Tuesday, November 22, 2016

right quick


This was a great flavorful meal that ticks all of the Thanksgiving Eve Eve boxes - fast from fridge to table on this first day of Turkey Day prep, and completely the opposite of any flavors that might end up on Thursday's table.

I used the brown rice-quinoa pasta from Trader Joe's, and loved how the taste and texture complemented the shrimp and saffron. Rich and satisfying, but not heavy.

Now, on to the cornbread.

Saffron Shrimp Pasta with Leeks + Herbs
slightly adapted from Food52
serves 4

12 oz. pasta of your choice
4 T. butter
2 t. saffron threads, crushed into powder in a pestle and mortar
4 T. warm water
2 leeks, whites and light green parts only, halved, and thinly sliced into half-moon shapes
1/2 c. chopped cilantro
1/2 c. chopping parsley
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb. peeled, deveined shrimp
salt to taste

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta to al dente, and drain. Add the butter, and set aside.

2. Divide the saffron powder in two. To one portion, add the warm water, stir, and set aside. Leave the other batch as is, in powdered form.

3. Heat a deep 12-inch saute pan over medium heat, and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the leeks, and sauté till they begin to wilt a bit, just about 5 to 7 minutes. Do not brown or overcook leeks.

4. Turn the heat to medium-high and add the shrimp and saffron water. Sauté till the shrimp turn pink, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the buttered pasta, and heat through. Add the herbs and reserved powdered saffron, and gently stir to combine. Salt to taste, and serve immediately.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

soup of the evening


It's "cold" in LA, so we're braising and souping things up.

As you see it here, I have the best of both worlds tonight - a curry noodle soup. Matty's parents are in town, and his dad isn't a big fan of spicy things, so I added about 1/2 c. vegetable broth to the original recipe to curb the red curry paste. The flavor was all there, but of course, that made the braise a bit thinner, and more of a soup consistency than a sauce consistency. I leave it saucy below, but feel free to add that broth if you have a similar issue with spice, or you just want soup.

I also shaved about half the time off of the braise because I wanted to keep the chicken thighs whole rather than braise them down to a shreddable consistency. It wasn't the smoothest thing to cut through chicken in a bowl, so you might want to cube up the chicken before you braise.

The gremolata adds great fresh flavor and a crunch to an otherwise snuggly dish. It's like being fully wrapped up in your full-length, down-filled coat, but you still get to catch a couple snowflakes on your nose. Don't skip it.

Braised Peanut Chicken Curry with Thai Gremolata
slightly adapted from Food52
serves 8

For the curry:
1/2 c. (4 oz.) Thai red curry paste
1/2 T. canola oil
1 13.5-oz. can coconut milk
1/4 c. peanut butter
juice of 1 lime
1 T. fish sauce
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
16 oz. soba noodles

For the gremolata:
2 small shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. roasted, salted peanuts, minced
zest of 2 limes
1/2 c. minced cilantro

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a medium Dutch oven, stir-fry the curry paste and peanut oil together until the paste is softened and fragrant. Add the coconut milk and whisk to combine. Add the peanut butter, and whisk to combine. Add the lime juice and the fish sauce, whisking to combine. Simmer for a 3 minutes, then add the chicken thighs to the pot.

3. Place the pot into the oven, covered,  and braise for about 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees.

4. Meanwhile, cook the soba noodles in a large pot of salted water to al dente. Drain and set aside.

5. Make the gremolata: dry-sauté the minced shallot, garlic, and peanuts, stirring frequently, until toasted and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

5. To serve, divide the soba between 8 bowls, and serve the chicken and curry over top. Toss the peanut, shallot, and garlic mixture with the lime zest and minced cilantro to complete the gremolata, and garnish the bowls.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

i want it fried


I think life is too short for a grilled fish taco. If it's not breaded, I don't want it. Save your grilled salmon for a fancy dinner, and fry me up a fish taco.

This is a delightful compromise for those who don't fry for health reasons. The mayo-based dredge, and the unique combo of pepitas and panko create a coating that was light, but still earthy. Pepitas are underutilized, in my opinion.

The recipe is great for a group since you can easily scale up and cook everything at once rather than waiting in line at that fryer. Toppings are also endlessly customizable - with more time, I would have down a red cabbage slaw like at my favorite fish taco place in my old neighborhood, but a quick pickle of some thinly sliced leeks, the last of our garden bell peppers chopped up, and actually, the esquites made in this recipe, really filled out every bite.

Pepita-Crusted Fish Tacos with Esquites
slightly adapted from Epicurious
serves 4

1 1/2 c. pumpkin seeds
1 1/2 c. panko
2 1/4 t. kosher salt, divided
3/4 t. black pepper, divided
1 lb. tilapia fillets
2 eggs
1/2 c. mayonnaise, divided
3 t. chili powder, divided
nonstick vegetable cooking spray
4 ears of corn, husked and cut off the cob
12 taco-size corn tortillas
sliced avocado, diced red bell pepper, and pickled onions (for serving)

1. Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

2. Pulse pumpkin seeds in a food processor until finely chopped. Toss with the panko. Transfer to a large plate and stir in 3/4 t. salt and 1/4 t. pepper.

