July 24, 2014

Coriander Radish Noodles

I made this dish last spring but never posted it. This year when I saw breakfast radishes again at the farmer's market, I remembered this dish and made it again. When I remember something I've made only once, I know I have to permanently remember it by posting it here.

Coriander Radish Noodles
from Heidi Swanson

12 ounces dried soba noodles
3/4 cup slivered breakfast radishes, reserve tops
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, or to taste
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
1/4 cup brown rice wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 small clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh (or dried) coriander seeds
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
poached eggs, one per person

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water generously, and cook the soba noodles per package instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool.

In the meantime, place the radishes in a small bowl and toss with 1/8 teaspoon of salt, and set aside. Place the shallots in a separate small bowl with the vinegar and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Set aside as well.

Place the garlic in a mortar and pestle, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the sea salt, and mash into a paste. Add the sesame and fresh coriander seeds, and pound together. If using dried coriander seeds, toast in a dry skillet until fragrant before using. Work in the olive oil gradually, then the paprikas, and blend until uniform.

To serve, place the soba noodles in large bowl, and arrange the radishes across the top. Trim the stems from the radish tops you reserves, and chiffonade into thin ribbons (~1/2 cup). Add them as well. Add the shallot-vinegar mixture and toss well. Drizzle with the sesame-paprika paste, and garnish with sesame seeds. Taste and season with more salt if needed. Optional, serve topped with soft-poached eggs.

Ottolenghi's Spinach Salad with Dates, Almonds, and Pita

This is one of the most delicious salads I have ever eaten, but please do not skip the sumac. It's a middle eastern spice that's hard to substitute.

Ottolenghi's Spinach Salad with Dates, Almonds, and Pita

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
3 1/2 ounces dates (100 grams), preferably Medjool, pitted and quartered lengthwise
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (30 grams)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 small pitas (about 3 1/2 ounces, or 100 grams), roughly torn into 1 1/2 -inch pieces
1/2 cup whole unsalted almonds (75 grams), coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons sumac
1/2 teaspoon chile flakes
5 to 6 ounces baby spinach leaves (150 grams)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Put vinegar, onion and dates in a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt and mix well with your hands. Leave to marinate for 20 minutes, then drain any residual vinegar and discard.

Meanwhile, heat butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add pita and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, stirring all the time, until pita is golden. Add almonds and continue cooking until pita is crunchy and browned and almonds are toasted and fragrant, about 2 minutes more. Remove from heat and mix in sumac, chile flakes and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside to cool.

When ready to serve, toss spinach leaves with pita mix in a large mixing bowl. Add dates and red onion, remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, the lemon juice and another pinch of salt. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.

March 19, 2014

Chicken Legs in Tomato Gravy with Mashed Potatoes

I just finished reading (most of) Cooked by Michael Pollan. Like my experience reading other books by Pollan, I came away amazed, enlightened, and ready to change. (After reading a book a month for five years for a book club, I asked other members what book changed their life, if any. I don't remember if anyone else had an answer, but mine was In Defense of Food by Pollan, and I couldn't quite understand why no one else had been impacted like me.) In Cooked, I learned why wild yeast sourdough bread is the healthiest bread and all about the role bacteria plays in our bodies and why we should eat more of it, like fermented foods (the modern diet is almost devoid of bacteria). But those are topics for another day. The one for today is braising.

One section of Cooked is devoted to the power of water in cooking. Braising (to cook food slowly in fat and a small amount of liquid in a covered pot) can transform seemingly hopeless cuts of meat into divine morsels. I realized braising was not a technique I really use at all in cooking, so when I saw this recipe for a chicken braise, I was motivated to try it. I made this last night; my life is changed. I certainly have used similar ingredients (chicken, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, tomatoes, water) to create other dishes, but this has to be the tastiest one-pot dish I've made or eaten ever or at least in a long time. Really, it was quite amazing.

I need more braises in my life! If you have any to share, please do. I'll definitely be on the lookout. My next will be for a grass-fed chuck steak I just bought directly from a family farm. I just bought a little beef from him to make sure I liked it (I've had some grass-fed beef that was not worth repeating), but I'm hoping to be back for more soon. And since it's more expensive than run-of-the-mill grocery store beef, cheaper cuts are all I can afford. Braising is the process to turn those cuts into something magical.

Chicken Legs in Tomato Gravy with Mashed Potatoes
adapted from Food52

olive oil
4 chicken legs (drumstick and thigh attached or separated), skin-on
1 cup celery, diced
1 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
1 1/2 cup carrots, thinly sliced on a bias
4 to 6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
2 cups tomato purée
1 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoon rosemary, minced OR 2 tsp. dried rosemary
2 bay leaves
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
mashed potatoes, for serving

Season the chicken on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat the oven to 375˚ F. Place a large sauté pan that is oven-safe over medium heat. Add enough olive oil to the pan so that the bottom is just coated. Add the chicken legs and brown them generously on all sides. Adjust the heat as necessary. Add the carrots, celery, and onions to the pan, and season with salt and pepper.  Make sure the heat is on medium or lower so that it takes a long time for them to soften. Don't let the vegetables brown. Once the veggies are very soft, add the garlic and rosemary. Stir the veggies around and once the garlic is fragrant nestle the chicken legs comfortably with the veggies.  Add the white wine or chicken broth and let it reduce to almost nothing. While the liquid is reducing use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the good bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add tomato puree, water, and bay leaves. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover with a "lid" made out of parchment, then slide it into the heated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Serve over mashed potatoes.

