Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Usually I use canned chickpeas for my hummus, especially since I think I read somewhere that using freshly cooked hummus results in less creamy hummus. However, I was wrong! Melissa Clark's recipe for Stupendous Hummus in "Cook This Now", uses freshly cooked chickpeas to obtain a satiny smooth texture. Cooking chickpeas is actually very simple and cheap to do. It only requires preplanning the night before to soak the beans.
She says that the chickpea skins should be removed and discarded (all if you want the smoothest hummus, but it is okay to just do as many as you have attention span for).
I made 1/2 of the recipe (1/2 cup dried chickpeas). The hummus appears to have become sightly more flavorful after being in the fridge for a few hours.
One hint that she gives, is that the spices and salt need to be mixed with the liquid so that the salt dissolves and the spices are distributed evenly. So when you make the hummus, you should add the water, lemon juice, spices, and salt and then blend. Then add the tahini and blend (this is so that the tahini gets dissolved. And finally, only after everything else has been blended, then add the chickpeas and blend one more time.
Monday, January 30, 2012
This dish was made to use up the left over chard from the soup I made this weekend. Even though the motivation was using up leftovers, the dish came out surprisingly nice--nice enough that I may actually buy these ingredients specifically to make this dish sometime in the future.
1/2 bunch shard
a few sunchokes
a few cloves of garlic, skins intact
Roast sunchokes and garlic as described here. Peel the skin from the roasted garlic; discard skin.
Wash chard, and cut stems away from the leaves. Cut leaves into strips about 1/2 inch wide. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Blanch the leaves and stems separately. The leaves probably only need a few seconds--only just enough time to stir the leaves in and drain them. The stems need no more then 3-4 minutes. Taste the vegetables as they cook to help you determine when they are done. Drain the cooked vegetables, and rinse thoroughly with cold water to stop the cooking.
Heat a saute pan on medium to medium-high. Add some olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the shard, sunchokes, and garlic. Saute briefly, just until the vegetables get hot. Add a pinch of salt, and taste; adjust salt as necessary. Remove from heat, and mix in a splash of good quality olive oil if you like.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Scrub any dirt off the sunchokes. Slice in half and place in a cast iron pan. Add a few cloves of unpeeled garlic if you like. Toss with melted butter, rosemary leaves, and salt. Roast for 30-35 minutes or until soft and the edges have browned, turning every once in a while. (These took 45 minutes). Serve hot or at room temperature.
Recipe: "Winter Salad with Fennel, Radicchio, Walnuts and Manchego" from Melissa Clark's "Cook This Now"
Rating: Great! This is a very pleasing salad, and it has pretty white/pink/red colors. I like the crunchiness of the fennel and the slightly bitter radicchio and walnuts contrast and bring out the sweetness of the fennel. This recipe is a keeper; it makes a very pleasing salad.
Status: Made a few times.
"Winter Salad with Fennel, Radicchio, Walnuts and Manchego" from Melissa Clark's "Cook This Now". The fennel must be shaved paper thin using a mandolin; they should be thin but not too thin--they should still be crunchy.
The recipe makes 4 servings. Use 1/2 fennel bulb, 1/2 of a small radicchio (about the size of a baseball), and 1/2 of the dressing quantity specified in the recipe to make 2 servings. If you plan on serving this two days in a row to 2 people, than you can make the full quantity of dressing, and then just prepare the fennel and radicchio right before serving.
- I've tried using walnut oil in the dressing once or twice.
- Sometimes I use crush half the walnuts and keep half whole for garnishing. When I chop the walnuts, I like their to be a variety of sizes (some finely chopped and some more coarsely chopped) and I mix most of the chopped walnuts into the salad, and also save a little bit of the walnuts for garnishing on top of the mixed salad.
- I've also made this salad with French radishes which were sliced on a Japanese mandoline; use about 8 to 12 radishes with 1 fennel bulb and 1 small radicchio.
- I usually start with the amount of lemon juice in the dressing that Melissa Clark suggested, and then added a little bit more lemon juice to taste since I like the dressing to have some acidity (last time I made this I ended up using the juice of 1 whole lemon).
- Another variation is to serve this salad in individual bowls with a poached egg on top.
- Both cheese options are great (manchego or parmesan). You should definitely mix some cheese into the dressing and shave cheese curls on top of the salad.
With radishes and a poached egg:
With two types of Radicchio:
After having a white bean and kale soup at work, I was inspired to make my own version. I was surprised at how much I lied the combination of beans and kale. I searched out the exact same type of beans that they used.
