Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sausage and Broccoli Rabe Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is really very cool, and a nice lighter, healthier alternative to pasta. Of course, it doesn't taste like pasta-- in fact, it doesn't taste like much at all-- so whatever you put on it is going to stand out. I chose a combination of sweet, bitter, and spicy here-- using Aidell's Apricot-Ginger sausage, broccoli rabe, and hot peppers.

You'll need (serves 2-3):

1 spaghetti squash
1 long sausage (like Aidell's apricot-ginger) or 2 normal sweet italians
1 bunch broccoli rabe (this bears very little resemblance to broccoli. You can substitute any cooking green.)
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1T cayenne
1T crushed red pepper
1/2c red wine or Madiera
4 anchovies
1T tomato paste
1c baby roma or other grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
2T grapeseed oil
grated pecorino to top

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Poke holes in squash with a skewer or knife and place whole squash in baking dish with some water. Bake about 1 hour until soft. Cut in half to open. Scoop out seeds. Using a fork, pick out the flesh (it should magically turn to long pasta-like strands) and place in bowl. Set aside. (You can do this in advance, which would make this a good weeknight dish.)

Blanch broccoli rabe in salted water to remove some bitterness, if you want.

Slice sausage (you want meaty slices-- about 1/4-1/2"). Heat oil until almost smoking in a not-nonstick pan. Add sausage and cook until brown. Scoop out with a slotted spoon or spatula and set aside.

Add sliced onion to oil in pan. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, until fond (browned bits from the sausage) is absorbed by the onions. Add anchovies, cayenne, red pepper, salt and pepper. Stir to combine and cook 2 minutes. Add tomato paste; let brown before stirring in. Add garlic and broccoli rabe; cook 2 minutes. Add reserved sausage and wine. Stir, scraping anything stuck on the bottom of the pan. Add tomatoes. Bring to a boil and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed and tomatoes are soft, about 5 minutes.

Add squash and stir to combine. If there's still liquid in the pan, continue cooking until all liquid is absorbed. Serve topped with lots of grated pecorino.

Hunkar Begendi (Sultan's Delight) Turkish Lamb Stew with Creamy Eggplant Sauce

This is Claudia Roden's recipe; it's a basic lamb stew, with onion, garlic, and tomatoes, served over butter-toasted rice and surrounded by an eggplant bechamel. The sauce is so good that you can serve it with any stew. It's rich, creamy, and mild-flavored, so it won't interfere with the main dish. It would probably be good over pasta with some more pepper and cheese. Here's the sauce recipe (we changed it, just a little, from Roden's):

You'll need:

3lbs eggplants
juice of 1/2 lemon
4T butter
3T flour
2c milk
salt, pepper
1/4t freshly grated nutmeg
1/2c grated kasseri or asiago cheese

Prick the eggplants all over with a sharp pointed knife so they don't explode all over your oven. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil. Place the eggplants on the foil and bake until very soft, turning halfway through, about 30 minutes. Remove and carefully lift off the skin. It should come off very easily (if it doesn't, the eggplants aren't done). Put the flesh in a bowl of water and lemon to preserve the color while you work. Then put the eggplant in a strainer and press out as much liquid as possible. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and whisk constantly, 2 minutes. Add the milk in a stream, whisking. Bring to a boil; the mixture should be thick. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add eggplant and puree with a hand blender if you have one (this isn't necessary, but makes for a much smoother sauce). Add the cheese and stir to melt. Taste; add salt and pepper as necessary.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Be sure to check out the new pictures posted (especially) here... and also here and here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Boeuf Bourguignon with Carrot Crisps and Red Potatoes

NB: These pictures are terrible. I know that. I almost forgot to take pictures at all. I promise to work on my fuzziness...

This recipe is partially my dad's (it was the first thing he cooked for my mom, so it must be pretty good) and partially Julia Child's, because I just got my hands on Mastering the Art of French Cooking. My version has lots of onion and mushroom stewed down to a melty sauce, with the carrots baked on the side (instead of in the stew) for some texture.

You'll need (serves 6):

3lbs beef stewing meat
6 oz bacon (4 thick slices)
5 onions, thinly sliced
1lb button mushrooms, sliced
some flour
some oil
1 bottle red wine
maybe some beef stock, probably not
1T tomato paste
1t fresh thyme
2 crumbled bay leaves (yes, crumbled)
4 cloves garlic, minced to a paste

small red potatoes

This is very easy but a bit time consuming. Prep will take 1-2 hours; unattended cooking, about 3 hours. It's also best to make the night before-- the flavors really develop overnight.

