Sunday, March 31, 2013

easter sunday, we were talking

Easter Brunch 2013 was a grand success. The food was great, the champagne flowed, and the rain only interrupted the bocce tournament twice.

In looking over this post thus far (I always type in the recipes first before the stream of consciousness storytelling commences), I am already overwhelmed by the amount of text, so I'll keep my notes brief.

Clockwise from the powdered donuts:

- Gluten-Free Donut Holes: One of our dearest friends is gluten-free, and another is observing Passover, so the maple-meringue filled yeasted donuts that I've had on Pinterest for almost a year had to wait. And because these were shockingly good (like good good, not gluten-free good), they have to wait even longer. I bought a whole new set of piping bags and tips, but ran out of time, and ended up just rolling them around in some powdered sugar. Shockingly. Good.

- Brooke's White Bean + Shrimp Salad: Yum.

- Chopped Olive + Celery Salad with Burrata: Refreshing, but probably at the bottom of the list of delicious things today. Oh well - any excuse to eat burrata.

- Sausage Spoonbread: Also shockingly good. The gluten-free camp wins yet again with this concoction - it's the delicious baby of quiche and cornbread parents.

- Boozy Berry Parfaits: I mean, lest you think we're lushes, drinking brown liquor before 5p, I have to say 1/4 c. of Maker's in nearly 3 lbs. of fruit doesn't really even come through. Pretend it never happened. These were fine - nothing earth-shattering. We have plenty left over, and they'll make great breakfasts all week.

- Apricot Almond Layer Cake: The name belies the glory. This is full-on almond macaroon, mascarpone cream, stewed apricot deliciousness. I really wanted to roast fresh apricots, but what with them not being in season, I followed the recipe and used dried, and was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. However, if you were to actually cut this cake into 6 slices to serve like the recipe suggests, you would a) have 10 other really pissed off brunch guests, and b) have to throw your phone away to escape the wrath of MyFitnessPal. Easy does it, friend - a little goes a really long, really delicious way.

- Not pictured: our friend Greg's made-to-order omelettes that he slaved at the stove for over an hour to serve everyone. I bow down to his omelette-making prowess, as I do every year.

Happy Easter, everyone!

Gluten-Free Donut Holes
from Serious Eats
makes about 36 donut holes

14 oz. (2 1/2 c.) white rice flour
5.25 oz. (3/4 c.) white sugar
2.25 oz. (1/2 c.) potato starch
1.75 (1/3 c.) tapioca starch
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 t. xanthan gum
1 c. buttermilk
2 large eggs
2 T. melted butter
1 t. vanilla extract
vegetable oil, for deep frying
powdered sugar, for decorating

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the white rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, baking soda, baking powder, salt and xanthan gum.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, melted butter and vanilla extract. Pour over the dry ingredients, and use the paddle attachment to mix the dough until smooth, about 45 seconds. Cover the dough with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming, and allow to rest for 15 minutes.

3. Heat oil to 375 degrees. Scoop out a T. of dough, roll into a ball, and slip into the hot oil, frying until golden brown. Fry a few at a time, but don't crowd the fryer.

4. Remove the doughnuts from the oil, and place on a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with the remaining dough.

5. Let cool for a few minutes, then toss with powdered sugar, and serve.

Chopped Olive + Celery Salad with Burrata
adapted from Lottie + Doof

equal parts chopped green olives and celery
chopped parsley, to taste
olive oil and white wine vinegar, to taste
1 ball of burrata per cup of salad

1. Toss the green olives and celery with olive oil and white wine vinegar, to taste. Add the parsley, and toss to combine.

2. Transfer the salad to a serving plate. Top with one 4-oz. ball of burrata per cup of salad. Serve immediately.

Sausage Spoonbread
slightly adapted from Serious Eats
serves 12 as a side

2 lbs. hot Italian sausage
7 c. milk
2 c. cornmeal
10 eggs, beaten
3 c. grated cheddar cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 9x13 baking dish.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage, stirring and breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until the sausage is browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage to a large bowl, leaving most of the pan juices behind.

3. Add the milk to the pan juices and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, slowly whisk in the cornmeal, and cook for 5 minutes, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Pour cornmeal mixture over sausage, and stir until all the ingredients are evenly combined. Cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for 10-15 minutes.

4. Fold the eggs and cheese into the cornmeal, then pour into the prepared dish. Bake until the spoonbread is set, about 1 hour. Let cool slightly, and serve.

Boozy Berry Parfaits
slightly adapted from Serious Eats
serves 15

2 lbs. strawberries, quartered
24 oz. blueberries
1/4 c. Maker's Mark
4 T. brown sugar
4 c. plain Greek yogurt
fresh mint, for garnish

1. In a large bowl, combine the strawberries, blueberries, Maker's Mark and brown sugar, and gently toss with a spoon. Let sit on the counter until berries begin to release their juices, 8-10 minutes.

2. Divide 3 c. of Greek yogurt among 15 small serving cups. Divide the fruit evenly on top of the yogurt. Finish with a dollop of yogurt and a mint leaf on top of the fruit. Serve immediately.

Apricot Almond Layer Cake
slightly adapted from Epicurious
makes one 9-inch cake

For almond macaroon layers:
12 oz. sliced raw almonds
3 1/3 c. powdered sugar
6 large egg whites
1/4 t. salt
6 T. granulated sugar

For apricot compote:
6 oz. dried California apricots, finely chopped
1 1/2 c. water
1 T. honey

For mascarpone cream:
8 oz. mascarpone
1/4 c. heavy cream
1 t. almond extract

1. Make macaroon layers: Trace two 8-inch circles on 1 sheet of parchment paper, and a third 8-inch circle on a second sheet. Turn the sheets over, and put on 2 baking sheets.

2. Pulse almonds with 1 1/3 c. powdered sugar in a food processor until very finely ground, 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, and sift in remaining 2 c. powdered sugar, then stir until well-combined.

