Monday, December 26, 2011

Steamed Whiskey and Marmalade Pudding with Sauce Anglaise

I was put in charge of dessert for Christmas dinner so I gathered a list of Christmasy sounding recipes and presented them to the family for an informal poll. Elaine and Axel F narrowed it down to Frozen Peppermint Bouche de Noel and this one. Upon presenting these two final options to mom and dad I received the response: 'the whiskey one. When we see whiskey, we react.' The whiskey one it was.

This recipe is from last December's issue of Bon Appetit magazine. I was skeptical about whether or not a "steamed pudding" would actually be appetizing...luckily it was not only appetizing but really rich, delicious and special enough for Christmas dinner.


1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/3 cup sugar
6 egg yolks
1 vanilla bean
2 tbs whiskey (I may have added extra!)

1 3/4 cup sugar
2 sticks butter (1 cup), at room temp
3/4 cup citrus marmalade*
Zest of one orange
4 large eggs
2/3 cup whiskey**
1 3/4 cup self rising flour***

Special equipment: 8 3/4 cup ramekins, buttered and floured (do this thoroughly, you'll be sorry otherwise!)

To do:

To make the sauce, whisk together egg yolks, milk, heavy cream, sugar and vanilla bean seeds. The recipe said to discard the vanilla bean itself, but I threw it in to impart some additional flavor. Place over medium heat and stir constantly until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. The recipe said 9 minutes, I cooked it for more like 12-15. It likely depends on whether your ingredients are cold or at room temperature. I was surprised there was no tempering of the yolks situation but this worked out just fine. I did strain mine at the end to get out some lumpy bits at the bottom of the pan. Once done, transfer sauce to a bowl and put in the refrigerator until cool. This can be done up to 2 days in advance.

For the puddings, beat together the sugar and butter until blended and smooth. Add the marmalade and zest and beat again. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then beat in the whiskey and then the flour until combined. Divide the batter equally among the ramekins. I will admit, I only had 6 ramekins and I definitely filled them too full...if you have the prescribed 8, I think you will have better luck in terms of both cooking time (mine took longer than expected) and portion size (these are so rich and mine were definitely too big).

Cover the ramekins with buttered foil (important!) and place in a rack inside a roasting pan. Add hot water to the roasting pan until it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bring the water to a gentle boil then reduce heat to medium high and cover with foil. Steam the puddings for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. At some point you will think, "these are never going to cook!!" Do not despair, they will, although you may need to turn up the heat and or add additional hot water to the pan.

Once cooked through, carefully remove the ramekins from the roasting pan, run a knife around the edge and turn out onto a plate. Mine came out fairly easily with a minimum or angst and drama, but next time, I will take better care with my butter and flour in the crevices as the caked did stick a bit around the edges. Top with sauce and serve.

This was like a cross between a pudding and a cake, extremely moist but with a tender cake crumb. The bitterness from the whiskey and marmalade is a perfect balance to the super sweet sauce.

*You can use any kind of citrus is fine. I used one that I made in my jams class at the BCAE that was made from oranges, lemons and limes.

**I used Jameson, you use what you like.

***You will definitely need to use self rising flour, as there no other leavening in the pudding. If you cant find or don't want to purchase a whole sack of the stuff, you can make it yourself by combining 1 1/4 teaspoons Baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt to each cup of flour you need.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


A quick post about a WAY to make pizza, rather than a full on recipe (everyone has their favorite pizza dough recipe, OR a buck for a bag of dough at TJ's is a totally great substitute for making your own).

This method is what Mario Batali suggests as a pizza process in his book Molto Gusto (I've referenced the book here before, you should totally get it - gorgeous recipes, most of them vegetarian, but some meat too, totally terrific!  and great photos, one for every recipe, which is awesome).

Basically, you par cook your dough on the STOVETOP!  You can do many crusts at once and freeze them for super quick pizza making in the future!  You need a nice heavy cast iron skillet (if you don't have one, go to a thrift store near you and buy one for a buck.  Or, go to a kitchen store and buy a new one for 20 bucks.  Read up on how to use and care for them here).

Anyway, you heat a cast iron pan on the stove top over medium heat for several minutes.  Make sure your dough is lovely and rested, soft and at room temperature.  Pat out small rounds of dough (4 oz. if you have a scale - which if you bought a pound of dough at the store means you're dividing your dough into 4 pieces) - just big enough for an individual pizza size, maybe 8-10 inches when it's patted out (however big your cast iron pan is would be a good way to decide this).  Press the dough out (Mario recommends using a mix of flour and semolina to dust your surface, because the semolina gives you a little extra crunch in the final pizza); as you press it out, leave a little rim around the edge, but with the main part as thin as you can possibly make it - in fact, when you think it's thin enough, tell yourself you can get it just a little thinner.

Throw it in the preheated pan and cook it for a few minutes, until lightly brown and dry looking on the underside, with some darker brown spots.  Flip it over and cook for slightly less time, until the dough on the second side is definitely dry with some golden spots.  You can press on any thicker spots at this point to encourage them to cook through.  Remove to a rack or cookie sheet to cool completely.  Continue to do this with all your dough.

The fun thing is, you can make pizzas now, but you can also save some crusts for later - they freeze incredibly well.  Thaw before you use them.

So the actually turning into pizza part I must differ slightly with Mr. Batali, much as it pains me to do so.  His instructions have you top the par cooked crust with your preferred toppings and then slide it under the broiler.  In my home oven, this resulted in amazingly crusty tops, but soggy bottoms!  I don't like that in a pizza.  SO I heated my cast iron griddle (wide and totally flat; if you only have a cast iron skillet with high sides, I'd recommend using an overturned cookie sheet, to make sliding on crusts topped with sauce a cheese easier), and put it in the oven on the top rack under the broiler set on high to preheat, so that I could throw the pizzas on that (I'm afraid the heat of the broiler would kill a pizza stone, can anyone confirm or deny this?  I don't want to test my theory on MY pizza stone) - anyway, the cast iron base provided toasty heat to crisp the underside while the broiler melted the cheese (and browned the salami) and turned the top crust mahogany and crispy like I've never managed before.

Next time I might go so far as to briefly broil the crust UPSIDE DOWN before removing it, putting on the toppings, and sliding it back under the broiler right side up.

A warning he gives is that you really want to top and broil these one at a time - so plan this for the kind of meal where that would work out for you.  You don't want to have a bunch of them sitting with sauce and cheese and what-have-you on top for any length of time before they go under the broiler or the crust will get soggy.  NO TO SOGGY PIZZA!  So the method is, top the crust as fast as you can and broil it!  Eat it!  Top and broil another!  And another!  Axel F and I ate three of these for dinner once and were very full (but not uncomfortably so).  So I'd bank on 1-2 per person.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Hamburgers with Pork Belly and Tomato Jam

Elaine was over and we were making burgers.  And that seemed pretty boring so obviously the only thing to do is to take some left over pork belly (from a DELICIOUS dinner at Vee Vee in Jamaica Plain), fry it up and put it on top.  Diabolical?  Maybe.  Delicious?  Definitely.  So, the next time you have leftover pork belly in the fridge (all the time, right?) consider this.