Step One: The bacon

Slice bacon into lardons-- thin (1/4") strips, cut the short way.
Put bacon in 1 1/2 quarts water and bring to a simmer. Simmer 10 minutes.
Drain and dry bacon. Heat a Dutch oven (or any heavy, large pot with a close-fitting lid) and saute bacon in 1T oil over medium heat until it browns and fat is rendered.
Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside

Step Two: Brown the meat

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Rinse meat and dry very well. Salt, pepper, and dredge in flour (shake off excess flour).
Heat rendered fat until very hot. Brown meat on all sides in batches (Do not crowd the pot, or the meat will not brown. It will steam and turn a nasty shade of gray and remind you of mystery meat served in a cafeteria you never even had.). If necessary, add more oil.
Set browned meat aside, with the bacon.

Step Three: Brown the veggies

In the fat left in the pot (add more oil if necessary), saute onions with a good pinch of salt. Turn down the heat to medium-low so that the onions release their moisture and become coated in the fond (browned bits). When there's no more moisture (and the onions are caramel colored), add the mushrooms and saute until dark, about 10 minutes. The mushrooms should release moisture as well, so you shouldn't have to add any oil. Adding salt will coax the water out.

Step Four: The wine

Put the bacon and meat back into the pot and stir. Add salt, pepper, and 2T flour. Mix and place in oven, uncovered, 4 minutes. Mix again and return to oven, 4 minutes. Remove.
Lower oven temp to 325 degrees.
Return pot to stove; pour in 1 bottle wine. If this doesn't cover the meat, add beef stock until meat is almost submerged. Add tomato paste, thyme, garlic, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil; simmer until alcohol evaporates, about 5 minutes.

Step Five: Cook

Place covered pot in 325 degree oven. If the lid isn't a good fit, place a sheet of aluminum foil into between pot & lid. Cook (check every so often to make sure it's simmering gently) until meat is fork-tender, about 3 hours. About 30 minutes before it's done, mix in the potatoes (which you've scrubbed and cleaned, of course) and let them cook with the stew. Don't overcook them-- the cool thing here is the textural and visual contrast between the firm potatoes that remain white inside and the gooey unctuous brown meat and sauce.

Step Six: Eat!

This is best done the next day but is fine anytime. Mmmmmm.

Oven Caramelized Carrots

Peel carrots if they're not organic. Quarter lengthwise and toss in a bowl with 2T olive oil, 1t coarse salt, 1T pepper, 1t sugar, 1T fresh chopped thyme to coat. Bake on a baking sheet, in one layer, at 425 degrees until brown and caramelized, about 30 minutes.

Cabbage Salad

Thinly slice (julienne) savoy cabbage, savoy lettuce (the purple stuff), a bell pepper, a carrot, fresh mint, and anything else that's tasty and crunchy and colorful. Dress with a vinaigrette of 3T fresh lemon juice (one large juicy lemon), 2T dijon mustard, and enough olive oil to emulsify. Let sit, dressed, at least 1 hour until cabbage wilts slightly and flavor develops.

Aged Hanger Steak with Shallot Pan Sauce

Thanks to my friend Suzanne, I've recently discovered that Verbrugge's sells aged steaks at a discount. I got an aged hanger steak (onglet) for $2. Amazing.

You'll need:

a hanger steak, cut into 2-3" chunks
coarse salt
1T oil (I used grapeseed but olive oil is fine)

1 shallot, thinly sliced
1T butter + potentially 1T

Heat oil in a heavy oven-proof skillet (cast iron is a great choice) over medium-high heat. Rinse and dry steaks well; salt and pepper generously. When oil is hot, brown steaks, about 3 minutes per side-- 6 minutes total for medium-rare. Remove and set aside.

If there's still fat in the pan, add shallots; if not, add 1T butter. When butter is hot, add shallots and saute over medium heat, stirring to absorb browned bits from the steak. When shallots are brown and wilted, turn off heat and stir in 1T butter. Pour onto steaks and enjoy.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Ben's Vegetarian Dinner

This is for (and was enjoyed with) my friend Ben, who has been a vegetarian 13 years and counting. Also Aaron & Colin, new vegetarians. I could never be one, but I think it's great that you are.

Zucchini Frittata

This is unlike any frittata you've ever had-- it bears no resemblance to an omelet, and you can hardly tell it has any eggs (it only has 2).

