Saturday, July 30, 2011
The Internets have been a-buzzing with talk about shiso leaf lately. It's the delicious stuff that our favorite sushi chef pairs with Spanish mackerel and snapper. We know it's coming every time we order it, but every time, it draws a happy sigh, and the question about why we don't use it more often in non-sushi applications. It's like mint and lemon got together to make a perfect baby.
Clotilde from Chocolate & Zucchini recently called out on Twitter for suggestions on what to do with shiso leaf, and it reminded me of this Shiso Pesto Pasta from No Recipes. You know, the one I bookmarked the minute it was posted, and then managed to not make for 10 months.
I am so bummed I waited so long to make this. I mean, I could have been eating this dozens of times since then! It is truly that good. I wanted to bulk it up to a more traditional pesto, so I added one T. pine nuts and 1 small shallot to the mix, but I imagine the original recipe is incredibly refreshing. I'd like to try the original as a dressing of sorts (as I imagine it's a bit looser than my pesto) for cold noodles, maybe soba.
Matty's not a big fan of uni, and I've actually never had it (shocker!), so we decided to stick to a tried-and-trued favorite - seared scallops. This particular specimen of Gelson's scallop was so massive that I got distracted and forgot to salt and pepper them, but obviously, you won't be as much of a space cadet. Had I finished reading Clotilde's post before getting excited and leaving the house to buy shiso, I would also have garnished this pasta with tempura-battered leaves, but that's what next time is for.
Shiso Pesto Pasta
adapted from No Recipes
8 oz. linguine
2 oz. green shiso leaves
1 oz. grated Parmesan
1 small shallot
1 T. pine nuts
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. olive oil
1 T. lime juice
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the linguine and cook to al dente. Drain and set aside.
2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Add the pesto to the pasta a bit of a time until it reaches your desired level of flavor.
3. Serve immediately with the sea protein of your choice.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a 5-course Yotam Ottolenghi dinner at Animal. My takeaways: the inability to ever look at another glass of rosé again (4 out of 5 glasses of the wine pairing were rosés), but more importantly, an autographed copy of his gorgeous (and squishy) cookbook, Plenty.
Post-It's went on must-make recipes immediately - Royal potato salad, yes. Mushroom lasagne - after I'm skinny. Scrambled smoky duck eggs on sourdough - my mind just exploded. Brussels sprouts and tofu - Matty's on the road in September, I can make this for myself then. You get the picture. I had a plan for nearly every recipe.
I went with the Eggplant Tricolore first to take advantage of the bounty of summer vegetables being celebrated in the dish - eggplant, bell pepper, tomato. Everything was so clean and simple, but the flavor explosion that occurred when everything was assembled was remarkable. The sweet, caramelized, melt-in-your-mouth eggplant. The crunch and slight lip-pucker of the "salsa." I added some tortellini, spinach and a little cheese (okay, a lot of cheese) just to round it out a little, and it was the perfect summer dinner.
adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty
1 large eggplant
salt and pepper
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 T. red wine vinegar
3 T. capers, plus 1 T. caper brine
2 balls burrata (about 8 oz.)
a handful of cilantro, chopped
8 oz. tortellini
2 handfuls of spinach
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the eggplants into 3/4-inch thickk rounds. Place the slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush them generously on both sides with plenty of oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until they are soft and golden brown. Set aside.
2. Mix together the bell pepper, tomatoes, vinegar, capers, brine and 2 T. olive oil. Set aside while eggplant roasts.
3. Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Cook the tortellini to al dente.
4. To serve, divide the tortellini between two plates. Top each plate with a handful of spinach. Divide the eggplant between the plates. Top the eggplant with some of the bell pepper mixture (you'll likely have plenty leftover). Top with the burrata and garnish with cilantro.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Today it begins. For real. After designating Monday my "cheat day" (due solely to the fact that Los Feliz Din Din A Go Go falls on a Monday), I am on the path to Skinny Mini-land. The last straw was a pair of jeans that would not fit last week, no matter how much frantic jumping I did. Not cute.
I had a salad for lunch today. A half a salad. It nearly killed me. God, I hate salad.
I guess dinner was kind of a salad, too. But I had these delightful Wild Mushroom Cakes to go on top, and they made it all better.
Things weren't always peachy throughout the process, though. I was definitely concerned when making the patties - they were very delicate. I was afraid they would fall apart upon frying, but I didn't want to add any more bread crumbs (made fresh from a couple slices of Silver Hills Hemptation my friend Lynn had brought me) because I thought that might make them too dense, so I carried on. At worst, I could just pretend I intended to make a mushroom ragu, and just cook up some pasta to serve under it.