3. Beat egg whites with salt in the bowl of a stand mixer until they just hold soft peaks. Continue to beat, adding granulated sugar a little at a time, until the whites hold stiff, glossy peaks, about 3 minutes.

4. Fold the egg whites into the almond mixture until completely incorporated. Divide batter evenly among the traced circles on the baking sheets, smoothing into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Let rounds stand, uncovered, at room temperature for 30 minutes, then bake them in a 300-degree oven for 25 minutes. Turn off the oven, and let the macaroons sit in the oven for 10 minutes. Cool completely on baking sheets on racks, about 1 hour.

5. Make the compote: Simmer the dried apricots with the water in a small saucepan, uncovered over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the apricots are very soft, and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Stir in the honey, then cool completely.

6. Make the mascarpone cream: Just before serving, beat together the mascarpone, heavy cream and almond extract until thick and smooth, about 2 minutes. Fold in the apricot compote.

7. Put one macaroon layer on a platter, and spread with one third of the apricot cream. Make another layer with the second macaroon in the same manner. Top with remaining macaroon and remaining cream.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

taco tuesday

When Matty has evening rehearsals, and I am only cooking for myself, my brain can get super crazy about dinner options. Usually, it's where I'll try weirdo recipes that I'm not sure he'll like so that I can a) for sure cross them off the list, or b) be pleasantly surprised and repeat when he's around.

Here's how tonight's process went down:

I should probably eat something green > I've got broccoli > How about a variation on that kale salad from a couple weeks ago? > I'm not really in the mood for quinoa > What about polenta? > Hm, cornmeal > TACO TUESDAY! > What if I put broccoli inside of a taco? > Has anyone ever done this before? > Oh. No. 7 > How many calories is this going to be? / Are you insane about the two taco shells? > Okay, gym first, then tacos > Well, Trader Joe's first because they'll be closed by the time you're done with the gym > There's a Chipotle next to Trader Joe's / There's a Taco Bell right by the gym > Get it together! > Oh, cool - I can watch the US-Mexico soccer game while I'm on the stationary bike > Why are they so excited about a tie? > Is this hour over yet? > TACO TUESDAY!

Think of it as a Cheesy Gordita Crunch without the meat, and minus 200 calories. I tried one version with melted cheese, and one with refried beans, and naturally, preferred the cheese. I just gave the broccoli a quick go on the stove - I didn't want to roast it and crisp it all up, leaving no chew. I mean, it's hard to think of broccoli as being juicy, but I wanted some of that quality in a taco filling.

And you know, it's not particularly revolutionary, but it was good. I'll certainly experiment with chopping the broccoli more finely, maybe even creating a chunky pesto for the filling, so that it mimics the texture of ground meat. Next Tuesday is just around the corner.

Broccoli Tacos
Makes 1 taco

1 hard taco shell
1 6-inch tortilla
1 oz. shredded cheese (or 2 T. refried beans)
1/2 T. olive oil
1.5 oz. broccoli, cut into small florets

1. Warm/crisp up the hard taco shell in the oven per package directions.

2. Spread either the shredded cheese or refried beans (or both!) on one side of the soft tortilla, and microwave in 15-second increments until the cheese is melted or the beans are warmed (or both!). Set aside.

3. Heat the olive oil in a small skillet. Add the broccoli, and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Do not stir too often - you want the edges to caramelize a bit.

4. Fill the taco shell with the broccoli. Fold the tortilla over the taco shell, filling against the shell. Repeat to make as many tacos as you like. Serve immediately.

you got cookie

Okay, so I may be getting a little sucked into March Madness. It's one of the many reasons that Sunday spiraled out of my control, and I couldn't attend the birthday party for which I had already baked these Blueberry Brown Butter Cookies

Luckily, they didn't go to waste as an Instagram call-out had me delivering a dozen to my friend Angela so I wouldn't be tempted with them for breakfast on this Tuesday morning that is also rapid spiraling out of control. (Sorry for breaking your French press, babe!)

But if there was ever a breakfast cookie, these would be them. The original recipe calls for bread flour, which is meant to make them even taller and chewier, but I know what happens to "exotic" flours in my pantry, so I just used all-purpose. I'm not sure I'd want them chewier. As they were, they were very cake-like, even muffin-like, and if you can have a blueberry muffin from your local coffee shop for breakfast, you can certainly have a couple of these for breakfast.

The fresh blueberries were a nice touch, and I'd love to try other fruits as well - maybe cherries? I'm not sure if I'd want to go the chocolate chip route with this dough, but hey, they make chocolate chip muffins, so why not?

Blueberry Brown Butter Cookies
slightly adapted from A Cozy Kitchen
Makes 32 cookies

2 sticks butter
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1/4 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 T. whole milk
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
6 oz. blueberries

1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Keep a close eye on the butter around the 2-3 minute mark as it darkens to a light brown. As soon as it does, turn off the heat.

2. Add the sugar and brown sugar to the saucepan, and whisk to combine. Slowly add the egg and egg yolk, and whisk quickly so the egg doesn't scramble. Add the milk and vanilla extract, and mix until well combined. Add the flour, salt and baking soda, and fold until no streaks of flour remain. Gently stir in the blueberries, taking care to break as few as possible. Refrigerate the dough for an hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 

4. Scoop Tablespoonfuls of dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Bake for 14 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through. Watch those jammy blueberries when you shove one in your mouth as soon as it gets out of the oven - they're hot!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

you're gone

It is with heavy heart that I report the last of my delicious corned beef is gone.

Can I tell you what else makes my heart heavy? The fact that I can't seem to season my cast-iron pan to save my life. Don't worry - I've read everything I can about the subject. It just doesn't happen. Take this Corned Beef Hash, for example. No glistening non-stick surface for me. Somehow, the very first layer of potato burned a bit - silver lining: everything above that layer was non-stick!

I mean, it wasn't that big of a deal, and gave me an excuse to completely scour the pan with steel wool, soap and water in an attempt to start over and re-season. The hash was also none the worse for wear - tender, but still in distinct pieces. I really hate that shredded corned beef hash - makes me think of dog food. I tried to sneak in a little nutrition in the form of spinach, but was iffy about it - it didn't add to or detract from the dish - I might try broccoli next time just for some extra texture.