You'll need:

a bunch of zucchinis, grated-- I used about 6 small roundish ones with pale green skin. Don't peel them.
a bunch of cheese
2 eggs
about 1/4c breadcrumbs
1t cayenne pepper
salt & pepper to taste

Lila inspecting the frittata mixture

Squeeze water out of zucchini. Mix all ingredients together and season to taste. Spread onto greased gratin dish and bake at 350 degrees until set and golden brown on top, about 30-45 minutes.

Parsnip & Carrot Puree

This is really a parsnip dish; we added the carrots for color. Parsnips are a delicious, underappreciated vegetable. They're easy to cook, taste great, and are probably good for you (they are, after all, a vegetable). Steam them to retain the best flavor & vitamins.

You'll need:

a bunch of parsnips, peeled and cut into pieces (If they're more than an inch wide, remove the core)
1 carrot
1/4c cream (optional)
s & p

Steam the vegetables about 15 minutes; you should be able to stick a small sharp knife through the pieces once they're done. Puree with 1/4-1/2c of the cooking water and some cream. Season to taste.

Brown Rice Revitalized--or,
what to do with leftover rice

You'll need:

leftover rice (cooked)
1T olive oil
1 large shallot, slice thinly
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4c slivered almonds
1/4c Madeira wine

Heat oil; saute shallot and garlic until translucent, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add almonds and cook, stirring occasionally, to toast. Deglaze saucepan with wine; add cooked rice and stir to coat. Add a little water (I actually added some leftover roasted red pepper-feta-walnut dip mixed with some water) and cover. Cook over low heat until warmed through.

Ben's Almond Pralines

You'll need:

1c slivered almonds
1/4c maple syrup

Bring syrup to a boil in a small saucepan. Boil 1 minute. Add almonds and cook, stirring constantly, until syrup is totally absorbed and pot is dry, at least 5 minutes. Toss onto wax paper. Eat. They're really, really good.

Maple-coated almonds on wax paper

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Duck Confit with Caramelized Onions and Cabbage

I wouldn't recommend buying much food at Costco (or much of anything, in fact, since I do advocate supporting your local grocery). They have some good cheeses (their Manchego is particularly delicious), but who needs that kind of quantity? The only thing I use regularly is the tall plastic sea salt grinder they sell for $3-4. But recently it was brought to my attention that they have started to carry Grimaud Farms duck confit-- two legs, ready to heat and eat, for only $7. That, my friends, is reason alone to go to Costco.

Duck confit is normally served with roasted potatoes (roasted in duck fat!) or in cassoulet. Here, I serve it with a cabbage-onion hash, which has a nice crunch to match the crispy duck skin and offsets the richness of the duck.

You'll need (serves 2):

1 package duck confit (2 legs)
5 savoy cabbage leaves, washed and sliced thinly-- the easiest way to do this is to stack the leaves, fold them lengthwise, then slice
1 onion, sliced
1T grapeseed or canola oil
1t red wine vinegar
chopped herbs optional-- I used tarragon & thyme because they were going bad in the fridge

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat oil in a cast iron skillet. Add onions and a good pinch of salt; saute over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add cabbage, salt and pepper; drizzle with red wine vinegar. Saute until cabbage just wilts, 2-3 minutes. Push onions and cabbage to the side and place legs skin side up in center of skillet.

Cook in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until crispy.

Finish under broiler for maximum crispiness. Remove duck. Toss cabbage with rendered duck fat and fresh chopped herbs, if using. Serve duck on bed of cabbage.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Cajun Chicken Stew with Coconut Rice, Black Beans and Fried Plantains

This was a communal effort, and I was really only responsible for the stew, but I'll detail it all here. Thank you Sasha!

The chicken was based on this recipe.

You'll need:

chicken thighs (2 per person, the quantities below are for 8-12 thighs)-- remove the skin and cut off as much fat as possible with a small sharp knife
1/2c + 1/2c flour
3c chicken broth
2 onions, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 green bell peppers, diced
1 serrano chili, diced
3T + 1/4c veggie oil
1T cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper the thighs and dust them with flour. Heat 3T oil in a heavy large pan (like a dutch oven) and brown the thighs well on both sides. Do it in batches if necessary; don't crowd the pan or the thighs won't brown. Remove them and set aside.

