Sunday, June 7, 2015

always want more

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

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

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

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

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

right up my alley

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

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

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

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

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

1. Start the water boiling to cook the noodles.

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

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

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

light as a feather

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 25, 2015

we sail tonight for singapore

I picked a hell of a time to get into roasting chicken. I mean it's not hot yet, but very soon, it will be completely inappropriate to let the oven run for an hour, even in the evening.

While I can, though, I'm going to be doing this every week, so get prepared (and send me your favorite roast chicken "recipes"/flavor combinations)!

Today's recipe was inspired by the finest chicken rice I've ever eaten at Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice at the Maxwell Food Centre in Singapore. It was my first thought when I saw the recipe over at She Simmers. All the talk of lemongrass and chili dipping sauces took me straight back to the sweatiest (but one of the most delicious) days of my life.

It kind of took on a life of its own, though - obviously, the chicken was roasted and not poached, so the texture was different. I ended up rubbing the chicken with a coconut oil-ginger-garlic mixture that, when combined with the lemongrass stuffing made for some of the most delicately perfumed chicken ever. (I'm speaking in a lot of hyperbole today. Trust me, it was deserved).

I tossed a couple spoonfuls of the delicious coconut oil-chicken fat at the bottom of the baking dish with the red sprouted jasmine rice for a nice solid base, and simply sauteed quartered bok choy in some sesame oil to round out the dish.

Ginger-Lemongrass Roast Chicken
inspired by She Simmers
serves 4-6

1 whole chicken, about 5 lbs.
4 T. coconut oil
1 t. minced ginger
1 t. granulated garlic
1 t. salt
3 large lemongrass stalks, halved and cut into 4-inch pieces

1. Set the chicken out on the counter to lose that refrigerator chill while you preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a small bowl, mix together the coconut oil, ginger, garlic and salt.

3. Remove any "extras" from the inside of the chicken and pat dry. Carefully slide your hand between the skin and the chicken breast. Spread half of the coconut oil under the skin, the other half over the outside of the chicken.

4. Place the chicken on a v-rack in a small roasting pan or baking dish and add 1/2 c. water to the bottom of the pan. Roast for about an hour, or until the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165 degrees. Let rest 10 minutes before carving and serving.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

a little bit of spice

A little bit of healthy yum for what is consistently my weak spot - a good old-fashioned barbecue. There is generally no amount of smoked meat that I will turn down, and today's celebration was no exception.

For the longest time, my buddy Paul and I have been trying to get a brisket-off going, but it hasn't been the easiest thing to get all of the competitors together. It finally happened today, in celebration of Paul's birthday. It was meant to be.

I've already assaulted Facebook and Instagram with the results (hint: I'm marrying the guy), and let's be honest about how sliced brisket is not the cutest thing to photograph. Instead, I want to talk about this glorious hummus.

Yes, hummus is usually not evocative of such a descriptor, but this one's worth it. This one is rich and creamy (thanks, avocado), comfortably lip-tingling (just two roasted jalapenos, thanks), and all that wonderful cumin and cilantro gives it such a wonderful earthiness that is just so satisfying.

I meant to grab some naan to serve with this, but ran out of time to make another stop at the grocery store. Luckily, there were plenty of chip options already at the party. I think this is definitely a carb-y accompaniment, though - crudite is nice, but I think you want to use some sort of flatbread thing to take full advantage of all of the flavors, and the sweetness of vegetables throw an unnecessary additional flavor profile to your bite.

Roasted Jalapeno Hummus
slightly adapted from Minimalist Baker
makes 2 cups

For the hummus:
2 jalapeños
2 cloves garlic, skin on
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained
1 small avocado
juice of 2 limes
1 t. cumin
4 T. olive oil
1/4 c. cilantro leaves
salt, to taste

For the pepitas:
1/2 c. raw pumpkin seeds
1 T. olive oil
pinch each salt, pepper and cumin

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Place garlic cloves with skin still on and whole jalapeños on a baking sheet. Drizzle them with a small amount of olive oil, and roast for 15-18 minutes, flipping jalapeños once to ensure even roasting.