Luckily, they all held, and what I got was 8 stunningly light-textured, but intensely flavored mushroom cakes. There was barely any seasoning in there (and I forgot the garlic), and still...I guess there is something to be said for the umami of mushrooms.
Wild Mushroom Cakes
adapted from Epicurious
1/2 c. olive oil, divided
16 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 large portobello mushrooms, diced
8 oz. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 T. grated Parmesan
3 T. chopped parsley
salt and pepper
1/2 c. bread crumbs plus more for dredging
1. Heat 1/4 c. olive oil in a 12-inch cast iron skillet. Add all the mushrooms and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the mushrooms have released all their liquid and are golden brown.
2. Put mushrooms in the bowl of a food processor. Add the eggs, Parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper and chop. Add 1/2 c. bread crumbs and pulse to combine.
3. Divide into 8 portions, and form into patties. Coat cakes with additional bread crumbs, and set on a cooling rack to dry a bit.
4. In the same skillet you used to cook the mushrooms, heat another 1/4 c. of olive oil. Add the patties. Cook for 5 minutes per side. Serve over dressed salad greens of your choice.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
I just realized I never blogged about our last Cooking Club meeting. In fact, I can't even remember when it was, or what I made for it. I do remember it was a Farmers Market Fresh theme, and all of our ingredients came from the Larchmont Farmers Market. I also remember that it was a great time. I always have a great time with these girls.
So before my brain really turns into mush, and I space on blogging about today's gathering, here you are! Theme: Appetizers. Reason: we never know what to make when appetizers are called for, so we thought we'd challenge ourselves to come up with a full menu of them. We didn't have the luxury of the time to put into planning like we normally do - instead of having one person plan the menu and do all the grocery shopping, we all shopped for ourselves and surprised each other with our choices.
I went the liver route, even though I may have been the only one with strong positive feelings about it. In the end, though, we all went home with leftovers. I think the clincher was that reduced port wine - not only did it smell fabulous cooking down, it gave the pate a very sweet and smooth after-taste. Is there a better word than after-taste? Because that sounds gross.
Anyway. Next time, I'd get some delicious bread to toast and serve the pate on. The crackers I got were fine, but I think something a little more delicate and neutral so the great flavors have an even better chance to shine.
Chicken Liver Pate
from Barbara Lynch's Stir
Serves 12 as an appetizer
2 T. grapeseed or canola oil
2 shallots, sliced
1 lb. chicken livers, trimmed and patted dry
salt and pepper to taste
1 c. port
2 T. cream cheese
Accompaniments: toasted country bread, Dijon mustard, cornichons, fleur de sel
1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring for about 2 minutes. Add the livers, season with salt and pepper, and cook undisturbed on one side for about 1 minute. Turn the livers over and cook the other side for about 1 minute, too. The idea is to get a little color on each side but keep the livers rare to medium-rare. Transfer the livers to a plate. If there is a lot of fat in the pan, pour it off. Add the port to the pan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to about 4 Tablespoons.
2. Combine the livers and port reduction in a blender or food processor and pulse to puree. Add the cream cheese and pulse. Pass the mixture through a fine mesh strainer (this is easier than it sounds) to make it very smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Put the pate in a serving crock and chill it for an hour before serving. Serve with toasted country bread, mustard, cornichons and fleur de sel.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
I didn't think there would be anything to complain about with this Mushroom Pie. I expected to gush and urge you to make immediately. All of these ingredients are my very favorite things in the whole world, and yet, there are still a few things I would change for the next go-around:
- Brie: The original recipe calls for just regular cream cheese, but I can't resist a triple-creme Brie, so I thought I could substitute equal parts. Unfortunately, I think it contributed to making the pie a little extra greasy. Great flavor, though, obviously.
- Puff pastry: As nice as it was bite into an end piece and feel like I was straight biting into a croissant, I think next time, I'll be less lazy and just make a regular pie crust for this pie. The mushrooms should be the star here. And less butter in the crust would help with the grease factor.
Still pretty delicious, though. I mean, if the biggest problem was the grease, I'm not too worried.
adapted from KCRW's Good Food
8 oz. Brie
2 T. olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 lb. mixed mushrooms (I used cremini and shiitake), sliced
1 T. chopped rosemary
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cut the Brie into small cubes and let it come to room temperature.
3. Over low heat, heat the olive oil and saute the onion until lightly brown, about 15 minutes. Raise the heat to high and add the mushrooms and rosemary. After a minute or two they will start to release juice, which will then begin to evaporate. The mushrooms are done when most of the liquid is gone and they’ve browned a bit, about five minutes.