3. Whisk eggs, 1/4 c. mayonnaise, 1 1/2 t. chili powder, 3/4 t. salt, and 1/4 t. pepper in a medium bowl.

3. Cut each fillet in half lengthwise. Slice each piece on a diagonal into 3/4" strips.

4. Set wire rack into rimmed baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray.

5. Dredge each piece of fish in mayonnaise mixture, then roll in pumpkin-panko mixture, pressing to adhere. Arrange in a single layer on prepared rack.

6. Toss corn with remaining 1/4 c. mayonnaise. Sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 t. chili powder, 3/4 t. salt, and 1/4 t. pepper and arrange on a second baking sheet. Place baking sheet with fish on upper rack of oven and corn on lower rack. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the fish is opaque and flesh flakes apart when pierced with a paring knife, and corn is tender.

7. Divide fish among tortillas and top with avocado, bell pepper, and onions. Serve with corn alongside.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

so complex


I love those trendy sheet-pan suppers. This one's more of a 2-pan situation, but only for sheer volume, not degree of difficulty.

The chicken comes out incredibly flavorful and juicy underneath that yogurt marinade/crust. I thought it was plenty tangy from the yogurt, so would remove the lemon zest and juice next time. The flavors are complex, but I wouldn't call them spicy.

Speaking of complex flavors, the roasted eggplant salad is superb. Smoky yet sweet, earthy yet fresh. And the enigma continues - I don't even like eggplant, but was too intrigued by the ingredients to not try it, and was richly rewarded.

Yogurt-Marinated Chicken Legs
slightly adapted from PureWow
serves 4

1 T. olive oil
1 c. plain Greek yogurt
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 T. chile powder
2 t. cumin
1 T. garlic powder
1/2 t. curry powder
1 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
4 whole chicken legs

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the olive oil with the yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice, chile powder, cumin, garlic powder, curry powder, salt and pepper.

3. Place the chicken legs on the prepared baking sheet and rub each piece generously with the yogurt mixture.

4. Roast until the chicken is evenly golden and cooked through, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm.

Roasted Eggplant Salad
slightly adapted from The Kitchn
serves 4

2 large eggplants, about 2 lbs., cut into 1-inch cubes
salt to taste
1/3 c. olive oil
2 T. apple cider vinegar
1 T. honey
1 t. smoked paprika
1/2 t. cumin
4 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 T. lemon juice
1 T. soy sauce
1 c. flat parsley leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 c. Marcona almonds, roughly chopped
4 oz. bocconcini, each ball quartered

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Whisk together the olive oil, cider vinegar, honey, smoked paprika, cumin, and garlic. Toss with the eggplant. Spread the eggplant on a large baking sheet, and roast for 40 minutes, or until very tender and slightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool slightly.

3. Whisk together the lemon juice and soy sauce. Return the eggplant to the bowl and toss with the lemon juice mixture. Stir in the parsley leaves, Marcona almonds, and bocconcini. Serve immediately.

Monday, November 14, 2016

just good enough


To be honest, this was a bit boring, but it was fast, and it was filling, and when you're busy and tired, sometimes you decide that's okay.

I was expecting something a bit thicker, more like a glaze, and perhaps that was on me for halving the honey and apple cider vinegar, or maybe it was pork releasing more liquid (previously frozen, anyone?), but the final result was only slightly sweet and only slightly mustard-y, which you can imagine is disappointing when honey and mustard are right in the name.

But like I said, there's something always okay about a solid protein, some grains (this time, Trader Joe's Harvest Grains mix), and some greens that make for a warm bowl of goodness that just works anyway.

Honey Mustard Pork
slightly adapted from Dorie Greenspan
serves 4

1 lb. pork tenderloin
1/2 t. chili powder
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. curry powder
1/2 t. salt
2 T. olive oil
2 T. honey
2 T. apple cider vinegar
2 T. Dijon mustard

1. Cut the tenderloin in half lengthwise, then cut it crosswise into slices about 1/2-inch thick.

2. Combine the chili powder, ginger, cumin, curry powder, and salt in a small bowl. Add the pork, and toss to thoroughly coat.

3. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the pork and cook for a minute or so, turning the pieces so they brown lightly all sides.

4. Pour in the honey, stir to coat the meat and cook for 1 minute. Add the vinegar, and stir to deglaze the pan, dislodging any browned bits. Reduce the heat to medium-low; whisk in the mustard to form a smooth sauce, cooking and whisking for a few minutes, just until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

a lot of ways


This is an easy and delicious fall supper. I would have been perfectly happy with just chicken and cabbage, but added the Murasaki sweet potatoes to make the meal a little more substantial.

I preheated the sheet pan with the oven so that I could get a head start on crisping up the chicken skin. Frankly, I don't know how much I actually did, but the sizzle when I placed the chicken on the pan was quite satisfying.

I've got no complaints about this recipe, but I'd love to try it with different kinds of cabbage, and on its own sheet pan. This cabbage, cooked in the fat and juices of the chicken, was meltingly tender, but a nice dry, crisp roasted cabbage might be nice as well.

