Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cranberry Beans, Sausage, and Arugula

This is an easy meal with a lot of flavor -- nice meatiness from the sausage, spicy-sweet bite from the peppers and arugula, offset by the creamy cranberry beans. You can eat it like a chili or serve over a grain; we served this over Israeli couscous.

Cook the beans first (we used fresh cranberry beans). In the meantime, brown the sausage; saute onion and garlic, add tomato paste, some cumin and cayenne...

add chopped fresh chilies (we used sweet Jimmy Nardellos and mild habaneros). Add the beans when they're al dente, and cover with chicken broth so the beans cook until creamy and absorb the rest of the flavors.

Just before serving, stir in a few handfuls of baby arugula. Stir just until it wilts. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Gioia Mozzarella

This mozzarella is a revelation. I was never a fan of fresh mozzarella -- I prefer aged, "stinky"cheeses -- but that changed when I first had Burrata, fresh mozzarella with a heavy cream center. However, because of the fresh cream, Burrata has a shelf life of about 48 hours, and is prohibitively expensive. (You can find it featured in our summer feast from a few years ago.) When I discovered Gioia's mozzarella-- not Burrata, but almost as creamy and flavorful-- I ate the entire ball before it made it into the fridge. Then I bought another, and made this salad.

If you live in the LA area, I strongly encourage you to visit Gioia's factory in El Monte. If you live in the Bay Area, Berkeley's Country Cheese on Monterey & Hopkins gets a shipment in every other week.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ocean Perch in Pastis Vegetable Sauce

Any firm white fish would pair beautifully with this intensely flavorful sauce, made of Pastis (Pernod, Ricard, or any anis-flavored liquor), fresh tomatoes, and sliced carrots, and cooked down until thick and substantial. Served with garlic toasts, this makes a healthy and easy one-pot meal. I served a simple gazpacho as a first course; that recipe to come, soon.

You'll need (serves 4):
4 filets of ocean perch or any firm white fish (even filet of sole would work here, since you don't move the fish around while cooking so it probably won't fall apart)
3 medium leeks, chopped (you should have about 1c chopped leeks)
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 head garlic, crushed and sliced
2 jalapenos, chopped
1 dried chile
a mix of heirloom and cherry tomatoes, totalling about 1c, cut into large chunks
3/4c Ricard, Pastis, Pernod, etc.
1-2c chicken broth or water
1/2t saffron threads dissolved in 2T hot water (optional)
2T tomato paste
4 carrots, sliced
1/4c basil
1 loaf bread
good olive oil

Heat olive oil and saute leeks and onions until translucent. Add garlic and jalapenos, saute until garlic is fragrant. Add tomato paste and stir; cook until slightly caramelized. Add Pastis and bring to a boil; boil until reduced by 2/3 and aroma is no longer alcoholic. Add saffron, dried chile, tomatoes and broth. Reduce heat to low and cook until thick, about 30 minutes. Add carrots and cook another 20 minutes.

In the meantime, slice bread and fry slices until golden in olive oil. Salt and set aside.

10 minutes before serving, salt and pepper fish and lay on top of pan. Cover and steam until fish flakes, about 10 minutes. Serve with olive oil toasts.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Za'atar Salmon Cakes

We often buy too much salmon and have just a bit leftover. Unlike other leftovers, which last up to a week, fish should be eaten within 24-48 hours. I usually flake it in a bowl, add an egg and some breadcrumbs, chopped jalapeno and green onion. This time, I added some za'atar and a bit of feta cheese too. The result, served with a bit of leftover homemade salsa and a tomato-feta salad, was delicious.

Shrimp Ceviche with Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho

This is a great meal to make when it's too hot to cook. The shared ingredients in the ceviche and soup bring them together nicely. If you don't want to use the stove at all, you can make the toasts in a toaster, but they're better fried in olive oil. The combination of ceviche, soup, and toasts is surprisingly substantial.

You'll need (serves 2):
for the gazpacho:
2lbs heirloom tomatoes
1 cucumber
2 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno pepper
small handful cilantro
1t worcesterchire sauce
1t red wine vinegar
a few dashes hot sauce
1 lime
for the ceviche:
1/2lb shrimp, preferably fresh
1 avocado
a dozen or so cherry tomatoes
1 jalapeno
small handful cilantro
2 limes
a loaf of bread (we used Rosemary Pugliese)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 olive oil

In a food processor or blender, combine all gazpacho ingredients and blend until smooth. Season generously with salt and pepper. Refrigerate.

Clean shrimp and chop roughly. Place in a small dish and cover with lime juice, salt, pepper and chopped jalapeno. Stir and let sit until shrimp turns opaque. Add tomatoes, avocado and chopped cilantro. Cover and refrigerate.

Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet. Crush garlic and saute in oil until fragrant. Remove cloves when brown. Fry bread until golden on each side.

Serve gazpacho with a dollop of ceviche in center and toasts (and extra ceviche!) on the side.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Pig Roast

As promised, here are a few shots of the pig roast. I've figured out a way to get the photos off my camera without actually finding the cord, so expect more blog posts soon!

wrapped in tin foil and chicken wire, stuffed with plums
after cooking underground, unearthed

ready to dig in

digging in

Blog Widget by LinkWithin