4. Roll out about 2/3rds of the puff pastry and fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Sprinkle in half of the Brie, half of the mushrooms and repeat. Roll out the remaining third and cut into 10 strips to form a lattice crust. Weave the lattice.
5. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the crust is golden. Let the pie cool for ten minutes before cutting.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
My work schedule this week has been such that I have 40 minutes between 7:30p and 8:10p to make and eat dinner. I've been failing quite miserably at that. You know, I never thought about how much time I actually take to make dinner. It's like the grocery bill - well, this is what I want to make, so this is what I need to buy, and this is what I have to spend. Similarly with time, it's been, well, this is what I want to make, and this is how long it takes to make it, and if you're hungry, you should just snack on the Sour Cream + Onion Ruffles you just impulse-bought while getting the ingredients for actual dinner. That's just how it is.
These Shrimp Sliders don't actually take that long to make, but my downfall was that I needed to get groceries in those 40 minutes as well. And the grocery store didn't have already-peeled shrimp, so much of my prep time was devoted to shelling. I made up a little time by deciding to fully process instead of hand-chop the shrimp. I was afraid the patties would fall apart if I chopped them too roughly - very possible since I was in such a hurry.
They were worth the wait and hassle, though. I'd up the fennel next time, but these light, fluffy patties were pretty close to perfect. I was afraid the sweetness of the Hawaiian rolls Matty wanted to use for buns would overwhelm when coupled with the sweetness of the shrimp, but they actually worked quite well together. Dressed to the nines with avocado, butter lettuce, heirloom tomato, and just the tiniest smear of a cilantro dressing I had in the fridge. I just couldn't bring myself to add the stress of making homemade aioli like the original recipe, but if you have more than 40 minutes, I'm sure it's delicious.
adapted from Food52
5 T. olive oil
1/4 c. chopped fennel
1/4 c. chopped red onion
1/4 c. chopped orange bell pepper
1 T. chopped fennel fronds
1 T. chopped chives
1 1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
salt and pepper to taste
Hawaiian rolls for serving
1. In a 12-inch cast-iron pan, heat 2 T. olive oil over medium heat. Add the fennel and onion and cook until they start to caramelize, about 8 minutes. Add the bell pepper and cook about 3 minutes longer.
2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the shrimp with the sautéed vegetable mixture, fennel fronds, chives and salt and pepper to taste. Pulse until shrimp is well-chopped and vegetables are well-distributed. Add the egg and process until it is no longer visible. Remove the blade from the processor and form the mixture into 8 even patties. Refrigerate briefly.
3. Wipe out the cast-iron pan and heat the remaining 3 T. olive oil. Fry the patties until golden, about 4 minutes on each side, or until cooked through.
4. Serve on Hawaiian rolls with your choice of accoutrements.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
This is one of those recipes that makes you shake your head when you survey the mess you've made in the kitchen. The two things I hate to wash the most in the world are involved - a sieve and the blender. Thats 1, 2, 3 pots you need - the one for the pasta, the one to steam and corn and mussels, the bigger one to heat the sauce and toss everything in.
But you sit down with this pretty bowl of pasta, and you forget there's clean-up afterwards. It's very interesting (in a good way) - the pepper and cumin provide spice, but not too much heat. The sweet farmers market-fresh corn and the raw onion (the bit that gets added to the corn, and not pureed in the sauce) add a great texture contrast to the melty, sauced pasta. It's the kind of dish you'll kick yourself for forgetting to pack for lunch the next day - knowing me, that's exactly what I'll be doing tomorrow.
Poblano Spaghetti with Mussels + Corn
adapted from The Dean & DeLuca Cookbook and Serious Eats
4 large poblano chiles
1 lb. spaghetti
5 ears of fresh sweet corn, shucked
24 mussels, scrubbed and debearded
3 cloves garlic
1 red onion, diced
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, minced
2 T. fresh oregano (do not substitute dried)
1 1/2 t. ground cumin
2 T. butter
1 c. heavy cream
Manchego cheese, shredded for garnish
salt and pepper to taste
1. Turn the broiler to high. Brush poblano chiles with olive oil and broil on a baking sheet covered in foil until until blackened on all sides, turning as necessary. Turn off the broiler, and transfer chiles to a plastic bag. Let steam for five to ten minutes. Peel the blackened skins off the chiles, and then remove stems and seeds. Puree them in a blender with the garlic, half the cilantro, half the onion, half the cream, and all the oregano until smooth.
2. While the chiles are broiling, bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook the spaghetti until al dente. Drain and set aside.