Make your burgers as you would normally (I just mixed my meat with worcestershire sauce and salted and peppered the patties before cooking).  Fry burgers to your desired doneness (medium rare, obvy) and then quickly fry up your pork belly, just to warm it and give it a little crunch on the outside.  Toast some delicious sourdough, spread on some tomato jam (I make this recipe, so spicy and delicious) and top with burgers and pork belly.

I served these with a super simple salad and celery root which I cubed and roasted with butter, salt and pepper in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour until tender and golden brown.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

slow roasted tomatoes

There were a bunch of us together in beautiful midcoast Maine for a weekend back in July, and we took turns making meals. I had signed up to do lunch one day, and figured with a little advance planning, my co-lunch-maker and I would have minimal prep work as well as being flexible on the exact time people ate, which was nice on a hot saturday afternoon (or was it sunday?).  Of course, early November is a dumb time for me to be telling you about how to make an easy mid-summer lunch for a group of vacationing people... but you can keep it in mind for next year.  Or make it now and pretend it's summer.

Anyway, here was the spread:
Laid out (along with watermelon, cucumber spears and potato chips) for people to pick from to assemble a delicious sandwich we had:
nice thick sliced sourdough bread (kind of thinking I should have toasted it...)
cheeses of all kinds from our hosts' *cheese CSA* (be still, my heart!)
grilled red onions (thrown on the grill in the aftermath of the previous night's dinner grilling and refrigerated overnight, I had to rewarm them on the stove but they still had a nice grilled flavor)
olives (pitted for safety)
avocados (scooped out of skins and cut into wedges)
salt and pepper
slow roasted tomatoes (besides grilling the onions, this was the only advance prep I had to spend any time on; in fact I made them at home a couple days before and brought them up with us in a cooler; that recipe is what I'm giving you here today):

Slow Roasted Tomatoes
adapted from Recipes by Susan Spungen

This would be a great way to preserve and extend the life of an end-of summer glut of tomatoes when you don't feel like canning sauce.  Even sad year-round supermarket tomatoes turn out amazingly delicious this way (aha!  Year-round relevancy!), and you can store the results for several weeks (submerged in olive oil) in the fridge, and use them in scrambled eggs, on pizza, in a simple pasta sauce with oil and garlic or butter and cream, or roasted vegetables, in a cold cut sandwich, chopped up in a salad with the oil drizzled on top for dressing, in a vegetable soup, with goat cheese and crackers for a nice pre-dinner snack... et cetera. I don't bake these as hot as Spungen does, I bake them for a lot longer at a much lower temperature, because I want to ensure a sort of gooey, juicier-than-dried-fruit texture.

plum tomatoes (whatever amount you want - they shrink way down, so plan accordingly; 3 lbs. made about 3 cups of finished tomatoes)
extra virgin olive oil
garlic cloves (several, sliced very thin)
salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 350.  Have ready rimmed cookie sheets/sheet pans or baking pans, just make sure you have enough square footage to fit all your tomatoes (halved) in a single layer.

Cut the tomatoes in half the long way, and cut out the stem.  Throw them all onto your cookie sheets or sheet pans (or baking pans) with rims, drizzle with olive oil, plenty of salt and freshly ground black pepper (crushed red pepper flakes too if you want), and toss them around with your hands till they're all nicely coated.  Arrange them so they're all cut side up. Lay a garlic slice on each of the cut sides (fiddly, but worth it - I recommend having the garlic all sliced up and ready before you toss the tomatoes in the oil - your hands will be all nice and greasy from tossing tomatoes, which will make doling out the sticky garlic slices easier). Drizzle on a little more olive oil, if they aren't totally glistening yet.

Put the tomatoes in the 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 225 degrees and leave them for at least 3 hours, and up to 6 (the first time I did this, I started baking them late at night, and left them till morning at 200, for about 8 hours, and they turned out great). You want to see that they're not watery at all, kind of browned and golden at the edges, and plump and shriveled at the same time.

Here they are at 4 hours, they looked nice but I felt they could go longer:

Here they are at 8 hours at 225:
I think if your timing requires that you leave them for 8 hours, roast at 200 instead (like I did the first time), it gives you more leeway, these seemed a little darker than I wanted though they are still quite tasty.

Let them cool, then pack them in a good seal-able container with enough olive oil drizzled on to cover their surface.

Here's a finished sandwich from that nice summer day I wish I was back inside of:

Saturday, October 22, 2011

squash and tomatillo soup with nacho garnish

This soup (from one of the many Moosewood cookbooks) is DYNOMITE*.  Rich, a little sweet and creamy from the squash, bright flavor from the tomatillos, and warmly spicy from chipotles.  I stole an idea from Nigella Lawson (from her corn chowder recipe) to top it with what are basically nachos, and my only regret was not having a ripe avocado in the house.

You can use any kind of winter squash (mine was one of those ufo squashes, but butternut would be great, sugar pumpkin, delicata, kabocha, hubbard, etc).

 I was lucky enough to get 2 pounds of home grown tomatillos for my very own from my friends Felicia and David.  They had so many tomatillos from their garden that when I went over to their house for dinner, they had enough for us to make a double batch of this soup, as well as a batch of enchiladas verdes, in addition to the 2 pounds they sent me home with.  Don't worry if you aren't so lucky - according to the original recipe, you can substitute canned tomatillos no problem, just drain a 26 oz. can and add it along with the canned tomatoes later on, skipping the roasting step.

Squash and Tomatillo Soup
slightly adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics
serves 8

for the soup:
tomatillos (about 2 pounds)
onions (4-5 cups chopped, which usually means 4-5 onions)
garlic (8 cloves, smashed and chopped)
squash (6 cups, peeled, seeded and diced, about 3 pounds)
olive oil
salt and pepper
stock (6 cups, vegetable or chicken)
tomatoes (a 28 oz can of either whole plum tomatoes or diced tomatoes, with their juice)
chipotles in adobo (2 teaspoons minced, or more to taste)

for the nacho topping:
corn tortillas (12)
cheddar cheese (2 cups shredded)
pickled jalapenos (whole or chopped)

other awesome toppings you might like to have:
sour cream
chopped cilantro
sliced scallions
diced avocado
more chipotle in adobo
shredded cheese and crumbled tortilla chips (if you want to skip making the nachos)

to make the soup:

Turn your broiler on high. 

