Wednesday, January 11, 2017

i can't even

Because some days, you literally can't even. And when those days happen, you go home, pour a pint of cream into a pan of freshly sauteed mushrooms, pull out your favorite pasta shape, and call it dinner.

Creamy Mushroom Pasta
slightly adapted from Food52
serves 4-6

1 lb. farfalle, or pasta of your choice
1 lb. portobello mushrooms, cut into 1-inch chunks
4 T. butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 c. beef broth
2 c. heavy cream
1 T. balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste
grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta to al dente, drain, and set aside.

2. Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a large, deep skillet. Add the mushrooms and garlic and sauté until the liquid the mushrooms release is evaporated. Add the cream, broth, and balsamic and bring it all to a boil. Let boil for about 15-20 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened to your desired consistency. Season it to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Add the pasta to the sauce, and stir to thoroughly combine. Garnish with Parmesan, and serve immediately.

Monday, January 9, 2017

good with the bad

For as fancy-steakhouse as tonight's dinner looks, it was truly an exercise in cleaning out the fridge.

The steak is from a well-intentioned plan for a steak (and roasted cauliflower!) riff on Caesar salad, but let's be real about how salad is not going to happen during Storm Watch 2017 here in used-to-be sunny Los Angeles.

The potatoes were left over from a lovely Prime Rib Dinner Party on Saturday. I tried taking a photo and posting then just to space out and not overload my posts with too many recipes, but as delicious as they are, there's really no good photo that can be taken of this potato-cheese lava.

And the Brussels sprouts? Beats me. They were in the crisper. I forget why I bought them. I think they were the oldest thing in there, though, so into the saute pan they went with some butter.

The steak was just okay. I halved both the sugar and the bourbon in the original recipe's marinade because so many of the comments complained about the results, and I think balance-wise, it made the most sense for my palate. It's flavorful enough considering how little time it takes to put together, but I'd go with a more aggressive flavor profile next time.

The potatoes, though, are the complete star. If mashed potatoes and fondue had a love child, it would be pommes aligot. There is an obscene ratio of cheese/cream-to-potatoes, and while it doesn't take much to fill you up, you also won't be able to stop. The biggest problem with adding this to the Thanksgiving menu is figuring out how much is enough to make for a large group, in light of folks' tendency to go for it on that special day.

Sugar Steak with Bourbon
slightly adapted from Food52
serves 2

1 1-lb. piece of flank steak
2 T. brown sugar
2 T. bourbon
salt and red pepper flakes to taste

1. Lightly cross-hatch both sides of the steak.

2. Rub each side of the steak with 1 T. brown sugar. Place the steak in a shallow dish, and pour the bourbon over. Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes, flipping the steak halfway through.

3. Heat the broiler and lay the steak on a cast-iron pan. Generously season the steak all over with salt and red pepper flakes, to taste. Place the steak 4-6 inches under the broiler, and broil for 3 minutes on each side for medium rare. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes, then cut into 1/4-inch slices. Serve immediately.

Pommes Aligot
from Serious Eats
serves 8-10

1 1/2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 clove garlic
2 sprigs rosemary
8 T. butter
1 c. heavy cream
10 oz. mixed Alpine cheeses, grated (I used Swiss and Gruyere)
salt to taste

1. In a large saucepan, cover the potatoes and garlic with cold water by at least 2 inches. Add the rosemary. Season the water with salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until a knife easily pierces potatoes with no resistance, about 20 minutes. Drain potatoes in a colander; discard rosemary.

2. Return the potatoes to the saucepan with the butter and cream. Blend with an immersion blender until completely smooth.

3. Set the saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir and work the potatoes, lowering the heat to low if potatoes begin to sizzle and steam, until the potato mass feels thickened and sticky, about 3 minutes.

4. Add the grated cheese in small batches, stirring between each addition until cheese is fully melted and incorporated. Continue stirring potatoes until they become thick, silky, smooth, and elastic, about 3 minutes longer. The aligot should form long, stretchy strands when you lift it from the pot. Season with salt and serve immediately.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

so simple

Really? This is it?

That's what I thought to myself when I first read this recipe. You just bake the fish in the tiniest bit of rice wine, and it doesn't stick and make an unholy mess? And then you just pour on some ginger-spiked oil, and a salty-sweet soy concoction, and it's enough flavor to carry some plain ol' tilapia over some white rice?

Turns out, the answer is yes. This could not have been simpler, faster, or more satisfying. Ever the skeptic, I did sub out half of the vegetable oil in the ginger oil for sesame oil, and I sauteed some baby bok choy in more sesame oil to round out and add some healthy color to the dish, but truly, that's it.

It's simple comfort is similar to Hainanese chicken rice - no crazy complex flavors, just bringing out the best nuances of each ingredient.

