Sunday, May 19, 2013
For all my posturing about being better about New Year's Resolutions, specifically Sunday Suppers, I have been a complete failure. I think we've done two dinner parties so far this year, and one of them was my Dad's birthday dinner. Failure.
Dinner #3 tonight, though, was so much fun that I'm newly-resolved to start them up again. Hopefully, they're not all goodbyes like tonight's dinner was, but if I'm still recovering from the calorie overload (and Duchess is still recovering from her new puppy playmate overload), it won't matter what the occasion is.
The main course was an Italian dish called Socca, which I've renamed Beef, Cabbage + Potato Gratin for two reasons. A) To me, socca is this, or farinata. B) I prefer "gratin" to "casserole" because "casserole" is entirely too plain-Jane for this delightful concoction.
My only word of warning is to line the bottom of your oven with some aluminum foil. The sheer volume of this food does not fit in a 9x13 pan, and overflow is bound to happen. I'd say it's worth scrubbing the oven, though, if you've forgotten - tender pieces of beef, sweet melting strands of cabbage, all hefted up by just a bit of potato. And because there's only a sprinkling of cheese on top of this pot roast meets lasagna dish (rather than in every layer like a regular lasagna), it's only decadent, and not overly heavy.
I'm taking suggestions for other vegetable fillings. Mushrooms are obvious. I want to stay away from carrots and onions so it doesn't venture too far into pot roast territory. Man, if only Matty liked parsnips...
Beef, Cabbage + Potato Gratin
adapted from The Amateur Gourmet
12 large sage leaves, finely chopped
1/4 c. fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
8 garlic cloves, peeled
10 T. olive oil, divided
1 1/2 T. salt, divided
2 lbs. red potatoes, sliced 1/2-inch thick
4 lbs. boneless chuck roast
2 1/2-lb. head of Napa cabbage, cored and shredded
2 c. white wine
10 oz. Fontina cheese, shredded
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. Use a mortar and pestle to blend the sage, rosemary, garlic and 1/2 t. salt into a paste. Slowly whisk in 1/4 c. olive oil. Set aside.
3. Put the potato slices in a large bowl, and mix in 1 t. salt, 2. olive oil and 1 T. of the herb paste. Toss well to coat.
4. Slice the beef into 3/4-inch cubes, and toss well with 1 t. salt, 2 T. olive oil and 2 T. of the herb paste.
5. Brush a 9x13-inch baking pan with 2 T. olive oil. Arrange half of the potato slices in a single layer on the bottom of the pan, spread half of the cabbage over the potatoes, and season with 1 t. salt. Add all of the beef over the cabbage. Repeat with the remaining potatoes and cabbage, seasoning with another teaspoon of salt. Stir the remaining herb paste into the white wine, and pour the wine all over the top of the dish.
6. Cover the baking dish with foil, and bake in the oven for about 2 1/2 hours, until the meat and vegetables are easily pierced with a knife.
7. Remove the foil, and sprinkle the shredded Fontina over the top. Bake another 10-15 minutes, uncovered, until the cheese has melted, bubbled and browned into a crusty topping. Let the casserole rest for 10 minutes before serving.
And the perfect palate-cleanser to serve with the gratin to basically clear the way for dessert is this Kale Salad with Roasted Cauliflower. The original recipe calls for roasted parsnips as well, but we've already discussed how half of the family isn't into parsnips. It was for the best, though - the whole meal would have been too starchy between those and the potatoes in the gratin. As it was, the lemon vinaigrette gave the perfect amount of brightness, and a last-minute inclusion of capers gave a fun briny pop to the salad.
Oh, and did I mention the kale is from our garden? Not so humble brag. So stoked on it. Kale forever!
Kale Salad with Roasted Cauliflower
adapted from Tasting Table
1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
leaves from 2 sprigs of rosemary
1 pinch dried red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, to taste
3 T. olive oil, divided
2 T. lemon juice
1 bunch lacinato kale, cut into ribbons
2 T. capers, drained
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. Line a baking sheet with foil. Toss the cauliflower with 2 T. olive oil, lemon zest, rosemary, red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper to taste, and turn onto the baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, until the cauliflower begins to brown around the edges, tossing once.
3. In a large bowl, massage 1 T. olive oil into the kale ribbons. Add the cauliflower, lemon juice and capers, and toss to thoroughly coat. Adjust seasonings as necessary, and serve.