You should have about 1-2T oil left with brown bits floating around. If there are any black bits, remove them. Add more oil to have a total of 1/4c; add flour and scrape to combine with a wooden spatula. Cook over low heat, scraping, about 10 minutes until the roux is the color of milk chocolate.

Add the onions, celery and peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken broth and stir to combine. Let mixture boil (it should be very thick), then lower heat and return chicken to pot. Stir to combine. Cook about 30 minutes, partially covered. Stir in cayenne pepper and serve.

Coconut Rice-- cook rice as you normally would, but with 2/3 coconut milk, 1/3 water. We stirred it a lot and ended up with a creamy, risotto-like texture.

Beans-- Combine canned black beans with chicken broth (1 can to 1/2c broth), 1 bay leaf, and spices (we used a lot of chili-like spices). Cook until broth evaporates. Remove bay leaf and serve.

Plantains-- Slice and saute in hot butter until golden brown and crispy.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Middle Eastern Meatball and Garbanzo Bean Stew

This isn't really "Middle Eastern", but the combination of spices is one common to dishes from that part of the world (at least the ones I'm familiar with). It's another leftover recipes, in honor of Maria's comment on my Updates post.

I had leftover lamb meatballs, made with ground lamb and lots of spices (similar to the lamb meatball recipes elsewhere on this site). You could make meatballs from scratch for this, but you can easily throw in anything you have lying around-- veggie meatballs, ground meat, sausage, chicken, whatever.

Besides the meat, you'll need:

1 can peeled tomatoes in juice
1 onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
2T tomato paste
2T olive oil
2T cumin
2T coriander
1t cayenne
1t red pepper flakes
1t cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1/4c red wine (or whatever you have-- vermouth, broth, anything)
1 can garbanzo beans
1/2c yogurt
2 green onions, chopped

Heat the olive oil and add onion, garlic, and salt. Saute over medium heat until onions begin to brown. [If you're using raw ground meat, add it now.]

Add spices and stir to combine, 2 minutes (you might need to add oil if the pan's totally dry. It's ok if the spices stick, though, that's the idea).

Add tomato paste and cook until it begins to brown; then stir it all together and deglaze with the wine, scraping up browned bits and spices.

Add tomatoes and their juice and break them up with a wooden spatula. Add garbanzo beans. Bring to a boil, stirring, then cover and let simmer until beans soften, about 15 minutes.

Add cooked meatballs and cook 15 minutes more, until flavors develop.

Serve with couscous, yogurt, and chopped green onions.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Pomegranate Salmon with Walnut Pilaf and Pea Shoots

we ate this too fast-- these were the leftovers

I owe this delicious salmon recipe entirely to Paul Hamburg, Judaica librarian at UC Berkeley (and cook, and pianist). I was staunchly opposed to salmon (my parents always barbecued it, making it taste very fishy and charcoaly, which I understand is a good thing for some people) until I tasted this recipe. It's very easy to make and uses pretty basic ingredients, except the pomegranate juice (and who doesn't want an excuse to go out and buy a bottle of POM?).

Pomegranate Salmon

You'll need (for 4 servings):

1 2lb center-cut filet of salmon, skin, dark flesh, and bones removed (it's easy to remove the bones using tweezers)
** I use Loch Duart, which I buy at Tokyo Fish in Berkeley.

For the basting sauce:

1T dark sesame oil
1T pomegranate juice
1T soy sauce (I use reduced sodium)
1 3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated (use a Microplane if you can)
1t Chinese 5-spice powder
1/2 cayenne (more if you want)
black pepper to taste


1T dark sesame oil
1/4c pomegranate juice
zest from 1 orange
sesame seeds (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all basting ingredients and set aside.

Rub salmon with dark sesame oil and place in a shallow bath of pomegranate juice in a jelly roll pan (a baking dish with sides, or a gratin dish). You might not need the entire 1/4 cup.

Brush the top of the salmon with the basting sauce to cover it. Sprinkle the orange zest on top and sesame seeds too, if you want (they'll look pretty).

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until just opaque in center.

Walnut Pilaf

You'll need:

1 1/2 c brown rice, or really any grain you want
3c chicken stock
1T butter
2T olive oil
1/2c walnuts, roughly chopped
5 sprigs thyme, de-stemmed
1 large shallot, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced

Heat butter and oil; saute shallot and garlic, 5 minutes. Add walnuts; saute 2 minutes. Add rice; stir and cook until each grain is coated and translucent. Add stock. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat 45 minutes, or until tender. Stir in salt, pepper, and thyme to taste. Fluff and serve.