Remove the husks from the tomatillos, rinse them and slice them in half.  Throw them on a sheet pan or cookie sheet with a rim, drizzle with a little olive oil, and place under the broiler for about 5 minutes, or until they soften, their bright green color turns pale, and some get some black spots.  (Note: the original recipe says to roast them at 450 for 30 to 35 minutes... you should do it this way if your tomatillos are large, but the broiler method worked great for me because most of my tomatillos were apricot sized or smaller).

In a large heavy soup pot, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil and add the onions.  Sprinkle on some salt, stir around and turn the heat to medium.  Stir often, till they soften and turn a bit golden.  Add the chopped garlic and fry till you can smell it.  Stir in the squash chunks, the stock and the can of tomatoes with their juice (if you're using canned tomatillos, add them now).  Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 or so minutes, until the squash is very soft.  Add the chipotles and the roasted tomatillos, and simmer it all together briefly.

In a blender** (or with a stick blender), puree the soup until smooth.  I tried my stick blender first, and it just didn't cut it, so I resorted to doing it in batches in my blender, which was totally up to the task.   This soup freezes and reheats great.  You can serve it right away, of course.

to make the nacho topping (enough for 8 servings):

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Have two sheet pans ready.  Using a pastry brush (or your fingers if you don't mind getting messy), lightly oil both sides of each tortilla, then stack them and cut them first in half, then each half in thirds.  Arrange the triangles on your cookie sheets, sprinkle on some salt, and bake them near the bottom of the oven (rotate your pans halfway through) for 20 minutes, until light golden and crisp.

Sprinkle cheese onto each nacho (I get ridiculously particular about this... you don't have to.  But I really like EACH. NACHO. to have enough cheese on it).  Sprinkle on finely chopped diced pickled jalapenos, if you like (or do like we did and just throw a whole pickled jalapeno in your bowl later).  Return to the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese.

*if you are a soup lover, you will love this.  if you aren't, well, I'm sorry.

**Remember to be really careful when blendering hot soup - take the little clear plastic thingie out of the top of the blender and put a dishtowel folded into quarters over the hole, this lets the hot air out when you start the blender, instead of the whole thing exploding napalm-y soup all over you and your kitchen.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Corn Chowder and Country Style Ribs

One thing about CSA corn is that it is the most fabulous thing you’ve ever eaten on the day it is picked and deteriorates quickly after that. A hectic few weeks at work meant that I had had 5 ears of corn languishing in the fridge and I knew that eating them boiled on the cob wasn’t going to cut it. Enter the serendipitous finding of a corn chowder recipe in a sample edition of Cook’s Country that Elaine had given me. I adjusted for having one less ear of corn that the recipe called for, but of course mucked it up a little along the way because I wasn’t fully paying attention (oops!). I paired the chowder with some slow cooked, dry rubbed country style pork ribs, recipe also below.

Corn Chowder
5 ears corn, kernels removed, cobs reserved
1 onion, chopped
1 can corn, drained
4 cups chicken stock
3 slices bacon, thinly sliced
1 lb red bliss potatoes, cut into ½ inch dice
1 cup heavy cream
2 leeks, cleaned and sliced thinly crossways
1 tbs flour
½ cup water

Cook bacon in a soup pot over medium heat until nice and crispy. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and leave about 2 Tbs of bacon grease in your pot. Add the chopped onions, corn and s&p to taste and sautee until cooked, about 8 minutes. In the meantime, puree canned corn with chicken stock – this is where I went wrong. I didn’t reduce the liquid from the original recipe, but I only used 1 can of corn, instead of two.* This mixture acts as a thickener for the chowder, so I sort of, ahem, screwed myself. Not really, it was easily fixable, we’ll get to that later.

Once your veggies have cooked, add potatoes, corn/stock puree and corn cobs and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until potatoes are cooked, about 15 minutes.  Throw away the coms and stir in the cream, leeks and reserved bacon.  At this point I realized my mistake above and knew the chowder wouldn't thicken the way it was supposed to.  To remedy this, I made a slurry from 1 tbs flour and half a cup of water and added that to the pot.  I cooked the soup an additional 10-15 minutes to allow the raw flour to cook.  Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

*The original recipe (sorry, can't link to it since I don't subscribe to Cook's Country) calls for 6 ears of corn, 2 cans of corn and 5 cups of chicken stock.  Feel free to follow my instructions as my chowder was delicious and a great consistency.  But, if you want to do it the original way, puree 2 cans corn with 4 cups stock and add the last cup of stock when you add the potatoes.  Then you shouldn't have to use the flour/water slurry.

Country-Style Ribs
Country style pork ribs are cut from the rib end of the pork loin and are generally boneless, although mine did have a few small bones. Mine were quite long, probably about a foot each, so I did cut them in half before cooking them. They are their most delicious when you can cook them low and slow – you’ll have a super tender piece of meat that is literally falling apart. I did a combination of high heat to get a head start (useful to speed up a week night meal) and low heat.

2 lb Country Style Pork Ribs
2 tbs paprika
2 tbs fresh ground black pepper
2 tbs dry mustard
2 tbs kosher salt
2 tbs Italian seasoning
1 tbs cumin
Canola oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Combine all spices above for your rub. Rub ribs with oil and then thoroughly coat them with your rub. Place ribs on a tin foil lined baking sheet and place in the oven for 20 minutes. At that point, turn the oven down to 250 degrees and let the ribs cook for another hour to hour and half. You want the ribs to reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees and for the to be falling apart tender.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Moroccan Spice Lamb Riblets and Other Super Spiced Stuff

I had lamb riblets from our CSA - and I asked myself, what the heck do I do with a lamb riblet?  It doesn't even seem like a real cut of meat, it sounds like a mini rib from a mini hobbit-type lamb.  But they exist.  Riblets are cut from the breast and look like ribs but are layered with both fat and meat.  Because of this layering, you cannot cook these quickly - braising is pretty much the only option.  I did mine with a morroccan spice alongside some acorn squash rings with a apple curry filling.  In retrospect, this was probably too much spice on one plate, but Elaine didn't mind so that's all that matters - you can do as you like.

Moroccan Spiced Braised Lamb Riblets
*adapted from this Cook's Illustrated Recipe

1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbs ground nutmeg
1 tbs ground ginger
2 lb lamb riblets (about 6, or 6 lamb shanks would work as well)
Kosher salt
Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large or 2 small jalepenos, minced
2 tbs tomato paste
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup red wine (the recipe calls for 3 cups stock and 2 cups wine, but I wanted to save my wine for drinking)
1 1/2 cups quinoa

To do:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix spices together and set aside.

Sprinkle riblets with salt. Add oil to a large pot (one that has a lid and can go in the oven) and sear riblets until brown on all sides. Remove from pan.  Add onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic, jalepenos, tomato paste and spice mixture to pot and saute 3-4 minutes, until veggies are soft.  Add liquid and stir to make sure all of the brown bits off the bottom of the pan are scraped up (that's flavor country).  Bring liquid to a simmer, add riblets back to the pot, cover and put in preheated oven for about an hour.  When 15 minutes remain, add 1 1/2 cups quinoa to pot and cook until quinoa is done.  The riblets should be falling off the bone and super tender by the time you are done. 

