Sunday, March 30, 2008

Simply asparagus

1 bunch of asparagus (about 12), rinsed
pat of butter
slice of lemon
pinch of salt

Break off any woody, white bottoms on the asparagus spears.

Steam them in a basket over boiling water until bright green.
Fill a saucepan half way with water and bring to a boil. Add the asparagus cook for until bright green, about two minutes. Pull out the asparagus.

While the still hot, toss them with butter and sprinkle with salt and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Spicy veggie coucous

A busy day. A craving for something flavorful. An easy solution. You can adjust the recipe according to your fridge and veggies you have on hand.

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, sliced thinly
1 red bell pepper, sliced
salt and pepper
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
3 cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 medium carrots, sliced into rounds
2 cups courge or winter squash, peeled and cut into chunks
2 zucchini, cut into thick rounds
2-3 cups stock (or water + 2 cubes chicken or beef bouillon))
1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained
1 cup raisins

Heat oil in a large saucepan with a lid over medium heat. Wait two minutes, then add onions and bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes or until the onions are tender. Add salt and pepper, curry, cayenne, cloves and cinnamon and stir to coat.

Add the carrots, winter squash, zucchini and stock/water almost to the top of the veggies. Turn the heat to low, cover, and adjust the heat to a simmer. Cook until the carrots are tender, 20 to 30 minutes.

Add the chickpeas and raisins and cook for another 10 minutes, adding liquid just to the top of veggies as needed. Taste and add salt or seasonings if needed.

Serve immediately hot couscous.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Pesto-pepper tarte

1 prepared pastry crust
1/2 cup basil pesto
2 roasted red peppers, sliced
1/2 cup sliced button mushrooms
1/2 cup mozzarella, sliced thinly

Roll out the crust on a baking sheet or pizza stone. Using a plastic spatula, spreads the pesto evenly on the crust, leaving an 1/2 inch border. Top with peppers and mushrooms, then mozzarella. Bake in pre-hreated oven at 350° for 15-20 minutes or until cheese begins to brown.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Roasted eggplant dip

Also known as Baba Ghanoush, this Middle Eastern dip is made from roasted eggplant and eaten with pita bread.

2 large eggplants (about 2 lbs)
3 Tbsp olive oil + a little more
2 garlic cloves, crushed
juice from one lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Rinse the eggplants and dry well. Rub with olive oil. Poke small holes into them so the steam will be able to escape. Place in a baking dish, then in a preheated oven at 475°.

Roast until very tender, about 20 minutes, turning occasionally. Once the eggplants have 'deflated' remove and let cool.

Scoop the flesh out of the dark skin. Combine olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and salt. Pulse with stick blender until the eggplant for a few seconds until smoother, but still textured.

Let the dip sit for an hour. Taste, then season with lemon juice and garlic as needed. Serve with pita bread, crackers, baguette or veggie sticks.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Baked beast of a salmon

Salmon with garlic mayonnaise (aïoli) served with grated carrots and sliced cucumber salad

I probably could have come up with a more appetizing title for this recipe, but that would fit as well? We bought a whole salmon (minus head and innards) that weighed about 3 lbs. It barely fit in our little oven! What a beast. A delicious beast.

3 lb fresh salmon* (bones in - better flavor and more calcium)
5-6 thin lemon slices
4 pats of butter
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed

Rinse the salmon well under cold water. Layer the lemon slices, garlic and butter inside the fish. Place in a large baking dish and bake in preheated oven at 475° for about 20 minutes.

Here's an excellent guide from Beyond Salmon:

Check the fish for doneness by inserting a knife between the backbone and the top fillet and lifting the fillet slightly off the bone. If the flesh does not want to separate from the bone, cook the fish a few minutes longer and check again. Remember that the fish continues to cook after it’s off the heat, so it should be removed from the heat when a trace of translucency still remains in the center and you encounter a bit of resistance near the backbone bone when you try to lift the fillet.