1/2 cup Italian Butter Beans (I used beans from Iacopi Farm)
1 bay leaf
1 stick rosemary
1/2 bunch of chard
1 medium yellow onion
2 carrots, thinly sliced
Cook the beans: Soak beans in cold water for several hours or overnight. The skin of the beans will shrivel and look like your hands when they have been in water for too long. Drain. Place beans in a pot and cover with 2-3 times their volume of water. Add 1 bay leaf and 1 stick rosemary. Bring to a boil, and then lower to a simmer. Simmer until the beans are nearly cooked through (about 1 hour for this type of beans), and then add 1/2 tsp salt and cook for 10-15 more minutes. Do not add salt until nearly the end of cooking, otherwise the beans will break down too much.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Wash the chard, and then cut the stems away from the chard leaves. Slice the chard leaves into 1/2 inch wide strips. Blanch stems and leaves separately. The leaves should only need a few seconds; the leaves should not need more then 3-4 minutes. Rinse with cold water to set the color and stop the cooking. Drain and set aside. (I didn't add salt to the blanching water, but next time I make this recipe I might blanch the chard in salted water, so that hopefully it will absorb some of the salt).
Mince one medium onion, and saute it in a pan with some olive oil until the onion becomes golden. Add the beans, chicken stock, carrot slices, and a pinch of white pepper in a soup pot. Taste the bean water; if it tastes okay, then add it to the pot. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes.
This soup needs to have some of its contents blended and added back into the soup in order for the flavors to meld. Either use a hand blender to blend only part of the soup, or let the soup cool slightly (be extremely careful with hot liquids in a blender), and add 1/4 of it (including some beans) into a blender. Blend, and then return the blended ingredients back into the pot. Taste and adjust the salt content. Bring to a boil, and add the chard into the soup just before service.
Monday, January 16, 2012
Preheat oven to 450. Toss cauliflower with olive oil, salt, red pepper flakes, and curry powder. Roast for 30 minutes, turning once in a while, or until soft and some edges have caramelized.
An idea that I haven't tried yet is to toss the cauliflower with just lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper before roasting. I didn't do this, because I wanted to roast in my cast iron pan, and acids such a lemon juice aren't good in cast iron.
This would be nice with a yogurt sauce, tahini, or a bit of fresh olive oil drizzled on before serving.
I love Israeli couscous because of its bouncy chewiness. In this recipe it is mixed with a buttery garlicky sauce.
Recipe: modified from Shrimp Scampi recipe from Melissa Clark's "Cook This Now".
Rating: a favorite dish
I replaced pernod with a bit extra white wine (since I didn't have any pernod), and I mixed the scampi with cooked Israeli couscous. I used only 1/2 tsp sea salt because my butter was salted and I heavily salted the couscous water.
3 Tbsp butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 tsp sea salt
pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 pound shrimp, shelled
2 Tbsp fresh minced fennel fronds
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
1 cup couscous
To make couscous: Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add 1 cup couscous to boiling water. Let simmer for 4-5 minutes until the couscous is cooking. Drain. If the couscous isn't immediately being mixed with the sauce, then toss it with some olive oil to prevent sticking.
While the couscous is cooking, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, and cook about 1 minute, until fragrant, but not browned. Add the wine, salt, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer, and let it reduce by half (about 2 minutes).
Add the shrimp and cook, stirring, until they just turn pink and a cooked through (2-4 minutes, depending on size). Stir in minced fennel fronds and lemon juice. Toss with cooked couscous. Taste and adjust seasonings and salt.
Here is a picture from the second time I made this recipe:
Butternut Squash Ravioli with Brown Butter, Toasted Pine Nuts, and Anchovy Bread Crumbs. The ravioli were tossed with brown butter, some Italian herbs, dried chili powder, and toasted pine nuts. I was trying to use up the anchovy bread crumbs because they were left over from another (unsuccessful recipe from Melissa Clark's "Cook This Now"; they surprisingly tied everything together. Ravioli was bought (not homemade).
Friday, January 13, 2012
The soup made from the first blotched Wild Rice Salad attempt. This is a vegetable broth with some cooked wild rice and white rice, with a minced roasted serrano chili, and a spoonful of half and half. It makes a fairly pleasing soup, though next time I would cook the white rice separately, and only add it to the bowl before serving so that the white rice grains stay intact. If you leave the white rice in the soup for an extended period of time, it tends to break down and get softer. This is okay and it makes a thicker soup, but I prefer distinct grains.
Rice cakes are a form of noodle that I learned about a year ago. Their thickness makes a particularly pleasing chewiness, so if you like chewy noodles, these are for you. Here, I'm just playing around with some rice cakes in my freezer that needed to be used up. Rice cakes can be bought fresh; if you don't use them up, then they store for months in the freezer. Stir fried rice cakes need to be soaked in cold water for about 45 minutes before cooking--its okay to soak them right out of the freezer. These rice cakes in Chinese "brown sauce", should have been stir fried with some sort of vegetable and perhaps some mushrooms. The sauce doesn't seem to need any corn starch for thickening (and it would make them more gluey) because the starch from the rice cakes helps to thicken the sauce.