Apple Filled Acorn Squash Rings with Curry Butter
*apparently from Bon Appetit but it was in our CSA newletter - how did they KNOW I would have a glut of acorn squash and apples??

6 tbs butter
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
2/3 cup apple juice (I used 2 tbs apple juice concentrate and a splash of water)
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped (original recipe calls for currants, yuck)
2 acorn squash, cut into 1 inch rings and seeded

To do:
Melt 1 tbs butter in a skillet, add onion and sautee until tender about 2 minutes.  Add 1 tbs curry powder and stir, then add apples, apple juice and cranberries.  Cook until liquid evaporates about 6-8 minutes.  Season filling to taste with salt and pepper.

Melt 5 tbs butter in a small skillet over medium heat.  Add 1/2 tablespoon curry powder and stir until fragrant about 1 minute. 

Brush a large baking sheet with curry butter and lay your squash rounds down on the baking sheet.  Scoop filling into the center of the rings and drizzle the remaining curry butter over the squash.  Bake until squash is tender about 30 minutes.  Use a spatula to transfer rings to plates when serving, so filling isn't left behind.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Thursdays on the Loring Greenough house lawn, my neighborhood has its very own food trucks!!  There's a cupcake truck, a BBQ truck (which I'm hoping to try tomorrow) and one called Bon Me which... serves bahn mi, obviously.  My friend Elena and I went last month (I went again with Henry K aka Axel F a couple weeks ago).  Here are pictures of my first time there - I got the bbq pork bahn mi, and Elena got the tofu soba noodle salad (many choices of sauce, several protein choices (chicken, pork, tofu and shiitake mushroom), and I think they also have rice bowls with those same options.
They have some other little treats, and yummy drinks - hibiscus tea, thai basil limeade, spicy-ginger lemonade, thai iced tea, etc.  Here's the menu!

You should go.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

thai red curry

This is so easy, it's shocking. You just have to buy a couple of things you might not have in your pantry right now, but then you'll have them in your pantry, and you'll be psyched because it means that you can make this kind of thing any time. And somehow curry (thai or otherwise) always feels special and delicious to me, even if I'm making it to use up some CSA vegetables...

things you need that you might not have:
thai red curry paste (or green if you want!)
fish sauce (nam pla)
coconut milk (canned, unsweetened, 14 oz)*

Other things you need:
brown sugar
oil (canola or similar)
some kind of protein, cut into small pieces if necessary (chicken or tofu, I used shrimp, Jenean has done sea scallops)
some vegetables (I had eggplant, red bell pepper, and green beans I cut up small and par boiled; you could use tomatoes, carrots, peas, onions, potatoes, bean sprouts, whatever you have and want to use up; you should probably pre-cook harder vegetables)
garlic, minced
ginger, peeled and grated
white or brown rice (ideally jasmine or basmati, all cooked up the way you like it)
basil and cilantro, if you've got it

In a bowl, mix 2 tbsp thai red curry paste, 2 tbsp fish sauce, 2 tsp brown sugar and 2 tbsp water.

In a large frying pan, heat some neutral oil like canola, a couple of tablespoons. Toss in your meat or tofu or seafood. When it has got a little color, remove it to a plate (err on the side of undercooking the seafood, because it goes back in the simmering sauce later; in fact, with shrimp you could probably just wait till the end and skip the first frying step).

Add a little more oil to the pan if it looks dry, and stir fry your vegetables. Add the garlic and ginger and let them fry with the vegetables till you can smell them. Add the curry paste mixture and the coconut milk. Stir to combine and bring the sauce to a simmer. Toss in the meat, scallops or tofu; if you're using shrimp, add it now. Let it all simmer together for about 5 minutes, or until the shrimp are pink, or your meat is cooked and heated through.

Serve over rice, with chopped fresh basil and/or cilantro. A squeeze of lime might be nice, if you like that kind of thing.
*Mark Bittman has a recipe for homemade coconut milk! It's also absurdly easy! You put a cup of unsweetened shredded coconut in a blender with 2 cups of hot water and let it sit for 20 minutes. Blend on high (working up gradually from low so the force doesn't bust the lid of the blender off) for 30 seconds or so. Strain into a bowl through cheesecloth (I use a flour-sack dishtowel) set in a strainer, squeezing on the solids - that's your coconut milk. You can return the solids to the blender and do it again with the same coconut and another 2 cups of hot water, letting it sit a little longer this time, and squeezing a little harder. Combine both batches to get a relatively thin coconut milk ideal for making curry, or skip the second pressing to have 2 cups of thicker coconut milk, more like canned. Keeps in the fridge for a couple of days. It separates as it cools, so you have to shake it up before using.

Monday, August 15, 2011

the best way to eat tomatoes for breakfast

Sorry for the blurry photo, I was just so excited to hurry up and eat it.

Our dad has always grown tomatoes in his garden, every year whether in California or Massachusetts, and during the height of tomato season (when you have tomatoes coming out your ears) our folks would have this for breakfast. As a little kid (whose ideal breakfast was pancakes with log cabin syrup) I was a little baffled by this. But now I know it's probably the best breakfast in the whole world.

Toast bread, spread with good mayo (hellman's/best foods in my house), top with sliced super ripe tomatoes, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.

The better the bread you use, the better this breakfast will be, but it's still incredibly good on regular old sandwich bread like we had today.

Friday, August 5, 2011

strawberry gelato

So, I made this great lemon gelato, I took pictures of every step along the way to freezing it, wrote up the post right away so I wouldn't forget what I did... and then we somehow ate it all before I took a picture of a bowl of the finished gelato. So of course the only way forward is to make lemon gelato a second time, in order to get a picture, right? In the meanwhile, here is the strawberry gelato I made more recently.
I used bits from 3 recipes for this - Mario Batali's from Molto Gusto, which intriguingly uses powdered milk to counteract the water in the strawberries to keep them from turning the gelato icy; this one from Bon Appetit that I found on Epicurious, which unlike Mario's doesn't use any egg yolks, but rather thickens the base with cornstarch (skipping egg altogether lets the flavor of the fruit really stand out, and makes the gelato more refreshing, but still creamy); and Mark Bittman's general recipe for "soft fruit ice milk" in How to Cook Everything, (I got it as an app on my iphone, best 5 bucks I ever spent!) which like many recipes in there makes one feel free to experiment, armed with a general guideline for proportions.

