Thursday, October 29, 2015

how to get to sesame street


Another meal brought to you by the color orange. And sesame.

To be honest, all I needed was that salmon tartare, and shockingly, 4 oz. is entirely too much for one human to consume. I would easily pop 2 more eggs in to get soft-boiled, and then split the 1/2-lb. of salmon between 4 plates.

But no matter the serving size, the tartare is a true dream. I don't know if it's because I've recently had a painfully mediocre sushi experience, but I could have this for dinner every night. Originally, Francis Mallmann, of the brilliant Patagonia Sur and Top 3 best meals of my life, calls for tuna in his book Mallmann On Fire, but I prefer salmon. The breadcrumbs (a Hawaiian roll, in my case) are a perfect complement to a dish that might otherwise be a little too luscious - the rich salmon and the velvety egg yolk are beyond luxurious together, but it was nice to have a little texture break with the sweet and crunchy toasties.

And once I realized that my Thanksgiving test recipe, Chilled Carrots with Tahini-Ginger Dressing, were sesame-involved (tahini), I immediately subbed sesame oil for the olive oil in the tartare. So many flavors!

Unfortunately, the carrots won't make the Thanksgiving table. I could have been too full from all of the salmon, but they were extremely uninteresting to me. And can I say how much I hate the term "crisp-tender"? What the fuck does that even mean? I think this would be vastly improved just be using the dressing on shredded raw carrots, but I'll wait for next barbecue season to test that out rather than experiment again for November 26th.

And just because the only thing better than "Sesame, Two Ways" is "Sesame, Three Ways," and in order to have just one more color on my dinner plate, I sauteed up the weirdest looking mushrooms I could find at the Asian grocery store, toasted some sesame seeds, and sprinkled them on top.

But on with this tartare!

Salmon Tartare with Crunchy Bread Crumbs
adapted from Francis Mallmann's Mallmann on Fire
serves 2-4

1 King's Hawaiian dinner roll
2 large eggs
1/2 lb. sashimi grade salmon
sesame oil for drizzling
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roughly tear apart the roll into pieces smaller than croutons, but a bit larger than standard bread crumbs. Toss the crumbs with enough sesame oil to coat, and toast in the oven for about 5 minutes, until golden.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the eggs, and boil for exactly 4 minutes. Cool in an ice bath.

3. Dice the salmon into 1/4-inch cubes.

4. Divide the bread crumbs between 2 (or 4) plates. Top with the diced salmon, and drizzle with a little sesame oil. Peel each egg, break, and gently place on top of the salmon. Salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

Chilled Carrots with Tahini-Ginger Dressing
slightly adapted from Serious Eats
serves 4

1 lb. carrots, trimmed, scrubbed, and sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick spears
2 T. olive oil
1 T. lemon juice
zest from 1/2 lemon
1 t. grated fresh ginger
2 t. tahini

salt and pepper, to taste

1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and fill a large bowl with ice water. Add carrots, and cook until tender-crisp, about 3 minutes. Drain, and immediately transfer the carrots to the water bath to chill.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, ginger, and tahini. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

3. Drain the carrots, add to the bowl of dressing, and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Monday, October 26, 2015

it's not love, but it's not bad


The theory of this Chorizo Bolognese was so good, but I think I short-changed it by skipping a step. I didn't feel like having to clean my food processor, so I chose to just throw the diced chorizo into the pot rather than process it to a more traditional bolognese consistency.

The flavor was great - super intense and spice-y (distinction: not spicy, but spice-y) - but the texture was off-putting to me. I also wonder if the recipe wouldn't be better with fresh chorizo uncased, skipping any further processing altogether. I think this would also be a great vegetarian dish with the fantastic soyrizo you can get from Trader Joe's.

As it was, I basically skipped the chorizo chunks and tossed the pasta with the liquid parts of the juice, and then just smothered it all with a lot of fresh, cool burrata. Food processing or otherwise, no one really loses with this one.

Chorizo Bolognese with Burrata
slightly adapted from Donna Hay
serves 8

500 g dried chorizo, cases removed and diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 c. red wine
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 lb. tagliatelle
4 balls burrata

1. In a large fan, cook the chorizo and garlic for 3-4 minutes or until golden and crispy. Add the wine and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomato, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium, cover with a lid and cook for 5-6 minutes or until the liquid has slightly reduced.

2. While the chorizo mixture is cooking, cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water for until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 c. of the cooking liquid.

3. Add the reserved cooking liquid to the chorizo mixture and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Divide the pasta among 8 plates. Top the pasta with the chorizo mixture, half a ball of burrata, and serve immediately.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

almost there


'Tis the season for Thanksgiving test recipes. And fall foods that are more than a little orange. Trying to give Halloween some love as well.

This Cauliflower Cheddar Soup is a real winner in all the right categories for Thanksgiving - it's delicious, it's accessible for all palates (vegetarianize it with vegetable broth, veganize by further replacing the butter - I was thinking coconut oil), and it can be made in advance. It also makes a shocking amount, so if you're serving it as an appetizer, you can absolutely feed the whole crew.

