Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fresh Beans and Kale

If you see fresh shelling beans at the market, buy them. If you've never had them-- even if you don't like "normal" (dry) beans-- buy them anyway. I'm not really a bean fan, but these are fantastic. Their flavor is bright and they're creamy inside. They're good hot or cold. And you can have a shelling party with your friends to make the busy work go faster.

You'll need (I really didn't measure here, sorry):

beans (I used cannellini)
1 onion
4 anchovies (omit for vegetarian version)
1t tomato paste
chicken or veggie broth
1/2 bunch of kale
good olive oil

First, shell the beans...

Then chop your onion and saute it in a large heavy pan with the anchovies and tomato paste for about 10 minutes over medium heat. Add the beans and broth; they should be well submerged. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cover. Mine had to cook for about an hour, at which point the liquid had conveniently been absorbed and the beans were still slightly firm but creamy inside. At this point, chop the kale roughly and add it to the pan. Let cook until kale wilts, about 2 minutes, uncovered. Remove from heat and drizzle with some fantastic olive oil. Serve!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Roasted Monkfish

This was inspired by a recent Bittman post, though I've been wanting to make monkfish for some time. Often called the poor man's lobster, it's a firm white fish with a delicate flavor that stands up well to sauces. My mom poaches monkfish in a vegetable mirepoix that's then pureed into a thick carroty bed for monkfish fillets. Fillets are hard to find; here I use tails, which are easier to find and very easy to work with.

You'll need (serves 2):

1 monkfish tail, bone-in
salt, pepper
Aleppo pepper (you can use sweet paprika if you can't find Aleppo pepper)
good olive oil

Preheat the oven to 475. Rub the monkfish with salt, pepper and Aleppo pepper. Coat with olive oil. Pour a little oil into a baking dish and heat it in the oven. When the oil is hot, add the monkfish. Cook about 15 minutes, until warm in the center (use a skewer to test it).

we ate the fish with beans & kale

Monday, October 27, 2008

Kaffir Lime Green Beans

This is a simple and unusual way to make green beans. It takes about 5 minutes.

Heat 1T oil in a non-stick pan. Add 1T lemongrass (paste or chopped fresh) and 3 dried chilies. Stir to combine. Add green beans and cook about 2 minutes, stirring to cook evenly. Turn off heat and stir in kaffir lime zest*. Serve.

*If you can't find kaffir limes, which look like tiny, bumpy, wrinkled limes, use kaffir lime leaves (easier to find year-round) cut into a very fine chiffonade and add them with the lemongrass and chilies.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Chicken with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

This entire dish comes together in thirty minutes but it's decadent and guest-worthy. It also features very few ingredients.

You'll need (serves 4):

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
5 shallots
8oz crimini mushrooms (about 2c)
1/2 vermouth
1c heavy whipping cream
2T olive oil

Preheat oven to its lowest possible temperature.

Mince shallots; set aside. Mince mushrooms (or chop coarsely, if you want a more prominent mushroom-ness to the dish) and set aside.

Slice each chicken breast in half to make 2 even-ish cutlets that are thinner than the original breast (so you'll be slicing them horizontally, if that makes sense). Place cutlets between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound so they're all of even thickness-- they should be about 1/2 inch thick at most. You can pound with a meat mallet or use the bottom of a heavy pan.

Heat olive oil in a heavy, wide skillet.  Salt and pepper the chicken cutlets and brown them in batches, being careful not to crowd the skillet. Once you lay the chicken down, don't move it or you won't achieve good browning. Flip chicken when one side is light golden and do the other side too. Place browned cutlets on a plate; when they're all cooked, put the plate in the oven to keep the chicken warm.

There should be a bit of oil left in the skillet; add the shallots and stir until the shallots turn golden. Add the mushrooms and cook until dark and liquid is released and evaporated, about 7 minutes. Add vermouth and reduce by half. Add cream and let boil over medium heat until reduced and thick. When it's as thick as you want it, put the chicken in the sauce and serve. We ate this with red-brown rice, and green beans which will be featured in a post soon.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Caramelized Garlic Pasta

This has to be one of the easiest, cheapest, tastiest things I've ever had. (Ok, some of you know I am prone to exaggeration. But still. Try it yourself.)  All the ingredients are things you probably have on hand, except for the arugula, which you can omit without losing the main flavor of this dish, which is the garlic.