Corned Beef Hash
Serves 4, generously

4 T. olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. red potatoes, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large onion, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 lb. corned beef, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
3 oz. spinach, roughly chopped (optional)
8 eggs

1. In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the potatoes and onion, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender and golden brown.

2. Add the corned beef and spinach (if using), and stir to heat the corned beef and wilt the spinach. Remove from heat.

3. Fry or poach the eggs to your liking. Serve over a bed of corned beef hash.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

not in love

March Madness. Or March Sadness, according to some of my bracketing friends. Frankly, I can't stand collegiate basketball. I'm sure some of it is because my alma mater hasn't done anything interesting since my freshman year there, but come on - a 35-second shot clock. It is literally watching paint dry.

But Matty's got two teams in the tourney that he semi-cares about - Syracuse (where he's from) and Miami (where he went to school), so we're kind of casually keeping an eye on everything.

With all the games tonight, I couldn't spend too much time in the kitchen, so I started the rub on the steak before we sat down to the Syracuse game, and then everything else came together in about 10 minutes during halftime.

Unfortunately, as with my relationship with college basketball, these sounded totally up my alley, but I'm afraid I was a little disappointed with both. Here's what I would change for each:

Coffee- and Chipotle-Rubbed Steak Bites
- To be honest, other than Matty's smoked meats, I'm not really into rubs or marinades when it comes to steak. Salt and pepper it, grill it, thank you. So take it with a grain of salt that I thought the spices were a little overwhelming and completely masked the taste of what looked to be a really delicious rib-eye.
- If I were into rubs, I would still say this was too sweet, and I would decrease the brown sugar to 1 teaspoon.

Miso Butter Asparagus
- The miso butter was way too salty for my taste. I really should know better than to just blindly dump ingredients in. I've revised the recipe below so you don't make my mistake.
- All that being said, this was extremely flavorful. I can imagine this as a delightfully savory breakfast, spread thickly on some Hawaiian bread.

Coffee- and Chipotle-Rubbed Steak Bites
slightly adapted from Serious Eats
Serves 2

1 T. ground coffee
2 t. brown sugar
1 t. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t. chipotle powder
salt and pepper, to taste
1 lb. rib-eye
1 T. canola oil

1. Make the rub: Combine the coffee, sugar, cocoa powder, chipotle powder and salt and pepper in a large bowl.

2. Cut the rib-eye into 1-inch cubes and toss with the rub, making sure to massage the spices into the meat. Set aside for at least 40 minutes.

3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. When the oil is shimmering, place the beef in an even layer and sear without stirring for 2 minutes. Shake the pan to cook the other sides, about another 2 minutes, or until done to your liking. Serve immediately.

Miso Butter Asparagus
slightly adapted from YumSugar
Serves 2

12 oz. trimmed asparagus spears
1 T. olive oil
1 t. sherry vinegar
4 T. butter, at room temperature
2-4 T. white miso

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the asparagus with olive oil, and roast until tender, about 7-10 minutes.

2. In a small bowl, beat together the butter and miso.

3. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar and butter, and melt over medium heat. Remove from heat and beat in the miso, one T. at a time until it is flavored to your liking.

4. Spread 2 T. of miso butter on each of two plates, and top with asparagus. Serve immediately.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

healthy again

I figure after two straight dessert posts (which followed a grilled cheese post), I better prove that I still eat vegetables. Even if they are on the same plate as a luscious ball of burrata.

The original recipe was simply a lemon-dressed plate of fennel, topped with burrata and mint. While that sounded mighty refreshing for an appetizer, I wanted something a lot more substantial for dinner. A quick look in the crisper yielded a fairly perfect salad. Tailor with your favorite vegetables (or whatever you need to get rid of in the fridge) - you'd be hard-pressed to go wrong.

Spinach-Fennel Burrata Salad
inspired by Food52
Serves 2

1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
2 T. olive oil
2 T. lemon juice
3 oz. sugar snap peas, sliced thinly
3 c. spinach
3/4 c. shredded carrots
one 4-oz. ball of burrata

1. In a large bowl, combine the fennel, olive oil and lemon juice. Toss to coat. Let sit for 10 minutes.

2. Add the remaining vegetables and toss to coat. Divide the salad between two plates, and top with half a ball of burrata each. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

happy birthday sweet

My fondest comments, and what I consider to be big compliments, are when my friend Tamra posts a "GIMME!" on my food Instagram photos. It's her birthday today, so I went through my photos to remind myself what she had commented on. But when I went through my account, I ended up noticing that most of the comments were on savory items, and you really can't bring someone a pasta salad for a birthday gift.

Armed with the knowledge that she has a huge sweet tooth, I swung for the fences and replaced peanut butter with crunchy cookie butter for these Speculoos Streusel Brownies. I under-compensated on the sugar in the brownie batter because I was using dark chocolate, and not unsweetened chocolate, as called for in the original recipe, but with the extra sweetness of the cookie butter, each bite had just the perfect level.

I will say the streusel didn't crumble as much as I would have liked. Perhaps it was because of the cookie butter substitution, but I might add more flour, or maybe even a handful of oats to the mixture next time. And there will be a next time - did I mention the original recipe was for peanut butter streusel?

Speculoos Streusel Brownies
adapted from Bake or Break 
Makes 16 2-inch brownies

For the brownies:
4 oz. 72% dark chocolate
3/4 c. salted butter
1 c. white sugar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 c. flour
1 t. vanilla extract

For the streusel:
1/2 c. flour
1/3 c. crunchy speculoos
1 T. white sugar
1 T. brown sugar
2 T. salted butter, melted

1. Place chocolate and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave in 30-second intervals until both are mostly melted. Stir until smooth. Set aside to cool.

2. Meanwhile, make the streusel: Stir the 1/2 c. flour, speculoos, 1 T. sugar, 1T. brown sugar and 2 T. melted butter together with a fork until blended and crumbly. Set aside.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper, and grease the parchment paper and sides of the pan.

