Firecracker Vegetable Roast from the Jan/Feb 2003 Cooking Light on my unsuspecting salon attendees on Friday night, and it made a big hit among those who dared it. The flavors are really unique, kind of Indian merged with Italian (in a good way, honest). I took the seeds out of the jalapeno for safety's sake, but it was still plenty hot. After my guests left I had some hardcore grubbin' on the leftovers.

Preheat oven to 450.

Place 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce, 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon curry powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 3 garlic cloves (halved), and 1 jalapeno pepper (halved) in a food processor; process until smooth.

Combine basil mixture, 2 cups cauliflower florets, 2 cups broccoli florets, 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced fennel bulb (about 1 small bulb), 1 cup red bell pepper strips, 1 cup yellow bell pepper strips, and 1 cup thinly sliced red onion, tossing well to coat. Arrange vegetable mixture on a jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray.

Bake at 450 for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Add 1 medium tomato, cut into 12 wedges, and 1 (15 1/2-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained; bake an additional 5 minutes. Serve over 6 cups hot cooked basmati rice.

Posted by astraea at 09:45 PM

boeuf a la bourguignonne

This is one seriously meaty entrée - it is so rich and tasty. It's definitely just right for a rainy day and night, when you have many hours to let it cook, warm up your home, and make things smell delicious. I prefer mine served with simple mashed potatoes; Russell prefers his with big pearly israli-style couscous. Leftovers are divine on day two. Make sure to start early enough; the first time i cooked this i started at 5:00 pm and we didn't eat until 10:30. don't let the number of steps intimidate you - this is an easy and inexpensive dish; there's plenty of wait time while things simmer. Serve this with your favorite starch and a simple leafy green salad, and comfort is nigh. Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated, Jan/Feb 2001, pp.12-14.

Beef Braise
6 oz slab bacon, trimmed of rind, and cut into lardons [note: the original calls for salt pork here. I keep a ziplock of bacon lardons in my freezer for dishes like this.]
10 sprigs fresh parsley
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 medium onions, chopped coarsely
2 medium carrots, chopped coarsely
1 medium garlic head, cloves seperated and crushed but unpeeled
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed
4-4.5 lbs chruck roast, trimmed of silverskin and fat and cut into 1-2 inch chunks
salt & ground black pepper
4 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/3 c all purpose flour
3 cups of veg stock or chicken stock or water
1 bottle of wine, preferably red burgundy or pinot noir
1 tsp tomato paste

Onion and Mushroom Garnish
36 pearl onions (about 7 oz) [note: frozen work fine]
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
10 oz white mushrooms, whole, halved, or quartered according to size.
2 tbsp brandy
3 tbsp fresh parsley leaves, minced

1. If using salt pork instead of bacon, boil for 2 minutes and drain.

2. Put whole parsley, thyme, onions, carrots, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, porcinis in a stockpot or non-reactive dutch oven. [note: the original recipe says to wrap this up into a bundle in cheesecloth, but i usually don't and just strain it all out in the end. I'm forever out of cheesecloth, for some dumb reason.] If you want to cook this in the oven, put the rack in the bottom and turn the oven to 300 degrees F.

3. Set a skillet with the bacon over medium heat; sautée until lightly brown and crisp, around 12 minutes. Remove to your pot or dutch oven; pour off all but 2 tbsp of the rendered fat and reserve. Season your beef chunks with salt and pepper. Increase heat to high, and brown them in a single layer until deep brown. Turn them once or twice. Do this in several batches if you need to, adding more pork fat as needed. Transfer cooked beef into the pot/dutch oven. Deglaze the skillet with a half-cup of water.

4. Return the skillet to medium heat; add butter. When foaming subsides, add flour and cook to a light peanut-butter colored roux. (About 5 minutes.) Gradually whisk in your stock; increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened. (Congrats! You've just made a thinnish velouté sauce!) Pour mixture into your pot/dutch oven. Add 3 cups of wine, tomato paste, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Cover and set in oven or turn your gas down to warm, and cook for 2.5 to 3 hours - until the meat is tender.

5. Remove pot from oven/from heat. Use tongs to remove your cheesecloth bundle, if you made one. Put the bundle over a strainer and press out the liquid. Remove the meaty bits with a slotted spoon or your tongs. If you haven't used cheesecloth, strain the liquid into a bowl or another pot. Let it settle, and skim the fat off the top.

6. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium-high heat. Simmer briskly, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is reduced to about 3 cups and is the consistancy of heavy cream.

7. While the sauce is reducing, bring the pearl onions, butter, sugar, salt, and a half a cup of water to a boil in a medium skillet over high heat; cover and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, shaking pan occasionally. Uncover, increase the heat to high, and simmer until all the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms & cook, until the liquid released by the mushrooms is gone and the veggies are browned and glazed. Transfer the veggies to a large plate and set aside. Deglaze the pan with a quarfter cup of water. Add this to the reducing sauce.

8. When the sauce has reduced to about 3 cups, and thickened to the consistency of heavy cream, reduce heat to medium low. Stir in beef, mushroom s and onions, the reamining wine from the bottle, and brandy. Cover pot and cook until just heated through. Adjust seasonings and serve with minced parsley sprinkled over each portion.

Posted by shock at 08:16 AM

Pork Loin with Morel Stuffing

Our friends April and Ryan brought this over for dinner one evening and it was amazing. The loin is packed with the tender and mild morel stuffing. I don't even like mushrooms and I couldn't get enough of this stuffing and would recommend doubling it! Not an easy recipe but the results are so worth it.

1 1/2 ounces small dried morels (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped shallot
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup fine fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves (wash and dry before
a 3- to 3 1/2-pound center-cut boneless pork loin (about 3
1/2 inches thick)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 cups rich veal stock or demiglace

In a small bowl soak morels in boiling water for 30 minutes and transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Pour soaking liquid through a sieve lined with a dampened coffee filter or paper towel into a small saucepan and
simmer until reduced to about 1/3 cup, about 10 minutes. Add one third morels and reserve. Finely chop remaining morels. Morels may be prepared up to this point 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a large skillet heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and saute shallot and garlic until softened. Transfer mixture to a
bowl and stir in chopped morels, bread crumbs, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Stuffing may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring stuffing to room temperature before proceeding.

To make a hole for stuffing that runs through center of pork loin, pat loin dry and, beginning in the middle of one end, with a long, thin, sharp knife make a lengthwise incision toward center of loin. Repeat procedure from opposite end of loin (to complete hole running through middle). With handle of wooden spoon or your fingers open up incision to create a 1 1/2-inch wide opening. Working from both ends of loin, pack stuffing into opening, pushing towards center. Season outside of loin with salt and pepper.

In skillet heat remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil over high heat until hot and just about smoking, and brown loin on all sides, about 1 1/2 minutes total. Transfer loin to a
flameproof roasting pan and roast in middle of oven for about 1 hour, or until a meat thermometer inserted in center of meat (but to the side of the stuffing) registers 160F. Transfer loin to a cutting board and let stand 10

While loin is standing, on top of stove add lime juice to roasting pan and deglaze over moderate heat, scraping up brown bits. Add stock or demiglace and reserved morel liquid with morels and simmer sauce, stirring occasionally,
5 minutes.

Slice pork loin and serve with sauce.

Serves 6.

Posted by mo at 12:22 PM

Pig on Coke

Christmas Day is my day for cooking, what I consider, I large meal for my family of about ten. It usually involves pork of some sort.

I watch far too much food-related TV and came across America's Test Kitchen show on fresh, brined ham. Perfect!

The receipe has an "alternative" brine option that calls for cola instead of water which I chose. With the glaze du jour: Spicy Pinapple-Ginger

First, the quest for the perfect fresh ham. Our regular source for all things meat is Dittmer's (in Mt. View) which for some reason was closed on Dec 23. We headed down to Dreyger's in Los Altos where we grabbed the last bone-in shank - a whooping 16 lbs.! I am a baker, not a cook so when I receipe calls for a 6-8 lb. fresh, shank ham, that's what I'm going to get. Tom assures me that this mammoth pig will do fine. Hmph.

6 liters of cola (not diet)
3 cups of Kosher salt
2 heads of garlic, pealed and slightly smashed
6 bay leaves
1/2 cup of cracked peppercorns

You can brine for as little as a few hours or as long as 24; I went for 24 just because I had other stuff to cook the day of. I used a medium-sized cooler, lined it with a plastic garbage bag and poured in the brine and pork. I threw this in my extra refridgerator (or just use ice packs at the bottom of the cooler and store somewhere cool) for the night. Scoring the ham was quite a challenge for me; this receipe calls for this to be done before you brine.