February 20, 2014

Anise Butter Cookies

I love anise, but haven't run across many recipes that call for aniseed. These butter cookies were delightful, but with just a hint of anise.

Anise Butter Cookies
from Mediterranean Harvest by Martha Rose Shulman

12 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 c. sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon finely chopped lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons aniseeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder
2 1/4 all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar until fluffy and pale, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and beaters. Add the egg, lemon zest, vanilla and aniseeds, and beat together.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. On low speed, beat into the butter mixture, just until combined. Gather the dough into a ball, then press down to a 1-inch thickness. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate overnight or for up to 3 days, or place in the freezer for 1 to 2 hours. Alternatively (if you don’t want to roll out the dough), remove spoonfuls of half of the dough and plop them down the middle of a piece of parchment paper to create a log about 2 inches in diameter. Fold the parchment up around the log to and refrigerate for 2 hours or longer. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Preheat the oven to 350 F with the rack adjusted to the lowest setting. Line baking sheets with parchment.

Cut the dough into 2 or 4 pieces, and roll out one piece at a time on a lightly floured work surface, to about ¼-inch thick. Cut into circles or shapes, dipping the cutter into flour between each cut, and place 1 inch apart on the baking sheet. Keep the remaining pieces of dough in the refrigerator or freezer.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, turning the baking sheets front to back halfway through. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

Honey Peanut Butter Bars

I bought puffed rice for a recipe, but it really called for crisp rice cereal. I searched for a recipe using puffed rice and found this one. Since I made it I've been craving more and will make some soon.

Honey Peanut Butter Bars
adapted from She Bakes Here

1 cup natural peanut butter
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup melted honey
3 - 3 1/2 cups puffed wheat or rice cereal
1/4 cup chocolate, melted

Line a 8x8 inch square pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, stir together peanut butter, maple syrup and honey with a wooden spoon.

Stir in puffed wheat or rice cereal and mix until the cereal is lightly coated. Using the back of the spoon, press the mixture evenly into the square pan.

Put the pan in the freezer for 25 minutes until the bars have hardened.

Grab hold of the parchment paper and gently lift the bars out of the pan. Using a sharp knife, cut the bars into even rectangles. Drizzle with melted chocolate.

Store bars in an airtight container in the fridge.

Big Yummy Bowl

This salad is absolutely delicious. My toddler loved it too - she cleaned her plate in record time. This photo is after her second plateful. Doesn't she look happy? The original recipe was called Big Vegan Bowl, but the fact that it is vegan is irrelevant. It's a big YUMMY bowl!

Big Yummy Bowl
from Oh She Glows

1 large sweet potato, chopped into 3/4-inch cubes
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (about 1.5 cups)
olive oil
spices: garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, cayenne
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
purple cabbage or vegetable of choice, shredded
couple handfuls of greens for the base (optional)
lots of hummus
sliced avocado
hulled hemp seeds (optional)

Preheat oven to 400F and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Spread out the chopped sweet potato on one sheet. Drizzle with 1/2 tablespoon of oil or so and toss the potatoes until coated. Sprinkle with fine grain sea salt.

For the roasted chickpeas: Drain and rinse the chickpeas and then place on a large tea towel and pat until completely dry. Discard any skins that fall off. Transfer the chickpeas to the baking sheet and drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon oil. Rub them around with your hands until lightly coated. Generously sprinkle with fine grain sea salt and your favorite spices, like garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, and salt. Toss gently to combine.

Place both the sweet potato and chickpeas into the preheated oven. Roast for 15 minutes at 400F and then remove both. Flip the sweet potatoes and gently roll around the chickpeas. Place back in the oven for another 15 minutes or so, watching closely during the last 5 minutes. When the chickpeas are golden and the sweet potatoes are lightly browned on the bottom and fork tender, they are ready to come out.

Meanwhile, cook the quinoa while the roasting is going on. In a fine mesh sieve, rinse the quinoa and then place in a medium pot. Add in 1.5 cups of water and stir. Bring the mixture to a low boil and then reduce the heat to low/medium and cover with lid. Simmer, covered, for about 14-17 minutes (you can check after 13 minutes), until all of the water is absorbed and the quinoa is fluffy. Remove from heat and leave the lid on to steam for another 5-10 minutes or longer if needed. Fluff with fork.

Assemble the bowl: Add a couple handfuls of greens into a large shallow bowl. When the roasted veggies and chickpeas are done, allow the chickpeas to cool for 5 minutes and then add them on the salad followed by the sliced avocado, hummus, shredded veggies, and hemp seeds. Serve immediately.

January 30, 2014

Bolognese Sauce

This sauce is delicious and easy, and served over pasta with cheese is the kind of meal I crave on a cold winter night.

Bolognese Sauce
adapted from The Pioneer Woman

1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup carrots, grated
1 onion, diced
1 pound ground beef
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. dried basil
4 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire or soy sauce
1 can (28 ounce) whole tomatoes
1/2 cup milk, optional
salt and pepper, to taste
freshly grated Parmesan or Romano Pecorino cheese

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or skillet over medium heat. Add grated carrots and onions and cook for a few minutes. Make a well in the center of the mixture, and then add in the ground beef. Cook for a few minutes until brown, gradually stirring it into the carrot mixture.

Add oregano and basil. When the meat is browned and combined with other ingredients, make another well. Add tomato paste and let it heat. Add garlic and stir to combine.
Make a well in the center of the mixture and add stock. Stir together. Add Worcestershire or soy sauce and stir. Add canned tomatoes. Finally, pour in milk, stir, and let simmer for 30 minutes, up to 2 hours.

Serve with pasta and Parmesan or Romano Pecorino cheese.