You'll need (per person):

cooked pasta (you can use leftover pasta)
scant 1/4c olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced (do not use a garlic press)
4 anchovies, chopped
red pepper flakes to taste
1t tomato paste (optional)
fresh breadcrumbs from 1 slice bread
large handful of arugula

In a large skillet (non-stick is fine here), add olive oil, garlic, anchovies, tomato paste and red pepper. Heat over low heat, stirring, until garlic turns pale golden, about 5 minutes (be careful not to let the garlic brown). Add breadcrumbs and stir to combine; add pasta and toss to coat.

Now turn off the heat and add arugula. Stir gently until leaves barely wilt. Serve!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bechamel Baked Ziti

I've been a lazy blogger and cook lately. This is a lazy dish that can be put together while you're working at home, and can serve at least 8 people (or cut the recipe in half). I served this with a watermelon, feta & mint salad as the appetizer, and followed it with a simple arugula salad.

You'll need (serves 8-10):

1 1/2 packages ziti pasta
2lbs spicy Italian bulk sausage (I used Molinari)
5 shallots, thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
red chile flakes
3T tomato paste
28oz can of plum tomatoes
10 roma tomatoes (this is optional, but oh so good)
1c dry red wine
1 bunch basil

1/3c butter
1/3c flour
3c milk

1 1/2c grated mozzarella cheese
1/2c grated cheddar
1c grated parmesan/romano blend

Halve tomatoes and roasted, seasoned, in a 400 degree oven. Let cool slightly; remove skin.

Brown sausage, pouring out fat as it accumlates. Deglaze pan with wine and cook until liquid is absorbed. Remove sausage from pan. Add olive oil or reserved fat. Fry shallots, garlic and chile flakes, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Return sausage to pan. Make a well in the middle; add tomato paste and saute until it browns slightly. Stir to combine with sausage.

Add canned and roasted tomatoes. Julienne basil and add half to the pan. Cook over low heat until sauce is thick and flavorful, about 1 hour. You probably don't want to add salt because sausage tends to be salty, but add pepper to taste.

In the meantime, cook the pasta. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mornay (Bechamel+cheese) sauce: Melt butter in a saucepan and whisk in flour. Cook, whisking, over medium heat until golden brown. Add milk slowly and cook until thick, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in mozzarella and cheddar and half the parmesan. Combine 2/3 of this sauce with the finished meat sauce. Stir the rest of the parmesan into the remaining sauce and reserve.

Mix cooked pasta with the mornay/meat sauce. Pour into buttered gratin dish. Top with reserved mornay sauce.

Bake until set and top is golden, about 30 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. (This looks rather gooey and unphotogenic when hot, so the pictures are of cold leftovers.)

Friday, October 03, 2008

A Shabbat Feast

This feast, generously subsidized by Birthright, was a wonderful opportunity to make something I normally cannot afford: veal shoulder. This beautiful five pound roast is stuffed with herbs and garlic, rolled in porcini dust, and cooked slowly in my homemade chicken stock, red wine, and tomato paste, with some marrow-filled veal bones tossed in to beef up the sauce.

the herb & garlic stuffing

the bones & the roast

adding liquids

After cooking, you refrigerate the roast overnight, scrape off all the fat, carve the meat and reduce the sauce, sneaking a bite of marrow on toast as you remove the bones. I adapted my recipe from Epicurious's, adjusting things like the balsamic and porcini (I added more).

I served this with a barley and roasted vegetable pilaf-- I roasted the butternut squash and parsnips with balsamic vinegar and fresh thyme, separately so each cube would get creamy on the inside and caramelized on the outside...

combined in one pan for easy cooling

...then tossed them with the cooled cooked barley, reheated the pot, and added lemon zest, toasted almonds and mint.

As an appetizer, I made a salad of arugula, julienned apple & celeriac (celery root) soaked in lemon juice & olive oil, smoked trout, warm goat cheese and spicy-sweet walnuts with a dill-pomegranate (thanks Maia!) cream dressing.

J, of the Green Kitchen next door, made dessert: dried cherries soaked in reduced sour cherry juice, served over Haagen Daaz vanilla ice cream with Chessman cookies.

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