Strawberry Gelato
makes about a quart

2 cups hulled and chopped strawberries (preferably organic)
3/4 cup sugar, divided (I used turbinado, any kind is fine)
a pinch of salt
1/3 cup dry milk powder
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cups milk
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tbsp alcohol of some kind (I used creme de cacao, you could use a slightly smaller amount of vodka)
2 tsp vanilla extract

In a bowl or large (4 cup or greater) measuring cup, combine the chopped strawberries and their juices with 1/4 cup of the sugar and the pinch of salt. Cover and let sit in the fridge for a while to macerate.

Add the dry milk powder to the macerated strawberries along with the cup of cream, cover and return to the fridge.

In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and the tablespoon of cornstarch. Add 1/4 cup of milk to start, whisking to get rid of any lumps. Add the remaining cup of milk, and over medium heat, bring to a boil, and once bubbling, let it simmer over medium low heat for 1 minute (stir pretty constantly throughout this process).

Remove the milk/cornstarch mixture from the heat and cool it down (either put the bottom of the pan in an ice bath, or if you don't mind getting another bowl dirty, scrape it into a metal bowl, and put that in an ice bath (it will cool down really quickly that way). When it's no longer hot, stir it into the strawberry/cream mixture, along with the vodka (or whatever you decide to use) and the vanilla extract.

Chill the base, ideally for several hours, or overnight if you can spare the time (it should be pretty thick, like the texture of yogurt, actually). Freeze in your ice cream maker, then transfer it to a chilled container for storing. The first day (after about 2 hours chilling in the container) the gelato is soft; the next day it's scoopable (thanks to the addition of the alcohol) but firm, so leaving it out for ten minutes before you try to scoop it makes life a bit easier.

Awesome on a sugar cone.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Zucchini and Summer Squash White Pizza

Summer CSA frenzy is ON...before I could even eat up one week's offerings (head of lettuce, what seemed like 8 cucumbers, a bunch of radishes, blueberries, raspberries, zucchini, squash) another week was upon me with the more of the same plus corn on the cob, potatoes, arugula and basil. I relish the bounty but stress out over using it all up. That's when I start throwing weird stuff on pizza dough. This particular pizza was inspired by smitten kitchen's zucchini galette which is more of a tart made with pie dough. But it works just as well on as a pizza.

2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
Pizza dough (store bought is totally fine)
1 zucchini
1 summer squash
15 oz ricotta
1 cup mozzarella (or more if you want)
1/2 cup grated parmesan
zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 475.

Mince garlic and add to olive oil and let marinate to infuse the oil with garlicky goodness. In the meantime, slice your squash into 1/4 inch rounds and spread on a paper towel lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for 30 minutes. The squash will release a lot of moisture so you'll need to dry them with paper towels before putting them on your pizza.

Mix ricotta, half the mozzarella and all of the parmesan in a bowl and add a few tablespoons of the garlic/oil mixture and the lemon zest. Season with s&p to taste.

Roll out your pizza dough to fit whatever pan you're using and place dough in the oiled pan. Brush a few tablespoons of the garlic oil over the dough and then spread your cheese mixture over the whole thing, leaving about a 1/4 inch border. Lay your zucchini and squash slices over the cheese then top with the remaining mozzarella. Bake until cheese is melted and crust is golden brown, 15-20 minutes.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Steak Salad with soy, sesame and shallots

This meal came together really quickly on a super hot day.

I had two 1/4 pound eye round steaks from the csa. If you know anything about the eye round cut, it's usually a roast, which you have to braise for a long time to get tender. It's not a good cut for a nice grilled steak, frankly, but I really didn't want to have to braise it for a long time in the 90 degree weather we've been having, so I decided to marinate it in soy (which tenderizes and kind of brines it), broil it super quickly, and slice it thin to go on a salad.

Summer Soy Steak Salad: Super Simple, Satisfying
serves 2

-2 steaks, 1/4 lb. each (or one 1/2 lb steak), of any type (would be awesome with a better cut like strip steak or flank steak, but it worked surprisingly well with the cheap/untender eye round cut we had from the csa) (I truly think this would be delicious with seitan, tempeh or tofu as well, and really any other kind of meat, come to think of it)
-2 shallots, sliced
-1/4 cup soy sauce
-2 tbsp fish sauce
-2 splashes worcestershire sauce
-freshly ground black pepper, to taste
-garlic powder, to taste (I usually prefer real garlic, but in this case powdered is better)
-1 tbsp sugar (brown or white)
-1/4 c olive oil (plain, not extra virgin, or any other neutral tasting oil)
-1/4 c sesame seeds
-1 large or 2 small cucumbers, sliced in rounds
-mixed greens, torn up into bite size pieces (I had a little head of boston lettuce and some arugula from the csa)

If you have a cheap/tough cut of steak like I had, take a fork and stab the steaks all over a bunch of times. This helps tenderize it, and it's fun. (If you're using tofu, I'd press it for a while to get as much of the water out as possible.)

In a dish with high sides big enough to fit the steaks in one layer, combine the soy sauce, fish sauce, worcestershire sauce, shallots, pepper and garlic powder. Add the steaks, nestling them down into the sauce, and piling the shallots on top of them. Cover and put them in the fridge for at least an hour, turning once, if you can remember to (no big deal if not).

Dry toast your sesame seeds in a small heavy bottomed non-stick frying pan until brown and fragrant, set aside in a small bowl or dish.

Meanwhile get the steaks and shallots out of the marinade and dry them as thoroughly as possible with paper towels, reserving the marinade.

To make the dressing, pour the steak marinade into the pan in which you toasted your sesame seeds. Add the sugar to the marinade, and bring to a boil, shaking the pan occasionally, and reduce by about half. Pour into a bowl to cool briefly, then slowly whisk in the olive oil (a hit of toasted sesame oil would be great here, I just didn't have any). Set the dressing aside to cool (you can put it in the fridge to help this along, but don't leave it in there too long or the oil will solidify).

Preheat your broiler to high, and put your rack as close to the heat source as possible (my oven is kind of lame at this, I hope yours is better). Place some kind of cooling rack on a foil lined baking sheet, and line the rack with foil, poking holes in the foil to allow for drainage (an actual broiler pan would do the same job, come to think of it... I just don't have one, so the foil covered rack on a sheet pan is my work-around).

Place the steaks on the rack, with the shallots spread out around them. Put them under the broiler for 5 minutes. Flip the steaks, stir the shallots (moving them to the edges of the rack if they're getting too dark), and put back under the broiler for another 2-5 minutes (depending on the thickness of your steaks).

Pull them out and put both the steaks and shallots on a cutting board, and allow the steaks to rest for about 5 minutes (the shallots will soak up any juices that escape from the steaks).

Arrange the mixed greens on two plates, with the cucumbers on top (lots of em!), then slice the steaks and divide them and the shallots evenly between the two. Sprinkle on the toasted sesame seeds and drizzle on the dressing. I served it with some sticky white rice, also topped with sesame seeds and the dressing.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

make your own greek yogurt, and what to do with the whey

A quick post, which is hardly a recipe, but it was so easy and the results so delicious that I'll probably do it on a weekly basis from now on.

