Thursday, August 28, 2008

Spicy Shrimp Curry

This is very easy to throw together, and you can add any veggies you have around. You can, of course, adjust the spices. Be sure to only add the shrimp at the very end so it doesn't overcook, and if you reheat the leftovers, don't heat the shrimp (heat everything else and stir in the shrimp at the end; it'll warm through).

You'll need (serves 3-4):

1lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 can light coconut milk
1T tamarind paste
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 heaping tablespoon curry paste (I used panang)
1 3-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
5 large cloves garlic, peeled, crushed and sliced
2 serrano chilies, sliced lengthwise
1T lemongrass (chopped in a food processor)
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
2 carrots, sliced
1/2T cumin, 1T coriander, 1/2T turmeric
to garnish: chopped mint, chopped thai chilies, crushed peanuts, fish sauce

Saute onion until golden brown. Add curry paste and stir to coat onion; continue cooking about 5 minutes.

Add garlic, ginger, lemongrass and serrano chilies. Stir, being careful not to burn, until garlic is fragrant and chilies are soft.

Add cumin, coriander and turmeric. Add tamarind paste. Add coconut milk and bring to a boil. Lower to barely a simmer and let cook while you devein the shrimp.

If the shrimp are deveined, let the curry cook about 30 minutes, until thick and flavorful.

Add broccoli and carrots and cook about 5 minutes, covered if necessary, until broccoli is just done. Add shrimp, cook 1 minute until just opaque, and turn off heat. Stir and let sit 1 more minute; shrimp should then be perfectly cooked.

Add fish sauce to taste. Serve with more fish sauce, peanuts, mint and red chilies.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Super BLTs with Watermelon Salad

These BLTs are super not just because of the ingredients-- Fatted Calf bacon, heirloom tomatoes, and wild arugula-- but because the olive bread is fried in bacon fat, and gets all toasty and crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. This sandwich was really unspeakably delicious. The watermelon salad is a nice bright counterpart to the rich sandwich. This would make a great brunch-- the salad's easy to make a lot of, and you can just set out the sandwich ingredients for people to make them themselves. We made open-faced sandwiches to get the most stuff-to-bread ratio but you can arrange yours however you want.

Super BLTs

You'll need (4 servings):

1 long loaf olive bread or baguette, cut into four 6-inch pieces, then sliced lengthwise
8-16 slices thick cut bacon
3-4 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
2 handfuls wild arugula (the tiny leafy kind)

for the aioli:
1 egg yolk
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 garlic clove
1t mustard
1/4c canola oil

Place bacon in a cold cast iron skillet and gently heat to medium. Cook, turning often to cook evenly. You'll probably have to do this in batches. You can drain the bacon grease but don't drain the fat from the last batch, or save the grease in a glass jar.

In the meantime, make the aioli. Beat egg yolk with lemon juice, pressed garlic, salt and mustard. Whisk in oil very slowly until you achieve a mayonnaise-like consistency.

When the bacon's done, drain it on paper towels. Raise the heat and fry the bread in the bacon fat, cut side down, until golden; flip and fry a bit on the other side too.

Stack ingredients on the bread in any way you'd like, but if you're making open-faced sandwiches, don't put the arugula on top or it will fall off.

Katie put her bacon on top

Watermelon Salad

This may sound weird but it's a really good combination. Watermelon and feta is a common pairing in Israel; it's tasty and refreshing. We used a yellow watermelon, which was beautiful and unusual. Just cut up a watermelon into cubes and toss it with crumbled feta and chopped mint. Leftovers will last in the fridge for a day or two.

Figs with Cheese

We were supposed to caramelize them but couldn't handle it after eating all that bacon, so we just ate them halved with a bit of mild, milky cheese.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Farmers' Market Skillet Casserole

This dish was born when I went, rather uninspired, to the farmers' market today and fell in love (as usual) with the tomatoes and (rather unusually) with the ground beef at Highland Farms. Then I picked up a beautiful bunch of basil to go with the tomatoes, and stopped at the cheese guys, who gave me a free container of spicy curds to replace the one I bought that went moldy in a few days. I came home to an ear of corn that needed eating. And that is how all these unlikely ingredients combined to produce a seriously good dish. Ooo-- added bonus-- prep took exactly 15 minutes. Cooking took another 20 or so, and the whole meal uses only one pot, making this a perfect weekday throw-together meal.

