Saturday, July 23, 2016

all at once


I wanted to make some summer-appropriate peach pancakes for breakfast this morning, but the peaches have been so good that I've been eating them out of hand, sparing none for anything that calls for cooking them.

I may still hit the farmers market tomorrow for another pancake breakfast, but in the meantime, a long-Pinned recipe called my name this morning - Cinnamon Polenta Ebelskivers. Well, really, they're meant to be regular pancakes, but I couldn't bear the thought of cooking only two pancakes at a time in my 10-inch nonstick pan, and figured that if I ebelskiver'ed them, they'd be on the plate much faster. My patience wears thin these days.

These are certainly not your light, fluffy, dessert-like ebelskivers, but rather, they're hearty nuggets of coziness, full of fall flavors, but bursting with a pop of seasonal blueberries, added at the last minute on a whim.

Cinnamon Polenta Ebeskivers
slightly adapted from Food & Wine
serves 2-3

1/2 c. all-purpose flour
6 T. cornmeal
1 1/2 t. brown sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
Pinch of salt
1/2 c. almond milk
1 large egg
2 T. olive oil
1/4 c. blueberries (optional)

1. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the cornmeal, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

2. In a measuring cup, beat the egg, then whisk in the buttermilk and olive oil. Whisk the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, leaving small lumps.

3. Set an ebelskiver pan over moderate high heat and spray it with vegetable oil spray. When the pan is hot, spoon 1 heaping T. of batter into each cup, and top each with two blueberries. Cook the pancakes until the bottoms are browned and bubbles appear on the surface, 1-2 minutes. Flip and cook until browned on the bottom, 1-2 minutes longer. Serve the pancakes warm with melted butter and maple syrup.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

gonna eat a lot of peaches


There is a shocking amount of joy that comes from making, serving, and eating this peach crumble, topped perfectly with what this California girl can only describe as an oatmeal pizookie. It is also a pure and wonderful coincidence that this was made on National Peach Ice Cream Day. Never mind that the peach was under the cookie, and the (vanilla) ice cream served on top.

I only regret that the photo doesn't capture my excitement for this perfect summer dessert. This was a back-up photo I took before bringing the pan over to our dear friends CJ + Lisa's house for a much-overdue catch-up session. The plan was to capture it in action, on individual serving plates, a la mode, but the clamor (and shocking joy) of their two little boys asking for peaches and ice cream was too much for my heart to bear, and I couldn't justify taking the time to pick up the camera before presenting them with their portions. Sorry, but really, not sorry.

Peach Marzipan-Oatmeal Cookie Crumble
slightly adapted from Half Baked Harvest
serves 12

1 T. butter
4-5 medium peaches
1 1/4 c. brown sugar, divided
2 c. rolled oats
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
3/4 c. melted coconut oil
2 eggs
2 T. vanilla extract, divided
4 oz. marzipan, rolled into small balls

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat, and add the butter. Add the sliced peaches, and sprinkle with 1/4 c. brown sugar. Cook for 3 minutes, then stir the peaches, and cook another 2 to 3 minutes or until caramelized and soft. Remove from the heat, and add 1 T. of the vanilla. Toss well.

3. In a large mixing bowl, add the oatmeal, whole wheat flour, remaining 1 c. brown sugar, baking soda, salt, melted coconut oil, eggs and remaining 1 T. vanilla. Stir until combined and the dough holds together. Mix in the marzipan balls.

4. Sprinkle the dough directly over the peaches. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until the cookie is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let sit 5 minutes. Serve with your favorite ice cream.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

all i need


I've gone way, completely off Whole30 since July 1st. Like, fully derailed. My aspirations of staying gluten-free and dairy-free after this last round were left in the dust of two weeks of small town eating and craft service tables.

But as annoying and eyeroll-inducing as this sounds, I feel so intensely better when I do eat Whole30, especially since I don't have to endure the self-imposed guilt of over-snacking because I'm actually satisfied by the meal I've just had.

This Orange Mustard Chicken is case-in-point. Perfectly cooked chicken drumsticks with a side of roasted potatoes and broccoli that self-basted in the drippings of the roasting chicken on the rack above them. Not terribly orange-y, but plenty mustard-y, and just a good combo of flavors and textures.

