Tuesday, June 23, 2015

on a Tuesday

I'm post-dating this one for Taco Tuesday - a meal that was actually made on a Tuesday, but an entire month ago, so I have no recollection of what's in that roasted cauliflower, except that it went really well with the Black Bean Filling from the Thug Kitchen cookbook. And I'm sorry if this makes me about 7 years old, but cursing makes me giggle, so I have a real good time with that cookbook.

But the whole point of pulling this out of the photos archive is to talk about the "fish" tacos I made out of hearts of palm and my go-to tempura batter of equal parts flour and beer.

I was first introduced to this mind-blowing concept by an LA chef during a lunch in Miami, probably not on a Tuesday. I really love a good Baja fish taco (no grilled fish tacos for me, thank you), so I was a bit skeptical, but thoroughly impressed, and ultimately won over. Why it's taken me an entire year to replicate it in my own kitchen defies logic, but when we hosted our vegan friend Jason for his birthday, I knew it was time to pull this one out of the memory bank. Unfortunately for Jason, I probably ate most of them. Happy birthday?

Hearts of Palm Fried "Fish"
inspired by Chef Aaron Elliott

equal parts flour and beer
as many hearts of palm as you like, drained
peanut oil, for frying

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and beer until no lumps remain.

2. Heat 2 inches of peanut oil in a Dutch oven until a bit of batter thrown into the oil sizzles and quickly browns.

3. Dip the hearts of palm pieces into the batter, and then fry, turning until golden brown on all sides. Drain on a wire rack set over a baking sheet, and repeat until you run out of hearts of palm.

Black Bean Filling
slightly adapted from Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook

1 t. olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. chili powder
3/4 t. ground cumin
3 c. canned black beans, drained
1 1/2 c. vegetable broth
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, and sauté it until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, and cumin and cook for another 30 seconds.

2. Add the beans and broth, and stir. Mash the beans, but leave some texture, and continue cooking until it is the consistency of chunky guacamole. Season to taste with lime juice, salt and pepper.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

on the strawberry swing

Here's another one for the wedding pie chart.

I can never choose between strawberry and cherry pie. Whichever one I'm eating at the time is my favorite.

This pie makes a strong case for strawberry, though. It's just jam-packed with flavor (pun completely intended). In fact, there may be slightly too much - watch that ginger, and watch the sugar. If I get my way, I'm only going to use Harry's Berries and brown sugar, and cut the granulated completely, but I will be at the mercy of the Farmers Market.

(Also, can we talk about what the hell a "heaping" measure means? Is it just 1 1/2 whatever the measure is? It is, isn't it? Then just write that!)

Strawberry Pie
slightly adapted from Joy the Baker

2 balls of your favorite pie dough

For the filling:
5-6 c. fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced in half
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 c. cornstarch
large pinch of salt
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1/4 t. ground ginger

1. Tin a medium bowl toss together the strawberries, sugars, cornstarch, salt, lemon juice, and ground ginger. Toss until all of the cornstarch has disappeared into the strawberries and let rest for 10 minutes. The strawberries will begin to produce juice.

2. To assemble the pie, on a well-floured surface, roll the bottom crust 1/8″ thick and about 12″ in diameter. Transfer it to a pie pan. Trim the edge almost even with the edge of the pan. Spoon the filling into the pie crust.

3. Roll out the top crust in the same manner. Use a pizza slicer to slice the dough into 1-inch wide strips, and weave the crust strips on top of the pie.

4. To finish, place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

5. Place the pie on the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350°F and bake the pie for 30 minutes more, or until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool completely before serving.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

always want more

Literally the only thing I would change about this recipe is to double the vegetables (original quantities in the recipe below). Both the kale and cabbage shrink down considerably when cooked, and I would have preferred more vegetables on my plate. As it was, I supplemented with some brown rice, so it was still a nice, balanced meal, but I would have skipped the rice altogether with more veggies.

In any case, this was a great, simple weeknight meal. Endlessly scale-able in case you have company, and the presentation belies the ease of preparation.

Salmon with Crispy Cabbage + Kale
slightly adapted from PopSugar
serves 2

2 c. shredded kale
3 c. shredded Napa cabbage
3 T. olive oil, divided
salt, to taste
2 salmon fillets (4 to 6 oz. each)
1/2 t. lemon zest plus 1 T. lemon juice
1 T. fresh thyme leaves
1/2 t. Dijon mustard

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. On a quarter-sheet pan, toss kale and cabbage with 1 T. oil, and spread in an even layer. Season with salt, and bake for 6 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, whisk together lemon zest and juice, thyme, mustard, and remaining 2 T. oil.