I strained regular plain yogurt (I did 2% but you could do any kind) and ended up with half the volume I started with of thick creamy greek-style yogurt, and about the same volume of super nutritious whey (the clear liquid that collects on the top of your plain yogurt which you should drink, not discard).

My method of straining was to put a mesh strainer over a large bowl, and lined the strainer with paper coffee filters (I never seem to have cheesecloth when I need it). I poured a full 32 oz container of plain yogurt in, and put it in the fridge, uncovered, over night. In the morning, I just flopped the strained yogurt back into its original container, and it really had reduced by half. Once it's strained even fat free yogurt becomes thick and creamy, and it's so good alone, with a spoon or two of your favorite natural fruit preserves, a drizzle of honey, or some fresh fruit.

With the whey, of which I now had about 2+ cups, I put it into my blender with some frozen mango chunks (about 1 1/2 cups), and it made enough for one light and delicious mango lassi type drink, only it was more refreshing than if it had the creaminess of the yogurt solids in there.

Just to sell this process a little more, even with the volume reducing by half, it's much cheaper than buying greek yogurt ($3 for 32 oz strained down to about 16 oz for plain regular yogurt, vs. as much as $7 for 17.5 oz of greek yogurt). And drinking the whey is so good for you, in fact the whey is probably more nutritious than the yogurt solids, containing more protein, healthy bacteria and calcium. I can imagine using the whey for all kinds of smoothie-type drinks. Yum.

There are no digital cameras in my house right now, so the picture is courtesy of my computer, apologies for the lack of image quality.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mushroom and Chicken Fake Crepes

You might come home from work and not feel like making dinner. So you might then look in the refrigerator to see what you can make quickly. And then you might see 2 packages of mushrooms languishing there which you bought because they were 3/$5 but who can eat that many mushrooms? And also you see the remains of a whole chicken breast that you roasted with garlic and lemon. You would think at this point you would decide to make something quick and easy like maybe a SALAD with some CHICKEN and MUSHROOMS on it. Or possibly you would instead decide to make CREPES - not really that easy and certainly not quick. What is wrong with me?

Anyway, I called these fake crepes because they don't have any flour in them, they are just eggs and cream. But they cook up like crepes and are terrific with savory fillings. They might be good with sweet stuff although for some reason, I'm not convinced. You try it and let me know. Your imagination is the limit as far as the fillings go - roasted veggies, cheese, spinach, and any various proteins would be great. Here's how I made mine:

3 eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
12 oz. mushrooms
1 tbs chopped thyme, or more to taste
1 tbs parsley, or more to taste
shredded cheddar cheese (I bet I used a cup total - really, its up to you to decide - which was a fortune Elaine once got in a fortune cookie, so it just goes to show you - IT'S TRUE, it IS up to you to decide.)

Whisk together the eggs and heavy cream and salt/pepper - you can also use whole milk if you prefer. These proportions made me 6 crepes, plus 3 that went awry, so you can adjust as needed. Heat a small non-stick skillet over medium heat and butter the pan - you don't want too much, just a thin layer. Add 2 tablespoons of egg mixture to the pan and swirl to coat the bottom. Cook about 1 minute until it is set and flip using a spatula. It won't need as long on the second side. Slide crepe out of the pan and onto a plate and repeat until your batter is gone.

For my mushrooms, I heated some butter and oil over medium heat and added the mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste. I don't like to mess around a lot with my mushrooms, just leave them alone and they will get nice and nutty and brown. Once they've browned, add chopped thyme and parsley and let the herbs heat through for just a minute and then remove from heat.

To assemble your crepes, lay a single crepe on the counter and top with mushrooms, chicken and shredded cheese. Roll it up and place it in a baking dish. Repeat with the rest of your crepes. Top the whole thing with more cheddar cheese and put in a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes until they are warmed through and the cheese on top is melted. Garnish with some fresh chopped tomatoes, or whatever else you like.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Lemon Cheescake

I thought a good dessert for Mother's Day was a cheesecake, and when I asked my mom about it she enthusiastically agreed. I gave her the choice between strawberry topping or lemon curd, and she chose lemon, saying the strawberry was a little too... typical (she's a unique and classy lady). I really wanted to make the Cook's Illustrated New York style Cheesecake from March/April 2002 because my friend Emily swears by it, but I liked some elements of their Lemon Cheesecake from May/June 2003. There were differences in the ingredients and cooking method (the lemon one was much fussier, and also seemed to be aiming for a denser, wetter texture than I like in a cheesecake, with the New York style trying to have that cake-y texture at the edges, which I like). So this hybrid was born, and lo, it was very good.

Here are some points Jenean suggested I make when writing about this cheesecake:

- !!
- Light and creamy!
- Not like regular chessecake where you want to die after you've eaten a piece. After you've eaten a piece of this, you just want another piece.

We are a cheesecake loving family, no doubt, but everybody kind of lost their minds about this one. Jenean texted me super late the night we had it to say she's obsessed with it now.
So you should probably try it. Because of all the steps (relatively easy but there are several parts to it) and cooling down process, this is a good cake to make a day in advance. Take it out of the fridge to let it come to room temperature for about 20 minutes before serving it.

Light and Creamy Lemon Cheesecake
adapted from Cook's Illustrated as noted above

5 oz animal crackers
2 tbsp sugar
5 tbsp butter, melted, plus an additional 1 tbsp melted to brush the pan with

2 1/2 pounds cream cheese (5 blocks)
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 oz) sugar
1/3 cup sour cream
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp EACH finely grated lemon and orange zest*
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 large whole eggs plus 2 egg yolks

Lemon curd:
1/3 cup juice from 2 lemons**
2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) sugar
2 tbsp unsalted butter, cold, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1 tbsp heavy cream***
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt

To make the crust:
Use the 1 tbsp of melted butter to grease up your 9 inch springform pan using a pastry brush. Preheat the oven to 325 and make sure your rack is in the middle of the oven.

pulse the animal crackers in the food processor until very finely ground. Add the sugar and pulse to combine. Turn the processor on and drizzle in the 5 tbsp of butter slowly, and pulse until it looks uniformly moist, like wet sand.

Press the cookie mixture into the bottom of the springform pan using a flat bottomed glass or similar to get it packed down and even.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, take it out to cool on a rack.

While it cools make the filling:
Turn the oven up to 500 degrees.

Cut the cream cheese into roughly 1 inch chunks and put them in your stand mixer bowl. The chunks need to sit at room temp for a while, so I waited to juice my lemons and zest my citrus until after I cut up the cream cheese.