Orange Mustard Chicken
slightly adapted from Nom Nom Paleo
serves 4

1/2 c. spicy brown mustard
1/4 c. orange juice
1 T. olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 t. salt
3 lbs. skin-on chicken drumsticks
1 lb. teeny tiny potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
8 oz. broccoli florets, cut into bite-sized pieces

1. Combine the mustard, orange juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt in a large bowl. Add the chicken drumsticks, and mix well to coat. Refrigerate in the marinade for 30 minutes or up to 12 hours.

2. When you’re ready to roast the chicken, heat the oven to 425 degrees with the rack in the middle position.

3. Combine the potatoes and broccoli in a 13x9 baking dish. Place a wire rack on top of the dish. Lay the marinated drumsticks in a single layer on the wire rack.

4. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, and then remove the rack to toss the vegetable mixture in the chicken drippings. Replace the rack, then flip the drumsticks over and rotate the tray 180 degrees.

5. Continue cooking for 20 minutes or until the skin is browned and an instant-read thermometer reads 170 degrees in the thickest part of the chicken. Serve immediately with the roasted vegetables on the side.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

ducked off


I originally wanted to do a duck breast recipe, but when all Whole Foods could offer was a few duck leg quarters, I told myself that this couldn't be that much different, and why not, let's go with it.

That decision turned into a giant wormhole of doubt, anxiety, and too many pages of Google search results. For the most part, I learned this was going to take way longer than my original duck breast recipe, and I was annoyed.

Luckily, neither of us were particularly starving for dinner, so I figured I could experiment with combining a few of the recipes I found, and just throw it in the oven to braise, and watch the Dodgers game until it was done.

Turns out, roasting only 2 duck legs doesn't take that long at all, and we were eating by the 7th inning stretch. The chard was alternately meltingly tender at the bottom, and chewy-crisp at the top, and frankly, I didn't care what the tomatoes did just so long as I could use some up from the insane crop our Sweet 100 plants are busting out with at the moment. And now we have duck fat for future breakfast potatoes to boot!

Roast Duck Legs with Braised Chard + Cherry Tomatoes
serves 2

2 duck leg quarters (about 1 lb. total)
8 oz. chard leaves, halved lengthwise
1 c. cherry tomatoes
1/2 c. vegetable broth
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a 12-inch cast-iron pan, cook the duck legs, skin side down, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Flip and brown the second side, another 3 minutes. Remove the legs to a plate, and discard all but 1 T. of the duck fat.

3. Add the chard, tomatoes and broth, and cook for just a few minutes until the chard is wilted and flat against the pan. Return the duck legs to the pan, skin side up, salt and pepper to taste, and roast in the oven for 30 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the leg registers 165 degrees.

4. Let rest for 5 minutes, tented in foil, and then serve.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

throw some bacon on it


Calling all gluten-avoiders who love onion rings! These consist of only onions and bacon, and they will 100% change your life.

My father-in-law found a recipe for bacon-wrapped onion rings online, and it didn't take long to decide that it was going on the menu for their Third of July barbecue. There were a few complications that came making these on the grill, so this is more a list of considerations than a full recipe, because honestly, you don't really need a recipe for this.

- DON'T GRILL THEM.
This will only lead to certain disaster. You do not have nearly enough square footage on your grilling surface to make these fast enough to serve your crew. Also, they'll go from crisp to charred in the blink of an eye. Instead, just bake them in the oven (over a wire rack if you prefer to have the grease drip off) at about 400-425 degrees until they're done. Also, you don't need to skewer the rings like you see in the photo above. You've just wrapped it within an inch of its life - that bacon ain't going anywhere.

- ONIONS
Use sweet Vidalia onions for both flavor and their squatness. You'll get more evenly-sized onion rings there than if you use a perfect spherical onion. Slice them about 1/2-inch thick to start so that the bacon has something to grab on to, but how many rings you choose to leave is up to you and your preferred bacon-to-onion ratio. Reserve the middle bits for chopping and sauteeing later.

- BACON
Have more than you think you need. If you don't use it all, throw it in the freezer for future breakfasts (or barbecues). You don't want to be caught with too little bacon here. And don't use any of that flimsy, thin-sliced, mostly fat, grocery store-brand stuff. It doesn't have to be thick-cut, but a good substantial slice that's not too fatty will save you a headache while you're wrapping your onion rings.

- SRIRACHA AIOLI
Make this for dipping. Mix mayo with as much Sriracha as you can stand. Dip to your heart's delight.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

bigger is better


Back in the day, I used to pretend to cater. I bought a bunch of lovely serving devices, and made lots of individually-portioned snacks. Then I ran out of patience. The ooh's and aah's that accompany the presentation of tiny, bite-sized pieces of food can only momentarily wipe away the memory of the work it took to compose those bites.