4. When the chocolate mixture has cooled, add 1 c. sugar and 1 c. brown sugar, and stir until blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, and whisk until just blended. Stir in flour and vanilla. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Sprinkle the streusel mixture evenly over the brownie batter.

5. Bake for 50-54 minutes, or until a pick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars, and serve.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

a matter of crust

Well, I'm completely horrified. I let Pi Day come and go without even eating a slice of pie, much less make one. 

To make it up to you (and to me), I made two pies over the last two days. I wish I had reason/justification to make one every day. I love pie-making almost as much as I love pie-eating. 

The first pie was Sunday night for St. Patrick's Day. I was already going to make my Irish grilled cheese sandwich, but couldn't hold it against Matty when he asked what Irish-themed dessert I was going to make. I bought mint gelato as a back-up, but while he went to Home Depot (his mecca), I went to Trader Joe's (mine) armed a grocery list filled with pistachio pie ingredients.

I originally wanted to make a pistachio pound cake, but figured a pie might be greener. When I first Googled "pistachio pie," I definitely got green - all I saw was chemically-enhanced pastel-green cream pies. I'm not knocking it, but since this dessert was quite specifically for Matty and not the kind of stuff I'd secretly make while he was on tour to eat all by myself and not tell anyone about, I passed on them. 

As you can see, the real pistachio pie I ended up making wasn't very green at all. It also wasn't really knock-your-socks-off-good, but it's afternoon-tea-with-a-book good. The flavors don't take your breath away immediately, but as you chew, the lovely roasted flavor of the pistachios start coming out and dancing with the not-too-sweet honey syrup, and before you know it, there's a subdued little party in your mouth. 

Honey Pistachio Pie
slightly adapted from La Fuji Mama
Makes one 9-inch pie

For the honey syrup:
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. honey
1 t. salt
6 T. butter, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/4 c. heavy whipping cream
2 large eggs

For the pie:
your favorite pie dough
2 c. roasted, unsalted pistachios

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. Make the honey syrup: Combine the sugar, honey and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Let melt until the sugar is completely dissolved, shaking the saucepan often to prevent burning. Remove from the heat, and stir until the butter until combined. Set aside to cool.

3. Whisk the cream and eggs together in a bowl. Slowly pour the cream mixture into the cooled honey mixture, whisking until thoroughly combined. Add in the pistachios, and stir to combine.

4. Fit the pie dough into a 9-inch pie pan. Fill the pan with the honey-pistachio mixture.

5. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Allow to cool completely before serving.

I forgot to tell you that I really added another bit of Irish flair (and a whole lot of delicious fat) to the pistachio pie crust by using Kerrygold butter. So good.

But if we're talking about pie crust stars (no pun intended), I bow down to a brand new technique I was finally patient enough to try - the highly lauded Chez Pim technique. It is worth the 5 extra minutes of rolling.

I mean, I used to dread rolling pie crust with my old rickety rolling pin. I did it for the love of pie, but I hated it. Thankfully, Matty got me a lovely French rolling pin for Christmas, and now I roll out pie crust like it's my job. 

This technique starts out with Melissa Clark's pie dough - 1 1/4 c. flour, 10 T. salted butter and about 4 T. ice water. Made in a food processor (I may love my rolling pin, but I don't love my dough cutter). Yes, you could probably get bigger chunks of butter still in the dough, making bigger air pockets when it melts in the oven, for even flakier crust, but until I have a non-tiled countertop (and maybe a maid), I don't think I can bring myself to start with Pim's method.

But. You must. Do the letter-folding-rolling business. After you've chilled your pie dough disk, roll it out into a long rectangle. Then fold it into thirds like you were folding a letter to put into an envelope (remember when we used to mail letters?). This time, it's actually okay if it's not exactly in thirds because you're going to roll it out again. And fold it into a letter again. I stopped there, but you can do it up to 2 more times for even flakier goodness. When you've rolled to your heart's content, roll it into the round you need for the pie pan, and prepare for swooning.

It doesn't hurt that the filling is blueberry heaven as well. I really wish I could have sourced the lemon verbena leaves called for in the original recipe, but I was not to be so lucky in this round of grocery shopping. I actually tried looking at various nurseries as well since we're in the middle of a huge gardening/landscaping project, but no luck there either. Oh well.

With just a couple T. of lemon juice and the zest of one lemon, the citrus really only served to brighten up a very pure blueberry flavor. I wouldn't say it was particularly lemon-y at all, which is really fine by me, but if you're looking to add that dimension, squeeze in a little more juice - you have that whole lemon to work with, after all.

I made the pie above for my friend Nicole, and had enough filling and crust leftover to make a quality-control baby pie for me and Matty. Could not stop eating it. That pie crust tasted like a more substantial puff pastry. You know how puff pastry basically just shatters in your mouth and gets crumbs everywhere? This had all the great butter flavor and texture, but gave you a little more to hold on to. 

I've got a couple birthdays coming up, and I just cannot wait to ply pie on everyone just so I can play some more with this crust. 

Blueberry Pie
slightly adapted from Heidi Swanson via Herriott Grace
Makes one 9-inch pie

your favorite pie dough
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. flour
1/4 t. salt
1 1/2 lbs. blueberries
zest of 1 lemon
2 T. fresh lemon juice
2 T. butter

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Roll out 3/4-ths of your pie dough into an 11-inch round. Line your pie plate with the round, trim any overhang, and crimp the edges. Roll out the remaining dough and use your favorite cookie cutters to make about 3-4 pie crust shapes. Refrigerate both the pie pan and the shapes for about 10 minutes.

3. In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, salt, blueberries, lemon zest and lemon juice. Toss gently until well combined. 

4. Fill the chilled pie crust with the blueberry mixture, and dot the top with the butter. Arrange the shapes on top of the pie, and bake for about 45 minutes, checking after 25 minutes to make sure the crust doesn't get too dark - tent with foil, if necessary.