You'll need:

1 lb ground beef
kernels from 1 ear corn
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb assorted heirloom tomatoes, thickly sliced
1c cheese curds or grated cheese
1/4c fresh bread crumbs
1/4c grated parmesan
1/4c basil, chopped
1T red pepper flakes
1T cayenne
1T olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat olive oil in an oven-proof skillet (cast iron would be a great choice here). Saute onion and garlic, stirring, until onion is golden. Add corn and saute another 5 minutes. Add ground beef, breaking up with a wooden spatula, until brown. Add red pepper and cayenne. Season to taste with salt and pepper, but remember that the cheese will add salt.

Top ground beef with cheese. Lay tomato slices on top. Sprinkle bread crumbs and parmesan. Bake until bubbly, about 15 minutes, then put under the broiler briefly to brown.

we also had this surprisingly delicious wine

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tomato Garlic Chicken with Fried Eggplant

Perhaps this was inspired by an old recipe I just posted, or by the bowl of cherry tomatoes going soft on my counter, but it was really quite delicious and summery. You can omit the eggplant if you're eggplant-phobic or something.

You'll need (serves 4):

8 chicken thighs, bone-in (remove skin & fat)
1/2c flour
2T aleppo pepper (or paprika, if you can't find aleppo, but it's not the same)
2c cherry tomatoes, halved, and some other tomatoes too if you want
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 Thai chilies
1c basil, in chiffonade
2 small Italian eggplants, or 1 medium globe eggplant, cubed
grapeseed or canola oil
olive oil

Salt and pepper chicken and sprinkle with aleppo pepper. Toss in flour, shaking off extra flour but reserving it. Heat 1T grapeseed + 1T olive oil in a heavy skillet big enough for all the chicken and place chicken former-skin-side down, in one layer, when the oil is hot. Let brown over medium-high heat-- this should take a good 15 minutes. You want a nice dark golden crust. Then turn the chicken over and cook on the other side for a few minutes. Be sure not to let the oil or chicken burn-- if the pan looks dry, add oil.

When the chicken's done remove it to a plate. Turn down heat to medium and add tomatoes and garlic, stirring to absorb fond. Add the chilies. The tomatoes will quickly release their liquid; cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens.

Then return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan, nestling each piece into the sauce. Cook, uncovered, about 45 minutes, until the sauce is thick and the chicken is cooked through.

Turn off heat and stir in basil.

While the chicken is cooking, heat 2T grapeseed oil in a heavy pan (cast iron is great here) over medium heat. Toss the eggplant cubes in the leftover seasoned flour and then fry them until crispy on all sides and squishy in the middle, stirring occasionally and adding salt to taste (salt is important here).

Serve the chicken alongside brown rice, topped with fried eggplant.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Chicken with Cherry Tomatoes, Olives and Capers

This is super easy, rather healthy (bar some debate about dark vs white meat), and really very delicious. It was a treat for me because I don't often get to cook with olives and capers, since J doesn't like them. I would normally do this all in one large skillet on the stove, but all we had was a 10 inch frying pan and a baking dish, so we started this on the stove and finished it in the oven.

You'll need (serves 4):

8 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin & fat removed
1/2c flour
2 large onions, minced
1 head garlic, sliced
1 large container (about 1 1/2c) cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/4c capers
1c mixed olives, pitted (don't buy pre-pitted; they have no flavor. do it yourself with a sharp knife)
1c vermouth
1/2-1c chicken stock

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (or do it all on the stove).

Season chicken with salt and pepper and toss in flour to coat. Brown well, about 5 min/side, in hot oil. Remove from skillet and place in baking dish. Wipe skillet clean if there are burned bits.

Add a little oil. Add minced garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-high heat, until golden. Add garlic, cook 5 minutes more. Add cherry tomatoes, capers and olives. Stir to combine and cook 2 minutes. Add vermouth and let boil away about 4 minutes, until you can't smell the alcohol anymore.