Friday, May 17, 2013
When I was a kid, fried shrimp was served at every special occasion. Nothing fancy, just the frozen stuff from Costco, but it was tasty and made for a good presentation.
This isn't as cute as most fried shrimp manages to look, but it was still as satisfying. Dare I say, even more satisfying because you don't feel like all you're eating is breading. I used my favorite fried chicken method, and as it was with the chicken, the shrimp came out perfectly cooked.
The glass noodle stir-fry is a simple one, made with 4 packets of noodles that I've had sitting in the pantry for ages, and vegetables on their last legs in the crisper. I would have liked for this to have been a little more green, but both the snap peas and edamame were past their prime.
Crispy Shrimp + Glass Noodle Stir-Fry
inspired by Serious Eats
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 T. mirin
1 T. soy sauce
2-inch piece of ginger, minced
1/2 c. chopped green onions, white and light green parts only
8 oz. glass noodles
1/2 c. potato starch
vegetable oil, for frying
8 oz. white mushrooms, sliced
1 c. shredded red cabbage
1 c. bean sprouts
1 chile in adobo sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
1. In a medium bowl, toss together the shrimp, mirin, soy sauce, ginger and green onions. Marinate for 15 minutes.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the glass noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
3. In a large, deep skillet, bring about an inch of vegetable oil to 375 degrees. Adjust the heat to maintain that temperature. Brush as much of the ginger and green onions off of the shrimp as possible, reserving the marinade. Toss the shrimp with the potato starch. Add the shrimp to the hot oil, and fry until golden brown. Drain the shrimp on paper towels, and set aside.
4. Pour off all about 2 T. of oil. Add the mushrooms, and cook until golden brown. Add the cabbage, and cook until wilted. Add the bean sprouts and chile and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the reserved noodles and marinade, and cook until warmed through.
5. Divide the noodles among 4 serving plates, and top with the shrimp. Serve immediately.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
I'm not sure there's much left to say with a name like this: Stuffed. Poblano. Peppers. Cashew. Chipotle. Sauce. I've not always been a fan of peppers, but I've come around, and maybe if all peppers were like this, I would have always had a love affair.
I used quinoa instead of rice because we just had rice, and I was short on time - the quinoa cooked much faster than the brown rice I had in the pantry. As the comments on the original recipe state, you easily have enough to stuff twice as many peppers, so if you're serving a crowd, knock yourself out. If you're not, you can reheat the stuffing the next day, and as I always like to do with leftovers, put an egg on it for a divine breakfast.
My only complaint with this recipe is that my cashew-chipotle sauce was more like cashew butter than it was sauce. And I'm not exactly sure if I should have added more chicken broth to thin it out, or more of some sort of oil in order to get it to emulsify into a sauce. It was still good, but it was a bit dry, and not as luscious-looking as the Serious Eats photo. However, I do now have a party trick for grown-up PB&J.
Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Cashew-Chipotle Sauce
slightly adapted from Serious Eats
makes 6 stuffed peppers
For the peppers:
6 medium poblano peppers
1 onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 1/2 c. quinoa
1/3 c. golden raisins
1/3 c. capers, drained
3 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. chopped cilantro
4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
For the cashew-chipotle sauce:
4 T. olive oil, divided
1 c. cashews
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t. ground cumin
1/2 c. chicken broth
2 whole chipotles packed in adobo sauce, roughly chopped
1 t. red wine vinegar
1 t. sugar
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Char the poblanos directly over the flame of a gas burner, on a grill, or under a broiler. Transfer the hot, charred poblanos to a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.
2. Heat 2 T. olive oil in a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions and bell peppers, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the quinoa and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Stir in raisins and capers. Add 3 c. chicken broth, and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until liquid is totally absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. Fluff quinoa with a fork, and stir in cilantro.
3. Heat 2 T. olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add cashews and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add garlic, cumin and chipotle peppers, and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 1/2 c. chicken broth, vinegar and sugar, and bring to a simmer. Transfer to a blender, and blend on high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
5. Uncover the poblano peppers and carefully peel. Slit each pepper lengthwise and remove the seeds. Spread a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of a 9-inch square baking dish. Stuff each pepper with quinoa, and close until the shape resembles a pepper. Place in the sauce, seam-side-up. Repeat until all 6 peppers are stuffed and placed.
6. Cover the peppers with the remaining sauce and grated cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
I'm a little afraid to admit how easy this Strawberry Jello was to make and bring to my parents' house tonight for Mother's Day dinner. I mean, Mom had already insisted on making her own dinner even though I tried to argue no fewer than 5 times within the space of 60 seconds that the entire point of Mother's Day is for her to do absolutely nothing, and even if she was trying to spare me the work, the least Matty and I could do was take her out to dinner.