Jesse's Pea Shoots

You'll need:

pea shoots-- a LOT. These really cook down.
2T sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced

Heat sesame oil. Add pea shoots and garlic. Cook, stirring, until wilted. Pea shoots should be tender when cooked.

New Years Day Feast

Nori-wrapped salmon, avocado,
and arugula rolls served with
seaweed salad and pickled ginger

Every New Years Day, my family has a feast. It wasn't always this elaborate. When I was younger, I'd come home in the morning and find my parents drinking champagne and eating caviar in the living room (well, it was late morning). I didn't like caviar, but I liked champagne, so I'd join them. Over the years, as I learned to like caviar, they were forced to add other things to combat my more inclusive appetite. Soon we were eating smoked scallops and creme fraiche; after a few years, we added smoked fish, and after taking a sushi class with my mom, raw fish. There was, of course, cheese as well. Last year I tricked my parents (not really, but they still think I did) into both buying cheese, so we had an endless cheese course (an additional meal of its own). Needless to say, as we added more elaborate foodstuffs, the feast was pushed to later in the day, and became an early dinner.

Tuna Poke with Sesame Seeds

Salmon Rolls on Fennel Salad

Tea Smoked Scallops with
creme fraiche and caviar

Smoked Salmon

Four kinds of Caviar

BBQed Unagi

Smoked Trout with
Egg and Potato Salad

The Purple Kitchen Updates

Since apparently people read this (or at least vote on the sidebar, or make comments to me when you see me, but never on the blog-- why, oh why, won't you comment on the blog?!), I've decided to address my readers in blog-like fashion. This blog started about a year and a half ago when I was out of the country and realized that the little pieces of paper on which I recorded my recipes were very easy to lose, and I needed a more permanent, and portable, way to record them. So I started writing them down online as a personal reference. A few months ago, I realized I'd be a lot better about writing things down if I told people about the blog. A bit too late, it occurred to me that no one was going to read a food blog without pictures. So please excuse the pictures which, as some have pointed out, are a bit fuzzy and never very good (except when others take them).

Some readers have suggested I include more quick, easy, or vegetarian recipes. It didn't actually occur to me that people use my recipes, but I guess you do. I don't really think about them as "vegetarian" or "easy" because they're just what I happen to make myself for dinner (sometimes for lunch or breakfast). But based on the poll I posted a few weeks ago, you are, collectively, interested in more recipes of a certain type. To make things easier, I discovered a new way to organize my posts. Using the sidebar on the left, you can see all posts that are "quick" or "vegetarian" or involve a certain ingredient (like chicken or squash). I hope this helps, and do let me know, if you do use the recipes, how things turn out, or if you have any suggestions.

I've also listed some blogs I read in case you're like me, and love to waste time reading recipes.



Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Years Eve Party

The Spread

Roasted Red Pepper Feta Walnut Dip

White Bean Anchovy Dip

Marinated Fresh Mozzarella,
Cherry Tomatoes and Basil

Salami Olive Rolls

My Mother's Hummus

There were also lamb meatballs, marinated tri-tip, and spinach borekas, but these were unfortunately camera-shy (they came out later in the night, when I had less command of my already-mediocre camera skills).

Happy New Year!

Creamy Spinach-Mushroom Pasta

This is fast, easy, tasty, healthy, etc., and you can throw in any veggies you have lying around. Spinach is one of the few veggies I buy frozen (as well as fresh)-- the others are corn and edamame.

You'll need:
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed and sliced
1T hot pepper flakes
shiitake mushrooms, washed, stemmed, and sliced thickly
frozen spinach-- *douse with boiling water in a colander and squeeze dry
pasta (I used whole wheat)
2T butter
2T flour
1-2 cups milk (I used fat free)
1 oz sharp cheddar + 1/4c grated parmesan (You can use whatever cheese you have around)

Cook pasta.

Saute onion, garlic and mushrooms with salt, pepper, and pepper flakes. When mushrooms begin to brown, add spinach (be sure to thaw and squeeze dry first) and saute until cooked, about 2 minutes. Add cooked pasta.

Make the bechamel: Melt butter in a saucepan and whisk in flour. Cook until it bubbles and begins to brown, then add in milk in a thin stream, whisking as you add. Boil to thicken, then stir in cheeses. When cheese is melted, combine with spinach-mushroom mixture and pasta. Serve with grated parmesan.

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