I avoided that bit of PTSD for tonight's dinner by making big entree-sized portions of Nom Nom Paleo's cute dim sum-like Shrimp-Stuffed Mushrooms. No, we weren't doing 24 individual stuffed cremini mushrooms - we're going to go ahead and split that shrimp paste in half, and serve ourselves dinner in two portobello caps.

I loved all of the flavors here - the sweetness of the shrimp, the porky studs of bacon throughout, and the earthy mushroom base. It's comforting and homey (if your memories include dim sum), and is both light and satisfying. A quick saute of bok choy and snow peas is all I needed here, but I imagine putting this between your favorite roll with some Sriracha aioli would also make a pretty nice sandwich.

Shrimp-Stuffed Portobellos
very slightly adapted from Nom Nom Paleo
serves 2

2 large portobello mushrooms (about 8 oz. total)
2 t. olive oil
8 oz. shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 c. chopped green onions
1/4 c. packed cilantro leaves
2 bacon slices, diced
1 T. diced red bell pepper
1 t. fish sauce

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. Remove the stems and gills from the mushrooms. Place the mushrooms gill-side down on a small baking sheet, and drizzle 1 t. olive oil on each mushroom. Roast for 10 minutes, then flip and roast for 10 more.

3. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the shrimp, green onion, cilantro, bacon, bell pepper, and fish sauce. Process to a thick paste.

4. Divide the paste between the two mushroom caps, and roast for another 10-15 minutes, or until the shrimp mixture is completely set. Serve immediately.

Friday, June 24, 2016

underwater dream


Truly, you had me at "Chilean sea bass." If it were appropriate to call fish dreamy, this would be it. That texture. The way it flakes right off when you've cooked it right. The way it just about melts in your mouth.

I'm not sure what the sage adds to it other than the stress of keeping it adhered while grilling, and then the panic at having torn a few when flipping. A well-salted and -peppered fillet with perfectly crisp skin and golden grill marks is more than sufficient, especially with the lily-gilding of the fresh and lemon-y almond-parsley salsa.

The vegetables were a nice and easy complement to the fish. The textures of the broccolini, snow peas and haricot verts played upon each other beautifully, and the tahini sauce gave them an earthy flavor that balanced both the greens and the fish. I'm not generally a huge fan of tahini, but whisked into a sauce with coconut aminos and a little acidity from apple cider vinegar and fresh lemon juice, it works.

Grilled Chilean Sea Bass with Almond Salsa 
slightly adapted from Francis Mallmann's Mallmann On Fire
serves 2

For the fish:
1 lb. Chilean sea bass, skin-on, in one piece
2 T. olive oil
10 sage leaves
salt and pepper to taste

For the almond salsa:
2 T. sliced almonds
2 T. chopped parsley
1/2 T. lemon zest
1/2 T. lemon juice
1 T. olive oil
salt, pepper, and red chili pepper flakes, to taste

1. Heat a large cast-iron grill pan over high heat. Brush the pan generously with olive oil.

2. Brush both sides of the fish with olive oil. Arrange the sage leaves on the flesh side, patting them down so they adhere. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3. Invert the fish, sage side down onto the grill, and grill without moving it, for 5-7 minutes.

4. While the fish is cooking, combine the salsa ingredients, and season to taste.

5. Brush the skin again with oil. Check to see if the fish is ready to turn by lifting up one edge - when it is ready, it will release easily. Flip the fish, and cook on the other side for 3-5 minutes, until the skin is crisp, and the fish is just cooked through. Serve immediately with almond salsa

Broccolini-Snow Pea-Haricot Vert Salad with Tahini Sauce
slightly adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty More
serves 4

For the salad:
8 oz. broccolini, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 oz. haricot verts, trimmed
6 oz. snow peas, trimmed
3/4 c. chopped cilantro
toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

For the sauce:
3 T. tahini
2 T. water
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 T. coconut aminos
1 T. apple cider vinegar
1 T. lemon juice

1. In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients for the sauce. Set aside.

2. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the haricot verts, and cook for 1 minute. Add the broccolini, and cook for another minute. Add the snow peas, and cook for 2 more minutes. Drain all of the vegetables, and then run them under cold water to stop the cooking. Dry well.

3. Toss the vegetables with the cilantro and 2 T. of the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and garnish with sesame seeds.