2. While the pasta is cooking, steam the corn and the mussels. Scatter the mussels over the corn on a steamer in a large pot containing an inch of hot water. Put the pot on a high flame and cover it. After 5 minutes, remove the corn and any mussels whose shells have opened. Cover the pot again, and after another 5 minutes remove the remaining mussels. Discard any mussels that are not open or do not open easily.
3. If using fresh corn, cut the corn kernels off the cobs. Place corn kernels in a large bowl. Add the cumin, remaining onion and cilantro. Shuck the mussels and add to the bowl. Toss gently and set aside.
4. Add butter to a large saucepan set over medium heat. When it foams, pour in the chile mixture. Cook, partially covered, for about 10 minutes. Stir it occasionally. Add the remaining cream and salt to taste.
5. Add the corn mixture to the sauce and stir to distribute evenly. Add the pasta to the saucepan and toss well. Divide the pasta between four plates. Garnish with cilantro and Manchego.
Friday, July 15, 2011
You know those crazy product recipe contests? Like use a specific brand-name item to create something (inevitably) wacky and win a lifetime supply of that product? Well, is there one for Snyder's of Hanover, because I mean, I might win with this one.
This originally was going to be just pretzel baked chicken - one of those low(er)-calorie alternatives to fried chicken, a food I crave at least a couple times a week (cravings I don't actually act on - remember, I'm being "good"). I was originally going to experiment with the peanut-butter filled pretzel nuggets I have in the pantry. What - it's not that weird. You can put peanut sauce over chicken - why not bake it on the outside?
But then, as I was going through the snack basket at work, I came across two abandoned bags of jalapeno pretzel pieces, and I decided that I had to use them. They're a little too intense for me to fully enjoy as a snack, but when coating chicken, there's just enough kick and flavor without being overtly spicy. The chicken came out perfectly crisp on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside. If all baked chicken came out this good, I wouldn't miss the fried stuff.
Jalapeno Pretzel Chicken
adapted from Self Magazine
4.5 oz. Snyder's of Hanover Jalapeno Pretzel Pieces
1 oz. Snyder's of Hanover Pretzel Sticks
6 drumsticks, skin on
2 c. buttermilk, or enough to cover chicken
1. Place drumsticks in a large bowl and pour over enough buttermilk to just about cover.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and set a cooling rack on top.
3. Pulse pretzels in a food processor until they become coarse crumbs. Transfer to a large plate. One drumstick at a time, tap to remove excess buttermilk and dredge chicken in the crumbs. Place on the prepared rack and set aside for 10 minutes.
4. Bake until juices run clear when pierced with a fork, about 45 minutes. Serve warm.
And on the side, the perfect fresh accompaniment to the spice and crunch, my favorite new tomatoes:
Tomatoes + Ricotta in Arugula Pesto
6 black tomatoes
2.5 oz. arugula
4 T. pine nuts
3 T. olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 c. ricotta
1. Combine the arugula and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped. With the processor running, slowly add the olive oil until the pesto reaches your desired consistency. Salt and pepper to taste.
2. Slice each tomato into eighths. Toss with the pesto. Serve over generous scoops of ricotta.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
It seems like every time I stop to talk to you, I'm telling you about how disgusted I am about my eating habits. And how I swear I'm going to quit them, start going to the gym again and get back down to my 18-year-old driver's license weight by
This salad is the start to my renewed efforts at a healthier lifestyle. I can't promise how long it'll last (I mean, I just found a recipe for smoked char siu pork belly, and we haven't had a barbecue since Memorial Day), but this is pretty good for you. It's like a dolled-up, way tastier Nicoise salad - the shrimp stands in for the tuna, the potatoes are roasted because I can't get Cafe Gratitude's I Am Grounded out of my head, and the snap peas stand in for pedestrian green beans. Add a little arugula and a mustard vinaigrette for kick, and even I can momentarily forget I hate salad.
Shrimp + Snap Pea Salad
adapted from A Good Appetite
1 lb. red new potatoes, quartered
4 T. olive oil, divided
1/2 packet Lipton onion soup mix
3/4 lb. sugar-snap peas
2 T. Dijon mustard
3 T. red-wine vinegar
1 1/2 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 c. loosely-packed arugula
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, mix 2 T. olive oil with the onion soup mix. Add the potatoes and toss to coat evenly. Turn the potatoes out onto a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, turning once or twice to evenly brown.
2. Trim and string the peas, then quarter crosswise. Place them in a large colander. In a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, and olive oil.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the shrimp to the pot and cook until opaque, 2 minutes. Drain into the colander of peas to just slightly blanch the peas. Turn the shrimp and peas out onto a towel-lined baking sheet to cool. When cool, transfer to the bowl with the mustard vinaigrette and toss to coat evenly.