And #BecauseCarbs, I thought I'd try a biscuit recipe. I'm actually not a huge fan of dinner rolls - I truly think that bread before a meal is a trick to fill you up, and I'm usually too busy dealing with smoked turkey, and andouille stuffing, and Brussels sprouts, and anything else other than bread on my Thanksgiving plate. But these wonderfully fall-sounding Pumpkin Sage Biscuits were impossible to pass up. They're quite good, and if I don't get too side-tracked with other sides, they'll go on the menu. I wouldn't bother veganizing them, though - the recipe below is what I'd do instead, and if you're looking for the vegan version, follow the link to Minimalist Baker.

The fried chicken? Oh, just a little something extra to tide us over - just in case soup and biscuits wouldn't cut it. To be honest, it was more than enough, but leftover fried chicken is not really in my vocabulary, so we were real champs about it, and polished it all off. After all, you've got to exercise that waistband for Thanksgiving, too, don't you now?

Cauliflower Cheddar Soup
from Simply Recipes
serves 8-12

2 T. butter
2 c. sliced onion
1 1/2 c. sliced celery
1/2 c. sliced carrot
1 1/2 T. minced garlic
1 1/2 to 2 c. thinly sliced yukon gold potatoes
6 c. chicken stock
6 c. of roughly chopped cauliflower florets
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 t. fresh thyme leaves, or 1 t. dried thyme
1 t. salt
1/8 t. black pepper
6 oz. grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 t. Worcestershire sauce

1. Heat the butter in a large 5-6 quart Dutch oven on medium high heat. Add the onions, celery, and carrots. Cook for 5-8 minutes until the onions are softened. Add the minced garlic and cook a minute more.

2. Add the potatoes, stock, cauliflower, bay leaves, thyme, salt, and pepper. Heat on high, and bring the stock to a simmer. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer. Partially cover and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are completely tender.

3. Remove from heat, and remove the bay leaves. Either using an immersion blender or a standing blender, purée the soup mixture until completely smooth.

4. Slowly add the grated cheddar cheese, continuing to purée the soup as you add the cheese, until completely blended. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce. Add more salt and pepper to taste, if needed.

Pumpkin Sage Biscuits
slightly adapted from Minimalist Baker
makes 10 biscuits

3/4 c. buttermilk
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
3/4 t. salt
pinch of cinnamon
4 T. butter
1/4 c. pumpkin puree
3 T. fresh sage, roughly chopped or torn, 1 t. dry sage

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and pumpkin puree.

3. Mix the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add the cold butter, and use your fingertips to combine until only small pieces remain, and it looks like wet sand. Work quickly so the butter doesn’t get too warm. Add chopped sage and mix once more.

4. Using a wooden spoon, stir gently while pouring in the buttermilk-pumpkin mixture, 1/4 c. at a time. You may not need all of it. Stir until just slightly combined – it will be a little sticky, not too much.
Turn onto a lightly floured surface, dust the top with a bit of flour and then very gently turn the dough over on itself a couple times – hardly kneading.

5. Form into a 1-inch thick disc, handling as little as possible. Use a 1-inch thick dough cutter, and push straight down through the dough, then slightly twist. Repeat and place biscuits on a baking sheet in two rows making sure they just touch – this will help them rise uniformly. Gently reform the dough and cut out one or two more biscuits – you should have about 10 biscuits.

6. Brush the tops with a bit more melted butter, and bake for 13-17 minutes or until fluffy and golden brown. Serve immediately as is or with additional butter and/or maple syrup.

get well


Matt is dreadfully sick, which, of course, is affecting his appetite. And sadly, when he does feel hungry enough to eat, his tastebuds don't cooperate.

Breakfast of sick champions today is this incredibly garlicky, somewhat spicy, wholly comforting Sopa de Ajo, or Garlic Soup.

The sum is definitely greater than the parts here - it's simply chicken broth enriched with browned garlic and toasted smoked paprika, poured over an egg, baked (effectively poaching the egg), and then topped with croutons also embellished with garlic and paprika.

Even the sick can find flavor in this intense broth, and I like to think that garlic, spice and wholesome egg will help on his path to wellness.

Sopa de Ajo
serves 4-8

For the soup:
1 T. olive oil
1 T. minced garlic
1 t. paprika
1/8 t.cayenne pepper
4 c. chicken stock
salt, to taste
8 large eggs

For the croutons:
1 T. olive oil
1/2 t. minced garlic
2 c. diced bread
1/2 t. smoked paprika

1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

2. Heat 1 T. olive oil and 1 T. minced garlic in a large saucepan over medium heat until the garlic is lightly browned. Remove from the heat, and quickly stir in the paprika and cayenne so they do not burn and taste bitter. Immediately add the stock, and bring to a boil. Season to taste with salt and set aside.

3. Combine 1 T. olive oil and 1/2 t. garlic in a bowl, add the diced bread, and toss until well coated. Transfer to a baking sheet, and set aside.

4. Carefully place 8 ovenproof ramekins on a baking sheet pan. Break an egg into each ramekin, and divide the soup among them. Bake for 4 to 5 minutes, along with the sheet pan of croutons, until the white of the egg turns opaque but the yolk is still runny, and the croutons are golden.

5. Remove from the soup and croutons from the oven. Toss the croutons with 1/2 t. paprika, and then divide the croutons among the ramekins. Serve immediately.