Combine the sugar, the lemon juice, the zests, the sour cream, the vanilla and the salt in a bowl. Crack all your eggs and put them with the egg yolks in another bowl.

add a third of the sugar/juice mixture to the cream cheese cubes (which have sat out at room temp at least 30 minutes by now) and turn on the stand mixer to low to combine, then turn up a little more to beat until uniform. Stop the mixer and scrape the beater and the sides and bottom of the bowl well. Do the same with the remaining sugar/juice mixture, in two more parts. Add the eggs and yolks a couple at a time, again scraping the bowl and beater thoroughly between each addition.

Put the springform pan with your golden brown crust onto a big sheet pan or cookie sheet to make transfer easier. Pour the filling into the springform pan (I found I had too much filling, not sure why; it made a good snack, I confess). Put it in the 500 degree oven for 10 minutes. After ten minutes, turn the heat down to 200 WITHOUT OPENING THE OVEN DOOR**** and let bake for about an hour and a half, until and instant read thermometer registers about 150 degrees. I guess if you don't have one of those, you should look for the very middle of the cake to just barely reach the point where it doesn't jiggle. If you go so long the top cracks, you've gone too far, but it'll probably still be delicious.

Take the cake out and after 5 minutes, slide a thin knife all around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the sides, but leave the springform collar on. Cool all the way down at room temperature, 3 hours, about.

While the cake bakes, you can make/cool the lemon curd:
Heat the lemon juice in a non-reactive saucepan, till hot, not boiling (this will happen fast because it's not much juice). In a medium non-reactive bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolks (try to remove those little white things that stick to the edges of the yolks, if you don't, you'll need to strain the curd later). Gradually add the sugar, whisking the whole time vigorously. Whisking constantly, pour the hot lemon juice very slowly into the yolks (you risk lemony scrambled eggs if you aren't careful with this step). Return the lemon/egg mixture to the saucepan, and stir constantly, scraping every surface, with a heat resistant spatula or a wooden spoon, over medium heat, until it registers 170 on an instant read thermometer - it should thicken enough to cling to the spatula and leave a trail on the bottom which fills in quickly. This should take about 3 minutes. Remove it from the heat and stir in the cold butter cubes. Then add the cream, vanilla and salt and stir till combined. Pour into a bowl, cover with plastic (put it right down on the surface so a skin doesn't form and chill.

Once the cake and the curd are fully cool:
Scrape the curd onto the top of the cheesecake with the springform collar still on. using an offset spatula, smooth the curd over the whole top of the cake evenly. Cover the whole thing well with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours, preferably about 24 hours.

To serve:
Let the cake come to room temperature (about 20 minutes out of the fridge should do it). Remove the springform collar, slice into wedges, and serve. I bet a couple of raspberry would be awesome alongside this, but it was plenty great just like this.

*I recommend using the really tiny holes on a box grater - yes, it's super annoying to clean, but you get really fine zest that disappears beautifully into the filling, and doing it this way allows you to skip a fussy step cooks uses because of grating the zest on a microplane, which I really do not recommend because the chunks are too big.

**I substituted about a third of the lemon juice with orange juice, myself, and I don't recommend it, and won't do it again I don't think - I guess you need a specific acid level from the lemon juice to "denature" the proteins in the eggs and get the curd to set, and my curd very clearly did not set very well, and I blame the orange juice. It TASTED great, but it was a bit of a mess.

***I didn't have any heavy cream, but I did have an excess of cheesecake filling by the time I was making the curd, and I thought, well, THIS is creamy, right? So I used a tablespoon of the cheesecake filling instead of heavy cream. That could be another reason my curd didn't quite set up, don't you think?

****sorry for the all caps. I think you can save yourself some trouble (i.e. an extra 45 minutes of baking time) by paying attention to this point (which I, alas, failed to notice). I think if you open the oven door at this point, it loses a lot of heat, and causes you to have to bake the cake way longer than you would otherwise (or at least, this was my experience, and either that was the problem, or my oven temps are just way off (also possible, I should buy and in-oven thermometer).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Flinstonian Lamb Chops and Grilled Baby Zucchini

I like Michael Symon because of his cute bald head and homey mid-western accent. I also like him for his delicious herb brined lamb chops featured in last month's Bon Appetit.

The recipe called for 24 lamb rib chops cut from a 1 1/2 lb rack. I had 2 mammoth lamb chops from the CSA - I think they were probably double chops, I don't really know. Elaine and I brine meat a lot, usually a mixture of salt/sugar/water, sometimes some herbs or other spices. This recipe is intriguing because it uses a dry herb brine instead, sort of like a dry rub. The proportions below were for my 2 big chops, see the original for proportions for 24 smaller chops, plus, you know, the standard, I didn't have all the ingredients situation.

2 large shallots, minced
4 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
3 large garlic cloves, minced
s&p to taste
lamb chops
olive oil
zest and juice of one lemon

Mix the shallots, oregano, mint, garlic and s&p in a small bowl. Press a tablespoon of the mixture onto both sides of each lamb chop. The recipe calls for you to then cover the chops with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. But maybe sometimes you have a really long week at work and you don't get home until 9 o'clock several nights in a row at which point it is too late to make a complicated dinner. In which case, you will be happy to know that you can actually let the chops brine for 3 days and you'll be totally fine.

Once you are ready to cook your chops, whisk olive oil, lemon juice and lemon peel until well blended. You want a 2:1 ratio of oil to lemon juice. Season with s&p. Spoon mixture over both sides of the chops and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Grill chops until they reach an internal temp of about 140 degrees for medium rare - mine took at least 5 minutes a side since they were so thick.

As always, tent your meat and let it stand for about 10 minutes before serving. I served these with grilled baby zucchini that I tossed with olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper - because obviously very large chops go well with abnormally small vegetables.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Chinese Style Spareribs

We had a tiny little rack of spareribs from the CSA, and I felt like trying something different with it than my usual barbecue. Actually, this is just another kind of barbecue, and wonderfully, can all be done in your oven. There are a lot of recipes out there if you ask the internet, many based on hoisin sauce. But I was out of hoisin sauce. So I used (gasp!) ketchup (actually I read that it's kind of the legit Hong Kong approach, though I'm not sure that's actually true...) You need to be able to set these to marinate ahead of time - at least 2 hours; more is totally ok, so if you want to do this on a weeknight, put them in the marinade in the morning, they'll be ready to cook when you get home from work.

Chinese Style Sticky Barbecue Spareribs

a rack of pork ribs (plan on having 4-5 individual ribs per person)
4 cloves of garlic, smashed then finely minced
1/4 c soy sauce
1/2 c ketchup
2 tbsp oyster sauce (or hoisin, or black bean paste)
2 tsbp sweet chili sauce (optional)
1 tbsp sriracha
1 tbsp white wine, sherry or rice vinegar
1/3 c hot water
2 tbsp honey

Start by cutting up the rack into individual ribs. Combine the garlic, soy sauce, ketchup, oyster sauce (if you have/use hoisin sauce, you can use more, like 1/4 cup), chili sauce, sriracha (use more if you like spicy) and the wine (or sherry or vinegar) in a large, shallow dish, big enough to hold all the ribs in a single layer. When it's all thoroughly mixed, add in the ribs and toss around till they're all thoroughly coated. Leave to marinate at least a couple hours, preferably more.