3. Divide the arugula between 4 plates. Top with the potatoes, then the dressed shrimp and snap pea mixture.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
That's it. This is the last time I try to make coffee-anything for breakfast.
The last time I tried, I got no coffee flavor at all. Thinking it was a matter of my improvising when I was out of instant coffee, I followed the instructions for these Coffee Pancakes to the letter. The batter smelled deliciously of coffee, and I thought I had found my goldmine. Unfortunately, the finished pancakes carried none of that flavor, and in addition, didn't have the right amount of sweetening.
That's not to say the pancakes were inedible. Don't get me wrong - they were still delightfully fluffy buttermilk pancakes, made even more delightful by drowning in maple syrup, but I was sorely disappointed in the flavor. I guess I'll just stick to my coffee served in a mug.
from A Cozy Kitchen
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 t. sugar
1 c. buttermilk
1 T. instant coffee granules
1. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar.
2. In a large measuring cup, beat together the egg and buttermilk. Whisk in the instant coffee until completely blended.
3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
4. Heat up a griddle over medium low-heat and brush with 1 T. butter. Using a 1/4-cup measure, add the batter to the warm skillet and cook until bubbles form along the sides and in the center. Flip. And cook on opposite side until golden brown. Serve with maple syrup.
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Sweet kitchen, how I've missed you. I was on the road for a week, and before that, I squeezed in a few catch-up dinners while Matty was out of town, so I've spent 10 whole days without nary switching on a burner. But tonight, one of the cooler evenings in recent summer memory, I did it all - pre-baking puff pastry while caramelizing garlic on the stove, then watching House Hunters to escape the heat while the tart baked. It's good to be home.
I wanted something fairly light (and paired with a large salad). We've been eating entirely too well (must-try barbecue joints, birthday celebrations, my Cleveland highlight: Lola), and entirely too poorly (must-try barbecue joints, birthday celebrations, tour catering). Trying to stay as vegetarian as possible to detox while we're both home is a must.
And as far as vegetarian recipes go, I'm a huge fan of Yotam Ottolenghi. Plenty is on my Amazon Wish List. But I won't need it because I get my own signed copy when I attend his dinner at Animal next week. (Yes, I love irony).
Matty's not a fan of goat cheese, though, so when I came across an Onion Tart recipe from The Kitchn that simply called for ricotta and an egg for the filling, I knew I could happily combine the two recipes for a fabulous welcome-home dinner. I very nearly bailed out on the caramelized garlic topping when I saw I could just caramelize onions. I was afraid the garlic would be too strong (no worries - blanching took care of that) and that the balsamic and sugar would combine for something too cloying. Luckily, all my fears were for naught - the garlic actually turned out to be quite similar in taste to regular caramelized onions. But hey, maybe there are still some cold-busting properties of garlic left after all the cooking it underwent. These two just-off-the-road-likely-to-get-sick-now-that-we're-home kids will take them.
There is no quick way to peel 3 heads of garlic. Yes, heads. Not cloves. This is where those jars of pre-peeled garlic would really come in handy. But the other elements of the tart come together so easily that it's quite worth the effort if you must hand-peel.
Caramelized Garlic Tart
adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi via Good Food and The Kitchn
one 9"x9" sheet puff pastry (half of a standard package)
3 medium heads of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
1 T. olive oil
1 t. balsamic vinegar
1 c. water
2 t. sugar
1 t. chopped rosemary
1 t. chopped thyme
salt and pepper
1 c. whole-milk ricotta
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the puff pastry into a circle that will line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, plus a little extra. Line the pan with the pastry. Place a large circle of waxed paper on the bottom and fill up with pie weights or dried beans. Blind bake for 20 minutes. Remove the weights and paper, then bake for 5 to 10 minutes more, or until the pastry is golden. Set aside.
3. While the tart shell is baking, make the caramelized garlic. Put the cloves in a small saucepan and cover with plenty of water. Bring to a simmer and blanch for 3 minutes, then drain well. Dry the saucepan, return the cloves to it and add the olive oil. Fry the garlic cloves on high heat for 2 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and water and bring to a boil, then simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add the sugar, rosemary, thyme and 1/4 t. salt. Continue simmering on a medium flame for 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the garlic cloves are coated in a dark caramel syrup. Set aside.
4. Whisk the ricotta and the egg together in a small bowl. Use a spatula to spread the ricotta mixture evenly across the puff pastry. Arrange the garlic on top. Increase the oven heat to 400 degrees, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the ricotta filling is firm and the crust is golden.