First step is to take the ham out of the brine, rinse and dry it throughly and let it sit out for about an hour.

I used fresh sage, parsley, garlic, salt and olive oil to make a nice rub for my ham. Then I glazed it about every 45 min. Oven should be at 500 degrees for 20 min. and then at 350 degrees. Cook until internal temperture of the ham is around 150-160.

Spicy Pinapple-Ginger Glaze
1 cup pineapple juice
2 cups packed dark or light brown sugar
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, grated (I used a bit more cuz I like it)
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

Bring all ingredients to a boil in small nonreactive saucepan over high heat; reduce heat and simmer until syrupy and reduced to about 1 1/3 cups, 5 to 7 minutes.

I stand by every brined fowl or foe I've eaten; brining wins hands down for producing flavorful, moist meat. Try it next time you're making a lovely chicken, turkey or HAM!

Posted by carol at 02:56 PM

sauteed garlic shrimp

Shrimp freeze well, are easy to defrost, and quick to cook. Even when food stocks in the pantry dwindle, I usually have some frozen shrimp on hand to play with.. which probably explains why my last posting also featured shrimp! This one is quick and super easy. I got it from Martha's January 2003 'What's for Dinner?' section (page 132). I opted to eat it over rice this evening, but it would definitely be fantastic over pasta.

Sauteed Shrimp
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 - 3/4 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
splash of dry white wine
salt and pepper
lemon wedges for serving

1) Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until soft but not browned (about 1-2 minutes). Add shrimp, parsley, oregano, and pepper flakes, stirring frequently for 2 minutes until shrimp are bright pink and opaque.
2) Raise heat and add wine. Continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper. Serve with lemon wedges on the side.

Serves 2 (Eat one serving for dinner, save the other half for tomorrow's lunch!)

Posted by rebecca at 08:41 PM

grrrr meat

Yes, another slab o' meat recipe. It doesn't call for roasting a small woodland creature on a spit over a campfire flame, however, which would make it perfect for a LOTR viewing.

Take a 3-pound sirloin tip roast and rub it with a mixture of ground coriander seeds, cracked black pepper, kosher salt, and crushed garlic cloves. Bake at 450 for 20 minutes, then another 40 minutes at 300. Take it out, pitch a tin foil tent over it, and let it stand another 15 minutes. For sauce, combine prepared horseradish, stone-ground mustard, and white vinegar. Kitchen science fact: the rub turns into a yummy crust on the roast beef! Slice and serve with sauce. Add a vegetable and a starch if you're actually in the mood for a balanced meal. Hah.

Posted by astraea at 09:30 PM

Danger Dinner: Mongolian Lamb Burrito

I've been wanting to try some variation on Mongolian Hot Pot for a while. This dish was one of the great successes of a short-lived program in my house when I was a kid, where one meal a week would be "international" - we'd pick a country, and the kids would find a recipe, assist in cooking it, scrawl the national flag in question on a paper to be tacked to the dining room wall for the duration, and we'd eat.

International Dinner Night didn't last all that long, but we had Mongolian Hot Pot - lots of sliced meats and veggies brought to the table raw, and a big electric skillet full of broth - once in a while for years to come.

Yesterday I went out to get ingredients for MHP - carrots, bean sprouts, bok choy, and a bit of lamb. Everything else was already in the house. However, meriko's been working late this week, so I finally gave in and improvised something between a mu shu lamb dish and a burrito tonight.

Julienne one medium carrot, slice one stalk of celery, pull out a quarter-cup of the bamboo shoots you've been saving since you made danger curry. Drop a cup of rice and 2 cups water into the rice cooker and fire it up. Slice up 1/3 lb. of lamb chop. Make a sauce to your taste: I used soy sauce, turkey stock, peanut butter, mirin, hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, chili sauce, and five spice - danger dinner fans will recognize this as pretty similar to my danger noodle sauce, but you should grab whatever you think will taste good. I went heavy on the soy sauce and mirin, letting the sauce be very salty-sweet, on the basis that the blandness of the rice was going to cut the flavor of the other stuffings. I don't think my sauce was very Mongolian, but neither was the Bornschlegel family's hot pot, truth be told. Put a little peanut oil in the sauté pan, fire it up, and cook your stuffings. I cooked the carrot and celery first with just a tiny bit of the sauce (trying to let them retain their basic flavor), then took them out and put in the lamb, bamboo shoot, a handful of bean sprouts, and the rest of the sauce, cooking that down until it was thick and gooey. I then threw that in the bowl with the carrot and celery.