5. When the pie is done, let cool slightly and serve.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

you're not green

A while back, my friend Karen posted on Facebook a photo of a lovely green pesto cheese. The first thing that popped into my head was that I was going to make a grilled cheese sandwich out of that and some corned beef come St. Patrick's Day.

Well, like all things fabulous at Trader Joe's, it was not available when I went looking for it this afternoon. I was so disappointed. They had a sage derby cheese that was green, but that I didn't recall liking when I tried it last. I was tempted to visit another store, but I was trying to make the best use of daylight for our new gardening/landscaping project that I decided to settle for the Irish cheddar with porter.

Now, this is not a cheese for the faint of heart. It is not cute. It's less cute when grated, and even less cute on the grater. But for what it's lacking in looks, it makes up for a thousand-fold in taste. Extremely rich and creamy, with no annoying beer-y aftertaste. In fact, there's not much beer taste at all, which is actually fine by me, but beware if that's what you're looking for.

The corned beef was also stunningly good, although I shouldn't be too surprised since most of Trader Joe's pre-marinated meats, etc. are really quite good. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a package under 2 lbs., so I guess I'll have to make more sandwiches this week and corned beef hash next weekend. Darn.

Corned Beef Grilled Cheese
Serves 1

2 slices potato bread
2 T. mayonnaise
2 oz. Trader Joe's Vintage Irish Cheddar with Porter, grated
2 oz. Trader Joe's Uncured Corned Beef Brisket, thinly sliced

1. Spread 1 T. mayonnaise on one side of each of the bread slices.

2. Place the mayo side of the bread on a heated skillet, then layer on 1 oz. of cheese, the brisket, the remaining cheese, and the last slice of bread, mayo-side up.

3. Cook until the bottom is golden brown, press on the sandwich with a spatula to adhere all the elements with the newly melted cheese, then flip. Cook until that side is golden brown. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

oil slick

Impromptu vegan dinner for my Laker-loving friend, Jason. Sadly, I couldn't join him and Matty for the game watch - East Coast away games means I'm frantically refreshing and hopping in the car to hear the rest of the game on the radio while I drive home from work. I must have been a sight along Beverly Blvd., fist-bumping my car roof at each of Dwight Howard's eight. free throws. in a row. It's the little things.

This salad's been on my list for a while, and finally made it to this week's menu. All kismet, then, that Jason decided to stay for dinner. Of course, since the game ended way before I got home, it was a good thing this doesn't take too long at all - the longest part was cooking the quinoa.

I'd cut down on the olive oil next time. With 5 T. of oil and 2 T. soy sauce, it was indeed a delicious, savory dish, but I don't think it would hurt to cut a T. to cut away at those calories. I also didn't think the coconut flakes did much for the dish, and perhaps I could replace another T. of olive oil with coconut oil, just to give it the flavor with the papery texture of the coconut.

I'm not a huge fan of kale chips (I know - a food blogger who hates kale chips - whoever's heard of such a thing!), so I originally hesitated on the baking method, thinking instead I should just massage the kale well with the dressing, and then leave it to sit a bit, but 10 minutes in the oven really just breaks down the kale slightly, without giving it the disappointing popcorn flavor I associate with kale chips. I'm sure this salad would be great raw, too, if you're strapped for time, or when it's too hot to turn on the oven (i.e. the rest of this week).

Coconut Kale Quinoa Bowl
Serves 3
adapted from Shutterbean

4 T. olive oil
1 T. sesame oil
2 T. soy sauce
1 bag of Trader Joe's kale (10 oz.)
1 oz. of Trader Joe's roasted coconut chips
1 1/2 c. cooked quinoa

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the oils and the soy sauce. Add the kale, and toss thoroughly to coat.

3. Spread the kale evenly on a baking sheet, and bake until the kale is wilted and golden in spots, about 10 minutes.

4. Remove from the oven, and toss with the coconut chips. Add the cooked quinoa, and toss to season the quinoa. Serve warm.

Monday, March 11, 2013

with zest

Pasta will be my downfall. It kills me to have to portion control that much deliciousness. Especially when it's this lovely, light, springy deliciousness. I just couldn't stop eating!

This is a dish that's perfect for leftovers. Didn't use all the ricotta in the tub after your recipe only called for 2 T.? The rest of it makes the sauce for this pasta. Got a couple handfuls of extra greens? The original recipe is made with arugula, but how broccoli or spinach or even green beans couldn't be anything but delicious is beyond me. Need protein? Roast the half a pack of chicken you didn't cook for your dog's dinner, throw in the leftover grocery store rotisserie, maybe a couple shrimp or scallops. Don't need protein? Don't add anything. Infinitely flexible.

Now, I'm not normally a fan of lemon in savory applications, so I only used half the amount of lemon juice called for (although I did use the full amount of zest). For me, that worked out fine - just enough to brighten the dish, but not enough to make me think of lemon meringue pie. Mmm, pie...

Lemon Ricotta Spaghetti w/ Buttermilk Roasted Chicken
adapted from Food52
Serves 6

2 lb. chicken leg quarters
1 c. buttermilk
1 T. olive oil
1 lb. angel hair pasta
1 c. fresh ricotta
zest of 1 lemon
juice from 1/2 lemon
7 oz. arugula
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Combine the chicken leg pieces and buttermilk in a large Ziploc bag in the morning. Let marinate in the fridge while you're at work.

2. When you get home, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Add 1 T. olive oil to a large oven-proof skillet, and place the drained chicken in it. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes.

3. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta to al dente. Reserve 1/4 c. pasta water, then drain pasta and set aside.

4. When the chicken is done, remove it to a cutting board to cool slightly. Put the skillet full of pan juices on a burner, and whisk in the ricotta, lemon zest and lemon juice. Add the arugula, and toss to coat.

5. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the bones and roughly chop the meat. Add to the skillet along with the cooked pasta. Turn the heat up to medium low, and stir to wilt the arugula and thoroughly combine the pasta and ricotta. Add some reserved pasta water if it seems dry. Adjust seasonings to taste, and serve immediately.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

exclamation mark

Okay. I'm ready to talk about it now. The dishes have all been put away, all of the leftovers have been eaten, and there is one slice of cake in the fridge that will be my reward for finishing this epic post.

Dad's birthday dinner:
- Roasted Garlic +  Bacon Standing Beef Rib Roast: a lot of really time-consuming, fussy steps, but one whiff of that garlic + bacon paste and one bite of beef, and you forget everything
- Shrimp Mac + Cheese: inspired by an amazing photo Matty's parents emailed me from Florida
- Caesar Salad w/ Home-Grown Lettuce

You'll see why it took me an entire week to discuss. It nearly took me that long to finish the dishes from the feast (my sink is embarrasingly small - it's the first thing getting replaced in the eventual kitchen remodel). But I couldn't have been happier - four full hours of working and producing one of the finest meals I've done in a while, if I do say so myself.

Roasted Garlic + Bacon Standing Beef Rib Roast
slightly adapted from Food52
Serves 6

3 heads of garlic
1 T. olive oil
3 strips bacon
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
1 T. Dijon mustard
5 lbs. standing beef rib roast, at room temperature
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
3 T. butter
1 c. thinly sliced shallots
1 c. beef broth
1 c. dry red wine

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut off the top third of each head of garlic, and place all on a square of foil. Drizzle with the olive oil, and wrap the foil loosely around the garlic. Roast for 1 hour. Set aside to cool. Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees.

2. Meanwhile, cook the bacon until crisp. Crumble and set aside, reserving the bacon fat.

3. When the garlic has cooled enough to handle, squeeze the cloves out of their skins into a mortar. Add the salt, pepper, bacon fat and Dijon, and pestle all together until combined. Set aside.

4. Place the shallots, 1/2 c. beef broth, and 1/2 c. wine in a 13x9 roasting pan, and stir to combine. Place the roast over the mixture, bones facing down. Brush the top and all sides with the roasted gaelic paste. Place the pan into the oven, and roast for 15 minutes.

5. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees, and continue to roast for 1 hour. After the hour, add 1/2 c. beef broth and 1/2 c. wine to the bottom of the roasting pan. Continue to roast until the temperature reaches 125 degrees for medium-rare. When the roast is done, place it on a cutting board, tented with foil, and let rest for 15 minutes.

6. While the beef is resting, saute the mushrooms in the butter until golden-brown. Add the mushrooms and crumbled bacon to the pan juices. Serve over slices of beef.

Shrimp Mac + Cheese
inspired by Matty's mom
Serves 12 (at least)

1 lb. pasta
4 T. butter
1 c. whole milk
1 lb. Velveeta, cubed
8 oz. shredded Cheddar cheese
1 lb. frozen shrimp, thawed and cut into thirds
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta until al dente. Set aside.

2. Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the milk and bring to a boil, whisking all the while. Add Velveeta and Cheddar, and stir until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Add cooked pasta and diced shrimp to saucepan, and toss to coat. Pour into a 13x9 casserole dish.

4. Bake in a 350 degree oven until bubbling. Cool slightly, and serve.

And, of course, the cake. First of all, you'd think candy cake decorating letters would come with an exclamation mark. I mean, it's "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" not, "oh, yeah, happy birthday."

But luckily, the cake (and more specifically, the entirely-too-sweet-but-how-do-you-hate-something-that-is-so-evocative-of-your-childhood frosting), was enough exclamation mark on the whole evening. As was the Laker game we were watching. So I guess, no need for candy exclamation marks. Happy birthday, Dad!

Best Birthday Cake
from Smitten Kitchen
makes one 2-layer, 9-inch cake

For the cake:
4 c. plus 2 T. cake flour
2 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 sticks butter, softened
2 t. vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 c. buttermilk, well-shaken

For the frosting:
6 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
4 1/2 c. powdered sugar
3 sticks butter, at room temperature
6 T. whole milk
1 T. vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line with circles of parchment paper, then butter parchment.

2. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well ad scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined. Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just incorporated.

3. Spread batter evenly in cake pans, then rap pan on counter several time to eliminate air bubbles. Bake until golden, and a pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.

4. While the cake is cooling, place all of the frosting ingredients in a food processor and pulse to incorporate. Then process until the frosting is smooth.

5. When the cake is cool, frost generously. After all, it is a celebration!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

saturday morning

Do people brunch on Saturdays? I feel like no one ever talks about Saturday brunch. Sunday Brunch has really cornered the market on weekend breakfasting.

Well, I'm here to yell from the rooftop about today's brunch. I was so happy with how everything turned out, especially for the joyous occasion of celebrating my fellow Trojan, aca-singer lovely friend Liz's engagement.

The Creamed Spinach with Baked Eggs were so decadent. I really wish I had been able to maintain runny yolks throughout, but I absolutely shudder at the thought of unset egg whites, so it was a small price to pay. The perfect, rich creamed spinach bed more than compensated. There is absolutely no need to use heavy whipping cream - whole milk will be just perfect, especially when you consider that there are as many calories in a T. of cream as there are in an entire cup of milk. Take that in for a second.

Creamed Spinach with Baked Eggs
slightly adapted from The Kitchn
Serves 4-8

1 1/2 lbs. baby spinach
4 T. butter
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. flour
2 c. whole milk
1/2 c. finely grated Parmesan
1/2 t. dry mustard
salt and pepper, to taste
8 large eggs, at room temperature

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Working in batches, place the spinach in the boiling water for a few seconds, until it wilts. Quickly transfer the spinach to a colander to drain. When all of the spinach is cool, pick up the spinach in small handfuls and squeeze them as dry as possible. Coarsely chop the spinach, and set aside.

2. Melt the butter in a large oven-safe saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook, whisking continuously, for 1 minute. Sprinkle the flour over the onion mixture, and cook, whisking continuously, for 3 minutes. Do not let the flour brown.

3. Whisk in the milk. Cook the mixture, stirring slowly and continuously, until the sauce comes to a boil and thickens enough to coat the whisk.