Alas, I argued to no avail. I figured I'd show up with a dessert anyway, and this beauty popped up just in time.
I tried to be creative with it - you know how strawberries dipped into sour cream and then brown sugar is just about the best thing you can do all summer? I tried to incorporate brown sugar into the puree, and used sour cream instead of whipped cream in the second layer. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), the strawberries were just so good and fresh, that neither flavor came through - all you could taste was strawberry for days.
By the way, you don't see the second cream layer here because I didn't wait long enough for the first layer to set before pouring it on. However, it did make a very pretty pink almost heart shape within the ring when we sliced in. Considering it'll be for looks only, I think I'd sub in Greek yogurt next time just to get the pretty pink color without the calories/fat of whipped cream. However, I think coconut milk might be able to cut through, so I'll definitely be giving that a try later this summer.
slightly adapted from Zoe Bakes
1 1/2 lb. fresh strawberries
3/4 c. brown sugar
2 packets unflavored Knox gelatin
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/4 c. sour cream
1. In a saucepan, heat the strawberries and sugar over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Puree the fruit with an immersion blender.
3. In a small bowl, pour the 2 packets of gelatin over 2 T. of water, making sure no dry powder remains. Let the gelatin sit until it blooms and absorbs all the water.
4. Heat the puree to a simmer, turn off the heat, and add the bloomed gelatin. Stir until the gelatin is melted and evenly distributed in the puree.
5. Fill a 4-cup mold with 3/4-ths of the puree. Set the mold in the refrigerator until a skin is formed on the top, about 30 minutes.
6. Whisk the sour cream into the remaining puree. Add the sour cream mixture to the skinned-over mold. Set in the refrigerator for 3 hours or until very well set.
7. To unmold the jello, fill a large bowl with hot water. Dip the mold into the hot water for about 15 to 30 seconds. If necessary, use a thin-bladed knife to separate the edge of the mold from the jello. Invert onto a platter, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Matty's day-before-birthday dinner was an absolute disaster.
Well, I don't suppose you can call that salad disaster if you had intended to only make a gorgeous salad with seared scallops on top for dinner. But if you were intending to make Ming Tsai's Crispy Sushi Rice-Encrusted Scallops, and you ended up with scallops looking like the above, you might just quit cooking. Go ahead - click on the link and look at that picture. I'll wait.
So you make sushi rice. Check. Then you wrap the rice around raw scallops. Sticky, but check. Then, you deep-fry the sushi rice balls.
Hm. Well. I'm not scared of deep-frying. I think after these chicken nuggets, and these gluten-free donuts, I can confidently say I'm okay with deep-frying. However, I knew these were going to be disaster the moment I plunged them into the oil.
What's there to keep the rice from staying on the scallops (even though they stuck to my hands like their existence depended on it) when thrown into a vat of hot oil. Pardon my French, but jack shit. The oil basically blew the rice crust off immediately, and I was left with bits of rice crispies on the bottom of the pan, but by some grace of a higher power, the scallops managed to survive and stay perfectly cooked.
So an hour later (rice-cooking time, rice-balling time, disastrous frying time, crying into hot oil time - well, not really, but I figure I continue being dramatic), I had a delicious salad that I would normally be able to make in 15 minutes. My plans to take Matty out to organ music night at our local rollerskating rink went completely out the window, and I think we just ended up watching some basketball we don't care about. (Although, is there still room on the Steph Curry bandwagon? Adore.)
The salad was just cupfuls of our favorite veggies - Trader Joe's Power to the Green mix, red cabbage, sugar snap peas, orange bell pepper, straw mushrooms, baby corn and bean sprouts - and I made Matty's favorite salad dressing, the ubiquitous Japanese restaurant staple, carrot-ginger dressing. It's so easy, and so tasty. You'll have leftovers, which you can use as a dip for just about anything.
slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen
makes 1 cup
1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
2 T. fresh ginger, sliced
2 T. white miso
2 T. mirin
2 T. sesame oil
1/4 c. vegetable oil
2 T. water
1. In the bowl of a food processor, process the carrot, shallot and ginger until very finely chopped. Scrape down the sides, then add the miso, mirin and sesame oil. While the machine is running, slowly drizzle in the vegetable oil and water.