Finally, put a dry pan on medium heat, warm a tortilla in it (I had little fajita size tortillas on hand, though my Original Vision was of a full sized burrito), scoop in about three parts rice to two parts lamb-n-veggies-mixture. It's easy to overfill if you're not a professional burritista, so watch it. Fold it up burritowise, and if you're so inclined, put it back in the pan to crisp the shell a bit - I find this helps hold the burrito together; this is our basic technique for morning tofu-sausage scramble meals on weekends, as well. Chomp chomp! The rice makes it less intense than something like mu shu pork, palatable for a burrito-sized serving, even if your sauce is seriously concentrated.

The concept of a Chinese burrito gains some extra appropriateness in light of the fact that I got some of the ingredients at one of the groceries down on Mission that serves both hispanic and asian communities, carrying a plethora of ethnicities' worth of food.

Oh! I should also point out how easy this would be to adapt to veganity - tofu instead of lamb, veg broth instead of turkey, check the ingredients going into the sauce, and you're set!

Posted by russell at 09:24 PM

the salmon, again

It was so yummy and easy the first time, I had to make the Miso-Glazed Salmon again tonight. For a different audience, of course. The glaze is just a mixture of brown sugar, soy sauce, hot water, and miso spooned over salmon before broiling the fish for 10 minutes. It carmelizes like magic.
And then Patrick made his white chocolate and kiwi crepes.

Posted by astraea at 09:50 PM

danger curry and coconut rice

Yep, here's Russell with another Danger Dinner. This time around I wanted to do something with our coconut rice recipe — one of the yummiest side dishes we eat around here, almost a meal in itself. I figured some chicken curry would be a good companion dish.

The coconut rice bakes for 18 minutes after some initial stovetop work, which makes it (a) good to help warm up the living room on chilly days and (b) clears off the range for other cooking. After it went in the oven, I started working on my curry. I cooked up some chicken, some thinly sliced bits of carrot, some red bell pepper, and some bamboo shoots. To this I added cubed tofu, a couple of teaspoons of yellow curry paste (Thai Kitchen brand, highly concentrated stuff, use with caution), some chicken stock, the rest of the can of coconut milk opened for the rice, some Thai fish sauce, and a few teaspoons of sugar, and simmered it all togther for a while. When the coconut rice came out, I shoveled a couple ladlesful into a bowl, scooped some of the curry over it, and served.

The result was pretty good, better than "just edible", but I made a tactical error putting the curry together. I should have sauteéd the dry ingredients in a frying pan rather than saucepans; meriko explained to me that the confines of a deep pan tends to retain moisture, steaming your food instead of browning it. Furthermore, the wet ingredients would have tended to boil off, leaving a thicker sauce behind instead of the watery thing I had.

The flavor of the curry was a bit on the bland side (except for heat); a better caramelization of the chicken, carrot, and pepper might have improved it; meriko also suggested more fish sauce (the fishy flavor of it hit me hard when I first put it in the pot, but it mellows and blends rapidly with everything else) and fresh basil (which, dammit, we had in the frig, slowly wilting, I saw it earlier today and tried to remind myself to use it!). On the bright side, the coconut rice is sooooo good, I could have just served the tofu, raw, on top of it, and it would have been edible, so any failings of the curry didn't ruin the meal, and maybe next time I can make it a bit better.

That's all the time we have tonight on Danger Dinner! Tune in next week for another exciting adventure!

Posted by russell at 09:48 PM

Audrey's biscuits

I made Audrey's biscuits yesterday. I used butter, instead of shortening, because I am lazy and butter is easier to measure. I realized, half way through, that I don't have a rolling pin, so the biscuits were hideous looking hand patted things (I have no patience for patting when biscuits are coming).

We cut them in half, topped them with (natch) more butter and honey for a true Southern biscuit. Scrambled eggs on the side were much less important, but filled out the meal.

I forgot how easy these are. And how addictive.

Use a lot of extra flour for kneading/rolling them (1/4 cup I'd say) since this is a very wet dough. Don't skimp on the rolling. Roll more. And again. It's good for you.