4. Stir in the cheese, mustard, salt and pepper. Add the spinach, and mix well to combine.

5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Use the back of a spoon to make 8 indentations in the spinach mixture, and crack an egg into each hollow. Sprinkle the tops with salt and pepper.

6. Bake only until the egg whites are set, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

The papas criollas and Trader Joe's bacon are staples - delightful staples, of course - but nothing to blog about. However, you should really take a gander at this recipe for Fresh Ginger Muffins. Now this is what a muffin should look and taste like. Like an actual muffin, not a breakfast cupcake. Sturdy. The ginger flavor was perfectly intense, and I can't wait for the next breakfast occasion to make them part of my bread basket. I'm also looking forward to subbing in various other fruits into the delicious batter as the spring and summer progress.

Fresh Ginger Muffins
slightly adapted from Orangette
Makes 12 muffins

3-inch piece of unpeeled ginger root
3/4 c. plus 3 T. sugar
2 T. grated lemon zest
8 T. butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 c. buttermilk
2 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
3/4 t. baking soda

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a muffin tin.

2. In the bowl of a food processor, process the ginger until it is in tiny pieces. Measure out at least 1/4 c. of ginger.

3. Put the ginger and 1/4 c. sugar in a small skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar has melted. Add the lemon zest and 3 T. of sugar. Set aside.

4. Combine the butter and the remaining 1/2 c. sugar in the bowl of stand mixer, and beat until smooth. Add the eggs, and beat well. Add the buttermilk, and beat until blended. Add the flour, salt and baking soda, and beat just until smooth. Add the ginger-lemon mixture, and beat to mix well.

5. Divide the batter between the 12 muffin cups. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Serve warm.

all will be well

Despite the timing issues I had with Thursday night's dinner , I did manage to throw dessert together. I was having such guilt about being late and leaving Matty with all the work, that I figured it was the least I could do.

Plus, after seeing the recipe (and accompanying photo) for this Magic Custard Cake the day before, I was not going to lose an excuse to make it. Before Matty got the pasta-maker attachment on the Kitchen-Aid, I snuck in to whip up the egg whites.

Everything else was super easy - basically a dump cake. I can't find my 8x8 pan to save my life - did I leave it at one of your homes? - so I used 4 ramekins for us, and then baked the rest in a 9-inch cake pan.

I'll be honest, I was so frantic, I broke a yolk into the egg whites, and had to dump the whole thing. Then I lost track of how many whites I had, and now that I think about it, I think I ended up with 5 or 6. Which could explain why the cake rose so high, only to sink like a souffle upon removal from the oven. Luckily, Diane has since posted a chocolate version, so I'll be able to double-check the effects of the egg whites as soon as I can justify baking another cake.

All's well that ends well, though. The cake was delicious, and made even better with a little scoop of Jeni's Salty Caramel ice cream. Alone, it's not very sweet - it reminds me of the egg tarts you can get at Asian bakeries. Actually, I think my parents would really like this, so it'll be on the menu the next time we have a dinner party. Or maybe the chocolate version.

Magic Custard Cake
from White on Rice

1/2 c. butter
2 c. milk
4 eggs, separated
1 1/4 c. powdered sugar
1 T. water
1 c. flour
1 t. vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease an 8x8 baking dish (or in my case, a 9-inch round cake pan + 4 ramekins).

2. Melt the butter, and set aside to cool. Warm the milk to lukewarm and set aside.

3. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. Set aside.

4. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light. Mix in the melted butter and the T. of water until evenly incorporated.

5. Whisk in the flour. Slowly beat in the milk and vanilla extract until everything is well mixed.

6. Lightly whisk in the egg whites, 1/3 at a time. Repeat until all of the egg whites are folded in.

7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until the top is golden. If desired, dust the cake with additional powdered sugar after it has completely cooled.

P.S. My friend Lynn came over for a couple slices on this morning, and in return, I got this precious photo of my Duchess. Couldn't help but share. She's actually been super good about not begging when we cook/eat, but even she couldn't resist the siren call of this cake!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

but i'm running behind

Murphy's Law strikes again. When you're just cooking for yourself and your dog, traffic is great, you get home with enough time to make yourself a cocktail, and then you leisurely putz around the kitchen before snuggling up to the bar and watching the Laker game on tape-delay.

But if your out-of-town dinner guest is scheduled to be there at 8p, meetings run long, everyone forgets how to drive, and you end up encouraging your guest to get his fill of cocktails before you get home so he doesn't realize how late it is when you finally put dinner on the table.

Luckily, Matty made this entire meal. Truly, I can't take credit for anything but menu planning. And I don't know if it's because I didn't make it, or if I was too stressed to do anything but chew, but this was one of the finer ravioli I've ever had.

It was so light and springy, with just the tiniest bit of Parmesan in the filling, which could easily be left out. No ricotta to weigh you down here. And the sauce was super simple, but the slight acidity was just the thing the sweet artichoke needed to be perfectly balanced.

I just have the filling and sauce recipes below. Use your favorite fresh pasta dough recipe to make the wrappers, or if your day has been crazy, too, go ahead and grab a pack of wonton wrappers. It's okay.

Artichoke Ravioli
slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Serves 4

2 T. butter
1 small onion, chopped
10 oz. frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and patted dry
1/2 c. grated Parmesan
1/3 c. chopped parsley
1 large egg yolk
1/2 t. fresh lemon juice
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper

1. Melt butter in a lage skillet over moderately high heat. Saute the onion, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 6 minutes. Add artichoke hearts and saute, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.

2. Transfer the artichoke mixture to the bowl of a food processor, then add Parmesan, parsley, egg yolk, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and pulse until mixture is coarsely chopped.

Odd Fellow Marinara
slightly adapted from Barbara Lynch's Stir
Serves 4

1 T. olive oil
1 small onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, choped
1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 c. red wine
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2 t. salt

1. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is just tender, about 8 minutes.

2. Add the wine, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook for a few minutes until it's reduced by about half.