Luckily, I left the cooking to the professionals at Perch for his actual birthday today, and even though they regaled us with a white chocolate bread pudding with a bourbon. caramel. glaze, I had baked a lemon cheesecake early this morning, and managed to keep it a secret from him all day (thank you, second fridge), so we dug in when we got home. Just his grandma's perfect cheesecake recipe with a bit more lemon juice and zest. All's well that ends well.
Monday, May 6, 2013
I'm home! After four straight days of going over my calorie allotment (they can still eat foie gras there!), and after four straight days of leaving Matty to fend for himself (orange chicken, anyone?), we were both in need of major detoxing.
We were supposed to start Saturday with something nice and light, but juleps at a Kentucky Derby party with two of our greatest friends led to a meat-heavy dinner at their friend's Argentinean restaurant, so Saturday was shot.
An impromptu Cinco de Mayo barbecue (Trader Joe's carne asada and egg tacos make the greatest brunch of all time) also wrecked Sunday's calorie count, although we started out on the right path at dinner - all that brunch feasting left us only hungry enough for salad when dinner time rolled around).
And here we are at Monday, I've made myself a new rule to not eat carbs before dinner, and we're keeping things in check with the greenest green curry I've ever had in my life. I love it so much - nothing terribly crazy or fatty, just a bit of creamy coconut milk and chicken thighs - even if they're not quite as sinless as chicken breasts, life's really too short to debate tasty chicken vs. boring chicken.
The original recipe called for 3 c. of sugar snap peas, and while I love sugar snap peas much as the next fanatic, that would be extremely overwhelming. 2 c., which I've noted below, is just enough. Add on the watercress-cilantro-bean sprout salad, and you have the freshest, yet still comforting-enough-for-a-rainy-night curry ever.
One note - I would up the curry paste and fish sauce if you're going to serve this over rice. Alone, 1 1/2 T. of curry paste and 1/2 T. fish sauce should do it, but I leave it up to you in the instructions below.
Coconut Green Curry with Chicken + Snap Peas
slightly adapted from Serious Eats
1 1/2 T. coconut oil
1 lb. oyster mushrooms, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 - 2 T. green curry paste
1 c. chicken stock
1 14-oz. can coconut milk
1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken thighs
12 oz. sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 T. fish sauce, divided
1 T. fresh lime juice
1/4 t. sugar
1 c. bean sprouts
1/2 c. watercress
1/2 c. cilantro leaves
2 green onions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
2 c. cooked rice
1. Heat the coconut oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat until melted. Add the mushrooms, and cook until most of their liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and add the garlic, cooking until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the curry paste, and cook, stirring until fragrant, another 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock and coconut milk, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the chicken thighs, and adjust the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook until the chicken has cooked through, about 15 minutes, turning over halfway.
2. Remove the chicken from the pan, dice into bite-sized pieces, and return to the pan. Add the snap peas, and continue cooking until the snap peas are just cooked through, but still crunchy, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with fish sauce.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 T. of fish sauce, sugar and lime juice. Add the bean sprouts, watercress, cilantro and green onions, and toss to coat.
4. Scoop out 1/2 c. of rice into each of 4 bowls. Ladle over 1 c. of curry, and divide the salad among the bowls. Serve immediately.
Sunday, April 28, 2013
These were supposed to be scones. And then something went terribly wrong.
Instead of getting a ball of dough, I got batter. Maybe my strawberries were a little too juicy? I was already running late this morning, so I ended up adding two eggs to the batter and pouring the stuff into a muffin tin. In hindsight, I should have added more sugar as well - while the sweetness level would have been appropriate for a scone, it wasn't really muffin-y. The recipe below reflects the amount of sugar I would have used had these been muffins to start with.
They were still pretty good - tender and moist, and faintly pretty pink. Not bad for something that only 30 minutes earlier had me staring and cursing at a bowl of pink goo.
adapted from Baking Bites
makes 12 muffins
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. butter, cold, cut into pieces
6 oz. plain Greek yogurt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 c. chopped strawberries, divided
1/4 c. sliced almonds
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a muffin pan with muffin liners.
2. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar and butter in a food fprocessor. Process for 15-20 seconds, until no large pieces of butter remain.
3. Add the yogurt, eggs and 1 c. strawberries to the food processor. Pulse until combined.
4. Divide the batter evenly among the twelve muffin cups. Divide the remaining strawberry pieces and almond slices over the top of each muffin.
5. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool on a baking rack before serving.