Audrey's biscuit recipe

2 cups flour
3 teasp baking powder
1/2 teasp. salt
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cups milk
oven 450

put dry ingredients together, cut in the shortening
til like coarse crumbs. a long tined fork is good for
this. add milk all at once, stir quickly with a fork
til dough follows fork around the bowl. turn onto a
lightly floured surface, knead gently 10 to 12 strokes
pat it flat and cut with a glass dipped in flour (or
use a biscuit cutter) bake on ungreased pan at 450 for
12 to 15 minutes.

Serves 1. Maybe 2, if they're really really cute and you love them.

Posted by heather at 07:32 PM

killing my lobster

oh. my. god.

Tonight i killed my first lobsters. (Thank you, anne!) Full menu and report to follow later, but the lobster for now:

We killed them with a swift chef's knife through the brainstem, just between the eyes, and then bisected the heads. We followed with a full bisection; if you were lucky, you had a chick lobster, full of coral. We packed the bodies with butter, and threw them on a medium-fire grill. Served with more melted butter, they were fantastic. Feeding Carol a thumb-sized piece of coral dipped in melted butter may have been even better than eating them myself.


Posted by shock at 11:09 PM

appley goodness

I hate winter, but fall is great. Fall means good clothes and London and APPLES. Tonight I took a slice of country levain bread, spread mayo and Dijon mustard on it, topped it with arugula, turkey breast, slices of Pink Lady apple, Havarti cheese. A few minutes broiling in the toaster oven until the cheese bubbles, and yum! Just beware the turkey grog.

Posted by astraea at 09:19 PM

chinese danger noodles

meriko's made me tan tan noodles (aka dan dan noodles) several times — tasty fat noodles in a rich peanut sauce — and tonight I made them for the second time. The basic recipe is in Terry Durack's Noodle cookbook, but tonight it was Danger Noodle: No measuring, and a very loose attitude toward the printed ingredient list. So that's what you get from me, hope that's okay, here we go.

First I put water on to boil while I worked on the sauce. I started with some peanut oil in a saute pan, with just a little additional touch of sesame oil for additional flavor. I chopped up a couple of shallots and a couple of cloves of garlic and threw them, plus a handful of sesame seeds, over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes, then added half a pound of ground turkey. By the book you should toast the sesame seeds in the pan until they start to brown before adding the oil. Tofu or ground pork would be fine too. Salt, pepper, and five-spice. Fresh ginger, grated, would be good, but I didn't have any.

Next add lots of peanut butter. The recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of either sesame paste or peanut butter — we haven't tried the sesame paste route yet — but I think I used about twice that much. Meat or veg stock goes in to dissolve the peanut butter; keep adding it as needed. The sauce needs to be pretty thick to stick the meaty/tofu bits to the noodles, but add a lot of stock at the beginning to get the peanut butter mixed in.

Ideally you're going to season this to be a bit sweet, tangy, and as spicy-hot as you like it. For the sweet, you can use mirin (sweet cooking sake) or plain ol' sugar; I probably oversweetened. Recipe calls for two teaspoons sugar. For tangy, chinese black vinegar is probably best, but I ran out and added a little balsamic vinegar and some champagne vinegar. Recipe calls for one tablespoon, but keep adding it until it balances the sweet. I didn't add enough and the sweet dominated. I should have used some worcestershire sauce, too; if you have some asian fishie sauce, that works. Soy sauce and white vinegar would probably do in a pinch. For spicy-hot, I used Thai sriracha chili sauce, a squirt in the sauce and the bottle brought to table for individual seasoning — meriko likes hers far spicier than I do. The recipe calls for chili oil, but whatever you have for heat will work fine, whole chilis, chili powder, transuranic oxides.

At some point in there you throw your noodles in the boiling water. I used about 6 ounces of dry wide-flat udon and cooked 8 minutes; this was just enough for the two of us. Obviously fresh noodles weigh more and take far less cooking time. We've found frozen fresh udon at asian markets which has the chew of fresh but keeps in the freezer forever.

Get the sauce to the right consistency by alternately adding stock and/or water and cooking over medium heat. You're looking for something a bit thicker than a thick italian tomato sauce in consistency. The peanut butter and sugar will keep it plenty thick. Drain and rinse the noodles, dish it up in a wide bowl, apply the sauce generously. If the sauce is thick enough the chunky bits won't all fall off the noodles.

The recipe suggests blanched bean sprouts and chopped green onions for garnish; we usually don't bother.

Posted by russell at 10:22 PM