Once your fish is done, cut along the backbone to separate into two flat halves. Cut each half into serving size. Serve with garlic mayonnaise. What a beast.

* If you buy a frozen fish, allow it to thaw overnight in the fridge.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Amazing mayonnaise

Mayonnaise is one of the five French "mother sauces", which means that is it the basis for a range of other sauces including garlic mayonnaise or "aioli"

You will need:
- 1 egg
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- a whisk, an electric hand whisk, a blender, mixer or food processor.

Good to know:
Mayonnaise is an emulsion (a mixture of two different liquids that do not usually combine together and they tend to separate immediately).

1. Beat the egg.
2. Continue whisking and slowly add small drops of oil, one at a time. If the oil is added too quickly, the two liquids will just separate.
3. The mixture will beging to emulsify, or thicken. Keep whisking!
4. Once thickening, you can add the rest of the oil a little faster.
5. Once all the oil has been whisked in, stir in lemon juice .and Dijon.

Bonus step: To make garlic mayonnaise (aïoli) add a clove of crushed garlic. Yum!

Serve with fish, roasted or grilled meats, over salads or an sandwiches. Okay, serve it pretty much anywhere.

Pork roast for snacking

The best part about buying a pork roast on a good sale is that there's no pressure to lake it into a work of art to justify the price. I picked one up the other day at a great price and decided to skip the fancy details and go basic. We'd snack on roasted pork with fresh French bread for dinner - and maybe even eat it with our fingers. Brilliant idea.

2-3 lb pork roast (I used shoulder)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp cracked pepper
Crushed garlic
3 onions, quartered
Garlic mayonnaise (opt, but recommended!)

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over med-high heat. Sear the mroast for about 15 seconds on each side or until mostly white instead of pink.

Combine the herbs, pepper and garlic. Pat onto the roast, covering well. Place in a large baking dish. Place onions around the roast and sprinkle with 1/4 water.

Bake in preheated oven at 350° until the thickest part of the roast registers 160° using an internal thermometer. Baste with juices every 20 minutes. Be careful not to not overbake! Let roast cool before slicing for sandwiches with garlic mayonnaise...or just dig in with your fingers as soon as cool enough to handle!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Orange sesame seed chicken

1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 cups thinly sliced chicken
Oil, for frying

1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

Combine orange juice, vinegar, salt, sugar and soy sauce in a large pot. Cook over medium-high heat for about 20 minutes or until it thickens to thin honey. Watch carefully to prevent mixture from boiling over. Set aside.

Mix flour, salt and pepper in a bowl. Coat chicken with flour mixture and shake off excess. Pour oil into a large pot to a depth of 3 inches. Heat oil to 350 degrees. Deep fry chicken until crisp and brown, about 5 minutes. Remove chicken from oil and drain on paper towels. Place in a large mixing bowl. Pour sesame sauce over chicken and mix well. Add sesame seeds, tossing well to coat. Serve over hot rice.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Authentic Hungarian Goulash

A recipe from my favorite babushka in Budapest.

1 lb pork stew meat, cubed
1 lb beef stew meat, cubed
1 large onion, chopped
3 Tbsp paprika
2 tsp carraway seeds
1/2 tsp pepper
2 carrots, diced
2 parsnips, diced
2-3 sweet peppers, diced
4 med potatoes, diced
2-3 cloves, crushed
2 tsp beef bouillon
1-2 Tbsp oil

Over high heat in a large pot, brown beef and pork in oil.

In a second pan, sauté the onions to yellow. Add onions to meat. Add paprika, garlic, salt (about 1/4 tsp), carraway seeds, pepper and bouillon. Add 1 quart of water. Simmer for 30 minutes on low heat.

Add carrots, parsnips and sweet peppers. Simmer 30 minutes.

Add potatoes and simmer another 30 minutes.

Taste the liquid and add more spices, salt and pepper as needed. Serve with crusty bread or croutons.