Soy Ginger Tilapia
slightly adapted from Food52
serves 2, generously

1 lb. tilapia
5 T. rice wine, divided
2-inch piece ginger root, finely sliced
2 T. vegetable oil
2 T. sesame oil
6 T. soy sauce
4 T. sugar
5 T. water

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the fish filets in a small baking pan. Sprinkle 2 T. of rice wine over the fish, and then arrange the ginger slices on top. Bake for 12 minutes or until the fish is just cooked through.

2. Meanwhile, heat both oils in a small saucepan over medium low.

3. Mix the remaining 3 T. of rice wine with the soy sauce, sugar, and water and heat for 1 minute in the microwave. Stir to dissolve the sugar.

4. When the fish is done, remove the ginger slices and transfer to the hot oil. Bring the heat up on the oil to medium high and cook until the ginger just starts to brown. Immediately pour the hot oil onto the fish. Pour the soy sauce mixture over the fish and serve warm with rice.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

more than enough

A few Whole30s ago, I mistakenly made a reservation at Jon + Vinny's for lunch. What on earth was I going to eat? I think I finally figured that I was going to have to cheat just a bit, and order the Red Wine-Marinated Ribeye. Yes, alcohol is out on Whole30, and apparently, as documented in this recipe, there was sugar in the marinade as well, but it was basically the best I could do.

The small bit of guilt I had for cheating dissipated with every bite. This steak tasted like Christmas. I guess the more accurate description for this slightly sweet, warmly spiced beef would be that it's slightly Moroccan-influenced, but I think you know what I mean either way. I had never had anything like it before, and I was quite pleased.

Since we have so much going on right now, we stayed in for New Year's Eve, so I thought this would be the perfect special occasion to bring it back. I loved being able to share it with Matty for the first time. He loved it. I recalled it being much more spiced at the restaurant (and that may have been due to the fact that I fell asleep on the couch watching some terrible college football bowl game and only managed to marinate it for 6 hours starting this morning instead of the 24 suggested by the recipe), but Matty liked it as-is, and thought any longer would have been too overwhelming, so it all worked out.

And yes, for you folks quick of eye, that is indeed the Broccoli Polenta from just last night underneath that hunk of meat. I was originally going to make some pommes aligot, but then I figured a) texturally, it would be pretty similar to the polenta, and b) I have so much leftover polenta that I couldn't quite justify making the potatoes.

Red Wine-Marinated Ribeye
as served at Jon + Vinny's via Tasting Table
serves 2

1 1/2 c. red wine
1/2 c. sugar
1 t. grated orange zest
8 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
one 16-oz. bone-in ribeye steak
2 T. olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a small saucepan, bring the red wine to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and add the sugar, orange zest, cloves and cinnamon sticks. Cook until the liquid has reduced to 1 c., about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely, then strain.

2. In a plastic bag, combine the steak with the cooled marinade and seal. Refrigerate for a minimum of 6 hours, and a maximum of 24 hours.

3. The next day, remove the steak from the marinade and pat it dry with paper towels. In a medium cast-iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the steak liberally with salt and pepper on both sides and add to the pan. Cook, flipping once, until golden brown and an internal temperature of 125° has been reached, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 2 minutes, then slice and serve.

Friday, December 30, 2016

you deserve it

When I first read this recipe, I had two thoughts:

1) Not being allowed runny yolks is the single biggest bummer about pregnancy.
2) This serves 4 people, and has two entire cups of grated cheese in it? My heavens.

Luckily, #1 was easily addressed, and the leftover polenta can continually be addressed because polenta takes kindly to any protein, prepared in any way. For tonight's dinner, I seared some beautiful sea scallops from our local fish market for a slightly more exciting twist on shrimp + grits. I can also see this being a lovely breakfast with scrambled eggs, a slightly less exciting version of the original recipe, but still a good hearty breakfast, as I learned when I ordered it at Ledlow a couple mornings ago.

Re: #2, I just gave in. I started with a half cup of each kind of cheese, but after tasting, I agreed that the full amount was necessary. The good thing is that I think this easily serves 6-8 people, not just the 4 indicated in the original recipe, so I didn't feel too bad about it. You deserve the extra richness, especially at this time of year.

And the richness is nicely balanced by the full mouthful of broccoli you get with each bite. You almost, almost feel like you're doing a good thing.

Broccoli Polenta
slightly adapted from Shutterbean
serves 6-8

1 c. cornmeal
12 oz. broccoli florets
3 T. butter
3/4 c. milk
1 c. grated Pecorino
1 c. grated Parmesan

1. Boil 4 c. water in a medium saucepan. Add the broccoli florets in the boiling water, reduce heat to low and cook covered with the lid for 4 minutes, or until broccoli is cooked and just tender. Scoop out the broccoli, and let it rest on a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, chop the broccoli into small pieces and set aside.