3. Add the tomatoes and their juice and 1/2 t. salt. Simmer for about 10 minutes, then adjust seasoning as desired.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

to keep warm

Not at all a fabulous photo, but a fantastic soup, and perfect for a night threatening to rain.

To be honest, I thought this was all going to come together much faster than it did. I think I just assumed the convenience of store-bought smoked salmon would translate into convenience when making this soup, but really, you've got to spend a little time with it to get the potatoes tender, etc.

And I had a hell of a time with my potato. I have no idea where Matty found it, but it was a 1-lb. monstrosity that took 45 minutes to cook down. Considering all that starchiness, I chose not to add the flour to make a roux, and considering all the extra carb-y calories, I chose to mash some of the potato cubes to make it a thicker soup without adding cream.

We also ended up using hot-smoked salmon rather than regular ol' lox because Matty thought it would hold up better. It was actually very interesting how just warming the sturdy-when-cold salmon in the soup gave it a melt-in-your-mouth consistency. I'm very curious to see how regular lox does, and will have to try this again the next time it dips below 50 degrees in LA.

Lox Chowder
adapted from Russ & Daughters via The New York Times
Serves 2-4

1 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
1 medium leek, cleaned, trimmed and thinly sliced
3 oz. shredded carrots
2 ribs celery, trimmed and diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large, starchy potato, peeled and diced (mine was 1 lb.)
2 t. fresh thyme leaves
1 c. white zinfandel
3 c. water
1 bay leaf
2 c. whole milk
6 oz. hot-smoked salmon, flaked
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Melt the butter with the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot set over medium heat. Add leek, carrot and celery, and cook until the vegetables have softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, potato and thyme, and cook until the garlic is fragrant, an additional 2 to 3 minutes.

2. Add the wine, water and bay leaf, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes. Push a potato masher through the mixture five times just to slightly thicken the soup.

3. Add the milk, and bring to a simmer. Add the salmon, and stir gently just to warm.

4. Remove the bay leaf and discard. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Monday, March 4, 2013

searching for some inspiration

Dinner was a challenge to get on the table today. I think I blew all my cooking mojo and inspiration on last night's dinner feast in honor of my Dad's birthday. (Post going up soon. I usually wait to recover - read: get through all the dishes - before I can think about posting big dinner parties).

Tonight was about a series of texts between me and Matty - I can't think of anything to cook / Should we go out? / I'm not feeling that restaurant tonight / Fine, how about this recipe I found on the Interwebs / Oh, that sounds good! / Yeah, it does, doesn't it?

I was sorely disappointed in the cauliflower, but I'm sure that was entirely my fault. I took a few shortcuts from the original recipe - I didn't have time to marinate a whole head of cauliflower and then take an hour to bake it, and I couldn't be bother to mortar and pestle together a tandoori spice mix that sounded a lot like pre-made garam masala that I already had. The shortcut resulted in a pretty meh side dish - I would have been better served simplifying it to just plain roasted cauliflower, especially since the lamb and lentils were quite flavorful.

I would have gone with more lamb (or less lentils), but I'm just a bit of a glutton. This was a great, easy, filling and healthy dinner that would reheat very easily for an equally delicious lunch. We had it with flatbread and Trader Joe's Spinach + Kale Greek Yogurt Dip, which is my new favorite thing in life - hi, only 30 calories for 2 chunky Tablespoons of dip. But the possibilities here are limitless - lentils and lamb on rice, over curried potatoes, with actually delicious cauliflower, maybe even bound with an egg for crispy little patties of goodness? Luckily, we had tons left over because a dollop will do ya, so I can't wait to experiment.

Lentils + Lamb
adapted from Food52
Serves 8

1 lb. ground lamb
4 c. freshly cooked French green lentils
2 t. ground cumin
4 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a large deep skillet, brown the lamb, stirring to break the meat up. Add the cooked lentils and cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils begin to brown and pop, 5 to 10 minutes.

2. Add the cumin and garlic, and cook, stirring for about a minute. Season with salt and pepper, and cook until the lentils are cooked to your preferred consistency.

3. Garnish with parsley, and serve with flatbread and Greek yogurt.

Roasted Tandoori Cauliflower
adapted from My New Roots
Serves 3-4

1 medium head cauliflower, cut into florets
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. ground ginger
1 T. garam masala
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 t. salt
1/2 c. Greek yogurt
1 T. olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the garlic, ginger, garam masala, lemon juice, salt and Greek yogurt until well-combined. Add the cauliflower and toss to coat.

3. Grease a foil-lined baking sheet with the olive oil. Transfer the cauliflower to the sheet, and roast in the oven for 30 minutes, tossing once. Serve immediately.

Friday, March 1, 2013

good things take time

For instructions as easy as the below, it still took me a good 45 minutes to put everything together. I'd say this is a great recipe for when you have leftover roast chicken to save yourself an extra step (I poached two chicken leg quarters in enough water to cover for about 30 minutes), but still account for the time it'll take to slice and dice the vegetables, unless your knife skills far surpass mine (which wouldn't be that hard to do).

Completely worth it, though. The kick of the kimchi really elevates what would be a fairly ordinary salad. The lime juice tenderizes the brussels sprouts, but didn't make everything too tangy - it was all so balanced that I didn't bother adding any of the brown sugar called for in the original recipe.

Of course, you can change you protein, or make this completely meatless. It's really all about the Brussels sprouts-kimchi combo. I had my portion alone, Matty served his over rice. I imagine it would be just as good as the bulk of a rice or glass noodle salad.

Spicy Brussels Sprouts + Kimchi Salad with Chicken
adapted from Tasting Table
Serves 6

1 lb. brussels sprouts, halved and thinly sliced
1 c. kimchi, thinly sliced
1/4 c. roasted peanuts
12 oz. cooked chicken, shredded
zest of 1 lime
1 T. lime juice
salt, pepper and Sriracha, to taste

1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, and toss to coat. Adjust seasoning to taste, and serve - alone, or over rice.