I choose to make this recipe because I had some paneer in my fridge that was about to expire; I decided to make a tomato based paneer sauce; this recipe appealed to me in particular, because I had all the ingredients at home already. This is a super quick and easy paneer with spicy tomato sauce. I was going to suggest doubling the quantity of sauce next time, but upon checking the recipe, it looks like I accidently used twice as much paneer as I was supposed to. I only used 1/4 cup half and half, instead of the 1 cup suggested (I didn't want to eat a cup of half-and-half by myself!). I also omitted the fresh cilantro since I'm one of those people that don't like cilantro (parsley could be substituted, though I didn't have any on hand). Recipe for "Sanjita's Coorh-Style Cheese in a Sweet Tart Tomato Sauce (Tamatar Paneer)" from "660 Curries" by Raghavan Iyer.
Sunday, January 08, 2012
When I saw this colorful little squash at the farmer's market yesterday, I immediately thought of stuffing it with some sort of rice or quinoa, similar to how red peppers are sometimes stuffed with tomato-y rice. I was hoping for a one pot meal, where the rice was cooked as the squash roasts, however, when I searched the Internet all recipes seemed to roast the squash separately, presumably to caramelize the edges of the squash. Since I love the caramelized bits of the squash (and don't like mushy squash), I conceded, and prepared roasted squash and a rice salad separately, and then spooned the rice into the cavity. I ended up deciding on a wild rice salad, with a oil and vinegar dressing, tossed with things that I already had in my cupboard. To make it easier, I roasted the shallots, garlic, and chili pepper for the rice salad with the squash.
Prepare the roasted winter squash and the wild rice salad. Spoon the wild rice into the cavity of the squash. You can either serve this at room temperature (delicious!) or roast it in the oven for a few minutes until everything is heated through.
The inspirations for this recipe came from: here and here.
Note: For my first attempt making this rice salad, I used a mix of wild rice and Japanese white rice. This was a disaster! The wild rice was nice, crunchy, and the individual grains were separated, however the white rice disintegrated and became starchy, indistinct grains, gluey, similar to congee. Fail! The cooked rice grains for this salad should be distinct and separated; there shouldn't be any liquid left. Asian white rice does not work in this recipe; maybe brown rice would, though I don't have any in my kitchen at the moment. So, I used that instead to make a soup, and then restarted with just wild rice.
I wanted the wild rice to be dressed with olive oil and vinegar, and to have some sort of roasted nuts, and some focused flavorings (i.e. just roasted veggies, and nuts, but no herbs, paprika, or other spices that I usually add to everything). Once I tossed the salad, I decided it needed some color and sweetness, so I added the sun dried tomatoes (mine are actually dehydrated early girl tomatoes from the farmer's market).
1/3 cup wild rice
1 cup water
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1 roasted shallot
1 roasted serrano pepper
a few cloves of roasted garlic
1 few sun dried tomatoes, soaked in a very small amount of water for about 5 minutes to soften
(roasted veggies were made with this recipe)
Add 1/3 cup wild rice and 1 cup water to pan (approximate a rice to water ratio of 1:3). Bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low, cover, and keep at a simmer for about 50 minutes or until the wild rice is cooked. The rice is cooked when the grains start to split. If there is too much water left, then you can either strain the water out or turn up the heat to evaporate it. Let the wild rice cool to room temperature.
Chop the roasted shallots into quarters, and separate some of the layers. Lightly chop the roasted garlic and the sun dried tomatoes. Mince the roasted serrano pepper.
Add 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp sherry vinegar, roasted shallots, roasted serrano pepper, roasted garlic, roasted cashews, water that the sun-dried tomatoes were soaked in, and salt to the cooked rice. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve at room temperature.
1 small squash
1 garlic head
1 serrano pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Slice a small winter squash in half. Peel the shallots, leaving root ends intact; if they are large separate into lobs. Leave the skin on the garlic, and leave it whole (if possible); you can use skin covered garlic cloves but you'll need to watch them since they will cook faster (about 20-25 minutes).
Place the squash, shallots, garlic, and serrano pepper in a cast iron skillet( or heavy baking pan) with some olive oil, curry powder, and the leaves from 1 branch rosemary, and some salt. Toss, making sure to either rub or sprinkle olive oil and spices on to the squash halves. Place the squash cut side up. Put the pan in the oven.
If you are using separated garlic cloves watch them carefully; they should become soft, spreadable, and caramelized but not become burnt, black, dried out, and crispy. Remove the pan from the oven when the serrano pepper, garlic and shallots are caramelized (about 30 minutes), remove the serrano pepper, garlic and shallots from the pan and set aside.
Turn the cut side of the squash down, onto the pan; the most browning on the cut sides will occur when it is touching the pan. Return the squash to the oven and continue roasting until the squash is soft, and the cut sides are browned (about 25 minutes).
Remove from oven. The squash may need an additional little sprinkle of salt. Serve hot, room temperature, or cold.