2. Return the broccoli water to a boil, and stir in the cornmeal in a slow steady stream. Reduce the heat to medium and cook polenta for 15 minutes, stirring constantly so the polenta doesn’t stick to the bottom. Stir in the butter and milk and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, until smooth and creamy. Stir in the chopped broccoli and both the grated Pecorino and Parmesan. Serve immediately.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

spice up your life

I've got a bit of a late start to my Christmas cookie baking. Matty's been requesting that we bake some together, but between our schedules, it's just not happened. We may or may not have bought Lofthouse gingerbread men and (non-holiday) frosted cookies at Ralph's yesterday out of sheer desperation for some festivity.

And while I have nothing against Lofthouse (how are those cookies so FLUFFY?), I didn't want to bring store-bought cookies to my grandparents' dinner tonight. Enter these Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Since I obsessively weigh everything now, I can tell you that I made 3 dozen cookies out of half of this dough, about a 24-oz. batch. They were cute and petite, and were the perfect size to close out a meal where I knew we would all have too much to eat. If you're just making these for your cookie plate, however, I would recommend rolling out 1-oz. balls (as I've written below).

The cookies are addicting, the same kind of addicting your favorite chocolate chip cookies are, but with that extra spiciness you come to expect from a holiday batch of baked goods. I've got the other half of this dough in the freezer for (spoiler alert!) when Matty can partake.

Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cookies
slightly adapted from The Kitchn
makes 4 dozen

3 1/3 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
3/4 t. baking soda
3/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground black pepper
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. Chinese five-spice powder
12 T. butter, at room temperature
1 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3 T. molasses
2 t. vanilla extract
3 T. grated fresh ginger (from a 3-inch piece, about 2 oz.)
1 c. chocolate chips

1. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, pepper, salt, and five-spice together in a large bowl. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until fully incorporated and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the egg and egg yolk, one at a time, mixing at medium speed after each addition, for about 15 seconds, until completely incorporated. Add the molasses, vanilla, and ginger, and mix at medium speed until completely incorporated, about 15 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and under the blade as needed.

3. Add the flour mixture and mix at low speed, stopping the machine and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until just combined. Mix in the chocolate chips until just combined.

4. Evenly divide the dough into 2 portions. Place each portion on a sheet of plastic wrap, press into a disc, and then wrap completely in the plastic. Refrigerate until completely chilled, about 2 hours or up to 1 day.

5. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat to 350 degrees.

6. Unwrap one portion of dough (keep the second in the refrigerator). Measure out about 1 oz. of dough, and roll into a ball. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Place the balls about 1 inch apart on the lined baking sheets.

7. Bake for 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets between racks and from front to back. Bake until the cookies have risen, are just barely set, and are golden-brown with deeper brown edges, another 4-5 minutes. The cookies will still be soft - use a flat spatula to transfer the cookies to a cooling rack.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

smells so nice

Roast chicken. It's a roller-coaster relationship we have. Sometimes, I think I will surely poison all of us because it seems it will never evenly come to temperature, and other times, I think I'm a domestic goddess whose roast chicken could medal.

This was a little somewhere in between - I left it in a little too long, but the payoff was an incredibly fragrant kitchen filled with sesame, ginger and garlic. Unfortunately, I didn't feel the aromatics infused the chicken itself with much flavor. It's how I feel about popcorn - smells great, but really nothing when it gets to your mouth. I think I would have been better off putting some of the flavorings under the skin rather than just brushing the skin and filling the chicken, a la this Ginger-Lemongrass Roast Chicken

Luckily, it was all balanced by a particularly aggressive side - some curry-roasted cauliflower punched up even more with additional turmeric, and then crunched up with pistachios, and mellowed out with sweet golden raisins. 

Mirin Roast Chicken
slightly adapted from Food52
serves 4-6

1 5-lb. whole chicken
2 t. sesame oil
1/3 c. mirin
1 1/2 T. salt
2 t. ground black pepper
4 scallions, trimmed and cut into 3-inch lengths
4-in. piece of ginger, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch slices
1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and smashed

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. In a small bowl, combine the sesame oil and mirin. Set aside. Combine the salt and pepper in a small bowl.

3. Place the chicken on roasting rack on a foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle 1/3 of the salt and pepper mixture in the cavity of the chicken. Then stuff the chicken cavity with layers of the scallions, ginger, and garlic. Sprinkle the remainder of the salt and pepper all over the outside of the chicken. Brush the chicken liberally with the mirin-sesame oil mixture. After the chicken is liberally brushed with the mirin, take what is remaining and pour it in the cavity of the chicken.

4. Roast for approximately 60-75 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165 degrees. Let rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Roasted Curry Cauliflower with Turmeric, Pistachios + Raisins
slightly adapted from White on Rice Couple
serves 4

4 T. olive oil
1 t. sesame oil
1 T. soy sauce
1 T. rice vinegar
2 t. curry powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 head cauliflower (about 2 lbs.), cut into florets
1/4 c. pistachios
1/4 c. golden raisins

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.

2. In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, curry powder and turmeric. Whisk well. Gently add the cauliflower to the bowl and coat with the marinade.

3. Arrange the cauliflower on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, tossing once, until cauliflower is golden. Serve with pistachios and raisins.