3. Once done, remove from oven and set garlic aside. Wrap the jalapeños in foil to steam for a few minutes. Then carefully peel away skin and remove seeds.

4. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the chickpeas, 4 T. olive oil, cilantro, avocado, cumin, lime juice, roasted jalapeños, and peeled garlic cloves. Blend until creamy and smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Salt to taste.

5. To prepare toasted pumpkin seeds, preheat oven to 350 degrees, and toss 1/2 c. seeds with 1 T. olive oil, and a pinch each salt, pepper, and cumin. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for 8-12 minutes. Add to top of hummus, along with another drizzle of olive oil and fresh cilantro. Serve hummus with veggies, tortilla chips, or pita.

Friday, May 22, 2015

good morning, good morning

I've always thought that the smoothie bowl is the most obnoxious "health food" trend I've observed in a long time. I mean, why is your smoothie in a bowl? The whole point of a smoothie is to put a whole bunch of fruit/vegetables (which you would normally serve yourself from a bowl) into a cup, preferably with a straw, so that you can walk about and carry on while "eating." Why would you go through the trouble blending all that just to put it back in a bowl and make yourself sit down to eat?

Well, when you go low on chia seeds to make the pudding you're used to, and instead, find that 6 T. of chia seeds to 2 c. of liquid will only get you an end-product with the consistency of a smoothie. Then you give up, pour 1/2 a cup of the stuff into a bowl, and start going at your fridge and pantry to find pretty things to decorate the top of your smoothie bowl with - in my case, mangos, bananas, blueberries and unsweetened coconut flakes.

I must say, it's not a terrible breakfast. It evens feels a little like dessert, with all of those toppings. And I have never been so energetic and happy than after having ingested this combo of chia and matcha - and bonus: no coffee jitters! I stand corrected, smoothie bowls.

Matcha Chia Smoothie Bowl
slightly adapted from Choosing Raw
serves 4 (with fruit added)

2 c. unsweetened vanilla almond milk
6 T. chia seeds
1 t. matcha powder
toppings of your choice

1. In a large measuring cup, combine the almond milk, chia seeds and matcha powder. Stir vigorously to evenly combine. Divide among four 1/2-c. containers, and refrigerate overnight.

2. In the morning, top with your choice of toppings - fruit, nuts, etc. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

love letter go tell her

Dear Flavors of Southeast Asia,

I miss you so, so much.

I should know better than to think I could do as well to recreate them on my own, but you can't blame me for trying. And honestly, this soba noodle soup supplemented by a few chunks of salmon, poached directly in a coconut broth accented by funky fish sauce and heady lime juice, is no slouch.

I'd mix up the mushrooms a bit more for interest next time, and I'd try the black rice vermicelli I found in the Asian grocery store, but for now, this soup is the band-aid for my aching heart.

Until I see you again,

Soba + Salmon in Coconut Broth
slightly adapted from Food52
serves 4

1 T. coconut oil
1 lb. mixed mushrooms (I used king trumpet and shiitake)
2 14-oz. cans light coconut milk
1/2 T. minced ginger
1 1-in. piece lemongrass, halved lengthwise, hard outer skin removed and smashed with a cleaver
1 jalapeno, seeds removed and diced
1 c. halved cherry tomatoes
2 c. vegetable broth
2 T. fish sauce, or to taste
3 T. fresh lime juice, or to taste
9 oz. soba noodles, cooked according to package instructions
cilantro leaves, for garnish

1. Heat the coconut oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high. Add the mushrooms, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes; remove to a plate.

2. Raise the heat to high. Add coconut milk, ginger, lemongrass, chiles and tomatoes to pan and cook, stirring, until coconut milk thickens, about 10 minutes. Stir the stock into the coconut milk mixture, add the salmon, and cook 2 minutes or until salmon is just cooked. Add the mushrooms and their juices.

3. Divide the soba between 4 bowls. Ladle the broth and salmon over the noodles, and serve immediately.