Pour tomato mixture over chicken. Add stock if necessary to come halfway up chicken. Cover tightly with foil (or put a lid on your pan, if you're doing it on the stove). Bake about 30 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and sauce is thickened. Serve with rice.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Salmon with Sorrel Sauce

Sorrel is another amazing summer treat. It tastes like sourgrass when it's raw (I know I wasn't the only kid to eat fields of sourgrass in preschool...), but becomes citrusy and refreshing when cooked. Be sure to serve the sauce immediately, or the sorrel will wilt into nothingness. I think this sauce goes particularly well with salmon, but it'd be great on scallops too, or on anything that goes well with lemon butter. Any pilaf-like grain would go well here; I served this with mushroom rice.

You'll need (serves 2):

1lb salmon-- 2 center-cut filets, skin-on, pin bones removed with tweezers
1T olive oil

8-10 large sorrel leaves
1 large shallot
1/2c vermouth or dry white wine
2T butter
2T cream (optional-- I decided to make this a cream sauce but you can leave it as a butter sauce by doubling the butter and omitting the cream)

Place baking dish in oven and preheat oven to 500. When oven is hot, rub salmon with olive oil, salt and pepper. Remove baking dish and place salmon skin side down (it should sizzle). Decrease oven temp to 275 and return salmon to oven. It will need about 10 minutes to cook; in the meantime, make the sauce.

Mince shallot and place in dry pan over medium heat. Do not use a non-stick pan. Stir. When shallots turn golden, add wine or vermouth and boil until there is only 2T liquid left.

In the meantime, remove stems from sorrel and cut into a chiffonade.

Whisk butter and cream into reduced sauce. Whisk in sorrel until it wilts and turns a dull green. Serve immediately over salmon.

Corn Soup

This soup really highlights one of the best foods of summer-- corn. I used sweet white corn and very few other ingredients. The corn has a sweetness and complexity of its own. If you want a corn chowder with tomatoes and other chunkiness, this soup is not for you. The only thing I'd recommend adding to complement the velvety corn is perhaps some dungeness crab as a garnish. This was unfortunately outside of my post-travel budget, but the soup was delicious as is.

You'll need (makes at least 4 servings, as a first course):

3 large ears of corn
4c chicken (or veggie) broth
2c water
1 onion
salt & pepper
2T heavy cream
2T butter
a bit of basil chiffonade for garnish, optional

Chop onion. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat and add onion and salt.

While onion is cooking, clean corn. Break ears in half and stand one half on cutting board, cut side down. Using a sharp chef's knife angled towards the corn, slice the kernels off, being careful they don't scatter all over your kitchen (if you have a bundt pan, use the middle hole to support the corn and the kernels will fall into the "moat"). Do this for all the corn, reserving the cobs. As you cut off the corn, add it to the onions.

Pour chicken broth into a small saucepan. Add the cornless cobs. Cover. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat and let steep.

Cook onions and corn over medium heat, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes, until corn is golden brown and sticks slightly to the bottom of the pan. Add broth with cobs and 2c water. Bring to a boil; lower to a simmer and cook, partially covered, about 20 minutes, until corn is tender.

Remove cobs, draining carefully, and discard. Ladle soup into a blender and puree in batched-- be very careful when blending hot liquids, as they expand (never fill blender more than halfway).

Return pureed soup to pot. Stir in cream. Thin out if necessary with milk or water. Serve garnished with basil leaves.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Breakfast Panzanella

I'm finally back from my travels (which were, for the most part, delicious) and back to the kitchen. Yesterday I bought such beautiful tomatoes that I just couldn't wait til tonight to cook them (and last night I went to Frugal Foodies), so I decided to make panzanella for breakfast this morning. Panzanella is basically a bread and tomato salad. The key is grilling your bread-- don't just toast it or you'll miss out on the smokey flavor that contrasts perfectly with the sweetness of the cherry tomatoes. If you want to make this more of a brunch dish, use two eggs per person.

You'll need (serves one):

1 egg
1t vinegar for poaching (I use rice wine vinegar)

one thick slice of day-old (or older) bread (I used walnut bread. Yum!)
a handful of cherry tomatoes
1/2 avocado
a small handful of basil leaves

olive oil
balsamic vinegar

Heat water with vinegar for poaching.

Heat a griddle pan. Brush the bread with olive oil. Grill until just golden.

In the meantime, halve the cherry tomatoes. Cube the avocado. Chiffonade the basil leaves. Toss it all together with salt and pepper.

When bread is just golden, cut into large cubes and return to griddle, adding more olive oil if necessary. When bread is done, toss with tomato mixture.

Poach egg. Place egg on top of panzanella. Drizzle salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

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