Roast Chicken + Cabbage
slightly adapted from Food52
serves 6-8

1 T. sesame oil
1/4 c. melted coconut oil
3 T. soy sauce
1 T. rice vinegar
8 pieces bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
salt and pepper to taste
1 head cabbage, 2 to 3 lbs.

1. Place an empty sheet pan in the oven, and preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. In a 2-cup measuring cup, stir together the sesame oil, coconut oil, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Place chicken in a large bowl. Season all over with salt and pepper. Pour 1/4 c. of the prepared mixture over the chicken and let marinate while the oven preheats.

3. Cut the cabbage in half through the core. Cut again through each core and repeat this process until you are left with many wedges, no greater than 1-inch wide. Place the wedges in a large bowl, season all over with salt and pepper, and toss with the remaining dressing.

4. Place chicken, skin-side down on prepared sheet pan, spreading it out evenly. Roast for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from oven, flip the chicken, and nestle the cabbage wedges all around the pieces, tucking it under if necessary. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes more or until chicken is golden and cooked through.

5. Remove the pan from the oven, and transfer the chicken to a platter to rest. Return the cabbage to the oven to roast for 10 to 15 minutes more, or until juices have reduced and edges of cabbage wedges are caramelized.

Friday, November 11, 2016

in the fall


I don't have a lot to say about this. I've eaten too much, and am slowly slipping into a food coma.

It's a perfect fall weekend meal, complete with a full 3- to 4-hour time commitment, but the rewards are multi-fold - luscious short ribs and creamy risotto, whose textures complement each other like nothing else does.

I stayed fairly true to the original recipe, except I didn't add the extra sugar into the braise, and didn't bother shredding or reducing the rib sauce. There is already molasses in the recipe, and when I pulled the Dutch oven out of the oven after 2 hours, the sauce was already quite thick, and glazing the ribs beautifully. I prefer the presentation on-rib, and while the slab of meat fell of the bone, I also prefer meat not to fall into shreddable consistency - adjust as you prefer.

I might have added that sugar, along with a tiny bit of cinnamon or cloves, to the pumpkin risotto. I think it would have given just a little more of that comforting, fall flavor because the pumpkin aspect of the dish was fairly light. Still good and earthy with the addition of the mushrooms, but overall, really just risotto.

An afterthought was our little garden salad. We're doing a lot of backyard work, but somehow, through the shut irrigation, the frankly, the utter neglect of the vegetable portion of the yard, the kale planted approximately two years ago has sprouted entirely new stalks and trying to overtake the chard, the cherry tomato plant that just won't die even thought it certainly looks like it is, and the bell peppers just absolutely cowering underneath the trail of tomato runners. The chard will be put to work later this week, but today, I lightened up the dinner a bit with a salad of shredded kale, halved cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced bell pepper and bocconcini (not from the garden).

Pumpkin-Mushroom Risotto with Chocolate Stout-Glazed Short Ribs
slightly adapted from The Devil Wears Parsley
serves 4

For the short ribs:
3 lbs. bone-in short ribs, trimmed
2 T. lemon juice
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
1 T. canola oil
1 c. sliced onions
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 t. cocoa powder
1 1/2 c. beef broth
1 T. molasses
1 1/2 c. chocolate stout
2 t. freshly grated ginger
2 T. soy sauce
1 T. spicy brown mustard
2 chipotle peppers in adobe, finely diced

For the risotto:
1 c. pumpkin puree
1 c. pumpkin beer
1 c. veggie stock
2 T. olive oil, divided
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 c. diced onion
1 c. arborio rice
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Place the short ribs in a freezer bag, sprinkle with cayenne pepper, and drizzle with lemon juice. Seal and marinate in the refrigerator for at least two hours or overnight, turning the bag occasionally to re-distribute the lemon juice and spice.

2. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

3. Heat a Dutch oven large enough to hold the ribs in one layer to medium-high heat, then add the canola oil. Sear the short ribs on all sides, and set aside on a platter.

4. Turn the heat down to medium, then add the onions, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic, and cook for one minute more. Add in the cocoa powder, and stir until the onions are coated. Add the beef broth to deglaze the pan. Add the molasses, and stir until incorporated. Add the beer, ginger, soy sauce, mustard, and chipotle. Mix well.

5. Return the seared short ribs to the liquid. Place the Dutch oven in the oven and cook for 2-3 hours, or until the ribs are very tender.

6. Make the risotto: Mix the pumpkin purée, beer, and veggie stock in a small saucepan, and set over low heat, keeping a ladle handy.

7. In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and mushrooms, cooking until the mushrooms are browned, about 10 minutes. Add in the sage and thyme, and cook for 1 minute more. Add the onions, and sweat for about ten minutes, stirring frequently. Add in the rice, and toss to coat, letting it toast for about 5 minutes.

8. Add one cup of the pumpkin/beer/stock liquid, and stir frequently until most of the liquid is gone.
Repeat with more liquid in half cup increments, continuing to stir frequently, until the liquid is almost gone. Keep adding the liquid, a half cup at a time, until the rice is al-dente, and the mixture has a creamy consistency.

9. Divide the rice between four shallow bowls. Top each bowl with the short rib, and serve immediately.