4. Spread 1 t. of dressing on each salmon fillet, season it with salt, and add it to the baking sheet. Bake until salmon is cooked through, about 8-9 minutes.

5. Drizzle the salmon and vegetables with more dressing before serving.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

right up my alley

Sometimes, there's not much to say except: GO MAKE THIS NOW.

Matty's a person who is well-aware that I don't repeat many recipes because there's so much to try that we'll never catch up to all my Post-Its and bookmarks, real or digital. However, the second thing out of his mouth was, "Let's keep this on the list to make again." The first thing was, "This is right up my alley."

I can't imagine it not being up a lot of people's alleys. All of those delicious ingredients and aromas meld together to make a much more complex flavor profile than your average peanut-flavored noodle dish. Add a protein if you wish, but it's already so immensely satisfying and addicting just as-is.

Spicy Peanut Soba Noodles with Red Cabbage + Kale
slightly adapted from Food52
serves 2

1 t. sesame oil
4 t. soy sauce
2 t. Sriracha
2 T. peanut butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. shredded kale
1 c. shredded red cabbage
6 oz. soba noodles

1. Start the water boiling to cook the noodles.

2. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, combine the sesame oil, soy sauce, Sriracha, peanut butter, garlic, kale and cabbage. Stir the ingredients to thoroughly combine. Turn off the heat.

3. When the water is boiling, add the noodles, and cook until al dente. Use tongs to add the noodles straight from the water to the sauté pan with the peanut sauce. Add water as necessary to thin the sauce. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

light as a feather

Long day at work today, followed by a long drive home. The halibut had been in the fridge since Sunday's grocery day, but I would've been quite content to risk it going bad by waiting another day in favor of running out for tacos at our favorite spot.

However, I was sweetly convinced to do some cooking, and I'm so glad I did. Especially after I went back into my drafts folder for this recipe, and realized that I had bookmarked it over a year ago.

The only disappointment here is that I waited that long to get to this dish. I took a few liberties with the original recipe to make it a little lighter, and more importantly, a little quicker:

- I didn't have enough carrots after making yet another rabbit food/wedding diet lunch, so I supplemented with cauliflower - all went into the steamer together.

- I skipped the extra saute step once the carrots were steamed. I suppose the extra flavor from the caramelization of the saute would only make this better, but I figured, hell, the carrots were cooked, and I'm hungry - let's just get pureeing.

- Instead of adding olive oil to the puree, I used some (lower-calorie) cashew cream and almond milk to thin out the mixture. It made it perfectly creamy.

I could eat the puree forever. It was light, but at the same time, super satisfying. Like deliciously sweet mashed potatoes. It went just perfectly with the feathery-light halibut fillet, that needed nothing more than the lemon zest-thyme "marinade" on the counter while the vegetables were steaming. This is the kind of dinner I could eat every night.

Halibut with Carrot-Cauliflower Puree
slightly adapted from Suzanne Goin's The A.O.C. Cookbook
serves 2

For the halibut:
2 8-oz. halibut fillets
zest of 1 lemon
1 t. thyme leaves
2 T. pistachio oil

For the puree:
8 oz. carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch rounds
8 oz. cauliflower florets
1/4 c. cashew cream
additional almond milk, to taste

For the vegetables:
6 oz. sugar snap peas, trimmed
1 t. pistachio oil
2 T. shelled, roasted, salted pistachios, chopped

1. Season the fish with the lemon zest and thyme. Set aside.

2. Steam the carrots and cauliflower for about 20 minutes, until tender. Remove to the bowl of a food processor, and add the sugar snap peas to the steamer. Steam the peas for 1 minute, until crisp-tender, then immediately remove to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.

3. Puree the carrots and cauliflower with the cashew cream until the mixture is smooth. Add additional almond milk, as necessary, to thin to your preferred consistency. Set aside.

4. Heat 2 T. pistachio oil in a large skillet over high heat for 2 minutes. Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper. Carefully lay the fish in the pan, and cook 3-4 minutes, until it's lightly browned. Turn the fish over, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook for a few more minutes, until it's cooked through.

5. Divide the cauliflower-carrot puree onto serving plates. Arrange the halibut over the puree.

6. Drain the snap peas, and toss with 1 t. pistachio oil and 2 T. pistachios. Toss to thoroughly combine, and serve alongside the fish.