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a sheet pan with foil, and on top of that put a rack (I used one of my cookie racks) that fits well inside the pan and will hold all the ribs. Remove the ribs from the marinade, shaking off some of the excess, but leaving them pretty well coated, and arrange them on the rack.

Put them in the oven for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile mix your hot water and honey. Halfway through the first 30 minutes in the oven, pull out the ribs and using a pastry brush, brush on the honey/water mixture, and flip the ribs over. Bake for another 30 minutes, basting and flipping again.
They should be getting pretty nicely dark and lacquered looking by now. Let them go longer if not.

Serve with rice and stir fried broccoli* on the side.

*Toss broccoli (cut into florets, stems sliced) in a hot pan with minced garlic, ginger, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and 2 tsp of sugar. Fry till the garlic and ginger become fragrant and take on a little color, then add 1/4 c water and cover; cook for two minutes, just until the broccoli is tender and bright green. Uncover the pan and cook off the water over high heat. Optional yummy addition - make your very first step to fry some cashew pieces in your oil (in the pan you're going to cook the broccoli) until nice and dark; drain them out of the oil with a slotted spoon and reserve till you've cooked up the broccoli. Throw the toasted cashews on top before serving.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Chicken with Spinach Two Ways

Calling this chicken with spinach two ways is really just a fancy way to say that all I had in my fridge was a chicken breast and a half a bag of spinach. And I was really bored and cranky and didn't want to eat something boring which would make me even more cranky. So, I improvised. What you see above is a sauteed chicken breast on a bed of garlicky spinach, topped with a spinach pesto. Super simple, but a ton of flavor.

What you need:
Chicken breast(s)
Lemon juice
Parmesan cheese
Olive Oil

For the garlicky bed of spinach, thinly slice one clove of garlic and saute in about 2 tbs of olive oil. Add your washed spinach (about 2 cups in this case) - no need to dry it too thoroughly as the excess water will help to cook the spinach in the pan. Turn the spinach to coat it in the garlic and olive oil and allow to wilt until done.

For the pesto, add 2 cups spinach, a handful of hazelnuts, 1 clove garlic and 2 tbs lemon juice to a food processor and combine. Slowly stream in olive oil, about 1/4 cup to start - check your should be, well, pesto-y. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more lemon juice, salt and pepper according to your liking. I like to add grated parmesan cheese at the end just before serving, in this case about 1/4 cup.

This method for the spinach pesto is exactly like a regular basil pesto. I also like to make this with arugula or kale and walnuts. Its a fresh accompaniment to grilled chicken or a nice piece of fish.

I just sauteed my chicken very simply in olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper.

To serve, and pretend that you made something way fancier than you actually did, make a bed of sauteed spinach on your plate, place chicken on spinach and spoon pesto over top.

Monday, March 28, 2011

squash and potato pizza (with an optional sprinkle of bacon)

Next time you have some squash (maybe from your winter CSA) sitting around malingering, and you don't have anything in mind to do with them and don't feel like eating it right away, you can roast them up and store them in the fridge or freezer, till you're ready to try this, a pizza where mashed squash replaces tomato sauce, and potatoes join the ranks of whatever cheese you have in the house. Any kind of winter squash will work - it was a butternut squash in this case, acorn squash would work too. You could probably use about 2 pounds worth on a large pizza, but you can make do with any amount you might happen to have around.

Amounts on everything are intentionally vague because really any amount of anything here can be made to work.

Squash and Potato Pizza

a batch of your favorite pizza dough (you could use that kind they sell in a bag at the store)
winter squash (1 big, or 2 small)
chopped garlic
chopped parsley
chopped fresh rosemary
salt and pepper
par-cooked* whole small waxy potatoes, sliced thin
extra virgin olive oil
cheese of practically any variety you have on hand (a total of about 2-3 cups shredded will make a nice cheesy layer; cheddar is a great match for the potatoes, ricotta would be fun, and parmigiano would be great for crisping up on the very top)
scallions, sliced
bacon, crumbled (optional)**

Roast the squash in whatever way you prefer (I like a 400 degree oven for an hour, cutting the squash in half, removing the seeds and lightly oiling the cut side before roasting. Our friend Jeremy roasts acorn squash entirely whole until soft, just on a sheet pan, and cuts in and removes the seeds after they're all cooled down, which I suspect imparts an extra squashy flavor and moist texture); this squash-roasting can be done well ahead of time and refrigerated, just be sure to get your squash to room temp or warmer to put on the pizza. After removing the peel (skin?) of the squash, break it down into chunks and place in a bowl. Add garlic, parsley, rosemary, salt and pepper and some extra virgin olive oil, and mash around until it has a sort of paste-like consistency.
In another bowl, toss the sliced potatoes with some olive oil and salt and pepper.

Grate or crumble your cheeses. As you can see, I was using this opportunity to use up the alarming hoards of bits of cheese in our cheese drawer.
We had bits of cheddar, taleggio, queso blanco, gruyere, parmigiano and romano. I used most of the cheese you see here, on this and one other pizza I'm not telling you about (it's not a secret or anything, it's just no big deal, tomato sauce, etc).

Roll or press out your dough onto the oiled pan of your choice - I've been using an 11x17 sheet pan for pizza lately. Oil it generously before fitting the dough in there or it'll stick when you bake it and you'll feel sad. If you have trouble with the dough shrinking back, leave the dough for 20 minutes to rest (if you can) and then it should be more cooperative.

Drizzle a little olive oil onto the dough and then spread on the squash in an even layer. Lay out the sliced potatoes over the whole surface, and sprinkle on your cheeses.
Let the pizza sit in a warm place, like on top of your preheating oven, to allow the dough to rise, about 20 minutes.

Bake at 450 for 15-20 minutes, until the cheeses are all melted and the crust is nice and golden brown. When you get it out of the oven, sprinkle on the sliced scallions and the bacon, if you want it, and then let the pizza cool briefly before slicing it up and eating it.
This was delicious leftover. Actually I ate cold pieces of it for lunch the next few days and it was awesome.

*For quick par-cooking to speed up things like this (or for home fries) I like to wash potatoes and pop them whole into the microwave for 2-3 minutes until they give a little when pressed.

**What I actually had was some leftover bacon wrapped (pecan stuffed) dates from a party, which I chopped up and put on there. While bacon wrapped dates stuffed with pecans are over the top delicious on their own, the pizza would also have been great with regular chopped crispy bacon, or actually no bacon at all would really have also been good, and that way I could have shared it with my vegetarian friends.